Best of the Best 2011 – Worn and Adored

Being the true confessions of a dedicated perfumoholic

The problem with being a perfume blogger – apart from the fact that most of your surroundings think you’re certifiable –  is that you by necessity wear a lot – I do mean a LOT – of perfume that you sometimes may love and sometimes…may not. It will inevitably happen that you encounter your own brand of philistinism when you introduce your skin to a highly touted house and your chemistry flips you the bird as this much-marketed brand turns into either a hydra on your skin – sprouting another head of awful the more you scrub – or else…that you’re falling in love with juice that will entail selling off your seven-year-old to pay for it.

The things, the monsters, the hydras I have endured…I rarely wrote about. It just didn’t seem the polite thing to do. But surely, some day I should write about that infamous rite of passage for any hardcore perfumista…sitting out the duration of three whole dabs of Etat Libre d’Orange’s ‘Secretions Magnifiques’ on my skin without scrubbing. It was a bit like Anthony Bourdain drinking venomous snake blood in Vietnam because he wanted to be that guy who could brag about it with impunity…Well, I wanted to be that gal, and if Katie Puckrick had the ovaries to do it, then by Golly, so did I!

I did. I also turned green, then purple, then blue from holding my breath among other things. I dare say Anthony of NKDMan now owes me a bathtub sized drink…;)

On the other hand are the ones I simply…loved. Loved for their beauty, their peerless construction, the heart-rending drydowns and mood-enhancers and sex-me-uppers and just. Plain. Loved.


Cepes and Tuberose was my gateway into all things Aftelier. So compelling, so stunning, so simultaneously earthy and divine, spicy and sweet, it’s now become one of my Great Immortals, and on most days, there will be a tiny dab of it on my person somewhere. My Goddess Freya ‘fume. Sophia, another goddess in my novel Quantum Demonology, would surely love Fig. Something about jasmine sambac gets me. When it gets with fir and turns to fig, I’m done for. I’ve loved it – that much! I take Tango and Candide with me wherever I go just to breathe in their wonder. Whether it’s the completely seamless opulent bouquet of heaven that opens it or the perfectly balanced animal drydown of yes! Civet! Yes! Castoreum!…my little vial of Secret Garden is going fast. My ex hates it, which makes it a classic right there!

Atelier Cologne

Call me a philistine, but I have yet to meet an Atelier Cologne I haven’t loved, worn and killed off completely. I want one of each in those big, glorious 200 ml bottles. But for now, I’ll settle for a small bottle of Trefle Pur. Because it’s lucky! I just know…


Ah, the many perils of Amouage. I first fell in love with Ubar – fatally and forever – and next with Epic Woman, although that took a while longer, but it crept up on me. Then, I met Memoir Woman. That took five tries and I was…toast. An instant love was the outrageousness of  Opus V – a slam dunk for this iris lover which will soon be reviewed – and then, Suzanne sent me a sample of Jubilation 25. “If this isn’t you…” she wrote ominously. I’m terrified it is…me! The good news, from my perspective, is that Lyric Woman is gorgeous …and hates my skin. I now eye that sample vial of Gold somewhat askance…and I don’t want to hear anything about Memoir Woman in extrait. I’ll wait until the day I show up in Knightsbridge, smoking plastic in tow, and they can tell me anything they like, so long as they tell me they take Amex as I take one of everything!

Aroma M

I’ve drained my sample set of Aroma M d-r-y. Geisha Blue (a verdant sanity saver for total stress-out days), Green, which is my other favorite absinthe, Violet, a deliciously subversive chocolate violet, Rouge, the spice fest to spice up anything at all, or the newest, Amber Rouge…Aroma M perfume oils are stunning, beautifully packaged in their Yuzen paper wrappings and they last and last and last. So will our love affair, I just know it!


When I need a break from p-e-r-f-u-m-e, when all I want is to get on with my day and not worry about what I wear, when I get hit by acute indecision in the morning, Balmain’s Ivoire is what I reach for. A seamless, perfect dream of a green floral chypre that does everything a perfume is supposed to do – make me feel beautiful. It always does.


