This was recommended to me as an alternative to Coromandel (which, as you might recall, was the scent that went to Orange Pez on my skin. I blame benzoin. I think benzoin and I are not friends.)
In many ways this was a test to see if I actually like patchouli.
Conclusions: when mixed like this? Hell yes I do. This is not a scent I would think of as being 'hippie' or 'unwashed'. It is -- refined, almost a very bold sketchwork of a scent. I think of a Japanese ink-and-brush painting of bamboo. Tropical, but stylized.
Wet it is strongly cocoa -- the baking chocolate scent, not the sweet chocolate one, the bitter architecture of chocolate -- and a BUNCH of patchouli. As it dries the bitter chocolate goes to traces, and there is cardamom and white flowers underneath. (Fragrantica says labdanum. If this is labdanum, I really like labdanum.)
A scent for summer evenings. A woman or a man who is very comfortable in a very unusual place. And I keep coming back to the blackwork sketch of bamboo. (That, and yellowed, humidified paper, curling up at the edges. A tropical archive.)
I will wear it again. (I think I really really like Lutens, as a perfume house.)
Everyone who is Into Perfume has to try this eventually. It seems to be some kind of ritual, along with McQueen's Kingdom and maybe Muscs Koublai Khan, a weird trifecta of 'things that might be really horrible or really awesome on you depending on your skin chemistry'.
The 'really horrible' option on Miel de Bois is apparently catpiss. Miel de Bois is meant to smell like HONEY, CAPITALIZED, and the chemical accord that does 'honey' can also go straight for 'ammonia and urine' if you rolled the bad skin chemistry dice.
I did not roll the bad skin chemistry dice.
I love this stuff. It is almost pure honey-scent, wet, a raw honey like the smell of eating honeycomb. Almost cloying-rich. As it dries there are complex wood notes underneath, cedar and something else, like -- the thing I think of as 'loam', a wood-earth smell. But very faint. Mostly this is honey.
Strangely, it isn't gourmand. I don't want to eat it, and it doesn't make me think of food. It's not a sex scent, either, though I will admit I said while I had it on that I really thought I ought to be having sex while wearing it. It's that kind of sexy. The 'please come have a complex sensory experience with me RIGHT NOW' sexy.
When I had it on last night, I was drinking whiskey at the time, and damn, but that taste works with this scent.
(... next time, whiskey AND sex.)
And now for the opposite side of the coin: Cuir de Russie, the Chanel scent I love, and own an entire bottle of.thatyourefuse just described this as ‘very posh’
, and I agree technically. It is posh in the sense of being sophisticated, elegant, put-together. But it is not clean. I wear it all the time; it is both an ‘I am femme and lovely and designed’ and a ‘fuck you if you thought that didn’t mean I was dangerous’ scent for me. Of all the things I own this is my default. When I give a talk next week in front of several leading scholars in my field, I will be wearing this.
The major notes are leather and iris. Wet, the leather is a little filthy, with a scrim of top-note aldehydes and bergamot; it dries to a rich smoky leather with iris and jasmine and ylang-ylang and rose somewhere hidden in the middle. Fragrantica tells me it is built on tobacco and amber basenotes, and I am not surprised at all.
It has an air to it which reads ‘third-generation New York intelligentsia with money’; kind of a fuck-you intellectual scent, a woman who could be sitting in a Park Avenue apartment but who has instead spent the day at the Hungarian Pastry Shop outside of Columbia University, drinking endless cups of coffee and smoking. She is wearing a leather jacket, perfect lipstick, and last night’s eyeshadow. The seams are straight on her stockings and if you got her dress up over her knees there’d be a laddered run from mid-inner-thigh to crotch. She probably curses in an entirely unexpected language.
I want to be her, pretty much all the time, and thus, I own a bottle of this perfume.
Well, everyone needs a weird perfume disaster that is both disappointing and boring, I guess.
I got a sample of this (and some other Chanel fragrances) at the Chanel counter in Saks last week (a lovely experience!). I adored the scent in the sample — it’s a complicated oriental, orange over amber with vanilla and wood notes.
This afternoon I thought I’d put some on. This has gone rather badly.
Wet, it is still orange-amber, and I am very happy with it, especially as I get incense notes, which I am exceedingly fond of.
The drydown is another story.
I currently smell like Pez. Orange-flavored Pez.
Chalky candy-vanilla orange scent. AUGH. get it off get it off get it off. If this is benzoin, as the Fragrantica analysis suggests it might be, I hate benzoin.
Sigh. Chanel seems to be a very hit-or-miss house, on my skin.
It has snowed again; I am endlessly writing the dissertation. It has become necessary to wear this perfume every day, as it is the antidote to damp cold, being a thing that smells like a sirocco wind out of a red desert. I love it, a little. It is austere and expansive and everything I do not feel right now.
