Perfume Party!

The TableEvery now and again a group of crazy folks get together for a perfume party. Here’s a peek at the ‘do I threw at my house last Saturday night for various DC-area perfumistas, I’ve misplaced the list but I think there were 12 of us.

In addition to my homemade vegetarian lasagna and my beef stew (the secret’s in the two bottles of wine, laydeez!) we had a fabulous drinks menu courtesy of Nancy; let me quote you a few samples – “Lipstick Rose – sparkling wine + rose and violet liqueurs,” “Yuzu Rouge – tea liqueur + ginger liqueur + yuzu syrup,” “8:00 Gingembre – ginger ale + ginger liqueur.”  Yep, inspired by perfumes, and full of scented, flavored goodness, how cool is that?!?

People brought stuff to sample, share, swap and sell, and the party forced me to dust my various perfume areas upstairs, which – well, you know how that is.  I brought anything that might be more unusual or interesting down, plus some classics and anything I might have that was fairly newish – the OJ Tiare, the Van Cleefs, the Cartiers, etc.

2009_1114perfume0123_1 2009_1114perfume0125_1There was a lot going on at the same time, so I’m going to invite anyone who was there who reads this post to chime in with personal highlights.  I’m so sad not to be able to post my favorite photo, which was a bottle of Regina Harris perfume oil nestled in the cleavage of one of our bosomy members who shall remain anonymous.  I tell you, I have never seen a bottle of Regina Harris displayed more beautifully.  There was a lot of spraying and sniffing and silliness,  and I am thinking I am possibly not the only person who woke up the next day with a headache.  My sister-in-law, the famous Kate, came in from the Eastern Shore for the event and was (unsurprisingly) welcomed warmly, because who’s nicer than a bunch of perfume nuts?  By the way, Kate called me tonight to report in a worried voice that she had either 11 or 17 bottles, I forget, but this is up from – oh, I don’t know, zero?  She’s afraid they’re reproducing on her dresser.  Hehe.  I told her to be careful, next thing you know you’ve got a hundred of them.

2009_1114perfume0121_1Perfume highlights that I can recall are:  having some of the gals experience the green-gardenia joy that is Strange Invisible Perfumes’ Lady Day; all the feedback on the Cartiers, particularly XIII, the leathery one that some people love and others hated; getting to inflict my beloved monster Worth Courtesan on those who hadn’t tried it, one of whom (Nancy) loved it and one of whom (Kristy) was still bitching the next day about how craptastic it was and how it wouldn’t leave, which is the sign of a true scrubber.  I was blown away by the Penhaligon Amaranthine that Melissa brought – what a weird, interesting, twisty perfume ride that was — it’s Bertrand Duchaufour and it didn’t throw up on me!  I love their bottles but their scents don’t do a ton for me – kind of prim and staid – but that thing was gorgeous.  The new Daphne Guinness was a big ol’ riot, and that is definitely a love it or hate it – that thing is a monster.  Huge.  Melissa tortured us with that one, I believe.

2009_1114perfume0150_1chypreI snagged a bottle of Dioressence, which made me happy … oh!  I almost forgot!  Here’s another highlight!   I have this bottle of perfume I’ve never opened, marked Chypre (by Carnay) I’m guessing from the 30s?  I’m not sure.  I couldn’t get the stopper out and that was … two years ago, I think.  Anyhoo, the evening’s event was I handed it to Louise and Melissa, who buy a lot of vintage, and asked if they’d take a stab at it.  It took them, I think, five minutes?  Ten if you factor in their cocktail preparation.  It was lovely – rich and sweet, rather than the caramel swill you get sometimes with those old bottles. I’m looking forward to playing with it some more.   Also, Michele was loving the Poison extrait which I’d left upstairs out of pity for the other attendees, it smelled great on her – what is up with the Poison hate?!?  Just because you sat next to someone who bathed in it in 1987 doesn’t mean it’s not a great scent.   Also, I think people liked my Dior Jules, judging by the number of racks bodies it wound up sprayed on.  Some decanting went on in the back rooms… Le Labo Gaiac was passed around … I’m sure I’ve missed something, chime in here.

2009_1114perfume0143_1Non-perfume highlights include Kristy showing us the gorgeous ombre dress she got for her big dress-up boyfriend’s-office-party holiday bash, an important first in any gal’s life.  And I busted out my naughty boots for inspection and try-ons, where …. it was discovered that I had two different sizes!   Naughty Nordstrom!   So you will all be relieved to hear, if it is keeping you up at night, that I took them back and exchanged them for the correct (matching) size, and while I was there sold a $275 pair of red satin pumps to a lady who was waffling because they weren’t more practical blah blah blah.   I told her they looked fabulous on her, which they did – she smiled every time she looked down at her feet.  They were for a party.   Sometimes, practical is over-rated.

