.........maybe we are feeling the same things at the same time, which only happens about 50% of the time here! In direct relation to daily life we have very similar reactions and takes on what is going on and how we feel about it, but about our lives here and there, the vagaries of our feelings are not as attuned to eachother's.
Check out Pierre's wonderful painting!
I went through a period a number of years ago when I was so put off by new scents that only vintage perfumes smelled good to me! I am not exactly anti-synthetic, but the contemporary crop of perfume chemicals (in contrast with what I call Original Synth from the first half of the 20th Century) is so omni-present I am just sick of all of it!
I recently had the chance to smell a 8 or 9 Gardenia scents on a whim, to compare and contrast them and choose one, when I had a sudden craving for big white florals. This happens to Perfumistas. It was painfully obvious that they were all working around the same one or two "gardenia" molecules, some formulations were better for me than others, but the blatant similarity diminished the whole group! Yes I was able to choose my favorite, but that's really not enough for me, as a lover of original perfumes.
On my recent trip to NY I was drawn to a new Oud Rose perfume, but I swear that everyone even seems to be using the same couple of Oud molecules, what a bore! One would think that they would make 10 or 20 different Ouds to exploit all the different facets of this amazing material, but no! Regardless, Rosam is half the price of Kilian's Rose Oud and might be a bit of a smell alike (although it has been ages since I tried the Kilian).
It's hard to understand what perfumers are doing when you smell what is around and then see a fab photo like this of perfumer Isobel Doyen working at her perfume organ, WTF??? Yes she has composed a number of "uber niche" scents like Elena at Perfume Shrine mentions in her nice interview, but I wonder what she is doing now? Do the companies demand something that smells just like something else that sold well by another perfume line -- which is why I didn't become a commercial shoe designer -- and isn't she totally frustrated? It just seems like they are using the same bases and ingredients over and over again in about 10 different genres and achieving slightly different but all too recognizable tonal qualities!
Luckily lots of people aren't looking for the most unusual, original, oddball perfumes, and more than ever before, even I often just want to "smell good," but there are lots of us Perfumistas disillusioned with the perfume world, so we will have to share resources. Not everyone is looking for ultra personal and iconoclastic scents, and it is a noble pursuit just to smell great in our world overrun with the same scent chemicals everywhere.
It was first beautifully elucidated by the wonderful Mandy Aftel in Essence and Alchemy, who I call the Godmother of the movement (more about her in the next blog), the only natural perfumer making things that I actually crave, although there many others to explore, from the ridiculous to the sublime.
To be fair, there are several perfume houses who still speak with an original voice, Frederic Malle, Serge Lutens, Patricia de Nicolai, Andy Tauer, Les Histoires de Parfums, and Miller Harris, to name a few, maybe we can make a list!
Having been a perfume lover for most of my life and more recently a Grand Amateur (in the French sense of being a huge fan and/or student or fancier) of perfume in the past ten years, I find myself depressed by and disconsolate about what is happening to perfume in the 21st Century.
The situation is similar, I suppose, to what happened in the film business 20 years ago, when Independents started flourishing as a reaction to the crowd pleasing drivel of the entrenched mainstream film business, but eventually became became sort of a second tier of the fat cat industry, supported and sometimes cannibalized by them. So now there is Mainstream film , Mainstream Independent film, Independent film, and a kind of Guerilla film.
In the perfume world, so called Niche brands seemed to appear suddenly in the 80's, typified in by Annick Goutal and Jean Laporte, who represented a kind of break with the tradition of classic french perfume, using ingredients that seemed more clearly defined and directly apprehended by the contemporary consumer blossoming in those prosperous times.
As a young woman who grew up with snootfuls of Diorissimo, Yardley, Love, Rain, and the iconic American Estée Lauder in-your-face scents like Azuree and Private Collection, these brave new scents were a natural extension of what I loved from my adolescence in the 70's. ( I wrote about these influences on my young self when I first started this blog) Luckily Barneys had appeared in Southern California sometime during this period, offering the Les Jardins Retrouve scents among others, which were refreshingly direct and uplifting, and I went through bottles of the stuff.
