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Monday, March 31, 2008

Perfume Review: Vero Kern Onda

Continuing with the theme of earthy perfumes for spring, today I am talking about one of my relatively recent discoveries in the genre, Onda by Vero Kern. Swiss perfumer, whom Andy Tauer reverently calls his mentor, Vero Kern started Vero Profumo with three fragrances, of which Onda is my favorite.

With notes of vetiver, ginger, mace and coriander, Onda is described by the creator as "a flying carpet that takes us to the secret places of our deepest longings". My perception of the perfume is less exotic. Perfectly representing the green, earthy and, for the lack of a better word, almost bready smell of vetiver, Onda is a rustic scent for me. It is the smell of freshly ploughed earth, of hay, of wet grass, of wooden houses, of peat, of smoke in a chimney... A comforting scent, an urban person's vision of bucolic utopia. Another aspect of Onda that should not be left unmentioned is its sensuality. It must be the spices that infuse the no-nonsense vetiver note with warmth and indolence and, yes, "deep longing". So put together "rustic" and "sensual" and what we have in Onda is another perfume for Lady Chatterley.

Onda can be found at, $145.00-$230.00. Samples sets of the three scents are also available, for $20.00.

Photograph is by Arthur Elgort.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Perfume Review: Acqua di Parma Profumo

"Steps were heard at the door, and Princess Betsy, knowing it was Madame Karenina, glanced at Vronsky. He was looking toward the door, and his face wore a strange new expression. Joyfully, intently, and at the same time timidly, he gazed at the approaching figure, and slowly he rose to his feet." Lev Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

In the great and waning chypre genre, Acqua di Parma's Profumo is one of the most often overlooked and most easily available gems. It is everything a chypre lover might possibly want in a fragrance, the bright citrusy top, the sensual floral-spicy heart, and the opulent, dark woody-mossy base. It even has a very prominent animalic undertone, the kind of cumin-y, civet-y dirt without which, to me, a chypre is just not a chypre. It is full-bodied and graceful, infinitely feminine. It is perfect. What's more, whenever I smell this Italian creation, it, strangely, makes me think of Russia. It might be that the delightfully waxy smell that roses and jasmine have in this composition and its spicy-incensey undertone remind of me of Orthodox churches. Frankly, I don't know. It is one of those associations which, once inexplicably made, can't be shaken off. Not that I would want to.

And if I were to match Profumo to a book or a literary heroine, it without a doubt would be Anna Karenina, she who carried "her rather full figure with extraordinary lightness". I once read that for Tolstoy Anna represented his own sexuality, and because he was afraid of his sexuality, he killed her. Profumo is that inner being in us which simultaneously attracts and repulses us, because we feel that if we let it loose, the results would be, at best, cataclysmic or, most probably, tragic.

Profumo can be found at Sephora, $173.00 for 3.3oz.

Image source,

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Comme des Garcons Series 6: Synthetic

By Tom

As you are all aware, CdeG is the maker of interestingly weird clothing and intriguingly odd fragrances. They have started to open "Guerrilla" stores in various places, the latest here in Los Angeles, steps from my office in downtown Los Angeles. The stores are only open for a year, selling some items at a discount. Being one of the cool, in the know people (well, I heard about it on KCRW, does that count? No? K.) I was of course there about thirty seconds after the place opened. Not being a cool, wealthy person, about the only thing I could justify even thinking about purchasing were perfumes. There are of course Guerrilla Store inspired scents, but Columbina summed them up brilliantly so I will attempt to cover another range..

I had been given a sample of the Synthetic Soda in one of the first packages I ever ordered from a decanter on eBay: I honestly don't remember if it was Nancy or Patty or who it was. I remember liking the fragrance immediately and then completely forgetting about it when something shiny was dangled in my general direction. I was pleased to retry and to sample the rest of the series.

Dry Clean should have sent me running for the hills, with it's notes (via LuckyScent) of ozone, aldehydes, and nail polish but it doesn't. It's not really ozonic, it's not really dryer sheets and it's not really what you would think of when you think of "fresh". It's somewhat the scent of a really nice wool suit that has just come from a good cleaner: freshened wool, wooden coat hangers, a slightly plasticky smell of the cleaner bag and a slight whiff of cedar closets. I suppose you could get the same effect just wearing a garment bag, but it would be churlish to point that out, and rather missing the point. These are different, dammit, and if you want to be a stick-in-the-mud and expect linear progression and conventional beauty then you are just the sort of staid old Grundy that expects to wear shirts with two sleeves, one on either side of the chest.

I kid because I love...

Skai starts off sweet, with a note of frankly-fake grapefruit before settling into a leather note that's more Cordoba than Cordovan. If you've ever gotten into a hot car with vinyl seats you'll know that particularly compelling smell. There is a later coal tar note, keeping the J G Ballard portion of the program going. If ever there was a fragrance to release your inner Grace Jones, then this is it. I'm hearing "Warm Leatherette" in my head as I type..

Garage is one that thankfully doesn't try to be too literal in expressing it's name; there's leather, a light whiff of kerosene (but not nearly as much as in the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle) and a certain oiliness to it that makes me think of a very clean mechanic after a day of work. Oddly, this is an extremely light fragrance, one of the cleanest fragrances using those notes I've ever run across. There seems to be nothing musky about it at all, which would be the expected base, or at least the one that I'd expect. But really, there are so many other scents out there that do the expected, it's nice to smell one that refuses to..

