The Sniffer is Back!

I’ve been healed!  After a week of worrying about the state of my olfactory nerves, I found myself out of doors in the late (late) evening having a birthday drink with my sig-O (thats short for significant other).  I caught a whiff of the jasmine behind him and was reminded of a thousand splendid perfumes.  Had I been able to smell all along? There’s no telling.

JASMINEsmells

Funny that earlier that very day I happened to get an email from the tick testing lab! Apparently my tick was not lost in the mail and I was not exposed to any deadly diseases. That was one clean tick.

Here’s her full report:

Lyme: negative

Relapsing fever: negative

Babesiosis: negative

Anaplasmosis: negative

LadyTick

I was instructed not to use the information for clinical decisions, but I’ve decided it’s ok to decided to go ahead and live.

There’s much to catch up on. Coming up: a post on Tom Ford’s Orchid Soleil, Lollia’s Dream No. 25, and an essay about magazine page fragrance samples and job interviews.

Lessons learned: CTFO and let the flowers be smelled.

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Nose Damage Haitus

Came down with a crazy head cold (aka: upper respiratory infection). Sense of smell is gone. Doesn’t help that a google search turned up several cases of people who suffered smell-nerve damaged from a simple head cold.

I’ll keep spraying perfume samples in my face until I can smell again and I’ll be back soon.

Replica: Smells like somewhere I used to know

The sample card for Replica: Flower Market says: Reproduction of familiar scents and moments of varying locations and periods.

ReplicaFRONT

I’m already interested. I stared this blog to not only use up my fragrance samples, but to examine topics like scent memory and scent inspiration (and of course the use of ad-speak and advertising to define femininity) maybe even scent therapy. Anything to keep the ol’ nose and brain busy during these wacky times.

The front of card looks more like a report. It has a photo of a flower market and info in typewriter font. It’s saying, “should you choose to accept this mission….”

Originally: Flower Market

Provenance and Period: Paris, 2011

Fragrance Description: Crisp petal freshness

Style Description: Female Fragrance

So THIS is what females smell like.   

REPLICAinside

My spritz thoughts: I do wish I smelled like this all the time. Sometimes I get people thinking I’m someone else. Just last night I was out with my boyfriend and someone called me Kathy. I told her no. She said, well do you have a twin sister?  And I said not that I know of.  I get that a lot. It’s the price you pay to be a brunette with bangs. Anyway – if I smelled like this people might think that they have had a pack of carnations shoved in their face, or maybe that they fell into a field of poppies, and it just wouldn’t matter if my name was Kathy.

This scent may remind some people of a 2011 Paris flower market, but I’m sent back to the mid 90s and one of the first legit (as in not Designer Imposters) bottle of perfume I bought: Givenchy Jardin d’Interdit.    Apparently I’ve always liked florals.

I was working for Shiseido at Famous-Barr and living in a Motel 6 room with my at-the-time boyfriend. It’s not as destitute as it sounds, he had a construction job remodeling Motel 6’s, but it was still two youngin’s living in a motel working for near minimum wage. Working at a make-up counter by day and sleeping in a motel by night was just the kind of Gemini-midheaven game I liked going on.  I bought the perfume with my Famous Bar employee discount.  I remember smelling it and thinking how great it would be to have access to a floral bouquet at anytime.

We shared a car which was ok because he worked um – on site.  The car was a late 80s Cutlass, I’d guess 87 if I had to. It was a pretty hot car; shiny black and in pristine condition (I come from the land of car people and his dad worked at GM). If it were a scent it would smell like a bear rug, spiked lemonade, WD40, Marlboro Reds, and frankly – a well-used hotel room ifyaknowwhatI’msaying. One day I was a little close to a semi truck at a light and it started to roll back. There was a line of cars behind me and I was pretty much helpless watching this giant trailer roll back on the hood and crush the hood ornament. A guy in a car next to me saw the whole thing and chased after the driver who didn’t even know what he’d just done. I drove back to the motel with a caravan of the truck driver and the witness to tell my boyfriend about the whole thing.  He was pretty pissed despite the awesome parade/caravan I’d assembled. 

You could say this perfume reminds me of Motel 6’s and Cutlass Supremes (before they adopted those horrible round-body styles). It reminds me of having a super fancy frosted pink bottle of perfume that I stored on the same counter as an electric hotplate next to a pile of construction tools and cup o’noodles.

So, yeah, I liked this one.

I thought it’d be interesting to check the perfume notes and see if the two fragrances have any similarities.

