Scent Diary : Strange Smells

When people smell civet, natural or synthetic, for the first time, the natural response is to cringe, because this animalic material smells raunchy, dirty and sweet. My husband recoiled from me in horror when I once returned from the lab having spent the day working mostly with animalic notes. These days, on the other hand, nothing fazes me now (except, perhaps, for the material called Pineapple Compound that turns air entering my lungs into fruity, sticky cotton candy.) Scents, like tastes, can be acquired.
varenyky-liv

These days I even like some odd scents that ordinarily wouldn’t be considered pleasant, like mildew, mild skunk odor, hot metal, musty basements or wet paper. And I love civet in all forms.

Scent Diary is a place where we can share fragrances we encounter, good and bad, perfumes we wear and the scents around us. It’s a way to sharpen our sense of smell, but also just to enjoy the fragrance hobby in a different way. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin; my grandmother is getting ready to prepare varenyky, dumplings stuffed with a variety of offal. It’s an acquired taste, but I absolutely adore this dish and its gamey, musky flavor, and I request it every time I visit.

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120 Comments

  • Michaela: That’s very funny, it seems your husband is not always lucky, as I would have thought 🙂
    I like to smell hot metal sometimes.
    Varenyky sound very interesting!

    Odd scents I encountered today:
    – everlasting dried flowers smell earthy, not unpleasant at all. I have a bouquet mixed with lavender, the scent is odd but I like it, I smell it every morning;
    – dried algae smell salty;
    – as my Dior Pure Poison decant broke it went to the garbage bag. The odor is hard to forget, mixed as it was with onion peels.

    I tried Lagerfeld Sun, Moon, Stars last night and I compared it to a nicotiana white flower I found in a small garden by the street. I don’t want to smell like nicotiana, but I was so happy to discover their scents are very similar.
    Every time I promise to myself I won’t buy tuberoses again. I love them but I can’t bear them in closed spaces. Of course I buy some again and again, from time to time. Charming, intoxicating, beautiful scent! At nights I hide them as far away from me as possible.
    Plums, watermelon, fresh cucumbers, dill, thyme, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, cooked eggplants, ground coffee, kefir, all made my day nicely scented. August 1, 2014 at 8:50am Reply

    • Sandra: Sorry about your broken bottle of Poison- hope that it wasn’t full
      I broke a bottle of Shalimar Initial in my closet once- disaster.. August 1, 2014 at 8:57am Reply

      • Michaela: It was only a full 1 ml decant, not a loss at all. The problem is I do not want to hear about Pure Poison several years from now on!
        I can imagine Shalimar Initial all over your closet… oh, no… August 1, 2014 at 9:18am Reply

    • Michaela: Market scents in summer are fascinating, I enjoyed a mix of fresh carrots, tomatoes, plums, peaches, melons, roses, chrysanthemum, dill, basil, parsley, thyme, occasional waves of perfumes as people went by.
      My young jasmin sambac tries all its best, now it’s crowded with scented flowers.
      Wet, and later, dry clean sheets smell very good.
      I get garbage, dust smell in the street, not nice at all. Luckily, the rain removed bad scents.
      Bulgari’s The Vert stays with me these days, and I’m happy with it. August 4, 2014 at 4:07am Reply

    • Victoria: One time I broke a bottle of vintage Guerlain (I don’t remember which one was it, either Rue de la Paix or Sous Le Vent). Either way, it was very sad, but having the whole house reek of vintage perfume was not so good either. I understand why you’re over Pure Poison for a while. August 4, 2014 at 7:40am Reply

  • Katy McReynolds: Removed the seed heads from my Vitex tree, or Chaste Berry tree, theses smell wonderful. They have a lightly mentholated aspect that reminds me of the eucalyptus pods I would greedily horde as a child. A peppery aspect that reminds me of olive oil becomes apparent as these little green pods warm in my hand…. August 1, 2014 at 8:54am Reply

    • Liz K: Ooh, the only good aspect of my mowing chore as a kid was going under the Vitex and getting to smell the foliage as it whacked me (I had to dodge the bees though so it was the last thing I did every time and I usually did it in quick swoops). Wonderful scent. I still volunteer to help trim them up when I visit my mom. August 2, 2014 at 11:13am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t think I know what they smell like. Trying to see if I can find this tree around here. August 4, 2014 at 7:41am Reply

  • Sandra: I love scent diary- it’s still a bit early here in NYC.
    The bad fragrance I encounter every morning is cat poo! Our two rescue kitties: Marcel Le Chat and our kitten Princess Jasmine, have the timing down- Mom is up- time to poop!
    I was thinking of a smell that was unfamiliar to me happen after my wedding. I had to make sheera, which is an Indian sweet dish- and at the same time as part of the blessing incense were lit all in our small NYC kitchen – even some in the spoons had a little fire in them from small burning incense. The combination of the sweet smell and incense (which were much stronger then say Nag Champa) was very intoxicating!
    This morning, the first thing I did was check on our bonsai tree- and next to the little tree I have a candle by Nicolai called Crépuscule Vanille -one of my favs and I am sad I can’t find it anymore. I can smell the candle before I even get close to the tree! Lucky our little tree is looking good today!
    I usually do some sort of black tea in the morning- this morning it’s a white tea. The aroma has a smell of lemon-vanilla and rose petals. de-lish! My mother in law brought me a huge tub of Liberté yogourt from Canada – straight from the factory- smells like the tart smell of yogourt and fresh strawberries.
    Having a quiet morning before heading to the DMV- ugh!
    No perfume yet- but I can still smell yesterday’s fragrance- Dune by Dior. August 1, 2014 at 8:55am Reply

    • Michaela: You are lucky with the cats and they are lucky you rescued them! Life near animals is not always nicely scented 🙂 but they offer so many many things to compensate 🙂 Hope they ignore your small dear tree.
      Very interesting scents in your life! I remembered I liked so much reading your wedding scents comments, and now you come with more surprises.
      Dune is such a beautiful perfume! August 1, 2014 at 10:02am Reply

      • Sandra: Thank you!
        Lots of wedding scents <3 glad you enjoy reading them!

