Let’s All Get Weird

Last week I posted on Balmain Vent Vert, and we had one of our quasi-regular sob-fests about some of our favorite vintage perfumes that either died a quiet, sad death some time ago or live on in a dreadful new formula (bust out the tissues and cue the Adagio for Strings.)   Then in comments we had some polite, fun discussion/dispute about which still-produced classics are worthless crap that profane their holy vessels and which are still, ya know, pretty good or at least okay.

I used to hate those posts when I was a newbie.  I’d sit there with tears welling up in my eyes and think, goddammit, look at everything I’ve missed!  If someone reviewed Jacomo Silences or vintage Diorissimo, well, I had to get online (at a fragrance discounter or, for discontinued scents, eBay) and buy an entire bottle of something that I might hate.  (Looking at you, Jacomo Silences.)   I don’t know how many bottles I bought early on that I ended up giving or swapping away, but it was certainly more than I kept, and I’ve only missed a few.

So let’s throw the newbies a bone today and yank their chain a little at the same time – let’s talk about strange.  Back in the summer of 2005 I read the Chandler Burr article about “weird perfumes” in the The New York Times.  I was enough of a noob then that I hadn’t smelled but one scent on the list – Chanel No. 19.  I stuffed the article in my handbag and toddled over to Saks and asked them to show me that Mitsouko thingamabob. (You can read through the article for the others, which include CdG2, Diorella and etc.).

The man seemed a little dubious about my mission – I’d cheerfully shown him the article, after all – and I’m just about 100% sure that he was 100% sure that I was going to hate Mitsouko.  And why wouldn’t I, right?   Who the hell wants to wear Mitsouko when you could have Chanel Allure or Light Blue instead?   He handed me the atomizer of the eau de toilette and I (again, newbie) hosed myself down; no paper strip, no tentative dab on the wrist.  It’s perfume. How bad could it be?

And y’all already know the punchline, because … I got all verklempt and etc. right there in the aisle.  Because that overheated, underloved circa-2005 kinda-crappy bottle of Mitsouko EdT was so unbelievably beautiful.  Weird, yeah, sure.  That too.

Now, I admit I’ve ragged Mitsouko EdT even before they got busy in the last year or two and took out the oakmoss, because (yes) the EdP or older PdT or the parfum is sublime.  But you know what?  The current version of Mitsouko is still weird, and I’d still rather be stuck next to you wearing it than the latest offering from Kat Von D (which the teenage girls here are wearing and I wish they’d apply with a lighter hand.)

So let’s list our favorite weird scents and say why they’re weird. And okay if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket and want to try the vintage version of Diorella, you can get some on STC, along (probably) with most of whatever else people here will name, but let’s get some commonly-available stuff on the list too.  And say what it smells like to you, please, and why you think it’s weird.


March’s off-the-top-of-the-head list of four scents that made me go, whuuuuuuuuuck?


1. Bulgari Black. Is that …. rubber? (yes.  Yes, it is.  Along with some plush green florals and powdery vanilla musk).  Expanded my framework of what “perfume” could smell like. Bonus:  great weird black rubbery disk-bottle.

2. Versace Dreamer.  Does not get enough love outside the man-boards and is not in The Guide, an inexplicable oversight.  Smells like I have no idea what.  Strange.  Caramel, tobacco and tonka as re-created by a Martian perfumer based on historical texts?  Bonus: gorgeous, elegant (!) heavy bottle.

3. L’Artisan Tea for Two.  Lapsang souchong.  Or dirty socks.  Take your pick.  One of the reviews in The Guide that I think is misleading (TS makes it sound like chai, and also boring.  Boring it is not.)

4. Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia.  See #1, add gasoline and Ricardo Montalban’s Fine Corinthian Leather.  I still can’t believe the Staid House o’ Lemony Giftsoap issued this thing.

Okay, your turn!  Let’s get everyone smelling funny.

PS  I’m now at long last doing some creative writing separate from the blog.  I don’t really want to say anything else about it right now.  I have no idea what will come of it beyond the immediate, which is personal satisfaction and a reduction of That Stabby Feeling in line at Sephora behind girls wearing too much Kat Von D.  Anyway: my posts may get a bit shorter.  Not a bad thing.  And it’s not improving my inept email and other online communication skilz any.

image: Angkor Wat


  1. Good for you with the writing! Perfect!

    My weird scent: Serge Noir (or is it Noire)? It makes me realize just how sexy cumin and sweat (BO) are. Maybe because of the layer that smells to me of campfires. A top winter love.

    2nd: Mona di Orio’s Nuit Noire. The way perfume should be: growling with the sexy.

    3d: Borneo. Know you hate it! I love it, but could never bring myself to wear it. Go figure.

    • 54 responses?!?! YOU PEOPLE ARE FREAKS. In a good way. AND YOU SMELL FUNNY.

      Serge Noir (I can’t remember either!) is on here multiple times, glad to see it getting some love. I think it’s love…

      Borneo, ack, I knew that was coming.

      • that Borneo is naaasty! Not sure yet if it’s good-naaasty or ick-naaasty….but I’m willing to revisit it, to be sure – so that’s gotta count for something, right?

        xo >-)

        • good nasty!! especially if layered with some really sweet/vanilla dense Lutens like Bois Vanille or Douce Amere. also nice layered with Chergui :d

        • This marriage may never work. There is nothing nas-tay about Borneo… it’s just about the most delicious thing on earth (along with those 387 other most delicious things on the short list). :D

  2. 1. I was thinking “Nostalgia! Nostalgia!” before I even scrolled down, and lo ‘n’ behold, there it is… I’d add Annick Goutal’s Eau de Fier for a more wearable gasoline-fest (if such a thing exists!).
    2. CdG Leaves: Tea. I love the idea of Bulgari Black, but it’s a headache in a bottle for me; Leaves: Tea is tea and rubber, and it’s great.
    3. CdG 2 Woman. Not Nostalgia-weird, but still odd. Smells like a combination of ditto paper and new clothes from a swanky department store.
    4. AT Lonestar Memories. I swear it smells like burning garbage, but in a good way, somehow.

