my occasional musings on life, love, art, perfume ... what else is there?


Please Read This While I Ponder the Meaning of Ambivalence

"There will not be peace until the terrorists learn to love their children more than they hate Israel."

Ambassador Dan Gillerman
Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations

[per Bela, the original quote is from Golda Meir (Israeli Founder and Prime Minister, 1898 - 1978) “We will have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us."]


Bésame: The Elegance of A "New" Look

It's easy to forget there once was a time of stricter style ... when a woman wore a hat and gloves simply to go shopping. When grooming meant carefully applied cosmetics and seamed hosiery smoothed over sleek calves.

I remember the scent of my mother's dressing table when I was about six, that off-limits altar with her lipsticks and rouges and powders. The look produced at that table certainly wasn't aimed at "natural." It was the artistry of attraction, a concerted effort to send a sexual message.

Bésame Cosmetics draws its appeal from that, and earlier eras. Its retro packaging and color selections are a determined pull back to the time when women unabashedly worked their looks.

*whisper* I like it. It feels very different, very new.

I've tried their loose powder, boudoir rouge and lipstick ... wonderful quality, and although the colors and textures are much different than I'm used to -- more matte, more velvet-y, a bit more intense color -- it's a nice, nice look. More finished, more polished.

And I love looking at the products, with their vintage goldtone and enamel cases, decorated with red chrysanthemums and tucked into red velvet pouches.

The scent? Well, until I can get hold of Bésame's new Rose Balance moisturizing lotion, I'm going with Frederic Malle's Lipstick Rose. Its violet/rose is the perfect fragrance complement to the era, and to these lovely cosmetics.

Many thanks to Bésame for their elegant products. If you'd like to see their full range, visit

Silk shantung "Bar" suit jacket, spring/summer 1947
Christian Dior Haute Couture (French, founded 1947)
Gift of Mrs. John Chambers Hughes,1958
Wool Skirt, executed in 1969 from a 1947 design
by Christian Dior;
Gift of Christian Dior, 1969;
exhibit of the Metropolitan Museum of New York


Is It Expensive? Keeping those Fangs Sharpened?

Women. You gotta love 'em.

Today's fragrance: I'm steeped in the lovely tea scent of Vivienne Westwood Anglomania.


Echo and Narcissus

In Greek mythology, Echo was a mountain nymph who loved her own voice.

In one version of the myth surrounding her, Echo falls in love with Narcissus, who rejects her because he thinks himself too beautiful for her mere love.

Echo dies of grief and anger.

But, before she dies, she prays that one day Narcissus will suffer the same pain of rejection inflicted upon her.

Eventually, one day Narcissus peers into a stream and falls in love with his own reflection, which he first mistakes for another handsome youth.

Realizing it is his own reflection, he grieves that he cannot fully possess that illusion ... and heartbroken, he dies.

Because all topics lead eventually to fragrance, there are two related to this myth ... from the fragrance house of Dorissima: Narziß (tarragon, royal sage, rose, atlas cedar, vetiver, tonka, fig leaves) and Goldmund (tonka beans, vanilla, iris root, rose, powdery carnation, benzoin, sandalwood, soft musk, balsam notes, Peru balsam, allspice), scents that take their name from the Hermann Hesse novel, Narcissus and Goldmund, a fiction derivation of the Narcissus myth.

The fragrances sound beautiful, don't they?

Painting of Echo and Narcissus by John William Waterhouse (1849-1917); text in large part from wikipedia.


It's Too Hot

I've heard Alaska is nice in the summer.

Today's fragrance: L'homme Sage (the wise man) by Divine, with notes of saffron, mandarin, cardamom, lychee, aromatic woods, immortelle, patchouli, oak moss, amber, incense.

I pulled this out thinking it might have something to do with sage, the herb. Silly me.

But what I got was a really nice, lightly bitter, nonsweet scent that suits the heat. Not a bad choice for a mistake.


Les Parfums de Rosine

When I undertook Les Parfums de Rosine ... thinking it would be an interesting study in a range of roses, I had no idea of the complexity of the house, much less the fragrances.

I think I better give you the summation up here, because I'm not sure how long I can hold you through the mass of Rosine fragrances: it's a rich and colorful pageant.

The house feels a bit incoherent, like its history, but it forms an extremely interesting tapestry of scent with a theme, for the most part, of rose. Many, many takes on the Rose.

If you have any inclination toward this note, at all, you will find something to like in this line (and I hope you comment on your experience of them).

Symbolism of the Rose (according to the Isle of Wight Gardens Trust)

  • The Roman phrase sub rosa ("under the rose") is derived from unspoken knowledge that when roses were painted or carved on a ceiling, anything said or done in the room would be considered confidential.
  • To the Persians, the rose was a symbol of life: its beauty the perfection we should strive for, its thorns depicting the difficulties we all come against, recurrent blooming representing that our efforts should be faithful, with the flower confirming that we will in the end succeed.
  • In the Middle Ages, the rose became the Christian symbol of Mary, Mother of God. It was also significant to Persians and Muslim Arabs who intensely cultivated it; when the Crusades began, the rose was a prize brought back to Europe where it then was cultivated.
  • Again in Christianity, the rose is symbolized by the rosary, the string of beads (possibly initially made from dried rose hips or carved from rose wood) used for counting prayers.
  • The rose became a secular symbol by the fifteenth century, one of human love but also of royal power, best represented in the War of the Roses with the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster united as the Tudor rose (a small white rose upon a red).
  • The rose to the Victorians symbolized love, but its varying colors spoke in the language of flowers: a yellow rose indicated "a decrease in love" while a white meant "I am worthy of you."

In 1911, Paul Poiret created the brand Les Parfums de Rosine in the name of his eldest daughter, technically making him the first French fashion designer/perfumer ... although he never affiliated his design house with the scents of Les Parfums de Rosine.

Initial perfumes were composed by Emanuel Bouler, Maurice Shaller and Henri Alméras (Shaller later created Carnet du Bal for Revillion (1937); Alméras created Joy (1930) and other fragrances for Jean Patou).

François Coty is said to have tried to buy the company, which did well until the stock market crash of 1929.

Les Parfums de Rosine brand was reintroduced in 1991 by Marie-Hélène Rogeon, who had previously worked for Givenchy and Pierre Balmain, with new fragrances created by François Robert.

Modern Rosine creations

Rose d'Ete
Initially a tart apple, it morphs into something synthetic and sweetly, rosily sharp. Notes of galbanum and bergamot, yellow rose, linden blossom, mimosa, lotus blossom, ambrette seed, musk.

La Rose de Rosine (original 1912, redesigned by François Robert in 1991)
Pretty, with a lovely vintage feel. Notes of violet with marigold and an indolic tinge of jasmine and ylang, also Damascan, Turkish, Bulgarian and Greek roses(!), musk, tonka bean, benzoin and balsam. Tovah of Basenotes likens it to FM Lipstick Rose; to me, Lipstick Rose is more powder, a bit softer .. while La Rose pushes its whole weight against you.

Ecume de Rose
"Rose foam" is a martini-like alcoholic scent quickly supplanted by a not-quite-aquatic but salty nonetheless "roses at the beach" feel. Notes include blackcurrant leaves and waterlilies, dune roses, attar of rose and rose absolut, strawflowers and St. John's wort, vetiver, amber and white musk.

Un Zeste de Rose
A circus of a sugary rose-citrus blend with mandarin, lemon bark and orange blossoms, bergamot, cedar, dried fruits, Bulgarian rose, tea rose, jasmine, rose absolute, gardenia, white musk, gray amber, smoked tea leaves. Chewy, I think. Like one of those orange-slice candies.

Poussiere de Rose
Step into a dark church of the Ancien Régime ... smell the wafting incense with its notes of rose, frankincense, tea and cinnamon. Still more notes weigh in: prunes, apricot and ylang ylang, before the fragrant dust settles into sandalwood, cedar, opoponax, benzoin resin, amber and musk.

Rosa Flamenca
Some heat with staccato notes of neroli, bergamot and mandarin, petitgrain, orange blossoms, honeysuckle, jasmine. Rose absolute's entry is delayed, and softened, with accompanying notes of figwood, sandalwood, white musk and benzoin resin.

Une Folie de Rose (a descendant of the vintage Rosine Coeur En Folie of 1925?)
A medicinal note -- that must be the convergence of bergamot and coriander -- is fairly quickly rescued from madness by the florality of ylang, jasmine and tea rose.

Mea Culpa
Diverging from the rose theme, a tuberose fragrance created in 1924 and relaunched in 1994. Do I dare mention Fracas?

Additional Rosines (not a complete list of all past and present Rosine fragrances)

La Coupe d'Or (original 1919, apparently redesigned by Francois Robert in 1993)
Notes of orange, cinnamon, peach, red fruits, lily of the valley, rose, sandalwood, amber, musk, vanilla.

Rose d'Homme
A rose fragrance for men with bergamot, citrus, patchouli and vetiver followed by vanilla, lavender and leather, jasmine, mandarin and rose.

Rose d'Amour
Ginger, galbanum, bergamot, aldehydes and rose bay, jasmine, narcissus and iris, moss, musk nut, pepper, vetiver, roseberry, chamomile, blackcurrant, rosebuds, turkish rose, sweet brier and raspberry leaves, sandalwood, iris.

Nuit de Chine (1913, originally Nuit d'Orient and created by Maurice Shaller when Paul Poiret controlled the house)
Includes a sandalwood note suggesting incense from ancient China; the perfumista Octavian has suggested that Nuit de Chine was the inspiration for Ernest Beaux's Soir de Paris.

Attribution and gratitude to


In Search of Pale Scents

As Seattle opens its arms to real summer (maybe I'll be less romantic about it when I start sweating), I'm seeking sheer scents, translucent fragrance that doesn't weigh you down.

This morning I have five fragrances on different parts of me ... and here's what I'm smelling (note all the fruit! This from someone who ordinarily avoids fruitiness!) (But this is pale, green fruit. That's different):

Jo Malone French Lime Blossom
Not acidic, but very dry herbal quality, with notes of lime blossom, bergamot, tarragon

Victoire Gobin-Daudé Sève Exquise
A dry green chypre with notes of orris, poplar bud, liatrix (also called deertongue) vetiver ... very, very subtle and very beautiful

Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier
Off-center but pleasing lemon/spice quality, with notes of lemon blossoms and leaves, neroli, white honey, Indian tuberose, iris, nutmeg, styrax, musk

Hermès Un Jardin sur le Nil
A bit bitter, tart bruised fruit with notes of green mango, lotus flower, aromatic rushes, incense, sycamore

Yosh U4eahh!
The sweetest of those I compared, with notes of pomegranate, pear, cucumber, water lily, aloe vera

Of course, you'd be the judge of what is most appealing to you in the heat. Me? The Sève Exquise is perfect. Perfect! A subtle veil, a mere shadow of scent.

(And the five mixed together? Wonderful. Not an overbearing note in the whole lot.)


On Edgy Comfort Scents

I've recently been wallowing in a wealth of new-scents-to-try, thanks to Suki of cognoscented ( )... I've carefully sniffed and I've taken notes, a lot of good that does.

I've come to the conclusion I'm not an analytical perfumista. I hope I can still hang onto the label of scent-lover.

I'm just one of those illiterate gallery-goers who doesn't know art, but they know what they like.

What I've recently liked are Les Néréides Imperial Opoponax (sweet myrrh, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, benzoin, citrus) and Guerlain L'Instant (citrus, magnolia, amber).

What I also like, but have found to be acquired tastes, are Les Néréides Patchouli Antique (patchouli, vanilla, musk) and Vivienne Westwood Anglomania (cardamom, coriander, green tea, rose otto, nutmeg, violet, vanilla, amber, leather).

Look at all those notes for Anglomania. Old Vivienne really takes you for a ride ... because you are going to be able to isolate each and every one of them. I'm not kidding. Speaking as someone who can appreciate a smorgasbord, I promise there's something for everyone in Anglomania. If you don't like what you're getting right now, wait a minute and something else will show up. Until, after a while, we're all sitting down to tea.

Of these four,the two I like best can be labeled "comfort scents," although L'Instant, to me, has a bit more edge with its citrus/magnolia component, a kind of sharpness before it settles into a soft, not-so-sweetness.

Imperial Opoponax is also a bit edgy for a comfort scent, in that there's a subtly dry bitterness to the myrrh that's almost entirely enveloped by the amber/ vanilla/sandalwood triumvirate.

Supposedly Seattle is going to join the rest of the country's heat wave in the next few days (We're gonna hit 90! Maybe!). The four I've described above will be perfect for rainy autumn. I need to dig deeper into Suki's box and see what's good for sweltering in.


Good Bucky!

I think I've mentioned that Bucky is fairly freewheeling in the obedience department.

Or at least he used to be. But he apparently is in an attaboy mood lately.

In the past few days, he has developed a strange need to have us View the Poop. Or, in this case, the Pee. He wants an audience, dammit, and we're it.

This evening, after dinner, he shows up at the side of my desk, looking enthusiastic. This usually means he wants something, so I got up and followed him. We walked past his food dish, and I noted he still had food.

He walked toward the door, looking behind him to make sure I was following. We walked past his waterbowl (full) and then he's at the door.

Still occasionally looking behind him, to make sure I was paying attention, he walks out into the backyard, practically gesturing with a paw to say, "Speed it up."

Mid-yard, he does his patented "Yes, I am a male but I'm not expending vital energy lifting the leg at this time" squat and I dutifully sing out, "Good boy! Good Bucky! Going Potty! Good boy!"

Thinking my work here is done, I almost turn back toward the house ... but he catches my eye and moves further into the yard. Now, I'm puzzled. What else does he want me to do?

We walk a few more feet and darned if he doesn't squat again. Doubling his body into a "U" as he watches me to make sure I'm watching him.

He finishes. Turns around and saunters away. I guess his work here is done.

This evening's fragrance (with gratitude to Suki): Serge Lutens' Un Bois Vanille. The most non-insipid vanilla-based fragrance in the world. For those times you need comfort (you were right, Clearing), but don't want to be a sap about it. And you don't want to smell like Mom's kitchen, if she ever baked. A smooth vanilla leavened by licorice, guiac wood, tonka bean, sandalwood. Perfect.

I Dream of Houseboats


I Pray for Israel

Jim has tried to warn me off this topic. I'm not a political blogger, he says, and that's true.

But look at that satiric map. Look at how small Israel is. Look at how much land is held by those who could have taken the Palestinians in ... who could have taken care of their brethren the way Israel takes care of its own.

And remember how hated Israel is. In some part because it is a sole outpost of western civilization, there in the middle of that sea of Arabs.

All Israel wants, all they have ever wanted, is that tiny strip of land ... and to live in peace. They are not empire-builders.

And remember that the infection of hatred now isn't confined to that region ... those who would bomb Israel out of existence would also like to destroy the United States and everything western civilization has created in terms of culture and advancement of humankind.

I ask all Arabs of peace and intellect to understand that they have a responsibility to themselves, and to all humankind, to contain and control what I hope is the small, violent, evil contingent that kidnaps Israeli soldiers and attempts to hold a world hostage.


Happy Bastille Day!

Explanation that even an American can understand is from Bryback Manor website:

Bastille Day is a national holiday in France. It is very much like Independence Day in the United States because it is a celebration of the beginning of a new form of government.

At one time in France, kings and queens ruled. Many people were very angry with the decisions made by the kings and queens.

The Bastille was a prison in France that the kings and queens often used to lock up the people that did not agree with their decisions. To many, it was a symbol of all the bad things done by the kings and queens. So, on July 14, 1789, a large number of French citizens gathered together and stormed the Bastille.

Just as the people in the United States celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence as the beginning of the American Revolution, so the people in France celebrate the storming of the Bastille as the beginning of the French Revolution. Both Revolutions brought great changes. Kings and queens no longer rule. The people rule themselves and make their own decisions.


High Water in a Summer Doldrum

Yesterday I opened my gmail to look for emails from a favorite scent reviewer ... there was one (yay!) AND there was also an official looking email from a research professor at a small college in Iowa ... seeking data on women's online relationships.

This was interesting. I took the provided survey -- which attempted to gauge the depth/ breadth of online relationships compared and contrasted to "real life" (what's that? Kind of like a land line) relationships.

I'm betting a lot of my fellow bloggers will be getting that email and we'll all get an opportunity to assess for ourselves how important the cyber-relationship has become to us.

For me, extremely important. In completing the survey, I realized I have one intimate "real life relationship" and eight (!) intimate cyber-relationships with women. All those relationships have become emotional cornerstones for me.

Each is important to me in their own way ... their personalities are all so different. Most of the relationships have grown over a period of years -- beginning with interaction on a perfume board.

I've learned some of the things that gratify them, their aspirations, aggravations, fears, obstacles. They know mine. They're located all over the world ... and I find I get edgy if a week goes by and I don't at least read their blog, or send/receive an email checking in.

The perfume board that germinated these relationships is an interesting story, too. One of three primary outlets for people interested in scent, it is a source of entertainment and dismay.

In the three years I've belonged, I've learned a great deal about fragrance ... many of the posts were tutorials in fragrance definition and content.

Sadly, to me, that board has also become the weeping board and off-topic playground for a few incredibly self-centered individuals who -- and I'll never understand this -- reveal exhaustive details (usually boring, sometimes high drama) of their lives ... and go to the extent of asking for advice about what they should have for lunch, how they should get their hair cut, what dress they should wear for a specific function, and how they can begin/maintain/end an affair/relationship/hookup. This must be part of sorority life I missed out on. And why I wouldn't have cut it in that environment.

As a venue for online relationships, apparently one of the other two boards is also having a period of flux. Recent changes in the board's subscription framework, which included demotion of a certain class of posters who proudly wore the badge of "most excellent perfume maven" (I made that up) has resulted in pages of back-and-forth on what the board means to them, what their contributed content is worth, how much their input is valued versus the board host's commercial objectives.

A point is made in that back and forth that illustrates what can be a nebulous quality of a cyber-relationship: you can get so caught up in what you believe the relationship to be that, without feedback, you may find that you are very mistaken about what the relationship actually is:

You saw yourself as a valued contributor, providing substantive content ... the board ownership sees you as another click, another number that can be used to acquire sponsorship from which they derive financial benefit. You got emotionally hooked in somebody else's commercial venture.

This is where I think my cyber-relationships are different. In growing them outside the commercial structure of the board that germinated them, they have become truly personal. We are much more to each other than a click on an advertising link.

I'm looking forward to the results of the study -- I believe it is attempting to find out whether true intimacy can be found in a cyber-relationship. My answer would be yes. But the confounding aspect of cyber-commercialism doesn't seem to have been factored into that equation. Maybe it should have been.


Hospital Food

In my life, I've worked in three hospitals and been treated in five ... and the most vivid recollection I have of any of them is bacon.

Why in the world would a medical -- or healthcare -- center, as they like to be known, allow that kind of food to be served? And take a certain obstinate pride in it?

Well, glad you asked. I have a theory.

Hospitals are grim, grim, grim. No matter how much pastel paint they use, or colorfully abstract art they post, or soft lighting they employ, the fact remains that people are there because they're sick or damaged, or they're visiting someone who's sick or damaged, or they actually work with the sick and damaged.

The hours are awful -- shiftwork at its worst. Usually 7-3, 3-11, 11-7 ... the kinds of hours that, no matter which shift you've pulled, you're tired and gray/green-skinned at the end.

With the exception of pink-cheeked, hyper-thin, well-established cardiologists, nobody looks good. They look bad, they feel not-so-hot and they want some comfort, dammit.

Enter the bacon.

A hospital cafeteria -- at least the ones I was familiar with -- specializes in comfort food. Today, there is at least a nod toward healthful eating, with the obligatory salad bar (note the sneeze shield).