        The kitten has been in the pots taking out dirt! Every pot except the little tree. So far!

        Dune is great- also I feel it's not that common August 1, 2014 at 10:36am Reply

    • Victoria: I also love reading about your wedding and your perfumes. It’s like following a very interesting romantic story. 🙂

      Lucky kittens to have found you. August 4, 2014 at 7:43am Reply

  • Victor: I completely lost my sense of smell once after a sinus infection, what a strange and lifeless world that was. Then when it started to return it did so in a fragmented and fractured way. Many smells were unrecognizable some were exaggerated, some absent, some entirely distorted. After a year or longer I was back to normal. Fascinating but a little frightening experience. August 1, 2014 at 9:50am Reply

    • Michaela: Thanks God you got back to normal! I believe it’s frightening. I only partially lost the sense of smell for a day or two during a common cold and I felt so weird and irritated. I imagine it was not easy for you the whole year. Did you feel tour taste distorted, too? August 1, 2014 at 9:56am Reply

      • Judy: The same thing happened to me, Victor. Almost exactly like you described it. For a while, all “bad” scents smelled alike. Everything from spilled gas at the station to roadkill in 101 degrees to burnt toast had the same weird smell. It’s been almost two years for me, and I still have some issues, but they’re getting better. August 1, 2014 at 10:33am Reply

    • Victoria: What a frightening story. Thank heavens you’ve regained your sense of smell, Victor! August 4, 2014 at 7:44am Reply

  • Danaki: The passages under the arcs on Manchester canal (that’s the UK) smell of a musty mixture of rotting vegetation, urine, turbid air, and muddy waters.

    In the last two weeks a case of flu prevented me from enjoying the more subtle urban odours, and instead I noticed perfumes and aftershaves on passersby.

    I got Narciso Rodrigeuz for Her on a women with a pixie but and a billowing maxi skirt striding past me, vanilla ice cream on a young women holding hands with her boyfriend, and Armani code on a young chap.

    Sweet caramelized cherry from the sheesha cafe, I can smell that even with my nose clipped.

    Today I’m wearing SL ‘A la nuit’, I’ve been avoiding it in warm weather but it is mild today and raining. The perfect pick-me-up. August 1, 2014 at 10:03am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh yes, I know those passage and their smell so well…. 🙂 August 4, 2014 at 7:45am Reply

  • Judy: My husband is a cheese connoisseur. I love good cheese also, but sometimes his favorites have very overwhelming scents. VERY! Got to love it though. Speaking of the husband, he has been quite willing lately to try men’s perfume samples I get for him; doesn’t comment on a favorite yet. I’m enjoying wearing Bottega Veneta Eau Legere today. Perfect for the rainy day we’re having down here in the south. August 1, 2014 at 10:24am Reply

    • Victoria: That one is so good. I have been enjoying it too. It’s easy to wear but still very interesting. August 4, 2014 at 8:17am Reply

  • jillie: It’s funny how the scent diaries usually include comments on cat poo! People think I am strange because I find fox poo quite pleasant ,….. I swear it smells of roasting coffee beans. And I wish some of my perfumes lasted as long as this does!

    No perfume for me today – I have been suffering from a tummy bug and find that everything is making me feel a bit sick, although I must be feeling better as I am wondering what I should wear tomorrow. Probably something centred around ginger. August 1, 2014 at 10:38am Reply

    • Elisa: Am I the only one who thinks kalamata olives smell a little like baby poo? (I like them anyway) August 1, 2014 at 10:53am Reply

      • jillie: Well I love Epoisses cheese and it smells like sweaty feet! August 1, 2014 at 10:57am Reply

    • Victoria: Aha, lots of cat lovers here! 🙂

      Where did you come across fox poo? August 4, 2014 at 8:18am Reply

      • noele l.: I too, am curious about fox poo. Ha! This website writes about such elegant things, and yet the word ‘poo’ in such steady succession. August 7, 2014 at 8:47pm Reply

  • Adriana Galani: That is why I failed having a dog I so wished. Because of smell. And was fighting with hubby on the smell matter because my stomach turned rounds and he says he doesn’t feel anything! And o those canns of doggy’s food, with me the poor vegetarian trying to feed the little fellow without getting too close to the smelling source. My God that was a patience exercise.
    O I know that sheera insents combo too well and I have the same reaction to it. And the spice which drives me mad is nutmeg, can’t smell it!
    Strange smells? Hmmm yes, I love the smell of new shoes, of undergrounds early morning and I adore having to go to farmacies because it always smells so clean inn there!
    J’Adore Voile de Parfume today here. August 1, 2014 at 10:39am Reply

    • Poodle: Lol doggy odor. I agree some dogs do smell. I am a huge dog lover but I only have breeds that don’t smell like dog. Sighthounds like greyhounds and whippets don’t smell like that and thank heaven my poodles don’t either. Actually the poodles sometimes smell of popcorn or maple syrup. I’m not vegetarian and that canned food smells nasty to me too. I feed mine dry kibble instead. August 3, 2014 at 8:10am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes! The smell of dog and cat food turns my stomach, including the smell of dry food. I’m ok with the smell of animals themselves. August 4, 2014 at 8:19am Reply

  • theinquisitivenose: So far today…

    The creamy green and fruity scent of fresh figs as I prepared my lunchtime salad, along with sweet and mellow blueberries and green, peppery rocket

    The rich, earthy aroma of freshly ground coffee from India

    Vintage no.19 parfum, Annick Goutal’s La Violette and En Passant currently on rotation

    A number of scented blotters on my desk that I’m evaluating for work

    The creamy, rosy scent of Nuxe Reve de Miel hand cream

    Soft powdery violet from my guerlain face powder

    The intoxicating lilies in my living room, which permeate the air of my entire home

    The milky sweet smell of fresh coconut I prepared for my afternoon snack and the fresh, sweet (and slightly salty?) coconut water I had at breakfast

    The pungent, slightly fruity smell of my dustbin upon changing the bag and the fairy liquid I used to clean it!

    The starchy sweet smell of my banana this morning

    The delicate floral scent of my Fortnum & Mason tea which contains a subtle orange blossom nuance (the Fortmason blend) August 1, 2014 at 10:59am Reply

    • Gían: Both AG Un Violette & FM En Passant are both wonderful! Ahhhh… August 1, 2014 at 4:32pm Reply

    • Victoria: This is such a fantastic list of scents, and you inspired me to wear Guerlain face powder today. 🙂 August 4, 2014 at 8:20am Reply

  • Willow: It is the smell of warm, moist clay pots that currently holds my attention. If there is moist soil inside, all the better.

    We have had a lot of rain In S. Fl. This season, so I get to experience this scent often. That being the case, all the hear and rain, I too have been enjoying wearing my Annick Goutal, Heure Exquiaite edp, and chanel 19 of course! August 1, 2014 at 11:03am Reply

    • Victoria: These green mossy perfumes fit so well with such weather. But of course, I love them anytime. August 4, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

  • key change: Oooh, great thread and comments! today I have smelled what I think seems to be the smell of the inside of hybrid cars–many of the cabs in this city are hybrids now, and the insides of them (barring any of the dangling scent leaf things) seems to be identical. And not even in the “new car” sort of way. Interesting. August 1, 2014 at 12:39pm Reply

    • Victoria: Curious! I need to investigate that too. August 4, 2014 at 8:21am Reply

  • Mj: On the same note of the first comment by Michaela, I Hate the smell of Lilly plants at Easter in the house. Love, love the smell of Baisse Vole Essence! August 1, 2014 at 12:50pm Reply

    • Victoria: Essence lasts and lasts! I like it too, but I need to be careful in the amount I wear. Too much and it feels overwhelming. August 4, 2014 at 8:22am Reply

  • Andy: I love getting whiffs of skunk while I’m driving, to me it smells pleasant, somewhat like over-roasted (burnt?) coffee beans. And freshly laid asphalt is another personal favorite.

    Off to run grocery errands, I started my day by sampling some of the original Marc Jacobs Men. Unexpectedly, I think I prefer it to some of the niche figs. Heresy though it may be, I find it far more imaginative than the fragrance it’s clearly inspired by, Philosykos. Anyway, a nice surprise.

    It’s very humid right now, air which doesn’t alone smell so strongly as have that particular smooth, thick texture upon inhale. The other day I was smelling zinnia stems and realized they smell similar to fresh cornhusks. In the way that dipping one’s fingers in cornstarch creates a feeling of dryness, both somehow smell dryly green, as in being absent of a lot of moisture. August 1, 2014 at 12:57pm Reply

    • Gían: Isn’t strange– almost embarrassing– to admit that we love a good whiff of skunk? But, it’s true, I do!!! Kudos to Victoria for being the first to admit that out loud in public– I continually admire her! HOWEVER– as always there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. My little dog (OMG thank goodness she was so little!) got hit by a skunk’s spray once & Holy Mother of God– it was beyond wilting– it was downright nauseating! Olfactory Hell! I was frantically dumping cans of tomato juice & purée- I even got out the leftover Sunday sauce!- on her as if her life- or mine!- depended on it! It was just horrendous! I cannot overstate that enough! August 1, 2014 at 4:43pm Reply

      • Andy: As much as I enjoy an occasional whiff of skunk, I can only imagine how unbearable the spray would be up close and in person. I don’t like to get fragrance in my hair because it lasts almost too long, so I can only imagine how tragically long skunk must have lasted in your dog’s fur! August 1, 2014 at 7:01pm Reply

      • Amy: Yes, a LIGHT whiff of skunk from a distance can be kind of pleasantly nose-tickling, in a gasoline way (another one I like). But ooooooh, up close? No kidding, about 6 hours after my father passed away in his home, my parents’ big dumb dog got herself skunked right smack in the kisser. Unbelievably bad timing for an unbelievably bad smell. Ten years on, sniffing skunk is still a bit of a loaded experience for me. August 2, 2014 at 11:24am Reply

        • Gían: Oh yes- a bit like olfactory PSTD. For a long time afterward I simply could not tolerate eating or smelling tomato sauce or tomato juice & the slightest whiff of skunk would get me calling out & searching for the dog in a panic. Thankfully, I’ve recovered & now the gentle whiff of skunk again puts a smile on my face & the memory of that episode is like recalling a humorous anecdote… August 2, 2014 at 2:49pm Reply

      • Poodle: My dogs got sprayed once too but I found that after the initial horrifying whiffs my nose became numb to it. After a while of being engulfed in it I couldn’t really smell it thankfully. I had to step away for a bit and then go back and try smelling it. It was like when I worked in a hair salon and couldn’t notice the smell of the acrylic nails and perms after a while. August 3, 2014 at 8:14am Reply

    • Victoria: My dad’s dog was sprayed by skunk once, and I agree with you and others, that level of skunk is beyond bearable. It actually makes your nose burn! August 4, 2014 at 8:23am Reply

