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Monday, November 30, 2009

Bite Me If You Dare: Aus Liebe Zum Duft No. 1

What do you smell?
A spicy scent.
It's filling up the room.
Sweet and strong, it smells so good-
Much better than perfume.
A Gingerbread Poem

First in the series of First in Fragrance's signature perfumes, Aus Liebe Zum Duft No. 1, created by Marc vom Ende, is touted as containing leather. Not on my skin! On me, it is all about ginger. And a little bit about cardamom. And, in the second half of the composition, about a hint of sweet jasmine. But mostly about ginger, on a strangely metallic (and that IS in the description), dry-woody background... If, say, Wylie Dyfresne decided to create his own version of gingerbread...and it would be safe to assume that it probably wouldn't be immediately recognizable as such...and serve it on a silvery plate...this is how it would smell.

ALZD No. 1 is gingerbread with an edge and an attitude, foodie only in a very abstract, modernistic manner...I have an urge to spin purple prose today, so I will give in to that urge and say that this is a stylish unisex gourmand to suit the jaded tastes of androgynous urbanites of the 21st century. There! It is out of my system. Another great scent to start the Holiday season, and, in the spirit of the season, to generously share with your trendy other half.

Available at, €100.00 for 100ml.

Image source,

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dark Aldehydes...Natori: Perfume Review

I haven't been in a mood for anything dark or anything aldehydic lately. Actually, I have been in a mood for anything but. And then something that is both comes along and turns out to be exactly what I am in a mood for. Makes sense, right? My fickleness aside, Josie Natori's new foray into perfume surprised me with its depth, refinement, with the fact that it dared to use aldehydes, dared to aspire to smell "classic" and more than a touch "retro".

On my skin, Natori starts dark, becomes lighter, and then darkness falls yet again as a final curtain. The beginning of roses and plums is nocturnal elegance. The fruits and petals smell ripe, longing to be picked and savored...As the composition progresses, this velvety opulence gives way to silky elegance. The aldehydic accord cuts through the lushness of roses, ylang and jasmine like a ray of shimmering light, lending the scent, for a while, a sparse and sparkling feeling of near transparency.

The appearance of patchouli, amber and musk, the sweetness of the base signify the return to the baroque quality of the top notes. The light is off; the scent lapses into delightful, sinful darkness yet again. I do wish that the brilliant incandescence of the aldehydes lasted a little longer; it added something simultaneously unique and classic to the sultry blend. That said, I still think that Natori is rather stunning, a perfect fragrance to open the Holiday season. Much has been said about the bottle, and I can't help but add my rave. The dark purple of the abstractly sensual form, the subtle provocativeness of the picaboo circle in the middle, which seem to reflect the way the composition, with its light in the heart, is structured...the luxurious feel of the heavy cap...the bottle is a pleasure to hold and a wonderful compliment to the sumptuous liquid within.

Available at Natori and Saks, $80.00-$110.00.

Image credits: Karl Lagerfeld for Vogue Germany; Natori.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Big Ego...EgoFacto Prends Garde a Trois and Jamais Le Dimanche

By Tom

EgoFacto is a new line created my Pierre Aulas, who mentions in the release his love of both opera (he has sung at the Paris Opera) and his last job as a marketing manager. I was sent samples of two of the fragrances:

Prends Garde a Trois is green and jasmine with a lovely smokiness to it that they write is for women, but that a man could quite rightly rock. They list notes such as warm sand, nettle leaves in addition to the jasmine I smell. I cannot say that I could identify those, but my exposure to nettles is nil so I might be the wrong person to say.

Jamais Le Dimanche is listed as ozone accord, marijuana accord and incense. On me it went downhill fast: it was Secretions Magnafique Lite. If that stygian water floats your particular boat then you will be happy to note that these will, along with the 5 others I didn't test will be according to the press people be at LuckyScent in future.

They are available now for 59EU at their website .

