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Friday, May 30, 2008

Perfume Review: Micallef Note Vanillee

Note Vanillee had to struggle against all sorts of odds to even be tested by the jaded little me. I don't like vanilla and I have been previously underwhelmed by Micallef's creations. But test it I did, and - you guessed it - loved it!

Typically vanilla scents smell of mum's cooking, chidlhood memories, of cuddles and smiles and all things nice. Note Vanillee is not that innocent. In fact, she is a dirty little thing and doesn't feel sorry about it. What it smells smells like Etat Libre d'Orange Jasmin et Cigarette with a generous dose of vanilla, rum and cognac added it to to make the brooding juice a lot more fun. Indolic flowers, cigarettes, booze and sweets... does it get any better? I adore the smoky, cheap-tobaccoey undertone Note Vanillee has on my skin. It smells like the morning after a very enjoyable night, the kind of night the memories of which make one blush and smile ear to ear as one struggles to get through the serious and mundane obligations of one's day...

A very naughty vanilla for those who don't do vanilla. Available at First in Fragrance and soon Luckyscent.

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Thursday, May 29, 2008


By Tom

The post office strikes again...

I would like to be writing about the new Annick Goutal musk scent for this week. I would like to be writing that it's just wonderful and a full bottle is a must. Or that it ain't all that and a bag of Doritos (well, I wouldn't like writing that but were it the case, Tonstant Weader, I would do so) and you can safely strike it from your list of things that you need that nice Ms. Tio to ship to you. I would like to do this but I can't, since the large decant I got from the Perfumed Court has been sitting somewhere in the bowels of the Beverly Hills Post Office, a mere two blocks away on Maple Drive since the 16th of May. I might add that numerous calls to the 800 number (since the BH branch clearly considers itself like clubs like Hyde or whatever restaurant Ashton is invested in this week and does not answer anything as plebeian as a phone call- grrrrr) have made no dent in the resolve of the local office to keep me from my AG. So in order to keep my blood pressure somewhat below my vaunted if ill-served zip code, it was a visit to the back of the cupboard to see what hasn't been played with lately.

The result was a perfect scent for the long Memorial Day weekend, which had arrived with cold weather and showers; something that in Los Angeles would be like Paris Hilton opening a big summer movie version of "Steel Magnolias" In the Shirley MacLaine part. And stealing the movie.

After all that, if you're still conscious, you might be wondering what I grabbed? Perfumerie Generale Aomassai. One that I haven't been wearing lately and I don't know why. The caramel-comfort of it all is wonderful in the damp chill, with just enough wood and citrus to make it more-than-foody. If Colombina had done nothing for me than introduce me to this, I would still owe her a debt of gratitude

I also ran across some samples I cadged from ScentBar by Stephanie de Saint-Aignan, one of their new lines.

Tobacco Mucho lists citrus, guiac and leather, but after it's initial lemony opening I get an Eau de Fier-like smokiness with tar and a clubby leather; it's not over-the-top mind you, and fairly unisex. For those of you who mourn the Annick Goutal, you might want to send away for a sample of this. Well, actually if you are a leather and smoke completist, this may be for you as well, it's light enough to wear anywhere.

Un The au Sahara is written of as green tea and mint. I do get mint, but not a bit of tea. I do get some of that wonderfully woody, boozy amber that I find in Ambre Russe, but not in the intensity of the Parfum d'Empire fragrance. Which frankly for most people might be a good thing: I love AR, but I'd be afraid to wear it through a sobriety checkpoint. The spicy, dry patch that grounds the scent is quite lovely as well.

Le Pot au Roses was the only real "meh" of the three I sampled. They say roses and rice powder, I got sweet face powder and violets. Tennis anyone?

These three as well as the rest of the line (all 11 0f them) are available at Luckyscent, $135 for 50 ml.

Is it possible for postal customers to go postal?


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Perfume Review: Guerlain Quand Vient La Pluie...

...the fragrance that resurrected my interest in Guerlain, brought upon my love for Apres L'Ondee and is overall one of the most delightful recent discoveries of mine. I will be forever grateful to a fellow perfume lover who introduced me to it. It smelled so charming on her, a delicate sillage that is always there and never overwhelming, a wonderfully feminine, transluscent veil of a scent.

Created in 2007 by Thierry Wasser, who, as we all know by now, has since become the new Guerlain in-house perfumer, Quand Vient La Pluie combines, like Iris Ganache, another Wasser's creation for Guerlain, ingredients that seemingly shouldn't go together but do: gentle, ethereal flowers and gourmand notes. In Quand Vient, the fragile, spring-like accord of heliotrope, violet and jasmine is paired with a praline-patchouli mix that has a deliciously gingerbread-like undertone. The effect is... Apres L'Ondee meets Une Crime Exotique. The edible notes breathe life into the melancholic beauty of the flowers, and the latter turn the sweet base into a very sophisticated skin scent. When a scent is as delicious as this, I usually feel that I am ready to bite my wrist. In the case of Quand Vient La Pluie, I am not sure whether to bite it or to reverently kiss it.

