Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest post by my friend "Jicky"

Jicky is the nom de plume of a dear perfume sniffing pal, also known on this blog as FF.  It was she who helped me expand into the greater perfume universe, and it was at her lovely home that I encountered The Different Company, L'Artisan and Serge Lutens for the first time.



I received my first perfume gifts when I was 16. One was from my mother: it was a Christian Dior Dioressence talcum powder/perfume set; the other from my best friend Martine: Paco Rabanne’s Calandre.

Let’s start with Dioressense.  I can still remember the packaging—the most beautiful shade of blue, combined with white and gold. I loved everything about it—unfortunately they reformulated the perfume, so  it has now landed in the dustbin of history. I used to sprinkle my pillowcase with it, and have sweet dreams about the French teacher I was in love with (never fall for your first love—that’s a lesson to remember). The perfume had a lovely milky floral smell.

Eau de Calandre. Everything about the perfume was cool, from the sleek modernist packaging to the simple stopper. And oh, it smelled so late 60s-70s: fantastic. Just loved that decade. It’s a really unusual perfume, slightly sweet, metallic, minty and spicy. Reminds me of all the 70s icons, Grace Jones, Jerry Hall, Bianca Jagger, and of course, moi, when I wear Calandre

Some other memorable perfumes: My mom’s gold-colored Estee Lauder Private Collection perfume set. She bought it in Italy and it came with this lovely powder box that had a giant pouf for dusting. The powder was a classic.  It gave you a golden sparkly tone and smelled divine. And alas, they no longer make the powder which I liked even more than the perfume. My mom used to lock it up in her drawer along with her stache of forbidden books, such as Erica Young’s Fear of Flying, and Roth’s novels. Of course, we all raided her closet, read the novels, and helped ourselves generously to her powder. As for the perfume, I remember it as a typical Lauder floral oriental, very well crafted. Not sure this perfume has aged well. Still it brings back nice memories.

I also remember Karl Lagerfeld’s pastel orange colored body cream that came packaged together with his eponymous perfume—it was the perfect shade of baroque orange, and it smelled so strong you could literally kill everyone a mile away. I once made the mistake of wearing it to a seminar. I noticed some classmates looking strangely at me, others less so. I will never make such a faux pas again, but I still have vicarious pleasure thinking about how special it made me feel, even if some of my puritan minded classmates had murder fantasies. They no longer make this perfume. And yes, I believe it’s because I wore it to seminar.
My last reminiscence: Jean-Louis Scherrer’s Nuits Indiennes. So lovely, but the bottle—tacky. It looked like it had walked straight out of a Las Vegas casino—emerald green with gold sparkles, and an oriental minaret tower that graced the box. It was a spur of the moment gift for my mom which she loved. I remember it as lovely floral oriental, with nice silage. Compared to the candy confections they make today, this perfume was brilliant.  I am not sure why this one was discontinued. The packaging perhaps?
My most memorable perfume experience. I happened to be in Paris two summers ago and this impeccibly chic woman in front of me was wearing the most incredible perfume. I just remember walking rapidly behind her. All I wanted was to be enveloped by her lovely silage. I had to walk very fast because she was in a hurry, or perhaps she was in a hurry because she thought I was stalking her. I like to think of it as Perfume X, worn by this mysterious stranger. If there is a perfume god(ess), please help me relive this experience, and discover out the identity of this perfume.

If I had to list my all time favorite perfumes, they are (not in order of preference).

Chanel's Les Exclusifs: 31 Rue Cambon (I’d like to be embalmed in this one—fantastic)
Chinatown (a coup de genie) (Bond no. 9)
Verte Violette by L'Artisan Parfumeur
Aimez Moi by Caron
Le Labo Iris
Serge Lutens La Myrrhe
Gucci's Rush

I really like Miller Harris’s L’Air de Rien and TDC Bois D’Iris on my friend Carol aka Bloody Frida (even if LAdR smells hideous on me)

My list can go on, but for today I will limit myself to these 7.

As for the worse perfumess ever smelled:

Etat Libre D'Orange's Secretions Magnifiques--the sinister smell of toxic chemicals, a cholera clinic on a hot day, or just pick anything that will make you gag.

Even though its many people's favorite, I have issues with Lauder's White Linen--I hope I don't insult anyone, but I remember it as a sexless perfume, very Hillary Clinton/Madeline Albright-esque, i.e. worn by the woman in power pant suit and sneakers, the one who cracked the whip if you mispelled a word.   

PS:  On the fourth of July, Jicky was in attendance at dinner and since you know that sniffing perfume has to happen when two perfume-loving people are together, I pulled out a box of samples and had everyone (except my Mother who refused) sniff Secretions Magnifique!  Per usual, most of the women hated it, and most of the men thought it was nice.

