In an ideal world, birthdays would always be special occasions to celebrate each other. Birthday parties would always turn out perfect, presents would always be perfectly chosen, and everyone would leave happy and stuffed with cake and goodwill towards man – and woman. Rather than look into the mirror every morning with something akin to terror, our most beautiful selves would beam right back at us, every day and every birthday.
And I am the Queen of Roumania.
Two days from now, That Day will arrive, the day I dread more than any other day in the year, dread it with a leaden heart and a leaden sense of dread. The day. The B day. The day I’d prefer to stay in bed with the covers over my head and just forget about the whole darn thing. I’ll happily remind anyone within earshot that it’s also Shakespeare’s birthday and even recite several words of deathless prose, or that Max Planck – who invented quantum physics – and Shirley Temple have a birthday, too. Me…fugeddaboudit! It’s just a day, and the sooner it’s over with, the better!
But I can dream…I can park those childish expectations in a corner and dream of all the grown-up things I wish I could have for a birthday in that best of all possible worlds in my imagination. Just don’t forget the cake!
To make my birthday perfume wishlist, a perfume has to be…very special, simply because ever after, I’ll associate it with that day, and not everything I try makes the list, even if I like it. Here are the ones that do – this year at least!
In My Dreams, Maybe
It hasn’t happened often – in fact, I can’t remember if it ever did – that a perfume made me cry, but Ubar did. For no other reason than I find it so breathtakingly beautiful, it breaks my heart.
Once, I laughed off Amouage for being overpriced and overhyped. That won’t happen again, since the three I’ve tried so far – Ubar, Epic Woman and Lyric Woman – have been flawless liquid artistry in a bottle, and although one was not for me, the other two are staggering. Epic can wait a while longer. Ubar can’t. I used to think they don’t make ‘perfume’ any more. Was I ever wrong! And they inspired three stories, which are among the better things I’ve written in my life.
One of everything:
Ormonde Jayne Tolu and Orris Noir.
I can’t decide. I want them both. I want them NOW. In every possible permutation, in any way I can. Tolu is smooth as satinwood, Orris Noir is quite possibly the Greatest Iris Ever Created. They last and last and last, and never make me feel less than perfectly happy and drop-dead sexy (Orris Noir is swoon-worthy) in my skin.
With the birthday I can look forward to, the importance of ‘happy’ can’t be underestimated. Don’t get me started on drop-dead sexy…
Serge Lutens Boxeuses and Ambre Sultan
If ever one perfume house were responsible for my slippery slide into ‘fanatic ‘fumehead’ status, it would be Serge Lutens. Uncle Serge has a lot to answer for. Challenging, shape-shifter scents that unfold like Proust novels, with layers and layers of meaning and evolution. Boxeuses should be everything I dislike in perfume – the complete antithesis of the green-chypre-anti-floral me. Instead, it’s one of the best leathers I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
Ambre Sultan – well, what can I say that hasn’t already been said a zillion times? I hate amber. I mean…I HATE amber. Too sweet, too heady, too obvious, too…much. Blergh! And then I met this amber, and it was over. I’ve graduated to another amber (Olympic Amber, by the severely under-rated Doc Elly of Olympic Orchids) that really floats my boat, but Ambre Sultan is my personal Khadine, my Empress of ambers. That bell jar can’t happen fast enough. And my decant is on its last sprays. I may cry.
Robert Piguet Bandit
Before I became “sophisticated” – or else just a raging, demanding, perfumoholic snob – my favorite perfume family of all time was undoubtedly anything containing galbanum, orris and an oakmoss base. Green chypres, in other words, ruled my world, and they still get a lot of love.
I remembered Bandit from my wilder single days, so when opportunity came knocking, I was very much looking forward to trying it again. Reformulated, yes, but not so you’d notice, drop the bottle and scream in outrage. Audacious, outrageous and bold, and she’s gotta have it, yes she does. I like to think of Bandit as my metaphorical riding crop for keeping the rest of the world in line…Now, if only I could rustle up the courage to try Fracas…
Andy Tauer Incense Extrème and Orange Star
Saying this with the supreme arrogance that comes with only having tried two of his line, I’ll say it again. Andy Tauer is a genius.
One of the greatest incenses ever, and one of the greatest orange/orange blossoms in the history of perfume, and when it comes to orange blossom and my love of orange, that says a lot. Two samples of Zeta are on their way, and I can’t wait to try them, either. Put me out of my misery and get me one of each, please. Or if you could, just one of everything! Who loves you, Andy? I do!
In the Real World
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Antiu/Sousinon – 1000 Lilies
I can think of not a few lines I have yet to experience. Anything L’Artisan, Neil Morris, most Byredos. Odin NY, Xerjoff. Natural perfumers such as Joanne Bassett, Lord’s Jester, Sonoma Scent Studio, Aftelier…That’s what a sense of adventure is for, right? But of all those untried discoveries to make, one independent perfumer intrigues me no end – Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. For an exhibition at the Denver Art Museum, Dawn recreated several perfumes based on recipes from ancient Egypt. Of all of these, two in particular stand out and loom large in my imagination: Antiu and Sosinon – 1000 Lilies. Antiu is galbanum based, and I worship and adore galbanum. I’ve entered a draw on Dawn’s blog for a bottle of Antiu, and I have big hopes for this one.
Then, there is…Sousinon – 1000 Lilies. Lilies – not Casablanca nor stargazer lilies but Easter or Madonna lilies are my favorite flowers. A very long time ago, Laura Biagiotti created a scent called ‘Fiori Bianchi’, which was one of the truest representations of Madonna lilies ever made. I went through five 50 ml bottles, and if that’s not l-o-v-e…According to the lovely Olfactoria, whose judgment I trust, Sousinon is a very true Madonna lily scent, which is right about where Dawn Spencer Hurwitz had me. Madonna lily? Did someone say…Madonna lily? Sousinon was used to perfume Cleopatra’s sails as she sailed down the Nile. If it was good enough for Cleopatra’s sails, it’s good enough to propel me down the Nile of my own life…Crocodiles, be warned!
Olympic Orchids’ Golden Cattleya
As my blog posts attest, I can’t say enough hyperbole about Doc Elly’s creations. Every single one I’ve tried has been meticulously constructed and executed with all due care, and all of them – even the ones I can’t wear or aren’t me – are beautiful. Light as air or crystal solid, there’s not a bad one in the bunch. I have four on my personal wishlist, and of those four, Golden Cattleya takes the cake. It’s an orchid! It’s orange! And vanilla, sandalwood and a whole lot else besides. I’m in love.
Die before trying…
I hope this won’t happen, but nevertheless, there are a few I’d kill to try. Amouage Dia, Gold, Reflection Woman, Jubilation XXV – bring ‘em on! Who knows what stories they may tell? Odin NY 04-Petrana. It’s an iris. It’s a black iris. It’s something I must try…Tabac Blond. Lord’s Jester Daphne. And…
What else? A new MacBook Pro to replace my geriatric PowerBook, all the great books I have yet to read, an agent and a publisher, my Devil wrapped up in puff pastry and chocolate ganache…:)
Because if my nearly forty-eight years have taught me anything, it’s the wisdom of that ancient admonition…
Be careful what you wish for! You will get it!
About the image: I have a nickname at work. They call me the Dragon! Since I do know how to fly and have been known to spit fire at not much provocation! And that dragon…is a cake, if you can believe it. It seemed to fit…