Wednesday, August 25, 2010

javanica review

File:Botany plate 124 britannica 5th edition 1817 engraved by William Miller for William Archibald.jpgA spicy floral—round, nutty, nutmeggy anyway, delicate woods—I loved this one the minute I smelled it—Actually, this whole line had me shaking my head in wonder, asking: how does she do it?

Definitely sweet, but dark as well, and it smells foggy somehow, as if a fragrant steam were rising up from my hand, comforting as a cup of hot java. I could see this being a great comfort in the dark winter months-its exotic tropicality, yet almost holiday-oriented spiciness creating a truly winning combination.

Nutmeg botanical plate engraving by William Miller for William Archibald. from Encyclopaedia Britannica 5th Edition, at the Encyclopaedia Press, For Archibald Constable and Company, and Thomson Bonar, Edinburgh: Gale, Curtis, and Fenner, London; and Thomas Wilson and Sons, York, 1817.

I’m back!

File:Adolf Friedrich Erdmann von Menzel 014.jpg

Hello, everyone! My beloved and I are back from our enchanting journey to Andalucia and Morocco, and boy are we jet-lagged! But I am brimming with stories to tell you all.… Today, I must compose my class syllabus for the Arthurian Literature class I begin teaching tomorrow, (I know, how horribly last-minute of me!) but tomorrow, the tales begin!

Thank you all for commenting on my posts in my absence, and I look forward to delving into your own blogs’ backlogs (if you have blogs) over the next few days, when I find the time!

Much Love, LBV

train painting by Adolph von Menzel The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

notes from my lunar insomnia: inconstancy

Inkonstanz, Allegorie der Unbeständigkeit (1617) by artinconnu.

Why is the moon, symbol of femininity, also a symbol of inconstancy? I understand that both are subject to cyclic change, but why is that often seen as a negative thing in Western culture? Where is the notion of positive power, of wonder at the connectedness of humans and the sky and other parts of nature? This is something that bothers me off and on, and this allegorical image of Inconstancy brings many of these irritations bubbling up to the surface…

There’s that damn crustacean again—I mentioned it once before in one of my lunatic posts--that horrific symbol of meaningless cycles of nature, that, according to traditional thought that I find quite compelling, has nothing to do with a good god.The depths-crawling lobster represents the nightmare of the unknown, of the subconscious, and also of the deep unexplored ocean; the things we know exist and don’t want to understand—all brought up by the moon’s powerful force.


Abraham Janssens “Inkonstanz, Allegorie der Unbeständigkeit” (1617)

Monday, August 23, 2010

TOTD: Tamara hopes for full bottle love

File:Pedro Américo - A Noite e os Gênios do Estudo e do Amor.jpgFrom a private correspondence between me, LBV, and my perfume friend Tamara. In this installment, Tamara struggles with her expectations and certain realities while searching for true love. I bet you all can relate. I certainly can.

“I'm about to go to the dreaded mall this morning to go see if I like Laura Mercier's Minuit Enchanté cause from what I've read about it, it seems like it's right up my smelly alley ….”

a few hours later:File:Rosetti01.jpg

“But you know what I did? I went to try the L.M. Minuit Enchanté and what the hell! It was a screechy mish mash of notes; it was (and still is) painful cause I'm trying to give it the full on it deserves (poor  nasty thing) but bleeech! I am so glad I didn't have to pay for that sample. But I do have it  now if you’re interested, ha!

Sooo I take it back what I said I don't . I'll ADD to what I was saying before. I don't just love decadence, I also love earthy and green. Whoooweee girl, I came home (sorely disappointed but so thankful I didn't do a blind buy based on the hype of it.)

.. cause I was so positive I would just cave and get it.  Don't you hate when that happens?  When you wanted so badly to love something and you don't, you can’t. I suppose it's the hunt that really is the fun part but Lord when you find FB worthy love it's joy. Aggghhh, I'm rambling (sorry!) .. .cause I was so positive I would just cave and get it.  Don't you hate when that happens?  When you wanted so badly to love something and you don't, you can’t. I suppose it's the hunt that really is the fun part but Lord when you find FB worthy love it's joy. Aggghhh I'm rambling (sorry!)

Tamara, sweetie, ramble away!