SuperMario Jr’s favorite perfume on his mother is Caron’s Bellodgia, one of the greatest carnations ever made. I make a point of wearing it when he’s sick to cheer him up. (His own, to his mother’s horror, is Amouage Memoir Man. He has sometimes insisted on wearing it to school…) Maman, meanwhile, has become addicted to the bad-gal leather of Tabac Blond extrait, thanks again to Suzanne. Yes, it’s the current formulation. I’m sure it was better before. But this is now and this is it and Tabac Blond is surely one of the sexiest scents I’ve worn this year? Wear wisely. I never did hear back from the guy I was with last I wore it to such stunning effect!

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Ah, Dawn…she breaks my heart. First, there was…Vert pour Madame, and I have maybe three drops left, it’s such a perfect throwback to those Great Green Chypres we loved and adored. Then, I received a tiny vial of 1000 Lilies, and lilies don’t get any better, no matter what they say. Next, I discovered Sampsuchinon, which really puts the sass to my spice, and finally, she slayed me with Pandora and Paradise Lost. I love all of them when I can. Which is nowhere often enough for my liking.

Etat Libre d’Orange

Yes, I know. I know. But Etat Libre also gave us Like This…and I did indeed, like that, so much it’s all gone…as is Rossy di Palma, a thorny, spiky, green rose I also dearly loved.


In my year of revelations, two Guerlains – both from the L’Art et La Matière line – have converted me into a huge fan of Thierry Wasser. I haven’t yet tried Shalimar Parfum Initial – although I would like to – but Spiritueuse Double Vanille and Iris Ganache have made it into my regular rotation, and I’m so not a gourmand gal. I blame Carrie of EyelinerOnACat. That’s right. My nose had nothing to say in the matter at all!

Histoires de Parfums

There is no justice in this world if I don’t get my grubby hands on at least a decant of HdP 1740 – Marquis de Sade. Should be classified as a drug of a most lethal kind, so naturally, I’ve gotta have it!


I’ve only ever tried ODIN NY-04 Petrana (although I’ve heard so many great things about the others!), but for an iris lover, it doesn’t get any better, or classier, or chewier, or cooler. Then, I had the inspired idea – no such thing as too much iris! – to layer it with Iris Ganache. Petrana cuts some of the white chocolate overload of IG, and they dance in such beautiful tandem all day and well into evening…

Opus Oils

SInce I was done in by a dangerous bloom, my Flapper perfume oil from the Les Bohemes collection has seen a lot of action in my neighborhood, and never fails to land me compliments. So does Giggle Water. And Absinthia, my other favorite absinthe. Does this mean I’m dangerous? No. It means you must run, not walk, straight to Opus Oils and try them for yourself! You know you want to!

Ormonde Jayne

Linda Pilkington, how do I love thy genius? Let me count the ways…Tolu, a golden, glorious wreath of resinous perfection, Orris Noir, the world’s richest, warmest, thickest, sex-me-up iris got me into a flirt…five hours after I’d applied it and it was still going strong! Taïf, a dark, rich, red desert rose…Frangipani, Osmanthus and Champaca when life’s a bowl of cherries on a flawless summer’s day…oh, yes! Genius!


Once upon a time, I received a Penhaligon’s Scent Library..and then proceeded to murder Malabah and Blenheim Bouquet. That’s love! Amaranthine’s utter strangeness and so-wrong-it’s-right-ness was stolen by a colleague. That’s purloined love!


There is no right way to say this, but say this I must – yet again. If you have the kind of skin that cozies up to green, then you must surely adore Puredistance Antonia. It is a masterpiece of a perfume – at once a reference to all those Great Greens of old and yet totally modern, too. It makes me happy and grateful beyond belief to know that Anne Bezantian felt as I do – and created what is – or what should be – a Classic with a capital C. Sigh. A forever love!

