On… MCMC Fragrances

I like perfume. (We’ve discussed this in, oh, so many previous sessions.) I like reading books about it (like this and this). I like smelling old smells and new smells. If I have a morning to myself with no work or small children, I like to go to Barneys or Aedes de Venustus and smell everything. I like buying almost-empty perfume bottles from Etsy for $10 because I can tell from the font or the label size that it dates from before 1981 and contains ingredients now long-outlawed by the good old EU and, hell, I just want to smell them before I die. I like reading perfume blog posts from 17 years ago, you know, the kind written in Comic Sans, because the new perfume blogs are all #influencers and I don’t trust them. I find it all very soothing.

My favorite perfume of all time is Miller Harris L’Air de Rien. The perfumer, Lyn Harris, sold Miller Harris a few years ago and opened a little perfume boutique in London. It’s called Perfumer H. I’m *dying* to go. Read this, about their scent Rain Wood: “notes of galbanum+ elemi with a transparent heart of waterlily pepper, frankincense, myrrh resting on a base of wet + humid woods of juniper + cedar wood to make this an effortless fragrance for hot summer days.” What the hell does that smell like? I have NO IDEA and I WANT TO KNOW.

Fox once called me a Perfume Nerd, but I reject that appellation. I’m not an expert. I just like it. And have you noticed how people who call themselves ‘Nerds’ are actually just passive-aggressively boasting that they know more than you about the subject in question? Whenever I’m at a party and stuck next to someone who calls himself, for example, a Comedy Nerd, I stifle a tiny sigh, and don’t say ‘Wow, you must know everything about comedy and therefore have a truly superior sense of humor! You win.’ Instead, I smile and say ‘how fascinating’ and finish my drink as fast as I can so I can get away.

Anyway, darlings, where were we?

Yes. I like perfume.

For my birthday this year, Fox gave me a custom perfume workshop with Anne Serrano-McClain, at her MCMC Fragrances studio. She’s an incredible perfumer, she trained in Grasse, and is also a charming and interesting and easy person to hang out with. We talked for three hours straight and somewhere in there, made an absolutely gorgeous scent.

Here’s how it works: you turn up at her studio (ideally with a vague idea of the kind of smell you want – something light and floral, something sexy and musky, something fresh and lemony, something dark and spicy, whatever blows your skirt up). You smell dozens and dozens of smells. I wanted to make something that smelled a bit dirty and earthy and musky, but not too sharp or sweet.



Then Anne creates three versions of your perfume, each with slight variations.


You take them home and wear them for a few days to decide which is your favorite.


And then she bottles it up and sends it to you. The final result from my session is all warm skin musk and earthy oak moss and creamy tuberose, with a whisper of black pepper and coriander to rough it up a little. Oh you guys, it smells SO GOOD. I’m obsessed with it. Truly. If you see me on the street, come up and smell me. I won’t mind. Send this post to people who love you so they know that this is what you want for your next birthday. (I’m into subtle hints like that.) Email anne@mcmcfragrances.com.



Share Button

2 thoughts on “On… MCMC Fragrances

  1. LC

    Gemma, you witchy woman. Visiting your blog is my kryptonite because I always end up buying something whenever I do. Love/hate your recommendations! Since I can’t do the MCMC workshop thing (I don’t live in the US), I just have to get L’Air De Rien, even though perfume is so personal! So excited to receive it. :) )

  2. Nerissa

    Do perfumes age? I bought their Garden perfume a year or two ago and didn’t wear it much. Three years? Is it middle age or the news cycle that makes 2 years seem like yesterday? Anyway, thank you for this post– I dug out the Garden perfume and will start using it again. It reminds me a bit of a lunch in a garden.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current month ye@r day *