Old Green / New Green

It’s quite nice to see Basenotes (that would be https://basenotes.net) finally getting the makeover Grant has wanted to do for so many years. I’ve helped alpha and beta test the new site (that would be https://basenotes.com), and it is quite nice. I love the new shade of nearly fluorescent green that is replacing “old Basenotes green”. I didn’t save a copy of the updated site logo, but just on modernity of the bottle, it gets applause from me.

Here is “old green”:

The exact color varies, but it’s generally a flat, cooked-vegetable kind of green. The darkness or lightness varies a bit, but it’s never a really vibrant green.

The new green, in contrast, is shinier – more “emerald” than “old jade”.

It’s actually a bit brighter, shinier, and more day-glo than the old “Polo green”, but this may give you at least some idea of what it’s like.

Anyway, here is the deal. We are now locked out of BN while Grant transfers data to the new site. Many people on the site are quite nervous. Basenotes will likely be down for 48 hours or more.

Deep breaths, people.

We will get through this!


The new BN logo!

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More Mouillette Madness

I’ve been doing some more experimenting with “radical abundance of mouillettes”, and decided to share some interim results.

I am now awash in mouillettes – a.k.a. blotters – a.k.a. perfume smelling strips – I have them everywhere. They are of 3 kinds:

  • homemade from toilet paper cores
  • homemade from mixed media paper
  • commercial from Accessories For Fragrances

You may have read, recently, of my experiment in which I began creating cheap and surprisingly effective homemade mouillettes from noyaux de toilette.

This, while I was waiting for more commercial mouillettes to arrive from Accessories for Fragrances.

Store Link: http://www.affwebshop.com/perfume-tester-strips/

You will also recall that I linked to Basenotes discussion of creating homemade mouillettes from art paper – specifically watercolor paper.

Source: https://www.basenotes.net/threads/374251-DIY-Smelling-Strips

Note that Strathmore Watercolor Paper 140 lb was recommended.

I decided to indulge the latter fancy as well, during a trip to the art store with my dear wife.

HOWEVER, free to choose any paper of my liking, I opted for STIFFER stuff, because I cannot stand weak, floppy, soy-boy blotters, that remind me of my own manly manliness on a bad day. However, I didn’t want the blotter manliness of, let us say, the “isoquinoline crowd”, who likely smell of Viagra, whatever that may smell like, and don’t require that extreme pleasure in life known as ladies.

Thus, <royal>WE</royal> chose Strathmore Mixed Media paper, 400 Series | Best, 184 lb

Sorry that this image is just the cover of the pad, but that is probably the most useful, as that is what you shop for. The paper itself is white like the background of the next image.

Now, as you can see by my affinity for the pleasant brown of my TPMs, I’m not hung up on the color of my mouillettes, other than to note that you NEED some in white, because those are excellent for detecting the STAINING which happens with some juices. I don’t always care about that, except typically for comprehensive reviews or use on clothing.

Likewise, not all papers are BLEACHED to the extent of white paper, and may thus retain pleasant but interfering natural odors, although I have never found this theoretical problem to show up in practice with expensive papers.

Yes, I sniff random paper. Surely I don’t have to explain this to perfumistae!

Thus, feel free to pick a pleasant mouillette color of your choice.

Size is also a consideration, and there are MANY sizes available.

I chose 6 inch by 8 inch, with the intent of creating 6-inch mouillettes. Indeed, I have found that length SO perfect, that I am now grabbing these homemade art paper mouillettes in preference to both commercial and my TP specials.

I’m too lazy to upload a picture of these art paper mouillettes right now, but they are easily described.

I have found that I no longer enjoy my highly tapered mouillettes with the fat handles and thin blades. I am much more pleased by a simple, thin (tall) trapezoidal shape, having a roughly 1/2-inch (12 mm) base width, a 1/4-inch (6 mm) tip width, and a straight, long cut between them.

Imagine the following, but roughly 12 sun long, and then take that whole thing and scale it down by half, and then switch units to inches – so the ends are 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch, and the length 6 inches.

Note that I snagged this trapezoid from a rather interesting WordPress blog, doing Japanese modeling of historical objects. Fascinating stuff.


The resulting mouillettes – of which I get about 20 per sheet of media paper – are absolutely unique. If you do a web search on “trapezoidal perfume smelling strips”, you will find everything BUT a long, thin trapezoidal shape. All the commercial ones are either simple rectangular, or try to do some kind of fancy taper, but none are the obvious simplicity of a simple constant taper of a long trapezoid.

Technically, if you snip a rectangular sheet of paper into long, thin, trapezoidal mouillettes, as evenly as possible, what you will get are two right trapezoids at the ends, and isosceles trapezoids in between.

This image illustrates the difference.

The yellow strips here are roughly double-wides of the mouillettes I’m making. You can see some subtle right angles on the left-hand yellow strip and the white strip on the right – those are the right trapezoids you are forced to make on the ends, but to be honest, it’s hardly noticeable, as you can see here.

Your mind may symmetrize them automatically to isosceles (left-right symmetrical, here), and indeed this is an excellent visualization of a phenomenon in perfume, in which our minds try to neaten things up a bit, sometimes, and perceive what we expect or hope to see, rather than the reality that is close. Or, likewise, the right trapezoids may just bug the hell out of you. MISTER MONK.

This seeing or not seeing of differences that may or may not be there is the same general phenomenon as when we smell a perfume on a man, and smell it differently than when we smell the same fragrance on a woman. It’s not skin chemistry – it’s psychology of perception. Often, when you recognize the fragrance, the illusion of difference is broken, and you realize that Bulgari Black is Bulgari Black.

Anyway, back to moillettes. I’m trying to be freer with the things, but I have to admit that my old stinginess is hard to get rid of sometimes. I don’t use ANY of my mouillettes as much or as often as I should.

One benefit I am finding, however, is that I’m also stingy with throwing them out. They hang around, no pun intended, hanging over edges of flat surfaces, FOREVER. This is giving me real insight into who is doing good bases, and who is not. Certain Guerlains, and certain scents from Bath & Body Works, last forever, in excellent shape. Props to Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea, Gingham, Azzaro Wanted Girl, and damn near anything by Thierry Mugler.

One more point. Toilet paper core paper is often notoriously hard to mark with a pen, because the paper is surface treated in some fashion that prevents adhesion. A ballpoint pen can be impossible to use on that paper.

In contrast, mixed media paper in a six inch length is simply perfect. Easy to mark, easy to pick up, easy to hang over an edge without touching the surface with fragrance. They retain fragrance very well. The 184-lb weight (300 g/m2) is very sturdy but not stiff. The strips “pick up” nicely. TP moillettes pick up a bit more nicely as far as studiness, but their length is not optimal, IMO.

Thus, I continue to explore the mouillette radical abundance paradigm.

To half-quote the signature of a fellow Baesnoter, “sniffing more” is a good thing.

However you do it.

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Akigalawood® – Turning Patchouli Waste Into Fine Wine

The natural woody component
Made from perfectly natural scrap
Gave an unearthly but natural smell
And naturally got the synthetic rap

I love Akigalawood® on salad and eggs. I think I love it in WINE most of all. But once I realized that rotundone is the geosmin of woody fruits and berries, I have no faith that all these beautiful peppery red wines I love didn’t get a little “shake, shake, shake” by some “Winestein” who figured out how to turn every average wine into a contender.

I am slowly learning not to care. Humans are natural. And they leave an incredible scent trail wherever they go. Sit back and enjoy the ride.

So by now you’re curious – hopefully.

I got curious about Akigalawood® from the moment I read the name, but I didn’t get curious enough to dig for the “molecular truth” until I wore L’Homme Lacoste and read that it contained that “mysterious” component.

Akigalawood® did NOT take the perfume world by storm – but it has been steadily appearing in more and more perfumes since roughly 2015.

In doing so, Akigalawood® has been accused by perfumistas, as one might expect, of being the “next norlimbanol”. But when it was finally accused of actually BEING norlimbanol, I decided that I had to find out if it was true.

And it may actually be true, in a way, but it’s complicated. Because “akigalawood” the smelled and labeled note is not the same thing as Akigalawood® the captive.

Let me explain that.

One of my favorite accords – “guaiac wood” – which was identified by a combination of sniffing, reading, and basic logic, for numerous perfumes – turns out to actually be a combination of guaiac wood oil and norlimbanol. It might as well be called “impression of guaiac wood” or something like that.

I don’t remember who clued me in on this, or which fragrance we were discussing, but it explained why the accord smells both different from and better than pure guaiac wood “oil” (a wax at room temperature), which I had bought for both comparison and home experimentation.

Are you starting to see why they use norlimbanol?

I remember the first time I smelled somebody’s pure norlimbanol at WPC 2012. The stuff smelled “woody”, but quite far from any kind of actual “wood” I was recognizing in fragrance.

Nor did it smell – to me – like it did to Chandler Burr.

Norlimbanol is one of the most amazing scents around, a genius molecule that should be worth its weight in gold; Norlimbanol gives you, quite simply, the smell of extreme dryness, absolute desiccation, and if you smell it, you’ll understand that instantly—the molecule is, by itself, a multi-sensory Disney ride.

Chandler Burr

To me, norlimbanol smelled like some kind of wood putty. Not dry – not wet – not even like wood. It almost smelled like something one might apply to wood. An oil. A putty. A preservative.

But to the perfumer’s nose, there must have been quite a bit of possibility. I remember standing next to several entranced perfumers, sniffing the same thing on their own moillettes, and they were mesmerized – literally zoned out.

So, it may very well be that what most of us are smelling as akigalawood, the note, actually DOES contain norlimbanol – along with Akigalawood®, the Givaudan captive component.

Fair enough. But what’s in the captive that is actually for sale?

For one thing (it’s a mixture), it contains THE SPICE.

The “spice” of wood, spices, pepper, wine, patchouli, and many other things.

This is rotundone – a very powerful and important natural scent molecule that imparts a beautiful peppery note to damn near everything, including red wine, and both white and black pepper.

I also strongly suspect that this stuff is in aged, old, oxidized patchouli oil, which has one of the most magical smells of anything I own.

The Wikipedia entry barely says anything about it, but the Leffingwell entry shows how special this molecule really is.

Yes – you read that correctly. “Akigalawood” is related to “agarwood”. Presumably it is responsible for the peppery aspects of a good oud.

Fascinatingly, rotundone is what gives peppery aspects to certain wines. The paper where this was discovered in 2012 is an excellent place to find out more about rotundone in wine, but if you do a web search, you will find even more, because the “winiacs” have been all over the topic.

But for me, the kicker is that this substance is the finishing touch on both white and black pepper. I am an absolute pepper fiend – I cannot get enough of the stuff. At the border between wood and spice – whether that be freshly, coarsely ground black pepper on a salad – running some reddish oak boards through a saw – or a beautiful fragrance like Poivre Samarcande by Hermès – I am in one of my greatest magic moments with any kind of really woody pepper or peppery wood.

“A massive, beautiful oak tree once grew in front of my house, blocking our view of the Mediterranean. Eventually, it grew ill and was felled. The peppery, musky, slightly smoky scent of cut wood etched itself on my memory. The soul of the old oak, mixed with pepper, lives on in this fragrance. The name Samarcande is a homage to the city through which spice caravans once passed on their way from East to West.”

Jean-Claude Ellena

Of course, one cannot read Ellena’s description of his olfactory inspiration for Poivre Samarcande, and not see the parallel of that diseased old oak to the origin of agarwood.

Now – this is precisely the point where most people are reminded of natural processes, and the contrast of those complex aromas with (more or less) unimolecular scents – such as the one made famous by Jean-Claude Ellena, in both Poivre Samarcande and Terre d’Hermès – specifically, Iso E Super®.

Whether or not Iso E Super® is ever found naturally, consider two similar molecules that are – ambroxan and now rotundone.

“Yeah, so you’re talking about some synthetically made natural component. Those all smell very unnatural because they’re just one molecule.”

I hope that you are now seeing the downside of radical abundance. We have figured out the key odorants of great “natural smells”, and yet these natural molecules, in isolation, can smell decidedly unnatural.

Or take norlimbanol, which many regard as very synthetic, like Iso E Super®.

These are two mirror image isomers (“enantiomers”) of norlimbanol. Now compare it to ambroxan.

It helps to have a bit of organic chemistry to see this, but if you take that ambroxan molecule and make three snips of bonds in the exact right places, breaking two rings and lopping off that “CH3” (methyl group) on the right, while flipping UP the CH3 at the bottom when you snip the ring to its right, you get one of the norlimbanol isomers.

In other words, the norlimbanol molecule is deeply related to the natural product ambroxan, which powers ambergris.

It’s kinda cool, but our very natural sense of smell dictates that even the synthetic smells we like, tend to be structurally very similar to natural smells we like, for the vast majority of odorants. Nitro compounds seem to be a fun exception.

But back to Akigalawood®, the captive. This is actually a more “natural” substance than you may think.

The name “Akigalawood” was trademarked by Givaudan on May 28, 2012, and the trademark expires on that date in 2022.

Fragrantica describes it thusly:

Odor profile: A synthetic molecule reminiscent of patchouli with a hint of pepper and fine agarwood.


That odor profile turns out to be fairly complete description.

Parfumo describes it this way:

Akigalawood is a perfume note which was fractionated from patchouli oil and is used by Givaudan. Its odor is described as woody, spicy and floral.


The manufacturer, Givaudan, describes it this way:

“The mission of the Ingredients Centre of Excellence in Zurich, Switzerland is to employ enzymes to develop new fragrance ingredients, and it was within this context that the Biosciences team recently created Akigalawood®, where an enzyme known as laccase was used to transform a natural starting material into a new natural and captive perfume compound. Akigalawood® has recently been commercialised in a leading men’s fragrance for the Brazilian market. This novel material has a profile similar to that of patchouli, combined with vibrant spicy aspects of pepper and noble agarwood facets. This enzymatic process, which only requires mild processing with salt and water, is also a far more environmentally friendly way to develop new raw materials for fragrance use.”


