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.

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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?




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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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Diddy Sport: It’s 3AM and Time to Find a Daytime Fragrance for Summer 2017

I suppose that going from the Donald Trump fragrances to Sean John’s line is a bit like jumping from the frying pan into the fire, but what the heck.  Somebody has to tell the truth about Sean John 3AM (if not fragrance itself), and it might as well be me.

I have some experience in this regard.

Grand Opening of Justin's Bar and Restaurant

It’s not that history is a joke.  It’s that history makes us all look like the jokers we are.

When I first smelled Sean John 3AM, a new offering in the horrifying MACY*S (where Sean John fragrances are still not banned, most miraculously), I was definitely tempted to buy it.  The thing is, I wasn’t really sure WHY I wanted to buy it.  The fragrance smelled very clean – very fresh – and had extremely impressive topnotes.  The thing is, I know the topnotes game – how fragrances are made with all the emphasis on captivating (and cheap) volatiles, with little substance underneath.  The idea – quite simple.


If anything, the opening of 3AM was simply too good to be true.  So I walked away, but I remembered the scent, and I vowed to buy it someday – preferably when the price had dropped to discount levels.

The launch of 3AM was, apparently, in May of 2015 – almost exactly 2 years ago.


Pimpin’ the juice, baby.  Pimpin’ the juice!

Flash forward to just a few weeks ago.  I was wandering around in the duty-free, somewhere in exciting Europa, trying to find something worth buying on the spot.  Something that not only smelled awesome, but was impossible to get in the States.   Discovering YSL Kouros Silver among the offerings, I did a quick sniff, and realized that I loved it.  But I also followed up with a quick internet search, and realized that I could buy the fragrance online, in America, for about half the price it was being offered in the duty free.

Delay of gratification.  Standard, in the civilized world of this barbarian.

So eventually, it came time to make the online buy of Kouros Silver, and when I did, I decided to pick up something else that was also waiting patiently on the “buy” list – Sean John 3AM.  Now available for prices in the range of $25 for 3.4 oz / 100 mL.


WARNING: Never send Dior Homme Sport through a low-pixel, red-shifted transporter.

Now, if you’re somebody who ever owned any version of Dior Homme, you probably notice the similarity of 3AM‘s bottle to that of Dior Homme – especially the Sport versions, where CLEAR is the primary color motif.  The only significant differences between the two bottles, other than the descender games, being the RED Sean John insignia forming the band round the neck, and the somewhat pixelated glass.  Glass which allegedly shows the number “3” in some fashion.  Some fashion which borders on pure suggestion, if you ask me.

Nevertheless, a very cool bottle.  In a nice white box which – shockingly – looks a bit too much like the one for Dior Homme Sport 2012, apart from the big, red, lipstick-scrawl “3AM” on the front, in lieu of standard small RED lettering used for sport flankers. 


Christian Dior 3PM

You may notice that, rather than going bold with a black-encased tube descender, like Dior Homme, or a white descender cover like the cologne, 3AM goes the opposite way, transitioning to an almost perfectly invisible descender tube.  The effect is impressive – it looks like the descender simply disappears about 5 mm down from the spray head.  The fragrance itself is also perfectly clear, unlike the slightly golden-yellow Dior juice.

So what does the juice smell like?  Well, to be honest, it smells like Sean John 3AM.

Allow me to explain.

When I first smelled 3AM, I wanted to say that it bore some resemblance to Creed Silver Mountain Water – itself a kind of “sport fragrance pretending not to be one“.  There is a certain “ambroxan whistle”, obvious in the opening of 3AM, which is not unlike those in Creed Millesime Imperial and Silver Mountain Water, or the much louder Dior Sauvage.  But on further reflection, this idea only fulfills a kind of fragrance-world prejudice – the suspicion that Sean John might follow a pattern of copying and derivatizing Creeds.  Which, however, is a potentially valid idea, given the widely acknowledged similarity of Sean John Unforgivable to Creed Millesime Imperial.  Indeed, Unforgivable actually benefits from the “useful rumor” that it is a cheaper (and potentially better) version of MI.  Would that not work here, too?

Thankfully, rumors of the SWM-hood of 3AM are not to be found in the wild, so the fragrance stands on its own, Creed-wise.  I shall not only resist the temptation to start another conspiracy theory, but shall actually throw some cold water on it.

“Follow the bottle”, as they say.

While I think that a simple sniff tells the difference between 3AM and Dior Homme Sport, I have to admit – the reason I’m loving 3AM right now is that it fits EXACTLY into my wardrobe, where the great Dior Homme Sport (2012 version) has been residing, all by itself, until now.

DHS 2012 toys with the iris of the DH line, as a form of homage, but it’s mostly a kind of grapefruit and ginger summer cologne concoction – very uplifting and cooling in the heat – and cheating on the cologne category by switching very cunningly into the persistence and longevity which only synthetics can offer.


Basenotes Fragrance Pyramid for DHS 2012

Ignoring the prejudicial way that citrus topnotes are named to suggest anything but their state of industrial melange, the key to 3AM is the extreme and relative CLARITY of the citrus topnotes – matching the bottle and juice motifs, with nary an olfactory suggestion of where those topnotes come from.


Basenotes Fragrance Pyramid for Sean John 3AM.  Apparently after a really major earthquake.

Speaking merely of impressions, the grapefruit-ginger complex of DHS 2012 is replaced by bergamot-cardamom in 3AM.  No iris to be found, although the powdery cool of cardamom fills a similar role in the ecosystem of notes and accords.

In the sparse component-world of sport fragrances, it is thus very clear that 3AM cannot be accused of any obvious copying from the JUICE of the DHS line, notwithstanding the fact that similar cooling fragrances have very obviously been done before.

Sean John 3AM drops back from its assertive opening to a kind of “skin scent plus” after that.  It’s not exactly a skin scent, but all radiance is very subtle.  Unlike the current “it scent”, Dior Sauvage, which is one of the most productive missionaries in Ambroxan’s Witnesses, the base radiance of 3AM is subtle, subtle, subtle.  The cool, mildly spicy heartnotes of 3AM are not much bolder, either.

However, I must say in their defense, the middle and base notes of 3AM are incredibly natural.  I can pile on 3AM every few hours, and it never builds up the kind of organically questionable beauty that DHS 2012 brings during a multi-layer, serial collection of “cologne shower” drydowns.  3AM stays playable over and over and over, simply building up the radiance of the naturally fresh basenotes in a very positive way.

In some ways, 3AM reminds me of Calvin Klein Crave – a beautiful but bizarre exoplanet citrus that transitioned from magnificent clarity to creepy synthiness in a single extra spray.  The major differences between the two fragrances being more subtlety and naturalness in the opening of 3AM, and a safety design in the Sean John fragrance which never lets bad stuff happen if you apply too much.

All in all, a great summer fragrance that provides a cheap and satisfying alternative to the myriad of yearly offerings in standard “sport” fragrances, including your Dior Homme Sport.  In my opinion, one MUST own DHS, if one enjoys anything resembling a real summer.  However, if DHS variants and flankers aren’t giving you the variety you crave, consider adding 3AM as a kind of “Diddy flanker” to the DHS line.



Now – I still feel a need to talk about the whole “Diddy” thing because – at the absolute least – it shows in part why celebrity scents work so well, given that anti-celebrity in fragrance can immunize a significant portion of the population against ANY form of inducement to buy a fragrance.

However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the celebrity.  Not only as Sean John has discovered, in chasing a loyal subset of the population with his fragrances, despite (if not because of) his bad-boy image which disaffects others.  And not only as Donald Trump discovered, in getting elected on the collapse of Macy’s.  Because – as Barbra Streisand discovered – one can even become eternalized as part of the lexicon, by succeeding at some form of celebrity failure.

But more to the point of my fellow perfumistae, I think the “Diddy effect” (which you will accept more than if I called it the Trump effect) makes mincemeat of the persistent and self-important denials by much of the fragrance community that it is in the slightest way influenced by things other than fragrance per se.  Frankly, such assertions fall flat as a water balloon dropped from the Tower of Pisa.  Sure, there is a bit of evaporative splatter, such as my fellow fragrant scientist Astaroth and yours truly, but it all disappears in the heat and the light, leaving anything cohesive to settle into flatness under the gravity of group opinion, the constant depending upon which gravity one chooses to embrace.

Sadly, I find myself in the company of only a few curmudgeons, cheapo-lovers, skew-noses, discount-vultures, and other olfactive misfits, most of whom, like me, were forced to abandon shill persona as a decider in fragrance, merely as a prerequisite to haunting our local Marshall’s in search of the FOMO holy grails which are the low-end gems.

But then there is nothing like asking the painfully hip art chick what amazing niche fragrance she is wearing, and learning that it came from the Paris Hilton collection, to break preconceptions in those who are willing to let their preconceptions be broken.


They forgot “President”.  Whoops.  Forgive the spoiler.


I’d rather not link the threads themselves, because I see little purpose in pointing out individual posters.  Nevertheless, it is easily verified that “Diddy threads” on Basenotes have always been and continue to be subject to the same problems that we later saw with “Trump threads” – a tendency to draw venom from even the most unlikely Basenoters.

Some posters will admit to never sampling or buying adversarial scents on principle, and confess that they would reject any scent connected to certain people, even if the fragrance were magnificent.  I can certainly respect this stance, and can even say that it is potentially more honorable and more ethical than my chosen path, which is to smell any scent, regardless of who flogs the frags to the public.

However, the more concerning case, for me, is the shockingly large set of people whose noses are clearly influenced by their like or dislike of people connected to the scent – yet who do not admit it, or even protest that they are uninfluenced, when it is painfully obvious that they have lost objectivity.

The fact that we are psychologically influenced toward or against scent, absent efforts to overcome subjective influence, makes sense, as fragrance is largely if not entirely associative at the most basic levels.  Indeed, as I probe my own nervous system, using my delightfully faulty and over-amplified gift of low-level introspection, I get a rather scary sense that all notes are basically the same, and that we would be revolted by citrus and cooing at sulfides, were our biochemistry and ecosystem radically different, making carbon a sign of death, and sulfur a gift of life, all other basics of olfaction remaining unchanged at the middle-ware programmatic (but obviously not molecular) level.

