Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Perfumes Beloved on the Boards that I Just Don't Get, or, Huh?

I've tried.  Believe me, I've tried - mostly because people love these, and they're willing to say how much they love these, and why.  Anything a fellow perfumista loves has got to be worthy of at least some attention - and I will admit that I generally did not find these scents boring.  All of them have some personality, which is probably why they're not mainstream mall fodder.  But like anything unusual, opinions are going to differ.  These were the scents I tried, hoping for the nirvana that many people experience with them, but found utter FAILURE:

1) Mitsouko. La Grande Dame herself, beloved of many (most?) serious perfumistas, who mourn the latest reformulation and who haunt eBay like Dementors, looking for vintage parfum. I've tried edt. Vintage edt. I've tried edp from two different bottles. Thirteen tests.  I've dabbed, I've sprayed.  Now, I haven't tried the parfum, but that's because it's impossible to find. Also because I don't think it would do any good: Mitsy hates me. Sure, it's tailored and melancholy and autumnal; sure, it would make great armor (if it didn't pinch so much). But here's the thing: I don't think it smells good. Maybe it's that lactonic peach, which I haven't really liked in anything that contains it, or maybe it's the oakmoss, which I tend to find the epitome of standoffish. Aldehydes I don't mind, but Oakmoss = Unfriendly, in my lexicon. The only part of Mitsouko that I like is that warm amberish bit in the drydown, the labdanum, and that's just because it's labdanum and it smells good on its own.

2) POTL Luctor et Emergo. Salty cherry. Play-doh. The smell of preschoolers with sticky fingers. Gah. How do people get “comfort scent” out of this? It just smells like dirty work to me. (I suspect that the concept of “comfort scent” must be highly personal. My own comfort scents include Serge Lutens' La Myrrhe, which smells cold and disjointed to most people, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, which apparently smells like wet dog and powdery rose to some noses, and the J-P Guerlain version of Shalimar Light, the blue version that is widely regarded to be inferior to the Mathilde Laurent original version.)

3) Insolence edp. Holy Screaming Meemies, Batman! I don't get “swirling bits of L'Heure Bleue,” I get a gang of shrieking parrots the size of Big Bird. Kill.Me.Now. If I'm ever kidnapped and tortured, Insolence would do the job.

4) Joy. Seriously, I don't GET it. It's pretty for five minutes, particularly in the edt, with all those fresh green notes. Then it's well-worn underdrawers, Ho panties, and slut bloomers. I don't smell jasmine and rose, as I do in Chanel No. 5 parfum. No, I have to get postcoital ladyparts. In case I have to explain here, that is not what I wish to smell like.  In public.  I should make it clear that I have tried edt, vintage edt, edp, and vintage parfum; sadly, all are far too X rated for me to wear.  Jasmine does this to me from time to time.

5) Chanel Cuir de Russie. “Leather luxury”? “Fancy leather upholstery”? No. NO. What I got out of that was full-on, 3D realistic, cattle working pens. Dust, iodine, dusty fur, raw cowhide (I live on a cattle farm, remember?) followed by the dustiest, powderiest, siltiest dry-mouth iris ever. Made me thirsty, all three times I tried it. I'm DONE with it.

6) Frederic Malle Une Rose. Now look here, I love me some Dark Roses, from C&S Dark Rose to the Montale oud-rose combos to Rose de Nuit, with many others in between. But this is a beautiful, voluptuous, velvety rose gone insane: Lucy Westenra in Dracula (the book, obviously), licking blood from her lips, or Bellatrix Lestrange in the Harry Potter movies, beauty corrupted and twisted, poisoned and savaged, love-lies-bleeding.

7) Chergui. Yet another one I thought I'd adore. Narcissus? Spice? Hay? Tobacco? The notes are right up my alley, and like Une Rose, this one just misses. Turns out I don't want sweetish spices in my dusty-sweet hay, and unlike Une Rose, Chergui bored me. Then it annoyed me, because it could have been perfect.

8) 100% Love. Okay, I get the idea: chocolate, strawberries, and roses, Valentine's Day in a bottle. I'll admit it's very interesting to sniff, and I sprayed it several times just to smell it happen in 3D: choco-berry-rose-chouli, whee! But no way do I want this anywhere near my skin.

9) Chanel No. 22. I like many of the classic Chanels, as well as several of the Les Exclusifs, and aldehydes are rarely a problem for me. In fact, it's not the aldehydes that bother me here. It's the unrelenting sugariness. Two hours into it, my teeth start decaying. You could call No. 22 superior to No. 5 all you want, but I'd still say you were wrong.

