Beautiful Scents

Somewhere after the last stage of perfume obsession I talked about recently – resignation?  ennui? – comes another stage, apparently.  And the new stage is a funny one, because it seems to be: perfumes that smell beautiful.

Smelling beautiful (or attractive, or, at minimum, non-repellant) might seem to be kind of self-obvious when selecting perfume, but as perfumistas know, it isn’t.  I don’t think my multi-year Journey Through The Land Of Strange, Accessed via The Rabbit-Hole, was all that unusual a choice.  Smelling like a crypt, a mushroom, mimeograph ink?  Bring it on.  A dandelion, a mixed drink, a day at the beach – why not?  Wet dirt, spunk, funk, or man-junk?  I’ll try it.

But what happens after?  Part of what happens is that beauty, as opposed to strangeness, feels subversive.  Of course, beauty is subjective.  Your Mugler Angel is my own personal hell (although you might feel the same way about my Passage d’Enfer.)

I’ve been going to church again on Sunday mornings, for complicated reasons that have … not all that much to do with religion.  God hasn’t struck me down yet.  I like the pageantry.   I like doing outlandish flower arrangements for the altar of our staid Episcopal Church of the Dry Martini, and then seeing whether they’ve been re-arranged by the time I see them on Sunday morning.   I like the hymns.  I like the excuse to carry a cute purse.

But I digress.  This morning was a tasteful, careful application of Bois des Iles, the new one.  It does not get a ton of love – it’s not the old one, the one with the genuine, perfect sandalwood.  Thing is, the current version is so gorgeous I just don’t care.  I bought a 30ml decant recently and I’m thrilled with it.  The raspy sandalwood part (also known as “yucky,” according to 7-year-old Buckethead, not a fan) lasts three perfect hours on me, followed by a sweet, woody drydown that lasts another eighteen hours, during which I find myself lifting my wrist to my nose over and over and over, because I can’t quite believe that I can buy a product that smells that beautiful.

This morning, my cautious, meditative application of BdI was completely overwhelmed by the woman two pews in front of me, who was wearing a heavy drenching of what I am pretty sure was J’Adore.  To paraphrase Tom in his comment in a recent review, she spritzed her ample poitrine until her socks were wet.  She smelled so powerfully of industrial-grade public-restroom air-freshener that nobody sat within six feet of her in any direction.  J’Adore’s nice in reasonable doses; I couldn’t help but wonder what she was thinking.   Can she not smell it?  Does she love it that much?  Does she put all her fragrance on like that?  I shrugged.  I was curious, but who am I to judge?

Beauty can be angular and strange.  Beauty can be novel.  But for me, right now, beauty is a game I play in my head.  If someone asked me, skeptically, but why do you wear perfume at all? And I wanted to make it clear instantly, to reveal the most undeniably beautiful scents I own, which scents would those be?   The ones that would make my imaginary critic stop, and sniff, and say, oh.  Well…. of course.  I beg your pardon.  Now I understand.

It’s a short list.  It’s a cluster.  It’s a Venn diagram.  It’s also a post I keep fiddling with and never manage to write correctly.  It starts with Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (whose only flaw is unavailability in a stronger concentration) and fans out from there.   There’s a piece of paper connected to that unfinished post, and on it are Patricia de Nicolai’s Odalisque and Maharanih; MDCI Promesse de l’Aube and Enlevement au Serail.  Guerlain Chamade gets added to the list and crossed off again.  Somewhere in there is a masterful essay on jasmine and orange blossom, on indoles and chypre, on florals and vanilla, but apparently I’m incapable of writing it.  Instead I wear these scents, over and over, on rainy days and (even, especially) on recent sultry days, and (even, heretically) most/all at the same time, a spray apiece on various parts of my body, if I don’t have to be worrying about killing anyone around me with the sillage.

We have our go-to scents, but my go-to scents (e.g., Mitsouko) are different.  I seem to be on some beauty bender, as surprising to me as Nava’s fruit-salad fragrance jag is to her.  Is it the change of seasons?   A desire for comfort in uncomfortable times?   I wonder.

image: Lady Agnew of Lochnaw, John Singer Sargent, National Gallery of Scotland

  • Carla says:

    I used up my Bois des Iles sample (from TPC) wearing it to Mass on Sunday this past winter. I loved wearing it to Mass! Perfect. That and Ormonde Woman will get me through my second dark winter here in Hamburg, Germany, I reckon. I’m going to Paris in August and am so excited to try Bois des Iles in a stronger concentration and then make my choice. It is indeed so beautiful! As for J’Adore, the funny thing is I’ve worn it to Mass a few times this spring, it seems dress-up to me, I like it. Anyway, keep going to church, if only sit and contemplate your perfume.

  • nozknoz says:

    L’AP Fleurs d’Oranger is very beautiful (if you like orange blossom). I loved the original 1999 J’Adore and could not be more annoyed that they messed with it so soon. It was pure happiness. AT L’Air du Desert Marocain. Amouage Dia. BK Beyond Love, Oud and Rose Oud. Yes, the vintage Guerlains would be on my list. Lots of other scents mentioned above would be, too, such as Mecca Balsam.

    Great post, March, I always appreciate that you are frank about where your nose and life are at and your reaction to that. The resulting conversation is always illuminating and fun, and fun is beautiful! <:-p

    • March says:

      I lurve organge blossom, and that was indeed a beautiful scent. I don’t even know what the original J’Adore smelled like! And there are, as you note, plenty of beautiful scents named on this list.

  • mary says:

    Good night March! As I was driving home this eveneing, I was remembering a bottle of Emeraude my brother gave me for Christmas, around 1971. Quite possibly, the first bottle of cologne I ever owned. I remember how sometimes, it smelled unearthly beautiful, and sometimes, I just about could not stand it. But it was fascinating, mysterious, and yes, oh so beautiful. I found an old, tiny bottle from about that era on ebay a while back. We’ll see what dreams it brings. Pleasant dreams to you!(*)

    • March says:

      Old Emeraude is fantastic — the better-than-Shalimar that works a miracle on my skin, and old bottles can still be had for not much dough. I love your story. And the fact that you’re thinking about it late at night.

  • mals86 says:

    I read this post at least three times, trying to compose a reply, and still have not yet come up with one that says what I wanted to say. But first: thank you, March. Thank you for “beauty bender” and “Episcopal Church of the Dry Martini” – those will be ringing in my head for awhile. And thanks for opening up a discussion on beauty that has moved me very much.

    I have yet to really investigate the Land of Strange; I’m still banging around in the Land of Vintage and the Land of Oh, That Smells Nice, with occasional visitations from the Angel* of Beauty. I’m coming to realize that a beautiful perfume, for me, is one that doesn’t just smell lovely – it grabs my heart and squeezes, it brings tears to my eyes, it makes me feel as though I’m flying, it says “Rejoice!” to me. There are a few heart-seizers on my (current) list: vintage Emeraude, Le Temps d’une Fete, La Myrrhe, Carnal Flower, Parfum Sacre, Amouage Lyric, and that amazing 1950’s bottle of No. 5 parfum I lucked into before I realized how much I loved it. These are the ones that I smelled once and then went stumbling about, stunned by how beautiful they were.

    I don’t mind an element of challenge in my Beautiful perfumes – they seem to need that certain je ne sais quoi to lift them out of the realm of the Merely Pretty. But too much challenge, and I’m working too hard to appreciate, when all that Beauty really requires of you is that you notice.

    (*and I don’t mean Thierry Mugler Angel, either.)

    • March says:

      I have to go to bed soon. This is how I’m going to end my evening. Your comment filled my heart with happiness. This is why I keep blogging about perfume. Yes. THAT moment. When the heart rejoices, when the eyes tear up. Moments that are, I think, utterly baffling to outsiders? Moments that are like hearing some exquisite music for the first time. Vintage Emeraude slays me. (They should be ashamed of themselves for what they’ve done to it.) Carnal Flower made me weep. La Myrrhe clearly I need to smell again, it was mentioned more than once today. And I bet a 1950s bottle of No. 5 tucked away was pretty amazing. You’ve finished your list perfectly with a PdN. @};-

  • aotearoa says:

    I do think of a few of my scents as ‘beautiful’ – particularly Iris Pallida and Alahine. Strange as the many others I adore also , but don’t necessarily categorise as beautiful.
    I do have categories in my head for many of them – calm,challenging etc.. Most people do simply think of perfume as beautiful – it’s another obsession to be challenged by well constructed scents I think.

    • March says:

      Alahine is one of my top Winter Beauty scents, and probably didn’t make this list only because it would gag me now. We should do a post on our different categories.

  • Scott says:

    March:
    I am late to the party having just read your post at 7 p.m. pacific time, but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. Wonderful writing and honest observations. You are totally spot on about the progression to rediscovering “beautiful”. I started my perfume obsession with the list of 5 star fragrances from the back of Turin/Sanchez’s book, hunting down the discontinued ones,paying a king’s ransom for Nombre Noir, etc. It was a strange, niche lot to cut one’s teeth on. Currently I am collecting men’s classic frags, and find myself gravitating to the beuatiful ones. Cartier Declaration, the original Hermes Bel Ami (GORGEOUS), Ormonde Man, Yatagan, Le 3eme Homme, YSL Rive Gauche pour Homme to name a few. While I appreciated the weird niche sh*t as art, I find that I am only buying full bottles of the “beautiful”. Lovely post, thank you.

    • mary says:

      I’m even later than Scott, and I also wanted to say what a beautiful little gem of a piece of writing, March. And, wonderful comments. Carter, I hope you are feeling well now, as I write these words. To the left of my computer, I have a tiny bottle of L’Origan, in a crystal bottle which fits neatly into a little silver case, which closes with a satisfying snap. The lid is a tiny etched crystal mound of flowers, and there is a teeny bit of perfume. I open it and smell it, nearly every time I sit down in my home office. And I think about its history. Somehow, it seems so brave and beautiful to me, this little silver travel case with the precious crystal bottle, from a world before baggies and plastics. I wonder about its journey through the years, which brought it to my hand via ebay. I think a lot about perfume these days, and what it means. Thank you for casting your light on the subject, March. BTW, next to my precious little bottle of L’Origan is a curvy little miniature Galanos I found in an antique store a couple weeks ago. A sluttier thing I never smelled. Woohoo–there’s beauty then there’s —–no wait, I can’t actually say it. You know what I mean, though. :)>-

      • Ann N. says:

        OMG Mary, Galanos! There’s a real blast from the past. Now I’m going to have to poke around and find some. Oh, the power of suggestion!

        • mary says:

          The blasts from the past are a lot of fun. Although it’s funny to find the things I used to covet and long for–in antique stores. Oy! I only vaguely remembered Galanos when I spotted it in the antique store–and now I am sort of in love with it. Yes. Let me know when you find yours, Ann!

      • March says:

        What she said! Galanos? Slutty? Hmmmmm…. and L’Origan vintage is such a thing of beauty. My bottle is nothing special to look at. Yours sounds stunning. Thanks for sharing.

        • mary says:

          The L’Origan was about 12 bucks on ebay– I couldn’t believe my good fortune whenit arrived. The lid was stuck, but a half hour in the freezer (thank you perfumeshrine) fixed that. And yes, to me, the Galanos is sooooo slutty I need a new polyester wraparound dress to go with it :d

    • March says:

      I loooove your guy list so much. I saw this last night and I’m trying to think of which other scents I want you to try (in my manipulative way) only because your list is so perfect. (Although Catagan makes me smile. When I discovered the man-Carons I felt such delight!) To your beautiful-man list I’m going to add Guerlain Derby and Annick Goutal Eau de Monsieur.

  • janh says:

    This article is about my old love, Casaque. I like a lot of other things that arent pretty, but I love Casaque.

  • Nina Z says:

    Speaking of both vintage and beautiful, isn’t vintage Bellodgia just gorgeous? I have a tiny bit of extrait left over from the eighties. I don’t use it very often, because I almost feel, I don’t know, not worthy of it…..

    • mary says:

      Why not use it up? I mean down to the last drop. No one is more worthy of it than you are, right at this moment–you know it’s true! :)>-

      • Ann N. says:

        Amen to what Mary said! Use it and enjoy every drop of it — after all, we can’t take it with us when we go …

    • March says:

      USE IT ALL UP. @};-

  • AnnieA says:

    Vetiver Pour Elle is beautiful, quite serene, and hints of a better world. Dioressimo is the quintessential pretty perfume, although I can’t quite explain the leap between pretty and beautiful.

    • March says:

      VPE is lovely. Diorissimo is a minor skank-fest on me 🙂 so I can’t decide whether that disqualifies it.

  • Ann N. says:

    Nice post, March. Thanks for making me stop and think about what scents truly represent beauty to me.
    Like you, the beyond-wonderful Odalisque definitely falls into one of my first slots. Another scent I’ve recently tried, Puredistance, bears a shimmering, almost ethereally radiant beauty to my nose. And heading back into the past, there is Hermes’ 24 Faubourg. Its gorgeous orange blossom and jasmine envelops me in what I can only call a warm, honeyed golden glow, like olfactory sunshine. Ahhh …

    • Ann N. says:

      Almost forgot to add that I agree with you guys that the Chanel BdI is lovely as well, old AND new.