Image source,

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Juliet by Juliet Stewart

By Beth
“What I'm looking for, after all this time
Keeps me moving forward, trying to find it
Since I learned to walk all I've done is run
Ready, on my mark, doesn't everyone
Need a place in the world

Could be right before your very eyes
Just beyond a door that's open wide
Could be far away or in your own backyard
There are those who say, you can look too hard
For your place in the world

Takes some of us a little longer
A few false starts gonna make you stronger
When I'm sure I've finally found it
Gonna wrap these arms all around it

Could be one more mile, or just one step back
In a lovers smile, down a darkened path
Friends will take our side, enemies will curse us
But to be alive is to know your purpose
It's your place in the world
Your place in the world
Your place in the world”

Mary Chapin Carpenter- “A place in the world”

There is only one Juliet Stewart and I have to say that I’ve never met another woman like her. I was recently introduced to her through the ambiance of her luscious perfume Juliet. I could go into great detail about the beautiful composition of the fragrance but somehow I feel that I couldn’t do it justice. It’s an incredible floral , laced with jasmine, amber , precious herbs and so much more. What I will say is that Juliet, is simply beautiful and one of the loveliest perfumes that I’ve had the pleasure to wear in a long time. It’s as lush as fingers dipped in melted chocolate or honey infused cream. My husband adores it and says that he finds it erotic yet ladylike. I would have to agree with him, because Juliet is as at home with my pearls as it is with my nakedness. It’s the perfume equivalent of gorgeous garters worn under a business suit and it makes me smile every time I notice it.

However, the most exquisite thing about Juliet is the muse herself. Juliet Stewart is one of the most delightful women that I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking to. Her perfume is simply the vehicle for her passion and her passion is to help every women that she meets become more available to herself, awake and open to the beauty of her life. She IS the real deal, one of the most beautiful women that I’ve ever seen, but you immediately sense upon speaking with her that it’s a beauty of the deepest sort, of one who’s been alive and experienced living in the most profound way, the path that honors deep joy and powerful sorrow. She is a one woman force of nature who is passionately calling upon all of us to not be enslaved to anything less than the vision of ourselves as whole and complete, whatever that means to us, no matter how personal or provocative. Her mantra...”Be unforgettable, own your Beauty” is a call to all of us to love, understand ourselves and cherish each other in the most passionate and authentic way possible.

Juliet Stewart is a woman whose passion is to simply help all women know that they are beautiful. As an ex -model and the senior makeup artist for Prescriptives she became very clear that the airbrushed images of young women that she was helping to promote were creating unhealthy body images and self loathing in the very women that she was trying to help. She was deeply disturbed that the models that were used to sell her makeup to middle aged women had absolutely nothing in common with them, no shared life experiences.

So she did what only someone as brave as Juliet would do. She quit the very prestigious job that had been created for her by the President of the company and struck out on her own to work with real women, young and old. She found the outlet for her voice in a beautiful boutique that she created in Nyack, New York and everyday she helps many women find the richness of their lives through allowing their authenticity to shine in the mirror along with their beauty. Her luscious perfume and her skill with makeup are only the tools that she uses to create the outer beauty that is the reflection of what she and her clients discover about within. She hears many different stories, of young women battling eating disorders , of divorced or widowed women starting over, or women like me whose children have moved on and who are ready to embrace the next phase of their lives and want to do it in their own image, not the regurgitated youthful images that we see over and over that bear no relevance to anything that we’ve known in our lives. Juliet generates beauty through discovery and she’s right there with you experiencing the joy and the tears of the blossoming.

The short conversation that I had with her opened me up to the possibilities of my life, her authenticity and passion for really listening gave me the courage to begin to pursue a long cherished dream, one that I’d given up for good. I am finally creating the business that I’ve always dreamed of and it is being received with such open arms by my community and far beyond that I am sure that it is the right path for me. Juliet Stewart is a woman who simply holds up the mirror of life and her gift is to have you experience yourself through her eyes. She is as in the lovely lyrics above, a women who has found her true purpose...her place in the world. I wear her perfume as a powerful talisman, a reminder that I am finally beginning to find mine.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Comme des Garçons Dover Street Market

By Tom

First: The winners of the Calvin Klein draw are Marko and Diana.

Please use the "Contact Us" button so I can pass your info to the nice people at CK.

Now, to the review.

Comme des Garçons is a house that I really love. They are fearless about putting out scents that define their brand, even if they can range from pretty odd, to kind of strange. Dover Street Market was created to celebrate their store in the Piccadilly section of London. I've never been there so I can't say whether it's an accurate scent portrayal of the area, but I can write that it's a winner; it's very wearable with a soupçon of C de G oddness to keep things interesting. It starts with very peppery bergamot and mandarin, then veers from woody to incense back to citrus to pine. According to the designer Rae Kawakubo, he wanted to create an atmosphere of "beautiful chaos". I think that's the best way to describe it.

Even better is the price: $90 for 100ML, at LuckyScent (who I asked for the sample) and the C de G Dover Street Market website

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Severe Consonant Shortage: Hilde Soliani Doolciiisssimo and Fraaagola Saalaaata

By Donna

Right off the bat I have to say this: I have never smelled a perfume that smells like both muscle liniment and root beer simultaneously. As a matter of fact I don’t think those two aromas have ever been in my nose at the same time in my entire life, but here they are, in the form of Hilde Soliani’s Doolciiisssimo. Having read Marina’s enthusiastic reviews of some of the other scents in the line, I was keeping an eye out for some of them, and two unfamiliar ones from this tiny Italian niche brand surfaced in a mixed sample lot I found online. I decided not to try to find out more about them until I had tested them, since I was amused and intrigued by their odd names and I like to try out oddball perfumes with as few preconceptions as possible.

With a name that seems to allude to sweetness, I was expecting perhaps some caramel or praline for Doolciiisssimo. The initial blast of something peppery-warm told me right away that this was no ordinary sweet or gourmand perfume. It turned to frothy, foamy old-fashioned root beer in a few moments, and then something weird happened (like root beer perfume is not weird enough) and a medicinal note crept in. About ten minutes in it was very sharp and I almost decided to wash it off it was so penetrating, but I decided to wait it out. After about twenty minutes the components evened out enough to reach a stasis of sorts on my skin. On the one hand there is the smooth, creamy, comforting smell of that “root beer” and on the other there is that background odor of something that you might rub on sore muscles. It’s fascinating in a way, but I am not sure it works as perfume. Has anyone else tried this, and did you get the same thing? Anyway, I looked up the notes after I tested it, and yes there is vanilla, but cherry tobacco and patchouli are the culprits in the liniment accord – it’s like cherry cough medicine, with the patchouli turning it into something camphorous like a chest rub. Maybe it would smell a lot better on someone else, but on me it’s like a trip down the first aid aisle of the drugstore.

Okay, so what about the other one? What’s in Fraaagola Saalaaata besides all the vowels in a Scrabble® game? One whiff and this one was no mystery at all – it was strawberry and nothing but, fresh and sweet. Strawberry is a very frequently misused note in perfume, usually showing up in achingly sugary celebrity scents and entwined with lots of other syrupy fruits and plasticky florals. Here it shines by itself and it reminds me very much like a perfume I used to wear when I was much younger, a long-gone but lovely Fragonard strawberry perfume intended as a first fragrance for young girls. I was already well beyond the target age when I discovered it, but I wore it anyway, enjoying the simple charm of a scent that captured the essence of one of my favorite aromas, ripe wild strawberries. The listed notes of this perfume are simply strawberries and salt. I don’t get anything salty at all from this, as it is really sweet on my skin; nothing briny or even sea-breezy is detectable. I would actually wear this, because there are few things I like more than strawberries in any form. Never mind the loopy name and the girly theme, I am a fan.

The Hilde Soliani perfumes can be found at Luckyscent.

Image credit: Wild Strawberries from Boby Dimitrov’s Flickr photo stream, some rights reserved.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The winner of the Lelong sample draw and things to come... Victoria. Please send us your address using the link on the right.

Here is what coming to PST soon: reviews of Comme des Garçons Dover Street Market, Natori, Six Scents 2, some Egofactos, Xerjoffs, Cartier Les Heures du Parfum, a couple of Tom Fords and more. Stay tuned and have a great week, everybody!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Ralph Lauren Love, UESism and Ninaisms

Decidedly, I have been spending too much time in the UES. And 40 hours a week in West Midtown apparently haven't even started to cure my UESism. To wit: my affection for Love, the limited edition perfume by Ralph Lauren. Actually "affection for a perfume by Ralph Lauren" is, perhaps, a symptom of UESism, in and of itself.

