Lonestar Memories: Colombina on Perfumesmellingthings. (...)Lonestar Memories makes me want to escape the mundane confines of my everyday world(...)

Lonestar Memories: Katie on Scentzilla. (...) Lonestar Memories smells of the examined life. Inside there is joy, and there is tiny heartbreak, e xisting only in reverie. The scent unravels into the consideration of past experiences, and pinings for future joys and heartbreaks(...)

Lonestar Memories: Marlen Harrison's review on PerfumeCritic.com (...) If you're a lover of leather or richer wood fragrances, this is gonna be a holy grail scent and in that case, better get two bottles.(...)

Lonestar Memories: Cait Shortell's review on Legerdenez. (...) Do you appreciate scent because you identify with the scent and its image? Does a scent have the ability to create a memory outside one’s own experience?(...)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Stars from the past

This post is going to be somewhat lengthy… my apologies. Tomorrow will see none or shorter posts.

Although I only spent some 48 hours in Paris, I could write about it for hours. I guess I haven’t mentioned Le Salon de l’agriculture international in detail, yet. Coming from the land of tunnels, cows grassing in the mountains above and cheese rolling down the hills, I was amazed about the diversity of France’s agricultural products and couldn’t resist buying my 60 year old Cognac from a small, very small producer not known in the world. This Cognac has aged for 50 year in an oak barrel and is like a perfume. A revelation! I have seen lots of rabbit breeds there, too. The “geant de Flandre” being the biggest, some 8 kg of rabbit with long, straight ears and a lovely round face. (I love rabbits!) and cows entirely degenerated to steak on four legs…

But let us come back to the Guerlain visit…..

I have seen Vega, a brilliant star from the past (1936), reborn and shining again. I couldn’t resist buying the simple, lab glass like flacon with its art deco label. I sniffed it first by placing my head in a compartment in the wall, where they would spray a little bit of it from the back, allowing smelling the entire composition… in theory. In practice, I prefer to smell it on paper strip, where it is just wonderful. A fresh start, very spicy and slightly terpene dominated (Rosmarin?) with a lovely citrus freshness, I guess Bergamot with others. It is warm and fresh, spicy and round, which I find intriguing, and very hard to reach indeed. The eau de toilette moves then over to the powdery aspects of ylang, somewhat fruity and of excellent quality, a touch Vanille is reaching out from the back already and the heart is opening with flours that are somewhat fruity, still a little bit spicy and wonderful: I smell orange flower and rose, abstracted somehow, and artfully integrated, wonderful! Finally, the musky back, cistus with woods, oakmoss (I guess) comes in and intermingles with the fruity flowers that never are too sweet. It is a stylish, classical perfume of the past, but in my nose it still is modern, like the art deco style has a modernity to it that sometimes is striking. I haven’t applied it on my skin, yet, and I would guess that its lasting power is somewhat moderate, but who cares…. This perfume asks for an immediate replay. Go and get it!

Then there is the Cuir de Beluga, that I also bought, because I did not understand the scent in the shop but found it interesting enough to study further. Yesterday, while sniffing on Cuir de Beluga soaked paper strips, I wanted to write something harsh about it. Something like:

Cuir de Beluga is not thoroughly composed. It is pretending to be more than it is. Indeed, it is a scent that is artificially pumped up by a marketing team that has lost any track to Guerlain’s name and what made Guerlain the world’s most famous perfume house. It is a cheap soup, with a recipe like: Take x parts Vanillin, add x-2 parts Vetiver (Vetiverylacetat) mix it with a hint of something smoky, and round the edges with something nice like bergamot (0.5 parts) some other stuff you find around the corner for 10$ a kilogram and fill it into bottles that are not too expensive, because you will need all your money to pay an army of marketing staff to sell this vanilla soup. The entire composition cooks down at the end to vanilla and vetiver. A cuir de Cookie, slightly baked too long, with a touch cacao in it, and a few dried fruits.

But then, I gave it another chance before going to bed and applied on my skin. I was baffled for I smelled something very different. This perfume is definitively to be tested on skin. And I must admit, that I should have tested it on skin beforehand. There, it turned out to be smokier, indeed I found a new aspect, smoke and earth, that comes from Cypriol. A natural scent used by the tons in India, that I always found very hard to work with. I detected some tobacco notes, too, that interplay with an aerial citrus chord (mandarin?) which is nice. Then it cooks down to vanilla and a dry vetiver again, maybe with a touch of cistus, patchouli,…. Honestly, I am disappointed, but maybe I have just a somewhat biased expectation of a leather scent. I will give it another try and would like to close my Paris story here.


Blogger Tania said...

Andy, I love seeing your thoughts here on these scents. I have and love Vega, and it is exactly as you describe. And I have endured the aggressive promotional tactics of sales associates armed with bottles of Cuir Beluga, and I have felt shocked and insulted at being asked to pay so much for and admire a fragrance that is pretty nearly all vanilla with just a touch of something smoky/powdery to prevent it from smelling entirely like cake. Where is the leather? I'm still waiting to hear about yours, by the way. :)

8:05 AM  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Tania
I am glad that I am not alone in my Cuir de Beluga feeling. But I will give it another try, in spring maybe, see how it does on the skin in summer?
The Vega however is sooooo beautiful.
And mine... in a little bottle sits version 18.6. This formula will be it, but I haven't decided on the final dilution. I am right now figuring out what needs to be done when... there is so much to do and so little time. The next step will be to decide on bottles, order stuff and make a master, check it again, let it age, dilute it, let it age again and then....I think I can promise that within a couple of months it will be ready to be shipped. I hope mid summer at the latest. I (like you) can't wait to get it done.

