Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Smell Funny, Part 2

Here I bring you Part Two of my post on the white floral perfumes that have been irrationally possessing me of late. I think it's sort of a magical thinking effect -- if I wear the summery smells, summer will arise. Because Style Spy does not like the cold, my friends, despite it providing her with the opportunities to wear her large collection of gloves and boots and vintage velvet coats & jackets. Sure, I love the cashmere and the suede, but at heart I'm a summertime gal.

And apparently, my strategy is working -- it was in the mid-70's today! Hooray! For all those wishing for a white Christmas here in Austin, I do apologize. Actually, I don't. I moved to Texas so I wouldn't have to deal with the white stuff anymore. And all those wishing for a white Christmas in Austin are deluded souls, anyway, 'cause that just ain't gonna happen.

But back to sniffage...

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Jasmin de Nuit by The Different Company

I have two very beloved jasmine plants on the balcony of my apartment. One is a Maid of Orleans jasmine and one is a confederate jasmine. They are both gorgeous and intoxicating, and the smells of their blooms are wildly different. Confederate jasmine is spicy and licorice-y, and that's what we have in this perfume because of the hefty doses of anise & cardamom that blend with the flower, all resting on a nice cozy bed of amber. This is olfactory comfort food for me -- a soft, spicy, delicious floral that is almost tangible in its warmth. The days that I wear this I find myself spraying it compulsively -- going back to my dresser again & again just to get another hit, maaaaaaan. Hypnotic, addictive, and yet somehow familiar & comforting. Bliss.
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A La Nuit by Serge Lutens

Jasmine. Jasmine, jasmine, jasmine, and more jasmine. This is what perfumistas call a "soliflore;" the focus of this composition is a single type of flower. This is the Maid of Orleans jasmine -- a high, keening, slightly green laser of a scent. True jasmine in full bloom has a sweetness so piercing that it verges on plastic -- it's off the scale, the olfactory equivalent of dog-whistle territory. I've smelled a lot of jasmine perfumes in my time, but none come anywhere close to replicating the smell of the actual plant like this one. This isn't a "rendition" or a "version" of jasmine -- it IS jasmine. A rich, sexy, lay-you-out, drop-dead gorgeous bomb of white flower and it requires more than a little bit of spine to carry it off. You've never heard the expression "shrinking jasmine," have you? There's a reason for that.

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Un Lys by Serge Lutens

Being as this is the third Lutens fragrance I've talked about, I feel I should tell you that M. Lutens is not actually the nose, or composer, of the perfumes that bear his name. That title belongs to a genius named Christopher Sheldrake, who is the magician behind these wonders. Sheldrake is... well, a lot of his fragrances are downright eccentric and a few of them I would not wear for love nor money (Miel du Bois, anyone? ::shudder::). Serge Lutens is a legendary figure from the world of cosmetics, famously connected to the Japanese company Shiseido, which is the corporate parent of all these little beauties, and of Lutens' own carefully edited and obscenely expensive line of cosmetics. (The mascara is 60 bucks. Seriously.) That being said, Un Lys is one of Sheldrake's most accessible fragrances. It's just... pretty. It's lovely floral-print chiffon frock at a tea party pretty. Another soliflore, this one lily, it is light, quite green and has definite lilac notes, with a soft hint of non-sugary vanilla in the drydown. No one could argue with this perfume -- it is everything light and feminine and good without being unctuous or childish.

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Amoureuse by Parfums DelRae

My HG floral. (That's "holy grail," for all you non-perfumistas.) It's a massive white floral: tuberose, jasmine, and lily juiced up with a tiny bit of tangerine and deepened to almost obscene sexiness with a warm rich honey basenote that suffers from none of some honey notes' unfortunate tendencies. (Honey notes often bear a remarkable resemblance to urine. Not pretty. Phenyl acetates, which are the chemical compounds most often used to represent honey in perfumes, are also present in the composition of human urine, and can smell like either thing depending on how they're handled and what their concentration is. There. I sneaked a little chemistry into today's lesson!) There's also a cardamom note throwing a rich spiciness into the mix. (I do loooove me some cardamom in fragrance.) The perfume is supposed to smell like the lindens, or box trees, that grow in San Francisco, where the company is based. I dunno if it smells like box trees or not, but I adore this stuff. I'm not alone in this, although in the interest of full disclosure it is a bit much for some folks. It is extremely potent, I have to be very careful how much I spritz. But if I know I'm going to be at home by myself all day, I'll really douse myself and revel in it. It's intoxicating, this perfume -- a great high with no hangover. One of my Top Three. (Perfumistas often play our version of the professional chef's Last Supper game: if you had to narrow your collection down to three, or five, or ten, which would they be?)

