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What goes around

inacircleI wanted to do a “Perfume in 2015” post, but I didn’t. I haven’t been reading or writing much about perfume lately, as other hobbies/interests plus real life have taken up a lot of time.

It’s caused me to rethink my devotion to perfume. This blog’s been going on since October 2010, can you imagine? What on earth am I even doing?

Oo, patchouli.

That’s the thing: I think perfume has become a feature of life for me, like food, like water, like the cat. My day feels spare without it, and though sometimes I want or need to be spare, most of the time I do still like my luxuries.

2015 was so devoted to a ridiculous amount of work that I barely paid attention to my perfumes, yet I still managed to acquire a ton more, and investigated things I hadn’t investigated before.

My perfumes got more minimalist, and less snobby. I wore Gucci Guilty a lot. A lot. That lavender musk amber is never not right. Covet also got a lot of wear; in fact I bought a solid just to carry it around with me. I dragged out Natori and Adam Levine for Her, both always a pleasure. I looked for cheap thrills in TJ Maxx’s, honestly because I didn’t have a lot of time to consider perfume purchases. Vintage Bloom, nothing to write home about; Eau de Gaga, surprisingly good cologne in a year of good colognes. Dalal by Al-Rehab, four dollars and twenty cents of honey-sweet goodness. Awesome.

Some of my 2014 favorites carried over: In the City of Sin, how I adore you, you spicy peach gorgeousness you. I rediscovered things I had in my collection but had never loved: Bulgari Omnia, you floral spicy musk classic, I don’t know why I overlooked you but I’m glad we reconnected. I investigated a lot of rose. MCMC’s Talon didn’t excite me as much as I wanted it to; still don’t get why everyone else loves Neela Vermeire’s Mohur but it is more wearable than I originally considered it. I wore a lot of iris. Hermes’s Hiris found its way into my collection right before the gorgeous blue bottle disappeared from shelves forever. I continued to investigate vintage. The teeny bottle of Kelly Caleche in my glass cabinet is a spicy skanky powerhouse. I really did find a glorious patchouli: vintage Coryse Salomé Nuit d’Opera, highly recommend. I bought my annual Atelier: Jasmin Angelique is kind of perfect in a way I didn’t know I wanted, an androgynous dry all-purpose jasmine.

But weirdly, as I turn the corner into 2016, I must admit that I am going back to my original loves and re-investigating, or re-enjoying them, again. I never stopped loving tea. I will always be sad that Creative Universe by Beth Terry disappeared and took with it the glorious Element of Surprise. Le Labo’s Thé 29 was a nice interpretation, and I’m planning to try some Jennifer Lopez Still just because of the tea note too. I picked up some Omnia Crystalline to try, but still prefer my beloved Eau Parfumée Thé Blanc. Some of my favorite patchoulis and ambers feel weirdly heavy to me now, but still gorgeous (Psychédélique, you heavy velvet quilt of a thing!). Philosophy’s Amazing Grace was reformulated away and I did search out a few bottles of the disappearing original: a trailblazer with its floral tomato leaf. I tended to go back to old decants that I never drained and was so happy to carry them around with me, like a puppy that discovered a forgotten favorite toy behind the couch and was reunited with it.

My thicker, more complex perfumes seemed to just demand too much of me. I wore my Amouages, my Memoir and my Fate, a couple of times, but I didn’t have the brain space for them. I liked Sunshine but am sad to say that it is the first perfume I really had a noticeable respiratory allergy reaction to (I hate to say it but there it is). Journey has gotten more wear from me; it’s easier on my brain and pretty and that’s about where my mind is at. That’s as far as I have capability for right now.

I’m still waiting for No. 23 to come back into stock at Ava Luxe; I took a rollerball with me on the plane, I don’t know why, I know not to do that, and I dropped another little bottle and broke it, and this is one  of my all-time desert island standbys and I desperately need more. I wore Montale Vanille Extasy a couple of times as well. That apricot vanilla just never fails to cheer me up. I even went all the way back to Donna Karan Gold and wore that once, in the EDT to try to keep it light, and found it ridiculously huge. What must I have smelled like eight years ago. It is still, however, beautiful.

I noticed a list on NST that one of the readers had put together of the most-mentioned perfumes of the year. I had smelled almost none of them.

So 2015 was in many ways still a year full of perfume discoveries for me but nothing newsworthy or notable, perhaps. I’d still like to chime in from time to time to point out Stuff I Think, but it will have to wait its brainspace turn.

Image is “Living in circle” by Jen Son, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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Copy love isn’t lesser love

duplicate-originalI should write this post after I receive the bottle of vintage parfum Fleurs de Rocaille that I finally broke down and bought, but after all I decided not to wait.

Because it’s actually FLEUR de Rocaille that I love.

Yes, the one in the much cheaper pink (not Baccarat) bottle.

I bought Fleur de Rocaille early in my perfume collecting habit – 2010, maybe? – but not so early that it was one of the first things I smelled. I knew even when I first smelled it, at a Caron event, that there was nothing particularly groundbreaking about Fleur de Rocaille.

I didn’t know, I don’t think, that it was a descendant – a devolved copy, if you will, or perhaps even just a ripoff – of its antecedent in the same Caron brand, Fleurs de Rocaille. Fleurs – plural Flower, not singular, and no I can never keep them straight without Googling – dates back to 1933 and was composed by the legendary Ernest Daltroff for the Caron line. Luckyscent still sells it (and warns you that it is not to be confused with the singular Fleur.) I’ll tell you what it smells like, or at least what a vintage bottle smells like, when I get my hands on it. I have learned to appreciate oakmoss over the years but I don’t worship it the way a lot of perfumistas do and I don’t know exactly how I will find it.

