Eiderdown Press
Musings about Perfume and Life
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
Click on Links to Previous Posts, below

A Conversation on Arabie

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals & Oud Cuir d'Arabie

A Package from Ines

A Package from Lavanya

A More Affordable Olfactionary

A Week of Wearing What I Like

Amouage Dia (pour femme)

Amouage Dia (pour homme)

Amouage Epic Woman

Amouage Gold

Amouage Interlude Man

Amouage Jubilation 25 

Amouage Lyric Woman

Amouage Memoir Woman

Amouage Opus I

Amouage Opus III

Amouage Opus IV

Amouage Opus V

Amouage Opus VI

Amouage Tribute

Amouage Ubar

Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche

Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise

Annick Goutal Petite Cherie

Annick Goutal Sables

April Aromatics Calling All Angels

April Aromatics Bohemian Spice

April Aromatics Jasmina 

April Aromatics Nectar of Love

April Aromatics Rose L'Orange

Aroma M Geisha Green

Aroma M Geisha Rouge

Arquiste Anima Dulcis

Arquiste Boutonniere no. 7

At the Moment (Chanel 22 & Marshall Crenshaw)

At the Moment (Contemplating Change & Habit Rouge)

At the Moment (Marron Chic & Paris)

At the Moment (More Midsummer Delights/Epic/Geisha Noire)

At the Moment (Saki & Lubin Idole edt)

At the Moment (Secret de Suzanne /D'Orsay L'Intrigante)

At the Moment (Spring Pretties/Un Air de Samsara)

At the Moment (Summery Things...Love Coconut)

At the Moment (Vera Wang & Fireman's Fair novel)

Ava Luxe Café Noir

Beatnik Emptiness Incense

Best of 2009

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

Bond No. 9 Brooklyn

Bond No. 9 Little Italy

Bond No. 9 New Haarlem

Bottega Veneta eau de parfum

Breath of God

Byredo Green

By Kilian Amber Oud

By Kilian Forbidden Games and In the City of Sin

Calyx by Prescriptives

Canturi by Stefano Canturi

Capote, Truman & Evening in Paris

Carner Barcelona D600

Caron Aimez-Moi

Caron French Cancan

Caron Parfum Sacre

Caron Tabac Blond

Caron Tubereuse

Caron Yatagan

Cartier II L'Heure Convoitee

Cartier IV L'Heure Fougueuse

Chanel 31 Rue Cambon

Chanel Bel Respiro

Chanel Chance

Chanel Coco

Chanel Coromandel

Chanel Cuir de Russie

Chanel Egoiste

Chanel No. 5 (vintage)

Chanel No. 22

Chantecaille Petales

Chantilly Dusting Powder

Clive Christian C for Women

Comme des Garcons Daphne

Comme des Garcons LUXE Champaca

Comme des Garcons Series 7 Sweet Nomad Tea

Costes by Costes

Coty Ambre Antique

Coty Chypre

Coty Paris

Creature by Kerosene

Creed Acqua Fiorentina

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Creed Virgin Island Water

DSH Perfumes Bancha Extreme

DSH Perfumes Quinacridone Violet 

DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame


Devilscent Project

Dior Diorissimo (vintage)

Donna Karan Black Cashmere

EnVoyage Vents Ardents

EnVoyage Zelda

Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

Etat Libre d'Orange Rien, Rossy de Palma & Noel au Balcon

Faberge Woodhue Cologne

Favorite Fall Fragrances

Fendi Uomo

Fragrances for Sweden

Frapin 1697 Absolu Parfum

Frederic Malle Angeliques Sous La Pluie

Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentrée

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

Frederic Malle Geranium Pour Monsieur

Frederic Malle Iris Poudre

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose

Frederic Malle Noir Epices

Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady

Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

Frederic Malle Une Rose

Geoffrey Beene Grey Flannel

Ghosts of Perfumes Past, Present & Future

Gone Fishin'

Gucci Eau de Parfum

Gucci L'Arte di Gucci

Gucci Pour Homme

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia

Guerlain Aroma Allegoria Exaltant

Guerlain Attrape Coeur

Guerlain Chamade

Guerlain Jicky

Guerlain Mayotte

Guerlain Parure

Guerlain Samsara Parfum

Guerlain Un Air de Samsara

Guerlain Vega

Guerlain Vetiver (vintage)

Guy Laroche J'ai Ose (vintage)

