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Friday, July 31, 2009

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine White Moss

The story goes that the new installment in the Private Collection series was based on a formula for a fragrance left unfinished during the lifetime of Estée Lauder, and for once I believe the press release. The substantionality and the classic structure of the blend the green buttery bitterness of which reminds me of Lauder's orginal Private Collection and Azurée, and a certain "not-of-this-time-ness", convince me that the legendary "Formula #546AQ" was in fact used to built upon in the creation of Jasmine White Moss. The fragrance has a retro feel, not because the scent is old-fashioned but because they just don't make them like that anymore.

It is also obvious that an initial mix was infused with a touch of contemporary. There is a juicy, brisk freshness of citrus and black currant in the top notes that is quite au courant; and the base, although undeniably and luxuriously chypre, has that "mineral" pepperiness which, to me, is a characteristic of modern chypres. The fragrance has "moss" in the title, but this is "White Moss Mist"(an Estee Lauder exclusive), not actual (oak)moss. Not that it takes away from the richness and beauty of the composition.

Green florals might be my favorite floral category (it also might be the least represented right now, lets' hope that the new Private Collection fragrance will revive the trend) and, of the three scents in the Private Collection, Jasmine White Moss is the one I like the most, even more so than the luminous Tuberose Gardenia. I find nothing to criticize in JWM: I love the crisp, dry and yet dewy top notes, I love how much galbanum I smell in the mix, I cannot get enough of the luxuriant heart of jasmine made creamy or rather, I will use the word again- buttery by the addition of ylang-ylang and orris. I appreciate how the earthiness of patchouli and the raw verdancy of vetiver are tamed into a refined, old-world chypre base. I love how rich and long-lasting the fragrance is and yet how it wears without being in the least overwhelming.

And I would lie if I said that I am not drawn to the blue and white ornament of semi-precious jade, lapis, sodalite, agate, mother of pearl and agate that adorn the cap of Parfum and the case of solid perfume.

Private Collection Jasmine White Moss is available at Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, etc., $80.00-$325.00.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Amouage Lyric Man

By Tom

Sheer laziness this week and the butt end of the flu made me not want to actually venture out of the house much this weekend. Luckily I have samples that I got but for some reason never reviewed, for one reason or another. Lyric Man is one of them, and one sniff reminded me why: While Colombina's description is sooo divine, the last paragraph reads just like me. Well, perhaps the Harlequin Romance version of me.

The fragrance is a very nice one, mind you. A lovely rose that's backed by demure spices and creamy woods. I guess my only problem with it is frankly price. At $245 for 50MLs I am unconvinced. I suppose the idea is that since it's only about another $50 to double the size I should consider the larger one a bargain, but I am afraid that there are other roses out there that do this sort of thing in a more definite and for me more interesting way for less money, like Rose d'Homme or Le Labo Rose 31. For that matter, I think if I was in a mood for roses in this vein, knowing my dark brooding heart (which is I am sure in there somewhere..) I might just go for broke and spritz a tiny bit of dear Uncle Serge's paen to the flower layered with a little Gris Clair. Two for the price of one and you got basically the same effect.

Amouage $245 for 50ML, $290 for 100 ML at LuckyScent. (100ML available at Aedes)
Gris Clair and Sa Majeste La Rose $120 for 50ML at Aedes, LuckyScent and Barneys
Rose 31 $130 for 30ML at Le Labo and LuckyScent
Rose d'Homme $125 for 100ML, at Aedes

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Creed Acqua Fiorentina: Perfume Review

Acqua Fiorentina, the new perfume from Creed, may have been inspired by the 15th century Florence, but, for me, it went so wonderfully well with the 21st century East Coast of Atlantic ocean, this American paradise of Colonial and Federal buildings, lighthouses, dunes, windmills and a general feeling of affluent tranquility and refined rusticity.

The composition is centered on the aroma of greengage plum. Lovers of plum in fragrance, take note. The slighly sweet, slightly tangy, slightly green and a lot mouthwatering scent of unripe plums is astoundingly true to life. The accord makes appearance right in the beginning and stays throughout the scent's development. In fact, hours and hours into the wearing, the plums is the predominant note in the drydown of this unexpectedly long-lasting fragrance. I say, unexpectedly, because one does not assume such longevity in a scent so ethereal. The perfume is a gentle light-pink gauze of young rose and carnation petals and new fruits, airy, soft and joyful. A perfect balance of honeyed sweetness and dry verdancy, a scent at once sublimely ellegant and charmingy innocent.

