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Monday, February 28, 2011

A New York state of mind: Bond No. 9's New York Oud and a prize draw

By Beth

I fell in love with New York City at a very young age. My parents traveled to New York at least 4 times a year and because I was the youngest I always got to go with them. My parents owned a spectacular jewelry and gift store in Cleveland , Ohio and we made these trips so that we could replenish our gift stocks. I loved those times…. we’d usually work all day, but sometimes we’d sneak away and the three of us would go walking around the city hand in hand for hours, maybe catch an exhibit at the Met and just completely enjoy the fashionably gritty vibe of one of the most original cities in the world .

After a bit of shopping and a trip to the original Godiva Chocolate store for me, we would climb into a cab and go off to have a marvelous dinner, a little dancing and sometimes a carriage ride through Central Park late into the evening. My mother who was really a New Yorker at heart always insisted that we dress for dinner and we rarely ate before 8:00. These were pretty heady experiences for a child but I was an 8 year old who longed to be Eloise at The Plaza and I loved every one of them. Fortunately for me she also insisted that we stay at The St. Regis Hotel, a masterpiece of the gilded age located since the turn of the century at Number 2, East 55th and 5th Avenue. The St. Regis was at that time the winter home of Salvador Dali and his fabulous ocelot. It was and is still impossibly gorgeous, but I’ve always been very sure that the presence of the magnificent surrealist was the main reason that she always chose to stay there.

Often I’d sit and wait for Dali to descend the grand staircase into the lobby. He had the most amazing flamboyant style which was so very appropriate for the beautiful surroundings that he was living in. You never knew when he was going to appear but when he did it was always worth the wait. He met my adoring gaze only once but in that moment my life changed forever. He was so completely in charge of his surroundings that the room would fall silent. He smelled of Arabian incense and exotic far away lands. I was enchanted by his lavish costumes and the ocelot beside him on his leash; elegant and almost obscenely beautiful. I still dream of that ocelot...I can still see his eyes. I have always wondered what it would feel like to walk the streets of New York City with a creature like that moving silently and stealthily alongside, a barely domesticated yet completely loyal companion.

Every thing about New York for me is a thoroughly incredible experience and when I am there I am acutely aware of every sight, every sound, every smell. No other city can move me to tears in an instant because I so adore it because NYC is a symphony of heady experiences all blended together in a way that’s completely confusing to my senses. Where else can you have your heart broken in an instant by the solitary glance of a strangely exotic man yet find yourself flirting with the beautiful boy who sold you a steaming bag full of fragrantly roasted chestnuts only moments later. Where else can you mournfully light candles at one of the most gorgeous cathedrals in the world and seconds later be happily trying on lipstick at Henri Bendels? New York City turns me inside out, rearranges all of my molecules and never sends me home the same woman that I was when I arrived.

I have searched for a very long time to find a perfume that could remind me of the New York of my past , present and future. That’s a difficult task for any fragrance, because my New York is made up of a million faceted impressions, many of them conflicting, all of them sensually charged, sparkling and potent. My New York City is a gregarious animal, completely playful by day, only to become passionate and erotically charged when night falls.

Then, there’s dusk in that magical city. I haven’t figured out exactly what happens during dusk in New York but it seems to be the switch that transforms the city from a bustling center of commerce to a decadent playground by night. MIx one perfect martini on the rooftop loft of the Gansevoort Hotel with one perfect man while watching the sun set over the stunning views of the Hudson river and you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. Not shaken…definitely stirred.
Then there’s that very romantic moment when we finally get back to the hotel and my husband smiles and slowly removes his tie. Tell me…how could one fragrance possibly capture all of those moments for me?

About 3 weeks ago I met Bond 9’s extraordinary new fragrance, the utterly fabulous New York Oud. Simply one of the sexiest Ouds that I’ve ever smelled, I knew instantly that I’d found it. New York Oud still amazes me every time I put it on. By day it’s direct, sophisticated and when I spray it lightly through my hair and along the hem of my skirt becomes a perfect accessory for whatever adventure lies ahead!

The initial blast of plum, saffron and orange provide some fun and if you can actually describe an Oud as refreshing, this one definitely is. It’s as easy to wear with classic Ralph Lauren as it is to enjoy with generous strands of pearls and your mothers vintage Chanel. It can be almost interpreted as down right ladylike. You’ll notice that I said “almost” because this Oud is only pretending to be very well behaved.

However you’ll need to be prepared because by nightfall it will have morphed into a smoky panther of a perfume that is prepared to stalk, hunt and capture. By the time that the last ray of sun will have disappeared over the NYC skyline, the patchouli, Oud , orris and sumptuous roses will have come out to dance and seduce with sheer erotic abandon. By the time you get past midnight the very last part of this unusual perfume will have emerged. It is romantic and soft with a buttery quality than makes my heart melt and my husband just a little bit weak in the knees. It is honey and musk with a bit of vetiver to add a touch of raw earthiness to what will certainly become a night to remember. The spell lingers til morning , still romantic and softly honeyed by the light of the day. I don’t know how they did it, but the alchemists at Bond 9 are brilliant and I’ll never be without a bottle of New York Oud. They have captured the New York of my past, captivated me with thoughts of the present and filled me with a sense of adventure for what is yet to come. Who knows? That may even include an ocelot…….

I have four fabulous samples to give away courtesy of Raphaella, mistress of the Bond No. 9 Blog. Just let me know in your comments that I’ve wet your appetite and you’d like to be entered into the drawing! The draw is now closed.

New York Oud is available at and all of the Bond No. 9 boutiques.

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Winner of Xerjoff Sample Giveaway JMBalaya. Please send me your mailing address using the contact me link on the right.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Which came first? Sex or Truffles?

By Beth

The first time that I fell in love with the glorious taste of fresh truffles was when my husband and I were enjoying a gorgeous meal at Cafe' Boulud in NYC and I ordered the roasted chicken with truffle sauce. As I ordered, the darling young waiter looked at my husband with a knowing eye and gave me a fairly flirtatious wink. When he brought my order he placed it in front of me with a huge grin, removed the silver cloche with a flourish and handed my husband an extra sauce spoon. A sauce spoon is essentially a completely flattened tablespoon fitted with a little notch in the bowl. Its sole raison d’etre is to recover every delicious bit of a sauce! I’m of the opinion that it’s one of the most brilliant pieces of flatware ever made, the other being the silver cloche!

I say that because as soon as the cloche was removed, the most remarkably concentrated scent filled the air which is the sole reason to use one. It’s all about the theatre, a culinary sleight of hand used purposefully to gain your attention , disarm you and then send your senses reeling. I closed my eyes and bent down towards my plate. Gorgeous slices of lemony roasted chicken lay before me and the herbs that had been used, some thyme and a bit of sage were still clinging to the crackling, buttery skin.

There were beautifully roasted potatoes and a simple haricots vert’ with a julienne of fennel and feathery dill and make no mistake the French truly know what to do with a vegetable to bring out its richness without destroying its essential nature. The potatoes were soft on the inside, yet crispy on the outside and the beans were crisp yet totally tender. The entire meal was incredibly bright, beautiful and lush, but it was the sauce that brought me to my knees.

It was a simple sauce, made from pan juices, a beurre blanc and a bit of white vermouth. That alone would have been wonderful, but there were generous slices of black truffle laced throughout and it was impossible to miss the unmistakable lustiness that permeated the dish. I was completely disarmed and so was my husband. Eating it became an quite an act of foreplay, slowly savoring, sauce spoons touching but just barely. Bread was used to sop up what the sauce spoons couldn't touch and at that moment I realized that resistance was futile. I won’t even begin to talk about the cab ride back to our hotel.......

