Reflections on Favorite Perfumes

Suzanna reflects on perfumes that stood the test of time for her. This is Suzanna’s last article for Bois de Jasmin. We’re sad to bid her goodbye, but I wish her much luck and success with her new endeavors. I also wish everyone celebrating Thanksgiving a wonderful holiday. Bois de Jasmin will return on Monday, December 2nd, with its regular schedule.

Trends and fashions notwithstanding, there are fragrances that always  have a place in my wardrobe. These are the bottles that are consistently replaced even as they haphazardly get shoved to the back of the cabinet. They may also be the oldest bottles in the collection and the ones with the most juice remaining. They are definitely the fragrances most often to be seized by sudden necessity—today is a Robert Piguet Fracas day and nothing else will do!

guerlain-mitsouko1

So, here is a peak inside my perfume cabinet. The perfumes mentioned below hit the right spot, year after year.  They are stalwarts and sometimes standbys, but whatever their use they will always be a part of my fragrant life.

Guerlain Mitsouko 

I always keep both the Eau de Toilette and the Eau de Parfum on hand.  The famous peach is mild at first, but the bergamot, spice, and moss are obvious and in the most elegantly rakish way.  When the peach does reveal itself to me, it is a sensation. I’ve been wearing it since I was 19.

Rochas Femme

While some liken Femme to Guerlain Mitsouko, I find Femme more, well, feminine, and definitely sultrier.  Femme is one of my warmest fragrances—it just glows with the cumin note and the interplay of floral and cumin is as smooth as heavy satin. Again, something I discovered in my late teenage years.

Chanel No. 22

This bright, white abstract floral contains an incense base that is almost hidden by the shock of the aldehydes. It took me years to appreciate No. 22, but when I finally “got” it, it became one of my favorite florals. It has a crispness reminiscent of a sheet dried in the wind.  I’ve worn No. 22 for about 22 years, come to think of it!

Jean Patou Joy

Another that took me years to appreciate, until it became one of my favorite rose/jasmine fragrances. Joy is utter luxury with its pairing of florals with green notes over a musky-woody base. At first I thought it too mannered for my casual lifestyle, and then I realized it was always “correct” no matter the occasion. This one I borrowed from a family member when I was around 16!

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc

Of all the scents in the Lutens kingdom, why do I pick the plainest?  Simply because Clair de Musc is hands-down the best “white” musk scent I have smelled. When I want to wear musk, this is what I wear.  Nothing else smells as good to me as this crystalline musk that has been lightly powdered with iris.  Going into its tenth year of wear.

Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur

I fell in love with this one at first sniff.  It’s dark, spicy, and hot and it occasionally sends up a whiff of something animalic and potentially impolite.  I adore the lavender note. One of the first great postmodern fragrances, in my opinion, of the non-perfume perfume type.  I’ve been wearing it for a decade now.

Thierry Mugler Angel

The fragrance that kicked off the fruitchouli craze, 20 years ago.  It’s a bit thinned out now and I haven’t liked any of its flankers, but the more Angel is spun off, the better the original smells.  It’s always smelled to me of patchouli wrapped in avant-garde fashion, where that fashion is for exaggeration and non-conformism.  In my collection for 19 years.

Reminscence Patchouli

Although I love Chanel Coromandel, it’s Reminiscence Patch for me when I want to soak myself in patch.  This is like an aged patchouli that has been infused with vanilla and on my skin it is that and not much more.  When I have a craving for patchouli, I am glad I have this juice on hand!  Discovered this around the same time as Angel, so 20 years in my repertoire.

Montale Vanille Absolu

I’m not a fan of the overtly gourmand vanilla scents (like Comptoir Sud Pacifique) and I especially dislike powdery-sweet vanillas.  Vanille Absolu is neither of those; its vanilla bean seems to have been treated to a touch of oud as well as clove and cinnamon.  The oud really gives Vanille Absolu a richer, warmer character. This is the baby of my stalwarts; I think  I’ve been wearing it since 2006.

Yves Saint Laurent In Love Again

A sparkling, fizzy grapefruit note is a prelude to blackberry musk, rose, peony, and muscat grape.  In Love Again is back on the market, so please comment if you have tried the La Collection edition. My current bottle dates from the second run in 2004. This fragrance is always a thrill to the senses. I’ve been wearing it since 1998’s original launch.

