Sunday, December 5, 2010

Autumn 2010: Five favorites I've been wearing again and again

I’m not entirely sure what motivates me to write these seasonal favorites posts. Maybe its part diary. I know I’ll be interested five years from now in what I wore way back in 2010 (so perhaps this is a little selfish). Maybe it’s partly that I think I might choose scents that you haven’t tried and might be worthy of your sniffing time. But as I said, I’m not sure why I write these posts, but I do feel compelled. Oddly.

Here are the five perfumes I’ve been wearing the most often and completely enjoying each and every time:

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Parfum de Luxe: This is a subtle yet true chypre. The fragrance it most reminds me of is Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Parfum de Luxe is complex and multi-facted, following the beautiful curves along the chypre corridor. It begins with the usual bergamot, citrus opening, evolving through layers of dry florals and rests upon a gorgeous bed of oakmoss, labdanum and sandalwood. The ingredients smell high quality and while it isn’t a “natural” (as in 100% all natural no synthetics) it smells very natural and pure.

Parfum de Luxe notes: bergamot, clary sage, neroli, petit grain and violet. Heart: Bulgarian rose, Centifolia rose, Chinese geranium, honey, iris, tuberose and ylang-ylang. Base: amber, benzoin, oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli, sandalwood, tobacco and vanilla.

Solange Cosmic: This is another I’d classify as a modern chypre, without even smirking or mocking at the “modern chypre” category (which I oftentimes do). Let me immediately get this out of the way; I was initially turned off by the Solange line entirely. It all seemed (past tense) so overpriced and focused on style over substance. The perfumer is Lyn Harris of Miller Harris and she was contracted by Solange Azagury-Partridge who is a London-based jewelry designer famous for her striking sculptural jewelry. There are two fragrances from Solange; Stoned and Cosmic, and each has a seemingly ridiculous addition to their formula, Stoned contains diamond particles and Cosmic contains ground meteorites. Well, Solange is a jewelry house, and everyone should be allowed her own shtick, so I cut them some slack and just gave in to the experience of these fragrances. Stoned is not my style, it is way too powdery, but Cosmic caught my attention, and now that I think about it, it is another in the list of “wasn’t love at first sniff but I grew to love it” category.

Cosmic probably also appeases my inner sci-fi geek. Check out Nathan’s photos for fantastic images of the bottle design.

So what does Cosmic smell like? It’s does not contain that oakmoss blast of classic chypres from days of yore, but it definitely has a mossy personality and an interesting layered development that follows the typical progression of a chypre fragrance. Cosmic starts off weirdly tangy; almost a sour top note over a mossy and powdery base. I’ll be honest; the start might be a little off putting. It’s tangy yet sweet and it’s also mossy and has strong hints of sweet suede-y leather. But if you aren’t gagging right at the gate and you like modern chypres this one is worth trying a few times and definitely waiting for the dry down. It’s a little powdery, but I've found it to be an unusually addictive scent, for those who aren’t put off by the description “sweet, tangy, mossy yet powdery modern chypre.”

Oh, and you also need to know it’s expensive. Cosmic is $285 for a bottle, but for me, I find the kitschy bottle design endearing and I grew to crave the scent.

Cosmic notes: Bergamot, Galbanum, Rose, Jasmine Absolute, Iris Absolute, Patchouli, Vetiver, Labdanum, Opoponax, Myrrh, Vanilla

Teo Cabanel Alahine: I know. You are rolling your eyes. You are a teensy bit tired of my Alahine obsession. But it’s my holy grail, and to tell you that I haven’t been wearing it tons and tons over the past two months would be a lie. Alahine is genius in autumn and winter. This stuff is quite simply, incomparable. Through conversations with Brian, I think I’m coming to understand the role ylang ylang plays in Alahine which might be precisely the reason I am crazy about it. Alahine’s notes read like a floral oriental but it veers more toward ambery oriental for me, with much more focus on dry non-sweet amber, labdanum, iris and benzoin than the roses and jasmine that are mentioned. But there is this molten lava-like vein of ylang ylang throughout, that reminds me a touch of Opium, which I find mesmerizing (thanks Brian for helping me make this connection!). I love Opium but can’t wear it. It feels dated on me and perhaps it’s just Too Much, too many poppin’ aldehydes. I’m coming to think of Alahine as my modern Opium.

Alahine notes: bergamot, ylang ylang, Bulgarian rose, Moroccan orange tree, jasmine, pepper plant, iris concrete, cistus, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, musk

The Different Company de Bachmakov: I have a love/hate relationship with TDC. There are several fragrances I think are fantastic, while there are also several fragrances I think are generic, too fleeting and generally overrated. I love Sublime Balkis and Oriental Lounge. But I adore de Bachmakov. Now, my adoration has lots to do with my enjoyment of the smell of tea and dry spices. If you are the same, and have a fixation on tea and dry spices, de Bachmakov is a beauty. I’m getting a little lazy, so I’ll point you to a review by Robin at NST, which I totally agree with and couldn't have written better myself.

de Bachmakov notes: bergamot, shiso leaves, coriander leaves, freesia, jasmine, nutmeg, cedar and craie douce

Thierry Mugler Garden of Stars Angel Violet: Ok, now you are really rolling your eyes. You’ve lost respect for me. Here’s the skinny, when people say that original Angel is so sweet and so ultimately gourmand it kind of doesn’t register with me. Original Angel, on me, is an unusual oriental, but what I smell are spices and pine needles and clean sweet patchouli. I really don’t get the candy and fruits that others find in original Angel. But Angel Violet, now THIS is a gourmand version of Angel. It is quite simply a candied violet accord infused into original Angel, it’s fairly funky, because if I close my eyes and envisions colors, it’s both purple and green and a little brown. It’s sweet and woody with no florals in sight. Angel Violet is also less potent than original Angel; it’s strong for a few hours but does not last all day and doesn’t project nearly as much. If you like the occasional candied violet scent and also like original Angel, this is delightful.

