Today we’re sniffing two wildly disparate but reputedly dirty scents: Pan, a unisex fragrance from Anya’s Garden natural perfumery, and the reissued Guerlain Voilette de Madame.
First up: Pan, described on Anya’s website as “created in homage to the Pan of Tom Robbins’ novel Jitterbug Perfume. Notes are white lotus, cedar, labdanum/ambreine, lavender, hay, patchouli, and tinctured hair of a rutting billy goat.”
Lee: I thought I’d got this muddled up with Ombre Fauve or Patchouli Empire when I first sniffed it, cos on me, it’s headshop deluxe in its initial blasts. Yeah duude. Pass the chillum. Musical pipes weren’t the only thing Pan was putting in his mouth, maaan (don’t look up when you read this – the words and pic don’t co-exist happily… Gulp indeed). Then it goes a little nutty / savoury or something. Now, shoot me if you need to, but I always get something similar from natural perfumes – at least the ones I’ve tried – that in my gauche way I’ll call an aromatherapeutic edge. I don’t want to insult Anya (who is, from all I’ve read, a truly lovely woman), but it turns up here too. Whether it’s there or just manifesting my apparent prejudices, I dunno. Anyway, it stays a little too much in patchland for me but I like the burnt umber quality it seems to develop 30 minutes in. I don’t get any of the willyness Patty describes below, the frisky frolicker (Matt said: sawdust).
Patty: I’ve found the rutting billy goat hair! Yowsah! Hay and patch dominate the open on this. When I was a kid, we had to go and get bales in from the field, and my silly parents would send us out unsupervised to do that. I didn’t work fast enough for my older brother, so he would be up in the back of the pickup and would start bouncing hay bales off my head. This scent is me being buried in hay, earth and fury. It’s no shrinking Pan, more like an engorged Pan… in heat.
March: I hear Anya is a lovely, lovely person, and I am loath to criticize something with a lovely person attached to it. This is probably the hardest part of blogging for me. Anyway, this sample doesn’t go through a ton of development on me. It’s nice. I get mostly patchouli and a spicy note (which I love) and lavender (which I love less.) I’m not getting anything dirty out of it. It doesn’t really bloom on me. Honestly, it’s a pretty smell, but it doesn’t seem that qualitatively different than, say, layering a couple of essential oils at the co-op, and it causes me pain in my heart to write that. Maybe I’m too used to the bombast of aromachemistry to appreciate natural perfumery.
Bryan: I was pleasantly surprised that this didn’t get all aromatherapyish on me. I am totally stealing that word from Lee, with whom I agree that naturals tend to lean that way…think millefiori (sic) scents. I love this actually. The hay and patch are subdued somewhat by the lavender. Although it is a blast of masculinity in the beginning, it dries to a more unisex/ambiguous earthy delight. By the way, I am using masculine and unisex in a very apolgetic manner here. I hate those terms, but they do come in handy in a conventional sense sometimes. This is elegantly done and by the way, look ma, no tuberose.
Next, here are our impressions of Guerlain Voilette de Madame (madame’s veil), which many of us spent weeks anticipating incorrectly as Violette de Madame (madame’s violet) prior to its re-release as a limited edition. Notes are iris, ylang-ylang, narcissus, violet and sandalwood.
March: We’ve been jokingly referring to this in our emails as madame’s panties, because someone (Legerdenez?) months ago talked about how ripe it was. I had this one vial from Guerlain, which I thought was Voilette, but I wasn’t sure, because it was unlabeled and the juice was soooo tenuous. I’ve now smelled a fresh samp courtesy of Patty and the Frip, and … am I anosmic? I don’t get it. It’s got a little musty perfume smell, like Vol de Nuit if you found an empty flacon and sniffed the stopper after 60 years. I’m smelling mainly the sweetness of the violet and the musty hay-leather of the narcissus, but unlike, say, L’Artisan’s stunningly forceful Narcisse, or Caron’s sublimely hay-skank Narcisse Noir (one of my favorites from a line I esteem rather than covet), the whole thing is very, very faint. Dirty bits? Nah.
Bryan: I fell hard for this dark veil. We of the obsessive perfumers guild (yeah, I’m looking at every single one of you too) every so often forget we have applied until we get a whif of some gorgeous breeze. Suddenly it occurs to us, “OMG That’s Me!…I rock!” Ok, I threw in the I rock for fun, but really that happened to me with voilette. I confess I usually can not stand violet. I rather loathe it. Patty, please don’t kick my ass. I love it here. And yes, this is violets in a below the waist kind of thing…I mean thang. I am so tracking a bottle of this down….or four.
Patty: March, are you out of your mind? I get all dirty bits right out of the chute, and it is a very feminine dirty bits, to be sure, violet dusted genteel bits, not like rutting Pan above. But I don’t smell anything musty other than the normal mustiness associated with hay or narcissus. It’s definitely not a forceful perfume, but it, along with Djedi and Jasmiralda, are my favorites from the anciennes they have redone. Where the L’Artisan’s narcissus is much more earthy, this one is more refined and easier to wear, but I get a lot of violet and iris in the drydown and very little narcissus, just enough to give it some depth. I’m totally smitten by this one, and when I originally read Legerdenez’ description, I expected to hate it.
Lee: You know, I think this is lovely. It’s a supremely elegant floral with a dusting of dirt, like a nineteenth century skirt worn by a early 40something lady (auburn hair, slight dishabille quality to her dress and demeanour, as if she’s rushed from somewhere and her bosom is heaving) visiting Sherlock Holmes. He’d tell from the vague mud splatters and crinkles where she’d travelled from and how. There’d be a frisson of unspoken desire cutting through the smoke filled room, never to be consummated. She’s carrying a spring bouquet, for some reason, but the daffodils are already turning, becoming lifeless in her never still hands. (Matt said: I can hardly smell it).