Generous with the Samples

Before I get onto today’s topic, please tell me why I am so suddenly craving a sniff of the new Parfum d’Empire scents? – especially the horsey one and the Bengal Fougere… Oh yeah, baby! They’re not out yet (September sometime I think), yet I GODDAM NEED ‘EM TO BE, ALRIGHT? Look at those bottles, wouldja? Holy guacamole! I think my Cuir Ottoman frenzy lies behind this one, alongside Robin at nowsmellthis and her finger on the pulse of all that’s scented (my fault for reading through her archive on a slow Monday afternoon)… What autumn numbers are you jonesing for, with desperation?

Actually, I can segue into today’s post quite easily from the previous paragraph, as I have Tom of Perfumesmellinthings to thank for Cuir Ottoman. I got it from him in a swap: he received three two-thirds full bottles of SLs for a full bottle of CO and one of Costes – on sale at Barney’s – why the hell not? So yes, I did make the lovely man be my personal shopper for the day… He also threw in a stack of samples, hence the focus of today’s post. When I picture him schlepping across town in the LA heat, I feel a tinge of guilt…

As I meet more perfume fans online and in real life (would you believe it? *that* place still exists), I never ceased to be amazed by their generosity. It’s not simply down to glut – folks who love a scent and only seem to have a tiny sample vial of it to hand, willingly hand it over with a smile and a wave… I imagine the last part of course, but I’m sure that’s the case. Which is why I’ve ended up with Tom’s sample of Profumum’s Olibanum that he picked up at Scent Bar. If you read his review a couple of weeks’ ago, you’ll remember it suggested gothic orgiastic reveries to the poor lad’s febrile mind. Well, hoping for some fun, I liberally poured some on in front of Matt, my long-suffering SO, and laid next to him on the bed… and waited.

Now, in spite of his occasional anosmia and frequent lack of interest, Matt does seem to have a gift for, sometimes at least, pinning down a scent. ‘It’s a room with wood in it – polished wood – and there’s a pipe. It’s still warm from being smoked but no longer has the tobacco in it’. He was right; there was a sense of tobacco remnant to the scent, if not tobacco per se. As the top notes faded, I was expecting the fragrance to become more incense heavy – it didn’t. In fact, although not listed anywhere I can see, it became more cedary – Matt said ‘Someone’s chopping wood.’ It has that oily resinous feel you get from fresh log piles… So, perhaps if lumberjack outfits were our kink, it would’ve got us going. Which means I will be investing in some plaid pretty damn soon.

Another wonderful person who sent me samples recently is Judith. I shamelessly declared how I wanted to try Berberiades – she offered me some. She also sent me at least eight samples of Montales – in vials so full, they squirted a little when I closed them back up. Judith – you’re a marvel. I’m going to save the Montales for another time for a couple of reasons – first, I’m new to aoud (except for M7 and a couple of other places) and need to get my head around it; second, you need a long time to appreciate the facets of these scents because they take you on a journey and a half. I’ll stick with Berberiades for now, and my testing on Matt. I’d given up on the idea of frolics by now, as I was too busy with nasal eroticism for anything else. I thought this understated scent started like, of all things, a hesperidic gourmand – somehow both creamy and citric. Matt claimed it was lemon sherbet. However, as it dried down, the saffrony aspect became stronger, alongside soft, somewhat feminine spices. It’s one of those lovely, easy-to -wear scents, like Costes actually, but smelling like a less nausea-inducing sibling of Safran Troublant. I really like it.

