Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Scent Rules I’ve Learned From Europeans
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
From The Mouths of Husbands - Test Your P.Q.!
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Perfume Review: Andy Tauer Incense Extreme
or, You Gotta Have Friends, part two
Colombina was nice enough to send me (among other things) the new Andy Tauer scent, the latest to arrive in the states.
For me Incense Extreme is almost a misnomer; I was initially hit with more orris than incense. Usually this would be a bad thing, since orris and I don't really get on that well. This orris is sweet and woody and strong and wholly unexpected; there's nothing churchy or Gothic about it as one is wont to think when presented with something called "Incense Extreme".
Then the sweet strong opening starts to fade and the incense comes in. Not the incense of the church, with its imagined weight of sin and forgiveness, nor the incense of 14th street with its flower-power sprites. This is dry woods, the ghost of burning, like walking through the desert in the cool of the evening and smelling the far-off remains of a fire. I don't know that the rainy, cold Los Angeles day I am testing it in is doing many favors for it; I feel that this needs heat to bloom and play off its cool weightlessness, and I think it might need to be sprayed rather than dabbed from the sample vial as I did.
Like most of Tauer's latest scents, it plays with your expectations of what you are going to be smelling. It also manages that feat he does of seeming to be strong and weightless at the same time: almost as if someone in the other room was wearing it and not you. It also has that identifiable, slightly musky "Tauerade" finish to it that I always find welcome. What I don't know is how it's going to go over with the majority of people who are going to read "Extreme" and think they are going to get Messe de Minuit. I have to admit that I am not racing out to get this one right away. I like it, and if you were a fan of Orris who laments its passing then you would do well to give this one a try. For me I will have to see if spritzing brings the incense out and plants that dreaded bulb a little further down into the earth.
Incense Extreme is available in the US at LuckyScent on January 23rd.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Love Not At First Sniff: Anne Pliska, Coco Mademoiselle. Coromandel
I always thought that love should be as Bulgakov said, leaping up at you like a murderer jumping out of a dark alley. Or, to use a happier image, like fireworks going up in the sky the very moment you put your eyes on that Someone. Love, I always thought, is not something you can make yourself feel. Not something anyone can make you feel. It is something that happens and you have no control over it whatsoever. And so I have always wondered, if love is not at first sight, is it really love? When you have to work on trying to love somebody, have to wait till you see them in a different light, could the result really be love? (And, heck, that person might be the most wonderful human being on earth, totally worthy of your love, but does it matter to your stubborn, irrational heart? It has never mattered to mine.)
I still can't satisfactorily answer those questions to myself, as far as human relationships are concerned. I have learned, however, that things are not as categorical, dramatic and "heavy" between perfumes and me. So many of my Great Perfume Loves were not at first sniff. And many of those that were at first sniff are not loved by me anymore. (Funny how one can be faithful unto eternity with people and ridiculously fickle with things.) And although it is certainly easier to take the high road of "if it doesn't smell good on me straightaway, I ain't wasting none of my precious time on trying it ever again", the nose, the skin, the whatever-it-is do change. I wrote a hissy fit post before about perfumes I will never try again, and I still stand by that list. Those will never work on me. Most probably. But there were some, which I kept obstinately revisiting, that have indeed eventually opened up to me in the most wonderful manner, capturing my heart and my imagination. Let me introduce you to my three newest loves not at first sniff.
Anne Pliska. But only in parfum. Eau de Parfum have always been "oh well, it's amber" to me. Parfum has the richness that is almost gourmand in its smoky, ripe plumminess. I read wonderful reviews of Anne Pliska (there was one by Thisbe on makeupalley that, way back when, has actually speed-started me on the path of my niche-perfume obsession), which described the scent as cold. To me, it is a warm scent, no doubt about it, warm, enveloping, sensual and comforting. A perfect little cashmere sweater dress that you could dress up or down. I adore the patchouli-vanilla accord in the drydown of Pliska Parfum, it is soft and fluffy... a gentle, loving caress.
