The Golden Pearl


For those of you who´ve been following along, recently (in a fit of madness) I constructed for Marina of Perfume-Smellin´ Things three samples of her potential Holy Grail fragrance, with varying degrees of success. Marina has since invited me to propose my own Holy Grail, for her construction. While I do not have the poetry of Marina or Katie, I am going to take her up on her offer.

Today´s post is devoted to her assignment, followed by a dip into the Candy box and a giveaway.

What I am looking for is something I will call The Golden Pearl. Mitsouko is a pearl to me à¢â‚¬” it is luminous, it is haunting. But it is a baroque pearl à¢â‚¬” it is not something I wear easily, or often, as much as I love it. Guerlain´s Plus Que Jamais is a different pearl à¢â‚¬” ladylike on me, but not anywhere near enough of whatever it is I´m looking for. The two scents that probably come closest in terms of golden luminosity are Hermes´ 24, Faubourg and Jil Sander No. 4. But Faubourg, a supremely elegant scent, lacks the comfort and warmth I am looking for. Jil Sander I am completely in love with but, while it has the comfort and warmth, it is missing the depth and resonance of The Golden Pearl. My recent discovery, Houbigant Apercu, is perfect on its own, but it is too much itself, and not enough me, to be the Golden Pearl.

I have a little bottle of Frankincense essential oil. I am not a big layer-er of fragrances, but occasionally I try dabbing on a drop or two of that oil with one of my florientals, looking for that incense-y base. I am looking for a warm incense, that resinous quality, rather than, say, the cold austerity of Armani´s Bois d´Encens. But all I wind up with is X plus the frankincense, which is always too much. In winter I wear Diptyque´s profoundly strange and incense-y L´Eau Trois, which has the warmth I am looking for, but none of the floral aspect. I have also layered Ines de la Fressange´s signature fragrance with Passage d´Enfer with some success. But it is too sweet and summery and delicate to be The Golden Pearl.

So. I guess I am looking for a rotund floriental with a stronger, more interesting base? Incense. Some skank, possibly. Perhaps leather. Perhaps (I quake writing this) even some amber, which in large doses nauseates me the way big blasts of vanilla make me queasy, but I see amber in a small dose as perhaps complementing the resinous quality of incense.

I am not looking for a gourmand note. No coffee, chocolate, vanilla (please, no vanilla!) And I would like it to be wearable à¢â‚¬” on the Fragrance Challenge index, if Mitsouko is a 10, and Jil Sander No. 4 is a 5, then I´m looking for a 7. I want it to be alluring but not so strange. Dark, but not so fickle. Rich, but not cloying.

Okay, Marina. That´s the best I can do. Let me know if you have any questions.

Moving on to the Candy:

Yatagan by Caron: notes are Lavender, Wormwood, Petitgrain, Artemisia, Geranium, Pine Needles, Vetiver, Patchouli, Leather, Castoreum, Styrax ( Bloglifting directly from Colombina the Terrible´s excellent review: à¢â‚¬Å“Named after a Turkish saber with a curved blade, Yatagan smells of grass, moss, earth, leather and hot, hungry, cruel bodies.à¢â‚¬? Ha! I, March the Maleficent, decree: à¢â‚¬Å“Bring me my whip and cower before me, sultry peasant boys! Tonight we ride for the far hills, where the drinking of fermented beverages and carousing will commence!à¢â‚¬? Shortly after putting this on I ran upstairs and pounced on the Big Cheese. What you do after smelling it is your lookout, but don´t say I didn´t warn you. Colombina, how can I repay you for this one?

