Best of 2006 : Reflecting on This Year’s Discoveries


2006 has been an exciting year for me, even though it was not all smooth sailing. There were weeks when I would hardly get any sleep, when things seemed to have conspired to work against me, yet there were also times filled with many fascinating discoveries. Above all, I am thankful for the excitement, support and passion for fragrance that you, my readers, have shared with me. This is truly the most special aspect of 2006 for me, and as I drink my glass of champagne on December 31st, I will toast to all of you.

In order to recap 2006, I have decided to offer a list of my most interesting discoveries. Most of the fragrances mentioned were released in 2006, but I also included a few older perfumes that I grew to admire even more this year.

Best Niche Launch
Among the numerous niche/artisanal launches this year, Annick Goutal Songes stands out for its classic-in-the-making quality—luxurious materials, perfect orchestration and beautiful character. It was love at first whiff, and my affection for it only seems to grow stronger.

Best Prestige Launch
Donna Karan Gold in the Eau de Parfum concentration is my pick. It combines the chilly effect of white lily with a seductive amber-leather accord resulting in a striking result. By contrast, the floral heavy Eau de Toilette is less interesting.

Best Vintage Reissue
2006 has been a great year for the lovers of vintage fragrances. Several companies have delved into their archives to reintroduce forgotten fragrances to a new generation of perfume fans. Robert Piguet’s reissue of Baghari is one of my favorites. It respects the lady-like character of its original predecessor while adding a few subtle touches (such as iris and amber) that lend it a decidedly modern spirit.

Best Masculine Release
The vetiver in Lalique Encre Noire has such a magnificent darkness that it reminds me of chocolate. This classical composition is embellished with a touch of inky blackberry, which weaves a pleasing sweetness into the darkness of rich vetiver and woods. Moreover it wins a few additional points for a striking black flacon.

Best Masculine to be Worn by Women
I find the winey-leathery warmth of Burberry London for Men to be reminiscent of the richer version of L’Artisan’s Tea for Two. It is very alluring on men, but I found it to be sexy on women as well. Burberry rarely disappoints with its fragrances, and it is another fine release.

Best Feminine to be Worn by Men
The austere elegance of Guerlain Sous Le Vent is a great choice for a man who loves the classical chypre. Originally created by Jacques Guerlain in 1934, it was reissued by Guerlain as a part of its vintage collection.

Most Surprising Discovery
It is easy to criticize celebrity fragrance offerings, yet Hilary Duff With Love… almost shocked me with its elegant and nuanced composition. It fuses the ambery-woody base most commonly found in the masculine domain with the brilliant fizz of pineapple. The result is worth exploring.

Best Vintage Discovery
I have tried Caron Farnesiana a number of times, and frankly, I always found it to be the blandest of Caron fragrances. The only thing I could think of was plastic violets and vanilla. Imagine my surprise when a good friend shared a sample from his vintage bottle. The vintage Farnesiana is a striking gourmand based on almond tinged mimosa. It combines the restrained elegance of Caron with its typical somber undercurrent of woods.

Most Cutting Edge Launch
There are a few reasons why Thierry Le Parfum is the most cutting edge launch of the year, not least of which is that the idea was generated by the perfumers themselves, Christophe Laudamiel and his partner Christoph Hornetz. The fragrances range from abstract and grotesque to amazingly evocative. A fascinating discovery!

Tongue-in-Cheek Nomination
L’Air de Rien created by Miller Harris for the French actress and singer Jane Birkin should receive a nomination for being daring. Why? Because it smells disconcertingly like an outhouse near an incense shop. It takes guts to put out something like this, and for this reason alone, I would like to applaud Lyn Harris.

Best Gourmand Fragrance
Ever since the debut of Thierry Mugler’s Angel in 1993, the gourmand category has been growing. In contrast to the tired sugared fruit offerings, the tropical fruit and cardamom cocktail of Sira des Indes is quite special. While it may not be through and through Jean Patou, it is a beautiful, well-composed fragrance. Serge Lutens Mandarine-Mandarin is my other gourmand of choice. Its combination of sweet, jammy orange with savory spices and herbs is not just unusual, but also mouthwatering.

