Friday, May 29, 2009

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz The' Verte

The weather is warm and I’m having a tea phase. My glass is always full of iced tea and I’m wearing tea scents. I love the tea notes in L’Artisan The Pour Un Ete, Parfums d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite and all three of the Bulgari tea trio.

We carry Dawn Spencer Hurwitz The’ Verte at The Posh Peasant so I wore it several times this week. DSH The’ Verte is a very true green tea fragrance. The’ Verte is chilled green tea on a light chypre base. It’s calming, soothing, cooling and reminds me of a weekend at Ten Thousand Waves spa in Santa Fe.

I don’t drink green tea. I think it tastes like dirt. But as a fragrance, green tea is especially interesting. The’ Verte has a lovely dry green leafy quality and a soft hay-like aroma. There is also a subtle minty sensation and herbal bergamot (think Early Grey tea) note draped over the light mossy base.

DSH The’ Verte is minimalist. It’s zen. It’s yoga class, meditation, a room of one’s own, in a bottle. Don your Eileen Fisher linen ensemble, put your hair up in a pony, pull out your artisan handcrafted earrings from etsy and spritz yourself with The’ Verte. It’s a good day. It’s your day. Enjoy.

Notes –
Top: bergamot, lemon
Middle: green tea
Base: moss, sandalwood

TWRT 5.29.09

This Week's Random Thoughts ~

Annick Goutal Hadrien Absolu is worth it.

I’ve been living under a rock. I purchased Molinard Nirmala because Chayaruchama said it’s a fab fruity scent. It arrived today and (it’s great) all I could think of was Angel. I emailed Brian to say “omg, Nirmala is the Mother of Angel!” And he wrote back to tell me everyone knows this and it’s been discussed at length. Well, at least I had this perspective without any preconceived notions.

I’m having an affair with tea scents this week.

I already wanted Diptyque L’Eau de Tarocco, but after Chandler Burr’s review it seems like a need instead of a want. Did you notice Burr was a little less unruly in his review of L’Eau de Tarocco – he actually stayed on subject?

I was home alone last night so I spritzed Carnal Flower with abandon. I went to bed in a cloud of green tuberose. I woke up in the same cloud. I swear I could still smell it after this morning’s shower. I <3 Ropion.

I’ve been watching the TV series called Breaking Bad this week. It’s all about misery but it’s so good. I highly recommend it.

Beverage of the week: White Grape Peach juice diluted with spring water (about ½ juice, ½ water) with ice and a lemon wedge.

Don’t forget about Caron Farnesiana – it’s good stuff.

When I read the interview with Ropion on Osmoz it bothered me that his favorite flower/scent note is gardenia. I guess I like gardenia but it’s never something I seek. It’s usually so heavy and cloying. It can smell like cheese ;-/

I’m sure you’ve heard the Napolean/Josephine tale where he tells her he’s coming home soon (from battle) so he asks that she “not bathe” (for ~3 weeks). I can’t even imagine how different our culture is today. We shower daily, use deodorant, brush teeth – we essentially do everything possible to remove our own human odor. Can you imagine not bathing for 3 weeks? And loving this smell on another person? I’m not judging, just amazed.

A new show starring Edie Falco starts on Showtime in a week or so. It’s called Nurse Jackie and I’ll definitely give it a try.

Why was Sleeper Cell canceled? (this was years ago). It was such a good series. And yet, Lost, and Prison Break and 24 go on and on into complete implausibility (apologies to the fans).

Sandwich of the week: Fresh chicken breast (from leftover roast chicken, not deli meat), on wheat bread (sans crust) with wasabi mayo, arugula and garlic salt.

What would I do with myself if I had one signature scent and didn’t think about perfume all the time? Would I better myself?

Why are Houbigant Quelques Violettes and Quelques Fleurs L’Original in my shopping cart at BeautyEncounter? I keep putting them there and then closing the page. I haven’t sniffed either of these btw.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

In which I admit to loving Cabotine de Gres

I think about perfume altogether too much. In one of my most recent ruminations, I decided that it’s somewhat uncool to admire certain perfumes created between 1985 and the present unless they’re from infamous houses like Guerlain or Chanel or unless they’re niche.

There are lots of great mainstream fragrances created between 1985 and today that just don’t get much respect. Take for instance, a perfume launched in 1989; this was 20 years ago, its too recent to be considered classic yet far enough in the past to seem dated, and it potentially reminds us of high school or of some other person or time in our lives. There are so many fragrances that I feel slightly ashamed of adoring that were created during this time period. For instance, Amarige (shame), Byblos (shame), Diva (shame), Poison (shame), Rochas Byzance (shame), Cristobal by Balenciaga (shame) Dior Dune (shame) get the picture.

Cabotine de Gres, 1990, is one of these shameful perfumes for me. But I’m coming out and admitting that I love Cabotine. Even in the face of LT’s review in The Guide, which gives it 1 star and a 2 word sum-up of “nasty floral.”

Cabotine de Gres actually reminds me of LouLou. No, it doesn’t smell anything like LouLou, but it has that “LouLou style,” a certain unmistakeably potent and dramatic femininity. Cabotine is a bright, green, fresh, gingery floral. I’ve read that Cabotine is and ode to ginger lily, though I have never smelled an actual ginger lily flower and an online search confused me more than anything as to exactly what a ginger lily looks and smells like.

According to basenotes, Cabotine's listed notes are the following:
Top – peach, plum, cassie, tagete, green notes, coriander
Middle – ylang-ylang, rose, tuberose, jasmine, heliotrope, orris, carnation
Base – cedar, vetiver, musk, tonka bean, amber, vanilla, civet

After reading this list of notes, I don’t find Cabotine particularly sweet or fruity, nor do I think it smells like a sum of it’s parts. Cabotine is a synthetic (as opposed to realistic & natural) perfumey aroma – it hits you like a wall of Cabotine. To me, it’s a green floral with a slight ginger and carnation-spice quality. Cabotine is abstract and linear, it starts off exactly the way it ends up, 18 hours later or at the point of your next shower. Cabotine was created by Jean-Claude Delville and as I scan his list of work I think Cabotine is probably his best. Delville also created Clinique’s Happy (surely a best-seller) and Paris Hiltons’ Can Can (sigh). Admittedly, Cabotine does have an element of “fabric softener clean,” but I love it nonetheless. It’s still a unique fragrance even if there’s a hint of fabric softener.

So, there you have it – I love Cabotine. It’s fresh, it’s green, it’s unique, and it’s cheap. I even have 3 tubes of the shower gel, which makes for a zesty shower, and the body lotion.

And the bottle is fantastic, which is, apparently, a green afro-head of flowers.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sit down, have a spot of tea. Bulgari tea, that is.

In warm weather I drink a lot of iced tea and I enjoy perfumes with tea notes. I especially love Bulgari’s trio of teas, which includes Au The Verte, Au The Blanc and Au The Rouge.

All three, let’s call them Verte, Blanc and Rouge for short, start off beautifully, develop nicely and then largely disappear within 3 hours (Verte and Blanc are the most fleeting, Rouge sticks around the longest). If you apply lavishly as I do you might find the scents lingering on your clothes and hair for much longer.

A very brief description of each: Verte is the most hesperedic/citrus and green, Blanc is the sweetest and most floral, and Rouge is the most strongly tea-like, tangy, sweet, figgy and spicy.

Many reviews I’ve read suggest that Rouge doesn’t even smell like tea, or rooibos (red tea), as it’s meant to evoke. For me, it starts off exactly like Celestial Seasonings Red Zinger tea, which my Mom drank when I was a kid. My Mom is a tea aficionado so I’ve definitely tasted and smelled my share of weirdly exotic loose leaf teas. I suppose some might say Bulgari Rouge smells like rotting leaves or vegetation, which is probably true, if you don’t really know what tea smells like. I prefer Rouge, out of the three, because it’s the most zesty and strange.

