Perfume Pen Pals: Eris Parfums


Have you worn any of the Eris perfumes yet? It's the line created by Scent and Subversion author Barbara Herman with Antoine Lie. I got my samples and immediately put on Belle de Jour for no reason other than I’m compulsive and it’s the first sample my pudgy fingers pulled out of the bag.

Catherine Deneuve: will the real Belle de Jour stand up?

It’s...nice. I kept thinking these were a collision of feminine and masculine, old-fashioned and modern, and maybe the other two are, but not this one. This one is a soft, lovely feminine, with a little of that dog-whistle musk, definitely more modern, youthful and streamlined than some opulent Margaret Dumont perfume.

Groucho and Margaret D.

Belle de Jour is like a lot of modern perfumes in that it just finds its spot and settles in for eight hours, like a teenager at one of those horrible summer music festivals. Though it does smell better than that. But it’s a tiny bit boring.

I’m a little disappointed and yet I can’t quite explain why, because it’s very pretty and exactly the sort of thing I’d buy for my girlfriend. And she’d actually like. So right now I’ll say any disappointment I feel is more a matter of my own shortcomings and not those of the perfume.

And onto the second Eris: Night Flower. It has a similar effect as Note Vanillee, that dusty, boozy M. Micallef from years ago (I don’t know what the current incarnation smells like). It lists tuberose among its notes but I keep smelling vanilla (which, if you trust the notes, isn’t vanilla but tonka bean), coupled with a dry, spicy friction.

It’s perfectly balanced, it smells good, and yet I’m not blown away. I don’t know what will blow me away at this point, I feel like an old guy listening to a bunch of young indie bands and ruining things for everyone by pointing out how nothing they’re doing is new. So I think Night Flower is fine and if you haven’t tried as many perfumes as we have, it might even be great.

After my post-run shower, I put on the third Eris, Ma Bête, and this one is my favorite. But it’s also very familiar. At first it seems like an old-fashioned jasmine with a big animalic note, but it soon softens, and sweetens, and turns into something more modern. It’s just lovely. This is the one I would buy. Though it’s obviously too feminine for me to wear all that often.



Belle de Jour smells like a wooden wet wipe. A salty, wooden wet wipe.

Night Flower is doing a nice, spicy Play-Doh thing on me, triggering a distant memory of my mother's Coty Emeraude. I'm not getting the “tasty little cookie” of Note Vanillee -- this one is much drier.

Night Flower gets milkier and milkier the longer it's on, the same effect as Penhaligon's Amaranthine. Eventually the creamy tang subsides, and Night Flower dries down to one of those "sweet paper" vanilla notes, like Le Labo Vanille 44. I like this one.

Out of the three, Ma Bête is the vintage-iest. It references Bal à Versailles' thighs'n'jasmine twaaaaannnggg. On a long wearing, it develops, deepens and delivers, traveling from a trebly opening mush into an insinuating encounter in the stables.

There's a dusty puff of face-powder, a soft whinny of barn-trammeled hay. At the (horse) tail end, Ma Bête resolves into the smell of a brand new leather saddle. This is the most interesting one out of the three.



Ha, I was just looking up some early reviews for Eris and Ma Bête seems to be Angela’s least favorite on Now Smell This, and “the big totoro” on Fragrantica wrote:
“Starts out nicely like a cross between L'Ombre Fauve and Musc Tonkin, then something bad happens.... It morphs into a horse pasture saturated with urine. It made me sad.”
She isn’t wrong about the horse pasture and yet I don’t know why it makes her sad. It’s so much more compelling than the other two. Plus, where are the horses supposed to pee?



Ah! “the big totoro” has totally nailed Ma Bête with the comparison to Parfumerie Generale L'Ombre Fauve. But me, I don't see the pee. It's leather leather leather all the way into the golden sunset (not golden showers).

For jasmine with a capital P, I'd cite Patou Joy.


barn ladies photo by David Hamilton

Fumes in the News: What Stinks, Johnny Depp?

Johnny Depp: he who smelt it, dealt it.

Deep in the Mojave, Johnny Depp is rolling down his sleeves after fixing a flat on his Volvo 245 DL. Suddenly, a mephitic odor assails his handsome, kohl-rimmed nostrils.

What the...?”

Johnny's brow crumples into furrows, his mouth into a moue as he strains to identify the source of the stench.

Perfume Pen Pals: Le Labo Santal 33 and Diptyque Tam Dao


Have you ever gifted an expensive bottle of perfume to someone without knowing whether or not they’d like it? Which is yet another version of, “Are you sometimes stupid like I am?”

Beth is one of my only friends who loves perfume and despite that, she recently purchased a whole bottle of Le Labo Santal 33. Because she loves it. And as her friend, I should support her decision, there’s nothing riding on this, after all, it’s not like she’s joining a cult.

Comme des Garcons Floriental

For a brand known for its chic eccentricity, Comme des Garçons can also surprise by keeping surprises to a minimum. I refer specifically to CdG's perfumes that comprise a virtual forest, a world of woods which includes the Incense and Blue Series, along with Black, Serpentine, Laurel, Hinoki, 2 Man and Wonderwood. (Hmm, seems I was complaining of "wood fatigue" back in my 2010 review of Wonderwood.)

Viewer Mail: The Perfect Beach Perfume

Hi Katie,

I am looking for a summer perfume I can wear during the day. I'd like it to embody the beach where I spent my summer months growing up.

There's a shady dirt path that leads there, the dirt pounded smooth by decades of bare feet. There are roots to trip over if you don't know the geography, and lots of ivy. At the end of this path there's a heaping helping of dark pink rugosa rose (I call it beach rose), white and orange honeysuckle, and granite rocks to sit on that are bleached by the sun.