and she was: Puredistance Black

ramones Schott jacket

It’s been over a year since I last sat down to write a perfume review; it seems like the more time passes, the swifter it goes. Weeks turn into months, months into years… and my raptures go unwritten.

At some point I (metaphorically) put down my keyboard to let others, better and more enthusiastic, tell the tales that so frequently inspire us to empty our wallets on un-sniffed scores of every vintage, no corner of the earth too far to search for that flawless bottle of pre-reformulation Vol de Nuit… but every so often, I feel I owe it to the fragrance to add my scribbling to the fray.

As a fragrance house, Puredistance is about as boutique/exclusive as it gets. Yes, there are more expensive perfumes out there; but not many. When Antonia (the green) was released, I swooned, and was graciously gifted with a crystal column for said swoon (here). While each fragrance in the line is a study in sophistication and elegance, Black is closest to my heart (and perhaps the state of my soul?). ;)

I know who created it, and when. And I can give a pretty accurate guess of what’s in it (read kafkaesque blog for a thorough what’s what)… but that’s kinda not the point. What you want to know is, what’s it like to wear Black?

It’s rich, woody, and warm; an amalgamation of all of my favorite things.  It’s rotary engines and fast foreign cars,  a custom Schott jacket. Candelabra, and smashing the crystal after downing the bourbon inside. It’s luxurious, yes– but not afraid to kick down doors. The ingredients are top-notch, nobody skimped anywhere. But it’s about as ‘special occasion’ as that perfectly fitted leather moto mentioned above; it clings to the wearer with abandon. A familiar spirit, a rockstar fragrance that would, if it could, wear Frye’s and not Choo’s; because with the right attitude you can go anywhere.

It’s the most sophisticated, yet utterly wearable fragrance I know. It’s absurdly expensive, so I ought to treasure my scant supply… instead, I keep it zipped in the pocket of my own leather jacket (which perpetually smells of Black), where it belongs. Most sensible people will protest spending $200 on 17mL for a fragrance that is so
wearable; a cursory review of Fragrantica’s entry for Black will confirm. True, it’s not that different from several very good woody amber’s… but it’s these subtle differences (extrait concentration of highest quality oils) that make Black so extraordinary.

Black is what you wear when you can afford to wear whatever you want, but don’t need anyone to know what you’re wearing. For those rogues who cut the labels out of their designer clothes, this one’s for you.

Yesterday Haze, Imaginary Authors

Every time I write a perfume review, it feels like the first time, no matter how long it’s actually been since I wrote that first review. Filled with emotion inspired by the sensory experience of the fragrance, I’m at a loss for words. What can I say?

It’s beautiful?

A great fragrance isn’t just beautiful, as perfumistas across the globe will let you know. In fact, some would even argue that the “beautiful” fragrance can’t be truly great. It’s got to be interesting, or challenging, or whatever.

Josh Meyer has an incredible talent for inspiring fragrance reviews. I was surprised to receive a package including samples of the two newest fragrances in the IA lineup: Mosaic, and Yesterday Haze. Mosaic is beautiful, and I recommend that you try it– it’s the perfect summer cologne, and lasts like an EDT or EDP; however, it’s Yesterday Haze that’s captivated my attention.

Perfume land has become a big place; we all talk about the flood of new releases every year from the big houses, and indie/artisan perfumers are popping up all over the world. It’s hard to keep up, and quite frankly, it’s easy to feel indifferent once the first few years of wild, passionate exploration and acquisition have faded into a more contemplative approach. I don’t add new bottles to my collection often (just three this year; one was a restock of L’Heure Bleue), and I can’t remember the last time I felt compelled to sit down long enough to write a review.


There are a couple indie perfume lines that I find impossible to ignore, and Imaginary Authors tops that list. The consistency and quality of each fragrance, the unidentifiable, yet utterly distinct IA signature, the innovation coupled with a clear respect for classical perfume– it’s all there in this latest fig-centric release, romantically titled, “Yesterday Haze.” Yet to say YH smells like anything else would be untrue. It doesn’t smell like anything else– kind of a big deal at this point in perfume-land.

Fig fragrances, while not exactly the bread-and-butter of perfume houses, have a dedicated audience. They exist on a scale, from woody green realism (Sonoma Scent Studio’s Fig Tree, or Robin’s acknowledged favorite, Diptyque Philosykos) to milky-sweet (such as the iconic L’Artisan Premier Figuier). While Yesterday Haze is creamy, and sweet, fig has not been downplayed. It’s truly fig, especially if you know what you’re sniffing for, but it’s approachable in a way that some of the photorealistic figs simply are not.