Rouge begins like dead-on rooibos tea, with all it’s tart tangy tannic qualities and a mound of dry hay baking in the late summer sun. I’m amazed at how exactly they’ve captured tea in the top notes of Rouge – if I have the bottle nearby I love re-applying it to get the strong tea-like rush over and over again. Once you move into the heart notes, Rouge exhibits a creamy fig note with dashes of sandalwood and pepper. The creaminess makes sense to me, because the traditional way to serve rooibos tea in South Africa, where it’s most popular, is with milk and sugar. Once Rouge dries down, it becomes reminiscent of sweet, woody hay with spicy figs and the memory of tea.

Rouge is rounder, richer and stranger than the other two Bulgari tea scents. If you’re looking for something different, with a striking tea note, that can be worn in the summer heat, give this a shot.

I wish Bulgari would package these three tea scents as a set, maybe 15 ml bottles of each. This might be the one perfume gift that my Mom would actually like.

Bulgari Au The Rouge was created by Olivier Polge in 2005.
The notes are listed as: bergamot, orange, pink pepper, fig pulp, Roiboos red tea, Yunnan red tea, walnut and musk

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

We Love Fruity Florals

I especially enjoy Angela’s reviews over at Now Smell This. Recently she wrote a piece on Keiko Mecheri Passiflora, which spawned many comments on how fruity florals can be wonderful and how we shouldn’t unilaterally pan this category due to it’s (clears throat) sheer abundance. There are, indeed, many wonderful fruity florals and I’ve been thinking about this over the past month every time someone writes a disparaging comment about fruity florals on the various blogs and fora.

I realize fruity floral scents tend to multiply in spades, but even so, there are so many great one's.

Here are some of my favorites:

Badgley Mischka ~ BIG, gorgeous fruity extravaganza. Still a very real and serious perfume.

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese ~ effervescent basil, lemon, melon and peach on a bed of oakmoss. Gorgeous.

Teo Cabanel Julia ~ Tart fruity floral. Alahine (ambery oriental) and Oha (dark rose) are the two most discussed from Teo Cabanel but Julia is lovely for the summertime. Julia has a nice blackcurrant & rhubarb scent that I love.

Yves Saint Laurent Yvresse ~ Fruit champagne (Yvresse was originally named Champagne).

Parfums de Nicolaï Balkis ~ Tart roses, blackberries and cream.

Ava Luxe Johri ~ Johri is really interesting and nice. It’s mostly green and hesperedic; with figs and creamy coconut milk. Johri strikes me as joyous and great for the summer.

Jean Patou Colony ~ Green, leathery, animalic pineapple – what’s not to love?

Histoires de Parfum 1804 ~ technically 1804 is a floral oriental but there are strong fruity notes. Because pineapple is such a rare note in perfumery I tend to think of this as an homage to JP’s Colony. 1804 is a gorgeous scent with notes of pineapple, peach, gardenia, jasmine and cloves; on a bed of sandalwood, musk, vanilla and pathouli.

Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte ~ Starts off like sticky fruit syrup but dries down to a lovely, cozy scent with blackcurrant, mimosa, chocolate and vanilla.

Keiko Mecheri Ume ~ Not sure if this counts as a fruity floral because it’s actually a woody plum. Ume is a dry fragrance, focused on Japanese plum, with a base of woods.

Keiko Mecheri Peau de Peche ~ with notes of white peach, orris, sandalwood and amber, Peau de Peche is a beautiful velvety fragrance meant to mimic the scent of peach skin. Peau de Peche is dry and woody, not fruity and juicy, and not especially sweet. This one is great.

What are your favorite fruity florals?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa

I had no idea I was longing for a sweet pink rose scent, so dewy and innocent. All this time I’ve avoided the YSL Paris and Drole de Rose variety of rose fragrances and then I try Rose de Siwa and I have to sit down lest I fall and hit my head in mid-swoon.

Rose de Siwa quenches my thirst. It envelopes me in moist rose kisses. It is so delicately girly and beautiful. It is a caress on the cheek from a velvety pink rose petal.

This can’t be me writing this. I must be having a nervous breakdown. I’m the gal who likes Frederic Malle Une Rose, Diptyque L’Ombre dans L’Eau and Ungaro Diva.

Rose de Siwa would be categorized in the same fruity floral rose-violet-peony category of scents as Bond No. 9 Chelsea Flowers, Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, Creed Spring Flowers, Vera Wang Truly Pink and Les Parfums Rosine Roseberry. I do not wear any of these fragrances, I’m over the age of 22, it’s just not my thing.

But, Rose de Siwa is breathtaking. It easily surpasses all of these other fruity rose scents. Rose de Siwa is the purest, fairest rose I’ve ever smelled. Francis Kurkdjian is the cause of all this. And I read that he doesn’t even like working with rose scents. I think this makes me like Rose de Siwa even more, like it’s an unwanted child, left on my doorstep in a basket, that I’ll gladly take in and care for. I’ll put pink ribbons in her hair, and dress her up in the cutest pink gingham outfits, oh we’ll have so much fun me and little Rosie de Siwa.

Yes, it’s definitely a nervous breakdown or some sort of midlife crisis. But nevertheless, Rose de Siwa is stunning. It contains lychee! And I still love it.

Rose de Siwa is the truest sweet pink rose in fragrance form. There’s nothing soapy or powdery – all you need to do is bend down, feel the heft of the petals in your hand and inhale deeply.

Sometimes a pink rose, and only a pink rose, is all that's necessary.

Notes: Lychee, peony, hawthorn, Turkish and Moroccan roses, violet, cedar, musk, vetiver

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A weekend voyage through violets

It was barely 16 months ago when I listed violet as one of the notes I disliked. I met Brian in a chat room and now I have at least a dozen violet fragrances. I started with L’Heure Bleue, and while I grew to tolerate it, it never became a love of mine. This should give you a glimpse of the type of violet fragrances I like, since I don’t like L’Heure Bleue, or anything candy sweet, powdery and old school.

Last year I wrote that the Indies saved violet for me, and this is still very much the case. It’s the dirty, dark, edgy and also fresh, woody and green violet perfumes that draw me in. It doesn't seem to have received the most positive feedback, but Brian and I both loved the brutally assertive violet/tar of Creed Love in Black. Comme des Garcons + Stephen Jones is another fun violet fragrance, mixing the usually innocent violet note with the scent of meteorites. Since I’ve been doing so much violet research, I’ve noticed that I’m now enjoying the violet soliflore variety much more. Penhaligon’s Violetta, in particular, is a beautifully refreshing violet scent. Without further adieux, here are some brief reviews of six violet fragrances I’ve been wearing and evaluating lately.

(alphabetical order)

Borsari Violetta di Parma. Oh, the box and bottle are so pretty and this is violet perfection for so many, but for me, this is violets in melted plastic.

Caron Violette Preceiuse. Caron’s violet is surprisingly good. This is a dark, sweet, spicy violet. It has excellent longevity and brings to mind a chaise lounge made of deep purple crushed velvet. It’s not girly but elegant and full of depth and intrigue.

Histoires de Parfum Blanc Violette. I had such high hopes for Blanc Violette, because I’ve found many excellent fragrances from Histoires. Perhaps I’m anosmic to several musks because I couldn’t smell anything from Annick Goutal Musc Nomade or Hermes Gentiane Blanche – these were like water on my skin. Blanc Violette is a brief moment of a pale powdery violet that vanishes into thin air on me.

L’Artisan Verte Violette. L’Artisan’s violet is what I had hoped Borsari’s would be. Verte Violette is not green so the name is misleading. L’Artisan’s VV is somehow “chewy” and seems to have a physical texture as if I’ve been enveloped in a cloud of swirling violets. I believe the aspect I enjoy so much is heliotrope, which gives L’Artisan VV a delicious slightly sweet, yet creamy quality. Verte Violette, like most L’Artisan fragrances, is fleeting so that’s a major disappointment. I apply about 15 sprays and can usually smell it until lunch.

