New Digs, Some Scents by Nava

Sorry for the “punt” last week. I was in a haze of exhaustion from schlepping boxes and unpacking. Now, it’s all over, save for my 3 boxes of DVDs that have yet to find a home outside of their cardboard confines.

For those of you who read my post, In Memoriam, from last November, I have an update: My furniture, my clothing, and most of my belongings have been returned, save for the balance of my perfume collection. My aunt has chosen to hold my bottles hostage; why I don’t know, and I really can’t be bothered to call her attorney to find out. I don’t want this to turn into the “airing of grievances”, but I never in my life thought that perfume could be used as a bargaining chip. Jewelry, yes; art and antiquities, absolutely; but perfume? Come on. As Patty said yesterday, “Life happens”, and I’ve sure as hell had a lot of it happen to me lately. So, “Auntie”: enjoy my ‘fumes. I’m sure they smelled a hell of a lot nicer on me than they will on you. Oh, wait! You don’t wear perfume. Well, if onions and garlic count; that’s about as subjective as Mitsouko and Chanel No. 5.

Moving on…The bottles I do have in my possession include the 5 Comme des Garçons Incense Series scents. I’ve been finding a lot of comfort in incense lately, and for the past week I’ve been bathing in Jaisalmer, Avignon and Ouarzazate. They’re all spicy, dry and slightly sweet; just what the doctor ordered. I’ve also been cooking up a storm with curry, tofu, vegetables and rice, so I’m guessing my food cravings have caught up to my scent cravings. My three choices draw their inspiration from Morocco, India and France, so at some point, I’m going to have to find a good steak frites somewhere.

What is it about incense that captivates me so? I’m not a Roman Catholic, so the answer is not “because it reminds me of church”. It’s the warmth and calm it brings, not to mention its exoticism. I read a post on Facebook yesterday that said something to the effect of, “Oud is the new vanilla”. I must admit, I’m not particularly fond of oud; it suffocates me, and in my current digs, I’ve had the window open in -10C weather. Yes, I am sans thermostat in this place, and I can already tell that my scent choices (such as they are) will be affected by that. I’m not looking for any big bear hugs as I once did; now it’s all about gentle envelopment. Incense certainly does the trick on that count. When I was 24, I didn’t mind not having a thermostat; 20 years later, I mind. I don’t think I have to explain why.

I’m glad I still have these precious bottles in my possession. Incense is an underrated ingredient in fragrances, and usually, you can barely tell it’s there. I’m referring to the mainstream concoctions we’re all so fond of slamming. I think Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely paid a nice homage to incense, but try finding a bottle of it now. Estee Lauder Sensuous has a wee bit of it, but nothing to get too excited about. No, you have to go searching in “nicheland” to find all the really good incense scents, and I’m fine with that. Like oud, it’s not for everyone, but when you love it, you really fall for it. I’m content to let oud have its 15 minutes; maybe next year, I’ll read that incense is the new oud.

I’ll be residing here every Friday from now on. Please plan accordingly. 😉

Do you like incense? If so, which ones are your faves?

Disclosure: The scents mentioned are from my own (diminished) collection.

  • mary says:

    Amouage Opus II, from their Library Collection is the incense I keep going back to– I only have samples, but this may have to be the FB I break open the piggy bank for. Nava, I’m sorry to hear about the breakdown of relations with your aunt. It might be good that she has a lawyer you can talk to–lawyetrs can sometimes be good neutral go-betweens. If your aunt has no legal leg to stand on in keeping your fumes, the lawyer will explain that to her, and maybe get them back to you.

  • gina says:

    Incense scents are my favorite. Josef Statkus is my most loved.

    Good luck on getting your perfumes back. I don’t know what I’d do without mine, so I feel for you.

  • jen says:

    Have you read “Major Pettigrew takes a Stand”? A character in it says to ignore small ignrances so as to keep them small. Its hard sometimes but worthwhile! As for incense, I have no catholic backgroud so no memories of incense other than dorm rooms, so I love all incense!

  • Alice C says:

    I love Andy Tauer’s Incense Extreme.

    Do have someone talk to her lawyer and make sure your bottles are at least being stored properly–or that they are not at his/her office waiting for you to pick them up. “All you had to do was call.”

