Fragrance X
First in Fragrance
My Photo
Location: New York, NY
© Copyright 2005-2011 Perfume-Smellin' Things
All rights reserved
Custom Search

Friday, September 29, 2006

Perfume Review: Montale Perfumes. Oud Ambre, Greyland, and Oud Cuir Arabie

Review by Kelley

For the second part of my Montale reviews, I know I had promised to review an entirely different set of fragrances…so spank me! As I was testing my samples, I realized that I had a small group of these fragrances that all fit a theme. You all are probably going to think I am twisted and strange (I probably am!) but I couldn’t help myself. I want to see if anybody else agrees with me on these.

Oud Ambre

A very old oud combined with magnificent amber for a duo with vitality thanks to the Cystus ladaniferus from the Indies and to 50 other ingredients.

Amber is fossilized tree resin and was formed thousands if not millions of years ago. Being related to incense, it has a warm, golden incense or pine smell. For me, Oud Ambre has little to do with amber. Oh, I am sure it’s in there…somewhere, but to me this is all about sex. Yes, you read that correctly. This reminds me of Serge Lutens infamous house note (Muscs Koublaï Khän and Cuir Mauresque in particular) and also Paco Rabanne’s La Nuit.

The liquid is a gorgeous, thick golden brown color. It opens with a slightly odd woody accord (not the medicinal oud smell I was looking for) with all other notes subdued in a strangely quiet mix of notes. None of the notes really stand out at first. Because of the high oil content of all Montales, the back of my hand is very shiny. As the scent heats up, the beauty of this scent starts to radiate. It is a beautiful, sexy leather scent.

I am instantly transported back to traveling cross-country and having to stop at a truck stop bathroom. I smell sweet urinal cake which is frequently used in men’s bathrooms to cover up the urine smell. The same thing is happening here in this fragrance. There is a dirty civet note that is hiding under the more dominant notes. Oh, but there is more! There is an odor in here that reminds me of mingling body fluids. I don’t find Oud Amber as raunchy as MKK or Cuir Mauresque or as hard to wear as La Nuit. This is a slightly cleaner version. I am thinking that the oud adds an interesting twist to this creation. That is why I can say with all confidence that this smells like hot sex…on the floor of a truck stop bathroom. When I smell this, I have visions of tangled legs and shiny sweat and crumpled paper towels strewn about the white tile floor. MKK is almost impossible for me to wear and La Nuit has a few notes that really turn me off but Oud Ambre is just lovely. As it dries down, there is a slightly powdery quality that makes this seem so much softer than most leather scents. Sillage is excellent (I am wearing barely a drop) and longevity comes in at around 8 hours. This should be worn only when you have one thing on your mind (and it’s not church). This is fornication in a can.

Oud Cuir Arabie

Combination of tobacco, leather and burnt dry wood notes, here the Oud produces all of its strength and softness.

I tried doing some research on the use of leather in fragrance. I found in the Wikipedia that the smell of leather, which closely resembles ambergris, comes from the use of Labdanum which is obtained from the Cistus shrub (rockrose). The odor is tenacious and long lasting. Its odor is described as sweet, woody, ambergris, dry musk or a lot like leather.

I doused myself with my sample and still it wasn’t strong enough. When I first put this on, I pick up a black tea note…along with leather. This is the most “true to life” leather I have ever smelled in a perfume. This is what sweaty leather pants smell like, or the luscious smell of a new car. The oud adds a strange chemical quality to the scent which is no accident. When you sit in a new car you smell new plastic and fresh epoxy…and leather seats, it’s a stew of animal and chemical smells. I love it. This is what someone would wear that was into bondage. It is black leather coats and harnesses and riding crops. Yeehaw.

Sillage for this is low and stays very close to the skin for the duration of the scent. I would guess that it lasts about 3 or 4 hours on me. If I had a bottle of this, I would spray my chest and then quickly press my shirt into it so it would last longer. Not much development either although the oud note starts to disappear after about an hour and it becomes more of a pure leather scent. So, I call this Montale, S&M in a can.


This is a very woody composition of cedar, sandalwood from Mysore, spices from Sri Lanka, on a sensual base of musk and benzoin.

Now, this is probably my all time favorite Montale fragrance which I was hoping to save to the very end but it fits so nicely with my theme of sex that I had to review it with the others. This one was love at first sniff for me and I bought a full can.

What does it smell like? When I first spray it on, I smell cumin and cedar (it has similarities to Diptyque’s L’autre). This is the smell of a hot construction worker sweating in the sun. Oh yes, this is the dreaded B.O. note that so many people loathe. Not me. This is my pheromone of choice. It’s a little like hairy armpits and maybe a little bit…like crotch. It’s sweaty and hot. I can feel my pulse quicken when I wear Greyland. The musk in this doesn’t enter the picture until the dry down and the scent becomes sweeter in the middle notes and base notes. I smell the sweet blond sandalwood that Montale loves to use in the base notes as well. There isn’t much development with this scent either. The spices start to drop out after about three hours and I am left with cedar and sandalwood and musk. Like I said, this scent is fantastic and makes me feel week in the knees. Sillage is great at first and then after the spices are gone, the scent stays close to the skin. It seems to last about 8 to 12 hours for me. This is hot sweaty construction worker in a can.

These can all be ordered in the United States, at which is the cheapest place I could find the Montale line by far. Oud Ambre and Oud Cuir d’Arabie are both $189 for the 3.4 ounce can. Greyland is $122 for the same size.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

More CB I Hate Perfume

Review by Tom

Continuing the double header, I decided to get three more of Brosius' creations, and then one more as a blind buy....

