Saturday, September 17, 2016


So I was blermbling around Östermalm today, and I realized that I hadn't yet been to the new Chanel boutique there, and that it MUST be open by now.  Happy, it was.

What a suckfest.

Anyone who knows me should know that I couldn't give 2 shits about Chanel clothes or bags or whatever else they sell except for the perfume (and if you didn't know that, then you clearly don't know me), so naturally I went straight for the Les Exclusifs, which you haven't been able to find in Stockholm up until now.  They weren't hard to find, since the store itself is just as cramped as the one in NYC; in fact, they were in plain view--just a few bottles set up right outside a door that the salespeople kept entering and exiting, making for an annoying experience.  They also didn't carry the whole line.  I assume this because I did not see Cuir de Russie among them--I don't know (or care to know) the names of every perfume in the line, so I can't say if any others were missing, but the CdR definitely wasn't there.

And that's a shame, because I really wanted to see if I found it as bad as I did the last time I smelled it in NYC. It was over Christmas, and I hadn't smelled it in forever, but I had wanted it for quite some time. And now that there are smaller bottles, I was thinking of getting one. But it wasn't the same perfume--it didn't have that plush, warm, velvety feel it used to. I assumed that I had changed, and that it wasn't appealing to me anymore. But when I put it to the brain trust, they confirmed that yes, there have been a few reformulations in that line. I don't understand WHY they would reform CdR--if it met all the regulations in 2011, wouldn't it still meet them now? And they charge enough for it that they shouldn't be needing to save money on the formula. But anyway, I obviously no longer want it and can't see myself ever buying it. So that's that.

The usual suspects where there at the store, however: Misia, Bel Respiro, Boy, Jersey.... I briefly smelled the Eau de Cologne, and it didn't grab me. There are umpteen bazillion colognes on the market; why buy this one instead of any other.  I was, however, very interested in Boy. I remember there being lots of buzz around it, and while I could be wrong, I thought the buzz was that it was a 'feminine fougère' and that it had an androgynous feel. I'd heard about people liking it too, so I was interested.  So I smelled it.

I have to say, I sort of liked it initially. It reminded me of some oil, probably called 'fern', that I smelled at some overpriced, overwrought Italian place on the Lower East Side once. I liked that 'golden' quality that it had, which I would venture to say is a coumarinic aspect.  But then I remembered it was the same quality I liked in some Penhaglions fragrance that I smelled once (possibly also called Fern), which I never got because I didn't like the minty aspect that it had, which Boy also has.  Anyway, once I got past the 'golden' part of the scent, I realized that there wasn't much more there. I think the perfume could simply have been called "Fougère Base," because that's all I got from it. It's pleasant enough, but definitely not thrilling, and surely something that could be gotten for 1/10 of the price. I wouldn't be surprised if one could buy a fougère base that smells pretty much exactly the same.

And I also must say, apart from the sweetness, I don't see how anyone could call this a feminine fragrance. To me, Boy smells like a component of lots of men's fragrances from the 70s. It smells like it could have been an accord in Brut (which I'm not very familiar with, so maybe I'm thinking of another), or in a dozen-or-so masculine scents that you could find in a drugstore in the 80s. What part of this is a feminine update?

I don't get the hype around this fragrance. My personal thought is: Why would you wear this when you could find an old mens fragrance at a drugstore that smells the same but a bit more complex? I guess one could respond that a lot of those old scents have changed, and that it takes time to go wandering in different stores to find a good one, and that this one is ready to buy, albeit roodonkulously overpriced. I realize, however, that other people do not think like this and that probably the main reason people will wear this is because "it's Chanel." Or maybe because they buy in to this stupid feminine fougere claptrap. But for me, this scent is blah. Not unlike Jersey, which was, while pleasant, also blah. But with Jersey, I would question, "Why wear Jersey when you can wear Habanolide?"

