December Candy

I love Monday. You know why? Because Hecate and Buckethead, the 4-year-old twins, are back at preschool. It’s been really warm here. Yesterday they got tired of waiting for snow, so they made their own — two boxes of Kleenex tissue, shredded into tiny bits and tossed around their room. It was pretty mild in terms of what they can do, but still a bit of a drag. It’s my fault, of course. I spent the day walking around the house in a fugue state, sniffing my wrists. If I were a better mother they’d be locked in the dog kennel in the family room where I can keep an eye on them.

Anyway, today´s post is dedicated to Maria B., a commenter who thanked a fellow commenter for “writing out the names of the scents and makers, (because) some of us need the extra help.” dsquared.jpgMaria B. (and all you newbies and lurkers who have still not commented): do you think I abbreviate “C&S” to taunt you? I do not. I write “C&S” because it saves me from googling Czech & Speake (?) for the 53rd time in an effort to save myself from looking like a doofus for spelling it wrong. I mean, it´s not like my street cred is golden to start with, bandying about technical terms like “buttcrack” and putting up pictures of Santa´s village and shirtless young studs (hey, here’s a nice one!) If all I wrote about was Avon maybe I´d be okay, but I barely speak English, and now that new releases are named Ilang Batoango and Les Fleurs Danse Pour Elle … you see what I´m saying here. (Also, have you, uh, noticed how many fragrance bloggers also speak French and/or Russian? They leave comments for each other like, Тот март, она как сдуру курица которая избегала от фермы. Возможно я полью некоторую из моей самой дешевой водочки в vial и пошлю его к ей! What´s up with that, anyway?)

But I digress. My point is, I´ll try to do better about the abbreviations. If you´re unclear on something, leave a comment saying “what are you talking about?!” Don´t be shy. Okay, let´s get on with the candy:

Lanvin Rumeur, vintage version – remember how much I liked the new Rumeur, because it´s sweet (but not too), and don’t you love that cute little bottle?! And how the vintage gals all moaned about what a travesty the new version is? Well, guess what? They were right. We have been euchred, and the folks at Lanvin should be dragged to a public place and sprayed with Baby Phat Goddess until they weep for mercy (how many sprays is that – two? Three?) I have no clue what´s in the original, but it dries down into the sort of wine-tinged leather you´d douse yourself in after you rouged your nipples and laced up your corset. What a fool I was.

JAR Shadow – I knew it was kicking around here somewhere! I ran across it looking for the Isabey Gardenia. Oh, that´s uber-jeweler Joel Arthur Rosenthal, his fragrances are spendy and unconventional and veryverysecret and you have to go to Bergdorf and sit in a little room to smell them. Which is not intimidating, it´s totally fun, so if you´re ever in NYC, don´t be a goober – go already. You´ll thank me. There are seven of them, I think. Shadow is a little creepy – they don´t release any notes, and I have no clue what´s in here, either. If Close Your Eyes is the hogpen on the farm, then Shadow is the root cellar – dirt, smoke, pickle jars and the odd bottle of wine. I can´t say I like it, but it´s so compelling I can´t stop myself from sniffing it.

Lalique Le Parfum – I now have, I think, three vials of this from various sources, which I keep ignoring. Notes are: Bergamot, Bay Leaves, Red Pepper, Jasmine, Heliotrope, Almond, Patchouli, Vanilla. My problem is, all I can think to say is, it´s so pretty!, and how uninspiring is that? The conclusion I´ve reached is that maybe “so pretty” isn´t my cup of tea, and that´s okay. It´s a little late now, but if you´re casting around for a gift fragrance that isn´t taking any risks but is unabashedly pretty, and you don´t know what to get, consider this one. If you poke around online you can find the EDP for less than $100.

