Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

Scent Sample Sunday: JD Mimosa Mixte

I’m a fan of Jeffrey Dame and his fragrances; they are well-crafted, high-quality, and reasonably priced. I love Duality and Black Flower Mexican Vanilla. I really like Vanille Farfelue. The JD fragrances are created with perfumer Hugh Spencer, a longtime collaborator of Jeffrey Dame’s. The JD website lists Mimosa Mixte’s notes as mandarin, basil, bergamot, mimosa, violet, ylang ylang, heliotrope, sandalwood, vanilla and musk. Fragrantica classes it as a “floral woody musk”; a number of commenters refer to it as a “yellow floral”, and I agree with that, given the prominence of mimosa and ylang ylang.

When I first apply Mimosa Mixte, I smell a mix of green and yellow notes, which I believe are the basil, bergamot, and mimosa. I wouldn’t be able to pick out mandarin as a note, but there is a juiciness to the opening that I’m sure it has contributed. The basil note is subtle, but it’s definitely there, which I love. I wish basil appeared in more fragrances! The mimosa continues into the heart phase, while the greener notes fade away pretty quickly. It is joined by ylang ylang, and this is the truly “yellow” stage of Mimosa Mixte. The heliotrope is also noticeable, and it lends a powdery softness to the heart of the fragrance, which is also noticeably sweet. Not sugary, not gourmand, but a sweetness that is reminiscent of honey and nectar. Intriguingly, one can buy “mimosa honey” which is created when bees forage among mimosa trees. The next time I go to a local farmer’s market, I’ll have to see if I can buy some for comparisons.

The heart phase lasts a good while, at least a full hour, and the base notes tiptoe in almost imperceptibly, until one realizes that ylang ylang and heliotrope have made their quiet exit and the mimosa is now accompanied by a pleasantly vanilla-forward base. I don’t really smell sandalwood per se, but there is a pleasant woodiness to the base, softened by musk and vanilla. Longevity and sillage are good but not extraordinary. On the other hand, I’ve been dabbing a small oil sample on my wrist; longevity and sillage might be more extensive if I were spraying eau de parfum (the formulation in the larger bottles).

One commenter on Fragrantica compared Mimosa Mixte to Penhaligon’s Ostara, which is one of my top favorits (yes, I have back-up bottles). I can see why they might remind someone of each other, but I don’t think they are very much alike. What they have in common is their yellowness. But in Ostara, that is based on daffodils and reminds me of pollen, while in Mimosa Mixte, it is based on mimosa and ylang ylang, and it reminds me of nectar.

I like Mimosa Mixte very much! I don’t feel compelled to buy a full bottle to join its siblings in my collection, Duality, Vanille Farfelue, and Labdanum Doux. I would probably go for Black Flower Mexican Vanilla next ahead of this. But it’s very pleasant, a great value, and a fragrance that shows the creative intelligence behind it. If you’re inclined to support an independent American perfumer, any of these would be a good choice!

Do you have any fragrances by Jeffrey Dame? Any favorites?

Perfume Chat Room, October 9

Perfume Chat Room, October 9

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, October 9, and it has been a wet and gloomy day here. However, that inspired me to pull out a favorite fragrance I haven’t worn in a while: Penhaligon’s Blasted Bloom. Although I often think of a sunlit day when I wear it, today it just suited the somewhat British weather.

In other news, I got my absentee ballot this week, filled it out, dropped it off in an official ballot drop box at the entrance to my local public library, and was just able to confirm online that it has been received and “accepted”! It was very easy and very safe.

How was your week? Any new or rediscovered favorites?

Scent Sample Sunday: Miss Dior

Scent Sample Sunday: Miss Dior

I always love a good chypre, and I love seriously green fragrances, and those two traits often travel together. So I admit, it’s a little odd that I hadn’t yet tried vintage Miss Dior, given that its vintage formula includes many of my favorite notes and it is most certain a green floral chypre. Well, I was able to get my hands on one of the houndstooth bottles of Miss Dior eau de toilette, and this is love.

Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: Top notes are aldehydes, gardenia, galbanum, clary sage and bergamot; middle notes are carnation, iris, orris root, jasmine, neroli, lily-of-the-valley, rose and narcissus; base notes are labdanum, leather, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, oakmoss and vetiver. To my nose, the most prominent of the opening notes are the galbanum and clary sage, with a soupcon of aldehydes. I don’t pick up bergamot or gardenia at all, and that may be because of my bottle’s age, although it is in excellent condition. Some top notes seem to disappear from vintage fragrances.

