Monday, April 30, 2007
Sunday, April 29, 2007
Good Taste in Perfume
Saturday, April 28, 2007
Hermes Kelly Caleche
I haven't been so excited by the news of a new release for a while. According to CosmeticNews.com, Hermès is about to launch a major women’s fragrance, Kelly Calèche, which "draws inspiration directly from the heart of the Hermès house". The name pays homage to the Hermès Kelly bag and the Calèche fragrance, one of the first fragrances released by the house. Created by Jean-Claude Ellena, the scent is said to be inspired by the smell of fine leather and is described as floral leather blend. Hermès Parfums general manager Catherine Fulconis informs that the fragrance is meant to fit "between the younger following of Eau des Merveilles and the more classic positioning of 24, Faubourg".
For an interesting article about Kelly bag, please read Hermes V. Hermes by Annie Groer, Washington Post. The article compares the Kelly and the Birkin bags, and describes the Kelly bag as "a touch more formal, a little more appropriate for an evening out, a business dinner, as a more refined look." "A woman who is going to wear the Kelly is of very erect stature, she comes from money, very good background, is extraordinarily educated, and life to her is one where she will be very inconspicuous". Kelly bag, created in 1930, received its name after Grace Kelly "deftly obscured her royal pregnancy with a structured, crocodile Hermes purse on a 1956 Life magazine cover. (...) after its moment in Life, it [the bag] was dedicated to Her Serene Highness, and, as legends often do, lives on after her". (By the way, hard as I try to find the bag on the cover of the said April 9, 1956 issue of Life magazine (picture on the left), I am unable to see it. Perhaps it is actually featured in the article itself.)
Kelly Calèche will have an exclusive preview at the new Hermès boutique opening on Wall Street on June 21st. In August it will be available in Hermès’ boutique network and in September will be launched for global selective distribution. I can hardly wait!
The line will consist of EdTs in 50ml and 100ml sizes, priced at €64 and €90, a body lotion (€47), a bath and shower gel (€39) and a deodorant (€38).
Image sources, comseticnews.com, kerrytaylorauctions.com.
On the Top of the Wish List - Guerlain Muguet
L'Artisan Parfumeur New Site and Online Boutique
L'Artisan Parfumeur opened a new website and online boutique at lartisanparfumeur.us. Lots of new features there including selecting a scent by mood, exclusive creations, custom services, and more. It is also possible now to order 5 samples for $7.00 including shipping.
Friday, April 27, 2007
Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Tobacco Vanille, Tuscan Leather, Velvet Gardenia
With notes of tobacco leaf, spices, tonka bean, tobacco flower, vanilla, cocoa, dry fruits and wood sap, Tobacco Vanille is described by Tom Ford Beauty as "a modern take on an old world men’s club". In my opinion, to be such a take, the scent has to have a very strong leather note and be even smokier and perhaps a littler harsher. The image that Tobacco Vanilla evokes in my mind is more domiciliary, cozy and warm. It is an image of a dad smoking a pipe, a mom baking something aromatic, maybe gingerbread...It is winter, snow is falling softly, there is the smell of bonfires in the air and the sound of bells...Is it Christmas? Perhaps. It is definitely somewhere in Russia, and most probably even not in the 21st century, maybe even not in the 20th. Tobacco and vanilla go wonderfully well together, and in this particular fragrance the balance of the two accords is perfect. The scent is neither too smoky, nor too fluffy and sweet. The spicy note, which, to me, smells mostly of ginger, ornaments the honeyed smokiness, adding a sweet zing to the composition. The drydown of sugared prunes and soft wood is a cuddly delight. I loved Tobacco Vanille and I think that fans of Ambre Narguile, Sensuelle Russie, Fumerie Turque and Parfumerie Generale's super-secret Un Crime Exotique, should pay special attention to this Private Blend.
Mix Tobacco Vanille with Tuscan Leather and the result would be that very "old world men's club" so dear to Ford's heart. Tuscan Leather, with notes of saffron, raspberry, thyme, olibanum, jasmine, leather, black suede and amberwood, is a husky and warm rendition of leather. The first accord combines tarry smokiness with a very surprising and very delightful raspberry note. I love leather paired with sugared citrus fruits (Piver Cuir de Russie), but I would have never thought that raspberry would be so appropriate in a leather fragrance. And it truly is. It brings charming sweetness, playfulness and sunny warmth to the otherwise rather austere blend. It is like an unexpectedly childish, happy smile on a weather-beaten face. With time, the distinctive berry note subsides, but slight sweetness remains and it softens the composition, toning down the smoky harshness of leather and the peppery sharpness of incense. The latter two notes are the most prominent on my skin throughout the scent's development, with perhaps just a hint of herbs in the heart of the fragrance. Tuscan Leather is rugged and cuddlesome, a very interesting take on leather and a delight for this lover of leather perfumes.