Photos, top to bottom:  the spread on the table (giveaways at one end, sniffage in the middle, sales at the other end); the exotic drinks bar with Michele and Kathy — btw I’m sorry, I don’t know everyone’s MUA names!; two of our resident beauties you may recognize (Melissa and Louise); a couple more shots of the goods and the goody bags, Michele brought two shopping bags of samples; my bottle of Carnay Chypre; that’s me in that black-and-white optical print shirt.

  • Theresa says:

    This sounds like a fabulous time! I’m joining the google group right away:-)

  • Robin says:

    Late again…but how cool! So glad you posted pictures.

  • Kate (not March's SIL) says:

    Thank you again March for a lovely evening. I was seriously considering hiding in your gorgeous home thinking no one would find me for probably 3 days! Ya’ll, Marchy has a lovely home with chandelier in the loo! Perfume ladies (and gents) are the funnest dang folks to spend and evening with. Call me anytime!

  • Melissa says:

    Thanks again for a wonderful evening March. Glad that I could pawn off, er, donate the sample of the wicked Daphne to someone who appreciates her seductive charms.:d

    • March says:

      You just hate that kind of junk, dontcha? It sort of reminded me of the Minuit Enchantee… does that stuff just smell like vomit to you?

  • mariekel says:

    Wah!! Wish I had got my name on the invite list (I am in DC). I have often thought about having something like this but really do not have the space. I would adore it if we had a few DC-area events, though, and am definitely up for ideas! I have been busily converting my friends to the sublime world of perfume sampling, so I could expect a healthy turnout.

  • violetnoir says:

    Hey–I would have flown in just for the drinks, babe!…and to see you and Louise again. 😡

    Aren’t perfume parties a giddy blast of fragrant fun, March?

    Oh, and you reminded me that I need to try Courtesan. I’ll put it on my next order with TPC.

    Hugs and love!

  • Joe says:

    How fun for y’all! Sounds like a helluva lot of fun. I’d host the next one in Santa Barbara if I didn’t live in a shoe box. 😉

    So… how about that Amaranthine? My bottle arrived last Friday (hosted a split) and I think it’s pretty great in terms of “unusual” factor. But does anyone get the nearly-pornographic skank I get from it? It’s not a cumin or MKK kind of thing, but it’s definitely sorta slutty. Or is that just my imagination?

    • Melissa says:

      Joe, I think Amaranthine is a bit of a vamp. Indolic, pungent and overripe. I absolutely love it. Someone sent me a large sample and before I knew it, my credit card jumped out of my purse and compelled me to order it.

      • mals86 says:

        Joe, is that GOOD Slutty on the level of Bal or Citizen Queen? Or BAD slutty the way Joy smells on me? Can’t wait for the split. /:)

        Melissa: “Bit of a vamp, overripe”… you know we’ve been calling it Amaranthigh, right?

        • Melissa says:

          Amaranthigh? =))

        • Joe says:

          mals: your split of A-Thigh should be arriving pretty darn soon I think. I will be VERY curious to hear what you think of it, believe me.

        • March says:

          Joy doesn’t work on me either (in fact, most of the Patous are pretty gamey on me … Sira des Indes is unspeakable … but this was sexy without being too ridiculous.

  • Nava says:

    Yeah, sure – have a party without me! 😮

    As a participant in gatherings past, I can say these ladies know of what they speak and are gracious to a fault. We’ve often mentioned how wonderfully caring and sharing perfume people are, and March’s gathering was surely a testament to that.

    March, you need to forward me your recipe for vegetarian lasagne. We’ve gone all veg here at the homestead (dairy is acceptable for now), so my aunt and I are on the hunt for recipes. I’ll trade you a fantastic recipe for quinoa chili that makes a regular appearance at the dinner table. 😡

    • Melissa says:

      Aw, Nava! Missed you!:((

    • March says:

      If you give up dairy it’s really, really hard. Okay. My recipe is made up and very easy

      9 noodles from one box of NO-BOIL lasagna noodles (I like them because they’re less heavy)
      1 bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
      a few handfuls of shredded cheese, I use a 4-cheese mix premade
      1 container mushrooms, like Crimini, something with flavor
      1 jar your favorite spaghetti sauce
      1 medium size container of skim ricotta cheese
      An onion, chopped

      1. Saute the onion and the mushrooms.
      2. Splash some tomato sauce in the 9×12 pan, lay down 3 noodles.
      3. Half the spinach, half the cheese globbed around, half the mushroom/onions, more tomato sauce. Salt, season.
      4. Do another 3 noodles and repeat step 3 with the other half.
      5. The top layer of 3 noodles, the rest of the tomato sauce, sprinkle some cheese, I use some extra parmesan.
      6. Cover with foil, bake 350 for 50 minutes, take the foil off, do another 10 – 15 minutes. It’s not an exact science.

