When the wolf’s at your door

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Now, I’m not a Shalimar guy. Believe me I’ve tried. I don’t even think I’m a Mitsouko guy, which, for any self-respecting smell-nerd is at least heresy adjacent. I avoided Guerlain’s other pillar L’Heure Bleue because when reviewing the first post-IFRA version Tania Sanchez only had this to say:

A pretty stranger has come in claiming to be your best beloved.  It is hard to be angry with her.  She is clearly out of her mind; they look nothing alike.  You sit and wait patiently for your love to turn up.  The windows go dark, night after night while the stranger smiles and dawdles, waiting for you to forget.  Can you?

With no access to the vintage stuff, I wrote LHB off entirely. Who wouldn’t? After a competent opening, that version gets grim pretty quickly. I can’t imagine why they would they let it go to market. If there’s any justice, sales would’ve been miserable.

Not really meaning to, I ended up at the Guerlain counter at Saks in Beverly Hills. Their rep Alejandro is one of my all time favorite people working sales. He’s honest about reformulations. He doesn’t try to sell you anything. And he’s more than happy to wile away hours letting you dig through his magic drawer of back stock. Last visit, he let me smell the newest version of L’Heure Bleue, reformulated by Guerlain’s head nose Thierry Wasser. Y’all, please believe the hype: LHB is back.

Yes, it’s got a bit of a modern sheen, and it probably doesn’t quite have the staying power of the old stuff, but this stuff moves. You can practically hear the strings when you spray it on. It flirts with edibility but never quite resolves itself as either a gourmand or not a gourmand. It is the best kind of coquette.

But hold your horses, folks, because then something miraculous happened. A friend of mine got a bottle of the parfum–wait for it–FROM THE 1930s!!! And that stuff, to quote Bob Odenkirk, makes other perfume smell like fucking horseshit. It makes No. 5 seem like a snooze. It makes Knize Ten seem staid. It packs a blast of romance and drama unlike anything I’ve ever smelled. I’m tempted to say that it will be hard to go back to normal life after this, but the truth is that it could only make normal life better. Until I meet its like again, that one brief shimmer of beauty will keep me warm. It makes this weary world seem a little brighter.

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what to wear when: Live Music

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Classical

You might not want to wear anything. I have plenty of memories of being stuck in a theatre with someone wearing Chernobyl-level amounts of “going-out” perfume. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it’s like having a cell phone ringing in your ear for hours. Probably the safest bet is something pre-World-War-II. Or pretty much anything from the Chanel range. (Except Chance, Antaeus, or (egads) Blue de Chanel.)

Jazz

Try something sweet and dirty. My first thought was Dior‘s discontinued Jules (I wish I could recommend Jazz, but I just can’t). Knize Ten would be an excellent choice, regardless of gender.

Indie Rock

With so many sweaty young bodies around you, you’ll probably want something light,  weird, and modern. Something like Jasmin et Cigarette or S-Ex. 

Dad Rock

If there ever was a time to wear a big, strapping fougère, it’s to that Steely Dan concert. Hard to do better than Kouros, but Nicolaï’s newish Amber Oud (not really an amber, or an oud) could work great, too.

Funk/Soul

This seems like the time for an oriental. Something loud, proud, and sensual. Muscs Koublaï Khan was my first choice. Although, Fate Woman would be smashing, too. Almost anything from Amouage, and several from Serge Lutens would do.

EDM

The temptation to go for something synthetic is great. However, I think you’d be better off with something fresh but strange, like Thierry Mugler’s Cologne or Frederic Malle’s under-appreciated Outrageous by the unequaled Sofia Grojsman. 

Metal

This is a tricky one. Just by chance I was wearing Yatagan at a Torché show recently, and it was bloody perfect. I’ve always thought that Secretions Magnifiques offers the right kind of rush to pair with furious sheets of noise. Then again, maybe you want to wear something to contrast, like 31 Rue Cambon or Mitsouko. In any case, probably something abstract, with a sense of uplift.  


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Duft Sprechen I

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Daniel  “Ginger Thunder” Kumatz is my brother in scented arms. Nobody else can have a decent conversation about fragrance. Luckily, he works for LA’s Scent Bar, and has access to stuff I’ve never even heard of. He keeps me on my toes and in excellent form. Some of my best ideas come out talking with him, so I decided to start sharing some of our (very informal) conversation. Some bits have been removed because I didn’t feel like typing them. I’ve also cleaned up my grammar. And my filthy mouth. 

SMELL DORADO: Fate Woman is so sexy.

Ginger Thunder: I love it. People don’t go crazy for it, though. I’m kind of baffled.

SD: Baffling.

GT: I love how leathery it gets.

SD: It makes me feel ALIVE.

GT: Yeah, [a coworker] conceded that the drydown on my skin was really good.

SD: I actually wore it two days in a row. Which I almost never do.

GT: What happened??

SD: I dunno. Just got a bug up my butt about it.

GT: I wore Mitsouko last night and that bitch is BIG. Like a beast. I don’t know if it’s gotten stronger, macerating in the bottle. But two sprays is PLENTY.

SD: I think I only wear two sprays. It’s pretty amazing. My only problem is that it feels like it’s got the spirit of a lady. Even though the smells work great on a man. It’s just got the soul of a woman.

GT: I feel that. But it struck me as a lady from another era last night. Did not feel contemporary at all. And way more angular than I remembered. That peachy softness wasn’t happening so much. Its bones were poking through the whole time.

SD: It’s sure bony.

GT: It’s still going pretty good this morning.

SD: The softness of it is in the spot where most chypres are sharp. But you are totally right. There is an angularity to it in other places. It’s so hard to pin down. That’s part of what makes it so great. This conversation should go on my blog!

GT: Wait. What?


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