Wednesday, October 26, 2011

M. Micallef Gaiac

I go through phases.  With everything in my life, my perfume hobby has taken me on some fun and interesting trails.  This past year I seem to be entering a new phase which is quite the opposite of the last seven plus years.  Over the last seven years I’ve been constantly on the hunt and in a collecting frenzy.  Now I find myself wanting to reduce in order to dig in and enjoy my favorites.  I’m at a point where new releases don’t excite me, instead they annoy me.  I want to pare down my collection, to identify my top 25 or so and maintain a collection of that size.  I like the idea of approximately 25 bottles because this allows me to choose about 5 perfumes per season (5 for spring, 5 for summer and so on) with about 5 wild cards which aren’t seasonal but are my top favorites that I must have no matter what the weather.  A collection of this size allows me to actually wear my favorite scents, which is something I’ve been missing for quite some time.  So far, this “Collection of 25” is just an idea; one that I tinker with frequently, making  lists on napkins, tossing around in my head during nights of insomnia, weighing the pros and cons while driving in the car.   I’m getting close and think I might be able to achieve my Collection of 25 within the next year or so.  As of now, M. Micallef Gaiac is part of this collection, firmly entrenching itself in my fall/winter category. 

 I’m not a gaiac expert.  I’ve tried Le Labo Gaiac and don’t remember much about it (I think that fact probably says it all).  I’m pretty sure gaiac in perfumery is a tree resin and from what I’ve smelled it’s a resinous woody note. From my limited experience with the gaiac note, I don’t think it’s similar to oud/agarwood because it isn’t as precious nor is it as potent or medicinal smelling.  Forgive me for such limited research into what exactly gaiac is or what it specifically smells like; for the most important point in this post is to reveal how M. Micallef Gaiac might be just the perfect fragrance for those looking for a sweet rustic woody scent.

Micallef Gaiac is a mood scent. It’s an idealized memory of fall in New England.  It’s unquestionably cozy yet rustic chic.  It’s the sort of fragrance I long to wear in the fall and winter when I want something woody and softly sweet.   I have loads of fragrances in this sweet, woody, slightly gourmand genre. But after sniffing and testing and wearing so many, Micallef Gaiac comes out on top. 

Micallef Gaiac smells like a bonfire of gingerbread wood, caramelized maple leaves, crisp autumn air tinged with cloves, and smoky vanillic skin.  Micallef Gaiac starts off sharper then it ends up.  The beginning is prominently wood and cloves but once it dries down it becomes all sorts of smoooooth creamy-woody-smoky goodness.  It only takes about 30 minutes for it to settle into the dry down stage on me, so it’s relatively linear; meaning it becomes the scent it will remain from about the 30 minute mark and holds this gorgeous aroma for at least the next 6 hours.  It isn’t a sillage monster, but it’s enough for me to smell on myself and it lasts close to the skin for a long time.  If I want more sillage I simply apply it in spades, probably around 6-8 sprays.  At the very beginning it may seem a little medicinal but I hardly even recall this aspect now that I only associate the scent with what it becomes.  
I call Micallef Gaiac sweet, but it’s not really so sweet when compared with other sweet, woody fragrances.  It is miles less sweet than Dior Hypnotic Poison.  It’s a touch less sweet than Givenchy Organza Indecence.  It’s probably about the same level of sweetness as CB I Hate Perfume Burning Leaves.  In fact, it reminds me a little of CB’s Burning Leaves except that it’s woodier and lasts much, much longer.  M. Micallef Gaiac also reminds me slightly of Diptyque Eau Lente, mostly in aura, not its technical scent.  There’s also a similarity with the vanilla in Guerlain Tonka Imperiale, but I enjoy the rustic woody aspect of the Micallef more, and truth be told the Guerlain is about tonka bean/vanilla and not meant to be so woody.

I find M. Micallef Gaiac absolutely perfect when I’m in the mood for a sweet woody scent.  Over the years I’ve been impressed for short periods of time with many fragrances; which eventually fall out of my favor in some way.  M. Micallef Gaiac has only become better over time.  The dry down is nothing short of perfection and it doesn’t fall apart or turn into something inferior as the hours go past.   It is easily unisex.  

Friday, October 21, 2011

TWRT 10.21.11

This week's random thoughts ~

I’m loving the new creepy show on FX Wednesday nights: American Horror Story.  If you like gory, disturbing stuff check it out.

I already reviewed Love, Chloe Eau Intense and told you how much I love it. The oddball thing I’ve been doing the past few days is wearing both Love, Chloe and Eau Intense at the same time.  One on each wrist.  Somehow sniffing one makes me miss the other so I wear both.  Only a crazed perfume nut would understand this behavior.

