Wednesday, 24 March 2010


The other day, there was a discussion on the smell of tobacco in the interiors and I recalled my late grandma and promised some stories.

Well, grandma died in the ripe old age of 80 minus a week (life is ironic and so is death, her burial was on her birthday day), she succumbed to a metastased melanoma, or in normal words, the cancer ate her liver. Which is another irony, she would hardly go out because it's dangerous out there etc. so sun exposure, a major cause of melanoma (or so they say) was negligible. She was alcoholic, she dosed her medicines depending on weather and actual mood (nobody wanted to know any details) and she smoke a hundred a day, the modest guesses say. Also, she was overweight. Like, 180 cm around the hips overweight. One would say that she'd get cirrhosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, lung cancer or at least chronic bronchitis but she was the healthiest person ever (but for cancer, of course).

She smoked a lot, did I mention that? Her apartment had that particular smell of full ashtray, that tarry goo on all surfaces and stale tobacco. My parents were reasonable so however odd my both sets of grandparents may be, they just let it be. At one grandma, I could watch the chicken hatching,bring cats and bunnies to the kitchen and didn't have to brush my teeth, at another grandma, it stank, she constantly watched telly and I could do whatever I wanted, also, importantly, grandma always had chocolates.
I became wary of her habits in a tender age, though. She was an alcoholic, as I said, that type which hardly ever gets really drunk, she needed to keep a stable level of alcohol in the system, though (and the theory says that due to disinfectant properties of alcohol, no bug ever got her). To mask her drinking habit, she would hide a bottle of something in the flowerpot, masked by some ugly bushy thing, and she would pour vodka into water glass. One hot July day, we climbed the three storeys sans elevator, I was thirsty, grabbed the water glass, which, in my 3-years-old brain meant that it contained water, and gulped - so far I remember it. My throat didn't catch fire nor did my eyes pop out, but almost, the legend has it that my father nearly commited a matricide and that I slept well that afternoon. I won my personal battle against alcoholism more than 25 years ago although at a certain point, I was a laughing stock because every normal person drinks beer, yeah.

I like flacons that have a screw-on spray nozzle. First, I like to reuse the bottles, second, I make decants from time to time, third, I like spraying myself. High five to Shiseido for this.
A few weeks ago, I got a handful of purse atomizers and I discovered that some scents are totally different when sprayed. I still don't know for sure what causes the difference although in most cases, it may be the sheer amount applied and in less potent colognes, I might underapply.

However, now I can pour my various miniatures, samples and stuff from all those cute flacons with glass stoppers into the atomizers, I can carry it around and I'm using it with much more pleasure.

Sagamore was one of these newly discovered scents. For some reason, I've hoarded a handful of miniatures of the older version. A dab from the 7,5 ml bottle and a spray is continents away. I was vaguely aware that Sagamore was somehow woody-aromatic... while it is very woody, aromatic and smoky fougere. I haven't found tobacco among the notes neither at Fragrantica nor at Perfume Intelligence (which also says that it's a masculine chypre... odd) but I'm telling you, I recognize an ashtray and all that brown goo that sticks to the walls when I smell it.
The opening is.... well, I should say something like green and citrusy but for me, petitgrain is akin to paint thinner. No offence meant, I love the smell of paint thinners but when it's paired with that something green and citrusy, I tend to perceive it as turned. Thinking of it, I need to reasses my opinion on Nina Ricci's Bigarade because the opening is exactly the same and many times I've whined that it has turned, o woe upon me. Back to Sagamore. Launched in 1984 or 1985 (sources vary) so it stands side to side to the 1980's monsters with tons of sillage and muscle mass. Because, after citruses waft away, there's that smoke and a sweaty tone.

Graham Greene defined adventure as something that's hell to go through but it makes excellent stories to tell at the fireplace years later. Sagamore would speak of a house of a lady who had walnut furniture, tons of books, smoked like an old sailor, cursed likewise, had a full and well-supplied liquor cabinet. And possibly two Afghans curled at the fireplace but that would be somewhat overdone, I guess. Nobody needs to know the pesky details like walnut being only veneer, yeah?

Sagamore was advertised as a masculine fragrance in the original version but bite me. Now it's reissued in Lancôme's La Collection, available in 15 and 50 ml bottles (which is what I saw around, the Lancôme website doesn't say anything.)

top notes: lavender, clary sage, petitgrain, bergamot, lemon
middle notes: carnation, ginger, cinnamon, jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, geranium
base notes: sandalwood, amber, patchouli, musk, benzoin, vanilla, styrax


  1. First of all, thanks for another of your posts. I always appreciate how honest you are.

    Second, LMAO at "bite me." In one version or another, just about any of us, whatever our gender, who are into perfume say that. One way or another. Don't tell ME what is masculine, you twit. ;)

    Third, related...this gender ID thing is one of the reasons I think it is funny that the La Collection keeps 3 scents consistent, but for the 4th? Either Sagamore...or Mille et Une Roses. Ha.

    As for somebody pushing with "hey, everybody drinks beer?" Another good time to say "bite me."


  2. ScentScelf, thanks for the input.

    Regarding honesty... maybe it's a bit of self-flagellating habit of mine. Or maybe it's painting the world in colours so gloomy that I stand out as the good one. In this case, it's my terrible grandma, how simple.

    Regarding Lancome, there'll be more, I have a weak spot for their old stuff and I've collected a few forgotten fragrances. I had the La Collection box and I must say that all the fragrances seemed rather bland to me, masculine, feminine or whatever. Admittedly, I have the vintage Sikkim in extrait, Magie is tricky because to me, it smells only on the skin, neither in the bottle nor on paper and Climat I yet have to decipher.

    As for gender: weren't it compulsory to have one, I wouldn't bother. I don't need it and I stick to being female most likely because it permits me to experiment with fashion with less raised eyebrows.

    As for beer, I've been given various explanations, since people don't take No for answers. The most interesting were Oh, you're a recovering alcoholic, I understand, I understand, I'll bring you some juice and Oops, your liver is so bad, poor you. I left it at that.