Tuesday, September 21, 2004

L'Occitane et L'Et cetera

lavenderThe other 2 fragrant places that Jason and I visited on Sunday were the L'Occitane store in SoHo and a place called Enchantments in the East Village. L'Occitane (the name might actually be "L'Occitane en Provence") was pretty predictable, but then I've been there a few times. I like some of their scents, but overall the line doesn't really impress me much. I think their scents could be a bit more ambitious--more complex, or combining more unusual notes, or just using more unusual single notes. As an example of the last suggestion, why couldn't they have made some home fragrance products for their Immortelle line, instead of just beauty products? I think it would be more interesting than, say, lavender or clementine, which they offer. Most of their products involve single notes or combinations of two, and they're relatively predictable: lavender, cinnamon orange, amber, winter pine.... Their newest product is an apple spice scent (more apple than spice). Snooooozzzzzzzz. One of their relatively new single note lines out now is interesting, though: miel (honey). It really does smell like honey, unlike too many of the honey scents I've smelled before. I thought it might blend in well with my spice-wood-hay fall fragrance aesthetic, but I wasn't sure, as their miel, while it does smell like honey, doesn't smell quite like beeswax absolute--their offering is more floral. So floral that I didn't think it would blend as well, or rather I just was too unsure. Their mens fragrance line bears mention: a lot of wood going on there. Their Cade scent smells pleasant, if you like the only-dry-woody-smells-a-little-cedary thing, which I sometimes do (it would be nice to wear under something else). Their L'Occitane for men fragrance is more complex and is nice, but none of the mens fragrances really have much to say. It's a pity that all these shops (L'Occitane, the Body Shop, Bath & Body Works, etc.) that could make an interesting statement with mens products end up making something pedestrian and boring, something that if it says anything, too often says "I was inspired by the fresh, crisp smell of mass-market deodorant."

Enchantments was a place I'd never been before. I'd walked past it, but I'd never thought to look in for oils or fragrant stuff. I wish I had. It's one of Jason's stores, so he brought me there, and he said they might have tonka beans, after we'd discovered that Aphrodisia was out of them. We went in, and it turns out that Enchantments was also out of tonka beans, but they would probably get more in soon. However, they also had a wide variety of fragrant oils, among which were: tonka, deertongue (which they had called "deer's tongue," I guess for the 'witching' effect--it's a witchcraft store, after all) and civet. I was excited. The tonka I didn't find up to much. It smelled like frankincense. The deertongue, however, when you smelled it from the bottle smelled just like tonka is supposed to--sweet, coumarinic, whatever. On the skin it smelled a little different--like a blend of almond and something underneath it, maybe something coumarinic underneath it, dunno. But I was excited that it at least bore a resemblance to tonka, so I got some for use in my autumnal blend. The civet was probably the most exciting. Of course it was synthetic--you can't get real civet, and all the fragrance oils were synthetic that I mentioned. But what made it so special was that it did not smell pleasant. It's not supposed to. Neither is musk or ambergris, but everytime I've encountered those in an oil form they smell vaguely like cologne, which is not what they're supposed to smell like. Full strength, they're supposed to smell like shit, literally in some cases. They're supposed to be super strong and absolutely unbearable. It's only until they're diluted to an extreme degree that they begin to give a warmth and a rounding off to a fragrance and make it smell pleasant. I didn't expect the civet to pack much of a whallop, but I was hoping that it would at least smell unpleasant. And it did! I can't really describe the odor, cux it was hard to smell it for more than a second, but the girl behind the counter remarked that it smelled like 'old person.' I suppose it did. That or B.O. Or something like that. It would be very interesting to see what it smelled like in a blend. I wonder how much one would have to dilute it to make it work, or if you'd have to dilute it all that much anyway (since who knows how it would behave--presumably it wouldn't behave like the civet-type odors used in professional perfumery. I'd like to get some one day just to experiment with it. And it's also good to know where you can get something so stinky, in case you ever have a use for it.

And that's the rest of Sunday's beep.

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