Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A word about slowness of posting...

I am having serious fits with Blogger recently, to the tune of trying to post my review of Etat Libre d'Orange Tilda Swinton Like This for basically a week, but the posting page kept being far too broken to function.  As much as I love my blogger-blog, I am thinking of relocating to WordPress if this keeps up.  Anyone have any thoughts? Opinions? Advice? 


Also, fall is already coming to Portland.  David's staff arrives this week!  Can you believe that photo above that I took?  For realsies.  

"The summer ends and we wonder who we are.
And there you go, my friends, with your boxes in your car.
And today I passed the high school, the river, the maple tree.
I passed the farms that made it
through the last days of the century.
And I knew that I was going to learn again,
again, in this less hazy light
I saw the fields beyond the fields,
The fields beyond the fields..."
~ "End of Summer," Dar Williams

I love you when you give me things.

Etat Libre d'Orange Tilda Swinton Like This

"The real science is discovery, Charles, not invention. The truths are there, whether we find them, or not." - Peter MacNicol as Dr. Larry Fleinhardt, NUMB3RS

I heard this said on a tv show I watch recently, and of course, like everything else, it made me think of perfume. Do we ever ‘create’ scent, really? Or is the creation of perfume really just a matter of discovery? Out there lays a vast ocean of scent, and we just wander around in it, waiting to happen upon a new sensation or old memory. So when it comes to the new Etat Libre d'Orange scent, Tilda Swinton Like This, I have some discovery related intrepidation. You see, the Rumi poem that supposedly inspired the scent? Also the poem from whence my husband’s wedding vows to me came from.

Yep.

He took it from an illustrated book of Rumi poetry I gave him early in our courtship.  So, basically this scent had a lot of very specific things it had to live up to in order to please me.

According to Etat Libre d'Orange , the scent came about like this:
I have never been a one for scents in bottles.

I have always located my favourite fragrances at the doorways of kitchens, in the heart of a greenhouse, at the bottom of a garden. Scent means place to me: place and state of mind – even state of grace. Certainly state of ease.

My favourite smells are the smells of home, the experience of the reliable recognizable after the exotic adventure: the regular – natural – turn of the seasons, simplicity and softness after the duck and dive of definition in the wide, wide world.

When Mathilde Bijaoui first asked me what my own favorite scent in a bottle might contain, I described a magic potion that I could carry with me wherever I went that would hold for me the fragrance – the spirit – of home.

The warm ginger of new baking on a wood table, the immortelle of a fresh spring afternoon, the lazy sunshine of my grandfather’s summer greenhouse, woodsmoke and the whisky peat of the Scottish Highlands after rain.

I told her about a bottle of spirit, something very simple, to me: something almost indescribable, so personal it should be.

The miracle is that Mathilde made it.

The great Sufi poet Rumi wrote:

If anyone wants to know what “spirit” is,
or what “God’s fragrance” means,
lean your head toward him or her.
Keep your face there close.
Like this.


This is possibly my favourite poem of all time. It restores me like the smoke/rain/gingerbread/greenhouse my scent-sense is fed by. It is a poem about simplicity, about human-scaled miracles. About trust. About home.

In my fantasy there is a lost chapter of Alice in Wonderland – after the drink saying Drink Me, after the cake pleading Eat Me – where the adventuring, alien, Alice, way down the rabbit hole, far fro m the familiar and maybe somewhat homesick – comes upon a modest glass with a ginger stem reaching down into a pale golden scent that humbly suggests: Like This…
My goodness! She does go on, doesn’t she? Well at least she had some ideas about what kind of scent she wanted her name on, distinguishing her from a lot of celebrities.

The purported notes are “yellow mandarin, ginger, pumpkin, immortelle, neroli, rose, vetiver, heliotrope and musk.“ Other reviewers have described it as a non-foodie pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, etc. scent. Me? Here are, unedited, my immediate stream of consciousness reactions:

Wow. This is weird. What the hell do I smell? Celery smoothie, a fresh box of crayons, cantaloupe juice spilled on a silk tie, and day old instant coffee all at once. Or...pumpkin bread with an overwhelming dose of coriander, if it were left in the sun on the sidewalk for three days in a plastic baggie and is now covered in that whitish mold. And then taken and covered in maple syrup and served for Sunday brunch. Or maybe someone made you a pumpkin latte with soy milk but the flavor syrup they used was cantaloupe?

Despite all those food words I just used, I agree with everyone who said it isn’t foodie. The scents I can think of that Like This reminds me of are SJP Covet and Bvlgari BLV Pour Homme. I tried all three together after my first go with Like This on it's own so that, like the bear who went over the mountain, I could see what I could see.