But for the most part, heavy carb-laden "American" food is what's served, on demand. Deep-fried, breaded, caramelized saturated fat heaven. Heavy on the beef and pork.

And breakfast is the best. I mean worst. Where the worlds of two shifts collide, the smell of coffee and the fat of bacon seep into your pores whether you're in the cafeteria or taking the elevator up with carts of food for the units ... where the smell is bound to worsen the nausea of the already ill.

But if you're working in that life, used to it, there's nothing that signals normalcy more than that smell. It's the sense of normalcy imparted by this food that's so important. It's linkage to the world where you're not seeing horrible things every time you turn around. It masks the authentically awful hospital smells.

It reminds you what you're immersed in isn't normal.


It's A Good Excuse, and I'm Sticking with It

I'm kind of a Ms. Malaprop -- words are my playthings and I play pretty rough. Some of my friends kindly correct me when I misuse fancy words; some are even kinder and blow past the semantics-in-error and let me continue in my belief that I'm the most articulate babe on the block.

However ... even if I didn't have that unfortunate malaprop tendency, I'd be in trouble, writing-wise, right now.

Has anyone spoken to you of Mercury in Retrograde? Starting July 4 and continuing through July 29, you probably shouldn't believe anything anybody tells/writes/ phones/emails you.

Don't sign contracts if you can help it and, for God's sake, don't write any love letters.

The planet Mercury, which governs fleet feet in general and communications specifically, is a balled up trickster right now.

So, if you're having trouble writing a grocery list, have just offended your five closest friends with an email that seemed fine to you but highly offended them, feel like you're talking with cotton in your mouth because people have trouble understanding anything you say and generally sense your snafu-to-success ratio is pretty high right now, there's the reason.

You don't believe in all this? Ok. Just take a look at what happens in the next two weeks, and let me know how it goes.


To Tell the Truth

How much truth is too much truth? Just a meandering thought on a slow-brain day.

How much veracity do people really need? Don't all of us prefer a little fantasy with our information? A little embellishment, a little embroidery, a little elasticity of the verbatim, to cut the grit of real life?

It's a thin line between authentic emotion and the artful emoting that becomes literature, painting, photography. A writer, a painter, a photographer never tells the literal truth.

I try to always know where the truth is, even if I choose not to write it. I think the danger comes when you're not aware of the boundary ... and move forward blithely in your work, never knowing when you've slipped past true into false.

In your work, or in your life.

Heads Up by Alden Mason


Being A Pain in the Back

I wish I had something witty to say, but I'm too busy being dopily sorry for myself ... I guess I sprained a muscle in my back when I stretched to prove I could reach the top of the door jamb. Show off.

So, my regimen of muscle relaxants and diet Coke seems to be working ... along with the stinky medicated patch strategically placed on the owie.

I told you there was nothing witty to be read here. Move along, move along. (I hope you'll come back later when things might have improved.)

still: Allene Ray in The Fortieth Door, Pathe Studios, 1924

Fragrance of the day: Eau de Icy-Hot Patch with notes of camphor, menthol and salicylic acid. Yum. And the sillage is significant.


Generational Witchery

Too bad about all that bad PR witches have attracted. You'd think with the magic powers, there'd be better press relations.

As a third generation witch myself, I'm just sick about the way we're portrayed in the media. I mean, all that stuff about kidnapped kids and gingerbread houses. Never happened. Hans Christian Andersen alone did us such a disservice. Sad. Sad, I tell you.

If you only knew how careful we have to be. I mean, one negative thought bounced at, oh, a politician and WHAM! Bad luck for six years. We keep our thoughts to ourselves. And leave it to the political bloggers to attract all those negative vibes.

No, mostly we deal in love spells.

Even then, it gets tricky. Mustn't wish anything bad for old boyfriends-that-did-you-wrong. Live and let live. Karma -- which is different from witchery -- is the broom that sweeps the universe clean. What goes around comes around.