I’ve made this pumpkin bread twice now and it’s beyond delicious.  One thing I add is homemade icing drizzled across the top once the bread cools a bit.  Icing is a cinch to make; confectioners sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract , milk and my secret weapon is some sea salt.  Of course this pumpkin bread is a giant splurge as I have been low-carbing for about 10 months now.
Tom Ford Violet Blonde has continued to intrigue me.  I’ve worn it twice since my review last week.  This is something I plan to start documenting.  How often do I actually wear the fragrances I review positively?  Do I like them enough for a review and then forget about them or do I actually wear them again?  So far, Violet Blonde has held my interest.

I completely do not understand fantasy football.  I don’t even understand real football so I suppose there was little chance I’d get it.

I ordered Llamasqua Freak yesterday (one for me, one for The Posh Peasant).  I desperately hope the bottle lives up to the online photos of it.  If it’s as adorable/quirky as I hope it will make my younger goth self happy.

The Wild Marinated Soy Ginger Cod fillets from Trader Joe’s are excellent.  

I use Splenda in coffee all the time.  I prefer Splenda over sugar.  But I can only use sugar for tea.  Splenda ruins tea.  Unless it's iced tea. 

I’m devastated about all those beautiful animals being killed from the Ohio zoo.  I can’t even think about it.

I’m trying to decide if I should buy more Decleor Aromessence Rose d’Orient Sensitive Skin Soothing Serum.  I don’t think it actually does anything for the price.  But it feels and smells so good when I use it.  It gives me the sensation that I’ve just had a facial.

Please, please, please let Kristen Wiig make another “Bridesmaids-esque” type of movie.  It’s about time women are lead roles in riotously funny yet crude, goofy and heartfelt films.  I still laugh every time I think of Melissa McCarthy’s scenes.  Hollywood: please make one of these for every lame romcom that comes out.

Seriously, what is better than crisp fall weather?

Have a great weekend ya'll!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love, Chloe Eau Intense

Love, Chloe Eau Intense, the 2011 flanker to Love, Chloe (2010) is described as a more intense version of the original.  Even me, who prefers her perfumes potent with some sillage, was a little nervous about a much stronger version of Love, Chloe.  And, thankfully, this isn’t what Love, Chloe Eau Intense is about.

Since these names may get confusing I’ll refer to the original Love, Chloe (2010) as Love, Chloe and the 2011 flanker Love, Chloe Eau Intense as simply Eau Intense.  I adore Love, Chloe and now I adore Eau Intense just as much but for different reasons.  Love, Chloe is a smooth, polished powdery floral fragrance with emphasis on a chewy orange blossom floral with a big dollop of cosmetic powder.  In a way, after smelling by Kilian Sweet Redemption, I think of Love, Chloe as a more polished version of Sweet Redemption.  I thought I’d enjoy Sweet Redemption, but couldn’t help but find it juvenile after wearing it once or twice; it was just too sweet for me.  I have worn Love, Chloe dozens of time over the past year and this says a lot as I hardly ever wear anything but my absolute favorites more than a handful of times per year.  Love, Chloe agrees with me, it melts into my skin and even though it does have a good bit of sillage, it still feels like the most pleasant skin scent on me. It’s there but it isn’t obtrusive.  It’s me but better.  

Now along comes Love, Chloe Eau Intense, which turns out not to be a more potent version of Love, Chloe but instead a mellower version with amplified vanilla and heliotrope.  Eau Intense smells like the stereotypical ‘skin scent’ (soft and easy vanilla and musks) but with a little more oriental intrigue.  Eau Intense certainly exhibits the original Love, Chloe impression; this sort of chewy orang-y floral, but this only lasts for about 20 minutes after which it becomes a softer, much less floral and imminently cozy fragrance upon dry down.  In trying to think of a comparison, I vaguely recall Estee Lauder Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang, but when I pulled out the Estee Lauder for an actual side-by side, I found it to be one dimensional and syrupy while Eau Intense is less sweet with slightly more florals and a more varied (less flat) vanilla/heliotrope oriental base.  I also smell something akin to leather once Eau Intense dries down.  The far dry down of Eau Intense is almost as if I’m smelling the inside of my nicest leather bag, the one with a gorgeous suede liner and my stockpile of far-too-many lipsticks and cosmetics in the side pocket.  Eau Intense is a ladylike scent yet it’s so supremely comforting with the addition of a gorgeous non-foody vanilla and fluffy heliotrope note.  It’s entirely possible to enjoy Eau Intense even if you didn’t like Love, Chloe.  

