Saturday, July 23, 2011

More Tassels, Please: Things I'm Liking Lately



1. Please, please, please, put more tassels on perfume.  Put all kinds of dangly things - but tassels, if you can swing it.  Nothing feels better on a perfume bottle.  Nothing makes a perfume feel more like a perfume to me.  And don't skimp.  I like a nice, fat tassel.  Something you can really run your grubby little fingers through.  I have dozens of hundreds of fragrances.  Less than one percent have tassels, which really saddens me.  I realized this yesterday, when I saw the new Shalimar flanker, Parfum Initial.  I'm so tassel-deprived, it turns out, that it didn't matter what Parfum Initial smelled like (the verdict is still out on that).  I had to have it.  The Parfum Initial tassel is a little short for my taste but it has just the right heft.  It completes the bottle, and the fantasy, whatever that fantasy is (verdict still out on this too).  I look at almost every other bottle I have, however much I love the fragrance, and wish it had a tassel now.  They all seem slightly incomplete to me.  I get a little sad about it.  Another great tassel - the perfect tassel in every way - is the one on my bottle of Armani Onde Vertige.  Burnt cinnamon in color, attached to a longer cord with a pretty bead, it's just the right length, extending to the bottom of the bottle.  It's just the right thickness.  The bead makes a nice, delicate sound when it strikes the glass.  You want everything to go quiet so you can hear it better.  I suspect, seeing a well tasseled fragrance, that I would pay as much as thirty dollars more than I might normally.  Something comes over me.  I go into a fugue.

2. Chunky bottles get me every time, too.  The right kind of chunk, I guess.  Mona di Orio got chunk down better than possibly anyone has.  That big block of a bottle speaks my language.  I feel like I'm having a conversation with it.  Delicate things, those fragile, perilous case studies a la Lutens, get on my nerves.  I feel like I'm babysitting them.  I feel responsible for them in a way I resent.  What if they topple?  They're so anorexic, so kind of coy and anemic.  Oh aren't you pretty, you feel you're supposed to say.  Oh aren't you precious.  I want to slap these bottles.  I want to snap them out of their narcissism.  A blocky bottle holds its own and needs no such assistance.  It says, I deserve to be here and I'm sitting myself right down.  I like the Chanel bottles, for the most part, which are temperamental in transit but once arrived cannot be fazed.  Those taller Chanel bottles, the older things with the sturdy black caps, are even better.  Noting like Coco standing tall on your dresser, a miniature wall of scent.  The Mona di Orio bottles sit well anywhere, including your hand.  They could be used as a weapon.  While I can't imagine a scenario in which I'd need to wield a fragrance like a weapon, I enjoy knowing I could.

3. A blocky bottle needs the right cap, and again, Mona di Orio is doing this best.  Please try to tell me there is a better cap than this on the market.  I'd like to see you try.  Save yourself the trouble and admit defeat.  Worst are the gimmick caps.  Oh, I'm a butterfly.  Hey, I'm a bouquet of big vinyl flowers.  Who in Justin Bieber's camp thought this was a good idea, and how did they miss Marc Jacob's Lola, which would have deftly proven them wrong?  Many caps don't sit well on their bottles.  As much as I adore Parfumerie Generale, those black caps are a real issue.  They slide right off.  Often, the plastic ring meant to secure a cap to the neck doesn't secure a thing.  Histoires de Parfums realized the oversight of their earlier bottles, with those bizarrely ill-fitting gold plated caps, and redesigned a lot more intelligently.  Thank you.  A trendy little capricious cap mans nothing if it constantly falls off, as Tocade does for me.  Because of all these accident prone caps, maybe, I've really come to appreciate a good snap or click.  The Mona caps are solid, which is great, and unique, and there's a sound of finality to them.  Don't worry, they say, we've got this.  Go about your business.  A cap like the one on Natori constantly needs your help.  Beautiful stone cap, nice bottle, but a disastrous match.  The cap is too heavy.  It needs some kind of neck brace.  Other bad caps: Parfums Delrae, Keiko Mecheri, Cartier.  Other good caps: Byredo, Chanel, Etat Libre d'Orange, L'Artisan, Heeley, Malle, Diptyque, Cartier.

