Parfum du Jour: Un Jardin Après la Mousson (Hermès)

Why wear it? The weather's getting warmer, the scent of flowers has begun to fill the air, the sky is full of birds on the wing... it's spring.

What does it do? In its milky-spicy-greenish way, Après la Mousson captures that moment after a thundershower when the emerging sun dazzles the eye and warms the skin. I wouldn't say it's as heartfelt and affecting as La Chasse aux Papillons by L’Artisan Parfumeur, but it gets the message of the season across.

How do I feel? Cheered somewhat. My husband bought me a light, portable folding lawn chair so that I can spend my lunch hours sitting under a shady tree in the park adjacent to the library. It really helps to be able to watch clouds pass and imagine that our earthly troubles will do the same.

Parfum du Jour: Hindu Kush (AbdesSalaam Attar)

Why wear it? I'd used it up nearly to the bottom of the sprayer, and I wanted to experience that last smoky quarter-milliter before it evaporated.  Plus, a branch visit from the Wicked Witch happened to be on the menu-- and I needed all the courage and resilience I could muster, olfactory or otherwise.

What does it do? Ears high and nostrils flared, it fixes you with an unwavering glare and ever so slightly curls its lip to show you its teeth. One false move and it will spring. Do you want to try your luck?

How do I feel? Impervious to witchcraft.

Parfum du Jour: Try and guess.

Why wear her? Because she is not taking any nonsense today.

What does she do? First she slams her purse down on YOUR desk, whips off her mink, and flings it at your face. You work for her, not the other way around. While you struggle with a coat hanger, she swans into her office and loudly declares that she's never known a fresh cup of coffee fail to be on time, unlike you. (This despite the fact that you're half an hour early to work every morning, smile fixed precipitously in place.) You're desperate for a cigarette and twelve mai-tais, but it's only 8:30 in the morning. Is this what Katy Gibbs meant by success? Welcome to the big time, kiddo!

How do I feel? Invincible, imperious-- so of course I'm wearing Cabochard. Now take a letter and be quick about it. What do I pay you for?

Parfum du Jour: Marine Sel (Tokyo Milk)

Why wear it? Because I feel adrift at sea, and I need an anchor. Plus, I have an entire bottle of Marine Sel (plus some extra that JC gave to me) so there's plenty of it to spare. No rationing necessary; I can really go to town on this fragrance.

What does it do? With its curious combination of salt, soot, green grass and cold, fresh maritime air, Marine Sel offers more than the usual bonfire vetiver. Not that I don't love bonfire vetivers. Heck, I love all sorts of vetivers. Inky vetivers. Elegant vetivers. Brutal vetivers. Silvery vetivers. Pale watery vetivers. Tisane vetivers. Dark rooty vetivers. Wild west vetivers. Kinky vetivers. I'll stop now.

How do I feel? Like the salt of the earth.

Parfum du Jour: Le Troisième Homme (Caron)

Why wear it? Wow, that's a tough question. I'd hoped that with time, I might eventually be able to perceive the charms which every fragrance lover on earth seems to see in Le Troisième Homme. Unfortunately, time has only made it seem more insipid (in the sense of 'lacking in vigor or interest'). The guy who wears this is nice. Very, very nice. So nice that you want to needle him just to see him behave with something less than perfect propriety. If you tried that on Pour Un Homme, he'd belt you upside the head, and you'd deserve it.

What does it do? Not all that much for me-- but then, that seems to be par for the course with Caron. Let me tally it up. LOVE: Bellodgia, Infini, Parfum Sacré, Poivre, Yatagan. HATE: Farnesiana, L'Accord Code 119, Narcisse Blanc, Nocturnes. MEH: Aimez Moi, Eau de Réglisse, Nuit de Noël, Tabac Blond, Violette Précieuse, Yuzu Man. The 'mehs' have it-- and that's not good. I want perfume to make me feel something more definite and polarized than just 'meh'.

How do I feel? Like Caron is not so much a hit-or-miss house as a middle-of-the-road house-- and everyone knows houses don't belong in the middle of the road.

Parfums du Jour: Ambre Rayonner (Soivohle) and Ariane (Avon)

Why wear them? The morning began with blue sky, a flood of sunlight, and a chorus of joyful birds. Ambre Rayonner's linden blossoms perfectly suited such a golden, sun-washed April day as this. As the afternoon progressed and blue twilight settled across the landscape, I found myself feeling a pleasurable chill-- at which point Ariane provided me with a delicate, insulating shawl composed of rose and sandalwood.

What do they do? They play nice together. Very often, two fragrances clash at the meeting point-- but in this case, Ambre Rayonner's drydown segues beautifully into the opening notes of Ariane. How often does that happen?

How do I feel? Well-pleased with my lot, and indecently happy to have crossed the border from Patou-land to liberation.