I will even go so far as to say that allowing subjectivity to influence my fragrance experience is an important part of my enjoyment.  Whether it is fragrance history, house image, celebrity positives, or group appreciation, I find that letting these things enhance the fragrance experience is highly desirable.

However, when it comes down to saying something about the raw induction of pleasure by a scent, or its communicative abilities, absent the immediate marketing, and acknowledging the work of the perfumers, or the perfumers they borrowed from, I find it crucial to step away from all the fluff, and concentrate on what it is about the scent itself that I find evocative or not, and likewise pleasing or displeasing.  Even more to the point, I think that smaller statements about the construction of a scent need to be uninfluenced by the personality of who is hawking the juice.  Sure, it may be fun to allude to somebody’s sex tapes as a metaphor for eye-raising levels of musk, but to trash a musky accord as poorly done in Skank Vixen‘s “barely in Sephora” release of Vampire Slut, when it is fairly clear that the same accord would be highly praised in the same perfumer’s night job as the author of Celine Artiste’s Super-Private Gallery of Eurissimo Oudhhhs, well, do the math.

Anyway, there you have it.  J’accuse.  Still waiting for the Washington Post celebrity fragrance Death in the Dark, to see if I need to j’accuse myself.


Wait a second.  Could something from a “perfume for beginners” article be true?

Posted in Entertainment, Fashion, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, Internet, News and politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Notes From The Trumderground


OMG, look at the backwards N on his shirt, Russians, OMG.


Dear Renato,

Funny you should ask about Perfumania’s decision to act as it did, in regard to the Donald Trump line of celebrity fragrances.

In my role as a Basenotes moderator, I try to avoid politics, having friends on all sides of many political issues – somewhat as it was in the [ominous chord progression] OLD DAYS.


Not being one to let history go undocumented, and being one of the few people on this planet who can shed light on your question, I would like to answer it here.  I don’t answer for everybody.  As this blog is heavily shadow-banned, but not yet deleted, I answer for you, me, and the AI humans of the future, who will not be quite like Steven Spielberg imagined them, but perhaps close.  One trait that will go well with their more open architecture, will probably be a more open mind.  They won’t argue with or about what I’m about to tell you.  They will accept that this is simply my perspective from having been in a particular place at a particular time.  Much like their unique perspectives will be.

Where do I begin?  Perhaps, by bringing the future people up to speed on our earlier conversation.


Re: Donald Trump builds his fragrance Empire

I wonder if anyone over at Perfumania now feels silly or has been fired after destroying Trump’s fragrance empire back in mid 2015?…/#43ad3172557c


Originally Posted by Redneck PerfumistoView Post

I suspect that “cutting ties” was an artful dodge. Perfumania sold the Trump line continuously after that statement, and still sells them.

I will bet money that “winding down” meant no NEW Trump fragrances. I suspect that production of the existing ones continues unabated.

Perhaps Perfumania played a rather cunning game – namely, “cut ties” (presumably next to non-existent) with the various Trump organizations, and then keep ordering the existing fragrances hand over fist from their subsidiary. I have seen no change in availability anywhere – much in contrast to what normally happens with a discontinued scent.

It still doesn’t seem too cunning to me to have a contract with a then famous celebrity, then to engage in sanctimonious virtue-signalling at his expense, and then to see him elected President. They seem like dills to me.
I did buy Success and Empire deodorant sticks at Perfumania six months ago. So not only are the people at Perfumania sanctimonious, they are also hypocrites, in my opinion.

Quote Originally Posted by Renato View Post

It still doesn’t seem too cunning to me to have a contract with a then famous celebrity, then to engage in sanctimonious virtue-signalling at his expense, and then to see him elected President. They seem like dills to me.

I did buy Success and Empire deodorant sticks at Perfumania six months ago. So not only are the people at Perfumania sanctimonious, they are also hypocrites, in my opinion.

I would love to respond appropriately to what you’re saying (about whether this was a good business decision or not), complete with a lot of fascinating “below the media” information. I will respond on my blog, which is heavily shadow-banned, and give you a link later. While politics is not expressly forbidden here, we’ve had to take a harder line on it as a “hot button” issue, and thus I’d rather not inflame the situation by adding a bunch of disputables to the thread.
While I almost wish these Trump threads would go away, I feel that we have to hold a hard line on not letting any fragrance be heckle-vetoed out of the directory or off the forums. Thus, I would prefer to kick every poster off the “Famous Dictators and Murderers Exclusifs Collection” thread, than yield to the protesters.

I’m sure our conversation about this would have been wonderful and enlightening had it continued on Basenotes, and had people been free to engage us in civil conversation, they would have actually learned a lot.  However, we are no longer in a time of learning for all.  So please forgive the one-sided nature of this discussion.

To begin with, it’s important for us to go back in time and review what took place.  My earlier blog post reviewing the two later Trump fragrances:


Cultural Capitalism: Fear and Loathing in the Perfume Aisle at Macy’s


…gives a bit of the history, albeit in a joyously snarkylicious form.

By the way, I make no excuses for having bought Trump’s fragrances.  Unlike so many who dismissed the man, I studied everything I possibly could about him, once I accepted that he provided the optimal rupture point in the global assault on freedom of speech, which was my – how shall we say – “red line”.  Even Trump’s fragrances had to be examined.  All the other good things that came with the package, however, are like an endless supply of body products and flankers.  Ermahgerd.  Too much winning.

I think that your link:


Perfumania, Maker Of Donald Trump Fragrances, Cuts Ties With Mogul


…is actually a good summary of the state of the situation right at that time.

However, we cannot really talk about the Perfumania decision, without talking about the earlier Macy’s decision.  It is only by looking at that key episode, that Perfumania’s actions can be seen to either make sense or not.

At the time of Macy’s capitulation to pressure from a combination of the media, the DNC, and a variety of Soros-funded cultural Marxists (supporting not Bernie Sanders, as they pretended to do under DNC planning, but rather Hillary Clinton), very few people had any clue that Donald Trump would win – either the Republican primary or the general election.  I did know a few who were confident, but even in my own case – with extremely good information – I wasn’t sure he would survive the process.  Remember – even the man (Bill Whittle) who precisely predicted the entire Trump candidacy as a generality, did not support Trump or believe he would win.  Trump had so many powerful opponents – as we still see today – that it just looked very iffy.  I knew that Trump was brilliant, but I didn’t know how brilliant.

Macy’s management was even further out of the reality loop than the American mainstream media (MSM, hereafter).  There is no way they could have thought he would win.  In my opinion, they let that influence their decision.  Macy’s saw risk in being associated with Trump, and I also think they rightly saw how a string of other businesses and organizations would follow suit, if they led the way in going negative on Trump.  Everybody would provide cover for everybody else.  But if Macy’s refused to attack Trump, they probably reasoned (and rightly, in my opinion), that there would be boycotts and denunciations from the left.

The problem for Macy’s was this.  Because they did not have access to valid information about the reality on the American right (or even the center), they had NO IDEA how badly they would suffer in going against Trump.  NO IDEA.  Far worse than otherwise.

This is actually why you see so much vehemence against Trump on places like Basenotes and “fragrance Twitter”.  The people there have no idea how much silent support Trump really has, and how many people find all the virtue-signalling against him terribly, terribly annoying.  They would be embarrassed if they did.  Although I do have to say that the “loud” part of the beauty world is something of a safe-space for anti-Trump hatred.

I have spent years watching this situation, and have followed some of the best minds in political analysis, and even some parts surprised me – for example, Trump picking up Bannon from Breitbart. Well, I knew there would be a reaction to Macy’s on the right, but I was shocked by the strength of it.  It wasn’t a boycott, where people put pressure on somebody they may like, to get them to get on the bandwagon, and wander off if it all fails.

No.  It was utterly unforgiving.  These people were finished with Macy’s.  This was a spontaneous, massive, authentically grass-roots disgust with Macy’s.  The number of people on boards who were not planning to, but HAD IN FACT cut up their Macy’s cards – many of them sending the pieces back with their final bill – was frankly shocking.  People didn’t say “I’m going to cut up my card.”  They said things like “Yeah, I cut up my card immediately.  It’s been a couple of months now, and I’ve saved hundreds of dollars.  I’m shopping at XXXXXXXXX now.”  There is no way Macy’s could survive that without amputations.  No way.



I truly felt sorry for Macy’s.  I didn’t cut up my card, and I felt like the lone traitor in the audience, for not going “all in” and putting mine in the shredder.  I promised myself that if Trump won, I would forgive Macy’s concession to the Marxists, and start shopping there again.  But most people I knew were simply done with Macy’s.

The thing is – you never heard about it, and probably won’t, until somebody at Macy’s breaks cover to a fully reformed press.  It may be several years, but eventually you’ll hear what the catastrophe looked like from the inside.  It would be a great story for Breitbart and the like, if they sent a reporter or two into the right places.

The MSM has, as you might expect, helped Macy’s cover it all up.   But the cause and effect was quite clear.  The THUNDEROUS cheers on the right, when Macy’s closed all those stores – THAT is when I began to think Trump might actually go all the way.

So what about Perfumania?

I have mixed thoughts here.  Perfumania – and Parlux in particular – is highly dependent on a bunch of celebrities (both current and potential future faces) who are, for lack of a better term, political useful idiots.  It’s actually rather hilarious that the only celebrity they had on board who was smarter than them – and in fact smarter than their entire management combined – was being ganged up on, by an entire world of know-nothing celebrities, who echo whatever the media tells them.  I think there may be a musical in it, somewhere between Hamilton and Little Shop of Horrors, but it won’t be made for quite a while.



Empire, as currently seen on the Parlux subsidiary website.