Acqua Fiorentina will be available in September at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, $130.00-$350.00. A portion of proceeds from US sales in October will benefit the National Breats Cancer Coalition Fund.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Parfums 137 Hollywood Stromboli 1950 and Nara 1869: A study in contrasts

By Donna

Over the past few months I had been reading quite a lot of buzz about the new fragrance trios from Parfums 137, a line which I had never heard of before, and I now have them both due to a very generous perfumista who sent them to my all the way from Paris. Each group of scents is meant to tell a story, and I looked forward to finding out what visions they brought to me.

The packaging of the samples is quite striking – each trio is in a pretty little black organza netting bag containing a card that tells the fragrance story, and the stoppers are not the usual plastic “popper” style, but an actual mini-stopper made of smooth glass that fits the vials perfectly. I quite enjoy that attention to detail. (Even though some the large perfume bottles I own also have a glass stopper and therefore must be decanted into smaller atomizers for daily use to keep them fresh, I really like a nice stopper.)

The weather here has been extremely and unusually hot, so after a brief sniff of all of them I started out by wearing the lighter fragrances. The Nara 1869 trio is Bigarade, Osmanthus and Olibanum and the Hollywood Stromboli 1950 set has Spearmint, Immortelle and Myrte (myrtle). Both are inspired by tales of forbidden love; the Nara 1869 by the idea of a (fictional) French perfumer named Akimoff and his encounter with a geisha apprentice, and the Hollywood Stromboli continues the narrative with the story of Betty, the perfumer Akimoff’s descendant who falls in love with a man with gangland connections and the ensuing drama of that situation. I have to say that the style of all the Parfums 137 scents except the Olibanum reminds me a lot of the Histoire de Parfums line, in that the florals are very bright and sparkling, and they have clearly made use of aldehydes in the formulations. That’s fine with me, as it makes them eminently suitable for the summer heat.

I made a beeline for the Osmanthus first, as I am always looking for more versions of this note, which has become real favorite; ever since I discovered that there is a flower that smells like ripe apricots after trying The Different Company’s version, I have been in why-wasn’t-I told mode and seeking out perfumes with osmanthus in them. I love Serge Lutens Nuits de Cellophane for this very reason. Parfums 137 has made a very sweet and intense scent, less sheer than TDC’s take on it and with fresh peach notes to amp up the fruitiness, and I really love it. Patchouli in the base gives it longevity but I could not really detect it by itself.

The Bigarade is a very pleasing version of bitter orange, and the drydown is just that, very dry and refreshing with a beautiful woody base that gives it good lasting power. It really takes to the heat and does not turn into the sweetness of orange blossom – not that there is anything wrong with that, but sometimes you just want a dry orange scent more in the vein of a men’s fragrance, and this could easily be worn by anyone.

I was almost afraid to try the Spearmint in the Hollywood set, but as it turned out, there was not a trace of “toothpaste accord” in it – it was very green, opening with what I assume is bergamot along with other citrus notes, and the spearmint is actually the heart note combined with florals, so the mint part is simply a lovely breeze of very life-like mint, the crushed stems of the plant itself, and I just love it. My only complaint was that it did not last very long, but then it is an Eau de Parfum with almost nothing but top and heart notes, with just a whisper of wood at the base. I look forward to trying it in cooler weather; perhaps it will not burn away so quickly. So far this is the best mint-themed fragrance I know of, though admittedly I do not seek them out.

The Immortelle was not what I expected at all. It opens with a feeling of a flowery meadow in the sun, which I did expect from a perfume with this name, but it got very sharp after a short time, and for me this one demonstrated a synthetic scent profile more than any of the others. I like it, as I do appreciate a sharp fragrance, but my sister was visiting me when I first put it on and she said it gave her a headache. Just be warned.