    Good on you with the writing, and I hope the kiddo’s feeling better.

    • Nostalgia is on comments multiple times too, yay!

      So is Leaves: Tea which okay I find just gorgeous, and works for me as it does you — I should have put that in the post, BBlack gives me a headache too!

  3. Weeeeeeird! I love the weird. Of course, some weird (like Alpona below) is in the nose of the beholder.

    Comme des Garcons, Leaves, Tea: Dry cleaning fluid.
    L’Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!: All that circus stuff.
    Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle: Mothballs, gasoline
    Parfumerie Generale Cuir d’Iris: Dragon leather.
    Caron Alpona: Damp cat that just bathed in orange-scented soapsuds.
    Serge Lutens Serge Noire: Volcano.
    POTL Luctor et Emergo: Luctor et Emergo
    Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque: Dry tigers around the campfire, after eating the campers.

    This is stopping with the weird that I _like_. There are plenty more that I don’t.

      • Well, Bandit sometimes smells like a slightly sweaty tiger, napping in the sun. Or maybe a panther – it doesn’t smell striped. (Hey, it’s smell – I don’t need to sound sensible, right?)

  4. Geez, everything I like is weird. So let’s start with Manoooooomalia…

    • Now see, Manoumalia was just a very nice white flower scent on me. My skin eats both skank and weird!

      • Speaking of Bluebell – I love Bluebell – and I do agree it’s weird….

          • Speaking of weird, WTF is up with the gravatars? I have a perfectly good gravatar, thenk you, and I’d like to have it back now please.

          • Sometimes these attractions for “the strange” can be so hard to explain. I remembered being in shock at how something so sharp and strange can have such a sweet and gentle name: cloves, ginger, something green, and hyacinth. I ended up buying a 100ml bottle!

  5. Yes to Bulgari Black, SMN Nostalgia, Tauer’s Lonestar Memories & PG Cuir d’Iris (which smells like lamb meat to me) above. Add to that Artisan’s Dzing! from the article, and let’s skip the unwearable revolting weirdness of ELdO’s Secretions Magnifiques. Probably my favorite strange perfume is S-Perfume’s S-eX (I think Chandler Burr’s description of it as the freshly shampooed groin of a great furry beast is spot on!). Also kudos to PG’s Pshychotrope, which I always think of as the scent Catwoman would wear. But the latest truly strange beast I’ve encountered (and that I have yet to wrap my head around) is Byredo’s gutsy new M/Mink: a mix of astringent detergent (think drain opener, rather than soap), ink, and blood. It’s supposed to have patchouli and honey somewhere in there, but they’ve hid them well underneath a thoroughly weird and modern facade.

    • PS: How could I not mention at least one CdG in a post about strangeness? My nomination goes to the transcendent Odeur 71 (I think it’s a rare case of accurate copy: the smell of dust on a hot lightbulb!).

      • I have trouble with their synthetic line. Granted they’re ALL synthetic, not referring to the materials. But they make me feel headachy… you’re right though, you need a CdG on there.

      • Really? (perks up) Dust on a hot lightbulb? I like that… now wandering off to put a sample on my wishlist at TPC.

      • I don’t think I’ve tried 71, but I think Odeur 53 is like that too… weird and chemical and a good dose of laundry musk, but it a way that I found myself craving a full bottle, which I may cave on one of these days.

    • I was thinking M/Mink, too…. It really is the most what-the-hell?? kind of fragrance I’ve smelled this year.

        • “What-the-hell” and “must try” (especially before you buy!) are exactly the ways to describe this weird bird! I have to say, though, I love the rush I get every time I spray it (and I’m reassured that they still make ’em this edgy)!
          March, I’d be happy to send you a sample if you e-mail me your address.

  6. I’m so glad I read your post and Burr’s article: Burberry Brit Red! I love that stuff and have been craving it as the weather gets cool. I think it was LT who said it smells like wet dog at the beginning. It does! And yet, very delicious! The only really good (or actually, even just good, end stop) fragrance Burberry has managed so far.

    Yes to all your suggestions, and particularly Black. May I add Gucci Rush, as I always do? Thank you. How about Korous, Yatagan, Thierry Mugler Cologne (hey, the guy’s get some weird stuff…) Love S-ex (“Essex”)and Breath of God, for the less available stuff. Much of Serge is weird, of course – for the exports, I always think of my beloved Arabie, which is a nutty fragrance.

    • Oh yeah, Breath of God… another one I’d stick in the Eau de Pep Boys category! And Yatagan is a weirdo too, only I’m too confused by it to even muster a description.

      • Breath of God to me was a young man who had just mowed your lawn and was putting the lawn mower away in your garage. Sweaty guy + gasoline + lawn mower exhaust + garage.

    • Nope, not letting you put Rush on here because I lurve it so much and it’s a comfort scent to me now. 😉

      Can you believe I still don’t know what Brit Red smells like? Must fix that because I think I’d love it.

      Kouros and Yatagan, hehe

  7. Hey! Love this topic. I also love that you’ve basically said, “Hi, I’m March, and a mere 5 years ago I hardly knew squat and hadn’t ever smelled Mitsouko, so don’t fret that you’ll never catch up!”

