Construction, by Musette

container loader_1

Today our fabulous Guest Poster Anita/Musette talks about her cool construction job, and her other construction work — layering perfumes!

A piece of angle iron.  Simple.

A 30´ container loader.  Complex.

But it starts with a piece of angle iron.  And a genius partner.  And some serious cojones if one is to translate that genius and angle iron into a 30´ container loader in 2 weeks.  We did it.  But it took a lot out of us.  18-hr days for 16 days means at the end of it all you hate everybody – and you want to smack the daylights out of somebody just to blow off some steam.  And it´s Delivery Day.  And there´s a 40mph crosswind.  Driving rain.  And a 70´ high bridge to get across.

That is NOT the time for Mitsouko.    On good days, Mitsouko is my BFF, armoring me so I can take my poor, frail psyche out into the world to try to sell a match or two.  On days like Container Delivery Day, Mitsouko is good for an assault charge!  On those days she not only gives permission for you to be a flaming, vicious shrike, she actually ENCOURAGES it!   I´ve said that before and you know it´s true.  But she´s supposed to be my go-to gal for difficult business days.  What to do?  Construct.

A little note here:  I am not, by nature, a customizer or layerer (layer-er?  Lay-erer?  Oh, forget it!).  I´m just a gal who likes perfume and whatever I spritz, as long as it doesn´t have the heave-y musk drydown, is pretty much okay with me (not you, Catagan – sorry!).  And Mitsouko is perfect Just the Way She Is.  Except When She Isn´t.

Enter Liz Zorn, another genius.  Miss Liz constructed an Historical (a Historical?  Oh, forget it) Chypre that is absolutely gorgeous!  Lush, bloomy/plumy (what is it about chypres that reminds me of plums?) – but a tad too soft for a workday, especially when that workday is at the tail-end of two of the most stressful weeks of my life.    Alone, neither of them quite worked and Jolie Madame made my nose itch (only because I was so damn tired – don´t beat me).    Together?  ZZZZZZZZZZIIIIING!  The Zorn HC softened Mitsouko´s normally-fabulous bladey edges and Mits shaved off a bit of the pillowy plumpness of the HC that was smothering me in downy softness.

Each of those scents is perfect and I adore them as they are- just as a piece of angle iron is perfect in and of itself – but construction (and a genius partner) makes for wonderful things.  That construction was a lucky fluke and it kept me going even when, after all the construction Drama, the blasted thing was too tall to get out of the shop! I will love that duo forever.

Another is my summer construction, which I never even thought about until now – I just always toss them together – I thought I loved Malle´s Bigarade Concentree. Until I bought a FB.  Damn you, Full Bottle!  Could it be JCE slipped in a little bit of that sweat note? – not exactly the thing I want to smell in 100o heat – but layered with a bit of Fresh Lemon Sugar…..(it´s a good thing JCE is still alive or he´d be spinning in his grave)…. Now that´s some good stuff right there!

So that´s my construction story for the day.  And the loader is in the hangar.  And my 18-hour days are done for awhile.   And I´m too whipped to write anymore (we´re doing process piping this week.  Mercy!).  So it´s your turn – and I know you all do it – what are your constructions (good and bad – oooh!  Tell the BAD ones, too, okay?)

  • Robin R. says:

    Better late than never. I beef up/niche up so-so scents and modernize vintage with several Sonoma Scent Studios fragrances: Winter Woods, Ambre Noir and Tabac Aurea. One of my newest combos is Jean Patou’s Sublime with Winter Woods; takes the golden ylang/jasmine/orange glory of Sublime and just deepens it and adds a rich, husky timbre.

    A pairing I’d love to try — just thought it up as I was reading everyone else’s good ideas — would be SL Borneo 1834 and PG Aomassai. Chocolate/patch plus caramel plus caramel/hazelnut. . .I wonder what Chris and Pierre would think about THAT?? 😕

  • onelittlesleep says:

    Oh! I’m always so late for these. But I have just started layering. Actually, I’ve just started adding Magie Noire to like, EVERYTHING, because she just comes out incense on me.

    So yesterday it was Magie Noire and Marc Jacobs Amber splash, a LOT of incense and amber. And today it’s Magie Noire and Sensuous, which definitely tames some of the honeyed part of the honeyed woods and brings a beautiful, smoky incense in and out of the dry down. It’s lovely!

