Three Classics and One Great Novel

The first time I encountered a perfume that beguiled me was on the pages of a book. The sultry red-haired witch in Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita enticed women with the promise of “Guerlain, Chanel No. 5, Mitsouko, Narcisse Noir, evening gowns, cocktail dresses...” It would be some years before I smelled these perfumes, but their names left a “baffling but seductive” imprint, just as suggested by the novel.

It is no accident that Bulgakov selected Chanel No 5, Guerlain Mitsouko and Caron Narcisse Noir. Those were the fragrances worn by his wife, Elena Bulgakova, the muse for Margarita in the novel. Elena Bulgakova’s granddaughter from her first marriage used to be part of my family. She often mentioned how much her grandmother loved fragrance, especially the three perfumes mentioned in the novel. Chanel No 5 evoked elegance for her. Mitsouko conveyed sophistication. And Caron was pure magic in its opulent glamour.

Chanel, Guerlain, and Caron still remain classics. The downside of this reverence is that even as we admire the classics, we stop appreciating them for the very qualities that made them stand out—their idiosyncrasies and daring combinations. They seem polite, elegant, and ever so slightly conformist. So I would like to take a fresh look at these great perfumes to uncover some of their hidden layers.

The version of Chanel No 5 that Bulgakov’s Hella promised during her “Black magic” performance in 1930s Moscow was the extrait de parfum, created in 1921 by Ernest Beaux. Beaux, himself a former Muscovite with French roots, was inspired by the scent of air in the north, above the Arctic Circle, which he described as a perfume of extraordinary freshness. He experimented with this cool, uplifting accord throughout his career, and one of the best examples is Chanel No 5.

What makes his creation memorable is the contrast between the metallic, bright opening and the velvety, warm drydown. Put a drop of No 5 parfum on your wrist and let it settle for about an hour, or even two. Now take a deep inhale. At this point the perfume has already softened to a plush, cashmere like layer. Even as he made No 5 impeccably polished, Beaux infused it with enough opulence to be ravishing.

If Chanel No 5 captures the “less is more” philosophy of Coco Chanel, Guerlain Mitsouko proves that elegance can come in baroque forms. Created in 1919, Mitsouko was inspired by the innovative fragrance of the period–Coty Chypre. While Coty Chypre was memorable, it had plenty of sharp edges. Jacques Guerlain, a perfumer in charge of his family business, blended the accord of woods and moss with a peach-like note, and suddenly the perfume glowed like a nugget of gold.

For a perfume wearer unaccustomed to the earthy darkness of moss, Mitsouko can be a puzzle. It’s also fiendishly complex unlike many modern fragrances. As you wear it, think of it as a symphony, rather than a single melody. There will be ripe peaches, cinnamon-dusted jasmine petals, spicy patchouli and burnished woods. At first Mitsouko might suggest an exotic dessert, while later it will conjure up a glass of cognac in an antique library. Wait even longer, and Mitsouko will take you on an autumnal walk.

With Caron Narcisse Noir we are in another realm of fantasy. The year of its birth was 1911. Its creator—Ernest Daltroff, a dashing, vivid personality. The time was that of dramatic changes as the Belle Époque drew to an end and new avant-garde movements in the arts broke with old conventions. Everything about Daltroff’s Narcisse Noir is an answer to the new challenges. Instead of crafting a romantic vignette of orange blossoms, the classical adornment of bridal veils and baptismal gowns, he made the white flowers so sultry that Narcisse Noir smoldered. It may be called “a femme fatale perfume,” but Narcisse Noir is an excellent choice for men. There are enough woods and leathery notes to offset the floral sweetness, and its dark, inky accord is perfect for anyone who enjoys a touch of drama.

Marc Chagall, Paris Through My Window (fragment), 1913, Guggenheim Museum, NY. Via wiki-images, some rights reserved.

What are your favorite classics, in perfume and in books?



  • Fazal: Speaking of Chanel No. 5, I cannot help but feel that Chanel has tried to infuse its spirit in some other perfumes, too.