Parlux was in a nasty position, should the cultural Marxists manage to direct the ire of Parlux’s entire current and future roster against Parlux, rather than just Donald J. Trump.

Don’t get me wrong.  Fragrance celebrities – the usual ones – may be talented as musicians, dancers, singers, actors, famous-for-being-famous, or whatever, but these are NOT people who are spending their time immersed in anything other than their careers, their hobbies, and each other.  Not like Donald J. Trump, for whom high-end politics was an interesting obsession like sports or stocks is for most guys.  And all of these “normal” celebrities are in a symbiotic relationship with an incredibly dysfunctional media which keeps them far, far away from independent thought.  Many are in active use as carriers of cultural Marxist memes that they themselves don’t even recognize, much less understand.  So these people basically have no clue.  They could have been turned against Parlux with a moment’s notice.  It wasn’t just Parlux’s current business that was threatened – it was their future roster as well.


The New York Times 2015 DealBook Conference

Wait.  You’re saying there’s somebody in Silicon Valley who might not actually believe a classic junior-high bomb timer in a bomb-porn pencil box is a science project?  Outrageous!


To realize how even social media CEOs and highly wired tech journalists are no better off than celebrity fragrance floggers in terms of understanding, read Peter Thiel’s recent comments, now that the media is in a bit of shock and awe and “does not compute” about him.  Read between the lines, when he talks down to the media and the rest of Silicon Valley in words they can understand, devoid of “triggers” that make baby-step learning impossible.  This gives you an idea of the gulf between those who have succeeded in figuring out the N-dimensional gradient between reality and media reality (more so those who actually chose to do something about it) and those who don’t have a clue what’s going on at the moment.   Chants of “Fake News” coming both ways make this the classic game of one room with two doors and two guards.  Only the guard that always lies, doesn’t always lie, and knows just the right time to tell the truth.  And the guard who always tells the truth, will tell you truths you absolutely don’t want to hear.  Ask yourself who gets out of THAT room.

So – coming back to Perfumania’s decision, I think they figured correctly that they had to give up one celebrity to save ALL the others.  Trump, the willing scapegoat.  There in the small, there in the large.  And I think that was a good business decision for Perfumania, given that they themselves are an internal cog in the machine that helps maintain celebrities useful as cultural Marxist icons.

Ironically, it may even have been a good political decision in terms of secretly, even mischievously, aiding Trump.  I’ll get back to that in a minute.

What I think is most ingenious, however, is how they sacrificed as little as possible, by simply saying:

“Perfumania is winding down its retail business with the Trump fragrance brand.”

There’s no timetable.  No specifics.  No promise not to make money.  In fact, this statement would allow Perfumania / Parlux to massively crank up production on existing Donald Trump fragrances.  But it gave Hillary’s people everything they needed to go away.

And I will bet you money that Donald Trump didn’t care.  Perfumania even ADDED to the controversy that helped elect Donald Trump.  Perfumania should have sent Trump a bill for services rendered.





One of the things I found very curious, in going through some older magazines, was an ad for Donald Trump Success, “available at Macy’s”, in Men’s Health in late 2012.  This would have been around the time that Mitt Romney, to use Trump’s words, “choked”.

My feeling is that Trump sensed trouble with the Romney campaign, and began taking action.  In typical Trump fashion, he was way ahead of the game, and had already prepared for a Romney loss.  I saw signs of that as well, from a completely different viewpoint, but I think it was clear that Romney was not going to win, because he wasn’t really trying to win.

I think these Macy’s fragrances were pure Trump PR.  He got the first one out there as soon as possible in 2012, knowing he would have to begin running in 2015.  He did it while his brand was shiny and untarnished by Hillary, who was desperately keeping track of his intent.  Trump got the second one out at the exact time (March 2015) he announced INTEREST in running for President.  Note that he made sure the second fragrance was well underway (but not too tired on the shelves) BEFORE he began baiting the media, in June of 2015.

Trump, if I’m reading him correctly, viewed all his fragrance and apparel deals as expendables that could be leveraged as campaign munitions, and possibly even claimed as business losses, which they likely were.  It’s just another example of his brilliant thinking.

“You want to take pitchfork and torches to my fragrances and suits?  Here – let me call the newspapers and insurance company before you accidentally burn down Macy’s!”

People talk about the “Trump effect”, where he was influencing things into his plans well ahead of schedule.  There is also the “Trump boomerang effect”, where everything people throw at him boomerangs.  Voila.  Trump has the unerring ability to make people sabotage themselves, and use it for his own benefit.

So – was Perfumania smart or stupid to do what they did?

In another world – where the media is not allied with the Democrats they uniformly vote for, nor used for cultural Marxist propaganda purposes – where social media is not being used as a tool to herd the masses by a kind of sugary lensing of reality – where people actually value freedoms, instead of the momentary coolness of dissing them while in use – there, in that world, I think that Perfumania would have been stupid to do what they did.

But in this world?  Where even conservatives are tempted to virtue signal uselessly by the massive conditioning of a toxic media?

Alas, in this world, they did the right thing to survive.  They gave the salute, clicked their heels, and went right back to business when the officers of the New Order walked away.

Or rather, when they walked away, right into Trump’s plans.

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


Greetings, ridiculously happy Earth creatures.

Greetings, ridiculously happy Earth creatures.

UGHLLO.  This is Grumpy Cat.  Technically, it’s DOCTOR Grumpy Cat.  However, MISTER Grumpy Cat will be fine.  I’m so pissed off at my latest alma mater for encouraging Marxist faculty in their coercion of useful idiot students into “safe space” insanity, that I not only refuse to give them a dime – I have effectively renounced my superfluous degree, the proof of which remains hidden in my closet, a sorrowful reminder of my misspent youth.

Normally, I don’t post about science, or more specifically Modern Science, which I tend to regard as one of humanity’s Grand Mistakes.  However, my feral friend Wolf Moon (who is really more of a mangy coyote than a social predator) has convinced me this would be a good thing to get off my fluffy little cat chest, so here we go.

Energy.  It’s actually important.  That is, if one wants there to be a future with little grumpy cats making grumpy little faces while they inexplicably purr at their idiot human masters.

The problem is that the idiot human masters don’t understand energy.  Unlike us grumpy cats, who spend as much time as possible not wasting energy, idiot human masters do two things simultaneously.  They waste energy, AND they don’t use enough energy to get MORE energy.

Getting both of those right is hard.  That’s why I love this ridiculously grumpy “Trump” guy, who is about to be in charge of the Department of Energy.  Not only is he “high energy” – he is both stingy as hell, AND wanting to flip on the energy switch for this planet.  OMG – a human who’s not an idiot.  Who would have thought?

Now, I have to digress to make that point.  So bear with me.

I was in the bookstore today, and I saw THIS BOOK on the “20% Off” table:

Grumpy Cat wants a ride to Jupiter. Titan. Wherever. Buy this book.

Grumpy Cat wants a ride to Jupiter. Titan. Wherever. Buy this book.

Actually, I didn’t see the nerdy journalist or the abnormally attractive female scientist, but I did see the book on the left.  I even bought it, because I felt it unfair to criticize the book without buying it.  Call me old-fashioned, but I think there is a certain decorum which must be observed while pointing out the flaws in the thinking of other scientists.

This book – with which I partially agree – is promoting the idea of human exploration and settlement of the OUTER parts of the solar system.  Specifically, the Saturnian moon known as Titan.  Personally, I think this is a wonderful idea.  As we move out in the solar system, Titan is one of those “must visit” destinations.

The problem, however, is that Titan is like Jeb Bush.  LOW ENERGY.

But that’s not the viewpoint of the book.  These authors think that Titan is a better destination than Mars.  And part of the reason they think this, is that they think there’s an abundance of energy stored up on Titan.

OMG. It's a perpetual motion machine. AGAIN.

OMG. It’s a perpetual motion machine. AGAIN.

These people have energy all wrong.  Which is not surprising, given the horrible imposition of political windmill thinking on science over the last – oh, let’s see – approximately 8 years, but possibly 24 years, or even 53 years, if you look at the fat corrupt idiot magically getting Kennedy’s job on the far side of the grassy knoll, as being where the rocket started falling off the launch pad.

But I digress.

To see the moment where I did the biggest face-palm in decades, you have to turn to page 65, and read the following passage.  Honestly, I think it’s some kind of miracle that I opened the book right to the passage, even if miracles are a really horrible hack on any simulation, and thus both charming and repulsive.  Where was I?  Oh, yes, here….

“Alone in the solar system, Titan’s landscape is buried in fuel we could harvest and burn with technology hardly more advanced than the gas furnace found in a typical American house.  The natural gas on Earth is mostly methane, like Titan’s lakes and seas.  The dunes around those shores on Titan are also hydrocarbons, mostly of heavier and more complex organics called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.  With Titan’s atmospheric hydrocarbon factory and cold temperatures, this all makes sense.

“So why doesn’t Titan explode when someone lights a match?  No oxygen.  We burn fossil fuels on Earth by adding heat or a spark to a combination of carbon-rich fuel and oxygen.  Energy comes out in a flame or explosion as the energy originally deposited by the sun is released, along with carbon dioxide and water.  Titan’s atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, like Earth’s, but without oxygen.”

Incidentally, I LOVE polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.  I’ll have to swoon about those some other time, however.

The authors should have stopped right there, but they didn’t.  This is the point where THE NEXT QUESTIONS matter.  This is where one should ask some very simple questions.

Why are there flames in the first place, here on Earth?  What is the ORIGIN of the things that give us fire?  What PROCESS would be analogous to fire on Titan?  Does that process occur anywhere in the known universe?

Ah – this is where it all blows up.  Look at what the authors assert next.

“But underneath Titan’s hydrocarbon surface layer, perhaps just below, or maybe 100 kilometers (62 miles) down, water ice or slush makes up much of its mass.  Water contains plenty of oxygen.  [DANGER, WILL ROBINSON! -G.C.]  A simple process of running water through an electric field, called electrolysis, frees the oxygen.  The International Space Station uses electrolysis to produce oxygen for breathing.  The colonists could also breathe it, and could use it to burn methane, which would provide plenty of energy to keep the process going.”

