Labor Day Roundup

This is going to be a brief post, because we´re heading into Labor Day Weekend, and yesterday I got my XXL September Vogue in the mail (squeeeee!!!) and I´ll be busy propping that up in my lap for perusal for the next few days. I read online that it weighs 4 lbs. 5 ozs. without the advertising supplement. Between that and the endless odd-smelling envelopes, my postman probably wishes I would move somewhere else. Anyway, here are some random thoughts:

1) I have some fragrance samples that are a year or two old that appear to have turned. I´m talking specifically about the ones in the plastic atomizers. And I don´t mean the top notes have gone off; I´m not a chemist, but it seems to me like the plastic is literally dissolving, and they smell terrible. A bunch of extra airspace in the atomizer probably isn´t doing the scent any favors either. If you have a plastic atomizer of some rare, much-loved juice you´d like to hang onto so you can take it out and sniff it every now and again, I´d seriously consider moving it into the smallest airtight glass container it can fit into.

2) If I ever win the lottery I´m going to track down Victoire Gobin-Daude and throw money at her until she reopens her shop, brings back her original line and creates some new ones. You can thank me later. My 1ml vials of Nuit au Desert and Sous le Buis are almost gone, and I am pretty torn up about that.

3) If you´ve tried a specific fragrance, particularly one that you really thought would work on you, and it was all wrong, please try again. And by “try again,” I mean: get some from a completely different source and try again. Let´s face it: stuff happens. Bottles go bad sitting on counters under the light and heat. Samples get mixed up and contaminated. Patty and I have both had instances (we shared a nasty vial of Iris Silver Mist once, and thank God she eventually got another one) where it was clear that there´d been some problem with the first go-round. I´m not talking about your nose coming around to something eventually; that happens too, of course. But I´ve done enough re-sampling at this point to feel pretty confident that sometimes you get a bum steer. No fault, no blame. But please don´t write a fragrance off forever based on a sample of one.

4) For those of you suckered into buying Kenzo Jungle Elephant based on my review, and/or other folks who are still trying to figure out how to “ride the Elephant” through the first intensely sweet hour to the mother lode of spicy goodness – I discovered through happy accident that it layers beautifully with the original Comme des Garcons parfum (which I think is actually an EDP? with notes of Cardamom, Coriander, Geranium, Nutmeg, Cinnamon Bark, Clove, Labdanum, Styrax, Cedarwood, Cut Hay, Olibanum, Black Pepper, Sandalwood, Rose, Honey). The CdG spices smother the gooey candied opening of the Elephant. For any of you who haven’t tried that CdG (created in 1994 by Marc Buxton)… well, what the heck are you waiting for?! Look at those notes!!!!!! If they hold any appeal at all, you owe yourself a sniff. I’m really looking forward to wearing it this fall.

Well, that´s all my little pearls of perfume wisdom for the moment. Feel free to share your own pearls in the comments below. Otherwise, have a great Labor Day weekend. Don´t forget your sunscreen! Drink plenty of hydrating, ice-cold alcoholic beverages from a can! See you in September!


  • Wendy says:

    Thank you so much for tip #3 (and the fantastic blog). I have a couple of samples that sound like they should smell fantastic and wind up being scrubbers on me. The example that comes to mind is Un Crime Exotique. I happen to like foodie scents and some of the notes sounded like something I should LOVE (ginger, cinnamon, sandalwood). Started off ok – but quickly turned into the stench of infected pus :-&

    I’m a perfume noob – is it worth trying again with a different sample from a different source?

  • Louise says:

    Egads! I must go run to my samp and decant drawers and check who’s stuck in plastic! Makes good sense, though, given the warnings of dread easily-released pthalates and such in softer plastic. Also vowed-to not buy more bottled water, but to get a good hard plastic drinking bottle and fill up with tap water.

    I just couldn’t go with either Kenzo beast this year-but will retry again, upon your sage advice.

    • March says:

      Have you been reading that plastic stuff? Mother Jones had an interesting article. I wouldn’t do any microwaving in plastic either. Some of the scientists don’t even put warm food in plastic serving pieces (the heat speeds the process.)

    • March says:

      I can’t see you in the beast, I can’t.

      Hey, how was the trip?

