Perfume, a personal history

Each March, SXSW interactive and music festival descends upon Austin with a striking fury, growing larger and larger each year. My neighborhood is no longer safe from the madness, and with my local coffee haunt turned into a Spotify lounge and usual food trailers sold out of tacos by noon, I have been spending my intentions inwards: towards craft projects, catching up on podcasts, and researching a few historical gems.

About once a season, my friend Angeliska describes her new favorite scents she’s been wearing or lusting after.  For any of us lucky to hug Miss Angel in person, we can attest to the romantic waftings of fragrance that hide within her mermaid hair and emanate from her fancy, cluttered purse. The collection of perfume bottles in her powder room is truly a sight to behold. A question about one fragrance leads to one story, one experience after another. They can be photographs, perfume. Little time capsules.

This lead me to my own lackluster journey with perfumes:


Armani “Elle” is my snapshot of 1998. In a sea of CK1 (launched in 1994), I meandered a bit out of the solid lines of High School code when I chose the overly sweet citrusy, sandalwood fragrance of “Elle.” I purchased this fragrance with money from my afterschool job of child minding at the local elementary school. I’m sure it went well with the cheetoe stained thrift store dresses I was rocking back then. writes that the packaging design was based on that of a mobile phone. Ha! A nod to innovation!Amber_Perfume_large

For the last five years, I’ve been dabbing a swatch of essential oils (Nemat brand) behind my ears and knees and calling it a day. These are little $9 vials that I get at my local food co-op, and are good for a finishing touch to an outfit. The scents I wear/rotate religiously are Amber, Rose and Vanilla Musk. For the summer, I’ll wear Jasmine and Lily of the Valley (Kuumba Made brand) which are a bit lighter. I  did buy a vial of Majmua and wore it for a bit last summer, until I overheard a bartender growl after catching the scent, “Who let all these fuckin’ hippies in here?” It has been hidden in my makeup drawer out of embarrassment. I do love the smell, but it’s not “me.”

Funeral Home is a blend of classic white flowers: lilies, carnations, gladiolus, chrysanthemums with stems and leaves, with a hint of mahogany and oriental carpet. I purchased this scent on my first trip to NOLA, in 2003, after a rather macabre walk through a cemetary after bering broken up with via email.

My new interest in perfumes is, in part, in the hopes that they can help me with anxiety. If I am in a triggering situation, say, an overflowing crowded room, I’ll reach into my purse and sneak a smell of Violet or hunt around on my wrist for a trace of Whiskey Tobacco. The smell of violet reminds me of crunching into Flavigny Violette Pastille candies during college, or sipping a bourbon on my front porch. This transport helps to slice down the anxiety until I am able to gulp it back down and regain composure. Hey, we all have our secrets!

In the search for a new perfume for myself, I am compiling a list of scents/flavors that I am attracted to, and have calming qualities for me:

Wood Smoke
Violet (oh, I forgot about CHoward purple violet mints!)
Sandalwood, Oakmoss, Cabreuva, Vetiver (like those in Oshadhi Roots).

My Red Hair Evolution

September, 2007, I was living in Eugene, Oregon. This marks the first time I went REALLY red, with chemical dyes. I was fresh from the beauty parlor in this image, and I have a few blonde highlights towards the front. I had been using henna for about 6 months before this.January 2008 – Living in Portland, Oregon. The rainy weather was really great for pincurls – they held their shape & were very springy & octopus like.
February 2008 – Fresh from the beauty parlor here. I got my hair cut by a curly hair specialist who “diagnosed” the curly geography of my head. The verdict: one half of my head is curly, the other half is wavy, and it tends to be strait in the back. Huh!
March 2008 – I had JUST moved to Austin, Texas. I was obsessed with making this pincurl-set-in-a-mohawk look work. It never really did ;p
May 2008 – Just at the beginning of my first Texas summer, chilling out in a 1920s slip and bare feet!

July 2008 – I evolved the pincurl mohawk into looser pincurl sets, topped off with fancy antique headbands.August 2008 – Fresh from the beauty parlor in this shot. The stylist had put it in velcro rollers in the back and set the front curl in a kiss curl. I like this style, but I could never duplicate it myself.January 2009 – For a few brief months, I experimented with going a lighter red, and opted for a strawberry blonde color.January 2009 – The strawberry blonde, close up.
March 2009 – Musee Mechanique in San Francisco – back to my trusty red!August 2009 – Displaying a monster avocado while in Brazil. I had let my hair fade over the summer, mostly so I could swim every day.October 2009 – Swimming season is over, and I’m back to red. This marks a time where I found out how to dye my hair using Medium Intense Red from Sallys & 20 Developer – a very, very affordable way to color my hair.January 2010, with Anja from Clever Nettle and Nika Kaiser. My favorite ladies!
February, 2010 – natural curls with kiss curls in the front.