Givenchy Jardin d’Interdit

Notes: Pear, Kiwi, Cranberries, Peach Blossom, Rose, Red Berries, Rose Hip, Heliotrope, Orchid, Sandalwood

Replica Flower Market

Notes: Crushed Leaves, Freesia, Sambac Jasmine, Jasmine Infusion, Tuberose Infusion, Rose from Grasse, Peach, Cedarwood, Oak Moss.

You can see that there are not many similarities in the scent although, peach and roses should count for a lot.  I’m not too discouraged in my smelling abilities, scent memory works in mysterious ways. Maybe it was just the sweet floral that scent me back. Ha – get it? Scent. Sent. 

I figured that the original Jardin d’Interdit blend might be a tad dated and some of the ingredients might possibly obsolete. Once again, the internet told me I was right.  

Check this out about synthetic heliotrope:

“Currently heliotropin is under reduced ratio of use in perfumery, according to IFRA regulations, because safrols in food have been proven to be carcinogenic and hepatotoxic. Therefore concerns about the inhaled and skin-absorbed quantity from scented products have resulted in a preventory measure, rationing heliotropin to much lower ratios than before. This may be why your favourite fragrance with heliotrope might start smelling less deep and almondy in the coming months.”

Carcinogenic and hepatotoxic. Well, sometimes a scent can take us back to a flower market or a motel and sometimes a scent can remind us that we are lucky to be alive.

Seventh Sample Breakdown

Terms learned:

Olfactory memory:  the recollection of odors. Studies have found various characteristics of common memories of odor memory including persistence and high resistance to interference.

Heliotrope: almond-smelling, vanilla-like note with very hazy, flou contours, recreated via heliotropin

Orchid: usually a synthetic note in perfumes giving a powdery veneer to floral bouquets, sweetish and clean

Things to work on: 

  1. Getting better at identifying differences in florals
  2. Remembering that if I can live at a Motel 6, I will probably be ok

Magic, luck, or compliments this fragrance brought me:

In addition to sending me on a trip down memory lane, I almost crushed a writing test for a job as a dating profile ghost writer.

Websites discovered:

The Department Store Museum  

What’s POPin?

Been in land of spotty wifi, fam visits, and disastrous job interviews. Also been in the land of sun and seas and kites and shuffleboard. The other good news is that I did it all wearing Stella McCartney’s POP.   I’ll be back soon to tell you why it stinks.

IMG_9074

The Smell of Lazy Mornings & Blue Jeans

Picked for SPRING! First day of spring on Monday. Why not try by Rosie Jane’s Leila Lou?

LeilaLousFRONT

By Rosie Jane is a “An apothecary & lifestyle brand combing luxe and the perfection of simplicity. Environmentally friendly & sustainable. Made in California.”  I imagine she’d appreciate my environmentally friendly but entirely unluxe unsimplistic unsustainable sample hoarding thing I have going on.

Inside the sample card it says it is inspired by spring. I know I’m already ready to be inspired by spring. It won’t take much after the bullshit-blizzard winter rained down on us all amiright?

I pulled the top off the micro-vial and noticed that it was not a spray but a dabber! I had a real live perfume oil sample on my hands. See? Seasons change and things are looking up. This stuff smells good, like a fancy produce stand, a laguna beach boutique princess, being outside in the spring when you catch a whiff of honeysuckle or lilac instead of pee on concrete, and like maybe what Kerrie Walsh Jennings smells like when she goes out partying after winning gold medals.

LeilaLOUinside

Text inside says:

LEILA LOU

INSPIRED

by SPRING

a long lunch with friends.

a walk through fields of flowers.

lazy mornings in bed.

time spent with the people you love.

the perfect while t-shirt and great jeans.

 

I can tell this is a lifestyle brand product. Rosie Jane doesn’t need to use a bunch of adjectives + femininity. She just tells you the story you’re already living when you wear this.

You will never guess what I was wearing all day?  Yeah, a white (not perfect) t-shirt and (almost great) jeans!   “Lazy morning in bed” is a term that always annoys me because Mark Twain wrote entire novels sitting in bed in his pajamas. I don’t trust anyone from Los Angeles saying anything about the smell of fresh cut grass unless they work the grounds at Dodger Stadium, but it doesn’t stop me from liking the smell of this. Reminds me of Kai.

This truly irresistible perfume oil is made with essential oils. Leila Lou captures the alluring scent of freshness and innocence. This fragrance is light, refreshing and easy to wear.

Top Notes: Nectarine + Fresh Cut Grass

Middle Notes: Pear Blossom + Jasmine

Base Notes: Vanilla + Cotton Musk

I have to remember to includes notes about how easy or hard these things are to wear. Leila Lou was indeed easy. Hello spring.

