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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Perfume Stars: Summer Favorites. Part 4

In Part 4 of Perfume Stars it is my pleasure and an honor to share with you summer favorites and ideal holiday destinations of some of the most talented women perfumers and perfume line creators. We start in the USA…

Mandy Aftel, Aftelier

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

In a phone interview, Mandy Aftel told us that she gives preference to lighter fragrances in summer and generally believes that a scent should be appropriate for a season and a time of day rather than for specific social occasions. It is a lot like eating, says Aftel, stressing the importance of seasonality; some things are more appealing in summer, some in winter.

Speaking of specific essences, to the sourcing of which she devotes a lot of time, care and effort, Aftel mentioned that she considers the ones that went into the making of her new perfume, Cognac, to be well-suited for summer. These essences are ginger, blood orange, and olive. Aftel also likes sarsaparilla, which has a light, fruity, root-beery fragrance, as well as boronia, the smell of which she describes as a cross between freesia and raspberry.

Lightness for Aftel seems to be the most important characteristic, however she stresses that when she speaks of lightness, she means it in terms of odor profile. Lightness for her does not equal simplicity, the scent should be light but complex.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

Mandy Aftel’s favorite holiday destination is Oaxaca, Mexico, which she finds to have a stimulating, artisanal environment, and to be beautiful, lush and aromatic.

Sarah Horowitz-Thran, Creative Scentualization

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“My favorite summer fragrance is of course, 2 fragrances - how can I narrow it down to one? I wear Peace and Light from our 'What comes from Within' Collection in the summer - Peace daily, and Peace layered with Light when I am going somewhere special or out in the evening. 'Peace comes from Within' is the perfect everyday summer scent for me - it is a simple, three note blend - Bergamot, Pacific Musk ( a compound I created that is at once earthy and oceanic) and Sandalwood. It can be worn by men as well as women, it is fresh and clean and completely unobtrusive, and it wears very naturally on the skin. 'Light comes from Within' is much softer - floral and feminine. It has a night Jasmine/Honeysuckle accord in the middle note that gives a sweetness without being to sweet - and it is light enough for summer. When I layer them, I get this clean, soft feminine scent that my husband LOVES - and it makes me feel beautiful and natural all at once.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“My favorite holiday destination is pretty basic - anywhere with a beautiful, open beach, warm turquoise waters, and my family. Preferably with a cocktail in hand, toes in warm sun, laughter of my daughter in the background. Oh, and if it's Bora Bora, with the scent of Plumaria and Tiare in the air, Vanilla beans grown not to far away, and I can go scuba diving - all the better.”

Jalaine Sommers, Jalaine Fragrances

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“I love sandlewood, all citrus scents, lavender, rose, amber
I like soft sweet smells in the summer, nothing heavy...”

What is your favourite holiday destination?

“Figi is my favorite holiday destination.”

Yosh Han, Yosh

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“In the summer, I prefer to fragrances that are sheer and simple. Mostly single notes like neroli. I also like simple floral green fragrances for summer too. Freesia, iris, linden blossom. These are terrific in the summer. The other day, I made a simple spritz of geranium and spearmint. So deliciously cooling. I think the smell of berries is scrumptious and other fruity fragrances. I love my U4EAHH! because it's so juicy! Pear, pomegranate, cuke, aloe & waterlily. Unfortunately, it isn't the best for my skin type. Go figure. But I love it on other people. It's a very easy to wear fragrance for the hot season.

I also love Guerlain's Pamlelune. L'Artisan's Mimosa is refreshing for this season too. And I have Santa Maria Novella's Ginestra. It's delicate and barely there. I also have a beautiful violet fragrance that I got from a tiny specialty Italian boutique here in San Francisco called Bell'occhio. They're the only ones in the world who sell it.

I recently picked up Tigresse again that I made for a wedding dress maker. It is a sheer floral with a hint of mint. It's refreshing. It's nice to remember fragrances. I went into Jo Malone a few weeks ago. They gave me a sample of Nectarine Blossom & Honey. It took me back to the summer I graduated high school. Malone's lime blossom is great too. I bought TOUCH Uchino Herbal Green blend in Tokyo. Wow. It's citrusy and green. I feel elated when I smell that. It gives me the same sensation as fresh mown hay. And I like this oil I got from Terra Nova called Sakura & Green Tea. It smells very peaceful to me.“

What is your favourite holiday destination?

“My favorite holiday destinations are places where I can have peace and quiet and go scuba or snorkel. I went to Cairns and Port Douglas in Australia and had a marvelous time between the Great Barrier Reef and the Rain Forest. The Great Barrier Reef is kind of a once in a life time adventure. I've never seen such big corral, extra giant clams, the tropical fish are just enormous. The Big Island of Hawaii is gorgeous too. More primal, go for the less touristy spots to feel Spirit energy. Kas in the coastal Mediterranean of Turkey. Wow. Quaint. Great food and people. Shopping. Swimming. Ruins. But if I want super city, I always love going to Japan. I love it. Tokyo, Kyoto, so many things to see and do. The food is incredible. Shopping is crazy. I went diving once there while it was pouring rain with lightning storms to see the electric eels. The Japanese are fanatical about certain things. And for scuba, they were dressed in neon team scuba gear. When the lightning strikes, the whole black sea lights up and you see the eels and people in neon. It's wild. I've never experienced anything like that before. Then I hopped over to Guam for wreck diving. It has US navy presence there so the sunken ships are huge. I saw a 300 lb jew fish. I almost had a hard attack. I thought it was a monster. The visibility was crystal clear. I love to spend time on holiday being in nature. It is the most important thing for me to be connected.”

DelRae Roth, Parfums Delrae

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“In the summer I wear Eau Illuminée. It is aromatic and fresh, uplifting and feels right whether it is very warm or cool (and foggy). It has some marine notes, and is refreshing as being in the country near the ocean. I don't like scents that are too baroque in the summer. I also wear Début which has the lily of the valley, linden blossom and vetyver.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“It really depends on the time of year, but regardless of season I love to go to Paris, I know, who doesn't. It is always beautiful, compelling, and something new to see and discover.”

To be continued on Friday.

Images courtesy of Mandy Aftel, Sarah Horowitz-Thran, Jalaine Sommers, Yosh Han and DelRae Roth.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Perfume Review: Prada Cuir Ambre, Iris and Oeillet

A couple of years before releasing their signature scent into wide distribution, Prada launched a collection of several exclusive perfumes that were more or less only available in Prada boutiques. (I say "more or less", because it seems that the fragrances also were or still are sold in Harrods as well as in Printemps and Galleries Lafayette in Paris ). The fragrances were Cuir Ambre, Fleur d'Oranger, Iris, and Oeillet. According to Now Smell This, in 2007, Narcisso, Tubereuse and Violette were also added to the collection. I distinctly remember smelling yet another exclusive Prada scent, called Iris Santal, but it might have been a very short-lived limited edition of some sort. Today I am talking about Cuir Ambre, Iris and Oeillet.

