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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ayala Moriel Hanami

By Tom

Ayala is a Canadian natural perfumer, who made an appearance here in Los Angeles to introduce her new scent Hanami.

Ayala explained, with her charming accent that she had moved to Vancouver from her home in Israel and longed to recreate the heady scents she remembered from home, which led her into perfumery.

Hanami she told us was based upon a poem, but also of the memory of a friend leading her with covered eyes down a city street to uncover them to the sight of a street full of fully-bloomed cherry blossoms, and the desire to capture that scent: the juxtaposition of the hard smells of the city and the creamy whiteness of the trees.

Did she succeed? Dunno. There's a sad dearth of Cherry trees in Los Angeles, so I cannot write to the perfection of the simulacrum. I can write that the scent is lovely, a haiku of lotus, tonka, vetiver and woods. People like Ayala make me able to face those EU regulations with less fear..

I smelled several of Ayala's scents at Blunda, but being an idiot, I didn't note them, except that there were two that Wendy wore which she must buy immediately. Check her blog and see if she mentions them.

Available at Ayala's website and at these retailers

Image of Petals of cherry blossoms on pavement is by Takeshi.yedoensis at flickr

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Sniffing at Sephora: Gucci Flora, Tocca Brigitte, Guerlain Figue-Iris, Philosophy Unconditional Love

I don't usually go to Sephora expecting to meet a prince in a perfume bottle, so to say, but rather to kiss a lot of frogs. This time it wasn't that bad, which means that either the mainstream is getting better or that I am getting mainstream. Nah...neither is likely. I must have been in a particularly good mood.

Seriously though, Tocca's new Brigitte, inspired by Bardot and meant to take the wearer for a bike ride in the south of France, mainly through Marseille's spice market, is almost prince material. On me, the fragrance skips both rhubard and papaya, declared in the list of notes. A pity about rhubard, but thank goodness for no papaya. The composition rides straight into that spice market, with ginger and saffron being the most prominent notes on my skin, throughout the scent's development. The soft floral aspect (rose, iris), softens the piquancy (which makes sense concept-wise, but again a pity me-wise), while sandalwood in the base doesn't let it become too thin. Were the perfume a little more intense, had a little more oomph and ooh-la-la about it, I would have been tempted to buy it. ($30.00-$68.00 for 0.15-1.7oz)

I haven't smelled Guerlain's Figue-Iris in 2008, when it came out, because I tend to loathe fig in perfume (with very few exceptions) and am so very tired of iris after the last couple of years of it being everywhere. So I smelled this Aqua Allegoria with much caution only to discover that it is shockingly lovely. Iris tones down the green coconutty figgyness of the fig, while fig makes the ubiquitous iris interesting again. The fragrance is fresh, but not too much so, sweet, but not overwhelmingly so. It is posed gracefully somewhere in-between being fruity-green and floral, and I imagine it would wear delightfully in the heat of summer. I would never use up the whole bottle, but thumbs up to Guerlain for finally producing an impressive Aqua Allegoria. ($57.00 for 2.5oz)

I was almost ready to give thumbs up to Gucci too, for their new Flora, because I liked the beginning of the composition. Peony did a cute little dance with citruses in the top notes, all tastefully sparkly and fresh-faced, and I am in a mood for this kind of clean-ish, conventional prettiness right now. I mean, yes, it is generic all right, but pretty-generic. Not that I was even half-thinking of buying a bottle, but if I were, heart and base notes would have dissuaded me. Osmanthus, rose and sandalwood made Flora unexpectedly creamy, and apparently creamy is a no-no for me right now, when it comes to florals. After the easy-breezy start, there was something too blunt and persistent about the floral-woody accord. I suppose, I should have felt that it gave the perfume depth and substance, but instead I felt bothered by it. Still, compared to a lot of other scents on Sephora's shelves, Flora is quite nicely done, and, because of that weighty creaminess, not as young-smelling as the copy would lead you to believe. Not a prince by a long stretch, but not a frog either. ($52.00-$90.00 for 1oz-2.5oz)

Philosophy's Unconditional Love, on the other hand, is as froggy as it gets. Allow me to channel Seth Meyers here for a moment and ask, REALLY, Philosophy? Really? Unconditional Love, really? You saw it fit to use such Big words for such a tiny scent? "Unforgettable fragrance", really? Now what would make it so? The generic (and not pretty-generic) berry? The cheap vanilla? The pale musk drydown? Ribbi...I mean, really? And what's with the twee, cliche-ridden copy, Philosophy? I do "treasure the fact that real love stories never end." I also treasure the fact that this scent does, in two hours. ($40.00 for 1.7oz)

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Perfume Expo America Tickets Giveaway

Anyone still in need of the tickets to Perfume Expo America (June 9-12, NYC)? Email us using the Contact link on the right or at pstblog at yahoo dot com. We have about a hundred tickets to give away, on first come first served basis. Please note that after receiving your ticket from us, via email, you have to register on PXA site.

It would be wonderful to meet you, deer readers, in person at the event. See you there!

A Garden of Memories: Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine

By Donna

Several years ago I entered an online contest to create a fantasy perfume, with the prize being a selection of samples from a prestigious niche house. I really wanted those samples, since I was pretty new to the perfume blog scene and I had not tried very many of the smaller lines that were getting so much buzz. So I gave the idea a lot of thought and came up with something that would remind me of the gardens and fragrant memories of my childhood. There were the delicately sweet Rugosa roses my grandfather planted in our yard, the aroma of sweet fern drifting on the air on a humid summer evening, the ethereal wafting of apple blossoms in May and the spicy-sweet nasturtiums tumbling over the sun-warmed stones of my great-aunt’s summer garden in the country. The centerpiece of my memories and of the perfume was the peony. I grew up in New England, where peonies are widely grown as stalwart and reliable landscape plants, as they are hardy, long-lived and showy. I loved their silky blooms in shades of pink, white and crimson, but most of all I loved their fragrance. Many of them have a scent similar to roses but more pungent, while others are not as sweet but still pleasing. So I imagined a perfume that combined all these elements, and I ended up winning the contest.

There are two main kinds of peonies in cultivation, the more common herbaceous kind that dies back to the ground every year and the so-called tree peony, which has permanent woody branches. Tree peonies have become all the rage in gardening with their gigantic blossoms in spectacular color combinations, but as much as I admire them, most of them just don’t smell as good as the common (and far less expensive) herbaceous peony. One of the great pleasures of late spring and early summer is burying my nose in a fluffy bloom of ‘Sarah Bernhardt’, ‘Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt’ or ‘Festiva Maxima.’ You can tell by those names that they have been around for a long time, and they are popular for a reason. They are nicknamed the Memorial Day flower because their peak bloom is at that time of year, but it may as well be due to their fresh and piquant fragrance that brings back a flood of memories to anyone who experiences their fragrance.

Anyway, I was trolling all the perfume sites not too long ago and I came across a free sample offer for Histoires de Parfums on the same site that had hosted that contest. I had heard of the line but had never tried any of them. They would send four random samples of the fragrances to a limited number of people and I got in under the wire. I could not choose which ones I wanted, but hey, they were free, and I figured they were all going to be pretty good anyway. When I received the package, three of the scents were inspired by historical figures, which I had expected, and the fourth was Vert Pivoine. When I saw the name I was almost afraid to open it; could it be as good as I hoped it would be with such a name? Oh, yes it could.

