OH MY GOD I LOVE, LOVE THIS !! ( that mutually fantastic moment when you find a person their perfect, soul-tailored, made-to-measure perfume…..)

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It has been a great two weeks. Off from work, cherry blossom viewing in Tokyo; piano, films, exhibitions, lying around doing nothing, finding vintage perfumes in antique shops, my kind of time. Quite sociable as well: although these days D and I seem to be swapping our traditional extroversion/introversion ( I am now, in some ways, veering more towards the latter, finding social situations a stressful bind, while he is Mr Bonhomie), we have intermittently been catching up with old friends, acquaintances, and enjoyably for me, I am pleased to say, made some new ones as well.

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Image         me the f**ng poser

and the

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d in Tokyo

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I was a bit worried about Sunday night, though, as a whole bunch of people I didn’t know were coming round for dinner;  friends of Duncan’s and their friends as well, and I didn’t know what to expect. In any case, we put on a decent spread of food, the people came, and, as it turned out, everyone got on like a house on fire. Fortunately, my ‘Japanese sister’, Aiko, daughter of our landlords (though I think of them more as my J-parents; they live next door) was home for the weekend, and she had come round earlier to help with the food preparation, which immediately put me more at ease – it’s like being with family.

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me and Aiko

I walked down the stairs and into the kitchen and there it was – a quivering, disturbing, beauteous jasmine lingering in the air – ah yes, she is wearing Serge Lutens Sarrasins today, her own perfumed holy grail, one I introduced her to and one that she immediately begged her husband to order for her from Paris for her birthday as soon as she smelled it. Funny how a scent that I love in the bottle, but which smells so wrong on me, should become so resplendent on Aiko, but then this is often the case :  we realize that we don’t really even know a perfume’s true potential until we have smelled it on different people, and this I truly understood on Sunday night when, as you might expect, we all headed upstairs to the perfume room after dinner, and amid much raucous hilarity, proceeded to raid the perfume cabinets and sample boxes.

I do find the process of picking out a perfume for someone I hardly know quite fascinating. Of course the guests were free to look and spray, but I find in general that people are just too overwhelmed to know where to begin and wait to be guided, and I am more than happy to oblige. Going on intuition, their physicality, their persona and skin, I can usually come up with something quite good, even a perfect hit sometimes if I also go with the counter-intuitive gamble and choose something shocking    ( ‘I wonder if….’), although I can just as easily choose something very wrong – hippie Oz professor Frances despised Guerlain Herba Fresca, and Parfum d’Hermès smelled immediately ridiculous (too powdery, flouncy, ballgowny) on Buddhist sophisticate Joan, though speaking of balls, I then found myself on a strange whim going for the extrait of Bal à Versailles, almost as a joke (” why don’t you try this opulent skank-fest for size”) and the unanimous verdict was that we had hit the jackpot:  we all gave the thumbs up straight away to this one-  you know when a perfume works, and this was WORKING: yes it was erotic, and warm and ambery and animalic, but she also made it mysteriously elegant ( I happened to also have a spare miniature parfum to hand so she will be wearing it to a gala this weekend)

….. I would love to be there to inhale her perfume as she walks out the door…..

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Now to the men.

Dietrich, tall, long-blond haired, poverty-stricken, fast-talking polyglot German geometrist, came to the realization, to his great dismay considering how much everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves, that through allergies and possibly Japanese pollution, or just through sheer hereditary damn genetics that he has no sense of smell. This is a horrible lack to have, and we all felt for him but sprayed him anyway……..  all thought that the expertly elegant, yet fully testosteroned Amouage Epic Man was a hilariously apposite choice given his stature; he asked me to write the name down just in case his current anosmia one day passes.

As for his friend, an intelligent, gentle, environmentalist named Federico, for some reason, rather than going for a soft, subtle perfume to match what I imagine his personality to be, I took some strange gambles that to my delight, really paid off: half-jokingly I suggested he try Micallef’s pissy, glinting Aoud, and to my amusement and his wide-eyed pleasure, it smelled absolutely perfect on him, losing all undesirable aspects and just smelling shining, sexy, and male Arab-rich. On the other arm we tried Montale’s Aoud Lime, but it was a little thin, and then –  bingo once more – Le Labo’s smoky Patchouli 24 (‘would you like to try some roast ham?‘) which he also fell in love with. It looks like Federico definitely wants both these scents now: he left with a decant of the Aoud but is going after them both on the internet. I don’t know why I chose such powerful, eccentric perfumes, but sometimes the gentle need a roar for balance, and on this occasion my instincts turned out to be right.

Venus, a hilariously gregarious investment banker from Singapore who is already a perfume lover and knows her stuff, relived her past with my vintage Paco Rabanne Ténéré (an unusual musty rose masculine I have yet to review), but when I see someone who is not remotely afraid to cross the gender line I know I am in good company. However, although Sisley’s grass-green Eau De Campagne did smell very good on her (and, in keeping with the green theme, she did something really rather outré, eating some Italian parsley and coriander and, saying ‘ wow, this is just like a perfume, try this’: came towards both me and Duncan and blew this perfume into our mouths like a kiss, and yes, it did in fact smell quite lovely and was also strangely thrilling in the context of Japan, where no-one would do such a bold and spontaneous thing); aside that, for some reason, I was stumped; she said FIND ME SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL AND FLORAL but I just couldn’t rise to the occasion.

HOWEVER, I did, near the end of this explosive perfumestraganza, find Moe, a beautiful, self-contained girl who goes to the same Butoh Japanese dance class as D, not just a perfume she liked, but a perfume she utterly adored; that she totally and completely fell for, and oh how I love these moments.

Looking at her glowing there contentedly on the tatami mats I thought Polynesia:  coconut nectar on a softly thighing beach, and so we tried a combination of Guerlain’s lovely Ylang Vanille and Yves Rocher’s Noix de Coco on her left wrist and hand, and, to be honest, she smelled like heaven.

On the other hand, on a whim, I tried Givenchy’s leathery floriental Ysatis, which smelled a touch mature but which we also liked, and on the top of the left arm, to go in totally different direction, some vintage Sisley Eau du Soir, which she tamed too much I thought, taking out its venomous, witchy sting (that one smells MUCH better on The Black Narcissus, I adore that perfume).

Yes, she liked them. But I wasn’t quite satisfied, and kept thinking and looking. And then: there it was – a phial of Love By Kilian, hiding itself behind some old bottles, a perfume I always quite liked but which on me just becomes a blob fest of amorphous sweetness. However, I could tell from her skin, which drinks perfumes up and purifies them (my skin does the opposite – I skankify them, bringing out all the base notes), yes but Moe, for sure,  was the opposite, and I saw that Kilian hiding up there and I knew –  yes, this has the potential to be amazing (and she said afterwards that my eyes lit up as I presented it to her, full of ridiculous excitement) and, to your unsurprise and  to our mutual delight, it was.

ABSOLUTE.PERFECTION.

A poetic, human meringue.

Light; hovering, sweet, but not too sweet, alive delectable

OH MY GOD I LOVE, LOVE THIS, she said, thrilled, where can i get it where can i get some i have to buy some of this, so there we were, searching on the internet for that extortionately priced elixir, but she is just going to save for it – she needs this perfume

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46 Comments

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46 responses to “OH MY GOD I LOVE, LOVE THIS !! ( that mutually fantastic moment when you find a person their perfect, soul-tailored, made-to-measure perfume…..)

  1. What an incredible fumanalia. This s my favorite fantasy, to find myself sniffing in ecstasy through somebody’s collection where I might, just maybe, find my One and Only fragrance.

  2. Wow, that sounds like so much fun! My current sniffing circle consists mainly of my husband, my mom, my daughter and one long-distance fume-pal. It is fascinating how some fragrances just fit so well: The Guerlain Samsara(vintage) that sort of clangs & shrieks on me, totally sings on my daughter…The l’Heure Bleue (also vint.) that is just ridiculous & dusty on me seems like a natural extension of my mom’s skin/aura, it’s so beautiful on her that it’s hard to believe it’s the same juice….& An interesting thing happened with Chanel Antaeus: The recent version that goes herbal-medicinal, then papery before vanishing on my skin, just blooms on my husband while the vintage( that I assured him should be even better, is actually too rich and ‘dark’ on him) suits my dry/low body-temp vampire-y skin perfectly. LOL I agree that the sharing, comparing and match-making bit of this obsession is wonderful!^.^

    • I LOVE Antaeus, and would love to smell it on a woman as well. That grey, marble of antiquity…..

      I bought a Samsara parfum (vintage) yesterday for 20 dollars, and it smells ridiculous on me as well, as does L’Heure Bleue which just smells stupid on me, much as I love to sniff the bottle….

      It is enlightening, definitely, to smell these perfumes on other people. As well as being fun and great to see other people getting so excited about perfume, you also get to get deeper, more enhanced views of your own collection. I am seeing all the above perfumes in different lights now…..

  3. Lynley

    That sounds like my idea of a dinner party! I try my hardest to lure people into my perfumed world, although they seem a tad frightened at the sight of my collection, and I’m sure they think I have some unfathomable addiction they don’t want to encourage! My mum is anosmic but appreciates, my sister I’ve managed to get off all natuals

  4. Sounds a fab do! Perfume party! Such a brilliant way of getting to know people. Glad you’ve had a good holiday x

    • Have you finished the PHD yet ? Are you free?

      • No, I am still shackled, but have been busy doing gallery workshops so have had to moonlight a little. It’s finally coming together though thank you. Submitting the 2nd June now which is the day before Dante’s 18th birthday. So come the 3rd two huge things will be released – one great tome of ponder, and one great bloom of (6ft 3) wonder! Dr Mamma will be knocking back the cocktails.

      • I will be there with you in spirit. Which perfume?

      • Well I have my essential ones that you already know of that will probably be dabbed somewhere for the occasion, but I feel like I might want something totally new and defining – maybe something very green. A change of direction perfume. I’ve been dabbling a bit with some of the Francis Kurkdjian range recently, and was a bit ‘comme-ci-comme-ca’ at first, but they are actually very long-wearing and unfold slowly in intriguing ways throughout the day. Slow-burning. And the one that’s intriguing me most at the moment is Absolu pour le matin. It smells very sharp and almost a bit disgustingly chemical at first – like sharp pink grapefruit and lemon toilet cleaner – kinda wake-up but rank! I think there may be violet leaf in it, and it persists in a strange tussle of sharpness and something soft and powdery (citrus peel) for quite a while. And then something else happens through the day (which I can’t quite define yet) and it becomes very affirming. I feel very assertive and comfortable with it. Then after a few hours it becomes sweet – a solid rose seems to emerge, and maybe a hint of musk or jasmine, ylang ylang. perhaps a hint of oud but I don’t think so really..haven’t quite worked it out – but it’s very balancing. Almost yin-yang. I haven’t been able to wear it on its own yet – it’s too much – so have to balance wearing it at first with some Florabotanica (Balenciaga) – which again, I don’t really take to, and find too fruity – but it’s the perfect solid accompaniment to this and between them there’s something very solid about them that I like! So perhaps by June I will have decided that will be one, but I am waiting to see what may emerge. xxx

      • Psychotic chameleons spring to mind. I haven’t smelled Matin but am trying to get my head around Soir – overall I am not drawn to the line but you have made me want to give them all longer, on the skin, properly, to see what happens.

      • Hahaha psychotic chameleons is probably about right!! Particularly with the two of them together. They conjure a certain landscape indeed – sharp, hot and dusty with lush vegetation, but offering shade more than water perhaps for a fast-moving chameleon. It would have to be hardy to endure the terrain, but it would and indeed does! There’s something very high-maintenance about the Matin indeed. But give it a go! I had a look at some reviews earlier on and they list its notes as lemon, bergamot, mountain thyme, iris, violet (hurray I was right!) and amber. I think the amber is listed as having benzoin and vanilla in it – so no rose! But there is rose and mint in the Florabotanica so I’m wondering if that’s what I keep smelling towards the end of the day. I liked Soir, and A Part of Me also, but I do find it a difficult house to get into (probably just as well given the cost of them).But give Matin a long run in its own space (your nose is probably hardier than mine – but you may want to sweeten it with a spritz of something if the citrus is too much) – and see what you think. I’ve been wearing my combo all day, but might give the Matin a go on its own next time. I’m not sure I’ll ever love it as a perfume in that swoony sort of way, but I think I might really respect it, and find it a good one for days when assertiveness is required, and certain kind of ‘knowing my own mind’, ‘knowing ones own worth’ is called for…perhaps I’ll wear it for the Viva and find something more decadent for the celebration cocktails…

        I’m glad you’ll be there in spirit on the 3rd!!! xx

      • I shall.

        But really, you have a lot more patience with perfumes than I do. I need them to glide on and feel right immediately. I can put up with some top note discomfort for a short while if the rest pays dividend, but otherwise, forget it!

      • Well perhaps give it a miss then. Go with the ones that glide and give you the joy! The topnote is a little hard core and a bit absolutist on the Matin. I woke up one day and was irritable choosing between the usual perfumes so spritzed a sample I’d picked up for the hell of it, but was surprised later in the day at the emotional effect of it (was behaving in very definite and self-assured manner with everybody), so got intrigued. It’s a bit steely! You have immense instinct and knowledge where perfumes are concerned and would probably know from quick whiff what’s worth spending more or less of your time on. I just found it a funny one, hence the pondering. But thanks for the chatter on it – it’s helped me make some decisions on what to wear for what, when! Inspirational as ever honeybun x

      • I think it’s more the other way round…

  5. Dubaiscents

    I would love to come to a dinner party at your house! I tend to force people who come to visit to try new things from my collection because I hope to spread the word about “good” perfume one person at a time so we don’t have to smell fruitchouli scents everywhere until the end of time! I love when they are amazed at the variety of scents in just one category or note family. I feel like a professor of perfume (even though I definitely am not). P.S. I love the photos of you and Duncan.

  6. it is absolutely bizarre that just the other day I was thinking why doesn’t N put any pictures of D in his posts and here he is!!! Looking EXACTLY as I imagined that he would look like! Fantastic and as gorgeous as you!

    And when are you going to find a tailor made perfume for your American “sister”?….I am patiently waiting…..

    great post….I am happy to see you relaxing and finally having some fun…wish I could join you!

    • What do you mean, ‘finally’ having some fun? (though I do admit, my exuberance is obvious today………back to work the day after tomorrow….you can expect some darkness then!)

      • brie

        Ha! ha! you are right! you are ALWAYS having fun and at times I live vicariously through you and your posts which make me laugh!
        No fun going back to work…this month will be sheer madness for me as I attend a multitude of annual review meetings at work and my own kids’ soccer starting up again, thereby killing the weekends!

      • Well then we will shore each other up with perfume and its environs. We must!

  7. Marina

    I wonder what you will choose pour moi….

  8. Ana

    Ah Neil I would have liked so much to be at that party!I’m terribly curious to know which perfume you would suggest me!So entertaining!On a side note, I really enjoyed seeing photos of you and D.So what do you think if I send you a few pictures of myself, maybe you will be able to guide me towards some beautiful scents.Not that my wish list is not long enough already,but I’m longing for a bit of fun, now that I’m going through some difficult issues.

  9. emmawoolf

    happy holidays, Neil! A truly delightful tale of hilarity and spontaneity – your dinner party guests sound a right larf and I can just imagine the scene (what did you eat, btw? the glutton in me wishes to know..) Also you’ve mentioned a few of my old faves – Ysatis sat in our dusty family bathroom for many a year – my mother wore it regularly and it was another VI form spritz (plus good old Eau du Soir gets a mention, I wore this on a night out with Ally last week) Also intrigued by mention of Yves Rocher…really? I’m a bit of a snob about cheap perfumes – are they worth having a go with? Hope the back-to-work doom isn’t too dreadful and hopefully let’s be in touch again soon x

    • I am a snob too but Yves Rocher is amazing in my opinion – and that is absolutely the Ur-Coconut: would probably be in my top ten of all time.

      The food was all Cypriot vegetarian…D did very well….

    • Ps. I love that you like(d) Ysatis. I LOVE it. Very and highly underrated in my view – one of the sexiest perfumes of all time.

      • emmawoolf

        N: I’ve just walked past House of Fraser on my way home from work and sprayed on Ysatis, spurned on by yet another olfactory reminisce – and… it’s just not the same as the original is it? Watery orange peel was all I could detect, although it’s now turned into a bit of a spicy punch, which I feel I must wash off. I now remember that i actually owned a miniature bottle of this and some other Givenchy scents a v long time ago- they were a stocking filler when I was ooh, about twelve actually (nice mum! I mean Santa). And talking of mum perfumes, my mother rocked some fabulous fragrances as a forty-something (and I was a sixthformer – a benefit of not being properly middle class is having a young mum!) well, at least I remember them as such – Ysatis, Fidji, Opium, then she moved on to Sublime when I was at university, which I adore. Now at nearly 70 I’m not sure what’s happened – she’s replaced them with Vera Wang, the Prada Iris one and her favourite, Allure (oh dear…). And I felt oddly embarrassed buying EL’s Sensous Nude for Christmas at her request. It just doesn’t seem right for a pensioner, does it? (sorry, mum) x

      • Wow, quite the sultry list, and no, you are absolutely right, this Ysatis is crapperella. I will have to send you some vintage, as it really is lovely and foxy – the new one is a really bad imitation. The Prada Iris is quite nice I think in an inoffensive way. Allure, however…..

  10. Lilybelle

    That sounds like so much fun, perfuming your friends. I am another one who adores BK Love. I love Sweet Redemption, too.

  11. This sounds as if it were such an amazing time, albeit 2 years ago now.
    Did you all ever have another get together and perfume-fest? I love to find out if people actually start wearing (daily), perfumes chosen for them. Did they?

  12. Sounds like Lovely party, even in digital flesh. Wish I had been there. The pickings here are few.

    I got The New miss Dior as a sample present to a bath gel And it smelt hideous! Very much horrible surprise!
    Lucikily also I had bought on The Internet a box with 3 Dior, The original with checkered bands. And three French elegant vintage muses glided into my bed, as I mostly read The post in bed. And then I tried for the first time Miss Dior And Diorissimo on my arms. My left arm smelt muguetty and my right one softly wavered into a well brought up musky ? Petite Fleur.
    I have discovered that my left Side does not have to agree with my right side And that was a first for me. I smelt pleasantly cocktailish, almost like having two companions for a lazy afternoon au lit.

    Why o why these horrendous botoxing of elegant old ladies?

  13. lilybelle

    You have the best dinner parties. 🙂

  14. Doreen

    This is beautiful!

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