This same page goes on to describe the manufacture.

This first success originates from a new approach that Boris and his team initiated, where enzymes are used to transform leftover residues and easily accessible natural feedstocks into valuable perfumery ingredients.” Boris states why Akigalawood® has such a successful and innovative profile: “Akigalawood®, which is now a Givaudan registered trademark, represents an exciting new addition to our perfumers’ palettes, in particular because it consists of various powerful and elegant molecules that are otherwise not accessible to the perfumers. Creating new ingredients through bioscience approaches is an excellent expansion to traditional chemistry and also has environmental benefits whenever we manage to make use of a former ‘waste’ product within our supply chain.”


Based on all this information, and combining it in the most logical fashion, some form of patchouli waste stream or less useful patchouli oil fraction is being treated with the enzyme laccase.

Searching the web on patchouli and laccase, and looking for images, we find this reaction diagram:

Following this image to its source yields a description of exactly what we are looking for – treatment of a patchouli fraction with laccase.

LINK: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2013/cy/c2cy20350b

The use of enzymes in organic synthesis and the life sciences: perspectives from the Swiss Industrial Biocatalysis Consortium (SIBC)

Hans-Peter Meyer*aEric EichhornbSteven HanloncStephan LützdMartin SchürmanneRoland Wohlgemuthf and Raffaella Coppolecchiag

aLonza AG, 3930 Visp, Switzerland. E-mail: hans-peter.meyer@lonza.com; Fax: +41 27 947 51 78; Tel: +41 27 948 51 78

bGivaudan Schweiz AG, Ueberlandstrasse 138, 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland

(plus additional authors)

Section 3.1 of the paper starts off with the Givaudan work. The reaction scheme cited above has this caption:

Fig. 1 Oxidation of an α-guaiene rich olefinic fraction with a laccase-mediator system. The olefinic fraction is treated with the Denilite® II S laccase (Novozymes) resulting in the oxidation of oil-resident olefins to the corresponding alcohols, ketones or epoxide.

Reference 11 takes us to a World Patent Application:



This is exactly what we want.

These are the desired products:

These are the preferred starting materials:

Alpha guaiene is the key starting material that leads to rotundone.

A description of the preferred patchouli fraction is provided:

Instead of using patchouli oil as a starting material one may use a light fraction of patchouli oil. By “light fraction of patchouli oil” is meant in the present context the volatile fraction obtained by distillation of patchouli oil that contains the sesquiterpenic olefins of the oil. In one embodiment the light fraction is enriched in a-guaiene and/or a-bulnesene. In another embodiment the light fraction of the patchouli oil is essentially free of patchouli alcohol (CAS 5986-55-0). By “essentially free” is meant a patchouli oil fraction comprising less than 2% patchouli alcohol, preferably less than 1% by weight based on the used fraction.

The fraction of patchouli oil essentially free of patchouli alcohol is preferably used because patchouli alcohol is of high perfumery interest when taken alone.

To be of commercial interest for the production of compounds of formula (I) as defined above the patchouli oil comprises at least 0.05 weight % (e.g. at least 0.1 to about 1 weight %) of a-guaiene and/or α-bulnesene based on the used fraction. Preferably, at least one of the two compounds is present in amounts up to about 50 weight % or even higher, e.g. the patchouli oil or a light fraction thereof comprises about 15 – 70% by weight of α-bulnesene based on the used fraction, or e.g. the patchouli oil or a light fraction thereof comprises about 15 – 50% by weight of α-guaiene based on the used fraction.

Description of starting patchouli fraction

Several examples of the preparation of the invention mixture are given – this is probably the best and most typical.

Example 3: mixture of (1R,3S,5R,8S)- / (1 S,3S,5R8S)-3,8-dimethyl-5-(prop-1-en-2-yl)-1 ,2,3,4,5,6,7,8-octahydroazulen-1 -ol and rotundone from an olefinic mixture containing a-guaiene

Composition (%w/w) of the starting olefinic mixture according to GC-MS analysis : δ- elemene (0.3), β-patchoulene (5.6), β-elemene (3), cycloseychellene (1.75), β-caryophyllene (7), α-guaiene (27), a-patchoulene (10), seychellene (14), δ-patchoulene (5.5), γ-patchoulene (0.45), α-humulene (1), aciphyllene (4), α-bulnesene (18).

A mixture of alpha-guaiene rich olefinic fraction (200 g), 1M KH2PO4/K2HPO4 pH 7.5 buffer solution (200 ml), DeniLite® II S laccase (20 g; from Novozymes), and water (1600 ml) was stirred vigorously while a slow flow of air was bubbled through the sintered glass end of a gas introduction tube, and heated at 40°C for 46 hours. Air-bubbling was stopped and NaOH (20 g, 0.5 mol) was added into the mixture that was heated to reflux under vigorous stirring and N2-bubbling for 9.5 h while the colour of the mixture turned from yellow to brown The resulting mixture was cooled to 25°, poured into H2O (750 ml), and extracted twice with MTBE (750 and 350 ml). The joined organic phases were washed twice with H2O (250 ml) and once with aqueous saturated NaCl solution (250 ml), and dried with MgSO4. Filtration and evaporation of the solvent led to 188 g of crude material. Short-path distillation led to 55.5 g (28 % yield based on 200 g olefinic mixture) of olfactorily pure material (fractions 8-15, 104-153°C/0.10 mbar, oil bath temperature 125-175°C).

GC-analysis: 7.0% caryophyllene oxide, 2.9% (1R,3S,5R ,8S)-3,8-dimethyl-5-(prop-1-en-2-yl)-1, 2,3,4,5,6, 7,8-octahydroazulen-1-ol, 3.1% (1 S,3S,5R,8S)-epimer, 4.2% β-patchoulenone, 7.2% rotundone, 0.3% α-bulnesenone, 0.5% (1R ,3S,3aS,5R)-3,8-dimethyl-5-(prop-1-en-2-yl)-1 ,2,3,3a,4,5,6,7-octahydroazulen-1-ol (compound of formula I), 0.9% (1 S,3S,3aS,5R)-3,8-dimethyl-5-(prop-1-en-2-yl)-1 ,2,3,3a,4,5,6,7-octahydroazulen-1-ol (compound of formula I).

Odour description of the mixture (fraction 8-15): woody, floral, tobacco, reminiscent of some aspects of patchouli and pepper.

Example 3 – Laccase oxidation of a light patchouli olefin fraction

The product of example 3 was then used in a fragrance composition at a rate of 60/900, giving this result.

The addition of the mixture obtained according to the procedure described in Example 3 imparts to the perfume composition, on the one hand a woody, balsamic, peppery note reminding of some cedar aspects of patchouli and of some tobacco-like aspects of agarwood and on the other hand a floral, rosy note reminding of dried leaves. Moreover, the addition of the mixture of Example 3 boosts the bergamot-coumarine accord thus enhancing the diffusion, volume and trail of the whole fragrance.

Effect of adding the invention mixture (presumably Akigalawood or similar) to a perfume

Thus, I am fairly certain that Akigalawood® is a rotundone-containing mixture of reaction products as described in both the patent and the reaction diagram of the journal article.

Akigalawood® can thus be described as “a mixture of patchouli olefins oxidized to corresponding alcohols and ketones, including rotundone”.

These are either natural products, or a spitting distance away. And as a mixture, derived from a natural mixture, Akigalawood® has all the advantages of a natural mixture, in terms of smelling “natural” due to complexity.

Thus, it is no surprise that Akigalawood® has been described as woody, peppery, and patchouli-like.

As a lover of patchouli, I’m happy that Givaudan made this stuff, and I hope this starts a trend, leading back to more “natural-smelling” fragrances.

Not so much for myself, but for my fellow perfumistae who are put off by “synthetic” smells.

A toast to Givaudan, for “taking out the trash”, and turning it into beautiful fragrance!


Errrrr, I mean – ROTUNDONE!


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Make Your Own Super-Mouillettes From Noyaux de Toilette

Just in case that evasive title doesn’t convey the full idiocy of this post, allow me to spell it out in plain old English:

Make Your Own Surprisingly Awesome Perfume Smelling Strips From Toilet Paper Cores

Yeah. You read that right. This is absolutely crazy, but it’s TRUE AF.

Now, I can’t actually take full credit for this “invention”, which must be given to a real character who I refer to by the name of Hillbilly Cologniac. Let’s just say that, next to Hillbilly Cologniac, anyone who would go by the nickname of Redneck Perfumisto is “sophisticated”. HBC, not to be confused with his grand nemesis HRC, is so “prepper” that he regards “preppers” as late to the game. Living his entire life around the premise that World War VI already happened, HBC is awash with odd residues of his version of “radical abundance”, and – yes – toilet paper cores would be one of them. It turns out that test papers for things like radioactive iodine and nerve gas are a thing as well, and – WELL – make your own test papers.

Clearly, this way of dealing with the lower end of the fall of civilization is easily adapted to the upper end.

Although – to be honest here – if you’re a normal person, you just plan ahead and buy enough of those damn perfume smelling things – what do the French call them? – ah, yes – mouillettes – which is basically pronounced “MUY-ETTES” – and you never have this problem. However, if you’re like ME, then you’re intermittently too lazy, too cheap, and/or too distracted to have enough mouillettes on hand and distributed properly in your abode.

Here are some very typical but somewhat medium-grade mouillettes.

You can buy these online at a variety of places. One place which has these and many more products you might need, is Accessories For Fragrances.

Store Link: http://www.affwebshop.com/perfume-tester-strips/

Now, if you’re a person with some measure of class, taste and means, and you run out of these things, and you don’t have time to have scent strips airlifted to your castle, then you MERELY grab some of your favorite watercolor paper from the studio and SNIP-SNIP-SNIP you have your emergency mouillettes.

Source: https://www.basenotes.net/threads/374251-DIY-Smelling-Strips

Note that Strathmore Watercolor Paper 140 lb is recommended.

I really have no excuse not to do this, either. My dear wife has watercolor paper. Either that or sketching paper. Almost the same thing. I think I may have even bought it for her. But yes – I’m too lazy for even that level of planning. I would have to FIND where she put the paper, which is undoubtedly in the most obscure place possible, deep in that cauldron of artistic mayhem known as her studio. No. That kind of a hunt is remarkably similar to “chores”.

So if you’re like me, then you are looking for scent strips, you have to “freshen up”, and a moment of borrowed vintage inspiration strikes.

But let’s back up.

One of my first experiments used coffee filters that my wife didn’t like and wanted to throw away. I needed scent strips, whereas she had been complaining about the coffee filters, and wished to get through them faster so she could try different ones. So I helped her out.

Indeed, this happened through several styles of coffee filters.

As you can see, these strips tend to be short, off-sided quasi-rectangular, and overly flimsy.

Coffee filter-derived perfume smelling strips actually work pretty well for differentiating fragrances, and they are also very annoying, for the exact same reason – they tend to evaporate quickly.

Thus, these home-made strips blow through a scent’s progression very fast, and if two fragrances are not the same, it shows up very quickly and very obviously.

Of course, if you’re not comparing two fragrances, but rather analyzing one fragrance in depth, then moving through the scent quickly may not be all that useful.

Personally, however, the real deal-breaker for me is the flimsiness. These thin strips don’t hang over an edge very well, and sniffing them is almost like waving a flag. Thus, I was “on the prowl” for something better.

When I first tried using toilet paper cores, I was immediately pleased that the resulting scent strips were thick enough to make the old problem of laying down the scent strip moot.

However, they also looked a lot like my old coffee filter scent strips. “Quadrilaterals” – if I was lucky. Most were flattened hexagons.

Nevertheless, I was QUITE pleased with the performance. Fragrances seem to last forever – and I’m NOT just talking base notes. I’m talking topnotes and heart. They literally last for days. Topnotes still disappear first, but WAY LATER. It’s basically the same thing you see with normal mouillettes, just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d – o-u-t – i-n – t-i-m-e.

My second core gave even better results.

These were starting to look like actual professional mouillettes. I got 14 of them from a single core, which I found fairly impressive. On the third core, I got 13 with a bit of waste from failure to match a terminal “down tester” to the backside of the initial “up tester”.

On later cores, going for slightly thinner testers, I got 17 and 18 testers each.

It took me almost exactly 6 minutes to cut up a core into testers – I’m sure others could do much better.

SO – now let’s get down to why you’re likely here – explicit instructions.

I could show you pictures, but that would attract riff-raff, and we can’t have that, so to preserve some level of sophistication here, y’all will have to follow along with my written word.

  • Core in hand, using scissors, make a single cut along the axis of the cylinder, JUST SHORT OF HALFWAY. You want to leave between 5% and 10% uncut in the middle.
  • Make a second cut, parallel to this one, the width of a tester HANDLE away from it.
  • Make a third cut, the width of a tester TIP, away from the second cut.
  • Make a fourth cut, the width of a tester HANDLE, away from the third cut.
  • Repeat this pattern until you run out of core.
  • Flip the core, find a cut “handle” on the cut end
  • Cut a tester TIP to almost meet that handle, but go JUST SHORT OF HALFWAY.
  • Repeat that pattern, cutting tips and handles to match the other end.
  • I find it easiest to cut tips to match handles – the handles on the second end just work out.
  • When finished, you will have a “furry” toilet paper core. Be amazed! Corigami!
  • Make diagonal snips to complete your testers, which will fall like rain.
  • If your testers did not perfectly match, you may have some extra. Save or discard.

That’s it. You have your “emergency” testers.

And just in case you thought I must be completely crazy to do this….

It’s even worse. There are MORE LIKE ME.

Be afraid!

Don’t Throw Away Empty Toilet Rolls! Here Are 11 Amazing Ways To Use Them!

17 3 1.png?resize=648,365 - Don't Throw Away Empty Toilet Rolls! Here Are 11 Amazing Ways To Use Them!

Stop what you’re doing! Put down that empty toilet roll and step away from the bin.