Then on the way out of the store (I couldn't get away from that counter and the people coming and going fast enough), I saw the latest iteration of No. 5 on the main counter. So I smelled it. God, how pointless. I've heard very good things about this new one (whatever the hell THIS one is called. I think there's an 'eau' in it), so I guess I expected SOMETHING new about it. Nope. The same soapy aldehydes in whatever base I don't care about.  Honestly, when are the sequels to this movie going to end. Does the world need YET ANOTHER version of No. 5? No. Unquestionably, no. I didn't even keep the scent strip to see how it developed. Why bother, when there will probably be 3 more versions of Number 5 on the market by next year? 

To be completely honest, the world doesn't even need the original No. 5 anymore. It should by all rights be in the Osmothèque. How everyone hasn't outgrown it, I don't know. I was tired of it before I even knew it was No. 5 I was tired of. I thought it smelled soapy and 'old ladyish.' And I know I've mentioned this before, but I was told that the participants in a focus group at Symrise said the same thing, because they weren't told that they were smelling No. 5. At any rate, I find it hard to believe that people wear No. 5. for pleasure. It seems that it's more worn to telegraph certain things, like 'class' or wealth. Or perhaps some wear it out of reverence for history, I don't know.

And why bother wearing No 5 when you can wear FAKE No 5? I find Chanel as a company very off-putting anyway, so I celebrate anyone who wears fake Chanels.  In fact, I happen to own what I assume is a knockoff of No 5. I saw at at Lidl (!!), and it's basically a very aldehydic floral. Since it was I think 30 crowns (less than $3), I got it, and I like to layer things over it, because I like how the dry freshness of the aldehydic accord works with some stuff.  I think it must be a knockoff of No 5, because why would anyone make an aldehydic fragrance these days? It's been done. And I would say that the apotheosis of aldehydic fragrances is, in fact, White Linen by Estee Lauder.

So that was my annoying experience with the Chanel store. I can't at the moment imagine a reason to ever return, but I'm sure that another Les Exclusif will come out and I will go there to smell it and be disappointed again.  Such is life.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Firmenich Bases

Firmenich bases, where have you been all my life (except in a large number of my favorite scents, I assume)????

Every time I smell another Firmenich base, I fall in love all over again. I had to type this, because I got a couple new (to me) ones today: Feuillage Vert and Mimosa Absolute Synth. The Feuillage is so crisp and green and fresh, but also light, like crushed leaves (it doesn't smell like it's loaded with galbanum molecules to me), and works in a hay context. The mimosa is very much like the flower that I recently finally got to smell off the tree---anisaldehydic, greenish-but-not-harsh, with a cinnamic note straight out of the bottle and a bit of a cresylic animal note. I don't know how closely it reflects the absolute, since I haven't smelled it in ages, but I assume since it's a base it's brighter.

I also received a sample of an incredible Narcisse base, which is very green with a mentholic aspect. I excpected it to be more white flower-with-leather, but it makes me think of tuberose. Oh, and I should say that I also got a sample of Firmenich's Osmanthus base, which straight from the bottle smells to me exactly like the description of osmanthus that I knew before I ever smelled the absolute--peachy (more like peach tea) with a leather undertone. Very nice.

I have a couple more bases from Firmenich--the Vetyrisia, which I've read was a part of lots of vintage fragrances, and to me has the smell of a fruity orris base. I don't get much vetiver from it, but I love the orris note.  I'm sure I have a couple more, but nothing springs to mind right away.

Actually something did, but when I looked at it I realized it's a Symrise base--Frangipani Rouge Vitessence. This is just stunning to me. Full floral, very clean, maybe just a touch soapy and green. Absolutely lovely. A perfume in itself.

Actually, any of these that I've mentioned could be perfumes in themselves. I could see just diluting them and wearing them straight, or maybe with an unobtrusive musk. They all seem very versatile.

And that's my flerp for today.


Sunday, February 28, 2016


So I have this musk blend that I often use as a base on which to layer things. It's a sort of ever-evolving blend that I add to when I have new musk odorants. It's mainly ethylene brassylate at this point, but it also contains Zenolide, l-muscone, Exaltolide, some musk ketone, Habanolide, Velvione, Exaltenone and at least one musk base.  No Cashmeran.

