Smell the revolution

nmos14NYCHow many of us wear perfume to draw attention to ourselves? I think few, actually. We wear perfume for ourselves, for pleasure, and we worry about it being too much for the folks around us, if we are being “that person” whom everyone else can smell coming a mile away.

What if we wanted to draw attention to ourselves? What if we were protesting? When you protest the job is to draw attention to yourself, through your movements, your actions, your sounds, your look.

Participating in attempts to continue to draw attention to Ferguson, MO here in the United States, I notice that it is hard to get Americans these days to draw attention to themselves. At least some Americans. There are always the brash youth who have little shyness, and of course there are those who well understand the value of drawing attention to make a statement, like this man I saw in Union Square who brought this sign to make this statement:

Americans’ number one fear is of public speaking. But this guy didn’t have to make a sound.

I’ve seen perfumes that draw attention to causes, like Sweet Anthem and Blue Marble Energy’s EOS perfume that had a zero carbon footprint. And of course they can benefit causes: perfumes from Justin Bieber’s Someday to Alan Cumming’s 2nd Cumming donate their proceeds to charity (perhaps the only thing those two gentlemen have in common). But don’t we shy away from a perfume that would draw attention to itself? Or even more shockingly, us?

Can you think of any contenders?

Is part of the problem that perfumes don’t speak with words? Because they cannot speak for us. But they can have presence. And we can have presence.

Personally this month I would like to have a perfume that shouts. Preferably when I cannot shout with my voice – for instance when my throat is closed up with tears, or if I am standing silent at a vigil for those who have lost their lives to police brutality. If I were always able to express myself with perfume – not just enjoy it, but express myself – I need a perfume called “Film the Police” that would be all-purpose, indoors and out, and preferably last through long events (and perhaps through marches, or getting arrested) and which would say indelibly, “I am here. I will not be ignored. This injustice must not be ignored.”

Photos taken by me. #NMOS14 National Moment of Silence for victims of police brutality, Union Square, New York.

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The pleasures of sweat

theheatisonAm I the only one who doesn’t use perfume to fight the heat? Of course, I can talk – this is the mildest summer I’ve had in a decade of living on this godforsaken island, with very little real heat to complain about.

But even in the swelteringest summer, I complain about still air as much as heat. And that can be fixed with air conditioning – noisy, not-environmentally-friendly air conditioning, but air conditioning all the same. If I’m supposed to be sitting in work clothes looking like a grownup, of course I don’t want to be sweaty. But the rest of the time I don’t mind sweating – I want to keep my sunscreen on, but otherwise, I like to feel my muscles warm. I love hot tubs and the sauna. And I don’t dance to perform; I dance to sweat.

No one likes to just sit around dripping sweat, but I learned over several summers working in a dry cleaner’s that sweat won’t kill you either. I learned how to stay hydrated and keep moving. In the warmer months, I get as lazy and unmotivated to move as anyone. I have to remind myself to keep moving – and if you’re going to move your body in the summer, you can’t mind sweat.

I don’t want a perfume for the faux-cooling – in fact I don’t want the sensation of alcohol evaporating off my skin. I want something that won’t grow to suffocate me. As I move from over-air-conditioned office to my kitchen or a shower or the gym, I want something that won’t rise up and throttle me with its fake woods or chemical-smelling powdery rose.

It had better not cling to me with vampire claws. If I wash it off, I’m done with it. No massive musk molecules dragging about on my hems, please. My nose gets tired more in the heat; in fact the tiniest dab of extrait on the breastbone may be too much if it’s still there four hours later and my mind, weary with overstimulation, is ready for a rest – or a new story.

I want brambles in Sleeping Beauty’s garden, I want tender magnolia petals melting onto my tongue, I want coolly shining jewels unhidden in a soft dark hiding place of earth. I don’t want clean and I don’t want chilly and I don’t want more fake air conditioning. Air conditioning is for sleeping in, when it’s too hot for sleeping in your bedroom and you can’t sleep. Perfume is for the living.

Am I the only one who loves that sensation when you push your damp hair away from your neck and the air blows over you and cools your moist skin?