  • Mel: My friend just returned from Turkey and brought me the most beautifully scented teas – rose, summer flowers, apple, and my favorite – winter fruits. I have a patchouli plant in my garden and everyday I rub the leaves so I can smell my fingers all day. yesterday a neighbor was burning Egyptian Musk incense which smelled great and also triggered a flashback to my college days in New Orleans. Pruning my tomato plants which grew into beasts this summer is also a great smell. And the tomatoes themselves? I wish I could grow them all year! But nothing smells as wonderful as my cat Moondoggie’s hot fur when he comes in from sunning. August 1, 2014 at 1:22pm Reply

    • Andy: You are so lucky to have a patchouli plant! I’ve encountered them at botanical gardens but have never found one to buy. And the teas sound sublime. August 1, 2014 at 2:29pm Reply

    • key change: Oh yes! the smell of sun-warmed fur! incredible! August 1, 2014 at 6:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love your cat’s name. 🙂 August 4, 2014 at 8:24am Reply

  • Kat: Today I’m enjoying Rochas Femme…a fragrance that took some getting used to. Now, I love it!…earthy, woody and that hint of peach. Not sure I’ll ever get used to the civet in the samples I’ve tried, such as Knowing and Paloma Picasso. August 1, 2014 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Victoria: I love the golden peaches of Femme and the way they are set against the woods and moss. Such an unexpected and elegant contrast. August 4, 2014 at 8:25am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Wow! I wrote this phrase in my Black-and-golden Perfume Notebook. August 6, 2014 at 5:29am Reply

  • Gían: I love civet! I love love love raunchy, sweaty smells– just not by themselves. I’m a man who also loves loves loves florals- especially solifleurs. But they can seem so feminine sometimes. So- here’s what I do– my secret, if you will- I have a bottle of UNTITLED #8 by Bruno Leonesio that smells like a dirty men’s locker room on its own- just awful. I put a dab on my wrists & neck then I layer an intensely floral fragrance such as SL Un Lys or SL A La Nuit over it &–voila!– I have myself a dirty, naughty, decidedly more masculine “floral”! U’d be surprised by people’s reactions! Quite effective. August 1, 2014 at 3:21pm Reply

    • allgirlmafia: Another raunch lover weighing in! Florals are lovely. Paris, Love Chloe, Grand Amour…

      But its the dirty/ raunchy that hits the spot. The same way my body calls for chocolate or Indian food from time to time I often seem to crave Aromatics Elixir, Cabochard, Knowing and even Agent Provocateur.

      I also find the smell of gasoline pleasant. Always have. August 1, 2014 at 5:08pm Reply

      • Gían: Me too. It reminds me of being a child & being half asleep in the car on the way home from my grandma’s house & stopping at the gas station to fill up the tank. August 1, 2014 at 5:14pm Reply

    • Victoria: Wow! What a great combo. It really sounds intriguing, and I can imagine how interesting and memorable it must smell. August 4, 2014 at 8:26am Reply

  • Ariadne: Layering is WONDERFUL. I just bought a huge bottle of Encre Noir por Homme that I plan on layering this fall with all manner of other things, in particular rose.
    Totally off topic but I have been following the Comic Con convention in the news and am wondering if there is a ‘Perfumicon’ event anywhere in the world? August 1, 2014 at 4:04pm Reply

    • Angela: Ariadne,
      I also bought encrire noir but could not wait until fall to wear it. Yesterday, I wore it with guerlain aqua allegorica pampelune (one minute spray adjacent to each other on one wrist – then combined by rubbing my other wrist across. It toned down the juiciness of the grapefruit and made it more earthy (at least to my beginner’s nose). Today, I am wearing it with lorenzo villoresi garofano. I am not sure, but I think encrire noire muted the soapiness of the geranium (or what I think of as soapiness) and perhaps made it spicier. I like the combo better than garofano alone. I would love to hear about your specific combinations with rose when you layer them. August 2, 2014 at 9:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Rose and vetiver are a great match! August 4, 2014 at 8:26am Reply

  • Courant: yes, the comments today are very authorish, alive with imagery and interpretation. My own is more prosaic; the smell of a renovator cutting through native timber (burning, resinous separation) Onion weed flowering, seaweed rotting on the beach after a storm, poodle wool that needs clipping, that skin-sebum-whitehead smell. A wearing of Courtesan by Worth (Victoria is about to chuck-the pineapple)
    The dog’s name is Luca, he’s a giant poodle, an oversized standard. He gets a bit whiffy. August 1, 2014 at 4:20pm Reply

    • Victoria: Hardly prosaic! I love the imagery you’ve painted. August 4, 2014 at 8:27am Reply

  • Maren: Last night at the park where I walk the maintenance garage door was open. It was a weird mix of fertilizer, oily grease for the mechanical equipment and a vegetal watery smell from the nearby lake. Loved it! And I only really focused on it because of the scent diary here and consciousness of cultivating my sense of smell because of this blog. Scent of the day is Rose d’Ete, so lovely as it so fits this gorgeous lovely summer day where I am. August 1, 2014 at 5:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: In Ukraine I smelled a bright yellow rose that reminded me so much of Rose d’Ete. I love that perfume. August 4, 2014 at 8:28am Reply

  • Hamamelis: My first comment here, just entered the world of perfume since spending a fortnight in a house situated in an orange grove, while the oranges blossomed…after which I tried to find the perfect (affordable) orange blossom perfume. I found a few, as well as a new real pleasure…seeing pictures or feeling atmospheres in perfume. Love reading this blog, helps enormously.
    Besides my so far all time favourite scent, the flowering Hamamelis in the cold of winter (I don’t think there is any perfume that can mimic this… or at least I haven’t found it) what I love to smell every day I my dog’s paws. Dry, sweet, earthy, homely.
    And the scent of my phloxes in the garden… August 2, 2014 at 5:58am Reply