One day the weather cooled down and I put on the Myrte – it was quite sweet and a bit heavy at first, and the base is vanillic and very feminine. It tickled my memory, and I just could not put my finger on what other perfume it reminded me of, something from a long time ago or some vintage scent. It has a deep and pleasing woodiness to counterbalance the sweetness once the initial impression subsides, so I am assuming that the myrtle in question is actually myrtle wood and not the unrelated flower, and after trying it again I decided that it reminded me a lot in character, if not in actual notes, of the old-school Dana perfumes Ambush and Tabu, only in a much lighter form. It is very “perfumey” in the sense that it harks back to a time when this style was so popular with American women, and so it is very fitting that it be included as homage to Hollywood. I finally decided that I could wear it in hot weather if I feel like it, which I do. It is ideal for evening wear, preferably with the wearer all glammed up.

Finally, I came to the Olibanum, which could not be more different from the others. It is not sweet but rather serious once the spicy black pepper opening is done. I also detected a piney, balsamic note that I liked very much, an almost “Christmas-y” aroma, but of Christmases long past, when the tree was a freshly cut fir and the ornaments were made of antique glass. Other spices float over the incense accord, though it’s hard to tell what they all are, but I got a hint of cumin and something else vaguely foody, almost like bread, perhaps caraway? It’s a fascinating mix in any event. I waited until the weather was cooler to put it on but it’s actually perfect for high summer since it is so devoid of sugary notes; it is dry and definitely unisex, perhaps even leaning more toward the masculine side, and if a point of reference can be made, I would say it’s “Timbuktu Lite,” bearing a resemblance to the L’Artisan scent but with a much lighter touch on the cumin.

One nice touch is that each trio is available in a coffret of 15 ml bottles and costs 60 Euros (about $85 USD) for the set, and sample packets can be had for on 5 Euros (about $7 USD) each. They can be ordered directly from the Web site, but be aware that shipping will be steep. It’s in French, but there is a visual demo on how to combine the three essences of each set into seven different perfumes by layering/blending your own. At these prices it’s worth a try and you get more perfume bang for the buck, so to speak. I am not one to do a lot of mixing myself, preferring my scents as they come, but for those who enjoy experimenting these would be a lot of fun.

Image credit: Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse in 1953’s The Band Wagon via For The Love of Opera Gloves, one of my favorite sites – see lots more at

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Winner of Top 10 of Summer Prize Draw... VISCHKA. Please, email us your address using the contact me link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for playing! More giveaways are coming up, the vacation is over, PST is resuming its normal schedule starting tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Weekend Beauty: Feeling the love for Ulta

By Donna

I happen to live fairly near one of the brick-and-mortar Ulta Beauty stores. I had never even heard of it until a couple of years ago when I began to receive their promotional mailings when the store first opened. I had been wishing for a Sephora store in my city for a long time, and when we finally did get one I was a bit disappointed. I had read about the way Sephora used to be, a veritable palace of perfume, so although I enjoyed the variety of cosmetics, the fragrance selection seemed to be not much better than one would find at a large department store. I expected Ulta to be about the same, but I was pleasantly surprised to be wrong.

The Ulta store was brightly lit and cheerful, in contrast to the dark and poorly lit Sephora I had visited. (I had wondered how they expected to sell cosmetics that way.) The store had pretty much the same range of prestige makeup and skin care brands as Sephora– Stila, Smashbox, Murad, etc. and a user-friendly display of fragrances that was in alphabetical order. Okay, that was all up in the front; what was in the back? Amazingly, it seemed as though two more entire stores were back there – a complete range of drugstore brand makeup and personal care items, priced below retail, and a truly stunning array of top hair care products, including more hair dryers than I had ever seen in one place before. Frederic Fekkai, Paul Mitchell, John Frieda, Redken, Matrix were all there, and quite a few I knew nothing about. A full service salon is attached to the store as well. To top it all off, a massive island in the center of the store contained Ulta’s store brand color cosmetics, and the selection was huge. Now this, I thought, is what I call a superstore.

The staff was friendly and not at all pushy, which at first I attributed to the store being newly opened, but it’s that way every time I go there. I always look forward to it, whether I am stocking up on goodies or just pop in for a drugstore item or two while I am out shopping for something else. (Not too long ago, my old hair dryer quit, and I got in on a door-buster special at Ulta for a Wigo pro quality tourmaline hair dryer – I paid $30, it normally sells for about $80. Have I mentioned how much I love Ulta?)