My summer favorites this year:

SoOud Ouris – elegant citrus iris. This is cool thick threads of pure linen, that wear like iron and absorb whatever you pour out, ad infinitem. Perfect summer luxury.

Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande – the meadowy cleanliness of a wooden shower outside your cottage. Reminiscent of southern France in that heat cannot wilt it and it wants you to believe it is a little too good for you. Never too much.

Profumi del Forte Tirrenico – as previously stated, a beach experience par excellence. It has enough underground to it not to be blown away on the breeze, enough richness to it not to be overcome by the other swelling smells of a hot summer. Vacation-y.

By Kilian In the City of Sin – a party in a bottle. This open-handed combination of fruit, flowers and incense never makes me think too hard, never taxes me. I love its stupid dragon-embossed travel spray and I love it for its easy, uncomplicated attractiveness; like a girl who reads, it’s kinda sexy not just for everything it is, but everything it makes me think about. Wonderful memories of the Spanish vacation during which I bought it.

Guerlain Encens Mythique – Splendid summer concupiscence. Leather cuffs restraining hands and feet among a bank of fresh-cut blooming flowers while the slightly-too-warm smoke of incense blows over my body. A gorgeous adornment for sweat-soaked skin. Long-drawn-out indulgence.

What are you wearing that isn’t just to stay cool? Do you agree with me on the pleasures of getting hot?

Image is “the heat is on” by jenny downing, via flickr. Used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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Obligatory Beach Perfume Post

beach-floridaI think what’s special about the smell at the beach is dead things. Sorry, not particularly romantic in a perfume blog, but it’s true. The sun-cooked, salt-pickled smell of seaweed that has washed up on the beach is heaven to me, and the smell of a real oceanic beach, with its sand and rocks, would smell antiseptic if it weren’t for the fantastic rich smell of everything alive and ex-alive that is in the ocean. Full disclosure: I also love the smell of Thai fish sauce and Worcestershire sauce, both made of fermented fish.

That’s the umami-rich smell that’s missing from a lot of beach perfumes, I think. I don’t long for the smell of coconut, frangipani, or Coppertone. I want to smell the smell of life, like sex, like blood, that is the real living ocean. And even of life-giving ex-plants and ex-animals. Those are the smells I associate with the beach, as a born California girl and as someone who would rather be at the beach, any beach, anywhere, ever, than just about anywhere else in the world.

So beach perfumes don’t usually thrill me. I do enjoy them, as pretty summer scents. But I passed on CBIHP’s At the Beach when I saw it at Bendel’s closeout sale on fine perfumes recently, and I own, but don’t often reach for, a bottle of Azureé Soleil, solely because of the way Ari at The Scents of Self loves it. I love things that really smell like Hawaii, which is its own set of smells; I love MCMC’s Maui perfume, for instance. But that is a scent as much about tropical flowers (which are gorgeous!) as about any actual beach.

I still quite enjoy Olivine’s Amongst the Waves, but my go-to “let’s try to enjoy the smell of a beach this summer” scent has been Tirrenico by Profumi del Forte, which I discovered because of Olfactif; though the Profumi del Forte line has been beckoning to me for a while, and I DID get a bottle of Versilia Vintage at the closeout Bendel sale, because it is ridiculously gorgeous and ridiculously expensive and it was a good time and place in which to make that splurge.

I’ve quite been enjoying Versilia Vintage, which deserves its own review; but I’ve also been enjoying Tirrenico, which I’ve decided is perhaps the best beach scent I’ve found yet. There’s a coconut note to Amongst the Waves (and to many beach perfumes) that speaks to me of suntan lotion but nothing found in nature on a beach. Tirrenico skips that part, and I like that.

Also the (to my nose) white floral, marine/vetiver, wood, green oak moss, and slightly herbal accords are about as close as you can get, not to a tropical beach, but to an Atlantic beach somewhere on the eastern U.S. seaboard. Maybe not as rich as if there were fermented fish somewhere around, but close. It’s fully structured, not the hollow marine/musk shell you get with so many beach perfumes; but it is not, to my nose, particularly floral; and it is multifaceted without being overpowering. There’s a lot IN here; it’s not so blended that it becomes all one scent, but awfully close. You are not walking around smelling grass, or flowers, or marine scents; it’s all one lovely perfume, that stays with you like an impression for as long as it lasts (which is quite a while). Best of all, no one around you will ever think you are wearing Eau de Coppertone. It’s beautiful, totally unisex, and my new favorite “scent of beach”.