    Anyway, SO with you on Nostalgia. I just sent a sample to a friend and warned, “DO NOT try this if you are not prepared for a big ol’ SERIOUS whiff of gaz-oline that will make your eyeballs pop out.” Love that freakshow and everything that comes with the drydown. I’m with Carter; I love the weird, but for a short list:

    – Serge Noire: Jarvis mentioned this today and I just spritzed some on. I still actually laugh every time at those ‘WTF?!’ top notes of cinnamon plus… some bitter, salty, nasty, cumin horrors… but I end up enjoying it.
    – PG Cuir Venenum: Someone’s really sweet-tart fruit smoothie spilled all over this fine Italian leather sofa. Woopsie! Can we do it again?
    – SMN Melograno: I finally tried this earlier this year and came to love it. There is something so odd but compelling about it … it’s like someone hyper-concentrated the scent of 100 bars of Ivory soap… but in a good way. Upon first sniff, it was definitely one of those true “WTF is this?” moments. That aldehydic soapiness has turned into true love though. Calling this “pomegranate” is some really sick Italian joke; probably related to organized crime or Catholic exorcism.

    • By the way, I can’t wait to see how this thread turns out. Also, I think it’s hilarious that “normal people” would read all this and be likely to think, “You all are some serious freaks.”

      • How can they give Serge Noire one star?!? I love it. Smells like cuminy goodness to me… strange for sure, though. And I see it’s been named multiple times.

        You’re the one who got me to try Melograno! You are right, it’s so weird. I felt like it was a hyper-concentrated vegetal musk sort of like Kiehls underneath the soap.

    • Melograno! Fascinatingly weird… as I think I’ve mentioned, it comes across to me as “Mom’s No.5 and Dad’s Old Spice made a baby” (which, theoretically, would be me). I mean, it does fascinate me, but it’s too much like having the ‘rents standing right behind me all day for me to actually wear it.

      (Thanks for the sample, Joe!)

        • Whereas I totally dig wearing it, but I am weird like that for sure. I’ll wear almost anything.

          • which is why I adore you! did you get my marriage proposal, btw? I checked with El O and he said it was okay – anything to get me to stop thrusting my wrist under his unwary nose, demanding him to ‘smell this!’ (his reaction to Yatagan? Priceless)

            xo >-)

            • As long as El O is okay, then I’m down with it!

              C’mon… what’s NOT to love about Yatagan. Lemme know when the package turns up. :)

            • Last night I was about to stick my wrist under Mr. Olfacta’s nose so he could smell the new Tauer rose; noticed the long-suffering look. They do sacrifice so much for our little habits don’t they?

  8. In addition to the ones already mentioned I really love Tea For Two, Dzing! and Nostalgia, btw), I might add Annick Goutal’s Eau du Fier, which I want really bad! I don’t get TS’s review saying it smells like a brand- new car. Perhaps one on fire!

    • Another off review from The Guide, I agree. I jokingly call it Eau do Fear… along with Fahrenheit (original) and Nostalgia and DK Fuel, it’s another burning-rubber one.

      • Oooh, I was going to mention DK Fuel! I never got any strange notes out of the original Fahrenheit, though… it was all loveliness on me (I had a sample vial *ages* ago and both myself and my mom went through it… wish I still had it.).

  9. Well, you know me and attars, so I won’t go into that! Although…I just ordered samples of the new attars that are made with vetiver instead of sandalwood, one is frangipane/vetiver! Yikes! I hope it’s good weird.
    But my favorite Western Weird is Niki de St. Phalle, it’s the oddest chypre ever made, I think. But I get a lot of compliments, and now a few friends wear it, too. Go figure.
    I love Bvlgari Black, but I don’t consider it too weird, just that yummy rubber note.
    And I love Serge Noire, too! I can’t believe that 1-star review!

    • Hi Masha, so great that you mentioned Nikki! Nothing else quite like it, and I love it (not to mention the cool bottles, too — I have a 1/4-ounce mini with the snake on top). Where can you find it these days, other than eBay or TPC?
      Have not tried Serge Noire yet but I have a sample coming soon. I’m not good with cumin so I hope that’s not a deal-breaker.

      • Oops — Niki! Sorry about the spelling, haven’t had my caffeine yet …

        • Well, Niki is still made by a Swiss company, good quality, and they sell the perfume wherever her art is exhibited, and at her Tarot Garden in Italy. But I’ve also seen bottles go for less than $30 on Amazon! I can’t handle much cumin either, but Serge Noire didn’t overwhelm me. I didn’t get a BO vibe at all, more of a medicinal facet.

    • Darling Niki. There’s a review on here somewhere … I want it only two or three times a year, but nothing else will do. I think it’s clary sage? Extremely strange fragrance.

      • Clary sage! So THAT’s why I don’t get on with Niki… smelled it growing last weekend (finally) and thought it was just awful.

        • Perfume-Smellin’ Things has a review on it, too. Along with some good
          readin’ comments about it.
          Mals, are you saying it’s not the kind of sage for stuffing? :)

          • Spent last Sunday (10/10) at Monticello, sniffin’ old Tom’s newly-restored veggie garden (turns out TJ was fond of peas, who knew?) and found dozens of herbs there, all neatly labeled and all of which I made time to smell. Plain old sage smells lovely to me, and it is great in stuffing – but clary sage is a whole ‘nother weed.

        • Clary sage is great in Very Small Doses for a lot of things hormonal. But if you don’t like the scent (or if you get too big a whiff of it) it can bring up your lunch!


          • I grew it next to the driveway, they’re gorgeous, but you run over it with the car (or brush the leaves) and EVERYONE complained about the smell!

            • Really? I’ll have to grow a big thatch of it on the south side of my house, where the obnoxious bigoted Yankees live.

              • Oh, man, I needed that – erupts w laughter while she’s spitting on the screen!
                Our neighbors are blood brothers! Maybe a briar patch would do the trick!
                guffaw guffaw

                Clary sage – hmmm smelly beautiful…ain’t never smelled it m’self.

  10. Yes indeed on Serge, especially Chergui (tobacco hay wonder), Chene (wood shavings), and Douce Amere (candied absinthe) – all wonderful weirdness. Comme des Garcons 88 8 – weird saffron, yet rich and wearable. Chanel 19 was initially a bit much even for a galbanum lover like me but it is now one of my loves. Mitsouko? For me it was love at first sniff.

