“Flacon de Parfum” costume designs attributed to “Madeleine Vilpelle” for a French music hall 

Over on TikTok this month, I shared a not-quite-a-review for a bland freebie from Sephora that actually gave me a lot to think about; I share a “get to know me in 10 perfumes“; and I give a peek into how I store my myriad perfume samples. And below are a handful of the things I smelled this month!

19.1 Neroli Ad Astra by Pierre Guillaume Paris is a galactic striptease performed by a dazzling spectacle of radiant holographic beings. ​​The opening is a burst of effervescent pear, the fruity flamboyant fizz of a champagne fountain in zero gravity. Showstopping neroli swoops in, opulent, heady with a teasing coolness, like a sheen of ice crystals on silvery spacesuit pasties reflecting the glitter and glare of a distant sun. There’s a green velvet gloved graze of herbaceous, rose-tinged geranium, a coy peep at jasmine’s rich floral sweetness, and the low cosmic hum of a soft, deep musk, anchoring the fragrance even as it reaches for the stars, a celestial burlesque performance amongst the glimmering expanse of forever.

RE: Tóor Tóor by Régime des Fleurs, usually, it’s a bit fraught with this brand; it’s an “oh, PLEASE, don’t be good!” ordeal because they are usually too good and TOO expensive. But. I needn’t have worried this time. I’m still in the early stages of trying it out, but my immediate and initial thoughts are that it’s like a vampire with a bizarre sweet tooth stumbled into a Precious Moment gift shop and drained all the sugary charm out of a figurine, leaving behind this twee, creepy, bloodless husk at the bottom of the trash bin, slowly dissolving in a puddle of garbage juice. The predominant notes of this unfortunate incident are of this anemic citrus and a wan, powdery floral, and the strange cloying rot, spoiled nectar, and sour candied sewage of something that might have been cute, once? Like the undead remains of a Sanrio character, maybe? I don’t know but it’s not good! Seems like my wallet is safe from you this time, Régime des Fleurs.

Annacamento from Toskovat is a fragrance that I have a difficult time picking the notes apart, but the overall creation is one that resonates with every fiber of my being. How could it not, with the melancholic poetry of its description referencing a kid seeing the sea for the first time…or maybe an adult seeing it for the last, and the observation that “If you look back at that beauty, you’ve most likely already lost it.” This sentiment reminds me of another similar one that I loved, evoking the fleeting purity of a moment, wherein Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, the narrator opines, “Beauty consists of its own passing, just as we reach for it.” The ingredients list citrusy elements in the form of fruits and herbs and a handful of bakery case items, alongside various woods and marine botanicals- and its overall impression is of a faint, sad sweetness that’s also somehow… not exactly fresh and not quite clean but some secret third thing that’s somehow adjacent. It’s a bittersweet dream you once had of sitting by the ocean and eating a small, cold dish of ice cream as the skies darkened to grey with the promise of rain on the horizon. As the tide rolls in, you realize that the dampness on your cheeks is not the brine of salty seaspray but streaks of drying tears, though you had no idea you were weeping or why that might have been.

Copal Azur from Aedes de Venustas  is a prophecy rustling on the wind, woven from copal and frankincense fumes that billow from temples guarding secrets older than gods. Meditate on these vapors of incense and antiquity, and you’ll find it’s a salty, bittersweet paradox, a wisp of sacrificial smoke laced with the unexpected sweetness of caramelized ambers. A sacred offering – a glistening, balsamic lacquered glaze burnishing a forgotten feast, a tang of something primal, both savory and sweet. A taste of eternity, a sticky fever dream forgotten ritual, clinging to your ribs long after the final swallow. The jungle itself seems to hold its breath as explorers, trespassers who believe they understand the weight of the past, navigate its sun-dappled heart toward the source of the scent. The air hangs heavy with it, a fat, golden sigh that twists through the foliage–which, wary of the intrusion, whispers not of secrets but of warnings from the dusty pages of history, hinting at unknown chapters these interlopers were never meant to be a part of. A golden condor soars overhead, its wings brushing against this intoxicating residue; it, too, is aloft on a dream of following the path of the setting sun.

Benjoin Boheme from Diptyque unfurls like a clinging veil of memory, a scarred ridge of sepia dreamscape where an ache of memories and ancestral yearning shimmers at the edges of perception. The heady, honeyed sweetness of balsam, benzoin, and amber mingles with the dry herbal whisper of rockrose, but it’s a displaced, disconnected twinge of borrowed nostalgia –it’s not yours, it doesn’t belong to you, this dusty incense of melancholic longing, and yet it’s tethered close, entangled with damp, earthy tendrils of patchouli and a woodsy musk,  Beneath it all, a static unease hums like the feel of cobwebs brushing against the skin, like your reflection as it fades into the darkness behind you, like glimpsing the subject of a gauzy, blurred antique photograph and looking closer only to discover your own eyes gazing back at you from across time.

