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Friday, March 31, 2006

Perfume Review: Clive Christian X For Women

In 1999 British designer Clive Christian purchased Crown Perfumery Co. (est. 1872). Mr. Christian was inspired by its history and “the classic formulae” and decided “to create a new level of luxury perfumes”. (The Crown Perfumery fragrances were discontinued and replaced with Christian’s own creations.) Naturally, the level of luxury the designer had in mind could only be achieved by using “the finest and the rarest” ingredients. Thus, to make X “the most seductive fragrance possible”, certain “exotic ingredients” were used, and the name “X” is in fact a reference to those luxury components. (From

This supposed marvel of seductiveness, classified as a Chypre Fruity fragrance, has notes of ivy, peach, mandarin, bergamot, karo karounde, reseda, rose, jasmine, patchouli, cedar, vetyver, labdanum, and vanilla. It starts sweetly fruity (peach and mandarin) and softly green (ivy), goes through a delicate floral stage (nothing heady here, the flowers are quiet subdued), acquires a prominent patchouli note, and just when one thinks that it is going to dry down that way, dry, earthy and woody, X suddenly goes back to the top, green and fruity, notes and more or less stays that way till the very end. This makes the scent feel “rounded” and somehow complete, and I find that quality admirable. In general, X is very well blended, it is smooth, and it does smell sumptuous. Having said that, I do not find it extraordinary in any way, the “X factor” (heh) is missing for me. It is a very pleasant, very wearable scent, nothing more, nothing less.

X is available at Saks, $225.00 for 1.7oz. Four Seasons also offer pure perfume, $695.00 for 1oz.

*The image is from

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Perfume Review: Bogner Wood Woman

I have heard marvelous things about Bogner Wood Woman. It was said to be somewhat similar to the two of my favorite scents, Donna Karan Wenge and Matthew Williamson Incense. It is also unavailable in the States, thus inevitably making it seem all the more appealing. Bogner is a German fashion house established in 1932 and known for its sportswear. Bogner Wood Woman, released in 2003 along with Bogner Wood Man, is one of their recent scent launches. It was created by perfumer Evelyne Boulanger and is described as “a balanced harmony between the strength of dry and vibrant woods and the tender sweetness of vanilla, musk and sandal notes”. The notes of Bogner Wood Woman sound extremely appealing: almond, cinnamon bark, pistachio wood; jasmine, iris, lily of the valley, “milky notes”; vanilla, rosewood, sandalwood, cedar, white musk, almond bark.

It is with much regret that I report, the reality of Bogner Wood Woman on my skin is rather less spectacular. Granted, I am a bois junkie and love my woody scents to be rich and robust, so keep that in mind when reading my complaints of the lack of tenacity and intensity of Bogner Wood Woman. Still…because of all the vanilla, the almond, the jasmine and the iris, the woody notes do not seem to occupy as prominent a position as the name would make us believe. The cedar, the rosewood and the sandalwood are too toned done, too understated. Strong and vibrant woods these are not. There is a vaguest of hints here indeed of the spicy wood scent like Wenge or Williamson’s Incense, buried under the milky-creamy-almondy vanilla accord. It is a hint of what Bogner Wood Woman could have been like if the creators chosen not to dilute the woody notes as much as they did. As it is, Bogner Wood is very wearable, very pleasant and very unremarkable.

It is often available on eBay from European sellers, for about $30.00-40.00.
*The image is from

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Perfume Review: Institut Très Bien Cologne a La Russe, Cologne a La Francaise and Cologne a l'Italienne

Institut Très Bien is a new fragrance line based in Lyon, France. Their site is under construction, so I cannot provide you with more details on their history and philosophy, however I can tell you that in 2004 they received first prize at the Beauty Challenger Awards, held during the Cosmeeting exhibition in Paris. The awards is given for innovation and best practices in the niche sector. Rather predictably, I was mainly drawn to this new line of colognes because one of the fragrances was called Cologne a La Russe.

Cologne a La Russe, said to be a “faithful reconstruction of a 1906 formula”, is a lovely, bright, juicy citrus scent. Hard as I try, I cannot discern anything particularly Russian in this fragrance (now, having vodka as one of the ingredients could help…). The base notes (ambrette seeds, benzoin and iris) are significantly “darker” than the dazzling yellow top and fresh, herbal green middle notes; the base is a little powdery and because of that ambery-powdery quality the drydown has a vaguely Guerlainesque feel to it, thus making Cologne a La Russe smell classically French rather than Russian. This is a lovely scent; I enjoyed its initial citrus explosion (lemon, bergamot, lime), its attractive and elegant middle stage of lavender, rosemary and orange blossom, and the chic and warm, ambery drydown. Of the three colognes, A La Russe had the best (though not spectacular) staying power and generally felt most “substantial”.

I also liked Cologne a La Francaise with its appealing combination of magnolia and citrus. The citrus accord (grapefruit and lemon) was more apparent in the beginning and rather overwhelmed the floral notes, but as the scent progressed, the lovely flowers became evident, making Cologne a La Francaise a charming, airy composition. The scent was very pretty, very wearable but, true to its cologne nature, had almost no lasting power whatsoever.

Cologne a L'Italienne disappeared even faster; ten minutes after the application it was completely gone. The lack of staying power aside, I generally liked this cologne the least. The beginning was as juicy-citrusy as in the other two scents, but while Cologne a La Russe went through a pleasant, subtly herbal stage and had an unexpected, interesting drydown, and Cologne a La Francaise has paired the citruses and flowers in quite a delightful manner, there was nothing particulraly remarkable about Cologne a L'Italienne. After the first citrusy blast it appeared undecided as to what direction it should take, seemed to chose to remain citrusy, smelling faintly of lemons and bitter oranges, and then disappeared quietly and without a trace.

All in all, the Institut Tres Bien colognes were very well done, very pleasant…but I did not find them “different” enough from other colognes on the market to warrant a full bottle (and an expensive bottle at that!) purchase.

Cologne a la Francaise is available at, $90.00 for 100ml. Bliss used to carry the other two fragrances as well, but at the moment it seems to be out of stock.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Perfume Review: Hermes Terre d'Hermes

Experience taught me that it is better not to have high hopes for new perfume releases, no matter how exciting their descriptions. I also know the danger of trying to foresee (foresmell?) the way an upcoming fragrance would actually smell. In reality, many new launches either can’t live up to one’s high expectations or are completely different from what one envisaged them to be. Terre d’Hermes turned out to be an exception to this Rule of Low Expectations in that it was as good as I hoped it would be and smelled more or less exactly as I imagined it would smell. I must add that, although marketed by Hermes as a masculine scent, Terre d’Hermes is most decidedly and delightfully unisex.