  11. So pleased that you are going to use that writing skill of yours!

    Regarding strange perfumes, can’t think of anything really outlandish right now, but do hate the smell of all the new detergents and fabric softeners; it makes me want to throw up whenever I go shopping and move through crowds of people whose clothes have been freshly washed. How can they bear it?

    • I am sooo with you..that detergent smell is just gross and I am always utterly astounded when people say to me that’s the smell they associate with clean and how they know their clothes are clean.

      We never use scented detergents or fabric softeners because I don’t want my kids thinking that’s the smell of “clean” or “fresh.” Horrid synthetic smells are not clean and fresh.

      • Amen on unscented laundry products. I don’t use scented ones because they make my family members break out in rashes, but I admit the ones I’ve smelled at the grocery store recently are just hideous.

        (Okay, fine, I don’t mind a small dose of original Downy fabric softener, especially if we’re going to hang clothes on the line.)

        • It makes you wonder, what are they putting in detergents to create those synthetic smells that commonly cause rashes? Clearly something caustic!!! [But a small dose Downy out in the air never hurt anyone ;) ]

          So the moral of the story is you can’t put oakmoss in perfume, but you can put synethic additives in laundry detergent which causes skin irritations…I just don’t get it. ;)

          • Good point ,give me that oakmoss anytime. My daughter thinks Une Rose is weird and I smell like I’ve rolled in a wet wood then cut the roses …well we all have fantasies I guess. I love the stuff and drown myself in it ,sat next to a woman last week who was sniffing madly and giving me bad looks.

        • I use unscented castile soap (I scent mine, but buy it without) Even with the scent, the clothes have no smell, are soft and nice, and it takes less than half the usual amount of commercial soap to get everything–including bedding– pristine. It even whitens.

          //plug over//

    • Fourth on this one … I wonder, are we getting sensitized (more sensitive) to that smell? It seems stronger than ever. Or are folks who use it getting DE-sensitized so they’re making it stronger? If I can smell your Spring Fresh Cheer walking by you on the street, I think it’s too much.

      • did you get that article I sent you that said, essentially, that following the detergent instructions (use one cup, no TWO – or whatever) is actually DAMAGING washers and dishwashers? Seems we only need about half of what the mfrs recommend on the washbottle (and of COURSE you are surprised?). The rest of it is just gunking up the machine. Folks who do nothing any more strenuous than sitting at a desk all day, dump detergent in as if they’d been down in the sewers all day!

        xo >-)

        • Yup. I read it. I put in a minuscule amount of detergent since we have a front-load, and I’ve taken to skipping every other wash even so.

  12. This is all making me want to trawl through the decants and find the Serge Noire, Loved Musette’s minilesson from F. Malle in which he suggested Noires Epices for an unvoidably trying day at the offic. And you knos what? It worked!

    • Sorry about the spelling ladies and gents 3;40 half asleep and have eo get up for reals in a little over an hour:((

      • Oh, hush. It’s Monday. And we don’t care anyway with the spelling thingy.

        SO glad you were able to profit from M. Malle’s minilesson. I thought it was gonna work for me but nooooo! I ended up smelling like an seasoned, unbaked Easter ham.

        xo >-)

    • Noir Epices was mean to me! Went all stabby and I had to break out the vintage Youth Dew, which ate it in about nine seconds.

      • Isn’t Noir Epices weird? It makes cinnamon and cloves COLD. I mean, icy cold. Works great on my Slavic/Scandinavian hubby, though. I told him it was like being outside in a blizzard, looking in a window at somebody sitting by a warm, cozy fireplace.

  13. For me it is Annick Goutal Folavril – nail polish remover, Costes – furniture polisher and Guerlain Nahema – pickles. I am sure I would remember much more with time passing ;-)

    • Those Goutals definitely have that polish remover, Petite Cherie does that on me… fortunately it doesn’t last.

  14. Weird…by who’s standards? :-?

    My beloved Bandit…a green scent wielding a leather whip
    PdN Vie de Chateau…a barnyard on a summer day
    Miller Harris L’Air du Rien…my boho hippie scent
    L’Heure Bleu…so melancholy so wonderful
    Aromatics Elixir…my power scent thats like a slap in the face

    those are off the top of my head. I’m sure I could come up with more.

  15. I’d add CB I Hate Perfume’s I Am a Dandelion. Moves from dirt to green leaves to spicy dandelion in about 1/2 hour. A wild ride that I greatly enjoy!

  16. 2nd on the PdN Vie et Chateau. Sweet like concentrated white grape juice.
    Bois Farine. To me it really does smell like Cream of Wheat.
    Angel. Still don’t get this one at all.
    Vintage (or any I guess) Rive Gauche. Too much metal for me.
    Nuit Noire – Yes, it’s got the loaded diaper at first but then…so lush! I wear this at home, alone.
    Any Montale Oud (except for red) — like opening a box of band-aids.

  17. Love your writing, and this is such an interesting topic.
    As a newbie myself, I have yet to branch out to the niche perfumes, so many of these are only legends to me. I have a small bottle of Black, and the rubber note is great. But I consider L’Heure Bleue an odder fragrance (and it is my absolute favorite). Cacherel’s Eden is pretty odd and I wear it infrequently, but my hubby always comments on it. (He likes it).

    • Eden was so weird, I had to give it to a friend. I loved it, but couldn’t wear it. But it sent her into raptures! Not fair.

  18. Dzongkha- I was with a guy friend the other day (a very macho man’s man sort)who told me, “Hm…you stink pretty.” Dzongkha smells like someone dripped some of their chai tea on sizzling hot rocks.
    Cuir Mauresque- traveling on horseback and surrounded by the scent of warmed leather and the memory of crushed flowers coming off your clothing.
    Psychotrope- so much plastic at first! But it gives way to such a soft warm rainy spring day.
    Yosh Omniscent- every time I smell myself it is as if wearing a completely different scent than last sniff. It constantly reinvents itself
    Vero Onda- a trip straight to the deep woods with a murky slow stream nearby. Earthy, decaying leaves, woods and that quiet deep water.

