Candy, Flowers, Sex

I have a shoebox full of fragrance vials. I call it the Halloween Candy. Some of the Candy came from eBay; I buy decants. But most of the Candy came from the same incredibly generous, anonymous donor in Colorado who owns this blog. She said, hey, let me send you a few things. I knew the Colorado package was here because one of the vials had opened in transit (Frangipani? Rosine?) and my front porch smelled like a fancy brothel. I mean, the sillage from the mailbox was breathtaking.

I play a game with the Candy. It´s a good game because it helps me fulfill one of my 2006 resolutions: to buck my control-freak tendencies. I just plunge my hand in there, no peeking, and come up with something, and that’s what I’m putting on.

So here are some brief, recent impressions from the Candy box (and a few from test-drives at the perfume counter). I´m not going to cheat on any of these entries by looking up the correct spelling, actual fragrance notes, or anything else that might add to what little credibility I have left. Go ahead, laugh at my mistakes.

Santa Maria Novella Heliotropo – strong almond, heliotrope, a hint of something bready or PlayDoh-ish, and then – poof! – it´s gone. Completely. In less than 5 minutes. I repeated this test; same result. Three hours later: I am aware of a bitter, herb-y drydown that reappears, but very close to the skin. It reminds me of what´s left after some of the iPdF fragrances, which is actually quite pleasant.

Frederic Malle En Passant – bread (why bread again?) lilacs, rain, a hint of cucumber from an adjacent garden, and smelling the lilacs with my face pushed up against a cold, wet fence (chain link? Possibly iron). I find it ineffably sad, which is confusing – is this an association I have with lilacs? Beautiful but I could only wear it to cry. I´m so curious about the emotional aspect I ask my 11-year-old what she thinks. She says: “It smells like flowers and rain. It makes me feel happy and sad at the same time.” Decent sillage three hours later. Still makes me want to cry.

Shiseido Feminite du Bois – I know this is a Major Love for Patty. I think the French translates roughly to The Femininity of Wood. (If this is a howler of a mistake, have fun – I´m not going to fix it.) What I get first is lovely and strange – cedar, something sharp and turpentine-ish, lavender or rosemary, iris? And then roughly 2 minutes later, the inevitable Serge Cedar Trainwreck – whatever compound Chris Sheldrake is using (and I know, this is pre-Serge, but I´m betting it´s the same) turns into unadulterated B.O. on me, as if I´d applied it directly to my armpits post-workout. I have the identical problem with SL Bois de Violette and Iris Silver Mist. Oh, well – plenty of other things to love. Postscript: 5 hours later, right on the skin, is that unbelievable honey drydown you get if you suffer through the initial hell of Miel de Bois.

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre – a perfect-for-spring fragrance that pretty much captures its name – Powdery Iris. On me it is a light, close to the skin scent that reminds me strongly of Apres l´Ondee in terms of its initial impression (powder and a hint of violet) and in its transparence. However, in the drydown it has a bit more edge, more cedar-y and musk. Reminiscent of the great 1950s powder scents, with a twist.

Annick Goutal Eau de Camille – what kind of skin do I have? I have the kind that can transmogrify a lovely, ethereal scent into something so manifestly evil that the chic SA at my local Neiman Marcus makes a moue of distaste upon sniffing my wrist and says, hurriedly, “er, it´s not supposed to smell like that, the bottle must be spoiled.” No, madame, don´t blame Annick. It´s me. I have not the slightest idea how this is supposed to smell, but if you were here right now with me, you would smell burning rubber and trampled grass resting on a base of the merest whiff of vomit. No, I am not funning you. Four hours later: gone, mercifully.

Annick Goutal Muguet – I take back every snarky, hurtful thing I ever said about muguet (a.k.a. lily of the valley), which generally makes me think of sugared plastic. One of the AG soliflores (using the term loosely), Muguet is the precise smell of a handful of lily of the valley stems and leaves plucked from the shady spot of your yard, way back over there by the roses where the grass doesn´t grow so well, misted lightly with water, and tied with a white organdy ribbon for you to carry in a bouquet toward the altar on what is possibly the happiest day of your life. (Have I mentioned that I hate muguet perfumes?) Considering how deliciously swoony I find this, I wonder what a true muguet fan would think. If muguet is your thing, do yourself a favor and try this one. Lasts until the next morning, if I sniff for it.

Annick Goutal Folavril – Ack!! Nooooooooo, get it off me!!! White pepper, dandelion greens and the grape lollipop I found under the back seat of the van. Some masochistic impulse compels me to re-smell it. See note for Camille, above. I brought this on myself by commenting on Cait´s blog that AG scents never seem to sour on me.

