Jardins d’Ecrivains George & The Politics of Gender Identity

Photo: William Wright. Source: Oldhouseonline.com

Photo: William Wright. Source: Oldhouseonline.com

The slim figure hurriedly dismounted from the horse and strode into the house. It was a blur of movement in a billowing white shirt and tightly fitted leather pants that still carried the lingering traces of the saddle and horse. A small, thin cheroot cigar was placed between firm, full lips that smiled broadly upon seeing the old-fashioned library parlour. It was filled with comfortable, shabby armchairs broken in from use and covered in a faded chintzy material. Books lay strewn over all the tables, while the smell of old paper wafted from the many bookcases that lined the walls. A large vase of flowers stood in the sunlight that streamed through the large, open windows, and the smell of neroli orange blossoms filled in the air. At times bitter, at times languidly soft and heady, their aroma swirled around the tobacco from the cheroot, the leather, and the faintest trace of powdered heliotrope from the garden outside. A warm, golden haze filled the room, welcoming, beckoning. George was home. Her home.

Portrait of George Sand in masculin attire, done in the 19th Century. Author unknown.

Portrait of George Sand in masculine attire, done in the 19th Century. Author unknown.

George is a perfume from Jardins d’Ecrivains, a perfume house founded by Anaïs Biguine. It is a small, French niche house that originally began with scented candles before releasing perfumes in 2012. George was the first of five, and all the fragrances are inspired by famous French literature and the beauty of gardens. George was named after George Sand, the pseudonym and pen name of a woman, the brilliant Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin. She was a 19th-century literary (and sometimes political) figure who wrote scores of novels, plays, essays, and more. She is perhaps best known, however, for her (then) unconventional actions which raised polite society’s eyebrows in horror: she dressed in men’s clothing, smoked cigars, and had high-profile affairs.

George Sand portrait. I can't find the painter's name.

George Sand portrait. I can’t find the painter’s name.

There were practical reasons for dressing as a man, namely, the fact that it allowed her to enter worlds and haunts that would have kicked her out had she tried to enter in women’s clothing. Perhaps more importantly for the somewhat impoverished Amantine, it was cheaper, and trousers made it easier to move about. Still, the bottom line is that  “George,” as she was known, was largely indifferent to most of society’s strict rules and customs. She was a free-spirit who followed only the dictates of her heart and of her fierce intellect. It made her fascinating to the men around her, some of whom became quite obsessed with George. The most famous example: her long-time lover, Frederic Chopin.

George via Vogue.it

George via Vogue.it

It’s quite a tall order to try to encapsulate George Sand in a fragrance, but I think Jardins d’Ecrivains did so quite well. The eau de parfum is a chiaroscuro, a study of sharp contrasts in notes, textures, and colour. It is a paradox of masculine and feminine, with notes of darkness shining through the white. Jardins d’Ecrivains describes it a little differently, however, writing:

The message is loud and clear… singularity, modernity, elegance and complexity, and consequently a certain approach to the metaphysics of appearances.
GEORGE was just that… indefinable, man and woman, at ease with and amused by both statuses.

The George eau de parfum is for men and women who know who they are and who like to reveal a brief glimpse of their soul in the fragrance they leave behind them.

Top notes : Neroli – Bergamot

Middle notes : Heliotrope – Coffee – Tobacco

Base notes : White musk – Balsam of Peru – Myrrh

George drawing via Vogue Italia.

George drawing via Vogue Italia.

George opens on my skin with a blast of mentholated orange blossoms that have a distinctly eucalyptus-mint undertone mixed with leather. They are followed by the lightest hint of tobacco and smokiness over a dark, almost viscous-like, thick resin. Jardins d’Ecrivains lists neroli as George’s ingredient, but that is merely the name for a different method of treating orange blossoms, creating an aroma that is often more pungent, woody, spicy, bitter and edgy than the more sweet, florid, languid, indolic “orange blossom.” At its heart, however, both are really just different takes on the same flower. So, here, I shall use “orange blossoms” to better convey the whiteness that I see visualized.

Heliotrope.

Heliotrope.

There are other notes underlying that powerfully sharp, herbal, minty, chilled, and camphoraceous start. There are bits of a pulpy, juicy bergamot which sometimes feels a bit more like orange than lemon or “Earl Grey.” There is a dark, sweet musk as well. Much more noticeable is the subtle undertone of heliotrope. It doesn’t start out as the sort of powdered, almost almond-like element that many of us are familiar with in Guerlain fragrances. Here, it is more like a subtle touch of sweetness that occasionally verges on a Play-Doh-like aroma. It’s very subtle, but it’s there at George’s edges.

All these elements are completely at the periphery to the main trio of notes that dominate the fragrance: neroli orange blossom, tobacco, and Peru Balsam. The latter is one of my favorite types of amber resins with a dark, thick, slightly spicy aroma. The tobacco is equally dark, but also dry. Something has happened with these three main ingredients, perhaps added by the subtle smoke of the myrrh, but they seem to have come together to create a distinctly leathery note that runs through George like a dark, pulsing, treacly vein.

Orange Blossom. Photo: GardenPictures via Zuoda.net

Orange Blossom. Photo: GardenPictures via Zuoda.net

Photo: Gaia's Perspective or GollyGForce on Flickr. (Click on photo for link, embedded within.)

Photo: Gaia’s Perspective or GollyGForce on Flickr. (Click on photo for link, embedded within.)

From start, almost to finish, leather fills the air, adding darkness to the purity of the white flowers like leather trousers on an androgynous lad wearing a crisp, white, floral shirt. It starts off being slightly bitter and completely covered by the thick layer of mentholated, camphorous, eucalyptus-mint like note that covers George’s top notes. Later, it turns into something softer, musky and with a slightly animalic undertone. Jardins d’Ecrivains says that the perfume includes “coffee,” and perhaps that explains some of the initial bitter darkness. That said, I’ve worn George numerous times and never once smelled “coffee” that feels like what I drink every morning. I have no doubt that it is there, but I think the element has combined with the other accords to create the overall feel of something very different on my skin.

Eucalyptus leaves.

Eucalyptus leaves.

Every time that I have worn George, a subtle transformation begins around 15 minutes into its development. Every, single, time. The fragrance slowly — very slowly — starts to lose some of its eucalyptus-mint veneer. It’s something that can be quite pungently dark at first, and I have to admit that the first two times I tested George at the Marie-Antoinette boutique in Paris, it almost threw me off at first. Each time, however, a sudden softening occurred and George begin to slowly transform before my eyes. The drastic nature of the change is not my imagination. Even the owner of Marie-Antoinette was amazed at how the fragrance began on my skin (not great), and what it became. In a nutshell, George bloomed from an almost medicinal, very leathery, pungently herbal, dark start into something considerably sexier, more sensuous, more floral, and better rounded.

"Javascapes 3" by Photographer Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: http://devidsketchbook.com

“Javascapes 3” by Photographer Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: http://devidsketchbook.com

By the end of 40 minutes, George was a beautiful bouquet of heady, quite spicy, almost indolic orange blossoms infused with dry tobacco, a subtle smokiness, and a sweet musk, all over a darkly ambered resinous base. The mentholated edge remained, as did the leather, but they were both significantly smoother, better rounded, less aggressive. More importantly, they added an enigmatic, mysterious, subtly masculine quality to the otherwise feminine florals. From afar, George seems like one of those fragrances whose bouquet is a deceptively simple one of spicy neroli orange blossoms with a certain “something” that is darkly “odd.” Up close, however, the layers bloom, creating a chiaroscuro play of contrasts: masculine darkness with a kind of something almost “dirty” and bitter under airy, billowing, white clouds of sweet, feminine florals. On occasion, there is even something animalic that almost — just almost — borders on a whiff of something “horsey” to the leather.

"Chopin and George Sand" in the film, "Notorious Woman." Source: http://www.alanhoward.org.uk/notorious.htm

“Chopin and George Sand” in the film, “Notorious Woman.” Source: Alan Howard & the film website. http://tinyurl.com/llpxjwe

When mixed with the tobacco and the other dark elements, the result is a paradox that is very much like George Sand herself. People who haven’t read her works often know her only in the context of her turbulent affair with Chopin, or as “that cross-dressing woman who slept with the great pianist.” The truth of the matter is that her talents equaled his, and, in my opinion, she was far cleverer, far more intellectual and brilliant. She was also a trailblazing pioneer and social revolutionary in terms of her feminist impact. Yet, putting aside her intellectual and social contributions, Amantine was also a deeply sensuous woman who could also comfort Chopin like the mother that she was, or dump him to follow her desires elsewhere. (There is a lot of controversy about both their roles in their torrid, turbulent, 9-year affair, the events that ended it, and what ensued. In many ways, she broke his heart, and he never got over it.)

George, the perfume, embodies many facets of that complex woman, from her soft, feminine side to her large sensuous appetites to her dark, masculine facade. Leather and cigars, coupled with spicy, languid, indolent orange blossom neroli, and the faintest whisper of powdery, sweet heliotrope, all atop a warm, plush, deep amber base. For the longest time, George doesn’t substantially transform from that core essence. It remains largely a mix of the bitter and the sweet, the floral and the woody, the smoky and the slightly mentholated, the leathered and the ambered.

In many ways, George is an extremely linear scent, and the only changes are really ones of degree, not of kind. At the 90-minute mark, the perfume turns slightly more animalic and musky, as the slightest whiff of that horsey note I talked about appears. There is also an almost civet-like undertone to the leather, though it’s extremely subtle. about 2.5 hours in, George turns soft, silky, and a little bit abstract. It has lost all its hard edges, as the notes melt into each other to create even more of an ambered glow. Now, the perfume is primarily amber and tobacco, only lightly dusted by neroli and that tiny, small suggestion of heliotrope. It really reminds me of the story and scene with which I began this review: the cozy library parlor with sunlight streaming in, old-fashioned leather books, and the smell of cigars mixed with the flowers in the vase.

"Javascapes 2" by Photographer Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: http://devidsketchbook.com

“Javascapes 2” by Photographer Daniel G. Walczyk. Source: http://devidsketchbook.com

George softens further as time passes. At the start of the 5th hour, the perfume feels like labdanum amber with its warm, nutty, slightly leathered, slightly “dirty” edge. The faintest trace of some smokiness, probably from the myrrh, lingers, as does the bittersweet lushness of the florals. Whispers of minty menthol underlie the florals, along with a sweet muskiness. George’s sillage has dropped, lingering just an inch or two above the skin. By the start of the 8th hour, it is a skin scent, and by the 10.75 hour mark, it has gone. In its final moments, George is merely a nebulous blur of ambered warmth with some abstract “dark” elements and the suggestion of something floral.

I don’t think George is the easiest perfume to approach and love at first glance, but if you keep sniffing, I think you’ll see her (his?) complexity. It’s at this point that I should tell you that I own George, but I’m still a bit torn on the scent, though not always for the reasons you may imagine. Part of my problem is that I absolutely adored almost the entire Jardins d’Ecrivains line from the first sniff, but I simply couldn’t choose between them. At first, Gigi captured my attention because I’m a sucker for a big, white floral bomb. George did too, but the darkness of the opening threw me off, and Gigi was much more approachable. I went home from the lovely, adorable Marie-Antoinette boutique in Paris with different Jardins d’Ecrivains scents sprayed all over me, and some samples to try to make up my mind. I concluded that I loved Orlando. Then, I became torn between Orlando and Wilde. No, it was Gigi. No, it was Orlando and Gigi. Or was it Wilde?

I went back to Marie-Antoinette with Gigi primarily on my mind, but when I got there, I became screwed up all over again. It was becoming a nightmare to decide, and I only had that day. I sprayed George on me, and started to waffle even more. The adorable, knowledgeable owner of Marie-Antoinette helped a little by saying that there were a lot of white flower scents like Gigi, but George was the most original, different, interesting and unique. I was still dubious about it, judging by its opening blast on my skin, but he insisted that I wait 15 minutes before I smelled it again. I followed his directions — and I bought George.

It is a testament to the Jardins d’Ecrivains line that I’m still not completely sure I bought the right perfume. Orlando and Wilde remain in my head, and I have samples of both to torment me. That said, George has garnered me compliments from both women and men when I have worn it. But that opening….. it can be tough. I won’t deny it. And it most definitely won’t be for everyone. One Paris fashionista on whom I sprayed George recoiled a little, even though she followed my instructions and didn’t smell her arm until 30 minutes had passed. She’s someone who likes pure ambers or pure florals. George’s mentholated leathery darkness was too alien to her usual perfume tastes, and too masculine.

I think that is the exact reason why some reviews on Fragrantica focus on the gender classification for George, and why a few women had a hard time with the scent. The point is underscored by two very opposite impressions of George from two different women. Take, for example, this first perception of the perfume:

For the first couple minutes that this is on, it’s a warm, womanly scent with musk and hints of coffee and warm tobacco. But it quickly dries down to a bland, strange fragrance on my skin. I get the neroli and something that’s very much like a powdery spearmint. It reminds me of toothpaste and rest area bathrooms (sort of a clean-trying-to-cover-up-dirty feel). This stage lasts for about an hour on me and I really don’t like it.

Over time, I start to smell a smoky tobacco (which reminds me of someone smoking cigarettes in a bathroom) and hints of coffee again, but it’s too little too late, and is still mixed with that weird, sharp mint and soapy floor cleanser smell. It really is a dirty rest stop type of scent for me… not good.

Now, compare it to this next one:

I just have to say in rebuttal to the previous review that I, as female as they come, wore this today for the 3rd time in as many months… and now that fall is here I felt that George was adequately feminine – and certainly very, very sexy. Although the heliotrope isn’t the most obvious note, it’s at the center; I feel like George is built around it.

Recently, I’ve been wearing Archives 69 by Etat Libre which is predominantly a tobacco scent, and it’s also unisex. It warmed me up for George. Today, I wore George with pink lipstick, pink leggings and a lace top, lol! I’m a huge admirer of George Sand. Please stop whatever you’re doing right this moment and look up the movie ‘Impromptu’ from 1991, find it and watch it! This perfume *is* the scent of Amandine Aurore Lucie Dupin, who became famous for taking a man’s name, wearing trousers, and smoking cigars in public. Oh yes, this is unisex. Only it takes a special type of lover to pull it off.

