Monday, October 12, 2015

Bogue Maai


Maai smells expensive and like something produced before allergen regulations. How the oakmoss and civet smell (are?) so real and are used in such quantities, I do not know. The problem to me is that it smells like an imitation of old fragrances rather than a new one. Perhaps I am too susceptible to marketing, image, and stories attached to perfume but wearing this is not nearly as pleasing as wearing actual La Nuit, Montana, Kouros or what have you. It feels incomplete. It has no history. ELDO Rien is a similar old-style opulent chypre but it is its own entity, and its cast of rubber and tar over aldehydic floral make it feel modern rather than a dogmatic imitation of the past. My first thought on smelling Maai was not that it was incredible, but that it smelled uncannily like Marilyn Miglin Pheromone or Charlie. Actually, my first thought was "Aviance Night Musk!" I have never smelled Aviance Night Musk, but Maai smelled like my mental image of Aviance Night Musk, if that makes any sense, something from 1980 that would've been advertised with an image of Dressed to Kill pantyhose legs in heels. It almost has a feminine bowling alley dowdiness to it. It feels bizarre to pay $300 for Marilyn Miglin Pheromone. In ten years if they still make this and all the real chypres are gone, we'll see how I feel. On another note, the perfumer himself, Antonio Gardoni, is very nice to look at. Perhaps if I smelled Maai emanating from his chest hair it would not make me think of Sally Struthers in Five Easy Pieces so much.

Throwback interviews

Here's an old interview I did with Brian Pera from I Smell Therefore I Am. My Working Girl obsession has recently resurfaced.

Here also is a blog he wrote around that time about my various perfume-related Facebook statuses and witticisms.

Where has the time gone? Now I'm busy rebuying all of the perfumes I used to have, reclaiming my past. Several years ago I enacted a big purge of the alleged "old lady" scents and streamlined my collection in a bid for maturity. One of the primary delights of capitalism is endlessly repurchasing what one has bought and gotten rid of many times before. My wallet may be empty but my heart is full, once again having an exhaustive library of scents. It's been long enough that each perfume I've been apart from for several years is redolent of old memories and simpler times.

Estee Lauder Knowing


Knowing is one of the few fragrances I wear where straight men stop and ask what wonderful "cologne" I'm wearing. It is highly unusual for heterosexual men to stop a 6'4" male stranger and tell him he smells good, so it must really pique their curiosity. The current formula is more streamlined, bitter, and dry than before--fine with me--which causes it to edge more toward Bandit and perhaps more suitable for masculine wear. It's an intelligent scent that conveys a degree of sexiness while remaining nicely aloof. Additionally, it's one of the few remaining real French (though parodoxically American in origin) chypres still on department store shelves. Like Aromatics, it seems to have a devoted cult following and still sells well, as evidenced by the fact that Lauder didn't relegate it to the "House of Lauder" collection recently as it did all its other older scents. The original ad with Paulina Porizkova, arms crossed in a tuxedo, is one of my favorites. The fact that it's a ripoff of the Deneuve No. 5 ads from the 70s doesn't detract one bit. There aren't smart ads for smart perfumes for smart women in tuxedos anymore.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Perfume of Contempt: Dior Poison


Poison is a proto-Lutensian medicinal purple tuberose apothecary syrup, at once radiantly whorey and ascetically anti-food anti-joy anti-sex antisocial. I have come to prefer the current EDT to the old Esprit de Parfum because it is drier and gets to the resinous-sticky incense musk drydown a little faster. For me, sometimes nothing but Poison will do when I am feeling prickly, edgy, unapproachable. I am young enough not to have formed downmarket associations with Poison because of its popularity in the 80s, so it is more austere, medieval, cruel and anticipatory of Serge Lutens to me than it is shoulder pads and Dynasty. Some facet of the tuberose smells strongly of blood at the opening. A disturbing favorite.

Perfume of Contempt: Gucci Rush

Of course I love this. It's an 80s powerhouse throwback named after poppers that smells like poppers. Electric youth indeed!

Old man on bus, with tone that is not necessarily complimentary: "Excuse me. Whatever that is you have on..."

Me: "Oh, thank you! It's Gucci Rush."

Old man on bus, shaking head: "Whatever that is you have on..."


May it always be in production-- this is all Gucci still have going for them on the perfume end. Tom Ford's perfumes were so interesting before he started his pretentious eponymous line.

If you wear Rush, make sure to wear a lot. This is a statement scent that is meant to be big and opaque. Transmogrify into an electric red rectangle; the instructions are there in the bottle design. I am dismayed when I smell a stale little whisper of Rush, a stale little whisper of Alien, a stale little whisper of Angel, a stale little whisper of Coco Mlle, on women. Oh, what it will take to undo the damage that modern American beauty magazine editorials on the alleged proper way to wear fragrance have wrought--spray and walk through, one spray, others must only be able to smell you when they lean in close, all that prim 50s etiquette guide bullshit. Above all, don't listen to Goody Onespritz when she admonishes you that it is better to risk underapplying than to be "perfume lady" or "cologne guy."

"A woman who wears too little fragrance instead of too much has no future" -me

Jean Patou Colony

I bought some some of this years ago and didn't hold on to it long, though it did come packaged with a lovely silk scarf. It was a light old-style feminine leather (is "Patouaide" a thing?) overlaid with a metallic canned pineapple note-- nothing earth-shattering but historically interesting and perfect for 30s French ladies en vacances. The un-PC French colonial concept is delightful; very Marlene Dietrich "Hot Voodoo" or Josephine Baker banana dance. Colony serves in a pinch as a more affordable alternative to my sadly discontinued signature scent, Vigny Le Golliwogg.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit


As a lover of animalic rose chypres, I had high hopes for this; I was already fantasizing about it becoming my mysterious and elegant signature scent, how I would pretend it was Nombre Noir. While it is beautiful, it is simply too quiet to be worth its $300 price tag. Perhaps if I could purchase it in Paris where Lutens bell jars are about $150 I would spring for it, but the import cost is obscene.
The reputed strangeness of Rose de Nuit is dependent on the wearer never having smelled an 80s rose chypre. If you are familiar with Montana, Coriandre, La Perla, La Nuit, Magie Noire, Paloma Picasso, Aromatics Elixir, Knowing, Aramis 900, even Agent Provocateur, Rose de Nuit will seem like a disappointingly quiet and short-lived version of those with an admittedly gorgeous silky texture and top-notch raw materials. If you are not, it will probably blow your mind as rose chypre accords did when I first smelled them. It is an exotic odor often termed "old lady" but framed with cool Lutens opulence and exclusivity that make it palatable and mysterious. It's like how someone who has never seen a truly out-there inscrutable art movie (Andrei Rublev, Persona, Melancholie der Engel) would have their minds blown by, say, It Follows. Rose chypres are shocking to modern noses because millennials, having grown up with no fragrance except the occasional calone or Iso E, simply can't comprehend someone choosing to smell like that.

Still, if I make my way to Paris, I may buy a bottle. The prospect of dumping it on copiously from a bell jar is appealing.