    The connection to No. 22 is too obvious but I got this idea after smelling both vintage Cuir de Russie and modern Cuir de Russie (EDT version from the niche life). The vintage Cuir de Russie is more in the style of Knize Ten but the modern has a certain No. 5 feel, rendering the modern Cuir de Russie closer to the style of Cuir Ottoman than Knize Ten. February 18, 2022 at 7:51am Reply

    • Sandra: 1932 and 31 RC have a similar melody to me.
      Le Lion and Shalimar also February 18, 2022 at 9:41am Reply

      • Fazal: I have not smelled 1932 but have been hearing a lot about Le Lion being influenced by Shalimar. That is why I am not sure if it is even worth trying Le Lion given how affordable Shalimar is. February 18, 2022 at 6:53pm Reply

  • Marsi: Your earliest review of Bulgakov is the whole reason I read his book — could it have been 19 years ago?? I didn’t know you had a family connection, how fascinating. I have owned and worn all three extraits, with Caron as my favorite and Mitsukuo ever elusive.

    Fazal mentioned Knize Ten. I came across my sample of it two nights ago and still love the opening but was surprised at how quickly it became automotive on me. February 18, 2022 at 9:45am Reply

  • Constancesuze: Beautiful piece, Victoria, as always. I love your takes on the intersection of fragrance with other art forms.
    Of these three fragrances, Mitsouko resonates with me the most.
    I’m trying to imagine which three fragrances were mentioned if I were the inspiration in question 😉 February 18, 2022 at 9:58am Reply

  • Scentful apprentice: It’s a fabulous novel, I was lucky to see a stage production at the National theatre in London years ago, they staged the very layered dramatic opening scene using Sympathy for the devil by the Rolling Stones, which was also inspired by the novel. I can’t remember much of the plot but I remember the decadent urbane strangeness of the book.

    I’ve not yet tried narcisse noir but hope to.

    Have loved your blog for a couple of years now and you were responsible for getting me into perfume and starting my own blog. 😊

    Always love how you blend perfume with history literature and culture and I’ve attempted to do similar. February 18, 2022 at 10:19am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Hi Victoria,

    Thank you for this delightful and illuminating post.

    My favourite classics from my perfume collection are listed below.

    1. Diorissimo (Christian Dior 1956)

    2. Paris (Yves Saint Laurent 1983)

    3. Bellodgia (Caron 1927)

    4. Chloé “Classic” (Lagerfeld 1975)

    5. Anaïs Anaïs (Cacharel 1978)

    6. L’Air du Temps (Nina Ricci 1948)

    7. Rive Gauche (Yves Saint Laurent 1969/2003)

    8. Le Dix (Balenciaga 1947)

    9. Après L’Ondée (Guerlain 1906)

    10. Trésor (Lancôme 1990)

    11. Chamade (Guerlain 1969)

    12. L’Heure Bleue (Guerlain 1912)

    13. Bal à Versailles (Jean Desprez 1962)

    14. Oscar (Oscar de la Renta 1977)

    15. Nahéma (Guerlain 1979)

    16. Ombre Rose (Jean-Charles Brosseau 1981)

    17. Poison (Christian Dior 1985)

    18. Phul-Nana (Grossmith 1891)

    19. Youth-Dew (Estée Lauder 1953)

    20. Opium (Yves Saint Laurent 1977)

    21. Loulou (Cacharel 1987)

    22. Shalimar (Guerlain 1925)

    23. Vol de Nuit (Guerlain 1933)

    24. Nuit de Noël (Caron 1922)

    25. Intimate Original (Revlon 1955)

    26. Y (Yves Saint Laurent 1964)

    27. Ma Griffe (Carven 1946)

    28. Chant D’Arômes (Guerlain 1962)

    29. Mitsouko (Guerlain 1919)

    30. Femme (Rochas 1944/89)

    I would like to give an honourable mention to L’Aimant (Coty 1927), which I think is underrated and a versatile and beautiful fragrance.

    I have arbitrarily made 30 years the minimum age for my classics, so I would like to name four perfumes that I think are classics of the future.

    1. La Fille de Berlin (Serge Lutens 2013)

    2. Insolence (Guerlain 2006)

    3. Tocade (Rochas 1994)

    4. Lolita Lempicka (Lolita Lempicka 1997)

    My favourite classic novels are listed below.