Happy Solstice

Hermes 24, Faubourg

Hermes Caleche (vintage)

Hermes Eau des Merveilles

Hermes Hiris

Hermes Iris Ukiyoe

Hermes L'Ambre des Merveilles

Histoires de Parfums 1740

Histoires de Parfums 1828

Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

Hometown Portrait, State College, PA

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY

House of Matriarch Carmine

How I Store Decants

Il Profumo Cannabis

In Memory (w/mention of Lanvin Arpege)

Jacomo #02

Jacomo #09 (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou Joy

Jean Patou 1000

Jo Malone Saffron Cologne Intense

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne 

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

Kai Eau de Parfum

Kenzo Jungle l’Elephant

Kenzo Summer

Lancome Magie Noire (vintage) 

Lanvin Via Lanvin (vintage) 

L'Artisan Parfumeur Nuit de Tubereuse

L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidee Blanche 

L’Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer

L'Artisan Parfumeur Seville a l'Aube

L’Artisan Parfumeur Tea for Two

La Via del Profumo Balsamo Della Mecca

La Via del Profumo Hindu Kush

La Via del Profumo Milano Caffe

La Via del Profumo Oud Caravan Project

La Via del Profumo Sharif

La Via del Profumo Tawaf

Le Labo Gaiac 10

Le Labo Iris 39

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Le Labo Poivre 23

Little Lists

Lorenzo Villoresi Yerbamate

M. Micallef Vanille Orient

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue Pour le Soir

Maison Martin Margiela (untitled) eau de parfum

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles

Message In A Bottle 

Michael Storer Winter Star

Miller Harris L'Air de Rien


Missoni (original) by Missoni

Molinard Habanita

Mona Di Orio Nuit Noire

Mona Di Orio Oud

Mona Di Orio Vanille

Montale Black Aoud

Montale Boise Vanille

Montale Intense Tiare

Montale Patchouli Leaves

Montale Red Aoud

More Roses (rose cookie recipe)

My Heart Has Skipped a Beat (summer smells)

My Perfumes Have Theme Songs

Nasomatto China White

Neila Vermeire Creations Bombay Bling

Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps

Nez a Nez Ambre a Sade

Northern Exposure "A Dash of Chanel No. 5"

Odin 04 Petrana (Link to my review in Sniffapalooza Magazine)

Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline

Omar Sharif Pour Femme

Oriscent Pure Oud Oils

Ormonde Jayne Frangipani

Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

Oscar de la Renta Oscar for Men

O Tannenbaum Joint Blog Project

Parfum d'Empire Azemour

Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

Parfum d'Empire Equistrius

Parfum d'Empire 3 Fleurs

Parfumerie Generale Bois de Copaiba

Parfumerie Generale Indochine

Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique

Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu

Parfums DelRae Amoureuse

Parfums Karl Lagerfeld Sun Moon Stars

Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin

Parfums Retro Grand Cuir

Paris, je t'aime

Pascal Morabito Or Black 

Perfume Quotes - The English Patient

Prada Infusion d'Iris Absolue

Pretty Perfume Bottles 

Prince Matchabelli Aviance Cologne (vintage) 

Profumum Roma Acqua Viva

Profumum Roma D'Ambrosia

Puredistance I

Puredistance Antonia

Puredistance BLACK

Puredistance M

Puredistance Opardu

Ramon Monegal Cherry Musk

Recipe for Socca

Regina Harris Amber Vanilla Perfume Oil

Regina Harris Frankincense-Myrrh-Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

Robert Piguet Fracas

Robert Piguet Visa

Rochas Mystere 

Rome Vacation Photos

San Francisco Holiday

Sarah Horowitz Parfums' Joy Comes From Within & Beauty Comes From Within

Scented Reading

Scents of the Mediterranean

Scentuous Reading: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Borneo 1834

Serge Lutens Boxeuses

Serge Lutens Chêne

Serge Lutens Chergui

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles

Serge Lutens Five O’Clock Au Gingembre

Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

Serge Lutens Miel de Bois

Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle

Serge Lutens Un Lys

Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental

Slumberhouse Rume

Snow Days

Sonoma Scent Studio Incense Pure

Sonoma Scent Studio Jour Ensoleille

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods (brief mention)

SoOud Ouris Parfum Nectar

S-Perfume 100% Love {More}

Stone Harbor, NJ Vacaton pix (non-perfume related)

