Saturday, November 28, 2009

TWRT 11.28.09

This week's random thoughts ~

Lush only sells their Snowcake soap during the holidays, so I bought 12 bars. Snowcake smells like almondy goodness. I long for it all year.

I am still full from Thanksgiving. There are leftovers aplenty. Make them go away.

You know, I am a really huge fan of Beauty Habit. They've had a 20% off sale all this month. Luckyscent never has discounts (aside from free shipping which I must give them credit for). But with Beauty Habit I've received 20% off plus free shipping. I love them. There's only a day or two left of this sale - should I order Strange Invisible Perfumes Fire and Cream unsniffed?

I've settled on SPF 30 on my face. Does anyone have an SPF cream for the face they truly love? I'm using Aveeno Ultra Calming Daily Moisturizer (fragrance free SPF 30 for sensitive skin). It's ok but it does the usual thing I hate which is make my skin all shiny. My skin leans toward oily and I've never found an SPF which doesn't make me seem greasy. Is there anything out there - that is also fragrance free, non-comedogenic and the like? Suggestions are immensely appreciated.

I placed A LOT of orders this week with all the wonderful sales. Next week will be so amazing with all the boxes showing up. I can't wait. Amazon had special magazine subscription deals for $5 bucks so I bought a few as holiday gifts. Discover and Popular Science for myself but I can be geeky.

Beverage of the week: Agua de Jamaica, a Mexican juice drink which I believe to be sweetened Hibiscus iced tea. The first time I drank it I was on the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico, we were inland, not at the tourist traps, but touring the "real" Mexico. (If you do this rent a 4x4 truck and learn some Spanish), and Agua de Jamaica seemed to be the local favorite drink. I was pleasantly surprised to find it here in New Mexico and tasting just the same.

Are you watching Parks and Recreation with Amy Poehler? Sorry I'm bringing this up again. The sitcom is so darn funny and I still live in fear of it being canceled. It's my #1 comedy/sitcom now, with The Office and 30 Rock trailing behind it.

If you live near Trader Joe's and haven't tried their Peach Salsa you simply must. It might sound terrible but it is so good. I've converted everyone I know to Peach Salsa Fiends. Even those who only took a bite because I was forcing them with an eager face. Most are astonished at how good it is.

I hope LT and TS never review my beloved Teo Cabanel Alahine. I'm at the point where Alahine parfum extrait is my #1 HG of all time. If they were to give it a bad review, even though I'm not supposed to care because this is an entirely personal choice, I'd be crushed and would feel obliged to write to them to tell them they're simply wrong. I would have to tell them their subjective personal opinions are just wrong. (!) Perhaps they didn't wear it on skin - only tested it paper? Alahine is exquisite, there is no doubt.

I'm not mentioning my love of Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio this week because I'm not a stalker. I'm not.

I admit to being upset/angry with Serena of Ava Luxe. I loved several of her fragrances. I know she moved on to create jewelry and no longer eau de parfums and this is her life, her livelihood, her choice; but she's deprived me of some of my favorite fragrances. So I'm upset and sad.

Doesn't it drive you crazy when you're reading reviews on basenotes or MUA and you just know they're not reviewing the correct fragrance? For instance, you can tell a reviewer is describing YSL NU edt instead of edp and hope their low opinion on the edt doesn't sway anyone interested in the edp because it's so much better? I also maintain the perhaps unpopular opinion that you can't review a fragrance based solely on a 1 ml dab-on sample vial.

I can't wait to get my NM driver's license because my NJ license picture was the worst pic I've ever taken.

I didn't wear fragrance for Thanksgiving. With all the cooking and guests it didn't seem right. I received a sample of Laura Mercier Pistachio moisturizer from Nordstroms and used that instead. Doesn't it figure that everyone told me I smelled amazing? It was a delectable scent - utterly gourmand and it lasted for hours - amazing longevity actually - for a lotion.

Have a fragrant weekend everyone!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Amouage Dia Pour Femme: revisted

Earlier this year I tried Dia and scoffed it off. It simply wasn't the right moment for me to try Dia. There are right days and wrong days to try perfumes. I think it was back in the spring when I tried Dia and I had also purchased Amouage Gold which completely took my attention away from Dia. If you have Gold, you'll know that trying both of these fragrances on the same day was a bad idea. Gold is opulence bar none. Gold is grand, extravagant, old school perfumery at it's best. As much as I love potent old school fragrances, Gold wasn't for me either. It was just too much.

Yesterday the gorgeous Dia was staring at me. I do think perfumes call to me on occasion. I have been having a field day with big aldehydic fragrances this fall and somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I recalled that Dia was an aldedydic little number. So I wore Dia yesterday. And today, too. Suddenly Dia is perfection. Does this ever happen to you? You try something once, think nothing of it, then try it again and you love it? I feel I owe Dia an apology. She's been sitting on my shelf neglected all this time. Well, here's my apology.

Amouage Dia Pour Femme was created by Jean-Claude Ellena, did you know that? Odd isn't it? JCE is such a devout minimalist that I would never have associated him with anything Amouage. The last time JCE created anything old school was very nearly back in his childhood when he created VC&A's First. But here's the clincher, this is where it was obvious that Amouage wanted JCE for the creation of Dia. Dia is meant to be a softer, sparser, more demure and less heady daytime equivalent to the evening bombshell known as Amouage Gold. Well, well. Jean-Claude Ellena is pretty darn good at making sparse, demure and minimalist fragrances so he seemed the proper choice to me. But please keep in mind, Dia is minimalist IN COMPARISON to Gold. Dia is absolutely nothing like JCE's Hermes creations, it is still resolutely old school, classic and perhaps on the potent side of the aisle for some.

