Happy National Fragrance Day

Once again, National Fragrance Day is here. March 21st was designated the day to celebrate fragrance. By whom, or why, I don’t know. But on National Fragrance Day, my scent today is vintage Ma Griffe by Carven.

Ma Griffe, 2013 version

Ma Griffe, 2013 version

Ma Griffe was introduced in 1946 by the fashion house of Carven, led by Marie-Louise Carven-Grog, a.k.a.Carmen de Tommaso. Ma Griffe has top notes of aldehydes, clary sage, galbanum, and bergamot, with middle notes of gardenia, jasmin, ylang-ylang, and rose. It’s rounded off with the spicier bottom notes of cinnamon, tonka bean, and vetiver.

Ma Griffe - a young perfume

Ma Griffe – a young perfume

Ma Griffe was the epitome of French fragrance in the Forties, Fifties, and Sixties. It was the signature fragrance of Judy Garland and Yoko Ono. It was introduced as a “young” fragrance – the kid sister of headier French aldehyde-based fragrances like Chanel No. 5 or Shocking by Schiaparelli. While Chanel and Schiaparelli wanted to seduce you – and the opposite sex – Ma Griffe was fresh and innocent, but no less sophisticated. Sadly, it seems to have fallen out of favor in the past thirty years or so, perhaps overshadowed by celebrity fragrances, or perfumes that smell like vanilla or musk or cotton candy. It has undergone several formulations as ownership of Carven changed hands, and certain ingredients were substituted or eliminated altogether. My vintage bottle was given to me by my aunt, who bought it in the early Sixties. She was an independent single gal working in New York City. I’m sure Ma Griffe appealed to her as an incredibly chic and sophisticated fragrance – the perfect choice for a young woman with a job and her own apartment whose career trajectory could only go up.

A 1972 ad for Ma Griffe appeals to the Liberated Woman, and apologizes for landing her a husband.

A 1972 ad for Ma Griffe appeals to the Liberated Woman, and apologizes for landing her a husband.

Ma Griffe was reintroduced in 2013 following the revival of the House of Carven in 2010 under designer Guillaume Henry. Its notes closely match those of the original formulation so happily, the true Ma Griffe still with us. So is Madame Carven herself, at 104 years old!

Madame Carven, a.k.a. Carmen de Tommaso, in the early Seventies

Madame Carven, a.k.a. Carmen de Tommaso, in the early Seventies

What fragrance are you wearing for National Fragrance Day?


The Three Graces


Living Grace ($15.00-$44.00) is the newest addition to Philosophy’s line of “Grace” perfumes. For years I’ve been wearing Amazing Grace and Pure Grace, though I’m not as fond of Baby Grace or their penultimate “Grace” fragrance, Summer Grace. According to Philosophy,

    living grace spray fragrance was formulated to help center a woman’s mood, is deeply sensuous, multi-sensory and truly a heavenly inspiration. living grace is an ethereal, clean fragrance of fresh neroli to create uplifting feelings of vibrancy, soft, clean lily of the valley brings a sense of gratitude and sensuous, warm musk embraces you to the beauty of living in the present moment each day.

Despite Philosophy’s description of the notes in Living Grace, I don’t get either neroli or lily of the valley when I spray it on (and lily of the valley is very distinctive – think Diorissimo by Dior). To me, Living Grace isn’t very floral at all. It smells very similar to Amazing Grace and Pure Grace, but with more of a “water” element, almost like Davidoff’s Cool Water. Whereas Pure Grace is advertised as being a “soap and water fragrance,” Living Grace is more water than soap. But when it dries down, I can get a hint of the warm musk that the description mentions. Living Grace has that same comforting allure that both Amazing Grace and Pure Grace have for me. To be honest, if I had to choose between Amazing Grace and Living Grace. I would have to choose Amazing Grace because Living Grace is very similar to it. But I do like it and I can happily add it to both Amazing Grace and Pure Grace to form my triumverate of fresh, comforting fragrances from Philosophy.

Happy National Fragrance Day

March 21st is National Fragrance Day. Today I’m wearing Sinner by Kat Von D.


What fragrance are you wearing today?

Words to Live By

This pops up whenever my favorite perfume website, Basenotes.net is having technical difficulties. Truly inspiring.

It’s National Fragrance Day


It’s National Fragrance Day. My fragrance of the day today was Diorissimo by Christian Dior.

What fragrance did you wear today?

Super Tonic

There’s something about niche beauty brands that really appeals to me. Sometimes it’s their funky or unique packaging design. Sometimes it’s their irreverent attitude. Whatever the case, I like to support small businesses.

This weekend I picked up a bottle of Smell Good Daily Tonic ($28) by West 3rd Brand. Judging by the brand name, I imagined them to have a little operation in the West Village of New York City, but they’re actually based in California. Always on the lookout for a new fragrance, I couldn’t resist these chunky bottles that screamed “TONIC!” in large letters. The old-school label reminds me of apothecary products from the 19th century. It doesn’t rely on funky Illustrator-generated graphics to get your attention. The antique typography letters tell you everything you need to know: that this is a tonic to help you smell good – daily! I chose the TONIC! in Violetta Novella. Violet was a popular fragrance in the 19th century, and on first spray I feared I would smell like someone’s grandmother, and indeed it dried down to a good-old-fashioned powdery violet. But sometimes you just have to let a classic fragrance bloom in its purest form. Since these tonics are called “body spray,” I was expecting a light, sheer fragrance, like a body mist. But these tonics definitely come on strong. They are more of a cologne than a body spray, and certainly live up to their name of Smell Good Daily.

Smell Good Daily Tonic is available in fourteen fragrances. West 3rd Brand also make candles, room sprays, and eaux de toilette. If you can’t find them in a store near you, you can order them from their website. While you’re there, check out their found objects collection!

Scents and Sinners

Pope Benedict XVI has commissioned an Italian perfumer to create a custom fragrance that only he alone may wear. Silvana Casoli, perfumer to celebrities such as Sting and Madonna, spent months in her laboratory creating her top-secret formula that is rumored to have notes of lime-wood, verbena, and grass to reflect the Pope’s love of nature.

It sounds very fresh, and something that women as well as men can wear. But for those of us who are less-than-holy, there are fragrances out there that contain some of the same notes as the Pope’s coloogne, including:

DKNY’s Pure Verbena ($45 for 1 oz) – a citrus green floral and verbena fragrance that isn’t overpowering.

4711 by Muelhens ($25), the 250-year-old classic fragrance for men (but often appropriated by women) with notes of lemon that, like Pope Benedict, is from Germany.

Tom Ford Private Collection Azure Lime ($195 for 50 ml), a citrusy blend of lime that dries down to a woodsy musk.