Strange Invisible Perfumes Lyric Rain

Sweden Is For Lovers

T is for Taxes

Tauer Perfumes: Incense Extrême, Incense Rosé, Lonestar Memories, & Reverie au Jardin

Tauer Perfumes Vetiver Dance

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Diary of a Nose, Book Review

The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

The Intimacy of Scent

Thoughts of a Perfume Collector


Tokyo Milk Ex Libris

Unlocking an Unknown: Webber Parfum 6T

Velvet & Sweet Pea's Purrfumery Bed of Roses

Venimus Vidimus Vicimus, or How 3 Perfume Bloggers and a Husband Took Rome

Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda, and Rubj

Vero Profumo Mito

Viktoria Minya Hedonist

Viktor & Rolfe Flowerbomb

What I’m Lovin’ Now

Xerjoff Mamluk

YOSH Perfumes Ginger Ciao

Yves Saint Laurent Nu

Links to Other Blogs I Enjoy 

All I Am - A Redhead

A Perfume Blog (Blacknall Allen)

Another Perfume Blog (Natalie)

Ars Aromatica

Australian Perfume Junkies

Beauty on the Outside

Bloody Frida

Bois de Jasmin

Bonkers About Perfume

Ca Fleure Bon

ChickenFreak's Obsessions


Eyeliner on a Cat

Fragrance Bouquet

From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter

Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog

Grain de Musc

I Smell Therefore I Am


Katie Puckrik Smells

Memory of Scent

Muse in Wooden Shoes 

Nathan Branch

Natural Perfumery by Salaam

Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume

Notes From Josephine

Notes From the Ledge

Now Smell This

Oh, True Apothecary! 


Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg


Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

Perfume-Smellin' Things

Purple Paper Planes

Redolent of Spices

Riktig Parfym: Ramblings of a Fragrant Fanatic

Scented Salamander

Scents of Place

Scents of Self

Smelly Blog

Sorcery of Scent 

Sweet Diva

The Alembicated Genie 

The Candy Perfume Boy 

The Fragrant Man

The French Exit 

The Non-Blonde

The Perfume Magpie

The Scented Hound 

The Sounds of Scent

The Vintage Perfume Vault

This Blog Really Stinks 

Undina's Looking Glass 

WAFT by Carol 

Yesterday's Perfume

 (photo courtesy & copyright of Renée Kohlman, Sweetsugarbean.com)

From the Farm to Sin City: A Hankering for Peaches

(With reviews of By Kilian "Forbidden Games" & "In the City of Sin" perfumes)

Though I grew up on a dairy farm and still live in the country, and though I once fantasized about having a backwoods home with a tiny herd of Jersey cows, cute as buttons, producing just enough high-fat milk for me to make boutique cheeses, in recent years I’ve distanced myself from my rural roots—for many reasons. Most of them stemming from a been there, done that mindset and desire to see more of the world, and some of it due to the wearying spectacle of redneck men in pickup trucks who rev their engines past my house, throw empty Skoal cans out the window, and spit their way across parking lots. Yet even as I speak of putting space between myself and my rural past, it’s not entirely true, especially not at this time of year—late summer, early autumn—when I find myself instinctually drawn back to the homestead, at least in my head. Over the past month I have re-read Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain, listened to Emmy Lou Harris’s Pieces of the Sky album, and dreamed again of the doe-like Jersey cows that I truly wouldn’t mind owning, as much for their beauty and docile nature as for their milk.

What is it about this time of year that tugs on my rural heartstrings so? I sometimes wonder if it’s coded in my DNA, this irrepressible pull that comes from slant of sun, change of air, the palpable movement of birds and animals as they prepare to migrate or hibernate, and the weightiness of the harvest—the almost sexual smell of plants and trees that are weighted down with their fruits. On my daily runs through the fields near my house, the corn is ripening and now exudes an odor that smells milky, almost musky, like ambergris. Windfall apples lying in the dew-drenched, late-summer grass have a vinegary sweetness that attracts bees as they ferment, and the tomatoes, peppers and cantaloupes heaped up in bins at the farm-stand waft their respective odors—piquant, sharp and honeyed—into the mix. From a culinary standpoint, this is the highpoint of the year. With such an array of fresh produce, cooking and eating become acts that are decidedly more easy, direct and sensual, and underscoring this immediacy and sensuality is the arrival of peaches.

