Perfume 101: 158 posts

Here you can find how to guides to selecting, testing and enjoying scents. Also includes are the lists of our top favorite perfumes for different occasions and articles covering all range of topics related to fragrance. If you’re curious to step inside a perfume lab (or even become an industry professional), this group of essays will be of interest.

7 Mimosas and Carmen

The scene: Brussels, an early evening cast in grey light. A woman walking slowly down the street. Behind a window covered with condensation she sees It. If it were a French New Wave film, the woman would have met the love of her life with whom she’d spend the next hour and a half exchanging meaningful glances and an occasional quote from a postmodern philosopher. But being my life, this is an evening when I find mimosa.

mimosa and tea

No flowers make me lose myself the way these fluffy yellow pompoms do. I’m not the only one–a heavily pregnant friend once traveled from Brooklyn all the way to Manhattan just because she heard that one florist shop on the Upper West Side might have received a shipment of mimosas. When I walk home, my arms filled with the bouquets, even the darkening light seems to radiate the same lemon yellow color.

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10 Perfumes for Cheating Winter

There is no reason to keep citrus, white florals and other effervescent blends only for the summer month. As Elisa explains, they’re as perfect for the winter as they are year-round.

I’ve written the top 10 list for the past three winters, and both last year and the year before, I focused on traditionally seasonal perfumes – rich orientals and boozy ambers and gourmands. It’s true that in winter, I reach for my heavier perfumes about 5 days out of 7. But at least once or twice a week, I’ll get a craving for something that’s not very wintery at all, and on “cheat days” my out-of-season perfumes feel like a special treat by contrast to the usual fare.

bird cherry

Below are ten of my favorite perfumes to wear when I feel like cheating on winter.

Clarins Par Amour Toujours – We usually associate citrus with summer, but December is actually peak grapefruit season! Par Amour Toujours looks cute and harmless in the bottle, and there is some pink rose in there, but more pronounced is the invigorating grapefruit, bolstered by a blackcurrant note so green it’s almost piney.

Pinrose Treehouse Royal – There’s nothing like blackcurrant to cut through the fog of winter. Its pungent sweetness serves as a kind of palate cleanser after too many days of heavy, smoky orientals. Treehouse Royal is a great find – similar to Byredo Pulp, but much more affordable, it’s a bright mix of currant and fig, with a clean drydown like musky soap. Continue reading →

Pink, Perfume and Blush

I like pink. It’s one of the most intriguing and unpredictable colors–cheerful and aggressive, uplifting and alluring, delicate and tawdry. Pink in its pale, ballet slipper manifestations can seem precious and dainty, but saturate it–or contrast it–and the effect becomes much more subversive. Move anywhere outside central Europe, and pink’s reputation for girlishness and frivolity begins to appear less certain. Already in southern Spain and Italy the simple coquetry of this shade turns seductive and smoldering–in the hot pink of the matador’s cape and flamenco skirts, the Sicilian church frescoes and the intensity of bougainvillea against the chipped white stucco of Moorish palaces. Forget about pink being just for debutantes when in India; real Indian men wear pink. The intense tropical  sun bleaches pastels to nothingness, but pink holds its own, forcefully.

pink1

The monochrome January palette needs an infusion of brightness, so my interest in things rose and fuchsia colored is correlated with the length of winter. This is probably why by the time spring arrives and the beauty magazines insist on pastels, I instead turn to greys and ambers. Pink can find its many expressions, in perfume, blush, lipstick, and it need not be only about roses.

Consider Frédéric Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur. The polished woods and musk would give it a sober air of an Oxford don, if it weren’t for a vivid geranium boutonniere. It’s bright and dramatic, an interplay between geranium’s green metallic and velvety floral notes. Pour Monsieur uses a particularly intense geranium essence, and I see it as shocking pink, nothing delicate about it.

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Scent Diary : Softness

Happy New Year! I am in the mood for softness, so I dipped into my bottles of vanilla, violet, mimosa and musk perfumes, trying to find ones with the most velvety and comforting finishes. Cacharel Noa stood out instantly for its enveloping trail of powdery flowers and vanilla, but my other discovery took me by surprise. It happens to be Miller Harris L’Air de Rien, a dirty orange blossom. Yet for all of its salacious air, it feels as soft as a cashmere wrap or a kitten’s belly.

red cat

New year means a new start to our Scent Diary. As I wrote in How to Improve Your Sense of Smell, the best way to sharpen your nose is to smell and to pay attention to what you’re smelling. It doesn’t matter what you smell, good or bad scent. The most important part is to notice whatever you smell around you. It’s even better if you write it down. You can use the space here for just that–sharing what perfumes you’re wearing and what scents you notice around you.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin

Best of 2015 in Scents

Here is our eclectic selection of favorite fragrances, including older perfumes we most enjoyed wearing this year. We also would love to read your lists of 2015 highlights–perfumes, books or anything else that stood out. Bois de Jasmin will return on Monday, January 4th, and in the meantime we wish you a happy and fragrant new year! We look forward to another year together with all of you.

persepolisperfume-drawer1v

The “Best of” in the title of this article should be taken with a grain of salt. I spend enough time testing fragrances and thinking about them, but even so, I’m hard pressed to remember everything I tried this year, much less to rank my preferences in a logical manner. But would such a list even be interesting? When Elisa, Andy, Patricia and I exchanged thoughts about our discoveries in 2015, we quickly realized that our lists fascinated us for their idiosyncrasies.

Victoria’s 2015 Favorites

Alaïa Paris by Azzedine Alaïa

Alaïa is doubtless my favorite launch of 2015. Describing it as floral leather doesn’t convey all of its nuances and its thoroughly modern way of reinterpreting this classical idea. It feels impeccably elegant and yet without anything fussy or too high-maintenance.

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From the Archives

Latest Comments

  • carole in Lapsang Souchong Tea : Smoky Harmony: I went to a lot of trouble to get some LS from the Kusmi line. I had a whole tin of it. I brought it to work, and brewed some.… February 7, 2016 at 7:17pm

  • Jenny Katz in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2016: Yum! I have smelled Fleurs d’Oranger, Bulgari Black, and Un Jardin Sur Le Nil (liked all three), and just ordered a sample of Dune. I’ve been wanting to smell Chanel… February 7, 2016 at 6:22pm

  • Morelle in Recommend Me a Perfume : January 2016: Hi Jenny, you should also try Ambre Nue, it falls somewhere between Timbuktu and LDDM. Not sure whether these favourites of mine are something everyone ought to sniff, but anyway… February 7, 2016 at 4:59pm

  • Andy in Lapsang Souchong Tea : Smoky Harmony: The Smokey Earl Grey is such a very original take on the concept of smokey tea. Also, I don’t blame you for sneaking some of your husband’s Spicebomb now and… February 7, 2016 at 2:09pm

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