Shivers of Pleasure: The One That Makes You Wonder: "How??"

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
For me, it's got to be vintage Eau de Guerlain (early 2000s formulation). The current formulation is still excellent, but the vintage is out of this world. Smelling the vintage is like reading the original edition of a book, handwritten in cursive with a plume pen by the author, whereas the new one is like the Kindle, abridged edition.

It's an olfactory kaleidoscope of textures, flavors, emotions and layers. It's like a time-machine into the past, but it's also timeless. More importantly, it just hits that spot.

I've spent a long time now, trying everything I could put my nose to, and there is very, very little that compares from the 21st century. The quality of materials, the depth, the structure, the blending, the artistry, the heritage... It doesn't rely heavily on life-prolonging synthetics, or have nuclear sillage. It doesn't shout for attention. But maybe that's why it feels so pure. The opening notes of invigorating citrus, caraway and mint are what you would expect from the Lothlorien forest in the spring, while the basenotes feel like a distant symphony heard in a dream where everything is in its place. You'll have to excuse the inevitable hyperbole.

If there were a song that hits the same spot as Eau de Guerlain for me, it would be Radiohead's Nude, with its arresting falsetto climax at the 3:00 mark.

Will modern frag-bros and young perfumistas feel the same way about it? Definitely not.

I've had a few holy grails over the years though, and some runner-ups would be vintage 3e Homme and vintage Yohji Homme.

What's the best thing you've ever put your nose to, that made you shiver with pleasure, and wonder how in the world something could be so good?
 
Jul 14, 2017
Sycomore rings every bell I have. When I first smelled it at the Chanel boutique, there was no question I had to have it—I didn’t even shudder about the price. It’s warm, and dark, and is one of those scents that seems to rise and fall throughout the wearing. Each time it reappears, it fills me with delight. A whiff of cigarette tobacco to begin, then glorious, dry vetiver mingled with cypress and sandalwood. I’m careful to apply sparingly and keep it close—for my own selfish pleasure. I have the edt, and thinking about the end of the bottle fills me with actual grief…
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
Sycomore rings every bell I have. When I first smelled it at the Chanel boutique, there was no question I had to have it—I didn’t even shudder about the price. It’s warm, and dark, and is one of those scents that seems to rise and fall throughout the wearing. Each time it reappears, it fills me with delight. A whiff of cigarette tobacco to begin, then glorious, dry vetiver mingled with cypress and sandalwood. I’m careful to apply sparingly and keep it close—for my own selfish pleasure. I have the edt, and thinking about the end of the bottle fills me with actual grief…
Oof, that's the unicorn of unicorns. IIRC, Luca Turin also uses the expression "shivers of pleasure" in his review of Sycomore EdT in the 2008 Edition of The Guide. Enjoy it to the last drop!
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
Mitsouko. Every single time I smell it. And, infuriatingly given the tacky bottle and absurd price, Roja’s Diaghilev.
Mitsouko and me never quite clicked, but I've had many flings with it over the years. It truly is magical and unforgettable. I used to live in rural Japan, surrounded by dark, mossy forests and Shinto shrines. How Jacques Guerlain managed to capture that feeling of a Japanese forest and incense, but do it with French chic and panache, in 1919, just blows my mind.
 

FiveoaksBouquet

Known to SAs
Basenotes Plus
Jul 16, 2004
I also feel grief, over the loss of the original Nina by Nina Ricci, from 1987. It was like an olfactory kaleidoscope of coloured gems, perpetual motion of notes of every kind, a non-sweet aldehysdic floral with green top notes and woody-ambery base notes. I never smelled anything else like it. It was commissioned by Robert Ricci in honour of his mother, Nina, and he insisted on the finest ingredients. The nose was Christian Vacchiano and Nina is his only listed perfume I could find. The suits at Nina Ricci were against this perfume because they claimed the ingredients were too costly but Robert Ricci persisted in having it. Right after Robert Ricci died, Nina was discontinued.
 
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Toxicon

Basenotes Dependent
May 29, 2021
What's the best thing you've ever put your nose to, that made you shiver with pleasure, and wonder how in the world something could be so good?
I had this experience recently when I was gifted a sample of Fille en Aiguilles. It wasn't something I was questing for, and I only glanced at the notes before blindly applying. Phenomenal rendition of resinous balsam fir - there's a rich Christmas quality to the composition, but it's so gorgeous I could wear it any time... If only it wasn't impossible to find and unbelievably expensive.

