Imperious Perfumes





Awhile back I was listening to Tavis Smiley interview lyricists Alan & Marilyn Bergman – it was a relaxed, charming conversation, with  Tavis calling Ms Bergman “Sister Marilyn” and Alan got the ‘brother’ nod…and it was just a big ol’ Family Lovefest.

And then Barbra Streisand got on the interview.  And…omgosh…you could hear Tavis kind of …hesitate…

and out came ‘Miss Streisand’.

and I was not surprised.

Barbra Streisand is a …oh, you already know how fabulous her voice is and I do enjoy her acting.  But I’m thinking she is a total and complete diva who, by now, doesn’t even need to demand a certain approach – it just happens –  and you know what?  That’s just fine with me.  We’re not going out for pancakes.

I love a lot of ‘Sister Marilyn’ perfumes – and that’s a delightful connection to have with a scent.   They’re beautifully done, extremely lovely and wonderful to wear.  I can ‘hang out’ with them.  Then there are the “Miss Streisand” perfumes, those for whom a casual, chatty ‘hey, howyoudoin’ is simply not an acceptable approach, like saying to Lady Violet Grantham “hey, Vi! what’s shakin’?  Wanna go grab some pancakes?”.

Chanel No 5 EdT, even more than the parfum, is a Miss (or Lady, if Lady Violet is wearing it).  It has that chilly, metallic edge to its impeccable mien that resists over-familiarity.  So it’s at the tippy-top of my Miss Streisand list.  But that’s like shooting fish in a barrel.  Everybody knows.  I decided to exercise my teeny mind a little and come up with a couple of contemporary versions.  The criteria are the same for them as for Miss No 5.  It has to be a perfume that is gorgeous but resists any sort of casual familiarity.  I thought it would be a piece of cake – but it turned out harder than I thought.  Predictably the first ones that came to mind for me were aldehydes.  Guerlain Liu, with that austere little pinch of rosemary.   Piguet Futur  is Mean Green – in a very good way.  Green can be fresh and dewy, fresh and vibrant…sometimes it can even be a bit stagnant (for another post, I’m sure).  Vega is fresh – but….it’s a different kind of fresh,  more laser -as if you just called Lauren Bacall ‘Betty’ – but she don’t know you.

But even these are predictable.  I wanted to pull up my socks and go a bit further afield.  Harder than I thought.  Even though they may be complicated they are congenial, willing to get along with flannel and jeans as easily as silk.   A couple, though, are flat-out unwilling to quit the elegant sphere into which they were born.  Frederic Malle’s Fleur de Cassie is gorgeous.  But she will hurt your feelings HORD if you try to wear her with fleece.  Ask me how I know this.  Xerjoff Irisss.  LOL!  Lemmetellya.  I first experienced Irisss with Miss Patty – we were at dinner, then to Hermes and Miss Irisss was a charming companion.  So…well, how was I to know that the next time, when I said ‘hey!’in the form of some fleece pants and a thermal shirt, she would throw her cocktail in my face!

Do you guys have Miss perfumes?  I would love to know if any of you have a Big White Flower ‘Miss’.  I thought about Fracas but I’ve been wearing it for 30yrs, at this point I wear it to paint the closets!

  • Balenciaga Paris for me — seems quite formal and restrained. I would also put Serge Lutens De Profundis in this category.

  • Lynley says:

    Hiris demands that I wear my shirt ironed, and tucked in, before she’ll leave the house with me. And Opardu will not be associated with trakky daks or house clothes of any sort. She’ll let me wear knitwear, if it’s cashmere and silk, and for some reason, refined dove grey. But, as it happens, I havent much energy to expend on dressing so elegantly, so as much as I love Opardu, I still havent bought her…

  • nemo says:

    I would say Kelly Caleche, as a beautiful, youthful, but a very Missy Miss nonetheless.

  • solanace says:

    Vintage Armani, the only perfume I can’t wear with flip flops.

  • leathermountain says:

    Love the topic! My thoughts run in two directions, both already alluded to.

    One is Jacomo Silences, a mean green machine — and not just one command, “Silence!” but all of them, everything you ever thought about saying: No. “Silences!”

    The other is Chanel No. 22 which wears like a wall. You can hang whatever quilts or tapestries you’d like to represent soft focus or nostalgic associations — goodness knows she can hold up anything you might try to pin on her — but there is no getting past such a dense, potentially blinding presence.

    I love them both so dearly, m’ladies.

  • Rina says:

    The two that come to my mind are both vintage: Coco and Poison… POAL comes close but I’m too smitten at the moment and I’ll wear her with anything (and nothing..).

