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Friday, September 28, 2007

Luctor and Don't Emergo

Are there perfumes that you just can't stop trying to love? There are several such scents in my life. Some of them I try because they are Classics, great masterpieces that I feel I simply must like or else I am not a true fragrance lover and have no taste. Others are creations of brands and perfumers whom I adore and whose fragrances I ordinarily enjoy. And then there are some that sound so very "me" that I just can't accept the fact that I don't love them. ...I am about to reveal my darkest secrets. Please share the scents you feel you must but are unable to like! Confession is good for the soul...

1. Mitsouko. I did try vintage. I did try perfume. I did try vintage perfume. I tried everything. The dark splendor that Mitsouko reveals to others is lost on me. On me it smells oily and bitter and, frankly, uninteresting.

2. Shalimar. Again, I tried it in every possible vintage and concentration. On a good day, it smells overwhelmingly sweet and smoky. On a bad day, its aroma is reminiscent of that of a nail polish remover. I think I might as well come out completely and reveal that there isn't a single Guerlain left out there that I truly love. And most of them I don't even like. Oh woe is me!

3. Chanel No 5. (All the usual disclaimers of having tried perfume, vintage , etc. apply) My mind understands the importance of the famed fragrance, it admires the classic beauty of the composition, but my heart is unable to warm up to Chanel No 5. It is a cold, unchanging, unyielding scent on me and it leaves me...cold.

4. Nuit de Noel. I keep sampling Nuit Noel simply to understand it. It is strangely elusive to me. I have worn it hundreds of times, and I feel that, if I smelled it on a passer by I would not be able to recognize it. I can't grasp it. It smells strong and forceful and is surprisingly characterless.

5. Editions de Parfums is without a doubt one of my most favorite fragrance lines. And it bothers me that there are a couple of perfumes there that I can't appreciate. One of them is En Passant. I have read about what it smells like on others. About the ethereal, true-to-life lilac and the spring in the air. En Passant breaks my heart every time I attempt to wear it, because on me it is overwhelmingly aquatic and smells scarily similar to Cool Water.

6. The other Malle I can't love or even understand is L'Eau d'Hiver. What is a point of a scent that is understated to the point of being undetectable? And yet, how can a fragrance so subtle be so strangely intrusive, enveloping me like a ghostly cloak that is annoyingly there and not?

7. Chergui. If you know a little bit about my perfume tastes you know that the list of Chergui's notes spells my name. And yet when I wear it, I am unmoved. We don't click. There is no sparkle, no chemistry. On others it is a wonder of wonders, on me it is a syrupy-sweet and smoky something with no depth and no development.

8. Fumerie Turque. Ditto.

9. Mille et Une Roses. I keep trying it, attempting to understand why it is so widely loved. So it's roses. And more roses. Gentle and pretty and inoffensive and nothing special. What, what am I missing here?!

10. Last but by no means least...the one scent that I struggled to like for the longest time, the one that I sampled literally thousands of times. You all will be my witnesses now as I say that I will never ever try POTL again. I am moving on. I accepted the fact that it will never smell good on me and that I will never solve the mystery of its undying popularity. To quote Camus, "the tragedy is over. The failure is complete. I turn my head and go away. I took my share in this fight for the impossible."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Perfume Review: Miller Harris Tangerine Vert, Fique Amere and Fleur du Matin

By Tom

This labor day weekend featured truly ghastly heat: it hit 100 in beautiful downtown Beverly Hills, with humidity to match. Saturday was a trip to the Malibu Country Mart for the largest green-tea ice-blended I could muster up. Sunday I ducked into a showing of the Simpson's Movie (which I liked, but they could have shown me Plan 9 From Outer Space and I would have liked it due to the arctic AC and the icy triple-gulp diet Coke I had) and stopping at every department store on Wilshire Blvd to examine each and every ware I could think of with the care and attention to detail I usually reserve for, well, nothing. Then back home to turn on the totally inadequate air conditioner and pray for death. Monday I had decided that I would keep the AC on all day (I am trying not to be an energy pig, and to keep my electric bill slightly lower than my zip code) and just sit in front of it.

In any case, for my birthday I decided to get a bottle of Miller Harris Fleurs de Sel from Saks in New York, since it is exclusive to that store for a while yet. The very helpful and sweet Rodney included the above mentioned samples and this weekend seemed as good a time as any to write them up. Luckily Rodney (could someone drop by Saks for me and tell him that I love him?) sent three that are perfect summer scents:

Tangerine Vert was the scent for Saturday: a delightful citrus green that reminds me very much of the Hermes scent. The development is quite similar, though the Miller Harris seems to have more depth, and is far more long-lasting. It also travelled well being refreshing in the ghastly heat without dying out in the indoor chill of the coffee shop (because it was even hot in Malibu). The bare hint of Orange Flower and base of woods and musk and a touch of what seems almost like cinnamon make this one a winner.

Figue Amere was for Sunday: It starts off very green and bitter, reminding me (if not smelling remotely like) the first time I tried Campari. It was in a Negroni and the first sip was dreadful: bitter and yet sweet at the same time in a way that was compelling enough to make me sip more. The initial bitterness is cut by the green sweetness of the fig, but this never gets to that toothache-sweetness that some other figgy scents go for. On the sun-blasted terrace of the Century City mall it was a delightful little puff, in the later subzero chill of the movies it was an equally compelling bone-dry woody amber.

Monday was going to be Fleur du Matin and a marathon of "Pasadena", however a friend called to ask me to help her retrieve her vintage 1960 T-Bird from her dad's house in the "Inland Empire" at a college town east of LA, about halfway to Palm Springs. Fleur du Matin lists jasmine, honeysuckle and neroli as it's notes, but they aren't heavy or indolic in the least. There's a fair amount of citrus cutting the flowers making it a fresh, rather delicate scent. Delicate enough that it did not survive the drive back to Pasadena in the un-air conditioned car (It wasn't that bad really when we were moving, sort of like a big blow-dryer). When I got home and re-applied I would appreciate it more: it's a lovely scent, just not necessarily me. It made me imagine a walk in a cool summer garden, voile dress whispering in the breeze. Since you all have seen my picture you can see that I would not fit that image very well, or at least very attractively. I would recommend it heartily to others though.

All of these are available at Saks Fifth Avenue, Luckyscent and Bigelow Chemists

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Perfume Review: Diesel Fuel For Life For Her and For Him

Annick Menardo is one of my favorite perfumers, and I was intrigued by the scents she co-created for Diesel. Diesel Fuel For Life For Her was done in collaboration with Thierry Wasser, Diesel Fuel For Life For Him with Jacques Cavallier. I have no doubt that some sort of a complicated, "hip" marketing campaign accompanies the scents, but I am not that much in2 Diesel, not curious enough and probably just not young enough to care to find out, although I do vaguely recollect something about "using with caution" and "being alive", the usual copy about "energy potions" and "sexy elixirs". I am, however, a sucker for interesting packaging, and I found the flask-like bottles, His zipped into a rugged wrapper? holder? and Her covered with a dainty, "sexy" and "vintage" crocheted ...thing, to be fun novelty objects.

