Mighty like a rose.

As my pal Nan and I have wended our way through Carol's Bag of Wonderful, it has come to my attention that neither of us have stopped to smell the roses. By this, I mean that we both instinctively avoid the perfumes whose names suggest a predominant rose note. Standing over that fragrant tote bag, heads together like two ten-year-olds contemplating a shared stash of Hallowe'en candy, we find that a mutual wince passes between us whenever one or the other picks up a rose perfume and holds it aloft. Said perfume invariably gets chucked back into the shadowy depths of the tote bag, untested.

Conclusion: rose perfumes are the molasses-flavored BB Bats of fragrance.

Well, that's not entirely fair-- nor is it accurate. A lot of people like rose perfumes. There are several I myself adore-- Parfums de Nicolai's Balkis and Creed's Fleurs de Bulgarie, to name two. But even in my own backlog of perfume samples, roses routinely get bumped to the back of the line. Last night, I gathered together all those rejected blossoms and gave them my undivided attention. Here are the ones to which my nose said "yes"-- the "no-no-no's" will follow.

Early Roses (Téo Cabanel)
Promo Copy: "Just close your eyes and picture yourself walking leisurely in a rose garden still bathed in a delicate morning dew..."
Scent: Don't mind if I do! The trick to a successful rose perfume appears to be moderation; this one exercises it admirably. A sweet and peppery tea rose with a nice bit of tonka tagged on and fairly low sillage, Early Rose suggests the bashful bud rather than the full-blown flower-- and who says that's a drawback? Appropriate for those who love the rose note but want to keep it all to themselves, whether out of greed or consideration for their fellow man (who might not harbor the same enthusiasm for this flower).

Scent Elements: Rose, jasmine, pink pepper, amber, woods and musk

Rose Absolue (Yves Rocher)
Promo Copy: "For women who love the very best in a floral fragrance..."
Scent: I don't know that it's the 'very best', period; I'm not even sure it's a 'floral fragrance', as it comes across as much more of a gourmand. But I liked Rose Absolue the most of this bunch-- quite possibly because it smelled the least like a natural rose. I take Rocher at its word when it claims that it utilized only the best and purest natural rose essences, but it's super hard to tell with all that apple pie on top. Still, who am I to turn down pie?

Scent Elements: Cinnamon, apple, Turkish, Bulgarian and Moroccan rose ottos, patchouli, tonka bean

Now here are the roses, wilted and dried, which left our noses unsatisfied:

Zephir de Rose (Parfums de Rosine)
Promo Copy: "(A) fresh and soft summer morning... an English rose emanating an anise fragrance..."
Scent: "A fresh and soft slice of focaccia emanating a fennel-and-pesto fragrance" would be closer to the truth. Clearly a result of its support elements having extremely strong associations with popular Italian cuisine, this rose seems hardly a rose at all, but an appetizer. Apply to skin, and loved ones will assume you had a sausage sub for lunch.

Scent Elements: Bulgarian rose, anise, basil, ambrette

Elisabethan Rose (Penhaligon's)
Promo Copy: "Imagine a premier cru champagne, frothy and gorgeously light, softly fizzing, shot through with heady rose scented bubbles..."
Scent: Quick rule of thumb: the more florid the description, the less tolerable the actual fragrance. No matter how many chances I gave it, the blast of mildew that shot up from the top of this vial stopped me cold. Even when I forced the issue and applied it to my skin, Elisabethan Rose struck me as a scent so fusty that it could actually have been bottled in the sixteenth century.  Eventually -- a long time in perfume minutes -- it becomes more like a natural rose petal scent.  Sadly, the spectre of blue mold remains fixed in mind, spoiling all pleasure.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, geranium, chamomile, violet, rose, musk, amber, sandalwood

Nueva Maja (Myrurgia)

Dear Anonymous Fellow Perfume Collector,

First of all, I apologize for being such a pirate-- but you
really need to find a new hiding place. It's getting so that every time I go to Ye Olde Antique Barn, I know precisely which shoebox full of old doilies conceals your not-so-secret stash. First the Lanvin Arpège purse flacon, then the vintage Youth Dew, and now this. Change it up every once in a while, and I might not make off with all your best left-behind finds.

