Monday, June 13, 2011

Ask The Non-Blonde: Perfume, On A Personal Note

Here's another collection of questions I've received lately in comments and by email. Tonight's theme is perfume, of course, with a more personal focus.

  • Is there a perfume from your past you're a little ashamed to admit liking and wearing?
I'm trying, but I can't think of anything too shameful. I've already reviewed and told the stories of just about every perfume I used to wear in my teens and early 20s: Tamango (Leonard), Creation (Ted Lapidus), Le Jardin (Max Factor), Eternity and many more. I still need to revisit stuff like Anais Anais, but I'm not ashamed in any of them just as I don't expect a medal for wearing Paloma Picasso at age 19.  Probably the most meaningless perfume I ever bought was the original Island by Michael Kors when it first came out, just because I loved (still do) the original Michael. I wore it a handful of times before selling the bottle.

  • What's the one perfume note you hate the most?
This one is easy, in theory. I tend to really dislike melon and aquatics, but things aren't so simple. Frederic Malle La Parum de Therese has a melon note that works beautifully in that context, and I have learned that there's something good in every perfume genre. A salty marine note can be absolutely amazing in perfumes like Roxana Villa's GreenWitch or that seaweed wonder of Miller Harris, Fleur de Sel.

  • What perfume would you prefer never to smell again?
It's a tie between Secretion Magnifique and Eau d'Issey Pour Homme.

  • What is the first perfume you remember smelling?
Maja. When I was very (very!) little, even before she began wearing Chloe, my mom received it as a gift and stashed it in one of her dresser drawers. She never wore it but the scent was so strong and distinct I never forgot it.

  • How do you test perfumes? How long do you test before writing a review?
I'm notorious for taking my time to test, wear and form an opinion. I do my best to get as many samples as I can, so I can transfer them into a tiny spray vial after the first dabbing. I try to test indoors and out, on cold and warm skin and just get the most thorough impression I can. I often also get the husband to try so I;m able to smell a perfume on a different skin.

  • What's your favorite note in perfume?
I really can't choose. Leather? Iris? Civet? Musk? Amber? Fig? Hyacinth? Oakmoss? All of the above?

  • A celebrity that should never ever have a perfume is...
Tracy Morgan.

  • What's on your current perfume wishlist?
Way too many things. Several bottles from DSH,  Parfumerie Generale, acouple of bell jars, Ormonde Jayne, Guerlain, all the JAR perfumes I don't yet own... I never said I was a cheap date.

  • A discontinued perfume you miss the most?
Sigh. So many. Too many. And I'm not sure I don't mourn atrocious reformulations even more. A recent and painful goner is Panthere de Cartier, but also Tom Ford Private Blend Moss Breches, Sonia Rykiel La Parfum, the first Jil Sander perfumes, the entire Gobin-Daude line. I could go on for days.

  • Follow-up to a recent post: so who would you like to make your bespoke perfume?
I'm so glad this is just hypothetical and I don't have to actually make a choice, but I'd say it's probably a tie between Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Andy Tauer. They are the perfumers who seem to get me the most.

  • How many perfumes do you wear in one day?
Between 1 and four.

  • A (perfume) trend that you pray would go away?
People not wearing any.

  • Do you have a "the one (bottle) that got away"?
Oh, do I! There was an eBay auction for Jacques Fath Iris Gris that I lost a few years ago. I should have just bid a kidney.

  • What perfume would you choose for Kate and William's wedding? (the question was asked before the actual wedding. What would you wear as a guest?
I assume it has to be something British, so an Ormonde Jayne, without any doubt. Ormonde Woman, probably, but I guess she's more of a floral girl so maybe Frangipany. For myself I'd go with something classic and very dressy like vintage Dior or Guerlain. Or maybe I'd decide to fumigate the cathedral with some Miel de Bois, because I can.

  • What do you wear on days you're having hard time picking one scent?
Lutens Clair de Musc or Bas de Sois, MPG Iris Bleu Gris, Chanel Eau Premier or the classic No. 5, some form of Shalimar, Annick Goutal Ninfeo Mio or one of the husband's many vetivers.

  • Given the chance to ask your Uncle Serge one question, what would it be?
I'd like to ask him to explain in plain English what exactly he was thinking when he put his name on L'Eau, but that would probably be a waste of a good question. A better choice would be to ask him about the magic of Nombre Noir and if there's any chance of a relaunch.

  • Do your cats respond to perfume? Anything specific they like or dislike?
As far as I can tell, my cats don't enjoy perfume. Don't don't respond to musk or other animalics, but they're fine with me wearing stuff as long as I don't try to cuddle them right after spraying. I think my three males are a little more sensitive to perfume than the females, but I never researched it.

Thank you to all who asked questions. It's always fun.

Photo of Rita Hayworth applying perfume: Glamour Magazine.


  1. Great post. I love perfume but can't really endulge my passion since most perfumes give me headaches. I enjoy testing in the shops though based on your reviews. For wear, I choose chanel no5 and blu mediterrane capri as both are light and inoffensive.

  2. This is an awesome Q&A. I actually snorted out loud when you responded to the celebrity that should never have a scent.

    I fear of what that would smell like!

  3. That was a really fascinating read! I too had a Paloma Picasso moment in my teens. Good to hear I wasn't alone...

  4. Interesting about the kids! Charlie takes off the minute I reach for a scented body lotion or cream before bed. I ask him, "What's the deal?" He doesn't stay around long enough to answer.

    A few minutes later, he returns as if no scent intruded on his life.

  5. Gaia that was a nice insight into your perfume life. Thanks for sharing.

  6. BiaC, I'm glad you're having fun testing. One can never ever go wrong with No.5. It just works.

  7. Thanks, Lexi. I don't even want to guess what would be in a Tracy Morgan scent. After all, homophobia really stinks.

  8. Jane, I remember spraying myself with abandon... can you imagine? But it was 1989, we were allowed.

  9. A., your Charlie is such a character. My Lizzy will sometimes try to lick the scent away from my skin and Kosh has a thing for licking eye cream.

  10. Thanks, Michael. I tried to choose the best questions (or at least the ones that didn't have obvious answers).

  11. If you like iris, have you tried Iris d'Argent by Keiko Mecheri? I'd love to hear your opinion on it, since I'm quite torn...

  12. Virginia, I tried it and liked it, but it was a while ago. I think I tried it side by side with her other iris, I think it was called purple something or other, but Iris d'Argent was clearly the superior one. Thanks for reminding me I should revisit (so many perfumes, so few wrists).

  13. For your next addition of "ask" here it is... My body chemistry apparently does not retain a single scent of ANYTHING. Numerous perfumes are purchased and applied, and they all seemingly evaporate without the slightest hint of any scent. Doesn't matter how concentrated the scent. Suggestions?

  14. Elsie, I'll definitely remember that. It's a great topic.

  15. Hi Gaia! i just discovered your blog... and considering that you know a lot about perfume, I wanted to ask you a question ... spent years trying to find a perfume (discontinued now, I guess), called Eau de Sauvage or something similar, but not the Dior's, it was a perfume that I got when I was little... i remember that the label was turquoise and gold i think, delicious, I have never found again a perfume similar ...Any idea what perfume is it? thank you very much Gaia... and sorry for my poor English ... byeee!


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