  • Annette K says:

    Let. Me Play the Lion is my favorite. I also get some incense from Isabela Capeto, which I adore

  • odonata9 says:

    I haven’t tried very many incense scents (and no ouds at all – I must be living under a rock!), but I do like DK Black Cashmere and Pacifica’s Tibetan Mountain Temple.

  • Connie says:

    I’m happy you will be here on Fridays and very happy you are settling into your new place. :-)

    Liked the Armani, but my little 2.5 ml decant evanesced (rather quickly) without getting to try it more than once. :-( Will have to seek it out again since it is getting so much love here. And Silver Factory, and Bois d’Armenie, and … etc.
    Love and light to you … @};-

    but not to HER! (Yes, I can be puerile at times. ;-) )

  • Karen G says:

    I love incense, when it’s very dry and I don’t detect too much cedar. AG Encens Flamboyant has been a go-to for me most of this winter. And Gucci pour Homme (2003 version) is pretty much perfect in it’s woodsy, spicy, incensy deliciousness!

    You get incense in SJP Lovely? It’s a favourite of mine, but I don’t get any incense at all.

  • Rappleyea says:

    Between your aunt and no thermostat, I think you must have the patience and endurance of a saint! Congratulations to you! I always enjoy reading your posts, so I’ll look forward to them now on Fridays.

    Adding my voice to the incense chorus, favorites being SSS Incense Pure, Bois d’Armenie and Messe de Minuit.

  • Carla says:

    I am still waffling on which incense to commit to, and had to re-order samples of L’Air du Desert Marocain, Avignon and some others on TPC to aid my decision. It’s snowing outside, some incense would be perfect now.

  • Ann says:

    Hi sweet Nava, I’m beyond thrilled that you’re getting settled in your own place. What a great feeling! And glad to see you’re rising above your aunt’s petty behavior. Letting go is the best thing you can do as the negative energy will just bring you down. And you, my dear, are on your way up, up, up to bigger and better things!
    As for incense, I’m with March and the others who say “what don’t I love?”
    But my faves are Armani’s Bois d’Encens, DK Black Cashmere, Dior’s Bois d’Argent (a wee bit of incense with my honey), and am also finding some early love for By Kilian’s Incense Oud.
    Looking forward to seeing you on Fridays!

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Ann! I’m going to try to get to Holt Renfrew to sniff Incense Oud. I like a few of his scents, and I’m trying to latch on to the oud “trend”.

  • Elisa says:

    Like others I admire and applaud your attitude!

    After reading this I went and put on some Wazamba from a sample. Mmmm. It took me a while to understand what “incense” meant in the context of perfume (I’m not Catholic so I have no church associations with incense; instead it makes me think of cheap scented joss sticks sold at head shops). Now I think of incense as a less sweet, more smoky version of amber — the tree resins part without the vanilla.

    The incense I’m most lemming a decant of lately is AT Incense Rose.

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Elisa.

      Vanilla can work in an incense composition, as long as you don’t dump the lot of it in there!

  • Tiara says:

    Nava – so good to know you have your own digs, even though you don’t have a thermostat. I can totally relate!

    Incense is always iffy for me, Catholic upbringing and all but can tolerate, even joy, lighter versions.

    Your aunt is still trying to make a power play and not making the ‘fumes a big deal is very smart on your part. I hope you and your bottles are soon reunited when she realizes the gig is up.

    • Nava says:

      When the building Super comments on how hot the apartments are, you know you’ve got a problem. If that’s the least of it, I’ll consider myself lucky.

  • Isa says:

    I adore incense!
    My faves are Kenzo Amour le Parfum (more incense, less vanilla than the original Amour), Heeley’s Cardinal, Comme des Garçons Zagorsk, Avignon and Jaisalmer, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, Gucci pour Homme…

  • Musette says:

    Nava –

    Glad to know you’re settled in – here’s hoping for a pleasant, peaceful resolution to the Perfume Hostage Situation!

    I wish I could love incense, really I do. Because I am a Sloooow Learner, I am constantly surprising myself by my, if not exactly negative, reaction then at least my feelings of disquiet upon application.

    Someday my Incense Prince will come…

    xo >-)

    • Nava says:

      Thanks, A. I think that’s how I’ll refer to it from now on: the P.H.S.!

      I don’t think I would have touched an incense scent 15 years ago. It was all about vanilla for me back then. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince!