Coco Mademoiselle. Again, only in parfum. I don't want to make it seem that I am a parfum snob. I am actually not at all. I love to spray. I hate dabbing. Most parfums, and especially those by Chanel, last poorly on my skin and have no sillage whatsoever (and I am against monster sillage, but do give me a bit of a trail!). Coco and Coco Mademoiselle are among the very few extraits that a) last b) waft around me as a discreet but discernible veil and c) smell immeasurably better (richer, denser, more complex) than other concentrations. In addition to that, although it still has certain freshness, Coco Mademoiselle parfum does not turn aggressively watery on my skin, as it does in any other form. Its candied patchouli note is a delight. Mlle is, to me, one of the sexiest scents around. Not heavy-lidded sexy, but young and playful and happily in love. It reminds me of myself, many light years ago.
Coromandel. I wrote before on how it reminded me of a plethora of other scents. How one of those scents was, unfortunately, Obssession. Well, this winter the curse of Obssession has been lifted. Cormandel became Obssession-free on my skin. This winter it has been my savior on cold, miserable days. It is such a warm scent, it can be worn instead of a fur coat. And this one IS heavy-lidded sexy. Oh, it is so sexy, it makes my knees weak and my mouth dry. I absolutely adore the fact that it smells a little masculine. It smells as if His scent rubbed off on my skin. When I wear Coromandel, I have a bizarre feeling of someone gorgeous and male being by my side. And that is the kind of GWP that all perfumes should come with.
What scents have you recently rediscovered?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The fish is back
Nancy-Fishbone96 is back in business as an individual seller, offering decants and samples at fishbonefragrances.blogspot.com. PST is in not affiliated with Fishbone96, but we are big fans of her fast, friendly, reasonably-priced service.
Perfume Review: Yves Saint Laurent Opium
Monday, January 21, 2008
Perfume in the Glossies February 2008: It's All About Malle
The Winner of the Top 10 of Winter Draw...
...is QuinnCreative. Please send me your address and let me know which 3 of the scents on my Top 10 of Winter list you would like to try. And thank you, all, for reading and participating!
Friday, January 18, 2008
Top 10 of Winter...and a Prize Draw
The usual suspects are at it again with yet another seasonal list, this time a Winter one. But there can't be too many lists, can there be? With this comforting (and you can bet the word will be used in the post at least seven times; in winter, it's all about comfort) thought in mind, allow me to introduce to you my Top 10 of Winter:
1. Jubilation 25 by Amouage. Chic and comforting (1)...a sable coat worn over a slinky silk dress, on a starry, frosty nuit de noel...
2. Iris Poudre by Frederic Malle. Aldehydes positively blossom in cold air. Never are they more dazzlingly beautiful then when temperatures are below zero (below 30, for those more comfortable with Fahrenheit).
3. Chanel No 22. See above. This is my ultimate elegant winter scent. Because, awful weather or not, one has to be perfectly put together and smell like a lady.
4. Tango by Aftelier. Because it comforts (2) me , reminding that, in the midst of winter, there is in me "an invincible summer."
5. Poivre Piquant by L'Artisan. Ours is a story of how, when thrown together in immediate proximity by circumstances beyond their powers, two enemies (Poivre Piquant and moi) learned to tolerate each other and eventually fell passionately in love. Which goes to prove that love does not always happen at first sniff. Not even at one hundred first. And that milk and pepper do smell striking and comforting (3) together.
6. Coromandel by Chanel. Coromandel and I had a rocky relationship, the one that might be characterized as love-hate, with a little more emphasis on hate. But this winter something "clicked", and I fell head over heels in love with this oriental wonder. To me it always smells just a tad masculine, as if I am wearing a trace of my loved one's perfume. And I find that sexy and - you guessed it- comforting (4).
7. Black Tourmaline by Olivier Durbano. Newly-built wooden church in the midst of Siberian forest. Silence, serenity, safety, eternity, absolute comfort (5).
8. 1740 Marquis de Sade by Histoires de Parfums. Dark and delicious, sensual and comforting (6). With its warm, robust prune-like note, it is a joy to wear in cold weather.
9. Velvet Gardenia by Tom Ford. Ths gardenia smells thick, animalic, sinful. It is a warm perfume, I am not even sure I could wear it in summer. Right now it is like an additional layer protecting my skin form the cold.