Described as a “vegetable and mineral” fragrance, “made without animal by-products or musk”, Terre d’Hermes has a simple, uncluttered composition. On my skin all notes are apparent at once and stay that way from start to finish, and yet this lack of development does not make the scent seem uninteresting. I must also add that when I say “all notes”, I really mean the four that are most evident on my skin: grapefruit, vetiver, pepper and what I call an “earth” accord. The latter is a raw, rooty combination of cedar, benzoin and patchouli, but the blend is so smooth, it is hard to tell where the cedar ends and the patchouli begins; I perceive this combination as a single note evoking moist, clean, black soil and grey rounded stones that are cool to the touch. I have never been a big fan of grapefruit, especially in combination with pepper, but here it somehow works absolutely wonderfully. Grapefruit, vetiver and pepper balance and compliment each other, they are sparkly, spicy, they have a kick, they have a bite and yet they are also remarkably calm and serene. Chandler Burr assessed Terre d’Hermes perfectly when he called it “quietly remarkable”. The fragrance is simple and elegant, light yet somehow satisfyingly “substantial” all at the same time. Terre d’Hermes is the proof that, when done right, with subtlety and style, in other words, when done by Jean-Claude Ellena, less definitely becomes more.

Says Pablo Neruda:

“When I lived among the roots,
They pleased me more than flowers did,
And when I spoke to a stone,
It rang like a bell.”

Terre d’Hermes is available at, $90.00 for 3.3oz.

*The first image is from, the second from
An afterthought and further proof of the wonderfullness of Terre d'Hermes: seldom do we all agree so much on a perfume; for other very positive reviews of this scent, please read Bois de Jasmin, Now Smell This, Peppermint Patty and Scentzilla.

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Perfume Review. The Tale of Two Cistes: Le Labo Ciste 18

A couple of days ago, on Now Smell This, I read about an exciting new perfume line, Le Labo. The novelty of the line consists in the fact that, when you purchase the scents, the fragrances are mixed right there and then (maturated essential oil is mixed with alcohol and water). What was more thrilling for me (after all, hard as I try, I cannot truly comprehend the point of such a system) was the names of perfumers who created Le Labo’s maturated oils: Alberto Morillas, Annick Menardo, Daphne Bugey, Frank Voelkl, Françoise Caron, Michel Almairac, Mark Buxton, and Maurice Roucel. One of Roucel’s Le Labo creations was Ciste 18, “a strong concentration of oriental notes, with animal intonations of civet and castoreum". (Now Smell This) Animalic and done by Roucel? I had to have Ciste 18 straightaway.

When my little bottle arrived, stylishly clad in its “primitive” brown cardboard box, with a lab-like personalized label, I sniffed the sprayer... Musc Ravageur! I sprayed…Musc Ravageur! The following are my notes from that first sampling: “Sweet, rich, spicy musk, golden goodness very reminiscent of Musc Ravageur, only less “animalic” (i.e. I smell less musk here) and a little less spicy. Next, soft patchouli note creeps in, and it is a lovely accord, not dry and pungent, but actually sweet, with an almost chocolaty undertone. After that, Ciste 18 becomes a delicate, slightly powdery vanilla and musk blend, this time reminiscent of Guerlain’s Cuir Beluga. The name “Ciste” means cistus (rock rose, the source of labdanum) in French, and I know that cistus/labdanum is a tricky note, a chameleon, and can smell of a variety of things, most often, on my skin at least, of amber and incense on a vaguely floral background, however I do not detect any labdanum here. “

I told everyone who cared to listen that Ciste 18 smelled like Musc Ravageur…That night, after a shower, I applied Ciste 18 again… It was a completely different scent. It started with an unsweetened citrus note mixed with a green, herbal accord (rosemary, angelica?), it was a rich, buttery green fragrance, like an Angelique part of Angelique Encens. The greenness subsided and the scent went through a soft, slightly powdery, vanillic stage and then musk came into play. Unlike the golden spicy musk of Application No. 1 above, this note was dry, almost leathery (due to castoreum?) and this time the scent did have a light ambery undertone. Neither of the “versions” was as animalic as the description led me to believe. The "second" Ciste 18 was less robust, had a little less kick to it, but it was a more refined, smoother composition. I must add that I have worn this enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a “primitive” brown cardboard box several times since and, although it was somewhat closer to the scent I experienced on the second application, it has never been completely the same. I could probably devote an entire new blog to recording the permutations of Ciste 18 on my skin…but I won’t.

From the golden, spicy muskiness of Application No. 1 to the understated, quiet, slightly animalic elegance of Application No. 2…will the real Ciste 18 please stand up?

To find out what Ciste 18 is going to be like on your skin, please visit or call Le Labo:
233 Elizabeth Street
New York, NY 10012
Tel.: 212-219-2230
11am-7pm, Appointment only on Monday

Ciste 18 retails for $45.00-$180.00, depending on the size. And on the question whether Ciste 18 is full bottle worthy for me…I will most probably buy more when my small bottle runs out (which will be soon since I keep applying and reapplying trying to figure out this elusive scent). I cannot resist a good mystery.

My Afrika, the new scent by Krizia

According to Cosmeticnews, Krizia is launching a new fragrance, called My Afrika. The scent is desrpribed as spicy hesperide. The orange bottle and the case are decorated "with concentric circles in the style of a primitive drawing, and are intended to evoke Africa, in particular the Masai people of Kenya and Tanzania". The advertising campaign features the slogan Nata Libera (Born Free). The eau de Toilette is priced from €17.10 for the 30ml to €35.25 for the 75ml.
I think the bottle is adorable (love the color) and "spicy hesperide" is a good thing indeed. Not to mention how affordable this is. I am hoping that the company is planning the US launch too and soon.
*The image is from

Friday, March 24, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfums d'Orsay Le Dandy

The story of Parfums d’Orsay began when Count Alfred d'Orsay, a dandy, writer, painter, and sculptor, was exiled to London for supporting Louis XVIII. There he created a perfume called Eau de Bouquet (now known as Etiquette Bleue) for his lover Lady Blessington. The formula was re-discovered in 1865, and Parfums D'Orsay was established. Le Dandy was first released in 1922 (according to other sources, in 1923) and then re-created in 1998 by perfumer Dominic Preysass (author of Balenciaga Talisman and Shiseido Basala).

If Le Dandy the fragrance were a man, and I was fortunate (?) to meet him, I would have fallen head over heals in love with him, no doubt about it. The perfume paints a “portrait of manhood and its ease of manner, rich as cigar smoke after Sunday dinner” (Louise Townsend Nicholl). Having said that, Le Dandy is entirely and enjoyably wearable for a woman. Its boozy darkness, its husky smokiness, its spicy sweetness make Le Dandy a rich, robust scent, but the notes are blended very smoothly, all the luxurious ingredients are tastefully understated, never over the top. The scent caresses the senses like the lushest of velvets. Though it has a note of whisky, Le Dandy actually makes me think of the sweeter aroma and the dark golden color of very fine, very expensive cognac. I adore the ginger note here; it adds exquisite spiciness and a piquant “bite” to the composition. The drydown is supremely elegant, the woody notes dry and almost leathery. All in all, Le Dandy is one of the most refined, sumptuous and enjoyable scents I have tried in a long time.

Le Dandy is available at Beauty Café, $85.00 for 100ml.

*The 2nd image is from

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Anglomania by Vivienne Westwood

Anglomania, launched in 2004, was named after Westwood’s eponymous collection. Her first Anglomania fashion collection was released in Autumn-Winter 1993-1994 and was an embodiment of the desingner's fondness and talent for parodying “the British in the context of a classical perspective”. ( Anglomania is still one of the lines produced by Westwood and can be viewed on her website. Based on the connection with this irreverent, creative, complex collection, I expected a lot from Anglomania the fragrance… I believe the scent has been discontinued (it does not appear on Westwood’s site), and, unfortunately, in this case the discontinuation has been justified.