Best Fragrance to Wear With a Little Black Dress
I enjoy contrasting effects, whether in fashion or in perfume. The best way to offset the overt femininity of the little black dress is to don something masculine and dark. Chanel Cuir de Russie is a perfect choice for this sartorial-olfactory combination. Add a long string of pearls, which you can twirl in your fingers absentmindedly, and you are guaranteed to stand out anywhere for the elegance which you are sure to radiate. Edit: The seductive smokiness of Bvlgari Black makes it essential for almost anyone who wears little black dresses.

Best Invitation to a Dream   
Guerlain L’Heure Bleue parfum is a marvel. The former director of the Osmothèque, Jean Kerléo, mentions it as a fragrance that every perfumer should study for its unique sillage. Wearing it is pure joy. It clings to the skin like warm cashmere and trails like gossamer ribbons of silk. It is a fragrance with which to seduce oneself, not to mention others!

Classic Hall of Fame
In the illustrious Chanel collection, No 22 might be the least known fragrance, yet it is undoubtedly one of the masterpieces of perfumery. Its aldehydic accord foils the gorgeous floral heart and the delicate woody base. Chanel is well-known to be a fragrance house that can afford not to skimp on the quality of its raw materials. Smell No 22 (and No 5) in the parfum and discover this for yourself.

Modern Classic Hall of Fame
One of the best fragrance compliments I have received came from the in-house perfumer for Jean Patou, Jean-Michel Duriez. He commented on the beautiful sillage of my perfume, leather, warm and elegant. The fragrance in question was Serge Lutens’s Iris Silver Mist. I once described it as iris to the power of 10. Indeed, nothing does justice better to this fascinating note. It has an almost patrician beauty, yet the initial chilly aloofness belies the warm and sensual drydown. It is a fragrance that should in cross-posted in the category “Perfume For Which It Is Worth to Visit Paris.”

Fragrance to Leave Behind in 2007
I would be very glad if I never had to come across another sticky-cloying-pink-fruity-floral composition. F by Salvatore Ferragamo received just that mark from me.

Fragrance(s) to Anticipate in 2007
Jacques Polge was quoted in Women’s Wear Daily as saying that “Above all, we tried to do fragrances which are very different from one another and very different from what is currently offered in the market. These are the ingredients [that] we simply wouldn’t have in the quantity to use in a more widely distributed fragrance.” The new Chanel Les Exclusifs collection will include six new fragrances (besides No 22, Gardénia, Cuir de Russie and Bois des Iles.) Coromandel is an ambery oriental. 28 La Pausa is an iris dominated fragrance. Bel Respiro is meant to evoke green leaves and stems. No. 18 is based on the rich ambrette seed and is said to be a fragrance that conjures the scent of diamonds (according to the press release.) 31, rue Cambon is an oakmoss-free chypre. Eau de Cologne is a classical orange blossom cologne. Needless to say, I cannot wait till February when these fragrances are to be launched.



  • Judith: A fascinating list! I am twirling my pearls, wearing my beloved Cuir de Russie, and contemplating trying the Hilary Duff! December 29, 2006 at 7:08am Reply

  • Elle: What a wonderful list!! I can’t believe I haven’t tried Encre Noir yet. Will be rectifying that immediately. And am also going to try Hillary Duff’s scent. I can’t wait for those Chanels! Am considering skipping Jan. on my calendar and going straight to Feb. in hopes that somehow the universe will see the urgency and comply in speeding through Jan. so we can get to their release date more quickly. Yes, nothing like starting the year w/ a bit of magical thinking. 🙂 And I’d like to join you in applause for Lyn Harris. I actually like it and that sort of daring in an often all too cautious marketplace deserves a standing ovation. December 29, 2006 at 7:46am Reply

  • Robin: Standing in line with Marina for the Encre Noir, that sounds heavenly! And need to try the MH Rien, have a sample, don’t know why I haven’t already. December 29, 2006 at 8:49am Reply