Yes, it is expensive, and yes, the bottles are inexplicable. But wearing it makes me happy, and that is perhaps the highest praise one can bestow upon a perfume.


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

White Floral Queen Part Seven: Robert Piguet Fracas

By Donna

Well, it will come as no surprise to white floral aficionados everywhere that Fracas is on my list. It’s the one everyone knows and either loves or dislikes. It’s not a take it leave it perfume; it engenders strong opinions in those who have experienced it. Those who think they know me well may be a little taken aback by how much I love it. Why is that? This is THE ultimate diva/femme fatale fragrance; it’s the scent of the woman everyone, including me, secretly wants to be. It steals scenes and upends the status quo. It leaves its victims (i.e. men) wondering just what happened to their judgment and good sense. It is the perfume for women who know exactly what they want and helps them to get it, and scruples be damned. In short, it is for the woman I am only in my fondest daydreams. When I wear it, I get to be her for just a little while – the one who causes all the commotion and whose heart is never broken by the one who got away – because she herself is the cause of the heartbreak, the longed-for focus of another’s desire. Who would not want to walk in her stilettos, however briefly?

The aptly named Fracas was released in 1948 by the Parisian house of couturier Robert Piguet, who catered to a very exclusive clientele. (The perfumer who created it was Germaine Cellier, who did the great and fierce Bandit for the house several years earlier, and who would go on to compose one of my other all-time favorites, Balmain’s Jolie Madame, in 1953.) According to, Fracas was the harbinger of a fragrance sub-family called floral-orange tuberose, which now includes such popular scents as the original Chloe eponymous fragrance, Kenzo by Kenzo, Jardins de Bagatelle and Mahora by Guerlain, Amarige by Givenchy, Gardénia Passion by Annick Goutal and even the ethereal La Chasse au Papillons by L’Artisan, and believe it or not, Poison by Dior. Fracas was the mother of them all, and it has not only stood the test of time, but currently enjoys great popularity that has never waned. It has been somewhat reformulated since its original inception, having been “relaunched” in 1996, but unlike some others, it has not lost its essential character. I have tried both versions and I am equally happy with each.

Why does this perfume persist when so many others of its vintage have fallen into obscurity? It is lush, exotic, sexy and over-the-top. It makes no apologies for what it is - an unabashed celebration of femininity. Overdose amounts of tuberose and orange blossom are underlaid by heavily indolic jasmine, with a leavening and unexpected counterpoint of cooler jonquil and lily-of-the-valley. This perfume means business, and that business is seduction. There is nothing coy or bashful about it. At the time of its creation, most perfumes created for women were quite strong; there was no market research driven by the youthful consumers of today who buy transparent and faceless “clean”, “fresh” and “aquatic” scents on a massive scale. Perfume was made for grownups back then. Celebrities (or anyone else, for that matter) did not go out in public wearing baseball caps, torn t-shirts and baggy sweat pants. Adults dressed the part, and that included adult-strength perfume. Some were of a more buttoned-down and formal style, while others were made in the manner of Fracas – womanly and profoundly complicated.

Upon first contact with the nose, Fracas is languid and sweet. Opening with a burst of bergamot and a candied note of mandarin orange, as it develops on skin it gathers strength - look up “heady” in the dictionary and there is its picture. Somewhere from its depths come violet, iris and vetiver notes that just add to the impact; way down at the bottom lurk sandalwood and oakmoss. A spicy fillip of carnation gives the mix an additional kick and there is even some peach to make it even sweeter and creamier. The centerpiece of this perfume is the tuberose, however. It is a big, blowsy and flagrant accord that takes no prisoners. For a scent that is not technically a tuberose soliflore, it has more of it than most, and it’s spectacular. The dreamily tropical tuberose flower is not capable of playing second fiddle to anything else anyway, and here it has been given free rein to weave its intoxicating spell. Its modern descendants such as Frederic Malle’s Carnal Flower and Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle can trace their style right back to the source of their inspiration – without Fracas they very likely would not have been possible.