    1. Anna Karenina

    2. Middlemarch

    3. Jane Eyre

    4. Pride and Prejudice

    5. Oliver Twist

    6. Madame Bovary

    7. Tess of the D’Urbervilles

    8. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking-Glass

    9. Dracula

    10. Journey to the Centre of the Earth

    11. The Picture of Dorian Gray

    12. The Hound of the Baskervilles

    13. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

    14. The Secret Garden

    15. Mary Poppins

    16. The Lord of the Rings

    17. 1984

    18. Mrs Dalloway

    19. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

    20. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer February 18, 2022 at 10:35am Reply

    • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Tourmaline! Dracula, yes, I am with you.
      I expected Bleak House on your list: I remember that you were reading that book together with your father. February 18, 2022 at 11:31am Reply

      • Mel: I love Bleak House! The opening is the first cinematic zoom shot in literature. February 18, 2022 at 2:38pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Cornelia,

        Yes, I did read that one with my father. However, I included only one Dickens novel in my list, and I decided that, at the moment, “Oliver Twist” is my favourite! February 19, 2022 at 8:48am Reply

    • Bregje: Wow it seems like we have similar tastes in books!( and some of the perfumes too: beautiful lists) February 18, 2022 at 10:03pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Bregje,

        I’m glad you enjoyed reading my lists.

        As you can see, I have a soft spot for fantasies! February 19, 2022 at 8:50am Reply

        • Frances: What a wonderful list Tourmaline. I am glad you added Dracula. Recently I thought about this book alot since I watched some youtube videos about Francis Ford Coppola movie (one of my favorite ever) and especially about the costumes design.

          It is very nice to see you enjoy french authors as Flaubert and Jules Verne. My parents have all of the Jules Verne novels in a beautiful collection. They were a familiar presence while growing up. February 21, 2022 at 2:33pm Reply

          • Tourmaline: Hi Frances,

            I’m glad you liked my list! That Francis Ford Coppola film, “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is one of my favourites as well, and I have the DVD. Gary Oldman’s performance in it is mesmerizing. But, as you do, I enjoy many things about the film, including the wonderful costumes.

            That sounds like a lovely book collection that your parents have. I hope that, one day, I will be proficient enough in French to read the original version of “Journey to the Centre of the Earth”.

            With kind regards,
            Tourmaline February 23, 2022 at 8:05am Reply

            • Frances: Gary Oldman’s Dracula is yet to be surpassed, he was so intensely immersed in the part. I’m also a great fan of Winona Ryder and I thought they were such a perfect match on screen, just as inspiring as those great couples from the Old Hollywood Golden Age.

              I’m sure one day you will read Jules Verne in french. Loving an author is often the best gateway to a foreign language. February 24, 2022 at 8:21pm Reply

              • Tourmaline: I so agree about Gary Oldman’s performance, and the great couple that he and Winona make.

                You are right that interest in an author helps one to learn a language. February 25, 2022 at 9:10am Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: My favourite Guerlain was Vol de Nuit, but that glory is gone. Now it is L’Heure Bleue and Mitsouko.
    N0 5 has been my ”signature scent” for years.
    Other beloved classics: Poison, First, Rive Gauche, Opium edp.
    Books: Dickens. All of Dickens.
    Wilkie Collins, idem dito.
    Heimito von Doderer, Die Dämonen
    Heimito von Doderer, Die Strudlhofstiege
    Balzac, La Peau de Chagrin
    Balzac,Illusions Perdues
    Detective stories by Ngaio Marsh, Josephine Tey, John Dickson Carr
    And of course the classics of classics: The Iliad and the Odyssey.
    Nowadays I am reading Dante. Aloud and in Italian. I am in the Purgatory now, Canto 20.
    Dante is of course one of the greatest poets ever. Some authors can change your life; Dante did that for me. And, years ago, Heraclitus. February 18, 2022 at 11:28am Reply

    • Mel: Cornelia, I have never read J. Tey or J. D. Carr. Would you mind recommending some collections/books to start w/??? Thx!!! February 18, 2022 at 2:44pm Reply

      • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Mel!
        John D Carr has Gideon Fell as the detective, a series of thrillers. But his best book is The Burning Court, a masterpiece about witchcraft. Is the lady the reincarnation of Marie d’Aubrey, burned at the stake? Maybe.. the mystery remains.

        Josephine Tey ‘s inspector is Alan Grant.
        Her best book imo is The Man in the Queue.
        A very crowded line at a theatre, one man dead. But nobody saw the murderer.
        Another Alan Grant is The Singing Sand. Dead man in a train and a strange poem. The setting is in Scotland.