  • Gigi: If anyone else had told me to check out Hilary Duff’s fragrance I would have laughed, scoffed, snickered, even cringed. But because you said so, I’m obediently going to take a whiff of it the next time I’m at a store. Great list, as always! December 29, 2006 at 4:06am Reply

  • Marina: My lemming for Encre Noir just grew to gigantic proportions! want! 🙂
    Thank you for the wonderful list and for your amazing blog! December 29, 2006 at 8:01am Reply

  • TS: A lively, varied, warm, witty, and at times acerbic list, my friend! You are the worst lemming-generator — a trip to Bergdorf is certainly called for. December 29, 2006 at 8:25am Reply

  • Patty: A great list. I really need to move a couple onto my “to try” list December 29, 2006 at 8:49am Reply

  • mireille: mmmmmmm, “an outhouse near an incense shop” … that says so much about 2006, doesn’t it? Your reviews have been the prime mover behind my interest in vintage and for that I thank you! Happy New Year, V!! xoxo December 29, 2006 at 9:46am Reply

  • Christina: Oh what a relief that I am not the only one who thought Hilary Duff’s fragrance was actually wearable! I am such a perfume ignoramous! I hope you have a wonderful New Year! December 29, 2006 at 10:06am Reply

  • Toya: Hi!

    Could you please correct my blog address? The Life of a Ladybug can be found at

    Thank you! December 29, 2006 at 10:14am Reply

  • Annieytown: This is a lovely list V.
    I was also surprised by Hilary Duffs fragrance.
    It was well done.
    I am kicking myself that I forgot Songes on my list.

    Have a wonderful New Year V! December 29, 2006 at 10:32am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Gigi, thank you for having faith in me. 🙂 Like Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely, I find With Love to be quite a standout in the overcrowded celebrity fragrance category. At least, it is something different. December 29, 2006 at 10:46am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Judith, Cuir de Russie will always have a special place in my heart. I have to credit you with making me more interested in leather fragrances. I hope that we will have more of them in 2007! December 29, 2006 at 10:47am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Elle, ah, I am all for magic, especially on New Year’s Eve. 🙂 Who knows, maybe the universe will deliver Chanels to the boutiques quicker! December 29, 2006 at 10:48am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Marina, I think that you might really enjoy it. It is quite a striking vetiver. Happy New Year to you! I hope that 2007 will be excellent in all respects for you. December 29, 2006 at 11:22am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: T, thank you! It was fun to compile the list. It prompted me to revisit a few favourites as well. December 29, 2006 at 11:36am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Patty, thank you. You and March always manage to highlight something I have not thought of before. December 29, 2006 at 11:37am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Robin, please do try L’Air de Rien. I am curious how you will like it next to CB Musk. December 29, 2006 at 11:38am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Mireille, thank you very much! I am glad that I could spark an interest in vintage. Happy New Year to you too. May it be all you want it to be! xoxo December 29, 2006 at 11:39am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Christina, it is very well-done, and it is not the typical cliche pink fruity-floral. For that alone, it gets high marks. Happy New Year to you too! I hope that it will be wonderful. December 29, 2006 at 11:40am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Toya, done! December 29, 2006 at 11:41am Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Annie, Happy New Year to you too! Thank you for organizing this. I am enjoying reading everyone’s lists very much. December 29, 2006 at 11:41am Reply

  • Gaia, the non-blonde: I’m happily taking notes here. Chanel’s CdR has been forever on my list of “must add to my collection”. I’ll have to do it soon. Also, I’m very into masculine scents lately, so here’s another one I’ll have to try. And I agree with you on Hilary Duff. I was reluctant even to look at it, but found myself becoming very fond of it.
    Happy New Year! December 29, 2006 at 12:14pm Reply

  • Victoria’s Own: Hi V, Sous Le Vent!!! Oh, I fell hard for this one this year, the first lavender to capture my heart. I thought I couldn’t wear lavender scents! I also loved Baghari and the DK Gold. The latter of which got quite a lot of bad press. I thought it was quite lovely, I’m glad you agree. Great List, Happy New Year! – Victoria O. December 29, 2006 at 12:23pm Reply

  • Ina: Love your list! I completely agree on Songes and Le Parfum.
    S Nastupayushim! 🙂 December 29, 2006 at 1:37pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Gaia, I love the subtle masculine accent in a feminine composition. It lends it a very unexpected twist. This is the case with With Love. I did not expect to like it, but it turned out to be quite pleasant. December 29, 2006 at 1:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: V, I think that it might be because most people have tried the EDT in Gold, which is inferior. I find that the EDP showcases its beauty best.

