Some of Saturday’s Sensations

March is writing about our Saturday of scented escapades tomorrow, and I don’t wish to steal her thunder, but I thought I might post a few tidbits about our day. I have to – I had such a wonderful time and March was the perfect perfume companion in more ways than I can blog about. First, March is the meticulous one – she had a notebook, took down key points, expressed her take on the way too many scents we sniffed. I’m lackadaisical Lee. I just sniffed and allowed all the sensations to blur into one. Probably not the best way to go, but I’m not really known for my planning. Suffice to say, she’s got the details and I’m like one of those Turner paintings where you can’t really make out where the sea ends and the sky begins. Actually, a Turner painting is too high quality for the impressionist mess currently sitting in my brain.
So, here’s my top ten random muddlethinks from the day:

  1. Skin chemistry is important, at least for the first few minutes. Virgin Island Water was all lime margarita on my skin; for March it’s all about the popcorn.
  2. If you sniff too many vetiver scents, your nose begins to warp in weird and peculiar ways. I overdid it in Les Senteurs, and that earthy vet note in things like Vetiver Extraordinaire started to make my stomach turn. It got worse with Annick Goutal’s number.
  3. One of my biggest perfume frustrations is that tip-of-the-tongue moment I get (from my lack of expertise, I imagine) where a new scent experience is intensely reminiscent of a prior one. I had this several times, most noticeably with French Lover (more about this one on Wednesday). I wish I had instant recall at such times.
  4. Waiting is hard, but man, it saves you a lot of cash. We both fell heavily in love with something in Santa Maria Novella, only to be repulsed by it an hour later on (it was intially good enough to be worthy of skin space, which says something when you’re sniffing over 100 things in a day). Similarly, Micallef’s Gaà¯ac started off beautifully, but fifteen minutes in became as close as dammit to Tea for Two, thereby saving me a whole wad of cash. To be fair to the beauty, the final moments of its drydown did something wonderful, but not enough to make it purchase-worthy for me. There was another wonder in Roja Dove, sold in hand-hewn quartz crystal bottles (March has the name I think), that started out as a deeply resinous miracle filled with perfume heft, but after half an hour was all about the birch tar. I like birch tar, but not at however many zillions that perfume was selling for.
  5. I have a problem with orange blossom. I wish I didn’t.
  6. I seize on one or two words per day, which I seem to overuse. Saturday’s words were ‘shrill’ and ‘high-pitched’. This takes me back to orange blossom.
  7. I have special ugly face reserved for the effect aldehydes (or certain types of aldehydes) have on me. Baghari in particular seems to tighten the top of my head and make everything about me wrinkle. It’s a learnt response, I imagine, but I find such notes unbearable. This, along with my struggle with some chypres (what was that monstrosity in Fortnum’s, March?) mark me down as a perfume lightweight.
  8. Patricia de Nicola௠is remarkable for having not only a wonderful range of scents, but having them available in 30ml. £15 for a 30 ml bottle of New York: genius size, genius pricepoint.
  9. I’m always drawn to something with a splash of naughty. Resniffing Mona di Orio’s Nuit Noire on our departure from Les Senteurs gave me back my vavavoom, and Bal a Versailles made me flirtatious with the sales assistant in Roja Dove (the female one; we’d spent most of our time with Marcel… March will probably say I’m ALWAYS flirtatious with SAs. Male or female. I think she’s probably right).
  10. I’m drawn to March. Not just cuz she’s a little bit naughty (she tipped the Sacred Tears of Thebes onto her wrist – gasp! – instead of using the spills – ? – to dab out a dot; she laughed at my rude and inappropriate jokes; she loves cakes and lovely gooey pastry things), but because her sense of humour, sharpness, good looks, and perfume mania made me happy, nay delighted, to be in her company. You know you’re with a fellow addict when one of you loses track of your current conversation because either: a) a bottle has caught your eye; b) you suddenly need a resniff of one of your many tester strips; c) you’re currently spraying something; d) you’ve been transported to a scented place and sounds have become momentarily irrelevant.

Thanks March – we were normal together. Well, kinda…

  • March says:

    Soir de Lune was the one that almost did you in. Sorry about that, I hope you weren’t sick on the way home, but that was quite a face you made, smelling it!

