On Exclusivity (Plus Review of Pierre Guillaume L’Oiseau de Nuit with Giveaway)

Most of you probably already know this, but last week Slumberhouse introduced a very special limited edition that sold out in preorder overnight.  The fragrance is called Zahd, only 125 bottles will be produced, and it will never exist again after this initial run.  Zahd’s inspirations were cranberry and red velvet, and the juice itself is the color of rubies, the rarest of the precious gems.

In my favorite Facebook fragrance group, response was divided into two camps: those who loved the idea, and those who were appalled by it.  I fell firmly into the former camp, but the comment of a fragrance friend who fell into the latter gave me pause.  To paraphrase him, “I have wasted more than enough time on unavailable people in my life; I don’t need to do the same for unavailable fragrances.”

I ordered a bottle of Zahd and I am not at all sorry, but this comment gave me serious pause.  I have always been attracted to the unavailable, from records to men to accessories to fragrance.  A good salesperson knows that there are certain buttons you push if you want to make a sale, and for me, that button is exclusive.  If it is hand-made by blind Tibetan monks and only twelve of it exist in the world,  I will find a way to get one.  Sometimes I think the chase is the whole point of this obsession for me.

The rational side of my brain knows that exclusivity does not mean quality, though advance word on Zahd is that it is heartbreaking.  And if I do love it, then there will come a time when I use it up and can’t get any more.

I have determined that for me, the ephemeral nature of the fragrance will make the experience more poignant, and I have decided that hoarding fragrances (which I am prone to myself) is indicative of a fear of death.   For me, Zahd is a way of acknowledging that we all have limited time on this earth and it is our duty to enjoy it to the fullest and let things go with grace when we must.

Today on CaFleureBon I am reviewing another exclusive fragrance, Pierre Guillaume’s L’Oiseau de Nuit, with a giveaway for a generous decant courtesy of one of my favorite fragrance boutiques, Osswald NY.  Oddly enough, exclusivity was not a factor in my purchase because I was unaware of the scent’s limited availability at the time.  I simply bought what smelled the best to me (in a store full of Amouage and Roja Dove et al), and now I am joining the voices crying for it to be added to the permanent Parfumerie Generale collection, because it is so lovely I want everyone to get a chance to experience it.   Where do you stand on the issue of exclusivity?


Posted in Giveaway, Musings, Parfumerie Generale, Slumberhouse, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

A Place Up The Country (Imaginary Authors Cape Heartache Review)


When I was a kid, my grandparents had a place in the country.  I use the word “place” to be deliberately vague for the opposite reason that rich people refer to their mansions as cottages.  Specifically what they had was a trailer, parked at the bottom of a gravel driveway on several wooded acres clinging near the top of one of the Shawangunk mountains.  It wasn’t even a double wide, just a compact one bedroom with aluminum sides.  

Before I was old enough to feel pressure to aspire to a higher social class or to be ashamed of the word, we either said we were going to the trailer or up the country.  I spent somewhere between a quarter to a half of the weekends of the 1970s there.  For an inquisitive and imaginative child, it was paradise.  We hunted for mushrooms, waded in streams, told ghost stories by campfire, and fished in the shadows of the ruins of my great-grandmother’s boarding house, which had burned down in the 1920’s.  

Once a week, my grandpa drove me the ten miles or so to the general store to buy candy and comic books.  Maybe she was watching out the window for our car to go by, but somehow my best friend Gloria always knew which days we did that and showed up as if by magic.  (We had a black rotary phone with a party line that only worked intermittently, and if it was working my grandmother claimed that our neighbor Angela was listening in on the phone calls anyway, so if you wanted to talk to someone you walked down the road and knocked on their door.)

For reasons that are lost to my adult memory, Gloria and I always hid in my grandpa’s garden shed to eat the candy and read the comic books.  Maybe it was because my grandmother was constantly hounding me for being “fat,” a painful judgment I absorbed as true, though photographs from the time indicate otherwise.  Maybe we didn’t want to share the candy with the adults, or maybe we just wanted our own secret place, as demonstrated by our penchant for tying ropes around the trunks of the tall pines on our sprawling front lawn and covering them with blankets to make forts.

Fat-shaming aside, these were wonderful times, and Imaginary Authors‘ new fragrance Cape Heartache reminds me of them, which is why as much as I enjoy the presentation, I feel this joyous scent is misnamed.  With notes of Douglas Fir, Pine Resin, Western Hemlock, Vanilla Leaf, Strawberry, Old Growth, and Mountain Fog, it is said to recall the bittersweet memories of a failed love affair, but for me it recalls the sticky hands of happy childhood days on the mountain.  Josh Meyer’s inspiration is his own beloved Pacific Northwest, but it immediately transports me back to the fresh air, dappled leaves, beds of pine needles and homemade strawberry-rhubarb pie of my own little corner of the central Hudson Valley.