The truffle is renowned for it's supposed ability to excite the sexual appetite and there’s quite a simple reason for smells just like the best kind of sex. I know that you understand…it’s the kind that your mother warned you about! Sweaty and raunchy with almost obsessive foreplay that lasts for hours kind of sex. The kind of passion that you can only have with someone that you’re absolutely not supposed to be playing that way with or someone that you’re so comfortable with that anything can and does go …..

French Perigord Black or Italian white, it’s your choice how you’re seduced. Say what you will of their rarity and the absurdity of their price but really how much fun is the thought of having an ingredient to cook with that is hunted by pigs and dogs alike and can barely be reproduced outside of a gorgeous forest somewhere in Europe? The concept is so very romantic...the image of a truffle hunter out in the woods with his dogs searching passionately for this fairly common looking bit of culinary treasure. The truffle is technically a fungus and grows underground in the company of some very specific types of trees. There are efforts to reproduce them here in this country, but truthfully that might ruin the pleasure for me. I’m a bit of a forager at heart and I love their scarcity and the fact that I can only get them fresh several times a year. All things taste best in their season and truffles are not the exception to that rule. They are the most fabulous when they are fresh and that is beginning in the month of October and sometimes stretching well into February.

Lately it seems that everyone is having a love affair with the truffle and you can find them served fresh during the season in some really great restaurants. Be sure to know what you’re ordering otherwise you might be in for a huge surprise when you get the check. Last October when Jim and were in New York for the weekend we stopped at what is possibly the most pretentious of w York restaurants for lunch called Nello, located on the upper East Side. Nello is quite fabulous…a place to see and be seen if you’re into that sort of thing and ridiculously pricey. I go for the Bellini’s which are absolutely wonderful and because the whole scene just cracks me up every time . I think (although many wouldn’t agree with me) that the food isn’t their top priority, but affectation is and they do that beautifully. Two years ago when sitting outside under the awning happily sipping away, I watched in amusement as a waiter brought a huge glass cloche filled with fresh truffles to the table of a woman who was obviously there on a date. She chose her truffle (her truffle!) and he came back a short time after with plate after plate of wonderfulness. It was one of the most incredible things that I’ve ever seen and smelled even better than it looked. It was the perfect New York people watching experience!

To get back to the story of our lunch, my husband asked for the specials and was told that there was a wonderful truffled pasta available which of course he ordered immediately. I realized the potential for disaster as soon as the cloche was lifted. Before him was the most amazing bowl of fresh angel hair pasta dressed with olive oil with a touch of salt and approximately 1 cup of shaved fresh white truffles dancing on the top. At that moment I took a deep breath and watched him devour it with total abandon .

I got to taste approximately one forkful and trust me it was mind blowing. I’ve never tasted anything like it…it was fresh truffles and pasta, it was perfect. He would have licked the bowl clean if he could have and when the check came we laughed and all took bets. The cost of that plate was a ridiculous 250.00! Would I do it again? Absolutely! Watching him enjoy it as much as he did was totally hot….

We are simple creatures and the truffle Goddess understands the obsessive ends to which we will go to feed our passions well. Truffles are rare and that is one of the reasons why a fine fresh truffle will cost you a small fortune. Give in to temptation once in your life because it's completely worth it.
Infusing them in a fine fresh olive oil is fun and produces an oil with a wonderful flavor or if you place one in a jar of fresh arborio rice for a few days you will soon be able to make a risotto absolutely fit for Venus herself.

You could also get a glass canister and a few very fresh organic eggs and put the truffle in with the eggs. Believe it or not the incredible aroma will permeate the shells and the scrambled eggs that you make will be divine. Just remember to cook them slowly, with lots of butter in a double boiler. This way the scent will not be lost, the eggs will be creamy, yet fully cooked and the little bits of the truffle that you've chopped and whisked into the eggs will be nothing short of decadent. No chives, no cheese…just a bit of sea salt and a touch of pepper. Nothing else. Do this just once in your life because I promise…. once you have eaten your way through a plate of creamy truffle studded scrambled eggs you will never want to eat them plain again! All that’s needed to complete this breakfast are some toast points and a really good glass of champagne.

Breakfast in bed anyone?

Since that first roasted chicken, I've spent a lot of time searching for truffle products, because I love them and my husband has an appetite for them that is never satisfied. You can get a wonderful truffled salt, truffle butters and many different kinds of pate's and infused oils. In the absence of a fresh truffle you can do what Isabel Allende suggests in her book “Aphrodite. “ In the absence of enough money to afford the real thing, but desiring to make a lasting impression on her new lover, she was taught by her grocer to chop up several black olives very fine and rinse them to remove any traces of the salty brine which she then placed in bowl to which she added some very good truffle oil and let them sit out overnight. I have tried this myself and it’s a very fine suggestion. The olives will begin to completely smell and taste of truffles and you can use them in the same way. How about some truffled mashed potatoes? Salmon with black truffle sauce? Clouds of ricotta gnocchi with the aforementioned olives , truffle oil and fresh parmesan? Fresh asparagus dipped in truffle mayonnaise and slowly eaten with your fingers? Oh my God I’m getting hungry!

Which since this is after all a column about fragrance leaves me to one last thought. A little bit of that white truffle oil dabbed in all of the right places tends to leave my husband just a little bit breathless.

The moral of this story? Don’t ever be afraid to play with your food…..

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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Getting Ready For Spring with L’Occitane En Provence

When spring is around the corner, at least in our minds, my home cries out for a good spring time cleaning as well as new scents. Out with winter favorites of Cinnamon and Fir Tree, in with the soft floral and fresh green scents. Since providing the latter is way easier and comes more natural to me the the first, I always start spring with a new round of scents in my home.

Apart from regular trips to the florist to provide me with the real deal, L’Occitane is my first port of call when it comes to affordable but reliably good quality home scents.

I like that the line has an elegant and cohesive look, their products are good quality, they offer a large variety and frequently release new products to keep up the interest without permanently discontinuing old favorites. L’Occitane’s products look high end, but are priced at a comfortable middle range.

In their home scents line L’Occitane offers Candles, Diffusers, Room Sprays, Linen Waters and scented sachets.

Let us start with the candles:

There are two types, candles in a thick glass and ones great for traveling in a hexagonal tin that comes with a lid. The glass candles are usually released to accompany new fragrances. At the moment I am enjoying a Fleur Cherie scented one. A perennial favorite is the Lavender candle, great for spring is also the invigorating Verbena scented candle that lifts a room’s atmosphere as well as my mood with its light-hearted, fresh citrus-herbal scent. The travel tins are really practical and easily taken on short trips. I like that they come in the same range of scents as the diffusers. Spring time favorites are Fig Tree Leaf and Provencal Landscape, both fresh, green fragrances that are uplifting and invoking rolling meadows and trees in bloom.

A diffuser in my bedroom is a must. For the time until it gets actually warm outside, I will try White Flowers, a lovely not too heady but present bouquet of white florals to bring a little spring air into the home.

What is more spring-like than a soft rose fragrance? Roses 4 Reines is a lovely room spray to make you feel like taking a walk in a rose garden, tender, green and dewy, this rose scent is long-lasting but never cloying.

And finally, to promote good sleep (something I perennially get not enough of) I like to use a relaxing linen spray. L’Occitane offers a line called Aromachologie, where the properties of essential oils are harnessed to several effects. The Relaxing Pillow Mist features lime, lavender, tea tree and geranium to achieve a calming and soothing combination.