OK.  I could go on, but there is no need.  Chemists from multiple branches are already shaking their heads, and biochemists have raised eyebrows.

A simple process of running water through an electric field, called electrolysis, frees the oxygen.

No.  Just no.

Let me put it this way.  This “simple process” just used up every last bit of energy you are planning to get back later.  AND MORE.  “Freeing the oxygen” is actually “creating a strong, high-energy oxidizing agent, molecular oxygen“.

Don’t believe me?  Do the calculations.  Hints: conservation of energy, heats of formation, enthalpy.

People keep thinking there is a free lunch somewhere.  PEOPLE!  WakeTFU!  This is Grumpy Cat talking to you.  THERE AIN’T NO FREE LUNCH!

The reason that there are delusions like this – the idea that methane is some magical source of energy – is that humans are not only plant parasites – they are electrochemical parasites.

Not to throw any stones.  Grumpy Cats are parasites, too.

In the same sense that intestinal parasites thrive in the highly unnatural environment of another organism’s gut, humans and other plant parasites thrive in the highly unnatural environment of readily available food from the only critters who truly survive on this planet – plants.  And remember – plants are just exhaust parasites of nuclear reactors – a.k.a., the sun.

The question is, what food did the plants create, to form this highly unnatural environment that we live in, relative to an abiotic earth?  You might argue that they created things like cellulose, sucrose, and proteins as food, and I might argue that some of it got slow-walked into the food storage deep-freeze of coal and oil.  But no matter what you pick, I’m going to add one.

Molecular oxygen.

Yes.  You are breathing a fossil fuel.  DEAL WITH IT.  Oxygen is not a “byproduct”.  It’s a fuel.

In essence, plants store energy in a semi-shared battery.



That was probably one of the most important lessons I ever got out of general chemistry.  Looking at half-reactions alone is dangerous.

So what is OUR battery?  One part of the battery stores oxygen as a gas, shared by all plants.  The other part of the battery is retained by the individual plant, becoming its personal stockpile of not-quite-hydrocarbons, including such things as sugars and proteins.

(Please note the beautiful analogy to cryptography.  Pretty neat, ain’t it?)

Note that OUR plants store the reducing agent and expel the oxidizing agent.  There is no reason to think that is always the case.

Imagine that plants on some weirdly nitrogenous planet produced no gases, but instead consumed nitrogen (N2) and water (2H2O), creating stockpiles of ammonium nitrite (NH4NO2) as their energy storage medium (presumably using something different like proteinoids for structural purposes).  This somewhat unstable substance, composed of ammonium ions and nitrite ions, is fairly stable at high pH and low temperature, but can be smoothly reverted to nitrogen and water with release of energy.  THAT would actually be something that you could mine as an energy source.  Ammonium nitrite is a redox reaction waiting to happen.  It may be named as a single chemical, but it is really two chemicals – and letting them react is all that is needed to do a microscopic “kaboom” and give you heat, light, and motion.

Or let’s make it more Earth-like, and say that the ammonia isn’t stored as ammonium ion, but is returned into the atmosphere as the gas – essentially acting as a reducing-agent analog of molecular oxygen on Earth – and nitrites were kept as the “stockpiled” food source of the organism.  In principle, stealing that fossil fuel is the same – mine the nitrites, then react the nitrites with the ammonia to get energy back.  If you can find the nitrites, you can “burn” them with atmospheric ammonia.

Looking at Titan, which is a reducing environment par excellence, the alleged fuels of methane and water are chemically very sad if you’re looking for energy.  Even the nitrogen in the air is pretty sad, because nitrogen and hydrogen barely give you anything when they react to give you ammonia, which they are very loath to do to begin with.  Nitrogen likes being nitrogen very much.

And water really, really likes to be water.  It does NOT want to be oxygen and hydrogen.  The reason I winced at the casual mention of electrolysis, is that I loved to perform it as a kid – and I respect the HUGE amount of energy that it takes to break water into hydrogen and oxygen.

SO – as far as Titan goes – well, you’re going to need something else for energy.  The whole premise of the book – that Titan is some huge reservoir of energy waiting to be tapped – making it more desirable than Mars as a colonization target for that reason – it’s just plain wrong.  In fact it’s SO wrong, I almost suspect that this book is some kind of disinformation, although I can’t actually think of anybody who would fall for it, other than the Obama administration, which seems to have more or less produced it (you’ll have to get the book to figure that one out).

It’s kind of ironic.  We teach kids about socially divisive and civilizationally useless “white privilege”, when they know absolutely nothing about the electrochemical privilege that we all share – the one that makes hydrocarbons actually worth something here, while they are worthless on Titan.

The only way you’re going to find any kind of awesome energy on Titan, to assist in your colonization efforts, is if something left it there.  You either find a fossil fuel (possibly highly unconventional) of an existing or prior organism (here’s hoping THAT generalized colonization prerequisite sends a chill up somebody’s spine in Washington), or you take advantage of the periodic table and use some kind of nuclear fission or fusion reaction to get your energy by the most awesomely efficient methods available.

All of which seems vastly easier on Mars than on Titan.  Unless, of course, there IS or WAS some kind of odd life on Titan, which left an entire economy of unearthly fossil fuels.  Which then raises the question of whether we should even set foot on the place.

And thus, by taking the long way around – looking at the simple case of a small planetoid which doesn’t even share the same chemistry as Earth, we see the same energy problem – the fact that there is no free lunch.  There are only fossil fuels if you are REALLY lucky, and nuclear fuels because you ARE lucky at a deeper level.

So where were we?

Ah, yes.  Trumpy Cat.

For a person who doesn’t have any scientific training, Donald Trump sure seems to have figured out that it’s all about energy.  Most importantly, he seems to understand that energy begets more energy.   And THAT is smart energy.

My guess is that Trumpy Cat is simply an excellent student of history, and observed the larger effects of energy on economies and societal progress at the national and international scales.  One could also say that he has keenly observed that what some countries DO about energy, and what they SAY about energy, are not the same thing.  Moreover, he may have observed that what said countries encourage HERE by way of bribes, influence, and whatnot, would be for us to do the opposite of what they do.  Hence, it would appear that the Trumpy Cat is interested in energy realism, and energy fairness.

I just think we have to be smart about energy.  I figure if we’re smart, things will work out.  And who knows?  We might even send some people to Titan.


All the way to Memphis Titan

All the way to Memphis Titan


Posted in Books, History, News and politics, Science, Science Fiction, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chanel No. 0.5 Eau Final


If there is anything which proves that I have finally reached the status of true fragrance fanatic, it is the fact that I am about to take a five-dollar fragrance seriously.

Very.  Seriously.

BUT WAIT!  It’s not like this is just ANY five-dollar fragrance that I bought in a computer store.  No.  This is Change 105, or “Change 105 Paris“, as it’s known to the fans of the famed iris fragrance, Prada Milano.

Change 105 is not to be confused with Chanel No. 5.  In fact, this great business advice is rendered right on the label, where it is stated, in no uncertain terms:

CHANGE 105 is not associated with the makers of CHANEL No° 5

Indeed!  Which is not to say that we have NO idea who those makers might be, but still – are we sure – QUITE SURE – that there is absolutely no connection?

For instance, in the very computer store (and not just any computer store – Frye’s Electronics!) where we purchased Change 105, there was a listing of many Famous Fragrances, along with the corresponding fragrance from The Diamond Collection which was intended to resemble it.

The Diamond Collection?  What’s THAT?

Glad you asked!

The Diamond Collection is – for lack of better words – a company in India which creates rather reasonable knock-offs of famous fragrances at almost no cost, and provides them to Americans for almost no money via a company in – you guessed it – NEW JERSEY – that place where chemicals used to be made, before they were made in India and China.

Wow!  That’s kind of like Ohio, where jobs used to be made, before they were made in India and China!

But I digress.  Because just as it is possible for management to convince itself that products initially produced in developing countries they are under orders to patronize are just as good as those created by the expensive co-workers whose skills they subvert and minimize in the interest of remaining in management, so too is it possible to convince oneself that fragrances from The Diamond Collection are actually rather good.  Particularly at a price which is very affordable on American unemployment benefits, or what is left of Social Security.

This, I know, because my purchase of Change 105 (LOL – I think I just got the joke) was not my first run-in with TDC – meaning The Diamond Collection, and not The Different Company, which is a future past overly expensive brand in a future Ohio known as France.

No.  For on a street-corner in Brooklyn, some years earlier, I was introduced to TDC by way of a five-dollar fragrance named Horus, the box of which looks mysteriously reminiscent of a future former famous fragrance known as Kouros.


Horus is actually rather good (SEE?  What did I tell you?) because it does what every Kouros flanker has done since Kouros: present a diminished version of Kouros.  And the first thing that every Kouros flanker does, in the way of diminution, is to tone down or remove the civet.  In the words of my dear wife, there is no tanuki in Horus.  And for her, that is a good thing.


Tanuki.  (狸。)  Yes.  It’s animalic.

Which is not to say that Horus doesn’t do something to redeem itself, because it does.

The essential crux of Kouros, as noted by thousands of perfumistae for decades, is a “clean/dirty” opposition which endlessly fascinates or repels.  Metaphors relating to the men’s restroom abound.  My favorite, by purplebird7 of Basenotes:


But what about the beautiful white marble of the Greek statues?   Must this always devolve into the tile of the men’s room?

I am tempted to quote from the great Brad Pitt:  “Inevitable.

Anyway, the fact is, Horus is remarkably true to the intention of Kouros, in that it manages to substitute SOMETHING for the missing civet.  I’m still not sure what it is, and I’m not sure I want to wear Horus enough to find out.  But it’s not really important.  The essential clean/dirty opposition is maintained, and Horus manages to earn a place among the Kouros flankers.

So back to our story which, sadly, happens to be true.

On first smelling Change 105 in Frye’s Electronics, I was shocked – SHOCKED, I tell you – that it actually did smell like Chanel No. 5 Eau Première.  So familiar was the scent, that I knew immediately that I was going to buy this startling mimic.

The problem, as I now understand it, is that absence makes the nose go wander.



Chanel No. 5 Eau Première is one of those scents that was, for me, literally unforgettable.   However, unforgettability has its limits.   Ah, yes.  Send a boy to Vegas, and if he’s not busy drinking, gambling, carousing with hookers, spending the mortgage money on fragrance, or wandering around the desert in search of dangerous opportunities, bad things can happen.  One of those bad outcomes is that he will forget his true fragrance love, and smell some reasonable facsimile with high-heel availability and mini-skirt prices.

Time offers a chance for reflection, and thus we were led to break out our still-wrapped bottle of Change 105.  Would it still smell like a great clone of Eau Première?  We were about to find out.

Tearing off the cellophane and pulling off the silvery cap [movie idea: Sex Clones – The Unboxing], I was treated to a small shower of tiny, curly things – which turned out not to be perfume beetle larvae, but rather, small plastic turnings from the manufacture of the cap itself.  Brushing those away, I noticed that the bottle itself was not actually full, but probably about the maximum distance below full, that could reasonably be claimed not to be intentional short-changing.


And then the spray.


Not good.

Having just recently worn Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, I was fully aware of her True Charms.  Those having been lovingly recorded in an earlier but slightly eccentric blog post on Basenotes itself.  A post in which we alleged rather shockingly that Eau Première wasn’t just great, but most likely legendary in her own time.


And we quote from the male lead of that little drama:

“You say our love is as if it were the first time. I say no – it is even before that! Your loveliness stands on its own, eternally. Your existence is not the dream of what once was. What came before was the prophecy of the unbelievable – of beauty even greater!”

And if that’s not enough:

Rubicene is red,
Dicycloocta[1,2,3,4-def:1′,2′,3′,4′-jkl]biphenylene is blue,
Eau Première,
Because of your perfect level of aldehydes I am utterly in love with you!

Yeah.  You get the point.  We was smitten.

So with moderate memories of such extreme beauty fresh in my mind, Change 105 wasn’t exactly smellin’ fresh.  In fact, there was a distinctly sharp and unpleasant note in my five-dollar fragrance that absolutely did NOT fit into my memories – neither those left from my sniffs in the computer store,  nor any of those involving my treasured bottle of Eau Première.

Now – let’s consider all possibilities.  It is entirely possible that my five-dollar fragrance “turned” while sitting in the dark for a year.  Some of my own amateurish fragrance experiments did exactly that, and in substantially less time than a year.  So there is definitely that possibility.

And while it would not exceed human mendacity for the tester I smelled in Frye’s Electronics to have been something other than Change 105 – say, a certain fragrance by the name of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, I think it is far more likely that I was simply wearing “frag goggles”.

Frag goggles are entirely analogous to beer goggles, and are due to severe cultural and olfactory deprivation.  Having spent considerable time running around the desert outside of Las Vegas with my redneck buddies, looking for interesting ways to sustain injury, and NOT hanging out in the various boutiques and fashion stores on The Strip, I was severely at risk for frag goggles.

The cure for frag goggles, like beer goggles, is simply waking up.  This I did, by smelling the Real McCoy, Chanel No. 5 Eau Première.  Better still, doing so in a side-by-side comparison with Change 105.


Oh my.  Where do I begin?

Perhaps with the end.  With the truth.

Every rumor and innuendo you have heard, spread by French-speaking marketers and parroting fashionistas with 1000 purses in their attics, alleging that Chanel actually owns its own fields of natural jasmine – I am happy to report that these allegations are Snopes-level TRUE.

Even the rumors that the Lagerfeld and Polge families have married into the tribal leaderships of Madagascar and the Comoros Islands, exchanging scalps with ylang-ylang garland-wearing daughters of the chieftains, in barefoot, at the altar of the Reformulated Church of Sustainable Fragrance, are TRUE.

Ladies and gentlemen – there are simply NO allegations of proper behavior to be lodged against Chanel at this point, that I am not willing to believe in full.

All of the above being the only conclusions I can draw, from the remarkable and obvious differences between these two fragrances.

The Chanel fragrance contains – and I do not say this lightly – natural ingredients.  Not, perhaps, in its entirety, but enough that upon reacquainting myself with the love of my life, Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, I immediately recalled a sniffing session I had done with IFF perfumer Yves Cassar.  In that brief meeting, he demonstrated to me the stepwise evolution of narcissus absolute, from a rather gardeny cacaphony, into the smooth beauty of his personal creation, Narcisse en Folie.

There is something unmistakable in the output of an experienced perfumer, just as there is in the output of an experienced programmer.  It is a guidance of tempestuous possibility into a smooth and logical certainty.  That certainty may be complex, variable, and filled with surprise and intelligence, but it is a type of certainty nonetheless.

Change 105 lacks something, which I suddenly realized was critical to Chanel No. 5 Eau Première.  The mimic lacks the beauty of natural jasmine and ylang-ylang, tamed by a finicky mind – one which would brook no ripple in the glass-smooth surface it desired to spread out before us in olfactory space.


How the knock-off evades these critical floral characteristics is simple – it doesn’t.  It can’t.  Whatever Change 105 is doing to avoid doing the heavy floral lifting of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, it’s not working.  In the end, Change 105 is reminiscent of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première.  That is all.  Nothing more.

And when I say reminiscent, I don’t mean in any particularly appealing way.  The really haunting, mind-blowing aspects of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première are simply not there.  There is a resemblance, but it’s not centered on anything pleasant and attractive – nothing that would make me want to do anything but smell the original Chanel No. 5 Eau Première.

My guess is that Change 105 contains all or most of the synthetics, little if any floral absolute, or perhaps a cheaper variety, and a whole lotta benzyl salicylate.

No contest.  There can be no competition with juice which has been rounded up by Chanel, and tamed by a Polge.

But now, in the spirit of Mythbusters, we ask ourselves a final question.

Even if Change 105 isn’t a particularly good, or even a sufficient mimic of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première, couldn’t it at the very least still be a decent fragrance in its own right?  Maybe just a good buy on a cheap fragrance?

Sadly, no.  It is what it is – a five-dollar fragrance – and WAY overpriced at that.  What good is 100 mL of perfume that smells questionable and never great, when 5-10 mL of Chanel No. 5 Eau Première at the same price would be infinitely pleasing for a reasonable amount of time?

No good at all.  A simple smell of old blotters betrays the truth.  DAYS after spraying, Eau Première’s basenotes are still stunning and on-message.  Change 105’s are barely there, and to make matters worse, barely Change 105.


No, my friends.  There are people who settle for less, but it is better not to be one of them.  I would rather spend the remnants of my dwindling check on two samples of Eau Première, than on a full bottle of Change 105.  And now that I think about it, maybe the same goes for real Kouros, over the other kind.

Sometimes we make mistakes.  Sometimes we erroneously regard a glass half-full of the real thing, as somehow being less than a glass brimming with a pale imitation.  But there is no requirement that we keep making the same mistake.

No, my friends.  Accept no substitutes.

When the cheap imitation walks by, strutting its stuff for what seems like a price which can’t be refused, refuse it.  Just suck it up, walk away, and come home to your tanuki.

You’ll be glad you did.


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

Sikkim Grlz


Real Sikkim girls – picture shamelessly stolen from Kelly Hollidays

I don’t think that I understood the whole Lush / Gorilla Perfumes concept until yesterday.  That’s when I smelled one of their earlier entries – Sikkim Girls – for the first time.

I was immediately transported back to a head-shop in a mall, somewhere in the 1970’s, where I purchased small vials of patchouli and sandalwood oils, as well as “other products” useful to juvenile delinquents of a longer-haired persuasion.  The smell of the place was exquisite – unforgettable.  I may have kept my money away from the girly florals back then, but I never forgot their odor.  And while I have since learned the glory and the name of jasmine absolute, it was not until I smelled Sikkim Girls that I realized when and where I had first smelled it.

Lush is – or aspires to be – the world’s head-shop.  Minus those “other products”, of course, but adding the brilliant concept of head-shop cosmetics, in a kind of Bath-and-Body-Works-with-piercings way.  Not surprising that these two stores reside in the same mall, albeit on opposite sides of the “international play-place”, where toddlers with genes from every corner of the planet share microbes from every corner of America.  Normally I shop on the rive droite, but thankfully, I did cross over to the rive gauche and stepped back in time.

Sniffing through their Gorilla Perfumes product lineup, the most obvious thing was that they’ve gotten better at what they do.  Everything seemed more plausible – more wearable – than the last time I had been in the store.  This is not to say that things had lost their brilliantly artisan edge.  The centerpiece sandalwood fragrance Smuggler’s Soul was every bit as intriguing to me as Breath of God was, the first time I set foot in Lush.  The difference is that the newer fragrance doesn’t invoke the immediate regret that I can’t wear it everywhere and anywhere that I might want to be.  Breath of God smelled like I’ve taken up smoking again.   Smuggler’s Soul smells like I have my clothes laundered at World Market.


Smuggler’s Soul deserves a bit of discussion.  It may not be “creamy” sandalwood, but it certainly is real sandalwood.  I was sorely tempted to buy it, and when one thinks about the costs of ethical sandalwood, versus the other kind (hence the name), the fragrance is actually quite a steal.  But – quite aproposSikkim Girls stole my heart.

The nice thing about Smuggler’s Soul is that less is more.  Rather than cover up the naturally restrained sandalwood – which is as criminal an act as latex paint on exotic hardwood – Smuggler’s Soul lets the subtle sandalwood be subtle.  Radiantly subtle, in a Timbuktu way, as pluran pointed out on Basenotes.

The other fragrances in the Lush lineup also deserve some mention.


