Coming through the hurriquake with Neil Morris

My street, dans le deluge

Well, I don’t know what your news media was covering over the past few days but ours was all about Hurricane Hilary- when she would hit, where she would hit, and how hard she would hit. Looking at the predictions I was not really worried for my little slice of the Westside: we aren’t in a flood plain, we aren’t in the canyons, and we aren’t in a “burn scar” area (a recent fire that removed the foliage that would keep soil down.) From what they predicted, we may have gotten some power outages and rain which, while sustained and sometimes heavy, would be no worse than what we had had over our admittedly wet winter. Luckily I was right. We did have sustained and at times heavy rain, and even an earthquake (well, in Ojai, which is as far away from LA as Philadelphia is to NYC. Which tells you how we look at distance as Angelinos that we will drive there for Sunday Brunch.) I was taking a nap for the earthquake.

The morning after. Pool didn’t overflow

I amused myself with movies on TV (“Daisy Kenyon” and something else with Dana Andrews getting smacked around a lot) and Neil Morris’ fragrances. Not alas, with Mr. Morris himself, who is quite handsome and by all accounts a great guy.

Oh well, onto the scents:

Le Parfum d’Odette was the first one I pulled out of the pack and I could have stopped there and been happy. It opens with green tea, very light aldehydes and, for me, an unlisted mint before almost immediately going into lilac, narcissus, honeysuckle and just the bare touch of tuberose. It has quite a reach to it and some tenacity (all selling points to me) so you can go steadily, or if you’re alone in a hurricane, go crazy. The base notes of musk and amber don’t chase away those lovely flowers- if ever there was something to spritz on for courage during a natural disaster this one is it.

Le Parfum d’Ida is named after a fellow fume-head, author, and all-around extraordinary lady who I have sadly never met personally and hope one day to correct that oversight. It opens with bright aldehydes warmed by cloves and sweetened by a blackberry that skips between fresh and cordial to a springlike bouquet of flowers: geranium (always a favorite) narcissus and very light gardenia. Much like Ida herself, this one neatly straddles the classical and the new: the aldehydes are as much classic perfume as a violin solo is to classical music but the sprightly berries and warm clove add a brightness that makes it fresh, and the leather/civet/Oakmoss heart ground the sparkling flowers. Would that I could inspire something like this.

Swoon is noted as a tribute to the movie “Perfume, The Story of a Murderer” which I have to admit I haven’t seen (although I did read the book) As an aside, Marina sent me the bottle of Thierry Mugler’s Human Existence from the coffret she received as a press kit from the movie: she wanted me to review it for PST, and, I think, to get it out of her house. To another coast. This one is about the scene at the end where the antihero creates a perfume that sends all who experience it into a “swoon.” I can’t write that that is the first reaction to this one, but you couldn’t really call a perfume “Squeee!” now could you. But that was my reaction to the fresh orange in the opening. Tomato leaf is in the heart and that is always a favorite and the classic base is lovely. I’m afraid it just didn’t make me swoon- all of the other listed heart notes (Philodendron, Dossinia, Jasmine Sambac, Peony, Honeysuckle, Narcissus, Black Tea) kind of beat down the tomato leaf, which is a personal favorite and I wish there was more of. But then this isn’t Le Parfum de Tom, is it?

Prowl is written of as a “powerful Jaguar (slipping) silently through the jungle in seach of prey”. I get a strong black pepper note that eventually cedes to jasmine, tuberose and honeysuckle. The classical base of oakmoss, amber, patch and civet make this kitty purr on me more that prowl, and that’s no bad thing.

Chasing Autumn was the last one in the pack I tried (I went from light to dark, as shipped) and while I liked all of the others I immediately loved this one. Opening with the smell of fresh, almost burnt coffee almost immediately joined by the smell of campfires long smoldering. It’s like arriving at a cabin the the woods for a late autumn weekend, that smell in the air of the coniferous trees that still have their needles, the wood and stone walls, old leather chairs and fireplace smelling of the hundreds of fires that have been lit there. You’ve made it ahead of the storm and are settling in with your supplies, strong black coffee and hearth about to blaze again, keeping winter once again at bay. Like a bonfire it dies down into a comforing scent of warm embers, and still that coffee. I have zero desire to actually experience actual winter again, but the next time we get a cold rainstorm I will be fortifying myself against it with this.

