Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Last night I had wine at the W Hotel. It smelled of white flowers, sans indole, rather like a creamy muguet. I asked someone if it was the hotel's "scent," because I know some hotels are scenting now. (I think I heard of a chain using an orris-type scent, because orris/iris notes=luxury. Or funeral, if you're talking to Luca Turin.) A couple peeps told me it's the candles they're burning, which are rotated by season.


White flowers is not an October accord. I'm decreeing this. The obvious choices would be pumpkin or apple, but both of those choices are about as subtle as poop in a shoe. So how about hay-firewood-wool-dry wood? I paid too much for that wine to be smelling white flowers in October.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Axe, you've done it again.

The other day I was in some drugstore that had just about everything, and I came across some Axe body spray that I haven't seen before: Musk and Wild Spice. The Wild Spice I only sniffed for a second--it didn't seem to be up to much--but the Musk is amazing. Now I know what Luca Turin means when he says "barbershop musk." The first thing I thought of when I smelled it was Old Spice. Original scent. Which, by the way, smells great. It smells ambery and warm to me, and probably musky, although I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure what the term 'musky' really means, since musk odorants seem to run the gamut of smells. So this Axe Musk body spray smells kind of ambery, but very much 'barbershop musk,' which is nice and kinda old school. It smells like it would blend well with a lot of different scents, but I think it's good enough to wear on its own. Go out and get some now before it's discontinued. ...If it hasn't already, and this drugstore just happened to have some left on the shelves.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Francis Kurkdjian

Francis Kurkdjian has a line of fragrances out now. I saw it at BG yesterday, quite by accident. When I saw the name, I thought I was mistaken. I was like, THE FK??? The famous perfumer? Yes, it is. And yes, he's famous. (He made Le Male, a vile but highly successful fragrance.) If I know his name, then he is a famous perfumer. Because I don't know the industry well enough to know all the players; I just know the big names: Calice Becker, Jean-Claude Ellena, Francis K..... At least I think they're the big players. Anyway....

So I'm looking at it, and the line has everything: perfumes, home fragrances, maybe even fabric softener sheets?? (It was of course at this point that I remembered daydreaming about having a perfume line where I could have EVERYTHING coordinated by scent: perfume, bath oil, dryer sheets, whatever.....) I didn't know what to smell, honestly! The cologne or the home fragrance? I took a whiff of something, but the person behind the counter, who I think might have picked up on the fact that I LOVE scent.smell.fragrance.perfume.olfaction.insertsynonymhere, offered me some samples. I sprayed on one of the hommes about an hour ago--quite interesting. Fresh, a citrus tone but not your typical citrus, an unusual note with it; it's now developed into what I guess I'd call a fresh woody floral. Quite nice. It doesn't smell like the other men's fragrances out there today, which I have an intuition are all just reorganizations of a few strong, cheap, "clean" aromachemicals (supposedly dihydromyrcenol is in everything).

I can't wait to try the rest of the testers, but I'm sure they'll all be nice. Oh, and if you're in NYC and reading this now, Kurkdjian will be at Bergdorf Saturday, for a Sniffapalooza thing. At the moment the woman said that I regretted not signing up for it. But then she was like, "But he'll be around afterward....." And I was all, "Yeah, but for me that would be like meeting Madonna--what do you say?? Duh, I like perfume....." So I'm not gonna try that. But hey, if you're really into his frags, or if you're just single and very bold (from the pic on his site I'd say he's a looker), you might want to go meet him.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Tom Ford, I Love You

Tom Ford, I love you.

Some time ago I was sitting around contemplating. Something or other. And it flashed into my mind out of the blue: We need less Tom Hanks. More Tom Ford.

Of course, I knew little about TF. Just that he was good-looking, sexy in a 70's kinda way, probably gay but posed with nude starlets, and had a really cool style. I don't know what he's like in person, but in pictures and all he seemed to be the kind of persona that just oozed sex. And boldness.

I think he was a designer or something? It was more like he was famous for being an icon. Anyway, then he went into perfumes. Yeah, I never smelled the Amber Nude or any of that. And I became aware of the buzz around his own line, but didn't see much of it.
Well, today I was at Bergdorf (a place I never go) and saw his Private Blend line.

God. damn.

I repeat: God. Damn.

I didn't smell all of them. I first tried Tuscan Leather. I don't know how I can convey this so people will understand, because it's important. This leather is perfect. Perfect. It smells like dry suede, maybe with a woody-smoky drydown. I'm a little unreliable with descriptions right now, because my nose is fatigued. Or maybe priapic or something. But this leather is absolutely spot-on spectacular. This is what Cuiron by Helmut Lang, which was lovely, was supposed to smell like. It doesn't smell at all like the other leather-types I've smelled; meaning, I don't have to concentrate to get the leather. I don't have to wait for an epiphany, like with Cuir de Russie. It's much more leather than Bel Ami (but Bel Ami is its own animal, and very beautiful in its own right.) (Kelly Calèche--this is not a leather scent. I know everyone goes on about how it smells like a leather bag, but I think it's a floral-vegetal scent with some leather thrown in. Pleasant in its way, but not a leather.) This gives it to you straight-up: dry suede woody leather, not moist or oily or rubbery, not too smoky. Nothing too distracting in it. It's absolutely flawless. (And this after an unsuccessful search for Lancôme's Cuir (which I now find is called Cuir de Lancôme?)--a cologne I can't imagine ever finding in the States, since the name is pronounced [queer], unless you go all French on it with the breathy, long e and the soft r, and that sounds pretentious. When Cuiron was out, someone I know who worked at Bloomingdales said they pronounced it "seer-on." I don't think that's because they didn't know how to say it; I think it was so it would sell to American men who would, ridiculously, be turned off by a name that is pronounced "queer on!").

