Scented New Years Resolutions

I didn’t set any goals with relation to perfume last year, but there were a few things I never got around to in 2012 that I’d like to try and accomplish in 2013 with relation to my New Years Resolutions.



1) Get a hold of a vintage Guerlain Shalimar. I’ve wanted one for the longest time. I especially think the bottle is beautiful and I’ve put it off long enough.

2) Try more Aftelier fragrances. I loved the few I did try, but I haven’t been anywhere near close toΒ  the full range.

3) Try more from the Histoires de Parfums line. I know it’s a gimmick, but I love the gimmick and I liked what I already tried.

4) Revisit Soivohle. It’s been too long since I had anything from this house.

5) Get back into the habit of wearing something every day. I’ve been somewhat slacking this past year, sometimes going days without trying any scent or wearing any scent. I always felt like it was a wasted opportunity on the days I went without.

6) Visit the Guerlain boutique and see what shiny new things they have there.

Those should be easy enough to do. In truth, my News Years Resolutions list is mighty long for 2013 so in addition to the six above, I’ve got quite a lot of work to do. In the mean time, we’ll back to a regular schedule next week.

Overheard at the Perfume Counter

I think it’s a given that perfume addicts visit perfume counters a lot. I used to stop by the perfume counter on a weekly basis, and while I was exploring new scents and scents I hadn’t tried yet, I overhear a few things. These things get filed away in the back of my mind, but end up accumulating when they’re heard often enough. Here’s a few common comments:

“What are the coffee beans for?”
I’m not sure who decided to start leaving coffee beans around for people to smell when they were trying on perfumes to “clear” their noses. It works for some, not for others. I have never partaken in the coffee bean sniffing. I personally prefer removing myself from the smell center and take in a few deep breathes of fresh air. Nothing clears the smells out of my nose better than fresh air.

“You should buy the EDP. It’s a higher concentration of oils so it’ll smell better.”
Many EDT and EDPs of the supposedly same fragrance do not smell the same, and I’m not talking about the “strength” of the fragrance either. The differences can be minor or staggering. Try both and decide which works better for you instead of just assuming the EDP is better.

Coffee Beans on Foil

Coffee Beans on Foil by Dino Quinzani

“Don’t put it on your skin because the smell will change. Use the tester strip so you know what it really smells like.”
Odd how many times I heard this one. If you’re looking to buy a perfume to wear, wouldn’t you want to know how the fragrance does on your skin? Perfume sprayed onto paper strips does not fully reflect how that fragrance will behave on you (another reason why I hate paper samples). So if you really want to know if a fragrance is going to work for you, you should try it on yourself and the use the paper strip only to make sure that the smell isn’t disagreeable before you spray yourself with it.

“Perfume is for girls. Cologne is for boys.”
Fragrances do not have a gender and no one is bound to wear a certain “genre” of fragrances because of their gender, age, personality, appearance, etc.

“This perfume starts out okay, then it gets gross. What’s wrong with me?”
Give the fragrance a while to develop on your skin before you buy a bottle. Fragrances change throughout the day, a perfume you might love on initial application might not be so great a few hours in. It happens all the time. There’s nothing wrong with you.

“If your breath smells, try spraying perfume into your mouth.”
Okay, this one isn’t common. I only heard it once, and I can’t even begin to tell you how bad an idea this is. Don’t spray perfume into your mouth, up your nose, into your eyes–in fact, keep perfume out of all your orifices. Not only are you spraying something that you shouldn’t be consuming into your mouth, it also tastes terrible.

“You should shake the bottle before you spray to mix the oils up.”
Please don’t shake your perfume. And please, don’t shake the bottles at the stores. You are not doing them any good. Perfume does not need you to mix it up before you use it.

What things have you commonly heard at the perfume counter? The stranger, the better!

Photo Credit: Dino Quinzani

Products L’Occitane Should Turn Into Perfumes

I love L’Occitane. I started this whole perfume craziness because I ran out of excuses for owning so many bath-related products and L’Occitane’s products were always some of my favorites. They also sell perfumes, but I’m not too big of a fan of many of those. So it struck me as odd that L’Occitane wouldn’t turn some of these products into full on fragrances.

