Mrs Dalloway and Perfumes of 1925

I’m a latecomer to Virginia Woolf’s writing. Mrs Dalloway was the first Woolf’s novel I read, and its prose, such as the excerpt below demonstrates, is so hypnotizing, I look forward to discovering more of her work.

“There were flowers: delphiniums, sweet peas, bunches of lilac; and carnations, masses of carnations. There were roses; there were irises. Ah yes–so she breathed in the earthy garden sweet smell as she stood talking to Miss Pym who owed her help, and thought her kind, for kind she had been years ago; very kind, but she looked older, this year, turning her head from side to side among the irises and roses and nodding tufts of lilac with her eyes half closed, snuffing in, after the street uproar, the delicious scent, the exquisite coolness.

mrsdalloway

 

And then, opening her eyes, how fresh like frilled linen clean from a laundry laid in wicker trays the roses looked; and dark and prim the red carnations, holding their heads up; and all the sweet peas spreading in their bowls, tinged violet, snow white, pale–as if it were the evening and girls in muslin frocks came out to pick sweet peas and roses after the superb summer’s day, with its almost blue-black sky, its delphiniums, its carnations, its arum lilies was over; and it was the moment between six and seven when every flower–roses, carnations, irises, lilac–glows; white, violet, red, deep orange; every flower seems to burn by itself, softly, purely in the misty beds; and how she loved the grey-white moths spinning in and out, over the cherry pie, over the evening primroses!

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Organizing Your Perfume Collection

Corralling those pesky perfumes, or my attempts at organization is how Patricia described to me her idea for this article. As you will see, she was being modest, and her organization method is impressive. 

First, let’s get this out of the way. I have a lot of perfume. But, if you are reading this, chances are you have a fair amount yourself and struggle, as I do, with containing it all. The first stages of perfume collection don’t pose a problem. A few bottles here, a few samples there are easy to keep track of. However, once the collection swells (I swear, those dab samples in their neat little plastic bags multiply like rabbits!), some form of organization is necessary if you want to find anything in under an hour. The following is my method, which has evolved over the years by trial and error and is not meant in any way to be a guide or “how-to.”

chanel tray

Housing. My collection, large as it is, lives in three different locations: a tall, narrow cabinet in the bathroom, a shelf below my bedside table, and my dresser tabletop. (Newly obtained samples, of course, can be found floating here and there throughout the house.) None of these locations is ideal for perfume, which likes dark, cool places, but I don’t want to keep my perfume locked away in a special refrigerator, and for the most part I either never had or didn’t keep the original boxes. I make some effort at limiting direct light, but that‘s about it.

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Recommend Me a Perfume : November

Bois de Jasmin will return on Friday, November 7th. Today we have our “Recommend Me a Perfume” thread. You can use this space to ask any questions about perfume, including fragrance recommendations. If you’ve asked for a recommendation before, we would love to hear how your search went and what you’ve discovered.

chestnuts

How does it work:

1. Please post your requests or questions as comments here. You can also use this space to ask any fragrance related questions. To receive recommendations that are better tailored to your tastes, you can include details on what you like and don’t like, your signature perfumes, and your budget. And please let us know what you end up sampling.

2. Then please check the thread to see if there are other requests you can answer. Your responses are really valuable for navigating the big and sometimes confusing world of perfume, so let’s help each other!

To make this thread easier to read, when you reply to someone, please click on the blue “reply” link under their comment.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

The Simple Art of Dreaming

One of many reasons why I’m captivated by scents is their ability to take me out of the ordinary and into the world of fantasies. They inspire me to dream, but because a perfume is a story with a set of characters, plot twists and backdrop changes, there is always a sense of discovery. In this spirit of discovery, if you have 10 minutes, I would like to invite you on a short animated journey with “Hedgehog in the Fog”.

Why this film and what does it have to do with perfume? At first glance, little, but its themes of curiosity, adventure, and discovery, its lyrical atmosphere, and its fascinating characters plunge me into the same dreamy state as the best perfumes. Hedgehog in the Fog, created by Yuriy Norshteyn in 1975, is also a must see because it’s an animation masterpiece, cited by renowned animator Hayao Miyazaki and director Michel Gondry as one of their favorites.

I won’t tell you the story, which is very simple, but every second of this 10 minute film is exquisite, supported by incredible drawing, muted colors, and a haunting soundtrack. It was made for children, but it’s really a little philosophical tale for adults.

“‘I wonder,’ thought hedgehog, ‘if the horse falls asleep, will it drown in the fog?’ And he started descending into the fog to see what it was like inside.”

Caron En Avion : Perfume Review

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I’m not sure why exactly I decided to revisit Caron En Avion after so many years, but it might have been inspired by my reading of Miklós Bánffy’s The Transylvanian Trilogy. An epic novel set in the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before the First World War, it paints the vanished world of the Hungarian aristocracy, the era that was quickly coming to a close. There is something equally poignant and nostalgic about En Avion, a perfume created by Caron’s owner Ernest Daltroff in 1932, just a year before Count Bánffy started writing his masterpiece.

caron

En Avion, as the name suggests, was inspired by the first pilot women such as Helen Boucher and Amelia Earhart. It was a luminous but dark orange, dipped in the sweetness of jasmine and the incense-like warmth of opoponax. It was spicy but also cool and mossy. The kind of fragrance that could only have been the product of Daltroff’s eccentric pairings and the era’s penchant for perfumes thick as fur coats.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

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  • Betsy in Bad Smells: It’s All Relative: I love this article! It is so interesting the individual perceptions of smell and how drastic they differ. My husband and I still talk about how my son’s dirty diapers… November 24, 2014 at 10:53am

  • Victoria in Bad Smells: It’s All Relative: Once I lived next to a coffee house and I was stumped by the fishy smell emanating from its building every morning. Took a few days to recognize it as… November 24, 2014 at 10:34am

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