    • mary says:

      Yeah, I sucked my Odalisque sample dry, and still sniff the little dry glass cylinder. But I love Sacre Bleu and Le Temps d’une Fete. What to do, what to do. 8-|

      • Ann N. says:

        I say, if you’re jonesing that badly for it, go for it! Spring for another decant and treat yourself. I, too, enjoy the other two Nicolais you mention, but there’s an almost magnetic pull to Odalisque. When I win the lottery :d I’ll load you up. Odalisque for everyone!!

        • mary says:

          Thanks for the encouragement, Ann! Maybe, just maybe, I will spring for the Odalisque. At least the decant. So many fumes, so little dough . . .~o)

  • minette says:

    ah, now that i’ve read it, i am there with you on bois des iles. i have the same pause as you each time i smell it. the new one. which is fantastic even if it’s not the old one.

  • minette says:

    i haven’t even read this whole article and i am already saying, “yes!” this is exactly where i am now. i want pretty. i want beautiful. i want to be surprised and delighted and transported by it.

    i have had a few lucky moments of it of late – my first sniff of ninfeo mio being one stand-out. i smelled the rich, creamy beauty of songes mixed with the candied citrus of les nuits d’hadrien, and it made me very, very happy. un lys was another beauty high – i finally wore it after thinking it too beautiful to wear for too long.

    some might find this funny, but while squarely in the middle of this pretty phase, i just ordered muscs koublai khan. but i’m one of those who finds it a golden, kittenish elixir, so that makes sense to me.

    • Ann N. says:

      Mmmm … Nuits d’Hadrien. Now that’s got some seriously good citrus and herbal magic going on! Every time I wear it, I want to be instantly transported to Italy …

    • March says:

      Ninfeo Mio makes me so happy! I wear that and Mandragore a lot. And Un Lys deserves as much wear as you can give it, there’s a beauty high, you are right. And MKK is not as naughty as we all pretend. 😉

  • Tara C says:

    I’m in a “pretty” phase too – often “beautiful” is too challenging, and all my weird off-beat stuff is not appealing at the moment.

  • Musette says:

    You and I have been on eerily similar paths but we are diverging at ‘beautiful’. I am finding ‘beautiful’ to be a bit too challenging right now – perhaps even moreso than what we would normally consider challenging. Sometimes Beauty is just too much to bear.

    I am looking for ‘pretty’ these days. My stress levels are pretty high and I am taking comfort where I can, with a lot of small bites of chocolate ice cream, long strolls instead of heavy workouts. Pretty, easy-to-wear scents for this frame of mind include Balmain de Balmain (thanks, Shelley, for the tip), Jacomo Silences and my vaunted Charmes y Leaves. They are like that quiet pal who stops in for coffee – no drama, just a nice ~o) and a cookie or two…and when s/he leaves your BP is WAY down, the :[email protected] in your head is quieted and the mess in your house and life seem just a bit less messy. You feel ‘okay’.

    That works for me right now.

    xo >-)

    • carter says:

      It’s funny, but I find that the more difficult the reality, the more powerfully I crave the sublime. I guess I need to believe that magic exists somewhere, even it it’s just a genie in a bottle, and in some strange way that is what grounds me. But I can easily understand the reverse, the desire for just one damn thing to be uncomplicated and easy-breezy and nice.:)

    • maggiecat says:

      I understand completely Musette! Like you, my stress level has been in the stratosphere, and I’m not looking for challenging scents. Just pretty ones, ones that provide pleasure, and comfort, a light citrus, a drop of neroli, a little light musk or a lavender, perhaps. Natural scents, oils, some Possets…. I find myself turning to scents the way I once turned to comfort foods. Much less fattening too!

      • Musette says:

        Yes! And to reply to Carter’s note here (and the one above – btw, sorry about the pain, baby! :(( ) – I think my stress levels are just at that point where pretty calms everything down. I’m not in grief or serious pain , where ‘beauty’ would help balance things out – this is just garden-variety business/personal ‘shut the [email protected](k UP already’ stress, amped maybe just a tad. Not at all the difficult reality I think you are describing, thank Floyd!

        xox >-)

    • Shelley says:

      I get both. I know, I know, the peacemaker…but seriously, I do. And I think this is why.

      Because pretty requires no thought, you don’t worry about being challenged. And challenges can have bad results. And if life is already trying, then, sometimes more challenge is more than can be beared. (born?)

      OTOH, if you’ve gone through a couple of wrassling’s with What Is Beauty, if you have found a current landing pad for something that presents beauty to you, you can take on the extra depths that beauty offers, and trust your heart to it. Because you pretty much feel like you know where you’ll end up.

      When I started perfume, there was no way I could have put on 31 Rue Cambon and felt entirely happy. Now, I can, and even if my heart is heavy. Even if it’s the [email protected] 31RC that made it so. Because I am ready.

      What goes into making me ready, that’s a whole other yammer.

      And there are still days I still might want to just slap a little 4711 on, smile, and move on with it.

      • Shelley says:

        P.S. I’m glad that Balmain is working that way for you. That’s how it works for me…a no-brainer…but not stupid. 🙂

    • March says:

      “Sometimes Beauty is just too much to bear.” Amen. There are definitely those times when comfort is called for, whether it’s the familiar comfort or something that’s actually cuddly. I think your Charming Leaves is my Mandragore. @};-

  • Wendi says:

    Hmm… Is it possible to go through the ennui and “beautiful” stages at the same time?

    If so, that is where I find myself. While paring down, I find myself looking at most of my CB I Hate Perfume bottles thinking “This was fun, BUT…..”

    In the end, “the beautifuls” are what I reach for anyway: BDI, Odalisque, OJ Woman, Divine, AG La Violette and maybe even En Passant. I would LOVE to see your list, but I can’t imagine what a huge undertaking that would be! 😉

    • March says:

      Oh, your Beautiful List is beautiful! I could get behind every one of those, except maybe En Passant, which I love but would exclude only because I find it too weird and evocative. Divine and OJ Woman are extraordinary.

  • Disteza says:

    Couldn’t even begin to define beauty, but I have made it a personal goal to surround myself with those things that are aesthetically pleasing. I have no pretensions that my sense of aesthetics aligns with anyone else’s, however! As for the swoonably pretty perfumes, SIP’s Lady Day and Fair Verona go right to the top, closely followed by Roxana Villa’s Vespertina, with Paestum Rose and SL’s La Myrrhe rounding out the short list.

