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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Technique Indiscrete “For Them” – A Fragrant Effort To Help Japan

I wrote about this perfume on my blog when it was first announced. Now that I received my bottle (the Number Three of 1000, I am proud to say) I want to review it here, for I hope to reach a larger audience that way. And “For Them” certainly deserves a large audience.

Technique Indiscrete is a Parisian niche-brand founded by Belgian perfumer Libertin Louison. Louison started out in Fashion and then found his true calling in Perfume; he was trained at Cinqiéme Sens in Paris. His line includes perfumes, candles and cosmetics.

Soon after the catastrophe in Japan, Libertin decided to dedicate 1000 bottles of perfume, originally created for another cause that fell through, to the financial aid of Japan. 100% of profits from those bottles go to the survivors of the coastal town of Minami Sanriku that disappeared in the Tsunami.

For Them is a lavender cologne done in a classic, old-style way. It opens with a strong blast of lavender that is not harsh like lavender can sometimes be, but smooth and well-rounded. It soon softens considerably into a comforting, calming scent that reminds me of vintage lavender water. One whiff of it transports me to visions of fresh air billowing white curtains, lavender-fields in the sun, fresh linen, and elegant fin-de-siècle parties in the countryside.

For Them provides a short, but intense trip into a delightful past. It is a romantic perfume for me, very sophisticated in its simplicity, elegant and refined.

Perfect for men and women For Them is a lovely surprise. I bought it unsniffed of course, since the fragrance itself was not my first concern here, but I couldn’t be happier with how it smells.

I would promote this here in any case, since I believe it is a great idea worth supporting, but I can honestly say, I like this perfume a lot and would wear it even if it did not have the added benefit of being a way to show help and support to the people of Japan. I have nothing like it in my (extensive) collection, and so I think it is a lovely and worthwhile addition.

Of the thousand bottles 927 are still unsold, let us change that!

On the Technique Indiscrete website there is a counter, I’d love to see it go down further with the help of PST readers. At 35€ for 50 ml it is not expensive at all, but this is money truly well spent!

Libertin Louison said “On est un seul peuple.” – We are one people!

We live this truth in the perfume community, where we have formed friendships and relationships regardless of geographical realities.

Please step up and support this cause Libertin Louison initated.

It feels great being able to help while smelling gorgeous!

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Friday, April 29, 2011

"Spring Is..." Fragrance Favorites and a Prize Draw

What is Spring to you? What symbolizes it, what embodies it, what is that one thing, one emotion, one sound, sight or smell that is Spring? And if you have one of those, which perfume translates it the best?...Our answers are below; share yours with us for a chance to receive a set of 10 spring-y samples, including some of our choices below.

Spring in Texas is all about knowing your days are numbered. The trees are lush and tender, the highways are filigreed in wildflowers, the air is crystalline. The tourists exclaim and check the local real estate listings, but the locals sigh--in a few short weeks the heat will set in and stay in for the next six months. I wear all my fragile, ephemeral perfumes, the things too pretty to stick around for long, and then I turn again to Les Nez's, The Unicorn Spell. It's snap-bean green and shadowy violets are a perfect match for the dappled light, but they stand up well enough against the heat to let me take a little of spring with me into summer.

Whenever I can, I spend a bunch of springtime in New York City . Something about watching the city come back to life and the abundant blossoming of Central Park just makes me feel just so incredibly sexy and feminine. I love to walk up and down 5th with a million Bergdorf’s shopping bags in tow and stop for a cocktail or two at the Plaza. As cliché as it sounds, it totally makes me feel (does a little twirl) “Pretty and Witty and Gay”! This year my springtime favorite is Bond No. 9’s Madison Square Park. I adore it’s totally hip grape hyacinth , rose and tulip accords that are completely trendy yet incomparably sophisticated in a very shocking pink way! Madison Square Park is definitely bouncy , light and absolutely screams sexy toenails, white capris and a shocking pink Ralph Lauren Polo. I’m busy looking for nail polish that’s the color of the bottle and a chanel bag that’s the color of the bright green flower that crowns the top. Yes, I know that sounds a bit shallow. But as I love to say, “I worked damn hard to be this shallow and I’m loving every minute of it!” Madison Square Park is captivating and I think you’ll just love it too!

Spring means for me mostly one thing – change. And like so many people I have a healthy respect for change. People are creatures of comfort, and everything threatening to overthrow what we are used to is at first viewed with at least skepticism, at worst, fear. Spring, with all its accompanying changes is no different. You have to change your wardrobe along with your attitude. The former is not so bad, the latter requires coming out of your comfy cave, ending hibernation, renewing yourself along with nature. Frightening, huh? There is one perfume that symbolizes change for me, because it changes a lot during its wear time, it progresses from one end of the spectrum to the other. It does so fearlessly and boldly, just what I need. Guerlain Cologne du 68 is fitting perfectly for spring, it is light and lovely, but still has a hidden depth and complexity rarely found in cologne-style fragrances. It’ll coax me out of my cave in no time, you’ll see!

Spring means green to me, in every shade from tender to deep, and the exhilarating touch of green perfumes heralds its arrival. Alas, so many of my favorite greens are discontinued or reformulated, but one of them is still to be found quite easily even though it too is no longer made: Yves St. Laurent "Y" is a sparkling green chypre, more lighthearted and playful than most of its kind, and perfect for either chilly or warm days when you need a perfume to match the rising energy of the season.

Spring (in Central Mexico) is: Jacaranda trees covered in purple flowers, giant coconut macaroons at the Tuesday Market, fireworks for Saint Joseph's birthday that last for about 24 hours (yuck!), calla lilies being sold for $3 a dozen (they smell like magnolia flowers when fully opened!), and quiet cobblestone streets because the tourists have all gone home due to rising temperatures. My fragrance choice for this time of year is L'Homme Sage by Divine, because it somehow fits with its saffron, incense, immortelle and smooth woody dry-down.

Spring is newness: young love and prom dresses, the fragile tiny birds and animals we are so often called to rescue in "baby season," the sweet limbs of babies who need nothing more than a onesie in this weather. The scent that expresses the newness of spring is Sonoma Scent Studio's Voile de Violette. It is a soft, tenderly spicy fragrance with hints of greenery and wood -- and reminds me of the many, many days I was late to my Drivers' Ed class because I was making out with my high school sweetheart in the bushes by the softball field during lunch break, reclining on a bed of wild violets. Now he's my husband of nearly 23 years, but springtime and violets will always recall the breathless romance of our first blush of new love.

Spring to me is uplifting. After a long, cold, dark winter, there is something absolutely exhilarating about shedding those heavy winter boots, coats, scarves and gloves. It's always easier to get out the door, slip on a pair of ballet flats and light jacket, and not have to worry about temperature drops and piles of snow and getting things done by five when the sun goes down. Springtime brings with it happier, lighter moods, and an overwhelming sense of hope and inspiration - leading up to summer (which is itself an entirely different animal). For me, the season hasn't changed until I can smell it - the freshly turned earth, the subtle greenness of sprouting flower buds, wet pavement from the inevitable rain. The first scents of spring feel like a breath of fresh air after a suffocating season of stagnancy. I look forward to spring when I exchange my dark clothing to airy cottons, sheer gauzy linens and delicate silks - perfume being no exception. Seeking freshness, lightness and transparency, my scent of spring this year is L'été en Douce by l'Artisan Parfumeur. Defiantly named for the sweetness of summer, in my opinion this is much more of a spring fragrance. Capturing perfectly the dewy wetness of a morning in May and the romantic, wind-whipped shapes of dresses hanging sweetly on a clothesline, L'été en Douce is the ultimate shed-your-baggage, pick-up-running barefoot fragrance. With notes of green hay, white musks, orange blossom water, linden, rose and mint, perfumer Olivia Giacobetti just may be competing with mother nature herself.

Spring is sweet innocence when newly awakened nature unfurls, unblemished and bursting with hopes and expectations. Oriscent's Borneo 3000 cavorts with buoyant liveliness- a cool, green breeze whistling in the blossoming sun.