      Et voila.

  • Nancy says:

    Thank you again, March, for a perfect evening.

    Michele had an insightful observation. As we eagerly pawed through the two overflowing bags of samples that she brought for giveaway, Michele noted that no one was taking any of the goodies and concluded we either owned all of those frags or had tried them. A true mark of the perfumista!

    We should do another party soon. Who knows where the bottle of Regina Harris will end up?

    • March says:

      That’s so funny, Senor Smiley ended up in your comment as a link. 😕

      Not everyone has the assets to display the Regina properly, although I have to say, it seems to me that perfume gals have nice … uh, display areas. Okay, moving along — yes, I laughed — the sign of true hardcore perfumista-dom is a lack of interest in the freebies and a desperation to get rid of your own stuff.

  • sweetlife says:

    What a terrific looking party! Love the idea of those drinks–I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time I’m trying to bring unpersuaded friends over to the fragrant side…

  • Francesca says:

    Yikes, I got the psychotic starfish again!:o

  • Francesca says:

    Oh, man, I am so envious! Looks like a beautiful party.:x:x

  • Musette says:


    dang. so wish I’d been there – everything looks so beautiful and warm and inviting, including all you loverly womenses and your house, as always, is drool-worthy.

    Vintage Chypre? (is the drooler still around?)=p~

    On my way back to Chicago – perhaps I can console my jealous self with Havana Vanille…..

    xoxoxo >-)

    • March says:

      There’s the drooler. Really, the one I miss most is whistling dude. I used him all the time. Big surprise.

      I wish you’d been here too. And that vintage Chypre is I think a ripoff of the Coty, and as such it’s nice stuff.

  • Lee says:

    What larks. You lucky women!

  • Rappleyea says:

    Lived in N. Va. for several years, just over the mountain from you, March. Really miss the area, although not the ex! Sounds like a fabulous evening, and your house looks beautiful.

    • March says:

      Thanks. It’s nice to be able to dress up and clean up and cook something that doesn’t have to be the stuff of dreams for little kids. 🙂

  • ScentRed says:

    Sounds like a wonderful evening with by a fantastic group of gals. Thanks for sharing and let us imagine the fun.

  • It was so awesome! Thank you so much March. Daphne is my latest lemming. Jules reminded me of some sort of vintage cleaning products, but I did love Hermes Equipage. Courtesan came off my swapping wishlist, haha! 🙂

    I think we should definitely rent a hall sometime and have a blowout party.

    I know my cleavage and shoulders ended up being spritzed and sniffed more than once: the true mark of a wonderful evening! 🙂

  • mals86 says:

    Oh, the vicarious thrills! It was a joy to experience even secondhand.

  • Tiara says:

    What fun to drop in and read about such a wonderful party! Got a chuckle reading about the Nordstrom’s shopper and her new red shoes. She never knew what hit her – it blew in like March?!

    • March says:

      oh my god those people should pay me a commission. Them and Sephora. I have sold more crap to people in Nordstrom, I must look like I work there, or at least act like it. Frustrated retailer? I dunno. The thing is, I can’t walk by without acknowledging if something looks *really good* and I think when they know I’m just some shmo, not a clerk, sometimes they feel better? The shoes were killer, they had a pleated red ruffle which sounds tacky but they weren’t.

  • Patty says:

    I am so damn envious.

    Pattie, I wasn’t there, no, but I DO need to host one of these in Denver. Mabye in February? How many Denver’ish perfumistas are there?

  • Shelley says:

    The only thing that keeps my knickers from getting in a twist with jealousy is knowing how wonderful y’all are and what a fabulous time you must have had. I am a *big* fan of perfume pairings…what goes well with a single malt, what smells like a Knickerbocker, etcetera…and love what you pulled together here. Good on Nancy for such creative ideas, good on you for fab hosting AND sharing, good on all of you for getting together.

    Freezer trick is interesting; have noted it. I just released a stopper via the opposite temperature…heated (very briefly!) a wet towel in the microwave, wrapped it around the top, a cloth towel around that, and voila. Ooooooh, a chypre….

    I think I spy absinthe on the beverage table. You wild and crazy peeps, you. 🙂

  • Pattie says:

    What a great idea – Patty, are you there??? you need to host one of these in Denver!!! I’ll bring alcohol.