What are the keepers in your wardrobe and how long have you been wearing them?

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40 Comments

  • Cornelia Blimber: Oh Suzanna, I already missed your witty style and beautiful pictures, but now you are really gone. What a pity! Fortunately, your pictures are on Flickr. I often look at them, and most of all I love those lonely, mysterious landscapes and the pictures of animals. ”Amelia Island”, ”Talbot Island”, ”Driftwood at Black Rock Beach” could be illustrations for E.A. Poe. Or the mysterious ”Lake Trahylita”, so sad and beautiful. One of my favourites is “Sea Creature”. And I enjoy daily your wonderful Alligator, he is the screensaver on my computer.
    Allthough I will miss your articles on BdJ, I understand that your talent must go to photography. That you are successful is for sure, and I wish you all the happiness in your further life!
    I agree on Mitsouko, Femme, No22, Joy.
    Muscs are not for me, but patchouly is. Favourites are Borneo 1834 and Etro.
    Femme was my signature scent for years, and my most beloved Guerlain was Vol de Nuit until it was reformulated. Empty bottles are mostly tuberoses, Fracas, MPG, and I love the tuberose note in J’Adore l’Absolu. Carnal Flower was the star of my collection, but suddenly it gives me headaches.
    As time goes by, I forget some perfumes more or less, but the staying ones are Femme, Joy and all the Guerlains, except Chamade. And I love also grey, chique iris perfumes: Dior Homme, Shalimar L’Initial, Iris Silver Mist… November 27, 2013 at 7:59am Reply

  • BlinkyTheFish: I loved Angel when I first discovered it in the early-mid 90’s, it smelled of overripe nectarines, chocolate and pine (high quality patch?) I wasn’t the only one to think it. I had a few random people state it smelled ‘of Christmas’ back then). Utterly bizarre but wonderful. It’s definitely thinned out now and when I smell it on other people it makes me think of anise-y cotton candy and the new style clean patch. I’m pretty fragrance fickle and constantly edit, especially with reformulation radically changing a lot of scents (Coco parfum was a favorite once, but even the parfum now is a different creature to the early 90’s version), but I still love and have Bois des Iles (still smells like haute couture gingerbread) and Eau de Rochas (still retains that minerally aspect that most colognes don’t have) November 27, 2013 at 8:10am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Suzanna, I’ve been interested in perfumes for some time but I only started wearing them on regular basis recently. So I really don’t have any keepers yet. I still find the opening of Mitsouko challenging but I feel excited when the peach finally reveals itself.

    I only started reading this blog from this summer so I haven’t had the chance to read many of your posts but I vividly remember how your photo matched your review of L’Ombre dans L’Eau perfectly. Your photographs are really amazing, especially those of water landscapes! Thank you for your contributions to BdJ and I wish you the best of luck with your career! November 27, 2013 at 8:14am Reply

  • Leah: Oh no! I am so sad to see you go! I have truly enjoyed all of your posts, especially your recollections of the 1980s perfumes as they brought back so many memories for me. As far as standbys, we share Femme, No 22 and Mitsouko (but then again, all the old Guerlains are my stand-bys). I would have to add Parfum Sacre to the list and if I keep going, no one else will have a chance to write. As for today, its Fille en Aiguilles :) I will continue to follow your photography – I am always amazed that you are able to make our home state look so wondrous. Best of luck!! November 27, 2013 at 8:34am Reply

  • rosarita: Your excellent writing will be missed, Suzanna, but I enjoy your photography very much and I wish you all the best. I’m a fan of Clair de Musc also, some days nothing else will do. My own list includes Coco, Shalimar, Bulgari Omnia, White Tea and red tea, Messe di Minuit and Black Cashmere, among others. November 27, 2013 at 8:49am Reply

  • Portia: Hey Suzanna,
    We will miss you. I hope the next adventure is as successful and engaging as this has been and that you enjoy it immensely. Wishing you mainly good, minimum of crap and loads of love,
    Portia xx November 27, 2013 at 9:26am Reply

  • Tijana: Great article and thank you Suzanna for all the lovely articles you wrote, we will miss you! November 27, 2013 at 9:42am Reply