Separately - it doesn't happen every time, but Fahrenheit sometimes leaps out as the most insanely inventive and contradictory thing I've smelled, despite feeling intimately familiar through constant exposure over the years. This one feels drastically different depending on weather and mood, though.
 

mr. reasonable

Basenotes Dependent
Jan 1, 2009
Totally with you on Eau de Guerlain, esp. earlier iterations :) Sous le Vent & Philtre d'Amour form a sort of olfactory triangle with Eau de Guerlain for me, actually - there are overlaps. Eau de Patou from the 80's also has a similar effect for me as EDG.

I think the first time I experienced L'Heure Bleue would qualify as the 'moment that changed things' for me when it comes to perfume as a whole. It was like the first time I heard Debussy . . . I was transported. I have bought a few versions over the years but, again, the older stuff has the real magic.

A couple of others would be Une Fleur de Cassie and Auphorie's original Miyako EDT (before success went to their head . . .)
 

donna255

Basenotes Institution
Jul 16, 2004
Mitsouko, I was shocked when I realized, so many could not wear her. For me, she was the warm hug when I felt down from the first sniff years ago.

Strangely, Shalimar Parfum Initial, I just feel so happy when I wear it.
 

slpfrsly

Physician, heal thyself
Basenotes Plus
Apr 1, 2019
What's the best thing you've ever put your nose to, that made you shiver with pleasure, and wonder how in the world something could be so good?
I can't say perfume creates that kind of reaction but I think I know what you mean. There are some fragrances that can make you stop and sniff. Real scents are superior to perfumes, it should be said, and nothing can really compare to the real thing. Amber Absolute is quite an arresting aroma.
 

Alex F.

Super Member
Nov 29, 2019
For me, the most beautiful and hypnotic smell is what you get from ambroxide and, to a lesser extent, other materials with a noticeable ambergris-note, like labdanum and oxidated clary sage. It invariably sets me daydreaming.

Eau de Guerlain smells fascinating to me, too. If I use it, I have to sniff it over and over again, but there are quite a lot of fragrances that have that effect on me. Unfortunately, it's mostly older versions, rather than current ones: Jules by Dior, Haute Provence and Vétyver by Nicolaï, to name just a few.
I usually spray new acquisitions on a piece of tissue paper and see how they evolve. With some vintages, like Habit Rouge edc by Guerlain and Pour un homme by Caron, I've found that if I warm up what's left on the tissue with my breath a day or two after spraying, it releases beautiful bases that I could sniff at for hours.
 
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yellowtone

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 27, 2016
Mitsouko, I was shocked when I realized, so many could not wear her. For me, she was the warm hug when I felt down from the first sniff years ago.

Strangely, Shalimar Parfum Initial, I just feel so happy when I wear it.
No. 5 has a similar effect on me, it felt like a warm hug from the get go, and it surprised me that so many find it difficult to wear.
 

Foxsbiscuits

Super Member
Oct 8, 2003
@L'Aventurier After reading the title I immediately thought of Eau de Guerlain and wow your description matches my experience so much. Maybe it's a combination of trying so much over the years that this delicate and deceptively complex structure is so alluring, nothing comes close in the genre IMO. I haven't even tried the vintage, I'm happy with the current one.

The one that does that for me most recently is Dior's Eau Fraiche. I've rarely felt so emotionally stirred and excited by a fragrance rather than intellectually understanding and appreciating it (which is where I think I am with Habit Rouge). When I sniff it I feel like I've discovered literal hidden treasure, the sour perfume-y freshness that transports me to another world and invigorates my senses in a way I didn't think possible. It's like discovering the perfect next step that feels so personal in my fragrance journey, I found it by accident in a department store in a drawer and immediately knew I had to have it.

The defining aspect seems to be an aliveness that the perfumer has managed to capture, whether that be in an accord or in the structure or something else there is an undeniable vibrancy that stirs me. Jean Paul Guerlain and Roudnitska have done this marvellously.

Sadly I couldn't get on with Troisieme, I think it was the clove that gave me a headache. I don't think I've tried Yohji properly, a vague memory says it was very light wearing.

Do you have others that move you similarly?
 

L'Aventurier

Basenotes Dependent
May 8, 2008
@L'Aventurier After reading the title I immediately thought of Eau de Guerlain and wow your description matches my experience so much. Maybe it's a combination of trying so much over the years that this delicate and deceptively complex structure is so alluring, nothing comes close in the genre IMO. I haven't even tried the vintage, I'm happy with the current one.

