October 4, 2007
Perfume Layering in October
Lately I find I am increasingly drawn to this practice. Combining and setting beside one another two fragrances, can for me,express much more closely my aims in personal experience of perfume. There are also (more rare, it seems so transgressive!) occasions where I might actually put one on top of the other.
There are certain very beautiful perfumes, that have a particularly strong reaction to my skin chemistry, which I love in theory, but find in practice take on a very high keyed sweetness on my skin. (I am thinking of certain Caron perfumes, for example). If I also wear another scent with them, in a related or blending family, the result is a toned version that for me enhances wear-ability and gives a dimensional and spacious effect that I enjoy. I have tried Etro's Ambra beside Caron's Fleur de Rocaille EdT. The mellowing affect of the Ambra turns the sharp sweetness of the Caron into an subtly caramelized deeper tone, without losing the uplift of the Caron.
Another I have enjoyed is Le Labo Iris 39 on one arm and Comptoir Sud Pacifique - Vetiver Haiti on the other -- a more extreme version of layering. The powdery sweetness of the Iris then wafts up beside the almost burnt quality of the Vetiver and becomes for me much closer to what I want in fragrance at the present moment, which is getting to be more autumnal every day.
This is also a fun and useful way to deal with the immense quantities of tiny samples and small decants that I have accumulated. Some I have tried but found not all that compelling on me, but if I use them in certain layering combinations, I can put them together to make a scent experience I find very satisfying.
It's a good use for all those samples that I might not find exactly to my taste otherwise, while also a enjoying the unique quality of the results. I find it a personally meaningful creative expression, similar to putting together what I am wearing any particular day, from the lingerie to makeup, putting together shoes with jewelery and hair style. Layering can even relate to the fantasy of self-presentation within an ideal world of infinite choices.
Yesterday I tried Miller Harris Cuir d'Oranger, layered with Ava Luxe Fire Wood.If I put one on the arms and another on the neck, the dimensional, spacial quality this gives allows for appreciation of each one separately but also acts over the course of the day to create a combination of tones. After an hour or two, the close proximity increases the blending of the impressions.
Right now I like to try Vetiver, Vanilla or Sandalwood, Amber, Patchouli, or some other wood or resinous notes, to tone the unalloyed sweetness of certain scents that have many other qualities I am really drawn to, but find difficult to wear. The tiniest hit of Caron Poivre will also do the the trick with many sweet florals or high keyed citrus tones.
This is also a solution when sometimes I find certain fragrances that I loved six months ago no longer work for me at the present moment. Rather than let them lie fallow for months until I can re-infatuate myself with them, I can use them in memory laden layering combinations.
I'm glad that there are lines that really look to work with layering, as does Jo Malone, L'Artisan and Etro. After reading up on some reviews, I am now avid to get hold of Molinard's Vanille as a good layering element for the coming cooler weather.
Ambers and jasmines are both great layering notes. They tone and unify other perfumes and soften the edges that might be poking your nose in a way that doesn't completely agree with you. I found a a jasmine concrete -- an almost tarry salve of deep jasmine I got from Enfleurage on Bleecker Street, N.Y., awhile ago, magnifies and beautifies many other perfumes worn on top of it.
Above, amber toned perfume flacon from Andzia's Amber blog.