Thursday, January 25, 2007


There's a reason I waited this long to write about my favorite woody scents; it's because there are so few that I love. It's not that I find them too masculine (because woody notes have traditionally been marketed as masculine scents thus far) but that they're heavy if the mix isn't right. Woods like many base notes make any combination of notes deeper. For me, the balance of woods with other notes has to be perfect or the heaviness wears me down. Here, too, I have very particular likes and dislikes depending on the type of wood, the particular yield of oil and also the type of extraction method which changes the scent of the oil, and in the end, it all comes down to the individual blend, the composition which is unique and transcends genres.

This week, I'm rediscovering Chanel No.5 but in eau de parfum version, and finding it very dry-woody (lots of patchouli) compared to the parfum which I find softer with more vetiver and moss. I'm starting to see No.5 as a woody floral more so than a powdery floral (but it's both, like Caron Nuit de Noel, Lanvin Arpege or Madame Rochas which were modeled after it). I still find it funny to call it Floral because to me, it smells more powdery than flowery (but most Aldehydic Florals/Soft Florals smell powdery to me), and by the time the heart notes start to bloom, the woods also turn up and never let the flowers take center stage and sing. Maybe this structure's too disciplined for me: I want an emotional moment (a lush heart) that doesn't ever climax with this scent. Nevertheless, I can enjoy it for what it is: a highly disciplined blend of Lanvin Arpege and N'aimez que Moi is how I'm feeling it today. The top notes smell a little sour to me now, like Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps. The dry down is rather musky when the rosy woods settle down, but not like No.22 which is skin musky (like the dry down of Marc Jacobs)--No.5 dries down heavier on the patchouli, making it a warmer, less clean musk.

Hilary Duff In Love: This is a new infatuation of mine even though I didn't like it at first. I found it harsh and I still think the quality is mainstream (a bit generic) but the scent has grown on me and I think I want a bottle now (although it now competes with No.22 for "next to buy"). It's not a completely unique scent (not that I care) and resembles many others (like Britney Spears Fantasy, Burbery Brit Red) but the combination of tart fruits and "dirty" ambery woods with a touch of Ralph Hot coconuttiness hiding somewhere is taking me someplace nostalgic in my mind, although I don't know where or what, and I don't care. It's a happy, earthy warm Fruity Oriental Gourmand that doesn't take things too seriously.

Serge Lutens Daim Blond: Serge Lutens is a great line full of high quality, interesting blends. I used to find them extremely heavy and they are, but they're hard not to love if you're a diehard perfume lover. Daim Blond is no exception, and I really admire this leathery scent for not being too dry and bold but rather smooth, deliciously Gourmand-like and oomphy rich with sweetness and depth but just enough minimalism and modernity so it's not a fussy scent. However, it does the opposite of what I want in a scent; whereas I need a scent to stay sweet, it turns sharper and less sweet over time, turning greener and soapier, more shrill by the minute. It's got just enough boldness for when I'm in my sweet woodsy mood.

Caron Farnesiana: Although the scent is a predominantly sweet, ambery-almond-like (a bit spicy like cinnamon) Oriental, the pungent sandalwood peeks out at the end, making this a smoky-warm, incense-y perfume of nirvana bliss. It's sweet enough to call Gourmand even if Caron aficionados want to pretend this word Gourmand never existed. It's not really flowery even though there are very sweet, low-pitched tropical flowers in it (they smell syrupy in the mix) and it's sort of a darkened, strange scent, not a real straightforward type of sweetness, either. In the end, I'm glad the sandalwood is there to override the baby powdery musk which truth be known annoys me from the start. A classic blend of innocence and hedonistic decadence, Farnesiana is like wearing dessert with liqueur drizzled on top, and if fruits were involved in this hookah, they yield a soft and rich aroma like dried dates and prunes.