    Yes, you’re right — notebook in hand — and Patty’s right, that was me in NYC with a little notebook. Only because I can’t remember anything otherwise. I’ve been known to write on my arms in various places in pen to mark the scents …

    You were so much fun. Thanks again. And I think Marcel would have kept you for himself, if he could have.

    PS That was the honey-into-mildewed-washcloth SMN, Aqua de Something … Aqua de Cuba!

    Heading home tomorrow — I’m going to miss London a lot.

    • pitbull friend says:

      Ah, yes, Acqua di Cuba. I was thinking of piss, but it is more complex than that. Makes a lot of sense, writing on one’s arm. I still write the occasional urgent thing on the inside of my left hand. In junior high, I kept all my assignments there.

      Glad you two had such a nice time. We expected so! Sniffapalooza is doing a trip to Paris this year, but I figure there’s no possible way I can afford it and have anything left over to buy perfumes while I’m there, so it’s not happening for me. But they are planning on Florence for next year, so I guess you two could join the group at SMN and enjoy your new favorite fragrance! :d

      Lee, I am deeply with you on the neroli problem. It really makes my head hurt. (Though, oddly, there are a few scents that contain it — generally classics — that I like.) Alas, I’ve also not yet learned to appreciate some of the more indolic scents. I’m writing the latter off to being a newbie, and have started a separate bag for samples I think I might grow into some day! Thankfully, perfume is so abundant that I’m still approx. 200 samples behind and there are whole collections I’ve not tried.

      Isn’t applying perfume to someone in his sleep an officially recognized ground for divorce? 😕 I’ll have to check before doing it… –Ellen

    • Solander says:

      Oh, it was Acqua di Cuba! Funny, it’s one of the few SMNs I’ve tried, and on me it was teeth-rotteningly sweet honey from start to finish.

    • Lee says:

      Soir de Lune or Eau de Soir? Now I confuzzled.:-?

  • Lee says:

    Q – I think it must simply be how some of our brains are wired up. High pitched smells have the effect of a scream right in my ear, unfortunately. I wonder if others smell neroli as something completely different.

    And flirting is part of my M.O., for better or worse.:*

  • The two of you are a perfect pair! Flirting is part of being mature enough to wear a fragrance, is it not? And finally! Someone else who hates orange blossom–something I think of as Eau de Migraine. It doesn’t actually give me one, but it makes my brain retreat. As do a lot of aldehydes. But your review is wonderfully real and fun. Those of us who don’t know a lot about perfume–just love it for what it is–like to feel we are not bug spit, but are in good company.

  • violetnoir says:

    Oh, it sounds like you two had so much fun together! Nothing beats a good perfume sniffing afternoon with people who “get it.” 😉

  • Teri says:

    Y’all have planted a seed in this fertile mind of mine…..

    Wouldn’t it be splendid to put together a ‘tour group’ of like-minded perfumaholics and make a grand progression across Europe? It could be casual, or it could be more regimented. A morning of sniffing, followed by an afternoon seminar, perhaps? If approached, perhaps some of the perfume houses would agree to give said seminars (along with generous samples, of course 😉

    I’ve seen such things done for wine tours, architecture tours, gallery/museum tours, etc. Why not a perfume tour?

    Just thought I’d toss that idea out there…I can’t imagine a more interesting, and happily opinionated, bunch to go on tour with than you wonderful crazy kids. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Sounds wunderbar, though I’m unlikely to have the requisite dinero for some time!
      Who’s the tour guide?

  • Bryan says:

    You two sound like perfect sniffing opposites. How fun is that! I, like Patty, wish I could have tagged along. As for the vetiver damage, I can relate. Unfortunately, this happens after only a few whifs. The note just reaks of insipid men’s colognes, but that’s really a personal issue (think fathers and all of those freudian connotations).
    I adore a little, nay make that a lot, of skank in my perfume. We know March does, but how fab that you do too. (I had a feeling, given your thoughts on musk by CB, etc). Tell me, where do you draw the line? I mean, I have yet to be turned off by an animalic note….do I need help?

    • Lee says:

      B, you need to get over the vetiver thing (but it’s probably the same as my chypre thing. I’ve just remembered the shoulder padded, hair lacquered monster – and its bound to have plenty of fans here: Eau du soir. Help! run for cover!). Have you tried Sel de Vet? Vet Tonka?

