Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Borneo 1834 - My Holy Grail

Only a few perfumes have won my heart the moment they touched my skin; Tea for Two, Sycomore, Jardin en Mediterranee and Ambre Sultan.  

Then, there's Borneo.

Patchouli and I go way back to the small, square bottle of Spiritual Sky.  My dad hated the smell when I was a teenager and we began a cat-and-mouse game of him finding the bottle and dramatically throwing it out, then me buying another and wearing the oil defiantly.  I knew even then that patchouli provoked strong reactions in others and I liked that.

Fast forward to last year, right before Christmas. B-man and I went to Seattle for a little getaway. After becoming bored with perfume shopping at Nordstrom and Barney's, I found Borneo at Essenza in Freemont. The moment I smelled it out of the bottle, I fell in love. On my skin, I can only describe it as Perfume Porn.

It's not just the patchouli and dark chocolate foreplay that draws me to Borneo.  Nor is it simply the smoldering wood and black licorice scent of a one night stand.  No... it's that roast beef drydown that just gives me chills.  Sometimes, I call B-man in the middle of the day to say, "no one has ever smelled better than me."

Borneo plays with my senses - all day -telling a story of love, darkness and pleasure on my skin.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Layering Ambivalence

I suck at layering perfumes. Well, I might actually be brilliant at it, but in general, I'm too big a coward to wear two perfumes at once, certain I will leave the house thinking I'm all that until I realize I smell like pee.

Here are a few layering ideas I have experimented with lately (on paper strips only, not on my skin):

Knowing/White Aoud
Narcisse Noir/Sycomore
Parfum Sacre/Black Aoud
Jolie Madame/Paloma Picasso

My inner critic - and resident buzz killer - says, "why on earth would any self respecting perfumista layer Borneo, Sycomore or Black Aoud, which are masterpieces in their own right?"  

I know, I know.  Jeez. 

For one thing, I've got all of these perfumes that are first and second runners up in the daily rotation.  Honestly, I'm not sure what to do with them beyond giving them away, using them for room sprays or wearing perfume to bed every night (been there, done it).  Plus, layering seems a creative way of breathing new life into 'meh' perfumes. Let's call it Scent Reincarnation.

Whatever the reason, there is only one combination, so far, that I know works on my skin: Hermes Hiris and Mentafollia by Guerlain.  Both perfumes are a tad annoying on their own (Hiris is a bit dour, Mentafollia a bit "here comes little miss peppy"), but together the combo is spring-ish and minty, with a mud-and-sticks undertone. It simply works.

My perfume layering experimentation is sure to continue and one day very soon, I swear, I will gather my courage, take the plunge and "spray on a pair." 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Note to my Mother

My mother was the first perfumista I ever knew. Naturally elegant, she was a city girl who fell in love with a country boy. Even in the early days, when she and my dad were just getting by, presenting herself well was important. So was smelling good. 

To keep up with the most recent trends, she read magazines and watched TV, then she shopped thrifty and came up with stylish solutions to everything; dressing, housekeeping, decorating...and perfume. Mom was beautifully out of place, wearing Chanel No.5 and Youth Dew in a small farm town where Avon was the hottest thing going. Estee Lauder perfumes became her favorites because of their provocative sillage and lasting power. She understood the art of making an entrance and leaving an impression.

Mom survived breast cancer in the 70's. Azuree was her signature scent and she wore it proudly before and during her hospitalization. After her chemo and radiation, she was never able to wear it again as it carried too many memories of that unsettled time.

Just recently, I added Azuree to my own collection, ready to more fully appreciate the citrus top notes, the roughed up leather of the heart notes and the mellow, sunshine-and-woods of the base notes I remembered. As it turns out, Azuree is beautiful as ever, and instead of reminding me of her illness, it reminds me simply of her: tenacious, surprising and vulnerable.

My mother died one month and three days ago. This blog is dedicated to her.


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