Robert Piguet

I never expected to conjure up the ovaries to fall for Fracas this year, but I did. With a vengeance. But there’s more intrigue from Piguet…since back in my Badass Days (when I was a good deal younger), I wore Bandit extrait…So I ordered a sample of the EdP from First in Fragrance, so I’d have something to complain about, only to find it was only slightly softer and not too changed these days, and that thrilled me no end. Bandit is another of my Great Immortals. Next I knew, I ordered a decant from TPC, because I’m still that kind of badass…and then, things got a little…weird. For this Bandit was not MY Bandit, with its bitter leather-violet-galbanum vibe and ashtray undertone (which is precisely why I love it, something only perfumistas can understand), but rather a fluffed-down, muskier version. Not even the color of the juice was the same. Came to find out that the US version is markedly different – why, I don’t know – and also, that I want that Euro ashtray version, so bad, I can taste it! On the other side of February 1st, I foresee an order…My sample is almost gone. I will cry my bitter isobutyl quinoline tears.

Serge Lutens

It gives me an evil amount of pleasure to state that I have managed to turn four of my friends and acquaintances into diehard Lutensoholics. Now, there are five of us where I live. I lured them in with Fleurs d’Oranger (best orange blossom ever created!), hooked them with Boxeuses, and wiped them up with Ambre Sultan. The Arabie is m-i-n-e. (and Suzanne’s! Cumin lovers, unite!) The Vitriol d’Oeillet I can share. If L’Eau Froide is half as good as I hope, this town is toast. Meanwhile, I have an inexplicable craving for the glories of Encens et Lavande…and want to try De Profundiis very badly. Cèdre I’ve loved for a quite a while, and thanks to JoanElaine, it can love me right back!

Skye Botanicals

The boy of the household – whatever Hairy Krishna, the ginger fiend thinks to the contrary – is a bit blasé about the amount of sample vials in different locations around our apartment. “Argh, Mom…why do you always smell of something?” he asked me yesterday. Nevertheless, he’s being indoctrinated by proximity. A seven-year-old who wears tiny dabs of Memoir Man to school has, I foresee, a very bright future. But one he loves beyond all reason is the one I spray on his pillow every night – Skye Botanicals Fuzzy Blue Blanket. It has replaced the lavender/neroli blend I used to use to get him to sleep. It works! He sleeps, if usually a half hour later than his mother would like…

Mainstream hits and misses

I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t like very much of what came out this year at my local shops…Chanel no. 19 Poudré was such a massive disappointment for me, Prada Candy hated me with a fury. These two words should never occur in the same sentence: Caramel and hairspray. Gah! Bottega Veneta made my best of list. There are a few Guerlains I need to investigate properly – Insolence among them, and yes, you may shoot me! But the closest thing to a mainstream find – and I can’t even find it here – that I loved was a flanker to one I do like: Mugler’s Alien. I said it – I’m a sucker for intergalactic jasmine sambac. When Aromi of IlMondodiOdore sent me a sample of Alien Liqueur de Parfum, it took me no time at all to decide I. Just. Have. To. Have. It. It’s Alien but better, smoother, richer, with a smoky, satinwood, resinous amber drydown to die for.

Ah, we perfume bloggers have it rough. So many ‘fumes, so little time. The ones we had to wear to review, the ones we wanted to love but couldn’t, the ones we loved so much, we couldn’t review them, and the ones we love so much, we wear them even on the days we claim we’re wearing nothing at all! These were mine in 2011. What were yours?

Image: The Queen’s Crown, made for Queen Sophie Magdalene by court jeweler Frederik Fabritius, 1731. Royal Danish Collections, Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen.

The All-Gifted

– a review of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ ‘Pandora’

I have known so many perfume loves, so many different families of fragrance. I have swooned over incense and amber, spice and fruit. I have breathed in the heady rush of tuberose and swooned over jasmine’s eternal beauties, I have laughed with carnations and I have wept for lily-of-the-valley. I have without question loved and adored them all in all their many wonders in all my many times and moods.

Yet some loves spring eternal, some refuse to wane, and one family above all others I will love until I die.

I can wonder, these many years later, what it was about that family – so imposing, so steely and stately in its perfection, that made me love it above all others and at all times in my life. Was it a chance encounter, one perfumed rite of passage in the Avenue Montaigne as a girl of fourteen, looking for that liquid definition of womanhood and all it meant to be? Was it that heady trail of another family member, wafting behind a woman so chic, she could only live in Paris? That moment on the Pont Neuf, frozen in time and memory – her shining, carefree hair, blowing heedless in a soft May breeze over the Seine, the click-clack of high heels tapping out a tattoo on the cobblestones, the perfume in her wake and the epiphany it caused for one gawky, bookish girl – that was what it meant to be a woman, that attitude, that fearless posture, that impossibly beautiful, impeccably seamless trace…of chypre.