à¢â‚¬¦ where was I? Oh, yeah. Candy. How about à¢â‚¬¦ this one? Paestum Rose by Eau d´Italie. I am not a lover of rose soliflores, preferring that they share the stage with some other note, like Rosine´s sea-salt Ecume. Here, cribbing from Aedes: à¢â‚¬Å“The silky petals of rose are touched with the sweetness of myrrh and the resinous warmth of black pepper, while the transparent floral nuances of osmanthus and peony contrast with the sensual darkness of cedar and wenge woods…à¢â‚¬? I can´t see how I´m going to top that, so I´ll just add that on me it´s a dark rose, spicy rather than sweet (the pepper, probably), balanced beautifully by the warm, resinous smell of myrrh and wenge. The drydown is particularly lovely. If you love rose scents, you should try this. If you don´t love rose scents, you should try this. Here’s another review over on Aromascope, after which you may be making an unsniffed purchase.

YSL Nu à¢â‚¬” created by Tom Ford, 2001. Clearly I had better get my act together and smell every thing Basenotes lists under YSL, because I keep falling for their more obscure gems like Yvresse, Vice Versa and now this. Notes: bergamot, white orchid, black pepper, incense, woody notes, spicy notes, vetiver ( It´s gorgeous à¢â‚¬” the sharp, sweet ping of the orchid in the opening, followed by the perfect balance of woods, spice and incense, with the floral playing a very minor role after 10 minutes à¢â‚¬” a man could wear this easily. All you incense addicts à¢â‚¬” smell this.

Today´s sample giveaway: L´Artisan! They´re reproducing in a dark corner of the candy box. No, I don´t know which fragrances, but they´re L´Artisan, so there´s not a dud in the bunch. If you want some new, carded samples, leave a comment below saying so and I´ll do a drawing.

A note on the painting: Gustav Klimt’s sublime Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, the center of a long legal fight between the Austrian government and her heirs, from whom the painting had been stolen by the Nazis. The heirs won the court battle, and the painting was sold in June for $183 million, the highest recorded price ever paid for a painting. It was bought by cosmetics king Robert Lauder, and if we’re very, very lucky, it will hang in Lauder’s Neue Galerie in Manhattan. image:

  • March says:

    Yukina — I should be doing a review of Marina’s samples next week — stay tuned!

    Unfortunately I have already done the L’Artisan drawing (last Friday) — but we do a lot of giveaways, stay tuned. Maybe you can swap the En Passant on MUA for some MR?

  • Yukina says:

    Wow, Ms.Colombina has a big job ahead of her! I can’t wait to hear about what she creates for you…and the big reveals 🙂 Please enter me into your drawing for the L’Artisan samples…I haven’t tried a single perfume from their line, and I’m dying to smell their stuff! Thanks!

    In other news, I received my samples from Fredric Malle…but the one sample I really really wanted, the Musc Ravageur…broke in transit 🙁 The other two sent: En Passant (I know you adore this, but it’s not very me), and Lys Mediterranee (haven’t tried yet!)

  • March says:

    Steve — you need to enter an email address next to “mail”, which shows up in our dashboard, but nowhere else, in case we want/need to contact you. You can leave “Website” blank — that allows you to live-link your comment to, say, your own blog if you want to. “Mail” really should say “email”, I hadn’t ever noticed.

  • Steve says:

    Please let me into your “goveaway” – I dream L’artisan everynight!

    BTW, when it asks for “Mail (will not be published) (required) – do you mean email or snail mail? What about “Website”?

  • March says:

    Benvenuta — PS — I think the worst of the Diptyques is that weird Vinegar one, from the perspective that you could just save $68 and buy a bottle of white vinegar to dab on …

    BBliss — all I can say is that maybe it’s supposed to be all splashy and vacation-y looking; I believe the original was a signature hotel frag, so it must be part of their “look”? Also, I reread my msg to you, wanted to make sure I was clear– it’s the Paestum that is less “rose-y” to me, more nuanced with woods and incense.

    Pam — adding it to my need-to-try list!