    Happy New Year to you too! December 29, 2006 at 1:57pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Ina, they are both amazing releases, different but equally special. Happy New Year! December 29, 2006 at 1:59pm Reply

  • Cait: I think this is your year! I share many of your favorites. Thanks for your recent review of Black. I don’t know how I did without it. Happy New Year! December 29, 2006 at 4:15pm Reply

  • afrobella: I’m not at all a fan of Hillary Duff, but I might have to give her perfume a try! I’m seeking a new signature scent and sometimes guilty pleasures turn out to be the best. (case in point, JLo Live, which smells divine on me). Great list, and wonderful to make your acquaintance! Happy new year! December 29, 2006 at 6:37pm Reply

  • Katie: Oh man, I so forgot about that one! I can’t for the life of me decide if I love it or hate it, though… But it keeps me sniffing at it while I’m trying to make up my mind already 🙂

    Sadly, with the obscene number of new releases this year, there are oh-so-many that should be left behind this year. Ferragamo’s Incanto Charms also comes to mind… (adorable flacon, though.)

    I look forward to Polge’s Chanels, too – it sounds like it should be great fun to sniff and explore those. December 29, 2006 at 7:09pm Reply

  • Katie: Ooops, “that one” being Sous Le Vent… Drat my crippling illiteracy and apparent inability to type! December 29, 2006 at 7:11pm Reply

  • Maria B.: I am so glad to see L’Heure Bleue being given the love it deserves. It’s poetry in motion. Let’s spread the word! December 30, 2006 at 2:41am Reply

  • Bela: I haven’t tried a lot of the fragrances you mention, V, and now I really want to.

    Happy New Year! December 29, 2006 at 9:43pm Reply

  • k-amber: Excellent list! I will try Sira des Indes next time. Unlike the States, Gourmand or vanilla based fragrances are so not popular here. I can’t wait for new Chanel.
    Happy New Year!

    Kaori December 29, 2006 at 11:23pm Reply

  • March: Your comments about Rien made me smile — I get mostly outhouse, perhaps only a whiff of incense…

    I am very excited about Les Exclusifs. And I keep putting L’Heure Bleue on my list to blog about, it somehow gets lost in the buzz. Anyway, thanks for all your interesting and evocative posts. December 30, 2006 at 8:42am Reply

  • koneko: Happy New year, dear V!!
    As usual, your list is a beautiful, informative read. I have not been trying as many fragrances as late, but now I am inspired! I am excited about the Chanel Les Exclusives collection! I saw it in one of my Japanese beauty magazines and thought, I HOPE this is internationally released! I am glad for your confirmation.

    I keep meaning to test Songes, and now I have put that high on my list!

    I am hoping I will be able to snag a sample of the Mandarine-Mandarin sometime soon. It sounds beyond wonderful and exactly what I am looking for in a fragrance these days! =)

    Huge hug to you, V! December 30, 2006 at 5:31am Reply

  • carmencanada: This was the year when I discovered, thanks to you, some of my favourite scents: My Sin, Jolie Madame and Derby. And Bulgari Black: you were right, it was bound to be love. It’s all I can do not to wear it every day right now. Pairing it off with Cuir de Russie as the “little black dresses” of scent is a brilliant idea: CdR is also quickly moving into my essentials (I’m a woman in black through and through) and a bottle of pure parfum tops my list of acquisitions for next year. I also wanted to tell you that I often look back into your archives as I discover-rediscover fragrance and ponder sniffing expeditions. Thank you for a wonderful year in writing! December 30, 2006 at 12:10pm Reply