10. White Aoud by Montale. I saved the best for last. White Aoud is a comfort (7) perfume extraordinaire. I am not sure I'd survive this winter without it. Fluffy, creamy and warm, it is an utter delight.
What are your Top 10 of Winter? Please share. If you would like to be entered into a sample prize draw, let me know in your comment. One winner will receive 3 samples of his or her choice from the list in this post.
Please remember to check out other Top 10s of Winter:
Bois de Jasmin :: Now Smell This :: Perfume Posse :: Scentzilla
Thursday, January 17, 2008
You Gotta Have Friends...
...Frederick Malle Noir Epices, Vetiver Extraordinaire and L'Eau d'HiverThanks Lee...
One of the great things about trading with people (in addition to making them happy) is the extras that are invariably thrown in with the trades. Lee of Perfume Posse and I recently (well, in recent memory) did a bottle trade and he kindly sent along several generous samples, three of which I am going to give a long overdue review to as well as long overdue public thanks over. Lee, you're a wonderful chap. Hope the Frapins are to your liking, or perhaps in the interest of your bank balance, that they're not?
The three are from the house of Frederick Malle, which as you all know is a house well known for hiring exciting and talented perfumers to create exciting and memorable scents, marketed in climate-controlled storage in such climate controlled stores as Barneys, as well as those odd phone-booth thingies that look like props from Space: 1999. I own and adore French Lover, but in the interest of my bank account have tried not to spend too much time at Barneys mooching around the rest of the line. Thanks to Lee, that might have to change...
Noir Epices was created by Michel Roudnitska, creator of Amoureuse by Perfumes Del Rae and starts off with a blast of pepper that's nose-clearing, eye-watering and wholly wonderful. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg drop in with a slight bit of orange peel and a whiff of geranium. Woods dominate the dry-down, as if you were getting a little less of the pepper and a little more of the pepper mill. While I didn't find it as intense as Ina did at Aromascope, it's not exactly a wallflower of a scent. But somehow for all of it's in-your-face (or would that be up-your-nose?) pepperiness for me it comes across as much drier than, say a Lutens take on the same thing would be. Living with it for a day made me put it on my "things I must have someday" list, but I am not sure that it would be something I would reach for in anything over 70 degree heat. $130 for 50ML
L'Eau d'Hiver was created by Jean-Claude Ellena, creator of Colonia Assoluta for Acqua di Parma as well as Kelley Caleche and Terre de'Hermes for Hermes. This "winter water" (I know, my French is atrocious) for me springtime-bright: heavy on the hawthorne and iris, with more than a touch of the "whoopee" feeling that I got from Serge Lutens Santal Blanc, but gossamer light. Caramel and musk ground the scent, but in a way that's light as a feather: as Robin
points out, it's sheer enough to wear in any weather. I like it, but I don't think it's quite me. Too bad, since for $115 for 50ML it's one of the least expensive of the line.
Of Vetiver Extraordinaire Marina wrote: "A vetiver scent for a hunky wizard". Dominique Ropion, creator of Carnal Flower and Une Fleur de Cassie for the line is the hunky wizard behind this one, which is supposed to contain 25% vetiver. It's certainly the most vetiver of any vetiver that I've run across- opening a bit like Guerlain Vetiver then taking off into the stratosphere. There are whiffs of wood and smoke in there as well, but all of it is a bit of contrapuntal interest to the overriding vetiver. While it's a very masculine scent, it's also one that ladies could easy get away with- with a suit and heels it would be slashingly chic. I like all of these, but Vetiver Extraordinaire is that I feel must some with me immediately. Even at $135 for 50ML.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
New Fragrances Coming to Guerlain boutique in Bergdrof Goodman: Cruel Gardenia, L'Ame d'Un Heros and others
Starting February 4th, Guerlain Boutique in Bergdorf Goodman will have in stock several Exclusive and Limited Edition Fragrances. Only mimited numbers of each will be available for The Second Anniversary of the Boutique.
"CHAMADE POUR HOMME
Is all-embracing encapsulating love, passion & joy. The logic of its creation seems inescapable, so entirely natural from the first aroma to the heady mix of Calabrian bergamot & black pepper. Embark on a sensory voyage of exceptional intensity, experience this stolen kiss that will transport you. Discover the vibrancy w/ violet leaves, a fresh green note that quivers in the brightness of hyacinth, exhilarated w/ the alluring warmth of nutmeg. A radiant sensuality that unsettles & gives nothing away. Revel in its fragrant trail redolent of flamboyant vetiver, & overtones of leather on an accord of precious wood.
