I had an interesting conversation recently with a fellow fragrance blogger regarding the various styles of perfume blogging. My fragrant friend X is a fan of the just-the-facts-ma´am approach: she wants (and gives) the notes, the nose, the retailers, info on development or sillage, and generally strays into the personal only when it relates to, say, commenting on the fragrance notes as part of a trend. When you read her reviews, you cannot necessarily tell how she feels about the fragrance she is reviewing – a perspective she considers irrelevant. If you read a few scent blogs, you can see there are others at this end of the spectrum as well.
I thought about our conversation for awhile. I have read her blog longer than anyone else´s, I´ve always enjoyed it, and her writing style is excellent. It´s just not a style I can emulate. Whether I like a fragrance – whether it moves me – how it connects to some moment in the past or present – is, to me, a large part of the fun of blogging about it. Even ragging on a fragrance can be fun on occasion (hey, see the post from last Friday.) For better or worse, I am fundamentally unable to separate a fragrance from my feelings about it. Ergo, the blather you read in my posts. I suppose folks who hate my style just give up and go elsewhere. For the rest of you, here are my feelings on:
L´Artisan Dzongkha – The reviews I recall have been universally positive. The L´Artisan blurb says: “wild smoky teas, ancient leathers, woods mixed with spices and veils of incense,” and that sums it up. If you had to hammer out a description of something I´d love, that´d cover all the bases. Furthermore, I am a happy fan of L´Artisan as a line. So Dzongkha was one of my most-anticipated fragrances of 2006, which is why my dislike for it is such a bitter disappointment. All the notes are a mishmash to my nose – from the hazy, indistinct opening smell of the bottom of a dusty, wooden spice cabinet, through the sour-tea-ish middle and into the drydown I can only describe as dropping a jar of pickles in a dusty warehouse. It´s not a bad smell by any stretch. It´s actually a nice smell. But it´s a smell – like dried mushrooms, linseed oil, or fresh latex paint – I find appealing without any desire whatsoever to wear it. Patty insists that the drydown is wonderful; I´ll keep trying. Thus far the only way I like it is with IUNX L´Ether on top, but come on – I´d probably like Baby Phat Goddess if you sprayed some L´Ether on it…
Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin – I am one of, let us say, six people who thought Chypre Rouge smelled wonderful. To most other people, apparently, it was misery – in fact, I believe my beloved blogmate described it as “buttcrack and tears.” Which is why all the love being shown MM baffles me. Not that it doesn´t smell great; it does. But to me, the Serge story on this one is: Chypre Rouge and SL Fleurs d´Oranger have a tryst. A child is brought forth. Which they lacquer. And voila – Mandarine Mandarin, more or less. I have now tested this theory on my arms – MM on one, and CR layered with FdeO on the other. My layered combo is missing the weird acetone note, which is fine by me (although I don´t get it every time), and it´s less sweet than the MM. Also, the opening of cumin dancing with immortelle in the layered version provides a surprisingly sexy armpit accord (wow, can I sell a concept or what? How come Serge never calls me with le job offer?) Having said all that: Mandarine Mandarin is just weird enough to be Serge, without being difficult to wear. The drydown – faintly spiced and somewhere between marmalade and orange trees – is a wonder. I´m guessing it´s going to be very popular. If you´ve still got some Chypre Rouge sitting around unloved and taking up space, try layering it with either Oranger or Mandarine itself, and you might be pleasantly surprised.
Penhaligon Malabah – notes are citrus, tea, ginger, Persian spices, jasmine, violet, rose, woods, musk, amber. I smelled this at Duft und Kultur in Vienna. The few Penhaligons I´ve smelled are like Eau de Granny, and somehow in the store I got the same vibe from this one. My sister-in-law bought two beautiful, small stoppered bottles at 15 Euros each (no, that´s not a typo). I came home with a sample vial, and I´ve now decided I´m an idiot for not buying my own. I wonder if I could bully one of those bottles out of her for Christmas… it´s perfume-y, yes. It´s got an old-fashioned, sweet aspect that keeps it from being a must-have, more floral than woody-musk. But it´s just … dreamy – the sort of thing you could throw on before a party and people would ask you what you were wearing. My guess is guys would love it on the nape of your neck.
image of Bhutan: farhorizon.com