Described as “the bewitching empire of the senses for a modern nomad, mixing British eccentricity and Asian intensity to express extrovert femininity”, Anglomania has a very appealing list of notes: green tea, cardamom, coriander, rose, violet, nutmeg, leather, vanilla and amber. Rose blended with spices, freshened by green tea and darkened and enriched by a leather accord, does it not sound extremely alluring? Well, the reality of this scent on my skin is not so spectacular. This is a very sweet, very strong rose fragrance with the rose note overpowering all other ingredients. The only two accords that dared to (unsuccessfully) compete with rose were violet (throughout the scent) and amber (in the drydown). No green tea, cardamom, coriander, nutmeg or leather were apparent on my skin; the rose dominated the composition, and that might not have been such a bad thing were it not for the fact that the rose note was not particularly attractive. It was overly sweet, almost licorice-sweet, and overly loud, the harsh, one-dimensional accord. The impression the scent left on me was that of a linear and heady fragrance; uninteresting, unenjoyable and essentially, for me, unwearable.

Anglomania is available on or and retails for £35.00-65.00.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Perfume Review. The Abinoam Collection of Fragrances: Beleza, Cobice, Corazón and Desejo

Originally I planned to write a review of each of the four Abinoam scents. After trying and re-trying them however, I realized that I don’t have all that much to say about them. All four are truly lovely, very pleasant, eminently wearable fragrances, but…if I were to be asked Ernest Hemingway’s question, “but did thee feel the earth move”, the answer would have been, no, I did not. I don’t really know why I am rather underwhelmed by this quartet. These are (perhaps deceptively) simple scents, but there is comfort and enjoyment in simplicity. All but one stay close to the skin and don’t have much sillage, but that is the quality I actually like in perfumes. I am not sure why at least one of these perfumes did not rock my world. Charming as they are, there was something lacking in them for me. The official description tells us that "each fragrance was carefully orchestrated so that as the notes dried down, the fragrance became darker and more sensual." That turned out not to be the case, on my skin; there wasn’t much darkness, or depth or all that much sensuality in the Abinoams. I don’t want this review to sound negative, I do like these perfumes; it is simply that I am less enthralled with them then I hoped to be.

Judging by the notes alone, I expected to like Cobice (notes of Indonesian patchouli, leather, green apple and bamboo flowers) and Desejo (notes of pomegranate, cassis, peach, violet, ylang ylang, Ghanan cacao, Bulgarian blond tobacco, vanilla and amber) the least. Funnily, I liked them the most. Those who, like me, might be scared by the patchouli in the description of Cobice, fear not. The accord is very soft. This is delicate, well-behaved patchouli, almost sweet, vaguely milk-chocolate-like, to my nose. The apple note is well-mannered too, and adds a lovely tart quality to the composition. However hard I try, I am unable to smell the leather here, and the amber is very subdued as well. All in all, this is a pretty, soft scent that is quite delectable without being overtly fruity or gourmand.

Desejo is a little fruitier than Cobice; it is very smoothly blended and the abundance of fruits and flowers does not translate into an overwhelmingly sweet and/or heady composition. Neither does it strike me as “a carnal interpretation of pomegranate”; there was nothing especially sensual in this lovely, spring-like composition a little reminiscent of Aqaba Spring. I am not the biggest fan of fruity-florals, but I found Desejo to be quite enjoyable. The fruits here are juicy and fresh, with an attractive hint of green leaves; the flowers are, again, well-behaved and subdued. The drydown of Bulgarian blond tobacco, vanilla and amber sounds much richer and heavier that it really is; on my skin, Desejo dried down to a delicately sweet, velvety mix of vanilla and amber, enlivened by the lingering presence of cassis.

Beleza, with its notes of sandalwood, orchid, vanilla and musk, was the scent I expected to like the most. And I do not dislike it at all, however sandalwood is disappointingly faint here; on my skin, the scent is all about musk and vanilla. It reminded me of several other fragrances, among them Bogner Wood Woman, Talco Delicato and especially Plaisir, only it was less woody than Bogner, less powdery than Talco and less gourmand than Plaisir. Beleza was the least long-lasting of the four Abinoams and in general totally lacked any sort of “oomph”, to my nose.

I also had very high hopes for Corazón (notes of Kenyan pink pepper, Moroccan jasmine, floral and woody accords, green tea and amber), mainly because of March’s lovely review, which made me think that this scent would become my Holy Grail Jasmine Tea Fragrance. Unfortunately, there was no tea there at all but plenty of very heady jasmine. This fragrance was the loudest (especially compared to the other three whispery scents), the most long–lasting and the least interesting. It fell on my skin like a think white cloud of jasmine and stayed there that way, white and heavy, till the very end. To be fair, white florals rarely like me and I rarely like them, and it may very well turn out that, as Abraham Lincoln said, "for those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like".

The four Abinoam fragrances can be found at and cost $105.00 for 50ml. I would not mind owning the full bottles of the two scents that I liked, but, unless I receive them as presents, I do not see them in my future.

*The image is from

Monday, March 20, 2006

Perfume Review: Creed Cuir de Russie

Cuir de Russie was created by Creed in 1938 for “swashbuckling hero” Errol Flynn. I am not sure whether the perfume used to be bolder and more intense and was eventually slightly reformulated, as have so many scents; I do not notice much outward swagger and romantic macho masculinity in this rather understated, “gray” leather fragrance.

Like many leather scents, Cuir de Russie starts with a citrus accord; it is an elegant and dry blend of bergamot, lemon and neroli. Practically immediately the leather note becomes evident too, and it is a tricky note to figure out. It seems rather subdued, not too smoky, not too forceful, but underneath that aloof, cold, silvery-gray noble surface lurks something a little dirty, a little animalic, a savage dressed up in exquisite clothes. The leather note is accompanied by a strange “salty” accord; it is so salty that I have to fight an urge to lick my wrist, where I applied Cuir de Russie. I do not know what causes that saltiness, but, whatever it is, it makes me think that this fragrance might have been an inspiration behind Christophe Laudamiel’s very salty leather scent, S-ex.

Creed’s Cuir de Russie is not necessarily one of my favorite leather scents, but I find it intriguing. The odd leather note, that beast in aristocrat’s clothing, is what keeps me re-visiting this fragrance.

Cuir de Russie is available at Parfumsraffy, $250.00 for 8.4oz.

