Tuesday, September 29, 2009

LUSH Vanillary

Perhaps not a fragrance choice for the majority of our dear readers but I've been craving vanilla the past few weeks so I ordered Lush's Vanillary (liquid not solid). I expected something akin to cake, cookies and dessert but instead found a sweet vanillic floral - strikingly similar to the over the top vanilla of L'Artisan Vanilia. Lush's Vanillary is a jasmine-lily-vanilla and if you're a fan of L'Artisan Vanilia, and are aware of it's discontinuation, you might want to give this a go. I also notice threads of similarity with Hermes Vanille Galante (gasp) - must be the lily and slight woody notes.

Vanillary is, of course, sweet, but no sweeter than L'Artisan or Serge Luten's Un Bois Vanille. It certainly has better longevity and sillage than either of these illustrious perfume houses. It's really quite pleasant and a steal for $42. It's housed in an ugly little bottle but everything is relatively ugly and basic from Lush.

Sometimes I enjoy perfume reviews that wax poetic and sometimes I tire of all the puffed up words and just want to know what a fragrance smells like. Lush's Vanillary smells great. It's the sort of fragrance which will receive oodles of compliments.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Go buy some Mariella Burani. Right now.

A little online search made me realize very few perfumistas are talking about Mariella Burani perfume. I'm aghast! (Ok, a little drama there but I am surprised). I wore Mariella Burani here and there in the mid-late 90's. I'm pretty sure I had the EDP and now can only find EDT but upon buying the EDT last week I've deemed them either similar or exactly the same. Being a lover of the Cabotine bottle I find myself rather giddy with the gorgeous bottle that houses Mariella Burani (henceforth MB). The hefty masculine square bottle topped with a gaudy orange bouquet cap is tres chic indeed. This bottle is display worthy for me, not clumped in a group but alone. I recall loving MB when I wore it a decade ago but after smelling trillions of perfumes since then I've come to the conclusion that MB is an absolute gem. Once you've "smelled them all" and then go back to something you wore ages ago and realize it's the cats meow, well, it's a neat thing.

Now getting to the juice. MB which reminds me of Chanel No. 5 but better (I've never been fond of No. 5, it smells like weak dishwater to me; soapy detergent-y blandness - too vague, too blah, will never understand why it's the biggest deal of all time and yes, I've tried it in all concentrations!). MB is similar to No. 5 in that it's a highly aldehydic floral with a clean, polished vibe, yet it's volume is turned up a few notches - there's much more va-va-vavoom in MB. If No. 5 is Nicole Kidman then Mariella Burani is Sophia Loren. So maybe I'm thinking Italian because Mariella Burani is Italian, whatever, MB is sensual where No. 5 is fastidious.MB is a gorgeous aldehydic floral that starts fresh and citrusy and dries down to a creamy oriental dream. There are not that many fragrances I would call creamy - Fracas is one - MB is creamy. It's classified as an oriental but there is a chypre vibe happening here - if No. 5 is a chypre then MB is very much in the same vein. There is an underlying fresh, herbal quality to MB which keeps the sweetness in check at all times. While it's undeniably sweet and feminine it definitely remains fresh and not too over the top - a lovely balance. Honestly I can't believe I haven't written about MB before and that there isn't any chatter amongst perfumistas and on the other blogs and fora - this is truly amazing stuff. Some days I get so bored and tired with the usual fanfare about Serge Lutens, Guerlain and Chanel. I swear Serge could defecate into a bucket, Sheldrake could liquify it and put it into a bottle and there would be legions interpreting and swooning over his latest artistic masterpiece. MB smells amazingly good and it also has nice sillage (potent) and excellent longevity. It's also a bonus that it's available from many online discount sites for a song.

Notes are listed as -
Top: tarragon, bergamot, brazilian rosewood and lemon;
middle: iris, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lily-of-the-valley and rose;
base: amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, patchouli, musk, benzoin, vanilla and vetiver.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bond No. 9 Success is a Job in New York

Bond No. 9's latest launch is the 4th in the Andy Warhol series and named Success is a Job in New York. The Andy Warhol series so far consists of Silver Facory, Union Square, Lexington Avenue and now Success is a Job in New York. The fragrance is said to be inspired by money and named for an article Warhol illustrated for Glamour magazine in the 1950s.

I read Fragrance Bouquet's review of Success is a Job in New York (henceforth simply Success) in July and have been looking forward to sniffing this intriguing perfume ever since. I must say ordering from Bond No. 9 is sheer pleasure. I ordered yesterday and received the perfume today, lovingly wrapped in their subway token tissue paper with 3 bon bon samples that I'd requested. And this was their free ground shipping, not overnight express or anything like that.

The fragrance itself is comparable to Bond's Chinatown & Lexington Avenue in it's uniqueness. This is one of those very difficult to describe little gems. It's hard to categorize - being oriental, floral-oriental and gourmand but also exhibiting a chypre-ish vibe at the start. After wearing Success for 7 hours, I've decided it's a floral-oriental on me. And a delicious and pretty one at that. One I'm very happy to have irresponsibly purchased unsniffed!