File:Vison of the Holy Grail.jpg


Pedro Américo, “A Noite e os Gênios do Estudo e do Amor” from Museu Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “The Damsel of the Sanct Grael or Holy Grail” Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

William Morris’ “Vision of the Holy Grail” from the Museum and Art Gallery of Birmingham


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Smelling other peoples’ husbands

I’m reposting one of my very early posts today!

At the party this weekend, my friend Julie suggested I smell her husband, Kurt. Now I don't usually get invitations from wives to inhale the deep manly scents of their husbands (LOL) so of course I could not refuse! Also, these two are not fragrance mavens and I was surprised Kurt would wear anything at all, since he is so involved in his main hobby, cooking, and I imagined he wouldn't want anything to get between him and the smells he conjures from the pan.

L'Occitan Eau de Toilette

I was not surprised, therefore, to discover this fragrance to have a gourmand edge; the first thing that hit my nose was an accord of herbs and pepper, softened with lavender--perfect for my gourmet friend. I asked what it was, and was delighted to hear it was L'occitan PH; I tend to love l'occitane products, partly from good experiences with them (one of my husband's signature scents is Cade) and partly from nostalgia, since it was in a l'occitan shop in France when I was seventeen that I discovered that fragrances could draw me in. Before that, the synthetics and aldehydes always bothered my sensitive nose, but their natural approach provided a sort of gateway experience which prepared me to become the obsessed freak I am today.

Anyway, I got Kurt to let me have a spritz, and was assailed again with that fabulous pepper-lavender-herbs accord. I wore it around during the morning brunch, and enjoyed what was by then developing into a very spicy pepper/nutmeg/cedar combination that was powerful, yet played nice with my food. I can totally imagine women wearing this as well. The drydown--which happened hours later, when I was driving back home with my husband after this wild weekend of parties, was a sweet musky cedar, almost too sweet, but not quite. It lasted until I fell asleep, exhausted from way too much stimulation.

I think this fragrance is tops. it is complex and changes significantly over its lifespan but never grates. It is affordable and long-lasting. It is made by a company that I know to be conscientious and dedicated to an aesthetic lifestyle, and above all, it is just a beautiful composition.

Friday, August 20, 2010


File:Ganesha Basohli miniature circa 1730 Dubost p73.jpg

I found this on Wikimedia Commons, and I think it is interesting that the fragrance of the lotus is the god’s primary weapon against demonic evil. I cite the comments on the image in full since I think they are very interesting:

“This work is reproduced and described in Martin-Dubost, Paul (1997). Gaņeśa: The Enchanter of the Three Worlds. MumbaFile:Ganesha Madras.jpgi: Project for Indian Cultural Studies. ISBN 81-900184-3-4, p. 73, which says: "Attired in an orange dhoti, his body is enitirely red. On the three points of his tiny crown, budding lotuses have been fixed. Gaṇeśa holds in his two right hands the rosary and a cup filled with three modakas (a fourth substituted by the curving trunk is just about to be tasted). In his two left hands, Gaṇeśa holds a large lotus above and an axe below, with its handle leaning against his shoulder. In the Mudgalapurāṇa (VII, 70), in order to kill the demon of egotism (Mamāsura) who had attacked him, Gaṇeśa Vighnarāja throws his lotus at him. Unable to bear the fragrance of the divine flower, the demon surrenders to Gaṇeśa.’”

Do you all use fragrance to ward off sin and egoism, or do you use it to enhance your vices, I wonder?

CREDITS: “Ganesha getting ready to throw his lotus.” Basohli miniature, circa 1730. National Museum, New Delhi.

“Ganesha, o deus hindu do conhecimento.” from, Madras Editora Ltda.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

TOTD: Tamara on lemming

So, the lady Tamara and I have been thinking of splitting some Tauer bottles. This is a difficult proposition because, well, I’ll let Tamara speak for herself:

What's goin’ on with me is that I'm in a torturous state with my perfumania; it is so hard saving for my Tauers.

Like, almost overbearing is my longing to get on to my next fix!

October is far away, I've been saving for a month already,  with no  samples, decants, mini's, nada.* SIGH*

And now with the sale going on at BeautyHabit (25% off till 8/13 type OPRAH at the coupon code box) ha.

I am lemming like crazy! I've gone back and forth , mumbling to myself about "Do I want this? How about this? No don't get anything!"

Like a damn crazy layday.