The scents are not earth-shatteringly original, but fairly attractive. On the first sniff I thought that His would be my favorite, and Her would turn out to be just another annoyingly fresh, "young" little something, but the first impression was misleading. Fuel for Life for Him started very appealing, with a dry, vaguely gourmand accord of star anise and grapefruit and something nutty and creamy, perhaps heliotrope. As the scent progressed, however, it became harsh and strangely watery, with lavender and wood forming an aggressive, harsh accord that I just couldn't stomach. Fuel for Life for Her, however, although initially a little scary with its bright freshness, developed into a charming, summery, youthful concoction of mandarin and black currant rounded by a soft patchouli note. It smelled like wearable Pamplelune, sunny and tangy and fun. In fact, I don't rule out wanting to wear it once in a while to feel "alive".

Diesel Fuel for Life for Her and for Him are available at Nordstrom, $44.50-$64.50.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Perfume Review: L’eau d’épices by Andy Tauer Perfumes

By Linda

(Linda joins Perfume-Smellin' Things as a contributor. Look for her articles on Tuesdays and please check out her wonderful blog, I Regret Nothing.)

I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of Andy Tauer’s scent (still in the works!), L’Eau d’épices, when he gave away samples as a celebration of his second year of perfumery blogging. I cherish this greedy treat and simultaneously want to share it; if he markets it, I will be first in line.

When I was a pre-teen kid, my grandmothers really turned me on to the notion of keepsake boxes. It wasn’t a stretch—I was always picking up bits and trinkets of nature and keeping them: a bright feather, a shiny acorn, the crisp elf-shoe seed spinners of maple trees, interestingly colored pebbles. But there was something special about the box, over and above the specialness of the contents. Ornate wood with brightlocks and hinges, secret panels, and the conferred aura of ritual specialness that rubbed off from countless hidings-away of found objects that became firmly mine only at that moment. Eventually I tucked love letters and things I really did want to hide into them. (Clever grandmothers: if you want a kid to put her “naughty” things where you can find them, give her a treasure box for secrets.)

I still love wooden boxes, although I have grown up enough to recognize the tackiness of the souvenir ones emblazoned with the names of destinations. Among my other little treasure chests, I have a few that smell wonderful. In my china hutch, there is a tiny carved rosewood box containing a chunk of amber, and a number of wooden condiment bowls filled with whole spices (allspice, clove buds, cinnamon bark, whole nutmegs, strips of dried citrus peel, bay leaves).

L’eau d’épices appeals to the part of me that periodically goes to the hutch, takes out that box and those bowls, and inhales deeply, with lips parted and eyes closed. I know I am supposed to smell citrus, but the red mandarin and Clementine are perfectly mated to the neroli and orange blossom, the rich sweetness of orris, and the woody kiss of cedar from the first whiff. It is persistently and immediately sweet, but without cloying, artifice or headiness. It is a cool, dark sweetness. I think of redwood, of rosewood, of carven woods and rich moist sawdust, of treasure chests and hidden groves. And then the spices emerge from all that sweetness—cinnamon, bay, cloves, cardamom, coriander. Married to the wood as they are, they are not bakery items. They smell dark, a little savage and a little sacred, natural incense, resinous and whole. The floral sweetness never entirely goes away through the middle of the development, but it is ethereal, a vehicle for the more substantial cedar and spices.

There is nothing brash about this fragrance; it is like a burnished slab of dark wood, stained and deeply impregnated by the spices it has held. Or a gossamer, spangled cotton sari, purchased at a store that sells dark wooden furniture redolent with spice. It also reminds me of the cupboard where I keep my drinking glasses, which once held someone’s spices – warm wood, a whisper of bay, resinous ghosts of cloves and cinnamon, more exotic sweet notes of orange flower water, coriander, and cardamom—not evocative of food, but part of the home. Although it continually evolves, the development is a tranquil revelation of what is there from the start, not a transformation.

The dry down on my skin is rosewood – I think that’s the orange blossom playing with the cedar—lightened by coriander and faint bay. For some reason, it highlights my skin’s own aroma—whether that is clean skin or sweat—and transforms it into something all my own, really sexy and beautiful. (I must have this EdT for that trick alone… how many scents make a girl fond of her own “musk?” I should point out that I am not usually fond of smelling myself.)

It lasts forever – twelve hours at least. I have put it on before going to bed, only to discover that my pillow smells gorgeously of orange and orris and whiffs of spice the day after – all the notes that evanesce and fall away from my skin seem to cling to cloth.

This is a subtle scent, but not a soft one. It has a kind of energy and substance that lingers for ages, and it makes its presence known. From a distance, only the sweetness is detectable… up close, the wood and spice emerge. Although it is truly unisex, I like it better on me than my partner, and so does he, due to its definite sweetness. I think it’s too dramatic to be an everyday fragrance for me to wear in the office, though someone more daring could certainly do so—and I can quite readily picture it on a man in an office setting.

Here’s hoping Andy releases this one… and soon! I’m very fond of it, and although the sample is a whopping 2 ml, I want to wear it with abandon, not just as a rare treat.

Image source,

Monday, September 24, 2007

Floris London fragrance auction for Susan G. Komen cancer foundation

On Thursday, September 27, Floris London will be auctioning on eBay the last sixty bottles available in the world of their classic men’s fragrance, No. 89, to benefit the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation.

"Sought by men the world over, requests for the elusive No. 89 have been great, and this sophisticated and provocative scent has been worn by many celebrities, including James Bond in the 007 novels and star Daniel Craig in Casino Royale."

The auction will begin on eBay Thursday, September 27. All bids start with a price of $85 per bottle.

Edited to add: we received clarification from Floris, the bottles that will be auctioned are the last 60 bottles of No. 89 left in the US, where it won’t be available again until at least next Spring.

Perfume Review: Yosh Kismet

"Kismet", derived from the Arabic word "qisma", refers to the concept of predestination, to the Muslim doctrine that "God has measured out the span of every person's life, their lot of good or ill fortune, and whether they will follow the straight (righteous) path or not". (Wikipedia) My inner Sartre would not allow me to accept a concept of predetermined fate; however, there is an undeniable appeal in such a fatalist point of view. It is the appeal of mysteries to be solved, of hope and of the dark comfort that lies in the acceptance of the inescapable...

The new perfume by Yosh, Kismet has just that kind of dark, bitter, strangely comforting appeal. It has a quality that is not just retro but actually ancient. It smells thick, deeply resinous, pungent, an oil miraculously preserved in its black and gold amphora, found in a secret chamber. I am not ordinarily a fan of oils, but I can't imagine Kismet in any other form. The note that is the strongest on my skin, perhaps because I am so very familiar with it, is narcissus. Woods, incense and hay underscore the leathery, smoky, almost "meaty" aspect of the deceptively innocent flower. The sweet, slightly fruity aroma of chamomile softens the blend, and, as far as I am concerned, it is the presence of chamomile that makes Kismet an unlikely comfort-perfume of sorts, turning the dark brew into a serene and soulful scent of complete acceptance.