QUAND VIENT L'ETE (Floral-Powdery-Sunny)-1998
Imagine a hot summer day. The body surrenders to Nature and the sun. Impossible to resist wearing these fresh, honey notes on a bare skin. In the morning, the urge for morning dew and cool flowers springs from audacious citrus and sharp mint, softened by sweet rose. Under the midday sun, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and white lily sing ode of joy to the body. Their jubilation lasts until twilight and their music lingers in a trail of honey notes redolent of vanilla, iris and carnation.
METALYS (Floral-Spicy) 2000
Here's one of the finest interpretations of vanilla of all time, in a fragrance combining tradition and modernity. Bracing, impetuous and metallic! A burst of citrus top notes sets the pace in a dance of subtle scents. The heart is light and floral, composed of ylang-ylang and orange blossom underscores by spicy carnation. As for the base, the exquisite scent of vanilla unfolds, highlighted by powdery iris and enveloped in the fullness of tonka bean. Metalys, a tale of vibrant femininity.
PURPLE FANTASY (Floral-Woody-Fruity) 2001
For fearless vir tual explorers of intense emotions and new territories, Jean-Paul guerlain creates an imaginary world somewhere between dream and reality, beyond infinity. One enters through a flowerless garden where bergamot, orange and green tea detonate mouth-watering acidulated notes, the hasten to join the dominants at the heart: osmanthus, apricot and jasmin. Appetizing, sensuous and en expected, they for a prelude to the masterful base notes of sandalwood and cedar.
L'AME D'UN HEROS (Invigorating, woody) 1998
At first, nearing the shore, one is met by a bright burst of citrus, fresh bergamot and lemon. Upon firming ground, the wafting scent of neroli tempered by a sage is pure delight to the senses. The effect is fresh, transparent and sumptuously green, like a landscape in the sun warmed by heart notes of ylang-ylang from the Comoros and an aromatic harmony: assinthe, basil and cypress go wild beneath the sultry spicy notes of juniper berry. Drifting sensuously along the skin, a note of everlasting flower sets the pace and beckons to a finale of rich woody and amber notes. The heroic spirit is expressed by elegant vetiver for stature and patchouli and balsamic notes for mystery.
CRUEL GARDENIA (part of the L'Art et La Matiere)
Essence of damask rose with hints of peach and neroli create a refreshing initial burst of florals. Gradually, the scent of gardenia develops with the grace of violet, warmed by ylang-ylang from the Comoros and white musks. These lingering notes, present from the beginning, form the backbone of the composition. Essence of Tonka Bean sustains the white musks and moves into a sensuous note of vanilla and sandalwood. "
For more information and to pre-order, please contact Jason Beers, (212) 872-2734 (646) 320-2637, email@example.com.
Perfume Review: Liz Zorn Grand Canyon
Thanks to a kind fellow perfume lover, I got to try several Liz Zorn fragrances. I was impressed by all and loved one, the subject of this post. "Inspired by the vastness and colors of the American Grand Canyon", the perfumer blended citruses, spices and woods to create a fragrance which I perceive as color copper, the color of sunset over the almost Marcian landscape of Arizona.
Before smelling the fragrance, going by the name alone, I imagined something much sharper and more rugged. In reality, Grand Canyon mixes the sweet (blood orange, clementine) with the dry (black pepper) and the soft (benzoin, honey, myrrh) with the sharp (laurel leaf, vetiver), striking a perfect balance. The citruses are very prominent on me, but, smelled alongside woods and resins, they appear ripe, nectareous and languid, rather than sparkly, fresh and tangy. Myrrh is apparent as well, a round, soft, enveloping note, completely void here of the medicinal undertone that I dislike. And, finally, pepper, the third star note, is the black scar on the soft coppery velvet of the composition, striking and alluring. Liz Zorn calls Grand Canyon a comforting scent, and that is how I perceive it as well. On a cold day like today, it wraps me in its warmth like a gorgeous Southwestern shawl.