  • Divalano says:

    OMG that Sept Vogue. I took the train to an event last weekend & thought to pick it up to kill the hour ride. Mind you, I was dragging large suitcase, carry on tote & laptop case thru Penn Sta in rush hour. So I grab the Vogue & a water bottle & omg, I thought it would kill what was left of my shoulders. Yeah, BIGGEST ISSUE EVER it said, thanks a LOT, I said, lol! I left it in the hotel, couldn’t bear the idea of carrying it up my 6 floor walkup w luggage …

    Plastic vials. Yes, thanks for heads up. The only plastic I have is SL Cedre. Making note to use that before my glass one. And I do have all my samples in the fridge. In little tupperware-ish boxes, separated vaguely according to “family”: woods/dirt, leather/smoke/musk, fruits, flowers, spices, vanillas. Yes, I am insane, lol. Oh, and a bigger basket of course for bottles. Friends are suspecting me of a serious latent appearing perfume fetish.

    • March says:

      I need to go look for the W, I hear it’s even bigger! It ought to come with a forklift. Or an extra pair of hands.

  • violetnoir says:

    You have a great Labor Day weekend too, darling!

    Enjoy that Vogue issue! I won’t be reading it, since I cancelled my subscription. Every few years, I subscribe to Vogue, get fed up with its insipid articles, and cancel it. Then I miss it and subscribe all over again! I guess I have a very complicated relationship with that magazine, lol!

    Hugs and love!

    • March says:

      I do the same thing. I cancel them each periodically in a snit. Then at some pt I realize I’m buying them at the store for 4x the subscription price and I go back to subscribing. Right now Vogue’s on the way back in; Bazaar and Marie Claire are out…

  • Lee says:

    I am officially over with plastic now that glut of 2ml vials is finished with. Apologies to all those who’ve had samples from me that may well go wonky. I’ve had a couple wonky here myself.:”>

  • Patty says:

    Okay, how sad is it that I haven’t sniffed either?

    Five-paragraph rule, I need to consult with the children. Back when I learned this stuff, it was give me X pages single or double spaces, at a minimum, and make sure you cover your topic, and no plagiarizing. How we sorted that out and organized it was our grade.

    Must there be a formular for everything? Perfume, essays. What next?

    Agree on the plastic, I quite uising those for anything a long time ago, unless it was just to send a quick little thing for someone to try.

    hey, Fig tea IS great. I finally found the little squidge you sent me.

    • March says:

      That is sad, P. I’m not sure I can picture wearing Elephant, but what do I know? The other’s by your new BFF Marc Buxton, has he replaced JCE as your homeslice?/:)

  • Robin says:

    Funny thing about Gobin Daude — when the line was on the market, I thought they were great but too expensive. I actually never bought a bottle until they were marked way down at Takashimaya. Since then, there’s been so much price creep that I doubt I’d feel the same — $140 just doesn’t seem like so much now. Just sprayed on some Seve Exquise, and it is a whole lot nicer than many things that cost more.

    • March says:

      Yeah, remember back when $140 meant something?:d I used to think anything over $100ish was stupid money. Those days are gone, clearly. I guess $200 is the new $100?

  • donanicola says:

    Have a lovely Labour Day Weekend! That CDG sounds fabby – will certainly sniff it out with those notes (though how prominent are the geranium and honey notes? I’m not wild about either though am learning to ignore them if well blended if that makes sense). Hm, I think I remember we were taught (in English and History) essays to take one para to introduce essay and show you’ve understood the question, and one at the end to sum up and conclude and so forth and then 3 in the middle answering the question!! OK this was the UK 3 decades ago and I am not saying that its the right approach!

    • March says:

      The geranium and honey are pretty much smothered in all those festive spices, is my impression. OTOH they don’t alarm me, so my warning bell wouldn’t have gone off. I get mostly the spice notes with a woody drydown.

  • Christine says:

    I’ve come around the big bad elephant. I still wish the licorice were a bit less pronounced on me in the first 20 minutes or so though, so maybe I’ll have to dig up CdG and attempt it layered.

    My sister’s boyfriend apparently loves the banana candy scent of Vanille Banane (Comptoir Sud Pacifique) and I bought her a bottle on the cheap…man, now that was an interesting layerer with the elephant. I was inspired by the idea of Kenzo’s King Kong that I hadn’t sniffed. Whoa, ho there. Freakishly, it seemed (thank God) less sweet as a whole than as separate parts and rather than banana candy it was an odd plasticky note with an oomph of creamy over the Kenzo. Weird, but won’t be attempting again, especially as the bottle is now in the hands of my sister.

    • March says:

      I am sooooooo glad I don’t really get the licorice elephant. And you are a fine, fine perfumista, but I’m refusing to contemplate smelling VanBan on top of it. We all have our limits. I’ll smell like somebody’s unwashed undies, sure, but banana candy? No way.[-(;)

  • Carol says:

    Wait – I need to understand this atomizer problem! Probably very dense, but getting scared here…. do you mean when the container itself is plastic, not glass, or there is also a problem when just the sprayer mechanism/cap is plastic?