Miller et Bertaux Spiritus/Land also came up a few times in the comments on my Santa post. This should be on everyone´s to-try list if you like interesting, dirty scents – as in dirt, not skank. From the intense, improbable burst of ginger at the opening through the tobacco and right into the ginger-woody drydown, this is one of those fragrances I appreciate the more I smell other things. Easily unisex, interesting but not difficult, clever but not annoying … what is not to love? (Okay … it could have more lasting power.) Re-smelling it I totally understand why many of you mentioned it as a scent for this season – that unsweetened ginger kick combined with the slightly green woods is December in a bottle.

Hermessences Paprika Brasil – Notes are: pimento, clove, paprika, iris, green leaves, woody notes. Did Jean Claude Ellena fall down and bump his head? What … is this? Do irises grow in Brazil? What I am smelling is peppered iris – L´Artisan Piment Brulant (sans cocoa) meets Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir. Am I complaining? Nope; I actually really like this, although I wouldn’t pay $180 or whatever the going rate is. I know the general feeling on this one was disappointment, with words like “wan” in the reviews. I´m not a huge fan of the Hermessences in general, so maybe I´m a contrarian indicator. If you like orris and want to try one with decent heat as a foil for the usual cold earthiness, this one´s for you.

Notes for nuts: When describing Fendi Theorema I said I found a hint of Chaos in the drydown. I tried layering them, and if you have both of them sitting around, maybe you should too. Then ask yourself the question: is it immoral to smell that good? (Answer: no.)

Caron Parfum Sacre. Illustrating March´s perfume equation of two wrongs (Caron + rose) making a right. Notes are : Lemon, Pepper, Mace, Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood. Vanilla, Myrrh, Civet, Cedarwood. Patty tolerates my lack of appreciation for Caron, and she does her duty by sending Caron samples to me fairly regularly, hoping the light will go on. There´s a glimmer with this one. Yes, it does have the Grim Reaper Caron base, and the rose does not love me. But somehow … it works, doesn´t it? It reminds me a bit of Serge Lutens´ Rose de Nuit. A slightly soiled high-button silk glove of a scent.

dsquared image:

  • Antibush says:

    Watch subject. Bush and the Republicans were not protecting us on 9-11, and we aren’t a lot safer now. We may be more afraid due to george bush, but are we safer? Being fearful does not necessarily make one safer. Fear can cause people to hide and cower. What do you think? How does that work in a democracy again? How does being more threatening make us more likeable?Isn’t
    the country with the most weapons the biggest threat to the rest of the world? When one country is the biggest threat to the rest of the world, isn’t that likely to be the most hated country?
    What happened to us, people? When did we become such lemmings?
    We have lost friends and influenced no one. No wonder most of the world thinks we suck. Thanks to what george bush has done to our country during the past three years, we do!

  • Terri S-B says:

    Hi March 🙂

    Yes, I wonder about that Caron base…how they developed it, what’s in the “secret recipe”, hoping it will be around for a long time.

    After testing so many celebrity fragrances before moving onto Caron – I finally learned the different betweeen commerce and art :)>-

  • BBliss says:

    Yes, I agree they just seem to fall flat…but I won’t send them away, yet…OY and Rose are lovely – but that’s it. I’m forgetting one…but, Vetiver Tonka is absolutley wretched – I won’t even pass it on to my husband like I do my other cast-offs (they often work better on him). I like some vetiver, too and tonka in other things. Together they killed me. These were a big disappointment – I like to explore a line all at once, to make comparisons – and just none have lived up to what was in my head…I will try the PB, but won’t expect much at all!

  • March says:

    BBliss — I read this article about the Hermessences somewhere interesting (Gourmet?) awhile back, could not WAIT to try them. They just … do nothing for me. For awhile I thought it was a defect, but I’m over it. I like OY, PB, and Rose Ikebana. But I’m not falling-down-in-love for any of them, and I think Vetiver Tonka is manifestly evil. But Hermes has many lovely things…

  • March says:

    Anya — I think I was at that party:-?

    I’ve never seen anything in which Rosenthal discusses what he was thinking. I’d love to know.