Cuir Ambre. The three scents have a luxurious, sumptuous feel, and Cuir Ambre is the richest smelling of all. Its elegantly robust, warm leather accord with a slight vanillic and substantional ambery undertone should delight fans of Tabac Blond, Knize Ten, Cuir Mauresque and Royal English Leather. The lavish, powdery orris in the heart and the deep, slightly smoky, woody base gave the scent a very appealing classic, maybe even retro quality. This is a gorgeous, full-bodied, hearty leather scent that is certainly worth its price ( I must note that all three are parfums).

Iris (not to be confused with the new Infusion d'Iris. ) is a beautiful woody iris fragrance that on my skin has none of the raw feel which sometimes accompanies iris in perfume and which to me is the best feature of an iris note. I don't hold this against Prada's creation though, because instead it offers an attractive almost-fruity characteristic, which makes the powdery note a little" juicier" than usual, and a charming sandalwood-vanilla drydown that is soft and cuddly, in a fluffy-skin-scent sort of way. Much less robust than Cuit Ambre or Oeillet, Iris has the least lasting power on me.

Oeillet. I said many times that I am not a fan of carnations in perfume (or at all), but there are a select few fragrances that I like featuring the note, and Oeillet is one of them. Like Cuir Ambre, it easily could have been created in the beginning of the 20th century. It has the unselfconscious opulence, the gorgeous trail, and the lasting power of an old classic. This rendition of carnation is both powdery and creamy, with a little bit of spice thrown in to fire up what otherwise could have been a rather prim and proper blend. To compare it to other carnation scents, it reminded me a little of Patou's sadly defunct and just as creamily-gorgeous Adieu Sagesse. Like Cuir Ambre, Oeillet seems to me to be worth every euro they are asking for it.

When Ina and I visited Prada boutique in New York, we were told that the range of these exclusives perfumes is not carried anymore (it was not made clear whether this just refers to this particular boutique, to Prada boutiques in the US or to all boutiques worldwide), because they were not financially successful. It seems, however, that the perfumes are available in Paris, at Printemps and Galleries Lafayette. If they indeed have been discontinued (in the US?), it is a big shame, as these are wonderfully well-blended, beautiful, high quality scents. Samples of Cuir Ambre, Iris and Oeillet can be found at Fishbone Fragrances.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

New subscription option

I added another subscription option - FeedBlitz. Now you can susbribe to Perfume-Smellin' Things using THIS FORM or by entering your email address into the FeedBlitz box on the right sidebar, under Subscribe. The updates will be delivered directly to your email.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Perfume Stars: Summer Favorites. Part 3

Day Three of Perfume Stars: Summer Favorites is devoted to the preferred warm-weather scents and ideal holiday destinations of some of my favorite perfume experts and writers and of the wonderful boys from Made by Blog.

Chandler Burr

What are your favorite summer fragrances?

“This list is going to change constantly, not only next summer but probably in a day or two. But at the moment what comes to mind is

Tommy Girl
Light Blue
Un Jardin sur le Nil
Un Jardin en Mediterranee
Kelly Caleche
Osmanthe Yunnan
Une Fleur de Chanel
Chanel No 18
Pure Poison

OK, I've got to stop!”

What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“I actually don't believe in summer and winter scents; I think that you can and should wear anything (in the right dosage) all year. But you could argue (and I'm willing to do so) that a summer scent should be one that in some way refreshes and lightens in the summer heat. All the above do that in some way or other. The Kelly Caleche I chose because it's an astonishing scent, the lightest, purest, cleanest leather in the world, and while we think of leather as a winter scent, this one works perfectly in summer.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“Fire Island-- it's the best, all-American, basic, nothing fancy fun.”

Marian Bendeth, Sixth Scents

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“I love to emulate my surroundings, the brilliance of nature and colours that come with the hot sun in a feminine and crisp way. Of course my day and evening scents in the summer months are very different.

I love to wear "Eau de Patou" that has a brilliant citrus top with a twist of lemon, lime honeysuckle and pepper for a kick when no one expects it! I also love the crispness of Aire Loewe, a striking aldehydic green with sumptuous Galbanum and Vetiver which lifts my spirits to a fresh meadow. Other treasures include Climat, Lancome, Silences, Jacomo, Tamango, Lèonard, Charles Jourdan or Rumeur, Lanvin. All floral green notes, none of them sweet but rather dry or dew-drop. My evening tastes depend on how and with whom the evening is spent!”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“Although I have been to some extraordinary places, I have yet to visit my dream country and city, Rio di Janiero, Brasil! I have a collection of Brasilian Bossa Nova and to listen to that wonderful music, smelling the incredible flowers and fauna at dusk, standing on Corcovado would be my dream come true.”

Michelle Krell Kydd

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“When it comes to summer scents one must consider climate and humidity. In the summer there is a natural inclination towards scents that refresh. We sweat more and are surrounded by temperatures which increase the volatility of fragrances. When one veers on the lighter side of scent, reapplication and fragrance layering is in order. I have three favorites I use in the summer; Slatkin’s Persian Lime Blossom and Mimosa (fragrance and shampoo), Commes de Garcons 2 (fragrance and body cream) and Annick Goutal’s Eau de Hadrien (fragrance and shampoo).”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“I’d have to say New Orleans at Christmas time. The city’s warmth is a reprieve from eastern winters in New York and a drive through the Oaks Park, with its shimmering and intricate holiday lights, is absolutely breathtaking. I have a secret wish regarding the visual splendor of this park—that someone will bottle the emotion and images that weave through this veritable fairyland of dreams and wishes, and align it with a charity that helps New Orleans get back on her feet.”

Made by Blog

Clement Gavarry

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“For Women: Happy, Light Blue
For Men: Polo Blue, Unforgivable”

What is your favorite holiday destination?


Laurent Le Guernec

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“My summer fragrance is the same as my regular fragrance, because I wear a lot of fresh fragrances. For me it is more a mood thing rather than a season thing.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“I love to go places where you can relax and visit at the same time, and Mexico is great for that. But my best vacations still is 3 weeks in the south of France. I'm sure there are many places like that but I haven't been there yet.”

Nobi Shioya, S-Perfume / Shaping Room

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“Why would I want to spoil my BO with men's fragrances? Here's how to make the ultimate men's scent for summer. Go to a boxing gym on a sizzling hot day. Inside the above-90-degree gym with closed windows, do the two-hour routine including sparing with black, Puerto Rican, and red-haired white fighters. Get the sparring partners' sweat, saliva, and blood over your body. You will feel and look like you swam in olive oil after that. Don't take a shower after, in stead, pour 2 to 3 oz. of the 2005 version of 100% Love all over yourself. You will feel sexier than Brad Pitt in Fight Club.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“I cannot decide on one destination... my favorite destinations will vary depending on the season, my mood, and the length of the vacation. If I have two to three weeks around Christmas and New Year's, I will stay in Big Island and hop to the other islands. If it's one week around Thanks Giving, I will go somewhere on the Atlantic coast in Mexico or Belize. For summer, two weeks in the South of France will be perfect.”

To be continued next week.

Images courtesy of Chandler Burr, Marian Bendeth, Michelle Krell Kydd, Clement Gavarry (more photos of Clement in today's post on Made by Blog), Nobi Shioya (the photo is of his sculpture of a dying boxer).

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Perfume Review: Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Fico di Amalfi

Review by Tom

With all of the postings about the top tens of summer, I thought I would post one that did not make the list. Added in 2006 to the seemingly endless series of Blu Mediterraneo series from this venerable house, Fico di Amalfi opens with an initial soapiness, which is immediately shoved aside by the light citrus peel: one can smell bergamot, orange and meyer lemon. Although it's not listed, I smell a faint greenness in there, like parsley. They insist that there is fig in there, I suppose that the slightly sweet green scent that I am identifying as "parsley and inoffensive" could be construed as fig. Well, if you'd never eaten one. They also mention jasmine, musk and woods, but the scent pooped out before it ever got to that phase. I got a vague aquatic base in the drydown that was, er, nice.

Well, I am perfectly willing to admit that I am a hard sell: I am jaded and spoiled by the fact that I have stores from Barneys and Neimans to ScentBar and All Purpose to feed my jones for the ever more outre. Tell me that your perfume smells of Tiare flower, yak urine and sea mud and I am right there saying "gimme". I am perfectly willing to accept that it's unfair for me to judge the house by the brilliance of the original Acqua di Parma. Having written that, if this was the latest CKwhatever I would be singing its praises. As it is I will mark it as "pleasant", but no, I will not be tempted to purchase a full bottle.

Fico di Amalfi is available at the sellers of Acqua di Parma: where the original, divine Colonia is $111 for 6 ounces. Fico is available at $92 for 4 ounces. Fico is nice. The original is brilliant to the point where you will want to bathe in it. The original is Cary Grant. Fico is Cary Elwes. Cary Elwes is yummy. Cary Grant was way yummier. You be the judge.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Beautiful Ghosts: Smelling Blotters from the Osmotheque

Friends are the best. Friends-in-perfume are the best of all. You read Judith's article about her fabulous smelling expedition to Paris yesterday; in it, she mentions the visit to the Osmothèque, which was the excursion I envied the most. To be able to touch or rather inhale perfume history, to smell "disappeared" fragrances has been a dream of mine for a long time. Imagine my amazement and joy when a couple of days ago I received from a marvelous perfume friend two dozen blotters from the Osmothèque, carefully signed with the names of the perfumes the (surprisingly strong!) traces of which they were bearing.

Fath Iris Gris was there and Rosine Le Fruit Défendue and Coty Ambre Antique...I spread the blotters on a table, the aromas fusing into a powerful, poignant blend ...the house was unusually quiet and ... trust me, I am most decidedly not a believer in the supernatural... but I had a strange sensation of the long-gone perfumers standing behind me. To put it in saner terms, I felt myself in the presence of greatness.

I own samples of a couple of the scents, but could never bring myself to review them. How can I possibly do justice to Chypre de Coty? Millot Crêpe de Chine? I am hesitant to smell deeply, let alone analyze Lanvin Scandal in fear of breaking my leather-loving heart. (I live in fear of Lanvin deciding to reissue Scandal. Rumeur, a lovely fragrance when taken on its own merit, had nothing whatsoever to do with the deep and bold original scent. The thought of a politically-corrected Scandal is too unbearable. Lancôme is about to release the new Cuir, and I am apprehensive, to put it mildly.)

The blotter with Chypre de Coty (1917) in one hand, the sample vial in the other, I inhaled. Dark, honeyed, slightly bitter rose accord was slowly transforming into subtly-indolic jasmine, the base (and the aroma of the blotter) had subtle earthiness and elegant animalic-ness. I liked the other legendary chypre, Crêpe de Chine (1925), perhaps even more, as it was spicier, more aromatic, and had an earthier, darker base. (By the way, in Classification des Parfums et Terminologie, Société Française des Parfumeurs attributes the creation of Crêpe de Chine to none other than Jean Desprez, he who gave us Bal a Versailles). The luxurious and dirty leather of Scandal (1933) was nothing short of divine...or perhaps it is more fitting to say that it was diabolically gorgeous. The top notes of the scent from my sample smelled sweet and musky and a little obscene in an indescribable and very alluring way. The orrisy heart was languid and slightly powdery. Testifying of the strength and long-lasting nature of the fragrance, the blotter smelled amazingly strong, as if freshly sprayed- of tarry, dry, almost a little incensey, pitch-black leather in the base of the composition.

While the samples gave the illusion of reality to the three perfumes described above, the others were truly the ghosts. And what heartbreakingly beautiful ghosts they were...Fath Iris Gris (1947), the scent I longed to smell the most, was ...ah! unbelievably beautiful. Imagine a more "substantial", less "ethereal", warmer and somewhat woodier Iris Silver Mist with an almost fruity note added...and that would give you a very vague idea of the heavenly aroma of the blotter...

Coty Ambre Antique (1905) left on the blotter a tantalizing trace of slightly fruity, milky amberiness. The honeyed, dark-red roses of La Rose Jacqueminot (1904) made me understand like never before why, after Coty intentionally broke the bottle of this fragrance in Grands Magasins du Louvre, the world has gone crazy about his perfumes.

Rosine Le Fruit Défendu (1914) was true to its name, exactly as I would imagine a mythical forbidden fruit to smell like: an indolent, creamy, sinfully sweet aroma of nectarous, over-ripe fruits (apples? plums? maybe even bananas?) enriched further by a buttery floral accord (ylang-ylang? tuberose?) with an almost coconutty undertone. The fragrance evoked an aroma of fruits and flowers so ripe, they are starting to decay, reminding us of Thanatos, which is forever inseparable from Eros. Le Fruit Défendu was perhaps the most unusual and intriguing of the Ghosts and, along with Iris Gris, the one that I would have most loved to own and wear. A girl can dream!

Image sources: the top image is mine, the rest are from

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Paris Sniffa

Eiffel Tower at Night
Article by Lilybp (Judith)

Well, I am back from the fabulous sniffapalooza in Paris (arranged by "les Karens"), accompanied by 16 perfumistas, one perfumisto, and one long-suffering husband (hereafter known as Mr. Lily). Our days were jam-packed, and I–not realizing I would be writing this—did not take any notes, so my report will be relatively brief.

Patricia de Nicolai at OsmothèqueFor me, at least, the unquestionable highlight of the trip was our visit to the Osmothèque: they opened it especially for us, and we were given a tour and a lecture on the history of perfume by none other than Patricia de Nicolai (one of my traveling companions explained to her husband that this was comparable to being given guitar lessons by Bruce Springsteen)! OsmothèqueWe got to smell a number of "disappeared" perfumes, including Eau de Lubin, Coty Rose Jacquemot, Origan, Chypre, and Ambre Antique, Houbigant Fougère Royale, Lanvin Scandal, the original Balmain Vent Vert and Grès Cabochard--and two that I had been dying to smell for quite some time, Fath Iris Gris and Rosine Fruit Défendu. In their literature, the Osmothèque also speaks of "disappeared" perfumers, which I suppose means that they are dead, although I prefer to imagine that they are in Never Neverland, creating perfumes for Amelia Earhart, Judge Crater, and Jimmy Hoffa.. While at Versailles, we also visited the ISIPCA perfume school, and were given gifts of the students’ creations.