Posted in Fragance | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment


Tonight’s fragrance is Spicebomb.

But before that, a bit of an explanation.

I think it’s clear that I disappeared from fragrance for a while. I think I’m still gone from it, in some respects. But despite that, I felt a need to do something with fragrance tonight. So here I am.

I started wearing fragrance again some time after I recovered (as much as that can happen) from COVID-19. Returning to daily fragrance wear happened rather slowly. I had to learn to wear fragrance again – to tolerate it – just like I had to learn to breathe again.

I was going to tell you about that part, but I found that I could not do it without a lot of bitterness and anger, so please forgive me if I just skip it for now.

Fragrance is part of returning to normal for me. And that’s something I want to do. So I’m just going to do that.

I think this is the first time I’ve worn Spicebomb this year – definitely recently. I think about the smell of Spicebomb all the time, and sometimes it’s confusing whether I’m remembering the fragrance, or remembering remembering the fragrance.

That’s a sign of familiarity. I’m familiar with Spicebomb. It’s like an old friend. And wearing Spicebomb is, for me, like saying very loudly “FALL IS HERE!”

I’m not sure if I originally got a gift set and deo, or a gift set and aftershave, but I now have four items – fragrance, shampoo/body wash, aftershave balm, and deo stick. I usually try to wear them all, when I’m “up for Spicebomb“.

The deo is reliable, strong, consistent with the EDT, and lasts. The shampoo is good and THICK, and the fragrance lingers. The aftershave balm is too thin and watery for me – it smells great and lasts, but the runny white milk of it doesn’t seem very “Spicebomb“, so it’s a bit of a tactile fail. Stiffen that shit up, amigos!

The EDT, of course, is brilliant as far as I’m concerned.

One of the things I absolutely love about Spicebomb is a note, or maybe a set of notes, that many people don’t smell. I would describe them as “girly, candy, and plastic”, and in many ways they are essential homage to Flowerbomb. Yes, the spicy and typically masculine parts of Spicebomb are very enjoyable, but the synthetic candy-cane swipe from the modern fruity floral feminines that Basenoters love to hate – THAT is what gives Spicebomb a kind of modern attitude that never gets old.

Some of my urge to wear Spicebomb recently was likely the result of this unlikely fragrance.

I am not kidding you – the “Bag-a-Bug 2” reformulation of Spectracide’s Japanese beetle lure is one of the best unisex clove rose perfumes out there. It’s abstract, niche, serious, and surprisingly addictive.

Once you read the list of ingredients – which is a lot more revealing than most fragrances on the market – it’s clear WHY this stuff is so good. In addition to a tiny amount of surprisingly recognizable beetle pheromone, which adds a very discernible and cigar-like touch of “bag full of Japanese beetles having bug sex” skank to the lure, the remaining ingredients are essentially cloves and roses.

Phenethyl propionate9.43%
Japanese Beetle Pheromone0.02%

The rose is coming in here as a fruity ester of 2-phenylethanol, which alcohol is, for me, the most typifying component of rose. Throw in the ever-so-essential funky citric floral of geraniol, and the uber-clove of eugenol, and this very fake flower isn’t just attractive to little metallic green beetles – it’s enjoyable to picky perfumistos who have a deep desire to get back into fragrance.

I have tried some of my stronger rose fragrances post-COVID, and they’ve been a bit of a turn-off. But this wear of Spicebomb has been inspiring. It’s not exactly rose, and it’s not exactly cloves, and it’s not exactly what I was smelling, coming from the Japanese beetle trap.

But it’s exactly what I needed.

Have a great week, people. This one is looking up already!

Rose & Clove Potpourri: http://driedflowercraft.co.uk/2012/10/winter-potpourri-recipe-dried-rose-petals-cloves/

Posted in Art, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, News and politics, Science | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

L’Étrier d’Hermès: My Stirrupy Sweet Love Affair With Galop d’Hermès

In the process of explaining how I ended up buying what is probably one of the most well-known yet less commonly owned fragrances in my collection, it is my hope to do all of the following:

(1) Give readers a half-way decent review of the fragrance – Galop d’Hermès.

(2) Explain the allure of THE BOTTLE in this instance, to those who cannot understand “bottle buys”

(3) Demystify the house of Hermès, just a bit, for those who are “new to the brand”

(4) Shed some limited sunlight on the topics of rose and leather scents in general

(5) Encourage men having psychological difficulty “crossing the aisle” to wear marketed feminine fragrances, by providing some brutally honest, non-PC talk about the benefits, the risks, the joys, and the laughs.

Because YES – fragrances do have gender – it says so right on the bottle – and yes – it makes a difference – and yes – sometimes wearing fragrances that members of THE TARGET GENDER actually LIKE THEMSELVES is one of the dirtiest tricks in the little black book of mmm-mmm-mmm.

And with an explanation of THAT, we will get started.

I have a policy about buying fragrances when I’m shopping with my wife. If my WIFE wants me to buy a particular fragrance – and we are talking about the same wife that thinks I have WAY too many fragrances – then I don’t ask questions – I simply BUY IT.

Fragrances that YOU like, and that your “significant other” likes, and that your “significant other” likes on you – these are too few and far between. Just buy the damn stuff, and don’t ask questions.

I once had the experience of watching a college-aged woman – stunningly beautiful, mind you – nearly begging her muscle-bound boyfriend, while fragrance-shopping for him in Sephora, to let her buy him Dior Homme. It was cringeworthy to the point of pain to watch this guy simply NOT taking the hint.

One needs to bear in mind that Dior Homme has always been considered by some to be a bit “girly” because of a slightly cosmetic iris accord that many likened to lipstick. Many women love to wear Dior Homme themselves. The somewhat unisex nature of Dior Homme is not a big deal now, but it was back then. There were a few guys who simply couldn’t go there. However, most guys could, and the fragrance was quite popular. My wife likes it, too, by the way, although on ME, not on HER.

What I have found is that there are basically three kinds of fragrances my wife likes on me:

(1) man-gendered fragrances that smell good to her (there are not that many)

(2) man-gendered fragrances that make me smell fresh and clean (there are many)

(3) women’s fragrances that smell good to her and that she thinks are “almost for men” or “should have been for men” (surprisingly many)

It’s interesting that my wife sometimes thinks masculines “should have been” feminine and vice versa. My suspicion is that these are what we perfumistae would otherwise describe to each other as “unisex”, but my wife simply doesn’t have this concept in her highly gendered and somewhat authoritarian fragrance worldview.

That’s OK – I simply transform fragrances from her worldview to mine and vice versa.

So – where were we? Ah, yes. Galop d’ Hermès.

Back when Galop d’Hermès was introduced, I very quickly figured out that the bottle was supposed to be a stirrup, because “horsey stuff” is a thing at the House of Redneck. My wife doesn’t have any Hermès stirrups, but the ones she does have, that go with her non-Hermès French saddle, really look a lot like them.

While I’m not a rider, or at least not much of one, I’m an enabler of my wife’s Euro-style riding hobby. I built her a kind of “hobby horse” to store and display her saddle and other gear, and I routinely accompany her to the “maison équestre” to help her pick things out. I bought her an Hermès saddle pad, and helped her find the right saddle, steering her to a French model not only for sinister Francophilic reasons, but because I know her taste better than she does, and I act towards it when she wanders too far into “trying things” or “not caring” in ways that I know will ultimately make her unhappy.

I’m her “guardian motorcycle rider“. I understand these things, but from a slightly different perspective.

Anyway, Hermès stirrups are sleek, modern, metallic, and I love them. While I would not go so far as to describe myself as a stirrup fetishist, I would not argue with the description of Hermès stirrups as sexy, in an Hermès way. My fellow Hermèsophiles know exactly what I’m saying.

Hermès design and aesthetics are centered around an idea which seems extra-snobbish to some, but is actually rather profound to those of us who think life is too short to enjoy all the beauty that “___” has left for us to behold. One might describe it as “everyday is actually very special – let Hermès help you luxurify your daily life in that way”. Now you may not think that a 1000-euro selfie stick is the way to do that, but SOMEBODY does – right?

Sorry, just kidding. Without looking at the catalog, I can tell you that there is no such thing. There is an Hermès drone for taking selfies, but it’s not “real Hermès” – it’s some Canadian company scamming on the name.

So no. Just no.

However, Hermès has a beautiful man’s ring that looks every bit like some little hex nut that affixes your bathroom plumbing to the bottom of a toilet tank, and I want it badly.

But again, just kidding about the toilet stuff. That particular nut was superseded by hand-tightened plastic a LONG time ago.

THAT RING is a combination of the winky side of Hermès, along with their very wonderful way of taking inspiration from all sorts of things and “keeping it fresh”. Their Toolbox fashion jewelry series is actually quite nice, very subversive for a “handy” guy like me, and while my octagonal silver ring from Tiffany & Co. is somewhat similar, it is unwearable while using tools, so the stainless steel Hermès ring is still very tempting.

No – the real Hermès is daily luxury, daily art, daily lifestyle, and an insistence that there is a smooth continuum of these things which none of us has to abandon – ever. Ralph Lauren is very much like that, and a whole lot cheaper at the mass market end, so obviously I’m a huge fan. But when I really want to get my design-in-daily-life jones on, and pay a little extra for cutting-edge edge, Hermès is the stuff.

So Hermès stirrups. BECAUSE Hermès.

Now, my belaboring of all this stuff about the Hermès aesthetic has more of a point than merely explaining my love for the stirrupy bottle, or making jokes about selfie sticks. If you don’t believe ME that Galop d’Hermès is decidedly “Hermès” in that “omnipresent art and utilitarian luxury” way, then you can believe perfumer Christine Nagel, in an interview HERE:


“I’m seduced by Hermès’ femininity,” Nagel continues to explain, “it’s very interesting because it is bold, elegant, and based on tactile strength. You really need to go to an Hermès store to see it but, if you wear a piece of Hermès, it gives you an allure, a certain look. The Hermès woman has elegance and panache, but also this feeling of well-being because the textures are comfortable, well chosen. They are clothes that you wear every day; as Pierre-Alexis Dumas says, “we support women in their daily lives. We don’t do eveningwear, we make clothes to wear day-to-day.” It’s different – and these are all values that I try to place in my perfumes.”

-perfumer Christine Nagel, via Olivia Singer in AnOther Magazine

The point profoundly impacts what kind of fragrance we’re talking about here, and almost certainly why I’m wearing it. Galop d’Hermès doesn’t smell “little black dress”, and it doesn’t smell “evening gown”. It smells like a lady or gentleman out riding, shopping, driving, or dining elegantly but casually the day before the night.

Rose is an interesting floral component. It used to “be” more masculine than it is now, just like iris used to “be” more feminine than it is now. Thus, STYLISTIC TIME helps to gender rose just a bit, adding onto whatever component algebra adds up to “masculine” or “feminine” in the sniffer’s mind.

Perfume component gender is historically dynamic – it’s culturally fluid – and I would argue that it’s that way because to a large extent it’s storybook – it’s associative and it’s social. Some might even say unreal. IMO, marketing gender is based upon some set of real, deep, cultural if not anthropological gender preferences at the component level, but it’s also quite clear that working artistic component “gender” is largely “historically and socially associative” BEYOND those deeper preferences.

In the case of Galop d’Hermès, viewed from our own perfume culture at larger scale, the style is modern, and that brings the rose slightly toward the feminine, while the primary LEATHER component works toward a masculine character. The fruity component (quince) works with the rose to lean feminine, but there is a definite smoky character, from whatever source it comes from, which brings things back toward masculinity.

Note, of course, that there are counterexamples to ALL of these fluffy generalizations – c’est le parfum.

Overall, Galop d’Hermès ends up in what I would call “guy-wearable feminine territory”. Mostly women are going to want this one, but guys who like rose fragrances can easily get away with it, and not smell like they’re wearing an obviously “feminine-marketed” fragrance.

Galop d’Hermès smells more fancy than it does female. Among us perfumistae, it’s unisex.

In the same way that Etro Manrose is a guy-leaning unisex rose that is perfectly wearable by women, Galop d’Hermès is a femme-leaning unisex rose that is perfectly wearable by men.

Thus, when my wife first smelled Galop d’Hermès, she had no idea if it was a designated masculine or feminine, and I wasn’t really telling her. Neither was the Hermès associate, who – in order to sell an Hermès feminine to a man – mentioned that old canard about perfume smelling differently on men’s and women’s skin. In the case of Galop d’Hermès, men’s skin allegedly brings out the leather, while women’s skin brings out the rose.

Technically, this difference is true, but the reason is purely psychological. Allow me to explain how this works.

Men’s and women’s skins are basically the same. Although men and women do tend to apply perfumes differently, as long as they are applied on skin of the same level of cleanliness, oiliness, and enzymatic activity, the fragrances will experience roughly the same environments. Oily, dry, wet, cool, hot, dirty and clean skin all behave somewhat differently, but oily man skin and oily woman skin of the same oiliness, temperature, humidity, and biological activity are pretty much identical.

However, SMELL is incredibly psychological. Just TELLING people something about a fragrance CHANGES what they will sense by the time their BRAIN figures it out. Indeed, just telling somebody that a fragrance smells LIKE something will change the way they smell it.

And GENDER of the WEARER tells people something. A very BIG something. Thus, when people smell a fragrance ON a person, they will SMELL IT DIFFERENTLY, depending on the gender of the wearer, as they LOOK FOR ASSOCIATIONS.

Once people recognize a scent on themselves or others, it is possible to recognize the fragrance, independent of who is wearing it. But even then, it will smell differently to people, KNOWING the gender of the wearer, and there is NOTHING that can be done to change this, absent a determined mental EFFORT to null out gender associations, which is – quite frankly – extremely difficult.

One of the reasons that I love Galop d’Hermès is the fact that – ON me and TO me – it smells more like a leathery, fruity, sweet and smoky rose fragrance, than it smells like any kind of leather fragrance.