Or was it simply one girl’s determination to mark out her own perfumed turf and stake her own claims on the world, which at fourteen meant one thing…anything her mother wouldn’t wear. So goodbye to Mitsouko, farewell Shalimar, adieu Jolie Madame, au revoir L’Air du Temps, all immortals that you are…one newborn girl-woman swore her undying fealty to the chypre…and there it remains.

It was the second renaissance of chypres in the late Seventies…who had already said hello to Chanel no. 19 and showed no signs of stopping. In those days and for many years thereafter, many famous chypres gave me steel for my spine and an aura of confidence when I needed it. I wore Miss Dior to Clash concerts and Fidji to demonstrations, Dioressence to political rallies and Vent Vert when squatting with my eighty closest friends in closed down museums. I wore Bandit for very close encounters. They defined my life as no other family of perfumes ever has, until that heartbreaking Sleeping Beauty moment I woke up and discovered…they were gone.

Yet hope did not escape that jar – for I also discovered I wasn’t alone in my love for these Green Fiends. And I discovered Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, who blew me completely to dandelion fluff with her Vert pour Madame, and several times since.

Now, with ‘Pandora’, she had done it again. Simply because ‘Pandora’ blows me to fluff and then takes my breath away.

Created to highlight the famous base of so many chypres – the Mousse de Saxe or ‘Saxon Moss’ created by Marie de Laire, ‘Pandora’ – named for a stunning Odilon Redon painting as well as the Eve of Greek mythology – is neither as fiercely green nor as steely-determined oakmoss as some of the great chypres of old. It shares a good deal of its character with its sibling, Vert pour Madame, but Pandora is a shade or two darker, less verdant and more seamlessly floral. The Mousse de Saxe shows itself right from the start, but stealthily and softly, like a sudden silky whisper that takes you by surprise.

It is – as well it should be – rich and rounded from the first breath of ozone and aldehyde that makes it sing to my synapses all the way to the gossamer drydown of that mousse de saxe base. It is bright as an errant sunbeam and later dark as the thunderclouds on a far horizon.

Mousse de Saxe gave a lot of distinction (and basso profondo) in many famous perfume bases. I can’t say it’s happened often that I’ve thought of it as sheer, but in Pandora, it is. She never shouts her presence. Instead, she wraps you in her flawless aura like a shawl made of woven Olympic air, to comfort you and heal all your worldly woes. A thunderstorm rumbles far away outside your window, but it can never touch you here.

In Greek, ‘Pandora’ means ‘the all-gifted’, because all human virtues and skills were bestowed upon her. As a last, vindictive joke, she was also given a jar as a wedding present and told never to open it, ever. (The Gods surely must have suspected this is something you never say to a woman?)

So she did – and so all the evils of the world befell humanity…but also knowledge, truth and the ability to distinguish between truth and lie, and last, but not least…she remembered to slam down the lid before hope was lost, too!

Once upon a time, I, too, felt that hope was lost for perfumery, and lost in particular for all my beloved chypres, never to return thanks to reformulation and IFRA regulations. Once upon a time, I thirsted for knowledge and true artistic vision – a way of saying something I had never heard before, or saying something I had heard before but never quite like this. I wanted perfumed revelations, I wanted journeys to places unknown, and more than anything else I wanted to believe that all hope was not lost. I wanted to believe that somewhere in the world were artists with visions and dreams and that particular elevated effortless sleight-of-hand talent money never buys.

Hope was never lost. It bloomed in a dream and a vision Dawn Spencer Hurwitz conjured up from essence and absolute, aldehyde and ambergris she bottled up and called ‘Pandora’. All I have left is my gratitude and to marvel that such beauty can still be dreamed, created and found right when hope is needed most.

