Scent, Pandemics, Escape, Dogs, Baking, and Surviving 2020

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?

Fourreau Noir Serge Lutens

Fourreau Noir. Now vtg Bell Jar. Photo: my own.

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?

Existential angst

Artist unknown. Photo shared with me by a Paris friend.

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.

There was also my love for Areej Le Dore‘s 2019 Antiquity:

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…)

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.

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.

Fourreau Noir Serge Lutens

Fourreau Noir. Now vintage Bell Jar version, circa 2013. Photo: my own.

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.

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:

The father of my possible future litter pup is Pepe vom Leithawald, 6 times World VA, IPO3, KKL1, LBZ.

Pepe. Photo via Alta-Tollhaus GSDs.

Pepe. Photo via Alta-Tollhaus GSDs.

Here’s the proud Papa, patiently ignoring a rambunctious handful of pups from a prior litter (2nd video):

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.

Strawberry pie with cooked, caramelized peach and creme pat underneath. Made as a birthday pie for my mother.

Saffron, spinach, mushroom quiche with chicken mozzarella sausage and gruyère.

Mushroom, sausage, pepperoni pizza with scallions and shredded, fresh, and burrata mozzarella.

Pear Pie with pear and Armagnac liqueurs for my dad’s birthday.

Triple Espresso cake with a mocha buttermilk ganache frosting.

 

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.

68 thoughts on “Scent, Pandemics, Escape, Dogs, Baking, and Surviving 2020

  1. Hi K, those pics of food look absolutely delicious! I’ve sampled many but have made very full bottle purchases. I loved Bengale Rouge myself. I’ve tried many Bortnikoff, Areej and Ensar. I love Matthew Meleg’s perfumes. He is a standout for me of 2020. This is the year I’ve sampled the most. Thanks to you Kalemat is still a favourite. Wishing you and the Tetonhund a very blessed and healthy holiday. Don

    • I’ll have to try Matthew Meleg’s fragrances. Do you think there is a reason why 2020 was the tear you sampled the most? Escapism or something else?

      My Tetonhund died, I’m afraid.

      • I’m so sorry for your loss. I feel awful K. I have a 5 month old kitten aka enfant terrible hence no Christmas tree. Escapism during the past 11 months to be honest. I’m dealing with the insomnia and migraines for which I’m on a new once monthly injection. Insomnia still here. I try to remain positive though. Meleg himself is a very interesting free spirit not bound by IFRA restrictions.

  2. So glad to hear from you. I look forward to your upcoming reviews. I’m eagerly awaiting my sample of the new Francesca Bianchi’s Tyger Tyger. Other then that I’m testing some of the Chanel Les Exclusifs to see if there’s anything I want (before the rumoured 2021 price increase happens).

  3. What a joy to read your post, even if it is mostly about the year we are all keen to leave behind. I am so very happy for you you may have found a new GSD, I mailed you when I read on twitter the Hairy one was increasingly ill, but I think it got lost somewhere. Do you know what gender it will be?
    I know how losing a dog, is losing family, and it takes time for the grief to heal. As with all losses. Ofcourse Champ and Major are the best news…and having had a bad accident with my ‘Angela’ 3 years ago I can say it is not age, it is these wonderful dogs that we are not always equal to that cause us to fall ;-)! Fortunately A. is ok, she has some tumours, so far they seem benign, and so far we seem to keep them in check with Chinese herbs and other supplements.
    As we have had to do everything we can to keep our business afloat, and it is still a source of stress, this year has been very stressful, as I think it has been for almost everyone. My sister caught Covid but wasn’t that ill fortunately, she lost her taste and scent (she could only ‘taste’ the sensation of hot red peppers), but it has returned. In the first wave the area where I live was hit hard, mostly through choirs and nursing homes, but it seems we have acquired some sort of immunity as it is now one of the least hit area’s.
    When stressed perfume is difficult for me, so I have been scentless for quite some time. This summer was a better, and on and off, and I mostly wear Hiram Green and April Aromatics, the wrong synthetics often end up as scrubbers. I fell in love with Vero’s work 2 years ago, and have worn Rozy recently quite a bit. Bengal Rouge is lovely, but I can only wear a few drops. I recently wore Trayee, another beauty.
    I hope you will be up to posting about the possible pup, beats perfume ofcourse!

    • First and foremost, please kiss “Angela Merkel” from me, then know I send you many hugs.

      Second, I’m sorry to hear about your sister but I’m glad she’s recovered and only had a mild case. I’m equally sorry to hear about the business difficulties. Though a number of people are experiencing difficulty in a COVID economy, it never changes the stress, fear, perilousness, and worry one goes through daily. I hope the advent of new vaccines will bring about a new and better beginning for everyone.

      As for not wearing scent, being more sensitized to some these days, or not being in the mood for it at all for stretches of time, I hear you. I used to wear scent every day where I wasn’t testing something. Now, I go a whole week sometimes without bothering. My focus has been too split or stressed about other things and food is sometimes a better distraction given the time it takes to cook or bake.

      As for Champ and Major, GSDs in the White House!!! Hurrah.