In the 90's I experienced a kind of Perfume Fatigue, there just weren't enough perfumes in the new niche world for me to use to express myself properly and keep me happy and stimulated. I had been through all of the single note natural offerings I could gobble up from Spain or France, (everything available in LA that is), whatever I found at Barney's 50 miles away, every Annick Goutal and Laporte I liked, and what remained was already a sea of Department Store choices, which, as an iconoclast, I could never consider.
I limped along for several years with the dregs of my past forays into perfume, until my first trip to France with Pierre, where he introduced me to Serge Lutens' perfumes at the Palais Royal, happily opened in 1992, and they were a revelation, but only available on our trips to Paris and at 100 Euros a pop (in 1997!) a bottle at a time was all I could do. The following year I discovered Santa Maria Novella in Florence and bought 4 or 5, two bottles of Zagara, which I truly loved. A year or two I tried to get more Zagara but it had changed completely (I naively thought that maybe the crop of flowers had changed a lot, but I now think that they had started to augment their formulas with perfume chemicals to meet their rising demand and make better profit margins too). Luckily by chance I tripped over Parfums de Nicolai on my last day in Paris and bought 4 perfumes between 10:30 and 11 in the morning, before catching the shuttle to the airport, phew!
Unbeknownst to me, there was a burgeoning world of perfume lovers glomming onto perfumes, both new and vintage, whom I happily discovered upon my arrival home, when I researched my new perfumes on the Internet, a fairly new type of pursuit, and found the original group of Perfumistas on Makeupalley. There were amazing women like Victoria Frolova now of Bois de Jasmin, and Denyse Beaulieu now of Grains de Musc, and other afficionados talking about and swapping perfumes, all of whom were extremely forthcoming and generous to me as a novice, and I discovered new Niche scents, beautiful old Classics, and books like The Emperor of Scent which had just come out at that moment in 2003, and Essence and Alchemy, released in 2001.
Having pursued beauty and originality in all of my accoutrements for my whole life (and trying to add my own to the world by this time as a shoe designer) I was always hunting for new stimulation for all of my senses (as well as my designs of course) and my perfume world discoveries completed a big part of the puzzle for me.
Here we are, fast forwarding to 2013, and the explosion of "Niche Perfume" in the last 10 years that looked like it was going to give us all kinds of wonderful new scent ideas to explore seems to have become a kind of extension of perfume chemical companies, compounded by the bevy of new regulations due to so called allergens in perfumes, the field of materials has somehow narrowed and everyone seems to be working with the same darned stuff with similar results.
I am trusting my own nose on this, but there are people with better noses than mine who concur that there are a few dominant types of scent or themes that all smell very similar, so at least I don't feel like I am alone in this, nor am I going crazy. But I am very sad about the turn perfume has taken and very disappointed in the whole perfume world, large and small, shame on you all, or most of you!
I thought I was abandoning this blog, and like it often happens, by letting it go, I found my way back. I started this blog way back in 2004, after having discovered the online community concerned with the Wonderful World of Perfume before everyone else discovered it. I never meant it to be a place where perfumes were reviewed persay but I wanted to tell stories about perfumes (and shoes and cake of course) but I lost my way in the onslaught of perfume blogs. So here I am, again, just making observations and getting excited about my favorite subjects once more.
I was in Paris recently, and I desperately needed a new foundation to suit my skin in its new environment, where it is a bit more sensitive than it was at home, as well as more oily sometimes and rather plump and smooth from the moisture in the air.
Tip #1: The external environment and water quality has a strong effect on our skin, so different foundations may be necessary for different places.
There was a Nocibé around the corner from me, so I took the opportunity to try out several foundations on my way out in the morning to see how they fared all day.