Both my boys get a spray of this on their beds every evening (the older one demanding it by now!) and I must say the last few nights were not bad at all.

What are your favorite scents to invoke the arrival of spring at home?

Image courtesy of Vintage Ad Browser.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Guerlain Rouge Automatique: Lipstick named for a Fragrance

According to WWD, in April Guerlain is launching Rouge Automatique, a 25-shade lipstick line taking an inspiration from a 1936 Guerlain product of the same name. Each shade will be name for a Guerlain fragrance, "past, present or future, since the cmpany has 600 registered fragrance names". Shades will range from beiges and reds to corals, oranges and pinks.

I am hoping for a pale lilacy sort of pink Apres l'Ondee and a sinister sort of red for Djedi. What about you?

Edited to add that, according to, some of the shades are:

Rouge D’Enfer
Cherry Blossom
Violette de Madame
Ne m’oubliez pas
Bloom of rose
Chant d’aromes
L’heure bleue
Vol de Nuit
Apres l’ondee (bingo! but what shade is it?)
Fleur de feu
Quand vient l’ete

Snow Rose by Floris

By Marina

In creating Snow Rose, Floris took inspiration "from a sunlit unfolding of warmly scented rose petals crystallised within a winter wonderland." This describes quite perfectly Will Ryman's Roses installation on Park Ave. in Manhattan, which, thanks to the non-stop snowpocalypse we've been having, has been covered in snow all winter, and thus, by default, became Snow Roses for the season. They are not scented, but if they were, this is how they could smell.

With it's powdery feel and soft vanillic base, Snow Rose is a comfort scent, and goodness knows, one needs comfort during blizzards. There is a subtle burst of green in the top notes, but I wouldn't call this verdancy cold. It is a winter rose for me exactly because it is warm, not icy. Nor would I like a cold rose anyway.

I appreciate how delicately the powdery quality is done in the composition. On a powderiness scale from 1 to 10, where Talco Delicato is 9 and Teint de Neige 13, Snow Rose is about 6. Which is just right. I am surprised not to see orris among the listed ingredients; to me, the powdery feel of Snow Rose has a certain raw, vaguely earthy characteristic that I usually associate with the note. Sandalwood and vanilla in the drydown are a simple delight. Everything about this perfume is uncomplicatedly lovely and comfy. A comfort scent done with so much understated grace perhaps could only have come from an English brand. My sample of it arrived, fittingly, from England too, kindly sent by Vanessa, who writes one of my favorite blogs, Bonkers About Perfume. In her review of Snow Rose, Vanessa called the scent, "fluffy", which to me is a quality of a comfort scent and thus solidifies the status of Snow Rose as such.

Snow Rose is a limited edition scent, but I do seem to see it on Floris website, £38.00 for 50ml. In the States, it is available at, $70.00.

Image sources, 1, 3- Huffington Post, 2, 3- agent j loves agent a on flickr.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Particle Beam: Escentric Molecules Escentric 03

By Tom

Escentric Molecules is an interesting concept. Each of the numbers has two scents in the line. Escentric are scents that are based around a particular scent: 01 is Iso E Super, a woody accord that's pretty instantly recognizable. 02 is Ambroxan, the minerally synthetic version of ambergris. 03 is Veteveryle Acetate, which you, clever boots will know as vetiver. The single note Molecule line are just these notes with alcohol, which elicit responses ranging from "I pay you for a few ounces on one chemical when I could buy this by the gallon" to "(perfumer x) is a hack! He got most of (perfume x) by adding to things to this chemical!)

To the former, I'd say "sure, but are you going to do that?" You could also make yourself a hamburger but sometimes it's easier to speak clearly and direct your order into the clowns mouth. To the latter (to continue the food analogy) I've cooked a lot of salmon and it's always been pretty darned good. I've had a piece however cooked by David Bouley that made me think I'd never tasted salmon before. I'm a good cook, but I'm no David Bouley. I could mix some ingredients with alcohol and perhaps come up with a wearable scent, but that doesn't make me Edmond Roudnitska..

The other side of these is that it's interesting to see how much depth there is in these single notes. Molecule 03 really does have its own journey as you wear it. You can definitely smell how much Guerlain Vetiver relies on this accord; the brilliance of Guerlain isn't the way that they have masked to it, it's they've allowed it to sing by supporting it with other notes that like a dish by the redoubtable Chef Bouley, add sear and spice and sauce but never, ever get in the way of the star ingredient.

Escentric 03 also lets the star ingredient sing. It adds unexpected aspects of ginger and peppercorn to liven the expected citrus (a delicious and startlingly true Mexican lime) opening. Light jasmine and white tea adds tone to the grassy vetiver heart while woods and a wonderful skin musk (Iso E Super and Ambroxan?) smooth out the drydown. Oddly the additions end up being subtractions: all of them shave some of the raw edges off of Molecule 03. Molecule is the Bad Boy of the two. He's like, totally hot but your parents will cut you off if you bring him to tea dance the club. Escentric sends him to charm school: he's still the bad boy, he just learned to cook salmon..

Molecule 03 and Escentric 03 are available at LuckyScent and Aedes, $145 for 100ML. I received my samples from ScentBar.

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Winners of Bond No 9 and Laurie Stern draws

...are Samberg (Bond No 9) and

CC (Laurie Stern) a comment made at 10:00am EST

Please email me your addresses using the contact me link on the right.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Xerjoff Shingl & a prize draw

By Marina

A gorgeous iris scent with an unfortunate name and a cold. There. My review is done. OK, fine, I will elaborate on the key points:

Name. The perfume is from Xerjoff's Shooting Stars collection, therefore, upon googling, I am guessing that the name might stand for Shingle Springs meteorite, Shingle Springs, El Dorado Co., California, a meteorite fall discovered in either 1869 or 1870 (source). I am guessing it was not meant to evoke "a viral infection that causes a painful rash" (source). But it does.

Iris, to me, is the dominant note in the composition. It emerges early, in the top notes, a couple of seconds after the heady mix of bergamot, basil, anise and rum hits the nasal passages with the smell uncannily similar to that Vicks VapoRub. Thus - iris with a cold.

. Can a fragrance that makes one think of a couple of deseases at once be attractive? Apparently it can. I actually like the chilly, mentholated smell of Vicks, so that might be a reason. Another reason is the opulence of the orris accord in Shingl. Not unlike that in the sublime Iriss, it is so thick and buttery, you could cut it with a knife. It also smells warm, like the softest, most luxurious cashmere shawl. The contrast of the coldness of the "Vicks" accord and the warmth of orris is very appealing. Before now, I have only known of tuberose (see Tubereuse Criminelle) and gardenia (Volo Az 686) being treated, pun intended, in this manner. I like the fact that the juxtaposition can be felt from start to the very finish, even in the ambery, slightly vanillic base.

Shingl is quite possibly the most unique iris fragrance I have encountered, its weird beauty is something I'd urge you to experience for yourself. Besides, 'tis the season of congestions, wouldn't it be nice to replace the old rub with something this glamorous (and, yes, expensive) and get better in style? On that note, stay healthy, everybody!

Shingl is available at Luckyscent and Xerjoff, $345.00-$470.00.

