The past is not forever, and osmanthus is not leather

I’m often a late adopter of technologies—I was among the last (if not the last) of my friends to get a mobile phone when they started becoming common (remember polyphonic ringtones?), late to the game of smartphones (I eased myself into it with a slider phone that revealed a separate keyboard underneath), and I upgrade now only when my current phone starts to glitch and the battery needs constant charging.

My last 2 phones have reached this point almost exactly at the 2-year mark when my contract ended, and for the latest one, this would have been last year. My other half and I would always joke cynically about “planned obsolescence,” surmising that the companies designed devices to malfunction after a set time so we would be forced to buy new ones. To my great surprise, it held up, and I started wondering whether the faceless corporations kept their fingers off the switch because of the difficulties people were facing during the pandemic. Now, after over 3 years, it’s reached its senescence, so I bought a new phone.

Because I purposely did not back up my data to the cloud, I could not transfer over my text messages (a consequence I knew and was willing to face). So I spent a disproportionate amount of time engrossed in revisiting them before the final delete. This isn’t as daunting as it might sound because I normally keep only the texts I might want to read again, so there’s no clutter of singular “LOL” chat bubbles, for example. Still, it put me into a bit of mental overdrive and cut into my sleep time. It was hard to focus on anything else, even when my order of new aroma materials arrived and the whole apartment started smelling like lactones (to my surprise, not particularly milky or pleasant) before I got to study them.

Going through the various conversations was like watching a time lapse video of my life over the past 3 years. Some significant things have happened, both to me and others, and yet the thread of consistency is apparent. Either the changes were gradual, or the processing of them is. At the same time, the words—in the exact same form as when they were first received—can be enough to transport one back to the thoughts and feelings of the original moment in time. A bit like an out-of-body (out-of-mind, then?) experience.

Something I realized during this psychically demanding exercise is that the main reason to try to remember details about other people is for the sake of future interactions with them. This ties into other thoughts I’ve been mulling over about the kinds of questions people ask when getting to know someone better, ideas about identity, etc., which I won’t go into now. After sliding through several parallel portals leading into the past, I’m now ready to march forth into the future.

During this time, I’ve been testing perfumes around the leather note, contrary to the season (this week is flanked by 2 heat waves, although the weekdays were a bit chilly. I selected the samples that were free with a purchase). Parfum d’Empire Cuir Ottoman was disappointingly a no-go for me. Stated notes are jasmine, leather, iris, benzoin, balsams, resins, incense, and it seems heavy on the second half of the list—overall, powdery and a bit sour. Perris Monte Carlo Absolue d’Osmanthe drew me in with a gorgeous opening (which I take to be the osmanthus, plum, baie rose, and jasmine sambac as declared), but without even showing the other credited cast of characters (sandalwood, tolu balsam, castoreum, labdanum, vanilla, and dry woods) to me, became a linear note of gamma undecalactone, typically used in peach-forward fragrances.

Les Indémodables Cuir de Chine promised to be a realistic osmanthus and tobacco, which I found intriguing. With the brand’s focus on high-quality, natural materials, the featured notes in Cuir de Chine are Chinese osmanthus absolute 1%, Chinese osmanthus “alcoolat” Grand Cru 10%, Turkish “tabac blond” absolute .2%, and Alpine clary sage. I have osmanthus absolute, blond tobacco absolute, and clary sage essential oil from different sources, but have never mixed them together.

The perfume smelled true to the ingredients, though, bringing the astringent aspect of osmanthus to the forefront. The clary sage seems to highlight the greener facets of both the osmanthus (the absolute in full concentration is, in fact, a dark green hue) and the tabac blond. I find this both fresh and a bit challenging. It is billed as a “paradoxical perfume,” and to me this manifests in typically “darker” materials appearing light by way of reflection on a dark surface, a bright jasmine providing this illumination. The notes seem to oscillate between feeling very separate and coming together in their hide-and-seek, the latter creating a tea-like impression that works well.

As far as osmanthus perfumes go, for me it will be very difficult to dethrone Parfum d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite.

2 thoughts on “The past is not forever, and osmanthus is not leather

  1. Let me guess: you are not an iPhone user, are you?
    I’m asking because over years I had just 3 iPhones, and none of them I had to replace (I mean, I had reasons to move to the next one, but those weren’t related to the ability of the devices themselves to serve their purpose).

    I think I don’t like osmanthus. I mean, I’m not sure how that note smells but some of the perfumes where it was supposed to be a leading one I didn’t care for much. If to think about it, I don’t like leather perfumes more often than I do. Some of them work for me, but I don’t know what is the differentiator.


    1. You called it! Android user here.
      In my mind I love osmanthus and leather notes, but I’m disappointed more often than not by perfumes featuring these notes. Some osmanthus perfumes smell watery or like peach (gamma undecalactone), and some leather ones have too much of an amber facet or something sour or powdery – those I don’t like. I like things to harmonize…

      Liked by 1 person

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