Chandler Burr describes Love thus:
"It’s as conventionally beautiful as the women in the “Fifth Avenue to Lexington above 70th but below 96th” zone, all getting their hair highlighted at the same salon. There’s zero edge...(...)"
And I completely agree. It's one of those perfumes that is hard to break down into ingredients because it is so...prettysmoothperfumeygeneric. With emphasis on pretty and generic. As prettily generic as, well, Lauren's or Kors's fashion. (It is "aesthetically pleasing", it is cohesive, it is reliable, it is oftentimes impeccable, but edgy it is not) As generically pretty as Tiffany jewelry. (Again, it is mostly timeless and flawless and makes an unerring gift and I want more of it, make no mistake about it, please...I am panicking a little bit here, what if I never get another blue box after this?!...All I am saying is Tiffany is not avant garde. But neither am I!) Is generic too harsh a word? Perhaps. Let's call it approachable, universal. Which is in a way ironic, when one applies those words to describe something evocative of UES.

To make the long story short, Love will not take the prize for the most innovative perfume of our generation. Or the generation before. But the slight bitter booziness of the top notes, the simultaneously ripe-honeyed and sparkling quality of the rose in its heart, the creamy, appropriately luxurious feel of amber and sandalwood in the base are, to me, very appealing... especially that strange bitter booziness...Love is pretty (not beautiful- pretty), elegant, wearable, is something that, when worn, would never make anybody "question your taste level". And, as Burr points out:
"... it will make quite a few men in the East 80’s lean appreciatively into the necks of quite a few smartly dressed women."
And that's always a bonus.

Available in an egalitarian range of prices, from $90.00 to $600.00 for a fancy, rather cheesy crystal flacon.

Fellow Project Runway fans, so what did you think of this season?

Image source, Vogue.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Love the sinner.. My Sin by Lanvin

By Tom

A very generous friend sent me a package of treasures that I will be examining over the next few months. The reason for the length of time examining them? They are all beautiful vintage scents that warrant a more introspective view than modern ones. Nothing against modern scents; there is something about vintage that sometimes makes me need to get into the mindset. Angela at Now Smell This called My Sin "demanding" while Gaia, the Non-Blonde was reminded of her Grandmother (a woman I would like to go back in time and meet),

It reminded me of an experience I had driving a vintage T-Bird my friend owned. The T-Bird was a car that you capital "D" drove: one minute of being inattentive and you could be across three lanes of traffic. My Sin is something you capital "W" wear: it's serious perfume. It's not winking, it's not "retro" and it's in no way frivolous. It's from the time when you went to a store like Bergdorfs and the dresses were modeled for you on live "mannequins" and tailored to you, three fittings minimum. Meeting the girls for lunch meant hose, gloves and a hat, which pretty much was the way you'd pick up the morning paper, which of course you wouldn't do. If there was such a thing as Bravo at the time you'd rather die than be a "Housewife" on it.

How does My Sin smell? Rich. Aldehydes and flowers open it and they're rich and heavy as a sable coat. There's also a shocking bit of civet in there: the eponymous "Sin" made olfactory, which gets more and more sinful until the drydown, which is close to the skin and whispers of past indiscretions.

My Sin was discontinued in 1988. A lady named Irma Shortell has the rights to the name and markets a version of that I have not smelled. If you've smelled the new one of better yet both, please chime in.

Oh, and it you're wondering whether I'd wear this? Sure. Like I'd wear spaghetti straps and taffeta...

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Jo Malone Vanilla & Anise: Perfume Review

Let me start with a question: before the creation of the aqueous pastel wonder that is Vanille Galante, has there existed a transparent vanilla perfume? I went through the list of oh so many vanillas, and couldn't come up with another name, except for the new Jo Malone fragrance. Perhaps it is simply the first of some more (hopefully not a thousand) scents, which surely have been launched by the sheer, watery beauty of the last Hermenessence. "Transparent vanilla" is a genre I apparently enjoy.

It is especially in the first stage that Vanilla & Anise seems to have been inspired by Jean-Claude Ellena's take on vanille. Something in the citrusy-spicy-fresh accord in the top notes has almost a melon-like effect, to me. A spicy melon effect, to be exact. The Malone creation is somewhat sharper then the Hermessence, and, despite "Vanilla" in the name, seemingly more unisex, at first anyway.