  • Louise says:

    Oh, and how’s about No. 22-especially in vintage, I get loads of incense amidst the nitromusks and flowers and aldehyes.

    Another odd one is Maack’s Craft-heavy on both incense and aldehydes-kinda liking this one.

  • Louise says:

    Hi Nava-glad to hear you’re settling in.

    I’m with March-I have met very few incenses that I can’t love. Some not listed above (or I missed)-Norma Kamali and Montale Full Incense. Two powerbombs o’incense. Oh, and I love Ceremony’s dry incense.

    Many wood-based perfumes read incensey on my skin-one I particularly like is IUNX L’Ether. Just lovely in the heat.

    Take care, and I’ll visualize those missing bottles marching up to your door…

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Louise.

      I think you definitely need to appreciate woods to appreciate incense. Norma Kamali Incense is GLORIOUS. All you need is a microscopic drop and it stays with you for a week!

      I believe in positive visualization. Here’s hoping…

      • Winifreida says:

        yes I thought I’d smelt everything, was even getting a bit blase about the endless quest of perfume smelling, ’till I smelt that Kamali…actually the beautiful SSS Incense Pure is rather like it to my nose, stunning. I’m desperate (sort of) for winter, to hose down with the glorious incenses I got last winter Downunder. There was M d M, even ended up with two bottles when I realised the new version didn’t have mould…
        I’ve been desperately wanting several Bell Jars of Serge exclusives, and I cannot forget that you have a collection held hostage! They are so darn impossible to get in the colonies! However I am eyeing the Court’s bell jar section as we speak…
        Isn’t his Encens et Lavande a classic, I, whaa, have not sniffed it yet, is it among the unliberated ones???

  • Kirsten says:

    Hey Nava!

    Some incenses I love are Kyoto, Avignon, Tauer’s LDDM and Kenzo’s UFO (hubby says I smell like strawberries when I wear UFO – go figure!).

    Ouhds don’t sit so well with me. I’ve tried a few of the Montales but mostly I get some kind of celery note (guessing its the cumin).

    Wishing you lots of luck and happiness in your new home.


    • Nava says:

      Thanks Kirsten. No matter which Montale I try, it never works for me. It’s one of life’s great mysteries.

  • Style Spy says:

    Love incense. Lovelovelove. Probably the one I wear the most is Kyoto, but I think Jaisalmer is my most “toothsome” incense.

    If I ever meet your aunt I’m going to smack her.

  • March says:

    Hey there. Glad to see you up and running, although sorry Auntie Scrooge won’t give you back your collection.

    What incense *don’t* I like? :d I will say that, for people who don’t like incense, I’ve read more than one reference to it reminding them (negatively) of their religious upbringing, so maybe we’re lucky to have missed that.

    I am very fond of the CdGs, the Armani, and YSL Nu, off the top of my head. Oh, and Mecca Balsam, although that’s different, sweeter and more resiny.

  • Mrs.Honey says:

    Chanel #5 is the incense scent that comes to mind for me, but I am sure there are others in my collection. I do associate incense with church- at my large Episcopal church, the incense only came out on the high holy days.

  • DinaC says:

    I’m still an incense newbie. So far, I like Entro’s Messe de Minuit and Bond No. 9 Silver Factory. Plus, I’m sure there are many other scents that have just a little bit, and I don’t even realize it. (Like your example of SJP’s Lovely.)

    I hope that as time passes, your remaining bottles find their way back to you. Until then, you seem to have a very healthy attitude about your new location. Good for you! :-)

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Dina. I hope so, too.

      I’m digging how much love Silver Factory is getting today. It really is something special.

  • karin says:

    Nava! Sorry you and your aunt are still on the outs…and she has your perfumes. Sad. I hope some day her heart softens and the two of you are able to make amends. I know. Some relationships do not resolve, but there’s always hope! In the meanwhile, get a strong-arm to go over and threaten to sue if she doesn’t hand over those babies!!! ;-) (Ooops! Got a bit heated there. But seriously. Holding perfume hostage??? But it’s probably not worth the fight…)

    Only incense I’ve worn was YSL’s Nu when it came out some years ago. I liked it cause it was so different from anything I’d ever worn. Recently purchased a bottle of Mauboussin’s Histoire d’Eau. It reads incense and pencil shavings to me! Not sure I like it on me, but I like it as an ambiance fragrance…

    • Nava says:

      YSL Nu was another one of those “before its time” scents. I loved it then, but I would probably be crazy for it now.

