Monday, December 19, 2011
For months now, I've felt there's something wrong with me. I was kept pretty thrilled by fragrances for a good four years, consistently surprised, enthused, and engaged. It's been a real passion for me. Every day I packed a perfume bag the way some would pack a lunch. I'd sit at work sniffing one bottle after another. I'd have four to five different things on, making comparisons. I made my co-worker sneeze.
Suddenly, I wasn't so interested. I went from buying samples and bottles on a regular basis, sniffing religiously, to a dry state of affairs where maybe every month or so I might make a single purchase, and I started visiting my perfume cabinet so infrequently it might have been a lost wing in a massive house. It's been weird.
I couldn't imagine that the fragrance industry turned overwhelmingly boring overnight, so I thought it must be me. Maybe I'd gone fickle. Maybe I'm prone to boredom. I know now that it isn't really me, because the fragrances that always surprised, enthused, and delighted me are still doing so. And I guess I don't care too much to parse all the vagaries of the industry to determine what's happening on that end, when really the bottom line is that most of what comes out now feels uninspired or insulting. Otherwise I think I'd be writing more - about my dissatisfaction, if nothing else. The fact that I can't even be bothered to write about that is the biggest surprise, and disappointment, of all to me. I feel the industry has finally turned a corner, where restrictions and cost-cutting have crystallized into banality and bottom line as standard practice.
I thought about doing posts during all this. I thought, okay, so if I still love the same fragrances, what are they? What would be my 25 desert island scents. Granted, 25 makes for a pretty cushy island, but narrowing down to ten, while it makes for good type, has always been a struggle for me. Even 25 seemed like a waste of time. How often had I written about these fragrances, anyway? How much more could I have to say?
I say all this mainly to give you some context for how even a simple, well made scent can seem like a revelation these days for me. Back in October, for instance, I was in LA, and someone who didn't think much of it handed me a bottle of Amorvero. I'm not sure what I might have thought about it two years ago, but in October I liked it instantly. How much my liking it had to do with this dry spell I can't say, and I resisted writing about Amorvero until now because I didn't trust the pleasure it gave me.
After all, Amorvero isn't exactly anything new. It's a throwback to the big picture vanillic florientals of the eighties, really - recalling things like Poison and Giorgio, among others. But while many perfumistas look back to the pre-fifties fragrances as the benchmark for quality fragrances, the eighties are really my decade of choice in many ways. Many of my top 25 scents came out of that era, and I would gladly trade some of the things I've bought from recent years for eighties fragrances I want but don't own.
Amorvero reminds me most of 24, Faubourg, a fragrance released in 1995 which feels more like an eighties scent itself. Like Faubourg, Amorvero buttresses tuberose and jasmine with vanilla and amber on one end and citrus notes on the other. Like Faubourg, it lasts all day. A simple story, Amorvero, but the pleasures are pretty complex. Each time I return to the scent I find new things to like in it. The thing is an immediate mood lifter, and adds a level of drama to the dreariest frame of mind.
Amorvero was created for a hotel I've never heard of in Rome, the Hassler. I believe it was in 2000. The perfumer is Lorenzo Dante Ferro. I can't see where one finds the stuff, other than a website I googled online. It would be hard to track down and try. I'm sorry. But I was glad to find it, and in comparison to most of the dreck currently being released, it's something of a Godsend for me.
There isn't much about it on perfume blogs, though I was happy to see, in the middle of writing this, that Cafeleurebon just wrote about it several days ago. I like that it goes against current trends in perfumery, because those trends are really bringing me down. And while I'm not yet sure it would enter my top 25, it has a lot in common with another fragrance favorite on that list, Miss Balmain.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
This Week's Random Thoughts ~
Note to perfume companies: I have an idea. Let’s not use the word chypre anymore since this category no longer exists.
I have been wearing Kate Walsh Boyfriend off and on all week. I like it. But I desperately want to tweak it! I want to amplify the patchouli-woods-chocolate to make it less of a vanilla fragrance. It smells good, don’t get me wrong, but I just want to make it more than vanilla (which always makes me hungry).
So, after wearing Boyfriend, I went into an all-out frenzy over patchouli-vanilla-chocolate fragrances. In the end, I realized I swoon every time for Serge Lutens Borneo 1834. Chanel Coromandel does it for me, too, but Borneo is even more decadent. What are your favorite sweet patchouli bombs (patch-vanilla-chocolate especially)?
