Let Me Smell You, So I Can Know You

panoseiconcroppedWhen I smell a perfume, I am also smelling who the perfumer really is. The type of fragrance which a perfumer does best and the sorts of ingredients they choose to use tell the tale. For instance, Bandit (the astounding chypre) by Germaine Cellier from the early 1950s in Paris…I always thought it was very masculine in a feminine way, the perfume of a very strong and untouchable woman who was smarter than the average by far. Turns out that was exactly who Ms. Cellier was, she was one of the first female perfume chemists anywhere and she was also a lesbian who was famous for her romantic and dramatic exploits among her set. This comes through loud and clear in Bandit, it could not have been made by anyone else of any orientation, there is too much leather and no sweetness at all but plenty of light.

As for modern day indy perfumers, once I smelled a perfume of considerable beauty, but it was also very pedestrian and a bit sloppy! It was fetching though, like a friend who was a great friend and a real slob at the same time. I found out who made it and ended up having a conversation with her. She was just like the perfume. Wow. I bought a bottle and really enjoyed it. She told me that she had made the perfume by combining a lot of notes she hated but kept track of how much of each she added so she could make it again. I thought it was brilliant for its unorthodox approach.

Then there are the pleasant surprises. One of my favorite perfumes is The Vert by Bulgari. I have often thought that the person who made it had to be well organizes, wry, highly sophisticated but with a dignified romantic bent and good refined sense of humor. The genius who concocted The Vert is Elena who wrote a book and revealed himself to be exactly the way I thought he would be, thoroughly delightful.

I have smelled perfumes which come from enormous anger pent up inside the creator, and it rolls out in their fragrances. sometimes anger does wonders for art, and sometimes it just burns it up into ash. Usually, the latter occurs. There are not a lot of highly successful pissed-off perfumers.

I have smelled the perfumes of people who are really too timid to be good perfumers, or not assertive enough to really make a good passable fragrance. Sometimes the problem is that they don’t have the nerve to overdo an ingredient or two and push a perfume into its outer limit (as Chanel did with Chanel No. 5). Sometimes it’s not being able to make up their minds and the resulting mix has no character. It’s a shame, and I hope that the meek really do inherit the earth. You need a certain amount of courage to be a good perfumer.

I have to say that I have never met anyone who was too well bred or too well educated to be a good perfumer. You can’t really have too much of either one of those characteristics. I have smelled some exceptionally esoteric perfumes (Les Dix was a great example).

Some of the saddest of all perfumes are those made by people who want to make a buck and have no idea of how to blend something beautiful. One house in particular was stunningly successful in the early 2000s but I don’t hear much from them now. They were all about marketing instead of being all about the product. There is also the “perfumer” who relies on strength of their blends alone, never mind if it’s good or bad, as long as it’s loud that is what they are trying to accomplish. To me, that is air freshener, not perfume; more grist for the reed defusser than the back of my wrist.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring The Summer of Elegance Collection now. Peek in on the ever changing offerings at Possets.  So, click here and go exploring!


5 Years Later in Cincinnati…

A flower

It has been 5 years since I really went downtown in Cincinnati. Last time I was there it was struggling to be hip, struggling to be solvent, struggling to keep from dying. This time things felt way different. If there wasn’t loads of mad hilarity about how damned chic it was,  there was more to be excited about. The hallmark of this renaissance was how unselfconscious it all was, none of this,”Look at meeeee! So pretty!” stuff, no wondering if you had noticed. Cincinnati is still a business town, it hasn’t gone all arty on us and I don’t think it ever will. But there is more enjoyment and less anxiety about the place now, more being satisfied with itself. One of the reasons I think it has improved vastly is that there has been a steady stream of people from elsewhere coming into and making Cincinnati their new forever home. There is much more diversity now than there was when I came here, back then it was very Western European and if you had brown eyes you were considered exotic. Now you are just as likely to see a hijabi, hear Spanish, go to a Korean Restaurant, or listen to Persian rock music coming from the loudspeakers and the world has finally broken in on The Queen City. Bully for us. I think now Cincinnati is reminding me more of Washington, D.C. when I was a kid than the current flavor of D.C. does! So, I can say, it’s great to be here; it’s a nifty little city with a lot of amazingly cool features. Now excuse me as I go to my office in the East End with the stained glass windows near the airport and across the parking pad from our craft brewery.

This post was put up by Fabienne Christenson from Possets Perfume, pay a visit and look around the  art history steeped site and enjoy. Possets has their Summer of Elegance Collection up now, and you don’t want to miss that. www.possets.com

Last Day Of The Possets Sale.