One of my biggest enablers in this perfume malarkey is Ida aka Chayaruchama aka Bostonian lovegoddess and houndchaser. You’ve probably come across her, and once you’ve broken through her introversion and natural diffidence….(ha), you’ll know that she’ll offer you a sample of anything at the drop of a hat. Truly, a heart of gold. So, recently she mentioned Santa Maria Novella’s Muschio in an email, saying how it ended its life smelling like one of her guinea pig’s bellies. She offered me a sample; it would’ve been wrong to say no, wouldn’t it? This is where Matt’s ability to define a scent goes pear-shaped – he claimed it was cleaning products and wax – nothing more. Crazy fool! This fragrance is a beauty. It’s the earth and dried vegetal matter and hay (yes, I know I’m repeating myself; it’s for effect) and the outdoors in September as the sun rises and the light is sepia-hued. I felt like I was in ‘The Go-Between’, looking at Julie Christie backlit in the early morn. *sigh*

Finally, regulars will know I met Louise a couple of weeks back. She handed over a hefty (10 mls? More?) decant of Bois 1920’s Sushi Imperiale. Now, if you’ve smelled this, you’ll know it’s about as shy and retiring as the aforementioned Ida (love you I!), but without overwhelming the sniffer at any moment. Or having a mackerel or any other fishy moment either. To M it was ‘an exotic milk pudding with a glug of booze’ from the outset, transforming into something more broody and masculine as time moved on. I left the room for a few minutes and returned. It was all pervasive, impossible not to smell, an envelopment of spices and booze and vanilla and glorious milkiness. I asked Matt what it was like now – he couldn’t detect it at all, or at any of the subsequent ten or so times I asked him, that wild obsessive look lingering in my glittering eyes… He’s now gone to the gym.
Thank you to all those people who have shared with me. My life is all the richer for knowing you, and not just richer in fragrance. Even if it does occasionally make Matt run from the house in terror.

So then, what have you sampled recently, and what’s your judgement on it?

Oh, and that’s me, by the way, looking daft and tired.

  • Priti says:

    Wow, Lee you are cute!

    I recently tried The Unicorn Spell. Arghhhh. I love violets so I was shocked that I hated it so much. And it disappeared in like 2 minutes. Definitely gonna give it away.

    I also tried Rose de Siwa. Mmmmmmmm Strong but yum!

  • donanicola says:

    Hello Lee! A bit late to this party – sorry – internet was down at home and at work yesterday – boo! Love your photo – I’m imagining that someone has told you how much a big bottle of Vetiver Tonka is and you are madly calculating in your head just how many nights eating beans on toast that translates into. I have been doing such calculations this week over a bottle of Delrae Bois de Paradis. I was all set to not like it as it contains a blackberry note but in this composition it is just perfect. I get all the notes individually (well think I do) yet it is a seamless blend too. Like a Vivienne Westwood dress I saw in the V&A once – you could see the seams yet there were only two of them running through the whole (big) dress – it was simply beautifully made. And that’s BdP – as Marina said – beautiful.

    • Lee says:

      No worries – I hate it when the internet’s down at work. I mean, what are we supposed to do with our time there? 😕

      You make Bois de Paradis sound delectable – another to go on the ‘to try’ list…

      And yes, the is a slight look of discombobulated befuddlement on my face, isn’t there?:d

  • The generosity of our fellow perfume lovers never ceases to amaze me. I’m *still* reeling over the package Patty sent me several months ago–an amazing collection of vintage beauties and modern things I had always wanted to try.

    P.S. You are so handsome!

    P.P.S. Safran Troublant is *not* nausea-inducing. :-w

    • Lee says:

      Patty is a generous one and no mistaking…

      p.s. Thank you.

      p.p.s. Only occasionally, it strikes me as too much of a good thing!

  • Ina says:

    Oh my word, are you cute or what? Cute and smelling good. 😡

  • violetnoir says:

    Lee, you are totally too cute!!! Hoo-ha!!!! :d

    A darling friend sent me a generous decant of Guerlain Ylang et Vanille. I love it. She also sent me a sample of the new Prada Iris one. It’s very pretty and well made, but not Iris Poudree or Hiris or ISM. But, like I said, very well done.

    Berberiades, huh? The Stephanie Saint-Aignan(sp.)line needs to be distributed. Is it in the UK yet? I am hoping that some fabulous place, like Bar, will start carrying the line in the very near future.

    I hope to sniff and test the Mona di Orio line soon. From your review, I need to give it another shot.