At first I wanted to keep it only musk odorants, but after a while it's grown a little in complexity. Benzyl salicylate is in there, both because I love the smell of it (I perceive it, but it's very faint to me) and because it's easy to dissolve the ketone in it. There's some vanillin in there too, because I love vanillin in all its forms.  Just traces in my musk blend, though

What has not really been in there are any more traditional animalics, like civet or castoreum (although I do love castoreum, but I think I prefer a reconstruction to the natural material). I've always thought I would like the more animalic musks, and filthy smells in general; sort of in the same way that I thought I would like things like red wine, dark chocolate and whiskey--things that are always described as rich and bold. I've never smelled musk tincture (who has?), but I've smelled some of the more 'dirty' musk bases, and to be honest, I'm not a huge fan. I think Shangralide smells awful--like a ugly mixture of clean musk with something, I dunno, musty or dusty or something. I wish I could smell some now, because I can't remember what exactly it brought to mind for me; for some reason I keep thinking it made me think of dolls (sort of like how a plasticky apple scent might make you think of a Strawberry Shortcake doll), but that can't be right. Maybe it smelled like something girly but old, like a soft scent stored for a long time in a dank cupboard.  Anyway, yeah.

I've also smelled Tonquitone, which is more appealing than Shangralide by miles, but doesn't make me swoon. It smells like underwear that I've worn for a week straight. Not altogether bad, but not as interesting as it seemingly smells to others.

As for dirty musk fragrances like Musc Koublai Kahn, well, I've never really found one that I thought was particularly dirty. MKK starts out with a dirtyish note but clams down pretty quickly. I've not smelled Secretions Magnifique, so maybe that's more offensive.

I guess I should mention that I've also smelled civet bases (but not the natural material), which smell unpleasant but not hellaciously so. They smell like bad teeth to me. And I've smelled Africa Stone, which is actually quite pleasant.

But I've never put anything like that into my musk blend. After smelling a bunch of musk materials, I've reluctantly come to the conclusion that I prefer the cleaner musks. I think my favorite is Habanolide (or maybe Globanone, which I haven't experienced much but seems to be even more of what I like about Habanolide--a sort of metallic note), which is clean, not too fruity or powdery, and gets even better as it dries down. Ethylene brassylate is really growing on me too. I do quite love juniper lactone, but it's very pricey. Still haven't smelled civettone (talk about pricey!!).

But this weekend I got it in my head to see what Costausol did to my musk blend. Costausol is an animalic-type that I sort of like. To me it smells sort of nutty, and with other materials it gives an impression of hair. Actually, alone it reminds me of the first "vetiver type"oil I ever smelled. It was from some super cheap brand sold at a place called Scents n Suds, and I remember it smelled sort of like old wood but with a tone of chewed peanuts and a floor wax connotation. Since then I've smelled several vetiver essential oils and a couple isolates, and nothing has ever smelled like that particular oil. I wonder what they were going for when they created it. And I also wonder whether it had costausol in it, as costausol gives part of the oily, peanutty note that was in it.  So anyway, I tried a little costausol in my musk blend, putting a tiny bit in a smaller bottle and seeing what happened. Because that's how I roll.

Now, the tiny bit in the smaller bottle still amounts to much, much more of a Costausol influence than I would end up with. When I'm trying something new like that, I'll often put it in a li'l sample at a much higher concentration than I would use it, just to see what it does. And you know what? I like the effect that the Costausol has. Granted, it's too nutty and forward in the small sample, but it's much more diluted in the blend proper. I like how it gives a background to the musk, making them a bit more oily. It also works very well for layering. I think it will work well once it integrates fully into the blend. And if not, I can always add more of the musk materials I prefer to the blend to bring it back into balance. There's so little Costausol there that it shouldn't have a massive effect.

And that's floop!

Friday, February 19, 2016


First of all: Oh fer Chrissakes, now the EU demands that blogs have informed consent??? WHAAAAAA?????

And now that's out of the way (I hope), let's talk about lactones.

It's been forever since I posted, and I've smelled about a million (probably closer to 30) aromachemicals since then, so I'm finna speak about my most recent acquirescences, which aren't many.