While I don’t imagine Robin will trade in her Phylosykos, I do see a bottle of YH in my future (update: I did buy it). It’ll be a nice juxtaposition for Laurie Erickson’s Fig Tree in my collection, as I am a fig-lover who would, occasionally, like to wear less tree and more Perfume. Yesterday Haze is beautiful; it’s also an interesting and sophisticated fig perfume.

Yesterday Haze is available from Imaginary Authors, 60mL, $85.

Dark Obsession (for men), Calvin Klein

On the airplane back from Vegas, The Guy tore open a scent strip from the  GQ in his lap. Without asking, he raised it to my nose, nodding his head as he watched my intake of breath, my first impression. He said, “Smells the same.”

It’s true. Dark Obsession reminds me, too, of the original.

This late-in-the-apparently-still-active-game flanker is a little too sweet. But it’s also got a raspy edge that peeks out after the top-notes burn off to reveal smoldering… vetiver? If you called it a fruitchouli for guys,  I wouldn’t argue. But I’d also say that it’s a remixed distillation of a bunch of good bits and pieces. Is that the pepper from Carbone de Balmain?

I like this new incarnation, but it feels a little bit dated– weirdly, as the original still sparkles…

In the apartment, able to relax after finally getting home, I opened up GQ again. Finding the page with the perfume ad,  I did something wild: I ordered a tester-bottle off the eBay app from my phone.

I confess, I prefer this on The Guy’s neck.

Fall: Sniff List

My Fall sniff-list is only belated if you don’t live in the southern portion of the United States. Down here, it’s still premature: yesterday it was 90, and today it’s 85 degrees in Austin– still warm to be thinking about Fall fragrances, but since I’ve exchanged my short pants for long pants, I figure it’s time to put away the Coup de Foudre ’til Spring.

This is what I’m loving in my Texan pseudo-fall…

Imaginary Authors, Cape Heartache. With notes of Hemlock and Fir, it’s witchy-vibe is getting me in the mood for upcoming All Souls Day a little less than a month away.

Puredistance, Black. The new offering from ultra-luxury Austrian perfume house extraordinaire, Black is exactly what we’ve come to expect from the niche house: excellence. Witchy in a completely different way from Cape Heartache, Black is a dusty oriental with luscious flourishes. If Chanel Antaeus had an affair with PG14 Iris Taizo, their sexy love child would put on a purple velvet robe, and call itself Black.

L’Artisan, Traversée du Bosphore. I can’t believe it’s been three years since I fell in love with this perfume. It absolutely stands the test of time, and has become a staple in my annual fall line-up. Iris, leather, saffron? Yes, yes, yes.

I’ve been wearing Jacomo Silences PDT, CDG Avignon, and Parfums MDCI Chypre Palatin in heavy rotation for a few months now, and it’s finally okay to admit it. Powerfully sexy, each of these, and appropriate for most any venue. Silences is one of those rare fragrances in my collection that gets drained, and I really ought to buy in bulk. Time to head over to evilBay…

print by Ruben Ireland.

Fall: Look Now

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For most of you, Fall has been well underway for at least a month. We do things different down here in Texas. Here’s the look I’m sporting as I transition through the Texas still-hot-fall, into Texas somewhat-cooler-fall (ACL here I come!).


Cleanse: I’ve returned once again to an old favorite, Burt’s Bees Orange Essence Facial Cleanser for general cleansing. I’m also using the MAC Makeup Remover Wipes, useful for getting rid of that awesomely stubborn water-proof mascara.

Treat: Retinol, by prescription, 3x per week (as always). What’s new: Skinmedica TNS Recovery Complex.

Moisture: MAC Mineralize Charged Water Face and Body Lotion


Face: My Lowbrow-Lust selection, L’Oréal Magic Nude Liquid Powder (#316, Nude Beige). So lightweight I almost can’t tell I’ve got foundation on, Magic Nude looks perfect every time. It boasts broad spectrum SPF 18, which makes me happy. Add a smidgen of MAC Ladyblush blushcreme, and I’m set.

Lips:  I start with Skinmedica TNS LipPlump System (from my PS), followed by Mac Hug Me. Pulls off the “my lips but better” effect, and is by far the best nude I’ve found to date. The Lustre formula is moisturizing and smells like vanilla cake. Yum!