If you would like to receive a set of 5 Xerjoff samples, say so in your comment. A commenter will be chosen at random.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ineke's Fantasy Garden: After My Own Heart and Evening Edged In Gold

By Donna

I am definitely late to the (garden) party, because until recently I had never smelled any of the Ineke fragrances. Critical raves abound for this San Francisco-based artisan perfume house, and I have been curious. I recently received a sample set of all seven of the fragrances, and now I know what all the fuss was about; I was simply stunned by how good they are, and how original. Ineke Ruhland is the nose behind these charming creations, and her classical training really shows. These perfumes can stand with the best the world has to offer while offering a different perspective on traditional compositions. Each one is very distinctive but all are imbued with a certain brightness, a joie de vivre that makes them stand out from the crowd.

As a lifelong lover of floral perfumes, I was drawn to her first creation immediately. I knew from reading about it that After My Own Heart was based on lilac, but that did not prepare me for being so completely bowled over by it. Lilac is one of my favorite flowers, but it is very tricky in perfumes, and most attempts at lilac soliflores seem to end up smelly musty and flat after only a short time on the skin. Ineke has discovered the secret of how to do lilac right; pair it with zesty bergamot, raspberry and leafy green notes so that it stays fresh and vibrant. Sandalwood, heliotrope and musk in the base give it lasting power but they have been used with a light touch so they never overwhelm the star of the show.

According to the description on the Web site, it evokes the scent of lilacs “floating on the early evening breeze,” but to me it's more of a morning feeling, rain-kissed lilacs after a spring shower when all the world seems new, and it reminds me of my childhood in New England when I would go out to the big hedge of lilac bushes behind our barn after it had been raining and drink the scented raindrops from the drenched purple plumes bending under the weight of water. After My Own Heart is a wonderful memory fragrance in that regard, but it's also just plain good perfume that wears well and stays true, an impressive thing for a lilac scent. I used to get a very nice lilac and bergamot perfume oil from for my sister from a company that no longer makes the product, so I am glad that she now has an alternative, since lilacs are her very favorite flowers.

The freshness of After My Own Heart may be an ideal daytime scent, but when the night shadows fall, Ineke has the perfect perfume for that too in Evening Edged In Gold, her fifth fragrance (they are all named alphabetically). Again I was amazed as soon as I smelled it, because it's really like nothing else. It's a floral Oriental with fruity accents, and the opening of osmanthus and plum is delicious. The overall effect is of exotic night-blooming flowers, including the haunting Angel’s Trumpet, and it has that slight hint of decadence that I love in this style of perfume. An unexpected delight is the note called 'Midnight Candy' which is actually the cultivar name of a pretty little nocturnal flower whose tongue-twisting botanical name is Zaluzianskya capensis, commonly called night phlox. Its powerful aroma is hard to describe but if you have ever smelled night-scented stock or sweet garden phlox you can get an idea. It is intensely sweet without being sugary, a piercing headiness peculiar to those flowers that send forth their enticement to attract the moths and other creatures that only come out at night. I have grown it in my own garden and so I can say with confidence that its essence has been perfectly captured in the perfume.

But this is not just a flower fest; there are spices, leather and woods in it to keep it interesting, although as with After My Own Heart, they are used with a sparing hand. It is indeed most definitely an evening fragrance, so lush and ripe is it, and its longevity and sillage are both impressive and tenacious, and yet it's not heavy, but soft and inviting. I have worn it to bed and found that both I and the sheets had retained its aroma in the morning. Evening Edged In Gold is as well named a fragrance as I can think of, since smelling it brings me to a secret garden lit only by moonlight and gently glowing paper lanterns, with wild things calling out and rustling in the dark just beyond its boundaries and the soft air carrying all the voluptuous, swirling scents of the night blossoms. Romance is in the mix too, as murmurs of laughter and intimate whispers add to the atmosphere of intrigue in this garden of earthly delights. I plan to wear this for the next special occasion I attend, and I may even make one up just so I can wear this fragrance!

Now for the really good news: Ineke perfumes are very affordable, at $88 for 75 ml (2.5 oz.) of Eau de Parfum. In today's perfume dollars, it's an incredible bargain for the quality you are getting. I know I will want full bottles of at least these two, and probably more of them once I have the chance to live with them for a while, so it's a good thing they won't break the bank. The line is in a limited number of boutiques in the U.S.A. and Europe but you can buy them directly from the Web site too. A deluxe set of generous 1.5 ml samples of all seven fragrances is available for $25.

Image credit: Outdoor scent with paper lanterns from

Disclosure: My sample set was sent to me gratis by the Ineke Company for testing.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Kate Walsh: An Interview with the Private Practice Actress Turned Perfumer

Kate Walsh, the auburn beauty from television’s “Private Practice” has been very busy lately with her new Boyfriend. The latest celeb to take a foray into the fragrance industry has come up with a decidedly different concept and a really gorgeous smelling scent. Based on the smell that your boyfriend leaves on your skin; Walsh’s version is an edible and sexy fragrance that captures the essence of a man’s cologne that combines woody notes with plum and myrrh at the top. I had a chance to chat with Walsh recently and here’s what she had to say about the creation process, her inspiration for Boyfriend and why you don’t need an actual beau to smell like one.

Tell us about the inspiration behind Boyfriend. How did you make your vision happen?

Well, I came up with this idea several years ago; I think it was about 6 years ago to be exact. My boyfriend and I had broken up and I was in New York shopping and I missed him. I missed his fragrance. So I went to the perfume counter. I was in Jeffrey’s in New York and I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to get a guy’s scent. Who cares? I don’t have to have a boyfriend to have this.” For some reason I felt some weird trepidation. I don’t know why. But I was like I don’t have to have a boyfriend to have a boyfriend scent.

And then a little bell went off and I was like, “Oh, cool. Wouldn’t that be a great idea for a fragrance?” And then I thought, “I’m not going to do anything because who needs another celebrity fragrance out there?” No disrespect to other celebs. I just wasn’t interested in that, but then the idea wouldn’t leave me alone. I would try men’s fragrances – a lot of girls wear men’s fragrances -- but they were too strong or too much. And then the story of it wouldn’t let me alone. I kept thinking of all the different ways to tell a boyfriend’s story and how everywhere I go – lunch, dinner, drinks, out, shopping -- women are always talking about their boyfriends or husbands and that was what was really inspiring to me. So two things: I couldn’t really find that scent I was thinking about that would give me that olfactive memory, and there was this story everybody could relate to.

I decided two years ago to embark on, not doing a licensing deal or a royalty deal, but making the company myself so I could be really hands on by creating the fragrance and designing the packaging and really coming up with the marketing campaign. Also, after I had campaigned for Obama a few years ago, I was very, obviously, I think everyone was pretty inspired by this sort of grassroots effort and what was happening virally to support and influence and inform the campaign. And I thought it would be kind of a great experiment to try to launch a brand solely digitally in terms of marketing. The creative part was also interesting to me. I didn’t want to go with a regular licensing deal because once you do that you’re just collecting the checks really. You don’t have much creative input or control. That’s a really long, rambling way to say how I started Boyfriend, but that’s where it all came from. So I started this crazy company and here we are!

Tell us about Boyfriend the fragrance. What is the best time to wear Boyfriend? What are the notes?