  4. I’m so sorry about the Hairy German. Losing a dog is so painful, and I remember how much you loved that dog. They are so much a part of our lives. I lost my Great Pyrenees this July from a sudden and inexplicable illness. He is my last big dog. My other two are small and I am on a waiting list for another long-haired miniature dachshund.
    As for scent, I have worn very little. A few here and there, but nothing consistent. I seem to forget about it.
    I miss my singing with our symphony chorus. We’ve done some virtual things, but it isn’t the same.
    I too am baking, but mostly breads and something which I call breakfast cookies which are to die for if you are a cookie eater.
    There was/is so much anxiety over so many issues. I just pray that 2021 is a better year for all of us. I’m so glad you’ll be back on a limited basis.

    • My dear, I’m so sorry about your Pyrenees! I remember how much you lived the breed and, if I recall correctly, you even had 3 at a time at one point.

      I totally understand not wearing scent. Many weeks, I had to force myself. Your comment about “forgetting about it” is dead on, because it was sometimes or even often hard to recall in the midst of a 24/7 news cycle and doom-scrolling.

      I also understand your anxiety. I’ve suffered from it in the past but it bloomed dully in late 2019 to 2020. Ugh.

      I’m dying to gear more about what constitues your “breakfast cookies.”

  5. I was so amazed to find that you’re back, writing about perfume again…..I often still go back to read one of your reviews about a perfume I’m interested in, as I regard your reviews as a certain benchmark of quality and high standards. I’m so sorry you lost your furry German……it’s been a tough year for a lot of people. As for perfume, I’ve lost interest in new releases, I got bored with sending off for samples to review because I was always disappointed. I grew up with the very finest quality, now vintage perfume, so today’s stuff is awful. I have returned to a few old favourites though, namely like you the last dregs of Fourreau Noir, a glorious SL that blew me away along with Borneo and de Profundis. I still adore Chypre Mousse and Oriza have had 2 offers during lockdown of buy a big bottle and get a 50 ml free! So I have stocks of that. And finally I did fall for a “new” perfume. I had some samples from Le Labo and the Patchouli blew me away……it was that raw, smokey opening, morphing into subtle flowers, carnation on my skin and spikes of clove (which I adore, in cooking as well) I’ve ordered some body oil as a treat and a decant of Edp……what I love about LL is that it’s easily available on eBay with a variety of body products and sizes of bottles direct from them. Vintage perfumes are such a hit and miss to buy, having grown up with the real deal, often the juice has gone off and I can’t wear it….
    Lovely to have you back!!

    • Dear Katie, so good to hear from you. Thank you for the kind words on the site but TY even more for sharing what’s been going on with you.

      I totally understand the disinterest in chasing after new releases. 100%! Ditto here.

      But how good to know that Fourreau Noir and Oriza’s recent special made you perk up. A Twitter friend who is a famous big food critic and multiple James Beard-awarded writer pursued that deal, even though she isn’t really a fragranista. She wanted non floral green fragrances so she blindly bought Chypre Mousse and Betiver Royal Bourbon. Loved them both and felt like it was Christmas or a splurge.

      Which 2 did you get?

      Also, forgive me if my memory is a bit wonky, but didn’t you have a cat? How is she/he?

      • Dear Kafka, yes my cat Pepper is my total love (AFTER my partner…..ssshhhh) well remembered! He’s next to me now as I write.
        I bought a big Chypre Mousse and a small Horizon. It was your review of CM quite a few years ago that got me hooked onto perfumes/reviews/sampling, and it’s been really good fun! But now I feel it’s all changed and not for the better. The only new perfumer to me who I find very good is Francesca Bianchi whom I think is very talented, but I just can’t decide on which one to buy and also Liz Moores who again I think is a great talent. Her Anubis I think is stunning, but again so good to be reading your reviews and news Kafka!

        • I know what you mean about the industry changing and not necessarily for the better. As for Liz Moores, I think she’s a star and I agree that she’s a major talent. Even when something doesn’t work personally for me with my specific tastes (galbanum, for example, my kryptonite, in Dryad), everything is always interesting, high quality, smooth, harmonious, and intriguing.

          A big HURRAH for Horizon and Chypre Mousse! Yay! Enjoy!

  6. Kafka,
    I am so happy to read from you here, though I also still read you regularly on Twitter.
    2020 sucked a lot more than it had any right to, and not just for Covid-19-related reasons, though that too, very much so. It’s just been downright bizarre for me (… kafkaesque, frankly. Also, violently misogynistic), I am hoping 2021 gets better.

    Looking forward to the puppy pics, which I know you’ll be able to post sooner or later. I hope it’s sooner, but at any rate I know the GSD you’ll get will be beyond blessed to end up with you. All his needs tended to, with utmost love, care and attention. No better life to imagine for a dog.

    A beloved friend’s beloved dog died a year ago, and she had a stuffed toy version of him commissioned. It resembles him very much, you recognize him right away (though the stuffed toy is naturally much smaller). Now when she sends me pictures of her cats I sometimes see him in the background watching over her new pets. It’s darling and heartwarming. Nothing will replace Zola, of course, but maybe that can help a bit?

