Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Amouage Bracken Woman-Review

I won't be the first to review Amouage Bracken Woman with an equal measure of enchantment and sickness. This is a perfume that shifts between extremes, and continues to do so over the course of several hours. There's a lot to sort through in that time.

Some fragrances are simple to describe by their notes. A few dabs on pulse points and in a couple hours you've worked through opening to end. Sure, not everything is that linear but typically there's a predictability in how those notes emerge. A few wearings later, a "Yes or No" emerges, and that's that. Bracken isn't like that. Bracken emerges like the first fiddleheads of spring pushing through the late winter mud when everything else is still struggling to wake. A blast of green breaking the matted straw of last autumn's wheat coloured ground cover. But not any old green. Not any old fern. It would be a mistake to assume Bracken is some sort of fougere you can lump together with a generic label of, "Green notes." This fern isn't bright or bracing but rather herbal, sometimes medicinal, and sometimes like the measuring cup of water holding a bunch of asparagus. It smells more asparagus fern than asparagus, but it also smells of the salinated sandy dirt it was grown in. Then, it buggers off for a bit and you catch a nice berry note before it returns with some lily and narcisus and tries to kill you. Some people get "Romantic walk in the woods" from this part of the Bracken experience-I get the opening credits of a sci-fi movie. That isn't a bad thing.

At some point in the Bracken Experience (like the Jimi Hendrix Experience with less feedback and more patchouli) it goes 60's. I think it is the chamomile more than the patchouli, but really, who knows. My experience of the 60's largely consisted of learning to read, gluing pieces of tissue paper to construction paper, and Flintstones chewable vitamins which were a brand new thing and probably the closest anyone in our family got to candy. The 60's to my mind smells like rubber cement and iron fortification. Anyway, there's enough leather and vetiver in there to satisfy any filthy hippie worth the title. It isn't constant though, and the leather is subtle, sort of damp like it was caught in a cold March rain that could snow if it wanted to. Then, our friend Fern returns. My mum had a friend named Fern. I don't think Fern would have fancied Bracken Woman as she always smelled of Lysol. Bracken is anything but clean.

When we lived on the farm we'd get to this point in the year (March) and with any luck the snow would be mostly gone and the mud would soften into the sort of stickiness I can only liken to being caught on a glue trap. More than once, my husband went to take the trash to the pit and would lose a boot on the way back-unable to pry it from the muck. Oh, he'd retrieve it eventually, but that clay-heavy mud was something else. It had a different smell when wet or dry. It was almost powdery when it would dry enough to chisel it off your shoes, but wet it smelled of everything from decaying vegetation to a pottery class. Combined with the mouldy, bitter smell of damp hay in the barn, it shifted between, "Ahhh, springtime" and, "Oh god, what died?" The snow geese would be migrating through about this time, settled in for the evening in the wetlands that surrounded the farm. The smells, the noise, the mud-a glorious rebirth that only lasted a day or two before the flies arrived. Bracken...smells like the day before the flies. And it is a lovely day. 24 hours later your sci-fi movie will take a decidedly horror-bent turn, but while it lasts...and the berries are so nice.

I would have liked Bracken to have a bit more of the birch note. I know it can be an overwhelming note and the use here is quite restrained, but I do like the smell of damp bark, and I'm a little sorry there isn't more of it.

I hate to keep banging on about the berries, but they are strange here. Sweet, but not too, tart but never veering into raspberry. Mulberry? Something dull between blackcurrant and blackberry? No idea. I am terrible at nailing down berry notes, but it keeps returning, sometimes only a whiff and my brain thinks, "Wow, that's nice" and I go to sniff again and it is gone. "Ha! Take that perfume lover."

Narcissus makes me sneeze. So many fragrances I would have loved to wear leave me with watery eyes, a running nose and a hacking cough. I like the smell of narcissus, but it has to be a pretty special perfume to suffer through what it does to me. I am pleased to report no such trouble from the narcissus in Bracken Woman. I almost wish it had made me sneeze because at $300 bucks a bottle, I'm going to be going in deep to smell like I've been out photographing snow geese in the March mud of Nebraska. The generously gifted sample bottle (thanks, Emily!) will last a good long while as this stuff is a powerhouse that requires but a small drop, but yeah, I see a full bottle in my future. Obviously I haven't tried it in warm weather, but I would think it would be suffocating in the heat and humidity. I could be wrong-sometimes fragrances surprise me.

