There is not a person alive who has been unaffected by the wretchedness of 2020 and the pandemic that has dominated the list of traumas. I won’t even start to talk about the issues of this year because they are many and all hideous. But what about the escape methods for many of us during the best of times: scent? How much is perfumery still a big escape in the midst of one of the worst years in the 21st century?
If you have been lucky enough to be spared by COVID, perhaps you have turned to scent from time to time. Or perhaps you’ve been so overwhelmed by events that seem far more existential and major than a luxury such as applying fragrance, so it ends up getting lost in the sway?
After all, by all accounts, it’s alcohol that people have turned to during the pandemic and sales are up a lot, whereas fragranced products like scented candles have had an interesting reaction with statistics and Amazon reviews showing a fair portion of people (including those who admit to having COVID) are suddenly complain about not smelling anything. (I wonder why. *snort*)
Let me ask bluntly: have you cared as much over the last 8 months about scent and/or perfumery as you once did? Or have you actually turned to it even more as an escape?
In my case, I’ve cared much less about fragrance generally as well as new releases but, at the same time, I’ve cared even more about my comfort scents or my established, happy favourites. No longer driven by interest in the latest scent, no longer concerned with the rat race that often occurs with trying new releases for review purposes, my focus was on burrowing into my loves. I didn’t want to spend for 12+ hours dissecting every possible note or change in a new release and I was far too mentally exhausted to do any of the things that I normally do for reviews. No, I merely wanted to enjoy the things that meant the most to me personally and to just revel in the soothing, comforting familiarity of a much-loved scent.
I highly doubt I was the only one who felt this way or who broke normal patterns in this utterly abnormal year by opting for old, comfortable favourites.
So what did you turn to?
For me, there were a lot, ranging from old to modern: Dior Mitzah; vintage Guerlains; vtg Giorgio Cologne for Men; vintage Lagerfeld for Men; Neela Vermeire Trayee and Bombay Bling; SHL 777 O Hira amber, Black Gemstone, and Rose de Petra; Arabian Oud Kalemat and Kalemat Amber Attar; AbdesSalaam Attar/La Via de Profumo‘s Tasneem and Tawaf; Areej Le Doré Ottoman Empire and Russian Oud; Puredistance M; Ensar Oud Sultan Leather Attar and Santal Sultan; Rania J. Ambre Loup; Oriza L. Legrand Chypre Mousse and Horizon; Malle‘s Musc Ravageur, and more.
There were also newer scents. Like, Papillon’s fabulous 2019 Bengale Rouge.
(Thread) Liz Moores/@PapillonPerfum's forthcoming #BengaleRouge is not just her very best yet but also utterly addictive. A+++! I don't want 1 bottle but backups to my backups so I can bathe daily in it w/o my usual hoarding worries because it's pure sex w/ luxury cozy comfort. pic.twitter.com/eVdqYpwXBt
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) May 29, 2019
There was also my love for Areej Le Dore‘s 2019 Antiquity:
(THREAD) 1. #Antiquity is, hands down, my fav. of the four new @areejledore extraits & something I'd wear often for myself. Superb job by Russian Adam. Vintage-skewing, opulent, sultry, dark, sophisticated, & lasting 24+ hours, I love it. Mini review in the thread below. pic.twitter.com/JtDi4u7d26
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) October 4, 2019
And my admiration for Areej‘s 2019 War and Peace which, by the way, totally blew away my 85 year-old, sophisticated, decades-old expert and animalic-loving perfumista mother. (I must be honest, though, it is so INCREDIBLY skanky on her, so incredibly urinous and sexual, and in such an intrusive, obnoxious, powerhouse way that I actually shudder when I smell War & Peace II on her. And I’m saying this as someone who likes War and Peace I & II in a major way. Skin, man, skin is a very weird thing…)
(Thread) #WarAndPeace is another bold stunner from @Areej & I'm not surprised bottles are already running low. Opening: lightly honeyed rubied roses w/ thorns of leather, withered by dry-spiced ambery incense, then sheathed in the plush velvety fur of rare Siberian deer musk. pic.twitter.com/rIUcnoW7AM
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) October 6, 2019
But most of my favourite go-to fragrances were comfort scents, starting above and beyond with Chanel‘s now vintage, original version of Coromandel in EDT form but then extending to really classic vintage fragrances that I’d long planned to discuss on the blog but never got around to.
Primary example: vintage Femme which is both totally unisex despite the name and also the scent inspiration or mother lode olfactory basis for everything from Amouage‘s Jubilation 25 (women), to Dusita‘s Oudh Infini, Roja Dove‘s original version of NuWa, and Papillon‘s Salome. Over the last four years, I had saved multiple different version samples and photos of Femme to write about on this site, but I only ended up getting around to it on Twitter.
THREAD: In honour of @silkselkie finding love & joy, I'm wearing one of her favs: Rochas' legendary vtg #Femme, albeit a post-1987 vtg EDP version w/o the original castoreum. Modern scents which echo Femme incl.: #Salome, Roja's orig. version of #Nüwa, & Dusita's #AoudInfini pic.twitter.com/eb90ZuFjnu
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) August 18, 2019
These days, I only blog when I’m happy and/or not overwhelmed by major events, so you know what made me so incredibly happy yesterday and today, so giddy in sniffing my arm with joy and wanting to both lick it and eat it, so euphoric that I returned to this blog that, to be honest, I have long approached now with a mix of trepidation, dread, and happiness at seeing old friends? One thing and one thing only pushed passed every barrier: Fourreau Noir.