Another word of advice: carry some
money with you when you go antiquing. I'm not talking hundreds-- just a five-dollar bill should do it. I mean, I know you want to go home and check the eBay resale value before you make that crucial initial investment, but all they were charging for this full half-ounce bottle of vintage Nueva Maja was A DOLLAR FIFTY. Most people have that much change on the floor of their car. For want of a mere handful of quarters, you could be home gloating over Nueva Maja instead of me-- but to the victor go the spoils, etc. etc.

(I worry about you, Fellow Perfume Collector. I really do. Perfume is super awesome 'n' all, but if you're so broke that you have to hide secondhand shit behind
larger secondhand shit because you don't have A DOLLAR FIFTY to ransom it from captivity, then maybe your needs could some prioritizing. I know that's crazy talk. But you might want to consider it.)

However our circumstances, motives, and methods differ, we're probably a lot alike, you and I. We both know a good thing when we see it. One glance at Nueva Maja's bottle and label, and we knew she was both vintage and hip. (The original Maja debuted in 1921, but the
flamenca on Nueva's label is clearly a child of the 60's-- bouffant hairdo, mascara and all.) Her juice had lost its characteristic spinach-green tint, but while this caused you to hesitate (were you still fretting over potential eBay profits?), I proceeded to checkout undeterred by a little discoloration. Because the scent is what really matters-- and she (as I'm certain you know, and I apologize for tormenting you with needless reminders) smells ¡fantastico!-- like old-school Emeraude laced with sprigs of wild thyme from Málaga's Costa del Sol. In a world where perfume has to either be French or have a French-sounding name in order to enjoy street cred, Maja (along with its compatriot Tabu) shoots a clear and resounding goal for España.

Look, I'll make you a deal. If we ever come to face to face -- that is to say, if you catch me dipping into your stash, which is not likely as I shop like a NINJA -- we'll go out to lunch, share a few laughs, and I'll provide you with generous decants of all the fragrances I've wrested from you over the last year. You will see for yourself that Nueva Maja is the wearable essence of Bizet's Carmen, something that belongs on skin rather than on eBay. You will choose a brand new hidey-hole for your perfume purchase hopefuls-- or heck, you'll simply ask the nice proprietress to HOLD ITEMS FOR YOU. (She will. I've seen her do it.) And then we will call a ceasefire to this cruel and heartbreaking war.

See you at the Barn (just don't blink, or you'll miss me),


Scent Elements: Bergamot, lemon, lime, mandarin, gardenia, clove bud, carnation, jasmine, rose, iris, ylang-ylang, oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli, benzoin, balsam Peru, vanilla, musk

Les Heures de Cartier IV: L'Heure Fougueuse (Cartier)

From far off I am being approached. All around hangs a slumber on these halls as things yet unfathomed still occur. This fairytale will tell you last.

In 1995, the identical twin filmmakers known as the Brothers Quay released their first feature-length creation, Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream People Call Human Life. Based on a novella by Swiss author Robert Walser, Institute Benjamenta chronicles the slow disintegration of a 19th century German school for servants. The first fractures appear when Jakob von Gunten (Mark Rylance) arrives to enroll as a student-- but in truth, the Institute's fault lines run as long and deep as history itself.

The school's principal, Johannes Benjamenta (Gottfried John), is a foul-tempered bully fond of boasting about the graduates he has "hammered into Europe". By contrast, his gentle sister Lisa (la divina Alice Krige) is worshipped by the half-dozen students whom she calls her "young saplings", even though they all appear rather long in the tooth. They, like the Benjamentas, never set foot outside the Institute. We soon see why.