Spring to me is a feeling of melancholy. The term is unattractively defined as "an abnormal state attributed to an excess of black bile and characterized by irascibility or depression." In my own classification however, melancholy is that "mi chien mi loup" state of the soul, which envelopes one black and white zebra stripes of life, in-between any major stage ending and another beginning...and in between seasons. It is an anticipation of happiness when you are feeling sad and a tinge of sadness in any happiness my romantic understading of melancholy, it is a sense of fragility of our life and the world, and there is no season as Fragile as spring, which balances in-between Summer and Winter, life and death...And the perfume that for me is an embodiment of that is Apres L'Ondee, which is, to quote an old review,  is a "hesitant smile on a tear-stricken face. The fearful calm after the storm." I feel in Apres l'Ondee "the poignant fragility of violets and irises, of ethereal petals weighed down by rain drops... the softer than soft spiciness of anise and carnation, the spiciness that is like a pang in the heart... the gentle caress of vanilla... the tender warmth of the base notes that lingers on my skin for hours like a memory of happiness... the graceful gauzy-ness of the sillage (...) The hope against all odds that after the gentle rain falls, the ten thousand things will finally come together...

Spring, the dry season of the tropics,
heat and dust, smoke and sand,
waiting for the thunder and the rain,
Bel Respiro calms and cools me.

Spring for me is always a period of joy. After months of cold, drab weather (yes, even in Los Angeles, where it's raining as I type this) Spring will, well, spring. Lily of the Valley for me is the ultimate scent of spring. The one that I'm most reaching for is Comme des Garçons Series 1: Leaves, Lily. It's lovely straightforward lily that reminds me of Springs from my childhood years ago.

Please check out other spring favorites at: Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This and Perfume Posse.

Image source,


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Fling

By Tom

Spring for me is always a period of joy. After months of cold, drab weather (yes, even in Los Angeles, where it's raining as I type this) spring will, well, spring.

Growing up in New England that meant that practically overnight the maple trees that ringed my parents house would burst into full leaf, the lawn went from greyish brown to almost cartoonish emerald, lilacs exploded into showy purple or white blooms and crocuses seemingly shot up before your eyes like time-lapse photography. Winter clothes could cautiously be abandoned, and my bicycle could come out of the garage.

People say there are no seasons in Los Angeles. They're wrong of course. We have winter and it has definite stages. The deciduous trees here lose their leaves in Winter: there are Maples planted on Alden Drive not far from my place that put on a 3 block mini-show for us with bright orange leaves, Right around now they're awaiting the day they burst into full leaf. We don't have lilac, but the Jacaranda trees on Oakhurst and Palm Drives and the Magnolias on Beverly will do nicely, thanks, even if there's no smell. That comes with the jasmine.

But for me Lily of the Valley is the ultimate scent of spring. At my parents it was a sigh that spring was well and truly here. Now, since it doesn't grow where I live (that I know of) I have to buy it in a bottle. The one that I'm most reaching for is Comme des Garçons Series 1: Leaves, Lily. It's lovely straightforward lily, with hints of freesia and lilac leaves that reminds me of those New England springs years ago. At the time I reviewed it last year I was told that it might be going away. I'm glad to report that it's still in stock at LuckyScent, so I can continue to have this Technicolor simulacrum of my youth on hand.

Image, New England Spring by Robert Harrington, is from

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hermes Un Jardin sur le Toit - Perfume Review

By Marina

A rooftop garden in a big city is on my wishlist. Hermès's olfactory verison of one (Hermès building, 24 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris) is not. Maybe because I always imagined I'd grow roses in mine, and not apples.

I like the beginning of Un Jardin sur le Toit, don't dislike its drydown, and want to wash it off in the middle of its development. In the top, it smells on me like mesclun salad with apples and pears, in the proportion of 90% salad greens, 9% apples and 1% pears. Overall, the composition is very light on pear to me, luckily. And, for most of its life on my skin, very heavy on apple, sadly. I have yet to meet an apple in perfume that I love. In fact, there are only a few that I merely tolerate. And that is why, as soon as "an undetermined mix of fresh and available" salad leaves are eaten up by my green-loving skin, and UJSLT starts coming up all apples, it is a no go for me. Maybe if it were juicy, (over)ripe, high quality fruits, it would have been better, but the apples here smell to me like those fragrance-free, tasteless generic green apples that in our supermarket pass as "Granny Smith".

There is some rosy-ness in the middle, but not much, and all it does is make the apples sweeter. When rose gives way to something still florally but greener, spicier, drier, which I'd call a geranium-like quality, apples start to subside too, and now, towards the end, when the vegetal feel returns, I can bear Sur le Toit again. Overall I like it.Well, to censoriously use one my husband's favorite quotations from Mark Lamarr circa 2001-ish Never Mind the Buzzcocks... I say I like it, what I really mean is I tolerate it. I say I tolerate it, what I actually want to do is insert 73 chop sticks into my nose...

OK, fine that was a bit too dramatic for a perfume this unremarkable and for the most part inoffensive. 

Available wherever Hermes is sold, $90.00-$125.00.

Image source, 


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Mutiny On This Bounty: En Voyage Perfumes Nectar des Îles & Vents Ardents (And a Prize Draw!)

By Donna

Haven't we all dreamed of the tropics at one time or another, the perfect Paradise where everything is soft and lilting and musical, carefree and full of vibrant life and color? We envy the idea of island life even though the reality of it is certainly not all that easy for those who are born to it, but there is something so irresistible about it, a primordial pull that can make even the most jaded city dweller drift away on thoughts of palm trees, brightly tinted sunsets and lifestyles where no one really cares what time it is. Perfumers have known this about human nature for a long time, and they have given us a multitude of fragrances built around the theme of tropical aromas, from the simplest colognes aimed at the Hawaiian tourist trade to elaborate constructions that reference every possible icon of smell that might be deemed “exotic.” Unfortunately, in many cases the same attention to quality is not paid to this style of scent as it might be for more serious types, with some notable exceptions of course, but cheap and cheerful concoctions with a throwaway aesthetic are frequently the hallmark of the breed. I am here to tell you that it does not have to be that way.

I had heard of perfumer Shelley Waddington's line of fragrances, and I knew that she created custom perfumes for her clients, but I had never tried anything in the line. So I was more than a little curious when I had the opportunity to test the newest launches from En Voyage Perfumes, Nectar des Îles and Vents Ardents, the latest in her Odyssey Collection, as I had no idea what to expect. When the samples arrived, it took me almost no time at all to understand that these are no ordinary perfumes; they are both of exceptionally high quality and deserving of exposure to a much broader audience.

These two fragrances are actually the products of a collaboration. Nectar des Îsles was created by a talented Puerto Rican perfumer named Juan Manuel Perez, whose company Exotic Island Aromatics makes soy candles, soaps and other scented products. A line of perfumes is coming soon, and after smelling this one I can hardly wait for that to happen. It is at heart a gardenia and tiare flower scent, with other ingredients adding much interest and depth, but there is nothing heavy or cloying about it. It reminds me a little of the style of Isabey Gardenia, not as bright or fruity as that, yet with the similar quality of not smelling like a clichéd gardenia soliflore; it does not have that buttery or “blue cheese” aroma that gardenia scents can sometimes develop. It is intended as a feminine fragrance, and it speaks softly and gently, a murmured breeze caressing the skin on a sleepy island day when the humid air carries every nuance of flowery delight. It is nuanced and quiet for a white floral and does not become too heady or indolic on me, and if it were going to do that, my skin is the perfect testing ground; I amplify white florals to a fault, but this one works even in the office, although work is the last place I want to be when I have it on, because it's so transporting and dreamy. It's an unusual combination of distracting sensuality, soothing calm and elegant wearability. Lasting power is very good and it will happily stay with you for many hours; after a long day at work it still smelled fresh and inviting on my skin.

