I like his name – it sounds like the hard boiled detective from a cheap film noir. I became acquainted with Mr. Burr while listening to an NPR piece on fragrances a couple of years ago. The way he described the different scents was eye-opening. I do not have the most sensitive of noses – my favorite fragrance up ’til then had been the freesia scent from Bath and Body Works. I’ve always tended to be more of an herbal girl – lavender, rose, mint, all make me happy. Perfume to me meant that heavy powdery or overwhelmingly floral stuff that shi-shi women wear – that stuff that suffocates you in elevators. I recently went looking for more words of wisdom from Mr. Burr and found he has a column on fragrances on line at the New York Times site called The Moment. Here is just a sampling of his work:
I have never smelled anything quite like Afire. It opens as brandied, minty plum jam, warm as a steam radiator and sweet. Then the mint (which is terrific) does a dive, coming to hover just below the surface — all of Morris’s perfumes do a fast-forward metamorphosis on the skin — and Afire becomes the scent of an ineffable fruit liqueur coming to a boil in a pastry chef’s pot.
Go read some more of his work – click here: CHANDLER BURR . Even if you don’t plan on ever purchasing a fragrance – just reading about the perfume culture is akin to discovering a new art form. His use of descriptive language is extraordinary and opens you up to new sensory possibilities. Mr. Burr has a magnificent ability to verbally describe an olfactory sensation and you can sense how passionate he is about the subject through his use of language.
On the NPR segment I first heard him on, he recommended two perfumes so highly (Light Blue and Sake) that I actually went to a cosmetics counter in a major department store. In general I avoid upscale fragrance and cosmetic counters because the clerks tend to treat me like a homeless person who has wandered in off the street. There is an implication in their manner that there is nothing behind their shining glass cases that could possibly interest me and their distain drips from their snooty drawn out “May I help you with anything….” Even so, the lure of something as marvelous as I had heard described made me screw up my courage and approach the shiny glass counter and sample “Light Blue.” I realized that its not necessarily the clerks but my reaction to them that had kept me away from the fragrance counters (that and the fact that these fragrances are an extravagance that my budget can only allow in very, very small doses).
I kept the little Light Blue sample sheet in my purse and the fragrance emanating from my purse, well, it made me happy. It lifted my spirits each time I got a whiff of it. I saved up my pennies and purchased Dolce Gabbana’s Light Blue for myself and it still makes me happy each time I put it on. (Although I just ran out of – it did last over two years – now I must save up my pennies again….)
I just wish there was a way to sample perfumes as you read about them – Burr’s column on Fresh’s Citron de Vigne sounds wonderful. The scent is for both men and women and it is based on a visit to the Veuve Clicquot vineyards by the perfumier – read about it here: Vanity Fair … of course all this was pre-economic bust… we’ll all be making due with a little vanilla behind our ears here pretty soon.