Happily for me, the galbanum is alive, well, and kicking! I love galbanum, and that’s a big part of what attracted me to trying Miss Dior. It also suits the weather at this time of year, where I live. Early October is usually dry, with a crisp nip in the air in the evenings and in the morning, bracketing warm sunny days with clear blue skies. In the heart phase of its drydown, I mostly smell carnation, narcissus, iris, and orris root, which is just fine because those are also favorite notes. These floral notes are so well-blended, though, that it’s hard to sense them apart and I don’t doubt that the other listed notes are present.

Among the base notes, the oakmoss is most prominent, which I also love. The final stage of Miss Dior is both warm and cold, in an intriguing way. The warmth is supplied by labdanum, sandalwood, and amber; the cool is generated by vetiver and oakmoss, with patchouli bridging the gap between the warmth and the cooler notes. This is so clever in how perfectly it captures the spirit of the young women M. Dior saw as his ideal models and customers. One author who has written about Dior’s aesthetic notes: “For all its charm, Dior’s vision of feminine style relied on a certain calculated hauteur. But the relationship that he shared with the many women in his life was characterized by an unusual closeness.” The fragrance brilliantly captures both hauteur and intimacy, like the come-hither but not-too-close impression of one of his muses, Grace Kelly. It was named after the woman who may have been his most important inspiration: his own beloved younger sister, Catherine Dior, a genuine heroine of the French Resistance who suffered terribly as a prisoner of the Nazis from 1944-1945. After the war, she turned her love of flowers, shared by her brother, into a commercial enterprise as a broker of flowers.

Victoria at “Bois de Jasmin” has written a wonderful review of Miss Dior that gives a brief history:

The birth of Miss Dior coincides with Christian Dior’s first fashion show held in a salon on the avenue Montaigne in Paris on February 12th, 1947. In a rebellious move against the austerity imposed by the cloth rations and the angular lines of wartime fashions, Dior showcased the strikingly feminine collection of cinched waists, softly rounded shoulders and voluminous ankle length skirts. “It’s quite a revolution, dear Christian. Your dresses have such a new look,” remarked Carmel Snow, editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar. New Look became a phrase that would symbolize this collection, which resuscitated the French fashion industry and led to Dior receiving the Legion of Honor from the French government.

When I think of how the woman personified by Miss Dior might look, I think of Cate Blanchett’s wardrobe in the film “The Talented Mr. Ripley.” If you’ve never seen that, I highly recommend it. It has a wonderful cast, a twisting, turning plot, and gorgeous design in all aspects: cinematography and wardrobe being standouts. Ms. Blanchett’s character, Meredith Logue, is an old-money American socialite, who wears couture clothes with the nipped waist and full skirt that are so closely associated with Christian Dior and his “New Look.”

I’m really enjoying vintage Miss Dior! My longtime Dior fragrance love has always been Diorissimo, but this little houndstooth bottle of Miss Dior is making me very happy. I know many fragrance aficionados rage against the reformulations of Dior fragrances in recent decades under LVMH’s ownership — do you like any of the current versions?

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

Scent Sample Sunday: Automne

I said in Friday’s Perfume Chat Room that I would write today about Van Cleef & Arpels’ Automne, and then I realized I already had, a few years back!

Fragrance Friday: Les Saisons Automne.

What special fragrances return again and again to your seasonal rotations?

Scent Sample Sunday: Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain

Scent Sample Sunday: Diptyque 34 Boulevard Saint Germain

Today’s scent sample is one I am surprisingly close to “thunking”, which I hadn’t expected. I was given a house sample of Diptyque’s 34 Boulevard Saint Germain with my purchase of the house’s Eau Rose hair mist. I was happy to have it, but didn’t anticipate much from it. It has been sitting on my bedside table with some other samples, so I pulled it out earlier this week when I was settling in for my usual bedtime reading. At first spray, I thought to myself, “this is VERY pleasant.” As I continued reading, I periodically sniffed my wrist, and thought, “this is still REALLY nice.” And when I woke up the next morning, having had it on my skin by then for several hours, it STILL smelled really good.

