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Thursday, July 31, 2008

On Vacation

Perfume-Smellin' Things will be on vacation till August 16th. I have a feeling that the only two scents I will be packing will be Michael Kors for the day and Sotto Voce for the night. What perfumes would you take with you on a holiday?

Have wonderful two weeks, everybody!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Lostmarc'h Laan-Ael, Aod, Atao and Iroaz

By Tom

For this week, cats and kiddies, I am afraid that we're going to have what amounts to reviewlets from me, since A) it's hot, B) it's month end bill-paying at home and at work and C) I'm lazy.

I was happy to get notice that Laan Ael had arrived at LuckyScent with three siblings, since I had gone through about three decants from the Perfumed Court. I was also thrilled to see the price: $75 for 100 mls. I suggest stocking up before they realise their mistake.

Laan-Ael, as you all know is written of as buckwheat, milk and honey. I get Froot Loops and milk. Normally after having typed that sentence, you would think that I would write that I scrubbed my arm with a dremel tool and iced borax, but no: it's literally the most comforting thing you could possible smell and I am in hopeless thrall to it. It does become more than just the special effect of breakfast in footie pajamas; there's something pixelated to it that isn't quite musk, but less homogenized than the milky cereal opening would lead you to believe. But
never, ever sly or winking. I can imagine that after (or during) a difficult day that a spritz of two of this would be better that an rum and atavan smoothie.

Aod apparently means "Seashore" and I can't say that it smells exactly like any seashore that I've been near. No bad thing: there's a whisper of grapefruit, a scintilla of gardenia, a bare hint of that clean sheet/sea spray accord that we've all smelled about a bazillion times. There's also the rounded smell of coconut. I wore this today while at my friends house in Pasadena while wiping her work MacBook Pro in preparation for it's return, doing laundry and feeding her cats while she's in Texas: in the wilting heat this was joyously refreshing. Just enough of each ingredient to be refreshing without being overwhelming and for once the "sea" part of it isn't amped up to 11. Did I mention that it's $75? PS: if the seashore really smells like this in Brittany, I'm moving...

Atao starts with rosemary, and lots of it. Those of you who have made something with rosemary know that it's only fault in cooking is that too much of it makes a soapy taste. The first sniff of this frankly goes there, and just when it does, the bergamot and lemon jump in to wrestle the whole thing to the ground. LuckyScent lists orange and mandarin in there, but I don't get those two distinctly, I do get a nice spicy wood. I can see this being a lovely, no-fault, no-brainer that you grab when you don't want to think about it, don't want to smell challenging or weird or perhaps have to meet with a prospective boss. Or are applying for a loan. Or are being sentenced. It reads "dependable, well-travelled, well-bred, (and on a guy) and smart enough to know that I should smell good but not in a way that's in your face". On a girl it would make that Jennifer O'Neill in jeans and a boys button-down statement- and yes, that is sexy as all get-out.

Iroaz was quite frankly the only miss for me: I understand the idea of roses at the seashore and the juxtaposition of the creamy rose and the salty marine notes but the whole seemed muddled: I am not going to cast aspersions on the quality of the ingredients, but the rose versus marine in this one seemed to me to each make the other seem, well, kind of cheap smelling. Having typed that, it's $75.00 so if it shows up in a Christmas stocking I'd happily spray the curtains with it. It's refreshing; I just like my roses more threatening than these.

So there you have it: three big hits and one near miss. I REALLY hope that both Lostmarc'h and Luckyscent are making a comfortable profit at this price point: I am so thrilled that there's something out there that is this good for under a Benjamin I could plotz!

Now where are the soaps and candles? So far, only at their website. The rest are at LuckyScent,
(for $75.00, I mentioned that, right?) including the Lann-Ael body milk and shower gel.

Image source,

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Love In the Afternoon: Demi-Jour by Houbigant

By Donna

When I was a child, I used to go into my parents’ bedroom and open up my mother’s perfume bottles. She had a pretty bottle of Bourjois Evening in Paris for special occasions, and she also liked a little-known scent called Devon Violets. She rarely wore either one, actually; back in those days perfume was considered to be a real luxury for people like us, and as a child of the Depression she had learned the hard lessons of frugality. Those bottles never seemed to get used up, and I do not remember what happened to them after we moved away from my childhood home.

Quite some years ago, I took my mother down to my local perfume boutique when she came out to visit from the East Coast. She had been there a couple of times before on her trips West, and she had even asked about whether or not Devon Violets was still on the market. (It was indeed, after a long hiatus, the company having been purchased by a new owner.) I wanted her to have something more special than a little bottle of violet cologne. I told her to try some real perfume and pick out something she liked. After testing old and new perfumes for a long time, she chose a bottle of Houbigant Demi-Jour in the Eau de Parfum strength. I jokingly threatened to borrow it from her at the time, as I thought it was beautiful. It was perfect for an older lady, yet not timid or staid, and certainly more adventurous than watery violets. That this perfume even existed was a surprise to me; I thought of the omnipresent drugstore standard Chantilly as the most popular scent from this house, and I never could abide the heavy, powdery Lutèce that hit department stores in 1984. The only Houbigant I knew of that was a true classic was the oldie-but-goodie Quelques Fleurs. It seems that the House of Houbigant has been through a number of ownership changes and revivals; Demi-Jour was the product of one of the periods of upswing for Houbigant. Even now I am not sure what its status is, as some recent listings for their scents state that Dana now makes them. That seems very unfortunate.

About six years later, my mother died after a long illness. My sisters and I were with her back in New England, and it fell to us to divide her possessions and choose keepsakes from what was a very reduced amount of possessions, since she had moved into a small apartment in a senior housing complex. One of the things we found was the bottle of Demi-Jour, carefully wrapped up at the back of a dresser drawer and barely used. It was still in excellent condition, since it was a spray bottle and had been kept in the dark. I took it as one of the few things of hers that I really wanted as a keepsake. When I got home I put it away again, and every so often I would take it out and sniff it. For some reason I never wore it, though I can’t say why, except that I felt sad that my mother had kept it the same way she had kept her other perfumes many years before – stoppered and unworn.

Recently I revisited this scent while trying to organize my collection of bottles, decants and samples. (Mine is quite modest compared to those of more serious perfume collectors, but over time I have gathered a selection that would have amazed and perhaps even dismayed my mother; after all, her own perfume wardrobe consisted of only two bottles!) I opened it and discovered that it was still good, all notes intact, and just as beautiful as the day it was purchased. I decided that I would start wearing it in honor of my mother, and in the spirit of not allowing the beautiful things we own to languish on the shelf, waiting for special occasions that never seem to arrive. Perfume, most especially, is “use it or lose it.”

