Le Labo Myrrhe 55 Shanghai Exclusive…

…and a bit of etc.

Saturday afternoon lying in the garden on the park-type bench that moved with me from London and was refurbed a few years ago. We’re having another bit of Indian summer (sun, blue sky, high 70s) – through mid-week and then things fall off a cliff (ie, heat might come).

The bakery in the next village over had a pumpkin ‘thing’ with meringue. Gorgeous. Maybe they are practicing for Halloween. No point in getting a picture as I’ve eaten bits off ends and it no longer looks pretty.

Awaiting the farm shop’s announcement of when I can participate in pumpkin picking in the field. They do have pumpkins available, but I’ve never done ‘the pick’ so planning to this year.

Finishing up a great book, The Only Street in Paris – Life on the Rue des Martyrs, by NY Times journalist Elaine Sciolino. Part travelogue, part memoir, part ‘this is my street’, etc – beautifully written and makes you want to parachute in and live aspects of her life.

Small bits of sublime.

Sigh, so, onward to perfume.

Why do companies do this – these city exclusives with availability for a short period (and why did I feel the need to cave and buy a sample)? I just made it within the 1-30 September window here for LL Myrrhe 55. My sample was stupid money (£10 for 1.5ml – offers a sense of how much the full 50ml bottle might cost) but it caught my curiosity after another blogger mentioned it. It’s now no longer even on the UK LL website.

(A truly out there pic of Shanghai)

So, clearly this was just released. It’s listed as a chypre, with the following notes sort of (as ever, you’re getting different short melanges from all over the net): bergamot, ginger, myrrh, jasmine, tuberose, patchouli, oud, ambergris and musk etc etc.

The comments on Fragrantica are all over the map, from hot mess floral to fulsome. Website faff is ‘dark and electric, old and new, just like Shanghai’. Well, ok.

I think I actually bought this simply because I’m always interested in what Le Labo does and the noise was ‘refined’, ‘old school’, etc, etc which is in nice contrast to the fruity floral juvenile mess of Hermes Twilly I finally managed to try last week after getting my hair cut (I do like the little bowler hat on top of the spray mechanism).

Anyway, M55 (tired of typing out the name) starts out fruity ginger carrot on me. And no, that’s not positive. It feels sort of like SL Iris Silver Mists: cold and rooty even with the fruit with some weird ginger thrown in for good measure. This aspect clings and then gets modified by what I think is tuberose menthol-rubber (not listed). So, it’s still cold plus has become a bit minty in the soup.

I then get rooty incense (ie, the myrrh and maybe a bit of oud). It’s still too cold for me even though the incense is pleasant (that’s awful: pleasant incense).

Finally – it took me around four days of wearing this to actually pay attention to the drydown. This smells nice in the end. Gentle incensy waft, slightly floral but still with that weird gingery etc thing going on. Decent longevity. At least 5-6 hours (I lost interest after that so no idea if it lasts longer).

Anyway, I’m not in Shanghai so definitely not buying this.

Briefly in a different direction.

A friend recently posted on Facebook about how she had gotten tired of her (her words) sort of hippy-ish middle aged mum look and wanted ideas about how to update herself. A lot of people chipped in with a lot of ideas.

Mostly these were decent, if a bit unimaginative, ideas about different silhouettes and/or combos of skirt, trousers, shoes, boots, tops; and shops to try mostly in NYC which offered (to my mind) expensive but not terribly interesting clothes. Way too much in the way of weird patterns etc.

I’ve always aspired but certainly mostly have not lived up to my presentation aspirations.

After the friend’s post on FB, I happened to re-watched the 1999 version of The Thomas Crown Affair starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. I know there are those who prefer the Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway version from 1968 but not me (even given the chess scene and that dress).

Maybe because I’m thinking about when I’ll have more freedom to be in the world we’re talking aspiration here which relates to Rene Russo’s wardrobe.

Just oh, my. Mouth-wateringly good. Apparently, the wardrobe mistress started on the production very late. So couldn’t make anything from scratch. Instead, with Russo’s advice, she mostly used pieces from a 1997 Celine collection (plus a bit of Halston, including an outrageous gown – but that’s not really where I’m going).

