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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Wednesday Blues

February doldrums and a blogger's block just wouldn't let me write a proper review today. In an attempt to cheer up myself and to perhaps jump-start the part of my brain (such as it is) that is responsible for my creativity (such as that is), I decided to compile yet another wish list. The following are the random scents I discovered and realized I urgently needed by idly browsing online perfume stores.

Parfum1 is selling Yves Rocher Ispahan, $39.95 for 2.5oz. Seeing it there brought back the memories of being in my last year of high school and crazy in love...As far as I remember it, Ispahan smelled very dark, very rich, a dangerous, wicked potion. I am very tempted to buy it.

Cambridge Chemists offer Czech and Speake Oxford & Cambridge, $100.00 for 100ml. The scent has been on my To-Try list for ages, and although I suspect it might be too sharp for my taste, I am itching to buy it unsniffed. I miss Oxford...And I have this silly idea that wearing Oxford & Cambridge would miraculously help me achieve the posh, plummy English accent I always wanted. Wishful thinking. If living in the UK for five years haven't done it, no lavender perfume ever would. I am forever stuck with what Mr. Colombina calls "a cute Russian accent" (yeah, whatever). Still, mustn't grumble.

B-glowing offers an intriguing new tuberose fraghrance, Voluspa Tuberosa Agave, $24.00 for 16.5ml. With notes of Mexican tuberose, blue orris, coconut milk, musk and vetiver, it sounds jolly good (I can at least pretend I speak with a posh English accent, can't I?) and makes me think that it might be slightly reminiscent of Tubereuse Couture and Noix de Tubereuse, both of which I love.

Your Cosmetics now has in stock some new Esteban scents. I was underwhelmed by Sensuelle Russie, a.k.a Ambre Narguile Lite, but I am curious about Douceur Balinaise (bergamot, cardamom, nutmeg, musk, jasmine, ylang ylang, lotus flowers, iris, sandalwood). It sounds like it might turn out to be the kind of spicy floral that I like, it is cheap ($38.00 for 100ml!), and the packaging is super-cute...Being bored and feeling blue is dangerous for one's wallet.

Also at Your Cosmetics is Antica Farmacista's Tuberose, Hyacinth and Lily of the Valley, a scent I meant to try for a while now. I've been wearing their Casablanca every day for the last month, and, as a newborn White Floral Lover, I have my hopes high for this luscious-sounding bouquet. $58.00 for 50ml.

Luckyscent got new Profumums, and Dulcis, which they describe as "dessert at its irresistible best: whipped cream being licked off fingers, fits of giggles fueled by liqueur, suggestive whispers over shared spoonfuls", sounds lovely if rather overpriced and possibly reminiscent of my beloved Psychedelic by Rich Hippie. Having said that, on this bleak Wednesday morning I feel that $195.00 might not be too high a price to pay for a fit of giggles.

Neiman Marcus is fueling my wonderlast by telling stories about a sailing adventure that inspired Creed's new scent, Virgin Island Water. With notes of essence of copra, lime, white bergamot, mandarin orange, hibiscus, ginger, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sugar cane, white rum and musk, it sounds something I'd love to drink as well as to spritz. "Take me away, carriage, carry me off, frigate!" $185.00-$285.00.

And some more hibiscus on my wish list (I blame Chanel No 18!) is courtesy of Strange Invisible Perfumes Galatea at Barney's. I grew up reading Greek myths and you can sell me almost anything if you give it a mythological name ...and add some hibiscus.

What's on your wish list, this gloomy Wednesday?

The caricature of Greta Garbo by Nino Za is from

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Perfume Review: Les Exclusifs de Chanel - Bel Respiro

Bel Respiro was inspired by Chanel's home of the same name, which she bought in 1920 in then still-bucolic Garches, a Paris suburb not far from Versailles. The house, in which Mlle entertained Diaghilev, Picasso, Cocteau and Stravinsky, was a tasteful affair of beige stucco and black shutters, very elegant, very Chanel. Polge's green, fresh, refined creation very successfully evokes that chic and idyllic place.

Bel Respiro seems to me to be paying a subtle homage both to Cristalle and No 19; it has the cold, silvery, transparent freshness of the former, and the deep, juicy greenness of the latter. The top notes are almost shockingly green, they are leafy, even slightly herbal, and it is in the top notes where Bel Respiro is the most reminiscent of No 19 with its galbanum-hyacinth-iris intensity. The heart of the scent, while still maintaining the overall green effect, is delicately-floral, breezy, at times even slightly watery - dew glistening on the leaves and petals in a pastoral garden. Apart from the forceful beginning, the fragrance is rather quiet, a green skin scent if ever there was one, but it lasts surprisingly long on my skin. Granted, to discern the drydown, I have to put my nose right to my wrist, but what I smell then is fabulous. The base features the return of a herbal note that I smelled in the beginning (thyme?) ; in the last stage of its development Bel Respiro acquires dry, almost leathery greenness, which I find to be extremely a casual but superbly tailored Chanel style.

Bel Respiro is available at Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman, $175.00 for 200ml.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hopeful Rant: Reading Burr's Latest Column and Wishing for the Battle of Giants

In his latest column in New York Times, Chandler Burr tells the story of Guerlain in reverse, puzzling about the house's 2006 mass release, Insolence. I've been asking myself the same question- This is Guerlain?- for a while now. "Why did LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton buy this gem of a house if the gem is to be mounted in tin?", wonders Burr. I too would like to know the answer. "Equally baffling: Insolence was made by an extremely talented perfumer, Maurice Roucel". Indeed.

According to Burr, LVMH chairman, Bernard Arnault, "understands that of all the LVMH brands, only Guerlain can combat Chanel". It seems to me that the two go head to head in the area of "exclusives" (L'Art et la Matière vs Les Exclusifs de Chanel), and actually Chanel was lagging far behind till now, and, in fact, still can't quite compete with Guerlain where the sheer number of "exclusives" is concerned (only ten compared to Guerlain's aforementioned L'Art et la Matière, Les Parisiennes, and all the re-reissues and limited editions). In the area of mass releases, Chanel has been riding on the (to me, inexplicable) success of their Chance for quite a while, and is overdue to offer something new (completely new, sequels to Chance do not count). Guerlain should probably hurry too and release something fabulous or at least good to make up for Insolence. As far as I am concerned, Chanel and Guerlain are on the even ground and I am rooting for both.

While I am off on a rant, I'll say that I am rooting for Dior just as much, if not more. It is my hope that the impact of Chanel's Exclusifs will finally wake Dior from its long slumber (in the area of feminine scents, since Dior has been doing quite well in the masculine), put it into a competitive mode and make it a) to re-release the classics like Diorling, Diorama and Dior-Dior for perhaps an exclusive but wider distribution and b) to live up to its past glory and produce something new and fantastic, be it "a niche scent within a luxury brand" or a quality mass release...

