Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Fall Scent Exploration: CB's Gathering Apples

The cool breeze sweeping through my window means fall is coming. Fall is my favorite season. I love the changing leaves, their colors and the way they crunch underfoot. I love the smells, the burning wood in stoves, the ripening of fall fruits, the musk of wet wool sweaters, slightly mothball-y or cedar-chipped and newly aired from storage.

This fall brings a new challenge. As a newly minted perfumista, this is my first fall, which means my first attempts at finding fall scents of my own. This is an exciting opportunity for exploration, and one I look forward to.

I am launching my fall exploration, appropriately I think, with CB I Hate Perfume's Gathering Apples. The CB line belongs to New York-based perfumer Christopher Brosius, who espouses a hatred for traditional perfume, and this has come up with a line of scents aimed at mimicking good smells that might not traditionally be made into perfume. Gathering Apples is described as
Does the smell of apples make you happy? It should, as studies show. I used to love to go with my father to pick up the apples from the local orchard. I can still recall the scent of hundreds of bushels of ripe red apples glowing in the cold room.
Even now the memory makes me smile.

Thousands of Ripe Red Mackintosh Apples and a bit of old weathered wood from the bushel baskets.
And when you smell it, you know what it smells like? Apples. This is just what it says it is. It does not smell like a chemically cobbled facsimile of apples, it smells like apples. Like the juice that runs down your chin after biting into a first fall harvest apple. It's not sweet like the refined sugar of an apple strudel, but sweet like fresh fruit, like nature. CB captures the smell perfectly, which is applause worthy because it is as authentic an apple as you will find on any bottle—quite a feat given how frequently it is attempted. That said, by itself, Gathering Apples makes a better room spray (which it comes in) than a wearable scent.

Not be dissuaded, however, I tried layering it with CB's Smokey Tobacco Accord. On me, it wears beautifully as long as I am careful not to wear too much of the smoke, which will overpower the apples. Which was nice, but not enough to invest in Gathering Apples as something I’d wear a lot. It’s the best on the market for what it does, but smelling like apples, in the end, is not what I guess I prefer to smell like.

If Gathering Apples is your style, you can buy it directly from CB on his site.
Images from Photobucket.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Sweetness Follows: 100% Love.

It would be a lie to say that I never had good experiences with family. While our relationships were, at best, complicated and difficult, and, at worst, violent and cruel, there were things and times and people that I loved and love still. It’s the kind of love forged from common experiences and common roots and the formation of some fundamental building blocks of identity, not from common goals or values. It’s the family/personhood of origin, not the family/personhood of creation or choice, held in common with those people who, for whatever reason, you share blood and history with.

In that same vein, I’ve realized how great 100% Love is. Like the idea of going home, it took a while for 100% Love by S-Perfumes to grow on me. The Guide saddles it with the handle of “chocolate rose.” Created by Sophia Grojsman, 100% Love is described as
The pulpy erotic part of a secret red fruit, the rich, deep and velvety skin of a dark natural rose by L.M.R., a ray of green sap from the rose's thorn, a mystical "concoction" of incense and black cacao.
My love (no pun intended) for 100% Love is, in part, a reflection on the improvement of my nose. When I first sniffed it, about six months ago, I did not love it. Too light, too airy, too thin, too simple. Nope. Not for me. But, like a good little level one perfumista in training, I took the advice of those with vastly more developed sniffers than mine. I set it aside to try again later. About a month ago, I bought a small spray sample to try it again (the first came in a 1.5ml tube sampler, and the sprayer with this one really did make all the difference), and all of the sudden, I saw its genius. 100% Love was a light, sweet and liquored cloud hanging around me, like single barrel whiskey or really good rum mixed with sweet cola and grenadine. One of the more pleasurable memories I have from my childhood is that when my father would drag my brother and I around to the extra jobs he worked at a group of 610-Loop Houston hotels, he would lead us into the bar and ply us with all the Roy Rogers we could drink, complete with red plastic swords stacked with cherries. When I smell 100% Love, it smells like those drinks.

100% Love also reminds me of the boxes of cherry cordials my father bought every year at holidays. While there was always the inevitable Whitman Sampler for Christmas, and my mother received a giant heart-shaped box of chocolates every Valentines, the cheap cherry cordials picked up at the local drugstore meant a good mood, a happy time to be shared. And when I spray on 100% Love, I feel a lost sort of love, the love that comes from having had certain shared wins and loses, shared joys and sorrows, shared anger and resentment and regret…and the naivete of youth and its inability of processing the complex emotions that come with family at the time. Nostalgic and sweet, with a tiny sour note or dark mark inevitable on the horizon. Like a little girl in a bar with her drunken father, blissfully unaware of the alcoholism that will eventually kill him, slurping down Roy Rogers with lots of cherries. Like the soft and fluttery feeling of rose petals from the bush my grandmother’s backyard brushed across skin, rose bushes that would one day later, unforeseeably and inexplicably, cease to bloom again. A little drunk…a little sad…on chocolate and roses and an unshakable love that lies so deep inside you that you can run from it, but never escape.

Readying to bury your father and your mother,
what did you think when you lost another?
I used to wonder why did you bother,
distanced from one, blind to the other.

Live your life filled with joy and wonder.
I always knew this altogether thunder
was lost in our little lives.

Oh..., oh..., but sweetness follows.

Another perspective can be found in Robin’s review over at Now Smell This! Also, special shout out to Angela, who gifted me with a totally undeserved bottle of 100% Love. It made my week.

Drink image courtesy of instructables.com.
Cordials from Sanders Candy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Summer of Irises: Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist is described simply as
Wooded and powdery iris, gracefully.
Now Smell This! has the notes for Iris Silver Mist as “iris pallida root, galbanum, cedar, sandalwood, clove, vetiver, musk, benzoin, incense, and white amber.”

Lots of reviewers have commented on the quirky way that Iris Silver Mist goes on. It isn’t plasticy sweet like a lip-balmed teen kiss like Infusion d’Iris and it sure isn’t the mournful one note, straight tone lament that I love about Iris Pallida. The word I have settled on, after trying it four or five times, is one that lots of other reviews have seized on: weird.

Iris Silver Mist is weird. It’s original. It’s unique, quirky, and really speaks to the ability of perfume to be a one of a kind, you really will never smell anything like it, a work of art. It’s so spicy on me; I pick up on the clove and incense right away. One of the weird things about it as how green it seems, how alive. This is Iris the Living Organism, not Iris the Flirt or Iris the Lonely Soul. It feels like a breathing creature that is traveling on and around you, not something you happen to wear. Iris Silver Mist is not something that enhances you, it’s something you experience. On me in the dry down, it floats just above my skin, lightening up quite a bit as the sandlewood bleeds in. But it lives on, along with you, and it lasts and lasts. I was surprised at how clingy it became on me after such a strong start, like a herky-jerky romance.

On the whole, nice, and certainly worth experiencing, which thanks to samples available over at The Perfumed Court, you can do. Which is good, because Iris Silver Mist is on the SL “exclusives” list and can only be found at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, where 75ml goes for €100.00. SL will not ship exclusives outside of Europe, so unless you've got a nice friend in Europe, it will be tough to find otherwise.

A review from Bois de Jasmin, Robin’s review over at Now Smell This!, and yet another review over at Perfume Smellin’ Things.

Photo from Flickr.