Burning Leaves

Absolutely amazing! I don't know how this man does it- but this is exactly the smell of burning leaf piles, starting with the tiniest whiff of starter fluid, the leaf piles blazing. It dries down to the most amazing simulacrum of leaves that I can only quote March who put it so well:

But here's the kicker for me -- if I wait for hours, until the scent starts to fade, the smoke clears and what I get THEN is just "leaves" -- you know that exact smell of being inside the leaf fort you made as a kid, or jumping in a pile of leaves? Even now, as a boring grownup, walking down the road when the leaves are piled up like snowdrifts and there's that funny, dry, almost-dusty fallen leaf smell... you know? THAT smell. Is there a better smell? It is the smell of being six years old, playing outside at dusk in the fall chill, without a jacket (even though it's just cold enough to need one), looking forward to Halloween, and feeling like everything in the world was created just for my pleasure.

In the Library

This one is also very successful- it really smells like like a book in a slightly dusty library- the smell of paper and leather and dust. I also get something that smells something like glue and oddly, cinnamon. Interesting, but I don't see myself wearing it. But I would love having it around...

Gathering Apples

Another stunner- I don't know how he does it; this smells exactly like a fresh Macintosh apple: roaring fresh from the orchard fresh. It's so evocative that I can almost taste it. The initial burst of apple mellows slightly and becomes more wearable, once again it's not for me, but it's really nice.


I bought this blind at the inferred behest of March and Colombina, who described it as being the stankiest of the stank. Like Colombina, I have graduated to the idea that MKK is something that I can wear to the office, so I was expecting something that would be like "Nuit de la Mineshaft" (and maybe you have to have been a New Yorker of a certain age to get the reference). I was actually surprised: maybe my personal De-Skank-o-tron was in force. I got an
interesting "berry musk", like blackberries gone bad. Not fermented, but blackberries hanging out at a club, smoking Luckies and being of easy virtue. As time passed, it grew more and more, not exactly strong, but disconcerting in a way that I knew that I was completely and hopelessly in thrall over. It's not really fruity, it's not really musk, it's something primeval and fecund, an ancient spirit of Beltane. The best blind buy I ever made, and yes, I will be wearing it alone.

Although, March and Colombina, it is DIVINE layered with Yatagan: the blackberry sweetness of the CB nicely cuts the ashtray accord of Yatagan's opening, while deepening and amping up the leather. It both civilises and makes more dangerous Yatagan: it turns the barbarian into
Jason Stratham, still the kick-ass barbarian, but in an Armani suit

The images of the bottles are from CB I Hate Perfume

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Vetiver Sniffathon

I haven’t reviewed a vetiver scent in a long time; the sample box labeled Vetivers is over-flowing. So today I am having a Vetiver Sniffathon.

Annick Goutal Vétiver. The presence of a very distinct aquatic note could have been a huge turn off for me, however this unusual rendition of vetiver combines the marine quality with an unexpectedly smoky accord. Wearing this scent is akin to sitting on a beach of an exotic island, in front of a fire made of spicy, aromatic wood. A dreamy, escapist vetiver. $29.90-$39.90 at

Elizabeth W Vetiver. The attractiveness and the originality of this vetiver scent, for me, lies in its fruity sweetness. It has the same candied citrus peel accord that I find so appealing in L.T. Piver Cuir de Russie. The juxtaposition of the brightly-sweet and the earthy-green is very pleasing, although vetiver purists most probably will be disappointed in this charming little scent. A bargain at $32.00 for 2oz, at

Frederic Malle Vétiver Extraordinaire. Dominique Ropion’s vetiver is full-bodied, woody and nocturnal. It has rugged, husky handsomeness, it is a wild, untamed vetiver, all strong, jagged roots, dark woods and shadows. A vetiver scent for a hunky wizard. $180.00 at Barneys.

Hermes Vetiver Tonka. Created by Jean-Claude Ellena as a part of Hermessence Collection, Vetiver Tonka is a mouthwatering, practically gourmand vetiver. The union of green earthiness, caramelized nuttiness and sweet smokiness is incredibly attractive. It is almost childish and yet very sensual, cuddly and striking. It is to die for. $180-ish in Hermes boutiques.

Jalaine Vetiver is a winter comfort scent, something to wear when a snow storm is raging outside and one is safely tucked in on a sofa, in front of a fireplace, with a glass of sherry. The sweetness of amber, the warm earthiness of patchouli, the softness of sandalwood makes Vetiver cuddly, cozy and enveloping. This and Patchouly are the only two Jalaine scent that I love, however I must say that I am disappointed with the “thinness”, “flatness” of the drydown in both. The fragrances start rich and sumptuous but instead of becoming warmer and richer still, they dry down rather pale and bland on me. $90.00-$150.00 for 6ml at

Jo Malone Vetyver. A fresh, summery vetiver with citrus fruits aplenty, attractively spiced up by sweetly piquant nutmeg. It is an easy-going, linear vetiver. Easy enough to wear even for those who are not overly fond of this note, Vetyver would also make a refreshingly uncomplicated, no-brainer, everyday scent for vetiver connoisseurs. $50.00-$90.00 at

Lorenzo Villoresi Vetiver. Unlike Malone’s version, this is a multifaceted, complex creation, very green, slightly floral, quite spicy, woody and earthy, Villoresi’s version has it all. It starts fresh and cooling, with lavender and mint, goes through a very green stage of herbs, galbanum and celery, acquires a warm, spicy undertone of cumin and nutmeg and finally dries down appropriately earthy and pleasantly woody on base of oakmoss, sandalwood and patchouli. A must-try and a must-have. $65.00-$140.00 at

