jeudi 29 octobre 2009

Picking Perfume in the Morning When You Own 300

Sorry for not updating this week. I’ve been working overtime at my day job and spending nights and weekends preparing my London perfume intensive. I’ve also been in the mood to wear my darlings rather than test the new stuff – my top ten, but also The Different Company’s Jasmin de Nuit, which turns out to be a pretty good fit for fall, and Cartier’s L’Heure Mystérieuse, which is reconciling me with patchouli.

So before resuming my reviews, I’ll launch the following subject – regularly discussed on blogs and forums, but always worth having a go at:

How do you choose your perfume in the morning?

As for myself, I’d answer “mood” like most people, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. Of course, mood is part of the picture: so are weather, occupations for the day and new darlings.

Say, for instance, I’m going straight from work to a social event: I can’t go back home to shower and change, so the pick of the day will be the pick of the evening. That leaves out a lot of the headier stuff.

Say that in addition, there’ll be a man (or two) that I’m interested in at that event. I’ll want something that makes me feel seductive yet it can’t be too come-hither – scrap the big white florals, then.

Or say I know I’ll be seeing a man who’s interested, but I’m not sure I am (yet): again, my subliminal message (to myself as well as him) needs to be a little tamer than if I were going in for a kill.

But mostly, I think I choose my perfumes exactly like I pick the books I read: through association. Say I’m reading The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire; it’ll make me think of Rome, which might drive me to Yourcenar’s The Memoirs of Hadrien and from there on to Graves’ I Claudius.

Same goes for perfume: the smokiness in Cartier’s La Treizième Heure might steer me towards Chanel Sycomore, which might in turn lead me to spray on Hermès Vetiver Tonka, whose nuttiness might inspire me to pull out my sample of L’Artisan Méchant Loup.

The patchouli in Cartier’s L’Heure Mystérieuse will drive me to pull out Serge Lutens Bornéo 1834, then test out Parfums de Nicolaï’s new Patchouli pour Homme, whose lavender might incline me towards Jicky; but the rose-patch combo could make me want to re-try Francis K.’s Lumière Noire pour Femme; the dark rose in that one will make me think of Frédéric Malle Une Rose

It’s the perfume week as fugue.

Now tell me how you do it?

Image by Zoe Mendelson

63 commentaires:

  1. Dear LORD, denyse...
    Like minds.

    I'm trying not to spill my coffee; we are wired very similarly.

  2. I decide what perfume and outfit to wear while lying semi-awake in bed in between snoozes, visualizing the day ahead. I male all sorts of associations but mainly tend to pair fabric textures and/or colours with scent, so sometimes a scent will dictate an outfit or viceversa. Other times I'll be exploring a particular perfume line or want to follow up some thread from the previous day, but I will still go for clothes or accessories that complement my scent choice. And every morning I make a one line entry in my perfume diary with date and scent.

  3. I have been intending to write about this same subject , especially now that I have so many frags to love . And also because of the change of seasons .I look at all the bottles and think about the notes , the sillage , the longevity . I wear more than one scent a day , saving the long lasting ones for the afternoon , the short lived , gentler ones for morning .
    I also never leave the house without 8-12 decants...seriously !
    I have a make-up bag and a decant bag . And a large purse !
    Choice is what it's all about !

  4. Dear Ida, why does that not surprise me? We *are* sisters in many ways...

  5. Silvia, I can certainly get matching outfits to perfumes... I tend not to do it because I wear mostly black, but the other I matched purple suede boots with Bois de Violette!

  6. Carol, now that's really leaving options open, isn't it? I tend to wear the same scent all day unless I'm testing (another problem: applying two or more "test subjects" that won't clash horribly). So once I spritz, there's no going back!

  7. Isn't it funny how women and men think differently (a total generalization of course).

    With my eyes 1/2 shut in the morning - I grab the first thing I see. If I'm going to a special event, I grab the first thing I see. ;)

  8. Dane, is there a strategy in the visibility of the bottles (I mean the way you order them?).

  9. I just realized that every morning when I stand in front of my scent wardrobe and ponder what am I going to wear that day - in the end I let my unconsciousness choose for me what feels right. Or at least, I cannot recognize a pattern yet...

  10. Mine is a two phase approach mainly owing to the way I get dressed:
    1) I think it over as I wake up, but because I then cycle to work (often via bikram yoga) I will try a sample on one wrist, get dressed in my bright orange cycling outfit and leave the house with roughly six different samples, decants or bottles in my spongue bag.

    2) At work, I will then shower and dress and make up my mind entirely based on the impulse that a dark, basement changing-room inspires in me.