The predominant notes of the fragrance are pine and strawberry, notes one would not think would work together, but their pairing is truly inspired.  I should note that I find strawberry nauseating in every other fragrance in which I have ever tried it, so even people to whom these notes sound sick-making should seek it out for sampling.  It is a crisp and clear fall day of a fragrance with moderate sillage and excellent longevity.  

Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again, and in my case when it comes to up the country it’s almost literally true, because our trailer has been gone for twenty years now, and even finding the property it sat on is difficult, given that it was unincorporated land.  I’m asking my dad to draw me a map on a napkin (what we used to do for visitors), because this fragrance has me posting wistfully on Facebook that I would like to buy a ramshackle mansion up there and start an artists’ colony.  

My friend Deanna of Doggie Dojo saw my post and suggested that Tumbleweed Tiny Houses might be a more practical way to satisfy this dream, and they were so delicious-looking (and reminiscent of the trailer in its no-space-wasted mentality) that I actually started searching for property.  There is a lot available on a lake in Pine Bush, the closest nearby town when I was growing up, and while this is not something I could do right now, pricing indicates that it is not a pipe dream either.  We’ll see if I care enough to actually follow through, but in the meantime, I urge everyone to try Cape Heartache and see what dreams it inspires in you.  

Imaginary Authors Cape Heartache is available exclusively from Olfactif as of this writing, for $85 for 60 ml, with an $18 discount if you are already a member.  I received the sample this review is based upon as part of my monthly subscription to Olfactif, and have no material connection to either Olfactif or Imaginary Authors.  


Posted in Imaginary Authors, indie fragrances, niche fragrances, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A Return To Glamour And A Glamorous Drawing (Jardins d’Ecrivains La Dame Aux Camelias, Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces)

ImageIt’s an elusive topic to define, but we all recognize it when we see it.  It’s something our mothers and grandmothers found accessible on a daily basis, and yet it seems to slip out of the hands of even the top celebrities of our day.  It’s so lacking from everyday life that there is a college course at Notre Dame University devoting to relearning this lost art, and yet I believe a large part of the fragrance obsession is a thirst for its return.

Micheyn Camen and I may not have met in person (yet), but we have bonded over our mutual love of glamour, and today on CaFleureBon you can see the results of some of our musings as well as enter a fabulous draw for two incredibly glamorous perfumes, Jardins d’Ecrivains La Dame Aux Camelias and Etat Libre d’Orange Putain des Palaces.  We’ve found two of the critical elements of glamour (mystery and sex appeal) and can help you achieve them with this fabulous draw!  

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Fragrant Encounters In The Real World


I’m standing in the checkout line at the supermarket tapping my foot, because it’s the slowest line– it always is if I pick it.  I’ve got the Sunday blues even worse than usual because yesterday I spent the day in Soho, visiting Osswald, which is my idea of heaven, dining at four star restaurants, and shopping like the bill is going to be sent to someone else.  This is the life I think I deserve, but today I am back in the life I have made for myself, trying to squeeze in food shopping between driving my kids to social events in three different counties whilst dealing with a migraine.  (I am not British, I have lived in New Jersey for all but four years of my life– just using the word whilst is an indication that my affectations are back in full force.)

The person in front of me has four hundred dollars worth of groceries and five hundred dollars worth of coupons.  I’m standing there trying to develop an interest in Jessica Simpson’s diet and Demi Moore’s dating habits in order to avoid going into full-scale Linda Blair mode because I am now pinned in where I am by another person behind me and I’m also claustrophobic.  


It is finally my turn with the cashier and I am expecting the usual, “Do you have a Price Plus card?” so I am astonished when she smiles at me and says, “What is the name of your perfume?”

I am wearing Praline de Santal by Parfumerie Generale, which is not exactly an easy fragrance when it comes to civilians– my kids have told me they hate it and my husband, who knows better by now than to say such things, says merely “It’s okay.” I’m intrigued by the compliment but unsure how to answer. When I get questions like this in the real world it turns into a tedious exercise in futility. “Oh really? Is that by Gucci? Do they sell it at Macy’s?” Even my coworkers at my day job, who love designer frags and have absorbed by now the fact that they have never ever heard of what I am wearing, get a glazed look when I try to explain the niche fragrance community.

I decide to simply answer her question. “Praline de Santal.” And she gives me a huge smile and says, “It’s beautiful, it smells like roses.”

This is the point where I stop looking at her as an obstacle to my afternoon of rushing around and REALLY look at her. Praline de Santal smells nothing like roses, but this does not distress me. It has been my experience that people who have not yet trained their noses to pick out notes smell something they like and it translates in their brain as something else they like. When I really look at her I remember her. She is in her early 30’s or so, Central American with a thick accent indicating she’s a recent immigrant, probably working minimum wage, and she has impeccable taste. She has complimented me before, on Neela Vermeire Trayee, one of the finest fragrances on the market. I thank her for the compliment and go on my way, but this interaction has made me think. I’m going home and making her a decant of the Praline de Santal, and the next time I see her, maybe I’ll make a friend.