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver. Luckyscent describes Route du Vetiver as fierce and it truly is [insert Tyra Banks’ voice here] FIERCE. Route du Vetiver is what they call “an acquired taste”. Those who are not quite comfortable with the vetiver note should proceed with caution when sampling this striking, bracing, spicy, super-rooty, ultra-green, uber-woody beast of a vetiver. Vetiver virgins should probably just stay far, far away from this handsome but ruthless monster. I love Route du Vetiver but it is not something I can wear often or in big doses. $105.00 on

Montale Vetiver des Sables. This rooty devil is a more subtle creature than Route du Vetiver, but in its suave, sweet way, it is just as relentless and dangerous. It is a charmer. I adore its medicinal, in fact, poisonous, cyanidic start, its sweet, exotic spices, its candied citrus, its warm, dark wood…I’d sell my soul for a bottle of Vetiver des Sables. $122.00 at

Parfums de Nicolai Vetyver is yet another sexy beast on our list, this one with an oh so elegant, urbane, peppery-citrusy veneer and a dark, hot and spicy, sweaty, dirty heart of cumin, coriander and clove. After the thrill of the piquant and sensual middle stage, Vetyver settles into a soft, warm drydown heavy on that trademark Nicolai tonka bean. The only disappointing thing about this scent is its poor staying power. $79.00 at

Some more previously reviewed vetiver scents:

Comme des Garcons Vettiveru
Guerlain Djedi
Guerlain Vetiver
GuerlainVetiver Frozen
Guerlain Vetiver Pour Elle
Hermes Terre d’Hermes
I Profumi di Firenze Fresco di Vetiver
Jo Malone Black Vetiver Cafe
Le Labo Vetiver 46
Le Labo Vetiver 46, Tom’s Review
Miller Harris Vetiver Broubon
The Different Company Sel de Vetiver
Wickle Chestnut & Vetiver

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Perfume Review: Shiseido Inoui

Inoui was created in 1976, followed the next year by a line of cosmetics of the same name. According to Shiseido, “unlike other Shiseido products, which were based on oriental concepts, Inoui was created based on western aesthetics” and targeted “the contemporary career woman”. Inoui has been taken off the market in the US and in Europe, and I was unable to find any information on whether it still might be available (and in production) in Japan, so if you know, please comment.

Shiseido is quite right when they designate Inoui for a “career woman”. What’s more, although created in the late 1970s, the scent would suit a present-day workplace perfectly well, since it is not a high-impact, forceful scent with monster sillage. This is an exceedingly elegant blend that is simultaneously subtle and full of character. It is described as Green Fresh Balsamic and the list of notes (lemon, galbanum, peach, juniper, jasmine, pine needles, thyme, freesia, oakmoss, cedar, myrrh, civet, musk) seems to promise a rather sharp, bone-dry scent, and indeed Inoui possesses a wonderful, almost-austere, arid greenness. And yet underneath that husky, borderline bitter verdancy of galbanum, pine, cedar and oakmoss, Inoui is unexpectedly, charmingly soft. In the beginning, the softness is due to the presence of peach, which, combined with jasmine, actually makes me think of sweet, yellow roses. In the middle stage, freesia continues that delicately luscious fruity-floral theme, and the drydown features the lovely, warm and sweet myrrh note. The two motives, the cold, dry, green and the warm, peachy, soft coexist in perfect harmony and are as appealing together as a sharply chic, almost manly suit worn with a very feminine, pastel colored, silk blouse. As it is the case with many rich, warm chypres, there is something enchantingly autumnal about Inoui, and it seems to me just as suited for a leisurely stroll through a melancholy park, with the yellow and brown leaves strewn on the ground, as it is for an office.

Inoui is available at 1stperfume for $499.00-999.00. Now and then it is possible to find it on eBay, sometimes for just as much, sometimes for significantly less, but never as a bargain.

The images are from and

Monday, September 25, 2006

New Scent from Jo Malone- Blue Agava and Cacao

According to Cosmetics International, Estée Lauder is about to launch the first Jo Malone fragrance since the brand’s namesake and creative force exited the company earlier this year.
Blue Agava and Cacao will be unveiled next week in London. The agava plant is used as the base ingredient for tequila. Blue Agava and Cacao will be the 18th scent in the Jo Malone fragrance collection.
Chocolate and booze, eh? Sounds like a fun little scent.

Perfume Review: There Is Something About Knize...

Established in Vienna in 1859, Knize is a distinguished label of fine-tailored menswear. It is said that ten days and 7000 hand stitches go into producing each bespoke Knize suit. The Knize scents have the same impeccably-made, solid, expensive feel. They have a certain “English-ness” about them (or at least what a foreigner like me likes to imagine to be “English-ness”), a certain traditional elegance of a tweed suit and Burberry coat nonchalantly worn with wellies, an expensive casualness of the class that owns country houses, hunts and has stiff-upper-lip double-barrel surnames.

Knize Ten, created in 1924, is the one Knize scent that perhaps has the most plummy accent. This leather classic, with its traditionally-sharp citrusy top, spicy-woody heart of sandalwood, cedar, geranium and carnation, and the warm, powdery, slightly vanillic drydown, is obviously wonderful on a man. On a woman it has the same austere and provocative elegance as Tabac Blond. When I wear Knize Ten I feel like one of those English Ladies one sees in movies (mostly televised mysteries, to be very honest), who date their ancestry to William the Conqueror, wear riding boots, love dogs and horses, smoke, drink, swear, and, without giving it any serious thought, are always extremely well put together. It is no wonder really that Knize Ten is my favorite Knize scent and one of my favorite leather fragrances in general.

Knize Two, created in 1978, is less of a “landowner” and more of a Lord Peter Wimsey kind of scent, a scent to be worn by a refined city-based person of noble birth, with a taste for books and a fondness for the piano. It is an understated green scent with a surprisingly prominent violet note and has the same dry elegance as Violette Precieuse, Iris Bleu Gris and Grey Flannel. This sophisticated and subtle, woody, mossy and most definitely unisex fragrance is my other favorite from Knize.

