Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Prada Infusion de Tubereuse: A review

Ok, fellow fragrance fanatics, make sure you properly set your expectations for this one. This is Infusion de Tubereuse, a new addition to Prada’s Ephemeral Infusion Collection.

lasting a very short time; short-lived; transitory: the ephemeral joys of childhood.
lasting but one day: an ephemeral flower.
anything short-lived, as certain insects.

1570–80; < Gk ephḗmer(os) short-lived, lasting but a day (ep- ep- + hēmér(a) day + -os adj. suffix) + -al1

—Related forms
e•phem•er•al•ly, adverb
e•phem•er•al•ness, noun
non•e•phem•er•al, adjective
non•e•phem•er•al•ly, adverb
un•e•phem•er•al, adjective
un•e•phem•er•al•ly, adverb

1. fleeting, evanescent, transient, momentary, brief.
1. permanent.

I think Prada’s Infusion collection are meant to be modern eau fraiche, eau legere or summertime colognes. Think of 4711 and how it is meant to be sprayed or splashed liberally and often. Prada’s Infusion collection make me think of sitting down to a meal and being served a lemon scented towel to clean your hands and freshen up.

Infusion de Tubereuse is a pretty, sheer, wispy tuberose fragrance. I think it is just right for what it aimed to be and who it’s consumers are likely to be. I am a tuberose fanatic and I do like this tuberose. It is a beginner tuberose. It is delicate and infused with loads of clean freshness, citrus and green. It is not an indolic tuberose, certainly no metallic, meaty, fleshy, animalic vibes going on here. This is a paired down, simple and fresh tuberose. It is pretty much exactly what I expected. I will wear this during the warm weather this summer. It is polite and socially acceptable. I think those who dislike tuberose could actually enjoy this. Those who adore tuberose might be the one’s disappointed.

Notes: Indian tuberose, petitgrain bigarade, blood orange and dynamone.

Also pictured above is Prada Infusion de Vetiver, coming soon...

Ralph Lauren: Vintage Lauren and a burst of 80's memories

Wow. Vintage Ralph Lauren Lauren. I just had the strongest memories of high school after smelling it. I wore Lauren occasionally in the mid-80’s, I might have owned a bottle, not sure, but many of my friends wore it as well as their older sisters. I have always associated White Linen, Beautiful, Poison and LouLou with high school but I guess it’s been nearly 20 years since I smelled Lauren. Truth is the reformulated Lauren is tragic. It smells nothing like original Lauren. I know because I bought some for nostalgia’s sake a few years ago and was confused. I couldn’t remember why I liked it so much. This was because it’s not the same fragrance and the new crap is entirely different. I have no idea why they would butcher such a classic.

Junior High: monogrammed Bermuda bags from Pappagallo. Handmade braided hair barrettes with long flowy ribbons. Sticker albums. Duck boots. Duran Duran. Van Halen. Prince. Cyndi Lauper and Madonna. Ralph Lauren Lauren brings it all back so vividly. We used pay phones back then. I think they actually cost 10 cents. We could smoke in the movie theater (how dreadful) and cigarettes weren’t all we were smoking. Skin tight Guess jeans with ankle zippers. Everything else was baggy. I got an Apple computer as a freshman in high school; this was so cool. Arcades. Do you remember we actually left the house to hang out at the mall and go to the arcades? I had the high score on Ms. Pacman. How many times did you see Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Less Than Zero and A Room with A View? Then came “alternative music.” In Boston, this was WFNX, 101.7. The Smiths, The Cure, PIL, This Mortal Coil, The Violent Femmes (I can still recite about every lyric from the Violent Femmes), The Cult, REM (which I never really liked, I pretended to like REM), INXS, The Velvet Underground, They Might be Giants, Pixies, 10,000 Maniacs, Ministry, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, New Order. I wore only black from about 1986-1989. I was so goth.

Goodness. I haven’t thought about Rob Cheevers, my major freshman crush, in ages. He was a senior I was a freshman. So cliché. I just about stalked that poor boy. Dear Lord Rob Cheevers is over 40 now. He’s probably fat and bald. Demi Moore was flat chested in the 80’s. Tom Cruise was relevant. Molly Ringwald had the puffy lips, much before Angelina Jolie.

Sigh. RL Lauren, you smelled so pretty. How times have changed.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

More on Histoires de Parfums: Tubereuse L'Animale

Abigail and I often think along the same lines. We split L'Animale over a month ago, and though I loved it instantly, and we've talked about it some since, I kept forgetting to write about it. This week I started thinking about it again. I wore it two days ago. All morning, I reminded myself to sign on so that I might put it into words. It's hard to put into words, as Abigail (aka Birthday Girl today) said. It's beyond words in certain ways for me. I read a review of L'Animale and the other two in the trio of HDP's tuberose-themed fragrances on Grain de Musc where Denyse seemed able to put all three into words (is there anything this fantastic writer can't put into words), and Abigail's done a decent job too, so what's my problem?

