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Friday, April 28, 2006

Perfume Review: Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Bahiana

Continuing on my quest for a perfect pineapple fragrance, I stumbled upon Bahiana by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. The company’s latest offering was launched to celebrate the Year of Brazil and named after the state of Bahia. With notes of Brazilian orange, caipirinha limon, mandarin, tagette, green leaf, rosewood, gaiac wood, elemi, amber, musk and coconut, it reminds the lovely Luckyscent people of pineapple, “not drenched with syrup, but freshly cut, with a startling trace of green”. I am happy for them and not too unhappy about the fact that personally I do not get even a hint of pineapple in Bahiana. What I get instead is a lovely, soft and fresh citrus, the essence of a carefree summer in a bottle.

On my skin, the two main notes in Bahiana are orange and mandarin. Sprinkled with sparkling lemon juice, softened by a judicious touch of coconut, the fruits are resting on a slightly dry, vaguely woody base. Judging by the notes (rosewood, gaiac wood), I expected a richer, darker drydown and a much drier, perhaps even harsher scent in general. However, every note here seems to be in just the right proportion; the fruits and the woods balance each other beautifully. The result is a scent that never leans dangerously close to being fruit-salad-like and yet achieves that effervescent, lighthearted, exotic quality that so many summery scents struggle to attain and fail miserably, in effect ending up smelling like the much dreaded fruit salad. Bahiana is not the most long-lasting fragrance (it lasts three-four hours on my skin), however I do not mind re-applying. Each new spray of Bahiana puts me in an irrationally happy mood.

This joyful, bright fragrance is available at Luckyscent, $145.00 for 100ml.

*The image is from

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Perfume Review: L’Artisan Ananas Fizz

Lately I have been having a strange craving for pineapples, pineapple-scented bath and body items and fragrances with pineapple notes. The scent I am longing for has to be sweet but not syrupy-sweet, effervescent but not too bubbly, tropical and exotic but without being reminiscent of pina colada…Fussy, moi? Ananas Fizz by L’Artisan does fulfill most of these requirements, its sweetness is moderate, its sparkly quality is certainly present but is restrained enough not to give the wearer the hiccups, and, despite the presence of both rum and cocoa milk among the notes, there is barely a hint of an umbrella drink in the summery freshness of Ananas Fizz.

The problem? It does not really smell of pineapples. The pineapple is there, I know it, I can almost smell it …and then it is gone. It is a teaser of a note. Now you smell it, now you don’t…And really, for the most part, you don’t. On my skin, Ananas Fizz is all about lovely citruses, bitter oranges in particular. Thanks to the presence of cedar, the potential sweetness of the citrus fruits is kept in check. There is not enough cedar here to actually call the scent woody, but Ananas Fizz does have a certain dry quality, especially at the later stages, which I find really enjoyable.

As a citrus scent, Ananas Fizz is fabulous. As a pineapple scent…well, it really is not a pineapple scent. I am not complaining however. This is an uplifting, "thirst-quenching" fragrance that, due to its lack of sweetness, is wonderful in summer, and I really like it.

As an aside note, the only product that comes very close to fulfilling my criteria for a perfect pineapple scent is Les Plaisirs Nature Pineapple Shower Gel by Yves Rocher. It smells sweet, a little tart and tropical, but most importantly it actually smells like a real, fresh, juicy pineapple. I would also highly recommend other Les Plaisir Nature shower gels, especially Peach and Pear; the fragrances of these gels are very true to those of the fruits they are meant to represent.

Ananas Fizz can be found at Luckyscent, $75.00 for 50ml. Pineapple Shower Gel is available at, $5.50 (right now, actually $3.00) for 13.5oz.

*The images are from and

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Perfume Review: Antoine & Lili Holy Champa

According to The New York Times Paris Travel Guide, Antoine & Lili is a bright fuchsia store packed with eclectic objects from the East and its own line of clothing. (…) There is an ethnic rummage-sale feel, with old Asian posters, small lanterns, and basket upon basket of cheap little doodads, baubles, and trinkets for sale. The clothing itself has simple lines, and there are always plenty of picks in raw silk.” The description sounds extremely appealing to me; just as attractive in a playfully-exotic sort of way seemed to be Antoine & Lili’s fragrance, Holy Champa, with notes of neroli, magnolia, nag champa, jasmine, amber, incense, gurjum.

Luckyscent very honestly warns us in their description of the scent that “interestingly, (…), it’s not a super heavy or earthy fragrance”. Even though, thanks to that notice, I did not expect a rich, intense composition, I was still disappointed in Holy Champa’s lack of depth and character and its poor lasting power. The incense note makes a very brief appearance in the very beginning only to vanish once and for all leaving behind a pleasant, “pink” (although not as brightly pink as the wonderful packaging), summery, vaguely floral, indistinctly fruity blend that smelled to me like Bois de Paradis Lite. Very, very lite. A certain succulent, ripe ambery-fruity richness was almost-there, like a ghost of a scent that Holy Champa might have been if the creators did not choose to go the lighthearted, “diet” route.

In all fairness, this is a pretty, fun little scent that is easy to wear and hard to dislike. If it ever goes on sale, I might even buy a bottle; if nothing else, the packaging is a feast for the eyes.

Holy Champa is available at Luckyscent, $60.00 for 50ml.