Knize Sec, created in 1985, has an appropriate dry, elegant, cold, albeit not too fascinating, citrusy beginning that makes me think of gin and tonic heavy on gin rather than tonic. The most interesting part of it, and the one that makes Sec full bottle worthy for me, is the drydown, which seems to me to be heavy on labdanum, and has an unexpectedly dark, incensey quality.

Knize Forest, created in the 1993, is my least favorite of the “masculine” Knize scents. It is a fougere, with a bracing lavender-bergamot beginning, herbal, slightly spicy, ambery heart, and an earthy and rather chilly drydown of woods, vetiver and musk. I am not a big fan of fougeres as a fragrance family, so it is perhaps understandable that I am not able to fully appreciate Knize Forest. It is, however, as elegant and well-made as the other Knize scents, and should definitely be tried by those who like this genre.

Knize Lady, originally created in 1938 and re-issued in 1955, is Knize’s polite nod to the spouses of their clients. It is a pleasing, certainly very feminine floral bouquet, quite sweet and heady and not too imaginative. Rose, tuberose and jasmine are lush and languid, slightly spiced up by coriander and resting on a base of lovely, soft sandalwood and amber. It is pretty and cheerful and seems just like the kind of thing a busy gentleman would pick up as a present for his wife, because he likes her to be pretty and cheerful or because he thinks that, as a woman, this is the type of scent she will enjoy…for all I know, she would enjoy it. It’s not my cup of tea at all. Give me my Knize Ten and my riding boots and I will be quite chuffed.

Knize Ten, Sec, Forest and Lady are available at First in Fragrance €43.00 for Lady, €72.00 for the other three. Knize Two was available there only a month ago, but seems to have been sold out.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Perfume Review: Lulu Beauty Marlena

Lulu Beauty is a glamourpuss collection of makeup that also includes four perfumes with very pinup names, Gigi, Lula Mae, Marlena, and Starlet. Being a huge Marlene Dietrich fan, I was of course interested in Marlena. With notes of bergamot, jasmine, Moroccan rose, musk, vanilla and patchouli, this is a scent for a screen goddess on a laid back vacation at some exotic destination.

Marlena smells to me like a result of a fling between Jasmin Full and Dior-Dior. The beautiful offspring inherited the sweet, tropical jasmine of the Montale and the dirty base of the Dior. It is less complex, softer and more delicate then the voluptuous parents, but it is still sexy as all get out. For me, the beauty and the originality of this scent lies in the patchouli note. Without it, Marlena would have been just another jasmine-vanilla blend (and the name of those is a legion). Patchouli brings warmth, earthiness and an almost-gourmand undertone to the composition. Because of it, the scent has both a summery-tropical feel and a cozy, enveloping quality that will make it extremely enjoyable in the impending cold months. Sultry and strangely comforting, Marlena is a delight.

It can be found at Lulu Beauty, $40 for 0.25oz. I think the packaging, which looks like a retro, azure cigarette box (wiht a little mirror inside), is adorable.

Miller et Bertaux Ref. 015 813 Bois de Gaiac et Poire

Miller et Bertaux have launched a new perfume, their fourth, Ref. 015 813 Bois de Gaiac et Poire, which apparently also goes by the name Close Your Eyes And... As far as I can tell from the description on their site (click on Les Parfums (suite)), it has notes of Sicilan lemons, Calabrian bergamot, jasmine, Turkish roses, cassia, gaiac wood, pear and heliotrope. It seems to be already available at Lusciouscargo, $100 for 50ml.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Musc, Musc And More Musk

Review by Tom

Serge Lutens Clair de Musc

Unlike Colombina (according to the review linked above), I am rather a musk fan. I love it when it pops it's dirty little head in some of the most unexpected places: the slightly animal bits that sneak out of Rahat Loukoum enliven the proceedings for me quite a bit, and Habit Rouge would not do it for me as much if not for the bit of "rode hard and put away wet" under all that gentlemanly citrus. Having said that, I am afraid that Clair de Musc simply does not work on me. It's a beautiful fragrance, and were I female, I would delight in it: it's powdery opening is delicate but pervasive, a cloak that manages to be both sheer but at the same time surprisingly strong in it's sillage. On me, the iris rings especially strong, jasmine takes a backseat to it and the orange blossom and bergamot are left somewhere in the trunk. The musk is marvelous, not quite a white musk, but not the in-your-(ahem)-face of MKK. It's truly lovely, and I leave it to you ladies to do it justice.

Musc Bleu by Il Profumo

Another floral musk, but one that oddly worked better on me. Luckyscent insists that it's floral, but I get very little flowers out of it: I get a crystalline brightness that becomes woody and mossy, but never heavy. Again, I don't think that there is white musk in this one, but the musk that is in there is never too "dirty" that it would upset the delicate balance between the foresty mossy wood and the very light florals (they list neroli and black geranium, I'm afraid that I'm not good enough of a nose to make them out distinctly- I get what I like to think of as "green" flowers, lighter in scent than white ones, all shoots and stamens and delicate white petals). This is a nice everyday scent, or a walk on the wild side for the truly self effacing. I know that can be construed as damning with faint praise, and for that I am sorry. For me, it's nice and if it shows up in a Christmas stocking, I'd be happy, but I won't be pulling out the checkbook, either.

Patchouli Antique by Les Néréides

I know, you're thinking "Whoa, big fellah, why are you reviewing this one, when LuckyScent carries all of the Les Néréides scents, three of which have Musc in the name?"

'cause I feel like it.

