Pretty Smoky, Classic, Dirty

It’s definitely warming up, although not hot, and we’re very close to the date it’s considered safe to leave tender plants outside, although I always keep an eye on the weather, so changeable here. Last night it poured for about twenty minutes, despite rain not being in the forecast at all. It’s been weeks since it rained, so everything looked sparkly and lovely this morning.

“Pretty” is a word I used dismissively a few years ago if describing a fragrance. The word “merely” was sort of implied, a merely pretty fragrance, as opposed to delightfully strange or heartbreaking or ground-breaking or brain-melting. You know what? There’s a range of what “pretty” can be in any well-curated fragrance wardrobe, as I was reminded recently.

CB I Hate Perfumes’ 7 Billion Hearts — I don’t see this on the CB website any more. How do I not own a bottle of this? Well, Carolyn does, and it’s in our perfume closet now, so I get to play with it. It’s vanilla and smoke, the bottle’s at least a few years old, and if anything it’s gotten richer. It’s just so pretty, a smoky vanilla without a bunch of decorative flourishes.

Serge Lutens La Dompteuse Encagée– after reading Cinnamon’s review I got busy and scared up a decant. Notes are allegedly frangipani, ylang-ylang, almond, to the extent that any of that is discernible from either sniffing or reading about it. It is indeed very, very pretty, without being … insipid?  It’s not one of the oddities, it doesn’t open with a huge blast of cumin or camphor, and it’s not syrupy like others of my favorites from the line. My experience was quite similar to Cinnamon’s – other than a brief vegetal/camphor note at the beginning (don’t let that scare you) there’s not a ton of development on me. It is the best possible fruity floral, the fruits being maybe in the citrus vein (lemon? Yuzu?) and that … almost-waxiness you get from breathing in heady white flowers in real life. It’s a little more musky toward the end, and longevity is excellent. This, to me, smells like the ideal first taste of a ”classic” (and probably very expensive) fragrance in some lovely atelier, when the clouds part and you realize what all the fuss is about perfume. I … may need a bottle.

Surrender to Chance Surrender – I threw a sample of this in my cart with a recent order. From their website: “…created by La Via del Profumo/Dominique Dubrana of AbdesSalaam Attar, Surrender is a rich jasmine floral that blends different jasmine absolutes with licorice, carrot, myrrh, gourmand notes and hyraceum (the crystallized and petrified form of Hyrax urine.). A plush, slightly naughty perfume…”. Oh, man. So, the jasmine is lovely, and how much you enjoy this is likely going to depend on your tolerance for “naughty” – … isn’t there some French phrase (I believe it’s a compliment) about unwashed panties, or maybe dirty gussets? Yeah. But it’s underpinning that gorgeous hit of jasmine; the dirty bits veer more barnyard the more I wear it, and I get a smoky, leathery note in the drydown. Huh. If Bal a Versailles launched a flanker, it might smell like this. I think it’s pretty fabulous, although I’d give some thought to any plans for the next few hours, because I wouldn’t describe this as office-friendly.

What fragrances are pretty to you?

images via Pexels

  • Portia says:

    Heya March,
    I find the longer I’m a perfumista the more I wear the “pretty” stuff as opposed to the confrontational.
    My versions of pretty are Neela Vermeire’s Rahele and Pichola, CHANEL No 18 and Boy, Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Mimosa and nearly all of the Guerlain Aqua Allegorias.
    Portia xx

  • Musette says:

    For a supposed ‘ perfumista’ I’ll admit to being All About the Pretty -at least when it comes to actual wearing

    Right now I’m in Bel Respiro -and happily so. I tend towards BWF or lighter florals – which is in direct contrast to my actual face and behavior…

    And I absolutely adore 7 Bill!

  • cinnamon says:

    Finally, we have a really beautiful and warm day — and people are going do-lally.

    It would be so nice if we got CBIHP here.

    The Lutens is lovely. Glad you’re enjoying it. Now if someone could explain the name …

    And Surrender sounds well worth trying.

    • March says:

      I know, I googled and I still have no idea what it means…

    • March says:

      Oops, hit reply too soon — SO glad your weather has given you a break! I’m looking forward to the wind dying down but otherwise no complaints, April was a lot less awful than usual.

  • Dina C. says:

    I enjoy jasmine and many other florals in the pretty category. Green florals are my jam. Loved reading your descriptions, March. I’m so delighted your perfume enjoyment is back again.

    • March says:

      Thank you! I’m not sure I’m “reading” them all correctly, but I feel like I’m reasonably aware of when I am not, if that makes sense. That whole area of the house smells amazing.

  • alityke says:

    I need a dirty jasmine or a leather jasmine or a pretty jasmine.
    Nothing wrong with pretty. Pretty scenery, pretty garden, pretty girls, even better pretty boys. Easy on the eye. Same with perfumes. Dior Homme pretty iris, most of Guerlains AAs pretty simple, Anais Anais pretty flowers with underlying filth.
    Surrender sounds like I should love it but too much hyraceum is a spoiler for me in Salome.
    I need Jasmine.

    • March says:

      Pretty sure this is the hyraceum creating the skank, so it may not work for you? Might be worth a try though. Pretty iris! I feel like that could be its own category.

  • Tom says:

    I know nothing about “Surrender” but I’m going to find out..

  • MzCrz says:

    Sous-vêtements sale is the French phrase for dirty panties. Remember Vivienne Westwood’s Boudoir, which launched in 1998? That was considered a scent that smelled like a post coital bedroom/well worn panties.

    • March says:

      Oh I LOVED Boudoir! I feel like that scent was ahead of its time … although some of the vintage classics were no doubt as sexy, if not more so.

  • Maya says:

    I know many perfumistas don’t like the word “pretty” to describe a perfume but it always worked for me.

    The perfumes I own or want to own all fall into one of three categories. There are the nice fragrances which I like and are usually the easy spritz and go. There are the pretty ones which are my main perfumes that range from lovely to a wow. Then there are the beautiful ones which I seriously love!

    • March says:

      I love your categorization! I think I do that subconsciously … and depending on what mood I am in / what I need, that’s what I reach for.

  • Tara C says:

    The French phrase is « ça sent la foufoune mal lavée » or « a woman who neglects herself». LOL
    I haven’t tried Surrender but Papillon Salomé fits that description for me. I also quite like La Dompteuse Encagée, ordered it blind last fall. Fils de Joie is kind of a dirty jasmine as well on me.

    • March says:

      OK that doesn’t sound like quite the compliment as I’d remembered it hahahaha. Two people have mentioned Salome; I think I missed that one! I’m going to keep an eye out for a bottle of Dompteuse.