  • March says:

    Benvenuta — I tried L’Eau Trois and bought it on the spot, and I don’t do that too often. Then I went home and read the MUA reviews and 😮

    Clearly, I am interpreting the smell differently than most of the other reviewers on MUA. To me it is a very resinous incense, with a little bitter herbs, but not much. I think it is gorgeous, a heavy comfort scent (only for cold weather) and nothing else smells like it. FWIW Bois de Jasmin and Robin like it, so I feel affirmed in my affections…

  • Pam says:

    March, Cimabue comes in EdP and parfum oil. I tried a samp once and liked it very much; the Klimt made me think of it. DSH sells samps, if you’re interested.

  • VeronicaV says:

    Please add me to the drawing. Thanks!

  • BBliss says:

    That’s a big help- thank you! Sounds fantastic, but agree the packaging is horrendous. Things can be simple but still *classy* – I’m going to become head of the Tacky Police one day. :d

  • benvenuta says:

    At MUA, I always heard L’Eau Trois was the worst of Diptyques, and didn`t give it much attenrion when I got a sample. Now you mention it and i think Robin praised it too… Must retest it.

    Can you please include me into drawing?

  • March says:

    Karen — that’s what I was grasping for! Fermented MARE’S milk. I couldn’t think of what the heck we were supposed to ferment — camel’s milk sounded just nasty… what a great idea with your mom! I am forever trying to get my kids to see art as something enjoyable, as opposed to some horrible field trip, but so far, not much success. I still meet my 84-year-old father every couple of weeks downtown to go see an exhibit, and it is such an enormous pleasure to me.

  • March says:

    Vi Noir — I can’t believe I just stumbled across it. Now they’ll probably discontinue it… any other obscure YSL recommendations? The only one I was meh on was the “Y,” which wasn’t bad, just very, very light.

    Elle — Yeah, it’s kind of ugly, but not as ugly as the YSL Nu! Sariah and I agreed that it would probably have sold like hotcakes bottled in something more attractive — it’s a disk, it looks like a compact. Or a UFO. The Paestum Rose — as Marina says, Buh WA HA HA HA HA.

  • March says:

    Sariah — I bet she comes up with something great.\:d/

    Teri — L’Artisan is one of my favorite niche lines. They are interesting without being, in most cases, extremely challenging.

    Pam — I have NOT tried Cimabue. I’m really ignorant about the DSH line. Is it an oil?

  • March says:

    Patch — I think my JS4 will be perfect in the fall. Our TJ Maxx doesn’t even carry frags any more, just nasty cheap soaps and lotions.:((

    Carol — I will be doing a full report when Marina sends my samples!

    BBliss — I am probably not the right person to answer that question, because to me the Poivree is so unpleasant. The rose is certainly less pronounced; I would say it is almost equal strength as the woods and incense, so it is much less a “rose” fragrance.

    Sybil — I love Klimt in general, and that one in particular. I am hoping I will get to see it in person.

  • March says:

    Ina — Well, floriental, incense and skank — I think I picked the right gal for the job.;)

    Emote — I like your choice of HG paintings. We have several Vermeers here at the NGA, and the thing that always astonishes is how SMALL they are. You think with that level of detail, and power, that they are much bigger until you see them.

    Tigs — I think Yvresse used to be called Champagne, until YSL got into some kerfuffle with the champagne makers. I think the formula’s the same, though.

  • March says:

    Sorry, folks — away all day playing (although not with fragrance, for a change).

    Alica and everyone who wanted to be included in the drawing — you’re in! I’ll announce on Friday.

    Marina — c’mon, you can do it! I know you’ve got the right tools for the job…

    Chaya — any suggestions for Marina

  • Karen says:

    Giggle!! Such a rich fantasy life!! I almost snorted fermented mare’s milk out my nose when I read March the Maleficent’s grand order to her “sultry peasant boys”. Whoops. I’m assuming it’s only a rich fantasy life.
    Please include my name in the drawing.
    Also love the beautiful Klimt painting. I remember reading about it in the paper. A few times a month, my mom and I get together and look at art books – our “self-taught” study of the great works of art.