My favorite thing about Ulta is the fabulous deals you can get on their store brand cosmetics. I am a fan of their lipsticks, especially the Sheers, and they have frequent specials on all their color cosmetics. The lippies start at $8 and they are department store quality; I try to stock when they have a BOGO special, which is often. To illustrate the kind of value you can get by going for the store brands, I recently decided to change primers for summer. I really liked the Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired By Carmindy Luminizing Face Primer I had been using, but in summer I am always too shiny, so I wanted to try something that would give my skin a more matte appearance for hot weather. Ulta was running a special on their store brand Professional Foundation Primer, which normally goes for $18. The special deal was buy two get two free, so I paid $36 for the lot. I had never tried it before, but I figured I would spend that amount for just one tube of Smashbox Photo Finish in the same one-ounce size. As it turned out, it seems to be my Holy Grail primer, as it has mattifying powders in it to cut shine, and it works equally well with mineral powder, tinted moisturizer or regular foundation. It’s not overly slick either, so if you need to put some concealer on after you apply makeup it blends in beautifully. With four pump bottles in my stash I should be good for the rest of the year at least.

If you don’t have a store nearby, they have a great Web site, free shipping with orders over $50 (with frequent $25 free shipping promos), and four free samples with every order. It really is one-stop shopping for everything except fragrance; like Sephora they have mainly mainstream scents, but a very nice range of them, and they do get the new releases right away so you can try what’s current. If you do live near one of the stores, I hope you are already shopping there – if not, I recommend it very highly. There are a lot more of them now than when I first walked into a store, so check the site’s Store Locator page to see what might be close to you.

Image source: Ulta Glam & Go 52-piece color set – if you can’t find a shade you like in here, you’re just not trying. From

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Bermuda Perfumery Navy Lime

By Tom

This weekend was a warm one in Los Angeles, which sent everyone to the beach. Everyone except me, that is. I went inland to the Homestead Museum which was really a treat, despite the heat. Nestled in an almost completely industrial area are these two houses, one from the 1800's and the "Casa Nueva", built in to 20's when the family struck oil and designed by society Architect Roy Seldon Price. The Casa Nueva is a treasure trove of beautiful tile work, thick adobe walls and the latest in 1920's tech. In the heat of the day the house was blissfully cool, needing only fans to be blissful. Sadly, they seemed to think that at some point I should go home, rather than move in and take advantage of one of the giant bathtubs in one of the gorgeously tiled baths. I once toured an open house in my neighborhood by the same architect in the same style and built at the same time. Lotto winnings I didn't have so I was not the lucky buyer..

You would be forgiven for asking at this point whether you'd this was still a perfume blog. Well it is, and here's what I wore that was coincidentally absolutely perfect for both the surroundings and the heat of the day. something that Donna reviewed (and I think sent me the sample of..), The Bermuda Perfumery Navy Lime. I love limes in fragrance (and hardly ever run across it these days) and this is lovely in an old-fashioned men's cologne sort of way. It's perfectly balanced with bergamot and vetiver and has a lovely ambery-powdery drydown. As you all know, I'm willing to throw down on the skank at a moments notice. But in that house, set up perfectly with the silver on the dining room table and the closets with period clothes in them as if the owners had just stepped out for a moment, nothing could have been more correct. I also couldn't have been more refreshing for the stop/start drive on the 10 Freeway on the ride home, with the less than effective AC in my Honda. Best news? It's under $50 at their website. Short of a trip to Bermuda, could it be better?

Image source,

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Top 10 Summer Perfumes and a Prize Draw

"A something in a summer’s noon —A depth — an Azure — a perfume —Transcending ecstasy..." To celebrate the season, everybody at PST named one perfume they've been enjoying the most lately; below, is our collective Top 10 of Summer; please share with us your favorites!

Paestum Rose by Eau d’Italie. After several weeks of ninety-percent humidity and temps above 100 degrees, my summer struggle is less about what perfume to wear than how to stay awake. Lately, I’m reaching past the usual suspects to Paestum Rose. This resinous, dark-hearted beauty is one of my favorite fall scents, but right now the pepper braces me up and the sweet myrrh, dark rose, and dry woods make me feel like I’m walking in the cool of a pine forest under an occasional magical shower of velvet red petals. Somebody send me a full bottle, please.