    • Lee says:

      It’s not in the UK afaik, but Stephanie herself emailed me to let me know Liberty are about to carry it. I’m sure it’ll reach Luckyscent soon…

      Good samples! And do give Mona a shot again – I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Gaia says:

    Lee, I just saw your picture the other day on the PoL board, so the hotness hasn’t surprised me. Lucky Matt…

    Speaking of daft and tired, that’s my nose lately. I’m considering applying samples to my cats, just to get a whiff of something completely different. I’ll try to get excited for the new Serge, hoping his almonds would be rich and exotic and not go all Crabtree & Evelyn on me.

    • Lee says:

      Thank you…

      Scentnui strikes another victim? We all experience it once in a while, horrible thing that it is. Mine has passed and frenzy has returned…

      Keep spraying those cats.

      (Oh, and I found Louve to be a little bit handcreamy – sorry…)

  • Robin says:

    I want to smell those new PdEs too! And completely agree that perfume people are the nicest, most generous ever.

  • tmp00 says:


    You are a cutie, but I don’t see you as a lumberjack. Oh, and don’t feel bad about the shlep, it was made in an air-conditioned Honda and only about a mile in either direction. Of course if it will result in more trades you are free to imagine something akin to Peter O’Toole lost in the desert or Lillian Gish on the ice floe in “Way Down East”. Sorry you didn’t get the monks..

    Chaya, can I get a spanking too?

  • lissakv says:

    Oh Lee you are a hottie!! and the sexy Brit accent to boot…*fanning self wildly* my kind of man. well except for hubby of course!
    I have noticed my perfume people are sooo generous, even with thier gollum scents (“my precious….”) I’ve been giving away some of my favorites left and right to various people so I know they can get the love I have for them too.

    BTW PATTY and ALL the perfumed court is wonderful!

  • March says:

    Well, I already knew how hot you were. And I’m giggling at all your test runs on Matt, with him in bed, and then his eventually getting up and going to the gym … dude, what happened to “someone’s chopping wood?” Spray something on him and pounce.

    You’ve pretty much killed off my Olibanum lemming.

    • Lee says:

      I was deliberately avoiding double entendres and here you come to lower the tone. What the hell are you reading these days?;)

  • Christine says:

    Oh, forgot…I recently purchased (unsniffed) the Kenzo Jungle L’elephant (and I found it on the cheap) after March’s review because I’m a sucker for the cardamom and clove combo. I think that the licorice and sweetness are too overwhelming for me, but I’ll have to wait until it’s really cold outside to re-test.

    • March says:

      Oh, I’m sorry! I always like to think these things work out well… please give it plenty of time, it was (I think) an hour before JE became something I was happy to be wearing, it is very sweet at the outset. Licorice is not a note I love in fragrance, but thankfully I tend to kill it off unless it’s really dominant.

      If you eventually decide you think it’s wretched, Contact Me if you want and I’ll buy it. I ate my sample and never got around to buying a bottle, I might as well help you out if you end up hating it.

      • Christine says:

        No apologies! I don’t hate it, it just takes a long time for me to come around to it. The parts I liked were wonderful, but those first twenty minutes made me a bit nauseated. But then again it was tested on an empty stomach, in weather much warmer than this (what the hell kind of August is this,) and on the verge of a nervous breakdown – nausea inducing on its own.

        I imagine I’ll come to love it, but honestly, if I manage to figure out how to split it and get it into another smaller bottle for myself, I’ll send you the current bottle (with the box! I am a packrat!), because I’ll probably never use it all.

  • Christine says:

    Lee, you’re so cute! I just want to pinch your dimpled cheek!

  • Patty says:

    What a gorgeous man you are, just as I imagined you to be, which is so cool!!

    Muschio — hay?!?!?!sd Do I need this? And is it the plain or the Muschio ORO? I’m hopeless, I swear.

    • Lee says:

      It’s the plain Muschio. I think you’d love it – a vegetable musk and very earthy / dirty / hay. You want my sample to test first? It can hitch a lift on the Serges whenever they arrive…

  • Marina says:

    Lee, you are as handsome as I imagined you to be! (is that the dark-blue CD suit?!)
    And I agree, there no people more incredibly generous than perfume-people, seriously. 😡

    • Lee says:

      No, it’s a tatty old suit that’s falling apart. Another second hand job and like a pair of comfy slippers. The CD one is a little more elegant.