One doesn’t mock the King of the Gods unpunished. Yesterday, when I grabbed my little sample vial for yet another addictive spray, it slipped from my hand and smashed on the floor. I could have swept up and tossed those spiky shards, but instead, I wrapped them up in tissue paper and one last, final, heartbreaking time, I breathed in the perfume of hope.

‘Pandora’ is available from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ website

Top: Ruby fruits (botanical accord), bergamot, aldehyde, spice notes, ozone, violet leaf absolute, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper
Rose de mai absolute, juhi jasmine, linden blossom absolute, yerba maté absolute, cabreuva wood, orris CO2, green tea absolute
Base: Mousse de Saxe accord (botanical), cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris tincture, patchouli CO2, vetiver CO2, muhuhu, Australian sandalwood, tonka bean absolute, green oakmoss, vanilla absolute

Disclosure: Sample was sent to me by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for review.

Painting: Odilon Redon, ‘Pandora’
Photo of ‘Pandora’, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Other reviews of Pandora:

❁ Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ own blog, describing her creative process
❁ EauMG
❁ Esscentual Alchemy
❁ Eyeliner On A Cat
❁ Indieperfumes
❁ Oh, true Apothecary!
❁ Perfume Pharmer
❁ ScentHive
❁ This Blog Really Stinks

The Good, the Bad and the Nasty

– on taking a stand…

Yesterday morning, I woke up to a fracas of perfume origins. One of my Primeval Forces of Perfume, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of Parfums des Beaux Arts, was requested to leave the Natural Perfumers’ Guild in a highly unprofessional, undeserved and inconsiderate manner for not being quite natural…enough to suit the Guild. A very sorry state of affairs. It’s not my place to expound on the particulars other than to say you can read all about it here.

This does, however, get me thinking about the whole natural vs. synthetic debate. Both can be equally bad – or equally fantastic. I own a few all-natural perfumes, a large selection of hybrid perfumes to varying degrees, and even three samples from Escentric Molecules that never knew a plant to begin with. I’m no fanatic – I believe that both naturals and hybrid perfumes have their place in my perfume cabinet. Just as natural perfumes contain characteristics – a soul, if you will – synthetics never can, synthetic components of a perfume can add other, equally compelling elements, including longevity. Many natural perfumes have left me less than impressed…and a few others have blown me to dandelion fluff. Some synthetic perfumes have been very complex – and others left me running to scrub them off.

You could argue with some justification that if you really DID prefer a 100% natural perfume, all you would have to do is tuck a highly scented flower behind your ear and call it a day. The labor intensive process of steam and CO2 distillation, cold pressing or enfleurage might capture the essence of the plant in question, but is it really any more ‘natural’ than cooking up a chemical brew in a lab? After all, the very process of creating a perfume, regardless of the source material, is in itself artificial.

When I first reviewed Dawn’s ‘Vert pour Madame’ with only the knowledge of her name and reputation, I immediately recognized a spectacular, visionary and unique talent that definitely registered on the SLS Major Moo scale. Since then, she herself has been incredibly welcoming, friendly and hugely supportive of an unknown perfume blogger and writer whose perspectives have irrevocably shifted and whose life has been enriched by her creations to such a degree that I can’t imagine how I’ve managed to live so long without them.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz may no longer be a member of the Natural Perfumers’ Guild, but she will always belong in that ‘nosebleed stratosphere of badass’ (to quote from Quantum Demonology) that gives her my ultimate distinction – a Primeval Force of Perfume. As such, she will always have my support, profound admiration and a prominent space in my perfume cabinet for all the marvels she has created – and the fragrant wonders that lie ahead for her prodigious talents.


Cleo Through The Cataracts

– a review of Parfums des Beaux Arts’ ‘Susinon – 1000 Lilies’

As an ancient history nutcase – I originally planned out my life as a Bronze Age archaeologist and Minoan fresco conservator – I sometimes think the strangest things. Such as…

Two thousand years ago, what must it have been like to be considered the embodiment of a god? Not just God’s representative of a nation – as was the case until fairly recently in European history, but an actual living, breathing, walking god or goddess?

These days we have supermodels and movie stars, but we also have paparazzi to tear that illusion down.