Kismet is a Barneys exclusive and costs $150.00 for 8ml.

Image courtesy of Yosh.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Utterly Random Friday: An Ode to Boden

Do you like Boden as much as I like it? Probably not... I look forward to the arrival of the escapist little catalogs more than to my W or Allure. More even than to Perfumer & Flavorist. I would love to live on the pages of the carefully understated and deliberately casual world of the inconspicuous (British upper-ish) middle class elegance, the world of fun skirts, comfy jersey tops and sidewalk cafes. What I especially enjoy are the little questions that models answer in each catalog (to further cultivate the warm feeling of "just-like-you-and-me-ness" that permeates everything Boden). Today I decided to answer the questions from Boden Autum 2007 together with Mr Colombina...Imagine us strolling hand in hand in Notting Hill, dressed expensively low-key...a laughing child and a dog running ahead of us...

First Pet - Mr. C: parakeet. C: never had any.

What is your karaoke speciality- Mr. C: Only Fools Rush In. C.: Would not sing to save my life.

Crumpets or Toast- Mr. C: Toast. C.: Crumpets.

Make-up tip- Mr. C: Ladies, go easy on the eyeshadow. C.: Faites simple.

Biggest thrill- Mr. C: Birth of my daughter. C.: Shopping.

Best place to be in autumn- Mr. C: Cape Cod. C.: Paris.

Never have a quiet night in without - Mr.C: Porn. C.: A good book.

Who would you be for a day - Mr. C: Heffner. C.: Heffner.

First drink of the night - Mr. C: Sambuca. C.: Champagne.

Favorite hero - Mr. C: Audie Murphy. C.: Hercule Poirot.

Best character trait - Mr. C: Pragmatism. C: Sense of humor.

I shouldn't like but I do - Mr. C: Smoking. C: The Girls Next Door.

I am always told off for - Mr. C: Things that are not my fault. C: Not finishing my drinks.

Least favorite household chore - Mr. C: Cleaning the toilet. C: Cleaning the bathtub.

Best present ever received - Mr. C: A camcorder. C: A Chanel watch.

Ultimate tear-jerker - Mr. C: It's a Wonderful Life. C: Titanic and Armageddon.

Dreading - Mr C: Moving again. C: Bad news.

Favorite sweet - Mr C: Cheesecake. C: Raffaello.

Best beauty tip - Mr C: There is no such thing as "too revealing". C: Exfoliate.

Favorite baddie - Mr C: Odd Job. C: Woland and Dracula.

Last meal ever would be - Mr C: ...Put off as long as possible. C: I can't eat when I am stressed.

Best winter warmer - Mr C: Fleece. C: Mr. C, whose natural temperature is 104 degrees, at least.

Where is home - Mr C: Where my wife and daughter are. C: Where my parents are.

Best Music decade - Mr C: 60s. C: 90s.

Favorite daily read - Mr C: The Onion. C: Perfume and bag blogs.

Most excited about - Mr C: Finishing this survey. C: The fall wardrobe.

Favorite Elvis song - Mr C: That's All Right Mama. C: Only Fools Rush In.

Best tip for a photo - Mr C: Take a lens cap off. C: Don't lose your neck. Look fierce.

And a bonus, a perfume related question, not from Boden - 3 perfumes you wear most right now- Mr C: (can't remember the names). C: White Aoud, Piment Brulant, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia.

Please feel free to answer any of the questions in your comments!

Image source,

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Perfume Review: Frederic Malle Outrageous!

By Tom

Frederic Malle is one of the most interesting lines out there, with such rich and memorable scents ranging from from Angeliques sous la Pluie to Vetiver Extraordinaire. I don't think there was one that I have smelled that I was merely indifferent to: all of the ones that I have smelled are heart-breaking, even if I couldn't wear some of them in a million years.

The latest in the the line is Outrageous!, which is for the younger set, and is going to be the house brand for the Barneys Co-Op stores. The listed notes include (from the SA) Caipirinha, clean laundry, amber and cedarwood.

First off, let me write that I don't care for punctuation in perfumes. If you need an exclamation point in your title, you most likely aren't living up to it. Sadly, this one doesn't. It starts off a bit like the new L'Artisan Jatamansi, then starts getting Gendarme around the edges. It finally morphs into a much paler and far less interesting watery version of the original Acqua di Parma. Maybe someone whose previous ne plus ultra of fragrance was CKone will be blown away. I thought it was pleasant, but it made me run to the cabinet and apply some Acqua di Parma.

There, that's better.

Outrageous! is available at Barneys and Barneys Co-Op stores at $110 for 3.4 ounces.
Acqua di Parma is availablle at Barneys at $111 for 6 ounces.

Image source, Cosmetic World.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Ladylike Perfumes. Perfume Review: Floris Florissa

What with all the grays and the sheath dresses and the "cozy knits", demure is very in this season. And so I feel that more attention should be paid to one of my favorite fragrance "categories", Ladylike Perfumes. If the Queen drops by for a cup of tea, what scent would you wear with you gray sheath and your pearls and your gloves? I would probably reach for the appropriately English Florissa.

Introduced by Floris in 1978 and described by the creators as "a fragrance for the English Rose, a celebration of femininity, innocence and charm", the is a simple and refined composition, in which lily of the valley and rose seem to me to be the most dominant notes. The beginning is slightly citrusy, fresh and green, evocative of a stroll through an English park on a chilly spring morning. The theme of the pleasantly sharp coolness is continued in the heart by the silvery muguet, with rose adding subtle sweetness and a splash of color to the understated greens and shimmery whites of the blend...That rose is like the pink flush on pale cheeks of a young lady (natch), after her brisk walk in a park (see above). The base has an unexpectedly dry, mossy undertone, which simultaneously contributes to the elegantly "rustic" atmosphere of the fragrance and adds to the scent a feel of very urban sophistication. In other words, like a true lady, the versatile and always appropriate Florissa would feel equally at home in the country and in the city...and, unlike yours truly, would not be flustered by the (in my case, very improbable) idea of making small talk with the Queen.

Florissa is available at, $55.00-$85.00.

Image source, Hulton Archive via

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Long Lost Perfumes: Niki de Saint Phalle

By Marla

(Marla joins Perfume-Smellin' Things as a contributor. Look for her articles on Tuesdays.)

I confess to being a big fan of French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002). It started when I had my graduation picture taken under one of her enormous Sun God birds in California. Niki was primarily a sculptor, of enormous voluptuous women, the “Nanas”, mythological creatures, and the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris. Her crowning work is the Tarot Garden in Tuscany, adorned with enormous surreal sculptures of the major arcana. To fund the building of this garden, which took many years, she developed a perfume line and designed the packaging and accompanying jewelry. Her creation has had a cult following ever since.