Love, Chloe and Eau Intense have saved me from “perfume ennui” over the past year.  Both of these fragrances are “permanent collection” status.   By that I mean I’m not just sniffing them, enjoying them enough for a couple days, reviewing them, and then forgetting about them.  I will definitely wear both Love Chloe and Eau Intense frequently.  I have already worn about 1/3 of my Love Chloe bottle since last year and I expect I’ll wear at least as much Eau Intense during the fall and winter months ahead.  An observation occurs to me about Eau Intense which is that this (Eau Intense) is my “Guerlainade.”  I love several Guerlain fragrances but never the ones with the trademark Guerlainade accord.  This Guerlainade accord just doesn’t agree with me, it’s too sweet and a little sickly.  With Eau Intense, I’ve found a comforting Guerlainade-type accord that suits me to a T.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

More on the Wacky Things Those Persistent Sales Associates Say

The other day, I walked into Sephora.

What compels me to walk into Sephora at this point, where nothing grabs my attention, is something I probably need to look into, but I'll get to that some other time.  Or not.  One thing I can always count on at the place is the unique pushiness of the sales staff, who rush over the moment I enter and hover there with their headsets, as though I intend to shove a bottle of - what?? - Taylor Swift's latest into my shopping bag?  I resent that.  Naturally, I do have my standards.

This time, a male sales associate I've seen before made a beeline for me.  His face was painted (I guess for Halloween?  I didn't ask) and he looked like a retrospective of every cast member of every production of CATS that had ever passed through town.  I couldn't help feeling, as I looked at his bright white eye contacts, that I was staring into the true soul of the Sephora sales force, so for that and the usual reasons I avoided making contact with him as much as possible.

Which only made him more eager to get my attention.  Maybe he thought I was aloof, and that frustrated him, or maybe I'm simply fat, because not a minute after he'd first tried to engage me he said, rather cheerily, "You look like you're putting on some weight."

I focused on a bottle of Coco, trying to figure out how to respond.  Situations like this stump me every time.  The hurdle for me is trying to wrap my head around the idea that anyone would go out of his way to be so blatantly ugly.  I simply answered, as cheerily, that yes, it's possible I am putting some weight on.

"It happens as we get older," he said, rubbing his tummy.

Maybe I should have talked to management - though that seems like a bad move, given that my contact info is in the Sephora system.  The last time I did something like that, my garden hose went missing and my house was vandalized.

This is probably the worst thing an SA has ever said to me.  But it isn't the first time I've had an uncomfortable experience at Sephora.  The last time I was in, I asked to smell Gaultier Le Male Terrible, and the sales associate, again a man, was so aggressively familiar that it short circuited my social skills.  That seemed to provoke him, because his interaction with me took on a sort of weirdly taunting quality.  He seemed to be making fun of my taste in fragrance, and was hostile to the idea I might need to smell Le Male Terrible (there wasn't a tester on display) to discern the difference between flanker and good old regular Le Male.

Maybe it's boredom?  Sephora bores me as a consumer, so I imagine it must bore its sales force.  I suspect too that the training the Sephora employee receives encourages a sort of aggression that can only frustrate the shopper, which in turn must humiliate and anger the staff.  But I might be giving too much credit to these two guys in particular.  Part of me imagines I was simply seeing their everyday personalities.

Anybody else had a sales associate say anything approaching the gall of the above?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tom Ford Violet Blonde

Earlier this week, in anticipation of Tom Ford Violet Blonde’s arrival at my house, I was familiarizing myself with my violet collection.  Among the other violets I already enjoy I came away professing my love for Norma Kamali Violette, which is something you should try if you’ve been looking for a nice violet floral.  

But now Violet Blonde is here and I’ve been sniffing it all day.  I've read many other reviews and find my impression to be pretty much in the same vein as everyone else.  I do find there to be a formality to Violet Blonde.  It’s hard to explain why a fragrance smells formal as opposed to casual but I’ll try by telling you that Violet Blonde seems restrained and subtle and I think this is mostly due to the iris note.  I imagine it could have been far less restrained, and more overtly sexy or daring such as Tom Ford’s other darling; Black Orchid.  Instead, Violet Blonde follows in the stylized footsteps of White Patchouli for me.