The overall thrust of the perfume is what I like to call a "true perfume" - notes do not stand out for me - it is a smell all it's own, a very identifiable smell - such as Loulou, Angel, Chinatown, Amarige or Mitsouko are unmistakeable scents. Success is sweet (I like this sentence on many levels). But not too sweet for me by any stretch. It's initially quite strong and messy, starting off being just about every scent family at once - citrusy, floral, oriental, gourmand and spicy. As expected, Success settles in about 15 minutes to a sweet, powdery, floral oriental. But these words do not even describe it well. The strongest floral note for me is jasmine, and in some respects the jasmine in Success has a teensy weensy similarity to Creed's Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie.

I sprayed Success on my friend today. Sometimes I like to get a bit of perspective, to see how it smells on another person's skin a few feet away. On my friend, it smelled very pretty and powdery, somewhat like high end cosmetics, the way I often find Amouage fragrances to smell.

Bond No. 9, as a perfume house, is increasingly impressing me. They definitely know how to tickle my fancy by creating potent perfumes with sillage to spare. One complaint many have about Bond perfumes is the pricing, but with this sort of quality and longevity a 3.4 oz bottle of Success could easily last you a lifetime. I've found several favorites amongst Bond's offerings with Broadway Nite, Chinatown, Lexington Avenue, Silver Factory and New Haarlem and now I think I've found my favorite Bond of all in Success.

Top: Bergamot, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Mandarin
Heart: Pimento, Tuberose, Rose de Mai, Jasmine, Plum, Iris
Base: Patchouli, Vanilla, Benzoin

Just to keep a tally of new releases that I've loved in 2009; I'm crazy for Parfums d'Empire Wazamba, Sonoma Scent Studio's Tabac Aurea, By Kilian Back to Black and now Bond No. 9 Success is a job in New York. Success is really good stuff.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Dozen Roses: 12 More to File Under Rose

An entry on roses is some kind of folly, given that so many fragrances contain rose, even when not presided over by it. Where to begin? Where would it end? I would never propose an exhaustive list--at least at no time in the near future--but I do have personal favorites. Some of these I've already reviewed or mentioned (see the list at bottom). Others I've only recently discovered. Here, off the top off my head: a dozen roses...

Tocade (Rochas)/West Side (Bond No. 9)

These seem like companion pieces to me. Tocade is by Maurice Roucel. West Side is by Michel Almairac. Tocade is textbook Roucel, with a weird, trademark doughy quality which finds its way into a lot of what the perfumer does. West Side is boozier, deeper and darker. Tocade projects. West Side spreads out on the skin, lurking. It sometimes sneaks up on you when you least expect it. West Side seems like it will be outlasted by Tocade but ends up outrunning it. Both have a pronounced vanillic backbone, but West Side takes a little longer to bring itself out of the closet. When it does, West Side starts to resemble Tocade more clearly. Note: the booziness of West Side isn't the wine-drenched rococo of YSL Paris. Fans and detractors of West Side talk about cigarette ash and smoke, and I can understand why. West Side has that quality you get from a glass of port wine--the day after, when it smells like you feel. There's something slightly hungover about it. But Tocade can also be a tad too sugared, too tight lipped somehow. It needs to let its hair down. I like both at different times.

Noir Patchouli (Histoire de Parfums)
If ever there was a misnomer, this is it. Still, don't think you won't find patchouli here. You will. But more than anything, Noir is a study in rose and what it does with a strong dance partner. This is a beautiful rose: smooth, rich, intense. Noir? Not so much, though it isn't exactly light, either. What can a word like noir mean in perfumery at this point? It's like saying fine when someone asks you how you are. Fine can mean anything from okay to destitute. Fine means nothing and everything, as does noir. Like Blanc Violette, also by Histoire de Parfums, Noir has a woody come nutty underbelly I find pretty addictive. The longevity is great, the projection decent. This is beautiful stuff, a modern interpretation of classic rose chypres like Aromatics Elixir. It's worth the hefty price tag.

Beautiful (Estee Lauder)
I can never really determine the nose responsible for Beautiful. Some say Bernard Chant had a hand in it. I've heard other names as well. Beautiful gets slammed for its potency. To many it smells of dryer sheets. I smell tobacco and an impossibly honeyed, saturated rose. Yes, Beautiful is part of that eighties trend in forced perspective perfumery. Everything is huge, resulting in a big block of Godzilla rose, which hits you over the head with the force of a semi. I don't mind the blow, personally, as it puts my head in a pretty nice place. What's in this thing? Disregard the pyramid you find on osmoz.com. Beautiful smells nothing like the sum of its parts. When people complain of Estee Lauder fragrances, Beautiful seems to be the most oft-cited case in point. It makes statements (i.e. takes no prisoners). It commands attention and I suspect passes migraine through a room with the remorseless efficiency reserved for clouds of nerve gas. Here's the thing. I love these fragrances. There's something so powerful about them--not only literally but theoretically. Here's a perfume that can alter the emotional climate of a room.

Shocking (Schiaparelli)
I've only ever smelled the reformulation of Elsa Schiaparelli's famous fragrance. I'm told it pales in comparison to the original, though pale is probably an inept choice of word for something as bold as Shocking. As a matter of fact, Shocking relates very clearly to Beautiful, speaking in the same honeyed voice, albeit knocked down a few octaves. Shocking is the quintessential clove rose for me. I've yet to smell one I like better. What makes it for me is the tarragon, which gives an odd little herbal kick to the fragrance. The narcissus adds a camphoraceous edge, contrasting against the rose while complimenting the tarragon, which otherwise might have seemed more accidental than intentional. Again, some find this a bit strong. More for me, I guess. The original was composed by the legendary Jean Carles.