Most have compared Dia with Chanel No. 5. This is the starting point for any floral-aldehyde - compare it with Chanel No. 5 and this gives the peeps an understanding of what the fragrance smells like. So, there you have it, think of Chanel No. 5, but add more dewy florals in the heart and less soap. Dia will seem soapy and enormously aldehydic at first but once it dries down the luscious florals emerge. I think the most prominent floral for me is rose. But this is an abstract rose - not a realistic one - think of YSL Paris as an example of an abstract rose. Dia is not dark, remember, it's meant to be a daytime fragrance, so this rose is perhaps yellow or light pink. All the florals in Dia are bright, happy and cheerful. There's the sort of generic smell of expensive cosmetics in Dia. If you were to walk into a well-off ladies bathroom, one with marble counters, floors and sinks, a chaise lounge and a gigantic vase of fresh flowers, go directly to her cosmetics closet and inhale - you'll find this smell in Dia. Beyond the florals, well into the base, Dia does have a spicy, woody aroma. As the hours pass the aldehydic blast lessens and the fragrance becomes a clean bright floral over soft spices.

Dia is truly lovely, and Dia, if you're still reading, I'm very sorry I underestimated you earlier this year. Your sister Gold gets all the attention, but you are the better one for me.

top - fig, cyclamen, bergamot, tarragon, sage and violet leaves
heart - peach blossom, rose oil, orange flower, peony and orris
base - white musk, incense, vanilla, heliotrope, cedarwood, sandalwood and Guaiac wood.

Dia is expensive like all Amouage fragrances. Initially I bristled at the prices but now I think Amouage perfumes are high quality and worth it if you decide you love them. Amouage fragrances always have excellent longevity and sillage. So a bottle will last you a lifetime.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Sexiest Perfumes

Its a frequently asked question on the fragrance board at MUA, something along the lines of: "which fragrance is a man magnet? what do you consider to be the sexiest perfume? what scent gets the most compliments?" Usually the question comes from a newbie or someone visiting from another board. Many times the question is answered with jokes, such as "bacon" or "beer" or "just get naked." The question of what is a sexy perfume is asked so often it's hard for board regulars to bother answering it. Mostly, when a few good souls take the time to answer, something along the lines of "wear whatever makes you feel good," is the response.

Wearing what makes you happy and therefore feel good and sexy is the correct answer. But occasionally I get to thinking about what constitutes a generically sexy scent. I've come to the conclusion that a sexy fragrance is one that smells man-made, not something realistic like a soliflore or a specific aroma in nature. I wouldn't consider a scent that smells like true red roses or honeysuckle or peach salsa or cedar wood chips to be sexy. I do, however, think orientals and florientals are the sexiest scents. Chypres, to me, are fragrances one wears for herself. I can't imagine any chypre I own as sexy. Chypres are too complicated, intelligent, wanting to talk. Big aldehydic fragrances are too prissy and pulled together. I adore Le Labo Aldehyde 44 *because* it makes me feel dressed and complete, not undressed in a dimly lit room. I don't think anyone thinks hesperedic or green fragrances are sexy - I wear these to feel fresh and practical.

Here's my list of sexy orientals and florientals:

(in alphabetical order)

Alahine by Teo Cabanel - Alahine is a smoldering aldehydic amber with floral notes woven throughout. It's noticeable, warm and perhaps equally as sophisticated & refined as it is sexy. Alahine makes your skin hot and your mind wander. It's classic with a racy undercurrent. (Alternatives: hmmm, not really similar but picking up on the amber theme - maybe Laura Mercier Minuit Enchante or Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe but these are less polished)

Alien Liqueur Limited Edition - Alien Liqueur is hypnotic. It's the original Alien with a boozy, woody bent. It's heavy lidded and languid. It's sweet, spicy and addictive. (Alternative: Dior Addict)

Amarige by Givenchy - Amarige is perfume wearing stilettos. It doesn't whisper come hither, it announces it with a husky voice ala Kathleen Turner circa Body Heat. (Alternative: Jean Paul Gaultier Classique)

Barbara Bui Le Parfum - Barbara Bui is probably the most low-key and whisper-y type of sexy fragrance I can think of. If you don't want a potent perfume then this is your answer. Barbara Bui is all about the smell of your lovers undershirt and pillowcase. (Alternative: Costes)

Chaldee by Jean Patou - Musky and sweet, warm and animalic, slightly dirrrrty. Chaldee is an olfactory negligee. (Alternative: Bond No. 9 Fire Island)

Divine eau de parfum - Bombshell tuberose-oriental. Hollywood Glamour. (Alternative: maybe Chinatown, not completely sure)

Gucci eau de parfum - Gucci is a sensual skin scent extraordinaire. It's musky, sweet, herbal, spicy and becomes you. Gucci melts into your skin. If I could have sex with Gucci eau de parfum, I would, but then you'd think I was weird.

LouLou by Cacharel - another Hollywood Glamour scent here. LouLou is a bit less extravagant than Divine. LouLou might wear fishnets under her tailored suit and carry an old fashioned cigarette case in her purse for the occasional dalliance over coffee.

