Jean Marie Farina Extra Vielle

Utterly delightful on a hot day, the classic Jean Marie Farina Extra Vielle (Roger et Gallet 1806) is olfactory refreshment. The citrus is present and bright but also so refined and herbal that it’s more like a cool drink of mineral water than the bright burst of lemon. Again, it’s wonderful. Of course, I think I’m smelling lavender but it’s likely a combination of petitgrain, neroli and cedar instead? Or maybe it’s the rosemary and petitgrain? At any rate, it’s as soothing as lavender and as elegant too. Of course, it’s not all that strong and only a faint hint is left for very long but on a day like today that’s just fine. More than fine. It’s lovely.

Top notes: bergamot, amalfi lemon, orange and mandarin orange. Middle notes: petitgrain, carnation, neroli, rosemary and rose. Base notes: clove, myrtle, cedar, sandalwood, musk, white amber and vetiver.

Lavande Royal

Lavande Royal (Roger et Gallet 1899) is predominantly lavender with a start of citrus and a depth to plumb of sultry, musky, vanillic cedar. It’s good. Very good. On me it smells pleasant but on my husband it’s nearly epic. Think the crispness of a classic manly vetiver (although this doesn’t have vetiver) with a sweet, mysterious edge. And in the drydown it’s powdery, tender and elegant. I love it.

Top notes: orange and mandarin orange. Middle notes: spices, lavender and geranium. Base notes: musk, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss and cedar.

Véritable Eau de Cologne Impériale 

An extremely herbal but ultimately elegant Guerlinade is Véritable Eau de Cologne Impériale Extra Dry (Guerlain 1904).  It’s green but demure and detached in a cool, breezy sort of way. The lemon verbena is especially noteworthy. It meets other very verdant notes to create an olfactory sensation akin to taking a drink of cold mountain fresh water. The neroli is lovely too. And while I can’t find a complete list of notes is it possible the bergamot is mixing with vetiver, a delicate rosemary and cedar? Of course, all these sharp notes are held to earth by the perfect choice of warm base notes. 

Acqua Classica 

Reminiscent of Acqua di Parma Colonia there’s a sunny citrus, herbal green brightness and an airy, cool and crisp floral charm in Acqua Classica (Bosari 1870 1880). It’s actually even almost watery in the manner of much more contemporary fragrances… like L’Eau D’Issey Pour Homme. But regardless of what you compare it to, it’s a genuinely elegant and refreshing classic that a well dressed individual might enjoy in warmer weather… Could easily be paired with linen.  

Eau de Cologne Quintessence 

Eau de Cologne Quintessence by Agnel of Paris (Agnel 1900’s or so?) is very rare so I’m truly guessing at the notes in this vintage bottle. To my nose, punchy lemon, orange, rosemary, geranium, and eucalyptus at the start are refreshing. Then soft florals and fizzy orris root are combined with woody amber and later a rich styrax and musk. It’s very slightly and perfectly spicy, decadent and beautifully structured. Like a dense sort of breeze blowing from a much more romantic past wafts of this scent are nearly transformative and uplifting… 

Eau de Cologne Imperiale 

Eau de Cologne Imperiale (Guerlain 1853) is an herbal beauty is cedar and citrus with a particularly piny lemon and crisp bergamot at the opening. Rosemary, lemon verbena and neroli mix into the dry down and it’s similar to No. 4711 but there’s that perfectly balanced, and very elegant Guerlinade that adds a special charm.

Top notes: orange, citruses, lemon verbena, neroli, bergamot, and lemon.  Base notes: rosemary, tonka bean, and cedar.

Nose: Pierre Francois Pascal Guerlain


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Jicky is a spunky, sassy, gorgeous scent (Guerlain 1889).  I’ve read that it’s a predecessor of Shalimar and I can see how that olfactory evolutionary connection is made ( it also reminds me a bit of other Guerlains actually – Vol de Nuit and Chamade) but I don’t think it is at all fusty or less rambunctious than Shalimar actually…    It’s a bit wilder almost than Shalimar to my nose.  There’s the note of leather combined with basil, bergamot, Brazilian rosewood and sandalwood (or is it the jasmine too or no?) that seems almost animalic.  If Shalimar is a flapper than Jicky is a naughty socialite from the Victorian Era who carefully guards her secrets under a cloud of elegant Guerlinade to protect her reputation.  Many also claim to detect a strong note of vanilla, especially in the drydown, and while I can certainly detect it, I find it overpowered by the other more powdery, saucy notes.