The last three scents to be reviewed turned out to be my most favorite in the new Ford collection. Velvet Gardenia is perhaps the one that I loved the most. The realization came to me as somewhat of a shock, because I am decidedly not a fan of gardenia perfumes. So far the only rendition that I was able to wear was Jardenia. In a way, Ford's take on the flower reminds me a little bit of JAR's, in a sense that in both compositions the gardenia note has a certain thick, fleshy quality...the note seems so palpable and corpulent, it is almost more than a flower, there is almost something animalic about it. I am invariably attracted to the scents that combine white flowers with incense. In Velvet Gardenia, the incense and the even more prominent ambery-incensey labdanum note pose a striking contrast to the creamy velvet of the gardenia and tuberose petals. The scent has a very vague fruity undertone that enhances the sweet voluptuousness of the flowers. Velvet Gardenia is indolent and dark, slightly brooding, extremely alluring. If I can only have one bottle from the Private Blend line, this would be my choice.
To sum up my impressions from the collection...I was impressed. I did not love all twelve scents, but I liked most, and even in those I didn't like, I still admired the creativity of the blends and the quality of the ingredients. The collection is not cheap by any stretch of imagination, but it smells expensive. I also liked the fact that the scents, different as they are, seem tied together with a certain common thread running through them. To me that thread is a woody-ambery, slightly spicy undertone present practically in all perfumes, even the citrusy-sunny Neroli Portofino. Overall, the perfumes are long-lasting, with a luxurious sillage; most of them have a sleek, urbane feel and a slightly retro glamour that is so very Tom Ford.
Just for the fun of it, I decided to rank the twelve scents, with the first being my most favorite. The hit parade concludes the Ford week on Perfume-Smellin' Things, thank you for reading!
1. Velvet Gardenia
2. and 3. Tobacco Vanille and Tuscan Leather
4. Amber Absolute
5. Bois Rouge
6. Noir de Noir
7. Moss Breches
8. Oud Wood
9. Neroli Portofino
10. Japon Noir
11. Black Violet
12. Purple Patchouli
The scents are available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.
Labels: Tom Ford
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The Eureka Moment ...And a Bit of News
Review by Tom
First off, the news:
Serge Lutens' heartwrenchingly lovely Un Lys has appeared at Barneys as the spring guest-export scent. It's a gorgeous and very feminine lily scent that opens with the barest touch of green and dries down to notes of vanilla and musk. The eponymous lillies are heady and voluptuous: masses of lillies. Bowers of them in fact. I can see that with a heavy hand, this could be overpowering. But I think this all-lillies-all-the-time wonder is fantastic. Just the thing for a big night out, whether that's a night out at the Opera in opera length gloves or a dinner out where you want to capture the attention of the men (and quite a few of the women). $120 for 50ml at Barneys
Sometimes it takes a while for a scent to... acclimate is the best way I can put it. It happened years ago with Annick Goutal Sables, which took a try to two before its immortelle went from maple candy sweetness to peaty caramelly swooniness. Miel de Bois was another: it took several tries for it to work. It's almost like learning a foreign language; you study and study and drill and drill and at one point those meaningless syllables cohere. What was once random babbling now is conversation, easy and comfortable. Suddenly you get it, it works on you. I call it "the eureka moment".
This one seems to take the cake as one of the longest between complete indifference and utter infatuation: Serge Lutens Rousse. I wrote that I was indifferent to it, Colombina wrote that she rather like it more, but she wouldn't need a full bottle. She had a subsequent change of heart, and is very much enamored. I wasn't until I was at Barneys today (Sunday the 22nd) and the lady at the counter convinced me to respritz. Suddenly, it was delightful: playful cinnamon red-hots and wonderful woodiness. Cloves and a certain doughy immortelle are in the middle and the drydown, but those slightly scorched woods keep it from becoming too literally pie-like. The musky drydown is reminiscent of Mandarine Mandarin but slightly less dense, being tinged with spices rather than fruits. Do I have to tell you that I bought a bottle?
Rousse is available at Barneys, $100 for 50ml.
If I run across another one that turns from "meh" to "oooooh baby", I'll write about it. Somehow I doubt that "Blue Sugar" will ever have that thing happen...
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli
Noir de Noir
In an interview to International Herald Tribune, Tom Ford once said that he have always loved the night. The nocturnal Black Orchid was the first olfactory expression of that love and many scents in the Private Blend collection most definitely possess a nocturnal quality. Noir de Noir, as the name suggests, has a very dark feel. When I first heard about the Private Blend collection and got to read the notes, I had a feeling that Purple Patchouli might turn out to be reminiscent of my beloved Black Orchid, or rather that it will be reminiscent of the earthy, raw aspect of it, which I love so much and which is so prominent on my skin. Not so. The scent that, upon very first application, made me think of Black Orchid, was Noir de Noir. Take Black Orchid, remove the "earth" and the fruits, and what you are left with is an elegantly sweet, rather warm floral accord. As far as my nose is concerned, Noir de Noir is built upon that very accord. The beginning of the scent is a bouquet of dark-red roses, honeyed, over-ripe, extremely luscious. The rose note is paired with saffron, a stunning combination, with the golden, slightly raw spiciness weaved through the crimson velvet of the petals. The raw/rooty aspect, which I always notice in saffron, is complimented by "black truffle" and patchouli. I don't really smell any oud in Noir de Noir, and overall I think I would have liked the scent even more if the woody-earthy aspect was a little stronger on my skin. Noir de Noir is not a shy little scent, it is quite forceful, sweet and with a luxurious trail of sillage. The drydown is incredibly delightful. The saffron note, which disappears during the middle stage, comes back, and the final accord is a soft skin scent composed of delicate spices, gentle vanilla, and a little bit of patchouli. It is my humble guess that Noir de Noir is going to be one of most popular Private Blend fragrances.
