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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight, Part Two: L'Arte di Gucci

By Donna

I guess I am really, really behind on my Italian fragrances, because not only did I not know about Acqua di Parma's glorious Profumo until very recently, I was also unaware of another masterpiece from a very famous house and this time I did not discover it until after it had already been discontinued. My only (very poor) excuse is that the bottle is a bit odd-looking and does not give a very good idea of the nature of the contents; I must have passed it over at some point since it was introduced in 1991. Imagine my feelings of both delight and dismay when I first inhaled the wonderful rose chypre perfume that is the late, great L' Arte di Gucci, knowing that if I wanted more I would have to hunt it down and pay a premium price for it.

I am an enthusiastic fan of the rose chypre genre, and I have even learned to love and admire the huge and occasionally terrifying Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum after being surrounded by it during the orgy of excess and sensory overload that was the Eighties. (Other favorites are Les Parfums de Rosine's wonderfully green Une Folie de Rose and the hazily romantic yet oakmoss and patchouli-rich Demi-Jour by Houbigant.) Along the continuum of impact and strength, L'Arte di Gucci is similar in style to Mon Parfum but much more wearable and not nearly as dense and chewy. Not quite as green as Une Folie de Rose, it nevertheless has a refreshing clarity when first applied, due to top notes of aldehydes, bergamot, coriander and other zesty elements. But watch out, for once the heart notes kick in it's a whole different story, as the intensity ramps up and an intensely rich and honeyed quality begins to emerge. Although individual results will vary, it builds in power to approach the opulent feeling of Ungaro Diva and other Eighties power scents of a similar style while stopping short of the Picasso-level volume, since it does not have as much patchouli. Actually, the overall effect of it is that it's the love child of Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum and Lancôme's Magie Noire the way it used to be, with the coriander adding a unique spiciness to the whole. No matter what stage it's in, however, it's all about the rose, a rich and jammy darkness.

The twist on this one is that instead of drying down into the essentially dry and/or sharp character one might expect from a chypre, it magnifies its ambery, musky base notes along with the profound mossiness and even a bit of leather, creating a richly honeyed and headily atmospheric effect that still shows off the chypre “bone structure” to its full effect. So many chypres are a bit haughty, even some of the rosy ones, but this is deeply sensuous, all purr and no claws except the ones she hooks you with only to draw you closer. This is especially true in the Eau de Parfum strength; the Eau de Toilette has just as much character but is perhaps a better choice for day wear. I love both versions but my heart belongs to the stronger stuff, and I will be on the lookout for a bottle of it when my small decants from a perfume friend run out. (Of course I now want the Parfum too!) Therein lies the real problem; it's one of Gucci's best feminine fragrances of all time and yet it is no more, perhaps a victim of the frenzy of natural material restrictions and lock-step reformulations that have swept through the big European houses. The word is out and the prices are high if you can find it, either at a discounter or at an auction site. I checked a few places and it's not being sold at a deep discount anywhere that I found, it's usually either out of stock or selling for full retail, and you won't find a bargain on EBay either, so expect to pay in excess of $100 for a 50 ml bottle of the EDP; the EDT is usually less. However, it's light-years better than some current perfumes selling for a lot more, and worth the investment if this is your kind of fragrance. Yes, there are plenty of rose chypres in the world already, but L' Arte di Gucci just hits everything right, and it's a shame that it can't carry on the banner for this classic style of scent.

Image credit: L'Arte di Gucci packaging from

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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Foodie Sunday...In Which Tom is Feeling Ennui

By Tom

I'm in a rut. I want to write that I'm running off to champagne-soaked brunches in Santa Barbara or high-level taste-testings of caviar at Petrossian. My reality is early laundry and a visit to Whole Foods to poach the breakfast bar (hint: bacon weighs nothing..).

So I am asking you readers to fill in with a roadmap of places to have brekkies. I know you can give a tour; please chime in. One day I'd like to do a road trip of breakfast of the USA.

Of course if booze is involved I might have to crash on your sofa...

Image source,

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore Candle Review

I never warmed to Traversée du Bosphore, the perfume.

It reminded me too much of Loukhoum, the turkish delight that I am fond of to eat, less so to smell like. It was one of the few Bertrand Duchaufour compositions to leave me totally cold. Then I got a candle…

I was gifted a mini-candle of Traversée du Bosphore and - ungrateful and picky Perfumista that I am - I took it smiling bravely, trying to suppress a tiny eye-roll. It is the thought that counts, isn’t it?

One evening, when I was looking for something else entirely, I happened upon the mini-candle and on a whim, I lighted it. I promptly forgot about it (no need for security alerts though, it was safely out of reach for small hands and far from combustible items) and when I came back into the living room I was struck by the great smell in there. Apparently I am totally fine with my house smelling like loukhoum.

Notes, according to Luckyscent included in Traversée du Bosphore, the perfume, are apple, pomegranate, tulip, iris, leather, saffron, Turkish delight accord (rose and pistacchio), vanilla and musks.

What turns into an unrelenting sweet-fest on my skin, diffuses into a lovely, fruity-spicy delicacy wrapped in tobacco leaves and softest leather, in my living room. Now I finally got the appeal this perfume has for many.

I am happy with my candle and how it transforms my environment into a Byzanthine fantasy.

What can we learn from this? Never say never.

Now where is that sample of Traversée du Bosphore again…

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Friday, May 27, 2011

En Voyage Nectar des Isles draw winner

is Elizabeth C. Please send us your details using the contact me link on the right.


By Marina

Does it happen to you once in a while that you stumble upon a perfume you smelled a while back, and go, what was I thinking? how come don't I own a vat of this gorgeousness?! This is what I cried out when I smelled Costes the other day. Why did I forget that it was so beautiful?!

With all those spices, cloves, pepper and bay leaves on the smoldering yet trademark-Giacobetti-transparent woody background, it smells like the most stylish, most modern potpourri you'd ever own. The lavender note in the top makes it smell cool, in both meanings of the word. And yet...there is something ancient, age-less, mysteriously deep in its rose paired with incense...It is centering, it is contemplative, it is Ecclesiastic. It, for the third time this week, makes me quote Pablo Neruda:

Ode To the Smell of Wood 

Late, with the stars
open in the cold
I open the door.
The sea
in the night.

Like a hand
from the dark house
came the intense
of firewood in the pile.

The aroma was visible
if the tree
were alive.
As if it still breathed.

like a garment.

like a broken branch.

I walked
the house
by that balsam-flavored
the points
in the sky sparkled
like magnetic stones
and the smell of the wood

my heart
like some fingers,
like jasmine,
like certain memories.

It wasn't the sharp smell
of the pines,
it wasn't
the break in the skin
of the eucalyptus,
neither was it
the green perfumes
of the grapevine stalk,
something more secret,
because that fragrance
only one
only one
time existed,
and there, of all I have seen in the world
in my own house at night, next to the winter sea,
was waiting for me
the smell
of the deepest rose,
the heart cut from the earth,
something that invaded me like a wave
breaking loose
from time
and it lost itself in me
when I opened the door
of the night.