It smells a bit like a Manrose flanker, or an Hermès analog of Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme – another guy-wearable leathery rose fragrance.

I don’t particularly like leather fragrances, other than a few that have strong citrus and nutmeg aspects, which I particularly enjoy. Coach Leatherware No. 01 and the old Tiffany For Men are my idea of what a real leather fragrance for men should smell like. Hermès Bel Ami would be a STRONG masculine leather. For women, any version of Cuir Fill In The Blank will do.

Everything else is something else to my nose. For instance, the wonderful Hermès Kelly Calèche strikes me as a leathery floral, not a floral leather. Maybe to some that’s nonsense, but to me, it says that Kelly Calèche is primarily a floral scent – NOT a leather fragrance. Despite what everybody else – even Hermès – seems to think.

Translating this to Galop d’Hermès means that – TO ME – the fragrance is mostly a rose scent, and leather is a modifier.

Now – something very interesting about Galop d’Hermès, which I credit to the Hermès salesperson. There REALLY IS a balance to the leather and the rose, and that balance is well within the range of human fragrance psychology. I have proven this to myself by smelling Galop d’Hermès as EITHER a rose fragrance OR a leather fragrance, mere seconds apart. Concentrating on one or the other, I can repeatedly smell it primarily as either a rose fragrance (which is somewhat “female-side unisex”) or as a leather fragrance (which is more on the masculine side of unisex).

This is an ability which I highly recommend cultivating in oneself. It’s a bit like the knowledge that it’s perfectly OK to move around a statue in a museum and examine it from different perspectives.

Because I am much more of a rose person than a leather person, my dominant perception of Galop d’Hermès is that it is a rose fragrance. Nevertheless, my thinking is that “leather people” are going to love this one, because they will very likely experience it as a floral leather.

An excellent comparison fragrance for Galop d’Hermès is Jean-Claude Ellena’s Hermèssence Rose Ikebana, which I believe was used by Christine Nagel as a kind of “house reference” in making sure that Galop d’Hermès stayed “on message” as an exemplary Hermès fragrance, and perhaps even as a nod to Jean-Claude.

Hermès alleges (at least, in my blurb that came with the fragrance) that the primary pairing of components in Rose Ikebana is rose and rhubarb, but my wife is having none of THAT idea. She has an unerring nose for tea, and the moment she smelled Rose Ikebana, she called out “matcha” – Japanese powdered green tea. Hermès does admit elsewhere to some kind of tea component in this one, I believe. Certainly, IMO, the rhubarb note here is far less obvious than the same note in Hermès Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate, also by Christine Nagel. But beyond this point of contention, we know that good Jean-Claude LOVED to put his tea notes into everything, BUT that he also felt the whole industry was conspiring against him in this endeavor, mostly through a kind of shortsightedness about how much people LOVE tea fragrances done right. So forgive me if I half-suspect that our boy JCE pulled a fast one, sandbagging the prominence of his tea notes in Rose Ikebana for the ad copy. If not that, then perhaps it was decided that an identified tea note was simply TOO stereotypical for the marketing, and thus the marketing concentrated on a less “Asia stereotypical” note to go along with rose.

No matter what, consider this all background for the idea that Galop d’Hermès is much more obviously feminine than Rose Ikebana, despite that fact that Galop d’Hermès sports a leather jacket and Rose Ikebana serves tea.

Suede. Whatever. I don’t get picky about the difference, personally, although I admit that there IS a difference, and that it’s useful as a descriptor.

Galop is a more noticeable and nose-catching scent than most of Jean-Claude’s works. A side-by-side comparison with Rose Ikebana quickly demonstrates the relatively extroverted nature of Galop in comparison.

However I should also note the extreme prevalence among my fellow Basenotes comrades of a kind of anosmia to Galop. This has been mentioned many times by Basenoters and other perfumistae – so much so, that it’s clearly NOT people’s imaginations. I have encountered it myself.

In my experience, the way to “get over” this anosmia is to wear a really good dousing of Galop at least once – maybe three sprays (or more) to the body, under the clothes, getting some ON the clothes, and one spray on each hand. Before this experience is over, you’ll be smelling just how pervasive, radiant, and omnipresent Galop actually is.

I will attempt to explain why this works.

Galop demonstrates a certain property that was first showed to me by Basenoter DULLAH years ago for Creed Windsor (later to be known as Royal Mayfair) – the preservation of the rose note by applying to clothing instead of skin. Presumably skin has some kind of temperature, enzymatic, or absorbency property which shifts the balance of rose fragrances away from components that make rose notes prominent and easily identifiable. By simply applying some of the fragrance to clothing, a long-lasting and readily identifiable rose note is obtained.

Secondly, applying fragrances to the back of the hands or the wrists is an old trick for overcoming olfactory fatigue, as it provides a condition of maximally changing concentrations AT the wearer’s nose. Strong airborne concentrations of the components will come and go, thereby overcoming the olfactory fatigue of certain components which we experience, and which can be almost indistinguishable from complete anosmia for them.

Lastly, it seems true to me that many people are hampered in first encountering any fragrance, by imposing a kind of expectation upon its performance – that it “should” only take a certain number of sprays to smell it strongly and richly. What I say to that is remove all doubt. Spray PLENTY of it, and you will smell it PLENTY GOOD.

So combine ENOUGH SPRAYS – including ON CLOTHING and AWAY FROM THE NOSE, and you will be guaranteed to learn what a fragrance actually smells like.

I have used this same technique very successfully to “learn to smell” many individual fragrances, including Bleu de Chanel EDT.

Once one CAN smell Galop, one sees that it is not really a “clubbing” scent, in the LOUD and ATTENTION-GRABBING and ALL-CAPS WAY. But in the same way that Christine Nagel’s Eau Intense Vetiver flanker of Terre d’Hermès has more oomph than the original, Galop d’Hermès is a much more striking scent than Rose Ikebana. Galop is, as others have noted, a return to certain “old Hermès” olfactory values, from Jean-Claude’s life-long love affair with transparency, while still remembering much of Ellena’s legacy and influence.

One of the joys of Galop, in that respect, is that it’s not just a mixture of rose and leather. It’s not just a floral – and a leathery floral – it’s also a fruity floral. In fact, I find ALL of the following aspects present:

  • rose
  • leather
  • fruity
  • sweet
  • sour
  • spicy
  • woody
  • waxy

The fruity aspect of Galop is restrained, so it never seems like a “typical” fruity floral. The sweet aspect is likewise very light, so it never seems even remotely cotton-candyish or juvenile. The sour aspect merely modifies the fruitiness at a level comparable to the sweetness, giving the fruity aspect a mature complexity. Ditto for the spiciness and the woodiness, in terms of improving the rose note.

The waxiness – less of a note than a kind of omnipresence – is reminiscent of a certain aspect of Slumberhouse Zahd. Yes – THAT was a weird one. The waxy redness of Zahd is not as strong in Galop, but it’s there.

There is an opening floral freshness which is very enjoyable. While the freshness loses its obviousness, it remains as a kind of brightness, keeping the rose from ever becoming dark or dirty.

There is one point about Galop d’Hermès, which I find somewhat humorous, in terms of identifiable aroma chemicals. I could have sworn that I was smelling Givenchy Play Intense in my bedroom and bathroom, and could not understand where it was coming from, until I realized that I was picking up something in the base of Galop, now permeating our house due to my heavy wear of the stuff lately. Play Intense is one I have not owned in years, having swapped it for the regular Givenchy Play in a kind of “the grass is always greener on the other side” move. I often wish that I still had my bottle of Play Intense.

The note I detected from Play Intense is something which may or may not be “coffee wood” or “amyris wood”. Whatever it is, that note shows up, with perfect aroma chemical clarity, in several other fragrances, including Paco Rabanne 1 Million and Donald Trump Empire.

So yes, the idea that Galop d’Hermès and Donald Trump Empire have a very distinctive but subtle note in common is a fun little factoid.

Another fragrance worth closer comparison is the previously mentioned Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme. This is an outstanding yet somewhat unconventional (IMO) berry rose fragrance with patchouli and woods. It is STRONG STUFF – a real demonstration of the genius of the new head of Gucci, Alessandro Michele, who corralled perfumer Alberto Morillas into getting WAY out of the box, and demonstrating HIS genius.

And, of course, this fragrance is EXTREMELY unlike anything by Hermès, particularly Hermès in the Ellena phase. Nevertheless, as a kind of man-friendly femme rose, GGAPF is worth a closer look.

Where Gucci Guilty Absolute Pour Femme (hereafter GGAPF) relies on a combination of excessive diesel-like petrol leather and woody ambers to defeminize the very significant berry and rose, Galop uses a much cleaner and sleeker leather, which only has to work against a fraction of the fruitiness found in GGAPF. The Gucci is also much louder in the base, drying down to a very strong woody scent, nearly comparable in intensity to the beginnings of Galop.

Just like me, my wife finds it difficult if not impossible to call either one of this pair better than the other. Both of these scents are lovable in their own way, and can easily reside in the same collection without any feeling of duplication. And yet they are both “I’m a guy and I want to really scratch my rose itch today” options. They FEEL similar, even though they SMELL very different.

Perhaps it’s all just the amazing versatility of rose.

And thus we are brought, via a blatantly STOLEN header image, looking for “rose + Galop”, to its source – a wonderful interview with Christine Nagel, in an Australian web magazine called “Gritty Pretty” which I have never heard of until now.


Just to make sure you can see that link:

HERE IT IS: https://grittypretty.com/fragrance/new-hermes-galop-dhermes/

I urge you to read this great interview. In it, one hears many of the same “talking points” from other interviews with Christine Nagel, about Hermès in general, and Galop in particular, but there is much more information here, about Nagel’s personal relationship with Hermès, and about what she was thinking with Galop.

Major kudos to author Eleanor Pendleton (who incidentally has two Jasmine awards!) for an awesome interview!


Finally, as promised, I want to deal very straightforwardly with the whole issue of men wearing “marketed feminines”, and to some extent, the reverse – women wearing men’s fragrances.

Women wearing men’s fragrances is quite common, yet you don’t really hear much about it, except on perfume boards. This is actually the secret of the whole thing – don’t talk about it, don’t worry about it. It’s not that women are NOT AT ALL self-conscious about wearing men’s fragrances – they are simply LESS self-conscious about it. They smell something they like, and that they think suits them, they wear it. However, if you are an astute student of psychology, and observe women talking about wearing men’s fragrances, you will sense that they are NOT totally unconcerned with what others will think about it. Au contraire, they are generally fashion-fluent on whether said fragrance will be a good thing or not to their life audience. They simply realize that there is a whole lot more “getting away with it” than men believe, and act quite casually within that knowledge. THEY KNOW THEIR LIMITS.

So that is my advice. Know your limits, and have fun within them.

In my opinion, if wearing a fragrance makes you feel nervous, self-conscious, or uncomfortable in any way, then you should NOT be wearing it. What’s the point? Fragrance should make you feel good! Preferably, in my opinion, it should make a lot of other people feel good, too, although there are many wonderful people who are absolutely unconcerned with what others think about their fragrance choices or levels of wear. Whatever! It’s your life – make choices and LIVE WITH THE RESULT. Change your choices if you don’t like the result.

Personally, I LOVE people who stink up elevators HUGELY with their perfume, and I LOVE people who gasp and cough in mock death when the people of the first type get off the elevator. BRING ME DRAMA! BRING ME VARIETY! Vive la différence!

Have I encouraged you yet? No? Let’s go for some more.

I have friends who think perfume absolutely must be worn at homeopathic levels in all public places, and I have friends who put on EXTRA perfume for funerals because the deceased loved their fragrance. I have to laugh at the latter, because the STIFFS are actually us still-living idiots who worry about not offending each other, when the DEAD GUY is proven to be the mensch by the lady who honors him by wearing her typically excessive fragrance for somebody who tolerated it gladly, and now can’t even smell it – or so WE ASSUME.

Yeah, think about THAT ONE.

So now that I’ve elbowed you HARD with some paradoxical reality, consider the reality of wearing fragrances that – statistically – the other gender LIKES ENOUGH to want to smell all the time. In some ways, it’s not a bad idea. This is why I love to drag my wife along when fragrance shopping, and USE HER to help pick out fragrances. Either that, or I bring samples home and test them on her. That way she never has to know if it’s “pour homme” or “pour femme” until she has already rendered some judgment about whether she would like to smell it on me.

Now, the fact that I may be wearing a “pour femme” that my wife likes on me, does NOT mean I will never offend anybody else with such a fragrance. The fact is, there are people who will be offended by ANY FRAGRANCE that you wear.

However, more likely than offense, are humorous mistakes.

In a demonstration of just how associative and gender-ludicrous fragrance actually is, I was once seated at a lunch table at work, wearing a labeled pour homme (Dior Eau Sauvage Parfum), when one of my friends at our table – who apparently assumed that the new fragrance he was smelling could not possibly be coming from any of us, but simply had to be coming from one of the ladies – began turning his head and scouting for said hot mama. For the remainder of the meal he kept looking around for some mythical babe from down in Marketing, when it was just this poker-faced dude at the table, marveling at the fact that his MEN’S fragrance did indeed smell like it COULD WELL BE coming from a C-level looker in a tight skirt, “doing lunch in the café” as they sometimes did.

Indeed, unisex fave TDC Sel de Vétiver, which my wife thinks smells like men’s hair tonic (she dislikes it quite a bit), had a similar effect in the elevator, when two women each assumed it was THE OTHER wearing the awesome new fragrance. However, in the interest of fairness, I have to mention that SdV was also – TWICE – mistaken for fresh paint when worn to meetings at work. C’est la niche! And I have to admit that fresh paint IS unisex, so they got that much right.

The most negative reaction I ever got from ANY fragrance was at a rest stop in familiar hillbilly country, when two good-old-boys took some kind of objection to allegedly unisex Hermès Un Jardin Après la Mousson. Although it did not occur to me at the time, these two may have been looking for some kind of action other than fisticuffs, since (to be completely blunt about it) the psychology of closeted homosexuality in that part of the country is complicated, but the locations (such as rest stops, lover’s lanes, and bars) are not. Nevertheless, there is still a greater likelihood, IMO, that they simply thought my fragrance was a bit too fancy, feminine, or unpleasant. Either way, I knew better than to pay them any mind.

Ain’t no foolin’ a boy who the land took a likin’ to! *wink*

Perhaps the most interesting and direct response I ever got to wearing a labeled feminine, was when I helped a young lady who was driving alone, and who stopped to get directions from me, out in front of my place. She could not suppress a delighted chuckle when she suddenly realized that I was wearing Chanel No. 5 (Eau Première, to be exact). I smiled and laughed with her, and that was it. We just continued the conversation, although perhaps a bit more relaxed, if anything.

And then there was that middle-aged woman who I caught wearing Terre d’Hermès in her summer dress at an outdoor art exhibit. Why can’t TdH smell that great on ME? Why can’t I forget this woman, or that moment – craning my neck just a bit, and then wandering around that area, trying to pick up more sillage? If only she had worn something more forgettable, I would not be pestered with these memories.

So far, no explicit reactions from anybody about Galop d’Hermès, although I HAVE caught a few people “leaning in”.

Women, to be more precise.

To wrap up this review, I take you all back to BASENOTES, with a list of links where Galop d’Hermès is being discussed.

I can leave you in no better hands than those of my fellow perfumistae.

Au revoir!


Galop Directory Entry: http://www.basenotes.net/ID26150112.html

Reviews: http://www.basenotes.net/fragrancereviews/fragrance/26150112

New Frag: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/424604-NEW-Galop-d-Hermes

BN Article; http://www.basenotes.net/perfumenews/3337-nagels-first-major-hermes-scent-galop-dhermes-is-available-now

Kotori Tests: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/438798-30-Minutes-at-the-Hermes-Boutique-Chicago

Hermès Leather Poll: http://www.basenotes.net/threads/470620-Which-is-currently-the-best-Hermes-leather-perfume

Posted in Art, Fashion, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, Hobbies | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


I view the health of public discourse by an interesting metric.  Can I make a good-natured joke about Donald Trump in the fragrance world – one with deep knowing humor on many levels to all sides – and only minimally offend people?  We almost found out on Basenotes, when an old Trump thread was bumped, and a few joking posts were made.  As I will be retiring soon (officially) as a mod, I decided to celebrate with a little pre-retirement edginess.  I served one up, and remik got it!  His response (some people just get improv) left me with a softball that I could not swing at right away, due to a trip to the art store, before the thread was closed.  SAD!

Well, that’s why we have blogs.  Or pre-presidential Twitter accounts.  Here you go.  Plus a nod to my old world relatives, from a time that remembered how to be smart and funny and think differently but get along anyway.  Well, more or less.  And to somebody who my dearly departed mother loved, who carried an echo of that blessed and cursed era.  kovfefe.

Does Anyone like Donald Trump’s “Success”?


Thank goodness for THIS LINK!


Time Travel!  Highly recommended! *wink*

Enjoy your day, everybody!


Posted in Art, Blogging, Fashion, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, History, Internet, News and politics, Science, Science Fiction, Travel | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Last Call 2017


I wanted to run around the city alone at night wearing a dark blue jacket, mumbling in French, looking pensive and conflicted. Thankfully, the Terre d’Hermès Eau Très Fraïche flanker pulled me back from the edge. But it was rough sledding for a while there. I even thought about selling my collection. I only needed one fragrance.

Madness. Utter madness.

when Bleu de Chanel almost became my signature scent

Dear Readers,

Please be warned of some (OK – a lot of) “Tom Ford” linguistic moments in this post.  To go further, I think it must be stressed that Bleu de Chanel, like all fragrances, acquires a unique and distinctive character when worn by any particular individual – myself included.  Some of us just add a little skank.  Some of us add a lot.  This is a feature, not a bug.  It is simply one of the many beauties of perfume.

May you all have a wonderfully happy and fragrant 2018.


I felt something welling up inside me the other day – a kind of fragrant guilt – that I ultimately acted upon.  It was like a last-minute Christmas gift – after Christmas – or one final change to a story.  It caused me to rush out to the mall and sniff dozens of fragrances, searching for some answer to a question I didn’t understand.

What was it?  I still don’t fully understand it – but I do know this – it’s beautiful.

Ultimately, I think it was the idea that, even though I had turned in my Best Fragrance of 2017 nomination to Basenotes – the one that I absolutely love and that most are going to disagree with – there was something missing – some overlooked wonder of fragrance – that I simply had to go out and find.

So here you go, you FUCKERS.  You GLORIOUS BASTERDS who infected me with this wonderful love for FRAGRANCE – something so ultimately STUPID that it’s beautiful and amazing and GRRRRRR – why did you do this to me?  It’s ALL YOUR FAULT!!!

Yes.  You assholes – through your enabling love of fragrance – made me run out and look for a bottle with a FUCKING HAT to come to peace with the universe.

And every day I thank GOD I live in this universe, and FUCK YOU, I LOVE YOU ALL.

So here goes.



Yeah.  This is what I was looking for.  I needed to smell this thing.  Oh, I’d smelled it before, one too few times, but that was before YOU PEOPLE made me give it another chance.  And now I love tuberose like – well – let’s skip that part – but CURSES.

Anyway, it took me a while to get there, and the rest of the story IS the story.


So I walk into a store that may or may not have been VON MAUR and OMG the woman walking out who laughed just a bit at me – pulling on my black Ralph Lauren gloves that don’t match my worn brown Aldo shoes that don’t match my badly fitting Levis that don’t match my olive-and-black Izod parka but OH YEAH I was wearing my dark dark Bleu-de-Chanel dark blue knit Oscar de la Renta pullover zip-up sweater-top that makes all the women talk to me about fragrance and when it made her snicker I was like OH YEAH BABY it made you laugh and this is gonna be a GOOD DAY in




The mayor of Perfume City, Redneck Perfumisto, is a bastard, but he gives me a wide berth and plenty of respect because he had an affair with my aunt, Eau Première, and he knows I know.  This is how things are done here.  So when I run around the city at night looking pensive and conflicted, you can be sure there is a hell of a story behind it, but maybe that’s for another time.

Anyway, he sent me out on a job – another dirty job – just like all the other dirty jobs.  So underneath my dark blue jacket, I put on my Oscar de la Renta pullover that smells like the last woman, if you know what I mean, and out I went, into the cold night.

Von Maur.  I love it.  The woman smiled at me as I opened the door for her, and in I went.

I needed to get some information about Twilly d’Hermès, but I got waylaid by a beautiful African woman who I’m sure is working for somebody mysterious but I never ask.  I told her I needed to talk to some people privately, and she just smiled and left me alone to drift into the crowd.  She’s a Muslim and I respect her by not coming on too strong, but she’s very beautiful and I love it when she’s there.


Gucci Guilty Absolute.  I should have known it would be him first.  He’s the new guy, but there is something about him.  He’s very retro, and right now, retro is very hip.  He’s Old Tom Ford, if you know what I mean.  Brown leather but clean, tough, smells like a cross between shopping at Guerlain and fixing your car.  But he’s not an old fart like Fahrenheit.  He’s very disruptive.  Not a citizen of Perfume City yet, but the mayor may grant him.

Now I should say something.  I play very cool about my ties to the mayor.  I could be an asshole and tell people I have a word with the mayor, but I don’t.  It’s not my style.  I hate corruption, and just the fact that the mayor is the one who finally grants citizenship here is as much corruption as I can stand, but that’s the way Perfume City has always been, so I just shut up and accept it.  Some things never change.

Anyway, Absolute very nearly could have been Fragrance of the Year.  He’s that cool.  But he’s not a citizen, so his chances were not that great.  Still, he’s on the mayor’s good side.  That counts around here.


Next, I struck up a chat with D&G the one EDP.  His older brother EDT is a long-time resident of Perfume City.  That old boy doesn’t get out much, but the mayor’s wife had her eye on him badly, years ago, and the rumor is that she talked the mayor into a ménage à trois on several nights.  Hilarious.  EDP didn’t really know anything new, but he’s a good guy, just like EDT.  Gave him a pat on the back and moved on.


Next, I ran into John Varvatos Artisan Blu.  Fucking beach bum, but he’s very cool.  He wears this blue fishnet top that looks absolutely ridiculous and absolutely cool.  As soon as I smelled him, I knew he was connected to “Rodrigo”, a.k.a. “Flower Boss”, who goes way back in town politics.  Blu’s old man Artisan was one of Rodrigo’s boys, and he got in HUGE trouble with the Powers That Be for passing off synthetics as naturals.  A friend of the mayor’s who knows a lot of dirty secrets ratted him out and that was that.  The mayor was wise.  Artisan almost never gets contracts any more.  But that’s OK.  He’s a beach bum, too, and lives for summer.  Good guy, but watch out.  I’ll bet Blu is a chip off that old block.  Don’t trust him – I’m sure when the heat is on, he’ll turn on you like a sunburn.


Now THIS is when I run into some redneck guy who is every bit the country bumpkin as the mayor – and I mean wearing his hunting clothes into Von Maur – absolutely hilarious.  So I get talking to him, and he tells me that Armani Mania is leaving town for good, and getting on a train to Disco.  So if I want to get a word in with him, do it now.  See what I said?  It’s my fucking Oscar de la Renta pull-over – kiss the damn thing – people just drop the hot tips like I’m a priest and it’s Judgment Day.


Anyway, Mania is OK – kinda fresh – but no – nothing for me.  Code Colonia – now that guy is a new natural.  He has way better stuff.  THAT guy has a future in Perfume City, and I will bet he’s a citizen by summer.

But I get talking to this redneck – awesome guy – and he tells me that he and Mania go back.  Way back – before all this beautiful Code crap.  One time, they were in this café, and the waitress just walks up and runs her nose up Mania’s neck like she wants to jump him right there.  YEAH, BABY.   And THAT, my friends, is Perfume City.  Oh, we may bitch about this or that, but that right there is why we never leave.

So while I’m laughing at this story, Mania, the redneck and the African beauty head off to do some deal, and I’m back on the job.  And THAT is when my pullover does IT’S job and this beautiful little kinda Latina comes up and starts giving me the scoop on ALL these fuckers.


For starters, Azzaro Wanted.  I had written this guy off earlier, but something had been bugging me – I thought he might have good stuff.  So right then I start talking him up again – trying not to laugh at this ridiculous revolver he carries in his waistband – and it hit me.  Gabrielle.  He knows Gabrielle.  I KNEW there was something about him.

Maybe they worked on that pear farm that nobody knows about and Brielle never talks about.  Maybe he was dealing her orange blossom.  I don’t know, but he knows my cousin – I’m sure of it.  There is something there – I’m positive.  But there is NO WAY I’m going to tell the mayor about it.

At this point I have to digress. I will never forgive the mayor for inviting Gabrielle to come to Perfume City and then not having the guts to honor her with Fragrance of the Year.  He wanted to do it, but politics – fucking politics – got in the way, and the bastard was afraid to do it.  So who does he name?  Creed Viking.


God, I just wanted to scream.  I have a source in Basenotes University who is connected to all these people, and he told me all about it – how the mayor invited her and then got scared that every female faculty member in BNU was opposed.  What the fuck – why does he care what these people think?  But no – I dug for the truth behind that one, and it’s actually worse.  It’s Creed Viking.  The mayor has some deal with people about Viking.  He doesn’t even KNOW Viking – has never even MET him – has no idea what he even SMELLS like – but the fix was totally in.

Why?  Citizenship.  The mayor wants him in town.  Big money will be changing hands, but NOT until it passes through certain Russian hands.  That’s why the mayor refuses to meet Viking publicly, but is planning to name him “due to public demand”.  Fucker.  He KNOWS Gabrielle, loves her sister L’Eau like life itself, and yet he stabs Brielle in the back.Chanel-Gabrielle-1280x720px-1

Sorry.  I’m very passionate about my cousin.  She’s a good girl.  Very misunderstood.  She’s new to the city and has very few friends, but she has a future.  I want to look out for her, but I have to be careful.  You can’t seem weak in this city.  She has to make it on her own.  Just like I did.

So back to Wanted.  This lady says she loves Wanted.  We start exchanging information, and BAM – I know this woman has the good stuff.  She’s a bit innocent – she doesn’t know the technical things, but she knows people – and that’s what counts.  Wanted is her absolute favorite, and it’s everything on my list, too.  And you know what?  Just like Gabrielle.  I’m sure the male faculty hates Wanted just like the women hate Gabrielle.

Wanted is gonna get citizenship.  Mark my words.  It’s too late to even get a nomination this year, but he’s getting in.  And not on influence, either.  He has the same stuff as Brielle.  He’s gonna make it in Perfume City.

Anyway, this lady takes me around, and I meet a bunch of people.  It was awesome.  This is what I love to do.

Brand Page 823x459px.indd

Chrome and Chrome PureChrome I know, but Chrome Pure is new in the city, and he has a real future.  Kinda funny how much alike and yet how different they are.   They’re both innocents to me.  Pure seems pure as hell, but he’s not nearly as transparent as Chrome.  Have you ever met people like that?  Very private, with their secrets, but their secrets are pure stuff that just makes a wise guy want to laugh.  Not dark secrets.  Stuff that might as well be right out there in the open.  Fresh,  Clean.  We need more people like that in Perfume City.  He’s got a future here.


And then I ran into Polo and Polo Red Extreme.  Hilarious.  Polo is a frigging institution around here, he’s so old school.  Hasn’t changed a bit.  Still smokes, for God’s sake.  One of the founders.  Did I ever tell you that I met Polo’s old man Carlos through the mayor?  I’m not above bragging about that one.  Carlos is a saint.  I’ll just say it right here.  Anything he’s connected to is good.  Take it to the bank.