We can only wish you well. Admittedly, our wishes pack a bigger payload than yours do. But only positive thoughts ... as my grandmother used to say, if you can't cast a good one, cast nothing at all. Good ole Grammy. Now there was a witch.

Mother was always a bit stick-in-the-mud about it. And look where that got her. Modern day Hester Prynne. And she and Grammy never got on very well. Hope they're doing better in the hereafter.

Anyway. I just noticed that the blog had taken on a negative political tone and thought I'd better step up and compensate.

I'm pretty busy taking care of the Discovery Shuttle -- and news just in: apparently those North Korean missiles didn't do too well. Too bad.

But, heck, it's a holiday. I could do a little extra. Got anybody you want in love with you?

Independence Day 2006

American deaths: 2,535
American wounded: 18,490

Let freedom never perish

in your hands.
~Joseph Addison

photo montage of American war dead


Ambre Russe: A Not So Near Miss

Prequel: Well, I learned a lot from this post. I'm pretty sloppy/lazy with the technical aspects of perfume description: the chemistry and tangible sources of the scent. What interests me about perfumery is the emotional evocation and I'm sticking to that from now on!

But the discussion was very interesting.

Clearing adds the following:

"Ambergris, once obtained from humble whale vomit (?) can be sort of replicated by a mixture of the following .... different forms of vanilla, several types of rose oils, sage and vetiver. (I believe DSH** makes this blend replication ...but I'm not sure) ... The whole amber/ambergris/precious resin discussion leads us in circles every time. Every amber or ambergris oil in my possession is synthetic, and I didn't know that until I spent a lot of time at mua. A useful place with lots of smart women and one man."

My second favorite fragrance note is amber ... wonderfully defined by Bairn (who also credits Clearing for the definition): "In its concentrated form, it smells very thick and sticky, like maple syrup or sugarcane molasses. In blends it can either give a fragrance a certain depth - it can bring out floral notes twice as potent as they'd appear otherwise - or it can become a bit appley, too, like sweet, dried apples. It's normally a very nostalgic scent."

Amber is solidified tree resin, once found mainly in the Baltic regions. I remember my parents-in-law bringing me the obligatory amber necklace when they visited the former USSR, and the illustration to this post is the original Amber Room (circa 1938, before it was destroyed by the Nazis and subsequently reconstructed after the war, as a matter of great national pride) of Tsarskoye Selo, the Catherine Palace.

Today I'm wearing Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe, with notes of vodka, cinnamon, coriander, tea, incense, leather on a base of amber. The vodka/cinnamon/coriander/ tea notes are too prominent, giving a perfume-y texture that I don't much care for. I'm hoping for reassertion of the incense, leather and actual amber notes, as they seem to in Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan, a fragrance of which I'm much more fond.

The symbology of amber is that of time lost, a small being (dragonfly or other insect, as well as flowers and plant life) found encased in an amber capsule, transcending life and time.

As Bairn noted, nostalgia is somehow connected to this scent. As if sad for what has gone by, as one was suspended motionless, fully preserved and lifelike, although life long since had absented itself.

I don't think Ambre Russe is a good example of this fragrance genre. SL Ambre Sultan is, or even the unrefined Attar Bazaar Persian Amber ... but not this -- albeit beautifully perfumed -- amber fragrance-manqué.

*edit: please be sure to read the commentary below by winterwheat, bela and Bairn for clarification on amber-the-stone versus amber-the-scent versus ambergris-the-scent!

**interestingly, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz defines amber as " An earthy, warm resin note with an aroma that is reminiscent of brown sugar, vanilla and wood."


Above The Pink Door

July 1 means Rabbit, Rabbit!

And Happy Canada Day to our northern neighbors!

Oh, Canada!

Today's fragrance: again, thanks to Suki, Songes by Annick Goutal with notes of frangipani, absolute of ylang-ylang, absolute of jasmine, absolute of vanilla. I think somewhere in here, the jasmine takes a twist toward the faintest tinge of eau de babypoop. Indoles, the wicked indoles. The only AG I have ever loved is Eau d'Hadrien, the crispest, most beautiful citrus fragrance in the world.