      Skank does have its limits for me, yes. It’s called Human Existence. Something like MKK strikes me as a sweet purring little thing. I also found Rose Poivree quite, erm, challenging.

      Do you need help? Yes, but I wouldn’t want you any other way.:d

      • Bryan says:

        That’s terribly sweet of you. I do need to get over the vet thing, since it adds such a perfect earthy note to the otherwise bland compositions. I do adore vet tonka to be honest. I shouldn’t have forgotten. Sel de Vet I have yet to try, but it does sound beautiful. I can relate to the chypre thing, but when I wear soir de lune, I am inevitably asked what beautiful scent I’m wearing. More guys should be wearing chypres too, I believe. What are your Holy Grails? I know you hesitate with florals somewhat, but I’d love your thoughts on Carnal Flower.

  • Amy says:

    I’m weeping at the memory of Sacred Tears. Weeping. WEEPING. So beautiful, and I’m so glad some other people have smelled it now and I can prove it’s real and not some phantom of my increasingly dodgy memory.

    Plus: Aw, I love Baghari. Such a sweet, sparkly fragrance, but with very good manners. Sorry she disagrees with you.

    • Lee says:

      Hey – $2000 gets you 7.5ml in that crystal skullsmasher, or you can opt for $400 for 15ml in some shoddy aluminium vial. They ship!

      Just, erm, enabling.:-“

    • Lee says:

      As for Baghari – she grabbed hold of my hair and whacked me onto a table edge, smacked me in the face with her elbow (two teeth chipped, split lip and jaw dislocated – nothing serious), and sliced through my nostrils with a switchblade. Apart from that, unscathed…

  • helg says:

    What a fun day spent in London! You must have enjoyed yourselves immensely. Wish I could join you.
    And you got to try out Les Larmes: isn’t this exquisite? (and Bal isn’t far behind, glorious, glorious frag)

    Thanks for the sum-up, very fun!

    • Lee says:

      Absolutely exquisite, Helg. i’ll leave the description of it to March. I kidded mysaelf you could get it with some benzoin and a spray of Juozas – I’msure that’s not the case….:((

  • Solander says:

    Oh, it sounds like such a great time! I’m planning some fragrant shopping in Berlin and Bologna (sadly not London, I need to get to York quickly so I’ll just be passing through Manchester airport, but living in the UK for a year will hopefully give me an opportunity to go to London later), but although I’m sure my civil engineer will be very patient with me I’m afraid her feedback extends no further than to :d, 😕 or “it smells like cake!” When I shove my wrist in her face, she usually exclaims “hm!” in an adorably surprised tone of voice, accompanied by either a concentrated frown or a delighted smile and the phrase “it smells like something”. Well, duh, I’d like my money back if it didn’t.. 😉

    But what was that SMN that turned on you? You can’t keep it a secret from us!

    • Solander says:

      By the way, I’ll definitely bring a notepad on my fragrant journey. I might wait until I’m out of the store to write things down though…

  • Elle says:

    That was a great interview! Tried to comment there, but kept having problems logging in. Am personally very grateful your DH had that budget talk w/ you and inspired you to start Fragrant Fripperies. DH has had that talk w/ me many, many times, but other than take on more clients at my regular work, I’ve yet to do anything shockingly practical about it…and I’m afraid I won’t – especially nothing to do w/ decanting and making samples. Honestly, I have nothing but shocked admiration for you or anyone else who can make samples. I’d rather be put on a Catherine Wheel than make samples. I’m always stunned that people don’t charge 5 times as much for them.
    Look forward to the rest of the interview tomorrow.

  • Elle says:

    Sounds like such a blast! There’s nothing like sniffing w/ a fellow addict.
    I have to admit I’m a compulsive note taker about perfumes, but they’re not on the computer and are in desperate need of organization.
    Nuit Noire slays me it’s so gorgeous. French Lover reminds me very much of CdG 2 Man – at least on my skin that’s what it’s like, but, as you said, skin chemistry matters and I’ve not tested it on other people yet. As soon as DH wakes up this morning, he’ll have it on his wrist…actually, why wait till he’s conscious? Off to apply. No, he won’t object. 🙂 He’s long since accepted his role as favorite skin chemistry guinea pig. He only kvetches if he has to go out and it’s a major floral – have to wait till he’s safely in for the evening for those.
    Always have loved PdN, but love her even more now for those smaller sizes. Hope other lines take notice and follow suit.

  • Judith says:

    I’m so jealous of you both–for meeting each other! Sounds as if you had a perfect time! And I get the lime margarita, too!

    • Lee says:

      Hi margarita twin!
      You would’ve had mucho fun. We laughed at our silliness more than furrowed brows at our profound snifferies…

  • Nina says:

    Is there anything nicer you can do standing up, than meandering round fabulous temples of perfume with a fellow perfume fan? Someone who ‘gets’ the sheer excitement of finding a spot on your arm that smells like heaven, and remembering which Caron it was?

    We did some of your route on the Basenotes day in London; it was just paradise.

    VIW is lime margarita on me too, Lee.

    • Lee says:

      Nina – I want to know who stumped up the £950 for Thebes on the Basenotes trip! And how I can make them my friend… :d

  • chayaruchama says:

    A good tme had by all !

    I look forward to both sides of the tale…
    And enjoy your visceral descriptions of your biological response to various scents, my beloved weirdo !

    Pattycakes- I’m goin’ there, RIGHT NOW, to check you out, girl !
    Enjoy the sun, my friends…

    • Lee says:

      Y’ know, I can’t help em I. It was worse with that chypre number – it’d kill me dead if I was stuck in an elevator with it. March could be tortured to death with Miel de Bois – I’d die quickly with Baghari and the mystery one.

  • Patty says:

    PS — The Perfume Bee (over on the left) has an interview with me today and tomorrow. I was seriously flattered to be asked!

  • Patty says:

    I’m trying not to cry. I wish I could have gone!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March is truly the perfect perfume shoppping companion. She’s great company, regardless — funny, smart, warm — but in perfume shopping, she just meanders at the perfect speed. I almost forgot the little notebook! I think she had that in NYC, but if she didn’t, I sure picture her having one. I’m taking one with me next time I do NYC or when I finally get to Paris, which I still think we need a Posse visit to this fall. We’d shop all day, find somewhere to eat and drink until the wee hours, sleep just a little and then go sniffing again the next day.

    • Lee says:

      Oh yeah – Posse in Paris. It’d be great.

      As you know, I’m not a keen shopper, but with March around and perfume in sight, things change…

    • Bryan says:

      OH, sign me up, sign me up. The four of us in Paris, we’d go crazy. The good kind of crazy!

      • carmencanada says:

        No, you’ll be five, ’cause I’ll be playing Paris hostess, complete with a mini-Osmothèque visit of my private collection (Coty extraits, anyone?).

  • Louise says:

    Ahhh! Several times on Saturday I envisioned you two playing well together. So glad you had a chance to meet and be delighted by March. Orange blossom overdose, ya say? Stick to Nuit Noire, yum! Of course you flirt with SA-and who doesn’t flirt with March?

    I’m going to print out all posts on your jaunt and bind them for our upcoming trip to the UK-watch out!


    • Lee says:

      Well, Les Larmes Sacre is a must. But hurry! only three bottles left.

      Nuit Noire is seriously sexy – it’s grown on me more and more. Whether it’s for me though…

  • Maria B. says:

    Lee, it was a foregone conclusion that you and March would have a blast, being such special, fun people. I am not the least bit surprised either that you flirted with every SA; we expect no less from you. :d

    I keep thinking I should start taking notes on fragrances. I would, if I could only find my index cards. (New excuse tomorrow.)

    You have a problem with orange blossom, but Nuit Noire gives you that vavavoom feeling? 😕

    Please, tell us, what did Sacred Tears of Thebes *smell like*??? Was it all resiny? (I love resins.)

    • Lee says:

      Thanks M. I’ll leave it to March to explain Larme Sacre de wotsit. Quite remarkable, though I did manage to convince her that she didn’t need to splash out $2000 on a Baccarat bottle. Ha!

      As for orange blossom – you got me. Though it’s where it takes centre stage that I go all squirmy. In Nuit Noire, it’s dirtied up and indolised (? it’ll do) and I love it. It’s bearable too in Fleurs d’Oranger because of the extra gubbins Serge and Sheldrake bung in. But where it does its mosquito whine – *shudder*