Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint PhalleI was sixteen when I saw the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris, and fell in love with Niki de Saint Phalle’s wonderful sculptures.
She released her perfume in 1982–as a way to fund her life-long Tarot Garden sculpture project–with a variety of illustrated bottles, including a zodiac series called Eau Defendue.

The eau de toilette opens with peaches and wormwood, and mint–that has just enough of a toothpaste-and-orange-juice dissonance to make one wake up and pay attention, not unlike the vibrant color-blocking of her sculptures–weird and bright, yet pretty.
Carnation and patchouli and some green-dyed-leather twists it around for several hours, and woodsy moss covers the skin for the rest of the day.

Jean Tanguely, Niki’s partner, insisted that moss be allowed to grow on the Centre Pompidou sculptures, as Nature’s contribution to the art–so it can’t be a coincidence that the perfume carries the same green notes.

For more about the artist and her Tarot Garden, check out this New Yorker article.

Igor Stravinsky (watch a video of him conducting here) was a huge influence on John Williams, as well as The Beastie Boys, who sampled The Firebird Suite in two of their songs from Hello Nasty.
I like to think Niki de Saint Phalle, whose artistic style included found materials and juxtaposed media in her feminist compositions, might have approved of this cover by Robyn Adele Anderson. (And the guy on the Theremin is awesome!)

Remarkable People

remarkable people
Small bottle with Etat Libre d’Orange bullseye label and chrome cap, and gold drawing box.

Artsy bubblegum and I’m here for it.

The champagne and cardamom combination keeps it from being gooey, and the jasmine sweetens the sandalwood the perfect amount.

Sillage at arms length for an hour, and close to the skin for three more.

I wish I’d bought the big bottle.

Joan Jett is pretty remarkable.

Minuit Noir

LL licorice
Black and gold Lolita Lempicka apple on a pile of licorice all-sorts.

Sweet and evil.
Lolita Lempicka Minuit Noir will always be my witching hour perfume–my house reeks of it on Halloween.

Sugar spells and dark iris magic, wicked candy licorice and violet patchouli brew.
It’s nicely powdery, keeping the juice intriguing–fey dust rather than cloying syrup.

Lasts all Samhain and charms sleeves for days after.


4711 and limes
Coin shaped flask with iconic gold and turquoise label, red and gold cap, and cut limes in the sun.

A splash of limeade and orange zest, a rub of basil and flower petals, a breath of cedar, and then it’s gone.

The brevity is a strength–4711 glories in its opening moment, the interaction of refreshment, the awakening.

Many of us grew up with this one in the medicine chest rather than the vanity, used to disinfect cuts and soothe burns. It’s still one of my favorite comfort scents.

Haydn’s Surprise Symphony (No. 94) came out in in 1792 too.


Bond No. 9 sample sprays and bottle shaped cut out tester with red cherry blossom design, and a fortune cookie.
[The best way to make a friend is to be one.]

Peach blossom candy and fortune cookies, creamy tuberose sharpened with cardamom, and a bite of sandalwood on the bottom.

There’s a voluptuous mystique to it, gorgeous but with an edge, the sweetheart next door with a femme fatale secret.

Elusive on skin and lasting on silk.
I love it.

I loved Chinatown, too, all the crazy smells and the languages and the colors, the shops with fish and spices and trinkets. The restaurant with the sweetest old man who taught me to eat with chopsticks when I still needed to sit on a phone book to reach the table–

I had to have the big bottle.
Iconic, star shaped, that might be a woman in a hat–a red reverse of the other side. (With a white paper parasol and take-out box in the background.)

Deee-Lite is also from New York. This song always makes me happy.

Cloud Collection

cloud collection 1 edgyThe Cloud Collection perfumes are lava lamp groovy, with separate liquids rolling around in the bottle. One is advised to shake it for four seconds (shaking a lava lamp is not suggested, though the result is the same) until it turns cloudy, before spraying.

Spicy-tart sea buckthorn at the opening, and leather, then thirty minutes later the berries turn sweet and creamy, with a smooth oud-y base.
The fruit lasts on the skin for three hours–about the time it takes for the perfume salad dressing to separate again–but the sweet woods project much longer and louder, and linger on clothes all day.

zarko cloudThe scent lives up to the novelty of the liquid. The seaberry (which I love in tea and candy) is unusual, a berry version of the lemon custard in Aqua Allegoria Teazzarro; and the base is rich as any Fort & Manlé, with twice the longevity.

I’ll wear this one a lot this fall.

Farveblind is is also weird and fun and Danish (like Zarkoperfume).

Aqua Allegoria Teazzurra

teazzurra edgy
Guerlain beehive bottle with pale blue cologne on a swath of teal dupioni silk embroidered with honeybees.

Lemon cremes and iced sweet tea with chamomile.
Fresh, light and lovely, yet also soothing, the way laundered linen feels on the skin.

Stays just inside personal space all day,  and lasts on clothes forever.
I could live in this stuff all summer long.

Adele’s 25 came out in 2015, too.


Sadanne edgy
Clear glass flask with pewter cap, filled with blush liquid.

Tipsy strawberries and seawater, roses and a tangled forest.
Projects like spilled wine and soaks clothes for weeks.

Several years ago I wrote a novella set on Öland, an island off the coast of Sweden. My two young lovers celebrate midsummer eating strawberries and getting drunk, and if the pages could be scented, they’d smell like Sådanne.

Salty sand and boozy sweet fruit, so sun-ripe it’s alcoholic, eaten in the shadows of the sea-wind twisted trees on the shore.
I adore it.


A Swedish outfit with an echoing wistful tune–


norne edgy
Slumberhouse flask with olive green liquid, casting funky shadows.

A Midwinter’s orgy.
Opens with fir and sticky chocolate, incense and sex.

Seriously. This stuff is like having violent Viking-love in a heap of furs in front of a balsam bonfire. It writes runes on your body with spruce psychotropics and sweet ash.

The juice is dark and lays heavy on the skin, like hands and honey and pine tree sap, and stains clothes with green spoor.

Norne can  refer to a calypso orchid, or to the three Norse goddesses of destiny.