Leathery Oud. I am aware that Tom Ford Beauty does not list leather as one of the notes in this scent, but leather is what I smell as soon as I apply it on my skin and the note stays throughout the scent's development. The perfume really isn't so much about oud as it is about veriver and leather. It is an elegantly smoky blend, quite dry and very earthy. It has slight spiciness in the beginning and quite a lot of rather sharp sandalwood in the middle and in the base. The drydown is softer that the previous stages, but despite declared vanilla and tonka bean, is really not in the least sweet. I like Oud Wood a lot, but feel that it could have been a little more virile, had a little more character. This is a very refined and urbane rendition of oud, and I guess I was looking for something more wild and fierce.
Purple Patchouli is probably the strangest of the twelve Private Blend scents, and I am not quite sure that in this case I mean "strange" as a compliment. With notes of orchid, citruses, "noir leather", "purple patchouli", exotic spices, amber, more patchouli, Peru balsam and vetiver, the composition is a curious combination of fresh, almost soapy and utterly skanky-animalic. I had a "pleasure" of experiencing a molecule called saladolide, which featured the most bizarre clash of aggressively clean and rather putrid odors. Purple Patchouli doesn't actually smell like that molecule, but the disharmony of clean and animalic that it presents is just as striking. The floral accord of Purple Patchouli is sudsy and quite bold, slightly sweet, rather fresh, it keeps battling for domination with the dry patchouli note and the salty, "moist" leather. In the end, patchouli and leather win, aided by a little bit of vetiver; the drydown of Purple Patchouli on my skin is the stage of total skank, no more flowers, no more soap, just a clammy , slimy, morbidly fascinating earthy accord. I am glad I got to try this peculiar perfume, but I will never be able to wear it.
Noir de Noir, Oud Wood, Purple Patchouli are available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.
I am unable to find a source for the first image. If you know what it is, please let me know, I would love to be able to correctly attribute it. The second image, Female Satyr, is by Thomas Durham, from tomdurhamsculpture.com.
Labels: Tom Ford
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Japon Noir, Moss Breches and Neroli Portofino
With notes of "spice bouquet", "purple patchouli", "porto noir", jasmine, leather, amber and vetiver, Japon Noir is an interesting little scent, sweetly-piquant, a little earthy, slightly leathery, zestful and rather charming. It begins with an accord that seems to me to combine citrus with the bright and rooty spiciness of ginger. The "spice bouquet", which I believe also includes cinnamon, grows stronger, and, paired with patchouli, amber and woods, creates a very attractive, slightly powdery, warm, balsamic effect, in a way not unlike the spicy-woody accord in Rousse. Japon Noir evokes in my mind an image of ginger-scented tree bark...google tells me that apparently there exists a wood species called Gingerwood (Tatajyvá), and, in my imagination, this is how it should smell. Apart from the dry and fiery aspect, the scent also possesses a certain vaguely edible quality, in that at times it smells to me like some exotic, boozy, sweet-n-spicy candy. This almost-gourmand trait is very understated, and the scent overall is not particularly sweet; the lovers of spicy perfumes should pay close attention to this zippy number.
Chypre Alert! Fans of the genre should take notice of this earthy-green, herbal-spicy, brooding potion. The first accord of Moss Breches is unexpectedly honeyed, it brings to my mind a vision of a very dark red rose. The crimson apparition lasts no more than a couple of seconds, blink, and the rose is gone, as if swallowed by the mossy-green foliage of a witchy forest. And from then on the scent is devoid of even a hint of anything remotely floral. I smell herbs, especially sage, I smell peppery earthiness of vetiver and a sooty patchouli note reminiscent of moist, pitch-black soil. Moss Breches is not one of the glamorous chypres (like, for example, L'Arte di Gucci or Eau du Soir) that possess a dazzling grandeur demanding lime-light and being dressed to the nines. On the contrary, it has a bewitching wildness about it, an untamed feel, something primal and slightly sinister... it is a scent for nymphs, satyrs and all manner of magikal folk...for casting spells and for getting up to no good under the cover of the night, on the mossy floor of the dark woods.