The official notes of Niki de Saint Phalle are woods, jasmine, rose, marigold/tagetes, ylang-ylang, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, oakmoss, amber, and musk. In the pure parfum I pick up a little mushroom, though it’s not listed. The scent is a close cousin to the original (black) Shiseido Zen, but heavier on the vetiver and decidedly weirder. There is just a hint of floral (I mostly smell the tagetes and ylang-ylang), a little patch, some resins, and then lots of vetiver and amber that lasts a full day. It’s a true vetiver lover’s perfume, in fact. Of course, it could be that after many years (most NdSP was sold in the 80s and many bottles are more than 15 years old) the florals have faded and the vetiver and woods have taken center stage. It ages beautifully, and is quite a slap in the face with a white glove to the modern fruity, vanillic florals which have been so popular for the last 10 years.

As with many Long Lost Perfumes, it can be found on Internet sites and Ebay. The cobalt glass bottles are particularly stunning in the parfum version, with two entwined, multicolored snakes crowning the rectangular bottle. But the most fun edition for me is the Zodiac Eau Defendue, which were a limited edition and now very occasionally found on Ebay or auction sites. They consist of the 12 zodiac signs and 3 “Fantasy Signs” of Horse, Cat, and Bird (the latter of which she considered her personal animal guardian). From comments I’ve read on MUA, Basenotes, and other blogs, this seems to be love-it-or-hate-it scent. It’s complicated, strange, delightful, and definitely unique. Let me know what experience you have had with Niki de Saint Phalle’s creation.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Perfume Review: Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint

White Jasmine & Mint is the new addition to the Jo Malone collection of fragrances. It is described as having been inspired by "the tranquil moment in an English garden when the sun emerges, the dew gently lifts and the blossoms are at their most fragrant", and for once an official description is so close to the image a scent evokes in my mind that I am actually hard pressed to think of any other visuals and poetic comparisons to add.

Jasmine here smells neither indolic and sensual nor delicate and soapy, which are the two extreme direction jasmine scents tend to follow on my skin. This is an aromatic jasmine, crisp and verdant. At first, the herbs (wild mint and peppermint) and the spices (cardamom and coriander) seem to dominate the composition, imbuing it with the most enjoyable pungency, coloring it into the deepest of greens. Slowly, jasmine starts to gain strength, aided by the whole plethora of other flowers, among which orange blossom and rose seem to be the strongest. Jasmine IS the star of the scent, but so are mint and spices; and flowers and woods, although not nearly as prominet, are very apparent. Therefore, although I would certainly call White Jasmine & Mint a jasmine scent, I would not call it a soliflore. The base of the scent is still very much green due to the presence of vetiver and mate, and its slightly smoky, earthy greenness feels like a very logical and very enjoyable conclusion of the scent that is wild, rustic and windswept.

White Jasmine & Mint will be available at Jo Malone stores, including the online shop, at Bergdrof Goodman and Neiman Marcus starting from October 1 and will cost $50.00 for 30ml and $95.00 for 100ml.

Image courtesy of Jo Malone.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Tom Ford Strikes Again. One Average Couple Reacts

Tom Ford is not nudity-shy (remember the gorgeous specimen in the M7 ad, or the Opium ad with Dahl or basically any shoot in which Ford participated in any way) and he loves to shock. For his upcoming scent, Tom Ford for Men, he issued this tasteful little number (and there are others, just as ...tasteful):

My first reaction? I don't know what to say. I am repulsed by the tacky blow-up-doll-ness of it. I hate to see a woman portrayed in such a degrading manner. And yet I am morbidly fascinated. It's so incredibly crude and cheap and vulgar that I can't help but feel almost an admiration for Ford who is not afraid to issue an ad like that. I almost want to say, you go, Tom! And I hate myself for that. Because, this is frankly much worse than Etat Libre d'Orange's little juvenile drawings of penises, and I've spent too much time criticizing those to now dare to approve of this pornography. But this is the effect Ford has always had on me, he fascinates me to the point of taking away my ability to judge right from wrong.

Trying to figure out what appeal, if any, an ad like that would have for an average straight male, I showed it to Mr. Colombina. This is his reaction:
In a world where perfume ads are dominated by the "thinking" ... Well who cares if it sells products just so long as it is 'funky' and weird and 'creative' ... it is almost refreshing to see just a good old fashioned "sex sells" ad.

However ...

Perhaps I'm alone on this one but, why can't we see the woman's face? Is this model just a "cleavage model" (like a 'hand model')? I mean her face can't be THAT bad, can it?

Wonderful cleavage Marge ...shame you got a face like Ernest Borgnine!

As cleavage goes ... it's nice cleavage but faceless cleavage doesn't work for me.

Now either the marketing people think:

A) If her face is too nice nobody will notice the cleavage.
HELLO! Have you never SEEN a man talking to a woman (who has a pretty face) wearing a low cut blouse?


B) If her face is too ugly or plain it will take away from the picture.
HELLO AGAIN! The opposite is true. An average face becomes a supermodel by osmosis when it sits atop a pair like those.

Oddly, I never wondered until just this moment ... if they are 'real'?

But as I always say ...they may not be real ... but they are real nice.
Asked if he would want to wear a scent advertised like that, Mr Colombina said it has nothing to do with an ad, he would have to smell it, and that the picture of the big bosoms, is neither a put off nor an endorsement.

Conclusion: one average straight woman - morbidly fascinated, one average straight man - demands a face to go with the boobs.

Image source, WWD.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

Confessions of a Perfume Addict: An interview with Kelley

By Tom

Of course, readers of PST know Kelley from his witty and well thought out posts, but now you will get to know the real Kelley: he's even brighter, funnier and nicer than you thought! (He even forgave me for shamelessly lifting his questions, how nice it that?

Tell us about your childhood (just get comfy on that sofa...): where did you grow up? Siblings? What did your parents do? What did you study in school? What did you love and what did you hate about the place you grew up? Why did you leave?

I was born in Daytona Beach, Florida, but we didn’t stay there long. We then moved to Oklahoma to be near my grandparents. My mother was a cytotechnologist (looked for cancer cells on slides) and my father was an insurance salesman. While selling insurance door to door, my father met a lovely woman that is now my step-mother. My parents soon divorced (well, after my mother found out about the other woman). My childhood was spent moving from city to city and from school to school. In fact, I think at last count I attended 13 schools before I graduated from high school in Spanaway, Washington. I have two brothers and a sister.

I was a creative writing major at the University of Washington. Then I was a fine art major at Oklahoma State. Oh yeah, and then I was an art history major at Tulsa University. Did I ever get a diploma? Nope. I think all together I have as much higher education as a doctor.

