Yin Hao, on occasion.

It has long been my belief that anyone can wear any fragrance anywhere, any time, as they desire. I have worn many a precious vintage extrait to the grocery store or gas station-- and conversely sported the cheapest, silliest scent in my collection to such formal events as weddings or gallery openings, with good results.

And yet I find I cannot just wear Yin Hao any old way. Like a piece of labradorite which appears dull grey from every angle but one, Yin Hao will only leap into spectral flame when the atmosphere is exactly right.

Yesterday afternoon, I climbed crickety wooden stairs to the hayloft of the antiques barn, there to poke through assemblages of the very type of oddities I love: silk parasols, Depression glass, novelty figurines, tarnished daguerrotypes, panne velvet, openwork crochet, blonde straw, Bakelite. The smell (dust, furniture polish, brittle yellow doilies, rotting leather) produced the most utterly perfect environ for Yin Hao. In this setting, as in no other, its "shameless" green jasmine glowed like a mystical jewel.

It's a rare perfume that requires such a precise alignment of propitious stars. Can you blame me for obeying to the letter?

Yin Hao is not an everyday perfume. One neither encounters nor wears such a scent often; it naturally clashes with the mundane. Nor is Yin Hao a modern perfume, though it was created only six years ago. There's something indescribably anachronistic about this peridot-colored liquid and the uses to which it is destined to be put. It knows neither chrome nor silicone; it moves at a pace we of today might find maddeningly slow. In fountain-pen ink on a deckle-edged note card stamped with Rennie Mackintosh roses, it inscribes a billet-doux from a forgotten past-- a strange and beautiful Brigadoon only visible in passing.