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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where the Women Glow… Bud Parfums of Australia, Part One

By Donna

The art and science of perfumery is certainly a universal pursuit, and even in the Land Down Under there are quality fragrances being made. Australia is not the first place most people think of when it comes to perfume; then again, it was not so very long ago that the idea of Australian wine would have been a joke, but nobody’s laughing now. It was only recently that I became aware of the existence of Bud Parfums, a company that emphasizes natural materials as much as possible and has a broad palette of scents for every taste. After testing a variety of their products in a range of styles, I came away thinking that the rest of the world had better look to their laurels, because this outfit just might pull off a coup like the Aussie wineries did and get a lot of well-deserved attention. (You have to appreciate the cheekiness of naming one of their leathery men’s fragrances “Whoa de Cologne!”) The company likes to keep its customers guessing as to the list of notes in most of their perfumes, but that should not stop anyone from trying the line.

The most recent introduction from Bud Parfums is called Rouge Pomegranate, and if you are looking for a zesty, fruity fragrance that stands up to summer heat, this could be the one. Like a fresh pomegranate, it has very little sweetness, being tart and puckery in a most bracing way, acidic but not metallic or too sharp, at least not for me, as I like this sort of thing. This is the kind of fragrance that one might be a little wary of since pomegranate is one of those trendy flavors and fragrances that has been showing up just about everywhere, but rest assured that this one is much better than the ubiquitous body wash types so common now. It could almost be a “red” version of one of my personal favorites, Hermès Un Jardin Sur le Nil with its tart green mango signature, replaced by vibrant pomegranate and underscored with dry woody notes. I enjoyed this one very much; the first time I tried it, the weather was cool and rainy, so I put it away until hot weather arrived, and it performed like a champion, lasting very well and giving an energizing burst of juicy freshness to my day. It is categorized as a feminine, but a confident man could certainly carry it off. If you like the idea of fruity scents, but fear that they will be too sweet, this will hit the spot.

A more emphatically feminine scent is Sophia, an ambery Oriental with a rich, plush elegance. I knew it smelled familiar somehow, but I could not quite figure it out until my sister happened to be with me when I was testing it and she asked me “Are you wearing Emeraude?” Then the light bulb went on - it smells quite a bit like Emeraude used to smell, back before it was ruined by the relentless cheapening of its famous formula. Sophia does not have the minty weirdness of the old Coty classic, but it does have that almost “root beer” quality that was a great part of its charm. My sister wore it a lot when she was a teenager, so she remembered what it was like, and I gave her some of the vintage juice for her birthday this year. There is a goodly dose of opopanax in Sophia, of which I am a fan, and if one were to mistake it for a real vintage perfume, it would be an easy error to make. I can recommend it for fall and winter wear, where it will shine as an evening or special occasion scent. For women who are looking for an old-school Oriental in this vein that is not loud or vulgar like far too many current mainstream offerings, Sophia is an excellent alternative.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the demure Fleur de Lilac, a violet-tinged and almost wistful-smelling scent that has a definite vintage feel to it, a perfume of days gone by, worn by ladies who fan themselves at garden parties and favor wispy silken gowns and brocaded slippers on their delicate feet. The first time I tested it, it did not work on me at all, but that is a common occurrence with lilac in perfumery; it is always on a knife edge of balance, just waiting to fall apart if the proportions are not just so. When I tried it again, I was surprised that it smelled really good, and stayed that way over time. It began the same way as it did the first time, with a rather jangly and astringent opening that was a bit like lemon juice before softening into the florals, but this time it retained its form and became a slightly powdery (from heliotrope) lilac enriched with jasmine and ylang ylang that retained a soapy freshness throughout. Now to some people, that might be bad news, but I happen to like “soapy” notes in perfume if they are well done, and this smells like very expensive lilac guest soap, which is just fine by me. Lilac is hard to get right, especially when a high percentage of natural materials are involved in creating the accord. A sample test drive is highly recommended for this one since lilac is so notoriously fickle, but if it works for your own skin chemistry it will be one of the prettiest perfumes in your collection.

My own favorite of the Bud Parfums feminine perfumes I sampled is Ooh La La, an aptly named floral that is oh-so-French with a modern twist, accented with a fresh lemony top note that lifts and offsets the deeper notes of this seductive scent to perfection. I would also call this a “throwback” to the classics, because as a lover of the great perfumes of the past I was drawn to this one like a moth to a flame. It is a rich composition that compares favorable with such sexy scents as Lanvin’s My Sin or Corday Fame, two of my own all time favorites. Rich and heady frangipani is the main focal point, and I also detect jasmine, but there is something distinctly animalic in character that gives it a depth that is seldom seen in today’s floral blend perfumes, and I would swear that it’s civet. The overall effect recalls the type of grown-up fragrances for women made with those now-banned nitro musks that we vintage lovers still miss even though we know they aren’t good for us, and here we have one that gives us all the pleasure with none of the guilt. This is one of those perfumes that ought to come with a sign that says “Warning: Dangerous Curves Ahead” and it should be used with caution on the unsuspecting males of the species, who won’t know what hit them!