The first time I ever tried Fracas, I was really too young to wear it with any sort of confidence. It was just so overwhelming to me back then; I could not imagine what would be an appropriate occasion for wearing it. Much later I did buy it – a big bottle – and I still wear this fragrance today, but I am really careful about where and when I deploy this intensely sensuous and penetrating perfume that some people are actually afraid to wear. It radiates both sweetness and danger, and it should not be worn by the timid among us. I was quite shy and somewhat of a tomboy when I was younger, so a perfume like this was out of the question. Tuberose and flannel do not go together at all. Now that I have attained a certain age and I know who I am, I have no fear of wearing Fracas. As I no longer hide behind unisex clothing and tennis shoes, a uniform that said, “don’t notice me,” neither do I have any qualms about embracing my “girly” side these days. (Female empowerment does not mean having to dress and act like a man.) Since I work in an environment where wearing Fracas for daytime would not be appropriate, I save it for special evenings and for when I am at home, at which time I am apt to spritz it on myself in alarming quantities, and even spray my sheets and pillows with it at bedtime to encourage sweet dreams. (I do this with Jean Patou’s Joy too, and it really seems to work!)

The lasting power of Fracas is not only a matter of its popularity – it also applies to its longevity on the skin. If you put it on one day, you will still have it on the next – perhaps even after a shower it will still be apparent. For most people the Eau de Toilette will be plenty strong. If you really want to knock ‘em dead, there is Eau de Parfum or concentrated Parfum, and if you dare, a rich and redolent solid Parfum. And if you want your fragrance to come in all sorts of accessory forms, you are really in luck with Fracas; from body lotion and creams to candles to bath sets to dusting powder and boxed gift sets, you can get it any way you like it, a testament to its unwavering iconic status. (Check out the selection at the online boutique Luscious Cargo for an idea of what’s out there - It is also available in major department stores and many other online stores.)

Image credits: Fracas bottle from Photo of actress Gong Li as the scenery-shredding evil Empress in the film Curse Of The Golden Flower, from

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Back on Tuesday

Happy Memorial Day to the US readers, and and I hope everybody had a great weekend. We will be back on Tuesday with a review of something "lush, exotic, sexy and over-the-top".

Friday, May 23, 2008

Perfume Review: Laura Biagiotti Sotto Voce

Remember the beginning of Meet Joe Black, when a voice is saying, yes, yes, as if answering William Parrish's unasked question? I have been hearing a voice like that too, only sometimes it whispers, yes, and sometimes, no. My question is probably different from Mr. Parrish's. I want to know if it is true what they say, that you can never go home again. Because it wouldn't be the same home, the same you. Because life should be a forward movement, not retrograde. But what if you are ready to make peace with the changes? And might it not be so that sometimes going back is actually a progress?

How any of that soul-searching relates to perfume, you might justifiably ask. Well, I have been re-visiting a lot of old favorites that I never believed I would be able to love again. The last bastion standing was Sotto Voce, Laura Biagiotti's 1996 gem, now inexcusably discontinued. I used to wear it during most difficult years of my life so far, and it has become associated with so many different kinds of heartbreak that I did not dare to smell it for almost a decade. I remembered it as powdery and soft, an intimate whisper of a fragrance. Apparently it used to smell really good on me, because someone once wrote me a short poem inspired by it (the only love poem I ever got). This year I felt I was ready to meet Sotto Voce and see if it would be bearable for us to be together again.

It never ceases to amaze me just how powerful our olfactory memories are. The first sniff of Sotto Voce in about ten years felt as if "someone hit me in the gut, taking my breath away for a moment". But the flood of associations, which swept over me when I smelled the softly spicy floral top notes of the perfume, passed, miraculously not carrying me away to a tragic end, like some sort of emotional tsunami, and I was...home. The creamy heart of tuberose, ylang ylang and slightly bitter heliotrope was as charmingly warm and downy-soft as I remembered. As before, sandalwood and vanilla were blended with delicate flowers to create an effect that was not quite woody and not quite floral, making Sotto Voce a scent escaping definitions and categorizations...a scent elusive and always, quietly, present, a soft aura of warmth, a tender and sensual skin scent...It was incredibly comforting to wear it again, like coming back to loving arms after long and unnecessary separation.

However, parallels between perfume and life can only be drawn so far. You can come back to a perfume. Can you go home again?

Sotto Voce is sometimes available on eBay, for rather ridiculous sums of money.

The image is by Blaise Reutersward.

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Stink, Stank, Stunk

By Tom

Okay, my friend Marietta insisted that I worked that phrase in somewhere into a review. I can't think of a scent that it works better with than with Hermes' Eau d'Hermes, in the best way possible. March reviewed this a few months ago and when I had the chance to try it I of course had to. Its initial blast is very clean, and that lasts about three seconds before the cumin hits. Right between the eyes it hits. March writes that if you don't like cumin you won't like this one. More like if you don't like cumin you will curse the day you ever met this stuff. I love cumin, so I was pretty happy with that drrrty opening.

