Desperately seeking perfume

Happy holidays everyone! I hope all your Christmases are as you wished them to be.

Weeks and weeks ago I shared my excitement about a trip to Melbourne to (in part) take in as much perfume sniffing as I could. Somehow after my return I have been so taken up with other stuff, I have never reported back. So here goes.

The trip was great fun but also disappointing perfume-wise because after so much anticipation, my sense of smell let me down! It wasn’t that I had a cold. I think it must have been entirely psychological – too much excitement – because perfume after perfume smelled weak or unconvincing, or just … of nothing.

Still, my friend K. went with me to all the boutiques and perfumeries I had planned and we both enjoyed ourselves hugely. Individually each of us might tremble at the thought of walking into up-market boutiques, but together it’s easy! We must have looked quite at home on the top floor of Tiffany’s because they even offered us a cup of tea, which startled us very much. (Did we look like we could afford their diamonds?) Of course I sniffed the Tiffany fragrance but I remember not a single thing about it, not even its name.

Further up Collins Street at Chanel I sniffed my way through all the Les Exlusifs that were hitherto unknown to me. With my wonky nose, only Coromandel made an impression (good). Jersey was a complete non-starter. At the Mecca Cosmetica in Myer’s I asked the SA to show me what she thought was the most interesting of her stock, and she took me to Frederic Malle’s Geranium Pour Monsieur. I respect her for this – I found it magnificent, and hope to give it a try when I’m in Melbourne again briefly after the New Year. But to me the most interesting thing I found was Le Labo’s wonderfully dirty Patchouli 24.

K. meanwhile amused himself at the Guerlain counter smelling their little jar of tonka beans, set there to promote sales of Tonka Imperiale, no doubt. He loved the tonkas, but found the Guerlain lady rather terrifying, as did I. No sale there.

At Peony perfumery in Hawthorn I nearly bought L’Artisan’s Fleur de Liane, but over lunch at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, a melon note seemed to emerge of of FdL. So that was a No. However, at Peony K. bought a bottle of Parfum d’Empire’s Fougere Bengale as a present for his (male) partner S., and that was a complete success.

And I eventually got my scent-brain back too, sort of, at Klein’s in Fitzroy. Penhaligon’s Amaranthine. To be honest I think I bought it because I could actually smell it. Its opening burst of vivid, energetic green (banana leaf, apparently) reached right through the fug of other scents in the shop, and found its way straight to my brain, no trouble. I adore it. (Some people mention the green as only a secondary impression, behind the sultry white flowers, but to me the green slices its way all the way to the end of the drydown. If you know Amaranthine, do comment!)

Fleur de Liane and Amaranthine are both creamy tropical fragrances and both the work of the same man, Bertrand Duchafour. So it was little wonder that if I almost loved one I would actually love the other. And I did!

Has anyone else had found themselves too excited to enjoy a sniff trip? Please comment.

15 thoughts on “Desperately seeking perfume

  1. Good to hear about your trip, Annemarie!
    I’m glad you had such a good time. And it is always interesting to read about perfume shopping, even if I never get to
    shop in Melbourne… 🙂
    Amaranthine is indeed lovely, the green is there for me too but quite well balanced with the milky and floral aspects.

    1. Hmm … that’s interesting. I find the green so assertive as to almost tip the whole composition out of balance, and yet that does not bother me. Complete harmony and perfection can be dull. It tends to be the gaps, the rough edges, the sticky-out-bots that attract me.

      Life can have some odd twists and turns – you may yet hear the clunk and clang of those Melbourne trams! (They are smoother and more comfortable than they used to be … )

  2. Sounds like a fun trip, but sorry to hear you were only inspired by a few scents.
    As for Amaranthine, it’s most assuredly green throughout. That’s one of the reasons I love it! I “see” it as a milky green.

    1. Thanks, and ‘milky green’ is such an odd idea. That’s why I like it I think. It’s an unusual inclusion in the Penhaligon’s line-up. I saw this morning that Penhaligon’s is having a huge sale, but they do not ship alcohol based products to Australia, damn it!

  3. Nice to hear about the sniffies! (Glad you’re back, I missed you.)

    I like Amaranthine – well, you know I like the green stuff – but for me, it goes milky-floral fairly quickly and I no longer notice the green streak.

    1. Thanks Mals! Hmmm … so the green fades for you? Interesting. I sometimes wonder if Penhaligon’s conducted focus groups on this one, to test reactions. But you don’t hire Bertrand Duchafour and then put his stuff through a focus group, surely!

  4. I love that your friend bought Fougere Bengale for his partner! I got some for Christmas, and am completely in love with it, and can picture said partner’s delight at discovering it…

    Congratulations on the Amaranthine! For me too, it reads green. Perhaps it’s the way the florals are balanced, but I get plenty of “milk,” yet not so much “milky-floral,” and thank goodness! I really like Amaranthine, but not so much heavy florals.

    And i am so glad you are back! I’ve missed you too! 😉

    1. Thanks Dee, it’s great to be back and writing about pefume again. Was your FB that for Xmas 2011?

      The fun thing about S. and perfume is that he applies it lavishly and with huge enjoyment. So when K. gave him the Fougere Bengale he opened it immediately, laughed with delight, and spritzed himself liberally with it – right there in the hotel bar where we were having a drink. No sniffing the cap, no cautious testing on a tissue – just sprtiz spritz spritz, right there and then. And oh my lord, FB smelled wonderful.

      1. FB was gifted to me from my bestie in a travel spray, along with Wazamba and Aziyade— FB being the CLEAR favorite for me 🙂

        How wonderful! I love the image if you with your two friends at that bar– S. sounds like he is full of lust for life: I really like that! And thank goodness the perfume smelled good, haha!

  5. Thanks for reporting back, annemarie. I really enjoyed your Melbourne post.

    I have had days when my nose just won’t co-operate and I don’t know why – not over excitement anyway. Very frustrating. I’m not surprised that Jersey didn’t make an impression or that Patchouli 24 managed to sneek through though! It is potent stuff that’s for sure. I feel like a person should be annointed with it rather than sprayed.

    Congrats on the Amaranthine, I’m glad you have a fragrant reminder of your fun trip.

    1. Thanks Tara, yes, Amaranthine will always bring back great Melbourne memories.

      I wonder if perfumers have those sort of ‘non-co-operation’ days! That would be terrible.

  6. I’m glad you had the chance to post this! I had wondered how the sniff trip went. I’m sorry your sniffer didn’t fully cooperate, but hopefully that meant more head space to devote to your friend and other things in the city. Amaranthine is one I’ve worn but without feeling like I totally get it. It doesn’t seem to do much on my skin, which is a shame because it is loved by many people whose opinions and taste I normally can at least *relate* to if not agree with! 🙂

    1. Thanks Natalie, yes, in the end the dicky sniffer was only a minor issue. I had a great time.

      Some people find Amaranthine wears too close to the skin and disappears quickly. I wonder if Penhaligon’s, being the conservative house that it is, baulked at giving the fragrance the sillage it probably deserves.

  7. It’s nice to have you back, AM! I was wondering were you we and how you long-expected sniffing trip went.

    I’ve never had a situation where I wouldn’t be able to smell because of an excitement but I do get overwhelmed sometimes so unless I have a plan what I want to try I end up sniffing something I’d previously tested – just because it feels safe and comforting.

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