Monday, April 5, 2010

Making a Stink: My Thoughts, Bundled into Little Packets of Nothingness for You (Plus Our Latest Draw)

Put a Cap On It

Dear people who make bottles, can you do a few more trial and error runs before you settle on your caps and atomizers? Let's start this stream of consciousness right there. Anyone who reads this blog more than a few times a year knows that I love Etat Libre D'Orange all out of proportion. I own all but perhaps five of their fragrances. I love the chunky square bottles. I like the caps; the way they snap on like making a decision. So it's a real bummer that the perfumes spray so lamely. Then there's Parfumerie Generale, which sprays evenly and even delicately but generously. Problem is, the cap doesn't stay on. There are other culprits but I should keep this brief. While we're discussing bottles, get a load of the new Andy Tauer packaging. Anyone seen it first hand? How exciting, the prospect of Tauer's brilliant perfumes being matched by clever design.

Please Step Away From the Coze

Is it just me or does Coze have pheromones in it? Despite the caps I'm in love with Parfumerie Generale, whose scents are rich in sensual pleasures. But Coze goes beyond this. It's practically pornographic. I can't control the look on my face when I wear it. I can't keep my hand away from my nose. Better my nose than my pants, I guess--for the public's sake, if not mine. Coze has fantastic tenacity. Aomassi is a kissing cousin but peters out before things really get going. It's more of a one night stand. Psychotrope seems gorgeous but I'm curious: what's the lasting power like on that one?


While it thrilled me to see that Fresh finally took the suggestion of its consumers to heart, issuing smaller bottles of its greatest hits, it frustrates me that they used this opportunity to sneak in weaker formulas. Cannabis Santal is markedly different to my nose. It's as if they imagine the shock of new packaging will distract us from the truth, and yet isn't it always a tell tale sign, when an actress appears with blunt cut bangs, that a little nip and tuck has taken place behind the scenes? None of the Fresh fragrances seemed to have very impressive longevity, save for Santal. Sometimes I like reformulations and they can improve a perfume's persistence. I happen to think that the latest Rochas Femme, however sharp it became in the bargain, outlasts its former incarnation. Cannabis Santal is sharp but flat. Whatever's been done has taken away some of its character. The SA at the Lauder counter, ever chummy with me, likes to tell me how many changes have been made to the brand's line up, how often people notice, and how, just as often, she denies anything has happened. I don't expect Fresh to fess up, but I know I'm not imagining things either.


I passed L'eau by Laura Ashley many times before I finally came off my high horse to smell it. Who knew. The stuff is fantastic, not an eau at all but a perfectly judged, crisp citrus chypre, long since discontinued. Strictly wait list. Expensive when found. L'Eau manages to be both modern and old school and I can't get enough of it. For something so fresh and happy it lasts so well and diffuses with such richness or character. How about a drawing. This stuff is impossible to find and I know where some is stashed. I'm happy to share the wealth. To qualify for the draw, please write me a paragraph about one of your favorites, something which was initially beneath you. You were too good for it but out of boredom or curiosity or both you tried it one day and realized how fantastic it is. Note: a paragraph is not a sentence. I don't need a book, but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Free hefty decant of L'eau to a duo of lucky draws.


ScentScelf said...

Psychotrope lasting power? Not good on me. Happened to try it again last week...less than 2 hours. Meanwhile...ah ha ha! I love luscious inhibition killers. World? What world?? Snooorrfffllsnarf. Recently discovered a new such scent. Unfortunately, it was on the neck of a delightful woman whose acquaintance I had just met. She's a perfume person, so she indulged me a bit...but I didn't want to put on a show for the bar. Or make her reluctant to share ever again. Had it been my own arm...well, world be damned.

High horse scent? I don't really believe it of you. You've been very democratic.'s not because it was "common"'s because it was Laura Ashley, right? Okay, snarky pants. You've been schooled. Me? How have I been schooled? Like this:

Walk into a Gap store. Remember the disaster that was the Banana Republic "bargain" with the name of some stone. Think about how you've learned the value of quality ingredients. Don't edit the look on your face to hide said attitude as you condescend to sniff, just to prove you are not above at least keeping informed. (And maybe because, for a change, *you* are the bored tagalong while your teenage son shops.) Spritz the most scrubbable part of your arm. Do a visible double take that is one step less obnoxious than a spit take. Sniff again. Realize that the face that said "I'm a smartypants" thirty seconds ago now says "Stupid." See the stuff is on sale. Hide some in the stack of clothing you are taking to the register for said son. Hang head in shame.

Natalia said...

I am new to the world of perfume. Personally, I decided to begin with perfumes from the grand houses of Chanel, Guerlain, Amouage etc. And I continue on this pass. At some point I realized that perfumes that never leave me indifferent are chypres. I will never pass up a chance to sniff a chypre, including a “contemporary” one. I think that is how I ended up choosing Agent Provocateur as a free sample with my order. I heard it was a floral chypre, I was curious and it was free. At that time I thought I would never spend my hard earned money on a bottle or even a sample of perfume from a company that makes underwear. After initial cautious dabbing I was under whelmed, and the sample was abandoned. The other day, however, I tried it again. The day was cool and wet, and I poured maybe half a vile on myself and… wow! I was hit with a smell akin to that of a bathroom in a Russian train (old time): urine, disinfectant, cheap Soviet soap unadorned with fragrance and the train smell: metal, grease etc, all mixed together. I can’t say it was a welcome smell, but it reminded me of my childhood and traveling by train (fun for a child). Later during the day I actually found myself liking and even enjoying the whiffs of whatever Agent developed into (flowers, laced with a train bathroom smell, but mostly darkish flowers). And by the evening, sniffing the crook of my elbow, I thought I would be ordering Agent Provocateur, no further testing was needed. And that is my story.

ggs said...