  • March says:

    Terri — I tease Patty but she loves me anyway. It is crystal clear to me how amazing the Carons are. There’s just something in the base that doesn’t agree with me. (The men’s, which don’t have the base, I’m mostly wild for). But it doesn’t stop me from trying; there are a number of things I’ve changed my feelings about.

  • Skye H. says:


    Natasha is who joined Boris to chase after moose and squirell.

  • March says:

    Elle — wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!! Confirmation!!!

    Was that not the most AMAZING smell?!?!?

    They were made for each other.

    I broke down and bought a bottle of Chaos. When I can’t get any more I might as well curl up and die, that’s all there is to it. I wish I’d fallen in love when I could have bought 3 or 4 extras.

  • March says:

    minette — maybe ginger’s the new chocolate? In fragrance, I mean. It does seem go to nicely with all sorts of things. I like it in Yosh Ginger Ciao a lot.

  • March says:

    Veronica — well, THAT makes sense! I read it with that accent in my head, too (what was that woman’s name?!? Driving me nuts…)

  • March says:

    Sariah — no more photos of Fed-X or Jerusalem crickets, I promise.[-x

  • March says:

    Gaia — but Lanvin has some amazing vintages… even the new Arpege I think is a decent reorchestration. My Sin is just a wonder.

    Hey, I LIKE Chloe. Shoot me. Go ahead.

  • March says:

    Flora — when Rumeur first came out, someone (sorry, can’t remember who) made the excellent point that it’s very difficult to get a non-copyrighted name that’s interesting, which leads to the temptation to recycle names from their discontinued fragrances.

    But they could have made it a LOT closer to the original.

  • March says:

    Carmen — Aha! ANOTHER non-Hermessences fan coming out of the woodwork! Welcome! I dunno… the French (at least in Paris) have much better English than my French…

  • BBliss says:

    Yep, I tried the Hermessences again last night, after this discussion – and I still don’t get them – thought this was always strange as I really like Hermes other stuff and I thought these were sort of the pennacle of their perfumes…but another commenter felt the same way, so there may be more of us than we think!

    Karma is a b*tch, huh?! Just about every time, I’ve ever said “I would never…(say/do something, allow my kids to, etc.)” something happens and I break my own rule because that’s what you do for sanity, or because it works. I’m thinking this goes on for 18 yrs+ of raising them. It’s probably not karma, just God – like water on a rock – smoothing us out 🙂

  • Anya says:

    JAR’s smoke sounds like a party I went to in the hippie days hitchhiking cross country. Grennell, Iowa, memoralized by a jeweler at Bergdorf’s — who’da thought?

  • Terri S-B says:

    I love this:

    “Patty tolerates my lack of appreciation for Caron……… Yes, it does have the Grim Reaper Caron base, and the rose does not love me. But somehow … it works, doesn’t it?”

    The Grim Reaper Caron base 😉

    I was reading a review last week of Lady Caron in which the reviewer noted Lady Caron’s most striking feature as the lack of the deep, languid Caron base. It is that deep, languid base that drives me to extremes. It is pure artistry.

  • Elle says:

    I finally found the Chaos and Theorema yesterday morning. I sat in my meetings w/ my elbow on the table and hand pressed against my cheek in what I hoped look like a thoughtful, attentive gesture – in reality it was just a way to keep my nose close to my wrist. Chaos brings out the absolute best in Theorema – obscenely wonderful. WHY, WHY did they d/c Chaos???? :((

  • minette says:

    Another fun post. I love Spiritus/Land – whoever said it was refreshing is right – it has a ginger ale quality up top – kinda sparkly. It’s an intriguing little scent.

  • Вероника says:

    We pick up misfortune BELOCHKA moose?


    I picked up my Russian from Rocky and Bullwinkle. Watch me pull a belochka out of my hat! Presto!

    And now here’s something you’ll all enjoy.

  • sariah says:

    March, you are killing me. Street cred? When it comes to perfume musings? That is such a funny concept. You are 1/2 of The Posse, be proud. You can say whatever you want because you say it in such a way that I love to read, even if I don’t get the “buttcrack” accord nearly as often as you do.:d And bring on the shirtless young studs, just no more pictures of Fed-X, OK?