Here's what I keep obsessing over-

L'Artisan Verte Violette

Parfum Del Rae Mythique

10 Corso Como

and most of all Parfum d Empire! Aaaaggghhh!
Have you heard of this line?

I am wanting Cuir Ottoman (jasmine, iris,resins,leather, benzoin,balsams, incense)

Equistrius (orris, violet, rice powder,chocolate, ambrette,sandalwood, vetiver,grey amber)

and Osmanthus Interdite (green tea, osmanthus,citrus, rose, jasmine,musk and  leather )

Yumyumyumyumyumyumyum. Don't these sound delicious , just the notes alone?

And they all cost me my soul but.....who needs one?

I'm tellin’ yah dearie, I'm about ready to fold,

I am leaning over the edge and toying with idea of jumpin' headlong into my fragrance lust with a smile on my face..

But what of my beloved Tauers??

I'm so unfaithful when it comes to any perfume, Sarah.

What shall I do? I can still save again till Oct. I suppose.

I can just give it up, I have more FB than I really need.

  (we all do, that's not the point!)


I am in need of serious counsel my dear.

And yes I've tried them and gimmegimmegimme :P

Oh this is all just my fumeland life, I have another one entirely and THAT is good.

I guess I have to have some kind of problem around here.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

little stars, Olympic Orchids.

Little Stars is another gorgeous orchid scent from this enormously talented perfumer, brand new450px-Brassavola_nodosa_Orchi_010 on the scene. Ellen mentions on her blog that the orchid on which she bases this fragrance is night-blooming—that always a descriptor that intrigues us sensually minded perfume-folk. This one is a heavy, well-made dark spicy citrus floral, with a clove,citrus, and deep woods composition evocative of the most humid, tropical nights. The perfumer's notes suggest this is meant to evoke the nighttime in a steamy jungle, and I can see that. I love the spicy green woodiness of this one—it truly does smell ultra-tropical, and also almost holographically orchid-like. Very impressive composition indeed, with a really natural sense of balance and proportion.

The synthetic oud and tea notes blend in seamlessly, opening up the scent experience alongside a delicious sour citrus--the whole top part of the perfume’s composition tends towards a certain soapy tanginess that I think is definitely unisex.

The middle notes are dominated by a spicy nutmeg-clove accord (I am starting to associate nutmeg with Olympic Orchids perfumes, since it appears as a note in so many of Ellen Covey’s creations)

This dries down to a nice woodyFile:Indischer Maler um 1615 (II) 001.jpg spicy fragrance skewed masculine that is full, moist, spicy and mysterious. The wood base is damp and sexy—sandalwood and synthetic oud.

the bottom line: you’d be hard-pressed not to like this one—something for everyone here

doc elly writes about the creation of Little Stars in her own words here


Radha at night. Mughal painting ca. 1650. from The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

image of Brassavola nodosa from Exhibition: 15. European Orchid Congress - Dresden 2009-09

portait of a prince: from The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.

Monday, August 16, 2010

the exoticism and humanity of smell

Looking at these images of people from many different historical periods interacting with scent makes me think about the ways in which thinking about people of the past smelling things makes their lives seem somehow more real, but at the same time, it makes them seem more exotic. 

 Wall Painting of Perfume Production in Ancient Egypt

For example if we were to smell the contents of that Egyptian pot, I’m sure we would feel at home, comforted by the recognizable smells of frankincense, lotus, or rose.  But also, the figures’ attitudes, their ritualistic poses, their very alien appearance, makes the content of that pot seem somehow untouchable, distant.

A few Centuries Later….

File:Brooklyn Museum - The Ointment of the Magdalene (Le parfum de Madeleine) - James Tissot.jpg

we can imagine how that swag of citrus and laurel behind this religious tableau smells. We can even imagine the sweet musty smell of Mary Magdalene’s perfumed hair interacting with Jesus’ dirty, sweaty feet.  but we are also distanced by the exotic foreignness of the characters’ gestures, by the knowledge of this as a foundational myth, an untouchable—in many ways- story.

Meanwhile, back in Rome…..

File:Godward-At the Garden Shrine, Pompeii.jpg

This Roman lady at her toilet is in ways repeating a time-honored gesture that most of us echo every day—she puts on a dab of scent. But the amphora, the cold stone table, the tiger skin, the nobility of her robes, and the fetishism of Roman culture exhibited in this painting make her seem somehow remote, an object of admiration, but not identification….