4. Guys who know a lot about perfume are my preferred sales associate.  It's just something I like.  The guys at Barneys have a little too much attitude for me, and seem rather bitter.  Recently, the one I dealt with actually rolled his eyes.  He couldn't be bothered with my questions.  He couldn't be bothered with the prospect of me.  Maybe I'm just that annoying.  The guys at Luckyscent Scent Bar are pretty dreamy and I'm glad I don't live in LA, because I think I'd probably stalk them.  I won't name them, in case some of you know them.  I don't want to embarrass them.  They're knowledgable, which is always a plus.  Okay, it's always freaky. You can't believe a sales associate actually knows what he's talking about.  For the most part, they're patient, but I don't really care much about patience.  It's their obvious love of perfume that slays me.  I'm like a puppy.  They're not just trying to sell you.  They have opinions, and favorites, and once you get them going it's like you're shopping with them.  I've found a few really good female sales associates - the local Estee Lauder SA is fantastic - but for me, finding a good guy sales associate is kind of special.  As a guy, I feel a little more understood dealing with them.  It's like being a Star Trek geek and finding a fellow Trekkie.  And if they bring out a tuberose fragrance they really love I just about go into a pleasure coma.

5. Perfumes that people hate or think are just a bit much always, when I finally smell them, seem like a dream come true.  I'd heard about Byredo M/Mink for months.  I'd read that it was stinky, strange, or conversely brilliant.  I was shocked when I got my hands on some.  Really?  All that fuss over honey and aquatics?  Somehow, rather than disappointment, I feel relief.  I feel, mind you, no less estranged from the currents of popular opinion than normally, but I'm glad to find something unusual and wearable and relieved that the hype is once again really just that, without the fragrance being a total letdown.  Absolue Pour Le Soir was another one.  Oh the cumin, people said.  Oh the horror, the stealth, the unbearable tenacity.  Whatevs.  Pour Le Soir is gorgeous.  Yes, plenty of cumin, but magnificently blended, and curiously strong without being overpowering.  The only fragrance I can think of which really does live up to its reputation is Etat's Secretions Magnifiques.  I won't wear it, though I appreciate it.  In fact, what I appreciate most is its hostility.  SM is unique among fragrances in its insistence on being difficult.  I know, I've heard many people say it smells just delightful on them, that they don't get anything foul, or challenging out of it.  And I think they're lying.  It's meant to be challenging and it is a challenge and whether or not you can withstand the challenge is an entirely different issue.  I'm liking M/Mink so much that it hurts.  Of course, everyone who hates Byredo said that they'd finally gotten it right.  Often I wish those people would shut it.  Everyone, even Guerlain, gets it wrong, all the time if not frequently.  I truly gorgeous fragrance is a freakish exception.

26 comments:

FruitDiet said...

I maintain that Secretions Magnifiques only smells weird to perfume people. People who don't have much of an idea of what most perfumes smell like just think it smells clean. My boyfriend said it smelled like clean laundry! I've never worn it and not received compliments. Yes, it's incredibly difficult to wear, and occasionally nauseating, but it's FUN to wear. It's like carrying a giant work of avant-garde art around with you. My friends that know about it get a little stressed out when I wear it.

Oh, and Brian, speaking of unwearable, do you have Brent Leonesio's Untitled #8? I'm absolutely obsessed with it. It's actually the only perfume besides Secretions with a reputation for being unwearably dirty that I've found lives up to its reputation. While it doesn't have the tenacity and strength of Secretions it is so alarmingly dark- I have never smelled such a halitosis-like overdose of indole, and such unspeakably fecal musk- this is FRESH shit, not warm, comforting, far-off horse dropping. I give it my highest recommendation.

brian said...

I don't know. I have three friends who aren't into perfume, aren't anything approaching perfume people, and it's the one thing they've outright forbid me to spray. There are moments with SM where I think, oh that's going through a pretty lovely, docile phase, but it's always judged against where it has gone or could go. I love to wear a fragrance that feels like a weird conceptual work of art - right up my alley, actually. For whatever reason, SM is the one fragrance - and I own it, mind you - that I can't go through the phases with, or choose not to ever.