  • Erin T says:

    Sooooo envious! Of the time with the perfume, of course, but also the ladies and the stew and cocktails! You tried so many things I’m lemming after right now – though I’ve tried the Courtesan (heh :”> ) and the Cartier (undecided) and the Daphne monster (love! love!). Good to know about the freezer trick!

    • March says:

      Well, that’s the great thing about hooking up with these folks, between the lot of them there’s almost everything there that I want to sample. If you’re at all a fan of Duchaufour you need to try the Penhaligon.

  • Louise says:

    Huge Thanks, March, for a wonderful evening 😡

    You were the perfect hostess, all the gals were sweet, the drinks brilliantly planned and executed, delicious food (that stew must have violated a few designated driver rules) and hey, we all smelled great. If somewhat confuzzled, after so much spritzing @-)

    It was wonderful to meet Kate, who turns out to be my scent twin. Soon as I found that she can wear MdM and Mitsy well, it was a blast to guide her to a few things that work on me. The expression on her face as Alahine worked its magic made me sooo happy =d>

    Oh, and the trick with the plugged bottle-Melissa and I popped it into the freezer, just 5 minutes, and presto! That’s the best first attempt at those wily stucker ;))

    Sorry about the headache #-o .

    So, can we rent a hall and do a PP convention sometime ?

    • March says:

      See, and I only had to wait two years for you to unstick it. Thanks for the tip! Oh, I tell myself all that alcohol in the stew has cooked off!! (Where’s whistling man when we need him?)

      I think a convention would be so much fun. And the headache was allergies, I’m sure. 😉

      • carter says:

        I really, really want to do a perfume pajama party. I really, really want to do that. Really. Can we please do that sometime? Seriously.

        We could meet half-way, in Philly. Big, luxe hotel suite. I am not kidding. Please? [-o<

        • Kate says:

          yeah a pajama party would be fun cos I think Ms Carter, you might be a very fun person to spritz and drink dainty girly adult bevvies!

          • carter says:

            It would, wouldn’t it? We could roll up each others’ hair in sponge curlers and spritz and swill and trash talk and then get up and go shopping. And with you there, Kate, what’s not to like?

  • Fiordiligi says:

    My goodness, what a brilliant idea and it both sounds and looks like the most fantastic event! Congrats all round.

    That vintage Chypre must have been one of the highlights, and I love the sound of the Lipstick Rose cocktail. All just yummy.

    Thanks for sharing (and I love the blouse, too).

    • March says:

      Thanks, it was so much fun. I wish I had a better pic of the blouse, can you see how the dots get teeny on one sleeve? They’re varied, it’s fun.

  • hvs says:

    Very jealous!

  • Flora says:

    OK, enough with the perfume pr0n already, when is the next party? :d

    Sounds like a perfectly fab evening!!

  • BeautyBitch says:

    I’m actually frothing at the mouth with jealousy – what a FANTASTIC sounding evening! A few hours in the company of perfumistas sound heavenly. In fact why don’t you invite some of those killjoys over at IFRA to your next soiree? I’m sure a room full of perfume nuts would be able to gently “persuade” them (ie. threaten with extreme violence) to reconsider their stance on our favourite toxic smelly molecules.

    I’m so jealous I’m tempted to hop over several oceans and gatecrash.

    • March says:

      My personal view about the IFRA stuff is it’s nothing to do with protecting us from environmental toxins, and everything to do with money to be made from new chemical compounds. IFRA doesn’t give a shit if you’re photosensitive. IMO. 😉 And yeah, it was a hoot.

  • Laura M says:

    Oh, how fun! Are those take-home samples standing up on their ends on the three saucers? Please tell me everyone made it home in one piece! (Life in the ‘burbs is dangerous: not only do you have to watch out for drinking and driving but it seems you may have to engage in delicate acts of perfume bottle extrication!)

    • March says:

      Don’t worry, there were designated drivers, folks carpooled. And on the three saucers were sample sets — the Cartiers, the Van Cleefs, and … something. Oh, the Maison Francis Kurkdjians.

  • hongkongmom says:

    march…i wish i had been there and tho we can’t exactly see the details, ur home looks warm and inviting and smells soooo good..hope u all had a blast, it must have been awesome!!:):)

  • carter says:

    What a brilliant idea! It looks like a total blast. I would have come for the Dioressence alone. But March, the pix are too small and I can’t see them except for the cool one of the table, which you can click and enlarge. The others, I need to squint and, frankly, all I’m doing is giving myself more wrinkles. I can sort of make out Louise in one, and I can see your blouse, you tease…