Monyette Paris - Now this is one of the most overtly floral of the bunch. Monyette is predominantly gardenia focused scent but it veers away from big in-your-face florals and falls firmly in the camp of sexy with it's luscious nag champa and mind altering musks.

Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle - In some ways, Musc Ravageur is similar in style to Gucci edp. MR is a sweet, vanillic musk with what seems like layer upon layer of different musks. There's a stage of Musc Ravageur when sniffing it numbs my nostrils like novocaine or some such thing (surely the clove). It's a naughty scent, pure and simple. (Alternative: not particularly similar but a runner up: Chanel Coromandel. Perhaps the only Chanel I find sexy).

Songes by Annick Goutal - Another overtly floral fragrance - almost too floral to be sexy but it manages a kittenish little shimmy towards the dark side with it's buttery tuberose, tropical frangipani and indolic white florals. (Alternative: Penhaligons Amaranthine)

I didn't include these in the above list, but obviously Shalimar should be included and the following masculines strike me as having the ability to make a bombshell out of a guy: Hermes Terre d'Hermes, Fahrenheit (don't shoot me), Parfums MDCI Invasion Barbare, Fresh Index Tobacco Flower, Creed Tabarome, Annick Goutal Sables and Caron Yatagan.

So, what fragrances do YOU think are sexy? Do you care? Do you avoid fragrances like these? Can we even define sexy perfumes or are they, like most things, entirely individual? What I'm wondering, is whether there is a culturally agreed upon type of scent which strikes most as sexy. Hmmm...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Incense Rose (Andy Tauer)

I'd read a lot--and heard even more--about Tauer perfumes before ever smelling any. People seem particularly fond, if not outright gaga, over L'air du Desert Marocain and Lonestar Memories, for instance, and the blogosphere is a'twitter with praise and testimonials about them. Vetiver Dance, one of the more recent Tauer releases, was greeted by the kind of anxiety you normally see associated with the next installment of the Twilight "saga". Even Luca Turin sang Tauer's praises, giving the majority of his work high marks, exempting the perfumer himself from the Guide's famously scathing wit.

During a trip to Los Angeles, I stopped in at the LuckyScent scent bar to see what all the fuss was about--but there was such a cacophony of smells competing for my attention that Tauer's fragrances didn't get the time they deserved. Stupidly, I decided that they must not be my thing. They hadn't knocked my socks off, so how could they be all that, I figured. This is a bit like saying Shalimar is inferior to Britney Midnight Fantasy because the latter sticks with you like blueberry gum, drowning out the former, along with memory, desire, hunger, and sex drive.

Dissolve. Months later, I received a little sample atomizer of Incense Rose in the mail. I think every perfume lover has those moments where he realizes how very little he knows, despite relentless exposure to everything from Guerlain to Lutens to Parfum D'Empire to Axe Body Spray. We smell so many things so often that we can sometimes mistake overkill for sophistication. Sometimes, we can discern what the average consumer can't--the finer points of Jicky, maybe, seeing past the civet. Other times, we're too jaded or distracted to recognize the quiet voice of greatness.

By itself, Incense Rose stood out. It rang out, really, and I was inspired to revisit all things Tauer, realizing that, in my rush to smell the trees, I'd missed the forest altogether. Incense Rose is pretty straightforwardly lovely, and truly unisex, a rich, calming blend of rose, frankincense, cardamom, coriander, and cedar, among other things. classifies it as "Chypre - Floral". There's certainly a bit of an old school feel about it, a textured resonance associated with vintage classics, right down to the patchouli and ambergris in its base. But Incense Rose is unmistakably about frankincense.

Castor and labdanum add touches of honeyed leather, a subliminal undercurrent of the animalic. Orris bridges the distance between the more medicinal and astringent aspects of the incense, spices, and cedar and the buttery floral warmth of bergamot and Bulgarian rose. Incense Rose is so well done, so perfectly constructed, that you don't realize how complex it is, how adeptly all these materials have been selected, measured, and applied. Frankincense is treated in such a way that the overall radiance feels fairly straightforward, sort of inevitable, as if simply characteristic of the note. It's only when you compare it to other frankincense-based scents that you really see how epic Incense Rose is, how heightened and dynamic a fragrance, how advanced Tauer's artistry has become. None of this gets at the weird balsamic heft of the construction, mind you.

Incense Rose uses high quality ingredients. One smell of any Tauer perfume and you won't need me or anyone else to tell you that. Next to Lonestar Memories (another personal favorite) Incense Rose seems to last better than anything else in the Tauer arsenal on my skin. It sticks with me all day, fluctuating with my moods. There are only a handful of fragrances I'd never be without. Incense Rose has a firm place among them.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Film Noir and Midnight Violet (Ava Luxe)

About a year ago, I was sent a decant of Midnight Violet. I didn't know what to make of it then--I still don't--but it prompted further exploration of fragrances by Ava Luxe and has remained a go-to scent for me ever since. As with any other line, there are stand-outs, some I feel strongly about, some I could do without. Some last; others don't. Midnight Violet, at least, has exceptional longevity and projection. At one time, the notes were listed as follows: violet, blue iris, orris, earth, black hemlock, galbanum, pink pepper, cinnamon, cedar, sandalwood, incense, wood balsam, moss, civet, and cashmere musk.

