The Playful (Perfume Thoughts, Scherzo, Miller Harris)

o.54020I stayed at a friend’s mansion in San Francisco recently and, of course, while I was there, raided to use his perfume collection. He pointed me to his ‘new acquisitions,’ which were the bottles he recently got from his trip to Paris. I immediately gravitated towards Scherzo, from Miller Harris. I knew nothing about it, and upon first spritz, fell in love with it.  I did not even know what the word meant, and was fascinated by its meaning:  a vigorous, light, or playful composition, typically comprising a movement in a symphony or sonata.

But first, the perfume’s  very beautiful back story. Miller Harris, for inspiration, gave two perfumers, this quote from F Scott Fittzgerald’s ‘Tender Is The Night:’

When this died away on the summer air, she walked on, between kaleidoscope peonies massed in pink clouds, black and brown tulips and fragile mauve stemmed roses, transparent like sugar flowers in a confectioner’s window-until, as if the scherzo of colour could reach no further intensity, it broke off suddenly in mid-air…”

Scherzo is Mathieu Nardin’s interpretation, and he first impression is a bit literal, with the burst of sweet rose from the top notes. I don’t know if it is necessarily too-sweet as sugar flowers, but on my skin, the darkness quickly comes in, in the mixture of oud and patchouli that’s instantly heady and cashmere-like. It was perfect in the windy cold deceptively-sunny San Francisco weather, and it added a lot of mystery to our day’s adventures there. I wonder if, had the weather been a bit warmer, the sticky rose would have lasted more, and this makes me want to wear this again when the temperature is higher. But as it is, this is a great scent that has character. It is strong and massive, with great sillage and lasting power. I know this would be a great addition to my wardrobe, and now want to test ‘Tender,’ which is Bertrand Duchafour’s take on the same Fitzgerald quote.


Call Me, Cumin (Perfume Thoughts: L’Autre, Diptyque)

51pn+WiQUPL._SY355_There was a time when I really hated cumin as a perfume note.  The sweaty, dirty aspect of the note really turned me off, because it always reminded me of body odor. Even as a spice, I avoided it. Whenever I see it listed on an entree, I always looked at it like a deal breaker for me not to order. Perfume wise, though, it always fascinated me, and I proudly have a lot of these sweaty, stinky scents in my wardrobe.

One of which is Diptyque’s L’Autre. I got this at the Diptyque Sample Sale in New York, and never really liked it. I never got rid of the bottle and very rarely (never) used it. So when I randonly opened it from my boxes from storage, I just went in, close my eyes, and sprayed. Yes, that cumin note is there, and I still think it smells like body odor, but I really warmed up to this. Paired with a bright citrus accord, I appreciated its ying and yang, framed by the freshness of the citrus ( I think its cardamom, based on the notes from Diptyque) It is very peppery, and the base has that dirty patchouli note, though this is a tidy patchouli, and on my skin not as soily. I am enjoying it, even with the hot-and-cold Los Angeles late summer weather (70s during the day, low 60s by night) I like the bloom of the perfume, with its earthiness, and dankness. And maybe as an added bonus – a friend of mine hates it with a passion. (Got to keep them on their toes)

All the Bitterness (Perfume Thoughts: Honeysuckle and Davana, Jo Malone)

375x500.51266When I first tried Jo Malone ‘Honeysuckle and Davana,’ I couldn’t decide if I really liked it.  I was at Bloomingdale’s walking on my way to lunch and spritzed it, and almost forgot about it. Then I started to sniff my arms where I sprayed and I thought it was quite mossy. I guess I was expecting a sweet honeysickle flower. The weird thing is that we went to a Jo Malone stand alone store after lunch and I sprayed again, and this one felt more flowery, as if blooming on a summer day.  I asked, could he department store version be different? (‘Of course not,’ she says) Maybe I just missed the top notes earlier – which smells like a flower out in the sun, faded by the glare. It’s a bit like shampoo accord, for sure, but its brightness was unmistakable. And then the green – the mossy notes come in, and it adds that bitterness that I was talking about earlier. And then I am instantly reminded of a fragrance I have known since childhood: Cacharel’s Anasis Anais, with its floral/green/mossy combination. Suddenly, I started to love this scent more. I asked for a proper sample and now I am trying it for a day and I already feel like it should belong in my wardrobe. It’s very un-Jo Malone like, too – it is not light and airy, and this has tenacious strength. A small bottle may be in order.

Once There Was Calyx (Perfume Thoughts: Calyx, Clinique)

1813168_fpxBack in the late 80s, a scent caught my ears: Prescriptives Calyx. I remember it being a fruity floral before I knew what a fruity floral was, and I loved wearing it in the summertime when I wanted to smell like ripe fruit (ready for the pickin’) I remember it became somewhat of a ‘signature scent’ of a very young me, and I remember being scared going to the women’s Prescriptives counter wanting to buy it. (As it turns out, Prescriptives’ liquid foundation was my first ‘grown up’ foundation brand anyway so it became a one-stop shop)  Prescriptives, of course, is no longer, and Estee Lauder wisely never discontinued Calyx, and it is now under the Clinique umbrella. Aparrently the perfume has a bit of a following, from I would guess people of the same age range as myself.