The clothes revolve around basically four colours/shades (beige, grey, black, brown). Nothing (bar that specific gown) is revealing. Tight but not stupid looking sweaters, pencil skirts, opaque tights, high-necked things, a wide boat-neck dress with a load of pearls. A strange but enticing maybe bustier over white shirt thing that could simply be a bit of white shirt at the top sewn on to fabric from the chest down. Looks good in any case.

All incredibly imaginative without implying she tried too hard.

I guess the thing is: the Catherine Banning character has a load of money and can do what she wants clothing-wise. But everything she wears points to incredibly good and interesting taste, but also sense and self-awareness and imagination. You probably think I’m making too much of this.

But between my own vague aspirational desires and all the comments on my friend’s post she/this character is where I landed in terms of what looking good means to me and how to get there.

There is always so much yack out there about how we present ourselves – about that saying a lot about 1) self-respect and 2) a sense of showing those around us that we give a shit (whether we do or not or simply know we have to look a certain way to prove that we can – eg, interview clothing or working in a certain environment and adhering to its implied requirements – lordy me, I remember the period when I worked in-house at an investment bank before ‘business casual’ took hold and the suits and pumps, and specific makeup, I wore every day).

So, there we go. Every once in a while someone here posts about clothing etc but I don’t think we’ve really covered the outside looking in – ie, what we think the world expects of us and whether we care at all about that – and what deep down we actually aspire to.

So, pitch in. Have you tried the LL Shanghai perfume? Do you think much about personal presentation and has that changed much over your (work) life? In the best of all possible worlds, how would you present yourself?

Pics: Pexels and Wiki — I am having trouble transferring from iPhone which is why no pic of the Le Labo sample

  • alityke says:

    I’m late to the party but will throw in my two pennerth.
    I will not sample any LL. They are well out of my budget so I try not to tease myself.
    Clothing, let’s see. I have worn all manner of styles dependant on work or social group. To be honest I’ve never quite managed to fit in sartorially. Uniform was a leveller but I have the shoulders of a gymnast & no hips so I looked like a crocheted toilet roll dolly! Even when we moved onto tunics & trousers I was the wrong shape!
    Away from work Levi’s or other well cut jeans, denim or leather biker jacket, simple T or long sleeved jersey top. I have always been a shoe lover. Jimmy Choos, Versace, Gina, Casadei, C-Doux & Manolo’s we’re all on my roster. Most with high heels. Patrick Cox loafers for work. Whilst I still own a few I no longer feel comfy in them so Fitflops are now my go to.
    Smarter occasions will be dresses with Doc Martins or Fitflop flatform chunky boots with the leather or denim. These styles still feel appropriate in my 60’s

  • Dina C. says:

    Haven’t tried the LL M55, but I have a lot of thoughts about clothes. I’ve always dressed to please myself and the kid inside me, and she likes bright colors, feminine things, jewelry. I guess she never got over the pretty princess phase. I refuse to be one of those middle aged women who only only wear neutral colors. I love grey and navy, but not every day. I’ve gotta have fuchsia, red and magenta in my life. Went to my reunion on Saturday night. It’s easy to spot me in all the photos. I’m wearing bright orchid silk in a sea of black dresses with a few other colors. I love that version of The Thomas Crowne Affair and agree that RR looks drop dead elegant in every scene. A lot of fashion influencers have been preaching, “wear what you love,” and I agree. The world would be so dull if we all wore the same uniforms, right?

    • cinnamon says:

      reunion? high school? college? I have a load of things, particularly silk scarves, that sit in a box and don’t get worn which I think about. i had a period through the ’80s during which I wore whatever pleased. it was such a great time clothes wise. but once I was in-house at investment banks clothes got a lot more sober. sort of sad — except I had astonishing shoes. Elegant. That’s the word I’ve been searching for. you can be elegant in all kinds of different ways that aren’t staid and narrow.

      • Dina C. says:

        40th High School reunion. It was fun. I love scarves, and not just for warmth. I used to work in hospital afministration, so I totally get formal business culture. It was skirt suits, pantyhose, and pumps every day. Elegance is a great thing to aim for!

    • Maya says:

      “What she said.” DinaC, you said it all for me. It was in my 40’s that I thought I should probably be more mature in all things including clothes. I didn’t like it at all. I felt like a fraud, a fake. So I do clothes like I do perfume – whatever my mood is in the morning. I will add that I was a tomboy so I channel that part too. Clothes should be fun. Why not?

  • March says:

    I “met” Le Labo when you stood around at the counter and they whipped it up for you and I’ve never loved one of their scents enough to buy a bottle, although several have been interesting. I have a good friend here on a bit of a clothing journey so I’ve really enjoyed being her sounding board as she figures out what she likes and doesn’t like. I adore clothes and boots and accessories like scarves, and/but I never stopped viewing them as “costume” (even my sedate DC work uniform was a type of costume.) I’m a sucker for interesting shapes, textures, patterns … the fabric has to feel nice to me. My closet looks like the costume shop of several different people. Victorian witch? Asymmetrical minimalist? I’ve got you covered. I’m (curiously?) immune to what anyone else thinks of my clothes in terms of attractiveness, sexual or otherwise. I am 100% dressing for myself.

    • cinnamon says:

      Did you feel like you were 100% dressing for yourself when you worked in more corporate situations? Victorian witch is a great look. The FB person (a friend from NY) has re-posted yet regarding her clothes journey — or whether it’s happening at all. She’s one of those people who does a lot of different things. Always interesting to hear the ‘where I am now’. As to LL, I love Yang 49 and the patchouli one that smells like birch tar. None of the others have worked on me so far.

      • March says:

        Nope, work was an exception — they were paying me to look a certain way for a DC corporate job, and I did, as if I were wearing a lab uniform. (shrug) Shocker, I did not bring those clothes with me.

      • cinnamon says:

        That should have been ‘has not’ posted. Corporate clothing is whole ‘nother world. I don’t miss those suits bar one powder pink silk thing that was just gorgeous. Don’t know what happened to it …

  • Musette says:

    I absolutely adore the Pierce/Rene version of TCA. The McQueen version is too…angry.. for my taste. This is a caper, after all. Love Dunaway’s cameo in the later version and she’s wearing a very fetching diamond ‘daywear’ necklace I lusted after for years!
    Having moved to the middle of a cornfield, I’ve had an interesting fashion journey. Right before moving here, I was the Managing Director of a high-end creative editorial house – I wore outrageous couture – long silk skirts, velvet jackets… 4″ stilettos… the whole enchilada. Makeup was.. dramatic.
    Here, people wear Carhartt… and I am NOT here for that noise. But I also cannot swan down the street in a bespoke ballgown. So I have settled on ‘exotic casual’ – lots of black and white; leggings, boots, very dramatically cut high-necked black sweaters…
    since I cannot (and will not) fit in here, I have settled on a style that makes me feel good about myself (and it’s comfortable) and they don’t look at me like I’m an alien anymore – not very much, at least.

    • cinnamon says:

      do you feel like this is where you’re settled for the foreseeable? Carhartt … you get that here too, but a lot more ‘athletic’ wear plus Marks & Spencer suits (which are decent and affordable) but with really bad shoes, particularly among men. Lord, 4 inch heels. I salute you. I had one pair of 3 inch Louboutins from a trip to Paris which were so beautiful — but they ended up on eBay because I just couldn’t walk in them. Didn’t notice that necklace on Dunaway. Will have to look.

      • Musette says:

        Barring a LOOTO win, I expect/hope to be carried out of here, feet first – after a very active and healthy old age. It’s fine, here. I’m 25 minutes away from Amtrak, which can take me anywhere. And it’s paid for (the house, not Amtrak) and I’ve made friends – and I’m really too old to give a damb anymore – it’s not perfect but, then, what is?

    • Tom says:

      I would pay real, actual cash money to see you “swan down the street in a bespoke ballgown.”

      Heck, I’d join you. Do you think there’s a thrift store out there with a Shiaparelli in 46 Long?

