The Smell of Ennui

ennuiSince I’ve been loving the Unum Lavs, I thought I’d try out a couple of the others.

Unum Ennui Noir – my eldest, Diva, will tell you one of her favorite mom stories, from when she was 15 or so. She went through a period of not wanting to go to school, although she mostly did, so when she just couldn’t face it, I wrote her an excuse note. I was convinced nobody read them, so over time the excuses themselves became increasingly nonsensical. One time I wrote: “Diva was unable to come to school yesterday, she had a bad case of ennui.” (I just double checked with her and she added that frequently they were written in crayon, often on the back of some bag or receipt or scrap of paper, which made them even more wretched, although at some point the kids realized these notes would be accepted as genuine, because no sane teenage forger would produce that mess.)

Typing that out was well worth it, because it’s carried me through the first several minutes of Ennui Noir; let’s sniff again. Hmmm. That’s….. unpleasant, although less so than first go-round. It’s an aromatic-woody scent (love the bottle) that starts off heavy on the lavender and winds up in vanilla-spice-candle territory. I know it’s a trick of the nose but until the entire lavender-sachet portion of this thing goes away, it smells like mildew to me. Messe de Minuit’s unfortunate younger brother Henri (pronounced “Ennui”), suffering from a possibly terminal case of mildew. Eventually it dries down into a powdery oriental I find only mildly objectionable.  Lavender + heliotrope = jarringly unhappy combination to me.

Unum Symphonie Passion – okay, so, these two have clearly not been designed for me. It’s another woody/aromatic number, vaguely aquatic at the top, sour hemp-y vetiver in the middle, cedar/musk, hint of bitter resentment on my part that undoubtedly these things will be on my skin for days.  I’m tempted to bust out my Bill the Cat illustration, but maybe at this point people have forgotten what a bitch I was on here back in the day. Heh.

Tell you what – leave a comment and I’ll mail these two samples to somebody, and I’ll throw in a bunch of those Jo Malone summer teas (which are perfectly nice, if not particularly memorable) to sweeten the pot.



  • Ennui Noir sounds interesting… I have a lot of ennui in general for lavender scents, so many spicing it up with heliotrope would be more interesting?

    When I was a teacher, I would get some amazing excuses. Once, a kid didn’t even try – he presented his science project late, had a blank trifold board, and just drew a graph on the board with the axes “Excitement/Care about Project” and “time”. The presentation was amusing, at least.

  • Maureen says:

    I love the school absence excuse note. My daughter, when a high school senior, refused to take the bus anymore, because everyone had a car and she did not. It was a fight every morning to get her to school, and get myself to work on time. But I did, although some days she went in with her father, usually late, with some funny excuse like…ride was sleeping. I would love to be entered in draw. Lavender is a little tricky sometimes for me, but I will try it.

  • Sisty says:

    One of my kids’ friends, Jimmy Vargas, once wrote his own absence note, along the lines of “Please excuse Jimmy’s absence on Wednesday. He was out for the Gewish holidays.”

  • Tiffanie says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience writing “sick” notes for school. It’s good to know I’m not alone there. Both my teens have dabbled in what professional educators have labeled “school refusal.”

    Those fragrances do sound like they may warrant Bill the Cat’s “Ack.” 😀

    I do agree with others who commented on the gorgeous bottles. I love it when a perfume company goes with an over-the-top stopper. Is there such a thing as a bottle cap fetish? I would like to join that club.

  • Koyel says:

    Hmm, your descriptions don’t sound very appealing, but I really want to try out the Jo Malone summer teas 🙂 And these bottles are gorgeous enough that I’d love to love them, despite how you feel about them. Thanks!

  • Neva says:

    I loved the ennui excuse story and really had to lough out loud!
    Not so long ago, I’ve tried all the Unum scents and I must admit, I was not overwhelmed. They are much too incense-y for me and I could hardly see myself wearing any of them. They have such a cold and dark aura around them. I mean, I know the story behind Unum and everything, but I’ll pass, so please DNEM. The bottles look amazing, each one is a work of art and I wish they’d turn them into lamps.That would be a good business in my opinion 😉

  • Marianna says:

    These sound great. I have not explored the line at all, but am a huge fan of Lavender – although that note is tricky in parfums.

  • Ann says:

    Oh, darling, you had me ROFL with your school excuse story and then Henri — what a hoot! These do NOT sound like my cup of tea either, but they’ll make us appreciate what we DO love so much more, right? Hugs to you …

  • HeidiC says:

    Bill the Cat! Ack! These samples do not sound like my thing, but I am jonesing to try the JM tea scents…

  • Barbara B says:

    I remember Bill the Cat! And I do like a bit of snark. Lavender is not my thing, but would love a chance to try the Jo Malones!

  • cinnamon says:

    Really hard to be a teenage girl — we called those ‘mental health days’. Just back from 2 weeks with family in NY (lordy, me, the east coast is hot) and visited Twisted Lily. Went through loads of things (Fazzolaris, Slumberhouse, Amouage Myths, some other stuff). The only thing that made a serious lasting impression — taking me out of a year’s meh feeling about perfume — was Hiram Green Dilettante. This is some serious: beautiful, skanky, contradictory. Nothing mildly woody-ozonic-aromatic about it. See a bottle in my future. Thankfully, it’s actually cheaper here than in the US.