L’Occitane Aromachologie Repairing Shampoo & Conditioner
A gorgeous blend of florals and herbs that scents my hair for the better part of a day. I love washing my hair every time I get to use this. Unfortunately, I don’t have much of it left and need to order more–and it’s a bit pricey for shampoo. So if L’Occitane ever got around to bottling this scent in a perfume, I’ll probably stock up like mad.

Bonne Mere Milk Soap

I wish my house smelled like this soap all the time.

L’Occitane Almond Milk Concentrate
I know, it essentially just smells like almond extract, but the lotion portion of the mix helps add this fluffy quality to the fragrance. Or maybe it’s just all in my head. Whatever it is, bottle up that fluffy almond smell, L’Occitane!

L’Occitane Bonne Mere Soap Milk
I went a little crazy one year and have about 20 or so of these bars of soaps lying around. At one point, I managed to scent the entire house like Bonne Mere Soap because I’d carefully distribute a bar here and there. I’ve been using them up though, but I still love the smell and wouldn’t mind it in spray form at all.

And just to mix things up a little, I know a lot of people who share the same love of Moroccanoil’s Shampoo and Conditioner’s smell.

Moroccanoil Shampoo & Conditioner
This reminds me of clean amber, florals, and a touch of woods with a little bit of nuttiness. A lot of people describe the scent to be just vanilla, but vanilla alone doesn’t sum up the creamy woodsy, nutty, amber fragrance I get whenever I use this shampoo. If there was a perfume that smelled like this, I’d probably wear it quite often! There’s been a couple of recommendations to try Etro’s Shaal Nur for a Moroccanoil equivalent. I know what’s going in my next decant order.


Adding Niche to a YouTube Fragrance Collection

One of my guilty indulgences at lunch time during a work day is watching YouTube videos of perfume collections. There are thousands out there, and I’d be lying if I didn’t say all of them are starting to blend together. I prefer the videos where the person gives me a reason as to why they own a particular perfume. A few life stories are intermingled among the collections. A clear description of the fragrances they own. And of course, if one has a massive collection of niche fragrances, my ears often perk up.

John William Godward - The New Perfume 1914

John William Godward – The New Perfume 1914

There’s something about knowing what someone’s fragrance collection looks like that helps me form an idea of what other scents they would like and what kind of similarities in fragrance choices I have in common with them. YouTube features a large population of young women who fit into my demographic or younger. They often have big collections of perfumes. And from what I’ve seen, I can draw a few conclusions:
1) Most of them love sweet, candy-like, floral perfumes.
2) “Smells good”, “smells fruity”, “sweet and happy” are words often used to describe their collections.
3) I see the same four or five fragrances in everyone’s collection.

So it’s hard to see how someone with a big collection of mainstream fragrances can get a decent recommendation these days when they have most of what they want and so do most people they go to for perfume advice. So for all those folks who already have Miss Dior Cherie, Coco Mademoiselle, Marc Jacobs Daisy, Britney Spears Fantasy, and Viva la Juicy here are some niche, harder-to-find, more unique recommendations for your collections:

Aroma M Geisha Pink
Sampled during one of my sweet tooth phases, Geisha Pink smells like sugared flowers and fluffy, puffy vanilla pastries. It screams “girly” and if you’re looking for an alternative to the sugar rush of Viva la Juicy or Vera Wang Princess, Geisha Pink has you covered. It’s priced at $55 for a roll-on of perfume oil.

Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte
Eau de Charlotte is a beautiful full-bodied berry scent that will make you think you’re wading through gourmet jam. It’s a more natural interpretation of blackberries with a wonderful base of vanilla and cocoa. Perfume for the person who wants something fruity and sweet but hates the apple jolly rancher smell of DKNY’s Be Delicious. Eau de Charlotte is $128 for 100ml.

Calypso Christiane Celle Bellini
Bellini is my answer to a spring, summer light fruity floral. It’s got the basic building blocks of a mainstream fruity floral but does things in a much more delicate manner and with a flare of understated sophistication. Bellini is a good alternative to most fruity floral Bath and Body Works or Victoria’s Secret scents. At $60 for 100ml, it’s not too bad.

Il Profumo Musc Bleu
Musc Bleu might scare some way because they’re tempted to say, “Musk? Ew, I hate musky fragrances”. But don’t judge the musk before you try it. Musc Bleu is actually the opposite of what one would consider, “musky” in that it’s a bright, clean, and soft perfume with a nice light dry down and it might just change your mind about the word, “musk”. Musc Bleu is $110 for 50ml or $165 for 100ml.

Penahaligons Amaranthine
Looking to smell a little tropical without resorting to lathering yourself in coconut? Amaranthine is a lush tropical perfume with a rather prominent banana leaf top note and a very complex composition. Possibly too complex if all you’re looking for is an easy tropical, but if you want to sample something with a lot of personality and challenge your nose then give this a try. Amaranthine is available for $135 for 100ml.

Going niche for me has been something of an adventure. I still have a collection of fairly mainstream fragrances and a lot of mainstream offerings are fabulous, but the niche market has been rather nice to me too and it wouldn’t hurt to start investigating the niche side of things–especially when you already have most of what you want from big perfume houses with big perfume marketing budgets.

Some Fragrance Collection Videos I Enjoyed:
Deathscythe77 – Parfums Noir II
BaptismbyFragrance – Niche Perfume Part1
KatiePuckrikSmells – Collection Part 2

Notes I Love

I’ve been shifting and changing, growing more experienced about what I want in a fragrance and the list of notes that I love today might not be the same as the one I’ll make next year. But these days, I’m craving some very specific notes and some notes, I’ve just wanted to find holy grail fragrances for and haven’t been able to locate those yet.

Photo by: Jo Anna Barber

Here are the notes that I’m loving right now.

Holy Grail: Spiritueuse Double Vanille
I love vanilla, but not the faux vanilla that has a tendency to smell like plastic when it’s poorly blended. But boozy, spicy vanilla with a touch of woods. My favorite for this category is still Guerlain’s SDV, whose boozy, woodsy spicy vanilla hits the spot.

Holy Grail: Still looking
A good amber to me is smooth, warm, comforting and settles quietly on the skin. I have yet to find an amber fragrance that I’m totally happy with.

Holy Grail: Honey Blossom
Honey Blossom isn’t so much a single note of honey, if that were the case, I’d just get single notes and be done with it. Rather Honey Blossom an entire perfume that beautifully depicts the concept of a honeyed floral. It smells inviting and pretty. I just wish I had a lot more of it.

Holy Grail: Still looking
I’m picky about jasmine because it’s in so many fragrances as it is. I’m looking for a scent that really showcases a green, fresh jasmine that isn’t too overpowering because strong jasmine doesn’t smell too great either. There has to be a delicate balance and I’m still looking for my favorite.

Holy Grail: Still looking
If any note could take me back to my childhood, it would be sandalwood. This is another one that I’m really picky about and as a result, haven’t found my favorite yet. The closest so far is Guerlain’s Samsara whose perfumed sandalwood inspired some brief nostalgia, but not anywhere near enough.

So what notes draw you in? And as always, I’m open to any suggestions on my search for a holy grail for every note.

Photo Credit: Jo Anna Barber

How I Spent My Weekend, A Princess Ariel Perfume

A while ago I posted a list of perfumes that were probably terrible that I’d just have to try. A bunch of Disney-themed fragrances was included on the list and I was genuinely excited when one of my friends said she had a questionably old bottle of it. Well the little vial of Princess Ariel arrived the other day and both my friend and I weighed in on how it smells.

Disney Princess Ariel

Disney Princess Ariel

One word review: Expired.

It smelled strongly of alcohol and broken florals. Thoroughly unpleasant and if there was an actual fragrance in there, it has long disappeared. So there was no Disney Princess perfume for either of us. Sad day.