Soir de Lune by Sisley. Is it the honey or the jasmine or the chili pepper that makes it so compelling? Perhaps a little bit of moon magic? Who knows, but I cannot hug anyone that I meet without them burying their face in my neck and sighing over “that amazing fragrance....God what is that?” Definitely a desired effect...absolute bombshell in a bottle and I adore it!

L'Air du Desert Marocain by Andy Tauer- the more I wear this the more I love it; it's good in any sort of weather but it really comes into its own in the intense heat of summer. The combination of incense, spices, cedar, jasmine, vanilla, patchouli and vetiver conspires to create pure magic on the skin, evoking fantasies of faraway places and dreams of desert passion.

L'Eau de l'Artisan by L'Artisan Parfumeur. According to the website, L'Eau de L'Artisan adds to the traditional notes of citruses, herbs and tree moss a fresh twist of marine accord and hay. On me, this starts out as the most wonderful, sunny, lemon verbena. After a short while, it morphs into a delicious violet leaf that reminds me of my great grandmother (not a bad thing). This is a very light and fresh scent that is perfect for the heat.

Champagne de Bois by Sonoma Scent Studio. I find its dry aldehydic sparkle both comforting and refreshing. To my nose, it perfectly represents the scent of orange peels, both green and dried, without a trace of the sweetness that would come from a twist of ripe orange. Supported by soft whispers of clove and sandalwood, and even softer hints of labdanum and vetiver, this works for me for every summertime activity: a sunrise walk on the beach, a hike in the hills, a late-evening dinner party, or a midnight movie.

Amra by Agarscents Bazaar. Amra's herbaceous note of basil, combined with fresh grapefruit, dry orris, white musk as gentle as a summer breeze and the saline scent of ambergris make it a refreshingly cool "Arabian oil" to offset the suffocating humidity of Manhattan summers.

L'Eau de L'Hermine by Lostmarc'h became my unexpected summer favorite. The gently candied blend of lavender and citrus, at once fresh and sweet, strangely comforting in its soft, child-like cleanness is all I want to wear these days. It goes so well with the sun, the sand, the ocean...the carefree joy, and the I-will-think-about-it-when-Autumn-comes mood of summer.

Saks Boca Raton by Bond No. 9 was a thoughtful gift from my family, and I believe it was limited to a few hundred bottles, all sold at Saks Fifth Avenue in Boca Raton, Florida. The notes are lily of the valley, blackcurrant, gardenia, freesia, amber, cedar, cardamom, and musk. This is a light, sweet, floral gourmand, with a daintily spicy drydown, and it's been truly perfect for hot summer days in Florida. If anyone influential from Bond No. 9 is reading this, please put this charming perfume in your regular lineup!

Yatagan by Caron is the perfect summer fragrance because I go away from it for a while and then return; like it were seasonal and the scent wears well in the heat of the day and the heat of the night.

Une Rose Chyprée by Andy Tauer: velvety roses and geranium lifted by spice and citrus. A souffle of edible flowers that has that rich Tauerade drydown but is perfect for a summer day.

If you would like to participate in a prize draw for a 1.7oz bottle of L'Eau de L'Artisan, say so in your comment. The winner will be announced when we return from our vacation. Enjoy your summer, everybody!

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

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


Thursday, July 09, 2009

Name the Scent Prize Draw Winner

It was next to impossible to choose one, as there were so many beautiful, witty, meaningful suggestions.

I loved Feu de Marine by Eleven European Mystics, B'eau by Romain, Marin'eau by Natalie, Bashert by Elle, L'Eau Dangereuse by Alyssa, Fatale Poudree by Popcarts, Charodeika by Jen, Sagesse by Scott AND SO MANY OTHERS.

The winning entry is Mélusine, submitted by Anonymous at 12:47 PM EDT. Dear Anonymous, please send me your mailing address using the contact me link on the right.

Thank you you so much, everybody, for playing, it has been so much fun!

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Humiecki & Graef Askew, Eau Radieuse, Geste and Multiple Rouge

By Tom

I hope all of you had a wonderful July 4th!

My July 4th weekend meant wandering around window shopping. Partly because a generous friend gave me a very nice gift card to Neiman's to celebrate my 87th birthday. Sniffing around Neimans Friday didn't make me want to purchase; frankly there wasn't anything there that I could say "I have nothing like this". Saturday was spent at Le Labo, basically chatting with Heather about various stuff. Not much else was open on 3rd street on the 4th so they weren't busy. I did get to smell tiny samples of the Tokyo and London exclusives (I hadn't before) and they are lovely, and grrrr inducing that you can't get them without going there.

