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.
The fashion illustrator René Gruau’s 1953 advertisement for Jacques Griffe’s Mistigri is much more famous than the perfume ever was, but I’ve always been curious about the scent.
I finally managed to score a 70-year-old vintage mini, the little box (made to look like a deck of cards–the mistigri is the Jack of Clubs, as well as the trickster cat–still intact. The bottle even had the string on the cap, though it fell apart as soon as I opened the stopper.
A dried up drop was left, a flake of amber brown in the corner of the bottle that smelled like every fusty antique store and estate sale.
–until I rinsed it out, and the warm water brought a green chypre to life, resinous and floral. Some sharp pepper and flirty cloves were mixed in there too.
An hour later the room smells faintly of cedar and the soapy-sweetness of Chanel No. 5, in a trousseau chest with a secret kind-of-way.
So Mistigri was a nice scent, though nothing amazing. But the cat drawing on the box? I want a poster of that on my wall.
My favorite Catwoman, Eartha Kitt released C’est Si Bon in 1953.
I was determined to visit Byredo while seeing my family in Sweden this year.
Niche perfumery from Stockholm with an Indian influence and a simple streamlined aesthetic? Ja, tack–yes, please!
We looked the address up online, and I was excited to discover the store was on Mäster Samuelsgatan street, across from Happy Socks–though my dad made faces when I mentioned the funky footwear shop. My brother and I had trouble getting there–he led me all over streets at odd angles with amazing names–but just when we were about to give up, we found the flagship perfume shop.
The store was a little crystal cave. I’m not sure what I was expecting–something bigger, perhaps, or that the founder Ben Gorham, actually would be there, and I could ask him the odd questions that people side-eye until you tell them you’re a writer–but the saleswomen were supermodel gorgeous, and my dress was faded and my shoes scuffed, and I was too intimidated to ask anything of them.
I sniffed Flowerhead, a fresh floral; the new sweet autumn Eleventh Hour; and bought the fig grenade Pulp–my birthday treat to myself–and they gave me a sample of Bal d’Afrique, too.
Each of the Byredo frags have only a few simple notes–a designer trademark–but they come together to create oddly complicated and evocative scents. A lot of fun for an amateur frag-head like me.
We left in a hurry to meet Dad for dinner, no time to shop anywhere else. They gave me Happy Socks for my birthday.
Hey, Philosophy, with that bottle color, you mean “Caucasian,” not nude.
But the magazine sample was free, so:
Smells like a bouquet of over-bred pale tea roses in a hospital room. Pretty but generic, with an odd note of bleach musk underneath.
There are soooo many better rose scents out there. Lush’s Imogen Rose is heaven. Tea Rose by Perfumer’s Workshop is a great bargain for an awesome rose. Annick Goutal’s Rose Absolue is a petal bomb. Filch your grandmother’s YSL Paris if you have to.
But roses shouldn’t ever be beige.
And nude is an absence of clothing, not “white people skin.” Not the best marketing moment for a product line called Pure Grace.
This song came out in 1992. Feels like we’ve actually slid backward since then, but more likely, we’re finally seeing what has always been.
Fully loaded Bazooka Joe.
This stuff is like the sexy battle armor you put on before conquering your own world.
Tank Battle opens with a wet bubblegum pop, and a moment later a bright sulfur flare. Smoky haze sits at arms length–a burnt spice offering, a swallow of bourbon, metal shavings from a sharpened blade.
Sun-scorched patchouli and cloves settle to the skin after an hour, with an occasional whiff of daring and sweetness the whole day long.
The Seatbelts’ Tank! (the opener for Cowboy Bebop) is a lot of fun.
Amarena is the vanilla ice cream and sour cherry cough drops after you get your tonsils out. Medicinal, comforting, delicate, soporific… one to wear to bed when sleeping alone.
The sugary musk on the bottom is delicate and delicious, but also metallic, like the scent of a tin of silver dragées.
I’ve doled this one out over a decade, my Rx at the end of a rough day. I’ll be heartsick when the last drops are gone–I look for it at every airport shop, every high end thrift store.
My all time favorite song ever, with so many different cover versions to love–I just discovered Nina didn’t write it!–originally from the musical The Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd.
A stray cat in heat reeking of orange and cloves.
Tabu was that night you wore thigh-high stockings but forgot your fake ID, so someone’s older sister gave you rootbeer schnapps and after the party you watched the sunrise drinking Constant Comment tea with the guy your friend wanted.
I wore this once in high school and the boy who never noticed me asked my name, and the skirt I’d worn all year got measured with a ruler twice. My mother took the bottle away and told me I could have it back when I went to college.
Tabu came out in 1933, designed to be “the fragrance of a whore.”
Jazz was taking Paris by storm then, led by Django Reinhard at the Hot Club.