So I did that again the next night. And the next, including last night. And here I am, on a Sunday morning, writing about it as my sample of the week. What is it like, and why am I liking it so much?

34 BSG is classed by Fragrantica as a “chypre floral”, created in 2011 by perfumer Olivier Pescheux to mark the 50th anniversary of Diptyque. It lists the notes as follows: top notes: blackcurrant, green leaves, fir leaf, citruses, pink pepper, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon; heart: rose, geranium, tuberose, iris and violet; base: woods, resins, balsams and eucalyptus. M. Pescheux has created many fragrances for many houses, covering a wide range of prestige and cost, but he has specifically created at least fifteen fragrances for Diptyque. 34 BSG is meant to evoke the complex smell of Diptyque’s first store, which was located at 34 Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris.

I think what makes me like 34 BSG right away is the lively opening dominated, to my nose, by blackcurrant, green notes, and cardamom, all notes I love in fragrance. Hovering behind those are more notes I enjoy: fir leaf, citruses, and cloves. I don’t pick up much pepper or cinnamon, just general spiciness. Of the floral heart notes, the one I smell most strongly is the tuberose, but it is pretty subtle, unlike the way I experience many tuberose fragrances where that is the dominant note. So if you’d like a scent with tuberose but prefer it in small doses, this might be a good option for you, as it is for me. The theme of green notes, given lift and sparkle in the opening by the citruses, blackcurrant, and fir leaf, continues in the heart by way of the geranium note.

The subtlety of the tuberose, combined with the woods, resins, and green notes, also makes this an absolutely unisex fragrance. As I’ve been wearing it over the last few days, I’ve wondered whether I might like it even more on my husband. As it dries down, that lively opening gives way to subtle floral notes, and quite soon those give way to a very warm and comforting base, with its woody notes, resins, balsams, and a touch of eucalyptus to carry on the green leitmotif. That base is what persists until the morning on my skin, when I apply 34 BSG at night — a good 8-10 hours’ longevity, which is excellent for an eau de toilette!

I haven’t really delved into Diptyque fragrances, partly due to their prices and the fact that they rarely go on sale (I’m allergic to paying full retail prices for fragrance). But I’m very taken with this one, in addition to Eau Rose and Eau Rose in the hair mist formulation. I know some of my regular readers are big fans of Philosykos. Any others?

Featured image from PSLABS.

Scent Sample Sunday: Diorella

Scent Sample Sunday: Diorella

Christian Dior’s Diorella was created in 1972 by the legendary perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, a sibling of his masterpiece Diorissimo. It is one of the fragrances awarded five stars by Turin and Sanchez in their book “Perfumes: The A-Z Guide.” Although they docked one star from it in their 2009 update, they still found it excellent. I have a bottle of Diorella that I think dates to 2002, according to the guidelines described in the “Raiders of the Lost Scent” blog (a great resource).

It smells great! Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Silences

Scent Sample Sunday: Silences

One of the regular readers here mentioned recently wearing Silences, and Portia from “Australian Perfume Junkies” and I immediately oohed and aahed over it. So today’s scent sample is Jacomo’s classic fragrance, the original Silences.

Magazine ad for fragrance Jacomo Silences

Jacomo Silences, original ad (1978).

Silences was launched in 1978, and it fits right in with the green, woody, chypre vibe of so many classic fragrances from that decade. I’ve realized that my scent tastes seem to have been formed mostly in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was a child; given how deeply scent is linked to our subconscious, it makes sense that the fragrances of one’s childhood have particular impact. (To be clear, I own and love MANY later fragrances, but I find that I am really drawn to chypres, for instance, and to retro florals).

Fragrantica lists its notes as follows: Top notes — orange blossom, galbanum, bergamot, lemon, green notes and cassia; middle notes — iris, jasmine, narcissus, hyacinth, rose and lily-of-the-valley; base notes — vetiver, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss, cedar and ambrette (musk mallow). This list refers to the original and classic Silences, which was reissued in 2004. There is a new version, called Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, which was issued in 2012. I appreciate, by the way, that the brand didn’t just reformulate and pretend that the new version was the same Silences. It’s easy to tell them apart, both from the name and from the packaging; Silences Sublime comes in a similar iconic round black bottle, but the lettering on it is completely different. It has excellent reviews online, but it doesn’t seem to be widely available in the US, unlike classic Silences, which can be found online for bargain prices. One can order it directly for delivery to Europe and a few other countries from the Jacomo brand website.

