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"A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future."-Coco Chanel

Fragrance. Perfume. Scent. Whatever you want to call it, I’m all in. To me, perfume is the icing on the cake. A little surprise. You know when you are decorating a room, everything is finished and then you put those two decorative pillows on the sofa and it makes the whole room come alive? That’s how I think perfume acts. A subtle brilliant gesture.

My most cherished, most beloved perfume is always Serge Lutens. First, if you are interested, read this little biography on M.Lutens HERE. To me, I like the whole back story of a perfume and M. Lutens definitely delivers a rich history. My favorite scent of his is Koublai Khan. A chypre scent, Koublai Khan has a description not for the fainthearted. “Valuable furs were spread for the Emperor of China to tread on, muddy boots and all. Ultra-animalic musks and all kinds of tanned hides make a sensational debut in this fragrance. Pay no attention to their aggressiveness: once on the skin, they retract their claws in favor of padded paws.” The notes consist of civet, castoreum, cistus labdanum, ambergris, Morrocan rose, cumin, ambrette seed (musk mallow), costus root and patchouli. This is definitely not your starter perfume. You need to be pretty bold to wear this. This is the scent I use when I need to be brave.
The only place that I buy this perfume is in the confidential shop in the Palais Royal. It is one of the most beautiful shops in all of Paris. Lavender, black, gold, demure, dark, brooding, slightly mysterious. If you are a diehard fan like myself, you will learn that these beautiful glass bottles can be personalized. For a little extra time and euros, the shop will customize the bottle for you with your monogram. Seriously, does it get better than that? I think not.

My second favorite perfume comes from Le Labo. I use the Rose 31 scent. It’s not a regular rose. It’s a dirty rose. A musky rose. I am definitely a fan of starting with a rose base and then muddling it up a bit. Le Labo uses the following description to define Rose 31... “The perfume’s aim is clear: to transform the famous Grasse Rose, a symbol of voluptuousness and unqualified femininity, into an assertively virile fragrance that can be worn by both men and women... The result is a model of its kind: alternating feminine/masculine with the disturbing ambiguity of the Centifolia rose, quickly picked up by a chorus of warm, spicy and woodsy notes such as cumin, olibanum, cedar and a touch of amber... In the background, the declared sensuality of Gaïac wood and cistus highlighted by a distinctly physical animal note, give this perfume a disconcerting sense of mystery. “

It is rare that I like nearly every scent from a particular perfume house but I do with Le Labo. You also know that I love that they put your name on the bottle! For the jet setter, they also have great travel perfume balm and I heard that they are coming out with solid perfume in November!

Every year for my daughter Grace’s birthday, I gift her with perfume. I started her with the basics. Chanel, course. I’m sure, as she has reminded me, that she would have preferred something else but she will thank me later. There is a fabulous video from Lonny Magazine on the charming French village of Grasse where Chanel perfume is born. You can watch it HERE
 My favorite Chanel perfume is definitely Cormandel. “A spirited oriental fragrance that reveals itself by interrupted its amber vibrato with dry notes and finally settles into a long, restrained, voluptuous accord. Could there be any more beautiful homage to the exquisite Chinese lacquer screens that lined Mademoiselle Chanel’s apartments and made her almost “faint with happiness?”

My other favorites are the following…

Here’s what I don’t like… Any celebrity perfume, anything citrusy or fruity, oceanic, overly floral, green, anything sweet that smells like dessert, and anything Jo Malone because it smells like room spray. When I die, as we all are, my plan is to come back as a landscape architect and a perfumer. Yes, I want to be known as “Eleanor O. Decret-The Nose.” For you mere mortals, there are two schools…ISIPCA (Institut superieur international du parfum, de la cosmetique et de l’aromatique alimentaire) and the Grasse Institute of Perfumery (G.I.P.).

A toute!