Notes according to Fragrantica:
Fern, chamomile, berries, narcissus, birch, lily, leather, vetiver, and patchouli.

What I smell:
Biker caught in the rain, Nebraska clay/mud, fiddleheads, pottery class, unseasonably warm but rainy spring days when you open the kitchen door to let in the smell of rain but immediately regret it when two hours later everything on the clothes drying rack smells like a field mouse died behind the fridge.  And some berries😁. Something mushroomy. Dirt. wooden canoes. You get the idea.

I understand this review isn't exactly selling Bracken Woman, and honestly-it is a tough sell. I would advise getting a sample or decant before investing in a bottle, but I'd also encourage you to wait it through to the end without scrubbing. It changes and shifts so much through the (very long) wear that you might miss out on something you adore because you were retching into a wastebin. I mean, come on, what's a little puke in the face of magical perfumery?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Come For the Clothes, Stay For the Whinging

This isn't a sexy, play-with-my-hair pose, I just have a stabbing pain at the back of my head😘.

 But hey, I do what I can. We've had a hectic, mixed-up week around here (that's a grand understatement-stress much?!), but I still managed to get dressed. Can't say I didn't accomplish anything! My foot continues to heal, and hopefully by the time we go on holiday in April I will be able to manage without the funny shoe. I probably won't be back into heels, but anything would have to look better than this.
Right, complaining won't change anything, so on to the clothes.
I purchased this vintage skirt last summer from an online seller. It was described as a 50's skirt, but I'm pretty sure it isn't. The metal zipper doesn't seem to be original, and I think that's what threw her. I know when I replace a zip I use whatever I have in the correct size-sometimes plastic, sometimes metal. Anyway, this is probably 70's or 80's but I love the colours and print, so no harm done. It wasn't expensive-around $15.00 if I remember correctly. Today's lesson? It takes more than a zipper to accurately date a piece of vintage.
Outfit Particulars:
Vintage jacket (part of a suit)-Long gone vintage shop in Brookline, Mass
Bangles-all over
Celluloid brooch-Etsy
Cowboy Boot (s)-K Mart
Vintage handbag-New Life Thrift
Vintage tooled belt-Thrift World
Fragrance-none this week as Danny has been asthmatic and although perfume has never triggered an attack, why risk it?

 This puppy basket is going to hold my pastry brushes in the kitchen. It is a bit too small to turn into a purse.
Someone got shark socks! I bought some as well.
 These are supposed to be cigarette trousers. I bought them far too big but the thing is...they're so much more comfortable this way. Yeah, they look like something my granny would have worn...maybe she knew something. Anyway, I bought another pair in beige and I think I'll keep them. I'm really not a trouser wearing sort of person, but these are like pulling on a pair of sweatpants.
 The Marimekko top sees another year.
 My hair is in desperate need of cutting, but I haven't had time. I've owned this barrette forever.
 The hair bow was my mum's. It looks better clipped to a bag than in my hair. I'm wearing shark socks if you look carefully.
BIG earrings.
Outfit Particulars:
Trousers-K Mart
Marimekko top-Target
Silver bangle-Goodwill
Shark socks-K Mart
Straw bag-Goodwill

I have a new glass kettle in my life. It won't look this sparkly for long. 
 Another skirt I'd forgotten about, rediscovered when I cleared-out my clothes last week. The elastic needs replacing, and it is super-lightweight. Will probably be better in summer with a peasant top, but I was eager to try it out now.
The print looks Mexican, but it is fast fashion made in China. A genuine vintage skirt like this would be very costly.