I think part of what stymies me lately when it comes to writing about perfume is that in a lot of ways I don't always feel so wordy about fragrance. It's not something which prompts me to immediately start looking for a vocabulary in my head. I value that part of smell which falls beyond words and the intellect, and I like to spend some time gestating with the fragrance. More often than not, after this gestation period I'm further beyond words, and the scent has entered some psychic space of mood and memory. What leads me to blog is wanting to communicate about fragrance in general. I like talking about it. I like hearing what other people have to say. I like our giveaways because people come out of the woodwork and this can feel like something close to a conversation. But I don't often like narrowing any fragrance down. And the posts I do best are free-associational.

Along those lines, I considered discussing some of my favorite green scents. By green I mean the color of the juice, not the category. Some fragrances make perfect sense in green: like Yendi, which is a cut grass aldehyde. Others should be green and aren't, like Givenchy III or Jean-Louis Scherrer. Stick with me here. Others make sense in an unusual way. Think of Eau Noire by Dior, which isn't "green" in theory but feels so right, so apt, when you smell it and look at it simultaneously. The color registers emotionally. Are so many scents amber and clear because we expect them to be, and imagine something must have gone wrong if they aren't? I suspect green feels so right to me in the context of Eau Noire partly because a green fragrance is unusual to a point approaching decadent--and Eau Noire has some pretty decadent pleasures: rich, almost savory but sweet too, like sex on skin.

L'Animale has immortelle in it, as does Eau Noire. The color of the fragrance is greener still. It seems even weirder in the case of L'Animale because the Histoires perfumes, though there aren't a ton of them, are all pretty predictably hued. When my bottle of L'Animale arrived it was thrilling to see that shade of emerald, not brilliant but swampy green, through the bottle. It was almost like a warning. The most shocking thing was how little like tuberose the thing smells. Tuberose you say? Oh really? It totally caught me off guard, which is a fantastic way to experience a perfume.

Unlike Abigail (and a lot of other bloggers, judging by the sometime hostility toward the line), I've been very impressed and smitten with Histoires de Parfums overall. Some could have better longevity, but this is a constant issue for me. My favorites are Noir Patchouli (hold up, also green!) and 1740 de Sade. De Sade is a good comparison, one I made the moment I smelled L'Animale. In fact, L'Animale seems like a more androgynous version of 1740. Both focus on immortelle. 1740 is intense, the same way Angel Liqueur and Malle's Une Rose are, with the near-syrupy density of a tawny port someone's been storing in a dark cask for decades.

Denyse from Grainde Musc smells the tuberose eventually. I never do. I might not be looking too hard. I don't ever smell the tuberose in Vierges et Toreros by Etat Libre D'Orange, either. I smell wet dog and rubber (don't assume I don't love this smell). L'Animale feels like a sweaty scent. Something your body would make of a more delicate perfume after a night out dancing in a tropical climate. It seems old--not vintage necessarily, not the way people mean "vintage fragrance". More like something stored in a crypt, some special elixir with dangerous properties meant for the right hands.

Another thing I thought of when I saw and smelled L'Animale was a trip I took to Barcelona once. You couldn't get Absinthe anywhere else but, I think, I don't know, like, Prague or something? Someone will correct me if I'm wrong. You can get Absinthe all over now, but it doesn't have wormwood, which is what I was told made it outlawed. Only a few places in the maze of old town Barcelona served Absinthe at the time. We spent an entire evening looking for it, searching with the kind of manic zeal I usually reserve for the perfume counter. When we found it, and drank it, and were in some head space I hadn't entered before and haven't since, and couldn't really put into words (here we go again), I looked at the green residue in my glass and thought how perfect the color was for the sensation of the liquor. L'Animale has the same kind of vaguely clandestine mystery about it, and I can picture someone pouring it into the bottle over a cube of sugared immortelle laced with who knows what.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Histoires de Parfums: Tubereuse 3 L'Animale

After a few days of writing reviews for fragrances I found disappointing I decided to highlight one that I adore. I love the idea of Histoires de Parfums, and, as a line they’ve received some nice praise from the Turin/Sanchez camp but so far I haven’t been blown away by any HdP fragrances. Sure, I’ve liked a few, but none have been “oh my goodness I must have a bottle” love. I am quite curious to try the other 2 Tubereuse fragrances as well as Moulin Rouge, though.

But like any curious scent junkie I never give up on a line just because I so far haven’t fallen for one of their offerings, because case in point: Tubereuse L’Animale (TL’A) is full bottle love. Well, I should say “half bottle” love because Brian and I split one. I’ve put off writing about TL’A for quite some time because it’s an unusual scent and I wasn’t sure I could put words to it. After mulling it over, I can tell you that it reminds me of a few different perfumes in style. To give you a point of reference, but by no means am I suggesting TL’A smells similar to these perfumes, I find there to be a similar vibe with: Bond No. 9 Chinatown, Annick Goutal Sables, Bond No. 9 Success is a Job in New York and also Bond No. 9 Lexington Avenue. With these comparisons, you could generalize and call TL’A a floral oriental with gourmand leanings. Not edible gourmand leanings, but that sort of Chinatown/Sables gourmandishness. There’s a lot of depth and character in TL’A, and I imagine it could smell different on each individual, so if any of these ramblings intrigue you I encourage you to try it for yourself.

