I'd seen bottles of Fame around for years but dismissed anything by Corday because A). Found the name offensive and B). Their best selling perfume in America had a unicorn on the box. I like to think I'm oblivious to absurd packaging (I've drank some cheap wine with naff labels in my life) but something about the unicorn struck me as a Renaissance Faire too far. Even if I could get past the Corday name, I couldn't abide the unicorn. Call me a snob (you won't be the first). You're judged by the company you keep, so poor Fame was stuck in the shadow of the unicorn.
When Bibi mentioned Fame de Corday in a comment, I thought it was time to give it a try. I mean, it has civet and iris-what's not to like? I ordered my decant, and started giving it some time on test paper, and my arm.
Specific anosmia is a fascinating thing. Sometimes, I simply can't smell jasmine, but the rest of a perfume will come through clearly. Sometimes, it shuts the whole operation down completely and I can't smell a thing. Then, there's the times I get an initial whiff of a fragrance and by the time it has a drydown, it is gone. This has been my experience with Fame de Corday. Since discovering my issue with jasmine, it has made sense of perfume difficulties that have plagued me for decades. Why does a perfume smell so nice in the store, but ten minutes later in the car I can't smell the test spray on my arm? Over the years I've attributed this to poor longevity, but it is only recently that I've come to understand it is my nose shutting down as soon as it gets the jasmine. Sometimes it is immediate, but often, as is the case with Fame, it takes a few minutes. This is good to know, preventing me from spraying on ever more of something I can't smell (but everyone in a 500 mile vicinity can).
I can tell you that the first few minutes of Fame de Corday were lovely, though the first ten seconds was a doozy. It isn't a listed note, and it might be something turning in my vintage decant, but I smelled camphor. Specifically, I smelled the ointment used to treat cold sores. That's not an altogether terrible smell, but it did catch me by surprise, though by the time it registered, it was gone. Next came the soft green florals, and a bit of spiciness. Lovely, really though I never did smell any civet or iris. By the time I walked from my perfume tray on my dresser to my bed (all of five paces) it was gone. Not faded, or changed, but gone. Undetectable. Disappeared. Zero notes whatsoever. Knowing better, I applied more anyway (fear not, Mr. ETB is so congested he couldn't smell a thing, which is good as I changed the linen today and sprayed the hell out of it with Laura Ashley No. 1 which I immediately regretted. I should stick to the lavender, I know). Once again, I caught the camphor, then some florals, then a bit of spice and then...right.
I wish I could tell you about the civet notes, or the jonquil and hyacinth but unfortunately they never revealed themselves to my nose. My sense from what I could smell is that this is a beautifully rich floral, but I suppose I'll never have the full Fame experience. I didn't even get fifteen seconds of Fame, much less fifteen minutes. I'm disappointed, but not shocked. Jasmine is difficult to avoid in perfume, but luckily it doesn't always behave the same with respect to my nose. Not all jasmine is created equal, and not all combinations are lethal to my sense of smell. It does give new meaning to Blind buy" as I have no way of knowing ahead of time if I will be able to smell something, but sometimes I can-and find some new gem in the process.
I won't be celebrating Bastille Day by pouring a dram of Fame de Corday into my bathwater, and I'm probably going to pass this along to Danny who is better able to enjoy it, but I don't regret purchasing the decant. I can chalk this up to another experience that tells me a bit more about my condition, and helps me better understand a lifetime of not quite experiencing fragrances to their full potential.
If you are looking for a vintage bottle of Fame de Corday, one of my favourite perfume dealers has a good deal on a partially used bottle that's still half full and in good condition HERE. I've made numerous purchases from Nine of Cups, and she doesn't sell poor quality fragrances. As a collector herself, she knows how to assess the quality of what she sells. I'm not being compensated in any way to say this, I'm just a happy customer and that's a great deal on over an ounce of vintage Fame de Corday.
My decant came from Surrender to Chance, where I also indulge my perfume
Danny wants me to repeat my Bastille Day sugar cookies to bring to the library volunteers on the 14th. They're a rather well-read bunch (mostly retired teachers) but I'm not so sure about a box filled with cookies depicting Marat bleeding to death in his bath. I might be safer bringing a tray of croissants.
Next up: The reformulated Jicky (Not terrible, and marginally easier to wear than the vintage). I have both the vintage and reformulation to try side by side. Thus far, the reformulation is winning me over. Yes, I am surprised. Pleasantly.