Well, more like because while I liked the musks in their line, the only one that really worked on me was Musc de Java, and that one is A) not available at this time (backordered as of August) and B) fairly fleeting. A mini review (how you all work me, as Lucia would say): a blast of berries that you've picked yourself in the sun down on the farm: berries, cut hay, skin and sun. Nice but not lasting.

So anyway.. Patchouli Antique reminds me a bit of Borneo 1834. The patchouli has the same dryness, the vanilla lends a creaminess and the musk an earthy accord that do very well on me. If I did not own Borneo 1834, I would certainly pick up a bottle of this one: it's simple, but very, very good as some simple things are, like a shortbread made with farm-fresh eggs, wonderful French butter and the best flour you can find. The three notes in PA are blended so well and are so nice in and of themselves that the concoction as a whole transcends. Definitely worth a try for those of you who are looking for a nice musky patchouli or a more easily found substitute for Borneo 1834

Clair de Musc is an export in the Lutens line, available at Aedes, Neiman Marcus, Barneys, and Bergdorfs for $92. Musc Bleu, and the Les Néréides are available at, priced at $80 and $60 respectively

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Six Dark Roses Or Perfumes For Femme Fatale

The femme fatale will generally try to achieve her hidden purpose by using her feminine wiles (beauty, charm, sexual skill), and thus she is typically portrayed as exceptionally well-endowed with these qualities (…) The femme fatale is sometimes portrayed as a sort of sexual vampire; her dark appetites were thought to be able to leech away the virility and independence of her lovers, leaving them shells of their former selves. On this account, in earlier American slang femmes fatales were often called ‘vamps’” (Wikipedia)

Deep, deep, very deep down inside exists my inner vamp. She wears long, silk black dresses that hug her like second skin. The long cigarette holder looks very natural in her hand with its long, dark-red nails. Her lips are devil red. She calls everybody dahling. She doesn’t give a damn. She’ll push and pull you down if that suits her purposes. She leads stylish, jet-setting la vida loca….We don’t get in touch very often. In fact, I hardly ever see her. She thinks my boring life is no place for her fabulous self and I agree. Still, I cherish and pamper her. I buy her gifts. Things I have nowhere to wear: fishnet stockings, dresses with awesome décolleté, killer stilettos…dark rose perfumes that smell like danger, like night, like excitement, like everything I am not and probably am really too cowardly and too lazy to be.

L’Arte di Gucci. Dark Rose Chypre extraordinaire, L’Arte is unapologetically luxurious. Some scents smell expensive, L’Arte di Gucci smells very expensive. When I smell it, the line from Pretty Woman always comes to my mind: “Just how obscene an amount of cash are we talking about here? Profane or really offensive?” And the answer to that is, “really offensive”. L’Arte is voluptuous, heady; it is a scent of excess. The darkly-luscious fruity top notes prepare the entrance for the floral heart in which the pitch-black rose reigns supreme, spiced up by geranium and sweetened by tuberose… The seductive, passionate blend culminates in a honeyed drydown of patchouli, leather, musk and oakmoss. If you weren’t charmed by the nocturnal fruits and the stunning rose, this drydown will have you wrapped around its bejeweled finger. L’Arte is a demanding scent. It would not go with a casual outfit of old jeans and a t-shirt, it absolutely should not be carelessly spritzed on before going grocery shopping in weather-beaten flip-flops, with hair pulled back in a humble pony-tail . L’Arte must only be worn with an outfit that makes you look like a million bucks (and if it costs that much, all the better).

Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens is, to me, closely related to L’Arte. In fact, they smell remarkably similar to my nose. Rose de Nuit, dark and sumptuous as it is, is, however, a little subtler, a little drier. L’Arte flaunts its riches and is a center of attention wherever it goes; Rose de Nuit prefers to appear mysterious and to smolder enigmatically in the corner with a couple of choice suitors in tow. The apricot note is quite apparent here and it softens the composition considerably, in the beginning and the middle stage. Without it and without a certain honeyed, woody accord in the drydown, Rose de Nuit would have been rather austere, perhaps too dry for my taste. As it is, it has a little bit of a Goth and a lot of Glamour, and is, on the whole, just perfect.

Black Rosette by Strange Invisible Perfumes, on the other hand, is 70% a Goth and 30% a voluptuous vixen. It is indeed strange, what with the alluringly bizarre, slightly minty, astringent beginning and a smoked tea note that is as apparent as the rose and at times even more so. Compared to many other Strange Invisible Perfumes, however, it is not, for me, a very challenging scent to wear. SIPs are notorious for their borderline unpleasant top notes, but Black Rosette is completely wearable and enjoyable from its minty top, to its black-rose heart, to the smoky leathery, lapsang-souchong-heavy drydown. This is the perfume to wear when playing a role of a villainess in a film noir, the odder and more noir, the better.

Rose en Noir by Miller Harris (the limited edition scent created to celebrate the opening of the new Liberty Beauty Hall) starts deceptively innocently, with a note that smells like raspberry jam. Although that delicious fruitiness never disappears completely, the blend grows steadily darker and more “fatale” with every second. The middle stage is all about the sultry, woody, slightly bitter rose and the drydown is leathery and has a very appealing sweet-tobacco note. Not as “noir” as the previous three scents on this list, this lady is still a vamp.

Rose Barbare by Guerlain is one of the L'Art et la Matière scents, and is as misnamed as Angelique (Not Really) Noire and (No) Cuir Beluga. There is nothing whatsoever barbaric about this rather sweet, fruity, completely adorable rose. Still, it has a wonderful, mossy, honeyed, slightly leathery, dark drydown that qualifies Rose Barbare as a scent for a femme fatale.