In central Pennsylvania, the best peaches are harvested in August from ridge-top acreage that speaks of the romantic nature of the fruit. (In the same way that one of my favorite movie characters—Miles from Sideways—once spoke in tender terms of the fragile and delicate nature of pinot grapes, I hold peaches in similar esteem.) Peaches are high-altitude beauties, requiring the chill and brisk ventilation of mountain air, as well as a kissing closeness to the sun and summer heat. They are juicy, fleshy, in-the-moment fruits that don’t store well. Sure, they can be canned and frozen, but they lose some of their identity in the process; whereas an apple in cold storage continues to taste, in every aspect, like an apple, whether you eat it in September or February, the ripeness of peaches is an acute matter: To my mind, they are the fruit most tied to a sense of place, because while they can be shipped cold to the supermarkets and left to ripen later, they never taste the way they do when you buy them locally. When peaches ripen in my part of Pennsylvania, it is the end of summer and you’d better be paying attention, as their season is short. Of course, their incredibly soft and succulent beauty will ensure that you do.

Given my reverence for peaches, I’m a sucker for perfumes that feature this fruit in an upfront way. This includes two perfumes which didn’t get much love from the perfumista community, and this review isn’t likely to change that, because there’s no way to describe the first perfume with a straight face. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t beautiful (I think it is) so here we go.

First up is By Kilian Forbidden Games, a perfume that is the olfactory equivalent of saying, “We shouldn’t like peach this much, or admit that we do, but how can we stop? Let’s engage in as much peach as we can and hope we get over ourselves tomorrow.” It’s the Leann Womack, There’s More Where That Came From anthem to sinful fruit: an indulgent, straight-up capitulation to peach born out of familiarity, on one hand, and a sense of on-the-sly foreignness on the other. Forbidden Games smells like a fresh peach at the height of it sweet-and-juicy ripeness, only multiplied—as if you heaped sliced peaches in a bowl, stirred sugar and cinnamon into them, and let the magic of these simple ingredients do their work. In the same way that sugar draws the juice from peaches and creates a syrup, making them seem even peachier, there are plum and floral notes that add the kind of depth and sweetness that make Forbidden Games smell like a hyperreal peach. (There is also a honey note, which I can’t say I detected on its own, but its inclusion no doubt contributes to the luscious syrup around this peach.)

A fine dusting of spice in this perfume lends Forbidden Games a push-pull vibration: the under-the-covers warmth of cinnamon is joined by what smells like the piquant uplift of cardamom. However, as cardamom isn’t listed in the notes, this piquancy might be attributable to the perfume’s listed note of apple. (Apple, peach, plum, cinnamon, Bulgarian rose, geranium bourbon, jasmine, vanilla, honey and opoponax are the official notes.) All I can say for certain is that there is an accent of something fizzy and slightly tart that adds a mouthwatering bit of acidic bite, and it’s what imbues this perfume with a sense of aliveness. Forbidden Games might be a simple perfume, but it’s a simple perfume with ingenious accents: its deft amount of cinnamon doesn't allow the perfume to cross over to peach pie territory but instead maintains a hush-hush glow about it. And that little bite of apple is so teasing, while the plum adds depth. My only disappointment in Forbidden Games is a slight one: in its far-drydown stage, some four or five hours into wear, it develops a faint laundry-musk smell that is a bit lackluster, but also understandable and forgivable. A richer base would subsume the peach, whereas this lighter one acts like a springboard that keeps the peach so fresh, lusty and alive.