  • Jillie: So sorry to see you go, but just wanted to wish you lots of luck for the future. Your photographs are works of art, so the perfume world’s loss is the photographic world’s gain! November 27, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

  • Hannah: My first perfume was Lolita Lempicka, when I was 16. I wore this from about 2005-2006. Then I wore YSL Opium for about 2 years. Then in 2008, I started reading blogs and ordering samples. Bulgari Black became my regular go-to in this year and I also bought Donna Karan Black Cashmere and Alexander McQueen Kingdom.
    Black Cashmere is a perfume that I will always need on hand, even though it is uncertain that it will always be available. Most of my perfumes are unisex, so this is my feminine perfume. I’ve seen it described as “butch”, but I really couldn’t disagree more.
    Wonderwood hasn’t been around for very long, but I see it being a big keeper for me. When I travel I usually bring Wonderwood and Black Cashmere. They’re really all I need. November 27, 2013 at 9:55am Reply

  • nikki: Your photos are breathtaking! I love the water scenes you depict in such poetic style!

    Agree on most perfumes, especially your inclusion of Reminiscence Patchouli and always Mitsouko….

    I love Shalimar extrait, so that will be on my list as well as O de Lancôme and APOM pour femme and Scherrer, the original. November 27, 2013 at 10:11am Reply

  • Zazie: You will be missed!
    I join everyone else in wishing you all the best for the future: your pictures are so inspiring.
    I’ve always been interested in perfume, but it wasn’t until a few year ago that I started to explore the “parallel perfume universe” (i.e. the classics and the “niche”). I have already noticed a pattern, however – there are fragrances that I come back to, again and again.
    My own 10 staples are:
    Shalimar
    New York
    Fracas
    Bois des iles
    Vol de Nuit
    Chamade
    Attrape Coeur
    Kai
    Tubereuse criminelle/a la nuit
    N°5 extrait
    Ninfeo mio

    …I cheated didn’t I?
    But many of my daytime staples don’t coincide with my evening favorites, so 10 was really too limiting!!! ;)
    Loved reading your list. Am really impressed by your confident and impeccable taste as a teen! November 27, 2013 at 10:21am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: My stapes are:
    My staples are:

    Hiris
    Clare de Musc
    Kyoto
    Bois des Iles
    Chanel No. 22
    Musc Ravaguer
    Carnal Flower
    Tubereuse Criminelle
    Chergui
    Cuir de Russie November 27, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

  • Lucas: Oh Suzanna!
    I wish you good luck on the new path you’re taking and here’s to hope that you won’t disappear from the Perfume Land completely and that we’ll still get to see you around commenting at BdJ or other perfume blogs.

    The perfume I wear the longest is Prada Amber Pour Homme, I wear it since 2009 regularly, since 2006 occasionally (I didn’t have my own bottle then, but sprayed at Sephora as often as I could) November 27, 2013 at 11:30am Reply

  • silverdust: Suzanne, loved your photos. You have some talent, kid! You’re going places!

    My staples include Agent Provocateur, Egyptian Blue Musk, Omnia, Calandre, Guerlain Vetiver, and one of the standouts of a small internet entrepreneur, Fireside.

    Best of luck to you, and Happy Thanksgiving to all. November 27, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Annunziata: I’ve enjoyed your posts and wish you well with your photography career, you are obviously very talented. I love your list — I lean heavily on the classics myself. Joy has been my consistent favorite among the great classics since my late teens which is a long, long time. I am very glad it’s popular with you, as well. November 27, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

  • Elisa: Best of luck Suzanna! Your photos really are stunning.

    The perfumes I’ve been wearing the longest are White Linen (since I was 13 or so), Egoiste (15), Gucci Rush (18) and Angel, which I’ve found fascinating since its launch, but I’ve never actually owned a full-size bottle — samples and a little purse spray have seen me through. Older the better of course, since the patchouli used to be so full-on camphoraceous. November 27, 2013 at 11:49am Reply

    • Ziggy: Egoiste is the best. I remember the TV ads when I was a little girl and was thrilled to finally get a sample about 20 years later!! The Platinum is a travesty that doesn’t deserve to share the name. December 1, 2013 at 2:41pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Suzanne,

    May all your future endeavors hold the beauty that your photographs possess. Keep in touch with Bois de Jasmin.