Incense Rose (Andy Tauer)
My favorite Andy Tauer fragrance, Incense Rose is a perfectly lovely mixture of frankincense and floral. It wears a lot more complicated than it sounds, and gives you a lot of time to count the ways.

Lipstick Rose (Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle)
My reaction to this stuff is purely irrational, because it has no desire to be anything like the best perfume in the world, and yet when I smell it I can't remember liking anything better. Every time I spray Lipstick Rose on I can't imagine wearing anything else ever again. It smells of waxy lipstick, true to its name, and a purely artifical rose, the kind of scent you find in cosmetics more than commercial fragrance. Lipstick Rose is about the only perfume in the Malle line which has a sense of humor about itself. That isn't to say any of them need a sense of humor, but the presence of Lipstick Rose in this line makes me think of Malle in much more generous terms. That a line with such high quality output has the confidence to put out something so richly cheap and cheerful says something about the wonderful breadth of its curatorial vision. Lipstick Rose makes the line seem less prissy, a little more uninhibited, like a private school girl who gets into Nina Simone and Britney Spears with equal fervor.

Nahema (Guerlain)
Guerlain's signature rose, Nahema is hard to find in the states. I found some at a discount store, amazingly enough. Nahema was inspired by a character Catherine Deneuve played on screen--or am I imagining this? After a while, it's hard to parse through the fact and fiction of an industry which cultivates as much secrecy and perpetuates as much outright bullshit as humanly possible in the selling and manufacturing of its product. Theoretically, I find very little relation between Deneuve--and any character she's played--and Nahema. The perfume is an odd bird for me in many ways. I shouldn't like it. There's something slightly artificial about it, I always think. A heightened fantasy of rose which is sweeter and fruitier than I might ordinarily like. There's a strangled, almost shrill peach nectar in there, brightening the rose in a way which seems half moonlight, half neon. But Nahema is extraordinary, so there's no use measuring it against typical expectations. I think what unsettles me about Nahema, and granted, it isn't easy to explain, is the sense that it never really merges with its wearer. It's a little more cat than dog that way. It remains a little aloof on the skin, as opposed to something like Beautiful, which creates a sense of depth and detail. Maybe Nahema resembles Deneuve more than I at first like to think.

Elixir (Penhaligons)
Why do people slam this so? I smelled this in a tiny Milano shop through a paper cone and wanted to have sex with the nearest inanimate object. I considered the cone, however briefly. I had trouble focusing on the SA, who was having trouble speaking my language. No matter. I hardly knew my language either anymore. Like a lot of Olivia Giacobetti's work, this fades quickly. It goes sheer, to put it charitably. But with the best of her stuff, you don't care, and I find myself not giving such a sh*t with Elixir. Cinammon red hots? Come on. Not to me. I smell a nuclear rose, molten hot, radiating off the skin in circular waves. I'm told it's an update of Blenheim Bouquet, though to me it's more like Blenheim Bouquet on acid. Didn't Turin give this something like one or two stars? Yes? Well, he doesn't like pear so much either.

Boudoir (Vivienne Westwood)
Another in a long line of much maligned. Abigail didn't like this one so much herself. I can't help it, I think it's swell. Supposedly it smells like a woman's bed after an evening of sweaty sex. Having no frame of reference, the connection fails me. I smell something vaguely related to Shocking, less the clove, nine times the honey. Picture Beautiful mixed with Miel De Bois. I smell sweet. You smell litter box. What's to be done? I'm no fan of the Westwood line of fragrances. Let it Rock is perfectly nice, but nothing I would spend my hard-earned money on. The others I've barely bothered with. Buodoir is an exception. Its absolutely an intense smell, and retro, but it really goes back no further than the eighties, which again is a problem for some but a solution for me. I wasn't forced to tease my bangs within an inch of their lives in high school, so a big-shouldered fragrance like this seems downright novel to me.

Boss No. 1 (Hugo Boss)
This is essenitally Shocking for men. Women should wear it too, naturally. It seems inconceivable that something like this would be considered masculine in 1985, the same year Beautiful came out. Then again, I'm always surprised when I look back to the masculines of the seventies and eighties and see how decidedly asexual they were/are. The man responsible is Pierre Wargnye, he behind Drakkar Noir and, more recently, Antidote. I like Antidote very much. I like it much better than a lot of other people seem to, and I see connections between the spices employed there and in Boss No. 1. Wargnye also did La Perla, which makes a lot of sense when you stand it beside No. 1. Osmoz lists this as an aromatic fougere. Well, okay. This is one case at least where the pyramid gives you a good idea what you're getting yourself into, so I'll leave it at that: jamsine, rose, honey, juniper, basil, artemisia, tobacco, cinammon, cedar, patchouli. Be forewarned. You better like patchouli.