    • March says:

      Lady Day. Lady Day is in a very small category. Scents that per ml were the most expensive I’ve bought, and that I have never had one second of regret over. The second I smelled it I knew I had to have it.

      I really need to give La Myrrhe some more effort, I should love it.

  • maidenbliss says:

    Over the past several years, because of blogs, of course, my tastes have changed so dramatically. I recently won a vintage Arpege which is hauntingly beautiful, I enjoy just holding the bottle as it’s so beautiful and evokes deep memories. I also won a small bottle of vintage Shalimar, which I’m acclimating to as it was never a favorite. Vol de Nuit is beautiful on my skin. But, Coze is also (thanks Lee!) captivating my heart. Beauty is subjective, and maybe that’s the beauty of it. VC&A Bois d’Iris is another favorite. To experiment with beautiful fragrance is an art for me whether niche, the old standbys. I simply enjoy the luxury of tuning my olfactory palette. Sort of like arranging a bouquet of flowers. I’d have to say ‘experiencing’ some of CB’s scents has been a unique pleasure, too.
    I’ll probably be sitting on a chaise lounge with a gin & tonic in plaid shorts when I’m 80, wearing Azuree and a straw sun bonnet with rhinestone sunglasses.

    • March says:

      Oh, I’ll sit with you when you’re 80! And we can both wear Azuree and we’ll smell pretty darn good.

      It’s been a great discussion on here today. Of course the idea of beauty (and which fragrances will fit in there) is totally subjective, and one person’s Arpege is another person’s challenge scent. Of course when you name Lanvin and Guerlain you’re singing my song…

      • maidenbliss says:

        I have met Beautiful. Because of your post I revisited my Chanel stash-they are many.
        31 Rue and Cuir de Ruisse stepped forward. Why on earth did I ever toss them to the back of my perfume closet? I’m sitting in bliss beautiful, radiating prisms of light. I know, it’s waxing poetic. And I thought Coromandel was divine?
        Vol de Nuit is sitting in the back seat of the carriage at the moment.

      • mals86 says:

        Arpege (the vintage stuff, anyway) is tres challenging for me in the opening and early heart – it’s so… ripe. And then that sandalwood shows up and captures my heart.

  • marko says:

    Beauty is SOOOOO subjective, it’s difficult to talk about without a bit of yourself rubbing off on the topic. I’ve dabbled a little bit in the philosophy of aesthetics for the Dance Appreciation class I teach, and as far as I know, Beauty (in the larger sense) has to do with proportion, symmetry and harmony…..but it is also situational.

    My “list” of beautiful perfumes changes so frequently – I wouldn’t even know where to begin…..

    And as far as Mitsouku being too difficult to be beautiful…..does beauty have to be easy?

    • carter says:

      In my opinion, beauty is rarely easy. I don’t think beauty exists without something odd or challenging or even ugly. It has to be compelling, to require something more from the observer than admiration alone. Without that, to me the truly beautiful is rendered merely pretty.

      • carter says:

        I’m not expressing it well, but I guess what I am trying to say is that I agree with Denyse’s post quoting Baudelaire’s definition of beauty: it has to illicit emotion, it must touch something deep. I think there can be great beauty in simplicity, but simplicity in the sense that there is nothing more that is required to render the object or person or perfume beautiful. Restraint. Or perfection in nature, which is never truly simple.

        • Musette says:

          Huh. my original reply vanished.

          I sayed:

          I think you expressed it extremely well. And it perfectly describes why I’m craving ‘pretty’ right now. None of my stress is dramatic enough to warrant a ‘beauty’ balance – it’s just garden variety foolishness, maybe amped a tad or two.

          get better! that pain sounds FIERCE!

          xoxo >-)

    • carter says:

      My hip and back are killing me today so I’m lying here on an icepack with lidocaine patches stuck to every available square inch of skin of the lower forty, flipping through The Guide because I’m finding it hard to concentrate on anything else, and lo and behold I came upon this quote from LT in his description of Habit Rouge: “…the orange-flower-and-opopanax accord, (frankly, I’d settle for a xanax accord at the moment, but I digress…) soft and raspy like stubble on a handsome cheek, is a bit like beauty itself–immediately understood, never quite elucidated.”

  • sweetlife says:

    Seems like you’ve been headed this direction for awhile, Ms. March. First there was the justpretty of Ines de la Fressange, then the turning away from the chicken-pecking the samples and new things, the enjoyment of the classics, the old friends, and now this. I think, maybe, beauty requires an openness from us that we don’t always have. Open heart, open mind. A moment or two of quiet. So it seems like a good sign…

    I can’t make a list. They don’t stay put long enough, and I’m too dependent on context. But I will say that I once wept over the first application of some pristine vintage Joy EDT, and that I will always remember that moment when the initial burst of top notes faded and flowers came tumbling out.

    • March says:

      Interesting discussion on here today. And you’re right, I’ve been trending this direction for awhile. I love your story about the vintage Joy EDT. That’s beauty, the ones that make you weep. And that moment! When the flowers tumble out. It’s like having your own private rainbow or waterfall or something. :)>-

  • Meliscents says:

    Perfume addiction must have steps like grief. I also have passed from strange to just plain beautiful.
    And you’re right, that makes me feel like a rebel. Today I have on vintage Chloe. The other ones I’m going to more often now are vintage Chanel #5 EDP (lots of sandalwood in the drydown), Jean Patou 1000, Coty La Rose Jacqueminot EDP, & YSL Paris. Sometimes, if it’s been a while, I spray these & it almost takes my breath away at how beautiful & well made they are. Thank heaven for perfume!!

    • March says:

      Another vote for vintage Chloe. Maybe I’ll bust some out tomorrow, it’s the perfect weather for it, nice and not. And my vintage YSL Paris made me happy many a rainy day this spring. Those vintages do take the breath away, in the best possible ways. @};-

  • Nava says:

    First of all, I love the Singer Sargent portrait you used. I love his paintings; they will forever remind me of Edith Wharton and Henry James.

    Second, I thought the only really obvious accoutrement you’re supposed to wear to church is a big hat – not half a gallon of your favourite eau. That’s nasty.

    I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately about the whole fruit salad bender and all I’ve been able to come up with is: they make me happy. Maybe it’s my “next” phase as a perfumista. I’ve left the world of niche and have landed in the alternate universe of fruit. Could also be my unabashed addiction to my “Fruit Ninja” iPhone app. I slay the fruits, but then I wear them!