Rose 31 by Le Labo is marketed for men, and therein lies its attractiveness for any self-respecting vamp. To take a “masculine” scent, to wear it with something slinky and sexy and to make it feel more feminine than Joy is a challenge a femme fatale cannot resist. The beginning of Rose 31 is sharp, dry and quite austere. But then the sweet, spicy rose comes, followed by the dirty cumin, and the picture changes completely. The drydown of Rose 31 is dark, earthy and has the kind of disheveled, sexy-unwashed feeling about it that comes after a night satisfactorily mis-spent doing things I won’t dare to mention on a family blog.

L’Arte di Gucci has been - unforgivably! inexplicably! - discontinued. It is right now available at Imagination Perfumery, $29.99 for 1oz, which is an amazing price, especially compared to $74.99 for the same size at 1stperfume; and if I didn’t have a bottle, I would have snapped it straightaway…come to think of it, I still might. Rose de Nuit is a non-export scent and retails for €100.00 at Salons Shiseido in Paris. Black Rosette can be found on the frustrating SIP site, for the staggering price of $185.00 for 1/4oz. Rose en Noir might still be sold at Liberty, UK, for £85.00. Rose Barbare, €140.00 for 75ml, can be ordered from Guerlain’s 68, Champs Elysées boutique in Paris. I believe it might also be sold in Bergdorf Goodman. Rose 31, $45.00-$180.00, is available in Le Labo boutique in New York or on their website. If there is a conclusion to be arrived upon here, it is that femme fatale scents are appropriately hard to get and they do not come cheap.

Most images are from

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Perfume Review: Profumum Fragrances

Profumum is an Italian line, established in 1996 in Rome by Celestino and Lucia Durante. Like every self-respecting perfume line, Profumum promises that their scents evoke emotions and memories and are made of the highest quality ingredients. They also apparently promise to max out your credit cards, because the bottles cost $180.00 a-piece. Are they worth it? Well…

Acqua di Sale. Described by Luckyscent as “the most realistic ocean scent”, with notes of “aroma of salt on the skin”, myrtle, cedarwood and marine algae, it was meant to be my least favorite of the bunch. It is actually not bad on me at all, i.e. it is not too obviously, too nauseatingly aquatic. In fact, it is really quite good. It is the scent of the skin after a long swim in the sea. In a cold, Baltic Sea. I don't know why, this is how it smells to me. It is understated but still has a presence and certain sensuality about it. It is slightly minty, very subtly sweet, and a little spicy. It is very nicely done, it surprised me. If ever I were on the market for this kind of scent, this would be the scent I’d buy.

Acqua e Zucchero. The gourmand one. With notes of orange blossom, wild berries and vanilla, it smells like a fluffy desert made of blackcurrants, vanilla and cream. It is undeniably delicious and rather reminiscent of Fleur des Comores. Unlike the latter, however, Acqua e Zucchero lacks a certain depth, richness, as if its base was completely missing. It was rather fleeting on my skin. Lovely, but not worth $180.00 for me.

Antico Caruso. They were not lying when they said that this scent was “inspired by the scent and atmosphere of a classic, old fashioned barbershop”. This is a sharp, bracing “men’s cologne”. The citruses are tart, the sandalwood note is rather pale and the almond, which was hiding in the beginning, went a little sour on my skin. I will most certainly pass on this one.

Fiori d’Ambra. Decadent, sugared amber with a little somethin’ wild in it that they call “opium”, but that to me smells like cinnamon and cloves. It is a languid little scent that, if only it had a little more spice, a little more wickedness in it, could have been a very fun scent to know and love. As it is, Fiori d’Ambra is not making the earth move for me, which is exactly what a perfume would have to do to justify this kind of price.

Ichnusa. A perfume line wouldn’t be complete without at least one fig scent, now would it? Profumum’s version is bright, dry and a little spicy. This is the smell of fig leaves and a fig tree more than that of a fruit. What’s nice about Ichnusa is that it does not have the coconut undertone that seems to haunt almost every fig scent on the market. I am not a big fan of fig fragrances, so I won’t be buying this, but lovers of very green, not too sweet fig fragrances should give Ichnusa a try.

Patchouly. An expansive, full-bodied patchouli scent with generous helpings of sweet amber, velvety sandalwood and a dry, dark incense note that, from the middle stage on, seems to overwhelm the aforementioned amber and wood and to rule the blend alongside patchouli. I liked this one a lot. I am not sure I will be buying a bottle, I am not that big a fan of patchouli and will never be able to finish a 100ml jug…I must also add that it layers wonderfully well with Fiori d’Ambra and Acqua e Zucchero, adding to them the depth and the va va voom that both are missing.

Santalum. Sweet, spicy, snuggly sandalwood with a prominent myrrh note and quite a bit of cinnamon. It seems to be exactly the kind of scent I usually enjoy, and yet, again, something is lacking. Perhaps originality? Somehow I feel I smelled this piquant woody scent so many times before. It reminded me of several scents at once, from, believe it or not, Opium, to Chaos, to Wenge, to Padparadscha. I will pass.

Thundra. With the name like that, this was the one Profumum I wanted to like the most. And it is quite nice, in fact, along with Acqua di Sale, it is perhaps the most interesting of the eight scents I’ve tried. This is a minty, green patchouli fragrance that smells of wet earth, brown leaves, of the somber, autumnal day maybe not in thundra but somewhere on a marsh in England, where the air is foggy and melancholy. Thundra really is rather interesting; my only wish is that it were more forceful, had more richness. For $90.00, I would have already bought it, but not for $180.

All these scents can be purchased on, $180.00 for 100ml. A sampler set is available, $28.00 for 8 samples. I would love know how much the Profumum fragrances cost in Italy, so if anyone has such info, please comment. I wonder if the line is as overpriced in the US as I Profumi di Firenze (the latter cost €18.00 on their domestic soil).

