Matildaben received hers.
Welcome to the June round of Blind Sniffing. Three samples marked A, B and C were mailed to the three ladies who will sniff them and describe them to us so that we and they themselves could figure out the fragrances' identities. We have agreed that everybody would post as they go, there is not going to be any certain time that we all log on and discuss, so please feel free to post your questions and your comments for our sniffers.
Twolf is hosting and jet-lagged FrouFrou (of TX as of tonight, at least for the time of the sniff Yippee!) is the co-host.
The aging ladies with the picturesque fragrant past and not so cheap fragrant present cause a lot of commotion in real life and perfume discussing fora alike, see Mo's thread started in July of 2009 that I bumped this morning.
Old Ladies' "far too elegant to be vulgar" (YouCanCallMeMo) paradoxes and contradictions, that they delight in, are such that the road to understanding them may lie through understanding the allure and learning the rules of cat pee and mothballs among the scents they surround themselves in. While selecting fragrances to be included in this round of the Blind Sniffs, we had to read through many reviews here on Basenotes and other sites, just to make sure these three are wonderfully different and differently wonderful, all smelling of the old times where a new fashion magazine or a bolt of fabric, a bobbin of lace and a spool of satin ribbon were treated as treasures. Not even touching the subject of hats, scarves and gloves. Those also were the times when the border between drugstore, designer and niche was somewhat muted, every fragrance was niche and very special.
Naphthalene, the main igredient in mothballs, is really a fused pair of benzene rings (C10H8). In recent studies it is proven to be harmful to red blood cells, but honestly, how many of us conventional traditional people are still using them? I do. Cathy Newman, the National Geographic writer, in her "Perfume: The Art and Science of Scent" wrote: "The odor similar to naphtha/naphthalene comes from storax/styrax, when refined and used sparingly it resembles a bouquet of hyacinth, tuberose, and jonquil" (p.155). Some other chemicals found in both nature and laboratories, can contribute to the mothballs smell too.
The only thing I am asking our three sniffers (Sunnyfunny, matildaben and Nostalgie) for, is to regard these three Mothball Scents as friends and treat them as such. From surprise and bewilderment, it is often times a short leap to resentment and animosity.
Nostalgie has informed me she has received her package.
Last edited by Twolf; 14th June 2011 at 06:04 PM. Reason: Like N., can't spell
Matildaben received hers.
Good morning! I'm up bright and early waiting for the delivery of new refrigerator.
Thanks so much for the lovely topic introduction above, the beautiful package (Froufrou *made* it! wow! Gorgeous.), and Twolf, your handwriting is gift in itself.
Now this is an interesting challenge for me, because I have not tried many of the fragrances that frequently get called "Old Lady." Whether the term is used disparaging form, or reappropriated with wit and respect, I don’t find it tagging most of the fragrances I know.
So what a surprise when the very first sample I try (A) seems to be one I know (well, like one I know). I had an instant flash which I sent to Twolf.
I'll hold off for a while and let the others chime in.
Here are my thoughts on A:
First sprtiz: sour—the familiar sourness of bergamot from a vintage bottle, that has just gone off a bit. The sourness will clear in a few seconds. And…it’s..gone!
Now I’m getting tobacco, smoke, and soft leather, wood (guaiac? a smokey wood, in any case). There is something sharp i...
Maybe some labdanum?
In the base, I detect bezoin, maybe vanilla or tonka, but not headed in a gourmand direction.
This is probably not what I at first thought it was. It’s not quite as in-your-face as the one I had in mind. A gentler sister, perhaps.
The deep drydown [EDIT--WAIT THERE WAS MORE!] is all smoke (as in tobacco, not incense) on my skin.
An hour (and more) later, the drydown is soft, creamy, a little sweet, some wood--and maybe benzoin.
It's getting softly ambery as the hours tick by.
This perfume has many stages,
Very nice observations and some of them are right on the dot.
This one is all about the basenotes, the drydown.
I have been informed that there is a package waiting at the postoffice! I hope it will be the Twolf package!
I am working at home today so I can sniff while I'm working. I will only sniff on paper this morning, though, since I am going to Nieman Marcus and Hermes with Warum today and I want to save skin space for perfume shopping. I'll probably be unavailable from 12 pm to 8 pm west coast time.