    As with your “beautiful” scents, dear March, they are uncomplicated, direct and easy. That’s not to say I’ll never go back to the weirdness of niche, but for now, fruit is literally the bomb.

    BTW, spotted Etat Libre D’Orange’s Secretions Magnifique at the Murale store (the upscale Shoppers Drug Mart beauty emporium) last week. Is eau de spooge actually going mainstream??? 😮

    • March says:

      JSS paintings, along with many a Whistler, make me ridiculously happy. I am grateful to live in a place where I can indulge myself in those areas.

      Oh, I don’t know. I smell a lot of scent at church among the Ladies of a Certain Age, but even by our standards that was big! 🙂

      And I am thrilled you are enjoying your fruit bomb moment. Who says we are not entitled to something so simple and enjoyable? ELdO makes me wonder if they got remaindered stock and have been duped into selling it…

      • Nava says:

        It is definitely a”which doesn’t belong and why” scenario with the fragrance selection in that store. Their selection reminds me of NM’s or Saks’, minus the harpies!

        The first time I went in there, they had every ELdO scent with the exception of Tom of Finland and Secretions. Now, they had everything. I was hoping to find “Like This”, but no such luck. I guess my niche urge is still lurking under all the fruit salad. :d

        • March says:

          I was kind of underwhelmed by Like This, but I am kind of alone in that department. It’s pretty light.

  • Style Spy says:

    I am totally with you in this right now — lately what I have really wanted are great big fragrances that are just… beautiful. Funnily, I find that the scents on my List of Beautiful are often ones that simply don’t have any other adjective that describes them better — not “sexy” or “smoky” or “fresh” or “aldehydic” or something like that. 31rC is definitely on the list, and when I discovered Enlevement au Serail a few months ago the world fell away. So stunning. And interestingly, you’re the second person in the last week who has mentioned her EaS seems to have changed over time. My bottle is new and I do adore it as it is now, so I’m intrigued/worried by this.

    • March says:

      “I find that the scents on my List of Beautiful are often ones that simply don’t have any other adjective that describes them better.” Great point. And I wouldn’t be worried about Enlevement — it’s as lovely as ever. I just think it’s more animalic in the opening than I remember, but it fades away, and it’s not over-the-top. I wonder if it’s more my perception of the scent changing over time.

  • Ari says:

    I always liked that quote in the movie “Match Point”, where Scarlett Johansson’s character says, “My sister is beautiful. I’m the sexy one.” I feel more comfortable with “sexy” scents (orientals, usually) than “beautiful” scents, I think. We can’t all be beautiful, but even the most unusual-looking among us can have oodles of sex appeal.
    Anyway, 28 La Pausa and L’Heure Bleue have my vote for most beautiful.

    • March says:

      There’s a pretty strong argument going on above for strange-beautiful, and I love that line from Match Point. 28 La Pausa and LHB do, in my opinion, qualify for beautiful.

  • donanicola says:

    I’ve always thought beauty contained some extra element, ie it was not just a step up from pretty. As the interest in perfume took hold appreciation of that extra element developed further until, as you said, smelling beautiful could often include smelling like a crypt. It’s great to come full circle and rediscover beauty where the unusual is balanced. I would agree that BdI is a perfect example but generally I think Chanel does beauty very well. And I love your choice of picture for this post! Wouldn’t it have been lovely to be painted by JS Sarjent?

    • March says:

      I took a road trip to NYC for the day, not so long ago, to see some Sargent portraits, including, IIRC, the one in your avatar. I used to have a dress like that, bought expressly because it looked like the painting. I love his work. And I like your definition, the idea of coming full circle and finding the unusual balanced, because the scents we’re thinking of aren’t *boring.*

      • Gretchen says:

        Another use for the time machine (and oodles of correctly-dated currency): to have one’s portrait painted by Sargent.

    • Shelley says:

      Donanicola,

      I often wonder why I find scents A, B, C, or House D and E, interesting/fun/happy places to visit and even inhabit…and Chanel generally doesn’t end up on those lists…but when it comes down to it, if I had to live with just one house for the rest of my life, I think it might be…Chanel.

      I just tried to tackle “what is beautiful” in response to Carter above…your thought helps me think it through even more clearly…beauty is when something can both raise things in tension and yet somehow it gels as not tense? I dunno…I am serving the court jester purpose here again, I fear, and I know such discussion has been held in philosophy circles and such across eras…but there is always something really rewarding about jumping in yourself and wrestling with the alligator.

  • Debby H says:

    What a beautiful post, no silly joke intended! I really enjoyed your thoughts/writing on this. I’m still exploring many different scents incl the weird ones, but I like to think about beauty and what makes a scent beautiful to me (and is it different for others?, etc). On my list of “beautiful” scents: Bois des Iles, Chanel 19 parfum, Bois de Paradis, vintage Je Reviens, Le Labo Poivre. More will pop into my head as soon as I hit “submit!” I’ll have to keep thinking about this – why don’t I want to wear them all the time if I think they’re so beautiful?

    I like to picture you arranging the flowers for church, (were they rearranged?), and although I go to church for many reasons incl religion, I think it’s fine to be there for any reason – if it’s God’s house, ALL are welcome.

    • March says:

      Le Labo Poivre I found my decant of a few weeks ago and splashed on. It’s astonishing, but I have to apply with a very light hand! Really incredible scent, though. And why don’t we wear them all the time? Would they wear out their welcome?

      • Gretchen says:

        I think you’ve got it there, March: if you wear them all the time, either they’ll wear out their welcome or your nose will simply ignore them as too familiar. When I first discovered Chanel no5 and no22 they could have become my entire fragrance wardrobe (no5 for cool weather, no22 for warm), until I realized that wearing the same thing every day renders it either imperceptible or boring.

        But both of those are on the Beauty List for sure.

        • Gretchen says:

          “Imperceptible” to the wearer, I should say. Because that’s the point at which one starts spraying more and more heavily (in order to smell it at all) until bystanders warn you you’re overdoing it. Happened to me with Chloe (the original) in the 90s. Chloe can still go on my Beauty List, though; I just won’t be wearing it because that phase of my life is over.

          • March says:

            SHlowey! A running joke — Musette (?) had someone who insisted that’s how it is pronounced. And Original Shlowey is definitely on the Beauty List. I still don’t understand the overapply thing, though. I wear some pretty obnoxious stuff, and I don’t marinate in it.

        • March says:

          We always want them around, don’t we? For when we need them. But it would be sad to get tired of them. It’s why I’ll never have a signature scent, apparently.

  • Shelley says:

    Yes.

