Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Nose Plays Funny Tricks

My love of the not-quite-feminine woody fragrance has been growing exponentially this winter. It's not that I'm not rocking some powdery vanilla scents or ambery roses, but some days it's all about bark, resinous sap and evergreen treetops.

Heeley's Cardinal isn't supposed to be in the evergreen category. The notes as listed on Luckyscent are incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli, vetiver. Reviews all over the net talk about darkness and church. Being Jewish, I'm not exactly the biggest authority on such matters, but I swear, on my skin it was just pine. My skin has eaten every note and all the depth and left me with nothing but the memory of pine-scented liquid soap from my childhood (to which I developed a terrible itchy allergy). It wasn't so bad once I layered it with my beloved Anat Fritz, though. It added a much needed dimension.

Woody fragrances are perfumes that I try to share with my husband. Sometimes with interesting results. The first time I tried Anat Fritz he quite liked it on me. What's not to like? Lavender, cedar, sandalwood and a few other dry woody notes. I've talked about it here and have gotten a full bottle that I enjoy very much. I still need to decant it into a spray atomizer, so I can use it on my sweaters and coats, but in the meantime I enjoy wearing it. A few weeks ago, I asked my husband to wear it. I figured that he'd enjoy it just as much as his Gris Clair.

The results were quite surprising. To my nose it was stunning. Lavender loves him. However, The Blond hated it. With a passion. He grew up on a dairy farm and has spent way too much time unloading wood shaving to line the ground for the cows, which was exactly what this fragrance made him think about. This is the farm boy who didn't flinch when smelling Ferme Tes Yeux. He just couldn't stand the cage lining note here.

It is no wonder that the first time I tried Diptyque's L'Eau Trois he had a similar reaction. So much so, that I washed it off immediately, not letting it go past the opening, which is very cedary in its most woody interpretation. But I had to try it again. I put it on one day when The Blond was still at work. The wood chips were quickly gone, replaced with this gorgeous aroma of sun-soaked Mediterranean shrubs and herbs. I could smell the dusty green quality of the green, the crispness of the twigs, and the feeling of a long sunny afternoons.

The beauty of this drydown was not lost on my husband. He approves a full bottle. Maybe I'll even share it with him.

(A big thank you to March from Perfume Posse for the sample and this new love)


  1. So glad you liked the Trois! I'm always trying to win new converts for that strange, wonderful resin-bomb. I'm afraid they'll discontinue it; they probably sell 15 bottles a year.

    Did I send you the horifyingly lavender-ish Elide? Also a scent that might work on The Blond.

    BTW I have been sniffing several times with a woman who has completely different skin chemistry than mine. The same fragrances are sometimes barely identifiable on us, it's pretty funny.

  2. Hmmm, I have samples of Cardinal and Anat Fritz that I haven't gotten around to trying yet. Now I'm concerned. I've found that the ones with lots of woody notes tend to dry down to pure sharp wood on me.

    But I'll still give them a try eventually. There's always soap!

  3. March- Yes, you sent me Elide but I didn't get any of the lavender. It was all candied orange peel and The Blond wrinkled his nose at it. I should make him try it, just to see if the lavender comes out.

    I'm definitely a Trois convert and so is he. I have no idea why people hate it so much. It's a strange one, for sure, but so good! Thank you so much for leading me in the right direction.

  4. Gail- They are both worth trying. Maybe you'll be lucky with Heeley and it would do what it's supposed to on your skin. It has more than just woody notes. At least in theory.
    The Anat might not be easy for you to wear, but still worth trying, and maybe layering with someting a tad sweeter. It's a very dry scent on my skin, but the drydown has lots of beauty.

  5. LOVE Heeley Cardinal - no pine needles!! Maybe you should try the Bliss 'Spaahh'-kling Body Butter mybe it will be reverse pine needles on you. LOL What ever that means.

  6. I don't know why people hate it either. The stuff on Basenotes says "cat pee" and "hamster cage" if I'm remembering correctly... I get a wonderful, resin-y incense smell while standing near the herb garden, and cannot figure out what their problem is.

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