The Beauty of Sadness: The Different Company Jasmin de Nuit

Dear Scent Diary,

To my husband’s utter dismay, I’m a jasmine lover.  If I wear a jasmine perfume in his presence he respectfully pretends not to notice, but if we’re in the car, he’s been known to roll down the windows dramatically and hang his head out, mock gasping for air. You now know what I’m dealing with. We’ve finally traced his repulsion to an association he has with his mother wearing jasmine perfume in the car when he was a boy during a time when he was prone to being carsick. Okay, based on that, I suppose I’ll allow the goofy histrionics.Unknown

Jasmin de Nuit is not exactly a jasmine scent. I know this to be true because my husband likes it. He nods his head and pushes his bottom lip out when I slip my Jasmin de Nuit perfumed wrist under his nose.

Jasmine is of course a part of the perfume’s composition but the impression the fragrance gives is not of a sweet, bright white floral. Clearly. The dry down is in fact more akin to carrot cake than it is to a flower. But something about this spicy, amber-y jasmine tinged with humanity and sadness breaks my heart.  Just like a chord of music that can somehow embody the feeling of heartbreak, Jasmin de Nuit takes me to a melancholy place almost immediately. Guerlain’s L’heure Bleu, while a different scent altogether, has a similar effect on me.

Unknown-1images-2The fragrance opens with cardamom, cinnamon, anise and an undercurrent of low-register indolic jasmine. Musky humanity is present, either as a part of the indoles or as a note unto itself. Within ten minutes, the cardamom and other spices become even more dominant while sandalwood and amber begin to seep in. Still present though is the low-pitched, melancholy indole of the jasmine. The bright, sweet, high register portion of the note that we expect when we hear ‘jasmine’ is missing, and with it, its cheer.

everything's going to be alrightPerhaps if perfumer Celine Ellena and The Different Company had named this scent Sunday Evening (in French of course), fewer people would be frustrated by their expectations of a heady, uplifting jasmine scent. Perhaps instead, they would enjoy the spice, sandalwood, amber and indole of this gorgeous fragrance and succumb to the exquisite sadness its beauty brings.

That, or just have a spouse that keeps the perfume’s name a secret.


Love in two acts: Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche

Dear Scent Diary,

Unknown-2The way I’ve come to love Olfactive Studio’s Lumiere Blanche is somewhat similar to the way I’ve come to love my husband.

When we met for the first time, sparks undeniably flew. I was mesmerized.  He seemed to understand me and somehow knew how to make me feel both comfortable and special. We felt ‘at home’ together, like two puzzle pieces slipping into place. Then, out of nowhere, he decided he didn’t want to be with me anymore and disappeared.

I was, as my girlfriends assured me, unnecessarily crushed. “Good riddance. You don’t need him,” they said. “There are plenty of others to take his place.”

And so you attempt to move on by dating a few others right away. There are some you like, and some you think you might even love, though when you’re honest with yourself, they’re a bit out of your comfort zone, or they’re great off the top but once you get to know them, they’re boring or difficult, or you’re not sure you want to go out in public with them.

Then, a few months later, you bump into HIM again. You’re not keen to go through the pain of him disappearing on you once more, so you almost turn him down when he suggests you try again. But you can’t resist. You tentatively give it a try, all the while waiting for the other shoe to drop. But this time, he doesn’t disappear. You’re not quite sure what’s changed about your chemistry, but now, not only does he make you feel beautiful, confident, sexy and at ease, he has staying power.

So you marry him.

My new full bottle of Olfactive Studio Lumiere Blanche should arrive next week.

(Oh yeah, it smells of cardamom pods steeped in warm milk, creamy sandalwood and hints of musk and almonds. Woody, milky, subtly spicy and unisex. It’s not heavy and does not project much but does (now) stay on my skin for most of a day.)

It hates me: Dries Van Noten par Frederic Malle

Dear Scent Diary,

I’m a bit stunned. I’ve been anticipating a mutual love affair with this scent from the moment it appeared on Frederic Malle’s website. I’ve even had moments of blind-buy weakness after having Facebook fragrance group conversations with those who adore it.

If this fragrance loves you, it will put its sandalwood foot forward and let its vanilla gourmandiness support, not star.


If it hates you, as it does me, it will try to choke you to death in the car on the way home from picking up your decant at the post office with a cloud of overly sweet vanilla cake frosting/marshmallow/cupcake/waffle cone.

Unknown-1Once sprayed on skin, the sweetness persists, but now buttressed by a burning rubber accord that takes about a half hour to die down. Mercifully, things do settle and I can sense the sandalwood stepping in, as if being the voice of reason and pulling all the other notes by the collar, off my face. From that point on, everything becomes much more civil.

t.33Now that the sandalwood has things under control, the sweet vanilla frosting becomes more sheer and the freshly baked white cake it’s spread on top of starts to dominate. At this point in the development, I’m so olfactorially relieved that I think for a second that I could actually be friends with this fragrance. Maybe just polite acquaintances, we’ll see.

The perfume universe obviously thought I needed to be taught a lesson and decided to do it with this fragrance. I’m clearly overly susceptible to ‘the idea’ of a perfume from a well-respected niche house and the hype that often warrants. I needed a memorable reminder that fragrance preference is supremely individual and is based on a lifetime of perceptions and associations, making it impossible for any two people to have the exact same experience with a perfume. I also needed a good slap upside the head regarding skin chemistry. I don’t recall hearing anyone mention a ‘burning rubber accord’.

As evidence, these bloggers had completely different experiences with this scent: Now Smell This, Grain de Musc, Bois de Jasmin.

I was given a rather ungentle talking to by Undina of Undina’s Looking Glass in the comments of one of my posts where I considered blind buying this perfume. She was so right. Lesson learned.

Samples rant and Parfum d’Empire Equistrius

Dear Scent Diary,

visuel_echantillonsWhy can’t all perfume houses be like Parfum d’Emipre and have a great sample program? Don’t all the others get that it’s hard to fall in love with their fragrances if we can’t get our noses on them? Surely there’s some math that proves samples convert to full bottle sales at a higher percentage than NO samples. And they don’t even have to be free! I know I’m happy to pay a (reasonable) price for a sample set. Why is it not an industry standard, diary?

images-1I have a soft spot for Parfum d”Empire as a house because their sample program is one of the best. It includes a 2 ml spray sample of every single frag in their line (13) for 22 euros shipped worldwide, and arrives beautifully packaged with a personal note.

After a weary nosed sample-fest, one scent emerged victorious.

Equistrius is considered an iris scent by most but what hooked me was the warm, buttery sandalwood. When does warm, buttery sandalwood not hook me is the question. Anyway, it’s a rich, addictive, complex blend of iris, violet, sandalwood, amber and chocolate that’s truly divine. I have Birgit at Olfactoria’s Travels to thank for whetting my appetite for it. Luckily for me, it lasts much longer on my skin than on hers – at least 10 hours.

Diary, I’ve noticed that my husband has raided my samples and was wafting Cuir Ottoman today. Leather notes can be a challenge on me, but on him this one is glorious. We may be a two Pd’E family before too long.

Dries Van Noten and Frederic Malle interview

Dear Scent Diary,

Click on the link in the text to see the interview.

Click on the link in the text to see the interview.

Okay, I think the blind buy urge for this scent has passed. But only because I’ve planned a trip to Vancouver this month and expect to sniff and buy. It’s nice to have control over my impulses again. Here’s an interview with Dries and Freddie that’s a bit too long for its own good but definitely worth a watch for as long as it your interest carries you.