 

Sixth Sample Breakdown

Terms learned: I may have to change this category to Fun Facts Learned. Like “The term Jasmine is probably derived from Persian word Yasmine meaning “fragrance,” which is adopted in Arabic as Yasym given to jasmine flowers.”

Did you know that the Fragrance Foundation awards are called the Jasmine Awards?

Still don’t know what cotton musk is.

Things to work on:  

1)  Look into natural vs synthetic fragrances. Most web searches turn up nonscientific ramblings from the antiparaben mafia so it’s hard to get real answers. Maybe the answers are in books.

2) Lifestyle fragrance stories to describe my perfect scent. Here’s one:

a bag of munchos

your favorite gemstone

a misunderstood text conversation

the right emoji

the wafting of your neighbors dinner

spilt whiskey

Magic, luck, or compliments this fragrance brought me:  

Let’s just say I put this scent on in Memphis and wound up flying a kite on a beach in the Gulf of Mexico later that evening.  

Not to mention The Secret History of Twin Peaks was available on kindle from the library

Websites discovered: 

The Fragrance Foundation

Vicks & The Madeline Moment

New sample report coming soon (hint: roses). In the meantime did you listen to the latest Only Human podcast? It’s all about smell memory and it makes me wonder why menthol isn’t a fragrance ingredient.

Screenshot 2017-03-19 11.00.18

Your Hidden Alien

I picked this one out of my sample batch thinking of all of us outsiders and because I love the movie Alien.

sigourney-alien
Sigourney and her space cat (image from amc.com)

Not to mention, I was planning on seeing an arty documentary about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that evening, so it really came down to picking the one sample with the coolest and weirdest name. 

AlienFront

Thoughts after first spray: Crushed velvet. Bell sleeves. I’m in the woods next to Sansa Stark. It’s a heavier scent, maybe even mature.  I kind of like it and I wonder if aliens would like it which makes me wonder if I will ever have the opportunity to ask one, proving that a good scent can take you anywhere. 

AlienINSIDE

Written on the card in four languages: “Enhance yourself with Aline Eau de Parfum. The magic of an everlasting precious stone bottle, thanks to the Refill Bottle of your perfumer’s Source”

I love translations with mysterious capitalization. And there’s no mention of femininity or anything of the sort, just: enhance yourself.  I like this.  Of course it’s French! I really want the everlasting precious stone bottle and I wish the sample was made of precious stone but we can’t have it all no matter what Sheryl Sandberg and perfume marketers tell us.  

I’m only four samples in and already addicted to reading the glamorous wordcasserole descriptions of perfumes so I checked the web hoping to find more information. I found a very satisfying description on Thierry Mugler’s site:

“Feel extraordinary… Mysterious and fascinating, ALIEN perfume has the power to illuminate and reveal a radiant, feminine aura. ALIEN fragrance brings out the solar goddess in every women. The rich and bewitching ALIEN Essence Absolue is captured in an everlasting drop of gold that radiates a divine nectar. This new fragrance is a modern and decadent interpretation of ALIEN. Thierry Mugler ALIEN perfume at the ALIEN perfume Source, or with refill bottles and ALIEN eco-refills!”

WHOOAAAAA.  Yes I want to feel extraordinary mysterious AND fascinating. 

A radiant feminine aura. Solar goddess. Divine nectar. Refills.

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I click on the video titled “Celestial and Mythical Beings

 

The whole video is magical.  In only a few minutes it manages to give a full creative background on Mugler while convincing me to buy three more fragrances and move to France to join the underworld of alien insect fashion.  The background info says something about how “the star” has long inspired the designer but I don’t know which one they are referring to or if they mean “star” in the royal sense or if it is just lost in translation. I love stars. I could totally hang on a spaceship with this guy. (I don’t know much about him and now I’m so hoping this dude isn’t known for racism, sexism or brutality because I’m digging his galactic sense.) Apparently Theirry is a former dancer and a worldly imaginative dude. He scores his fashion shows with Edith Piaf, has other fragrances in bottles shaped like stars and totem poles, and his fashion shows include robots and insect women.  His goal? “Extravagant and immoderate creations for women that put nature and fantasy within one’s reach.”     

May we all strive for immoderation. #blessup

ALIEN
Fragrance Family: Floral
Scent Type: Warm Floral
Key Notes: Jasmine Sambac, Cashmeran Wood, Amber Gris
About:
Alien is a floral-woody-amber fragrance that borders the realms of spirituality and sensuality. It exudes a positive energy, charged with sensual and intriguing mystery.
Alien is a radiant fragrance, and its deep purple-hued glass bottle is designed to mimic an amethyst, a precious gem that symbolizes femininity and refinement. This sacred talisman can be layered with any Alien Body product.
What else you need to know:

“It is named Alien because inside every woman is something so unique, so special, it is Alien to everything around her.”

