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Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Week of Sniffing Randomly

Or, How I Blew My Tax Return

Article by Tom.

Recently, I came home to find a letter from the Franchise Tax Board of the Great State of California. One of the things I look forward to most, somewhere between drilling my own fillings with a rusty corkscrew while drinking lemonade and watching reruns of "Top Design" is getting a letter from the tax man. I had calculated my taxes incorrectly, you see, and the nice people of the state wanted that rectified. Happily for me, that involved cutting me a check! Whoo hoo! Not enough for liposuction or a trip to Paris, but enough for couple little treats.

The first one was of course last weeks penitent review begging the forgiveness of Mssrs. Lutens and Sheldrake. Yes, I now own and adore Rousse.

On Tuesday, I stopped in to visit All Purpose to try a couple of the CB I Hate Perfume scents they have (and of course to chat with the charming and handsome Alessandro) that I had not sniffed, Cradle of Light and Violet Empire. The former is white florals, starting off with rich and lovely jasmine. As tuberose starts to come forward the scent becomes almost hot and later, like creeping evening darkness I get just the gorgeous night-blooming jasmine we have as shrubs here in Los Angeles mixed with a bare touch of cold earth. There is some of the infamous CB Musk in this, but it only shows up as the slightest whisper on me, which is probably for the best. If you are one of those that are super-annoyed that Aldehyde 44 is only available in Dallas, you can take this far more refined distant cousin for a spin. If Aldehyde 44 is laughter overheard at a party that has the high edge of hysteria, Cradle of Light is a captivating, throaty chuckle.

Violet Empire works on me far better (I still have that thing about tuberose on me): beautiful violets and mint tea open the scent, and the violets peep in and out throughout the development of the mild woods and thinnest strip of leather. I didn't buy this one right on the spot (trying to break myself of that habit), but I almost went back after walking three blocks. I will be back for this one and soon: it's a perfect spring/summer scent. Not heavy, but not too fleeting and as is the case with all CB scents, so true to the flower that you and almost feel the brush of the petals on your skin. Also, I'd love to know what oils he uses: never greasy, never just sits there on your skin like a slick. It absorbs cleanly and quickly and I love it, so much so that usually oil-phobic me doesn't even think of the water perfumes.

Thursday of course was ScentBar and meeting Andy Tauer. His new one, Reverie au Jardin is out, and of course, I had to meet the man behind it. He is very nice, very humorous, very self-deprecating and very Swiss. He's also cute as pie. He gave a fascinating talk about the history of his business and how he started out: really first just doing it for himself, meeting a perfumer who intriduced him to synthetics, his friends bookstore where Maroc was first sold (and the devastating critique one of his first sniffers laid on him: "Fish. No... wet sheep"), the development of his other scents and onto RauJ. He brought along quite a few of (but not all of course) it ingredients, including rounded fatty tonka bean, a surprisingly heady and fresh smelling oakmoss, peppery ambrette seed, and that particular high-altitude lavender, so green and sweet and unlike what you'd expect.

It was very nice to see IrisLA, Victoria of Victoria's Own and Supermarky, and to meet the delightul Karen (Hope I am spelling that correctly) who asked Andy how he felt about decanters, what with all the hubbub on eBay. He kindly said that he had no problem at all with them. So there.

I was of course rapt.

Did I buy?

Do I breathe?

Capping the weekend was a trip to San Francisco. One of my oldest and dearest friends film, (which is honestly brilliant) was being shown at SFMOMA and we drove up together to visit friends and hang out. Is there nothing better than having the perfect road-trip partner? One that you can either be riveted in conversation with or spend three hours in companiable silence?

San Francisco and Los Angeles have a love/hate relationship: we love them and they hate us. San Francisco is of course so very lovely you sometimes want to slug it. My friend and I and our host had a lovely dinner in Berkeley the night we arrived and the next day I had to of course go into The City (as the locals refer to it, and yes, with caps). Union Square was the destination. I didn't see Barneys (I think they might be under construction) but I did sidle up to Neimans to look at their selection, The SF Neimans has all of the Serge Lutens, including Un Lys, as well as the usual suspects and an incredibly nice and helpful staff (I must have looked either really rich or really confused; I'd bet the latter). I believe that they have a better selection in general than the Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills, and as a party of one I protest. I confess I did not visit many other stores in Union Square simply because we have them in LA: Saks, Armani, etc. What we dont have anymore is Gumps, so I had to make the pilgrimmage, I also checked out the Frank Lloyd Wright designed VC Morris gift shop, now an art gallery on Maiden Lane, and of course Parfumerie Jaqueline on Geary Street to assure myself that Kolnisch Juchten is still available. The very continental Andre showed me some of the other Regence scents including Regence and Eau de Regence (I think) that were very different that charry-tarry KJ. Andre is great, very formal and very French (which I think in this city of Big Personalities can come across as unfriendly; I find it refreshing) and extremely knowledgeable. Then back across the bay (the Bart system is a wonder) to shop Berkeley. Well, to try to. I actually didn't get the chance before it was time to drive into The City and see the screening and dinner. Then the glamour of Southwest Airlines back to LA (my friend was staying a few more days and I could not).

