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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Perfume Review: Amouage Ciel

Ciel is “the spring fragrance” in the Amouage range of perfumes. You can find more background information on this luxurious line started in 1980s by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said, the Sultan of Oman, as a means of revival of Oman’s perfume tradition, in my review of Amouage Gold. As far as I understand, Guy Robert is the nose behind all Amouage fragrances, including Ciel (correct me if I am mistaken). Oman has always been the source of the best (silver) frankincense and, to honor that fact, frankincense is present in most Amouage perfumes. Ciel is no exception, however once again, the precious accord is too faint, too overwhelmed by other notes, for me to get to know and to enjoy it.

Infinitely more wearable and fit for everyday life than majestic Gold, Ciel is still quite a rich and sensual floral bouquet with notes of gardenia, cyclamen, violet leaves, peach, waterlily, rose, jasmine, amber, musk, cedarwood, sandalwood, and the elusive frankincense. I rather enjoy the beginning of Ciel, it starts green (violet leaves) and creamy (gardenia), and has a vaguely tropical, happy, holiday feel to it. Peach is quite evident at the middle stage and pairs nicely with the sweet rose note, with jasmine being but a hint somewhere in the distance. My only complaint is the waterlily note, which appears just before the drydown and brings with it an unwelcome metallic and aquatic accord. It stays for a while, but when it finally disappears, the drydown of Ciel, though, to my nose, devoid of any hint of frankincense, is a rich and somehow spicy, savory almost, blend of amber, musk and cedar.

Even though very beautiful, Ciel is not really my type of scent and the price is rather prohibitive, but I cannot help but again admire the bottles. Inspired by ancient Omani culture, they are made of lead crystal and ornamented with sterling silver.

Ciel is available at, €175, and at Parfumsraffy, $75.00 – 215.00.


Monday, January 30, 2006

Perfume Review: Armani Privé Bois d'Encens

Armani Privé line of fragrances started as a private collection of scents to be worn by Armani and his close friends. Only the finest, purest ingredients were used to create this unisex “haute couture” collection. The line right now consists of four scents, Ambre Soie, Bois d'Encens, Eau de Jade, and Pierre de Lune; a fifth scent, Cuir Amethyste, is about to be released. Armani meant for Bois d’Encens to evoke his childhood memories of attending church with his grandmother. Having said that, in my opinion, Bois d’Encens does not have an overly churchy feel. (As a scent evoking a church and nothing but a church, Avignon by Comme des Garcons still reigns supreme.) Bois d’Encens starts with a black pepper accord, very rich, nose-tingling note that I adore; pepper smoothly transforms into frankincense (which to me often has a peppery smell anyway), then an unexpected but very prominent lime-like note appears and freshens up the composition, and finally cedar and vetiver join the show in the drydown.

Three things surprised me in this scent; first, the unanticipated lime note, which is perhaps a result of my quirky skin chemistry, and for which I am thankful, whatever is its origin, because it livens up the otherwise pale grey wood-incense composition and makes it somewhat different from other scents of this type. Second, for a scent with “bois” in its name, the cedar note is quite subdued, on my skin. As far as my nose is concerned, this fragrance could have been called Encens et Poivre , because pepper and frankincense are much more prominent on my skin than wood. And finally, having read about the inspiration behind the fragrance, I expected a more somber, heavier, more church-like scent. Instead (and this is not a bad thing at all, heaven knows, there are plenty of scents that evoke churches of all sorts of denominations) Bois d’Encens brings to mind a sophisticated, minimalistically furnished loft in a stylish part of a hip city. Its owner (we won’t be gender-specific here, this is a unisex scent after all) drinks lime gimlets, burns incense and loves to decorate the flat with wooden objects of simple, straightforward proportions.

Such stylish way of life does appeal to me on some days, and on those moments when I fancy myself as being or aspiring to be urbane and fashionable, I reach for Bois d’Encens. Those moments are rare and thus Bois d’Encens is not full-bottle worthy for me. I also think that Privé Eaux de Parfum are rather overpriced ($185 for 1.7 oz). Bois d’Encens is an elegant, good quality scent, but it is still decidedly not worthy that kind of money. Bois d'Encens is available at Saks and can also be bought online at

*The image is from

Friday, January 27, 2006

Perfume Review: Hermes Ambre Narguile

Ambre Narguile is a part of Hermèssence collection, an exclusive line of fragrances created for Hermès by Jean-Claude Ellena. Meant to evoke cashmere, it does indeed envelope the wearer in a warm, soft, luxurious embrace. The Narguile part of the name refers to a traditional Middle Eastern device for smoking, also known as a water pipe, narghile/arghileh, shisha, hookah, hubble-bubble, or kalian. It is a pipe with a long flexible tube connected to a container where the smoke is cooled by passing through water. The sweet, fruity and smoky shisha tobacco accord of Ambre Narguile is my favorite part of this wonderful scent.

Apart from shisha tobacco, there are so many facets to Ambre Narguile. It is a fragrance that never stops developing. Never abrupt, the changes it undergoes are constant; because they are so subtle and nuanced, the changes are also very hard to describe. To depict the development of Ambre Narguile briefly and simplistically, it starts as a sweet, honeyed amber, acquires a deliciously smoky and at the same time caramel-like accord, attains a somewhat drier woody note, gets sweeter yet again, smelling amazingly like the Gerber Dutch Apple dessert consisting of apples and cinnamon that both my three year old and I like so much… Finally, the scent reaches that incredible, almost edible (and smokeable) stage of shisha tobacco that I find absolutely irresistible. It is a mouthwatering accord of amber, apples and tobacco, still sprinkled with a little bit of cinnamon.

I absolutely agree with Chandler Burr in his assessment of this scent when he says that ”it is not merely the best; there is simply nothing like it on the market, period. And no one will ever do it as well again.” Ambre Narguile is one of the most delicious fragrances ever created, it is gourmand but not foody, sweet but not cloying, smoky but not overly so, centered around amber but much more complex then simply an amber-based scent. To quote Mr. Burr yet again, Ambre Narguile “warms the air. It renders you mouthwatering.”

This delicious concoction can be purchased at Hermes boutiques either as a 100ml bottle (for, I believe, approximately $185.00), or as a part of a Discovery Set of four 15ml bottles (you can choose between Ambre Narguile, Poivre Samarcande, Vetiver Tonka, Rose Ikebana and Osmanthe Yunnan; the set costs about $125.00; correct me if I am wrong).

*The painting is Narguile by Alberto Vargas. I will leave you with some more paintings featuring water-pipes.