    • March says:

      I’m wearing Dilettante today! It’s a blessed change from the Unums. It’s in a deeply honeyed-orange-blossom-dirty bits phase. Excellent lasting power.

      • cinnamon says:

        It was the last thing I tried at TL and only because a friend had asked me to bring her a sample of it. I thought his Moon Bloom was nice — very pretty, but no wow moment. Found the Myths very well done, but, again, no wow. Dilettante is gorgeous and stands out from the other hothouse skank perfumes (Salome, Bogue Maai, etc).

  • grizzlesnort says:

    My cousin skipped school and asked my older brother who knew cursive and big words to write an excuse for him. My brother wrote about the usual sniffles but cousin explained that he’d been out nearly a month so it needed to something serious. My brother wrote:– Please excuse JR for being absent. He had leprosy. JR didn’t know what that was but the teacher did and didn’t buy it. Aww.

  • Tatiana says:

    I’m almost afraid to comment on this, as none of these sound like my thing. Please do Not enter me in your draw. My daughter’s high school was so strict the parent had to call the “attendance line” by the start of the school day any time the student would be missing school. Unless it was an excused day off, meaning that the student needed to have a form filled out with the reason she was going to be missing school and have it signed by every single one of her teachers. If you missed one teacher signature it became and unexcused absence. I was a bad mom for letting my daughter miss about 3 or 4 days of school per year to do other things than school. At graduation they announced all the students who had perfect attendance for all four years. It was a significant portion of the student body. I just looked at Dear Husband and rolled my eyes. My daughter got a great education, but we were always rebelling against some of the rules.

  • Shiva-woman says:

    I love Unum Lavs….and I LOVE ANYTHING WTH LAVENDER. Even laundry detergent. I’m one of those rare birds who will make an exception from her Spicy wood orientals and incense….to lavender and heliotrope. I grow it and love crushing it. I have all the SL lavender scents and it beats rose out for me by a mile.

  • Musette says:

    OMG! THIS is the March I’ve been missing! This made me snort my coffee out of my nose…no small feat (and really hard on the monitor). DNEM – just wanted to say The Bitch is BAAACK~~~

  • Tiara says:

    When I think back to your posts from a few years ago, all that comes to mind is funny. Sometimes hysterically funny. Discussions between you and some of the commenters was also be quite humorous. Glad you’re back. I’ve finally begun to enjoy lavender in perfume but like a teenager, it can be trouble depending on who it’s hanging with.

  • Sapphire. says:

    Love Bill the Cat! These don’t sound my style, but I have to confess I would like to be in the drawing for the Jo Malone tea scents and would pass the Unums to someone who would appreciate them more. So far, I don’t have any teenage stories that are nearly that funny. Mostly, if my kids are whiny enough not to go to school, I bring them to my office with me so that I don’t wind up having to pick them up in the middle of the day because they got sicker. Usually, it winds up that they could have gone to school just fine and they are bored to tears and drive me nuts at my office. My younger one was particularly bad about it before he could get on my computer and would pop in the exam room when I was seeing patients (luckily not during a pap smear!). Thanks for the drawing.

  • AnnieA says:

    We all need to say Ackphtt! once in a while.

  • AnnJune says:

    Hi March! I remember Bill the Cat well, although not thinking you were a bitch : ) Neither of these sound like something I would like, as I’ve always had a similar perfume tastes to yours (with the exception of Mitsouko – I know, blasphemy!) so feel free to exclude me from the draw. Just wanted to reminisce for a minute.

  • Claudia says:

    My daughter was the same. I’m looking up Bill the Cat.

  • BridgetB says:

    I’ve often jokingly described illness by funny sounding town names. E.g., Sorry, can’t come to work today, I’ve got a bad case of Minerva (NY). Perfume names is clever! Not sure about wanting to sniff these but the teas would be fabulous! Thanks for the draw!

  • bevfred says:

    I’d love to see Bill the Cat!

  • MaureenC says:

    Ennui is the natural state of the artistic teenager it’s easier for them this side of the pond as we don’t expect our young women to be all peppy – is that the word for these wretched cheerleader types?? Now I’m a great lover of Messe de Minuit so I’m wondering if I might well like this one…..

  • Nadine Barrick says:

    I’d certainly be willing to give these a try, I’m expanding out from my dirty white florals and aquatics right now….

  • Ellen M says:

    Not particularly a fan of lavender and make it sweet and I am filled with ennui. Ah the not wanting to go to school must be fairly common. We had some at our house too.

  • Akatchoom says:

    I wouldn’t want to go back to the high school years, and the pairing of your daughter’s experience with the scent descriptions leaves me nauseous…the way so many lavender scents do.

  • Rina says:

    Actually, these sound intriguing to me, as I AM Lydia Deets… Thanks for he draw.. As Mom to a newly-minted teen, I am so not ready.