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Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Favorites & Best of 2009

PST is taking stock of seasonal and year-long favorites, please join us and list the scents that you have been enjoying the most this winter and in 2009. When we say, "best", we mean, "the ones that brought us the most delight". Can there be a bigger compliment?

Favorite Winter Perfume: Feminite du Bois by Shiseido. My fall love affair continues—boring for all of you but very satisfying for me. My apologies.

Best of 2009: Mythique by Parfums DelRae. I don’t understand how this happened. I don’t usually do subtle understatement and iris often escapes me altogether, but somehow Mythique—with it’s sunny opening citrus, it’s supple drydown so warm and close to the skin, and that bare hint of patch at the end of the orris—has become necessary to my present and future life.

Favorite Winter Perfume: Roxana Villa’s adorable set of solid chocolate perfumes are my favorite choices this winter. I adore the delicious La Foret...The sweet combination of pine and chocolate reminds me of all of the afternoons spent hiking through forests with my son and a steaming thermos of cocoa when he was still so very young!

Best of 2009: Juliet, by Juliet Stewart is THE perfume that I’ve fallen head over heels in love with this last year as It’s luscious, sexy nature is just so provocative and easy to wear whether I’m dressed for a black tie night or happily undressed for a romantic evening in......

Favorite Winter Perfume: My favorite winter comfort perfume has been Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque - its delicious blend of tobacco, leather and spices dries down to a sueded skin scent that smells like a warm horse on me; nothing is better for a cold night.

Best of 2009: A difficult decision, but my vote has to go to Histoires de Parfums Vert Pivoine, the best perfume rendition of my beloved peony blossoms I have ever smelled and an exquisite reminder of the gardens of my childhood.

Favorite Winter Perfume: Cartier Déclaration (1998) . It is a wonderful spicy scent with orange and cardamom mixed with cedar (it has a lot in common with Bigarade Concentrée which was also created by Jean Claude Ellena).

Best of 2009: Erik Kormann's 7 (Feige & Vetiver) which is a citrusy green vetiver that dries down to the most delicious vetiver/cedar accords I have ever smelled.


Favorite Winter Perfume: Winter cold arrives late-or-never where I live; despite the California rainstorm, the Japanese maples outside are still clinging to their flame-colored leaves, and the hummingbirds have decided it's spring and are nesting. I wanted a cozy winter scent but not a heavy one, and Prada's Infusion d'Iris has been the one to keep me coming back. It's as "between" seasons as our weather: earthy and otherworldly, cuddly and aloof, and just rooty enough to promise that spring is on its way.

Best of 2009: L'Artisan Perfumer's Havana Vanille. Here's why: this gorgeous scent made it completely socially acceptable for serious perfumistas to love deep, dark vanilla again. (I never stopped!)

Favorite Winter Perfume: This season's favorite was Areej Al-Ameerat's Syoufi Amber - cuddly enough to warm and soothe, but laced with enough frisky spiciness to get me to don my mukluks and brave winter's chill.

Best of 2009: AgarAura’s Areej Malaki has ushered me into dreamland for many moons- its glorious damascene sweetening my reveries, its mellow sandalwood soothing my restless soul, and Father Oud’s primal force opening forgotten doors to Layla’s enchanted court.

Favorite Winter Perfume: Natori. Warm, spicy, sweet aldehydes, an incredibly attractive contrast of darkness and light, of fire and ice. Or in one word, ssssexy!

Best of 2009: Vanille Galante by Hermes. An unexpected love (and isn't it always?), an I-don't-know-how-to-explain-it craving... vanilla and water... it couldn't have been any more unlikely for me to fall in love with this pastel, understated creation of Ellena's, and yet I did. The most easy-to-wear, invariably pleasing and pleasant fragrance in my collection.

Favorite Winter Perfume: My top pick for winter is Caron's Parfum Sacre; rosy incense, who could ask for more on a gloomy, frigid day?

Best of 2009: My top pick for 2009 is Amouage Epic; this house stands out for consistent high quality and outstanding perfumes, and Epic may be their most gorgeous feminine yet.

Favorite Winter Perfume & Best of 2009: The scent I've been enjoying most this year personally is Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles, his delicious ode to pine. But I'm giving my nod for Best of 2009 to Smell Bent Commando (indeed the whole line). Nothing has debuted this year that has made me happier and at $20 for 1/4oz you indulge without guilt.