An Algerian and Her Slave by Ange Tissier

Algerian Women in Their Apartment by Delacroix

Caterpillar Smoking a Narguile by John Tenniel

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chant du Coeur by Shiseido

I am obsessed with Shiseido fragrances. Not with those readily available in the States, mind you, like new Zen, Vocalize, or Energizing and Relaxing. Oh no, I am longing for the ones only sold in Japan. It is sickness really, this hunt for perfumes I theoretically cannot have. Thanks to the kindness of other perfume addicts and to the wonders of eBay, I have been able to try and obtain several. Some of them were definitely worth the obsession and the effort to get them; Chant du Coeur is one of those lucky finds. Created for Shiseido by Edouard Flechier, the nose behind Christian Dior Poison, Frederic Malle Lys Méditerranée and Une Rose, Chant du Coeur is described as “a song born from the Earth’s heart”. The Ginko Leaf design of the bottle, conceived by Angela Cummings, represents “closeness to nature”.

Chant du Coeur is one of those smooth blends where not a single note stands out and where all notes appear at once and stay together till the end, without making the fragrance either linear or busy. Chant du Coeur is like a precious stone with its many facets; the light falling on the gem illuminates one side, then another, then perhaps several at ones. Chant du Coeur has the same multifaceted appearance; one moment spring-like mimosa is highlighted, another moment rose suddenly comes alive with its sweet, summery aroma, at times, the green hyacinth is quite apparent…all notes are blended seamlessly into a fresh, sunny harmony. Chant du Coeur is not a scent of a well-tended, lush garden with pampered, heady blossoms. These are wild flowers, born without any human interference, indeed “from the Earth’s heart”. I imagine them growing on a hilltop somewhere, overlooking the wide expanse of the sea and the sky.

As far as I know (and I may be mistaken, because what scarce information is available about Shiseido’s non-export scents, is mostly in Japanese, the language I do not know), Chant du Coeur is not simply a Japan-only scent, it has also been discontinued. It does sometime appear on eBay and goes for $25.00 - $40.00, depending on your luck and/or cunning bidding strategy.

*The painting is Expectations by Christophe Vacher.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Perfume Review: Amouage Gold

Amouage, which means “waves” in Arabic, suggesting waves of emotion, is the ultra luxurious fragrance line, started by His Highness Sayyid Hamad bin Hamoud al bu Said, the Sultan of Oman, as a means of revival of Oman’s perfume tradition. Thousands of years ago, the incense from Southern Arabia was one of the most prized substances, valued as highly as gold. Allegedly, the best incense has always originated from the Dhofar in today’s southern Oman. This incense is known as “silver (frank)incense”, which Pliny described as “brilliant white and gathered at dawn in drops or tears in the shape of pearls” and praised as the purest incense. (With the exception of Eau d’Amouage and Esprit d’Amouage, frankincense is present in all Amouage fragrances.) The master perfumer Guy Robert (creator of Dioressense, Caleche, Madame Rochas) was given the task to create “the most valuable perfume in the world”, sparing no expense. According to Amouage literature, Guy Robert describes Amouage (Gold) as his “symphony”, “the crowning glory” of his career.

Gold is said to be an all-natural fragrance composed of over 120 ingredients, including the legendary silver frankincense, as well as rock rose, lily of the valley, myrrh, orris, jasmine, ambergris, civet, musk, cedar and sandalwood. I must admit that, however hard I try to catch a whiff of the famous silver frankincense, I am unable to smell it in the top and middle notes. The incense and wood are overwhelmed by the heady, opulent florals. Rose and jasmine are most prominent on my skin, and I also smell a vaguely fruity note, which may perhaps be apricot, as well as, at the middle stage, an even more vague citrus accord. When the drydown comes, if I try very hard, I can actually smell hints of myrrh and frankincense, but still, the two are weighed down by the rich floral notes and there is no way for me to get to know and to savor the precious silver frankincense. Gold is undoubtedly a striking, grand scent, it is a regal blend worthy to be worn with the most magnificent evening gown, in the most lavish surroundings. It is a Classic Scent, by which I mean that it is an imposing floral bouquet, and the luxurious surrounding it brings to my mind are those somewhere in Paris, not in an Arabic palace. There is nothing at all exotic and Arabian in it, to my nose. That is my only complaint regarding Gold, apart from that it is a gorgeous scent that would be stunning in the right circumstances, worn on the appropriate occasion.

Since I do not anticipate being invited to mingle with Kings and Sultans in Paris, let alone in Oman, in a foreseeable future, and since nothing less majestic would be worthy of this scent, I cannot possibly justify buying a bottle. But what glorious bottles are those! Created by Asprey’s of Bond Street, London, the limited edition range of Gold bottles is made of sterling silver and plated with 24 carat gold, the “regular” bottles are made of lead crystal adorned with 24 carat gold. The design had roots in ancient Omani culture. The cap was inspired by the minarets of the mosques of Muscat and the panels on the bottle were taken from a thousand years old Omani door design.

Gold is available at, €192.00 – 290.00 and at Parfumsraffy, $84.00- 395.00, depending on the size and concentration.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Perfume Review: Rich Hippie

Rich Hippie is a company that makes perfume “using the traditional methods employed by perfumers before World War II and the advent of the chemical industry.” It means that their fragrances are produced by combining organically farmed or wildcrafted extracts of flowers and plants and 100% natural "spirits of wine" or wine alcohol distilled from grapes organically grown in the wine regions of California. Rich Hippie’s promise is to offer scents that are safe both for their wearer’s health and for the environment. I must very honestly admit right here and now that I care very little whether the fragrances I wear are made from all-natural or entirely artificial ingredients or (as probably most often is the case) are a mixture of both. All I want is for my perfume to smell good. Rich Hippie most certainly fulfills that requirement.

Rich Hippie website describes this perfume as a “hip, bohemian, seductive floral with extracts of African flowers, Madagascan vanilla bean and light notes of Guatemalan cardamom.” I don’t know about hip or bohemian, but it is indeed seductive. Rich Hippie is a glowing, rich, bright scent one should wear on a honeymoon in some exotic location; it is a happy scent full of summer sunshine. The official list of notes does not include lemon or any citrus fruits, but Rich Hippie starts with a very prominent lemon note, so sweet it makes me think of lemon lollipops or hard candies. That candy-like citrus accord is soon toned down and then completely replaced by a softly indolic jasmine note. It is a beautiful, gentle note that I find very enjoyable. Cardamom note is quite apparent and also very pleasant at the later stage, and vanilla does not overwhelm the drydown, allowing the floral accord and cardamom to be evident till the very end. This is not a loud scent and it stays very close to the skin.

