Oliver & Co. M.O.U.S.S.E



Katie,

My perfume arrived today from Oliver & Co., the one-man artisanal line from Spain with the perfume philosophy "All ingredients must be the best quality and everything must be done by hand." Which, coincidentally, matches my own life philosophy and so how could I resist?

I chose M.O.U.S.S.E, a crisp clove scent, and because it came just as I was departing for my run, I sprayed it on and took off. I must be the only person in the world testing perfumes under these demanding conditions. I'm like the perfume version of the Underwriters Laboratories. Except without an actual point.


I've found that while some scents quickly fade during runs, others seem to gain strength, and the ones that gain strength are almost always the ones you wish would fade. Life can be so antithetical.

M.O.U.S.S.E (I typed each of those periods by hand!) didn't fade and instead seemed to attach itself to my nasal passages. Ten minutes into my run, I was cursing myself for ever thinking a crisp clove scent was a good idea.

The clove is fine if you like clove (and I do), but it's attached to some smooth aldehydes and Iso E Super, which flattens the clove and makes it smell modern and streamlined, a more proper fragrance than one expects from a one-man artisanal line, but somehow too proper. The effect reminded me of what Heeley does with mint in Menthe Fraiche, another fragrance that's both odd and super-smooth.

My assessment isn't fair, of course, because it was warm and I was sweating and those aren't ideal conditions for judging a perfume. And then came one more element: I suddenly smelled smoke, looked up and saw Pier 29's roof engulfed in flames.

Pier 29's roof engulfed in flames.

And it smelled great! I smelled horribly, the burning pier smelled great, and so against my better instincts, I ran right at the burning pier. (When I start my own perfume blog, I plan to display the lowest rated perfumes next to a drawing of a man setting himself on fire.)


Crowds gathered, firefighters dramatically rushed up ladders, black smoke engulfed the area and all I could think about was how much better everything smelled now that I couldn't smell myself. I'm the opposite of Underwriters Laboratories: I'm in favor of fire!

I'm home now, I've showered and re-applied my M.O.U.S.S.E and I can't figure out what all the fuss was about. It's good: a clove cologne that's a little more conventional than I prefer, but on the whole pretty nice. I'm always making things more difficult than they need to be.

Dan



Photo via sfgate.com

39 comments:

  1. You're starting your own perfume blog?

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  2. I swear that was the only part of the note that wasn't true. That and me being in favor of fires.

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  3. I do believe you've set a new standard for perfume reviewing -- instead of mere "scrubbers" we now have "I'd rather set myself on fire than wear this another minute!"

    What should we call those . . . burners?

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    1. Burners...when scrubbing just isn't enough.

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  4. Byron..........June 21, 2012 3:11 PM

    Dan: You are wound up!!!~ That is flipping HHYYSTERICAL!!!~ Self-Immolation is right up there with auto-defenestration!!~ I can't stop laughing. Geez, I needed that!!!~ Have an ULTRA-GROOVY DAY!!!~

    Howdy Katie and Nathan!!! wwwwhhhhhhoooohhoooo!!!!~

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  5. I'm glad I tried this perfume before I read your review (which was hilarious, BTW). I really liked this clove-y delight. But how did he pack so much eugenol in there without freaking out the darlings at IFRA?

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    1. Maybe there's a clove-esque ingredient in there that pads out the eugenol that is not yet on the freak-out list? That's my best guess.

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    2. I think I might have an answer, Maria (which, yes, surprises even me). At this point, the IFRA restrictions are still only recommendations, and since M.O.U.S.S.E is a very limited edition, perhaps the perfumer didn't bother following them. Either that or what Katie said.

      There is a good dose of clove, isn't there? I couldn't help wondering what it would smell like if he didn't temper it with all that other stuff.

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    3. I may be mistaken, but aren't the IFRA restrictions more than just "recommendations" in the EU? Wouldn't a Spanish perfumer *have* to comply with them?

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    4. Yeah jic, I also thought the "recommendations" were accompanied by the hairy eyeball and menacing hand gestures. The indie perfumers I talk to in the UK abide by the recommendations, even if they're making bespoke scents for private clients. They don't want any blowback on them if the customer gets a rash, drops a dime on them and then it turns out there's too much of a restricted ingredient in the perfume. What happened to romance and rock'n'roll in perfumery?