    • Do you get single malt whiskey, like Laphroaig, from the top notes? Some of get that, some don’t.

    • I love Cuir Mauresque, but I agree that that and SMN Peau d’Espagne qualify as weird and initially jarring to the nose and brain.

      • Cuir Mauresque is straight-up hippie leather shop to me, dope, patchouli and all (I don’t even know if it has any patchouli in it; maybe my brain just infers it from the rest of the scent). Maybe I should get a tiny decant just to laugh at the olfactory hallucination.

        • I get leather with a top note that varies between single malt whiskey and some days a touch of rum. More like a Glenfiddich 21 (aged in rum barrels)than a Laphraoig (spelling?). Either way, another Lutens in the weird but wonderful category

          • Ack! I mis-wrote- I was referring to the whiskey note in the topnotes of Dzongkha.

  19. March – I want to hear more about the writing! Will bug you about it when I’m “home” in DC in November for a few weeks to visit the husband.

    Weird but I love them would be a bunch of Serges: MKK, Borneo, TC. And one that you don’t hear much about on the blogs anymore – Messe Minuit by Etro.

  20. I have tried and tried to get MKK, but it’s all fecal, vile, wet goat stink to me. I don’t get enticing skank or anything the MKK lovers describe. It’s just too over the top weird to me.

    Good Luck with the writing March…

    • MKK makes me purrrrrrr. And thanks, I’m enjoying it. Gonna try to get out my 50k words in November…

  21. I second (or third, or however many it is now) the SL Criminelle. But once you get past that opening, it’s a beaut. Similar phenomenon with Sarrasins — you get hit with a funky camphor/menthol blast but not long after, a gorgeous jasmine appears. Comme des Gardons’ 2 can be a bit weird with the ink business, but I enjoy it all the same. Thanks for a great post, March, and congrats on the writing gig!

    • I didn’t think TC was all that weird, I’d call it, “bracing”.

      • Yep, “bracing” is a good word for it, especially for those of us who are familiar with it and love it. But I think many non-perfume folks might find it off-putting and rush to scrub it off.

  22. I like Bvlgari Black – smoky tea and new Keds, how could that not be great? Could be new bicycle tire instead of new Keds, but it seems that clean powdery rubber evokes happy childhood for me.

    Dzing! is total Virtual Circus. I wear my sample, but not out of the house.

    Smell Bent One is along the same Weird+Comforting line as Black – it’s old books and sawdust and vanilla extract, and I must buy a bottle before this limited edition goes away on 11/1.

    I find that mildewy opening of Nuit de Tubereuse very, very weird. Wearing it is like hacking my way through the jungle with a machete before getting to the wilderness inn where I can change into a bias-cut silk gown and sip mimosas on the veranda.

    • And I do hope you’re enjoying your writing, March – I started writing again for fun two years ago, after a hiatus of, gosh… lessee, at least 15 years. I’m currently gearing up for my 3rd year of NaNoWriMo.

        • One is really great.

          And here’s a link to National Novel Writing Month’s site:

          Basically, you write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. I did actually write 51K words last year, but that didn’t get me even halfway done, and I’m sort of stuck on how to tell this big long epic saga story in one book – I don’t think it can be done. So I have tucked that book away for awhile and have begun planning for a new one which is a much less involved plot. 50K is a short novel, in any case.

          • Wow, that sounds like fun! How many hours a day does it take to get to 50,000 words in a month? Do you get your plot in place before November begins or is that considered cheating?

            • You can pre-plot, pre-background, pre-plan chapters and characters, whatevs. You just can’t actually *write* until 12:00:01 am on Nov. 1.

              On average, it’s 1667 words a day, but I never manage that. Some days it’s 300 words, others it’s 3500. I never know.

                • Yay! It is tons of fun, even if you get too busy to finish. (Strangely, people keep poking me while I’m writing and whining things like, “I don’t have any clean jeeeeeaaans!” or “I’m holding my brother hostage unless you feed me. NOW.”

                  Look me up if you feel like it, I’m Mals86 over there too.

                  • It’s already like that now, think how insufferable I’ll be if I’m trying to write a novel.

    • I got a sample of One in the oil…. I’ve been thinking about getting it, too

  23. Weird that worked – Dzing!
    Weird that didn’t work – most of the SLs

    • :((

      xo >-)

      (that’s okay – they don’t work for me, either. The only one I’ve fallen in love with is Bas des Soie)

      xo >-)

      • Just sniffed Bas de Soie this weekend and loved it! And luckily the Barneys SA kindly gave me a nice sample so I can think it over. Hyacinth and iris– I call it special and wonderful, but not weird.

        • If you decide you love it, let me know (click on my name) – I’m working on a split and we still need a person or two..

          xo >-)

          • Did you find a 3rd splitter? I’m in if it’s not too late. I’m backtracking this morning and happened to notice this.

      • Oh, Musette!!! Can’t believe this, but remember when you sent all of those Serges to me (XOXOXO – so sweet of you)? I tried a bunch of them, all to no avail. Yes, interesting, but not what I’d choose to wear. Well, there are a few that I haven’t tried yet, so last night, I dug around in my sample box, and pulled out MKK. WOW!!!! Will have to try it again in the light of day, but what a fantastic perfume! Yes, it’s duuuurty, but musky clean as well. This one’s got me intrigued. Who knew I was a skank girl??? Cumin is usually taboo. But civet may not be so bad…

  24. How about Sonoma Scent Studio’s Fireside Intense? Robin at NST said that it has a note like the burnt pieces of meat left on a grill. Who knew that’s what I want to smell like? Glad to here that you’ve carved out an opportunity to do some writing – let us know what you’re working on.