Judi Davis as George Sand in "Impromptu" (also featuring Hugh Grant as Chopin).

Judi Davis as George Sand in “Impromptu” (also featuring Hugh Grant as Chopin).

That review was actually not a “rebuttal” to the first quoted comments, but to a male Fragrantica poster who essentially argued that George was not an appropriate or suitable fragrance for a traditional female. His rather sexist perceptions:

Olala Georges, GEOrges! you’re GorGEOUS!
Are you sure this is a fragrance for women too? This is really for women living alone in the middle of the forest, cutting wood, have not shaved since … what year is it anyway?, Smoking a pipe in one hand and playing arm iron of the other.
But where were they get their musk? it is either a bottle forgotten since 1902 in the basement of Guerlain or else some extract juice from Canadian lumberjack pants in beaver leather . It requires a lot to like dirty underwear.
You’ve always dreamed of spending a wild and sweating night under or on top of a bearskin picked up in a lost bar in the wild North-East? Well, you’re going to get a taste!
I love 🙂

You should see the curled lip with which I read that comment. Women can’t wear George unless they’re some dirty, uncivilized, quasi-animal-like, masculine creature living in the wild with unshaven armpits and hairy legs??! Is he serious? What century are we, and does he stick his “woman” in the kitchen with a spatula, a powdery rose perfume, and a baby under her delicate arm? I’m utterly revolted. Next, he’ll be saying that men can’t wear perfumes with roses and white flowers, even though it’s been a tradition going back over a 1000 years in the Middle East and India. What about all the European kings who wore fragrances consisting of violets and powder? Or the very female Catherine de Medici whose personal fragrance from Santa Maria Novella was the basis for what subsequently became known as men’s “cologne“? Is he going to question the masculinity of the Sultans who wore jasmine, not leather or lavender? Or are men to be applauded if they try something different, while women are to be portrayed in quasi-lesbianic stereotypes as dirty creatures who don’t shave and who live alone away from all civilizing male influence or from the desire to appeal to men? I despise gender classifications that stem from parochial, narrow-minded ignorance and bigotry. What year is this, and does he not know any history?!

My apologies for that slight detour and heated tone, as I know none of you are so ignorant, let alone Neanderthal barbarians or cavemen. You all realise that perfume is a matter of personal taste, skin chemistry, exploration, and responding to some notes more than others. But the debate between the male and female Fragrantica posters does prove that gender classification continues to play a role in perceptions of perfumery. And it’s something that irks me, even apart from the social history of perfumery. This is a current, ongoing, social perception involving gender lines that can be quite rigid, and we’re in the 21st century! I was annoyed on my visits to several Sephoras in Paris because they all created a very literal divide by placing perfumes on opposite sides, with one wall labeled as “Pour Homme,” and another labelled “Pour Femme.” I had to go back and forth from one wall to the next to try perfumes that are often wholly unisex. Who decided that the entire Serge Lutens collection belonged at the “Female” wall? Why do men feel so worried or disconcerted if they like a fragrance that they mentally classify as “female”? And why does it matter if something feels “masculine” if you like it? Isn’t that all that matters, that you like something and that it makes you feel happy?!

You’d be surprised by the questions I get from both genders worrying about whether a fragrance is too ….. something…. in one category or another. I find it so silly that society has decided to categorize lavender, to give just one example, as a more “masculine” note, while roses are ostensibly a woman’s domain. I’ll spare you the history of fragrance classification in the West, but it basically began as a 19th century marketing thing. It seems to have taken on a life of its own — to the point where a man will question a woman’s appearance, lifestyle and choices if she wears a fragrance like George. Or a woman feels she can’t wear it because it’s no longer “womanly,” to quote that one Fragrantica poster.

Putting aside this issue of gender roles, and getting back to George, I think it’s clear that Jardins d’Ecrivains succeeded admirably in its goal of creating a perfume that crosses conventional, mainstream, or typical gender lines. In that way, Anaïs Biguine created a perfume that is clearly quite polarizing but, as George’s own description bluntly states (or warns), it is a fragrance “for men and women who know who they are[.]” It is for those who are more confident in their gender identity, who don’t want to be boxed into superficial classifications of “male” scents or “female scents,” or who are open to enjoying a wider array of olfactory notes.

Does that mean that George is the easiest fragrance in the Jardins d’Ecrivains line? No, I don’t think it is. Intentionally so. However, I firmly believe that men who are comfortable enough with orange blossom can wear George, just as much as women with an appreciation for tobacco and a sometimes animalic leather. George is a fragrance that women have loved on my skin, and I believe that it is also the favorite of Jardins d’Ecrivains’ female founder. At the same time, I know quite a few men who single out George as their top pick.

Take, for example, Kevin of Now Smell This who wrote a beautiful review that talks about the real “George” as much as about the fragrance. George (the perfume) was different on his skin than on mine, and I think his experience may be instructive in showing a different side to the fragrance:

George opens with a dark, “polished” vibe; it’s heavy on delicious-smelling Peru balsam and myrrh; these notes, along with citrus, conjure a dim, shuttered study, full of books. There’s a soupçon of an acidic/sharp aroma one sometimes detects in old papers…and dried plants… […] I also detect aromas of waxed wood paneling and floors, and lit beeswax candles —- with their whiff of honey…and sweet smoke. As George develops, I smell “woody” black coffee beans, and a touch of sweet, natural-smelling tobacco (imagine a pinch of freshly cured tobacco taken from a leather pouch). Neroli and heliotrope do their work in the periphery…their scents drifting into my imagined study through open windows or Sand’s Eau de Cologne. At the end of George’s development, the rich notes turn “dusty”…providing a pungent powdery finish (the white musk in George is neither utilitarian, nor too sweet). […]

George Eau de Parfum is, appropriately, unisex [….]

[It] would have made my “Best of 2012” list if I had smelled it before that post.

Judi Davis as "George Sand" in "Impromptu."

Judi Davis as “George Sand” in “Impromptu.”