What I find kind of funny is how incredibly difficult it is to source truly awful perfume that nobody wanted to buy. I do remember the last time I was in a dollar store, I spent some time sniffing the offerings there next to a man who noticed me and said, “Forgot my wife’s birthday”. Whether or not he actually forgot his wife’s birthday or if he actually enjoys dollar store perfume and didn’t want to admit it, is anyone’s guess. All I knew was that the perfume was awful, but then I’m the kind of masochist who watches awful movies and plays terrible video games because I find them entertaining.

Anyway, when I asked my friend how she managed upon a Disney Princess Ariel perfume she admitted that it was in a hodge podge box of perfume purchased at a garage sale. It had settled in amongst the standard offerings of half-full Cashmere Mist and Fantasy by Britney Spears.

I got a description of the bottle and did some Google investigations. My research (hah) yielded a lot of people on eBay claiming this was authentic Disney merchandise. I’m no Disney expert so if this was somebody’s idea of a knock-off and wasn’t actually a Disney item then I wouldn’t be surprised. If you’re curious about this too and feel like throwing out $15-30, it’s widely available on eBay and on Amazon Marketplace. I only sprayed this on a piece of paper, so I suggest you do the same.

And that’s what I did this weekend.

I Love Vintage and I’m Not Even a Hipster

I got the bottle of Chypre de Coty that I finally dropped the money on. The justification? I waited a long time and gave myself many months of “thinking about it”. I whittled down the little sample I had of this exact same bottle and after that long, I still wanted it. This wasn’t a passing fancy with little glittering lights, the fragrance didn’t cost an absurd amount like any Agonist or that Clive Christian gimmick. Besides, it was a piece of history.

Chandler and Price Press

Chandler and Price Press

So naturally the first thing to do when it arrived was whip it out and spray it on. The friend who held onto this for me, owned two bottles. One she sampled out a small vial of Chypre de Coty for me which I got and another she keeps for herself. She told me when she sampled it out that I might not like it. But I liked it entirely too much, I think. Instantly I’m reminded of the tiny sample vial I kept going back to. For a brief moment, I wondered if I had become addicted. Whatever, I was happy all day to be wafting in a cloud of Coty’s Chypre.

Then I noticed the new Shalimar I had. It’s the amusing “Batman bottle” version prior to Shalimar’s recent facelift that made it look like an older version and it made me wish I had classic Shalimar. I always liked the bottle, I particularly find the baccarat appealing. I wondered what versions were available out there and if the juice in those would be well preserved. One of my guilty past times involves spending absurd amounts of time on eBay, trawling through the vintage scents I want. This list looks a little something like:

  • Chypre de Coty
  • Shalimar
  • Mitsouko
  • Miss Dior
  • Joy

Something about the idea of smelling and owning a piece of history appeals to me. I tend to like antiques items anyway, the personal history of them, their manufacturer’s history, and the history of the people who may have owned them in the past. One of my favorite antique items is a Chicago No.9 letterpress. It’s too small to do practical work, but it came with a business card set into the chase (the chase of an old letterpress machine is, put simply, what you compose your item in). Before I removed the business card, I took a look at whose card was set and while it wasn’t a tiny, saucy love letter or a particularly small and delicate Christmas card, I did get an idea of the dentist (now retired) who had owned the unit before me and the antiques hunter who sold it to me.

So while I’m enjoying Chypre de Coty, I couldn’t help but wonder who owned it before me and my friend who trawls eBay looking for vintage perfumes about as often as I do.

Image Credit: Fritz Swanson

I Need to Stop Talking About Lady Gaga

I don’t even really like her music all that much, but her perfume is garnering a ton of buzz and it feels like no matter where I look someone’s talking about it even when it’s for all the wrong, gimmicky reasons. Apparently the juice is going to be all black. I’m wondering how they managed to do that without staining people’s clothes, but time will tell. This thing is still about a month out and they’re going to release the “short film” for it soon.

The trailer:

It’s got that Gaga feel to it. But I can’t help but think that this video’s inspiration and style (same could be said for some other videos of hers) comes from Matthew Barney’s ridiculous brain child, The Cremaster Cycle (NSFW for artistic nudity and violence):

What any of that has to do with perfume is anybody’s guess. I just enjoy weird art films.