  • My mother speaks Russian (it’s her first language, actually), but she still wears Chloe most of the time, so I can’t say she’s a fragrance authority.

    I’m very anti Lanvin lately. Or maybe Lanvin is anti-Gaia.

  • Flora says:

    > :d

    Great post, I was laughing out loud! Especially the vision of the Lanvin marketing department (it MUST be them, right?) being sprayed with Baby Phat – no mercy!

  • carmencanada says:

    Okay, March, I’m not getting the Hermessence either, despite having a friend who works for Hermès and who tried to sell me on them with much eloquence and enthusiasm. She sprayed me with Paprika Brasil when I went to her house and it was just plain orris on me, and carroty orris at that. No paprika, no Brasil. But then I’m not a huge orris fan.
    Oh, and about the language issue: the French aren’t that good at it either. Which is how I make a living (teaching them English). Now the people from the former Eastern block: many of them have had to learn two languages from childhood (Russian + their mother tongue), so picking up a third one is easier. Which still doesn’t explain how they get so bloody good at writing in English (but then, there was Nabokov…)

  • March says:

    BBliss — wow, it is SO GREAT to hear from someone else who didn’t “get” the Hermessences. I mean, it’s a difficult place to stand in. Very lonely.

    Let me know how the Armani works out.

    I WAS the mother who judged other mothers with my first two, who were exceedingly well-behaved. So I feel like some of this is karma. Also I’m older and, if not wiser, then less concerned about what other people are thinking.

  • March says:

    Maria — thanks for your thoughtful comments — and thanks for reminding me to write stuff out more often. I just forget, or I get lazy. And I’m serious about the spelling thing.:”> One of the advantages of having the archives such a mess is nobody can see how many times I mess up.

    Yeah, I don’t really fathom the Russian thing, it’s a weird coincidence. Mostly what it reminds me of is how woefully deficient many Americans are in other languages.

  • March says:

    Vi Noir — hey, what are you reeking of today?

    I am smelling sort of filthy. I am not sure I can go in public smelling like this. I’d forgotten how really, truly naughty Mona di Orio Nuit Noir is. (yeah, I bet I spelled that wrong)

  • March says:

    Veronica — hey, this is what Babelfish gave me back:

    “We pick up misfortune BELOCHKA moose.”

    Did I, uh, lose something in translation?:-?

  • BBliss says:

    Loving the candy and the twin anecdote – just makes me feel like “there are other imperfect mothers out there, and they aren’t afraid to publicize it” – it’s refreshing and reassuring. I think sometimes when I tell a funny story about our chaos, people just raise an eyebrow, give a fake smile and secretly think you are unfit, etc. Actually, it’s not a secret, I defnitely get “unfit vibes” from those sans children or with only one.

    Will give the Paprika Brasil or whatever a go, as I had written it off – I’m not in love with any Hermessences, either and just thought I was deficient. And on an old topic I will try the Armani incense, can’t figure out why I haven’t gotten around to that one. I do like Zagorsk but, that’s not it – I think Avignon is closest, and the name makes sense, too in terms of Roman Catholic-ness. Enjoy those precious preschool hours!

  • March says:

    P — darn computer is so SLOW today.>:p Everybody must be home, ordering last-minute stuff online.

    Sorry about Rumeur!!! Come on, go ahead and write about it tomorrow. People are always asking us to compare our opinions on things, anyway — it’s fun to get those different perspectives.

  • March says:

    Eumy — hey, thanks for stopping by! Believe it or not, I really love the comments. Makes it all worthwhile…@};-

  • March says:

    Judith — yeah, it stuck that 4 into Marina’s comment as well. And Veronica’s! Makes Noooooo sense at all. Something about a moose.

  • March says:

    Tom — I dunno. I can think of worse things … those hyper-sweet dessert frags spring to mind.