Monday, September 18, 2006

Perfume Review: Weil Zibeline

Parfums Weil was established in 1927 by Marcel Weil who about a decade earlier founded Les Fourrures Weil (Weil Furs). Weil’s first perfumes were inspired by furs and were meant to be worn with furs. The names speak for themselves, Zibeline (Sable), Chinchilla, Hermine (Ermine), Une Fleur pour Fourrure (A Flower for Fur)... Parfums Weil has survived the War, having introduced in 1945 the beautiful Antilope. The house has been active in the 1960s, but by 1980s its days of glory seemed to be long past. It has changed ownership several times, having ended up being bought by Interparfums.

The glamorous epoch of furs and outrageous luxury might be over, but lets no allow the beautiful perfumes created then go down into the night so very easily. Zibeline, very much a product of its time, and very much a retro scent, is not any more out of place in today’s life then Lipstick Rose, Mona di Orio Carnation, Teint de Neige or Melodrama, the scents meant to have an old-fashioned, stylized feel and to be evocative of the times past. I find it very easy to wear Zibeline on any, even the most unglamorous of occasions; the scent certainly has a presence and a character but in a quiet, understated, old-money-that-are-never-flaunted sort of way.

The fragrance starts with a fresh and yet candied, powdery citrus accord, which makes me think of lipsticks…if lipsticks were scented with orange blossom instead of roses and violets, that’s how they would smell. As the sweet, slightly spicy powderiness wears off, the iris note becomes more prominent and in a short while it takes over the scent. It is one of the most beautiful iris notes I have encountered, an unusually warm, sweet, expansive note that reminds be of the bright, piquant iris of Orchidee Blanche. This middle stage of Zibeline might be a portrait of Orchidee Blanche’s great grandmother, dressed in furs and pearls and a cloche hat, looking down approvingly at her beautiful descendant from a sepia-tone portrait on the wall. The drydown of Zibeline is balsamic and honeyed, with soft sandalwood and sweet amber and tonka bean, and with a healthy helping of dirtiness supplied by civet. Dark golden-brown, smooth and silky like the most expensive sable manteau, Zibeline is elegant and warm, dressed up and amazingly versatile. It is most certainly worth an effort to find and to get to know before it disappears for good.

Finding it is not impossible. Bottles of Zibeline regularly pop up on eBay. It is also available at Enchante Perfumes in Canada, which is where I got my bottle. It retails there for CAN 45.00-120.00.

An ad for Weil Furs and Manteau de Zibeline by George Barbier are from The photo of the bottle is from

Friday, September 15, 2006

Perfume Review: Montale Perfumes. Sandflowers and Aoud Lime

Review by Kelley

My goal in this series of articles is review all of the Montale Perfumes including the famous Aoud series. Montale has a reputation for being an extremely expensive niche house. Is this reputation well deserved? Well, they are expensive…but are they worth it? We shall see.

Parfums Montale was started in 2001 by Pierre Montale who lived in Saudi Arabia for three years creating perfumes for the royal families. It’s a very romantic story about Arabian kings and queens and sultans and princesses all longing for something wonderful. Pierre’s specialty was the use of the most rare Ouds available thus becoming the first French oud line.

I have read the packet of information provided by Montale and it is a riot. They use phrases like “love scents from the Orient and Arabia” and they state the perfumes “are like happiness ointments or love potions”. And, for all of you unfamiliar with the line, they come in aluminum bottles that are supposed to be superior to glass because they guarantee to preserve the perfume for a long time against the wicked, evil scent damaging sunlight. Well, enough about the history and the hype, let’s get on with the reviews!


Sandflowers is a marine scent, no doubt about it. It contains marine notes from the ocean combined with the coolness of juniper berries on a base of sandalwood and oakmoss for a fragrance reminiscent of sunshine and travels in the East.

When I put this on, I am instantly transported to the time when I was little and fishing with my grandfather off the Florida Keys. I was leaning over the boat, holding my fishing pole and just watching the seaweed sway in the crystal clear water. When I smell this perfume I can even feel the sunshine on my shoulders. This has to be one of my favorites in the Montale collection.

It opens with a burst of Calone (trademarked by Pfizer), which is the scent chemical that smells like the ocean. In fact, Calone is similar in structure to a pheromone released by brown algae. Yes, this is the smell of kelp in love. Actually, I love it too. Sandflowers has a lot in common with many marine scents like Mare and L’eau d’Issey Pour Homme and New West. The difference here is the simplicity of the scent. For me, Mare is a little too floral and the others can smell extremely heavy. Sandflowers is pure sunlight glistening on the tops of the ocean waves. It opens clear as a bell and the dry down is pretty much the same. This is pretty much a linear scent with almost no development. The sandalwood and oakmoss are handled with a light touch and are very subtle.

This lasts easily eight to ten hours on my skin. Sillage is great at first but after about four hours it stays pretty close to the skin. If it gets on your clothes, it will last literally for days. This is marketed to women but a guy could wear this as well. This could easily be worn year round and especially on cloudy days when you need to feel the sun on your shoulders.

Aoud Lime

Oud (or Aoud) has been used in perfumery since the dawn of time, according to the Montale folks. They say that oud is a fragranced ointment from Arabia, extracted from the root of the oud tree. It is then preserved in a cave for several years and by some secret process, the oud oil is obtained.

Oud (literally “wood” in Arabic) is also known as aloes wood, eaglewood and agar wood. It actually comes from several types of trees that have been infected by a fungus. The tree’s immune response to the fungus causes a growth that is collected and sold at exorbitant prices. The Wikipedia claims that oud is a complex smell but can be roughly approximated by combining ambergris, jasmine, earth, and wood notes. Some people think oud smells like band-aids or rubber or even a harsh chemical. Not me.