A Few Centuries Later….

File:John William Waterhouse - The Shrine.JPG

This romantic ‘medieval’ maiden smells a rose, taking a moment out of a busy[?] day to enjoy nature’s blessings. We know the stereotypes…is she thinking of her love away at war? Is she dreaming of a lover? is she thinking of the Virgin Mary? Who knows. We are voyeurs, projecting our fragrant fantasies onto her. She is a caricature, a flat, eroticized image. We imagine: “we have all smelled roses. We are all the same.” But roses have changed, Western culture has changed; this fictional maiden is ultimately unknowable.

A little Over a Century ago…..

 File:Privat-Livemont Boldoot.jpg

The Art Nouveau period is one we decadent, baroque, early turn-of-the-21st-century residents can understand, to a certain point. We understand the existential choice to give way completely to pleasure in the face of an increasingly mechanized world. Yet this sniffer is impossible. Stylized beyond understanding, she somehow embodies the idea of the rose, and specifically of the fin de siecle blowsy rose, overblown, decadent, dripping with redundant art.

Food for thought, anyway….

does thinking of people smelling things in the past, thinking of old perfumes and the people who wore it, make you feel closer to the past or more remote from it? Comments, anyone?


James Joseph Jacques Tissot, The Ointment of the Magdalene Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum; Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 2007, 00.159.214_PS2.jpg

John William Godward At the Garden Shrine, Pompeii, courtesy of

John William Waterhouse , ''' The Shrine'''

J.C. Boldoot, Eau de Cologne Parfumerie, Amsterdam, Geheugen van Nederland by Henri Privat-Livemont

Sunday, August 15, 2010

perfume riddle IX


Greetings once again, and it’s time for another perfume riddle. The gods have decreed it. Prepare yourselves, and make way for yon riddling perfume bottle, come from on high to challenge your wits. Which heroic reader will throw down the gauntlet and guess, at her peril?

what I am I will not tell,

for if you do not know me well,

you cannot guess, and that is good

for I’m obscure. I’m partly food,

brilliant, luscious and so sweet,

the red topping on an ice cream treat.

Then tobacco, smokey, round,

and almond, bitter and profound.

My name is made of classical references,

Latin, Greek, whatever your preference is.

I struggle and emerge victorious,

Name my name; I am notorious.


Since I am away on vacation, I cannot tell you if you’re right, so I embedded the house name in the labels below

CREDITS: Darius’s sphynx, currently in the Louvre. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

drying hair and drying laundry, frost too

John Sloan by artinconnu.

I have been thinking about the fact that for most people, drying hair and clothing is one of the most intimate fragrance experiences they have in any given week. Looking at this painting by John Sloan, I can almost imagine all the different smells—the soapy clean musk of the laundry, the animalic smell of human hair, the perfume from the shampoo, the smell of sweat, the hot asphalt, the myriad city smells of exhaust, heat, sewer, food, etc.

The act of drying one’s hair is such a special, human thing, such an affirmation of femininity… Consider the beautiful image of women throwing their hair up to dry it in Robert Frost’s “Birches”:

When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
IMG_5822But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-coloured
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break;
though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground,
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.

But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm,
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree~
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.


John Sloan, “Sunday, Women Drying Their Hair”, 1912, uploaded by artinconnu

Frost poem courtesy of

birch tree pic mine.

Friday, August 13, 2010

TOTD: Tamara on comfort scents

File:Fred Barnard11.jpgAll the samples I ever buy are usually 1.5 ml to 2.5 ml. All because I need to be able to spray them to get a real sense of what it is, that I simply cannot get from merely dabbing. It's a divine but horribly expensive habit! Especially if I end up not liking them. (sigh............)

But can I tell you about what I LOVE (yes I'm shouting in caps) I fell in desperate love with two comfort beauties this weekend, Sarah. And really I blame this wretched weather we've been having. Because all I want is for summer to kiss my face and warm my skin, but I'm inside sniffing and bemoaning the rain. And in the beginning of my perfumista journey I never liked "sweet" or comforting smells.

But as it happened almost 7 yrs. ago I had my youngest daughter Olivia and lo and behold I could handle them--I craved them. She made me sweet. Aww. Ha! And that's saying something, having four daughters!