Sunday I stopped into ScentBar and tried the new Humieckis- this is the company that did Skarb, which sadly went nowhere on me. I've long ago learned that it's not all about me, and sometimes that which went nowhere can become a favorite later on.

Askew initially made me think of Gendarme SKY, in that it's extremely clean. Unlike SKY, this is an extremely cold scent; the singing cold of a late spring cold snap. I'm not from Florida, but I know that when a sudden cold front comes in, orange growers will water the plants. The layer of frozen water will actually insulate the fruit temporarily keeping them from being damaged. This is what this makes me think of: buds and bergamot and mint flash-frozen and protected by a layer of brittle ice, and oddly glove leather. In any kind of heat I can imagine this to be the new go-to scent: the only way it could be more refreshing would be if it came with copper tubing and freon.

Eau Radieuse has an opening that's the most true lemon I think I've ever smelled: oil, pith, pulp and peel. Within minutes, it almost completely disappears. Later some of the lemon is there, with a whiff of fattiness that must be banana peel. How 'bout them Dodgers?

Geste starts with candied violets, which Fran Liebowitz refers to as "the NECCO wafers of the overbred". Well, I like candied violets, especially when laced with the "did she or didn't she" musk as in this. The violets become less confectionery as the scent progresses when something they call "fir resin" starts to assert itself. It stays very close to the skin and I think as lovely as it would be on a woman, on a man it would really sing. In that Daniel Craig as James Bond way; you didn't think from the spec sheet you'd like it at all, but when it walked out of the surf, oh my!

At first, Multiple Rouge seems like false advertising. I'm smelling Multiple Vert: I get cilantro, grass and lily of the valley. Then I start to get something fruity, but not any fruit that I can identify as of this Earth. Since what I get is something along the lines of Tobaccomelon and leatherberries I am fine with this. If you looked at the ingredient list you would want to have the insulin on hand; on me this is desert dry and delicious: Vulcan Fruit Salad.

For those of you who wonder what I actually got with my gift certificate, I got a proper wallet. No more just jamming my cash into my pockets and cards jammed into a filled to bursting ID case built for two cards. Now although I hate to type it, I think I need a murse.

All of these are $220 for 100ML at LuckyScent.

Perfumer: Christophe Laudamiel.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

Aftelier Lumiere: Perfume Review

As a rule, fragrances develop from light to heavy, from bright to dark. On my skin, Mandy Aftel's new fragrance, Lumiere, progresses in reverse.

Like a dimmer gradually being switched from dark to dusky to bright, the perfume slowly moves from the opaque, nocturnal-green notes of green tea absolute and incense in the direction of ever increasing incandescence. The composition steps out of the deep, cool, enveloping pool of myrtle green, wades through the translucent, pale waters of lotus and finally explodes in a burst of joyous, floral pinkness of boronia...A synesthesiac's delight!

Available at Aftelier and Henri Bendel, $195.00 for 1/4oz.

Image source,

Perfumer: Mandy Aftel.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Eau de...? Prize Draw

At the Perfume Expo America I had a pleasure to have a scent custom made for me by the très charmant and très patient François Hénin of Jovoy. Here he is, measuring, diluting and bottling.

The scent is a blend of rose, patchouli, amber, vanilla, woods...and a "secret ingredient" that smells oily, waxy, slightly salty, and which gave the fragrance its slightly retro, powdery-snaky base. M. Hénin described the perfume as "animalic and a little bit masculine". I would describe it as unequivocaly feminine, softly-skanky, glamorous slash comforting. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to name my scent. The author of a winning entry, chosen by moi, will receive a set of 30 samples, also chosen by moi, and I promise they will be quite exciting. The draw is now closed.

In the meantime, the winner of the Guerlain Les Voyages Olfactifs sample draw is Tammy. Please send us your address using the contact link on the right.

Have a fabulous July 4th weekend, everybody!

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Montale Amber and Spices, Wild Aoud, and Aoud Leather

By Tom

Somewhere Kelly is doing his "Toldja So!" dance..

