I´ve been fighting allergies since February, trying various cures. Then a nasty head cold that morphed into one of those sinus infections that make my molars feel like they´re being squeezed by the roots, which I guess they are, followed by a 10-day course of antibiotics, and through much of that I was so congested I couldn´t smell a thing.
To a normal person, I guess that would be annoying, or inconvenient, but not that terrible. For me, the longer it went on, the more I found myself suspended between the stages of Denial and Rage on some sort of journey to acceptance. I tried smelling my strongest scents, and all I could get was the faintest impression à¢â‚¬” one angle of a fragrance, or a ghostly silhouette. Frequently what I got was nothing.
My level of upset really ramped up once my nose cleared… and I still couldn´t smell anything. I called my doctor. She counseled patience. Eventually I just put all the samples away in a box and gave up, because it was too depressing. I started to worry, what if I´m one of those people who never get their sense of smell back? I couldn´t even say it out loud, it was so horrifying.
So on Friday morning last week I got up, washed my face, staggered sleepily into my closet and… Oh. My. God. There it was!!! The miasma that rises up from my perfume shelf (and bowl, and candy box, and basket, the sample bag, and the bottles in boxes on the floor…)
I had my nose back!
Here are the first things I smelled:
Bvlgari Eau Parfumee Au The Blanc — Legerdenez had written this gorgeous post about how it reminded her of thunderstorms and wet paper, and I was eager to partake. So I sprayed it into a small glass bowl and huffed it like one of those goofs on a wine tour in Sonoma. Yes! Thunderstorm! There it is! (I´m sorry, but I never quite did get the wet paper.) It also smells like artemisia, which reminded me to head outside, but first I reached into the candy box and grabbed the first thing my fingers touched, which happened to be…
Vice Versa – I was stunned to discover another gaping hole in my knowledge, because this is from YSL, maybe a limited edition? I might have guessed, it reminds me faintly of Opium. I like it because it´s almost summer cologne-ish, but with enough spicy oomph to satisfy.
Then I went outside in the yard and sniffed:
1) Artemisia (Powys Castle) because it´s velvety green heaven and oddly cheering (absinthe, anyone?).
2) My newly blooming rosa rugosa Blanc Double de Coubert from Heirloom Roses.
3) Cameo Perfume from Heirloom, which they don’t seem to be offering this year, and that’s criminal because its perfume is astonishing. (That’s the pink one pictured below.) It’s also different (and prettier) than the picture — whiter in the middle, with dark pink streaks on the outermost petals. How strong is the perfume? Two cut blooms are scenting my entire first floor.
4) My climbers from Heirloom, also blooming for the first time, Summer Wine (pictured at bottom). Okay, I´m a tiny bit disappointed in the fragrance, but it´s early yet, and they sure are easy on the eyes.
5) My Miss Kim lilacs, which I came dangerously close to not smelling this year.
6) The bearded iris that are growing along a neighbor´s front walkway on the way to the market. When I am queen I will commission someone to make me a fragrance that captures this smell. If you are reading this and thinking, iris has a fragrance?, the answer is yes, and you need to get busy and smell some, because your life is impoverished in a way you don´t realize. They smell vaguely like a cross between a spicy carnation and a violet, but the smell is unique.
Then I got in my car and (what else) went to Sephora to smell 90-odd things in a nose-orgy, including:
Masaki Matsushima Mat; Orange – the girls and I like to sniff the Mat; Chocolate for a giggle because it´s so repulsive. The Orange was new. First ten minutes: a nice, unremarkable fruit. Therafter: orange for travelers from another galaxy who are trying to recreate the smell of the fruit using an ancient book of illustrations and a scratch-and-sniff ad for Glade Orange room spray.
Mat; Yellow – juniper berry, bamboo, watermelon, cat vomit. Okay, no cat vomit, but there might as well be. Laugh-out-loud awful. You could tie me to a chair and torture me by spraying me with this and the chocolate. I´d tell you anything to make you stop.
Laurence Dumont Cràƒ¨me Brulee – I sniffed this after the Mat; Yellow because it seemed a perfect way to complete the gross-out process. You know what? It smells exactly like cràƒ¨me brulee, my single favorite dessert. I am not sure I´d want to wear it, but it was weirdly lovely to smell.
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Tutti Kiwi (Mandarin, Rhubarb, Frosty Lemon, Kiwi Fruit, Geranium, Seringa, Sandalwood, Vanilla, Woody Notes) – Now Smell This wrote a wonderful, in-depth review. My review is: I adore Guerlain, and I am still looking for a single one of the AA’s I´d wear if you gave it to me. Don´t even get me started on the Pamplelune, which is French for pee.
YSL Paris Roses des Vergers (Cherry Blossom, Cyclamen, Blackcurrant Leaves, Pear Tree Blossom, Tender Rose, Wild Rose, Sandalwood, Rhodes Wood, Musks). Chandler Burr says this about the original Paris: – “Paris is a gigantically wonderful rose. In fact, what I like about it is that it is not anything else. It pretty much dispenses with top notes and bottom notes, just explodes onto the scene and envelopes you and starts radiating unabashed luxury.” It was always a bit much for me, however, so I was startled to discover how much I like Roses des Vergers, which has an element of greenness from the blossoms and cyclamen that render it much lighter and (sorry, Chandler) actually wearable.
PS If you haven´t read any of Chandler Burr´s fragrance reviews, here´s a link. He only updates them periodically, and I find them very enjoyable.