French Kiss and Tell

I wrote the folks at Parfums M. Micallef recently, inquiring politely as to the possibility of purchasing some samples of their product. Alternately, if no samples were available, could I make some arrangements to buy a full bottle, and in that case, what would be the price?

Here is the reply in its entirety: Sorry we don’t sell by internet and our fragrances are not available in United States

Now, isn´t that the perfect, breezy Gallic blow-off? I never got used to it in Paris, and I´m still not used to it, really. After all, I´m an American. We may not be able to adequately house and educate our poor, but we shop like gods. What does he (she?) mean, I can´t have any? I have my Mastercard right here, locked and loaded. I´m indignant. We have invaded countries over less. In fact, he´s lucky I´m not Mrs. Dick Cheney, or we´d be parachuting our boys into Cannes right now. Then we´ll see who gets to try Les Exclusifs, hmmmm, monsieur? Let us see you try and stop us from sniffing your oudhs…

But this will not happen. For one thing, I would rather gouge out my eyes with a spoon than marry Dick Cheney. I will have to come up with a more workable plan. (Do I really have to go to Dubai to sample it?) One thing´s for sure – I´m not giving up. Their website is worthless. Does anyone have any idea if Micallef is sold in, say, London or Paris? Or down the block from your house at Chez Parfums Le Snob? I´m particularly interested in Avant-Garde, Pomelos, Gaiac and the oudhs, although I´d smell any of them. Do let me know.

Coty Chypre
This was the first fragrance on my Must Smell Before I Die List. Having discovered that one of my favorite eBay Sellers, Dragonfly Scent Me, sells it in decants (how did I miss that one?) I bought a sample of the EDP. I have no idea what vintage it is, but it is vintage, having been out of production at this point for decades. I was anxious, honestly. What does the Mother of All Chypre smell like? The sillage of Dorothy Parker? The famously dangerous jus of girls gone wild? Coty Chypre is all bottom – like turning the bass way up on your stereo – and was fascinating to smell. It´s sweeter than I expected. It´s also less shocking – and this makes sense, of course. To my modern nose, tripping along the niche trail daily from birchtar to barnyard, what was I expecting? It also has essentially no development — just a three-part harmony of pickled grapefruit, dirty suede, and oakmoss – that perfect, humpy thrum of chypre that makes my knees weak. Nobody smells like this. I could go off on one of my ten-paragraph tangents about my longing for the time of fully clothed women broadcasting their ripe sexuality via perfumes, but instead I´ll stick a link here to my post about Houbigant Apercu and say in closing that if I were Empress, the house of Coty would be blowing the dust off its old recipe books and whipping some of this up for the masses.

Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige – proving unequivocally that, having spent years (lifetimes?) smelling baby powder, breast milk, Balmex and barf, I never want to smell any of those things again. Ever. Your powdery comfort scent is my own personal hell.

Matthew Williamson Incense
– another one of my long-fantasized-about discontinued fragrances. The first five minutes are really the only “incense” part – afterwards it settles into mostly creamy saffron and (I´m winging it here) some woods on a base of gentle musk. It bears a passing resemblance to Chaos, so of course I was pleased by the smell and I liked it very much. But I did not swoooooooon, and I can give up mourning its unavailability. On me the chief annoyance is the lasting power is poor, an hour or so, and that´s generally not a problem I have with scents. We´ll see. I´ll finish off my generous decant and maybe by the end of it I´ll need more, but probably not.

Guerlain Bois d´Armenie – the whole L’Art et la Matiere part of their line is starting to resemble some elaborate practical joke to me. Or maybe I should set up a new blog and call it Perfume Contrarian? What everyone else got: the delicate smell of sweet powder, woods, smoke, vanilla, and/or benzoin, inspired by the scented papers you can burn as an incense alternative. What I get: Vicks Cherry Cough Syrup, erasers and, okay, benzoin. Ugh. If you burned this in my house I´d hit you with something. I hear that brand-new Nuit d´Amour at Bergdorf in New York is insipid. If Voilette de Madame doesn´t smell amazing, or at least interesting (Madame´s unwashed undergarments?) I´m hanging up my stupid Guerlain spurs and never pimping for the house again. I mean it. I have had it with Guerlain. But let´s not judge. Instead, let´s move on to the happier note of…