Grand Canyon is available on lizzorn.com, $28.00-$89.00.
The painting is Grand Canyon by R. C. Gorman.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
Home And Dry: Yves Rocher Néonatura “Cocoon” Perfume
Monday, January 14, 2008
Perfume Review: Humiecki & Graef Skarb
Let me preface the post by saying that I feel I should be fully qualified to understand and appreciate Humiecki & Graef’s olfactory effort, Skarb. I am Slavic, in more ways than one. I have
Perfume itself, on the other hand, does. I will not engage in the game of guessing which notes of the “star-shaped” composition were meant to represent which sides of the mysterious and sensitive Slavic soul and of the sacred rite that is men’s crying. The presence of some of the notes I could have guessed before smelling Skarb or reading its description. A Slavic-inspired perfume must have incense. And you can’t make perfume inspired by crying without a watery accord. By the way, predictable or rather unavoidable as it is in this case, that accord is what makes the perfume so recognizably Laudamiel for me. The raw, salty, leathery-animalic feel of it reminds me of S-Perfume S-ex, and, dare I say it, it is the “watery accord” that makes Skarb smell interesting, that sets it apart from the ubiquitous spicy-incensey offerings one can now find in dozens at any store specializing in niche perfumes. I also love the pungent greenness of the scent, the meaty earthiness, the unexpected piquant sweetness. It has the kind of oddness that I think should be the only one allowed in perfumery- the wearable kind. Again, that is something unique to Laudamiel’s creations, as is the quirky sort of elegance and unexpected versatility that Skarb has. You could put it on to reconnect with your Slavic soul and to brood about the tumultuous history of Central and Eastern Europe in the 20th century. Or you could easily wear it to your down-to-materialistic-earth and politically correct office and it would feel quite natural there too. And by You I mean a man or a woman, because, despite the man-oriented premise, Skarb is resolutely unisex.
Available at Luckyscent, for the price that, in the spirit of the scent, was probably meant to make you cry, $210.00 for 100ml.
Labels: Humiecki Graef
Winners of Incense Extreme Sample Draw
...are Divalano, Anthony, SaraDCole. Please email me your addresses... and thank you, everybody, for playing!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Made by Blog Update
In Which I Am Being a Positive Thinker... Plus a Prize Draw
My mission impossible for today: to test ten fragrances I have been reluctant to smell for a while and to find something positive to say about each of them.
Coach by Coach. It has guava, but it does not have litchi. It is fruity, but it is also strongly floral. In fact, after a short time of obligatory juvenile sweetness, it becomes an airy white floral. I would go as far as to say that I’d wear it. If I had to.
Desperate Housewives Forbidden Fruit. Actually not that fruity. Like Coach, it is surprisingly floral, with a somewhat lilac-like accord. I could just about imagine wearing it. If I really, really had to.
L by Gwen Stefani. I love the TV ad. I like the bottle. I admire the way the scent fits the adultescent image of Stefani. If I were a fan of Goutal’s Petite Cherie, I would have been ecstatic to find a fragrance that smells just like it.
M by Mariah Carey. Smells like fluffernutters. Is therefore rather comforting. Does not have litchi.
Gucci by Gucci. Is not another Envy Me follow-up. I like the 1970s glam feel of the bottle and the ads. If I hated chypres, I would have been relieved to discover that Gucci is not one of them.
Delicious Night by Donna Karan. Does not smell like Be Delicious.
Roxy by Roxy. If I were 14, I would have loved this. It makes me grateful I am not 14.
Nina by Nina Ricci. Ditto.
Betsey Johnson by Betsey Johnson. Tritto.
Eau de Star by Thierry Mugler. An aquatic accord will make Angel ever so more bearable to smell in a crowded train at 8 in the morning. Besides, as far as I can tell, it does not have litchi.
Your mission impossible for today: find a sample you were afraid to test, smell it and say something positive about it, in your comment. If you would like to be entered into a sample prize draw for a scent that is in no way like the ten fragrances in this post, say so in your comment. The scent is Andy Tauer's new offering, Incense Extreme. The names of three winners will be randomly drawn and announced on Monday.