My mother married a man in the US Army and so we traveled all the time. It was tough. We would move to a wonderful place and start to make friends and then we would have to move again (we lived in Tehran for two years and that was a wonderful experience). That was the worst part…moving. I have lived all over the US but it took leaving the country to finally find a very supportive place for artists (I will explain later when we talk about Mexico).

We can see from your website that you are an artist- and a very good one. What drew you to art? How did you end up in Mexico?

I remember thinking that art was too easy and fun therefore it couldn’t be a job! I tried several things (I was even given an award by the Tulsa World newspaper for male secretary of the year in I think 1988) before I finally decided to make a go of painting. I have always painted…my whole life. The pivotal moment came when I was house sitting for my uncle (the spooky thing about that statement is that I am house sitting for the same uncle at this very moment!) when a famous artist knocked on the door and introduced himself as such. He told me that he would be glad to critique my work for free. I took him up on the offer and his first comment upon seeing my work was that I needed to go away and come back with some real art. I wasn’t devastated just determined to prove him wrong. I went back several more times before I finally quit painting sweet paintings and started painting strange and unusual ones. When I went to see this famous artist for my final critique, he was on the phone and I just remember him looking at my painting and hanging up without even saying goodbye and told me to take the painting and have it framed. He said that he would get me into a good gallery in Tulsa (which he did). The painting sold just a few hours after I dropped it off. And, as they say, the rest is history.

I moved to Mexico because I was slowly getting further and further into debt. Don’t get me wrong, I was a very successful artist but how can you pay your bills much less have medical insurance without a steady income. The year before I made the decision to move, I sold a painting for $15,000 and within weeks there was a famous hail storm that destroyed my roof and my car. I just couldn’t get ahead! My mom, who lives here in San Miguel de Allende, called and told me that the man that lived next to her had died and his sister was looking for a house sitter. I sold everything and moved down. It was an easy decision to make because I had been here before. San Miguel is a beautiful colonial town with cobble stone streets and tall Cyprus trees. It looks a lot like Italy.

You are American by birth; what is it like living in Mexico? You've mentioned that it's a small town, how does it differ from an American one? What do you do for entertainment? What are the pluses and minuses living there? How has it changed over the time you've lived there? (I'm fascinated by this; I've never lived anywhere but America, and not being fluent in any foreign language I don't know that I could)

Yes, I am American. Living in Mexico is very exotic. The days are warm but not hot (San Miguel is over a mile high) and the nights are cool. My electric bill this month was $20. I only pay 3% tax on my income as an artist/gallery owner…I kid you not! It’s a very different kind of life here. It’s very laid back. On Tuesdays, I walk down to a little street vendor and buy my fruits and veggies for the week and I might spend $4. I have my own gallery that is only a block from where I live. It’s a great life.

When I say this is a small town that is putting it mildly. I can walk from north San Miguel to the other end of town in about 45 minutes. I know because I have done it. We have terrific restaurants but I don’t go out to eat that often. We have a major jazz festival and a film festival among many other things. I have to admit that I don’t get out much except to work

Favorite Books?

Palliser’s “The Quincunx”. I also love “Lord of the Rings” and “His Dark Materials”. I read all the time but it has to be well written or I will give it away.

Favorite Movies?

“Auntie Mame”, anything by David Lynch (especially “Wild at Heart”), “Dark City”, and “Cold Comfort Farm”. The problem with this question is that I collect movies and have so many!

Favorite Singers?

My favorite group is the Indigo Girls. I like Sarah McLachlan, Lisa Gerrard, Evanescence, Radio Head (Thom Yorke is a god), Tori Amos, and Mindy Smith. I also have a huge collection of Latin masses on my Ipod.

Favorite Artists?

Donald Roller Wilson.

(Yes, I am going to shamelessly steal your questions; they are good ones and I am lazy)

You mentioned that you are also the year of the Ox, what is your Astrological Sign?

I am a Sagittarius.

You asked both myself and Colombina about mystical experiences and our ideas on destiny, which leads me to believe that you have had one (at least) and have definite ideas on the subject, care to share?

No mystical experiences here. However, they fascinate me! I am a total heathen and don’t believe in organized religion (It exists; it’s just not for me).

You've mentioned that you are gay as well, and I am going to toss some of your questions back at you: when did you know? How did it affect your relationship with your family? How do you think it influenced your decision to live out of the country, if it did at all? How is it being a gay man living in Mexico (which I view in the stereotypically Los Angeles gay-guy way as a very Catholic country, not exactly gay-friendly)? Crushes? Boyfriend?

About being gay, I think I have always known. I remember having a terrible crush on Batman (in the black Speedo). The family thing was tough. I didn’t speak to my parents for several years after they found out because their reaction was terrible. We are all OK now and I talk about it openly. San Miguel is not the place for a gay white boy to live! It’s a tiny town. I just hope that doesn’t mean that I am doomed to live a single life! Mexico is cool with the gay thing. In fact, it’s legal for gay people to get married here.

Crushes…no. Boyfriend…HAH!

I will ask you your 10 desert island scents, but I am also going to ask you to list ten items that you could not live without on that same island (we are assuming art supplies as a given, so no, you can't fill it up by listing pastels, oils, gouache, etc.)

Tom, I can’t imagine that anyone will have read this far but here goes.

1. Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie – roses and ambergris.
2. L’artisan Premier Figuier – coconut and leaves.
3. YSL M7 – I love the amber and oud in this.
4. Alexander McQueen Kingdom – pure pheremones and deliciousness.
5. SL Chergui – I love its tobacco and sweet grass.
6. AG Sables – this just smells like an artist would wear it.
7. Hermes Eau des Merveilles – the ambergris in this just makes me smile.
8. Tauer Lonestar Memories – it’s a birch tar masterpiece.
9. L’artisan Timbuktu – one of the best saffron scents out there.
10. L’artisan Navigateur – Smoke filled, spicy mélange.

I couldn’t live without my Ipod (is there such a thing as a solar-powered Ipod?), Fleurs de Bulgarie, sunscreen, bar of soap, a totally hot guy (I have seen those prison movies so he probably doesn’t even have to be gay!), “The Quincunx” for when my boyfriend is napping, a chef because I love to eat good food, a pillow top mattress because sleep is important, my dogs because who else could love them like I do, and last but not least a lifetime supply of Lindt chocolate.

What are 5 foods you absolutely love? 5 that you loathe?

Love chicken alfredo pizza, fried mushrooms with ranch dressing, molten chocolate cake, chicken enchiladas with mole sauce, and peach cobbler.

I hate fish that is fishy tasting, raw bell peppers, bologna, cooked spinach, and my mom’s Italian Delight (because it always made me feel sick).

If you could change one thing about your life what would it be?

I would have found my true love by now (or that hot guy from the desert island!).

(Yes, I am back to stealing) Since you're so well traveled, I am sure that you have some interesting scent memories: care to share some?

I remember my budgie’s cage (birds have a weird smell). I also had a bottle of herbal cologne that you sealed with a cork when I was 5 and it smelled divine. I remember my grandmother’s garden filled with mint and chrysanthemums.

