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Perfume: When Everything Old is New Again

Yves Saint Laurent Champagne advert

Every once in a while I open my perfume cabinet’s doors and am overwhelmed by the rows of bottles crammed shoulder to shoulder like glass soldiers. When it gets to be too much, I start giving bottles away. Rochas Tocade is an example. I bought it at an online discounter ages ago, but it was so sweet that it annoyed me. I swapped it away not long after. Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse is another example. I told myself that liked it a lot, but I rarely wore it. When I met someone who liked it better, I gave it away.

Earlier this week I found both Tocade and Yvresse (in its earlier incarnation, Champagne) at Goodwill and snapped them up. It had been so long since I’d smelled either one, and I as soon as I saw their bottles I missed them. Well, I won’t be giving them away again any time soon. Instead of cloying, Tocade smells almost golden on my skin and is just trashy enough to be fun. Champagne’s nectarine is so much juicier than I’d remembered, and its abundant moss is a deliciously fusty contrast.

Over the past six months, I’ve had a good time “shopping” in my own perfume collection and rediscovering fragrances I thought I knew…

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The human equivalent of crystal meth

It took a while for me to realise that I was no different. I found myself telling perfumer Alienor Massenet that what I loved about my husband was that his skin was the most sensual I'd ever come across, that it was a kind of red-gold caramelised copper with a tang of salty herbs to it and that I would follow it to the ends of the earth.

Quite apart from how embarrassing this is in general, I should have realised that he smells delicious because he usually wears Pour un Homme by Caron, a fragrance which, when blended with his skin, forms the human equivalent of crystal meth.

— Susan Irvine considers the smell of a man, in Perfect Chemistry at Vogue UK.

Caron Nuit de Noel ~ fragrance review

Caron Nuit de Noel

This past weekend on impulse I bought a Christmas tree. I thought I might skip it this year, but as I wheeled my cart of groceries home I remembered the German couple down the block who alway sell crisp Noble firs from their driveway. If the couple isn’t home, you take the tree you want and slip your money through their mail slot. I chose a small, sparsely limbed fir (why do people always call them “Charlie Brown” trees? I prefer to think of them as “Napoleons”) and spent the evening decorating it with ornaments while Nat King Cole serenaded from the stereo. I wore Caron Nuit de Noël Extrait, of course.

Ernest Daltroff, founder of Caron and its nose for 37 years, created Nuit de Noël in 1922. The Caron website lists its notes simply as “jasmine, saxon moss, and amber.” I don’t doubt Nuit de Noël has jasmine and amber, though neither note shines. What I mostly smell is the saxon moss, more commonly known by its French name “mousse de saxe.”

Mousse de saxe is a base Daltroff used in a number of his fragrances, but it commands front and center in Nuit de Noël…

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