Tar doesn't refuse to. Now you all know that both Columbina and I loves us some tarry scents. Fatty Kolnisch Juchten? Check. Smoky Patchouli 24? Sign me up! Where Tar goes with it is to the track: Le Labo is all about the NoLiTa meets Grasse uber-coolness. KJ is a Tatar prince ripping blackened fatted meat fresh from the campfire. Tar is a NASCAR hottie: tarmac, tires, seat belts and sweat. Dario Franchitti after a hard race. Yum.

Soda was the one that I first tried and liked very much. I'm a sucker for lime in fragrance and this one is so fizzy with aldehydes that you would half expect to wake up with a hangover from it. Of course, the limes are far more like the ones that are inhabiting Roses Lime Juice than anything that recently came from a tree, but that's sort of the point. The frank insincerity of the lime notes are perfect- this is the synthetic series after all. There's also musk in there, but it's also quite amusingly synthetic. Think robot musk. Like the rest of them there isn't a lot of progression, sillage or conventional prettiness in any of these. If you can get behind that, then you will enjoy the heck out of them. If not I think they will leave you very cold.

LuckyScent carries these at $65 for 75 mls in the slightly off-putting packaging, which looks a bit like face cleanser or bug spray. I do have a concern about plastic packaging changing the scents, but since these are so aggressively synthetic, perhaps the concern is unfounded.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Perfume Review: Ormonde Jayne Ormonde Woman

If perfumes were being categorized in some sort of Synesthesiac's Guide to Fragrances, Ormonde Woman would represent color Dark-Green. Black-Green even. It is the deepest green imaginable, the color of ancient trees in a witchy forest, on the darkest night of the year. It is not a feminine perfume, at least not feminine in a sweet and dainty or come-hither and vixenish, obvious, way. I imagine Lilith, "the witch Adam loved before the gift of Eve", smelling like this, dangerous and disturbing and strangely, insinuatingly sensual.

Famously featuring a black hemlock note, Ormonde Woman has the kind of meaty green earthiness that I usually associate with immortelle. The oily powderiness -yes, I know, sounds bizarre, but this is a bizarre scent- of violet in the heart contributes to that fleshy, robust feel. Compared to an immortelle-heavy scent like Dior' s Eau Noire, however, Ormonde Woman is spicier, sharper, with cardamom and especially coriander being very prominent. In fact, it, to me, smells more masculine than the very unisex Eau Noire and certainly more masculine than the sweet Ormonde Man. Having said that, I feel uncomfortable using words like "masculine" or "feminine" when describing this perfume. It is beyond definitions like that. Like Lilith, this perfume is not human and requires a whole other vocabulary. My synesthesia is not enough to write a better review of Ormonde Woman. I need the gift of xenolalia.

Ormonde Woman is available at Ormonde Jayne online boutique, £58.00-£112.00.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

White Floral Queen Part Two: Creed Fleurissimo

By Donna

The one thing that everyone knows about Fleurissimo by Creed is that Prince Rainier of Monaco commissioned it for the occasion of his marriage to Grace Kelly, as a gift for her to wear on their wedding day, and not released for sale to the public until 1972. Perhaps this gives people who are not familiar with this fragrance the impression that this is a ladylike composition, demure and proper as befits the consort of a Prince. That is not exactly true.

This may be the only nominally “tuberose” scent I know of that does not have a heavy tropical sweetness to it – not that there is anything wrong with that, of course. The remarkable thing about Fleurissimo is that the tuberose is perfectly and seamlessly matched with violet and Florentine iris, as well as Bulgarian rose. The result does not smell like any one of these elements, but rather a fusion of light airiness that is like a summer breeze wafting through a garden. The violet keeps the tuberose in check, not allowing it to become too heady or overbearing. In doing so, the violet itself is somewhat masked and it emerges only as a sheer freshness, which is amplified by the gorgeously cool iris note. The rose is used in a judicious dose, lending a round and soft character to the whole without being too much of an influence otherwise.

This fragrance is all sail and no ballast; there is no wood or other heavier base note to anchor it. It floats by itself on a sea of clouds, free with its sillage, announcing the presence of the wearer well in advance. It is a different kind of Big White Floral, dressed in a gauzy, translucent Grecian gown instead of a heavy satin Drama Queen number. It changes very little in character during the course of the day, except when it is hot and humid, whereupon the tuberose finally escapes from her prim and proper violet and iris chaperones for a while and goes a little wild. At any stage, the keynote to this scent is it airiness – even in a closed room there always seems to be a lot of space around it, overarching and open.