Sel de Vetiver, New Scent by The Different Company

I am not sure if this might be considered the old news, but, according to Cosmeticnews, The Different Company is about to launch the new scent in April. Their sixth scent is called Sel de Vetiver; it is a "wet/dry mix of olfactive elements, recalling the harmony of earth and rain. " The scent was inspired by Celine Ellena's memory of vetiver roots macerating in a glass of water. The scent features notes of cardamom, geranium, ylang ylang, and vetiver. The fragrance will be priced EUR55 for 50ml and EUR95 for 100ml.
As an aside, according to Luc Gabriel, the managing director of TDC, the company is expecting to double its sales this year thanks to the accelerated launch shedule (Sel de Vetiver is being released only a year after Jasmine de Nuit) and to the growth of the brand's presence worldwide. By the end of the year The Different Company is planning to have 300-500 points of sale worldwide. (
*The image is from

Friday, March 17, 2006

S-ex by S-Perfume

S-ex was created for S-Perfume by Christophe Laudamiel, the author of Estee Lauder Youth Dew Amber Nude, Ralph Lauren Polo Blue and Clinique Happy Heart. When I first smelled S-ex, I could not quite understand why this particular fragrance was chosen to bear this particular name. If a fragrance like Muscs Koublai Khan was called S-ex, the connection would have been immediately obvious. That would have been the scent of urgent, hungry, animal-like fornication. If a perfume like Musc Ravageur was named S-ex, it would have been easily understandable too. That would have been the scent of beautiful passion, of candle-lit love-making on silk sheets. But when presented with a perfume like S-Perfume’s S-ex, one has to stop and ponder. Which is true for most if not all S-Perfume scents; they are conceptual fragrances, to understand them one has to read between the lines, or rather between the notes.

The first note on the scene is the easiest to figure out. Leather. Dry, austere leather of repressed desires and/or kinky fantasies. Combine that with a little bit of musk and you have a s-exy scent indeed. But that is not where the story ends. S-ex has a twist. Just when one thinks one has got it all figured out, an unexpected marine accord comes into play, an incredibly salty note that seems to be so out of place in this understatedly sensual blend…It eclipses the leather and the musk, it grows more and more salty, leaving me feeling almost physically parched. I feel like a survivor of a shipwreck, lying on the sand of an unknown land, soaked in salty ocean water…And suddenly it all becomes very clear to me. S-ex is not a scent evocative of the act itself. It is an olfactory equivalent of the aftermath. It tells the story of never being quite fulfilled and fully sated. Seconds after having experienced a seemingly perfect satisfaction of one’s desire, one is already dis-satisfied, empty and longing for more.

Says Marichiko a.k.a. Kenneth Rexroth:

Making love with you
Is like drinking sea water.
The more I drink
The thirstier I become,
Until nothing can slake my thirst
But to drink the entire sea.

This striking, unusual and surprisingly wearable fragrance is available at S-Perfume, $67.00 for 2oz.

*The image is from

Discussion of Muscs Koublai Khan, overheard at Chez Colombina

While planning today's article, I asked my husband to help me find a couple of synonyms of a certain word. That led to something quite unusual in our household, a conversation about perfume.

Me: I need a word that would convey the same animal, primitive meaning as the F-word but be acceptable in a polite society.

Husband: What’s that for??

Me: Oh, an article I am writing…

H.: About perfume??

Me: Yes.

He comes up with a couple of suggestions, then:

H.: So why do you need those words if you are talking about a perfume?

Me: Well, this perfume smells like sex.

H.: What, like a musky smell?

Me: Wow. Well, yes, it is a musk-based scent.

He is silent for a while, then:

H.: So do you have this perfume?

Me: Yes…

H.: Can I smell it?

Such requests are very rare so I run to find my decant of Muscs Koublai Khan. Apply some to his wrist, some to mine.

H. (sniffs): Is this alcohol-based?

Me: Yeah.

H.: I can’t get past that…

Me: Well, wait a little bit, it will subside, then you’ll see what I mean. Oh, mine is getting there already…

H.: (sniffs again): Yep. Yes, I see it…Smells like Hugh Hefner’s mansion the morning after the Saturday night party. Or like Caligula’s sofa.

We both digest those descriptions in silence, then:

H.: So if you could have a scent made especially for you, what would it be like?

Me: A woody scent. It would have cedar and sandalwood. Maybe some roses. A little of musk. Spices. Definitely cardamom.

H. (dreamily): I want a perfume that smells of bacon and coffee…

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Perfume Review: Damien Bash Parfum Lucifer No. 1

In my misguided youth I used to be a big fan of the horror genre, including David Seltzer’s The Omen and even a couple of follow-up books and the first couple of movies based on them (after that the books and the films most definitely jumped the shark…but I digress). Ten years later, the fragrance line with scents bearing the name of Lucifer, created by a person named Damien (Damien Bash, a New York painter and photographer) still manages to intrigue me. Old geeky ways die hard.

The top notes of Lucifer No. 1 are strong and heady; it is an appropriately dark, nocturnal floral blend with neroli and rose being most prominent to my nose. The intensity of the notes subsides somewhat when vanilla joins the composition, but almost immediately, with the advent of carnation, the scent becomes stronger and spicier. The best part of the fragrance to me is the ambery drydown. By then, the headiness wears off a little (only a little, mind you, this is still a strong perfume) and Lucifer No. 1 becomes warm and strangely comforting, its spicy darkness enveloping the skin like black velvet. This is not a strikingly unusual and original composition, in fact, Lucifer No. 1 reminds me of a much heavier Or des Indes by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier or –more so- of a less “dirty” and less floral Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez. Taking into account the fact that the latter sometimes can be found for almost ten times less than Lucifer No.1, there is really no way I can justify a full bottle purchase of Bash’s creation. If however by some black magic a bottle of Lucifer No. 1 found its way to my perfume cabinet, I would have worn this scent with much enjoyment, especially in cold weather, when I crave such rich, warm, darkly comforting scents.

Parfum Lucifer No. 1 is available at Aedes, $95.00 for 3.4oz.

*The photo is from

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Lux

Lux is one of the three scents in Mona di Orio’s debut fragrance collection. The name is the Latin word for light, and this is indeed a luminous, sun-drenched scent, summer in a bottle. Having said that, beautiful and pleasant as it is, Lux is not exactly unique. In fact I have a feeling I have smelled this juicy, sweet citrus many times in the past. Were it not for the unexpected drydown, I would have dismissed this fragrance as entirely unremarkable.

Lux is quite a sweet scent. It is not exactly in the lemon-flavored-candy category, but leans perilously close in that direction. It starts with a bright and sweet citrus accord that, to me, smells mostly of lemons and lemongrass. The top notes also contain Litsea Cubeba, the note I am unfamiliar with, but the quick web search reveals that the scent of the oil distilled from this tropical plant is in fact comparable to lemongrass and lemon verbena. As Lux develops on my skin, subtle vetiver and a hint of cedarwood become pronounced, adding a little bit of earthiness and dryness to the blend; however, they are not powerful enough to tone down the intense and sweet citrus accord. And, finally, just as I am ready to pronounce Lux quite ordinary if well blended, the cistus note comes into play and adds depth, another dimension, an unforeseen twist to the composition. Cistus, also known as Cistus Ladanifer or rock rose, is a source of labdanum, which is a complex, multifaceted note that I adore. If I had to describe it up in a couple of words I would call it “subtly churchy and faintly floral”. This note compliments and enhances the citrus wonderfully in Lux. Add to that amber and some musk, and, in the drydown of Lux, we have a very different scent, sophisticated, much less sweet, with the darker notes starkly opposing and yet balancing and complimenting the dazzling citrus.