Next time I will give my impressions of some of Bud Parfums’ fragrances for men, and there will be a prize draw for a very unusual perfume, so please check back!

Disclosure: The perfume samples were sent to me for testing by Bud Parfums at my request.

Image credit: A famous painting of the goddess Flora by Titian, in the public domain.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Coffee Break

By Tom

I'm not a big coffee drinker anymore. I used to have it a lot more often when I lived back east; maybe I needed the fuel. I'm more of an iced tea kind of guy these days.

But this week a new place opened really close to me. Thomas Keller's Bouchon opened a bakery on the ground floor of the building that houses their restaurant and bar (which if you're in the area has a great happy hour). Since pastry was involved I was there for the opening ceremonies. I had a croissant, a lemon macaron and a latte. The macaron was good, but Paulette (to paraphrase Marina) isn't in the corner smoking nervously. The latte was wonderful: rich and hot but without that take-the-enamel-off-your-teeth harshness that some of the chains do.

The real revelation was the croissant. These days we get croissants that would make a Frenchman weep: limp, gummy thyroidal horrors that have about as much taste as the paper bag they came in. These were crisp on the outside with crunchy edges just begging to be dipped in the foam of that latte. Inside was fluffy, buttery and delicious. I could have eaten two more. I've been back three times to try. Each time the line was out the door; I was thwarted. I'm glad they're getting the business, but really..

This Sunday I actually managed to score a couple of the bakeries speciality: Kouign Amann, a sort of cross between a croissant and a bread. It's basically a risen bread dough that's treated like puff pastry: rolled out butter is placed on the twice-risen and rolled-out dough, the butter is sealed in and the dough is rolled out, folded in three, dusted with sugar, rolled out again, lather, rinse, repeat. Martha Stewart has a recipe for it, which, like many of her recipes (sorry Martha) make it seem very simple when I was told by the chef that it's devilishly complex, hence the fact that they don't have it all the time. I went four times and they were kind enough to put two aside and call me when they were done- a good four after my first visit (Yes, I am persistent. Polite, but persistent). As a matter of fact, the Bouchon in Beverly is the only one who's even trying. I hope they won't prove too difficult to be viable as an everyday product. Because they are incredible..

They aren't really croissant because the dough is slightly heavier, but they layer like puff pastry. They are full of butter but aren't so heavy that you feel, well, gross after eating one. The sugar between the layers make it delightfully crunchy on top and give a paper-thin layer of crème brûlée-like crispy caramel at the bottom. It ain't diet food and I don't want to have it every day, but it's nice to know that it's there. I'll call ahead next time and reserve. If you're visiting, you should too. If you have this in your area you are lucky indeed. Apparently there is a place in Montreal that does them a treat.

What's your favorite coffee break? Please share in the comments.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Scent Of Freedom – Review: Lostmarc’h Aod

Lostmarc’h Aod is the third perfume by Breton niche line Lostmarc’h that captures my heart. The gourmand Lann-Ael and the unique floral Ael-Mat got company by this quintessential beach fragrance.

Aod features notes of grapefruit, gardenia, coconut and seashore accord.

Starting with sparkling and fresh grapefruit, the gardenia (a light and summery, not very realistic, but lovely gardenia) comes through immediately, bolstered by a coconut that is non-sweet and fresh. The predominantly floral accord is surrounded by sea spray, by salt-water mist.

Aod is not the classic tropical beach scent, not like Bobbi Brown Beach for instance, but rougher, the sea here is harsher, no sand but cliffs, not bright sunshine and cloudless skies, but a brisk wind that is blowing the clouds through the sky, tousles your hair and quickly dries your skin leaving the salty residue behind.

Aod is meant to evoke beaches in the Bretagne, Lostmarc’h is named after just such a beach after all. And that is exactly what this perfume does.

I vastly prefer such beaches to tropical ones. I prefer the harsh windblown Atlantic coast in the Northeast to Floridian mellow sands, I prefer the beaches in the Pacific Northwest to California’s surf paradise. And I prefer the beaches of England or France to those of Turkey or Greece. I prefer the cooler weather, the wind, the rough elements, the visible struggle of water versus land. An endless white sandy beach bores me to death (although I’d be perfectly willing to try one again anytime, for science’s sake!).

I feel free when I stand on a rocky outcropping looking out over a lively sea, shivering slightly, my hair blowing every which way in the wind. Smelling the water and the colorful flowers that bloom despite the hardship.

Therefore Aod is ideal for me. Aod is the olfactory equivalent of wind-beaten water, ragged cliffs and gnarly vegetation that is braving the elements.

You want to close your eyes and inhale deeply. Can you feel the freedom?

Image source:, ruby beach via istock

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Not Quite a Review: Amoureuse by Parfums Delrae

By Tom

Today sucked.

