Monday, 2 May 2016

Hay fever mayhem, featuring histamine hysteria and my putative 'pollen mule' puss

You would think I would have built up a tolerance by now
Well, I fully intended to retest an interesting line of niche perfumes from a company in the Pacific Northwest this weekend, but the holiday has been unexpectedly kiboshed by sudden onset hay fever. Now I know that hay fever is a common ailment - there are something like 18 million sufferers in the UK - yet as I have managed to dodge this irritating and debilitating condition for all of my nearly 57 years, I had thought I had got away with it altogether...and then bam!

So while I have been grappling with my symptoms, googling remedies and going in search of them, I haven't particularly felt like wearing perfume - indeed in my darkest moments (and there have been a few!) I wondered if hay fever might even be exacerbated by perfume, though I am currently in complete denial about that.

And just as allergic rhinitis, as it is medically known, has nothing to do with rhinos, neither does it have all that much to do with hay, it seems. Or fever for that matter - so far at least, though it has only been three days. Allergic rhinitis is a collection of pollen allergies, basically, and I didn't see hay actually feature in this list of key suspects, unless it counts as 'grass that has been around the block a bit'. Speaking of which, who knew Timothy and Cocksfoot were grasses? Hmm, based on the precise timing of different pollen types, I should be allergic to oak or plane, though I don't think there are too many of either kind of tree in my neighbourhood.

Source: Zirtek

There again, given that Truffle is now roaming quite far on her own, she could conceivably be acting as a 'pollen mule'. And every time I bury my face in her fur (which is a lot!) I may be unwittingly inviting a myriad of miscellaneous plant allergens to mount a multilateral attack. As for the possibility that I might suddenly have become allergic to cats, it has also gone straight into my complete denial spam folder.

Does this kitten look sheepish - and a bit powdery - to you?

So having dosed myself up with Piriteze and Sudafed nasal spray (not to be used for more than three days!), popped a turmeric tablet or two, and commissioned my elderly friend (aka ex-Mrs Bonkers Senior) to custom buy some locally sourced honey for me from her beekeeping neighbour, I decided that I would distract myself this weekend by doing a spot of much overdue housework. It was the profusion of Miss Havisham-style cobwebs that finally shamed me into this most shunned of chores, though God knows the sticky patina on the top of the extractor fan and clumps of dust drifting like tumbleweed under beds and chests of drawers should have been reason enough really.

And it did also occur to me that the cumulative effect of all this domestic sluttery might have been to precipitate a dust allergy! But if I am going to try to steer a perilous path between the Scylla and Charydis of outdoor pollen and indoor dust - nay, the Scylla, Charybdis, and Truffladis - of a possible cat hair allergy, life really won't be worth living. Especially with the added tack factor of a bit of Vaseline smeared inside my nose.

Here is Truffle preparing to deploy my (somewhat Heath Robinson-esque) telescopic cobweb-busting duster contraption.

So anyway, I hope to have properly got to grips with this annoying condition shortly - not least because I have a rush work project on, so I could do with being on top form, and not finding that performing the simplest of tasks is like wrestling a wriggly octopus in treacle. Plus I am genuinely impressed by this trio of perfumes I sampled, though even if fragrance doesn't make the hay fever worse as such, the latter is certainly capable of zapping my interest in perfume at the moment.

Oh, and nobody mention tonka or coumarin while we are about it...! ;)

Are you a seasoned sufferer? If you have any tips for a newbie I'd be glad to hear them. Though preferably not involving stripping off all my clothes and taking a shower every time I come into the house. The resultant irritation from all that extra laundry would be every bit as bad as the pollen.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

"Keep Me" - my Penhaligon's perfume pendant-protected puss!

I will be back presently with more substantial perfume posts - okay, somewhat less tangential perfume-related posts might be nearer the mark - but I have been away this weekend, and just have time to mention another rather fortuitous perfume/cat crossover, also involving Truffle's collar, as it happens!

For the kitten has been coming and going outside unsupervised for the past week now - I am gradually getting used to the feeling of not even knowing for sure whether she is in or out. She has been wearing a fabric collar (not the Gucci watch strap, sorry!) for a while now, onto the inside of which I wrote my mobile phone number with indelible marker pen.