    Consider this: a lot of the skanky things you and I like? Others would consider punishment.:o Fools.

  • Maria B. says:


    I am honored to have today’s blog dedicated to me. :)>- Just think of me as a student who went on a three-hour cruise (last phrase set to music) and ended up spending a lot more time away than she had planned. Now I have to borrow the other students’ notes.

    I LOVE this blog. “Feet” and “buttcrack” are the most accurate descriptions of some scents that come in bottles. In fact, these terms seem kind. The notes I can’t stand are “nursing home disinfectant” and “road resurfacing.”

    I always have to look up the spelling of what C&S stand for. The spelling seems capricious. What gets me lost again on Gilligan’s Island is the stacking together of a bunch of initials, like SL ALN. Someday, I’ll be trading acronyms with the best of ’em. (Hope springs eternal.)

    Being a newbie, I’ve wondered about the cultural phenomenon of so many Russian speakers’ intense involvement with fragrance. There must be an explanation.

    The surprising thing about Miller et Bertaux Spritus/Land is how refreshing it is–at least on me. It’s not a quality one expects from an incense fragrance.

    March and Patty, you are the funniest gals. I like starting the day with a cup of tea and you. My day just gets going a little later than other people’s because I’m on Pacific time–oh, and I’m not an early riser. Mais c’est la vie, mes amies. Hasta luego.

  • violetnoir says:

    March, you put a smile on my face. 🙂

    Thanks for being so wonderful!


  • Вероника says:

    Мы принимаем на себя беду БЕЛОЧКА и лоси.

  • Patty says:

    Damn you! I was going to have at that vintage Rumeur tomorrow. Oddly enough, I sniffed the new one and can’t even remember what it smelled like, but I doubt I’ll forget the vintage one any time soon (Hugs to Chaya!)

    Oh, well, I have several other vintage things I’m going to yammer on about in bad, choppy English tomorrow, wheee! :-“

  • eaumy says:

    I love this blog. Each day’s entry is like a gift. To share both humor and information is quite rare. I am in awe of both of your quick wit and descriptive abilities. Thank you.

  • Judith says:

    Yes, I did translate it back on Babelfish; it came out more or less consistent with the translation of your original comment, so I figured it was (more or less) OK.:d IE IM translator is slightly less loopy, but it doesn’t always work. What I would like to know from one of the real Russian speakers is why Babelfish always translates Russian Я (“I,” no?) as “4,” making complete hash out of whatever 4 have said!!!! Are they the same in Russian?

  • tmp00 says:

    Monday morning and you’re discussing dousing someone in Baby Phat? Whew! Harsh! If there’s a perfume Abu Ghraib, that’s one of the tortures…

  • March says:

    Chaya — it was just a taste of Rumeur, which is honestly all I need — although I’ll be keeping your generous offer in mind if there’s some other weird vintage thing I’m desperate to try. I’m too fickle to want more than a taste of most things.

    PS We can SHARE Dusan. That’s my best offer.

  • March says:

    Marina — hee hee — here’s what Babelfish gave me back:

    “March and To patti, 4 so I love your blog. Happy advancing Christmas!”

    Happy advancing Christmas to you too, honey.

  • March says:

    Leo — wait … it’s not all just like I’ve seen on Brideshead? :d

  • March says:

    Dusan — sorry, hon, I need another warm body around here like I need a third eye. You’d be packing your bags in a week, trust me. Actually, the Cheese would be THRILLED if you’d cook dinner, he keeps complaining he needs a wife. (I could handle the other services.)

  • March says:

    Judith — thanks for my first belly-laugh of the day. Babelfish is hilarious — did you try translating it back? The results generally give you the gist of the statement, but they’re not quite English. I am assuming they’re not quite Russian (or French) the first go-round, either.

    And yeah — keep me on your mailing list!;)

  • March says:

    Elle — oooh, did you try the Chaos and Theorema? See, the Hermessence PB was easy for me because I had such low expectations… the name seems totally wrong, I admit.

