Thursday, April 18, 2019

Seven Perfume Cravings that Prove I’ve Lost My Mind

Photo by Beata Cervin. You can read more here.

It’s not that I’ve stopped wearing Miel de Bois, thick velvety chypres, or any old amber-vanilla-sandalwood bombs. I do it with aplomb like we all did in the  80s, with one extra spritz for good luck. Every now and then, though, say once a week, I get a craving for something very very different. Sheer florals, wet florals, light musky florals, too prim and proper perfumes, fragrance styles that don’t go with my hair... Who is this person and why is she hoarding various Bvlgari Tea perfume samples in the bottom drawer of her nightstand? I can’t even blame spring, because the madness started over a year ago and has been fairly consistent throughout two winters, especially at bedtime or as a scent for the first couple hours of the day (until I’m fully awake, I guess).
  • Last year around this time I’ve told you how I fell in love with a most unlikely perfume, Linen Rose by Aerin. If that wasn’t enough, Sephora and a few department stores were pushing samples of another Aerin, the 2015 release Mediterranean Honeysuckle, one of their regular EdPs. I’m a sucker for honeysuckle, real and in perfume, so maybe it’s not a surprise that I fell for it. Still, the honeysuckle note here is steeped in citrus juice and heavily bleached by sunshine. It could have easily been a Jo Malone perfume, but who cares? It’s pretty and have lighted up many a dreary morning over winter.
  • Speaking of Jo Malone, this one is a sad craving because I missed out on the limited edition Wisteria and Violet from their 2014 London Rain collection. I held on to samples and hesitated for too long because it wasn’t what I envisioned as "my thing". It sold out rather quickly and that was it. The wisteria in my own garden is about a week away from blooming. We planted it by the deck, right next to the picture window of the living room, so its scent will burst in for a few days. It’s a gorgeous and fleeting moment, just like visiting London, my favorite city, and taking it in, trying to mentally tattoo every sensation and memory onto my heart. A bottle of this Jo Malone would have done me a world of good.
  • In a sharp turn from these modern fresh florals, here’s a retro one with billowing sleeves and a touch of melancholy. I’ve actually loved Nocturnes de Caron for many years despite or because it was clearly a perfume for a different woman. I’m not into astrology in any form, but I’m willing to bet no one familiar with Nocturnes would ever assign it to a Scorpio. I still feel a little like a pretender when I’m wearing it, but again, whatever. I might be a pretender but I smell like a proper lady.
  • This is where I’m feeling like a hypocrite because I’m over By Kilian and the various aspirational shenanigans of this Lauder-owned brand (yes, Aerin and Jo Malone are also part of the monster), yet I’m completely and utterly in lust with their Moonlight In Heaven. Let’s blame it on my severe coconut allergy that makes me compensate for it through coconut perfumes. Moonlight is a tropical pudding served alongside peeled wedges of sweet citrus fruit, and it all comes in clear glass bowls that reflect the light of the sunset from the beach. Obviously I’m in a need of a real vacation.
  • Fleur de Peau by Diptyque is another example of a “somebody else’s perfume”. It’s an iris, I’ll give you that, but of the very soapy and musky variety that I tend to skip (think Iris Poudre without all the poudre). It’s not makeupy, not particularly sexy, has none of the shadow and light of the truly great iris perfumes, but it’s pretty and actually warms up on the skin if you manage to make it last. Goes well with a vintage dress, pearls and opal, real hardcover books read by the open window, and beautiful cursive handwriting. I want to have a day like that every once in a while. Maybe I'll even do something with my hair in its honor.
  • This is where you get to wonder whether I’ve been abducted by aliens and replaced with a pod person. Last week I received a PR package from Elizabeth Arden. It had the original 2017 White Tea and the two new flankers, Vanilla Orchid and Wild Rose. Vanilla Orchid is a quince preserve that was cooked with a bit of vanilla but the pod was removed too early and not scraped into the jelly. Wild Rose scares me enough to wait until I can test it with a couple of friends. But it’s the original one that I suddenly find compelling (Reese Witherspoon is the campaign’s face, but it feels like she’s doing it in character as Madeline from Big Little Lies. That’s a good thing). I’m pretty sure I’m anosmic to at least half the structure of this fragrance because I’m not sure that in a blind test I can tell it apart from the Bvlgari one with the same name. I get a suspiciously cheerful citrusy white musk, slightly hysterical in its over-enthusiasm. It’s what you wear after finishing to KonMarie your entire home while you can still hear Marie Kondo’s giggly “ping” of the sparking joy moment.