    • Andy: First of all, a great big welcome from all of us here at Bois de Jasmin! I couldn’t help but comment because your foray into the perfume world reminds me of my own. It took an experience around some beautifully scented plants for me to realize my keen interest in scent. I too adore the scent of hamamelis blooms, though I’ve never found anything like it in a perfume. It’s such an unexpected experience, to walk through the snow and bury one’s nose in the wiry blossoms, to find such a bright, spicy scent. The warm fragrance is such a contrast to the sharp, biting cold. August 2, 2014 at 11:38am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Thank you Andy for your warm welcome! I am looking forward to learning lots of the experienced visitors here. It is so true what you say that the scent of the hamamelis is so extra special because it is one of the few scented flowers in Winter…Thank you again. August 2, 2014 at 1:37pm Reply

    • Victoria: A warm welcome from me too! 🙂
      I’d love to know which orange blossom perfumes you’ve discovered. It’s one of my favorite notes too, and I can never resist another orange blossom. August 4, 2014 at 8:30am Reply

      • Hamamelis: Thank you very much Victoria, I think your blog is truely marvellous and full of treasures. My perfume/colognes are so far mainstream (following among others your advice for starters on the scent trail):
        Secret d’essences neroli and un matin en un jardin fleur d’agrumes Yves Rocher
        Nerola orange blossom and Malibu lemon blossom Pacifica
        Fleur d’oranger Fragonard

        I would be thrilled if you would suggest some; the aux pays de la fleur d’oranger ones are on my wishlist.
        Thank you again for your scent inspirations. August 4, 2014 at 9:38am Reply

        • Victoria: They are really well-crafted fragrances! Yves Rocher spends more money on its perfumes than some niche brands, so you have made good choices.
          Do you have a budget in mind for more recommendations? August 4, 2014 at 5:37pm Reply

          • Hamamelis: Thank you very much for your reply. My current max would be 100 euro’s or so, I am still in doubt if several cheaper ( I.e. Yves Rocher) perfumes are a better investment in my ‘nose training’ than one excellent one…I don’t live close to a bigger city so a smelling expedition to a good parfumery is not so feasible unfortunately. I am building a business with my husband, very busy and stressful at times, so perfuming is one way to relax…till we are as successful as it promises to be I have to be clever how to explore fragrance. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your experience and expertise. August 4, 2014 at 6:27pm Reply

            • Hannah: Just come up with a perfume budget, and come up with a maximum amount for how much you’ll allow for the less expensive perfumes to amount to. As you fear, bargain shopping can be a terrible investment. But as long as you keep the costs in check and are buying well-crafted but inexpensive fragrances, buying several cheaper fragrances is fine.
              But an expensive orange blossom that I like is Serge Lutens Fleurs d’oranger (85,00€). August 4, 2014 at 6:49pm Reply

              • Hamamelis: Thank you Hannah, that gives a useful structure to my perfume budget. What is it in Serge Lutens Fleur d’Oranger that you like? (I ask this to learn and enjoy olfactory descriptions) August 5, 2014 at 4:27am Reply

                • Gían: Ooo- Fleurs d’oranger is absolutely one of my favourites! It’s quite intense though, so a little goes a long way. It’s smells like its name suggests- an overdose of orange blossoms, with some jasmine on the side, and most memorably, a pinch of cumin to sweat it up a bit. A touch of naughty. Imagine being back at that orange grove where you spent that fortnight– it’s early evening, you’d just finished having a good, vigorous- ah, “time” with your partner, you slip on his T-shirt and go for a stroll through the grove… The trees are in full bloom, the evening breeze wafts the jasmine growing along the perimeter your way, subtly adding itself to the potent scent of a whole grove of orange blossoms enveloping you in the heavy warmth of tropical heat. You take a deep breath & inhale all of that along with the scent of your own sweaty skin & that of your partner’s from his T-shirt… But you remember, lest I did not make myself clear, you are standing in an orange grove. You are firmly on orange blossom’s territory, and those blossoms will not let you forget it! August 5, 2014 at 12:19pm Reply

                  • Hamamelis: I suspected that perfumistas and perfumistos (what is the name for male perfumista’s?) also are poets…or at least word painters…but now I am sure Gian!
                    Thank you for this elaborate description. What actually happened is that the orange blossoms scent was so potent (…) that it permeated the villa where we were staying, everywhere, all the time, including the bedroom and all activities there and our sweaty skins! I read that the scent of azahar was so strong that when ships would sail close to Valencia and its coast the crew would smell it on board (I suppose also sweaty at the time).
                    I will try to have a sample sent to me, thank you again.Wonderful. August 5, 2014 at 6:31pm Reply

                    • Gían: Alas, just as there is no such thing as a ballerino, the guys just get an identifier (male perfumista). However, I’m not so sure I qualify as a perfumista though. One of the defining traits of a true perfumista seems to me to be a very wide range of taste in perfume & an almost obsessive desire to try as many perfumes as they can get their noses on. My taste in perfume tends to be fairly narrow & specific. I also tend to really gravitate towards perfumes that have one dominant note. Like with orange blossom- I want my orange blossom perfumes to scream orange blossom. This doesn’t mean I like only pure solifleurs, the dominant note can be surrounded & supported by other notes, but I still want that one note to stand out very clearly. Or even better an interplay of a dominant floral note & an animalic base. Of course there are many exceptions but they are not the rule. However, I am quite passionate about perfumes & I clearly spend a lot of time reading perfume blogs & spending way way way too much $ on perfume so I dunno… maybe my tastes will broaden as time goes by. August 5, 2014 at 7:44pm