But Fleur de Rocaille has just proved to me again that my most impulsive perfume purchases are often some of my best. I bought it on first sniffing and have never regretted it.

I haven’t worn it in years, I must say, and had even been wondering lately where I had left it. Then I got up yesterday and went and looked and yes, it’s right in the drawer where it’s supposed to be, oddly enough, in a position of “Favored but not most precious”.

And I put it on and enjoyed it just as much as I did when I first bought it.

(Well, to be honest I did do some “throat-clearing” sprays into the sink in the bathroom first – it HAD been a while since that plunger was depressed.)

I had forgotten how cheap the bottle looks, with its pink juice and its plastic cap. But don’t let me neg this perfume. It’s really very, very pretty and to me, it’s the epitome of “wearable under all conditions.”

The construction of Fleur de Rocaille is definitely that of the type of fruity-floral clean patchouli that is too omnipresent these days. But here’s the thing: I don’t object to fruity-floral clean patchoulis. It’s just that I feel like when you’ve smelled one, you’ve smelled them all. To be honest, I think they smell good; it’s just that I can’t tell them apart.

Fleur de Rocaille, though, doesn’t bore me. This formulation, which apparently dates to 1993, takes the big white floral bouquet of the 80s and adds a quieter feminine touch with the addition of a few purples – maybe lilac, or violet. The fruit is practically unidentifiable to me, which makes me question whether it’s fruit at all. To my nose, it isn’t berry, it isn’t peach, it isn’t pear. It might almost be apple, of all things, but if so it’s practically unidentifiable as such. It also isn’t sticky and it isn’t cotton candy sweet. I kind of like the thought, if only because apple is such an American fruit, and apples smell beautiful (I adore the floral-sweet scent of a perfect Fuji apple), but they don’t feature heavily in French perfumery for obvious reasons. I like the idea of some secret apple tucked away in this bouquet.

In fact, perhaps one of the best features of Fleur de Rocaille is its balancing act. Not balancing like one of my big orientals likes to balance, with amber sword blades flashing over a molten lake of cumin or perilously shivering atop an axehead of vanilla. This isn’t a bunch of big things in productive tension. This is a tea tray balanced to perfection with flowers in a nice, perhaps porcelain, vase. It isn’t precious or baby-girl and it doesn’t mince. But it is arranged, and purposefully illuminated in appropriate spots, like a Vermeer painting.

The base of Fleur de Rocaille I think is a cleaned-up patchouli but one you wouldn’t notice as such unless you were looking for it, I think. In fact, as a drydown it’s probably the least basey base I can think of. I think that’s part of the reason you see different stories in others’ reviews about whether it’s a musk, or a sandalwood, or patchouli. It’s clean but it’s not distinctive; it does not overshadow the previous sections of the perfume, which some might consider a drawback (if your favorite part of a perfume is the drydown, this is not for you) but which I consider simply a well-made part of this perfume.

Several online reviews also mention its longevity, which is impressive for a perfume that isn’t made up of a heavy vanilla or patchouli base. In a world where people seem to have gotten the impression that the job of perfume is to smack passersby and say out loud “I AM WEARING ANGEL, PEOPLE”, Fleur de Rocaille is admirably restrained simply in lacking a whacking great base.

Its longest-lived section is the fruit and floral center, which can be a benefit if you like it or a catastrophe if you hate it. I can only imagine that some of the online reviews who found it loud or screechy are recovering from overexposure to Flowerbomb and are wearing nothing but vintage Miss Dior in retaliation. Fleur de Rocaille is the opposite of screechy. It is not an 80s powerhouse but it has learned something from them and moved on – moved on to a more grown-up place.

(Don’t forget I love me some Angel and I love me some 80s powerhouses. I own Giorgio, goddammit. I’m just saying that this is NOT that.)

I’m so pleased to have rediscovered it in my collection. I would be very relieved if I spent the rest of my days rediscovering things and adding a lot less! Particularly if the rediscoveries are as pleasant as this.

Image is “Duplicate Original” by woodleywonderworks, via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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Despite snob

Hi all, sorry I haven’t been posting (if you missed me); I’ve been busy and have to prioritize. I haven’t forgotten about my little survey either; since the point of it was for me to learn how to do a regression analysis, trust me, I’ll be back to it, but not right away.

But that . . . → Read More: Despite snob

What do you do in the heat?

There are a lot of tricks people pull out of their perfume hats when it gets hot. There’s the keeping it in the fridge trick, for instance.

I own a lot of light, sheer perfumes. I own several of the huge Marc Jacobs splashes (yes, they all dry down the same, but the initial impression . . . → Read More: What do you do in the heat?

Fun with research

***EDITED TO ADD: THANK YOU, THE DRAFT SURVEY IS NOW CLOSED! Stay tuned for more news on this project! ***

Do you like Undina’s posts about perfume stats of various sorts!? Of course you do! We’re perfume nerds and we love data about perfume.

As it happens some buddies and I are studying survey design . . . → Read More: Fun with research

Telling twins apart

Is it just me or is it sometimes hard to tell a flanker apart from its original? I guess if it smelled exactly like the original, I wouldn’t buy it. But I’ve bought two flankers recently that other perfume reviewers (with much better noses) reported as having all these different notes; to me they just . . . → Read More: Telling twins apart