Available at Luckyscent, $80.00-$170.00.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

Eau Dear, it gets worse: Cartier de Lune

By Tom

I don't quite know what to do with this one. It's supposed to be picking white blooms under the full moon, etc. It's a rosy something-or-other that I might find forgivable if it were coming from a drugstore and cost $20. But really, Cartier? I've had richer, more satisfying, more successful rose scents from Dow.

$75.00 for 1.5 oz at Sephora. My sample was a gift with purchase.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ode to Some Yellow Flowers: Honey Blossom by Mandy Aftel

By Marina

Ordinarily I think of mimosa and linden as of ethereal flowers...not quite of this lowly world. There is something in the airy, frail transparency of their aroma that lends itself to this kind of almost angelic imagery. Mandy Aftel's Honey Blossom certainly retains that non-corporeal quality of the does however place their feat firmly on the ground. Roots them in the ground even.

The perfumer brings out a certain edible quality from linden, a certain almost doughy, crumbly feel. She infuses the yellow mimosa with even more life, juiciness and color by adding orange blossom to the blend. She makes the mix appear soft, warm and sensual by using benzoin. And most importantly she lets ambergris bring out the animal in the delicate flowers, making the fragile petals smells unexpectedly dirty, earthy and human, only too human.

"We are and will be dust.

Not air, not fire, nor water
only earth
we will be
and maybe also
some yellow flowers."
(Pablo Neruda)

Available at, $45.00-$150.00.

Image source, Corbis.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jardin du Poete by Eau d'Italie

By Marina

You probably know by now that if a fragrance compels me to cite Neruda, it is love. Well here we go:
"Green was the silence, wet was the light, the month of June trembled like a butterfly..."
Oh how well that describes the sumptuous, soulful, summery deliciousness of Bertrand Duchaufour's new scent for Eau d'Italie, Jardin du Poete. I usually like my green scents dry, sharp and coldly bitchy. This one is a departure for me; it is soft, juicy and quietly joyful, as if lit from within by a warm glow of happiness. It doesn't sparkle (sparkle is a four letter word), it delicately glimmers.

I love the pulpy lusciousness of the orange note in the top, it is so realistic and ripe that it makes me want to bite into it greedily. What I also love is that the note, however, is not overly sweet. The presence of more acerbic grapefruit and gently piquant pepper keeps the sweetness in balance. Basil is one of my favorite green notes (and favorite herbs); often it smells spicy, particularly when used in masculine perfumes, but here it has a tinge of fresh, slightly cool, woody sweetness. Immortelle plays into that woody verdancy, at the same time lending the scent more body, fleshing it out, making it more comfortingly solid.

Although this tender, indeed poetic composition does in fact, metaphorically speaking, "tremble like a butterfly", it wouldn't have been Douchafour's without a darker, drier, earthier base, thanks to cypress and vetiver.

All in all, a beautiful, harmonious celebration of summer, a fitting offering to Apollo. Available at LAFCO New York and


Monday, May 23, 2011

Ivory Soap Plus Ma’Moul Cookies Equals Love: Gaultier’s Fleur du Male

By Marla

Francis Kurkdjian designed, and Gaultier launched, Fleur du Male back in 2007. It was a talked about launch because it was quite floral and rather sweet for a modern man’s fougere. But this was before the Recession of 2008, and perhaps men were feeling more decadent and innovative than austere and traditional. I remember trying it back then, along with some male friends. We all liked it, but most liked it better on me than on the guys. I’m glad it wasn’t released as a unisex fragrance, though, because the marble-white male torso bottle is one of the most charming and collectible I’ve ever seen. I suppose they could have released it in two bottles, an abstract female to match the male? Ah, well, time passes, and suddenly last month, I wanted a bottle to call my own.

Fleur du Male is technically a fougere, in other words, a balance of herbal/cool notes and coumarinic/warm notes. In this case, petigrain and straight-up coumarin battle it out while orange blossom warms up the center. It’s a sweet concoction, but not overly so. Some men get an animalic note when they wear it, but I do not. There is a hint of lavender or “fern accord”; it’s very subtle. I also get some nice hints of soapy/white musk/washed laundry notes in the drydown. But notes and categories aside, Fleur du Male smells to my nose like Ma’moul cookies (from Lebanon and Armenia), and Ivory soap! Ma’moul are delicious round cookies filled with buttery-sweet semolina, dates or ground nuts, drenched in honey and orange-blossom water, and dusted with powdered sugar. They are indescribably fragrant and tasty. I can’t help but think Francis Kurkdjian was thinking about these cookies while he composed Fleur du Male, maybe he was really hungry in his lab and started reminiscing about them? The basic theme of FdM was further worked out and elaborated upon in his beautiful APOMs for Him and Her, which feature similar notes and focus on sweet orange blossom..

I can’t say this is my favorite fougere on a man, but I have been wearing it with abandon. There have been rumors that Gaultier might discontinue this gem, but I can’t find anything substantial to back that up. Just in case, I’d recommend that interested ladies grab a bottle soon; it’s found in all the usual places for under $70 for 2.5 ounces. FdM is strong, so those 2.5 ounces will last quite a while. And do beware, there is a Cologne version in a frosted white bottle with a silver sprayer which is supposed to be very different from the original. For purposes of this review, make sure you have the Eau de Toilette.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Baltimore Blue Crab and Oysters and a wonderful giveaway!

By Beth

I am a very lucky woman. I have one utterly wonderful husband, an extraordinary family, plenty of wonderful friends and two pretty fabulous sons. Number one son, Alex is the one that I conceived, birthed and have sweated blood and tears raising for the last 23 years and my second son Zach is his very best friend who although I did not have to endure a single labor pain is truly my son nevertheless. These sorts of relationships are created in the heart after all , not necessarily through shared DNA. I love him as if he were my own.

The two of them couldn’t be any different yet they share a bond that goes well beyond friendship…it’s a kinship of brotherhood understandable only to them. They met over 15 years ago when they both were attending a very avant garde elementary Montessori school. They were the only children of older, fairly sophisticated parents who traveled with them and talked to them. Even though they went to different high schools they remained close and when Zachs father was killed in a freak accident in China about 8 years ago , Alex didn’t leave his side for well over 2 weeks. I am sure that Zach is the one person alive that my son would drop everything and travel all the way around the world to be there for him if he was ever needed and no doubt Zach would do the same.