Jean Paul Gaultier Classique
parfum – You know the bottle – vulgar, Madonna-esque corseted dress-dummy with the big boobs, decorated over the years in various ways. Ina reviewed this and sent me a sample of the parfum, which she characterized as “Eau de Posh” and “opulent.” It is, in contrast to its trashy container, extremely expensive-smelling, sexy rather than stuffy. I wouldn´t call it Classique. More like Vixen. Or Bombshell. Notes are orange flower, Bulgarian rose, Italian mandarin, star aniseed, orchid, iris, Ylang-Ylang, ginger, vanilla, amber. The most pleasant surprise to me (follow along here) is: parfums with this level of opaque richness tend to smell almost like sweet liqueur to me in a way I don´t care for. JPG parfum manages that level of va-va-voom but moves in the direction of sharp/tartness, what I´m guessing is orchid, a pretty neat trick. If you have some tolerance for over-the-top sillage (think Joy, Fracas or Poison), give this a sniff.

An aside on L by Lolita Lempicka – Patty sent me her Little Mermaid bottle (I love you, Patty!) In person, those bottles are adorable – heart-shaped rather than the weird lumpen look they have in photos, and all the bling is actually kinda charming. So I take back all the mean things I said about the bottle based on the photos.

The winner of the night with Anderso—uh, the Chaos sample, chosen by the filthy (but morally unsullied) hand of a toddler was… Natalie! (#28). Please email me with your address. For the rest of you … okay, these drawings are starting to make me feel guilty. Maybe I should start giving away crappier stuff? I certainly own some. Anyway, if you check on eBay, often there are original sample sprays (which is what I bought) for sale for $10ish under Buy it Now, and there are always decants. Or go look at that stunning icicle-shaped 15ml bottle of parfum on there for $499 and weep at the sheer beauty.

  • Silvia says:

    If anyone still cares, the whole Micallef range is sold at Fortnum & Mason’s, London. I smelled a few, no love at first smell. However there is a grapefruity one, called Pomelos, that I’d like to try again. They seem to make a bigger deal about the bottles than the juice itself.

  • tmp00 says:


    Anderson Cooper is way smoking hot. That picture really did me in.

  • March says:

    Haus — fine, fine, living in Berlin, flying to Paris for Xmas shopping … no, I’m not jealous. Gonna go stick my head in the oven right now… email me before you get to DC if you want to go sniffing, I’m actually kinda nice in person. No, really. I can provide references.;)

  • March says:

    Vi — I didn’t know it came in an EDP! Wonder which one I have:-? will have to investigate further. Somehow I also feel like I have to try it on a rainy day, things always seem to wear longer and stronger on me. It’ll probably be perfect, and MW IS impossible to find…

    That is so depressingly believeable about Lauder. And here we are, with Pleasures and Beautiful. 🙁

  • March says:

    BBliss — buy some of that Chypre — the best $10 you’ll ever spend! The Sisley I admire, truly, as a concept but it’s way too much for me. Definitely try the Chaos … maybe Diane/Dragonfly sells that too? Not sure.

  • March says:

    Cheez — shoot!!! Apres was all over Vienna (albeit in the EDT)… I should have brought you some. My next trip is shaping up for May, if you don’t have a bottle by then … I haven’t done it, but I think folks have stuff shipped from Guerlain Paris all the time.

  • March says:

    Robin — funny, I thought you’d like the MW better than I did.

    That’s true about the Chypre … what were you expecting? I was expecting something a lot more outre, but not sure precisely how or why. Nonetheless, I thought it was beautiful.

  • hausvonstone says:

    March – I live in Berlin but am going back to Paris for some Xmas shopping in Dec (then on to DC for a couple days – yikes!). I lived in DC for 10 years, but that was really BFR – before (my) fragrance revolution…i.e. intense interest (not yet obession, and god help me no calvin klein)

  • violetnoir says:

    March, if you have not figured it out already, babe, M. Micallef is still sold at luckyscent. Call Franco, the co-owner, and he will “hook it up” for you I’m sure.

    MW smells best on me in EdP, not EdT. Some prefer an EdT, but I always go for the full tilt experience, lol! You can probably find a decant of it on eBay.

    The story on Chaos is: Lauder bought the DK fragrance arm. At the time of his purchase, Chaos was the top selling fragrance in the country. He did not want it to compete with Pleasures or Beautiful, so he discontinued it. And yes, truth is stranger than fiction…and so is one’s vanity and short-sightedness!


  • BBliss says:

    The chypre is just the best smell invention – ever. Must get some of the Coty to measure it all up against. However that “new” one by Sisley (that was very paloma picasso, but not) just nearly killed me in the end. Too bad.