Kerbside Violet is cute, and I think it’s perfect for the young ladies.  Just a bit of the grassy and the mineralic, it has a studied “almost innocence” that seems like a nice introduction to violet for the younger but still hipper crowd.  Personally, I like Bulgari’s approach to violet – “almost decadent”.  Bulgari Pour Femme and their various “Blv” juices are just plain classy/sexy to me.  They’re what Dad buys for Mom while Daughter shops at Lush.  And if Daughter buys Kerbside Violet, then Dad and Mom can high-five on weekend nights alone for a job well done.


Karma.  Wow.  Not really sure where to begin.  Perhaps with the admission that this is one of those great fragrances that I simply don’t like.  The salient point is that there is a totally high-perfumery opposition between orange and patchouli which puts this in a league with some real classics.  The problem for me is that this particular pairing simply doesn’t work.  I want to love the patchouli, and the orange gets in the way.  Insistently.  Annoyingly.  Disturbingly.  In exactly the same way that a lot of the greatest fragrances achieve their greatness.

I’m not convinced that I couldn’t come around to this fragrance.  But then again, why bother, when Sikkim Girls are winking and smiling?  Forget it!  See ya later, Karma!

There are others that were notable – and I sniffed them all.


Vanillary is – well – vanillary.  It’s certainly pleasant.  Didn’t really impress me, but very few vanilla fragrances do.  I can see a lot of people loving this, but I’m just not one of them.  In general, it takes an ornate vanilla like something from Creed or Guerlain to thrill me.  Maybe a classic like Givenchy Pi, or a new twist like Pi Neo.  B&BW and Lush are simply out of luck.

But I will say this.  If I see one more fragrance that throws a nod toward Hillary Clinton, who just got off for stuff that would have thrown me into federal prison, I think I’m going to puke.  I mean – really.

Typically it’s in the ad copy.   “Today’s empowered woman” seems to be the “me-too” brief of 2016.  But do not tell me for one second that the Hillary angle didn’t come up when Lush discussed the name of this scent at their annual meeting on a zip-line above the dolphin rescue park.

Please.  Somebody just make a frigging Hillary Clinton celebrity fragrance so that 90% of the fragrance world can gush about how it’s the first truly great celebrity fragrance.

Or am I just being cynical?  OK – I’m being cynical.  Let’s move on, shall we?  There’s a wee puddle of snark where I’m standing.

Ooooh.  Animalic!


All Good Things came close to getting my money.  I just love it when the fragrance matches the story so well.  But this is an absolutely great fragrance, which takes the citrus-and-pepper brilliance of fragrances like Blenheim Bouquet in a whole new direction – the happily poignant.  Very nice stuff.  I’m a sucker for a good black pepper note, and this has one.

I was about to take what probably would have been the “buy sniff” of this fragrance, when Sikkim Girls rose off the ad hoc test paper, mingled with my Spicebomb, and said “Are you sure your old girlfriend is exotic enough for you now?”

Of course, she – I mean they – had a point.  What was I thinking?


Very glad that the lovely sales associates at Lush got me to sniff this one.  Not a buy, and not even as interesting to me as the others, but still memorable, and recommended to be sniffed.  The ideas and odors of death and decay are perennial in perfume – not in a tired and cliché way, but in an essential way, that the best minds of fragrant composition are constantly trying to address.  Whether it’s mainstream creations like Eternity (heavy on floral death via indoles), or ultra-niche creations like Slumberhouse Mare (where the humid and the woody were used to good effect), there are no comments more insightful on the transience of perfume  – and everything else – than perfume’s own  comments on transience.

Worth reading the backstory on this one here.

I smelled some of the others, but nothing really stood out.

Dear John was nice.  Reassuring and nostalgic?  Check and check.

Sun was very enjoyable.  Sniff it – please.  I’m almost angry that Sikkim Girls lured me away from Sun, but hey.  THEY’RE SO AWESOME.

I don’t think I smelled Lust.  Or did I?  If I did, it didn’t catch my fancy.

Dirty?  W. T. F.!  It smells clean!  Is that the joke?  Whatever.  Not my type.  NOT DIRTY.

And now we get down to the WE MADE THE BUY stuff.


My wife is a rose lover, and this was a great way to get her something new in her favorite floral type.  The story on this one is nice and innocent, but the fragrance itself does contain a touch of ambrette, so it has some real depth to it.  Not as much depth as something like Rose Rebelle, with its rose / cacao / ambrette explosion, but depth nonetheless.  The overall fragrance strikes me as a cross between the old Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose (typically $10 in Marshall’s) and Creed’s ornate Fleurs de Bulgarie.  A combination of raw and refined, but both of them rich and full.

There is HUGE complexity here – and yet it’s a pure rose fragrance, stylistically.  Most of this complexity comes from the use of rose absolutes, but there are clearly some pushes, pulls, and assists from supporting components.  Not sure why, but I smelled a bit of violet in the mix, the first time I sniffed it.  Your mileage may vary on that one – don’t worry.  It may just be my imagination.

So – the time has arrived.  THEY are here…..




As soon as I smelled this, I knew it was going to be bought.  My first urge upon leaving the mall wasn’t to spray myself – it was to spray my car.  I wanted to be utterly surrounded with this fragrance, and spot-spraying my own body simply wasn’t good enough.

What does Sikkim Girls smell like?

It smells like a chapter in Jitterbug Perfume.  I don’t even want to know which one.  Maybe all of them.

It smells like patchouli without patchouli.  Spikenard without spikenard.  India without India, and maybe even Sikkim without Sikkim.  It’s like the zen of removing the last stone, and discovering – shockingly – that there’s still something left.  All it is, is dirty flowers, and yet it smells like everything else.

There is some serious smart going on in this fragrance, but it’s as destined to be lost, unrecognized and forgotten, as was the artisan overachievement of Spiritual Sky fragrance oils, now only wisps of dead-head-ish lore in the internet annals of hippie fragrance – referred to lovingly in overly texty posts by gray-beards and white-hairs who actually used Usenet and don’t know what in the **** Pinterest and Instagram are.

The story behind Sikkim Girls is simultaneously essential and needless, like a trade advertisement for inspiration in perfumery.  Nobody is going to truly appreciate it, except the people who already understand.  The backstory to the fragrance is wasted on us – not because it isn’t true, but because the exact story of the inspiration matters far less than the fact that somebody actually bothered to care, in an age when caring doesn’t translate to most people’s bottom line.

A flick of the hips and a knowing smile

Subtle, seductive, heady, exotic, floral. Inspired by the Sikkim girls, soft sirens who seduced a Darjeeling café owner’s son-in-law, simply with the subtle and sensual sway of their bodies. The frangipani, jasmine, vanilla and tuberose conjure up exotic climes and heady possibilities. It may rest lightly on your skin, but beware the undercurrents it may stir within.

Actually, it’s a little more complex than that.

Sikkim Girls is a fragrance that was inspired by stories regaled to us by sitarist Sheema Mukherjee, who collaborates often with Simon Emmerson to create our Spa soundtracks. Whilst travelling in India, she heard rumours of the Himalayan Sikkim Girls; women so entrancing that, dressed from head to toe, they could seduce a man with just the subtle sway of their hips. The perfume is sensual, heady and floral. Exquisite jasmine, tuberose and frangipani absolutes to create an intoxicating fragrance that whispers of the exotic women that inspired it.

OK – I give up.  There’s even more to the story.  From Sarah English’s Pinterest:

New Gorilla Perfume – Sikkim Girls – Musician and composer Sheema Mukherjee was inspired after she had an experience with the Sikkim Girls. While hanging out in the oddly named ‘Hot Stimulating Café’ in Darjeeling, the café owner warned Sheema to stay away from the dangerous Sikkim Girls. When asked why, the owner said they had seduced and stolen away his son-in-law. Somehow they had accomplished this whilst covered head-to-toe and simply with a subtle yet sexual sway of their bodies.

To say that Lush took this all quite seriously is an enjoyable understatement.  For your multi-sensory, multi-art pleasure, we present the video evidence…


I mean, really – what is life without the “art tent”?

Unenjoyable at best.  Better a thousand cringeable moments of uncomfortable seating, bad acoustics, and one face-palm stage debacle after another, than to go through life without the wonderful moments of art joy which link them all together.

So let’s talk about the fragrance, and try to make some sense of our emotional response.

Floriental is an apt description, though perhaps a bit misleading, because there is nothing overtly oriental, in the normal ways of perfume construction, about it.  Sikkim Girls is rabidly floral, and yet it seems to dodge the cliché attributes of both the standard floral feminine, and the standard unisex oriental, by letting all the non-floral debris and detritus of the floral absolutes take center stage, thereby alleging themselves to be something – say – oriental.

Is there patchouli in it, assisting the floral dirtiness?  Some noses familiar with Gorilla Perfumes think so.  There is certainly a chyprish harmony emerging from the massive florality which makes me suspect it.  However, it is not a patch bomb by any means, and that is what really makes this one stand out in its genre.

Is there spikenard in it?  It certainly has the “patchouli without patchouli” feel of spikenard, and yet I am not picking up the classic spikenard note that appears so overtly in L’Eau de Jatamansi, and so subtly in Creed Himalaya.  Part of my thinks that Lush would list a component as worthy as spikenard, and part of me thinks they would be wise to leave it under the protective umbrella of “fragrance”, which is actually listed ahead of jasmine absolute on the bottle.  Not having ever smelled spikenard in such a powerfully floral concoction before, I simply have to admit that I probably couldn’t identify it, even if it’s there.

Whatever.  Sikkim Girls is supposed to smell exotically Himalayan, and it does.  And don’t just take my word for it.  Beyond the reviews on Basenotes, you won’t do much better than Jessica’s review on Now Smell This.

Basenotes lists this fragrance as unisex, and I feel the same.  Although Sikkim Girls is massively floral, I hesitate to call it “feminine”, in the same way that I hesitate to call head-shops, waterbeds, pot pipes, Indian rose incense, or love-beads “feminine”.  Any guy who likes jasmine, patchouli, or exotic fragrances with an Indian or Himalayan vibe, will find reason to consider this fragrance.