Not so in Cleopatra’s day. To the people of Egypt, she was the living Isis, the great Mother Goddess of all Egypt, and such a role meant she had certain obligations to fulfill – such as…provide the spectacle her people expected of her.

We may laugh when we watch – as I recently did – the 1963 extravaganza ‘Cleopatra’, and her unforgettable entrance into Rome – the dancing girls tossing flower petals, the slaves, and that mind-boggling gilded sphinx Elizabeth Taylor perched on surrounded by thousands of extras, but one thing the movie got right – the spectacle. This was not the sole survivor of a murderous Greek royal dynasty, this was not a mere client-Queen of Rome, this was…Isis herself, descended to Earth to gobsmack the Romans in a way they never quite forgot.

Two thousand years later, the phenomenal Dawn Spencer Hurwitz recreated several ancient Egyptian perfumes in a collaboration with the Denver Art Museum entitled ‘Secrets of Egypt’. This ancient history nutcase was so intrigued by that idea, I wished for one of them for my birthday unsniffed, and that was ‘Susinon – 1000 Lilies’, which was used to perfume the sails of Cleopatra’s barge as she sailed down the Nile, as well as many Greeks and Egyptians, too. I thought that if it were suitable for Cleopatra’s sails, it would be good enough for me.

The problem with being a lily perfume lover is that so many of them are not about lily at all, but lily-of-the-valley. Nothing against lily-of-the-valley. Lilies – big, opulent, ostentatious, super-fragrant Madonna or Easter lilies, are my most favorite flowers. At certain times of the year, the tip of my nose is always stained yellow-gold, I love them so much.

Unfortunately, Easter lily soliflores can be very hard to find. Penhaligon’s gave us the supremely elegant, utterly lovely ‘Lily and Spice’. Serge Lutens gave us ‘Un Lys’, but whether it was my sample or my nose, it smells like stargazer lily to me, and lovely as it is, it’s no Easter lily. Donna Karan’s ‘Gold’ is one of the best things to ever happen to Casablanca lilies, just not my lilies.

1000 Lilies is, I am ecstatic to say, all about Easter lily, Easter lilies of the best, most opulent, spiciest kind, the kind I’ve been looking for all these years. It starts out with a soft, spicy kick to the senses, cardamom, cinnamon and what Dawn lists as ‘fragrant wine accord’ in a nod to the original Egyptian recipe of soaking the spices and gums in wine before adding the ‘1000 lilies’. You will not walk about wafting eau-de-Bordeaux, this I can promise you. Not more than a few minutes after that initial spicy spark, the merest whisper of galbanum and the peekaboo ylang ylang, ‘the beautiful one comes’…the lily, the epitome of lily, the lily I so wanted all those other blooms to be yet somehow never were.

This lily sings with a clarion call as clear and as vivid as the trumpets of its flowers, even with the many seamless notes that all add up to lily, with that hint of saffron and the rose otto, and the gossamer, honeyed drydown of sandalwood, myrrh and sweet flag.

1000 Lilies is, in several words, the perfect Easter lily. It has that same fragrant kick you get when you bury your nose in a flowery trumpet and luckily none of the pollen that is so hard to wash off. It is a natural perfume, so it will wear close to the skin, but lasts surprisingly well all the same. I’ve sprayed it on my hair in the morning and caught lily tangles by bedtime.

So I sit, not for the first time and I dearly hope not the last, and thank the goddess Bast, who ruled the making of perfumes in Egypt, that we have Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

She gave all of us green chypre fan guys and gals the verdant wonders of Vert pour Madame, and now, she gave this lily lover the lily I’ve been missing all these years, and what is more – caught my imagination in a Cleopatra moment of my own.

I can sniff and dream myself away now, dream of a time over two thousand years ago and imagine I’m Cleopatra as I sail down the Nile with my dashing older Roman general, and show him the wonders that are Egypt. I can wave one languorous hand towards the shore, lined with my people who wave as we sail on towards the cataracts, warned by the scent of my sails that always precedes me, wafting Goddess-like fumes across the river that gleams molten gold in the westering afternoon sun.