Then, of course, I smelled Tobacco Vanille. Hundreds of years ago this cologne would be seen as a reason to believe in a Deity. It's perfect. Just perfect. And here I thought Five au Clock au Gingembre was the perfect tobacco scent. Oh no. This is mind-boggling. To get an idea of its scent, imagine plunging your nose into a bag of fresh pipe tobacco that has had too many flavor chemicals added to it. It's just impossibly beautiful and rich: that cherry-like topnote that's in some tobacco blends (which is probably more accurately described as a cherry-almond, but I got rich cherries), but it stays rich with a bombastic pipe tobacco accord that is everything you want from one: sweet, cocoa-like, rich, herbal.... This is how the site (which you may need a cold shower or some hand lotion to look at--I love you, Tom Ford) describes it:

A modern take on an old world men’s club. A smooth Oriental, TOBACCO VANILLE opens immediately with opulent essences of Tobacco Leaf and aromatic spice notes. The heart unfolds with creamy Tonka Bean, Tobacco Flower, Vanilla and Cocoa, and finishes with A Dry Fruit Accord, enriched with Sweet Wood Sap.
Yes, I get tobacco leaf and dried fruit notes. I'm sure there's a cocoa and a tonka accord in there (can you do a tabac without a tonka/coumarin note)? I'm wondering what it means by "dry fruit accord"--I think I remember reading in The Secret of Scent that damascones can have a dried-fruit smell, one which was described as smelling like those women's clothing catalogues that come out in autumn, with all the orange sweaters and the browns and ecrus and slightly desaturated reds. I'd love for a perfumer to take me through this scent and tell me what goes where and what creates this and how this modifies that.....

The thing I find a bit strange about the scent is that it's called Tobacco Vanille. Why the Vanille? Hasn't tobacco been flavored for years with vanillic and tonka like chemicals? Flavored tobacco implies something vanillic. If I'm not mistaken, tobacco was flavored with coumarin for years. And there's some cologne at Barneys, some Italian name, that makes one called Tabacco, and it might as well be called Tonka, cuz it's heavy on the coumarin note, which smells fucking fantastic. I wish you could perfume shop by entering into a database what you really like---hay, beeswax, tabac, coumarins, helychrysium--and get a report of scents that allegedly contain those notes, scents that smelly strongly of those notes, and scents that incorporate those notes. Or whatever. You can sort of try that with some sites, but it's never worked out perfectly in my experience. You can't do that in a store, because if you say, "I want something coumarinic," no one will know what that means. Of course, I'm being a bit highfalutin when I say that, because I can't say that I've smelled pure coumarin. I've smelled pure tonka absolute, raw tonka beans, hay-type reconstructions, etc. but not pure coumarin. But I feel like I have enough knowledge of the type of note it represents that I can at least name-drop it.

In short, this is the richest, most nearly perfect tabac scent I've EVER come across. Better than Five o Clock au Gingembre, better than Tabacco, better than Havana, better than Tabac Blond if that even counts (I smelled that at the Caron counter, along with Bellogdia. TB=too pricey for what I'd get. Bellogdia=loved it cux I love carnation notes, but then I realized it smells EXACTLY like a $2 carnation oil I bought once. So why not just wear that for carnation? Or L'Air du Temps, if you want something really powdery? I figured I could probably make a carnation scent rather than buy that. I bet I could eventually make something similar to Tuscan Leather, however, now that I'm getting somewhat familiar with leather notes and bases; don't know that I could achieve it's beauty, though, but at least I could get a dry leather note until I could afford to buy the Tom Ford version.)