With my first inhalation off this I thought of my fantasy perfume – it seems that I won’t have to make it myself now, because it was very close to the scent I had envisioned. Heady peony entwines with notes of fresh green ivy leaf, rose, tangy red fruits, mimosa and gardenia. The base has musk and vanilla but I don’t get much of either. Cedarwood helps to sustain the crushed-stem green aspect that carries through the development. What is interesting about it is that peony is listed as a top, heart and base note, similar to the scent I dreamed up, with peony leaf and root extracts as well as flowers. There must be parts of it other than the bloom alone in this fragrance too, for it very dimensional, a peony in the round, if you will, the essence of the living flowers. When I close my eyes, I can see it so clearly: on a spring morning shimmering with dew, as the peonies unfold their silken petals and expose their abundant golden pollen to the sun and the eager honeybees, their unmistakable fragrance is carried on the soft air. A child wanders into a garden and is drawn irresistibly to a peony bush heavily laden with bloom. She buries her face in a plump pink flower, and she is rewarded with both a heavenly aroma and a bright dusting of pollen on her little nose. Thus is born a lifelong love of flowers, and of perfume.

Histoires de Parfums is a small French niche house headed by master perfumer Gérald Ghislain. In the USA the perfumes have limited availability; the only brick-and-mortar stores are in New York according to their web site – Takashimaya, Woodley & Bunny, and also MIO MIA, which was the generous sponsor of the free sample offer; they also have several scents of this line on sale as the packaging has been redone and the scents in older packaging are being discounted, including Vert Pivoine. Beauty Café also carries the line and offers samples too. I think I need to try some more of their fragrances soon.

Image credit: Herbaceous Peony ‘Pink Delight’ from

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Giveaway Winners

The winner of Top 10 of Spring sample giveaway is MamaThinksForHerself.

The winner of the Pineapple wars draw is Icequeenaranxta.

Please send us your addresses using the Contact link on the right.

Thank you, everybody, for participating!

Bond No. 9 Mother’s Day Raffle

During the week preceding Mother’s Day (May 10th), Bond No. 9 will be holding a raffle for a year’s supply of Bond No. 9. (one bottle of the winner's choice per month) Any Bond No. 9 customer is welcome to enter, no purchase necessary. To sign up, stop at any Bond No. 9 boutique or at Saks Fifth Avenue*, Sunday, May 3rd - Saturday, May 9th. At the close of business on the 9th, the winning raffle at each store will be drawn at random and the winner informed that evening, in time for Mother’s Day.
"Who qualifies as an eligible mother? The regular, old-fashioned, all-forgiving, chicken-soup mother, to be sure. But also the career mother, the vamp mother, the shopaholic mother … any female on whom we’d ordinarily bestow a Mother’s Day gift. And hey, self-satisfying types are welcome to enter their own name. (We do not judge.)" (from Bond No. 9 press release)

*Bond No. 9 boutiques in New York City: 9 Bond Street • 680 Madison Avenue • 897 Madison Avenue • 399 Bleecker Street. Nationwide: Saks Fifth Avenue

Friday, April 24, 2009

Top 10 of Spring and a Prize Draw

Spring is finally in full swing, and so it is time to give a nod to the season by listing our favorite scents of the moment. Everybody at PST named one perfume they've been enjoying the most in the last months; below, is our collective Top 10 of Spring; please share with us your favorites!

Serge Lutens Santal Blanc. For the early days of spring, when neither the weather nor I can make up our minds, Santal Blanc is just the thing: warm and woody, but also light, clear and surprisingly floral. And if on certain days I smell like a very fine, fresh and expensive pencil, well, all the better for writing foolish springtime notes that I erase and begin again a dozen times before sending.

Christian Dior Diorissimo. It’s such a classic spring fragrance .....hopeful , green, pure and truly the most wondrous of the Lily of the Valley perfumes. My very romantic husband buys it for me and once my son told me that if he ever met a girl who wore it that she would be “the one”. It’s beauty, romance and passion in a bottle and forever springtime in New York, a fine glass of champagne and a stroll through the Cloisters!

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz Cielle - it's like the soft breath of fluffy clouds in a bottle, a beautifully balanced jasmine and mimosa blend that brings out the ethereal qualities of each flower.

Annick Goutal Eau d'Hardrien. No doubt about it. It's just fresh Sicilian lemons, grapefruit, cypress, and ylang ylang in the most perfect combination. This smells fantastic on a woman. I haven't smelled it yet on a man but I bet it would be great.

Hermes Un Jardin Apres la Mousson. I avoided it for a while on its reputation of aquatic melon, but I find that I love it for exactly that quality. The melon is more a refreshing watermelon than a clinging cantaloupe, and is dryly spiced by coriander, cardamom, and pepper that ground it in earthy dignity. The overall effect is ethereally springlike, and I feel right at home with the dragonflies, butterflies and hummingbirds when I wear it.

Abdul Samed Al Qurashi Thaqeel. That the heart of Thaqeel's refined, yet opulent, honeyed inflorescence is distilled from the bowels of a fungus-ravaged tree puts me in awe not only of nature's mysteries, but of (wo)man's ability to find and recognize that beauty can be found in destruction and decay.

Hermes Vanille Galante. What shouldn't have even been a spring fling turned out to be love. The unripe, slightly salty melon, the transparent lily, the almost non-existent vanilla, the pureness and joyful tranquility of a watery accord- my unexpected spring favorite.

Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil. The intensely sour, verdant top notes and soft green drydown are very refreshing and energizing. It's my summer staple, but this year, spring gave us a miss and summer's here already!

L'Artisan Fou d'Absinthe is a perennial favorite. It reminds me of my years in Europe and feels so right for New York. It was great in winter and is perfect in spring.

Le Labo Oud 27. Beautifully balances sour, salty and sweet, and (thankfully) has hassle -free availability.

If you would like to participate in a prize draw for a set of 10 samples, one of them Vanille Galante and the other 9 mystery "spring-like" fragrances [my pick! - Marina], say so in your comment. The winner will be announced on Tuesday. The draw is now closed.

And don't forget to check out other Top 10s of Spring at:

Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This and Perfume Posse.

Image © Perfume-Smellin' Things


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scent of Time by David Pybus. Part III. Mini Reviews

By Marla

Maya (soon-to-be-released): Maya is a rich floriental, verging on gourmand. Normally, I shun white florals and gourmands, as I prefer dry, green, or incense-laden masculines, but this is one case where I’ll make an exception. A yummy exception. Maya begins with deep, rich, chocolate, and a whiff of copal. I live in the Alps, and this is our local chocolate, which was of course brought here from the Americas. Copal resin is the traditional incense offered at sacred Maya sites. I’m one of the few who delights in Norma Kamali’s Incense, which is heavy, smoky copal, but this is very sheer, just a hint on the breeze. After a few minutes, the tropical florals kick in (sampaquita predominates) and it’s hard to avoid biting my own arm. Fortunately, the combination is neither overly sweet nor cloying, it’s just comforting and delicious. The drydown features vanilla and musk, with the cacao laid on lightly. Those looking for something akin to Kamali’s Incense will be disappointed, but floral and cacao lovers will be quite happy. It’s a very romantic perfume and makes me want to book a trip to Tikal.

Nenufar: This formula dates to 50BC, and was said to be used by Cleopatra to enthrall both Marc Antony and Julius Caesar. It is a soft floral aquatic, utilizing headspace blue lotus, accented by nutmeg, angelica, and almond. This is David’s personal favorite of his feminine line. For those perfumistas who loathe aquatics after having sniffed too much Calone in the 90s, fear not. The aquatic notes are very gentle in Nenufar. This is a very soft, feminine, powdery floral, feather light and perfect for spring days out in the garden. Angelica adds a touch of green, and the almond is blossom-soft, and bears no resemblance to marzipan. It’s very flirty, as it should be, considering the woman who made it famous. Sillage is minimal, and one would have to be in the flirty zone to smell this, so it would be very appropriate for situations where you don’t want to make too great an olfactory announcement.