As it develops, the scent acquires more substance. Vanilla, tuberose and frangipani in the heart of the composition gives it a certian creaminess, a hint of flesh under the gauzy veil of top notes. Still, this tropical-sounding mix is not what I'd call voluptuous. The spicy characteristic from the start of the fragrance returns in the base, with cloves, and so does the sharp-dry unisex feel, with vetiver. This is an interesting scent, refreshing yet vaguely gourmand, at times obviously feminine, at other times almost masculine. There is something off-kilter in it, as if the balance of freshness and sweetness, of creaminess and spiciness haven't been gotten quite right, but oddly, this slight, quirky imperfection of the blend is what I enjoy about it.

Available wherever Jo Malone products are sold, $55.00-$100.00.

Image source,

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ineke F: Field Notes from Paris- Perfume Review

By Scott

At the tender age of 18, T.S. Eliot wrote The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock in which he reveals the internal musings of a young man preparing to ask for his beloved’s hand in marriage, wondering if his restrained, carefully meted out collection of life experiences has created a man worthy of her love:
For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?
One of the inspirations for Ineke Rühland’s new release, F: Field Notes from Paris, is that lovely line about coffee spoons, how it evokes a metering of memories, of nostalgia, of that Proustian moment of clarity when all that has come before coalesces into one instant in time.

Rühland has metered out her fragrances not in coffee spoons, but in alphabetical letters. Her early creations A though C can all be characterized as florals of fresh, sparkling, effervescent clarity. In D: Derring-Do she pushed the transparent quality into a more literal realm with a masculine/unisex fragrance that played with magnolia and aquatic notes on wet cement, to capture those first moments of a summer rain shower hitting pavement. Derring-Do was her first foray into unisex fragrances.

In her latest creations, E: Evening Edged in Gold and her brand new release F: Field Notes from Paris, she has turned down the wattage, moving away from bright fizzy transparency toward a warm glow, from champagne to cognac. Evening, which features gold osmanthus and angel’s trumpet (brugmansia, which releases its perfume only during the nighttime), is a fragrance for warm sultry nights and feels more formal, elegant, opera-ready. With her latest release, she continues the trend toward warmer, denser creations.

Despite the line about coffee spoons, there is no coffee in this juice. The accompanying box notes and “story” for F: Field Notes from Paris tell us that the fragrance is meant to evoke the “nostalgic feeling” of sitting in Parisian cafés, lingering over café crème, perhaps jotting down our adventures in a journal. Described as a “woody oriental”, the top notes are listed as coriander seed, orange flower and bergamot; middle notes of tobacco flower and leaf, patchouli, and cedar; and base notes of tonka bean, leather, beeswax and vanilla. The coriander seed adds a sweet spiciness to the opening which balances the slight sourness of the bergamot and patchouli, which predominate (for me in) the first 15-30 minutes. The patchouli adds radiance and depth to the early proceedings and as it recedes a bit, Tobacco leaf, leather, and vanilla take center stage, with vanilla and cedar more evident in the dry down. While notes of orange flower and tobacco flower are listed, it is never overtly floral. This fragrance opens as more traditionally feminine patchouli fragrance and ends as a vanilla tobacco and leather masculine fragrance. The tobacco here is not the harsher smoked variety, but the slightly damp leaf of pipe tobacco still in its leather pouch. The progression and development is a pleasure to experience, the sillage is moderate, and the tenacity is excellent. For me it lasted the entire work day.

The amber/tobacco colored bottle is wonderful, with a hand drawn map of Paris visible through the class. I believe Ineke, as a line of fragrances, has achieved the perfect marriage of bottle and perfume design. There is a simplicity that manages to be fresh and contemporary, and yet still feels solid and luxurious. Looking at her perfumes lined up in order of release, the bottles provide a visual cue of the progression from effervescent to more dense perfumes.

F: Field Notes from Paris is original (a feat these days!), well constructed, warm, approachable and wearable by men and women alike, especially if you are fond of the leather tobacco accord. I predict it will be added to many lists of Best Fall Fragrances, and the timing of the release could not be better. Like J.Alfred Prufrock, who agonized over whether he was marriage-worthy, I too have agonized over many a sample of perfume, wondering if it was bottle-worthy. In this case, it is.

Scott Lauzé, MD

Dr. Lauze is a psychiatrist in private practice in San Francisco and a perfume enthusiast.
Image source,

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Monday, November 09, 2009

JAR Shadow: Perfume Review...Sort of...