Antoine MaisondieuOther unusual and wonderful opportunities included visits to the perfume creators, Givaudan and Firmenich. At Givaudan, we toured the labs and saw how perfumes were made, and were fortunate enough to speak with Antoine Maisondieu, perfumer extraordinaire and Camus grandson (Marina is still swooning), who discussed and let us sniff many of his fragrances. At Firmenich, we smelled the raw materials of several famous perfumes and saw how they were put together. A wonderful workshop at L’Artisan proceeded in the same manner, and showcased the creation of their new Jatamansi products; and we were given an extremely informative walking tour of Montmartre by François Duquesne, the president of the line.

On Montmartre with François DuquesneSeveral of the houses hosted beautiful receptions for us. The amazing–and amazingly young–Lisa Simon fêted us with champagne, Ladurée macaroons featuring her rose scent (created by Olivia Giacobetti), and incredible chocolates; she also provided each of us with a hand-and-arm massage using her products. We had more champagne with Claude Marchal (my latest crush), his lovely wife, and the charming Stéphanie Bakouche, the creator of my favorite MDCI scent, Invasion Barbare. We got a complete tour of Guerlain, including the VIP rooms in their spa (relaxing even to look at). I was unable to attend the reception at État Libre d’Orange, but it was supposed to be great, and everyone was buzzing about a beautiful new rose scent they will soon release. Many people really enjoyed a visit to the Baccarat museum, which your lazy correspondent also missed (shopping, shopping). And since we were all too exhausted by the time we were supposed to visit Crazy Libellule, the gracious people there brought wonderful gift bags to our hotel.

At Palais Royal ShiseidoAnd, of course, we shopped!! I did serious damage at Montale, Dior, Serge Lutens, and Printemps. Unlike many others, I held fast at Guerlain (merely splitting some Nahema parfum with Nancy), but that was because I already have most of their fragrances! Among my favorite new finds were the (pricey) Montale pure parfums, Indian Saffron and Santal de Mysore, which I split with some friends, Montale Bois de Aoud, Prada Cuir Ambre LE parfum (OK, this has been out for some time, but I never smelled it), and Stéphanie de Saint-Aignan Berberiades. We had drinks (at the Hotel Costes) and dinner with Karl from Aedes, and our trip was capped by a lovely dinner-and-dancing cruise on the Seine. Then–because too much is never enough--Mr. Lily and I had a final, extraordinary meal at Taillevent (he wore his new purchase, French Lover).

Notre Dame at NightHmmmm. . . .I guess that wasn’t so brief. But there was much, much more! It’s hard to believe that it was all just last week. Everyone I have spoken to wants to go back NOW!! And we are all forever grateful to les Karens, the Sniffapalooza Queens!

Images - Eiffel Tower at Night, Patricia de Nicolai at Osmothèque, Perfume Cabinet in Osmothèque, Versailles, Antoine Maisondieu, Givaudan, On Montmartre with François Duquesne, At Palais Royal Shiseido and Notre Dame at Night - are courtesy of Mr Lily and Robin Sper.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Perfume Stars: Summer Favorites. Part 2

In the second part of Perfume Stars: Summer Favorites, the creators of some of the most exciting new lines tell us about their ideal warm-weather scents and their preferred holiday destinations.

Pierre Guillaume, Parfumerie Generale

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“It is rather more a matter of personality than of climate… Personally I am fond of woody and oriental themes. That’s why I can appreciate heady and generous scents, even in the heat of summer, if they are well done. A tanned skin can give a particular emphasis to oriental fragrance, noble and rich in natural components…On the contrary, so called “fresh” or “aquatic” fragrances can sometimes become disappointing in the heat; their fragile citrus and ozonic components are then most affected. So the alternative would be to use scents for which the naturalness shines and dominates.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“My favorite place for holidays? Just like the composition of the Ideal Perfume, I guess I am still searching! The Balearic Islands, Italy, Morocco… The Mediterranean is the best destination for “Farniente”. But I am also lucky enough to live in a beautiful region: Auvergne offers a huge variety of landscapes. Water can be found everywhere and has shaped “formidable” landscapes of amazing beauty. Life is effervescent: everything seems simple, obvious and so powerful: it is a genuine source of inspiration and is essential to my well-being.”

Christopher Brosius, CB I Hate Perfume

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“i like the smells of real things best so my favorite scents are those of the natural world - things that smell of the country, the forest or the sea. i suppose since i spend the majority of my time in a heavily urban area, those smells remind me of where i'd rather be. my favorite perfume at the moment is "wild hunt" (my forest archetype) but i still wear a lot of "memory of kindness" in the summer as well as "CB93". and though i'm not generally drawn to ocean smells myself, i've been wearing a lot of "eternal return" too this summer.

i've also been drawn to the scent of white flowers lately as well which i find unusual - i used to hate them. still there are many times i wear "cradle of light" usually if i have to go into the city or to dinner on a hot summer evening. in the daytime the perfume's hypnotic quality keeps me calm and i really enjoy its serenity in the evening.

once in a while though when the weather is very hot or humid, i'll wear a scent that isn't usually thought of as a "summer" fragrance - deep slightly spicy scents like "patchouli EMPIRE" or my version of "gingerbread". the latter is especially invigorating yet sensual in heavy weather.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“interesting question as i don't really take them - i haven't had a proper vacation since 1998 and even then i wound up working during the second week. this is often a problem for me because if i'm breathing in and out, i'm working...

still i'd have to say my favorite places are small towns in the country with at least a few excellent bookshops; preferably somewhere in the forest or by the sea. there are a few places i love in napa & sonoma, on the south coast of england or in the catskills near woodstock. i can wander around through the woods, the vineyards or by the ocean and then spend hours looking for books.

i hate large crowds and loud noise so most popular holiday destinations are pretty much off my list.

there are a few cities i really enjoy spending time in as well though - especially london and san francisco. whenever i go there on business i try to schedule a couple of days to myself (and sometimes that works out). early next summer i'm planning a trip to grasse where i haven't been since the summer of 1980 - well before i had any thoughts of perfume. of course that's going to be largely a business trip but i remember it being such a beautiful place that i'm going to take a few days and simply poke around provence...”

Le Labo

Eddie Roschi

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“I like to wear all type of scents in summer and usually don’t really make the difference between heavy or lighter scents or winter or summer scents. I also wear the heavier scents in summer but in lighter mode by just putting less on! My favorites include Mugler’s Cologne, Le Labo’s Bergamote 22 or Tuberose 40, Comme des Garcons’s Palissandre, ...”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“A diving live-aboard for a week anywhere where diving is great and weather is blue!”

Fabrice Penot

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“First, I hate the fragrances with "summer edition" on them... it is usually an efficient way to recognize without even spraying a very bad perfume launched in a hurry by a brand to make some fast cash in. So, don't trust anyone claiming: "summer fragrance", but there are great classic fragrances that are perfect for the summer: fresh, elegant, smiling yet sensual...My favorites are "Green Tea" by BULGARY, Eau Sauvage by Dior and the one I am wearing today... BERGAMOTE 22 by Le Labo!!!”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“When you have your own perfume brand, you don't need holidays: you never work
But if I have to choose: EOLIEAN ISLANDS in Sicily (Italy) in September.”