But here I am today wearing Calyx, and I marvel at it. It’s fruit concoction is as potent as ever – a mixture of grapefruit, guava, papaya. The hothouse lily of the valley heart is pungent as ever, and the berry drydown still juicy. This is a unique scent, so well-made in the vein of its day (Sophia Grojsma, she of YSL Opium is the nose) and this perfume brings me to a time I was younger, less jaded, almost innocent. And you know what? it still works perfectly on my screen, and I don’t think the current version is as reformulated as other big titles. It’s a bit loud than more modern perfumes, I suspect, but I don’t care. I will still wear it proudly.

A Perfect Ten (Perfume Thoughts: Mon Numero 10, L’Artisan)

barneys-10I have gotten some of my perfumes from storage and I am slowly – very slowly – unpacking them. (I don’t have a permanent place for them yet so I can’t really open them all) I marvel at the way my sister packed them, all in bubble wrap so safe and preserved. I do this game of randomly opening one, as if a surprise, and more often than not, I am delighted. One of my recent delights is finding that I have a 30 ml bottle of L’artisan’s Mon Numero Uno. I remember getting this from a L’Artisan sale at Nordstrom, and I remember thinking at the time – isn’t this rare? Well, it kind of is. This is one of then ten fragrances that Bertrand Duchafour crafted for the house and they sold exclusively (and at a prohibitive price) around 2008 – exclusively at Barneys, if I recall correctly. I never sniffed them because i thought to myself I would never be able to afford them anyway ( a bottle was $20,000 I think)  This is a fairly small bottle of it, and I am guessing this was part of a gift set or an exclusive pressing. In any event, I am glad to own such a (I hope) rarity.  As for the fragrance itself, this is a nice solid leather scent. It’s a spicy leather, not soft buttered like a handbag or tanny like a wallet. It is accompanied by spices – I get cardamom for sure. And it is pretty linear, and very warm. The mornings have been a tad cooler recently and this made my morning walk very pleasant. It is an enveloping scent, hugging you like a soft cashmere sweater. Truth be told, there really is nothing very special and unique about it, but you can tell it is expensive and is made from good materials. And while I wouldn’t say it is a perfect ten in those terms, its exclusivity and pedigree make it one.

I’ve Dreamed Of You (Perfume Thoughts: Scent Of A Dream, Charlotte Tilbury)

375x500.40118A year ago, I was at the Harrod’s Half-Year Sale, and that was when I first got introduced to Charlotte Tilbury’s ‘Scent Of A Dream.’ It was discounted, and at the time I thought it was a European exclusive, so I spritzed – and liked it a lot. I was ready to buy it, but then they only had the big bottle, and the practical Virgo in me said, oh well, some other time.  And then that’s when my life got upended and forgot all about it – until recently when I saw it displayed at Nordstrom’s, and I asked for a sample. The other day, I found the sample in one of my bags and today I am wearing it. I kind of love this. This is a different kind of floral – it has a little bit of vintage feel, it is weird and quirky, and really, it just smells good on me.

Tilbury based this on the essential oils she used to smell on the streets of Ibiza. The fragrance has a tuberose heart, and has edges of patchouli. On my skin, it projects a lto of black pepper, which gives it a ‘funk’ feel. This is where the weird comes in – it is not a clean floral, and it has the ISO-E super molecule that gives that a ‘modern’ sleek feel. I like that finesse a lot, and I think that’s what gives this fragrance a modern feel for me. This stayed on me for a while, and the projection was strong, but not overwhelming. I think this is a great scent as the hot weather transitions to cold, and I might just be tempted to get this finally.

Wild Summer Blackberries (Perfume Thoughts: Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme)

486x486I am still on my summer fragrance crave mode, and in my last review, I said I was making do with Jo Malone’s Tropical Cherimoya even as I think it is a bit on the boring side. Looking through my samples, though, I think I may have found a better one: Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme. I remember spritzing this at Nordstrom’s, and liking it, so I asked for a full sample so I could wear it for a day. And yes, I like it a lot. It’s a fruity fragrance – blackberry (sorry, but ‘wild blackberry’ as per the press release notes) but I also would not call it light. It’s set in some rosewater and vanilla, so there’s some heft to it. Yet it never feels heavy – the sweetness and juiciness of the blackberries give it a sparkling feeling, and it’s a ‘fun’ smell, and it smells ‘current’ if a bit young. The drydown on my skin is a bit more rose-y, and that’s perfectly fine. I wish there was a little more tartness in there to give it a darker character, but I guess if that were so, this would be a different scent altogether. I like this perfume just fine, and maybe I will search a cheap bottle of it somewhere.