Pyxis: Sperato, one of the unguentari (perfumers) of ancient Pompeii, had the good posthumous fortune to have his home, long buried in volcanic ash, unearthed several years ago. This perfume formula was created based on the analysis of burnt seeds found in his garden. Head notes are citrus, heart notes are rose and jasmine, and the base is incense and wood resins. This floral is stronger and more assertive than Nenufar, but still soft and feminine. Though a chypre, its heart is strongly floral and it’s definitely not unisex. Lasting power and sillage are both quite good, far better than most department store scents. While Nenufar could easily be worn during the day, Pyxis strikes me as an evening scent.

Ankh: Though this is David’ unisex/masculine, it’s my favorite of the line (with Maya coming in a close second). Ankh, his ancient Egyptian masculine, contains many of the principal ingredients of kyphi, the incense that was burnt either at sunset, or 3 times a day, (depending on the source) in the principal temples. The peppery opening is reminiscent of CdG’s Ouarzazate. Frankincense is of course the primary note, and Ankh can happily take its place with frankincense greats like Armani’s Bois d’Encens, CDG’s Avignon, and Duchaufour’s brilliant Amouage Jubiliation XXV. Any incense-craving perfumista in the UK, or who has a friend in the UK, or who is visiting the UK in the future, needs to try this one.

These four perfumes can be purchased through the British Museum Shop, and within the UK in various sizes at David’s own website, Scents of Time.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Nuit de Cellophane by Serge Lutens: Perfume Review

As undeniably pretty and conventional as a bouquet bought as a present, when one doesn't know what else to give - this is, to me, Nuit de Cellophane. Does that sound like a Serge Lutens scent to you? To me neither, but I am glad that it is not "an obvious Lutens perfume", i.e not oriental, not all base notes and does not have immortelle. For a long time now I wished the maitre would move on to pastures less dark, and Nuit de Cellophane might be a sign of such a move, or at least it might provide a welcome temporary break from the orientals.

Since I am not a French speaker, the "cellophane" part of the name seemed rather morbid to me at first in a Twin Peaks sort of way. But I got over it, and now feel that "cellophane" is there to point out the- probably intentional and stylized- conventionality of a composition. The crinkly, sparkly conventionality of transparent cellulose covering a bouquet of pastel roses. The generic aspect, to me, starts midway through the development of the scent. The beginning is actually very interesting, a bright, fresh fruity-green accord that blends already apricotty osmanthus with more (unripe) aprictots and something verdant and dry. There is liveliness and effervescence in the top notes of Nuit de Cellophane that I adore. When the blend becomes creamier, and what makes it so I am not sure (more osmanthus, jasmine, almonds, honey? all of the above?), it becomes, as a dear friend put it, a smell of a perfume section of Sephora. Sort of a collective image of various pleasantly smelling fruity-florals. The base notes continue on the creamy road, but make it a tiny bit darker, muskier and woodier; this is where, if you didn't know who created the scent, you might possibly, if you are super knowledgable of the line and super perceptive, intuit that it is by Lutens.

I do wish Nuit de Cellophane was all about the elegant vivacity of its top notes and nothing about cream and honey. Just like a cellophane wrapped bouquet of conventionally pretty pastel roses, this is not something I would buy for myself. Just like such a bouquet, this is something I would accept with much pleasure and enjoy...all the while secretly wishing that the giftor had more imagination and presented me with something like Tubereuse Criminelle instead.

Available at Aedes and Luckyscents, $120.00 for 50ml.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Upcoming Guerlain Releases

Some more information on upcoming Guerlain releases, and their name is a legion. First up, "Travel" trio of fragrances, Moscow, New York and Tokyo:

Moscow, described as ultra-feminine, has notes of pine needles, absinthe, cranberry, bergamot, jasmine, tonka, sandal, vanilla, white musk.

New York, inspired by NYC at Christmas and described as fresh, green, sparkling and sweet, has notes of mandarine, bergamot, pink berries, chestnut, cinnamon, orange blossom, cedar, patchouli, white musk

Tokyo- subtle, refined, fresh and clean, has notes of green tea, jasmine, violet, vanilla, hinoki.

Sophie: pettigrain, bitter orange, bergamot, orange blossom, jasmine, violet, ylang-ylang, tonka bean, incense, vanilla, white musk. Apparently, this fragrance will be available in bottles of different color to choose from.

Thierry Wasser is coming out with a new perfume that has the code name "Gold." It will be released in the US in Spring, 2010.

More information? Do share!


Weekend Beauty: Makeup tricks for older skin

By Donna

I never wore much makeup until my thirties, when I started to need a little extra help. Once I reached my forties, I became aware of the need to walk that fine line that so many women cross of not keeping makeup age-appropriate. Just as with clothing, wearing cosmetics in colors and styles intended for teenagers is far more aging than learning to accommodate the changes in your skin and facial structure. We mature ladies would look just as silly in cheek glitter and wacky metallic eye shadow as we would wearing belly shirts and cheerleader skirts.

I normally wear glasses, so eyeliner is a must, and the one thing I will put on even for a short grocery store run. I always wore a kohl-type black liner and thought I looked fine. Then I saw an episode of What Not To Wear that changed my life – Carmindy was doing a makeover on a middle-aged woman who always wore black eyeliner, and she used dark brown on her instead. The difference was so amazing that I went out and bought one. Lo and behold, it looked much more natural, and I looked well rested and five years younger! Needless to say I have been using it since, with occasional forays into L’Oreal HIP liner in the eggplant shade – its fabulous too. My favorite brown liner is Jane Gliding Liner in Velvet Brown, soft enough to smudge but never greasy or runny. Whatever brand you end up with should fit that description so it won’t be draggy and dry on your lids.

I also try to make sure my eye shadow is not too shiny, which is hard sometimes; many shades look matte in the package but once on the eye they are glittery or shiny. Try to get yours at a store where you can sample it first. A little highlighter is fine, especially for evening, but glittery shadow can look really garish if your lids are not what they used to be.

I made the switch to using mineral powder makeup a couple of years ago. At first I could not figure out what I was doing wrong, as I never got good coverage, and then a light bulb went on – it needs something to stick to! In colder weather, I use an oil-free tinted moisturizer as a base (Jane again) and then mineral foundation over that once it has set. I just use a foundation primer most days now that winter is over. My current favorite is Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy Luminizing Face Primer – whew! It has a slight sparkle that makes me look awake, and which is subtle enough to look good under the minerals. Oddly, I tried Smashbox Photo Finish with mineral foundation and it rolls off in layers when I apply the powder – the Carmindy stuff is a third of the price of that and it works much better.

I have tried several brands of mineral foundation and Bare Minerals is very good, as are Milani Minerals, Almay Pure Blends and L’Oreal Bare Naturale. (Yes, I would like to try more of the high-end brands, but mine is a drugstore budget.) I apply it with a large powder brush and/or a velour puff. The main trick is to find a mineral formula that does not get shiny when you buff it, and to not over-buff it. I like a finishing veil – the gold standard is Bare Minerals Mineral Veil, but I also like the Milani finishing powder and the L’Oreal. The finer the milling of the powder the more natural the results will be. I finish it off with powder blusher applied sparingly with a large Kabuki brush and swept up to the hairline at the temple; another Carmindy tip is to use a pink shade with some coral in it to lift the skin tone – if you are older and you still use a darker plum or deep rose blush like you used in the Eighties, it’s probably making you look older, unless your skin tone is very dark. Even women of color can benefit from a coral-toned blusher, however; it’s amazing how much fresher it looks than shades that veer toward the blue end of the spectrum.

