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