No, Jicky is not a prim and proper scent, unless you neglect to read past the first lines…

Top notes: rosemary, bergamot, lemon and mandarin.  Middle notes: orris root, rose, vetiver, tonka bean, jasmine and basil.  Base notes:  benzoin, amber, sandalwood, leather, civet, spices, vanilla and Brazilian rosewood.

Lil’ and Lex: Part III of IV

It was a cloudy, overcast day in late June when I found my Grandma Dory sitting in her room staring at a photo album while she sat on her bed at the nursing home.   Her hair was still in curlers and she sat with a cup of hot tea at her side, her blinds still drawn shut as tears fell down her cheeks.

“What’s wrong Grandma?”

She turned her face away and tried to compose herself as quickly as she could before responding.  “Oh, I’m just being a sentimental fool.  That’s all kiddo.”

“What’s wrong?”

Grandma Dorothy shakes her head and then meets my eyes.  I can see that far away look behind the shades of blue and it instantly hits me that she might be thinking about “him” again.  How fortuitous….

“What’s that album of?”

She suddenly smiles and shrugs.  I sit on the bed next to her and ask, “Can I look at it too?”  She pushes it in my direction in response.

“Those are photos of your Grandma before she got old and ugly.”

I look up at her and smile, “Grandma you could never be ugly.”

She grins sweetly in response and doesn’t even attempt a witty, sarcastic comeback.  I can tell that she really is deeply affected by whatever is in this album and the memories that go with it…

Then I see Lex.  He’s gorgeous.  And I see Grandma and she’s breathtaking and I stop.  It occurs to me that I’ve never seen my Grandma Dorothy looking this happy or beautiful in any other photo I’ve ever seen of her. That feels tragic to me…

“Who are these photos of?”

“You know who they’re of.”  She looks at me and grins knowingly.  I’m shocked.

“How did you know that I knew?!”

She taps her head.  “You’re a very perceptive girl.   I just knew.”  She glances at me and for a second I feel outside of time.   I feel the wonderful weight of familial love and a sense of perspective often sadly lost in most everyday moments.

“So what happened?!”

“You want to talk about it, huh?”  It’s about right now that Grandma would have lit a cigarette and started puffing away with almost menacing sharpness, but she didn’t smoke anymore.

“I do.  Is that bad?”

“No, I suppose I need to tell someone.  I told your Aunt Carol some of it,”  she looks off now and murmurs to the side with a bit of irony and mirth, “maybe she told you too.”

“I had a wild, wonderful romance with a boy named Lex in the late 1930’s. I met him at a spring party at my Uncle Lester, your Great Great Uncle Lester’s place in Vermont.  We started talking and we found we had so much in common.  He was raised in California too but had family back east, and he was the best conversationalist.  I fell madly in love with him the minute he opened his mouth…”

“He died in World War II though right?”

“Yes, he did…”  Silence.

I look around the room at the cool shades of blue and white that surround us.  Soft fabrics drape over hard surfaces and pops of yellow add hope and light to the quiet, serene elegance of my Grandma Dorothy’s decorating.  A bouquet of bright yellow daffodils catch my eye and retain my attention long enough for my Grandma to notice.

“He was the love of my life,”  She says bluntly and draws my focus back toward her face.

“More so than my Grandpa?”  I ask just as bluntly in reponse.

“More so than any man ever.  He was just the best…”

“When you die, I hope you meet him in heaven,”  I say quietly.

Dorothy shifts her head to the side and a whimsical, telling look lights her face.  “Oh, I think I will.  I just wish it didn’t mean saying goodbye to all of you…”

The ride home from the nursing home that day was speechless.  My father and I didn’t say a word to each other.  I just stared out the window and thought about what would happen the day Dorothy left us.

English Lavender

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Compared to Potter and Moore English Lavender, Yardley English Lavender (Yardley 1873) is not as crisp, and with much less emphasis on citrus.  It’s still refreshing but where I envision Potter and Moore’s lavender bouquet being suitable for a warm day outdoors, Yardley’s seems much more suitable for the indoors.  Matter of fact, it almost has the scent of old books (Clary sage, musk and bergamot? Or is it the geranium?)…

Eucalyptus adds an herbal edge, and the tonka bean mixes with all the notes to almost hint at the smell of pipe tobacco. But, of course, in the midst of all the unhurried and tasteful notes is the almost incandescent lavender.  It’s dewy and youthful but with a seriousness and reserve.