So that's how I've been smelling lately. I don't think it's likely to change soon, since I've just received my new decant of Chanel Gardenia from The Perfumed Court, so I'm about to begin a whole new love affair with a whole new white flower. What perfumes are you wearing lately? What perfumes are you hoping to receive for Christmas?

Tell ya what. Since it's the holidays and all that, let's do a giveaway! Leave me your name in the comments section and this weekend I'll draw one. Winner receives samples of A La Nuit, Carnal Flower, Amoureuse, and Bergamot 22!! Happy sniffing!


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Usha said...

hey! i love your blog. i stay in India and my sense of fashion has to match everyday needs, nevertheless, i love reading about style and your spying, might i say, is pretty good? :) can you do some stuff on winter wear? i love winter wear! :)

rosarita said...

Another great read, SS! I adore jasmine and lily, and we have the same citrus trifecta as well. I learned last summer how fabulous white florals smell in the heat and your post makes me long for that scent. Here in the frozen Midwest, I'm in full comfort heady spicy wood & incense mode: Black Cashmere, Comme des Garcons, Shalimar, Coco and my beloved Obsession. So many sneer at the big O, but that bergamot top note is addictive, and the tiniest of sprays is plenty. Please enter me in your drawing!

Anonymous said...

Yea for the perfume giveaway--count me in!

Anonymous said...

These all sound wonderful, especially the Bergamote and the spicy jasmines. Have you ever put together a scent guide for us poor souls searching for our frangrance soulmate?

Anonymous said...

I'd love to try some new scents - been wearing the same one for 25 years (Clinique Aromatics Elixir) and though my love loves my perfume, we may need to mix it up some. Name=Carol contact

Kathy and Judy said...

Please enter me in the drawing! I left another comment but the internet swallowed it (I think) so I apologize if there's a duplicate.

r r s said...

I can't smell anything right now. It's the allergies. I can't tell how much fragrance I'm wearing because I can't smell it, anyway.

Unknown said...

Oh yum! I haven't smelled Amoureuse in forever...count me in!!!


Anonymous said...

I am not a perfumista, but your writing on the subject is so poetical, I am inspired! I would love to try some Style Spy-approved fragrances.


Anonymous said...

Like dragonfly, I think the interwebs swallowed my comment! Great post, and I love the blog!

Please enter me in the drawing--name: Billy D

Anonymous said...

I am truly addicted to your blog. It's wonderful stuff. And then you offer the opportunity to win perfumes when I just found out two days ago that my husband actually likes perfumes on a woman! Count me in!

carmencanada said...

Hey girl! Apart from the Le Labo Bergamot (I hate going to Colette where the line is sold in Paris), you've just named practically all my big white flower loves. Another one is Divine's Divine: diva flower fest, quite close to Balenciaga Michelle if anyone remembers that one... And another thing: white florals are *also* perfect in the cold. It takes them into a different dimension. Hothouse chic.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to try the perfumes! And I loved your post about tying bows with your mom. Have a great holiday.

Anonymous said...

just discovered your blog - great writing and great fun. Please enter me in the draw.

Anonymous said...

I fell hard, about a year ago, into perfume-mania. Sampling like crazy, many decants, but I've only bought 5 full bottles in the last 12 months. A la Nuit and Jasmin de Nuit are two of them. I'm insane over both of them, but I totally agree with you about Jasmin de Nuit..there's something so comforting about it, and an almost candy-like sweetness amid all those spices that is just perfect. My brand new bottle should arrive on Christmas Eve! Yay!