I remember very distinctly my first boyfriend’s cologne, which was Polo Ralph Lauren, and going on a double date with him and a friend and her boyfriend from high school and then coming home and having that smell on us and going, “Oh my God, my shirt smells like him!” and having that crazy, giddy feeling. But also just that sense memory and how powerful that is. You smell somebody’s chocolate chip cookies and all of a sudden you’re transported back to your grandmother’s kitchen when you were a kid. It’s powerful in terms of the feelings it brings up and the storytelling that could come around it. That’s what really intrigued me. I love men’s scents. But when we were developing the fragrance I realized I really didn’t want to wear one as a steady diet. It was too much, too heavy. So when we were developing the fragrance we had this idea of having woody amber notes but we realized that, at the top, we wanted a floral. We put in the night-blooming jasmine and this juicy plum so it has a little juiciness that’s very sensual. You want to take a bite out of it. There’s vanilla as well and then it dries down to a little bit of the wood and amber. Each component, like the dry body oil and the pulse point oil, is a little different. So they all layer really well together. The nice thing about it is that it’s not a huge, oppressive fragrance. It’s not a big fragrance that announces itself when it comes into the room. You smell it and go, “Ooh, what’s that?” It’s sort of edible. And because it has these different notes and it’s a move-in fragrance, it can layer really well with other fragrances. What I wanted was a scent of a guy left on his shirt -- a very worn-in, masculine scent. It’s got that perfect balance of masculine and feminine and that’s what we were striving for.

The promotional videos are so sexy and flirtatious and they a great story. What kind of woman is this scent made for? How do you think Boyfriend will make her feel?

In the beginning it’s this kind of romance about a guy and a girl and as the webimmercials progress it’s more about the memory of him -- whether she’s stood up or not. It was like, “OK. You know what? I’ve got my boyfriend in a box. It’s totally cool.” I wanted that feeling, whether a guy is in the picture or not. It was this spirit of “Wear the red dress.” When you get the train case it has a little note that says, “Wear the red dress. Love, Your Boyfriend.” I wore a red dress to promote it, but it’s also about the spirit of feeling good and feeling sexy for yourself -- whether there’s a guy in the picture or not. It also happens that guys like the scent a lot too. The guys I’m around seem to enjoy it, but I was definitely making it for us.

Tell us about the perfume creation process. Where there any surprises along the way?

The biggest surprise to me was that – first of all it was a wonderful experience in terms of just being an artist and being a collaborator. One of my favorite things about acting is you get to go on set and collaborate with 100 crew member every day. You can have that balance of having a really specific vision and knowing what you want and then letting reality inform you and other people who are experts in their fields inform you.

I felt really grateful to have that experience because the fragrance arena is obviously new - the whole business - is a totally new territory to me. So to have this idea that, yes, I want this men’s fragrance just softened up a bit. It’s like having his fragrance on your skin with your own floral notes. The biggest surprise was, ‘Oh, I don’t want to have a straight-up men’s fragrance for women. I want it softened up. I want to have the balance of masculine and feminine and, what in the fragrance industry they would describe as the woody and the amber notes and the floral notes balanced in there. I want to wear this all the time. I want people to be able to wear this all the time. I’ve always worn oils and one of the things that were important with Marypierre, who developed it, was this idea of layering it. Not only being able to layer it within the Boyfriend products but with other fragrances. It’s palatable and malleable so if you are loyal to your other fragrance you can still work this in there.

Which part of the creation process did you most enjoy and which part was the most challenging?

That’s a really good question. I really loved all the sampling. Like I said, I had a really specific idea of what I wanted for this initial Boyfriend. There are other Boyfriends to come, like in life. Most people don’t have just one. There are others! But for this one, I really wanted to tell the story of a guy and a girl and the memory of him. I should say that part of the inspiration was that luxury feel and the romance of the train case. I wanted the design of the bottle to have that classic Chanel-type shape but modernized and with a Boyfriend twist. I wanted that luxury, but accessible so you don’t have to be a millionaire to get it. I loved doing the sampling but when it finally came to pulling the trigger and making the decision that was just agonizing to me. There were a lot of anxiety-fueled phone calls. It’s hard to commit and say, “This is it!”

The designing I just had a ball with. Chad Levine designed the bottle. We all collaborated on it, but he was just incredible. And just having an idea and seeing it become a 3D thing that’s going to be out there in the market place was just a fabulous feeling. Making up a business was really challenging and saying, “Ok, I’m going to do it this different way.” I made it like you would a TV pilot in Hollywood. You write it and then you go and try to sell it. Basically, I bankrolled the whole thing and luckily we sold it in the room to HSN and Sephora, which was a huge validation. That was the good news. Then they’re like, “OK, now you have to make a company and now you have to finance it and now you have to get a loan from the bank.” I have a great consultant, Pamela Vale, who has taken a lot of brands to market. She’s incredible and her knowledge and support has been amazing. Then we hired a designer, and a manufacturer and operations person. It was sort of like I built this company from Elmer’s glue and lint. It’s hugely exciting!

For more from the interview with Kate Walsh, visit

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

When one "o" is enough: Paulette Macarons

By Tom

I love macarons, those little French cookies made of whipped egg whites and almond powder filled with buttercream. In my mind I know that while the cookies are low-fat, the filling ain't, and the whole thing is sugar central. I'm sure at any moment that someone will come up with incontrovertible evidence that the food coloring used with cause one to develop humps, or rabies or Dutch elm disease.

Or just cavities.

I don't care! They're so darned good! You walk into the perfect whiteness of the shop to the clean, rich smell of meringue and ganache; you'd never think there was a smell to them unless you've smelled them in a room where there was nothing else sold. Then there are the colors: bright jewel tones that telegraph neatly the flavors. I was taught in making food displays that odd numbers are better than even so I always order three: one is impossibly Calvinist, two is just mean. Three is just this side of decadent. Just this side. Finally there's the first bite; slightly resistant crust bursts into chewy goodness with the flavor of your choice shining through that then matches or contrasts to the rich buttercream filling depending upon the art of the chef. Trust me, it's art.

I don't go here a lot. Well, I do but I try to keep it within reason. I figure that once or twice a month I can spend six bucks (no coffee or tea with these; like good scotch I take it straight) and the (please don't tell me the actual number) calorie count if I walk there and back.

Researching this I've found that Paulette has opened mere blocks from work. That little bit of info is going to be really dangerous. I'll just keep telling myself "It's Atkins friendly, it's Atkins friendly".

I might have to start walking to work. Or two laps of the continent..

What are your favorite sweet treats in your neighborhood?

Image by Tom.

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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Olympic Orchids Artisan Perfumes – An Exploration

I love to explore small, largely unknown perfume brands. There is the thrill of the hunt, for one, then that feeling of being let in on a secret. And then there is the challenge of charting previously unexplored territory, just you and your nose. No PST or NST to help you out.

One such secret (that is already on its way out) is Olympic Orchids Perfumes. A small business based in the Pacific Northwest, it is an orchid nursery as well as a budding artisanal perfume house founded in 2006 by Ellen Covey, a chemist by profession turned perfumer by passion.

“Olympic Orchids was founded as a small nursery business growing orchid plants. However, Ellen Covey quickly became fascinated by the incredible variety of scents produced by orchids. Combining a fascination with orchid fragrances and a lifelong love of fine perfume, she set out to create scents that are representative of the different species of orchids while, at the same time fulfilling all of the criteria of a fine perfume.”

- Excerpt from the Olympic Orchids website.

Ellen Covey wanted to capture the incredible scents of the different orchids she grew and her quest resulted in wonderfully wearable perfumes, orchid scents as well as others she created “along the way”.

The Olympic Orchids signature line is a series of scents inspired by different species of orchids. Other series include “Scents of Place”, perfumes trying to capture the spirit of a place where the perfumer has lived or visited, a concept I find fascinating.

The perfumes are produced from the highest quality ingredients obtainable. Pure perfumes have a concentration of 30-33% fragrance materials and Eau de Parfums have a 15-20% concentration. All of the spray bottles are refillable, and packaging materials are biodegradable. Olympic Orchids offers scented soaps as well.