Zach has wonderful mother, who fortunately for me has learned to willingly share him. Whenever we can we spend time together, not an easy feat because he’s often jet setting round the world, he fancies himself a bit of a worldly nomad, climbing mountains in Tibet, enjoying places like Vietnam and Russia on a students budget. My home is filled with gifts from exotic far away lands…..bags of spice from India, the freshest green tea from Japan…porcelain and silk from China, bookprints from Paris, painted mirrors from Peru. I always get a call and sometimes flowers from him on mothers day….I am truly blessed.

I can hardly believe it though because next weekend he’s graduating from Johns Hopkins and today finds me relaxing in his apartment in Baltimore. I can’t come for the graduation, but instead Jim and I have driven up here on the weekend before so that we can just spend some time together with Zach just enjoying each others company. He will be going to China the day after graduation to start a new job and this time there’s no return flight for at least 2 years so I guess that one of  these days Foodie Sunday will be live from Shanghai!

One of the lovely things about having two sons is that the range of experiences that you can share is wonderful. Alex is a brilliant musician and sometimes a painter, artistic to the core and a completely wonderful and totally intellectual bohemian type who is currently employed at Whole Foods, and working on finding himself after having dropped out of college early this year. Zach is graduating with a degree in economics and loves designer clothes and great cologne (Jo Malone’s Black Vetiver Café). Alex is the anti foodie - “Really mother , all this family ever does is go from meal to meal” as opposed to Zach who just wandered in and said “Ok, When you’re done writing , we will go and eat!”

Because Zach is the son that loves to eat with me in wonderful restaurants whenever I make plans to come for the weekend the conversation always begins with food. “What do you really want to eat this weekend ?” he asks. Well that’s a no brainer. I’m in Baltimore during crabbing season. Oysters and blue crab? You can’t get them any fresher! Add a perfect Hendricks Gin martini with a slice or two of cucumber and I’m in heaven!

I can always count on Zach to take me at my word so when we arrived of course he’d found the perfect place to eat. We walked onto the Johns Hopkins Campus and he led us toward the Baltimore Museum of Art , to be more exact to a restaurant named “Gertrudes”. To say that the Bluepoint oysters and crabcake were the freshest and best that I’d ever eaten would be an understatement…it simply wouldn’t do them justice. The oysters were briny and sweetly sea scented and the crab cakes were filled with huge chunks of fresh blue crab, with just the right amount of breading to hold them together. I had sides of tangy cheddar cheese grits and garlicky spinach and there was a wonderful sauce of capers and fresh basil. The martinis were perfect and the company and conversation which lasted long past the meal even better.

After dinner we took a long leisurely (albeit necessary!) stroll through the moonlit campus. John’s Hopkins is in full bloom right now, with magnolias, dogwoods and peonies everywhere perfuming the night air. We walked to a corner pub for a nightcap, more conversation and then home to a wonderful nights sleep.

This morning he’s promised me the best pancakes in Baltimore and a trip to a wonderful farmers market where I am told we will find the best pickles ever. Then it’s off to Georgetown for a day of shopping or maybe the harbor for more crab…..or both. Come to think of it….another plate of Bluepoints with horseradish and mignonette sauce? Why not…The sun is shining brightly and today the world’s our oyster! (you may insert a very long groan now!)

I never travel without bringing home souvenirs, so today I’m off to find some wonderful spices for my own crab boil! I’m going to get some for you too, so if you’d like to be entered into the drawing please share with me one of your fondest memories of some yummy indigenous food that you’ve enjoyed...... even better if it’s with someone you really love!

Happy Foodie Sunday my dear friends....I hope today finds you happy, healthy, surrounded by love and eating something utterly delicious!

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Saturday, May 21, 2011

"A type of conversation that happens in perfumery": WWD BeautyInc INterview with Jacques Polge

"What's your favorite fragrance not created by you?
I will never denigrade my confreres, but I'm not going to advertise them, either! That said, we all love the first perfumes made by the great houses, like Guerlain or Coty, because that's te beginning of it all. There's a type of conversation that happens in perfumery. When Coty did Chypre de Coty, Guerlain did Mitsouko. If we try to name all the fragrances with a relation to Shalimar, we'd be in the hundreds. I will say there'sa perfume by Schiaparelli that's now gone called Shocking. I worked for the company that made it before I was at Chanel. It has a lot o patchouli and every time I work with patchouli, I think of it.

What about favorites among your own?
I'd say Allure for women, becayse it's very simple and when I smell it on a woman it's very pleasant. (...)"

Two fragrances for Chanel by Polge are coming out this fall: "a women's scent for the limited edition Les Exclusifs range called Jersey, in honor of one of Coco Chanel's favorite fabrics, and No 19 Poudre, a rethinking of the original No. 19, with added notes of iris.

(Source, WWD BeautyInc, Sat. May 21st, The Frgarance Issue, pages 8-10.)


Friday, May 20, 2011

Caron Delire de Roses

By Marina

OMG WTH, was my reaction. Well to be honest there was an F there instead of an H. I actually wanted to leave it at that as a "review" of the new Caron. But I guess one is not 13 and should act a little more mature than that.

I have no recollection of what the official list of notes is for this rose fragrance and am not motivated enough to google. What I smell is a very sharp, nose-tingling grapefruit on top, what I imagine to be a generically pretty, pink-colored rose in the middle and an unexpected bread-like accord throughout the development. (Is bread the new oud? It seems to be in quite a few new launches.)

I am the biggest fan of bready, doughy accords in perfume, but this one is not attractive.  It reminds me of whole wheat bread one can find in any supermarket, mushy and tasting like cardboard. Maybe in another arrangement it could have been more palatable, but, combined with "grapefruit" and a vaguely watery accord which haunts the heart of Delire de Roses, it is unpleasant. 

Overall, the composition seems incongruous to me, as if the creators were torn between the "fresh rose" and "gourmand rose" concepts and decided to go for both, in one scent. 

And this is what is supposed to replace the Caron rose fragrances that are said to be discontinued? OMG WTH.

Already available in Caron boutique in NYC, Saks also seems to have it.


Thursday, May 19, 2011


Pacifica Lilac Perfume - Katherine

Mandy Aftels Honey Blossom Perfume and Cooking essence - Janet

Please email us your details!

Eau Dear: Eau d'Issey Florale

By Tom

As Tania Sanchez pointed out in "The Guide" the original Eau d'Issey was perhaps the biggest fragrance ever to try to smell of water. It seems that everyone in the 90's had a bottle of this (and CKone another huge "light" fragrance). I personally didn't get it, but I prefer my melon on a plate served with cottage cheese.

Jessica at Now Smell This absolutely loathed this. I'm not going to revisit territory that she exhaustively and authoritatively covered, so I'll just leave it at "what she said" and add that on me even the synthetic (and rather ghastly) rose is steamrollered by all that "freshness" that it makes me think of freshly windexed plastic flowers.

