Sunday, January 17, 2010

The random experiment

This is one of those fragrances that truly must be sampled blind. Because I did just that. By mistake. And now I’m humbled because it is a perfume I had all sorts of preconceived notions about – basically I assumed I didn’t like it. A friend of mine dared me to do a blind sniff - he chose something and sprayed me with it. I had absolutely no idea what it was. And the fact that I’d never given this stuff the time of day before only made the process more intriguing because it was familiar yet it wasn’t. I couldn’t imagine how he had taken a perfume from my room, sprayed me with it, and I didn’t know what it was. One thing was for sure: I did know that I liked it. And I liked it more and more as the hours past. And eventually I gave up and had to ask what on earth I had been sprayed with (it's a sad thing when a perfumista admits defeat).

I’ll tell you what I smelled. I smelled rose immediately. Not a fresh floral rose but a deep abstract rose with loads of sweet spices and darkness. I knew I was smelling roses, spices, definitely saffron which was blazing a rather medicinal trail and the whole thing was rolled up in a cloud of sweetness. Roses + spices + saffron + dark syrupy sweetness. But not too sweet for me to wear. It seemed to walk a fine line between syrupy sweetness and woody dark spices and medicinal saffron. This wasn't gourmand or was it? I ended up thinking it was not really gourmand, just at the doorway, the edge of gourmand.

I admit to nearly losing my mind during the 4-5 hours when I did not know what this fragrance was. Why is it so important to know what it is? I kept thinking that it shouldn’t matter what it is – I knew I liked it – so why did I need to put a label on it – why was I losing it to find out the brand – find out the notes – found out the perfumer - and put the whole beautiful scent in a preconceived little bucket tied with a knot and stored away? I realized I don’t sniff with an open mind. I realize that if I’m told I’m sniffing Guerlain or Chanel or Dawn Spencer Hurwitz or Olivia Giacombetti this all means something very specific to me – and will result in how much I like the fragrance, how artistic I find the fragrance, how exceptional I think the ingredients are...these are all little assumptions, you know? Well, this time I didn’t have my blinders on. I was completely bare and naked to this scent – this particular scent - who was rather intoxicating. And I must tell you, once I found out what it was, I felt a bit ashamed, like I shouldn’t like it so much. But I will not do that, I will not ruin this experience by over thinking the stuff now that I have it’s proper labels. I will now tell you that it is Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises and it is amazing. If I sprayed you with this stuff and told you it was Guerlain or Serge Lutens believe me you’d swoon your socks right off.

Notes are listed as: praline, rose petals, jam, saffron, musk.

Longevity is excellent and the sweetness tempers after the first 15 minutes. It has the start of a syrupy Montale but it quickly morphs into a beautiful sweet rose saffron & spice fragrance.


Ines said...

I can relate to what you're saying. A while ago I tried two scents by Keiko M. (I forgot what they were) and didn't like them one bit. And then I tried Iris Pourpre the other day and fell in love completely. :)

Olfacta said...

Everybody experiences that kind of bias with practically everything. How else could something as ugly as a Louis Vuitton handbag cost so much?

Carol said...

thank you for this post! I think that I'll try some blind tests too - oh how our preconceived notions can justify!

Marko said...

Yes, I suppose "labels" and "preconceived notions" do pave the way to our believed aesthetic choices......I know I have purchased blind when it comes to a particular House or Perfumer thinking "Well, it can't be bad if it's a Lutens or a Malle...." - but alas, we all know too well what comes from buying "status" or "reputation" instead of buying what truly smells good (to the user).

Loved the post today!

SignatureScent said...

Fascinating. I've got an absolute stash of perfumes to try at the moment and I'd been toying with the idea of doing a blind test. But I thought I would also find it very frustrating. When I'm wearing something I like to read about it, find out who created it, when it was created etc.

Now I've read your post I might be brave enough to try a blind post too.

Mals86 said...

Interesting point. I like to think that I don't have prejudices, but I do. They're sort of reverse prejudices, in that I'm perfectly willing to find an Estee Lauder or a dirt-cheap Rochas wearable, but I might have trouble giving ELd'O a fair shake since their ad copy annoys me so much.

(I don't have enough *bottles* on hand to not be able to identify a blind spritz. Samples, though, would be a different thing.)

Blog Author said...

This is a good exercise in patience and perception. Sniffing blind can yield some earth-moving surprises.

I think Keiko Mecheri has many VASTLY underrated scents. "Loukhoum" is another fave for any sweetooth!
I will be certain to check out Gourmandises. Thanks!

Tara said...

Abigail, have you used the Marrakesh Express cookbook you have pictured? If so, what did you think?


Abigail said...

You are so right about the LV bags! Hideous and totally about the brand and nothing more.
I, too, have a sort of reverse bias. I tend to be more harsh and judgmental when trying the exalted or expensive stuff (Lutens, Guerlain and the like). But sometimes I know for a fact that I spend more time with something simply because it's supposed to be amazing. I dunno, take TDC Oriental Lounge for instance, I ended up liking it but have to wonder if I would have even tried for so many hours if it were Cacharel...and not 'daughter of JCE!'
Gourmandises is a name loaded with preconceived notions. As long as you aren't afraid to try something that is sweet, you might fall for it. It's got so much more going on than a normal gourmand. I'm in love with it and I swear I wouldn't have given it much of my time had I known what it was! I, too, love Loukhoum. Especially the 2 new one's Eau Poudree and Parfum de Soir. These are exceptional (and the original is as well).
yes! I do have the cookbook. My Mom bought it for me because I'm obsessed with visiting Morocco. :-) So far I've tried the lamb shanks and chicken stew both fairly time consuming but turned out delish! I highly rec the book, the photos are beautiful and the accompanying story is wonderful, it's more than a cookbook, it's a love letter to Morocco.

Anonymous said...

I buy so many perfumes but wear the same one everyday. It's important for me to own a variety though.

Lovely cookbook photo. I love Moroccan food and can't wait to try this book.