    I still loved perfumes as much as before bit I didn’t have the energy to dissect it as I used to, this past couple of year. The pandemic at least prompted me to enjoy my favourite scents again, looking for comfort like you.
    A few month ago, I found a vintage (and I mean vintage: Shiseido-label era!!!!) of Cuir Mauresque, and a few days ago a full bottle of green-juice Chergui, both at a bargain price. Green Chergui opens fresher than the other versions I have; not keen on freshness in general but it’s ok. The tonka bean and sandalwood are much more pronounced too and it’s made it so creamy and comforting. I didn’t know green Chergui was so sorely missing in my collection before but it was. It’s filling a gap.

    A perfume I’ve always loved: Filles en Aiguilles. Well, the love is getting bigger and bigger-especially now.

    Yes to other names you’ve mentioned, like Mitzah, Ambre Loup, Fourreau noir…
    I’ve been yearning for Chanel Bois des Îles lately, but I never got around to buying a bottle, and it’s probably reformulated to hell now…

    I’ve been meaning to ask for samples as a Christmas gift this year. Eyeing some Neela Vermeire and Filippo Sorcinelli but also Bengale Rouge. I simply must try it.

    • Cherie, merci pour tout.

      Also, yayyy for orig. Chergui, Filles en Aiguilles Mitzah, and so many more that we have in common.

      And yes, you MUST try Bengale Rouge.

      Totally separately and off-topic, whenever this ghastly pandemic ends and you finally can visit the US again, if you’re ever in my corner of the woods, I’m so taking you out for drinks and either sushi or local, famous BBQ.

      Je t’adore, cherie. Merci pour tout. Xoxo

  7. 1st, sorry to hear about your losses during and because of covid. While I know folks who’ve been sick, so far none have passed from it. We’ll see what these next few months have in store for us all.

    2nd, perfume has gotten me through 2020, without a doubt. It’s been my escape. In particular, trying new fragrances and enjoying the mental destinations and images they bring to mind. In no particular order:

    • Kalemat, which we briefly discussed a while back.
    • Ghroob, also by Arabian Oud.
    • Sloth, by Zoologist (via Prin Lomros), which is an absolute delight.
    • Maghrib, by Uniform, which I bought because the price point was right for something I thought was “just nice” but has grown on me and continues to become more of a favorite with each wearing.
    • the atrociously spelled C4SHMER4N by—of all companies—Zara, which is so simple and delightful that I actually purchased two backup bottles. (But at $12 a bottle this was an easy thing to do.)
    • at the other end of the pricing spectrum, I’ve become smitten with many of the perfumes from House of Matriarch. I find the marketing copy to be rather ridiculous while the packaging is quite lovely. More importantly, the fragrances show an originality and quality of material selection that I’m very much enjoying. Standouts include Beautywood (terrible name, best smell I’ve ever smelled in my life), Sacre Noir, Black Sheep, and Black No. 1.
    • and lastly, the magazines and books on perfumery by Nez. SO beautifully designed, printed on quality papers, and educational, as well.

    Once Holiday is over I hope we can catch up a bit more in depth. And I can’t wait for puppy spam.

    Cheers and happy holidays to you, Ms. K.!

    • I loved hearing ALL OF THIS!

      Also, I snort-chuckled at the understandably peevish quibbling about the “atrocious spelled C4shmer4n.” Lolololol. I hear you.

      I’m really glad to hear that scent or fragrance didn’t die out as a mental and emotional escape or source of fun. I’m trying so happy for you. A wee bit envious too, truth be told

      Nez magazines are beautiful and special!

      Ps– GHROOB?!! Wow, yay, and what a joy to hear/read.

      Pps- you may regret asking for the puppy spam. 😉 lol. Xox

  8. So sorry to read about the loss of your beloved dog and also much joy about a new puppy:) About perfume: I bought a bell bottle of Fourreau noir at the Palais Royal in 2012 when I was there with a group of perfume lovers for three days. We visited le Palais Royal and were also able to go to the first floor were we were treated with every perfume like a wine tasting. Fourreau noir was love at first sniff. We went to Hermes, l’ artisan parfumeur, Frederic Malle, The Different Company, Francis Kurkdjian and started at Guerlain were the launch of the very first la petite Robe noire was goin on. All the sales persons in black dresses. It was an unforgettable trip:):):)

    Stay safe and there never can be too many pictures of your new little friend:)

    • FOURREAU NOIR!!!!!!!!!

      I bought my bell jar one year later and I hoard it like gold. The things I’ve heard from perfumistas, actual perfumers, and industry people about the reformulation… man, it’s a surprise that I ever dare to wear any of it.

      But isn’t it GLORIOUS??! OH.MY.GOD.

      • did you have it shipped from Paris? Wow. I still have more than half a bottle. It’s in the box in a dark closet and now 8 years (or more) old;) I will check the bottom of the bottle;)

        • No, I bought it at the Mecca/Palais Royale in 2013, but I think it could be a slightly older bottle than that. Need to check the bar code to know for certain.

          • batch code on the box is UAF09X or VAF09X. could not find it at the site Fragrantica recommends so I wrote to SL in Paris;) curious about their answer.

  9. Glad to see you back writing and very sad to hear about the Hairy German. I think it’s good that you’ve enjoyed your collection, not only new releases demand attention.

    I haven’t tried new perfume almost at all this year because I haven’t bought samples and I wasn’t able to travel (usually when I travel I go to perfume stores as well) and I have used my samples, decants and bottles mostly. I’ve been very busy, working from home and raising our 2 kids…it’s a challenge and eats up my whole time. I really need a break, but don’t see how anytime soon.