Well, I stopped by after spotting your headline for this post on another blog. "Little Packets of Nothingness" HA!

My thoughts? I hate when SA's lie to customers.

And...I have to go find a sample of PJ Coze to sniff, after your comment!

Gail said...

I resisted buying anything from Yves Rocher for a long time because it seemed like a cheaper Avon sort of company. I hate Avon perfumes. I finally ordered the Rose Absolue because of all the reviews. I love it. It cost me five bucks for a half ounce and it is so cozy and sweet. I love to spray it on my nightgown. Cheap is not always bad.

Nancy C. said...

I'm not sure this would qualify as a high horse but I bought a small bottle of Lady Stetson because the Perfume Guide raved about it. This was not something I would have bought on my own since it's so cheap and 70's but when I got it I actually was quite taken with it. Not that it will ever replace the Guerlains and Diors. :)

Prosetry said...

I used to be appalled by lite flankers of my favorite perfumes, but I am loving (LOOOVING) all the Shalimar Lights I've ever tried. The first, the second and the Eau. They're such sweet, shallow versions of Shalimar with way too much lemon zest on top but mmmmm. I love it. I love how buttery Shalimar gets in the hot weather, and Shalimar light adds a nice pastry-puff sweetness to that.

queen_cupcake said...

Toujours Moi by Max Factor (not Corday, not Dana) seemed like a pretty little drugstore bottle of nothing to write home about. I had bought a vintage Corday from the 70s which smelled like vinegar and dust (maybe it had gone off) so I almost passed up the Max Factor one--glad I gave it a try! It is a warm, spicy oriental with a musk and sandalwood base. I know that the Max Factor product is called "Toujours Moi Magical Musk", or something like that but neither the box nor the bottle have anything printed on it except "Toujours Moi by Max Factor". The first spray is a little bit of a sharp assault which quickly blooms into some lovely floral and spice notes. I love this scent--and it is inexpensive. I believe it can still be found online.

Anonymous said...

(To Queen Cupcake: the MF Toujours Moi is entirely attractive, in that "I am wearing perfume" sort of way, as opposed to the "I just got out of the shower" modern way. I like it very much.)

Brian, I love the title of this one. No need to hat me, though - you say "citrus chypre," I say, "Pffff, I have Eau Sauvage, I need no other citrus chypre." It's not a favorite genre of mine, and somebody else would probably appreciate it.

Here is where I admit that practically nothing is beneath me. I wore Avon and drugstore scents until I was in my 20's, and then moved on to Victoria's Secret (the early stuff, before they went all slutty/sugary) and Eliz. Arden. I will basically try anything I don't have to trade my firstborn for.

OTOH, there are a few perfume houses that I perceive as aiming themselves far, FAR over my head (either conceptually or financially), and I refuse to test any of their fragrances, lest I wind up compromising my principles. I really don't want to find out that there's a JAR I can't live without...

queen_cupcake said...

To Malsnano68: Thanks for your comment. I love your attitude towards the lines that so many perfume snobs disdain and those folk will often miss out on a good thing. I am totally with you on the perfume houses that "aim far, FAR over my head (either conceptually or financially)...". Very well put!

To ScenScelf: "Snooorrfffllsnarf!"... and "Do a visible double take that is one step less obnoxious than a spit take." LOL!!! Do NOT hang your head in shame. Funny!

Brian said...

Thanks everyone for piping in. I loved reading it all. The responses are few enough that I've decided to give you all decants. Please email me your addresses. It will take about a week and a half to get them out to you, more with mail times.

I wish I could find the Max Factor Toujours, Cupcake. I smelled it at a store from a tester bottle but the version they had for sale was Dana. I actually like the Dana and own it now, but it's much perkier; it has that bright clean vetiver note in the dry down that so many modern reformulations have. The Max Factor was deeper and muskier. It stayed on my hand forever. I've seen its bottle online but you never know what you'll get, the thing in the picture or some other version. I liked it so much though that I've considered going back to the store to ask whether they'd sell me the tester bottle.

I love Eau Sauvage for sure, Mals, but L'eau is a lot less citrus than that, I would say, and different enough that it warrants investigation. It lasts a good deal longer. There's no herbal component. It's nice and I keep grabbing the bottle again.

Yeah I'm not sure it's because it was common, either, Scent Self. I actually love a lot of common scents. There's a certain kind of mid range I get all stuffy about, and it can take me forever and a day to try those fragrances. I'm sometimes surprised.

queen_cupcake said...

Yaay! Thank you Brian! I sent you an email. And I will keep an eye open for another bottle of the Max Factor never know. Nice to read that you and other perfume lovers can love some of the common, inexpensive ones. I am going to try that Dana version, too. Hugs!

Abigail said...

Hi Brian,

I'm too late for the draw, but I thought I'd chime in since I just found your blog today, and I've been enjoying the hell out of it.

For the longest time I was a snob about Angel. When it first came out, I expected an angel to smell like pale fruits, or delicate flowers and nearly gagged when I smelled the actual scent. Since then, I'd come to associate it with too blonde college girls on too hot subway cars.

But if Luca Turin says it's good, it must be right? My inner snob felt validated and I finally gave it another go, and I can now see the merit in succulent funk. Angel Innocent is still more my speed, but I've grown to love the Mugler line.