"There is but one lesson here, endlessly repeated over and over again," observes Jakob. "One will learn very little here, and none of us will amount to much... but perhaps there is some hidden meaning to all these nothings." I'll say. From attic to basement, the Institute itself seethes with magic untouched by the flow of ordinary time. Some rooms shimmer with nocturnal light from no discernible source; others open unaccountably into ancient glades alive with cicada song. Signs direct students "To the Deer Forests" but neglect to explain how such places could exist within a city building. Nobody bothers to ask, either-- silenced by another placard declaring, "Vorschriften Denken an Alles" (the rules have already thought of everything).

Even more remarkable than this school motto is the painting that hangs above it-- an anthropomorphic stag dressed in hunter's tweeds, carrying a rifle and leading several dogs on a leash. In fact, deer imagery abounds throughout the Institute. Antlers bristle from every mantlepiece. Primitive herd animals ramble across plaster walls like totem spirits from a misplaced cave fresco. Herr Benjamenta's walking stick ends with a stylized hoof, but his sister goes one step further-- her classroom pointer is crafted from an actual chevrotain's foreleg, delicate and dagger-sharp. (In a rare moment of transport, she actually cuts her tender palm on its cloven point.) In the foyer, a display case invites visitors to sniff a snow-white substance through two helpful nozzles; a sign identifies its contents as "Powdered Ejaculate of a Stag At the Time of Rutting Season".

What kind of crazy vocational school IS this?

I know that many before me have smelled L'Heure Fougueuse (the Ardent -- or Reckless -- Hour) and been transported to clover-rich meadows, fields of sweet hay, corrals full of horses all glossy in the sun, their necks and flanks radiant with good fresh sweat. Believe me, I'm not trying to be perverse; I would like very much to go to these places you describe. Certainly they'd be more wholesome than where I've ended up. But one cannot help one's own unique bent, I suppose-- what leads some outward, leads others inward. Me, I spray on L'Heure Fouguese and suddenly I'm standing in the foyer of the Institute Benjamenta, confronting head-on that vitrine full of crystallized stag scent.

Bitte schnüffeln, the sign reads. Please sniff. So I do.

Everything that perfumer Mathilde Laurent promised is here: the pastoral hay-and-loam note of yerba mate; a brisk black tea note fully worthy of the "four o'clock" appellation; a warmly animalic "horse's mane accord" boosted by musk and vetiver; the bright cleanliness of a classic chypre tempered with hints of leather, sweat, and pollen; a touch of coumarin as familiar and private as one's own skin. But then there is something -- Ingredient X, if you like -- a down-dirty pheromonal funk not quite identifiable by origin, but fully recognizable for its aphrodisiac effects. This accord manages to sustain an interminable high pitch of tension, like an imminent sneeze, orgasm, or nervous screaming fit that never quite commences, or a storm that threatens all day to break but never manages to get underway. You wait for it, bet on it, BANK on it-- biting your lip and wringing your hands all the while, praying for release. Will you ever get it?

In the same manner that Serge Lutens' Daim Blond evoked for me all the kinks and twists of one very particular psyche (that of Elisabeth of Bavaria, AKA the notorious Empress "Sisi"), L'Heure Fougueuse summons Fräulein Lisa Benjamenta in her entirety-- outer stillness, inner storm. The lone doe under the perpetual surveillance of an all-male herd, dominated utterly by her King Stag of a brother, she holds herself rigid both in posture and emotion, saying and betraying little. But that is only during the day. By night, she implores a blindfolded Jakob to find her by following her body's warmth and scent-- then, sweating and weeping, sews steel thimbles along the backbones of her dresses in penitence. She is the restless ghost that haunts the Institute, as well as the noctilucent glow that illuminates it.*

This quality of light is important to both L'Heure Fougueuse and the Brothers Quay. If you have ever lifted your face to witness an errant sunbeam breaking through the gaps in a thundercloud, you know what I mean-- that fitful corona, wild and bright against a sullen blue-black matrix. Such light pervades the Brothers Quay's entire body of work and can be considered a hallmark of their vision, much as a certain olfactory accord may prove thematic to a perfumer's lifelong career. I wonder what it means to Mathilde Laurent. I may have disdained Guet Apens (AKA Attrape-Coeur) and only merely liked Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune, but L'Heure Fougueuse has stunned my nay-saying tongue into silence. I am listening now, and listening hard.