    This year my passion for Iris is growing a lot and I have bought in the spring Iris Nazarena which I loved since the first time I have tried it, 3 years ago. And I’ve just blind bought Iris Silver Mist; I’ve been meaning to try it since forever but there is nowhere to be found, so after a few months of going back and forth, I’ve decided for a bell jar (I smiled when I saw the bell jar photo at the beginning of this post). But I’ll have it in my hands in 2 weeks. I’m also thinking for a couple of years of purchasing Iris des Champs which I also adore, but I’ll see in the spring.

    Vetiver is still my favorite note, but Iris is possibly on the 3rd spot after Leather, at this point. Love M a lot, I saw you mentioned it and I should spray it sometime…haven’t worn it at all during the pandemic. And I say sometime, because I am slowly recovering with smell and taste, it’s been almost 3 weeks since I tested positive (the symptoms were mild) and more than 1 week since my sense of smell came back timidly. I have trained my nose with essential oils these weeks, I have read that it helps with bringing back the smell and yesterday was the first day I’ve sprayed perfume, my beloved Sycomore. It was faint, not that is ever a loud perfume.

    • Seb, my friend, I’m so sorry to hear you got Covid and I try hope you don’t experience any Gering or Long Covid systems.

      As for life in 2020, working from home AND raising/teaching kids simultaneously is a huge thing. Huge. It will wear down even the most loving of parents. It is also so goddamn exhausting, from what my friends tell me. And that just creates feelings of guilt or shame, even though none is warranted.

      I loved hearing about the fragrances you’ve loved or fell for. I smiled at Sycomore in particular.

      But Deb, fragrances are irrelevant when it comes to your health, so I’m glad you’ve managed to get passed Covid. May you and your family stay sage going forward. Xox

      • Thank you for your kind thoughts, we’re ok, covid wise. Besides the smell/taste, health is back to normal.

        Meaning to say in the first comment…never smelled Foureau Noir but you make it sound very good! I’m not a fan of lavender and sweet notes myself, so I figure it might surprise me! Too bad I don’t have anywhere to test the bel jars, as I am also very curious by others as well. What are your other favorite Lutens?
        I am kicking myself for not buying Fille en Aiguiles for a good price when the 50ml bottle was still available at discounters; now the 100 ml Gratte Ciel bottle costs 290 Euro!!! I hate that Lutens moves perfumes into different collections and asks more money for a different bottle.
        One sweet lavender perfume I was surprised I liked was Eau Noire by Dior. On paper didn’t sound like something I’d like, but that dark lavender!! I like MEM also, but it’s not a love.

        • I love the pre-reformulation versions of Fille en Aiguilles, Chergui, the jasmine one whose name I can’t recall despite owning it,lol, and De Profundis. That’s off the top of my head. Arabie and Sarrasins are very nice, too.

          If you liked the dark twist on lavender in Eau Noire, then I think you’d like Fourreau Noir but please know that it has been reformulated and apparently some people think it wasn’t done well.

          • Oh, those reformulations, always for the worst :((((( Make it worse and increase the price!

            I’m very curious to see how I’ll like Iris Silver Mist; of course it has been reformulated also, but I don’t and probably will never know how it smelled before, so…

  10. Great to read that you intend on coming back!

    So, 2020… ! I bought a new house and started a MBC in January so I’ve been quite busy, on top of the pandemic creating having at my work. Only jumped on the baking bandwagon recently: lots of cookies, and my first pie !!! The maple syrup and salt pie on NYT Cooking. Delicious!
    Perfumes: I started culling my collection! After stockpiling perfumes for 4 years straight, I realized that most of the bottles bought at the beginning of this hobby were no longer adequate, to say the least!
    Comfort scents: Vintage Chanel Egoïste (forever and always), Chanel Bois des Iles EDP, Ambra Aurea (Profumum), Oud Satin Mood Extrait and Oud EDP (MFK), Sahara Noir (TF), Vanille (MdO), Cimabue (DSH), L’heure bleue (Gueralin)
    New notable scents: TF Tobacco Oud Intense (just as it is being discontinued I fall in love, of course!), ALD Santal Galore & Agar de Noir, Hiram Green Vivacious, Voyage 2019 and Moon Bloom (I lost all self control during Black Friday lol) & Bruno Fazzolari Ummagumma (have you tried that one? chocolate and patchouli heaven!)

    Again, please stay safe down there (in the States), we (the rest of the world) are very concerned with the surge ahead.
    While I love your blog, have you thought of starting a newsletter (many journalists have a successful subscription model with Substack) and maybe branch out to industry news/coverage (on top of fragrances reviews). There is a huge need of a critical voice on this entire business. Just a thought!

    Enjoy the holidays, and again, wishing you and your family health and serenity over the next few months. 🙂

    • My dear, what is an MBC?

      Your first pie sounds glorious!

      Love vtg Égoïste, orig. Ambra Aurea, vtg Bois des Iles, and so many others on your list.