I smelled #8 last week. I liked it a lot. You know what I think you would love is Czech and Speake's Cuba. It's amazingly feral and strange on top of this bright fougere type thing. I regret not getting it and know I eventually will. I enjoyed it on me all day, and it is probably the most forthrightly fecal thing I've ever smelled. The guy at Luckyscent told me people call it "Sex and Poop". I think it's a little more complicated than that, and might substitute another word for sex, but not for poop.

Elisa said...

I don't have tassle one in my collection. I have several bottles with bows, though -- not as good.

The Belle en Rykiel bottle totally brings the chunk. It's one my favorite bottles. I also find the Diptyque bottles endearingly chunky and cute.

I like most of the Byredo line, they're just so overpriced. If they were $60 a pop I'd go buy Bal d'Afrique and Baudelaire right now. Possible Pulp too, what the H.

brian said...

I forget about bows. Most of the bows I have don't really stay on. The Miss Balmain bow can't keep her shit together and is always falling off. Love the Diptyque bottles, especially 100 ml. I was happy to learn that Byredo has started making 50 ml. Still expensive, but preferable. M/Mink is fantastic, and I liked Oud Immortel a lot more than I thought I would from what I read. It does smell a lot like Baudelaire, which I've never seen anyone say. They're almost twins, but it's a bit sweeter or something.

Doc Elly said...

I really enjoyed your ode to tassels and blocky bottles. I've been thinking about how to spiff up my plain perfume bottles (Olympic Orchids), which are blocky, since that's what I like. But they're boring, mass-produced models, not custom designed ones. Tassels were one of the possibilities that I'd been considering. You've inspired me to go that route. It means eventually re-photographing everything, but I think tassels will be a nice touch. I'm going to try them out, anyway.

brian said...

What's up, Doc? I'm all about tassels. Let me know what you decide and what they end up looking like?

brian said...

Actually, I just tried Secretions for the first time in forever and--it's lovely, totally wearable. That's really strange. Did the shock just wear off, or is it the heat?

brian said...

I mean it's downright pleasant.

Taffy said...

Okay, so I LOL'd literally at this posting! Nicely done, Brian!

I put Peace, Love & Juicy on my Christmas list last year just so I could get the bottle with the tassles and the little peace sign and gold crest. It's a hefty bottle and feels good in hand. And I enjoy the herbaliness of the scent.

I've never tried Secretions. Can't get past the name. Ew.

Brian said...

I've had the strangest experiences with SM - sometimes it has the "bilge" note, sometimes it smells like fresh laundry. Weird.

waftbyCarol said...

Brian , Brian , Brian !!
i enjoyed this article more than any I have read on the fume blogs in years . As much as March's Baume de Doge guy in the bar - remember that one ?
Seriously funny , good , thoughtful .
Claudie Pierlot bottles are wonderfully hefty and well fed , but the cap is an afterthought , though it fits and clicks into place on cue . Also D'orsay bottles are very well prortioned , buffed out . I'm a sucker for pure parfum with ground glass stopper , my Baghari parfum with the clear glass stopper just reeks of class . ( hate the black glass though , who doesn't want to know how much is left ? SHEESH ! )
I enjoy ribbons of all sorts , silken and those chiffony things , knotted and strung with beads is nice .
A clinky charm thingy would be better - Joe Garces gave me a key chain with tiny charms ( Eiffel Tower , little purse , airplane , arche de Triomphe ) and I hung it on the tres French parfum flacon of Baghari , and talk about a pretty tinkling noise when you pick it up !!
Yes , all bottles should wear an accessory for certain .
Don't even get me started on spray mechanisms . They all go bad after awhile , there ought to be a law . I'm so tired of fighting with them . I just decasnt and get it over first thing , before they break and make me crazy !
I have an antique purse spray covered in little mother of pearl tiles , and the sprasy is so delicate - like butterfly tears - it makes the scent in it smell ten times more complex ( Diaghilev )
If only all my fragrances had the opportunity to fling themselves into the air so delicately .
I'd die .

waftbycarol said...

oh , and a leather fringed tassle would be fab on cuir would it not ?

brian said...