So actually I was pretty good. No SF purchases. Violet Empire, I'm coming...

My tax dollars at work.


Blogger Kelley said...

Hah! And I thought I was naughty! You know, if I was robbed, they should head straight for my fragrance collection.

10:58 PM EDT  
Blogger Marina said...

You clearly had a blast and I am so envious :-) I am also envious of how great Violet Empire smells on you. It is all green tea on me. Which is good, but...where are the violets? Who stole my violets? :-)

11:01 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

I wasn't that naughty! I bought two bottles! Parfumerie Jaqueline alone could have bankrupted me...

11:02 PM EDT  
Blogger IrisLA said...

It was a pleasure seeing you again, Tom! Andy was such a friendly, modest person. I enjoyed hearing about the perfumer's process and sniffing some ingredients. I didn't buy Reverie. It's too green and pine-y, and the lavender is barely a whisper on my chemistry.

11:04 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

I can't believe you revieled your KJ source out loud!!!

11:04 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

No violets on you? That's terrible! If I only got green tea I would not have been impressed at all.

I was also lucky- we decided, old fogies that we are that we would skip the later party, which meant that we went over the bay bridge an hour before that tanker blew up. We would have had a seriously long drive home if we hadn't.

BTW (shameless plug) O Chamé on fourth in Berkeley is wonderful: Japanese fusion yumminess. We had a bazillion appetizers and the most awesome caramel balsamic gelato for dessert (I'm still pining for it). It wasn't even that expensive.

I love the bay area... everyone should visit at least once.

11:12 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


It was nice to see you too! Andy is the nicest, isn't he?

Interesting that you got pine; didn't Victoria get Iris?

11:14 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I know! I wish I couild pretend that it was totally altuistic: letting every one else in on it (although *certain people* may have to stop wearing it...) and keeping his business alive, but really it was the assurance of all those bottles. Who Knew Regence had so many scents?

11:17 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelley said...

Good grief my spelling is horible!!! I mean "revealed" your source. It's a wonder I can communicate at all. I have a sample of Andy's new scent at my sister's house. I can't wait to get it...

11:20 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

yeah well I spelt "altruistic" as altuistic. If there was typo jail, I'd have a life sentence...

11:22 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's okay that you ended up going to see Andy on Thursday instead of Friday. I had more of him to myself. :-) That oakmoss was amazing. My DH wants to know more about chypres now that he has smelled it. But what impressed us most was Andy himself. Such a thoroughly *nice* person.

1:10 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and thank you, Tom, for giving us the rundown of fragrance sources in San Francisco. Will print out and file.

1:17 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


isn't he wonderful? I have to write that the biggest surprise of the evening was rediscovering le Maroc Pour Elle: such a perfection, and his first fragrance!

1:38 AM EDT  
Blogger lilybp said...

Tom--it sounds as if you had a wonderful time--and as if we adore the same scents (I kinda knew this before). So glad you met Andy (jealous here) and Andre as well. As far as I know, he IS the US source for KJ--and he has assured me that he is in no danger of running out. Some people have found him difficult, but I think that he's just French:) He opens up slowly--but then he ended up telling me his life story, and he kept pressing samples of other perfumes--esp. Regence Oak Moss--on me. I loved the store!

I've already decided to wear CB CofL today (I think I am probably more of a white flower type than you:)

6:49 AM EDT  
Blogger chayaruchama said...

Well, beloved boy-
Just because you've a pansy avatar, doesn't necessarily mean that you're a white-flar kinda guy...

Your foray sounds delightful.
So glad our fragrant 'mishpochah' met up with Dr. T.
Him is extra-sweet.

I would have loved to have been with YOU !
I'll bet we could make some major trouble ensemble....

7:05 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Ah, CB. I've never met Andy in person, but I imagine he has that same love of his craft and genuine "good peopleness" that CB has. I feel like such a fangirl.

I'm so glad the Violet worked for you. Did you sample the Wild Pansy? I'm loving that one for spring too. I can actually spend all spring in CB if I wanted.

Sure, you get a tax refund, I'm putting mine off until AFTER my stoopid audit next week so I won't make the same mistakes.

My best typo story. I wrote one of those nastygrams to ane mployee just pointing out a mistake they made since we had to log any serious errors, and the e-mail somehow manages to not check the subject, which contained "DAvide" which is the guy's name. He made a poem about it, which was pretty funny.

7:18 AM EDT  
Blogger elle said...

*Love* Violet Empire. One of the first violet scents I found appealing. I'm still tentative about violet scents, but that one slays me.
You're so lucky to have met Andy! He's always seemed like he'd be the absolute nicest person.
I've never understood why some people don't like Andre. I think he's wonderful. I like the slow, reserved approach. Instant slobbering perkiness annoys the h*ll out of me.

