Witchiness? | Perfume Posse

I ‘borrow’ the neighbour behind my garden’s tree. It’s a eucalyptus – tall, full, frondy. At dusk (gloaming) it’s both beautiful and unsettling. When we have gales, it bends and bows – again, unsettling. But when it’s still it feels like it’s watching over my garden.

I believe in the magic and mystery of nature. I’m not inclined to paganism but knew people in my teens and 20s who were, who felt themselves to be witches and worked their own magic. They felt very strongly that certain smells assisted with the making of that magic as well as strengthening their own beings.

I’ve found it interesting over the years that fragrances I view as mysterious or witchy don’t really work on me. I think I am just too straightforward, lacking real mystery (I’m not talking the not say much mystery – rather I’m not an enigma). It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought some of these were dark and powerful – and beautiful. However, mostly they haven’t worked on my chemistry no matter how gorgeous I’ve felt they were.

This all derives from pulling a sample of Ormonde Jayne Woman out of the box in the closet a few days ago. I sprayed it on and was reminded, yet again, that though this is gorgeous it ain’t gorgeous on me. So, I thought I’d look at three perfumes, including the OJ, that to my mind fall in this category of witchiness that doesn’t work on me.

I remember when OJ Woman was launched and how much noise there was around it. It was one of three (I recall Champaca, the rice thing, which was also madly gorgeous but certainly not witchy, which now appears to be gone, but I can’t recall the other) and I think if Linda Pilkington had only ever offered OJ Woman she would still have gone down in perfumery history. Dark, sweet, green. Weird. I owned a bottle because even though I knew it wasn’t really me it is so beautiful I wanted it to work. Ended up giving it away. Not sure why I threw it into a recent sample order beyond wishful thinking. Launched in 2002, notes for this are grass, coriander, cardamom, black hemlock, violet, jasmine, vetiver, cedar, sandalwood and amber. I had never seen black hemlock used in a perfume before.

In any case on me this is sweet and green. Not dark, though it was dark on fabric. I was so sad that this didn’t do dark, unsettling, odd, magical on me ‘cause I know it does that on other people.

Next up is Amoureuse from maybe now closed (not clear) California-based Parfums DelRae. Again, I bought a bottle of this in hope but gave that away too. This was also launched in 2002 – clearly a good year for perfume. Notes include cardamom, tangerine, lily, jasmine, tuberose, honey, oakmoss and sandalwood. Michel Roudnitska (the son) was the nose and this was inspired by a walk with DelRae Roth along boxwood tree lined streets in San Francisco. I haven’t been to SF in ages but it did always feel like a magical place. This reads big sensual floral but on me it was green — weird, humid, dark green, and unsettling — even though it’s full of things like jasmine and tuberose. Tuberose is usually good on me, but you would never have known it was in there on my chemistry. Definitely magical and witchy out of the bottle on a scarf.

Last one, which is definitely gone, is Bertrand Duchaufour’s out-of-character for Penhaligon Amaranthine. Seriously, magic in a bottle and no idea why they chose to discontinue it except that I can imagine, given other Penhaligon fragrances, this didn’t go over well with the core clientele. It certainly was popular among some perfumistas. I didn’t manage to buy a bottle of this because instead I was gifted a decant. I wore this infrequently and it was so unctuous and heady that it went off after a year. Ironically, the bottle leaked which I think was probably the real reason it went off so quickly – ie, it couldn’t be contained. In any case, this came out in 2009 and didn’t hang around that long. Notes were (I’ve seen both) palm and banana leaf, cardamom, freesia, coriander, tea, ylang, carnation, clove, jasmine, orange flower, milk, vanilla, tonka, sandalwood and musk.  One comment I’ve seen about this is thick, floral milkshake. I got gooey, heavy, beautiful floral. The problem was I did smell the banana aspect and that simply didn’t work. But again, dark, weird, magical and witchy.

Looking at the notes lists all three have cardamom, jasmine and sandalwood, which managed to translate into sweet, pongy, milky in all three and really unsettling – at least for me.

So, do any or all of these work on you? How do you view them and yourself when wearing them? Do you own them (and backups)?

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