Pollyanna still is from ultimatedisney.com.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
News from Robert Piguet Parfums: New E-Commerce Site and 60 years of Fracas
Robert Piguet Parfums unveiled the newly-designed and shop-able website. Check it out at robertpiguetparfums.com.
The brand will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of Fracas, Robert Piguet’s star fragrance, throughout the whole of 2008. New product introductions and special offers will be launched and announced in the upcoming months. Since I liked basically everything Piguet Parfums (re) introduced so far, I am excited.
Perfume Review: Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes- Ambre Fetiche, Myrrhe Ardente, & Encens Flamboyant
Review by Tom
Those of you who have been reading my petty ramblings on this blog know that I am a long-time fan of Annick Goutal; since I was a toddler in the 80's and discovered her scents at Bergdorf Goodman where they were the antithesis of that decades rather (ahem) definite scents. These were covered by Patty and March at Perfume Posse, and of course I had to log on to the Perfumed Court and get the samps.
Ambre Fétiche starts off boozy, all iris and frankincense, then getting a bit like a drier Sables. For me the actual Amber portion of the program doesn't pop out until well into the development, but when it does: oh my! This is an AG that lifts its skirts. It's not as definitive as say Ambre Sultan's glottal liquidness or the delightful debauchery of Ambre Russe (three spritzes of which could have you doing a field sobriety test), but it's amber in no uncertain terms.
Encense Flamboyant is perhaps one that is not quite going with the truth in advertising thing. It is a lovely incense, starting off with cardamom and a trace of nutmeg and drying finally to a your-skin-but-better note. It's not terribly heavy incense; there's no real weight to it, and I mean that in a good way. I can see getting a lot of mileage out of this one and immediately running out and getting another bottle after I had used up the one that I will no doubt buy. As much as I like Ambre Fetiche, I don't know that I would write the same about it.
Myrrhe Ardente starts off sweet, with vanilla and myrrh elbowing each other in the ribs to get to the front. Luckily, on me myrrh sucker punches vanilla fairly early on in the proceedings and a rather Eau-de Fier note drops in for a visit. Vanilla picks herself out of the weeds, dusts herself off and pops back in for the drydown. If you are averse to some of that sweetness (I certainly was not), I think you could spritz on a bit of Eau de Fier to cut it.
As March and Patty point out, none of these are reinventing the wheel. What they are doing, and praise be that the lovely people at Annick Goutal are, is making three very lovely and very worthy additions to a house that I will always think of as the original Niche House: one that in 30 years has never lost its way and has never debuted something that compromised the purity of the vision of their founder. I say hosannas for that, and get these stateside; I need a bottle of Encense Flamboyant...
Image source, annickgoutal.nl.
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
A Sappy Story That Ends Well: Max Mara
This is the saga of a department store perfume that ended up being surprisingly good. Some time ago I was on the lookout for a summer fragrance, but not one so light that it would disappear in fifteen minutes. I like citrus scents but I have to be careful with them. Sometimes grapefruit can turn “catty” on me if you know what I mean, and orange fragrances must be tempered with something else to avoid smelling like orange spray cleaner on my skin. In addition, some citrus scents are so dry and austere that they can seem quite masculine, such as Guerlain’s Eau de Cologne Imperiale – I love it, but it is not playful or feminine at all. I wanted something light-hearted but grown-up as well, something I could wear to the office that would still be professional, but also something fun and a little bit soft for casual wear. I did not want to spend a lot of money either. Was that too tall an order?
I looked at a number of scents in this quest for just the right one. I loved Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée and Un Jardin Sur le Nil but they pretty much disappeared on me right away and I thought that for those prices they should last longer. The latter one I would like to have around when it’s too hot to wear anything but a glass of iced tea and a smile, but not for everyday use. The same was true of L’Artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillons – it just did not last well on me, though it was truly wonderful while it lasted. (If I had known that there was an Extreme, i.e. EDP for version of this, things might have been different.) My current summer standby Ines de la Fressange (1999) is very nice, but it has a spicy undertone from the carnation and I wanted something that was really sheer and refreshing. Besides, who ever said you only need one summer perfume?
