Friday, November 27, 2015

Tackling A Classic: Must de Cartier by Cartier (1981)

Must de Cartier is a bizarrely maligned classic, the maligning mainly stemming from Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's perfume guide which sums it up as smelling like cheap Russian chocolates. To this day that is the one review I truly and utterly disagree with them on. If you can love Angel then really in my head you have no ground to stand on. But let's actually get onto the perfume.

Must de Cartier has a complicated history, when Cartier released they also had a day version to go with it, the day version wasn't popular, but the evening version lived on. I remember reading somewhere that this was supposed to be Cartier's response to Calvin Klein's Obsession. Obsession is a scent that Must gets frequently compared too but to my nose they don't share a whole lot other than being in the Oriental family. For me Obsession is heavily dank spicy musk where as Must is well a composition of a different sort.

Must de Cartier is combination of green and elegant galbanum and narcissus and rich caramelized ambered woods with a whole lot of delicious tonka bean. There are hints of leather in the scent and to my nose also hints of delicious cherry pipe tobacco. I suspect that is the tonka bean playing with another note.

For me the genius of this scent is the use of galbanum and narcissus, this pairing of intense green notes with the caramelized woods creates the effect of making sure the heavier notes don't get out of hand. Must is no doubt an intense scent but those green notes give it an air of earthiness that lets it go beyond the usual sexy vavavoom-ness that we associate with the Oriental family. It is a cerebral oriental, it's not understated, but their is brain behind it.

What I find interesting is that to my nose it is the clear predecessor of two fairly well-loved scents. Dior's Addict before the reformulation and Fifi Chachnil's Fifi Chachnil. The likeness of Addict and Must de Cartier are found in the drydown where there is a definitely resemblance with the accord of amber, tonka bean, and vetiver being used but where as Must uses leather to anchor the notes, Addict uses heavy calorie vanilla to anchor the scent. The resemblance to Fifi Chachnil is also with the accord of amber, tonka bean, and vetiver yet I would also add I think Fifi gets some inspiration of using coriander in the beginning from the galbanum used in Must, the use of coriander provides that fresh green citrus note that lets the scent not get drowned out by the heavier notes. Ultimately, the divergence of Fifi is the much more prominent use of tobacco and rose in the scent.

Let's take a moment to also talk about reformulation. My Must de Cartier was bought somewhere in the mid 2000s at this point I know many spoke of it being reformulated yet it had not been reformulated to the point of being another perfume considering I have decant of the vintage parfum which it most definitely is akin too. The vintage parfum is gorgeous and a beloved for good reason, the notes richer, and more brocade like.

Try Must de Cartier if you like Dior's Addict, Fifi Chachnil, and Nicolai's Le Temps d'Une Fete.

First image from Makeupalley
Second image from Art Odyssey

Monday, November 23, 2015

Best Perfume Reading of the Week Part 1

So I love reading about perfume as much as the next fumehead and I thought why not share the reviews or ideas that throughout the week catch my interest.

First up Tresor Prijs lovely and personal review of Serge Luten's Bas des Soie at Fragrance Daily. I've never thought to try to locate a sample of this one by Tresor has me very intrigued.

The continuation of a great animalics series over at Fragrantica Part 1 and Part 2.

Shout out to Chez Pajama because she is the one really willing to go out on a limb and try it all. Her reviews are fun, short, sweet, and to the point but with plenty of experience behind them.

The reviews for Enfleurage's Sanctuary, Rose, and Amber over at Now Smell This.

EauMG's Autumn Bath and Body Picks I am intrigued by all of the carrot stuff considering my new found love it due to Cognoscenti's No.19 Warm Carrot.

And the release of this.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Elegant Bohemian: Vol 870 YUL-CDG by Monsillage (2014)

Sometimes I forget what a good elegant scent can do, for me it has the power to make me feel put together, not ostentatious, but like your own skin is perfectly fine and everything is clicking together. The thing about an elegant scent to me is that it must like feel like a melange of notes, no note is above the others, and yet there is a defined story. I know that is a lot to require out of a scent for it to be considered elegant and I admit there is a lot of Chanel influence in that assertion but that is how I define elegant scents.