I need strength in my scents but also, as it turns out, comfort.


Anyways it's Alahine by Teo Cabanel and Opal by Sonama Scent Studio. Alahine is a gorgeous oriental amber that whirls and twirls all the way to the end of our time together and  that speaks to me and whispers "Full bottle worthy Tamara? Do you want me to be yours?" and I say "You will be mine." It's that beautiful. But a total winter scent I think. And I can't get it any time soon so my decant will have to do for now.

The other desire in this bizarre love triangle is a soft powdery lil' skin scent of a thing but Opal is perfect in its smallness and lasts like crazy.

It's simple musk and sweet  vanilla without being foody with a yummy sandalwood  and I want it even more because Laurie isn't making it these days for she is reformulating it! Gasp! Sarah what if she tweaks it so much it's changed? I'll be heartbroken. My comfort powder (power) is in the decant I hold and I hope the full bottle can come home to me soon.

CREDITS: one of my favorite Sargent paintings, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose" (Fred Barnard's daughters Polly aged 7, and Dolly aged 11), Oil on canvas, 68 1/2 x 60 1/2 inches (174x154cm), Tate Gallery, London.  Courtesy of

Thursday, August 12, 2010

wing and a prayer Bella review

Georges de Feure (French, 1868-1943), "Elegante pres d'une Source" by sofi01.

Bella indeed! I have received a bunch of samples from A Wing and a Prayer natural perfumes, and I was stuck by the simple beauty of this lovely herbal/citrus/floral.

Verbena dominates—I get that sharp twinge of freshness you get when you brush or rub the leaves of the lemon verbena plant, married to a bright citrus topnote. Later on, Bella becomes less herbaceous and more floral, rounding out and opening up to a delicate rose-verbena fragrance that smells very fresh and true to life. I actually feel as if I were in a garden when I wear this.

I also have to say, I have NEVER seen packaging as beautiful as this. I took pics and I want you all to see how much care and love these perfumers put into their work.

Every element of the multi-part package was carefully, lovingly, and beautifully wrapped, and it came complete with ribbon and lovely, expensive note, hand-written, of course, because this niche company does things in style……


The main event, Tallulah B, was wrapped in an adorable little gauze bag, blue tissue paper, and ornamented with a little silver hummingbird….



CREDITS: Georges de Feure, "Elegante pres d'une Source," originally uploaded by sofi01.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

a gallery of resins

I don’t know about you guys, but I sometimes get confused about the differences between all the different resins out there used in pefumery. So I compiled a gallery, so I could remember a little better….


Somali man collecting myrrh.

from “Beautiful Somalia”, by the Somalia Ministry of Information and National Guidance.


found in Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia

100g of Myrrh resin from the Dhofar region of Oman, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


File:Oman Dhofar Frankincense.jpg

Frankincense trees

taken by Eckhard Pecher

File:Bag of frankincense at Dubai spice souk.jpg

Found in Oman, Yemen, and Somalia,

Bag of frankincense at Dubai spice souk, taken by Liz Lawley.


File:Cistus ladanifer f.JPG

rockrose, or Cistus ladanifer, courtesy Wikimedia Commons


found in the Mediterranean, generally.

image from incense wiki, uploaded by en:User:Sjschen,



tolu is found in Central and South AMerica.

from Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen.


Wood resin, source of amber.

Photo taken by Emmanuel Boutet


amber, found all over





Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

TOTD: Tamara on monogamy

File:Frédéric Soulacroix - La Demande En Mariage.jpg

“I do have an amazing relationship with fragrance but it ain't monogamous; I cruise from here to there and get my thrills while I can, encounter a couple losers that don't satisfy my insatiable lust or calm my wandering heart, but all the while I'm searching for FB worthy love.

It's the best…”

“La Demande En Mariage” by Frédéric Soulacroix courtesy of

Monday, August 9, 2010

gallery of beasties

For your viewing pleasure--or displeasure, as the case may be-- a gallery of beasties traditionally used to produce perfume

File:Lydekker - African Civet.JPG

civet cat, for civet.

from Lloyd's Natural History: "A hand-book to the Carnivora. Part 1, Cats, civets, and mungoose", uploaded to Wiki Commons [1] by Richard Lydekker

File:Sperm whale and Bottlenose whale.JPG

Sperm Whale, for ambergris.