Jessica Dunne, Ellie D

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

It's hard for me to define the ideal summer scent, for me it's many things, and I'm sure that I'm not alone when I say that it's impossible for me to pick my favorite! For me, the ideal summer scent is something that feels right with a summer dress and flip flops, something that doesn't feel stifling or overwhelming in the heat, yet can also be something soothing or nostalgic that wraps me in warmth on a cool evening. I've been wearing a number of scents this summer - when back in the U.S. in the oppressive heat, I favored the clean simplicity of Musc Bleu by Il Profumo, and Ambrette 9 by Le Labo - a gift I received after the birth of my daughter. I can smell my perfume on my baby after carting her around during the day, so it has definitely affected my choices of late.

Back at home in London where the weather has been brisk and unpredictable, I'm enjoying a variety that bring me comfort in their own way -- from Champaca and Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne, to In the Summer Kitchen by CB I Hate Perfume, and L'Eau D'Hiver, and Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“My favorite holiday destination - another challenge! I would have to say the Amalfi Coast in Italy.”

Ineke Ruhland, Ineke

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“Predictably, I like clean-and-fresh notes in the summer. For me, there is nothing nicer on really hot days than an uncomplicated citrus composition. This is perhaps somewhat ironic since citrus oils are the most photo-sensitizing raw materials on skin in the sun, but I think the crispness cuts through heat and humidity so nicely. One of my all-time favorites is Eau Vitaminé by Biotherm, and particularly the body cream is absolutely yummy.

Another wonderful citrus composition is Bulgari Eau Parfumée au thé vert by Jean-Claude Ellena. I remember when it first launched, everyone in our office in Paris was crazy about it, and I still think it is a great summer-time fragrance, crisp and delicious. I would say the citrus notes of my Chemical Bonding fragrance were indirectly inspired by both Eau Vitaminé and Bulgari Eau Parfumée au thé vert, although it has a more substantial amber/musk component to take it through the fall/winter.

I also think Stella by Jacques Cavallier of Firmenich is a lovely composition that reminds me of a fresh summer day. I bought it a couple of years ago because I wanted to study the construction of the cap, but I've found myself spritzing it on quite frequently. I think the rose/peony note is just about perfect, very close to a variety of climbing roses we grow in our backyard, called "Cecile Brunner". Rose oils and absolutes can be quite disappointing compared with living roses because they are so much denser and earthier, but Stella's rose note is so natural smelling that it's like Cavallier took rose oil and pumped the air and water pumped back in. I also think all the supporting notes are blended so harmoniously that you barely notice them, even while they add character and interest. I am always impressed by Jacques Cavallier's versatility and talent, and curious to see what he does next. The packaging of Stella is also quite beautiful, and I can understand why it has been such a big success.”

What is your favorite holiday destination?

“Paris, France: My husband and I go to Paris twice a year for a week or two. We bought an apartment in the Marais neighborhood when we lived there and decided to keep it when we moved to San Francisco, and we now rent it out most of the time. So when we get back, we end up spending about half of our time on maintenance and spring cleaning chores, but still have time to meet up with old friends and see what's new. We love staying connected to Paris, and Europe in general.

Our favorite thing to do in the US is to take short weekend trips around the Bay Area. We like to bring our dog, so we're always looking for dog-friendly places. Our favorite in Carmel-by-the-Sea is the Cypress Inn, owned by Doris Day, where dogs are welcome even in the bar/café. We also love Mendocino, Lake Tahoe in the winter, and the Napa/Sonoma wine country. I have designs on this place, which hasn't even opened yet: A pool, biking and a pet program — for me, it doesn't get any better!”

Andy Tauer, Tauer Perfumes

What are your favorite summer fragrances? What are the characteristics of your ideal summer scent?

“Finally, after weeks in rain and with temperatures like we had them in April, summer is here and Marina's question fits with the micro climate: My favorite summer fragrances.
Not an easy one. I think there are two answers. One summer scent is light and fresh and cool. It is refreshing like putting my head straight into the Limmat after 2 hours jogging. It fits with social life in summer, allowing me to enter public transport (without AC) and not adding my share to a suffocating cloud of musks and ambergris and lilies. This fragrance features lavender, citrus and decent woods. This fragrance is Pour un Homme by Caron.

And then, there is a second answer. This summer scent is a powerful statement and endures 30°C in the shadow. It is sexy. It is wild. But it is also very classy and it fits perfectly with a glass of white wine at 6 pm, the senses all enthralled by the heat and people around me wearing as little as possible. But, it is in all its wildness an elegant fragrance. In summer, especially heavy, strong, lasting fragrances need a thorough and very balanced composition. No cheating possible. The heat brings out all mistakes and what might smell like a nice ambergris vanilla accord at 20°C develops into a synthetic pudding with some washing powder. In this fragrance, I love how its tar notes and indoles are balanced with a peach accord and a clear crispiness. I think it is a little bit of a dandy scent; funny enough I love it, although I don't think I am a dandy. Thus, here's the picture: Sitting on the terrace on Elephant island in Luxor, watching the sun go down, nipping on my Chardonnay and dreaming the dream of past affairs. The fragrance: Knize Ten.

What is your favorite holiday destination?

"My favourite destination: Kenya.”

To be continued on Friday.

Images courtesy of Pierre Guillaume, Christopher Brosius, Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi, Jessica Dunne, Ineke Ruhland, Andy Tauer.

Elsewhere in Blogosphere...

...Mr. Colombina finally published a new rant on his blog, Deliver Rants.

I finally wrote a review of the new mods on Made by Blog.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Perfume in the Glossies

"More people talk about wanting a custom scent lately, but I believe what they're looking for is a perfume that's composed with some of the artistry and spirit that prevailed in the past", says Frederic Malle in his column in the August issue of Allure (page 118). For those searching for a signature scent Malle recommends "fragrances created by highly trained perfumers who have worked in one of the big perfumery labs"( ex. Grojsman's Eternity); perfumes produced by "companies that have an artistic approach" (ex. Serge Lutens); "classics" (ex. Mitsouko). Malle also very favorably mentions S-Perfume 100% Love, which will be available at Barney's in September.

Lauren Cohen announces "Purple's New Reign" on page 74, quoting Dara Quinlan, vice president of fragrance evaluation at Firmenich, who says that "purple flowers like violet and iris smell rich in a way that is very tasteful". Fragrances used as an example: Bvlgari Omnia Amethyste, Avon Imari Seduction, Boucheron Miss Boucheron, Caron Violette Precieuse (new one).

Rebecca Mead's article on Aerin Lauder, "The Good Heiress", mentions Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, "a tribute to her grandmother (...) and their mutual love of white flowers". (page 210) "Everyone who smells the new scent really loves it, because it is very floral, and it's very easy to wear. It's not plarising; there;s nothing unusual about it. It's not spicy and scary, it's just like a beautiful bouquet of flowers." (page. 245)

Other fragrances mentioned in Allure this month: Manuel Canovas Paris Anse Turquoise (bergamot, ylang, Peruvian balsam, page 68), SJP Covet (page 78). Scent strips: Light Blue (of course!), Avon Imari Seduction.