    The mention of Rochas’ Femme, Mitsouko, In Love Again (was I the only one who wore, loved and received multitudes of compliments along with Van Cleef’s First on that one. What nostalgia that so many of these fragrances held (for you, for me) and for those who celebrate the forthcoming holidays — eat responsibly! November 27, 2013 at 11:59am Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Good luck to you Suzanna…I wish you well in your new endeavor! November 27, 2013 at 12:22pm Reply

  • Eva S.: Love love love your photos!:)
    My staples:

    Chanel no 5 elixir sensuel (in winter)
    Jour d´Hermes
    CK Eternity Aqua
    Balmain Ivoire
    Montale Attar

    Will be missing you! Best of luck! November 27, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

  • Alicia: Ah, Suzanne, we will miss you so much…. Thank you for all you gave us; thank you so much. May Fortune and happiness be with you always. November 27, 2013 at 12:49pm Reply

  • maja: Will join the others in wishing you all the best, Suzanna. I would also like to thank you for your wonderful reviews that made me discover gems like Pamplelune and Patchouli Antique. :)
    My staple remain Mitsouko, N. 19, Vol de Nuit, Chamade and Eau de Rochas. November 27, 2013 at 1:02pm Reply

  • Cybele: Your perfume insights will be greatly missed and I hope we will still hear from you from time to time in the future! November 27, 2013 at 2:05pm Reply

  • minette: suzanna, have fun with the photography! what a great thing to do! i love shooting, too!

    you and i are total scent twins – except for the two i don’t know – the reminiscence and the montale. but since we are totally matched on the others, i bet i would like those, too! i’m a big patch fan, and not such a big vanilla fan (because it gets amplified on my skin).

    have been thinking about paring down my huge collection, and when i ponder it, i keep finding gems i want to hang onto, so nothing actually happens!

    if i had to create a core collection, it would definitely include femme de rochas, musc ravageur, une rose, lumiere noire pour femme, ambre sultan, shalimar, jicky, irisia, fantasia, bois des iles, coco, and oh, heck, who am i kidding, a whole bunch more!

    if i see a perfume, i remember why i fell for it, even if i don’t want to wear it at the time. and so they remain… patiently waiting for me to find them once again.

    cheers! November 27, 2013 at 2:48pm Reply

  • Figuier: Thanks for so many great articles – you’ll be missed! But those pics are definitely worth concentrating on :)

    Your list of staples is great…do love seeing Angel on the list.

    My ‘staples’ sometimes take a back seat for months on end but I always come back to them:

    Philosykos
    Cristalle
    Terracotta
    Songes
    Sycomore

    and every few years, at the oddest times, there’s the craving for

    Une Fleur de Cassie November 27, 2013 at 2:50pm Reply

  • Liz K: Best wishes to you, Suzanne! You will be missed. My standbys are Mitsouko EDP, No. 5, Safari, O de Lancôme, Un Jardin Sur le Nil, and In love Again. I had no idea In Love Again was available. I hoarded several bottles in 1998 and am halfway through the last one so may need to jump on it before it disappears again. November 27, 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

  • rainboweyes: You are such a talented photographer, Suzanne, I will miss the beautiful water scenes… Hope to see a guest post from you on BdJ now and then, though!

    As for long-time favourites, I’m pretty sure all my scents, even those which joined my collection just recently, will become staples. The only one that I’ve been wearing for over ten years now, is Hiris.
    I discovered the world of niche perfumery about five years ago, so I’ve been wearing most of the scents in my rotation since then. Most of them are real loves and I actually haven’t regretted any of my purchases. My top favourites are Hiris, 28 La Pausa, Iris Silver Mist and Dzongkha. November 27, 2013 at 3:34pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I will miss your posts on here. I wish you all the best with your beautiful photography. (V’s announcement prompted me to look at your photos on flickr, which I should have done a long time ago.)

    My old standbys are first and foremost:
    Paris YSL, well you gave it 5 stars so you’ll probably understand that one. (25)
    Trésor, Lancôme (18)
    Nina, Nina Ricci (the 1987 version) (20)

    Since getting seriously interested in perfume I have added:

    Sacrebleu, Heure Exquise, Gold, Aromatics Elixir and Rien. November 27, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

  • Cyndi: Wow, we have some of the same staples: Fracas, Mitsouko, Chanel 22, & Angel. Rochas Femme was a favorite in my late teens, but it’s been reformulated so much that I don’t recognize it anymore.

    Your photos are exquisite. I wish you every happiness and success. November 27, 2013 at 4:52pm Reply

  • Mel: Susanna, your photography is RAVISHING!!! I grew up in Atlanta and Florida was a frequent destination — your images brilliantly capture its exotic and sadly evanescent beauty. I will be following your career with interest! And thank you for all of your reviews. I’ve enjoyed them immensely!!! November 27, 2013 at 8:31pm Reply

  • Bluepinegrove: Suzanna, I have greatly enjoyed your posts, and we have many scent preferences in common. Your knowledge and perspective have contributed much to my appreciation of perfume. Best of luck with your endeavors! November 27, 2013 at 8:58pm Reply

  • kaori: All the best! Thank you for beatiful pictures I have enjoyed very much. November 27, 2013 at 10:28pm Reply

  • Anka: Oh, I would love to have a photo calendar for 2014 full of your pictures, they are so amazing! I started reading BdJ about a year ago and enjoyed all your contributions very much; the evocative review on Santal Noble this summer made me find my favorite sandalwood…I wish you good luck! November 28, 2013 at 2:36am Reply

  • annemariec: That’s a wonderful list and it reminds me of my perfume youth too, when there was really no niche or mainstream, just more or less expensive. I love the way you write with such affection for stalwarts and standbys. All the best for the future – we will miss you.

    There are only a few perfumes from my earlier years that I still wear. I’ve worn Chanel No 19 and White Linen since the mid-80s. Pleasures is a leftover from the 90s that I still wear. I’ve left behind YSL Paris, Paloma Picasso, Joy (never really clicked with it anyway) and Laura Ashley No 1. I LOST my Magie Noire in some house move and that really does make me sad. November 28, 2013 at 5:16am Reply

  • Solanace: Dear Suzanna,

    I’m happy you are concentrating on your photography, since your work is really good. However, please don’t quit writing. You are great in that camp too, and the two things go well together -just look at Sophie Calle or Sebastiao Salgado. I shall miss your articles here. Wishing you loads of luck in your new endeavors and ‘wide open paths’, as we say here. November 28, 2013 at 5:47am Reply

  • Ariadne: Dear Suzanna,
    Thank you so much for your articles here! I am so happy for you expanding on your terrific photography talent! November 28, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

  • Isis: Hi Suzanna, Good luck with your new career, and thank you for your lovely articles! I love the topic you chose for your last post, it is fascinating to read through the lists in the omments.
    The perfumes that stood the test of time for me are:

    Chanel no. 19
    Hiris
    SL Douce Amère
    Chanel no. 5
    Gucci Rush
    Gucci Eau de Parfum
    Eau Sauvage
    Rocabar

    My sniffing-radius has been limited, but when I get my hands on more money and more time to travel, I will add a little more niche to this list. And I would like to add Fleurs d’Oranger and Boxeuses to the list, but I have only known it for a few months, that doesn’t count as ‘standing the test of time’, does it? November 28, 2013 at 2:56pm Reply

  • Ariane: Dear Suzanna,
    thank you so much for all your wonderful articles here,wishing you all the best-perhaps you could come back once in a while?Many of us would be thrilled!
    Now I am going to have to check out the Monyale Vanille Absolue! November 28, 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

  • The Blue Squid: Good luck with all of your things; your photographs are great! My perfume that I have stuck to is Comme des Garcons 2.  On my skin since ’99.  I first purchased it on a trip to Sydney, shortly after starting work in a proper job after university.  The smell of it is wrapped up in that exciting time, buying some of the nice things that tertiary students usually can’t afford, but working people sometimes can. December 2, 2013 at 7:54am Reply

  • Annikky: Dear Suzanna, I will miss your posts! I really have enjoyed them all. And you’re the only reason I’m on flickr :)

    I haven’t been interested in perfume for very long, so I don’t have a list of old favourites. But I don’t think I’ll ever want to be without Fracas, Iris Silver Mist, Feminite du Bois, Cuir de Russie and Boutonneire no 7. December 3, 2013 at 7:12am Reply

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