I certainly would not mind owning a bottle of Rich Hippie; it is a beautiful, very wearable, extremely enjoyable scent. Now that I have tried it, I am very curious about other perfumes in the line, however the price of sample sets offered on Rich Hippie site is rather prohibitive, $85.00 for 6 samples. Full size bottle of Rich Hippie costs $85.00 for 1/2oz or $185.00 for 2oz.

*The photo of the bottle is from The image is from

Monday, January 23, 2006

Perfume Review: Curated by Colette Three As Four

Three As Four (As Four, AsFour or As4) is a part of Curated by Colette trio of scents, a collaboration that brought together three of Colette’s favorite fashion designers, As Four, Hussein Chalayan and Bless, and fragrance manufacturers Symrise. Colette is an überhip Paris boutique credited with being the first concept store, As Four is a small, avant-garde New York fashion house famous for its eccentric, offbeat designs. Bring the two together to create a fragrance, I thought, and you will get something innnovative, conceptual and most probably unwearable. Not quite so. According to J C Report, the fashion trio “wanted to use specifically personal ingredients to express who they were, but they also wanted to create a new classic.” I believe that they achieved the latter goal. Created by Symrise perfumer Frank Volkl, Three As Four does indeed has a classic feel; nothing quirky here, this is a coolly elegant, insouciant scent of admirable depth and complexity and incredible wearability.

Three As Four starts with a bright, bracing burst of lime. Even though the citrus note stays present in the background throught the fragrance’s development, I would not call As Four a primarily citrus scent. Its concept being based on the idea of “roots of life”, Three As Four is centered around three (of course) roots, ginger, vetiver, and orris. This “rooty-ness” is very evident, it tones down the lime and bergamot, and is indeed the focus of the scent. Like Robin, I adore the iris note in As4. It is a beautiful, multifaceted accord that goes from being moist and fresh, when paired with lime in the top notes, to the raw, earthy note, when accompanied by vetiver and woods, in heart and base notes. Ginger is most apparent on my skin in the drydown, it adds spicy kick to the iris-cedar-sandalwood-vetiver blend. If Three As Four were a color and a fabric, it would have been pale grey-green silk.

Three As Four is most definitely “full bottle worthy” for me; I anticipate that it is going to be especially wonderful in summer. I am not sure, however, that I can afford to wait till summer to acquire a bottle, because apparently only 300 bottles were produced. Right now 1,7oz bottles of Three As Four are available at, for €50.00, or at Aedes, for $95.00.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Computer problems

I am having computer problems, will have to take a (hopefully) small break. Back as soon as the connection is restored!

Perfume Review: Guerlain Cherry Blossom and Lovely Cherry Blossom

There comes a point every winter, when, tired of dreariness and cold, I start longing for spring and craving fragile, ethereal, gently floral scents that evoke the first tender blossoms. Yesterday was one of those bleak and chilly winter days and I finally cracked open my sample vials of Cherry Blossom and Lovely Cherry Blossom. I have been aware of the fact that Guerlain produces Cherry Blossom fragrances for Japanese market (apparently a new fragrance is released very year to celebrate the blooming of sakuras) and knew in advance that these will be delicate, understated, light scents, still, both Cherry Blossom’s and Lovely Cherry Blossom’s complete lack of body, tenacity, and any sort of presence were quite unlike anything I have experienced.

Cherry Blossom starts as a pale and yet quite sparkling (if you can imagine these two qualities together), citrusy scent. Ever so gently and daintily, it develops into a pleasant, soft jasmine-like fragrance and finally dries down as a light green tea scent. Lovely begins in a more floral, softer way and actually does manage for a while to bring to mind frail, delicate cherry blossoms; unfortunately, as the fragrance develops, it veers off in a direction of, what I call, Pink Scents or your typical “department store” girly fruity-florals. For such a light fragrance, it actually manages to annoy me, almost to give me a headache with its pink sweetness.

Neither of these has enough (or even a little) oomph and evocativeness to dispel my winter blues; they are not full bottle worthy for me, but if I had to choose one of these as, for example, a gift for myself, I would have opted for Cherry Blossom the regular. Pale and characterless as it is, it is more pleasant and fresher then its Lovely sister, and might be quite nice and cooling in summer.

Both can be found at, for about $46.00. I must add that, since Cherry Blossom scents are released annually, there is already a staggering number of these; apart from the regular and Lovely, you can choose among Crazy, Glittering, Shiny and the most recent, Gold Sparkle. I must say I doubt that I will have enough motivation to sample another Guerlain Cherry Blossom.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Perfume Review: Donna Karan Chaos

Chaos was created in 1996 as a scent that, contrary to its name, was meant to have a relaxing, restful effect on its wearers. I am not sure why in that case it was not called Peace or Chillout, but it doesn’t matter, Chaos is a great name, and the fact remains that, call it what you will, this is a gorgeous, rich scent that is further proof that everything good in life is either illegal, immoral, fattening, non-export or discontinued.

Chaos starts with a burst of herbs and spices; after that initial aromatic explosion, the scent calms down into a deep, sumptuous, woody blend. Chaos is by no means a linear scent, but, after the top notes subside, the changes it undergoes are subtle, almost imperceptible. The fragrance shifts from being mostly a sandalwood and cinnamon blend (a union made in olfactory heaven) to a more resinous, balsamic woody accord of agar wood (agarwood, aloeswood). The latter is the source of oud and is also used in Japanese Ko-doh ceremonies, meant to raise the human spirit to higher levels. The drydown of Chaos is rich and dark, almost leathery; the sweet and resinous woody note here is spiced up by the divine cinnamon I mentioned above, with an addition of the brighter accord of coriander.

After managing not to encounter this fragrance for almost ten years, I am almost sad that I finally got to know Chaos. It is painful to discover a scent that manages to be everything one likes in perfume (woody-oriental, spicy, dark and deep), to fall in love with it, only to realize that it is incredibly hard to find and very expensive. If I were a wizard, I would have put a hex on those responsible for discontinuing this masterpiece.

Chaos retails for $46.50 - $75.00 on (don’t rejoice yet, it is forever sold out there) or for staggering $450.00 - $1,100.00 (yes, you saw it right) on Relentlessly stalking eBay might help in procuring a bottle, but even there it is not a bargain. Oh woe is me!