The official list of notes for Nectar des Îles: Top: Wild Oranges, Mandarin, Green Citron, Osmanthus Nectar. Heart: Fresh Gardenia and Tiare petal accord, Absolutes of two frangipani species, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine auriculatum. Base: Sandalwood Absolute from Vanuatu, Tahitian Vanilla, Amber and Fine White Musks.

Shelley Waddington composed Vents Ardents (“Ardent Winds”) to be an idealized masculine fragrance, but there is nothing about it that would make it fit neatly into any category arbitrarily determined by gender. It is a symphony of tropical notes that does not smell like anything else in my experience with this genre. There is no jarring synthetic “marine” aroma, no suntan oil, and no coconut, and any pineapple it may have is subsumed into the delicious mélange of other fruit accords. It's a panoramic blend of every island fantasy yet it's not beachy or overly familiar in the way of so many other perfumes that have staked out this territory. Plump and juicy tropical fruits including my beloved mango, tobacco, rum, dewy florals, Tonka bean, golden amber, woods and just a touch of vanilla conspire to create the island paradise perfume of my dreams. It is exactly what I have wished for so many times and been disappointed by just as frequently, the other candidates being too sweet, too kitschy, too fleeting, or ultimately just not interesting enough; this is what I was foolishly hoping for with the new mango-centric Escada Taj Sunset that I recently tried, and I got something a little bit like it for only a brief time before it faded to anonymous prettiness. Vents Ardents is exponentially better, and it makes one wonder why a company with so much money and clout can't come up with something as marvelous as this fragrance from a tiny niche house!

You might think from a reading of the notes that Vents Ardents sounds a lot like L'Artisan's Havana Vanille, or others scents in that general style, but it's not even close. That one has a “manly” heft to it with its very strong rummy character and lots of wood and tobacco, while everything in Vents Ardents is perfectly balanced and seamlessly integrated, each delicious note folded into the next like cargo tightly packed onto the most fragrant ship that ever sailed the tropical seas. It's sweetly fruity but not too much so, only gently woody, with traces of tobacco and vanilla weaving through the other notes. What came to me when I had worn it for a while was the idea and sensation of bounty, a rainbow array of riches spilling over with exuberant smells and tastes, and Shelley has brought it all together in one place for our enjoyment. I for one just can't get enough of it; the men are going to have to share this one! Longevity is also very good.

Notes for Vents Ardents: Top: Curaçao, Wild Oranges, Bay Rum, Tropical Fruits
Heart: Venezuelan Tonka Beans, Heliotrope, Magnolia, French Narcissus
Base: Amber, Mahogany, Tobacco, Oak, Driftwood, Musky Vanilla, Balsams

These two fragrances were designed to worn by a man and a woman to complement one another, but they can also be layered together and have been formulated with that in mind, so I tried that too. Oh baby, this one goes to eleven! Intoxicating is the word for this effect, as the florals in Nectar des Îles put an extra glow of polish on Vents Ardents' fruits, and in turn the fruit notes make the white flowers in the other even more voluptuous and narcotic. I strongly recommend having both of them so you can try this; it works better than any other fragrance layering experiment I have ever tried. Both are available in Eau de Parfum for $40 USD for 1/2 ounce or one ounce for $70 from the En Voyage Perfumes Web site. Please read other reviewers' impressions of these perfumes on Shelley's Carmel Perfumer blog and Perfume Pharmer.

The prize draw is especially attractive, because Shelley has commissioned a limited number of gorgeously adorned “message in a bottle” glass flacons that look like what might wash up on the shore of a perfect white sand beach in a fairy tale, and the perfume samples, one of each fragrance wrapped in handmade banana leaf paper, will be inside them. These precious vessels will never be for sale, so the winners will have a real collector's item to treasure. The prize draw is open to all: Shelley will ship worldwide directly to the winners! There will be two winners this time, so please tell us which one of these perfumes you would prefer to try in your comment, and if you like, let us know what your own favorite tropical style perfume is.

Image credits: Photos by Rich Waddington, courtesy of Shelley Waddington. The gift box dual presentation is designed for a bride & groom. The “message bottles” shown are what the winners of the prize draw will receive.

Full disclosure: The perfume samples were sent to me by Shelley Waddington gratis for testing purposes.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Pacifica French Lilac and a prize draw!

By Beth

Pacifica Perfume was not a fragrance line that I've ever paid to much attention to until the other day when my husband and I were shopping at our local Whole Foods in University Heights. Spring has clearly begun here in Cleveland, with daffodils and bluebells blooming everywhere and this is the time of year that I find myself craving single floral scents probably because that's what's constantly in the air! So I stopped by the pretty display of Pacifica products and what caught my eye immediately was a pretty little flacon of French lilac perfume.

I adore lilacs, probably because they are such a romantic old fashioned flower and they remind me of my mother who was so very fond of them because of their blowsy, fragrantly happy natures! She had a beautiful crystal vase that had been her mothers and is now mine that was cut crystal, narrow at the bottom and tall but wide on top just like a parasol. Lilacs and old fashioned snowballs and roses are just beautiful arranged in this vase and for me seeing her create her beautiful bouquets are very personal childhood memories that I treasure.

My new house came with many wonderful foundation plantings including a lovely magnolia that’s about to spring into blossom at any second but my absolute favorite is the huge lilac that is getting ready to bloom outside of my second floor bedroom window! It’s an tenacious old bush with a lot of personality. I can’t wait to throw open my windows the first day that it blooms and let it fill the house with it’s sweet scent! I wasn’t moved in here last year for that so I don’t even know what color it is and I’m so excited!

So you can imagine that upon seeing the little tester of perfume quietly marked “French Lilac” I was immediately overcome with some of those memories and very curious. I sprayed myself with a bit of it and I found it to be absolutely lovely, with just the right touch of heliotrope and nectarine, ylang ylang and oakmoss , enough to convey the memory of such a sweet and special flower. What I wasn't prepared for though was my husbands response. He absolutely loved it and bought it for me on the spot. He said that it was literally one of the most romantic fragrances that he'd ever smelled and I could tell that it brought back memories of his own of being a child on his grandparents farms way out in Medina county where the lilac bushes practically grow like weeds because they have so much room and so many old front porches to ramble around. Whatever the reason, I have been wearing it ever since!

It's a green enough fragrance to be a little bit cool if necessary, but Pacifica's French Lilac has a surprisingly passionate heart. I’m amazed that it’s such a gorgeous little perfume because it’s also one of the most reasonably priced ones that I wear, checking in at about 20 dollars a bottle. Like all of their other fragrances, it comes in a solid perfume which is very nice, as well candles, body butter and a finely milled soap and I encourage you to splurge and try them all. French Lilac is a very sexy fragrance to enjoy this spring and so far I've worn it with cotton, lace and velvet. It’s lovely as a room spray and for fun why don’t you try spraying a bit of it between your sheets for your next romantic evening! I’ve got a bottle to give away just in time for mother’s day and I’d love to know some of your most wonderful lilac soaked memories! Please leave me one in your comments and I’ll enter you in the drawing!

And to start off your day just right, here’s a wonderful little bit of Rachmaninoff!

Delightfully you can find Pacifica Perfumes at almost any Whole Foods location or at

Photo of lilacs courtesy of

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Sunday, April 24, 2011

Foodie Sunday: My mother's Easter dinner, Mandy Aftels "Honey Blossom" and a fabulous prize draw!

By Beth

When I was a kid Easter dinner was something that I really looked forward to because my mother pulled out all of the stops. I think that she really loved the holiday ; as a young woman growing up in the small town of Champaign in Illinois there wasn’t much in the way of a Jewish Community so she had the distinct pleasure of being able to celebrate any of the holidays that she wanted. I think that they always celebrated Passover but that was about it for the Jewish traditions and if you’ve ever spent anytime at all in a small town, you know that the communities live for their holidays. My mom used to talk all of the time about the 4th of July parades and the door to door Christmas caroling, but what she loved the most were the May Day baskets that she made for her neighbors and the huge Easter dinners that her mother would prepare complete with colored eggs, hidden Easter baskets and her famous floating Island pudding!

