Saturday, 17 January 2015

The Little Cat With A Surprising Belly - Avon Occur, Vintage Civet

My little stinker

The most thoroughly obsessed of the perfume community will understand that a scent purchase often stems from a peculiar chain of events that takes place online. The route that led me from Guerlain’s Vol de Nuit to a 40 year old Avon pussycat can be explained thus:

  • My beloved Vol de Nuit EDT had almost run out.
  • I searched the Escentual sale to price up a new bottle but was seduced by my long yearned love - the Parfum Extrait.
  • Whilst waiting for my golden propellers to arrive I perused the web to read discussions about the extrait concentration of  Vol de Nuit and noticed that Avon’s classic cheapo chypre – Timeless has been likened to Vol.
  • I performed an Ebay search for Timeless and discovered that it was winsomely populated by the kitsch novelty bottles of vintage Avon colognes from the 60s and 70s, Timeless, Occur, Moonwind, Charisma and Sweet Honesty were abundant.
  • I encountered a curious little glass cat who had no box and despite being nearly full of ‘Occur’ was likely to have gone off given that he’s roughly my age, perhaps older. I found him charming and bought him simply for his quirky feline wiles.
  • He arrived, he hadn’t gone off.

I was stunned. I even emailed to seller to ask the provenance of the whiffy feline. Apparently he came from an elderly aunt who collected cat figures. She must have displayed him so I can only guess that the opaque milk glass bottle somehow managed to deflect the ravages of light and kept his liquid belly in tip top condition.

He’s very pungent. On first whiff I smelt an archetypal fougère, so close to Brut that I wondered if the splash-on style hole could have been refilled at some point? Comparing notes on Fragrantica, the similarity could be explained. Both share a whopping dose of oakmoss, musks and bergamot, peppery floral notes (carnation for Occur, geranium for Brut), plentiful herbs and spices and a sweet base of all sorts of sticky tonka-tastic and honeyed wonders.

When the initial Brut sensation wore off, up crept (or pounced) the feral animalistic heart of the fragrance for which it is famed; civet and (the now banned) nitromusks. I knew at this point that I was certainly smelling the wondrous filth that is Occur.

If you’ve ever smelt Francis Kurkdijan’s Absolue Pour Le Soir or Parfum D’ Empire’s Musc Tonkin, you’ll recognize the heady whiff of animalic uber-notes. In fact Occur contains an even stronger dose of ‘eau de urinal’ than either of them. It takes at least half an hour for it to emerge, but when it does I am walloped by the wonder of pre-IFRA fragrant toxicity. I am very happy to poison my skin with this stinking brew. Fortunately, a creamy combination of white florals and milky sandalwood sit alongside this pissy whiff, recalling aspects of Arpege and Ma Griffe that render it more splendid than rancid.

Fittingly, my first ever perfume was by Avon. I can't remember which one as I was less than ten years old. My mum sold Avon and gifted me a plastic daisy shaped brooch filled with a solid scent that I recall smelling deliciously of honeysuckle. Perhaps Avon was responsible for the inception of my obsession?

My lucky American readers will be able to pick up these quirky Avon vintages for a mere few dollars on the USA Ebay site. They are collectible but not valuable given the enormous number of them produced in the 60s and 70s. In Europe prices are a little higher given that, although very common, Avon was not quite as mightily prolific over here. 

Take a peak at these curious Avon creatures lifted shamelessly from Ebay, I wonder what scented wonders their bellies contain?

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  1. Love this memory provoking read... dying to sniff the civet so to speak :)

    1. Hello Jo! Good to see you on Odiferess. You'll be thoroughly daubed with cat wee in a few weeks. Can't wait xx

  2. Good morning, you beautifully scented lady, what perfect timing for this post as an opportunity to thank you for the amazing package of smells you sent me. Just opening the envelope was a wonderfully frangrant experience and I thank my lucky stars that the Habanita beat the Mitsuoku, not going to cost me an arm and a leg now! Only problem is I rather love the Chanel too, but can't seem to find the EdP for discount price anywhere. Perhaps it'll go on my wish list instead. And how could I laugh at your charming seams on the handkerchief, they're beaufully hand crafted. Thank you so much.
    Now about this wiffy cat? Great piece of writing, damn you, you sure are an evil scent witch/temptress! Now I really want a cute vintage animal bottle, not necessarily a cat as I'm more of a doggy kinda girl, but more of a cite pooch lover, that German Sheppard doesn't quite fit the bill in the aesthetic terms for me. But a cute dear with a belly full of delicious smells (contrary to my pooch whose belly produces the most rancid smells - thankfully not regularly) would be adorable and is now on my much desired list. Anyone new to this blog, I can certify this wonderful fragrant expert sure knows what she's on about. And I think I've found my signature scent. Thank you so so much. You're an absolute star! Love my package of delicious scents and love to you too xXx

    1. Hi Gemm,

      That Alsatian is a hoot eh? I'd love to reach for my scent every morning from a container of such daftness. My Dad had an Avon glass sports car which had some uber potent 'dad smell' in it. Or at least, that's how I remember our bathroom after his showers and all the other terrible things men do in bathrooms. The bottles are really quite cheap on Ebay but I expect you're now about to pounce on a bottle of Habanita. seems to be generally the least expensive at the moment.

      I can't remember which Chanel I sent you. Was it 31 Rue Cambon or Cuir de Russie? Stupidly expensive and only sold at Selfridges here in Manchester (and probably other posh shops in London). The Selfridges ladies are very good at giving out free samples and treats when you buy one though.

      Thank you for the kind words about the post. Much appreciated.

    2. PS. I haven't a clue about the difference between a German Sheppard and an Alsatian. Alsatian was my 'instant think' word! I like their huge paws very much.

    3. I don't think there is a difference between German Sheppard and Alsation (I just knew I couldn't spell the second!) but someone correct me if I'm wrong. They're wonderful dogs but too fluffy for me, make me itch and eyes water. Prefer a smooth short haired pooch much like my own, he's soft as silk.
      Sorry I never noticed your reply, I thought I would have been notified, I did tick the box.
      Quite right, I've pounced on the Habanita and I won't be looking back. It's arrived today, so exciting and utterly lush. Thanks so very much. Hope you got my email from just now, I probably should have checked in here for your response first.

    4. Oh and the Chanel you sent was 31 Rue Cambon, very very nice, gorgeous in fact but just didn't have the staying power I was after. Plus I preferred the slightly filthier Habanita (and it's price) xXx

  3. Also love that vintage owl bottle too, my mum used to collect owls. And is that a hippo I see with the dear deer and kitty cat collection? What a cute little gang they are! xXx

  4. Even though my Basenotes handle to this day remains 'VM I hate civet', I have got to that point in my perfume 'j*****y' where the concept of 'wondrous filth' is no longer an oxymoron. And I am a big cat lover as you know. This still sounds more of a tiger than a pussycat but I might not take to the hills as I would in the past.

    1. Heehee, wondrous filth ahoy! I love how our tastes evolve. I never expected to be a floral lover but it seams I am drawn completely nowadays.

  5. I'm "watching" a couple of those feline bottles on eBay for a while now. I don't really care for perfumes inside but I'm drawn to the bottles.

    1. Hi Undina,
      Good luck hunting. It would be lovely if you could snaffle a Rusty coloured cat.