8:27 AM  
Anonymous Prince Barry said...

Interesting reading Andy.

I must say that I have never had a chance to smell either Vega or the Cuir Belluga. I know that I suggested that you sniff the CB, but I was expecting it to be a beautiful leather scent. The name of it makes me think of fish eggs..LOL! As for Vega, the name always makes me smile owing to me being a fan of the video game 'Street Fighter' where one of the characters is actually called Vega. I will smell this scent some day.

What about your shirts???????

9:34 AM  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Barry
the parcel to you may, if you wish, contain a sample of Cuir de Beluga. Again, for very selfish reasons... I wonder very much what you think about it!
Shirts: OK, I have to admit it. I was rather unsuccessful. In Vienna I was lucky.. and got two Sands shirts. In paris, I ended up in Celio (which is nice) and bought one, blue, shirt, one pair of trousers and a couple of T-shirts that cover my fourty years' first signs of reduced calory burning....

10:41 AM  
Anonymous Prince Barry said...

Dear Andy,
Thank you! That would be great!

If you visit London, you must try the shirts from TM Lewin on Jermyn Street. Even my MD is always commenting on how nice they look on me.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Tania said...

Andy, thanks for the great news on the leather! Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to it. (My little sister has fallen in love with L'Air du Désert Marocain, by the way, and has made it her signature.) As for Guerlain's timid portrait of whale leather, you're awfully understanding to give it such a chance. My suspicion is that summer skin will not improve it much. I felt that the whole adventure with the trio (Angelique Noire, Cuir Beluga, and Rose Barbare) was a cynical marketing ploy, with the perfumers on a tight schedule and budget. None of the scents are repulsive, but they lack distinction. In contrast, I bought a bottle of Chamade parfum last week and it is so good that I almost felt like scolding the sales associates. "Smell Chamade and Vega, and then smell the Cuir Beluga and tell me how you can put them in the same room together!" Vega's balance of warm and fresh reminds me of the best of Joy and Chanel No 5, done in pale blues and with that wonderful Guerlain plushness to round it out. Its musky dénouement is like nothing in contemporary perfumery.

3:36 PM  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Tania
I fear the same: Summer will probably not add much to it. and yes: We are talking worlds apart (Vega and Cuir de Beluga).
Enjoy your day!

12:10 AM  
Blogger Anya said...

"Cuir de Cookie"! Thanks, Andy, I now need some brain bleach to try to remove that phrase, lol.

So glad you're now among the "must be tested on the skin" crowd, a mantra of natural perfumery (even if this is a trad scent.) All perfume critiques should be prefaced by whether or not the critic applied the perfume to real skin, fergoodnesssake. Scent strips do not work except for raw aromatics, vaporization in a still room, leaving, and reentering after a few minutes is also very good, but skin is the ultimate test.

So glad you found nagarmotha (what I call cypriol) in there. It is a favorite of mine. I have turned many a natural perfumer on to it, because they made the mistake of just sniffing a sample bottle. The CO2 smells like wet paper, the EO like vetiver, but dilute it out in some alcohol, and the most glorious earthy incense scent reveals itself. Now I have to get some of this leather cookie to see what's going on.

I don't mind deconstructed or unfinished perfumes, in art there is room for all, as long as the end consumer is educated and aware of the fact, otherwise, the perfumer is pulling a joke on them (JMHO ;-)

6:23 AM  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Anya
Then we have something more in common. I love Cypriol very much indeed, but dilution is key. It is not an easy scent to work with -in my opinion- but as many other tricky natural scents very much worth experimenting with it.
Have a nice sunny Floriday day... here it is snowing like mad.

6:31 AM  
Blogger katiedid said...

I honestly feel like the best of all perfumes are best smelled after application to the skin. There is such an intimate experience that happens with good ones that the final scent cannot possibly exactly replicated any where else. I think this is both the the charm and the pitfall to so many of Luten's scents - I find personally that to simply try them out on a paper strip or as a spritz in the air is equivalent to reading only half a book. It somehow leaves the story only partly and insubstantially told :)

8:57 PM  
Blogger katiedid said...

D'oh - before I forget, and speaking of your mysterious little leather - have you tried S-Perfume's S-ex yet? As a perfume I simply cannot fathom how anyone could wear it, but as a scent-experiment and a scent to experience it is deeply weird and yet simple at the same time. I think, if you have not smelled it already, that you especially would find it interesting.

9:00 PM  
Blogger andy said...

Dear Katie
Yes the skin... the real test for whether a perfume is well done or not. For me, however, an initial test on paper is also helpful. It helps to decipher some compositional details more clearly as the paper acts sometimes like a magnifying glass, bringing out compounds that otherwise are hidden. But then.. no way to judge a perfume solely on paper!

12:39 AM  
Blogger Qwendy said...

Here I am, joining the legion of those underwhelmed by the Guerlain trio -- what were they thinking? As the SA at Guerlain sprayed them on fans and waved them in front of me, I marveled at the idea, and made a mental note to get one and spary it with a favorite scent -- I forgot this until just now, please remind me when summer comes -- and then tried really hard to smell, and like the scents (barely) wafting my way. One, I think CB, I wanted to try on my skin, to no avail. I just chalked it up to my temeramental nose, so I'm glad to have such distinguished company, Tania and Andy, it doesn't get better than that!

9:09 AM  

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