Saturday, August 13, 2011

And she was lying in the grass, and she could hear the highway breathing.

Scent Spotlight: Demeter Fragrance Libary Grass, also PRIZE DRAW and head-to-head scent delivery method comparison.

In case you missed it, we've been experiencing some technical difficulties here at Feminine Things, which are hopefully now resolved. Also, life has been crazy, with the moving twice and being short staffed at work. But enough about the bad; let's focus on the good in life. And in my world? That means the perfume.

I bring you a strange challenge today. I was talking on twitter to Victoria and Carrie (and I think Gaia as well) about Demeter Fragrance line. I love the CB I Hate Perfume line, and Demeter is Christopher Brosius' former employer. I had never tried Demeter scents and, given the low price point, asked what people thought before I went nuts about bought 10-15 of them unsniffed. The general response from the tubes – great scents but not terribly long lasting, better suited for room sprays than perfumes.

Considering my purchases and related powers of acquisition, I noticed in my dithering of do-I-or-don’t-I that Demeter added a perfume oil version available in a rollerball. Would a perfume oil last longer, as advertised, and fix the major criticism of the line? Or perhaps the alcohol based spray or splash was fine, but needed the spray-until-wet technique I learned from Mals at Muse in Wooden Shoes? Only one way to find out.

So I did exactly what any truly insane perfumista would do – bought the same scent twice in both forms.

Yes, that’s right. I couldn’t buy two different scents because I wouldn’t truly be able to tell if the scent lasted longer because it was stronger or I noticed it more or the method of scent delivery (oil roll on vs. alcohol spray) was the better choice. Nope, the only option was two buy two bottles of the same scent. I managed to pick up a 15ml cologne splash for $6 and the 8.8ml roll-on for $10, so for a whopping $16 plus shipping, I got my mad wish, though I admit that the entire over-the-top endeavor is probably inspired by my most recent Top Gear binge.
Random thoughts about grass...

After scrolling through the extensive list of Demeter scents and considering everything from Basil to Birthday Cake to Salt Air to Mulled Cider, I finally settled on, of all things, Demeter Grass. FN1. Yes, Grass. What can I say? It’s summer and I love a good freshly mowed lawn. The description, which is lengthy, is as follows:

Playing in it.......lying on it......or even mowing it....Grass smells wonderful. Centipede grass, the most widely used lawn grass in the southeast United States, has something of a romantic history. Around 1918, the U.S. Department of Agriculture sent a Dr. Meyer, a plant explorer, to China in search of plants that might be economically useful. Tragically, before his return home Chinese bandits killed Dr. Meyer. His suitcases arrived in the U.S. where a collection of seeds was found, including a packet of Chinese centipede grass seeds. That packet of seed was sent to a USDA experimental station near Savannah, Georgia. In the early 1920's, Jack Renfroe took four sprigs of the grass to his father, Mr. Riley Renfroe, who had a 400 acre farm near Quitman. Three of those sprigs survived and were planted in a pasture. In 1950, Ray Jensen, a soil scientist for the USDA, visited the Renfroe farm to make a soil survey. Although 96 years old, Mr. Riley Renfroe wanted to accompany Jensen on the survey. That evening the two settled down to a wonderful southern dinner and that is when the story of the centipede grass on the Renfroe farm was told. Ray Jensen had just finished building his home on 20th Street in Tifton, Georgia. Mr. Renfroe insisted he take a pickup load home with him for his yard, where Jensen planted all the grass. The following year Jensen contracted Mr. Renfroe to produce centipede seed from the 40 acre pasture he had developed from just three live sprigs of the Chinese grass. Ray Jensen had a vision to produce and sell this wonderful grass and seed and offer it as a foundation to southern homes and businesses. From China to Washington, DC, to Savannah to Quitman to Tifton, to the entire southeast and beyond, from one small packet of seed and three live sprigs, today centipede grass can be found on lawns and ornamental turf areas around the world. In Demeter’s Grass Pick-Me-Up Cologne, we have captured the freshness and sweetness of a lush green grass pasture, much like the pasture that Mr. Riley Renfroe planted with centipede grass from those three live springs over 80 years ago.
...contained in footnotes below.
First let’s talk about the scent. I grew up playing and lazying about on those fabled lawns of the American South and I know that smell, so familiar it plays on repeat in the memory of summer when I think about my life. As a ‘grass’ scent, let me say this – the scent itself is wonderful. It does smell like fresh cut grass, but less like the real deal spread between the fingers of your outstretched hand and more like an intense sculpture of grass, or like a wild Van Gogh-esque painting of fresh grass. It is a very sweet grass, and almost has a little bit of a soapy edge, but is really quite beautiful. My friend, Kate, said she thought it was more like clover, and I can see that.  For someone who wasn’t sure if they liked scent, or thought all scents were too “perfumey” this might make a good offering, though I can also see some critique of the scent reminding folks of a clothes detergent, as I suspect that this is what they’re always aiming for when they aim for grass or nature scents. I also want to say that this isn't so much real grass as the intense experience of grass, like grass as one might imagine experiencing it on a perception altering substance. FN2. I give the scent itself a solid 3.5 to 4 nods for originality and closeness to reality.

But to the more important question, in a head-to-head scent off, which lasts longer – perfume oil or alcohol splash, and how long is that, exactly? Here are my totally subjective findings.

