Eau, Johnny, Eau.

I laughed right out loud, yes.  But this is one crush that will never end. I’ve loved him since Cry Baby.  A film that is high camp.  Well this one is, too.

Perfume is hilarious.  Weird.  And Sexy as Hell. So Johnny makes sense.

I’ll admit, I’ve always dreamed of a perfume inspired Johnny Depp.  It should be dark, weird, funny, smart, androgynous and filthy. In short, great.

Let’s just hope Dior didn’t spend all their money on Johnny.  Let’s hope they saved some for the juice.

And let’s hope they get their own joke.

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Vie de Chateau by Parfums di Nicolai (2010)

Vie De Chateau by Parfums di Nicolai

In a little red barn on a farm down in Indiannnaaa….I’m gonna rest my back on a stack of new mown haaaaaaay.

Vie de Chateau* may translate to “Castle Life” but as I am immediately transported to the farm of my childhood, I am reminded that the French and Midwesterners have far more in common than either side wants to admit.

There is a burst of sunshine in the opening of Vie de Chateau.  Not to get too nostalgic or pie-eyed but there is a moment on a farm morning (and I would assume on a Chateau as well…but I cannot confirm) when the sunshine hits the dew on fresh cut grass and everything smells fresh and new, yet with an underpinning of rich loamy soil. This is the first moment of Vie de Chateau.

Vie de Chateau is typically classified as a masculine and I get the briskness that implies, but there is no gender to a summer morning and thus I wear this comfortably, if not a little mournfully, at my desk wishing I was out experiencing that very thing rather than just approximating it on my wrist.

As we move into the heart, I believe a fresh saddle has just appeared on our farmy morning, warmed with the sun.

I mentioned Cristalle as having an air of Carpe Diem, and so does Vie de Chateau.  In Cristalle, we are accomplishing much in the realm of career.  In Chateau, it’s a day of active leisure.

Vetiver shows up a little after the warm leather.  It’s really nicely composed as I seem to be generally a little sensitive to vetiver’s raspiness.  This one is smooth. Woven.  I suspect it’s because it is blended with the warmth of tobacco which sweetens it and calms it’s respiratory flyways.

So we seem to have a freshly shaven farmer, sitting atop a saddle with an unlit pipe, ready to head off to Sunday services.  So it may not inspire sexy thoughts, but nonetheless it is comforting while never ever sliding into the world of gourmand.

This is what I call a church morning perfume (as is Nicolai’s gorgeous Odalisque).  I don’t mean to imply it’s conservative or staid.  It’s just it would smell great with coffee, toast, shaving cream, and wouldn’t fight with other similar scents amongst the freshly scrubbed pews.  (IE I could see letting my Dad try this one on.)

Hay is one of my favorite perfume notes.  It is sweet, green, herbal and happy if something can smell happy and I feel it can.

A true barnyard perfume would have a bit of indolic heft to it, and this is not it.  While I admit I have a bit of affection for greener, ah, manure.  (I guess there’s no getting around it, but the fact is rabbit and horse poop ain’t that bad.)  This is not a present element in Vie de Chateau.  As I said, this isn’t a farmer on duty.  This is a farmer heading out for awhile.  It’s a day full of possibility and camaraderie, not routine.

There are a couple bottles in my home that find themselves variably on either my dresser’s or my husbands.  I sneak Aqua di Parma.  He grabs Lush Dirty.  (I suspect Eau de Navigateur will find it’s way to my side of the room as he has tired of it.) I could see Vie de Chateau having two homes as well.

I would recommend this perfume, in particular, to people who appreciate classic colognes but do not enjoy orange blossom or heavy citrus (if citrus can be heavy).

Ther is a hot second in the top notes where a rasp caught my breath.  I think it was just that first flash of vetiver that settles down quickly into the basket weave I mentioned above. The drydown is a very clean musk that manages to avoid hissing.  It maintains just a hint of that cut grass quality.  I’m getting sheets drying in the breeze.

If you need the perfume equivalent, be it French or Midwestern, of a country morning transitioning to a nappy afternoon, well friend, Vie de Chateau is the perfume for you.  Castle Life.  I agree.  For what is more luxurious that an outdoorsy nap on a summer day?

Ultimately, Vie de Chateau smells good.  Very very good.

*Whistling “In a Little Red Barn” as I meander away down a country road.*

4 Stars.

*My sample is older and so I cannot speak to the new “Intense”  version although judging by my research it is very similar.