To put the long story short, I hope that these three (former) Perfume Giants will be restored to their past glory and will start battling for our affection by trying to outshine each other by producing beautiful, original scents. Is this a completely utopian dream?...Please, don't answer that.

Long Live The Queen!

Exquisite. My absolute favorite of the Oscars night. I imagine her wearing Chamade.

Image source, Wire Image, Eonline.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Articles about Nobi Shioya and Christophe Laudamiel

The Boston Globe and Perfumer & Flavorist published interesting articles about the perfumer Christophe Laudamiel (Thierry Mugler Perfume Le Coffret, S-Perfume S-ex) and Nobi Shioya, "a surfer turned sculptor turned fragrance house founder [who] pushes the bounds of niche scents".

"There's too much confusion, too much secrecy (...) I think perfumery should be raised to the same level as music, and painting, and architecture. With a symphony orchestra, you can see all the music, you can see all the instruments, and in the end it's still magical. When you're educated, you can determine the true value of things, and you can make better choices. It's time for that same level of education to occur with scent." (Cristophe Laudamiel. From Making Perfect Scents. The Boston Globe, February 22, 2007)

“The way I approach each project is not that different from the way I sculpt (...) Creating art always has the aspect of reconstructing something that exists. For instance, if I’m going to sculpt a figure, I will take the model apart in my head and in preparatory drawings and then, once that process is done, I will reconstruct that figure the way I want to see it.” (Noby Shioya. From The Next Wave, Part 1. Perfumer & Flavorist, February 21, 2007)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Made by Blog, Nobi, Katie and Yours Truly in WWD

WWD has published an article about Made by Blog. The article, rather puzzlingly entitled IFF Blog Offers Behind-the-Scenes Look at Fragrance Creation, describes the idea behind the project, our two fragrances and how fun and challenging the perfumers, Clement Gavarry and Laurent Le Guernec, find it to create the scents for two bloggers, Katie of Scentzilla and yours truly of Perfume-Smellin' Things. The reason why I find the title, "IFF Blog...", and the focus on IFF "shaking up the traditional formula for creating a fragrance" puzzling, is simply because the blog and the idea are Nobi's and it is he who is shaking the formula. Of course, big thank you and kudos to IFF for allowing the project to happen and for the two of their perfumers to work with us. And being talked about in WWD is a big honor.

Since the article is by subscription only, I am going to post an excerpt here, and many thanks to Robin of NowSmellThis for making it possible for me to read the whole article.
With the help of an artist and two bloggers, International Flavors & Fragrances is shaking up the traditional formula for creating a fragrance.

The project is the brainchild of artist Nobi Shioya, who wanted to experiment with the fragrance development process by including the input of two passionate consumers. It started last May when IFF perfumers Clement Gavarry and Laurent Le Guernec began working with fragrance bloggers Marina Geigert, of perfumesmellin­, and Katrina Voll-Taylor, of The goal: for the perfumers to create each woman's "dream fragrance."

To follow the process online, Shioya created a blog called "Made by Blog," which tracks every step in the development of the fragrances. After receiving specifications from Voll-Taylor and Geigert, the perfumers send them samples for feedback. Le Guernec, best known for his work on Michael by Michael Kors and Marc Jacobs Rain, is working on Voll-Taylor's fragrance, called Auxeos. Gavarry, who created Carolina by Carolina Herrera and Matthew Williamson, has teamed up with Geigert to create a scent called Holy Grail. Also, the two perfumers worked together to create Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker. Both fragrances are due to be finished by July.

Le Guernec said that Voll-Taylor was looking for "leathery, animalistic, sexy notes" for her Auxeos scent that were not commonly found in today's market. "We're pushing the notes further from what we do usually," said Le Guernec. "This triggers lots of new ideas and the desire to explore new territory." On the other hand, Geigert wanted a "spicy scent" for her fragrance, which she had already named Holy Grail — and wanted Gavarry to use notes like cardamom, saffron, iris, vanilla, musk, sandalwood, cedar, cinnamon and amber.

"These types of animalistic and sexy notes are hard to balance," said Gavarry. "You have to really stretch the boundaries. For me, it's a nice challenge to work for one person and have fun." (The whole text can be found here)

Perfume Review: Spirit of the Tiger by Heeley

Review by Kelley

James Heeley, an Englishman now living in Paris , attended Kings College , London , and almost became a Barrister at Law by the age of 23. Instead of a career in law, he became famous after designing zinc vases for a Parisian florist named Christian Tortu. These startling vases look like steel flashing (roofing material) that is bent into interesting shapes. He now considers himself a designer of interior spaces with his main theme being nature contrasting urbanism. He sells vases, mirrors, chairs, and lighting…and perfume? He has several fragrances on the market including a fig scent and a wonderful leather fragrance simply called Fine Leather (a leather mixed with equal parts violet!).

I decided for this review to try an experiment. Oooh, this is going to be fun. As Spirit of the Tiger was inspired by the famous topical analgesic, Tiger Balm, I applied the fragrance to the back of my left hand and Tiger Balm to the back of the right hand.

The listed notes of Spirit of the Tiger are: Camphor, Mint, Cardamom, and Clove. The list for Tiger Balm is: Camphor, Menthol, Cajuput Oil (also known as Tea Tree Oil), Cassia Oil (a type of cinnamon often called Chinese Cinnamon) and Clove.

After application, they both smell very similar but there are one or two differences. Spirit of the Tiger is exactly that, a ghost compared to the real thing. Wow, the Tiger Balm comes out roaring! There is a burst of camphor and cloves and even cinnamon from both but the Heeley hand is tame in comparison. I smell very little cardamom in the Heeley and I wish there was much more. The other main difference is that the Tiger Balm hand is tingly and has that hot and cold thing going on. I should also point out that the Tiger Balm website warned about getting this near your privates or near your eyes or mucous membranes and also (I found this odd) “Keep out of reach and sight of children”, I don’t know, maybe it causes nightmares if you stare at it?

After the first hour, the Heeley side is pretty calm. It’s mostly cloves with a little cinnamon. The Tiger Balm side is still STRONG with the menthol and camphor still upfront and personal. I can smell a little clove and a little cinnamon beginning to come through.

At two hours there isn’t much difference in either. No development or changes in strength.

After three hours, the Heeley is almost gone and is almost all clove oil. The Tiger Balm hand is also pretty faint with mostly cloves and cinnamon remaining. The Tiger Balm hand is still tingly and slightly red.

At four hours, I smell slight cloves on both hands but just slight. It really is spooky how close these two are in smell and progression. If you like cloves then Spirit of the Tiger is for you. And, I mean, if you like cloves and just cloves. After a little while there isn’t really anything else and I suspect that if you get this on your clothes you will smell like a giant pomander ball for days. I am going to pass on this one since I already have Tiger Balm.