Available at Sephora, $47 - $89, depending on the size. My sample was a gift with purchase.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Levanter...Soivohle Meerschaum

By Marina

Do you like Coelho, in particular The Alchemist? I don't really know what I feel about the book. On the one hand it touches that spot in ones soul which still believes that we live in a mythical world... on the other, it seems full of cliches. I wasn't taken in by the concept of personal mission, nor do I believe that when you want something, the universe will conspire to give it to you...But for some reason, ever since reading the book, I was fascinated by levanter, a strong easterly wind from the Mediterranean. Fascinated by the word itself and by the idea of the wind blowing off of Africa...There is something in the sound of it that gives me the worst case of wanderlust.

Ever since I started reading The Alchemist a couple of months ago, I was looking for a scent that would evoke levanter for me. "In the distant land the boy came from, they called it the levanter, because they believed that it brought with it the sands of the desert, and the screams of the Moorish wars." Would it smell of the heat of desert? How does a desert smell? How to translate the violence and the wildness and the wilderness in a fragrance?

I feel I found an approximation of what I imagine the smell of levanter to be like in Liz Zorn's Meerschaum. It smells minerally, earthy, untamed, it makes me think of the sand so hot it would burn your feet, of dark stones, dark secrets, dark thoughts and dark passions, of fierce determination...and yet of letting go and wandering off in search of...well, maybe of a treasure or maybe just of something new. With notes of spices, moss, tobacco and leather, it seems it would be heavy, but it is not...all these aromas are there, but as if smelled from a distance, carried from a faraway land by that very wind.

Maybe not everybody has a mission...or maybe for some of us the mission IS wandering, following the wind...Like another talented creator of mythical worlds wrote, "not all those who wander are lost".

Available at, $80.00-$220.00.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Van Cleef and Arpels Feerie

By Beth

I absolutely crave violet perfumes in the spring. Sweet and green, a good one can easily fill my little world with hope. I’ve been in love with them ever since I was a little girl and I used to sneak into my mothers velvet jewelry box to sniff the precious little bottle of Attar of Violet that was my grandmothers. I used to pick them out of my mothers garden and sprinkle them on salads or if we want to be a bit Shakespearean about it “Salats”!

To me there is nothing more delicious to eat and smell than a dew kissed violet and I used to try to make perfume out of them when I was very young by sneaking out to pick them when they were still wet with rain and crushing them all over my naked little body. I still can’t walk through the garden without eating them like the finest candy and as an herbalist I learned early on that there was value to this practice as the leaves are wealthy storehouses of vitamin a and c and quite good for creating firm , healthy and fibroid free breasts!

One of the finest treats that I know of are the delicious candied violets that my sister brings me from Fauchon when she’s in Paris. No more magical little sweetmeats exist than these….beautiful purple flowers dipped in egg white and crystalline sugar, they make me think of Titania, Queen of the fairies and I love to sprinkle a few of them onto the top of a silken crème brulee . Parfait d’ Amour is a French violet flavored liqueur that’s absolutely wonderful when you drizzle it over the same crème brulee or mix it into a gin fizz....sheer and sublime!

I still think that one of the best experiences that one can have in life is the joy stumbling across a patch of those bright purple and white blossoms when and where you least expect them, like I did last week when I was out on the trail with my horse Henry. There they were mixed in among the wild spring ramps (another seasonal delicacy!), fragrant and glimmering in the late afternoon sun. Here today, gone tomorrow, their season is short so if you blink you’ll miss them. Consequently I’ve always tried to plant some wherever I’ve called home so I can always have them in my life!
2011 has brought a very late spring to us here in the northeast ; it rained for almost all of April and May is occurring as no exception. As you can imagine one of the great joys in my life right now is the little garden that came with the house that we bought last year. Because we moved in during the month of June last year spring came and went and I never really got to see what was nestled under all of those weeds!

I’ve gone around for weeks now wondering when the blooms would arrive. Then suddenly last week I looked outside my kitchen window and gasped because overnight the back perennial bed had transformed itself into a blowsy vibrant and purple sea. I ran outside to take a look and sure enough the flower fairies had arrived and were dancing all around my yard having themselves a mighty fine time feasting upon purple and white violets, apple blossoms and sipping what I’m sure was a very fine nectar out of cups made of English Bluebells!

I practically lay face down on my stomach with my face buried in those sweet purple blossoms. If you’ve never done this before please try. The fragrance of a patch of sweet sunwarmed violets is absolutely and overwhelming luscious and is imbued with an energy that’s practically mystical. It’s a tough fragrance to capture in perfumery, that effervescent blend of flora and fauna that captures the emotions of a unicorn touched spring day. I’ve tried lots of them and sadly they are mostly found wanting. I was never sure what was missing until I met Feerie”, by Van Cleef and Arpels last month in Las Vegas.

Feerie is a sparkling tribute to a beautiful jewelry collection called MIdsummers Night Dream and it’s a truly beautiful fragrance dressed in one of the loveliest bottles that I’ve ever seen….cobalt blue with a silver stopper that is sculpted as a fairy who has alighted gracefully on a branch. Feerie smells like everything that I ever wanted in a violet perfume….There’s sugar drenched violet and lots of it, but there’s a twinkle of jasmine and a sprinkle of black currant and mandarin. Feerie begins like a dance along the stepping stones of a favorite childhood memory but quickly turns into a bedtime story as it settles down into its buttery base of Iris and vetiver.

Feerie is very very sexy…… trust me, you’ll never mistake her for a shrinking violet. She’s a magical and mysterious “take no prisoners “sort of violet , bewitching and intoxicating and utterly surprising.

You can meet this enchanting little fairy exclusively at Bergdorf’s and Neiman Marcus . Be careful though because she’ll steal your heart and bring you all kinds of exotic and wanton springtime fantasies. You know what they say about the Fairies and you’re about to meet the Queen! She’ll take anything and anyone that she wants so be sure to hold on tight.....Feerie is definitely worth the wild ride!

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Dearest Readers, Watch Me Eat My Words!

By Marla

Some of you read, or joined in with, March’s recent review on Perfume Posse of MDCI’s La Belle Helene, the one with PEAR. I sure did. I hate pears! I hate their weird, grainy texture, I loathe their mottled and bruised skins, and mostly, I can’t stand the way they taste! So I had to express myself to March via poetry:

March: You do not like the scent of pear?/ You do not like it anywhere?/You do not like it in your nose?/On your fingers or your toes?

Me: I do not like the scent of pear./ I do not like it anywhere./ I do not like it with a goat./I do not like it on a stoat./ I do not like it on a train./ I do not like it in the rain./ I do not care for scent of pear./ I will not wear it anywhere!

I think my feelings came across clearly in that exchange.