*The picture is from

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Mother's Day Fundraising

Mother's Day is approaching. Katie, the brilliant author of Scentzilla and Seldom Nice Nowadays, had a fantastic idea of a mass-blog fundraising campaign that would take place upon Mother's Day (May 14th). For this purpose she created a site, Benevolent Blogging, that is currently located at this address, but as soon as the domain registration takes effect, you will be able to find it via

This is how it works:

For each comment left on the calendar date of Mother's Day, each blogger will agree to donate a specified amount to a chosen charity. The charities that were selected as preferred charities are FINCA International and Orphan Foundation of America.

FINCA International provides loans to low-income microentrepreneurs, focusing especially on women. From FINCA's website - “Of the 1.3 billion people living in poverty worldwide, women account for 70 percent. In the developing world, and even in the United States, a woman's chances of receiving credit are markedly lower than a man's, and yet, in an increasing number of families, the woman provides a substantial portion--or all--of the family's income." FINCA operates on a global level, with active programs in Latin America, Eurasia, Central Asia, and Africa. This organization receives's highest rating of four stars, which you can view by clicking here. Because FINCA uses loans rather than grants, every donation adds to an ever-growing pool of funds to help these burgeoning businesswomen. The loans are set at market rates, which means they are not prohibitive or unreasonably hard to pay back. Many clients take pride in repaying their loans, and feel glad to know that their repayments will mean one more woman not unlike themselves will be able to successfully care for her children and her family.

Orphan Foundation of America "has served thousands of foster teens all across the United States. From teaching youth how to balance a checkbook, write a resume, and apply for that first big job, to testifying before Congress and State Legislatures, OFA has long been a vocal champion of foster teens... Each year OFA and its scholarship partners award more funding and provide a stronger safety net for those pursuing post-secondary education." OFA also received a four star rating from CharityNavigator, which can be viewed by clicking here. In addition to financial donations, OFA also has opportunities for knitters to donate the products of their artistry. There is additionally the option for women to join the Pink Panel, run by The Benchmarking Company, who will donate $5.00 to a scholarship fund run by the OFA each time a woman joins or fills out a beauty survey.

For more information, please read Katie's post on Scentzilla and join us on Mother’s Day as a blogger and as a commenter.

Perfume Review: Guerlain Derby

Derby was originally created by Jean-Paul Guerlain in 1985. Recently it has been re-introduced in Guerlain’s flagship boutique in Paris along with such scents as Attrape-Coeur, Philtre d’Amour and Metalys. According to Luca Turin, the fragrance has been reformulated and is now featuring “a weird citrus note on top”. I am not familiar with the new version of Derby, so I cannot provide a comparison. The original Derby is a perfume of supreme elegance, a polished, sophisticated chypre with notes of artemisia, bergamot, lemon, peppermint, jasmine, mace, pepper, pimento, rose, leather, oakmoss, patchouli, sandalwood and vetiver.

The blend of Derby is amazingly refined, a perfect balance of graceful understatement and forcefulness. Its beginning is bracing, green, citrusy, cold, and yet it has no sharpness. The pepper of the middle stage is evident, but its spiciness is quite discreet, toned down. The leather is softened by a gentle floral accord and is smooth, oh so smooth … As the fragrance progresses the leather note gains strength, but it never becomes harsh. Oakmoss and vetiver add to the composition the most enjoyable green earthiness, while patchouli, subdued and well-behaved in this aristocratic blend, brings with it very pleasant hint of “skank” [waves to March!] Derby has no sharp corners; this is a charismatic, chic fragrance that does not need to raise its voice to be heard and admired.

As far as I understand, Derby is available at Guerlain’s boutique at 68 Champs Elysées in Paris. I am not sure whether the Guerlain boutique in New York offers this scent as well, but it can sometimes be found (often in its original version) on eBay. The cheapest full size bottles I saw were being sold for $99.00. The fragrance is also available at, for $249.99.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Perfume Review: Guerlain L'Instant D'Un Ete and L'Instant D'Un Ete Pour Homme

L’Instant D’Un Été is a new limited edition of Guerlain’s “star fragrance”, L’Instant. It is a “lighter and luminous version”, which adds “un soupçon d’agrumes” (grapefruit and bitter orange) and not much more to the composition of the original scent. It is no secret to anyone that I am a big fan of Maurice Roucel, the creator of L’Instant The First, so it pains me to say that I do not like L’Instant as much as I would have liked too. I think the magnolia note is lovely in there, but I find the scent to be too sweet and somehow indistinct. I was unable to find information regarding the nose responsible for L’Instant D’Un Été and I hope that it was not Roucel, because I liked the summer version even less than the original. I understand the reason behind making the fragrance more citrus-heavy for summer, I for one always crave citrus scents during that season…But something just does not work in L’Instant D’Un Été…I would have loved it if the grapefruit and the magnolia co-existed here in a perfect balance, but they do not. The sharp, awkward grapefruit note keeps sticking out and I find it rather bothersome. The scent is also quite sweet, the citrus and the florals are accompanied by a large helping of ubiquitous vanilla… L’Instant D’Un Été smells to me like a pink, bright, vanillic, girly offspring of L’Instant and Yves Saint Laurent’s Baby Doll (or Anna Sui’s Dolly Girl or any other “luminous”, pink grapefruit scent). In other words it smells like every other fragrance on the market. In a blind sniffing test, I dare anyone to be able to tell L’Instant D’Un Été apart from other scents just like it. As an aside note, if I had to choose a (feminine) L’Instant to wear, I would have opted for L’Instant Eau de Noel with its delightful iris note and a candied, but a little less sweet, feel. However, Eau de Noel too suffers from an overabundance of vanilla, which to me smells a little caramel-like and even a little burnt in the drydown.