From the moody darkness of Moss Breches to the sun-lit Neroli Portofino, what a contrast! Portofino, a fishing village and resort on the Italian Riviera is said to be one of the most beautiful Mediterranean ports, and I imagine that it might have served as an inspiration behind this "modern intercontinental version of an iconic fragrance theme" (eau de cologne). The fragrance is not particularly complicated (but then one does not expect a multi-faceted structure from a traditional cologne), but it is very luscious. Neroli here has distinctively bitter, even somewhat spicy aroma; it manages to be neither sharp nor in the least sweet. The citrusy-floral accord is rounded and "warmed-up" by an ambery, slightly woody undertone...the overall impression is of an uncluttered and luxurious composition...Neroli Portofino makes me dream of lounging under blossoming orange trees, with a breeze from the see fresh and cool on my face and the sun spreading its golden warmth over my skin. An Eau de Cologne, however impressive, priced at $165.00 is rather extravagant for me, but Neroli Portofino should nevertheless be a must-try for the connoisseurs of the genre.
Japon Noir, Moss Breches and Neroli Portofino, along with other Private Blend scents, are available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.
Image sources, condenastart.com, allposters.com.
Labels: Tom Ford
Monday, April 23, 2007
Perfume Review: Tom Ford Private Blend Amber Absolute, Black Violet, Bois Rouge
I have always connected, "clicked" with Tom Ford's style and aesthetics. The decadence, sensuality, slightly stagy, theatric feel, a certain arrogant affectation and the stylized old-fashioned glamor paired with very modern, very urban sophistication - these are the characteristics of Ford's work to which I invariably respond and with which I can, to an extent, identify. I love the unapologetically luxurious feel of his designs, the striking, at times shocking but never tasteless eroticism of his styling. I adored Ford's first scent, the very glamorous Black Orchid, and I was excited to get to try the twelve new scents in his Private Blend collection. "Designed with the true fragrance connoisseur in mind", these unisex blends center around "a precious extraction of a single note, such as amber, tobacco, black violet, leather, gardenia, and oud wood". As the press release hastens to note, however, the scents are not one-note compositions, as the "secondary sequences of extraordinary ingredients are wrapped around" the star notes to create "a completely developed and complex eau de parfum. The result is a series of intriguing, sophisticated scents that may enchant or challenge, stimulate or delight." Private Blend is meant as a means of discovery of the fragrances that suit the personality and moods of a wearer who is supposed to eventually "become the curator of their own individualized fragrance collection".
Over the course of this week, I will talk about all twelve scents. I start today with Amber Absolute, Black Violet and Bois Rouge.
Tom Ford Beauty call this blend of "the purest form of amber", African incense, labdanum, woods and vanilla a hallmark of the Private Blend collection. This is a complex, opulent rendition of amber; although certainly focusing on the title note, the scent is much more than a basic amber mono-perfume, and as someone who is not particularly fond of amber "soliflores", I very much appreciate the multifaceted quality of this scent. I particularly love the dark and somber incense undertone that poses a striking contrast to the honeyed sweetness of amber and vanilla. Incense here has, to me, a definite "churchy" feel, more specifically, for some reason it makes me think of Orthodox churches with their combination of austere spirit and Byzantine opulence. Incense stays noticeable throughout the development of the scent, only after a couple of hours (this is a very long-lasting fragrance) does it give way to the woods. The woody accord reminds me of the note Lutens uses in his Boisees series, which I know is mostly cedar, but which is so velvety-soft, sweet and warmly balsamic that it always seems to me to be more like sandalwood. Sophisticated, luxurious, chic and at the same time wonderfully comforting, Amber Absolute is a delight. Something tells me that it might become one of the most popular of the Private Blends.
Guerlain's Insolence made me suspect that violets and fruits don't go well together (at least for me), and Black Violet proved that suspicion. With notes of citrus, "pulpy fruit", "black violets", woods and oakmoss, the scent, to me, seems to be focusing on the fruits and woods much more than on violets. It starts with a pleasantly tangy burst of citrus; in a matter of seconds, the sweet, ripe fruity accord (plum? peach? berries of some sort? -hard to tell) begins to unfold. It more or less dominates the composition, overwhelming the violets. It smells sweet and "thick" and indeed does have a sultry, "black" feeling about it. Eventually, woods become more apparent; the woody note here is a little spicy, a tiniest bit powdery, resinous and all in all rather attractive. At this stage, the violet is finally perceptible, but it is not a prominent note by any means. Tom Ford Beauty classify this scent as Floral, but it seems to me to be more along the lines of a woody-oriental composition. When smell-able, the violets appear to be sweet and a little "buttery", and not unlike their creamy-gourmand counterparts in Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste. I love my violets to be either gentle and ethereal or dry and earthy-green, I am not a fan of sweet violet fragrances, not even Lutens' celebrated Bois de Violette, and so perhaps I am simply not able to appreciate Black Violet. It seems to me to be too robust and sweet and lacking a little finesse.
Bois Rouge's citrus-herbal-spicy top notes, with their sharp, cold quality set the tone for the rest of the composition, and the tone is decidedly masculine. I like very much the dry patchouli note that becomes apparent on my skin right in the beginning. A forceful, heady jasmine then appears on the scene, and, strange as it sounds in relation to this typically very feminine note, even jasmine here smells masculine. Every note in the composition has a certain bracing, austere quality, an elegant virility of sorts that I can't help but think of as "manly". After the jasmine explosion subsides, I begin to smell cedarwood and sandalwood; the woody accord has a slight cinnamon-like undertone on my skin and an even slighter hint of leather. The spiciness warms up the scent significantly, and vanilla contributes to softening and smoothing the harsh, angular features of the blend. It is a striking, very handsome - in a somewhat severe, jaw-clenched, rugged way - fragrance, and although it is decidedly too masculine for me, it should be breathtaking on a male of the species.