Essence (Narciso Rodriguez)

Buy it for the bottle if you have trouble justifying the purchase for any other reason. I happen to like the book as much as its cover. Not everyone reads. Rose, violet, aldehyde. They call the violet iris; I suppose because it's more fashionable these days. I don't really care what they call it. I think this stuff smells great. If you're a guy looking for a dandy rose, this is a good place to go. The bottle will distort your face into the portrait of Dorian Grey.

Jil Sander Women III (Jil Sander)

This is very directly related to rose chypres like Aromatics Elixir and La Perla, but oh what a difference the addition of bay makes. Good luck finding it in the U.S.

Others filed under Like: Mille et Une Roses, Aramis 900, Alain Delon Iquitos, Paris, L'Artisan Voleur de Roses, Fresh Cannabis Rose, Knowing, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Lancome Tresor

Friday, September 11, 2009

My Favorite Perfume Names

No reason in particular, I just love these names and not necessarily (though, mostly) the juice:

Joy, by Jean Patou
L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque
Alahine, Teo Cabanel
La Chasse aux Papillon, L'Artisan
Cadjmere, Parfumerie Generale
Le Temps d'une Fete, Parfums de Nicolaï
Mimosaique, Parfums de Nicolaï
Evening Edged in Gold, Ineke
Balmy Days and Sundays, Ineke
Carnal Flower, Frederic Malle
Lou Lou, Cacharel (yep, I even love this hokey name)
Amarige, Givenchy
Organza, Givenchy
Coromandel, Chanel
Shalimar, Guerlain
Mitsouko, Guerlain
Tubereuse Criminelle, Serge Lutens
Chergui, Serge Lutens
Madison Soiree, Bond No. 9
Chinatown, Bond No. 9
Voile de Violette, Sonoma Scent Studio
Iris Nobile, Acqua di Parma
Wazamba, Parfum d'Empire
Baghari, Robert Piguet
Bandit, Robert Piguet
Fracas, Robert Piguet
Habanita, Molinard
Hanae, Keiko Mecheri
L'Heure Bleue, Guerlain
Heure Exquise, Annick Goutal
Poison, Dior
Hypnotic Poison, Dior
Ivoire, Balmain
Un Jardin Sur La Nil, Hermes
Philosykos, Diptyque
Rush, Gucci
Kiki, Vero
Sacrebleu, Parfums de Nicolaï
Timbuktu, L'Artisan
Ysatis, Givenchy
Teint de Neige, Lorenzo Villoresi
Lolita Lempicka

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Winners of LT Piver Heliotrope Blanc

I decided to choose two winners for the Heliotrope Blanc drawing.

And they are...

1. Elfriede &
2. ahsu

Please get in touch, send me your address, and your decants will be in the mail shortly.


Monday, September 7, 2009

An Open Letter to the Brilliant Men and Women in the Marketing Department

To Whom It May Concern,

Or does it concern you?

It concerns me. You're really boring me these days, and fine, while I know I'm not at the top of your priority list, I don't think I'm all that atypical when it comes to the general perfume buying public, if there is such a thing anymore, except that I buy about ten times (okay, thirty) as much as the average consumer.

Okay, fifty.

I just want to bring some things to your attention, though the idea that I might have to baffles me. I imagine you all in your boardrooms, sipping lattes, with testing strips fanned out before you. For a while you talk about Anna's baby. How cute! Grows like a weed. You talk about a little dish you picked up in Soho, a chicly dressed woman who told you to screw off when you took her cab--accidentally! You talk about the scarf Gina's wearing. Or Gene. Gene wears scarves, too. Eventually, you move on to Michael Jackson. When are they going to BURY that guy? Enough already. I mean, please. Then you feel embarrassed for entering Michael Jackson into the same elevated company as perfume--but don't, because, I can assure you, you have other things to be embarrassed about.

It does, it baffles me that in these conversations, you wouldn't take into consideration some of the things I'd like to point out to you here. I have to believe you're not discussing them. Why else would you keep making the same mistakes? Surely you lovely people aren't that stupid.

Let me just jump right in. Can you stop making bottles that look like the Avon collectibles my grandmother used to keep boxed in the attic. Those bottles were always more than half full, I should point out, because while a fragrance in the shape of a vintage red roadster might strike one as a fun idea in the catalog, it very quickly starts looking like a bad idea once you set it out on your bathroom shelf. Try holding it in your hand. Who besides my uncle Orville wants to spray him/herself with Roadster? I'm sure there are many women who like these decorative bottles. Some of them must be above the age of twelve. Many more women must find them absolutely cheap and silly, an embarrassment and an insult for the price of money they cost. I won't name names. Some of you people might actually have these bottles out on your own dresser. But as a rule, plastic gold trimming (meant to look like metal quilting, precious ornamentation, et al), rhinestones, scrolled caps which are bigger than the bottles themselves, hearts, and faeries are the kinds of things Barbie adorns her dream house with, and sometimes her pony. Barbie isn't actually a real person.

Can you please stop asking models to make love to themselves in print ads and media clips? It's kind of awkward. A little uncomfortable. I'm sure more than one woman has looked at a curiously shaped bottle and gotten some ideas, but remember what they say about printing how-to bomb instructions online: someone might get hurt. I don't know. I'm just not the kind of person who likes to see Kate Moss, or anyone really, masturbate in a limo. I'm not naive. I know Kate Moss probably does masturbate. I know I do, and I wouldn't want to deprive her of that, but when I choke the chicken, it isn't in the grocery aisle. Something to think about.