Sadly, that initial come-hither opening after an hour or so fades from Vin Diesel to Vindaloo; it smells on me like something from Taste of India. While I love that smell in take-out, I am not sure that I need to personally radiate it. Oddly, the final drydown is fairly dapper, a complete 180 from it's over-the-top opening. Luca Turin curses it as having a feeling of monagrammed slippers and warns men of my age away from it. I don't think that's quite fair; the scent is briliiant and I think I need a bottle. I just won't wear it to work.

Image source,

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Perfume Review: Frederic Malle French Lover

As they said in Bull Durham, nobody on this planet ever really chooses each's all a question of quantum physics, molecular attraction and timing. Same with perfume. You go to a store for a bit of lighthearted sniffing, you try this and that, Le Labo Patchouli smells like the inside of an army boot AND like cotton candy, Avignon and Zagorsk are fantastic but you are not ready to abandon the sinful ways of the world and join a monastery just yet, everything by Lutens smells like sweet tobacco, Musc Ravageur is pure honey, Vetiver Extraordinaire is too sharply-green, Bigarade is boring, Noir Epices smells like your mother's this point you are pretty sure you will stay happily loyal to your three current favorites. Then, while they are ringing a gift you bought for somebody else, you absentmindedly pick up and spray Bois d'Orage.

And molecular attraction happens. They can say whatever they want about skin chemistry not existing. When a perfume really works on somebody's skin ...well, you just know it. You know it, your companion knows it, the sales assistant knows it... Barney's goes quiet for just a second to honor the solemnity of the moment. What it smells like on you... It smells like the morning after the night spent frolicking in the woods or the beach or the fields...somewhere NATURAL. It smells of plants that might seem green and fresh but really are dirty little things that are up to no good. It smells of wet earth, which might be one of the sexiest scents ever...on you, anyway. There is a striking, brooding note there (perhaps incense) that is very you, there is no other way to describe it. And there is an unexpectedly sweet accord softening the sharp angles of the composition that is also You, a happy you, a relaxed you, perhaps you in love. It smells rustic but also tres sophisticated... a fragrance of a very urban person spending a romantic weekend in the country. (And here is some more in defense of skin chemistry theory: on your companion, the fragrance smells of...watermelons and cedar, in fact bizarrely similar to Hermes's new Un Jardin Apres La Mousson.)

When you learn that it so happens - talk about timing - that it is actually possible to have the perfume with the original name, French Lover, which amuses you to no end on so many levels, you are completely sold. New perfume love is born.

Bois d'Orage is available at Barneys, $190.00 for 100ml. If you too prefer it under the name French Lover (and I do think that the two smell a little different, Bois d'Orage has a sharper, more resinous top accord, and French Lover has a subtle tobacco-like undertone), Gustavo, the Editions de Parfums counter manager, might be able to help you.

Image source,

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Perfume Review: Dior Addict

The rule of thumb in colombina-world is, the sweeter a Dior scent, the less likely I am to be able to tolerate it. The rule does not necessarily apply to all brands. Some of the sweetest Chanels, Coromandel, Coco and Coco Mademoiselle, are on my Top 25-30 list. I don't have a very sweet tooth in perfume (and in food, I don't have it at all), but I have been known to enjoy such sweet monsters as Flowerbomb (especially Extreme), Trouble and Angel Rose. But there is something about Dior's most sugared creations, Addict and Midnight Poison, that, whenever I attempt to wear them, makes me want to crawl out of my skin and run away shrieking in horror. Maybe it is the root-beer-like accord that the two seem to share (although in Midnight Poison it is much more pronounced), and I loathe root beer with passion.

At this point you can pretty much guess that this is not going to be a glowing review. Having said that, I don't think there is anything wrong with the scent as such. It is just like the copy promises, "Sensual. Soft. Feminine". It is sweet, but not teenybopper-sweet. In fact, with its pronounced floral accord and the rich base of sandalwood and tonka bean, Addict is fairly sophisticated. It is also fairly boring. The suggestive ad is as far removed from my vision of this unexciting fragrance as can be. Addict, to me, is not Liberty Ross with a nipple almost showing. It is Andy McDowell in a navy column dress. No disrespect to the beautiful Andy McDowell, but man does she bore me to tears. As do navy column dresses.

Dior Addict is available at Sephora, $65.00-$85.00.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Ebba: By Sand, Miss Marisa and Miss Marisa Tropical

By Linda

Every once in a while I encounter a scent that I find sufficiently arresting that it brings everything to a halt, calming me like a good cup of tea. The day slows around me and I relax.

By Sand is one of those scents for me, which is shocking, because it is everything I normally do not care for in a scent. It is sweetly girlish. It is fairly linear, after the wild few seconds of the top notes settling into the long afternoon of its heart. It is initially citrusy, which usually—but not here—translates to “30 seconds until Linda has a headache and smells of armpit.” And it has ripe, decadent fruit, tons of fruit to my nose. It has become one of my favorite early-summer scents.

When first sprayed, By Sand bursts with an almost perverse riot of Kaffir lime, apricot, jasmine, and ginger. I think I smell a very subtle vetiver, but it is gone before I can grasp it, perhaps a fleeting, olfactory hologram of vetiver created by the zesty freshness of the lime and the languid warmth of ginger tea. The jasmine morphs into a sort of candied gardenia as vanilla emerges to warm the scent further. While it is indubitably a fresh scent, indubitably fruity, it is remarkably easygoing and comforting: a cup of warm ginger tea and a plate of apricot scones in a sunny window seat.

Because I was excited to try other offerings from Ebba, more or less at random, I tried Miss Marisa and – out of complete perversity – Miss Marisa Tropical. There is a certain Ebba aesthetic all three of these scents conform to, as if they had been built out of dissimilar materials to form a similar picture – all are creamy, sweet, and conjure up open spaces and greenery in my mind.

Miss Marisa is a remarkable scent, which I think I would give to my young teenage or tween-age daughter, if I had one, as a first perfume. It is at once sophisticated, energetic, and young, without being too seductive or piercing. The heart of the scent is a sweet waterlily and blackcurrant mixture, tart and intriguing. A remarkably fresh mint weaves around the edges of the fragrance. One pictures an excursion to pick fruit at the water’s edge, one’s feet in cool mint and with delicate spring petals falling.

Miss Marisa Tropical is exactly as one would assume it would be: Miss Marisa minus the brilliant mint scent, with ginger to replace the minty piquancy and a heavy freight of fruit, including peach, mango, coconut, pineapple. For the first ten minutes it is on my skin, I find it intolerably fruit-cocktail-like. (Someone stick a tiny umbrella and straw in me, and … well, you get the idea.) But to my surprise, it mellows into an interesting mélange warmed by ginger. The rabid pineapple-coconut scent mellows and it assumes a fruity, creamy aroma that is very pleasant.

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Friday, May 16, 2008

Etat Libre d'Orange Tom of Finland

By Tom

Etat Libre is an niche house with scents that range from raw and interesting to raw and unwearable. Their latest is an eponymous one commissioned by the Tom of Finland Foundation to help mark, well whatever. In any case I was very much looking to try it, since the notes of leather, tonka, vetiver and musks seem right up my dark alley (this dramatic device, for the uninitiated is called "foreshadowing").

The opening has a wild whisper of dark booziness to it, like the ghost of a shot of Jack Daniels, neat. A metallic rubberiness quickly joins in followed by a leather smell that smells a lot like the inside of the sort of boutique that used to be on Christopher Street or Santa Monica Boulevard before gentrification made them both become the be-Starbucksed, family-friendly, anodyne-gay boulevards they are today. There's a doublemint freshness to this that cuts the vague S/M aspect until the whole thing sort of collapses into a very wearable skin scent with a slight edge of leather.

As much as I hate to disagree with Patty I am left fairly unmoved by this one. Compared to other scents with the same notes it seems, well timid. For a scent that's supposed to evoke the whole leather-dude ethos Patchouli 24, Eau de Fier, Kolnisch Juchten or even for that matter Tabac Blond does this far more definitely. Do I hate it? No, it's quite nice. If it was reasonably priced and showed up at luckyscent, I might pop for a bottle.

I know that this was commissioned by the Tom of Finland foundation and that one has to be 21 or over to buy due to the outre graphics involved, but I have to ask, for whom is this intended? Real leathermen wouldn't be caught dead wearing anti-perspirant much less than something as nelly as cologne (don't ask how I know, just trust me on this), so why this wan juice for such provocative packaging? I think the boys in the Marais are going to sniff Secretions Magnifiques and think that it should be in the bottle with the hunky guy in the chaps instead of this, which could be titled "Ghosts of MePa".

I mean I like it, but at least on me it's way more Tom's of Maine than Tom of Finland...

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Monday, May 12, 2008

We are on a break

PST is taking a short break. We will be back in business as usual on Friday. Have a great week, everybody!

White Floral Queen Part Six: Annick Goutal Gard├йnia Passion

By Donna

I have been a devoted fan of the Annick Goutal line from the very first time I tried it at my local perfume shop. To me they represented the best classic traditions carried on in modern formulations. Some are ethereally light while others pack an intense punch of depth and sensuality. My favorite among the latter category is Gardénia Passion.

The 1983 Goutal chypre-floral fragrance called Passion is a very fine perfume in its own right, a complex floral bouquet of great sophistication. (Not to be confused with “Elizabeth Taylor’s Passion,” which had to use the full three-word name after a brush with trying to use the “Passion” name, which turned out to be copyrighted by Annick Goutal, and it is an inferior scent.) I actually had a hard time choosing between the two when I decide to purchase my first bottle many years ago. The 1989 gardenia version won me over. Passion is a lovely composition based on tuberose and jasmine; Gardénia Passion “kicks it up a notch” with the addition of gardenia and orange blossom.

You might think that such a fragrance would be overwhelmingly sweet, but it’s really not. For one thing, the jasmine accord is extremely animalic and deep rather than bright, and though while it is intensely redolent of white flowers, this fragrance remains elegant and refined throughout its development, as it is comprised of very high quality ingredients, and it shows. It really is more of a tuberose scent than gardenia to my nose, but the orange blossom accord gives it a pleasantly soapy and slightly green quality that keeps the headiness (somewhat) under control. There is a subtle citrus note, and something else green and sharp hiding at the bottom of this perfume; lots of oakmoss, which I can never get enough of. This last also ensures that Gardénia Passion has unsurpassed endurance on the skin. It has a weightier base than some other white floral scents and thus is not all float and shimmer; it maintains equilibrium between the sweet flowers and the austerity of the oakmoss.

Gardénia Passion is one of those perfumes that transforms the wearer in unexpected ways. Suddenly you feel powerful, sophisticated and sexy all at the same time, and you feel ready to take on anything the world has to offer. (However, I would not suggest wearing it to work unless you own the company; otherwise the line between the boardroom and the bedroom could become a little bit blurred.) If your skin tends to amplify white floral scents, as mine does, this one could become quite strong in a closed room. Of course, that should not stop you from wearing it for any other occasion outside of the office. I wear mine to the grocery store or a night on the town with the same abandon. I find it to be equally suitable for cold or warm weather. It has enough substance to assert itself in winter, while not becoming cloying during humid summer heat. Now, bear in mind that I am speaking as one whose tolerance of this class of fragrance is very high; your results may differ.

I feel that Gardénia Passion is a true modern classic that will stand the test of time. It has been around for almost twenty years now, and it is still very popular. It seems to hit just the right note of white floral richness without being too loud or overbearing, a veritable Platonic ideal of perfumery. I plan to still be wearing it when I get old, and when I put it on I will be transformed into a Grande Dame instead of just an old lady. That is the magic of Gardénia Passion. I will go so far as to liken it to film legend Sophia Loren; undeniably sensuous and yes, passionate, yet somehow always dignified and never the least bit vulgar.

The Annick Goutal line is widely sold in better department stores such as Nordstrom, in perfume boutiques, and from online fragrance discount merchants. Gardénia Passion comes in Eau de Parfum, which can be a little hard to find, and in Eau de Toilette. The most popular Goutal scents, including Gardénia Passion, are also available in bath and body products. The body cream and shower gel in this scent are just outrageously good.

Image credits: Gardénia Passion bottle from Photo of actress Sophia Loren posing for the famous Pirelli Calendar in 2007 at age 71, from

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Winner of the Montale sample draw ... quinncreative. Please email me your address. Thank you, everybody, for playing!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day!

Image source, Ralph Lauren.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Perfume Review: Worth Courtesan and a Prize Draw

March of Perfume Posse introduced me (and most of the perfumanity) to Courtesan by Worth, and I hope she will forgive me this review. It is not negative. I think Courtesan is ...unique. And I admire originality regardless of whether I can actually wear the fragrance in question.

If you go to Worth website, it will tell you in plenty of detail what notes Courtesan is supposed to contain. But here is what it smells like to me...It smells of my childhood. More specifically, it smells of my Soviet rubber (plastic? chemist I am not) dolls. More specifically, it smells of their bellies (don't ask!). And more specifically still, it smells of their bellies after they have been handled by my chubby little fingers sticky with strawberry jam. That is the image I get every single time I put on Courtesan, and it is an image that makes me go, awww! I had a happy childhood and am always delighted to revisit it. And so thank you, Worth, and thank you, March!

Please share your strangest perfume associations! And if you would like to be in the draw for a sample of Courtesan as well as a sample of another sticky wonder, Montale Mukhallat, along with Montale Sunset Flowers, Golden Aoud and White Musk, let me know in your comment.

(I couldn't find a picture with a doll, so here is yours truly with a bear. Which, incidentally, smelled like Mitsouko.)


Thursday, May 08, 2008

Roses, roses and more roses

By Tom

This weekend was lunch with a friend who wanted to stop into Barneys to meet a jewelry designer (she writes about, and is into jewelry). Since I am into gems with approximately the same fervor as I am into, say, Football, I went over to the perfume counter to the Serges.

I looked everything over and realized that I have at least decants of practically everything in the range except the really girly ones like the fleurs, and Sa Majeste la Rose (Her Majesty the Rose), his rose fragrance from 2000.

Now, I love the scent of roses but have difficulty with rose scents. I usually find them either too fan-oneself feminine (Caron Or et Noir) for me to get away with or just plain cheap, Sa Majeste la Rose falls into the former category. The opening reminds me of the scene in "American Beauty" with Mena Suvari in a bed of impossible, technicolor red rose petals. These are roses in CinemaScope. Roses in Dolby stereo. Perhaps roses in Sensurround. As big as they are they are also lovely, and very true to Moroccan rose (my friend has some, and I checked) with touches of citrus and mint to cool and soften. As it wears, it adds a hint of cloves, woods that seem more like stems than wood and a hint of skin musk.

I think that Sa Majeste tends to get lost in the shuffle against Lutens far more mysterious (and of course harder to buy) Rose de Nuit, which Colombina calls "a little bit of a Goth and a lot of Glamour". Sa Majeste is a little more obvious, in a Joan Collins (I saw her once crossing a street in Beverly Hills on a sweltering day in her perfect Chanel suit, make-up, hair and pumps: a vision of Hollywood glamour and looking cool as a cucumber) kind of way- a good thing in my opinion.

$120 at Barneys, Aedes, Luckyscent and the rest of the usual suspects.

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Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Perfume Review: Parfums de Nicolai Eau Turquoise

The quality that fascinates me in Patricia de Nicolai scents is their creamy richness. Even the citrusy-fresh, summery fragrances like Eau d'Ete and the new Eau Turquoise have something comfortingly "solid" about them. The first breezy accords dissipate and underneath them one invariably finds the buttery, tonka-full base, "Nicolaiade".

Eau Turquoise starts with a pleasantly sharp citrus note, which I would have sworn was grapefruit, and which, looking at the least of notes, I now think must be a lime and pepper accord. The fruity sweetness of osmanthus, enhanced by the presence of apricot, prevents the citruses from being too acidic, and thus a beautiful balance of airy and milky, piquant and fruity is achieved. As the scent develops on my skin, "Nicolaide" becomes apparent. While remaining resolutely summery and beachy (and I love that the beachy feel is created without the obvious use of coconut), Eau Turquoise has a warm, "thick" base of, I believe, tonka (which, to me, is the signature note of Nicolai), cardamom and cedarwood... the base that is like a languid, sensual night to the sunlit day of the top and heart notes.

Available at Luckyscent, for the very reasonable $65.00 for 100ml.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Perfume Review: Estee Lauder Private Collection

Estee Lauder never ceases to surprise me in that in their collection there still exist (not too obviously for an average Lauder counter visitor) alongside superficial little things like Pleasures Delight such Classics as White Linen, Knowing, Estee and Private Collection.

The continued existence of the latter is especially amazing. Private Collection is not what I would call lovable and approachable. It is an austere, dry green chypre with a lot of character. It wears sharply tailored suits, carries a Kelly bag, has sharp wit and a I-am-better-than-thou attitude. And you can't help but admire it, because it is a Real Lady. I adore and collect lady-like perfumes, and Private Collection is one of the most lady-like of them all.

Its juicy, earthy green beginning is what I love about it the most. It is the smell of grass, stems and hyacinths. Dark, deep green aroma that feels so wonderful in summer (and might be just a tad too cold in winter). The heart continues the green theme by adding a touch of spice and a pine-like accord to the luscious bouquet of jasmine, narcissus and rose. The base is mossy and slightly powdery...the proper, classic base, the kind of base all lady-like perfumes should have.

The question of what fragrance get one the most compliments from the opposite gender are frequently seen on perfume forums. Believe it or not, Private Collection and its younger, floral offspring many times removed, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, are among a tiny number of perfumes that get noticed and complimented by my other half. Which goes to prove that gentlemen prefer ladies.

Available at, $45.00 for 1.7oz.

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Monday, May 05, 2008

Perfume Review: Montale Red Aoud

You probably know by now that I am a big fan of Montale's aouds. And yet I must admit that there are so many of them and the differences between them are so subtle that, well, they all smell kind of the same. Yes, I adore Aoud Roses Petals and Aoud Flowers but, were you to make me blind-smell them, I probably wouldn't have been able to tell which one is which. Red Aoud, however, has something distinctive about it ...

Namely, chocolate. That's right, somehow a strange and strangely appealing mix of aoud, cumin, saffron and orris produces a chocolate-like effect on my skin. Imagine one of those bizarre-sounding Vosges bars that blend chocolate with chili and pimento (and things almost unthinkable, like wasabi and bacon). The combination of bitter-sweet chocolate and spice is, to me, irresistible, in food and in perfume. I have a feeling that ingesting aoud is "almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later", but were it safe to consume it in tiny doses, an aoud-rose-saffron-cumin chocolate bar would have been something I'd happily pay $7.50 for.

The "chocolate" effect does not last too long. After a while, Red Aoud turns into the usual rose-heavy, resinous, dark and sensual scent that unites all Montale aouds. But the spicy-sweet beginning is unique enough for me to want to own the bottle.

Available at the usual Montale retailers, $150.00-$210.00.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Winners of Pink Manhattan Prize Draw...

...are: Dark-phoenix54, Ducks, Hopeb, Monica and Kayliana. Please email us your address using the "contact me" link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for participating.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Perfume Review: Christian Dior Fahrenheit 32

Many thanks to Luca Turin for making me open my mind up a crack, with his review of Fahrenheit 32 in Perfumes The Guide. (I do, however, disagree with Turin that Fahrenheit was changed so much as to become unrecognizable. I knew it way back when and I own a bottle of current juice, and yes, the intensity of the original is lost somewhat, but it is still the same fragrance and is still great.) I was reluctant to smell the flanker to the deeply beloved Fahrenheit, because, well, when you love something so much, you want it to stay completely unique and be one of a kind.

What I was afraid of the most is that Fahrenheit 32 would not be related to the original in any way expect for the name. And, comparing the notes, you'd see why that was my fear. First seconds of it on my skin made me think that I am indeed meeting a complete stranger, an impostor. The scent was freshly-floral, sweet and milky. I didn't know this fragrance, I didn't want to know it, I was going to wash it off and forget about its existence. Luckily, I decided to grin and bear and see how the story ends. Reader, it has a happy ending. Just when I thought that Fahrenheit 32 would have nothing but cheerful "solar" notes, it showed some character. The easy, breezy, beautiful outer layer of orange blossom was hiding a dark, leathery core of Fahrenheit, and when the citrusy, white-floral top notes dissipated, it was as if a mask was taken off revealing the familiar face. The fresh feel is maintained throughout the development of the scent, but it is not the annoying sporty freshness without depth or substance. The warmth and the woody-tarry smokiness of Fahrenheit is still there. What the creators cleverly done to turn the cold-weather Fahrenheit into a perfume for summer, is to replace the buttery, powdery violets with the airy creaminess of orange blossom, thus keeping the floral part which was what made Fahrenheit unique in the first place.

Fahrenheit 32 is Fahrenheit dressed in white, relaxing in the sun somewhere wonderful by the warm sea... And it makes me happy to imagine him like that.

Available at Sephora, $48.00-$66.00.

Image source,

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens: Five O'Clock Au Gingembre

Has the speed and amount of releases exhausted the inspiration behind this formerly Great, no, make it GREAT, line? To me, the downhill movement started with (so-called) Chypre (so-called) Rouge. Louve was shockingly uninteresting, and frankly I thought that the only way from there would be up, but no...Five O'Clock Au Gingembre does not, in my view, signify the new beginning. Rather, it is the rehashing of the same old, once exciting and unique, but by now over-done, spicy-warm-oriental themes, which, I know, are what made the Lutens line, what made it coherent and well-edited ...but would you not agree that the time has come for the house to break free of its oriental restraints and come up with something that wouldn't smell so... same-y?

When I first tried Five O'Clock at Barneys the other day, I thought that the bottle was mislabeled and that the juice was in fact Rousse. It had the same powdery spiciness, the same enveloping warmth, the same tasteful smokiness. I actually said out loud that, wow, this smells so similar to Rousse, which seemingly offended the SA, who then proceeded to lecture me on how Rousse is cinnamon and Five O'Clock is ginger. And, of course, she is right, but you know what, the spices might be different, but the feel of the composition is the same. I am not going to go into details, because, 1) I have nothing to say apart from "it smells of sweet smoky tea infused with vanilla and spices" and 2) if you smelled Mandarine Mandarin, Chypre Rouge and Rousse, you already know what Five O'Clock au Gingembre is like. And what I want for Serge Lutens Parfums is to become completely unexpected again. I want to wait for their next release (which I sincerely hope will not come any time soon) with bated breath and wonder what it would be like and fantasize and try to predict based on its very obscure description and then be completely surprised and blown away.

Five O'Clock au Gingembre is available at the usual Lutens retailers, $120.00 for 50ml.

Image source, Senteurs d'Ailleurs