As you can see, George can be different things to different people, in small part due to perceptions of gender classifications in perfumery and in notes. For this, more than for some other fragrances perhaps, it really comes down to your personal tastes and an open mind. There is no doubt that it is a very different take on white florals. In fact, I think George Sand would have thoroughly enjoyed its paradoxes, and would have tipped her top hat to Jardins d’Ecrivains.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: George is an eau de parfum that comes in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle and which costs $110, €85 or £73. You can order it directly from the Jardins d’Ecrivains website, but I do not know their shipping policy. In the U.S.: You can find the line at BeautyhabitAmazon (sold by Jardins d’Ecrivains itself), and ZGO. In New York, you can find the fragrances at the new Brooklyn niche perfumerie, The Twisted Lily. In Cleveland, Ohio, it is carried at Indigo ParfumeryOutside the U.S.: In the UK, you can purchase Jardins d’Ecrivains fragrances from London’s Bloom Perfumery where it costs £73, with samples available for £2. George is also sold at The Conran Shop. In addition, the Jardins d’Ecrivains line is available at a slight discount from Amazon UK. In Paris, the line is carried at Marie-Antoinette, my favorite perfume shop in the city, and they happily take emails or calls for overseas purchases. Jardins d’Ecrivains is also available at Jovoy. In the Netherlands, Jardins d’Ecrivains is available at ParfuMaria, while in Spain, it is sold at Nadia Parfumeria, and in Italy, at Alla Violetta. The Jardins d’Ecrivains line is sold for slightly higher than retail price at Germany’s First in Fragrance, along with samples. In Russia, you can find Jardins d’Ecrivains at Parfums Selective. For other vendors throughout France (and there are many!), as well as one in Belgium, you can check the Jardins d’Ecrivains Points of Sale page on their website. The page includes numerous headings for countries from Sweden to Japan and Kuwait, but nothing is actually listed for any of them. Samples: A few of the sites linked above offer samples for sale, but not all. In the U.S., you can find George at Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.25 for a 1 ml vial.
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57 thoughts on “Jardins d’Ecrivains George & The Politics of Gender Identity

  1. Yes who decided that the entire Serge Lutens collection belonged at the “Female” wall? But back to topic – George – I thought the painting was by Dupin but it is of Dupin. This is an interesting house. I like what I hear, I like the house name but I have yet to smell. I saw a woman wearing trousers today so I was not that shocked by some of your descriptions.

    • Yes, I saw a woman driving a car today, and my male neighbor wore a pink shirt. Shocking. Utterly shocking, I tell you! Next thing you know, he’ll be wearing a fragrance with tuberose in it…. 😉

  2. That Fragrantica quote was a hoot. He’s a MAN, baby! Wow, that guy must be a delight to be around. He isn’t keeping his wife in the kitchen though because I’d bet he’s still living in his mom’s basement.

    • My irritation has only increased since I posted that, so I better bite my lip, say nothing, and keep a professional politeness about his opinions. But you know what I’m thinking, Poodle, you KNOW what I’m thinking!!!

    • “He isn’t keeping his wife in the kitchen though because I’d bet he’s still living in his mom’s basement.”

      lol, that’s excellent.

        • It really depends from what country that man is from. Gender roles are more blurred in the West in todays society, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness, in my opinion. But this poster might as well be from the Middle East, Asia or Latin America for example, even though Latin America could be considered the West because of religion, it is a continent with very defined gender roles, and I wouldn’t doubt the same definition for Asia and Middle East. So to this man his perceptions might as well reflect the culture he lives in. Also, if you ask me, the West is way to open minded and permissive in many issues, not that being open minded is bad, but when it gets to the extreme levels that the West has gone to it is very bad. Both extremes are bad.

  3. My shirt is purple today! Heavens, what will people think! 😛 What a fascinating review and interesting discussion. It’s funny – George Sand is clearly a big inspiration because this is at least the third perfume which is created in her memory. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier‎ has one (it’s awesome!), Histoires de Parfums has one, and now this line has one. There’s enough for StC to sell a George Sand sample set! I really do wonder if people were to do a blind testing of fragrance without regard to gender designation just how individuals’ opinions would change about perfume and what they like and what they feel is appropriate to wear. Honestly, the fragrance world is far too expansive to confine oneself to arbitrary gender designations, IMO. It would be so limiting to stick within those confines. I think more causal perfume wearers may not realize that not every male fragrance is wood- or bergamot-dominated and not every female fragrance is sugary sweet or a heady white floral. On a tangentially related issue regarding people getting so wrapped up in gender designation, what people fail to realize is just how recent and arbitrary most of these constructs are! Until fairly recently, kids wore white dresses up until age 6 or so and even as late as the 1900s, pink was determined to be a decidedly appropriate color for boys because it was a “stronger” color than blue!

    Besides this fragrance sounding interesting on its own to me, I am fascinated with George Sand-inspired perfumes because of her association with Chopin, my favorite composer. I know very little about George Sand, though, though I’m thinking I may need to rectify that as she sounds like an utterly fascinating woman.

    • George Sand is definitely a fascinating figure and if you love Chopin, you HAVE to learn more about her. My suggestion: put “Impromptu” immediately on your Netflix list, and see if they also have “A Notorious Woman.” I believe there was even an old film on George Sand starring … erm… Merle Oberon? Vivien Leigh? One of the dark-haired beauties, in any event. BTW, I had no idea Chopin was your favorite composer! That, I would never have guessed for some odd reason.

      As for the perfume, I think you’d enjoy it, especially as you don’t struggle with eucalyptus-minty, mentholated notes or leather. Remind me to send you some from my bottle. Regarding the blind smell test, I would so love to set one of those up. Not just because of the issue of gender classification, but also because of pre-conceptions about what certain things will smell like based on having an idea of the names or notes. The JAR theory, if you will.

    • So this comment has nothing to do with perfumes…I have an uncle who is a brilliant concert pianist and even now, after a series of strokes, still plays beautifully. Anyway, we all thought that my cousin will inherit my uncle’s musical genius but we were wrong. When this cousin was a toddler, he used to walk around the house saying “Where is Chopin?” over and over and over again in his (still) annoying monotone.

      • Hahaha, very funny. And how cool about your uncle being a musical genius! I am very glad that his strokes didn’t impair his ability to play, because for people like that, the loss of music would be akin to the loss of a limb.

        • Indeed, he is a musical genius! He lost his power of speech. He gives new meaning to a quotation attributed to Hans Christian Andersen: “Where words fail, music speaks.” I have this quote inscribed on my Ipod mini.

          • Hajusuuri, I have specialized in rehabilitation nursing for almost 20 years, working with many patients suffering horrible deficits due to strokes. I was so heartened to read of your uncle, and his continued ability to play. Musical genius is a gift given TO so few of us, but enjoyed BY so many of us! 🙂

  4. This was a fascinating review from start to finish, Kafka. Firstly, because I knew nothing about George Sand, apart from the fact that George was a woman and a writer; secondly, because the way the perfume unfolds on your skin makes it sound quite unique; and lastly, your point that in the 21st century we’re still dealing with gender distinction issues and uneasiness/fears (even when it comes to something as benign as perfume) is really eye-opening. When I think about the latter, I know that I still characterize certain perfume notes as being distinctly feminine or masculine smelling, but in identifying these notes as such, I don’t really feel like it colors my perceptions of the person who chooses to wear the said perfume. (I like wearing tobacco, leather and wood scents that I associate as being masculine, as much as I enjoy wearing intensely floral perfumes that for me will always have a feminine association in my head … and I like it when my husband wears some of these same floral perfumes, particularly rose scents which he smells great in. But then I wonder, when I write about these individual notes as smelling traditionally masculine or feminine, if I’m contributing to the problem of gender stereotyping. Your post has given me much food for thought.)

    • I’ve thought about this. I think that we, as bloggers who review things, have to try to convey scents in the way that our readers will understand them. So, we’re stuck in a way. For example, we have to talk about the way that labdanum differs from regular amber and how that difference can be more dirty or “masculine” in aroma than the softer, gentler kind.

      The problem is that we’re describing something quite abstract and invisible, and we can only work within the confines of the language we all use or have, or within the parameters given by established contexts or analogies. It would do readers no good to strip out terms like “feminine” in describing certain smells, even if that is not what they are.