To sum up my impressions of the Mona di Orio collection, of the three scents, only the spicy, striking, dark Nuit Noire was full bottle worthy for me. I found it to be consistently interesting from the top notes to the drydown. Carnation had a wonderful, arresting beginning but soon lost much of its intensity and allure. In reverse to that, Lux started unremarkably and developed into a beautiful, deep blend. Still, at this kind of price, to justify a purchase, I have to be really impressed by all the stages of the scent.

Lux can now be found at Aedes, $120.00 for 1.7oz, $200.00 for 3.4oz.

*The image of the bottle is from

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Perfume Review: Annick Goutal Duel

Duel is one of Annick Goutal’s “masculine” scents, “designed for the 21st century romantic man”. As with Les Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Homme, I am surprised at the softness, smoothness, understated sweetness of this fragrance; as Rose d’Homme, Duel does not strike me as particularly masculine. I have no doubt whatsoever that Duel would smell marvelous on a man, but its dark, husky sweetness would be just as suitable and enjoyable for a woman.

Perhaps of the association with Rose d’Homme, described above, I smell a soft, sweet rose accord in Duel, yet there is no rose among the official notes. There is however iris (root) and it is the most velvety, gentle note imaginable. Leather is just as soft, no smokiness or harshness in this note here, it is only a whisper of leather, but it brings dark sophistication to the blend. Maté leaves add a certain hoarse green earthiness to the composition and tone down the absinth note, which is never too apparent here and only serves as a delicately sweet background. Duel is a masterful, extremely smooth blend, an olfactory tender caress.

I am a huge fan of Alexandre Dumas and inevitably the name “Duel” made me think of his books and especially the beloved The Three Musketeers. I am also especially fond of a Soviet adaptation of the book, called D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers (Д'Артаньян и Tри Mушкетера). When I was a little girl, I had a huge crush on Aramis, played by Igor Starygin (Игорь Старыгин). Duel would be a perfect scent for this handsome, romantic hero.

*The image of Igor Starygin as Aramis is from

Sea & Sun in Cadaquès, New Summer Scent by Salvador Dali

According to, French fragrance manufacturer Cofinluxe will launch the first summer edition fragrance for the Salvador Dali brand. Sea & Sun in Cadaquès is meant to evoke the Spanish village where the artist met his wife Gala. The sculptured rectangular bottle is inspired by the artist’s painting, Aphrodite of Knidos. The floral amber scent was composed by Michel Almairac of Robertet. The Eau de Toilette will be released in April and will cost €37 for 50ml. I have never been overly impressed by Dali scents, but I love the bottles and the packaging. To see other Dali fragrances, please go to .

*The image is from The painting is Aphrodite of Knidos by Salvador Dali.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Perfume Review: Guerlain Cuir Beluga

Cuir Beluga is a part of L'Art et la Matiere collection of scents created for Guerlain by perfumers Olivier Polge, Francis Kurkdjian, and Daniele Andrièr. Each perfumer was more or less given a carte blanche and asked to come up with a scent based on a “noble” ingredient. Kurkdjian has chosen rose, Andrièr angelica and Polge leather. Not any old calf leather, mind you, but Beluga leather. …Seriously though, the name "Cuir Beluga" baffles me. Beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) is a small toothed whale; surely, this scent was not inspired by a sea mammal…or was it? “Beluga“ also more or less means “the white one” in Russian (Beluga Whales are also called White Whales), so perhaps the creators simply meant white leather? Then why not just call it Cuir Blanc? Perhaps the Beluga part of the name is referring to beluga caviar, arguably the best kind of caviar, thus emphasizing the exclusive and expensive aspect of the scent, the Beluga of all Leathers … There are all sorts of unusual perfume names out there, from Latin phrases to long book titles, and they certainly are fascinating and fun, but sometimes one gets a little frustrated when facing a meaningless, bizarre name like “White Whale Leather”.

I tried to understand the scent just as hard as I tried to understand its name. After many attempts, I must regretfully admit that I just don’t get it. On me, Cuir Beluga is a blurry, hazy composition heavy on heliotrope and vanilla. The only interesting feature here is an immortelle note, an accord, which, to quote Luca Turin, has “an odd, fenugreek-like smell halfway between curry and burnt sugar.” In Cuir Beluga, in contrast to the understated sweetness of other notes, immortelle actually smells sharp and dry, bringing to mind patchouli and well-brewed black tea. Unfortunately, immortelle alone is unable to withstand the gentle but relentless pressure of heliotrope and vanilla. The two overtake the composition somewhere in the beginning of the middle stage and no amount of amber or aldehydes can penetrate their foggy sweetness. Why don’t I mention the leather accord, you might ask. Well, that is because I smell no leather in Cuir Beluga. Not a tiny little bit of leather, however hard I try. Fans of leather scents, attracted by the name of this perfume, are bound to be disappointed. I would however highly recommend to all lovers of Etro Heliotrope to give a try to Cuir Beluga. Cuir Beluga smells a little rawer and a little less sweet than Heliotrope, but those who like the soft fluffiness of the latter are still bound to be pleased with the former.

Cuir Beluga is available at Guerlain’s boutique at Bergdorf Goodman, $190 for 75ml.

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Friday, March 10, 2006

Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Carnation

Carnation is a part of Mona di Orio’s first fragrance collection, which also includes Lux and Nuit Noire, a perfume whose full-bodied, spicy accords stole my heart at the very first sniff. Carnation was inspired by Colette and is rather cryptically described as “the Carnation that blooms not in a flower bed but on a maiden's cheek.” Are the creators warning us that, despite the name, the perfume will not smell of carnations (and it really will not)? Is it meant to smells like an expensive rouge or is it supposed to evoke a young girl’s natural healthy blush? Who knows… To me, this powdery, slightly spicy, floral blend is indeed reminiscent of a scent of blush powders.

The best part of Carnation are its top notes. In Nuit Noire, Mona di Orio managed to make orange blossom smell indolic; in the beginning of Carnation she does the same darkly magical thing to geranium, jasmine and ylang ylang, making them smell positively and delightfully dirty. The presence of musk helps a lot, of course, adding a warm, suave, animalic quality to the composition. Unfortunately, the heady and dark animalic accord wears off rather quickly. Citrus becomes more apparent on my skin as the scent progresses, and so does amber. The scent grows more and more powdery, and starts to smell unexpectedly Guerlainesque. In fact, because of the presence of citrus, the later middle stage of Carnation and its drydown remind me of Guerlain’s Philtre d’Amour (original, pre-reformulation, circa 1999). At no point does the perfume actually smell of carnations, just as the official description predicted. I find it quite disappointing that the bright, heady, animalic top accord disappears so fast and so completely; after its unfortunate departure, the scent remains well-blended and attractive, but its soul and originality seem to be gone.

Carnation is available at Les Senteurs, £115.00 (a little over $200.00) for 100ml.

*The image is from Les Senteurs.