I had never heard of Olympic Orchids until Tarleisio reviewed some of their perfumes on Scentless Sensibilities, here is one example. And what fantastic reviews those were! My interest was instantly piqued.

I acquired the very reasonably priced sample set from the Olympic Orchids webstore and soon a generously enlarged set arrived at my doorstep. So many different perfumes to test, I was a bit overwhelmed (but grateful!).

I would like to give a little peek into the wealth of fragrances by this brand, to maybe whet your appetites a little.

Olympic Rainforest: is an intensely green, wet and realistic rendition of a temperate rainforest such as the Olympic National Park that inspired this perfume. I once got lost in Olympic National park which was a bit disconcerting but did not totally distract me from the breathtaking beauty and magnitude of this forest (well, the magnitude did scare me a little, given that I did not exactly know where I was or how to get out again!). Olympic Rainforest is an impressive fougére perfume, opening with a citrus-lavender accord it develops into a powerful symphony of woods, where cedar and pine stand out the most to my nose. Wearing it encourages me to breathe deeply, to relax my tense shoulders and enjoy the vastness and quiet dignity of that magnificent forest conjured up in this scent. (We found an extraordinarily bored forest ranger who showed us the way out again, grumbling something about tourists and how they are a great danger to themselves and others.)

A Midsummer Day’s Dream: is a gloriously uplifting fig fragrance that brings sunlight, a warm breeze and the impression of a summer meadow complete with butterflies to my mind in a second. The fresh fig tree with not quite ripe fruit, leaves, bark and earth surrounding it is depicted clearly through the bright top notes, green heart and a softly creamy and earthy base. This is a love at first sniff scent for many, I bet. It is reminiscent of Premier Figuier and Philosykos but seems to me even rawer, more direct and more realistic in its rendition of nature.

Golden Cattleya: is one of the orchid scents. While this one is not exactly my taste, I can appreciate the beautiful composition of this heady floral scent. Golden Cattleya doesn’t joke around, it comes at you full blast, making you feel like you are surrounded by tall, golden yellow orchids like Alice after ingesting Drink Me! The scent is sweet, rich, round, there is orange blossom and indolic jasmine with excellent sillage. A hint of spiciness is there as the scent develops before finally drying down into a rich and warm vanilla base made interesting by the inclusion of myrrh (don’t take those notes too seriously, they are just what my nose makes them out to be, unverified by the perfumer, who probably has had a good laugh by now!). This perfume stays with me for the entire day, although the drydown is way tamer and stays closer to the skin.

Red Cattleya: this is a sumptuous, gigantic fruity-floral, if I ever smelled one. It shows the world that fruity-floral does not necessarily mean insipid pink safety juice, but that there are formidable and uncompromising members of this category too. I don’t have the courage (yet) to venture out with such a perfume, but believe me I want to. Opening with a cocktail of ripe red fruit (raspberry?), it is soon off into floral territory where roses and violets mingle with other flowers so well blended I can’t discern them. It calms down after this opulent and glamorous overture, but never touches anything approaching restraint or demureness. Red Cattleya is certainly no shy flower, it is out there for everybody to admire and applaud it. It eventually develops into a smooth drydown where a musky-woody softness provides a warm bed for the exuberant floral accord. This is a perfume for grown women off to a soiree or a ball at the Plaza, dressed in Haute Couture trailing the head-turning sillage of Red Cattleya. As for me, I admire it from afar, it is safer for now.

I could go on and on, there are many more interesting perfumes in Ellen Covey’s line and I will review a few more in greater depth over on my blog in the near future.

My personal favorite is A Midsummer Day’s Dream, I love fig scents and have many, but this one is quickly turning into a favorite.

Olympic Orchids perfumes can all be sampled for a very reasonable price, available from the website.

Image courtesy of the

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Sweet Milk for the Soul. Perfume Review

Gale warning hail warning
Sky sifts high drifts
Finding bright blinding white
Snowball snowfall
Moonscape snowscape
Frostbite dost bite
Rococo swirls hot cocoa curls
Icy glove spicy love
Huddle in cuddle in
Rock salt clocks halt.
Blizzard by Barbara Reiher-Meyers

This winter has been formidable. Blizzard after nor'easter after snowpocalypse put me in dire need of comfort. Nesting with the family in a snowed in house is the best kind, especially when one has a warm, cuddly little person to snuggle with...(Although that little one is partly what made this winter so challenging. A blizzard has nothing on a helpless baby in terms of causing havoc.)... A good book comes as a fairly close second on the scale of comfort (Mark Helprin's Winter's Tale suits my mood perfectly). As far as comfort perfumes go, goodness knows I have many. From armor-like green ones to serenity-now incense ones to good old-fashioned vanillas. But I wanted something else, something softer than soft, not too sweet but still delicious, something milky...I've done a post on milk in perfume before, and not much has changed since then in terms of the number of properly-milky fragrances to choose from. It's same old, same old and a little too sweet Matin Calin, Lann-Ael with just a tad too much apple and...well, that's it really. This year, Jo Malone added one more to this short list.

Sweet Milk, the charming little number from the Tea Collection came just in time to satisfy my craving, and let me tell you, it hit the spot. As Goldilocks would say, it was Just Right. Very delicate, silky-smooth, soft as a feather, moderately sweet...I was apprehensive about anise, a note I am not comfortable with ordinarily, but it works well here. The piquancy of it blends right into the lactonic fluffiness, making the scent not as monotone as it could have been without it. Food-wise, I would liken Sweet Milk to a very, very thin rice pudding, spiced by a tiny pinch of anise. Mmmm....

Do not expect from this very straightforward blend it a new word in perfumery. It is a simple pleasure, and those are such exactly because they seem familiar. It is also not a powerhouse of a fragrance, but in this case I appreciate and prefer subtlety. A strong perfume of this nature, a seemingly one-note, gourmand kind, becomes bothersome after a while, too cloying, too samey. The sheer quality of Sweet Milk therefore was one of its pluses for me. Overall I think that to do a gourmand with a light hand is quite an achievement and, compared to, for example, Guerlain's Elixirs Charnel by the same perfumer, showcases the versatility of the talent of Christine Nagel, the author of Sweet Milk.

So what comforted you this winter? Any particularly cuddly fragrances that you discovered? Read any good books lately? Do tell!

Available along with other four scents in this limited edition collection, wherever Jo Malone is sold, $55 for 30ml...and for once I wish it came in a 200ml bottle.

Image, my own.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cruelty Free: Cravache by Robert Piguet

By Tom

Unlike Marina, I've never had the pleasure of smelling the original version of this 2007 reissue from the newly revitalized house of Piguet. Reading her description, that's a pity; losing leather in a fragrance is in my opinion never a great idea. On the other hand since that version isn't readily available perhaps it's no bad thing that I don't have to compare that version to the new one.

I've actually been on the fence about this new version of Cravache for a while. For months now I've been casually spritzing myself with it at stores and thinking "really nice, but..." Not that it's not a lovely thing: the bright yet chilly citrus opening is as fresh and crisp as a brand new fine cotton dress shirt and the drydown does some interesting dances between warm spicy patch and cool lavender. It smells good in a masculine and well tailored way that whispers of quiet good taste. It's certainly not about the price, since these days $55 for 1.7 oz is practically like having shoplifting it, especially at places like Neiman Marcus, where you can get into some Clive Christian scents that cost more than a couple months rent.

I suppose that it's just that when the name Piguet is on the bottle I expect a bit more, well, ooomph. Fracas, love it or loathe it certainly isn't lacking in that department and even the new version of Bandit is true enough to the Cellier original to pack a considerable wallop.

But finally I did fall. Bandit and Fracas have that over-the-top film noir vibe to them; were Cravache a film from that era it would be "The Thin Man". You can easily imagine this is what William Powell would smell like as he effortlessly solved some convoluted crime, a Martini never far from reach, a sardonic quip at the ready, and Myrna Loy (wafting Futur no doubt) lounging on the chaise feeding Asta her olive.

Because even I want some quiet good taste once in a while.

$55 for 1.7oz, $85 for 3.4, at Neiman Marcus (where my bottle was purchased), Bergdorf Goodman and others.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On The Oudification of Perfumanity: Czech & Speake Dark Rose

By Marina

I believe it would be fair to call Dark Rose (2003) a cult favorite. At least I remember it being very much loved around 2004-2005-ish, when I first discovered Makeupalley. And at the danger of making swiping generalizations, I am also going to call it, along with Donna Karan Chaos (1996) and YSL M7 (2002), one of the first "oud" scents we wore, before we really knew about ouds. The exact date is hard to pinpoint, but just a little later, Montale suddenly appeared on the scene, and then seemingly all we wore and talked about and lemmed were ouds. Then every brand jumped on the oudwagon. And then we also got to try Real Stuff, non-adapted for "western" liking, and then Montales etc. weren't good enough (oudy enough) anymore...So, anyway, this is my version of how the oudification of perfumanity went down. Dark Rose and its comrades* made us receptive to ouds, prepared the soil of our collective taste, so to say, like, um, Decabrists prepared the soil for Lenin.

...Coming back to Dark Rose... The fragrance has not lost its appeal for me, possibly because it's not really about oud. It is a rose blend in which oud (as well as patchouli, sandalwood and amber) was used to achieve a dry-smoky paint an image of smoldering and scorched petals...When I first apply the perfume, the rose is fresh, ripe, nectarous...but almost right away it catches on fire lit by saffron and agarwood and starts burning on my skin...the aroma that is released by that flame is incomparable to any other rose perfume I is as if the petals were first caramelized and then torched. That vaguely gourmand quality of the rose is unexpected and appealing in such a dry, nocturnal, brooding composition. Never has a scent been so rightly named; Czech & Speake's creation rules the pantheon of Dark Roses.

As an aside, since I am already on the subject of Cz&S and roses, the brand's other rendition of the flower, called simply, Rose (1988), while perhaps not as striking, is also a very elegant blend, which might delight those who don't like their roses sweet. Spiked by the verdant spiciness of geranium in the top notes, Rose softens in the heart, where its angles are smoothed by creamy ylang ylang. The dry, green leitmotif is, however, present throughout the development and even the rich, slightly earthy base retains a hint of geranium.

*Some other fragrances that have been sneaking oud in our olfactory wardrobes long before it was all ouds, all the time are: Balenciaga Pour Homme (1990!), Nina Ricci (!) Deci-Dela (1994), Gap Om (1996), Yves Rocher Nature Millenaire (2000) and Rykiel Woman (2003). Have you worn an oud way back then and haven't realised it? Do tell!

Dark Rose and Rose can be found at, $130.00 and $125.00 for 100ml respectively.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

SoOud Fam, Kanz, Asmar & Burqa

By Marian

Stephane Humbert Lucas, perfumer behind SoOud, which made its debut at the Elements Showcase, aims to marry French and Arabian sensibilities in perfumes that meld European elegance with Arabian sensuality. Although not all of the perfumes feature notes that are typically “Arabian”, the overall aesthetic- from the packaging, with it’s clear slit circling the middle of the otherwise opaque bottle, clearly an abstraction of the niqab, to the heavy density of the scents- leans way more towards the East than it does towards Europe.

The four perfumes in the “oud group” are:

Fam, meaning “The Mouth”, is a powdery floral. Rose, pepper and saffron are prominent, as are sandalwood and musk in the base notes.

Kanz, “The Treasure”, is the male counterpart to Fam. Oud, nagarmotha and sandalwood provide a woody backdrop against which the softness of rose and the more angular sweetness of jasmine are highlighted to a degree that might make this fragrance more suitable for women than the male audience for which is was intended.

Asmar-“Dark Brown”- notes of Arabian coffee, honey, cloves and tobacco add spice and earthiness to the thick sweetness and ambered warmth of raisins, heliotrope, amber, vanilla and musk. Asmar is classified as a “woody amber” and is the only one of the oud group in which carnation is the featured flower.

Burqa- The woodiest of the four “oud perfumes, though rose, amber and patchouli very much help to define it.

Each scent is available as Nektar or in the less strong Eaux Fines concentration.

Four other scents are part of the SoOud line. A description of them can be found here. (Use Google translate to decipher the French)

This line has stirred up some political/social controversy. For those interested, see the comments on 1000 fragrances.

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Winners of Winter Favorites and SmellBent draws

...are a.k.a Warum (Winter Favorites) and Vanessa (SmellBent).

Winners of the 1st Perfume I ever Loved Bond No9 and Foodie Sunday draws to be announced next Tuesday.

Stay tuned for more giveways coming up... ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

The First Perfume I Ever Loved... & a Prize Draw

Where perfume lovers are concerned, there might be some truth to Henry Louis Mencken's statement that one always remembers the first [perfume] love with special tenderness, but after that begins to bunch them. So to celebrate Valentine's Day, we decided to put the jadedness aside and to dedicate this post to our firsts... First perfumes we ever loved. Join us and list yours for a chance to win a 50ml bottle of Park Avenue, courtesy of Bond No 9. One commenter will be chosen at random. As an aside on other loves, what was the first city you fell in love with? For me [Marina speaking here], it was New York. I have lived in various cities over the years, but with none have I felt such an immediate and strong connection.

My first perfume love? Do I really have to tell you? All right then. It was a half-empty bottle of Elizabeth Arden’s Sunflowers discarded by a friend who clearly had better taste than I did. Though I instantly removed the spray nozzle so I could drizzle small amounts onto my arm instead of suffering through a full spritz, I adored it. I really did. I thought it smelled like the sunflower honey I’d once tasted, and like the sun-warmed scent of the flowers themselves—that vegetal, hay-and-flowers field smell. In my memory it still does, and always will, no matter how often you say the words acquatic or nightmare to me. What can I say? It went with my Benneton sweaters.

There were a few before her; Love’s Baby Soft and Jean Nate come to mind, but the first perfume that I ever loved and could truly call the one was the 1985 rose masterpiece by perfumer extraordinaire Sophia Grojsman. Maybe it was my age (let’s just say I was no longer a non-discriminating junior girl that only had access to the Walgreen’s beauty counter), maybe it was the time, but one thing is for certain; I was enamored at first inhale. Not your mother’s rose, Beautiful by Estee Lauder is a vibrant, voluptuous bouquet that has sandalwood and incense at its base making it a lush and complex head-turner. There have been many perfumes that I have outgrown, changed my mind about and simply, don’t care for anymore, but somehow, Beautiful has endured. I wear it to this day with affection and inevitably, every time I do I am stopped by curious strangers that ask, “What is that Beautiful perfume?”