Sperm whale and Bottlenose whale by Archibald Thorburn

File:William Daniell - Musk Deer, And Birds Of Paradise.jpg

Musk deer (and other musk-producers) for musk.

William Daniell, “Musk Deer, And Birds Of Paradise”, courtesy of

File:Audubon-castor 1854.jpg

Beaver, for castor.

“North American Beaver (Castor canadensis)”, Painting by John James Audubon, 1854, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Perfume riddle VIII


Happy Sunday all, and happy riddle day! Here, just flown in, an enigmatic flacon of perfume awaits your sharp brains and swift typing fingers…Who will be the first to guess which bottle wraps her real name in a veil of mystery? I’m on a fairy tale kick right now, so bear with me!

A merry young maid lived in a dark wood,

(with a hey and a ho and a hey nonny no…)

She lived with dwarves; she made them food.

(with a higglety-piggelty pomme-kin)

She was so fair and bright and good,

(With a ….etc.)

she never suffered a petulant mood.

(with a higglety-pigglety etc….)

Only one weakness had she; ‘twas that

she loved to eat sweet fruit low in fat.

A pear and a cherry, an apricot too;

blackcurrants, redcurrants, blueberries blue.

These she loved even more than her life,

and these were her downfall--caused the strife

that rent their little woodland home,

for when this maid was all alone--

the dwarves in the mines--  an old woman came.

She called her sweetly by her name

And held a basket in her hand

filled with the best apples in the land

Apples of yellow and red and green,

the maid trusted the cruel enchantress so mean

and bit through the skin to a miasma so noisome,

she dropped as if dead—she’d eaten me: ___________!

(as I’m away and cannot comment to let you know, I imbedded the maker of this perfume in the labels below…)

drawing: Fernand Khnopff: “Die Sanduhr” Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Going away on holiday!

File:Jean-Léon Gérôme 010.jpgHI all,

Today my husband and I leave for a two and a half week trip to Andalusia and Morocco! We will explore the land, go shopping (for perfume!!!!!!!!!!! and other things too, I guess) and relax before returning to the real world. I look forward to a break from teaching, and I am certain my chronically stressed and overworked husband will be thrilled to avoid thinking about all things financial and work-related for a week.

As far as Hortus Conclusus is concerned, I have lined up several posts for your perusal—especially through the first week or so. I will not be around to respond to your comments (or visit your own wonderful blogs) until the very end of August, so please forgive what may appear to be a stony silence on my part. I look forward to reconnecting and seeing what you all had to say when I get back, though.

I wish you all a wonderful month of August, filled with art, delight, beauty, family, friends, and scent!

Nos Vemos Pronto…..

Con Cariño,

Bonne Vivante.

p.s. I’ll be bringing back some presents for you as well………


Jean-Léon Gérôme 'Un Muezzin Appelant du Haut du Minaret les Fidèles à la Prière,' courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tauer Carillon pour un Ange review

File:LA Cathedral Mausoleum Annunciation detail 1.jpgElena of Perfume Shrine recently sent me a IMG_5910bottle of Andy Tauer’s latest creation, Carillon pour un ange! Of course, thrilled and so eager to smell the new lily of the valley composition—which is bound to be delightfully challenging and unique coming from Tauer--I tore open the dainty box and sprayed it on my waiting wrists!

Lo and behold, an angel of the Lord came down and  glory shone around…..well, noooo, but I did gasp in surprise and wonder at the brilliance of this new fragrance.

It is golden green—I can’t think of another way to deIMG_5913scribe it but in color. That famous bitter, almost oily, Tauer  citrus peel, an intense grassy  green, and a lush, wet, overwhelming Lily-of-the-valley. This is damp gorgeousness, and not an everyday perfume—it is too decadent for that.

I find myself thiIMG_5918nking about gold filigree, baroque symphonies, in a lush contrapuntal swell of color, sound and memory. Breathtaking.



Stained glass windows in the Mausoleum of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, Los Angeles. From the workshop of Franz Borgias Mayer (1848–1926)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

dyptique’s dangerous sleeping beauty

File:Henry Meynell Rheam - Sleeping Beauty.jpgin the darker, more atavistic versions of Sleeping Beauty, the dormant castle is surrounded by an impenetrable wall of rose briars, with gigantic thorns that impale the hapless princes who try to push through to the interior in which the lovely princess lies in her enchanted coma.