By Kilian In the City of Sin is the other perfume I love from this line, and what I perceive as its peach note is actually an apricot note, according to the perfumer. This peachy apricot takes time to develop on the skin and is surrounded by layers of beautiful trappings. In the City of Sin smells far more complex and, at the same time, far more svelte than Forbidden Games, simply because there is no punch of juicy-fun sweetness here. Despite its risqué name, this isn’t the joy of peach, laid up and waiting for you in the hotel room, but the drier, quieter, more cosmetic beauty we’ll call by her true name—apricot—who is wandering the mysterious, twilit city streets. In the top notes stage, a lightly minty and woody bit of vinery wraps around the fruit, which in the first ten minutes after application is more plum than apricot. (And the lightly mentholated vinery that I smell isn’t accounted for in the perfume’s notes of bergamot, pink peppercorn, cardamom, apricot, plum, rose absolute, incense, cedar wood, patchouli and white musk accord.) A brisk and fizzy combo of bergamot, pink pepper and cardamom imparts a feeling of shimmer and excitement to this olfactory canvas, and as this opening accord is met by the red wine-like notes of plum and rose, the beautiful yet more sérieuse nature of these deeper notes has me envisioning a femme fatale who has made her way into the scent. This latter effect is enhanced by the slow developing apricot note, which has a peach-like fleshiness that is more delicate than an outright peach note, but still conjures up notions of sensuality. Rather interestingly, there is nothing in this perfume that smells animalic, overly fleshy, or blowsy and about to lose all control. Quite the opposite, in fact; it smells like ripe fruits given a champagne treatment that has rendered them shimmery, elegant and more suave than sweet. A light incense note keeps this fruited champagne on the dry side while imparting lift, and there is enough cedarwood and patchouli in the base accord that the perfume comes off as lean and sultry. In the City of Sin is not so much about sin as it is about temptation and the lure of beauty. I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but when I picture it, I think of long-legged showgirls, twinkling lights and champagne bottles delivered on silver trays to a cushy hotel rooms. And in that regard, this perfume is right on the money.


By Kilian Forbidden Games eau de parfum and In the City of Sin eau de parfum can be purchased at Luckyscent.com, either in the beautiful white perfume flacons (that come with an equally gorgeous white case) for $245 for 50 ml, or in the plain 50-ml refill bottle for
$145. My reviews are based on samples I received from the lovely Undina (who is also a fan of In the City of Sin) and from Saks Fifth Avenue in San Francisco.

Photo credits: "Peaches and Window" (used here by permission) was photographed by Renee Kohlman and first appeared in her exquisite food blog, Sweetsugarbean.com, in her September 2013 post on baked peaches. All rights to this image are hers. (Thank you, Renee.)

Photo of the By Kilian In the City of Sin perfume bottle is from Luckyscent.com.


Posted by
Keller, 9/12/2014.

A Package from Christos: Greek Sandals and Montale Oud Cuir d'Arabie

Well, I've never been to England
But I kinda like the Beatles
Well, I headed for Las Vegas
Only made it out to Needles

Can you feel it?
Must be near it
Feels so good
Oh, it feels so good

         lyrics from the 70s Three Dog Night hit, "Never been to Spain"

The oldies radio station that I listen to in my car has been reminding me recently that I’ve “Never Been to Spain.” Well, I’ve never been to Greece either, but I kinda dig their sandals – and that’s a statement I can make genuinely, thanks to my friend and fellow perfume blogger, Christos (who spent his whole life in Greece until last year, when he moved to Geneva). Christos wrote a fascinating review last summer of Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie, in which he likened it to the smell of the touristy summer sandals sold on the streets of Athens (here’s the link), and in it he touched on the sandals made by Stavros Melissinos, “the Poet Sandal-Maker of Athens,” whose sandals have been purchased by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, John Lennon, Sarah Jessica Parker and many others. They aren’t expensive sandals, but they are like poems: lightweight, airy and elegant, with an emphasis on lines: arabesque-like lines of leather that loop around toes and twine up legs, making the wearer look more graceful and long-limbed. I can vouch for this because Christos very recently gave me a gift of these sandals and they arrived just in time for my beach vacation, where I wore them and got the admiring thumbs-up from the women in my family, as well as my husband. Christos gave me the Maria Callas version (so-named because they were originally designed for her; if you peruse the Poet Sandalmaker’s website you can see the others), which have long ties that crisscross halfway up my calves and are what I think of as classically Greek in terms of their look. Though I wondered if the ties would make the shoes uncomfortable, I was surprised to find they didn’t. The leather is still new enough that I have to tie them tight, in order that the bow doesn’t come undone, and for a minute or two they feel a little too snug, as if they might bite into my legs’ circulation, but it literally is only a couple minutes. Christos says the leather will darken over time, and I imagine it will also become more pliable, but even as they are now, they are remarkably comfortable for a shoe that offers up such distinctive beauty.