    You guys are right-on Teint de Neige is truly horrid – made me want to peel my own skin off. A little powder might work, but the sweetness – aack! The only LV I could tolerate was Incensi – and it was just OK. I do believe in skin chemistry and mine doesn’t work with that line – at all. Too bad, because I love the cobalt blue bottles.

    Thanks for the tip on Chaos – that one was flown to the top of the list!

  • Cheezwiz says:

    March – if you invade France, would you care to bring back some Apres l’Ondee among your spoils? Can’t friggin’ get it anywhere in North America!

    P.S. I am glad you like the Lolita “L” bottle. When I first saw it in the store I thought it was the most loveliest most adorable thing – a rounded aquamarine jewel. I therefore hung my head in shame when everyone on my favorite fragrance sites mocked it for being tacky.

    Too bad the juice smells like vanilla on me, or I’d seriously consider buying it for the bottle!:p

  • Robin says:

    So glad somebody else didn’t care about MW Incense. It was yet another huge let down for me. Meh.

    Coty Chypre I am still puzzling over. Wasn’t at all what I expected.

  • March says:

    Victoria — that sound you heard was the weight being lifted off my shoulders. Nobody seems to think they’re worth pursuing. Actually their website blather annoys me — about their “high concentration of naturals” or something, thereby cashing in on the naturals-are-better argument while not actually SAYING they’re natural — which I’ll bet they’re not.

  • March says:

    Tom — well, your point is a good one. I like the pursuit too. Part of what makes it special is the chase. And no, I don’t want Parfums R Us to stock it all, because I do like to track things down, or smell them for the first time on some wonderful trip.

    … hey, how do you feel about Anderson Cooper, anyway? Just askin’. No reason. Hot? Not?

  • March says:

    Priscilla — yes, yes! Isn’t it fabulous? And different? And NOT a stupid fruity-floral? And it lasts and lasts…

  • March says:

    P — well, you and I are just not powder-lovers. Honestly, I don’t think it smells that bad. But gad I hate that powder smell. With the exception of Garofano, mostly LV doesn’t work for me.

  • March says:

    Angela and Ina — thanks! I dunno, everyone’s dampening my enthusiasm. Plus every time I promise myself I will NOT BUY UNSNIFFED.

    Looking forward to trying Voilette. I bet I love it.

  • March says:

    Justine — okay. I’ll agree with your point on the bottle. I actually took the time to look one over today up close (what else would I be doing?) and they’re nicely made. The sillage is interesting — I had the sensation I was seriously wafting, but maybe it’s just very present right around me and not so intrusive to others. Usually I can tell if I’m killing bystanders.

    I reek. I smell so cheap right now, in a really expensive way. I’m kind of enjoying how wrong it all seems together.

  • March says:

    Tigs — well, lord knows I’m type A — although living in D.C., I look like a freaking Buddhist compared to soooo many of the a–hats I smack up against on a daily basis… but tmp00 has a point too. I do enjoy the pursuit. I admit it.

  • March says:

    annE — meh. I’m over the Micallefs already, look at all the comments saying why bother. Thanks for the compliment — I am always trying to find new ways to articulate my chypre love.

  • March says:

    Marina — I am feeling all militant and invasive. What is up with that? Although it sounds like NOBODY thinks invading for the Micallefs is worth it… maybe the non-export Serge? Caron urns? Guerlain stuff?\:d/

  • March says:

    Sariah — I’ll email you. Hmmmm, the old “skin type” routine. I have NO DOUBT (I’ve smelled it) that skin chem plays a big part in how a fragrance smells, but I’ve never quite signed on for the coloring part…

    reading your joy in your Guerlain romp fills me with empathetic pleasure.

  • March says:

    Haus — you made me shoot soup out my nose, laughing. Naughty. I’m such a rube — what does a black AmEx get you, anyway? Does it come with the bodyguard? Access to a Learjet?

    I wish you would gird your loins and plunge on in there (do you LIVE in Paris? can I trade lives with you?) and sniff away, and report back. Everybody commenting above seems underwhelmed…

  • Victoria says:

    A friend of mine sent me some Micalef samples which she got in Moscow. I am not impressed–ok, but nothing outstanding. They can keep it in Alaska, for all I care. 🙂 This is just my way of consoling you–I am sure many more interesting things will come your way soon.

  • tmp00 says:

    I’m all for you being empress if it will bring back some of the older perfumes; can one make (humble, natch) requests?

