perfumed, part II
After close to five years, I'm close to finishing my bottle of Vintage Gardenia by Jo Malone. The bottle looks a little forlorn on my dresser. The scent brings always a rush of memories and a number of other things, all of them pleasant - balmy nights, rich damp earth, a flutter of ivory silk, the sweet scent of flowers crushed on the pavement.
But I've also moved on, sort of. Last year, for a change of scenery, I bought Le Labo's Rose 31*. Vintage Gardenia - which really smells more like something else, closer to a Tuberose scent - was always a little sweet for me on some days, and it's also disappointing how quickly the scent wears off.
I smelt Rose 31 ages ago and loved it, but was reluctant to buy a new perfume when I was barely halfway through another. I take ages to get through perfume - I bought Vintage Gardenia in 2010, and it's a mere 30ml - and limit myself to one bottle at any given time. But last year, looking at the Le Labo counter and figuring I had nothing better to spend a 10% voucher on, I decided to get it. At least I was down less than 1/4 of Vintage Gardenia left, I reasoned.
Rose 31 is immensely popular and I won't go on at length about the technical points except one thing: it doesn't smell like a classic rose fragrance, despite the name. This was the thing I learnt about Le Labo perfumes - they don't always smell like their names, because what's named for is just one of many ingredients used. The eponymous ingredient is the one used in the highest concentration, but it isn't necessarily what dominates your nose when you take a whiff.
Like Vintage Gardenia, there's a floral headiness about Rose 31, but there's also an incense-like quality. There also a sharpness that cuts right through, and an earthiness I always look for in my perfumes. I can't identify any of the ingredients by smelling it, but I can tell you it makes me think of black velvet, red wine, grass after rain, my mother. It also lasts - I like that moment when I pull off my shirt at the end of the day and catch a whiff of its last, dying notes.
*It was only recently that I discovered that Le Labo was purchased by Estee Lauder in November. Estee Lauder has also purchased Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle and Rodin olio lusso. What I hate about niche brands being bought by conglomerates is that they're not longer quite free of the animal-testing taint even if they continue not to test on animals (because Estee Lauder does). I love this perfume, but I certainly will think twice about a repurchase when my current bottle runs low.