10) Bois de Paradis. Nine tests: the citrusy opening is always wrong on me; I nearly tore my hair out trying to figure out if it smells more like mint or like turpentine. (Either way, it's not nice.) Then there's that blueberry. And before I can even smell much in the way of woods, I get this very very sweet, caramelly amber. The effect is of eating blueberry pancakes with maple syrup at a wooden table, close to where someone has recently cleaned the floor with Pine-Sol. If you're thinking, “Hey, that sounds pretty good,” then clearly I don't want out of my perfume what you want out of your perfume.

A couple of these I do wonder if I ever might change my mind about. No. 22, Une Rose, Chergui... those have the feel of scents that were close to love. Maybe it's my head that needs to change. Maybe more exposure would help.

At the same time, there are enough fragrances that I do really, really love, to think that I need not bother to force anything. If any of those three fall into my lap at some point in the future, particularly at no cost to me, I'd probably manage to fall in love with them. The rest? It is a relief to officially give up on them. Whew.

Top image is from  (This pic was funnier than the "Baby Head Cemetery" one I had up earlier, and gets across the idea of "close but not quite" better, too.)  Middle image is Angry Parrot by Dave Womach at flickr. Lower image is Vampire Girl by *favole* at flickr.


flittersniffer said...

I am with you on most of these: I do not "get"/like 1), 2), 3), 4), 6), 8), 9) and 10)!!

8) is a particular horror - I got chocolate and Hoover dust, and nearly missed a train at the Gard du Nord in Paris due to a sustained bout of spluttering.

ChickenFreak said...

Mind if I babble on in response?

I agree on Mitsouko, and the maddening thing is that _I liked it the first time I tried it_! But never since. The only explanation that I can come up with is that I lost track of my testing skin and accidentally sprayed it on top of something else. So I have a bottle (didn't have the sense at the time to wait for more than one test) and I can't manage to like it.

Luctor et Emergo, I love. But I'm more inclined to call me crazy than you. It's not a logical love. Also, I don't have kids, so when I wear it I _am_ the rampaging pre-schooler, I'm not the one that's responsible for them. Maybe that makes all the difference?

I didn't get Joy when I tried it. I've since reconciled with jasmine, so I might like it, but since it's apparently been reformulated out of recognition, I'm avoiding it unless I see a vintage bottle for sale right in front of me.

Cuir de Russie: Love it. But in the discussion of my review, you made me realize that, yes, there is animal in there, not just leather.

Une Rose, I can't manage to like. It's a fruitcake full of bitter citrus peel and rose petals. It just doesn't work for me.

Chergui, I don't _really_ like until hours after application. I like it then, but that is a pretty big commitment. But it doesn't bore me, it drowns me.

I want to try Chanel No. 22, if only because Luca Turin's review of this is one of my very favorites in the whole Guide. Otherwise, there's nothing in the notes list that I'm likely to like.

For me, the main scents that I keep thinking i ought to like are Andy Tauer's. I can't bear L'Air du Desert Marocain, or Dark Rose, or any other Tauer that I've tried.

Mals86 said...

Flitter, I am jealous of people who enjoy Cuir de Russie. I like Jolie Madame very much, so I was very surprised to get so much animal out of it, instead of a nice leather handbag.

So overwhelmed by 100% Love that you almost missed your train!? Eek.

Mals86 said...

CF - I think you're probably right about the smeller's perspective on Play-Doh, regarding POTL L&E. Play-Doh means, "Oh, no, the carpet!" to me, not, "Whee, I get to play with Play-Doh!" Sigh. Actually, perspective is probably a determining factor in a lot of scents. Petite Cherie smells, to me, of sitting in my grandmother's orchard in the dewy grass at twilight, near her rosebushes, listening to my relatives chat and digesting cookies, without a care in the world. But PC is derided on basenotes as being too insipid even for tween-age girls.

I continue to have difficulty with indolic jasmine, although the greenish version is fine, and if there's tuberose involved, I'm good. I don't feel all that deprived, or that philistine, by not getting Joy - I do love No. 5 vintage parfum.

I love Dark Roses of all varieties, and I was shocked to not love Une Rose - but it scared me. (Okay, okay, I thought Rose de Nuit was a tad unfriendly, with all that galbanum. I usually like galb, but in green florals where you expect to smell it all the way through. It seems like really harsh neon lighting on that lovely rose in RdN.) I did notice that you said dark roses were difficult for you - is there one you do like?

