Category: bug spray

digging (into) vintage: Madame Rochas and Hermès Calèche

(photo Cecil Beaton for Vogue 1948. Charles James Gowns) At the start of the 1960s Guy Robert released two aldehydic floral chypre perfumes—Madame Rochas in 1960 and Hermès Calèche in 1961. The two perfumes have similarities but a back-to-back comparison reveals the differences that make the two perfumes diverge steadily over time. Though young, Robert quickly came to be one…

digging (into) vintage: Oscar by Oscar de la Renta, 1977

  (Left: Oscar de la Renta  early 1970s. Right: Yves Saint Laurent 1974) Perfumer Jean-Louis Sieuzac made some of the most memorable and influential perfumes of the 1970s-1990s. Yves Saint Laurent’s era-defining Opium (1977) smothered the oriental genre in spice, making the previous big-girls like Shalimar and Youth Dew seem quaint.  In the 1980s Sieuzac skipped the match, but piled…

Lalique Encre Noire pour Elle, 2006

Perfumer Christine Nagel Encre Noire pour Elle plays with the low expectation of floral prettiness, giving you more bleach and backbone than cute smiles. If I were to give it a Sanchez/Turin-style two-word fly-by, it would be moonshine detergent. Categorically it’s a musky, woody floral—an enormous field.  In spite of the common pedigree, though, it’s clever.  As for notes,  the…

Tom Ford Fleur de Chine, 2013

    (image, Marlies Dekkers Couture) Perfumer unknown. I can’t imagine a Tom Ford product release without a fairytale marketing strategy, and Fleur de Chine and the others in this collection (Plum Japonais, Rive d’Ambre, and Shangai Lily) don’t disappoint. The fairy tale is an unexamined take on the ‘mysterious orient / dragon lady / inscrutable east’. It relies on…

Guerlain Champs Elysée, 1996

Perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain Champs Elysee starts off with competing notes of a sharp sweetness and an insecticide-floral.  They merge for a bit, then the insecticide (which I’d hoped would win) gives way to a sweet, bland floral.  It’s blaring, though.  It’s like sitting near a very loud conversation in a language you don’t understand.  You can’t escape the volume, but…

Estée Lauder Estée, 1968

(Jane Fonda before 1968 and after.) Perfumers Bette Bussy & Bernard Chant 1968 was a pivotal year in American culture. Depending on where you stood, it was a time of the advancement of liberation or the loosening of morals. Estée was released in 1968, but the sensibility belongs to the 1950s. It matches a starched dressed, shellacked hair,  caked make-up…

Knize Two, 1978

(image OkayAfrica) Perfumer unknown Attire has been the greatest prop in the theater of gender. Men dress in one manner; women, another. Current standards tend to emphasize a hyper-gendered presentation through dress and grooming. Women in the self-confinement of higher heels than ever. Men packaged in increasingly conservative, less adorned trousers-shirt-jacket combinations. And it’s all so coded. Every detail is…

digging (into) vintage: Gucci Envy, 1997

  Perfumer Maurice Roucel Green florals succeed in different ways. No. 19 is a sharp green floral, Paco Rabanne Metal is a flinty green floral, Aliage is a cool green floral. Envy is a sour green floral. Though bitterness works wonderfully in perfume, hence all the great leathers and chypres, sourness is another story entirely. As with coffee, bitter is ideal, sour is a shame.…