      The difference or critical thing is when someone judges another person and makes gender classification distinctions on the basis of perfume. Or, perhaps even worse, when a person judges THEMSELVES on the basis of what scent/note they are attracted to. I see it a LOT, Suzanne. For example, not too long ago in a group, a guy posted his embarrassment at liking some scent traditionally viewed as “female,” and saying something to the effect of maybe his man card should be pulled. Why? As Serge Lutens once said, is a tree male or female? Is a CD male or female? No-one classifies music by gender preferences, so why scent? And why put social constructs on an ingredient or plant found in nature??!

      I guess I just wish people could be open-minded enough to explore all things, then make up their mind for themselves based on whether they like a certain note or not, as opposed to ruling things out or creating lines in the sand based on finding that note to have gender connotations.

  5. Dearest Kafka,
    Oh how I agree with you on the subject of frustrating gender specific scents. However, I really believe that there are a vast number of people out there who want to wear perfume but they need a lot of help to choose it. Of course it is gender stereotyping to list some fragrances under ‘women’ and others under ‘men’ when us perfume geeks know that there is no such distinction, but for those people who need guidance to choose their perfume it is the obvious first question to ask.
    It would be wonderful to pass a law stating that all perfume must be marketed as gender neutral to allow people to make up their own minds. That ain’t gonna happen though. In fact it would probably freak a lot of people out! The mass perfume market would probably benefit in the long term from slowly introducing leather and tobacco notes into ‘feminine’ fragrance wrapped in a big pink velvet bow so no one gets scared, likewise with roses and powder in ‘masculine’ fragrance. Put it in a leather box and the response would be great!
    If you haven’t already, check out Scentury.com. It’s a beautiful website dedicated to capturing first responses and feelings provoked by perfume in a blind testing. Brilliant and very refreshing 🙂

    • Susie, thank you so much on the tip regarding Scentury.com! It sounds right up my alley. Regarding the issue about classifications as guidance, it’s a fair point. A very fair point, my dear. 🙂

      But why do non-newbies and experienced perfumistas resort to gender stereotyping about perfume ingredients? The chap whose comment I quoted in the review is someone who has tried a wide variety of niche and really niche perfume houses. What about the ones I see in perfume groups, thinking that a fragrance sounds “too masculine” or “too feminine” for their tastes because of the notes? Why would one experienced perfumista find some rose varietals to be okay, but others suddenly cross the line into “too feminine”?

      Take me and the lavender that you know I dislike so much. It’s not because it’s a “masculine” note or a “feminine” one, but because of my childhood experiences with the plant. Aldehydes…. they have no gender to me. Roses… same. My issues with notes never stem from gender associations. If a guy who has never worn anything but Axe or Old Spice makes assumptions, that is one thing. It’s understandable. But otherwise, I don’t really get it. And it’s completely and utterly incomprehensible to me when someone who is experienced in perfume feels disconcerted, ill at ease, or awkward at liking a perfume that he/she deems to be for the other gender. If you like it, who cares how it is categorized?

      • Very good points from you too Kafka!

        I would say that the man who you quoted may have tried a lot of perfumes, but he tried them whilst sitting in his cave and looking at the pictures of ladies with big bosoms that he carved into the stone. That attitude it deeply ingrained chauvinism that probably stretches into his attitudes about everything.
        Speaking as a woman with fairly ‘feminine’ tastes (generally speaking, I do love a bit of leather) I believe that even the seasoned perfume lover can be swayed by gender distinctions. I just cannot enjoy vetiver. A) because it smells like murky pond B) because it just smells too ‘manly’ to me. Sharp, green, a bit earthy and damp, it doesn’t conjure the allure and brightness that I look for in fragrance. The same applies with spices. I find them too potent and forceful in most cases. All the descriptive words I used are fitting for the smell, and they are also most likely to be classed as masculine words.
        I don’t think it is necessarily narrow minded of a perfumista to assume they won’t like a perfume because it will be be too ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, provided they know what the notes they are dismissing actually smell like. It takes a certain type of personality to wear a statement perfume and not give a toss what anyone else thinks. I think it is an easy assumption to make that if you are into perfume you’ll be that type of person.
        The lines become a little blurred when we start to talk about the perfume enthusiast and not the general fragrance market, but all that’s fundamentally changed is that person pays more attention to what he or she is wearing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be more open minded to crossing the great divide!

        • LOVE the debate and discussion, my dear. Excellent, really excellent. I suppose my first response is why are the descriptive words you’d use to describe spices necessarily deemed “masculine” ones? You said spices are “too potent and forceful in some cases.” Can’t women be “potent and forceful” too? (You haven’t met the women in my family if you don’t think those adjectives apply!)

          You wrote:

          I don’t think it is necessarily narrow minded of a perfumista to assume they won’t like a perfume because it will be be too ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’, provided they know what the notes they are dismissing actually smell like.

          Splendid point, and I would agree! But I’m not talking about people rejecting notes because they know what they smell like and don’t like them. Again, I do that for lavender, and it’s not because I make gender associations about the note. What I’m talking about is people who reject a perfume because they think the *note* is *feminine* or *masculine.* In other words, it’s not guys going, “I don’t like tuberose because it’s too heady and indolic.” It’s guys going, “I can’t wear X perfume because tuberose is for women.” It would be like you saying, “I can’t wear X Perfume with vetiver, but not because I think vetiver is dank and swamp-like, but because vetiver is a note for guys.” If you think vetiver reeks to high heaven of swampy sharpness, great! But if you don’t wear it because you think it’s a men’s cologne thing, that is where I struggle.

          I suppose at the core of all this is the use of language that Suzanne referenced and brought up at the very top. But perhaps we can all examine the assumptions *underlying* some of our choices in languages. All of us meaning me as well. 🙂

          You wrote: “The lines become a little blurred when we start to talk about the perfume enthusiast and not the general fragrance market, but all that’s fundamentally changed is that person pays more attention to what he or she is wearing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be more open minded to crossing the great divide!

          Sadly, I agree with that last part. I suppose I’d like us all to examine just a tiny bit the assumptions underlying our perceptions, and the gender connotations we bring to the issue of perfume notes, because I think we may be limiting ourselves in some ways. And isn’t this perfume passion of ours all about exploration at the end of the day? 🙂

          • Jeez that was some cross examination! 😉 Believe me, it frustrates me as much as it frustrates you when people dismiss perfume purely on the basis that ‘tuberose is for women’ but the point is that it happens and not because those people are sexist or narrow minded. Society has been divided so clearly into pink and blue that preconceptions run very deep. In the case of perfume, people are searching for something to make them feel good and if the idea that their perfume is made for their sex makes them feel comfortable then perhaps we should be accepting of that.

            When a person feels uncomfortable because he or she has found themselves liking a scent that is not designated for them, then we could see that as having something to work with. They tried it in the first place, which shows enough curiosity and interest to perhaps persuade them to think further outside the guidelines.

