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Housekeeping

maytagI did some upkeep at UnseenCenser.com, updating our password and login management. I’m not sure I like it. Hopefully no one who has an existing account will have any problems, nor will people who join us hereafter.

If you DO have any problems, please do drop me a comment or email at unseencenser at unseencenser.com!


Image is cropped from “Maytag ad 1928“, shared on Flickr by genibee. Used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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The dark heart of a tea party

darkheartOne of my goals on my recent trip to Europe was to stop in the U.K. to sniff as many scents from 4160Tuesdays as possible.

The delightful and knowledgable Sarah McCartney, nose and owner of 4160Tuesdays, made it very possible by kindly allowing me to visit her studio and smell EVERY. THING.

I discovered 4160Tuesdays just before the UK brought the hammer down on exporting liquids. I bought scents that were being discontinued, or smaller bottles – What Katie Did at Weekends, Over the Chocolate Shop, and the truly stunning Lady Rose Lion (Monkey Unicorn). By the time I had sniffed and enjoyed these, and wanted to try more – bam! No exporting straight from the UK.

But you don’t have to be frustrated! No! Because Luckyscent is now selling 4160Tuesdays! This is major excitement!

In a world where sooooooo many perfumes smell, if not the same, then similar (I will refrain from inserting anything here about the same noses so often being tapped over and over again), 4160Tuesdays smells very different.

Sarah McCartney spent many years at LUSH, and has a fascination with natural ingredients; but she also knows what makes a perfume work and isn’t afraid to work with synthetic ingredients too. Her combinations have been referred to as vintage-smelling, because of that balance; but they don’t smell the least bit vintage to me – except perhaps for something like her popular Urura’s Tokyo Cafe, which is green and rich, and has a hint of something not unlike vintage Miss Dior or even Vent Vert. But fresh and new, because she mixes it up fresh and new herself.

Sarah adores raspberry leaf extract and the pungent rich green smell permeates her studio. That type of a smell – crushed, green, sour, juicy – is very indicative of Sarah’s work and the whole line of her perfumes. It’s hard to describe – the scents are very much perfumes, but they don’t smell much like any other perfume out there these days.

The ups and downs of the interesting ingredients work together beautifully, but only in the far drydown become one seamless whole. When I huff one of 4160Tuesdays’ perfumes, the textures of the various ingredients play off each other, like instruments in a jazz combo. I’d recommend starting with something in this line that plays the type of notes you already know you like.

As a huge gourmand lover, I chose The Dark Heart of Havana. This sweet tobacco scent is luscious and I not only want to wear it on its own, I want to blend it with everything else. It captures the fruitiness of tobacco well, and smells not like you’re drenched in fake sugar, but like someone is cooking sugar syrup somewhere. This lusciousness lasted on me for well over five hours.

I also love Says Alice, which reminds me of Alice in Wonderland though it’s probably some friend of Sarah’s named Alice (she has a personal system for naming things). This lemony biscuit of a scent is also perfectly balanced: not too sweet, never heavy, but somehow capturing something that no other lemony scent has managed to do. (And I’ve tried them all. Though apparently I haven’t, as Katie Puckrik’s penpal Dan has more suggestions for me, including a Profumum – Acqua Viva – that I’m going to have to smell.)

(And if you’re in the UK – because it can’t be shipped out and it isn’t being carried elsewhere – and you love the herbal tonic smell of gin, put down the Juniper Sling or the Gin Fizz, and pick up some of The Gin Garden. It’s on Sarah’s sale page now. It makes me roll my eyes in pleasure. I can’t explain it. It’s gorgeous.)

Both Dark Heart and Says Alice layer beautifully. Which is weird, if you think about it. Because these perfumes are (I’m sure of it) using ingredients that aren’t commonly used, and have a really distinct personality. Yet they mesh and meld with the best of them. Like the cool kid at a party. They stand out, yet are at the center of everything; the party wouldn’t be the same without them.

