Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Category: Unwanted Perfume Reviews

Retro Decadence: Une Fleur de Cassie

women s purple and yellow lips with yellow liquid

Photo by Oleg Magni on Pexels.com

…by Dominique Ropion (creator of Ysatis, Amarige, and Alien, among others)

Top notes: aldehydes, bergamot, rose

Middle notes: mimosa, cassie (another type of mimosa)

Base notes: sandalwood, vanilla

One thing I’ve learned in my sampling is that perfumes that smell weird to other people don’t smell weird to me. Maybe this means I’m weird. At any rate, Une Fleur de Cassie has been described by others as smelling like wet cardboard at best, and at worst like things I won’t mention here, except that they involve babies or the circus. Use your imagination.

Using my imagination is proving difficult for me, though, because I find Cassie a bit hard to describe. It’s centered around mimosa, a note I usually find too prim yet perky for my taste. But Cassie is neither of those things. It is lush and honeyed. This is another of those deliberately-retro scents, like a woman who only wears vintage clothing–that woman on a sultry summer night.

While racking my brain trying to think of a comparison for it (because you have to think of something while you’re walking to the bus stop), it occurred to me: There used to be (maybe still is) a line of erotic oils, unguents, etc. called Kama Sutra. They had a product I was fond of called Honey Dust. This was honey-scented (and flavored, for that matter) powder. So it smelled like honey and powder, in a hippy-dippy sort of way. And Une Fleur de Cassie is like that hippie honey powder–if a time warp brought it back to the Roaring Twenties. Got that?

Personality: I’d like to think I’m the sort to lounge about with kohl-rimmed eyes, but kohl is wasted behind glasses.

Comfort level: Like with Iris Poudre, there are aldehydes in the opening. It doesn’t always bother me, but it sometimes does, and we’re going zero-tolerance here, so I must regretfully reject it.

Preferences: Love it, but with reservations.

Rating: 5 out of 5

But I am not the rightful wearer of Une Fleur de Cassie.

 

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Unafraid of the Dark: Noir Epices

healthy holiday dry eating

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…by Michel Roudnitska, son of Edmond who did Le Parfum de Therese

Top notes: orange, geranium

Middle notes: clove, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper

Base: sandalwood, patchouli

Now THIS is “introverted but intense”!

If you’d told me I’d fall in love with a fragrance called “Black Spices,” I’d have said you were insane. I tried it, well, because it’s there. Also, the Malle website has a little abstract art for each scent, with the colors that represent it, and this one was the picture I liked best–black with bands of brilliant blue.

Noir Epices is simple, stern, and austere. First a “rind” of orange, tinged with geranium (kind of spicy in its own right, though not as much as the scent of carnation, which I hate), then a layer of the namesake spices–very dry, not sweet like the spices in Musc Ravageur. These two stages last only moments, though, before the fragrance settles into sandalwood, sweet in the way that wood can be sweet, and very smooth. The whole reminds me of a high-class version of Old Spice. Noir Epices is unisex, while Old Spice is marketed to men, but it was originally a women’s fragrance, called American Old Spice.

Surprisingly, as a long-time spice hater, I love this fragrance. Maybe it’s because the spices don’t last long enough to annoy me, and that smooth wood scent is gorgeous. It’s not comforting like Musc Ravageur is, but it makes me feel good anyway.

On to our criteria:

Personality–Oh, yes.

Comfort level–No problem.

Preferences–Again, surprised by the spices, but no problem again.

Verdict: I might be the rightful wearer of Noir Epices, but I still have a lot of ground to cover. Let’s call it a runner-up at this point.

 

Weighted Blanket: Musc Ravageur

closeup photo of silver tabby cat on red textile

Photo by Jenna Hamra on Pexels.com

…by Maurice Roucel

Top notes: bergamot, mandarin, lavender

Middle notes: cinnamon, vanilla, amber

Base notes: sandalwood, musk

This is The One, at least according to my adviser at Frederic Malle responding to my questionnaire. He did recommend a couple others to address specific concerns, but this is the one he recommended in response to my personality and style answers–the core of the argument, as it were.

