Friday, 17 December 2021

A random round up of perfume oddities

I am sorry that I have been gone my flimsy defence, I have been preoccupied with recurring bouts of eye eczema - unusually for this time of year, as the main triggers are pollens of every stripe. At first I blamed a conditioner high in natural ingredients, which can be as irritating if not more so than synthetic ones, only to experience another episode a couple of weeks later despite avoiding the offending hair product, leaving me none the wiser. These flare ups are now commoner than periods of "good skin", and I am even starting to wonder if I should believe in chemtrails after all, and that planes are spraying some irritating chemicals in the atmosphere that are landing on my face, haha. At this point in my bafflement and frustration I am open to any explanation, however off the wall.

Staying with the notion of "off the wall", this post will take the form of a compilation of odd things linked to perfume that have struck me lately.

The perfume bottle that isn't

Reprising the theme of a post in 2013 on "perfume related imagery", I have another example to add to the pot, namely a dish I bought in a charity shop for £3 (see above). Does that not look like a bottle of Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang to you? Okay, a bit squarer perhaps, and without the beaten gold top. And the top it does have admittedly resembles a wan and bloodied finger, and is on the skinny side. But a definite resemblance nonetheless, I would say. Through half-closed eyes the white streaks could even be seen as representations of sillage, hehe...

Source: Boots

The perfume reviews that weren't

I did originally think I would review the latest release from Papillon Perfumery, Spell 125, as I have a fondness for the house and have covered most of the perfumes in the Papillon stable. Not quite all of the line, mind - not Anubis - but most of them. And Spell 125 is a very fine composition like its fragrant forebears, even if it is not really "me". For I have a problematic relationship with pine, and found it difficult to connect with Spell 125 on a personal level. It struck me as more of a "foresty atmosphere" rather than something you would wear to accessorise an outfit - the olfactory equivalent of the musical sleep aids found in the deepest recesses of the Calm app, some of which go by the startling name of "dronescapes". Claire of Take One Thing Off makes this very point in her own stellar post on the scent, using the term "environmental", and later alluding to Spell 125's "ascetic, modern spaciness", though I promise I had the same reaction independently. ;) She does concede that Spell 125 would nicely accessorise a yoga outfit - and act as a kind of scented "om" mantra perhaps? So that would have been the angle I would have taken, but there was absolutely no need as Claire had eloquently mined the same metaphorical seam before me. Spell 125 also reminded me of a poem I wrote when I was 11, which was published in the school magazine, although I have no copy of that or the poem itself anymore. I know it was about a crypt, and evoked the dank musty, chilly feel of the sarcophagi in that underground space where no light could get in. I remember the first two lines and that is it:

"Alabaster icy cell / This is where the spirits dwell"

Sarcophagus in St Mary's, Ingestre

I do know the poem had a meditative, dronescapey quality to it, with bonus murmuring insects outside in the churchyard and a fair few mossy flagstones, but my memory is as fuzzy as I believe the atmosphere of the poem was. So that scuppered the review as well. And the third thing to do so was the fact that while I am aware of the significance of the name "Spell 125", every time I hear it I instantly think of "Bet 365", possibly because they are a local company - and major employer in the area! - in Stoke. And that was the final nail in the coffin of the review that wasn't, and is what qualifies it as an "oddity" for inclusion in this post.

Then there is another new perfume I am not going to review, because it would dispel the mystery readers may prefer to solve for themselves. As soon as I sniffed it, I immediately thought:

"Woody soapy iris".

My next impression (before consulting the note list) was of a muted and hazy, more high end take on Bourjois Soir de Paris, which was of course a huge hit in its day. 

Top notes: Violet, Peach, Apricot and Bergamot
Middle notes: Iris, Heliotrope, Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Jasmine and Lily-of-the-Valley
Base notes: Amber, Sandalwood, Vanilla and Musk.

Soir de Paris is noticeably fruity and sweet (due to the first three notes above), and "puts out more", whereas this new fragrance is a sophisticated, understated veil. Interestingly, 11 of the 14 notes in Soir de Paris are in the new scent, though it has many more besides. But that could well explain why I went straight to the Bourjois in my mind. Below is a photo of my vintage mini (featured here), which is sadly too irrevocably gunky to be used now.

My world is not JPG

Recently I have been progressively friended on Facebook by a bunch of perfumistas, who all seem to know one another and be from The Netherlands or Belgium. I accepted the friend requests and was soon hit up with the following invitation to join a group about Jean-Paul Gautier called "mijn wereld is JPG" - at 4.04am in the morning! So many assumptions involved here: that I speak Dutch/Flemish, that I like JPG enough to wish to join a group devoted to the brand, and (most improbably of all) that I am awake and raring to respond in the middle of the night! You may well ask why I don't turn my phone off to avoid such disturbances, and that is because I drift off to sleep listening to podcasts or meditations or one of the aforementioned dronescapes and my phone is therefore still on for the rest of the night.

"Hallo, ik heb deze groep op Facebook gemaakt waarin je mogelijk bent geïnteresserd - mijn wereld is JPG"

The perfumista alarm clock

I bought a travelling alarm clock on eBay the other day, as my trusty old folding leather one was in for repair and not expected to come out alive. Even if it did - as it has to my surprise - it must be "on its last hands", and it is always handy to have a back up against the time that nobody makes them anymore, on the assumption that we all now use our phones instead. If I have a very important early start - say if I am catching a train - I will often set two devices, not being a morning person. Anyway, the clock arrived yesterday - a dinky little thing with a cheery orange leather interior - and I was almost as excited by the design of the clock itself as I was by the tissue paper in which it was wrapped, which had Penhaligon's perfume bottles all over it. How very unexpected! And what an inadvertently apt choice on the part of the sender. ;)

The Alien perfume sample

I know Omicron is about to descend on us all shortly, and possibly precipitate another lockdown, but I have managed to get out and about a bit lately, and recently met up with a Japanese friend, who kindly donated a clutch of skincare and perfume samples she had acquired as GWPs when buying larger skincare products. The one that intrigued me most was the sample of Mugler's Alien, with which I am familiar already. It was the delivery mechanism of the sample that tickled me - you pulled a cardboard tab upwards to reveal a white plastic nozzle, and then pressed the image of the bottle to deliver a spray from it - which is the closest I have seen to a sample replicating the experience of using a tester. ;) Genius really, and guaranteed to appeal to my inner little kid. 

Do you have any perfume oddities to report? Let me know in the comments.


Hazel said...

Your alarm clock reminds me of a meet up with girlfriends in Belfast (very) many years ago in which we exchanged Christmas presents. It was in the days when the city centre was ringed with security check points. I had occasion to go back through one, so was questioned about the small wrapped package - 'I'll have to see what it is'. 'It's a present - can you open it where I can't see'. Retires to end of bench, returns with re-wrapped box - 'It's nice. You'll like it'. It was a travelling alarm clock.

Vanessa said...

Hi Hazel,

That's a great story, love it! And I do remember those days of frisking and handbag searching during The Troubles, even just to nip into C & A.

Unknown said...

Another fun post V. I did smile st the reasons you couldn't write about Bet 365, I mean Spell 125 :)

Loved the snippet of your poem.

Does your phone not have a Do Not Disturb setting? I drift off to sleep stories but this feature means I don't get any notifications between certain hours.

Long shot, but you don't happen to use miscellar water on your eyes?

Tara said...

It's me!

angie Cox said...

Thanks Vanessa that was fascinating. Health does not allow me the enthusiasm I once had with fragrance. I am off to watch the wonderful " Breakfast on Pluto" I wonder what Kitten would have worn if it hadn't been Chanel no 5. I'd go for " Beautiful by Lauder because she is

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

Glad you liked the post - it has been a while coming!

My phone does have a Do Not Disturb setting but it seems to turn all sound off, which would mean I couldn't listen to the sleep stuff. I will experiment with it though, as I may not have got to the bottom of all the permutations.

Ah no, I don't use micellar water on my eyes, as it would be too drying, though I have done in the past: a good French one from the brand Mixa Bebe, though it still feels more like a toner. I think my histamines are permanently switched on, not unlike the sound on my phone, hehe.

Vanessa said...

Hi Angie,

Sorry your health is interfering with your love of fragrance - maybe perfume is a factor in my skin woes - who knows?

I hadn't heard of that film, but Kitten is good looking all right, having taken a look!

Old Herbaceous said...

No oddities to report, but I loved yours! Sorry to hear about the eyes, that sounds awful and I hope you get some lasting relief soon.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that dish does look like the Estee Lauder bottle!

Ugh for your eyes. This is a random thought, but hopefully you have not been crying too much lately? When I have had cause to weep, my tears dry up my skin and this leads to nasty patches of eczema which sometimes need a mild steroid cream to clear. Also, my skin gets itchy if I have washed the pillow cases in a too perfumed detergent, so now I use the Fairy for babies. I feel that once the skin is sensitive the least little thing sets it off again.

Also, if your immune system is compromised, it is constantly on the alert to be irritated!

Good luck.


Vanessa said...

Hi Old Herbaceous,

Thanks for the good wishes for my eyes. The cause of the trouble is arguably another oddity, if I only knew what it was!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Thanks for your suggestions. I must say I find it very hard to cry - and only do so a couple of times a year maybe? - so that is not likely to be the cause. The detergent theory sounds nearer the mark, indeed I had the very same thought today as I was washing some bedding in one of those gel cap things and thinking that is an excessively strong scent! I will change my washing powder when I have finished this lot.

My immune system is currently busy responding to the booster, hehe, but maybe it was compromised before that? Though I recently had my Vitamin D levels checked and they are fine at least. The actual cause may continue to elude me, but I am taking care to wash my hands a lot more (also a good idea in the time of Covid) in case it is to do with contact with metal (keys, money) or other harsh household triggers. And am using rubber gloves to do the washing up. Realistically I may never find the culprit! ;)

Undina said...

I can't think of any oddities to report, but it was interesting to read about yours.

I'm sorry about your eczema. Mine is also slightly worse, but I suspect that it might be a reaction to my experiments with eye shadows: I don't do it often these days but sometimes I want to play with eye makeup - and then I pay. Retinoid I use on my skin, away from eyes, might also contribute. And a sunscreen. So, from time to time I remove almost everything from my routine and go back to a couple of products.

I've never seen that type of samples but think that it is genius! I would love to be able to get such for most of perfumes, including niche: I rarely need even the second test (unless I really liked perfume or want to write about it), and I feel bad wasting perfumes in those unfinished samples.

You should experiment with Do Not Disturb: it shouldn't affect your audio books or music you listen - only "external" sounds.

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Yes, I know that one about paying for experimenting with make up items you don't normally wear. My skin is pretty jumpy still, so am keeping the regime simple unless I have somewhere to go that I feel calls for make up (which is much less often that it used to be at this time of year!).

Glad you like that Alien "spray bottle". Really cute I thought.

I have figured out the Do Not Disturb function, thank you. A little bit of firking about in the settings, but I cracked it in the end.

Anonymous said...

About five years ago I went to The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition in Montreal. I was massively disappointed that there wasn't a huge selection of his perfumes in the gift shops - quite the missed opportunity.