Rochas Femme and other sampling delights.
Louise bought a bottle of Tauer Orris unsniffed after reading my raves, then emailed me that it smelled nasty on her. I couldn´t even imagine such a thing, but we got together and she sprayed it on. It was … criminal. Her skin took all those glorious top notes that radiate from me like a force field of light and throttled them. Orris wasn´t inert on Louise; it curled up and died. Smelling a fragrance go wrong on someone else´s skin really drives home the whole “skin chemistry” concept – and provides a lot of incentive not to buy expensive things unsniffed. (Don´t worry, this story has a happy ending – I bought her bottle from her.) Below are several fragrances that make me profoundly grateful for my sense of smell, starting with …
Rochas Femme – new version with cumin. Notes besides the cumin for post-1989 Rochas Femme are: peach, plum, sandalwood, rosewood, lemon, rose, jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli, musk, amber, civet, and leather. But you´ll mostly be noticing the CUMIN. (Can I make the font bigger here?) CUMIN CUMIN CUMIN. I laughed through the first half hour of this. It´s definitely not something I´d spray on and then sail out to church or board a plane. But even in the first four minutes, you can smell that whatever´s buried under the McCormick´s spice bottle is worth it. I´m going to agree with Angela´s guess – in the reformulation, cumin was added to try to recreate the shock value of the original for our jaded market. Whether you´d swoon or scrub would probably depend largely on your feelings about the cumin (which never goes away completely, at least on me.) It might also depend on how you feel about the original Rochas Femme, although to my nose they’re so different I find it difficult to compare them at all. Vintage Rochas Femme to me is more closely aligned with, say, Jolie Madame. Where new Rochas Femme is warm and luminous, its forerunner is cool and woody, a dark, leathery chypre with a plummy counterweight that smells … well, either a little dated or very much of its time, depending on your perspective. I’m happy with the new version, but the vintage Rochas Femme is unquestionably the more elegant fragrance, and a profoundly beautiful one. There’s really only one Rochas Femme; as Bois de Jasmin said in her eloquent review, the newer version is “not unlike attempting to clothe Michelangelo’s David.”
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Winter Delice. Notes (via Perfumebay) are: Ginger, Norway Pine, labdanum, vanilla, gingerbread and incense. Ina described it as “Christmas in a bottle” and also referred to potpourri, which worried me. I am welcoming this one to my incense lineup with a yodel of love and open arms – like a deep breath of fresh, cold winter forest, with some ginger. It also had surprising lasting power on me. Here´s a tip — in this rare case, the online discounters seem to be cheaper than eBay. Do you like Christmas? Incense? Winter solstice? Bracing walks in the fresh outdoor air? You need to try Delice. I can imagine people hating Femme with a passion, but this one seems broadly appealing.
CK One Electric – it´s NEW!!! It says so right on the bottle. It´s the color of antifreeze – that day-glo green. No, seriously. I wonder if it glows in the dark. Anyway, it smells like the original CK One, reformulated with … antifreeze?
Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Or Des Indes – notes via luckyscent are: bergamot, oppoponax, sandalwood, amber, vanilla, geranium, lavender. I give up on this one. I get this wonderful opening – the meat-juice of Kolnisch Juchten melding with the sparkling classic aldehydes of Piguet Baghari! Sounds interesting, right? Then 45 seconds later the entire thing collapses into … this murky essence of powdery nothing. My skin just eats it.
JAR Bolt of Lightning. Some of the other JARs are much prettier. But this is the one I told Patty I´d give my right tit for (she sent me a decant and told me keep my tit.) Bolt of Lightning starts off dark and green, like bamboo in a thunderstorm. It´s the smell of breaking tender stalks of plants in the summer, only you´re dreaming the entire thing in one of those ultra-vivid dreams that leave you feeling a little off the next day. After a good two hours, the sap moderates and is joined by a white floral – my best guess is lily, moving toward gardenia â€” and the combination has such surreal, disturbing beauty that I basically can´t put this on if I have to think about anything else.
Note: Imaginationperfumery appears to be selling the Apres l´Ondee EDT bee bottle online for $95. I thought Apres had disappeared from our shores completely…
lightning image: lightningsafety.com