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    5. jic, I've read that the IFRA restrictions are still just recommendations and are not EU law, though they could become law at some point. I think most perfumers have adjusted their formulas to conform, but as of yet there's no hard law that accompanies the restrictions.

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    6. I've looked into this a bit, and I can say with complete confidence that I'm...

      ... very confused. There's lots of stuff out there about the EU banning or severely restricting ingredients based in the IFRA restrictions, but very little to indicate what this is actually based on. Most of the actual EU regs I can find seem to be more about the labelling of allergens than actual bans. The only thing I can find about an actual EU ban on a material resulting from IFRA regulations seems to only involve musk xylene.

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    7. This Basenotes entry and especially the link attached within it do a good job of explaining. It seems that all IFRA members follow its guidelines as a matter of insurance against potential lawsuits from users who claim to have been harmed by their products. Everyone needs insurance, but no one can get insurance without IFRA compliance.

      http://bit.ly/LpGhDX (Basenotes is currently down, by the way)

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  6. Okay, I did misspell it, but when I googled "m.o.u.s.e. fragrance", I found ten sites for either Micky Mouse fragrance or Minnie Mouse fragrance. Who knew?

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    1. I'd done the same thing, Randy. And considering the price, I was impressed by the Disney packaging (http://pinterest.com/pin/155092780887785556/). That mouse formula must cost pennies.

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  7. And I suspect that mouse formula is only worth pennies, Dan. But my bigger concern is how that cute Minnie Mouse bottle would look sitting next to my Lubin Idole bottle?

    Still, the Oliver & Co MOUSSE intriges me, Dan, although I may be overly influenced by your fun description of the smoky, burning pier, because who isn't attracted to smoky scents, or a burning pier, for that matter. I'm just curious if I might like the tempered clove more than the full frontal clove present in some scents that can be too much, which is so often the case in full frontal, um, presentations.

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    1. Randy, There's some Demeter sitting next to my Lubin Idole bottle right now, so it couldn't look worse than that.

      M.O.U.S.S.E (I'm so tired of typing all those periods) is full frontal clove, but only in the early stages. It's a clove striptease in reverse. Which I suppose sounds better than an Iso E Super striptease, which it also is.

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  8. Yes, there are other clove-y elements for frags to use that don't wiolate IFWA, but who care a flibbitygibbet for IFWA?

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    1. I spend my flibbertigibbets carefully, so I don't have any spare for IFRA. Or IFWA.

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  9. When it comes to eugenol, is there any point looking further than Noir Epices? How do the two compare?

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    1. Anonymous, My experience with Noir Epices is limited to a couple scent strips at Barneys some time ago. But I'm guessing M.O.U.S.S.E doesn't approach its complexity. Maybe I'll go by Barneys on a run next week. (Though I'm not sure how I'll replicate the fire.)

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    2. Dan, I am intrigued by your extensive knowledge and love of perfume. I think it would be wonderful if men and women could feel comfortable interchanging male/female fragrances. I have applied men’s fragrances, specifically Grey Flannel and Obsession for Men, because I love to smell them, so why not wear them myself! However, I believe that men are probably a bit more apprehensive applying women’s fragrances, especially if they will be going out in public. I’m curious how you came to have such a hobby, and was there a time initially when you were uncomfortable wearing perfume? Monica Carapello

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  10. I test out my perfumes under the same conditions...I think the extremity is a good test for them. Taking a cue from you maybe I should include burning buildings and firemen crews in those runs. I'm motivated just thinking about it!
    Cheryl

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  11. Wow, Dan, how close did you get to the pier? My boyfriend was caught in traffic for over 2 hours driving from that area at the time of the fire. He could have used that clove perfume to help keep him from falling asleep during the long wait!

    -- AnneMarie

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    1. AnneMarie, I was right in front of the pier until the firefighters made me cross the street (I started to explain about my perfume but I thought it best to let them get to their work). And, yes, the traffic looked terrible. I ended up running home through North Beach just to avoid all the frustrated commuters.

