A Doris Day moment

(Forgive me if this post ends up brief – my computer seems to be dying and has crashed three times, losing everything I’d written. Nyaaargh!)

My mother seems to have assumed that the death of my gran meant that she had to fulfil the role of family mystic. My gran was a little bit witchy – I mean that in the nicest possible way – and her favourite saying was ‘Whatever happens is what was meant to be’. Now my mother has said this phrase at least in every other conversation we’ve had in the past three months. I don’t engage her in the philospohical complexities of predestination theory, no. I normally just agree. If I’m in a slightly more contrary mood, I might ask her what she actually means, only to receive the gnostic reply: “It’s what your gran said, and she was never wrong”. So there you are. My mum: wise woman, or daft old bat. You decide. I don’t care; I just love her to bits.
Therefore, in the spirit of family spiritualism (er?), I decide to dangle my hand into the box of samples and see what I draw out. And strangely enough, a pattern emerges.Let’s go on a whirlwind artisanal journey across the continent of North America sniffing out what’s what. I’ll try to do a sentence summary of each sniffter as we go, just for good measure.

Let’s start in New Orleans. Here in the UK, winter returned this week, after a couple of weeks of balmy spring heat. I could do with the humid languor of the South. Hové and Bourbon French have a small but avid following over at Perfume of Life, and M kindly sent me a couple of samples so I could sniff them out. Hové’s Spanish Moss is said to be warm, exotic, mossy and green – I was expecting a real chypre. And it is that, perhaps, in the final drydown, but it starts out as a floral feminine number, which is more a night in the idealised tropics than anything else. Expecting to see ancient gnarled trees collecting and dripping humidity, he instead was given a tour of her flower garden by dear Miss Caroline.

Waving to Patty below us as she busily decants, we land in Boulder, CO. I’m not really familiar with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, and her prolific approach to perfume creation brings out the cynic in me – surely nothing can be that good if it’s made that quickly. My lovely friend Lou mailed me three samples along with a whole host of other goodies a while back, and it gave me a chance to judge for myself. The Silk Road has a wonderful name – it takes me back to my atlas studying days (see an earlier post), perhaps imagining myself as a Mongol tribesman traversing inhospitable moonscapes as he heads, on horseback, for the wonders of Samarkand. All I know is that it’s supposed to be a tea scent, and it does have a tannic hit in the opening. But it makes me think of other things entirely. Muddlehead Michael believed he could buy his Asia ticket in the headshop. All he got instead was a highly decorative bong.

Further north now, travelling up the Rockies, and across the border to Vancouver. I’vbacall.jpge been meaning to explore natural perfumes for some time, simply because my knowledge of this area is almost as woeful as it is of classic Chanel, and Ayala Moriel is my gateway perfumer into this unknown land. My favourite so far is Espionage, a gloriously smoky number with notes of leather, orris and tobacco. It is delightful – subtle, sensual, skin-clingy. A perfume for lovers, but with an edge. The corners of Slim’s open mouth twitched into a smile, her exhalation enveloping Steve with the smoky warmth of her lungs .

Let’s leave the mists and greenery of the north Pacific coast for the democratic sunshine of southern California. San Diego. Chayaruchama has hinted at the wonders of Ava Luxe, and favoured me with two from her broad but select range. Royal Parvati has wowed me. It’s one of those instant loves, with almost the complexity of a Mona di Orio – and certainly some of the naughtiness. It’s a sandalwood scent with a full array of spices and perhaps a hint of coconut – not enough to send you into the horrors of Comptoir Sud Pacifique overload – but the right amount to make the scent fall magically between oriental and gourmand. As my skin devours sweet notes and makes dry scents chokeworthy (it NEVER used to be this way), I find this truly delightful. It’s a must try. L became increasingly distant: his eyes glazed, drool pooled on his chin, and the olfactory nose glue meant he was unable to detach his face from his wrist for several hours.

If you’d like to be the recipient of these samples, let me know in the usual way.

Winners of the Hermà¨s draw are: Steve H and Gail S. Steve – you have mail. Gail – please get in touch through the contact us link!

[Doris Day image courtesy of http://muhlemann.ch; Spanish Moss courtesy of http://philipbutler.com; the stunning Bacall courtesy of http://businesslife.com; Silk road image from http://runes.typepad.com; Parvati from http:// gilihaskin.com]

  • Lavanya says:

    I’d love to be in the drawing (if I’m not too late..)