          • Just because something is reality or happens doesn’t mean that it’s also not narrow-minded. Do you just shrug at racism because it’s a fact of life that runs deep in some areas, and say we should accept people who feel that way? I very much doubt it. But somehow, preconceptions about gender identity or preconceptions about women -vs- men seem easier for you to accept. Maybe that differentiation is food for thought in and of itself?

            I mean, do you really think it’s NOT sexist or narrow-minded for a man to automatically and immediately dismiss a fragrance *purely* on the basis of “tuberose is for women”? Is it really all that different from saying “I don’t cook or bake because that’s what women do”? And do you really think one “should be accepting of that”?

            Are you merely playing devil’s advocate for the sake of a discussion? If not, then I think we should agree to disagree. No hard feelings at all, I swear. 🙂 I think we just view things very differently, along with the sorts of things one should accept.

  6. I’m intrigued by this fragrance and very pleased to see that ParfuMaria is here in the Utrecht region. I might need to go to Ijsselstein and give it a sniff. As well as Orlando and Wilde, simply for the names. 🙂 Wonderful review!

    • Yay, I found something that intrigued you, my dear! I’m so thrilled, you have no idea! If you go to ParfuMaria, do give a sniff to the Oriza line. I don’t imagine them being your style, but I think you’d enjoy the thought of perfumes from 1900, 1909, 1914 and 1925 that have been only slightly — slightly — tweaked for modern tastes. It’s just the whole history of it all, you know? But I think you may enjoy the visit as a whole. I hear ParfuMaria is a fantastic experience and place for niche perfumes! (Oh, and look out for some Amouage scents, too, if you like potent Orientals. They may be the Ferraris of perfumery! Oh, and take photos! It would be useful for your site, too, as a diff. side of the Utrecht region. Gosh, I am so excited now!)

  7. George and Gigi are the only ones from Jardins d’Ecrivains that I haven’t tried. And I think that I would like George, even though from the notes it doesn’t sound like my kind of thing. But I want to check out that orange blossom in it!

  8. Ok so I don’t seem to be able to reply under your last msg, it seems I may have frustrated you further on this subject and for that I do apologise. In a way I am playing devils advocate, I am trying to understand you better. You obviously feel very strongly about this and I would not wish to argue with you for the sake of it. I am not a confrontational person and this seems to have turned into something that I am not comfortable with.
    I do need to say that asking me if I would put up with racism ‘because it happens’ is a somewhat unfair judgement of my character. You know me about as well as I know you so the insinuation that I am a person who will turn a blind eye to such things is unfounded.

    I am reminding myself of the context in which these comments started. They started because, as always, you raise interesting points that encourage discussion. On subjects about which you feel particularly strongly you have a powerful voice, evidence of your time spent as a lawyer. The discussion starts and ends with you. I do not wish to take this in the direction that it appears to be going either. I am not disagreeing with you in any way, I am merely raising more points for discussion and suggesting that maybe there are people out there who enjoy perfume but do not think about it as hard as you do, and would be appalled at the suggestion that they were sexist because they wouldn’t consider a particular perfume. It might simply be that they had never thought that way about it. Yes, this might be a fundamental problem in society and yes it is precisely because we don’t think about these things that they become an issue. I agree with you on all those points. I am saying that many would not collate their choice of perfume with the fundamental problem of gender discrimination in society. If it were pointed out, as you have done in your review, then maybe some will think a little harder next time they reach for a new scent.
    Understand my tone the way I intend it, one of friendly exchange of thoughts and ideas, with a little spark of the protagonist. I am not a small minded person, nor am racist, sexist or ignorant. I hope you understand Kafka, that I did not mean to make you cross xx

    • P.S- I don’t mean protagonist, I mean antagonist. An unfortunate character trait but one I find hard to control, pair that with my panic in confrontation situations and you get quite a bizarre reaction!

    • My dear Susie, first and foremost, I meant it when I said that I valued the discussion and that there were no hard feelings. I really meant it. 🙂 I love debates, I don’t take them personally, and I certainly didn’t become cross! (If you didn’t get a reply for a while, it’s because I finally went to bed after not sleeping for over 36 hours straight.) So, please, don’t think I was upset in any way.

      That said, I merely took your own theory and quoted comments to the next logical extension. They appeared differently in a different context, but it’s logical consistency that they would apply to something more than the issue of perfumery. If it was suddenly problematic to have a theory of just accepting things and people in a context like racism, it tells me that one is more of a serious societal problem for you than the other. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s the exact same theory with the exact same set of underlying premises. I wasn’t the one who brought up that society is the way it is and that one should just accept people with their flawed values or unequal assumptions. You find it benign in the context of perfumery, and you’d probably be right in the larger scheme of things. But it doesn’t change the fact that there are some loaded assumptions out there in a few people — not all, and not everyone — that suddenly show how loaded they are when they are put in a different context. That is all I was saying.

      Regardless, this is all heavy stuff and a purely academic debate. I enjoyed it, except the slight Devil’s Advocate arguing because I’m not usually a fan of arguing for the sake of arguing. Probably because I tend to take things too seriously, and it’s been hard to keep the litigator in me clamped down. 😉 *grin* (No, you haven’t actually been cross-examined, my sweet. If the trial lawyer in me had actually come out, you’d have been ripped to shreds. It’s not a good side of me, so I always try to keep it buried. lol)

      Please, please, dearest Susie, know that I took all this in the exact spirit in which it was offered, and that I have made no judgments or assumptions about you. It was a purely intellectual, abstract, and academic debate. And my friendship with you remains unimpaired.

      with affection,
      your “Unicorn/Cockroach with the nuclear-proof shell and the unspecified genitals.” 😉 🙂 🙂

      • Good I’m glad we got that cleared up 😉 🙂 and I’m glad you are not angry. Lord I’d hate to see you when you are! Your sparkling tail would swish about and you’d lower your horn to charge. If they threw bombs at you they’d just bounce right off. I’d like to think that the only people you’d rip to shreds nowadays are the ones who truly deserve it. I don’t think many could survive a stampeding kafka! 🙂

  9. i mentioned this to you before, i think, but i have and love this one! for me, the sweetness of the heliotrope really balances out the “tougher” elements of the fragrance but not in a way that’s overwhelming. and i find george sand to be really inspirational; her writing less so – although i have only read la petite fadette, which i found to be cute, but not mindblowing.

    regarding the politics of gender, this is a topic i feel very strongly about. i feel that in the states, especially, men have a tendency to cling to, and are extremely defensive about, (imo) rather neanderthalic ideas of masculinity and male virility. i was reading a study that discussed interracial marriages in the united states and while the number of black male/white female and white male/asian female marriages have increased dramatically, the number of white female/asian male and white male/black female marriages remain quite low. asian males have been desexualized for a long time in american society because they are shorter and slighter on average, and stereotypically more quiet, reserved – all attributes that are stereotypically feminine. in hong kong, i saw men walking around in pink shirts looking perfectly coiffed, but i’m sure many american guys would dismiss them as looking “gay”. a lot of my asian-american friends say they’re not into asian guys because they’re too “girly”. meanwhile, asian women are often fetishized for being demure, sweet, “subservient”, what-have-you – adjectives that certainly don’t apply to me or my friends.

    i’m definitely not saying that women have an obligation to find asian men attractive – heck, i’m currently dating a white guy myself. (also, asian males demanding that “white men stop taking their women” is just as disgusting as the fetishization/desexualization – we are not property..) just that a lot of how we view attraction and gender roles is shaped by suffocating notions that is not doing society any favors. and of course it’s not an american problem – when i asked a hong kong friend why he got so offended when a behavior of his was said to be feminine, he replied that “masculine attributes tend to be positive, and female attributes negative. that’s why when [chinese female celeb] is called boyish, people always mean it as a compliment.” someone else said that “instead of trying to claim masculinity, why don’t [men] try to shed off the notion of masculinity being a way for men to gain legitimacy” … if only!

    anyway, that was really long and not about perfume at all, i’m sorry 😉 thank you for replying to my question about iso e super, by the way. it’s a shame because i really like ta’if, tolu and woman, but the stuffy-chlorine after”taste” lingers on for far too long!