There was an Iranian guy on Basenotes, years ago, who was on a holy quest of some kind to find the ultimate “boozy jasmine”.  I have no idea where he is now, but I am pretty darn sure I found his fragrance.

Boozy jasmines are useful – and in more ways than just being worn themselves.  I am really looking forward to layering this thing with all sorts of insufficiently floral masculines.  One of my favorite layering fragrances is Céline Ellena’s Jasmin de Nuit, which can and does add a nice floral character to anything.  But whereas that fragrance is clear and transparent, Sikkim Girls is much richer and deeply floral, making it more assertive in combination.

Definitely one of the more unusual scents in my collection.


There is one question, however, which is still to be considered.  A question that bothered me, until I took some time to answer it.

Is this story about “Sikkim girls” even slightly true?  Or is this entire fragrance built on some sort of lie?  You know.  Like certain fragrances that the wife and I are quite partial toward, and which may or may not have ever involved use by European nobility.

You know what I’m sayin’?

And things could be even worse than that.  What if this is all one big slander against the young women of Sikkim?  What if these “stealthy sirens” are actually innocent young things – the original valley girls – who love boys with motorcycles and cars and can’t wait to go to the centuries-old equivalent of prom?  What if they are in fact sweet young girls, who rescued some poor, hapless boy from an arranged marriage to the wicked daughter of a tyrannical restaurant owner?

See what I mean?  We have to open our minds here.

Well, I’m happy to report that, in the words of “Mythbusters”, we have to call this one – at the very least – plausible.  I’m not sure HOW it’s plausible, but it’s plausible.

Here goes.

Judging by the fur-rimmed hats, braided hair, and characteristic dress of the ladies on the label, they are likely to be Bhutias – a Tibetan people who speak Sikkimese, a Tibetan language which is partially intelligible to speakers of both standard Tibetan and the Bhutanese language, Dzongkha.

The Bhutia are considered to be one of the three main ethnic groups in Sikkim today, and one of the two indigenous peoples of Sikkim, along with the Lepcha, with whom there has been some degree of diplomatic intermarriage over the years.   That being said, the ethnographic history of Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan is rather complex, and – in my humble opinion – calling anybody there indigenous becomes a bit of a stretch.  However, it can be stated with certainty that those two older and somewhat allied peoples – the Bhutia and the Lepcha (pictures #3 and #2 above) – are the predominant inhabitants of the more mountainous and sparsely populated North Sikkim today.  These groups are also present as both residents of and visitors to Darjeeling, where the story behind Sikkim Girls takes place.

The demographics of North Sikkim include a sex ratio of 769 females for every 1000 males, which is closely linked to the historical prevalence of polyandry (and particularly fraternal polyandry) in the Himalayan region.  Apparently, the practice hasn’t died out completely, although it has certainly declined in favor of increasingly monogamous marriage.  One source, however, considered it quite common even in the 1990’s, particularly in the high-valley back-country, and goes into great detail about the rules of polygamous marriage among the Bhutia and Lepcha.

So – gender and sex relations in Sikkim are indeed a bit different.  We do need to be careful about passing judgment here, with our Western biases.  But the real question remains simple.  Would some exotic Bhutia-Lepcha hillbilly girls actually seduce and run off with a (presumably) non-Bhutia son-in-law, working at his father-in-law’s restaurant?

Well, it is true, apparently, that husbands in Sikkimese cultures may be forced to live with and possibly work for the bride’s parents, as horrible as that may seem.  And – apparently – divorce in Sikkim is relatively straightforward, rarely going to court.  So it looks like the son-in-law may have had means, motive, AND opportunity.

But would he cross ethnic lines?  That is a bigger question.  Thirty years ago, I might have thought not, but today?  Sikkim is definitely in a state of ethnic and cultural flux – and even more so after it became part of India.  As Satyendra Shukla put it (cited here)

Thus, Sikkim these days is a big cultured laboratory, where different blends are being mixed up and a synthetic culture part Bhutia, part Nepali and part Indian – is coming up.

This is not to say that ethnic assimilation in Sikkim has been rapid, with one recent analysis actually concluding the opposite.  However, any slowness of cultural blending needs to be considered within the high degree of inter-ethnic tolerance and neighborliness which Sikkim is known for.  But I would still say, that, once Sikkim became part of India, an accelerated cultural blending was probably not just inevitable , but irreversible.

Thus, at this point, we are left with a single question.  Would young and foolish members of these traditionally separated ethnic groups decide to chuck convention to the wind and ….. well…. WHATEVER?

Ha.  Young people.  Do the math on THAT ONE.

So what is the point of it all?


Yes.  I said it.  Nothing.

We need to be honest here.  There is no point to fragrance.  There is no point to the story about WHY a fragrance was made, nor even to whether that story is true or false.

Fragrance.  Doesn’t.  Matter.

And yet fragrance, like showing up in the “Hot Stimulating Café” in Darjeeling, and stealing the owner’s son-in-law – for good or bad – is fun, and occasionally exciting.  It does something to make the universe – at the very least – more interesting.  And tonight, as I sit here sniffing a bunch of liquids in bottles, including one called Sikkim Girls, that’s enough.

Stay fragrant, my fellow perfumaniacs.  Stay fragrant.




Posted in Art, Computers, Entertainment, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, History, Internet, Music, News and politics, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Red’s Ultimate Fragrance Blogroll Post


The time has come to do something useful in this life.  And at this very moment, I am struck by the need for somebody to create a simple travel guide to the world of fragrance.  Something useful to newcomers.  Something that turns fragrance n00bs into sought-after opinions in as short a time as possible.

I have been blessed to know many wonderful people who have written many wonderful things.  However, I’ve never compiled a bibliography of my favorites sources – despite having promised on numerous occasions to do so.

Enough.  The time is now.  And to make sure that this project doesn’t falter, I’m going to put it out immediately, and just add a bit more each day.

Here goes.  Kinda rough, but it’s a start.

Version 2016.06.27.0 (30 links)
Version 2016.06.27.1 (37 links)
Version 2016.06.27.2 (45 links)
Version 2016.06.27.3 (47 links)
Version 2016.06.27.4 (52 links)
Version 2016.06.28.0 (57 links)
Version 2016.06.28.1 (58 links)
Version 2016.06.29.0 (68 links)

Well – it looks like I am getting a lot of good suggestions for additional links from my fellow Basenoters.  The list is growing!

Version 2016.07.02.0 (75 links)
Version 2016.07.17.0 (80 links)
Version 2016.07.17.1 (87 links)
Version 2016.07.18.0 (89 links)
Version 2016.07.23.0 (95 links)
Version 2016.07.23.1 (97 links)
Version 2016.07.26.0 (101 links)



Fragrance Communities (English Language)

Basenotes –

Fragrantica –

Parfumo –



Fragrance Communities (German Language)

Parfumo –



Fragrance Connoisseurs and Authorities (Published)

Chandler Burr (Personal Site) –

Denyse Beaulieu (Grain de Musc) –

Elena Vosnaki (Perfume Shrine) –

Luca Turin (Niche Reviews) –

Luca Turin (Fashion Reviews) –

Philip Kraft (Fragrance Chemist) –



Fragrance Pro Bloggers & Journalists (PR / New Releases)

Bois de Jasmin –

Ca Fleure Bon –

Colognoisseur –

Daly Beauty –

EauMG –

Katie Puckrik –

Now Smell This –

Perfume Posse –

Scented Salamander –



Fragrance Web-zines

Auparfum (French) –

Nez: La Revue Olfactive (French) –

The Whale & The Rose –

Sniffapalooza –

The Perfume Magazine –



Fragrance Bloggers, Reviewers & Critics (Prose)

Bigsly Fragrance –

The Black Narcissus –

A Bottled Rose –

The Candy Perfume Boy –

Civet Cinema –

Fragrance Daily –

Kafkaesque –

Mad Perfumista –

Il Mondo di Odore –

I Make Scents –

iridescents –

Memory of Scent –

Monsieur Guerlain –

Nero Profumo –

Nick Gilbert –

Olfactics –

Perfume Polytechnic –

Perfume-Smellin’ Things –

Persolaise –

Pink Manhattan (Perfume & Politics) –

Pour Monsieur –

À La Recherche –

scenthurdle –

The Silver Fox –

SmellyBlog –

Sorcery of Scent –

Take One Thing Off –

Té de Violetas –

Ye Olde Civet Cat –

(many more coming…)



Fragrance Bloggers, Reviewers & Critics (Video)

Brooklyn Fragrance Lover –

Dracdoc –

Fragrance Bros. –

FragReviews –

Marc (robes08) –

(many more coming…)



Designer Houses

Chanel (USA) –

Hermès (USA) –

YSL Beauty (USA) –



Niche Houses

Ayala Moriel –

Creed (USA) –

Slumberhouse –



Defunct Blogs

1000 Fragrances –

Arôme d’Ailleurs –

Olfactoria’s Travels –

Perfume Glossary –



Interesting Articles

Oakmoss in Perfume (Wired Magazine) –

Olfactory Perception and Biology (Nautilus) –



BBC Documentary: Perfume

Episode Guide – BBC Four – Perfume –

Part 1 – Something Old, Something New –

Part 2 – Bottling the Memory –

Part 3 – The Smell of the Future –




Cassell’s Directory of Scented Plants – David Squire –

The Chemistry of Fragrances: From Perfumer to Consumer – Charles S. Sell –

Common Fragrance and Flavor Materials: Preparation, Properties and Uses – Surburg and Panten –

The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession – Chandler Burr –

The Essence of Perfume – Roja Dove –

Folio Columns – 2003-2014 – Luca Turin –

A Garden of Fragrance – Suzy Bales –

Jasmine – Marie-Christine Grasse –

The New Perfume Handbook – Nigel Groom –

The Perfect Scent – Chandler Burr –

Perfume – Stamelman’s classic –

The Perfume Lover – Denyse Beaulieu –

Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution – Arcadi Boix Camps –

Perfumes – The A-Z Guide – Luca Turin & Tania Sanchez –

Perfume: The Alchemy of Scent – Jean-Claude Ellena –

Scent and Chemistry – Ohloff, Pickenhagen & Kraft –

The Secret of Chanel No. 5 – Tilar J. Mazzeo –

The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell – Luca Turin –

Understanding Fragrance Chemistry – Charles Sell –




Perfume Sales – Discounters

FragranceNet –

FragranceX –

Perfumania –




Perfume Sales – Niche

Beautyhabit –

Indie Scents –

Lucky Scent –

MiN NY –

Parfums Raffy –



Posted in Blogging, Books, Fashion, Fragance, Fragrance Reviews, Hobbies, Internet | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Four Dudes, a Classy Dame, and a Boozy Babe

….OTHERWISE known as Field Notes from Cowtown – this week’s ruberrific report on my spectacular sniffing experiences, out in the real world of designer fragrance, in the malls of flyover country.