  • hongkongmom says:

    great post…i have not delved into layering except serges bois de vanille and a few of his other but hey!!! i need help
    i have 50ml of musc ravage (FMALLE) and its kind of nothing for me..
    any ideas in any direction to give it some “spunk” to lift it, to contrast it?:-?

    • Musette says:

      you don’t want to hear MY ideas 😕 they involve defenestration! Or, at the very least …well…never mind (me and musk, you know?)

      smarter, cooler heads than I will chime in here and set you up just fine!

      xo >-)

      • mals86 says:

        I love it when people can work a good word like “defenestration” into a conversation.

        • carter says:

          Me too! Unbridled admiration and R-e-s-p-e-c ^:)^

        • Musette says:

          yet that same person struggled for nearly 5 minutes with the word “tank’ (as in “a tank of hydrochloric acid”). 8-|

          that’s just plain ol’ embarrassin’!

          I’m prescribing (yet another word I had to struggle to come up with – I am SOOO tired)……sleeeeep and more sleeeep.


    • Shelley says:

      Wasn’t it Musc Ravageur + Perfume de Therese that was the sacrilegious combo the makeup person at Barney’s wore so well? Hmmm…

  • vidalicious says:

    oh geez…poor, frail psyche??????! ;)) =)) :-@

  • Tara C says:

    My favorite layering combo is JP Gaultier2 massage oil layered under Timbuktu – get lots of compliments on that one. And of course all the AG Orientalistes layer well together.

  • veuve amiot says:

    Today I’m layered to bits, as it happens, in Tam Dao + Sensuous + Spezie di Medici. Yah, don’t ask – just one of those days. The mental process leading up to this mishap must have run along the track of: Tam Dao, creamy sandalwood, yum! Oh wait, Sensuous does creamy too. Hmmmm… orange. I know another orange! Now WHERE is my Spezie di Medici? 😮 I guess I should be glad I didn’t encounter Eau des Merveilles first.
    Can’t wholly recommend the experience, though I’ve done worse.

    • Musette says:


      That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in awhile! Feelin’ your pain – and the notion of EdM (which I loved for about 32 seconds before the chocolate got to me – I love chocolate but not ON me) – well, bring out the ook bucket!

      xoxo >-)

  • rosarita says:

    Oh, darling >-)get some rest!

    I’m a cook, both for a living and as a hobby. There are some spices that naturally go together, pretty basic stuff. Oregano & basil give an Italian edge to tomato sauce, whereas cumin, coriander and chiles turn it into an enchilada sauce. I layer perfume pretty basically. I’m fond of musk, woods and incense. To add those *flavors* to pretty much anything, I use Kiehl’s musk, Coty Wild Woods and Etro Messe de Minuit. Most florals work well. To ground a scent that’s too lightweight to suit me, I use a spritz of Black Cashmere. I’ll often add amber oil to unscented lotion to use before any of my winter favorites, cause I like amber. Etro Sandalalo & Patchouli are good layerers, too. Sometimes something smells good at first, then starts to bug me – that’s when I’ll spritz something else on top. This can backfire, because over time I can start to smell kind of overwhelming, but since I only do this when I’m home it’s not terrible. 😮 My long suffering husband is used to all kinds stuff by now, and he claims to like just about everything. 😡

    • Musette says:

      I plan to make a Very Early Night of it tonight, thanks! We are in the midst of this shutdown drama so until midnight tonight, all bets are off – but it’s the bed we made and all that and as long as our long-term health doesn’t suffer the $-) – well, it’s a beautiful thing.

      Can’t get with you on the musk but the amber concept sounds great! I am going to try that!

      And you’re making me HUNGRY!=p~

      xoxoxo >-)

  • Lee says:

    Oh. Em. Freaking. Gee.

    I tell ya, a pole that long needs hefty cojones to deal with it, fer sure.

    /inserts Mr Whistle + :”> /

    And layering Mitsy… Federico Clappioto applauds you. =d>

    Do you like how I’m sharing my emoticon storyworld with y’all?

  • Samantha says:

    Since I’m very poor at the moment and out of my favorite Fleur de Narcisse I’ve been layering CB’s M#1 Narcissus and Hilde Soliani’s Bell’Antonio. It’s no Fleur de Narcisse but it’s as close as I can get for right now! I’m glad your long days are over for now…get some rest!!