There was a time some years ago when I wore this perfume almost exclusively, and I loved it so much that I probably over-applied it at times. (It is relatively light so I hope I did not turn anyone into a fragrance hater.) Why did I stop wearing it? As we all know, fragrance and memory are intertwined, and I went through a series of very bad experiences in my life for several years that seemed to pile on each other in merciless succession, including a hopelessly unrequited love that took me years to get over. Now when I smell Fleurissimo it makes me sad and wistful, though I still adore it. I remember who I was when I started wearing it, and that person is now gone. I liked a lot of things about her, but I will never be that way again, an eternally optimistic girl who thought that everything would always turn out right somehow. I still have a streak of that optimism in me that refuses to go away completely, but that time of my life is what finally turned me into as much of a “grown-up” as I will probably ever be. Fleurissimo is a part of my “before” past. I still have a little bit of it, and lately I have been toying with the idea of trying to wear it just to prove to myself that I can. I detect its influence in other, usually lesser scents, but nothing else gets the balance just right. Its utterly disarming natural freshness and floralcy is such a delight, I don’t think I want to deprive myself of it forever. This fragrance is about radiance and happiness more than anything else, and I hope that someday it will mean that to me again.

Fleurissimo would be good for someone who likes tuberose but who finds most of the fragrances on the market that have it to be too sweet and heady for daily use, and also for those who love violet but are looking for something more exciting and sensual than the usual type of violet perfume. Applied judiciously, it is a most agreeable scent that is easy to live with, and though it not cheap by any means, it costs less than many inferior compositions. The House of Creed has been around for a long time and many of their perfumes, including this one, are true classics. It is widely available in specialty shops and at online fragrance retailers. It is available as Eau de Parfum (called a “Millesime” by Creed), and now can be found in Bath and Shower Gel, Body Lotion and Soap at Neiman-Marcus and selected Saks Fifth Avenue stores. The usual size for the EDP is 2.5 ounces, which retails for about $190 but can easily be located at a lower price online. If you really like this fragrance, it can be had in an 8.4 ounce Flacon, which is a bit harder to find, but it’s a real bargain even at the retail price of $290, and I have seen that size for less than that as well..

Image credits: Creed Fleurissimo bottle from Austrian Teplitz Art Nouveau figurine, from fine estate auction site burchardgalleriescom.

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Perfume Review: Neil Morris Dark Earth

"Winter kept us warm, covering earth in forgetful snow". Spring came, and there is a raw, poignant smell in the air, the smell of life beginning anew only to end all too soon. I feel vulnerable in spring. And nothing expresses that feeling better, in olfactory terms, than earthy perfumes. The earthy fragrance extraordinaire is Christopher Brosious's genius creation, Black March. It is too disturbingly realistic for me, the smell of freshly dug grave. Not a scent I can wear. Not even one that I dare to re-visit.

Neil Morris's Dark Earth smells wonderfully real too, evoking the aroma of bare, moist spring soil, spread bare, taut in the effort "to breed lilacs" out of its fertile depths. But realistic as it is, Dark Earth is also fairly stylized. Black March is a smell of earth. Dark earth is a perfume about earth. It is a happier scent for me, heralding the new beginning rather than the end of the world. The joyous feel of Dark Earth might possibly stem from the fact that it has certain sweetness. And the powdery finish in the base, which to me is a trademark of (many) Morris's scents, is that welcome reminder that this is, after all, a perfume. And I Love Perfume.

Dark Earth is one of the Vault fragrances. According to, the Vault fragrances will be available online in April 2008. Right now, you can order them over the phone or via email. "Each two-ounce spray bottle of Parfum is made in small quantities signed by Neil and retails for $150.00 plus shipping. Samples of each fragrance are also available for $4.00 plus shipping. "

The painting is by Erte.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Time to Rant- 800 New Perfumes, and a Big Whatever

By Marla

I still can’t believe we’re dealing with approximately 800 new perfumes per year. Even the most dedicated perfumista can’t keep up anymore. Unfortunately, what should be a smorgasbord of olfactory delights is more like the latest cable service- increased price for more channels of…nothing. I’ve tried at least 25 new perfumes since 2008 began, and I haven’t found any that are bottleworthy, in fact, most seem to be clones of each other, from the Terminator’s factory, suitable for bots but not bods. And I have quite a few in-your-face synthetics in my collection, including Flower and Alien, and I love them. They are unabashedly unnatural and strange, unique and intelligent. But these new bot-fumes are just plain…shrill. Shallow. Boring. Oh where to begin?

First, I eagerly awaited Shiseido’s newest Zen. Love the first one (black). Love the second (pearl). The third was plastic flowers in dull but obnoxious colors with rubber fruit thrown in. Yeesh.

Then the newest Laura Biagiotti. Now the long-lost Venezia (still available through Irma Shorell, I’ve heard), is a rich, fruity, spicy oriental. Even if those aren’t your style, you’ll still think it’s gorgeous, believe me. The minis sell for $50 and up on ebay (I got one from a friend for 3 euros, lucky me!). And Roma is still very popular in Europe, particularly among women who state, “I can’t stand perfume. But I wear Roma.” This rich orangey blend is subtle and charming. Beautiful on women of all ages. I own a huge tester, a mini, and a large bottle. Laura is a bland but subtle aquatic/ozonic. It’s just fine. But I admit to having had high hopes for the newest, Donna, with notes of peach and…prune, just like Venezia, right?? Oh noooooo….. I ran down to my local Douglas, spritzed it on my wrist, and almost gagged. Another synthetic fruity cocktail at the rave, or even a peach jello shot. I couldn’t wash it off in the shop, so I held my arm as far away from my body as possible until I reached a bathroom. Argh, who buys these memories of drunken debauches when they were 20-somethings and drank one-to-many fruity margaritas with the new guy from Accounting??