Eyes: BeneFit They’re Real Mascara, L’Oreal Infallible Eyeliner. Sometimes I get wild and break out the Urban Decay Naked2 Palette.


Cleanse: Kerastase, Cristalliste (aka, the Pink bottles). My hair looks and feels better than it has in a long time. Prepare yourself for sticker-shock, and trust me when I say the shampoo and conditioner are solid investments.

Treat: Kerastase, Cristalliste Lumière Liquide. Supposedly inspired by Blake Lively’s hair in Gossip Girl, this stuff is made for long hair. I like it a lot, but haven’t decided yet if it’s worth the hefty price-tag ($59 from my hairdresser).

Style: No bangs, high, messy bun finished with Elnett. Because I’m always ready for horseback-riding, or that new 5-star restaurant downtown. Also, I splurged on a CHI hairdryer.

beauty on the outside: what now?

It’s time to fill in some blank spots.

Life is more than pics on instagram; I feel lucky to be where I am right now, but to be honest, the picture I’ve shared has been unbalanced. Here’s to finding balance.

BOTO began while I was finishing my BS at PSU.

It was born on a gloomy day during Spring Break, sunlight tentatively peeking through the blinds of our SE Portland townhouse. It was just a few months before my wedding, and it was during one of the most challenging periods of my life.

School was tough: I was trying to finish my pre-med requirements, and prepping for the MCAT. Seasonal Affective Disorder was still clinging to me with it’s cold, vise-like grip. Out of nowhere, my formerly supportive fiance dropped a bomb– he didn’t want to be married to a medical student, or to a MD. Suddenly, I had to choose between the thing I’d been working towards for years, and the man I loved. Invitations had been out for months, plane tickets and travel plans had already been made by my family. What choice did I have?

I felt utterly helpless.

I sat down and started a blog.

Later, after the wedding, BOTO evolved into a perfume blog and I deleted most of my early posts. I channeled my energy into exploring something beautiful, something safe–no dangerous introspection about my emotional state: just beautiful perfume! While my world was crumbling, I focused on a pleasure I could access– fragrance.

He broke up with me before the wedding. He broke up with me again after we got back from the honeymoon. Few people know this. He broke up with me whenever I got out of line. I almost didn’t survive him, and have the hospital bracelet (9/19/09) to prove it. What gave me hope, what got me through, was the writing.

BOTO was the thing that helped me get through–the people who came into my life because of it gave me courage and hope. After the divorce, I walked away from this space. I think maybe because I wanted a fresh start. My personal policy has been, No looking back! But that’s not quite right: BOTO tugs at me, as it always has.

Beauty on the Outside is a tool: I used it to focus on something I could control–pleasure for pleasures sake, and what that pleasure experience did for my internal self. Ultimately, it helped me find freedom.

What now? The answer eludes me. Perfume remains a major part of my life: yesterday I wore Puredistance Black, and I bought a bottle of CK Dark Obsession off eBay for 30-bucks. I’ve managed to convince Josh Meyer to work with me again on a new perfume project, and I’ve got The Guy wearing Kilian.

What any of this means for BOTO, I’m still figuring out. It may evolve into something completely different, but I’m still here. I’m hitting the reset button, and I’m hopeful about whatever comes next.

SOTD: L’Artisan’s Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, from Birgit.

I wore heartache to Vegas

Cape Heartache, that is.

The latest in the still moderate line-up from Imaginary Authors, I first experienced the fragrance in Josh Meyer’s basement laboratory in Portland, Oregon.

I traveled to Portland to work with Josh on our joint project: a bespoke fragrance for James Franco. Never mind that it was me & Josh doing the speaking, and James Franco merely inspiring through his varied projects. While we were narrowing down the mods, we’d take periodic breaks, step away to the work bench.

The truth about that: it was like going to Disney World as an 8-year-old. Giddy barely describes my childish glee as I sniffed the raw ingredients of my favorite fragrances. I got to sniff Josh’s personal collection (he’s a total perfumista, I don’t care how straight he is with his lovely girlfriend), I got to sniff specialty stuff he’d done for private clients (a menswear store, a museum commissioned project, et cetera), and I got to sniff what he was working on.

He handled the vial across the setting area, then waited for my response.

I sank back into the couch the moment it hit my prefrontal cortex. Immediately, I called it melancholic, purplish, and what is that note? Plummy, lush, evergreen? “Fir,” he confirmed for me.  Ahhh… fir does it for me every time.