Demi-Jour was introduced in 1988, and according to Perfume Mart, this is the composition:
Top Notes: Bergamot, aldehydes, greens, violet
Heart Notes: Rose, orris, lily of the valley, jasmine, ylang-ylang, heliotrope
Base Notes: Musk, moss, sandalwood, cedarwood

Yes, there is violet in this scent, which is probably part of the reason my mother chose it, but it’s all grown up and no longer innocent. The bergamot and greens make for a rather sharp opening, which softens considerably once the heart notes begin to express themselves. I don’t get a lot of aldehydes except at the very beginning. Even with jasmine and heliotrope, this fragrance never gets really sweet, restrained as it is by the green notes, orris and base notes. It is one of those florals that has a generous dose of rose yet is nowhere near being a rose scent, just rounded and gentle. Some find it to be a powdery scent, and there is a touch of that to my nose, but it is more of a dry powder if anything, and not cloying at all. (In fact, it reminds me a little of a long-discontinued Russian perfume I once smelled that was composed only of dried flowers.) It is like a bouquet in a heavily curtained, darkened boudoir that is slowly fading yet still lovely.

The “moss” in the base is oakmoss, and lots of it, which makes for a dry warmth and depth that persists for the life of the scent. The woods provide a sturdy backbone and good lasting power. A similarity to Sinan by Jean-Marc Sinan is apparent in a certain deep, soft muskiness, but that scent is far more flagrant in that quality. It is not a white or crystal musk in the modern style, but a suede-like skin musk that is very appealing. At first the musk is not really all that apparent among the floral notes, but the longer this is on the skin, the more it begins to acquire a gently animalic “body” quality, which is akin to breathing in the essence of someone on clothing that they have worn. It’s like taking an evening gown of heavy satin or an opera coat out of the closet; it might also smell of cedarwood, but if you put your face right into it and inhale, you can detect the lingering aroma of the one who wore it the last time it was taken out for a night on the town.

Overall, I would say that this as a classic floral-chypre scent, one of my favorite types of perfume. It is well constructed and nicely balanced, even considering the slight oakmoss overdose, which I happen to love. The name translates as nightfall, twilight or semidarkness; which has always been my favorite time of day. There is wistfulness about it, a tinge of regret, and also a sense of longing, of memory and nostalgia. It is certainly refined enough to wear just about anywhere, but it is also very well suited to romantic situations, for whoever gets close to the wearer is rewarded by the hidden depths revealed when smelled right next to the skin.

Demi-Jour is widely available from Internet perfume discounters. I cannot say whether or not it has been reformulated since 1998 and/or was acquired by Dana, and it is now for sale mainly as an EDT in a 7.75 oz. size (!) and the bottle is a different shape, flattened instead of round and missing the heavy texturing of the glass and the beautifully ornate cap. I can only hope that it is still the same fragrance, as it is so lovely and feminine, but it may have been changed. (At least I have not seen it show up in the drugstores next to Chantilly yet). It is probably worth looking for a vintage bottle of the EDP instead. It will probably not appeal to those who only like edgy or weird scents, as it is very traditional in style. Fortunately for me, that’s in the plus column. I will happily wear this for work or play, and it will feel right for any situation. And most of all, I will get the enjoyment from it that my mother did not allow herself to have. We only live once, and we must take even our smallest pleasures where we can find them.

Image credits: Demi-Jour bottle from Photo of a freeze-dried wedding bouquet from

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Monday, July 28, 2008

Citruses that pack a punch: Parfums Delrae Eau Illuminee and Jo Malone Grapefruit

This has been a cruel, cruel summer and not just because of the heat. It forced me to turn at night to hardcore comfort scents like Habanita, Fahrenheit, Tabac Blond, Coromandel and L'Ombre Fauve. To cope with the days, noli me tangere kinds of scents are required, cool, collected, poker-faced, the ones that would put an icy sort of armor around me. I needed very cold, very dry citruses, kick-ass citruses that would help me "walk without flinching through the burning cathedral of the summer." I found them in Delrae's Eau Illuminee and Jo Malone's Grapefruit.

Eau Illuminee was love born out of acute need for icy protection that I described above. Before this summer hit me like a ton of hot bricks, I actually found this sharp fragrance rather disagreeable. These days, I consider its blend of bergamot, basil and lavender to be my holy water. Very urbane, very sophisticated, very modern, Eau Illuminee is the most unlikely magical potion one can think of, but the fact remains that when I wear this chilly concoction, I feel protected, calm, confident and a little dangerous. I also want to note for the benefit of those who, like me, might have never given the scent enough time to develop on their skin, because they were put off by the aggressively fresh, uncompromisingly dry beginning, that the composition warms up somewhat, when the notes of tonka and vanilla appear in the base.

Jo Malone's Grapefruit is another recent addition to my fragrance wardrobe. It is brisk, dry and cold. A citrus with attitude. The latter manifests in the form of slight spiciness that compliments very well the resolutely non-sweet, punch-packing tanginess of grapefruits. The earthy vetiver in the base plants the fragrance's feet, so to say, firmly on the ground, making Grapefruit a no-nonsense ally during dramatic times. When I feel, like Kissinger, that there cannot be a crisis next week because my schedule is already full, I turn to Grapefruit.

Eau Illuminee can be found at, $135.00. Grapefruit is available at, $50.00-$95.00.

Image source,

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Chandler Burr Scent Notes Direct Link

For those having trouble finding Chandler Burr's Scent Notes online, The Times has now created a direct link. It features every Scent Notes blog column ever published, in
chronological order starting with the most recent column:

Last week's Scent Notes express Burr's bafflement with Un Jardin Après la Mousson by Hermès.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Parfumerie Generale L'eau Guerriere, Cuir d’Iris, L’oiseau de Nuit and L'Ombre Fauve

By Tom

Parfumerie Generale is one of the less heralded purveyors of Niche scents out there and I am not quite sure why; we all tend to quiver with an (minor "Rocky Horror" moment) ticipation at the arrival of a new Lutens or a Malle and a new Creed with cause skywriting and rockets red glare. PG tends to just show up with something, usually brilliant even if I can't personally see my way to wearing it.

L'eau Guerriere falls into that latter category. Luckyscent describes it as a "full-on woody, blatantly sexy" musk scent and yes, on me it will get there eventually. Sadly, the prequel to that was one that it took me a good deal of time to actually identify, but when I did, it was unmistakable: the smell of really good pot. So much so that the nice girl at ScentBar suggested that it would be best not to wear this and drive; much like Ambre Russe's overt boooziness, the "Dude, Where's My Car" aspect of it could lead to one standing on one foot and touching one's nose while pleading "Really, Officer, it's my COLOGNE!"..