    • March says:

      Carol, the ones I’ve had problems with are the smallish plastic atomizers where the whole deal is plastic. However, I’ve also had two implosions involving the plastic atomizer top/glass bottom combination. I’m moving the things I treasure to the screw-top glass bottles. It seems to me that all viable solutions involve plastic in the cap, but I haven’t had any problems with my plastic-capped glass vials (other than occasional leakage). I’m hoping it’s something specifically about the atomizer that’s part of the problem.:)>-

  • Judith says:

    Ha! I’ve already read my Vogue (it was a struggle to hold it up in bed, but I did it)! I feel so–depleted. Sigh.

    I use plastic atomizers for little 3 ml. samples. They are fine for that (short term), but nothing more. Don’t know why people buy them.

    • March says:

      I had this whole setup where it was propped up on a pillow so I could reach my wineglass. I might need one of those bedside nursing tables for W, though, due to the height. Or a houseboy to hold it up for me and turn the pages when I say so./:)

      I didn’t think about the juice until it started to go. I keep samples more than buy bottles, so I need to be more careful.

  • sariah says:

    I got that “Extra Extra Large” Vogue on the newstand on the weekend. Absolutely love the editorial spread “Paris je t’aime” – they look like old time silent movie stars. But what is up with Sienna’s make-up????? Those brows are scary.

    Thanks for the PSA, will have to move some decants from plastic to glass. Have a great weekend.

    • March says:

      Those clothes?!!?!? Swooooooooon!!! Are they not totally, seriously gorgeous?!?! I would cheerfully wear almost everything in that spread, no matter how ridiculous. I love that kind of detail and texture, in addition to the shape. Give me the 20s over the 80s any day.

      Sienna just looks silly (although the red Valentino dress is absolutely stunning.) I wish they’d picked someone with more elan. It was interesting — in the article they said basically, well, here we have Sienna with her naturally grunge charm, how do we make her more elegant to go with the plumage? And my instant reaction was, well, why didn’t you pick a more elegant model to start with, you fools? Not that she’s not pretty; she is. But where’s Linda Evangelista when you need her? Sigh. Linda could work the hell out of those clothes.

      They fugged her, the brows and the cockatoo hair on gofugyourself.

  • Marina says:

    Vogue is thick, for sure, but, March, have you seen W?! Not only is it an inch thick it is the size of a medium coffee-table 🙂 I can’t wait for the weekend to able to look at all the ads 🙂

    • March says:

      I got mad at them for … something, I can’t remember. Also for awhile they were doing these extremely high-fashion shoots (you know what they’re like generally) in which you could see — seriously, literally — NOTHING about the clothes. They were shooting in an atmospheric dark closet, or at a rave, or whatever, with no additional lighting. I got tired of staring at dark blurry pages, fuming. But I think I’ll toddle over to B&N and check it out, maybe it’s time to get another subscription now that I’ve dropped Bazaar. Although if the mailman has to bring me W and Vogue together, will the strain injure him?:-?

  • Maria says:

    In the past 48 hours I have read, evaluated, and responded to 42 essays written by first-year students on their first day of college in response to a prompt they had never seen before–under a one-hour time limit. I had only three hours of sleep last night so I could finish my task. My husband was late to pick me up from my 8:00-10:00 p.m. (yes, that’s p.m.) class. When he arrived, he was being followed by a black and white car with a snazzy red and blue light revolving on top. The very nice policeman took my husband’s information down but let him off with a warning about never again driving around a barrier and up a one-way street. (Our campus is under constant crazy construction.) I teach another section. Its first meeting is this Friday from 12:00-4:00 p.m. What are the chances students will come to class on the Friday afternoon before a long weekend. Those that do show up will produce more essays for me to read.

    You want pearls of wisdom???? I’ll give you pearls of wisdom: The five-paragraph-essay rule is HOKUM!!!!! Bullfeces! If you need eight paragraphs to cover your material, write eight bloody paragraphs. Your high school teachers lied to you!!!

    There. I feel better. Here’s some perfume-related information: Two nice fragrances to teach in are PdN Fig-Tea and Fendi Theorema Esprit d’Ete. The latter is a weaker, less complex version of the great Theorema, but it works well when one is standing in hot rooms in front of students who’ve been indoctrinated with the five-paragraph rule.

    Have a happy Labor Day weekend, all of you have have a holiday coming. You know what I’ll be doing.