    There are more general themes- if I have bought a new bottle in the past week, I will usually wear it exclusively for a full week before deciding what to do with it- this gives me the space to explore it further and get to know where it fits in the panopoly of scents in my cupboard.

    It is usually only late at night with freinds that I hunt through my samples for something interesting that I tried weeks, months, years ago and want to show to them. Does anyone know of a sensible way to file samples?

  11. Context, context, context (weather, where I'm going, what I'm doing, how I'm dressed, who I'm seeing, what I need or desire, what happened yesterday, etc.). And intuition. And mood. And a few other things, probably.

    It's a pretty wordless process. I often find myself having a kind of smell hallucination. A craving for...what is that I'm imagining...ah yes, *that*.

    When I get too intellectual about it things tend to go wrong. Or I get confused and fussy.

    But of course, sometimes, just like everyone else, I get inspired/seduced/reminded by all the lovely descriptions and reminiscences out here in the blogosphere...

  12. Alexander: I'd be wary of impulses born in a dark basement room! ;-)
    I like your thoughtful approach to new acquisitions, and I envy your late evening sample testing with friends, sounds like fun.
    I order my samples by house, and lodge them in perspex jewellery drawers bought at Muji's, which can be piled up (I have a label printer for the drawers).
    Then I try to place those jewellery boxes by category: niche, vintage, mainstream.
    And then I get confused. It's a girl thing.

  13. Alyssa, I almost regretted not mentioning smell hallucinations. They're getting more and more frequent, but unless it's a single note I can't always pinpoint which fragrance it is -- I may be inventing one, who knows?
    Also, I think it may be a little bit like having a song that's playing in the back of your mind, which is usually linked to some subconscious train of thought.

  14. you are right this is a covered topic but your writing is always so good that it seems new- not sucking up but it's true!

    I choose partly based on mood but also I think on the persona I want to present that day. Also partly on the clothes I'm wearing- a vintage 50s look wouldn't work with an 80s vamp for me.

    I'm really sorry not to be coming on your course. I've used all my proper job leave- hopefully you'll do another one.

  15. Mmmm, yes, 'a song playing in the back of your mind,' very close to that--or the need for a particular song to fit with a mood or a desire. (My smell hallucinations often have to do with yearning of some kind, so that the mood and the smell are mixed together.) Sometimes nothing but _____ will do...

    The hallucinations are also, for me, like the craving for certain flavors (cuisines, or a particular dish) or just sensations: sour, bitter, creamy, cold, acid and so on.

    Or even, sometimes, the need to see a particular painting again, or a film.

    I do the fugue thing, too, though. And the performance thing, where the perfume is projecting a part of me (or a desired me) out into the world...

  16. If I'm going to work - in a hurry! ;-)
    I'm usually tight for time, so I tend to pick the most recently acquired, or an old favourite which is easily to hand. I have so much, and it's hidden in drawers, so changing things up requires time I don't tend to have.
    I was actually just thinking about all the wasted lovelies in my collection, that I never seem to remember when I'm in a hurry - and then I came here and read this!

  17. The choice-by-associations method sounds pretty complex. I mostly try to decipher the specific scent behind that day's scent-hunger, tho usually it's for something that doesn't exist or that I've never tried...

    Love yr current reading btw - I re-read the Memoirs of Hadrien and Claudius the God (sadly not as good as I, Claudius) in the last few weeks; maybe imperial Rome's just an autumnal (decline & fall;) thing.

  18. 300 perfumes that would drive me insane. At this point I'm trying to be as selective as I can and avoid things to escalate and turn into an addiction nightmare...well except for sex, ha!

    When I buy a new perfume, I get rid of another. I'm also very skeptical by nature, the buzz on Bond No.9 and By Kilian doesn't work with me, I have a knack for seeing through the crap. Right now I only spend top dollars for truly worthy perfumers like Serge Lutens and Mathilde Laurent from Cartier, I don't buy mainstream fragrances and I'm done with vintage classics too.
    These days I'm wearing perfume in the evening and at night, nothing during the day...the enigmatic and sensual La Treizieme Heure and the poetic Biche dans l'Absinthe.

  19. Rose, there'll be another course in March for sure -- the LCF wants to make it a regular feature.
    I find that when I dress in a more vintage style I tend *not* to match the scent with the era of the clothes. But then I usually mix the periods around as well as long as the proportions hold up. The only thing you almost have to match eras for is shoes because of volumes. But a 30s gown will usually end up with a Noughties scent.

  20. Alyssa, I get those cravings often (I mean for films, books, paintings). It goes with having a wide-ranging "library" of aesthetic experiences, I guess.