Do you realize how stupidly Biblical you guys are when it comes to cultivating the fantasy life around fragrance? You depict women pretty strictly as either virgins or whores. Why so misogynistic? It's like you can't picture a woman doing much of anything if she isn't pleasuring herself or writhing around like an animal in heat on a bed of roses. Are any of you women? Do any of you have mothers? The women in my family are pretty complex, and from talking to them, I don't get the idea that in their imaginary lives they aspire to featured actresses in badly filmed soft core porn.

This brings us to men, some of whom, yes, I like naked. But again, very awkward in a magazine. If I'm going to get hot and bothered, personally, I like my naked men in the flesh. And please, can you find interesting men to serve as spokesmodels? Justin Timberlake is funny. I like his d*!ck in a box. But I want something with a little more depth and character selling me fantasy. Here are some suggestions, and I'd be more than happy to help you look into their availability: Gael Garcia Bernal, Gael Garcia Bernal, and Gael Garcia Bernal. If it's sex you're trying to sell, choosing someone like Bernal really makes your job easier. Photograph his lips. There. That's done. Include his eyes and you add something approaching inner life. I'm not feeling that with a boy band crooner in a tux.

Stop playing watchdog and start paying attention to the bloggers and their audiences. This is where I really start empathizing with ya'll. See, you read something like "ya'll" and you think, oh goodness, how do we deal with these yokels out on the internet. Let's throw them little bones. You throw your bones while imagining there are still lines of power and control you can keep firmly delineated. Do you realize how democratic everything's become? Do you not see how influential bloggers have become? It's not a matter of getting us press releases, I can assure you. The idea that you're still able to imagine yourselves as omnipotent, the fact you haven't truly gathered how profoundly the market and the game has changed verges on heartbreaking. It's like you go home every night to watch Mad Men and believe it all still works that way. In your offices you decide and decree how it's all going to go down? You're cute as bunnies. I almost feel I should be protecting YOU.

Here's the thing. People who love perfume read the blogs almost fanatically because what they're getting is more often than not an honest opinion, expressed with enthusiasm and style, however crude the style can sometimes be. They know they'll never, ever get that from you, which puts you at a definite disadvantage. Let us help you. Admitting your relative powerlessness is the first step. I know, it's ironic: for decades you people have divested yourself of anything which becomes more specific or particular than a bottom line, believing that abiding by the lowest common denominator wins you in immediate sales what you lose in long term loyalty. Bless your hearts.

Visit these sites and pay attention to the comments. The people who buy your product are pretty sharp, generally savvy, artsy, somewhat evolved, versed in high and low culture alike. I wouldn't argue that all of us are the sharpest bulbs in the box, but as a whole we're smarter than the average Doberman. We read Nathan Branch because he's funny and says what we're all thinking at various points. We read NowSmellThis because anything that's happening will be reported there, with an opportunity for us to voice our own honest opinions about it. Pieredepierre, Scented Salamander, Perfume Smelling Things, One Thousand Scents, 1000 Fragrances, Perfume Posse, Vetivresse. You really should write these down. I'll wait.

Check out Olfactarama as a case in point. This is an intelligent, witty, no-bullshit perfume lover who happens to write very well, articulating, most recently (like today) how boring you all (i.e. ya'll) have become. She really counts the ways. I'm not sure she evaluates your success in terms of how convincingly Kate Moss masturbates. You should also check out Nathan Branch's photos, with your eyes open, for a sense of how beautiful perfume itself is (the packaging, the lines, the ideas, the inner glow) when done smartly, how little it takes to capture the allure and fantasy of fragrance, how little flesh is ultimately needed. Nathan knows that some people fall in love with perfume not because it reminds them of people dry humping in a field of tall grass but because they have complicated imaginations which can be sparked in simple (as opposed to simplistic) ways. Indie and niche perfumers recognize his value in moving their product. Sometimes he even gets free bottles. Hint, hint.

Sincerely (truly),

Your devoted servant

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Bored to Tears: New Releases, Old Hat

I'm pouting this week, I'm in a funk, I'm almost bored with perfume and I don't know what to do about it, a situation which would have seemed inconceivable to me only several months ago. Is perfume a passing phase--or am I just sick of being disappointed lately? So many of the things I've been looking forward to have turned out to be uninspired. Some of them feel like a slap in the face.

The Alien EDT is nice enough, but where's the promised difference, the guaranteed frisson? To me it smells exactly like Alien EDP--no heavier, no lighter, no woodsier, no more or less presided over by jasmine. I wanted special. I wanted something tweaked, not because I dislike Alien EDP (far from it) but because I wanted to see a perfumer pushing himself, responding to input about the first go round, teasing out something about the first Alien which showed its detractors how wrong they were, proving to them that Alien was wonderful all along, they just hadn't been looking the right way.

To some extent, the seasonal flankers have served this purpose, illuminating the original Alien (2005) with bursts of clarifying light. I particularly liked the first flanker, eau Luminescente, which brought a piquancy into the original's headier mix. But the mission of seasonal flankers seems to be to adapt the original fragrance's attributes into some fantasy vignette of Spring and Summer, a limiting mission, depending how you feel about Spring and Summer (I, for one, resent being asked to retire my jeans, as if I'm just not quite carefree enough otherwise, or inhibited because I won't frolic around in shorts). Key words, like "lighter" and "fresher", prevail over the exercise. For me, the Alien EDT release might have reinterpreted the original in many novel ways, but didn't, making it little better than a wasted opportunity.

I can barely talk about YSL's Parisienne without getting a little ticked off. More than anything, I'm irritated with myself, for having gotten my hopes up. Parisienne is a massive letdown on a number of levels, but the biggest disappointment of all is the fact that my little honeymoon with Sophia Grojsman might now be over. I was naive enough to believe that I would love Parisienne no matter how much of a retread it might be. I've loved every Grojsman perfume I can think of, though many resemble each other enough to keep others from owning several at once. Paris is an iconic favorite of mine. Its intensity, the lush stuff it makes of rose, violet and hawthorn, is a narcotic for me. Though I've loved it since 1983, when it first came out, the smell isn't particularly nostalgic to me. It's too timeless for that. But it makes me intensely happy, speaking to my imagination in a way which would normally require hallucinogens.

How big a part did Sophia Grojsman actually play in the creation of Parisienne? Her collaborator, Sophie Labbé, hasn't done much of anything I've admired or even been vaguely interested in, with the exception of Givenchy Organza. Granted, Organza is so good that its creator wouldn't really need to do much more in life. It has amazing persistence, impressive diffusion. It smells like nothing else, filtered through a series of recognizable motifs. It certainly doesn't smell like anything else Labbé has done. I'm not a fan of most of the Joop fragrances, some of which she's authored. Kylie Minogue Sexy Darling, Givenchy Very Irresistible, Cacharel Amour Pour Homme, Jil Sander Sport for Women and Nina Ricci Permier Jour don't exactly tip the scales in her favor.

My guess is that Sophia Grojsman is credited because Parisienne trades on Paris not only thematically but by using enough of its formula to owe her royalties. There is the faintest ghost of Paris in there, but so dulled down, so muted that to credit Grojsman is somehow discrediting her. The notes of this so-called woody floral are said to be damask rose, violet, peony, patchouli, vetiver, and most intriguingly, "a vinyl accord evoking metal gloss and varnish." Interestingly (and this is practically the only interesting thing about the fragrance for me) Parisienne smells best from the bottle. Smelled from the atomizer, you get the vinyl accord, and it's as wonderfully strange as the copy makes it sound. The problem is that once you apply it to the skin or a testing strip, it becomes the failed prototype for Kylie Minogue's next assault on the mainstream fragrance-buying public.

There are things I like about Parisienne. It isn't horrible, just insipidly pleasant. Some floral, some wood, watered-down whiffs of unusual. It hides on the skin like it's scared to come out and play or has been pushed out on stage in only its underwear. It has zero projection, and even you can't smell it after a few minutes, without making a fool of yourself practically humping your wrist with your nose. It's nice. It's pretty. It bores the hell out of me. Some have expressed dismay at the tone of the Kate Moss advertisements. My guess is that the perfume, whatever it actually does in reality, is named to evoke the stylized debauchery of "La Vie Parisienne", the naughty pre-war French magazine and the equally controversial opera of the same name composed by Offenbach, which featured, among other entertainments, "trollops masquerading as society ladies" and the "frenetic, mad pursuit of fun and pleasure", all of which Moss seems to be channeling in the ads. The actual perfume, unfortunately, is a society lady masquerading as a society lady.

And don't even get me started on masculine releases. Givenchy Play is a joke, as everyone on the boards and blogs, from basenotes to Burr, is remarking. Givenchy Play Intense is the good cop in this scenario, but it too makes you work to love, let alone like it long time. A little Rochas Man, a little Lempicka au Masculin, some Bulgari Black. It comes out doing a snake-charmer's dance with anise, coffee and labdanum, each of which in its way is more over-exposed than even Justin Timberlake, the fragrance's spokesmodel. Like him, Play Intense wishes to be all things to all people. It sings, it dances, it has a sense of humor. It acts, doing a good impression of colognes I like better, then it slinks off the skin in search of God knows what. Maybe it goes looking for Parisienne. Good luck with that.

It probably doesn't take a rocket scientist, or even someone who plays one on TV, to know that YSL La Nuit de L'Homme is going to suck, and suck it does. It smells like everything all at once. It's doing everything it can to impress and please you, boring the shit out of you. The smell of it fills you with a profound despair. So this is what it's come to. I might as well end it all right here. If women think pink pepper is getting old, cross the aisle and walk a mile in my shoes. The terrain: cardamom, as far as the eye can see. To think I actually love cardamom. Every time I go back to L'Essence de Declaration I realize anew how wrong they're getting cardamom these days. Someone please throw that cardamom a life-raft of birch tar.

The question is, what are they getting right? Yesterday I took out my bottle of Organza Indecence. I couldn't believe how rich and gorgeous it was. More specifically, I couldn't believe I'd forgotten. But with so many snoozers on the market, more every day, it's a wonder I can remember liking perfume, ever, at all.