Cuir d’Iris is one of the few PG scents that I could accuse of false advertising. Iris is in there but so far down in this particular parade it's the perfume equivalent of Janet Lee in "Psycho": there for the fist 20 minutes but done in by the leather and amber. Incense comes in later to mourn the iris' passing while vetiver adds a bit of a grounding buzz to the whole affair. This would have been my favorite had I not spritzed on:

L’Oiseau de Nuit (night bird) lists cistus labdanum, liqueur of davana, benzoin, and leather as it's ingredients, and I think it's the cistus (according tot he description) that gives the leather that earthy but sweet buzz to it that I also find in Knize Ten (yes, that bit of Miel de Bois). It's certainly not enough to scare the horses; it's just enough to make an interestingly sweet and clean contrapuntal interest to the earthy leather. It's like having your bouquet handed to you in the gardeners glove, in the best, most Lady Chatterly-like way.

L'Ombre Fauve mentions amber, musk, woods, incense, patchouli as the listed notes. Colombina wrote of it as "'thick' and luscious" later writing that it's "a demanding perfume that scares and excites me". On me it is intense and luscious and somewhat wild, balancing the earthy patch and the feline (the only way to describe it) musk with the smooth woods and incense. It manages the feat of being both feral and incredibly suave: if they had made a werewolf movie starring Bond-era Timothy Dalton, this is what he would have worn. (or, if you wish, Irena in Cat People)

All of these are $135 for 50ML, at LuckyScent and the PG website

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dark Tuberoses: Heroine, Narcotic and Trapeze by Strange Invisible Perfumes

Last night
in the fields
I lay down in the darkness
to think about death,
but instead I fell asleep,
as if in a vast and sloping room
filled with those white flowers
that open all summer,
sticky and untidy,
in the warm fields.
When I woke
the morning light was just slipping
in front of the stars,
and I was covered
with blossoms.
I don’t know
how it happened—
I don’t know
if my body went diving down
under the sugary vines
in some sleep-sharpened affinity
with the depths, or whether
that green energy
rose like a wave
and curled over me, claiming me
in its husky arms.
I pushed them away, but I didn’t rise.
Never in my life had I felt so plush,
or so slippery,
or so resplendently empty.
Never in my life
had I felt myself so near
that porous line
where my own body was done with
and the roots and the stems and the flowers
begin. White Flowers, Mary Oliver

I reached the stage in my relationship with perfumes which Angela of NowSmellThis once called that of a connoisseur and which I rather less positively call jaded. My nose believes that it has smelled it all and my brain is in the state of ennui. For a perfume to register on my radar, it has to be Great. To excite my jaded senses it has to be Exceptional. The words of the Red Queen come to mind, "If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!" In regards to perfume, "twice as fast" means either being absolutely sublime in its "realism" (Malle Une Rose) or absolutely unlike anything else I have ever encountered (Aftelier Tango). There are some sublimely "realistic" tuberoses... I am using quotation marks, because there is always a necessary degree of stylization in perfume, a degree of creative interpretation of the material, which is what makes it a perfume and not an aromatherapy oil... Malle Carnal Flower and Caron's and L'Artisan's Tubereuses are among them. Lutens' Tubereuse Criminelle inhabits the twilight zone between the territory of "realism" and that of boldly taken poetic license. I will talk about the sublimely "real" at some later point. Today I am focusing on the strange.

Strange Invisible Perfumes' take on tuberose, to be precise. And a word to other jaded, if you somehow until now overlooked this brand (I know, unlikely!), do try their creations. They do imaginative things that step close to but never overstep the mark of unwearable. Their descriptions, in which vetivers sleepwalk through bright and textured corridors of lemon verbena, do overstep the mark of ridiculous, but I digress. Three of the perfumes in their collection put emphasis on tuberose. Heroine blends the note with sweetly balsamic opoponax and slightly charred cedarwood. The creaminess of tuberose is enhanced by the presence of frangipane, and you would think that two such heady flowers would dominate the composition, but they let the resinous accord to be always in the forefront. That accord makes tuberose smell smoky and husky and, to me, just irresistible. I find the base, which smells of frying shelled sunflower seeds, strangely comforting.

Narcotic uses orange blossom instead of frangipane to enhance tuberose and adds freshness to the blend by making vetiver sleepwalk through the aforementioned corridor of lemon verbena. In other words, the blend starts fresh and a little earthy, the citrusy accord finds its logical continuation in orange blossom, which in turn draws in sweeter and heavier tuberose enriched in the base by vanilla and sandalwood. Simple, right? Not really. You'd think that breezy citruses would turn the usually not at all innocent tuberose into a blushing bride, but here orange blossom has such a pronounced indolic undertone that it makes tuberose smell frankly indecent. Add to that the earthiness of vetiver and the booziness of vanilla, and you have got yourself a perfume that is X Rated.

In Trapeze, the killer queen tuberose walks a tight rope flung between the red spiciness of carnation and the icy freshness of spearmint, and the rope is weaved out of vetiver roots...And no more reading of the SIP website for me, as their style is apparently infectious. Anyhow, whereas I have smelled tuberose paired with a mentholated accord before, the addition of carnation is fairly unexpected. I love the piquancy and the slight powderiness that the note brings to the mix and even a certain retro quality. It would be a huge stretch to say that Trapeze smells classic...but not as long of a stretch as from here to the galaxy far, far away, in which dwell other SIP creations. The galaxy to which the jaded should take regular tours just to be reminded that there are scents out that can still surprise and excite us.

Narcotic and Trapeze are available at (which has been made a little more use-friendly since the last time I attempted to look), $185.00 for 1/4oz. I was unable to find Heroine, perhaps it was discontinued.

Many thanks to Alyssa for the poem and for also seeing the darkness of white flowers. The image is by Ellen Von Unwerth.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Anise and Licorice- Love It or Loathe It, Some Gotta Have It

By Marla

Anise and licorice are notes that are either adored or loathed, one’s scent muse or nemesis. I have yet to hear of someone who feels “meh” over either ingredient. I love anise and my mother hates it for the same reason- those little Russian aniseed cookies that babushkas love to press on children that come their way- they are popular throughout Eastern Europe and Italy but my mother feels nauseated whenever she smells them (too many bad memories of raiding grandma’s cookie jar, then feeling ill afterwards). Licorice candies are a real cult fetish these days- if you’ve been to Philly’s Reading Terminal Market, you know what I mean. The line is never less than 40 people at the licorice shop. The Dutch and the Australians seem to have lots of yummy varieties of the sticky, bittersweet black goop, too. I just love it.