  • Elle says:

    Your Golden Pearl sounds absolutely fantastic and you couldn’t have picked a more perfect painting. Can’t wait to see what M. comes up w/. I’m sure they’ll be stunning.
    Ugh. Yet more praise for Paestum Rose. My budget keeps hoping someone will slam it, but I’m afraid that this is going to be a must have – horrible packaging and all.

  • violetnoir says:

    Isn’t Nu wonderful? I thought I was one of the few people in the perfume community who loved this, so I am glad to see that you do, too, March. I have the EdP and the body cream. It smells really good in cool weather, and I have been wearing it consistently for about four years.


  • Pam says:

    What a lovely post, March. The Klimt really is sublime. Looking forward to reading about the Golden Pearl Marina is creating for you. Have you ever tried DSH’s Cimabue?

    Yatagan, eh? This one sounds very intriguing. It’s on my list. BTW, thank you for erasing all those multiple posts. Whew. My computer is still slow and ornery, but I’ve learned to hit submit only once, NO MATTER WHAT. 🙂

  • Teri says:

    Might I be considered for your giveaway as well? I’ve not tried any of the L’Artisans yet, so am virgin territory and highly curious.

  • Sariah says:

    your golden pearl sounds like something I would definitely like to try, can’t wait to hear what Marina comes up with

  • sybil says:

    Please enter me in the L’artisan samples giveaway. A great image to go along w/ today’s entry!

  • BBliss says:

    Your golden pearl sounds exquisite – and your candy samples sound like winners – all! I’ll be on the hunt. BTW – is the P. Rose at all similar to Rose Poivree…pepper, incensey, minus the animalic tinge that has everyone running for cover? It sounds lovely to me.

    I am shockingly lacking in L’artisan experience, please include me in your draw! I did like Timbuktu and should go back to it when it is cooler, but that is the only one I remember. Have a great day!

  • carol says:

    March, your Golden Pearl sounds like it’s going to be a force to reckoned with. Do let us know how this develops, hm?

    I’d so appreciate some LA samples.

  • patchamour says:

    Perfect art for the Golden Pearl, which sounds as if it’s going to be wonderful. I’m growing to love my Jil Sander No. 4, bought unsniffed after reading your review of it awhile back (for a song at the local TJMaxx). It does need that incense note, though. Please do enter me in the drawing. Thanks.

  • Tigs says:

    I keep hearing Yvresse mentioned lately – guess I’ll have to try it. Interested to see what Marina comes up with… (oh, and please enter me in the draw! Pretty please!)

  • Emotenote says:

    Ahh, one of the most sublime paintings ever. I have always found it to be an amazing mixture, I can see why you used it in this post describing your holy grail. I can see it on my mantle now…. I think my HG would have to be Mattise or Gauguin, although at my best I would have to say Rembrant, the perfect mixture of dark and light with a touch of Vermeer for complexity. I would love to be signed up for the drawing, oddly, even though LA is one of my favorites, I’ve only tried (and loved) a few.

  • Tommasina says:

    Good morning, March

    I love your ‘pearly’ ideas – can’t wait for the results.

    I just received a sample pack from Patty with a couple of Artisans in there; dare I be greedy enough to ask you to put me in the drawing for your madly-reproducing hordes, too? Thanks so much!


  • carole says:

    May I possibly be considered for the draw, as well?

  • Ina says:

    “Golden luminosity” – I love that! I can totally visualize what you’re talking about. Well, maybe not visualize but you know what I mean. Can’t wait to see what Marina comes up with. 🙂

  • chayaruchama says:

    Dear March-

    LOVE Adele Bloch![and Klimt in general…]

    I smell your dilemma.
    I’ll marinate awhile and see if I can come up with something…

    Keep cool-

  • Marina says:

    *Suddenly scared* What did I get myself into? 😮

    Rotund floriental, huh? OK…Wonderful, detailed description by the way…I’ll Make It Work. There might be more then 3 samples though…

  • ˇAlica says:

    Wishing to be included, thanks 😡