When my father's father died, he took with him the secret of his marinated tomatoes. His marinated tomatoes were, without any shadow of a doubt, the best in this galaxy, and in a couple of others. We have always thought that the secret ingredient were sliced onions, however, when we tried to pickle tomatoes that way, our version had none of the incredibly rich, spicy yet sweet taste of grandpa's preserves.

The other day I put on JAR's Shadow, and realized that somehow the creators got hold of my grandfather's recipe. The perfume smells exactly like the brine of those pickled tomatoes from my childhood. I also realized that the secret of the preparation could have been cloves, and maybe even a touch of cinnamon. That would account for the sweet, delectable piquancy of the preserve.

I understand that this "review" must be frustrating to read for those who want to know what Shadow smells like. After all, they have no point of reference, as they have never, sadly, experienced the mouthwatering savoriness of deda Volodya's pickled tomatoes. My best guess is that Shadow could have vetiver, wood, cloves, cinnamon and oakmoss (the latter very evident in the drydown, where the savory-gourmand quality wears off a bit). And believe me when I say that it is even more frustrating for me...almost Tantalus smell, to salivate and not to be able to partake.

Have a frustration-free week, everybody!

Image source, дневник Хозяюшки.

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Guilt-Free: Саlvin Кlein СКfree- аnd а draw

Earlier Marina was contacted by the people marketing this new scent asking if we'd like to try it and offering to give two bottles away in a draw. She asked me if I wanted to be the reviewer (I suppose since I am male) and my answer to her was "won't they hate me if I trash it?"

Her answer? "Who cares :-)"

They're going to hate me, but just a little.

I'm not quite sure the marketer had read my post on one of the previous Klein scents that I found frankly a bit lacking, that mentioned the one that started a thousand СК's- СКone. For those of you vacationing in outer space in the early 90's, СКone was a monster hit for Calvin Klein: the then-edgy ad campaign featured all sorts of kids of indeterminate gender and grunge-esque clothed Tweens standing around against a bright white background, like in God’s waiting room, or The Apple Store. The reason that scent was such a hit wasn't the campaign or that the idea of unisex scents were so new, but that the scent was the right one at the right time: bright bergamot, sparkling hedione and a skin-musk drydown as addictive as crack. I had a bottle and went through it in record time, but somehow didn't buy another.

As for СКfree, I'll quote from the press release:

casual - spontaneous – confident

скfree, inspired by the spirit of the modern, independent man who lives every day to the fullest. he has nothing to prove. he’s cool, relaxed and free-spirited. he does what he wants and is in control of his own destiny.

He also is apparently averse to capital letters.

Notes, again from the press release:

top: thailand star anise, jackfruit, absinthe, juniper berry

mid: suede, tobacco leaves, coffee absolute, south african buchu

dry: patchouli absolute, oakwood, texan cedarwood, costa rican ironwood

I normally think of myself as having rather a good nose, but this totally defeated me. I couldn't discern one single note. I'm going to be nice and ascribe it to the scent being well-balanced.

To be honest, it's not a bad scent. It's pleasant, slightly sweet and with a very nice, very light woody dry-down. You could wear it anywhere and the most reaction you'd get is "he smells nice" without the smeller being able to pinpoint why or what. I think the Calvin Klein people made two mistakes with this: first, it really should have been released last May. It's pleasantly summery and and has a frozen fruity chill that would have been perfect for a hot summer day. Second, the name. This isn't СКone, two or forty-seven; and I think they should СКbe done with the whole СКwhatever business and start coming up with actual names.

I am, most likely rather (ahem) outside of the age group being marketed to here. You'll be smelling a lot of this, just more in the mailroom than the boardroom.

As I wrote, the marketers have offered 2 bottles to be given out, if you would like to be included in the draw, please leave a comment.

СКfree will be available everywhere except perhaps outer space at prices ranging from $32 for 1oz to $62 for 3.4oz

Note: I was given a small full bottle by the marketing people. When they read the above I am sure they will bitterly repent having done so.