Now, Polo Red is a buddy of mine, not the least reason being that he’s another me, but not as good at it.  Everybody needs a backup.  Well, Red’s my backup.  He’s in with the mayor, but not like me.  So any friend of Red is a friend of mine, and Extreme is no exception.


Is Red Extreme gonna get citizenship?  Not sure.  Not really sure he wants it.  Good guy.  But there’s a lot of places to live out there – and lots of places that want him.  He’ll find something.  He doesn’t have to live where Red does.  Enough Reds for one town.


Got introduced to that new “man in black” – Coach For Men.  Smooth, smooth, smooth.  There is something totally unique about him.  He has a beautiful hairstyle – I’m like – what the hell – that’s just sharp.   Totally stylin’.

He’s in.  Won’t happen right away, but you don’t look like that, act like that, smell like that, and don’t get in.


And Coach just made that girl smile, too.  A smile on a beautiful girl is something you take with you to the next life.  You know what I’m sayin’?  Perfume City is great because we make it happen, and it doesn’t happen without fragrances like this guy Coach.


Saw an old buddy with a solid rep – Valentino Uomo.  Introduced me to his brother Intense.  Just passing through.  He ain’t stickin’ around.  My new lady friend loves his sister Donna.  That totally figures.  Donna is simply amazing.  The mayor thinks Donna is absolutely HOT, and did his usual wheedle and whine job to try to talk his wife into letting her move in, but his wife wants nothing to do with her.  Donna is just opulent.  I said OPULENT.  The mayor married class, but not that kind of class – the showy kind.  Make your bed and live in it, you bastard.  Serves you right.  Pine over her luscious until you ride off in that pine box with your bottle of Terre d’Hermès, boss-man.

And right then – RIGHT then – who passes by?  Gabrielle.  Oh, yes – there is a God.


I winked at Brielle, and smelled her wonderful bouquet, but said nothing.  Walked right by her.  No, you damn mayor.  She’s gonna make it on her own, and you’re gonna respect her like you should have when you had the chance.  Speaking of which.


Chance and her sisters were right there, too, so we struck up a lively conversation.  It was good.  Old times.  I knew Chance back in the day, when she was working for a Russian defector.  Don’t ask.  But Chance was awesome back then, and mad props.

So I met Chance’s little half-sister Eau Vive, who has this same je ne sais quoi as L’Eau and Brielle.  It’s beautiful.  These ladies are friggin’ muses.  I could listen to them talk all day and all night.


And yes.  Eau Vive is a long-time resident, thanks to the mayor’s son’s girlfriend.  Yeah, I admit – it’s pretty corrupt, but still – she totally deserved to get in.  Totally.  Although she’s a bit of a wild card.  Some story about the music industry – fashion groupies – stories about deejays and all-night events – you know what I’m sayin’.  Young people having fun, but you don’t ask too many questions.

With that, it was time to move on.  But I’d made a new friend, and that’s what counts.  Me and Oscar de la Renta, God bless him.   MMMMMWWWWAAAAAHHH!


ILLUSTRATION : Universal Studios - Los Angeles - 14/04/2014

So I’m standing in front of Abercrombie & Fitch, and I don’t know whether to curse America for what they did to an absolute institution of traditional gentlemen’s sports, which we French would have known how to preserve, or walk in and slink up to their AMAZING perfume counter, thereby offering some kind of forgiveness.

I forgave.  And not just for fragrance.  A&F hired one of the mayor’s friends when she was down and needed a job.  She was one of the good ones.  They clearly know quality.


OK.  So there are some other reasons, that aren’t so noble.  One of the mayor’s friends – one who’s a bit more like me – had some interesting stories about some person named Ellwood, who’s some new face at Abercrombie & Fitch.  I had promised the mayor that I would check this person out, because the mayor had promised his friend that he would get the goods on Ellwood and see if he – she – whatever – was worth an offer.

Now – I have to say this right here – I have nothing against fragrances of ambiguous gender.  Ambiguity is not for me, because I’m openly pour homme, but that doesn’t mean I disrespect those who have decided gender isn’t for them.  Maybe it’s even rather cool that unisex and pour mermaid are a thing.  But I don’t play games with the politics of this stuff.  If you smell one way and you’re calling yourself some other, live with it.  Gender may just be a “thing”, but it’s still a thing, and it’s not going away.  People make mistakes.  Deal with it.  Feminine.  Masculine.  Whatever.  People have impressions.  They’re not insults.


Anyway, I walk in and I see this trio of whatever and oh fuck they look sharp.  The mayor told me all about this shit.  He told me about this one woman who was so fucking beautiful, that she cut her hair, dressed like a logger, and still every guy and every girl wanted her just the way she was.  She just wanted people to be real, but she was cursed with such beauty that people wanted to love her beauty but not her.  Tragic beauty.  Yeah.  And Perfume City is filled with stories like that.

Ellwood was the one that stuck out like a sore thumb.  Very natural, but not hippie.  Hippie – THAT was Hempstead.  I’m calling Hempstead a dude, but others are free to think whatever they want.  And then there’s Ryder, and that one’s a definite WTF.  Somewhere between Miley Cyrus and Billy Idol on the silver-haired boygirl scale.

I wish I had Beavis and Butthead with me to snicker at “Elle-wood”, because the jokers at A&F deserve a wee bit of credit for coming up with that nom de ‘fume.  Still, she’s a star.  Allegedly bergamot meets musk – well, I’m saying musk won big.  There’s a touch of smoke and spice to her – like she’s been up to something – but still very clean.

TOO clean.  BAM.  This is what the mayor pays me to do.  Spot this stuff.

I can see why the mayor’s American friend thinks she’s hot, but no – I need MORE if I’m taking this one back to the mayor.  Keep a chick like that away from a shower for a week and she’s gonna need to call her therapist.  She’s PLAYING guy.  No way the mayor gives her citizenship.  When the mayor met his wife, he judged her by the age of her climbing helmet.  It was more beat-up and old-school than his.  THAT’S how you play with the boys in Perfume City.  The Mayor is gonna hear an earful about his chick.  POSER.  Totally.  He doesn’t need this bullshit.  Leave her for his buddy.  Win-win.  That’s how you get ahead in Perfume City.


Now Hempstead – THAT’s what we’re talking about.  I almost made an offer right there.  I told you I was tight with the mayor.  Under a certain number – no problem.  Sign ’em up right there.  But I figured hey – be careful.  I’ve been burned before.

Hempstead is remarkably classy for some hipster druggie bullshit hippie motherfucker bicycle-ass fixie throw that goddamn paper and it lands right in front of the fucking Wall Street motherfucker another day in the city but it’s all magic and too much winning means even the dude on the bicycle in front of the Starbucks who got a raise and he’s gonna get some kick-ass threads from OH FUCK ABERCOMBIE & FITCH that used to actually be something and maybe it still is and I LOVE YOU AMERICA even though sometimes I wish I was back in France.

Definitely some good shit.  But who thought up that name?  Laughing my ass off.  Hempstead don’t give a damn.  So what if he looks like some Woodstock chick from the back?  Whatever.  DEAL.



Ryder?  I hate Ryder like I hate Sauvage in between loving SauvageRyder is like Sauvage with some Guerlain girly-glitter-face-perfume thrown in.  You know this chick is never, ever, in a million years going to be faithful and you can’t help yourself – just GET IN TROUBLE and GET OVER IT.  Yeah.  I could fall in love with this shit – on and off – and so could the mayor.  But one Sauvage is enough trouble for that old cuss.  Not sure he needs another.  Gonna have to think really hard about recommending this one.  We are talking one loud risky bitch.  Hempstead is sitting there in full STFU mode and Ellwood is starting to pout and DAMN Ryder – it’s gotta be all about you, doesn’t it?  I told you – Miley Friggin’ Cyrus.

Right there I decided – sign all three up for some paid samples and move on.  Too much drama.  The mayor is gonna have to sort this shit out on his own.


So I turn around, and BOOM – right there – three OudsEssence, Amour, and Nuit.  Now the mayor isn’t so keen on ouds, but he always wants them checked out, so just doing my job.  And these ones are good.

Essence is the classic old man oud – woody, strong, scratchy and real.  Frankly, I’ve smelled it a thousand times and I’m not into it, but if it’s your bag, Oud Essence is a good one.  I can tell you right now, this one doesn’t get in if it’s not some kind of deal with the others, too, but hey – that is WAY too often how it works around here.

Amour – diagnosis:  girly.  But if oudy girls are your thing, go for it.  Sometimes the mayor is into that stuff, so gotta make a full report.  The contrast of girly fruit and lipstick and oud is just mmmwwwaaahhh.  You know what I mean?

Nuit – same thing.  French noir meets Eastern oud.  A little less girly, a little more boy.  Definitely more interesting than Essence.  So two out of three’s not bad.

I wished I could have signed them up for samples, but it wasn’t possible.  But thanks for the memories.  Good stuff, and very unexpected at Abercrombie & Fitch.


Before signing the papers, I ran into two more old boys – Batch No. 46 and Endeavor.  They were pretty damn interesting, but I have to admit – guys like that are a dime a dozen in Perfume City.  Being good’s no crime, but being great and in demand is the only way you make citizenship.  So – hey – have a nice day, and hope you make wardrobe, but it won’t be with my guy.



Not sure if you’ve ever been to Bath and Body Works, but it’s basically a discotheque of body products with a bit of perfume thrown in.  It’s a fun place.  If some chick ain’t shoving your fat ass out of the way with her fine one, you ain’t on the dance floor.

Not every guy there looks like he’s having fun, but it’s their loss, buddy, because BBW is one place where I absolutely love to get my girl on.

The mayor explained it this way.  A guy in BBW is like a girl at the range.  You’re in the minority, but that’s not what’s important.  What’s important is that you’re either having fun or you’re not.  Don’t be one of the chumps not having fun.  Have a good time and GET INTO IT.

So trust me, I was digging through that bargain bin with the best of the chicks.  75% off!  Holy mother of coconut milk.  Where’s my basket?  Do I have time to grab a basket, or are the prize items gonna get picked out of here before I’m back with one?  THESE are the important things.


The mayor’s Basenotes buddy atrac – as in 8-TRACK – yeah, try telling a difference with THAT one – he told the mayor there was some niche BBW frag called Botanical Blend Batch No. 24 in a very nice cubish bottle going for 75% off, and sure as hell, I get the job of finding it.  AND YES!!!  THERE IT IS!!!  No cap but – no, no, no – I know this game.  You GRAB that sucker and stake a claim before it’s G – O – N – E – gone.  Into the basket it goes.

NOW, get that basket up in front so nobody grabs something out from it without my seeing, and then reposition for a deep dive and BACK FOR THE CAP.  Six or eight inches down – BAM – floating most unnaturally in a sea of somewhat sensually rounded plastic bottles (oh, man, does BBW know their stuff) and there it is – that quaintly labeled squarish metal cap, and voila – I have  a complete bottle.  At that very moment, I found another one, WITH the cap, but decided to leave it for some other lucky guy.  Gotta spread the love, baby.

There was a tester and papers on top of the display, somewhat out of reach.  Hmmm.  Only accessible from the FRONT.  So I scrooched my ass around the display, almost out of the store, in such a way that they wouldn’t think I was shoplifting, and sprayed a test paper.

Interesting.  And then I got to thinking.



So I pull this old dude Botanotes up onto the rocks of Sireen Island, somewhere in Merica, as beautiful laughing women cast nets into the ocean all around us.

“Bless you, young man!  I should have perished in this foamy grave, had your charity not found me!  May the goddess Botanica herself shower you with her favors!”

“No problem, old man.  You look familiar.  Do I know you?”

“I fought with Odysseusm, Aramis, and Garrigue in the Colognial Wars of old.  We returned from battle to find ourselves forgotten and shunned – assumed to have died on the battlefields of yore.  Treated like all veterans – cast aside as a sad reminder of the needlessness and inevitability of conflict, we had nothing in this world to call our own.  Seeking a new home, we were brought here, to the unknown lands and seas of Flyoveria.”

“You have come by the hand of fate to the right place, old man.  Come – let me take you to my master, Perfumisto, who will give you proper and due honor.”

“You speak my language now, and I am humbled.  If this is true, I will give thanks right here.  I would sacrifice my own head that my shipmates be rescued.”

“They are saved already, my friend.  You may keep your head, and your très cool helmet which I found as well.  But we must go quickly, as we take up precious shore that these women need to make themselves beautiful.”

“Who are these women?  They seem to have come from every part of the world!”

“You must keep the secret of our sirens, old man.  The world thinks this place a most terrible region – endlessly hot and cold – backwards and filled with strife.  They rumour us populated with ugly and Fierce women, all of one type, fattened on corn – their dirty men ill-employed and engorged with beer.  In truth, the women you see before you are the treasure of this island, collected from the four corners of the world and made beautiful by our local Wexnerian wizards.  Their menfolk you sometimes see among them – warriors, athletes and scholars.  We choose not to disabuse distant minds of their errors, thus keeping our island safe from a wicked clan of wandering troublemakers known as Cultural Marxists.”

“Your secrets are safe with me, good rescuer of neo-classics!”



I mean, seriously – you can’t even see a re-screening of 300 for 8 bucks any more!



With the rescued veteran in tow, we made for the island of Sephora, some distance away.  We reckoned wrongly that the young maiden Twilly of Hermès, for whom I searched, would be there.  Alas, the local Sephorian priestess of my long acquaintance informed me that Twilly had never even set foot on the island.

Le horreur!

With time thus on our hands, as we awaited a message from Queen Perfumisto, I began seeking out the locals for more information on their situation.  Under pretense of shopping for perfume, we queried the islanders in all ways that we could.


First, we chanced upon a rather manly type in strange, shiny black armor.  Noir Anthracite was his name.  His smell was intense and immediately pleasing – the kind favored by the teachers and scholars of my birth home, Basenotesia.  And yet there was something off-putting about him, that I could not put my finger on.  I turned to the old man I had rescued, and asked his opinion.