As luck would have it, I was passing through my local Nordstrom store one day and I saw something new. I was drawn to the chunky but curvy modern bottle design of Max Mara, and hoping that the juice inside matched the looks of the package, I stopped to take a closer look. When I sprayed it on, I knew right away it was going to be a keeper. The initial burst of citrus was nothing short of delightful, sparkling fresh and just sweet enough to be more like fresh lemonade than just a lemon. But something else was making it extraordinarily pleasing that I could not quite put my finger on. I asked the very helpful sales associate to look up the notes for me. (At Nordstrom, they are actually willing to DO this, you see.) The mystery note was: sap! I have no idea what kind of sap, as the note is only listed as “sap” or “plant sap” in the places I looked it up, but nonetheless sap happens to be a favorite thing of mine. You see, I grew up in New England, and every spring we tapped our Sugar Maple trees to make maple syrup. The sap from the trees has only a gentle sweetness, and must be boiled for many hours to be turned into thick syrup. I used to like to drink the sap straight from the tree, as there is no purer form of water to be found in Nature than that which has been filtered by the roots of this grand tree. It tastes of the natural sugar of the maple tree and sometimes has a slightly “barky” character from coming into contact with the tree’s exterior as it runs out of the tap. When sugaring season was over, we could store the syrup all year if it lasted that long, but the sap was a fleeting pleasure confined to the few short weeks when it sweetened the spring air as it flowed out of the roots and swelled the tiny buds of the maple trees. In the fall, when those same trees turn scarlet and orange, their brilliant leaves smell of burnt caramel sugar in an echo of spring’s sweet elixir.
The SA made up a sample of it for me so I could wear it at home. I used it up very quickly, as I could not get enough of smelling it. It lasted pretty well, though I would like a little more longevity from an Eau de Parfum. It really does not fade as much as change, however– it gets a somewhat candied feel as the top notes gradually give way and then that is a constant presence for quite some time. One reason for this is the presence of sugar cane, which I also love – have you ever bought a piece of fresh, crunchy cane at a market and chewed the sugary juice out of it? It’s rather like a bamboo shoot in texture only woodier, and it’s very refreshing on a hot day. It’s sort of like sap itself, if you think about it – it’s the essence of the plant, the lifeblood if you will, and we also boil it down into something thick and sweet.
I liked it more the longer I wore it, and here is why. The listed notes are as follows: Ginger, Sap, Sicilian Lemon, Magnolia, White Lily, Orchid, Sugar Cane, Musk, Exotic Woods, Cashmere (the wood, not the wool!). Well, I am a lover of all things Lily and Orchid, and who does not like Sicilian Lemon? The Magnolia is also a soft, almost watery note but very sensual too. The sap note is especially endearing, as it has an effect on the entire spectrum of the scent’s development. It lends a fresh almost rain-like feel to the whole thing, soft as a breeze but never too sweet. It never gets sour or acidic or “turns” on my skin like so many other citrus-based fragrances do.
As it reached the dry down stage, it reminded me of something else and I thought about it for a while but could not come up with the association. I finally figured it out after seeing a photo of Sophia Loren, believe it or not – it smelled like the flavor of a dessert I made a long time ago. A newspaper printed the recipe for a favorite Italian dessert that she made at home for her family called Ricotta Pie, a very lemony cheesecake-like confection with candied citron and Sultana raisins in it, among other things. It was really good and I received high praise for it. It was one of those things where I surprised myself by how well it came out. Don’t get me wrong, this is not really a foody scent, but the lemony goodness is so very appealing to me that I can only call it delicious!
The perfumer for this 2004 release was Daphne Bugey of Firmenich, but I cannot find out much about her other than a list of fragrances she has done over on Now Smell This. She did three critically acclaimed scents for Le Labo and also collaborated with Olivier Cresp for the award –winning Kenzo Amour, so I know she is very talented. The Max Mara fashion label is the creation of Milan designer Achille Maramotti, who died in 2005. I understand that the company released another fragrance in 2007 for the line, called Silk Touch, which is very different in character (a fruity-floral) but is also by Daphne Bugey. I hope this does not mean the end of the first one. What will I do for the perfect summer perfume if they take it away? (For now, the original Max Mara EDP is widely available at online perfume merchants and department stores – I found the large 150 ML bottle at TJ Maxx for under $30.00.) It also comes in a body wash, body cream and a lotion containing silk protein called Lifting Body Serum. I may have to have some of those products for summer. But oh, have I mentioned this; I like this one so much that I have decided it’s not just for summer anymore, and I will have to resist the temptation to wear it so much that I will need another bottle by the time warm weather comes around again.