Those two are my favorites. A few others I tried at the Tom Ford counter: Moss Breches. Fucking GORGEOUS moss. Nerolo Portofino: orange blossom accord. I approve. I judge neroli things harshly, because I remember being driven through blooming orange groves on the way to middle school, so I know I've smelled real orange blossoms in bloom. Of course, I can't remember the exact scent, but I know that neroli oil doesn't smell like it, and neither has any reconstruction I've ever come across. But that's what perfumery's about: it's usually not about re-creating nature, but about interpreting something. A perfume isn't a photograph; it's more like a painting, sometimes cubist, sometimes watercolor, sometimes uninteresting, sometimes depthless. I liked the Neroli Portofino; I found it pleasant. But I wasn't in the mood for a neroli, so I didn't really look much at it. I didn't smell the Oud or the Gardenia--I would like to. Two others I smelled: White Suede, which I didn't stay with but liked the topnote. It reminded me of this very almond (perhaps I should say benzaldehydic) fragrance oil I got one Christmas. I think what the fragrance oil was going for was a sweet, snowy almond scent with traces of powdery vanilla and possibly some lemon. I guess it was either to evoke thoughts of cookies or snow, I'm not exactly sure. The almond thing does come along in xmas home fragrances every now and then, though. I also smelled Musk Pure, because I think it was one that I'd read a rave review about. I expected it to be creamy, skin-like, oily and a bit gamey. Instead it just smelled like musks. Meaning, it had that fuzzy/powdery/velvety smell familiar to stuff like detergents, soaps, musk oils from the healthfood store and well, you know. Musks are everywhere. I guess this was just a blend of musks. I was hoping for something a bit shocking, like the "MUSK!" that you think the original material smelled like. As in, something animal, gamey, dirty, but also smooth and warm. Nowadays, however, musk seemingly has come to mean an odorant that is a very large molecule. Or perhaps a large molecule that's not woody-ambery.

Anyway, after looking at the Tom Ford scents I felt something I'd not felt while perfume-sniffing before. I thought to myself, "I don't need to smell anything else. These two scents are the be-all and the end-all. These are the only ones I want." One day I may get them too, which is a testament to how good they are, because I can't say that for my other great scent loves, that is, Cuir de Russie, Five o Clock au Gingembre, and Carnal Flower ($300) and Musc Ravageur from the Frederic Malle line. (Ooh! And since I mentioned that line, and I've blogged about Cashmeran and Dan Tes Bras before: I smelled Alien the other day, which allegedly also has a slew of Cashmeran in it. Maybe it's a cognitive thing, but I really, really smelled the Cashmeran. And once again, I didn't like it.)

OK, so that's all I've got for Tom Ford right now. Tom, if you're reading this, thank you. If you'd like to send me these scents, I would be eternally grateful. If you'd like to give me them in person and hang out and teach me how to be cool, that would be even better.


Wednesday, October 07, 2009


So I'm the owner of a glorp of 10% Cashmeran. Probably in some kind of glycol or something. Or does it make me sound smart if I say "some sort of propylene"? Whatever, they didn't teach us chemistre in Florida. Only creation. ........And since I'm typing on my janky broken laptop, the series of periods you just experienced constitutes a return. Because my return key doesn't work. Here's another.................. So I'm the owner of some Cashmeran, big whoop, right? What does it smell like, you ask? Cue my comic-worried-exasperated expression as I admit: I DON'T KNOW! Raw materials really are a whole other universe. I expected it to smell, well, "musky woody spicy with a floral undertone," like it was described. Instead, it's more "mineral," or salty or something. Something I don't seem to have the capacity to describe yet. It was the same with ambroxan, except that I smelled that at 100%, which means, essentially, that I didn't smell it at all. Someone was blombling online about how it's hard to work with aldehydes because they're so strong that your nose fatigues almost immediately. I think that's about right. (addendum: yes, I'm aware that Cashmeran and ambroxan are not aldehydes--I think the person who said that was referring to strong raw materials in general--those single molecule ones that I'm sure wouldn't be allowed unlicensed in some future bio-dome) But this Cashmeran is diluted to 10%, so it should be manageable. What I smell is actually not dissimilar to ambroxan, but that's prolly because I have little experience with raw materials. .......................Moving on to tonight, when I went to Barneys to smell perfume I can't afford. Namely, the stuff Frederic Malle puts out. I love Musc Ravageur and Carnal Flower, the latter cuz of its inky, bitter greenitucity (and the former because it's just huge). Tonight I smelled Dans Tes Bras, which I read has an "overdose" of Cashmeran in it. (I wish fragrance marketers would cut it with the word overdose. Anything said often enough by a fragrance marketer sounds like a lie.) I also read some unflattering reviews of it on basenotes. But I had to smell it to see how the Cashmeran translates in the hands of someone who knows how to use it...................... Can I smell it? Yes. It dominates the fragrance, if it's what I'm sensing. And it smells similar to how I've interpreted Cashmeran--in this case, dry, sharp, chemical, a bit woody. As for the fragrance, overall I would say that it smells like a hair dye I once used. So, incidentally, does L'Eau d'Issey, but in a different way. This smells to me like the dye on my hair, with that blaring ammonia smell and everything. Full disclosure: I didn't spray it on my hand; I sprayed it on a card. This could make all the difference, since I suppose it's supposed to have a "skin scent" accord. ? ..........So I don't care for it. And that disappoints me, firstly because I love the idea of the line: just set the perfumers free and let them do what they want (that is the concept, isn't it?). Secondly, because I think I might have met the perfumer, and it's just weird to not connect with something someone you've met has produced. Like when someone plays you his Christmas album and you're just like, "I don't get it." I don't get this fragrance. That said, I'm pretty sure the same perfumer made Musc Ravageur, which I'm quite fond of, and if it weren't priced for the King of Moneyland I might buy. Although the last time I wore it someone in an elevator said, "Who's wearing Shalimar?" ...........I suppose there are worse things for a perfume to be mistaken for......... Gloop!.................E