So: will relief ever be found? With this exquisite torment, would I ever want it to be? Ever since I received this generous decant of L'Heure Fougueuse from Suzanne, I find that I have reached for it most on days like today-- when storm clouds tower and the air is electric with uncertainty. Like Fräulein Lisa Benjamenta, I pace the maze-like corridors and rooms of this fragrance ceaselessly, finding riddles -- if not answers -- as I go.

*For a unique olfactory viewpoint on this quality of light, read this exceptional article by Lisa U. Marks, currently Dena Wosk University Professor of Art and Culture Studies at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, lavender, yerba mate, vetiver, magnolia, "horse's mane accord", oakmoss, coumarin, musk

Unrequited Love & Toast.

Ever stumble across a perfume by accident and blithely pass it up, only to find you can't evict it from your thoughts once you leave?

The other day, my spouse and I took a quick day jaunt up to Princeton to hit the Record Exchange. Having just completed a 72-hour at-home ambulatory EEG (an experience I urge no one to try, unless you hate to shower and plentiful electrode burns fry your burger) I felt so grateful to be out and about I could have cried. After loading up on cheap used DVDs and music, we roamed around town in the delicious June heat, finally detouring into Mandalay Trading Company, a unique eco-boutique for anyone who thinks Ten Thousand Villages is too corporate.

Here, I discovered a Love & Toast display and parked my nostrils over a tiny bottle of Honey Coconut Eau de Perfume. I clearly remember saying to my husband, "Oooh, this is really interesting-- buttery and sweet, and yet also weirdly kinky and subversive-- I'd love this on toast, all right--" but then (being obviously not in my right mind at the time) I decided to shine it on.

Rationale #1: it was too sweetie-pie-girly-girl for a 42-year-old woman, even one as marginally hip (I think) as me.

Rationale #2: that tiny bottle cost eleven dollars, which at the time seemed kind of steep, especially as we had yet to ransom our car from parking garage bondage.

Rationale #3: I have enough perfume already. Don't I?

Now, of course, I could kick myself. That stuff smelled amazing! Apply all of the adjectives I named above, plus 'mischievous', 'coy', and 'yummy'. Without being overly dessert-like, that honey note got me right where I live-- and though no coconut is listed in the scent notes, Honey Coconut captured the silty-salty-creamy quality of fresh unsweetened coconut meat that I adore. And for crying out loud, eleven dollars is only a two-dollar retail mark-up from what Love & Toast charges for this "Little Luxe" (1/3 oz.) splash version of their full-sized spray bottle. Heck, shipping and handling costs more than that!

The clincher: I had no idea Love & Toast was another love child of Margot Elena of Tokyo Milk. I have a sample set of Tokyo Milk's "Dark Collection" that I'm currently exploring, and I love Margot Elena's aesthetic with the same lobe of my brain that lights up for the Brothers Quay, Guy Maddin, Rasputina, the Squirrel Nut Zippers, Edward Gorey, Chris Ware, Victorian calling cards, and Godey's Lady's Book fashion plates.

Check my EEG-- you'll see.

Tova Signature and Tova Nights (Tova Borgnine)

Perfumistas, tell me if this sounds familiar. A friend gives you a full bottle of perfume from their personal collection. With a completely straight face and an air of apparent sincerity, they tell you that they really want you to have it because you appreciate perfume so much. Yet it's obvious that while it was in their possession, they never, ever, EVER used it.

What does that portend?