Soon after arriving at my new tropical home, I get a little welcome package with L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Mon Numero 1 (rumored to be Singapore’s). That’s right. The one with PEAR. Did I dare to wear the pear? I did, and, like Sam I Am’s stubborn friend, I loved it! Mon Numero 1 is primarily fresh, green pear, mimosa, and white musk. It’s a light-infused, pale green, and goes well with the dawn here on the Atlantic Ocean. Mimosa absolute can range from almost doughy-powdery to honey-sweet, even, sadly, to cloying cat pee. In Numero Uno, it’s a celadon version, just barely sweet, very delicate, lightly powdery. For both the pear and mimosa, the super-sweet, amber tones have been cut out, leaving only the most delicate shadings for the wearer’s appreciation. The white musk rounds out the pairing, and that’s really about it. The simplicity works. Longevity is several hours, and then I want to start all over again. So Bertrand Duchaufour has pulled another rabbit out of another hat, and I officially eat my words. Green eggs and ham for me! The Mon Numero series will be debuting online and in several cities in June, 2011.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Local Favorites

By Tom

There are many local places I've covered on Foodie Sundays: Pinkberry, the Village Cafe, and Paulette come to mind. Los Angeles is of course home to eateries raging from Spago to In 'n Out. Today is about the rise, fall and rise of Koo Koo Roo.

Koo Koo Roo first opened on Beverly Blvd in West Hollywood (about a block or so from where ScentBar is today) in a small strip mall in 1988. It was to be the healthy alternative to places like KFC, featuring a marinated skinless chicken that clocked in at less than 200 calories, served with equally healthy sides that were just as low calorie. The radical thing was that it was all really tasty: you could have a filling, delicious dinner that was not going to end up clogging your arteries or expanding your waistline.

In the early 90's the place was bought out by an investor, who expanded the comcept from its original idea of take-out with a few tables to more of a real restaurant: while you still ordered at the counter and got your own drinks, the food was brought to your table on real plates with real flatware. The original place on Beverly closed in favor of a far larger one on Santa Monica which had its own parking lot and was cleverly next to two of the most popular gyms in Boys Town.

More locations followed: Larchmont Village, Santa Monica, two in Beverly Hills topping out at 15 before financial hiccups forced some closures and a slight revamp of the menu. Over the years they added coffee bars, hand-carved turkey, salmon dinner, salads various rice bowls to the mix. Some of these were not as healthy as one would think: for instance some of the dishes could top 1000 calories with the simple addition of the sauce.

The company went through a few restructurings and a few owners, adding and deleting menu items. They were no longer the darling of the film-people and outlets started closing. The last time I went to the one on South Beverly I was served a bird so small I honestly wondered at the lack of pigeons I was seeing in the area.

Long about 2007 the company decided to radically cut back. All but three stores closed: West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Larchmont. The net effect seems to have strengthened the chain- I went to the Boys Town branch this weekend and while I can't say the portions were lucullan, they were very satisfying, and healthy to boot.

What are your favorite local institutions?

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Saturday, May 14, 2011

Spectacular Success? Prends Moi Tested

If you have missed last Saturday’s post, you missed getting introduced to the world’s first slimming fragrance – Prends Moi (Take me!) by Veld’s.

I selflessly and under severe personal hardship, tested this scent over the past week.

Why the hardship you ask? Well, it is not easy to be restricted to just one perfume if you are a card-carrying Perfumista, but being restricted to one aquatic floral that broadcasts grinning and mindless happiness to the world at considerable volume, is especially hard for this misanthropic grinch here.

So knowing I would be ready to severely harm somebody before the week was out, I agreed with myself to modify the test situation a bit. I would wear Prends Moi during the day, when its advertised appetite-suppressing abilities were most needed anyway, and come evening I was free to wear whatever I pleased. Wisely I got my heaviest ambers out of my closet in advance to be able to counteract the relentless good cheer of Prends Moi the minute the sun went down (or my children went down, whatever happened first).

So I struggled my way through my days, teeth set on edge whenever I caught a whiff of myself. I can say one thing about Prends Moi, it really lasts. As every perfume we do not particularly love, this one proved to be the master of tenacity. (An aside: Does that mean that anyone hating Chanel 28 La Pausa for instance, is able to make it last for 24 hours?)

But what about its slimming abilities?

I did eat less. I swear, I really did. I lost 1.5 kilograms this week. But to tell you the truth, I think it was because Prends Moi distracted me so much, I forgot about eating, my appetite went down as my blood pressure went up. I did not eat, but I certainly did not feel healthier because of it.

I’ll happily stay as I am, if I am allowed to not take Take me! any more. The feeling of well-being and contentment Prends Moi is said to induce, only arrived for me when I showered it off and delighted and indulged in the options of my perfume closet at night.

Long live the heavy amber!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

Strenesse Gabriele Strehle

By Marina

Almond seems to me to be one of the popular and sought after notes in the perfume universe, especially in the niche galaxy. I know that I am always on the lookout for something almondy. There are almond scents out there, but not so many that a fan can afford to miss one. Even (or perhaps especially) one as obscure as the 2001 Maurice Roucel creation for a German clothing brand, Strenesse.

On a scale of almondiness, Strenesse is perhaps a 5. The note teases you, seemingly weaving in and out of the composition. Here is a hint of it in the delicate peachiness of the top notes, made airy by the presence of citrus. Here is another hint in the heart of heliotrope, jasmine and lily of the valley, dominated by the latter. And you will smell a whiff of it in the orrisy, vanillic base too. The base, to me is the best part of Strenesse, there is something subtly delectable in the pairing of iris and almond. And I actually like the fact that almond play hide and seek here; as much as I love the note, when it is constantly present, it becomes grating.

The overall impression I get from the scent is that of whiteness, of childlike gentleness, of transparent fluffiness...It's not a masterpiece by any stretch of imagination. Slight soapiness, a side effect of muguet and in fact almond itself, spoils it a little bit for me. That said, I find the quiet, soft, translucent Strenesse to be utterly enjoyable, a perfect scent for a night or for a weekend.

Discontinued, but can be fairly easily found online, for example on Amazon and Overstock, for $25.00-$30.00.

Image source, Americana Manhasset

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Pencil Shavings: Le Labo Santal 33

By Tom

First off, a reminder that Le Labo is supporting Japanese disaster relief by releasing its Tokyo exclusive Gaiac 10 in all of Le Labo stores and online, with all profits going to the Japanese Red Cross.

There is also a new release in Le Labo land: Santal 33.

I admit I do have some issues with Le Labo. The whole mixed-fresh bit is sort of lost on me and the expiration dates I think are just silly. Then there's the maddening idea of the city exclusives, which means that their lovely Aldehyde 44 is in Dallas, where I am almost guaranteed never to set foot. Luckily, the one of that series I like best is the Los Angeles one.

Santal 33 starts out with another hallmark of Le Labo, in that it initially doesn't smell anything of its eponymous ingredient. Instead, I get leather. The Le Labo website has a lot of blather about cowboys and horses and prairie fires and whatnot, but I get more ladies handbag. In a good way mind you, if it's a saddle it's one from Hermes. There's smoke, but it's a Marlboro red, and I swear to god a bit of mint. The drydown is where the titled woods make their appearance and they're very nice. A bit like a pencil, but the nicest pencil you can imagine. Maybe a Hermes pencil to go in your Hermes agenda.