So..... lactones.  What does the word mean to you? If you're not a fumehead (my preferred term) (and if you're not, well, how did you get here?), then you have no idea what I'm talking about. Maybe you're lactones intolerant.

If you ARE a fumehead, then you're probably thinking, "Oh yeah, lactones! Buttery, peachy, coconutty.... white floral accents.. yes, I know those."

So yeah, lactones.

I'm finna talk about my most recent acquirals in the world of lactones. And they all revolve around tonka.

So since I was gonna be in the States over xmas, I finally made another order from I haven't ordered since I've been abroad, because their shipping is, like, $20, and compared to perfumersapprentice's circa $10, that seems like a lot to me. Until I type it, and then it's like all, duh, that's only a few more dollars, but hey, no one ever claimed I was rational. But anyway, so for the visit, I made a quick order that included whiskey lactone and gamma valerolactone.

OK, so some preliminaries... I love lactones. Tonka-type lactones.  Peach lactone and C18 were the first ones I ever experienced, and I didn't much like them, to be honest. Peach lactone (C14) didn't smell like peach to me in a way that I liked (it smelled buttery to Nils; I would say maybe fatty, but not buttery so much), and C18 was too dry for my taste. I don't usually like the coconut note when it's too forward. I still don't like C14 very much, but I'm sure it works better in composition than in isolation.  But I DO love coumarin. And, to some extent, octahydrocoumain. Both are lactones. Presumably so is dihyrdocoumarin, which I think I like even better than coumarin, as I perceive it as more tonka. Coumarin in isolation is more powdery to me.  But since I'm always searching for That One Perfect Tonka Note, and I know (now) that coumarin is a lactone, I've been trying tonka-type lactones.

The first couple I tried that seemed much more interesting were Koumalactone and Florex (both available from Liaison Carbone, thanks god). Now, every time I find a new lactone that's coumarinic in the way I like, I always think it's my salvation. "This is the lactone I've been looking for!!!" is the first thing I think when I smell them.  It was like that with Koumalactone.  "Finally a lactone that smells like tonka!!!!" I thought when I first smelled it. I wish I could get it at 100%. But.... then came Florex.  But wait!

Actually.... then came Coumarone, also available from Liaison Carbone.  I forgot about this one.  A powder, just like coumarin.  BUT it has an orangeflower facet.  I read about this (of course) on The Good Scents Company before ordering, but to be honest, I couldn't really get my head around it. "And orangeflower facet in a coumarinic material? How could it be so..." I thought to myself. But it's true. A coumarin theme with a significant orangeflower side note, not unlike.... oranger crystals!!! Of course, it makes total sense. I mean, it's a ketone, right? Just like oranger crystals.  Seems like it could be very useful.  But anyway...

Florex. Amazing. It really does have a 'tangy' aspect. I've been interested in this idea of a tangy aspect since smelling Guess! for Women, which--for better or for worse---I will always associate with Payless Shoe Source, since I finally bought the bottle, at deep discount, the same day I visited a Payless Shoe Source in Atlanta. One whose clientele must have been mostly drag queens, because I think I bought some chunky women's heels there in an attempt to see if I could make myself even taller, something which today I think I could accomplish with simple elevator shoes. (Full disclosure: I'm not exactly tall. I'm not exactly short either, at just about 6 feet, but hell, a few inches can make a big difference. Yes, that IS what she said!) But I remember it had a tangy drydown which for whatever reason I thought had a fecal aspect.  And interesting that I should think that.

Because I got some Florex, after wanting some for quite a while. And naturally I thought, "This is the tonka note I've been looking for my whole life!" I found it tonka, coumarin, tangy, interesting and very long lasting.  Nils, on the other hand, thinks it smells like "fresh dog shit," and hates it. When I think about it now, I sort of see what he means. Its tangy note is very sharp. I find it pleasant; Nils doesn't. The tangy note isn't so forward in composition. (Full disclosure: "Composition" to me basically means "added to something I had lying around.") It's quite lovely.