*Something you don’t know about me? My favorite poets are Pablo Neruda and Shel Silverstein.
Hug O' War
I will not play at tug o' war

I'd rather play at hug o' war,

Where everyone hugs

Instead of tugs

Where everyone giggles

And rolls on the rug,

Where everyone kisses

And everyone grins

And everyone cuddles
And everyone wins.


  1. Different tastes in scent but a lovely read----and film!

  2. Hi Ellie, What a great quote to begin with! Nice post, love your images. How great that you can experience buying your perfume in such beautiful places. Agree, your daughter will appreciate all that you give her, if she doesn't already.

    I too wear Serge Lutens, but Cédre, a scent that captured me one cold, lonely afternoon in Germany. But do you find a spritz of your Serge Lutens too powerful? I can only go so far as a dab...i

    I guess you've seen the film "Das Parfum" (English title is "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer"), based on Süskind's novel? I think you would like the film -- I loved it. I heard that it was one of the most expensive German films made -- for whatever that's worth.

    Wishing you a nice day! Michelle

  3. My scent is somewhat prosaic, but I always receive compliments. Sung by Alfred Sung.
    * Something about me? I love Mary Oliver's poem The Summer Day, for it's stirring finale.

    1. Dear Donna, I would have written back earlier, but I was busy looking up the word prosaic. :-) Now I'm going to go read Mary Oliver's poem. Can't wait. Hope you're having a great day! XO XO XO

    2. Donna.....And my favorite poem is Mary Oliver's Wild Geese!

  4. Your post on perfume was lyrical . My minimalist education in cultural, creative, and artistic matters has been mercifully advanced because of your outstanding blog.
    One thing I do understand, since I am a physician, is that you are a real soldier to maintain such high quality posts in the face of your challenges. Carry on please.

    1. Dear Linus, thank you so much for all of the compliments. I'm glad you like the blog. And yes, I will soldier on. :-) I hope you have a great day!

  5. I do not have a favorite perfume!Here is where we differ............I MUST change that.......will check your scents out and let you know.......Home safe and sound and very tired!XOXO

  6. Alas, dear Ellie, we've come to the place in the road where our tastes diverge! But no worries, you take the musky, chypre scented road and I'll take the citrusy (but not lemon), floral scented room and we'll soon meet again on your wonderful blog!
    I know you can't stand citrus, and by citrus you mean lemon, I understand, as sometimes it can smell like furniture polish! But did you know that Neroli essential oil is used by aromatherapists to treat anxiety, depression and panic attacks?
    Since you love scent so much, if you're in need of a light, lovely and enjoyable read, I'd recommend "The Perfume Collector" by Kathleen Tesoro.

    1. Dear Christi, thanks for the recommendation for the essential oils. Maybe they will help with my panic attacks and I will definitely check out The Perfume Collector. Have a great day XOXO

  7. I, too, love Le Labo and Serge Lutens but I also long for perfumes that are gone, like My Sin by Lanvin, Detchema by Revillon and One Perfect Rose by La Prarie. God, how I miss them.
    Stay well.

  8. Dear Ellie,
    Reading the headline quote felt a bit like a chastisement from Mme. Chanel herself, for once upon a time, her No. 19 was the only scent I wore. I loved it from the time it was first introduced in the 70s until it was discontinued. It has been re-introduced, but slightly re-formulated, due in part, I believe, to the ban on using real oakmoss.
    I read some interesting comments from Frederic Malle about the EU's proposed ban on so many of the traditional, natural ingredients that are so important to the perfume industry. Efforts to develop synthetics as substitutes are ongoing, but they cannot quite match the real thing, and either subtly or dramatically alter known and loved fragrances.
    I've not worn any fragrance since the original No. 19, perhaps it's time to give it another try. Though to determine if it still has the same effect with my skin chemistry, I may have to get in touch with an old boyfriend.
    Thank you so much for your lovely and thought provoking posts. When opening my morning email, I save yours to savor while having breakfast. : )

    1. Dear Catherine, I have No. 19 also! It is my husband's favorite. Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope you're having a great day. XOXO