Heeley’s Spirit of the Tiger Eau de Parfum is listed at $85 for 3.4 oz and is available at Luckyscent. Tiger Balm is about $8 for the 1.7 oz jar and is available at most health food stores and pharmacies.

The photos of James Heeley and his work are courtesy of his website: and the photo of Spirit of the Tiger is from The photo of Tiger Balm is from

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perfume Review: Juozas by Juozas Statkevicius

Review by Tom

Colombina pretty much said it all- it's a wonderful incense scent with notes of "notes of jasmine, patchouli, coriander, incense, amber, cashmere wood, vanilla, benzoin and musk". It is incense- but am I insane getting a camphor note in the beginning?

Some niche houses seem to thrive on scents that challenge your expectations; I happen to love arguably the biggest "offender", Serge Lutens, but I can understand where some people may look upon the scents with the eye-rolling annoyance reserved for Top Chef's Marcel and his endless foams. I can see that sometimes you just want to smell pretty. I don't at all want to sound like I damning this one with faint praise: it is as much as an olfactory joy-ride as any Lutens out there.

It does not need to shock however: all of its stages, from its camphored incensed opening, it'd dusky fruity middle to its heavenly (literally, still with the incense) musky drydown are brilliantly dense, gorgeously feminine (but not so much so that I would not wear it in a heartbeat- it's feminine in the way that the photo for the perfume is: the Helmut Newtonesque blonde in a top hat and jacket. Did the perfume rub off on you from her, or vice-versa?) and incredibly, stunningly gorgeous. Yes, I am being effusive. Not only because I am slightly crazy about this, but in the fond hope that one more review will tell Mr. Statkevicius that he needs to get this here right this minute.

The perfume is only available at his atelier. This must change.

PS- this was originally going to be a short review, since the lovely person who passed on the sample sent a group of others as well that I thought I'd review at the same time. Since I've rambled on this long (and kind of want to smell this one more), I'll save the others for the next time.

Edited to add: Our collective wails have been heard. Juozas is now sold at BeautyHabit, $165.00 for 50ml. The rumour has it that Luckyscent will be getting it too, very soon. Tom says that Mr. Statkevicius agreed to make his scent available in the US simply to avoid the hassle of filing a restraining order against him. At least for the perfume. At least for now...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Perfume Review: Les Exclusifs de Chanel - Coromandel

Whereas 31 Rue Cambon represented the duality, the balance and the conflict between the sober elegance of Chanel’s fashions and luxurious extravagance of her tastes and private surroundings, Coromandel breaks free from the chic confines of refinement and pays homage to the baroque. The scent was inspired by lacquered Coromandel screens, which Chanel adored and collected, and with which her private apartments on the Rue Cambon was said to be practically packed.

I am not quite sure what to make of Coromandel. On the one hand, it reminds me of a plethora of scents and I am tempted to proclaim it unoriginal and derivative. I have heard Coromandel being compared to Borneo 1834; however it completely lacks the camphorous aspect, which for me is a very important part of Borneo, something that actually constitutes its identity. The beginning of Coromandel is more comparable to a patchouli soliflore. Not just any pale, dry soliflore, but something deep and sumptuous, perhaps something like Il Profumo’s Patchouli Noir. The patchouli note here paints an image of luscious, black soil, the kind one is tempted to run through one’s fingers, sniffing the raw, strangely sweet smell. After the wondrously rich beginning, the note looses some of its oomph and becomes patchouli as rendered in so many Angel-inspired scents. At that point it especially reminds me of Prada. Luckily, the Prada stage does not last long either; in a little while an unexpectedly fruity accord creeps in, the same one that I smell in Black Orchid, honeyed, candied, overripe, dark, with an incense-like undertone. The scent becomes softer, fluffier, more vanillic. I believe I also smell some myrrh here. The base has a certain delicate, ambery spiciness which reminds me of the drydown in Fifi Chachnil, which, in turn reminds me of gentler Obsession, so in a way the base notes of Coromandel remind me of that fearsome Klein classic. And so you understand my problem: so many similarities, with so many scents, that can’t be good, right? And yet…

And yet, every time I wear Coromandel, I cannot stop sniffing myself compulsively. The sheer amount of changes it undergoes is enthralling. It is a kaleidoscope of a scent, it never stays the same. It also has a strangely delicious quality about it, it is almost edible in a way…The patchouli is beautifully rich; the vanillic-woody-incensey drydown is wonderfully comforting. It might not be the most original of the six Exclusifs, but it is extremely attractive, at times even striking. It is easy to love and I have a feeling it might become the best selling new Chanel. Do I need it? I know that I don’t need a 200ml vat of it, but perhaps, when my miniature is empty, I will spring for a decant or even split a bottle with somebody.

Coromandel is available in Chanel boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman, $175.00 for 200ml

The photo of Chanel apartment is from, the image of the bottle is from

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Parfums MDCI Rename the Scents

From my email inbox to your ears- Parfums MDCI have renamed their scents.

FK1 is now called Promesse de l'Aube
FK2 is Rose de Siwa
FK3 is Enlévement au Sérail
SB1 is Invasion Barbare
PB1 is Ambre Topkapi

Says Claude Marchal, the creator of Parfums MDCI:
"The names are the product of my imagination, memories, a glass or two of good wine, and serendipity. Several evoke the Orient (Rose de Siwa for the magical oasis of the Egyptian desert, a childhood memory and a lovely word, Ambre Topkapi is reminiscent of the famous Turkish palace of same name and its fabulous riches, and "Enlèvement au Sérail" ( "Abduction in the Harem") is both evocative of the Orient and of the Mozart's opera and its intrigues.

The most unexpected is "Invasion Barbare", which struck me one night. It is absolutely unexpected, but it seemed to fit immediately, it goes against conventions and will certainly be well memorized, which is OK for such a sucessful fragrance."

The scents are available at and can be pre-ordered at Luckyscent.

7th Annual Basenotes Awards. The results are in.

Basenoters have voted and decided that Perfume-Smellin' Things was worthy of a Bronze medal in the category Best Fragrance Blog. Not only was it an honor to be nominated, I am beyond flattered to be standing in the final lineup next to such super talented Titans of Perfume Blogging as Robin of Now Smell This (Gold) and Victoria of Bois de Jasmin (Silver). Woohoo and Thank You! (Incidentally, my beloved Black Orchid took bronze too, in the Best New Fragrance category. Coincidence?..)

Who else won...Chanel No 5 took best Women's Fragrance, Egoiste very deservedly took Men's. Best Niche scents were Carnal Flower (women) and Bois du Portugal (men). Guerlain beat Lutens to the title of Best Fragrance House. You can read the list in full on Basenotes.

Image source, Getty Images.