The latest Chloe? Pretty much the same, a notch more sophisticated. YSL’s Elle was nice but blah, with those same, over-the-top synthetic floral notes. Flowers from Planet Zogwart. I won’t even mention the new Joops, can’t keep track of them all anyway. Now I actually did like the Beckham Intimate for Men, it was a spicy treat. A little piratey bay in there? Yummy! Life has its surprises, and I could wear that one. But the rest? Forget about it! Always the optimist, I’m holding my breath for the new Lutens (the one with the funky faux British name) and the newest Hermes Jardin. Jean Claude Ellena, take me away!


The “In a Station at the Metro” Perfume Project and The Winner of the Botrytis Draw

By Alyssa

f you haven’t checked out the amazing perfume+poetry project going on over at Memory and Desire, I strongly recommend that you do so. Fourteen perfumers, including Christophe Laudamiel, Mandy Aftel, Andy Tauer, Vero Kern (of the amazing Onda), Yosh Han and Michael Storer among others are responding to blog mistress Heather Ettlinger’s call to describe how they would transform Ezra Pound’s three line poem, “In a Station at the Metro” into a perfume. Six of the perfumers created a perfume for the project, and there will be a giveaway at the end of the series with samples of each and many other beautiful things. (All the details are here.) The perfumer posts started this week on Monday with Many Aftel and will continue daily until the end of the month. Full disclosure: I know Heather, and have been privileged to have a peek behind the scenes of the project. What I’ve seen there fills me with optimism for the future of independent perfumery and its possible effects on the industry and the lives of perfume fans. The perfumers are passionate about creativity, play, and art for art’s sake, and they are delighted to be engaged in this way. We may not be able to convince Dior to re-issue their back catalog, but we can belong to a vibrant and growing community of people who are keeping the artistry of perfume new and alive. Call out your perfumista heart’s desire: they’re listening, folks.

And the winners…drawn by my distracted and totally impartial DH while he was watching Obama’s speech on Race in America for the third, obsessed time…are Theresa, Flora and Existentialist! I figured I should give more than one away since y’all have waited so damn long. Send me an email at aharad at gmail dot com with your coordinates.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Five O' Clock Au Gingembre

Review by Tom

Lutens's newest, about to hit Barneys anytime now. "Le 5 O'clock" is of course the phrase in French for afternoon tea, and I approached the scent keeping this angle in mind. Notes of ginger, honey, pepper and cocoa has me thinking that perhaps this would be a much stronger concoction than it turned out to be. It is all about tea, but not in the smoky, almost savage way that say, Dzing! or Chergui are; those are being served milky tea in a circus tent and being served smoky Souchong by a hot Sheik respectively. Gigembre is tea served in a fine hotel: Earl Grey and shortbread cookies with crystallised ginger, with a base of cacao and patchouli as if the finely dressed matron at the next table had ordered some hot Valrhona.

It's also perhaps one of the most accessible Lutens fragrances in a long while. It does none of the antics of some of his other scents (which I love, mind you), there's no contrapuntal blast of gasoline or menthol or whatever, it's just reassuringly plush without being twee or pretentious. It smells like what I imaging tea at the Crillon must be like: luxurious in that French way of giving you just enough of something really perfect to sate. I actually surprised myself by liking it more and more with each wearing; this quickly went from "meh" to "gimme".

I assume that it will be $120 when it hits Barneys, Aedes and ScentBar (the latter by phone only).

Five O'Clock Tea by Mary Cassatt is from

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Back on Thursday

PST is taking a short break. We will be back on Thursday with a review of Serge Lutens Five O'Clock au Gingembre. Have a great week, everybody!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Adieu Sagesse

Adieu Sagesse is the 1925 entry in Jean Patou's olfactory love trilogy. It is the final entry, but, in typical fashion, I will be skipping the logical - and sensible- progression of the first moment of love (Amour-Amour) and the moment when heart wisely hesitates, asking itself, "what do I know?" (Que Sais-Je?), plunging straight into surrender and waving farewell to wisdom.

I mentioned numerous times that I do not like carnation note in perfume. I also reviewed numerous exceptions from this no-carnation rule. Adieu Sagesse is without a doubt my most favorite carnation-heavy perfume. It has none of the powder that I dislike in carnation fragrances and all the creaminess that I adore in them. The creaminess undoubtedly comes from the inclusion of tuberose and opoponax. The base, a heavy-lidded concoction of musk and civet, paints in vividly animalic colors just exactly what happens after one surrenders to desire. That base is so sexy, it should be X-rated. All the languid floral spiciness and the sensual muskiness would have been too heavy for me were it not for the fresh floral accord of orange blossom and lily of the valley that first appears in the top notes and stays throughout the scent's development, like a tender, poignant reminder of the lost...if not innocence than reason.

Adieu Sagesse, bonjour tristesse.