Supposedly, in druid astrology, I’m a Fir Tree. Whatever the reason, I love fir wherever I find it.

Josh doesn’t mention iris in the notes list for this new addition, but that first moment of sniffing it blind in the basement has stuck with me. A silvery arrow striking ripe flesh, or an axe parting lively evergreen? Knowing about the perfume, its name and notes, has done something new to my perspective. Though that first blind-sniff is long gone, its ghostly trail snakes through my memory. Cape Heartache, it is named. As I experience this incarnation, I can tell you that it’s something… whole. It’s balanced, and it’s beautiful–even if it is pierced with melancholy.

I chose the sample of CH as my Vegas scent, and I chose well. This was my first trip with The Guy; which may on the surface seem melodramatic. But let me tell you why I chose it.

Evergreens are the trees that never shed, never go to sleep. They are alive and vibrant all year long, through centuries of life. Being awake that long, never being able to take a break, or look away from the life unfolding around them, I imagine evergreen trees as melancholic yes, but also wise and hopeful. When you’ve seen it all, you’re pretty much unshakable; the most essential beauty shines through.

Ok, so I like drama. Deal with it. The perfume smells great. ;)

SOTE: Agent Provacateur

Agent Provacateur is a scent I’ve known since the early days of my perfumania.

Please don’t think that because I’ve gone in a new direction that my obsession with fragrance has subsided, or ceased to exist. I’m much more picky about what I spend time with, and I don’t go out looking for whatever is new and interesting, but fragrance is still a major part of my life and my experience. I’m writing about AP, which is my SOTE; my SOTD was DK Gold (ebay, <$10, shipped).

I digress.

AP was one of the first fragrances, as a full-bottle, that entered my collection during the early days of perfumista-hood, and it’s one of the few full-bottles to remain from those days. It wasn’t very long ago–only four years–but in my little world, that was my book of Genesis. A lot has happened since then.

AP is a scent that I brought in early, and that I’ve kept. Perfume is like gold, in a way; it retains it’s value. it’s resale value is static, and , as we know,  can rise over time. It’s an unusual stock, but anyone who had a bottle of Chaos before it was re-released understands exactly what I’m talking about. I’ve kept AP over the years because… why? I rarely wear it, and I’ve removed from my collection other early fragrances that, in actuality, I liked better than I do AP.

Yet AP holds it’s position. That pink, egg-shaped ceramic hand-grenade keeps it’s own along side Amouage, L’Artisan, Puredistance, uncle Serge, Ormonde Jayne… and the rest. It holds it’s spot. Why? At this point, everything that’s in my collection maintains it’s spot for a reason. I went John Galliano on my collection, before my move to Texas and after my divorce, and only the strongest survived the brutality of my culling.

What I think of the actual smell of the fragrance is irrelevant. Why I keep and  wear AP (as I am now), is that it reminds me of my ex-husband.

Those of you that have been with me awhile, as many of you have, remember when I announced my divorce. It was only a month before that announcement that I was asking for your help picking out a birthday fragrance for the same man. Today, a little over a year later, I’ll admit that I haven’t spoken to that man since.  Not because I didn’t want to; but because he asked me to remove myself from his life. His fear, as he put it, was that we would become my parents. You see, my mother and father are soul-mates, or so my dad believes, yet they’ve never been able to be together. He’s heart-broken over her still, and has never married. She’s had many partners and even a husband since… well, the main thing to understand is that my ex-husband fears that he’ll never be free from me if we stay in touch; like my parents.

Agent Provacateur is a perfume that reminds me of my ex-husband, and I keep the fragrance because I love my ex-husband. As I have from the beginning, and as I probably always will. We weren’t good together, we didn’t fit. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t love.

AP is the fragrance that I bought while I was exploring rose fragrances, and that I never truly loved. But he loved it, and when I wore it, he took note. So, on this eve of my birthday, a year since I last saw my first-husband, I wear a fragrance that he loved. Because… no matter where I am, what I’m doing, who I’m with, he’s part of me still. And I’m okay with that. I’m loyal to him, still, even in this new context. Perhaps not in the way he would choose for me… Nonetheless.

AP isn’t really my thing. It’s representative. Because, sometimes, I do what isn’t exactly my thing. When you love someone, you do little things for them, as well as big things. AP was one of those little things. In actuality, it kinda makes me nauseous.