    As for “the list”…you know me and my voodoo…it could be that, or something else (for which philosophers and poets have tried to find a box or a metaphor), but I think there’s something about never finally resting on A List. Because while beauty exists, and you honor it as well as benefit from it by recognizing it, you still need to leave the door open a crack for something you might have missed.

    As a writer, there’s that trick to knowing when to just put it out there, and not getting caught up with “monkey mind” or “editor brain”–in other words, at some point, letting it go and moving on to the next one. But there is no next one when it comes to The List…so it must be mutable…because, as a receiver, we must be ready to receive.

    Or, to mash it up another way, we’ve got to reconcile the realization of what our personal Beauty Zone is with, as the Monty Python character shouts to the cart bearer, “not dead yet.”

    *Did* anybody mess with the flowers?

    • March says:

      Nope, nobody touched the flowers, but we’re in a low-key time of year. Just try getting away with any foolishness during Lent or Advent! And let’s face it, for all of us? There will never be A List.

  • mi-cuit says:

    yes yes yes! Bois des Iles in any iteration including the new one is gorgeous! L’heure Bleue must be on that list! It was the first perfume I bought when my craze started and 5 years later, I have not gotten over how wonderful it is!

    • March says:

      It only took me … five years to come around to BdI? I don’t know why. It’s not a difficult fragrance. But it’s one of those that I kept trying and retrying and running across, and one day recently I thought, why on earth do I not own some of this?

      LHB is gorgeous, and surprisingly so in the summer.

      • Kim says:

        Hah!! glad to see another one comin’ round to the LHB / summer combo
        Bois des Iles and RdC31 are on my true perfume beauty list along with No 5 and Shalimar
        I think the strange / challenging like No 19 or Mitsouko are beautiful but not restful, hence my lack of desire for them on a challenging day. There is already enough challenge on such a day that I find the right perfume like an island of beauty and peace

  • Erin T says:

    I’ll understand if you never get that post written, but I love the preview: 31 Rue Cambon, Odalisque, Enlevement au Serail? Sign me up! Sometimes, we get caught up in discussions about perfumes that smell like gas fumes with a touch of mint, and I kind of forget that the two of us have a pretty darn similar definition of beautiful (excluding that Angel, of course…) 😡

    • March says:

      Gas fumes with a touch of mint. There has to be an antidote for that, and it’s not Antidote. It’s 31RC for sure.

      My sample of Enlevement is older now, and I wonder whether it’s ripening additionally on its own? I’d forgotten how intensely animalic it is!

  • Louise says:

    For me, “beauty” almost always includes “floral” in some way-very strange for me 😮

    And currently, often Guerlain-Sous le Vent is a stunner, simply lovely. Chamade is pretty, but not quite beautiful. And a Caron-I find my Parfum Sacre extrait to be a beauty.

    But, then again, I’m with Melissa-vintage Femme is gorgeous, and of course, vintage Scandal :p

    • Louise says:

      Oh, and Apres L’ondee-how could I forget her >:d< ?

    • March says:

      Vintage Femme and Scandal ARE gorgeous, but are they beautiful? In a John Singer Sargent way? In a way that wouldn’t frighten other people? You’re right, we seem to come down to florals…

      • carter says:

        Now, that’s a very interesting point you raise. Do we factor in the opinions of others when deciding for ourselves what is beautiful? It reminds me of our discussion the other day about Tubereuse Criminelle following your post on Nuit de Tubereuse in which I had mentioned that I think that TC is my favorite tuberose; that I adore the top notes, but hesitate to wear it outside of the house until it is safely past them out of concern for the delicate (read: volatile) sensibilities of my fellow New Yorkers. Denyse said that she finds the top notes to be the best part and that it would never cross her mind to deny the public at large.

        My private take on all of that is that while I agree that the top notes are fantastically beautiful in their sheer bravado (although I find the heart and the drydown to be equally gorgeous, and the composition as a whole beautiful beyond words) I am aware that they can be quite challenging and are perhaps an acquired taste (to put it mildly) in the view of many (very many) others. But because I wear fragrance strictly for myself 99.9% of the time — my husband being a person who would be hard-pressed to catch a even a whiff of a decomposing cow lying on the living room rug — I am perfectly content to revel all that minty, camphory gorgiousity while sitting alone at my dressing table while putting on my makeup.

        I would argue however that the fact that a ‘fume like Criminy might scare the thundering hoards on the subway platform doesn’t make it any less beautiful. Perhaps what it basically comes down to is how one feels about that damn tree falling deep and unheard in the forest.

        • March says:

          I have to come back to this because you’re making me think and I’m having a migraine day.

        • Shelley says:

          Uff-da…March, tend to the headache. While you’re tending, I want a go at this. Because I was already thinking in this vicinity as I scrolled down, and then whomp there Carter’s thought is.

          Where I was going was a) the idea of irregularity/surprise/imperfection possibly needing to be part of beauty…but b) that challenge for challenge’s sake is not part of beauty. In my head. I think. (I’m NOT having a migraine day, so I can go all tumbly…) But, this still doesn’t solve the 31RC question, because where is the hard part, the irregularity, the piece which is not beautiful?

          OTOH, I did not love 31RC off the bat. I had to learn how I loved it, and then it warmed and broke my heart and put it back together all at once. And somehow comes off as a whole…whole, and beautiful.

          TC smacks me with the camphor every time. And it’s about the slap, not about it being part of the flower or anything like that. That’s gamesmanship…and therefore not beauty. But that’s ME and TC.

          • carter says:

            My best response to your final paragraph is to refer you to this review at Bois de Jasmin, which expresses how I feel about those notorious opening notes so perfectly that I am free to simply sit back, nodding in agreement: http://tinyurl.com/239sx7j

  • Lee says:

    Sod all this beauty malarkey. Did they rearrange the freaking flowers…?????:d/

    • Musette says:

      yah, what Lee said!

      xo >-)

    • March says:

      Not this time. Unsurprisingly, I try to find ways to say new things within the existing construct, and I tend to get in trouble during the seasons with more rigid requirements. For instance, when it’s “all greens” on the altar, are holly berries out? How about green apples or pears? Dried grass? Who says it all has to be flowers, anyway? Also, really stiff arrangements are … stiff. I like them to look like they grew there. My arrangements could legitimately be described as weedy-looking.

      • Masha says:

        OOOooo, Episcopalian Ikebana, I’m liking this. Sounds like your church is getting pretty beautiful, thanks to your efforts!

        • maidenbliss says:

          Episcopalian Ikebana=)) Snap of pic of the altar, would you please, March?

          • Kate says:

            *chortle* as a Recovering Episcopalian, this is killink me!