My mothers Easter dinners were every bit as lavish as her mothers and absolutely beautiful. When I’d wake up on Easter morning fresh daffodils, honeysuckle (my mothers favorite!) and lilacs would be everywhere and she’d be standing in the kitchen slicing fresh garlic to tuck into the leg of lamb. The scent of her house was always amazing and her windows would be thrown open to let in the fresh spring air. The table would be already be set with her mothers lovely white and gold Haviland dishes and a flowered cloth and her sterling would be gleaming and laid out on the sideboard ready for me to set it into order along with the sparkling water and white wine goblets that were waiting alongside. I always knew that she was happy because she’d be humming old show tunes……a sure sign that she was relaxed and enjoying herself! The dinner itself was always completely delicious, lamb, potatoes and fresh asparagus, fresh pickled beets and hard boiled eggs and usually a chilled pea and fresh mint soup or a fresh carrot soup in honor of the Easter bunny that she’d scented with a bit of lemon, parsley and ginger!

After I’d peeled the hard boiled eggs for her pickled beets I would run off happily to find my Easter basket which she always hid in the most ingenious places. My mother loved games and she was quite good at them! After about a half an hour of hunting I’d finally find it. Her Easter baskets were legendary! She always filled mine with the newest Breyer horse model and lots of chocolate and spice (never fruit!) jelly beans. She always picked the black ones out. That was our game ! She loved the black licorice ones and I hated them so If I saved them all for her then she’d be sure to give me an extra helping of the purple clove scented ones which I adored.

And then there was the lamb cake!

We had a very famous bakery in town until about 20 years ago called The Hough Bakery. Native Clevelanders are known to get tears in their eyes and wax nostalgically over the thought of a Hough Bakery birthday cake. In this era of Food Network stars and fancy bakeries and cakeries there still isn’t anything quite as good as a Hough cake. I don’t know what it was that made them seem so special, but special they were. A Hough birthday cake was the perfect combination of almondy , fluffy moistness with sugary crunchy frosting, nothing like those funny whipped frostings that seem to be the only things that you can buy these days. They personalized everything and if you gave them pictures or ideas they would replicate entire scenes on their flat sheet cakes. I remember one particularly satisfying birthday when my cake was a managerie of all of my animals from my ponies to my cats with a huge “Happy Birthday Beth” on the blue ribbon fluttering gaily on the ponies bridle! Such is the stuff that wonderful childhood memories are made of.……

Aside from the most amazing mushroom pie that I’ve ever tasted to this day, Hough Bakery made several wonderful confections for Easter like almond and honey scented petit fours in the shape of eggs and decorated with that delightful sugary glaze frosting and sugar flowers as well as a spring basket made of a wonderful white cake and covered with huge mounds of colorful frosting flowers. But, as all Cleveland kids of a certain age know, the most luscious treat of all was the sacred Easter lamb cake!

The Hough bakery lamb cake was delicious and definitely shaped like a lamb, covered with mounds of fluffy white frosting. It was a constant thing on my mothers table and year after year lay peacefully on its bed of shredded coconut, tinted green to be grass with yummy sugar flowers in it’s pasture and jelly beans galore! My mom put it on her mothers lovely silver tray and placed in the center of the table, the guest of honor at her lovely Easter dinner! It smelled incredible, just like butter almond , honey , spun sugar and violet pastilles.

I have many memories of those days but the most wonderful would be the day that she hid my Easter basket underneath the Honeysuckle bush that was in full bloom that Easter. I fortunately wasn’t allergic to bees, because that bush was covered with them, but it was huge and fragrant and I was little enough to still believe in flower fairies (well I still do actually!) and I spent the whole morning laying underneath it’s boughs , galloping my plastic horses around and gorging on spicy jellybeans and chocolate until I was almost sick!

That treasured memory came rushing back to me the other day when I received a sample of Mandy Aftels absolutely gorgeous Honey Blossom perfume. I carried Mandy’s first book, Essence and Alchemy around with me for days after I read it, loath to put it down and later on when I became even more involved in the world of natural perfumes I began to seek out her fragrances. Honey Blossom is my favorite to date and the transcendent Linden beauty lingers on my skin like a sheer caress of spring wind. I adore Linden fragrances and Honey Blossom is absolutely that , but really so much more. When I wear it I get swept away by the linden but then I fall madly in love with the orange blossom and what seems to be something altogether magical like jasmine , but a fairy kissed jasmine which is almost a bit sugary and devilish , like jasmine that’s just dripping with a white truffled honey.

Afteliers Honey Blossom is an exquisite blend of alchemy and high fragrance art . It is beguiling and utterly flirtatious but oddly comforting too. It instantly returns me to the memories of the home that I grew up in. My parents had gorgeous gardens that they created themselves and they were always bit wild , a little untamed. Honey Blossom IS the scent of those gardens and my version of Dorothy’s ruby slippers. Three drops and I am aloft in the springtime winds, landing gently at the base of that beautiful honeysuckle from so long ago.

This year, Mandy Aftel has been nominated for not one , but THREE FiFi awards in the Consumers Choice Niche Perfume Category. This is a fabulous honor not only for Mandy but all of the incredible perfumers who inhabit my beloved world of Natural Perfumery! Honey Blossom is one of the distinguished finalists and this is the first time ever that one natural perfume let alone three has ever been nominated for such a prestigious award! For more information and instructions on how you can vote please click here!

Now for the fun part! I have a wonderful Easter present for one of you. Mandy has generously sent me a beautiful sample of Honey Blossom and three of her incredible Chefs essences, Ginger, Black Pepper and Litsea Cubeba! The ginger is magnificently gingery yet a bit floral and just one drop enhances my mothers recipe for carrot soup to perfection. I also like it mixed into a bit of sparkling water and agave nectar for a delightful home made ginger ale! The black pepper essence is a sensory delight, a savory yet spicy fresh pepper that I tried in my recipe for Bordeaux poached pears. The result was a pear that melted I my mouth with the right bit of zing, not heat. Served over fresh vanilla bean vegan ice cream it was was incredible! The Litsea Cubeba is lemony and spicy all at the very same time. One drop stirred into a glass of Iced tea is sublime , but one drop of the essence stirred into a vinaigrette and laced over an arugula and raw goat cheese salad is absolutely and ridiculously delicious. Mandy tells me that she searches the world for the very best quality essences and with one taste you know that she’s completely serious about it. These are incredible and my darlings please remember …only a drop because they are strong. These bottles will last a long time if you keep them in a cool dry place.

If you want a chance a this incredible prize draw just leave me a comment and share with me one of your favorite Easter (or Passover) memories!

One last thing….. The winner of the luscious lavender syrup for The Springtime Cocktail Party Foodie Sunday is Katherine! Just contact Marina at the address on the right!

Easter Basket cake photograph courtesy of Archies Lakeshore Bakery. Honey Blossom perfume images used with permission of Mandy Aftel. Honeysuckle Fairy Image courtesy of

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Esprit d'Oscar: In the Spirit of... Guerlain

By Marina

There are two Guerlain scents I love dearly and never want to be without, Apres L'Ondee and Quand Vient la Pluie. For the last couple of years, however, I felt out of tune with both. The former smells too pale, transparent and melancholy to me, the latter too intense, sweet and bright. You might be surprised to hear that I found a happy medium in the new Oscar de la Renta fragrance, Esprit d'Oscar. As Goldilocks would say, it's just right.

Esprit d'Oscar smells "like a Guerlain" to me, more particularly, like a close relative of the two scents mentioned above, with more body and color than Apres L'Ondee, less zaftig and honeyed than Quand Vient la Pluie. The perfume's tag line is "a modern take on the classic de la Renta scent", but in this case "a modern take" does not mean, "young", which became a four letter word for fragrance lovers, since it usually means, fruity, sparkly, generic and twee. Esprit is none of those. There is a certain olfactory "shimmer" to the scent, from the citrus notes, which also have a certain understated candied feel, and from orange blossom in the heart, but not so much as to make it truly "sparkly", which to me is as tiresome in fragrances as constant cheerfulness in people.

