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Musings about Perfume and Life
The Intimacy of Scent
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
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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

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

Deneuve

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

Miscellany

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

Tightly

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

THE INTIMACY OF SCENT

 

Last weekend I went out to dinner and a movie with a friend, and after leaving the movie theater, which was so cold I never removed my coat, I realized I must have left my scarf back at the restaurant.   So on the way home we stopped by the restaurant again, but it had just closed for the night, the doors were locked, and I didn’t want to make a nuisance of myself by banging on the door and trying to get the attention of the skeleton staff that was vacuuming and cleaning up the place.

 

I have a number of scarves: a couple that are silk, one that is cashmere lined with silk that my father gave me, some that are knitted, and some that are cheap rayon, but pretty, which I use as dresser scarves.  The scarf that I left behind at the restaurant was not cheap, but nor was it particularly valuable; it had come to me as “part of the package,” so to speak, of a winter coat I had bought eight or nine years ago, and though I’m not sure what fabric it was made of, it must have been some kind of synthetic considering how well it had held up over the years and through so many launderings.  Under really close inspection, you could see that the fabric was starting to pill slightly, but overall, the weave of green and gold threads, with just a touch of red, still shone with jewel-like clarity in their intricate design.  It seemed to go with every coat I owned, the length was just right, and for some reason, I always looked forward to tying on this scarf at the start of winter each year.

 

But none of that explains the dread that filled me the next morning after my evening out, when I realized my scarf might be floating in the lost-and-found bin of the restaurant, where I imagined the entire detritus of winter had come to collect: the hats and gloves and mittens that get dropped on the floor and are either forgotten or unimportant, as their owners never come to collect them.  Hadn’t my own friend dropped her gloves twice that night, at both the restaurant and the theater?  I had a strange vision of the lost-and-found bin getting bigger by the minute and swallowing my scarf like a black hole—and then the entire thing being hauled off to the dumpster at some point.  If not the dumpster, then the Goodwill, which to me was even worse—and yes, I know how awful that sounds, but hear me out before you judge me.  It’s not that I have anything against the Goodwill, and it’s not that I am opposed to the kind of house cleaning that involves throwing things out (just ask my husband).  No, what drove this crazy, little, panic attack was this: I couldn’t stand to think of my scarf, which smelled so intimately of me and my perfumes (not just one perfume, but weeks worth of perfumes, all of them mixed with the smell of my skin, my hair) floating about in some careless world where it would eventually gather dust and restaurant grease before being tossed into a ripe dumpster, or worse, passed among the hands of strangers trying to decide whether it was worth their 99 cents to toss it in with the rest of their Goodwill treasures.  Maybe even bought and worn by a woman who sprays her neck each morning with Britney Spears’ Curious.

 

Okay, now you can judge me.  I’m a weird one, I’ll admit it.

 

And if you’re wondering if it would make a difference if my lost scarf was claimed by a woman who thought it some great treasure, a woman who dabs her neck each morning with Guerlain Mitsouko…well, that would certainly be preferable, but still it doesn’t assuage this lingering, incomprehensible fear I have about strangers stumbling upon the things I hold most private and dear, the things I consider most intimate.  I realize how ridiculously false that sounds coming from someone who puts her thoughts in writing and then invites all and sundry to come read them.  Yeah, who but a writer to claim a fear such as this and then blab about it on the page—on an Internet site, of all places.  (Hey everybody!  I didn’t want you to know this….Shhh!)

 

So, how to explain why the notion of my personally scented, perfumed scarf floating loose in a small-town world unnerves me, while the thought of my personally written journal entries floating loose in a much larger world does not?  (Especially when my scarf represents me in such a lovely way, whereas my writing sometimes, umm, stinks.)  I suppose it all comes down to a matter of control.  While I aim to be honest in my writing, even when aiming towards honesty, I’m exercising control and only putting out the stuff I think is consumable (palatable?) about myself.  And knowing I’m not always a good judge of what is palatable, that, too, is sometimes a little frightening.  But what really frightens me is the thought of something I consider intimately mine being Out Of My Control, prone to judgments I can’t foresee or defend myself against.  I think that’s why I couldn’t stand the idea of my scarf being lost.  (Which it no longer is, thank God.  It’s back, freshly laundered, and smelling of Amouage Gold today.)