As for lip color, I always loved dark tones when I was younger, including those purple-browns made famous by Urban Decay, lacquer reds, and deep berry tones. I can still get away with a darker color if it’s a sheer or a gloss, but I am really careful now and I stick mostly with shades that are fairly close in tone to my natural lip color. My lips are not all that full, and dark shades just make lips look thinner, especially when they are matte, so the rule is the opposite of the eye shadow rule: shine is good! Too much frost looks bad on everyone, but a glassy shine or subtle glaze is great for softening the appearance of a mature face. Just remember, too light is just as bad as too dark, beware of nudes, beiges and overly pale pinks that can make you look washed out and tired. And the biggest rule of all: No lip liner for you! Not unless it’s the invisible kind that just keeps your lipstick from bleeding. I have one of those but I don’t need it very often, since I am rarely found wearing a standard full-pigment lipstick these days. I like Ulta’s house brand of sheer lipstick shades, and glosses and balms of every kind, whether stick, wand or pot. Even a colorless gloss can work if you prefer to play up your eyes instead – pick either eyes or lips when you want to do an all-out glamour look, but not both. Only Joan Collins can get away with that.

Image credits: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis in Some Like it Hot, one of the funniest movies of all time,; Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired by Carmindy Luminizing Face Primer,

Happy Orthodox Easter!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Weekend Beauty - Nail Polish: For Audrey

Some polishes deserve posts dedicated just to themselves. And none is more worthy of such attention as For Audrey by China Glaze, THE shade that started my nail polish obsession. Nothing makes me more "divinely and utterly happy" than receiving a blue Tiffany box...well maybe receiving an orange Hermes one...and For Audrey is the exact match of that signature green-blue color.

For Audrey is a cream, it goes on smoothly and evenly, and needs no more than two coats to look exquisite. Even if it was a disaster quality-wise, it would still be worth it. Whenever I wear it and catch a sight of it on my nails, I can't help but think that, "oh golly gee damn", it's so pretty! Definitely one of my Top 10 shades.

China Glaze polishes are invariably great quality, come in a huge variety of colors and are reasonably priced. If you don't know them yet, it is worth seeking them out. Look for them at and

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Vanille Galante by Hermes: Perfume Review

"That time was like never, and like always.
So we go there, where nothing is waiting;
we find everything waiting there."
Pablo Neruda, Sonnet IV

When I really love a perfume, I am reluctant to analyze it. Breaking it into details will rob it of its magic. The tops notes of this, the heart accord of that, the hint of the other, perfumer's intention, the concept, the whys and the hows of it, none of that today! Does any of that matter? I never expected to love a vanilla created by Jean-Claude Ellena, and, having fallen in love with it, I don't want to know why. Nor do I believe it is possible to know why we love something or somebody. I don't mean "like", it is always possible to know the reasons of like...I don't love somebody for his brown eyes, sweet smile and sense of humor. I like him for that. I love him for no reason at all. I like the unripe, slightly salty melon of Vanille Galante, the cold lily note, the almost non-existence of vanilla, the pure, calm water in which the ingredients serenely flow, the pastel colorlessness of it all. But these are details. Details don't always add up to love and never explain it.

Why do I love the scent like that, which I was not meant to love at all? I am not a fan of vanilla, I am not fond of pared down compositions, I certainly don't appreciate aquatics. Is it quantum physics, molecular attraction, timing...? When there is no reasonable explanation- it's love.

Vanille Galante is available at Hermes boutiques, $235.00 for 100ml or $145.00 for a very convenient set of four 15ml bottles.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Green was my Saturday

By Tom

This week I decided I was not going to review anything from ScentBar or any of the rest of the usual suspects. I went to Longs Drugs thinking I'd go slumming, only to find the fragrances under lock and key. I cruised through Sephora and smelled several of the new Eaux des forgettables, ones whose names I don't even remember so incredibly self-effacing they were. Then I cruised through Bloomingdales, where I stopped at the Chanel counter.

If you are of a certain age and from the preppy East, if you are female you at one point wore Cristalle. If you're a man you knew women who did. Marina wrote of it as "perfect white dress of a scent" and it is; it's clear and cool with refulgent greenness that's as lovely as a spring day. It has a sly sillage that begs one to approach and bask in its glory. It's just a touch too girly for me (memories are hard to break), but I think it needs to be rediscovered.

The last stop was at the request of my friend, to Kiehl's store on Robertson, where she bought one of their excellent lotions and I tried the new "Forest Rain". It also opens green, with a piney soapiness that would be perfectly acceptable in a floor cleaner or car freshener, but is less alluring in an actual cologne. Like floor cleaner, that "Rainforest Fresh" accord has pit-bull tenacity, just less subtle. Luckily after four hours you're out of the woods as it were and free to try something else.

Cristalle is $70 for 2 ounces at Neiman Marcus, etc.

Forest Rain is $38.50 for 1.5 ounces anywhere Kiehl's is sold

Image source,

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Scents of Time: An Interview with David Pybus. Part II. Historical and Ancient Incense

By Marla

I continue my interview with chemist/archaeologist/perfumer David Pybus, of Scents of Time, with some questions about incense:

Marla: How is the recreation process different for incense and perfume?

David: Burning incense like frankincense (olibanum) for instance, you get over two hundred pyrolysis compounds- 60-plus of which are sesquiterpinoids. It’s highly complex chemistry – and the smokiness adds to the whole appeal…but it’s also all natural. Ask me the difference between natural and synthetic and I would say that there is something about a natural product. A kind of life force that cannot be seen or weighed…but that is what makes the difference and what can make the inhalation of incense smoke energizing or relaxing (depending on the mix). To me good incense is a mind-altering drug that just happens to be legal.

Marla: What’s your favorite type of incense and why?

David: I use a few different Kohs from Baiedo, ( my favourite being Kunshoko. As for why…the aroma is just so appealing to me and brings memories of my stay in Japan to learn the business.

Marla: How would you recommend someone go about learning to make incense.

David: Go to the masters- Japan/China…my particular recommendations would be Baiedo and Shoyeido. Forget the witchcraft websites! There are plenty of books (including mine). Just type “Kodo” or incense into Google/Amazon.

Marla: How does one make sense of the many different (and sometimes contradictory) sources for famous types of incense, such as ancient Egyptian kyphi? Is it possible to find out how it really smelled?

David: Again, go to the source. There seems to be a consensus in Egypt about the kyphi formula (forget the witchcraft sites again). Follow that precisely if you have the inkling and re-create your own. But remember, there may be carcinogens/toxins in higher than normal recommended levels in that mix and you are really experimenting with dangers. Especially burning the compound and inhaling the smoke. If in any doubt about any ingredient, leave it out.

Marla: Any anecdotes you’d like to share on discovering ancient incense, on the archaeological aspects?

David: Incense was mixed and ground in earthenware jars and stored in alabaster and the like. At archaeological sites (especially those preserved by disaster) look for strange ground discolourations around known mixing areas, scoop some up and burn it…is there an aroma reminiscent of powdered incense as opposed to burning dirt…if you think you’ve got something, put it through GLC/MS and see what its constituents are.

As far as formulae are concerned, search genuine old books on perfumery and grimoires on alchemy and the like.

As the rulers (pharaohs, emperors and the like) were God’s representatives on the planet and liked to smell like him, find a tomb, and you’ll find some incense. Whilst we say you can’t take it with you to the grave and afterlife, they of course did!

Finally if you go off on a far flung expedition, make sure you take things with you to either make you go to the loo or stop you going to the loo!

Image source, Scents of Time.