    • I know a LOT of guys who would LOVE to smell that on a woman. Or anywhere.

    • You’ve reminded me of Kolnish Juchten, there’s another smoked-meat scent, with a side of sauerkraut.

      • Ha ha! I get that smell in my German kitchen twice a week! And you know, when I cook that, it’s always crowded in there, with guys!

  25. I think most newbies would find the older Guerlains to be weird, even in modern formulations. Shalimar, Mitsouko and L’Heure Bleu can usually be found. Heck, Shalimar can be found at Sephora.

    Plenty of people find Serge Lutens Miel de Bois to be strange, although since it is non-export it can be hard to find.

    The weirdest ever was the one to AVOID AT ALL COSTS- Secretions Magnifique.

    • Giggling, I heart MdB, I think you commented on my post … I bought a bottle, because I had to. I wear it. Doesn’t smell like pee to me.

  26. My current ‘weird’ is this gorgeous vintage No22 I just got. I’m in a honey-scented powder factory where a gasoline bomb just went off!

    Contemporary weird/bad is, and always has been, Angel. Like Olfacta, I just don’t get Angel – it makes my head ache and my skin itch. And it gets into every pore of my being – and I’m not even wearing it!

    Contemporary weird/good is Aromatics of Doooom! That stuff shuts down my sinii like a steel door – but still, there is something so compelling about it. I wish there were a way to experience it from about a block away!

    xo >-)

    ps. Mitsouko is Deeply Weird in all its iterations. Yes, it is the most beautiful fragrance of all time and I worship at Her shrine and always will (I hope) but! it’s got some odd moments to it…all the way through.

    • you get gasoline from No 22?? Wow! I get that from the openings of the classic Guerlains but never from a Chanel. Will have to track down the vintage No 22 – on me it has always been powder, aldehydes, and wonderful flowery orange. Sigh.

  27. Yes, Black. I have to be in the mood, but it’s quite something. Yes, Tubey Crim, although it’s a fake-out – it goes quite normal after that bizarre opening. Yes to Patch 24, although, again, another weird opening with a very accessible drydown. AG Ambre Fetiche is nice & leathery/rubbery & off-putting to those in search of the Pretty. My darling underloved Harissa – because it really is quite foody, only it’s not the usual foods we think of when we call a fragrance “foody.” It’s more like salad. Which is weird. HdP Tubereuse L’Animale – tubey + immortelle. WTH thought that one up? And yet, so very yummy. Yeah, Breath of God – what… IS that??? Probably the weirdest thing I’m wearing currently is Manoumalia. Weird start to finish, and it’s fragrance crack for me. I swear, once I start I could go through a bottle in a day. Huff, huff. I’ve never thought of Mitsouko as weird, just unfriendly. Oh, Filles en Aiguilles! That’s a little weird – still can’t decide if I need some. Sadly, am surrounded by girlfriends who are into the Chancel Chance Eau Fraiche Light Summer Sparkle Clean stuff, so pretty much everything I wear gets classified as weird by someone. Between my ‘fumes & my shoes I’m pretty sure they just keep me around as a yardstick for their own normalcy.

    • ROFL at the ‘yardstick’ analogy! One of my oldest pals always takes a look at my ‘getup’ (as she calls it), then looks down at her St John suit with a complacent smirk. Even when I wear my own StJ suits I always pork it up with a funky pair o’ shoes, so her normalmeter stays firmly on the side of Right!

      Re Mitsouko: she is not unfriendly – really! She is just a bit aloof. But she doesn’t mean any ill-will. Give her a(nother) chance!

      xo >-)

  28. I’m seconding Calypso’s nomination of Le Labo’s Patch 24, but to me it smells like pure ichthammol! Also agreeing with Dzing, which I like but don’t wear, as it smells *exactly* like my skin smells after a long day at the Keeneland horse sales!

    • You’ve just made me realize why I love Dzing! I miss horse sales. I really do love Dzing!

  29. Weird is in the nose of the sniffer, so here are mine:

    – Lauder Azuree – lemon ice and suede
    – It must be said – Shalimar! – that tar slaps me right upside the head (and I love it)
    – L’Air du Desert Marocain – like a fire started in the spice rack at a Middle Eastern restaurant
    – Aromatics Elixer – eau de medicine cabinet
    – Secretions Magnifiques – goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway

  30. Histoires Des Parfums Marquis de Sade: plums and leather with a heapin’ pile o’skank. I loves it. The other cube slaves wonder what I stepped in.

    Aftelier Tuberose and Cepes: earthy and floral, as if your white flowers grew fur and claws.

    Profumum Olibanum: How dark do you like your incense? Satanic? Well, here ya go.

    CB IHP Musk Reinvention: Smutty and vaguely fruity. Surprisingly strong as well.

    CdG Stephen Jones: Violets and Ozone and Metal. Bracing and cold in the best way. Others may mistake you for an android.

    • I thought about that Stephen Jones – I have a sample awaiting test, and have only sniffed from the vial so didn’t list it, but I *really* liked that one sniff.

    • I enjoyed the Marquis perfume until the far drydown, when it turned into poopy diapers. EEEEKKK!!

    • I loves me some Marquis de Sade too! I get booziness from this as well. Always wish someone would ask what I’m wearing.

  31. I am still hankering for that wonderful, memorable strangeness of Le Feu d’Issey. But I don’t want to pay for it on ebay. So I’m trying to find something else. There’s something about Comme des Garcons 3 that reminds me of Le Feu. I just might buy it. (I don’t find Black weird – like many leathers, it’s comforting to me.)