I'd love to hear what you've been disappointed in lately. It would help me feel less alone or, God forbid, misanthropic.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Issey Miyake, A Scent

Several weeks ago, when I was at Saks, I saw a pretty husky guy look up, down, and all around nervously before spraying on A Scent. It was the first I'd heard of the fragrance, so when he asked me whether it was for men or women, I really didn't know what to say, though I generally don't know how to answer that question anyway. Before I had a chance to, he'd covered himself in a cloud of the stuff, so maybe the question was a formality.

I've never been a huge Issey Miyake fan. I like Intense for Men okay. It's good for a kick, though I suspect I'd never wear it. I like F'eau Dissey but can't seem to figure out when to wear it and always want it to last longer or go somewhere else at some point. L'eau d'Issey for women is an interesting calone fragrance, with that salt-water effect Escape by Calvin Klein has. L'eau Bleue is probably the most interesting to me, a sleeper from Jacques Cavallier, part herbal, part coniferous, a little doughy.

I wasn't expecting much from A Scent, so I was very surprised. I'd received a sample of Estee Lauder's Jasmine White Moss, which it resembles, shortly before smelling it. I couldn't picture myself buying Jasmine White Moss--too soft, maybe, or too refined---whereas I was at the cash register with A Scent before I knew what I was doing.

As you might have read elsewhere, A Scent recalls green fragrances past, particularly, to my nose, those which feature galbanum prominently. I smell a history of green in there, with stops at Aliage, Balmain's Ivoire, Chanel No. 19, Givenchy III, and Jean-Louis Scherrer. A Scent is much softer than Aliage, overlaying its punch of galbanum with a significant whiff of jasmine. Brighter and fresher than Jasmine White Moss, it also lasts longer. It has a citrus aspect to it that never really goes away, and somehow feels stronger rather than weaker as it wears. It also gets deeper, and richer.

It was created by Daphne Bugey, the nose behind Kenzo Amour, the DSquared fragrances, and the more recent Kenzo Amour Florale, all of which are equally persistent and weirdly more pronounced later than they at first seem they will be. Amour is one of those scents that seems to have gone away, until it wafts up again. I wouldn't say it's a skin scent. I'm starting to notice bedrock similarities in Bugey's work, relationships which intrigue me, making me wonder at her artistry.

I like A Scent a lot. It has a happy but intelligent feel to it, and if the same guy asked me who it was meant for all over again, I would say the masses.

TWRT 9.04.09

This Week’s Random Thoughts

There’s only one episode of True Blood left, I’m in a state of mourning.

My little dog Greta is doing good. She had her stitches removed this week. She’s healing nicely. It’s been a tough few weeks – she had bladder surgery so she needed to go outside to relieve herself every 90 minutes or so – even during the night! And once she peed on my head and pillow. The warmth was nice for the first few moments, when I didn’t know what it was. She’s a pug so she also had her elongated soft palate reduced as well as rhinoplasty (a nose job, I’m not kidding!). For the first few days we called her Michael Jackson. (The above photo is Greta 1 day post-op. She looks a bit woozy and she still has the bandage on her leg from all the IVs)

My favorite new launch so far is Parfum d’Empire Wazamba. I had been salivating for SL Nuits de Cellophane and AdP Magnolia Nobile both of which turned out not to be my thing. Guerlain Les Secrets de Sophie is on it’s way to me – so that isn’t in the running yet.

Beverage of the week: Hazelnut iced coffee with skim milk.

I enjoyed watching Weeds the first 2 seasons. Now I want to shoot Nancy Botwin in the head. Her character gets on my last nerve.

Movies: I watched Bruno this week...what a snore. I also saw District 9. This isn’t my sort of sci-fi movie. I don’t need to see an apartheid allegory wrapped up in a sci-fi costume.

A little birdy told me that Sonoma Scent Studio opens for business next week. The long wait is over – yay!

A dear friend sent me a mini of Molto Missoni. Wow, what a find. I had never heard of it before. It’s a wonderful incense mixed with Red Hot candies. I instantly searched for it online and found 1 bottle at a decent price. It’s discontinued so very hard to find.

It’s a shame L’Artisan discontinued Vanilia. I don’t go for vanilla perfumes but I’ve found Vanilia to be one I like. It’s a floral vanilla – sort of a precurser to Hermes Vanille Galante. Vanilla with lily and other florals. It’s possible I’m thinking more fondly of it now that it’s dc’ed (this happens).

Salad of the week: I bought some heirloom tomatos at a farmers market – red, yellow and slightly green tomatos, awfully mishapen and downright beautiful in their hideousness. I made a simple plate of sliced tomatos, basil leaves, razor thin cucumber and slices of goat cheese (took a log of goat cheese and thinly sliced it). Then drizzled with pesto sauce and sprinkled some garlic salt and pepper. OMG so good!

I got Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle this week. It’s a pleasant surprise. I’ve never been able to wear the masculine vetivers. I wear all sorts of masculine fragrances but just can’t do the vetivers (Encre Noir, FM Vetiver Extraordinaire, etc.) Vetiver Pour Elle is true enough to real vetiver but with it’s edges softened. I like it.

Lancome Magie (from La Collection not Magie Noire) is a beautiful thing.

Jil Sander No. 4 is a great flor-iental. It runs with the likes of Amarige and JPG Classique. Potent, sexy stuff.