Note from David Pybus:

"I have decided it is easier and less complex webwise to bring the prices down in response to economic situation (...) and so from end of this week as a special spring seasonal offer the following will apply:
Ankh 100ml EDT from £55 to £40 (27% discount)
Nenufar and Pyxis 100ml EDPs from £60 to £45 (25% discount)
Nenufar. Maya and Pyxis 50 ml from £45 to £35 (22% discount)
Double packs of 2 x 50 ml mixes of Nenufar/Pyxis, Pyxis/Maya and Maya /Nenufar from £65 to £55 (15%)
No coding will be necessary to make the purchases."

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A fragrance that changed everything: Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel

By Donna

Back in 1978 a perfume sensation hit the department store shelves of the U.S.A. Packaged in a dreamy abstract floral design, Anaïs Anaïs really made people sit up and take notice. It was a fresh but heady green floral built around the elusive white lily, Lilium candidum, known commonly as the Madonna lily for its long association with purity and religious symbolism but rarely used as the main floral accord in perfumery. It was truly like nothing else, and furthermore, most of us had never even heard of Cacharel, a French house formerly known more for fashion than fragrance. The marketing blitz was complete; for this new perfume sensation came in every form you could think of from shower gel to a skin-silkening dry oil spray and was supported by a lush ad campaign. I fell for it myself the minute I smelled it. I was young and looking for a more grown-up perfume than what I had been wearing (don’t ask – okay, it was Babe by Fabergé). Anaïs Anaïs was perfect. It was one of the few fragrances I can recall that really was as good as its publicity. It also spawned a host of imitators, some good and others not so hot; by far the best to follow in its footsteps was the original Jessica McClintock fragrance, which I also wore a lot back in the day. Both had a pure yet heady aura and were decidedly feminine and very girly, in a good way. Both featured cool white flowers and green notes with a high, sweet backbeat, a combination I will always love.

Years passed and Anaïs Anaïs remained popular, but things began to happen in the Cacharel brand. New scents were introduced, and products began to disappear from the Anaïs Anaïs lineup. It had been available in two formulations that quickly became my favorites – a pure Parfum and a heavily scented bath oil. Never has the concept of different strengths and formulations of a perfume been so clear to me – talk about night and day. On the upper end of the spectrum was the Parfum – this was quite simply the most beautifully romantic perfume I had ever smelled, a distillation of pure white flowers centered on the white lily and muguet, and an ethereal dream of a scent. Its polar opposite was the bath oil, a heavy, viscous deep amber potion that showcased the sexy, indolic side of the lily and hyacinth notes and emphasized the wood and incense. I did use this as a bath oil, but my preference was to use it as perfume; just a tiny dab lasted for hours on end and made me feel very daring. The Parfum was discontinued first, and then the bath oil went away. I got the last bottle in town and hoarded it for years. If I had know that the Parfum would disappear I would have found a way to get more of it before the axe fell. I had to settle for the Eau de Parfum from then on, but guess what? That started getting hard to find as well, and eventually only the Eau de Toilette remained on the shelves. If you try you can still find the Eau de Parfum online at the better discounters, but it’s highly unusual to see it in a store, at least in this country. I stopped wearing this fragrance after a while except for my precious bottle of the bath oil. It’s still sold everywhere in the Eau de Toilette form, which to me is the least interesting; I preferred the EDP as it brought out the lily note more prominently.

Cacharel kept introducing new scents, and continues to do so now, but they have never hit the jackpot that way again. Their biggest success to date other than Anaïs Anaïs was Noa, followed by its flankers Noa Fleur and Noa Perle, all of which are nice but not innovative, and rather tame to my nose. Despite its pastel packaging, Anaïs Anaïs was a bold departure in style. Just imagine seeing these listed notes (from the Fabulous Fragrances maven Jan Moran) thirty years ago, and what an unusual formula it still is for a mainstream scent. If it were released today, and you smelled it for the first time you might think it was from some avant-garde niche house:

Top Notes: White Madonna lily, blackcurrant bud, hyacinth, lily-of-the-valley, citrus
Heart Notes: Moroccan jasmine, Grasse rose, Florentine iris, Madagascar Ylang- ylang, orange blossom, Bourbon vetiver, California cedarwood, Singapore patchouli, Yugoslavian oakmoss
Base Notes: Russian leather, musk

I have been testing it on my skin again recently, and trying to separate my nostalgia for it from its true character, much as one would read letters from an old lover and think mostly of the good times, forgetting how they broke your heart so long ago. And you know what? I still love it, and I still believe it is a great perfume destined for classic status. I believe it has been done a great disservice by having its best incarnations taken off the market, but that does not change how I feel about it. It started my long love affair with both green florals and lily scents that continues unabated today. It has outlasted many other “new sensations” in perfumery and still has legions of loyal fans, not all of whom are under 21 either. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this most unabashedly romantic of perfumes.

Image of the elusive Anaïs Anaïs Eau de Parfum from

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Lotus Blossom & Water Lily and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily: The Kohdo Wood Collection by Jo Malone

The Kohdo Wood limited edition collection made a brief appearance in 2008 and has been re-introduced again this year. I managed to miss it last time, so I cannot compare the fragrances, but I assume they were not reformulated. The fragrances are homage to Kohdo, "the ancient Japanese art of incense appreciation". Both, therefore, have a resinous undertone, however, lovers of hardcore incensey incense should not expect to get their fix here. Incense is fairly subtle in both perfumes (stronger in Dark Amber) and serves more as a balancing tool.

In the case of Lotus Blossom & Water Lily it balances the fresh wateriness of the floral accord keeping it from becoming too aquatic and too transparent. It gives body to the ethereal composition and infuses it with a hint of darkness. I wrote before that I am in a mood for fresh floral fragrances right now, and LB&WL is exactly what I am in a mood for. The scent is a sip of cold water on a hot day. It is a gauze of pure-white, fragile petals...I could go on. I love it. Jo Malone copy warns about "aquatic nuances", but, even though present, the watery element is not agressive. It is, moreover, a necessary and attractive part of the composition. That wateriness is what evokes an image of lotus and lily, what gives the scent its transluscency and what contrasts so beautifully with the darkness of incense. Sometimes ,the scent is completely dry, cold and "pure" on my skin, sometimes ,the sweetness of freesia, mandarin and lily is more apparent. I love it more when it is coldly innocent.

Dark Amber & Ginger Lily is indeed a dark(er) scent. The black angel to the snow-white one of Lotus Blossom. It is sweeter, more full-bodied, a sensual, languid fragrance. It starts with a hit of pepper and ginger, which simultaneously announces both incense (which, to me, has a very obvious peppery undertone) and lily. The floral accord, which includes rose and jasmine, is ripe and candied and brings out both the balsamic sweetness of amber and the heady honey-like quality of ginger lily. Were there no incense to keep it in check, it could have been too sweet. As it is, every ingredient in the composition makes sense in regards to every other ingredients, everything is in there for a reason; I love it when a scent is so well-blended. I don't want to scare anyone off by repeatedly using the word "sweet". DA&GL is indeed sweet, but it is Jo Malone sweet, as in - still rather transparent. To bring down the sweetness, layering with Lotus Blossom works wonders.

Both are available for a limited time at Jo Malone boutiques, Bergdorf Goodman, etc., $55.00-$100.00. The collection also includes bath oil and candle in both fragrances.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Weekend Beauty - Bath & Body: Jo Malone Sweet Lime & Cedar Body Cream and Shower Gel

Here is a shameful confession for you: I am too lazy to moisturize. I wait until my already dry skin becomes totally parched, go through a week of panicked use of body creams and lotions, get some kind of result and lapse into laziness again. It is just too much effort! (I wish I somebody would do it for me, why am I not Cleopatra?) There are times, however, when I get so enamored with a scent of a product that I use it regularly and it doesn't feel like an effort. Never has been my skin more smooth and moisturized than when I had Amouage Gold Body Cream. What gorgeous, rich fragrance, so very similar to actual perfume, what luxurious texture...but I digress. This is about my newest obsession, Jo Malone's Sweet Lime & Cedar bath and body collection.