Outfit Particulars:
Skirt-no idea
Top-K Mart
Belt-came with a cardigan
Tights-K Mart
Enid Collins bag-antique mall
Floral brooch-Tiff and Tam
Bakelite bangles-all over

I'm late to the Korean skincare fad, but at $2.00 for 60 face wipes, these were a good introduction. They do a decent job removing eye makeup, but if you're wearing liner and mascara it will probably require two wipes to get it all off. I bought these for travel, and I must say I'm happy with them. Big Lots carries the entire line in different formulations. 

 Speaking of eyeliner... I've been experimenting with white liner on the upper lid. I can't quite get past the feeling that it looks like I used Liquid Paper as makeup.
It does open up my eyes quite a bit. I also bought some liner in a pale pink-that ought to be interesting in a bunny rabbit sort of way.
Time for a Spring dress even if the weather isn't playing along. We're having thunderstorms at the moment, complete with hail. I had to take Danny to a medical appointment this morning and it was a challenging drive! We don't get that much rain here-at least not in downpours, and I had forgotten how tricky it can be when you hit standing water on the roadway. I do wish people would just slow down and pay attention, but maybe that's asking too much. Self driving cars cannot get here soon enough for me!
Outfit Particulars:
1970's polyester maxi-Salvation Army store
Enid Collins handbag-Antique shop
Jade bracelet-Goodwill
Seashell earrings-Goodwill

Have you seen this alternative to plastic Easter grass? If nothing else, it will be easier to clean up if no one eats it.

 The Misty Harbor raincoat is getting plenty of use. This might be the hardest working item in my wardrobe.
 This dress defies photography. It is a beautiful silky, shirtdress, but you'd never know it from the photos. Ah well, use your imagination.
Outfit Particulars:
1980's Leslie Fay shirt dress-Goodwill
Misty Harbor raincoat-Etc Cetera, Seward
Brooches-both Goodwill
Earrings-New Life Thrift
Liberty scarf-Goodwill

And that's about it. Whew, what a crazy week. Next week doesn't look much better, but at least I have interesting clothes to keep me distracted. I wish someone could hit me over the head with a coconut and knock me out because that's about the only way I'm going to get any sleep.

Hey life,
Have a great weekend!

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Spring in the Air...if Not in My Step

March in the American Midwest is unpredictable. One day we have an ice storm, the next it is 60 degrees. I know enough to keep out my warm coats (until June, realistically) but I've been slowly shifting everything else to warmer temperatures. 

Thank you to everyone for offering your thoughts on having my spine fused. I'm not in a hurry to do it, but it is helpful to hear accounts that have gone well, and not so well. 

Anyway, onto the clothes-get comfortable, I have some proper outfits to show for a change. 
I loved the colour of this suit-an almost neon orange/red. Alas, the cut was frumpy, so I have already moved it along. That will be the case with most of the outfits I show this week. 

Outfit Particulars:
1980's Made in Hong Kong linen suit-Goodwill
1970's cotton knit sweater-Hand-Me-Ups
Poodle Pins (on sweater)-Hand-me-Ups
Floral pin on jacket-Tiff and Tam
Bakelite and cinnabar bangles-all over
Vintage Johanssen handbag-Hand-Me-Ups
Earrings-New Life Thrift

So that was a warm, sunny day. Being Omaha, it didn't last.
 Break out the vintage knits, if you have 'em. Oh, I have 'em all right...
1960's knit pencil skirt and matching sweater, both Crown Colony of Hong Kong and purchased in two different shops in Omaha within a few weeks of each other. I am positive they are a set. Must have cleared out granny's house and dumped the stuff in various thrifts around the city. 
 Would you look at the size of this bangle?! It is super-heavy-I could probably use it for a weapon, in a pinch.
Outfit Particulars:
60's skirt and top-Goodwill and Hand-Me-Ups
Wool Fair Isle knee socks-K Mart a few years ago
Telephone cord handbag-Etsyt
1940's swing coat-Hand-Me-Ups
Brooch on sweater-Goodwill
Earrings-Thrift World
Fragrance-Lentheric Tweed

Then, the sun came back (starting to see a pattern here?)
 This wild 90's silk suit has been languishing in my cupboard unworn. Sometimes the skirt would get an outing but generally it was ignored. I gave it one last wear before moving it along to a better home. As it felt too fancy for my tastes, I pinned back the asymmetrical closure with several floral pins, and added a Lynda Barry tee shirt from the 80's for fun.