I had to trek to the bowels of LA to do an errand that was required of me by the great State of California that for some reason I decided not to drive to. Mostly because it was going to be hot here and the AC on my car isn't very good, while the ones on the buses usually are. Well, not on the #7 Santa Monica Blue Bus, which was packed to the gills, had no AC but did have someone who decided what life really needed was him singing at the top of his voice "Man in the Mirror" despite the fact the he didn't know the words and was off-key. I decided that rather than stabbing him in the temple with my ballpoint I would disembark early and just wait for the next bus. Needless to say the appointment was something that could have been easily been handled by fax or webchat but ended up sucking up the entire day. Your tax dollars at work.

What kept me from just running amok? Amoureuse by Parfums Delrae. Marina wrote a review a few years ago that says is better than I could even when I wasn't a wrung-out exhausted mess craving a drink and a hot bath. The cardamom/orange/jasmine loveliness kept my zen through the Culver City, Los Angeles and Santa Monica buses that alternately ignored me by or just sucked up my day. Now I can sit here on the sofa with a generous spray of it and all is right in the world. The power of Perfume..

What perfumes enhance your calm? (ten points if you get the movie reference)

$135 for 50ML at Luckyscent, where I purchased.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Amouage Honour

By Marian

Although I’m embarrassed to admit it, Amouage’s handcrafted bottles first interested me in the brand, and I assumed that as much care went into creating the fragrances as their opulent containers. The first perfume I tried, Lyric for Women, lived up to my expectations, and my Amouage perfume oils are as complex, unique and every bit as luxurious as those first gold-encrusted bottles.

It was therefore with great excitement that I encountered Honour for Woman at the Elements Showcase. Honor is named in honor of “truth and beauty” and is meant to be an elegy to Madame Butterfly as she is remembered by her grown son.

White on white butterfly wings flit across the box and the white ceramic bottle reflects the purity of Butterfly’s heart.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a scent inspired by such a tragic story- something cold and metallic that references Cio Cio San’s harrowing suicide? Something sad and wistful that recalls her longing for her departed naval officer? A soft and gentle homage to Butterfly’s sweetness, hopefulness and innocence? According to the website “Each ingredient embraces a plethora of emotion and meaning; sweet Tuberose represents danger; Jasmine, attachment; Gardenia, secret love and Lily of the Valley, purity of heart. A harmoniously rich resin base of Frankincense, Amber and Opoponax injects dimension, depth and complexity.”

Honour for Women is a soft white floral that seems more commercial and conventional than the other Amouage fragrances with which I’m familiar. Pepper and carnation give it the tiniest bit of a kick, frankincense and amber add warmth and luster, and the sweetness of lily of the valley and jasmine permeate the blend. However gardenia and tuberose, whose mintiness adds a touch of cool detachment, are the star performers. Lovers of white florals should definitely attend the performance but those who expect uniqueness and inventiveness from Amouage may be disappointed.

Honour Man has strong notes of pepper, nutmeg and geranium – it’s opening is sharp and lively. I was surprised to read that tonka bean is one of the basenotes- on me the drydown is all dry woods and herbs (cedar, frankincense and patchouli). The perfume didn’t develop much and after a while I found myself feeling irritated by its piquancy. If you like the scent of feisty pepper and arid woods you might enjoy this parched fragrance, but if your significant other wears it I hope his heart is warmer than his perfume.

Honour EDP is available in 50 and 100 ml bottles.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Orange You Glad: By Kilian Sweet Redemption

By Donna

My opinion of the By Kilian fragrances in the L’Oeuvre Noire collection is pretty evenly divided along style lines of those I have tried so far - I love the more “feminine” and sweeter ones like Love and Beyond Love, but Liaisons Dangereuses and Cruel Intentions left me cold. The latest launch, Sweet Redemption, said to be the last in this particular series, is aligned with the former group and for me it was instant affinity. It’s very well done and it pulls together several of my favorite perfume ingredients; the listed notes on Luckyscent are orange blossom, vanilla, myrrh, opopanax, benzoin and incense, so it may as well be a Christmas shopping list for my nose. It is immediately likable and downright friendly.

It’s not often that orange and myrrh make an appearance together, but it most certainly does work. The dominant note throughout is orange blossom in all its high-pitched sweetness with just a touch of leafy bitterness for balance, and it carries the melody even as the opening deepens into the heart and the opopanax and myrrh come into their own. Vanilla ties it all up in a gourmand bow, but this perfume has a solid base of resinous materials that keeps it from being a mere trifle, and the base is very tenacious. (It’s a good thing I am a fan of opopanax!) In fact, it reminded me a lot of two vintage classics that have not been around for a very long time, Robert Piguet’s Baghari and the marvelous L’Origan by Coty from 1905.