Reflections on "Haute Couture" in Perfume and a Review: Querelle by Parfumerie Generale

There was recently a discussion in the comments to one of the posts whether the term haute couture can be applied to perfume, and if so, how. What haute couture means to me is Fashion as Art, and if we agree that perfume is or in certain instances can be Art as well, then the use of the term haute couture, or rather haute parfumerie, is fitting and justified. Haute Couture creations are expressions of designer’s creativity (almost completely) unrestrained by considerations of wearability and useability in every day life. Very expensive (only the best materials, handmade, etc.), very original, sometimes strange, at times downright bizarre- this is haute couture. Haute couture is where the trends originate in their purest, unrepressed, original form. From there they will be translated into daily fashion, adopted to contemporary lifestyle, tamed and made wearable. An example of a haute couture perfume (and actually produced by a very haute couture designer) that started a trend and launched thousands smell-alikes? Angel! We are so used to it now, perhaps it doesn’t strike us as exceptionally remarkable anymore, but when it was first created, it was truly groundbreaking.

A fashion or perfume creation does not have to be odd to be considered haute couture. Originality is not always synonimous with strangeness, often it lies in absolute perfection, harmony and classicism of the lines (or the notes). Older Chanels are haute couture, as are the classic Diors, Guerlains and Carons. They have depth, they are built on unique ideas, they are unlike anything else, but I would not call them bizarre. Other creations achieve that haute couture quality by being utterly strange. Comme des Garcons fashions and perfumes are a perfect example. I feel that here, in the land of quirky, weird and outlandish, perfumes walk a particularly fine line between being bizarre yet full of meaning and soul and just being bizarre for the sake of setting themselves apart from everyone else. As with everything else, judging the one from the other is a very subjective matter. What is soulless, meaningless and pretentious for me, would touch another’s heart. Having said that, a couple of Comme des Garcons creations, for instance Guerilla No 1, had, to me, that shallow feeling of “we are Comme des Garcons and we must be weird no matter what”. There are also some perfume makers that attempt to achieve originality taking a shortcut through the route of not simply strange, but downright Shocking. If it is sordid, obscene and outrageous, it must be unique, think they (I am looking at you, Etat Libre d’Orange).

Beloved classical haute couture perfumes like Chanels and Diors aside, my favorite type of a haute couture fragrance is the one that successfully combines the bizarre with the beautiful, the one where strange, unappealing notes are functional and not just there for the shock value. Many Serge Lutens creations are there on the mount Olympus of Couture. The new kids on the block, Parfumerie Generale, have, in my opinion, also already proved themselves able to infuse their fragrances with strangness in a way that does not push them over the edge into the territory of superficial and affected.

And that –finally!- brings me to today’s perfume, Querelle. Inspired by Jean Genet’s book of the same name (and, I can only assume, by Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film as well), Querelle is, to me, most definitely a haute couture scent. It is strange and beautiful (ugly-beautiful would be a better word, perhaps), eccentric and refined. With notes of citruses, black caraway (aka black cumin), myrrh, cinnamon, vetiver, incense, oakmoss, and ambergris, the perfume is a picture of a bleak, deccicated landscape, right out of some violent and surreal dream. It speaks to me about dust, roots, the color grey, the cruelty and the utter loneliness. The beginning is darkly-spicy and a little earthy. From the middle stage forward I start to smell quite a bit of myrrh and I think that it is the one note that brings all the striking ingredients together, softens and sweetens them a little; it is the note that adds “beautiful” to the “strange” and thus elevates the composition to the level of couture. The drydown should delight the fellow vetiver lovers. Combined with incense and moss, vetiver here smells deep and intoxicating, a brutal, witchy, bitter smell, erotic and evil.

Querelle is sold at Luckyscent, $80.00 for 50ml. It also available at Parfumerie Generale online boutique, where Querelle can be found in regular and higher concentration.

The images of Thierry Mugler and Christian Dior designs are from

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Perfume Review: Les Exclusifs de Chanel - 31 Rue Cambon

31 Rue Cambon was inspired by Chanel's legendary boutique, “brightened by vast chandeliers but restrained by bold, sober pillars and cold mirrored walls” (Allure, February 2007, p. 180) Mlle Chanel famously favored (and made chic and popular) simple cuts, uncluttered designs, restrained, clean lines in fashion, but was a big fan of an abundance of jewelry and loved to surround herself with luxurious objects. When Jacques Polge first saw Chanel’s apartment, he was rather shocked by how little the place corresponded with his impression -“well-cut clothes, simplicity”- of Chanel (Allure, February 2007, p. 181). 31 Rue Cambon very successfully conveys Chanel’s duality, that irresistible combination of austere and opulent.

The beginning of 31 boasts bergamot aplenty, juicy, fresh and not in the least sweet. I have never held a bergamot fruit in my hands and never had to peel it, but I imagine that if I did, it would smell just like this, tangy, unripe, and a little bitter. On some days, the citrus accord is particularly strong and lasts for a long time. On such days, the scent almost completely skips the heart notes and goes straight to the green-earthy drydown on my skin. At times like this, I understand why 31 Rue Cambon was called (oakmoss-less) chypre. It smells dry, leathery, aloof, like a cold beauty in a severely tailored Chanel suit. More often, however, the burst of bergamot in the beginning is short-lived and the scent lingers in its middle stage, or as I call it, the Luxurious Stage. At that stage 31 Rue Cambon becomes a soft, warm, enveloping, floral-ambery confection of a scent, along the lines of Guet-Apens. I am not the first one to notice the similarity, and I think that the sweet iris note in the heart of 31, combined with the multifaceted, ambery/ incensey/ slightly leathery/ vaguely animalic labdanum and sweet sandalwood is what makes the scent reminiscent of Guerlain’s beautiful creation. Funnily enough, the first time I smelled Guet-Apens, it struck me as a Chanel kind of scent, not a Guerlain, although for the life of me I cannot satisfactorily explain even for myself the reason why. Coming back to 31 Rue Cambon, the middle stage also features a slightly peppery, cinnamon-y, carnation-like accord that makes me think of Chanel’s perhaps most opulent perfume to date, Coco. During this middle stage, 31 becomes more of a floral-oriental scent rather than a chypre.

The drydown finishes the development of the scent in a rather unexpected manner. I smell quite a bit of patchouli and a lot of vetiver. Together they create a dark-green, earthy accord, the presence of which I find surprising and extremely appealing in this chic, urbane creation inspired by a couture salon. It this brooding, a little leathery, peppery base the chypre nature of the perfume again becomes apparent. 31 Rue Cambon strikes me as perhaps the most complex of the six Exclusifs. It is full of nuances, little details and subtle twists, it keeps changing every second on my skin and seems a little different each time I wear it. I find it fascinating, intricate, extremely well-constructed and incredibly beautiful. It is without a doubt full bottle worthy for me.

