Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Amouage: Planning My Trek Down the Silk Road

Image: JHP Design

During my sniffing trip last Summer in San Francisco, we made it into Jacqueline's Perfumery that features rare and vintage perfumes that is located down the street from Neiman Marcus. Even though I wasn't terribly impressed with the customer service I did get a whiff of Lyric by Amouage. It was a fleeting smell that stuck in my head and I kept wishing rather selfishly that she had shelled out the 260 bucks for the bottle.

The hesitation was understandable because we share the preference for pure parfums or extraits over edp or edt. If we are going to invest in perfumes, why not hold out for the best purity. Amouage seems to be an exception though. Often Heather and I would speak of Lyric in day-dreamy, unfinished sentences.

I would see 10 ml vial decants on Ebay for them and was wondering if I should really pay 60 bucks for 10ml. I broke down for Christmas and bought myself a vial only to find I accidentally ordered Epic. How did I do that. It was purely my fault as I saw a fragrance ending in "ic" and pushed the confirm button. This is filed under the heading, "Why Mommy Can't Read?"

When I received the decant I put a tiny, tiny droplet on the top of my hand and was amazed at the strength and longevity - not to mention the breathtaking beauty of Epic. Pepper, tea, spices do this intricate dance amongst the damask rose floral and it really does take you on this intoxicating journey down ancient silk road. It is a grand perfume that I will wear tomorrow night for New Years' Eve. This is not a work or perfume you go about your day with. I am not sure if it is a sexy perfume except in the context you imagine yourself captured as part of a harum on your journey along the silk road. It is more a special occasion scent or a scent to daydream to (or dream to). Epic is a commitment of most of your day. It is a statement perfume saying that you chose this occasion to wear the most precious and exotic ingredients expertly put together.

Since rose perfumes are great companions to culinary garlic in meals, it is a pairing I should try with this.

My memory of Lyric didn't jibe with its origins at a Perfumery stated by the Sultan of Oman using precious materials from the Middle East. Lyric seemed to me to be very French and western more so than Epic.

It's longevity may make the price a bit more tolerable -- a 100ml bottle is $300.00. For $59.00 you can have 10 ml from a seller on Ebay, Mudassir. He also has a direct store which he prefers we use and what a nice selection he has. It looks like I found a great source for fumes with him. He has kindly offered me a sample of Amouage Reflection (which is awesome because it seems it will be a nice addition for the coming spring) with today's order of Amouage Lyric. So I will be adding my reviews of all three Amouage fragrances soon. Now, if only I can manage to try Amouage's Attars...

Chanel: A Redemptive Tale

My journey through the world of Chanel almost was cut short. One day in the late Spring and Summer when I was beginning my journey to become a perfumista, a co-worker brought a bottle of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle to me. She had the bottle for several years and she never really liked it. Being that I was so eager to collect perfumes, she thought I may like it enough to offer it a new and more appreciative home.

That next morning before work, I dived in and applied it to the wrists, earlobes, inner elbows, and between "the girls" in a daring move to give it an honest try. At first my impression was that it was interesting, but not necessarily in a good way. Was it a nuttiness? It was just this odd scent palate different from the Dior's and Guerlains I had tried.

I was determined to keep on course despite the worry that this could go bad while I had to work. As the day progressed my fears were realized as the fragrance turned on me and I felt progressively confused, angry, and scared that I would be trapped in this long-lasting scent. It was a scrubber which took 4 trips to the bathroom sink to remove the smell that cried out for a tomato juice bath. It took awhile for me to not look at a Chanel label without a mix of revulsion or fear.

A friend lent me EDTs of No. 5 and No. 22, and I found them both to be very pleasant -- especially No. 22. No. 22 was just prettier and more sparkly in a wrist vs. wrist test. Then I bought a small bottle of vintage No. 19 Parfum when I couldn't find No.22 on Ebay. No. 19 is very close to my heart. No. 19 made me pine for other Chanel's with its sophisticated leatherish notes I know that this could be a signature scent if not for the brutal fact that it is discontinued in that form. It is cruel to oneself to decide on a discontinued and rare scent as a personal scent. If you do you make heartbreak certain. No. 19 parfum smells full-bodied and wonderous on me. It meshes with my chemistry.

On a suggestion of posters on Perfume of Life, I have also tried Egoiste Platinum and the Original Egoiste -- both for men. Those vie with Eau Sauvage by Dior that I love wearing.

One night I smelled Coco ( minus the Mademoiselle, of course) on my dear friend and thought it very fetching. This Christmas Santa got me a .25 oz of Coco after showing my mother-in-law around the Neiman Marcus counters. This has the potential of being my signature scent even though folks will claim that the vintage version is superior. At some point, I have to let go the notion of finding the elusive version that I may end up never really finding and just appreciate contemporary and available versions of perfumes. When I wear Coco with its warm, rich spiciness that has a sophisticated reserved nature. Coco makes me think I live in a mansion overlooking an incredible view wearing Chanel clothes with a fabulous haircut. Someone observed that Chanel fragrances are very aspirational. While Caron is said to be for the Countess, and Guerlain for the kept woman -- Chanel is for the independent, modern woman with impeccable taste.

Guerlain has Guerlainaide, Chanel does seem to have a bit of what I call Chanelaide that gives Chanel a feeling of a certain pedigree. Guerlain is a romantic mystery that belongs as a muse for an artist at the turn of the century laying naked on crumpled sheets. Caron is more of a precious, bejeweled and blue-blooded, perfectly lady-like with china doll features. Chanel has a verve, confidence that is charismatically handsome with a bold bob, crisp white shirt, and a pilot's cap. Guerlain has wine that was brought up to warm up a cold, artist's flat. Caron is just a touch of champagne that is worth a weeks work in a bottle on an ornate and formal dining room in an old castle. Chanel is a woman delighting the surrounding men in the room with ribald and intellectual talk over an old scotch in a room reminiscent of a banker's club.

Since sampling Caron fragrances at Jaquelines in San Francisco, I know I could never be a Caron girl. For the longest time I have felt very much like a Guerlain girl and that is where my heart is, but Chanel appeals to my mind as well as my nostrils.

This is only the beginning of a wonderful relationship with Chanel.

Then there is the House of Amouage... oh dear god..that is an entire new post.