The one that does that for me most recently is Dior's Eau Fraiche. I've rarely felt so emotionally stirred and excited by a fragrance rather than intellectually understanding and appreciating it (which is where I think I am with Habit Rouge). When I sniff it I feel like I've discovered literal hidden treasure, the sour perfume-y freshness that transports me to another world and invigorates my senses in a way I didn't think possible. It's like discovering the perfect next step that feels so personal in my fragrance journey, I found it by accident in a department store in a drawer and immediately knew I had to have it.

The defining aspect seems to be an aliveness that the perfumer has managed to capture, whether that be in an accord or in the structure or something else there is an undeniable vibrancy that stirs me. Jean Paul Guerlain and Roudnitska have done this marvellously.

Congrats on the Eau Fraiche find! I just read up on it a little, it sounds amazing.

Sadly I couldn't get on with Troisieme, I think it was the clove that gave me a headache. I don't think I've tried Yohji properly, a vague memory says it was very light wearing.

Do you have others that move you similarly?
Lately I've been trying to focus more on new releases or non-vintage fragrances, and there are a few that really wow me.

Une Fleur de Cassie, even in its current form, is just spell-binding, however it's not an easy wear for me (very perfumey and leans feminine) so I don't find myself reaching for it that often. But it's so incredibly complex and moody that each wearing is a different experience, and I love getting lost in its layers and textures. I constantly wonder "How??".

New York Intense is another one that hits all the right spots for me. It's really Patricia Nicolai's magnum opus. There's a rich, resinous and golden feeling to it that is just so regal, and it has that vintage quality and feeling that I once thought was impossible with current IFRA regulations.

Ambre Supreme by Les Indemodables is a new release that I've been really into. It's obviously inspired by Mitsouko's peach and oakmoss combo, but it's much less jolie-laide, and more friendly. Instead of Mitsouko's focused, deep woods and resins, the basenotes are a soft and expansive mix of ambergris, salt and transparent musks (with some oakmoss for good measure). It doesn't conjure the same sense of melancholy, depth and wonder as Mitsouko, but it's a great release, that has grown on me and charmed me more and more with each wearing. Perfectly unisex.

When it comes to the elusive and hard to find vintage stuff, these have all made my eyes roll back in my head:

Eau de Guerlain (gold box)
Heritage EdT (gold cap)
Jicky EdP (2016 formulation in the bee bottle and white box is still excellent but different)
L'Heure Bleue EdT (gold box)
Mitsouko EdP (gold box)
No. 19 EdT (1990s, short list ingredients)
3e Homme (the trick with this one is to find a dark grey, rectangular bottle, with the short list of ingredients)
Or Black (All black rectangle bottle or original version with a cap)
Caron Pour un Homme (Black rounded cap version)
Rose Poivree
Shalimar EdP (gold box)
Yohji Homme (the first and best formulation is a darker juice, and comes in a black pouch, with no cap)
Tabac Blond (I can only dream about owning this)
Sous le Vent (also in dreams, only)
 

Foxsbiscuits

Super Member
Oct 8, 2003
Thanks for the thorough reply!

New York Intense suffered the same fate as 3eme (clove? or something...) and my mum now wears it! I had really hoped to like more of Nicolai's work but nothing really fit me, maybe Vetyver but it wasn't extraordinary. The liquorice accord in Cuir Cuba made me chuckle with delight but sadly it becomes a skin scent on me.
Une Fleur de Cassie and Ambre Supreme I will try to sniff, not living in London anymore makes this harder now.

I can relate to wanting something more contemporary, I feel like I've exhausted the classics now and there must be something recent worth wearing.
In my latest sample pack I have Essential's Bois Imperial which is a surprise hit for me. I see it as an evolution of Terre d'Hermes and evokes that same spaciousness and lightness but with a freshness not found through citrus, I'll need more wearings before a final decision. The surprise is that I enjoy how artificial it smells to my nose, it doesn't evoke nature as Eau de Guerlain but I am ok with it as a modern/futuristic aesthetic and abstract fragrance. Time will tell, nonetheless it has rekindled my interest and hope in recent perfume.

Your vintage list shows true determination to seek out the greats, I commend you. I don't have the same desire to track them all down but imagine I'd enjoy them if I did. 😋
 

Cook.bot

Flâneuse
Basenotes Plus
Jan 6, 2012
Sycomore rings every bell I have. When I first smelled it at the Chanel boutique, there was no question I had to have it—I didn’t even shudder about the price. It’s warm, and dark, and is one of those scents that seems to rise and fall throughout the wearing. Each time it reappears, it fills me with delight. A whiff of cigarette tobacco to begin, then glorious, dry vetiver mingled with cypress and sandalwood. I’m careful to apply sparingly and keep it close—for my own selfish pleasure. I have the edt, and thinking about the end of the bottle fills me with actual grief…

You took the words right out of my mouth. It made me literally shiver the first time, and virtually every time since. And then when I read Luca Turin's dictum about it, I felt completely seen: "If smelling it does not make you shiver with pleasure, see a doctor."