  • Devon says:


    Please enter me in the drawing.

    Thank you!

  • Steve H says:

    Would love to “win” the Espionage or POL sample(s).
    Please enter me into the drawing as well.

  • Skye H. says:

    Please enter me for the samples. I could use something droolworthy after the week I have had! Ava Luxe on me is hit or miss but Ayala’s line I love. I haven’t tried the Espionage yet, but it sounds dreamy.


  • Dana says:

    Those reviews have piqued my curiosity! Please include me in the draw. Thanks!

  • carmencanada says:

    Dear Lee,

    I was recently thinking Bacall in To Have or Have Not would’ve worn Bandit. Perfect androgynous scent for Slim, great with cigarettes.
    I don’t know any of the scents you’ve reviewed. I’ll be getting around to Ayala’s some time, perhaps when I go to Canada on holiday. They sound so tempting, and it’s such a pleasure to read her learned, informative blog.
    As for you, I can’t encourage you too much to pursue in your vein of micro-short stories reviews. They’re an utter delight! I think we should launch the principle on PoL, it would certainly be a lot of fun.

    • Lee says:

      Ayala is a great blogger – she really knows her stuff and shares it in such a considered and interesting way. The microstory is a great idea for PoL.

  • Melanie says:

    Hi Lee, would you please enter me in the drawing? I’m trying to find something to love almost as much as Djedi, but nothing else will ever be quite the same–sob

    • Melanie says:

      I meant to tell you, I wish I could send some of our humidly langorous weather-it’s only March, and I already have to run the A/C!

      • Lee says:

        You’re in the drawing. See, the UK is largely air conditioner free (except for offices, stores, etc – people tend not to have it in their homes). But with the climate changing apace, I wonder how long that may last.

  • evilpeony says:

    lee… Best luck with the house-hunting. 🙂

    smack the computer and show him who’s boss. ha! who am i kidding? i outsource all my computer grief to someone more *knowlegable* hahahaha…

    can you kindly enter me in the drawing pretty please?????

  • Maria B. says:

    Lee, I’m still trying to get over your mother saying, “It’s what your gran said, and she was never wrong.” Your gran was her mother? A daughter says her mother was never wrong???? I’m still holding my hand to my chest to recover from the shock. (Typing is quite difficult and slow that way.) OTOH if your gran was her mother-in-law, I hope Norbu was trained in his former home how to dial the paramedics.

    I enjoyed the post, even if my life was put in danger by it, you naughty man. Your powers of prose organization are remarkable. Please enter me in the drawing.

    I hope the house turmoil is resolving itself. 😡

    • Lee says:

      Turmoil is resolving itself, I hope.

      It was my mother’s mother yes. They were very close.:o

      And thanks for the lovely comments – I can assure you, it was much better the other two times, but the pesky computer didn’t like those drafts. Too fancy, or something. So this quickly written one will have to suffice…


  • Lee says:

    Can you buy glue on supernumerary nipples anywhere? I want to look the part….

    You do indeed M!

    • Judith says:

      A good example of why, while writing without subject pronouns is possible, writing without hyphens is not. Originally read this a plea for glue ON TOP OF supernumerary nipples, whereas what was actually desired was glue-on suupernumerary nipples. Sorry for being both pedantic and )occasionally) passive. 🙂

      • Lee says:

        I knew I needed thew hyphen as soon as I typed it, but hell, I might like to try some glue on my supernumerary anyways…

        I assume you’re referring to grammatical passivity, rather than anything semantic…:)

        • Judith says:

          Yeah, grammatically passive, otherwise pretty active and aggressive (usually grammtically so as well). Now that I realize what this (your post, not my occasional passivity) is about, I will tell you that I had what I thought (and still mostly think) was a mole removed when I was about 13; the doctor informed me that it was a supernumerary nipple, thereby scaring the hell out of my newly adolescent self. And I didn’t even know the stuff about witches. It looked just like a mole, so I don’t know. . . .

  • BitterGrace says:

    So you’re a hereditary witch, Lee–I knew there was a reason I like you so much!

    Lovely post. I have *got* to try Ava Luxe goodies sometime soon

  • Lauren says:

    Hello, Lee!

    I would love to win the samples, but if I don’t, Que Sera Sera.

  • dinazad says:

    Great reviews, thanks! Royal Parvati sounds divine – so would you please enter me in the drawing?

  • tmp00 says:

    Oddlu enough, the review I am working on next for Marina is a delve into the sample bag. Mine is more giveaways from stores like Sephora and N-M than stuff from friends (although I have to get off my a$$ and review those too).

    I’m titling it “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

    Please enter me in the drawing…:d

  • Theresa says:

    Wonderfully entertaining! What are you quoting when you describe Espionage? The quote featuring “Slim”…
    Please enter me in the drawing.

    • Lee says:

      T – the two main characters in ‘To Have and Have Not’, played by Bogart and Bacall.

      ‘You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve?’

      You’re in.

  • Fia says:

    What fun reviews. I’d love to try those!

  • Marina says:

    I am not familiar with any of the scents your described, but I adore the way you described them. 😡

    • Lee says:

      Well, though I’m scared a little of your aldehyde week, I must get over to your blog and place some comments this week. House stuff is keeping me way too busy.


  • Gaia says:

    What a lovely journey that reminds me that I really need to get into Ayala’s creations (and just about all the other things). No help from my mom there, though. She’s a real witch (makes a living from it, too, and freaking me out regularly), but always wear tuberosy scents.

  • Jennifer says:

    Ad me to the drawing. I must admit I have a sample of Ava Luxe’s Royal Parvati and everyone speaks of the coconut, but I don’t get any of the coconut on me.

    • Lee says:

      Funny you don’t get the coconut – it’s subtle to me though, so could quite easily disappear on some skins. You’re in.

  • Judith says:

    Wonderful reviews–especially like the summary comments, which seem very Goreyish to me. Would love to try the samples. Seem unable to write subject pronouns this morning. . . .

  • Patty says:

    I’m a huge fan of the Ava Luxe things, though I tend to like them better in the lotions. Not sure why. Nude Musk is just perfection in a lotion.

    I do have some of the Shisha, the new one , on the way, I can’t wait to try that!

    Several of those lines I really do need to try. I’m just awash in samples, though! How can I fit in more? Well, I’ll try.

    Hope your computer recovers. NOthing is worse than working on stupid computer problems, it can quickly eat days of your life.

    • Lee says:

      My 6 year old mac seems to have recovered from the glitches it was sufgfering from last night and this morning. Bloody machine!

      Shisha does sound good.

      I know what you mean about samples – it’s neverending.

    • Meg says:

      Patty, you’re a woman after my own…er, nose. I, too, am an Ava Luxe lotion fiend–only because they are just as good as the perfumes, *and* silky smooth. (They’re also quite inexpensive!:d )
      As much as I love Nude Musk, there’s something in it that reminds me of a tamer, less pinkish Pink Sugar– the bergamot+sugar/vanilla combination? Another way of putting it: While Pink Sugar gives me and my loved ones hives, Nude Musk tickles something nice…in a nice way. And I look forward to reading your review of Shisha. I just got mine yesterday; it wasn’t *quite* what I had expected–but time does odd things to noses. :-\

  • Silvia says:

    Please include me in the draw for the samples, many thanks !

  • hausvonstone says:

    Ah, enter me for the samples, please and thank you. I need to drool.
    I enjoyed the review style – especially the first, which gave me Edward Gorey flashbacks!
    I have tried several Ava Luxe samples, and they all smell a bit like butter oil to me. Crazy?

    • Lee says:

      Maybe I’m channeling him?

      There IS a butter oil quality, now you mention it…

      you’re in.

      • Meg says:

        Edward Gorey… hmmm… (Ponders the do-ability of an Eau d’Edward Gorey, and what notes it would feature):-?

  • Elle says:

    Great post! I need to try more Bourbon French scents. I’ve heard that the Hove Tea Olive is the closest perfume to capture that scent. I think many scents from DSH’s Beaux Arts line are excellent.

  • March says:

    Very funny!!! Oh, those computer dustups are aggravating … this post is just another reminder of my vast swaths of missing knowledge regarding several lines. I really need to get busy and smell some of Ayala’s stuff, that’s for sure.

    I had no idea Bourbon French had a following (I just typed Bourbon of Life, by the way — wonder what gran would say about that?) Anyway, I’m happy to hear it, they make me smile.

    • Lee says:

      I’ve only smelled Carré from the Bourbon French line, March. I need to try more of those some time soon.

  • chayaruchama says:

    Good morning, my Badness !
    Nothing like the aroma of perfume lemmings in the morning, is there ?
    Such a shame that your bevy of virtual beauties ‘gift’ you with this and that…
    We loves us some UK boy.
    MWAH !