I was conscious, however, of the fact that anyone who found her might not think to take the collar off and look on the inside, just as it might not occur to them to have her scanned for a chip, even though she has one. So I decided that the best way to make the kitten readily identifiable to the casual passer by was via a visible tag hanging off her collar.

After extensive Internet searches, I ordered three hand-stamped small tags on the Internet - well, it is always good to have a spare, and they were all so cute, and in such attractive metals and designs! Two are coming from an Etsy company in Florida that rejoices in the name of Critterbling. They are being sent first to Undina, as the company doesn't ship overseas, and she is kindly forwarding them on to me using our tried and tested mule service (aka a travelling colleague).

The other one was made in Quebec by another Etsy seller called M J Lessard, and it has just landed!

But because of the leadtimes involved with these transatlantic tags, I lit upon a cunning temporary solution, also one which would gradually accustom Truffle to wearing something around her neck. For my 50th birthday, my friend Clare gave me a perfume bottle pendant from Penhaligon's. You are supposed to commit a fragrance to the egg-shaped receptacle, from which you can refresh your chosen scent periodically using the dipper built into the screw top. (Well, me being me, obviously I never did any such thing, and the bottle remains empty to this day.)

The pendant has been worn though, most notably to my 'transcentendal meeting with Bertrand Duchaufour' on the occasion of the launch of Penhaligon's Amaranthine. Ooh, that is a genuine typo, but I rather like my new coinage...!

Now in addition to the chain the bottle hangs on, there was a tiny little rectangular tag on a separate loop. You could engrave the name of the perfume on it, I suppose, or your own name maybe. It bugged me ever so slightly, mind, because it made you tinkle when you walked. (In the auditory sense of the term, I hasten to add.)

But suddenly I spied a use for it as an improvised Truffle tag, and had the chap at Timpson's in town fetch it off the main chain and engrave my landline number on it instead! There was no room for the dialling code, but I am hoping that the chances of Truffle wandering out of the whole of Stafford are remote, though her territory is growing by the day.;)

When I got home, I slipped the tag on the kitten's collar in a trice and it hasn't bothered her in the slightest - no dangling in the food or anything else untoward. The plan is to upgrade to the slightly larger round tags when she is a little bigger and well used to the principle, though I don't foresee any problems based on how well she has adapted so far.

And here finally is a shot of her enjoying the sunshine the other day. Tagged, chipped, marked, and ready for action!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

'Remember Preston': a surprise perfume and music mecca of the North!

Harris Museum ~ Source: Wikimedia Commons
Back in July 2011, I was up in Preston for a Monochrome Set gig at the town's noted music venue, The Continental, and managed to fit in a lightning visit to the Harris Museum just before closing time. I was keen to have even a quick look at Britain's largest collection of perfume bottles, which is on permanent display there. Some seven months later, I blogged about the visit, apologising for my woeful snook-cocking at chronology. Then the other day- four years later!- I received the following comment under my 2012 post:

"Hello - I am a curator from the Harris Museum & Art Gallery and I've just read your blog entry. I'm sorry not to have read it sooner and/or known about your visit. There is an information sheet available on Mrs French's collection which I can send to any interested parties. But I'm afraid we have no idea about whether Mrs French loved perfume or scent generally. She certainly loved the bottles. We look forward to welcoming more perfume enthusiasts at the Harris in the future. 

Sending all best from Preston."

Now the reason I found this spectacularly asynchronous comment worthy of mention is because I happened to be in Preston again myself last weekend, for another gig by - you've guessed it - The Monochrome Set, their fourth at that same venue since 2011. So the timing of the curator's comment felt a little Twilight Zone-y. ;)

The Continental

On this occasion, instead of a last minute dash to the museum, I dived into Debenhams just before they closed, on a skincare-related mission that I am saving for another day. (I am stockpiling dermatological disasters, you see, until I have a quorum worthy of a post in their own right.)

Skincare solution sorted, and after an M & S salad, a bit of a lie down and a hot shower, I drove the half mile to the gig at what seemed to me to be the fashionably late hour of 9pm, Hmm, maybe not all that fashionable in hindsight, as the band weren't on till 10.15pm. (Oh, and I would normally walk such a derisorily short distance, but I was on band ferrying duty later, and stuck to the very wonderful Fentiman's Rose Lemonade all night. It is infused with spicy botanicals and is like drinking a pink version of Hendricks the gin.) I immediately ran into the singer in the beer garden, closely followed by fellow fan Andy V, whom I am proud to have converted to Ormonde Jayne. Isfarkand and Zizan are his two favourites from the line as regular readers may recall, but the samples I gave him have long since run out, so he has defaulted to his existing stocks of aftershave.