  • Tara C says:

    Hmm, I would say Onda, Le Parfum de Thérèse, Jubilation 25 and Gold are my imperious scents. I have to be in rare form to carry these off with panache. 🙂

  • Peppermoon says:

    For me, the old great Dame perfumes are imperious. Scents like Mitsouko demand a certain respectfulness when worn. A younger, more modern scent can be imperious too. I find these scents are often ice-queens, with cool notes and an element of the strange that makes them seem aloof. I agree that iris often creates this effect.

    • Musette says:

      that’s why I chose Irisss if you’ve not smelled it, do! It’s definitely Ice Queeny! xoxoxxoA

      • Peppermoon says:

        It’s definitely on my sampling list! It’s a bit expensive even to sample though, and I’m a college girl on a budget. One day! 🙂

  • tammy says:

    Hmmmmmm…off the top of my head, I can’t say that I have any Ma’am fragrances per se, as I wear Jubilation 25 to plant bulbs, and Mitsy when I turn in for the night.

    But I will say that iris tends to make me more inclined to behave myself, and remember to make sure my slip or bra straps aren’t showing, if that makes any sense.

    Not just any iris, mind you; some of them go straight-up Dippity-Do on me.

    But those lovely, cool, rooty ones, or those classic rose/iris combos that smell like makeup…. they will let me get away with jeans and a T-shirt, but they insist that the T-shirt be ironed and paired with a scarf, as well as some good boots, lipstick and a statement bracelet/ring.

    Y can have that effect on me, but I also wear it when I have to do something I don’t want to, (like clean the house!) so it’s almost more of my Armor Scent.

    We were passing through OK City on May 3, 1999 for that horror, but I wasn’t wearing any perfume, as we were travelling with my aunt, who is a heavy smoker, and it always overpowered anything I wore.

    I think my choice for a tornado would be The Party in Manhattan, or possibly Tabu. Might as well go out with a bang! 😛

  • eldarwen22 says:

    I noticed that Mitsouko, especially the current formulation, can be that way. God forbid that I wear a hoodie and blue jeans. To a lesser extent, Amouage Gold and Dia can be the same way.

    • Musette says:

      see, I have the persack opposite experience with Mitsouko. That gal got me through a tornado! I was heading back home, after an unfortunate El O Fixed the Brakes (NOT) experience – and we ran directly into a tornado. I was on a rising road, with a 100′ ravine on one side – and I couldn’t see the road for the lightning and wind and rain…and El O was in the car ahead of me with the boyz…and I was scared to flinders because Can’t See…and I kept huffing my wrist – I swear that Mitsy got my sweating self through that! LOL!

      So she and I are BFFs forEVAH! and she doesn’t care what I wear. Gold either, though she gets a bit eye-rolly if I am too fleeced-out. xoxoxoxoA

  • Caroline says:

    Great topic, though I LOLed at Fleur de Cassie, as I routinely wear that one with fleece! Having difficulty calling any BWFs to mind–they strike me as cheerful. Though not a floral, maybe Onda? You’re right, it’s easier to think of some of the classics falling into this category. What about Bogue Profumo’s Maai? Was distracted when I tried it, need to give it another go.

    • Musette says:

      OMGosh! ONDA! Yesh. She is one Full Metal Shrike, if you try to wear her wrong! I don’t know the Bogue. I swear, the perfumes you guys alert me to, puts me to the blush the stuff I don’t know! xoxoxoA

      • Eloquaint says:

        Bogue Maai starts off very Miss, with its weird woody green aldehydes, but after a few hours it’s a dead ringer for Amouage Gold Homme. I’m not kidding! Try them together and you’ll get what I mean.

        If I needed a real Miss for an evening, I think I would return to my long-time signature Annick Goutal’s Herure Exquise. That nippy iris/galbanum mix-brrr! Vintage Diorama would be a very good choice too.

  • Ann says:

    Howdy, darling! Hope you are doing OK and surviving Mother Nature’s latest tantrum. Spring has got to get here SOON! Oh, and what a great post! I had to stop and think for quite a few minutes. I would have said Mitsouko won’t stand for fleecy sweats but I’m not sure how she behaves with you. In my perfume stable, I wouldn’t dare dress down wearing Clive Christian C. Other “maybes” in that category include Hermes 24 Faubourg, Amouage Ubar, and my Faberge Imperial and Princess Grace scents from back in the ’90s. I would say Carnal Flower, but her beautiful, cheery loveliness would smile at us no matter our attire. P.S. Right now I am cozied up in Guerlain’s Encens Mythique d’ Orient. Stay warm, dear!

    • Musette says:

      I thought about Mitsy as well but you know I worn that through a tornado, wearing jeans when I had to rush to the ER for my dad – Mitsy is very forgiving of her wearer. 24 Faubourg, though, that’s an excellent addition to the Imperious list!

      Give Encens a smooch for me! xoxoxoA