Beauty and comfort aside, the real reason these sandals are a treasured gift – and the reason I started this post with the lyrics of the Three Dog Night song – is that I believe Christos gave them to me as a way of giving me a piece of Greece. That’s an assumption on my part; he originally suggested to me, in the comments section of his post, that he hoped I could do a side-by-side comparison of the scent of the sandals next to Oud Cuir d’Arabie. Consciously or not, I think he also sent them because he knows how much I've enjoyed his perfumed writing that relates to his homeland – and that’s what these sandals evoke for him in a very concrete way. Greek sandals displayed on the facades of tourist shops are a ubiquitous sight (and scent!) in Christos’s native city, and have been for so long that they are no longer a trend but something that has become iconic. He notes that these sandals are enjoying popularity again with Greek natives, not only the tourists, and that development seems really right to me. True, I’ve never been to Greece, but my impression is that tourism is a deeply embedded part of Athens’ existence, in the same way that it is part and parcel of all ancient and beautiful cities of the world.

Like any tourist, armchair or otherwise, I think of the sea when I think of Greece, and there is a strong whiff of it in the leather of these sandals. To Christos, the leather of these sandals and the leather scent of Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie smells briny in a very specific way: like feta cheese brine. I’m not as familiar with that particular smell as he is, but I do get brine: the leather of the sandals smells like sea kelp to me. It reminds me of Nori, the edible seaweed that is used to wrap sushi rolls, with its odor that speaks of fish and chlorophyll and a light amount of sulfur. This Nori seaweed smell doesn’t overtake the scent of the leather in the sandals, but it definitely infuses it. You could say it makes the leather smell tangy (in a way that does recall the salty tang of brined cheese, although in my head I get more of a true sea brine than cheese brine). I’ve had a similar seaweed scent show up in raw silk sweaters I've purchased, and there the scent was not pleasant the way it is with the sandals. Leather is such a yummy smell, it even smells good when imprinted by this briny odor.

Speaking of which, if there is any perfume that can be said to be straight-up leather and more leather, it is Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie. I’m always surprised when I read comments or reviews on the various perfume forums describing this as a very raw and animalic because it doesn’t wear that way on me. True, it starts off with a top-notes stage that affects the same briny air as the Greek sandals, and there is a gentle animalic whiff of something inky and urinous too, but that stage is short-lived. Almost immediately this perfume deepens, sweetens and smoothes out into a very supple leather that is the equivalent for me of being cradled in a leather sofa. Similar to Christos, I get a lightly sweet, beeswax aroma in Oud Cuir d’Arabie as it develops, and after rather scrupulous study of the perfume this week, I wonder if that smell might evolve from a mix of heliotrope and iris. Montale provides only the sketchiest list of notes for this perfume, which they cite as tobacco, leather and burnt wood notes, but I’d be willing to bet that heliotrope is part of Oud Cuir d’Arabie’s composition. For one thing, heliotrope has a number of facets – a cherry-almond waxiness, gentle powder, hints of pipe tobacco – that marry well to leather and maybe even lean in the direction of soft leather. (Think Guerlain Cuir Beluga, which pivots on a heliotrope accord.) Heliotrope is also used in Montale’s loukhoum perfume, Sweet Oriental Dream, and I catch whiffs of Sweet Oriental Dream coming through in Oud Cuir d’Arabie. It is what refines this leather scent for me and makes it so gracefully wearable. It also wouldn’t surprise me if there was iris in Oud Cuir d’Arabie, as iris can have a silicone-like, new leather smell before it warms and becomes more cosmetic (as it does in the quietly marvelous Parfum d’Empire Equistrius, which is yet another perfume I’m reminded of as I wear Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie, if only in terms of this aspect).

One thing I don’t get much of in Oud Cuir d’Arabie is the oud—the “burnt wood” note that is referenced by Montale. It is mildly there, a hint of Montale’s much-used medicinal oud accord that smells like Band-Aids, noticeable in the perfume's opening salvo. I believe it’s accountable for what I perceive as the inky portion of the top notes: a bit of olfactory drama that sets the stage and takes the wearer to a dusky setting (Arabia after dark, maybe?) before the perfume smoothes out into its supple sofa-leather smell. The portion of real estate it takes up is so small, though, that its inclusion in the perfume’s name is misleading and unnecessary: Cuir d’Arabie pretty much says it all.

By the way, I have Christos to thank for this perfume, too, and it’s important for me to state this. In my reviews I like to credit friends who’ve sent me stuff, firstly to thank them and secondly because it reminds me how much my world has expanded via the perfume community. Yeah, I’ve never been to Spain, but this year I went to the Jersey shore with Greek sandals and German perfumes, and it felt so right…felt so good!.

