Saturday, November 29, 2008

In Search of Scent

It's that time of year again where I linger about drug stores and department stores trying to find a new perfume to call my own. I prefer to not smell like everyone else; call me singular, antisocial, crazy whatever, but I like knowing I have a unique aroma (And I'm not talking about the gym pong either). I get a thrill when someone stops me, who isn't a blaring example of crazy, and asks me what perfume I'm wearing. It's always a conversation starter with a fellow perfumista/o, and I like that kinship. So of course I'm starting out on the wrong foot, one cannot possibly buy a unique or rare scent in either a drug or department store.

So how do you go about finding a new, lost, underutilized, unique scent? First you have to know what you like. No point going floral if they give you headaches and if sandalwood makes you nauseous then you better know how to spot it. I find, if you know what's in your favourite perfume, finding a varying formula is usually a good thing. Be brave but sensible.

Let's use CK One as an example. I use this as it was the number one scent in the mid 90's for men and women. You couldn't walk ten feet without smelling it on someone. So let's say you like the lemon freshness of CK One but don't want to smell like everyone else. Find out what you like specificlly about the scent - it it the fresh lemon you get when you first spray it on? Or do you prefer the warmer green scent that follows about an hour later? Maybe it's the undertones of musk and amber - does your nose go right to the guts of the scent or does it prefer the airier side of the scent?

Well for me it was the airier side I liked, which is odd as I'm definitely a warmer, musk fan. As it was, I couldn't wear CK One on its own. I always mixed it with another scent, in particular Coco Chanel. When I wore the two layered together, I got stopped a lot. It became my favourite scent from 1994-1997. Coco also goes nice with lighter white musks.

Beginning in this way I found that certain combinations of scents were better then broad board scents. Kenzo Flowers is obnoxious to my nose as it's just flowers. It doesn't seem to mellow down to anything with character and diversity. It's just an bash of sharp, stinging flowers up the sinuses. Even though it has two of my favourite notes in it; opopanax (sweet myrrh) and musk, they're too overpowered to be fully appreciated.

A perfume has a personality. Three layers of revealing itself. Top, middle and base notes tell the story of the perfume. Top notes are what hits you when you first apply the scent, middle notes are what comes from the scent after the tops have evaporated a bit and the scent warms on your skin, base notes are the heavier scents that linger the longest and hold the scent together. Scents evoke emotions, memories and transport you to grassy glens, woodlands and waterfalls. They are an escape. Where do you prefer to escape to? For me it's the woods. What's it for you? Fields of poppies? Metalworks? Caribbean beaches? There's a scent or all of these.

What I do is I trawl the internet for scents I've never heard of. I frequent places like Basenotes and Now Smell This and find those exclusive little boutiques, or the scents that big brands keep private and don't advertise as heavily. Most of the boutiques will offer samples for a small price - no point buying a scent that sounds good on paper but ends up disappointing. Remember my Marilyn Miglen disaster? I thought I was getting a spicy, sweet rush of an oriental scent and ended up with an old ladies powder room. My Mother-in-law loves it so it's not a waste. So the samples is the best way to go. I also love the glass counters in the far right nook of Jenners where they hide the exclusive and obsessive scenteurs. I always walk away with a wish list and purse full of samples. I don't think one spray is ever enough to commit a lot of money to a scent - and let's be honest, a decent scent can cost a fortune (Says the woman who loves the smell of Old Spice and Coty Wild Musk).

So, I've finally decided on what my new scent is going to be for the new year. I'll buy the new one on my birthday. I just have to figure out whose scent to get. That makes no sense really now does it, but what I want is Cuir de Russie, Russian leather. It's done by a few houses; Creed, L.T. Piver and Chanel all do a version of Cuir de Russie. I currently have the L.T. Piver one and I like it a lot, but of course I'll have to ferret out samples of the others to be absolutely sure. I've read reviews of the Chanel that say it's not all that Russie, and there's heavy debate over whether Creed or Piver have the true Russie feel. What does it smell like? Light, fresh, hint of leather and woodsmoke. Fresh out of the bottle it's like a gin and tonic by the woodside. I adore this scent. The Piver one does fade to have a hint of plastic doll's head (and if you're a parent you may know what I mean) I've read it reviewed at "The most homoerotic perfume of all times" and oddly enough that doesn't turn me off it. I often wear men's colognes, or unisex scents, which Cuir De Russie is. Shame it disappears after a couple hours. I'm sure the Creed version will be too masculine as it's what Creed does, but the Chanel one has tweaked my interest and I'm heavy on the search for some.

Recent samples I've ordered are from Michael Storer. ($15 for a set of six) When I left a note in the paypal asking if there were samples of their limited edition scent, Winter Star, they sent me an email thanking me for my order and that they'll include the extra sample for me. How nice is that! I can't wait. I already love them for the customer service alone. (After posting this I went to my other samples haunt of Les Senteurs in London and nabbed five samples. I was hoping to find Musc Kublai Khan by Serge Lutens, but alas they had none. I'll review what I get.)

For now I have my Piver. Come give me a warm tight hug, I have a little behind my ear.


Overboard said...

Ha ha ha ha. Where did this post come from!!
Love it.
He he he he he.
Did you just finish rereading Wuthering Heights, or something.

Overboard said...

Okay, now I'll be a bit more serious.
I love perfume too and spend hours in duty free hunting down the most expensive perfume. The Most Expensive. I never buy it, just spray and leave.
Evil roar.
In Japan, I rarely wear perfume cos they complain. Boring fuckers.
Oh god, do you remember when I was in Syria and Lebanon and visiting all those Middle Eastern perfume shops and buying a load of really heavy shit. At the time, I was into it. I have two bottles left, the rest were given away, and my oh my, what strange scents they are.