Tom Ford Private Blend fragrances are available at Bergdorf Goodman (not online, it seems), $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.
Image sources, Vanity Fair, Tom Ford Beauty.
Labels: Tom Ford
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Almost Nothing That Money Can Buy...
Friday, April 20, 2007
Needle in a Haystack. Perfume Review: La Base For Her
When I saw that today’s random sample turned out to be La Base, I was a little scared. Last time I tried it (a long time ago; as I said, samples stay in the To Review Box for years, awaiting their destiny), I found La Base, an homage to Switzerland, the Alps, and mountain flowers, to be simultaneously a little too aquatic-fresh and too overwhelmingly, headily floral. That, of course, was during my Floral-Hatin’ Period. If you too are or were such a hater, read the list of notes in La Base and tell me if they do not spell Death by Flowers to you: alpine rose, iris, jasmine, bluebell, violet leaves, mimosa, freesia, magnolia, marigold, alpine bell flower…These days I am in the throws of mad love for floral perfumes, and so I decided to give La Base another go. Oh, how our tastes change…Or, as Mr. Colombina would say, fickleness is thy name, woman! The scent that blossomed from the sample vial was…breathtaking.
La Base starts fresh, “yellow-green”, with field flowers and grass covered in morning dew, shivering in the mountain breeze. The top notes seem to be the olfactory rendition of Albrecht von Haller’s poem, The Alps; they tell us the story of how
Not far from the ice, a fertile mountain stretches
its broad back, with meadows rich with fodder;
its gentle slope glistening with ripening grain,
its hills heavy with a hundred herds…
As the scent progresses, it grows warmer and headier. The sun is at its apex, and the meadows and gardens are languorous under its hot rays, the flowers ripe, their petals fully unfolded, greedily absorbing the sunshine. I kept coming back to re-read the list of notes, because in the middle stage of La Base’s development I smell tuberose and gardenia…I am not familiar with the scent of marigolds and “alpine bell flowers”, so perhaps the creamy, indolent, sultry aroma is due from the presence of these notes…After a while, the floral symphony subsides a little, and the scent once again becomes fresher and drier, thus taking us through the whole day in the Alps, from the chilly, grassy-herbal, fresh smelling morning, to the languid day, fragrant with the luscious flowers, to the brisk, slightly earthy-smelling twilight …Exquisite, beautifully blended, and just the kind of scent I am craving these Floral-Lovin’ days. I need the bottle!
La Base For Her, Eau de Parfum, is available at Luckyscent, $130 for 50ml.
To read about Ina’s Needle in a Haystack, please visit Aromascope.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Love of Lavender
Review by Tom
Lavender is of course one of the mainstays of fragrances for both men and women. Fragrances as diverse as Jicky and Gris Clair have it as notes, and despite my rep as skank-monster extraordinaire, it's a note that I love in several of my favorite scents.
Serge Lutens Gris Clair and Encens et Lavande
Colombina covered the latter and she and I covered the former so I won't completely go over these again, suffice it to say that I own a full bottle of one and am this close to jumping through the hoops needed to get a bell jar of the other. Gris Clair's dance from cold camphored lavender to warm incense is hauntingly complemented by Encens et Lavande's trip from churchy incensed lavender to it's lavender sage drydown.
Annick Goutal Eau de Lavande
I know this is damning this with faint praise, but I have been scenting my pillows with this for years, it's part of my bedtime ritual: cotton in the ears, melatonin, and a spritz of E de L. Sniffing it without expecting it to act like Ambien, I can appreciate that in 1981 Annick Goutal created something that had never been smelled in a lavender before: there's that bit of camphor that's played up in Gris Glair as well as the woods that are in Encens et Lavande. I would and do wear this out, but I am nothing if not hide-bound, so this as ever will be my night-time beddie-bye scent.
Now forget everything I've written.
Reverie au Jardin
First off, full disclosure. I think Andy Tauer is a genius. From what I've read, he basically does this stuff out his house: no focus groups, no baggage of even a house as large as Serge Lutens. (I know, heresy) No house perfumer mixing the juice. The first scent of his I tried was Lonestar Memories, and I was convinced that he was some ex-pat Texan who moved to Switzerland and mixed this up a'pinin' for the home place. Then I smelled Le Maroc pour Elle and L'Air du Desert Marocain and suddenly wondered, like he's from Morocco ?
Calling Reverie au Jardin a lavender scent in a way is like calling Le Labo Patchouli 24 a patchouli scent. In the case of Le Labo, the patch is buried under a heady (and I think divine) layer of smoky birch tar. In R au J, the lavender not only challenges what you think you want to smell when you think of lavender, but is woven in a hide-and-seek game in the various and myriad layers of the scent.