Like this, only dark ~ Source:

As is the way of perfumistas at large, I asked to sniff Andy, while the singer looked on in mild bemusement. I inhaled the merest vestige of a woody, spicy scent. "No idea" I said, with not even a millisecond's hesitation: "You're going to have to tell me."

"It's Bang!" he replied, "Cillit Bang!" Adding, after a dramatic pause, "Only kidding - it's by....."

"...Marc Jacobs, haha." I laughed, as I finished his sentence.

Next up, I made Andy V and the singer sniff my sample of Amouage Journey Woman, which Hamamelis had kindly sent me that very week. For a fruity floral with leather and tobacco and a smattering of spice it really is surprisingly light. To my nose, if you crossed APOM pour Femme with Diptyque Volutes edt you'd get a vague idea of how it smells. Then if you were to read the reviews on NST and Perfume Posse you'd get a much better one!

Source: Fragrantica

The pair leaned in and smelt my wrist assiduously several times. "It's supposed to represent Shanghai Art Deco or something", I added helpfully.

The singer looked incredulous: "Nah, I am getting more...more flowers, lots of flowers - we are talking French country garden."

So that was that, but whatever continent it conjures up, boy, do I love Journey!

Then inside the venue, I bumped into Andy's ex-wife J and her friend X (no, her name really did begin with 'X'!), who quickly engaged me in a conversation about perfume, announcing that they would both like to make their own natural fragrances - as would J's daughter, apparently, and did I know where to start. My mind quickly cycled through all the natural perfumers I had heard of - in the US, mostly - and I vaguely remembered that The Perfumer's Apprentice might be a good port of call for starter kits of materials. But I really didn't know what to advise, and admitted as much, adding that I would see if I could dig out any pointers on the Internet that might get them going. But even after having a look, I am still at a loss as to what to suggest to them, frankly - perfume making of any kind is just not something I have been interested in pursuing myself.

Is that you, Lindaloo?

J also remarked on how photogenic Truffle was, which reminded me that we must already be Facebook friends, and that J must therefore be one of the many hundreds of (apparently remarkably resilient!) people subjected to the near daily barrage of kitten pics...

Now J is a taxi driver, and recently picked up a lady who was wreathed in a cloud of Rochas Femme. (J couldn't resist asking her what she was wearing.) So we talked about that for a while: about vintage and modern versions of scents, and about reformulation and skin chemistry - sadly J's quest to find the very same version she sniffed in her cab is ongoing. Or it may just be that her own skin is not such a perfect canvas as that of her passenger. I mentioned that I had a smidge left of a vintage parfum formulation, not that we know if that is 'the one'...

But the perfume sub-theme to this gig did not stop there. For I handed over a bag of Le Labo samples to Caryne, who is in charge of band merchandise, and a vegan. A long-time Lush lover, she was sporting the new release All Good Things - it's reportedly a bit of a Marmite fragrance, but it was spectacular on her. I have only recently discovered that the Le Labo line is also vegan, so it will be interesting to get Caryne's take on the line.

And the last perfume-linked aspect of the gig - again thanks to one of my readers - was the fact that on the way out I donned the reflective armband that Ingeborg had kindly sent me, to boost my visibility in dark alleys and the like.

There's even the word 'band' in the name!

It didn't get much of a workout this time, as I was only walking a few yards to the car, but I am sure that in future there will be other possible outings.

Low jinks with the keyboard player ~ Source: Caryne Pearce

If anyone has any tips on how to go about making natural perfumes, do let me know in the comments!

Sunday, 10 April 2016

An interview with Matt M. Hewitt, perfumista and lead singer of prog rock group Palladium!