Tip #2: Try out foundations to see them in natural light and find out how they wear during the day, something that goes on perfectly and looks great at first can change a lot! My technique is to use different foundations on half of my face to compare them well.
I went for brands that I had read great reviews for, and I wanted a natural finish, not too matte, as well as brands I had liked in the past. Just from testing on my hand I could weed out textures and finishes, but I was surprised that the one that was called "Long Wear" was actually the nicest texture for me -- I imagined it would be thick and opaque but it wasn't on my skin at all.
Tip #3: If there is a brand you are particularly attached to, try all of their offerings without paying too much attention to their names and supposed attributes, testing is everything, and all of our faces react uniquely.
I had heard or read or assumed that the By Terry sheer foundation was the best ever, second to Armani, so I stopped at Galerie Lafayette to check them out in my travels (which was boiling hot -- in the Fall -- and absolutely packed with people taking pictures of the lovely ceiling, not my favorite environment for making decisions). Both of these lines are absolutely jammed with silicones, which I am sure is great for some, but not for me, but even so I got a sample to use at home of the By Terry as there was no one in Armani to help me. As I had imagined, it actually slid onto my face and magnified my imperfections, as well as turning into an oil slick, so forget it!
Tip #5: Be aware of the vagaries of your particular skin, whether it is seasonal or monthly or loves or hates certain ingredients. Experiment with combinations that bring out your best and minimizes your flaws, regardless of what they are supposed to do, we are all so different!
The verdict: I bought YSL Teint Resist Long Wear Endless Comfort Foundation and I couldn't be happier. What the heck does that name mean? Anyway, it makes my skin look wonderful and natural, doesn't get caught in my difficult areas (I smooth these with a sponge at the end) and yes, it does last all day, which is what I would expect of any foundation, silly me!
Tip #5: Spend whatever you can on your foundation, but there are so many possibilities out there these days, you are sure to find something in your budget. Of course at the drugstore you can't try them as easily as you can at a department store or a Sephora, but be alert to return policies, for instance CVS in California will let you return anything that doesn't work for you, as will Sephora by mail as well as in person.
I've reviewed Corday's lovely perfume Toujours Moi here on Yesterday's Perfume, but I've been wanting to "hear" it ever since I learned that composer Harry Revel translated it into music in the 1940s.
This perfume blog is so great that I don't even know what to say here about perfume anymore! So I have reblogged it, enjoy!
I'm back from our trip to France and I've finally started selling my shoes on Etsy, the site for handmade things from small designers. If you don't know about it, it's really worth checking out, starting with my Store of course ; )
My Jeweled Sandals, Roman Shoes & Samples are all available there, Custom, as always, By Request........always feel free to ask!
I am readying new posts to all of my blogs this week, Perfume, Travel & Shoes, so stay tuned! It's easy to sign up for updates, or check back when you are thinking of it! OXOXO
Private Collection strikes me as darkly exhuberant, if there is such a thing, and it smells truly American, big, blunt, unabashed and unaffected. Estee Lauder was undoubtably influenced by the the fierce French perfumes of the 20's and 30's, Bandit, Tabac Blond and En Avion, as well as Vent Vert from the 40's, and Cabochard from the 50's, all of which feel linked to both Private Collection and the original Azuree. Diorling, Dioressence and Diorella also fit the bill. All of these are scents for women with strong senses of themselves and their abilities, which was a perfect evocation of what was happening to women here in the 70's. I wonder if women of those earlier periods wore perfume aspirationally as I did? I often say that some people wear my shoes as symbols of the people they want to be, perhaps perfume is an expression of this desire as well.
I'm continuing to explore the original scents of the 70's, Coriandre is very appealing to me, as well as Lauder's Aliage, and I adore my sample of Piguet's Futur, but neither Cinnabar nor Aromatics Elixir hit the spot, the former is a bit cloying, the latter the opposite, a bit too cold. I'd love to get my hands on more Futur (in my dreams), the original Sikkim, Amazone, and Calandre for more exploration of this period. I've got a bit of Rive Gauche, for which I have the same ambivalent fascination as I had in the 70's, I guess I'm still just not that kind of gal. Givenchy III and Chanel 19 were the scents I wore easily in those days, wonderfully bracing and galvanizing for me as a young woman, still lovely but not nearly as appealing to me now as Private Collection, which I've finally grown into.
