Viole del Pensiero

Nosy blue-point Siamese cat sniffing wild pansies, and a tiny purple bowed bottle with a plastic gold cap.

Pansies are so fun! The smaller johnny-jump-ups have the most scent (which isn’t much) and are the easiest to grow.

Borsari 1870’s 1970’s reissue of a 1920 classic that I picked up in 2010 (…Let’s do the time-warp, agaaiin…!) is a greener violet than many, with a dewy leafy opening that stays verdant as it slowly dries down to sweet floral powder.
There’s a bit of woody backbone at the bottom–I’m only getting a smidge, but it’s there–some subtle oakmoss, maybe? that takes it out of traditional feminine flowers and into intriguing unisex garden.
Nice vibe of the whole plant, not just an extraction of the petals.

I have to shove my nose into things to get good results–a big huff rather than a delicate sniff–but I’m getting there!

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Another vintage one that got me moving. (I still get worn out quickly, but I’m much better than last week!)

It’s just a jump to the left–

Garofano

Vintage mini bottle with an orange bow-tie and a label illustrated with stylized carnations, and real pink edged white ones.

Garofano means carnation, and this little Italian beauty–first produced in 1930, and reissued for gift sets in 1970–is exactly that, but amplified.

Jasmine sparkles up the carnation’s already sweet and zingy opening, and then the heady middle is augmented by roses, making it even more rich. The bottom is the best part, with added cloves (wild carnations are called clove-pinks) and pepper bringing out the floral spice.

My schnozz is healing!
I get all the facets, even the base notes (which are spicy enough to be worn by even the most alpha gents)–they’re just at 50% volume, rather than full blast.
Right now, I get two hours from it, three inches off the wrist–but I’m sure the performance is at least double that.

One of my favorites from the Borsari 1870 collection.

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Oasis’ cover of The Jam’s Carnation jam.

Lavenda Alpina

Tiny Borsari 1870 bottle with pine tree graphic label, and sprig of fresh lavender.

Lavender is distinct and multi faceted–a good one for testing the post-Covid nose.

The guy likes the soothing aspects–I put a drop of oil on his dryer sheets sometimes–to him it’s relaxing and clean.
I find it invigorating and spicy, a refreshing addition to lemon cookies and roasted potatoes.

First out in 1929, unisex Lavenda Alpina opens sharp, soapy with a vodka note, floral herbs with camphor, some alpine fir aromatics. I get all this, thank goodness, and from the source, too, when I rub the plant leaves.
The eau settles down quickly to the skin–but my sense of smell is definitely on the fritz, because I know this has better projection than what I’m getting right now–with sugary citrus and licorice feels. This is my favorite part of lavender fragrances, the bright sweet-savory-spicy heart, almost gourmand-ish. (What Would Love Do? by LUSH captures this gorgeously.)
Sadly, I get almost nothing of the base notes. There should be a bit of moss roughing up the bottom, and the soft woods–a bit resinous, like sweet balsam–that dried lavender flowers hold for years, are just not coming to me yet.

I’ll keep at it.

Lavender tips from my garden, cobalt bottle of essential oil, and a dried herb wand with purple ribbon, handmade by a friend using plants from a local pick-your-own farm.

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I love this little-known Kinks tune, a bonus track on an album remaster.

Paris – Biarritz

Chanel promo card and sample spray.

Absolut Citron vodka and green bell peppers an inch off the skin for an hour or so.
Unisex and pleasant–a polite one to wear on the train, but nothing special.

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This song IS something special.
Stone Gossard (of Pearl Jam and Mother Love Bone) and Adam Levine did an amazing cover of this one at the I Am The Highway tribute concert. It’s worth tracking down for a listen–I’m not always a fan of Maroon 5 but Adam has a range as broad as Chris Cornell, and this tune needs it–that whole show was amazing, but today is rainy and gray and I just need the original.

Summer Rain

Sample vial and ad with a naked blonde in a field, modestly clutching a scarf that must have blown off in the breeze, with dramatic clouds overhead.