Just about the only thing I buy from Bath & Body Works are candles. And I simply cannot wait for their Holiday sale every year when I buy their huge 14.5 oz candles for just $10! Today I ordered so many candles, online no less (no schlepping heavy candles around the mall) with free shipping (DecShip50)! How cool is this sale?
Almost everyone on American Horror Story is now a ghost.
I forced myself to finish We Need to Talk About Kevin because I enjoy Tilda Swinton but this was up there with Drive as one of the slowest, most draining movies I've ever seen. And, no, I have not seen Tree of Life or Melancholia or Martha, Marcy, May, Marlene and at this point I’ll need some strong convincing to bother. I thought We Need to Talk About Kevin would be fascinating, it’s about a woman destroyed by raising a child who is a sociopath. Sadly, the film is incoherent and dreadfully slow.
I highly recommend The Sister’s Brothers by Patrick DeWitt. The writing and characters are among the most memorable I’ve read all year.
My book club’s assignment for February is 11/22/63 byStephen King. This is going to be the book that breaks me and causes me to buy a Kindle! It’s so heavy and huge (only in hardcover right now) and I’m now in the market for a Kindle so I don’t have to “heft” that book around.
I learned how to perfectly poach an egg this week and it’s my new favorite thing. I don’t use any device just gently pour the egg into almost boiling water. I dislike “runny” egg yolk, which I realize is perhaps the whole point of poached eggs, but nevertheless I cook mine an extra 2 minutes making sure the yolk is soft but not oozing (gags). A poached egg on whole wheat toast with salt, pepper and paprika can be one of the most delectably simple meals.
Top perfumes for me this week: (in addition to above mentioned stuff) Love, Chloe Eau Intense, DSH Mahjoun, Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea, M. Micallef Gaiac and original Prada.
I haven’t seen The Muppet Movie yet but I want to. I'll see The Muppet's along with Hugo and Tin Tin next week during family time (aka 'escape from family' time).
Saturday, December 10, 2011
The recent 10 additions to Dior’s exclusive range have been met with lukewarm reviews at best. Each fragrance in Dior La Collection could easily be called “good” but what most perfume enthusiasts are reacting to is that fact that the exclusive range should, by definition, be a step above mainstream releases.
If Dior Mitzah was instead a new mainstream release from Dior, available at every Sephora worldwide, which is to say easy to find, and available in smaller less expensive bottles, I would think many perfume enthusiasts and bloggers would have sung its praises.
I’m going to put aside expectations of what a fragrance in Dior’s exclusive range should smell like and instead evaluate Mitzah as ‘any old’ perfume released in 2010. Here’s the thing: Dior Mitzah is a beautiful amber. It isn’t particularly unique and I’d classify it as a functional fragrance, but it’s one helluvah gorgeous and wearable amber oriental.
I’ve noticed myself leaning towards functional fragrances over the past year. In an effort to pare down my collection (somewhat) I’ve begun pinpointing those fragrances I love and readily wear from within each fragrance category. I have a lot of amber orientals. Over the years, amber orientals have been my truest love. Recently, a great number of my favorite amber fragrances suddenly smelled too sweet, a little cloying and very, very, musty-dusty to me. I can’t explain this change and believe me it was a pretty sad realization at first. What I’ve come to find is that I now require a very specific sort of amber fragrance. Ambers I love lately need to be fairly dry, slightly herbal, and not too heavy, with some spice and incense. The ambers I’ve been happy with this fall are Alahine, Histoires de Parfums Ambre 114, Agent Provocateur Strip, Calvin Klein Obsession and maybe one or two others I’m forgetting.
Dior Mitzah hits the spot perfectly. While it doesn’t break especially new ground, what it does for me is fix every other amber out there that’s either “too sweet” or “too heavy” or “too musty-dusty” or “too-foodie” and instead nails the perfect balance of what I think an amber oriental should be. Mitzah wears like a sheer veil instead of a blanket; it’s present yet light. Mitzah has touches of sweetness but it never reaches foodie realm. Mitzah avoids the musty-dusty aspect many ambers fall prey to (this might be due to “Ambre 83,” discussed more in two blogs listed below) . Mitzah is not a spice-fest like Ambre Sultan or Arabie, it’s much much (much) smoother. I’m telling you what it isn’t, but I should also tell that it is a velvety, dry, softly spicy herbaceous amber that is dreamy. I wasn’t blown away by Mitzah the first time I tried it because it’s quite similar to so many other ambers out there. Once you’ve smelled a few ambers, you pretty much get the idea, and everything that starts off like a typical amber seems a bit generic. Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche and Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan might stick out from the pack because they are so bold. Mitzah isn’t bold; it’s tame, functional and effortlessly wearable. I think it's gorgeous.