    • Musette says:

      Wow! I wish we had a Chemistry Crown for you! Excellent concoction.


      xoxo >-)

    • Shelley says:

      Hooray!!! :d/
      Always have to give a shout out to a FdN lover…wore some just yesterday. Was wonderful on a bright, crisp with just an edge of warmth fall day.

      Hmm, M#1Narcissus layered with Bell’Antonio? Will have to ponder that. (Can’t actually DO it, as I don’t have Bell’Antonio, but I am far from complaining. Just musing.)

  • mirandajane says:

    Great article Musette! I love the thought of your Mitsouko sillage amidst steel-toed workboots & welding torches & noise. & I’ll bet all the guys enjoy the Mitsouko too….I’m not a huge layer-er–but I’ve come up with this L’Artisan combo: Premier Figuier + Sautes d’Humeur a Rien. The musty saddish grayish incensey Sautes gives the sweet sharp leafy Premier some gravitas. It smells like freshly crushed fig leaves inside a haunted house!

    • Musette says:

      Oooh! great combo! and thank you!

      When the plant was under construction I only had to go to the office, so I would go in my steel-toe stiletto sandals!=)) I used to get my heels stuck in the grating just outside the door – I looked like an idiot ;))

      Now we serve the actual plant so I’m frequently onsite. There are so many caustic substances there – you’re an idiot if you don’t wear proper clothing. My hair is always under a hard hat – it’s just weird.

      Mitsouko is only for me. It’s actually a bit unnerving to the ‘guys’ – I would probably do better to wear something sweet and more contemporary fruity/floral – but then I would have to jump in one of the many tanks that are marked ‘DANGER – Hydrochloric Acid’ ( Senor 😕 and I think that is a bit drastic – but it makes for good copy)

      xo >-)

  • Disteza says:

    I freely admit that I’m an inveterate layer-er. I’m also probably the one who has scared a few of you up there with my experiments–I’ve had a few that could be classified as nearly lethal. I took to layering as a way to work through the bajillion samples that were just lying around after being deemed ‘lacking’. Then I started layering things I actually liked, and now I’ve gone unabashedly into ‘what if?’ territory. As in: what happens if you mix Bulgari Black and Cumming together (yesterday’s trial)? The answer is a whole lotta rubber in your tea with a shot o’ whisky.(*)
    Today’s trial: what happens if you mix Borneo 1834 and Sa Majeste? A bigger, hotter mess than Cannabis Rose, that’s what.
    Thankfully I keep my experiments confined to one wrist only, so I’m the only one who has to smell the bad results.

    • Musette says:

      You are now the unofficial Queen of Layering! You’re the Dr. Frankenstein of layering. The Maria Callas of Layering!

      I ^:)^ to you – like Zazie I’m not a big fan of it in general – mostly because I barely know what I’m doing with just ONE fragrance!

      Bulgari Black and Cumming sounds like fun (what’s ol’ Alan up to these days, anyway? I absolutely adore him!). I would love to know what to put with T42. I love the ashtray quality to it but it goes bad on me really quickly, alas. Hey, what if I layered T42 with JOlie Madame? Do you think the mob would come with flaming torches?

      xo >-)

      • Disteza says:

        I think Jolie Madame would probably eat T42’s lunch, and then slug-bug her for not standing up for herself. b-( Although, I am intrigued by the puzzle you pose–what could you layer T42 with to play up the ashtray aspect, but not ridiculously overpower it? Methinks Habanita would be too powdery, but how about Miller et Bertaux Spiritus? I think I have my experiment for tomorrow! Thanks!

  • Zazie says:

    Truth to be told, I’m not a big fan of layering.
    I once tried FdO + uBV (serge Lutens), and the surprising right side of the equation was: liquorice! Beurk…
    But it’s been since I tried L’AP Havana vanille taht I have a project in mind: temper that vanilla (not a vanilla fan, here!) and add BOOZE and WOODS. So I’ll go for HV + chene (by SL)… That should be comfort scent heaven, or so I hope! :d

  • Shelley says:

    Ya know, I’ve had two accidents, one nice and one TERRIBLE, and I think the purposeful forgetting of the ‘orrible accident has knocked out all ability to recall any specific layering project. I even went for a walk first before attempting to remember, and some variation on Stockholm Syndrome is making me say “no, it’s all good.”