The cologne, released last year, although lovely, was a tad too harsh for me. I never thought I would say it, but it was too woody. I fact, it was borderline too masculine on my skin, and you know that I wear masculine scents! And it was a shame really, because I was very attracted to the Thai overtones and adored the notes of cardamom, tamarind and coconut that made the citrusy composition that much more interesting. If by any chance you had the same issue with the cologne, get the cream. It has none of the arid woodiness of the former and, altough it retains the overall dry quality of the blend, is a touch sweeter and "creamier"-smelling. The coconut is more pronounced as is cardamom. Combined with lime, the effect the notes produce is mouthwatering. This is a creamy, dreamy exotic drink of a fragrance, refreshing more so than sweet. I will need a whole lot of this cream for warm weather to wear in lieu of a perfume (or under perfume, see below). The texture of the cream answers all my requirements: it is non-greasy, non-sticky and absorbs very fast.

The matching shower gel smells a little bit more citrusy, brighter somehow, to my nose, which is a good thing, as it would be perfect to wake me up in the morning. There also exists, in the collection, a dry body oil, but that would be too much for the lazy me. I will leave that for when I am Cleopatra.

Jo Malone advises to layer Sweet Lime & Cedar products with their Nutmeg & Ginger, which, I imagine, would do wonders to bring out the sweet piquancy of the notes. It would also go well with any citrusy or citrusy-, fresh-floral fragrance. For example, the fragrance of the cream compliments perfectly my beloved Puredistance. It also gets on like a house on fire with Malone's Dark Ambre & Ginger Lily, enhancing the spicy quaity of the latter and making the perfume a little less sweet. More on Kohdo Wood colognes tomorrow.

Sweet Lime & Cedar collection is available at Jo Malone, $75.00 for 175ml of body cream, $50.00 for 250ml of shower gel.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Weekend Beauty - Nail Polish: Dusty Purples

Dusty Purple is my favorite kind of purple. It is such a chic color, I find no other way to describe it. Just purple is nice but ordinary. Add to it some dust/grayness/dirt, and it becomes a little odd and much more unique.

(From the darkest to the lightest)

The most stylish dusty, or rather - dirty purple extraordinaire is, to me, Metro Chic by OPI for Sephora. Yes, I included it last week in the selection of my favorite mushroomy colors, but that is what's great when a shade is so multi-faceted, you can categorize it so many different ways.

Parlez-Vous Opi? became a classic in its category at the moment of its release last year, and it's easy to see why, this shade of purple, with its slightly dirty undertone, is gorgeous. It might be just a tiny bit too dark for me. I love mu purples either lighter or dirtier than this. Still- a must have for fans of unordinary purples. The application is problem-free, as is mostly the case with OPI.

Pharaoh's Purple is from Nubar's brand new Cleopatra collection. I predict that it will be just as popular as Parlez-Vous. The two colors are very similar...and yet different enough that a ...let's call it connoisseur would want to have both. The difference is hard to decsribe. Pharaoh's Purple strikes me as a warmer and more muted color, devoid of blue undertones. It is also slightly lighter than Parlez-Vous. Of the two, the Nubar is my favorite. The application and texture of this polish is impeccable.

Misa Heartbreak has a slight duochrome (hints of pink shine in its purple) effect, which is not what I ordinarily like, but just look at this gorgeous gray-purple. A chic, melancholy, hard-to-describe shade that applies easily, wears long and costs just $2.99.

OPI Done Out in Deco is Parlez-Vous' lighter cousin. Along with Who's Wearing What, it is exactly the shade of purple I love, darkness-wise, and has just enough "dust" in it to make it a little edgy and not just pretty.

Same goes for China Glaze's gem from some time ago, Who's Wearing What. To a normal person someone not into nail polish, it would look pretty much the same as Deco. A polish maniac will see subtle but essential differences. As was the case with Parlez-Vous and Pharaoh's Purple above, WWW has less blue in its purple than DOiD, is warmer and more muted. Application and quality- sublime.

And, although it is not dusty and not even an obvious purple per se, but just because I love it so much, here is another new shade from Nubar, from the same Cleopatra collection, Isis Purple:

This was love at first sight for me, an immediate holy grail. In a course of two days, while wearing Isis, I received more compliments on my polish then in a course of my life. I am not exaggerating. There is something special about this pink-purple shade. It stands out, but is not too bright, and I think the amount of pink and the amount of purple in it are so perfectly balanced. The quality of this nail polish is amazing, it was basically good enough to wear after one coat. My absolute favorite in Cleopatra collection and, right not, my favorite polish period.

Available at Sephora, Trans Design, 8ty8beauty and Bynubar.

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Thursday, April 09, 2009

Spring Awakening Event at Guerlain, NYC

La Maison de Guerlain at Bergdorf Goodman will be holding Spring Awakening event, a private luncheon, which will take place on Saturday, April 18th, 2009 at Alfredo of Rome, 4 West 49th Street at Rockefeller Center from 12:00 to 3:00 pm.

Guest Speakers & National Director of Fragrance & Beauty Raymond Western will be previewing Guerlain’s new fragrances & beauty for 2009, including an upcoming release of Tokyo/Moscow/New York trio of perfumes.

The attendees will be treated to a Complimentary Brunch, cocktails and "Fragrance Departure Gift." In addition, any purchases made that day will receive $25 off their purchase of $100 or more and an additional Beauty Gift.

Admission is free and spaces are limited; you can RSVP by calling Jason Beers, (212) 872-2734

Party Time!

By Tom

I know I'm late to the party (PerfumePosse got here there in September), but these are new to LuckyScent, and, well, okay they aren't that new but the samples are sitting here and I'm lazy.

The Party in Manhattan is what Colombina would call a Proper Perfume; something that isn't necessarily clearly one scent. It's also a proper perfume in as much as it's not anything shy or retiring. This isn't even a little black dress of a perfume: it's an Jean Louis gown with opera-length gloves. I'm just going to copy and paste the ingredients from LuckyScent: Bergamot, tangerine, clary sage, carnation, carrot, jasmine, May rose, ylang ylang, iris, vetiver, patchouli, oakmoss, and gray amber. I'm going to add that there's a big dose of skank in there in that old-school perfume way we don't see much of anymore. I'd like to see more.

The Ten Party is the stalwart companion to the seductive PinM, with it's bergamot/lemon/lavender opening it could be redolent of about 10 other things, but it isn't. It's clean and handsome, with a woody/musky drydown that's gorgeous. I could easily see the vixen who wears Party in Manhattan filching some from her conquest to freshen up before breakfast is delivered, in bed of course.

Party in Manhattan is $265 for 50ML, which is enough to last you until doomsday. Ten Party is $160 for 100ML, at LuckyScent.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Scents of Time: An Interview with David Pybus. Part I. Historical and Ancient Perfumes

By Marla

During my last trip to London, I sojourned as always to my favorite haunt, the British Museum. This time I actually made it to the gift shop before I collapsed from cultural fatigue, and noticed a display of three perfumes by a company called Scents of Time. They were delightful and intriguing, so I managed to make contact with the chemist/archaeologist/perfumer/mastermind of Scents of Time, David Pybus, aka the Indiana Jones of perfumistas, and he agreed to a few Q&A sessions for this blog.