Penhaligon’s Violetta. I don’t have any other loves from Penhaligon but their Violetta is great. It’s an assertively fresh, green and woody take on violet that leans toward the masculine. This isn’t one of those old school candy-sweet-powder violets but instead an almost bracing violet. I love this stuff. This is the bottle I dropped on the floor that smashed to bits. I bought another one straight away. That’s sayin’ something.

Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette. Somehow an alphabetical list still managed to save the best for last. SSS Voile de Violette makes me swoon. This isn’t even my usual favorite kind of violet, it’s not dark or edgy but it’s so luscious, ripe and beautiful I can’t help myself. Voile de Violette is fruity, like plum jam blended with larger than life violets. Voile de Violette makes me feel simply joyous when I wear it. Voile de Violette has base notes of cedar, musk and vetiver which I’m guessing manage to perfectly anchor the fragrance and give it depth and interest. It’s sweet but just the right amount, not candy sweet and the longevity is excellent.

Looks like the Indies are still saving violet fragrances for me. My favorites remain Liz Zorn’s Domino Viole’, Ava Luxe Midnight Violet, Neil Morris Spectral Violet and now I can add Sonoma Scent Studio Voile de Violette to the list. Not indie but excellent are Penhaligon’s, Caron and L’Artisan.

Photo artist: Ann Garrett

Friday, May 22, 2009

TWRT 5.22.09

This Week's Random Thoughts ~

Not only am I a Trekkie geek but I love American Idol. I’ve been watching AI since Season 3. I was shocked Adam Lambert didn’t win. Kris Allen?? If not Adam, then I would have picked Alison or Danny. I’m not as upset by Adam not winning as I was the year Bo Bice didn’t win, though.

I had some drama this week with Parfums de Nicolaï Mimosaique. There were a few days when I was devastated because I’d been told it was discontinued. I called their main boutique in Paris and ordered a few bottles in a frenzy. I had already called Beauty Habit and Luckyscent who both told me the scent was dc’ed. Then I heard that due to popular demand Luckyscent will be restocking Mimosaique again. ((Relief)). I’m in a much better place now.

I really don’t think of myself as a perfume snob. When I write several reviews in a row of very expensive perfumes it makes me feel bad. I promise to review something inexpensive this weekend. Because I believe, down to my very core, that the price of a perfume has nothing to do with how good it is.

This week my dogs wore Demeter Honey and it smelled great on them.

I finally got a sample of Amouage Ubar. It’s not what I expected. I haven’t decided what I think of it yet.

I read on POL that L’Artisan is having financial troubles. I often criticize L’Artisan fragrances for their lack of decent longevity and sillage. At the sudden prospect of L’Artisan not existing or drastically reducing their offerings I suddenly realized that I really like several of their perfumes. I don’t think I’m in the minority but I think if they used a better fixative, one that made their fragrances last like Estee Lauder (cannot even scrub EL off!) more people would buy L’Artisan perfumes. It’s the fleeting nature that causes me to balk at their prices. The perfumes themselves are beautiful.

Salad of the week: Cobb

Guerlain Cologne du 68 is the most practical scent I’ve ever smelled. It’s the closest thing to a skin scent that I like.

Diptyque Oyedo is an amazingly bracing and fresh grapefruit scent. Don’t forget about this one in the heat. It’s grapefruit + minty green herbal zest.

I absolutely love the shape of gingko leaves and want a tree in my yard.

Perhaps it’s obvious but Jean Claude Ellena is not among my favorite perfumers. JCE is a minimalist and I’m crazy about “maximalist” fragrances.

I no longer read Booker Prize winning novels. I’ve come to find that Booker Prize winning novels are essentially incoherent and I have to force myself to finish reading them. Books like The English Patient, The God of Small Things, and Amsterdam were pretty dreadful for me. I did, however, enjoy Life of Pi and Disgrace very much. Also, Fingersmith, written by Sarah Waters was a darn good yarn and this was nominated for a Booker but didn’t win. Ok, maybe I won’t entirely write-off Booker Prize winners, but I’ll hesitate before reading.

Have a fragrant weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Parfums MDCI Un Coeur en Mai

Parfums MDCI is a perfume house for fragrance fanatics. They are making brilliantly beautiful, classically styled perfumes that smell as if they’re using the highest quality ingredients. Parfums MDCI may be expensive, but rest assured, if you fall for one of their gems, you’ll probably overcome the sticker shock. Plus, you can always choose the less expensive bottle, the refill without the bisque stopper. I purchased one of their sampler sets (directly from Parfums MDCI in France, an amazingly good deal) and am working my way through all of their scents. I fell really hard for Un Coeur en Mai, one of their newest creations, composed by Patricia Nicolaï. It’s simply breathtaking, in a beautiful, flawlessly executed manner.

Un Coeur en Mai is strongly reminiscent of Guerlain’s Chamade. I’m actually surprised LT didn’t point this out in Perfumes: The Guide, suggesting that Chamade has already been done, and done better, so why bother with Un Coeur en Mai? Un Coeur en Mai is a greenish floral, also a bit similar to Patricia Nicolaï’s Le Temps d’une Fete, from Parfums de Nicolaï. Yes, its obvious Un Coeur en Mai has some predecessors, so it’s not groundbreaking or unusual, but boy, oh, boy is it gorgeous. For the past three days I’ve been wearing three perfumes; Un Coeur en Mai, Chamade and Le Temps d’une Fete (on separate spots to compare). Hopefully these three fragrances are similar enough to those around me so they don’t think I smell like a fragrance disaster.

My take is this: Un Coeur en Mai is essentially a modern flanker to Chamade. It’s like Eau Premier or Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus, both well done modern versions of their original fragrances. I realize Un Coeur en Mai is from the house of Parfums MDCI so it cannot be considered a flanker to Chamade, but it most certainly is an homage or tribute to the classic Chamade. As far as similarity between Un Coeur en Mai and Le Temps d’une Fete, while I do love Le Temps, I’m now finding Le Temps unkempt and rustic (while more appealing for some) in comparison to the flawlessly beautiful Un Coeur en Mai.

For the record, I like the beginning of Chamade better than Un Coeur en Mai. The initial aldehydic-galbanum blast of Chamade can’t be beat. But, like the story of the tortoise and the hare, Un Coeur en Mai is the tortoise, slowly winning me over, and especially by the end (the dry down) Un Coeur wins.

Un Coeur is a sweeter and gentler Chamade. The start is rather fruity floral and full of hyacinth and lily of the valley. Beyond this, I don’t find the specific notes detectable, aside from being able to label Un Coeur a fresh, green, slightly sweetly white floral. It is not too sweet by any means, and also don’t be afraid of the lily of the valley note, it’s not sickening or pungent or too innocent, as some lily of the valley scents can be. There may be some among us who don’t find Un Coeur interesting enough or may call it “boring.” I definitely have days when I crave an interesting fragrance, something edgy and unusual, but I also have just as many days when I want to wear something simply gorgeous, and Un Coeur en Mai is just that, flawlessly perfect, especially for spring and summer.

I’m enjoying every moment of Un Coeur en Mai and am now having a heck of a time deciding being purchasing a full bottle of it or Enlevement au Serail...or others from MDCI as I work my way through their fragrances.

Notes: Hyacinth, lily of the valley, petitgrain, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, galbanum, black currant, melon, Moroccan mimosa, Bourbon geranium, black pepper, coriander, musk, precious woods

On Coffee and Booze: A*Men, Pure Malt (Cafe Noir, Michael for Men, and 1740)

I've never been much of a whiskey fan. Actually, I can't stand the stuff. I'm just not the patched elbow sort, nor do my fantasies revolve around leather armchairs, dark paneled libraries, chauffeured limos, smoking jackets, or prince nez, so I was a little disappointed when I heard that the latest seasonal flanker to Thierry Mugler's A*Men would venture into this infinitely stuffy territory, especially after the letdown, this time last year, of Pure Coffee.

Pure Malt, according to the company's ad copy, is "an innovation in perfumery," honoring "the tradition of Scotland's peaty whiskeys with its smoky and sensual woody accents. The result is a surprising fragrance of elegance and sophistication in which several malts collide." There's also talk of truly noble and refined masculinity, whatever that means. None of it sounded very thrilling to me, and yet, I kept returning to the Macy's counter over the last several weeks to see if the shipment had arrived.

I'd adjusted my expectations to "diminished", but was excited despite myself, and when I finally smelled Pure Malt I was a little...bored by it. I suppose I wanted it to upset my cynicism with some shocking quality I couldn't have expected to expect. Turns out, Pure Malt is just a great men's fragrance, but it took me a week of wearing it to remind me that in a world of marine scents and faux woody yawn-prompts, decent is hardly chopped liver. Spending time with Pure Malt, I remembered my first reactions to the original A*Men and, after it, B*Men. Both failed to thrill me upon initial application. Now I love them, and wouldn't want to be out of stock.

People's reactions to A*Men still surprise me. This tends to happen a lot with perfumes I love. They seem so unquestionably fantastic to me that the idea anyone might be less than floored by them seems inconceivable. The most frequent complaint against A*Men is its patchouli/chocolate/coffee cocktail. For those who hate this trifecta, the addition of caramel can't help. Me, I adore the combination. Something about the addition of lavender takes the fragrance to unexpected places, away from food into fresh, adding depth and tension. A*Men has great (correction: killer) longevity, which might be part of the problem. Patchouli haters aren't typically excited about a patchouli note which sticks it out to the bitter end, straight into the morning after.

Interestingly, Pure Coffee had many fans. The perception seems to be that it improved upon the overzealous mistakes of A*Men original, as if the people who had suffered through A*Men deserved an apology, but I found it to be a pale variation, too similar by far to merit a purchase. It smelled like coffee for all of four minutes, after which it smelled like A*Men lite. I much prefer the infinitely more tenacious Cafe Noir by Ava Luxe, which is a more streamlined, bare boned impression of coffee and lavender making nice, more long-lasting than Pure Coffee, drier and brisker than A*Men original, making them both bottle-worthy, rather than interchangeable.

Pure Malt is smooth, and long-lasting--and who knew malt would be such a nice compliment to the caramel undertones of A*Men? As for the woods, not so much, unless I'm just immune to what people consider woodsy at this point, having been pummeled over the head with it so often. Pure Malt reminds me a lot of Michael by Michael Kors. Michael is a cruder iteration of Pure Malt's agenda, but I'm a sucker for what Tania Sanchez calls a cheap and cheerful fragrance, and Michael has always fit the bill. Malt isn't listed in the notes but Michael gives off a rich, boozy vibe, mixing tobacco, patchouli, incense, and dried fruits with the herbal inluence of coriander, cardamom, tarragon, and thyme. Like A*Men original, Michael lasts for days, drying down into a deep, complex patchouli-dominated accord, but it has its own distinct character, much of which I suspect is due to the weird combination of shriveled prune and frankincense.

Pure Malt is subtle and smooth, and primarily a skin scent. Typically, skin scents are a pass for me. But I'm reaching for Pure Malt a lot, and I think this has to do with the fact that, though subtle, it projects in a curious way, wafting up as a glass of whiskey might from the tabletop. You can't beat the price. 70 bucks for 3.4 ounces is some kind of miracle for a new fragrance these days, even at Victoria's Secret. I'm not sure I would have spent more on Pure Malt, but I'm happy with it. The smell puts a smile on my face. It smells like a classic men's cologne but, like Histoires de Parfums' sublime 1740, it manages to transcend the category without trashing it. Far removed from the library, Pure Malt calls to mind a good pint of lager, fireside at the pub, the very faint smell of cigar in the background, a smoked aroma coming off the nearby grill, and not altogether unpleasant trace odors of the dog someone left tied to the tree outside. That's a fantasy I can wrap my mind around.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine: A Review

Histoires de Parfums is an interesting niche line who have created a fragrance library with each scent focused on historical figures. The majority of HdP’s fragrances are date named (1804, 1873) and focus on a charismatic personality at that time (George Sand, Colette, Mata Hari, etc). Within Histoires’ scent library they’ve created three “soliloquies,” which are soliflores and different from the rest of their collection. One of the soliflores is called Vert Pivoine which translates to Green Peony in English.

I’ve been searching for a peony scent that captures the delicate beauty of this flower for a very long time. I grew up in New Engand where peonies seem to be a late spring tradition. Peonies are quite hardy in New England where everyone in suburbia grows massive clumps of these flowers, in either white, pink, fuschia or crimson. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smooshed my face into a big plump peony wishing I could bottle the smell, somehow capture this magnificent aroma forever. The fragrance of peonies, ahhhhhhh, it’s the essence of being alive.

I was very nervous to try Vert Pivoine because my hopes were high – I figured if a quality niche outfit like Histoires couldn’t do it – then who could? Well, Vert Pivoine comes very, very close to capturing the gorgeous scent of a big plush peony. I’ll give it a 9/10 because somehow, the gorgeous aroma of the peony just doesn’t translate fully into perfume, there’s always a little bit of the wondrous aroma that’s missing. Vert Pivoine is a naturalistic rendition, it includes the green stems and leaves, slightly woody and earthy notes, the soft petals along with some other lovely floral and berry notes. Vert Pivoine does come the closest to a true peony than I’ve ever experienced before, it’s light and sheer and true to the flower. Even though it’s named “Green Peony” I don’t find the fragrance particularly green, it’s a smidgen green, but not strongly. Once Vert Pivoine dries down it’s a soft and dreamy floral. Just a tip, I find the fragrance much more long lasting and reminiscent of peony when applied lavishly. The longevity is average so I apply at least 5-6 sprays which gives me a nicer sillage, which is important because I really do want to smell this lovely aroma wafting about me for most of the day.

List of notes for Vert Pivoine include: peony, green leaves, rose, mimosa, gardenia, red berries, sandalwood, cedar, musk, and vanilla. (peony is listed in the top, middle and basenotes)

I purchased mine from MioMia, which is one of the few boutiques to carry Histoires de Parfums in the U.S.A

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Parfum d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite: A Review

Parfum d’Empire has won my heart. I’ve purchased a few of their fragrances and loved every single one. My latest obsession, and I really mean obsession because I’ve worn it for four days straight (seriously, do you know how rare this is?!) is Osmanthus Interdite.

Parfum d’Empire create fragrances inspired by various historical empires. Osmanthus Interdite uses the Chinese empire as it’s inspiration. Osmanthus is a small mildly sweet flower native to Asia and smells akin to a citrusy, fruity floral iced tea with apricots.

Before Osmanthus Interdite became firmly entrenched in my summer fragrance wardrobe I already had Ormonde Jayne’s Osmanthus and Keiko Mecheri Osmanthus. I do not have, nor have I smelled, Hermes Osmanthus Yunnan. Once I wore Osmanthus Interdite (OI), Ormande Jayne’s Osmanthus (OJ) was knocked out of rotation. I'll continue to wear Keiko Mecheri’s Osmanthus because it’s a different style, mostly an osmanthus soliflore with a stronger floral presence while OI is complex and multi-layered.

In a side by side comparison, Ormonde Jayne’s Osmanthus has a heavy dose of pepper (pimento is listed as a top note) which just doesn’t work for me now that I’ve smelled the brilliantly creamy and smooth OI. Osmanthus Interdite starts with a citrusy, fruity opening that quickly steps aside allowing the unfurling of a tobacco leaf, tea leaves and leather. I was immediately blown away by the beauty of this fragrance. It’s such a delightful, sunny, carefree, sheer scent yet there are dark shadows and intrigue. These are just shadows, mind you, because the overall fragrance is absolutely joyous and uplifting. The tea notes and the mildly sweet quality of osmanthus keep the fragrance crisp and decidedly refreshing for summertime enjoyment.