“All things must peak.  There is ebb and flow.  This great warrior may be the very peak of his kind.”  The old man then offered a salute, throwing a fist to his breastplate in as a show of respect.


Moving on, we encountered a recent immigrant to Sephora – his symbol was the Greek I sidewise.  His smell was nondescript, yet somehow intriguing and disturbing.  I asked the priestess what she thought of him.  She tried to say good things, but it was clear that she favored my kind over his.  I feared that she knew but hid from me various ill omens of weak fragrances from her higher oracles, and this gave me a sense of foreboding.

Again, I turned to the old man, who had seen much.  I begged him say what he thought.

“I have traveled the seas to fight for others my entire life.  That I have lived has served no purpose except to speak of battles in which better men died.  But I have seen other things, too – the kindness of men – the beauty of women.  It is what I didn’t do, and didn’t understand, that has always been more important to the gods.”

The old man held his tongue, but I urged him to say more.

“I know nothing more with certainty, but I feel the future lies in this man and his type, and not merely ourselves.  I have dreamed of a great wave from afar, such as I have seen towering over the sea in my most distant voyages.  I feel the same dread and excitement now.  We must learn to find beauty in different smells – in smaller intricacies and more subtle arts of perfume.  The future is not in any one answer, but in all of them together, creating new answers again and again.  By this very nature, the new beauties must often be small and strange, that eternity contain its own sum.”


I nodded at the wisdom of this traveled old man, who by his life showed the strength of youth, but now the gentleness of age.  Recalling my own cousin Gabrielle and her small and quiet beauty, which impressed certain philosophers but not the majority of Basenotesians, I felt a kind of relief, knowing that this man spoke of things which may already have begun to pass.

I bade the traveler Y farewell, knowing that we would meet again, one day.


We met one who called himself La Nuit de L’Homme L’Intense, who I recognized immediately.  His smell was nearly identical to the fabled youthful scent of his father, La Nuit de L’Homme, who I had indeed known in his youth, when he was much beloved by the young  men of Perfumopolis.  My friend, the old soldier, swore that this was proof that the gods of perfume, who he claimed lived in a distant land called Gaul, had heard and answered the prayers of those young men, who had loved the older fragrance, only to have it taken from them by a terrible monster called Ifra.  I scoffed at such legends, but was indeed quite astounded at the resemblance to fragrance lost, thinking that perhaps this new fragrance was even stronger and more vigorous than La Nuit in his youth.


I met an old enemy – Gucci Made to Measure – and offered my hand in friendship, our battles long over, as my allies in the Niche League had won the Gucci Fragrance Wars, after many years of air-fisted rule by Queen Frida of Giannini.  Sometimes we only smell the wisdom of our enemies in their defeat, and thus I was inclined to bend a nostril toward a valiant fighter who armored in the style of an old ally, Gucci by Gucci Pour Homme.  Beyond this, I had been given a vision which led me to believe that this particular fragrance had special meaning.  Thus, I swore to give him entrance to Perfumopolis should the chance ever arise.


I met a group of others – some I had known from Perfumopolis, others who were strangers to me.  Mr. Burberry EDT introduced me to Mr. Burberry EDP.  For the life of me, I could not tell them apart.  As an opponent of automatic chain migration except in special cases such as my own, I felt no need to tell EDT, who was a citizen of Perfumopolis, that citizenship papers for EDP were on sale at Marshall’s for a mere 35 perfumos.


The irony of this was not lost upon me, for next I met a beachcomber relative of my own – Allure Homme Sport Eau Extreme – who had himself by chain migration become a rather non-productive citizen of Perfumopolis.  I contented myself with the pronouncement of a prior king that the world needed more poets, despite the fact that I knew “poets” was code for shiftless artistes and communist mentors.  Still, my half-brother looked well, and he assured me that he was a better man, now that he had his EDP from Reformulation State University.  That I failed to inform him of the equivalence of his new degree to his old EDTC, can be forgiven as half-brotherly kindness, or brotherly half-kindness – take your pick.  The priestess assured me in any case that my dear half-brother was still much beloved by the women-folk of Sephora, who pretended to be impressed by his brain and not his muscular, tonka-encrusted torso.


We ran into a traveler named Code Colonia, who I at once recognized from prior journeys to a distant land called Phonmauer.   His presence was the same simple pleasure as always, smelling of bergamot, lavandin, and tonka.  I bid him adieu, and looked forward to making his acquaintance yet again in warmer climes.


Lastly, we ran into a good friend, Eau Sauvage Parfum.  He apparently has an almost identical twin, born mere seconds after him in perfume industry time, and thus I very literally could not tell which one we had met, other than the one at hand obviously costing more.  But whatever the case, this one seemed like the same one I had always known.


Suddenly, we were awakened from our various perfumed musings by the cries of an annoying messenger called Apple Watch, who read aloud some nattering nabobism of negativity from Queen Perfumisto.  We silenced the messenger, bid the priestess of Sephora good evening, and made haste for the shoreline, thus to depart from Sephora for Perfumopolis.

So ends this historical recounting, which we hope may survive to some future time.



Skunked by my usual sources at Sephora, which was LVMHingly light on fragrances from Hermès, I decided I had to rescue my job with the mayor by making one last stop in search of Twilly d’Hermès – in a place called Saks Fifth Avenue.


Voila!  There she was.  Wearing her beautiful, idiotic, beautiful hat, hanging out with 24 Faubourg, Kelly Calèche, and all the other classic Hermès ladies.  A brief introduction, two sprays, two sniffs, and…..


Normally I can’t stand tuberose, which is like some kind of Antichrist to one running pensive and conflicted through the Flyover Parisian night – more so should one be wearing dark blue discounted Oscar de la Renta.  But this tuberose – it was FRESH and PEPPERY and had a kind of utterly unstoppable smile that could not fail to put a smile on one’s face.

In the stupid yet brilliant innocence of this fragrance – a kind of French Girl version of Quiksilver’s unapologetically juvenile aquatic Australian sandalwood – I had found the girls will be girls equivalent of boys will be boys.

Christine Nagel – that BAD BAD GIRL – had gone around the world to find pepper that can never be accused of being pepper, and snuck it into tuberose like an infusion through the ground itself.  The best of ginger and the best wrongness of the wrong kind of sandalwood – both with almost the exact same spicy frequency in multiple dimensions – exploding out through the IDIOCY of my hated girly-girl tuberose.

In even further irony, this work of Nagel felt very Ellena – like one of his best Hermèssence scents in both its style and its internal trimeric simplicity.  Thus, Christine Nagel had kept the Hermès promise, both to Hermès itself, and to her lovably oudophobic and intermittently cardomommunist mentor.

Not knowing how the mayor’s wife would react to this strong, secretly spicy, naturally narcotic floral, which she was bound to hate, I double-sprayed a test paper and threw it in my BBW bag.


I half-suspected Madame Perfumisto would take one whiff, gag, say “NO WAY”, and throw the damn thing back at her useless husband, but I also knew that the mayor, my idiot boss, would love it, and maybe even wrap it and save it in the same aluminum foil that he uses for his tinfoil hat reheated pizza when he listens to reads Alex Jones Drudge Report in the basement dining room.

And maybe listening to country music, writing about perfume, and hearing a song that swears everything’s going to be alright.

But no matter what, I had done my job, earned my keep, and upheld the reputation of the Chanel family name.  Perhaps not in the same ways as my good cousins, L’Eau, Gabrielle, and Eau Vive, but then again, we can’t all be saints.

So as I ran out into the night, holding the door open for three young but stylish guys who don’t even know who the hell the immortal Oscar de la Renta is, I said a prayer of thanks that, of all the places in the world I could have ended up running around in the night, poignantly pensive and beautifully conflicted, I ended up in Perfume City.


Posted in Fashion, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, History, News and politics, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Gentle Correction to Online Cosmetic Batch Code Checkers for Modern Guerlain Products


Image of a Guerlain batch code (2J01) stolen shamelessly from our dear friend Monsieur Guerlain, to whose wonderful site we insist you go.

It is with great sadness that we report to the PERFUME LITERATURE otherwise known as the fragrance community otherwise known as the worldwide brotherhood and sisterhood of perfumistae otherwise known as (*shudders*) “fragcomm” that NONE of the three (3) online batch code checkers are functioning properly for Guerlain.

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Guerlain.  As in GUERLAIN.

Stated differently, we are apparently getting FAKE NEWS from all three weather channels for the age of our Guerlain fragrances.


Those channels are:



And the latest entrant, who also has a wonderful Pinterest board!


Here is a very specific example of the problem.

I have a bottle of L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme EdT which I bought in 2008 from a store in America.

Now, I would rather not say to whom this fine establishment belongs, because it will become clear momentarily that they were selling old stock from France as a money-making venture, rather than binning the stuff or sending it to discounters.

Old stock, as in PRE-VINTAGE.  Yes.  The good stuff.  I mean – why the heck would anybody use an online batch code checker anyway?  To see if stuff was fresh?


Anyway, it turns out that ALL THREE batch code checkers say that the batch code of 4H06 corresponds to August 2014.

This is simply NOT TRUE.

Apart from the obvious fallacy that a fragrance bought in 2008 could not have been made in 2014, two things.

First, I have used my entire collection of Guerlain fragrances against the batch code checkers, and have thereby discerned that they are FAILING for every fragrance with a 4-character batch code prior to 2008.  Thus, the only sensible date for the exemplary fragrance in question is August 2004.

Closer inspection of my collection shows that their algorithms are correctly interpreting the YEAR character and the MONTH character, but they are not adhering to the fact that the two sets of month characters in use by Guerlain ALTERNATE by decade, thus turning what would be a 10-year cycle into a (maximum) 20-year cycle.

In fact, that entire cycle appears due to repeat this January (2018).

Thus, it would be nice if the online batch code checkers could fix things fairly soon.

Secondly, for those who are unfamiliar with the Guerlain batch code systems (plural), they were nicely elucidated by Andre Moreau of Raiders of the Lost Scent in the following post:

Additionally, Monsieur Guerlain….


discusses the modern codes (the ones we are talking about) very clearly in the following post, which I highly recommend:


According to both Andre Moreau and Monsieur Guerlain, the current month table using N-Z was begun in 2008, and this is fully confirmed by my own collection of bottles, which only make sense if dates prior to 2008 are using A-M for the month table.

Thus, because we are now at the last month of a 10-year cycle on the FIRST DIGIT using the current letter set for the month (M-Z) on the SECOND LETTER, for Guerlain to achieve maximum utility from their own batch code scheme, they will need to switch to the A-M month table beginning in January.

The batch code checkers are already confusing dates from 2002-2007 with dates from 2008-2017 needlessly.  If they don’t fix this bug, they will be confusing 2008-2017 with future dates, going forward.

Here is the proper algorithm:

4-character code of form NLNN (N = number, L = letter)

First digit = last digit of year

Letter = month in either set A-M excluding I or N-Z excluding O

Find latest POSSIBLE date (meaning not in the future) assuming that months alternate as follows:

2002-2007 A-M

2008-2017 N-Z

2018-2027 A-M

Now, having said all of the above, this blog post must be brought to the attention of these online batch checkers, which in the case of CheckFresh is supposed to be via Facebook.

WE are not on the dreaded FACEBOOK for REASONS that we won’t get into here, as a courtesy to our beloved Monsieur Guerlain, who IS in fact on Facebook and must not be allowed to worry about such things, since said REASONS don’t apply to HIM.

Thus, we ask that anybody so motivated please let CheckFresh on Facebook know that they have a WEE BUG in the Guerlain module which could use some fixing.  If so desired, you may direct them to this post.

WE will attempt to contact the others, although others are welcome to do so as well.

NOW – you may be asking yourself this question:  WHY on earth do we CARE about this silly thing?  This tempest in a perfume bottle?  This Y2K among Y2Ks?




Posted in Computers, Fashion, Fragance, Hobbies, Internet | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ten Pins – Crashing the Macy*s VIP Sale


Ten Pins area, The Needles of South Dakota.  Yes, this has nothing to do with fragrance.

Having not had my usual fill of fragrant activities lately, it was with great happiness that I took up my wife’s offer to go to Macy*s for their “VIP Sale”.  This, despite neither being a VIP, nor knowing any – at least outside of that world-wide insane asylum known as “the fragrance community”.

Although I did once get a “like” on Twitter, from a very minor celebrity, who is known to, and generally despised by, most other celebrities.

But don’t worry.  If you have money, Macy*s will let you into their VIP sale!

Knowing that I would get at least a few minutes in the men’s fragrance section, I was even more fortunate to learn that we would be going to one particular Macy*s where one is “forced” to walk through the women’s fragrances, too.  Oh, the pain.

When it was over, I walked back to the car, having smelled 10 – scratch that – 11 blotters, and having liked every one of them.  This, I did not expect.  Thus, while I would rather not have to bother with yet another trip report, I felt it was some kind of duty to fragrance itself to NOT let this moment pass into non-VIP fragrance obscurity, forever lost.

Thus, this post.



I think I own every member of the Dior Homme clan except this one, which I resist buying on general principle.  It’s like the Navajo rug thing – there must be an imperfection in my Dior Homme sub-collection, lest the completeness offend Gurzeus, Smellah, The Great Fragrance, or whatever you want to call THE LORD.

Still, that does not prevent me from liking Dior Homme Cologne.  I just refuse to buy it.  And indeed, upon sniffing once again, I was pleasantly surprised by just how awesome this fragrance actually is.  The resemblance to the latest Dior Homme Sport 2017 was not lost on me, and owning that one, I have a ready-made non-religious excuse for not owning Dior Homme Cologne as well.  Likewise, DHC smalls a bit like Prada’s Luna Rossa Eau Sport, which I have on my “potential unnecessary buy” list, thus excusing me from the need to purchase for that reason as well.

But let’s be honest here.  I was poised to keep smelling every damn thing on the counter, so buying the very first item I smelled was immediately classified as “what the hell are you thinkin’, boy?” stuff.  AS IF.  Time to “move on”, as it were.