31 Rue de Cambon is available in Chanel boutiques and in Bergdorf Goodman, $175.00 for 200ml.

The photo of Coco Chanel is from

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Happy Lunar New Year!

I hope the Fire Pig is kind to this Fire Dragon and to all of us. And here is wishing for the year of wonderful new perfume discoveries!

Some scents that were released in previous Years of the Pig:

Caron Narcisse Noir
Crown Perfumery Eau de Russe
Guerlain Kadine

D'Orsay Le Dandy
Guerlain Bouquet de Faunes
Houbigant Au Bois

E.Coudray Ambre et Vanille
Jean Patou Normandie
Lancome Tropiques
Lubin Nuit de Longchamp

1947 (Year of Fire Pig too!)
Balenciaga Le Dix
Balmain Vent Vert
Caron Farnesiana
Dior Miss Dior
Guerlain Fol Arome

Creed Jasmal
Givenchy Monsieur de Givenchy
Gres Cabochard

Chanel No 19
Clinique Aromatics Elixir
Lancome Sikkim
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche

Amouage Gold and Gold for Men
A.Goutal Eau de Camille and Passion
Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle
Ungaro Diva
Yves Saint Laurent Paris

Antonia's Flower Floret
Burbery Burberry for Women and for Men
Comme des Garcons White
Dior Dolce Vita
Estee Lauder Pleasures
Hanae Mori Butterfly
Hermes 24, Faubourg
Jo Malone Fleurs de la Foret & more

Notes from Michael Kors: Glenplaid, Houndstooth and Tattersall

I was browsing, and came upon the 2001 article by Jane Larkworthy, called Michael Kors: The Mix Master. It related the story behind the creation of three Kors fragrances, of which I have only vaguely heard before, and about which there is very little information on the web, called Notes from Michael Kors - Glenplaid, Houndstooth and Tattersall. Apparently, in 2001 Michael Kors decided to release scents inspired by his Fall collection. That collection was described by Kors himself as "posh country" (the style that, I will admit, I love) and "a luxe graphic take on equestrian chic." Together with Camille McDonald, president and CEO of Michael Kors Fragrances, Kors “dissected the Michael fragrance, searching for the notes they thought best corresponded to the plaids. Ultimately, three new scents were created, poured into separate bottles, wrapped up in a tattersall lining and packaged together under the name Notes From Michael, with a personal missive from the master himself explaining the concept. And, as with the ready-to-wear line, mix and match is the name of the game. "Just as my client feels the freedom to wear the tank top with the ball gown, we want her to feel the same liberty with these three notes," Kors says. "Dressing to her particular style is how a woman really lives."

Glenplaid is a fabric featuring a woven design of small and large checks. The name glen plaid was derived from the valley of Glen Urquhart in Inverness-shire, Scotland. Glen Plaid is often nicknamed the Prince of Wales check. According to Basenotes, Kors Glenplaid has notes of tuberose, white musk and lotus.

Houndstooth design is small, distinctively broken-check pattern that resembles the jagged back teeth of a hound (think Dior). According to Basenotes, Kors Houndstooth has notes of freesia, Japanese pearl blossom and ylang ylang

Tattersall is a fabric with an over check, approximately one half inch square made with colored lines in both directions with a contrasting background. Again, according to Basenotes, Kors Tattersall has notes of leather, cedar, amber and bourbon, and this is of course the one I would like to try the most.

If you have tried any of these three scents, please share impressions!

The first images is from

Saturday, February 17, 2007

On a To-Try List: K. Hall Designs Scents

I don't think that this is a new line, but it was new to me. K. Hall Designs specializes in "bath, body and home care products, including reed diffusers, candles, sheet sprays, perfumes, bath gels and salts, shea butter lotions and triple milled soaps made from high quality essential oils and other natural ingredients." The have a collection of perfumes, and some of them sound rather appealing: Cocoa Almond, Cypress and Cassis, Egyptian Jasmine, Fig, Flax Linen (really want to try this one), Grapefruit Mint, Lavender, Lilac, Milk (intriguing!), Moss, Nag Champa, Orange Amber, Persimmon, Pomegranate, Rose Geranium and Verbena. The perfumes cost $38.00 for 2oz.

If you have tried any of these scent, please share impressions!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Parfumerie Generale Private Collection scents and Tubereuse Couture at Luckyscent

Four scents from Parfumerie Generale's Private Collection, Bois de Copaiba, Cedre Sandaraque, Corps et Ames, and Querelle, as well as Tubereuse Couture, are now available at Luckyscent, $80.00-$90.00 for 50ml. Incidentally, last week I prepared a long, long review of Querelle, but have gotten excited by The Chanels and did not have a chance to post it. It is coming on Monday.

Perfume Review: Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie

Review by Kelley

n 1760, James Henry Creed an English saddle maker opened the House of Creed in London. Queen Victoria soon fell in love with Creed’s creations and appointed him the official perfumer of the Royal household. The small boutique was eventually moved to Paris in 1854 under the patronage of Empress Eugenie, where it remains today. The company is currently run by Olivier Creed (the sixth generation descendent) who is supposedly grooming his son, Erwin, to succeed him.

According to The Independent on Sunday (the Sunday Review March 23, 2003: “[Olivier] Creed is now widely regarded as the world’s greatest living “nose”, capable of identifying the ingredients in any fragrance, and distinguishing, for example, different types of rose by scent alone.” I included that quote because it touches on my featured scent. The Creed website also points out that Olivier Creed insists on using natural essences instead of sythetic ones. I will let you draw your own conclusions with that one.

I found the following list of notes for Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie on, an Italian perfume website. I left it in Italian because it sounds so much more romantic and it’s still very easy to understand.

Note di testa: Bergamotto

Note di cuore: Rosa Bulgaria

Note de fondo: Ambra Grigia, Rosa, and Musk

I was given a bottle of Fleurs de Bulgarie for Christmas last year. My first thought upon spraying this on my wrist was…”what the hell was my uncle Steve thinking”? I thought it was the most feminine smelling thing I had ever encountered. The advertising that mentions how it was created for Queen Victoria didn’t help matters. I was offended. After all, I am fragrance freak and very picky at that. Looking back, I bet I know what happened. My uncle probably went up to the creed counter and smelled a card and all he got was pure base notes and for this fragrance it’s ambergris. Uncle Steve, if you are reading this, I have grown to love this fragrance but it took me a while!