Notes include: coriander, cinnamon, amber, rose, patchouli, incense, vanilla, and honey
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Calvin Klein Obsession for Women launched in 1985 when I was 14 years old. I remember how profoundly the Calvin Klein brand permeated 80’s culture. I remember the scandalous Brooke Shield’s jean commercials followed by the oddly androgynous and creepy child-porn Obsession perfume commercials. I never wore Obsession when I was a teenager. I was fixated on florals and florientals. It probably wasn’t until I dove headfirst into my perfume habit in the very late 1990s (around 1999 I’d guess) when I first purchased and wore Obsession.
Lately I’ve been obsessed with Obsession (so sorry, I had to!). I’ve worn it a total of maybe 10 times since 1999 but all of a sudden over the past month I’ve worn if for days on end and I’m so impressed with it. It’s possible this new-found love for Obsession has something to do with the lack of good mainstream releases. When I compare Obsession with most celebrity scents and the latest stuff from CK, Gucci, Dior, Givenchy…well…pretty much EVERYTHING at Sephora (and almost everything which is a current bestseller) I come away thinking that Obsession is pretty fucking amazing. Obsession is a classic oriental. Truly classic. It’s also sublimely dry and unisex. It’s really a shame that Obsession is considered by many to be a “big over-the-top 80’s powerhouse” because I find it to be quite understated when not over-applied. Obsession isn’t anywhere near as sweet or powerful as most current bestsellers at Sephora such as Flowerbomb, Prada, Pink Sugar, Juicy Couture, Lolita Lempicka, Ralph Lauren Romance, Dior Miss Dior Cherie and so on. Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky (entirely possible!) but to disregard Obsession as dated or “too potent” seems short-sighted and inaccurate (or is the reformulated Obsession I now have drastically lighter?).
Recently I realized I can’t wear Shalimar but that doesn’t mean I don’t still love the idea of it. Orientals are one of my most favorite fragrance types and I especially like dry, spicy, ambery-incense type Orientals. Obsession is all this and more. It begins with the Shalimar-type citrus burst, which might be off-putting to those who don’t admire this sort of oriental. The vanilla and amber in Obsession are very close to the manner in which these notes are presented in Shalimar. This is not foodie vanilla. Obsession isn’t too-sweet and doesn’t have those jarringly synthetic musks like virtually everything launched since the early 2000s. This is a warm, spicy, ambery oriental that melds with your own personal chemistry especially in the dry down.
Vastly underrated, truly unisex, Obsession blooms then mellows into a spicy Oriental which is classic but still effortless. Obsession becomes me as opposed to the fragrance “wearing me.”
For those around my age or older, here’s a fun blast from the past (Ahh, the smell of it!)
Pretty creepy, no?!
Here's a newer commercial, I think this dates from 2001, Benicio del Toro and Heather Graham look so young!
I wonder when perfumes stop being considered "dated" and instead become enduring classics? Do you think Obsession is or will ever become a classic (be honest, I have thick skin)? Is Obsession already a classic? Do you think Coco by Chanel has made it into classic territory or is considered by most to be dated or in the dreaded "old lady" category? I'm just curious...
Thursday, December 1, 2011
The winner of the full bottle draw for the video "Fur" is Queen Cupcake. Thanks everybody for participating. It made for entertaining reading. Queen, please email me within the next week to collect your prize.
Choose from the following bottles:
Bond No.9 Lexington Avenue (50 ml)
Caron Bellodgia (50 ml)
Guerlain Samsara EDT (30 ml)
Parfums de Nicolaï Vanille Tonka (30 ml)
Ava Luxe Queen Bess (30 ml)
Caron Third Man (100 ml)
Womanity (50 ml)
Bois 1920 Classic 1920
Chanel No. 19 EDP (50 ml)
Cartier Must Pour Homme (100 ml)
Guerlain L'Instant Pour Homme (100 ml)
Estee Lauder Beautiful EDP (100 ml)