      I’ve thought a lot about doing a Patreon or Substack, but that was early in the year before everything went to hell. Now, I don’t feel comfortable asking for even a tiny subscription amount because I don’t know how regular and frequent my posts will be. For now, I’m just going to take things week by week or possibly even month by month. It depends on how inspired, passionate, or pissed off I feel about a new release. Lol 😉 xoxo

  11. I have been on a buying binge for many months mostly skincare products and scented things. My eternal quest seems to be products that smell good and that last and have some strength. It seems to me that all the fragrances that last and that may elicit a response from others are ones that I don’t like and vice versa.
    I bought a scented lotion from Guerlain and several of their skincare products and I use those and love the scent. I love the fragrance of high end face cream. I wish I could bottle that. My tried and true favorites are Diptyque’s Tam Dao and Serge Lutens Sa Majeste la Rose. I recently tried Eau de Minthe and surprisingly love it. And the new Chanel Deauville is nice and nostalgic. Also a new favorite that is so comforting to me is from Nuxe line called reve de miel. For some reason, it reminds me of everything good and nice and happy.
    Maybe I too have been semi-unconsciously obsessed with wanting to smell/taste good. I even bought cara cara orange dental floss. I am trying to learn to cook more than other years but have been on a health kick too. To reward my efforts I am going to make and eat a cheeseboard for New Year’s Eve. I made French onion soup last night with melted cheese and French bread on top. It was nothing short of fantastic!
    Been reading your blog off and on for years. I love your writings on perfume. You should publish a book of your perfume reviews and I would buy at least 10 copies.

    • Cool tasting dental floss??? I must find this!

      Separately, if skin care has been your escape, love, and joy, then good for you. Whatever works, as far as I’m concerned.

      What have you discovered that is extra special and effective for the face and/or hands/body? I mean, your absolute favourite and must-recommend?

      Btw, French onion soup…yum.

    • I completely understand the interest in “tasty” scents, however one defines that from high-end skin care aromas to nostalgic or sweet smells. I think it’s very human in times of stress like now.

      I love French onion soup!

      Thank you for the very kind words on the blog and my writing. Many thanks.

  12. Your blog is a crack of sunlight. Thank you. Mitzah. Lutens. GSD. Nursing Puppies! Pies that I can smell and touch from my laptop… “Everything will be fine.” That’s my mantra.
    As far as scents, yummy food scents sprayed heavily on comfort wear. In contrast, I am eating red meat daily.

    • Awwww, that’s so sweet. Thank you! Sunshine is what we all need or want, so that’s a huge, huge compliment. Many thanks!

  13. I am so sorry about the loss of your dog, I have been there and can only imagine how much harder it must have been during this hideous pandemic. The anxiety and depression have kept me from enjoying perfume that much, so it’s been a pretty scentless year. Had a mild case of Covid in April that didn’t affect my smell/taste fortunately. Wishing you a better 2021 and the joy of a new puppy!

    • Good to see you, Tara, though I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve faced this year. As someone who has suffered from a chronic anxiety condition for decades and even has bouts with depression, I relate a lot and empathize. This year left many people, even those who would never otherwise have anxiety or depression, feeling the same way. So you or we are not alone. Please remember that. And if you ever need to talk, you can email or find me on Twitter.

  14. I domst hope that you get your German Shepard Dog. The puppies are adorable. You got my attention with the Serge Lutens review. Might try and grab a bottle.
    I caught the virus during the first break out in March. Had an oxygen mask and all. But got over it in about 6 weeks. Still have some problems with muscle tissue. But otherwise fine now. Because my nose is my trade ( oenologist) I was upset at loss of smell for the first few weeks. So set myself a rigorous training program. Putting perfume on snifter paper, and wine, rum and whisky and cognac. I then turned around and my wife swapped them all around and I tried to sniff out what was what. After a full month of that, several times a day, I got my smell back and now enjoying a good glass of Italian, Israeli and Portuguese wine now and then. My reviews on Whisky and Rum are back up and running in the Dutch market. So I get great comfort in that. I made my own Bay Rum aftershave with a Jamaicaan rum, and it turned out not bad. Many Dutch wet shavers have take. To following my recipe for it and making it for themselves.
    Perfume wise, I am enjoying wearing even more than usual, because all of my tastings of whisky and other drinks are online. So my perfume doesn’t get in the way of other peoples nosing and tasting. Finally found a Xerjoff that I really like. Naxos. Enjoy wearing it a lot.
    I see you on Twitter every day, and sometimes feel bad at your frustration at the state of affairs in your country. I refrain from commenting on such things because nobody really really listens to another person. But I can say that I have hope for 2021 and onwards. For the world at large.
    I wish you and yours a great festive time. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas and may your heart be joyful in the new year

    • Oh Jock, I’m so incredibly sorry to hear that you caught it, needed an oxygen mask, and lost an ability important for work. But how marvelous that you found a way to retrain your nose again. Also, I’m glad that you’ve managed to take your tastings online.

      You should talk to me on Twitter, my dear. I’ve missed our chats on everything from scotch to your daughter.