I guess that I'm saying is that it's a lot smoother and elegant than the rough-and-tumble description would lead you to believe. If you really want the hot cowboy and his campfire then I would go for Lonestar Memories. If you want a hot guy named Pierre in designer chaps, then go for this one. There's room in my life for both..

$50 for 1/2 ounces, $145 for 1.7 ounces and $220 for 3.4 ounces at Le Labo boutiques and at Barneys. My sample was from Barneys.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Eau de Gucci

By Marina

Green, elegant and a little bit ill-natured, Eau de Gucci is representative of that period in fragrance, in the 1970s and early 1980s, which produced such standoffish, verdurous scents like Amazone, Eau de Givenchy, Silences and Murasaki. At least that is how this floral-green family of scents always seems to be like to me, exceptionally well put together, well-bred, bitchy and never out-dated.

When a fragrance projects evil elegance, I always suspect hyacinth is at play. Three out of four scents mentioned above have it. In Eau de Gucci, the venomous butteriness of the flower meets you right in the top notes, aided by dry, chilly citruses. The fairly warm, even creamy heart of orris, ylang and tuberose, to which jasmine and rose add their sweetness, tries to convince the wearer that this uppity vixen HAS a heart, but doesn't quite succeed, the verdant toxin still comes through all that velvety floralcy and through the lush ambery-mossy base...Eau de Gucci is, to quote Madonna,  “tough, ambitious, and knows exactly what it wants. " I love it. (Thank you, Carol, for reminding me of just how much)

Obviously, it has been discontinued. Look for it on ebay, where not only the regular EDT but Eau de Gucci "Concentrated" (more luscious and more evil) can be found for somewhat OK prices.

Image source, Numero.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hiding in Plain Sight: Acqua di Parma Profumo

By Donna

Does anyone else think of light floral scents and not much else from Acqua di Parma? Violet of course, as well as magnolia and iris soliflores, and the Colonia unisex eau de cologne, but not what some people would call “serious perfume.” For some reason I never knew that there was a chypre in the line, but when a friend sent me a sample of their Profumo I did a double take. This gorgeous thing was from a house known for its sweet little violets and light cologne? Tell me more!

Acqua di Parma Profumo has the easy, understated grace so often found in better Italian fragrances. It's one of those rare scents that seems to be perfect for just about any occasion you can think of, the one you reach for when nothing else seems right, yet it has a very distinctive character of its own too; it's no “wallpaper” fragrance. My first encounter with Profumo was the current version; the scent was originally launched in 1930, relaunched in 2000, but was reformulated in 2008 presumably due to the new IFRA restrictions on natural materials. This means no actual oakmoss, but it's a delight anyway. Silky smooth soft woody modern chypre character, and immediately likeable even for someone like me who is suspicious of fragrances with the chypre label that don't have the classic base. At first it reminded me of Balmain's Ambre Gris and other similar types with a clean musk base, but it never went “laundry” or sharp on my skin like so many of these will do. In fact it actually has a rather creamy character once it warms up and the citrus opening of bergamot and a particularly delightful orange subsides. The floral heart of jasmine, rose, ylang ylang and a very generous dose of iris is just gorgeous. Warm and ambery base notes create an enveloping embrace for this elegant composition, and it's one of the rare recent reformulations that I can recommend wholeheartedly.

I can say this because I have also tried the previous version; after sampling the 2008 release, I became curious about the older one and I bought a mini of it online. When I tried it out I knew immediately that it was indeed the pre-reformulation one, because it had the real oakmoss and patchouli notes right from the start. What is does share with the new one is a soft and gentle quality that's uncommon in chypres, and its restrained and elegant character is truly outstanding. To me it smells rather like a misty, romantic Miss Dior as if experienced through a gauzy filter. Now I love Miss Dior as much as anyone, but she is a powerful presence, so if you love her too and you are unhappy with what an unfortunate reformulation has done to that great icon, it's worth it to seek out the older formula of Profumo as a possible alternative, especially when you know how much the vintage Miss Dior is commanding at auction sites.

The bottles of both iterations look very much the same if not identical, but the boxes are different. The old one is a deep brick red and the new one is a creamy off-white. If you are buying online, be sure to verify which one you are getting if there is a stock photo, or if only the bottle is shown. This one will set you back a significant amount (about $200 USD for 50 ml) per bottle so be sure you are getting the one you want, or try a mini first. The bottles are striking works of modern art themselves, and all the better for what's inside. You can also read Marina’s take on this one from several years ago. Apparently I should have paid more attention back then too!

Image credit: Acqua di Parma Profumo bottle from

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Monday, May 09, 2011


Re-drawn winner for the GreenWitch solid perfume sample is Fernando.

En Voyage samples: Nectar des Iles - dleep, Vents Ardents - woodgirl.

Spring Fragrance Favorites - Jiyin

Please send us your details using contact me link on the right.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Happy Mothers Day , Penhaligons "Bluebell" and a chance to give a gift today!

By Beth

l loved Mother’s Day as a child….It always meant that I got to get up early to make my mother breakfast in bed, which was her absolutely most favorite thing in the world to enjoy and something that she never did because she worked obsessively full time in the family business. My mother was raised in the town of Champaign Urbana, Illinois and came from a European family that had been extremely wealthy for centuries, that is until they lost all of their money in The Great Depression and she never got over the feeling that the next shoe was about to drop. Unfortunately as comfortable as my parents were she was never able to indulge herself easily a fact which made spoiling her even more fun!

Luckily for us though whenever we were sick out would come her white wicker bed tray and the lovely Limoge bed tray set, complete with a teapot of its own and a covered plate. She made us the loveliest foods, tea, soup and little sandwiches with the crusts cut off and we’d lay in bed feeling like princesses and hoping for at least two more days of the flu so that the “treatment” could continue!
So every year starting from a very early age, Mothers Day would find me up and prowling about, first to find the bed tray and the precious porcelain set and then into the kitchen where I’d make her favorite meal of buttered toast points with the crusts removed, fresh asparagus spears and scrambled eggs with tons of hot dogs stirred into them , diced onions and lots of American cheese. First I’d bring her the Sunday paper with instructions to “NOT EVEN DARE GO OUT OF THE ROOM, MOTHER” and then I’d make her a pot of jasmine tea, which was another pleasure that she totally loved yet didn’t allow herself often.

I loved making that meal all by myself in her kitchen and I always made enough so that I could have some too! The asparagus and toast points were easy enough but the most fun were the eggs! It was a wonderful dish….first you browned the onions and hot dogs (always Kosher!) and if that didn’t smell wonderful enough then you added a bit of minced fresh garlic. Then I would add the eggs that were gently beaten with tons of fresh chives from her garden and let the whole mess cook for a bit. Then I would add the cheese…huge glorious gobs of it …so much that the whole thing became a huge melting mess! Fortunately for me I taught my husband and son to make this very early on!