Regular readers are aware that I have three main themes on Bonkers: perfume, make up / skincare for 'mature problem skin' - well, some might argue that its being mature is a bit of a problem in itself ;) - and my travels, including business trips abroad and tours with The Monochrome Set. So music is a significant sub-plot on the blog, you could say, which is doubtless why I was recently fascinated to discover a 'card(ed sample)-carrying' perfumista with his own fragrance review channel (@FragranceMatt), who also happens to be the lead singer of Palladium. I should point out that Palladium is a progressive rock group, not a 'light metal band' as you could be forgiven for inferring from the name...;)

Now as with bell bottoms, smocks, vertiginous platforms, and little strawberry and snail patches applique'd onto my jeans, I feel I have done prog first time round. I had vinyl albums by Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream in the 70s, and am mostly into other genres these days. However, I think it is great that Matt and his bandmates should follow their musical muse regardless of fashion - and after listening to a few of their tracks on YouTube I can confirm that Palladium is still the real deal in 2016, if prog is your thing.

Here is a link to Palladium's album, Beyond the Red Curtain:

To explain how this all came about, Matt initially approached me on Facebook. I was flattered by the friend request, as it was clear from his fresh-faced avatar that I was old enough to be his mother, not that age matters really in Perfume Land. Matt's mum does in fact appear in some of Matt's fragrance review videos, most recently one in which he reviews Chanel No 5. (I might even be older than his mum, come to think of it. ;) )

Anyway, shortly afterwards I had the idea of inviting Matt to take part in a questionnaire to be featured on Bonkers: with questions that would be partly about his band, and partly his love of perfume. He agreed straight away, and had the bright idea of answering my questions in a YouTube video. It sounded like a good plan to me, as it saved him an awful lot of typing for starters, plus you will get more of an idea of Matt himself 'in person'.

So without further ado, here is the video he made!

So there you have it - Matt is that very rare bird of a fully formed fumehead-cum-musician, while my favourite band are still very much a work in progress. (More on that topic in a later - possibly even the next! - post.)

Oh, and the 'M' stands for Michael. Obviously I had to ask.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Proustian purses: travel bags of perfume samples with stories to tell

As time goes by, I seem to have accumulated more and more small bags full of perfume samples. Now I consciously put the word 'travel' in the title to distinguish the type of bags I am talking about from your basic polythene baggie with one of those easy seal tops that are in practice quite fiddly to close, especially when passing through security at airports. The staff will not fail to ask you to shut your bursting bag of sub-100ml toiletries that is on the point of disgorging its contents onto the belt, the gaping top of which you vainly try to conceal with some combination of passport, shoes and belt.

No, I mean the cosmetic or regular purse variety made of fabric or leather etc - and that's regardless of whether you do in fact travel with such things. And by purse I may mean wallet, depending on which side of the pond you are on.

Not the kind of travel bag in question!

So the other day I was having one of those 'reorgs', to reprise my favourite management speak term, and laid my multitudinous bags out on the bed, moving samples from one to another in a very loosely themed way: 'summer', 'winter', 'overflow winter','ones with myrrh in them', 'Guerlain Plus Que Jamais Only', 'a lucky dip of evening-y things I can just grab and go', and so on. But this post is not about the perfumes contained within, but rather the bags themselves, and the memories they evoke, which may only partly relate to their scented cargo.

So I have selected the purses (which is most of them!) which have a particular resonance - either because of the time they were acquired, or the place, or the person who gave them to me.

Source: tripadvisor

No 1 - The Düsseldorf bag

I have had this black patent bag since about 2008 at a guess. It was on offer in a bargain bin in one of those pharmacy-cum-perfumeries you get abroad - in a shopping mall in Düsseldorf. I bought a cheap bottle of Yves Rocher Voile d'Ambre at the same time, which turned out to be a mistake, and which was re-homed shortly thereafter. The bag has been an absolute workhorse ever since, however, and I just have to touch its shiny - and now somewhat scratched - surface to be instantly transported back to dark autumn nights in the the slippery mulch of leaves underfoot, and the inviting glint of tea lights in the windows of arty cafes; to grandiose buildings with baroque flourishes juxtaposed with more brutal concrete blocks; to the sluggishly dark depths of the river Ko, and the cosy wood panelled interiors of traditional German restaurants serving monstrous hunks of ham on the bone with sticky dumplings and mounds of vinegary cabbage.