For me, this isn’t a rose scent at all; it’s all about the ambergris. It does, however, open with a burst of the most velvety dark red Bulgarian rose (and I am sure very expensive) that is accented with a lusciously juicy bergamot orange. The fruit is slight and it reminds me of the fruity smell of certain roses that have a hint of citrus. This is probably as close as you can get to smelling a David Austin old fashioned rose as you can get without getting stung by a bee or pricked by a thorn. This is a romantic rose and not a sexy one. I would say the rose is very clean and bright. However, and here comes the twist…it doesn’t last long. While the Italian website lists rose in the base notes, I don’t think so. The fruity rose opens the fragrance and seduces you like a glance of a beautiful stranger from across a crowded room. You find yourself wrapped in velvety, seductive glances that quickens your heartbeat and draws you across the room. You approach the lovely stranger and suddenly you realize that it’s somebody else standing there and not your fantasy. You see, after about 15 minutes the rose is slight and the ambergris mixed with musk completely takes over. This perfume is really all about ambergris.

Ambergris, or gray amber, according to, is a dull and waxy substance that is variegated like marble. It is a natural secretion of sperm whales thought to be caused by their diet of squid. This secretion is expelled and floats on the ocean. After months and sometimes years, ambergris changes from a white color to dark gray and black and takes on a smell that is somehow sweet and earthy and animalic and marine, all at the same time. The collection of ambergris is illegal in the United States according the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. For heaven’s sake, it’s whale vomit! I wonder how the house of Creed gets around this law forbidding the selling, buying, importing/exporting of real ambergris…hmmmm? There are many synthetic sources of ambergris-like notes, including an extraction of clary sage (sclareol), and the chemical ambrox.

Fleurs de Bulgarie, as I said, is all about ambergris. After the rose and bergamot notes fade, I smell the most wonderful ambergris imaginable. I have read reviews that this smells like soap…well, that’s because ambergris is often used to scent soap. To me this smells like taking a deep breath from on top of a mountain. It is a clean, cool, natural smell. There are times when I think it smells like clean skin because of its slight animal nature. This lasts about 10 hours on my skin and longer is it gets on my clothes. This has now grown on me to the point that it is in my top 5 all time scents! Thanks again, uncle Steve!

Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie is found wherever Creed fragrances are sold. The photos of the Creed Boutique are from their website. The David Austin roses are from and the ambergris photo is from


It seems that Blogger decided to speed the transition to what they call a "New Blogger" by basically forcing everyone to switch/move their blogs there. That means that, in order to sign in to your Blogger account to leave comments, you might have to go through some steps ...not difficult at all, just an annoying inconvenience. If you have any problems with that, the Anonymous Comment Option is always available, and allows you to leave comments without signing in to Blogger.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Perfume Review: Les Exclusifs de Chanel - No. 18

Guerlain has been busy lately, re-issuing old, forgotten scents, releasing all sorts of aquas and pink fleurchons for the mass market, and building their “exclusive” collection. Dior, while not making me happy in the least with their endless sequels to Poison, did experiment a little (and with great success, as far as I am concerned!) with boutique-style scents, in the form of Hedi Slimane’s men’s colognes. All the while Chanel was lying low, seemingly doing nothing to impress us, perfume maniacs, biding its time…and then - Ba-bumm! - in one go it launched not one, not two, but six new scents, and re-launched four classics. Unless the competitors hurry up and come up with something just as huge and impressive, 2007 will be the year of Chanel, and deservedly so. I will admit that the sheer number of the new Chanels bothered me a little; I was wondering whether the quantity would not negate quality. I shouldn’t have worried. Les Exclusifs are masterfully done, a couple of them seem to be truly unique; many of us should be able to find among them at least one scent to love.

The six new Chanels were “based on the complicated trajectory of the founder’s difficult and flamboyant life. They are also the scents she cherished, outdoors and at home” (Allure, Feb. 2007, page 178). No.18 is an homage to Chanel jewelry (and, to me, a jewel among the new releases). The first Fine Jewelry collection, Bijous de Diamant, which consisted of platinum and diamond pieces, was launched by Mlle Chanel in 1932. In 1997, a worldwide flagship fine jewelry boutique was opened by the company on 18 Place Vendôme in Paris. It was the boutique that inspired Jacques Polge to create No 18. Allegedly, the scent, built around the ambrette seed, is Maitre’s personal favorite (The Australian), and that does not surprise me in the least. Of the six, No 18 strikes me as the most unique, in a way that I find hard to describe. The fragrance defies my attempts at classification: is it fruity? is it floral? is it musky? What IS this cool, shimmering, indeed jewel-like creation?

No 18 starts surprisingly raw; for a minute or two, in the very beginning, it displays the earthy quality I adore in iris scents, the cold, rooty smell very vaguely reminiscent of - funny as it sounds- carrots. A hint of fruity-citrusy brightness appears and disappears, illuminating the composition in the same way in which light reflects on the facets of a diamond. The ambrette seed lends to the scent the elusive, intangible quality: it is floral, but does not smell of any one particular flower, it is fruity in the vaguest way possible, and it has a very distinct musky characteristic, which adds an unexpected, subtly-animalic undertone to No 18, making it evocative not just of jewels as such, but of jewels worn on a warm, clean, smooth, human skin. Another surprising aspect of No 18 is its slight boozy-ness. My H&R Guide to Fragrance Ingredients informs me that ambrette seed has a distinct Cognac note; what I smell, however, is not Cognac as much as sweet, thick, white wine of some sort, with a fruity aftertaste. The jewelry glistening on the beautiful, silky skin, the feeling of slight intoxication and exhilaration – this is No 18. The scent is seemingly simple, one has to truly pay attention to distinguish the nuances of its development, but the simplicity is deceptive in the way that the simplicity of precious jewels is deceptive. One moment they lay apparently one-dimensional and uni-colored, and then the light hits one of the facets and the gems start to shimmer and sparkle and come to life.

No 18 speaks to me about the opalescent surface of pearls, about the cold, dazzling transparency of diamonds. It is chic in the true Chanel style, which means that it is elegantly understated, without excessive ornamentations. As for the sillage and lasting power, the perfume is soft, stays fairly close to the skin, but the lasting power is very good. Six hours after the application, I can still smell the smooth musk and the slightly drunken fruitiness. I have yet to test and re-test the other Exclusifs, but so far No 18 is my favorite, and is definitely full bottle worthy for me.

No 18 is available in Chanel boutiques, $175.00 for 200ml.

The first image is mine. The photos of 18 Place Vendome, of Chanel exhibiting her first jewelry collection, and of a necklace from the 2005 Elements Celeste collection are from

Nice Surprise

The wonderful Philadelphia site,, had some nice things to say about Perfume-Smellin' Things. I am sure they are being so lovely to us, because we are their natives, but still...The small feature, called The Nose Knows, can be found here.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

From The Mouths of Husbands - True (Thoughts About) Romance

I looked at my filofax today (sort of an ancient paper-based crude version of a palm pilot for you younger readers) and saw the words … “February 14 – V.D.” Well that’s a bit scary.