    I’m glad you found a happy combo. What an interesting one, too…such fine creatures all on their own. OH! I remember one…NKamali Violette + Ava Luxe Black Tea = Grape Sasparilla. Hey, I dunno…it just happened. I wanted smoke + violet, and went there…silly, silly me. It wasn’t NK or AL’s fault. (:|

    You are hitting a wavelength I’ve been travelling, this zone of where it becomes art. 😕 (Off to ruminate and be a :-b who feels so b-) .

    • Musette says:


      Grape Sarsparilla!!!


      did you know that plant was used to treat syphilis, back in the day? don’t know if it worked…

      xo >-)

  • kathleen says:

    Hey Musette, how goes it? Fun post, as usual. I’ve layered Mitsouko over Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, does that count? SMN Melograno w/Douce Amere. Sounds terrifying but I liked it and it received complements, so go figure. Also, the lovely Angelique Encens w/Tabarome.

    • Musette says:

      Hey, doll! Glad to hear from you! Yes, it does count. Mits is such a beeyotch about the whole layering thing that I figure anything you can get away with is a feat! Of your other layerings, I only know Melograno (a leetle bit) so I’m in the dark – but they sound ambitious (in a good way)

      xo >-)

  • ScentRed says:

    I’ve been dabbling a bit in layering. Here’s what has been working for me:

    * Guerlain AA Mandarine Basilic + AG Neroli – I find the Neroli takes away just enough of the sweetness of the Mandarine Basilic to make it work for me.

    * EL PC Jasmine White Moss + Tam Dao – Tam Dao calms her down just a tad

    * Chanel Bois des Iles + dab of Tam Dao – in this case to amplify the sandalwood and bring it out sooner in BdI

    • Musette says:

      You and Disteza! How on earth do you know how to do this? I figure the Orange/Lemon combo is a no-brainer – and I wouldn’t have done it except for that slighly sour note in Bigarade C (and the fact that the blasted bottle costs the earth). Fresh Lemon Sugar has a tad bit o’ that musky thing that ooks me out and the BC wipes that out, with the FLS wiping out the sweat….but that’s about as far as I can go with layering, I think. Most of my go-to scents are, like Mitsouko, so virulently stand-alone (what on earth could you layer Fracas with, except several layers of neoprene?).

      Plus, I’m just a ~:>

      xoxo >-)

  • mals86 says:

    I don’t layer much; it just doesn’t occur to me very often. Sometimes Darling Shalimar Light is a little too darling, so I add a drop of That Vamp Shalimar, for that touch of tar. And unless it’s damp outside, Jolie Madame can sometimes be too much leather, not enough floral for me. (So I’m a wimp, whaddya wanna make of it?) That’s when I layer some violet thing from one of the many violet samples I have lying around, just to take the edge off.

    I’m still looking for that perfect violets+tea scent, a la Villy in The Light Years, but I think I’m going to have to layer to get it.

    • Musette says:

      Oh, I don’t think you’re a wimp – Jolie Madame is every bit the demanding diva that Mitsouko is, in my opinion.

      I’m wearing Temps d’une Fete today – it’s freezing cold and raining here in Cowtown and I felt like partying (dunno why – I’ve been up since 5a finding materials for a 20000BU receiving leg (and no, I have NO idea what that is – I just find the stuff and they make it, then somebody else puts it to use :”> A beautiful scent but I couldn’t imagine what I would ever layer with TduF.

      Right now it’s being layered with dog farts. P-U!

      If you’re looking for violets go over to Miss Lizzy (no, I’m not getting a cut! LOL! – I just think she does a slammin’ violet) – she has a couple of violets that I love. Winter is perfect for Domino Viole.

      xo >-)

      • mals86 says:

        I adore LTdF. Layering would, IMO, lessen its gorgeousness. It never fails to make me happy, all by its own little self. Swooooon.

        I have not tried Domino Viole, but V&R was all candied violets on me (sweetens JM up a treat, though!). I still have SSS’s violets on my to-test list, too.

  • Melissa says:

    What a nice post, Musette! I don’t layer very often, but when I do, the constructions tend to be pretty “safe”. Nothing like some of the daring (crazed?) construction projects proposed by others on the Posse. :d

    So, on the safe side, iris scents layered with either Gady Musk or Clair de Musc can be perfect for days when musk seems too boring and iris needs some softening. Credit March for the Clair de Musc as a perfect-layering-scent-idea. I wish that I could think of a construction project gone awry. No memories. Probably too traumatizing!