What makes Esprit d'Oscar so appealing to me, and what makes it "Guerlain-like", in my mind, is the generous dose of heliotrope. The note, together with tonka, provides a velvety, moderately plush backdrop for an elegant floral blend of jasmine and tuberose in the heart. Powderiness in a scent, when done right tends to lend perfumes a "classic" feel, or rather- a certain air of timelessness, agelessness, always-in-fashion-ness. This is the case with heliotrope in Esprit d'Oscar. Having said that, I wouldn't call this a heliotrope-centered fragrance at all. Like all "proper perfumes", it doesn't smells of any one particular ingredient, and is an abstract composition.

To sum up: love and hope you try it too. Available in "select department stores", $78.00-$98.00.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Winner of Ormonde Jayne Discovery Set Giveaway Eartha. Please email us your details using the contact link on the right.

In Memory of Bijan Pakzad...

By Tom

This past weekend Bijan Pakzad was taken ill at his Beverly Hills boutique Bijan with an apparent stroke. He was rushed to surgery at Cedars Sinai, and died there on April 16th. He was one of the people who made Rodeo Drive what it is today, and I can't imagine what it will be like without seeing his smiling countenance and yellow Rolls out and about. He was a true original and one that will be missed. In his honor, PST is re-posting the review of his eponymous fragrance from last year.

My Scent Twin posted about this scent, which reminded me that I've had a beensy little tester of this forever. Since it's been in the back of a closet forever it was in good shape and I thought I would revisit it.

Flashback to the late 80's: Reagan was in office, "Dynasty", "LA Law" and "Knots Landing" were the big shows and I was moving to Los Angeles. I chose specifically to live in Beverly Hills, since (compared to NYC) rents were cheap and I wanted to live in the quietest, safest neighborhood I could find that still let me walk to the party-town that is West Hollywood.

80's scents were big. Big Shoulders big. Hiroshima big. Giorgio was still open at the corner of Rodeo and Dayton, puffing its eponymous scent into the intersection. At that long light it would permeate your car for hours.

Bijan didn't spritz. Bijan was super-exclusive. You didn't walk into Bijan, it was appointment only in an era when that was unheard of. What people didn't hear was that once you bought something from Bijan there was an unheard of level of customer service: if you popped a button or tore a lining a trip to the store would mean that you and your garment would be pampered equally. If you were a resident of the Westside who traveled Santa Monica Boulevard Bijan was a fixture on his billboard near Sepuleveda, his tanned smiling face reminding you that he was having a great time selling stuff you can't afford to people you'd never meet. His new-every-year Bijan-yellow Rolls-Royce was always parked in front of his store, parking tickets be damned.

At the end of the decade Bijan introduced his fragrance. It was a big, rich concoction of white flowers with an ambery vanillic base. The sample I have isn't labelled, but I suspect it's and EdeP at best and a few dabs at the crook of the elbow are as handsome and as dated as Brenda Dicksons "Welcome to my Home".

But you know, it's still better than 80% of most things coming out right now, and if American Apparel can make a fortune recycling the 80's then why not this? Just please, for pitys sake, don't spray...

From Gaia's review: The only concentration still in production is an EDT (usually a dead giveaway for reformulation) and it's official retail price according to Bijan's website is $130 for 1.7 oz. Seriously. Searching online reveals it can actually be bought from various sources for under $30, and the EDP is still around here and there.

My sample is from the bowels of my closet.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

1861 - New Scent from Xerjoff

"Celebrating the 150 year unification of Italy, Xerjoff has created a perfume that captures the scent and unique history that Italy has to offer. Bright citrus notes begin the olfactory journey with lime, mandarin & bergamot representing the sunny Calabria region of Southern Italy. Fresh green middle notes of Lily of the valley and herbal mint capture the unmistakable fresh breeze of Sardinia leading to a base of Cedar, amber and musk which round out the entire composition, creating a warmth that is only felt in the beautiful Italian countryside.

Top: Bergamot, Mandarin, Lime, and Petitgrain
Middle: Bulgarian Rose, Lily of the Valley, and Mint
Base: Cedar, Patchouli, Amber and Musk

Xerjoff 1861 is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum and will be available March 2011. Retail price will be $250.00 can be found at all retailers as well as" (press release)

A Sample Bonanza!

Mini reviews by Marla

As a reward to myself for successfully hauling my household (including 2 bunny rabbits) across the Atlantic to our new tropical home, I purchased a modest group of samples from Luckyscent. I’m enjoying every single one on some level or another (from cerebral appreciation to “Grr, Cavewoman WANT NOW!”) Here are some of my not-very-organized-or-aesthetically-sophisticated thoughts on the whole smelly lot:

1. Atelier Cologne- Vanille Insensee- Why don’t perfumers use English or Spanish for names sometimes, I mean, what’s wrong with “Insane Vanilla” or “Vainilla Loco”? For those sick of French, try saying the Spanish, it’s fun! And this is a fun perfume, gorgeous, but a little weird and frivolous. I don’t care for gourmand vanillas, and this one is perfect for me. It’s lovely in tropical heat as well, and I don’t think for a moment I’ve spilled my ice cream cone down my shirt. I’m very impressed with this fairly new niche brand.

2. Atelier Cologne- Orange Sanguine- Well, the name’s all right for this one, I guess, but “Naranja Feliz” is better. Are you listening, Atelier staff?? The most realistic orange cologne I’ve ever tried, it reminds me of a new Brazilian orange essence that came out recently, very substantial, no bitterness, long-lasting. This would be the perfect cologne to spray on before going for a morning run, it really does induce happiness and amp up my energy level.

3. Tauer Perfumes- Orange Star- Andy’s perfumes don’t always play nice with my skin, the Tauerade can go very soapy on me. This is a lovely, oriental, antique orange, the polar opposite of Atelier’s, and I like it very much. I’d wear this one in winter, though. The soap note appears, then hides while the deeper woody amber smooths everything over. This is what I thought “Baume de Doge” was going to smell like, that whole antique wood/spice chest thing is here. I agree with the UK Fifi judges on this one, it’s brilliant.

4. Tauer Perfumes- Zeta- For those perfumistas who want to own a Tauer but can’t wear the Tauerade, Zeta really parts with tradition and delivers a beautiful, radiant and feminine floral. Wow, do I feel girly in this one! Please do not wear this around bees.

5. Parfums de Nicolai Weekend a Deauville- Well, Denyse really nailed this in her review on Grain de Musc, all I can say is “YUM!” Green, floral, a little odd, terminally classy, light yet substantive. My current Nicolai favorite.

6. And now, drumroll, my Numero Uno of the group: The Different Company’s De Bachmakoff. If I hadn’t just moved and spent large portions of my bank account on boring new appliances that work in the New World, I’d buy a liter of this. I’m the Queen of Mean Green scents, and this might be my ultimate perfume thrill. It’s Scandinavian forests, Slavic bathhouses, icy spring flowers, Russian 19th century poetry, the notes don’t matter, this is a piece of true olfactory art, and I’m sorry it’s Celine Ellena’s swan song for the line. Come back someday, Celine, OK?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lucky 7: Andy Tauer Zeta

By Tom

I'm just about the last person I think to write about this new scent from Swiss perfumer Andy Tauer. We here at PST are fans of his and for me his latest did not disappoint. It opens with sparking citrus: lemon, orange and bergamot that's so wonderful you want it served like champagne. Ice cold in a flute. Neroli and linden form the heart: neroli young and springlike and linden with its surprisingly human aspect to it. Sandalwood, orris and vanilla combine with the salty linden to create just a touch of his signature "Tauerade" in the drydown.

It's a cliche I guess to write of a scent as "Summer in a bottle". It isn't to exemplify the ideal, as Zeta does.

$150 for 50ML at

My sample was from LuckyScent.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

The Winner

of the GreenWitch solid perfume sample via draw is Lisa Ashby. please email us your info using the contact link on the right.