David was a longtime chemist at Boots and ICI, then in marketing in Quest International (now Givaudan) with a passion for archaeology and history, and when he left Givaudan, he founded Scents of Time in order to recreate historical and ancient perfumes. Nenufar and Ankh are his and hers scents of ancient Egypt, Pyxis is based on constituents found in the ruins of Pompeii, and his newest, Maya, is based on the fragrant rituals of that ancient people. David has also studied incense making with the famous house of Baiedo in Japan, and has published extensively on the history of incense.

Marla: What started you on the path to perfume, and what came first, perfumery or archaeology?

David: Chemistry came first with the degree and I have always been in the business of chemistry. But as a youngster I was fascinated by books and stories on Lost Cities, Conan and the like. Leonard Cottrell was an inspiration.

Marla: What is the most outrageous thing that has happened to you while you were pursuing an ancient or historical perfume?

David: In Pompeii I had the feeling I was dealing with the Mafia with one of the companies down there, but it may be their Neopolitan mentality of work – all local control. I always get major stomach problems when visiting Egypt! In Mexico I was chased by a taxi full of police trying to get a “mordida” (bribe) for failing to stop at a red light. It wasn’t on red- I was just another gringo target.

Marla: What is the hardest part of recreating a long-gone scent? How do you cope with that? Can you give an example?

David: Ensuring the perfumer sticks rigidly to the brief to re-create as best as possible, and not go off on an exploratory tangent. Only regular management can control this. With Ankh the formula clearly gave the ingredients, but making a liquid fragrance smell like a burning incense was a challenge

Marla: Say I was fascinated with Medieval Japan, and the Tale of Genji. I want to make a perfume and incense that reflect that era. How would I go about doing that?

David: Read my book “Kodo the Way of Incense”. I spent some time in Japan with Baiedo making incense. I think in this instance I could research either the specialist incense formulations made in the game or research along the Silk Road (which was also the Incense Trail). Either way, aloeswood/jinko/eaglewood (El Oud in Arabia) would have to be apart of it as that is the prize aromatic material of them all in this part of the world.

Marla: Has the internet made things easier or more complicated in searching for, and recreating, scents?

David: The ten scents I have were early created from finds or reading mostly in pre- internet times, but the Internet certainly widens the area of search. My first two clues (the Titanic and Pompeii) were picked up from newspaper articles.

Marla: Assuming human civilization continues for a few thousand years more, what do you think the archaeologists of the future will have to say about mainstream perfumes of our time?

David: Some classics (about one a decade) and lots of unadulterated (and adulterated) rubbish. Pandering to the cult of celebrity and dramatic designers. Aromatically described by “marketing lovelies” who use terms like “pink musk “and mahogany” with absolutely no knowledge of what they’re talking about. And an industry which has prostituted itself for the sake of the Emperor’s clothes. The age of scent saturation. But more science coming in, more use where feasible of natural products and an effective use of about six of the over one hundred elements of the universe (that is pretty restricted creation).

Also it is a watershed where some in the industry (notably Michael Edwards) are trying to open the magic box of perfume and educate the consumer. Many in the industry don’t want that to happen. They want consumers to be brand loyal…and so the less said about what’s in the perfumes and how they relate to one another the better it would seem.

Marla: How have recent IFRA regulations shaped scent recreation? Many key natural ingredients such as bergamot, and historically important aromachemicals like nitro musks, are now highly restricted. Can a historical scent be made as accurately as possible, solely for display in a museum or for educational purposes, or is this no longer possible either?

David: Put simply, a balance has to be struck. In my case, obviously with a commercial objective, I need to approach the aroma as well as possible whilst remaining toxicologically safe. Also I use the universal modern solvent of choice – alcohol, not olive oil, argan oil, almond oil. I don’t see any point (apart from an academic one) in recreating a historical scent to put in a museum where no one will be able to smell it.

Marla: What perfumes are you researching for possible future releases?

David: I can’t be specific with this at the moment. Suffice to say on a time line, one is at 2100AD, and the other at around 1550 BC.

One I would love to find but think improbable is that of Genghis Khan. They say a whole river was diverted to hide his burial place, and all those who saw the procession to it were murdered. I’m sure there will be lots of choice incense there along with other treasures. And Cleopatra’s tomb remains to be found. As does Alexander’s, both lovers of fine incense and perfume.

To be continued next Wednesday.

Scents of Time can be purchased through the British Museum Shop, and within the UK in various sizes at David’s own website,

Image source, Scents of Time.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Anya McCoy Temple: Perfume Review

By Beth

There are reasons that my son calls me an old hippy! For one thing, since he was a little boy his home has been filled with a vast collection of drums , feathers, crystals and strangers wandering in and out at all strange times of the day in search of soothing reiki and soul retrievals. His early years were spent traveling with his father and me to a lovely retreat center in the forests of Southern Ohio to a place called Lotus Lodge which is run by a lovely woman named LaWanna Rine. Lotus Lodge was the first place that I ever came to understand how fragrance and healing were inextricably linked. LaWanna is a wonderful old soul who is gifted with a profound knowledge of herbs, essential oils and all of their properties. She believes profoundly in the existence of many Ascended Masters and she dresses everyday in beautiful colors, she will never wear black. She has the most amazing collection of costume jewelry that I have ever seen and is never without at least 10 pieces of it. She is without a doubt the most gorgeous 85 year old woman that I’ve ever seen, she only looks to be about 70. She is filled with songs and the most amazing energy that carries her up her hills for long walks with her dogs everyday. She always smells wonderful, covered with the herbs and oils that are her allies. She’s sophisticated and utterly luminous at the same time. For the sake of many of the old hipsters who may be lurking here, meeting her for the first time is a bit like meeting your fairy godmother while you’re tripping. I’m sure that anyone my age will know exactly what I mean! Did I mention that she has crystals everywhere the size of boulders?

Walking into Lotus Lodge for the first time is a purely pleasurable assault on the senses. There is always a fire in the woodstove and a pot of fresh herbal tea simmering in the kitchen. LaWanna’s always baking something wonderful too, gluten free and vegan. After many hugs , she looks at you and assesses what you need. Most often, it’s an essential oil and hot stone massage in her wonderful treatment room with Enya playing and plenty of time to relax. Sometimes, she will draw you a warm bath with candlelight in her old clawfoot tub, to which she will have added epson salts, oils and the fresh tinctures that she makes from plants that she grows and uses for their healing properties. One beautful summers day she brought her massage table out onto her vast porch which overlooks the artesian spring and her beautiful woods. When I asked what I was supposed to do, she laughed , told me to take my clothes off and she proceeded to give me a massage with the most wonderfully fresh watermelon pulp . Then she rinsed it all off with warm herbal water and used her special blend of almond oil and essential oils to finish. To say that I was in heaven is nothing short of an understatement. Whatever she chooses for you that day is exactly what you need and you always leave refreshed , filled with optimism and plenty of treats!

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve made the drive to Lotus Lodge and everyday I think of LaWanna. One of the joys of my perfumed life online has been the ability to connect with that part of myself that is so moved by beautiful fragrance and meet others who feel the same way. I arrived home one day last month to find a gift from one such soul. Many of you know Anya McCoy, the wonderful natural perfumer who was gifted the Natural Perfumers Guild by its founder Mandy Aftel, whom I have worshiped from afar ever since I read her first book , “Essence and Alchemy”. Anya is a classically trained perfumer who is passionate about using only natural ingredients and she is generous about sharing her vast knowledge and passionate understanding of her craft. Her perfumery is called “Anya’s Garden” and there really is an Anyas Garden, it is the magical place that she calls her home in Miami, Florida and although I’ve never seen it I can only wish to be there right now. Anya is a trained botanist and her garden is filled Jasmine , fragrant trees and many other fragrant plants which she tinctures and uses to create her incredibly beautiful natural perfumes. The description of her home and the beauty of her creations make me think of LaWanna all of the time. Anya is indeed a healer in her own right and her medicine is the magic of fragrance alchemy.