Wet, it is petitgrain and cedarwood, sharp, almost astringent. But it immediately settles into amber and more cedar (with coriander and rosehip all through) -- I think of incense, and of the smell of superheated wood, dry, the room in a sauna with no steam.
It is a wide-open scent, and it is warm. Wearing it changes how things taste -- or I just have a very strong association with cedar having a taste, even though I have never licked a cedar block -- and it is brilliant with green tea. The tastes, together.
I could want it to be a little less austere, a little more sensual (more rose would be nice, and there is apparently supposed to be a jasmine note that I cannot find), but amber and cedarwood and heat is very very comforting right now.
(I might try to layer it with something with a lot of rose. Hm.)
I got a sample of this based on the commentary that it is a scent that Marisa Coulter or Queen Jadis would wear. (I mean. I had to, after that.)
Provisional conclusion: this is not what I think of when I think about Jadis and her offer of Turkish Delight, but goddamn is it amazing. And belongs on a woman with a lot of unpleasant, complicated power.
The first thirty seconds are rose and sharp face-powder, almost astringent, and I thought it wasn't going to be wearable and I was intensely sad. And then it bloomed into peach (my skin LOVES peach, it's a little ridiculous) and jasmine and something that I'm thinking of as blackberry, but it's not how blackberry smells, it's how blackberry tastes (maybe that's the passionfruit? or the hyacinthe?), with the rose and the sharpness like a scrim over it, and something like dark, overturned earth underneath. Loam, and flowers growing out of it, white and dark purple-red.
This is a scent for the Empress Theodora, barefoot in the palace in Constantinople an hour before dawn, with Justinian asleep in their bed after she's done with him. It is deliberate. It is complicated. It is deeply femme and intensely sexual but not in a -- scent-of-sex way. In a my power derives from sex way.
This one I'll wear. Maybe a lot.
Everything is terrible forever, re: my dissertation and bureaucratic obstacles between me finishing it and me submitting it, and also I am reading a book which is making me very angry but which I need to read so that I can prove I’ve read it. And also it’s about 60% awesome insights, just with 40% WHAT THE FUCK, IMPORTANT SCHOLAR, YOU ARE MADE OF AGENDA AND I CAN TELL.
So I am briefly pausing to review Bulgari Black, which I put on this morning after reading thatyourefuse’s writeup.
This is supposed to be a leather-tar-and-rose scent. I picked up a sample of it when I was in a Sephora and trying out a billion rose-based scents, and I was sort of hoping for something that’d be good for days where I want to be cyberpunk femme: a Molly Millions kind of perfume.
That is not what I got.
Right out of the sample vial, Bulgari Black gives me innocuous florals, very soft, very pink; I get rose and vanilla. I spend about ten seconds thinking really? That’s IT? and then it hits my skin chemistry and goes solid melted asphalt in July. Thick, mechanical, sticky-hot scent, nothing human about it. The city at its least flattering. A bit after that, the florals are back, but now in a sort of artificial way, like floral air freshener sprayed to get rid of the asphalt scent by a middle-aged woman in a ground-floor apartment. Still in July.
I go outside in the 25F cold, and we’re back to mechanical, but now it’s not asphalt, it’s rubber. Rubber like the taste of bubblegum after you’ve chewed it so much the flavor is almost gone.
Eight hours later, as I’m writing this now, my wrists smell lovely — distant leather and rose, warm, faded.
I will not be wearing this regularly. It is an experience, not a character, and I don’t like New York in July.
So I love citrus. I love citrus a lot. I have grapefruit-scented body wash! I will make lemon buttercream which is about 50% lemon juice just to eat it with a spoon afterward. I like citrus EVERYTHING. So I thought, self, what you need is a citrus perfume you can wear in the winter and which won’t make you smell like a teenage girl with a gift card to The Body Shop.
and thus I acquired a 2ml spray decant of something that’s only available in bell jars imported from Europe.
I wanted this because citrus + rumored ‘oriental’ spice notes, especially wood and amber; that just sounded delicious.
What I got? Something that I love for the first thirty seconds I’m wearing it and then … mm. It’s not bad. It’s just not what I want. Because those first thirty seconds —
It’s like someone broke a twig of young wood over a bowl of mandarin oranges and some kind of white flower — magnolia? — which have been set aflame and are caramelizing, not burning. This — greenstick scent. It’s glorious and perfect, it smells like temple ritual.
And then on the drydown all of that green sharpness goes away and I’m wearing a warm citrus-amber-caramel perfume which is actually too gourmand for me. It’s lovely, but I feel like I should be eating it. Not wearing it.
I want to wear the first thirty seconds. I wonder how I could get something that’d do that. Green and fire and incense and flowers.