        Ngaio Marsh has Roderick Alleyn. I enjoyed most Off with His Head. English folklore, eccentric folklorist scholar Anna Bünz (= Jane Ellen Harrison, scholar on Greek mythology).

        Happy readings! February 18, 2022 at 3:44pm Reply

    • Frances: Hello Cornelia,
      I discovered John Dickson Carr a few years back and I am so happy I did. My only regret is they don’t publish much of his novels in french nowdays. There was a time where they were all translated and published by Le Masque, now there is only a few, so it is difficult to share my interest with friends who are not fluent in english. I am actually a huge fan of detective stories and plan on reading Ngaio Marsh next, so your post reminded me of this.

      Also, it is wonderful to read Dante aloud and in italian! I can read italian myself, so I understand what a joy it is to be able to “savor” Dante’s words in their original form. I forgot this masterpiece in my classic list, which is a shame, but at some point I had to stop adding. February 21, 2022 at 2:23pm Reply

      • cornelia Blimber: Hi Frances!
        Detectives in French: Maigret! You can’t have it better. The language, the atmosphere, the plots! And what about Boileau-Narcejac? dabolique!
        Yes, reading Dante aloud is overwhelming. Of course his Italian is archaic, but with some commentaries and a translation to help now and then. there is no great problem.
        I loved the Purgatorio more than the Inferno,
        looking forward to the Paradiso! February 21, 2022 at 3:05pm Reply

        • Frances: Oh, I love Maigret so much! Another classic I forgot. When it comes to Boileau Narcejac, I noticed I have only read the book which inspired Hitchcock’s Vertigo, D’entre les morts and of course Celle qui n’était plus adapted on screen by Clouzot. So thank you for the new reading ideas. I will also look up for Ngaio Marsh, both in english and french, (just found a translation of her first novel with Roderick Alleyn and a recent one at that).

          Your dedication to Dante is impressive, you totally deserve his Paradiso! I also think that some authors can change our life, especially when we are in the right emotional and intellectual place at the right time. Like any great encounter it is as much a question of affinity than a question of inner alignment so to speak. February 24, 2022 at 8:14pm Reply

  • Tami: I have to laugh a bit, as I was just reflecting on a classic that I discovered in a novel, which was one of my more disastrous experiences with fragrance!

    I read about Chanel’s Cristalle in a Michael Chabon novel—I loved all the details in his books, so I needed to investigate this one, of course. I found the scent at a perfume counter and decided it wasn’t for me. Unfortunately—it gave me one of the worst migraines I’ve ever had… AND it had stuck to the sleeve of my favorite coat and lingered there for months; any encounter with the jacket caused a physical reaction. After that I almost never tested perfumes directly on my skin until I’d tried them on paper a couple times. Lesson learned!

    My favorite classic scents are No. 5, Tea Rose, Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat, and Poison. (I’m using Tourmaline’s 30-year rule of thumb.) In novels I love Emma (most Austen, really), Crime and Punishment… I’m sure there are others I’m missing.

    I was also just thinking: What kind of perfumes might novels inspire? If you’re familiar with Picnic at Hanging Rock, I think a book like that could inspire something mysterious, hazy, and yet very “of the outdoors.” Also, feminine and bold. February 18, 2022 at 11:48am Reply

    • Mel: Yes on Picnic at Hanging Rock! Something hot, dry, delirious, and weirdly ethereal. Hmmm. February 18, 2022 at 2:47pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Mel,

        I couldn’t sum up the film in one fragrance, so I chose one for each main character. Please see my reply to Tami. February 19, 2022 at 5:26am Reply

      • Tami: Oh yes—great descriptors! Very apt… Thank you for your reply. February 20, 2022 at 10:09pm Reply

    • Tourmaline: Hi there Tami,

      What a wonderful game, to find fragrances for my favourite film of all time, “Picnic at Hanging Rock”! I found it easier to assign a fragrance to each main character, and here are my selections.

