First off, a shout-out to Patty, who will be on NPR at 11:40 EST this morning, as part of a Perfumes: The Guide interview with LT and TS, I guess they´re going for the blogger perspective. Go, Patty! Second, a reminder, this coming Friday we are featuring your anonymous reviews of Clinique Aromatics Elixir and Happy, and Tommy Girl, so get those reviews emailed in to perfume dot posse at gmail dot com (with the correct punctuation marks substituted for “dot” and “at”) and we´ll print them. Third, next Monday, a week from today, is another free-for-all discussion on The Guide. Because, seriously, We Need To Talk. I Have Issues. Thus far I´ve flagged reviews that make me feel smug, a couple that make me want to try (or retry) something, and a couple that kill me. Okay, on to today´s topic.
The problem with reading about scents is you may learn something. Luca Turin has spoiled two scents for me in just this way recently. In The Guide he describes 21 Costume National as an “anisic oriental” and bam! Although anise is not listed among the 21 notes, when I smell it, anise is now the dominant note of this milky woody wonder (he gives it three stars). Anise being about as welcome in my fragrance collection as a bear at a picnic, my ardor for 21 has cooled. Also, I have had an on-again off-again relationship with L´Artisan Safran Troublant for quite some time, but it appears to be on again, my having acquired one of the small coffret bottles. Then I read LT´s review (four stars) in which he talks about the wonderful interplay among the saffron, vanilla and rose. Rose! Of course! The rose note was obvious as soon as I read it. Now, the rose having moved squarely to the forefront, it hogs the stage every time I smell it. I can barely see the saffron behind it.
Vexed by these developments, I dug around in all my samples looking for something different. Kelly had sent me some other Dawn Spencer Hurwitz scents, so I checked those out. Then I turned my attention to Gail´s package full of fragrances by Liz Zorn. (Thanks Kelly and Gail!)
The great thing about perfumery is, you can have sniffed so very, very much and there are still entire lines you know nothing about. I selected two Liz Zorns to put on – Grand Canyon, because Marina had blogged on it and I´d wanted to try it, and Pink Praline, because I was feeling perverse and it seemed, based on the label, to be the one thing I´d be least likely to enjoy.
LZ Pink Praline gave me an immediate masochistic satisfaction – I smiled, awaiting burial under a giant mass of what smelled like sugar and cocoa, with an odd discordant note I couldn´t place. I usually loathe chocolate in my fragrance, and this was no exception. After three minutes it quiets down quite a bit, the odd top note fades, and I began to … well, to like it. Go figure. I decided to look at the notes: pink grapefruit, cocoa, maple, dark roasted coffee, spices, cinnamon, honey, fenugreek, vanilla. The odd note at the top is the grapefruit – yes, a sweet citrus on top of cocoa. I can´t pick the coffee out until the drydown, when it becomes quite prominent. In the drydown it´s a seamless, not overly sweet gourmand confection – the smell of being in a bakery, but a nice one, and the maple/fenugreek gives an immortelle-esque twist. You choco/gourmand freaks should check this out.
LZ Grand Canyon (sweet orange, clementine, blood orange, neroli, laurel leaf, palma rosa, black pepper, labdanum, benzoin, honey, myrrh, sandalwood, spices, rose, jasmine, vetiver) starts out with a jumble of citrus, rose and laurel, and my immediate reaction was – nah. It had that kind of macerated green soup vibe that wasn´t working for me. Then the citrus fades into the spices, jasmine and woods, it becomes an warmly elegant comfort scent – the kind that´s pretty enough to wear out, more sophisticated than your favorite sweatshirt, but just as cozy. My favorite of the bunch listed in this post.
I sat out in the sun on the back porch, the first day it was warm enough to do so. I should have gotten out my sun hat. But I didn´t. Sitting there, wondering about sniffing the other Liz Zorn samples, my bad mood gone, cataloging my constant stream of perfumed thoughts (I never ordered those last DSH samples!, and do I already have a vial of Givenchy Vetyver and don´t realize it?), I suddenly understood. It wouldn´t matter if I smelled them all and never smelled them again, much less owned them. It explains my phenomenal sample collection versus my relatively sparse bottle collection. I watched those bees buzz all around me, looking for their next hit, and I realized: I am a perfume vagabond. I want to taste the honey from every single flower on this earth, and if I never own that flower… that´s okay. I´m just a bee, and it was worth it.
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DSH Tamarind Paprika – this one fascinates me. Half the time – a bitter, sour, nasty, cheapo potpourri-from-hell smell. The other half of the time – an interesting tobacco-and-mulling-spices.
DSH Prana smells exactly like the inside of an Aveda store.
DSH Vanille – a rich, straight, gourmand vanilla I enjoyed sniffing on the edge of my thumb, and would probably kill me in larger doses.
DSH Arome d´Egypt – DSH does spice and gourmand scents really well. This is sort of a spice market/incense scent.
DSH Jitterbug – this is in fact a wonderful old-fashioned spicy oriental fragrance that one could imagine wafting up from various vintage bottles.
Liz Zorn Sunset Rider – huh. To the extent we´re developing a trend, what I´m discovering sampling her stuff is I find the top notes jarring, and then the whole fragrance opens up and shifts in a direction I like better. Having done this several times now, I´m kind of enjoying the construct; it gets my attention. Sunset Rider starts off with what I think is a citrus/sandalwood blast, then dries down into a fairly indolic jasmine, and you know I like my jasmine dirty.
LZ Vanillaville. From her website: “A rustic, smoky vanilla, with the essence of pipe tobacco and leather. Notes include Almond, Tonka, Tarragon, Birch Tar and Coffee.” To me it smelled like a perfect sweet pipe tobacco rather than leather.
LZ Solstice – (formerly Peace on Earth?). Balsam, white pine, rose, jasmine, violet, cassie, clove, sandalwood, agarwood, rosewood, frankincense, myrrh, amber, woods, balsam of Peru, orris, patchouli, tuberose, moss, ambrette, vanilla. A floral incense. I got the extrait. It´s very soft and comforting, lightly spicy. I want to spray this on and see how I felt about it, I think I would love it. For some reason it´s not coming up at all on her website.
LZ Chado – Green Tea, Blue Cypress, fresh herbs. The website describes it as GRASSY-DRY-HERBAL, which is not my sort of thing. However, that´s a perfect description.
LZ Oolong – a peach tea and tooooo sweeet on me. The only one of the bunch I really didn´t care for.
LZ Blood Orange and Vetiver – hey, remember Wickle Chestnut & Vetiver? No? Sigh. That was such a great scent. Its simplity in concept was part of its charm. This is along the same lines – a sweet/tart juicy orange mixed with a fairly rooty vetiver.
LZ Cordovan Rose – the big rose opening up and walloped my nose, but before I could scream in horror the birch tar and glove leather painted a smile on my face. I still wouldn´t wear it, because it´s rose, but fans of leathery roses might love this. The rose fades over time, leaving me with a soft, sweet leather.
Liz Zorn is, I think, moving her goods to her new website, selling them under a different name, Soivohle, and I´m going to gripe that I hate the setup, in which all the fragrances are sold using abbreviations – Sunset Rider becomes SR-05-N. Hon, why? They already have (slightly groovy) names, which I kinda like. I view this as a step backward. Alphanumeric reference-style naming is dull and hard to remember. It didn´t work well for Parfums MDCI, it didn´t work well for biehl.parfumkunstwerke, and it ain´t gonna work well for you either.
bee image: pdphoto.org