*The first image is from, the second one from Images de Parfums.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Perfume Review: Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan

Osmanthe Yunnan, “inspired by a stroll through Beijing's Forbidden City”, is the fifth and newest scent in the Hermèssence Collection, created for Hermès by Jean-Claude Ellena. With notes of yunnan tea, orange, osmanthus, freesia, and apricot, this is a gentle scent of tea subtly infused with osmanthus and fruits. Having seen both apricot and osmanthus (which has a fruity-floral apricot-like aroma) among the notes, I was a little worried that Osmanthe Yunnan would be a little too heavy on apricot, a little too fruity. It is not. It is a tea scent first and foremost, to my nose, with fruity and floral notes only serving as a delicate, gauzy, summery background.

Yunnan tea has an intense, thick taste; in Osmanthe Yunnan this almost-spicy richness of Yunnan tea is toned down; in its turn Yunnan tea accord lessens the potential sweetness of fruits and freesia. All that makes Osmanthe Yunnan one of the most understated, light and neutral fragrances I have ever tried. The only bright accord here is the freesia note that, on my skin, is among the top notes. It subsides very quickly however, and from then on the scent is a rather dry, transparent aroma of (mostly) tea and (to a much lesser extent) fruits. As the scent dries down, I can finally smell the orange note, but it is very quiet and muted.

Osmanthe Yunnan would be great worn on very hot summer days or in situations and surroundings where scents with more oomph are frowned upon. I am not sure, however, that I am prepared to pay the price ($180.00 for 100ml) for the perfume that has this little presence. Perhaps I will finally purchase a Discovery Set of four 15ml Hermèssences and then I will include Osmanthe Yunnan as one of the choices ($125.00 for four 15ml bottles). Both full bottles and Discovery Sets are available exclusively in selected Hermès stores.

*The photo of Golden Osmanthus is from

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Со Старым Новым Годом!

Lust by S-Perfume

Lust is a part of /7S/, an olfactory installation of the Seven Deadly Sins by Mother S (Sacré Nobi, founder of S-Perfume) in collaboration with seven perfumers, Thierry Wasser (Acedia or Sloth), Harry Fremont (Avaritia or Avarice), Ilias Ermenidis (Gula or Gluttony), Annie Buzantian (Invidia or Envy), Annick Menardo (Ira or Anger), Alberto Morillas (Luxuria or Lust), and Jacques Cavallier (Superbia or Pride). Alberto Morillas is the nose behind such fragrances as Bvlgari Omnia, Cartier Le Baiser Du Dragon, Givenchy Pi, Flower by Kenzo, and S-Perfume’s Jet-Scent.

Lust is one of my two favorite S-Perfumes (the other one being 100% Love), it is a remarkable, unusual fragrance, a shadowy, dark scent; actually, to me it is a place rather than a scent. It is a fragrance to step into, or dive into. On the other side you will find a different world, a gray, dim, dusky universe. This is how I imagine Hades, where Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness flows, would look and smell like. There is nothing overtly lusty, blatantly sensual, or over the top erotic about this scent. This is a scent of a sin that has already been punished, a wistful, sorrowful and heartbreakingly beautiful scent of the lustful in Dante’s second circle of Inferno, of Paolo and Francesca, Lancelot and Guinevere, Tristan and Iseult.

Lust starts with a raw and earthy note that makes me think of iris (I was unable to find a list of notes, so this is all my own perception/imagination). The scent grows darker, patchouli becomes evident and so does chocolate. Then a cold, camphoraceous note joins the composition, bringing with it that misty, grey, ethereal quality that is perhaps what makes me think of Hades and Inferno. The drydown of Lust is of course animalic (well, this is Lust after all), but that dirtiness is understated, just like all other accords in this scent.

If pressed to compare Lust to another scent, I would say that it is somewhat reminiscent of Borneo 1834. In my opinion, however, Morillas’s creation is a superior blend. (Critisizing a scent created by Lutens The Great does not come easy to me, beleive me) The chocolate note in Borneo 1834 has a powdery and plasticy smell of cheap cocoa, here it is a softly bitter aroma of high quality dark chocolate. The camphorous note is subtler in Lust, less pungent then in Lutens’s scent, it is well blended with other notes and does not feel like an alien accord that has been added for the sake of making the scent different, at the expense of wearability. Having said that, to me Lust is not an everyday kind of scent. It requires a certain melancholy, quietly creative state of mind; it is an atmospheric scent and one must be prepared to deal with that dark, otherworldly atmosphere before putting Lust on. I love Lust the way Pablo Neruda describes in his poem below, “as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.”

You can buy a generous sample of Lust in S-Perfume online store. According to Scentzilla, bigger, 15ml, bottles will be also available late January or early February.

And now as promised, I do not love you... by Pablo Neruda:

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.

*The photo of Lust (Luxuria) installation is from
*The painting is The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil by Ary Scheffer (Musée du Louvre, Paris).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Perfume Review: Susanne Lang Black Orchid

Black Orchid is a part of Susanne Lang’s Made to Measure collection, subcategory Decadent Spice. I would not describe it as either decadent, or spicy, or indeed black. According to Susanne Lang herself, “beauty is most alluring when it is subtle”, and that sentiment defines Black Orchid perfectly; it is a delicate, pretty scent, subtly seductive and eminently wearable.

For the life of me I could not find the official list of notes; Black Orchid is described as a lush vanilla floral, and as far as my nose can tell, it is a blend of vanilla and what I percieve to be jasmine. The two notes exist side by side throughout the whole fragrance development. At no point is one note louder than the other, and not even in the drydown does vanilla overwhelm the jasmine. I consider that a very good and rare thing, because so very often in Vanilla and Something fragrances, vanilla takes over right after the top notes stage.

Black Orchid is not exactly original, in fact it reminds me of a much gentler and much more floral Trouble by Boucheron, but, just like Trouble, it is an extremely enjoyable, beautiful scent that is very easy to wear anytime, anywhere.

It is available at LuckyScent either as a part of Decadent Trio set of three 30ml bottles ($120.00), or as a part of Ultimate Vanilla Collection of nine 4ml bottles ($95.00). I think, or rather I hope, that it is possible to purchase Black Orchid on its own, in some other stores. Please comment if you know where!

Edited to Add: Black Orchid has been renamed and is now called Midnight Orchid.

*The photo of Decadent Trio set is from

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Perfume Review: Idole de Lubin

Lubin’s 466th scent since 1798, Idole de Lubin was created by Olivia Giacobetti, the nose behind Frederic Malle’s En Passant, various L’Artisan scents, and the whole IUNX line. As Victoria (Bois de Jasmin) points out in her review, Idole is Giacobetti’s darkest fragrance yet. It is a nocturnal, resinous, smoky, woody, warm scent that is somehow very Lutenesque in its feel. Idole brings to mind precisely the image the creators intended, namely that of a wooden Idol, “a mute and hieratic figure of Nubian divinity”, around which “bark was burning and resins were grilled”. Still (again I agree with Victoria), Giacobetti retains her crown as a Queen of the Light (the title originally bestowed by Chandler Burr on Jo Malone, undoubtedly another master of olfactory transparency). Even though the color this scent evokes is pitch black, at the same time it manages not to be heavy and overwhelming.