      PS- the Serge Lutens has been reformulated from everything I hear. 🙁

  15. Oh yessss a new blog post! I enjoy your writing style so much.
    And i love the GSD.pics!

    Btw, the anxiety comic is by Adam Ellis https://instagram.com/adamtots?igshid=45vxb9ts12fp

    My best perfume discovery this year was L’âme perdue by Le Gallion. Its one of the few perfume purchases i made.
    I am working from home since march. So, not having to deal with co workers around me who may or may not be sensitive to loud perfumes, i can now wear any perfume i want every day. Mostly ‘oldies but goldies’ are in heavy rotation right now: Opium, Jubilation 25 and XXV, Siberian musk (attar), Sarrasins, Jasmin rouge, Moon bloom, MAAI.
    (Bengale rouge is on my wish list)

    Due to covid19 lockdown stress, and the need for some outdoorsy distraction, I picked up horse riding again. Best decision i made this year.

    I wish you and your family healthy and happy holidays! And may 2021 bring better times for all of us. Greeting from The Netherlands. 🙂

    • Thank you for the cartoon artist’s name, my dear. And it’s good to see you. I love horse riding and think that’s such a great way to de-stress.

      What a FANTASTIC list of fragrances that you’re turning to and wearing. So many major loves there!

  16. Hello Kafkaesque! It is good to know that you and your parents are safe. I am also glad to hear that you are thinking about doing an occasional post again. Bring on the puppy pictures! Animals are so wonderful. As for me, I don’t know what I would do without my two kitties. I’ve been fortunate to remain healthy, being very cautious, and my elderly mother is safe and well, thank heaven.

    I’ll be staying home for Christmas, so this year I’ll be putting up lots of cheerful decorations. There will be a “Catmas Tree” built from cardboard boxes covered with green paper and with cubbyholes to crawl into and explore, and lots of cat-safe decorations and toys.

    As for scent, after my kitties, perfume has been another great comfort to me this year, and a balm against the anxiety and the effects of ongoing isolation. We’ve got a few favorites in common, Fourreau Noir, Ambre Loup (wearing it today), Chypre Mousse, Bengale Rouge, and vintage Femme. Many of the perfumes that I love, I have as a result of ordering samples (and a few blind buys, I have to admit) after reading your blog posts. This year, I’ve tried to focus my attention on the scents that bring me the most pleasure, just wearing them and enjoying them without worrying about someday running out. I have made a few lovely discoveries, notably Diane St. Clair’s Song of Aubrac, Mandy Aftel’s Antique Ambergris, and several gems from Rogue Perfumery. I’ve got a decant of Musc Ravageur and a sample of Ambra Aurea on the way.

    Your baked goodies all look scrumptious, I wish I could smell them through the screen! My kitchen has become a center for ongoing culinary experiments, to help keep life interesting. I now have a signature “pandemic bison meatloaf” to add to my “Harvey’s hurricane chicken”, an array of new cookbooks, and a long backlog of recipes to try. The NYT’s roasted cauliflower with pancetta, olives and crisp parmesan has become a regular favorite, with a can of chickpeas added. Then there are the cocktails, often graced with a spritz of Aftelier’s blood orange or ginger essences.

    Wishing you and your family a safe and heartwarming holiday season, and soon lots of furry puppy love!

    • Holly, I think we live in the same city and I’ve thought of you a few times in the last year from the hurricane to the dreadful Covid numbers we had back in July. *shudder* I’m so glad to hear your mother and you are both healthy, and I hope things remain that way.

      So many of the things you’re cooking are making my mouth water. I must look up that NYT recipe for roasted cauliflower with pancetta.

      Give your furry ones a kiss from me, stay safe, and if you’re on Twitter, find me so we can vent about the state of our stupid state. lol. Also, keep on spraying all those wonderful fragrances, including Bengale Rouge and vintage Femme.

      • Yes, I believe we do live in the same city, and I find much to vent about this state and many other things, being a woman of a certain age. I’m not on Twitter, but I often read your posts. I’ll just say we agree on a lot of things.

        If you try the roasted cauliflower recipe, I found the notes left by others to be very helpful. I agree with them that this dish can easily wind up too salty or too oily. I used Castelvetrano olives, which aren’t too salty and add a nice bright green color. Then I pre-cooked the bacon (didn’t have pancetta) and cut down on the amount of olive oil. The trick for me was to use just enough oil so that the cauliflower and the cheese didn’t stick to the pan. The added can of chickpeas was also a brilliant suggestion. Next time I may try adding some red bell pepper, for an extra bit of festive color.

        The furry ones are duly kissed.

        Stay safe yourself, through the current mess and beyond.

      • Thanks! After the holidays, I can recycle it. Unless the cats are still having fun with it, in which case I could re-decorate it for Spring….

  17. It was a joy to read your blog once again. I am sorry for your loss of the Hairy German. It is always sad when we lose our beloved pets. I have worked every work day since the Pandemic which has helped me to get through it. I have bought only a few perfumes in 2020 mainly because of monetary reasons but also due to the glut of new fragrances and houses. During the pandemic I have most worn my own favorites that I usually wear sparingly because of fear that I won’t be able to afford to repurchase, but it’s now or never. I am enamored with Meo Fusciuni’s perfumes and have worn every one I own, with special attention to “Little Song”. I also have worn SL’s Iris Silver Mist and Chergui, Neela’s Mohur, Diptique’s Eau de Senses and Eau de Capitale, Molinard’s Patchouli, Hermes H’iris, Tom Ford’s Black Orchid, Papillon’s Bengale Rouge, Dusita’s Pavillon d’Or, Splenderis and Erawan, Chanel’s No. 19 Poudre and Esclusif “Boy”, Teo Cabanel’s Alahine, and numerous others. I very much enjoyed reading the responses to your blog and look forward to the next one whenever you get the urge to write it. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

    • Dear Filomena, so good to hear from you and know that you are safe and well.