I was a bit bemused by this, as Musc Ravageur is not one I would have thought likely for the honor–although I didn’t think I’d dislike it, either. Musk and woods,  with vanilla and sweet spices. And no flowers. It sounds like the scent equivalent of those weighted blankets they recommend to soothe anxiety–which seems so counter-intuitive that I feel a bit anxious just thinking about it. (I used to hate when my mother would tightly tuck me into bed, as if to keep me from falling out. I’d ruck the covers loose as soon as she left the room.)

But considering my specific answers to the questionnaire, I think I can see where he got the idea. I said I wanted my scent to be “introverted but intense.” Well, I don’t know how “Ravageur” I am–very cool name, though!–but this perfume does suit someone who sorts the laundry every week and ends up with a pile of dark clothes twice as big as the light-colored ones. Also, I said I usually wear “soft knits with dramatic jewelry,” and this is certainly Soft Knits with Dramatic Jewelry in a bottle.

The touch of brilliant citrus at the top leads quickly into the deep darkness of the other notes. I often find cinnamon problematic, in perfume as in food, but I like its use here; it keeps all those dark opaque notes from smelling flat. The fragrance gets increasingly vanillic as it wears, but the vanilla, though creamy, is also smudgy with musk and woods, so that this unisex scent is not too sweet for a man.

Opinions seem evenly divided on just how “Ravageur” this stuff is. I fall in the middle here. I wouldn’t recommend it if “clean and fresh” is the highest praise you could give a perfume. It is a straightforward fragrance, and a very sensual one. But it doesn’t smell like a hooker who’s been working too hard.

And so…

Personality: It could go either way, I suppose. It doesn’t smell flagrantly Not Me, but like I said, it wasn’t the first thing that came to my mind.

Comfort level: Surprise! In spite of my fears of being smothered, I feel comfortable with this from start to finish. Maybe I could use a weighted blanket after all.

Preferences: When I first tried it, while I liked it well enough, something in it reminded me of root beer–I guess the cinnamon and vanilla–and I don’t like root beer. But for some reason, the more time I spent with it, the less I smelled root beer, or the less bothered I was by that. By the last couple of wearings, I enjoyed it heartily all the way through.

Rating: For the above reason–most of the time, I’d have said 4 out of 5, but I’d have to give it a 5 for the last couple wearings. I guess this is why we sample first.

Verdict: I am reserving judgment at this time.

 

Blinding White: Lys Mediterranee

nature blue summer yellow

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

…by Edouard Flechier, the creator of Poison, a scent which will always make me think of partying at the old F.O.P. Club in the ’90’s. I shudder to think of how I probably over-sprayed it.

Notes: bergamot, orange blossom, jasmine, tuberose, ginger lily, clove, sea breeze accord, musk

This perfume is a study of ginger lilies. I’ve never smelled those, but I do have Casablanca lilies, and their blooming is an event every summer–creamy white, saucer-sized flowers,  gorgeously-scented, almost vanillic.

The idea with Lys Mediterranee (“Mediterranean Lily”) is to present the scent of ginger lilies permeated with Mediterranean sea spray, and I think the perfume accomplishes this brilliantly. There’s a leafy green note at first, then that magnificent lily smell, with a spiciness I assume is the “ginger” aspect. It gets softer and muskier as it dries down, but it is a bright scent throughout, like a day in the blazing sun.  The “sea spray accord” marks one of the few times I’ve sniffed a marine note without feeling queasy. It’s very subtle and well-done.

Yet another masterpiece floral portrait from the Malle line, but….

Personality-wise: I am not a white floral lover. I like to sniff them in small doses, not live with them. I am not a white floral sort of person, either. I doubt anyone has ever used the word “sultry” to describe me.

Comfort level: This scent actually grew on me with repeated sampling, but still, no. It’s not the smell itself, exactly, it’s just that it’s so bright. It’s like a blindingly bright day, and I’m not a sun-lover. Combine this with its potency–a mere dab is long-lasting and well-projecting, and I can’t imagine what a full-sized spray would be like. More than a drop is too much for me.

Preferences: Like I said, another in the I’d-like-to-smell-this-but-on-someone-else category. But if you love ginger lilies, I can’t imagine a better rendition.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Lys Mediterranee.