I’d assemble the bed tray complete with her Grandmothers linen and then the last part was a quick run into the garden where holding my breath I’d search for her favorite bluebells. I never checked the day before to see if they had bloomed, that was all part of the fun. There was one little fragrant patch of them, darling little dancing pink and blue flowers that had been given to her by her dear friend Louise, who sadly departed this Earth long before she ever should have. For some reason they always bloomed on Mother’s day regardless of the weather!

I’d find them and pick a few stems and go dancing into the house where I’d put them into a little Waterford bud vase. Then I’d have my father pick up the tray and we’d carry it in to their bedroom where she’d always gasp with delight and surprise! She’d eat the whole thing happily , while all the while nestled in her bed with it’s huge white embroidered duvet and fluffy down pillows. If it was terrible she never told me because I guess that’s what mother’s do! She’d finish, take a long leisurely bath (in all of the years that I knew her I do not think that she ever took a shower) and then off we’d go to the Cleveland Museum of Art or the Botanical Gardens and have a wonderful day. When my son was born the tradition changed a little bit and my family would make the same breakfast for me and then I’d quickly rush over to cook it for her! Eventually, we settled on dinner together and a lovely trip to the garden center where I’d buy her lots of flowers for her gardens and share just a lovely day enjoying her company.

Sadly, as most of you know a terrible stroke took her from us several years ago. I miss her terribly but we shared a fabulous life together and every year since on Mothers Day I wear Penhaligon’s beautiful “BlueBell” perfume which is just so very pretty and green and reminds me of being a young girl, scampering around in her yard! Today I am going to the nursery to find my own little patch of bluebells to plant in a wooded corner of my new garden . Please, wherever today finds you, hug your mother and keep her close. If yours is gone like mine, find some way to honor her and like she did, enjoy your children and grandchildren madly!

When she died we scattered her ashes along the bend of the beautiful River Road, in the shade of a willow tree that sings continuously in the wind with her favorite silver bell and her Barack Obama button. That’s where I got to visit her…at Solstice we bring her eggnog and in a few hours I’ll bring her fresh asparagus from my new garden which she will love!

So how will you spend your Mother’s Day? My mother’s most passionate cause was Planned Parenthood, because she felt that every family deserved the right to safe and affordable health care. Towards the end of her life when she was living on a fixed income, Planned Parenthood was the one organization that she refused to stop donating to. In her honor and yours, please leave me a comment letting me know what you’re doing today and for every one I’ll donate a dollar ! This opportunity will end next Friday. [Marina chiming in here: Planned Parenthood is an organization I also wholeheartedly support. I will donate a dollar too,  for every comment, so please join us today!]

Happy Mother’s Day to you all and wherever today finds you I hope that it’s filled with joy, fabulous perfume, loads of sunshine and lots of feasting! I love you all......

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Veld’s Prends Moi Slimming Fragrance

I found something curious this week at my local perfumery.

Prends Moi (Take me!) is an Eau de Minceur, a slimming scent. Yes, you read that correctly, this fragrance says it helps you to slim down and reduce weight.

Here is what the company says about Prends Moi:

“Spring 2011, Veld’s once again turns beauty codes upside-down and launches the very first Parfum de Minceur. A new fragrance-gesture, combining the pleasure of a real fragrance with the desire for a beautiful silhouette, the dream of every woman when spring arrives…”

The brand Veld’s, known for their innovative (or gimmicky, if you are less gracious) skincare products, launched this scent in Europe recently.

Prends Moi is based on aromatherapeutic and “neurocosmetic” research. It claims to work by inducing a sense of well-being and contentment that apparently leads to a reduced need for bodily sustenance.

In addition to smelling slim, it contains caffeine, carnitin, spirulina algae and a substance called betaphroline, all of which are meant to be massaged into the skin and help reduce fat tissue. Betaphroline works, so the company’s claim, by “triggering the release of Beta-Endorphins at the skin’s Keratocyte level, allowing transmission of the slimming message from one neuron to the next”. (I can see a Noble Prize for these people in the near future!)

Okay, so let’s see: it works by inducing well-being and contentment, okay I am with them so far. Perfume can induce such a state of mind, we all know that, it is how many of us use perfume, to feel good, as well as smell good.

Further, the feeling of well-being and contentment can reduce appetite, as in when you are happy, you tend to eat less. But I fear I need a lot more happiness that this little bottle can possibly hold, to stop me from craving chocolate or pasta.

Like falling in love, landing a coveted new job, delivering a baby, these kinds of life events have the ability to stop me eating whatever strikes my fancy. Anything less – not a chance. A perfume that has such power? *watch my eyebrows shooting up*

But skepticism aside, how does it smell? It is purported to be a “real fragrance” after all.

The scent includes notes of bergamot, mandarin, grapefruit, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lilac, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla and white musks.

Sounds pretty straightforward, smells pretty much as expected.

It is a lovely, non-threatening spring-y scent that forces me to use the dreaded descriptors “light” and “fresh”. It is upbeat and happy to the core. I am tempted to add “irritating”, but let’s not judge too early here. After an effervescent top of aquatic and citrus notes that keep up their thing for a long time, a softly floral heart centered on ylang-ylang segues into a lightly sweet vanilla-sandalwood drydown that almost avoids clean musks, but smells oddly fruity. There is certainly more fruit to this scent than the notes want to make us believe…

I am up for a lot when it comes to perfume, and I feel adventurous, so therefore I will selflessly start an experiment. I happen to have a week’s supply of this miracle of science on hand. That means one week of spraying and rubbing Prends Moi regularly all over my body as recommended on the packaging, and a close monitoring of my eating behavior.

I will report my findings next week.

Prends Moi is available for 56€ for 100ml through their website, I saw it in store for 67€.

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Friday, May 06, 2011

Gershwin by Maria Candida Gentile

By Marina

Maria Candida Gentile
is an Italian perfumer with an interesting, so far pleasantly small line-up of fragrances. A stand out for me is Gershwin, a light, melancholy blend of incense and citrus. It might be that the atmosphere of the scent fits my mood, it might be that I am projecting my mood on the scent, but it works wonderfully for me right now.

Somewhat similar in concept to Mandy Aftel's Candide, Gershwin is drier and more transparent. The cool, wistful incense note is airy and diaphanous thanks to the presence of  a non-sweet, non-sparkly, oddly somber citrus accord. Candide could have been a smile through tears, Gershwin is not smiling at all. There is an air of beautiful dejectedness about it that I find fascinating. People more familiar with the work of the composer might be able to find an analogy among his compositions. (I just know, for example, that Rhapsody in Blue is too upbeat to be compared to this fragrance.) To me, this perfume is not Gershwin but Gluck, or more precisely J'ai Perdu Mon Eurydice, from Orphee Et Eurydice.

