“Did you miss me? Did you miss me? Did you miss me?”
“But he’s dead, you told me he was dead… so how can he be back?”
Fans of the hit BBC series Sherlock will immediately get the reference to the return of Moriarty (Sherlock’s arch-nemesis) at the end of the final episode of Season 3. I do suppose I should be allowed to provide this ‘spoiler’, seeing as how the episode came out at the very beginning of the year in January, so fans of the show would already have known about it. In any case, it feels good to be back. A number of reasons have made it difficult for me to blog about perfume for some time now:
- I’m a graduate student now. And part of being a graduate student means having lots of work and non-stop essay writing. That has certainly taken away some of my writing mojo when it comes to writing about perfume, since I don’t particularly feel like writing when given that rare occasional break from my studies. But then I remind myself how carthartic writing can be (and especially perfume writing, which is good for one’s spirits!), so here I am again. I suppose I do also need to learn to better manage my time, since The Smelly Vagabond is something that I want to be committed to.
- The lack of access to perfumeries in New Haven. Now this is one rather large obstacle that I face. How does one write about perfume when there isn’t any perfume to write about? I mean, sure, there were the 10 decants that I brought up when I first moved to the US. But I’ve written about most of them, and do require new ones that tickle my fancy in order to write about something. Now, you might say, “Surely you could just take a train down to New York, where perfumeries abound, and have a blast of a time in any of them!”, to which I’d nod emphatically in agreement, following which I’d have to hang my head in shame, because I’ve been to New York on only one of the weekends in the 3 months (gasp! time flies!) that I’ve been in the US even though I would have loved to go every single weekend. And that time was with friends who weren’t particularly interested in anything remotely perfume-y, so traipsing off was a no-go – we ended up doing some of the touristy things such as visiting Times Square, catching the Staten Island ferry to catch a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, etc. but still none of that can compare to visiting a perfumery – which speaks volumes of how much of a nut job I am 😀
- The solution, I’ve found, is really to get on eBay. Now, eBay US is nothing short of a treasure trove. In general, I’ve found (based on my personal experience) that prices of fragrances on eBay US tend to be higher than those on eBay UK, which suggests that US eBayers do know the value of their fragrances better than their UK counterparts, or do more market research before listing their perfumes on eBay. As a result, it’s been a lot harder for me to snag crazy deals like I used to be able to in the UK. On the plus side, however, the range of fragrances that goes on eBay US tends to be much larger than in the UK, no doubt due to the much larger market here. Thus far my best find would have to be a lot of Estée Lauder miniatures, including some extraits, which went for just slightly over $20. But I haven’t been having much luck with the full bottles. So there are pluses and minuses. And then there are the online perfume retailers such as LuckyScent, BeautyHabit, TwistedLily, Fragrancenet, etc. etc. (not a plug for them, by the way, I’m just listing what I know!). Prices aren’t as good as compared to eBay, but there are many things on these sites as compared to eBay. The perfume I’ll be reviewing, Histoires de Parfums Tubéreuse 1 Capricieuse, came from BeautyHabit, and I bought it when they had a promotion offering a voucher and a gift with purchase. I often find myself reluctant to purchase at full price (for good reason – I’m a poor student with far too many fragrances already), but at the same time, I’m also easily sucked into purchasing when there’s a sale. I wonder if I’m the only one… Let me know in the comments section if you prefer eBay or an online perfume retailer, and why! I’d say I’m a bit more of a “whatever gives me the best deal” kind of person – it helps that I’m generally rather patient with purchases! (except for the Frederic Malles that I’ll have to panic buy now that Estée Lauder have bought over the brand – yes, I am keeping up with fragrant news!)
- Lack of inspiration – ah, the bane of every writer. I would describe myself as one of those creative sorts who can’t write without inspiration. I can’t just sit down and crank out words. I’ve tried that before, only to end up spending an hour staring blankly at the computer screen. I suspect this lack of inspiration is somewhat linked to my lack of reading anything that’s not a textbook and recent non-consumption of movies.
All that said and done, I’d like to apologize to those of you who’ve hung around on the blog for the lack of updates, and to thank you at the same time for sticking with me. Although it’s been a rough patch, I’m definitely in this for the long haul 🙂 So, on to perfume reviewing!
Smelling Tubéreuse 1 Capricieuse (T1C for short) for the first time, one could be forgiven for thinking that it should have been called Suede Crusade instead. Honestly, it smells further from tuberose than any other tuberose fragrance that I have, and it is in fact a lot less tuberose-y than its counter parts Tubéreuse 2 Virginale (a fruity tuberose in a similar vein as Juicy Couture) and Tubéreuse 3 Animale (a dark, dense and smouldering tuberose shot through with immortelle). Rather, what we get is a rather strong blast of suede right from the outset that is paired with dry, dusty saffron, and strangely the sum of this unlikely combination is that of linoleum. I have no idea how I got there, but T1C really does smell remarkably like the linoleum I used to work with in art classes when I was younger. Linoleum is one of those materials that is highly reminiscent of rubber, though it is more pliable and can be cut fairly easily with a regular pen knife. Here’s an example of a linoleum cutting:
Another image that flashed in my mind as I smelt T1C was that of camels wearing leather saddles bearing saffron across the desert. Once again, I have no idea how that came about – it just did!
So it really is quite a bit of a misnomer for T1C to bear the name it does. But I’m not too bothered by the name (although I sometimes hold double standards when I rant about the lack of coherence between Le Labo fragrances and their names), because T1C really is quite gripping. Case in point: an iris note soon evolves, itself grey, austere and dry, and it is this very iris note that sings in perfect harmony with the suede and saffron. For me, T1C is an excellent study in blending ingredients that tread the very thin tightrope between dryness and creaminess – it never veers into territory that is coarse, boorish or ‘outdoorsy’, which I often find to be the case when a fragrance employs birch tar (not that being coarse, boorish, or ‘outdoorsy’ is a bad thing in any way, it’s just a different mood for a different time), and yet at the same time it doesn’t veer into suntan territory or ‘loud white floral of the 80s’ territory either. My guess is that the tuberose plays the supporting role in suffusing the composition with a butteriness that prevents the composition from turning bone dry.
Over time, the suede becomes less prominent, and T1C becomes a dusting of powder and soft musks that evoke for me the shifting sand dunes in an empty desert, long after the camels have walked away.
For some reason, I’m not sure that T1C will find itself many fans, seeing as it doesn’t play to conventional stereotypes, but I personally find it compelling and intriguing, and I do prefer it to its sister Equistrius, by Parfum d’Empire, whom it shares a few similarities with. A captivating beauty indeed.
Since I haven’t been around in a while, please do comment do let me know how you’ve been and what fragrant business you’ve been up to! In particular, what was your last online purchase? Did you buy from eBay or some other online perfume retailer?
~ The Smelly Vagabond