    • Musette says:

      I KNOW! Some of these folks scare the toenails off me with their layering ideas!:o

      I wish I could get behind the whole ‘musk’ thing but it just ooks me out. Damn shame, too, because I lose out on a whole lot of really fab perfumes!

      I think my worst layering experience came (quite by accident – wasn’t trying to layer) with Pd’E’s Cuir Ottoman and Emeraude.

      Like I said, it was an accident. a hellish, freakish, horrible accident.

      xo >-)

  • March says:

    I can’t believe you layer Mitsy with anything. 😮 In my painful experience, Mitsy does not like to be layered. [-(

    I’ve been throwing Micallef Gaiac on top of various sweeter things (like vanillas, and NR). It adds a pleasingly raspy note and takes the sweet off. Gaiac works a lot better for/on me than oud.

    • Musette says:

      If you tell her I will have to kill you!;)

      for the record, I have never, EVER layered Mitsouko with anything else. I was just desperate and nothing in my brain was working and you know how that goes….it was just dumb, blind luck! Had I tried to layer her with anything else she would’ve taken my eyes and made eye salad! But Liz’s chypre is, perfect as it is, the perfect complement to Mitsouko.

      xo >-)

    • Tara C says:

      March, thanks for that idea about the Gaiac – just ordered a bottle of it and I am going to try layering it with some of my other sweet scents, it seems like a great idea!

    • Rappleyea says:

      I have been advised by Daisy (who sometimes comments here) that Mitsouko very successfully layers with Theorema, though I haven’t tried it.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Great piece Musette. The strange thing is that I dreamed of Liz Zorn all night. Happily for me, Mitsy is a comfort snuggle scent – no hard edges at all.

    • Musette says:

      I think I misspoke with the concept of ‘hard edges’ – Mitsouko is perfect. But! seeing as I am not 😮 (surprise!) I have to watch when and where I wear her. I’m a flaming sword kinda gal and on the wrong days….

      xo >-)

  • Fiordiligi says:

    What a great little piece, Musette! Thank you. And what an amazing job you have. The juxtaposition of heavy metal work and the beloved Mitsouko is quite something.

    I have nothing cogent to add, being neither a construction worker nor a layering person. However, now that I am able to post freely, why resist? Resistance is futile…..

    • Musette says:

      I don’t think you need to be a layerererer or a construction worker to contribute! Post away!

      For the record, I don’t ‘do’ the actual construction (though I have been known to wield a drill when we’re shorthanded). My partner and I own the company – he runs the shop and I run the biz overall. But this project was so complex due to the accelerated schedule that all hands were on deck. I was hauling pipe and delivering paint, etc. I do that a lot – we are a small biz – but rarely do I have to do it @ 11pm.

      IMO, Mitsouko IS Heavy Metal. Not the music genre, though. She is a heavy, precious, grounded metal from another planet.

      xoxo >-)

  • I love this construction metaphor of angle-iron turned into container by work and imagination. It’s so good to bring it to perfume, and remind us that perfume is both hard work and amazing art (and a dollop of luck now and then). We see so many fey references–“a re-imagined fairy wing dipped first in gold and then in duck fat. . .” (Yeah, OK, I made it up). It was good to read this. Sort of the Hemingway of perfume writing. A clean, well-lighted place. Congratulations for pulling that off–the writing AND the construction. Brava!!

    • Musette says:

      I know what you mean, QC – sometimes I think perfume houses do themselves an injustice, with all the fey nonsense (not that a bit of it isn’t necessary – it is ‘aht’ after all 🙂 – but I think it distills a lot of the truly difficult work that goes into making a good perfume. One thing about manufacturing (and custom construction, which is what we do, mostly) – nobody ever looks at something like that container loader and says “my kid could do that”

      xo >-)

      • Musette says:

        Btw =)) on the “fairy wing dipped first in gold and then in duck fat”

        xo >-)

      • Musette says:

        I meant ‘dilute’ not ‘distill’ – been at the plant (ethanol) too long this week!

        xo >-)

      • You made me smile–as an artist, I hear “My kid could have done that!” all the time, and my answer is, “I hope s/he always will.” Because schools and society drive art out of children instead of nurturing it. Another topic. I’m sticking to duck fat. As it were.