In comparison to Allure, Harpers Bazzar offers much less perfume-related content this month. "Bazaar Loves" Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (page 112), "Hot Scents" are Sarah Jessica Parker Covet and Marc Jacobs Daisy (page 122), and that's pretty much it. Scent strip: Missoni Acqua.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Top 10 of Summer

No season should be allowed to pass without being honored by a Best Of list. So today some of us, perfume bloggers, (participants listed at the end of the post) teamed up to simultaneously post our Top Tens of Summer.

Marina’s Ten

This summer, unexpectedly to myself, I fell in love with aoud-rose blends; I realized that the headiest, most sumptuous florals only truly blossom in the heat; and confirmed for myself once and for all that aldehydes are perfect in any weather. I can’t in all honesty say that I am much of a believer in seasonality in perfume. Granted, I haven’t been drawn to ambers and leathers in the last couple of months, but I suspect that is more to do with my fickle tastes rather than the temperatures outside. I intend to continue wearing the fragrances listed below when autumn comes (although as usual I am in denial about its imminent arrival)…as long as I still love them.

(In alphabetical order)

1) A Maze by People of the Labyrinths

Not being a fan (to put it mildly) of the original POTL scent, Luctor & Emergo, or of roses, I had serious doubts about even trying A Maze. I am so glad I opened my mind up a crack, because it was love at first sniff. The dark, luscious blend of roses, spices, woods and – I swear! - oud, is exquisite, sensual, blissful…I could go on.

2) Aoud Roses Petals by Montale

Another aoud-rose blend on my list, this is a simultaneously drier and, paradoxically, a little more delicate, dare I say, more girly rendition. Whereas I see A Maze as a contrast or rather, harmony of maroon and black, Aoud Roses Petals pairs black with pink. If you are afraid of wearing aouds in the heat, please, trust me on this, start with a tiny drop and give it a try before summer is over. The amazing sensuality of these scents really comes to its on when the weather is sultry…

3) Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle

…and so does the sensuality of white flowers. I have not been especially kind to Carnal Flower before, so watch me eat my words now. I think it is amazing and special. And I think I realized how beautiful it is exactly because I tried when the thermometer was about to explode from the heat. Its sumptuous, slightly mentholated, even more slightly coconutty sillage is absolutely gorgeous.

4) Chanel No 22

One of my favorite aldehyde scents, one of my holy grail scents in general, this beautiful classic is appropriate in any weather, any occasion, any surroundings. A true lady of a scent.

5) Diorama by Christian Dior

Everytime I put on Diorama I am filled with a sort of trepidation, which comes from being in the presence of greatness. To me, this sublime blend of dazzling flowers and animalic base is one of Edmond Roudnitska’s most divine creations.

6) Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle

Another one of my favorite aldehydic fragrances. Its shimmering, velvety, sensual composition is nothing short of olfactory perfection.

7) Le Maroc Pour Elle by Andy Tauer

I wear Le Maroc with much pleasure during the day, but this luscious, fiery, slightly indolic jasmine-rose blend is my perfume of choice for the sultry summer nights. In my feverish imagination, the sensuous scent transforms me into a Veronica Lake-like seductress and turns the surroundings into a set of an old, romantic Hollywood movie.

8) Mea Culpa by Les Parfums de Rosine.

It is said that one of the healing properties of tuberose consists in its ability to bring serenity to the mind and heart. That is certainly true about Rosine’s sun-lit (and sadly discontinued) creation. Its dazzling, warm aroma comforts me and lifts my spirits.

9) Une Fleur de Cassie by Frederic Malle

Ropion’s enigmatic creation is one of the scents I’ve been wearing the most this summer. I say, “enigmatic”, because it is incredibly soft and yet harsh, sunny and nocturnal, a beautiful paradox of a perfume.

10) Vintage Gardenia by Jo Malone

The naturally-creamy scent of gardenia is underscored here by the presence of myrrh. I find the combination irresistible. In general, I love it when gardenia is paired with a contrasting, darker note. Another example of such combo would be Tom Ford’s Velvet Gardenia, which by all rights should also be on my Top 10 list.

Tom's Ten

Choosing ten favorite summer scents is not as easy as you would think: I think that making a light but really interesting scent is truly one of the hardest things for a perfumer to pull off. Some try with just a bit of citrus, a touch of sweetness and a bit of wood, as if they had just diluted something that wasn't too interesting to begin with. These ten, some new and some old are certainly not going to be construed as falling into that trap. Since we have mostly covered them extensively (what with them being favorites and all) I will only briefly describe them, and they are only in some order of notes; I love and reach for them all equally in the heat of summer.

First, the citrus group:

1) Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien

The first Niche fragrance I ever smelled back in the dim, dead 80's at Bergdorf Goodman. As refreshing on a hot day as a cool citrus rain, this is perfection in a bottle. For me winner and still champ as the best citrus ever, and way up there in the pantheon of best fragrances ever.

2) Annick Goutal Eau de Sud

Leave it Annick Goutal to come back years later with a worthy counterpoint to the butterfly kiss of Hadrien: the peppery citrus of Eau de Sud is also wonderful. It's a sultry evening where you just melt into the warm twilight, a cool drink and a view of the moon on the water.

3) Acqua di Parma Colonia

More bracing and buttoned-up than the last two, this is the sort of scent that men or women can wear to the office, the playground, the boardroom or the beach and never be less then wonderful smelling. Cary Grant wore it. Don't we all want to be Cary Grant?

4) Hermes Hermes D'Orange Vert

Another one that I've never written of? What was I thinking? Hermes introduced this in 1979, at the time when most fragrances were as heavy as a Peterbilt and about as refined. A perfect blend of citrus, fruit and the barest whisper of oakmoss, this is a trip to the Riviera in a bottle.

Now a bit of spice:

5) Andy Tauer Reverie au Jardin

On a sultry day there is nothing nicer than lavender, and it's hard to think any could possibly be as refreshing as the cool mountain lavender in Reverie au Jardin. There are other gardens of course in this reverie that are equally suited to cold weather, but on a hot day that transportive chill is especially welcome.

And on to the vetivers:

6) Guerlain Vetiver

Guerlain's Vetiver is of course a classic: the gold standard of vetiver. It is also a truly brilliant bone-dry cocktail of a scent that like Acqua di Parma is as at home in a boardroom as it is on a boat. If Parma is Cary Grant, then Vetiver is Gary Cooper. How bad could that be?

7) Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel

Lyn Harris' newest and one that has completely taken me over. Dry salts that never get to the dreaded aquatic and cool vetiver: the scent of green waters lakeside and dappled shade. This will be in my cupboard just as soon as Saks in Beverly Hills gets it in, which better be damned fast...

8) Frederick Malle French Lover

Some days in summer you just have to dress up. Since summer is of course usually blazing this means white duck pants and a polo shirt or seersucker blazers. Nothing better to go with that than French Lover (I point blank refuse to call it Bois d'Orage): it has the solid, bankerly feel of a rock-ribbed Republican but with a poet’s heart. It simultaneously dresses you up and slyly dresses you down.

