Do I Have a Signature Scent? (No really, I’m asking)

Despite the best laid plans of mice and men I wasn’t able to post for the past few days (and by wasn’t able I mean I spent too much of my time reading blogs/cutting my own hair/studying for my upcoming tests for which I need to identify over 200 raw materials and some equally outrageous number of fine fragrances by scent). But I’m in France and I can recognize aldehyde chains of 7, 8, 9, and 10 carbons (by smelling, not counting) so really who’s not to say that I’m living my best life?

Maybe the fact that it’s a rainy week and I have no adequately waterproof shoes. But pretty close to my best life.

Switching gears now away from flawed footwear and toward the actual meat of this post which, I apologize, is not in a list form.  More just something i’ve been thinking about.

I remember reading an article sometime between 1 and 7 years ago about the desire for a signature fragrance.  One that really signifies you, reminds you and reassures you of your stable identity in distressing situations and, perhaps most importantly, that other people (significant others, friends, children) will associate with you.

I’m trying to find the article online but am being deluged with all of these guides on how to find your signature scent (I feel like the answer is pretty obvious: smell stuff).
But the article was more than about just desiring a signature fragrance. It was also about the conflict between wanting that one personal element and wanting to appreciate and express yourself with different/multiple fragrances.
Which is why I have kind of thought of signature fragrances for a long time as a perfumista pipe dream/something for the uninitiated and not very into fragrance.  It’s like the person who has one pair of earrings.  Maybe they have reached accessory nirvana but it’s more likely they’re just not that into earrings.

The last time I had a signature scent was early high school and it was some variation of Chanel Chance. I think Eau Tendre, but I also believe I wore the original before after a long and obsessive internal debate over the pros and cons of the original and the Eau Fraiche. Some things (and by some things I mean me) never change.
And then I realized how wide and amazing the world of perfume is, how varied and multifaceted and worth exploring.  The idea of a fragrance kind of went out the window, which I felt a bit regretful about, but also very excited given the way my horizons were expanding. Discovering a new world and removing limitations I had placed on myself.  Deciding to discover more facets of my ‘fragrance personality’- all of the things I loved, appreciated, was fascinated by, and with which I resonated- made more sense than hunting for The One Fragrance that would encapsulate everything that I wanted in a perfume (which would obviously be futile, especially as I became more exposed to all of the things perfume could be and all of the feelings it could give me).

Jump cut to now, maybe seven years later.  I don’t have a signature scent and I don’t have a very well-defined numbers of perfumes that I own (given a low number of full bottles but a pretty impressive number of small decants and samples that I would like to stay in possession of and wear semi-regularly).  The closest I have to a signature scent is Miller Harris’ L’Air de Rien (which I’ve mentioned before, ad infinitum), one of my rare full bottles and the first scent I bought as a perfume enthusiast, following reading reviews and the usage of a sample (the perfumista way (or at least my perfumista way)).  It smells like dust and horses and sweat and leather and cuddle musk and hay and vanilla and patchouli and soft spice.

But I still figured a signature scent was lost to me.  It’s true that in my years of testing literally thousands of fragrances I had reached a hazy understanding of what generally appealed to me and what would not, what I was excited to try and what I could pass on without a second thought.  My buying practices, sampling practices, and ‘wishlist’ practices have reached a kind of contented plateau.  There are a few things I want to own (most of which have been chilling on a want list for years) and want to test, but I feel pretty well sated.  There’s not much new under the sun, as they say.

And I had the feeling until quite recently that my preferences were all over the map.  And I tried not to read that as a sign of mental breakdown/multiple personalities/a not fully integrated personhood.

That’s one of the (relatively minor) things that being in this program has made me reevaluate.  Wannabe-perfumer conversation is obviously a bit different than the conversation of any other group of people. You could say that about any group with a shared and strong passion.  We play games where we pick a raw material to encompass a classmate’s personality.  We talk about our favorite scents. Things that we would like to mix.  We analyze one another’s personal scents.  Victor smells like frankincense and weed (which would have made for a really different but potentially more interesting nativity scene, when you think about it).  We read into each other in some kind of eerie but often quite eye-opening ways.

And so basically when I was told that I’m a vanilla-amber-patchouli-animalic girl it was kind of self-revelatory.  I’ve joked before about the disproportionate real estate amber perfumes hold in my fragrance library.  And I’ve personally avowed before that all I really want is to smell like small furry animals.

When Luis smells Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle (amber, musk, patchouli, clovey-spice) and tells me it reminds him of me, I smile and say “Yeah, I love that and I wear Meharees by L’Erbolario, which is pretty similar”.