Now, there’s a new guy. He always comments positively on Silences. This is good, because I wear it a lot.

Scent James Franco…

I don’t think of James Franco as the sort of man who wears fragrance (despite the wikipedia entry informing me that he stole and resold frags in highschool); I’m happy to be proven wrong, so speak up if you know! It’s not that I can’t imagine him caring about such things, it’s just that I suspect that nothing has passed under his radar that was The One to Rule them all–or, at least, the one to tease his imagination into believing that One Fragrance to Rule them All (user results may vary) exists, somewhere, out there.

Beneath the pale moon light, L’Heure Bleue, is an almost perfect fragrance. But that’s not what I have in mind for Mr. Franco, no sir.

Sometimes it will happen that someone passes by, and they smell amazing. You ask them, “what are you wearing!?” and most times they’ll reveal the answer, if they know it. Anyone who’s asked frequently enough knows that not everyone knows what they’re wearing–and that’s just fine! Smelling good is more than sufficient. So, the story goes like this: you ask what they’re wearing, they tell you. You go to the store and you try it, or even buy it, for yourself. But it’s not just right. It may end up on a bathroom shelf, or on a vanity, or… wherever fragrances go to await re-homing. But whatever happens, it’s not TOtRtA (No, not a tortilla–The One to Rule them All).

There are some truly great fragrance lines today, small and large: Amouage, Ormonde Jayne, L’Artisan, Sonoma Scent Studio, Parfums D’Empire… Imaginary Authors. However, despite all the great fragrances out there, people mostly still all wear the same stuff. Again, I have no complaint, since “smelling good” is high-five worthy! And because people mostly wear the same stuff, I suspect that James Franco doesn’t have a scent. His scent. The scent people associate with him. Maybe he does, but come along for our imaginary ride anyway, since we’re having fun.

Josh Meyer and I have taken on the Herculean task of creating, for Mr. Franco, a custom fragrance. One that will, I think, will become his One to Rule Them All. And what did we create?

what does it smell like?

It’s a surprise! However, I will make samples to share with five lucky persons. The first people to request it will have the opportunity to Smell Like James Franco.

See the post that preceded this one here; if you are reading this, then I’ve already cooked something, and ridden a horse!

Imaginary Authors, with James Franco!


Life is a series of blank pages and it is up to one’s self whether to fill those pages with tedious prose or wildly imaginative storylines.”

The concept Josh Meyer presented to me on the telephone inspired the response, “Josh, you are a genius,” and, as you will see if you watch the video of that conversation, I believe that what I say is true. He’s a smart, talented guy with awesome ideas. And he’s a great perfumer, to boot! Hurrah!

The idea: to contact James Franco and get him to write his own tale, in concert with the creative vision behind Imaginary Authors…

Imaginary Authors is born from the concept of scent as art and art as provocation. Like a good book, these scents are meant to inspire you. In these bottles are layered narratives that are sure to generate stirring conversation, fragrances that might be capable of changing the course of your own personal story. The hope is that they not only invigorate and intoxicate, but also take you to new places.

Each Imaginary Authors fragrance follows a compelling storyline peppered with intriguing twists. These are scents to curl up with, to share with friends, to take with you wherever you go, and to return to again and again for a uniquely transcendent experience.”

I joined Josh in his Portland studio and last week, and we spent six hours (6 hours!) sniffing mods, discussing the process, and the inspiration (not gonna lie: it was my own personal Disney World experience).

James Franco, we’d like to invite you to join in! Contribute, if you will, a brief narrative for your very own imaginary authors scent…

Coming Soon: Video footage from the epic meeting between Josh and ddM, in the Imaginary Authors studio.


energy & matter post. Earlier “James Franco” posts. Image borrowed from Rabbit Bandini Productions

Keep smelling folks!

Danielle has let us all know about changes at BoTO, and it’s my turn to sign off too.

Danielle invited me to keep BoTO going but I’m finding that things have changed for me too. It’s hard to say why. Just that the urge to write about perfume is not there any more. I so admire all those faithful bloggers who write every day in many cases, for years, about perfume. I get so much joy  out of their work and I admire them all so much. My first sip of coffee each morning would not be the same without a perfume blog in front of me. I’m not going to name these fabulous, witty, erudite, knowledgeable people. You know who they are and I know you love them too.