  • Romulo Sans, Returned Gods, 2012
  • I thought that I was done with Chanel and we were never ever getting back together (told you: abducted, replaced, mind is gone). Between the disgrace that is Gabrielle, the travesty of L’Eau, and the gut job they did on the Les Exclusifs I’ve completely lost interest in anything they have to offer other than the makeup. Oh my god, the makeup! But the perfumes I’ve loved are ruined and the one I hated are now tolerable which is weird yet not enough of  a reason to wear Jersey. Then came 1957, the most recent Les Exclusif eau de parfum and I’m a goner. It’s both very modern using layer upon layer of white musk, perhaps the most synthetic of notes, but the layers are laminated in buttery florals like the dough of a French puff pastry. The sparkling citrus wrapped around young orange blossoms tames the animalic tendencies of this note. Normally I’d object to such treatment but somehow it works here. While the composition is new and even experimental for Chanel there’s still a nostalgic hint of real Chanel DNA when I’m wearing it. The world was quite nasty in 1957 if you weren’t a white man, middle class and above; as was Mademoiselle herself, so we need to be careful with the fake nostalgia. However, the 50s aesthetics can be enjoyed at face value, ironically, or as a guilty pleasure. That’s exactly how I’m going to feel when I order a bottle along with the newest Chanel makeup collection.


  1. You know you haven't lost your mind!!! I also have developed an unnatural "craving" for the scent of coconut. It started when I bought a coconut scented deodorant of all things. Then I had to have body wash, shampoo, etc. THEN, I noticed on the Neiman Marcus site Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Coconut Fizz EdT and ALMOST succumbed. Have you sampled this one? I still wonder if I might love it and if I should buy a bottle.

  2. After mistakenly purchasing many bottles of "I must own it now" floral scents, I've now implemented a decant-only for new perfume purchases. I've been tempted by many but after seeing decants languish, I'm reminded it's a good decision. The only 'fresh & floral' that I wear with any regularity is Linden by Provance Sante.

  3. Nocturnes de Caron--why not for a Scorpio?

    Chanel--(when) did they revamp their scents? Which ones? (Only Les Exclusifs, or more than just that collection? Is my No. 22, from 2006, okay?)

    I got into scent in 2006, but stopped wearing scent in any shape or form once I became pregnant, in late 2008. Got too sensitive to it. Can only wear scent on my clothes. Have just started doing so, as well.

    1. Unknown. I think the Les Exclusifs were discontinued in eau de toilette concentration and re-released in eau de parfum. The IFRA has been gradually restricting certain ingredients used in perfumery; in all likelihood, your beloved No. 22 has been reformulated. To what extent I'm not certain.
      If I recall, the Les Exclusifs No. 22 in edt had a lovely sparkly effervescent quality that disappeared in the edp version.
      If you can get your hands on vintage No. 22, it has a quiet meditative quality and the incense base drydown is lovely.

  4. I've been curious about Diptyque Fleur de Peau. Need to walk myself over to the boutique and give it a sniff. I love the taste of coconut. I absolutely cannot stand the scent of it in my perfume or skincare products. So shoot me now, because I must be one of only two people who likes Chanel Gabrielle. Bought a bottle of that and of the Chanel Les Eaux Paris-Venise. I like that they're easier to wear in a world where people complain when I wear Safari, Opium or Portrait of A Lady. I've always loved Bvlgari Thé Verte and Omnia Crystalline. I have a hard time wearing rich scents in the summer when it hits 100 or 105 degrees.

  5. No specific comment other than I.Love.Your.Blog.
    I have been reading your blog for years yet this might be my first comment.
    The love of perfume is pervasive and needs to be contemplated on a number of emotional and mental levels. Isn't it interesting that we frequently read of someone enjoying a perfume that "isn't really 'them'", whatever that means. I think each of us has a notion of who we are in our own lives and who we are in terms of what other people think of us. Sometimes those two notions intersect but, frequently, what we think of ourselves and what we "think" other people think of us are wildly different.
    Our preferences in perfume sometimes change according to the season of our life or the season of the weather. I think it is remarkable and exciting that preferences can be set for years at a time, and then depending on some whim which takes us a completely different direction, that then becomes our set preference. Amazing, really, don't you think?
    I've always been a woman who has preferred scents like Coco and Coromandel and Ambre Russe....and yet now I'm attracted to Bvlgari Au The' Blanc and Un Jardin Sur le Nil.
    I'm still "me", so it's all good.
    Thank you so much for your words, your skill at expressing your thoughts and for your blog.
    I greatly missed TheNonBlonde while you were away.


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