Fourth Sample Day Breakdown

Terms learned:

Jasmine Sambac (Arabian jasmine): A species of jasmine native to a small region in the eastern Himalayas in Bhutan and neighboring India and Pakistan. (wikipedia)

Cashmeran Wood:  The diffusive, musky-woody scent is reminiscent of concrete (especially the abstract woody scent that concrete gives when hit upon by rain, a cityscape in the rain), also lightly spicy, lightly powdery.  (part of description from Fragranctica – I like the mention of concrete, particularly light, powdery concrete)

Ambergris:  Used as a fixative to help scents last much longer and its perfume can be best described as marine, animal and sweet. (Found on GQ of all places) 

Things to work on:   

  1. Magnifying the goddess within.
  2. More contemplation of the star (or stars).
  3. Resistance of Russian radio waves and other negative forces.

Magic, luck, or compliments this fragrance brought me: 

I feel like this scent increased my magic, but  also feel like I still have powers that are alien to those around me.  Maybe I need a few days with this scent. Maybe I need to spray it in the face of people that don’t get me or won’t give me a job or funding for my films. It was a generally powerful experience wearing this though – I got to hang with my boyfriend, see an excellent (if not terrifying) documentary, and celebrate a friend’s landmark birthday. 

Websites discovered:   Frangrantica  and of course Thierry Mugler

This Stinks, Let Me Tell You Why

In the past month and a half, I’ve been unexpectedly laid off from my job, found out my employer hadn’t been contributing to unemployment, dodged bullets in a bowling alley shooting, was notified that my apartment lease is up, and was bitten by a tick. I sent that little vampire to a lab at Northern Arizona University for testing to see what kind of ticky diseases I was exposed to and it got lost in the mail.  My anxiety levels are pretty high so I won’t know if I have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever until I croak from it.  Like that tick adrift in a sea of mail, my future is uncertain.

I’m doing what people are supposed to do in times of transition: control what you can.  Doing things like applying for jobs, working on film projects, cleaning and organizing in good times. Reading news, watching The Leftovers, and ruminating on people and things that make me angry in the darker times.

In the spirit of balancing both good and bad times, I’m starting a productive purge with something pleasant and easy: the hoard of fragrance samples collected from online Sephora purchases and sample box subscriptions. I like writing and mental health professionals recommend it, so I plan to tell you all about it.

I’ve always thought of fragrance samples as the filler item in a subscription box and have even (in darker times) contacted Birchbox customer service about their overuse of fragrance samples.   Yeah, I kept the samples even though they are reminders of excess and consumerist filler and plants I will never take care of and yachts I won’t be on and sequin-gown-galas I will never attend.  I kept the samples because despite my best efforts to resist, I’m far too indoctrinated in our materialistic culture to be able to throw something away that has a fancy brand name. 

I really thought I’d find a use for them.

Some ideas I’ve had but never acted on:

  • Gift them to my sister. 
  • Use as stocking stuffers. These gifting ideas are great, right? Nothing says “I thought of you” like a tiny watered-down sample of perfume.
  • Use to spritz checks and paper bills. Imagine the delight of a billing rep at Methodist Hospital getting a Marc Jacobs Daisy-soaked payment! 
  • Hope one scent becomes so rare that .0001 ounces would sell on eBay for enough money to pay one of the above mentioned bills.
  • Create a stand near a carwash for “Hi-Class Air Freshnerz 4 Ur Ride”. 
  • Keep a few in my purse as ice-breakers for social gatherings and long elevator rides. 
  • Collect enough to trade in for a plane ticket or laptop. I haven’t checked on any exchange programs so that one might have been more of a dream than an idea.

My most recent idea:  use the samples on myself, one day at a time, and see what kind of magic they bring.

I’m not a fragrance connoisseur, but there is only one way to become one. You start with the closest teeny tiny spray bottle.  Maybe I’ll be able to, you know, pivot and find work in the fragrance game.  I do like roses and peonies. I wear perfume (usually Nest’s Citrine or Elizabeth&James Bourbon or White) and I’m scent sensitive: one time I had to ask a coworker to not wear her perfume to the office that we shared. She told me her scent was Shalimar.  I looked that up online and fell in love with the commercials.   You will too:

and

See you tomorrow for my first full report.