 He's small, he's black, he's mad as hell. You'll never call him Fi Fi again!
Outfit Particulars:
Early 90's silk suit-can't remember
Lynda Barry shirt for the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago-bought it in the gift shop in the 80's
Floral pins-Tiff and Tam
Zipper earrings-K Mart
40's choker-Thrift World
80's Angela Frascone handbag-Goodwill
Teal bangles-all over
Fragrance-Ombre Rose

I had a serious clear out of clothes this week. Multiply this picture by four. It had to be done. 
 Once I'd gone through everything, I discovered clothes I'd completely forgotten about-woo hoo, new wardrobe!
 Oh, and the sun came out again, so yay!
 My "cabbage necklace."
Outfit Particulars:
80's silk skirt-Goodwill
St. John short-sleeved sweater-Goodwill
Vintage jacket-No idea. I don't even remember buying it. 
Necklace-New Life Thrift
Vintage crystal clip earrings-Goodwill
Vintage handbag-New Life Thrift
Fragrance-Amouage Bracken Woman (review soon-spoiler, LOVE it)

Didn't photograph the outfit, but look at how well my brooch and necklace match. How's that for one-in-a-million?

Finally, it had been too long since the Fart Blaster had been seen (and heard) in public. 
 You get some strange looks walking about with something labelled, "Mama's Fart Blaster." Oh, who am I kidding? I don't need a fart blaster to get strange looks!
 Re-discovered this sequin-lined shirt in the clear-out.
 ...and such a stylish orthopaedic shoe.
Outfit Particulars:
Parachute material skirt-Goodwill
Sequin top-no idea
Jacket-part of a 70's suit
belt-came with a cardigan
brooch on shirt-can't remember
Vintage handbag-Goodwill
Silver bangle-Goodwill
Silver link bracelet-Hand-Me-Ups
Fragrance-Rive Gauche

So there you have it, our up and down weather depicted in wardrobe changes. Wonder what else I'll find as I excavate the packed away clothes? I really hate this time of year-it is almost like I forgot how to dress myself as I need to adapt to the changing weather. Anyhoo, good to clear out the less than favourite stuff so I can bring in new...

Monday, March 05, 2018

It Wasn't A Shin-Kicking Contest, I'll Tells You That

 Week ago Sunday morning, I was all dressed to go out when I stubbed my toes on the half-opened bedroom door. That's the second time I've done that in the last six months. When I broke my big toe, I remembered thinking it was lucky I didn't break the smaller ones. Well...yeah. 
Should be about 6-8 weeks until it is healed. I can walk on it, but I can't run😦. I'm headed out of town in April so hopefully it will be doing better. Luckily it is the left foot, so I can still drive. 

 If I can't run in the evenings, might as well get into my nifty, vintage robe and shop on the internet, as you do.
I can't remember where I found the robe, but it has a front, metal zip and the material almost feels like a crinkly taffeta. I love the flower-power watercolour print, and the colours are just so cheerful. It almost makes me forget I ran into a door.
Finally, an outfit to talk about! The jacket is made from a wonderful printed cotton, embellished with gold beads. It has giant shoulder pads, a cropped length and undoubtedly hails from the 80's. It doesn't show well in the photo, but there is gold paint throughout making it a surprisingly sparkly piece. I don't wear the jacket often for fear of ruining it, but I always enjoy the times I do take it out for fresh air. You'll have to trust me that it looks better in person.
The light wasn't better in the kitchen.

Outfit Particulars:
1980's embellished jacket-Can't remember
1970's skirt-Thrift World
Vintage brooch-Hand-Me-Ups
Vintage telephone cord handbag-Etsy
Marbled Bakelite bangle-Hand-Me-Ups
Fragrance-Ma Griffe

This candy-wrapper handbag was a recent purchase
 I think that was a good deal.
Most of the time purses cost a bit more, even at Goodwill.
It was windy Monday! The skirt is embroidered with a gold thread, and has silver sequins to look like mirrors. It is only decorated on the front (annoying!) but it is fun to wear as you can't help but feel cheerful in that much sparkle!