Today I'd like to tell you about a very dear friend of mine named T. (Note: her name is not Tova, and she is not the lady pictured above.) For over 20 years, I have known T. to be a mistress of deadpan mockery and the sly art of the shuck. If sarcasm were champagne, she would be its Veuve Clicquot. Her acid wit is fearsome, yet sure-footed; she knows how to tiptoe into a conversation and plant zinger after devastating zinger, then just as delicately retreat-- leaving you to pick your dazed self up off the floor. (When required, she can also cuss like a longshoreman with nary a blink nor a blush-- quite a nifty talent for a woman of dignified age and mien.)  I love her, literally, to bits.

Aside from our mutual addiction to satire, T. and I share a nostalgic fondness for vintage Avon perfumes in their kitschy novelty bottles. (If you're rolling your eyes right now, please know that you could do far, far worse than vintage Avon, while simultaneously paying far, far more. Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs, I'm looking directly at you.) She has gifted me with some stunners (including some delicious Honeysuckle Cologne whose bottle resembles a miniature beekeeper's skep, complete with a tiny, adorable golden bee), and I gave her my treasured "Little Lamb" filled with Topaze when she confessed that it had always been her favorite Avon fragrance.

A few months ago, however, she handed me some perfume so godawful that I wondered if I had done something wrong.

Tova Signature (1982) and Tova Nights (1995) both start off with a Windex-like top note fading to a-- well, actually, not fading at all. For half an hour, the segments of my arm that had been sprayed bore noticeable wet patches that refused to evaporate. In both cases, the consistency (oily) and smell (harshly chemical) reminded me strongly of Deep Woods OFF. In fact, if they're any bit as effective at repelling mosquitoes as that fabled camper's pesticide Avon Skin-So-Soft, I'd wholeheartedly recommend the Tovas to CampMor shoppers, who might find it good to know that they're fully swim-safe. (Not even ten minutes' worth of desperate scrubbing with the roughest washcloth I own could remove those petrochemicals from my skin, so you're probably safe no matter how turbulent a body of water you choose to enter.)

But enough about waterproofing. What about fragrance?

Well, Tova Signature is a flat laundry musk with a sepulchral air made even more bloodless by a sprinkling of moth-repellent lavender. I am reasonably certain that no woman with a pulse wants to smell like table linens laid away for the long term-- particularly not my friend T., who is a firecracker. (Seriously, she doesn't waste time asking "Do I dare to eat a peach?" She polished that sucker off ten minutes ago and has been gal-palling with the mermaids ever since, with NO apologies to T.S. Eliot, thank you very much.) Tova Nights is the same but a little stronger, as if designed to ward off a slightly larger class of moth. (I refuse to imagine that it could have been designed to attract anything.) It might possibly be construed as "sweeter" or "sultrier" than Signature, but by such a tiny increment that the distinction is almost as insulting to Tova Borgnine as it is to us. Honestly: this sad little degree of heat is the difference between sensible and sexy? What a depressing vision of womanhood!

Frankly, I'm glad that T. didn't wear these. I can't bear to think of my friend being fettered by the contents of either of these two bottles.

As our relationship remains as affectionately snarky as ever, I hold firm to my belief that the comic Muse was at work the day T. gave me the Tovas. As I've said, she is a bit of an old-school merry prankster. Knowing that I love to review a bad perfume almost as dearly as I love to review a good one, perhaps she gave me the Tovas in the same spirit that people sprinkle itching powder in each others' bathing suits-- you know, for laughs!

At least I hope so. Otherwise, girlfriend's got some explaining to do.

NOTE TO T: I adore you, truly I do.  But promise me you will never ask for these back, because I will not permit these travesties to re-enter your airspace.  You were right to be rid of them. Only the best for you, seriously.

Scent Elements: Lavender, jasmine, sandalwood, musk (Tova Signature); peony, lily, violet, lilac, rose, sandalwood, patchouli, musk (Tova Nights)

L'Ombre Dans L'Eau (Diptyque)

Maybe it's me. I could be delirious, delusional... or hungry. But does L'Ombre Dans L'Eau totally smell like salted dark caramels?