Jo Malone Tea Collection

By Mackenzie Reilly

I’ve been hooked on perfume ever since my mother let me wear a drop of her Shalimar on my wrists. I was five and fell in love with the story behind the fragrance, named for a garden in Lahore, India – built as an ode of love from an emperor to his wife. I am most passionate about the stories behind the scents, their histories, memories, evocative abilities and cultural implications. I am fascinated by the concept of fragrance design as architecture, the truth and scientific clarity of fragrance chemistry, and the olfactory mysteries that the world has yet to solve.

I come from an academic background in olfactive anthropology, and earned my bachelors studying the use of scent in various tribes throughout Africa, gaining a unique perspective on the cultural and osmological role of fragrance around the world. My favorite perfume is Dzing! by l’Artisan Parfumeur.

The cultivation and consumption of tea is a cross cultural-global phenomenon, its presence traced back thousands of years to China. Today, cultures worldwide are known for varying and often elaborate tea customs, like the Japanese who are known for their formal tea ceremonies, rich with ritual and heritage. Moroccans take their tea green with mint leaves and sugar, while India’s teapots are full of Masala Chai and intoxicating jasmine. On the Kohs of Thailand you’ll find tea with condensed milk and an unparalleled syrupy sweetness, and in Nepal and Tibet, tea is served with yak butter and salt. Americans tend to enjoy their tea iced and heavily sweetened, while the Turkish favor black tea with beet sugar.

It’s not surprising then, that following water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world. The English are among the world’s top tea drinkers, where the beverage functions as an integrative part of British culture- one that has inspired the new limited edition cologne collection from celebrated fragrance house Jo Malone.

High Tea at the Palm Court. Photo © The Ritz London.

This five-scent tea collection serves as the perfect compliment to Jo Malone’s creative philosophy of fragrance layering – a way to customize your scent by determining pairings and ratios, allowing you to develop a signature scent or try a different combination every day. As fragrance is experienced aromatically, it is fragrance before taste. These teas, developed by perfumer Christine Nagel, are Assam & Grapefruit, Earl Grey and Cucumber, and Fresh Mint Leaf, as well as Sweet Milk and Sweet Lemon.

The tea-infused fragrance is certainly not a new idea (Bvlgari, l’Artisan Parfumeur, and Hermes among the obvious pioneers), but it has never been done like this before. Each of Jo Malone’s tea scents is sheer enough to benefit from the addition of another, though complex enough to be enjoyed on its own.

Assam and Grapefruit: This has the strongest “tea” note, smelling vividly of black tea leaves with a bit of an aldehydic soapiness to it that is indolic yet still clean. The grapefruit here is more vivid on blotter than on my skin, but I love the idea of an effervescent citrus to balance out the malty Assam. For this reason the Sweet Lemon is a perfect compliment to this fragrance. A muted patchouli emerges in the base, with a damp, musty quality reminiscent of wet stone.

Earl Grey and Cucumber: The trademark, signifying note of Earl Grey, bergamot, shines through a watery cucumber, conjuring up images of afternoon tea in London, with bright, aromatic Earl Grey tea and dainty cucumber finger sandwiches. A musky vanilla appears at the end to round out the fragrance into a smooth finish.

Fresh Mint Leaf: I am a big fan of mint tea, putting freshly picked mint into a French press, pouring boiling water over the bright green, serrated leaves... the way they pour steaming mint tea over sugar at the souks in Marrakech... the way the steam rises to clear your sinuses, and opens your chest. This is the only tisane, or herbal tea, in the collection and, in my opinion is best on its own. A masculine blend of cedar and basil add some strength to an otherwise transparent scent. Refreshing at it’s core, this is almost aroma-therapeutic – nice both in the morning, or as a calming element before bed.

Sweet Milk: This is my favorite of the collection - with creamy, milky lactones and a sweetness that recalls pure, white sugar in such a literal way it’s almost unusual. Sweet Milk hits a nostalgic note with me, reminding me vividly of the very simple, but perfect breakfast of oatmeal, milk and sugar that my mother made me when I was small. Sweet Milk is also a bit like Indian kheer - creamy, cold rice pudding dosed with sugar and cardamom. With a somewhat rice-y quality to it, the fragrance provides a pleasantly satiating feeling all the way to your core and has excellent staying power. This is a fragrance that blends into the skin seamlessly, the way a musk might. I imagine this soothing scent on warm skin on a sleepy Sunday morning, tangled in clean white sheets.

Sweet Lemon: This is my second favorite to Sweet Milk. Perfect for the summer and a beautiful addition to Assam and Grapefruit, the citruses complimenting each other creating a spectrum of lush, tangy summer fruits. The sweet lemon, though, gains its sweetness from a fairly assertive pineapple note - one that actually overpowers the lemon. Alongside the pineapple, contributing to the fragrance’s bright quality, is a juicy peach and fresh, dewy freesia.

…and if this doesn’t satisfy your tea cravings, British tea company Tetley has even come out with a scent cheekily called “Le Brew.”

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sweet Tooth: frozen desserts.

By Tom

I admit that I'm not the biggest consumer of sweets. It's might be heresy to some, but chocolate isn't my thing. While I enjoy a good frosted treat as much as the next person, I can easily pass on the cupcakes. Even having Sprinkles and the LA branch of Magnolia Bakery doesn't sway me.

I do have a weakness for Pinkberry.

Pinkberry is a frozen yogurt brand that started in 2005 in a tiny storefront just south of Santa Monica Blvd in West Hollywood. Within a few weeks of opening, there were lines up the block for what detractors and addicts alike referred to as "crackberry". That location became "the taste that launched 1,000 parking tickets." according to the LA Times and neighbors on Huntley Drive were apoplectic about the amount of illegal parkers and trash being generated on their little street. I admit that I waited in a mercifully short line to try it, and was instantly smitten, but not so much that I was going to brave the general craziness of hours-long waits in the California sun for some yogurt. Then, a second one opened in Koreatown, and I went. Then one in Hollywood, and I went. Then Venice: I went. Then in Beverly Hills and the original Huntley Drive location became the corporate office and the neighbors were left in peace. Having one in the hood was the end: I can have my "healthy" treat and walk home after? Instant gratification.

Then it seemed it was everywhere. A second Beverly Hills. Two in the Marina, two more in Santa Monica You started to get the feeling that if you left a store and came back later in the afternoon it would have turned into a Pinkberry. They were in the Beverly Center and the Farmer's Market. In the Valley, Orange County and the Inland Empire. Then the Bay area. Then other states. Then other countries. More importantly for me, one opened up in Little Tokyo, walking distance to my work.

So sometimes on hot days I have Pinkberry for lunch. I don't feel like I'm being too terrible. Unlike most frozen yogurt, Pinkberry isn't very sweet. The plain is rather tart and even the chocolate is more cocoa than Cadbury. I tend to stick to the fresh fruit if I get toppings at all so I don't think I'm packing on the calories. Like most addicts I delude myself that it has to be good for me. It's yogurt, after all; Jamie Leigh Curtis would approve, right?

Now we're springing into Spring and the temps this Sunday are supposed to be well into the 80's. I think I see a medium lychee with a spritz of fresh lime juice (the new combo) in my future. If there's a One near you check it out..

In the mean time, what's your favorite frozen treat?

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Ormonde Jayne Tolu & a prize draw

By Marina

Tolu by Ormonde Jayne is a surprising fragrance. Described as a rich, sensual oriental built around the heavenly trinity of Tolu balm, frankincense and myrrh, it smells...almost nothing like that on me. Or on a blotter. Which is fine with me. Tolu balm has always seemed to me to have a fairly prominent floral quality. Its floralcy reminds me of one of those orchids, which have a touch of spice, even a hint of incense in their velvety, blossoming sweetness.

Orchid is, in fact, declared as one of the notes in OJ Tolu, along with several other floral accords, orange blossom, rose and lily of the valley. What suprises me is that, of all flowers, it is the latter that is the dominant note on my skin. What's more, the presens of juniperry berry and clary sage in the top, makes the verdancy of the muguet even stronger. As a result, the composition is rather green, to my nose, with herbs and lily of the valley leading and the resins being in the supporting roles. Which, again, is fine with me. Rich orientals are not exactly few and far between. The drier, more understated ones are somewhat harder to find. And as the weather gets warmer, a perfume like Tolu would wear beautifully, its comparatively subdued character making it wonderfully versatile- an appropriate choice both for an office and for a dressed up evening out.