The cologne splash lasted longer than the perfume oil on me, though when I first applied them, the oil was stronger on my skin. The dry down between the two, at least for Grass, was virtually identical, so you’re going to get the same ride either way. The cologne splash lasted a little over five hours in the slightest lingering, slightly longer than others warned me. The oil lasted even less than that, only about three and a half hours, which really surprised me, particularly when it started out so much stronger. Either way, a disappointingly short skin life.

Hmmm... grass...
Just to give it a last run, I took the splash and stuck some in a sprayer, then sprayed until wet, and that got me to almost seven hours, though it was very weak by then, and you’d go through a bottle pretty fast to use that much. Plus, it sprays on so wet you’d need to apply it before getting dressed so it didn’t run all into your clothes. In other words, it takes work to make it last, and even then it’s not a scent you'll still be catching whiffs of at the end of a full day.

So is it worth it? Well, I guess that depends. On the one hand, the scents aren’t going to last long in any iteration. On the other hand – so cheap and so many options! And on the gripping hand, some days you don’t want to wear the same scent for your morning and your evening plans, and in those cases this is a fine option. For a mere $18 you could go through three scents in one day. I don’t recommend the line for those looking for a ‘signature scent,’ but for those who like to play with scent wardrobe, for the price of one $60 scent, you can have ten completely different ones here. That makes them not only a fun addition to my extensive collection, but a great source for assuaging impulse shopping and stocking stuffers.

Which brings me, finally, to this: Your August prize draw. A bit late, sure, but here nonetheless. Winner gets my extra roller ball of Demeter Grass, a $10 gift certificate to Demeter Fragrances which is almost enough to buy you a 15ml cologne splash of your choosing and cover shipping within the U.S. (sorry, international readers, you’ll have to pay a little more for the shipping) and of course, a mix CD made by yours truly.

To enter, go to the Demeter Fragrance site (which is not AT ALL attractive, but at least appeals to the utilitarian in me), look through the list, and tell me what you might buy if you win!

Open to all readers anywhere, and very excited to hear your thoughts.

To enter please post by: 12:01AM, Monday, August 22, 2011 Pacific Standard Time.

"And she was drifting through the backyard...
And she was taking off her dress...
And she was moving very slowly...
Rising up above the earth...
Moving into the universe, and she's
Drifting this way and that...
Not touching ground at all, and she's
Up above the yard...
and she was."

"And She Was," Talking Heads

FN1. I actually changed my mind so many times that I would have sworn to you with the delivered box unopened and in hand that I'd bought Salt Air, because I love going to the beach and do that a lot during the summers here, but apparently I changed my mind at the last minute. I think I decided I had a lot of 'beachy' scents already. I honestly don't remember. Now that I've been convinced it was coming, though, I want it. And I did just get paid today...

FN2. Not that I would know anything about that. It just seems that way, like when you look at a Van Gogh and you think, "Whatever he was on must have been wonderful!" or look at a HR Giger and think, "Holy Jesus, keep whatever he was taking away from me!"
I bet David Lynch could even make this
creepy...oh, wait! He did! In Blue Velvet!

FN3. I just want to make a note that there are a creepily large number of photos that turn up when you google image search "girl laying on grass" or even "person laying on grass" and you can make out the individual's identity in every one. Apparently artsy shots of obscured human figures on grass are not common, and now that I think about it, would probably come out looking sinister in a Lynch-esque way.

FN4. The Demeter description reminded me. I had this friend once who did her thesis on the history of the American lawn and how it's basically an environmental catastrophe as well as a socio-cultural catastrophe since its inception in the 1950s, single family homes destroying urban centers, creating horrible gridlock, and social isolation for women of the Feminine Mystique variety. It made sense, but also made me a little sad. In the way I tend to festishize small town Americana, I do love a good village green...

FN5. Does anyone else think the invention of astroturf was basically a one of the plastics/petroleum industry's most horrible ideas? Like terrible bad?

FN6. Ditto for golf courses? Does anyone else start ranting about how much they hate golf courses every time they drive by one?

FN7. Who knew I had so many thoughts about grass, lawns, and grass/lawn-related things?


Alnysie said...

I like your scientific comparison! And I love a grassy opening in fragrances, I'd like a whole grass fragrance!

Hmmm... I hesitate between Gin & Tonic, Dirt, Ginger Cookie, and Fresh Ginger!

Carrie Meredith said...

Fun! I would have to say Baby Powder, Fresh Hay, Heliotrope, Holy Smoke, Humidor, Iris, Paperback, Sandalwood, Turpentine and Beeswax are calling to me. Now that I see this big list I just made, I think I need to pay Demeter another visit, it's been too long!

frill said...

Hi, chica! I <3 Demeter scents. Christopher gave me two our first Christmas together: Mojito and Cake Batter. Now they have Hello Kitty!!!!!! I would get Hello Kitty Spring, or Laudromat, or the Sweet Cilantro one, or Sugar Cookie, or COTTON CANDY!!!!!!!!!

cKate said...

I would love to try their Gin and Tonic, Firefly, and Snow.

I would totally get a bottle of Heather for my sister, but then I remembered her lack of ability to smell things. Sad!

Starling said...

Chocolate covered cherries.

ccdouglass said...

Thanks for the draw!

I think would have to try the Patchouli and/or the Gin and Tonic scents.

Undina said...

The only Demeter I tried so far was Linden and I found it too simple.
No need to enter me into the draw but I really enjoy your testing approach. It's great to have you back.

beanphed said...

No need to check which one I'd order because that would be Dirt.

I have a too small decant of Dirt that pairs spectacularly well with I Love Les Carottes (just got a full bottle) for a fresh-from-the-garden smell. Demeter Grass sure would complete my gardenesque melange...