It's the dark green/dark floral quality of this composition that makes it so unusual, particularly the use of Pine (I keep thinking "forest floor") which it shares with Aliage, which is brighter and more floral without losing its earthiness. Original Private Collection's notes are listed as: Citrus Notes (Bergamot?), Green Notes (definitely Galbanum), Hyacinth, Narcissus, Rose, Jasmin, Pine (!), Oakmoss, Cedar, Amber, and Musk. Now that I see them I realize that it's the Galbanum, Narcissus, Oakmoss and Pine that sing out to me, all with matched intensity, breaking out like rays of light through a pine forest, which is another salient image from my early life, voila!
I was 16 in 1973, the year Private Collection came out, and to me it smelled like the grown up woman I wanted to be. It wasn't easy for me to wear in the 70's, I often wore it alone, and on special evenings out, a bit leery of its intensity. It's still pretty demanding, but it is no longer an aspirational scent for me, when I wear it, I know that I'm finally "there" 37 years later, ouch!
Almost all of the scents mentioned in this post are covered on the wonderful blog Yesterday's Perfume, which I have linked in a few spots, and I encourage you to check out if you are a Vintage perfume lover as well. If you are interested in seeking out original versions of the Lauder scents, I suggest you go for the darkest juice, as they are the closest to the ones that were on my mother's perfume shelf at the time.
Best Design Revelation: Alexander Calder's Jewelry
Best things I made in 2009: a pair of earrings, a ring, patent leather shoes, and medieval booties.
Best culinary discovery: Persian/Iranian cooking -- great for perfume lovers! I get to grind saffron, rose petals, cardamom with a mortar and pestle, and use other aromatics, herbs and fruits (pomegranate!) to make amazing food.
Best gifts of 2009: Two Global knives, and the Calder Jewelry book. The global knives turn cutting and slicing into a transcendent experience, and the Calder book blows my mind every time I look at it. The originality, form, movement, and dimensionality of his wearable pieces are unlike anything else ever made. It makes the William Blake quote "the more personal, the more universal" come to life. Gives hope to all of us making wearable design, especially me ; )
Best books I read in 2009: Jane Eyre and White Noise by Don DeLillo. One is an incredibly written story about the emotional reality of a woman finding her way in the world on her own, living on her wits and her merits, keeping her values, independence, and sense of herself intact, the other is the ultimate contemporary farce. These two books represent opposite sides of the spectrum of literature as well as how I think, no wonder I get confused sometimes!
Best Beauty tips: Glittery eyelids for all occasions, "pretty" lipsticks, and Philosophy Microdelivery Peel.
I opened up a new avenue of perfume interest this year, expanding my repetoire from a great love of what are mysteriously called "Oriental" and spice and woods based scents to cooler ones, including more appreciation of some contemporary scents, as I am a diehard Vintage Addict.
My perfume loves of 2009: Ormonde Jayne Woman & Ta'if, Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon (I know I'm alone on this one!), Robert Piguet Vintage Visa, Pascal Morabito Or Black, CDG 8 88, Vintage Estee Lauder Private Collection and Azuree, Vintage Givenchy L'Interdit, Histoire de Parfums 1725 (Casanova), Parfums d'Empire Eau Suave, and any Aqua Admirabilis I can get my hands on, including Maison Kurkdjean and DSH.
Perfume house to explore more fully in 2010: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz -- I met her in LA at a personal appearance, and became totally enamoured of her and her whole enterprise.
Here's wishing a fragrant and fulfilling 2010 to all of you!
Check out these other blogs for more Bests --http://www.savvythinker.com