5 perfumes: iris fragrances for winter

iris on black

A light dusting of snow on the ground this morning reminded me that yes, we’re deep in mid-winter. If you love iris, this is when you can wear the richest and darkest irises in your collection. I’ve picked my five favorites for cold weather, and do add your own in the comments! And if you missed them, do see my list of iris picks for summer and iris picks for fall. The spring post is coming up in April, and then I’ll move on to a year of vetiver…

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5 perfumes: flankers I like better than the original fragrance

Thierry Mugler Angel Liqueur de Parfum

We all complain about flankers, and they’re an easy mark: there are too many of them (really, WAY too many of them) and the general tendency of flankers, of course, is to dumb down, or sportify, or summer-ize, or oud-ify, or otherwise attenuate a possibly already less-than-marvelous pillar fragrance. But I’m sure I’m not the only one that has a few flankers I like better than the original. Here are my five picks,1 do share yours!

Tops on my list is Givenchy’s Organza Indecence. I never did care, either way, about Organza…

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5 perfumes: Euphoria

yellow

It has been said of great poetry — as well as of pornography, of course — that you know it when you see it. A few perfumes have struck me with an analogous revelatory force.1 Many of my favorites have crept up on me, gaining in beauty and mystery over the course of several exposures. In a small number of cases, though, a first encounter with a fragrance has been more like being within 50 feet of a lightning strike: no immediate definition or description does the matter justice. Since my perfume hobby started, I’ve watched the epiphanies of several of my fellow fume-heads. Upon processing the first sniff, two enthusiasts have wept. One friend laughed in surprise, and another pirouetted. My reaction to such new love is to blush beet-red, regardless of whether there is anyone around to witness my surrender. Apparently, if I am greatly moved, my sympathetic nervous system must become involved.

Does it say something about me that I have spent a great deal of time ruminating on these singular events, trying to identify a unifying thread? (Short answer: yes.) In fact, I have noticed there are similarities between my own heart-struck moments…

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5 Perfumes: A Skank Sampler

skank sampler

Ready to wade into skanky waters but want a little hand holding? You’ve come to the right place. “Skank”1 usually refers to a hint — and sometimes more — of body odor in a fragrance, occasionally with overtones of halitosis and rotting flesh. (I hope you aren’t eating lunch right now.) Artfully administered, skank can throw a perfume’s beauty into relief. It can feel intimate and sexy. But when you’re not in the mood for it, skank could be just plain disgusting. Skank tolerance is personal. Some perfumistas wear their skank as a badge of honor, like chile lovers brag about downing Scotch Bonnets, but others won’t tolerate a noticeable drop of civet or funky musk.

Here is a skank sampler. Please comment if other skanky perfumes come to mind. I’ve rated them on a Skank Scale of one to ten. One approximates “post-tennis glow,” and ten is “zombie apocalypse…”

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5 perfumes: appreciating the Big Five

Like much art, some fragrances — especially the complex classics — take time to appreciate fully. At first, you might even find them off-putting. But as you spend time with each fragrance, you begin to appreciate its peculiar nature, its singular beauty. That describes how I’ve felt about the perfumes I’m calling the Big Five.

I’ll tell you a little about my relationship with each fragrance, then I’d love to hear how you’ve come to know each of them.

Chanel No. 5

Chanel No. 5

For the longest time, I was convinced I knew all about No. 5. No. 5 was fine, full of straw-tinted jasmine, awash with aldehydes, and charming, if fusty. But it wasn’t for me — or so I thought…

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