L'Artisan Fou d'Absinthe and the new bottle look

Fou d'Absinthe, which is going to be marketed by L'Artisan as their "major masculine fragrance" is centered around absinthe and also has notes of angelica, blackberry bud, star anise, spices, patchouli and pine needles. It will retail at €95 for a 100ml EdP and €70 for 50ml. Fou d'Absinthe will also be the first to come in the new packaging. The brand's signature octagonal bottle will become seven-faceted and more angular, and will be topped with a clear glass stopper for the Eau de Toilette offer and a golden one for Eau de Parfum. The packaging was re-designed by Federico Restrepo, the creator of the original L'Artisan packaging. (Image and information are from

Lys, New Scent in Parfums 06130 Collection

I am a big fan of Parfums 06130 (Zéro Six Cent-Trente), whose Cedre I like and Yuzu Rouge absolutely adore, that is why I am excited about the release of their new scent, Lys. Named after water lily, the scent has top notes of cedrat, bergamot, mandarin, coriander, grapefruit and blackcurrant; the heart notes of water lily, cardamom, verbena, thyme, nutmeg and rose; the base notes of musk, vetiver, sandalwood, moss and (“a very discreet touch of”) patchouli. I cannot wait to try this seemingly spicy (cardamom, coriander, nutmeg!) lily scent. If you have already sampled Lys, please comment!

Lys is already available at Aedes, $90.00 for 3,4oz.

*The image is from

On the next Guerlain spokesperson...

As has been reported before, the house of Guerlain has signed up Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank to be the spokesperson for its new fragrance, scheduled for launch in September. According to The Moodie Report, "the company is aiming to expand its international presence by associating its name with a muse. Swank is described as “a personality and character embodying the Guerlain spirit”. She will represent Guerlain for the next three years. "

With all respect to Hilary Swank (who is stunning, no doubt about it) , somehow I just cannot accept her as a Guerlain muse. For the lack of better words, I would describe her as "contemporary", "minimalist", and even a little "sporty". She would make a great spokesperson for Donna Karan. As far as Guerlain is concerned, I would love to see Cate Blanchett promoting their scents. She has the sort of exquisiteness and timeless elegance that I came to associate with many Guerlain's creations. Then again, perhaps Guerlain is not very iterested in "timelessness" at the moment and is more concerned with a wider appeal and more modern image.

*The images are from, and

Thursday, March 09, 2006

New Sample Program at La Creme Beauty

La Creme Beauty now has a sample program. You can choose 8 fragrance samples for $15, including shipping. (Only available to USA)

Perfume Review: Armani Privé Pierre de Lune

Armani Privé collection of fragrances started as a private collection of scents to be worn by Armani and his close friends. The line right now consists of five scents, Ambre Soie, Bois d'Encens, Eau de Jade, Pierre de Lune and, as yet unreleased in the US, Cuir Amethyste. Pierre de Lune (Moonstone) is the floral scent in the collection; it strikes me as feminine much more than unisex. Armani describes the fragrance as “sensual” and “penetrating”, “an intense fragrance that awakens the senses”…as it is very often the case, the reality is much different from the marketing fairytales. Pierre de Lune is the softest, most neutral scent imaginable. So delicate is this blend, it makes Malle’s pale L’Eau d’Hiver seem loud and intense in comparison.

Pierre de Lune is the scent that never raises its voice, every note here is a whisper, from the dainty green violet in the beginning to the ghostly iris in the middle, to the “belambre” (an exclusive synthetic accord that smells faintly of woods and even more faintly of amber). As for cassie, the star note in Pierre de Lune, it is present throughout the scent’s development; however, do not expect the voluptuous, luscious cassie from Malle’s Une Fleur de Cassie. In Pierre de Lune, the note is but a shadow of that heady, daring beauty. This is a perfume that most certainly lives up to its name, evoking the soft, cold opalescence of the moonstone. Pierre de Lune is the scent of Eurydice, forever roaming the pale foggy banks of the river Lethe, with no hope of ever being reunited with her Orpheus.

Pierre de Lune is an interesting perfume, beautiful in an ethereal kind of way. It is perhaps my favorite scent in the Privé collection. Unfortunately, not only does it stay close to the skin and is at times so delicate as to be practically odorless, it also has dismal staying power. That and the hysterical price tag of $185.00 for 50ml will most probably stop me from buying a bottle.

Pierre de Lune is available at Saks and at, $185.00 for 1,7oz.

*The photo of the bottle is from The painting is Orpheus and Eurydice by Edmund Dulac.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Perfume Review: Thierry Mugler Angel Rose

Angel Rose is the fourth installment in Thierry Mugler’s collection Angel Garden of Stars. According to Thierry Mugler Parfums president Vera Strubi, La Rose Angel “should be the last one in the Garden. We need to keep its precious aspect.” (Cosmeticnews). The creator of The Rose (and original Angel), Olivier Cresp, also feels that the “saga” of Jardin d’Etoiles came to the end, “with the best one for the end to finish the story.” (WWD) I must say that I am relieved to hear that Thierry Mugler might finally move on to pursue other olfactory projects instead of recycling the already existing and already hugely popular scent (I only hope that he does not plan to start producing sequels to his Alien perfume). With what seems to be like a gazillion of different bottle version of Angel, with Angel Innocent and the four Garden Angels, the topic surely is well covered and exhausted.

As for La Rose Angel itself, as Olivier Cresp promised, it is indeed the best of the series. Though the scent is easily recognizable as belonging to the Angel family, the rose brings to it a certain sweet-and-tart quality that I find refreshing and quite appealing. The honeyed fruitiness of the fragrance makes me think of sugared plums and tangerines; the scent is perhaps the sweetest of the Garden quartet, but the sweetness in The Rose is somewhat balanced by that unexpectedly tart rose accord and a hint of pink pepper. Still, people who find Angel in its various incarnations to be too sweet, will most probably have the same problem with La Rose. Those uneasy with patchouli are bound not to like the drydown of Angel Rose, which is quite heavy on the note. Unfortunately, the rose accord disappears before the drydown and in the end we are left with nothing but Angel the original. All that makes me think that non-fans of Angel will not find Angel Rose to be drastically different or more wearable. The lovers of Angel, on the other hand, should be delighted with this new, beautiful, candied-rose version.

Angel Rose will launch worldwide in April and will cost €54 for the 25ml of Eau de Parfum and €64 for the 50ml refill. Right now it is already possible to find some bottles on eBay.

*The photo of Angel Rose is from

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Perfume Review: Hugo Boss Pure Purple

Pure Purple, the latest scent from Hugo Boss, launched in January 2006, was inspired by calissons, “a traditional confection from Aix-en-Provence, made from powdered almonds, sweet melon and candied orange.” (Osmoz) The description boasts all sorts of appealing notes like “black” violet, suede and marzipan. I have never been a fan of Boss’s scents and these three notes were the only reason I made an effort to locate a sample of Pure Purple. I should have known better.

Pure Purple starts with a slightly sweet fruity-floral accord; I can only assume that the flower is cyclamen and the fruit is nectarine, because neither note is very distinct. And this really is all there is to this scent; no “black” (and only a hint of regular) violet, no almonds, and certainly no suede, just your average, no, strike that, less remarkable than average, fresh (in the earlier stage of the drydown, almost aquatic-fresh) fruity-floral fragrance, absolutely indistinguishable from the legion of other such scents already available on the market. Please do not be tempted by the promise of a delicious olfactory dessert and/or suede. You are bound to be disappointed, there is nothing gourmand about this scent and the suede note is absolutely non-existent.