7:39 AM EDT  
Blogger marchlion said...

Oh, that sounds wonderful! I am so glad about the CoL -- it struck me as something you'd adore. And I too would like to understand CB's absolute secret -- they aren't oily at all. You can get them diluted into larger water sprays (I don't know how he does THAT, either) but I like the wee little bottles. And that VE is delicious! Hey, did you try the Patch Empire? I don't get it. Don't get it at all. The only CB that left me cold.

PS I had a friend who lived in SF and I used to visit. I dunno, the whole aura drove me nuts. They were all about their own fabulousness and correctness and recycling or whatever. It was palpable. Made me long for Vegas.

8:06 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS OMG!!!!! I forgot about Certain People!!! Now everyone will know, and start walking around smelling like the La Brea tarpits, sorta, and *then* what?!!? Where does the madness end?

8:08 AM EDT  
Blogger donanicola said...

I love the dry down on RauJ but on me unfortunately the pine note is too strident and I don't really enjoy the first hour and a half which is such a shame. Objectively I think it is a beautiful and beautifully made scent. I am lemming CoL.... do they do a sample programme? Oh I'm being lazy and can look it up myself for heavens sake! Congrats on getting money back from the tax man, Tom!

9:06 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That Oakmoss was wonderful wasn't it? I can't remember which one was the one that we were warned not to spray on our skin, but I really wanted to lift that bottle...

11:28 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...

oh, and I'm glad to be of service- but I think Basenotes cityguide to SF is most likely far more informative.

But they won't tell you about the caramel balsamic gelato, will they :-)

11:30 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Who knew Regence had such a full line? I didn't try all of them- being me I didn't write down the address and wandered Union Square for an hour or so before stumbling across it. I had like ten minutes before I had to catch the BART back to Berkeley to get ready for a 4pm meeting. I'll go back though.

11:33 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


That we could have- hope one day soon we can!

11:34 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I didn't sample Wild Pansy- I don't think Alessando had it in stock. Of course if he's looking he could weigh in

11:36 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Andy is a very nice man.

Andre is as well, but I think that continental reserve can come across to some as chilly, especially amongt the super-friendly residents of SF. Personally I found it refreshing.

11:38 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I don't remember if he had Patch Empire either. I do know that I kind of talked his ear off and don't want to wear out my welcome :-)

SF is a beautiful city and the people are super-nice. I am a curmudgeon (yes we have them in LA) and sometimes all that sunniness makes my palm itch. That's on me, though.

11:42 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


it's worse than you think- they'll smell of pork fat and the tar pits!

But you know what? I'd cheerfully add car exhaust in there and it would still be better than Blue Sugar.

11:43 AM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Pine? You and Iris; I don't get that at all...

They did do one, I haven't checked recently. I'm sure they still do and considering that it was oils they sent it was very reasonable.

11:45 AM EDT  
Blogger Victoria said...

Hey, I was wondering why we didn't hear from you! How fun to go to SF I haven't been there in a while and I so want to check out that Neiman's Guerlain Boutique.

Yes I get almost totally iris from Reverie, very powdery, in fact I'm wearing it right now. That fact even surprised Andy. But no Pine. Is seems that this is one of those scents they people really smell differently.

Now I'm going to have to come up there and check out those CB's dang! :O)

12:22 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


Let me know when you do! The place is within 2 blocks of ScentBar..

1:58 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, lovely description of CB's CofL..I *have* to try it,,

Andy *is* the sweetest* isn't he..he's so disarming.
and the high altitude lavender-I found absolutely 'swoon worthy'.. Would have loved to meet you too though..maybe next time. I thought the powdery bit that I get on my skin was maybe because of the vetiverol..just speculating..

2:47 PM EDT  
Blogger Alessandro said...

Tom, thanks for coming by AP and for the chat.

I am glad the Violet Empire snuck up on you; had the same effect on me. It's one of the CBs I sniff throughout the day...

3:56 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, I love San Francisco. Okay, it's as smug and insular as can be, but I do love it even so...


3:57 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


that lavender is indeed "swoon-worthy"!

5:25 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I was this close to coming back in and buying it, but I thought it would look irretrevably goofy. I will however be in soon..

5:26 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I know exactly what you mean..

One cannot help but love it.

5:27 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Diptyque? Say it ain't so! :)

I've received one or two of those surprise checks from the state (but pretty small ones--maybe enough to frag shop at Big Lots). If the CA tax forms weren't so @#$%^&* complicated...!

7:52 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


I was trying to be somewhat good!?!

11:05 PM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

How fun, Tom! I've only been to San Fran once, and I really liked it. Oh, to go back now with my fragrant knowledge! Violet Empire sounds potentially good. You've been good! ;)

11:51 PM EDT  
Blogger tmp00 said...


if you feel the need of a trip let me know! I'd love to go back, and to explore more!

2:38 AM EDT  

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