Photo by Patrick Demarchelier

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Le Labo Lands in LA

By Tom

Le Labo has opened a branch of itself on Los Angeles' trendy West 3rd Street at Orlando Avenue. I stopped in and sampled some of the line that I had previously but had been on the fence about including Labdanum 18 and Vetiver 46 (which answered the questions of my previous review- yes, they do lock in the great opening and the fab drydown after sitting for a while- the small bottle of Vetiver I bought is going to sit for at least a week before I try to use it, as the stores testers must have), enjoyed the fragrance "balm"; a silicone-based alcohol-free version of the scents, and chatted with Fabrice Penot, one of the founders. He was nice enough to tell me that Los Angeles will indeed get an exclusive, which he described as "an Angel, with a core of sin".

I wrote him later:


It was very nice to meet you at the Le Labo store in West Hollywood today, and I was thrilled to hear about the direction that you're taking with the LA specific scent. If you don't mind a little pontificating on my part, there are a few things you could do to get a feeling for LA.

I mentioned driving Mulholland at night from Bel-Air to Hollywood.

Have a drink or two at Musso and Franks on Hollywood Boulevard before catching a revival at the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian.

Buy a hot dog at Pink's and brunch at the Hotel Bel-Air

Tour the Gilmore Adobe at the Grove and the Huntington gardens in San Marino

Take a Sunday and drive Sunset Blvd from seedy Silverlake to Simon-pure Pacific Palisades

LA is a bizarre and wonderful place that pretty much didn't exist 100 years ago; unlike most other cities, it's beauty is kept well hidden from casual observation, hidden in the dark canyons or behind walls of bougainvillea, fragrant, with three inch thorns . It's the over-the-top glitz of the Beverly Hills Hotel a short drive away from the site of the Manson murders- the same tour bus will show you both. It's the Paps stalking Britney outside of Kitson, which sells $98 hoodies emblazoned with the image of the homeless man who dances on rollerskates down the block. It's beauty and madness and the knowledge that we all could be wiped off the map by the "big one" at any second. It is as you said, angelic whiteness with a dark core of sin.

I cannot wait to smell what you do with it..

I'll be pawing at the door to try it when it hits in September

Images courtesy of Fabrice Penot.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

L'Ombre Fauve Redux

Roland Barthes wrote: "You experience a moment of fascination in the presence of another person. I cannot classify this other, the other is, precisely, unique, the singular image which has come to correspond to the specialty of my desire." And also: "I encounter millions of bodies in my life, of these millions I may desire some hundreds, but of these hundreds I love only one. The other with whom I am in love designates for me the specialty of my desire". Replace the word "person" with "perfume", and does it not still make sense?

Right this moment Parfumerie Generale's L'Ombre Fauve designates for me the specialty of my desire. I wrote about it before, and I have always liked it, but it is only in the last couple of weeks that I came to love it. My favorite philosophy professor used to call this kind of occurrence, "knew, knew and suddenly understood!". What makes us smell perfumes differently after being familiar with them for ages, what makes them suddenly move us in the most profound way... is a mystery, and that mystery is one of the things that makes relationships with perfumes almost as fascinating as (and as difficult as) relationships with people.

L'Ombre Fauve is patchouli, amber and cedar on me, and that description is as (un)likely to do it justice as would a multi-paragraph post on all intricacies of its composition. Remember? "I cannot classify this other, the other is, precisely, unique..." Which is why, when I fall in love with perfume, I always find it hard to describe it in any sort of meaningful manner. I feel that I can't do it justice and I don't want to rob it of its magic, of its "specialty" by taking it apart. L'Ombre Fauve is dark, intense, sensual, it is a demanding perfume that scares and excites me. "I am engulfed, I succumb ..."

One (literally) 100ml bottle of L'Ombre Fauve might still be available at The Perfume Shoppe, please write to Naz to find out.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jean Desprez - Bal A Versailles

By Beth

Once upon a time, long ago I fell madly in love (or so I thought) with a man who was by all rights completely inappropriate for me. We had nothing at all in common with the exception of the maddening chemistry that lay between us. I was obsessed with him, I laid myself bare for him in a way that I would never do again for anyone. Poetry poured out of me, journal after journal of exquisitely lovesick writing, filled with the dreaming of what I thought our passion was. We listened to old standards together and the words tore my heart to shreds, at times they still do. The senses seemed made for us, the nighttime beckoned pulling emotions out of me that I had never experienced before. I had ritual after ritual for being with him; it was an unbelievably creative yet extraordinarily painful time in my life. This man and I could never really be together, our lives were completely different. But the excitement of that was the aphrodisiac that kept me coming back for more, kept me laying myself open even wider for the hurt that was to follow. Those moments were magical, yet searing, like a hot knife edge to an open wound. I tore those wounds open time and time again trying to understand why I had chosen such an unlikely candidate for the happiness that I craved. It took me years before I finally realized that he was me.

The fragrance of that affair was Bal a Versailles by Jean Desprez. I loved it, it seemed to express all of that unspoken yearning, unsuitable passion that I was feeling at the time. It is a bewitching perfume ,very very manipulative. Bal a Versaille is a perfume suited for the deep dark places… it is rich and seductive, yet supremely naughty . It was created in only 1962, but it feels so much older. I love its elegance, its opulence; it makes me think of a grand masked ball every time I wear it, an image that I always find interesting when I think of the man who I wore it for. You see, I never really knew him at all. He left me in an instant with my images and fantasies of him, in a moment lifting the mask so that I could see that who I thought he was, wasn’t him at all. It was all of it my own treachery and a dream of my own creation. I was creating the darkest sort of magic, weaving the spell that if you are very lucky will rebound on you without killing you, leaving in its wake the wisdom to never go there again.