So on to the creatingperfume order.  In it were whiskey lactone, gamma valerolactone, a sample of Azuril, a sample of Indolearom, a sample of Amber Xtreme and something else citrusy that was unpleasant. I think that was all.  So whiskey lactone.  Well, it's basically the tonka note that I've been looking for all my life.  Like the others. At this point I'm getting skeptical of these initial impressions.  But it did smell lovely in a tonka way. Nils thinks it smells like dill. Gamma valerolactone--well, this one is quick. Quick of the smelling strip, that is. The description intrigued me to no end--tobacco, hay, top note.... On the strip I didn't smell so much. I still haven't explored it enough, though. But I think I got some almond/hay type scent from it. I'll have to explore this one further. After googling, I noticed that it may be metabolized into some GHB type chemical.  Well, who knew! I have no intention of trying that, but I guess this type of thing is good to know, if only to anticipate the thing being restricted soon.

So that's my lactone journey for the moment. I'm always hoping to find more (convenient to acquire) tonka-type lactones, so maybe something will come along soonly that IS the lactone I've been looking for my whole life. And hopefully it will be super strong, available at 100% for cheap, and be a base note with an effect perceptible at every stage of evaporation. I've yet to explore gamma-hexa- and heptalactone--maybe those are the key.  I guess it can't be all THAT difficult to reproduce the tonka note, since there aren't many tonka bases offered in my sphere of purchase possibility dinglepoodonglevweenoodelpeedoodeloos (which makes me think that this tonka-hay note is so obviously reproduced that no one bothers to make bases for it; that said, there IS the base Coumarex, which I still have yet to experience. But then, that's a base to allow for reduced use of coumarin, methinks, which doesn't really apply to me, since I'm just a hobbyist doing ish for my own pleasure).
Be well, and be perfumed.

Much Love,

Monday, February 08, 2016

Link: LVMH Silences Monsieur Guerlain

So how can someone have a scent blog and not mention LVMH shutting down Monsieur Guerlain?  Go here to read all about it:

It's a disgrace.

10 February update: And this is how LVMH responds to the criticism on Facebook:

So this is Guerlain believing "strongly in freedom of expression"? Fuck Guerlain. Fuck LVMH.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Blimey. I found this old post as a draft that it looks like I've never published.  Might as well complete it! And now, the post:

I got some much anticipated materials today: geosmin 1%, earthy pyrazine, seaweed absolute, oakmoss absolute and a Givco orris base.

My impressions were as follows:

Geosmin: Smelled it from the bottle, as I always do. Couldn't smell much of anything, maybe a very light patchouli. Blended it with some stuff, wore it, and was told I smelled like garden soil. I thought that was a good thing! I hoped for more of a petrichor effect. Probably it wasn't diluted enough.
The pyrazine: earthy, dryish, nutty
Seaweed abs (decolorized): It makes me think of sushi. 
Oakmoss abs: I was already familiar with this one. Like Polo once was, dark, mossy, rich. Wish I had a decolorized one.
Orris: mild orris note; didn't find it very powdery; fruity; nice.

What I found more interesting were Nils's impressions:

Geosmin: patchouli, slightly floral
The pyrazine: green peas. I smell this too, actually, but I don't think it was my first impression.
Seaweed: burnt rubber, burnt textiles, blown-out brakes, unpleasant
Oakmoss: old paint, old houses
Orris: Foody, slightly violet

I can see what he means about the Geosmin and the pyrazine.  Now that some time has passed, I can also see what he means with the seaweed, but my dominant impression of that is still green and sushi-like. The oakmoss I can understand, too, but to me it smells richer and darker than his description. He found the orris very foody, and I found it more woody.

So that's the materials gurzonk for the moment. More to come, as I've probably experienced and forgotten a zillion materials since the last time I updated.


Zara Home

Wow, it's been forever since I posted. I just looked at the blog to see how the format was, and my last post seems to be about my anosmia, which I am happy to report passed after I got antibiotics for the sinusitis.  It was a scare for a little while.  Anyway....