  • Portia says:

    Hey Cinnamon,
    As always so much to unpack.
    The pumpkin thing. I could have seen the chewed, loved, eaten version and been happy.
    Le Labo, so much to love and so much to eye roll at. Deeply ambivalent here.
    Presentation. Well, it used to mean everything. Then there was a beautiful period in the late 80s through to the naughties where a Polo shirt and cool jeans would be appropriate almost anywhere. I did have a couple of suits, a Gucci pin striped thing that the moths ate and a really lovely Next wool one that got lost in a move. Never replaced.
    Now, it’s still a Polo and whatever but I seriously don’t give very much thought to it except that once they get a hole Jin won’t let me wear them because it’s bad luck in his family.
    Oh yeah, winter I LOVE skivvies.
    This is aside from my work which is quite specific. Glittery frocks, too much make up, jewellery, hair and attitude.
    Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      the pumpkin thing was gorgeous. I really do hope it was practice for much more around Halloween. Yup, the LL makes me sigh. Just why??? I keep forgetting the ’80s and how much fun clothing (and presentation) was.

  • Tom says:

    Le Labo is still doing the exclusives? I always thought it was a dippy idea, especially since twice a year they stopped being exclusive for a week or two. I mean they either are or they aren’t. And Estée Lauder owns it now so why keep trying so hard?

    I prefer the remake “Thomas Crown” somewhat. Changing it to NY sort of makes sense (Boston, especially in the 60’s would be the home to McQueen’s Crown Sy Devore does Savile Row clad hero right after Liberace got the nom for Republican Presidential candidate) and although I hated Rene Russo’s hair I agree that her wardrobe was to die for. Dunaway’s Theodora Van Runkle get-ups were just wacky in the original- like they had to dial it up to 11 to pound home that she was more of a narcissist than he.

    Gosh I’m bitter this evening. I should have a candy bar.

    • Portia says:

      NO, miss the candy bar Tom. I love this new and bitter you. It makes me smile.
      Portia xx

    • cinnamon says:

      Yes, apparently, still doing these ‘only this place’ stuff. Hmm, I liked Russo’s hair. I’ve never actually watched the whole first one. Just bits on YouTube. There’s something about both McQueen and Dunaway in it that puts me off. Lauder owns the world.

  • ElizaC says:

    I don’t work so it’s jeans with either button down shirts or sweaters. I like to play with accessories – chunky Taxco bracelets, Victorian garnet and micro mosaic brooches, scarves, dark green or burgundy purses and shoes. The clothes are background. I certainly don’t mind if others like the look but its about what I enjoy.

    • cinnamon says:

      I have this odd idea that once I’m not working I’ll actually start to dress more imaginatively. I don’t know what this arises from. I stopped wearing jeans years ago — in favour of leggings and looser, wide-legged trousers. and I have loads of jewellery I should be wearing but for reasons I don’t understand I don’t (except when I’m not working — then things come out).

      • ElizaC says:

        At my work, which was a fairly formal office, I dressed based on the style of the office. My non work attire was impacted simply because budget wise, I wanted to buy clothes that I could also use in the office.
        Much more creative freedom when you don’t have to think about work!

  • Tara C says:

    I thought M55 was just okay. I might pay $150 for 100mls but that’s about it. So no chance I’ll be buying it.

    As for presentation, I wore a lot of very nice clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry and makeup when I was working. But now retired at 57, I find I just don’t care. Plus I live like a hermit. So my wardrobe is mostly jeans, tshirts, hoodie sweatshirts and running shoes or boots. I have a very faintly guilty feeling about not making an effort, but not enough to actually do it. Especially since my husband spends his life sitting around unshaven in a track suit. I mean, why bother? At least not on his account. If I’m going somewhere downtown and want to look decent I wear a blouse, my best jeans and pumps, plus a nice bag, jewelry and makeup. But that’s a rare occurrence.

    I am however always very clean and smelling good. 🙂

    • cinnamon says:

      I found the reviews of this on Fragrantica really interesting: either love or hate. The price point is silly. One blogger who really liked it commented that it’s the same price point for 50ml as Malle’s Portrait of a Lady is for 100ml. Which is just weird. I haven’t worn heels in ages. I’ve got a closet full of really nice shoes that just haven’t seen light in ages. I expect they are quite sad.