Saturday, 18 September 2010

100th post musings, a tribute to Ambre Sultan and Vetiver Extraordinaire and a giveaway

Ok, so this is my 100th post. In a way I am almost surprised that I got here. When I first started blogging back in March this year I started with some trepidation. My main stumbling block was the nagging thought of how self-indulgent blogging can be, and I think I actually made mention of this in my 1st post. Thinking of where I am now, I still think my perfume musings are somewhat self-indulgent, but I can also honestly state that I love doing this. I try not to take myself too seriously - after all, I'm a bean counter, not Bertrand Duchafour. One thing that still worries me a little bit after six months of blogging is whether I am truly objective and unbiased, or for that matter, should I be? It's not as if I am a reviewer for the New York Times, with a paying audience. Having said this, I honestly do try to give every perfume I try a fair go, and to write about it as objectively as I can. Touching on that point in the first sentence of this post, I am a little surprised  I've stuck it out thus far. In this busy world, blogging is really quite low on my list of priorities, and I never wanted to get to the point where I felt anxious if I didn't manage to post an article each day, or something like it. In fact, I told myself that if I ever reach that state, I will pack it in, because this is not a job, it's recreation. And I'm not aiming for world peace (just a nice-smelling world ;-) ).

Moving on, I can't get this far and not make mention of two perfumes that changed my perfume life, and helped me experience a paradigm shift from simply viewing fragrance as something I wear to something I live. At the risk of coming across a bit melodramatic, Serge Luten's Ambre Sultan and Frederic Malle's Vetiver Extraordinaire revolutionised the concept of perfume and perfumery for me, making me realise that perfume is truly an art form, and that like any art, can lead you down a path of amazing discovery and self-realisation. I don't aim to review either of these perfumes today, but they both represent for me an ideal in perfume. I was thinking about this and realised that after 100 posts, I haven't reviewed either before. At first I was surprised, but after some reflection I realised that for me to reduce these two masterpieces to mere sentences would not do them justice. For me, to try and analyse these too much would be to risk spoiling their magic. Ambre Sultan and Vetiver Extraordinaire take me on a journey when I wear them and represent to me all that is good and magical and transcendent about perfume, a rare occurrence let it be said. Perfumes like these is one of the reasons I chose to start a perfume blog and this post is my chance to pay homage to them and their creators, Dominic Ropion and Christopher Sheldrake and to people like Frederic Malle and Serge Lutens, who have helped enable them.

I also want to say thank you to those of you who visit my blog, be it regularly or infrequently, and especially the kind comments I have received. I don't have a huge following and it is not my intention or drive to achieve this anyway. However, it is still gratifying to have built up some online contact with a few fellow perfume lovers out there in the ether and I love visiting your blogs too. 

Ok, so now for my giveaway. It's nothing stupendous, but I'd like you to mention two (or one, if you only have one) perfumes that transcend your concept or understanding of perfume, that induces in you some sort of profound emotion. The giveaway will be a small set of samples (about 5 -7, I haven't quite decided yet), covering hopefully a range of styles and houses. I'd prefer not to mention what the samples are, as I am not affiliated to any perfume house. The winner will be chosen randomly by a member of my household (probably excluding pets) and announced this coming Friday. The winner can then send me an email with their personal details.


  1. Michael, what a lovely post. I have certainly enjoyed reading your blog and feel you have accomplished just what you set out to do, and very well I might add.

    Blogging about perfume - or anything, for that matter - may be a bit self indulgent, but so what? Are we not allowed that?

    Two perfumes that changed my life - and my experience of perfume as a transcendent art form - are Borneo 1834 and, most recently, Montale's Black Aoud. Both have nearly brought me to tears with their beauty and strength (I, too, can be a bit dramatic at times) and have awakened something within me that was silent before.

    Thanks to you, Michael, for becoming a perfume blogging friend. I look forward to both your posts and your comments on my own blog. Your opinion and insight about perfume often inspires me.

    Congratulations on your 100th post.

  2. Josephine thank you for your kind comments and understanding. Borneo 1834 and Black Oud are indeed lovely fragrances. Now that the weather is changing in the UK, I can definitely see myself revisiting my sample of Borneo 1834! Kind regards, Michael

  3. Michael, I've had doubts as well regarding my blogging but I think it's only normal. I try to be as objective as I can, but then, when I seriously like something, I cannot and don't even try to hide my love. :)
    One perfume that is trascendental for me is Timbuktu.

  4. Thanks Ina. Nothing wrong with wearing your heart on your sleeve, fragrance-wise. Timbuktu is an interesting fragrance - I was thinking of reviewing it the other day actually, but struggled to put my thoughts onto paper for some reason - it confuses me sometimes!

  5. Congratulations on your 100 post blog! Your lack of a "huge following" is certainly a mystery to me! It's a pleasure to read your evaluations and opinions of fragrances-including many that are unfamiliar to me. I've sampled several on your recommendation : )

    A few decades ago(sigh), the discovery of L'Heure Bleue temporarily changed me into a perfume monogamist! It was several years before I was ready to hit the dating scene again. This past year I've again had the pleasure of smelling two fragrances that literally brought tears to my eyes-"vintage Diorissimo" and Dominique Dubrano's "Mecca Balsam".

    Hooray! for a world where such amazing fragrances exist.

  6. Thank you for the kind comments Cymbaline. I find L'Heure Bleue an incredibly evocative perfume and quite mysterious. Mecca Balsam is great, and has quite a presence for an all-natural perfume.

  7. Hi Michael,

    I just posted this on "Muse With Wooden Shoes", but original Feminite du Bois changed my appreciation of fragrances. I discovered it at Nordstroms in probably 2000 or 2001 (trying to gauge by when my family moved closer to me). I tried it on and hated it. Within a half hour my nose was glued to my wrist. I asked for a bottle for the holidays and my father drove two hours away to VA to get it for me. Well, when the Sheseido version could no longer be found in stores, and after purchasing a replacement bottle on ebay, someone mentioned that it was being re-released, so I went searching on the web and ran across a little company called Serge Lutens... from reviews on SL, I eventually ran across blogs and retailers that specialized in hard-to-find/high quality fragrances.
    Which leads me to #2, which is a tie between Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower and Musc Ravageur. If twisting my arm, I would have to say that CF is more "game-changing" in that, I could never wear big florals before (I leaned toward woodsy or gourmand). To me, wearing CF is like wearing a big flower in my hair. And I love wearing it when it's hot, hot, hot. It's so pure and potent.

    Congrats on the 100th mark!


  8. Thanks for the interesting comment Rebagay. I love Carnal Flower, but as a man, I must confess that tuberose is rather difficult to pull off! Love it though.

  9. Congratulations on reaching your 100th post, Michael. I look forward to reading the next 100.



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