First, it’s official: the ChiCocoa Scentsation will be Saturday, SEPTEMBER 13 — that’s the date most people can come. Mark your calendars! Okay, on to today’s post —
For someone who does a lot of yapping about my alleged restraint in buying bottles (as opposed to hoarding samples) I´ve had to start rotating my fragrances seasonally in order to find anything. Of course there are things I wear year round, but a certain amount of my scent is pretty much summer/winter only, so it moves in and out of my closet with the bathing suits and wool sweaters.
Fragrance rotation also forces me to dust everything, which is necessary, even if it isn´t fun. Every time I do this, though, I run across fragrances I never wear. I bought them. I liked them enough that I didn´t immediately move them to the swap pile. So why don´t they wind up on my skin? Part of the reason might be I can´t remember what they smell like.
I grabbed three forgotten scents randomly to try and unravel the mystery, with some history …
Fendi Asja. I bought this unsniffed because the price was right and I like Fendi Theorema so much. Notes (which give you a sense of its kitchen-sink Oriental complexity): bergamot, peach, apricot, raspberry, Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, cinnamon, mimosa, lily of the valley, honey, carnation, orchid, vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, musk, benzoin, balsamic styrax and amber. It´s a sweet, spicy fragrance with a vanilla-woods drydown. Somewhere out there is a review by someone (who? I know you know) that compares a particular fragrance to the smell of warm radiators – that scentless scent of dusty, baked house air. I grew up with radiators and I love that smell. Anyway, they weren´t talking about Asja but they could be – to me it smells something like Cinnabar parfum with a heavy dose of hot radiator accord. It is gorgeous – sensual, but more the warm embrace of Tocade than the leg-humping lasciviousness of Opium. While I love Asja in theory, and find it strangely comforting, it just never seems to be something I reach for. Analyzing this, I want it to be a comfort scent – a blue jeans thing I wear to the grocery store – but the rest of the fragrance is as grown up as a ball gown. The bluejeans/ball gown tension means I never quite feel like it´s the right occasion for Asja. Great bottle. ADDENDUM: wore it over two miserably wet, cold days recently, trying to figure out why I never wear it. It is the PERFECT wear-around-the-house crappy weather comfort scent.
Alexander McQueen Kingdom EDT: Notes of bergamot, neroli, jasmine, ginger, cumin, patchouli, copahu wood, vanilla, myrrh, sandalwood. I smelled the EDP and the EDT on my UK trip and, fab as the famed EDP is, there are limits to how many startling cumin scents I need. The EDT is an entirely different proposition. While the notes I find listed online are the same, the scent is essentially a musky floral summer-weight scent, not a cumin bomb. So why haven´t I been wearing it? Well… that heart-shaped bottle (instead of the wedge-of-alien-fruit EDP flacon) lays flat, it´s big, and it wobbles around on its side. At some point I got nervous/irritated by its sneaky moves and stuck it in a drawer, at which point it ceased to exist. Smelling it again, my first thought was I made a mistake – I went for the safe choice and lost. Having said that, it does not fall into any of the summer stereotypes – it is not a citrusy thing, or fresh, or a fruity-floral. The cumin emerges in the drydown, but even then it is very subdued. It´s a strange scent, a dry floral with some of the salty muskiness of Eau de Merveilles. I have put it on my shelf in plain sight, and look forward to trying it in the summer heat – assuming the summer heat ever gets here – to see if it grows on me.
Paul & Joe Bleu. I swapped away the P&J White eons ago, unable to deal with the hawthorn, but I kept this – it´s an oriental, notes are bergamot, coriander, caraway, cardamom, cumin, ylang-ylang, jasmine, rose, magnolia, heliotrope, sandalwood, oud, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, and musk, created by Pierre Bourdon in 2003. I googled it and can´t find anything, it seems to have fallen off the face of the earth – it´s not even on eBay, and I think they had them by the dozens back in the day at Anthropologie, where I bought it – and cheap, too. And too bad it´s gone, because really, it´s a nice fragrance. Somewhere between the vanillic haze of Shalimar Lite and a honking dose of patchouli to unsweeten things, Bleu does an interesting fifteen-minute lateral shift from feminine powdery florals to masculine woody tobacco, and I would love to smell this on a man. The spices are much more muted than you´d suspect from the list, contributing to the overall richness of the scent rather than calling attention to themselves on an individual basis.
Why don´t I wear this? On me, this registers as Serious Perfume. For those occasions I reach for either Mitsouko or Jicky. But it doesn´t smell like either of those, and it’s not so pervasive. On the other hand, it’s not so long lasting, either, and it gets a bit thin. I’ll try to work it into the rotation.
Anything on your shelf that you like in theory but it´s been languishing for so long you can´t quite remember what it smells like? And how come you aren´t wearing it?