      I’m glad you’ve found a few new loves this year in addition to the many great oldies you’re still enjoying. I’m also happy to see Bengale Rouge on so many people’s lists!

      Happy Holidays, my friend!

  18. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Our little 15yr old Maltese mix went to heaven in September. I feel peace knowing she is pain free now. Take care. ❤️

    • I’m so sorry for your loss, too, Laura. Even if the decision was made with love for their care, dignity, and pain, it still doesn’t hurt any less. I know. I hope time will eventually leave only good and happy memories, washing away the sadness and grief. *hugs*

  19. Dear Kafka, I’m so very sorry to hear of the loss of your beautiful German emperor and the loss of friends, so tragic. I lost my last Italian greyhound about 8 years ago and I still miss both of my boys every day. I’m hoping to adopt a retired large greyhound sometime in 2021. Thankfully, I do not know personally anyone who has died of Covid-19, but my brother and sister in law have both had it and my SIL is still suffering the massive fatigue effects more than 2 months after the onset of the disease.
    I follow you on Twitter under ‘rebarco.’ This year and the past 4 years have been horrible IMHO. I am counting the days until the orange ogre is finally out of office. I’m so tired of the incredible mental fatigue of waking up every day wondering what new hell he has devised overnight.

    I had never suffered from insomnia, but it has gotten to me this year, along with massive depression. But I feel very lucky to have escaped Covid 19 so far, along with my son and daughter in law and her family. And I am very lucky to be able to afford food and shelter. So many people are suffering now.

    Perfume and classical music have gotten me through the miasma of misery that has been 2020! I have participated in a number of online perfume ‘masterclasses’ with accompanying samples and these have been uplifting and educational. I’m participating in an online event this weekend called ScentExplore. Just got my samples. It should be fun. I’ve also totally gotten into scented candles this year. Cire Trudon Abd-el-Khadr is my holy grail of scented fabulousness. It’s a mint and basil centered fragrance, so gorgeous. I’ve also loved my Lutens Encens et Lavande, De Profundis and I’m enjoying the newer La Couche de Diable. Old Guerlain friends like Angelique Noire and Shalimar have been very comforting.

    I also highly recommend to all live streamed classical concerts online. My local symphony is doing their concerts this way for 2020-21 season and it’s been very uplifting and reassuring. The Philadelphia Orchestra has also had its concerts on livestream via subscription (only $15 per concert!) and it’s been so wonderful to be able to play the concerts over and over and to see the joy of the musicians in being able to play again.

    I have also been cooking and have done some gluten free baking (I have celiac disease) and participated in an online gluten free expo. There was a demo on GF sourdough, but I haven’t gone there yet! I’m concentrating on recipes for vegetables and veggie based pastas. I tried and failed to go completely vegan this year, but I do eat a lot more veggies now and the cows of the world are safe from me. Take care and I look forward to seeing photos of the new puppy!!

    • What a wonderful reply in terms of detail and scope, what a sad reply in terms of everything you’ve dealt with from worries about family members who got Covid, to the wretchedness of this year overwhelming one, and your depression. (I relate. Anxiety and panic attacks, too. This year has simply been too much for me.)

      The scent masterclasses sound like such a fun and great idea. The virtual symphony performances even better! I hadn’t thought of that at all for some reason, but I’m definitely going to look into it. Thank you for the tip.

      Nick Gilbert and Pia Long of Olfiction and the fragrance world have launched a fun new niche candle brand called Boujie Boujée and they have a number of candles that sound really good. I’ve posted about them on Twitter but you may want to look into them. They’re scented candles made by perfumistas for perfumistas. Small and large sizes, UK to US shipping for a reasonable rate, and some really original combinations. It might be up your alley.

      A huge hug to you for everything you’ve dealt with this year and, btw, of course I know who you are on Twitter! It’s been great to chat there about You Know Who. 😉 xoxox

  20. It’s great to see you back, dear Kafka. I am sorry to hear about the Overlord.
    The pictures of your foods look delish. What recipe did you use for pizza?

  21. How lovely to read your words, and hear you again! I won‘t write much except two things: I very much wish you the joy and delight and never-ending love from your puppy!! Then qua perfumes: I managed to get a mini bottle (big tester) of Chanel‘s new Le Lion, and immediately thought: I bet K. would love this. (Second thoughts: no, far too dry), but oh my, what a cuddly dry-down) …
    Keep well!

