Monday, July 14, 2008

A Few Faves du Jour


This is one of those superlatively subjective posts that I’m doing just because it feels good. For a great many perfumophiles, fragrance is a form of therapy. Like a person who finds in a glass of wine a problem to be worked out (“what am I smelling in here?”) or the amateur pianist who plays an étude to experience the composer’s tonal dilemma (“what was he grappling with, sonically?”), the person with olfactory sensitivities turns to the ... bottle – No, I mean the flacon.

This evening, after the gym, I spread out on my desk about fifteen perfumes. There were some Parfumerie Générales, some Profumums, some Tauers, some Frédéric Malles and some Serge Lutens. For the most part, I knew them. So I begin sifting through. First cut, second cut and, finally, the remaining three bottles: Une Fleur de Cassie (Frédéric Malle), Incense Rosé (Tauer Perfumes) and Bois de Violette (Serge Lutens).

There were a great many very good scents there before me, but these were the masterpieces. Or to be more precise, the masterpieces of Blending. (I guess, then, you’re thinking that this is my response to the Top 25 Fragrances postings on many of my sister blogs. Honestly, it is. I just can’t bring myself, however, to sum up great things in four words or less.)

Une Fleur de Cassie is as beautiful a perfume as they come. It’s like the feeling that comes when you’ve finished a chapter of Colette; a feeling, that is, wagered on the piling up of pastel adjectives – the prose equivalent of a Renoir oil sketch. Mimosas and almond milk and pearls held up in the light. It’s a floral that doesn’t project the aura of flowers. It’s a meal and a kiss and a brush stroke all in one.

Incense Rosé took me months to comprehend. It’s one of the very few incense perfumes that does the “incense thing” with boldness. If Chaim Soutine and Philip Guston got together to create a perfume, this would be it. To me, it’s not rosé – it’s as “rouge” as it comes. All I get here – and if that were all, I’d be ecstatic – is a canvas caked with red paint; caked, and then overlaid and glazed with wonderful things, like vetiver and myrrh. And then, comes the rose. Big and red and bit blown.

Bois de Violette is the type of perfume that, as a boy, I’d have associated with a very rich and elegant woman on a cold night. That said, it’s gorgeous even on summer evening in New York City. (Caveat: I’m indoors with the a/c running.) Wood, violets and something like purple silk cravat. God, I love alpha-methyl ionone ... especially, with the dark touch of Messrs. Lutens et Sheldrake. Warm, sweet and delicious.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Andy said...

I feel truly honored. Thank you!

July 15, 2008 at 2:29 AM  
Blogger Perfumeshrine said...

Lovely choices!
All the Bois scents in the Lutens Codex are sublime, but in that range perhaps that one (Violette)and Bois et Musc have a way to play with my heartstrings.
The task of eliminating and organising however, to make a list, is deeply pleasurable and frustrating at the same time.

July 15, 2008 at 4:25 AM  
Anonymous MarkDavid said...

yes, you're quite right with the Chaim Soutine reference, thats very Incense Rose. I enjoy IR, but rarely do I find Im in the mood for it, but then I have yet to experience it in winter when it will probably be one I'd reach for more often.

July 15, 2008 at 8:06 AM  
Blogger Vetivresse said...

Andy- Bitte schön. You've created something really lovely.

Elena- I have yet to try Bois et Musc. Ashamed to say it. But I will, soon.

MD- I find a little incense refreshing in the warmer weather. Its dimensionality is different. Think of Lawrence of Arabia and a thousand extras charging toward Aqqaba.

July 15, 2008 at 9:51 AM  
Blogger Billy D said...

How appropriate, since I just yesterday finished reading The Pure and the Impure. Fleur de Cassie is one of the only Malle's I have not really tried out, for fear of its femininity. I guess it's back to Barneys I go...

July 15, 2008 at 10:11 AM  

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