  32. Oudh Weird:

    I recently got a GWP with my Al Mas split – Surrati Tom Oudh. I’m new(er/ish) to oudhs so forgive me if I’m just not past the curve yet but this one is fascinating because of its non-oudishness. Sort of like Oud-slept-with-Aqua Velva. Cool. But strange.

    xo >-)

  33. SL Cedre is sweet wood shavings, not an easily worn scent.
    CB Violet Empire: this is real. Real dirt real violet, real unwearable as it ain’t very pretty. I like it.
    Caron Tabac Blond EdP opens with an unused diaper powdery scent. Weird.
    Jo Malone Dark Amber and Ginger Lily: it sounds so beautiful, but an oddity
    Cuir Ottoman: the whoosh of gasoline opening is strangely addictive. But I know many people, including myself, who love the smell of gasoline.
    Why have I never smelled BB and CdG Leaves?

    • The BB you have no excuses 😉 as it is all over the place, including Nordstrom. The CdG leaves series — I thought it had been discontinued, but maybe it’s just hard to find. It certainly isn’t the sort of thing one runs across all the time.

      Perfect description of Violet Empire.

      • I’ll send warm thoughts while your man is
        out of the country. I know, I know, never tried BB, no excuses. It’s like saying I never
        heard of Angel:)
        CdG? Next on my to do list.
        If I had four underage children
        and the man was gone, I’d be cradling some mighty fine scotch after hours…

      • Don’t know if you’ll get this since it’s an old post. I’m clapping my hands w glee because? In a recent post you were commenting on VV; I had responded and said it reminded me
        of Private Collection. So–this morning while reading Bois de Jasmin VV was mentioned in a reference to Private Collection. I’ve only been ‘seriously’ pursuing perfume for maybe 2 years, and it’s been so frustrating to not discern notes as much as I would like, and I often feel ‘shouldn’t I be further along?’ on my journey. Reading that BdJ post made me feel damn good. And your compliment last week about me nailing Violet Empire boosted me as well. Usually, I’m like what? When I read comments of oh, yea, the saffron, the cardamom, the this, the that it gets me crazy. I have to really ‘think’ about what I’m sniffing and allow the bouquet to unfold unless it’s a smack in the face.

        Hope you’re not missing the Big Cheese too terribly much. I

        • See, I do get old comments! But now that we’re getting so many (NO COMPLAINTS) I can’t always answer each of them… good for you for your scent ID. And I don’t think being able to “discern” those notes is some sort of, what, snob requirement for perfumery. I’m all for people loving what smells good to them. But if we’re going to talk about perfume (sorta the way people talk about wine?) it’s hard to do it without developing an additional vocabulary — which btw doesn’t make me right and anyone else wrong. I was just thinking today about how some folks don’t get cumin at all from SL Oranger and some get too much! Anyway, I’m glad you’re enjoying your journey.

  34. Dzing! – total horse stable to me, from sweaty beast to leather tack, to hay and dung. Love it. But it’s well freaky. Love wearing it to the supermarket, but then, I live in the country so no-one turns a hair.
    And I think Chergui can be pretty strange – it’s just unplaceable to me. (Of course I have a bottle!)

    • Chergui! Sigh. I think the luscious almost sweet note I get is hay and all the rest of the stuff gives it that great weirdness. I also love it layered with Chene. Double sigh.

    • Bal a Versailles has that horse-stable quality as well, but with powder.

    • Chergui smells amazing on so many people, I am grateful to have a friend here who wears it. Unfortunately it is almost unbearably sweet on me, not sure how I create that mess.

  35. March, I hope you’re going to divulge where your creative fingers are taking you real soon!

  36. Vintage Givenchy Gentleman – sweaty, honey skank that is almost urinous but not really and I love it.
    I can’t wear Bvlgarie Black but my GRANDMOTHER loves it, she’s 81.

    • That’s so great about your grandmom! That reminds me of when we went shopping with Patty’s momma and she bought the Prada Homme for herself.

  37. I nominate:

    CdG 3- Herbal with a dash of “I am an alien”
    CdG Garage- If you want to smell like car grease, vinyl and musty plastic flowers…
    JAR Shadow – That dill pickle note is bizarre
    Stepahanie de Saint-Aignan Voleur de Ciels- Sweet-ish decaying, rotting flesh

  38. Montale Chocolate Greedy/JO Malone Blue Agave & Cacao – both get the chocolate part EXACTLY wrong, dusty stale cocoa choking in the back of my throat and in the case of the Jo Malone, the weirdness of the agave only adds to the problem, good thing it’s “only”‘ cologne, but, WTF?! I have smelled chocolate perfumes that are so much better, and I know that at least in the case of Montale it was not a budget shortfall. Blech. Some people love them though, so go figure!

  39. One big ol’ weirdo on me was Kenzo L’elephant. Wowza. When it gets colder I’ll dab out a big judiciously because man can it be a spice cloud otherwise. Depending on the day I either really like it or it’s a complete miss.

    The CDG Stephen Jones I thought was a little different, but I also found it completely wearable, and I keep waiting for someone who hates it and wants to sell their bottle at a discount. So far it seems I’m not the only one who loved it, because I haven’t seen any bottles on the cheap. (Woe!)

    I love the weirdness of of Bulgari Black. I like to make the husband wear it.

    Congratulations on the new gig! I can’t wait to hear about it more.

    • Christine, I’m with you pretty well all the way–except that I can’t take Kenzo L’Elephant even in small dabs! The over the top sweetness drowned out everything else for me–I felt like I’d walked inside a sugar molecule–or maybe an aspartame one. Scrubbed immediately (which was sad because I bought the bottle unsniffed based on reviews–it now awaits trading!)

      • Hehe, loook, in my book you haven’t achieved true perfumista status until you’ve racked up a few regret FBs.

  40. Glad to see the love for Niki de St Phalle–I was totally won over with the first sniff, and now search for other tagete/marigold scents wherever I can find them. All recommendations are welcome, BTW.