          • March says:

            A couple of times, I got a note from our last rector saying how much he liked the arrangements. I made sure to post them in the flower room, as my arrangements hadn’t gotten the same reception from the guild, necessarily. 🙂

          • OperaFan says:

            March – Your arrangements would be well-appreciated in my Episcopal Church out in Asbury Park, NJ. It’s alive with a great eclectic mix of membership!
            I love beauty. I love interesting and strange, too, but in the end – I mostly choose to wear beautiful scents. If you love jasmin and OB, perhaps you’ve tried SSS’s Jour Ensoleille? It’s one of the most beautiful, IMO.

          • March says:

            You know, I haven’t. That’s a line I’ve not given proper attention to. And I always tell myself, re my flowers, that plenty of folks out there in the pews look on them and think, huh, you don’t see THAT every day! /:)

        • March says:

          Less glads, more peacock feathers, that’s my motto. Also: if it’s in the flower-arranging room, it’s fair game for the altar. (Like those peacock feathers…)

        • carter says:

          I think that would be a great name for a perfume. It would smell like juniper berries, bitter citrus peel, anise, angelica root and orris, plus various and sundry other botanicals and spices, with just a whisper of wormwood and a whiff of olive.

      • Lee says:

        Wild-looking arrangements are exactly as they should be.

        • Lee says:

          …and weedy looking is its own kind of beauty (weedy meaning ‘weeds and wilderness’ in the GM Hopkins sense, rather than puny, I take it..)

          • March says:

            Our church is big, and the altar is HUGE. It’s hard to do anything up there that makes an impression in the first place. And our budget is not vast. So I’m always bringing in greenery from the yard, my own flowers, etc. And it looks prettier when it’s overblown. It looks real. It looks right. Seven red glads in a row in back makes me depressed.

          • Lee says:

            Hell, you and me both. You want peonies losing their petals, queen anne’s lace beginning to flop at the neck, sweet peas by the gazillion, grass flowers and greenery by the armful…

          • carter says:

            Decay is beautiful in its own way. It tugs at the heart like a sunset.

          • March says:

            It’s what I love about visiting the galleries at the National Gallery of Art with the Dutch still lifes — the floral arrangements. The transience, the decay and death, that’s what makes them so stunning. Of course the technique doesn’t hurt.

          • March says:

            I would stick bugs in there if I could. Seed pods, grasses, petals on the altar. (They’re always cleaning up the petals.) Fruit. Why should the flowers up there look strangled and dead? They should be glorious, the way they were made.

          • Winifreida says:

            Careful…. you’ll start an anti-flowers movement!!

          • mals86 says:

            I got all teary just reading Lee’s description: queen anne’s lace beginning to flop. Ahh…. I’m there.

          • Gretchen says:

            At least they were red glads. But really, I understand your pain– even as a little child I thought glads were tacky.

          • March says:

            One color of glads tucked into a single, giant glass container in the middle of a long table I can cope with. Or on the floor next to the fireplace. That’s where I draw the line.

          • Lee says:

            I quite like a saturated purple gladiolus… Or one the colour of claret… Or those green ones.

            Just not in stiff 1970s forms.

  • Thought I’d contribute some Baudelaire:

    “I have found the definition of Beauty, of my Beauty. It is something ardent and sad, something slightly vague, giving conjecture wing. I will, if you please, apply my idea to a palpable object, for instance, to the most interesting object in society, to a woman’s countenance. A seductive and beautiful head, a woman’s head, I mean, is a head that brings dreams at once — confusedly — of voluptuousness and of sadness; which bears a suggestion of melancholy, of weariness, even of satiety, — or perhaps an opposite emotion, an ardor, a wish to live,mingled with pent up bitterness, as springs from privation or from despair. Mystery,regret, are also characteristics of beauty.”

    • March says:

      That’s lovely. Maybe it’s cliche, but Fleurs du Mal was the time I wished I’d learned French, so I could read it and understand the nuances in the non-translated languages. But then that takes more than a couple years of French.

  • Jared says:

    Oh so fascinating, March. I am pretty obsessed with beauty and write a lot about it. It occupies so much of my thinking. I’d say Beauty is a driving force in my life; no surprise that I’ve become obsessed with fragrance. It’s pretty tricky to try and weed out the “beautiful” from a bunch of bottles that all contain beautiful things. For me, beauty involves some sense of ecstasy, something that exalts you and takes you out of yourself. (I love how ecstasy means “to be beside yourself”) I suppose it’s the fragrances that take me out of myself the most that meet the criteria; not all of them do. Usually the ones that I have to pick myself up off the floor after smelling are the beauties. I know the list for me includes Jicky and Sycomore, but others are hard to conjure without actually looking. Mitsouko probably should be on that list, as should Coromandel. And even Bulghari Black, strangeness and all, qualifies to me as stunning and beautiful. When I go home after work, I’ll probably update, but this is quite the dillemma, Defining beauty itself is so hard, let alone how it lives in a bottle of perfume!

    • March says:

      Yeah, but if you took out strange, what would be left? I adore Mitsouko, it’s probably my Number One, but it’s not on my beautiful list, because it’s just too difficult for that. I can totally understand how people hate Mitsouko. So that definition is tricky. “Mass market appeal” certainly isn’t what I’m going for, but maybe more conventional? Less prickly? 😕

      • Musette says:

        See, I think Mitsouko is beautiful precisely because it can be a bit challenging. Mitsy and I squared off against each other last night, she gave me The Wooly Eyeball – she won. I just wasn’t up to the fight.

        xo >-)

        • March says:

          See … that’s the issue. When I show Mitsy to my theoretical stranger, he says, ew, wth is that? /:) So you and I know Mitsy is The Queen, but she can’t be on my 31RC list.

      • Jared says:

        Hmm, here’s a question: is beauty about arresting the attention with something novel, something that always keeps you on your toes? If something gets “normal”, is it still beautiful? Maybe beauty needs a wee touch of the strange to capture us? I’m thinking of how we become habituated to things and no longer recognize them in the same way; we take the edge off. I wonder if beauty is something that keeps us from doing that. Although, as I think about it, it need to be “strange” to accomplish that. Maybe we’re not supposed to be able to totally rest in the presence of beauty; it will always rock our world in some way.

        • March says:

          Ah, but I was trying (in my own inept way) to week out the strange. The strange is initially offputting. If I were given one chance to present, say, five fragrances to someone, saying these are beautiful, what would they be? I agree about the habituation, and there’s nothing insipid on my list. But which scents are beautiful and yet not “difficult” however you want to judge that?

          • March says:

            Uh, that would be “weed” out the strange.