I love Idole, love its every stage, from the pleasantly medicinal, sweet and spicy blend of rum and saffron of the top notes, to the strangely sweet, almost fruity, smoked wood accord of the middle notes, to the incredible leathery and resinous drydown. There isn’t a single note that I wouldn’t have wanted to be in the composition, this perfume is so perfect for me, when I put it on, it feels like second skin. Idole is the scent of wanderlust to me, one whiff of this smoky, dark potion and, the homebody and potato couch that I am, I start dreaming of adventures a la Jules Verne, of faraway exotic journeys, of “languid Asia, blazing Africa, a whole faraway world that is absent, almost defunct…” I adore and treasure perfumes that make my heart and my mind fly away from the mundane everyday reality; Idole now tops the list of these beloved Wanderlust Scents.

A review of such a scent would not have been complete without a Baudelaire poem (do I hear groans in the audience?). I will let the poet finish this review by telling about that longing to be far, far away, in the way only he can:

Grieving and Wandering

Tell me, does your heart sometimes fly away, Agatha,
Far from the black ocean of the filthy city,
Toward another ocean where splendor glitters,
Blue, clear, profound, as is virginity?
Tell me, does your heart sometimes fly away, Agatha?

The sea, the boundless sea, consoles us for our toil!
What demon endowed the sea, that raucous singer,
Whose accompanist is the roaring wind,
With the sublime function of cradle-rocker?
The sea, the boundless sea, consoles us for our toil!

Take me away, carriage! Carry me off, frigate!
Far, far away! Here the mud is made with our tears!
— Is it true that sometimes the sad heart of Agatha
Says: Far from crimes, from remorse, from sorrow,
Take me away, carriage, carry me off, frigate?

How far away you are, O perfumed Paradise,
Where under clear blue sky there's only love and joy,
Where all that one loves is worthy of love,
Where the heart is drowned in sheer enjoyment!
How far away you are, O perfumed Paradise!

But the green Paradise of childhood loves
The outings, the singing, the kisses, the bouquets,
The violins vibrating behind the hills,
And the evenings in the woods, with jugs of wine
— But the green Paradise of childhood loves,

That sinless Paradise, full of furtive pleasures,
Is it farther off now than India and China?
Can one call it back with plaintive cries,
And animate it still with a silvery voice,
That sinless Paradise full of furtive pleasures?

Idole de Lubin is now available in Printemps for very reasonable EUR 59. The rumour has it that it is going to be available in the US in a couple of months. I am counting the days!

*The photo is a still from Пятнадцатилетний Kапитан (Fifteen Year Old Captain), an old Soviet movie based on Jules Verne’s book Dick Sands: A Captain at Fifteen.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfumerie Generale Collection of Fragrances

Pierre Guillaume, creator of Parfumerie Generale describes his philosophy this way: “Luxury is not a question of being excessive and the quest for a modern note must not result in overly intellectual perfumes that are impossible to wear.” I could not agree more and I believe that the seven scents in Parfumerie Generale collection follow that principle to perfection. These are contemporary and complex fragarnces, most of them with a little twist, with a little unexpected note making them stand out, but, just as their creator claims, they are very wearable, intimate scents, meant to rouse emotions.

Cologne Grand Siecle
With notes of lemon, tangerine, wheat, vetiver, cardamom, and bitter orange, this is fresh, sparkling cologne, which would be wonderful worn in summer, but which is not too light and transparent and thus is quite attractive in cold weather as well. The piercing lemon note is sweetened by fruitiness of tangerine; the drydown is quite “substantial” and earthy thanks to vetiver and ever so slightly sweet and spicy, because of the cardamom note.

Parfumerie Generale intended this scent for men but I would urge the ladies to pay no attention to that; there is nothing overly masculine about this fragrance. It is my favorite of the line; with notes of Canapa Sativa seed oil, pepper, pimento, coffee, ebony, chocolate, and bourbon vanilla, this is a rich, sumptuous composition, with luxurious accords smoothly blended into a dark, spicy harmony. This is a “pitch black” perfume with woody and (very black) coffee notes being most prominent on my skin. Those, who, like me, are wary of chocolate in perfume, should not worry, the accord is very subtle and elegant here. This was without a doubt "full bottle worthy" for me.

Cuir Venenum
My second favorite of the seven scents, and also very much "full bottle worthy", this “reinterpreted, modernized, feminized” leather perfume has notes of orange blossom absolute, citrus, myrrh, and “polyalcohols of coconut and musk”. This leather fragrance is both fresh due to the citrus notes and softly animalic due to the musk accord. I really like the musk Pierre Guillaume uses in his scents (and it is present in many if not most of Parfumerie Generale perfumes), it is sensual bordering on “dirty” but is not overwhelming. Cuir Venenum starts just a little too harshly green to my taste, but as it dries down, the scent sweetens and develops into an unusual gourmand leather fragrance with animalic base.

Intrigant Patchouli
This is one of very few pacthouli scents that I would not mind wearing. With notes of ginger, patchouli, Mysore sandalwood, benzoin, amber, and musk, it is a little spicy and a little animalic (yet again); patchouli is of course evident but not overwhelming. I especially love the ginger note in Intrigant Patchouli, it adds a lovely kick to the composition.

L’Eau de Circe
Damask rose, jasmine, osmanthus, orchid, ylang ylang, white peach leaves, tangerine, patchouli, wood, amber and honey balm combine in this sweet yet quite green floral blend with fruity undertone. This is my least favorite of the line; it is neither too heady, nor too sweet…it is just rather uninteresting. I doubt that Circe the Enchantress would have worn this light, inoffensive scent. I think she would have opted for Cuir Venenum or Coze instead.

L’Eau Rare Matale
With notes of Matale black tea, woods and spices, this is a spicy, earthy and dark tea scent that somehow manages to be rather unremarkable. How can a “spicy, earthy and dark” fragrance be unremarkable you might ask. I don’t know the answer. I can only tell you that, despite being very well blended and very wearable, L’Eau Rare Matale lacks certain “oomph”. Please click here to read Robin’s much more favorable review.