Another reason I’ve been writing less about perfume is that at last I have been buying less. I’m in a slower and more contented phase, and have come to terms with the fact that I cannot afford most of the high end niche lines now. It’s not just the perfume itself, it’s the shipping costs – and the shipping restrictions – that make things harder. So I have been digging down and rediscovering and re-testing many of the wonderful perfumes I already own.

My interest always tended to be good mainstream perfumes and I urge you all not to shrug off the mainstream stuff right under your noses: the classic Lauders, the Kenzos, the mainline Chanels, Hermeses and Guerlains, some of the Chloes, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, Elie Saab, Oscar de la Renta, Balmain, Jacomo, Narcisso Rodriguez … some offerings from Dior (Dune!), VC&A, and YSL, even the odd celebuscent. There are some great beauties, and satisfying workaholic fragrances, in there. They are not expensive and they leave you money left over for other important things, like food, books, movies, music …  and paying the gas bill on time! (Insert red face here.)

And then there’s the inexpensive niche houses. I wonder if it is a co-incidence that many of them are led by women? Sonoma Scent Studio. Parfums de Nicolai. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Olympic Orchids. Ineke Ruhland. Well, I leave you with that thought.

My heartfelt thanks go to my fellow BoTO writers, Dionne, Adam and and especially, of course, Danielle, whom I met over a discussion of L’Heure Bleue and who generously invited me to join her blog and made me the recipient of many gifts of perfume, much more than I could return. Two stand out: a nearly full bottle of vintage Miss Dior, if you please, and a sample of Rochas Femme. This she tossed in with some other samples, little realising what a difference Femme would make to my life.

That first sniff of Femme brought instant recognition of my scented other half. It happened about a year ago while I was sitting in this very chair. It’s the only fragrance I have felt like that about. Again, Femme is not expensive, and perhaps it’s not even that special – many people hate Olivier Cresp’s cumin-infused re-orchestration of Rouditska’s 1944 classic, released in 1989.

But for me it’s love and I have kept Danielle’s sample vial, still with a few souvenir drops in it even though I now possess a FB. I hope everyone gets to experience that wonderful moment of instant perfume love.

I’ll be seeing you in the comments threads, but in the meantime I wish you all the best on your scented journeys.

hey, here I am!

It’s been a while.

I got my muse back, and in one of my last posts (was it my last post?) I said that I knew it would be different this time around. At the time, I didn’t know what I meant when I said that (you don’t know what you don’t know, my friend Saundra always says), but now I do.  I knew that  a shift had happened, and that it was powerfully good for me, and I thought it would happen here, on BoTO.

Perfume remains, for me, an exquisite pleasure–an essential part of my daily life, a thing that will always be with me. Knowing that when I pick up a bottle (or decant, or sample), a story will unfold under my nose. Whether it was a story by Robyn, or Angela, a story from Birgit, Victoria, or Sheila (I remember the image from the first post I read–it was a woman in a tuxedo!), those stories come back to me when the spell of the fragrance is released in the air. Yes, spell. What perfumers wrought in oil and alcohol, these, and others, wrought in words. A spell on paper requires magic to bring it to life, and I think we did it together for a while.

There are hundreds of decants and samples in my cabinet. From Birgit, Tara, and Daisy, Suzanne, Carrie Meredith, Undina, Denise Hamilton (Fracas! I tried SO hard!), Victoria, and Anne-Marie (my rock–thank you Anne-Marie). These and many more of you touched my life, and you come back to me even when I’m just picking up the bottles and examining their labels. Provenance.

The perfume community gave me Provenance. Perfumistas, and the perfume community, gave me the place to exist and grow and evolve, surrounded by true generosity and shared passionate enthusiasm. I feel like I grew up, in the few short years since BoTO started (which for me, marked my effort to become a member of the perfume community). The community grew to accommodate me, and I’m so grateful for that. To have shared my voice with some of the best people on the earth. Perfumistas take the time to stop and smell the roses. They take the time to live in the magic of life.

Thank you.

I hope that some of you will join me as I follow my muse into the next adventure: Energy & Matter. There I’m sharing what I’m doing, including The Modern Witch project– the thing that’s become my consuming occupation and passion…

Anne-Marie will be signing off as well (you’ll have a letter from her here soon), but BoTO will continue on–Adam will continue to share his snapshots of life through the lens of whatever fragrance I’ve delivered to him (he’s a saint), and his style will open doors for a whole new audience of fragrance lovers–manly dads who play softball and write screenplays that their kids will want to watch; and Dionne, well, Dionne weaves magic in everything she does (try to stop her!).