And two that absolutely should not work in summer, but absolutely do:

9) Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque

You might think that I have lost my mind: I wrote about 9 months ago how it was all smoky fruity goodness, curling up in a chair by the fire. But do you know what? That review was written in uncommon November heat, over 90 degrees. I still loved Fumerie Turque when the mercury hit 60 again, but I think its true magic is that it transports you to that fantasy mansion far more effectively in heat: it's closeness to the skin, lack of sillage and (for Lutens) fleeting character works far better on a hot day than a cold one. You're in that mansion, by that fire, and loving it..

10) Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan

Now you are sure that I have gone completely bonkers, but hear me out. Serge himself lives in Morocco, and there surely cannot be a more sultry place on earth. I love using Ambre Sultan in the winter for it's touch of the souk on the drab rainy days we get here in Los Angeles, but this one really sings in summer: those gorgeous spices and that slightly sticky amber go from a memory of heat to a vital, heady, gorgeous, living thing. Of course I personally don't wear more than the barest touch, but women can surely get away with more in the evenings and should: don't default to Eau de Nothingness because the evening's sultry. Get a little sultry yourself!

Please also check other Top 10 of Summer lists:


Bois de Jasmin

Now Smell This

Perfume Posse


The Weekend of Extreme Sniffing - The (Extremely Long) Report

Last weekend Ina of Aromascope came to visit, and the two of us hit New York. Hard. We sniffed our way from Midtown to Soho and back to Midtown. Despite what the image on the left, created by Mr Colombina, might imply (“their husbands’ credit cards”, as if!) we did not do that much monetary damage. Ina and I came to a sad conclusion that we became jaded. We sniffed it all and we know it all and there are just no surprises out there and nothing excites us anymore. It’s tragic really. The scents we liked and bought were the ones that we already knew and planned to buy anyway, whereas we hoped for something new to sweep us off our feet. Unfortunately that did not happen, but we had lots of fun anyway.

We started at Sephora on the 5th, simply because not much else was open. It might of course be that our hearts were still full of excitement and our noses completely fresh, but we were surprised at how many perfumes we liked. Ina suggested that I try Giorgio Armani Glam, and she was right, it is a lovely scent. I was underwhelmed by a rather pale-smelling Guerlain Angelique Lilas but liked Mandarine Basilic; the contrast of the herb and the fruits was very appealing. But the best part was the men’s section. I re-discovered the beautiful figs of Marc Jacobs for Men, the amazing, brooding incense of Gucci and loved the unexpected softness of Gucci II. I was also impressed by Fleurs du Mâle. It smelled so…feminine and lush. I haven’t bought anything there hoping to find great deals on these scents online... Mr Colombina’s collection is about to grow, whether he wants it to or not.

Our next stop was Saks, which sported an impressive array of scents and already had testers of some upcoming releases. I sprayed Acqua di Parma’s limited Edizione Riviera, which was refreshing and summery but not what I imagined or wanted. For some reason I hoped it would be softer and sweeter than the original, but it was even drier and quite sharp. There was also a tester of Prada Infusion d’Iris, which we both thought was very well done. It had an incensey, woody undertone, which we found appealing, but it was not really a “dark” or heavy scent at all. There was pleasant transparency in it, which was very elegant. We tried dozen other scents at the same time, so our impressions can't be too reliable, but our preliminary verdict was "thumbs up". The lady at the Chanel counter tried to get me excited about Chance Eau Fraîche. I did my best to look excited. Saks seems to still have a stock of Gardenia in small bottles, so if you are looking for one, try giving them a call. I also re-visited Joy and 24 Faubourg, both of which made me smell as if I had a couple hundred millions in the bank and a chihuahua in my Birkin bag. I promised myself that I will buy both…at an online discounter.

Wafting rich and powerful sillage we strolled on to Takashimaya. I’ve heard great things about its perfume section, but as far as I understand, it was transferred to a different floor and redesigned. I found it underwhelming, as it consisted of a wall and a quarter of shelves with not much of a selection. I finally tried Truly by Stephen Burlingham. It was pretty but not nearly unique enough for its price. The Fragonards, new and old, were as uninterested in smelling exciting on my skin as ever, as were Santa Maria Novellas and the three new 06130 scents. I did discover a new (for me) line, Detaille, and liked their Alizee, which smelled like a blend of luscious flowers (jasmine? ylang?) and soft woods. Ina fell in love with Yerbamate by Lorenzo Villoresi. It smelled fabulous on her, fresh but also warm and piquant. I can’t believe she did not buy it. The best part of Takashimaya visit was…its café. Ina treated me to a pot of Tak’s legendary rose tea (which totally lived up to its reputation) and grilled gruyère sandwiches. Next time I am in Tak, I am skipping perfume and going straight for the food.

With our stomachs happy and our noses not so much, we crossed the street and went to Henry Bendel…where Etat Libre d’Orange perfumes stood lonely in all their deceptively elegant glory. I gathered my courage and tried Don't Get Me Wrong Baby, I Don't Swallow, which turned out to be an inoffensive and frankly boring lily of the valley scent. The new Teo Cabanel, Alahine, smelled rich and ambery. Ina thinks it smells along the lines of Ambre Sultan, and I agree. It is Ambre Sultania, as it seems distinctly feminine to me. I re-visited the Aftelier scents and loved Cepes & Tuberose, which was dark, earthy and velvety. It has to be noted that Bendels had quite some perfume books on display and available to buy, including The Emperor of Scent, The Secret of Scent and some beautiful “table-books” on perfume. We chatted to the lovely Caroline at the L’Artisan counter and off we went to…

Bergdorf Goodman. There Miss Guerlain, Ina, dragged me straight to the Guerlain corner. I made a mistake of spraying myself liberally with Chamade parfum. Despite its dazzling beauty, it turned out to be overwhelming in the heat. The oils were…inexplicable. Garden Sensuel had no smell at all, and Oud Sensuel smelled incredibly faint of nothing in particular. Given the price point, I am hard-pressed to understand the idea behind these oils and their purpose. Guerlain also had the newly reissued Pucci scent, Vivara, on display. Now, I have not, to my shame, smelled the original Vivara, but I can venture a guess that it was not a generic fruity-floral, like the new version. Surprisingly, the best new thing that we got to smell at Bergdorfs, was Estee Lauder’s new Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. It was very elegant, smooth, really not nearly as overwhelming as the title notes are capable of being. I would like to give it a good long try, but I do have a feeling that it is going to be love. The mysteriously-dark JAR section was empty, so we did not get to experience the magic ritual, and so, slightly depressed by the lack of anything truly exciting to smell, we made our way to…

Barneys. The first thing I smelled there was Bois 1920 Sultra Ylang, which smelled old-fashioned… and by old-fashioned I actually mean out-dated. I spotted Strange Invisible Perfumes and was going to spray Galatea, which I have been meaning to try for a while, but smelled the nozzle, thought of my sad experience with Chamade and the sadder one with Sultra Ylang and decided to postpone the testing of the heavy-smelling potion till autumn or even winter. At this point Ina and I were pretty much desperate To Buy Something. Luckily, the Frederic Malle section was right there in front of us and so we did buy something. I got Iris Poudre, which was actually the one scent that I knew I was going to buy in NYC, Ina got Vetiver Extraordinaire. The lovely gentleman loaded us with samples, including those of body creams. Une Fleur de Cassie in cream smells incredibly luscious. I must have it soon. We chatted to Laurence at the L’Artisan counter and looked in on Le Labo corner, where we were promptly asked whether we know about the line. Wondering whether we don’t look like we know Everything, we said that yes, of course we do. The sales people everywhere must be trained to be able to spot a perfumista and a blogger … by the crazy gleam in their eyes and by the I’ve Smelled It All expression on their faces (the way Jason at Guerlain counter is capable of doing, but about that later). I almost bought Ambrette 9 but decided to leave it for now.