    • Judith says:

      Thanks so much, Maria, for your PSA on the 5-paragraph thing. I teach college, too, and I never heard of this until maybe 10 years ago. Where did it come from? Why do teachers tell them this? If there are some high school teachers here, help us out.. . I guess you want to give them some controls, limits; is that it? But it’s really crazy, you know. :(( End of rant. So sorry.

      • March says:

        Judith, what do you teach? I didn’t know. I’m guessing English? Actually.;) But I could be wrong; I often am…

        • Judith says:

          Yes, you are SO smart: I teach English literature–esp. Early Modern (16th, 17th c.):) And you–English, too?

          • Judith says:

            I’m an idiot. I thought this was going to Maria. :d:d

          • Judith says:

            But you are smart, too, March. I will stop now. 8-|

          • March, Actually says:

            Meh heh heh. One of those moments where you wish you had the comment edit feature… you’re smart too.:-b When I contemplate your fragrant genius I’m filled with aporia.:)) Or an apiary. I forget. Maybe that’s bees?

          • Maria says:

            Hi, Judith, those Mar names can be confusing. I’ve been hired to teach in a remedial writing program, which is not run out of an English dept. I have an M.F.A. in creative writing though.

            Why do they teach the five-paragraph essay? I don’t know. Because someone came up with the formula, as you say, maybe ten years ago, and the idea caught fire because it made essays into a form teachable according to formula? I had a colleague who had taught in high school and he thought the five-paragraph format was the way to go, along with the inverted triangle paragraph. :((

          • Louise says:

            I’m a high school speech pathologist and work mostly in English classes with kids with learning and language disabilities. For them, 5 paragraphs is hellishly long (another story). The teachers tell me that there was an informal convention on the 5-paragraph rule for short essays that was legally formalized by No Child Left Behind Law-in 2002. Now we have the dreaded 5-paragraph Brief Constructed Response (BCR)format (Not to mention the wretched Extended Constructed Response ECR). This format is integrated into state interpretations of federal testing mandates, and I suspect your poor students (not to mention the teachers) have been subjected to BCR regs.

          • Lee says:

            My word – and I thought education was crazy over here…:-?

          • March says:

            Oh, so THAT’S what a BCR is!!! They have to do those stupid things all the time. I thought it stood for … well, I don’t know. Boring Creative (w)Riting? I suppose I should be paying more attention to their assignments.:-\

          • Louise says:

            Banal cretaceous ritual.

          • tmp00 says:

            I don’t think I could condense myself to five paragraphs for a grocery list much lass an essay..

          • Divalano says:

            I’m with you. I tend to run off at the pen at the drop of a hat. I know less is more but I’m not good at it.

          • Maria says:

            Louise, people who work with learning disabled students and know what they’re doing have my profound respect. At a previous college I worked with some LD students because the writing center was the college’s idea of accommodation even though none of us had the proper training. It’s difficult work.

            It’s crazy that the structure of essays has been made statutory!! What a dingbat notion.

          • Louise says:

            Dingbat administration 🙁

      • Catherine says:

        It’s been more than 10 years! Back in 1987, I was being taught the formula in my sophmore high-school class–“advanced program” even. When I started teaching college intro writing in 1996, the first thing I had to stop was the 5-paragraph papers. The best thing about it is making students aware of the “thesis statement”–but that’s about it. I’m horrified that this has become part of the national education program. Although . . . the number of college seniors I’ve taught who don’t know what a thesis statement is. . . well, that’s been more horrifying. And my sensation within two academic fields in universities is that less and less effort is being made by professors to teach and address writing. In my last job (art history), my fellow professors were pressing me to drop the research paper assignment, because it would lead to more expectations for them (they’d never assigned one). Good luck to you, Maria.@};-

    • March says:

      Maria — um, I’ve been out of the hallowed halls of academia for quite some time. What on earth is the five-paragraph rule? Aren’t they supposed to just keep writing until they’ve said what needs to be said? That’s what we did. Of course, we were still dressing ourselves in uncured skins and writing with sharpened implements rather than a keyboard, but I’m sure you’ve read about those days.

      Also, I hate the local constabulary. They are constantly giving my elderly neighbor tickets for “parking less than 15 feet from a stop sign” — a sign which is directly in front of his house, mid-block. So if he wants to park anywhere near his front walk, he gets a ticket.

      Also, I have never tried the Theorema Light and bet you are phenomenal in it. Also betting you’re phenomenal without it.
      @};-<:-p^:)^ I hope your weekend gets better! (And no, nobody's coming to class this afternoon -- can you prop a lifesize dummy in there?)

  • Prince Barry says:

    It’s funny that you should mention Victoire. I sent an email to Christophe a couple of weeks ago asking how they were both keeping. So far he hasn’t replied, so I’m fuessing that they might be on holiday. I will keep you posted when he replies.

    • March says:

      Yeah, they’re probably on holiday; I think the French are particularly strict adherents to the August vacay. So, you know her? Wow. I thought she was semi-mythical, like … the Lone Ranger or something. Her fragrances were stunning. Any insights into the future of perfumery for her?

      • Prince Barry says:

        Yes, I know both her and Christophe. We haven’t been in touch for ages and I just felt the need to ‘touch base’ so to speak. The last time we spoke, there was just nothing on the horizon at all. I’m just hoping that when Christophe does reply, it is good news.

  • luv_bug says:

    I guess the whole plastic-thing makes sense. If I leave a bottle of water in my car for too long after opening it, it takes on the distinct flavor of plastic. Why wouldn’t it be the same with perfume?

    • March says:

      It does make sense — and even more so with fragrance, I’m assuming alcohol and some of the chemicals don’t have an easy relationship with plastic. They all have the same nasty smell, too — almost like rotten eggs — which adds to the suspicion something chemical is happening with the plastic. I’ve lost some great things before I realized it.:((

      • parisa says:

        Just wanted to add that plastics are polymers that react with UV light, hence breaking down and leaching. Having studied chemistry and completed dozens of lab experiments, we never stored any chemicals in plastic containers knowing that a side reaction might occur inside. Since fragrances contain oils and subsequent chemicals (natural or not), they too are prone to reacting with the plastic lining of any container that they are put in. Best thing, always store perfume in glass bottles away from direct sunlight. Hating to see wonderful fragrances wither away in plastic vials, I always request me decants to be in glass atomizers:)

        • March says:

          Parisa, thanks. I know they break down — have you been reading all the stuff about plastics lately?

  • Gaia says:

    I’m very much into layering these days. I’ll have to try the CdG, because I have the elephant, and though I like it a lot, it’s not the easiest scent to wear. I’m also looking for something to layer with the tiger, which I find to be even more difficult for me.
    My own accidental discoveries were things L’Artisan Figuier (extreme) can do: It softens the top notes of Eau Trois (March, I will love you forever for introducing me to this one), and it tames Bandit into submission and takes away the bad funk.

    Also: Heeley Cardinal, which bores me to tears on its own, is great for layering. I’ll just have to remember with what…

    • March says:

      Riding the tiger is probably more difficult than the elephant:d And I’ve never even tried the tiger, but saying that was fun. Don’t you think it would make an elegantly vague fortune cookie insert?

      Hey, I’ll love you forever for loving the Trois! And the top note gets on my nerves too, sometimes (that bitter, crushed herb part?) so I will try your suggestion.

      Heeley Cardinal would make an excellent layering fragrance, I agree. It would add another facet to lots of florals, leathers, musks… Cardinal was one of those fragrances I appreciated the more I wore it. Sometimes I want something a little boring, you know? It’s as easy as an old sweater.

  • tmp00 says:

    well, I’ve blathered on far and wide about my perfume preferences, let me just say that I find that decanting small amounts of bottles kept in a dark cool place (I keep mine in teh bottom shelf of a linen closet on an interior wall) keeps fragrances forever.

    As for sunscreen, I’ve grown nuts over Anthelios by La Roche Posay: a friend turned me onnto it. I had a five hour tramp through every art gallery in Culver City including driving to and from in our friend’s convertible, top down on the freeway and I wasn’t even pink. Doesn’t rub off, doesn’t sweat off and doesn’t even wash off: You need makeup remover or an oil like Erno Laszlo active pHelityl oit to remove it.

    BTW- apparently old Erno might be on the verge of getting kicked out of Saks and Neimand, as someone who has recently rediscovered the line (and it’s peeled years off) I urge you to march into you local store and demand it.

    • March says:

      That Anthelios is incredible stuff. I have trouble finding really good sunscreen that doesn’t make my face sting, and Anthelios is perfect for that. Unlike you, I’m old enough to get age spots (although I’m still calling them freckles, of course.)

      I hope you have a weekend spin in a convertible. I have never tried Erno, can you believe? Will go check it out.

      • Judith says:

        I don’t know. I loved Erno when I was younger (like Tom):), lived in California, and had occasional pimple. But when I got older, moved to Boston, and had more than occasional wrinkles I found it too drying, esp. in the winter (and I couldn’t change my o’clock effectively b/c the oil made me break out). But this was all ages ago, and they’ve probably updated. . .

        • March says:

          You know what I use on my face and hair? Olive oil. This is how dry I am; my hair and skin soak it up like a sponge. I do smell odd for a minute or two…