No 2 - The Nick Gilbert bag

Now this bag wasn't given to me by Nick, but I associate it very closely with him because I bought it in T K Maxx the day before I went to meet him in the branch of Boots where he worked at the time - on a retail park on the outskirts of Bristol. Yep, I was his mate before he was famous! I managed to hover by his side for some two and a half hours while he let me test a ton of perfumes - including a bunch of men's scents which were new to me - without losing any sales in the process. I will have had the bag with me to show him some samples of my own and possibly to take home bits and pieces Nick gave me. It was six years ago, but I can place the bag at the scene!

Check out the funky interior!

No 3 - The lost Sabine elephant bag

Right, so this one was given to me by Sabine of Iridescents - she brought it back from her holiday in Thailand. I thought it very sweet, being a sucker for elephants in all their incarnations. I took it with me on my work trips last summer, full of pretty floral fragrances like Mona di Orio Tubereuse, which I remember wearing several days on the trot in the sweltering heat wave.

But then, not long after I had acquired it, the elephant bag was sadly lost in my stolen luggage, and I felt frankly bereft. So I was delighted when Sabine presented me with a replacement purse, bought on her next holiday to Japan!  No elephants, but a pretty velvet and brocade design in red and black.

No 4 - The repurposed Tara perfume bag

A few years ago Tara of A Bottled Rose gave me this charming bag for my samples, with an applique perfume bottle on it and my initials on the back. A perfume purse just doesn't get more quintessential than that! However, I must 'fess up to the fact that owing to its capacious size, it makes the perfect travel bag for make up, of which I need more - and more voluminous - items than perfume on a typical trip. ;)

No 5 - The vivid Val perfume pouch

I cannot for the life of me remember what was in this bag, but I know that Val kindly gave me some perfume in it. The quirky felt design with its retro tie closure - reminiscent of medieval money pouches, if you overlook the small matter of its being shocking pink! - is a gift in itself to be fair, and ideal for taking away a couple of larger decants, which is what I think may have been in it to start with. Half a story, I know - sorry, Val! 

No 6 - The go-to gig bag

I bought this pretty silk drawstring bag in a hippy shop in Sidmouth, which if any of you have been there - and I know Blacknall has - is an incongruous sort of emporium to find in a town congested with mobility scooters. Anyway, I love the fabric and the feel of it, and it holds enough small vials for a one-off gig (I need to whip up a bit of option anxiety even for a single night out!) or even a longer tour.

No 7 - The cat bag

I think this bag - a serendipitous find in T K Maxx a while back - was telling me to get a cat.


The cat's pyjamas - for Lindaloo

Do you have perfume sample travel purses that are lined with memories? 

Monday, 28 March 2016

My woman in Havana: a friend visits Habana 1791, a historic Cuban perfumery

Photo courtesy of Sheila Wilson
Shall I just stop here? I'll be honest, this entire blog post is but a flimsy vehicle for its winning title. But though it is tempting to quit while I am ahead, I will carry on, because there is a genuine perfume-themed story in here too. And then of course there's the fact that President Obama paid a state visit to Cuba this week, which finally galvanised me into blogging synchronicity.

Now I like to think of myself as having been good at geography from an early age. Even at 11, and living in Northern Ireland, I could have told you that Peterhead was noted for its fishing industry, Derby for lace and Redditch for needles. But Cuba? I fear I have always been shaky on Cuba. I associate it (rightly or wrongly) with cigars, sugar cane, and bananas. And waterboarding in Guantanamo Bay. And whirring ceiling fans and Mojitos. Not forgetting photo shoots featuring vintage Cadillacs in eye-popping shades of pink and powder blue, parked in front of crumbling mansions - the perfect backdrop for that models-draped-on-bonnets-style of ad campaign and calendar. And as it happens, I have been to Little Havana, but it is in Miami, so doesn't count.

Okay, so I know my perception is rather superficial and cliche'd, even if I am right about the bananas, which is moot. Obama announced that his historic meeting with Raúl Castro marked the end of the Cold War, but I gather from the news that his discussions with the Cuban President were at the far end of the full, frank and robust spectrum. For ideologically the two leaders are poles apart, and life in Cuba under a Communist regime is no picnic for its citizens. That said, an online article from WSVN News last August points to changes afoot...

Where are the pink ones? ~ Source:

"Since the Cuban government began to allow residents to open businesses, there has been an explosion of restaurants, vendors selling handbags, art and jewelry in the capital city."