Some time ago I acquired a precious micro-mini bottle of vintage 1950 Baghari extrait de parfum, which was that rarest of beasts, an orange chypre, and magnificent it is. Rich and a bit powdery with a true chypre base, this is a gem from the past that has now been reformulated and brought back by the new owners of Piguet. The re-orchestrated Baghari introduced in 2006, although very good, lacks the narcotic depth of the original, while Sweet Redemption has an echo of that mesmerizing character in both the orange and the resins, although it is not a chypre. I also have a little sample of L’Origan extrait that was given to me by a perfume friend, and its powdery depth and heavenly orange blossom made me realize yet again what a great perfumer François Coty was and what a shame it is that his great old formulas have either fallen away completely or else reformulated ever more cheaply over the years until they can no longer be recognized. Sweet Redemption has some of that unforgettable beauty of the L’Origan of old, and for that alone I would like to own a bottle

Alas, buying a bottle of this could be problematic, as the By Kilian line is expensive; 50 ml of the Eau de Parfum goes for $225 USD on Luckyscent. Plain refill bottles are available for $125, but then you don’t get the special satin-lined box and the heavy, artsy bottle. Travel size sprays are available at the By Kilian Web site.

Image credit: “Chiyogami Orange Blossom” pattern Japanese paper from

Disclosure: My sample was obtained free from Luckyscent as part of a promotional giveaway when Sweet Redemption was released.

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Short but definitely sweet! My Chocolate Downfall!

By Beth

What a week I’ve had. Summers in full swing and with it comes parties on the porch, more fresh sweet corn that I know what to do with, lots of time with my family and my DH’s annual trip to the Indy Car races! Basically, for the last 20 plus years this same group of guys has gone every summer on the same weekend to the Mid-Ohio racecourse for a weekend long party . They bring a full bar, tons of food and a couple of motor homes and live music and a poker table. It’s a loud, raucous time that never shuts down. Wives generally aren’t allowed although yours truly has been an honored guest several times! I think that it’s probably because I cook enormous amounts of greasy food for all of them and because I insist upon driving down there mid-weekend and whisking Jim off to a totally cheap motel to have my way with him for several tawdry hours. My husband definitely is not a kiss and tell sort of guy, but I know that they can tell by his satisfied smirk that he’s been “well fed” and being boys they definitely value that sort of thing.

Last Wednesday found me in my kitchen surrounded by meatballs, drumsticks, huge slabs of beef and other assorted ingredients. I actually love doing this, because Jim enjoys it so much. It’s not food that I’d generally cook, but it’s a pleasure to make it for such a charming group of guys. So by 11:00 pm I’d produced approximately 300 Rum and Coke meatballs , 40 bourbon barbecued drumsticks, 2 pounds of homemade beef jerky, many pounds of garlicky wedge potatoes, huge amounts of Caesar salad and for good measure about 10 pounds of tandoori chicken sausages cooked with peppers and onions. My kitchen still smells sweet and smoky from all of the grease, rum and hickory barbecue!

Although I love my little jaunts down to the race track down south, this weekend I stayed home because I had really fun plans for every evening and being under a tent in the pouring rain with about 50 really sweaty guys is not exactly on my olfactory top ten list. My husband must have missed me though because after begging me to come down (a girls got to keep a little bit of mystery you know!) he came home bearing gifts! He came in late last Sunday afternoon and after sleeping for a few hours he appeared down stairs with a fairly evil grin on his face. “I’ve brought you a present…something to seduce you with….you’ll not be able to resist!” By now you all know me well enough to know that I was completely intrigued and I did really miss him!

So , he sat me down on the porch and proceeded to mix me the most devilishly delicious cocktail that I’ve ever had. Simple and sweet, it’s a chocolate obsessed girls dream. Yes , it definitely had the effect that he wanted and because I want all of you to be happy too I’m sharing! Many thanks to his pal Chuck for sharing the recipe with him. Extra meatballs for you next year my friend!
I suggest that you only serve this to someone that you want to get really frisky with….It doesn’t seem to have a name, but I call it “ My Chocolate Downfall ”

For one delightful cocktail you’ll need:
A very tall glass
1 can of real coke (not diet!) iced cold!
1 and ¼ ounce of Godiva Chocolate liqueur
¾ of an ounce of vanilla vodka
¼ of an ounce of chocolate vodka
a few dashes of chocolate bitters (in a pinch use angostura that you’ve sweetened with a bit of chocolate flavoring and some agave nectar)

It’s simple….Just pour the coke in the glass first slowly over ice and then the rest of the ingredients . The whole thing will be incredibly fragrant, creamy and foamy like a very grown up soda. Add 2 straws……Stir.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Carrot Top!

 By Marla

I’ve been on a carrot kick lately, and it started with my introduction to the American Slow Food movement. My family is now organic, and we have found so many new reasons to love food, I could write many articles…but this one is about carrots. Carrot perfumes, to be exact. Being a redhead, I’ve always had a soft spot for the orange root, but I’ve now found not one, but two perfumes to wear that express my affection for all things carroty….

My first discovery was thanks to Grain de Musc, who wrote some beautiful essays on Olivia Giacobetti’s Honore’ des Pres latest trio, featuring tuberose, coconut, and carrot (you are perfumistas, and you know their names). She had some nice things to say about redheads in her article on I Love Les Carottes, and, since redheads get very little love in the real world (my youthful nickname was “Coppertop”, and some of the time, it was meant affectionately, I think…), I had to try the perfume. But I was a good and frugal creature, and I waited for my moment to pounce….

Then Space NK had a sale, and I snagged a bottle for an incredible $24.50!! Squee!!!! I was worried. Had it turned? Would it be cooked on the long, hot trip to Florida? Would it be my carrot Holy Grail? It arrived this week, and I’ve been spritzing it constantly and driving my family nuts looking for the source of all this carrot. It is The Ultimate Carrot. If you want to smell carrots for hours, this is it. Total love. But it’s so much more! I also love iris, and orange, and benzoin, as my readers know. And I really like patch when it’s combined with orange. This one’s got them all. I am sorely tempted to call Space NK and buy out the rest of their stock. It rates 4 out of 5 on Makeup Alley, so I have some competition for those remaining bottles. If only I were an evil hedge fund manager with money to burn.

But wait, seekers of the scent of carrot, there is another…. Bellyflowers Botanical Perfumes, an Indie natural studio, created Wild Chypre. Slow Nose Elise Pearlstine highlights the wild carrot flower, so it’s not the root, but wow, for those who love that pungent, refreshing floral, this perfume is truly addictive, and I believe, unique. I know I’ve never smelled anything like it before, and Elise says that it really took on a life of its own while she was composing it. Here is the composition:

Top Notes: Wild Orange, wild lavender, ylang ylang I, peppermint

Heart Notes: Jasmine sambac , Jasmine grandiflorum, organic silver fir, wild carrot

Base notes: Balsam of peru , Haitian vetiver , oakmoss , myrrh, fossilized amber oil

The notes blend into an unusual whole that evolves from a sharp opening, that evokes a real state of alertness, to a smooth, warm, yet wild heart, and soothing, sunbaked drydown. Fossilized amber oil is new on the market, and it is really made from amber, the gemstone. It is smoky and earthy and very grounding . It’s a gorgeous addition to the natural perfumer’s palette, and Wild Chypre is a perfect canvas for its nuances.

So now I have both a Carrot HG, and a Carrot Flower HG.

My question(s) of the day is (are):

Which savory scents (like veggies) do you love to smell in perfumes, and which savory scent do you want to smell in a perfume? And would you wear it to work, or on a date???

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hey Mister: Byredo Mister Marvelous

By Tom

Barney's had the tester of this, but not the actual product. I only got to spray it; I didn't get a full sample so you'll have to take this review with a grain of salt.

Byredo and I are just not that into each other. There are scents of theirs that I like, but none that I love. Certainly not enough to purchase. I keep hoping that they'll come up with one that I will adore and want and need.

Mister Marvelous is not it.

I feel like I did once when set on a blind date by a friend with her old college pal. On paper it should have worked. He was handsome, kind and funny and we liked a lot of the same things. There was however zero spark. There was no spice to him; perhaps I need a little bit of the bad-boy to offset my own inherent vanilla-ness.

Mister Marvelous was the same way, with its opening of orange and neroli, lavender middle and sweet woody finish. The thing is, there are three thing I own that do this dance (and shall I be catty and write that they can dance longer?) and have the little quirk to them I need to be smitten.

Sorry Mister Marvelous, I'm just not that into you..

$135 for 50ML or $240 for 100, soon to be at Barneys, where I sampled.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Elements Showcase in Pictures

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eternally Pretty: Review of Poncet’s Eau Eternelle

By Marla

Sabine Poncet is on to a great fashion idea. She’s creating sets of scarves, jewelry, and perfume, each coordinated with the other. She’s designing these sets slowly, taking her time, consulting with artists and noses to create some really lovely combinations. I like this idea because I always seem to be late when it’s time to dress! And then I spend 15 minutes I don’t have, dithering around with my jewelry box, getting tangled in several shirts I seem to have tried on all at once, always forgetting a nice scarf or accessory, because I’m running late! So obviously, Sabine’s idea intrigued me, and I had to contact her.

Her first set is debuting now, and it highlights Monet’s garden in Giverny, and the tropical oceans; bright, pure colors are gleaned from lilies, blue waters, and fish and set in silk and enamel; they are joined by a perfume that I can only describe as, “So pretty!” Most perfumes don’t evoke that childlike reaction from me anymore- when it comes to perfume, I’m so jaded I make Keith Richards look like a little girl….

“Eau Eternelle” has key notes of citrus, Mediterranean herbs, patchouli, sandalwood, and moss. Sounds very brisk, then very heavy, but it’s as light and bright as the silk scarf that it’s paired with. The citrus is soft and misty, the herbs piquant but polite, and the drydown has a nubbly sweetness that’s hard to describe, but quite compelling. It lasts a full day and makes me feel like a chic Frenchwoman enjoying a day on the beach. Since I’m a scruffy, pint-sized American having fun on the beach, I can say this perfume has transformative effects (at least in my mind).

Sabine’s first set can be found on her website at, and Eau Eternelle is debuting on Beautyhabit for $115 for 50ml, at Luckyscent, Scent Bar, and several other locations in the US and Canada.

Sabine tells me her second set of batik silk scarf, jewelry, and perfume will be based on a mysterious oak tree forest in the Loire Valley near her family home, and will feature the colors burgundy, dark purple, and antique pink. About the upcoming perfume, Sabine hints, “In the fall you have the wonderful smell of moist earth and leaves as well as humus from the large variety of mushrooms. You can smell some wild berries, and from the yards nearby, the wonderful scent of juicy pears. This is what I intend to capture in my second scent.”

So my question of the day is, do you deliberately coordinate your jewelry, accessories, and perfume? If not, do you want to try? Reveal your combos in the comments!

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Sunday, August 07, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Tea Break

By Tom

I like coffee. I like diet soda. But what I really like is tea. I know it's not the real thing but I navigate fast food places on the fact that they have unsweetened iced tea on tap, unlimited. On a hot day I can find a Fatburger or something that has AC and chill my insides down the level I prefer, which is about three hours after death.

On the other hand, I also really like having Tea. You know, tea with all the extras; sandwiches, little cakes and various things that are served with jam and clotted cream. It's sometimes called "High Tea", like "it's high time we ate something", especially if you're going be eating dinner at 9.

There's a place in West Hollywood that does this a treat. It's called Chado Tea Room, and it's across the the street (sort of) from Le Labo. As a matter of fact, at the only Sniffa LA I attended, this was the very-much-needed pit-stop for a bracing cuppa and a bite or three between visiting all the sniff-centric spots in the neighborhood. You can choose from literally hundreds of blends to taste, all of which you can take home.

The High Tea is delicious.

So I do love a fresh brewed pot of the real thing. Don't hate me that I like the diet coke version at fast food outlets. I'm keeping my New England core cool in the desert. If any one of them would come up with cold jasmine tea on tap I'd praise them to the skies.

If you have your own tea rituals, cold or hot, please share them in the comments.

Image source,

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Friday, August 05, 2011

Perfume-Smellin' Things Summer Favorites 2011 & a Prize Draw

Это лето выдалось дождливым и холодным, поэтому мой летний парфюмерный гардероб мало отличался от остальной части года, разве что я меньше ношу розы и альдегиды. Кожу я люблю в любое время года, но этим летом я особенно часто носила Onda Vero Kern в духах. Onda входит в мой стандартный дорожный набор. Обычно я никогда не знаю заранее, что мне может понадобиться, поэтому стараюсь взять все самые любимые ароматы с собой. В поездках я по обстоятельствам надеваю тот или иной аромат из набора. Этим летом мой выбор часто падал на Оnda. Onda побывала со мной в Антверпене и Париже, но собенно органично она звучала в старых замковых и монастырских стенах. Главным событием этого лета стало посещение аббатства Мон Сен-Мишель. Лил проливной дождь, от камней веяло холодом, на арках и лестницах пробирали сквозняки. Onda – глубокий аромат с внутренним стержнем, он согревает тело и охлаждает голову. Запах дегтя, дыма, кожи, ароматных трав, кисло-сладкий привкус настоящего хлеба... В Onda мне удалось прочувствовать как жили монахи в этих суровых и прекрасных местах. И я опять беру ее в следующую поездку. (This summer turned out to be rainy and cold, and so my perfume wardrobe did not differ much from that during the rest of the year, apart from the fact that I wear less roses and aldehydes in summer. I leather anytime, this summer I have been wearing Onda Vero Kern in parfum the most. Onda is in my standard travelling kit. I usually don't know in advance what I might need and so I try to pack all my favorite scents. This summer I mostly chose Onda. It went with me to Antwerp and Paris, and it seemed the most at home within the old castle and monastery walls. The main event of the summer was the visit to the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel. It was raining hard, stones seemed cold, the arches and stairs were drafty. Onda is a deep aroma with a hard core, it warms the body and cools the head. It is the smell of tar, smoke, leather, herbs, of the sour-sweet taste of a real bread. Through Odna, I sensed the way moks used to live in this severe and beautiful place...)

Austin is looking at it's 47th day of triple-digit heat today, and we've had so little rain that trees are dropping their limbs in thirsty self-defense all over the neighborhood. The weather has pared down my perfume rotation, too--I've become a serial monogamist. First I was obsessed with cool green of The Different Company's De Bachmakov, then it was the tart, sparkling orange blossom of Annick Goutal's Neroli, and shortly after that the softer, more honeyed blossoms of L'Artisan's Fleur d'Oranger. Currently, I can't stop wearing The Different Company's Sel de Vetiver, a sea-bleached vetiver that makes the best of my sweaty, salty summer skin and brings the beach and much longed for breezes to me.

I have fallen in love with a perfume that I swore I'd always avoid, mostly because it was the signature scent of one of my best friends. But fall I did and very hard. Hermes 24 Faubourg is beautiful and my husband adores the way that its soft floral and amber accords smells on my skin. It's also the first perfume that I've worn in a long time that travels easily from day to evening. By day 24 Faubourg is the olfactory equivalent of a soft pashmina shawl, classy and elegant...full of color, but by night it magically becomes a bewitching symphony of soft Egyptian cotton and a sensual caress. This Hermes is my summertime affaire de coeur ...