The princes’ bodies hang on that monstrous rose hedge, decomposing until they are naught but skeletons. This image haunted me when I was young, as it still does now, being one of the most disturbing of a a whole series of folktales which emphasize not only the rose’s beauty, but also its danger—for below the smooth silk-plush blossoms, like spikes and thorns, jagged leaves, and pain. This is one of the reasons I believe the rose makes such a perfect symbol for love—a thing of great beauty as well as undeniable pain. File:Labelle4.jpg

Dyptique’s l’ombre dans l’eau captures this dark green danger of the rose, I believe. It is not as menacing as a wall of gigantic malignant thorns, but it does explore the stems and leaves and vegetation lurking around the rosebud as much as the flower itself-the shadows and dampnesses, not the brilliances and . The addition of craggy and sharp blackcurrant leaves pushes it even further into Grimm territory.

I find that it opens very green and damp, then becomes somewhat fruity, all the while supporting the blowsy weight of a wet, bright Damask rose—

Somehow the combination of that intense rose and the intense greenness of the foliage surrounding it makes me think of this fragrance as a living rose spliced on top of Vent Vert…..

I am loving this today.


Henry Maynell Rheam’s sleeping beauty courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

thorn image from

llustrationfrom Histoires ou Contes du Temps passé: Les Contes de ma Mère l'Oye(1697). Gustave Doré's illustrations for Charles Perrault's La Belle au Bois Dormant. Courtesy of


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Allegory of sight and smell

File:Bruegel d. Ä., Jan - Allegory of Sight and Smell - 1618.jpg
I think this painting speaks for itself….
what do you all think?
'''Allegory of Sight and Smell''' by Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568–1625), currently in the Prado.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

TOTD: Tamara huffs

450px-Trautenfels_-_Bemalter_Schrank_2a Excerpted from a private correspondence, in which the lady Tamara ridicules me for my snail’s-pace process of getting to know new fragrances:

Why the hell are you so slow!? I got some more samples today and immediately put on 5 different scents.

If it doesn't move me in the beginning , I kinda lose interest, on to the next! But sometimes it works out that I get intrigued and then pursue it further, like a slow start that can either lead to a B-lister movie or a full-on blockbuster. It depends. I just love to huff my arms and hands I guess.

Or my shirt, my hair. I'm odd.

Do you find yourself resisting that act as you go about your day?  I say go for it.

What about you all, dear readers? Do you slowly acquaint yourselves with new samples or try to smell as many as possible as quickly as possible, thrilled at the new sensory input?

Image from Trautenfels castle ( Styria ). Museum: Naive painting on a farmer´s wardrobe showing lover hurrying to his girl using the snail´s post.

Monday, August 2, 2010

a brief review of Annick Goutal Eau D’Hadrien

File:William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Girl Holding Lemons (1899).jpg

Hi all! I am working on the second installment of my medieval perfume story, trying to finish a draft of a dissertation chapter by Friday, teaching 3 hours a day, grading papers and finals for the super-intensive medical history class I have been TA-ing for the past three weeks, and frantically preparing for our upcoming anniversary voyage to Morocco and Spain (starting Saturday) so today’s post will be regrettably short. Luckily, you are all probably familiar with the lovely Eau d’Hadrien, so I needn’t go into great detail, only present my impressions of it.

It really is lovely is Eau d’Hadrien; its nose-tingling lemon zest—yes, a little like a lemon drop—reminds me of my trips to see concerts with my mother. She’d always buy me lemon drops at the orchestra hall,  although she was fundamentally opposed to ‘store-bought’ sweets. That was the only time I was allowed to ‘buy candy’, and so the flavor of those lemon drops always reminds me of our happy and frequent visits to the symphony.  I love the sharp acidity of the cypress, lending the fragrance a charming mustiness around the edges. Liquid Mediterranean sunlight. I only wish it lasted longer! Such fresh happiness!

I detect just the tiniest, most delicate lacing of green herbs around the edges. Nothing to push it into the green category (this is still super yellow) but adds just a little interest.

Hope you all are well.

Busily yours,



William-Adolphe Bouguereau, “Girl Holding Lemons” (1899), courtesy Wikimedia Commons


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