All of the ones I tried are $95 for 2oz, $5 for a sample. The samples are extra generous in size (see the photo) so they will actually make great travel sprays. I look forward to trying some of the others: there’s an almost bewildering array of them. It’s once again so wonderful to discover people like Neil who. like so many other talented people out there are doing these without the goal of being picked up by Unilever or Dow. I love spending my money with them.

Have you tried any of these? Any of the others? What did you think? Let’s discuss in the comments.

My samples were purchased from the perfumer. Photos are mine and Pixels.

  • VerbenaLuvvr says:

    I always wanted to try October, but I think that’s now discontinued

  • cinnamon says:

    sigh. system wouldn’t let me comment yesterday. in any case, glad you weren’t that affected by storm. Hilary … so, only to H in alphabet this year, implying much to come around US? I would love to try the NMs. But not available here. Those names though — wow! And sane prices within the general perfume price inflation stupidity.

  • Musette says:

    Neil Morris is the perfumer who suggested I try Carnal Flower on El O! That was a revelation – I did it right before a Chamber of Commerce dinner; the women around here are very conservative, very insular/tribal, and El O wasn’t a particular favorite at the best of times.
    Except That Time. Women spent an inordinate amount of time circling around him, looking almost…feral? But Confused Feral, like they couldn’t figure out why they were so …feral their circling (he was not gorgeous, so (shrug) –
    I still chuckle when I think of that.
    I’ve worn a lot of NMs including the beautiful Ida. Odette sounds extraordinary!

    • Tom says:

      Well, I haven’t done Carnal Flower, but I have done Tubey Crim. Didn’t notice anyone circling but I am completely cluesless about that. One could walk up and put one’s hand down my pants and I’d just wonder if you were cold.

      Odette was a total winner for me. I’m going to need a bottle.

      • Maya says:

        If I were sipping on my coffee, I would have spit it out laughing. Don’t tell anyone, but my daughter says pretty much the same about me, though I will not give her the satisfaction of letting her know she might be right. LOL.

  • ElizaC says:

    Big fan of Neil Morris perfumes! I have Prowl and it is like being wrapped in a rich, amber hug from the 1920s. Makes me feel very cozy and sophisticated at the same time.

    • Tom says:

      I liked Prowl a lot- it was a hug. I liked all of them pretty much. But Odette was so far my favorite..

  • Portia says:

    Neil Morris has passed me by Tom, as did all news of your rains and quakes.
    Glad you’re safe & sound. also that the NMs were a hit. I remember Olfactoria loving his work too.
    Portia xx

    • Tom says:

      I’m glad the news didn’t get that far. It was almost unseemly here. Like So Cal News stations were competing with Hawaii- “look! we have disasters too!” and the national media was just salivatng for a new disaster

    • Maya says:

      Portia, I was just checking out Neil Morris again and realized that I forgot to mention something in last night’s comment. I was tired. Weren’t you looking for a wisteria perfume a while ago? Neil Morris has one called Intimate Wisteria. Thought I’d let you know.

  • March says:

    I tried some Neil Morris back in the day and really liked them, and you can’t beat the price. Thanks for the reminder. And I watched the hurricane news (I think a lot of us did!) hoping for the best. Glad you got through okay.

    • Tom says:

      The ones I tried are really good. Don’t know why I didn’t go there earlier. I think an Odette may be in my future..

      I have friends in Palm Springs who had damage, luckily for them minor. Also lucky for them they have insurance.

  • Maya says:

    I never got around to trying Neil Morris. You had me with Le Parfum d’Odette too. Sounds like a bit of indole heaven. I did go to the Neil Morris site and there are others that I want to sample – Hula, Rainflower, Hippie (maybe), Midnight Flower, and a few others. The bottle prices a great. It will have to wait though until I try all the other perfumes on my list. It never ends, she whined happily.

  • Dina C. says:

    So glad you weren’t washed away by Hilary, Tom. Heavy ran like that always brings down a bunch of old trees in my area. Usually across roads, snarling traffic. Well, Odette sounds gorgeous! Swoon sounds like it might be interesting. And the Autumn one sounds like it would make a fabulous candle! Thanks for the reviews.

    • Tom says:

      We were really lucky. I found out late that the next block lost power twice for a couple of hours at a time.

      Autumn would make a fabulous candle!

  • Tara C says:

    Just checked his site, there is a parfum and an edp of Chasing Autumn, which one did you try?

  • Tara C says:

    I’m guessing Ida is Ida Meister? I had the pleasure of meeting her at least 15 years ago in NYC, near the beginning of my niche perfume journey.

    I’ve heard lots of good things about chasing Autumn, must give it a try.