I went into Zara Home today and was greeted by.... new fragrances!! ZH has been in sthlm for some time right now, and I've been wanting them to get SOMETHING new for a long time now.  Sure, they occasionally had different candles or what not at the register, but the main scents they had were always the 'core' line (what I consider the core line): Dark Amber, Black Vanilla, Green Herbs, the gardenia one, the jasmine one and I think one they call White Ginger or Ginger Flower or something.  Those are nice, and they certainly do perform--one of the big candles will fill a room with scent without being lit.  That said, the scents kinda share that Golden Girls vibe that the rest of the store can have, some more than others.  The biggest case in point being the gardenia, which to me seems loaded with white flower notes and fruity tones--peachy lactones, maybe. But it's not soft or velvety or buttery. It's a bit harsh. The jasmine is a bit harsh too, and kinda thin now that I consider it.  The amber is nice--I have the incense, and it gives me a big vetiver vibe. Green Herbs is lovely; I have the spray, and when I got it home it was fruitier in a cis-3-hexenyl acetate way than I expected. The Ginger one is problematic for me--in the store I got a strong spicy, eugenolic feel from it and I got the reed diffuser to tinker with. When I got it home, I got a lot more lilac from it, which I wasn't crazy about. The Black Vanilla I don't even bother with. It just doesn't appeal to me.

Apart from the 'core' scents, I've only experienced a few: their holiday gingerbread is nice in the incense and more lemony in the spray; they had a holiday candle which I think they called myrrh--it was a lovely incensy aroma, I wish they carried it all year round; and something I think they called Coral Flower, which is really an orange blossom. I got the big candle in that, but it doesn't have the performance of their other candles.  Nice, though.

So now to the ones I saw tonight. I didn't write anything down, so I'll try to take it from memory.  There was a cedar scent, not very exciting, seemed to have some conifer aspects. Pleasant, and if I had not accidentally sprayed it in my face, rather forgettable.  There was a fig one, of which I bought the incense. (I'm so into incense now; I never liked it before, didn't like what the smoke contributed. But it's undeniably a convenient method of home fragrancing.) The spray--I was smelling the sprays--was nice, berryish, kinda green, pretty much what you'd expect for a fig fragrance. I quite like the incense, though--a round berry smell with aspects of currant, not as green as I expected. (Take all the descriptions in this post with a hefty grain of salt, because the Zara Home store can be smelled from a block away, and there's also lots of scents in the apartment. So it's not like I'm smelling these things under lab conditions or anything.) There was an orange blossom that I found utterly unlike orange blossom, except for the fact that it was indolic. I actually smelled the cap before then spraying it into the cap to smell again, and I thought, "Wow, the drydown is pretty indolic. I can't wait to smell the floral overlay." But I didn't get any floral in it at all. It was like a woody scent, maybe even leathery, with an indolic facet. I guess they must have been going for some kind of new take on orange blossom, because I don't think that an orange blossom is particularly difficult. I'm sure there are great bases, and even if not, you could probably just put Aurantiol into something and a lot of people would read it as orange blossom. But what do I know? Nothing, that's what!  And onward...  There was something they called bamboo while the design suggested 'clover.' It smelled mild green, but not sharp like you'd expect from a bamboo. More like a clover. Pleasant. I got the incense, but I need to smell it in action again to know fully what I think about it.  OK, this paragraph is getting heavy, so I will start

a new one. Next was a tuberose. "Tuberose Bouquet" was the name. Nice in its way, but even harsher than the one they call Gardenia. Like a bunch of harsh white flower notes turned up all the way. Minty too, which of course made me think salicylates, but don't those usually soften a scent a bit? Maybe the mint came from that cresylic note whose name I can't remember.  Anyway, it could have been so nice if it were softer, but it felt a bit skeletal. Would be interesting to get it and add to it, see what could be done.  The last one I remember was their Red Berries.  I didn't mention it above, but I've also smelled this before. Love me a good berry note, and this one is nice. Nothing to scream from the rooftops about (not like that fantastic Kobo candle that I want--now THAT's a berry!), but pleasant. I wonder how performative it is.

Well, that's the Zara Home update for now. Hopefully this new addition to the scents here means that they'll start offering a better variety. One can hope!