      1. Jicky (Guerlain 1889) M/F – Mrs Appleyard (the tough, old-fashioned headmistress)

      2. Mitsouko – Miranda (the beautiful, lively, enigmatic schoolgirl who disappears on the rock)

      3. Y (Yves Saint Laurent 1964) – Marion (the schoolgirl maths whizz who disappears on the rock)

      4. Chamade (Guerlain 1969) – Irma (the wealthy schoolgirl who disappears on the rock, is later found and feels unrequited love for Michael)

      5. Vent Vert (Balmain 1947/1990) – Miss Greta McCraw – (the philosophical maths teacher who disappears on the rock)

      6. Boronia (Elizabeth Carole/Deco 1976) – Edith (the young, whiney schoolgirl who warns the others not to go further on the rock, and runs back screaming when they do)

      7. Habit Rouge (Guerlain 1965) – Michael (the young man who loves Miranda and searches for her on the rock)

      8. Après L’Ondée (Guerlain 1906) – Sarah (the sad orphan waif)

      9. Femme (Rochas 1944/89) – Mlle de Poitiers (the elegant, kind French mistress)

      10. Anaïs Anaïs (Cacharel 1978) – Miss Lumley (the prim school mistress)

      11. Lolita Lempicka (Lolita Lempicka 1997) – Minnie (the kind, earthy housemaid)

      12. Tea Rose (Perfumer’s Workshop 1972) – Rosamund (the beautiful young schoolgirl who breaks down in church following the girls’ disappearance)

      13. Old Spice Original (Shulton 1938) – Albert (Sarah’s brother, who helps Michael to search the rock)

      14. Vetiver (Guerlain 1959) – Tom (a gardener at Appleyard College)

      15. Ombre Rose (Jean-Charles Brosseau 1981) – for Irma on her return to visit her classmates in that stunning red velvet ensemble February 19, 2022 at 5:22am Reply

      • Tourmaline: P. S. I should add that I have read the novel a couple of times as well. The first time was shortly after the film came out in 1975. Our school class was actually taken on an excursion to see the film. That was a memorable day in my life. February 19, 2022 at 9:27am Reply

        • Tami: That is so lovely! I adore all your pairings as well—so thoughtful! It really is such an evocative book (and movie). Thank you 🙂 February 20, 2022 at 10:08pm Reply

          • Tourmaline: Thanks, Tami! Yes, the book and film are wonderful. February 20, 2022 at 10:31pm Reply

      • Mel: PERFECT!!! February 19, 2022 at 2:47pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Thanks, Mel! February 19, 2022 at 6:58pm Reply

      • Frances: What an original idea Tourmaline! And so many beautiful fragrances.

        This movie made a lasting impression on me, the atmosphere is so fascinating, the images so ethereal and to be honest…it really scared me! February 21, 2022 at 2:09pm Reply

        • Tourmaline: Hi again, Frances,

          Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed reading my fragrance selections for the characters.

          “Picnic at Hanging Rock” made a lasting impression on me, as well. Although a television series has been made of the book, I think it speaks volumes that, in almost 50 years, nobody has tried to remake the film. I think it would be impossible to improve on the original. I might add that I prefer the real original, not the Director’s cut, in which some of my favourite scenes with Irma were removed.

          I remember that, after we went to see the film on a school excursion in 1975, I went to see it again by myself. Also, I have seen it at cinemas several more times over the years, when it has been re-screened. One special memory is an occasion when I was the only person in the cinema, so they screened it just for me!

          I love so many things about the film – the ethereal atmosphere; the casting; the beauty of the young women; the costumes; the settings – especially the college and the rock itself; the Valentine’s Day cake; the pan flute music; the magnificent and eerily gorgeous piano music that is played as the girls, and later Michael and Albert, climb the rock; the perfect editing; and the fact that the mystery remains unsolved. I can understand why it scared you.

          I think that, in many ways, the book and film are about loss. Sarah loses Miranda; Michael loses Miranda; the college loses Miranda, Marion and Miss McCraw; parents lose children; Irma loses Michael; Albert loses his sister, Sarah; the college girls lose their innocence; the college loses its reputation; and Mrs Appleyard loses her mind and then her life. Scary indeed!

          With kind regards,
          Tourmaline February 23, 2022 at 8:26am Reply

          • Frances: Some movies take a special place in our lives and we create a bond with them. AlsSo by watching them again and again, at different times and stages of growth, they acquire a different meaning. I remember being impressed by a documentary I saw about Jodorowsky and his failed attempt at directing Dune, a project he spent years perfecting. He was very heartbreak about it and he said something along the line of “movies are real people”. I could totally relate to this.

