Scratchy Glitter

Observations for the easily irritated.

Tag: perfume

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.

 

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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

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…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.

Lilac Fanatic: En Passant

white petaled flowers

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…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.

 

This Is Not a Story

buildings bus business car

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OK, I did not see when I inserted this photo that it’s a trolley, not a bus, but it will have to do, because I don’t know how to dis-insert it.

Hey, I made up “dis-insert” and spellcheck didn’t correct me! It guess it’s thinking, She hyphenated it, so it must be legit. Or maybe spellcheck has just given up on me.

AT ANY RATE, Facebook has decided that my status updates are a “story,” prompting me with “Add to your story!” Um, I just wanted to mention that the cat threw up today. Yes, that is what my last post on Facebook was. This is why we have the Internet.

AT ANY RATE, my life is not a “story,” but a series of disjointed episodes. Here is one.

A PERFECT STORM ON THE BUS

My heart sank as I approached the bus stop today, because it was already occupied by the Family of Five. This is five people, a couple, two daughters and a son, who prefer to spend their money on smartphones for each person rather than on body wash and laundry detergent. I always let them get on the bus first, so I can sit as far away as possible.

The man of the house was wearing a t-shirt that said, “I Used To Be a People Person, Until People Changed That.” Funny, that’s the same thing I was thinking when I saw him!

When I came up, they were discussing swords, in particular those seen in video games. The talk then shifted, logically enough, to guns. The lady of the house asked, “What’s the largest caliber gun you’ve ever shot? Mine was a Browning machine gun. The guy who gave it to me told me not to ask how he got it. I used it to kill a chicken. That chicken didn’t even get the whole squawk out.” Her daughter then asked, sensibly enough, “Why did you use a machine gun to kill a chicken? You wouldn’t be able to eat it.” She said, “Well, they were diseased chickens! They couldn’t be sold!” Come to think of it, Killing Diseased Chickens With a Machine Gun would have been a good title for this post.

Our heroine then asked, rhetorically enough, “You wanna know what things I most missed when the house burned down? My three swords, and my Hellraiser action figures. It took me fifteen years and thousands of dollars to collect those.” Who knew?

Once on the bus, my heart sank further still when Dave got on at Walmart. You may remember Dave as the guy whose idea of a clever pickup line was, “You look like you’re goin’ for that wannabe-Goth look.” The bus was crowded, so Dave and his fifty Walmart bags had to be next to me. Dave then regaled us with a list of every celebrity he knows of who came from Tennessee. Followed by every corporation with headquarters in Tennessee. I don’t know what got him started on that state. Also, Dave has no indoor voice, so having him next to me made me want to crawl out of my skin. I’m just glad he wasn’t talking to me, because he can’t tell when you’re trying to ignore him, and kept saying to the bus driver, “You know who else came from Tennessee? Hey! You hear me?” Kind of like the camel in the Geico commercial. If he had tried conversing with me, he’d have been sorry. It’s like it was at work–“Well, I hate having someone sit with me, too, but what can you do? You have to make small talk.” Watch. Me.

Then the guy on the other side of me said, “I’m on my way to the cemetery, to check if a couple motherfackers are still in there.” Um, OK.

As if in recompense, the bus on the way home was absolutely empty, so I enjoyed my private charter service.

A TOPICAL NOTE

This is the first Super Bowl I’ve ever had an opinion about. My opinion is that neither team deserves to be there.

NEW FRONTIERS IN CORPORATE WEASELDOM

I denounce thee, CVS! You have stickers on all your perfumes, saying “Special Price.” And the special price is…the same price as usual, just in red and yellow lettering. Fie upon you! I don’t know what “fie” is, but obviously it’s something you don’t want to get on you.  For the record, I did not buy any perfume, but I did note approvingly that they stock Aramis, my favorite men’s scent, and possibly my favorite smell ever.

Drinking Gin in the Rain: Angeliques sous la Pluie

road landscape nature forest

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…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 Prune 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.

 

 

Vampire Cat

white and black cat lying on floor

Photo by Min An on Pexels.com

Disclaimer: Photograph is an approximation of the cat in question.

Sometimes living with small predators can make you think twice. Yesterday Rom cut his hand just-short-of-needing-stitches badly while woodcarving, and came in dripping blood on the floor. I started wiping it up, with Cat Esmerelda beside me, watching . Then Rom asked me to help him bandage it in the bathroom. When I came back to the kitchen, the remaining drops of blood were gone. So we have a vampire cat. It’s like a vampire bat, but without wings.

“Vampire Cat, Vampire Cat

Does whatever a vampire does

Can she fly through the air?

She cannot, she’s a cat.”

Or, “Vampire Cat, doo doo doo doo doo doo…” (And why has there been no word of a Baby Shark movie? Sure, there’s not much to work with, but that’s never stopped Hollywood before.)

The weird thing is, Ez seems like the least bloodthirsty cat we’ve had. She doesn’t bite or scratch, even in play. She’s just a little scavenger.

FURTHER THOUGHTS ON MY FORTHCOMING INHERITANCE

The fortune said an “unexpected” amount of money. Well, any amount would be unexpected at this point. Also, it would be hard to unexpectedly inherit money “in bed,” unless you’re Melania Trump. Speaking of which, Donald said he prefers to call it a “strike” rather than a “shutdown.” Well, I prefer to call it a tantrum. So there.

Nick is not doing well at sucking up, thinking that I am actually endeared by his insolence.

He was tickled to find out (hey, maybe he should be tickled! How much money would that be worth, hmm?) that my username in the International Perfume Community is CobraRose. Hey, the purpose of the Internet is to give yourself a cool nickname.

Easter Eve: L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer

(Note: The below is an excerpt of my review of this fragrance on makeupalley, and no, I don’t know how I got the photo in that awkward location, and all my attempts to fix it only make it worse.)

I joined MUA to find my signature scent–a concept I’ve always loved, even though one hears the term “fragrance wardrobe” more often these days. I also asked my husband for input, since I really had no idea where to start. He said, “You should smell like cool, misty dusk or dawn in an interesting place.” I referred this poetic description to the MUA fragrance board, and they recommended notes like sandalwood and incense. DH then elaborated on his suggestion, saying my perfume should evoke “a chapel that smells at the same time like the fresh wood when it was newly built, and like the incense that’s been burned there for years–that chapel at dawn.” He actually got a little choked up, describing this fragrance for me. Two of the specific fragrances the board recommended were woodsy/incense scents–Tam Dao and Passage d’Enfer. Tam Dao is more Asian temple incense. Passage d’Enfer is churchy, so that’s what I ordered a bottle of, all the while thinking, “They can’t get everything he said into a bottle.” Well, that’s exactly what they did, plus a “bonus” gray-stone note which completes the mood perfectly. The wood note is light and bright, as is the lily. The incense is also airy, and only a little smoky–as if the incense is not burning now, but has been recently. The tawny feline sweetness of benzoin becomes more noticeable in the drydown, as it mingles with the musk. I liked this fragrance immediately, but it took me awhile to fully appreciate and love it. It’s comfortable in any weather, appropriate for any occasion. But it’s not merely wearable. It’s also lovely, elegant, and distinctive. It’s composed of contrasts, marvelously resolved–rich yet light, smoky yet fresh, or, to quote my husband yet again, “intoxicating yet austere. It makes me want to bite you.”

I wrote that in 2004. So why is my signature-scent question still not settled? (A question all the more pressing, considering I first started looking when I was 14.) Two reasons:
     1. Do I like PdE better than the perfume of my dreams, Mitsouko?, and
     2. Shouldn’t I really be wearing a rose scent?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

gray concrete column inside vintage building

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