This one was very high on my test list, and now it is somewhere near the bottom of my “buy” list.  I feel like it has some virtues, but none of them were the ones I had hoped for.

The packaging, it turns out, is not nearly as impressive in real life, as it is in photos.  It just felt very underwhelming.  The color isn’t that vivid.  The little nick in the edge seems puny and understated.  The whole effect – much less deserving of a pedestal in the art gallery.  And the smell?  Overall, just very generic and cookie-cutter.

And yet, there is something about the fragrance that intrigues.  There is a sharp, piercing, and sustained note – something like the wolf-whistle of Sauvage toned down about 50 decibels – which is very pleasant.  It’s smooth, clear, and perfectly suited to daily wear.  Once you actually perceive the good part, the fragrance has legs.  It reminds me of Creed Silver Mountain Water in many ways.  That’s not a bad one at all, and easily recommended.

SO – I will keep thinking about YSL Y.  If it grows on my any more, it may get bought.



Were I to craft one of those Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez two-word classifications of this scent, it would be “not Obsession“.  Oh, I will admit that the night-and-day difference is not 100%.  Smelling the blotter four hours later, there is a hint of the oriental greatness of Obsession For Men in the basenotes of Obsessed For Men.  However, it would be utterly misleading to even suggest that this Kenneth Cole-like fragrance is anything close to the old CK classic.  No.  Don’t even think about it.  Approach this fragrance as something completely different, if you don’t want to be disappointed.

That said, Obsessed For Men just isn’t that bad.  My immediate reaction was one of positive enjoyment – a kind of generic fragrance déjà vu that had me flipping uselessly through my scent memory for whatever in the hell this smells like.  I’m sure it’s some aromachemical blast from the past, but whatever it is, it’s quite fine.  Obsessed For Men is basically a lightly citrus, lightly marine, lightly floral melange with a surprisingly non-chemical feel compared to most recent CK fragrances.  Not quite as androgynous as similar CK fragrances, it’s still an easy wear for the ladies.

SO – if you buy this fragrance, you won’t be getting any rolled eyes here.  I may even hit you up for a spray.  But unless there is some kind of olfactory breakthrough, where I just start “getting” this scent at five-star levels of enjoyment, I seriously doubt I will buy this one in a store that is not called “Marshall’s”.  Good, but not great.



This – on the other hand – is a true embarrassment. One of the real standouts of the afternoon adventure turned out to be a Hugo Boss fragrance.  And not just any Boss fragrance.  BLUE JUICE.

UGH!  I am totally ashamed.  I actually LIKE the new Hugo Boss scent!

At some point in my life, for reasons I won’t get into, other than to mine them for as much humor as possible, I had a girlfriend who is perfectly represented by Hugo Boss fragrances.  Frankly, it was only in the utter rejection of that part of my life, as well as Hugo Boss fragrances, that I finally found some kind of true meaning in life.  And yet, ironically, we were both left as better people for having found and left each other.  It was more than wrong – it was necessary.

So, for both my wife and I to really enjoy this particular, ultimately generic, quintessentially Hugo Boss, unabashedly blue juice – well, it hurts, but in a rather poignant and relieving way.

It’s like finding some old Hugo Boss suit that I could have worn in that doomed relationship, and – rather than just throwing it out – instead putting it on, tearing all the pockets out, while cursing her name but begging forgiveness, finding 500 bucks in a secret inner pocket, saying “THANK YOU, GOD”, and THEN throwing it out.

Does that make sense?  Probably not.  In any case, trust me – you don’t want Hugo Boss for a girlfriend, unless THE LORD has some kind of plan to kick you in the ass for your own good.

So what is this blue juice like?  Surprisingly, it’s a bit like Jil Sander Sander For Men, the latter being one of the more respectable blue juices out there.


In fact, I would go so far as to say Hugo Boss Tonic is every bit as likable as Sander For Men, but much more current, and enjoyably different.  The “hook note” is different, but the overall effect is the same – “blue juice with an awesome difference”.  The opening sillage is fun, the projection is adequate, the persistence is reasonably good, and the “normal” of the whole thing is relaxing but not boring.  You might even enjoy getting caught wearing this stuff, and divulging the identity to your shocked perfume buddies.

However, if you REALLY want interesting, stick around.



Emporio Armani Stronger With You (the one on the left in the image above) has to be the most original fragrance I smelled at Macy*s that day.  The somewhat presumptively male partner of a cautiously gendered twin set (along with Because It’s You, the lightly designated feminine), Stronger With You has an immediately arresting set of accords that take a moment to figure out.  My wife immediately noted the vanilla, but that isn’t what really makes this one different to my nose.

If you begin to wonder whether this one might actually be the FEMALE-gendered fragrance of the pair, then you have discovered what I, personally, regard as the secret of this fragrance – a strong, classic, and unwaveringly feminine “sub-perfume”.  Not merely an accord, this complex “super-accord” reminds me of the great Trésor – which coincidentally but perhaps not unintentionally has the same representative cue color:


It’s hard to describe the overall nature of this fascinating part of the fragrance, but it’s worth digging into, just a bit.  First, let’s look at the Armani talking points:

Stronger With You lives in the present, molded by the energy of modernity. Unpredictable, he surprises with his originality, like the spicy accord in the top notes – a mix of cardamom, pink peppercorn, and violet leaves.

The fragrance for men has inherited a confident elegance, with the easy nonchalance of youth, conveyed by the sage at his aromatic heart.

The scent communicates with sensuality: the smoky Vanilla Jungle Essence™ falls in love with the sugar coated chestnut accord, succumbing to his magnetism: STRONGER WITH YOU.

Discover the power of two with Because It’s You – For Her. The two fragrances have an alliance that balance & empower each other, as symbol of powerful love.

Or in pictures:



Ah, yes, those were the days!  Climbing!  And hair!

Comparing with the Lancôme’s brief description of the complexity of Trésor we see that there is little to connect the two.

The elegance of rose, mugent [sic] and lilac and the sparkle of peach and apricot blossom are just a few notes that define this luminous fragrance.

Still, I think Lancôme has highlighted precisely what is so distinctive in Stronger With You – florals and fruits that are normally reserved for feminines.  I can readily surmise which aromachemicals got some extra play to make that happen, but why spoil the fun?  Combine these with vanilla, and perhaps the smoky chestnuts and whatnot, and we’re probably looking at the makings of a great classic feminine right there.

So – did I fork out the cash for this extraordinary fragrance?

HA!  Get real, amigos.  If you’re not passing on the great ones, you’re not snarkin’ with the big dogs.

Away, fine fragrance.  We want FINER STILL.



So – what was my excuse for not buying this one?  Ah – you’ve got my number now!

Yes, as I toyed with more awesome fragrances that I had no intention of buying, I smelled this one, which I can easily reject as being “too similar” to the great Acqua di Giò Profumo, which I already have and love.

So how similar is Profumo Special Blend?  VERY.  It is FAR from a necessary purchase, if you have Profumo.  Yet it’s also different enough that I can easily recommend for true aficionados of the line to run out and buy Special Blend, if you’re feeling flush and would feel terribly guilty at the thought of missing a limited edition.  If you think Profumo is a five-star fragrance, as I do, and you want a little variation on the theme, then this is a great way to get it.

I would be hard-pressed to describe the difference here, except perhaps to say that it has a touch of a bit of a suggestion of a spicy vibe – a woodiness which departs ever so slightly from that classic ADG quintessence – that je ne sais quoi which runs like a perfect vector through Acqua di Giò, Essenza, and Profumo.  The Armani website says that Special Blend has a special ethical Guatemalan patchouli, and hints at other tweaks, but nothing is really clearly stated.  I didn’t do a side-by-side test with Profumo, just a brief sniff from a paper tester, so no gospel here.  To your nose, they may smell identical.

So should you buy it?




In the same way that I’ll never buy Polo Blue EDT, I’ll never buy Polo Blue EDP.  However, if I had to recommend one, I’d definitely recommend the EDP.  Every time I smell this one, I enjoy it thoroughly.  Perhaps not as much this time as the last, but still – the more concentrated EDP here is a definite improvement.

For me, Polo Blue EDT has always been a “nothing fragrance”.  Barely registering with my schnozz, it always struck me as painfully generic, despite the fact that many respected Basenotes noses spoke highly of it.  However, when the EDP hit the stores, I finally understood.  Yes, still somewhat generic, but GOOD generic.  I’m still not sure why it’s even part of the Polo line, because to my nose it is NOTHING like Polo, but it doesn’t matter.  A nice fragrance – particularly in the EDP.



ON THE OTHER HAND, I may end up getting a bottle of Polo Red Extreme, someday.  As an early fan of Polo Red, I was quite excited by the Intense flanker, but I had to admit that it simply wasn’t different enough for me to consider it.  But when I first smelled the Extreme flanker, I knew immediately that I was “at risk” for a buy.

Polo Red Extreme has a slightly oudy, sharp, nose-grabby vibe which nicely augments the fluffy white powder aspects of the original.  A bit of rubbery “coffeewood”, but not too much, brings back fond memories of other modern masculine orientals.

Nice.  Definitely a keeper.  But was I going to buy it?

LOOK!  What’s that over there?



I was definitely in danger of buying this one.  I have some vintage Pi that I’ve sat on for years, and never wear.  I fully expected the Extreme to feel dated and “too vintage” for my rather modernist tastes.

Happily, or perhaps unhappily, I can report that Pi Extreme is an AWESOME mix of classic and modern styles – one which smells VERY contemporary, yet is fully Pi as we knew it and loved it.  A bit less vanilla, a bit less oakmoss, a bit more amber, and a bit more leather.  Then tweak in some nice nuances that balance it all out, and you’ve got one heck of a nice fragrance.

I might have toyed with the idea of buying Pi Extreme, had my wife not jumped in and asked me about a fragrance in the case next to the Givenchy offerings.  A fragrance with which I was already quite familiar, and which is thus not a part of the ten I am reviewing for the first time.



My wife ABSOLUTELY loves this bottle, as do I.  Lacoste L.12.12 Blanc is also one which I came VERY close to buying at one time, mostly for the scent itself.  Fortunately, I got over this fragrance, as more and more powdery “clean” men’s scents filled both my wardrobe and my scent memory.

I asked my wife if she would wear it – to which she responded with a resounding NO.  She just liked the bottle.

And that was all the excuse I needed to move on.



On the way out of Macy’s, I saw THIS new fragrance, Chanel Gabrielle, in a magnificent new bottle, and I just HAD to try it. Having smelled Gabrielle on paper, from an insert in a Saks Fifth Avenue catalog, I knew roughly what to expect.  However, the enjoyable reality of this fragrance on a blotter, sprayed from a bottle, vastly exceeded even the high end of what I had expected.

Just for starters, the performance is excellent.  Nearly 8 hours after spraying that little white Chanel card in Macy*s, Gabrielle is still going, almost as strong as it was after the initial sillage wore down, maybe 5 hours ago.  The total fragrance is holding its form wonderfully, too, just like most if not all Chanel fragrances do.  No off notes, no breakup of the white flower accord, no scratchy base notes.  The quality is there – believe me.

Then there’s the bottle.  Very nice. The glass is beveled inwards on both front and back – something I did not expect due to a wonderful forced perspective optical illusion.  Concave sides being somewhat rare in perfume bottles, and having never seen a “spoiler photo” of Gabrielle showing the concave faces, I fully expected the glass to be beveled outwards.  Thus, it was a pleasant surprise to see that I was wrong, and the bottle is in fact very easy to pick up by the edges.

And the fragrance? Fascinating.

For starters, Gabrielle is one of the most androgynous white flower fragrances EVER.  Knowing that the four white flowers of the central accord included one I don’t generally like, I was feeling a sort of tuberose terror before that first sniff of the perfumed insert.  But once I had that sniff, I learned the truth.  Not only is Gabrielle nowhere near a tuberose monster – it actually has a bit of “dude potential”.  But you really don’t know such a thing until you actually smell the fragrance, so I needed this sniff.  And now I know for sure – Gabrielle‘s “gender” is wonderfully abstract, and clearly goes along with the various Kristen Stewart marketing photos.


From the viewpoint of my nose, Stronger With You seems more “old school feminine” than Gabrielle.  Nevertheless, I still think Gabrielle is rightly categorized as a feminine fragrance.  My wife certainly agrees on that point, too.

One can easily draw a line in “fragrance gender space” through Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, Chanel No. 5 L’Eau, and Chanel Gabrielle.  Next stop?  If you ask me, pure unisex.  I have yet to smell Chanel Boy, but I will bet it’s very close to being on that line, possibly on the men’s side.

Women need not fear that this one will be too “boyish”, but men need not fear it as too “girly”, either.


My wife really liked Gabrielle, so it will undoubtedly get bought for her – but it is ultimately destined for joint custody, just like my bottle of No. 5 L’Eau ended up becoming her default “going out for lunch” fragrance.

So where did the tuberose go?  Honestly, I don’t care (although the answer, it turns out, is here).  The white flower abstraction in this juice is so fine, and so fine-tuned, it borders on mathematics instead of perfumery.  I don’t really WANT to know why I’m not getting it.  It is the CLARITY of the thing which I enjoy the most.  It’s less clear but more subtle than L’Eau.  It’s pure Chanel without the baggage of No. 5 and its legacy.  Gabrielle is entirely new, and is writing it’s own story.  I really, really like that.

I feel like Olivier Polge came through big-time on this one, even though I know that many people seem to have expected something where more is more, and not like this fragrance, where (in my opinion) less is more.  But, I will admit – I’m a sucker for almost anything that either Polge does, but especially Olivier.  I have to laugh at how much of his stuff I own, but when I consider how much of his stuff is on my “buyable but resisting” list – well, it’s downright scary.

Anyway, he took a great picture with Ms. Stewart.  My perfume hero!


SO – there you have it.  A day well-spent.

Hope you’re having a wonderful fall.  Time to start thinking about those fall fragrances and holiday gifts.

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