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And thanks, everybody, for entering, and for reading!
Reprint time: the post below is from the first few months of Olfactarama. It's one of my favorites.
(C'mon, you know you want some Yatagan!)
Okay, this is going to take courage.
Today, readers, we are going to talk about Yatagan.
I have two indoor cats. (One of them, the purty one, is pictured. For you purebred feline fans, he’s a Natural Mink Tonkinese. Beautiful, isn’t he? But you’d better not question his position as Genetically Ordained Ruler, or he’ll make you so very sorry.)
Like all indoor cats, his, uh, output is prodigious.
Have I mentioned that I’m a relative noob at perfume analysis? I ordered my sample of Yatagan a few months ago, after reading Dr. Turin’s five-star review of it in The Guide. It arrived. Breathless, I ripped the package open and sprayed some on my wrist.
First thought was, “Are you kidding me?” And then, “Hmmm…did I change the cat box?”
I mean, there are some fragrances that really test one’s self-appointed status as a perfumista. This is one of them. And yet…maybe it’s my skin, again; on the blotter it smells nice, kind of pine-y and herbal and dry. But on my skin, well, I just have to say it. Catagin.
It has that “uniquely strange, high-pitched hissing tone…” (Dr. Turin.) Interesting choice of words, that. “Hissing tone.” I thought, maybe it’s me. So I thrust my scented wrist under the increasingly fatigued nose of my long-suffering husband. “Jesus!” he said, recoiling, “that smells like cat pee!”
This should have reassured me, but instead, it filled me with doubt.
What business do I really have, I thought, doing this? I mean, look at all the people who can take a quick sniff and then recite long lists of “notes.” Who lurve Bulgari Black and Angel and Musc Koublai Khan -- and this. How long is will it take for me to reach that level of skill and chutzpah? To proudly spray myself with Yatagan, and then go out into the world, smelling like…well, you know.
Or (duck and cover), is this all just some form of mass hysteria? Does Yatagan really stink of feline musk, and nobody wants to admit it, because, for God's sake this is one of the classics, etc., etc.?
Tell me, perfumistas. I know that (some of, well, maybe one or two of) you read this twice-weekly ooze. Your choice; reassure me, or else say “forget it, Olfacta; you are not one of us. Anybody who can’t appreciate Yatagan doesn’t have the nose for this.”
(A drawing then ensued. I'm removing that text so as not to confuse anyone.) Comments are from the original entry, and they were so interesting I left them in. New comments can be left in the usual way.
I am so completely intrigued I can't stand it. Being the owner of a cat who also has a "prodigious output" I am quite well acquainted with that particular odor. I hate it when this happens with perfumes. When you read the notes about them and you think THIS is the ULTIMATE perfume for ME. They MUST have created it with me in mind. Then you smell it and you can't get away from it fast enough. And what if Yatagan DOES smell fantastic on me. What does that mean? Does it put me one step closer to being a Crazy Cat Lady who has birthday parties for her cats and consults them for finacial and meteorological advice?
What an experience! i'm a 'fume kindergartener, with only 3 or 4 samples to my name. but i have had a similar experience with Joy - after about 10 minutes it just smelled like pure sweat. not b.o., not sour, just lotsa hardworkin' sweat. the joke was that after about 1/2 hour of this, a soapy note started to dominate......... i have a little more experience with wine, being 40 minutes from the Napa valley, where my mom lives. many wines have truly strange tastes and odors that aren't considered faults - graphite and eucalyptus in cabernet sauvignon, for example, can really taste great. as it happens, a trace of 'cat pee' (they don't have some euphemism for it, just call it like it is) is considered to enhance the 'racy' and 'lively' flavors of sauvignon blanc, especially when made as Sancerre in France. however, they do draw the line at 'a trace'. at least you can take comfort in the fact that there is no shortage of other perfumes out there to try.... ; ) have fun, lunarose
oh, dear heavens...I got out of cat box duty when pregnant, and a decade later, thanks to the magic that my spouse calls habit, he still attends to that chore. Perhaps I have a chance to relive the "glory days" every time I smell my wrist??? Catagain, indeed. ;)
I can't imagine anyone passing up a chance to win a sample of a touted perfume that might smell like cat piss... I would love to be able to smell it, and then relay a complete amateur's description. Who knows - might introduce some new words to the perfume-sniffing lexicon.
You got me to come out of the woodwork with this post -- I've been reading since you started, but this one just rang so true! I'm a new-ish fragrance fan and, like you, have not come to grips with some smells. Miel du Bois is as far as I've gotten in the wavery line of nasal pain/pleasure. This one has quite an opening with a "hissing tone" that takes a while to die down. My mind is not made up on this, but I'm not quite refusing further exposure. Catagin, though, may be too much for me. You're a bold one to test this out! Eileen
It didn't smell like cat pee to me - it reminded me instead of the time my neighbour creosoted his fence on the hottest day of the year! But though I can't wear Yatagan, I can sort of see why others admire it. In a good light. If I squint & turn my head to the side a bit....
I'm completely ignorant when it comes to perfumes, which is why I find this blog so enlightening! So of course I want to experiment with the cat piss perfume! Who knows, maybe I'll come to love the scent and not feel the need to obsessively clean out the litter box. Thank you!
Of course you're on to something: in a way I think any perfumista worth his/her salt is usually "trying" to get all these classics and difficult fumes. Someone is playing a cruel joke! ;-) Seriously though, I do believe Yatagan is quite difficult to pull of. It smells weird and it makes one search for that unidentifiable source of effluvium; and if that doesn't prove one is man enough to be assured of himself, I don't know what is. Having said that, I think many took its message and progressed: Kouros being one of them, which I personally find very pleasant in small amounts. I never had any trouble with Muscs Kublai Khan, though, so maybe I'm genetically/culturally lax in those matters. Or need my head examined. Take it any which way you prefer :-) Great entry!
I love the idea of fragrances that are 'difficult' to appreciate. They add another level of intellectual fascination - pondering what the perfumer meant, why this or that note? Did they intentionally overdose an ingredient? After a while you really get to appreciate the beauty of the creation - even if it stinks! I had no such fun with Muscs Kublai Khan, though - that was simply beautiful from the first time I sprayed it. Mark
I wonder if there is a skin chemistry/nose perception thing going on? I don't own cats, but I think I know that smell you are talking about. I own a bottle of Yatagan and wear it periodically (my husband doesn't love it, but more because it smells "masculine" to him than unpleasant.) I *hate* that pee smell, but Yatagan to/on me smells more sexy -- I mean, like sex. That musky human body smell. Okay, maybe not the stuff everyone's fragrance dreams are made of, but not urine-y. :-) Nice blog!