I liked L’Instant D’Un Été Pour Homme much more than its feminine counterpart. Again, the summery effect here is achieved by adding more citrus (in this case, lime) to the blend. Apart from that, L’Instant D’Un Été Pour Homme stays pretty true to the original composition and is immediately recognizable as a close, albeit less intense relation of L’Instant Pour Homme. The lime note makes the perfume fresher and lighter yet it does not rob it from the lovely sweet anise note. I am decidedly not a lover of anise, but I enjoy it in the masculine L’Instants. The original version has always reminded me of pizzella, Italian anise cookies, and some of that vague, softly-gourmand quality remains in the summer version. The only part of L’Instant D’Un Été Pour Homme I did not like was the drydown, which on me consisted of patchouli and nothing but patchouli. It was as if the subtle and pleasant development of the fragrance came to a sudden stop, and for the next five-six hours all that remained from L’Instant D’Un Été Pour Homme was patchouli. I did not find the note off-putting per se, but I though the drydown was quite simplistic and boring and therefore a letdown. The regular L’Instant Pour Homme remains my favorite L’Instant and I am very curious to try its Extrême version.

I do not know when the summer editions will be available in the States. The only online place where I was actually able to find L’Instant D’Un Été and L’Instant D’Un Été Pour Homme was, where 80ml of the women’s version and 125ml of the men’s retailed for CHF 68.90.

Tomorrow, Derby by Guerlain.

Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut, an update on Czech & Speake and a new face of Bvlgari Pour Femme

According to, Lorenzo Villoresi's 16th fragrance, Alamut, will go on sale in late April in Villoresi's showroom in Florence, Italy. The Floral-Oriental scent named after an imaginary fortress in Persia will then be launched in 30 other countries, including Europe, the US and Japan.
The fans of Czech & Speake might be happy to know that the company has signed an agreement for fragrance production and worldwide distribution with the Italian Intertrade Europe. Czech & Speake's eight existing fragrances will be retained but their bottles and packaging will be gradually updated, starting with N°88 for men. According to Intertrade's president Celso Fadelli, by the end of the year, "Czech & Speake will be sold in about 400 points-of-sale in Europe […] before taking on the US and Canada in January 2007.” (
Bvlgari has revealed that the new ad campaign for its classic Bulgari Pour Femme line will be featuring Kate Moss. According to, "the campaign coincides with a packaging revamp for the line, along with its masculine counterpart, to give it a sharper, cleaner-looking bottle, and a stronger logo to emphasise the Bulgari seal. The ads, with Moss adorned in Bulgari diamond jewelry, are the first time the company has used a supermodel. The images will be seen when the revamped fragrances launch worldwide this September."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Perfume Review: Wickle Chestnut & Vetiver and i Profumi di Firenze Fresco di Vetiver

You may or may not have noticed that I have been obsessed with vetiver scents lately. I promise that this post will conclude this week’s vetiver madness …conclude for now that is, since there are many more vetiver fragrances to be explored. I decided to review Fresco di Vetiver and Chestnut & Vetiver together, because both are simple, straightforward scents and there isn’t all that much to say about them apart from that they are very easy to wear and (in the case of Chestnut & Vetiver) very enjoyable.

Fresco di Vetiver by i Profumi di Firenze blends Javanese Vetiver with citrus (Sicilian lemon and, according to some sources, Calabrian grapefruit). It starts rather sharp, with a piercing note that I cannot identify. Just when I am ready to give up on Fresco di Vetiver having deemed it to be too harsh and too fresh for my taste, the fragrance becomes much softer, a little sweeter and all in all much more wearable. I believe that this subtle, refreshing scent would be quite lovely in summer; however I do not foresee buying a bottle both due to the unappealing top notes of Fresco di Vetiver and its price, which is rather high for such a very linear, very basic vetiver and citrus composition. Of all the vetiver fragrances that I have sampled, this is perhaps my least favorite.

Chestnut & Vetiver by Wickle on the other hand is good, no, make it great, from start to finish. As Katie pointed out in her review, it smells as simple as it sounds. There are warm, sweetly-woody chestnuts and there is fresh, green vetiver with just a hint of a soft citrus-floral note (perhaps orange blossom?). Whoever is the Wickle’s perfumer who decided to blend chestnuts and vetiver, he or she is a genius, since the two notes are wonderful together, the greenness balances the nuttiness and vice versa and the result is fresh and scrumptious and a little earthy and raw. This is not a longlasting scent and the price (and the shipping cost) is not exactly right either, but Chestnut & Vetiver is such a comfortable, charming little scent, I might eventually buy a bottle.

Fresco di Vetiver is available at Beautyhabit, $79.00 for 50 ml. Chestnut & Vetiver is sold by Wickle, £39.50 for 50ml.

On Monday, Guerlain L’Instant d’Un Ete and L’Instant d’Un Ete Pour Homme.

Found on Makeupalley...

Fragrance fanatic's bookshelf. Personal favorites:
- Harry Pottle
- The Wizard of OsMoz
- The Picture of Dorian Grey Flannel
- Portrait of L'Artisan as a Young Man
- Leaves of Grasse
- Bleecker Street House
- Bois de Paradis Lost
- Murder on the Floriental Express
- What Color is Your Padparadscha?
- Dr Jekyll and Mr. Aldehyde
Please click on the link to read more.
...And that is why I love The Fragrance Board.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Perfume Review: Miller Harris Vetiver Bourbon

Vetiver Bourbon is a part of Lyn Harris’s “exclusive” Nouvelle Edition Collection and is (of course!) marketed as a men’s scent. According to the Miller Harris site, for a woman to wear it, she would have to be Charlotte Rampling circa 1970, “in a St Laurent smoking suit”. I would be kidding myself if I said that there is anything even remotely Rampling-like about me, however neither do I think that one has to be a femme-fatale (or a man) to enjoy Vetiver Bourbon.