First off, the lavender: in the past weeks, Chandler Burr wrote about dryer sheets or something (I am willing to give them my email address, but I am not willing to pay them to reread the article) that most people when they say they want lavender don't want the actual smell, they want the simulacrum that they think they smell.
I'd like to write that of course being such a connoisseur of lavender that Reverie du Jardin didn't put me off at all. D'oh! At first sniff, I was like, whaaaah? So much so that I went to my local gourmet store to actually smell some of the actual herb. A little research showed that there are several different kinds of lavender, and the lavender that Tauer uses takes a good few moments to register as lavender at all, if you are expecting to smell what you are used to smelling in a lavender scent. It's green and fresh and slightly sweet, not heady and not minty and paired with a light vetiver. Then the reverie begins...
The only way I can really describe it as a day in your fantasy garden, starting in the late morning. It's one of those long summer days where thanks to daylight savings and the time of the year the sun doesn't set 'til nine. You are sitting in the garden, reading, Proust no doubt, or E. F. Benson, if like me you're looking for something lighter. As the day grows later and the shadows longer you might wander from the herb garden to the flower garden. Of course there couldn't be an incense garden, but this is a fantasy, so why not? You wander through these gardens, stopping for a while at a bench to read a page or two, to sip from your glass of water with a single thin slice of cucumber, smiling at Mapp being thwarted, to wander off to a bench at a different sunnier spot. Lavender is a recurring theme as is green leaves, roots and earth, but the scents journey through its metaphoric garden also weaves orris, woods, tonka and vetiver.
At one point on me the scent changes suddenly, like taking the path from the lily ponds at The Huntington Library that suddenly changes into the desert garden; a change so sudden, so Alice-in-Wonderland shocking in real life that the olfactory change from Jardin to Temple has the same effect: blank, if delighted consternation and a geeky squeal of delight. Other changes are more gradual; the orris on me comes in like a bank of dappled clouds, obscuring the sunlight briefly before receding and ceding the stage to the woods and light musk.
Just so you won't think this is a total love-fest, I do have one complaint: I wish it were stronger. I'd like a parfum. Now, please.
Gris Clair is available Barneys, $120 for 50 ml
Encens et Lavande is available at the Salon Shiseido only (they will ship in the EU if you know somene, 100eu for 100 ml).
Eau de Lavande is available at various e-tailers usually discounted, like Perfume Emporium, which offers the 3.4 oz (usually $95) for $72.99, and is sometimes available with the rest of the line at Bloomingdales, Neimans and Bergdorf Goodman.
Reverie au jardin is available for pre-order at LuckyScent, $85 for 50 ml
The first image is from sxc.hu, the second from tauerperfumes.com.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
It's a Sniffathon! Part 3 - Profumum, Durbano, Dr. Vranjes & Ajne
Moody Vanillas at Sephora
Sephora (I assume that, at least for starters, this is French Sephora) is launching a new collection of vanilla perfumes. "To each temperament, its own olfactory composition", is the bright idea behind the line of fragrances. If, like me, you think Sephora decided to pay an homage to the four classic temperaments, you'd be mistaken. Apparently Sephora has its own classification, and thus the line will include:
Poétique (Vanilla-Orange Blossom)
Insoumise (“Untamed”: Vanilla-Caramel)
Tentatrice (“Temptress”: Vanilla-Monoi)
Mystérieuse (Vanilla- Patchouli)
Insouciante (“Carefree”: Vanilla-Mango)
Envoûtante (“Bewitching” – Vanilla-Vanilla).
Nothing for the old Melancholic/Choleric me. And fair enough. Vanilla is not the right note not evoke that kind of temperament.
The Eaux de Toilette will come in 100 ml bottles and will cost €20.00 . (From Osmoz.com)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
It's a Sniffathon! Part 2 - Ellie D, L'Artisan, Montale & More
|Part 2 of my gigantic Sniffathon.|
Ellie by Ellie D, “a perfume infused with nostalgia with youthful and modern sensibility.” Quite frankly, I mostly get very modern politically correct blandness rather than any sort of distinctive individuality that would make the scent an homage to the striking perfumes of the past…Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely fragrance, a gentle green floral, with lily of the valley and jasmine being the most prominent notes, and with a pleasant woody and slightly sweet base of sandalwood, vanilla and coconut…wonderfully well blended (by Michel Roudnitska, no less), very elegant, very ladylike, a white gloves and a white hat kind of scent, and that certainly makes it a little bit of a standout among the fruity-gourmand tackiness of most new releases. But still, it is just too discreet, too shy, too understated, especially considering the hefty price of $180.00 for 1/2oz. When I am in the mood for a ladylike green floral, I will turn to scents with more oomph and personality, namely Roudnitska’s very own Debut or his father’s Diorissimo.