                    • Gían: BTW, you have talent for describing things yourself… “What actually happened is that the orange blossoms scent was so potent (…) that it permeated the villa where we were staying, everywhere, all the time, including the bedroom and all activities there and our sweaty skins!”- is a VERY clear description of what you seem to be looking for in a bottle! Had you said that initially without my prompting, the perfumistas here would prolly be chiming away with orange blossom perfume suggestions. So here are a few more of my favourite OB scents:
                      – Annick Goutal Neroli
                      – Vero Profumo Rubj (possibly my fave on the list but mucho mucho pricy! This one smells like you are still in the rumpled bed having sex with the window open as opposed to being out in the grove after the fact!)
                      – JPG Fleur du Male (alas d/c’d but still easily available online for cheap cheap cheap!)
                      – Profumum Neroli
                      – Houbigant Oranger en Fleurs
                      – Gorilla at Lush Orange Blossom
                      And finally, although I myself have yet to try them, the perfumistas seem to fawn over:
                      – Narcisco Rodriguez for Her
                      – L’Artisan Parfumeur Saville a L’Aube August 5, 2014 at 8:08pm

                    • Victoria: What a terrific list! Hamamelis, you’re set! 🙂 And I agree with Gian, your own descriptions are wonderful and evocative. August 5, 2014 at 10:22pm

                • Hannah: I’m awful at describing things.
                  Well, like all orange blossom fragrances it is very bright/luminous and it is sweet, but it is less sweet than some orange blossom fragrances. It also has jasmine and tuberose, and it is pretty heady. It might be more of an evening fragrance than what you have, that’s why I recommended it.
                  And if you visit a big city, visiting a Serge Lutens counter can be a lot of fun (or at least it is for me). August 5, 2014 at 12:21pm Reply

                  • Hamamelis: Thank you Hannah that helps a lot, and I think you are totally right in suggesting to try an evening orange blossom, venture a little out of the safe zone. I hope to visit a Serge Lutens counter one day. So much to discover! August 5, 2014 at 6:38pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yves Rocher is a good investment! Gian recommended so many options to you already. I just wanted to add one I don’t remember seeing–Armani Code for Her. It’s a sweet, vanilla laced orange blossom, and it’s very different from your other ones. Since trying it should be easy, I recommend giving it a go. Or at least, just to see what a gourmand orange blossom can be like. August 5, 2014 at 9:53pm Reply

              • Gían: Armani Code for Her is another one I have not yet sampled myself but your description of it sounds like an apt inclusion to the list. I have also never tried anything from the Yves Rocher line other than the bottle of his Monoi oil that I bought in Germany in 19– ah, something… Let’s just say the Berlin Wall had already fallen but was fresh in our memories… August 5, 2014 at 11:31pm Reply

                • Hamamelis: I think Gian that your prompting made me aware of what I looked for in the azahar, which is why this blog is so enjoyable and useful, I would not have asked myself what in it I was looking for specifically…and probably my answer would have not included sex. However what I also find incredible about orange blossom is that it has a consoling and pacifying effect besides the sexual and sensual, that same fortnight I was in a period of grief after my mother died unexpectedly, and it seemed to sweeten the tears as it were. But I won’t forget to look for something sweaty in my perfume tasting! August 6, 2014 at 5:05am Reply

                  • Gían: Actually– just to be clear, the sexy component of perfumes such as SL Fleurs d’Oranger & Vero Profumo Rubj comes not from the OB, which as you mention has a comforting, pacifying, indeed pretty effect but from the addition of notes such as civet & cumin. Some of those OB scents listed above are actually quite demure. Which perfume to choose depends on the effect you’re going for. I only discussed sex in response to Hannah suggestion of SL Feurs d’Oranger which does contain cumin. That said, I still say SL Fleurs d’Oranger is prolly my #1 recommendation for you but I highly recommend you try to obtain small samples of them all so you can spend time with them all. That is part of the joy of being a perfumista! August 6, 2014 at 12:50pm Reply

                    • Gían: P.S. Dear Hamamelis, I am so so sorry about your mother! Please accept my most sincere & deepest condolences! And yet, I’m so happy that the orange blossoms were able to “sweeten” your tears as you say & give you some comfort! Your story absolutely reminds me of why I love perfume so much! Annick Goutal Neroli may be the one to wear when remembering your mum or if you read the back story about the creation of Seville a L’Aube perhaps that one will bring you back to the Azahar.

                      But for sexy & sweaty & big & bold- SL Fd’O or VP Rubj definitely, for sure!

                      BTW- I take it your in Europe? In the United States where I live I was able to get a full bolly of SL Fd’O at an online discounter for US$60 (retail price is US$130)… I think you can get a FB of that one for cheap if you look around online. But definitely look first to decanters to obtain small samples so that you try a bunch of perfumes before committing to buying a FB! I learned that the hard way! Keep me posted please! I cannot wait to hear what you think/find!

                      P.P.S. I just bought a bolly of Frederik Fekkai’s perfume (sadly d/c’d too but found one for US$45 online) on the suggestion of Elisa (awesome writer here at Bois de Jasmin) & she was absolutely correct (she has such good taste in perfume!)- it is a wonderful OB- softened & smoothed by honey. It wears like a cashmere OB! So of course I now have to add that to the list but it is much harder to find! I’d be happy to send you a small decant if you can’t find any! August 6, 2014 at 1:32pm

                    • Gían: Gee, maybe I sorta am a perfumista after all, lol, albeit an unconventional one! I certainly seem to go on & on about perfumes & write more than my fair share of thoughts on here! August 6, 2014 at 1:46pm