What surprised me most about this scent, was its similarity to Guerlain’s Djedi. The side by side comparison reveals just how much more complex Djedi is, how much more animalic, darker, in other words, how much more interesting; nevertheless, the core of the both scents is the same, and while Vetiver Bourbon seems more linear, it still has that mysterious, earthy quality that captivated me in Djedi.

Vetiver Bourbon does not undergo much development on my skin. It starts green and earthy (vetiver, patchouli and oakmoss) and pretty much stays that way till the end, although patchouli does become a little more prominent in the drydown. The fragrance has a sour undertone that, strange as it sounds, I find extremely appealing. I enjoy the bitter, dry nature of this scent as well as the fact that it once again makes me think of enchanted forests and all things mythical. My conclusion is that you don’t have to be Charlotte Rampling to wear Vetiver Bourbon, but you might have to be a geek with the taste for austere, ugly-beautiful green scents.

Vetiver Bourbon is available at, £95.00 for 100ml. As far as I understand the Nouvelle Edition line of fragrances is also carried by Saks.

The painting is The Gate by Christophe Vacher.

Tomorrow, Fresco di Vetiver by i Profumi di Firenze and Chestnut & Vetiver by Wickle.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Perfume Review: Le Labo Vetiver 46

Vetiver 46 was created for Le Labo by Mark Buxton, the author of several Comme des Garcons scents including Comme des Garcons and Comme des Garcons White. (Those who followed the blind fragrance testing experiment conducted by Patty, March and myself might recognize Vetiver 46 as Doctah, one of the samples sent to us by Patty. March and I loved Doctah, however Patty thought it was “just nasty… embalming fluid in a bottle”) Described by Le Labo as “the Rolls Royce of Vetivers”, Vetiver 46 has notes of vetiver, olibanum oil, cedre oil, labdanum absolute, amber, bergamot essence, vanilla, black pepper, gaiac wood, and clove. It is marketed by Le Labo as one of their masculine fragrances, in fact “as the most masculine of all Le Labo creations”. The description goes as far as to say that “among the 46 essences that make it up, all have the distinctive “male” scent: pepper, gaiac, labdanum, cedar”…That list pretty much covers my favorite notes. As a female, in answer to that I will quote my beloved Nero Wolf and say, Pfui!

As you may have garnered from the above outburst, I regard the feminine-masculine distiction in perfumery to be pretty much passé and unnecessary. In the name of fairness however, I must add that, compared to other recent releases with a prominent vetiver note, Terre d’Hermes and Sel de Vetiver, Vetiver 46 does strike me as a drier, harsher, more austere composition, and whereas I cannot imagine anyone not consider Terre d’Hermes or Sel de Vetiver to be “unisex”, I can understand why Vetiver 46 might be deemed “masculine”.

As for the scent itself, it is superb. Vetiver 46 starts with incence, citrus and vetiver, a dry, bright, bracing accord with a slight salty undertone. As the fragrance developes, the harshness of the top notes subsides and while the fragrance never becomes soft and fluffy, it does acquire a certain smooth, warm(-er) quality, undoubtedly due to the presence of vanilla and amber. All stages of Vetiver 46 are wonderful, but I absolutely adore the drydown. Spicy with pepper and cloves, dark and resinous thanks to the gaiac wood note, it has a sligh smoky feel to it that I find irresistible.

I have not given all Le Labo scents a try on my skin yet, but of the ones I have sampled so far, Vetiver 46 had the most interesting, unusual composition. Vetiver 46 is available at Le Labo boutique, $45.00-$180.00.

The image is from
Tomorrow, Vetiver Bourbon by Miller Harris.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Perfume Review: Different Company Sel de Vetiver The

Sel de Vetiver, the latest scent from The Different Company, is said to have been inspired by Céline Ellena's “memory of vetiver roots macerating in a glass of water”. It is described as a "wet/dry mix of olfactive elements, recalling the harmony of earth and rain” and features notes of cardamom, geranium, grapefruit, ylang ylang, vetiver, patchouli, and iris. ( I must admit that when I sampled it for the first time, I was rather underwhelmed. The fragrance seemed indistinct, hazy, as if the water in the glass holding those vetiver roots was stale and murky. It took a couple of trials for me to start appreciating Sel de Vetiver. What was indistinct I now recognized as subtle and masterfully understated. The “murky” accord turned out to be a wonderfully raw, earthy, rooty blend of vetiver, patchouli and iris.

The fragrance does have a certain watery, subtly salty feel, but it is by no means aquatic. The cardamom is there but it is a shadow of its sweetly-piquant self. The usually brisk, spicy geranium note is unusually subdued. Every note seemed hushed or indeed watered down; Sel de Vetiver speaks in a quiet voice, but somehow that voice is resonant and interesting enough to make one want to lean closer and to keep listening. In the middle stage, the cardamom and geranium give place to patchouli and iris as the companions to vetiver. I love that combination; the dry, earthy patchouli is complimented and balanced by the greener vetiver note, as for iris, its rooty-velvety quality both enhances the raw character of the accord and softens it. Rather unexpectedly, the drydown of Sel de Vetiver has plenty of grapefruit on my skin, thus making it the freshest and the "crispiest" stage of the composition. It has an appealing, mouthwatering sourness; it is a little peppery and all and all quite enjoyable. I would not call Sel de Vetiver my favorite vetiver scent, but its subtlety, its soft earthiness; its tasteful “wetness” definitely put it on my Top 10 Vetivers list.