Montale Oud Cuir d’Arabie eau de parfum can be purchased at LuckyScent.com, where the cost of the 50-ml bottle is currently $100. (It used to be priced at $120.) My review is based on a decant I received from Christos of Memory of Scent, whose own review is here.)

Images: Photo of me in my Greek sandals is my own; Montale Oud Cuir d'Arabie is from Basenotes.net.
lyrics excerpted from the pop song "Never Been to Spain," written by Hoyt Axton and recorded by the band Three Dog Night (as well as Elvis Presley) © Lady Jane Music.

Posted by
Keller, 8/12/2014.

Arquiste Anima Dulcis: The Muriel Pritchett Version of Comfort ...

Sweet and Intrepid


   “I suppose you realize what your life is going to be like,” she said. She climbed out of bed. She stood next to him in her nightgown, hugging her bare arms. “You’ll be one of those mismatched couples no one invites to parties. No one will know what to make of you. People will wonder whenever they meet you, ‘My God, what does he see in her? Why choose someone so inappropriate? It’s grotesque, how does he put up with her?’ And her friends will no doubt be asking the same about you.”

   “That’s probably true,” Macon said. He felt a mild stirring of interest; he saw now how such couples evolved. They were not, as he’d always supposed, the result of some ludicrous lack of perception, but had come together for reasons that the rest of the world would never guess.

The above excerpt is from a conversation that occurs near the end of Anne Tyler’s novel, The Accidental Tourist, just after the novel’s protagonist, Macon Leary, informs his wife Sarah that he is going back to Muriel, the woman he slowly, almost reluctantly fell in love with after Sarah left him (before she changed her mind about their marriage and came back). I had seen the film version of The Accidental Tourist years ago, but only recently read the novel, seeking it out when I was in need of something profoundly comfortinga different kind of reassurance than the fluffy comfort of a generic (non-literary) romance novel, though there is enough romance and quirky humor within Anne Tyler’s works to impart some welcome fluffiness too. In a style that manages to be as absurdly funny as it is poignant, Tyler explores two sides of the same coin: the deep heartbreak and deep strength of family life. Her characters are often involved in walking out on their families, taking a sabbatical almost, because just as often they walk back to them again, changed and strengthened in many ways, and also predestined to return – as if, once a family is established, it becomes its own solar system, with ties as strong as the magnetic force fields around planets. This dynamic plays out in The Accidental Tourist, too, but not entirely: here the main character eventually manages to break free of his family’s force field, and in his case, thank goodness.

Apropos of his name, Macon Leary is leery of the world at large and has always been so. Unwilling to embrace anything new, he makes his living catering to people who are just like him, writing tour guides for business travelers who don’t want to leave the familiar comforts of home, instructing them in ways that will allow them to travel in a cocoon of sorts. When his only son dies, the victim of a senseless murder, Macon becomes even more entrenched in his desire to hide away from the world, and when his wife Sarah leaves him, he returns to the home he grew up in, where he and his middle-aged siblings take hiding out to a whole new level. Mind you, they do it in a good and orderly way—so much so, they view themselves as “conventional” and, thus, don't know what to make of the enterprising young woman who is determined to steer Macon onto a new course when he hires her to tame the one thing in his life that is wild and unruly: his dog.

Muriel Pritchett, the dog trainer, is not Macon’s type at all. For one thing, she’s too young: “She barely remembered Vietnam and had no idea where she’d been when Kennedy was shot.” She’s also not of his class, living on the poor side of Baltimore and dressing that way, in eccentric and flashy thrift-store ensembles involving skimpy skirts or short shorts paired with “preposterously high-heeled sandals.” She talks non-stop (whereas Macon prefers silence), sings country-western songs, makes her desires clear in audaciously bold requests, and has a timid young son who seems to suffer from every form of allergy under the sun, made worse by the fact that Muriel worries over him excessively. She is one of those women for whom more is more; perhaps because many aspects of her life are hard, she has an interest in cultivating glamour and spends much of her free time poring over lipstick colors, perusing thrift shops and drug stores, reading how-to articles in women’s magazines and filling out contest forms to try and win vacation trips to places she’s never been and can’t afford. She’s also industrious, scrappy and smart. She knows how to show an attack dog who’s boss; she’s not afraid to defend herself when a delinquent teenager tries to rob her of everything in her purse; and she will use every ounce of her resourcefulness to get on a plane to Paris and try to win back the man she not only loves but the man she saved when he was falling apart.

