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: 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

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose Flash

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose Flash

Another “Aaah” fragrance moment. Rose Flash was created by Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer for his “Tauerville” line. It is one of perfumery’s great value buys, as it is made in 20% fragrance concentration, i.e. parfum extrait strength, and its quality is very high. (Buying it also supports an independent artisan perfumer, which, as Brigitte has commented, is important and especially so during this downturn).

Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose 31

Roses de Mai Marathon: Rose 31

Sometimes I read reviews or comments about fragrance that I just don’t understand. Take, for instance, cumin. Many commenters smell cumin as “sweaty” or dirty. I never understood that, because I like to cook, and sometimes I cook with cumin, and it never smelled sweaty to me. Until I tried Le Labo’s Rose 31. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: Geranium Bourbon

Roses de Mai Marathon: Geranium Bourbon

So many of the rose fragrances I own lean to the traditionally feminine side (if you feel that the more flowery or powdery scents are more feminine) that I think I need to balance things with a rose that may feel more unisex or even masculine. I myself believe that people of any gender can wear any fragrance, but the men in my household beg to differ. Take that with a grain of salt, though; one is my teenaged son, who only a few years ago thought Axe was the greatest fragrance he could wear (!!) and the other is my husband, who wears Mennen Skin Bracer and Old Spice when I don’t prod him to try something I’ve given him. Continue reading

Roses de Mai Marathon: La Fille de Berlin

Roses de Mai Marathon: La Fille de Berlin

Serge Lutens’ La Fille de Berlin is a straight-up Rose with a capital R.  The first hint of what you’ll smell is the color of the juice in the bottle — a deep, purply red. Continue reading

Scent Sample Sunday: Meet Me On The Corner

Scent Sample Sunday: Meet Me On The Corner

There are times when I am reminded that there is SO MUCH about English experience that is completely unfamiliar to me, in spite of having had an English mother. Of course, she came to America in the early 1950s, married my father and stayed, so much of her actual English experience predates 1960, and after that it was secondhand, mostly via her younger sister who was a model and actress during the era of “London Swings” (in fact, the second wife of Bernard Lewis, of “Chelsea Girl” fame). I bring this up because I am a devotee of the fragrances created by Sarah McCartney under her brand “4160 Tuesdays“, and was recently intrigued by her latest crowdfunding project, Meet Me On The Corner.

According to Sarah, this fragrance was inspired by a song of the same name that reached number 1 in the UK pop charts in 1972, by a folk rock group named Lindisfarne. I had never heard of the group, or the song, but Sarah’s story of how they reunited annually for many years for a Christmas concert in Newcastle, starting in 1976, and the inspiration she drew from their best-known song, were so charming that I took part in this year’s crowdfunding of the scent. Sarah has been thinking about this fragrance for a long time, as noted in this 2014 interview with CaFleureBon. Her latest commentary about it is here:

And now I have my very own bottle of Meet Me On The Corner, and I love it! (I also got the seasonal scent she mentions in the video, Christmas Concert, and will review that later this week after I attend an actual Christmas concert).

Meet Me On The Corner is a citrus chypre meant to evoke the fragrances that were popular in the 1970s like Sarah’s favorite Diorella, before the Blitzkrieg of 1980s powerhouses like Giorgio Beverly Hills — comparable to folk rock giving way to glam rock and its 1980s offspring. The 1971 song itself, which I hadn’t heard before, is a sweet, self-consciously folksy derivative of Bob Dylan’s 1965 Mr. Tambourine Man; of the versions on YouTube, I prefer the 2003 edition:

This is the refrain that inspired Sarah:

Meet me on the corner,
When the lights are coming on,
And I’ll be there.
I promise I’ll be there.
Down the empty streets,
We’ll disappear into the dawn,
If you have dreams enough to share.

So what is the fragrance like? It opens with a really pretty citrus, very lemony but not only lemon. There is another, less sweet citrus note which seems to be bergamot, but I clearly smell lemon too — not so much the fruit, but more like lemon zest and lemon tree. Maybe citron or petitgrain? Sarah says that the fragrance includes a peach lactone (a key ingredient of Edmond Roudnitska’s 1972 Diorella as well as Guerlain’s legendary ur-chypre, Mitsouko), flowery hedione (central to another Roudnitska masterpiece, the 1966 Eau Sauvage), and magnolia leaf. Here is what one producer says about the latter: it “exudes an aroma that is greener, more crisp and woody than the sweet scent of Magnolia Flower. The aroma of this rare Magnolia grandiflora leaf essential oil is clean and refined. Magnolia leaf is quite intriguing with hints of fig, bergamot and myrtle.”

As an official “notes list” isn’t yet available, I will offer a layperson’s guess and say that top notes include bergamot, citron, petitgrain; heart notes include peach, jasmine, fig, magnolia leaf, green notes (myrtle?); base notes include musk, woody and resinous notes (labdanum?), vetiver or oakmoss. I hope someone will issue a correct list! Meet Me At The Corner is a unisex fragrance, as befits the sometimes androgynous 1970s. It neatly combines aspects of Diorella and Eau Sauvage; this might be their love-child. It is bright and sunny, youthful without being sweet. It is, as Sarah has written, a fragrance to be “worn by women in jeans and men with long hair who scandalised our Edwardian grandparents.”

As I learned more about the song, the era, and Lindisfarne’s Christmas concerts, begun to raise funds for Newcastle City Hall, a concert venue, I also learned about the deep poverty that still afflicted Newcastle upon Tyne and its Dickensian slums in the 1970s, so well documented by photographer Nick Hedges for the UK charity Shelter. I also found this marvelous photo of the Pilgrim Street fire station in Newcastle in 1972, and I am guessing this may be the one that Sarah describes frequenting with her friends as teenagers:

Fire station on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle, UK, 1972, with pedestrians

Newcastle Fire Station 1972; image from Newcastle Chronicle.

Sarah has said on the 4160 Tuesdays website that Meet Me On The Corner will likely return as a regular offering in 2020, so keep an eye out for it; you can keep up with news on the 4160 Tuesdays Facebook page. It will be worth the wait!

Teenaged girls wearing tie-dyed clothing, 1970s, Doreen Spooner

Tye-dye girls, Doreen Spooner/Getty Images