Sillage is light but present and longevity is very good.
Notes are listed as: green tea, citrus, osmanthus, rose, jasmine, musk and leather

Rating: 5 stars (swooning)
Longevity: very good about 5 hours
Sillage: soft but present

What I'm Loving Lately: Nathan Branch's Photos

I'm not totally uninterested in fashion and the luxury industry. Just a few months ago, I bought a dictionary of fashion designers and terms (to help, I told myself, when writing, say, a Dior or a Norell perfume review). I returned the book a few weeks later, because (surprise) I needed the money for perfume--but the general curiosity is there. Reading Nathan's website I understand how people who think they love perfume but have never (or not yet) heard of Lutens or L'Artisan or, less likely still, Parfumerie Generale or Andy Tauer, must feel when reading my detailed posts about perfumers. It's all a bit over my head--but a fascinating glimpse into a parallel universe. If I'm going to learn about how hard the current economy is on watch/timepiece retailers, it's going to be from Branch. Somehow, he endows the subject with poetic significance.
What I really love are his photos of perfume bottles, which are like nothing I've ever seen. Does he take these himself? It's hard to imagine--not because I doubt his technical skills but because the bottles seem to have been photographed with the kind of clarity and illumination that only fantasy or CGI effects can achieve. Why doesn't the fragrance industry photograph perfume this way? It never occurred to me until I saw these photos. They're photographed as if just received in the mail, surrounded by their packaging and even, sometimes, the paper they came wrapped in, capturing that exciting moment any pefume lover knows, when, after days of waiting and false alarms, "the package" arrives.

Nathan understands how wonderful that feeling is, how weirldly momentous. The day drops away, all the stress, the distractions, the anxiety, and what you're left with is a zeroing-in feeling; the world goes dim. All the light gets sucked up by the bottle, which burns with a golden intensity, part sunshine, part emotion. It isn't just the bottle itself but opening it, feeling it, weighing it in your hand.

The photos pinpoint the architectural splendor of these bottles, too. Tom Ford's Private Blend Italian Cypress looks like something out of Bauhaus; i.e. a work of art. Caron Infini is a marvel of cubism; light and shadow animate its angles, shifting them into ever new kinetic configurations. Branch looks at these bottles and sees what's interesting from every angle; then he shows you, in just the right way, so that you understand what you're seeing and taking for granted.He emphasizes the way the box containing Luxe Patchouli opens up like a cyborgian blossom, making the bottle the flower's equally angular pistil. He shows all the care and personality that go into bottling a Liz Zorn perfume, and how special receiving one can be, using the colored wrapping paper packaging a bottle of Tobacco and Tulle to depict the fragrance as something which magically appears in a cloud of burgundy smoke, like a rabbit out of a magician's hat.

Branch foregrounds the detailing on a bottle of Etro Messe de Minuit, that relief at the base and on the cap, finding in the liquid that quality of light coming through high cathedral windows when the sun sets, the feeling of solitude you're struck with inside these spaces. The ribbon which wraps Shalini's large box snakes around the bottle once the box has been opened, expressing how, even once you've separated the bottle from its packaging, the packaging influences your experience of the fragrance, setting a stage or the tone for your engagement with it.

Nathan's photos make fragrance seem like a gift from God, and I check them out regularly to remind myself just how mystical fragrance really is. See what I mean?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Fabulous Blog Award

We received the F*ck!ng Fabulous Blog award from two lovely bloggers; Divina from Fragrance Bouquet and Ines from All I Am – A Redhead. Believe me, we’re incredibly complimented and blushing.

According to the rules we have to post five of our own fabulous addictions and present the award to 5 more blogs that we consider, well, fabulous! We’re going to go ahead and award 10 blogs since we lucked out and got nods from both Divina and Ines.

Instructions and Rules:
1. You have to pass it (the award) on to 5 other fabulous blogs in a post.
2. You have to list 5 of your fabulous addictions in the post.
3. You must copy and paste the rules and the instructions below in the post.
Instructions: On your post of receiving this award, make sure you include the person that gave you the award and link it back to them. When you post your five winners, make sure you link them as well. To add the award to your post, simply right-click, save image, then “add image” it in your post as a picture so your winners can save it as well. To add it to your sidebar, add the “picture” widget. Also, don’t forget to let your winners know they won an award from you by emailing them or leaving a comment on their blog.

Abigail’s 5 F*ck!ng Fabulous Addictions:

Aside from perfume...

1. Evian water. I’m never without a bottle no matter where I am. I realize Evian is Naïve spelled backwards, I’ve been told many times.
2. My 2 little dogs. We have full blown conversations all the time.
3. Laptop. Don’t know what I’d do without the internet.
4. Pedicures. Biweekly year ‘round. Currently obsessed with Rescue Beauty Lounge nail polish and wearing “smitten
5. Cigarettes, booze and loose men.

We'd love to give this award to the following 5 (x2) fabulous blogs:
1. Perufme Smellin Things (Marina)
2. Perfume Critic (Marlen)
3. Everything is Interesting (Julie)
4. 1000 Fragrances (Octavian)
5. PeredePierre (Dane, Mark, Thomas, Normand)
6. Rocketqueen (Linn)
7. Indie Perfumes (Lucy)
8. The Non Blonde (Gaia)
9. Scent Hive (Trish)
10. And a reciprical award to Frangrance Bouquet and All I Am – A Redhead

TWRT 5.15.09

This Week's Random Thoughts ~

I have officially managed to dive into my spring/summer scents. Every year I make this switch kicking and screaming because my heart belongs to heavy chypres and orientals that are best worn in cold weather. But once the weather turns hot and muggy I just have to change gears. And, for the first 6-8 weeks, I love it. I’ll start complaining about being tired of fresh-light-scents by mid-July for sure. By August I’ll be cravvvving woods and orientals but the weather will stay nearly tropical here until at least mid-September. One chypre I can wear this time of year is Y by YSL. Thank goodness for Y. Oh, and lest I forget, another nice chypre for summer is Ava Luxe Mousse de Chine.

This week has been all about osmanthus for me. I’ve rotated 3 osmanthus perfumes every single day – Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus, Keiko Mecheri Osmanthus and Parfum d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite (some days wearing all 3 at once for comparison). No, I don’t have Hermes Osmanthus Yunann (yet).

I answered the door for the UPS delivery guy (box of perfume of course!) and was wearing Annick Goutal Folavril. The UPS guy said “you smell so good, what is that?!” Like he really meant it – he just needed to know. So I told him the name, and got a blank stare. I said it was supposed to smell a bit like a tomato plant. He said “It doesn’t smell like that, but it smells really really good!”

The Office: The Michael/Holly angst is tearing at my heart strings. I want Holly back.

Luca Turin calls mimosa an “unsophisticated flower” in Perfumes: The Guide. I wonder what makes a flower sophisticated? Do flowers have good lineage, charm, grace and intellect that I’m unaware of?

I found out my HG mimosa scent, Parfums de Nicolaï Mimosaique, is discontinued. Thankfully I was able to order a few bottles directly from PdN boutique in Paris (pffew!).

For the first time in my life, I dropped a full bottle of perfume and it smashed to smithereens on the kitchen tile. It was good that I ended up liking the scent, because my kitchen and foyer ended up smelling like it for days. It was Penhaligon’s Violetta, which is a darn good violet solifore; a fresh, green and masculine leaning violet.

Beverage of the week: raspberry iced tea, with lemonade ice cubes and sprigs of fresh mint. Which reminds me; I used to love Snapple’s Mint iced tea, until I realized how many calories were in those bottles. I don’t believe Snapple ever produced a diet Mint tea, but I doubt I would have liked it. Oftentimes “diet” just doesn’t work for beverages other than soda. I need to figure out how to make my own version of Snapple’s Mint iced tea, perhaps using Splenda, which I like.

I received the sampler pack from Parfums MDCI on Monday. My package arrived within 7 business days and the samples are really huge – I’d guess 10-15 ml. I’m planning to spend time with each of them this weekend. I can’t underscore what a fantastic deal I think this is!

I’m looking forward to trying Washington Tremlett’s Clove Absolute, Tauer’s Une Rose Chypree, and Amouage Ubar – all of which are on their way to me (samples, not full bottles, I’m not that out of control).

I’m so impressed with Parfum d’Empire. I think they are my favorite line this week.

Luckyscent seems to be taking over the perfume world. They have added so many new lines lately. I’m glad the economy doesn’t seem to be impacting niche perfumes.

Either Rochas Tocade has been dreadfully reformulated or it’s always smelled like Pink Sugar and I didn’t realize it. I got a new bottle from the Parfum1 sale and thought it was horrible when I smelled it. Its verrrry sweet and like a cotton candy vanilla – all traces of rose are gone.

Sandwich of the week: Proscuitto with fresh mozzarella and fig jam. Mm, mm, good.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ava Luxe Frangipani: A Review

I’m not an expert on the scent of frangipani flowers. I know they’re tropical blossoms also known as plumeria whose scent has been a popular Bath & Body Works type fragrance for soaps, lotions and the like for awhile now. I have Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipani, which is beautiful, yet a tad too fleeting for me. I also had Chantecaille’s Frangipane which I liked quite a lot but gifted it to someone else because I didn’t wear it often enough.

I did a quick scan of the blogs, basenotes, POL and MUA to see what the general consensus is on Ava Luxe Frangipani. For the most part, folks seem to think Ava Luxe does a decent rendition of Frangipani but that other higher end niche brands do it better. I’m exactly the opposite. I think for virtually half the price, Ava Luxe makes a frangipani scent that’s beautiful and lasts.

Frangipani is a tropical flower smelling a bit like a fruity indolic jasmine, magnolia or gardenia. It’s native to Mexico, Central and South America, India and Southeast Asia but has thrived in Hawaii to the point that most people think its native to these islands. Frangipani, in nature, has a very sweet, heavily indolic and fruity-floral presence. In most of the Bath & Body Works sort of scents there’s a similarity to Juicy Fruit gum.

Ava Luxe Frangipani smells more heavily indolic than the other Frangipani scents I’ve worn. To me, “indolic” means an overripe note, to the point of being close to decay. Indoles, at one extreme, are found in feces and can smell like feces, but when used minimally in perfumery usually conjure up images of very ripe florals and fruits. I find jasmine, gardenia, magnolia and sometimes orange blossom all have the potential of being particularly indolic scents. Ava Luxe Frangipani is a lovely green tropical frangipani scent. Frangipani absolute is blended with gardenia, tuberose and jasmine to make a particularly lush and intoxicating floral statement. Ava Luxe Frangipani is quite sweet, and very beachy-island-sexy. In style, it reminds me of Monyette Paris, which is another addictively sweet and tropical floral scent. Once Ava Luxe Frangipani dries down, it leans more toward a jasmine-gardenia scent with a base of vanilla, white amber, and cedar, which serve to slightly “cut the sweet” and ground the scent.

I have no explanation but I typically don’t like indolic white florals, however, when they’re done in a lush, over the top style, like Ava Luxe Frangipani, Serge Lutens A La Nuit, Monyette Paris and Serge Lutens Datura Noir...I love them.

Ava Luxe Frangipani is a delicious, sexy, tropical gem. I’ll take this with me on vacation this year and also wear it whenever I need a little island getaway in my mind.

Lancome Poeme

I don't know what it is lately but during the last several months I've been determined to give every fragrance I'm cautioned to avoid a bit more than a fighting chance. Maybe it's a rebellion thing. At school you were told to stay away from bad influences--not just things but people. Didn't it just make you want to follow them like a stray dog?

When I was a kid, I was told that my babysitter's boyfriend was no good, so of course I was all about the guy. I studied the sound of his voice, his expressions, his gestures, watched how the world composed itself around him, went wherever he went, looked forward to his visits while my parents were away. Ultimately, my mom forbid me from even talking to him (though, in retrospect, this might have had more to do with my unhealthy "attachment" than his alleged influence), and oh you should have seen the crying fit I pitched.

I've only recently started to realize how many perfumes I haven't even ventured to sniff simply because someone whose opinion I value (or am at least entertained by) discouraged me from bothering. Chalk this up to being a relative newbie. I had a lot of catching up to do. Naturally, happening onto this little sub-cultural pocket of bliss, one checks out all the consensus "classics" and the cult faves first. That takes a while, and I'm still at it--but, on the hunt for all these sometimes difficult to track down greats, I pass fragrances like Poeme again and again right there at the mall make-up counter. It's only a matter of time before I pick up the bottle.

Actually, judging by the perfume boards, Poeme has its fans. On the other hand, I admit it isn't the most groundbreaking scent I've ever laid nostrils on. However, the truth of its appeal and quality lies somewhere in the middle; meaning it's hardly the monstrosity I've heard it called, and doesn't deserve the kind of derision it sometimes gets. What interests me, more than Poeme's particular merits or demerits, is the phenomenon to which it falls prey, a death by obscurity that many perfectly decent fragrances suffer.

Poeme was made by Jacques Cavallier in 1995, five years after Lancome's bestselling Tresor. That was steep competition, and really, a rich floriental following a radiant rose is always going to have something of an uphill battle, lumbering under the weight of an already stuffed category. Even the company itself can't be counted on to help the thing out. The other day, smelling Poeme for the first time, I was actually directed away from it by the Lancome SA, who suggested Tresor instead. It's better, she exlained, without saying how. I sprayed some of the Poeme on a card before she got to me and walked around with it, surprised at how subtle it was compared to the way I'd heard it described. I liked it better and better, incensed at her hasty dismissal.

Luca Turin lists Poeme alongside Amarige and Spellbound as one of those fragrances that can clear a bus terminal at peak hours, so I expected something magnificently offensive. I'm wearing it today and while it's true that Poeme wafts up from your skin throughout the day, exceeding the lifespan of many a modern perfume, I would say it's tenacious but not offensively strong, unless you're just easily offended and need something to vent your frustration toward. I should also point out that Spellbound is one of my favorites. Silly me. You might expect to me to wear roach spray if it came in a fancy perfume bottle.

I immediately recognized Cavallier's hand in Poeme once I learned he'd created it. I can see suggestions of Shiseido Vocalize in it, as well as Rive Gauche Homme and YSL Cinema, and it is very clearly related to Jean Paul Gaultier Classique for women. Like JPG it smells of cosmetics--eye shadow and pancake foundation--and creates the impression of a woman preparing her face at a vanity, moving hands and hair in a cloud of fragrant powder. What it subtracts is the chemical hiss of fingernail polish. I can't say I miss it, though for me it has its charms in JPG. Interestingly, Perfume: The Guide also dislikes JPG Classique and puts it in the same camp as the above mentioned olfactory "atrocities." I imagine the pressure perfumers are under with a company like Lancome and wonder at how they're able to come up with anything at all, let alone something as nice as Poeme.

Jacques Cavallier doesn't seem to produce many fragrances about which people keep on the fence. M7: discontinued but legendary. Issey Miyake le Feu D'Issey: also discontinued, also legendarily love or hate. YSL Nu is one of the most fantastic peppery floral incense fragrances ever, if you're not one of the people who find it unutterably vile. Then there's Kingdom, which either smells like genital sweat or curried rose and jasmine with a deliciously salty edge. Recently, I tried Armani's Onde Vertige, one of a trio just released by the company. I'd read that Cavallier was responsible for one of them but when I got to the store I couldn't remember which. Guess which one I picked--and to think Maurice Roucel was among the competition. It reminded me how much I love Cavallier without always or even usually knowing why. Poeme has that curious appeal too, and as the day wears on and Poeme sticks with me, why and how matters less and less.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Star Trek 2009 The Movie

Have you seen it?


I wore Divine Le Parfum.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vintage Naturals Mimosa by Demeter

You might have noticed I'm crazy about mimosa in perfumery. I'm also optimistic about new perfume launches. No, I haven't found any scents from Demeter to be full bottle worthy but a new perfume meant to showcase mimosa was a knee-jerk purchase for me.

Well...once again...not a good idea to buy unsniffed.

Vintage Naturals Mimosa smells like a generic white floral. It has better longevity than most Demeter scents, but it simply does not smell like mimosa. Trying to be objective, it's a decent scent, nothing awful about it, but I'm just perturbed that it doesn't smell like mimosa. Sort of like that LaVanilla Lavender Vanilla thing I bought a few months back. That didn't smell like lavender at all. (Loud Sigh)

If you're looking for a new mimosa, do not bother with the new Vintage Naturals Mimosa by Demeter.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Perry Ellis 360 Degrees (Women)

One of the most interesting things about Sophia Grojsman is how weirdly adaptable her style is. Her dimestore and discount outlet work often smells as wonderful as her more expensive compositions. Many people would disagree with me, but in some ways I feel Exclamation, her cheapo study in rose for Coty, is as impressive as Paris, which Yves Saint Laurent sells for at least four times as much--and it might even be more wearable. Do the differences in quality exist mainly in the marketing campaigns? I'm guessing there's an argument to be made.

Granted, some of the things she did which now litter the shelves of TJ Max were once aimed at a higher economic bracket, the best and most ubiquitous example of which might be Perry Ellis 360 Degrees. Like 360, I suspect that most of these fragrances, once they stopped selling like hotcakes, if they ever did sell like hotcakes, were drastically reformulated. Regulations, at the very least, would have tamed them in the last few years alone. I never smelled 360 back in 1993, when it was first released. I have nothing to compare it to. But more than one customer review I found online accused its makers of tampering so severely with it that it might as well be called 180.

It smells pretty damn good to me. The notes includ melon, tangerine, osmanthus, amazon lily, cool blue rose, muguet, lavender, sage, water lily, amber vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, and musk. As we all know by now, the sandalwood will be purely synthetic, which doesn't always imply poor quality but in this case, at 12.99 per ounce, certainly must. It doesn't matter much to me. 360 is an odd little thing: a delicate balance of herbal, floral, fruity, and woody, if you can call anything this robust little. It makes a great masculine, never quite floral, never quite citrus. Like everything Grojsman does, it feels lush and slightly over the top, and outlasts the competition. Like Tentations, which Grojsman did for Paloma Picasso, it's an interesting deviation for her, though I can't pinpoint exactly how. I recognized her hand in it instantly, but unlike many of her compositions, which often feel like only slight variations of each other, it feels as if maybe, just maybe, it could have been made by someone else, or with someone else. Weirdest of all, it gets more instead of less intense as it wears down.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cristalle Eau Verte: A review plus a free sample drawing

Chanel seems to do everything right. There isn’t a fragrance from Chanel’s Les Exclusifs line that I don’t like. I find them fleeting (except Coromandel), which is a major problem, but the scents themselves are all excellent. So here we are in the spring of 2009 with a flanker to Chanel Cristalle called Cristalle Eau Verte. I knew I must have this – unsniffed – and so it was.

Upon receiving Eau Verte I immediately applied the original Cristalle edt on one arm and Eau Verte on the other. Eau Verte is its own perfume, it may share the Cristalle name and a citrusy quality but that’s about all. Eau Verte starts off like a Tanqueray gin & tonic with a dozen limes, a clementine and a lemon. Eau Verte is verdantly citrusy, and juicy limes and citrus are all I smell for the first 5 minutes.

I like Cristalle edt and edp. I wear them both but can’t say that I’m smitten with either of them. Cristalle is a practical fragrance for me, something I’d wear during the warmest months to feel fresh and put together. Cristalle is something I’d wear to the office, but not something I’d wear just because I love the smell. It’s more of a wardrobe basic than a true love. Eau Verte, on the other hand, is a fresh, green citrus that I rather like a lot. Eau Verte smells more contemporary to me, it seems fresher, cleaner and more natural than the original Cristalle, and it doesn’t have that synthetic Chanel aldehydic base that tends to bother me.

The difference between Cristalle and Cristalle Eau Verte is almost exactly like the difference between No. 5 and Eau Premiere. There is a contemporary crispness in Eau Verte that I don’t find in Cristalle, in fact, when I compare the two, Cristalle suddenly smells very 1974. The dry down of Eau Verte is lovely. To me, it smells like citrusy honeysuckles, abstract white florals and fresh spring air. The beautiful floral accord is much more pronounced in Eau Verte than in the original Cristalle. In fact, once dried down, the overall effect of Eau Verte is of a warmer and less sterile/cold white floral with hints of citrus and green. Eau Verte is lovely. I will now wear Eau Verte instead of Cristalle edt and rather than it serving as a basic wardrobe fragrance it will be a personally enjoyable scent.

Eau Verte’s longevity is better than Cristalle edt, lasting about 4-5 hours on me.

If you’re interested in the free drawing, please leave a comment along with your email address. Comments will be accepted until Monday, May 11th, at 5PM US EDT, at which time we'll choose the winner of the 2.5 ML spray sample. Good luck!

Y by Yves Saint Laurent: Chypre-perfection

I’m considering a group called “CA” to stand for Chypre-holics Anonymous. If anyone out there is addicted to green, mossy, dry floral chypres who hasn’t tried Y by Yves Saint Laurent, well, there’s no doubt you’ll become a lush over it. It’s easy to binge on Y. Y is utterly flawless. It’s green and dry and fruity and mossy and feminine and masculine and classic and sophisticated and elegant and soft and sensual and, to finally end this list of adjectives, it’s simply perfect.

Y was the first fragrance created by the house of Yves Saint Laurent in 1964. I’m a chypre fanatic, but I actually do understand how chypres can come off as being dated for many people. For the past 15-20 years, chypres have not been popular. I’m still shocked that Ralph Lauren Safari, created in 1990, was discontinued. Safari is a stunning chypre. Since chypres haven’t been trendy, they aren’t worn or smelled very often, and due to this, the main association for most people is of “old ladies” because chypres were last popular during our grandmother’s generation and many classy old broads still wear their favorite gorgeous chypres. Even so, I think Y is a chypre that can easily get away without the “dated or old lady” stamp. Comparing Y with Miss Dior or Mitsouko for instance, Y is much less obtrusive, less potent, lighter, cheerier, spring-like and gauzy. Don’t get me wrong, I love even the heaviest of chypres, but Y should win awards for its ability to be present and longwearing yet sprightly and innocent.

It’s springtime in my part of the world and this is precisely when I long to wear Y the most. Y is the only chypre I associate with spring, with green buds and flowers. Y starts off with one of the most beautiful bursts of galbanum I’ve ever experienced. I hate to go overboard but this green burst is so breathtaking, it brings to mind a dewy fiddlehead fern slowly unfurling at the edge of a meadow in late April. Y starts sharply green, but it over time it loses its sharp edges and becomes a soft fruity, floral, mossy dream. Y is often compared with Vent Vert and Ma Griffe because they have many notes in common. Both Vent Vert and Ma Griffe are lovely green fragrances and there are certainly days when Vent Vert, especially, is the answer, though I find them both a little bitter and synthetic in comparison. Y is fresh, in a natural and realistic manner.

If you look up Y on basenotes or makeupalley you’ll see it’s called the perfect office scent by many. I understand this is because it’s not offensively heavy or strong, but I feel compelled to point out that this doesn’t mean Y is boring. On the contrary, Y, for me, is an adventure. Every time I wear it, I enjoy Y’s phases, especially the initial green burst, like a gun shooting galbanum bullets. Y’s drydown is soft, gentle and somewhat soapy-powdery-musky. As always, I feel all fragrances are unisex, but Y isn’t even a stretch, it easily goes both ways.

Long live Y

Y’s top notes include galbanum, gardenia, peach and honeysuckle; heart notes are rose, jasmine, orris, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang; and base notes are oakmoss, amber, patchouli, civet, vetiver, and benzoin

Here’s another review of Y, from Angela at NST

While googling for an image of the Y perfume bottle I found these chic boots by Yves Saint Laurent. How cool are these?

Commercial of the day

Audrey Tatou ~

click here for the new commercial for Chanel No. 5


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Patchouli 24 (and J'ai Ose)

I stared at the description of Patchouli 24 on the Le Labo website for almost a year before purchasing a bottle. I love patchouli, though I understood from various reviews and customer comments that it was hardly the most pronounced note in the composition. I love birch tar even more, and 24 was said to be an overload of the note, so stinky strong that its inclusion forbid anything but a love or hate reaction. People talked of scaring their co-workers out of the room, then out of the building. Relationships ended. Dinner plans were canceled. Mother-in-laws got off the fence. By all accounts, it seemed like something for which I would definitely fall on the side of love.

The problem for me was complicated. The perfumer behind 24 is Annick Menardo, and, as anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a fan. Her fragrances tend to have good lasting power, and some of them approach greatness on a level that many modern perfumers don't even seem to know exists. Here's the thing. The lady loves vanilla. Bulgari Black is worshiped in certain circles for its tea note and a pronounced rubbery splendor, but on me it smells, after an initial impression of complexity, like one of those skimpy deserts they put on your plate in aggressively expensive restaurants, daring you to complain (thereby declaring, when you do, for all the world to hear, "I am determined to be gluttonously obese and must balk at the tiny little piece of whatnot you're trying to pass off as a proper sugar fix. Hit me!).

I'd also read on many of the blogs that after its outlandish birch tar opening, 24 simmered down into a smoky vanilla, lasting the duration. I had problems reconciling all these descriptions, but I wasn't about to slap down 135 bucks for another jar of refined vanillic goodness. That I was ultimately willing to take a chance is a testament not to my resignation but to my irrational, logic defying love of birch tar.

I was hoping for something along the lines of J'ai Ose, a relatively cheapo, probably majorly reformulated bastardization of a possibly once great perfume. I can't help it. I love J'ai Ose. I'd bathe in it if I could. It's a wonderfully attractive composition that I couldn't at all figure out for the first several months I owned it. What was it--a chypre? A leather? A wood? Doubt kept me from wearing it, worried what kind of impression I would give off with something I couldn't even figure out myself.

24 was a massive disappointment, and I say this with all due respect to Menardo, because I recognize that it is essentially a wonderful fragrance. It's just not what I wanted, nor anything for which I particularly feel a need. It does in fact dry down to an abundance of vanilla--smoky, to be sure, but vanillic. The birch tar is still there, but so sublimated to the vanilla that it simply feels like a new slant on the note. "Burned vanilla!" And wonder of wonders, it at first didn't seem to last all that impressively. Maybe, I thought, le Labo actually just sucks. (Please don't write me nasty letters. I've since tried Iris 39 and put that unfair suspicion to rest).

One conclusion I drew from the experience is that, bad reformulation or no, J'ai Ose is hands down the best smoke leather I've come across. After spending a week with Patchouli 24, I went online to buy a quarter ounce of J'ai Ose pure parfum, which, in J'ai Ose world, goes for as little as 35, and feels like a million bucks. J'ai Ose ("I dared") was created in 1977 for the house of Guy Laroche, whose first perfume was Fidji. The fragrance feels much older than it is. It has a lot in common with floral leathers like Chanel's Cuir de Russie and Jolie Madame, though it smells smokier than either (and by smokier I mean blackened, i.e. charred) and less floral by far. Supposedly, the notes for J'ai Ose are jasmine, bergamot, vanilla, vetiver, musk, and sandalwood. I don't smell any of that, and find it very hard to believe there isn't birch tar in the mix playing a pronounced, even presiding, part. One never knows where these pyramids are coming from, or how figurative they are. Out of whose ass do these things get pulled?

I now realize that I had Le Labo Patchouli 24 all along. I had what I hoped it would be, anyway. Had I known that J'ai Ose was my holy grail birch tar fragrance, that much sought after burnt wood, I would have stocked up on it and saved myself much money. I should also add that, trying Patchouli 24 again last night, I was surprised by how long it stuck around on my skin. It's perfectly lovely, but not my cup of smoke.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Divine eau de parfum: A Review

I’m not a white floral gal. Take for instance, Parfum de Nicolai Number One. Number One may be a gorgeous awarding winning fragrance but it just doesn’t make my heart skip a beat. Serge Lutens Nuit de Cellophane is the epitome of white floral perfection but it just bores me silly. But take your basic white floral notes and make them the centerpiece of an oriental or chypre and I’m all over it.

Divine eau de parfum, makes me swoon so hard I lose consciousness, my knees buckle and I’m typically distracted while wearing it. Divine eau de parfum could have been created by Dominique Ropion, who I’ve come to think of as a classicist, a rare breed of perfumer who still makes unabashedly full bodied and sultry fragrances. Of course, Ropion is not the perfumer for Divine, but I digress, I’m obsessed with him lately.

Divine is a tiny niche perfumery from France, started in Dinard, a seaside town in Brittany of all places. Dinard isn’t Grasse, and it’s a far cry from Paris, and it isn’t chic or trendy. Yvon Mouchel is the perfumer, who, as the story goes, owned his own perfume boutique before he decided to create the juice himself. The idea of this small perfumery, creating classically beautiful fragrances gives me the warm fuzzies. I’m a huge fan of the underdog, and Divine fits this description.

Divine eau de parfum is categorized as a chypre. When a chypre leans toward the sweet, I have a difficult time differentiating between it and a floral oriental. Divine eau parfum stands somewhere between floral oriental and chypre to my nose. Similar to Acqua di Parma’s Iris Nobile eau de parfum, which is also considered a chypre, but I would have guessed a floral oriental. Speaking of Iris Nobile edp (not edt), there are some strong similarities between it and Divine. Both are luscious full bodied white florals, heavy on the gardenia and tuberose, with fruity beginnings and spicy, mossy bases causing me to drool.

Divine’s list of notes are peach, coriander, gardenia, Indian tuberose, May rose, oak moss, musk, vanilla, and spices. There will be no mistaking, when you smell Divine, it’s very 1950s Hollywood glamour. Divine is real perfume, for a confident woman, who cares not that she’s wearing an in your face tuberose/gardenia chypre. If she’s going to wear perfume she’s damn well going to wear the good stuff.

Divine has won me over. I hope more people fall in love with Divine’s perfumes and I wish the company much success. It would please me to know that a small perfumery can make good old fashioned perfumes against all odds, without advertising and make it on their exceptional juice alone.

You can purchase directly from Divine's website from wherever you happen to live. In the US Divine is sold at Luckyscent.

PS: The image is Ellen Barkin. I love Ellen, she rocks.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Current Trends in Perfumistaland

Celebrity fragrances
Notes: aquatic, melon, cumin, sweet vanilla, pink pepper, fruity florals
Gourmand fragrances
Inexpensive, easily found perfumes
Most flankers
Thierry Mugler Angel (but it’s cool to despise it)
IFRA restrictions
The fact that Luckyscent hasn’t had a discount code in ages
Chanel Les Exclusifs not available in edp concentration

L’Artisan, Le Labo
Chanel, Guerlain
Parfums MDCI
Jean Claude Ellena, Serge Lutens, Christopher Sheldrake
Notes: champaca, vetiver, iris, violet, osmanthus, woods, oud/aoud, leather, skank, dirt and aldehydes
Expensive, hard to find perfumes
Masculine scents for women and feminine scents for men

So, what did I miss?!