Now we ALL know that the modern day traditions of St. Valentine’s day are direct from the Madison Avenue marketing minds of the folks at Hallmark, The Vermont Teddy Bear Company, as well as the lingerie, “adult” novelties, chocolate, floral and PERFUME industries. You don’t have to be Oliver Stone to trace the inter-woven conspiracy.

In the Catholic Church there are records of three different Saint Valentines actually. Each of them was a member of the (supposedly celibate) clergy. And each was a martyr. Two of them were beheaded. Now there’s a romantic image eh?

Apparently in the Middle Ages, The English and the French believed that on February 14th, birds chose their mates. For the English, the word “birds” is slang for women. So women chose other women as their mates? … Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But since the French were involved, and the French are the world’s leading perfume makers, one can see where the conspiracy had its roots.

I’m sure that Europe, being a tightly connected trading community, was the fertile ground for this commercial alliance to come together.

The Belgians and Swiss saying, “Chocolates! Chocolates must be the gift of Valentine’s Day!”

Whilst the Dutch tulip growers, chimed in with, “Flowers! Flowers should be the gift of Valentine’s Day!”

The German’s of course felt the day should be celebrated with gifts of latex and bondage equipment but fortunately they were too pre-occupied with building their munitions supplies to weigh in heavily with their opinions on the matter.

The Italians thought the day should be celebrated with lingerie and Roman orgies. God bless the Italians.

Of course the British, with their wordsmiths like Byron, Chaucer, Shakespeare et al, thought the day should be celebrated with greeting cards (… and strangely, hooligan rioting … though this did not catch on).

Unfortunately no voice was given to the Eastern Europeans, or we could be celebrating Valentine’s Day with vodka!

In the end, the French led the way. And (at least in my household) perfume tops the list of Valentine’s Day gifts.

I consider myself to be a semi-sensitive, semi-macho, existentialist, modern post-pre-post-modernist. By that I mean bollocks-artist who tries to display whichever temperament is the flavor of the day in terms of what Cosmo and Hollywood (another conspiracy?) tell women they should want in a man.

So now, as a 21st century male, I am confronted with trying to maintain … or even grow … the romance in my marriage … within the confines of the traditional commercial endearments, of this archaic holiday. And I present you this following insight!

Here is WHY (are you paying attention ladies?) men don’t associate perfume with romance in the same way YOU do!

1) Of the five senses, smell is only the second most important to a male when it comes to being attracted and aroused by a female … with sight, sound, taste and touch being tied for first.

2) A man could spend $50+ dollars on a very small bottle of something [perfume] that mightbig bottle of something [tequila] that will make a woman not care what you do to her!

3) In general, men do not like spending money on anything they can not pronounce. That is why he didn’t take you to see “Les Miserables” or even “Moulin Rouge”. (for example: and this is the God’s honest truth … until he was murdered and made the mainstream news, I honestly thought you pronounced “Versace” as “ver sace” as if it rhymed with “ver face”.

4) IF we buy you perfume … you expect us to remember which perfume it was … whether you liked it or not … on what occasions you wore it … and whether we should buy it again … or buy it again, but this time as the eau-de whatever-it-wasn’t last time. In other words … if we got the EDP this time we should get the EDT next time. [Hey pretty impressive huh that I’ve latched on to you secretive 3-letter-acronyms! I’m onto you!] Frankly ladies, a grown male’s memory is limited comparably with that of a Commodore computer, with MOST of the memory space allotted to sports statistics. In the modern day, we have too many PINs, passwords and accounts clogging up our cranial motherboards! I remember that my wife was wearing an olive green sweater when I first met her and I am proud of that!

5) For men that wear cologne, we invariably were given some once as an “I don’t know what else to give him” last-minute Christmas gift, straight from the “last minute Christmas ideas” display rack at Sears. We did not find it offensive to wear, so THAT, by default, became our brand. But our brand loyalty is best observed in how we buy cola. “Oh look, this one is on sale!”

6) We don’t understand the placement. You put perfume on your wrists and behind your ears. In a man’s mind that’s the same as setting up the Christmas tree in the closet or hooking up the playstation to the smallest TV in the house. The suggestion of something good is perceived, it just seems to be poorly marketed and displayed.

7) The shelf life confuses us. The perfume in the bottle remains potent for years and years. As long as it is in the bottle, if you remove the cap, or spray some, it smells as strongly as ever. The ONE thing you can do it seems, to diminish the smell, is actually spraying it on yourself! That strong perfumey smell … once adhered to female skin … evaporates faster than it takes a man to picture you and your best mate, whenever the topic of bisexuality is mentioned. Flowers wilt, chocolates get eaten and perfume dissipates. Only lingerie lasts forever (assuming normal levels of enthusiastic play). I’d belabor the point but I can hear women’s thoughts now getting far too close to the phrase … “DIAMONDS last forever [you pinhead!]”

8) Size matters! To a man, the prospect of bringing home a tiny little perfume box … wrapped with less paper than it takes to cover new mouse pad for example … does not have the same fun factor as coming home on Valentine’s day, carrying a (wrapped) HUGE box of something! It doesn’t matter what’s in the box (it could be a new Hi-Def Plasma screen or even the latest bagless Dyson) as long as it is huge and wrapped. Why ladies, do you think they only sell wrapping paper in great big sheets?

9) If we buy you lingerie … believe me … we will know when you are wearing it! If we buy you perfume, you deliberately play mean tricks on us. You say things like, “honey, did you notice what I am wearing?” [meaning the perfume we just bought you – usually without ever smelling it first] Instinctively our eyes scan you from top to bottom without a clue what you are banging on about. The problem lies in the language. IF we could somehow replace the word “wearing” when it comes to perfume, with something else that doesn’t make us think you mean clothing … we MIGHT (I repeat MIGHT) have a chance at getting this correct. Often the crueler women put a little of their every-day utility cologne and when we say. “Oh it’s the perfume I bought for you!” We get the rolled eyes, the pissed-off head shaking tutting and then the inevitable storming-out-of-the-room harrumphing that says, “Pal you got as much chance of getting some tonight as you do of winning a Pulitzer.”

10) Look good, feel warm, sound happy and dare I say taste nice …and you could smell like a nomad’s sandal and still get our attention.

Honey, that’s all … you know … har-har-har bollocks for your blog. You know I really care what you smell like… and you smell wonderful! Happy Valentine’s Day!


Happy V-Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

(Image source,

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Les Exclusifs de Chanel Have Landed

The high-pitched, eardrums-shuttering sound you heard outside? That was me, squealing in delight. The wonderful friend made it possible for me to test the new Chanels by gifting me a set of miniatures. May the Perfume Gods grant her every wish!

On the very, very first sniff, my immediate favorite was, surprisingly!, No 18, an ethereal, shimmering, indescribable scent with an unexpectedly animalic undertone. 31 Rue Cambon was close second, smelling gorgeous, warm and very "Chanel". I also loved the green Bel Respiro. After reading Ina's review on Aromascope, I expected to fall head over heels in love with Coromandel, but so far it leaves me cold, as do 28 la Pausa and Eau de Cologne, however, as I said, I only had a chance to test them briefly and am too ecstatic to even think straight right now.