Musc Maori
Musc Maori is an unusual gourmand scent that manages to be both almost-foody and animalic. It has notes of Cumaru wood, coffee tree blossom, white musk, cocoa bean, amber, and Tonka bean; according to Robin (Now Smell This), it smells like New York Egg Cream. Uunfortunately I have never tasted that delicious sounding concoction and I can only describe Musc Maori as a creamy, dessert-like scent with chocolate and coffee undertones, with generous helpings of that very appealing Parfumerie Generale musk. It is just a tad too sweet for me but it is still one of my favorite scents in the line and I predict that fans of gourmand perfumes would love Musc Maori.

The seven scents are right now only available on Parfumerie Generale website. Miniature 7ml bottles cost EUR 8.00. Full size bottles retail for EUR 65.00- 135.00. I would recommend everyone to fill in their Malle-esque questionnaire; Parfumerie Generale does not offer to send free samples, but they will get back to you straightaway and will analyze your perfume tastes in great detail, at least that was my experience; I thought that part of their customer service was quite remarkable. The line is also availabe at The Perfume Shoppe in Canada, they do ship to the US.

*Images are from


Monday, January 09, 2006

Le Maroc Pour Elle by Andy Tauer

Le Maroc Pour Elle, the second fragrance by the very talented Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer, is a scent to wear whilst falling in love with a dark, handsome, brooding stranger in a faraway exotic land, in a bar where this song is playing: You must remember this / A kiss is still a kiss / A sigh is just a sigh / The fundamental things apply / As time goes by. / And when two lovers woo, / They still say, "I love you" / On that you can rely / No matter what the future brings-... In other words, Le Maroc Pour Elle is a pefume to wear in Casablanca.

Le Maroc Pour Elle is heartbreakingly exquisite from start to finish. It begins on my skin with a peppery-sweet rose note and a dark, honeyed and indolic jasmine accord. There are few notes more attractive than an indolic jasmine note done right, like this one. I cannot satisfactorily explain what I mean by “right”, but if pressed to do so, I would say that its animalic character should be present but not overwhelming, it must smell “dirty” but in the softly suggestive manner, not like something that would bring to mind Lady Marmalade.

Jasmine and rose continue to be present, side by side, all through the scent’s development, but I must say that jasmine is more promiment to my nose than rose, which serves more like a luscious, sweet background for the dusky, rich jasmine accord. This is a twilight fragrance to me, gently dark rather than sunlit, especially in the drydown, where a cedar note is combined with an animalic accord that I believe to be the same indolic jasmine note (again Andy Tauer blends the notes in the way that makes them last all through the fragrance's development), only perhaps with an addition of some musk, I am not sure, but I love this soft, hushed, understatedly animalic, woody drydown. Le Maroc Pour Elle for me is a scent of an old black and white movie about beautiful, doomed love.

As I promised, I will leave you with Baudelaire’s poem, Evening Harmony, which fits this perfume to perfection:

Evening Harmony

Now is the time when trembling on its stem
Each flower fades away like incense;
Sounds and scents turn in the evening air;
A melancholy waltz, a soft and giddy dizziness!

Each flower fades away like incense;
The violin thrills like a tortured heart;
A melancholy waltz, a soft and giddy dizziness!
The sky is sad and beautiful like some great resting-place.

The violin thrills like a tortured heart,
A tender heart, hating the wide black void.
The sky is sad and beautiful like some great resting-place;
The sun drowns itself in its own clotting blood.

A tender heart, hating the wide black void,
Gathers all trace from the pellucid past.
The sun drowns itself in clotting blood.
Like the Host shines O your memory in me!

You could begin your own beautiful friendship with Le Maroc Pour Elle by clicking here or here. It is available at or, SFr. 85.00 for 3,4oz.

*The photo of Le Maroc Pour Elle bottle is here by Andy Tauer’s kind persmission. The second photo is a still from Casablanca.

PS. I changed the settings and it is now possible to leave comments without having a Blogger account.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Perfume Review: Andy Tauer L’Air du Désert Marocain

L’Air du Désert Marocain by the Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer is “a perfume that sends one dreaming of far oases”. When I start quoting Baudelaire it is a sure sign that I am in love with a scent. There is nothing I like more than a perfume that is evocative of far-away lands, a perfume that is “rich, glorious and forbidden, having the expansive power of infinities, amber, musk, benjamin and incense, that sing of the ecstasies of spirit and sense.” Inspired by the Maghreb desert, L’Air du Désert Marocain is everything I admire in a fragrance; it is superbly blended, exotic, deep, forceful and yet, because of its very smooth blend, it is eminently wearable and strangely comforting. It envelopes me like a luxurious, ornamented blanket from an opulent tent of a sheikh. L’Air du Désert Marocain smells just like I imagine that tent would, and I understand completely why Andy Tauer’s site describes it as the scent of desire.

L’Air du Désert Marocain is a predominantly amber scent on my skin, a complex, multifaceted and multi-staged fragrance. At the first stage, the amber note is herbal-spicy, accompanied by coriander and cumin. As the scent develops on my skin, it darkens, the amber acquires a leather-like undertone, rich and smoky; soon, it is made even darker and more mysterious by a note that I can only describe as incense-like. According to the perfume description, L’Air du Désert Marocain’s heart is composed of rock rose and jasmine, but I must say that the floral notes are lost on my skin. The drydown of L’Air du Désert Marocain is glorious amber, just the way I like it, opaque, intense and warm, what I call a “churchy amber”, because again, to my nose, it has a subtle hint of incense. I admire the way the notes don’t completely disappear with each stage of the scent development, for example, I can still smell coriander and cumin in the drydown, and the wonderful smoky leather note is also apparent to my nose till the very end.

I must say that I am not at all sure there is leather among the notes of L’Air du Désert Marocain; perhaps the notes combine to create an illusion of leather on my skin. But the note is there, to my nose, and I love its dark smokiness and richness. I understand that Andy Tauer is at the moment working on his third scent, which will feature leather as the main accord; I am very much looking forward to trying it.

L’Air du Désert Marocain can be found on or, SFr. 85.00 for 3,4oz.

I will leave you with Baudelaire’s poem The Scent Bottle; come back next week for the review of Andy Tauer’s second scent, Le Maroc Pour Elle. I must warn you though, there will be more Baudelaire quoting.

The Scent-bottle

There are heady scents
that seem to find all substances
porous. One might say
that they could permeate glass.
- Opening a casket from

the Orient - one
whose antiquated lock grates,
sulkily squealing;
or in an abandoned house
some cabinet redolent

with Time's acrid breath,
black with decay, dust-laden,
sometimes you may find
one old vial, whose lost soul,
released, springs to life again.

