It’s the end of week 15 of working from home for me—I’ve slouched back into the habit of not bothering to turn on the video on calls most of the time at work, but recently thought it might be worth getting a webcam for my personal desktop computer. Who knew—and yet, not surprisingly at all—the Best Buy stores within a large radius of me are completely sold out of webcams.
The other category experiencing a nationwide shortage is entry-level bicycles, as many more people have discovered the joy of the outdoors with less car traffic. I realize I’m probably an anomaly in being perfectly content to keep my own two-wheeler propped on a trainer indoors as a makeshift stationary exercise bike. I get nervous riding with other people anywhere near me.
My weekend was spent, in large part, with my nose buried in the latest 2 issues of Nez magazine, a treasure trove of olfactory knowledge and exceptional writing (joys multiplied!). The most recent, issue #9, is centered on world travel, precisely because we’ve been deprived of the same for long enough to feel the ache.
I got a few requested free samples with my purchase of the magazines, one of which was Bohea Bohème by Mona di Orio—entirely because of a whole column (half page) dedicated to it in Neil Chapman’s delightful and enlightening book Perfume: In Search of Your Signature Scent, in which he posits that this perfume is “ideal for a sensitive soul. Someone […] who loves smoky scents, tobacco and Sherlock Holmes.”
I’ve been a fan of the iconic fictional detective since childhood, and I’ve seen most of the TV-show renderings of Sherlock Holmes mysteries. My favorite is the Granada TV series that aired between 1984 and 1994, starring the late Jeremy Brett in character true to the novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His deliberate facial expressions, accentuated by his angular features, and triumphantly sardonic exclamations of “Ha!” are second to none. My second favorite is the black-and-white film series from 1939-1946, starring Basil Rathbone. Finally, the now-discontinued Elementary, with Jonny Lee Miller as a recovering heroin addict and Lucy Liu as “Joan Watson,” set in modern-day New York City, was very impressive in its adaptation to the digital age and its integrity to the platonic stoicism between the main characters over 7 seasons.
What of the perfume, then? I was disoriented by the highly camphorous, mentholic, medicinal mouthwash opening of Bohea Bohème. It was an immediately recognizable, green burst of something, which my other half quickly identified as patchouli. (Usually, he’ll name this as I rack my brains over the familiarity of the scent in a perfume I’m getting to know, and it’ll be there when I look up the description.) This note stayed prominent on me for most of the day—this dark, slightly burnt, earthy green. I struggled to perceive the advertised tea note. It was definitely a fragrance I could associate with the closed, rare-monograph–filled, organized clutter of Sherlock Holmes’ library, where he might sit on leather furnishings in a sharp tweed suit, having just smoked from his pipe.
I would have failed, however, any test for detecting these “Notes to Notice” from the brand: black tea oil, Florentine iris, blue chamomile, poplar bud absolute, fir balsam fraction, smoked juniper, oakwood absolute, beeswax absolute.
Interestingly, patchouli is not listed.
On the drydown, I was able to get—very close to the skin where I’d dabbed—a comforting woody milkiness (which my other half described as “chocolatey”), perhaps in part due to the presence of gaiac. Where I’d sprayed, however, the scent didn’t stray from the uncompromising green leatheriness that persisted through most of the day. It wasn’t until the evening that I realized why it was so familiar—it reminded me of Private Label by Jovoy! A spritz of the latter confirmed this, although I feel it gets to the point of smoky papyrus-leather more quickly, without the vague floral detours. (It also admits to patchouli in the heart.)
Not so elementary, this one…