Finally sporting shopping bags of our own, we headed to Caron “boutique”. “Boutique” is truly an over-statement of the century, as the beautiful fountains are tucked away in a corner of some sort of a spa or a salon. There were no sales people there who knew much or cared about the line (just a guy at the reception), and there certainly were no customers. What a shame.

On Madison Avenue, our first stop was L’Artisan boutique, where we chatted with the beautiful Celine (by the way, there must be a policy at L’Artisan, according to which only the good-looking people may be hired, as they all are very cute, including Laurence, and – hello!- Ina). With somewhat of a trepidation we braved the Tom Ford boutique. We heard about the butlers and the haughty attitude. The butler was there but the attitude was not. The gorgeous red-head girl in the perfume room could not be sweeter. I sighed over Velvet Gardenia, and off we went through the darkly-elegant interior, passing on our way a very handsome man who was trying on a white shirt and…where was I? Oh, right. Perfume!

Hermes was next. Compared to Ford’s boutique, the service was sadly lacking. We waited for what seemed like ages at their perfume counter for someone to come and tell us whether they have a tester of Kelly Caleche …only for a salesperson to appear for a second, tell us that of course they don’t have Kelly Caleche yet (you silly girls without Hermes bags!) and disappear. The humongous bottles of 24 Faubourg, Caleche, etc. were there; I don’t think I have seen bottles that big before.

Sonya Rykiel store had practically no scents at all, not even the classic one in the orange “t-shirt” bottle and certainly not Belle en Rykiel. At Bond No 9, where we hoped to get a sniff of the new fragrance made for Saks, we were told that the fragrance will be in fact only available at Saks, which, I suppose, makes sense. After that, exhausted and somewhat disappointed with the overall choice or lack thereof we returned home, where the perfect husband, Mr Colombina, lovingly prepared us dinner and wisely had drinks ready to raise our tired spirits.

On Sunday we descended upon SoHo. First, we found the newly-opened Space NK, which had a relaxing, minimalistic atmosphere and a lot of the same stuff that any Sephora has (which made us wonder whether the store would do well at all). They did have Stoned, Diptyque, and their own signature scents (which I forgot as soon as I smelled them). Agent Provocateur shelf featured a candle called Strip. I believe that there will be a fragrance of the same name coming soon. If it smells anything like the softly-floral, slightly-spicy candle, I am buying it.

Lafco’s dark interior was the night to the day of the creamy Space NK. They had lots of Villoresi scents (Ina loved Musk, which smelled of roses on her skin). I played for a while with the home essence kit, sniffing various aromas. The Santa Maria Novella section confirmed for me once and for all that a) SMN and I just don’t seem to “click”; b) their Tuberose is lovely but their Gardenia is not ; c) their Vaniglia is the best vanilla scent ever and the most wearable scent in the line; d) Nostalgia and to a lesser degree Peau d’Espagne are head and shoulders above the other –rather simplistic- scents in the collection. Lafco impressed me with the way it had samples of Eau d’Italie scents lying around in big baskets. We could not resist taking some, and I realized once again how much I like Paestum Rose. I will be back to buy it soon.

Le Labo boutique was as lab-like and industrial-looking as I imagined, only more so. We were again asked if we know about the line. To be fair, I imagine that a lot of people who wonder in from the street really do not know about the line and its peculiarities. We played with the Olfactionary, I again almost bought Ambrette 9 and off we went to have mimosas and salmon bisque at some French restaurant.

Fortified and not at all tipsy, we went to Aedes, which turned out to be one of the highlights of our weekend. Firstly, the interior is…I want to have a boudoir just like that. The lovely Karl spent a lot of time with us, patiently showing us pretty much everything they have in stock. He made us samples of the new 06130 scents and urged us to try them at leisure, saying that he was also underwhelmed at first but then came to adore them. I still have my doubts, but I will give them another try. I tried Goutal’s Neroli which smelled dainty and humble next to Lutens’ Fleurs d’Oranger. Karl let us apply some of the super-expensive Yu scent. I hate to report that I liked it a lot, especially in the beginning, when it reminded me of Nuit Napolitane from Mugler’s Coffret. I doused myself in Aoud Roses Petals and had a hard time choosing whether to buy that or A Maze. In the end A Maze won, but I still hurt at the thought of not having bought Petals. There are some exciting things coming to Aedes soon, but We Are Not At Liberty To Say.

We decided that unfortunately we just could not face a ride to Brooklyn to visit CB I Hate Perfume store and went back to 5th Ave., not expecting anything interesting to happen to us at the stores that we already visited yesterday. We were wrong. The perfume gods decided to reward us for all the sniffing. At the Malle section at Barneys, Luis was presiding. If you have not met Luis yet, you have to! He is full of little insider stories and is friendly and yes, handsome, and could sell snow to penguins. Luis told us about the inspiration behind L’Eau dHiver: apparently Jean-Claude Ellena wanted it to smell like a cloud…seemingly solid, but when you touch it…it’s not there...Editions de Parfums is expanding its presence in the US, and there are some exciting things about to happen soon, but We Are Not At Liberty To Say.

Our final stop was Bergdorf Goodman, where luckily Miss Guerlain, Ina, dragged me again to the Guerlain corner, and there we hit pay dirt. Jason was there and he immediately identified us as “perfume people”. He had small testers of the three scents coming to the boutique in autumn, including Cologne No 68 (which isn’t really a new scent per se, but it’s nice to have it sold here at last), Vetiver Pour Elle so beloved by many (which will join the Les Parisiennes line, and will cost $190 for a lovely bee bottle), and the really new scent- Spiritueuse Double Vanille. It smelled subtly-sweet, soft and fluffy, slightly boozy. It reminded me of something…I can’t put my finger on it. Jason generously made us samples out of his small bottle and I will review Vanille soon. Spiritueuse Double Vanille will be housed in a 75ml bottle that looks like the L’Art et la Matière bottles, but has a different label, and will cost $200. Quand Vient La Pluie is officially launching on the day of my birthday in August, but I have a feeling that, judging by the notes, I am not destined to love it. It will cost $2600 for a 9.5ml in a strange-looking bottle and $400 for a 9.5ml refill. The JAR corner was still empty and so we did not get to smell the cloths.

Hugging our purchases and digesting all the gossip, we decided that we will try to do it all again in October, when lots of new releases will be out and perhaps one of them will finally sweep us off our jaded feet.

Please visit Aromascope to read Ina's take on the weekend of extreme sniffing.