To check other lists, please visit: Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This and Perfume Posse.

Image original source, Robert Hoppe.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spring Fling: Smell Bent Limited Edition Leisure Cruise

First things first: The winner of the draw for the Roxana Chocolate solids is varunner. Please click on the "Contact us" button to give us your address.

You might remember last October when I reviewed a bunch of creations of young perfumer Brent Leonesio, the Los Angeles based nose behind one of the funnest (to borrow a Steve Jobs-ism) new lines out there, Smell Bent. His line runs on the ethos that perfumes should be fun and more importantly affordable. They're also really good.

Just in time for the winter blahs to firmly take hold he has released five new limited edition seasonal "smellies" he calls "Leisure Cruise". They are:

St. Tropez Dispenser: Listed notes are jasmine, coconut and musk. At first there's a big wallop of coconut before the jasmine, musk and aloe conspire to make this somewhere between CH I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 and Creed Virgin Island Water. Eventually the coconutty suntan lotion portion cedes to the jasmine and it goes more native. Makes me think of Dorothy Lamour. Maybe not the first thing I would reach for (I liked but didn't buy either of the other two), but if you're a fan of either Jasmine or Virgin Island Water you might want to give this a whirl.

Monaco Dependent: Orange blossom and opoponax with "greens" are the notes from the website. There's a lovely grassiness to this that balances the other ingredients. I liked this one immediately and immensely; it's fresh green fields and light springy orange blossom would be more effective against seasonal affective disorder than a light-box and a Xanax. I don't know if it's Monaco, but I do know it's me.

Brussels Sprouted is greener still: listing "sprouted greens, Himalayan cedar and deep, green musk growing fresh, wet earth". The sprouting greens stop just short of being minty; they really do smell almost like sprouts. When the cedar comes in the scent becomes dryer, then moister when the musk and earth notes drop in. Those of you who react to the earth notes in CB I Hate Perfumes as graveyard needn't be frightened; this is the freshest of the bunch, and certainly the most masculine.

Thai'd Down is written of as "sparkling kumquat", mushroom, wood and pepper. I honestly don't get kumquat (although I think I last ate one about 10 years ago..), but there's definitely the blameless scent of fresh button mushrooms with just a hint of citrus. This is perhaps the most challenging of these initially, reminding me of Frederick Malle's Dans Tes Bras, another scent I was not moved enough to buy. But if you sniffed the Malle and lamented that you would have to choose between your phone bill and it this might be right up your cruise ship..

Bollywood or Bust was hands down my favorite. He lists rose, spices and sandalwood in there, but I smell a lot more: I think there's cumin (just a touch, this isn't Serge Noire) and I think a touch of mint or something that balances the darker spices and keeps it more vivacious and less vindaloo. It does get calmer and a little darker as it develops, but leaning in to smell it you'll get that bright opening again. I can see why he called it "Bollywood". It has something of the hyper-stylized feel of a Bollywood Musical; super-saturated with color, full of movement and just a little odd.

These are limited editions and I don't know when they'll be history, so if you're curious, act fast. Samples are available at his website for $3.75 each. I received my samples directly from him. My godchild has already told me that she will absolutely DIE if she doesn't get mine so sorry, no draw.

Available at the Smell Bent Website and at Luckyscent. $20 for 1/4oz.

Image source, Smell Bent.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sweet/Tart Part Two- Roxana Illuminated Perfume Chocolate Natural Perfumes ..and a draw

By Tom

Previously I had covered Blossom, Roxana Villa delightful ode to the Eau de Cologne. This time I'm talking about her new line of solid perfumes based on chocolate, "the food of the gods"

My personal journey with perfume with chocolate notes started of course with Angel, which I instantly loathed. Like "get that s&(t away from me" loathed. Then I smelled in on a co-worker on whom it was a total delight. Still is ghastly on me, but a gateway drug is a gateway drug. Then there was Borneo 1834, which was an instant love and my first Bell Jar. There have been others, but I do have to write that Chocolate (or Cacoa more accurately) isn't the first thing I think of when I think of perfumes. When Roxana told me that her new line was all Cocoa, all the time I thought "Hmmm" Then she explained that while they're solid perfumes that stand alone, they're almost to be used as body butters, to be layered with themselves and other Illuminated Perfumes.

Figure 1: Noir is pretty Noir: dark woods, dark spices (I smell cinnamon bark and patchouli?) and dark chocolate. The chocolate is the hero ingredient for only about 50% of the time. The other 50% is the woods and musk. I'd love to see a perfume version of this with say 80% woods and 20% Cacao to layer it.

Figure 2: Cerise is described as cherry and chocolate. It's not. Which is my opinion is no bad thing: I;m not sure that a literal interpretation is something I'd like. It does suggest cherries, but in a whisper, as is the chocolate.

Figure 3: La Forêt is a "dense conifer forest meets and ocean of chocolate". It's definitely dense conifer but the chocolate is more like a pond, and arrives late to the party. It also arrives with a bit of saltiness that's not only fascinating but works extremely well with the piney opening.

Figure 4: L'Orangerie is not immediately choco-tastic. It opens bright with citrus peel, sort of like ripping into a fresh mandarin. The Cacao is never intrusive, it seems like a base to the citrus. She writes that "this perfume is VERY fleeting", but I got a decent lasting power out of it and think it would be great with a citrus scent on top.

Figure 5: Bois de Chocolat is "smokey woods and chocolate". First, I think that there is nobody who does smoke better than Roxana Villa and this is a wonderful example of it: it has the smokiness of her Chaparral supplanted with the smoky sweetness of the cocao bean. Of any of these this is the one I'd like to own, hands down.

Figure 6: Épices is spices, vanilla and chocolate. To me it smells sort of like a chai latte with a hit of Sharffen Berger (the brand she uses to make the line). It's the one that I find the least interesting in the line. But having written that, I have a feeling that a little of this rubbed behind your ears and you'll have boys eating out of your hand.

I have a sampler of all six available for one reader, if you wish to be included in the draw please leave a comment.

Available at her Etsy shop, in various combinations. She provided me with my small samples and the samples for the draw.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Guerlain L’Heure Bleue: It’s the Parfum, Stupid

By Donna

I have another Guerlain story to share. Recently I sallied forth to my local Nordstrom store in search of the latest releases, as I do quite regularly. The selection is good and the staff will cheerfully whip up a sample for you, unlike the Macy’s down the street, where the business plan is apparently to not do anything that might encourage a shopper to actually buy something. I browsed through some of the new fragrances, and then I turned to the wall where the old standbys are kept. There were only two Guerlains out, but the bottles looked really small, and I could not tell by the plain, blocky shapes which ones they were. I moved closer, and I was pleased to see that they were Jicky and L’ Heure Bleue. Then I saw the small print on the bottles just below the names.

It said Parfum. And they were testers.

Unable to believe my good luck, I grabbed a couple of paper strips and sprayed away, then I did the same to both arms, not caring how I might smell to my fellow bus riders on the way home. (Besides, they were both Guerlains; they wouldn’t clash.)

I had never tried either of these in anything but Eau de Toilette as far as I could recall, and certainly never in Parfum, and what a revelation! Jicky worked on me as it never had before, and something about it reminded me very much of my precious little bottle of vintage Caron Nuit de Noel extrait that was thrown in with a bargain basement online auction purchase. I would just love to smell the parfum strength of Jicky on a man. But that’s another story, and it was L’ Heure Bleue that really blew my mind this time. It would appear that the Guerlains agree with me the most when they are in Parfum concentration. All I need now is a bigger bank account and I can have all of them, haha! (Sound of maniacal laughter ensues, followed by heartfelt sobbing.)

L’ Heure Bleue has always been one of the few Guerlains that I found approachable, or at least partially understandable, back in the days when my only firsthand knowledge of fine fragrance came from clandestine sniffs at department store cosmetics counters ruled by stern ladies in black dresses and an inch of pancake makeup highlighted by perfect circles of bright rouge. I found it to be soft and a more than a bit melancholy, and I loved the magazine ads for it, with their evocative imagery of impossibly lovely twilight realms. Looking at those images I just wanted to step into that world and be lost, free from all care and worry. Dusk has been my favorite time of day since I was a small child and it remains so today. If only it lasted longer.