      I’m going to let “nature” take its course in my current scenario. What goes around, comes around. It’s a cliche, but I believe it.

  • Ruanne says:

    I’m such an incense freak that I used to burn Nag Champa in my *car* (why yes- I was a hippie.) My favorites at the moment are Wazamba & Mecca Balsam. I wore a wee bit of Avignon to bed when I was reading Wolf Hall, and it was somehow perfect.

    And Nava, my wish for you is that your perfumes will be returned when you least expect them and most need them.

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Ruanne. Wow, Avignon and “Wolf Hall”… that makes perfect sense. A dark fragrance for dark fiction. Love it!

  • Marsha says:

    Nava: I’m so happy that you’re resettled. However, I can understand about the thermostat! I love the CdG Incense collection, Chaos, Black Cashmere, Corso Como is my favorite. I love incense and sandalwood. Just go on with your life and pretend that your aunt isn’t there. It will bother her terribly because she wants you to suffer for some strange reason. Someone’s conscience will eventually bother them too much and you will probably get the rest of your collection back.

    Hang in there!

  • Sherri M. says:


    I’m also thrilled you’ll be writing every Friday now! I’m glad you are getting settled in to your new place and I wish you lots of blessings and every happiness there.

    I love incense as part of a perfume, but straight-up incenses like Avignon and Profumum Olibanum remind me too much of funerals and Christmas for me to wear.

    I have a question: what exactly makes up incense? Labdanum? Resins? Myrrh?
    I like Bois d’Armenie when it’s very cold, but I more or less considered that a woody fragrance.

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Sherri!

      The notes of most of the incense scents I go for do have woods, labdanum, spices, a bit of floral and maybe some vanilla. Profumum Olibanum is a whopper – and it is one that I adore. I have to be in a certain frame of mind to wear it, and not schvitzing, either!

  • Meggie says:

    Bois d’Encens….not sure why that got cut off above. xox

    • Nava says:

      Thank you sweet Megs! It’s been a long odyssey that we’ll have to talk about the next time we meet up in person. With some serious sniffage as well. 😡

  • Meggie says:

    Darling, I’m not sure how I managed to miss all the upheaval ( knew about the move, of couse, but not of the wretched side story regarding “auntie”. )…as usual I am touched by your grace and humor. Bless your beautiful heart. As you know, I’m an incense ho, but forced to pick my Top 3, I could select Armani Prive Bois d’Encens, CdG Zagorsk and Apivita Spice — the fraternal twin of Bois.

  • Dionne says:

    Ahhhh, incense. Incense is my bud, along with iris (kind of opposite ends of the spectrum, really, but both just get along marvellously with my skin chemistry.) I don’t think I’ve tried an incense yet I haven’t liked, although what I’ve tried is still just the tip of the iceberg. Thus far my faves are SSS’s Incense Pure, Tauer’s LADDM and Incense Rosé, Parfum Sacre and Black Cashmere. Bois d’Encense smells fabulous, but a bit beyond my price point.

    Just got back on Thursday from Las Vegas where the hubby and I celebrated our 20th, and just to show what a gem I married, he willingly tagged along all of Monday while I oohed and aaahed and thoroughly geeked out at Saks and NM and Chanel and Barney’s and the Guerlain boutique… never have I wished more fervently for as many arms as Kali – or met such wonderful SA’s who REALLY knew their stuff, which is quite the refreshing change.

    Anyhoo, the entire CdG series got sniffed *oh wow* but Jaisalmer earned a skin spot for the day. I kinda felt bad for the woman sitting beside me that night at Cirque, since I was a VC&A BdI/Vetiver pour Elle/Sycomore/Pulp/Jaisalmer/Bas de Soie conglomerate. But dang! it was fun.

    Nava, I’m very impressed with your lack of bitterness. I admit I’m still crossing my fingers that some of your treasures will eventually find their way back to you, but still. VERY impressed.

    • Sherri M. says:


      Saks and NM and Barney’s and Chanel and Guerlain….WOW! I am green with envy!! Happy Anniversary!! :-)

    • Ann says:

      Hi Dionne, happy anniversary! And all I can say is “wow!!” to your fabulous fragrant whirlwind tour of Las Vegas. We perfumistas need to do some kind of sniffing event there sometime.