  21. Tania, believe me, the amount of stuff that's out of rotation is truly frightening in my house as well, which is why I try to have at least the outline of a system. Half of my refrigerator is filled with the most precious stuff, so you imagine that it's not what I grab in the morning.

  22. Parfymerad, "scent-hunger" is a great description... And, yes, maybe fall and the fall of the empire are related -- that's typical of the intuitive way of ploughing through a collection (be it books or fragrances).

  23. Uella, one of the reasons I'm hanging on to my collection (apart from the fact that I need it at hand as a writer) is that most of the scents have already been reformulated, so what's there is almost an archive: I can't bear to part with it. I've actually bought very few duds. And even the stuff I'm not wearing now I might crave later when it's no longer to be had (that's the way I "curate" my wardrobe too -- I'm a great closet shopper).

  24. My brain work like that too, both regarding which clothes to wear, scents to chose, and more.. (topics to talk about in conversations follow the same type of associative movement).
    In addition there is the time factor. Often the time between my waking up and the time I have to leave the house for work is very short (I could still have slept till lunch, if nobody disturbed me), then the time to make a choice can be to short to find the one the intuition tells is the right one. (I don´t have time to run to the bedroom to find the perfect one in the drawer..)
    Interesting that some chose scent, and then which clothes to wear. I always chose the scent after I´m fully dressed, but the clothes and my "persona" that day must "feel" like they fit.
    I also have developed some strange connections between contexts and scent, like I´m drawn towards wearing Mitsouko when I´m lecturing..
    I can understand the association between colors in scents, and on clothes. perhaps that explains why so many florals are difficult for me, I mainly wear black. Paris (the scent) & dark minimalistic clothes is an impossible combination

  25. Stella, I wear black *and*florals. I wear black with everything.
    I think the "persona" aspect is interesting to develop. Supposing you have a fairly constant sartorial style and only vary your invisible projection -- your aura, as it were?
    Anyway, your lectures are marvellously scented!

  26. It's usually simple. Weather, and outfit to choose the general scent classification, then I decide whether I want something new to my collection or an old favorite. But sometimes I'm just struck by a powerful craving! Love those days.

  27. Melissa, I wonder whether an outfit always calls for a particular type of scent, then? Examples?

  28. I often work alone and at home, so the decision is driven entirely by my unconcious mind on those days. Sometimes a bottle just seems to "speak" to me. Or I've been reading the blogs with my coffee and one of them will remind me of something.

    But on other days...(sigh) must always be conscious of the Perfume Police, especially in an office setting. If I'm doing anything like that (my consumer work is done in a small office with 5 or 6 other people in the room) then I tone it way down. Other decisions are driven by social events, classes, etc.

    Oh, and I put the warm-weather colognes and so forth away during winter and vice versa, as one does clothing. Such a pleasant surprise to swap it all out with the coming season! And I do tend to get overwhelmed with too many choices.

  29. Olfacta, thank God the Perfume Police hasn't set up a branch office in Paris but I agree it's best to tone it down when working in close quarters with other people.
    Now all I want to know is: what do those speaking bottles say?

  30. D., Marvelous post. For me it's all about the colors and textures I'm wearing. Burberry Prorsum brown wool herringbone pants, Etro gray/green paisley dress shirt, purple cashmere sweater I picked up in Como = vintage Derby and, now, Creed Royal Delight.

  31. Great post! And I loved the machinations of your mind when preparing to go out in the evening. Since this has been brought up before in other places, I've tried to notice what if any patterns my perfume choosing falls into (although thankfully my decision is NOT complicated by 300 bottles!). I am very much like Silvia in making the color/scent association, and both of those are based on mood.

  32. I go based on the smell hallucinations too - usually get them late in the evening or early in the morning, then I rummage in the closet until I find the perfume that corresponds to the hallucination.

  33. Christopher, you must be a sight to behold, and a deliciously smelling one at that! I can totally see/smell the association.

  34. Rappleyea, I'd love examples. Is it synesthetic, do you think?

  35. Tara, that smell hallucination thing is quite fascinating, isn't it? How does it happen? Just a flash, or something that has facets and development like wearing the actual scent?

  36. My love for pattern makes me want to see a design in my perfume choice, but I have yet to find one! All I know is that I never wear the same thing two days in a row. It seems variety is the engine that drives me when it comes to fragrance.

    That said, mood does seem to sum it up, as well as who I'll be seeing that day. I have several patchouli haters so I must be mindful. However, if I'm going to be "up to no good", I always wear either Kouros or Oud 27 ;) Both seem pornographic to me.