What do you do when people who are not part of the fragrance community enquire about your scent?

Posted in niche fragrances, Parfumerie Generale | Tagged , , , | 12 Comments

Hot Ticket (Fall Fashion and Fragrance Trends 2013 Plus Tommi Sooni Jinx and Le Labo Santal 33 Giveaway)


Those of you who have known me in one of my previous lives (and I must be part cat because for sure there have been at least seven or eight already, and while I’m not that young I’m not that old either) will remember that New York Fashion Week was always one of my favorite events to attend.  While I’m not covering live this year (to paraphrase the wrong holy day, “Next year in Columbus Circle!”), I am thrilled and honored to announce that I have been added as a monthly contributor to CaFleureBon, and we have a great piece there this week covering Fall 2013 fashion and fragrance trends.  There’s a giveaway you won’t want to miss of Tommi Sooni Jinx and Le Labo Santal 33, so please check it out.

I’ll be back here with more fragrance reviews in a day or two, as soon as I’m finished working through the five stages of grief– I let go of a major dream this week and I seem to be playing ping pong between #2 (anger) and #4 (depression).  In the meantime, what fragrance would you suggest for mourning?     

Posted in CaFleureBon, fashion, Giveaway, Le Labo, Tommi Sooni | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

California Dreaming (Diptyque Tam Dao EdT Review)


Before my first trip to California I had a skewed image of it based partially on 70’s TV shows like Three’s Company and Charlie’s Angels, and partially based on stories I heard of my grandmother’s single visit circa 1974.  To hear her tell it, everyone walked around naked on the streets there, had hard liquor with a chaser of hallucinogens for breakfast, prayed to statues, and slept with people before asking their names.  (In five subsequent visits since 1989, I have never seen a single naked person on the street, although perhaps I am visiting the wrong places because more modern family members visited last summer, and texted me to tell me about the naked guy standing on the street corner by Disneyland advertising some club.)

My first visit was to the Bay Area in 1989, a few weeks after the big earthquake, for a cousin’s wedding.  Because the bridge was still out, many people who had responded yes were unable to come and my cousin filled the empty seats with patients from the drug rehab center she worked at.  It was around Halloween, and they showed up at this formal country club wedding in costume.  The groom was also a former patient, he was the first man who ever told me I was beautiful, and the marriage lasted less than a year.  None of those facts are connected, I merely state them to point out that had I been predisposed to stereotypes, my impression might have been similar to that of my grandmother’s. 

My aunt and uncle, who were transplants from New Jersey and “killed” their East Coast relatives by moving out there, were proud to show a new generation some of the very real attractions there.  Their modest suburban home had a breathtaking view, and their cabin in the woods was surrounded by redwoods I had only heard about in textbooks.  We drove through miles of lush farmland and had delicious meals composed of local produce.  Everyone was preternaturally friendly and generous.  While one cousin had converted to Sikhism in a rebellion against our strong Italian Catholic background, I had to give her points for originality (everyone else was becoming Buddhist).  

Diptyque Tam Dao reminds me of my first glimpse of California– giant tree canopies and martinis on cliffs with ocean breezes, ubiquitous hot tubs (one stereotype that is entirely verifiable), and bountiful buffet brunches with string instruments playing in the background. While the inspiration is Eastern, to me it is filtered through a clear California sensibility– clean, modern, and dry as a good Chardonnay aged in an oak casket.  Given that the fragrance is centered on sandalwood, it is not what I expected– there is incense here, but it is ambiance sticks in a chic boutique, not a gilded temple.  

According to Fragrantica, top notes in Tam Dao are rose, myrtle and italian cypress; middle notes are sandalwood and cedar; base notes are spices, amber, white musk and brazilian rosewood.  The sandalwood is dry, not creamy, and inhaling takes me right back to the Shadowbrook in Capitola, one of the most unique restaurants I have ever had the pleasure of dining in.  Tam Dao is available in EdT and EdP concentrations from LuckyScent, and can also be found at Beauty EncounterNordstrom, and in Europe from Diptyque’s website. LuckyScent indicates different notes for the EdP concentration; this review is based on a sample of the EdT from my own collection.  Prices vary depending on concentration and size of fragrance, but average $80 for a 1.7 oz EdT.  

This review is in memory of my beloved California Uncle Armand; I hope that heaven has you reunited at the cabin with Aunt Gilda and all the people you love.  



Posted in Diptyque, Sandalwood, Woody fragrances | Tagged | 10 Comments

Let There Be Light! (Winner of Dior Mitzah decant giveaway, finally)


Short but sweet– lack of power in half my house for 9 days (the half of the house that includes the refrigerator, microwave, stove, air conditioning, television, internet and clothes dryer) has left me gasping to catch up.  We finally have the redraw of the Dior Mitzah decant giveaway.  Congratulations Nadja!  Please email me at nancyknowsbest at live dot com with your address so I can send you your prize. Thank you all for your patience. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments