Scented holiday musings

This holiday, we were fortunate to be able to fly to visit extended family in New Mexico and enjoy homey gatherings with children, dogs, and good comfort food. In an effort to cultivate a new generation of perfumistas, I brought a bag of varied samples for the young nieces we were staying with to explore. Not surprisingly, they seemed to gravitate toward the more “modern” fragrances such as the aquatic, figgy Pier NY by Kierin NYC. We will see what happens in a decade or so.

I also give myself a pat on the back for correctly identifying the current version of Miss Dior that another, older niece was wearing on Christmas Day. It sounded like she bought it because she needed a new perfume and the salesperson at the mall was quite aggressive in promoting it; she thought “it smells fine” and went for it.

Games are par for the course at these gatherings, and it was interesting to be reminded of how differently we all think. For example, in a Pictionary-style game, if the answer is a phrase with 3 words, do you draw them from left to right? Stacked on top of each other? Do you use symbols like plus or minus? Do you interpret the symbols correctly? (I totally read a minus as a hyphen…) When our logic is inherently different, it’s no surprise that we see some other things differently, too.

When I first walked into the kitchen where we stayed, I thought I caught a strong whiff of sweat. Someone must have been working hard outdoors that day. However, in the following days, the persistent scent became more aromatic, and I realized I was smelling the dried juniper berries on the wreath hanging on the window. It took a while for me to see them hidden among all the greenery! Once I’d identified them, though, they smelled exactly like the thick juniper berry SCO2 extract that I have.

I knew from previous experience that the desert climate evaporates perfumes quickly, so I needed to bring ones that would last a day without constant reapplication. The Amouage sample set of extraits that I received as part of the virtual ScentXplore event earlier this month did the trick. Epic 56 Woman is my favorite from the set—patchouli is the most immediately recognizable note, but it’s meant to open with cumin, pink pepper and cinnamon, with heart notes of rose, jasmine tea, and geranium, before yielding to an ambery drydown of woods and resins (as perfumer Cécile Zarokian explained during ScentXplore, all Amouage perfumes have a “resinous patina” and a “classic floral heart.”) I also enjoyed Interlude 53, with its smoky leather and chewy opoponax, although my other half perceived cigarette smoke from it that I didn’t. I later got to try Interlude Black Iris, which was less smoky, milder, and more orris forward.

True to my habit of consuming non-English films on the plane with subtitles, I watched Les Traducteurs (The Translators) on the way out. The plot revolves around an ambitious book release with 9 simultaneous translations. At one point, some of the translators are chatting around a table with what looked like Diptyque candles, but that is as far as scent goes in this movie. It’s part literary, part mystery, and part survival thriller where no one could trust each other. The scene that impressed me most was one where the translators, trapped in a bunker, shouted instructions to each other in various languages that they, but not their captor, could understand. A true multinational team effort. I wouldn’t mind watching it again now that I know how it ends, to see what I missed in previous scenes when I didn’t.

On the way back, I watched La Fine Fleur (The Rose Maker), which had a somewhat predictable plot with obligatory tugs at the heartstrings (a woman who hybridizes roses is about to lose her family business, and her associate hires 3 former petty criminals to work for them as part of their “rehabilitation” program while she tries to outsmart her sleazy, big-brand competitor), but oh the gorgeous rose fields! And a fair dose of sniffing, which, if accurate, makes me want to start collecting various rose oils. A leathery rose? Sign me up! A rose that smells like orange and chocolate? I shan’t rest until I find it.

Screenshot from La Fine Fleur
Screenshot from La Fine Fleur
Screenshot from La Fine Fleur—This is the rose oil that purportedly smells like orange and “Nesquik,” or chocolate

Hope you all are having a joyous and restful holiday season!

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