On the other hand it is even harder to find an elegant scent with quirk, quirk is rather hard to describe but for me it has to be that note that strikes out and brings something new to the conversation but at the same time is utterly smooth in its compelling addition. Well if you are looking for a sort of unique contrarian elegance then I think you probably should seek out Monsillage's Vol 870 YUL-CDG. Vol 870 YUL-CDG is a bit of a wonder because perfumer Isabelle Michaud created a classic elegant scent that I would feel comfortable wearing at an elegant soiree or a bohemian retreat.

The beginning of Vol 870 YUL-CDG is all about the the osmanthus absolute for me. I adore osmanthus so I am always excited when I see a perfumer take the note and go in a different direction with it. Frequently osmanthus is paired with tea or used as a supporting player, but in Vol 870 YUL-CDG Michaud chooses to let osmanthus star. This is an osmanthus full of dried apricots and hinting at the resinous note that you smell in osmanthus absolute it is lovely and warm so different from other floral notes that once again I am reminded that I find shocking that it is not used more often in perfumery. There is a tannic quality to osmanthus that keeps the sweeter wine like qualities of it in check, it is the sort of scent that balances out the cold sweet of ylang ylang with tannins of black tea and the delicious tartness of dried apricots, it is one of the most naturally layered and complex notes you will ever run across.

What enters next is a rather genius pairing for osmanthus, the notes of balsams. I grew up on a ranch that was high enough in elevation that we had a variety of fir and pine trees and one of my favorite things to go do as a child was to play with the sticky fragrant sap of those trees much to the annoyance of family. Vol 870 YUL-CDG pairs osmanthus with pines and firs, the resinous and balsamic notes play beautifully with the osmanthus creating an elegant but frankly adventurous scent. The mingling of forest and ripe fruit is sensuous yet clever. The woven pairing of osmanthus and balsams play for hours on the skin, the fruit receding with time, and the drydown containing hints of musk, amber, and vetiver. It is a smooth blending that creates warm woods quality on the wearer.

Try if you like Ormonde Jayne Woman, Sonoma Scent Studio's Jour Ensolielle, or Le Temps d'Une Fete by Nicolai.

first image from
second image Moki Mioke

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Momentous Life: The Five Accords of Ideasthesia and Ideasthesia by MikMoi (2015) (Scent No.4 of the Elegance series).

 Recently MikMoi released five accords and the perfume Ideasthesia. I was lucky enough to be gifted by the perfumer with a sample pack, and as of the last month I have been wearing and thinking about the Ideasthesia project. Recently this last weekend I was able to sit down with Mik and discuss the scents and here is the funny thing as much as we talked about notes and scents, I still came away from our conversation having the exact same feeling  and thoughts about the scents that I had before going into the conversation. There was a few clarifying notes, but otherwise one of the nice qualities about Mik and his perfumes is he simply allows the wearer to bring their own experiences to the perfume. Diversity is one of the cornerstones in his perfume philosophy.  As I have worn and smelled the accords that make up Ideasthesia and I should mention that these accords are in their own right fully made perfumes, there is nothing missing from these scents when you wear them.

There are stages to life and sometimes they do not necessarily come in the order most known but they do happen.I have been struck with how much these accords remind me of these life stages

The first accord and probably the most on the nose one for me is Birth. Birth is a scent that lovingly references the Southern European and Middle Eastern tradition of scenting babies with orange blossom water and it should also be mentioned that this scent is frequently used for brides. This is probably one of the best orange blossom scents I have smelled in awhile, while it is definitely supported by citrus, and juicy citrus at that the scent reads to me deliciously of rich fresh orange blossom. It is a full orange blossom scent, in the likes of L'Artisan's long gone harvest series. At certain stages I almost read an earthy incense note in Birth that reminds me of the ceremonies involved in blessing children. The final drydown for me is a lovely honeyed orange blossom, it's not sweet, but hints are true orange blossom honey that contains frequently just a hint of branch. The depth and tenacity of Birth are excellent for citrus orange blossom scent and it remained with me all day. It is a wonderfully uplifting scent.

