Today on the blog we´re offering a selection of earworms – “Don´t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult, or if you prefer something a little less refined, “Smoke on the Water” by Foghat. Do you have one of those firmly cemented in your brain? Good. Keep that playing, I have a little story for you.
Patty sent me a sample of the beautiful Ellie – the $$$$$$$ per ml. thang with white florals, vanilla, vetiver and musk, carried (I think) at Bendel. But what I really noticed was the gamey stench emerging from the package as soon as I unsealed it – because she´d thoughtfully included a samp of the Human Existence from the Mugler Coffret – which she´d thoughtfully labeled “XXXXX”. No, it hadn´t leaked. It´s just that powerful. I think Patty captured the essence pretty well on her post. I´d add this: if you combined the bottom-of-the-dirty-shower smell and added a note of unplugged refrigerator full of food (let´s give it, oh, a month to ripen) you´d be close.
I gloved up (literally – I used my hair-dye gloves) and popped open the Ellie vial. Okay, it´s very pretty. But I wasn´t really getting its full flower somehow. I decided I´d dabbed on too little in my subconscious effort to stay awaaaaay from the HE, so I went back in there, popped the little vial back open, and dumped a healthy serving on the back of my hand.
At which point I realized I´d grabbed the wrong vial. Turns out that, without my reading glasses, “Ellie” and “XXXXX” look a lot alike.
I freely admit I had it coming to me. The gods punish hubris, and after Monday´s screed on mall frags this was just what I deserved. I tried rinsing it off right away, but come on – that´s like cleaning up Three Mile Island with a sponge and a bucket o´ suds.
Today´s candy is full of assorted oddities with a funky theme:
Comme des Garcons Incense Series – Ouarzazate. Notes via Luckyscent are: incense, pepper, nutmeg, clary sage, wenge, musk, vanilla, labdanum absolute, Kashmir wood. Given my total love for most of this series, I keep trying (and failing) to work up much appreciation for this one. Those notes look good. But on my skin it´s a bitter, spice-driven mess that smells more like sandalwood than anything else, and is almost instantly headache-inducing. Has anyone smelled Jaisalmer, the only other one I haven´t tried? The notes sound soooo good (cardamom! pimento! gaiac!), but I´m wondering whether it´s another headache.
Eau d´Italie Sienne l´Hiver – I tried to paste in Aedes´ gorgeous folderol about this scent, but they´ve defeated me. Anyway, nobody´s readier for a romp in the Sienna countryside than I am, and the notes sound scrumptious (roasted chestnuts, incense, soil, violet leaf, geranium, iris, black olive, white truffle, smoke woods.) On my skin, however, it´s reminiscent of the wet, sharp, sour smell you get when you change the water in a vase of flowers after a few days. For the record, I don´t dislike that smell, particularly, but I don´t want to wear it, either.
Eau d’Italie Bois d´Ombrie – notes (via Aedes): cognac, whiskey, iris, leather, myrrh, tobacco, vetiver, woods. This is working a little better for me. First off, it´s warmer. Also, you could probably pair whiskey, leather and tobacco with cat pee and I´d still … wait … there is a little cat pee note in here. That high-pitched note is chafing me; my guess is it´s the myrrh. Meh. The drydown is nicer, earthy leather, but I´m not sure the wait is worth it.
Demeter Fiery Curry – I promised myself I wouldn´t blog on another Demeter, but I can´t help it. Notes via Demeter: “Our version is a spiced combination of prik kee noo, a fresh and spicy Thai chili, lemongrass, lime, cilantro and galangal, a gingerlike root, but more delicate.” This is fabulous. If you liked L´Artisan Epices coffret, this one´s for you. It is not the creamy smell of coconut-based curry. It´s an airy, delightful blend of the notes listed, peppery and tart but not foody. As Now Smell This pointed out, this would be an excellent starting point for a CDG Curry (or Spice) Series – it´s that interesting, and that good. A make-you-smile scent, with surprising lasting power. If you don´t want to spring for a $19 bottle unsniffed, as of May 1 their website´s offering big, fat 11ml samples of everything for $3 a pop!
Norell. A fragrance worth revisiting. This is one of those iconic scents that, as a newbie, I couldn´t get away from fast enough. It´s tenacious and pugnacious — a blend of galbanum, oakmoss, amber, musk, jasmine and rose (I´m having trouble finding a reliable list of notes anywhere), and it just seemed too much. Now I find it strange and beautiful. It doesn´t remind me of anything else, really – although at the opening it´s got a touch of the same green assertiveness of, say, Carven Ma Griffe, or even Lancome Sikkim, which I believe is roughly the same vintage (late 1960s?). I tried three concentrations (cologne, EDT and parfum) and can´t dismiss any of them. The cologne is the sharpest, but it´s also the most shrubbery-like (in a good way). The EDT is rounder and a bit powdery, the amber is almost velvety, but it´s not warm and cuddly. The parfum trades the green aspect for a raw, rich animalic base that´s reminiscent of CB Musk, which (depending on your perspective) is either thrilling or revolting. The florals in all concentrations seem to highlight the severity of the rest of the composition rather than softening it.
There is something edgy about Norell that gives it a peculiarly modern niche feel, rather than the tone of a “classic.” There is also something Not Quite Nice about it. It´s the sort of scent I´d wear with killer Manolos and an Armani suit to a business meeting, when I was planning to tell my opponent I was going to crush him like a cockroach. I find it subversive and compelling, without ever having the right occasion to wear it (maybe a meeting with The Donald, if he calls.)
image: Icarus, Victor Nizotsev, artfiles.art.com; Norell, shopping.com