So, what's been rocking your world this season?


Brian said...

I have a decant of parfum deluxe that you must have given me months ago. Digging around in my stash last week I came across it and sprayed some on as I looked for other things. I don't know how I overlooked it when you first sent it because all night after spritzing I was high on the smell. I think you've described it perfectly. It's mossy and rich but smells very natural, a bit herbal even. It's a pretty stunning fragrance.

Angela Cox said...

This year I bought Bal a Versailles again something I wore years ago. I also fell in love with Iris as a note in perfume and Iris Poudre is my favourite. I was thinking about blogging and your memories . I have decided I must keep a notebook and not leave it to technology . My daughter bought me a Paperblank and I must keep it up to date.

Laurinha said...

I've been wearing Sycomore, Eau Noire and Angel Liqueur de Parfum a few times, but mostly I've made use of Amour de Cacao to lift my spirits on a dreary morning and evelop me with spicy cocoa fumes...SOTD is Zafferano...I wonder what I will be in the mood for, tomorrow? ^_^

Brian said...

I brought Eau Noire to work today Laurinha. For some reason, the shift into colder weather lit the bottle up like a beacon when I glanced at it on my way out the door.

Angela, I found an older bottle of Bal a Versailles Thanksgiving week. Where did you first hear of it/wear it?

Anonymous said...

Seems like our summer draggggggged on into fall here in SW Va, and then we only got a few weeks of autumn proper before winter reared its bleak head (it snowed this weekend, oh yes it did!). So our weather tended toward the late summery warm-and-dry, with only occasional forays into the crisp-and-golden or cool-wet-and-windy that fall weather really means to me.

And that made a huge difference in what I wore. I spent a lot of time in Tabac Aurea and Le Temps d'une fete, those lovely golden olive-green scents. I wore every violet sample I owned. I wore spicy things like Smell Bent One and SSS Champagne de Bois. I wore ladylike things such as Cuir de Lancome and Iris Poudre and Mariella Burani. It was too hot for Alahine or Shalimar Light during the day, but I frequently nabbed a half-spritz to the inner elbow, of one or the other, just before bedtime.

What I didn't wear were those rich spicy-fruity things that I loved last fall, like Dolce Vita and Mauboussin and Rumba. Wore Magie Noire and L'Arte di Gucci only once each, because I kept waiting for the weather to cooperate and it didn't.

Now that the weather has turned cold, Alahine has moved back into regular rotation, along with my Deep Roses like Parfum Sacre and Lyric. Put on some Organza Indecence the other day and could not get enough of it.

Angela Cox said...

Hi Brain, I think it must have been around 1973/4 . I was in my late teens and this and Quadrille were favourites. I think the name of Bal a Versailles was what attracted me ,shallow youth that I was !

Brian said...

Angela, I love Quadrille. I found a big fat vintage bottle a few years ago and need to review it. I don't think I've ever read anything about it. It's impossible to find now, though I have seen Le Dix and Prelude.

Elisa said...

I know what you mean about Angel -- I find it to be a patchouli bomb, really camphoraceous and a little sweaty. So not tame compared to the typical gourmand.

I've been loving roses and geraniums all fall (the aforementioned Agent Provocateur, Rossy de Palma, Geranium Bourbon) and dipping into heavy sweet winter scents on the really cold days: Winter Woods (Y.U.M.), Chergui, and today I wore PdN Vanille-Tonka, which I think of as almost savory, like a spice rub). Also Lolita Lempicka au Masculin and Belle en Rykiel.

Unknown said...

This is my first fall as a fume-head. I've been waiting for the weather to cool off to see what might tickle my fancy and I have been turning to just a few scents over and over again:

VCA - Orchidee Vanille (kinda wallpaper, I know, but I always turn to this one. Time to buy a full bottle, I've used up 10ml in two months!

Lutens - Chergui

Ormonde Jayne - Woman

L'Heure Bleue (I didn't look up the spelling here, so forgive me if I'm wrong)

I have a tiny sample of Cosmic, and really did like it, but I reminded me of something else, which I couldn't put my finger on, but which I guessed cost much less. Does this one remind you of another scent??

Tania said...

I have a decant of Cosmic, and I agree, it's a good one. I'm wearing it today.

I'm wearing Clinique Wrappings a lot, also Gucci (the original) and SSS Winter Woods. And I've been tempted by a few chypres, too - Party in Manhatten, Mitsy, Estee.

Brian said...

Tania, I never hear anyone talk about Estee. I really love that one. How would you describe it.

Same with Wrappings. It's one of my favorites, not just in winter but especially then. There's nothing like it. Did you know the same perfumer who did Wrappings did Knowing? I just saw that recently on NowSmellThis.

Elisa said...

I need to try Wrappings. Is it for sale now?

Brian said...

Beware: it has the aldehydes. But more in line with White Linen, which makes me suspect you might like it. Stores have it right now. They sell it in one ounce bottles over Christmas. They get limited numbers in. Clinique told me they go like wildfire. It's cheap. You should go smell it.

Elisa said...

it's Clinique bonus time at the Lord & Taylor's right by my office: A SIGN, CLEARLY