L'Heure Attendue and Divine Folie (Jean Patou)

I'm down to my last two samples of Ma Collection, and I have to admit I'm a little burnt out on Jean Patou. The aldehydic chypre Câline truly exceeded all expectations, and as a Mitsouko variant, Que Sais-Je? isn't too damn shabby-- but otherwise, no winners. Just a series of scents of middling merit. Ah, well.

I've decided to condense my opinions on L'Heure Attendue and Divine Folie into one review because there's so little to say about either of them. Neither inspires a zut alors! from the depths of my being; nor do they provoke the critic in me to whale away at them with all cylinders firing. L'Heure Attendue reminds me somewhat of Samsara, if you traded the jasmine out for lilac and retained the sandalwood drydown. Divine Folie is a romantic rose bordered in awkward clumps of orange blossom, like a lace peignoir set that looks naughty on the hanger but turns inexplicably frumpy when worn by a living, breathing woman. Of the two, I obviously like L'Heure Attendue better, but not enough to give it its own post. Again: ah, well.

So now I'm done, honorably discharged, free to go. I think I'll go back to plain old Parfums du Jour for a while and wear some of my old favorites. I feel as though I've earned it.

Scent Elements: Lily-of-the-valley, geranium, lilac, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla, opopanax (L'Heure Attendue); neroli, orange blossom, jasmine, rose, iris, ylang-ylang, vetiver, vanilla, musk (Divine Folie)

Invitation (Jean Patou)

Sadly, I must decline.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, tangerine, cedar, sandalwood, thyme, mint, labdanum, oakmoss, musk

Colony (Jean Patou)

I've been wearing this one for several days, and I still haven't quite gotten the measure of it. It's clear, for instance, that Histoires de Parfums' 1804 George Sand (and, to a lesser extent, Milly-la-Forêt by Dior and Ladyboy by LUSH) derived inspiration from Colony. You couldn't get more pineapple-tastic than those top notes, and the chypre element embedded in the very center is vintage-smelling and delightful. But between them, you have to wade through yards and yards of flavorless, colorless acid candy, which is where I lose my taste for the whole enterprise. Weird me out as much as you want to, but please don't detour me through the Sour Patch.

Scent Elements: Pineapple, ylang-ylang, iris, carnation, oakmoss, vetiver, opopanax, leather, musk

Parfum du Jour: Orris Ochre (Soivohle)

Why wear it? Because my husband wore Grey Flannel today. After one embrace, I wanted his scent to remain with me all day-- but I also wanted to add my own signature. Liz Zorn's Orris Ochre has always struck me as a similar concept to Grey Flannel-- iris, violets and cedar, only backed with velvety suede instead of heathery brushed wool. Timeless, effortless, always a joy to wear.

What does it do? It lightly straddles the line between masculine and feminine, naturalness and artifice, simplicity and drop-dead elegance. I've worn it all around the town-- to work, to doctor's appointments, to art shows, to lunch. It fits in everywhere without even trying. I wish I had that talent.

How do I feel?  Filled with equanimity.

Normandie (Jean Patou)

This is a very serviceable carnation, not quite as enchanted as Bellodgia but still very nice. Its most remarkable feature is a cinnamon-liqueur quality that appears at the outset and keeps you compulsively sniffing your wrists until orange blossom and styrax turn everything into a Shalimaresque shimmery powder. If your senior prom featured a carnation corsage and a mini-bottle of Goldschläger tucked under your garter, you will feel right at home.

Scent Elements: Neroli, orange blossom, carnation, rose, iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, vetiver, styrax, moss, vanilla, musk

Parfum du Jour: Fougère Nakh (Soivohle)

Paris, April 1, 1922
A mile of clean sand.
I will write my name here, and the trouble that is in my heart.
I will write the name & place of my birth,
What I was to be,
And what I am.
I will write my forty sins, my thousand follies,
My four unspeakable acts. . . .
I will write the names of the cities I have fled from,
The names of men & women I have wronged.
I will write the holy name of her I serve,
And how I serve her ill.
And I will sit on the beach & let the tide come in.
I will watch with peace the great calm tongue of the tide
Licking from the sand the unclean story of my heart.


--Edna St. Vincent Millay

Adieu Sagesse (Jean Patou)

I didn't really believe Patou's hair-color hype when it came to Amour Amour or Que Sais-Je?... but as an auburn-haired woman descended from a long line of russet-tops, I really must protest about Adieu Sagesse. This is meant for a redhead?

Maybe I'm biased, but I expect a certain piquancy -- a verve -- from my type, and therefore also from anything marketed to my type. And Adieu Sagesse has not got it. It's wan. Faint. Sweet, I'll concede-- but a sort of diffuse windblown sweetness, such as one gets from a blooming garden four or five doors down. It's an atmosphere rather than a perfume. Chamade is a perfume, if cassis and narcissus are what you want.

And for getting what she wants in the end, commend me to a redhead every time.

Scent Elements: Aldehydes, bergamot, cassis, neroli, narcissus, lily, tuberose, rose, lily-of-the-valley, carnation, jasmine, vetiver, musk, civet