Never having experienced the Parfum version of this scent before, I can’t really say if reformulation has taken its toll or not. Since it’s an Oriental like Shalimar and not a Chypre like Mitsouko, there is no oakmoss to be rationed and the other main ingredients are not completely restricted yet, and so I believe that this is still mostly untouched by the cold, dead hand of IFRA. (This perfume is one of Guerlain’s untouchable icons in which a change in formula would be noticed by the loyal customers immediately, and not in a good way.) In any case, it’s a wonder. At first it was so serious and almost smoky that it seemed like a masculine scent. What passes for “sweet” in a classic Guerlain, the deep and syrupy secret Guerlinade vanilla accord, is as dark as it is sweet, more like molasses than caramel in this 1912 masterpiece by the great Jacques Guerlain. Somber and almost stern in this concentration, it evokes for me the image of a woman leaning against a window looking at out at an approaching thunderstorm, the clouds darkening the sky in a simulacrum of nightfall as lightning flashes across the sky. She is worried, almost frantic, looking for someone, a child perhaps, who is out there somewhere trying to beat the storm home. It is immediately clear that my beloved Bal à Versailles owes a great deal to the heritage of L’ Heure Bleue as well. Only instead of dancing merrily in the grand ballroom and flirting outrageously with the courtiers, L’ Heure Bleue is wrapped in a heavy velvet cloak and standing on a parapet, the wind lashing her face, the music below only a distant echo. The soft and comforting L’ Heure Bleue I had found in the lighter concentration had become something else entirely in parfum form, a monumental and somewhat intimidating beauty whose gentle melancholy had turned into a drowning sorrow.

After a long time, the mood softens as the powdery florals peek out and assert themselves. The sweet anise and iris give a lift to the composition, which still never loses a certain seriousness all the way to the end. In this perfume, carnation loses its innocence entirely and turns into a deep-voiced Gypsy fortuneteller, and rose is not a lilting Rose de Mai but a tempting siren painted in the blood red of glowing embers. Never was vanilla so much in opposition to a gourmand sensibility as in this and other Guerlain classics. Its character reminds me of the pineapple note in Jean Patou’s masterful Colony; such a fruit never really existed, but it is still the very heart of everything a pineapple should be, as syrupy and twisted and inedible and dangerous as it is. The Guerlinade vanilla is most definitely not anyone’s dessert, but rather an intoxicating mélange of sensations that locks on to whatever other elements are in the perfume, and in doing so it creates an unmatched alchemy as it melds with the florals and spices. Unlike the ephemeral twilight of its name, it persists a long time on the skin and will endure as an all-time classic fragrance. Now that I have tried it the way it should be smelled, I hope that is a very long time.

Image credit: New Moon by American artist Maxfield Parrish, via

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Friday, January 15, 2010


Support Haiti disaster relief efforts:

American Red Cross

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières

Haitian Physicians Abroad (New York)

Mercy Corps (Portland)

Partners in Health (Boston)

Project Medishare (Miami)

The National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians (New York)


William J. Clinton Foundation

World Food Programme

Yele Haiti


Haiti earthquake: How to help (msnbc)

Earthquake Relief: How You Can Help (Huffington Post)

The Goods: Help Send Relief to Haiti

Creed Royal Scottish Lavender

Lavender, a chilly note in and of itself, is not necessarily my favorite fragrance ingredient in cold weather, unless I am looking for an olfactory detox of sorts... if not remorseful corporal mortification... after the holiday excesses. Or unless it is served warm, like in Creed's Royal Scottish Lavender.

Built on the same jolting-n-soothing principle as, say, mint hot chocolate, a drink made for snowy days, Royal Scottish Lavender juxtaposes the fresh, bright sharpness of lavender with the sweet, satisfyingly thick velvetiness of vanilla and sandalwood. Like with mint hot chocolate, where the cooling effect of mint somehow tricks your mind into thinking that the beverage, despite being chocolaty, creamy and sweet, is not particularly calorific, Creed's Lavender creates an illusion of transparency and gives me that vague, smug feeling I always get when wearing an herbal(-ish) scent- that in some way the perfume is actually good for me, aroma-therapeutically speaking. Add to that the cushiony, snugly effect of vanilla and sandalwood, and what you have is a great winter comfort scent. If you too don't believe that lavender may be such, do give Creed's rendition a try.