                    • Hamamelis: Dear Gian,
                      Almost a month has passed and due to all kinds of things happening…mainly life…I only just read your last kind comments! Just to let you know I am in the middle of trying to test the different OB perfumes you and all the other contributors suggested. Fleur de Male was wonderful, a long sexy journey I suppose. There was something in the drydown which reminded me so much of a very popular perfume of the distant past …Poison? Loulou? It was so familiar that I don’t think I would wear FdM because of this, all the time I would think…what does this remind me of (besides orangeblossom)…
                      I will reply in the next Recommend me a scent how I am doing. BTW I live in the Netherlands, so some perfumes are harder to get here, other easier.
                      Thank you again, till soon! August 25, 2014 at 12:12pm

              • Hamamelis: Thank you Victoria, and indeed I am set! One happy nose here. August 6, 2014 at 4:54am Reply

        • Nick: Ferragamo’s Tuscan Soul is my go to Orange Blossom (plus a little juice). It is reasonably priced and layers with everything, almost. August 5, 2014 at 9:02am Reply

          • Hamamelis: Thank you ver much Nick, I will put it on my to try list. August 5, 2014 at 10:25am Reply

  • Hamamelis: PS wearing Lancome o de l’orangerie today, soft and fresh on a hot august day. August 2, 2014 at 5:59am Reply

    • Victoria: A very nice orange blossom cologne! I have a small decant, and I enjoy it too. August 4, 2014 at 8:31am Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Wonderful suggestions and lots of perfumes to discover, Hamamelis!
        Another lovely neroli is Neroli Portofino by Tom Ford. The Eau is far too expensive, bit you can have the oil for ± € 60. August 6, 2014 at 5:34am Reply

        • Hamamelis: Thank you Cornelia, body oil sounds very good! August 6, 2014 at 5:45am Reply

        • Victoria: True, the perfume oil is less expensive and very strongly scented. August 6, 2014 at 10:14am Reply

  • rainboweyes: – Phlox flowers are in bloom in my garden now, a lovely smell but I wouldn’t like it as perfume, I think
    – The dustbin has a nasty smell now, it’s hot and humid here at the moment, quite unusual for Germany
    – Freshly ground pink pepper
    – Prune and mirabelle crumble with cinnamon
    – My little son’s skin smells of sun
    – Cat pee in the garden 🙁
    – Patricia de Nicolai Eau Chic August 2, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Phloxes are all over my grandmother’s garden, and every morning I would step outside to open the shutters, and that was the first thing I’ve smelled. So beautiful. August 4, 2014 at 8:32am Reply

  • Amy: I was just visiting NYC, where I lived in my 20s. The subway smell – there is nothing else like it. Not the “problem areas,” (specific spots where seriously malodorous… um… puddles & whatnot may lurk) but just that overall smell of humans and mechanical stuff and old food and I don’t know what else… I found myself standing on the platform taking great gulping whiffs of it, to the puzzlement of my companion. It just takes me back to such a special time in my life – I love it. August 2, 2014 at 11:29am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that NYC subway smell! You can’t mistake it for anything else. 🙂 August 4, 2014 at 8:33am Reply

  • Liz K: Our trash pick up was late yesterday and my walk took me on a very garbagey olfactory adventure. Strange how some trash can smell bad but good in small doses (a bit like cat-butt) and some just makes me want to run by holding my breath. I also like skunk and diesel exhaust so am probably not the best one to judge bad smells. August 2, 2014 at 1:35pm Reply

    • Victoria: If I think about it, bad smells are composed of many different odors, some of which are good. For instance, rotten mango has a pungent sulphuric smell, but it also has a strong floral note. Thinking like this helped me when I traveled around tropics. I kept a scent diary during my India trip this winter, and when I look back, I realize that most of my scent impressions were very positive. August 4, 2014 at 8:35am Reply

  • Candace: When I was a young girl growing up in a then very unpopulated Southern California a sugar beet factory was on the main road. Everyone who passed by held their noses for minutes because the scent was so strong, wafted so far, and was so horrid. (I have no idea why a sugar factory should have such an unpleasant aroma!). Then one day, for me, it magically changed to a wonderful, baking-cookie perfume. I came to look forward to every drive that took us past it. It reminds me of acquired tastes. Two foods that began by tasting almost unbearably bad to me are buttermilk and uni. I was driven for some reason to keep taking tiny samples of them until one day – voila! – they were addictively delicious! What is that phenomenon?

    By the way, my best friend, soul-mate, dearest companion is moving away and I have been inconsolably depressed. Yesterday I was cleaning out my dresser when I spied a bottle of YSL Rive Gauche. I spritzed it liberally and felt immensely better! I forgot how a fragrance can lift a mood. August 3, 2014 at 8:31am Reply

    • Patricia: Perfume can be such a mood-booster!

      Can you plan a trip to visit your friend in the new location so you will have something to look forward to? August 3, 2014 at 4:57pm Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, that’s similar to what I experienced in India. Bad smells can morph into good, or at least bearable and not offensive. August 4, 2014 at 8:37am Reply

  • solanace: This scent diary makes me realize that the offers at the street market here do not change much along the year. Where are the local, seasonal, fruits? In the end I got a few mangoes, which should be bought 6 months from now and, of course, they smelled of nothing. 🙁
    Totally falling for Dior Homme Intense. August 4, 2014 at 5:25am Reply

    • Michaela: Nothing compares to the local seasonal fruits, vegetables, herbs, and these become harder to find than ever, specialties instead of common available stuff. Pity. We are losing vitamins, nutrients, but also the joy of smell and taste.
      I just went to our market this we and I found some local fruits in season, say, maybe 20 % of them, the rest were imported fruit and vegetables with no scent and no taste. August 4, 2014 at 6:17am Reply