Pure Purple is already available at Scentiments, $35.89 for 1.6oz.

Tomorrow- Angel Rose by Thierry Mugler.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfums de Nicolai Cococabana

Cococabana is the latest scent to be released by Parfums de Nicolai; it is a tropical perfume with notes of coconut, bitter oranges, ylang ylang, tuberose, cedar and palm. Its release is certainly timely in a sense that rarely does one crave an olfactory retreat to a land of eternal summer as much as in the midst of winter gloom. And yet, unluckily for Cococabana, it reached our shores more or less at the same time as Annick Goutal’s Songes. Though not exactly alike (for one, Cococabana is a sweeter, fruitier centered around a coconut accord), both paint a fragrant picture of a romantic, exotic place redolent with the smell of sultry tropical flowers, and, in my opinion, Goutal’s portrayal is more sumptuous and yet more subtle, and has more of that certain indefinable something that I can only describe as “charm”. Having said that, I do not want this to be considered a negative review. I like Cococabana. If I haven’t already fallen in love with Songes, I probably would have been much more enthusiastic about it.

The bright citrus note in the beginning of the scent is very pleasing; when the coconut note appears, the non-sweet citrus accord balances it perfectly. Cococabana becomes increasingly sweater as tuberose joins the blend; with the arrival of tuberose, the fragrance also acquires a wonderful creamy quality. It becomes sultry and languid and oh so feminine. The fragrance reaches its apogee of tropical intensity when ylang ylang comes into a play. Personally, I would have been happier without ylang ylang in the blend, but it does add an exotic touch, and, fortunately for me, does not stay too long. The drydown of Cococabana is warm and sweet and somehow very “de Nicolai”. Vanilla and Tonka bean here are whipped into the same golden creaminess as in her Sacreblue or Vanille Tonka.

Cococabana might not be as irresistibly appealing to me as Songes, but I do think it is a beautiful scent that certainly puts me in a summery mood, making me want to sing at the top of my voice:

At the Copa, Copacabana
The hottest spot north of Havana
At the Copa, Copacabana
Music and passion were always the fashion
At the Copa....they fell in looooooooove.

Cococabana is available at Beautyhabit, $70.00 for 50ml of Eau de Toilette.

Tomorrow - Pure Purple by Hugo Boss.

Upcoming fragrance launches from L'Artisan and Diptyque

L'Artisan Parfumeur will launch a major new men's fragrance worldwide this May. The line currently markets only three "true “masculine”" scents, L'Eau du Navigateur, Méchant Loup and Voleur de Roses and according to the president and CEO Rémi Cléro, is "lacking a major masculine fragrance". The new scent, Fou d'Absinthe, will be centered aroun Absinthe and willl also have notes of angelica, blackberry bud, star anise, spices, patchouli and pine needles. It will cost €95 for a 100ml EdP and €70 for 50ml. This will be the first fragrance to come in the new packaging; the signature octagonal bottle will become seven-faceted and more angular, and will be topped with a clear glass stopper for EdTs and a golden one for EdPs. The color codes will also change, although the packaging will remains black with a stamped logo and a colored strip.
Also in May, Diptyque will launch Eau de Lierre, a unisex scent based on the ivy note. The fragrance, wich have has been created by Diptyque founder Yves Coueslant, will have "a heart of ivy and spice, with other woody and musk notes intended to evoke the woodlands surrounding the French capital."
Both artciles are from

Friday, March 03, 2006

Perfume Review: Satellite Padparadscha

Padparadscha, the first fragrance launched by Satellite, a French jewellery line created by Sandrine Dulon, was named after the rare pink-orange sapphire, a symbol of purity. It is a spicy-woody composition with notes of cedar, sandalwood, juniper, pepper, amber and musk. It starts on me strangely reminiscent of the doughy Bois Farine, only in this case this is a very spicy Bois Farine. Within second all the doughy-ness and with it any similarity to L’Artisan’s scent is gone; Padparadscha gets darker, spicier, and acquires a wonderful balsamic, almost leather-like undertone that I enjoy immensely. At this point, its resinous, ever so slightly medicinal darkness actually reminds me of yet another scent, this time Idole de Lubin.

Unfortunately, the fragrance loses intensity very quickly; fifteen minutes into the development, it more less turns into a straightforward cedar scent on my skin, with but a hint of amber and less than a hint of pepper. It is an enjoyable, attractive, versatile, very wearable perfume. If you are looking for a fairly spicy and “exotic” woody scent for everyday wear, look no further. If, like me, you are a “bois junkie” who requires increasingly intense and more and more unique offerings in this genre, Padparadscha might leave you unsatisfied. That balsamic, vaguely leathery top note does tempt me to buy a full bottle, but I will most probably not yield to this temptation.

Padparadscha is available at Luckyscent, $65.00 for 100ml.

*The image is from

On Monday- Cococabana by Parfums de Nicolai.

Fascinating article in Symrise Webzine: Alma de L'Aigle's Dictionary of Rose Scents

For all the fellow rose lovers out there, this article tells the story of Alma de L'Aigle, the Hamburg-based teacher who created a dictionary of rose scents which included a total of 700 varieties. In this dictionary she describes not only the appearance and character of 700 kinds of roses, but also the way they smell.

"The language that Alma de L'Aigle used to articulate her thoughts about roses is truly inimitable. In her words, roses might be "resonant," "spicy," "fresh," "powdery," "soprano-like" or "joy-inspiring." A flower's scent may be "full" or "thin," "flowing," "spraying," "glowing," "bubbling," "hesitant" or able to "fill the room." Roses can be reminiscent of sour candies, autumn leaves in the rain, fragrant early pears or ripe apricots. Of "bonbons and nail polish," spicy tea roses, linden-blossom tea, fruity green apples, lilies, hyacinths, Reinette apples or a "whiff of a perfume which contains ambergris.""

Here's how she described a variety called Dr. F. Debat:
"Upon first bloom, it has the fresh scent of tins of tea with a hint of La France roses; later, it might put one in mind of fresh laundry, like the Eden rose does -- it bears the slightest trace of a perfume that was used."

Or Erato:
" asparagus peels mixed with apple peels."

And here is my favorite, Rosenmärchen:
"..a dependable and very sweet scent of summer dog roses, of warm skin and once even of berry pudding..."

The full text of the article can be found on Webzine Symrise. The photo of rose variety Pinocchio a.k.a. Rosenmarchen is from

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Nuit Noire

It seems to me that not a week goes by without an exciting new fragrance line offering an enticing array of scents. Sometimes, overwhelmed by the amount, the constant flow and the cost of new releases, I actually wish to be disappointed. Often, I am. However, where Mona di Orio’s collection of perfumes is concerned, my hopes for disappointment were in vain. The story goes that Mona di Orio has been born with a “naturally perfect sense of smell”, which she later developed and perfected even further during the twelve years of her apprenticeship with the great perfumer Edmond Roudnitska. It is also said that her perfumes are rich, complex, original creations reminiscent of the golden age of perfumery of the 1920's and 30's (Les Senteurs). I must regretfully admit that it is all true. This new fragrance line is, alas, worth our excitement and our money. Over the course of the next two weeks I will review the other scents in Mona di Orio’s collection, Lux and Carnation. Today’s review is for Nuit Noire, a spicy floral oriental scent inspired by “the souks, gardens and hams of old Tunis.”

