Inside the Perfume Cabinet: Ann S.

Ann S Chanel collection

Ann S., a librarian in Eastern Pennsylvania, divides her love of perfume into three phases. The first was when she was a girl. “The tops of women’s dressers were these mysterious, adult places” holding sparkling jewelry, cut glass, and, of course, perfume bottles. On her mother’s dresser sat a bottle of Jean Patou Eau de Joy. In this phase of Ann’s perfume life, the two fragrances that stood out were Chantilly, which her mother gave her, and Coty Muguet des Bois, a gift from her aunt. (Ann admits she wasn’t wild about Muguet des Bois. She remembers playing “kidnapper” with her sister, and they doused a washcloth with Muguet des Bois and pretended it was chloroform.)

Phase two of Ann’s involvement in perfume began in high school. Ann is six foot one, so wandering the mall with friends shopping for clothes that never fit wasn’t much fun. It didn’t take long for her to realize that accessories, cosmetics, and perfume don’t depend on size. The first bottle of perfume she bought was The Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose. Later she bought Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle talcum powder and wore it to her prom…

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Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia ~ fragrance review


While shopping for an air mattress so I could sleep in the cool basement — it’s been a scorcher of a week so far — I wheeled my cart past the organic foods section and saw a rack of Pacifica roll-on perfumes on sale, including Tahitian Gardenia. In summer, I sometimes crave gardenia. At the same time, although I love big white flowers on other people, gardenia wears like a costume on me. It’s as if I’m wearing a fabulous hat that I love for about an hour — after which I wrench the blasted thing off my head so I can feel like myself again…

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Aftelier Bergamoss ~ fragrance review

Aftelier Bergamoss

With all the restrictions on fragrance materials and perfume house budgets, a lot of us fear for classic chypres. Aftelier Bergamoss is proof that the chypre as François Coty conceived of it lives on.

Mandy Aftel created Bergamoss with top notes including bergamot and wild sweet orange; heart notes of peach, citronellol and nutmeg absolute; and a base of oakmoss, flouve absolute, coumarin and antique civet. For me, Bergamoss tags all the bases of a beautifully made chypre and slides in for a home run with its seamless construction.

Because there’s little I like more than abusing a metaphor, let’s examine Bergamoss’s progress as it scores. Prepare your Cracker Jacks…

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Top 10 Summer Fragrances 2015

Japanese Garden, Portland

Instead of returning to my weary perfume cabinet for a rundown of summer favorites (I already hear longtime readers thinking, Is she going to bring up that blasted bottle of Jean Naté in her refrigerator again? Yawn), this year I got smart. I asked André Gooren from Portland’s fabled The Perfume House to share ten of his summer favorites.

André was up to the challenge. During a Saturday morning, between helping a bearded Australian opera singer (Caron Nocturnes, two bottles), a charming older woman (4711), a Romanian couple (Robert Piguet Jeunesse), and a booming-voiced regular (Pino Sylvestre and Comme des Garçons Avignon), he laid out ten sophisticated and sometimes quirky choices…

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Estee Lauder Estee ~ fragrance review

Estée Lauder Estée

In the documentary Iris, the stylish 93-year-old Iris Apfel says something close to, “I don’t like pretty. I have no use for pretty. I know people don’t agree with me, but there you have it.” The camera lingers uncomfortably long on her. She finally turns away. There’s nothing pretty about Iris Apfel, but her marvelous excess is riveting. I bet she would love Estée Lauder Estée.

Bernard Chant created Estée, Estée Lauder’s second fragrance after Youth Dew. Estée launched in 1968. Its notes include jasmine, rose, muguet, coriander, ylang ylang, orris, sandalwood and moss. Those notes sound mild and “pretty,” but wearing Estée is like biting into a fresh kumquat. For a second or two you think you’ve made a dire mistake…

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