Image source,

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Visions of Vespertina - lessons in Perfume, Passion and Allegory - Roxana Villa and Gregory Spalenka

By Beth

It is rare as a writer, that I’m left speechless. But Justify Fullthere are those rare occasions when I come across a story so haunting that I’m left with simply my own tears and almost no way to put them into words. About a month ago, I arrived home from California to find a beautiful package waiting for me from Roxana Villa. I waited for a perfect day to open it and sooner than later I found myself alone, listening to thick warm raindrops splattering against the windows. What I found when I opened the thick envelope was a complete mystery to me. There was a beautiful little pot of solid perfume sealed with Roxana’s trademark bee and enveloped in a beautiful bag of sheer rose colored chiffon tied with a simple green ribbon, but there was also a beautifully illustrated book entitled “The Visions of Vespertina” and a cd that was inserted ever so gracefully into the sleeve inside. It was simple, magical and completely enchanting.

I was amazed. I’d never considered it, perfume as music, illustration.....perfume as art, art as perfume. It was an inspiring concept to consider, somewhat surreal as if from another time or place and incredibly bold in its conception. I knew by the way that my hair stood on end that there was something here for me to consider, to be profoundly moved by.

So I made myself a pot of yarrow tea , opened up the lovely little pot of perfume and inserted the cd into my computer. All of a sudden the kitchen where I work was transformed into a beautiful cloister with a soft rain outside, fresh flowers and herbs and a walled garden all around. I found myself swept away and captivated by the story of Vespertina , a young mystic who is in essence a time traveler, one who walks between the worlds of this life and the next. She is one born to a very long lineage of those who travel back and forth through the veils and although it is she who is ultimately destined to to bring balance back into both of those worlds, she is emotionally lazy and unwilling to claim that capacity to provoke healing that is her birthright.

Vespertina in her journey is opened powerfully to the possibilities of passionate , yet unrequited love with her lover Dante’ and it is she who learns the ultimate lesson in the releasing of that passion. I think that many of us can identify with experiencing a love so powerful and ultimately so earthbound that we are simultaneously destroyed and yet opened up by the very nature of its elusiveness. I have an image of Vespertina standing at her garden wall holding a rose given to her by her lover and yet with her head encircled in a wreath of stars. Her story serves as a reminder to me that there is a fine balance to be walked in this life, that we are all far vaster beings than we know and yet our time here is precious. I know that in my own life, to walk amongst the stars I need to have my feet planted firmly here on Earth and it has been a hard won lesson. Every time that I have tried to do it in reverse I’ve come crashing down with the weight and agony of my ungrounded spirit. Walking between worlds comes very easily to me and so does being carried away by the rapture of those journeys. Many times I have been burdened by a love that seemed so real and yet was made that way only by the power of my own imagination. It took me years to understand that I was that love and it was then and only then that living the powerful life that was to be my birthright was even possible.

Vespertina’s story, her perfume and the gorgeous music that is woven along through is an spiritual yet earthly allegory of the rarest and most exquisite sort. Greg Spalenka (along with Michelle Barnes) is the co-author , musician and illustrator of “The Visions of Vespertina”. Greg is Roxana’s adorable husband and together they have created a breathtaking work of conceptual art with a fluid life of its own, an unfinished and still unfolding story that we can all place ourselves into. The music is magnificent with its origins found in many of the old Renaissance masterpieces. The paintings are done in the style of the most glorious illuminations and yet they are more than that, they seem to be portals into another time and place, beckoning you gently to explore those secret places in your soul that only you know exist.

Roxana Villas “Vespertina” perfume is grounded in sweet scent of honey and beeswax with flourishes of sandalwood and frankincense, rose and jasmine. There are over 20 different and beautifully handmade botanical essences used in the making of it and when I wear it I feel as if I have become the lady in one of my beloved French Unicorn Tapestries . It is available as a gorgeous liquid perfume as well as a sumptuous solid. As with all perfumes made by the divine Ms. Villa, this making of this fragrance harms none yet has bewitched almost everyone that I’ve let close enough to enjoy it. Vespertina has a quiet energy , created in the monastic image of the heroine who has inspired it, yet is a very seductive fragrance that is completely full of all of the forbidden nuances and subtle inuendos that can’t help but inspire a deep hunger filed with equal parts desire and passion. Wear it at your own risk and enjoy the results. If falling that deeply in love with yourself isn’t worth it, nothing is...........