I will review No 18 on Thursday. Tomorrow, please tune in for Mr. Colombina's Valentine's Day musings.

The image of the miniatures is mine.

Perfume Review: Sarah Horowitz-Thran Love

Having grown up in the Soviet Union, I have always had difficulty perceiving carnations as interesting, let alone sexy flowers. For me they are quite firmly associated with May parades, funerals of General Secretaries and funerals and cemeteries in general. That bleak image has only recently started to dissipate with the help of such scents as the fiery Poivre and the exquisite, ladylike Oeillet Sauvage. Love by Sarah Horowitz-Thran is another scent that proved to me that it IS possible to wear a carnation-based perfume and not think of Brezhnev.

What I do think about (and am thankful for) when wearing Love is of being in a happy, warm relationship, the kind that is passionate but has lasted long enough for the two people to grow very comfortable with each other. Love is sensual, piquant but also very much of a comfort scent. It would go perfectly well with Agent Provocateur lingerie. It would feel just as great when worn on a lazy night in, watching reruns of the sitcom you both love, cuddling together on a sofa. The cloves in Love are red-hot and spicy, the roses are flirty and sweet, the amber is languid and warm and the vanilla is soft and fluffy. And all of these notes ornament carnations in the most romantic and sensual way and make them as far removed from the dreary and cold memories of forced patriotism, as actually possible.

Love is available at Barney’s, $95.00 for 1.7oz.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sniffapalooza hits Los Angeles...

...Los Angeles does not hit back

Report by Tom

As some of you might have heard, The Karens brought their perfume-scented show on the road to the city of the Angels (and me). Of course, the chance of letting this event occur without me were non-existent, and I will attempt to decipher my notes and with the help of the hand-outs I will try to cover the event for you. Looking at my notes I have to say there's a reason I am not a reporter: I didn't, even with my HORRIBLE memory for names, jot down people, I jotted down stuff. Yes, sadly greed will trump good manners for your dear Pansy every time. If you're reading this, and I met you, please keep this in mind.

The morning started off well, with the threatened rain not coming. Being cheap (but telling people that I was trying to save the environment) I didn't drive to the event, since it was about a mile from my house, I relied on the MTA and shanks mare. I arrived at Fred Segal/ Apothia at about 8:45 and checked in. Into a very stylish group of people indeed. I actually felt a little out of place in my jeans and Pumas amongst the sea of black suits and perfect coifs, but that was just me being me. I grabbed a coffee and some of the excellent fruit salad and listened to the speakers:

First up was Rob Robinson from Apothia, welcoming us, introducing the Karens and introducing us to the manager of Apothia who would be introducing the speakers- he also had a funny bit about how if the speakers rang long, he'd ring a bell, and if they kept going, he'd use one of those airhorns.

Next was Kio Kamoche of Nyakio who quite charmingly told us that she would keep it brief, since she's afraid of horns. She is a first generation American who has a beauty line based on ingredients from her native Kenya. Exfoliation is one of my favorite things to do, and I plan on testing her samples a.s.a.p.

Next was Sarah Horowitz-Thran of Creative Scentualization, giving us the history of her line and passing them around. She mentioned that at the later lunch, we'd be smelling her new scent.

Then came Topper Schroeder of Gendarme (one that I have to revisit soon) giving the history behind his fragrance and the news that there would be a new one as well, and we were going to get a sample of it (I'll review it later).

Following him was the lovely Jan Moran, writer of one of my favorite books Fabulous Fragrances, telling us about her latest project, an interactive database that will be in stores that will allow shoppers to select perfumes they want to
try by notes. Sounds interesting, yes?

Then came Francois Duquesne of l'Artisan who told an extended story of his youth in Grasse and how it led him through marketing and into the world of niche perfume. He also told us of the new Narcisse perfume and the future body line. He seemed a bit nervous and a little rambly, but he was so cute and his accent was so Fwench that quite frankly he could have stood up there reciting the instructions on a jell-o box and I would have just listened, nodding encouragement.

Garry Natton of Through Smoke Creative was next, telling us about his start founding Moturra, its sale to Gap, his time at Gap and Banana Republic, and his new venture

Following him was Silke Steinberg of Tocca who gave us an overview of the company as well as a sniff of their newest: Cleopatra.

Neal Harris was up next with a curious device put out by his company Scent Events. This suitcase-sized doo-hickey can perfume an are in 2 minutes with any scent desired: the outside of the event smelled like Velvet Rope and for the opening of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" they made Hollywood Boulevard smell like chocolate!

Finally Ron Robinson returned to tell us about how Apothia grew out of his love for the finer things and invited us to browse the impressive collection his shop holds.

Needless to say, browse I did, then made a fast pit-stop to drop the swag at home and run back for the lunch at Chocolat, where Sarah Horowitz-Thran gave a very interesting breakdown of one of her fragrances and the promised sniff of her newest ones, Perfect Kiss and Beauty Comes from Within. Having sniffed, I can safely write that Beauty also comes from Ms. Horowitz-Thran.

The charming Victoria of Victoria's Own was kind enough to supply us with a lovely gift bag at the lunch, a sample of the ever-delightful Anne Pliska scent, and a cunning little jar of coffee beans! Clever! Cute!

After lunch, we wandered over to Santa Maria Novello shop on Melrose Place, where the always charming manager Jo Montroy and her staff greeted us, more sniffage ensued of both SMN and Villoresi.

Then off to Chado for High Tea (one of my favorite places in LA) and to meet Miryana Babic of i Profumi di Firenze who regaled with with the long history of the line and let us sniff a bunch of them.

Then Marlen of had an amusing quiz for us about our perfume habits, cheekily asking after we'd admitted that we did not apply scent in the morning "HOW HARD WAS THAT!?!"

Following him was Adam Eastwood of Scent Bar (inexplicably not on the tour) to talk about the store and website.

Finally we departed on foot to West Hollywood institution Palmetto, where the lovely Ms. Babic showed me practically all of her line personally (and most personably I might add) while I enjoyed a glass of white wine. I finally departed my sniffadventure about 11 hours after it started, having met many charming people, made I think a few new pals (and future co-conspirators- you know who you are!) and sniffed more and better stuff that I had done in a while.

Since I am sure you're all wondering, what did I buy? Nothing. Well, a couple of things at each store but no scent. I was trying to be good, thinking that I have waaaaaay too much cologne. I was walking out with IrisLA who totally disabused me of that, so much that I had to mention "well, I have loads of SAMPLES", which makes my low bottle count understandable.

So today I marched into ScentBar and bought the bottle of L'Antimatiere to make up for it.