March 2010

July 2010

November 2010

July 2011

December 2011 – Me and Angeliska at the December Vintage Vivant.

Farewell, red hair. What fun times we had together!

There are a few reasons I decided to go darker. The most important reason being that I was starting to feel very proprietary of this hair color, and when I would see it on other people I let it drive me crazy. It’s a silly feeling when I dissected it, after all, I didn’t formulate the chemicals that came up with the durn thing. However, it was a signature color for me, and sometimes signatures need to be changed up every five years or so. I’ve never had black hair before! We’ll see how it treats me.

I Love Red Heads

RedHeadedWoman430wRed headed woman on an airplane, 1940sred_headed_womanOne of my favorite movies, starring Jean Harlow
redhairgallianoRed head from John Galliano’s Boudoir Doll collection
redhairgalliano3Red head from John Galliano’s Boudoir Doll collection
00540mRed head from John Galliano’s Boudoir Doll collection
puppet2 copySource Unknown.
Picture 31920s Card
old75 copyRoxanne from Persephassa
IMG_6972My Gentle River Blythe. I took her into my hair appointments and told the stylist that I wanted her hair color!
fairy-goth-motherSource unknown.
BXJ8tViIgob5598yjZAT62wfo1_500Red Flapper Fro = Love

Debutant’s Debut

It’s August, I’m in Texas, it’s 105F in the shade. I live on the second floor of a cinder block house in a neighborhood built after WWII for returning servicemen. On my front porch, I’m sawing a phonograph horn lengthwise with a hacksaw. This work is slow going and sweat is beading up beneath my Colleen Moore bangs and under the arms of my 1940s cotton house dress.

Behind me, some clothes are drip drying on an umbrella-shaped wooden rack after having been washed on a glass washboard in a mixture of Borax and castille soap in my bathtub.

For supper, I’ve got dried beans soaking on the stove and a sleeve of farmer’s market tomatoes waiting to be sliced on the cutting board. I’ll eat them on fried tortillas by candlelight on the porch.

This webspace will serve as a documentation of my life, and my attempts in the next year to groom my life into a zero waste, low impact, and recycled/reused lifestyle by incorporating aspects of daily life familiar to those living in the earlier part of the 20th century.

Please stay tuned!

Daily Outfit, October 4th, 2009

  • White ribbon in hair
  •  1950s? navy/white vintage dress with sheer front panel – Nobody’s Baby, Eugene, Oregon
  • Mary Jane High Heels – Target

IMG_7983-681x1024 IMG_7979 IMG_7987-681x1024
Today’s outfit was rather plain to write about (bow, dress, heels) but I think the color and pattern of this dress is so striking that it doesn’t need to be overpowered with a lot of accessories. Once again, I am matching navy blue and black together! Did you know that most vintage dresses are either black or navy? I learned this from John when I worked in Portland at Decade’s Vintage. I didn’t believe him at first, but then I went to my own closet and examined all of my dresses. I rearranged my closet in ROYGBIV style and sure enough, there were more dresses in the “BIV” part of the spectrum. I’ve tried since then to make a conscientious choice not to buy navy blue, and I think I feel as if I have more variety because of it. I still have not found suitable navy shoes that are vegan friendly.
This weekend in Austin, Texas was Austin City Limits, so there were a lot of great shows. I saw !!! at Emo’s on Friday. I have been seeing them live since 2002 when they played my small hometown in Arkansas and I’ve managed to see them in almost every major city I’ve ever been to! Friday night was a good show, save for all of the beer that got poured all over my shoes in the crowd.
Yesterday at work I saw Jack White in my store and I had a really funny moment of greeting him really enthusiastically like I would any other customer and then suddenly realizing who he was and then kind of freezing up! He kind of did a double take when he saw me, and I think it might be because I have really similar coloring to his wife, the lovely Karen Elson! I spent the rest of the day arguing with my co-worker about Loretta Lynn’s Van Lear Rose. I loved it, but I like all Loretta Lynn.


Party Like it’s 1929

img_6853 img_6837
Here are some shots of Angel and me at Party Like it’s 1929. This is a fantastic period party thrown by the wonderful Datri Bean. We danced through the night and sipped apricot liquor. I made my necklace out of a chandilier from work! It made such music as I moved. It is double-sided so the strands hang down the back just as they do the front.

My headband is from the ever-so-fantastic Louise Black (of Project Runway season 6!) I have been buying headbands from her for years and I love the accent they give each outfit. This one is a delicate green ribbon with glass pieces and a deco brooch. So lovely!

I finally got my makeup right tonight when I turned on the “sepia” setting of Photo

booth and just did my makeup in the computer camera as if I was in a sepia picture! I think I am always too timid to really darken my eyes but having the sepia setting let me know where to put the dark shadows and highlights. Guilherme looked very handsome dressed up in a vest and proper suspenders. He shaved his moustache into a Clark Gable shape and I think it fits him very well.