I fell head over heels in love with Dior’s Diorissimo when I was 18 years old. Granted, the only reason that I even tried it was because it was rumored to be Mick Jaggers favorite and at the time he was the fervent object of my desire. I’ve never regretted it. My husband adores it and one of the best tributes that it ever got was from my son who declared to me at the tender age of 16 that if he ever met a woman who smelled of Diorissimo that he would probably be a goner. Sure enough during the greening of the spring of 2006 he met a lovely young girl who was to be his very first true love. She danced up to him at one of the local street fairs with flowers in her hair and a stem of fresh lily of the valley clasped in her hands. The wanton charm of Diorissimo is that it is all at once modern yet classic, demure yet completely and passionately sexy. Diorissimo is still my very favorite and I’m fairly sure that this always will be. No other perfume has ever been able to weave that glorious green spell that continually disarms me, bewitches me and sends me dancing with light speeds into vast whirlwinds of passionate fun!

When I think back to the days of normal perfume behavior, i.e. using one bottle until it is gone, then thinking (albeit not much) about the next, I mostly see a black hole. Nothing really comes to mind, I must have used several fragrances in those unenlightened days, but many are too atrocious to mention in a place like this.But thinking back again and again for the purpose of this post revealed one single, distinctive sphere-shaped red bottle. One scent that stands above the sea of unremarkable utility scents. Le Feu d’Issey.I loved it. It was different. The bottle alone was indicative of what was to come – something unusual. It smelled sharp, milky, spicy, flowery, musky…it has been a while, and I didn’t know how or at least didn’t attempt to describe a perfume then. Of course, as is just my luck, it is discontinued. The time was not ready for it, and neither was I. But one of these days, I will get lucky and snatch it up on eBay, to be reunited with my first love. And for the first time we will be able to talk.

My love affair with perfume started very early, with something I found in my Christmas stocking when I was no more than nine or ten years old. It was a cute little green pagoda-shaped jar of Avon Hana Gasa perfumed crème sachet. This was one of Avon's best fragrances back then, a really pretty fresh green floral with plenty of lily-of-the-valley, one of my favorite floral notes to this day. I felt so elegant and grown up when I wore it, especially since luxuries like perfume were rare in our household. Hana Gasa has been discontinued for a long time, but recently I found a full bottle of the liquid perfume online and decided to take a chance; I think I only paid about four dollars for it. To my delight it was still good, a sparkling green splash of delicate flowers in a bottle of that same shade of pale green with the pagoda cap, and I have been enjoying it as much as I did the first time. Who says you can't have your first love back again?

My first love was L'Artisan's Incroyable. Not sure of the exact name, just Incroyable (incredible in French). It contained plum and blond tobacco. I first smelled it on my Uncle Steve and I asked him about it and got almost no information. Several months later I was at Stanley Korshak in Dallas and was chatting with a woman that had recently had foot surgery. We were talking about my search for my uncles cologne but knew almost name, no brand...nothing. I mentioned my Uncle Steve had the exact same foot surgery. She asked if my uncle happened to be Steve Kelley (of course he is my uncle). She said she was friends with Steve and then she reached under the counter and pulled out a bottle of Incoyable and told me that she had sold Steve his bottle. Sadly, L'Artisan no longer makes Incroyable.

The first perfume I ever fell in love with must have been vintage Coty’s Emeraude – or the faint impression thereof. I was probably four or five years old and had been turned loose to play in my grandmother’s jewelry box, which seemed like a trove of impossible riches. Among the costume jewelry, souvenirs, and the few delicate gold items she kept in the jewelry box, she had a little gold-toned scent bottle with a filigree front adorned with red and transparent fake jewels – an item that seemed to have been secreted away from a mysterious harem somewhere. It was empty, but a powdery, exotic Oriental scent redolent with resins and flowers clung to its interior. I sniffed, and sniffed, and was transported. I refilled the bottle over and over with water, which, after four or five days, took on enough of the scent to scent my skin when I dabbed it on like a precious elixir. Sadly, she had no idea what fragrance had once graced it, as she had inherited the piece - so I remained haunted by its graceful ghost for years. It took me decades to identify it.

YSL’s Paris was the first perfume that stole my heart. I loved being wrapped in juicy roses and ambered violets and felt unabashedly feminine, romantic and seductive whenever I wore it. Not long ago I nostalgically sprayed some on and my daughter excitedly exclaimed “Mommy- that’s the way you used to smell when you kissed me good-night!” She looked so happy- it must have brought back memories of when our family was still “a real family” prior to my divorce. Those days are gone forever and I doubt I’ll ever remove the cap again from Paris' dusty crystal bottle. It used to be painful to know that “you can’t go back” but now, at long last I’m happy to say, I no longer want to.

Define love, right? My first perfume love could have been my mother's Madame Rochas, of which I was in awe, taken with its olfactory sophistication, the golden lace of its packaging and the fact that it was my mom's...Or it could have been Marina de Bourbon, gifted to me by someone when I was in my very late teens, which I faithfully wore and adored for many years ...But I am not sure whether my love for either was the love of perfumes themselves or more of the people associated with them. I believe The First Perfume I Ever Loved for the perfume itself was Farnesiana by Caron. I can place the moment that love happened in place and in time. I can still remember the aaah! feeling and the disbelief that such gentle, bittersweet, haunting beauty can really exist...It was a proper perfume answering to all canons but it was more than that, it was a story, it was an atmosphere. That fairy with soft eyes took my heart forever. The course of true love has never run smooth, we had our ups and downs, but Farnesiana is one fragrance I never want to be without. That is love.

The original Chanel Cristalle was my first real perfume love. I was a Southern California beach chick, like, okay? mall-hopping with my fellow Valley Girls and scoping for foxy surfer dudes, when I came across Cristalle at a Chanel counter. The SA tried in every way to dissuade the smitten teen (me) from buying a bottle, but I insisted. It was so very primeval, so green, so cold, so weird! It was as far from Love's Baby Soft, the current high school fave, as I could think of. I wore it practically every day throughout high school. I cried when they reformulated Cristalle....

They say you never forget your first love. That is true in romance and it is equally true in the fragrance. I remember with vivid detail my first perfume love. I remember saving my wrinkled dollar bills from my steady babysitting job to purchase her. I remember learning how to say her name. I remember bravely walking into the store, setting my sites on the opulent fragrance counter that I had frequented with my aunt, and asking for her. I remember feeling so grown up in acquiring her at a mere fourteen years old. I remember exploring her white, clean packaging, studying her curves and inhaling her fragrance. Yes, I remember … Her name was Anaïs Anaïs by Cacharel. I can conjure her scent in an instant, for she accompanied me nearly every day through my sophomore year of high school. She mentored me like a loving, big sister. A little powdery, a lot floral and definitely not sophomoric, her sophistication embraced my wholesome, naïve adole-scents. Yet, her lack of overly musky or animalic bases ensured her consistent appeal to my untrained nose. Cheerful orange blossom, sweet lily and springtime hyacinth underscored by sandalwood and incense, Anaïs Anaïs’ accords are always appropriate, even for my strict, parochial school days. If only the pains of growing up were not associated with her, I would reconnect with her, asking for another warm embrace. Instead, I will always remember … with love and adoration.

The first perfume I ever loved I suppose was Joy, since it was the scent my mother wore when she and my father went out. Although I have grown to love it independently of her memory, in some way it will always make me flash on her leaning over to kiss us goodnight before heading out to a dinner party or the theater with Dad, The fist scent that I fell in love with for my personal use and the one that started me off on this journey of being a scentaholic was Diors Eau Sauvage, when I was a teen. I smelled it first at the long defunct local department store Steiger's and was blown away by it. It was so fresh and clean and bright and happy smelling. I had to have it. I saved my allowance and did odd jobs for months until I could finally get on my Raleigh and pedal over to the Hampshire Mall and make my purchase. Although my first love has been supplanted by others I still have some and still wear and love it.