Pink Flamingo: Lipstick Rose

pink lipstick with green case

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…by Ralf Schwieger

Top notes: grapefruit, violet

Middle notes: rose, iris, raspberry

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, musk

For anyone who loves the smell of old-fashioned lipstick. This even has the somewhat-waxy smell that lipstick does. It starts out more floral and powdery, with a hint of fruit, ends up with more vanilla than flowers, but still lipsticky. This is such a retro scent that it’s a bit self-conscious, but it does what it sets out to do very well. It has a sense of humor–if you can imagine that in a perfume–in a modern, arch sort of way, like a pink flamingo placed on one’s lawn ironically.

What it reminds me of most is my mother, that lover of lipstick. Although I don’t know whether she’d be amused by this concept in perfume, or more bemused. (Her main comment about fragrance that I remember was, “I don’t know why all you girls wear musk oil now,” although I was not one of those girls.)

It did not take me long to form My Personal Opinion about this one:

Personality: So not-me, it might be the anti-me. This in spite of its prominent rose note.

Comfort level: It’s such a bad fit for me that I feel uncomfortable wearing it for that reason alone–it’s like clothes that don’t fit, although I do enjoy the vanillic drydown.

Preferences: I don’t dislike it, but I don’t find it compelling, either. It’s not one of those perfumes where I get all conflicted–“It isn’t me, but it smells so good!” (Creed Spring Flower comes to mind, which actually comes in a bright-pink bottle.) It’s just…OK. The very definition of…

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Final verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Lipstick Rose.

Blue Flame: Iris Poudre

beautiful bloom blooming blossom

Photo by Anthony on Pexels.com

…by Pierre Bourdon, creator of Davidoff Cool Water among other things

Top notes: aldehydes, rose, violet, ylang-ylang

Middle note: iris (orris)

Base notes: sandalwood, tonka bean, musk

This is the “bluest” scent I’ve ever smelled. It makes me think of the blue of a gas flame.

The scent of iris is actually derived from the roots (called orris), not the flower, and has a powdery, chalky, rooty quality. Iris Poudre means “Powdery Iris,” and this perfume emphasizes the more powdery, refined quality of iris, rather than its earthiness. (For emphasis on the earthy, vegetal quality, check out Iris Silver Mist, which I’ve reviewed previously, but I can’t get the link to work. For something less sinister than ISM, try Bois d’Iris by The Different Company.)

Iris Poudre is just beautiful. A bit powdery, but not smotheringly dusty, a bit floral, but not overwhelming, and blue, blue, blue. Quintessentially cool and sophisticated. The drydown warms up a bit as the wood and musk come out, but it never gets exactly cuddly.

Rating: 5 out of 5

So how does it stack up for me personally?

Personality–Well, non-cuddly is kind of a defining characteristic for me, so it works.

Comfort level–There’s a minor problem here. Iris Poudre is an aldehydic floral, like Chanel No. 5 or Chanel No. 22. Aldehydes are synthetics that give “lift” to a fragrance, rather like carbonation to a beverage. I’m not opposed to them on principle, but a little goes a long way. Iris Poudre has just a touch too much to suit me first thing in the morning.

Preferences: It is gorgeous in its blueness, but…

Final Verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Iris Poudre.

By the way, Rom is watching “Forged in Fire” on TV, watching people make knives, while I review perfume. It’s a gender-role festival!

 

Lilac Fanatic: En Passant

white petaled flowers

Photo by Lubov Tandit on Pexels.com

…by Olivia Giacobetti

Notes: white lilac, orange tree leaf, cucumber, wheat, white musk, cedar

I am not a lilac fanatic (although I do enjoy them), but if you are, you need to try this. It’s another “rainy” scent, and it’s like spring fever in a bottle.

Olivia Giacobetti is known for hazy, delicate scents (she did  Hiris and Passage d’Enfer , which I’ve reviewed previously), and this is a classic example. But it has a clean, wet-pavement sort of feel that makes it more “modern” (I hesitate to use that word, because what seems modern one year seems quaint and dated the next) than the description “lilac perfume” would seem to indicate. It’s supposed to evoke a lilac bush next to a bakery (the name means “Passing By” or “In Passing”), and I find the wheat note very apparent. Of course, being married to a baker might help in that regard.

There isn’t much more to say about it, it would seem. It’s a simple scent, but is so much greater than the sum of its parts. It is SPRING, with all the hopeful yearning that evokes. It’s nostalgic, without being old-fashioned. It’s a great fragrance.

Rating: 5 out of 5

But as it relates to me personally…

Personality: It’s not really me. Too pastel. It’s like a watercolor I’d admire in a gallery, but would feel no desire to buy.

Comfort level: This is my major problem with it. Something about it makes me queasy, even though I love the scent. I often have that reaction with aquatic or grain notes, and both are present here. So I feel a bit smothered after awhile.

Preferences: Like I said, great smell. But something I’d only want to sniff occasionally, preferably on other people.

Verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of En Passant.

 

Drinking Gin in the Rain: Angeliques sous la Pluie

road landscape nature forest

Photo by veeterzy on Pexels.com

…by Jean-Claude Ellena

Top notes: angelica, bergamot, pink pepper, juniper

Base notes: cedar, musk

Jean-Claude Ellena specializes in scents that are simple and light, usually inspired by nature. When I first smelled this one, I thought, “Gin and tonic, followed by buttered toast.” But several years later, with my Mad Men-style upbringing fading in the rear-view mirror (especially since I’ve never actually had a gin and tonic–that was more my parents’ generation), this perfume is growing on me. I’ve never smelled angelica herb, but I’m familiar with juniper, and “Angelica in the Rain” is the smell of juniper in the rain, bottled. It’s amazing how this captures the smell of rain–it actually smells “wet,” fresh and cool, with a bit of wet pavement added. Like the juniper bushes in my yard, growing next to the street.

The drydown is warmer, less wet, but still green, and woody with cedar. However, the whole show is over very quickly. The scent is very light and does not last long, but is so evocative while it lasts. Only a faint trace of woodsiness remains, like a memory.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Now for our Three Criteria:

–Does this suit my personality? Very much. It’s a “blue-gray” sort of scent, and probably the most spare and austere I’ve ever smelled.

–Comfort level–This is too light to cause any sensory overload. I’d have no problem spraying it on first thing in the morning, in fact, it would probably improve my mood. OR WHEN I HAVE TO GO TO THE DENTIST TOMORROW AFTERNOON, IN THE FROZEN COLD, BECAUSE A CROWN FELL OFF MY TOOTH LAST NIGHT. For the record, that will bother me less than getting up early in the morning, for any reason, would.

–Does it suit my preferences? Well, it’s taught me to appreciate the smell of juniper, but honestly, I would prefer my rain to fall on roses. (Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens actually are a few of my favorite things.) So this one  might rate more as Something I Think I Should Wear.

FINAL VERDICT: I don’t think I’m the rightful wearer of Angeliques sous la Pluie, but, like I said, it is growing on me.

Jasmine, Plum and Dr. Pepper: Le Parfum de Therese

clear glass mason jar with red jelly

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I was drawn to Frederic Malle’s line, Editions de Parfums, as soon as I heard of it. Of course, there’s the connection with literature–he calls the perfumers “authors,” and actually puts each one’s name on the bottle of the fragrance he or she created. I even love the black labels with red trim, inspired by the book bindings of a publishing house. Plus, Malle’s fragrances seem designed for a “signature scent” sensibility, rather than the “I need a tuberose to round out my collection” approach that seems to dominate today. I am a would-be scent monogamist, and when the Malle website says that a great fragrance has its “character, its colors, its rightful wearer,” it makes me want to discover which one I am the rightful wearer of. Kind of like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. In fact, the Frederic Malle folks have their own service in which you answer a questionnaire and they recommend scents for you. I will tell you which they recommended for me when we get there.

Malle himself offered pointers in Elle magazine (May 2017), which I will use as a checklist here. The right fragrance should:

  1. Suit your personality. This is not as simple as it sounds, as I have loved some scents which were emphatically not “me,” and ended up feeling as if I were wearing someone else’s clothes.
  2. Feel comfortable to wear. Many scents give me sensory overload when they’ve been on my skin for awhile–even fragrances I love. I plan to adopt a zero-tolerance policy here–even a moment of slight discomfort will disqualify a fragrance. My criterion: If I had to get up early (something I have loathed all my life) and go somewhere, would I be reluctant to spray this perfume on in my frazzled and crabby condition?
  3. And, of course, smell good to you. Again, seems like a no-brainer, but I tend to overthink things and go for something that I think I should like. This is how I ended up wearing Poison for most of the 80’s.

