Fragrance. Perfume. Scent. Whatever you want to call it, I’m all in. To me, perfume is the icing on the cake. A little surprise. You know when you are decorating a room, everything is finished and then you put those two decorative pillows on the sofa and it makes the whole room come alive? That’s how I think perfume acts. A subtle brilliant gesture.
My most cherished, most beloved perfume is always Serge Lutens. First, if you are interested, read this little biography on M.Lutens HERE. To me, I like the whole back story of a perfume and M. Lutens definitely delivers a rich history. My favorite scent of his is Koublai Khan. A chypre scent, Koublai Khan has a description not for the fainthearted. “Valuable furs were spread for the Emperor of China to tread on, muddy boots and all. Ultra-animalic musks and all kinds of tanned hides make a sensational debut in this fragrance. Pay no attention to their aggressiveness: once on the skin, they retract their claws in favor of padded paws.” The notes consist of civet, castoreum, cistus labdanum, ambergris, Morrocan rose, cumin, ambrette seed (musk mallow), costus root and patchouli. This is definitely not your starter perfume. You need to be pretty bold to wear this. This is the scent I use when I need to be brave.
The only place that I buy this perfume is in the confidential shop in the Palais Royal. It is one of the most beautiful shops in all of Paris. Lavender, black, gold, demure, dark, brooding, slightly mysterious. If you are a diehard fan like myself, you will learn that these beautiful glass bottles can be personalized. For a little extra time and euros, the shop will customize the bottle for you with your monogram. Seriously, does it get better than that? I think not.
My second favorite perfume comes from Le Labo. I use the Rose 31 scent. It’s not a regular rose. It’s a dirty rose. A musky rose. I am definitely a fan of starting with a rose base and then muddling it up a bit. Le Labo uses the following description to define Rose 31... “The perfume’s aim is clear: to transform the famous Grasse Rose, a symbol of voluptuousness and unqualified femininity, into an assertively virile fragrance that can be worn by both men and women... The result is a model of its kind: alternating feminine/masculine with the disturbing ambiguity of the Centifolia rose, quickly picked up by a chorus of warm, spicy and woodsy notes such as cumin, olibanum, cedar and a touch of amber... In the background, the declared sensuality of Gaïac wood and cistus highlighted by a distinctly physical animal note, give this perfume a disconcerting sense of mystery. “
It is rare that I like nearly every scent from a particular perfume house but I do with Le Labo. You also know that I love that they put your name on the bottle! For the jet setter, they also have great travel perfume balm and I heard that they are coming out with solid perfume in November!
Every year for my daughter Grace’s birthday, I gift her with perfume. I started her with the basics. Chanel, course. I’m sure, as she has reminded me, that she would have preferred something else but she will thank me later. There is a fabulous video from Lonny Magazine on the charming French village of Grasse where Chanel perfume is born. You can watch it HERE
My favorite Chanel perfume is definitely Cormandel. “A spirited oriental fragrance that reveals itself by interrupted its amber vibrato with dry notes and finally settles into a long, restrained, voluptuous accord. Could there be any more beautiful homage to the exquisite Chinese lacquer screens that lined Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartments and made her almost “faint with happiness?”
My other favorites are the following…
Here’s what I don’t like… Any celebrity perfume, anything citrusy or fruity, oceanic, overly floral, green, anything sweet that smells like dessert, and anything Jo Malone because it smells like room spray. When I die, as we all are, my plan is to come back as a landscape architect and a perfumer. Yes, I want to be known as “Eleanor O. Decret-The Nose.” For you mere mortals, there are two schools…ISIPCA (Institut superieur international du parfum, de la cosmetique et de l’aromatique alimentaire) and the Grasse Institute of Perfumery (G.I.P.).
*Something you don’t know about me? My favorite poets are Pablo Neruda and Shel Silverstein.
Hug O' War
I will not play at tug o' war
I'd rather play at hug o' war,
Where everyone hugs
Instead of tugs
Where everyone giggles
And rolls on the rug,
Where everyone kisses
And everyone grins
And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins.