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Ruminations on finding basenotes and falling in love- a thank you.

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Like many people, I chanced upon Basenotes by accident.

A few months back, I watched Perfume, based on the fabulous novel by Patrick Suskind, and subsequently determined to read the original novel. Unfortunately Perfume has not yet been translated into American English and British translations are scarce (according to Amazon, at least,) so I bought it in Spanish. To make a long story shorter, the world of perfumery exerts a siren's call for certain personalities that led me directly to discover basenotes, in more ways than one.

And like many people who lurk before joining, it didn't take me long to appreciate this truly international community so passionately united by a common love. What a fantastic opportunity to explore this world! There is little or no evidence of politics, one-upmanship or fighting. Here people try their best to help each other with patience, humor and humility. And basenotes has its shining stars-- kind, erudite men and women who have taken the time to welcome me and patiently answer my beginner's questions-- questions I am sure that have been asked a thousand and one times before. Thanks to all of you special people.

And the surprsingly quick result? Falling in love. I suppose that everybody start out with a post of the type "which fragrance is for me?" and gets suggestions from the community-- suggestions that invariably include the rare, the very expensive and the "niche" scents. This also happened to me. But very quickly, and after kissing relatively few frogs, I found a scent to fall in in love with. Soir de lune by Sisley. It is not for everybody, that much is clear (one woman calls it a "headache in a bottle,") but that blessed bottle is on the way in the mail from an internet discounter as I type this. De gustibus non disputandom est. And one woman's headache may be another person's elixir of bliss. At least it wasn't "butter and farts!"

And what did it take to get to that point? 60$ worth of samples from the Perfumed Court (thank you, ladies) and a few hours invested reading blogs, reviews, old threads, asking questions and writing down suggestions. Astonishing. Without basenotes, I could have tromped all over creation and still be searching for a true love to replace the holy grails that have since disappeared into history and the dregs of Ebay. "Discontinued" is my new dirty word, eliciting a gasp of moral outrage.

But it is not just a question of finding olfactory heaven-- it is really about discovering this world, exploring a previously-ignored sense and expanding one's horizons. It is about meeting people from all over the world and all walks of life-- everybody from college professors, designers and writers to professional gamblers and self-proclaimed "cads and bounders"! How serendipitous! How convenient! How fun! Thank you for this site.

Oh yes... I have read quite enough no to know that there will be more loves and certainly more questions and more patient answers. Thanks to all of you in advance for sharing the ride with me.



  1. David Ruskin's Avatar
    Don't know how hard you looked for an english translation of "Perfume" but it is not difficult to find. Try there are at least ten different editions of it. Other than some spellings just how different is English English and American English?
  2. Melvournis's Avatar
    Some nice thoughts there lisa16. It's interesting how we fragrance addicts allow the fact that the film 'Perfume' is about murder, to go completely over our heads.
  3. Melvournis's Avatar
    Updated 25th May 2011 at 07:00 AM by Melvournis
  4. ECaruthers's Avatar
    Great post, Lisa. I'd love to know the sequence of samples you bought from The Perfumed Court and how you decided what to try. $60 to work your way to something fairly rare is really good. You are my newest hero.
  5. lisa16's Avatar
    Thanks David-- the US amazon only had one or two British copies when I was buying, but they were so much more than the Spanish paperback! I usually have good luck with the British version-- that's how I got the last Steig Larsson book 8 months before it made it to the US shelves. When I read them, I don't notice any differences at all :-) The whole Atlantic ocean just disappears.

    Melvournis--- I am a fan of murder mysteries, but also of great art. I enjoyed the novel as a work of fiction and for its sublime artistry-- never really forgot it was about murder. Suskind has good company-- consider how much great art centers around murder: paintings of murder hang in every museum of Europe, there is an endless list of literature and film... really a subject fit for a cultural historian. Now that you mention it, I wonder why we are so fascinated by it?

    ECaruthers-- golly, I just intellectualize too much. And there are so many tools here! Here's what I did:
    1. narrowed it down to chypres and a list of descriptors (likes and dislikes) from my first post
    2. searched blogs/reviews, got suggestions and narrowed by notes (made a list of the notes in my 5 favorites, sorted by frequency, and eliminated dislikes in the basenotes)
    3. Suffered bad confusion over the terms " dark/light green" and "warm" and "unisex" (second post clarified this.) Revised list.
    4. ordered based on price and what they had. Some were frogs and some men's frags (which I liked). Got lucky. Here is what I tried/ordered and how I perceived it:

    mitsouko (yes! But not true love.)
    hermes eau de gentiane blanche (nice, deep but way too green-- needs lilac (just kidding))
    creed original santal (yes! But not true love. Got seduced by "cachet" of Creed))
    yatagan by caron (yes! once I recovered from the pine needles)
    coriandre by Jean Couturier (close, but a discordant alkali note in there for me)
    gres cabochard (meh)
    sisley soir de lune (oh yes! Holy grail)
    sisley eau de soir (almost, but something yucky in the middle there)
    patou colony (I get acetone.)

    This might not help you at all... sorry.
  6. teardrop's Avatar
    lntellectualising seems to work for you Lisa, don't knock it! The methodical approach you described is far more sensible than the blind-buying frenzies & too-fast acquisition of full bottles that many of us indulge in when we begin this journey, & probably saved you hundreds of dollars, well done!
    Thanks for a great post, it's good to share the ride with you too!
  7. Redneck Perfumisto's Avatar
    Yes, great post! Sorry I missed this earlier - glad I finally found it. Your journey rings a lot of bells for me. Very glad that you found us here!


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