Sel de Vetiver is available on The Different Company website, €95.00 for 90ml, and they do ship to the States. According to Bois de Jasmin, Sel de Vetiver will be available in the US later this month.

The image is from

Tomorrow, Vetiver 46 by Le Labo.

Monday, April 17, 2006

My Top Ten Scents This Spring

I love compiling lists; if I haven’t done one in a while, I become restless. So, with an excuse that spring deserves its own Top 10 List, here are my Top Ten Scents This Spring:

L by Lolita Lempicka. Yes, really. I have been wearing this lovely scent almost everyday for the last couple of weeks. Created by one of my favorite perfumers, Maurice Roucel, L has notes of gomphrena flower, bergamot, bitter orange, cinnamon, vanilla and musk. It is a subtly gourmand scent with a wonderful spicy-citrusy accord, not earth-shatteringly original, but I find it delightful and extremely wearable. One of my two most favorite new releases.

Terre d’Hermes by Hermes. The other favorite new release. Described as a “vegetable and mineral” scent, Terre d’Hermes has a wonderfully clear, uncluttered composition. This blend of vetiver, pepper, grapefruit, patchouli and cedar is fresh, clean, spicy and raw; it smells of roots, snones and earth.

Safran Troublant by L’Artisan. Part of L’Artisan’s trio Les Epices de la Passion, now also available separately, Safran Troublant to me is one of the most pleasurable and delightful fragrances. The creamy, spicy blend of saffron, vanilla and sandal is enriched further by the addition of a rose note. Comforting and exquisite. If this scent were a fabric, it would be golden velvet decorated with intricate red ornaments.

Safram by Laura Tonatto. I have heard complaints that this scent is too sweet and heavy on vanilla. I guess I am very lucky in that, on my skin, the saffron is most definitely the dominant note, the true star of the blend that eclipses the vanilla note. Safram is not as complex as Safran Troublant, however it is more spicy, drier than L’Artisan’s creation and I adore that quality as much as Troublant’s smooth creaminess.

Attrape-Coeur by Guerlain. From the first sniff, this exquisite blend of iris, violet, sandalwood and vanilla caught my heart in its gold, velvety snare. Elegant, soft, heartbreakingly beautiful, Attrape-Coeur will be a part of my Top Ten lists in all seasons.

Wenge by Donna Karan. Part of Donna Karan’s Essence collection, Wenge is a simple, clear-cut composition based on the wood native to Africa. I find Wenge to be centering, comforting and relaxing; it is a spicy, resinous fragrance that is remarkably subtle and wonderfully serene.

Labdanum by Donna Karan. Superb when layered with Wenge and marvelous on its own, Labdanum has a subtle incense undertone that I find extremely appealing and an even subtler hint of flowers that lifts and enlivens the composition. Like Wenge, this is an unfussy, minimalistic fragrance that I find soothing and comforting.

Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle. Another Marcel Roucel’s creation on my Top Ten list and perhaps my favorite of all Roucel’s scents. Musc Ravageur, how I love thee…let me count the ways…I love the citrus fireworks of your top notes, the dirty sensuality of your musc, the warmth of your spices…I love the fact that I can wear you anyplace, anytime, on any occasion. Putting you on is like stepping into a loving embrace. Signed, Forever Yours, M.

Fifi by Fifi Chachnil. I am going to shamlessly quote myself here, since my opinion on Fifi has not changed one bit since I wrote this in my
Best of 2005 post: “A stunning fragrance, sexy and full of character, unconventional, playful and très féminin ; Fifi tops the list of my favorite "pinup scents".”

Diorella by Christian Dior. A very recent addition to my fragrance wardrobe that went striaght onto my Top 10 list. I discovered Diorella thanks to the
blind fragrance testing experiment I’ve been doing with March and Patty from Perfume Posse. Diorella, alias Jaguar, was one of the samples that March sent me. Sophisticated and chic, Diorella blends lemon, bergamot, basil, melon, jasmine, rose, carantion, cyclamen, oakmoss, vetiver, musk and patchouli. It is a fresh yet warm and “deep” scent, its multifaceted, complex, very feminine composition reminds me of another Roudtnitska’s creation, Le Parfum de Therese, which I adore just as much as Diorella and which by all rights should join it on this list.

Honorary mentions are also given to
Cologne Blanche by Christian Dior, 100 % Love by S-Perfume, Message from Orchids and Feminite du Bois by Shiseido, Idole de Lubin, Ambre Russe by Parfum d’Empire, Eau de Russe by Crown Perfumery, Angelique Encens by Creed, and Bois des Iles by Chanel.

I love to read lists as much as I love to write them, so please share your Top Ten Scents This Spring!

