Friday, 6 April 2012

Bonkers "In Edinburgh": The Guerlain Pamplelune Sniff-Off And A Bid To Rescue Birgit's Grapefruit Scent Squeeze

Bonkers has headed up north for the Easter break, and is currently staying with Sibling Bonkers and sister-in-law, Hazel (in life, as in screen name). Hazel has just baked a batch of hot crossless buns, and we have been speculating as to a suitable alternative name for them: "Hot Contented Buns"? "Hot Atheist Buns"? Though as Hazel pointed out: "They'll be jolly annoyed when we eat them!" I should also mention that they did technically have crosses on them when they went into the oven, but every last one failed to rise to the occasion. And obviously at Easter rising is very much the name of the game. Hazel has sampled one of these buns and says they do in fact taste fine.

As ever I am staying in a spare room which is decorated with all manner of intriguing artefacts, including some Bohemian perfume bottles, brought back from holidays and work trips in the Czech Republic.

Then on my bed I was unexpectedly reunited with a crocheted throw I made in 1977, that had somehow wound up in my brother's possession. The moths have been at it here and there, but it still manages to combine all the functionality of a blanket with what the ELDO perfume house might well have had in mind when - in one of its trademark fits of whimsy - it settled on the title for its latest perfume release of "Malaise Of The 1970s". (Review by The Candy Perfume Boy here.)

The other main excitement of the morning was staging the "Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune sibling skin sniff-off". This was in response to a distressing post by Birgit of Olfactorias Travels about how this formerly cheerful, uplifting perfume she owns was ruined early on in her perfumista "journey", when she came across reviews likening the scent of Pamplelune to the smell of BO.

"Even if this is not true, and I never got any complaints, the image is burned into my brain and there is no way I could ever wear it again."

Concerned at the fact that these dismissive comments had prompted Olfactoria to consign Pamplelune to outer albatrossery, I offered to launch a rescue intervention, in the hope that she might yet be reconciled to her former grapefruit scent squeeze - IF its reputation could be restored through a series of positive testings.

So I wrote in a comment on her post:

"My brother owns this and I am seeing him later in the week – so will conduct a trial… Brotherly BO molecules hold no terror for me!"

To which Olfactoria replied:

"Thank you for your selfless commitment to perfumery, V! I shall look forward to your report!"

Well, I am happy to report that I sniffed my brother wearing Pamplelune immediately after application and then a couple of hours later on our return from the shops.

Our first reaction was along the lines of "warm, golden grapefruit", and over time it has merely muted down to a softer version of the same glowing citrus bouquet - or not "bouquet" maybe, but something like "bowl" or "stylish wire basket with a handy integral hook for bananas". We got no maladorous impressions, certainly.

Which begs the question...had the people who tore Pamplelune segment from segment in these negative reviews squirted it in their own armpits by any chance? Stranger application tactics have been known...

Coming up soon...meeting "Anna in Edinburgh" for a Scottish sniffathon!


Dionne said...

What a fun post! Atheist buns, crocheted afghans and brotherly BO all mixed in with a review of Pamplelune. Unfortunately, I'm one of those people that can't wear Pamplelune, but I certainly don't consider it the perfume's fault; it's just my wonky chemistry.

tarleisio said...

I wonder what they were sniffing, too - I've worn Pamplelune for years and never got any BO whatsoever! It's quite possibly one of the best grapefruit scents ever made. Oh. V, I took one look at that throw and caught myself thinking...well, what WERE we thinking at the time, if in fact we even did? ;)
Have a great time in Edinburgh...and who needs crosses on their buns anyway? :D

Vanessa said...

Hi Dionne,

You call that bedspread-y throw thing an "afghan" do you? Over here that is a shaggy suede coat, though very much from the same era, I believe! Or you may have been using the term loosely as metaphorical shorthand *for* the whole era? : - )

Sorry Pampleune is a no-no for you - am curious as to whether you get the BO thing as such or whether it is disagreeable in some other way?

Vanessa said...

Hi Tarleisio,

It's so true, what were we thinking of?

