Uncommon Scents

I've come to the conclusion that I don't have a particularly discriminating palate (however, my palette is great). By which I don't mean that I can't tell crappy food from good, and I can certainly detect rancidness (last night I almost got poisoned by clammy, bitter shrimp and cocktail sauce from Costco–yes, I realize Costco isn't where someone concerned about pristine seafood would shop for said seafood, but I wasn't the one who bought them).

I mean that I don't know that I have the capacity to detect nuances in wine, and now perfume. After reading bits on how perfume here and other places I forget now (and being wowed by this couple's dead on assessment of Bond No. 9's Chinatown that I bought samples of off eBay a few years ago. It reminded of saliva, was vaguely sexual and didn't suit me at all. They totally called it "slutty.") I wanted a part of this magical world I decided I not only needed a signature scent but to experience some revered perfumes.

As  New Yorker I totally have access to some greats first-hand, I could go to Frederic Malle or Le Labo or that store Aedes de Venustas that sounds intimidating, but because I'm a shut-in and am becoming one of those once-reviled people who will pay for convenience (I took a cab last week from our work neighborhood–it was James' idea, and paid for a car service to La Guardia when I went to Oklahoma City instead of the subway to bus scenario, and frankly the 20 minutes and $38 with tip was worth not spending an hour-and-a-half on public transportation during rush hour with luggage even if it cost $35.50 more) I resort to the internet for lazy sampling.

Inspired by the New York Times' former perfume critic (yes, there was such a short-lived post) I ordered both En Passant and Bigarade samples from The Perfumed Court where you can get tiny doses of $150+ scents for like $5. I was also swayed by because I'm trying to understand what chypres, a commonly used term, smell like and the description sounded perfect. I still don't get what fougère smells like exactly.

 It turns out that chypres aren't my thing at all, nor the much loved Frederic Malle perfumes. Neither Bigarde, nor En Passant or Serge Lutens' Chypre Rouge excited me in person and I wonder if I'm incapable of detecting notes and subtleties. It's quite possible. I am always stuffed up and feel like I have a chronic low-grade head cold. I want exotic but in practice like sweet scents (I've owned Hanae Mori Butterfly [interestingly the male version was also mentioned in that New York Times piece as a favorite] and Lolita Lempicka, which are both candied and girly, oh, and Hypnotic Poison, which I rarely wear. All scents you can pick up at Sephora, and therefore not that unique. I'm picking things that sound good on paper when I need to find something that suits me more in practice. There should be (or is there?) an online recommender as in if you like Hanae Mori Butterfly you will like x, y, and z.

The more I read, the more it seems that I like gourmands and orientals, things with amber and/or vanilla, but not overtly. Ok, I now have some to-tries: Bond No. 9 New Haarlem (though not sure about the maple syrup descriptor), Serge Lutens' Rahät Loukoum (like that it's been compared to Turkish delight) and Ava Luxe Loukhoum (ok, just realized loukhoum means Turkish delight–who knew there were numerous perfumes named after the candy?). Oh, and what the hell? Serge Lutens' Jeux de Peau is described as having notes of bread, milk, coconut and licorice? I need that too.

I will report back on this very important matter shortly.



One thought on “Uncommon Scents

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