I live in Cleveland for most of the year and we are known for our unbelievably cold and dismal winters. Returning home home from California in February after spending an evening flying over the frozen midwest I was greeted by 2 weeks worth of mail and the sigh of little package. My heart leapt when I saw the postmark Miami Florida and I ripped it open. Inside was a lovely box wrapped in a pretty Chinese ribbon and I noticed immediately that it was recycled and plantable, filled with the promise of this summers wildflowers! Then I opened it. Inside were 5 little vials , all beautifully marked and packaged with care. I opened them one by one and was immediately flooded with sensations of place and people. Each one of them took me somewhere different and I fell in love with them all. I loved their names, Fairchild, Kaffir, Pan, River Cali and Temple. They all have different personalities, Fairchild is flirty and makes me giggle with it’s sweetness, Kaffir is sophisticated and filled with lime and wood and makes me feel very chic. Pan is simply sexy, green and bawdy , a perfect fragrance to wear anytime that you want to send a very clear message about your sensual intentions. Pan is not subtle and because it’s natural it works on a very pure and direct level to stir your energies. River Cali brought tears to my eyes with it’s pink peppercorn accords and roses because it smells so clearly of my beloved La Jolla.

Then there was Temple. I have never smelled anything quite like Temple and I love it. The description of Temple is “Hope , Faith and Strength in orange, borneal crystals, aglaia, cassia, Ayurvedic herbs and sustainable Oud grounded with earth tincture. “ I have never smelled a fragrance before that instantly made me peaceful. The initial scent is of a wonderful smoke and it fades remarkably into a dripping sensual warmth. I literally felt bathed in earth and I love that feeling. But it wasn’t a dank dark was a sweet, crystalline earth that enveloped my senses and made me languorous , playful and very very amorous. Temple is a fragrance that you wear to bed with nothing else, it demands to be worn and be worshiped. It is a perfume to be savored and kissed. From the minute that I opened the bottle I was smitten and I don’t think that I will ever be able to live without it. Anya McCoy’s Temple is one of those rare perfumes that lingers long after it’s gone, and the thought of it warms me to the core much like the touch of a lover who knows......

Temple can be ordered directly from Anya at her beautiful website -

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Monday, April 06, 2009

In Which I Am Hard to Please

It is difficult to please me with fruity scents, because, and I will freely admit it, my set of rules keeps changing. Ordinarily, I would maintain that the less fruit the better. So I feel bad saying what I am about to say regarding Parfums Delrae's new perfume, Emotionelle...It is too perfumey, and the "perfumey" part does not let me enjoy the delicious juiciness of melon in full. Don't get me wrong, I think, the scent is sublime. It is gracefully delicate and intense at the same time. The "perfumey" part is, I suppose, constituted of cedar, vetiver, labdanum and spices...I was tempted to write, cumin, but I might be making it up. Imagine Diorama, Diorella or Le Parfum de Therese, imagine that very specific, very recognizable something that most if not all Edmond Roudnitska's creations have. Something perfumey and dirty, and I mean both as a compliment. And add to that E. Roundnitska base a lot of melon. A LOT of melon. (Yes, the three scents I mentioned already have some anyway.) Basically, I would describe Michele Roudnitska's Emotionelle as equal parts melon and Edmond Roudnistka. And - it pains me to type this - in this particular instance, I wish there was less of the latter here. So much perfumey-ness just does not go with so much melon, in my humble opinion. SOME melon, as in Le Parfum de Therese, for example, is a perfect, playful, joie de vivre twist that puts a smile on a chic face of the maitre's compositions. But when there is a lot of both the fruit and the chic perfuminess, it just does not work for me. I guess, because I love melon so, if there is a lot of it in a fragrance, that is ALL I want to smell in a fragrance.

Not so with peaches. Having gone on about how there is too much perfume in Emotionelle, I feel awkward criticizing MDCI's Peche Cardinal for not being perfumey enough. But there you have it. It is not. It is too peachy. Peachy is childish, too girly, invariably smells too chemical in such quantities, and it makes me uncomfortable. Especially when it is blended with coconut. I love the slight booziness of davana in Peche Cardinal and I enjoy the elegance of the musky-woody base. I am guessing, the creators were aiming for a modern take on a peachy chypre, trying to do a playful take on a classic. For me, they might need to do take two. Having said that, I was trying to come up with a single name of a peach fragrance I love, and failed. So it is actually unfair of me to critisize Peche Cardinal at all. When it comes to peach, I am not just hard but impossible to please.

Both available at Luckyscent, Emotionelle for $135.00, Peche Cardinal for $235.00-$610.00.

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Weekend Beauty - Bath & Body: Confessions of a Bathaholic

By Donna

Okay, I admit it – if I had the means, I would have closets and cabinets stuffed full of yummy things for bathing, showering and moisturizing. I have fantasies about jars of Frederic Malle Beurre Exquis in every scent they make, and obscure Japanese spa rituals involving herbal wraps, aroma therapeutic steam and hot tubs (oh, and Takeshi Kaneshiro). Alas, my budget is somewhat less than the GNP of a small dictatorship, so I have to find creative ways to indulge without breaking the bank.

I have really dry skin below the neck, and if I am not really careful in the winter I get as scaly as a reanimated Velociraptor, without the agility. I found out recently that I officially have eczema, and not just dry patches, so I have been extra conscious of what I need to do to stay smooth and hydrated.

Sometimes I want unscented products so they won’t clash with my perfume. My new discovery for moisturizing is CeraVe cream and lotion, recommended by my dermatologist. It has the same ceramide complex ingredients touted by expensive department store lines. For the first time in years my elbows don’t resemble industrial grade sandpaper, and my eczema patches were pretty much gone in a week. The other good news is that it comes in really big containers, is sold at major drugstore chains, and is reasonable priced. For shaving, I go for Trader Joe’s unscented cream shave, it’s really rich and soothing. But I really prefer the Honey Mango scent; it’s out of this world.

I seem to find exactly what I want in the way of bath products just to have them discontinued. I used to get the Le Couvent des Minimes line at Bath & Body Works, when they had the luscious Orange Blossom body cream and other lovely products in the group. Of course, that is no more, as is the Henri Bendel line of really great bath & shower gels. I am hoarding my last bottle of the Orange Blossom bath gel for summer use. Nowadays I haunt TJ Maxx for discounted items, and you would be surprised what you can get for next to nothing, and not just obscure no-name brands either. Recent finds include Jaqua Beauty Buttercream Frosting Shower Syrup and Ann Taylor body lotion in Orange Nectar & Honeysuckle – I may need some more of this in another “flavor,” it is really good stuff. Bath & Body works has not abandoned me altogether; I am a fan of the Warm Vanilla Sugar body lotion, and they still have True Blue Spa - my favorites are the monoi oil-infused Be More Pacific bath & shower cream and the silky-smooth Tahiti, Sweetie hand & body lotion. Speaking of tropical, you simply cannot beat The Body Shop’s Mango body butter. (Another confession – I am addicted to anything with mango, whether it’s edible or not.)

For upscale treats, some of my favorite fragrances are popular enough to have ancillary products too – I adore my Lady Caron body milk, which is highly perfumed enough to use alone; just a dab or two works as well as a spritz of the Eau de Parfum. You can get all kinds of Fracas-scented creams, lotions and bath items. And if I won the lottery, I would collect the awesome Annick Goutal bath products in a number of scents. I can’t imagine a more luxurious way to relax than in a Gardenia Passion bubble bath. On the other hand, I had better not buy that – I would never leave the house again.

Image credit: “Bubble Bath” pattern fabric swatch from

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