            You’re right, there are many layers to this movie and surely the loss at its heart is way scarier than the magical inexplicable disappearance that impressed me so much at the time (sleepless night ensued). Thank you for talking about it in details, it makes me want to watch it again. I didn’t know about the serie but I agree: what to add to something already perfect, who inspired many other directors (I heard Sofia Coppola owes alot to Picnic At Hanging Rock especially in terms of aesthetics). February 24, 2022 at 7:41pm Reply

            • Tourmaline: Hi Frances,

              It’s so true that, as we grow older, we have a greater understanding of films. And yes, Jodorowsky is right, films can be like people with whom we form a bond, and with whom our relationship develops over the years. I just googled Jodorowsky and read about his attempt to make “Dune”. How sad for him. (And what a treat it would have been to have seen Dali in a speaking role, regardless of his ludicrous planned salary – $100.000 per hour!)

              Indeed, Picnic is such a film for me. As for you, the unexplained disappearance of the girls was something that first impressed me, along with the beauty of the images and the music. (For years, I wanted to look as naturally beautiful as Miranda or Irma without any makeup. These days, though, I have to admit that for many women above the age of about 25, a little makeup can make a big improvement to both looks and spirits…) But as I grew older and saw the film repeatedly, the sadness of all the loss was what struck me. Yes, that is the scariest thing of all.

              The TV series is a different beast, as it were. It makes a few changes to characters, taking liberties here and there, but I did enjoy it. I hope it is available where you live, in case you are interested in seeing it. I agree with you that the film can’t be topped.

              I, too, read about the influence that the film had on Sofia Coppola, for example with “The Virgin Suicides”. I have the DVD, but haven’t yet watched it. No doubt it’s time I located it among all my stored discs and viewed it! February 25, 2022 at 9:39am Reply

  • Bregje: I was drawn to this post by the marc chagall painting. The article was almost just as beautiful. I really want to read that book now. February 18, 2022 at 10:07pm Reply

  • Aurora: I love your thoughts on those iconic perfumes, and so impressed by your family connection.
    I was reading The Sun also rises recently and was thinking Brett would have worn Jicky. February 19, 2022 at 4:42am Reply

  • ClareObscure: Thanks for this beautiful article, Victoria. The Marc Chagal painting was a great choice to put us in the mood for a red haired witch and the bewitching perfumes you describe with your delicious prose. My favourite pairing to savour, “cinnamon dusted jasmine petals”. I will definitely “have what she’s having”. February 19, 2022 at 7:59am Reply

  • MaureenC: Like Bregje I was drawn in by the beautiful Chagall. What a fabulous post, the part about Beaux’s love of the air in the arctic circle makes complete sense.
    My favourite classics in perfume are Arpège, L’Heure Bleue, Bal à Versailles and No 5. My suggestion for a ‘new classic’ is Ormonde Jayne Woman.
    Books – James Joyce Ulysses, Jane Austen Persuasion, E.M. Forster A Room with a View and most of the Golden Age detective writers. February 19, 2022 at 8:24am Reply

  • john: This is great! I think it’s so interesting to get at one art through another, as it stimulates our thinking about both. I really must read this book — my father recommended it to me on more than one occasion. I am wearing Habit Rouge right now…It has always reminded me a bit of Rimbaud for some reason, although not Rimbaud at his most bratty (or maybe something he would wear to get away with such brattiness), as in the prologue to “Une Saison En Enfer.” Eau Sauvage makes me think of Western European fascinations with the Mediterranean, and so of someone like Shelley in his incarnation there (his poem to the moon); maybe also later dreamers of this kind, such as the titular character from Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley (a dangerous role model.) I am very loyal to Caron Pour un Homme…For some reason it makes me think of Apollinaire..his writing always has a cool blue-grey hue to me, which is also the smell of that fragrance. February 19, 2022 at 2:28pm Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Hi Fazal, I wouldn’t think it advisable to write of Le Lion merely by hear-say. I find Chanel Le Lion rather different to my vast collection of Guerlain Shalimar (EdC, EdT, EdP, extrait), all of them vintage. It is far more sinewy, modern, masculine, and utterly delectable. February 19, 2022 at 2:59pm Reply