The combination of orange blossom and cardamom in the top notes of the scent is one of the most striking and appealing pairings of a flower and a spice that I have had a pleasure to smell in a long while. The robust, sweet cardamom note gives orange blossom incredible richness. An indolic quality in perfumery seems to be most often associated with jasmine; however orange blossom is just as capable of smelling downright dirty and earthy. I believe that in the case of Nuit Noire, cardamom is the note that brings out that unexpectedly carnal intensity and warmth in orange blossom. The brightly piquant ginger note serves as a perfect bridge from the striking top notes to the even more intense middle accord exquisitely blending incense (olibanum), spices (cinnamon and cloves) and woods (cedar and sandalwood) with the fleshy, creamy and nocturnal tuberose. If you think that it cannot possibly get any better, you are wrong. It can and it will, in the drydown, where amber and leather combine to make the scent even darker and spicier. Nuit Noire is a pitch black Tunisian night, its darkness resplendent with powerful aromas of exotic spices and sensual flowers. Its selection of notes truly inspired, its blend flawless, Nuit Noire is a stunning, sophisticated perfume that is a must try for all lovers of spicy florientals.

Nuit Noire is available at Les Senteurs, £115.00 (a little over $200.00) for 100ml of Eau de Parfum. (The photo is from

Tomorrow- Padparadscha by Satellite.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

An article about Serge Lutens: Le beau sillage de Lutens by Marie-Dominique Lelièvre (L'Express)

There is an interesting article about Serge Lutens in L'Express, written by Marie-Dominique Lelièvre (in French).

Some extracts (translation is mine and thus imperfect):

"Si Lutens était un flacon de parfum - et il l'est, puisque son nom, justement, figure sur les fioles de verre - il serait le djinn qui s'échappe de l'élixir. L'esprit de l'air, le bon génie des contes arabes, parfumé au cèdre de l'Atlas."
(If Lutens were a bottle of perfume - and he is, since his name is featured on the bottles - he would be the djinn who escapes from the elixir. The spirit of the air, good genius of the Arab tales, scented with the cedar of the Atlas.)
"Mon choix change avec les saisons (...) Le week-end, en hiver, j'aime Bois Sépia, qui évoque la balade en forêt que je ne ferai pas. En été, Fleurs d'oranger ou Fleurs de citronnier me transporte dans le jardin oriental où je ne suis pas...» Mais c'est Ambre Sultan qui reste le best-seller de la marque, talonné par Fumerie Turque et Chêne."
("My choice changes with the seasons (...) On a weekend, in winter, I like Bois Sepia, which evokes strolls it in forest that I will not make. In summer, Fleurs d'oranger or Fleurs de citronnier transport me in the Eastern garden where I am not... " But it is Ambre Sultan which remains the best-seller of the line, followed by Fumerie Turque and Chêne.)

And, the answer to the question whether Chris Sheldrake will continue working with Lutens:

"Et, c'est officiel, ils continueront de travailler ensemble."
( And, it is official, they will continue to work together.)

You can find the whole article at L'Express. The photo of Lutens is from L'Express.

Perfume Review: Lolita Lempicka L de Lolita Lempicka

Nine years after the launch of the first Lolita Lempicka fragrance, the second scent, L, was created for the company by perfumer Maurice Roucel (Musc Ravageur, Shalini, Tocade). The perfume was built around an idea of a mermaid; this concept is quite evident in the aqua-blue pebble-shaped bottle created by designer Sylvie de France, embossed with a starfish and decorated with a sparkling letter L. The key ingredient of the scent itself is also suggestive of the sea. It is the coastal-growing gomphrena flower, which allegedly has never been used in the perfumery before. Apart from gomphrena, the notes also include bergamot, bitter orange, cinnamon, vanilla and musk. I must admit that my expectations of L were very low, despite the fact that it was created by Maurice Roucel, one of my favorite perfumers. The first reason is the fact that the original Lolita Lempicka, with its incredibly sweet licorice accord, tops the list of my most-disliked fragrances. The second (a little less irrational) reason is that, based on the marine theme of the packaging and the concept, I expected the scent to fall into the scent category I abhor, the aquatic.

As it turns out, Lolita Lempicka L is in no way similar to Lolita Lempicka the original and does not have a single aquatic accord in its “fresh oriental” composition. It starts with a citrus burst of bergamot and orange, sweetly spiced by cinnamon. A greener, fresher, almost earthy note enters the scene, reminding me vaguely of an immortelle note in Dior’s Eau Noire (one of the lists of notes for L does mention immortelle), but before one can assume that the scent might go in the cologne direction, it suddenly changes its course. The sweetness returns and a soft floral accord appears, with jasmine, perhaps some orange blossom and something vaguely tropical (frangipane?) being the flowers I smell the most. Along with the delicately spicy, citrusy beginning, this, to me, is the best part of the scent. At this point, I can only describe L as smelling of candied flowers. The gentle, sweet floral accord with a hint of vanilla is absolutely delectable. As the scent progresses, vanilla becomes more apparent, somewhat overtaking the scent. The drydown is practically all vanilla with just a smidgen of woods. This vanilla-heavy drydown is my only gripe with the scent.

L by Lolita Lempicka is not earth-shatteringly original. The fans of Viktor & Rolf’s Flowerbomb Extreme might recognize the sugared floral accord. Those who like Susanne Lang’s Black Orchid might also smell some resemblance, especially in the earlier stages of drydown, when flowers are still there and vanilla is already gaining prominence. Both groups are practically guaranteed to enjoy this scent. I, for one, definitely see this incredible blue bottle in my future. L is pleasurable, pretty, subtly gourmand and very well blended. My humble prediction is that, when it is finally launched, it will be as popular as (perhaps even more popular than) its purple predecessor.

The scent will officially launch in most European countries and the Middle East in March; it is expected to arrive in the US in the later half of 2006.

*The review is for Eau de Parfum. According to Cosmeticnews, the Parfum will feature the additional notes of neroli and patchouli.

**The first and second images are from The third image is from

Tomorrow – Nuit Noire by Mona di Orio.

Some interesting information: Sephora France bestsellers for 2005

According to, in 2005, the following fragrances were the bestsellers at Sephora in France:

Women's fragrances:
1. J'adore, Christian Dior
2. Angel, Thierry Mugler
3. N°5, Chanel
4. FlowerbyKenzo
5. Lolita Lempicka
6. Coco Mademoiselle, Chanel
7. Shalimar, Guerlain
8. Amor Amor, Cacharel
9. Very Irrésistible Givenchy
10. Classique, Gaultier

Men's fragrances:
1. Le Mâle, Jean Paul Gaultier
2. Boss Homme, Hugo Boss
3. Eau Sauvage, Dior
4. Acqua di Gio, Giorgio Armani
5. Chrome, Azzaro
6. Allure Homme, Chanel
7. Boss Soul, Hugo Boss
8. (Black) Code, Armani
9. Azzaro pour Homme
10. Kenzo pour Homme