The Duchess BetsyThere is very little which is sweeter than a sale, my friends. Possets has been having a good one: buy 4 bottles and get a 5th free. This is the last day of that sale, so hurry on over to take advantage of the goodness. The 5th bottle is 6ml but all the rest can be any size you like. Only other rule is that they all have to be either 100% Naturals or Classics.

So come over to Possets and take advantage of one of the sweetest offers of the summer. Http://www.possets.com It’s The Summer of Elegance celebrated with a new website, too. Sweet!

The Truth About …

sqnsTarot Cards. I am sure you have tried to work the tarot, all those great arcane images which bring all sorts of things to mind as you dole them out and try to make them fit into your life and what you have done and what you hope. They are infallible, consistent, and sometimes painful. But I would like to bring to your attention that it isn’t the cards which are doing the work, it is you. You are interpreting their meaning based on what you want to see or do see, so in all cases you will be correct in what you conclude.

I don’t mean to imply that the cards are fraudulent, I do mean to imply that they are a psychiatric tool which is very easy to use and always tugs from the right source. So please indulge yourself with the tarot. I think that they are very good for you and may well force you to confront parts of your psyche which you would otherwise avoid.

Carry Me Back To Old Virginia…

MedusaWell, one of my favorite perfumes, Virginia-Humidity, is going to have to be reformulated. Drat. Here is what happened: I was mixing up another batch and didn’t realize that I didn’t have enough of one key ingredient to finish the batch. As I was almost done I realized I was short only 6ml of that key ingredient. I had everything together but that. So, I look up the ingredient on the vendor’s website and I am sad to see that they don’t sell it anymore. I call them and, yes, it has been discontinued. After a long conference with them, they persuaded me to try another ingredient which was even better in their opinion, it actually had knocked off the previous ingredient because it was such a hit in that category. I got my sample today and I must admit that it is amazing. So, I am going to finish this batch of Virginia with the new ingredient (which should have a slight influence on the batch, but I would say slight). Then next time I make it, I will use the new ingredient.

The current Virginia is now labeled Rev. 1, and the next batch will be labeled Rev. 2. I do not have any samples of Rev 1 now and won’t have for weeks probably. I don’t think you would know that anything changed unless I told you. I will also tell you when I do get new samples.

In the meantime, if you MUST have the old Virginia (or you will die on the spot) I have samples of it. About 7 samples would make a full 6ml for sure (these are handmade and so I err on the safe side when I say how much is in each vial). I hope that is not too confusing.

The Windmill At Rijk

windmillI have been very interested in this image ever since I saw it first. There was something about it which was far more than the simple picture of the cute little windmill and sea (not that either are cute or little, surely there is more to both in all cases). If the painter, Ruisdael, hadn’t beguiled us so thoroughly then why should I have cared?

First, the lighting is amazing. It seems that many things are going on at once. The sky says “a storm” but with huge holes in the clouds the likes of which we never see if there is a real storm there, the shadows of that storm seem to cast themselves to earth and water but they have no wind or rain to back them up, only gloom. The ships are becalmed on the left, their sails flaccid and flapping uselessly in the still air. There is a knot of girls skipping along at their chores to the right along the bulwark. You can’t see him well, but the miller is standing on the rickety balcony around the mill surveying the world as boldly as a duke his holdings. This is a landscape full of folks but they are like ants and only seem to reflect contained parts of the feel here.

The mill dominates all of the terrain. It is the strong X which demands our attention, bolstered up on a pedestal face to the wind It is almost the heroic figure here, grinding wheat to flour and more to serve the human need for commercial activity over the reverence for “nature” getting its way. But isn’t that a big theme with Dutch painting? After all, it was the Dutch who tamed the sea to make more livable space and farming lands. They have a reputation for being “stubborn” but maybe they are masterful beyond what most can do.

So, the Dutch harness the wind to do their bidding in addition to chilling them to the bone in the fall through the spring? Good for them!

The image is full of dynamic things: the sea and land, the sky and it’s voids, the outline of the mill, the waiting ships. All of those things positive and negative tell the story but I say that the thought of the X is what I am taking away from this with the almost poisonous light! It is so fair in some parts, and so dark and scary in others. Maybe the life on the North Sea is full of this sort of thing, but the common lore would say casually,”What is going on with the sun and the shadows?” It is strong contrast, I say. The kind of thing I don’t see outside tempestuous April where I live.

This windmill scene isn’t tame, and if the ship’s sails are not full now, there is no telling what that mad sky will do shortly from now, I think.

An exceptional image which I don’t think I will get to the bottom of any time soon.

This blog is brought to you by Possets Perfume which is featuring the Summer Collection for 2015 which features a brand new website and 30 perfumes for you to have fun with. Sweet sweet summer is the theme with paintings from some of the world’s most wonderful artists from around the globe. Enjoy the season at Possets!