  22. KAAAAFFFFFFFKKKKAAA!!! Our Beloved!!! How great it is to hear from you!!! So excited for you, and will relish every picture of your new puppy!!! It’s been a hell of a year for us!!! Bern was accepted into an FDA trial for a new aorta! It was a series of procedures beginning in November of 2019 and was complete the first week of March!!! It was 5.5 hours drive away in Boca Raton…I commuted back and forth because I was working 2 full time jobs at the VA, due to my co-worker’s unannounced retirement. What got me through it all was actually fragrance!!! Id leave Bern in the ICU in Boca, and drive all night to come back and do timecards, so 180 people could get paid!!! I would start the journey with a scent of choice and got to be in a bubble (the car) for 5.5 hours. I realized the oppotunity was there early on while wearing the latest Issey Miyake flanker. It really was a cool time to spend really dedicated time with some really lovely stuff. And after Bern’s AAA Disection, he now has a completely synthetic aorta from his heart to his femorals. He’s literally had 40-50 years put back onto his life!!! Also, I’ve thrown in the towel. I don’t like ouds because they remind me of the Gulf War. I sat with a street vendor in a makeshift bazaar, outside our encampment, he taught me all about Attars. .I came back to Germany with 5 bottles. It was a wonderful lesson, and apart from not dying…was the best experience I had there. When I think of it, however, it brings other, not so great experiences to mind, and I don’t like spending time in that memory prison! (PTSD is a bitch!) After 29 year I can enjoy ouds again, without a flood of frightening memories. This holiday (temperatures permitting) is going to be all about Oud, for me. I know I’m late to the party, but I had very vaild reasons. Again, I’m so very excited for you about the puppers!!! It’s so good to hear you again!!! I wish you peace of mind, and health as we wait out the next 47 days!!!! Love you Kafka!!! Big hugs to you from across the Gulf!!!

  23. So good to see a post from you.

    For me, what has helped during these tough times have been children, plants and animals. Also, drinking wine, as I have good quality wine here in Spain and fortunately I have no tendencies to alcoholism. Music too, of course!

    I have cared less about perfume, just sticking to my favorite ones but reading you has brought my curiosity back to life and will ask Santa Clauss for sample sets of Neela Vermiere, Hiram Green, Dusita and would love samples of Chypre Mousse and Bengale Rouge.

    Stay well and get much love from those puppies in 2021!

  24. I’m so truly sorry about Zola. We lost Lola this year early into lockdown. She passed during the night and I found her and it still breaks my heart. I lost my father last year, and now can’t visit my mother, and I lost a friend the other week due to reasons other than covid, and life is generally miserable despite the addition of another puppy this summer, whom Charlie is slowly tolerating. I’m glad you’re finding things that make you happy. All of your baking looks delicious. Scent-wise, I have an ancient perfume oil from The Body Shop called Roma that is still going strong and I still like and covers a bit of the doggy smell when I can’t be bothered to shower before going to the pharmacy. 😉 Love you, miss you, think of you often, and I hope you continue to find little things that bring you joy, and hopefully a lovely furry thing to bring you tons of joy in the very near future.

  25. I am new here, but so glad to see you’re blogging again. I always enjoyed fragrance in a basic way, but since the pandemic struck I’ve been working from home and not in my scent-free workplace, and my interest in learning about and trying different fragrances has really taken off. I found your blog recently and have so enjoyed reading it as an informational and entertaining escape during this time — thank you. And so very sorry to hear about your dog.

  26. Thank you for this post, and for all you do. I’m not sure I’ve commented here before, but I do always check your reviews if I’m considering a perfume, and I was moved by this post.

    Remembering how naive we were in December 2019, I now approach a new year with trepidation and even hesitate to say good riddance to 2020. Nonetheless, I do feel lighter now than I have in years.

    I was distracted by another hobby in 2020, in addition to everything else, so I didn’t think about perfume has much as in previous years. Nonetheless, two of the things I missed the most as a result of Covid were the perfume events hosted by Arielle Shoshana and being able to share perfume with a friend whom I got interested in perfume. Being able to sniff perfume on other people’s skin and talk about it together — really together! And it may be another year before that is possible again.

    I particularly enjoyed samples from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz this year, especially Muresque.

    All best wishes to everyone for 2021!

  27. So great to see you posting and to hear your thoughts. Those puppies are beyond precious and make me want one!
    This year? Work. So much work. And family, friends.
    I cooked, ate and drank, ran and walked (early, due to Covid) and tried to appreciated. For me, things have been fine. Not perfect (obviously) but fine.
    Scent? Every day, and candles. Very mood dependent.

  28. I’m so sorry for your loss. 🙁

    I took a months-long break from perfume starting at some point in 2019 and ending a few weeks ago… not even intentionally, really. I started experimenting with a gluten-free-ish diet around this time last year, and… well, shouting into the kitchen about how much I miss bread and pastries multiple times a day got me through the first few weeks, and I guess I can cheat once a year or so. Why did I even decide to do this in the first place?! No doctor told me to, I’ve never even been tested for Celiac or other gluten sensitivity, and yet: I have so much more energy, and much less brain fog; I don’t want to sleep all the time anymore; even my skin looks better. I miss bread. And though I hate to say it, I don’t miss sleeping 16 hours a day. Most days, anyway…

    Mainly I’m only commenting now because I encountered this blog that… I’ll have to let it speak for itself: https://acoup.blog/2019/05/03/blog-overview-a-collection-of-unmitigated-pedantry/ I’ll just say that both the approach to criticism and the writing style reminded me of yours…!

    Take care now.

    Allison G.H.S.

    (ps I took on a new middle name in addition to my given one, Just Because, so I’ve started using the initials of my *entire* full name, because I didn’t give myself an entire additional name just for no one to know about it!)

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