When I was talking about my full bottle perfume wardrobe (God, isn’t that such a lovely phrase?) I believe I made it clear that my preference these days is decidedly for purchasing decants or relatively small mL volumes of the perfumes I want to have on hand.
I’ve too many fragrances at this point to wear any single perfume with any great regularity and I don’t want to fall into the trap of having a volume of perfume beyond my life expectancy…
Add to that that decants are more easily storable and travel well, and it’s a bit of a no-brainer. I make exceptions for vintages and limited editions, where the possibility of replenishing one’s stash is slimmer.
Part One of my decant list contains my choices from the Dior and Chanel private collections, both of which I find to be consistently well done. And no, I have not tried the entirety of both lines (and there are scents from both that I want but have not yet acquired- stories for another day).
Bois d’Argent: Dior
Bois d’Argent is one of the easiest and most wearable incense scents. The myrrh is paired with powdery-rooty iris with that peppery undertone and a bit of honey. I like the split between cool and warm in this fragrance, both myrrh and iris can read as both to me. It’s not necessarily a powerful fragrance, but its one of those things I’m able to put on with essentially no thought. I remember testing it first in the late fall and being disappointed by its lack of oomph. And then at a ballroom practice that evening I kept catching amazing wafts of it as my climbing body heat caused the notes (honey in particular) to perk up. the rest, as they say, is history.
Similar: Iris Taizo/Oriental by Parfumerie Generale
In my previous post about full bottles I expressed how happy I would be to have little girls named Shalimar and Mitsouko running around. Well, I would be just as happy with a little baby Mitzah. This is an excellent spicy amber incense. There’s cinnamon, honey (I like the honey), and other nice stuff. But the incense-spice-amber accord is the primary appeal. It’s not a powdery spicy but a raspier spicy. I had a sample of this from a friend (this was the end of 12th grade, year 2013) and put off trying it because I didn’t believe it could live up to the hype I had been hearing. And it didn’t on first wearing. But I wore it a fair amount and fell hopelessly in love. I bought a decant amid rumors of discontinuation just a week or two after (it doesn’t seem to have ever been removed from the lineup, but I could be wrong) and wore it a ton that summer. It’s an airy enough amber incense that I believe it can be worn year round. Even on those hot days when the only thing you can do is lounge on a futon in your living room watching The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly because Clint Eastwood without water in the desert may be the one unfortunate being hotter than you are. I wore this perfume fairly exclusively the week of my high school graduation.
Similar: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens
Oud Ispahan: Dior
Oud Ispahan was a quick love. And then I fell out of love. And then I fell in love again. It’s not a skanky cheese barnyard oud (I like those too- The Night by Frederic Malle and Oud Caravan by La Via del Profumo are both endlessly appealing) but rather a cuddle musk oud. Cuddle musk is one of my musk classifications. Not white musk, not sweaty salty musk, but that smell you get with small animal fur, a nice warm cuddly smell. The rose note is a happy medium between syrupy and powdery- not too sweet and thick, not too cosmetic. Never truly an Arabian fragrance, but it’s Dior, so I don’t imagine one would expect such an uncharacteristic thing from them. After falling in love with this, we overcame our recent strife when I wore it to an outdoor screening of Despicable Me.
I fine Oud Ispahan, like the two above, to be wearable essentially year round, from setting off fireworks in the summer to bundling up to study before winter finals. The Dior Private Collection, like the Chanel Exclusifs (which follow) offers refined and classical compositions that it’s hard to find at a bad moment. They work in most situations and most weathers. Pretty ideal casually elegant fragrances, in my mind. Just need to pick out the ones that most appeal. 🙂
Bois des Iles: Chanel
A friend decanted some of the vintage for me, so I’m not sure how it compares to the current. Bois des Iles is perhaps that only woody scent that I get along with and can call my own. And even describing Bois des Iles ‘woody’ is a stretch, as it is so much more than that. It’s a glitteringly aldehydic sandalwood with uplifting floral touches, particularly jasmine (don’t as me to rhapsodize about the Chanel jasmine note, I don’t think I’ve found a jasmine note yet that strikes me as being distinctly true to life, like the sublime Venetian star jasmine breezes or the sniffs of my father’s blooming jasmine vines stolen on beaming summer days- I’ll rhapsodize about the true jasmine flower, but never yet about a jasmine fragrance). Bois des Iles sometimes reminds me of that beautiful scent of dry dead leaves in the fall, how they’re a bit sweet, cool, and windswept. And then sometimes I catch that much-discussed gingerbread gleam.
I’m a fan of patchouli. And this is a very well-mannered patchouli. It has some green facets, but mostly a dampening down effect provided by powdered cocoa. A powdery patchouli cocoa scent. And also wearable essentially year round (I don’t fine Bois des Iles warm enough for the winter, though it’s the scent I habitually wear to ballroom competitions). Lest anyone should dismiss this for being patchouli-prominent, I feel like I have to say what so many others have said before. This fragrance is so refined that the aspects of patchouli that cause some concern are fairly absent. But I feel a bit of an imposter making these assurances, as I’m fond of patchouli. As evidenced by the following.
Montale and Mancera… though neither of these are oud fragrances, that is what these brands are known for. Well, that and exceedingly powerful sillage and longevity. If you want the wake of your fragrance to be more or less on the scale of the wake of the Titanic, these are for you. Handle with caution.
Patchouli Leaves: Montale
For those days when Coromandel is hopelessly demure and you need something with a bit more prominent a backbone to prop you up, this may be the ticket. The patchouli here has been described as dark and muddy and dank, but I don’t find it to be so at all (who says such cruel things?) Instead, the presence of amber and vanilla add a treacle/molasses touch, a chewy gummy amber resin feel, a glow that keeps what might have been a dark and harsh fragrances as smoothing and lit-from-within as a nice homey little den.
Roses Vanille: Mancera
A bit of a guilty pleasure, this one. And far from always suitable. But some wintery evenings you need a strong fluffy powdery girly rose lit up like neon. It’s powdery vanilla-sweet rose, big, blowsy, something you could wade through and climb on top of like pink swan’s down. One of those with the half-life of uranium. Keep it off of your clothes, for god’s sake. It also insinuates itself in the air like nobody’s business. A bit of a caricature, but also great fun.
Similar: Intense Cafe by Montale
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