    Didn’t see my SOTD in the comments: Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne. Only wear it in the autumn/winter–the sharp absinthe-like aspect (guess it’s the black hemlock?) doesn’t work for me in warmer weather; ditto SL Douce Amere. Still not certain about Satellite’s Padparadscha yet, either.

    • I don’t know any other marigold scents, and Niki seems to me to be in a class all by herself!

      That Ormonde Woman is a dark thing, isn’t it? It is perfect for winter. Seems to bleak for summer.

    • I love Ormonde Woman. I bought a bottle of hemlock absolute just so I could get a hit of that OW weirdness!

  41. I second Etro Messe de Minuit, which may be the weirdest incense I own.
    CB:IHP Wild Hunt, Black March, or I Am a Dandelion–pick your memory trigger!
    CDG: Tar–I find it weirder than either Le Labo Patchouli 24, Black, or Kolnisch Juchten
    Andree Putman Preparation Parfumee–it smells like driftwood–I didn’t even know that driftwood has a smell.
    Aftelier Tango–a medicine chest next to a pile of roasted seashells, and gorgeous.

  42. Am I the only one who doesn’t find Black at all strange? I can’t seem to get any rubber from my vial — just a nice but rather tame ambery frag.

    If I want disturbing waves of olfactory David Lynch then I would reach for the aforementioned Stephen Jones — love that comment about people mistaking the wearer for an android — and PG Querelle, which I adore. Wearing it always feels like I have pasted a miniature de Chirico on my wrists — things are in places they just should not be in a right-side up world. There’s that citrus-vetiver opening followed by rye bread and wood shavings from a very new pencil. All lying over a heart-breakingly dusty road.

    Man, I love that stuff!

  43. Madini’s Tuberose and Ambergris. When I first smelled the Tuberose, I thought my sample vial had gone over. Now I realize that rotten banana/slightly garbagey thing is the point.

    And the Ambergris smelled, bluntly, like vomit on me. Literally. I scrubbed, and was left with the sweet, warm smell everyone raved about.

    If I can mention a little purrfumista, my cat likes it when I hold her in one arm and spray myself with Jean Nate. I think she associates it with going to bed.

    Once I was putting on makeup in the mirror and Newt (the cat) came in. I picked her up to hug her and noticed how good she smelled.

    Suspiciously good–the little devil had gotten into some tuberose scented perfume oil. I have no idea how, since I keep them in the fridge, but her tummy smelled like tuberose.

  44. I don’t feel like commenting on perfume. I’m just goddamn glad you are writing.

    WOO WOO ALERT-weird confession coming up.

    Several years ago, I was on the BART escalator at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, headed for work. I heard a voice, exactly like the commuter behind me saying something. But it wasn’t the commuter behind me. It was The Muse and it said, “Your life is going to continue to be f***ed up until you start writing again.”
    It was right.

    Do not pass go, do not dawdle, do not makes excuses. WRITE and do not stop. Do not listen to Inner Critic or anything else internal or external that tries to stop you.


    • I’m actually copying your response and posting this to my backboard. I may make it part of my daily mantra.^:)^

  45. An unmentioned weirdo: Habinita.
    Thanks for this interesting post and hilarious comments!

  46. This was so fun! Thanks.
    March– I hope to read what you are writing some day.
    Weird but wonderful to me
    Mechant Loup–hazelnut, whiskey, sandalwood, mmmmm.
    Vol de Nuit–plenty weird for me. A whiff of gas station. Love it.
    Kingdom– Cumin at first, but a warm hearted vanilla drydown.

  47. most weirds above have become loves for me…..i dont know weird anymore

  48. Cumming and Cuba. Not saying I like these…but waaaay weird.

    I been sitting back, enjoying this freak show ; )

  49. Missoni — very strange, ikky, weird. Sampled it because LT gave it interesting 5 star review. I keep trying dabs of it, thinking that it will eventually click with me, but no go so far. Just weird, like a mixture of bunches of things that just do not fit together and yet you can sort of smell all of them individually at the same time.

  50. Weird but wearable: ELO’s Vierges et Toreros — quite machine-like.

    • I love that one. I can tell you that when I drain my decant someday, I’m definitely picking up a full bottle. It’s like comfort, sex, and danger all rolled into one.

  51. I haven’t been in the niche game for long, but the strangest scent I have yet to encounter is M. Micallef’s Black Sea. I also made the mistake of sampling it in the middle of summer. Good Lord. Interesting, but . . . Good. Lord.

    I also agree that I find Black more straightforward than odd. For me, strangeness has a complexity to it, and vanilla + tire rubber just doesn’t boggle my mind as much as salt + sweat + wood + sunscreen as in Black Sea.

  52. Stéphanie de Saint-Aignan Embruns d’Ambre – “Windy projections of ocean, exquisite amber spray” – very beautiful, but a marine amber is fundamentally weird. I would have thought it impossible if I hadn’t sampled it.

  53. Another weirdly wearable (or wearably weird) scent: Parfum d’Empire Fougere Bengale. Sweet lavender curry. It’s oddly warm and cozy on a cool fall day but a barf bomb in warmer weather.

  54. Nasomatto Black Afghano: burnt motor oil mixed with bubbling asphalt and the occassional surfacing of other organic material

    • I hated it at first, but have to keep a sample around to wear evry once and again.

    • My whole family likes this one! The sesame note is particularly yummy.

  55. On a side note, butter popcorn smells like baby poop to me – Can’t stand it. I can do kettle corn, though. Maybe it’s the butter (or lack thereof with the kettle corn).

    I also love, love, love the smell of skunks (as the scent wafts across the countryside. Reminds me growing up in rural midwest).

  56. I DO get Tea For Two as chai. Very, very sweet, bland chai. I wish it had lapsang for me. I love lapsang.

    • So it’s not just Tania that’s nuts? 😉 That’s funny, it’s soso strong on me. Like, I have to think about where I’m going next or I won’t wear it.

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