Monday, June 30, 2008

A Summer of Irises: Iris Pallida is Llorando

L’Artisan Iris Pallida is an expensive but incredible fragrance.

According to Now Smell This,
Iris Pallida is based on Tuscan Iris, the symbol of Florence. The notes include lily of the valley, orange blossom, Turkish rose, anise, violet leaves, cedar, vetiver, iris absolute, ambrette seed, white musk, gaïac wood and patchouli.
I love Iris Pallida. I know it’s expensive. Really more expensive than it has any right to be, honestly. But at the same time, it moves me. Some scents are like that. When you smell them, they move you emotionally. To me, Iris Pallida is the saddest perfume in the world, and each and every time I smell it I have the sensation of a sob catching in the back of my throat.

It’s a beautiful iris, pure and strong. It's not rooty like some irises, or particularly flowery and sweet like others. It’s not a complex smell; it holds more or less the same scent on me for hours. There’s little change for initial application through dry down, though it does soften over time. To me, this softening completes the conveyance of the emotional moment, as though you are suddenly moved to tears by something, and then you feel a release as you give in and begin to cry after holding it back as long as you can. In fact, this video, this moment of music in film, is precisely how smelling Iris Pallida makes me feel:

What's more, Iris Pallida is a limited edition. So even though it is the most expensive perfume I can ever imagine myself buying, I might just do it. I've smelled quite a few irises now, but only this one is actually emotion in a bottle.

Video from David Lynch's film "Mulholland Drive."

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

They twist, and I'll twist...

So, David and I have returned from the great dramarama of Disney reunion 2008. Sufficed to say, there are quite a few things I'd have undone about the weekend, not the least of which was getting unbelievably sick. My ears, nose, and throat are a-ringy-dingy-dinging, making it impossible to enjoy one of the good things about the trip: there is a GIANT Sephora in downtown Disney.

Let me make this plain -- Portland is no backwater. Certainly there are Sephora stores here, but none that I live near. Going to Sephora in Portland requires a half hour pilgrimage each way, and I tend to work in the opposite direction. So walking past a giant Sephora 2-3x a day on vacation is bound to test the will of any devoted sniffa. I held out until the last day, but have since returned with...bottle number 13.

Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle is lovely. According to Chanel, the notes are:
Top Notes: Orange, Bergamot, Grapefruit.
Middle Notes: Litchi, Rose, Italian Jasmine.
Base Notes: Indonesian Patchouli, Haitian Vetiver, Bourbon Vanilla, White Musk.
Now I admit that my nose has been a little off, but on me it reads as a light, lemon cirtusy scent, perfect for the blaring heat I was experiencing in June in L.A. There five days and without a cloud in the sky, most of the stuff I took with me was not cutting it. It all seemed too rich, too heavy, too warm, too much. I did sport Annick Goutal's Songes, which always makes me think of the beach, and Red Flower's Guaiac, but neither were wearing as well as I would have liked given the amount of direct heat and perspiring I was doing whilst I stood in line for my fourth go at Space Mountain. (As my friend Kate pointed out, it's amazing what you can do with the advanced technology of disco balls.) Coco Mademoiselle was light enough, not too sweet, and flowery without being powdery, thus meeting the challenge.

Post-purchase, I discovered that Emma Watson has signed a two-year deal to front Mademoiselle. Personally, I think this is an improvement over Keira Knightly. I am amused to think I now own Hermione Granger’s perfume!

Lastly, I have to say, I think perfume may be the best souvenir I could have opted for. My olfactory memory is, like most people’s, very strong, and now when I catch a whiff of Mademoiselle, I immediately have a little déjà vu experience that warm California sun. This fortuitous discovery may encourage more holiday perfume shopping on future adventures. Why buy $30-40 of t-shirts, key rings, pint glasses, and other bric-a-brac when you can have the joy of juice and all its attendant memories?

"Well the girls are frisky in old ‘Frisco
A pretty little chick wherever you go
A-a-and they'll walk and I'll walk...
Well they're out there a'havin' fun
In that warm California sun."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

It might be unbelievable...but don't get me wrong.

I counted today. In three months, I have acquired:

85 samples, 12 bottles, 2 books, and a startling love for perfume. And a little bit of debt, if I'm honest.

I cannot imagine myself winging away to Sniffa until I have a real job and am finished with school/the bar/getting settled into a new place, but I would say that I am deep in the throes of a developing perfume habit. It haunts me in the night. "More juice!" a voice whispers in my ear. "Must have more juice!"