Available where Creed is sold, $175.00-$280.00.

Image source,

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet/Tart Part One: Roxana Illuminated Perfume Blossom

By Tom

Roxana Villa has quickly become one of my favorite of the natural perfumers. She has introduced a new series of chocolate solid perfumes that I will be reviewing next week (with a sample give-away) but first I want to touch on one of her scents that she has brought back into production, Blossom.

She describes blossom as a "traditional Eau de Cologne" based upon her memories of a scent she remembers from her childhood in Argentina called: Colonia de Bebe", which is somewhat like 4711.

I've never smelled Colonia de Bebe, and I have smelled 4711. Well, let me clarify: I've smelled the vintage back in the 70's since my grandfather wore it. The stuff that you get today in the plastic vat at your local Duane Reade has as much to do with vintage 4711 as Diet Pepsi does to Dom Perignon.

Blossom does evoke those memories. By using pure botanical ingredients she's created a delicious puzzle-box of a fragrance: it's both light with orange blossom yet heady with jasmine and prickly with rosemary. I don't want to write that it's fresh and clean because that usually evokes dryer sheets and those scents that smell vaguely like aluminium, but this is fresh and clean, as if you'd just plucked the flowers and the peel and rubbed them together in your hands. If you have any memory of "traditional Eau de Cologne" you'll connect with it immediately but even if you don't I defy you not to fall for this. While I can imagine bathing in this in a hot summer (especially in humidity) I can equally see it's brightness as being uplifting on a drab winter day.

As I type this I am watching "Psycho" and thinking that John Gavin is the perfect image of the man who would smell like this: handsome, straighforward and very male. Not to say that a woman couldn't totally rock this. Certainly were I partnered I would buy one for my "Trevor" and ruthlessly filch..

$7.50 for a 5 gram spray bottle at her Etsy shop, she's promising larger sizes soon. I hope she adds body products, room spray and perhaps dryer sheets.

Image source, Roxana Villa Illuminated

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Encountering Kilian: On Pretension and Back to Black Aphrodisiac

By Alyssa

Long, long, ago, back around, oh, 2007 or so, a young man by the name of Kilian took his gothic complexion, a killer pair of cheekbones and a modest portion of his inherited fortune and invested them all in a perfume company. And we laughed. Remember that? Remember the Le Prix Eau Faux-inspiring introductory sales copy re-uniting Baudelaire and Snoop Dogg at long last? Then there was the accompanying press photo (see above) featuring said complexion and cheekbones, and reminding one ever so slightly of Edward Scissorhands or, more recently, of pretty teenage vampires.* We laughed some more. When we were not laughing we were outraged. The prices! The ridiculous packaging! (Lacquered boxes! A key for god’s sakes!) The sheer pretension of it all!

And then, well, damn it if some of the perfume wasn’t pretty good. So some of us laughed a little less. And some of us, like me, raged a little more, and refused to smell the stuff on principle. (The principle of saving my money for other perfume.) But then Denyse wrote one of her patented perfumerotica** reviews of Back to Black and Pure Oud over on Grain de Musc, and Patti over on Perfume Posse agreed, and when I came across the By Kilian counter in Bergdorf Goodman’s on recent trip to New York I found myself walking over with a sheepish grin to ask for a sniff or two.

“Are you familiar with our line?” asked the beautiful young SA, blonde and gracious, with an Eastern European accent I couldn’t quite place.

I hemmed and hawed. Yes, I said, I knew of the line, but no, I hadn’t actually smelled much of it up until now because, well… Then came one of those moments in my life, of which there are rather too many, when I hear myself talking and wonder when on earth I will stop. Because, with much awkward laughter, and no doubt blushing, too, I was explaining that it had taken me a long time to explore the line because of my initial reaction to copy/price/ packaging etc. Somewhere in there, I used the word “posturing.”

“But what is this ‘posturing’?” said the SA, puzzled, but not unfriendly. “I am Albanian. Perhaps I do not understand the English. Posture is a good thing, yes? It means to stand up straight?”

Oh god, could this get any more awkward? Now I had to explain my rudeness. “Well,” I managed, “some of us”—not just me, really!—“found the ad copy a little pretentious. Posturing as in posing. Striking a pose. Being false.”

