Perfume: Five Favorites

Woooo, I’m behind!
With good reason- it’s midterm season at Yale and I had two this morning- the past few days have been 24/7 studying and existential crises.

My list for today is pretty simple, only an adapted answer to one of Now Smell This’s fun weekend polls.  Now Smell This is maybe the best perfume blog, I highly recommend it.
Here’s the prompt and my answers:

Name your favorite fragrance (for the moment) in each of these five categories:

First off, can I just say thank god Robin specified ‘for the moment’, because otherwise this would be impossible.

1. no-brainer / go-to perfume?

At the moment it’s probably a sample of Jolie Madame.  Looking for a bottle for when I run out.  The scent is a violet leather, perfect for Autumn because it has the freshness of a fairly ozonic violet with the background of a scrubbed clean (but still somewhat bitter) leather.  Years ago I read an evocative comparison likening it to a 40’s Lauren Bacall type complete with handbag, leather gloves, and violet bouquet.

2. fun perfume?

I recently fell back in love with an odd perfume I hadn’t worn in a while- Bois Farine by L’Artisan.  Bois Farine, literally ‘flour tree’ in English, smells like a bread and peanut butter snack.  It’s nicely toasted and nutty, a bit slathery smelling.  It’s not an overwhelming scent- it’s character is enough that you can only get away with it because it has Ellena’s trademark light hand.  The nuttiness is excellent in the fall and into the winter.  It’s a perfect alternative to those bread-bakery scents like Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau, Parfumerie Generale Praline de Santal, and Lostmarch Lann-Ael, which I find a bit too sweet. This one is a bit less on the sugary side, more on the woody nutty side.

3. sexy perfume?

This may be (along with ‘aspirational’) the hardest category for me.  Not because I shy away from sexy but because my approach to perfume and style is kind of low key sexy.  I’ve rationalized this as being a counterpoint to the fact that I’m a very restrained and collected person- I’m able to get away with wearing sexy things because it takes a lot for me to seem sexually aggressive.  Similarly, I can get away with wearing a lot of very polished fragrances because they fit my character.  So I treat both the sexy and aspirational as pretty much everyday.  Which is why I go shopping with my mom and she says “Where would you wear it?” In response to my holding something kind of fancy and formal up. But of course I would just wear it to class.  This goes for both perfume and clothes. Maybe it’s related to ballroom dance. And the weirdness of wearing heavily rhinestoned scraps of fabric to gyms at 7 in the morning and dancing around.  Sexy and fancy becomes kind of practiced and easy.  Just as easy to pull on and off as jeans and a tee.

All of which is to say, I pick L’Air de Rien by Miller Harris- my first perfume as a perfume-lover.  I got it around 10th grade and wore it pretty exclusively for a while.  It smells like old books, paneled libraries, booze, sweet dust, moss, fur, and scalp.  Mostly to me it smells of horses in all of their sweet and hot sweatiness.  Both a literal and figurative roll in the hay.

Am curious about what it says about me that this was my first perfume choice.

4. relaxing / de-stressing perfume?

Cuir de Lancome, always and forever.  It’s the perfect suede-y leather with a bit of resin.  But really the perfect thing bout it is how you can smell the nap of the suede in the fragrance.  It’s squishy while still being quite put together.  Warm and comforting but not enveloping or overwhelming.  It reminds me of short-haired tan hounds for some reason.  In attitude, not smell.

5. aspirational (whatever that means to you!) perfume?

So I don’t do aspirational.  I wasn’t sure how to do this one without cheating- ‘I aspire to own this fragrance’, ‘I aspire to wear this perfume more’.  When I’m trying to conquer, I’m more likely to wear something that makes me feel like my best self.

But if I have to pick, I’ll say Bois des Iles.  The Chanels are very good for tricky occasions when you have to be polished, capable, and presentable.  You could also fill in No. 22 or 31 Rue Cambon easily.  But I like Bois des Iles best, I think.  I frequently wear it during ballroom competitions and job interviews.  It’s a cool aldehydic take on the classic rose-jasmine floral with a beautiful dose of gingerbready sandalwood.  The aldehydes hold everything at arms length, letting you see it all kind of crystallized and perfectly.

But really, when you’re going around wearing Amouage Gold Man to college parties, you’ve already won at life.

6 thoughts on “Perfume: Five Favorites”

  1. Only Connie gets me to answer this:
    1.Emotional Rescue (Buxton)
    2. California Reverie (VC&A)
    3. Song of Solomon (WADI EO – a take on Kyphi)
    4. Mimosa from the Insensées Collection (Diptyque)
    5.When the going gets tough? Default Madame Rochas Vintage. With starched black and white clothes and Stilettos. Makes me 9 feet tall.
    Bisous, A


    1. And, Connie – love your choices. They suit you so well.
      Did you ever try Le Dix for a take on BLACK violet leather?


      1. Love your choices too!- I haven’t tried most of them, but California Reverie. I think the VC&A line as actually pretty underrated. CR was a bit thin on me, but I love Rose Velours.
        And I have tried a sample of vintage Le Dix- it’s pretty gorgeous, isn’t it?


  2. Le Dix is fabulous. I think it is very modern and hip, an overknee boot scent. California Reverie: I’d love more citric bite, more flowery Meyer Lemon and a dot of peppery Jasmine. The 12 first seconds are best and it gets really thin in the drydown, which I don’t really care a lot for. Honestly it’s all about the name…Rose Velours is super, velvety indeed. I have one or two more VC&A, can’t remember and am too far away to fetch ‘The List’. Are there a Muguet and a Lily? You know how it is with me…….oh, I think I have an ‘Automne’ from an old Four Season Series by VC&A (or Cartier?? ). Smoky, dry leafy, russet wool and grey slate. Very nice. (Spring from that series was horrible, summer forgettable and winter I never smelled). Oops, got carried away. Should be working. Bisous, A


    1. VC&A has Muguet Blanc- they discontinued it, but I thought it was excellent when I tried it- I have some vintage Diorissimo though, so I didn’t feel the need for it.
      They also have Lys Carmin, which is maybe the other one you’re thinking of? I don’t remember much about it.
      I did also like Bois d’Iris, but not the oud- it smells too nougat-y.
      Still need to try Midnight Patchouli.


      1. Definitely not the Patch, although that sounds intriguing. Neither the oud. Probably I have the Lys and the Muguet, will dig in the shelves. Did you try the new Hermes Muguet? And how did you like that? I did not. Something was very off for me.


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