Right now I hover between Beautiful, cos I found it down the side of the bed, must have been there for two years, and a roll-on thingy called Sensual by Body Shop, found in a bag of rubbish I left in the garage two years ago. LOL.
And, um, that Chanel Cristal dooh dah, also found in bag of rubbish.
I think I have spots on chin right now cos I have recently been using really old foundation I found in bag of rubbish from two years ago.
I am such a skank.

Overboard said...

All the above cosmetics and perfumes had to be rinsed to get rid of the stench of cat piss.
I'm so classy.

Jomamma said...

Lyvvie when does your husband come home? Have you been hanging out with the cross dressers? It's OK, you are a wealth of knowledge, and those cross dressers know their scents.

I have a new perfume coming in the mail as we speak. Something Jolea enlightened me to. She knows her scents... used to hang out with cross dressers in Key West.

Maria, my mom used to keep stray cats away from the doors and windows by spraying old perfume on the window sills and doorstep. Oh wait, maybe that was dogs... I think the cats just sprayed more to reclaim the territory.

Ree said...

My favorite, ever, was Poison. But it's actually much heavier than the citrusy stuff that I use as lotion and shower gel.

Brook said...

MY most favorite perfume ever is Bodacious by Graham webb. Unfortunately that fucker quit making it and now I am scentless. I can't describe how it smells, just that I love how I feel when I wear it and I have just a little smidge left and one tiny sample, then it's gone. Does anyone have any idea what a suitable replacement would be?

Badger said...

OMG, I have had people tease me mercilessly over my fondness for Old Spice! I had a particularly, er, ENTHUSIASTIC boyfriend long ago who used to wear it. So now, to me, Old Spice will forever smell like sex. Which makes the fact that it's mostly worn by octogenarians around here a little AWKWARD.

My signature scent is Geisha Noire by Aroma M. It's just black amber, tonka bean and sandalwood but it manages to be all complex, deep, dark sexy incense. I wear it year-round even though it's really more of a cool-weather scent. LOVE it!

Jolea said...

What a great post! I had no idea you were such a perfume connoisseur! I wore CK one all through junior high...
Right now I wear a perfume by Escada called Into The Blue. I don't like flowery, I like fresh, clean, scents and this one rocks.

LOL@maria being a skank!

Lyvvie said...

Maria - I've done a few perfume posts. I get to around this time of year when sweaters are a must and the need for a comforting scent is imperative. I've not read Wuthering Heights, but I did buy Pride and Prejudice in hardback for 20 pence today. And you're not too manky so long as the perfume doesn't get tainted with cat wee. I'd dumpster dive for a bottle of the right perfume. Husband is in the Middle East just now and I asked him to check out the Chanel shop for Cuir de Russie for me.

Jomamma - Hanging out with cross dressers? Woman, I AM a cross dresser! I wear the man jeans, my shirts button from the right and I have a full length tweed coat. I wear men's cologne. I'm a walking, talking Tranny in cat boots. Also, I've read it's coffee grounds that stop a cat from spraying in the same place twice.

Ree - I love poison when I was in high school but it never worked on my skin and ended up smelling like grape jelly and cat wee. I have the same problem with Clinique Elixir, it smells like day-old vomit on me.

Brook - I sent you an email to Google with a link for you to check out. Good luck!! I feel the same about Crabtree and Evelyn's Patchouli, it was the nicest, lightest patchouli going and what a brilliant scent mixer. Sadly missed.

Badger - I've never heard of Geigha Noir but it sounds right up my street. Basenotes has a couple positive reviews, the fact it's not powdery is a bonus for me! Send me a love letter, will you? Old Spice is great stuff. Classic is best. I whiff it out the bottle in the medicine cabinet.

Jolea - It's funny that I am a scent whore since my Dad had an insane sense of smell and told us any perfume we wore "Smells like shit!" so you'd think I'd associate perfume with smelling bad, not good. My first scent love was Tide washing powder and Bounty dryer sheets. We should all laugh at Maria being a skank, except she bathes more than anyone I know.

Overboard said...

Grape jelly and cat wee. LOL.
I went through a Poison stage.
And a Drakar Noir. My aunt used to throw my Drakar Noir stinky coat out into the garden.
I also loved Giorgio for years and sprayed myself silly with it for uni entrance interview.
Um, other faves, White Linen, by Lauder.

Sylvana said...

I have a lot of problems with perfumes as my body chemistry really messes with them; pretty much all perfumes are unique scents on me! Unfortunately, they end up not being very pleasant to me.

There has been only one perfume that has perfectly harmonized with my chemistry, Malibu Musk (yep, a cheap teen cologne). On me, it would mellow to warm sunshine and a hint of fruit and flowers. I would get strangers stopping me all the time. And then they quit making it!! I'm still so sad about it.

Good luck with your new scent!!

OH! And it is weird that you mention the coffee grounds!! I was having trouble with cats spraying my house and crapping in my garden paths mainly because I have a cat in my house. So on a whim, I started to dump my used coffee grounds wherever I was having trouble. I remembered that coffee disguised scents from drug dogs, so thought it might work on cats. IT DOES!!!

Maja said...

I wear cool water woman when I'm at work. At home I wear Miss Dior Cherie. I spray heaps on as I just love them smell.. it's just plain yummy!

One of my favourite perfumes I've worn is rochas. My friend and my brother found it for me years ago, back in 2003, and I was never able to find it again anywhere i looked, but it's on so I think I'll get it from them when I run out of miss dior cherie.