Tubereuse 3 L’Animale is listed as a floral leather with notes of kumquat, bergamot, neroli, plum, herbs, dry grasses, hay, jasmine, tuberose, blond tobacco, immortelle, woods and labdanum. I haven’t a clue what kumquat smells like but TL’A does have a fruity start that reminds me of figs. Really figgy figs – overripe figs that you must put on your cereal tomorrow morning otherwise they’ll go bad. Other notes that are prominent for me are the herbs, dry grasses, tobacco and immortelle. Obviously TL’A reminds me a little of Annick Goutal Sables because of the immortelle note. Sables is all about immortelle and TL’A sings an anthem to Immortelle Nation, too. If you don’t already know Sables or immortelle specifically it smells a bit like maple syrup. An herbal sort of maple syrup mixed with some myrrh. There is so much going on in TL’A that the word cornucopia often pops into my head when I’m wearing it. I don’t detect tuberose specifically here, but there is a strong floral element binding the composition together. It just isn’t a floral that I find identifiable or nature-specific.

As I mentioned, Brian and I split a bottle of Tubereuse L’Animale. In his first note to me after receiving his bottle he remarked that he loved the fact that the juice was green – swamp green, he said. I love that too, that the color of the jus is swampy, makes it seem like a magical elixir from the bayou. To me, TL’A is a fabulous swampy cornucopia – voodoo juice - and that’s actually meant as high praise.

Donna Karan Iris

I’ve come to realize I love many perfumes from Donna Karan. Black Cashmere is one of the best spicy, woody orientals period. Chaos is another exceptional woody oriental. Gold is excellent, albeit not my thing, but I can still tell that if I liked the scent of lily I’d be all over this one. Wenge is a unique and wonderful woody fragrance. Labdanum is delicious. I even like Cashmere Mist edt and the newer Cashmere Mist Luxe edp. The only DK’s I don’t like are the troop of Be Delicious yucky-yucks. I imagined Donna Karan Iris would be great and ordered it the moment it was available at Neiman’s.

Well, I don’t think DK Iris is great. Here’s a little disclaimer though: I do not like the cold, rooty, damp irises like Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist or even Hermes Hiris. I like Hiris well enough, more than Iris Silver Mist, but never wear it. I like (don’t love) L’Artisan Iris Pallida but also never wear that. My favorite of the cold irises is probably Le Labo Iris 39. Le Labo’s iris has more going on in there to keep me interested. There’s an earthy interest, and some pepper, and a bit of what I imagine an iris flower would smell like. Prada’s Infusion d’Iris is decent, but it’s far too light for me, I hardly know it’s there after 12 minutes. Truly, my sort of iris is Acqua di Parma Iris Nobile (in both edp and edt). Most people say the AdP irises don’t even smell like iris at all – more like gardenia. I actually think the AdP Iris Nobiles smell like an iris flower – or what I imagine an iris flower smells like – but I can’t say I’ve ever come upon a fragrant iris in real life. So maybe I just don’t like iris scents in general. Nevertheless, I’m always in search of an iris that smells of iris flower and not solely orris which is the root/bulb of the iris plant. I thought Donna Karan might be my ticket into iris fan-dom. Well, it wasn’t.

Donna Karan Iris is just about as light as Prada’s Infusion d’Iris. In fact, I think I can smell more from the Prada. Maybe I’m anosmic? Is anyone getting much from DK Iris? I so wanted to love DK Iris since I think this house makes fabulous perfumes. Alas, DK Iris is not for me. It is quite sheer, light, and just barely a hint of a metallic, cool, iris floral. Sigh. For those who like Prada Infusion d'Iris, you ought to check out DK Iris because this could be your next sheer summery iris scent.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Balenciaga Paris

Prior to the arrival of my bottle of Balenciaga Paris:
I was excited.
The fragrance is created by Olivier Polge (son of Jacques Polge, famous for many Chanel perfumes).
It’s housed in a beautiful bottle.
And I love almost every fragrance from Balenciaga.
It seemed like the stars were aligning for a new perfume love for me.

After the arrival of my bottle of Balenciaga Paris:
My feeling is one of moderate like and not love.
The bottle isn’t as gorgeous as I thought it would be. Those lovely photos we’ve all seen online and in magazines make it seem much more gorgeous than it is.
The fragrance itself is pretty and pleasant. But there’s no sparkle, nothing special or different from other violet prominent perfumes. Balenciaga Paris simply doesn’t do anything for me.

I like it, I do. But I'm let down. I knew it wouldn’t be edgy, of course. I knew it wouldn’t be a unique statement in the world of violet perfumes. But I had hoped there would be something excellent about it. I had hoped the violet note would be especially beautiful. But the violet note reminds me of Borsari’s Violetta di Parma, which is a tad plastic-y and powdery and the base is your garden variety woody-musky-patch. It’s better than Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie, which was another fairly recent mainstream violet perfume. I guess if you hadn’t already smelled tons of violet soliflores and tons of edgy violets from indie perfumers and you were walking through Neiman’s, a perfume virgin so to speak, and just happened to sniff Balenciaga Paris you might find it entrancingly beautiful. I suppose this is who the perfume was created for – people who haven’t already smelled one hundred other violet fragrances. But me, I’m hard to please at this stage of perfumista-hood, and I’m certainly let down by Balenciaga Paris. Don’t get me wrong, it’s surely pleasant and nice and pretty...

Oh, and PS: this is by no stretch of the imagination a chypre. Not even a "modern" chypre.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Comforting Scents for Uncomfortable Times: Joint Project

Many thanks to perfumer Ayala Sender for imagining and organizing this joint blog project for us today.

We all have need of comforting these last few years. We have together floated along in a sea of down economies, war, conflict, job losses, financial woes and the like. Hopefully, like me, you also have a short list of fragrances you find comforting; like curling up with a soft blanket for an afternoon nap.

This winter I’ve worn a lot of comfort scents. But none as much as I’ve worn and loved Annick Goutal Ambre Fetiche. Ambre Fetiche is my go-to safe house of incense, resins, woods, smoke and just a touch of sweet amber. I’ve gone as far as adding the shower gel and body lotion to my repertoire and I can’t underscore how wonderful Annick Goutal’s matching body products are (to die for).

Hermes Eau d’Hermes
Eau d’Hermes is a fairly recent find for me, but it scores points for being a softly spicy (cinnamon) scent with cumin and musks that immediately blends into a ‘you but better’ fragrance. Yes, there is cumin here, but I have no troubles with cumin myself. If this cumin is what your body odor smells like than you shouldn’t wear deodorant because it’s a beautiful, sexy scent. Eau d’Hermes is completely unobtrusive, it seems like it’s not there, like it’s vanished, but at points during the day you’ll catch a whiff and realize it’s still there, always at your side. Altruistic and dependable.

Jacques Fath, Fath de Fath, edt

Fath de Fath is one of those rare perfect orientals. I find Fath de Fath to be a softly fruity (these are jammy dried fruits, orange spice, nothing tart or fresh) over a very warm vanillic woody base.

Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum Eau Poudree
Loukhoum Eau Poudree is a fluffy heliotrope-gourmand with no competitors in sight. Even though it’s been described by many (and maybe I’ve written this, too) as a femme fatale retro fragrance I’ve lately found it to remind me of the idea of motherhood. It’s a scent that’s cuddly, gentle and ultra-feminine. The heliotrope is airy and whipped and I imagine clouds of pink rose petals and vanilla almond puffs.

Miller Harris Fleur Oriental
Smedley on Perfume of Life pointed out that Fleur Oriental reminds her of Shalimar and that’s when my love of Fleur Oriental clicked for me. It does remind me of a modern Shalimar. In fact, I find Fleur Oriental to be even better than the current reformulation of Shalimar. I think this is precisely what makes Fleur Oriental a comfort scent for me, it seems so familiar, it doesn’t make me need to think, it’s as if I’ve known it and worn it for many years. Fleur Oriental has the quality of an old friend. A kind, engaging and fun old friend.

Sonoma Scent Studio Fireside

Fireside has the ability to put me in a contemplative mood. When I wear it I smell like a crackling warm fire and can’t help but want to pull out a book and wrap myself in my softest blanket and lose myself on the sofa for a few hours.

Here's the full of participating blogs with links ~

Roxana's Illuminated Journal
BitterGrace Notes
Perfume Shrine
Notes from the Ledge
Scent Hive
The Non Blonde
Perfume in Progress
Katie Puckrik Smells
A Rose Beyond the Thames
All I Am A Redhead
Savvy Thinker

This article's title is an homage to Michelyn Camen's original article of this same name on Sniffapalooza Magazine in 2008, in which Ayala Sender was interviewed by several perfumers to comment on what botanical elements make their perfumes comforting.

Michelyn Camen is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of and the Editor-at- Large for She is a formerly an Editor for Fragrantica, the Fragrance Editor for Uptown Social, a Senior Contributor for Sniffapalooza Magazine, the New in Niche Columnist forBasenotes, the Managing Director for BeautynewsNYC and the former publicist for and Scent Bar, Los Angeles. She has been awarded Brandweek Magazine Marketer of the Year, Ad Age Magazine 100 and is a two time recipient of License Magazine’s 40 under 40 and recipient. She slipped off her corporate power suit to pursue her passion for fragrance.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

More on Eau Du Fier

What I love most about Fier, I think, is its oddball piquancy, a totally unexpected spark of citrus which makes no rational sense but smells so good--and so right--that it seems practically inevitable. It also endows Fier with the effervescent booziness of a bubbly gin fizz. Fier reminds me of other favorites--Kolnisch Juchten, Etro's Palais Jamais, Le Labo's Patchouli 24, and Santa Maria Novella's Nostalgia among them--all of which have something to do with tea and/or birch tar. The associations are vehicular: I get leather upholstery, petrol fumes, and rubber, primarily. But Fier doesn't shock me much. A friend of mine smelled it, smiled, obviously pleased, then screwed up his face and asked why someone would want to smell that way. Why do people want to have sex, I answered. Because it feels good. It certainly isn't pretty, or comfortable. Maybe it's the company I keep, and for others sex is something like a Lazy-Boy recliner, worn in all the right places. I smell Fier, and other birch-centric fragrances for that matter, and my mind goes somewhat sybaritic. It conjures complicated pleasures, not all of them sexual, though some are decidedly base.

Spending a few days with Fier, I decided that what at first seems like an unlikely addition to the Annick Goutal line-up isn't really all that out of character. Goutal's masculines have always been pretty unusual. Think of Sables, which smells of sugared burned leaves and woods. "Vetiver" takes a rustic approach to its signature note. Even Eau de Monsieur slants further away from a traditional masculine than its opening notes lead you to believe. Those fragrances date from the eighties. In the last several years, Ambre Fetiche , Myrrhe Ardente, Encens Flamboyant, and Musc Nomade have continued that trend toward the slightly unconventional. More unusual are the distinct differences between Goutal's male and female sensibilities.

I find Fier a more realistic day to day wear than Nostalgia and Palais Jamais, both of which are a little too robust for the polite society of office cubicle and water cooler. Nothing too shocking here. Just pure pleasure. That citrus really tempers the birch in unexpected ways. I imagine this is what Bond No.9's Wall Street was meant to be, and might have been, if cucumber and seaweed hadn't talked pretty to it.

The attached picture is from an article on neolithic birch tar bark once used as chewing gum.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Annick Goutal Eau de Fier

You’ve heard the expression, Sexy Ugly, right? I use it plenty to describe a person who is not conventionally beautiful or handsome but there’s just something...some sort of charisma, twinkle in the eye, strut or sex appeal that you can’t deny? I categorize Benicio del Toro, Denis Leary, David Duchovny, Milla Jovovich and Uma Thurman as Sexy Ugly. When you pull apart the features of these individuals, they might not be attractive, but as a whole, a sum of their parts, it all works, and you find them quite attractive.

Annick Goutal Eau de Fier is Sexy Ugly. Eau de Fier (EdF) is a blend of some of the ugliest stuff in perfumery; the tarriest birch tar, rubber, smoky, smoky, smoky tea and some citrus and a touch of fruit (if you’re looking for it). Eau de Fier is not conventionally pretty, nor is it perhaps acceptable for the office, if you work in a corporate suited-up environment, but I’m so attracted to it that I just can’t keep my hands off the bottle.

Eau de Fier goes on sheer, but it lasts for days. I find it an odd juxtaposition of sheer and potent; you might not realize it’s still there, but it most certainly is. I sprayed it on a male friend of mine, on his arm, and a bit got onto his sweater when he rolled his sleeve back down. I smelled it on him until he washed the sweater. Eau de Fier just doesn’t quit. It is a tenacious sexy beast.

If Bulgari Black is not your thing because it smells slightly rubber-y then you should stay away from Eau de Fier. EdF is hardcore. It is shocking that EdF comes from the house of Annick Goutal, who, for the most part, create charming, natural and conventionally pretty fragrances. I don’t know how EdF got out the door, because this, THIS is the most avant-garde fragrance I’ve ever smelled (yeah, yeah, Tubereuse Criminelle starts off shocking but it settles down, becomes tame and pretty after 30 minutes). EdF is something you’d expect from Comme des Garcons, I'm thinking of their Tar.

As far as I know EdF is discontinued making it impossible to find, and this makes me want to cry. Surely EdF wasn’t selling like hotcakes, but I wish AG would continue making a small supply for perfume aficionados, oh, maybe, 250 bottles per year or something. It should never cease to exist. EdF needs to exist, it needs to represent it’s end of the perfume spectrum, the end where horrific beauty that can be imagined. Eau de Fier smells like fresh lapsang souchong tea leaves. Very smoky tea leaves, over scorched leather and rubber. It begins with a burst of citrus, which never entirely vanishes, but gets pushed aside by the more aggressive smoky tea, tar and leather. About a half hour in an apricot-like fruity note emerges (guessing osmanthus) and this stays until the far dry down. I think it’s magnificent.

The Non Blonde recently reviewed Eau de Fier and Bois de Jasmin also reviewed EdF a few years back. Proof that I’m not alone in my lunacy :-)

Notes: bitter orange, osmanthus, salt flower, clove, tea, and birch tar

PS: I could not find a photo of the bottle anywhere, so the above pic is a collection of their masculine bottles, which is the same as their Eau de Fier bottle.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Tale of Three Hyacinths

'Tis that time of year when we look at our perfume collections for something that reminds us of an early spring day. The usual suspects for me are Vacances, En Passant, Un Matin d’Orage (along with several other AGs) and YSL Y.

However, there is a particular note that calls my name (very nearly shrieks at me) this time of year and it’s hyacinth. I have three fragrances where hyacinth takes center stage, two I’ve worn for years and one I found only last year. They are Guerlain Chamade, Annick Goutal Grand Amour and Parfums MDCI Un Coeur en Mai. There are days when I wish I could wear all three at once, because they’re similar but easily unique enough that I want that rush of whatever it is each delivers.

Recently I bought several potted hyacinths to create a display in my kitchen. I always like to have a bunch of hyacinths together so their scent wafts around and makes an impact. The flowers themselves are a little ugly but if you group them together in a basket and add some moss, stones and ribbon it becomes a beautiful tribute to spring. It was when I was creating my hyacinth display that I sniffed the blooms and realized Chamade, Grand Amour and Un Coeur en Mai do truly honor the scent of hyacinth.

Chamade is the most heavily aldehydic of the three and the one where I think the hyacinth note is most abstract. Chamade is one of my very favorite Guerlains and while I’m usually an edp type, I prefer the edt with this one. Chamade strikes me as the scent I’d wear to an outdoor spring wedding, an occasion with some formality.

Grand Amour is the most naturally lush and true to nature. Grand Amour seems the easiest to wear; it’s a smidgen sweeter than the other two and wants to take me out for a picnic on that first blissfully warm and sunny day in March.

Un Coeur en Mai is the greenest, mossy and rosy-fruity of the three and in some ways seems a combination of Chamade and Grand Amour, like the middle child. UceM is a bit heavier on the aldehydes than Grand Amour, but it’s still a realistic interpretation of the scent of early spring blooms, lily of the valley and hyacinth.

If I had to choose my favorite of the three I’m hard-pressed to pick between Grand Amour and Un Coeur en Mai. I think GA and UceM are tied for first place. I love Chamade but it would place third, mostly because I prefer big floral-aldehydes in winter but not so much when I’m looking for something to represent early spring. Early spring is a time when I want to experience nature close up; when I long for vegetation and growth after several months of winter and I’m less enthused by the abstract and instead thrilled by the sweetness of mother earth.

Three Worth Looking Out For

I've seen the following three items for over a year now at the local discount fragrance outlet. I might have smelled one, but didn't even go that far with the others. Bias, probably. They seemed cheap to me and I assumed they must have been made with inferior materials. Funny thing, though. The way things are going, it could be argued that yesterday's cheap perfume is downright expensive by the standards of so called quality fragrance today. I won't name names. I doubt you need me to. Pick a fragrance from the mall. Chances are it smells like a fraction of what it costs. I finally picked up the following, and discovered that they smell like a million bucks. They have--shock--oakmoss, natural musks, civet, that old school patchouli, which is neither headshop nor headspace. They project. They last forever. They're pretty easy to find. That said, word of caution: I have older formulas. I can't speak for the current versions of these. From what I've heard, they're not as good. That can make finding the right version tricky, but we all seem to like a good quest.


Is it any wonder I ignored this stuff, with a name brand like Alexandra de Markoff to recommend it? I know it's been around forever, but it rang of some aging Tennessee William's belle to me, like Geraldine Page's character in Sweet Bird of Youth. Alexandra Del Lago. Even their names are similar. Enigma was created in 1972. I was only--well, I'm no aging belle myself but I'm not given to announcing my birth date either. Let's say I'm not a day over 25--okay, 30--and Enigma is a peer. I did smell Enigma a year ago, when I first discovered the discount store in question. It smelled stuffy to me and I probably gave it all of a minute or two on a strip of paper. But my tastes keep expanding and contracting. Now it smells fantastic. To be sure, there's a bit of that powder note which broadcasts "boudoir", but Enigma is also one of the more remarkable older ambers I've smelled, and though it never goes butch, it's decidedly masculine as it develops. You get your rose, your jasmine, a robust influence of carnation. It's a lot more Paul Newman as "Brick" than you might suspect. There are spices in there: fragrantica lists only coriander and allspice but others are indicated. There are "green notes" and "cut grass". Oakmoss and patchouli in the base. About ten minutes in, Enigma lives up to its name. It's hard to say what the magic is here, but a spell of some sort is definitely being cast. It radiates warmth. The older bottles have darker liquid and different packaging. My bottle is square with a gold tubular cap. The decal is white and bears the image of a tassel (also gold) over the name.

Van Cleef

Ignore Turin's bad review. I didn't at first, opting to ignore the perfume itself instead. When I finally gave it the time of the day I was put off and thought him right. Then, driving home with the testing strip, I started to smell the most amazing stuff. I couldn't believe it was coming from the same place. Van Cleef is a little younger than Enigma. Created in 1993, it calls back to the eighties, referencing loudmouths like Carolina Herrera and Poison, those declarative orientals and florals which speak in exclamation marks, every other syllable underscored. The most interesting thing about Van Cleef is the most off-putting initially. Is it orange blossom? The listed notes include it. I get the play-doh quality of heliotrope. It took some getting used to, but once I adjusted to the unusual combo of that, marigold, tonka and galbanum, I was seriously hooked. It doesn't hurt that the fragrance lasts forever and days on the skin. Van Cleef makes use of some unidentifiable note it shares with Miss Arpels, another Van Cleef perfume which followed a year later. That one is hard for me to stomach. This one gets the balance just right. It's an intense wear. Come prepared. My bottle is EDT. Those I've seen for sale online are EDP. I have no clue what the differences might be. My version dates back to the nineties.

Histoire D'Amour

I saved the best for last. Trust me when I say this stuff is not to be believed. It's available online for a song. For less than a song. I don't know whether they're still producing it. If so, it must have been changed. The ingredients of the bottle I own are listed as perfume, aqua and alcohol. I'm guessing it dates back to the late eighties or early to mid nineties, tops. Histoire was released in 1984 and is classified as a woody chypre. I smell galbanum and ylang ylang up top, but the moment you spray it on the patchouli, musks, and oakmoss from the base activate, weaving up throughout the fragrance. I can't recommend it enough. It's unisex, robust but easygoing, smooth, a refined but herbal, earthy bearing to it. It's an EDT but lasts well, if not with as much thrust as Van Cleef. It's closer to Enigma in terms of vigor. It's a lot more contemplative. People talk about powder, and I get a little of that, but not so much really. It's no Teint de Neige. It reminds me a bit of Sibeline by Weil, one of the fragrances the furrier created to take a bit of the animal out of, say, a mink stole--minus the aldehydes. The trick was to compliment that beastly quality, rather than conceal it, making animal and human natures seem as one. Histoire brings the outdoors to the skin in a similar way. Some of the pictures I've seen online (like above) depict a much more golden-hued Histoire than the bottle I own, which contains a balsamic brown liquid.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Etat Libre D'Orange: Divin' Enfant

I've worn and appreciated it for months, but current events brought me back to Divin' Enfant for a closer look. Hearing raves about another orange blossom fragrance, Maison Francis Kurkdjian's APOM, I took the first available opportunity to smell it, and was, to use Nathan Branch's phrase, woefully underwhelmed. While APOM has good longevity, it seems fairly weak in every other respect. There's no THERE there. It surprised me all day, wafting up from my arm. It seemed to have said everything it had to say. What was the point of sticking around?

I thought of APOM again this week, when Etat Libre D'Orange announced the upcoming release of a scent inspired by Tilda Swinton. What a perfect match, I thought. Swinton has always worked with smaller directors on compellingly oddball projects. By choosing her, Etat Libre D'Orange has advanced a celebrity sensibility they initiated with Rossy Di Palma: one that celebrates the unique rather than capitalize on the cliched. I pulled out my bottle of Divin' Enfant, forgotten behind more recent purchases. In contrast to APOM, it seemed even better than I remembered, so lush and dense and full of things to admire.

Listen, don't look at me. I can't smell the alleged marshmallow in Divin'. It doesn't even smell particularly sugary to me, no sweeter than orange blossom itself. People who discuss it on the web tend to engage in a debate about how much of an infant Enfant is. There's supposed to be a tantrum in there, so which dominates: the precious little thing or the monster child? I'm not sure I see the point of that, though I'm guessing this is an argument having to do with how sweet it seems to some. I'm not sure I smell rose, amber, leather, or musk, either, but it's all very well blended, emphasizing the orange blossom without dominating it. I've never thought of orange blossom as particularly innocent. I do smell a nicely judged addition of tobacco, and an interesting counterpoint of mocha, anyway.

Where APOM is rather flat and inert on my skin, Divin'Enfant sings. It has personality, a lot of presence. Whether that presence is adult or juvenile isn't something I've wasted much time pondering. I wear the hell out of it. Enfant has what I'm starting to recognize is a trademark Etat quality: it feels rich and playful without making these things seem like polar opposites. The line merges high and low in fascinating ways, and I think Etat is ultimately far more populist than Maison Kurkdjian, which seems to think that people who can't afford their perfumes but can afford their cleaning liquids will see this as a real bargain and an aspirational gateway. Etat makes one size for all. Aside from the celebrity fragrances, everything is priced the same.

At a time when a small bottle of Chanel costs you between sixty and eighty, seventy five for a niche perfume is about as close to a bargain as you can expect for a luxury item. What you are promised for this is, more often than not, a damn good bottle of perfume. Funny how people dismiss Etat's sense of humor; inappropriate, they say. In bad taste. Out to shock for shock's sake. What could be more ridiculously inappropriate than offering someone who can't afford your perfume a bottle of overpriced cleaning solvent. Only the well off can smell good, by this logic. The rest of us are offered a lovely bucket of mop water. Surely this is more offensive than a cartoon penis. Etat's "sense of humor" makes a practice of poking fun at such B.S., and I can't thank them enough.

I think people are mistaken in viewing this as shock value. Let's be honest. These days, shocking is a great bottle of perfume, as good as its hype.

Friday, March 5, 2010

TWRT 3.6.10

This Week's Random Thoughts ~

I must have the 2009 Givenchy Harvest Edition Amarige. I have loved all of Givenchy’s Harvest Editions, and oddly, I don’t think the concept is gimmick-y (though I thought so at first). Right now the ’09 Givenchy Harvests are only at Harrods and those bloody Brits don't ship to the US. Must.Be.Patient.Abigail.

A bird flew into my house this week and stayed for 2 days. I think she was a female house finch. She chirped and sang to us both mornings at sunrise. We have very high ceilings and she just flew from ceiling fan to light fixture to nicho* and seemed perfectly happy for the 2 days she visited. I miss her now that she’s gone (*nichos are recessed spots in the walls of adobe homes where one places art). And, since you’re wondering, she didn’t poop anywhere. I looked all over and didn’t find a single mess.

I broke my toe. It killah hurts and now I won’t be able to wear cute shoes for a few months. Drat.