Available at Ormonde Jayne website, £56.00-£214.00. If you would like to try it, along with other OJ scents, let me know in your comment what is your favorite oriental fragrance to wear in warm weather. One person will be randomly chosen to receive a Discovery Set of 12 x 2ml mini sprays of eau de perfume.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dying A Little: Petite Mort™ by Marc Atlan

By Tom

One of the things about being a rather impecunious bachelor living in an expensive zip code is that one almost daily interacts with things that are sybaritically enticing but entirely out of reach, and may even know people who have them as a matter of course. I know people who have lovely homes filled with beautiful things, expensive and luxurious automobiles, or name-brand art. I can appreciate visiting this but really don't necessarily aspire to having it. I'm one person who loathes dusting my one-bedroom hovel in the fashionable "Industrial Triangle" section of Beverly Hills so much I only do it when forced. A whole house would require too much staff, I tell myself. A ride in an S-Class is cosseting, but then I think of parking it at Whole Foods amongst the kamikaze shopping carts and my little Civic seems a lot better suited. Looking at the wall-sized Lichtenstein at a friends house I appreciate but don't covet. Too much responsibility, and homeowners insurance payments. I tell myself that I don't want to be weighted down by expensive things and expensive upkeep. What I have is fine.

Then I come across something like Petite Mort™.

Petite Mort™ is the creation of four: Marc Atlan, who had worked with Helmut Lang, Tom Ford and Comme des Garçons (amongst others) was the engine of the project. Bertrand Duchaufour & Art et Perfume worked with him to create the actual scent. Verreries Pochet, one of the oldest luxury glassmakers in France executed the stunning bottle. Killian Hennessy was a "facilitator". Certainly those names promise a lot.

They deliver.

Petite Mort™ lists no notes, and I'm not going to try to dissect it. It is intensely animalic, but not in an overt way. It has a crystalline aspect to it that seems skin-like, but like someone else's, a nicer, more pampered skin. It smells sexy, but not of sex. Trying to discern notes actually does it a disservice; it's like trying to deconstruct a Manet to find out how he got the effect of the water lilies. I'm likely not good enough to guess all of it and I'm wasting all that time I could be spending just revelling it.

Petite Mort™ is $1000 for 10ML. Longtime readers of this blog know that I usually balk at pricey scents. Smelling this on me as I drove home from the event at ScentBar where I was allowed to sample it (and meet the handsome and charming Mr. Atlan) I said aloud "I'd consider selling a kidney to get some of this"

Available at and Luckyscent. Limited to 100 bottles, none of which will be coming to live with me.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So Pretty by Cartier

The tagline for So Pretty by Cartier goes, "Que serait l'audace sans la grace?" "What is audacity without grace?" Indeed, nothing is much good if it is lacking grace. On the other hand, grace without a certain boldness is rather boring. So Pretty has the balance of the two down pat. The powerful rose note, enhanced by the creaminess of orchid and sweetness of the fruity accord is softened and made somehow very recherche by a generous dose of orris. To me, that delicate, velvety powderiness always speaks of a lady-like, graceful quality in a perfume.

And how perfectly named is this scent? Whenever I spray it, I want to exclame, Aah! Created not that along ago, in 1995, by the master of beautiful, infinitely feminine audacity (Cacharel LouLou, Paco Rabanne La Nuit, Fifi Chachnil, Nina Ricci Deci-Dela, Fendi Asja...), Jean Guichard, the fragrance seems to have been forgotten. Yet, there nothing dated about this classical beauty, it is no less interesting then the much-hyped Les Heures. Give it a try if you haven't already. It really is So Pretty.

Available widely, for about $40.00-$50.00 for 1.7oz.

Image source,


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Swimming in Tidal Pools: Roxana Villa's GreenWitch Solid Perfume (And a prize draw!)

By Donna

When I had the chance to sample the masterful GreenWitch fragrance that Roxana Villa released in 2010, I realized that that the perfume lexicon need to be expanded to accommodate a new genre: the sea chypre. Built in the classical chypre style with vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli and oakmoss, it has the added dimension of seaweed extract to give it a very distinctive salty oceanic tang that enhances this predominantly green perfume. Multiple green notes such as bergamot, parsley, celery seed, galbanum and pine are softened by gorgeous floral highlights of rose, tuberose, boronia and mimosa. GreenWitch is an all-natural botanical except for one thing; along with the ambrette seed that stands in for musk, it also has great longevity from the use of Africa stone, the fossilized droppings of the rock hyrax, a cute little animal about the size of a rabbit whose closest relatives are elephants and manatees. This material is a cruelty-free way to include an extending fixative to a perfume formula and it is an excellent doppelganger for civet. This is one all-natural fragrance that won't fade away too quickly!

Roxana Villa is well known for her expertise in the creation of solid versions of her marvelous fragrances, and now GreenWitch receives this treatment. Ever since Roxana began keeping bees, she has been able to use the pure, sweet beeswax from her own hives in her compositions, which only adds to the magic. This begins on a slightly medicinal note, even more so than the alcohol-based liquid version, but it does smooth out with time. I find the solid to be a bit more linear than the alcohol perfume, but there is still quite a bit of development; all sorts of fascinating things rise up to entice the nose and then swirl away again. A lush floral here, a sharp green there, here a hint of musk or amber, and a beautiful ferny quality that emerges as it loses its rough edges after the opening, all embraced by the seaweed note and the animalic earthiness of the Africa stone.

For anyone who may wonder, this is a real marine aroma, nothing even close to the dreaded synthetic kind; it's the essence of a rocky coastline with tidal pools filled with all kinds of life, giving off the smells of seaweed and shells as the sun warms the rocks at low tide, only to be refreshed with the coolness of seawater as the tide turns again. All this and it's a true chypre perfume too, which is not often seen in these times of IFRA restrictions and the general decline in popularity of the genre, which is a shame. I like nothing better than a good green chypre, and GreenWitch is exactly that. If you are tired of chasing after vintage scents and being disappointed by perfumes called “modern” chypres that bear no resemblance, seek no further. The real deal is right here.

Roxana has generously offered a sample of the new GreenWitch solid perfume to one lucky winner, so leave a comment if you would like to be entered in the draw – U.S. addresses only, please. If you have a favorite Roxana Villa fragrance, please share your thoughts!

Please read more about the GreenWitch solid perfume (and enter to win a sample!) at these participating sites:

Roxana Illuminated Perfume (with a link to Roxana’s Etsy shop)

GreenWitch photo collage courtesy of Roxana Villa

Monday, April 11, 2011

Le Labo Gaiac 10 event to support relief efforts in Japan

To support earthquake disaster relief efforts in Japan, Le Labo will make the Tokyo Exclusive perfume Gaiac 10 available until May 15th in all Le Labo stores and online . 100% of the profits will be donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

L.A. Confidential: Tom Ford Lavender Palm

Tom Ford, whose name is synonymous with chic, American glamour, has recently opened his flagship store, Tom Ford Beverly Hills. Ford, designer and acclaimed movie producer; his directorial debut, A Single Man, put him on the Hollywood landscape and garnered a Golden Globe nomination for best original score and two Independent Spirit Awards- solidifies his love for the L.A. aesthetic with a new fragrance, Lavender Palm. The perfume copy says, Ford was inspired by, “all of my favorite things about Los Angeles- the sun, the architecture, the lingering decadence of old Hollywood.” The boutique features his first ever dedicated womenswear floor as the perfect launching pad for this sexy, exclusive scent.

Opening with two types of lavender, Lavender Palm mingles the bright lavandin with old school lavender absolute to create a fragrance that is a modern version of a classic, unisex and somewhat straightforward fragrance. This scent is a departure in a sense from his hyper-sexualized clothing design paradigm where women are bold, sexy yet feminine and men, well they are unabashedly masculine. Other notes in this ménage include bergamot, lime blossom, vetiver and the somewhat haunting oleander- known for its toxic, fragrant beauty.

Lavender Palm, available exclusively at Tom Ford Beverly Hills until September (and then it will be unleashed on the rest of us glamourophiles world-wide) comes in two collector-worthy shapes and sizes. Both the 50ml and 250ml are metallic and illusive, like the dazzling city of angels itself, but the larger version is clearly a nod to Ford’s love of architecture. For the $950 price tag, you can pretend you own a piece of the glittering L.A. skyline and the long-lasting scent that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality.

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Hosting a springtime cocktail party and a fabulous giveaway!

By Beth

I love cocktail parties and springtime parties are so much fun! Right now, everything’s beginning to bloom and it’s a perfect excuse to get outside and play with others! So I thought that for today’s Foodie Sunday that I’d love to give you a few suggestions for making your next cocktail party easy and fun so you’ll have no excuse not to do some of your own frolicking come the merry month of May!

In helping so many plan events over the years I’ve learned that hosting an incredible dinner party is something that we really WANT to do, but the prospect of which can fill you with total dread! The secret to delicious success is to be well prepared and completely committed to your own pleasure! After all, you want to have fun too, because sharing a meal together is still the best way that I know to really enjoy my friends and catch up with our crazy lives and if and when you’re entertaining someone unfamiliar it’s always easier to break the ice between strangers in the comfort of your home!

My mother was the master of the sophisticated cocktail soiree and over many years I watched and marveled at the way that she ran a business, raised the three of us and gave incredible parties without ever really breaking a sweat! She taught me that really good planning and preparation are essential to creating a wonderful and stress free evening, leaving you firmly in control to really enjoy your guests! I learned many useful things from her, like to never ever be without porcelain canapé plates and several tins of smoked oysters, canned stuffed grape leaves and eggplant appetizer!

I never saw her bar without several bottles of good champagne and a few after dinner liqueurs for coffee! She always had a loaf of party sized bread in her freezer, 8 chicken breasts and spinach for dip, and she could throw a party for ten with about 65 seconds notice; I saw her do it a million times Her secret weapon for stress free entertaining was a well stocked pantry and simple food, beautifully presented with a lot of laughter. Over the years, I’ve learned from her methods, and I make it a habit every time that I go shopping to add something to the cache that I keep for expected and surprise guests. Remember that rule number one is to relax!

The success to throwing a fabulous cocktail party is to keep it simple! You don't need a full bar, really all that you need is one signature drink like a simple martini (keep it savory, nothing too sweet!) , an herbaceous aperitif like Herbsaint or Pastis to mix with a bit of soda and sweet lavender scented syrup, a red wine , a white wine and a champagne cocktail! If you’ve got a punch bowl (or even a large pretty bowl) I've found that there's nothing prettier than creating a luscious champagne punch and it’s very simple to do! Just chill several bottles of nice champagne and a bottle of peach nectar. Put the ingredients into the bowl, add clear peach schnapps and violet scented Parfait d’ Amour to taste and stir. Now for the pretty part. Take an old fashioned ring jello mold and fill it with a little bit of spring water and add all kinds of berries and herbs.

Put the filled ring mold into the freezer and let it set until partially frozen. At this time add more berries, fruits and herbs and more water to the top. Freeze completely. I tend to really load up on the fruit because as it melts it's so pretty! When it’s time to serve, put the mold in a bit of hot water to loosen it and put the ice ring in the punch bowl. My mother taught me to do this when I was first married, broke and throwing my first parties because it’s really a great way to serve a lot of people inexpensively yet elegantly! The champagne that you choose doesn’t have to be expensive or even French! All it has to be is bubbly and not too sweet and there are plenty of domestics to choose from , for this recipe my choice is usually Freixenet.

Hors d oeuvres for a springtime party are very simple to make because the season is so fresh! Bruschetta is a delicious Italian treat with fresh pesto and tomato on lightly grilled or toasted bread that's been brushed with a touch of olive oil. You can use many different toppings for bruschetta, fig and gorgonzola with honey is delicious or for a vegan option there’s tapenade and roasted red peppers! This time of year fresh asparagus is in season and I love to steam the spears, wrap them with fresh rosemary ham or prosciutto and drizzle them with lemony infused olive oil and some fresh parmesan. Another appetizer that is easy to make are steamed baby redskins sliced in half with each half topped with a bit of smoked trout or salmon, fresh dill and crème fraiche. Right now you can get baby heirloom tomatoes of all varieties at many local stores. Simply cut the tops off, scoop them out and fill them with the salad of your choice. Mine is hard boiled egg, mustard, curry and currants with a bit of mayonnaise and topped with slivered toasted almonds , yours might be filled with chicken or ham salad. Use all three if you wish ,arrange everything on a lovely tray, pass them and listen for the compliments! Take your grandmothers lovely demitasse cups (you know the little ones that you’re not sure what to do with!) and fill them with a light bisque or tomato based cream soup. Simple, pretty and perfect!

The only other things that you’ll need are a simple charcuterie platter with fresh cheeses, grapes, salamis and some slices of a crusty baguette. Don't forget to have a gluten free alternative such as a rice cracker for those who can't eat wheat! I usually make one larger thing, like a roasted pork or beef tenderloin to slice and serve alongside of the cheese platter for simple sandwiches. Simply place a pork tenderloin in a roasting dish and cover it with salt , pepper, diced onions, aromatic rosemary spears and a jar of sliced peaches in syrup. Roast the pork according to your butchers directions, let cool and then slice thinly. Arrange the tenderloin on a platter of fresh arugula and rosemary and serve with a side sauce of honey mustard mixed with a bit of mayonnaise and bourbon.

Make sure that you have enough cocktail napkins for everyone , this is usually the one time that I break down and buy really pretty paper ones. Pretty melamine plates are easy to find this time of year and although expensive they are worth the initial investment and will serve you well for many years. I've suggested food here that really needs no cutlery but you should have some available just in case. Set everything up on a pretty patio table on a pretty spring tablecloth, hire a high school kid to dress in black and pass the finger foods for a special touch. Make sure that your Ipod is dancemix ready and plugged into the speakers that you've strategically placed outside!

You’ll want flowers and candles but keep them simple. A monochromatic arrangement in the French style is very pretty for this sort of party and very easy to create. Choose a favorite color and work with several different flowers in the same color family. Peonies are perfect if you can find them and so are roses or gerbera daisies. Keep the arrangements simple , compact and sophisticated and perhaps tie the bouquets with beautiful cloth ribbon before you put them in the vase. You could also arrange your flowers in a pretty basket or pitcher but either way they should accentuate and not dominate, leaving the food that you've so lovingly prepared to be the star of the show!

Now that you have everything set and ready to go, it’s time to draw a bath with something yummy ( I love Jo Malones French Lime Blossom, so sweet! ) and relax with a glass of wine. Because you’ve planned so well you’ll have plenty of time to prepare to be the belle of your ball! 45 minutes before everyone arrives , light the candles, arrange the food on the table and get ready to enjoy yourself. It's all done and the clean up is easy because of the large Tupperware container filled with soapy water that you’ve placed close by but out of sight! Just have a container nearby to scrape the platters into and put the dirty dishes into the water to wait until later making the whole thing super easy! The most important thing is to enjoy yourself and your guests and to help you do just that I’ve got a fabulous giveaway so be sure to share a favorite appetizer recipe with me in your comments and I’ll enter you in the drawing for a wonderful bottle of a Lavender scented cocktail elixer made locally here in Cleveland by the Lovely Lounging Gourmet! These are my favorite cocktail syrups and they come in the most divinely lickable flavors like Andean Fire Orchid , Antillean Hibiscus, Damascus Rose and my very favorite which is of course English Lavender! I use them to infuse sparkling water, champagne, fresh juice and lemonade and you will love them!

The Lounging Gourmet website is

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