And I am sure that the wearer of all these new versions of The Devil Scent would also take a "relaxed view" on the presence of otherwise of crosses on his own buns. : - )

Ines said...

Who ever got Birgit off from Pamplelune should eat his words (or hers)! :)

I love it and never got any BO hint from it so I'm glad you and your brother confirmed it for B.

Have fun in Edinburgh and say hi to Anna! :)

p.S. One of my verification words is oyeaster.

Dionne said...

Vanessa, yes, where I live we call that kind of chunky crocheted throw an Afghan. I have no idea if it's called that in the US as well. On me Pamplelune went sour and urinous more than BO - it, uh, wasn't pleasant.

Unknown said...

I absolutely love Pamplelune! In fact I'd go so far as to say that it's my favourite of the Aqua Allegorica range. Not at all cloyingly sweet and yet not too sour for me, so it's just right!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

That verification word you got is excellent. "Oy Easter" to you too!

And thanks also for swelling the ranks of those who do not believe Pamplelune smells rank. : - )

Birgit needs to remember that she of all people has "magic skin", so the chances of this one going all 'orrible on her are minimal!

Vanessa said...

Hi Dionne,

Thanks for clarifying that interesting semantic difference about the throw.

And your description of Pamplelune as "sour" and "urinous" reminds me of how the supposedly green and soapy Ivoire de Balmain goes on me - not nice at all...

Vanessa said...

Hi Joshua,

Another fan, hurrah! Glad it works for you too - I must say that it smelt very warm yet refreshing on my brother, and as readers may recall, I am not a fan of grapefruit as a note - quite the opposite indeed. So the fact that I found it pleasant on my brother's skin bodes well for Birgit's re-bonding with this scent!

Wordbird said...

I reckon you've got 'hot buns' - highly appropriate for someone who regularly gets called Bonks. :)

The Pampelune business is an interesting one. It is very definitely my favourite Allegoria and I've liked it for years. BUT I have also been swayed by Luca Turin's review and now I do get an occasional zap of sulphurous armpits when I wear it.

Doesn't stop me though. :D

odonata9 said...

I have not tried Pamplelune as I don't like grapefruit, to eat or to smell. But I recall Mals doing a review on this issue of grapefruit and BO/urine. Seems there is something sulfurous in grapefruit which some people do read that way -

I wonder if it is the nose or the skin? But I do hope Birgit will continue to wear it! I'm sure that there is someone out there who doesn't like what we're wearing at any given time, scent-wise, but as long as it remains at considerate levels, we should wear what we like!

And yes, we call that an afghan in the US as well. We had a few my grandmother made (back in the 70s) that looked just like that, but with even less appetizing colors!

Tara said...

I really want to try Pamplelune now because I didn't like it when I tried it years ago but don't recall why. I doubt it was BO related though.

It is interesting that like me, you are not a fan of grapefruit but didn't find anything unpleasant about Pamplelune at all. It is such a yak-attack (to use KP's phrase) association though, that I can totally see why B has been put off.

Have fun with Anna!

Vanessa said...

Hi Wordbird,

I had to ask my relatives what "hot buns" meant in this context, haha. I am not sure mine are anywhere near as springy to the touch, sadly... : - )

And from reading yours and subsequent comments Pamplelune does seem to be a polarising scent but for a valid scientific reason after all. I think we are getting to the bottom of the mystery now.

Vanessa said...

Hi odonata9,

Thanks for stopping by and for the link to Mals's post. It does look familiar to me - I recognise the picture of her cat and vaguely recall a discussion of cat pee. However, I had forgotten that it was in connection with our Pamplelune, so that is a very helpful resource in this discussion.

And you raise a very good question about whether the BO-smelling molecule plays up / varies on some people's skin, or whether it is *read* as unpleasant by some people' noses, but is chemically simlar on skin.

I was also interested to learn that you use the term "afghan" in this way in the US. Of course I am now trying to imagine what might constitute even less appetising colours, haha!

Vanessa said...