So I guess that takeaway here is that having a signature fragrance doesn’t necessarily have to mean one scent from one brand that you stick to for all the years of your life. Maybe it can be something a bit more fluid- shared patterns, shared notes, shared architecture in the fragrance construction. Maybe some brands do better for you than others.  Maybe some perfumers are your go to guys/girls.
Maybe your perfume collection can be more like a tapestry woven by the shared threads of your favorites.

That said.

The animal-musky-vanillic-amber family is really best suited to the colder months and climes.  I may need a reevaluation come summer.

 

Reading, Listening, Watching

What’s happening with me right now?

  • Reading (book): I’m two days and two chapters into Shirley by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve missed reading over the last month. We’ll see how long it lasts.
  • Reading (poetry): Weirdly obsessed with Wordsworth’s Intimations of Immortality right now.
  • Watching: I have to admit that I’ve been watching Game of Thrones to tranquilize my brain. I just finished season one.
  • Listening: I’ve been playing Aicha by Cheb Khaled pretty much every day on the way to school.
  • Eating: For breakfast, the pudding-like French soy yogurt in either pistachio or hazelnut-almond flavors, bread with doing jam, and fruit. For lunch, pesto, vegetables, and couscous. For dinner, vegetables and some protein type thing. Or my squash tofu curry.

Last Night/This Morning and Samples (of Perfume)

I think yesterday may actually have been my first all-nighter? To the extent that I have been awake since 8 am yesterday morning (it’s now three minutes after 4 pm, today). And I spent the night hanging around outside in Paris, so I don’t think you can really ask for a better first nuit blanche (all-nighter in French). Interestingly, this also coincided with Paris’ Nuit Blanche music and light festival, so there was lots to see and do. And the Marais is always pretty active on Saturday nights.

I have many more things to say about French Tinder (Did I already mention that there are SO MANY PEOPLE NAMED QUENTIN?) like I now know how to say mind games. These are the important life skills.

But in the meantime I just want to talk about perfume.

As in if I could magically have the samples that I want most (that aren’t on m decant wish list) what would I pick? (Also I bought Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens on eBay recently and I’m super excited! I have been wanting that perfume for quite literally 6 years.

Also did you know there are more Dior Private Collection scents in the stores in Paris that aren’t available in the US? I have to say I didn’t find any of them particularly enrapturing, but they were fun to visit. My favorite would have to be Jasmin des Anges, which was much more a tart blackberry than a jasmine. But it was a pretty nice blackberry.

Okay, back to the topic at hand.

  • Ce Soir ou Jamais- Annick Goutal: A super nice and musky overblown rose that I haven’t yet had the chance to try in any meaningful quality. I think I might love it.
  • Rose Trocadero- Jardin Retrouve: I seem to be in a rose mood. I want this to be the fresh green garden rose of which I have been dreaming.
  • Kingston Osmanthus- Eric Buterbaugh: Too bad 10 mLs costs three weeks of groceries.
  • Equestrian- Sonoma Scent Studio: Obviously I can’t leave alone anything doing with horses.
  • Miyako-Auphorie: This one got a whole lot of buzz not too long ago and I still haven’t tried it. But I’m here for fruity suede osmanthus vibes.
  • Onyx- Sage Machado: Musky coconut? Neat. I want to try.
  • Noir Exquis-L’Artisan Parfumeur: I tried a bit of this in store and one point and think I may be very much a fan. SO cozy!
  • A bunch from Zoologist. But if I had to pick it would be Nightingale or Civet. Followed by Dragonfly, Panda 2017, and Elephant.
  • Suede de Suede and Dojima- Mona di Orio: There are two new Mona di Orios and I haven’t smelled them yet. Shame.
  • Mardi Gras- Olympic Orchids: Speaking of Civet.
  • Acqua Celestia- Maison Francis Kurkdjian: I keep smelling this in stores and wishing for a bit of my own.
  • Joyeuse Tubereuse- Guerlain: Only if I can’t find my sample. I have the sneaking suspicion it’s still in the USA.
  • Tabacca-Costamor/Frank 3-Frank: You know you need to smell it when you’ve been waiting so long the brand and scent name changes.
  • Tabac Tabou- Parfums d’Empire: Tobacco, honey, narcissus. Give me.

By the way also all of these from DSH 😛

Places I Need to Find in Versailles

This is going to be a quick one because I want very much to go to bed. France is great, my home here is beautiful. There’s so many amazing things to say but you know what? It’s tricky feeling so incompetent and ineffective. I can’t do anything because there are still so many things to figure out.
And I’m used to being a pretty effective, efficient individual.

To get my bearings and settle in, here’s what I need to find.

  • A Bio-Market: Check
  • A Movie Theater: And see how many English films (or films aver sous-titres) there are
  • A Library: And how many books in langues etrangeres- particulierement anglais.
  • A Farmer’s Market: Check
  • My University: Check
  • A Patisserie/Bakery near my house: Check
  • A Pharmacie: They’re EVERYWHERE
  • The Way to get to Paris par train

I think those are the main things.

A links post will be coming in the not too distant future, but I’m scrambling right now.

Favorite Fashion and Style Books

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I’ve read a lot of style books over my time- they’re good for kicking back and relaxing when you’re trying to put off reading Henry James’ The Golden Bowl (which I’m currently happily but slowly wading through right now). At some point they all seem to blend together (the fashion book, not the Henry James’), but there remain some special ones that stand out- and a lot of other ones that are fun and worth reading, even if they’re not listed here.

Because I had to limit my number of French style books- there are so many that are worthwhile reads but differ from each other only slightly.

I also cut out my favorite minimalism books, because they deal with wardrobes an top of many other lifestyle changes.

And then there are books more based on images- which I’m not going to talk about. But style coffee table books are beautiful too. Continue reading “Favorite Fashion and Style Books”

Names I Shouldn’t Name Babies

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I guess I just need more cats…

I have a long list (Okay, if I’m being brutally honest here I have Excel spreadsheets) of my favorite baby names, because onomastics and naming has been one of my obscure interests since middle school.
Collecting names that long, you end up with some pretty odd favorites. So I thought I would post a list of names even I would hesitate to saddle a child with (a lot of the names I enjoy would I think set off red flags for others- Edwidge, Ludovica, Odysseo, Faisal- and yes, I did choose those names because they’re some of the hardest to get behind) but this list is for the really out there, or otherwise unacceptable. Continue reading “Names I Shouldn’t Name Babies”

Sounds to Sleep to

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What do you listen to as you fall asleep at night?

When I was very little I would listen to books on tape, but now I’m happiest if I have my window open and can drift off to the ambient city noise. I also really like the cool breeze from the dormer over my bed.

Here are the noises that sound like home, that I’m going to miss in France, and that I find really comforting in night darkness.

  • Train whistles
  • Drag racing
  • Dogs barking
  • Sirens
  • Cicadas (in the summer)
  • General traffic noise
  • Logan airport planes
  • Bachata and reggaeton music from passing cars and neighborhood parties

I actually grew up (until I was two) across the street from a firehouse, so sirens are pretty de rigueur. They hardly even register for me.

It’s funny how your surroundings have such an impact on what you find reassuring/familiar.

The Most-Represented Bands on My iPod

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Yes, I still have my 3rd generation iPod nano. It has a name (iPooh) and it turned ten years old on my birthday this year. I got it in seventh grade. It’s a wee silver iPod nano and I still update it regularly with whatever music I’m listening to the most. Because it’s small, portable, and has remarkable battery powder. And I’m fond of it.

Thankfully I do do iPod culls. Because I do not still listen to the music I listened to in seventh grade (I don’t even want to think about it). There are only about 400 or 500 (or maybe 600) songs on it.

And some bands are much better represented than others. The fact that I keep it full of my most-listened to means that the majority of bands and musicians are represented only once or twice. The following are the most notable exceptions, with five or more tracks, each.

  • Creedence Clearwater Revival, 5
  • Edith Piaf, 5
  • Fleetwood Mac, 5
  • Glass Animals, 5: The problem here is all of the songs sound the same, so does this count as five songs or one? I’m not sure really.
  • Nouvelle Vague, 5
  • Daddy Yankee, 6: The sound of home, for me. I grew up to Gasolina. Whatever that says about my life.
  • Lana del Rey, 6
  • Sia, 6
  • The Beatles, 7
  • David Bowie, 8
  • Simon & Garfunkel, 11
  • The Rolling Stones, 12

Perhaps I’ll do a future post on my most-listened to songs. The problem is that I have a kind of OCD tendency to reset the number of listens. So it might take a little while.

Best!

In My Room and Close to My Heart

I don’t talk about my bedroom much. It’s my favorite room of the house (the kitchen being  close second) despite the fact that I don’t spend much time in there.  My bedroom is solely for sleeping, prepping for the day, prepping for the night, and more-frequent-than-I-would-like-to-admit private dance performances.

That’s really what it comes down to. My room feels very private to me- like my own inner sanctum. I don’t take pictures in it.  Even the cats aren’t allowed in (mostly because they think it’s their god-given purpose to knock shit over in my closet).

My room is also filled with my treasures- beyond my favorite books, my clothes, and the other things that carry me through daily existence, there are a few things that I can’t imagine I won’t be holding onto forever. Just because I’m attached to them. Continue reading “In My Room and Close to My Heart”