I have a sub-collection of anise and licorice scents. Its cool, ethereal weirdness just makes me open my wallet every time I smell a new one. Some of them are too strange to wear, but I keep them anyway. Here are a few of my favorites. Perhaps you can add to this list:

L’Heure Bleue- the 1912 Guerlain classic- cold and contemplative. It’s so unfashionable with its bitter and powdery notes, so lacking in the fresh and the fruity, that it’s actually avant-garde. And talk about sillage and lasting power- wow!

Lolita Lempicka- seems like a sweet girly gourmand with all that vanilla and amarena but then that bitter anise hits and it’s just delightfully quirky. Very popular in Europe, I smell it everywhere in Italy. A freaky gourmand, and a fun bottle, too. This was apparently designed to be an Angel clone, but took off and established its own unique territory. I wear it about 5 times more often than I wear Angel, mostly because of the licorice.

Guerlain Anisia Bella- just plain bitter anise and woods. So austere that on a truly hot, humid day in the tropics, nothing can cool one as well. Beautiful smell for a library full of antique books. If the Amish could wear perfume, this would be the one. A Basenotes perfumista uses it to scent her shop. Smells really good on men, particularly the thin, intellectual kind. The new AA Laurier Reglisse is a greener, sweeter take on Anisia Bella, but that bitter anise note is still marked in the drydown, so I pronounce Laurier Reglisse bottleworthy for anise lovers also.

Caron Eau de Reglisse- I didn’t like this at first- the ginger just screams like a banshee. But it settles down beautifully and works wonders in hot climates. After a year of sniffing the sample I finally bought one of the huge, fragile bottles. It’s a bargain on the Internet, and there really isn’t anything else like it out there.

Etro Anice is a sweeter, lighter Anisia Bella so I didn’t feel the need to buy it, but it’s lovely nevertheless.

There are many other licorice and anise scents lurking out there. Let me know your favorites!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Perfume Review: CB I Hate Perfume Wild Hunt

I love the handful of the earth you are. Pablo Neruda

Christopher Brosius is the master of earthy accords. Think of the terrifyingly realistic smell of cold, wet soil and despair, Black March. Or the poignant and strangely comforting aroma of tomato vines and clean earth, Memory of Kindness. The Earthy Triumvirate is completed with Wild Hunt.

Brosius describes the perfume as "the scent of an ancient forest in the heat of a summer afternoon". Of all the earthy fragrances created by CB, this one is the least melancholy. Joyously robust and bucolic, it takes me to a forest glade surrounded by tall trees, which, in the bright sunlight do not look in the least menacing. It leaves me there lying in tall grass, inhaling the sharp aromas of earth, leaves and moss, staring in the azure abyss of the sky, feeling relaxed and a little unnerved by the magnificence and immortality of nature and by my own insignificance and transience. An existentialist perfume, one might say.

As for what exactly it smells is green and earthy and, although not complicated, actually impossible to describe. Try it for yourself, I highly recommend it.

Available at, $17.00-$85.00.

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The winner of the Top 10 of Summer the oblitterati. Please send me your address using the contact me link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for sharing your summer favorites!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Top 10 Summer Fragrances. And a Prize Draw

No season should be allowed to go by without being commemorated and summed up in a Top 10 list. Least of all my favorite season. Without further ado I present to you the scents we at Perfume-Smellin' Things are enjoying this summer.

Les Nez Let Me Play the Lion
Dry minimalist incense, smoke, and sun-warmed old wood, it cries out for heat.

Comme des Garcons Sequoia
A cool breeze from the redwood forests—worn in memory of the burning trees.

Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose
Roses and the beach—what more can you ask for?

Annick Goutal Eau d’Hadrien
Leaving this off a summer top ten list is like going without iced tea in Texas.

Santa Maria Novella Eva
Curl up on the new leather seats of my convertible for a ride down the country road past the hayfields.

Serge Lutens A La Nuit
Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
Even in the heat, it can’t always be about less. Sometimes it has to be about more.

10 Corso Como 10 Corso Como

Etats Libre Jasmin et Cigarette
Summer in the city.

Hermes Eau de Merveilles
Absolute salty naughtiness masquerading as pale innocence.

Chanel Gardenia
I have a picture of my grandmother wrapped immodestly in a bearskin rug with her opera length pearls, smoking a cigarette in a very stunning holder...she would have loved this, a wicked little perfume hiding in a very classy bottle.

Estee Lauders Private Collection Tuberose and Gardenia
Simply the most stunning gardenia fragrance that I wear...beautiful, completely feminine and absolutely perfect.

Caron's Bellodgia
Carnations, Vanilla and Musk with Rose , currently (with all due respect to the divine Miss Monroe) the only thing that comes between me and my sheets.

Niki De Saint Phalle Niki De Saint Phalle
Strangely magical, altogether powerful, totally persuasive and just a wee bit twisted:)

Bond No 9 Saks for Her
White gardens at midnight, thoroughly classic, incredibly Disarming, my summer “walk into the boardroom and get it done” fragrance!

Robert Piguet Fracas
My favorite New Orleans jazz and Bourbon Street cocktail with a creamy layer of sultry Southern madness.

Jo Malone French Lime Blossom
Transports me to a stand of beautiful Lindens in full bloom, swarming with honeybees, drenching me in nectar.

Yves Saint Lauren Paris
Such happiness, YSL's Paris always reminds me of candied violets from Fouchon, glaceed chestnuts and fresh Passion fruit Macarons from Laduree.

Annick Goutal Le Muguet
I know that I'm supposed to get Lily of the Valley but I don't..instead it's juicy ripe pears drizzled with cinnamon and honey beneath the sparkling light of the harvest moon.

Lancome Magie Noire
I thought I knew Magie and then I wore it recently into the Arizona desert and was mesmerized by a smoky note of mezcal, simply bewitching, shamanically perfect.

Balmain Balmain de Balmain
So green and herbal it's almost a masculine, and it never ever goes sweet.

Henry Dunay Sabi
A lilting bouquet of fresh white flowers, sophisticated and elegant.

Ava Luxe Venus Sands
A beachy gardenia/tropical that is sultry and sexy but not too strong for the heat.

Sali Oguri Pink Manhattan
Another gardenia, lightened by hibiscus and luscious peach, delectable and fun.

Ines de la Fressange Ines de la Fressange (1999 version)
My summer stalwart, refreshing florals with a touch of spicy carnation, it never wilts even in the soggiest heat.

Nasomatto Narcotic Venus
Simply stunning tuberose for summer evenings when you want things to heat up, if you get my drift.

Serge Lutens Datura Noir
another sensual standby for me, this night-blooming wonder is erotic and sultry like midnight on the water.

Andy Tauer Incense Extreme

Dry, dry, dry and very complex, perfect for those hot arid days we get in midsummer when you just don't want anything sweet.

Max Mara Max Mara original scent
delicious lemon, sugar cane and sap is a sheer delight on the skin and makes it seem like it's ten degrees cooler outside when you splash it on.

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
I would live in this one all summer if I could, the perfect "living flower" tuberose, growing in a jungle paradise.

Monyette Paris Monyette
his big, creamy white floral and vanilla fragrance is paradisiacal and impossibly sexy in the summer heat.

Andy Tauer L’Air du Desert Marocain
Smooth, seductive, scorching with the impression of parched earth amongst its spices and blooms.

Bruno Acampora Jasmin
This is exactly the wanton scent that lies low to the ground at night, when the coastal wind is still, and the night air is sultry with jasmine blooms.

L’Artisan Fleur d’Oranger
In suburban California , the orange trees in everyone’s yards put out this heavenly scent all summer – creamy white flowers with a slightly bitter, twiggy green heart.

The Different Company Sel de Vetiver
Vetiver always seems cool and eternal to me, and SdV is perfect, with its cool, reserved, salted stone touch.

Parfums de Nicolai Mimosaique
This is the most elegant mimosa, spicy and softly complex – a sundress in a bottle.

CB I Hate Perfume Gathering Apples
I know, apples mature in autumn – yet this scent is exactly the pure, delicate crispness I crave in summer.

Isabela Capeto Isabela Capeto
Both tremblingly delicate and resilient, a garlanded dryad with a soul of spices and sap-green wood.

Ebba Miss Marisa
Jaunty, with lots of sweet-tart fruit, and a hint of mint… like a tall cool glass of herbal iced tea.

Nanadebary Nanadebary Pink
This is the scent of clean nude skin after a shower, clean and soapy in the best way possible, with intriguing hints of nutmeg.

Aftelier Tango
Bittersweet summer. Salty kisses of the sea on tanned skin, smoke of the fire in which memories are burning. Goes well with a desperately red dress.

Estee Lauder Private Collection
WASPy summer. Green, cold, aloof. My ladylike summer scent. Goes well with a Birkin or polo shirts.

Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose
Flirty summer. Feminine, playful, chic roses and violets. Goes well with high heels and full skirts.

Guerlain Mahora
Indolent summer. Creamy white flowers, exotic, heady, sensual. A perfume of exotic getaway. Goes well with naked skin.

Guerlain Quand Vient La Pluie
Delicious summer. Gently floral and slightly gourmand, a delicate dream of a scent. Goes well with flowing silks.

Hermes Un Jardin Apres La Mousson
Childhood summer. Watermelons a la Ellena, surprising and addictive. Goes well with big straw hats and flop flops.

Ineke Evening Edged in Gold
Melancholy summer. Golden, intoxicating flowers desperate to bloom for one last time, a soulful reminder that summers end. Goes well with finest cashmere shawls on breezy summer nights.

Laura Biagiotti Sotto Voce
Romantic summer. Powdery petals, sweet and a little bitter, like memories of summers that are long gone.

Micallef Note Vanillee
Naughty summer. Candies, cigarettes, booze... Goes well with his shirt on your bare shoulders.

Michael Kors Michael Kors
New Russian Summer. Gorgeous, in your face tuberose with an obnoxious posse of peonies and freesias. I hate to love it and I can't get enough of it. Goes well with big sunglasses, tiny golden bikinis, high golden heels and animal prints.

(Since we’re dealing with a recession in the US and inflation in all nations, I put together a list of summer bargains, some good frags that are kind to your bank account.)

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Herba Fresca
Mint, hay, herbs, grass, fresh as a sprint through an alpine meadow. Terrific longevity.

Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria Anisia Bella
Bitter, astringent, cooling, and completely unique. No sweet stuff here.

Lalique Eau de Lalique
By Jean Claude Ellena, no less. A traditional cologne with the distinctive Ellena stamp. A bargain online.

Elizabeth Arden Spiced Green Tea
Francis Kurkdjian’s underappreciated tea scent, far better than most and a steal online at under $20 for 100ml.

Parfums de Nicolai Vie de Chateau
Another underappreciated gem, a blend of oakmoss, grass, leather and hay. Delightful and a bargain at $40 for 30ml.

Bath and Body Work Coconut Lime Verbena
Some call it a dead ringer for Creed’s Virgin Island Water, this one’s a guilty favorite of many a perfumista. A steal at $18 for 50ml.

Fendi Theorema Uomo
The female version is a winter staple for me, but I wear this cool, spicy herbal blend in the summer. Buy for nothing online.

Jovan Fresh Patchouli
3 stars from Turin and Sanchez! A very fresh, non-sweet rendition, lasts forever, found in drugstores for about $11.99.

Yves Rocher Rose Absolue
Buy it during their half-price or 2-for-1 sales. A delightful, natural rose with tonka and a hint of cinnamon. Watch out for bees while you’re wearing it, though!

Bvlgari Eau de The Vert
Another Ellena creation, his style is perfectly suited for summer, isn’t it??

Vero Perfume Kiki
Cool lavender and a hint of sweet fruits; yum!

Annick Goutal Musc Nomade
The Mediterranean-tanned, sweet-smelling skin I'll never have.

Parfumerie Generale L’Eau Guerriere
Woody musk lightened by sparkly aldehydes

L'Artisan L'Ete en Douce
Gentle as a caress and perfectly balanced.

Dior Eau Sauvage
A perennial since my childhood and still unforgettable 40 years on.

Frederic Malle L'Eau d'Hiver
Because every July needs a kiss of February

Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande
The dance from light to dark and warm to cool is enchanting, even more so in Summer

Andy Tauer Lonestar Memories
Hunky fantasy Cowboy after saving the homestead from a brushfire; grrrrr.

Etat Libre D'Orange Tom of Finland
Yes, I did sort of diss it, but it's frankly fake Doublemint insincerity is making me drain the decant

Robert Piguet Fracas
No, I wouldn't wear it, but that buttery tuberose wafts over a summer evening with the smooth sensuality of a 40's screen siren.

Please share your summer favorites. If you would like to be entered in a prize draw for a set of 15 samples of perfumes mentioned in our lists, please say so in your comment. The draw is now closed. And don't forget to read other Top 10s of Summer on:

Bois de Jasmin
Now Smell This
Perfume Posse


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Perfume Review: Jean Patou Forever

Ever since Tom mentioned macaroons in his review of Kiki, I have been on a hunt for something elegantly sweet to eat and something sophisticatedly sweet to wear. I have yet to find the former but I happily recognized the latter in Patou's fairly obscure gem of a scent, Forever. With its leisurely, indolent, joyous vibe, the perfume also hit the right spot in that it reminded me that vacation is just around the corner.

The fruity accord of pineapple, raspberry and melon is creamy, ripe, with a distinct boozy undertone. These are fruits gone bad, i.e into the liquor territory. And when fruits go bad, I go right after them. A very subtle floral undertone attempts to create a ladylike appearance but fails. Vetiver prevents the fragrance from being too sweet and adds a certain breezy feel to the blend, a certain salty freshness. Forever makes me think of sun reflected on the dazzling blue surface of an ocean, of barely-there bikinis, of white sand, of exotic cocktails, of skin smelling faintly of sea water and sunscreen makes me long for the state of happy oblivion that is a perfect vacation.

This escapist fragrance can be found online for as cheaply as $19.99 for EDT. Parfum, which is what I reviewed, is harder to find but is very much worth the effort.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Vero Perfume kiki and rubj

By Tom

As you know from last weeks post, lovely and generous Gaia, the Non-Blonde sent me a sampler of Vero Perfumes wares. I've already covered onda, this week the two others in the line.

Lavender is an accord in perfumes that is second only to Rose in it's beauty when done well, and utter horrific trashiness when done ill: for every scent like Tauer's Reverie Au Jardin or Lutens Encens et Lavande there's some godawful Love's Lavendery LustBat or worse yet, Renuzit Lavender Glade.

Thank goodness not only is the lavender in kiki not only first rate, but it's paired with a creamy sweetness that for all the world reminds me of Macarons, those fantastic French wonders made from egg whites and filled with buttercream. There's a fresh fruitiness to it as well, that makes me think of ripe mango, but never gets even slightly overpowering. At the base of it is that tanned-flesh sort of musk that I am hopelessly in thrall to, not only because the only tan I can ever achieve still falls under the heading "ghostly pale" (those of you who've seen me: that's 20 years in LA, mostly without sunblock). All of this reads as horrific, and if it were put out by
98% of the companies out there that are stocking your local Sephora, it easily could be. As it is kiki is an absolute delight from beginning to end.

rubj is clearly after bigger game: white flower lovers take note. Orange blossoms open the scent, seemingly spiked with a bit of the peel. Soft jasmine and sweet tuberose join in and an earthy musk grounds it, but the whole thing never gets to that in-your-face stage that other tuberose scents can go to. There's something blameless to it thats both innocent and shockingly sensual at the same time. Fracas for instance walks right up and grabs you by the.... lapels. rubj (I am using lower-case since the packaging does) seems more content to let you come to it, and come you shall.

These are available at the Vero Perfume website

Vero herself was kind enough to write me to let me know that indeed there isn't mint in onda, even if that was the way it came out on my skin, and also to tell that her perfumes will soon be released in the US, perhaps in September. Wonderful news indeed!

Image source,

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Perfume Review: Montale Aoud Red Flowers

If Lipstick Rose had a fling with an aoud scent, the result of the fling would have been a scent with its papa's exotic coloring and its mama's very French, very feminine and very chic disposition. This Beauty-and-the-Beast offspring would have been named Aoud Red Flowers.

Montale have already (successfully) attempted to marry Europe and Orient in Aoud Flowers, which blended aoud with tuberose. Aoud Red Flowers mixes aoud with marigolds (I am assuming, red marigolds and, inevitably, roses, also red). For the life of me I cannot remember the smell of marigolds, I can only say that in this particular fragrance the floral accord seems to be bright, not particularly sweet, with just enough powderiness to evoke lipsticks and foundations and all things classically feminine, retro and refined. I cannot smell the declared saffron at all, but it might be this golden spice that contributes to the dazzling brightness of the floral accord and enhances the broody exoticism of the aoud.

This is a non-aggressive aoud for those who are still a little scared of aouds and a moderately powdery floral for those who want some but not too much powder. Or a great new scent for those who like their exotic scents to have a classic feel and for their classics to have an exotic twist.

Available at Luckyscent and Aedes, $150.00-$210.00

The image is by Annie Leibovitz.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Perfume Review - Creed Royal English Leather

By Beth

I love my husband. To me he is one of the sexiest men alive and I’ve always felt that way about him even after 28 years. He’s quite attractive in what my mother calls a “British sort of way” and he looks marvelous in a kilt. He doesn’t wear his kilt with all of the pomp and nonsense, he wears it with a blue Irish wool sweater and looks as if he’s walked right out of the Highlands. He is quite formal about his tux though and it must be double breasted. His very thick hair is gray in all of the right places and long enough for me to play with. There’s always been something about him that seemed timeless, of another place where men were a bit more dignified and by contrast much more bawdy, when men wore their hair long and wavy and they weren’t at all afraid to wear velvet and a bit of lace with their leather. He used to ride my stallion bareback with only a halter for control. I can easily picture him with a saber and a pistol although now the only weapons that he brandishes are purely raw courage, a rich and sarcastic sense of humor and his lightning quick intellect. On the softer side, he cried the day that I married him and has been a perfect father to our son. He got down on one knee and asked me to remarry him in front of my whole family and our friends two Christmases ago. He is loyal to the point of obsession and very passionate. He is warm in the autumn and always smells to me like fresh windfall apples and very good cigars. He never kisses and tells. He is the perfect gentleman, quiet and powerful in the boardroom and........

He has never worn a fragrance because we have never found one that suited such a spectacular sort of man. But, one day about a month ago I found myself standing at the Creed counter at Saks Fifth Avenue, looking for yet another Lily of the Valley fragrance. Tia, the absolutely fabulous Creed SA was trying in vain to find one for me and was generously proffering me with lots of samples in the hopes that I might yet again fall in love. It was then that I noticed an absolutely gorgeous amber vial filled with a golden elixir, understated yet intriguing, coolly beckoning me closer. I read the label, Royal English Leather. “Hmm” , I thought, “maybe I could love this”, being one that has had more indecent fantasies of romps with royalty then you could even begin to imagine. Then , I sniffed. When they picked me up off of the floor, they told me that I had fainted dead away in something like an orgasmic swoon, whispering Byronic inspired prose.

What I remembered when I came to was a beautiful meadow , gorgeous dappled bay horses with ribbons in their manes, beautiful, naked young men clothed only in flowing long hair with lutes and the soft strands of Scarborough Fair playing through my memory. My husband was there, quite naked as well. I won’t go any further, I told you that I have very indecent fantasies!

Yet, through the haze of my all too vivid imagination there was something familiar stirring. My cell phone was ringing, bringing me sadly back to this century. Fortunately, it was Jim inviting me to meet him for lunch at Nordstrom's. I quickly sprayed some of the Royal English Leather on my wrists, steadied myself and went to meet him. After commenting on my pale and wanton visage, he cocked his head and asked to smell my wrist. He took a deep breath and kissed it as if he would have liked to bite. “Hmm” he said, “I want you to go buy that right now”.

Royal English Leather is one of the oldest fragrances still being produced having been commissioned by King Charles III. It is a romantic fragrance filled with leather, mandarin and ambergris. It smells of tobacco and the sweat of a magnificent horse. It is totally classy yet filled with skank. Every time my husband wears it I become weak in the knees which he must not mind because he’s been wearing it everyday. Such pleasure from such a simple little thing. The one time I tried to wear it I was informed that I wasn’t allowed to touch it. Torture.

Creed Royal English Leather can be found easily online, definitely at Saks Fifth Avenue and many other wonderful stores. Try it and see if you don’t enjoy the Jacobean fantasies it produces, but please be sure to not let go of the counter!

Photo from the Creed US Homepage.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Vero Perfume Onda

Review by Tom

My dear scent twin Gaia, the Non-Blonde sent me a sample of these for my birthday, lovely creature that she is. Vero is the perfumer that no less than Andy Tauer describes as his muse, and I can see why. The scents are startlingly simple while managing to seem incredibly complex.

On me Onda starts with a minted tobacco, the smokiness perfectly balanced with the brightness of the mint. It later becomes more complex as the vetiver comes in, seemingly ripped fresh from the earth and torn joyfully asunder. Colombina describes it as "an urban person's vision of bucolic utopia" while Gaia writes that it is "beautiful, dramatic and romantic". They are of course both correct: it's earthy yet glamorous. It's Garbo joyfully tearing a root from the ground with her manicured fingers, brushing the dirt and laughing, biting in heedless of the juice that may stain her Adrian gown. It's earthy, it's glamorous, it's gorgeous.... it's not me. I might be an old man, but I think that there are a few scents that should be ladies only, and although I could wear this, I really think it's best served by being worn by you ladies.

Onda is available at her website; it's well worth checking out.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

Interview with Bertrand Duchaufour

Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, he of Avignon, Jubilation XXV, Paestum Rose and Timbuktu, does not need an introduction. Not in our perfume-maniacal circles anyway. Non-perfume people treat rock-stars and actors with the kind of excitement I felt when meeting Bertrand. Have you seen videos of girls squealing and fainting at Elvis' and Beatles' concerts? Well, I did have to fight an urge to squeal and faint. Cutting to the chase, here are Bertrand's answers to our questions, some of them asked by you and some mine.

M: What career would you have chosen if you had not become a perfumer?

BD: Photography, painting.

Bertrand Duchaufour has been paiting for many years, landscapes as well as portraits. He compares his earlier art to that of Francis Bacon, powerful and violet. He believes that his creations became softer, although they still possess strength and emotion.

M: For which of any of your creation do you feel most affection?

BD: One of the favorite ones might be Dzongkha, because of its story, of its connection with Buddhist world, with Himalayas, Tibet and Nepal. I feel an affinity with Buddhism, with its spirituality. I also feel close to Africa, to its art, to a special way of thinking that is closer to truth than ours, and so I feel connection to Timbuktu. But the best perfume that I did so far is Sienne d'Hiver for Eau d'Italie. It is a story of Tuscany during winter. Its complex accords and harmonies are the apotheosis of sophistication. Its creation represented the perfect dialog between brand owners and a perfumer.

M: Are there notes that you are always drawn to, like to explore?

BD: Yes. Davana, patchouli, tuberose. I like karo karounde, but it is rare. I like woods, cypriol. I like flowers, narcissus, rose and jasmine. I recently re-discovered mimosa, it is amazing.

Having his own lab (L'Atelier de L'Artisan Parfumeur) became a turning point for Duchaufour, a re-birth of sorts. His experience at Symprise was that of working with concepts; as a perfumer, he did not touch the ingredients, he created formulas, and assistants measured and mixed for him. He admits to having felt a loss of connection to his ingredients. These days he has a hands-on approach and feels that he is back in touch with raw materials and perhaps his craft in general.

M: Related to the question of notes... do you believe in signature accords, that perfumers have signatures? A reader noted that she have picked up your signature accord, which reminds her of freshly cut chilly peppers, spicy hot yet coolly green. And perhaps when Luca Turin wrote about you having created a new transparent floral-woody accord, he meant the same thing. Can you comment on that?

BD: Yes! There are signatures. There are a couple of chemicals that I put in my perfumes, one rooty and earthy, another green and peppery, which very few perfumers use, they could be considered my signature.

Duchaufour notes that having a signature has its down side. It is convenient to have a couple of signature accords to fall back upon. That makes one's life easy but also a little boring. He thinks that time has come for him to look for new ways of expression, for new accords. That is his challenge, the one he appears eager to accept. With his newly found connection to ingredients, in search for new materials and styles, Duchaufour seems to me to be a perfumer re-born, a perfumer on a brink of something new and exciting.

A bonus question, asked by Masha:

What brief were you given for Lalique's Flora Bella and what were your inspirations for the scent?

BD: A concept of pure solar flower, of sun. It represents the island way of living, an easy way of living, sea, beaches, tiare, frangipane, sensuality. A perfect flower.

And a parting snippet of trivia. When asked if he wears perfume, Duchaufour replied that mostly he has to be perfume-free, but that there are some perfumes that he likes, and sometimes he enjoys wearing Dior Homme, which has a nice orris accord.

Images are mine. The first pictures Bertrand Duchaufour with Pamela Roberts, L'Artisan Parfumeur's Creative Director.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Perfume Review: Molinard Habanita

To very much paraphrase the famous saying of Albert Camus, in the midst of summer, I suddenly felt a chill of inevitable winter...and longed for comfort. Or more specifically, for a comfort scent. Not a fluffy one to temporarily cuddle the stressed mind, because temporary measures just would not do...not a serene one, to soothingly whisper that everything passes, because I don't believe in that...not a gloomy one that would agree with me that life is absurd and not worth the effort...I need an I Can Get Through It comfort scent, an empowering comfort scent, an olfactory companion which would assure me that nothing is impossible and that I can do it all.

Enter Habanita. She with the voice made husky by smoking all that tobacco, with a white flower defiantly and alluringly stuck in her pitch-dark hair and a warm, generous, sweet heart. To get through to the true essence of Habanita, her layers must be peeled of, one by one. First the tobacco leaves, with their sweet and smoky, enthralling fragrance. Then the white petals of ylang-ylang and orange blossom, a charming touch of femininity in a composition that otherwise might have been seen as totally masculine. Then the delectable, creamy blend of vanilla, heliotrope and orris, which is like a layer of dark-golden nougat ...You get through the defensive nonchalance of smokiness and the seductive floral femininity, you are made to believe that the gourmand softness of vanilla will be the end. You think you understand Habanita: underneath her sultry interior she is vulnerable, almost child-like. You bite into the golden nougat, and there, hidden in the sweet fluffiness, lies the core of leather. And it is that dark, tough, unbreakable, unyielding core that makes Habanita such a perfect companion for when the going gets tough.

"I am a Daruma doll, a legless toy endlessly poked and pushed, but finally regaining it balance, assured by an inner balancing pin (but what is my balancing pin? The force of Love?). This is what we are told by a folk poem wihch accompanies these Japanese dolls:
Such is life,
Falling over seven times,
And getting up eight."

(Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse)

Habanita can be found in a variety of sizes and concentrations, from $24.99 for EDT at Scentiments to $295 for Perfume at Aedes.

The image is by Jacques Olivar.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Roses in 3-D: Annick Goutal Ce Soir Ou Jamais

By Donna

Roses have to be among the most beloved of all plants that are cultivated by humans, and hardly anyone does not like their scent. It is a rare person who is not affected in some way by the delicious aroma of a fresh, dewy rose blossom. But when it comes to rose perfumes, even those who love the flower itself are less than enamored of perfumes featuring the rose. Sometimes it is because they smell cheap, due to synthetic ingredients in the composition or because “rose geranium” leaves were used instead of real rose essence, a cost-cutting measure that can be easily detected by comparing it with a real rose fragrance. Memories of drugstore horrors linger long and make one wary of approaching anything calling itself a rose soliflore. I personally love a good rose perfume as much as anything, and I am always looking for the kind that makes me feel as I do when smelling a real one in my garden; I inhale slowly and deeply and if it’s really good, it has that same effect that a fresh rose does – the nose never tires of it and there is never any hidden unpleasantness in its depths like there can be with other flowers. Fragrant roses are sweet right down to the bottom, and a good rose perfume should be the same way, rich and deep and endlessly pleasing, with no “off” or strange notes to interfere with the experience.

Those rose perfumes that do measure up to the real thing usually have to do it in one if two ways: by recreating the effect of the fresh living flower or by making it abstract, stylized, and part of a greater whole. The first way is probably the more difficult approach, as the standard for a rose scent is so high: the icon of the genre is Jean Patou Joy, a seamless and masterful fusion of Rose de Mai and Grasse jasmine that is the measure of greatness for all that have come after it. Then there is the modern Serge Lutens Sa Majeste de la Rose, a worthy heir to the classic tradition. On the abstract side we have such gems as Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum Lipstick Rose and Guerlain Nahema, both clearly rose-based but each with a unique twist, and the very rosy but somehow also stylized Paris de Yves St. Laurent that somehow does not seem like a rose soliflore to me but more of an atmosphere, a series of pink-tinged cloud pictures in my head like the kind we see as children when looking at the sky. Then there is Lancôme Magie Noire, whose rich and sophisticated rose essence is surrounded by a haze of other notes, a velvety penumbra moon that is best worn at night. Of course, these are only a few of the multitude of rose fragrances in the world, and everyone has their own idea of what their ideal rose perfume would smell like.

So why do perfumers keep producing rose scents? I have to think that in the case of the best ones, it has to be for love – think of the high quality of the Parfums de Rosine line, the medley of rose themes encompassed by these wonderful perfumes. I have not tried most of them, but I love Un Folie de Rose very much; its slightly sharp greenness coupled with the rich, tender rose is a perfect balance. It is a line that I hope to know better in the near future. (I have tried a couple of other Rosines but I must confess I can’t remember what the names were, except for having the word Rose in them!.)

This brings me to my subject: Annick Goutal Ce Soir Ou Jamais (“Tonight Or Never.”), released in 1999. It actually reminds me quite a bit of Un Folie de Rose with its green opening and slight astringency. In fact, there was a very brief “oh no” moment for me when I first put it on, thinking it was rose geranium as it was so sharp, but it passed quickly. (Not that I could ever really imagine a Goutal perfume with a problem like that!) When it has been on the skin for a few minutes the sharpness subsides and it becomes softer, and a hint of violet peeks out. After a little while it gets richer and almost jammy, but never cloying, as there are other subtle notes in play that keep a certain immediacy and freshness to the fore. According to the Bergdorf Goodman site, it has pear and cassis in it; I can’t really separate them out from everything else very well (reportedly 160 essences are involved in the composition) but I think I can tell what the pear is doing. It has the comforting feel of a chilled, poached (or dare I say even canned?) pear, the kind of thing one eats on a hot summer day when nothing else seems worth the effort. The Annick Goutal web site says there is hibiscus as well, which is where some of the sharpness must be coming from. This is only a sense, a gossamer veil of cool greenness over it all, since the centerpiece of the scent is Turkish rose, and it is magnificent indeed. I never had to wonder for even a moment if any shortcuts were taken in the selection of the ingredients for Ce Soir Ou Jamais. This has within it one of the finest rose essences I have ever experienced, and it is further rounded out with very good jasmine and ambrette seed. The jasmine behaves itself remarkably well here, and is used to do what only it can, to showcase and enhance the rose, making it bloom with sensuality while keeping its own character in the background. The drydown of this perfume is very pleasing, as the ambrette seed accord melds with skin to create a long-lasting impression.

I have worn this fragrance to work several times now – the carded sample was quite generous. While it lasts on me all day, it never gets too strong, and I only catch fleeting sensations of it on myself. I find it to be civilized yet romantic, and far more wearable for day and even the office than some other more intense rose scents that are best left for evening wear, such as Magie Noire, Nahema or Caron Parfum Sacré. Yet it is not without a strong character of its own, and it is certainly not one of those pallid mass-marketed “rosy” scents that wither away to nothing after thirty minutes. It is simply a deliciously dimensional true-rose fragrance for rose lovers who don’t want to “save” their favorite perfume for special occasions.

I don’t know why I never discovered this scent until now. Perhaps it is because there are so very many Annick Goutal scents and I never can get through them all at my local shop before I am entranced with something else – they are displayed close to the L’Artisan, Amouage and Hermès lines, so I am always flitting back and forth like the world’s happiest honeybee; I think I need to check in to the Home For The Easily Distracted. Perhaps it is because the name does not have anything to do with roses so I never knew that’s what it was. In any case, this one goes right up among the top ten rose scents for me, joining Parfum Sacré, Nahema, Sa Majeste de la Rose, Un Folie de Rose, Magie Noire and of course Joy. The others on my list keep changing as I discover them and I say, Oh, I like that one the best; No, it’s that one. But of course the beauty of it all is that I don’t have to choose at all, until it’s time to buy a bottle. I can just keep falling for all those rose scents over and over, as long as it takes.

Image credits: Special edition Ce Soir Ou Jamais bottle & velvet case from Passion for Perfumes, a perfume bottle collectors’ site. Photo of the perfectly formed and extremely fragrant 1843 Hybrid Perpetual Rose ‘Yolande d’Aragon’ from

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