I say at one time because Midnight Violet seems to have been taken out of production, either permanently or for the time being. Some of Ava Luxe's scents are still available on the line's etsy page, though only in perfume oil concentration. I know that The Posh Peasant still stocks Midnight Violet, but the thought that it might one day be a thing of the past has inspired me to reconsider it with renewed interest. I was shocked to find that I've never reviewed it, or really any Ava Luxe fragrance in depth, especially given I like them as much as I do.

Midnight Violet is really about the hemlock, cedar, violet, and galbanum for me, and while it's said to be, and seems to be, an earthy violet, its camphoraceous qualities imbue it with a sense of the otherworldly, the slightly transitional, which might be where the name comes in. Abigail characterized Midnight Violet as a nighttime walk in the woods. I get that. More specifically, there are shapes shifting around in the darkness--maybe hallucinations, maybe not--and the moon casts just enough illumination to make you wonder. Like Ormonde Jayne Woman and Man, Midnight Violet is ultimately something simultaneously unsettling and settled, with a strange, eerie calm that should be but isn't at odds with its vibrantly outdoorsy aroma. Midnight Violet is more robust by far than all things Ormonde, but it shares some of the heightened tranquility of Ormonde and its sense of the mystical .

I wasn't a huge fan of Biba, another Luxe fragrance I didn't understand but had no real drive to. Queen Bess is a more than decent spice rose. Madame X was a bit too something or other for me, resulting in a bothersome distraction on my skin. I do like Cafe Noir, very much, and have written about it briefly elsewhere. However much you like or dislike certain Ava Luxe fragrances, however, there's no denying that for such a small outfit, the line has managed to create a distinct sensibility for itself, not just through the fragrances and the names chosen for them but through the imagery and strategies employed by the brand.

The line is a sincere and persuasive expression of its creator's interests and influences in a way (and to an extent) which is unusual for an indie perfumer--let alone niche or mainstream. The art nouveau motifs, the Hollywood glamour photos, the Vargas-like illustrations: together these form a filigreed, retro presence which, while borrowing from the past, creates something singular and entirely new, walking you into a world the fragrances embody. That sensibility provides you with a framework with which to evaluate the line.

Film Noir is one of my favorite leathers and another Ava Luxe fragrance presently unavailable on the line's etsy page. While Film Noir doesn't have Midnight Violet's forcefulness and seems to last a fraction of the time, I'm not bothered. The frame of mind it puts me in is solid enough to carry its own weight once Film Noir leaves the building. Sadly, the little bottle I have could be my last; not even The Posh Peasant, which has a pretty extensive selection of Ava Luxe, stocks this one.

Film Noir is unique in the category of leathers, as far as I know. Unlike Lancome Cuir, Balmain Jolie Madame, and Chanel Cuir de Russie, there's no underlying presence of violet or iris. Which isn't to say Film Noir is heavy on the birch tar. What I'd put it closest to is Donna Karan Signature, another favorite of mine. Like Signature, Film Noir is a bright leather with a lot of levity to it, an unusually fresh astringency in the top notes and the heart. If the Chanel and Lancome leathers are seated on a worn saddle for a horse ride through a field of flowers, Film Noir is out amongst the pines; where they are languorous and mellow, Film Noir is the bright white of an old crime thriller, its heroine's (or femme fatale's) overexposed face, secrets lurking under a deceptively straightforward surface.

Some people have seen a discrepancy between the perfume's title and its smell. It isn't that there's no darkness in Film Noir, no shadowed areas. It's more that the mysteries hide themselves in broad daylight, where they're least expected. Film Noir smells of new leather gloves and a purse into which have been thrown keys to hidden rooms, phone numbers scrawled on matchbooks, revealing photos and companion demands for money, a smart little handgun perfect for fitting under one's sleeve, and an embroidered handkerchief smelling as much of the man whose company it just left as the woman who carried it away. Were I to compare it favorably to another contemporary leather, it would be Rien by Etat Libre D'Orange. The two aren't similar at first glance (Rien is notably more pungent, with incense in the mix) but they're exploring similar territory, a region where leather is as apt to come into contact with concrete and metal as flowers and fields.

I hope that the removal of Midnight Violet and Film Noir from rotation is temporary, for your sake as much as mine. In a sea of uninspired dross, they're worth owning. These two alone show both the range and the consistency of the line. At first glance, they might seem world's apart. It helps to picture Midnight Violet as the forest Film Noir's femme fatale leads a detective into, where he tries and probably fails to read her face in moonlight thatched by overhead branches.

TWRT 11.20.09

This week's random thoughts ~

I had a revelation today. I love Baghari. I've had it for a long time and never really worn it, spent time with it. I wore it today and it's sublime. It's a big aldehydic floral akin to Chanel No. 22, Le Labo Aldehyde 44 and Mariella Burani. I'm not sure when this shift happened, but I love aldehydic fragrances now. Baghari doesn't have the most amazing longevity, but for the first hour it's blissful. It lasts on me about 3 hours which is decent.

Now that I live in such a dry climate I use a lot of moisturizer and for the first time in my life I wear SPF 30 I'm so close to the sun at this altitude. I'm wondering if I should get higher than 30?

I have never ever ever ever ever found a mascara that I think is excellent. I've never worn a mascara that does all the great things it claims to do. I received a free Chanel mascara with a recent fragrance purchase. This stuff is the best mascara I've ever used. It's called Exceptionnel de Chanel, Intense Volume and Curl mascara, in Smoky Noir. I know it's just mascara but I'm astounded it actually works. Here's a link in case you're interested. It's $30 bucks and I'm pretty sure I'll be purchasing it from now on.

Speaking of Chanel, I've sorta bashed No. 5 in the past because I don't think it deserves it's exalted status. I have tried it in all concentrations previously but I just bought a bottle of No. 5 parfum that is really much better than I remembered. Did this change and actually get better? With all the complaints of reformulation I want to log this very positive note that I think No. 5 in pure parfum is better than it ever was.

At the risk of seeming like a Laurie Erickson stalker, I would just like to mention that Jour Ensoleille is yet another Sonoma Scent Studio gem. Does she make one single bad or boring perfume? I think not. She is gifted. Jour Ensoleille is a light chypre, with sunny, happy floral notes of orange blossom, tuberose and jasmine. When it dries down the florals lessen and it becomes an easy and gentle oakmoss base with some green-ish resinous notes. In the drydown it has a nice hay note that I find dreamy. I'm all kinds of crazy for hay.

Brian and I have discussed this and we agree that Dexter is just not good this season.

I thought Diorissimo eau de parfum (edp not edt) was discontinued but I purchased it for The Posh Peasant this week. I also got some Diorissimo parfum extrait. I'm afraid to open it because I will surely want to keep it for myself.

I will be volunteering at the local animal shelter soon. I feel responsible (because it's our fault, as humans) that there are so many neglected and unwanted animals. I will be walking dogs and playing with them and cleaning up their stalls. I'm really looking forward to it but I know there will be sad moments. And I know I must be strong because I have 2 pugs and cannot have another dog. Cannot. Reminding myself that I cannot.

This week I've been on an oatmeal kick. Sugar-free, good old fashioned oatmeal, sprinkled with slivered almonds, orange essence cranberries, sliced bananas, cinnamon and a dollop of maple syrup. It doesn't seem possible that this is good for me because it's oh-so-yummy.

Does anyone out there watch Friday Night Lights? OK, a show about high school football in Texas would *never* be my thing but a friend urged me to watch it a few seasons ago and it is such a great series. It actually makes me interested in football a little bit and I know nothing about football. The characters are terrific. Have I already mentioned this? Sorry if I'm repeating myself.

I was not impressed with CdG Artek. Seems rather similar to the CdG made for H&M. I am, however, still in love with CdG Daphne.

Have a fragrant weekend everyone! :-)

PS: Above and side photos are Taylor Kistch, aka Timmy Riggins from Friday Night Lights. So...enjoy a little eye candy folks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And the winner is....

...drum roll...


You've won the set of 3 Travalo atomizers. Please contact me with your shipping details.

Congratulations :-)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Tribute to Diptyque L'Eau Trois

Diptyque L'Eau Trois is the best myrrh focused fragrance I have ever sniffed.

Somehow I managed to buy a bottle of L'Eau Trois many years ago before I was even a full fledged Scent Junkie, in fact, I still have my first bottle, with only about 15% remaining. L'Eau Trois has been around since 1975 and I probably stumbled across it in the mid-90's. I have lived in fear of it's discontinuation ever since. And now that terrible day has dawned...L'Eau Trois is discontinued.

I have a few other myrrh/resin focused fragrances; Annick Goutal Myrrhe Ardente, Laura Tonatto Amir, Etro Messe de Minuit, the CdG incense series and to a lesser extent L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer, but none of these are as good as L'Eau Trois. I'm serious, I really think L'Eau Trois is the holy grail of myrrh fragrances. The discontinuation of this pains me.

Myrrh seems a difficult scent to get right. As much as I love Annick Goutal fragrances, Myrrhe Ardente was a let down, it mostly smells of root beer. In my book, fragrant myrrh needs to be resinous, woody, herbaceous, incense-y and only barely sweet. Most other myrrh fragrances are actually amber scents with too much vanilla frosting. L'Eau Trois is so perfect, it's as if I wrote a letter to Diptyque asking them to create an exquisitely dry (dry as a bone) scent, with loads of herbs, woods, spice, incense and barely a drop of something sweet just to make it a perfume one can wear in public.

Rustic is a word that comes to mind when I smell L'Eau Trois. It's a rustic, natural, earthy, sappy smell. I think of tree sap - gooey and golden. Thyme and rosemary are prominent notes - which I adore - it's not very often you smell these herbs in perfume. And there's also a coniferous (pine) quality to L'Eau Trois. The scent of L'Eau Trois is so balancing, centering and idyllic it seems the perfect antidote to a stressed individual. Diptyque suggest that L'Eau Trois is meant to capture Northern Greece. I've never been to Northern Greece, but if it smells like this, I would love to visit and stay for awhile. Having recently moved to the southwestern United States, I find a striking similarity with the smells here in the high desert. Perhaps this is why I've been craving L'Eau Trois and brooding over it's discontinuation.

I think of L'Eau Trois as an uncompromising perfume renegade. She doesn't smell of flowers or vanilla or citrus or fruit like the vast majority of fragrances. In my mind, L'Eau Trois is Amelia Earhart, a pioneer who has left us before her time.

The nose behind this fragrance is Serge Kalouguine. Notes are: rosemary, myrrh, myrtle, oregano, cistus labdanum, pine, laurel, and thyme.

Coromandel: Second Opinion

Abigail reviewed Coromandel months ago during a Chanel intensive, and I remember thinking, "That sounds promising," but when I tried it at Nordstrom it struck me as being more than a little similar to Prada for Women--which meant a definitive No Thank You for me. As usual, I should have listened more closely to my co-blogger, because of course this stuff is leagues away from Prada (or anything else, really) and so good it's almost indecent.

I'm a fan of Jacques Polge and Christopher Sheldrake, the two behind Coromandel, and I do see a connection to Sheldrake's Borneo 1834, another fragrance adjectives fail. Is Coromandel Chanel's version of Borneo, as some have suggested? Probably no more than Diorella, by Edmond Roudnitska, was Dior's version of Le Parfum de Therese, also by Roudnitska. To be sure, Coromandel is closer to Borneo than to many of Sheldrake's other fragrances, but the contribution by Polge is significant enough that it fits resolutely within the Chanel line-up, not just its Les Exclusifs brethren but all the department store mainstays, from No. 19 to Allure, with a definite tip of the hat to Chance.

Coromandel has the trademark citrus shimmer that many of Polge's Chanel fragrances have, that sense of being illuminated from within, shot through with light. The most recent example of this tendency would be Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere. The in-store displays for Eau Premiere feature a tiny light under each bottle, driving the point home. As far as I know, Sheldrake had nothing to do with the latest flanker to No. 5. Eau Premiere has a fraction of Coromandel's staying power, and none of its sturm und drang. Part of what gives Coromandel this sense of drama is probably its treatment of patchouli, a note it fully embraces. While few will characterize this as a head shop patchouli, no one will accuse it of transparency, either. Much has been made of the cleanliness of contemporary patchouli. Though definitely of its time, Coromandel has an earthiness the majority of patchouli-focused fragrances take pains to scrub away. For this alone, it sits alongside Cuir de Russie as one of the bolder iterations of the Chanel sensibility.

You'll find quite a dollop of vanilla in there, as well as amber, spices, woods, and frankincense. Coromandel broods around on the skin with a forcefulness that no other Exclusif displays. It smells of cosmetics periodically, specifically powder, and I would wager there are aldehydes in there, but none of these make it particularly feminine to me. Strangely, the overall effect is simultaneously subtle and robust, asserting itself with a sinuous stealth Ninotchka might applaud. Chanel calls Coromandel exotic and voluptuous, a "woody oriental", which is a bit like characterizing a Cadillac as a four wheel vehicle. For me, Coromandel straddles the gender divide with unusual finesse, making transitions back and forth as it plays itself out. Chanel says the fragrance pays homage to Gabrielle Chanel's passion for the decorative lacquer of the same name. The intricate, submerged intaglio of coromandel screens make an apt visual for the perfume's peculiar ambiance, rendering polished detail out of rough hewn lumber.

Lightning strikes twice, I guess. Last year, I received a half-empty bottle of Cuir de Russie from the Chanel Boutique in Beverly Hills. I assumed at the time that the leakage and the busted atomizer were due to magnificently silly packaging by the staff (several sheets of tissue paper and a lot of air space, if memory serves). Coromandel came in a box which was packed more meticulously than the cookies your grandmother sends at Christmas. Nevertheless, it too was half gone. The perfume was still in its cellophane wrap, and once I removed it I had to use a pen knife to pry open the Les Exclusifs container. That tells you something about the quality of oils used in these fragrances, so thick they served as glue with the addition of a little heat. The fact that the atomizer was askew suggests faulty design--or extraordinary bad luck.

Then again, I know that Abigail's bottle of Coromandel leaked significantly in the mail. That makes three, yet when I called Chanel to complain, the sales associate reacted as though I were reporting a Bigfoot sighting. "I've never heard of anything like that happening before," he said, adding very quickly: "I'm not saying I don't believe you." He didn't say he did believe me, and I had the distinct feeling it wasn't his first time around the block with this kind of phone call. At least they offered to send a replacement bottle, without asking me to return the first one. There's something vaguely tawdry and thoroughly inconvenient about returning a broken bottle of Chanel to Beverly Hills, as I was asked to do with Cuir de Russie. Call it insult to injury, or luxury goods buzz kill.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Travalo Atomizer: Free Giveaway!

I received this refillable atomizer and gave it a test run myself.

It's a nitfy little thing. Perfect for us Scent Junkies.

The exterior isn't glass, it's tough aluminum, therefore virtually unbreakable under normal conditions. Travalos are incredibly easy to fill - you don't need funnels or pipettes or excellent eye hand coordination and you won't waste a drop of your precious perfume. The size is perfect for pocket or purse, airplane or gym bag. And they come in three colors, gold, silver and pink.

I received mine from - this link will take you there and show you how to use a Travalo atomizer along with some images.

I would purchase a ton of them but they are £9.99 (approx. $16 US). They do seem well made and worth it to me, for a few of my favorite fragrances. They are refillable and will last for years.

FREE GIVEAWAY - one lucky reader will receive a set of three Travalos - in gold, silver and pink. The drawing is open to readers who have commented at least once before. Drawing closes on Wednesday November 18th. Good luck!

Above photo courtesy of: Valentine Zavgorodnev

Friday, November 13, 2009

More gems from Sonoma Scent Studio: Opal & Femme Jolie

The past few days have left me in a bad mood. Sometimes I turn to big, billowy fl-orientals when I'm down, as a sort of olfactory armor to make people leave me alone. But other times I want something cuddly and warm, something that takes care of me, gently.

I've mentioned before that one of Brian's sayings is "one can't have too few skin scents" and I thoroughly concur. But I broke my anti-skin scent rule by loving Barbara Bui Le Parfum. So maybe I was ripe for another skin scent to waltz along and win my heart. I ordered a few fragrances from Sonoma Scent Studio to have at The Posh Peasant. Several I knew I would love but a few were meant for decanting purposes. And, just for the record, I live in fear of being stuck with all this perfume at The Posh Peasant one day, that nobody will buy it, so I try to only purchase things I like. But I must buy perfumes for other's tastes, hence, Sonoma Scent Studio Opal.

Opal is described by the perfumer, Laurie Erickson, as a vanilla musk. A comforting, warm and sweet scent. Something entirely inoffensive and safe. Sounds utterly boring if I'm being honest. It took me about a week to even smell Opal. But yesterday I needed something comforting and the bottle was literally staring at me so I tried it. Wow. It *is* comforting, warm, safe and inoffensive but it's also downright cheerful, delicious and sexy. I find Opal powdery. But it's the sort of powdery quality I love, an illuminated from within sort of gorgeous powdery aspect. It's a vanilla-musk-sandalwood but the vanilla is that sort of fluffy powdery vanilla and not a foody one. There's also a hint of bergamot and ambrette giving the overall scent a jab of freshness so it's not all vanilla-musk-blah-ness. You might compare Opal with Creative Scentualizations Perfect Veil but I find Opal far superior. Opal is less sweet and more potent with a higher quality sandalwood note. A few hours after applying Opal for the first time I went back and spritzed myself again - at least 4 times. I wanted to be bathed in it. Instead of "Calgon take me away" this was "Opal take me away" and it did.

So now I have 2 skin scents in my arsenal. And the beauty of Opal is that it's potent. One big turnoff with other skin scents is that they're fleeting. Like all perfumes from Sonoma Scent Studio, Opal is highly concentrated, virtually parfum strength I believe, and it lasts forever.

Sometimes perfumes call to mind a specific person, celebrity or character and Opal makes me think of Nigella Lawson. Nigella is gorgeous, feminine, soft but also incredibly sexy. I can't seem to watch her cooking shows, though, because they are all about her beauty and not about the darn food.
The other gem from Sonoma Scent Studio is Femme Jolie. Now I purchased Femme Jolie knowing it was my type of thing. And that it was. I read on SSS's website that Femme Jolie is back by popular demand for a limited time. According to the perfumer, Femme Jolie is a long-lasting cedar scent composed of woods, soft spices, musk, fruits, and florals. Notes are ginger, cinnamon, clove, plum, peach, orange blossom, violet, cedar, sandalwood, vanilla, musk. The floral notes are soft and subtle while the cedar and spices are more prominent.

Ok, seriously, if you love woods and spices you've got to get some Femme Jolie. This is Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits and Feminite de Bois but better. I've said this before and I know it's probably taboo but I find Sonoma Scent Studio's fragrances on par if not better than the big boys. Femme Jolie is an extravaganza of soft woods and zesty spices. I love the undercurrent of ginger, cinnamon and clove. It isn't heavy in the least and swirls about you in a light, yet potent fashion. The quality of the cedar and sandalwood the perfumer uses is simply divine. Femme Jolie is fantastic stuff.
Sonoma Scent Studio website

Top photo of Sonoma Scent Studio boxes by Nathan Branch

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gucci Eau de Parfum

The juice is dark brown, that alone made me want it. It took me a few wearings to truly love it, but, oh, how I do.

Gucci eau de parfum was created in 2002 by Daniela Roche and was apparently based upon an idea by Tom Ford. Do not confuse Gucci edp with Gucci by Gucci or Gucci II which are inferior by a mile. Gucci by Gucci is housed in a square brown bottle. The good stuff, the stuff I'm writing about, is Gucci edp, pictured above, it's the brown juice in a clear glass bottle. A hefty glass bottle.

Gucci eau de parfum is easily Gucci's best fragrance next to Envy. Gucci edp is dirty. It's a filthy little trollop for the first hour. One you might wish you hadn't worn to the office. I don't even know how to categorize Gucci edp. It's a whole number of things all at once - it's a dirty musk - a woody oriental - a luscious skin scent - a sweet vanillic leather - a herbaceous yet synthetic elixir. The word potion comes to mind when I sniff Gucci edp. It seems to be a potion rather than a perfume. It's drop dead sexy in an understated manner. It's Debra Winger in Urban Cowboy. It's not a curvaceous blond bombshell but a tousled natural beauty in jeans and her lover's t-shirt. She probably has a tattoo and a scar.

Gucci edp starts off a bit rocky for me. It has a weird medicinal start, perhaps the mixing of notes such as thyme, cumin and orange blossom. I've come to love this odd start in the way I sometimes long for the beginning of Tubereuse Criminelle. Though, for the record, Gucci edp's start is nowhere near as difficult as Tubereuse Criminelle. After about an hour, Gucci edp becomes so easy to wear. It melts into my skin and becomes one of those "me but better" fragrances. Gucci edp doesn't shout "look at me" but instead slinks into the room and slowly but surely takes the center of attention. It's a potion. I'm telling you. There's magic here.

Top notes - orris, heliotrope, orange blossom, and vanilla absolute.
Middle notes - cistus, cumin, and thyme
Base notes - patchouli, vanilla, and deep musk.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

TWRT on Sunday 11.8.09

This Week's random thoughts ~

It's only a matter of time until I decide a pair of cowgirl boots would be tres chic.