ChickenFreak said...

The only rose that I mentally group with the dark roses, that I like at all, is Paestum Rose. But I wouldn't call it dark, it just has some of the same incense and (a little) bitter notes.

After that, lemme see... I don't like Une Rose. Don't like C&S Dark Rose. Don't like Tauer Incense Rose and I think I've tried and disliked Un Rose Chypre. Don't like Le Labo Rose 31.

I don't remember if I tried Rose de Nuit - if there's galbanum, its worth a shot. Galbanum bitterness, rather than that citrus-pith bitterness that's in so many of them, might work.

Googling "dark roses", I see several that I've never tried - Black Rosette, Rose en Noir, Rose Barbare. It looks like I really haven't covered the category all that thoroughly.

Roses in general tend to be problematic for me. While I have a favorite rose bath oil, I very rarely wear any rose-dominant perfume, and in fact gave away the perfume that matches the oil.

Mals86 said...

CF, I have yet to try Paestum Rose, although it sounds like just my thing. Le Labo just annoys me, so that house along with ELd'O I've simply stricken from my test list (I've got to do SOMETHING to shorten the wretched thing!). I didn't care for Incense Rose either - something foody in there I disliked - but would have bought Une Rose Chypree if it had been a tad cheaper.

SIP, Aftelier, and Roxana Villa are some other natural-fume houses I've not explored (darn budget - and not just for purchases, but since I live in the middle of NOWHAR and can't just blithely walk into a shop to sniff, samples are expensive too). Rose en Noir I long to sample.

Rose de Nuit I liked but did not love. It felt like... hmm... ever chew something that went "squeak" in your teeth? And you weren't sure whether it was supposed to or not? Like that.

My favorite Dark Roses: Amouage Lyric, and L'Arte di Gucci (sadly, discontinued). I'd call Parfum Sacre "dark" because of the incense, but some people don't. Oh! Forgot that drop-dead-sexy MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme - that's dark. Chock-full of narcissus, oooh. (I guess that was why I was so mad about Chergui not being what I expected; I love narcissus.)

flittersniffer said...

Cuir de Russie is a little animalic, granted, but not too much or that would usually bother me. I get more skank in Jolie Madame, so that was only borderline okay and I gave my sample away. It wasn't as horrendously sour and urinous as Cabochard (created in the year of my birth - shudder!), but it wasn't very approachable either.

I think Andy Tauer is a lovely perfumer whose work I wished I liked more. I LOVE LADDM (though it took me a while to get my head round this arid smokefest), but that is it. Big shame, but there it is.

I don't like the dark roses with civet - or any rose with civet, for that matter. So that rules out Une Rose, Rose de Nuit, Sa Majeste La Rose and Ce Soir ou Jamais. I have tried Black Rosette, Rose en Noir and Rose Barbare, also L'Arte di Gucci (sadly discontinued indeed). Black Rosette was - to paraphrase Perfumesmellingthings: "a dragon breathing fire with a stick of Wrigleys spearmint gum tucked behind his ear", Rose en Noir was quite jammy and not especially black, Rose Barbare was a modern, honeyed rose chypre (major fave of mine!), and L'Arte di Gucci was probably more animalic than I normally like but somehow it got past my radar.

My most loved roses are Brulure de Rose, Rose Kashmirie, Safran Troublant and Ecume de Rose. And maybe Miller & Bertaux Shanti Shanti. I was very surprised to get into the category, having previously dismissed it as scented drawer liners.

ChickenFreak said...

I just realized that I do like two un-dark roses - Rose Ikebana, which is all sunshiny, and CB I Hate Perfume Tea/Rose, which is neither dark or bright. I wear Rose Ikebana in the summer, but even though I love Tea/Rose, I don't actually wear it much. Odd.

Sa Majeste La Rose also didn't work for me. Or Lipstick Rose pr C&S Rose or Drole de Rose or Une Rose. I haven't tried any of the Amouages; I keep putting Lyric on my sample order and then taking it off again.

And Himself gave me a vial of Shiseido White Rose! I'm waiting for a proper day when I'm paying full attention, to try it.

Ines said...

I'm a bit late to this - but of the things I tried from your list, I agree with all (Mitsouko, Joy, Chergui, Insolence especially and Une Rose.
I still don't understand what madness prompted me to buy a bottle of Chergui when I was in Paris SL store of all the others on offer.