Touted as “fresh invigorating citrus” and Summer Rain is very much that–lime and grapefruit, like a early a.m. wake up call, that warms up to the citronella bite of cedar shingle siding in the sun.
Might make a nice insect repellent (so hard to find bug sprays that actually smell pretty, whines the girl who lived in Vermont marshlands for ten years) though it lasts only an hour or so.

This was the final spray of my discovery set from Raw Spirit.
I have some feelings about the ad copy that talks about their celebration of the world’s diversity and mentions responsibly sourced rare materials from the Australian Outback, the Caribbean and Bali–yet the model in all the photos is a pale blonde, which seems contrary to what the brand represents.
But the ingredients are obviously high quality, and feel like luxury oils on the skin rather than chemicals.
The scents all have an earthy herbal vibe, and the ones I liked best–Winter Oak and Mystic Pearl–seem more suited for masculine types. I’d not recommend blind-buying any of them, but their sample sets aren’t expensive.

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Feeling Etta on this one today.

No Sleep

Coreterno promo card with arcane eye motif and sample spray on tiny gray pillow.

I keep trying to understand why this one was named No Sleep, when it’s the most cuddly, sleep-inducing scent ever.

Opens with big sweet dream roses and jasmine, then envelops the soul with heady vanilla, creamy and soft, and so relaxing it’s soporific.
Stays a foot off the skin for a two hour nap, then drifts down to a calm patchi woods with a hint of light rain for two more.

I wish it came in smaller bottles–I’d get one for a pillow spray on insomnia nights.

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My favorite lullaby.

Murkwood

Olive brown sample vial and burlap gift bag, smoking incense stick and pine sprig.

Sweet smoke, and pine trees.
Soft and resinous on the skin, sharper and greener on cotton cuffs.

There’s a hint of something dangerous lurking underneath, that takes the incense out of the headshop and into darker, more niche territory–the moist forest floor threatened by distant fires, the spilled tea leaving ominous stains.

Very unisex and a bit sexy. Lasts a good two hours a foot off the wrist, then rests on the skin for two more.
I really like it.

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Acoustic Cure Forest might be my favorite.

Dylan Turquoise

Mini sky-blue frosted amphora with gold chrome cap topped with Medusa medallion.

This gorgeous bottle opens with Red Lobster wet wipes that come with the plastic bib, and finishes with the guava shampoo at Great Clips.

Lasts a short daytime shift with stingy tips.
I’m rather sad about it–and now I want cheddar biscuits.

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Here’s a marvelous Dylan cover–Bettye LaVette is raspy soul greatness, and Larry Campbell (he’s been a studio guitarist for everyone from B.B. King to The Black Crowes, and toured with Bob Dylan himself) is phenomenal.

Lui

Guerlain long glass sample phial with pink eau, on black box embossed with gold foil sun face.

Big boss benzoin that morphs into cuddly cloves, and swanky.

Splashes on with spiced sipping vodka and a squeal of brand new tires, (I should probably spell it tyres, because these are definitely fancy imports) and cracks a leather licorice whip at everyone for a while.
Then it relaxes, and slowly settles just above the skin with soft smoky vanilla powder–rich sweet incense ash–and whispers complements all day long.

I’m crushing hard on this one.
Very unisex, but wouldn’t be offended by the assumption of male pronouns.

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This grunge oldie is smoky and sweet, with a nice aggressive edge.

Rose and Me

Coreterno discovery set with Fornasetti style branding, sample spray, and black promo card with cool blue reflections.

Opens with spicy saffron roses, big and jammy, in Fort & Manle fashion.
Then lemon leaf geranium jumps in with a big splash–that flowers in the rain thing that Nest does–pleasantly tart and wet.
After an hour or so, a nice smoky tea brews, with patchi honey and Amouage’s woody rose incense.

The best performance of Coreterno’s perfume catalog, with fill-the-room floral sillage and semi-permanence on clothes. Hardly original, but that might be a part of their branding: a pastiche of beloved cliches that blend into a new but still familiar composition.

Not one I’d wear–this one would be more likely to wear me–but I’d love to huff on someone else, especially masculine types in retro neckties.

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Here’s another pastiche of cliches done perfectly.