The next accord is Breath, Breath is easily for me the stage of childhood. Tt is a wondrous green happy scent that suggests exploration and a sense of curiosity in the world that I think at times is the most strong in our childhood. There is a wonderful opening of spearmint and grass, I sort of forget that spearmint is a note that can be used in perfume, but there it is naturally sweet and bright in Breath. The combination of spearmint and grass reminds me of getting up early in the morning when I was child and exploring the world in the summer while everyone was asleep. Breath for me is that sort of bright shiny exploration of the natural world, it is lolling in the grass, and really looking at the greenery around you. There is a lovely fig note that runs through Breath that provides a green milky backdrop to the scent along with a fresh dose of petitgrain that I feel references Birth. 

The stage that follows birth and childhood is a I think one that is far more universal in our older years but definitely only comes to us with puberty and that is the state of romantic awakening. I'll say it now I fell in love with North. I fell in love with it enough that I bought a bottle on the spot. North is romantic radiance, a crystalline melange of floral notes that I usually run away from, but in Mik's hands are exquisitely rendered. There is just no getting around the romantic beauty of North the use of jasmine, tuberose, and rose is a bit of a trifecta of culturally considered romantic notes. Yet, the thing that makes this so utterly wearable and perfect for me is the use of geranium. Geranium doesn't get enough love, but when used provides that bright luminous quality that I frequently associate with aldehydes but geranium does it more kindly, gently, and with just a hint of stemmy crushed greenery. There is a luminous quality to North that suggests glow of when you first fall in love, the one that everyone comments on because frankly you are obscenely happy. North is about as close as I have ever gotten to finding the olfactory equivalent of romantic awakening in a bottle.

The next stage of life is a bit blurrier to understand but we all go through it. I think at times it is one of the longest stages, the age of getting to really know yourself. This is the part I think is the most varied for everyone for some it is the finding of true identity, for others coming to peace with your actual inclinations, or for some a recognition of how you are a singular creature no matter all our connections. I find this stage in the Known accord. Known is a smoky pinon sort of scent, it suggests incense and arid landscapes. It is philosophically pushing to that area in our lives where we learn to make choices on our own. I think the smokiness of Known suggests the birth of identity aka the phoenix from the flames, this is not necessarily a painful process but is none the less a process of fulling recognizing who we are beyond the boundaries of our childhood. The incense and woods also suggest spiritual growth but on our own terms, it is the passage of one stage of life to the next, I want to say adulthood, but I feel that doesn't full encapsulate the process of knowing yourself because it is a continuing process.  Known is the scent of independence of thought.

The final accord is Found. Found is the scent of finding the familial in our lives as adults. It is an earthy spicy comforting scent that at the beginning reminds me of quite frankly of cinnamon oatmeal cookies, but this is not a gourmand. The spices in this are hot and strong it is akin to grinding your own spices at home when making spice breads. As Found mellows the scent takes on hint of almond and a deliciously warm slightly furry musk. The musk is utterly comforting, not clean, nor funky but familial. Found is ultimately the scent of getting a hug from a loved one, it is that moment in our adult lives where stability and community intersect, it is deliciously kind and strong..

We finally come to Ideasthesia a scent meant to be an accord of the accords. This is obviously the most layered and complex of the scents and I think in a way represents a life well lived. It is a scent meant to draw on all the aspects of the accords. What it becomes is a scent to my nose akin to the classic Nuit de Noel by Caron. They don't smell alike but in Ideasthesia Mik is able to get that grand layering of floral, gourmand, and incense that I smell in Nuit de Noel. The scent of Ideasthesia is the clear fresh white florals of Birth and North punctuated by the smoky incense of Known at least that is what the scent was on me most of the time. On other days Ideasthesia was a sweeter scent with Found playing a greater role with the floral notes adding a bit of spicy sweetness to the florals, At other times Breath would up the fresh notes and make the opening a bit galbanum tinged giving the scent an even more classic quality. Ideasthesia has proven to be a bit of a chameleon scent depending on the temperature of the day you can get so many different qualities, each wearing seeming to play upon one facet being stronger than the other.
Ultimately the art that reminded of the most of Ideasthesia is David Bowie's song Thursday's Child, a song about life and experience through the lens of age.

Birth Image: Joy St. Clair
Breath Image: Peach Blossoms—Villiers–le–Bel, ca. 1887–89
Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)
North Image: Ryan Pickart
Known Image: Mickael Jou
Found Image: Puung