    • OnWingsofSaffron: Sorry, my response to the very first commt slipped away to the very bottom—I wonder why? February 19, 2022 at 3:00pm Reply

  • Tamasin: ORmonde Woman or Tsarina by ORmonde Jayne February 20, 2022 at 8:24am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: Today, after reading this entry about Mitsouko, I ware the vintage extrait and the parfum de toilette. Hubby sniffed in the air and said that smells of „Altherrenduft“: old gents scent! Sic transit gloria mundi! February 21, 2022 at 7:49am Reply

  • Filomena: Victoria, I love that Marc Chagall painting and I thoroughly enjoyed your post. My favorite classics are:

    L’heure Bleue
    Chanel No. 5
    Chanel No. 19
    Chanel No. 22 February 21, 2022 at 12:12pm Reply

  • Frances: I wanted to read The Master and Margarita for quite some time now but never did which is surprising of me seeing I love russian literature. This is a nice reminder. Also the covers which, more often than not, feature the cat are always so lovely and funny. In one of them the cat is wearing a crown with all the required majesty indeed. To know that Elena Bulgakova is one of your relative is very interesting indeed. And then to know that we are all here enjoying Bois de Jasmin because of the Master and Margarita somehow. That’s what I call a literary spell! February 21, 2022 at 1:15pm Reply

    • Frances: And now I reply to myself to share my favorite classics both fragrances and books.


      The legends:
      *L’Heure Bleue

      Classics too, at least in my opinion:
      *Habit Rouge

      There are many classics I wish I could smell in their original vintage form. And a lot of classics I’m yet to discover or for some, rediscover.


      *Marguerite Yourcenar – L’Oeuvre Au Noir (The Abyss)
      *Edith Wharton – The Age of Innocence
      *Henry James – Portrait of a Lady
      *Marguerite Duras – L’Amant (The Lover)
      *Baudelaire – Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil)
      *Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings
      *Colette – Dialogue de Bêtes, La Maison de Claudine, Sido, La Vagabonde (The Vagabond)
      *Boris Pasternak – Doctor Zhivago
      *Truman Capote – Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Other voices, Other rooms
      *Shakespeare – Romeo and Juliet (the first play I read in english)
      Julien Gracq – Un Balcon en Forêt (Balcony in the Forest)
      JMG Le Clézio – Désert (Verba Mundi), Poisson d’Or (Fish of Gold)
      Tolstoï – Anna Karenina
      Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest
      Edgar Allan Poe – Complete Tales
      Laurence Sterne – Tristam Shandy
      Théophile Gautier – Le Roman de la Momie
      Alexandre Dumas – The Three Musketeers

      I’d say all of the books from these authors, but let’s pick a few…
      *Conan Doyle – The Hound of The Baskerville
      *Agatha Christie – one Poirot: Death on the Nile, one Marple: Nemesis (the first one I read from the Miss Marple serie)
      *Philip Chandler – Farewell, my lovely

      Note: And then it was much fun, I had to stop… February 21, 2022 at 2:03pm Reply

  • Zazie: I often wonder why classics, both in perfume and in books, are my greatest pleasure. Sometimes I ask myself if it is a symptom of being not in tune with the time… if it is a sort of escapism, with all the consequent negative implications…

    Because I am an avid reader and perfume wearer, my lists of favorites would be too long, so I’ll just stick with my top 2 most worn/read classics:
    Shalimar and Bois des iles, on the fragrance front.
    La recherche de Proust and les lettres de Madame de Sevigné for books. For the sheer amount of times I’ve read them. And I read a lot. But I reread only very few books.

    Bulgakov is one of those few writers I’ve reread many times and he is the one that turned me on to books – my orange tabby (actually I think he has a pink tinge) is named after him.
    He, Gogol and Tolstoy really shaped my teenage years. I could never have enough and read them in different translations, Italian, French, English. How incredible to be related to him.
    (My black and white kitten, on the other side, is named after Mme Angelou. She has the greatest personality and she also has something magic and poetic about her, like her namesake.
    Sorry, I could not publicly mention Michail and not Maya. Those who have two cats will understand. Those who have two cats should read Colette, if they love classics and cats) February 21, 2022 at 5:13pm Reply

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