*The photo of L’Air du Désert Marocain and the beautiful graphic are here by Andy Tauer’s kind permission.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Perfume Review: Boucheron Trouble

Note to self: keep an open mind, do not stick to niche scents only, and remember that your next Holy Grail or even just a very enjoyable perfume discovery might hide in the most unexpected places. Have I not been given a sample of Boucheron Trouble by a generous fellow perfume-aficionado, I might have never found this amazing comfort scent. Created by Jacques Cavallier, the author of Alexander McQueen Kingdom, Yves Saint Laurent Nu, Stella McCartney Stella, Lancôme Poeme, Givenchy Hot Couture, and a legion of other fragrances, Trouble has notes of lemon, foxglove a.k.a. digitalis, Sambac jasmine, amber, blue (?) cedar, and vanilla (according to PerfumeMart).

The list of notes does indeed spell trouble; I am not sure what foxglove smells like, but I imagined that, combined with jasmine and amber, the effect would be intoxicating, heavy and very sensual. In reality, Trouble is a robust but soft scent, its sensuality warm and enveloping. This is the first fragrance in months and months to elicit a You Smell Great comment from my husband (a rare occurence not as much because of his inattentiveness really, as because of me being a chronic underapplier and his uneducated olfactory instrument a.k.a. nose, unable to appreciate the subtler scents, heh), so perhaps there is an intoxicating element there. As far as I am concerned, Trouble is not so much sexy as comforting. The presence of lemon among the notes puzzles me, because, to my nose, there is nothing even remotely citrusy in Trouble. It starts with an accord which I can only describe as sweet and creamy jasmine tea; the jasmine note begins to fade in the middle stage, and by the time the drydown comes, the scent is mostly vanilla, amber and a vaguely woody note that I assume is the promised “blue” cedar.

Trouble is not very unique or complex, but it is nevertheless a supremely enjoyable, comfortable and comforting scent. I see (a bottle of) Trouble in my nearest future.

You can get yourself some Trouble (tee hee) at, $42.99 for 1,7oz of Eau de Parfum.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Perfume Review: Nelly Rodi Scent Factory

Nelly Rodi is a company that specializes in providing trend information to fashion (and I assume cosmetic and perfume) industry; they are considered to be one of the pioneers of trend counseling in Europe and count such giants as L’Oréal, LVMH, H&M, and Givenchy among their clients. Forever being on the lookout for new fashion tendencies, it is no wander that Nelly Rodi spotted the growing trend for curated scent, i.e. scents commissioned directly from perfumers (one of the prime examples would be Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfum).

Scent Factory, a line of eight scents, each a variation on the oriental olfactory family was developed by the perfumers of three of the largest fragrance manufacturers, Mane, Robertet and Symrise. Each perfume in Scent Factory focuses on a specific note and is supposed to convey a luxurious and contemporary image. I must say that I find it a little strange that Nelly Rodi considers the Oriental olfactory category to be “often overlooked by big perfume houses”; I certainly haven’t noticed a shortage of Oriental fragrances. I am not complaining though, Oriental is one of my favorite fragrance families, and I am grateful Nelly Rodi did not decide to explore say Aquatics.

INCENSE. Created by Alexis Dadier of Mane, the scent starts somber and intense, like an herbal-green (rosemary) incense, quite deep and forceful. Within minutes, however, the scent loses all its force and disintegrates into a rather bland vanilla-woody drydown with but a hint of incense.

RHUM. Created by Olivia Jan of Robertet, Rhum begins very unpleasant on my skin, bringing to mind an overheated plastic appliance that is about to start melting. Going from unpleasant to unremarkable, it seems to settle into a vaguely medicinal drydown of mainly vanilla and sandalwood.

CARDAMOME. Created by Fabrice Pellegrin of Mane, this is a rich and aromatic, slightly spicy scent with a woody undertone. Not bad at all except for the “dusty” (not powdery- dusty) drydown and the fact that the scent lasts less than half an hour on my skin.

CACAO. Created by Dorothée Piot of Symrise, this was my least favorite of the line and easily one of the most disagreeable perfumes I have ever smelled. Cacao is a medicinal and plastic-y chocolate scent, like Hershey Kisses gone not just stale but actually rotten.

GIMGEMBRE. Created by Richard Ibanez of Robertet, this is a very sweet, almost syrupy ginger scent, with –again- a medicinal undertone to it somewhere in the middle notes, rather like cough medicine of some sort. It has the inevitable vanilla-heavy drydown; still I would recommend this one to the fans of ginger fragrances, because the ginger note actually stays present till the very end, unlike that in another ginger-vanilla blend, Zenzero. The drydown here is also made more interesting by the presence of amber. All in all, perhaps one of the better scents of the line, apart from its extreme sweetness.

BOIS. Created by Amandine Marie of Robertet, this is my second favorite of the line. It is a cedar heavy scent made interesting by the presence of a dry and spicy birch note and a smoky leather accord, which manages to smell leathery and quite alike Lapsang Souchong all at the same time. The drydown is earthy, with notes of vetiver and patchouli being the most prominent on my skin; there is a little too much patchouli here to my taste, otherwise Bois could have been the favorite among these eight scents.

AMBRE. Another Dorothée Piot’s creation, Ambre has a very unpleasant beginning, at the danger of sounding gross, I must say that the start of this scent smells to me just like smoldering ashes of garbage. If one perseveres, however, the scent gets radically better and develops into a straightforward and enjoyable, rather dark and sweet, amber scent.

ROSE. Third Dorothée Piot’s scent, the best of her three creations, and my favorite of the line, this is a peppery-herbal-spicy rose fragrance. It is a beautiful scent, a dark rose with a "kick" and an "oomph", very wearable but extremely short-lived.

All eight scents seem to have some similarities, and I am not talking about all of them being “a contemporary take on the Oriental theme”. Several of them seem to have a strange medicinal undertone and an unremarkable vanilla drydown. Compared to another “curated” line, that of Frederic Malle’s Editions de Parfums, where each scent is a well-planned, masterfully executed, finished, polished, and complex creation, Scent Factory fragrances seem to be more like drafts, unfinished, raw versions of potentially great perfumes. Apart from that and apart from the very poor lasting power of all eight, my other grievance with this line is the fact that the fragrances are only available as a set. I liked Bois and Rose and perhaps- just perhaps- I would have bought the bottles if they were available separately. As it is, there is no way that I would want to be saddled with the other six.