Bill Blass Eau de Parfum. First, why I like the new Bill Blass perfume. I like it for the things it is Not. It is not a fruity-floral. It is not pink, not cloyingly sweet, not gourmand. In our day and age it seems almost shocking that a company would dare to release a sophisticated, heady green floral, with such unfashionable notes as hyacinth and lily of the valley. Bill Blass is a vision of an opulent bouquet of white flowers and of a woman in a shimmering, body-skimming silk Blass dress carrying this bouquet. It is classy and it does not smell like it was made with Barbiesque teenagers in mind. And now why I don’t like Bill Blass Eau de Parfum … It smells rather harsh, so chemically-strong that I can actually taste, not just smell it. It lacks finesse and subtlety and it bothers me when I wear it for long stretches of time. Still, kudos to Bill Blass for their classic ambitions and quite successful attempts at olfactory sophistication. $65.00 for 1.3oz at Saks
Lovely Prism by Givenchy. By contrast with the refined Bill Blass, Givenchy’s new release is anything but refined. Fruity-floral scent by numbers, it smells of…oh, I don’t know … Sweet Red Fruits and Sparkly Pink Flowers. It is not horrible, not at all, but it is yawn-inducingly boring and probably too young even for 13 year-olds. Givenchy, they of L’Interdit, Le De, Givenchy III and even Amarige and Organza, should be ashamed of themselves for releasing such unbelievably generic, dull fragrances. $39.48 for 1.7oz at Perfume.com.
Oud Safran by Montale. I have never heard of this fragrance, I cannot find it on Montale’s unhelpful website, but I am sure that the wondrously prolific line has many scents we might have not even heard about (yet). The problem is that, to me, most of their ouds smell more or less alike. There are just too many of them; I am becoming unable to distinguish one Montale Oud from another. It is hard to believe that such exciting genre as oud might possibly be boring, but, to me, in Montale’s incessant rendition, it is beginning to feel dull and repetitive. And so Oud Safran…it smells of…well, oud, the dark, smoky, woody accord that always makes me think of extremely over-brewed, extremely black tea. The oud is strong and basically overwhelms everything else. If I try really hard, I can sort of intuit rather than smell saffron and something a little earthy, perhaps patch…but really, this is all about oud, oud, oud. I am bored. I will pass.
Jatamansi Huile pour le Corps by L’Artisan. This is Body Oil, and as such is probably not fully representative of what the Eau de Toilette will smell like, but what I can smell makes me hopeful and eager to try the Real Thing. The oil smells herbal, but not sharp or pungent, it is an understated and pleasantly “warm”, “rounded” scent. I do not know what jatamansi is supposed to smell like, what I smell is a cross between thyme, sage and perhaps even cardamom. Very wearable, very likeable, and in Eau de Toilette, probably absolutely perfect for summer. The oil blends into the skin quickly and does not leave a sticky residue, which is great. Still, I’d much rather wait for the Eau. L’Huile pour le Corps costs €60.00 for 250ml and is available at L’Artisan Parfumeur boutique online.
Le Bain Secrete Afrique by Esteban. This piquant little number starts with a mouthwatering citrus accord, slowly acquires soft, warm spiciness of ginger and eventually dries down to a slightly earthy, dry, woody base. Simple and tasteful, but perhaps a little too citrusy-sweet for me. I couldn’t find Le Bain Secrete Afrique at the online stores that carry Esteban line, so perhaps it isn’t available in the US just yet.
Cult of Helios by Voluspa. This fragrance is everything I used to love about heliotrope and everything that now makes me slightly nauseous. I am not sure I can do this scent justice, simply because I Can Not Stand Heliotrope In Big Doses, Arrgh! …but …trying to be objective here…for those who love the sweet, slightly almondy, doughy powderiness of heliotrope, enriched by vanilla, for those who prefer their florals to have a subtle gourmand quality and don’t mind a hefty dose of musk, Cult Of Helios might be a must-try. $24.00 for 15.5ml at Your-Cosmetics.com. Sorry, have to run and wash it off now, see you tomorrow for the final installment of The Sniffathon.
French Lover by Frederic Malle / Pierre Bourdon and Three New Parfum d'Empire Scents
Osmoz reports that in May, Frederic Malle will release a new perfume created by Pierre Bourdon (Iris Poudre, Institut Tres Bien Colognes, Feminite du Bois) called French Lover. Apparently, Malle's "original idea was to create a fuller-bodied version of the scent Angéliques sous la Pluie. But the creator and the perfumer soon went beyond that concept to come up with a sophisticated men’s scent, ‘super-sensual, but not trashy.’" I am quite frankly glad they abandoned the idea of plumping up Angéliques, since its very charm lies in its cold, ethereal translucency. The notes include "dazzling green notes of pimento and galbanum, iris, cedar, trimofix, angelica, frankincense and vetiver. Mosses, musks, ambroxan and karanal bestow ‘a kind of plant-based animal quality that immediately evoked the smell of a man’ [for the creators]". 1.7 fl. oz.: €90; 3.4 fl. oz.: €135.
Love the notes, dislike the cheesy name.