Hi tara,

Yes, do give this one another go if you come across it and see if your view has changed in the meantime. I never tested it on my own skin, but just enjoyed smelling it on my brother.

Yes, "yak-attack" is a good word to describe how offputting an association with BO must be for Birgit, though I have faith in the transformative powers of her skin, if it was more of a dermatological phenomenon. If the BO issue lies up people's noses, there is nothing that can be done about that, I guess!

Undina said...

Vanessa, you are impossible! :) Thank you for the laugh!

Now to your mission.

I remember that *jen from This Blog Really Stinks discovered that this perfume (which she actually liked) created that BO effect after being re-applied to the same spot where it was applied previously.

I haven't tested Pamplelune on my skin yet - I will in a couple of days but I think the only way for Birgit to know for sure that it doesn't smell of BO when she wears it will be if somebody who experiences that effect on her/his own skin could check if they smell it fron her magic skin.

lady jane grey said...

Well, I get a light cumin there, however it's no BO, but rather clean sweat immediately after showering with a grapefruit scented gel. It's very light though, and in fact very pleasant. Have a nice Easter in lovely Scotland !

Olfactoria's Travels said...

Oh, V! I'm sorry I didn't see this sooner, the Easter horror (family visits etc.) interfered with my blog reading.
Thank you do much for your heroic turn with Pamplelune! Knowing how much you hate the note, I'm very touched.
Please send your thanks to your brother as well.
It is indeed very good to hear that no adverse BO effects did come to the fore in your experiments. Definitely encouraging! :)
Happy Easter and have lots of fun in Scotland, my dear! xoxo

Cheryl Quimby said...

I'm sad to say that I'm one of those people who cannot wear Pamplelune. But I do *not* think it smells like BO! On me the problem is the bourgeons de cassis. I think my nose is hyper sensitive to that note. It's one of those scents that smells off-putting all on its own, but that is supposed to add dimension and depth when blended. It often stands out to me in a way it should not. As a result, I smell a heavy cat-pee accord in Pamplelune.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Sorry for the delay in replying - Blogger ate my comment on Saturday and since then have had intermittent issues with "disappearing keyboard syndrome" on my iPhone, which is a bit fiddly at the best of times. : - )

Anyway, I am sorry to report that I failed in my mission and couldn't persuade my brother to attempt a re-application on the same site so we could verify if the BO molecule kicked in. I guess he didn't want to be put off the scent himself, which is a summer staple.

Yes, I think the test you suggest to convince Birgit that it is "not her, it's them" is a good one. I am confident her magic skin would rise to the challenge...!

Vanessa said...

Hi lady jane grey,

That's interesting about the scent you get while wearing this having a slight admixture of human sweat/cumin. I could in fact smell my brother's skin in quite a pronounced way once the scent got going, but as you found it never tipped over into BO at any point.

I had a lovely time in Scotland, thanks, and I hope your Easter break was enjoyable too.

I am briefly back at base before heading off again on a few more over the next couple of weeks.

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

No need to apologise for not spotting this post due to family commitments - by the same token I am myself rather late at replying to comments due to the Easter factor.

I do hope that thanks to this trial, you can find your way back to appreciating Pamplelune on the "it's not me, it's them" principle I mentioned above!

Clearly it isn't right on some people, but then when you think about it there are medications which give some people allergic reactions, but that doesn't mean the rest of the public shouldn't enjoy their health benefits!

Vanessa said...

Hi Cheryl,

Aha, you point the finger of blame at a specific note in the composition - bourgeons de cassis - not a note with which I am familiar. As a civet amplifier myself, I understand how you might have similar issues with this ingredient and that it should spoil it for you.

That is too bad, but at least you have confirmed that Pamplelune definitely doesn't work on everyone, and in your case omes off more as "Pamplelurine". : - (

Natalie said...

You are selfless indeed, V. I wouldn't want to smell *anything* on my brother, let alone this fragrance (which is not a fave of mine, but which I do not think smells of BO).

Vanessa said...

Hi Natalie,

Haha - I hadn't thought of it like that! It was no trouble in practice..."all in the family", as they say. : - )