So, that is the book and those are the characters I turned to when I was craving comfort, and for the perfume complement I turned to my bottle of Arquiste Anima Dulcis. In English, Anima Dulcis means “sweet soul,” and it is definitely a gourmand-leaning treat of a perfume, butterscotched and soothing in its overall projection and especially its drydown. However, before its surprisingly soft drydown arrives, Anima Dulcis is pure charisma with an intoxicating kaleidoscope of treats. Like Muriel, the top and middle stage of this perfume is a “more is more” whiff of many things at once: a jolt of orange and pepper, their collision high and sweet and zingily staccato-like, gliding over an amber accord which accommodates a whiff of light leather, an air of unlit pipe tobacco and a draught of honeyed wine that is also reminiscent of the syrup from a stewed fruit compote. These latter elements lead me to believe osmanthus figures into the perfume’s composition, as that nectarous floral with its olfactory facets of honey, apricots and suede leather has a particular scent profile that is highly evocative of everything I smell in Anima Dulcis in the first hour of wear (attended by other accords, too, of course). The Arquiste website provides an artistically sketchy list of notes—cocoa absolute, Mexican vanilla, cinnamon and chili infusion is what they claim—along with a description likening it to the scent of spiced cocoa made by nuns in the closed halls of an ancient convent. To this, all I can say is that Anima Dulcis is an irresistible concoction, equal parts charisma and comfort, but hot cocoa it’s not, and I’m just as glad. To my nose, it smells like a patchouli-amber perfume enhanced by bergamot, black pepper, osmanthus, benzoin and Australian sandalwood. True, there is a cocoa note in it, which might emanate from patchouli, but it’s a sheer accent—like a fine dusting of cocoa powder—rather than a defining element of this perfume.

There is also something a little bit furry about Anima Dulcis. I can’t guess from where this furriness emanates, and it hardly matters. It’s furry and warm and dry, like the hair on a man’s chest, or like the fur of a well-cared-for pet, which is another reason why the perfume seems fitting for the character of Muriel, who works at the Meow Bow animal clinic (dressed in her sexy, eclectic ensembles, and not in veterinarian’s assistant scrubs). Anima Dulcis isn’t a perfume that I think of as perfection – it quiets down on my skin a little too quickly and doesn’t have great sillage, even when I apply it liberally – yet it encompasses so much in terms of its traits. Sweet, fizzy and, at the same time, boozy, like an Orangina poured over a shot of brandy; more spicily brisk as the cinnamon and pepper develops over the first fifteen minutes of wear; then elegant and sexy and richly textured, thanks to the osmanthus-like treats previously mentioned. On top of all this, it’s also fluffy and candied, furry and deep, and then very goldenly vanillic in its drydown. The vanilla here is not custardy—it’s golden and butterscotched and reminds me of raw sugar, which is to say that it’s a more resinous vanilla that smells as if it was achieved with benzoin.

* * *

There is a point, midway through the novel, where Macon Leary has moved in with Muriel at her place on Singleton Street ( a shabby yet convivial address on the down side of town), and is now mulling over her traits, good and bad, arriving at a point where:

… he knew that what mattered was the pattern of her life; that although he did not love her he loved the surprise of her, and also the surprise of himself when he was with her. In the foreign country that was Singleton Street he was an entirely different person. This person had never been suspected of narrowness, never been accused of chilliness; in fact, was mocked for his soft heart. And was anything but orderly.

In a nutshell, that is what I love about perfume (and fiction, which, at its best, is quite real). I love the surprise of it and the surprise of myself when I’m lost in it. In the foreign country that is Anima Dulcis, I am like Macon when he is with Muriel. The opposite of narrowness and chilliness; soft-hearted, in fact; and anything but orderly.


Arquiste Anima Dulcis can be purchased at fine boutiques like Barneys.com (where I purchased my bottle) and is currently priced at $165 for 55-ml.

Images: film still of actors William Hurt and Geena Davis from the 1988, film version of The Accidental Tourist can be found at various places on the Internet; bottle image is from Fragrantica.com.

The Accidental Tourist, copyright © 1985 by Anne Tyler Modarressi (excerpts are from the Ballantine Book paperback edition, published by The Random House Publishing Group, New York, 2002, pp. 327 and 194-195, respectively).

Posted by
Keller, 7/29/2014.

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