Which brings us, by way of plums, to our first scent to consider, Le Parfum de Therese (perfumer: Edmond Roudnitska).

Top notes: melon, mandarin, cucumber

Middle notes: plum, rose, jasmine

Base notes: vetiver, patchouli

Edmond Roudnitska created this fragrance for his wife, Therese, in 1961. It was not released to the public at the time, because no one was really doing fruit notes back then.

I should love this stuff. I like the idea of a fruity scent that is nevertheless sophisticated, a “dark” fruity fragrance if you will, like my beloved Mitsouko. Unfortunately, the opening of Therese gets under my skin, as well as on it. I blame jasmine–never a favorite of mine, and plum, which is the main note (the perfume was actually called Plum as a working title). I have occasionally enjoyed some of the sweeter varieties of plum, but basically I find this fruit too spicy. The plum note also unfortunately reminds me of Dr. Pepper, which makes the drydown smell a bit silly to me–especially since I don’t really get rose or patchouli from this.

So, according to our three criteria, my final assessment is:

  1. Does this suit my personality? Well, it doesn’t not suit it. I’m going to be liberal  in my interpretations here, unlike when it comes to–
  2. Comfort: Zero tolerance, remember. I do find the opening a bit irritating. If I were to spray this on at 7 in the morning, I’d want to hold my breath for the first few minutes.
  3. Does this suit my scent preferences? After the first few minutes, I like it, but I don’t love it.

Overall rating: 3 out of 5

Final verdict: I am not the rightful wearer of Le Parfum de Therese.

 

 

Raw Material

cash dollars hands money

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I’ve been suffering from a dearth of material since I retired, but I realized I have, at the moment, two past events and two future events to recount, PLUS a segue between the two categories, so here goes–counterfeit money + a 90th birthday party + physical therapy + perfume review introduction (you thought I’d forgotten about those, didn’t you?).

ADVENTURES IN COUNTERFEITING

I found a $20 bill on the floor at the Dollar General. If I’d seen someone drop it, I’d have returned it to them, but no one was around, so I snagged it.

It was crumply and had weird markings on it, but no more so than some other bills I’ve had. But I presented it at McDonald’s, and they knew it was wrong right away. “We’ll have to keep this, if you don’t mind,” the employee told me, but of course they’d have kept it whether I minded or not. Easy come, easy go, I said, and explained how I’d gotten hold of it. I also explained this to the nice officer who came to pick it up.

I tell this story belatedly because Nick, who was the first person I told it to after Rom, felt compelled to post it on Facebook.

Perhaps this is what my fortune cookie meant when it said I’d inherit some money this year, but I didn’t exactly inherit it, unless someone had fallen down dead in the dollar store and dropped it. I am also picturing the conversation if I had seen it fall out of someone’s hand–“Excuse me, you dropped this,” “No, never mind, it’s fake anyway.”

SOCIAL PAGE

I attended my mother-in-law’s 90th birthday party yesterday. An impressive number of people braved the cold and snow to be there. (In the interests of accuracy, I must note that she will not actually turn 90 until Wednesday.) It is the job of Trexa and myself at these gatherings to sit in the corner and mutter about how loud everyone else is. I am betting this was the loudest 90th birthday party I’ll ever attend, and possibly the loudest anyone will ever attend. Unfortunately, the corner we were sitting in was right in front of the card/gift table, and people kept handing me things and asking me to put them on the table behind me. However, I’ve developed a condition called “frozen shoulder,” and I can’t really reach behind me. So I’d hand the items to Trexa, and she’d put them on the table. Yes, it takes two people to put a birthday card in a basket.

Now this is where the segue comes in. You might remember my dislocated finger 2 years ago, and the 5 months of therapy that followed. Well, I start physical therapy for this shoulder tomorrow, and it should be good for a few weeks of whining at least.

Also coming up at some point–reviews of the entire Frederic Malle perfume line. They will be widely interspersed, though, so you can gather your strength between reviews.

 

 

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