The article goes on to mention a couple called Javier and Shona, who opened a Californian cafe recently, but have difficulty getting hold of food:

"We'll have days where there won't be any cheese...and there won't be any cheese anywhere in the neighbourhood."

Now there's a scary thought for a turophile.

Habana 1791 ~ Source:

So enter my former English teacher, Sheila, who, as you may recall, was the first to be featured in my perfume protege series. She went to Cuba on holiday the winter before last (I know, I know!), and wrote to me on her return:

"I did try to boost your blog readers - by one - in Cuba, but hit a wall when I realised that the young travel guide I was speaking to didn't seem to know what the Internet was and certainly had never heard of a blog. This is someone who spoke 4 languages and had a degree. That's Cuba. The reason I mentioned your blog was that I had managed at one stage to drag her into a perfumery away from the official government approved route she was determinedly following, from one statue or square named after a national hero to another. We had been headed for a museum of the guns used in the Revolution at the time."

Photo courtesy of Sheila Wilson

Sheila was pleasantly surprised to have chanced across the perfumery in question, given the dearth of shops generally in the city.  Habana 1791 describes itself in fact as a 'perfume shop-cum-laboratory', and is housed in a beautiful 18th century mansion, complete with a striking collection of vintage perfume making equipment. Habana1791 offers 12 'ready-made colognes', many of which have their roots in Cuba's colonial past: Rose, Jasmine, Violet, Orange Blossom, Lila, Ylang-Ylang, Patchouli, Vetiver, Sandalwood and Tobacco. Custom blends / mixtures of these scents are also available. Sheila mentioned a chocolate-forward scent as well - as with all the other ingredients, the chocolate was grown on the island, though local sourcing is reportedly not without its challenges. Oh, cocoa - a crop I forgot!


Much emphasis is placed by the owner, Angel Martinez, on the aromatherapy value of specific perfume notes - here are two examples:

"Rose oil is aromatic and intense. It is always linked to love and sensuality. It counteracts states of violence and aggressiveness.

Orange blossom causes a feeling of peace and relaxation. It is revitalizing and gives joy to the body and mind."

Oh, and they also offer massages with perfume oils!

In terms of prices, I read varying reports of the perfumes costing between $5-$20 US dollars each, which would still be out of reach to most Cubans, for whom the average wage is more like $15 a month.

Then the bottles - which the customer can choose - are very distinctive. Some are made by local ceramicists, others are imported, and they have a cork sealed in wax. Not unlike the raspberry gin my friend David gave me for Christmas...!

Have you been to Cuba? Would you like to go? Can you confirm or deny if they grow bananas?

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Perfumistas reunited - by a cat collar that wasn't - and remembering Gucci by Gucci edp

When I started Bonkers, the blogging landscape looked quite different.The 'grande dames' like Robin, Victoria and Denise, Marina, Pattie and March, Elena and Olfacta and Marie-Helene were around, and well established, but I ran with a different crowd  of my own (more or less) contemporaries, including Ines of All I am - a Redhead, Shelley of Notes from the Ledge, Josephine of Notes from Josephine, Martha of Chicken Freak's Obsessions, Rita of The Left Coast Nose - and The Scentimentalist. (Who is the only one to whose blog I have added a link, as it would be a veritable sea of blue highlighting otherwise!) I had met The Scentimentalist over on Basenotes in the very early days of my hobby, where she went by the name of Soirdelune. She was into retro and vintage scents by the likes of Patou and Sisley and Balmain, and was down to earth and witty and warm.

I first met The Scentimentalist in real life the following year, on the occasion of her 40th birthday, for which she had organised a canal boat trip. I was flattered to be invited and didn't hesitate to accept, though I realised I wouldn't know any of the others there, including (technically) the birthday girl herself. But not knowing the guests - or even the host - at a party famously didn't stop me attending one at a fellow music fan's house in Ohio in 2005. I was in town on business and felt I knew the chap in question well enough from exchanges on a forum. And when I did pluck up the courage to go along, I received a warm welcome from him and his wife and their houseful of lively friends and band mates. These two experiences have made me bolder ever since about jumping at the chance to meet people you feel you know from Internet dealings based on a shared interest, whatever that might be. You will rarely be disappointed.