Finally, if you could create a scent that would be the quintessence of Kelley, what would the notes be?

I think it would smell like turpentine and linseed oil and church incense and some bergamot as a top note. Diptyque has a scent called L’Eau Trois (I think that’s the one) that is fairly close to what I am talking about but not quite.

I know you have a picture on your website of you, you handsome devil, what about one of your washboard abs?

Thanks for putting up with my importuning and natterings!

I am honored that you would ask! Oh, and the washboard abs are hidden under a protective layer of fat…

Mine too!

The photos are of the San Miguel Paroquia, a rock wall in my gallery, me (thanks Marshall), and the photo of Auntie Mame is courtesy of the Teegarden/Nash collection.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Perfume Review: Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille...and a Double Birthday...

From the start, Spiritueuse Double Vanille had one crucial factor working against it: I do not like scents with vanilla playing a title role. The only way to cause me to like a vanilla perfume is to make it about much more than just vanilla. In other words, I don't do Vanilla Monologues. I want a play with lots of strong supporting characters. Guerlain's "exclusive" and Limited Edition new release, Spiritueuse Double Vanille, which features additional notes of benzoin, frankincense, spices, cedar, pink pepper, bergamot, Bulgarian rose and ylang-ylang, is a vanilla I can do.

The beginning of the fragrance has a subtle boozy feel, a quality that I invariably enjoy. It smells like a sweetly spicy alcoholic drink...not quite as strongly aromatic as, say, absinthe, but somewhere in that licoricey olfactory area. I am decidedly not a fan of licorice/anise, but here the undertone is so subtle, it is actually pleasant. As the scent progresses, I begin to smell a note that I can't help but think is immortelle...perhaps a combination of the resinous and vanilic benzoin and spice is what produces the sweet and green and strangely "meaty" immortelle-like effect. In any case, this is the stage of the scent's development I particularly like. As Spiritueuse Double Vanille dries down, it becomes softer than soft, a gentle, fluffy skin scent with just a touch of dry piquancy. All in all, a pretty and pleasant little fragrance, not praticularly Guerlainesque, but none of the last Guerlains have been that anyway. Not sure if I would buy it for myself, but if it somehow appeared in my life, I would wear Spiritueuse Double Vanille with much pleasure this fall and winter.

Spiritueuse Double Vanille should be available in Guerlain's boutique in Bergdorf Goodman by the end of September. The Eau de Parfum, housed in a 75ml "laboratory bottle dressed with a vintage label", will cost $200. For more information and to pre-order, contact Jason Bears, tel.: (212) 872-2734.

Image source,

By the way, I've been so busy lately that I forgot about Perfume-Smellin' Things' 2nd Birthday! Thank you so much, everybody, for your continuing readership, friendship and support! Incidentally, today is also Mr. Colombina's birthday. Happy Birthday, Mr. C, my dear reluctant perfumisto.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

My New York State of Mind. Perfume Review: Norell

By Beth Gehring (Please welcome Perfume-Smellin' Things' new contributor, Beth. Look for her articles on Tuesdays.)

Since 2001, I can never greet the morning of September the 11th without a deep nostalgia for the New York of my past, strolling hand in hand with my very glamorous mother in the middle of the 60’s, while we hunted the city for gorgeous jewelry as well as beautiful pieces of silver and china to line the shelves showcases of our store. To an impressionable 10 year old , New York women were impossibly elegant and fashionable creatures and I dreamt of the day that I could become one of them, strolling down Park Avenue with a handsome husband on my arm, my own briefcase and the world at my command.

Moving further ahead in time , the style of New York designer Norman Norell and the classic fragrance that still bears his name were completely essential to the image of myself as a young , sophisticated working woman. Because of Norell, I bought a tuxedo, had it tailored and wore it with gobs of pearls and black patent stiletto heels. His designs were cool and elegant, basic black, winter white and strong clear reds, and the beginnings of what we would today call “New York Style”. Actually when I think back on it, Norman Norell WAS the absolute essence of New York style. He wasn’t high wattage; his clothes were absolute perfection to wear. He spared no expense or detail with anything that bore his name. Norell was my favorite fragrance then, cool, green and patrician with absolutely no shortage of glamour or blue blood sophistication. I couldn’t afford his clothes then but I painstakingly copied the style, doused myself with the perfume and felt fabulous!

Norell is still utterly captivating to me but in its newest incarnation no longer seems as feminine as I remember. It’s strange, because all of the components for a romantic fragrance are there in the initial breath of rose, jasmine, ylang –ylang, carnation and clove, but the forest of vetiver, oak moss and myrrh in the base make it a bit too strong for intimacy. Norell IS sexy and warm, but distinctly tough in the way that women were trying to be when I came of age.

Norell is not a fragrance that wears well with pastels, ruffles and lace, but it is a stylish perfume that weds beautifully with the old fashioned attitudes of tapestry, bridle leather and polished oak. It is the scent of old money, Wall Street, Carnegie Hall, and an early morning walk down Fifth Avenue. It doesn’t want to go to Starbucks for coffee; it wants to dine at the Park Lane (pre Leona Helmsley!). It becomes exquisitely sultry after midnight when worn in the company of a fabulous man, aged bourbon and a contraband Cuban. It is for me the elusive and glamorous scent of the old New York that I love. It is still the scent that I wear when I need to charm and disarm at the same time, the sensual weapon I love to wield playfully in a roomful of difficult men! Norell’s sexy, warm masculinity becomes a heady blend of seduction and contradiction when worn by almost any woman and although perhaps some might find it a bit dated, for me it remains completely relevant , undeniably classic and the definite scent of a very glamorous (and sadly bygone) era.

Norell can still (thank goodness!) be found online at

Pictures courtesy of Parfums de Pub and Lulu’s Vintage.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Perfume Review: Montale Confidential Collection Indian Saffron

Every self-respecting perfume brand must have an exclusive line. If the exclusive scents are at the same time limited editions, all the better. Montale call theirs "Confidential Collection". The collection consists of Santal de Mysore, Rose and Indian Saffron; all scents come in parfum strength. I only managed to try Saffron, and if its beauty is indicative of the overall quality of the collection, then I hope the "Confidential" Montale parfums will reach our shores, even if only in limited quantities and for a limited amount of time.

It is universally known that saffron is one of the most high-priced spices. The stigmas (the pollen-collecting organs of a saffron flower) of approximately 200,000 flowers produce only about 2 pounds of saffron, and in the olden days the value of saffron has been compared to that of gold. (Ian Hemphill, The Spice and Herb Bible.) Indian saffron is said to be the world's finest and therefore most expensive. With its rendition, Montale does justice to the precious spice, choosing to boldly and realistically replicate the strange and compelling earthy, woody, at times almost iodine and bittersweet aroma of saffron.