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    2. I have been wondering about the IFRA rules, myself. If they're only recommendations, why does anybody follow them? I find it hard to forgive them for messing with the classics. Especially my beloved Shalimar.

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    3. Leigh, I'm certainly not the person to answer this, but I gather the IFRA has traditionally relied on its membership to follow its regulations, ostensibly for the benefit and safety of the public, but also so the EU doesn't get involved and turn these restrictions into law.

      I assume also, as Katie mentioned above, there's some legal risk in ignoring the IFRA restrictions after the organization has essentially declared certain ingredients harmful.

      But, again, I'm just a guy who occasionally reads stuff online. I'm sure someone else will provide more wisdom on the subject.

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    4. Leigh, there's also the conspiracy theory (this wouldn't be a true nerd cult without a conspiracy theory) that the big flavors and fragrances firms willingly self-regulate because they stand to gain when a restricted natural "needs" to be replaced by one of their synthetic dupes.

      Whatever the motivation, there seems to be more hysteria from IFRA surrounding perfume ingredients than is justified by the odd rash. Anyone who uses a cosmetic or a shampoo or a lotion and experiences a skin reaction has the common sense to stop using it and to switch to another product. I'm sure perfume users would employ the same can-do resourcefulness.

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  12. As well as the legal aspect of not being sued, it's also equally likely that the level of information needed and the nature of that information needed to prevent that, to be put on the packaging if a perfumer goes above the guidelines would be 1, a lot, 2, of a nature that it would stop people buying the product, because eugenol in a higher concentrations has a lot of toxic properties. I don't know if IFRA provides guidance as to what warning labelling a manufacturer would need to provide if they take their product above the recommended levels, and at what levels it requires what warnings, or whether it acts in a way that assumes everyone is going to fall in line with themselves. I would assume that when you go over the 0.5% level, you at least need skin irritation and allergic reaction warnings to be legally covered, or even a warning not to use on the skin, in order to cover yourself. I also know at higher levels (beyond any perfumery use) you also need warnings re swallowing and respiratory function. But I'm not sure of the levels between. I think a graded warning system of allergenic risk (red, amber, green) would be better for IFRA to develop, so that we can get back to the good ol' capitalist way of "you pays your money, you takes your choice."

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    1. Correction: the 'toxic' above should have read 'hazardous.'

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  13. I don't understand all the concern about IFRA warnings? I know I would be willing to wear a Hazmat suit if the perfume was good enough. That might even prove handy if I had to run into a fire to get rid of a "burner".

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  14. Hilarious- started off as another innocent review, obligatory photo of fragrance of topic, but scroll down ...to mayhem and chaos! Love it, thanks!

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    1. Starts off innocently, ends in mayhem and chaos: the story of Dan's life.

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  15. Dear Dan-

    I want to thank you for inspiring me to get out and go for a run over the weekend ( had been weeks since I ventured out in this heat)...I swear this post was just the inspiration I needed...Mine was a lot less eventful than yours, but, following your lead, I also doused myself with one of my latest sample acquisitions to experience it "au naturel"...You bring all kinds of inspiration through your writing!!Thanks!

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  16. Dear Katie,
    did you know that nutmeg in high quantity may endanger our lives? I didn't. Did you know that nutmeg contains the same chemicals people use to kill rats?
    The word is STRYCHNINE... Now I know and I still love it...go figure...
    I once bathed in cinnamon oil because I did not know it BURNS the skin very badly... I love the smell...so why not?
    So I take it IFRA knows other dummies like me who either does not bother to read labels or is to stubborn and try it anyways... we blondes need to be protected LOLOLOLOLOLOL

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    1. Yeah, Mother Nature can pack a deadly punch. I didn't know the nutmeg factoid, but like most of these lurking menaces, we'd never ingest/smear on enough of the stuff to hurt ourselves. Hopefully. (Just now thinking back to Elizabethan era lead-based face paint....)

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  17. mentioning English people...did you know that the Madhatter was actually created inspired by real fact that that hate makers inhaled too much mercury?

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    1. Ah yes! I had heard that one about the Mad Hatter. And what about religious visions and crazy dancing in Medieval days triggered by poisoning from fungus in bread?

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