Saturday, October 15, 2011


I long ago lost the war of reconciling the self-contradictory aspects of my life. I don't embrace them or wallow in them, but I do keep an eye on them, so to speak, to make sure they don't get the upper hand in my life. As part of this self-confessional blog, I am now going to reveal to the world two items that I have been consuming lately. I am neither ashamed nor proud of this consumption. I will leave it to others to interpret what this reveals about my personality.

Self-Indulgence No. 1:

I was in Paris last year in October and picked up a free sample of a new scent from Penhaligon's at their store on the Rue Saint-Honoré:  Sartorial, "The Scent of Savile Row".  I had smelled scents similar to this before, usually worn by bankers in bespoke suits on their way to work in the financial district.  It was one of the few male scents that impressed me.  The sample that I took back to my hotel in Paris was a strip of textile made to look like a shortened tailor's measuring tape that had been soaked in Sartorial.  I kept sniffing the strip over a period of days, and it kept going strong.  I finally broke down and bought a bottle before leaving Paris.

Since then I spent a fair bit of time reading up on scents in the internet.  The Penhaligon's description of Sartorial should give you a hint of the layers of complexity involved in an upscale scent, as opposed to the single-note scents that most males know.

Head Notes:

Aldehydes, Ozonic Effect, Metallic Effect, Violet Leaf, Neroli, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Fresh Ginger

Heart Notes:

Beeswax, Cyclamen, Linden Blossom, Lavender, Leather

Base Notes:

Gurgum Wood, Patchouli, Myrrh, Cedarwood, Tonka Bean, Oakmoss, White Musk, Honey Effect, Old Wood Effect, Vanilla, Amber

Sartorial is a contemporary interpretation of a classic Fougère; the traditional notes of oakmoss, tonka bean and lavender have been exquisitely stitched together with woods, ozonic and metallic effects, leather, violet leaf, honey and spices to create the perfect illusion of a tailor’s workroom. The modern thread running through Sartorial is beeswax; echoing the blocks of wax each thread is run across before stitching. This sweet smudged note ties together the more traditional elements; the oiled flash of shears cutting cloth, the rub of fabric beneath fingers, tobacco tinted cabinetry, puffs of chalk in the air and old paper patterns vanilla with age.

Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour

I can't pretend to identify even a fraction of the scents mentioned above, but I've been using Sartorial regularly this past year, at first only for going out, but lately, even if I'm just hanging around the apartment.  Just about everyone likes the scent on me.  (Alas, Frau Bloggerboy does not.  What to do?)  On top of that, I cannot really enjoy the scent myself while wearing it -- short of sniffing my writst or collar.  Silly boy, scents are for other people.  My rationalization for this self-indulgence:  I'll never be able to afford a bespoke suit; why not at least smell like someone who can?

Self-Indulgence No. 2:

This is a more recent indulgence.  Over the years, I've smoked an occasional cigar and am known to buy a box of cigarillos to smoke on vacation.  Back in high school and college, I flirted with pipe smoking, having grown up in a household with a pipe-smoking father.  I've never smoked regularly.  This past year, we were out with friends on a couple of occasions, and the men indulged in an after-dinner cigar al fresco, or, more decadently, during an evening of live jazz in a fancy bar that allowed cigar smoking.  After that, I began rewarding myself occasionally after a hard week of work with a cigar from one of the local stores with a walk-in humidor.  After trying several types of cigars, I found the John Aylesbury No. 1 "Churchill", aged three years, mild from beginning to end.  At EUR 12.50 a pop it is expensive but not outrageously-priced.  For an extra EUR 2.50 it comes in a cedarwood box that smells even better than the cigar. (Talk about a wonderful blend of scents!)

I guess I can use self-indulgence no. 1 to cover up the smell of self-indulgence no. 2.  That's symbiosis!