Truly though, despite its innate youtfulness, I think Yardley, English Lavender could be worn by a man or a woman; both young and old.  It’s a lovely, timeless scent…

Top notes: rosemary, eucalyptus, lavender and bergamot.  Middle notes: clary sage, cedar and geranium.  Base notes: tonka bean, musk and oakmoss.

I hope whoever read my first “story of the month” enjoyed it a little, despite the many edits I missed and the fact that it’s my first attempt at a short story in a long time.  I’m currently working on two novels and writing a short story is good for me.  It helps me realize my weaknesses as a writer and, best case scenario, gives me a chance to improve.  Thank you again for reading.  Hopefully next month’s story will be better.  🙂   I’ll edit each part much more vigorously before each post.

Tomorrow is Friday…  Wow this month is going by fast.  Again…

Have a pleasant rest of your day.

Mitcham Lavender

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Launched by the English company Potter and Moore in 1749, Mitcham Lavender is a very aged, wonderfully soapy, gorgeous lavender scent.  To my nose I also smell wood notes, bergamot and perhaps leather.

Strangely, it’s almost “Chanelesque” in my estimation and reminds me slightly of Chanel no. 22 actually, but of course, it’s a very different sort of fragrance given its age and origin….

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My bottle was made as a commemorative souvenir for the Silver Jubilee of King George V in 1935.  It’s surprisingly well preserved.  I was more than pleasantly surpirsed by this sharp, poignant fragrance.

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Of course, King George V is the grandfather of the current Queen Elizabeth II (her father was King George VI).  And, again, of course, in 1924, the current year of Downton Abbey, George V was King. His reign lasted from 1910 until his death in 1936.

I wonder if any of the characters on Downton Abbey would have used Mitcham Lavender? It’s a unisex fragrance so there would be lots of characters to choose from…  Hmmm.  Too bad we can’t smell what we’re watching? 🙂

No. 4711

As you may have noticed, my husband and I enjoy visiting antique stores.  Well, a few years ago, I visited Third Floor Antiques in Red Wing, Minnesota.  We found the bottle of Muguet des Bois that I recently sold and two bottles of No. 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser.

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At first, I was disappointed when I tried No. 4711.  I found it strong, bitter and much too manly.  It was a scent very foreign to my modern nose. However, after a while I started to develop an appreciation for it, and now it’s a delight to wear.

It’s a scent with a history too…  No. 4711 was debuted in 1792 by Eau de Cologne & Parfümerie Fabrik Glockengasse No. 4711 gegenüber der Pferdepost von Ferd. Mülhens in Köln am Rhein. It’s a product of Cologne, Germany and is indeed the real “cologne” from Cologne. Presently, after going through many changes over the last 25 years it is now manufactured by Maurer and Wirtz.

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A friend of mine who grew up in France once told me that she used this cologne as a teenager in France and I’ve seen it sold in pharmacies when I’ve traveled to Europe.  To my nose, it is a very European scent, however, it certainly has been a part of American history too.  No. 4711 was supposedly a favorite of John F. Kennedy, and the fictional character Holly Golightly (as portrayed in the movie version by Audrey Hepburn) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

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No. 4711 is a wildly refreshing, clean, citrus scent that is oh so vintage. It’s uncompromisingly from the past, but in the very best, long-lost sense.  The romantic in me is automatically enthralled…

The top notes of  No. 4711 are listed as orange oil, lemon, bergamot, basil, and peach. Middle notes: jasmine, Bulgarian Rose, lily, melon, and Cyclamen. Base notes are listed as, patchouli, Tahitian vetiver, musk, sandalwood, oakmoss and cedar.

If you ever try it, I would suggest giving yourself time to cultivate an opinion.  Wear it on warm days.  Use it on cold days, and certainly give it time to proceed into the drydown.  It’s also worthwhile to try to find one of the older bottles.  I believe that in this case, the older version is preferable (and it’s not that expensive on sites like e-Bay actually).

Before I splashed on No. 4711, I decided to take a moment to relax and bathe in a tub of lavender bubbles created by Agraria Lavender & Rosemary Bath Salts sourced from the Dead Sea.  With a sharp, elegant lavender that slightly lingers on the skin it was the perfect match for No. 4711.

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Agraria Bath Salts, of Agraria San Francisco, are currently in lovely decorative boxes that come with a seashell to pour the salts into your water.   The scent is sold in soaps, lotions, candles and room diffusers, and if you’re interested, until tomorrow (Dec. 1) the online store is having a 25% everything sale.