We have a guest poster, Chris, while March is gone, who has done this great piece on Lavender.
Lavender has become a mild obsession lately, so I picked a few full bottles and samples of lavender and lavender based things to smell and ponder. The NoCal weather has taken a turn for the ridiculously hot and the idea of lavender is cooling, even though the reality of the smell reminds me more of densely packed earth and arid xeriscapes.
Norma Kamali’s LAVANDE is something I have never seen mentioned anywhere. People love or hate her INCENSE and CEREMONY and this one (to me) is a sleeper. First, the bottle is minimalist, functional and big. A whopping 50 ml. A spritz is cooling, astringent, medicinal and head clearing in a way that reminds me of eucalyptus. The juice is like going out to my garden, picking a woody piece of plant, squigging it between my fingers and filling my head with that hot/cold, dry/oily odor I love so much. This has decent lasting power and does not change much from beginning to end.
Guerlain’s MOUCHOIR DE MONSIEUR eau de toilette is supposed to be the gentleman’s version of JICKY. I do love a nice gentleman and I detest Jicky. MdM is not pure lavender. It mixes bergamot, civet, vanilla and amber in a mannerly way and reminds me very much of cozying up to a well barbered man right after he has completed his morning ablutions and is about to step into the Bentley to chair a board or cause some heads roll. It takes the starkness of Lavande and injects it with a few generations of boarding school, bespoke suits and a more than a trace of haughtiness. It softens and gets powdery from the vanilla and amber as the day wears on. I usually find the combination of lavender and vanilla gag making, but this is so smoothly done that my gag reflex is sleepy and purring.
In the interest of science, I did prod the above mentioned gag reflex, somewhat accidentally, with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s SWEET DREAMS. The result was not good. This one gives 3 or 4 seconds of a semi-dry lavender then whaps me across the bridge of my nose with 75 pounds of vanilla nougat. Remember the candy that was popular in the late 50s and early 60s-Turkish Taffy? This is that. If you wish to smell like vanilla cake batter-I’d say wedding cake-and want just the merest nodding acquaintance with the oily purple stuff, go for this. I can’t, I shan’t and I won’t.
The final and less fatal but so bitterly disappointing sniff was of Andy Tauer’s REVERIE AU JARDIN. It opens with (so says the description) high altitude mountain lavender. And so it does, like Dawn’s, for 2 seconds or less. Since I love getting gassed with galbanum even more than I love the note I’m exploring today, I felt I could forgive the wham bam of the lavender. Vanilla again reared it’s sappy, platinum blond head and looked at me with huge, long lashed saucer eyes of those chilling Keen kids paintings popular many years ago. I was sent reeling and wretched, wondering where the hell the high mountain lavender had gone.
The moral of the story? Vanilla is best in creme brulee, a little civet in the mix is a chivalrous thing and lavender is at its best when mucked with as little as possible.