I have also realized that I have very different sampling habits than the grand dames of net.perfumista-ing. I tend not to sample more than one thing at a time unless I'm comparing things within the same scent 'family' (which mostly exist in my head, but consist of trying two or three roses or irises side by side until I figure out which one I will actually buy). I tend to sample something across an entire day, usually giving it an afternoon reapply as I would anything else. Unless I have multiple events of *very* different sorts on the same day, I tend to stick with one thing throughout, though I might try something else at night as I sleep. I will drive home at lunch if I forget to scent in the morning. It has gotten so bad I have samples stashed in my desk at work -- at all three jobs!

And lastly, but perhaps most important to me, is that I wear the things I have bottles of. Not all the time. Not as a signature scent. But more often than I sample. I think I sample three days a week and wear somerthing I genuinely like the other four. And my comfort scent, the scent I really go to when I feel nervous or scared, is L'Artisan Dzing! Not exactly uncomplicated, but in sync with me on those days when I feel nervous or intimidated by life. I smell it on myself throughout the day, and it makes me smile, and then I feel better. Like hearing a favorite song or walking down the street wearing headphones. It's like a secret language you speak only to yourself.

I think tomorrow is going to be a Chanel day. I finally received my bottle of Chanel No. 5 EDT. It is my first "classic" acquisition. If I don't wake up with a case of the Mondays, I will probably try it out with my aqua button down. If, however, tomorrow morning comes as fast as my currently tired bones anticipated, I think I will need something *far* crankier...maybe CB's Memory of Fire or INeKE's Derring-do? It would go well with my cranky morning blouse. On bad days at work, sometimes I calculate how many samples I can get for an hour of work. If I tell myself "every 12 minutes is another new olfactory adventure" sometimes those long afternoons aren't so bad.

Don't get me wrong,
ff I come and go like fashion.
I might be great tomorrow
but hopeless yesterday...
Don't get me wrong.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

You know I used to be a bad girl....

A few weeks ago Kate & I saw Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, which I loved. Smart dialog, historically interesting, and the lovely Amy Adams.

Since then, I have been thinking about how much I enjoy Amy Adams. I first saw her a few years ago in Junebug, where she managed to be lovable in a pitiable story, hopeful and upbeat in the face of genuine tragedy. I saw the film by myself, sitting in the Vancouver theatre one night when I really needed a break from my university job, and I was just overwhelmed. Here was a story about the inability of one woman to communicate or appreciate across lines of class and education, who was made that much more deplorable by the naive, sweet, undereducated and overly optimistic girl who comes to worship her. Amy Adams plays a lovely young thing trapped by circumstance, who refuses to think of herself or her life as unhappy even as she acknowledges via perverse fascination that there is more to the world than the tiny torn corner of the page she gets to live it in.

In Pettigrew she almost plays a different version of that girl, one who passes up marriage and a baby to escape, but in doing so seems to lose her center of gravity. In this case, she is aided by the older, more experienced and slightly jaded Pettigrew (played admirably by Frances McDormand), and once again seems to have figured out at the end what is important to her, even if it would be lesser than by other's standards.

How many of us live lives that loved ones or passersby might think hold unacceptable sacrifices or resignations? We all fight battles, but we chose, for ourselves, which ones are worth demanding a win in and which disappointments are the ones we can live with. Sometimes I think part of growing up is realizing that everyone makes concessions, and no one can predict or judge -- not even one's younger self -- what those might be. I never thought I would be happy sacrificing some of the things I have, but by and large I do not miss them. At the same time, I am surprised by the things that I find missing, the things that bother me more than a younger me could have ever anticipated -- particularly, the lack of connection to blood family. I'd love to, as Julia Roberts said so poignantly in Steel Magnolias, "sit on a porch, covered in grandchildren, yelling 'No!' and 'Stop that!'" But neither Shelby nor I seem to be headed for such a fate. At the same time, I don't see myself being sad about a footloose and fancy free life of travel and adventure.

At the same time, I do not regret my choices. But on occasion,I find them worth reflecting on because they have lead me places I never expected. For the type-A obsessive planner I am, I continue to find that part of life pleasantly surprising.

I used to love to do the things they tell me not to do,
but now I'm different--now I sing a new song.

~ Everclear, "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom"