Scouring the collection this morning for something to wear today, I could find nothing. Not a single scent that I could actively envisage enjoying.

And yet I don’t feel like going unscented (What problems I have!)

Eventually, starting to get a little agitated, but finding this in the downstairs bathroom, I finally settled on the rather dull and unadventurous Gieffeffe, – the Italian, ‘classier’ remake of CK One – even if it surprises me that I can even consider spraying on such an anodyne cologne as this; soapy, citric, fresh, inoffensive; crisply androgynous, boring. There are times, however, when you are withered and knackered, that all you can deal perfume-wise with is a mentally unthreatening pH neutral.


TOP: Coriander, Bergamot, Lemon, Orange, Mandarin; Osmanthus;

MIDDLE : Nutmeg, Freesia, Cardamom, Jasmine, Orris Root, rose;

BASE: Musk, Cedar, Sandalwood, Patchouli; Amber.)


Back in the day, I remember I surprised myself by getting the brown-bottled Gieffeffe, the outlier in the series of three that were released when Ferre was still a name. It was a rather anachronistic patchouli-aldehydic spiced chypre, probably the first that got me into the vintage equivalents of the type, and a scent I am sometimes still nostalgic for (I don’t know if it was targeted for women or men, I just liked it. Does anyone else remember this one?). The larger release, the scent I think am going to now wear today – still in production because it is ultimately quite good – I remember scoffing at dismissively at the time for its bland anonymity; its too obvious-by-far aping of the far too ubiquitous-at-the-time Calvin Klein, when you could hardly move for young thinster ‘waifs’ trailing themselves against the walls in urban shopping centers listening avidly to Ironic and Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Nicer, more balanced; floral; less synthetic-fruity than its American originator, Gieffeffe is undeniably a rather soothing and blameless fragrance. Uplifting. A backdrop; a stasis. It smells grounded in reality. Safe.

Plus it’s nice to have variety. So chancing upon a cheap, still cellophane-wrapped bottle of Gieffeffe at a discounters a few months ago and thinking why not, it is funny how an unobtrusive pleasantry from the past that you dismissed nonchalantly with a tut and a wave of the hand way back when can thrust you back in time with almost rose-tinted glasses. It is not that I particularly enjoyed the nineties; but being projected through time to a specific time and place with a very pinpointed olfactory distinctiveness (literal time travel), is often, in itself, for me, inexplicably enjoyable.

Later on this evening, doubtlessly, a few hours in, I will probably start to find Gieffeffe overstaying its welcome : too ‘harmless’. It is possible I will be chafing.

But sometimes you do definitely just need a ‘reset’.

Something stabilizing (what are your ‘dependable dullards’, incidentally? I am curious to find out).

That, today, is all I want.


Filed under Flowers


  1. My dependable dullard is the aforementioned EA 5th Ave. Slightly soapy, a bit powdery, tinged with amber and spices, subdued peach and mandarin, a demure musk, a melange of white and yellow flowers, and greenery that come across as an elegant bouquet. A bit too much quiet sophistication for my taste on most days. So reserved it certainly couldn’t offend anyone, almost too well behaved for a white floral. Smells quite posh, especially considering its very reasonable price. Seems blissfully serene on miserably muggy Monsoon days, like a clean white shirt.
    Speaking of white floral dullards, I wonder if CK Beauty has changed in the last 12 years? Haven’t seen it on offer in years.

    • Not sure I have smelled CK Beauty – there have been so many flankers for that one it is unreal.

      Do you think I would like 5th Avenue? It does sound like a perfect DD!

      • CK Beauty is/was just jasmine, woods, musk.
        I think you might like 5th Ave, most of the compliments I receive on it are from men. I only paid $40 for a 3.4oz bottle in Kathmandu duty free, so there’s not much risk. It does have a slight initial citronella bug spray (similar to EL Pleasures & RL Romance) that I don’t like but thankfully dissipates quickly.

      • I think there is a big chemist’s here that might have it actually. Although the top note in Romance is, I must admit, a warning I might hate it: that really is/was a chemical number.

      • I understand. The top note in Romance and Pleasures make me retch, I can’t stand either of them. 5th Ave is the kinder, gentler, American Diorissimo version of this ilk of 90s fresh florals.

    • Just used my coveted stash of Tatiana bath oil – it has that tinge of something citronella (but I can tolerate it) that 5th Avenue has also. Tatiana & 5th Avenue aren’t nearly as overpowering as Pleasures & Romance though. I don’t get what is romantic or pleasurable about bug spray but oh well?

  2. I kind of like the design of that nozzle. Maybe it reminds me of a vintage typewriter key or something. I would say my “dependable dullard” is Banana Republic Classic, but I don’t want to knock it as it’s really quite a nice grapefruit-floral-woody that wouldn’t overstay its welcome because it has short longevity (shortevity?)
    Hope the weekend gives you some refreshment. I’ve had an exhausting week too with work and am grateful it’s a 3-day weekend in the States because Juneteenth is being observed on Monday.

    • Great. Enjoy!

      We also had a nice day out yesterday and am coming back to myself a bit.

      I have heard Banana Republic mentioned before as a good staple: we all definitely need one, just as an anchor. The Ferre will not be mine – I kind of enjoyed it, yesterday – it made an ok initial backdrop, but it was a bit fuzzy and droney and not quite me and anyway got overwhelmed by the cooking smells in the Indian restaurant we went to !

  3. I would go with Etro’s Sandalo or Agua Fresca, both somehow possessing a seemingly simple structure (at least something you think you totally ‘get’, no uncanny layers of mystery), and a t the same time recreating times past. The detail here is that it’s not exactly my past, more like an imaginary belle époque or something. But I guess that’s the point. If I’ve worn it excessively at a certain point of my own lifeline, then it won’t be neutral anymore, no matter the notes and the composition. These are neutral and safe because I never cared too much for their message. I never connected them to special moments, failures or excitements. And yet, they were always around. A strange, quite inexplicable part of my heart.

  4. This smelt far better than CKOne, but still not my type of thing. I just prefer a good old fashioned “Eau” from one of the major houses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s