    • Nava says:

      Happy anniversary to you and your hubby, Dionne. I haven’t been to Vegas since the Barneys opened, but the Neimans on the strip impressed me as well. Barneys SAs generally do know their stuff – I met one in Dallas who was an absolute gem. Your choices of incense are stellar – put me down for more arms as well.

      Lacking bitterness is not as easy as it sounds. But, in the long run, the less emotional baggage we have, the better off we are. I tell myself that about 100 times a day.

  • FragrantWitch says:

    I do love incense as well. My faves are Avignon, Messe
    De Minuit, Parfum Sacre, and my beloved Chaos. I’ve recently tried Silver Factory and I am really liking that one as well.

    Enjoy your new digs! :-)

    • Nava says:

      I think it’s safe to say I’ve worn the crap out of Chaos the past few years and I’m broadening my horizons. Silver Factory is gorgeous, and worthy of a lot more attention than it currently gets. I think it’s one of Bond’s masterpieces.

  • tmp00 says:

    I do like incense and I do like oud.

    What I really like is the healthy way that you’ve moved on from and refused to engage your Aunt in her Festival of Bitterness. Not only is it the best thing for you, but I’m sure it’s just f*c*ng killing her.

  • K.R. says:

    Cheers to your continued inspired settlement. You raised the bar on classy adaptation. I love incense in Messe de minuit, Bois d’Armenie, Poivre 23, Miyako, Angeliques Encens. And I have a jar of oudh bark from Mecca where God and the angels reside.

    • Nava says:

      Thanks K.R. I swooned when I smelled Poivre 23, and to this day, I would kill for some more of it. Maybe as part of my ongoing adaptation, I will learn to at least appreciate oudh. 🙂

  • Tara says:

    Hey Nava,

    Sorry to hear about the prefume hostage situation. You know sometimes captors relent and release the hostages, so there might be some hope.

    As for incense, I agree as a genre is it amazing and very varied. I love the CdG line, and while I adore Avignon it is just too much for me to wear. It becomes overwhelming and cloying. Maybe I should dap instead of stray? I find Kyoto and Quazzarate really soft and comforting. I really want to get the other two, but just can’t seem to pull the trigger. I am a little frightened by Zagorsk and scared it might be too cold and harsh. As for Jasialmer, when I dab my sample it does not captivate me. Maybe that one needs to be sprayed?

    One incense I find special and unique is Bond NO. 9 Silver Factory. It is the only incense fragrance that I get compliments on.

    Just like nozknoz, I too would love to have Bois d’Encens, but I can’t seem to justify the price.

    I look forward to your Friday posts…

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Tara. I do have a bottle of Silver Factory, but alas, it is being held captive. It’s more of a “spring” incense for me; I love to wear it during transitional weather.

      I like to think of the Armani Prive scents as I do his clothing: simple, sophisticated and way out of my current price range. :d

  • taffynfontana says:

    Hang in there, like the old saying goes it is always darkest before the Dawn. I am glad you have some of your precious fumes to comfort you.

  • nozknoz says:

    Nava, so glad to hear that you are getting resettled and that you’ll be HERE on Fridays! (insert jumping up and down with joy icon)

    I love incense perfume (I’d even say that a lot of what I love about vintage classic Guerlains is the yummy resinous woods). My fav incense is Tauer’s L’Air du Desert Marocain. I bow down to Andy for that great scent. I would also love to have Armani Prive Bois d’Encens but the price has held me back.

    • Nava says:

      Andy seems to do everything right, doesn’t he? I blew through a bottle of Bois d’Encens and would love to replace it one day…

  • tammy says:

    She knows that you love perfume, and that it will hurt you to lose it all. Hopefully, she will relent at some point. I would love to know if I have anything that she has stolen from you….be happy to share. I have mostly roses and orientals…… tlschuster AT msn DOT com

    I think places of worship must have noticed the warm and calming properties of incense, and thus decided to incorporate them into services, no? I’m not Catholic, either, but I love incense…especially the Japanese powdery kind.

    Parfum Scare is probably my favorite incense, but I love Avignon, as well.

    Another reason to love Fridays!

    • Nava says:

      Thanks Tammy. These days, incense and my Freud reader are providing the most comfort. Someday, the answers to all this will reveal themselves. 🙂