Day Two of my armory of decants, during which we roll out the big guns. Well, not exactly… I don’t have many cannons, but I do have ‘bigger guns’ than the tiny ladylike pearl-handled revolvers handled yesterday. No disrespect to Chanel and Dior; sometimes a dainty pearl-handled revolver is just the thing one needs to complete the mood.
Well, that was a tangent. And a tangent that shouldn’t be read as an assertion of the feminine nature of yesterday’s fragrances. Men can carry off dainty pearl-handled revolvers just as well. Handsomely.
And the latter two scents discussed in Part One are more in line with today’s offerings, which include my Amouages, among other things.
Gold Man: Amouage
Gold Man may very well be my favorite Amouage. Don’t get me wrong, I like Gold Woman fine- she’s operatic and larger-than-life in a way that sort of reminds me of a primadonna hippo. And I mean that in a completely positive way. Gold Woman is glorious. Maybe it’s ties to Disney’s Fantasia, with the ballet hippos. But Gold Woman is definitely more opera than ballet. All damask and armored breastplates, no tulle.
And then Gold Man is velvet. A lovely powdered, almost cosmetic civet. It’s luxurious, sumptuous, all that. A kind of literal creature comfort. If some scents smell like sleeping kittens, this gives an idea of what it might be to cuddle up with a sleeping lion. Golden, soft, glowing, and a teensy bit feral.
Beloved Woman: Amouage
This is perhaps more in line with the vibe I get from Gold Woman, but I personally prefer it. Gold Woman’s aldehydes die on me too quickly. But Beloved’s immortelle-soaked spicy incense rose cocoons me in a perfume bubble for hours. Operatic like Gold Woman, damask, also with a heavy dose of civet and musk. It’s an unapologetically perfume-y perfume, wand the world needs more of those. Beloved Woman and Gold Man… I would say that neither contain quite enough breathing room to be comfortable summer scents for me… but I’m not saying never. Beloved is gold-yellow glowing in color, glamorous, with flashes of peridot green. Have to love a perfume that not only has the courage of its convictions, but says them pretty damn loud.
And that closes out my Amouages, though as with Chanel and Dior there are others I would like to eventually add to the family. Amouage fragrances, in my mind, have a shared character (though it seems to be less noticeable in more recent releases). They perform well and are carefully crafted. Round and complete fragrances in and of themselves, introducing ideas and completing them. There are a few other brands that do this (another list?)… I’ve been using the adjective operatic, but perhaps a more apt word is symphonic. Many various fragments pieced together to make a rather grand whole.
Here’s one that one would expect to have an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ sort of scent from the epic notes list, but its in fact a gorgeous and well-choreographed specimen of a common theme (see also Ambre Narguile by Hermes, Brecourt Haram/Farah, L’Erbolario Dolcelisir, Helium Nu_Be, Oajan by Perfumes de Marly, and many more). If you’re not familiar with these, I’ll give a brief description: sweet, nutty spicy dried fruit amber with a whole lot of honey. Mahjoun is my favorite- the dried fruit is ramped up slightly and it is undoubtedly thicker than many of the former. You have not simply put on a perfume but anointed yourself with a syrupy dessert. Perhaps not for you if you don’t like gourmands. Unlike Serge Lutens’ syrupy fruit creation, Arabie, the DSH eschews the savory scent of curry for honeyed nuts (or nutty honey). It’s a harmonious blend of numerous powerful essences creating a warm honeyed dessert, the perfect treatment for the winter blues, and the perfect accompaniment to many breezy autumn days.
I figured it would be kind to group the honeyed fruit scents together, so Botrytis tails Mahjoun. If Mahjoun was a dessert, Botrytis is a drink- it omits the solid notes, exchanging them instead for rather more honey and a good sight more dried fruit and fruit nectar. It’s shimmery and glisten-y and lovely in the fall (but I prefer a bit more substance in winter.
Tendre Madeleine: Laurence Dumont
A criminally underrated gourmand cheapy. Xerjoff’s Lira is brilliant. It’s also $345 for 100 mL at Luckyscent. Molinard Iles d’Or is a good-ish substitute, but I can’t find it online and I found it rather grating during the first hour or so when I wore it. Tendre Madeleine is, on Amazon, $39 for 100 mL. And here’s the thing. I like it better than Lira. If you’ve ever had madeleines, it smells like madeleines. If you haven’t, I’ll try to describe them but promise I will never do as excellent a job as Proust did. Madeleines are this lovely, traditionally shell-shaped pastry cookie/small cake. They taste and smell of cinnamon, vanilla, spices, nuts, and a pinch of lemon. Sometimes the brain or heart hands down a moral imperative: “Today you must smell like a cookie.” Who are we to argue?
Incensed: Smell Bent
Smell Bent never ceases to amuse and amaze me. They generally do surprising things, and sometimes those things are surprising in a good way. First a disclaimer- this item is sort of cheating. I don’t have a decant, I have a dram of the oil, but it felt right to include it here because it’s a small volume. I prefer the oil to the spray. Though originally I hated both. It’s a very thick and syrupy incense. Not smoke so much as an incense-y and vanillic tar. I’m having a hard time explaining what it is I love. To think about it the right way I had to significantly shift my expectations. April Aromatics Calling All Angels is vaguely similar in the syrupy incense feel. But the April Aromatics is a reserved lightweight compared to this elixir. It just kind of takes good sense and convention and chucks them and its splendid.
Ambre Russe: Parfum d’Empire
This is also cheating because I recently ran out. I used the last of it at the Harvard ballroom competition in April. It’s a spicy amber thick with booze. Now, I don’t drink. Alcohol plays havoc with my mood and rhythms and whatnot. But I’m definitely familiar with the smell. Coffee and alcohol, both drinks I don’t imbibe but find to have lovely scents. While I don’t wear perfumes with a strong coffee note well (I got enough of that when I went undercover as a Starbucks barista), strong alcohol notes make me happy. Maybe because they remind me of partying rather than slaking the thirst of countless harassed Boston commuters and tourists.
I have to be honest. I’m considering not replenishing my decant. The scent is, in some ways, slightly too harsh for me. Farther toward ‘coarse’ on the crude-to-smooth spectrum than I’ve recently been comfortable with. Of course, putting off refilling my decant does not mean never filling it again. We must take perfume, like life, as it comes.
Equistrius: Parfum d’Empire
And of course this last one is also by Parfum d’Empire but is much further along toward the smooth end of the spectrum. This fragrance may be named after a racehorse, but it has scent-wise nothing to do with horses. It is, quite simply, a powdery iris lingering somewhere between the cosmetic and the gourmand. It’s plush-y and quite simple, lacking backbone but with lots of pillowy layers. The iris is warm rather than cool and root, and while I don’t smell the chocolate listed in the notes, I can believe that I’m getting rice and cosmetic powder. A similar fragrance is Jovoy’s Rouge Assassin, but I find that to have no longevity whatsoever.