The beginning of Indian Saffron is shockingly, gloriously earthy. I have always considered CB I Hate Perfume Black March to be the most earthy fragrance, disturbing in its true-to-life quality, and Indian Saffron comes a very close second. The spice smells raw, like soft, pliable black soil; a woody accord runs through the composition, at times even leaving an oud-like impression, underscoring the dry, resinous, what Hemphill describes as "oaked-wine" aspect of saffron. After a long stretch of wonderful, woody, leathery earthiness, the composition dries down as a softer and a little sweeter "skin-scent", which makes one smell as if one spent a day in the Aladdin's cave, which was filled not with coins and jewelry but with just as precious dark-red dried saffron stigmas.

Indian Saffron is available at Montale boutique in Paris, EUR 300.00 for 50ml.

Image source,

Friday, September 07, 2007

"A Frank Look at the State of the Fragrance Industry"

September Perfumer & Flavorist features a remarkable article by the Drom CEO, Ferdinand Storp. Dr. Storp talks about the danger tests pose to creativity, laments the continuing loss of raw materials and urges the industry to take risks. I was especially fascinated by the part of the article that deals with the industry's secretiveness. Dr. Storp admits that saying that a fragrance contains an ingredient like "blue Himalayan hyacinth" is "utter nonsense", when behind the nonexistent exotic hyacinth is hidden "phenyl acetaldehyde". Would "phenyl acetaldehyde" sell as well a a "Himalayan hyacinth"? The answer has always seemed to be, no. And yet, points out Dr. Storp, in "a related trade, namely that of a cook", TV chefs let the viewers in on their professional tricks. "Does openness kill the magic?", ponders Dr. Storp. "I don't think that a broader knowledge of raw materials and their application will destroy the magic of perfumery. On the contrary, it opens a new and much wider basis for discussion. The trade will enthrall more people and it will open channels to better understand our consumers".

"Where is the television show about a perfumer?" Storp aks the question that has been bothering me for ages (and I have a show all planned, Bravo TV, are you listening?). "Why has no one written a book called "Confessions of a Perfumer?" The stars of our trade are usually called the "quiet stars". I don't think this is good in the age of information."

In conclusion, Dr Storp half-jokingly dares his colleagues to undertake five of "the most risky actions for the perfumery business of the future:

1. Market your new fragrance prominently touting a new chemical (including a structural formula and a terrible-sounding chemical name) [Something that Escentric Molecules and, to a degree, Le Labo have already done.]
2. Throw your test winner of the men's fragrances on the market as a women's fragrance [And really, imagine if scents like Terre d'Hermes or Dior Homme have been released as perfumes targeted for women. Would we have even questioned their femininity, and would they have not been just as successful?]
3. Take care that your fragrance can only be bought illegally [Or only Dallas. Again, Le Labo comes to mind, and this is one risky action I would rather the brands did not undertake.]
4. Don't sign a contract with a hip-hopper; instead, hire Mr. Nobody off the street to be your new spokesperson [Can't think of an example and would gladly volunteer to be such a Ms. Nobody]
5. Fire your panel of experts and toss a coin."

And to that one could only say, amen!

The article, State of the Art- the Good, the Bad and the Truth, can be found in the September issue of Perfumer and Flavorist, page 18-22. It can also be purchased online, from Highly recommended.

Image source,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Perfume Review: Christian Dior Eau Sauvage

Review by Tom

Lee of PerfumePosse and I recently had a 'fume exchange: He sent me some SL's he didn't care for and I picked up a couple of bottles of things he wanted. He also slipped in generous samples of all sorts of things that I had not tried, and one that I had actually owned, but not had in years.

Flashback to the 70's: I am a teenager and yes, I liked scents even then. I would ride my bike down to the Steigers in the Hampshire Mall and splurge on something like Halston Z-14 or Pierre Cardin. but my all-time favorite was Eau Sauvage.

For me, re-smelling it after years of not having it is kind of an olfactory time-machine: one whiff of the lemons and petitgrain and I am (almost) that teenager trekking to Hadley on his Raleigh ready to plunk down $20. Unlike the Pierre Cardin however, Eau Sauvage is something I would wear again in a heartbeat: it's light and refreshing but it has a definite edge to it. It's manly in a way that colognes aren't trying to be these days, that is of course written with the hindsight of (ahem) a few years. I am sure that when this came out it was considered rather unisex, and I knew several girls who wore (and wear) it. Somewhat like Malle's French Lover, it almost seems like a scent that you might have to dress for, even if that only means pressed khakis and a blazer. It's the scent you would think JFK wore. It certainly should be worn more often.

In later years Dior introduced Eau Sauvage Extreme, which I admit I moved onto. It was an 80's version of the scent that amped up to a shout what was merely whispered in the original. I still have an elegant black bottle of it but almost never find myself reaching for it. There is also a new Eau Sauvage, calle Eau Sauvage Friacheur Cuir. I don't know if I need to seek it out.

The original is available practically everywhere, and at very low prices. I've always had a hankering for one of those ginormous bottles and think that I will have to avail myself of one very soon.

Thanks, Lee.. I think

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Perfumes for Imaginary Encounters. Second Installment

A couple of months ago Mr. Colombina came up with a little game, in which he randomly chooses famous people and we name (or, in his case, describe) perfumes we would wear if we were to meet them. Today is Part 2.

Anais Nin. Mr. Colombina thinks a musk would be fitting for an encounter with a writer famous for her erotic stories. The one story that immediately (although vaguely) comes to my mind prominently featured a fur coat, which was worn during... um, anyway... my first instinct is to go with Zibeline by Weil.

Louis Pasteur. "Something milky", virtuously chooses Mr. Colombina, perhaps forgetting that pasteurization inhibits fermentation not only of milk but also of (table) wine thus preventing it from going sour. I would honor the great scientist by wearing Ginestet Sauvignonne.

Nefertiti. "Something floral and really exotic, like the smell of an unknown flower in a rain-forest" is Mr. Colombina's perfume of choice. I would opt for Patou Que-Sais Je?,wearing which makes me feel as if I have been embalmed a good way.

Socrates. "Hemlock!" immediately proclaims Mr. Colombina and I can't help but agree. Thus I would wear Ormonde Woman, which famously features black hemlock.

Charlemagne. Mr Colombina chooses "incense". I, overwhelmed by the idea of meeting the Father of Europe, choose the majestic and mysterious Caron Or et Noir.

Audrey Hepburn. Mr. Colombina's mind works in the most unexpected ways; when he thinks of Hepburn, he thinks of Belgian underground during WWII, spies and of leather. I think I would go for a Givenchy scent, but not L'Interdit, as I wouldn't want to commit a faux pas and wear the same scent as Audrey herself. So I'd wear Le De.

Cyrano de Bergerac. Although, as a (stereotypical) male, Mr. C would not (knowingly) wear a rose scent, he thinks it would be fitting to wear one to meet this romantic hero-for-all-seasons. I can't help but agree and would wear Czech & Speake No 88.