Also according to Osmoz, in late June, Parfum d’Empire will launch three new fragrances, "whose names are still top secret". They are said to be "a woody-iris scent inspired by the Roman Empire; a ferny blond-tobacco one inspired by the colonial-Indian Empire; and a fruity-floral osmanthus scent inspired by the Chinese Empire".
The image is from osmoz.com.
Les Parfums de Rosine Website
After looking for Les Parfums de Rosine website in vain for a couple of years, I finally stumbled upon it quite accidentally. The tastefully-pink site features descriptions of perfumes in French and English, and the online boutique is said to be up and running soon.
The photo of Marie-Hélène Rogeon is from les-parfums-de-rosine.com.
Monday, April 16, 2007
Colombina VS. NorEaster
Hello All Readers,
Mr. Colombina here ... NO I haven't hijacked the wife's blog and I haven't buried her under the porch either (we live in an apartment building - no porch -hahaha.
But seriously, the great NorEaster storm that is savagely attacking the Mid Atlantic states has left us with a power cut for the moment.
So at Colombina's request, I've logged on to her blog from work just to say, she is concerned and wanted you to know she'll be back as soon as the utility company has us up and running again - to respond to your comments.
All the best!
(and all the best from Colombina as well).
Strike that. NorEaster has been defeated. I am baaaaack.
It's a Sniffathon! Part 1 - Rich Hippie and Satellite
I am drowning in samples, so, as a radical measure aimed at reviewing as many as possible as fast as possible, I decided to have a Sniffathon of new-ish releases. Today is Part 1.
Foxy Lady by Rich Hippie. One of the new Rich Hippie scents, Foxy Lady starts with what I came to think of as a trademark Rich Hippie citrus, sweet, “thick”, slightly boozy, and reminiscent of lemon candy. The citrus keeps going strong for a long while; very slowly earthy patchouli starts to become noticeable…And that is pretty much it- luscious citrus fruits and patch, a bright, opulent, almost edible scent, a little too simple to be worth $325.00 for 1/2oz for me.
Hoochie Coochie by Rich Hippie. Another new addition to this organic, wildcrafted collection of fragrances, Hoochie Coochie (as Chandler Bing would say, too many jokes! too many jokes!) begins as a sweet floral with just a hint of citrus. I smell ylang-ylang that is made even creamier than it naturally is by the presence of vanilla. As the scent progresses, it acquires a dry, resinous, woody undertone and at the same time a raw, earthy note that makes me think of boiled courgettes. I encountered that note before, in S-Perfume Sloth, and I have a feeling that it might be neroli behaving in such quirky manner. The drydown is balsamic and sweet, with a hint of vanillic boozyness. Much more interesting than Foxy Lady, but, at $325.00 for 12oz, still way out of my price range.
Woodstock by Rich Hippie. The third new scent released by Rich Hippie in the last couple of months, Woodstock strikes me as the most interesting, simply because it does not feature an overwhelming citrus note nor it is vanillic. It is a gorgeous, dark and spicy, brew of frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, ylang ylang, roses and rose geranium. The peppery incense, the sweet myrrh, the velvety sandalwood, and the piquant floral accord compliment each other beautifully. A must-sniff for the lovers of dark rose scents, incense and woods. Besides, compared to the other two scents, at $135.00 for 1/2oz it almost seems like a bargain.
40º à l’Ombre by Satellite. I have issues with grapefruit in perfume, the note either has a sharp, almost uric undertone on my skin or becomes too overwhelmingly, annoyingly sparkling and sweet…or both, as is the case with Pamplelune The Terrible. The good news is that 40º has no unpleasant acidity; the bad news is that it is rather sweet and more sparkly, happy, smiley, bubbly that I can possibly bear. It is a very pretty citrus fragrance, but our temperaments clash in the most unfortunate manner. I will pass.
A La Figue! by Satellite. Not as green as many fig scents, A La Figue! smells of tree bark and twigs rather than leaves…and underneath that soft woodiness lies a subtly-floral, even more subtly-fruity accord, which, strangely, makes me think of my beloved Marina de Bourbon. An understated but rather interesting fig perfume…not sure if I need a full bottle, but I do rather like it.
Corrida by Satellite. Very ripe, sweet black currants and honeyed pink roses, this is the image that Corrida conjures in my mind. I also smell a bit of raspberry, and this particular combination of fruits and flowers reminds me of my great grandparents’ dacha and happy summers of my childhood. As it develops, however, the scent becomes a little watery, rather bland, and just like any other fruity floral on the market. The word that comes to mind when I think about the middle and base notes of Corrida is Generic. Another pass.
Ipanema by Satellite. My favorite among the four new Satellite scents, Ipanema is creamy, dreamy tropical fragrance, an instant vacation in a bottle. With its subtle citrus note and its coconut, it reminds me quite a bit of Creed’s Virgin Island Water, however Ipanema feels much heavier, much more straightforward and simplistic, much more obviously coconutty. I do think that it is a great cheaper alternative to Virgin Island Water, but I would probably much rather wait and save my pennies for the real thing.
The three new Rich Hippie scents are available at Rich-hippie.com. The new Satellites are sold at Luckyscent and cost $80 for 100ml.