NellyRodi Scent Factory is available at Aedes, where the set of eight 0.8oz bottles retails for $145.00.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

100% Love by S-Perfume

You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That's where I'll always love you, Peter Pan. That's where I'll be waiting.
Tinkerbell, Hook

100% Love is a part of S-Perfume collection, produced by Shaping Room, by their own admission, “the world's smallest fragrance house”. S-Perfume comprises the creations of such celebrated perfumers as Alberto Morillas, Christophe Laudamiel, and Sophia Grojsman. The latter is the nose behind 100% Love, and that came as a surprise to me, because the scent could not be more different from Grojsman’s other perfumes, Paris, Eternity, Tresor, Jaipur, and Yvresse. Where her other creations are bright, heady, lush, “substantial”, 100% Love is incredibly subtle and delicate.

Only a few of my favorite fragrances have been “love at first sniff”; more often than not, it takes several tastings for me to grow to like a scent. 100% Love however was one of those rare cases, where as soon as I smelled it on my skin, I knew I was smitten. Without being quite like anyting I have ever smelled before, 100% Love was familiar and comforting, like coming back to a place I did not remember until now but that was strangely recognizable to me.

100% Love starts on my skin with a wonderfully tart, astringent cranberry accord. It is soon joined by a delicate rose note and a whisper of chocolate. My nose may be completely making it up but I think that there is a myrrh note in 100% Love, among the middle notes. There is often a peppery (Caron Parfum Sacre) or a medicinal (Serge Lutens La Myrrhe) undertone to a myrrh note, but in certain fragrances, like L’Occitane’s new Eau d’Iparie, myrrh smells gently sweet, almost fruity, and this is the accord that my nose picks up in 100% Love. When the drydown comes, the rose note becomes more prominent and the perfume acquires a very slightly powdery smell not unlike that of vintage lipsticks and powders, only much more subtle. 100% Love is a scent of twilight; like another favorite, Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir, it manages to be dark and transparent at the same time. It is a childlike and yet strangely ageless and eternal scent of weightless shadows that inhabit the place Tinkerbell describes to Peter Pan, a comfortable, familiar place “between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming”.

100% Love is available at, $67.00 for 60ml of Eau de Toilette. According to Now Smell This, an Eau de Parfum version will be available in time for Valentine’s Day. If my Valentine is reading this, he should be making notes.

*The photo of 100% Love is from and is here by a kind permission of S-Perfume.

*The painting is Mysterious Rose Garden by Aubrey Beardsley.

Monday, January 02, 2006

My 2006 Wish List or I Cannot Stop Making Lists

New Releases I Would Like to See in the Coming Year

I would like Frederic Malle to release a woody scent. Dear Monsieur Malle, it is hard to believe there isn’t one already in your perfume line. Tsk tsk, that is a regrettable omission. (Credit for this idea goes to Christina who was the first to notice that there is no woody scent among the Editions de Parfums)

I would like Serge Lutens to come up with a tea scent. Show them how it’s done, Serge. Give us the tea scent that is black, deep and luxurious. I will leave it up to you to come up with a twist. Because I am sure there will be a twist if you decide to do a tea scent.

I would like Bond No. 9 to release a scent-homage to Russian Tea Room. Just because. I guess it would have a tea note, just like Lutens's scent, and some mounthwatering gourmand accords. The bottle would be decorated with Matryoshkas or Gzhel- or Khokhloma-like pattern (I personally would prefer Gzhel, because the bottle would fit so well in my blue and white bedroom :-)). Dear Laurice, as you can see, I have thought of everything, all you have to do is go ahead and produce the scent.

I would like Guerlain to release an incense scent. Something dark, melancholy, tranquil, full of beauty and soul. I know it will be heavenly, I have complete faith in you.

I would like Caron to re-launch Violette Precieuse. Please, that is the only violet scent I like, have mercy, bring it back.

Finally, I want a new amber scent. Parfums Delrae, Lorenzo Villoresi, and Creed, I can’t decide ,which one of you I would like to create it the most. How about all of you dream up a new amber scent for me to love and crave next year.

Already Announced Releases I Look Forward to Trying

Gris Clair by Serge Lutens, with notes of lavender and ashes, this fragrance sounds like it is going to be along the lines of the non-export Encens et Lavande. The latter is the only Lutens scent that I haven't tried, so I am not sure what to expect from Gris Clair.

Eau de Lierre by Diptyque, with notes of ivy and violet leaf, this promises to be too green for my taste, but I love Diptyque and I am definitely going to try the new fragrance when it comes out.

Alamut by Lorenzo Villoresi. All I know about it is that it is going to be an oriental scent, which seems to be named after a mountain fortress that used to be situated south of the Caspian Sea. Still, I am intrigued.

Terre d'Hermes by Hermes, an earthy-woody-"vegetable" scent meant for men. Doesn't Hermes know that the masculine-feminine distinction in perfumery is so very passé?

West Side Stories by Bond No. 9. I know nothing about this one, could not find the list of notes anywhere, but I am looking forward to trying it and undoubtedly admiring its bottle.

And finally ...

My Favorite 2005 Releases

1. Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire or The One With All The Vodka. Inspired by the Tsarist Russia, this is a perfume-excess that manages to be very well blended and extremely enjoyable.

2. Pomegranate Noir by Jo Malone. Malone shows how the elegant fruity scent is done and that it is possible to create a fragrance that is dark and transparent all at the same time.

3. Youth Dew Amber Nude by Estee Lauder. Tom Ford's update of Youth Dew is cuddly and warm like the softest cashmere wrap.

4. Rose de Feu by Les Parfums de Rosine. Spicy and elegant new rose scent from one of my favorite fragrance lines. Not as fiery as the name would make us believe, it is still full of oomph and yet is unobtrusive enough to be worn anytime, anywhere.

5. Au Thé Rouge by Bvlgari. Enjoyable black tea scent with red accents. The best of the Bvlgari's tea line, it is slightly smoky, a little woody, and just a tad sweet. Despite being an Eau de Cologne, it lasts quite a long time on my skin.

There were other new fragrances that I thought were quite good, even though some of them are decidedly not my cup of tea. Among them are Bleecker Street by Bond No 9, Brit Gold by Burberry, Gaultier 2 by Jean-Paul Gaultier, Do Son by Diptyque, Josephine by Rance, Borneo 1834 by Serge Lutens, Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker, Fleur d'Oranger by L'Artisan, Hypnose by Lancome, Zenzero by i Profumi di Firenze, Carnal Flowers by Frederic Malle, Euphoria by Calvin Klein, Tumulte by Christian Lacroix, and Cast a Spell by Lulu Guinness.

Happy New Year everyone!

*All photos are from Getty Images.