“But I am not posing!” she cried, horrified.

“Oh, no, no, no, no” I hastened to reassure her. “This is not about you. You don’t have anything to do with how the line is marketed! That’s all up to the PR people. And to Kilian himself, I assume.”

“Ah, I see,” she said. “But Kilian is very nice!”

Apparently it could get more awkward.

“Ah, I see,” I repeated back to her. “You’ve met him.”

“Oh, yes!” she said. “He comes to visit me every now and then.”

And then she said, with what I swear was a twinkle in her eye:

“Would you like to meet him? He is standing right over there.”

And that, dear friends, is how I met Kilian Hennessy (who is tiny, but otherwise looks exactly like his photo, and who really is very nice, though a little tetchy about the whole Amy Winehouse/Back to Black connection, which must be a question he gets a lot). It is also how I made my New Year’s Resolution to keep my own posturing to a minimum—or at least as private as possible— in 2010. And last, but not least, it is how I met the lovely Bukurije Bardhoshi, who has an excellent sense of humor in addition to her own set of killer cheekbones and who very graciously gave me a sample of Back to Black after I was done talking to Mr. H. Please. Someone out there on the verge of buying something Kilian, go buy it from her, and tell her I sent you.

Because I cannot. Buy something, that is. It would be true justice and the best ending to this story to say it was love at first sniff between me and BtB and I’m on my way to get my very own lacquered box. In fact, I’ve been holding on to this post, testing and re-testing, waiting for Aphrodisiac to reveal its magic so I could have that ending. (Maybe when it’s colder? Maybe on a rainy day? Maybe when I’m in a different mood?) I expected to love it. And I smell in it many bits of things I already love: the honeyed, apple-pie opening of Ambre Narguile (though BtB has rather more tobacco), the pipe tobacco and mysterious smoky syrup of Fumerie Turque (though BtB is sweeter, and not so dark), the raw-honey and vanilla of Botrytis, some of the waxy fruitiness that opens Bois de Paradis, a bit of the dusky phase (imortelle?) from Songes, and even a touch of the unbeloved (by me) but fascinating funky hawthorn from Miel de Bois. Alas, Back to Black does not, as those perfumes do, meld with my skin and surround me in a warm glow that makes comfort a sexy thing. Instead, it just sits there, ignoring me. I might as well be walking around with a huge, overscented candle in my purse. And, heresy of heresies, there are moments when BtB’s waxiness veers perilously close to vanilla Yankee Candle. I also regret to say that on the mornings after I apply—it lasts forever—I often detect something bitter and slightly chemical behind the sweetness. So. More for the rest of you who find it purring and stretching and doing all kinds of other unspeakably delicious things on your skin—just drop a note in the comments if you’d like to be in the draw for my sample. I’m holding out for some more Bois des Iles in parfum. Vintage please, if you’ve got it.

*Has anyone noticed that make-up wunderkind Edward Bess is working exactly the same pretty vampire look? Or is it just me?

**Update: until this post went up I was unaware that fellow PST contributor Beth Gehring had been using the term "perfumerotica" since last May as the title of her beautiful blog over on Beth writes that she is also "hard at work on a magazine, book and lifestyle store of the same name" where she will make "beautiful, luxuiant and passionate items" available to all. Stay tuned to her blog for future info!

Image © By Kilian. Available via German Vogue and half-a-zillion other places around the internet. The one that used to be on the NST announcement post has disappeared.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Le Labo Jasmin 17

By Tom

This long weekend was filled not with resolutions (since they'd be broken in about 10 minutes anyway) but with random wandering. I saw two movies with my BFF Sue ("Nine", which got a 3 and "A Single Man" for which Colin Firth should win the Oscar) and wandered around the neighborhood. Shockingly I wandered into Le Labo. I was randomly sniffing and noted that I had never tried on their take on Jasmine, so I partook.

Jasmine isn't something that I would usually wear, any more that I would red lipstick or a push-up bra. This one (like quite a few of Le Labo's scents) seem almost tangentially about the name ingredient. So while there is jasmine (a lovely, soft one) it's comfortably nestled into orange flower, sandalwood and citrus. While it has pretty good longevity it's not a big projector so a man could perfectly well get away with it. Since Le Labo does those cunning little 15ML sizes I can't think of a particular reason that I shouldn't eventually indulge..

