The Smelly Vagabond: Today we have my first ever guest blogger and fellow fragrance friend, Andy, who recently started writing at Andrew Smells. We first met at a an Arquiste evening with founder Carlos Huber at Bloom Perfumery. After exchanging contact details, we began emailing one another, but things really took off when we met up again in Central London for a bout of sniffing. Since then, we have been regularly corresponding via Whatsapp (it’s so convenient!), comparing notes on fragrances and enabling one another to buy more perfumes.
“This isn’t another old woman floral is it?”
Was the question I asked a few times of the Vagabond on our mini “Tour de Smells” in London.
I consider myself open minded and am willing to have my tastes challenged, but there are some notes and qualities I find off-putting in a fragrance.
That means I wouldn’t wear them but also I find them painful to smell and make a face like a scared cat upon inhaling.
I remember at school there was a joke where you would be asked,
“Do you like potatoes?”
“Do you like chips?”
“Then you like potatoes ahahaha”
Clearly they aren’t the same thing, even though they share an ingredient, and so it seems my disdain of florals has a similar pattern; I don’t like potatoes, I do like chips.
It’s powdery, clear, loud and petal-y florals that I bemoan.
Petal-y is my way of describing how a fragrance smells too much like a flower and nothing else. The flower is tangible and I want to spit it out as if someone had hidden rose petals in my sandwich.
It’s soliflores and bouquets that scream:
“HERE ARE THE FLOWERS YOU ORDERED“
They just seem uninspired, but that’s a reflection on my personal taste and what I like a fragrance to do (complexity and development). But if you like all of these things I am cracking the whip at, then good for you. I’m glad someone likes them.
It’s probably memory and evocation too. Stuffy old women that belong in a police lineup for Madame Bucket (It’s pronounced Bouquet!) who wear too much makeup and want to smell like the roses they are pruning all day long in their retirement village.
Too bitter of me?
They are linear, dull. It’s a flower.
An hour later; it’s still a flower.
Nothing wrong with a linear scent, but of all the things to choose to smell like!
So now I’m going to demonstrate how I like floral elements so long as they make up a small percentage of the total blend and are not pronounced or distinct.
Opus 1870 by Penhaligon’s is wood and rose. Decent fragrance. The powerful wood is at the fore so this is like a single rose on a log pile ready for the fire.
Fahrenheit 32 by Dior is a simple concoction of vanilla, vetiver, and orange blossom. Here it’s the sweetness that wins out for me whilst the blossom gives a clean white quality.
My two favourite fougeres, Eau Sauvage Extreme and Rive Gauche Pour Homme, both contain lavender and are great because they have balanced composition but pass me a paper strip of Lavandula and I’ll do my goat face.
Coco Mademoiselle, which has a hefty rose backed with vanilla and fruit, or Elie Saab that’s got orange flower, jasmine, and honey.
I like feminine florals so long as they come with something sweet, a jar of honey or lashings of vanilla, anything to prevent me thinking I’m just smelling a flower.
And so it was, as I was passed two paper strips that I sniffed deeply and exclaimed delight that the Vagabond also lit up with satisfaction in having shown me that actually, maybe I do like florals – Shalimar with it’s iris, jasmine, rose and Portrait of a Lady with a distinct yet palatable rose.
What have I learnt?
To be more specific with my complaints and to relax my rules. It’s not helpful for me to have “I don’t like florals” as a belief. It can only limit my scope of experiencing new fragrances and whilst it’s good to know what you like, if you hone that spotlight too narrowly you might miss a beautiful fragrance simply because you once said –
“I don’t like florals“
The Smelly Vagabond: Well it seems as though our dear friend Andy has learnt a thing or two about florals! I haven’t yet given up on my quest to get him to like soliflores, bouquets and “old women florals” (which are absolutely my thing). Do pay Andy a visit on his blog and welcome him to the blogging community! 🙂