  • risa: ah, V, i love your list! i had a bunch of dittos (Iris Silver Mist, L’Heure Bleue parfum, Thierry Le Parfum) and am now very curious about Mandarine-Mandarin, which didn’t sound appealing at first! also, i love your graphic quite a lot 😉

    happy new year! December 30, 2006 at 10:55am Reply

  • Hautemommastuff: Lovely, eloquently written list. I adore your blog and am looking forward to your reviews of the new Chanels. Must revisit the L’Heure Bleue. December 30, 2006 at 12:22pm Reply

  • beautychick: You only had to say “tropical fruit and cardamom cocktail” and now I’m running out to try Sira des Indes! I am addicted to cardamom. Thank you for a great list! December 30, 2006 at 1:24pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Cait, I am so happy to hear that Black is among your favourites now as well. It is such an incredible fragrance, and I only hope that they never discontinue it. December 30, 2006 at 3:54pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Afrobella, thank you. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance as well. I have a friend who wears Live, and on her, it is gorgeous–lychee rose and warm woods. Sometimes one never knows where one might find something interesting. December 30, 2006 at 3:56pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, I know! I have a long list of what I would love to leave behind. I decided not to write it all out, since then it would make me depressed. Well, here is to hoping that 2007 will be more fruitful in terms of exciting and interesting fragrances.

    Happy New Year to you and your family! I hope that you are planning a fun celebration. December 30, 2006 at 3:58pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Katie, no worries! It happens to me often enough. 🙂 As for Sous Le Vent, it is a gorgeous fragrance, an embodiment of Guerlain’s elegance. December 30, 2006 at 3:59pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: J, thank you! Happy New Year to you too.

    There are so many releases that I have long given up on trying them all. Well, many are not worth seeking out, needless to say. December 30, 2006 at 4:00pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Kaori, lucky you! 🙂 I am teasing, but really, NYC subways can turn into torture chambers for me where a sugary vanilla scented woman gets on the train.

    The new Chanel fragrances are definitely on a must-have list for me. December 30, 2006 at 4:01pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Maria, “poetry in motion” is a great way to describe this fragrance. It is one of Guerlain’s best creations. December 30, 2006 at 4:02pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: M, Happy New Year to you! May it bring lots of joy to you. As far as perfume releases are concerned, I am exciting about the new Armani Eclat de Jasmin and the new Chanel fragrances. I hope that we will have more interesting releases to anticipate.

    I think that Mandarine-Mandarin will not quite please you. Among Lutens, I do not see it as a fragrance you would wear, but I might be wrong. It is much spicier than most of your favourites, but needless to say, you should seek out a sample. December 30, 2006 at 4:05pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: March, L’Air de Rien is something! I cannot imagine wearing it, but what a feat! I am applauding that effort.

    I cannot wait to read about L’Heure Bleue. Please write about it. December 30, 2006 at 4:07pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Risa, thank you! I knew that we might share a few favourites. I am wearing Mandarine-Mandarin right now, and it is quite a beautiful, unusual fragrance. It makes me think of Persian spice mixtures. December 30, 2006 at 4:08pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: D, thank you very much for your kind words and your lovely compliment. Knowing this makes my day. I am glad that I helped you discover a few favourites, and I am thrilled about Black as well. Happy New Year to you! Hope that it will be wonderful in all respects. December 30, 2006 at 4:10pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Hautemommastuff, thank you! I cannot wait till February, but meanwhile I can enjoy my Cuir de Russie, Bois des Iles, No 19, No 5 and No 22. They are genius compositions. December 30, 2006 at 4:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Beautychick, if you like cardamom, I think that you will enjoy Comme des Garcons Jalsaimer, from Incense series. It is a beautiful incense + cardamom composition. I am glad that you liked my list. Happy New Year! December 30, 2006 at 4:13pm Reply

  • Erika: Thank you so much for your wonderful blogging in 2006 – I can’t believe that it took me so long to find you! Sadly, I have missed so many fragrances that are on your list, but that only makes me more determined to explore them in 2007.