The weather has been downright perfect. I wore Theorema this week, also YSL Nu edp and Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen.

Right now I’m wearing Chanel No. 18. What is the point of this stuff? It’s so inoffensive and bland – seems it was created for babies. Or perhaps new mothers, since babies probably shouldn’t wear perfume ;-)

Have a lovely weekend everyone. Happy Labor Day to those in the US, enjoy your day off!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Acqua di Parma Magnolia Nobile

There are fragrances that you really look forward to and then there are those that you REALLY look forward to. Being a huge fan of almost everything from Acqua di Parma, especially Profumo, which is in my humble opinion a hidden gem, and Iris Nobile edt and edp, I’ve been waiting breathlessly for Magnolia Nobile to arrive on my doorstep.

There was a gigantic magnolia tree outside my Aunt’s house growing up. What I remember most was that my Aunt needed to clean up after this tree – all the big meaty petals would fall and rot all over her lawn. There were so many rotting petals you had to be careful not to slip on the gook covering the lawn. I have a vague memory of the scent of magnolia flowers, I think it was a pretty floral with an undercurrent of lemon and...something else...something I can’t quite put my finger on. Maybe a vegetal quality? I used to live on Marlborough Street in Boston and I remember the street being lined with Magnolia trees. It was quite a beautiful site in the spring. Magnolia trees are such attention seekers, big show-offs really, so majestic and breathtaking, especially when their petals fall like snow.I’ve had a decent amount of contact with magnolias in my life but oddly the scent of the flowers never really impressed me. I’ve swooned for lilacs and apple blossoms and linden trees but magnolia is more of a visual beauty rather than a scented beauty for me. Sure, they smell good, but the scent has never stuck with me, I can barely conjure it up even if I think hard about it right now.

Along comes Magnolia Nobile (MN). I’ve worn MN for several days now. Honestly, I keep wearing it not because I love it but because I want to love it and I don’t. I like MN, but LIKE isn’t what I had in mind as I waited month after month for it’s arrival this year. Perhaps this is because, as I’ve mentioned, the scent of actual magnolia trees have never left much of an impression on me. Magnolia Nobile goes on with a nice citrus burst, which is easy to believe given that AdP does rather nice things with citrus (Colonia series). Magnolia Nobile reminds me very much of something. For the first 2 days I couldn’t figure out what it was, and then I read Octavian’s review at 1000 Fragrances and realized he’s spot on, of course – MN reminds me of Dior J’Adore. MN is like a cousin to J’Adore except instead of being somewhat watery and weak like J’Adore, MN casts a seductive floral spell that’s magnified well beyond J’Adore limits.

This is pretty much all I have to say about Magnolia Nobile. MN is a pretty perfume. It’s not insipid nor poorly constructed and it lasts quite a long time. I imagine there is a large consumer market that will enjoy this juice. Anyone who loves J’Adore might fall really hard for MN. Sadly, after all this waiting, I won’t be among those wearing Magnolia Nobile.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

L.T. Piver Heliotrope Blanc

A few weeks ago I was googling around for a good heliotrope perfume and came across a thread on Perfume of Life about L.T. Piver Heliotrope Blanc. I had never heard of L.T. Piver. It turns out, Piver has been around since 1774, and is a well regarded perfume company in Europe, but isn’t well known in the U.S. I found it Heliotrope Blanc at Escentual.com, in the UK. I’ve always enjoyed fragrances with a heliotrope note but never tried a heliotrope soliflore. I ordered Etro Heliotrope from Aedes last month but it’s on backorder and I haven’t received it yet.

I’ve been curious about heliotrope for several years now. Usually there’s a quality about heliotrope-heavy fragrances that I adore. For instance, I love People of the Labyrinths Luctor et Emergo but this is a cherry gourmand rendition of heliotrope. Barbara Bui, a recent love of mine, also has a strong heliotrope quality. The classic Guerlain Apres L’Ondee is prominently heliotrope as well as some mimosa fragrances like Parfum de Nicolai Mimosaique and Caron Farnesiana.

This heliotrope curiosity led me to plant it in my garden a few years back. Heliotrope flowers are either white or purple so I planted both. The actual flowers are intoxicating. Heliotrope is one of those unmistakeably sweet aromas, similar in it’s striking uniqueness, but not in smell to honeysuckle, lily of the valley and lilacs. White heliotrope is the more floral of the two heliotrope flowers. The white flowers are baby powder soft and sweet but not almondy or cherry-like. Finding a perfume that resembled the white heliotrope has been on my to-do list for some time.

L.T. Piver Heliotrope Blanc is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m head over heels smitten with this stuff. Heliotrope Blanc is delicate, powdery and cozy, but it also has a sexy sweet side that seems much more wearable than the cherry almond variety. Heliotrope Blanc initially makes me think of marshmallows dusted with talcum powder served next to a vase of white heliotrope flowers. It is sheer and transparent so I simply bathe in it. If you apply a lot, it lasts close to the skin for quite some time.

For anyone out there salivating at the idea of Heliotrope Blanc, please leave a comment, and I will draw one lucky person who will win a 5 ml decant of it. The drawing will close on Sunday, September 6th and I’ll announce the winner on Monday, September 7th.