The painting is Candy by Tracy Dennison

Tomorrow – Sel de Vetiver by The Different Company.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Perfume review: Le Labo Jasmine 17

Le Labo is the new fragrance line, the originality of which consists in the fact that the fragrances are mixed when you purchase the scents (maturated essential oil is mixed with alcohol and water). The most exciting aspect of Le Labo to me is the perfumers who created the maturated oils: Alberto Morillas, Annick Menardo, Daphne Bugey, Frank Voelkl, Françoise Caron, Michel Almairac, Mark Buxton, and Maurice Roucel. Jasmine 17 is one of the two Roucel’s creations for the line (you can read my review of the other scent, Ciste 18, here). Jasmine 17 was meant to be “a modern alternative to the old-fashioned traditional floral signatures.” According to Le Labo, “the short formula” gives Jasmine 17 “such a distinctive character that once you wear it you’ll never forget it”.

I am not entirely sure about the “distinctive character”. Jasmine 17 is yet another variation on the “floral and vanilla” theme, and even though the rendition is subtle, delicate and truly lovely, once again I am reminded of a host of similar fragrances, among them Black Orchid by Susanne Lang and even, in a way, Songes by Annick Goutal. Jasmine 17 is more understated than either and has a certain genteel, quietly feminine feel to it. The scent seems to be asking to be worn with a flowing white dress, lace gloves and a white umbrella. As for the notes, jasmine and orange blossom are most prominent to my nose, accompanied but never overshadowed by the ubiquitous vanilla. The fragrance does not undergo much development on my skin, yet there is a lot of charm in this seemingly simple blend.

Jasmine 17 is perhaps not big bottle worthy for me, but I might obtain one of Le Labo’s 15ml bottles, wear the scent in summer and feel like a refined, gracious lady from the 1900s. Jasmine 17 is available at Le Labo boutique, $45.00-$180.00.

* The image is from The painting is Walk on the Beach by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, from

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfums 06130 Lys

Being a big fan of Parfums Zéro Six Cent-Trente scents, especially Yuzu Rouge, and their incredibly considerate, generous customer service, I was very excited about the new release, Lys. The notes of the new perfume sounded very appealing: cedrat, bergamot, mandarin, coriander, grapefruit and blackcurrant, water lily, cardamom, verbena, thyme, nutmeg and rose, musk, vetiver, sandalwood, moss and (“a very discreet touch of”) patchouli. Considering that the list included quite a lot of spices, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg, I hoped that Lys would be a new and unusual take on the water lily note, a piquant and fresh scent with a warmer, “substantial” base.

In reality Lys was not in the least alike the scent I conjured in my imagination based on the list of notes. The perfume was unexpectedly sweet; the rose was very prominent in the top notes, prominent to the extent that I thought that my sample was mislabeled and was in fact a citrus-rose blend Yuzu Rouge. The lily note became more evident in the middle stage and, as water lilies are very often prone to do, it had a manifestly aquatic undertone. The spices were basically non-existent on my skin, as were sandalwood and moss. The rose note was still apparent in the drydown, and if I had to describe Lys in a few words only, I would have said that it was a rose and water lily blend, a sweet, rather indistinct scent with a pronounced marine accord. It was perfectly lovely and most probably would be quite pleasant in summer, but I found it uninteresting and unexciting.

Lys is available at Aedes, $90.00 for 3.4oz.

*The photo is from

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Perfume Review: Santa Maria Novella Citta di Kyoto

Città di Kyoto (City of Kyoto) was created to commemorate “the 40th anniversary of the sister-city relationship between Florence and Kyoto”; it combines iris, the symbol of Florence, and lotus, the sacred flower of Kyoto. Rather irrationally, instead of bothering to look at the list of notes, I drew a mental parallel between this new fragrance and Comme Des Garcons Series 3 Incense Kyoto and expected Città di Kyoto to be an incense-based scent. In reality, I smell no incense whatsoever in Santa Maria Novella’s new creation. This is a Green Floral Woody perfume that could easily have been called Bois de Jacinthe or Jacinthe de Bois, because hyacinth and woods are the most prominent players in this composition.

Hyacinth is especially evident in the beginning. It is a green and dry note, elegant and austere. It never disappears completely on my skin, but it does become softened by other flowers. The iris note is lovely here, gently rooty and velvety. Hawthorn is at its most attractive, it smells nutty, almost suede-like to my nose. There is also a discreet hint of fruits (plum and peach), which, together with vanilla, further softens and sweetens the composition. The hyacinth note becomes very apparent yet again in the drydown; the combination of the green hyacinth and the dark, resinous accord of cedar, sandalwood, ebony and ambergris is quite striking and, to me, the best part of Città di Kyoto. All in all, I found Città di Kyoto to be an arresting, stylish fragrance that is bound to appeal to the fans of dry, green florals along the lines of Caron Violette Precieuse or Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Bleu Gris.

Città di Kyoto is available at Aedes, $84.00 for 3.3oz.

*The photo is from

Patty, March and Marina Do Blind Testing. The Second Installment.

As you might remember, the three of us were having lots of fun doing blind perfume testing. Please read my Big Reveal on Perfume Posse.

Friday, April 07, 2006

From the Mouths of Husbands ... Mr. Colombina reviews Feminite Du Bois

When my wife first asked me to review a perfume on her blog, I felt that was the equivalent of asking Paris Hilton to comment on the plight of the homeless, or asking Dick Cheney to give a lecture on rifle safety.

But always being one to “give it a go,” I agreed … if for nothing else, the domestic (and romantic?) brownie points.

I gazed upon her shelves of bottles that make a Macy’s counter look depleted like a Soviet bread shop after a particularly bad Ukrainian harvest. Surely this woman has more scents than sense.

I selected a fragrance called “Feminite Du Bois” by Shiseido.