Givenchy Eaudemoiselle has piqued my interest. Love the ad imagery (see above), who doesn't long to wear a neck to toe black cape on a sunny day? What’s cooler than a perfume ad without skin? [although, it kinda ruins it for me when I think Givenchy is playing to the vampire obsessed teens/young adults who love the stupid Twilight books/movie. True Blood rules. Twilight sucks.]

Big Love seems to have jumped the shark this season. But it’s still a guilty pleasure. I can’t believe there’s only one episode left.

I absolutely despise the term Cougar.

I also despise the term Curvy to describe women over size 4.

I started using pure emu oil on my face. I’m having a hard time with the fact that this is oil of emu, you know, the big ostrich-like bird in Australia. When I apply it I swear I smell poultry fat and become gaggity.

Annick Goutal Eau de Fier arrived this week. My goodness! ...what an usual scent and especially for Goutal. I’m fixated on it. It’s an edgy blend of birch tar, rubber, smoky black tea with a dash of salt and hints of citrus. Eau de Fier is not something you’d wear to the office, but I love, love, love it.

I found this little ditty about mimosa blossoms on Fragrantica and thought I’d share:

"Golden puffs, the downy tufts of new-born chicks.
The minuscule golden chicks of mimosa..."
"powdered like Pierrot the pantomime in his yellow polka-dots,"
"fireworks," "tiny torches alight..."

- Francis Ponge, “LE MIMOSA” IN La Rage de l’expression © Édition Gallimard. Authorised translation by Hermes, courtesy of editions Gallimard.

I found the above quote because I was looking for reviews of Hermes Caleche Fleur de Mediterranee. HCFdM is supposed to have noticeable mimosa but I don’t detect it. To me, it’s a big beautiful aldehydic floral, like Guerlain Liu, but not much ado about mimosa.

Someone besides me needs to tell Chanel they are having problems with their Les Exclusifs bottles. Both Brian and I have experienced major leakage when we've purchased brand new bottles shipped directly from Chanel. Just this week I received yet another Les Exclusifs bottle that had leaked about 1/3 of the jus all over the box. I know it seems crazy, these gigantic bottles give the impression of being able to survive a nuclear bomb, but there are problems. I called Chanel and now I have to ship back my defective bottle and once received they will send me another. Major Pain in the Ass.

and, on that note,

Have a fragrant weekend everyone!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Keiko Mecheri Datura Blanche: A Review

Being a wee little perfume shop and decanter, it sometimes takes The Posh Peasant a bit longer to obtain new releases. Keiko Mecheri introduced a quartet of new fragrances in 2009, two iris scents, a leather and the one I’m reviewing today, Datura Blanche. From the moment I read the list of notes I knew I wanted to try Datura Blanche. Most Keiko Mecheri fragrances agree with me quite nicely, and this is part of the reason we carry KM at The Posh Peasant...just in case we don’t sell a single bottle, at least I know I can wear them!

Datura Blanche does not disappoint me. But for the first time in a long while, Datura Blanche is exactly the fragrance I imagined it would be when I read the list of notes. If you’ve ever smelled Dior Cologne Blanche and Serge Lutens Datura Noir then you can probably imagine KM Datura Blanche (DB) because it's a middle ground between the two. DB is not nearly as heady, sweet and tropical as Lutens Datura Noir nor is it a plain, dryer sheet fragrance like Cologne Blanche. In my estimation, DB is perfect. DB exhibits a subtle datura flower aroma, which is a heady and intoxicating night-blooming oddity. I had a few datura plants in my sunroom back in NJ and I can attest to their smell being sweet, sultry and somewhat odd. The flowers and plants themselves have a “Little Shop of Horrors” vibe so I guess the scent is fitting with their appearance. DB is a wondrously light and not-too-sweet datura scent accompanied with one of my favorite things: heliotrope. The heliotrope gives the overall fragrance a fluffy, puffy, cottony texture that’s delightful. The actual scent of datura blooms are slightly similarly to jasmine with a green stemmy aspect. KM captures this idea of datura blooms perfectly. I find Datura Blanche to be a hybrid between a straight floral and a heliotrope/vanilla skin scent. It’s probably 50/50 floral & oriental/gourmand. I use gourmand cautiously because DB contains vanilla and almond therefore I’m sure it technically contains gourmand genes but it is not, by any means, foodie. Last year I discovered LT Piver Heliotrope Blanc. There are some similarities between the LT Piver and KM but overall Datura Blanche has a more overtly floral quality, it’s less sweet and lasts longer. Datura Blanche seems impossible to dislike. It’s the sort of fragrance co-workers will compliment. It’s easily casual yet could be elegant. I’ve asked those in my household what they think of it and they all responded quite favorably, which is far from the case most of the time! DB starts of with a fragrant dose of datura but once it dries down I smell more heliotrope/vanilla/almond than flower. The Datura is still there yet it has moved to the background after about 90 minutes. Whipped fluffy clouds of datura blooms on a bed of vanilla, tonka and almond... mmmmm... what’s not to love?

Notes: white datura, Indian tuberose, heliotrope, bitter almond, tonka bean, vanilla madagascar