Clair de Musc (Serge Lutens)

The trial's hardly started. The prosecution has only just begun presenting evidence; the defense is hours away from making its rebuttals. It seems premature to send the jury out for deliberations, let alone for lunch. But while we idle in the gallery praying for recess, I might as well whisper my impressions of the accused.

Clair de Musc has so many elements that I don't like (white musk, white florals, cleanliness next to Godliness) that I ought to despise it outright. I'm certainly capable of keeping an open mind, but I find it hard to unclench my teeth when faced with so oversanitized a scent. It's the antithesis of the rich, animalic, spicy perfumes I prefer, and yet, am I being fair? Surely it hasn't been upon my wrists long enough to judge...

The path to understanding is best trod in someone else's shoes. What kind of person do I think I'd need to be in order to wear Clair de Musc? A bridesmaid. A beauty queen. A babysitter. A ballerina. Immediately I think of the Hunyak, the only innocent Merry Murderess to dance Chicago's "Cell Block Tango". Her pleading refrain echoes in my ears: Uh-uh.

You said it, sister. Case closed.

Scent Elements: Bergamot, iris, neroli, jasmine, orange blossom, sandalwood, musk

Serge Noire (Serge Lutens)

The first thing I thought was: Frankincense and aged Parmesan. The second thing I thought was: Burnt-black wicks and sooty smoke. The third thing I thought was: It's weird, but I rather like it. Others emphatically do not.

Why does Serge Noire attract so much hatred? Its musk is goaty, 'tis true, but not the ugliest of bugbears to afflict an otherwise decent perfume. Some perfumistas damn that dusty clove note by comparing it to the dentist's office; others praise it as the jewel of Uncle Serge's spice cabinet. The rest of Serge Noire is incense, warm wax, wood ash, and a shade of melancholy which I suppose represents the noire. I shrug; it doesn't trouble me at all. In fact, I place Serge Noire in the same category as Muscs Koublaï Khän-- a relatively meek fragrance whose terrifying reputation produces a sort of smiling bewilderment once you actually try it.

Look, everyone is entitled to their impressions, as well as to their subsequent expressions of delight or dismay. At times, the flood of abuse applied to a fragrance goes so over-the-top it reaches the stratosphere-- but then, so might the acclaim. The only alternative is to meet in the middle and say, It's weird, but I rather like it.

Scent Elements: Patchouli, cinnamon, clove, incense, amber, musk, woods

Parfum du Jour: Rare Mimosa (Henri Bendel)

Today I've got a method to my mimosa. I've had this slim little purse sprayer of Henri Bendel's Rare Mimosa for many a year now; I bought it from a thrift store (beats me which one, though I suspect it was Jennifer's) and have worn it whenever the occasion calls for a touch of goof. It remains the sole specimen of mimosa perfume that I tolerate, maybe even like; the rest mostly bore the tits off me, with several actually evoking honest-to-god disgust. Mimosa, you see, reminds me of babies and all that comes out of them-- shit, drool, reflux, cutesy gurgling sounds, and intermittent demonic screams. This troublingly infantile trait becomes even more pronounced when opoponax and vanilla join the play date. While you're at it, invite guava, peony, heliotrope, and lilac over and then we'll really have ourselves a time-- complete with baby powder, feather pillow fights, and a thousand tears shed over spilt milk.

Parfum du Jour: Harbinger (Soivohle)

I need to use up all these 1ml. Soivohle samples I've hoarded before they all evaporate. So today I'm wearing Harbinger, Liz Zorn's peach-and-café-caramel gourmand take on Mitsouko.

In contrast to Mitsouko's glimmering dawn, Harbinger projects a full-noon blaze well-suited to summer, when harsh moods like mine may be softened in an everpresent haze of blood-warm, sweetly-scented air. I appreciate this atmosphere today more than I can express. Sure, it's ninety degrees outside, but as we speak, a gentle, constant breeze is riffling the leaves of the sycamores outside my window and the sky burgeons with perfectly gorgeous billowing white clouds. The world is a hard place, and we have to take our softness where we find it.

And I'd rather July than January, I tell you what-- so I'm content.

Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate (Hermès)

I've hit the wall of fatigue, both in life and with fragrance. A brand-spanking-new perfume has been in my possession for-- what, three weeks?-- and I've formed no opinion of it whatsoever. I have nothing to say about it, yet still I feel I must bestir myself, and for what? For what?

Perfumer Christine Nagel must have begun working on Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate as soon as UK fragrance oracle SevenScent named rhubarb, tea, and rose as key notes for 2015. But it's 2016, and rhubarb, tea, and rose are last year's news, and so Eau de Rhubarbe Écarlate smells a little sad-- a clumsy attempt to be youthful and "on trend", as they say in the biz. Hermès ought not to stoop to ploys like this. They and their fragrances should stay as they are: crisp, patrician, middle-aged and riskless.

Scent Elements: Hesperides, rose, rhubarb accord, redcurrant, green tea, white musk