    March's post over at the Posse had me thinking a lot about wardrobe matching to fragrance, which has me totally rethinking what I wear based on my fragrances. All of those classic Guerlains seem to ask for a certain style and class...although wearing Black today makes me wonder why I'm not wearing this every day.

    To me, I suppose perfumes are a gateway, a threshold to cross leading into another world. A sensual launching pad where the body and spirit can meet. It just depends on what world I want to wrap myself in that day! Which leads me to ponder where such yearnings come from, which then leads me into contemplations of soul..and back in the labyrinth I go...

  37. Jared, perfume as wormhole, looking glass to cross, passage into a parallel universe... I couldn't agree more.
    Interesting that you should have a lot of patchouli-haters amongst the people you know: I mean people who can actually name a note they hate. Most don't ever progress to that stage (unless all your friends are perfumistas?).

  38. It starts out as whim, but perfumes lead to other perfumes. One choice can lead to days and days of related choices.

    So, wore Tea for Two, because it's autumn and because Luckyscent compares it to Sushi Imperiale and I had recently purchased Sushi Imperiale and I was worried that maybe I didn't like Tea for Two any more. (I do. Who could stop liking Tea for Two?)

    Then I wore Navegar because it's also a L'Artisan and its bottle looked sad and lonely because I'd just used its sibling and hadn't used it.

    Then I wore Sweet Lime & Cedar because it has cedar like Navegar does and I wasn't done wanting cedar.

    Then I was done with modern for a while and wanted classic, so I tried my sample of Vent Vert. (Modern formulation, sadly, but still a link with a classic.)

    Then I tried my sample of Ivoire because it's also a Balmain.

    Tomorrow I expect to wear Bandit because it's by the same perfumer that created Vent Vert.

    Day after tomorrow I'll probably wear Fracas because it's the same house and perfumer(?) as Bandit. Unless i follow the leather theme instead.

    The next day, if I wore Fracas, I'll probably wear Tubereuse Couture, to try another tuberose.

    Then I'll be back in the moderns and will probably wear Cadjmere, because it's the same house as Tubereuse Couture and because it's a new favorite.

    Then I'll probably wear my sample of Felanilla because it's in the same house as Cadjmere and I want to like it but haven't yet.

    Then I suspect I'll wheel around and make a random unrelated autumn choice like, maybe, Patchouli 24.

    And so on and so on and so on...

  39. Picking the perfume in the morning...hmmmm... There are so many (shall I call them "criteria"?!) which came into my mind thinking about it. Among them first comes the mood in that morning and second it's about perfume - shall I wear one of my darlings or it will be one from the new ones side to see who we get along during the day and then it's about weather and cloths.
    On weather sometimes I go in the opposite way from those rules saying in summertime light scents and cold weather goes with warm scents. I love to wear in the summer heat "hot fragrances" on my skin ,mainly flowers like tuberose , especially during the summer months when they are in blossom or scents reminding of summer during cold winter days.
    On cloths, not so much of scent and color since I'm wearing black a lot too ,but on the texture and scent

  40. That's interesting...I'm the only perfumisto, but they still are able to pick out patchouli if it's prominently utilized. I think they're mainly talking about straight patchouli oil, but sometimes if it's in a composition they'll pick it right out and ask me in sharp tones if I'm wearing patchouli. That happened to me wearing Black Aoud- my friend jumped right past that blast of aoud and rose and nosed straight for the patchouli. But, say, in Iris 39 it was acceptable. My other friends love it, so perhaps it's just too strong for some people. I'll congratulate them on their discerning noses, though!

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  42. because once open a perfume wears off relatively quickly (no matter how well sealed the bottle is, it's like wine, the air inside oxidises the fluid. they should make a vacuvin system for perfumes, now that is an idea...) i tend to have few at a time, then once a bottle is empty, set out to discover a new favourite.
    so i don't select my perfume like clothes, but rather for the time of day or week and season. for example, during weekdays in the Summer i wear "A la nuit" the jasmin soliflore from Lutens if it's very hot or "Jardin Blanc" from MPG for other Summer days, weekends all year round i wear Rose Ta'if from Pierre Montale (no one does a true rose soliflore better than he does) and evenings any season when i go out, Tubéreuse Criminelle (Lutens of course).
    i am looking for a new day perfume to wear this Winter but so far, i have tried many but there was no coup de coeur. i have tried hard to like Frédéric Malle's perfumes but it didn't happen. i will keep getting inspired from blogs like yours to find the right one...
    plus unrelated, i am looking for a violet soliflore, which i suspect will prove harder to find than a rose soliflore (and that took me two years). if anyone has any suggestions...

  43. Chickenfreak, that kind of sounds like my method! And, of course, I'm a lifelong Cellier fan, so I can only approve the Vent Vert Fracas Bandit sequence. I also swing between modern and classics...