Outfit Particulars:
Earrings-K Mart
Orthopaedic shoe-Urgent care at 132nd and Maple😬I don't know what it cost yet, but I'm guessing it will be a LOT. I picked up a second shoe in black (Fashion!) at the pharmacy so now I can match my injured foot to my outfit. Don't judge.
Before my mishap, I wore this teal dress with a teal blazer that were a perfect match. That doesn't happen often, at least not with teal. Alas, I spent the day adjusting the dress and ultimately decided it wasn't worth it, so it was donated where hopefully someone with a smaller bust will find it to enjoy. I just can't do wrap dresses/blouses anymore. 

 Hopefully we're done with the need for winter boots this year *Fingers crossed*.
 A goddess of Victory brooch carved from jet. Probably pre-WWI but possibly later done in an earlier style.
 Brass bangle on top, painted wood on the bottom.
 Some vintage earring goodness.
Outfit Particulars:
Teal 80's dress-Goodwill
90's jacket-Goodwill
Vintage Snowland boots-Goodwill
Bangles-both Goodwill
Vintage 40's handbag-New Life Thrift
Belt-Thrift World
Fragrance-Vintage Miss Dior (I get it, or at least understand why people like it but I feel like a socialite on the way to a luncheon when I wear other words, not me).

Speaking of antique brooches, this Edwardian sash pin is an interesting piece. The paste stone is a deep amethyst colour which doesn't show well in the photos. It is a gigantic piece, and I haven't worn it yet as it needed a bit of airing out after it arrived. Old metal can pick up odours and this one really did. It smelled of dill, actually. Anyway, it is fine now but I haven't worn it as the only Edwardian style dress I own where I could pin it on a sash in a lightweight cream coloured piece. Guess I'll have to wait until warmer weather.
 No idea what the rust staining is. Might have been an old paper label affixed that left residue.

Just get the hell off of my lawn, you damn kids.
 Tilting worse than usual here thanks to the uneven height of my shoes. I did recently find out my spine and hip can be corrected, even at this late age. As I've aged, the scoliosis I've had from childhood has worsened and obviously, you can see how I tilt, and if you were to view me from the side there's a dramatic hump on my back. Were it purely cosmetic, I wouldn't bother but it is now starting to impair my breathing and cause worse pain than I'd adjusted to living with over the years. Anyway, my understanding is they essentially take apart your spine like Leggos, fuse it and put you back together-or something like that. I'm at the perfect age to have it done-young enough that it would be worth the risk, and hopefully be able to recover easier. If I wait too much longer, it might be harder to do the rehabilitation afterward. Anyway, that's something we've been talking about here, as it would greatly improve my quality of life. Aside from the bashed toes, I'm probably in the best physical condition of my life from all the running. I knew all that cardio would pay off! If anyone has had this done, I'd love to hear about it if you feel like sharing your experiences.

Outfit Particulars:
Not seen-Peacock print dress-Goodwill
Vintage 60's coat-Thrift World
Glentex scarf-borrowed from Danny's collection
Vintage handbag-Can't remember
Bangles-all over
Brooches-thrifted at two different Goodwills
This is a case where the perfume is significantly different from the toilette. It is wonderfully green and full of aldehydes, and hyacinths. There's lily of the valley, carnations, lilacs, amber...spring in a bottle. The toilette never impressed me-I always thought it smelled like a generic late 60's fragrance, but the perfume is something else. If you can get your hands on a bottle of this, do it (and send it to me😀).

And that's about it. With the spring weather comes the allergy-induced asthma and I curse the maple tree behind the house every time Danny starts coughing. We're giving the home nebuliser a good workout, that's for sure. My project this week is hiring a pet-sitter for Xerox and Shitty. Plenty of people out there for dogs and cats but we just don't have that many people that know about birds. We'll find soimeone-I'm not taking a budgie and a goldfish on a road trip!

Hope you have a great week. Look out for doors!