I was never attracted to perfumes that feel like a warm hug. I want a perfume that puts a hook in my nose and tries to drag me somewhere.
 

heavy black heart

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Mar 20, 2022
Congrats on the Eau Fraiche find! I just read up on it a little, it sounds amazing.


Lately I've been trying to focus more on new releases or non-vintage fragrances, and there are a few that really wow me.

Une Fleur de Cassie, even in its current form, is just spell-binding, however it's not an easy wear for me (very perfumey and leans feminine) so I don't find myself reaching for it that often. But it's so incredibly complex and moody that each wearing is a different experience, and I love getting lost in its layers and textures. I constantly wonder "How??".

New York Intense is another one that hits all the right spots for me. It's really Patricia Nicolai's magnum opus. There's a rich, resinous and golden feeling to it that is just so regal, and it has that vintage quality and feeling that I once thought was impossible with current IFRA regulations.

Ambre Supreme by Les Indemodables is a new release that I've been really into. It's obviously inspired by Mitsouko's peach and oakmoss combo, but it's much less jolie-laide, and more friendly. Instead of Mitsouko's focused, deep woods and resins, the basenotes are a soft and expansive mix of ambergris, salt and transparent musks (with some oakmoss for good measure). It doesn't conjure the same sense of melancholy, depth and wonder as Mitsouko, but it's a great release, that has grown on me and charmed me more and more with each wearing. Perfectly unisex.

When it comes to the elusive and hard to find vintage stuff, these have all made my eyes roll back in my head:

Eau de Guerlain (gold box)
Heritage EdT (gold cap)
Jicky EdP (2016 formulation in the bee bottle and white box is still excellent but different)
L'Heure Bleue EdT (gold box)
Mitsouko EdP (gold box)
No. 19 EdT (1990s, short list ingredients)
3e Homme (the trick with this one is to find a dark grey, rectangular bottle, with the short list of ingredients)
Or Black (All black rectangle bottle or original version with a cap)
Caron Pour un Homme (Black rounded cap version)
Rose Poivree
Shalimar EdP (gold box)
Yohji Homme (the first and best formulation is a darker juice, and comes in a black pouch, with no cap)
Tabac Blond (I can only dream about owning this)
Sous le Vent (also in dreams, only)

une fleur de cassie and ambre supreme are top 10 for me - amazing!
 

pouring

Basenotes Dependent
May 22, 2013
I can relate to wanting something more contemporary, I feel like I've exhausted the classics now and there must be something recent worth wearing.
In my latest sample pack I have Essential's Bois Imperial which is a surprise hit for me. I see it as an evolution of Terre d'Hermes and evokes that same spaciousness and lightness but with a freshness not found through citrus, I'll need more wearings before a final decision. The surprise is that I enjoy how artificial it smells to my nose, it doesn't evoke nature as Eau de Guerlain but I am ok with it as a modern/futuristic aesthetic and abstract fragrance. Time will tell, nonetheless it has rekindled my interest and hope in recent perfume.
I love this description of Bois Imperial.

It is a big hit for me also… I have dented half a 100ml bottle. I do wonder will I tire of it / the artificial nature of it.
 
Apr 8, 2021
Mitsouko. Every single time I smell it. And, infuriatingly given the tacky bottle and absurd price, Roja’s Diaghilev.
Me too - those two! Mitsouko was the first one that blew my mind. Diaghilev is a frustrating love, for sure (I had to have a decant). And I must add: Chypre-Siam from Rogue, vintage Femme Rochas, and Salome from Papillon. I'd say these are my "wow"s by some distance.
 

RC.

Super Member
Apr 28, 2013
Sycomore rings every bell I have. When I first smelled it at the Chanel boutique, there was no question I had to have it—I didn’t even shudder about the price. It’s warm, and dark, and is one of those scents that seems to rise and fall throughout the wearing. Each time it reappears, it fills me with delight. A whiff of cigarette tobacco to begin, then glorious, dry vetiver mingled with cypress and sandalwood. I’m careful to apply sparingly and keep it close—for my own selfish pleasure. I have the edt, and thinking about the end of the bottle fills me with actual grief…

+1
 

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