          • Jared says:

            Ah I see what you mean. Makes me think of some couture fashion, too. I still might say Mitsouko is on the list, since that’s the one fragrance where strangers comment to me how great I smell. There must be something there that registers as beautiful if it stops traffic. But, what just springs to mind is No. 5. It has its nay-sayers, but still, immediately, No. 5. And perhaps Iris 39. That’s another one where people actually notice and tell me how good I’m smelling- often strangers or coworkers who don’t take notice of my scent otherwise. Maybe there’s something about these florals with strong musky or animalic notes. Works for me! Sometimes I hate being cliche, but these classics have been around a long time for a reason….makes me think beauty endures.

  • Masha says:

    Very insightful post! I found that in the last year (my post-ennui period), I’ve given away practically all of my “quirky” scents, and my collection is now down to about half of what it was. My regular beauties are Mitsy, LHB, Nu, Barbara Bui, and my lovely HGs, Magical Moon and Anarchy. These are what I end up wearing most of the time, like 90%. When I try new things these days, they’re nearly all naturals, from somewhere far away from Europe. Somehow the actual plant scents are becoming more beautiful to me, although I’ll keep wearing the scents I listed above for my next 3 lifetimes! :d

    • March says:

      I’ll take all your regular beauties (I am definitely seeing a trend in there!) It’s nice to see some love for Magical Moon, I thought I was the only person who cared for it. And Anarchy turned out to be great stuff, one of life’s true bargains.

  • Melissa says:

    I would love to see your list, but I understand why it would be hard to write. Asked to do the same, I would have a few scents that would easily make it, but a larger number would hover around the edges. It’s not a matter of whether I like/love the ones that get excluded. I just couldn’t describe them as beautiful. Compelling and wonderful, but not beautiful.

    This afternoon, in a tiny little perfume shop, I found a bottle of vintage Femme parfum. It was old, with a slightly battered box. The owner of the shop allowed me to sniff the stopper to see whether it had turned. It had not. It was beautiful. 😡

    • March says:

      Absolutely. Trying to define what’s beautiful — but not strange/wonderful or compelling or what have you … it’s a much smaller group.

      Sigh. Vintage Femme parfum. I hope you bought it. 😡

      • carter says:

        I am racking my brains and I can’t come up with even ONE. But that’s probably because I am not drawn to this particular category, so those that would qualify — if indeed they actually exist and I would argue that they do not — are immediately relegated to the back of the drawer.

        • carter says:

          Oh, hot damn…I think I’ve got one!*-:) I’ve already mentioned my Ondees (which I promptly forgot, along with ISM, which is probably not everyone’s idea of easy beauty) but I just had a forehead-smacking, gorgeous-without-a-shiv-and-nary-a-clown-or-squirrel-in-sight moment and I hereby humbly submit the ever lovely, ever lovin’ Bois de Violette.:d

    • Kate says:

      Did you buy the vintage Femme??? Vintage Femme might be the intersection between beautiful and sexy in fragrance. Where is swoon avatar? 8-}

    • Robin R. says:

      Well, I mean, of COURSE you bought it.

    • Nina Z says:

      I bought some vintage Femme extrait from an antique dealer (good price). When I put some on, I thought it was completely gone. It smelled kind of like nail polish remover. But after several minutes, it started improving, and then after about an hour it started smelling very beautiful, and just like I remembered from back in the day (believe it or not, my best friend in high school only wore Femme). Anyway, is that what happens with the old stuff? Or is it possible to find vintage Femme that smells good from the beginning?

      • sweetlife says:

        Yes, and yes. It’s very common for the top notes to degrade in vintage frags. They are the most volatile aromatics, so they go first, and what’s left invariably smells like nail polish (acetone). As you noticed, the heavier materials in the bottom often not only survive, sometimes they even improve. (Sandalwood is a glorious example of this.) I have found vintage femme that is good from top to bottom, and some where the top notes blow over very quickly. (I have a lot, because it was my Mom’s signature frag and I was looking for a good bottle for her.) I usually have better luck with the extrait/parfum versions of vintage perfumes–more of the good stuff, less alcohol to evaporate, less sparkle to begin with…

      • March says:

        What Sweetlife said. While it’s possible to find great top-to-bottom vintage fragrances, more often the top notes have gone off, and then it all depends on how terrible that part is. 🙂 I have a couple things that the tops are *really* off on, and for sure they go that acetone direction. But if you give it awhile, as sweetlife noted, the base is pretty darn fabulous.

      • March says:

        PS You may already know this but look for stuff (if possible) that’s been boxed or in an opaque container. Kept in a dark closet is great too. Light and heat are the enemies, stuff that’s been sitting out on dressers can be pretty off.

        • Nina Z says:

          Thanks! This was very helpful. As it happened, I thought I’d made a terrible mistake the first time I tried it (which was at night). But I didn’t want to throw away the beautiful little bottle (and box that it came in). So I left it in my cabinet (and was discouraged from purchasing more vintage). Then, for some reason, just yesterday I was drawn to try it again, and to wait patiently to see what happened. Then it absolutely bloomed after a very unpromising beginning. So now I think I will hunt down a few more fragrances from my past (worn by me or people I loved).

          • March says:

            I have a bottle of Replique like that — heedious at the top, lovely drydown, gorgeous bottle.

            I buy a lot of vintage. You just have to accept upfront (if you’re buying online) that it’s a crapshoot. But at they’re best they’re astonishing. The civet/musk ones can be extraordinary.

          • March says:

            I can’t believe I just typed “they’re.” :”>

          • Flora says:

            I have a bottle of Replique – very old – that I took a chance on at auction. At first I thought, well, there is my $$ down the drain, at least I did not pay too -oh, what’s that, it’s GOOD! I had to wait it out, but it was worth it! Just gotta put it on a half hour early and let the nail polish burn off. :d

  • Flora says:

    Funny you should ask -I have been testing some new(to me)perfumes that are undeniably beautiful, in both comforting and strange ways, and I am finding it hard to even think of wearing anything that is not as good. I “should” have gone to TJ Maxx today to check out the perfume bargains, I had the time for once, but somehow I just did not want to think about mainstream commercial scents today. Instead I over-applied something exotically gorgeous and spent the day enjoying it and thinking about why I loved it so much. Maybe I have also reached that final stage of obsession now?

    • March says:

      But what was the exotically gorgeous scent?!? I’ve given up on our TJ Maxx, they never have the stuff that others do.

  • carter says:

    To quote from a recent post on Facebook (who was of course quoting Baudelaire), “Le beau est toujours bizarre.”:o):o):o):o)@};-