Available at, €125,00 for 100ml. I am hoping to see the line in States one day soon.

Image, Orpheus by Francois Louis Francais, is from

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Thursday, May 05, 2011

Breathless: Lush Breath of God

By Tom

I'm blaming March at the Posse for forcing me to brave the, er, lush smell of my local Lush store to try this. She wrote that it moved her to tears, and not in a chopping onions sort of way.

I've never been to Bangkok so I can't comment about the authenticity of it all, but I can write that I really liked it. The opening is lush (if you'll pardon the expression) incense with leather and a touch of funk that March daintily refers to as "humanity"; a sort of smoky leathery spiciness that I swear had a touch of curry and cumin. Later a hint of mint pops in, as if God decided that a piece of Doublemint would hit the spot.

At this stage it becomes almost exactly what I wanted Etat Libre Tom of Finland scent to be, though I am sure that was not anywhere in the brief for the scent. Even the melony powder note that comes in at the end worked for me: it had a total sense memory of the talc barbers would use after you got a haircut. If the smoke were a little more Marlboro Red than Mahathat Temple it would read totally Breath of Brad. As it is I'm not sure that it's Breath of God as it is, but it's really pleasant breath, and if Bandit or Tom of Finland or about 3 others I could think of are out of your reach geographically or price-wise then this would be a fine substitute.

30ML for $39.95, which these days is like stealing. At Lush stores, where I sampled.

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Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Modern Rite of Spring: DSH Perfumes Vert pour Madame

By Donna

I have extolled the many virtues of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's fragrant creations in these page before, and now another stunner has come along to entice me. I was especially eager to try this, since I really love both green floral and chypre perfumes, and I am nothing less than enthralled by her newest release, Vert pour Madame, which was inspired by the classic green floral chypres of the past. These are actually anything but “vintage” since they smell so timeless and modern. It takes cues from fragrances like Chanel No. 19, Jil Sander 79 and the long lost beauty Deneuve. Does anyone remember that one? I do, and I still regret not buying a case of the stuff when it was still around, but that was before I knew that the chypre genre was an endangered species. (DSH actually did a re-creation of Deneuve at one time, but alas, some of the materials for it are no longer available.) Who knew that the onslaught of big eighties perfumes (some of which I love) would obliterate or at least overshadow so many great “greens,” send them into retail oblivion and usher in the backlash of “Nineties Non-Scents” where smelling like nothing in particular seemed to be the goal of many mainstream perfume buyers. Fortunately, times have changed again, and talented independent perfumers are bringing us what the mass market cannot deliver. Ms. Hurwitz has taken the best from the greats and added her own stamp with spectacular results.

The moment Vert Pour Madame hit my nose I knew it was destined for a place among the icons from which it gets its distinctive character. Galbanum is very prominent but not in the razor-sharp way it sometimes makes its entrance. I was reminded of Carven's Ma Griffe, but through a soft focus filter, as if it had melded with vintage Madame Rochas or some other floaty aldehydic floral, and indeed this composition has a generous breath of aldehydes that lifts and lightens it even more. As the galbanum's initial effect subsides, the chypre underpinnings, including civet, become apparent, but as a chypre it is more lighthearted than many of this style, a lilting spring melody shimmering with fascination as the notes dance the rites of spring. As lovely as the opening is, it gets even better when everything else chimes in, including white peach, hyacinth, orris, jonquil, muguet, Moroccan rose and jasmine sambac. This stage lasts a long time, and the combination of gorgeous florals and peach could not be more alluring. The old-school chypre base is softened and slightly sweetened with Tonka bean and one of the best musk notes I have ever smelled, and the silken drydown goes on and on, subtle yet insistent. (From the DSH Web site: “Vert pour Madame opens like a wind of Persephone and dries down to the elegance of Demeter.” Well said!)

If I were to smell this blind alongside its various inspirations, I would truly not be able to tell that it's a “modern” formula; it is utterly out of time, and to me it's the kind of perfume that should be immune to trends, so universally appealing is its evanescent grace. I simply can't imagine anyone not liking it. Some perfumes are an acquired taste, or they go through some weird phase before the wearable part finally shows up. This is simply beautiful right from the start and gets even better with time. So if you are longing for the good old days of green florals and chypres, wondering if that Yendi you saw on EBay is still any good, or you don't want to choose between your car payment and a bottle of Deneuve if you can find it, help is finally here, just in time for spring. Vert pour Madame is available on the DSH web site as Parfum extrait and Eau de Parfum, and samples are available. (The available antique presentation bottle with its delicate waist and ornate gold cap is a perfect match for the fragrance.)

Image credit: Artist Nikolai Roerich's initial sketch for the set of the first act of Igor Stravinsky's ballet ‘Le Sacre du Printemps' from

Full disclosure: My sample was given to me for testing by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial - Perfume Review

By Marina

So, the regular Shalimar must have been judged too difficult to wear and understand for a younger crowd, and Guerlain had to come up with a flanker more suited for the tastes of Generation Z or whatever letter we are on now. At least that is what one gleans from the legend: Thierry Wasser was asked by his 17-year-old niece to make her own Shalimar...Aww.

Thing is Parfum Initial smells no more approachable, easy-to-wear or dare I use the word, younger than the original. It simply smells less interesting. Not just the "intimidating" leather note (source) is gone, but also the luminous citrus top, which is what makes the real Shalimar shimmer like a precious multi-facted jewel that it is. And that is peculiar, because citruses are one of the most popular, non-threatening and "young" notes in perfume.

What there is in abundance is orris, with a good old dollop of vanilla and tonka. I suppose Shalimar might be considered "heavy", but to me Parfum Intial, without the lift of the citrus, without the intrigue and intricasies of a complex development, is heavier still. It is blunt, it is a one-accord, if not a one-note composition. That one accord (of aforementioned orris-vanilla-tonka) makes the composition sort of recognizable as a Guerlain, but not all that recognizable specifically as related to Shalimar. I suppose Parfum Initial could be its niece, but she won't be 17 and she certainly won't be a beauty like Vodianova who fronts the campaign.

The flanker lacks finess and detail, and it were these qualities which made Shalimar a masterpiece. To continue the analogy with a jewel, Shalimar is a big and baroque Koh-i-noor type of thing, for sure, but it is carved inticately, carefully, with the finest of instruments, as fitting for such a precious stone. Parfum Intial is the replica (a swear word for LVMH) hammered out of thick glass. Same applies to the bottle.

Guerlain boutique at Bergdorf Goodman told me that Shalimar Parfum Initial will be available in the States no earlier than in fall. I am not motivated enough to investigate further and confirm if that is so and why such delay. The fragrance is available at right now, 47,00€-92,10€.

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