Hope you enjoyed Jicky's first guest post!!  I sure did posting (and reading) it!


  1. testing testing - Angela said on FB she tried to post a reply, and blogger wouldn't let her

  2. Welcome to Jicky! (On the commenting issue - this is why I switched to wordpress last year. People seemed to be having a great deal of trouble commenting on my blogspot blog. We'll see if this comment makes it!)

    Interesting that Private Collection seemed like a floriental to Jicky - it is (and has always been, whatever might have changed in the formula) a green floral, with galbanum and pine and a woody drydown...

    You might remember, BF, that I wore (and loved) Karl Lagerfeld Chloe all through my teen years. Wonderful stuff! I was dabbing from an edt bottle, so I doubt I was overapplying. I hope that was the case, anyway.

    La Myrrhe is SO gorgeous.

  3. Very much enjoyed your perfume reminiscences, Jicky, as well as your list of all-time favorites (and your not-so favorites, too...hee!).

    A lovely post all-around!

  4. Welcome, Jicky!

    I recently bought vtg Dioressence decant. It smells so lovely... Sometimes, when I smell a great perfume that has been discontinued, I want to cry.


  5. Wonderful memories, Jicky and thanks for the post BF.

  6. Just wonderful. Thank you, Carol and Jicky, for this personal history in scent.

  7. Jicky just let me know that blogger ate her reply!! I'll attempt to post what she emails me - let's see if that works (darned blogger!)

  8. Hello Jicky (great name!). I loved reading your post and your memories of perfume. I lament the passing of some truly great fragrances. I loved, loved, loved Calandre. It is one of my all time favourites. Green, clean, a perfect scent. Also adored KL. What a wonderful rich perfume. I look forward to future posts. Thank you.

  9. (from Jicky last night) Dear all,

    Thanks for your patience. Unfortunately, the blog got hungry and ate up my first blog.

    First , I’d like to respond to some of your comments. Thanks so much for sharing them with me. I totally agree that Private Collection is a green floral. I tend to lump all the perfumes I like in the floriental category; my perfume vocabulary is not sophisticated enough to differentiate different perfume types, but the good news is I am learning. Obviously Carol is a great help on this front.

    The other day I tried on Private Collection again at Dillards, and it has lost some of its magic . Perhaps they reformulated it, or perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me. The way you remember a perfume and what it actually is like are two separate things. This is a bad analogy, but I used to love eating Hershey chocolates. As a child I thought it was fantastic. But as an adult, I no longer experience it the same way.

    The Lagerfeld perfume I referred to was not the orange colored Chloe but a similar orange colored perfume by the name of KL. It is no longer in production, but still can purchased on ebay. Ditto with Nuits Indiennes. I will have to save up to purchase both (the prices have escalated as they are now considered, discontinued vintages). Had I known this would happen, I would have stocked up a warehouse.

    I realize that most of you collect perfumes, but there is another aspect of perfume collecting that I wanted to mention: perfume bottles. I recently purchased Christie Mayer Lefkowith’s Masterpieces of The Perfume Industry. http://www.amazon.com/Masterpieces-Perfume-Industry-Christie-Lefkowith/dp/0970180004
    I highly recommend it: its bound to become a classic. The book contains information on more than 1300 perfumes, and has beautiful color pictures of more than 500 flacons, dating from the late 19th century up until the 1950s. Many of the perfumes and perfumers featured in this book are historical footnotes—they are no longer are made and I have heard of very few of their creators. The book speaks volumes about the refined aesthetic of a bygone era. Paging through this book I felt very much like the main character of Woody Allen’s recent Midnight in Paris: a sense of nostalgic romanticism. My favorite bottle in this book is perhaps (its almost impossible to say which is my favorite, as all the flacons are just breathtaking) is Jovoy’s “Gardez moi.” (pp. 421-422) I will conclude by summarizing what the author has to say about it, as I believe its not just an appropriate end for today’s blog entry, but also food for thought: (p. 257: “ Jovoy, “Gardez-moi” (or “Keep Me”) is a masterpiece of design. The Baccarat black crystal flacon appears to be an angular panther statuette(…)In ancient Greek literature, the panther was believed to exhale a perfume breath to attract her prey, and the same word, “pardalis” meant both “panther” and “courtesan”. The presentation included a small card instructing “Gardez-moi, je porte Bonheur” (or “keep me, I bring good luck”). The perfume could imply a provocative play on words or a sweet wish. The flacon was presented upside down, with its neck and stopper concealed in the base of the box. When the top of this box is removed, the four sides drop outwards, dramatically revealing this most unusual gift.” Sweet dreams, everyone.

  10. Oh, KL!! I had forgotten the orange packaging. Yep, that one was loud.

    Aren't those old flacons gorgeous?


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