Thanks for your update.
Any initial impressions?
There is a sweetness in the topnotes as well.
Here are my notes from my first half hour after spraying this fragrance on tissue:
Perfume A - Spray on tissue
I do get something in the top notes with a mothbally feel, as promised - kind of herbal, cooling, like rosemary. At this point I can't claim to detect any notes that I recognize, but that's not surprising because I am not that good at identifying notes.
Starts out like a classic feminine.
A kind of "spicy" floral. Is that carnation? I know that Caron's Bellodgia is carnation and that's the vintage parfum I bought at an estate sale last week, so maybe that's influencing my memory.
As it develops it's taking on a more "unisex" character - it's developing in a deep and rich direction.
Something actually smells like a photographic darkroom at this point.
A deeper, more "purple" flower note is coming out now, balanced and integrated with the darkroom smell. Immediately after that the slightest hint of "powderiness". But it doesn't smell like any of the Iris perfumes that I have so I don't think it's iris. I think there might be rose here, but a plummy kind of rose.
The cooling notes from the top are still in the mix at this point, about 15 minutes in. The powdery notes are increasing which is making it feel more feminine, but the darkroom smell is still there.
I just moved away from the paper and sniffed the sprayer of the vial and I thought I got jasmine. It could be that's something from the top that I missed before, and I've gotten fatigued from the middle notes on the paper so now I noticed the lighter note in contrast.
Now that I've recognized it on the vial, I can detect the jasmine on the paper as well. The powdery note and the femme-ness are increasing - the deep unisex feel I got about 5-10 minutes in has gone.
I still think this is classic high-end designer. In my short experience of perfume I haven't smelled a niche fragrance that smells like this.
I"m working from home today so will keep popping in.
Yes, Froufrou, sweet floral after the bergamot (if that's what it is) blast. Maybe rose? I'm awful at distinguishing floral notes unless they are BIG and unblended.
Are you getting a bit of patchouli?
Matildaben. I get something peppery like carnation, too, about 15 minutes i
Eventually things become powdery.
I love the many stages of development.
ROCK AND ROLL!! I've been pm'ing and just saw this. Can I start out by saying how lovely the presentation is? Twolfie and FrouFrou, you are far more creative and talented than I could ever hope to be.
I agree on the first blast of bergamot. It seems familiar, to me. Is it a Caron?
I get carnation, too.
Nostalgie, I do get a whiff of Patchouli.
I don't have the old lady feeling. Except the powderyness, I think because I adore older perfumes, but also this one wasn't that much worn I think where I lived when I was young so it's really new to me.
I was going to say Caron too, but I edited myself because I've only smelled a few Carons, mostly the vintages that I got at the estate sale, so I wasn't sure if that was influencing my memory.
I don't get any patchouli, but my husband, whose nose is untrained in perfume but trained in cooking, said it felt "hippie-dippy" to him, which usually means patchouli.
Sunnyfunny, put it all together in a short review. Nostalgie got some notes already!
OK, maybe I can think about what might be patchouli... there's kind of a medicinal bitey edge that you get with patchouli, but not the earthiness that usually comes with it - if it were music it would be more like a mezzo-soprano rather than a bass, which I think patch usually is.
I think it was Twolf's idea that everybody writes a short review and then there's a round of questions.
A few notes have been picked out, but not all. I am just co-host, I don't know if I can put all the correctly guessed notes up?
I'm definitely getting some leather now, maybe galbanum... I like this one.
the something herbal in the topnotes has not been guessed yet...
About an hour in, I'm getting something that could be amber, incense, benzoin - I'm not skilled enough to distinguish.
I find these ''old lady perffumes very inetresting, with spicyness, and powderiness and incencyness all together... I think they are very sexy.
almost there, it is used for cooking
Sample A is a lemon yellow liquid that seems to have a high alcohol content so I'm guessing it is edc or edt. It is very sharp and citrussy in the opening, a little bit screechy on cotton, even, but that part, which apparently is bergamot, dies down quickly on skin. There is an immediate soft, somewhat peppery flower which is probably carnation, then morphs into something incense-y and leathery. The flowers in it have turned powdery, so maybe there is iris/orris, or heliotrope.