This scent is more affordable than my darling Versilia Vintage (which is apparently “Boise” but says that nowhere on the label – also, it looks as though it was a bigger bottle? IDEK), and I don’t know why I don’t see more about this scent – or this line – on the perfume blogs. Hard to find, I guess; Henri Bendel had it but their fine fragrance section is no more. (I happen to know that some of their sales staff considered this line their favorite, and were sad that it was going away even before Bendel decided to do away with its fine fragrance section altogether.) Luckyscent carries it. These are very well done, well constructed scents, with no nose hype, no excessive packaging (why the Swarovski crystals everywhere, Bond No. 9?? Why???), no stupid fake backstory, no eight million products in the line, no crap. Just good perfume. Which I’m really enjoying.

I’m going to need to cut back severely on my perfume purchasing this fall to meet some of my other personal goals, but next time I splurge on samples, I’m going to get some more of this line (probably starting with the By Night White and Black). And I’ll probably be buying more, if they’re still available in this country by the time I get around to it.

Meanwhile, it’s August, I started this review three weeks ago, so you can take it for what it’s worth. One of my rare “I really thought about this for a while” reviews. Tirrenico. Beautiful beach-inspired scent.

Image is “Melbourne Beach, Florida” by Daniel Piraino, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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Sorry. I’ve been a Bisy Backson.

SO I moved. And I took a class. I helped hold a conference, presented at another one, took a different class. Work went a bit haywire. And I’m still unpacking.

I’ve been doing some other things for my fun down time than perfume. A bit of writing, and setting up my house. Now that I . . . → Read More: Sorry. I’ve been a Bisy Backson.

Everything is ———

I’m not low maintenance. I feel badly for my nearest and dearest sometimes. (Though if I were low maintenance, I wouldn’t have been able to do a lot of things that I’ve done that I wanted to do.) Sometimes I make myself tired. Where to start, what to say, when I’m feeling picky and pokey . . . → Read More: Everything is ———

Gotta move

Yes I want to write a wrap-up of Sniffapalooza, start reviewing some of the perfumes I smelled (I’ve really been enjoying SuléKó’s scents – I think there’s an English site too somewhere. The perfume is intended to follow in the footsteps of classic Russian perfumery; the bottles are to die for.)

But I have to . . . → Read More: Gotta move

Merry Candy Perfume Wedding

Today the Candy Perfume Boy, well-known perfume reviewer and the fellow who made me fall in love with all fumes Mugler, is getting married.

After weeks, perhaps months of speculation, Thomas revealed that his wedding fragrance is .mito by vero profumo. So in honor of his wedding, I’m wearing .mito today and decided to review . . . → Read More: Merry Candy Perfume Wedding

Hoard Porn 2: The Drawer Returns

How can the drawer return? You haven’t seen the drawer yet! The first hoard porn post was about the top of the bureau!

Deep breaths, everyone. Deep breaths.

This is Drawer 2 of perfume in my lingerie bureau. The drawers have held up surprisingly well to fairly heavy bottle storage. A lot of older and/or . . . → Read More: Hoard Porn 2: The Drawer Returns

It’s got to be love or nothing

The plain truth is that I would do much better at holding down my perfume acquisition costs if I only bought things I truly loved. How well do you do?

I think one of the challenges is overintellectualizing the whole thing. I convince myself I want an amber or a vetiver. So I go shopping . . . → Read More: It’s got to be love or nothing

Goddamn Housekeeping

So after hours of work to set up and hack to look the way I wanted it to look, and one week of working properly, Pie Register needed to be updated — which broke everything.

I can’t get it back to work after 20 minutes and I don’t care enough to dick around with the . . . → Read More: Goddamn Housekeeping