    I’m of two minds about the “not available here” deal. On the one hand I grind my teeth that I cannot easily get, say a bottle of Mandarine Mandarin if I feel like it when I have the (theoretically, as least according to Visa) money for it. On the other hand I feel in some ways that being able to get everything all the time in a way cheapens the experience; the bottle of MKK that my friend hand-carried back from France for my birthday makes it that much more precious and meaningful than a gift selected from my Amazon wishlist and overnighted.

  • Priscilla says:

    Oh, I ordered a decant of that Coty Chypre as well…must go get it out right now and sniff!

  • Patty says:

    So agree on that nasty Teint de Neige — horror in a bottle. I still don’t get how this thing exists. 🙂

    Invade France? Do we get to lock up all the perfumers and tell them what we want?

  • Ina says:

    March, First in Fragrance carries Micallef, as far as I know, and they’ll ship here for some 30 euro. I bet you’ll love Voilette de Madame. \:d/

  • AngelaS says:

    Luckyscent used to have Micallef, I think–or at least I’ve seen it on Luckyscent’s sale page. Good luck.

  • Justine says:

    I own a mini of the Jean Paul Gaultier Classique parfum and *love* it. On me, it is rich, sexy, a little sweet, but without obvious sillage. Nowhere near Fracas, but then Fracas sets a high bar for sillage. It smells expensive.

    I even love that over the top bottle. At least its interesting. I’m looking at my Lutens and Malles at the same time and thinking, what happened with the bottles guys? You just ran out of steam after creating the juice? Boring beyond belief.

    Good luck getting the Micallef, if anybody can get their hands on a bottle, its you. Go, March, go.

  • Tigs says:

    Love you, March! Great diatribe at the beginning – I, too, have been so frustratedly (and correctly, I believe) indiginant about some houses/lines. I mean, are they trying to sell this stuff or what? Isn’t this how they make a profit? Free markets, people, free markets. I read some theory once that said there was a high number of a certain Meyers-Briggs personality type in North America, because many immigrants carry this temperment and pass it on to their children. It must be the type that brandishes their credit card with a righteous and fearsome sense of entitlement. We’re the Masters of Universe, goddamnit, Masters of the Universe!!

  • annE says:

    Hmmm, invasion? Well, how about just a boycott? LOL! We were already boycotting and just didn’t know it. 🙂

    But on to happier topics:
    “a three-part harmony of pickled grapefruit, dirty suede, and oakmoss – that perfect, humpy thrum of chypre that makes my knees weak”

    This is the most wonderful chypre description that I’ve ever read. I’ll just hold that thought and skip off to chypre nirvana now. I may never look back.

  • Marina says:

    …even though I actually don’t like Micallef’s scents at all, not a single one of them. but I’d still help you invade. I feel militant today.

  • Marina says:

    This is one invasion I would approve of. Count me in.

  • Judith says:

    PS I am not a Micallef fan, but if you are–you can get them through FiF. Also, Lisalaw often has decants.

  • Judith says:

    You might give Bois d’Armenie more of a chance. I got a sample at first, dabbed it, and wasn’t impressed (although I didn’t hate it). But when I sprayed it at BGs, I liked it a lot! But then again, I never hated it. Sorry. But I think you will find La Voilette at least interesting. And, sorry again, but Nuit d’Amour was sweet and insipid on me.:)

  • sariah says:

    Hi March,

    I checked out the Bois de Armenie this weekend and either really like it or love it – need to try it along without 6 other things to decide. I found it interesting but also very wearable. The Nuit d’Amour is absolutely lovely, and certainly not insipid. It’s floral, and warm, and is something you can just see being worn by a really beautiful woman but it’s not a bombshell fragrance like fracas. I would own it now if it didn’t cost $390 or something for the EDP. I think Patty is going to like this one a lot.

    Guerlain at Bergdorf’s had a perfume expert of some sort from Paris there and she told me based on my skin type and coloring that I would like the Nuits d’Amour. Well I did, but so did the guy next to me who is probably a brunette but he’s kinda bald so I couldn’t tell (he wears carnal flower too), as well as the brunette next to me. So I’m not really convinced of the coloring or skin type theory.

    My favorite Guerlain discovery was Attrape Coeur. Wowsa. Need to get me a decant of that one. They have it in the 4oz bee bottles.

  • hausvonstone says:

    Looks like M. Micallef has a store in Paris – sorry, a “gallery.” Which personally I think I would be afraid to enter without a bodyguard and an Amex Black . If you want someone to give this a try from the EU, let me know. I will happily sniff and send on any samples…