It took years before I was able to wear Bal a Versaille’s again. That period of my life literally brought me to my knees and I am grateful to have survived it.

I woke up one morning realizing that I was still alive, that there were plenty of words still to be written, and much more love to be expressed. I also knew that if I was ever to be whole again, I needed to touch the flame of that old passion and reignite it without giving into the anguish that I had experienced for so many years and of course Bal a Versailles needed to be a part of that reemergence. What I discovered when I reopened the bottle was a riot of sensuality, symphonies of roses and jasmine, amber, wood and spice….visions of large jungle cats mating , velvet on nakedness and a deep wet kiss in all of the right dark places , the scent of heaving cleavage!

Bal a Versaille’s is the most devastatingly sexy scent that I have ever worn, but now instead of throwing me to the fates , we love to dance together. I have finally learned the steps to her tango. You see, for me the true lesson of such an ill fated and unrequited love was not of what’s been lost. What I discovered very clearly in that moment, was that everything that I had experienced, everything that I had felt that he had brought to me, was really what I was capable of bringing to myself, my truest being. I had conjured him to bring me back to me, the actual man was in reality nothing like the vision. I have found Bal a Versaille’s to be my most private, sensual self, my “holy grail” of perfumes. I think that I have said here before that I love who I become now when I wear it, how its blends with my soul. I am grateful for second chances.

I hope that you will try the parfum strength, it is wonderfully, sexy, gorgeous and lush.

Bal a Versailles is fairly easy to find on the internet, but I’ve not seen it in any stores for years.

Monday, March 10, 2008

From the Mouths of Husbands: Male Marketing 101

By Mr Colombina

In reviewing previous guest posts, it occurs to me that I am quick to slag off the perfume industry for its absurd marketing and advertising endeavours, yet I have been slow to offer any alternative suggestions. Shame on me.

Part of the problem is of course that the perfume ‘industry’ (and in particular, the men’s fragrance ‘industry’) is an industry … full of out-sourced factories and underpaid labourers…toiling away (lets give the benefit of the doubt as to the live-ability of the going wage). Yet the ‘industry’ … like any creative industry, is more engrossed in its artistic erudite self-image than in the acknowledgement that there are things like competition, economics, and a broader market to reach than just those who buy into the whole frou-frou world … people like me … in short …. Joe-Average males.

Half the world’s population (men) are somewhat excluded from their demographic. And even though the French will never be confused with the Germans for example, when it comes to doing BUSINESS … they (the French) can’t be THAT helpless. After all, they did manage some pretty slick business deals with Iraq despite UN sanctions before the US marched in and ruined it all. But this is not a political blog so I will end the point there.

Now seeing myself as a doer and not just a talker … OK, so nobody else sees me that way but … If I were king of the (men’s fragrance) world, here is how I would go about restoring some sanity to the industry and help it reach a wider market.

Firstly …there is packaging. You want men to buy the stuff, you gotta offer larger quantities. We don’t like buying stuff by the ounce … at least not those of us who don’t buy drugs. We like buying stuff by the gallon … gas, milk etc. You need to have econo-size bottles at Sam’s club.

Alternatively, perhaps offer perfume in a six-pack kind of packaging. … with names like Chanel Light, or Guerlain Extra Dry.

"Chanel …smells great …less filling!”

And have prizes in the packages … men have liked prizes in the packages since the days we used to rot our teeth on kids cereal. In fact sometimes I think the one of the best things about having a child is that I can always have a box of Cap N’ Crunch in the house (for me) without raising suspicions.

Maybe have “buy-one, get-one” sales … grand prize drawings … and other cross-promotional things.

You want men to buy cologne? Shape a bottle like the Lombardi Trophy or the Stanley Cup and now you’re on to something! And while you’re at it … sponsor a car in NASCAR!


I can’t speak for the rest of the world …but if you package and market ANY old caca in the USA, you can sell it. This is the land of the Chia Pet, the Swiffer, the Ginsu Knife, the mood ring, the pet rock, the HOME SHOPPING NETWORK. This is the gadget driven Mecca of Ron Popeil and the Pocket Fisherman!

If you ask me, ALL Americans are addicted to LSD. No not, lysergic acid diethylamide. Nor do I mean Low Sodium Diets. I mean Labor Saving Devices. You want to appeal to a mass market in the US? You need self-spraying bottles … automatic time-release atomizers, and somehow you’ve got to use something “space aged” like Titanium … men love titanium …anything made with It … from golf clubs to auto parts.

Don’t show us European looking dudes in their European suits walking across tables through clouds towards some Nastassja-Kinski-looking femme fatale. Show us break-proof bottle. Show us the results of ‘Pepsi-Challenge’ like comparisons where perfume A was preferred 9 out of 10 times. Tell us it is recommended by dentists whose patients use cologne. Tell us operators are standing by. Give us rebates and frequent buyer cards!