    You might also be interested to know that my daughter, at the ripe old age of 2 1/2 is already an avid sniffer: upon meeting someone new she always asks ‘what’s that smell?’ – and doesn’t hesitate to tell them if she likes what they are wearing or not…at the moment she likes to choose for me, so I’m wearing a lot of Coco!

    So,in the year to come may you have joy and peace – and may all your wine be Champagne! December 31, 2006 at 9:48am Reply

  • Catherine: I love your blog and appreciate all the time and work that must go into it. Just to introduce myself, I’m an investment advisor by profession, but am spending more time on avocations lately, including sailing on historic tall ships, studying celestial navigation and other maritime stuff, knitting, spinning and, in the past few years, designing knitting patterns.

    I think in another lifetime, or perhaps in the next one, I wanted to be a “nose” as the mystery and science of scent has probably always interested me and has become a fascination.

    The fascination was further tweaked by a long article in the New Yorker magazine, sometime in 2006, about perfume-making and the new (in my humble opinion, lackluster) line Hermes is bringing out.

    That article led me to much shopping around here in south Florida for a new scent to fall in love with. I haven’t found one but do like Creed’s Santal Originale, of which I bought a bottle to share with live-in boyfriend as he’s a long-time fan of Creed’s original Tabarone.

    Is there anyone who has ANY idea of where one might find out more about the base notes and such in Celui by Jean Desses? My mother used to buy it at Bonwit Teller in New York city in the 60s and early 70s. I’ve not been able to find anyone familiar with it except for the owner of a tiny perfume store in Paris who had an empty bottle that still retained the, to me, haunting scent of Celui.

    I’d appreciate any info on Celui as it still intrigues me.

    Also, I’m delighted to find so many of us on the internet who are familiar with, and like, Chanel’s Cuir de Russe (sp?) as I used to borrow my brother’s bottle in high school but haven’t seen it available here in years. Who sells it?

    Sorry for a long-winded post!

    Oh, I’ll be in New York city in January and able to visit Aedes De Venustas. I’d appreciate recommendations for any other must-visit shops or ateliers.

    Catherine December 31, 2006 at 12:05pm Reply

  • You have created wonderful categories, like, “cutting edge,” “tongue in cheek” and “fragrances to leave behind,” and “fragrances to anticipate.” These categories reflect true passion and do so with wit and aplomb. Keep exceeding our expectations, Victoria, the world needs this kind of objectivity and intelligence when it comes to fragrance. December 31, 2006 at 5:11pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Erika, thank you very much. I love the story of your daughter sniffing the people she meets. It seems that you have your own young perfume expert. And Coco–she is a natural, it seems. I adore this fragrance, and you have inspired me to wear it tonight.

    Happy 2007! I look forward to sharing more perfume discoveries with you. January 1, 2007 at 4:09pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Catherine, I am very delighted to read your comment. Thank you for your kind words.

    Celui by Jean Desses–I still see it on sale at some vintage perfume websites (just google it to find some sources). I will check my guides to see if there is any information on it. Perhaps, I might shed some light on it for you.

    As for the places to shop for perfume in NYC, I would mention Takashimaya on 5th Avenue, Barneys and Bergdorf. Caron boutique used to be on Madison, not far from Barneys, but it has been partially converted to a hair product shop, so it is a sad sight. I would also recommend visiting the New London Pharmacy for a great selection of small European perfume and skincare lines. January 1, 2007 at 4:13pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Fleur de Lys, thank you! It is a pleasure to share one’s passion with others who are equally in love with the subjectmatter. I feel fortunate to have this opportunity. January 1, 2007 at 4:14pm Reply

  • melanie: Yet another list with Hilary Duff with Love!!! I was blown away surprised with how great smelling this is. I received the candle in a swag bag in November and haven’t looked back (my boyfriend even likes it)…I debated about putting it on my own list, but decided I best stay in the closet with it! haha 🙂 great list, there are several more things I should try out!!! cheers to 2007! January 4, 2007 at 7:47pm Reply

  • BoisdeJasmin: Melanie, thank you! Happy 2007 to you too! With Love is worth trying, because it is just so unexpectedly good for a celebrity fragrance. January 8, 2007 at 12:37pm Reply

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