  44. Jared, I guess we can all zero in on notes we hate, and patchouli *is* fairly easy to identify because of the oil. But if they ever start howling about your Karanal, they've been reading Luca secretly.

  45. Columbine, I find that most perfumes, if kept in their boxes and in a cool place, may oxidize (this isn't necessarily negative) but will stay put for several years. Not so for samples and decants, especially in sprays.
    As for a violet soliflore, I'm afraid it's not my favorite note when it's played for itself, but I've heard good things of L'Artisan's Verte Violette and the Parfums d'Histoire one is supposed to be pretty good.

  46. Alexp, I love to do tuberose and orientals in the summer as well!

  47. All of the above. It always starts out with me asking myself what I'd like, the way a waiter will ask for your drink order. Once I narrow the choice down to a specific liquor, I then decide on the drink based on all of the other details that will shape the day.

    This is fun, Denyse.

  48. Hey, Carter, how about an example? What's your poison, lady?

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  50. Well, wildly fluctuating hormones has a great deal to do with it, but by and large my process goes along the lines of: First, what do I feel like wearing? And if the answer is, for example, a rose scent, then I factor in the weather, what I'll be wearing, what I'll be doing, etc. Should it be a deeply glowing winter rose or a fresh flirtatious rose of spring? Ta'if or tea? With oud or with sap or with hay, or in a bouquet? I keep narrowing it down within the category until I find just the right rose to fit the parameters of my day.

    But I almost always start with desire, and then wend my way toward the specific scent by factoring in, well, you know, life.

  51. And then I have a Gibson, straight up, with extra onions.

  52. Carter, thanks for developing! Now another question that begs to be answered is whether (not necessarily in your case, but in general) we sometimes pick a scent as a *modifier* of our day rather than in adequation with it...

  53. Wonderful topic, D! I'm in and out of the house, so it's a rare day that I commit to one fragrance. But often these days there's a "main" fragrance. Maybe I'm toying with a couple of samples, but one will dominate for the day. There tend to be themes -- like musks. Or Lutens -- that last until I move on to something else. For evening, I can usually rustle up a decant or sample spritz of something sexy to wear out that I can take along in my purse when it's time for it.

  54. March, do you pick a decant for the evening that segues with the style/materials of the day scent?
    You know, Edmond Roudnitska used to be against even *reapplying* because the remaining base notes would stick to the new base materials and modify the effect...

  55. What a lovely post and comments!

    I find my choices are largely mood-based, as well as seasonal.

    There are perfumes I find very bolstering and reassuring: Keiko Mecheri's Loukhoum, for instance, is a real comfort scent for me. Others are comforting and sophisticated, or comforting and competent: Bois des Iles and Iris Poudre, respectively. I find a perfume with a dry, sharp aldehydic edge helps with concentration. If I have a man in mind...well, it depends on the man, or what I imagine of his tastes. Lately I've favoured Shalimar in parfum (after many years of DETESTING it) as the perfume for an evening of dinner and conversation. Attrape Coeur works well in this way too. And for pure pretty I wear Chanel 22.

  56. Mimi: now you're a woman who knows what's good for her! ;-) I've been contemplating pulling out Bois des Iles now that the weather's cooled off, and I'll be overjoyed to wear it again...

  57. Hey, Denyse -- for some reason my silly computer wouldn't let me log in last night!

    Far be it from me to contradict the wisdom of Edmond Roudnitska ;-P Often the things I would wear in the evening (Mitsouko, Poison, etc.) are "big" enough that they'd successfully smother whatever else I might have put on that morning. In our sultry summers I'd probably just bring an atomizer to spritz more of what I already had on. I tend to wear the same few scents as "going out" scents. I got to thinking about that and I don't think it's particularly odd -- I don't want surprises then, so I select which one seems right from a fairly short list. I want my evening fragrance to be familiar, it's not the time I'd be adventurous.

  58. March, I know what you mean: my evening perfumes also seem to revolve around more trusted selections. It's not a time when you want to strike a false note in your enjoyment. I tend to gravitate towards the tuberoses and gardenias(full-on seduction mode) or a couple of warmer scents like Féminité du Bois or Guet-Apens, especially when it's a morning-to-evening deal.

  59. I get a virtual whiff of a particular scent, not so much the development but just a snapshot. Then I have to go find the scent that matches that picture. Usually I have a specific perfume in mind, but sometimes I have to sniff a few to find the right one.

  60. Tara, now I'm waking up at night hallucinating the things... I think I may be good for some new friends bringing me a Helmut Lang style bondage-y white jacket! ;-)

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