Show us dorky accountant dudes using the stuff and then getting propositioned by super models. You could use someone like David Copperfield in the ads for example, or maybe Seal. We buy into that thinking… “Use this …get beautiful women” … and yes … we ARE that dumb!

You want to reach a broader market of American men? This is how you do it!

Oh wait … what’s that you say … You DON’T want to reach a broader market? Hmmm … hadn’t considered that. Huh … go figure.

The winner of the sample prize draw JOAN. Please email me your address, and the samples will be on their way to you. Thank you, everybody, for participating.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Another Random Friday: a Poll and a Prize Draw

So for some reasons Fridays are not review-friendly. It's all about randomness again, but personally I enjoy a bit of a general, not perfume-related talk once in a while. So how about a short poll?

1. Perfumes you are enjoying the most these days?

2. Read anything good lately?

3. Three favorite songs at the moment?

4. Favorite sandwich/sub/hoagie/panini?

5. Favorite TV show?

6. Last good movie you saw?

1. Lipstick Rose and Le Pot Aux Roses
2. Nope, am in a book rut. Am suffering through Dior's autobiography. It turns out, Dior was a genius couturier but not the most exciting writer
3. Patricia Kaas Il Me Dit Que Je Suis Belle, Anne Lennox Thousand Beautiful Things, S. Pieha and G. Lepps Ona Ne Tvoya
4. "Spicy Italian"
5. The Millionaire Matchmaker. That's right, I watch that.
6. I thought that casting of Kevin Smith as Warlock in Live Free or Die Hard was genius)

And now for the sample prize draw. If you would like to receive several Stephanie de Saint-Aignan samples (Amande Honorable, Berberiades, Berberiades Extreme, Blanc d'Hiver, L'Eau Nirique, Li Altarelli), please say so in your comment. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Perfume Review: Le Labo Vanille 44

Review by Tom

Le Labo kind of annoys me. They annoy me by the whole "mixed fresh" bit and the printed expiration date- what does it become napalm after a year? They annoy me by having perfumes that for no fathomable reason except to thwart me, me, Norma Desmond are only available in cities I do not go to. I can have live Maine lobsters, mussels and clams FedExed to me, but Aldehyde 44 (which presumably wouldn't have any danger of botulism) remains firmly only at Barneys in Dallas. Grrrr. I'm not the only one- my friend Sue nearly came to blows with an employee who wouldn't let her have her purchase without a name to put on the bottle. They annoy me by not opening a G-D store in Los Angeles and coming up with something spectacular for us here.

What annoys me most is that the juice is usually really, really that good.

Vanille 44 is good.

There's a definite hint of mint in the opening, along with very subdued bergamot and mandarin as well as some of that fizzy happiness that opens their Aldehyde 44. It develops into a wonderful wood with just a hint of vanilla. The vanilla is there, a very becoming one at that. It's not as strong as the boozy bakery that is Spiritueuse Double Vanille, but it's there and it's lovely- peeping in and out in that weird SFX "what am I smelling that's so great.. oh it's me!" way that some scents pull off. I could easily become enamored of this one, except for the fact that it's sold only at Colette in Paris and costs a whopping $500 for 100MLs.

It's good, it's just not that good.. Like Patty, I will stick to Patchouli 24, my all-time (available and reasonable) favorite of the line.

Image source,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Perfume Review: Stephanie de Saint-Aignan Le Pot Aux Roses

As far as I am concerned, there can't be too many faux/stylized vintage rose scents reminiscent of 1950s powders and lipsticks. In fact, there aren't enough of those. Therefore Le Pot Aux Roses by Stephanie Saint-Aignan has become a welcome addition of my retro-chic rose collection (which up until now included all of two scents).

Le Pot Aux Roses is softer, fresher and "younger" in feel than my other two favorites in the genre, Lipstick Rose and Drole de Rose. The scent starts with a subtle but very juicy green note, and this fresh undertone lingers throughout the development, "lifting" the sweet and powdery florals, making them appear touchingly fragile, not quite fully ripened. Whereas Lipsick Rose and Drole de Rose are very violet-heavy on me, in Le Pot Aux Roses, it is iris that plays the most prominent supporting role. It must be because of the presence of iris that the Saint-Aignan's creation makes me think, rather surprisingly, of Dior's Bois d'Argent. Imagine the latter even softer, even fluffier, with an addition of a delicate rose note, and most unambiguously feminine, and you have Le Pot Aux Roses. This is one of the most charming compositions I have come upon in a long while. If I were 19 again and getting married again, this is what I would have worn on my wedding day. I am not and I am not, but the giddy spring is in the air, and Le Pot Aux Roses is hitting just the right spot these days.

Le Pot Aux Roses is available at and is expected at luckyscent in the near future.

The image is by Juan Gotti.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

White Floral Queen, Part One – Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

By Donna

I have decided to do a little series on white florals – or rather White Florals, the big ones, the sexy ones, as distinguished from the more demure scents that technically contain white flowers but do not pack the punch of the Big White Florals. I am talking about gardenia, tuberose, and jasmine perfumes of course; over the top, sensual, and voted most likely to misbehave. I adore these perfumes, and although it is sometimes hard to fit them into my everyday life – they do not go over very well at the office – I must have them around me to enjoy at home, and to wear when the occasion calls for a perfume that will never be mistaken for “unisex.”

I call myself the White Floral Queen not only because I love them – they love me too. Something about my skin chemistry bonds strongly with this style of fragrance like a Vulcan mind meld, and the longer I wear one of these the better it gets. When I wear them I can pretend that I am some kind of gorgeous, irresistible femme fatale, which has nothing to do with my public persona. I know that there are people out there who don’t like and/or can’t wear these big perfumes – I can only offer my condolences. There is just something about these heady scents that makes me happy, and I would merrily over-apply them daily if I had the kind of life that allowed for such indulgences. Alas, off to work I must go each day to the land of cubicles and professional attire, with nary a bias-cut satin gown, slinky opera glove or crystal champagne flute in sight. Little do my colleagues know that my inner Ava Gardner is never too far below the surface.

My first subject is a new love, although one I had heard about at great length before I tried it. Quite some time ago I won a small sample in a prize draw, along with another Malle release, the ethereally haunting En Passant. I fell hard for with both of them immediately. I doled out the sample sparingly, not knowing when I would ever have more, as it is quite expensive. Recently a very generous perfume friend gave me larger decant in a swap, which I have been wearing regularly. Being able to wear it and live with it has made me appreciate this scent even more than I did the first time. I can easily see a full bottle of this beauty in my future.

This is a most deceptive perfume – it starts out cold and green and stemmy, and it smells exactly like the refrigerated case at the florist when you open it to get one of those pre-made bouquets out, right down to the eucalyptus, a touch of the perfumer’s genius. I was expecting this effect from having read numerous reviews of it, but no written description prepared me for what happened after about fifteen minutes. When this perfume begins to open up, it is the most astonishingly lovely tuberose imaginable. Lush and bright and sweet, it smells like the breath of the living flowers, and not chilled either; the florist’s cold storage is gone and replaced by a warm, damp jungle where this tuberose grows in wild abandon, mingling with other tropical flowers such as jasmine and ylang-ylang. Once it has fully developed on the skin, it retains this lush, full character for hours on end. On me, it just blooms with more radiance each passing hour, revealing the orange blossom accord and the subtle note of coconut. My skin – and my nose - just can’t get enough of it. This is one of those perfumes that must interact with the skin to be understood – if all you do is sniff it from the bottle, you will never know how the chilly greenness transforms itself into an elixir worthy of a Goddess.

Carnal Flower has been compared to the great classic tuberose Fracas by Robert Piguet – dare I say I like it even better? It is less of a hothouse flower, if you will; I love Fracas too, but that one is more of a sophisticated diva, and does not have the fresh, lovely immediacy of Carnal Flower.

The notes are as follows according to Top notes: Bergamot, Melon, Eucalyptus. Middle (Heart) notes: Ylang-ylang, Salicylates, Jasmine. Base notes: Tuberose absolute, Orange blossom absolute, Coconut, Musks.

This fragrance is an Eau De Parfum introduced in 2005 and created by Dominique Ropion for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum. It is available in the U.S.A exclusively at the Barneys New York stores and by mail order, in various high-end stores in Europe and the Middle East, and in Paris at the Frederic Malle Paris boutiques. A 100 ml bottle is $275, and now it also comes in a body crème for $190. I understand that the crème has an extremely high concentration of perfume and is of the finest quality, so when I do actually become Queen of something, somewhere, I will be ordering it by the case.

Image credits: Carnal Flower bottle from Ava Gardner photo from, a site devoted entirely to the appreciation of these alluring feminine accessories.

Monday, March 03, 2008

In Which I Infiltrate Chanel

On Saturday, I attended the "Perfume Master Class" organized by Chanel and Sniffapalooza. The event took place in a newly built Chanel Education Studio, in their HQs on 57th St in New York. I can't say that I expected some breathtaking revelations about Chanel ingredients, scents and the give-away of top-secret inside information. Really, all I wanted was to see what it's like inside the Chanel offices. The Education Studio, apparently shaped as a No. 5 perfume box, did not disappoint: it was all white-edged-in-black, minimalist, elegant and cold (literally and figuratively).

The "Master Class" itself was a two-hour talk on Chanel star fragrances and Les Exclusifs. I can't say I learned anything new, the information was pretty basic. But neither did I expect to, the presentation was lovely and sniffing absolutes is always fun.

What I learned:

- Eau Premiere is expected to finally really launch in the 2nd half of 2008
- The citrus-heavy Eau de Toilette is my preferred concentration of No. 5
- Birch tar smells beyond yummy, like very oily smoked fish
- Prior to No 5 ALL perfumes were "single note". They really said that. I am sure Guerlain would be a little surprised to learn that their Jicky is just a humble soliflore.

And, um, that's it really.

I did get to smell and wear the new Les Exclusif, Sycomore, the "free of frills" blend of vetiver, woods and spices. It is...nice. Smoky vetiver, done the way I like, with a bit of darkness lurking underneath the pungent greenness. But it doesn't seem to me to say anything new in the vetiver genre. In fact, I prefer another recent vetiver release, Lubin Le Vetiver, which is smokier and has more depth and details. Still, vetiver connoisseurs should make an effort to sample Chanel's rendition of the note.

So would did you do this weekend?