At LuckyScent (larger sizes only), the Le Labo website or at their stores and selected Barneys. 15ML for $52, 50ML for $130 and 100ML for $200. Ancillary products also available at the stores and website. I tested mine in the store.

Image source, Le Labo.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

How Sweet It Is: Keiko Mecheri Loukhoum, Loukhoum Parfum du Soir & Loukhoum Eau Poudrée

By Donna

I first discovered Keiko Mecheri’s Loukhoum several years ago – I quite liked it, but I thought it was too sweet and girly for me, especially considering that I am no longer an ingénue, to say the least. Recently I received it in a swap along with the two fairly recent flankers, Loukhoum Parfum du Soir and Loukhoum Eau Poudrée, all created by perfumer Yann Vasnier. Both of them challenged my expectations, as well as my previous opinion of the original.

Before I started my review, I decided I had to do some market research, so off I went in search of some actual Turkish delight sweets to see how close the confection-inspired perfume was to the real thing. I found a small package of the authentic stuff, made in Turkey, which turned out to be much less sweet than I had anticipated; my previous experience was with the version sold by the See’s candy store chain, which while delicious is also intensely, molar-spinningly sweet and I can only handle a piece or two at a time, and it is very soft as well. The imported Turkish delight was pleasingly dense and chewy with plenty of pistachios to cut the sugar. In fact, that is all it was – sugar, pistachios and citric acid to cut the sweetness, coated in powdered sugar that itself was not all that sweet. I was hoping to get some with rosewater or some other exotic flavoring, but I guess I will need to look further afield for that. In any case, it did indeed resemble the perfume called Loukhoum to some extent, but it’s not the exact candy that the perfume is based on, which does have rosewater along with dates and almonds, though the general idea is the same, a sweet base with some kind of nuts added. Loukhoum the fragrance is for almond lovers, and this delicate flavor is combined with vanilla, Bulgarian rose and several sweet, powdery flowers to make a hazy cloud of a perfume. If you love sweet Oriental gourmand scents but can’t stand the dreadful cheaper things like Aquolina Pink Sugar, this could be your dream perfume.

Next up, I tested Loukhoum Parfum du Soir, a concentrated version of the original with darker notes added. Then, dear readers, I promptly fell in love. I had been thinking it would be too much, even sweeter than the first, but no – with the addition of oud, benzoin, patchouli and Tonka bean, it becomes just what its name implies, like a velvet evening lush with sensuous anticipation. The rose is now rose absolute and Rose Wardia, a particularly potent rose essence, and the vanilla is Madagascar absolute. By ramping up the intensity at all levels and adding the oud, this becomes not a sugar fest but a celebration of sensuality. This is my clear favorite of the three Loukhoums and I may have to get some. Never say never, I guess!

The third in this series is Loukhoum Eau Poudrée, which unlike Parfum du Soir is a lighter, airier version of the first perfume, a fluffy puff of a thing, but instead of being too sugary it has a milky, calming feel to it. I was really afraid that this one would be like Villoresi’s Teint de Neige revisited, but it’s not, and since I am definitely not a fan of too much powder in perfume, I was happy to find that it is not nearly as much so as its name implies. The powdery note comes from orris and candied almond accord, lightened by narcissus, violet leaves and white rose. It’s a gentle fragrance, easy to live with and easily wearable for day, as long as you use a light hand. Its creamy, gentle nature would make an ideal comfort scent for someone who loves almond and vanilla but does not want the strong ambery qualities that so often accompany these notes in Oriental style perfumes.

All three of these fragrances are available online at Luscious Cargo and Luckyscent; the most expensive is the Parfum du Soir at $120 for 30 ml, which seems almost reasonable these days. The other two are 50 ml and are $80 and $90. (Also, the old tall, tippy bottle style is no more, replaced by a pretty, rounded flask.) Samples are also available directly from the Keiko Mecheri Web site and they offer a sample coffret of all three Loukhoums for $10. Any of them will last you a long time, since a drop or two is sufficient to last all day and well into the night.

Image credit: All three Loukhoums in a boxed gift set for $290, available from

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