Benzoin is one of the basenotes
Thank you for your lovely thoughts. Matildaben, I think you write about fragrances smoothly, despite being a newbie of sorts.
I like how Nostalgie tried to go with A development (sharp to smooth).
Out of the notes mentioned I can confirm:
--bergamot (swimming due to the old age of A),
-- darkroom herb;
There were other notes mentioned -- leaning towards amber and aromatics.
What do you think about A in general? Floral? Oriental? Chypre?
No carnation or heliotrope.
Yes to amber and benzoin.
There is an incensey element in A too, that all three of you have noticed.
How does A compare with the grandma of Incense -- Shalimar?
S., to my eye, the color of A is not just lemon yellow. It has a very subtle shade of _______.
The only Shalimar I've smelled is the most current and this is nothing like it.
Trying to remember Shalimar ...it's one I've never warmed up to. I remember it as at once dirtier and more vanillic than this one.
[Yay, Matildaben for getting the jasmine!]
The correct answers started coming in. Two of them, to be specific.
So, is matildaben the only one getting mothballs in the beginning? Make us two -- I am the second one.
Yay to you to, N., for getting vanilla in A (Shalimar is more vanillic, you said).
No, S., mine is a subtle shade of dirty green, actually. (Like SL Chergui when it is getting old).
Let's hear it for my teachers of Jasmine - Montale Jasmin Full and Serge Lutens A La Nuit, both of which I have sniffed just once or twice but that taught me "HEY THIS IS JASMINE HERE!"
S and N have identified A correctly. One of them is thrilled to try it in an EdP (extrait de parfum) form and another one confessed to wearing a drug store version of it some 15 years ago.
I didn't get mothballs, but I thought I smelled labdanum, which often lends a retro, slightly musty green note fragrances.
The color actually threw me off at first b/c the only version I've tried was ...orange!
I never got any mothballs at all.
But then I am a really bad sniffer...
Remembering the ad for A Kiliwia likes "brilliant accent for any season".
I'm surprised at how similar the two iterations really are. This one is far superior, but they are not entirely different, like, for instance, Bellodgia past and present.
I have to dash out for a few hours. Will try B next, later this afternoon after I shower (I'm drenched in A) , and will try to reserve an arm for C, too. This so much fun. I love trying to train my unrefined nose.
This scent in orange?
There is a chance that the Q comes back early, maybe he can pick up my package, or otherwise I can steal his car and pick it up myself. Let's have a nice loooong break!
Matildaben, you are the only one left of our sniffers. Am I still leading you with your mice-smelling mothball-resembling herb?
The notes are:
bergamot, some sweet citrus,
jasmine, rose of sorts;
amber, patchouli, benzoin, vanilla, incense of sorts.
The yellow liquid has a subtle green shade to it. Was available at drug stores some 15 years ago.
I also could have sworn there is a tad of civet in the drydown of A, but it is not in the notes that I have got.
I thought it was high-end, not drugstore. Shows what I know.
I am way out of my depth here and don't have enough to google. Can you gals help me guess the cooking spice? Cardamon and cumin don't feel right, it seems more like an herb than a seed. I already guessed rosemary, sage, laurel and didn't get a yes on any of them. Basil, oregano, but those don't seem to be in here. I never heard of a perfume with cilantro or parsley. Tarragon maybe? Thyme? I'm grasping at straws here.
Is the citrus neroli?
This brand was originally high end, was it not? But is still available in drugstores, yes? And Matildaben, that is one of the coolest things about this game, discovering that nothing but what your nose tells you means anything at all...
FROUFrou, PLEASE CLEAR YOUR MAIL BOX. I HAVE JUST SENT YOU A MESSAGE THAT YOU CAN'T RECEIVE.
You promised you would.
Yes, it was chique. Strange isn't it, that fragrances go ''down the hill', end up iin drugstores, and loose their prestige. Sometimes deservedly so, because they have been altered and adulterated and smell like cheap crap, only a shadow of their former self.
With her permission, I want to share my party favor (and what a spectacular party favor it is...) handmade by our incredibly talented and generous host.