Surprisingly the perfume I am most fond of this summer was one I discovered accidentally. I wanted to try a sample of Lostmarc'h Aod and received Ael-Mat instead. I tried it anyway and promptly fell in love, or at least in summer-flirt.With notes of hesperides, chamomile, jasmine and musk, Ael-Mat looks simple, but it smells very unusual. The top is effervescent and cheerful, the the floral notes of whitest, softest jasmine with the herbal, vegetal almost feel of chamomile mixed in dominate for some time, finally giving in to a soft, salty-musky skin scent. Ael-Mat meaning Guardian Angel in Breton, is an Eau de Toilette and lasts about three hours on my skin. Reapplying is a treat though. What I like the most about it is its uniqueness, Ael-Mat smells unlike anything I know, it is not your run-of-the-mill standard summer citrus scent. I have a soft spot for Lostmarc'h and Ael-Mat has proven to be another very good reason to really like that line.

My top pick for Summer 2011 is one of the most delightful fragrances I have ever smelled, and a tropical style scent that is head and shoulders above most others in this usually cliched genre; Vents Ardents by Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes. It is a bounteous blend of everything that evokes the tropics, minus the usual coconut and suntan oil, with notes of luscious mango and other fruits, rich florals, sweet dark rum, fragrant tobacco, vanilla, Tonka bean, amber and exotic woods, its is the embodiment of all my island fantasies. It was actually envisioned as a masculine fragrance, but the guys can't have this one all to themselves! Outstanding in every way.

My summer favorite this year is MDCI's La Belle Helene. The vanilla-infused, citrus-scented pear of the opening plays joyfully with the seductive floral heart and chic oriental drydown. It strikes me as intrinsically modern -- yet it has a big, timeless, classical feel too. I love the way it blooms in the heat of summer. It is like a sumptuous picnic of poached fruit, set out on a perfumed and elaborately embroidered cloth, spread in a lavish flower garden. It makes me feel grand.

Maybe it’s because it’s been way too long since I’ve left the sweltering sidewalks of New York that the fragrance I’m most enjoying this summer is Ambergris Absolute by SMK Fragrance. It’s redolent of the somewhat shocking yet compelling scent of shells washed up on shore- a mixture of brine and animal that is as alluring as it is disquieting. It reminds me of mollusk-encrusted hulls, salty breezes, grizzly sailors and tangled masses of wave-scattered kelp- images that carry me across oceans as I stare out my apartment window. Although I like to wear it unaccompanied it’s amazing how the ambergris brings to life other oils and perfumes with which it’s combined, and increases their longevity many times over. Because it both exalts and is exalted Ambergris Absolute is truly a whale of a scent!

When one has a baby, a job and a 100F heat, one wants everything else to be nice & easy. Including fragrance. At the moment, "nice" means pretty & girly, easy means light and lighthearted. Maitre Parfumeur & Gantier's Fraiche Passiflore is all of the above with a bonus of deliciousness. To me it's like an exotic not too sweet drink which smells of peaches. Because what else one needs when one has a baby, a job and a 100F heat? That's right, a (cold) drink.

Lilies, acacia blossoms, jasmine, amber, and spice. Donna Karan's Gold (2006) has been a very happy discovery for me this summer. I love the way those flowers bloom in July heat, and the amber drydown is sultry and warm. Sad to find out it's discontinued (of course, I mean it's 5 years old already, right?), but it's still online, so I've got a backup bottle, too. I prefer the richer eau de parfum to the cucumber-topped EdT. And what a gorgeous bottle!

I think my new favorite of the Summer is one that I just got: smell bent Debonair Eau Dandy. Part of their "Remix Project", they took the original scent and added lemon, rose, jasmine and amped up the oakmoss (yes, the real stuff) to make a summery little wonder that smells startlingly fresh. In the hear of summer I could bathe in it.

If you would like to participate in a prize draw for a set of 10 summery samples (Marina's choice & some of the above), please, say so in your comment. The winner will be chosen at random and announced next week.

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

Image by Slim Aarons is from


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Going Home Again: Acqua di Parma Colonia

By Tom

Okay, I'm lazy. It's unseasonably humid here and I just don't feel like challenging myself with something new. So I've been reaching for this standby, a scent that I've owned for longer than I care to admit. The original one is so wonderful; a bracing citrus with rosemary opening, rosy rosemary heart, and rosemary woody base.

Did I mention rosemary?

In a review five years ago I wrote that it smelled elegant, in a particularly Italian way, like a Maserati. On a hot, humid day it's also wonderfully bracing. At $138 for the whopping 6oz splash, it's also a bargain. There are also many ancillary products that I might need to own..

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

More winners

The winner of the Riverwalk travel spray is Natalia.

The winner of the 1/2 bottle of Haight & Ashbury is Michael Singel.

Please email us your details using the link on the right.


By Marla

Who out there likes a good amber perfume? I sure do! But only Nerd Girl would be brave (or stupid, or obsessed) enough to wade into the Amber Aromachemical Swamp with a net.

First off, amber, the organic gemstone, is not involved. At least, not until a few months ago, but that will be the subject of a different article. Vanilla, labdanum, tonka, ambrette, and benzoin are the true culprits of your swooning compulsion to buy more amber perfume. Today I’ll enjoy confusing you with the subject of benzoin.

Perfumista, be warned. Do not confuse benzoin, that lovely resin, the basis of many a treasured amber scent, with the crystalline compound benzoin. Benzoin resin does not contain this crystalline compound.

In other words, benzoin contains no benzoin. Got that?? Now would you like to feel confused? Styrax (genus) may be known as styrax, storax, benzoin, or, very oddly, snowbell. And perfumes sometimes list, in their notes, benzoin, styrax, and storax, all together. And no, I haven’t figured out why they do that. Or why they ignore snowbell, which sounds like a word that marketing types would go for.

OK, would you like to be even MORE confused??? Sure you would. This is from Wikipedia, and it’s true:

“The chemical benzoin (2-Hydroxy-2-phenylacetophenone), despite the apparent similarity of the name, is not contained in benzoin resin in measurable quantities. However, benzoin resin does contain small amounts of the hydrocarbon styrene, named however for Levant styrax (from Liquidambar orientalis), from which it was first isolated, and not for the genus Styrax itself; styrene is used to produce polystyrene plastics, including StyrofoamTM.”

Wait, don’t change the channel, I’m going to explain, it’s not my fault….

Oh, forget it. I’m too confused. Just know that benzoin resin is a lovely, golden, sticky substance that gives sweetness, depth, and longevity to amber perfumes and incense. It’s warm and sweet, vanillic with a touch of cinnamon. I recommend the Sumatran variety (Styrax benzoin), but some prefer the Thai (Styrax tonkinensis). A lovely mainstream perfume that showcases benzoin is Kenzo Amour le Parfum, in the bronze bottle. But it’s skulking about in virtually every amber perfume ever made. If you’d like to try it in its pure form, you can burn some Papier d’Armenie.

And benzoin doesn’t smell at all like Styrofoam. Really. Does Styrofoam actually smell??


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Alien Technology: Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist

By Donna

I have been seeking out the Serge Lutens Exclusive range perfumes for a long time; oh how they do tease us, creating such sought–after fragrances and then not letting anyone have them who can’t come to the Palais Royale du Shiseido in Paris to pick them up. Every once in a while I get to try one and I have fallen for every one of them I have smelled so far – Fumerie Turque, Tubereuse Criminelle, La Myrrhe, Muscs Koublai Khan, Rose de Nuit. Then I ran into Iris Silver Mist, perhaps the most storied and unattainable of them all, and I just did not know what to make of it.

My first question was: is this really a perfume? It is? Then why doesn’t it smell, um, wearable? Like something that’s supposed to be put on your skin? It’s so very strange, like the atmosphere of a distant planet where humans need to wear space suits. Nothing about it is inviting to me but it is certainly oddly beautiful, a piece of chilly abstract art that hangs in a whitewashed gallery filled with cold blue light; you admire it from afar even if you are not sure what the artist meant by it, but you really don’t want to see it hanging on the wall in your own house. It would make you feel weird having something like that around all the time and it certainly would not go with the rest of your home décor, unless your name happens to be Seven of Nine.

I must admit that I am not an “iris person” when it comes to perfume. I like what it does to many compositions, but by itself it always seems remote, and sometimes even flat. There are only a couple of iris soliflore fragrances that I have really liked, including DSH perfumes Cyprian, one of the Perfumed Court series. For some reason I found that one to be very user-friendly. I adore the aroma of iris blooms, which smell delightfully of a number of things from lemons to grapes to wild strawberries to violets, but iris perfumes always seem to be aloof and bloodless. Iris Silver Mist begins with a super-cooled blast of iris that is immediately followed by a smell that is exactly like those Red Hots™ candies flavored with artificial cinnamon, creating an icy-hot pain rub effect, and then a very emphatic carrot chimes in, and an odor like a gutted Halloween pumpkin the morning after a heavy frost. It’s not until about half an hour later that it finally becomes eerily beautiful as it drifts through the air, but if I put my nose to my skin it is still iris root, carrot and little red candies. It’s the sillage alone that makes it work for me, floating in space and waiting for my breath to catch it, an otherworldly isotope of some rare element being distilled and refined out of the raw ore applied to my flesh. It is only then that I can appreciate the artistry that went into it, but it never comes close to adapting to my skin, as it simply sits on it refusing to make allowances for a mere mortal. There is a popular saying that you are no one until you have been ignored by a cat; now I know what it feels like to be ignored by a perfume.

Image credit: Actress Jeri Ryan as the Borg “Seven of Nine” on Star Trek: Voyager via, original source unknown

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Monday, August 01, 2011

The winner of the To Bee ...

... the winner of the To Bee mini solid perfume compact is  Lyrical.

Please email us your address using the contact link on the right.