Serge Lutens‘ original version, now vintage version, of a lavender fragrance marked every checklist that this decades-long lavender-phobe normally hated and avoided, but Il Maestro and Christopher Sheldrake made it so irresistible, so incredible, that it brought me to my knees in 2013, made me eat my hat, and made me positively rumble like a happy German Shepherd with a bone whenever I sniffed it. It still does.
In fact, in 2020, after…. just loads of stressful hogwash and deranged gobbledegook, Fourreau Noir has had an even greater impact. Comfort and joy, nuzzling cuddalicious tranquility, what feels like lowered blood pressure when I inhale hard, and most definitely less anxiety or stress — I might love it more than ever. Why? Because it feels far more soothing and comforting than it did in the before times.
(Thread) 1. Only he could do it. Only @SergeLutens could make a fragrance that a lavender-phobe would not only love but buy. And not just buy a regular bottle of it, but buy a bloody expensive, exclusive bell jar! Only a true master could make up-end decades of lavender hatred. pic.twitter.com/7eMwhe8CuE
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) December 1, 2020
A lot of things have changed recently, both in the external political world and for me personally. As some of you know, I lost the Hairy German during lockdown. Traversing the spectrum from almost a dissociated fugue to grief to anger to a host of other things and then more anger before finally reaching acceptance hasn’t been easy. The fact that the process took place during every single wretched thing of 2020, including the loss of close friends, just made it harder for me to overcome. Now, I’ve reached the recovery stage, in large part thanks to external events. I feel as though a black cloud has been removed along with so much built-up grief, anxiety, existential angst, dread, or anger.
Which is a long way of getting to the point that I think I’ll start occasionally writing and reviewing again: things I like or that are classics to begin with, intermixed with some new releases. Then, we’ll see how things go from there. There probably won’t be weekly reviews, but it really depends on how inspiration strikes me. Thus far, I’ve already ordered samples of two new Tom Fords, two modern version of old Guerlain masterpieces (just to see how things are now for certain things like, for example, Vol de Nuit), a Kilian, and a few other things. There is also the new Dusita fragrance that I may or may not start with first. Plus, there are a load of newish, recent Ensar Ouds. To be honest, I reviewed a few of the last set of parfums on Twitter several months ago, was largely unimpressed, and probably won’t cover them in-depth here. However, the very latest one is fairly nice, even if only 4 or 5 of its gazillion notes really manifest themselves on my skin.
As a side note and separate from perfumery, in the next 8 weeks, I may or will hopefully be getting a new rare Red-and-Black German Shepherd puppy from Schutzhund, IPO, West German lines and a six times World VA champion sire.
If that happens, then regardless of whether or not I end up returning to blogging about perfume on a semi-regular basis, I may just spam all of you with photos in one very lengthy post about fat, chubby GSD puppies. Because GSDs must be worshipped, you know. Just as the Ancient Egyptians worshipped cats, my GSD kin worship the Hairy Germans and Holy German Emperors. So, yes, I will be one of those obnoxiously giddy zealots for at least one day or two. You have been warned.
Actually, let me start now with photos and videos of my possible, maybe likely future litter, born Nov. 12th to Ola vom Alta-Tollhaus:
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) November 16, 2020
The father of my possible future litter pup is Pepe vom Leithawald, 6 times World VA, IPO3, KKL1, LBZ.
Here’s the proud Papa, patiently ignoring a rambunctious handful of pups from a prior litter (2nd video):
3. This is the father, 6 x World VA Pepe von Leithawald (also IPO3, KKL1, & more) being sweetly patient as a prior litter of his kids clamber all over him, bite him & pester him.
— Kafkaesque (@Kafkaesque_Blog) November 16, 2020
So let’s talk about you guys now! I would love to hear what all of you turned to, scent-wise, as old favourites to get through the wretchedness of 2020. While I probably won’t reply to everything (mostly because I got samples of some stuff that I want to further test for you guys), I will read everything and will thoroughly enjoy hearing what gave you joy and/or helped you overcome.
If your account involves baking, food, alcohol, or anything else, please share that, too. Photo links, if you can somehow manage that. I learnt to bake this year for the first time and, if I do say so myself, I think my quiches, pizzas, and pies are just moderately, mildly decent. 🙂
My birthday strawberry pie for my mother, made from scratch, was followed by a pear pie with pear and Armagnac liqueur glaze for my dad, quiches and pizzas, and most recently a triple Ferrara espresso cake with a mocha buttermilk dark chocolate ganache frosting. Yes, all from scratch. And, no, I still cannot manage bread. Not even remotely. And I’m just talking about the basics, not something like sourdough. My breads end up flat and dense, though I think I’m simply hopeless as managing the gooey liquid mess that is a no-knead recipe. Sourdough is beyond my ken, completely, so if you’ve managed to learn how to make it this year, I bow at your feet.
So tell me all your news. Again, I may not be able to reply individually to everything, but I will do my best and I will most certainly listen keenly to whatever you choose to share.
On a more serious note, to all of you who have lost a loved one, whether family member or friend, during this wretched year and to all who got Covid themselves, please know that I send you a very gentle hug and much, much love. It may mean little, but I’m truly sorry for your loss(es) and all that you’ve gone through.