I’m expecting (hoping) to see these pop up at more stores. This is such an interesting line from such an interesting nose. If you get to try some, drop me a line!


Image is Long Exposure Hearts by Tracy Wilcox, via Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

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Enter the Colognoisseur

Colognoisseur-logoDid you notice the new blog in the blogroll to the left? The Colognoisseur is perfume news, highlights, information, and musings by none other than Mark Behnke, long famed in the perfume world.

If you’ve ever been to a Sniffapalooza you know Mark, in his Hawaiian shirts and hat holding court wherever the caravan happens to light. Chances are you’ve spoken to him, as he is outgoing and involved in the good time being had by all.

It isn’t easy to get out of bed at 6:30 for Sniffapalooza’s Bergdorf breakfast on a Saturday and I would totally give up on Sunday altogether except for the EAU lunch (Emerging Artists Uncorked), which is always really new and interesting perfumes and perfumers, often that I’ve never heard of before. And Mark introduces them all with thoughtful flair. He really pulls together what’s happening in the perfume world and I appreciate an intellectual overview.

But that’s not all Mark is. He’s discerning but open, and his genuine mad passionate love for perfume shines through at every event. I have bought perfumes specifically because of Mark’s recommendations; while I wouldn’t wear everything he wears (we have different tastes), I smell everything he ever mentions, because he smells everything, and if he’s pointing it out as interesting, it’s interesting.

I’m delighted Mark is now writing his own blog at Colognoisseur.com and invite you to check it out!

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Cotton candy that feels Smart

Increasingly I’m thinking of perfumes in terms of shapes. When I say that something blew up into a hollow bubble, that’s really what it feels like to me: no substance, but an aura almost solidified into a shell. It might even be shaped like an igloo, with a beginning in a different shape, or something . . . → Read More: Cotton candy that feels Smart

Le Monstre: Let’s talk about Chanel No. 5

I wanted to understand Chanel No. 5 for the same reason I wanted to understand Shalimar. Maybe it’s intellectual curiosity, maybe it’s a desire to fit in, maybe it’s just bullheaded competitiveness, but if everyone else loves something, I want to understand why – even if I don’t love it too.

Just like with Shalimar, . . . → Read More: Le Monstre: Let’s talk about Chanel No. 5

The appeal of the fanatic

One of my favorite writers growing up was James Herriot, and one of my favorite quotes was from a short story of his about getting accidentally drunk sampling homemade wine. “An enthusiast is appealing but a fanatic is irresistible,” is the way I remember the quote, and I think of it often as I pursue, . . . → Read More: The appeal of the fanatic

The delight of acquisition

En route to a much-needed vacation, I decided to do a whirlwind shopping tour for some perfume. By whirlwind I mean I literally spent 24 hours in London and 24 hours in Paris.

Lots to talk about, lovely things (and a lovely conversation with the lovely Sarah McCartney of 4160Tuesdays!, which I had SPECIFICALLY wanted . . . → Read More: The delight of acquisition

On the other hand: value

OK, after all this defending of expensive perfume, let’s swing the other way for a while.

This week I’ve been snorting Bohemian Black, by House of Matriach, and my beloved vintage Vol de Nuit, which I was able to pick up at a relatively reasonable price from another perfume fanatic who was rehoming it.

If . . . → Read More: On the other hand: value

Elephant in the room

It’s not cool to whine, right?

I don’t want to be one of those websites where people come to complain. But there’s at least one company that I just cannot do business with any more. Their website is nonfunctional, the staff seem to be completely out to lunch; I’ve never had a transaction go smoothly. . . . → Read More: Elephant in the room

Roja Dove, Rock Star Parfumeur

I discovered Roja Dove perfumes at the spring 2013 Sniffapalooza, and I’ve been falling ever since.

It’s been quite a ride. Of course I knew about Roja Dove, parfumeur par excellence, before then; he’s the fellow that you see in any documentary about perfume (I’d seen the BBC miniseries), and I bought his book . . . → Read More: Roja Dove, Rock Star Parfumeur