    Yeah, I wish I’d taken French too./:)

  • chayaruchama says:

    Monday, Monday…
    Can’t trust that day.

    Stop having it on w/ my love toy, Ms. Thing !
    Down, Leo, down, boy….

    Guess I have to stop camping it up in French.
    Old tarts, like myself, really get off on that sort of crap.

    Did Patty share her Rumeur w/ you, or did you scarf it up elsewhere?
    You know I’d share w/ you, gladly.

    Have a wondrous day, my pretties…

  • Marina says:

    Марч и Патти, я так люблю ваш блог. Счастливого наступающего рождества!

  • Leopoldo says:

    Bring on the inanity… and i’m sure the price of coffee is rising on a weekly basis round these ‘ere parts.

    My neighbours’ kids are called Olivia, Charlie and Luke. Three doors down they’re named Liam, Niamh, Ciara and Niall (trés high class Irish catholic). But it’s not all Flora Dora Nora and Snora, no. You need to move on from Brideshead, my love.

  • Dusan says:

    I love Mondays with you! Um, what does your state law say about adopting 29-year-old Serbs? I promise to clean my kennel, am good around the kitchen and will gladly alphabetize or otherwise sort out your samples and bottles! The Big Cheese won’t mind, will he? So, um, when can I move in? Pleeease 🙂

  • Judith says:

    March–I know; I wrote you a different comment. Translate it.

  • Elle says:

    LOL about the innovative snow!
    *Need* to give Paprika Brasil another try w/out any preconceived expectations based on those spicy notes. And will risk being late for meetings this morning digging around for Theorema and Chaos. Sounds inspired to the extreme.
    The Russian comment totally cracked me up. :d It’s French that leaves me highly anxious – especially when I have to speak it (a source of great amusement for all who get to hear me). As a perfume sl*t since early childhood I have *no* idea what I was thinking not making becoming fluent in French a top priority in college. Wasted years. Absolutely wasted.:(

  • March says:

    Judith — I insulted myself and then translated it via Babelfish. I find Babelfish oddly comforting, although who knows whether the results are even remotely close?

  • March says:

    Leopoldo — oddly, I was thinking of you when I posted that photo. I’m having trouble re-sizing them in this new format, or I’d have made him bigger for you. Okay, maybe not entirely a “family” blog in the sense George Bush would mean.

    We HAVE to get together for that $15USD coffee, because I have all sorts of inane questions about English — language, class system … at any rate, have no fear — Hecate has a normal American girl name (Buckethead’s real name is fairly odd.) All the boys here are named Chad, Ethan, Jack or Cody. Every girl child is named Madison or some variant of Isabel, I think it’s state law. (Aren’t all English kids named Flora and Sebastian? Or do I watch too much old BBC?)

  • Judith says:

    Тот март, она будет гениальным сочинителем. Я думаю я пошлет ей все мои самые лучшие духи то она может написать о их!

    Nah, I have no idea what it says, either!

  • Leopoldo says:

    Heck almighty – that ‘cowboy’ (as if…) photo is fine. That, alongside the kleenex, takes me somewhere I shouldn’t be going on a family blog… Eeewww.

    Family blog? – do you and P imagine Ma, Pa and 2.4 kids cozying up around the screen to read about scents and innuendo, steaming cups of hot chocolate and marshmallows to hand? I thought not.

    I hope Hecate and Buckethead (great names by the way – they must stand out on the pre-school register. And if Buckethead has your surname, it sounds like a weird sports manoeuvre as much as a person) have settled back down to their placid contentment. I have 2 year old twin boys next door to me – love em to bits, but there’s only so much ‘Hello’ ‘Hello’ ‘Hello’ conversations we can have before one decides the other needs a sudden flesh pull.

    I wouldn’t worry about all that fancy foreign stuff, March. It’s your honest to god truthfulness that we come here for. And I think you and P write about scents in one of my all time favourite ways… Love you both.

    Nil ego contulerim iucundo sanus amico.