Dirty Rice from Born to Stand Out conjures a gorgeously lensed photo of aspirational bathtime, a clawfoot tub of opaque opalescent milky bathwater (but not in a Saltburn way; this is more like a meticulously curated, aesthetically pleasing Pinterest board of self-care fantasy photo milky bathwater kind of way) with hundreds of fresh, soft petals floating on the surface. It’s the woody-floral sandalwood bath salts perfuming the water, the sweet, creamy almond musk of soaped skin, and the intimate warmth of steamed air. It smells of subtle indulgence and casual luxury.

From Poesie’s Weekend in Paris discovery set

Au Vieux Paris opens with a gentle wisp of coffee, not the spine-straightening jolt of a morning brew, but the lingering aroma after a long afternoon spent in conversation. It’s the ghost of a perfect cup. As the fragrance settles, a delightful treat emerges – the unmistakable tang and sweetness of a homemade preserve, something like red currant and rosehip jam, filling a barely-there pastry where the real star is the summer-bright, ruby red jelly. In a twist of olfactive alchemy, it is no longer the quaint cafe scent of a sip or a bite to savor but the elegant poetry of a classically beautiful perfume wafting from a sophisticated shop window. It’s a wearable memory that captures the essence of an ambrosial Parisian afternoon in a single, unforgettable drop.

Champs Elysées is a scent for those who see the world through rose-colored, cat-shaped spectacles. In alternate reality Paris, there is a tearoom where you’re urged to give a soft, secret handshake to a sentient cloud of cherry blossoms. Puffs of petals clinging to your fingers, you’re whisked through a tiny rose-trellised door to a pastel Hello Kitty wonderland, where you’re immediately greeted with a towering plate of buttercream sandwiched macarons in every shade of rose quartz and baby pink. A mismatched porcelain tea service is spread before you, mischievously clattering cups of pink lemonade and strawberry milk tea. You realize with a sip that you don’t need a single cube of sugar.

La Vie en Rose — Cicely Mary Barker, as far as I can tell, never illustrated a peony version of her flower fairies, but that’s what I envision with this fragrance, especially since pear and rose notes together in a fragrance always brings to mind the dewy floating floral of peony blossoms in a way that’s both bright and delicate, rosy and soft, with the ephemeral fizz of a spring breeze. If that flower fairy existed, and if she were taking along a signature scent for her weekend in Paris, she would smell of La Vie En Rose.

Marché aux Fleurs is the embodiment of when people say “stop glamorizing the grind and start glamorizing whatever this is” and what it is is Frog and Toad dressed in their dapper corduroy best, perusing a riotous profusion of blooms in a Parisian flower market, little webbed feet slipping through slick cobblestone puddles on a drizzly spring afternoon.

Montmartre, a clandestine gem in this collection, embodies a twilight tryst beneath the city’s soft glow. A whisper of stolen moments, the soft musky warmth of a forbidden embrace, the bitter mystery of absinthe kisses, and the provocative perfume of hidden gardens revealing itself in the illicit magic of secret thrills.

Rue Saint-Honoré – Imagine a Parisian fashion week gone deliciously astray. Step through the portal of an elegant oaken wardrobe onto a runway where the cashmere is woven from brittle threads of vanilla honeycomb, the leather-look boots are actually carved from warm, toasty hazelnuts, and the tiny details on the lavishly embellished clutches are intricate burnt sugar swirls. Would you believe this decadent spectacle fits cozily into an aromatic sandalwood box? “Bite-size haute couture gourmand-adjacent opulence” is a mouthful of a summation for this fashion statement in the whiff of extravagant indulgence.

And finally, I have a little sampler from Dark Tales Perfumery. I ordered a few of the usual suspects I know I will like, woody, incense, or green stuff, and so far I have only tried one: Medieval has notes of lavender, some other florals, black musk, sandalwood, and myrrh. I think the lavender and musk give it a slightly leathery quality, but overall, it paints a shadowbox woodland picture in shades of gray, etched with something desperately melancholic, like this excerpt from Barry Eric Odell Pain’s poem, Ainigmata: 

What could they tell us? We see them ever—
The trees and the sky and the stretch of the land;
But they give us a word of their secret never;
They tell no story we understand.
Yet haply the ghost-like birch out yonder
Knows much in a placid and silent way;
The rain might tell what the grey clouds ponder,
The winds repeat what the violets say.

If you like this kind of somewhat gloomy, dolorous poetry–which I obviously do–this poem goes on and on, you should look it up.  But alternatively, if John Koenig’s Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows had a scent, it would 1000% be this.


If you enjoy these fragrant musings, or if you have ever enjoyed or been inspired by something I have written, and you would like to support this blog, consider buying the author a coffee?

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