S-Perfume 100% Love – I wanted to hate this. How I wanted to hate this. Rose, chocolate and incense… I find even the idea nauseating. And if you had to come up with a concept for a perfume house designed to irritate me, you´d be hard-pressed to do better (worse?) than S-Perfumes´ cutesy minimalist sperm thing. So. I opened the vial with a flourish of barely concealed contempt, affixed a sneer to my face, and waited for the punch line… which is, of course, that it was love (lust?) at first smell. 100% Love is a harlot of a fragrance, a wanton woman in a brown velvet dress flashing her red silk garters at you, so dig out that roll of $100 bills, baby, because she´s going to do things you´re too shy to ask for, and you´re going to like it. In terms of Sex in A Bottle, it´s right up there with Bal a Versailles. They have a “S-ex” perfume (they paid people to come up with that name?!) but as far as I´m concerned they must have mixed up the labels. This one goes all night on me… if you know what I mean.

jordan almonds —
rainy street – East Germany (uncredited)
hat from
lily of the valley bouquet courtesy of
Bettie Page, pinup queen –

  • Cait says:

    Wow, sorry for triple posting! March, I think they call those “screen dreams” in popular notions from psychoanalysis.There’s saudade, but that’s only used in English by virtue of Fado and Bossa Nova.

  • marchlion says:

    Hah — the famous Nombre Noir, the lost Shiseido!!! I was just, um, testing you.

    Although I DID google it and Narcisse Noir is a Caron, so I think that was every bit as likely, seeing who we’re talking about here…

  • marchlion says:

    Victoria — yes, maybe it is the sadness of nostalgia… I asked my father, is there an English word for nostalgia for some time in the past that one did not personally experience? I bet there is in Russian.

  • Cait says:

    NN is Nombre Noir by Shiseido before Serge Lutens got going on its own.

  • Cait says:

    NN is Nombre Noir by Shiseido before Serge Lutens got going on its own.

  • Cait says:

    NN is Nombre Noir by Shiseido before Serge Lutens got going on its own.

  • Victoria says:

    I find En Passant wistful, although not melancholy. There is just a tinge of sadness in it for me as well, because I keep associating the scent of lilacs with childhood and Kiev. Nostalgia….

  • marchlion says:

    Marina — I know, P is the bomb. Re FdeB — it’s definitely the cedar. All the Serges with cedar do the same thing on me, it’s evil. I didn’t write that on MUA, but glad someone else feels my pain. The 100% love is very heavy and sultry on me, even hours later. I remember reading comments that people wanted a stronger version… I’m happy with the one I got (thanks, P and Cait!)

  • marchlion says:

    R, En Passant continues to haunt me. I only had a 1ml sample, I will get a bigger decant in the spring, it was extraordinary. I keep reminding myself I should be trying on winter scents, but on these dark days sometimes all I want is a spritz of something girly and/or orange. I promise not to turn my back on Camille without another look.

  • marchlion says:

    P and Cait — okay, what is NN? Narcisse Noir? Who makes that anyway? Somebody reviewed it… will have to google later.

    P, being nice to people all day is tough work. Not employees, right? You can treat them like dogs. ūüėČ Wenge is probably the right frag for that. I need to re-sample that at NM.

  • marchlion says:

    Cait — well, the Diorissimo is a much more complex scent, although the muguet is dominant. The AG is… Goutal-ish… transparent and lighter, a lot less sillage, although it stayed around for quite awhile. They have it at NM (which is where I tried it) but I have not seen any on eBay, although the other soliflores are there. My guess is you’d like it.

  • Cait says:

    I am so glad you liked the NN! I tried my remaining mini when I sent it to you and thought, hmmm, I like that more than I thought! I don’t think it has devolved from its original. I never understood how it could reliably be said that all the minis in existence have devolved, anyway. It’s pretty good stuff. Good luck being nice to people and teaching!

  • Marina says:

    That anonymous donor in Colorado…She is the best and I owe her big, big, big time.

    Fem du Bois is my Major Love too. What turns into BO on your skin I wonder? Cedar? I heard someone complain on MUA that cedar does that to them. Was it you? :biggrin:

    As for 100% Love, wow, skin chemistry is everything. You say, a wanton woman, I say, ethereal, innocent first love in a bottle. :rolleyes: I totally agree re: S-perfume as a concept. I resisted trying their scents for the longest time because of the sperm-logo etc etc…but, the scent are superb.

  • Robin says:

    March, We are opposites — I think of En Passant as so cheerful, almost jaunty!

    Agree with Cait: the AGs do turn more rapidly than many other lines. Don’t give up on the Camille just yet.

  • Patty says:

    You are too funny. Unlike you and Cait (Cait, I got the NN, and I LOVE IT, but you all knew I would. I Had zero expectations), I only like a couple of AG’s scents. I have great hopes for Songes, though.

    But I am Wenge’d up today and ready for a full day of instructing. It is just so wearying being nice to people for three days.

  • Cait says:

    Thank you for taking the piss out of our dear AG. You have me laughing again! That is an issue with AG; they go off. I am sure of it. Iris Poudre is one of my favorites, and I like Divine L’Ame Soeur because it resembles IP. I am a muguet lover, but I never tried the AG muguet because I am a Diorissimo worshipper and figured nothing could top that. Now I’m wanting it. Thanks for the laughs and the impressions.