For the life of me, I don't smell even a smidge of rose or blackcurrant-- but if there was a caramel outfit comparable to Cherry Hill's Chocomize where they let you custom-load your own confection with smoked sea salt, dried green parsley, and celery seeds and then overcook the bastard to order, the air all around the factory would smell exactly like this.

You might think I'm saying I don't like it, which is far from true. But good heavens, just like caramels do, a little of L'Ombre Dans L'Eau goes an awfully long way. Use sparingly, and never in between meals.

Scent Elements: Blackcurrant leaves, Bulgarian rose

Ques d'Amour (Rose d'Or of Paris)

1961. A light green Chrysler DeSoto parks curbside in front of the Main Street pharmacy. A woman steps out of the driver's side door. Clad in a light spring coat, handbag hooked over elbow, she bends to check her lipstick in the side mirror and then straightens up, nervously patting the aqua chiffon scarf that hides her hair. She is dressed decently for shopping -- not for her the jaunt into town clad in a house dress, like some people she knows! -- but she hasn't properly set her hair and doesn't wish everyone to see how untidy it looks.

Anyway, today's she's operating undercover. She'll browse up and down the aisles of the pharmacy selecting a number of things she doesn't really need -- a box of bobby pins, an aluminum teasing comb, a new shower cap -- all for the sake of obtaining the one non-negotiable item. It was stupid of her not to lay in an extra supply last month, but the hour is upon her now and cannot be avoided.

If it were up to her, our lady would weep with gratitude to be home on the sofa clutching a hot-water bottle to her abdomen and nursing this wicked headache with baby aspirin and cold Coke. But no one else can run this errand for her-- not even her husband, Warren. Though he is perfectly capable of buying steaks and breakfast cereal at the supermarket, or nails and baling wire at the hardware store, this particular order would be quite beyond Warren. She'd never dream of asking him, intuiting that he would be far happier remaining in ignorance. Three children in eight years of marriage, and she still hides her "supplies"-- sliding the box of Tampax guiltily between the two least-used bath towels in the closet so that the sight of feminine realities need never offend her husband's sensibilities.

A glint of light sears her eyes-- sunlight reflected harshly off the DeSoto's windshield, reminding her this errand must not take all day. Still she loiters, loath to approach the counter, where instead of Mr. Loring the pharmacist one finds his clerk-- that odious Ripperton boy. Whenever he's on duty, asking for a simple box of tampons becomes an ordeal of sniggers and leers. She drifts instead over to a perfume display, doing her amateurish best to kill time until Mr. Loring returns.

A tray of sparkling glass test bottles invites inspection. Reflexively, our lady bypasses Evening in Paris (her mother's old perfume) and several others she knows she'll never receive as gifts. (Practical man, Warren-- on her last birthday, he bought her a Bissell Carpet Sweeper.) There seems little point and much humiliation in sniffing perfumes she will never own.

But what's this? Ques d'Amour-- now, what does that mean? Her high-school French escapes her momentarily in a ripple of nausea. Ah-- "a question of love", that's it. Funny name for something with not an ounce of romance to it. Even its bottle -- sturdy, square, thick-sided, with a black-and-gold foil label -- seems to caution shoppers to expect neither the lyricism of L'Air du Temps nor the elegant unconventionality of Vent Vert. Our lady remembers those perfumes clearly, having worn them aplenty in her pre-wife-and-mother days. The most she seems to wear now is Lux dishwashing liquid and the occasional, half-hearted dusting of rose-scented talcum powder before bedtime... She squints at the label. By Rose d'Or of Paris, it declares. She snorts. Paris? Piscataway, more like.

Yet a quick dab on the inner wrist stirs a strange, mutant hope within her breast.

Ques d'Amour is, of course, a cheap and commonplace drugstore scent trying to be L'Heure Bleue-- but it IS trying, at least. Instead of ethereal orange-blossoms, it starts with something more like orange-peel pressings, raw and sharp but lively to the nose. This is soon replaced by a humid whiff of green moss and earthy roots melting into a pleasant powdery carnation with just the right amount of blush to its cheeks. Now the ugly little bottle seems a deliberate diversion from the real truth of what it contains. Unprepossessing though it may seem, this perfume is more than what you expect it to be. It is romance, albeit thwarted; it is elegance, if only small-town.

