These are the ten perfumes the wonderful Ayala Moriel offered up for her readers to guess at over on her SmellyBlog. As far as I know, all are still in production, with the possible exception of Bvlgari Black, which has been rumored to be discontinued several times over the past few years. They also seem to be more or less intact, though surely some of them have been nipped and tucked a bit, especially the ones with hefty doses of citrus oils. The packaging for Anné Pliska, never the best part of that perfume, has been violently pinkified. Please do comment if you have more information about availability or formulation.
1) “The high, singing scent of lemons fading to the spring green of honeysuckle growing along a creek, and a bit of the muddy banks, too.” (p.12)
I had never noticed the honeysuckle vines growing rampant along the little creek near my house until I started wearing Annick Goutal’s Chèvrefeuille. Then one morning in spring I was out walking the dog and noticed a familiar scent… This is great place to start for the perfume shy who don’t think perfume can smell “natural.” I also think it would be lovely on a young girl who wanted something besides the usual celeb fare.
2) “The scent of night-blooming jasmine, heady and heavy with fruit and a touch of ashtray – the lovers were smoking before they disappeared into the brush.” (p.12)
A somewhat fanciful reference to (rather than description of) Etats Libre’s Jasmin et Cigarette–now disappointingly renamed Jasmin et Tabac. (Apparently cigarettes are now more taboo than male genitalia, a cartoon version of which decorate the bottle of another of their perfumes, Secretions Magnifiques.) JeT performs the neat trick of going from smoked to unsmoked tobacco. It begins with a true hit of ashtray that rapidly transforms into a honeyed tobacco rich with jasmine. I first discovered during a long hot week in New York so it will always smell of the city in summer to me, a little overripe, a little dangerous, a piece of a louche life I never lived.
Read the rest of this entry »
There are a few perfumes in my collection that seem to exist only so I can give them away. I don’t wear them regularly myself, but I find them so delicious on other people and am so sure they will please that I end up re-stocking regularly to make sure I have some on hand for my next victim. Hermes’ Terre d’Hermes, the perfume I shared with my friend Parker in Chapter Six of Coming to My Senses, is one of those perfumes. Read the rest of this entry »
For once I have an iron-clad reason for leaving a perfume unnamed: the JAR perfume I fell for in Chapter Five doesn’t have one. Like Prince in his Artist-Formerly-Known-As phase, it’s official name is a symbol–the bolt of lightning etched on its understated glass flacon, an echo of the one that streaks across the moody mural painted on the ceiling of JAR’s New York boutique.
“Most people call it Bolt of Lightning,” the SA admitted on my recent visit to New York when I tested it again in the middle of Sniffapalooza madness. I am very happy to report it is the same perfume I first smelled in February 2007, and I still find it astonishing every time I put on a few drops from my precious limited supply (acquired in the swap of a lifetime).
Bolt of Lightning is essentially a petrichor perfume–the scent of rain on dry earth–amplified and orchestrated into a grand opera of a storm. Read the rest of this entry »
I recently received an email from a reader who told me that though she loves reading about about perfume, it seems like “there isn’t a scent pale enough in the world” for her. She’s hardly the only person I’ve met looking for a gentle, pastel sort of perfume. Sometimes I think the shy perfume-curious people who make their way up to the counter and ask for something “clean” or “natural” really mean they want something that won’t make them feel smothered or overwhelmed. Often, they end up with something scrubbed so thoroughly it’s gone thin and limp–or worse, brash and soapy. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It took me a long time to appreciate tenderness in perfume, but when I did it was a revelation that went far beyond scent. Near the end of Coming to My Senses, I describe walking across Central Park in early spring from the West Side, where I’ve been staying with a friend, to the East Side, where the museums and the fancy department stores are. Once there I visit a perfume boutique. Before I can stop her, the sales assistant sprays a blotter with a perfume I don’t think I care for and offers it to me. Out of politeness, I take it, and sniff… Read the rest of this entry »
Starting today, perfumer Ayala Moriel is inviting the readers of her excellent SmellyBlog to guess the names of ten perfumes described in Coming to My Senses. Those who guess all ten perfumes (or more than anyone else) will be included in a draw for a copy of the book and some of the perfume featured in it. There will be two winners.
I have already written about one of the perfumes on Ayala’s list and I will write about another this week (along with some not on the list) so if you want to participate in the contest feel free to look through the archives and do stay tuned. On Friday, I will post the correct answers to all ten perfumes with a few words about the current status of each and Ayala will announce the winners of the giveaway over on her blog.
Feel free to continue asking questions (or shouting out guesses) about specific perfumes in the comments section. Any perfumes I don’t cover this week, I’ll try to cover the next. It is entirely possible more perfume will be given away in the process. In the meantime, head on over to Ayala’s blog to make your guesses. I’ll be back here tonight with the first post in the series.
Note: Some folks have told me they had trouble figuring out how to make a comment. Just click on the “comments” link up above, or the title of the post and the comments box should pop right up. The first time you comment I have to approve it, but after that you are good to go.
Image: Louis Jean François Lagrenée , Mars and Venus, Allegory of Peace, 1770