But first, a message from our sponsor’s required movie of the day’s fragrance outing:


If I tell you that this movie is hilariously witty, smart and perfect, then spray me down with Sécrétions Magnifiques as punishment for understatement.  I normally DESPISE the prospect of being dragged by my dear wife to the anglophile counterparts of jidaigeki (Japanese historical dramas).  So it was with rather low expectations that I discovered that not only can Kate Beckinsale act without black leather, but she can deliver an Oscar-worthy performance that sets a new standard for lovable anti-villains.

The story is wonderful – I refuse to spoil anything about it.  The dialog is crisp and filled with humor on every level.  My favorite quip, delivered in sociopathic earnest by Beckinsale: “Facts are such horrid things.”  Oh, my.  You can’t miss this one.

OK – where were we?  Fragrance!  Yes!

And what better way to start, than with one of my favorite houses – C H A N E L


Chanel Allure Homme Sport Cologne.  As opposed to the old version, known as Chanel Allure Homme Sport Cologne Sport.  Yes.  They took the second Sport off the bottle, changed the sizes, and fluffed the marketing.  And that’s probably it.

There was some question on Basenotes as to whether there was a reformulation, or more accurately, a detectable reformulation.  Several members said no change in the scent, and I have to concur – at least in the opening.  If there actually was some tweakage, it was not readily apparent to my nose.

It was refreshing to smell this scent, nice and new, one more time.  My bottle is 8 years old, and the topnotes are – to put it nicely – GONE.  Well, not entirely true.  But the brilliance is gone.  Well, not entirely true.  The brilliance is MOSTLY GONE.  Yes – that’s it.  And it’s VERY noticeable.

Not sure I want to get a fresh bottle, but nice to know that I can.

And speaking of fresh…


Thierry Mugler A*Men Ultra Zest.   I was interested in this scent, because one of the perfumers, Quentin Bisch, was a perfumer trainee featured in the wonderful BBC documentary, Perfume.  Bisch, as a complete n00b, was extremely compelling in his earnest desire to become a perfumer.  I always hoped he would make it through the training, and go on to do something neat and distinctive – AND HE DID!

The first time I smelled this, some time ago, I don’t think I really got it.  But this time – yes – I loved it.  So did my wife.  Zesty is about right.  A prickly, spicy, textured, citric freshness infused into the usual A*Men wall of olfactory sound.  Granted – we’re just talking some paper in the store, and that is NOT the way to judge any kind of A*Men flanker – BECAUSE BASE.  But still – topnotes on paper is Hurdle One.  Good job!

Moving along…..



Yes.  Spicebomb Extreme.

Who did this one?  That’s what I want to know.  I got my first sniff of it, and YES – they actually made an “extreme” flanker that deserves the title.  In fact, the very beginning on paper is so strong, it’s a bit funky and off-putting, and it takes a very old-school moment for the scent to assemble itself into something that makes sense.


I remember thinking that Valentino Uomo – which I love in a gift set way – was a bit like Starbucks Dark Barrel Latte in a fragrance (only perhaps a bit better and more perfume-ready).  Well, it almost seems like Viktor & Rolf took some of THAT – then took some of the figgy Tom Ford oudy oomph from Extreme, Noir, and Black Orchid, and blended it all into Spicebomb.  YOWZA.  Now THAT is some stuff.

Not sure it’s on the “buy” list, but this one will go on the “buyable” list without further inspection.

Well – is there anything left to do after the daisycutter of Spicebomb Extreme goes off?  Yes there is!


You steal somebody’s graphic – probably from THIS YouTube video – and weigh in on the question of what happened to YSL La Nuit de L’Homme.

As the owner of a très vintage bottle of Nuit de L’Homme, I’m very interested in whether a new bottle is going to be as satisfying as my old one.  Based on what I smelled, I would say satisfying, but perhaps not AS satisfying.

The part that I really love – the cool, sweet, coumarinic fougère accord, not present in the original YSL L’Homme, is still there.  In fact, if anything, THAT part has been improved.  It seems clearer, sharper, and more thoughtfully crafted.  There was also a certain unfinished, scratchy aspect of the older formulation that seemed to peek around the main accord, and I always felt that this detail was a weakness.  When people first discussed the scent upon launch, the unfinished aspect bothered more people than just me.  So removing it?  NOT A PROBLEM.

However, cleaning the scent up came at a price.  Some of the DNA of the original L’Homme, which persisted in the older formulation of La Nuit de L’Homme, seems gone now.  Everything I was smelling on paper, from opening well into the drydown, seems to echo what was said on the linked video.  There is a change, it’s significant, and it’s not going to be to everybody’s liking.  This is a case where vintage matters.

And then we had to go.  But not before I pulled away from the wife, near the women’s section, grabbed a tester, and got what I needed.  ONE.  MORE.  SPRAY.


Well, well, well.  I don’t know when they start serving THIS ONE at Starbucks, but when they do, I’m ALL OVER IT.

Yes.  Imagine taking Valentino “Starbucks Dark Barrel Latte” Uomo and somehow turning the beer and coffee into lipstick and cherry liqueur, and BAM – you got it.  Girls – this stuff is awesome.  The only question is whether you’re confident enough to back it up.  This is a head-turner.

The thing that’s really neat about this scent is that it checks all the girly boxes on the aggressive side, without actually being aggressive.  It’s basically “Oh.  Pardon my physical beauty.  I didn’t mean to make you look.”  Or in this case, sniff and turn your head.

Donna is……

  • Womanly without being matronly
  • Young without being immature
  • Sexy without being pornographic
  • Boozy without being barfly
  • Upscale without being elitist
  • Pure without being inexperienced
  • Powerful without being intimidating
  • Confident without being pushy

Like Spicebomb, another Nordstrom exclusive, Donna has “Nordstrom values” written all over it.  See the list above.  It’s not exactly surprising that Nordies chose this scent to put in their prime aisle-end real estate in the women’s section.

One of the things I find most amazing about this scent is how well the scent echoes the packaging and color (or vice versa).  The fragrance has clarity but not full transparency – just like the bottle.  Not cloudy – more like refractive.  It’s pink, but more like stone, or sky, and less like something in the window at Victoria’s Secret.  It’s VERY sweet – but ABSOLUTELY not in the usual tooth-aching, sugary, Hello Kitty way.

Last but not least – the scent dries down very nicely, holding itself together immaculately.  WOW. Impressive.

I don’t know if this one is going to steal any fans of Angel, but it’s probably going to find its way onto many dressers, right next to the blue star.

I really, really want to buy this.  The trouble is, the entire scent and package is just wrong, wrong, wrong for my wife.  I actually do know a woman who this scent is perfect for, however….

OK – maybe not.  How about a REAL woman!


OK.  I give up.

Actually, there’s a great scene where Lady Susan frags up with a REALLY interesting antique “travel splash” – and then places the perfume bottle on her nightstand in the guest bedroom.  I can’t find an actual picture of that moment, but I can get one from the same scene.  Note the wooden vanity case in the background.  The bottle is inside it.


OK – enough about Jane Austen characters.

Or maybe not.

For our last scent, we leave Nordstrom, and go to Tiffany.  Now – mind you – I’ve smelled all four fragrances in Tiffany ten times over.  I own two of them – Tiffany for Men and Tiffany for Men Sport.  I even have the after-shave balm for the former.  But let’s talk about the ladies’ scents.

The older Tiffany – the implied pour femme – is almost the opposite of Valentino Donna, albeit in a good way.  It’s just plain old-school.  It’s very, very, very Tiffany.  This is not a girl’s scent by any means.  It’s a great one, but it demands a LOT of gravitas, which most younger women simply don’t carry around in sufficient mass quantities.  Lady Susan could pull it off.  Her daughter, Frederica?  Not really seeing it.

But then there’s Frederica’s perfect scent, which her mom steals when she needs to pass as a human being.  And that scent is….


No, wait.  That’s Frederica.  Sorry.  Here we go!


Pure Tiffany.  Great scent, which my wife loves.  A fresh, clean, youthful floral that has plenty of gravitas, but not so much that a young woman of character can’t pull it off.  There is just a hint of skanky indolic floral badness underneath all the innocent goodness – but it certainly doesn’t spoil things.  This one is almost painfully Chanel-like – and yet it’s – well – pure Tiffany.  I don’t know if Coco is secretly jealous that this scent isn’t hers, but she has to be giving Tiffany an “attaboy” for getting it into their world.

I think that my wife actually gave an under-the table blessing for me to buy this for her – and I really think I have to, at some point, before it’s too late.  I would definitely regret not grabbing a bottle while it’s still possible.  Truly a fabulous fragrance.

OK – that’s it.  Moral?  Hmmmm.

There are stories to be told, and scents to be smelled.  Sometimes, it’s almost the same thing.  So just enjoy them!  Together.  I think that’s the twelfth commandment, come to think of it.  Book of Creed.  My favorite gospel!

Because, after all.  Facts ARE such horrid things.  And stories, like fragrance, are such beautiful lies!


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