Mozart. Mr. Colombina thinks he needs something "flamboyant, wild, strong and pungent". Apparently there exists a Mozart perfume (maybe even more than one), but I haven't smelled it. I have, however, tasted and loved Mozartkugeln, and I would wear Montale Chocolate Greedy.

William Wallace. Mr Colombina wants "a smell that captures the morning dew, Scottish hills, grass and peat". Which I must say is a perfect description of what I would want to wear too and which more or less describes Cumming The Fragrance.

Monica Bellucci. In this theoretical world we are in, Mr C would want to seduce Bellucci, and so he wants to wear "maybe something leathery but offset by something citrusy, not too fruity". I also can't help but admire the fair Monica, and, to honor her sultry beauty, would wear a heady, languid, sinful white floral, perhaps Tubereuse Criminelle. And in this theoretical world we are in, who knows whose perfume would attract her more, mine or his.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Second Act: Roses For A Diva

By Donna

(Donna joins Perfume-Smellin' Things as a regular contributor, look for her posts on Tuesdays. For more of Donna's articles, please visit Aromascope)

Thanks to March over at Perfume Posse, I now have a generous sample of the “new” (2004) fragrance by Inès de la Fressange. My previous review on Aromascope was for the very nice 1999 release, and I had been unable to find the one that came in the gold bottle with the oak leaf overlay. I can now report my findings on this elusive scent. When looking for one of them, you are likely to find the other, since the names are so similar. Hello, Earth to Marketing Department, Mayday, Mayday! We have brand confusion, incoming!

Despite my difficulty in ferreting out this one, there was no confusion at all when I tried it on – it is very different, sweet and rosy and not at all spicy. The 1999 perfume has a hefty dose of carnation to keep it a little bit sharp. The only sharpness in the newer one is right at the beginning when there is a little puff of bergamot, mandarin, a little blackberry and some peony. Then the rose comes along very quickly. At first it is a standard, one might say classic, iteration of a rose, which to my nose resembles that of Paris de Yves St. Laurent, which is a very good thing. However, it quickly turned very sweet and jammy on me. In fact, it smelled very much like the rose petal syrup that I sometimes make in high summer. I do not mark it down for that at all – I am all about the jam, and it can be as sticky as it wants to be as long as it still smells like real flowers and/or fruit and does not go all artificial and cloying. This does not. It becomes virtual haze of rose and berries, sweet yet very natural smelling, but there is nothing to anchor it. There is no wood to speak of in this. The base has patchouli and vetiver but I cannot detect either. Once the heart notes are revealed they do not really deepen at all, but they are very pleasing.

This fragrance is attributed to Alberto Morillas, and I sense his light touch in this. I do detect his signature “watery” transparent notes, and some iris, but no metallic ozone notes or fake “aquatics” as are so common in mass-market fruity-florals. I was afraid it would turn into CK One on me there for a minute, but then something nice happened – the water notes all went away and a warm, comforting rose and musk scent remained, close to my skin and long-lasting. I did not expect it to last very long after realizing it has so little in the way of base notes, but the rose settled in and stayed for good. I was sniffing my arm for hours afterward. I would say it took about two hours from the first application to reaching this final stage, and it was worth the wait.

This is a prime candidate for layering with a wood, leather or incense fragrance. I will experiment just a bit with it. To keep it at the same level as it is but add some bottom, I will try with Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia. The myrrh and cardamom in that will add some punch. To add just a bit of leather and “dirt” but still keep things more or less civilized, I will pair it up with Balmain Jolie Madame. And when I want to knock some socks off, and NOT at the office, it will be layered with Tauer Perfumes Lonestar Memories.

First up – I wore it to work paired with Vintage Gardenia. It worked perfectly. The incense really gave the rose something to stand on, and it lasted nicely all day. Since both fragrances are light formulations, it never got too sweet, and the gardenia is so sheer that it never overpowered the mix. I will do that again.

Next, a bolder approach: It’s time for the Jolie Madame test. I thought this might work since it is a fragrance with very little sweetness, and the flowers in it are unrelated to those in Inès. When I first combined these two I thought I had made a big mistake, but soon something clicked and it smelled just lovely, very balanced. The rosiness of Inès softened the severity of JM and the end result was a very classy aroma, the kind of scent one would expect to smell on a lady in a suit and pearls. Maybe it’s just my own skin, but this combination was really a success. It may also be because the JM I have is the EDT and therefore is relatively light. I plan to try layering with other fragrances more often due to this little experiment.

Finally, I got up the nerve to try the Inès with Lonestar Memories, which is an EDP. If Hermès Ambre Narguile is “The Nazgûl” to those who can’t stand it, then Lonestar Memories is “The Balrog” – darkly billowing with smoke, tar and pitch, it takes no prisoners. It is a love it or hate it scent, as far from a floral as I have ever experienced, and there is no middle ground. I love it, though it’s not one I could wear very much in my daily life – but I do need to take it out and smell it quite frequently. Anyway, I put that on first and then blitzed my arm generously with Inès. At first, I noticed no difference – The Balrog had utterly devoured the tender roses and fruits and was gnashing its teeth for more. It was as though I had not even put the other one on at all. Oh well, I thought, some experiments are just that – they don’t work. But wait – after about 30 minutes, the beast had been tamed, at least a little, and though the result could not be called rosy, it had mellowed into a glowing hearth fire with spicy holiday overtones. A little bit of rose peeked through later, but the main effect was the minimizing of the tarry notes and the slight sweetening of the smoke to the point where it was actually a comforting smell. I had not really expected this to work at all so it was a pleasant surprise. The Balrog had become The Malrog. (Full disclosures: 1. I am a big Lord of the Rings fan. 2. The Malrog is a geek humor classic resulting from an Internet contest to fashion an image of the monster out of marshmallows. This particular one was only in third place but it’s my favorite. 3. I am too old to find this sort of thing hysterically funny, but I do anyway.)

Final verdict: this is a very feminine and civilized perfume, nicer than 90% of other celebrity scents, if indeed it can be called one since its namesake is not all that famous over here across the pond anymore. (I suspect that is what happened with the 1999 scent as well – Americans have a short attention span for fame in most cases.) I wanted to see if I could turn this lady into a bad girl, and to a certain degree I succeeded. It is lovely on its own, and quite on a par with the first one – very good though not great, and nothing I would be ashamed to wear. I can see why it was lost in the shuffle when it was released, but again, it is better than many others that sell big on their names alone. The real Inès may not be a big star in the public eye anymore, but she always will be one to me.

Per, the notes for this fragrance are as follows:

Top notes: Mandarin, Orange, Neroli, Bergamot, Blackberry

Heart notes: Lily-Of-The-Valley, White Rose, Peony, Iris

Base Notes: Patchouli, Benzoin, White Musks, Vetiver

Image Credit: Rose Petal Conserve from Grasse, France from

Monday, September 03, 2007

Have a great Labor Day!