Image credits: Max Mara Perfume bottle from amazon.com. Maple branch from cbc.ca
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Once in a while, when I suffer from a blogger's block, I turn to Mr Colombina for post ideas. Yesterday he asked me an interesting question: do the scents that a couple wears have to be coordinated, and if so, which feminine fragrances would go best with which masculine fragrances, and would I list some of my most favorite men's scents and pair them with their ideal feminine counterparts. I firmly believe that everyone should wear what they like (and what the other partner doesn't actively dislike) and only be concerned about the amount of scent they put on (so as to not overpower the perfume the other person wears...I for one resent it tremendously, when, going out and having put on the rarest and the most expensive of parfums, I am then unable smell to it, because my nose is simply stuffed with the fumes of my partner's cologne of choice)...But I thought it was a fun exercise.
So here is the list of my favorite masculine perfumes, coupled with the scents that I think "go" with them the most. No thorough analysis was put into this, I went with my first instinct, which, looking at it now, was to complement what I feel are the main notes in masculine scents with similar notes in feminine scents. And thus we have:
1. Dior Fahrenheit for him - L'Artisan Dzing for her
2. Chanel Egoiste for him - Chanel Bois des Iles for her
3. Dior Eau Noire for him - Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande or Montale Boise Vanille for her
4. Annick Goutal Duel for him - Bond No 9 West Broadway for her
5. Caron Yatagan for him - Guerlain Jicky for her
6. Dior Eau Sauvage for him - Diorella or Diorama for her
7. D'Orsay Le Dandy for him - Lubin Idole for her
8. Geoffrey Beene Gray Flannel for him - Caron Violette Precieuse (old version) for her
9. Guerlain Derby for him - Miss Dior for her
10. Knize 10 for him - Caron Tabac Blond for her
11. Terre d'Hermes for him - L'Artisan Dzongkha for her
12. Gucci Homme for him - Caron Parfum Sacre for her
13. Dior Homme for him - Prada Infusion d'Iris for her
14. Czech & Speake No 88 for him - Gucci L'Arte di Gucci for her
15. Amouage Jubilation XXV for him - Montale Golden Aoud for her
There is a practically limitless amount of ways in which one could go about coupling scents. (You could, of course, take a shortcut and wear the ready made his-and-hers scents offered by companies, but that is kind of boring.) For example, instead of matching the main notes, as I did, you could choose to complement the less prominent accords: the powdery floralcy of Fahrenheit would go wonderfully well with a soft violet scent, say, LesNez The Unicorn Spell, and an iris fragrance like Iris Silver Mist would highlight the delicate orris in Duel. Contrasting scents might work just as well and perhaps be even more fun than the matchy-matchy approach. Imagine the rich darkness of Knize 10 next to the dazzling whiteness of Lys Mediterranee! Or the resolutely non-floral Yatagan next to the exuberant tuberose of Carnal Flower! The smoldering Gucci Homme next to the ethereal Clair de Musc. (Again, I can't stress it enough, please, be mindful of the amount you apply!)
By the way, nothing should prevent you from reversing the list! Let him wear your Miss Dior and wear his Derby. Fahrenheit is perfectly wearable for a woman, and a man can easily pull off wearing Diorama. And this brings me to Mr Colombina's second question: can women and men share perfume? My answer is a resounding Yes! I think there is nothing sexier than sharing a scent with someone you love. My favorite perfumes to share: all listed above, plus Chanel Coromandel, Bond No 9 Silver Factory, Montale Black Oud, Histoire de Parfums Marcquis de Sade, Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir...
I was also asked whether I think that some scents should never be worn together. I honestly can't think of an example of completely clashing fragrances. Pink Sugar and Cool Water? Or is it just my dislike for the scents talking here? If you love each other, perfumes you wear will always seem perfectly matching and ideally suited. Just please don't over-apply.
So what are your ideas on the coupling of scents? Do you match your perfume to that of your partner? What are your favorite combinations?