Hey Taffy. YES! That Peace Love bottle is fantastic. I can't tell you how many times I've been drawn to it for the bottle alone. All those wonderful things swinging about the neck. And the best thing about those Juicy bottles is the fact that these dangly things can be taken off and played with and put back on. Peace smells great. It doesn't seem to last on me. Do you have that issue with it?

brian said...

Brian, I hadn't tried SM in the summer. Yesterday I put some on and it was a totally different fragrance on me. It was sweet and a little salty and had a lot more florals in it than I remember. Seems the heat tempers it a lot and balances things out. In the cold it's a different bird. All the bilge notes hit you right up front. In the heat those notes are a lot more sheer.

brian said...

These are all good points, Carol. I totally forgot spray mechanisms. There are some that are just horrible. Some sort of seem to drool on you. Others don't come out quite right. Much as I love Etat Libre d'Orange in so many ways (bottle, cap, scent) I really dislike the spray. They spray too much and too diffusively. Then there's the Poison perfumes, which are TOO sensitive to the touch. Amouage can be a little too sensitive too. Decanting them is a good idea but I'm wondering how you deal with space and storage. As it is, the fragrances I own colonize way too much space in my house.

waftbyCarol said...

I have a large office with a big old shelf unit , so things can lounge around as they please...

brian said...

I need this system!

museinwoodenshoes said...

Tassels are a sensory pleasure. Unless they remind me of pasties, in which case, FAIL.

Bottles I love: Chanel parfum. Alahine (Hey, a tassel!) PdN Le Temps d'une Fete, in the small 30ml bottle - rectangular yet with sloping shoulders, feels nice in the hands. If only the big PdN bottles were a similar shape... My Shalimar Light bottle has no tassel, but it needs one.

I still get blood and metal out of SM. Bleargh.

Anonymous said...

I love how the caps of the Chanel Exclusifs have magnets, so they can be closed with such a satisfying, decisive click.

Tamara*J said...

Nothing to say except I heart you. Really. Oh and other caps that suck is Fendi Theorema (my gold cap is peeling-looks hella ghetto ) Lubin's Idole,(it's cool but awkward to put back on) and Maître Parfumeur et Gantier.
My cap on Ambre Precieux just came unglued, the red jewel won't stick either. :/
But I love them all anyway.
I need a MdO FB now...I think I'll get Jabu- I sprayed that like crazy all day yesterday afternoon-my 10 ml decant is almost empty.
It's dreamy...

xoxo~T

Ines said...

Loved your post! And couldn't agree more on MdO bottles.
All I need now is to get a bottle of that champagne she used as the starting point...

Haven't given much thought to tassels so far, but now you mentioned them, they are nice to have on bottles.

lady jicky said...

I love a good tassel and the ones on the old parfum bottles from Guerlain are the top!
Mind you ---- Rosine has a rope with TWO tassels on it - divine :)

brian said...

I forgot all about Rosine! Those are killer.

Taffy said...

Brian,

Juicy Peace lasts as long on me as powdered sugar on my dog's nose. But I too enjoy it during its time on earth.

I love that Shalimar Parfum Initial photo: The shape of the bottle, its rounded silvery cap, the full tassle with the golden initial and deep lavender color against the peachy hue of the perfume. Makes me want to either dash out and buy the bottle or have a fruit salad. Maybe both.

Patty said...

Ya know, if you're jonesing after tassels, you could buy your own at a sewing or decorating store and attach them to your bottles. Who's to know, except you? Just sayin'...

My favorite chunkster bottle is Mariella Burani - nice and heavy and blocky.

I'm one of those boring people who couldn't scrub M/Mink off fast enough. No honey and acquatics for me, more like the industrial-strength cleaner you'd use on a factory floor.

Angela Cox said...

Onde Vertige has such a beautiful bottle I keep it in the open to just look at it. I have never seen such a gorgeous coloured bottle .So if we are burgled I'll use my Mona di Oro's to beat the lights out of the offender .I like a tassel or two myself I have to say .I saw a vintage Opium necklce with many of them on E:Bay this week but my perfume budget had gone way over decency .