Rochas Audace ~ fragrance review

Rochas Audace advert, 1970s

Last Friday I was leaving Powell’s when a street fashion photographer asked to take my photo. Now, I’m not a particularly fashionable dresser. That afternoon, I was wearing a variety of clashing plaids — a Pendleton skirt and a jacket from a Western wear store in Oklahoma among them, both culled from Goodwill — and a 1940s floral silk scarf. (I will point out that my boots were pretty great, though.) “Me?” I asked the photographer. “This?

“I like the crazy mix,” she said. “It works.”

That’s how I feel about Rochas Audace. On paper, it reads like a strident jumble of notes. On skin, it works…

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Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Ginepro di Sardegna ~ fragrance review, with an aside on Eaux de Cologne

Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Ginepro di Sardegna

Yes, this will be a review of Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Ginepro di Sardegna (Juniper of Sardinia). But first, let’s talk about cologne.

What do you think of when you envision cologne? To me, a true Eau de Cologne is a revivifying splash of fragrance that wakes up you then fades away. I want a cologne to apply to my temples if I’m feeling faint, like in old novels, and to freshen me up when the world wears thick and dirty.

What I don’t want is a substitute for a perfume. To me, a cologne shouldn’t bill itself as a quick reviver, only to stick around for hours with a thick residue of citrus and resin. To me, that’s simply a mislabeled perfume. I don’t want to smell someone at the office who meant to have simply freshened up with a fragrance after his shower, but who trails the scent like a bad furniture polish for most of the day…

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Eight Years of Lemmings

Luctor et Emergo, The People of the Labyrinths

When I first dipped my toes into the world of internet perfume appreciation eight — or was it nine? — years ago, there were only a handful of perfume blogs. Of course, for me Now Smell This was tops, although I regularly cruised to Perfume Posse and Perfume Smellin’ Things.1 Perfumistas hung out at Makeup Alley for reviews and swapping.2 We were glued to Luca Turin’s blog. Way too often, we charged after the latest lemmings like they were stray tennis balls at the dog park.

Anyone remember what those perfumes were?

I remember a few. The People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo — aka POTL — was one…

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Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent by Mandy Aftel ~ book review

Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent by Mandy Aftel, book plus kit

In fiction, an effective writer uses plot not just to move the story along, but to illuminate an underlying theme. If Mandy Aftel’s Fragrant: The Secret Life of Scent were a novel, the plot would be the five essences — cinnamon, mint, frankincense, ambergris, and jasmine — around which she structures the book. The theme would be beauty.

In Fragrant’s first chapter, Aftel writes about how she became involved with perfume, then says:

As I researched and thought about the deeps ways that perfume touches our most primal selves and the collective self of our species, I realized that I had the makings of an adventure story of sorts…

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Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Scent of Hope ~ fragrance review, with an aside on Jacques Fath Iris Gris

Iris

I can’t think of another fragrance that matches the mystique of Jacques Fath Iris Gris. Sure, perfume lovers scramble for vintage Mitsouko and study its qualities by the batch number, but Mitsouko is still on the market, and vintage bottles are relatively easy to find. Jacques Fath, perhaps Dior’s closest competition in the New Look years, died in 1954 at the stupidly young age of 42, and Iris Gris — even the name is mysterious and moody — disappeared soon after. Scent of Hope is a recreation of Iris Gris that indie perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz originally made for a private client.

Perfumer Vincent Roubert developed Iris Gris in 1946, just as France was shaking free of World War II.1 Thanks to Denyse Beaulieu of Grain de Musc, I’ve been lucky enough to smell a sample strip dipped in a bottle she bought unopened. I was surprised at how clean it smelled, and how rich the iris was, but of course that bottle was at least 60 years old. I cherish the amber-stained but now-scentless strip as a talisman. But how would Iris Gris smell fresh…

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