My high school French allowed me to roughly (and by luck – nearly correctly) translate this as ‘woman of the woods’. I felt this was appropriate as I had just finished telling the story of Goldilocks to our three-year-old daughter.

[In actual translation, it is more like ‘femininity of the woods’.]

My wife told me I had made an excellent choice. This was again, a stroke of luck, since I had selected it primarily for the bottle which looked like a large brown eye dropper, and for the name of the maker (Shiseido) because I thought it was either some new trendy numbers puzzle, or perhaps the title of a Phil Collins song … “Su Su Sudio

[In actual translation, Shiseido is Japanese for “Toyota Lubricant”]

It was late at night when we did this. My wife gave me a good shpritz on the wrist. I never know why perfumers and perfumites and so fond of a good smelling wrist but I have always sensed there is something in this ritual connected to making the wrists limp. I must digress and say I have never been one of those men who can recognize and tell a woman what fragrance she is wearing.

Women always seemed impressed by this ability. Though in actuality, I always thought than when a man said something like, “is that eau de fufu you’re wearing?” … and the woman seemed thrilled to answer ‘yes!’. … that what he was actually saying was … “I recognize your perfume and the only way I as a male … can do so … is from knowing it as the perfume of a previous lover."

Whilst all women (and men) loathe the thought of reminding their partner of a previous partner …that is exactly what will happen with Mr. Smarmy-Suave Perfume Identifier.

I could go off on my view of perfume in general …that it is mostly a product of the French who [allegedly] rarely bathe, and use the word “douche” to mean shower … that I am bemused by the concept of “toilet water” etc. … but I won’t.

I am olfactory-nerve-challenged. I am blessed with 20/20 lens-less vision, and nearly bionic hearing of Jaime Sommers proportions but alas, I couldn’t smell something burning at a rubber re-tread plant in Hades. Whenever a plastic stirring spoon slips through the basket and on to the heating element in our dishwasher, it is my wife who will notice it long before I have passed out from the fumes.

OK …back to Wood Woman Smell…

Expecting the worst, like the bouquet of an Aborigine’s armpit, I took a healthy sniff… NOTHING!

I rubbed my wrists together. I don’t know why. I guess I saw someone do it in a film or something. I sniffed again. This time I got a feint but distinctive series of three smells. Unlike food that might have an aftertaste, each time the smell changed, it got weaker. But clearly I was thinking of 3 Ms … mint, menthol and medicine …. Nothing particularly woodsy was striking my nicotine-crippled proboscis nerves.

I was expecting WOOD. And from a man’s perspective, that was very enticing … Saw dust! Wood chips! Balsa airplanes! Something! I had a distant hope that I might be reminded of the whiff of a freshly pine-tarred Louisville Slugger (a baseball bat for those who don’t know). And with the anticipation of Femininity of the Woods, I was imagining a Babe in the woods!

The scent, long since passed its effectiveness on me, and now we returned to bed. My wife smelled my wet but smell-less (so I thought) left wrist and reacted like it was an aphrodisiac. Though this reaction (unfortunately) much like the scent to me, dissipated rapidly. And just like the scent, her nano-second desire d’amour, evolved into something else …in her case …le desire du sleep.

The next morning, I was again wrist attacked by my wife with the big eye dropper sprayer. This time I took that menthol-alcoholic-minty smell as perhaps (and this is stretching to the full length of my fragile masculine confidence but….) perhaps the smell of spruce. I thought of the Spruce Goose to allow a sense of maleness to return.

My wife prefers alcohol-based perfumes as opposed to whatever else one can base a perfume on. Ironic then how my wife hates it when I come home smelling of alcohol.

Am I amateurishly ignorant in being only able to identify the alcohol smell of the perfume? Well yes, but no more stymied than my wife trying to explain the off sides rule or something as simple as the relationship between torque and horsepower. So when I get a good sniff of an alcohol-based perfume … being able to smell only the alcohol … I can state and identify without hesitation nor doubt … “Yep that’s perfume …that is … no doubt about it!

Remember though … in me … you are dealing with a man who thinks Walgreen’s is a great place to buy perfume.

In summation, Feminite Du Bois is subtle, slightly medicinal (the alcohol I suppose), about as ‘woodsy’ as George Bush’s policy on the interior and comes in a really cool-looking bottle. Still, I do plan to put some (ok …a LOT) on my left wrist tonight, before my wife comes to bed!

Posted by Paul, Author of "Deliverrants"

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Perfume Review: Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste

Cuir Améthyste is the newest addition to the Armani Privé collection of fragrances, which also includes Ambre Soie, Bois d’Encens, Eau de Jade and Pierre de Lune. It is a warm, velvety blend that smells somewhat like a cross between Bois de Violette and Daim Blond, only more understated, less distinct, and less interesting than either.

After the initial sumptuous and spicy accord of coriander and citrus subsides, the fragrance does not undergo much development on my skin. The predominant note is violet, accompanied by soft, sweet woods and amber, with a discreet (much too discreet for my taste) hint of suede. I realize that this is going to be one of my shortest reviews yet, but I find myself unable to find much more to comment on. If the leather note here were more prominent and the “silver birch” note more distinct, if there were less vanilla, this fragrance might have had more character, more life in it. As it is, Cuir Améthyste is a fairly sweet, rather powdery scent, which stays close to the skin, is smooth, well blended and tasteful. It also lacks any sort of “oomph”, does not have much depth, and, although pleasant and elegant, is rather boring.

