Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Chanel Cuir de Russie

What a revolutionary perfume Cuir de Russie must have been in its day! It is so masculine, so gender-bending, that I imagine it even would make a huge splash today--and ruffle some feathers. This is classy, classy, classy woman-as-man scent, and it has a certain theatricality to it, a sort of "I'm pushing the limits" cigarry, almost urinous, edginess, but then the florals swoop in, and it says, 'I'm only kidding; I'm just a woman, after all.' Like all classic Chanels, for better (Bois des Iles) or worse (No. 5), this is a super complex thing; it tells a very upper-class story. I imagine one of those virago femme fatales that populate Wodehouse novels wearing this; brassy, horsey, masculine, yet deeply feminine, with hidden urges towards female role-playing that need only the right situation to bring them out. A tour de force, truly, something that both sweeps one's imagination into the past and fits in perfectly into our own postmodern world.

my love for samsara

I am deeply in love with Samsara. I have decided, upon reflection, to like the name, even, since the deeply seductive nature of this perfume would certainly derail anybody on the path to enlightenment. (see the great article on Samsara’s name and history here at Perfume Shrine) I have yet to try the newer formulations, but in my opinion, the treatment of sandalwood here is exceptional--as good as, dare I say it, Chanel's Bois des Iles. I don't care if some find it an inferior Guerlain. They are just letting crap ad copy get in their way, I believe.


On my dry skin, the sandalwood lasts and lasts, and the jasmine functions as a sort of shimmering infusion. In the EDT, the opening is slightly unpleasant--green, hyperfloral, and slightly cloying, but wait ten minutes, and you'll find yourself on a boat to a dreamspace full of warm sheets, aromatic woods, and beautiful dark-eyed women. This is actually a skin scent on me; you have to get close to me to detect it, and it really enhances the sort of creamy nutty qualities of my skin, I think. It also layers exceptionally well.

Guerlain Tokyo

I ordered a sample of one of Guerlain's new Voyages Olfactifs, Tokyo, and I must say I am a little disappointed with the resulting green fragrance. It seems awfully one-dimensional for this house, and lacks much excitement. It seems pretty linear, and, dare I say it, rather generic. Tea notes plus cedar plus violet plus orange blossom= meh for me. If this were in the more reasonable price range, I might appreciate it more. Like, Vera Wang should be producing this for the boring mass market. Not Guerlain. This is simply not up to snuff, and I find it tragic that the great perfume house known for baroque elegance is trying to enter the uninspiring modern perfume market in such a way. This is sellout thinking, and I don't like to see it in Guerlain. People should come to this house once their noses have been educated and they are ready for a real fragrance--or they should use Guerlain to educate themselves. Guerlain should not come to them. Grr! Plus, why those trashy bottles? Oh dear, what is this world coming to?



Borsari Violetta di Parma

This is a gorgeous violet; it immediately conjures the most delicate mindspaces--Italian forest floors in spring, when the little violets peep out from the leaf mold, delicate mountain streams you come upon just knowing that you surprised a bathing nymph,

since a delicate, haunting odor pervades the air. A tin of violet pastilles, floral, musky, and with that core of violet/anise. E.M. Forster's A Room With a View. Diana in a diaphanous linen gown, arrows and bow at her side. The color violet. Sweet breath.

It smells old-fashioned, yes. And that is wonderful. It is nostalgic for a time of delicate love letters, prolonged courtship, and refined table manners. A time when spring really meant the airing out of one's house and one's life, walks in the countryside, and the delicate surprise of a perfect, scented little flower.

 

 

Candied Violets: Tasting the fragrance of Spring

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