A young ladypal of El O’s cub , visiting our bathroom, came out exclaiming “OMG! YOU WEAR FRACAS! My AUNT WEARS FRACAS!!!” (caps all hers, I swear). She shrieked on to tell me how much she liked it, etc….so my Inner Nerd went on Red Alert….and I opened up the Perfume Armoire.
Stunned. We’d just met so I’m sure she thought I was totally off the chain. I forgot how it must look to a normal person. I’m largely inured to it, of course, having seen pictures of collections way larger and more interesting than mine. But guess what: Normal people do not have entire armoires and closets dedicated to perfume. Imagine that! But! jazzed by her screeching I delved into the armoire, determined to introduce her to the genre of the Big White Flower. Hey, cub was in the shower – we had time.
It went thus:
Fracas. Vintage v. contemporary. You know, I have both (several flights, in fact) and I really can’t discern a huge difference. The vintage is a bit more nuanced because it probably has some ingredient that will make your elbows fall off – but Fracas is such an ICBM of BWF that it’s kind of hard to differentiate. After all, if an ICBM lands in your bathroom, does it really matter if it has 2kg or 3kg of plutonium? Of course not. Vaporized is vaporized. I absolutely LOVE slathering myself in Fracas, from the shower gel/body creme/powder through to the vintage perfume. Of course that only happens at bedtime when El O is out of town – even the dogs won’t come near me then, not even for a hamsammich. For as Tom says: My Big White Flower Fight is one of my favorite, and sometime favorite to hate: Fracas. In normal doses and at the right time it’s the most glorious, sexy thing imaginable. In larger doses and at the wrong time it’s like being beaten to death by hot-buttered tuberose. Note to the woman who sat somewhere behind me at “Sex and the City 2” in Century City: marinating yourself in this and plunking yourself in a crowded theater at 10am on a Sunday doesn’t make you Samantha. It makes you sickening. Sorry.
The cub-pal’s take: “uh…wow. I …”. and then sheer, panicked silence. .something tells me she’d only smelled it in passing on her aunt or maybe just knew that her aunt wore it. I don’t think she’d ever actually smelled it. Certainly not on herself. Wearing Fracas is not for the faint of heart. She seemed so poleaxed that I took pity on her and hit her with the #4 Toner. Fracas is not a Big White Flower. It is The GREAT White Flower, the Jaws of the genre. And like Jaws, love or hate, you must approach with maximum respect. 20 years from now she may want to try it again.
Next up: Carnal Flower. I don’t know if you guys recall the conversation I had with M. Malle about CF v. Fracas, where he respectfully deemed Fracas a ‘perfume’ while considering Carnal Flower to be something not perfume (at least not compared to Fracas) – and he’s right. Carnal Flower, like Fracas, is an obvious composition of its time, having a more integrated feel to it. I think Fracas sits ON the skin (as befits the era) where Carnal Flower gets a bit UNDER the skin, melding to it in a more contemporary way . Contemporary or not, overapplied it can clear an elevator in 12 seconds flat (and no, F, NOT YOU! The lady in the Barneys elevator. The one who prolly spritzed until she was floating in her shoes.)
Cub-pal take: this was hysterical. I watched this girl sniff. Close her eyes. Open her eyes. Eyes rolled back in head. . She just looked at me, spellbound. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she would have to work at Old Navy for an entire month to pay for a bottle. Plus it’s a tad too old for her – but I suspect that she will ask to try it again. And I will let her. Youth should always have something to aspire to.
Diptyque Olene – well, as you might imagine, we did a whole-arm scrub, with Lava Soap, before trying the Olene. Oh, c’mon. Like Olene can compete with Carnal Flower. Not. It’s a lovely little scent and is a great bedtime jasmine (I wore it last night in solidarity for the Chinese people who now cannot buy, wear or speak of jasmine. You can read about this insanity here). It’s BWF Lite, which is not always a bad thing and actually is a great scent for a young woman just dipping a nose into Big White Flowerss. The wisteria and narcissus greens up the jasmine enough to make it suitable for office work or a casual date, where Carnal Flower or Fracas would get you looked at funny. I wish I were more egalitarian about scents but some really do require some age-heft to pull them off with aplomb. This one is not one of those.
C-pal take: it’s interesting to watch someone try to be polite. She thought it was ‘okay’ – just okay. I think this young lady might have the making of a perfumista – NOT dissing Olene, btw. I like it quite a bit. And I think if I’d hit her with the Olene first she might’ve loved it. But after Fracas, which terrorized her and Carnal Flower, which had its slithery-slickery way with her…..le sigh. Poor Olene.
Tuberosa d’Autunno – this was a lavish gift from a fabulosa friend and my Italian stinks so it took me a minute to realize it was iProfumi di Firenze. Is there a reason that is not on the label? Or is it Italian for “if you want to know, you should learn to read Italian”. Not a bad idea…
after some research I determined it’s the same one Robin reviewed – here’s what she had to say
i Profumi di Firenze Tuberosa d’ Autunno: By no means a duplicate of Tubereuse Criminelle, but it is in the same vein, albeit without the startling top notes. Lush but cold. If you wanted to like Tubéreuse Criminelle but couldn’t, do try this one.
Cub-pal take: Okay. I LOVE this girl. I watched her parse out the notes and when I mentioned the ‘sour’ note therein that makes this tuberosa so interesting she shouted ‘YES!” as her face lit up. And here I thought I was gonna have a discourse on Soul Curve. Instead, we yarked on what that ‘sour’ note could be – if anybody knows, give ovah. T d’A has a medicinal quality that gives it an old-fashioned air, like it’s the 4711 of tuberoses. Lots of comparisons online to Tubey Criminelle and no, I STILL haven’t smelled it. Sorry. FWIW, I do not get ‘cold’ from this but I could be misunderstanding what ‘cold’ might mean. It smells a bit cinnamon-y to me.. If you get ‘cold’ from it, please enlighten me!
That’s as far as we got before she started turning green (danged shame). I sent her to the scrubbery and when she got back I spritzed her with Guerlain Eau de Cologne Imperiale. Apprehensive, she took a cautious sniff, breathed deep and said…”ohhh. that’s NICE”, as all the bones in her face relaxed, like her fever just broke and her mom pulled fresh, clean sheets over her.
Hey, sniffing BWFs is Hard Work!
So you BWF Lovers and Haters: do you have contenders for the Great White Fight? There are so many BWFs to consider – do you have any less daunting recommendations for her? She’s still pretty young (20) and this was a toss into the deep end of the pool. Should I back up to mainstream? Your thoughts?