Why shouldn't it try? Why shouldn't it aspire to something better?

Suddenly our lady is overtaken by an uncontrollable impulse. She glances over at the counter, where the Ripperton fool is too busy flirting with some local girl to take notice of anything else around him. She blinks, takes a deep breath...

...and neatly swipes the bottle of Ques d'Amour straight into her open purse.

With all the nerve she can muster she stalks up to the counter, interrupting the Ripperton kid's flow by plonking her merchandise down on the formica. He pushes himself back and begins to ring her up, punching at the register keys with exaggerated flourishes intended to make his female admirer giggle and his customer grit her teeth.

Finally he barks, "Anything else today, ma'am?"

"Yes," she says, lifting her chin and hoping it does not tremble noticeably. "A box of Tampax, please. No-- two boxes."

As usual come the sniggers. "Going to a party or something?"

The girl gasps. "Tommy!" she whispers.

On any other day, our lady's face would be aflame with mortification. But with the bravado of a walloping case of PMS (and the wages of her very first shoplifting spree concealed safely in the depths of her purse), she fixes him with a Medusa-like glare.

"You don't know what they're used for, do you," she says clearly and evenly. "You haven't the slightest notion how the female anatomy works. Would you like an adult to explain it to you? I believe I have time."

The Ripperton boy's face and ears turn a preposterous shade of crimson. He fumbles two boxes of Tampax off the shelf, rings up only one of them, shoves everything (including her change) indiscriminately into a paper bag and pushes it across to her before making a beeline to the other end of the counter to occupy himself with something of pressing importance.

His young female friend, conversely, regards our lady with frank admiration. "Here, ma'am, let me," she says, holding open the pharmacy door so that the older woman can pass out into the afternoon sunshine.

Scent Elements: I'm guessing bergamot, iris, carnation, a touch of oakmoss, and no nonsense.

Hippie Chic (DSH Perfumes)

Blame it on Talitha Getty. From the moment Patrick Lichfield snapped that photo of her and husband John Paul on a Marrakech rooftop in 1969, the great migration was on. And not merely to points Near East-- anywhere new and unspoilt, really.

London, New York, San Francisco? Those cities were so old and tired, darling; used up and played out. Every corner teeming with kids from the suburbs, all those hippie-come-latelies newly arrived to demand their god-given piece of the countercultural pie.  It was all a fabulously wealthy trendsetter could do to stay one step ahead of the lumpen masses.  No wonder Talitha looked so tuckered out! She wasn't posing on that rooftop-- she was hiding!

If you look real close, you'll see she's giving us the finger.

Come on, honey, don't be hatin'. You can't blame the little people for wanting to live it up like rich Bohemians with no concept of a budget. We may not be able to jet off to Rio, Ibiza, Cairo, Tangiers, Kathmandu, Montserrat, or Bali. Hell, we may not even be able to get as far as Bonnaroo. But we can dress -- and smell -- as if we do.

All it takes is a smoky coconut accord that evokes a thousand nights spent sleeping on the world's most expensive private white-sand beach, the kind that can only be accessed with excessive bribery or a real estate agent on permanent retainer. Mix it up with some standard hippie-issue aromas -- incense and amber, plentiful and cheap -- and throw in a touch of Indonesian kretek cigarettes for an allusion to tastes acquired abroad.  Charge an arm and a leg for it, but make it smell like something you could buy on the Boardwalk.

The only problem?  You can buy it on the Boardwalk, and for a pittance.  But if you have money to burn, you might as well make it burn pretty.  Do that trust fund proud!

Scent Elements: Black coconut, spices, burnt sugar accord, nag champa, amber, ambergris, clove tobacco, patchouli