      Perfume people – love em.

  • chayaruchama says:

    P U !
    My whole post was devoured…
    Try again.

    I love the generosity of my fellow perfumites- both emotionally, and literally.
    Amazing folks !

    You, on the other hand-
    You traitor !
    Outing your beloved in such a fashion.
    You’re getting a right smart bottom smacking, you are.
    JUST wait.

    Love that Judith- she’s brilliant, and voluptuous, too.
    Lots of brains.

    I’d like to meet Louise !
    [I promise- i won’t squeal on you !]

  • Judith says:

    Oh, Lee, you are cuuuuuuute! (Not that I ever doubted it):) Glad you enjoyed the femmey Berbers (I do, too):), and hope those Montales weren’t too scary! 🙂

    New scents–well, I really enjoyed the incensy Biehl Marc Buxton 03 that Patty raved about; at first, I thought “nice, but not unusual” but since I finished my sample before you could blink, I may have to follow this one up soon. . .I also really liked the Bruno Acampora Musc; I wasn’t expecting to, because I’m not usually a fan of lighter, non-animalic muscs, which this was on me, but it certainly got under my skin (as well as on top of it). If it weren’t so pricey, it would definitely be a “go” for me (since I’m supposed to be on a No-Buy, it’s probably just as well that it’s not). I’m supposed to be getting a decant of Olibanum tomorrow. I kinda hope I get the kinky monks, though I will make do with lumberjacks if they show up. :d

    • Lee says:

      Kinky monks can be a bit of a handful I hear – not that I know from experience, honest…

      The Montales are POWERFUL but I’m starting to understand them… More later.

  • Divalano says:

    Oh my no, no plaid, no never. Not my kink, never ever. [-( I’ll have to be on guard against dread plaid notes if I try Olibanum. But Cuir Ottoman … swoon. CO starts leathery, ends amber & smoke on me. Very sexy & “me” enough to be right almost every day.

    Funny you mention Saffran Troublant. I put that on before bed last night. Sometimes putting on a bit of something at night is sort of like having a nice slice of dessert without the calories; plus, it doesn’t keep you up. Still not sure what I think of it. Too much rose, maybe. Today I’m sampling Cuir Mauresque. Much sweeter on me than CO, and maybe a bit to spicy. Jury’s still out. Tues I tried Bois D’Argent. Much more bitter birchy tar than CO, maybe CO’s darker cousin. Delicious though, & I might need it, yes I may.

    • Lee says:

      I love CO – I wore it today and I’m left with that beautiful amber drydown. Such a great smell. I also love Bois d’Argent, which is one of my no-brainer numbers (wear it when you don’t want to think about what to wear). I’m nearly through my large bottle… Cuir Mauresque – I like the smell of Uhu in the first five minutes most of all!

  • Mimmimmim says:

    Even tired you’re a cutie!

    I’ve just got samples of Jean Patou’s Ma Collection scents from The Perfumed Court. Both my best buy and worst buy in ages, because now I want lots of things I probably couldn’t afford even if I could find them! Divine Folie was lovely but possibly too refined for me, but Colony’s a winner. I always find the ones that I like but find a little challenging (Mitsouko, French Can Can) are the ones I like best, and Colony hides everything under the pineapple. It’s pineapple and… rose! Pineapple and… oakmoss! It’s a real tease on the nose.

  • Helen T says:

    Darn firewall, going to have to wait till get home to see what all the excitement is about :((

    I am not so sure about what I can’t wait to smell, but I can give you a long list of what I’m not at all fussed about ever smelling: Jordan/Colleen/Shilpa et al! I mean, even if I liked them, and I’m fairly sure I’m not going to, would you ever admit to wearing them, unless you were having a totally ironic moment. Like going to fancy dress and topping off your outfit with the appropriate fragrance? But even then…!