The dry desert climate is changing my taste in perfumes. At least I think it's the climate but maybe it's the season because I cannot fathom wearing a big floral right now. It's all woods, spices, incense and resins which seem to match the terrain here.

Are you watching Parks & Recreation with Amy Poehler? The show is hysterical, don't miss it. Plus I worry not enough people are watching it and it will be canceled.

I hardly ever complain/comment about the price of perfume but the Le Labo City Exclusives and the new Creed Sublime Vanille are making $250 bottles seems reasonable. I seriously hope that $1000 bottles of perfume aren't on the horizon. My scented hobby does have a limit. I do think the Creed bottle is gorgeous, though.

Sopapillas are so good. They are similar to beignets in New Orleans but even better.

I saw Julia & Julie last night. It's a great, feel good flick. I feel like cooking.

Wasn't there a magnolia scent coming from Frederic Malle this Fall?

I'm still head over heels in love with Le Labo's Aldehyde 44. It's in my top 10 of all time. Don't ask me to list my top 10, though. It would probably be around 25.

Brian was right about the Limited Edition Angel and Alien Liqueur. I really like the Alien liqueur. It's so over the top I feel as if I should be going to the Rocky Horror Picture show when I wear it. Fragrances are supposed to be fun and interesting - not practical - at least not practical all the time. I'm wearing Alien Liqueur right now...L.O.V.E it.

Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise is pleasant. It mostly smells like root beer to me.

Sandwich of the week: breakfast burrito made with egg whites, refried pinto beans, green chiles (mild), Paul Newman's peach salsa, and a dab of light sour cream and guacamole.

Purchase I'm most looking forward to showing up: Parfum d'Empire Equistrius.

Pre-order I've long given up on liking: L'Artisan Havana Vanille

Aspect of perfume I enjoy the least: advertising. The models seem increasingly young and I'm just so tired of the sexy 17 year old girl ad. Yawn.

Notes I'd like to see show up in perfumery: aloe, cactus, pinon, roasted pecans, spray of sunset, old leather saddle, aspens in the mountains, tomatillo (!) ;-)

YSL Baby Doll

I wonder. Maybe the folks at YSL created a bottle in the shape of a spinning top so that it might withstand all the knocks it gets. The derision toward Baby Doll is so near-unanimous that until recently I basically ignored it, like a movie I've watched and don't even see at the video store anymore. It's on sale perpetually at TJ Max, which seems odd, given it's also ubiquitous at the department store, where, increasingly, the counter space is sparse. Both Macy's and Dillards have "reorganized" numerous times over the last six months to a year, shrinking their inventories by half, yet Baby Doll remains.

I'd imagined Baby Doll to be sugary sweet and mind-numbingly floral. Michael Edwards lists it as "floral--fruity". I thought it must be the quintessential example of the category, the be all and end all of a trend I've been not-so-patiently sitting out. The top notes seemed to confirm the suspicion. According to Osmoz: black currant, orange, apple, pineapple. What else could there possibly be to say?

I was pretty surprised when I smelled the stuff, because while it is sugared and it is somewhat floral, the first and lasting impression is salty and bitter. I mean this in a good way. There's something so tart and puckered about Baby Doll that it reminds me of some dessert I'd enjoy smelling if not tasting at the local Korean restaurant. There's a deliciously pickled quality to it, something that wakes you up and takes you on a joy ride.

Is it childish? I expected it to be; not just because of the name, a dead giveaway, but because of the packaging and the reputation of the juice. Wearing it, I'm not apt to answer so conclusively. There's no question it's not your dress-up oriental. This is not Opium. You don't wear it to a funeral, probably, unless the deceased asked for a party. It isn't stuffy. It isn't anywhere near sophisticated. This is the kind of perfume that enters a lame party and gets everyone dancing by forcing the DJ to change the tune. Childish, to me, is Britney Spears Midnight Fantasy: something you might whip up in your E-Z Bake Oven in a matter of minutes because, really, it's all about the icing.

What I realized, smelling Baby Doll, is that the name is tongue in cheek. This perfume was released ten years ago, before the fragrance industry started so relentlessly marketing to tweens. It speaks to a sensibility and a stereotype, playing with connotations and received ideas in a child-like, as opposed to childish, way. While expecting very little from YSL is understandable at this point, picturing faux-pouty April Lavigne or a sixteen year-old with glittered lip gloss might be just a bit literal. Baby Doll is decidedly adult. It isn't a young girl but a grown woman in a sexy dress and mary-jane shoes with six inch heels, playing off a man's desperate desire for youth with the kind of wit only a mature woman has.

Cassis often does weird things to a perfume, when handled well. The nearest analog to Baby Doll, for me, is Cartier's So Pretty, the brainchild of Jean Guichard. Released in 1995, four short years before Baby Doll, So Pretty's use of Cassis is more openly staid, but the anarchy it sets loose on the chypre template has the spirit of the young in it. Cassis has an air of insolence. Used intelligently, it's a bracing shock to the system, a contradiction, both succulent and puckered. So Pretty is a young girl dressed up in her mother's lipstick. Her image in the mirror recalls her mother's generation but looks straight ahead with a confidence bordering on arrogance. She looks rather silly making faces she doesn't understand, but the lipstick does a lot of the work for her. Baby Doll is the older woman the lipstick belongs to. She doesn't have to make faces anymore. Been there, done that, with an evolved sense of humor and irony to prove it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A winner...

Congratulations to Gator Grad, you won The Body Shop Love Etc!

please contact me with your shipping details.