Songes by Annick Goutal (2005)

Songes by Annick Goutal

It took a long time.  I fell down the perfume rabbit hole circa 2008.  But I was naive.  Young.  No respect.  I was a fruity floral/white musk girl who had only determination on her side.  I bumped into Songes at Bloomies.  A particularly friendly and generous sales woman threw every Annick Goutal sample she had my way (Petite Cherie, Le Jasmin, Eau d’Hadrien, Mandragore).  I dabbed Songes onto a strip, recoiled at the fresh jasmine top and put it far to the back of my sample collection.  I did know, thankfully, I was smelling quality.  I just wasn’t ready to embrace the white flowers.  I tried it again a couple years later.  Now Smell This had written a series of posts about building a perfume wardrobe (something I was doing haphazardly.  Metaphorically speaking, I had a lot of tops but no pants.  Not even a dress, really.  It was the sartorial equivalent of quirky t-shirts and a couple pairs of nice heels.) They suggested having a “Killer White Floral” and mentioned that Songes was one of their regulars.  I opened my mind and tried it again.  It was better, and I actually put it on my skin.  I still felt like I was playing dress up.  I didn’t love the jasmine, but I didn’t hate it either. Then I put it away again and declared I GUESS I’M JUST NOT A WHITE FLORAL GIRL to no one in particular and went on my way.

But here’s the thing.  It’s just not that simple.  White florals are lurking lots of places, in perfumes I knew I loved.  They weren’t the main feature but they added richness, elegance and heft.  Still, I was particularly unnerved by jasmine in a starring role and even more so by tuberose.  Oh tuberose.  We STILL aren’t friends (see Fracas by Robert Piguet), but I’ve started to realize how smart she is (See Tubereuse Criminelle by Serge Lutens…they’ll get me yet).

Anyway, later I bumped into an EdT of Joy by Patou at TJ Maxx and bought it for educational purposes, status (gross motivation, I know, but whatever), and the thought that Marilyn loved it which is usually enough for me.

Vintage Joy Ad

Upon removing the cellophane, Joy reached out of the bottle, slapped me across the face and said, “And you thought Songes was a white floral, you silly bitch.”  So I slapped a steak on my Joy-induced black eye, apologizing profusely for being such a rube and started to reexamine my indolic reluctance.

What was my damn problem?  People are trotting about in Fracas and Poison and I can’t handle a little fresh green jasmine?  People are raving about Carnal Flower and Creed Spring Flower and Chanel Gardenia and shit, even, Juicy Couture EdP and I’m running for the hills?  I told myself I may never love white flowers, but I’m never going to be a true student of perfume if I can’t at least go to their parties.

Then I had to chill out because we’re talking about a bottle of perfume, not the United Nations.

Then, flash forward many years to today when I decide I’m a little bored by my bottles and need a break from my current incense obsession and my old samples need some attention.  I grabbed a literal handful and sorted through until Songes peeked her pretty little head out and suggested that she might be appropriate for an important meeting day at work which today happens to be.

Reader, we fell in love.

This is one of the most beautiful perfumes I’ve ever had the pleasure of wearing.  Patient, too.  She knew I’d come around.  I got older. Songes has stayed the same age. Alright alright alright.

Let not my Matthew McConaughey reference lead you astray. This is a gorgeous, sophisticated and yet comforting scent. Maybe not downright cozy as it deserves a better outfit than pj’s, BUT there is a certain casual elegance to it. And yet you could wear it almost anywhere. Dinner, church, work, the theatah. It’s opera-worthy.  Ballgown appropriate.  I wouldn’t call it bridal because I’d rather catch of a whiff of it on the eldest bridesmaid (I am OFTEN the eldest bridesmaid) or even better, someone’s mysterious stunningly beautiful date.  “Who was THAT?!  And what perfume was she wearing?!” All perfume heads dream of the day their intoxicating scent will convey their inner depths as they breeze by.  But hey, if any perfume was going to do it, maybe this is the one!  I’m getting images of Grace Kelly on vacay.

The physical incarnation of Songes. I’m sure there’s a ballgown, tossed lovingly aside, just out of frame.

You don’t need a special event, however, to experience Songes.  Wear it when you need to be reminded there is beauty in this world.

Hyperbole?  Maybe, but then here’s the ad copy for Songes: A tender light, a sensual mystery… A midsummer night’s dream in lights. On the eve of an exotic night on the island of Mauritius, as darkness falls, walking in an exotic garden, Camille Goutal is taken by surprise by the spellbinding scent of frangipani at dusk when nature takes over the night. She could not overcome her desire to create a fragrance to immortalize this precious memory. Just as in a dream, the sensual petals of the Tiaré flower, Jasmine sambac and Ylang Ylang absolute,  blend against a dark background of balms and Bourbon Vanilla.

Unlike most perfume copy, damned if this one ain’t true.

Songes means “Dreams” in French.  Maybe my dislike of white flowers was just one long and bad one.  I’d come around before this, sure.  But today is the first time I consider it true love.

Songes (Annick Goutal).

5 Stars

(My sample is the EdT.  I’ve heard the EdP is heavier on the vanilla.)