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Vintage finds: There’s a lot more to Lucien Lelong than Indiscret – And a Prize Draw

By Donna

The only Lucien Lelong perfume that most people know about is their great sharp, fruity Oriental Indiscret, deservedly the star of the line. Most of the scents from the elegant past of this great fashion house are long discontinued, which is unfortunate, especially for someone like me who is just discovering these treasures. I first became aware of the only truly modern Lelong, 1999’s Pour Femme, a few years ago when I fell hard for it at my local perfume shop. This luscious floral-Oriental is a bombshell scent for sure, and with its rich notes of florals such as magnolia, lilac and orchid and honeyed, syrupy Kadota fig on a base of sandalwood, vetiver, oakmoss and musk it smells like something out of the glamorous Hollywood golden age, and I just adore it. Later I discovered that they now have a web site where they sell not only this and Indiscret, but several of their old classics, either in the original version or brought back in reformulation. Tailspin, Sirocco, Balalaika, Opening Night, Bain Parfait and Orgueil for women are available, and the lone men’s offering is Robin Hood.

I decided to see if I could find some of the original versions of these scents, but I had no idea how in-demand the Lelongs in general were; I had seen vintage bottles of Indiscret sell on auction sites for pretty impressive numbers but I had never really looked for the others. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the older Lelong perfumes are not always as hard to get as many others are; having been whipped into submission in my attempts to get even a small bottle of classic Shalimar Parfum I had expected the worst. I believe that one advantage was that the odd hobnail glass bottles with long necks that the fragrances came in for a long time (and the ones other than Indiscret and Pour Femme still do) can appear a little cheap in photos, and to the untrained eye they look a bit like drugstore specials. Another factor is that these scents are relatively unfamiliar, and many people looking for vintage perfumes might buy according to name recognition and go for the Guerlains and Chanels instead. In any event I was able to obtain three pristine vintage bottles for very little money: Indiscret, Tailspin and Sirocco. The first two came in an unopened gift set package, and I knew they were really old when I opened the package and examined it more closely. There was a Fedco price label on the box. This was a California members-only department store that existed only from 1948 to 1998; the price was all of $1.99, so I know that it was from the earlier years of the store’s run. The Sirocco bottle was individual, and the seller did not know the provenance, but it does not carry a bar code so I know it’s at least before that era, since everything has one now.

The most surprising one of these three was Indiscret; it was completely lacking in the green sharpness of the opening that makes it so unmistakable today. I don’t know if it is because the top notes are destroyed due to age or if Indiscret was massively reformulated at some point. However, once it’s been on the skin for a while, it reveals itself to be the real thing, as the distinctive rich, spice-laced heart notes are still there, and once I got over the opening I loved it. Tailspin revealed itself to be a true delight, with a fresh, almost bouncy joie de vivre reminiscent of Jean Patou’s masterpiece Moment Suprême. It has a lively herbal opening that is followed by a soft, breezy floral heart with a pleasing and somewhat soapy character. I plan to wear it a lot when spring comes, and on winter days when I really need a lift I will splash it with abandon. Sirocco is an Oriental fragrance with a compelling dry coriander flourish at the beginning that drew me in immediately. As it developed I noted a resemblance to a certain well-known classic perfume, only instead of all that dark vanilla it’s got an absolute ton of my beloved oakmoss in the base; I won’t need any Shalimar for a while after all.

Now I really want to try all the old Lelongs I can find, and if that is not possible I would feel confident in buying the back catalogue fragrances from the Web site, as they are very reasonably priced. I even sent the company an e-mail asking if they were considering re-releasing any other classics, but they have no plans to do so at this time. (I had read about their legendary Magnolia perfume, sadly long gone. If it were half as good as the magnolia in Pour Femme, I would sell my soul for it. I also asked them who did Pour Femme for them, but they declined to reveal that. )

I am offering a sample set of four Lucien Lelong scents - the three vintage ones mentioned plus a sample of Lelong Pour Femme. The vintage fragrances are all Eau de Cologne, but they have plenty of lasting power, and the Pour Femme is Eau de Parfum. Indicate in the comments if you are interested, and please note, I can only ship to U.S. addresses at this time, and any commenters posting as “Anonymous” who do not put a name in the body of their message will not be entered in the draw. The winner’s name will be drawn by an online randomizer program the week after this post appears.

Image credit: Lucien Lelong fashion sketch from Fashion Sleuth photo set, some rights reserved.

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