    • Oh, I’d forgotten that you had George. I’m thrilled you love it and that it works for you, Julia. So much for claims that women can’t wear George! *snort* Interesting how the heliotrope seems to be more dominant on you than on me, but that’s good in a way. As you said, it counters the darker elements.

      I found your comments on the whole Asian thing to be utterly fascinating, not just in terms of the stereotyping of Asian males by others or outsiders, but how some of them see other Asian males. Utterly fascinating. I think your Hong Kong friend is right in saying how the various gender attributes are seen (in some societies), no matter how much we’d wish it were otherwise. The Chinese culture, in particular, has such a longstanding tradition of valuing men/boys over women/girls, so it’s not at all surprising it’s so ingrained and hard to shake off, even in the 21st century. But I think that you’re right in saying that some Western men are particularly hung up on certain images of virility or what makes a real “man.” It’s not just Americans, though. Think of the Greeks or South Americans, the Italians, etc. They may wear pink shirts without a problem (unlike many American men), but the rest of their beliefs seem quite firmly entrenched in old-fashioned assessments of a woman’s role, vs., a man’s role. Italians and Latins in particular! And, in many ways, American men are actually more liberated and modern in that regard. Whatever the larger societal issues, I simply wish it didn’t pop its head up in perfumery over something as silly as what a particular note may represent.

      • I found this discussion absolutely amusing, how satanized has racism become in modern WESTERN society, seriously. Has there ever been any consideration to some of the reasons that produce racism, I wonder. Is it not fear that creates, racism, is it not a sense of invasion, of danger, of loss of what is known. The real reason for racism is the fact that even though all humans are the same creature, we simply don’t look the same, and that is a huge problem, is a problem that will not dissapear until and if in the future we all look the same. It cannot be denied that most humans, except for the ones with visual impairment, take about 80% of the information about the world that surrounds them through their eyes. I have questioned myself a few times, wondering how races originated, and why we look so different from each other, I have my theories about it but they remain as speculation. However, what cannot be argued is that people of different color and features have lived historicaly in different regions of the planet. I seriously doubt that racism, was an issue back in the time were people of different race lived separate in their own regions. However only in recent times has racism emerged as a true problem, and what people do instead of question where it comes from is close mindedly satanize it. Point in case, in current Europe there is a certain movement against immigration from other continents, with political parties like Golden Down and from what I read on the newspaper in Paris, similar political parties are starting to form in France. It can only be assumed that the huge wave of immigration from other continents is starting to have it’s effects on Europeans. Immigrants from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and America, have arrived in large numbers in the past decades, and one of the main problems with this is that, the majority of them isn’t really mixing with the local European population, but marrying with each other instead, creating separate social groups in the countries they arrive in and having way too many children, whilst Europeans aren’t having the same number of kids, let alone more. I can see this evolving into a huge social problem in the future, and honestly I have come to fear the worst. Hitler’s political party also wasn’t particularly strong in the beginning, but it was a small group just like parties like Golden Down. I can only hope that I’m wrong and that events like the Jewish Holocaust are not in the future of Europe. I did hear some good news about Africa developing in a positive way while I was in Paris, which is good news. People shouldn’t have to move to other nations because they can’t have a better life in their own country or continent, and decent standards of life shouldn’t be kept only for the West. I’m well aware that this post is relatively risky in it’s nature, but I’m one who likes to question and reflect on the reasons for things to happen and their source, were they come from. I know very well that this post could be interpreted very badly, but I’m willing to play Devils advocate here.

        • There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting at the root causes of racism, and there have been thousands of books written on the issue from every academic disciplline, whether it is sociology, political science, psychology or more. So, yes, there has been a lot of consideration given to the causes of racism, and it’s great that you are digging into them.

          That said, I’m afraid this is a discussion outside the purview of the blog, and more suited for academia or a site devoted to such matters.

  10. ” I find it so silly that society has decided to categorize lavender, to give just one example, as a more “masculine” note, while roses are ostensibly a woman’s domain. ”

    I find it hilarious, because in the Victorian era, lavender water was one of the scents that could be worn by “nice” women!

  11. Wow, Kafka, George Sand sounds nice! I have not yet explored any from this line because I cannot just stop at one, I need to try them all. I’ll place an order over at STC over the holidays when they have specials. Great review.

    As to gender and perfumes, I used to think why would I go to the men’s fragrance section unless I am buying perfume for a guy? Ever since I fell into the rabbit hole, I’ve crossed the line. I still use “too masculine” for some perfumes and that would only be because of my perception of what a “perfumed” man may smell like.

    • Surrender to Chance has hardly any of them, alas! Just George and one other, but I can’t recall right now which one. I think it may be the Camellia one (which was the only one that didn’t really wow me, but then, I’m not a pure floral person). I really hope that you get to explore the line though, Hajusuuri, because they’re a FANTASTIC value for the price. Really fantastic: $110 for 100 ml of eau de parfum! And they last for ages on the skin. Even MY skin!

      • …but I shouldn’t make a habit of buying 100 mL samples! I may have to drag my lazy self to Twisted Lily in BROOKLYN unless I can find the line elsewhere in Manhattan. Oy vey!

        • How many train/subway rides is the Twisted Lily from you? From what I’ve seen, it’s only available online, but StC does have George and Orlando in sample form for a decent price per ml: $3.25.

          • From Grand Central Station during regular hours (i.e. NOT late night when some trains are superlocal or otherwise not available), it will take about 1/2 hour with one switch to another subway line and then a walk from there.