For her birthday, I had bought The Scentimentalist a purse spray of The Party in Manhattan, an aldehydic animalic chypre (or something along these lines). There's an amusing three way take on the fragrance in this post on Perfume Posse. Anyway, I felt it suited The Scentimentalist because it struck me as elegant, festive, effervescent, and not a little luxurious.


Fast forward to the end of 2015...The Scentimentalist and I had kept in touch very sporadically, but I hadn't heard in a long while - my fault as much as anything - and wasn't even sure that she was living in the same town.Then, thanks to the wonders of WhatsApp, a platform I had not long acquired -specifically for the exchange of kitten pics with Truffle's owner! - I received a message from The Scentimentalist out of the blue one day and our friendship was 'reactivated', to give it its proper technical term.

She explained that she had been following Truffle's progress / antics / occasional bouts of inexcusable naughtiness on the blog, and had spied a potential gift for her, namely a designer collar for kittens, by Gucci, no less! It had been reduced in T K Maxx from a whopping £100 to £3, and as such had to be bought we felt, so a purchase was duly made. The presentation mount was a bit stained, but The Scentimentalist kindly had a go at buffing it up. I said it didn't much matter if the collar itself was fine, which it was.

Of particular note is the astonished face!

Anyway, the collar duly arrived, and when I looked at it it didn't seem quite as I expected. Stripy, with holes in it and a buckle, but somehow not as quntessentially collar-y as I was expecting. I left the present out on the dining room table for some days, looking quizzically at it from time to time. I didn't try it on Truffle at any point, as she was still small and I didn't want to scare her with an item I wasn't 100% sure how to competently fasten.

Then one day a male friend was over - the one who lives on a canal boat, aptly enough, if you recall. He is the fellow who is noted for his crumble-making skills, and who dutifully keeps his bottle of BEX Londoner SE1 in the fridge. Anyway, it turns out that he is also bonkers about watches, and thus it was that he took one look at the cat collar and pronounced it to be a 'field watch strap'. Absolutely unequivocably. A quick google of 'Gucci men's watch strap' fetched up pictures of the very item, or others bearing a pretty close resemblance. So...I had a bargain designer watch strap, but no watch. And Truffle had no collar, but it doesn't matter a jot really. I hope The Scentimentalist would agree that £3 is a small price to pay for the rekindling of a friendship, and now that Truffle is chipped, arguably she doesn't need one anyway.

Collarless Truffle - specially for Asali

So The Scentimentalist and I are able to zap messages to each other on WhatsApp now, whenever the fancy takes us, which is great. Meanwhile, I have been thinking some more about Gucci, specifically which perfumes I know or like of that brand. I can't say I am familiar with the whole range, though Gucci Guilty smells fab on a friend of a friend, while Bamboo is pretty, but insipid. I didn't care for Flora, but can't put my finger on why - I think a slightly odd note of some kind spoilt it for me. The only other Gucci scent I know - and own a decant of - is Gucci by Gucci edp, which is not to be confused with Gucci Eau de Parfum, or any other slight reframing of the brand name, with or without 'Intense' suffixes!


I came across Gucci by Gucci edp round about the time The Scentimentalist and I first 'met' on Basenotes. It was possibly the first scent I had tried that smelt 'a bit sexy'- I was mostly into designer stuff at the time. Gucci by Gucci is a sweet, honeyed, patchouli and musk number, conjuring up images of black leather sofas in the foyers of smart London hotels, of late night cocktails in low lit bars and making out in taxis, of slippery fabrics and vertiginous heels. It is accessorised with gold jewellery that is a little too chunky and veering to trashy. Some of which impression has been garnered from advertising, some the design of the bottle itself(!). Now Gucci by Gucci doesn't smell trashy as such, that would be unfair, but the combination of tiare (think Loulou!)and honey makes it a little too cloying to be elegant either. But it sets a sweetly sultry tone nonetheless, and I haven't smelt anything similar since, which is also good. Plus I like how it reminds me of my early days of exploration - when my lemmings were more likely to be Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely and DKNY Cashmere Mist than the latest Mandy Aftel or Vero Profumo. Gucci by Gucci certainly bottles that newbie phase of my perfume 'jour**y', and for that reason I will always have a soft spot for it.

Is there any scent you feel you have in some way 'grown out of', but which you remember fondly?