And Silences is a true bargain beauty! You have to like dry green chypres to enjoy it, though. It opens with galbanum leading the charge, a soupcon of bergamot floating in its wake. I don’t smell orange blossom at all, and while I’m sure the other listed top notes are there, because the opening is multi-faceted and complex, most of what I clearly smell is the combination of galbanum and bergamot, with galbanum dominating. As it dries down, two of my favorite flowers emerge: narcissus and hyacinth. The dry greenness of the galbanum persists, though I also get a hint of lily of the valley (another favorite flower). There’s a soft green earthiness that I have come to associate with iris root. I don’t smell any jasmine or rose in this middle phase.

Silences has often been compared to Chanel No. 19 in its eau de toilette version and for good reason. Their notes are almost identical, though in slightly different order and emphasis. No. 19 was created by the master Henri Robert in 1970, who also created 1974’s Chanel Cristalle. The perfumer behind Silences was Gerard Goupy, working at Givaudan with Jean-Charles Niel. Interestingly, M. Goupy was also the nose behind Lancome’s Climat, created in 1967, which in its vintage form is another green floral, though its opening is strongly aldehydic, unlike these later chypres. He also created Lancome’s Magie Noire in 1978, which has many of the same notes, also in a different order, but adding notes like spices and incense, honey and civet; it too is considered a chypre but more floral than green or woody. Victoria at “Bois de Jasmin” points out that its particular genius lies in the tension of combining its oriental and chypre accords.

So although one might be tempted to pigeonhole Silences as a bargain shadow of No. 19, it is not. Look at the sequence above: 1967: Goupy’s Climat; 1970: Robert’s No. 19; 1974: Robert’s Cristalle; 1978: Goupy’s Silences. Add in Bernard Chant’s creations for Estee Lauder, 1969’s Azuree and 1971’s Clinique Aromatics Elixir, and you see the fragrance zeitgeist of the time, with several gifted French perfumers exploring facets of dry, woody, green, bitter, mossy, dark, earthy scents — very fitting, for an era that also brought the environmental movement, the first “Earth Day” in 1970, and many landmark environmental protection laws.

Where does Silences fit on the scent spectrum? To my nose, it is more of a bitter green than the others, because of the strong galbanum opening. I love galbanum, so this delights me. It doesn’t have the leather notes that some of the others listed above have, or some of the animalic notes (it does list musk, but that may be based more on the base note of ambrette, or musk mallow plant).  Bitter, yes, but I don’t find Silences aggressive overall, as some commenters do. The opening is sharply green, but its final drydown phase becomes quite gentle and earthy while staying green, probably due to the combination of oakmoss, vetiver and sandalwood, softened by the ambrette. The complexity of its base accord is revealed in that today, I sprayed both my wrists at the same time. One wrist smells more strongly green and mossy, and the other more like a sweetish sandalwood with some lingering hyacinth.

The floral notes in Silences are quite reticent. The only ones I really smell are the narcissus and hyacinth, with a hint of muguet, all of which are quite green in their own right. So if it’s a more floral green you seek, I suggest you try No. 19 or Cristalle. Fruit? Aside from the bergamot opening note, which is subtle, there is no fruit here AT ALL. Sweet? Nope. Look elsewhere for fruity florals, or gourmands.

Have you tried Silences? Do you like green fragrances?

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Man

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Man

I recently reviewed Amouage’s Beach Hut Woman, as it was one of the few scents I took with me on our recent beach vacation, so today I decided to wear Beach Hut Man and compare them. It has prompted some introspection on my part, because it smells really “masculine” to me, and I’m not quite sure why! Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Woman

Scent Sample Sunday: Beach Hut Woman

We’ve been at the beach this past week, and I took with me a few beach-appropriate fragrances. The one I wore most was Amouage’s Beach Hut Woman. It wasn’t exactly that I loved it so much, though I do like it a lot. I was trying to figure it out. The company website lists the same notes as Fragrantica: top notes of a mineral accord and bergamot; middle notes of  a “driftwood” accord and a molecule called “lisylang”; base notes of patchouli and cashmeran.

First, what is “lisylang”? Continue reading

Perfume Chat Room, July 10

Perfume Chat Room, July 10

Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.

Today is Friday, July 10, and we are going to the beach! Continue reading