Like This is a more muted version of both, making it better than Covet (which is the weakest of the three) and making it less rich than BLV Pour Homme. While Covet is sharp like astringent, BLV Pour Homme is savory like a main course and Like This is sweet like a fancy dessert of fresh fruit poached in dessert wine. At this point, about 30 minutes in, Like This is the best of the three if you're trying to find a feminine in this vein. Around the two and a half hour mark Like This and Covet are completely indistinguishable on me, and neither is a particularly likable experience.

And I hate that. I do. I hate it when a scent everyone else seems to love just fizzles on me. And I really can't believe no one else noticed the similarity to Covet, as far as I can tell.  Of the three, I'd be most inclined to buy the muscular BLV Pour Homme for about a fifth of the price of Like This instead. But when I think of the Rumi poem, this is, in no world of mine, what it smells like. Ah, well. On to the next scent.

And with that, I leave you with this: The song David and I had our first dance to, five years ago this October.

"The book of love is long and boring
And written very long ago
It's full of flowers and heart-shaped boxes
And things we're all too young to know but
I...
I love it when you give me things and
You...
You ought to give me wedding rings."

- "The Book of Love," Magnetic Fields (You can listen to the song here)

You can buy Tilda Swinton Like this in 50ml for $99 from Luckyscent. However, I strongly recommend trying before buying on this one. You can get samples from either Luckyscent or The Perfumed Court.

Want more reviews? Try...
~ a review from Angela at Now Smell This!
~ a review from Perfume-Smellin’ Things
~ a review from the Non-Blonde
~ a review from Perfume Posse
~ a review from The Scented Salamander
~ a review from 1000 Fragrances
~ a review from Perfume Shrine
~ a review from London Makeup Girl
~ a review from peredepierre

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

And when you kiss me, I'm happy enough to die.

Jo Malone Orange Blossom

Let me say right now how good it is to be open-minded when it comes to perfume. For example, after trying L’Artisan’s Fleur d'Oranger 2007 and not finding it all that fascinating, I just didn't think I'd be that into orange blossom/neroli scents. Nice, but nothing I was wild about.

Then I was in the mall the other day and, on a whim, I got a generous 2.5ml sprayer sample of Jo Malone Orange Blossom. Jo Malone describes Orange Blossom as follows:
The scent of clementine leaves in the morning dew sparkles above a heart of orange blossom and water lily, transporting the wearer to a garden oasis.
In the intervening ten days, I’ve used up the whole sample. This is remarkable for a number of reasons. One, I have hundreds of samples, so it’s rare to reach for the same sample more than one use at a time. Two, it hasn’t been all that hot here, and I generally think of orange blossom as a warmer weather scent. Three, I honestly did not think I liked orange blossom scents at all.

And yet, I am so taken with Jo Malone’s Orange Blossom. The initial application is just as lemony bitter little thing, it quickly grows sweeter in an orangey way, which is so delightful! Where Fleur d'Oranger 2007 is this wispy, faint scent that seems more about being an embodiment of aesthetic than a real scent, Orange Blossom amplifies all its good qualities to become this wonderful presentation of flowers on orange trees, gentle and sweet and warm and light and a little bitter, but strong enough to be real and yet simultaneously complimentary to the wearer. Its both orangey and lemon-limey, but not in a fake cola way, and less bitter or salt and peppery than Fleur d’Oranger 2007. It both stands alone and warps to accentuate the wearer at the same time, and wears well at both low 60 degree weather and high 80 degree weather. I can imagine it being worn equally by a young woman in a polo uniform, cap, pony tail, and knee high black riding boots on her champion pony and by a young woman wearing a red and white checked shirt with rolled sleeves, Wranglers, and well-worn cowboy boots who washes down stalls as part of her weekly chores. It seems to flexible to fit any kind of woman, from high class to working class, and yet is just strong enough to stand on its own.

Even now, as I write this while sniffing at what is left of my sample on my hand, I still am truly shocked by how much I like it. I mean, Jo Malone, while well-made, is really not supposed to outshine a L’Artisan limited edition scent, particularly one that costs a 3x the price. But Jo Malone has won my heart. It’s true. And though I honestly thought I wasn’t all that into anything orange blossom based, here I am clamoring for a bottle. And this, dear readers, is a great reminder that you should never rule out a scent based on what you’ve thought of others with similar notes. It might be the one that wins you over. In my case, it certainly opened the door to more experiences with neroli/orange blossom scents.

"There’s a ghost in my lungs
and it talks in my sleep,
wraps itself around my tongue
as it softly speaks.
Then in walks, then in walks,
then in walks with my legs
to fall, to fall
to fall at your feet."

- "I’m Not Calling You a Liar," Florence + the Machine
(You can listen to the song here)

Want more reviews? Try...
~ a review from Ayala at SmellyBlog
~ a mention from EauMG