Lately I have found myself very drawn to Montale fragrances, especially the aouds. Aoud (or Oud) is actually (according to Wikipedia) a reaction of a hardwood called Agarwood to a mold infection, a resin is produced; the more mold, the more resin, and the more scent. I've grown more and more fond of Montale's various scents that feature this slightly mushroomy clean-skin note and was happy to sample 3 of the 7 new ones that are available at luckyscent.

Amber & Spices doesn't list aoud in the name, but it's in there from the opening to the end. The spices are cumin and nutmeg, lending this a slightly drrrty air and Montale's other trademark, deep winey rose. The woody amber drydown is lovely, but cumin hates keep in mind while this isn't Eau d'Hermes, if you consider for instance Serge Noire to be gaggingly skanky, this one isn't for you. It is however, very much for me.

Wild Aoud starts with a burst of candied sweetness, sprightly citrus and candied rose petals before being joined by geranium, aoud and finally resiny woods. I only get a hint of the listed tobacco in the drydown and the listed patchouli is still hiding somewhere, but none of that's a bad thing. I'd never thought I would come across a "summery" Montale, much less enjoy it, but we live and learn. This surprised me by being my favorite of the three.

Aoud Leather neatly tips your expectations on it's ear: the leather isn't a biker jacket, it's more a ladies opera-length glove. One with which she had inexplicably decided to zest some Mexican limes (the teensy ones that I think are Key limes in Florida). The effect is not unlike as luckyscent points out like Piguet's Bandit. Like one of those fashion magazine that dolls up Gwyneth Paltrow as Marilyn Monroe, this is a comparison that inevitably does Aoud Leather ill: it makes a very appealing scent pale by comparison. Actually, it kind of makes this seem like "Bandette". But if you find the Piguet just waaay to much, this is worth a try. Heck, it's worth a try on its own, because as luckyscent points out "there can never be too many leathers"

$150 for 50ML, $210 for 100, at luckyscent

Depending upon when this is put up, it will be a day shy of when Colombina first invited people to contribute to her blog. Three days later she kindly put up my first review. I want to first publicly thank her for three years of learning and growing as a perfume-lover and I hope as a writer, and of course to thank all of the people who have been so kind and generous with comments and thoughts. It's meant more to me than you can know and I look forward to more adventures in sniffing in the future. (Tom, the blog wouldn't be what it is without your elegantly snarky wit and you skanky tastes. You should know that I came up with that first call for contributors, to lure you in, because I loved your comments so much. You are the best! - M.)

The winner of the Scents by Alwexis drawing is Chaya, please contact us with your shipping information and thanks to you all for your comments!

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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Lostmarc'h L'Eau de L'Hermine

Those who, like me, shy away from full-on lavender scents, because of their sharpness, and those who, like me, are bored with citrus scents, because of their ubiquitousness, should, like me, find in L'Eau de L'Hermine a wonderfully wearable, soft lavender and an interesting take on citrus. I like it so much, I want to swim in it.

Floral sweetness of neroli and peony brings out a honeyed, fruity aspect in lavender. Gentle fluffiness of heliotrope softens the jagged edges of the note and tones down the prickly, nose-tingling freshness of grapefruit and bergamot. There is a certain sweet cleanness or clean sweetness about L'Eau de L'Hermine that I find very appealing. A certain effortless simplicity, which is in fact a sign of harmonious complexity.

This is summer in a bottle... the breeze carries the freshness of the sea, the herbal and honeyed aroma of lavender, the candied fragrance of orange blossom...It's a story of how, in the sun, in the face of the endless sea, things come into perspective, entanglements get disentangled and dilemmas come to a natural resolve, all on their own. A Summer Tale.

PS. According to Antoine Vuillermet, the creator of Lostmarc'h, "Hermine" in the name of the scent is there to signify Brittany's symbol and flag:

"One winter day our queen Anne de Bretagne was hunting the Hermine for its white fur, in front of a dirty pond, the Hermine stoped. Anne was so impressed by the animal's behavior, that she decided it could not be hunted anymore, and became the symbol of all the Breton: "rather dead than dirty", in France (as she married the king) later on the Hermine became the symbol of justice and purity."

Available at Beautyhabit and Lostmarch, $85.00 and €55.00 respectively, for 100ml.

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