Oh, and one last thing: I’ll be flying out to Oregon in April, to take Josh Meyer up on his offer to create a custom fragrance for James Franco. That will be a Vlog post, which will appear here, on Energy & Matter, and Facebook, and Twitter, and YouTube, and… well, we’ll be seeing you then.

It’s been the ride of a lifetime. Thank you for reading, for responding to my comments on your blogs, for sharing one of life’s truly great pleasures with me–perfume.

Sunlight on the lawn

Today was a perfect day to be wearing Parfums de Nicolaï’s Le Temps d’une Fête.

It was not that I had anything in particular to celebrate. It was just a normal working day . But it was a perfect summer’s day where I live. After a crisp morning the temperature rose to a cloudless 29 degrees (84F), and as I write this the evening is still and golden. Days like today are special.

A reviewer on Fragrantica thinks Le Temps d’une Fête (‘the time of a celebration’) is like ‘like a secret party happening on a warm night in May’. I love this idea. It would be a night like tonight, golden and sweet, and you can’t help but follow the sound of laughter rippling from somewhere close by … down there, is it? … across the grass under the trees by the river. Le Temps d’une Fête. This is the time and place for it.

As I was thinking about this today, suddenly the gardening books of Beverley Nichols sprang to mind. Who is he? (Yes, he.) He was all sorts of things: an English author, memoirist, playwright, composer, journalist, gardener, cat fancier, and lover of flowers, especially winter-blooming flowers. He is probably most famous for his gardening books, which are all based (sometimes in a semi-fictionalised way) on various gardens he owned from the 1930s to the 1970s. The first and perhaps the best-known was Down the Garden Path. But they all had the most delightful titles, such as A Village in a Valley, Merry Hall, Laughter on the Stairs, and Sunlight in the Lawn.

The books are not technical manuals, although there is plenty of gardening advice if you want it. They are more like rambles around the garden with the author there to charm you with his gardening lore and wicked gossip about his neighbours. All are written with that classic dry English humour. His first book was about his first garden and he deliberately wrote it swiftly, before he had learned too much about gardens, before he could:

dilate, with tedious prolixity, on the root formation of the winter aconite, instead of trying to catch on paper the glint of its gold through the snow, as I remember it last winter, like a fistful of largesse thrown over a satin quilt.

But Nichols’ life was not all laughter and roses. His father had been an alcoholic and in 1972 Nichols published a book about this (Father Figure). I read it years ago and found it so distressing I’ve blocked out the memory, except that I think Nichols claims that as a child he tried to murder his father.

Perhaps his gardening and his books allowed Nichols distance himself from all that through the joy of planting and creating. His gardening books are a celebration of living.

Le Temps d’une Fête is joyful, but not exactly ‘sunshine in a bottle’, to me at least. The opening is green and a little sharp. Golden sunshine is filtered through deep shade. Top notes are galbanum and opoponax, so there is your green and your honeyed sweet right there. Narcissus and jasmine are at the heart: warm, sexy, human. The base is darkened – ‘earthened’, to my nose – with patchouli, woody notes, sandalwood and (apparently) oakmoss. You won’t turn up to this party in your best frock because with your host you will want to stoop among the flowers, dab the soil, nip a few deadheads and twitch out the odd weed.

Le Temps is not a pretentiously priced fragrance so if you have not already, do try it if you can. Beverley Nichols’ books can often be bought second hand, including on eBay, and an outfit called Timber Press has re-published many of the gardening books.

PS: I do have something to celebrate after all. My bottle of Hermes’ 24 Faubourg arrived! I had been saving up for it. I got the EDP in a 30ml bottle and I think the bottle design works wonderfully in this small size. It is so charming! Yay me.

Imaginary Authors, Day 3: Memoirs of a Trespasser

I really love this stuff.

Really really.

So far, I’ve been impressed overall by the offerings from Josh Meyer–but this one is, as far as I’m concerned, is the One To Rule the Line (although The Cobra & The Canary is a close second; love those masculines!). Creamy vanilla, robust oak casks, exotic spice caravans; I envision the gentleman explorer in his study, planning the next adventure, savoring memories of past trips over a glass of cognac, fingers dancing over the humidor to select a hand-rolled cigar to enjoy while curiously perusing outspread maps.

I want to go to there.

My sample was generously provided by the perfumer.