    • rainboweyes: You are based in Brasil, aren’t you?
      There was an interview with the cook of the German football team a few weeks ago – during World Cup – in the German press and I was very surprised to read that the fruit and vegatable on offer at the local markets was very poor compared to Germany. Why is that? I get the fanciest produce from our local organic farmer right now and I love to indulge in the market smells! August 4, 2014 at 7:45am Reply

      • Michaela: No, in Romania. But I think the ‘modern’ street market is similar, local products are slowly replaced by imported all-times-available products.
        Strange, really. August 4, 2014 at 8:33am Reply

      • Michaela: sorry 🙂 Solanace is from Brasil, I’m pretty sure. August 4, 2014 at 8:35am Reply

    • Victoria: This is an issue everywhere, which is why I start looking at the labels more. For instance, there are local Belgian peppers in season right now, so it makes no sense to buy imported ones. The imports are a little bit less expensive, but the taste is bland and watery. August 4, 2014 at 8:39am Reply

  • Aurora: Weekend smells: bleach which always spell cleanliness and home chores

    Later at the deli: great bunches of mint, parsley and coriander. The scent of tomato stems while I choose the ripest to make a ratatouille.

    This morning: spraying Imogen Rose by Gorilla Perfume a powdery rosy scent which I layer with La Rose by Lyn Harris. August 4, 2014 at 8:04am Reply

    • Victoria: The smell of herbs is one of the most irresistible, especially mint, basil, and coriander. And dill, too. August 4, 2014 at 8:40am Reply

  • Annette: Yesterday: the predominant jasmine note in Andy Tauer’s Le Maroc pour Ellle (which I am still trying to learn or “get”:)) and strangely fascinating smell of apples rotting under an apple tree as I was passing by.
    Today so far: delicious smell of a morning cappuccino in a cafe and a coconut baklava plus the smell of slightly burnt home-made cracklings (“skwarki” – for Victoria’s sake:)).
    BTW, I have decided to keep a private so called “sense diary”, in which I want to record memorable experiences form all my senses (intelectual pleasures included:). Guess what – or rather who – gave me the inspiration?:))
    PS See, dear Victoria, I am keeping my word! August 4, 2014 at 8:59am Reply

    • Victoria: Yay, you’ve joined! 🙂 The smell of rotting apples in the orchard is so evocative! It’s one of my favorites in late summer-early fall.

      I’m so happy to hear that you like the idea of a scent diary. I keep a private one as well, and it’s fascinating to see how many more things you start noticing when you pay attention and not just scents. August 4, 2014 at 9:46am Reply

  • lila: There are a number of favorite scents that I can think of off the top of my head; gasoline, freshly lit cigarette (even though I don’t smoke) sharpie markers, automotive shops (especially the tire section), machine shops, cardboard coffee sleeves, and warm corn tortillas (I love the how the aroma of hay, flowers and sweet corn lingers on my fingers after eating tacos. I really should write down new ones I encounter that probably get forgotten. For instance, I was in a Brunello Cucinelli store this weekend and it smelled fantastic. Later, I was telling my husband about how good the store smelled and he had noticed that they sold candles in the store – for $200!!!. Well, the candles aren’t going to happen so hopefully just writing down the experience will suffice by recalling the scent by memory.

    My SotE is Coco Mademoiselle Body Oil. It’s been my nighttime scent/ritual lately. Earlier today I wore LAPs Mechant Loup – a fresh, cuddly scent- but decided it was too masculine for my taste. I then put on Guerlain Rose Nacree du Desert. Again, I’d rather smell this on a guy rather than myself – very dry, spicy maybe and woody. All said though, I think I’ve had a very good olfactive day! August 4, 2014 at 9:17pm Reply

    • Victoria: Did you wear Rose Nacree du Desert over Mechant Loup, or did you wash that one off first? The combo sounds interesting (and I agree, Mechant Loup is a tad too much for me too). August 5, 2014 at 9:57pm Reply

  • Aurora: This morning: acidulated smell of Seville orange marmalade and sourdough bread for breakfast.

    In the fridge scent of raspberries defrosting for a cake to be made later today.

    Lingering in the lounge, scent of Virginia Cedar ess. oil (good quality oil found at a small pharmacy near Gare du Nord didn’t know this brand) used in the candle I burnt and extinguished at 11pm to mark declaration of war with Germany. rather have used Rosemary as more appropriate but didn’t have any. T August 5, 2014 at 7:52am Reply

    • Victoria: Bitter orange anything catches my attention! I love Seville orange marmalade, and I try to pace myself and not to finish a jar too quickly. August 5, 2014 at 10:04pm Reply

      • Aurora: We have similar tastes in preserves. This delicious marmalade, made in Spain, which rivals many other more costly is available at Tesco of all places! August 6, 2014 at 6:26am Reply

  • Kaleigh Bickleman: The smell of castoreum has become such a pleasure to me. The mix of the animalic and leathery aspects of it make it very inviting for me. I think it adds such a beautiful facet to a fragrance if dosed right.

    Also, I grew up in a small town of Pennsylvania, where Yuengling beer is brewed. You could tell the days they were brewing, a sweet mix of yeast and hops that will never leave my memory even after I have moved from there. August 5, 2014 at 3:59pm Reply

    • Victoria: I travel past a beer brewery time to time (well, in Belgium they are common!), and I also grew to like the scent. August 5, 2014 at 10:17pm Reply

  • Aurora: Milky and sour cream smell of yogurt for breakfast with a slice of raspberry cake.

    New oaky floorboard smell when I open the cupboard – this scent has disappeared from the rest of the apartment after a year and a half of occupancy.

    8hour cream eucalyptus scent and taste when I use it on my lips. I like the traditional scented version better as it reminds me of childhood at least Elisabeth Arden hasn’t reformulated this classic.

    Kenzo flower cream body milk as scent of the day. August 7, 2014 at 7:51am Reply

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