 

Out of this whole experience, what I came to realize is the difference between “perfume people” and those who are not.  The perfume community understands that scent truly is an intimate, personal thing—its connection to memory so raw, so visceral.  This explains some of my other perfume-related fears, which I won’t go into in great detail, except to say that isn’t it funny how I will drop large amounts of money on a bottle of perfume I might not have smelled before, whereas I am almost crippled with fear to spend $10 on two things that I have longed to re-smell again?  (Old Spice aftershave, which my father wore in the early years of my childhood before he began exploring other scents, and Diane Von Furstenburg’s Tatiana, which my mother wore in the 1970s.)  The memories that Old Spice and Tatiana send up are so hallowed in my mind that I cannot bear the thought of purchasing them and discovering that these are just cheap scents that only a child of the 70s could love, nothing more.  (Because, of course, they are something more.)

 

Novelist Whitney Otto clearly understands how intimate a thing scent is, and she employed it well in one of the early chapters of her stunning novel, How To Make An American Quilt, published in 1991.  The book examines the lives of a group of eight women who are members of a quilting circle—and she provides a richly detailed view into each character’s individual experience about what it was like to grow up, get married, and raise a family in an era when a woman’s roles were somewhat confined to those of daughter, wife, and mother.

 

Two of the characters in her novel, Hy Dodd and Glady Joe Cleary, are sisters who look a lot alike, are often in the company of one another, yet in personality are markedly different.  Both have enjoyed happy marriages, but while Glady Joe’s marriage is a partnership built on friendship (she and her husband sleep in separate beds), Hy’s marriage seemed to be cemented by the more sensual bonds that fit with her personality.  At age 50, Hy is forced to watch her ill husband die a slow death in a hospital bed, and Glady Joe’s handsome husband, Arthur, is appointed to drive her back and forth to the hospital:

 

“Sometimes, as he sat beside her in the car, he would marvel at how alike she and Glady Joe were, physically.  Out of the corner of his eye, he could almost mistake one for the other, but looked at straight on, he could see that Hy took a little more care with her appearance, was without the more conservative aspects of Glady Joe, was slightly more stylish.  They seemed to be aging in exactly the same way and at roughly the same rate, their figures subtly thickening around the middle, their legs still ‘good.’

 

“Hy carried the scent of musk, moistened and released by her perspiration.  The air-conditioning dried and cooled her perfumed skin, which Arthur admitted he found seductive.  Which led to shame and guilt.

.

“But he began to live for the days they spent driving to the hospital, her musky odor filling the car.”

 

Arthur’s wife, Glady Joe, wears Shalimar, a scent that provides a similar form of torture.  “Despite their arrangement, Arthur still has flashes of desire for his wife,” Otto reveals a few pages earlier, writing:

 

“…maybe it would hit him as he watched her dressing for an evening out, anointing the hollow between her breasts with Shalimar before dropping her dress over her head (careful not to muss her hair), turning her back to him, saying, ‘Sweetie, come zip me up.’

 

“The unfairness of his desire for her was that it would assail him at any random moment.  Arthur punched his pillow and tossed in bed; he could not get comfortable or stop remembering the smell of Shalimar, so named for the garden at Taj Mahal—one lovesick husband’s monument to his absent wife.”

 

Of course, you know what follows next.  At the peak of Hy’s duress, seeing her husband suffering and knowing she will never feel his touch again, she commits the unthinkable, giving herself over to her sister’s husband.  It does not take Glady Joe long to puzzle out what has happened:

 

“The first thing that strikes Glady Joe when she sees Hy and Arthur that evening is the powerful smell of Hy’s perfume in the house.  It seems to drift and settle about the furniture, underneath chairs, relax in the corners of the room. … It is as if Hy’s perfume has shape-shifted and is now a fourth entity in the room; as if the musk has somehow become personified.”

 

Personified: that single word is the best description of what scent is to those of us who hold it in such intimate regard.  For fragrance lovers, a perfume or even a non-perfumed scent becomes more than the sum of its parts.  Binding with mind and spirit, it takes on the personification of our hopes, dreams, and yes, even our fears.  

 

 

Quoted material excerpted from the novel, How to Make An American Quilt, copyright © 1991 by Whitney Otto (Ballantine Books, 1991, pp 20-28).

Posted 3/4/2008 by Suzanne Keller.

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Beauty on the Outside
 

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Ca Fleure Bon

ChickenFreak's Obsessions

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From Top to Bottom - Perfume Patter

Giovanni Sammarco (artisanal perfumer) blog

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Natural Perfumery by Salaam

Notes on Shoes, Cake & Perfume

Notes From Josephine

Notes From the Ledge

Now Smell This

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Olfactoria's Travels 

Parfumistans blogg

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Perfume Posse

Perfume Shrine

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