            If I don’t want to bother with doing this journey, I will probably utilize the sample program at Beautyhabit – 3 x 0.7mL samples for $15 (includes shipping within the U.S.) and you get a $10 coupon to use within 60 days towards a FB purchase of one of the products sampled

  12. Pingback: Jardins d’Ecrivains Orlando | Kafkaesque

  13. Oh wow, how is this for a wonderful coincidence. Guess which movie’s just come thru mailbox (via DVD delivery service), which we’ll probably be watching tonight ? Yep, none other than Impromptu – how incredibly fab is that !? 🙂 Thrilled huge smiles all over my face on reading your review. I mean, wot ARE the chances of that !? (It seems we are well & truly ‘in-tune’ – I took it as a sign.) 🙂 … I’ve yet to actually sniff ‘George’, tho’ am now positively desperate to do so. Will need to order a sample a.s.a.p. (Tho’ the ‘minty’ note does worry me somewhat. I don’t mind ‘mentholated’ a la Tubereuse Criminelle for example, BUT mentholated a la ‘mint’ or ‘toothpasty’ IS a problem for me usually.)
    As for all the ridiculous ‘fume-gender-politics, I couldn’t agree more !! – I absolutely relish the opportunity of jumping down the throat of anyone who dares suggest I might be smelling ‘too feminine’ – & believe me I do ! 😀

    • Hahahaha, Impromptu and mental telepathy! 😀 I love the synchronicity, Julz! And you should definitely try George. To me, and on my skin, it’s much more mentholated à la Lutens, than toothpaste-y. In fact, I was going to say that it reminds me of Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger, only with leathery bits and resin instead of cumin. It has that trademark Sheldrake touch of mentholated notes to white flowers, you know? Only here, there is that very distinct leather note that later on takes an animalic edge with the musk and the almost civet-like, horsey element lurking deep below. Masculine, feminine… it’s both, and it’s very different!

      BTW, if this is the first time you’re seeing Impromptu, I’d love to know what you think of the tale! And Judi Davis, a fantastic actress.

      • Oh good, I’m glad to hear it. The way you’ve described it I’m pretty certain I’m bound to enjoy George. After all the time spent reading & ‘lurking’ on your blog, I’m amazed how very similar our nose/tastes are. We share all the same likes & more importantly have most of the same disliked notes & ‘niggles’ too (like lavender for one, & fruitchouli as apposed to glorious ‘brown patch’, etc. etc. – too many to mention right now.) 🙂

        And yes wonderful synchronicity indeed – wot fun ! 🙂 – It will be our first time seeing ‘Impromptu’ , & agreed Judy Davis is indeed an outstanding actress. The last film we saw her in was the wonderful ‘Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows’, in which she played Judy to absolute perfection. A total joy to watch !
        As for ‘Impromptu’, I’m afraid we’ll have to postpone watching it, as tonight we have another treat. They’ll finally be screening the very last episode of Agatha Christie’s Poirot : ‘Curtain’, (in which ze poor leetle Belgian will finally [& sadly!] be ‘poppin hiz clogz’), so pretty much unmissable in my books, being a bit of a fan. … But can certainly let u know what I think of Impromptu once watched. 🙂

        • Wow, how cool that we have so many of the same tastes in perfume *and* films! I loved, loved, loved “Life with Judy Garland” and the sad tale of that poor woman’s life. As for Curtain, I can’t watch it. I never could. I always loved Hercule Poirot too, too much. I could barely read the book when I was younger, did it once, and will never read it again. lol

          BTW, I’m SO glad you’ve stopped lurking!! That goes for both you and ‘Fume Ho! 🙂

          • Cheers thanx Kaf. … And yes our many similarities are indeed cool. And believe me from wot I’ve gathered so far they are quite surprisingly (& eerily!) considerable.
            And ‘Curtain’ was fab, BUT also sooo sad. (I admit I could not hold back a tear or two.) 😦 – Thankfully they kept this last adaptation very faithful to the book, which I really appreciated. … But almost even better, there was also a whole 1hr special afterward, with David Suchet chronicling his filming of this very last episode. (his 70th – the full cannon !) And commemorating his twenty-five years (25!!!) filming Poirot, how he built the character (& now, difficulty letting go). … Which was probably even more enjoyable & even a little sadder ! – (so a few more tears shed) 🙂 … I imagine they’ll probably premier it on TV there in the new year (!?)

  14. “In a nutshell, George bloomed from an almost medicinal, very leathery, pungently herbal, dark start into something considerably sexier, more sensuous, more floral, and better rounded.”

    The opening is definitely medicinal, which I can see how many would perceive as minty and toothpasty. It was probably meant to form an incense accord with the guiac and patchouli, but it seems a little off, while it could work on the right person. George can get floral, so I could see how it might not work for many men, despite the coffee and tobacco notes. It actually reminds me of another Etat Libre d’Orange, Divin Enfant, which I dislike for its thin woody drydown. The musk drydown of George is a thing of beauty. I wish the first hour was better. It could work as a winter scent where you spray it on just before you go out into the cold.

    • Things vary from person to person, skin to skin. There is no one absolute answer, or definitive aroma profile. It sounds like the medicinal aspect is much more intense on you than on me, which is a pity as I know it’s not always the easiest debut. I’ve noticed though that temperature seems to affect the degree of sharpness for the herbal, mentholated elements, as well as how long it lasts on my skin. So, you’re undoubtedly correct that it would be best in chilly to very cold weather in order to tamp it down. The drydown is lovely, isn’t it? I definitely wish the first hour were easier on my skin as well.

  15. Pingback: 2013 in Review: Best of & Favorites Lists | Kafkaesque

  16. Just blind bought George!Good luck to me!I am a very naughty woman,I promised myself no more blind buys,but what the heck,Escentuals have 25 %off this weekend. Thank God,at least,I haven’t lost my senses completely.I didn’t blind buy an Amouage:-)

    • LOL! Blindly buying an Amouage — of all things — would be utter insanity, given the complexity of the notes, never mind the price. I do hope you love George. One friend hated the sample I sent her as the orange blossoms went terribly, terribly wrong on her skin, but two others went nuts for it. So, fingers crossed that your skin puts you in the second group. Do let me know what you think of it, okay?

      • I will of course! I’m most curious about it.Adore orange blossoms,especially with a dark edge.Anyway,I think I got a push from the gods of fragrance because samples of Amouage Memoir and Ubar arrived in the post yesterday morning,so I had the chance of testing the one I was really interested in which was Memoir.Needless to say I liked it,but didn’t go crazy for it.Also lasted only about 5 hours on me.So that saved me from buying it and pushed me more towards George which was beckoning me like a mermaid for months.Still,a 70 euro sample is not a good idea,but I can sell it if I don’t like it.

        • I haven’t tried Memoir yet, in either Man or Woman form, though I have samples for an upcoming review. Such a shame about the short longevity! Surprising for an Amouage, but then their JubXXV was a surprisingly short player on my skin, so it certainly can happen. How was Ubar on your skin?

          • Ubar was a good soapy,musky,powdery floral on me.A bit in the vein of Dia.I like fragrances like that but they are so dissonant to my personality,that ultimately I always refrain from buying them.They remind me of an upper class lady,blonde,slightly voluptuous,well dressed,positive,always behaving according to conventions,altogether nice and pleasant.So not me!It lasted about the same amount as Memoir.Out of the two Memoir was the one that I liked the most(after all,it has a strong leather note).Relatively poor longevity must have something to do with the fact that I sprayed very little(less than a single proper spray).

          • Heavens, that’s little. I mean, like seriously nothing in terms of quantity! I think you’d definitely need to try it again with more, as I’ve noticed a substantial difference in general in how a perfume’s notes unfold or, even, which ones bother to show up if I use only a tiny amount. I think to get a true sense of a perfume, you’d need the equivalent of one small bottle spray, at least, and remember that atomiser vials often give less because of the size of their hole than the amount you’d get from a proper bottle.

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