    To be fair, I am in two minds about the latest SJP, but at least it’s interesting. And I’m told that the Kate Moss is not bad, in a light, floraly daywear type of way. Who knows, I reckon they are all still the sort of thing to make Nawt despair.

    Talking of which, where is Nawt, when is he coming back out to play? I need a good Friday laugh again, please? Pretty please :d

  • sariah says:

    There’s a perfume named after fish that’s not a demeter? Sounds well liked from your review and comments, but the name Sushi Imperial sounds nasty.

    By the way, anyone tried “Lobster” from demeter? I haven’t but might order a sample. It’s one of those things I can see sniffing once, saying “it really smells like lobster”, then sitting in my drawer forever.

    • Lee says:

      But it’s nothing like a fishy smell – perhaps it’s a rice refence? There is something a little rice puddingy about the scent, but don’t let that put you off…

      The idea of Lobster makes me feel a little queasy…

  • chayaruchama says:


  • chayaruchama says:

    DAMN !
    The picture isn’t visible…
    What am I missing here ?
    Whoops. B moved to Firefox !

  • Louise says:

    You’re in trouble now, man-sharing that adorable punim with the world. Achh, the idea or you in plaid…too hot!

    I have in fact been craving the new Pd’Es-especially after getting a FB of Ambre Russe in my LuckyScent discount frenzy. That one, I have a hard time not guzzling.

    Yes, y’all are incredibly generous-not just with the samps and decants, but with your time and open-heartedness and laughter. I am very grateful for the new contacts and true friends I have made through sharing this love-hobby with this board and other perfume outlets (sic).

    Sorry to have chased Matt away with the Sushi! But, I know he’ll be back soon, to patiently inflict his anosmia on you again.

    BTW, I have a little figgy for you-need a mailing address, doll.

    • Maria says:

      Oh, yes, that Ambre Russe–delicious!

    • Louise says:

      Oh Lee, honey, just a thought-if you were hoping for “orgiastic reveries” with your hunk (aka a little action), perhaps the “waiting patiently” part after dabbing might have been working against you… just a possibility?

    • Lee says:

      Well, I owe you a reply to your email, but Matt keeps dragging me out on daytrips, even though it’s currently like November here or something…

  • Tina says:

    Lee, you’re just – wow :x. really cute.
    as for the Bengal Fougere, I’m dying to try it too (and that comes from a self-confessed perfumista who has never tried a single Parfum d’Empire in her life :”> ). when I read about the three new releases about a month ago and saw those beautiful pics of the bottles, I was sold immediately :”>.

    • Lee says:

      I feel the same about the bottles. And you should try all of the P d’E scents – I only love CO but others, particularly the amber, have many many fans.

  • Maria says:

    My goodness, Lee, you’re so handsome and charming you should be on the telly. I can’t understand your desire to hide yourself from us unless you feared a stampede. @};-

    I like Cuir Ottoman. Mmm. And Sushi Imperiale is yummy. I decided I liked it in spite of its over-the-top booziness. I enjoy the cinnamon.

    What have I tried that’s interesting? Well, there are these frankincense fragrances Andy Tauer has been working on… There might be more on those elsewhere tomorrow and Friday. :-“

    • Lee says:

      Oh, I heard about the trials on Andy’s blog. Excited to read your thoughts… I’ve tried the first mod (I think) myself…

  • Prince Barry says:

    Now we know who the Monty Python team based the Lumberjack Song on.

    Excellent piece of reading Lee for first thing in the morning as I am wiping sleep from my blurry eyes.

    It’s funny, I use Si as a testing point for various frags, he’s very good at coming up with linking scents with colours and gets very descriptive with them. I wouldn’t mind, but I am the perfume lover in our house and he does better than me.

  • Tigs says:

    Nice to see you without a floppy hat, plaid shirt and suspenders – not that I’m against your cartoon representation, but I suspect from this picture that you are in (gasp!) real life a top-notch dresser. You look mahvelous darling – and luckily *not* twinkly. I can’t bear getting in trouble again.

    • Lee says:

      I vary from top-notch to total slob, but I’m probably most comfortable in my gardening clobber. Mind you, I do like a nice suit, shirt and tie…