Suddenly, there is a shout from the shore, and in my perfumed daydream, I can hear the language that was ancient as time when Rome was still a village full of warriors, and in one of those moments that happen only in Egypt, time stands still and I hear the words…

‘The beautiful one comes!’

I blink, and I’m back in a heartbeat in the whirling, swirling 21st century, and I am no Cleopatra, but only myself, wrapped in the perfumed clarion trumpet call of 1000 Lilies, sailing towards the cataracts of my life…

Top: Cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, fragrant wine accord, galbanum
Heart: Kenya lily, narcissus absolute, orris root, pink lotus, saffron absolute, Turkish rose otto, ylang ylang
Base: Australian sandalwood, honey, myrrh gum, sweet flag

‘Susinon – 1000 Lilies is available from Parfums des Beaux Arts.

Image:, from the 1963 20th Century Fox production of ‘Cleopatra’.

Coming Attractions

– The thrills, spills and chills ahead!

Ladies, gentlemen and sentient lifeforms, it has been…an amazing spring and early summer for Scent Less Sensibilities. I have tried things I never would have thought, loved what I never would have thought I could, expanded my own olfactory universe in ever-larger quantum leaps, and more than anything, I’ve been completely flabbergasted by the responses, comments and support I’ve received. Thanks to some Great Facilitators – you know who you are and that I adore you, right? – and some equally fantabulous ‘fumes, SLS, which started as a sort of joke almost a year ago, has taken off in ways both great and small and all of them appreciated, but the fun just never stops, does it? I’ve come to realize that a little (well, make that a lot!) of discipline is in order, so now I’ve begun to map out my reviews in the weeks to come. If I don’t, I’ll surely go down in flames…

Here’s a sneak peak at some of those coming attractions:

Once upon a time, I was an Amouage ignoramus, and willfully so. One look at those price tags, and …no. Just no. Nothing could ever be that good. I have never been so thrilled at having to eat my own words. Well, as some of you know, not a few of them…are. That. Good. The one that made me cry, the one I was helpless to resist, the one I loved but couldn’t wear, and the collection that surprised me so much, I’m still wondering how to find the hooks to describe them. Next week is Amouage Week. Tomorrow morning I have a heavy date with ‘Memoir Woman’, to be followed throughout next week by Memoir Man, the Library Collection of Opus I – V, and the much anticipated Honour Man and Woman. You might be surprised. I know I was.

The brave new world of natural perfumes has been a revelation in all the best and most luminous, numinous ways. I can thank Lucy of Indieperfumes for introducing me to these new marvels, and for introducing me to Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes, for which I can never, ever thank her enough. I’ve reviewed Mandy’s astonishing ‘Cepes and Tuberose’ and ‘Candide’, and you can expect to read more of her breathtaking, faint-making perfumes in the weeks to come. If you haven’t read it yet, beg, buy or borrow a copy of her book ‘Essence and Alchemy’. Suddenly, everything perfumery makes sense – and scents, too!

Another prodigious talent will also receive her own spotlight – the prolific Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. I had read so many things about her, I didn’t know what to think, but it had to be good. It was better. When your favorite perfume genre is resurrected from the cold, dead IFRA ashes and is as gorgeous as Vert Pour Madame, you know it’s all good. Dawn has recently collaborated with the Denver Art Museum on their ‘Cities of Splendor’ exhibition of the Italian Renaissance, and I get to try her recreations of Renaissance perfumery. And…

Liz Zorn of Soivohle is another natural perfumer and undiscovered talent here in Europe, but that won’t last if I can do anything about it. Likewise, JoAnne Bassett, whose ‘Sensual Embrace’ convinced even this anti-musk rat that maybe I was…wrong? What have I been missing all these years?

One toothache that won’t go away is my leaden guilt over not yet reviewing several from a line I’ve loved with a fury all spring: Ormonde Jayne. Something must be done! So it will. Read all about it!

In the eleven months of SLS, I have to the best of my knowledge only reviewed one perfume that left me completely cold. Just to stir up a little trouble (a favorite occupation!), I have plans to review one I absolutely hate. You might be surprised!

I have a busy summer ahead of me. So perhaps I had better clam up and start writing…:)