Monday, March 19, 2012

without winter

 [image via

This winter, I never moved my bike from the back porch to the basement. This was a huge difference from last winter in Cambridge, when the snowbanks were high enough that you couldn't tell which ones concealed cars, and the bike lane disappeared for months. As a  result of all that cold and grey, I got on a serious amber kick, culminating in the purchase of a big old brick of Annick Goutal's Ambre Fétiche, a sticky (but still somehow so dry!) syrup blanketbomb whose bottle alone felt as wrong to the touch this winter as my all-wool leggings.

During this weird nether-weather winter, I got hooked on Narciso Rodriguez for Her.  Something about NR for Her came especially alive for me, some bright cottony aspect that blooms best on sunny, chilly days, a burst of warmth that I don't usually smell until at least the third spray, and then puff, there it is (that there even is a third spray of this not-timid fragrance should reveal how hooked I am). It wears like a mood ring, knows when to scale back its musky bits and when to purr, shimmers and recedes throughout the day like a scarf that knows how to read a room's temperature in every sense of the word. NR for Her seemed even to go with the clothes that I wore all non-winter: a thick canvas jacket and fingerless gloves.

NR for Her and Lana Del Rey's "Video Games" have more in common than my inability to quit them 

I ignored NR for Her when it came out, in part because I'd heard (and agreed at first sniff) that it was "reminiscent of Miss Dior Cherie," a perfume I get too much of a cheap beer note from to enjoy wearing, though smelling it on others does take me back to my college days. (To be clear, I'm still fond of cheap beer, but these days I prefer to enjoy it in contexts other than basements coated in spilled beer, party sweat, and a cloud of competing Bath & Body Works body sprays. Sweet Pea! You were so good to me. Do college girls still wear Bath & Body Works sprays? Or is it all Victoria's Secret Extreme Sexy Dream Harbor SexyHot Angels' Mist?)

 [image via Rodarte's tumblr]

There are perfumes I love more than Narciso Rodriguez for Her, but I haven't had such a monogamous run with a single fragrance since Lolita Lempicka circa 2001. I would call it a rut if I weren't so eager to coat myself with NR for Her, even today--the day before the first day of actual spring, 73 degrees outside and everyone in Cambridge playing tennis and wearing t-shirts--when I'm tempted, but can't quite bring myself, to mark the season change with something new.


Elisa said...

OMG! You get cheap beer from Miss Dior Cherie too?? I thought I was the only one. (I'm referring to the original version; I haven't smelled the reworked/rebranded one.)

I have a scent strip of NR for Her on my desk right now. I've been experimenting with layering it with a more "natural" orange blossom soliflore. A nice effect, but I think I prefer NR for Her straight up, in all its sweet musky wall of orange glory.

nosy girl said...

Yes! Cheap beer & strawberries, making it even more college-y. Do you ever smell a peanuty note in cheap beer? I don't get peanut from Miss Dior Cherie, but it is that genre of bargain-basement peanut keg-beer that MDC calls to mind.

Mmm, a musky wall of orange glory. Say it again.

Elisa said...

Peanut note! Never noticed it before, but I'll look for it now. (Did you see my post about smelling fish in coffee?)

nosy girl said...

Yes! I had that tab open for so long, Elisa (that's my commenter-style: just leave a tab open and think about it for a few days). I think I know just what you mean about fish in coffee, as coffee seems like one of those substances capable of putting off every note known to man. This is brewed coffee rather than the beans, yes? And what is that smell that sticks to clothes after sitting in a coffee shop but is never found in the coffee shop itself? It's...rusty or something, but warmer than that. Like rusty yeast. I also get melon & nail polish remover, but clove & raspberries is all new to me. I'm going to look (sniff? nose?) out for it.

Elisa said...

I get the fish note in the unbrewed coffee but I've also smelled it in coffee breath so some part of it must survive the brewing.

Britta said...

This post begs the question I've been meaning to ask you for years: how do you choose a perfume, E? (Both Es, for that matter!) I'm so inundated at department store counters, and I don't know how to imagine the scents when I read about them... And I don't trust those thin paper strips to tell me much about how the scent would smell on me.

So, how do you do it?

Time for Elizabeth's primer.

nosy girl said...

I have no method, dear B, just mad sniffing, whenever I get the chance. I also read more than my fair share of perfume-related blogs, and my ears perk up (my nostrils flare?) when I read a description that makes note of a perfume I already know I love (this happened most recently with the wonderful Victoria of Bois de Jasmin's review of Spicebomb, which I hadn't planned on being interested in, but became fixated on sniffing after Victoria compared it to Tobacco Vanille and Tea for Two). I'm also a serious sample-scavenger and like you, I need to smell on skin, not just paper. And I'm often surprised how a fragrance I once thought wasn't for me rears up later and becomes something I love--it feels sort of like the right book at the right time deal that we were chatting about the other day (so I like to keep all my shelves crowded). It helps to have friends (like Elisa) with amazing collections that they let you sniff! (Come back, Elisa! Come visit, B!)

Also, do you have Perfumes: The Guide? I think you need it and would love reading it.

Elisa said...

I am also really on the hunt for Spicebomb. I tried it from a scent strip and it really does smell like Tea for Two.

Britta, when I help people find a perfume, we usually sniff a bunch of stuff on strips, then try the top 5-6 on skin, then wander around and see which ones are still compelling an hour or so later. Then ask for samples. It can be hard to do it on your own though! Not knowing where to start, etc. I second Elizabeth's recommendation for the Guide. It lives semi-permanently on my bedside table.

nosy girl said...

Elisa, I smelled Spicebomb on a strip as well (I was delighted when it fell out of a Nordstrom catalog just as I was recycling it, the day after I read the Bois de Jasmin review!) and agree that it was so like Tea for Two, with an undercurrent of the richness I love about Tobbaco Vanille. Smelling it kind of made me want to just buy Tobacco Vanille (I already bought a bottle of Tea for Two during a rare L'artisan sale last summer) and I would, if it Tobacco Vanille were even close to the price of Spicebomb. I need to smell Spicebomb again, though, but they didn't have it at Sephora in Cambridge. I think Tea for Two is wonderful, but I never really reach for it, you know? I want to smell it, but I don't know if I want to smell it on me.

Preets said...

Hey, I definitely smell that fish note in coffee breath! But have never noticed a peanut note in cheap beer. I'll keep my nose open for it, the next time I'm around large quantities of cheap beer, which hopefully will be never.

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