Violet Blonde (VB) seems at first to be all about violets but once it dries down I think it becomes an iris-jasmine fragrance.  The iris-jasmine combination is still confined to an overall violet-prominent fragrance but these notes are what keep Violet Blonde cool, not-very-sweet, and adult (by adult I mean refined and formal).   Many violet fragrances have a somewhat childish quality, something you might find appropriate for a 13 year old flower girl at a wedding.  Tom Ford’s Violet Blonde is a fragrance for a chic and elegant adult.

Others have considered Violet Blonde to be a potent fragrance.  I find it just about right, if not a wee bit too subtle.  There’s a cool streak in Violet Blonde, a slightly twangy metallic vibe that runs throughout.  This slightly reminds me of Balenciaga L’Essence for a moment or two.  Then in the very far dry down VB exhibits a warmer suede aspect, not dissimilar from Serge Lutens Daim Blond or the suede quality to Bottega Veneta.

I was very excited for Violet Blonde’s arrival.  In sum, I like it very much, but I’m just not sure yet that I love it.  I’m breaking one of my rules which is to wear a fragrance 2-3 full days before reviewing; maybe this is why I’m not sure if I love it yet.  Violet Blonde is certainly a wonderful violet fragrance for someone who doesn’t normally like the available violet scents; and especially for someone who finds most other violet scents to be overly sweet, cloying, powdery and plastic-y.  Violet Blonde is only slightly powdery and I think this depends on how you interpret the iris note.  On me, the iris note is cool and metallic, on others the iris might come off powdery.

Official noes: Italian mandarin, pink pepper, violet leaf, Iris absolute, orris concrete, jasmine sambac, Vetiver, musk, Virginia cedar, benzoin, suede accord

My question: would it have been a crime to put Violet Blonde in a purple bottle (a la Sensuous Noir)?  The above photo makes the bottle look purple but that's only because it's against purple flowers.  It is actually a clear bottle with yellow/gold juice.

PS: I keep typing Violent  Blonde and spell check doesn't pick this up as "violent" is, of course, a word!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Norma Kamali Violette: A true violet floral

Violets have been on my mind the past few months.  This summer when I couldn’t wear much of anything due to the heat and humidity, I turned to Annick Goutal La Violette quite a bit.  It was either the weather or the simple fact that I love Goutal’s La Violette so much. The Goutal Violette is perfectly powdery, but not plasticky, and it smells like true violets with a hint of green and a dash of anise.  I’ve had a long struggle with violet fragrances over the years.  I still haven’t found one, aside from the Goutal Violette, that I really think is The One.  The new Tom Ford Violet Blonde is one its way to me, tracking number says it should arrive by the end of this week, so I’m revisiting all my violet scents in an effort to make comparisons once the Tom Ford arrives.  While sniffing around my ‘violet cabinet’ I found Norma Kamali Violette and I can’t imagine what my problem has been all this time, because the Kamali Violette is really great and I should have written about it, or at least been wearing it more often.

Norma Kamali Violette opens purple.  It smells like purple floral syrup.  It starts off heavier than it ends; I’d classify NK Violette as a light-medium weight fragrance by the time it dries down.   I think what I have been looking for all this time is a violet that smells of violet flowers most prominently, with less green than say Penhaligon’s Violetta, and much less powder than say Guerlain Meteorites and a bit more oomph, less delicacy than Goutal’s Violette.  It sounds like I’m describing Guerlain’s Insolence in edp, but that one, while extremely violet-y, ends up a bold fruity floral and not so much a violet soliflore on me (I do love Insolence edp, though). NK Violette is strongly about violet florals with less green and less powder than most other violet scents.    NK Violette is also much less candied and doesn’t remind me of violet flavored candy treats.  NK Violette dries down to a more subtle scent than the big purple syrup opening.  Once it settles in, it becomes a cool, dry violet; a complete violet floral, with hardly any green or earthiness.   This is all about the flower.  And it’s very well done; it stays true to the scent all the way to dry down and many hours thereafter.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

TWRT 10.7.11

This Week’s Random Thoughts~

I am a total loser because I’m really excited about all the new fall shows and, of course, the returning shows I love.

Fragrance, this week, was all about Canturi and Alahine.  The weather is now becoming “fall like” but fall in The South is a totally new experience.  Daytime temps under 80 and nighttime temps in the 60s are what makes a nice autumn day here.  It’s quite nice actually but takes some getting used to.  

Honeycrisp apples are out of this world delicious.

Congratulations to Brian and Andy Tauer for the launch of Miriam at Lucky Scent this week!

I’ve started tweeting.  It’s only been a few weeks but I think so far I like Twitter more than Facebook (FB, truth be told, I really can’t stand).  I’m @AbigailLevin on Twitter.  I don’t tweet anything particularly insightful…I just check in a few times per day to see what the world is up to.