Aoud Lime includes aoud from the Pakistan Mountains along with roses from India and Italian iris. The base notes consist of ambergris, patchouli, sandalwood, and saffron. I couldn’t find mention of any citrus (especially lime) as an ingredient…anywhere. I have to agree, I don’t smell lime in this.

When I put this on I get a burst of oud wood along with saffron and bergamot. As it dries down a little, I can smell the rose. This develops into the most wonderful rose scent I have come across in a long time. The oud/rose/patchouli/saffron accord is breathtaking. This is very masculine to my nose. I took this sample over to my mom’s house and she wanted to keep it. Although it wasn’t her favorite in the oud series, she thought it was feminine and dressy (whatever that is). I am reminded a little of L’Artisan’s Voleur de Rose with its patchouli, plum, and velvety roses. The saffron in Aoud Lime makes this more exotic. Sillage is fantastic and it seems to last about eight to ten hours. I feel a little naughty wearing this. This wouldn’t be good to wear to bed unless you don’t plan on sleeping.

In the next installment, I will be reviewing Aoud Ambre (in all it’s skanky deliciousness!), Attar, and Sandalsliver. All of the scents reviewed are available at with Sandflowers being $122 for the 3.4 oz bottle (believe it or not that is $21 cheaper than at any other site I checked, practically a bargain!) and Aoud Lime weighing in at $189 for the same size bottle. Parfumesraffy has it listed at $210. I believe Vijay has the 1.7 oz bottles as well but they aren’t listed on the website.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Yum, Yum and More Yum

Review by Tom

I only recently have started to like gourmand scents. I loathed the vanilla fad of the 90's, and most fizzyfruity scents make me gag. Here are a few that changed my mind.

Serge Lutens Rahat Loukoum

Rahat Loukoum is a fragrance that on the surface, I should really hate. Named after the candy called Turkish Delight, (and it is a delight, trust me) it's very fruity, and I normally loathe that. It opens with a hit of bright, boozy cherries that remind me of (oh god, here he comes with the stories again...) my first job after college. I worked at Dean and Deluca in New York, and one of the things we sold were incredibly boozy fruits in, well, booze. Raspberries in framboise and cherries in cherry marnier. The opening of Rahat Loukoum smells exactly what it smelled like taking the cork out of the wide mouth of that big 8 quart jar. Rich cherries, almond and spikey booze. While I do get the smoky part that Colombina mentions (as well, as a delightfully sly musk that creeps in like a thief: Skank, hands off my candy!) on me this stage lasts throughout. It fades slightly behind the smoky almond and the honeyed musk, but as most SL's comes back with any movement that would make one "glow". I love it so much though, that I might just try to jump start it.

Parfumerie Generale Aomassai

Reading the notes on this one (caramel, toasted hazelnuts, spices, vetiver, balsam wood, bitter orange, incense, licorice, wenge, dried grasses and resin), one would think that this would make perhaps the most horrific thing one could be served as dessert, never mind as a scent. As a matter of fact, the opening of hazelnut and caramel leans just this side of cloying. Actually, it's so sweet and nutty that you kinda want to figure out a way to spread it on toast. Luckily, just at the point that you start actually gnawing on your wrist, the vetiver, woods and spices drop in to deepen and tart up the proceedings, with a wonderful bitter orange note adding more foodie depth. Many thanks to Colombina for my introduction to this one. It's truly brilliant.

Argenteé by Des Filles a la Vanille

Reading the ingredients on this one, you would have thought that I would have headed for the hills. Well, I would have if I'd just read about them. Luckily I was in ScentBar (the store for LuckyScent here in Los Angeles) and the nice lady just grabbed my arm and said "I think you'll like this". Yes, the opening is very much like a treat that I loved when I was a kid and the treat-truck would come trundling by on a hot summer day and us kids would run to the curb with the money we'd hurriedly begged from Mom; creamsicle: orange and vanilla scented cream. But then, the creamsicle starts its walk on the wild side. The peel of the orange starts to come out, and the pith. The vanilla starts to get boozy, and then we start getting musk. Not a lot, this isn't MKK, but enough to let us know this creamsicle's gone bad. It's sitting on a barstool, knocking back the screwdrivers, spoiling for a fight. There are quite a few more scents ahead of it on the list so I am not going for a full bottle, but this is a great find.

Well, since we've covered yum, yum and more yum, I guess we should touch on a yuck.

Luctor et Emergo by People of the Labyrinths

Okay, I'll admit it. I am a hard-headed New Englander, and I usually have to find out for myself whether I will like something or not. In some cases it works out, like movies the critics hated that I find wonderful, in some cases it does not. Like the time I was visiting my friend in Scottsdale in February and I ignored the advice of the seniors around the unheated pool that the water was too cold to swim. Imagine jumping into an 80000 gallon Slurpee, and the subsequent near heart attack.

Well, Ignoring the warnings, and hoping to find a local alternative to the wholly wonderful Rahat Loukoum, I got a sample of LeM from eBay. Upon applying, I did get some almond and some cherry, but it almost immediately became... Play-Doh. In the interest of science, I kept this goop on for hours, just to see if it went anywhere.

It didn't. carries both Argenteé (at $75 for a bottle or $3 for a tester, and I'd test it- I loved it, but remember, I love Miel de Bois..) and Luctor at $165. Since Play-Doh is ten bucks, you can get two bottles of something nice from luckyscent and still get the LeM effect if you really need it.

Aomassai is available at Parfumerie Generale website, and Rahat Loukoum is available here if you are lucky enough to have a friend who lives in the EU and is willing to ship to you, or you live in the EU.