I am obsessed with Downton Abbey.  

For 3 days I thought I adored Cartier Baiser Vole.  Then, on the fourth day I had the Octavian experience, where the scent just falls apart after two hours and becomes a musky clean hygiene product.  The day it fell apart really bummed me out, because I had been enjoying it so much.  It might have something to do with wearing it on clothing/fabric as opposed to skin.  At first I was only wearing it on skin and it was wondrous but very short lived.  I switched to spraying it on my clothing because it lasts much longer that way.  But…alas…on fabric it breaks down into a really generic synthetic musk.  The lily fragrance, either way, is still beautiful for the first hour.

Food item of the week:  Deviled Eggs.  Tabasco sauce, pepper and garlic salt are key.

I am forcing myself to not feel shame over this, but I love Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude.  I know both Brian and I have said you can’t have too few skin scents.  I still feel this way.  But if I’m going to have at least one skin scent let it be Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude.  I’m in love with this stuff.  Sensuous Nude is a slightly powdery, musky, softly fruity scent with a touch of Bronze Goddess and a hint of salt.  I like Nude better than original Sensuous and Sensuous Noir.

I cannot wait to receive Love, Chloe Eau Intense.  I’m also optimistically awaiting Tom Ford Violet Blonde.  I have sampled Violet Blonde and it might be a good violet for me.  I am always looking for The One violet that’s just perfect.  I do enjoy Annick Goutal La Violette (love it, but it’s usually a bit too subtle) and I also love Guerlain Insolence edp (but this can be a bit too much) so I’m hoping that the Tom Ford will be just right.

I saw the movie 50/50 last weekend and it was surprisingly good.  I like Joseph Gordon-Levitt (especially enjoyed him in Hesher) but I don’t usually like Seth Rogen.  

Oh, and I saw Drive a few weeks back and feel like the only person who hated it.  I thought it was incredibly boring.  Yes, Ryan Gosling is easy on the eyes, but that doesn’t get me through an entire movie when what I would have preferred do was pull out a pen and write a to do list instead of watch it.

October always makes me miss Boston.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Canturi eau de parfum

I listed Canturi eau de parfum as one of my favorite releases in 2010 then I didn’t write much of anything about it.  Now that fall weather has finally arrived in my geographic region I’ve been able to pull out some of my old friends again. I can’t even tell you how thrilling it’s been reuniting with Canturi.  My dear readers, you must understand, I’ve been living in 95+ degree weather (olfactory hell) for the past three months which means I’ve hardly worn perfume at all and if I was able to muster the strength to spray something it was more along the lines of a refreshing tonic than anything resembling real perfume.  We broke records this year in my state; this was the first time since 1945 that we experienced 90 consecutive days of 95+ degree heat.  Seriously.  Records were broken the year I arrived.  Joy.

Canturi is an Australian jeweler, known for bold geometric designs.  Canturi eau de parfum was created by Kevin Verspoor and presented as a modern interpretation of classic oriental and chypre perfumes.  For once I think this fragrance gets pretty close to its description as a “modern oriental and chypre perfume.”  It’s a woody oriental for sure, with a wonderfully classic structure similar to Opium or Coco but without all the old fashioned attributes that make those scents unwearable for me in 2011. Well, maybe I could wear Coco these days, but if I were in the mood to wear Coco I’d rather wear Canturi.

Canturi is dry.  It’s dry, spicy and incense-y yet remains reserved and subtle, not a powerhouse.  Canturi is only a little more potent than Chanel 31 Rue Cambon and shares a seat at the table of dry, multi-layered oriental/chypres.  I’m always reminded of plum sake when I first spritz Canturi.  The plum wine fades into a gauzy, soft-focus oriental without any of the specific floral notes sticking out.  I’d go so far as to say I don’t even smell anything identifiably floral here, it’s all airy spices. I love this lack of density, the way it billows around me, detectable with some sillage but far from heavy or sweet.   

If you like classic orientals and chypres, but prefer them reserved, then Canturi is worth trying.  It’s my favorite modern oriental, second only to Alahine.   And if you like the scent, the bottle will be icing on the cake.

Canturi’s notes are listed as:  Calabrian bergamot, mandarin leaf, neroli, Damask rose, night blooming jasmine, Florentine iris, lily of the valley, patchouli, amber, musk, vetiver, Tahitian vanilla, red cedar and oak moss  (and it really does smell like there's oakmoss in here)

Another review of Caturi: Eiderdown Press