If someone was kind enough to give it to me as I gift, I would have undoubtedly worn it with pleasure. I will not however be buying Cuir Améthyste myself. According to Bois de Jasmin, Cuir Améthyste will be released in the US in April-May. I assume it would cost $185.00 for 50ml like the rest of Armani Privé scents.

*The image is from

Patty, March and Marina Do Blind Testing. The First Installment.

A couple of weeks ago Patty had a brilliant idea to do a blind fragrance testing. The three of us sent each other several mystery samples to be tested and commented upon. Please read March's Big Reveal on Perfume Posse.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Perfume Review: Guerlain Djedi

Miracles do happen. One gloomy Monday you go to get your unexciting post and there is a surprise package in your mailbox. In the package is a sample of a fragrance so rare and so expensive, you thought you would never get to try it. When you crack open the vial, your hands tremble ever so slightly. You sniff reverently, gingerly…You have heard it was a “tremendous animalic vetiver” (Luca Turin), “the driest perfume of all time” (Roja Dove)… It smells dark and mysterious. Scent of something or someone eternal, complex, incomprehensible, of a twilight place beyond good and evil. Thus smelled Zarathustra.

It is not clear from the information I was able to find on the web, when exactly Djedi was created. Some sources say, in 1905, some in 1926, some in 1927. If one article is to be believed, Djedi was re-launched in 1996 to celebrate its 70th anniversary, so perhaps 1926 was indeed the year of the first release. Originally created by Jacques Guerlain, the perfume’s list of notes supposedly includes rose, vetiver, musk, oakmoss, leather, civet and patchouli. As for the name, it might have been named after a mythical Egyptian magician Djedi who could bring the dead back to life. (More information and / or corrections are very welcome.)

The first whiff of Djedi is wondrously pungent. It is green and earthy, like some magical root dug up from the jet-black soil in a sinister forest. As the scent evolves, the vetiver note remains as green and peppery as it was in the beginning, and the patchouli note grows stronger. I do not smell any rose here and practically no leather. The musk is very subdued as well, making the patchouli note almost solely responsible for the animalic quality of Djedi. The drydown is herbal and dry, although on my skin, it is not nearly as dry as Roja Dove suggests; there is a certain "natural", very subtle sweetness here, the way juice squeezed from a wild, green plant might be sweet. At this point Djedi smells bizarrely like sorrel borscht my mother tried to force me to eat when I was a child (it smelled much better than it tasted). All in all, Djedi is a rather austere, elegant, supremely blended composition that smells quite unlike any other Guerlain I have ever tried. While testing it, I kept catching myself thinking rather irrationally that it was a Lutens scent. Djedi has that Lutenesque dark strangeness about it; it sucks the wearer into its dusky enchanted world the way the most interesting Lutens scents do.

As far as I understand, when Djedi was re-released in 1996, only 1000 bottles were to be sold, each a stunning, numbered Lalique creation. Right now Djedi is sometimes auctioned on eBay; most recently a bottle was sold for over $500.00.

Many, many thanks to the wonderfully generous Judith for this incredible surprise.

*The photo of the bottle is from The image, Dark Forest by John Skwiot, is from

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Monday, April 03, 2006

Perfume Review: The Different Company Jasmine de Nuit

I am very excited about The Different Company’s new fragrance, Sel de Vetiver. For some reason I am convinced that it is going to be wonderful. Meanwhile, while waiting to sample it, I am enjoying Jasmine de Nuit, my so far most favorite scent by The Different Company. Jasmine de Nuit was created by Céline Ellena and features the notes of jasmine, star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, sandalwood and amber. To me, the name of the scent is somewhat of a misnomer, because after the initial wonderfully indolic jasmine blast, the title note becomes very subdued, if not entirely absent, on my skin. This is not a complaint, however, because I love cardamom and cinnamon much more than I love jasmine, and the spices, especially cardamom, are prominent enough here to make me very happy indeed.

As I mentioned above, the beginning of the scent is intense and indolic. Paired with the sweetly spicy cardamom, that “dirty” jasmine note is absolutely stunning. I adore the start of the Jasmine de Nuit so much, I would have loved for the scent to stay the same, rich, dark and sensual, way, and forego the middle and the base notes. Not that I mind the way the fragrance does develop. When the top notes subside, Jasmine de Nuit becomes a supremely elegant, softly floral scent. Despite the fact that the list of notes only includes one flower, jasmine, my nose smells (or imagines that it smells) more. For example there is a certain delicately powdery quality to the middle stage of Jasmine de Nuit that reminds me of heliotrope. The sweetness of the floral accord makes me think of roses. In a little while the spices return and the flowers fade. The drydown of Jasmine de Nuit is delightful, the spices are warm, the amber is richly dark, and the sandalwood is sweet and velvety. All in all, I find Jasmine de Nuit to be extremely enjoyable and it is undoubtedly full bottle worthy for me.

Jasmine de Nuit can be found on, €39.00-350.00, depending on the size and the fanciness of the bottle. 90ml Eau de Toilette Spray is right now also available at Lusciouscargo, for $120.00.

*The image is from

New Etro Fragrance

According to Cosmeticnews, Etro is going to launch a new scent at this year's Cosmoprof exhibition (Bologna, Italy, April 7-10). The fragrance, which name remains a secret, will be the first perfume launch for Etro in two years. Created by Robertet, it is said to be a spicy-floral over an oriental base.

The Scent of Peace by Bond No 9

According to Bond No 9 founder Laurice Rahme, The Scent of Peace "was the most difficult fragrance to make,” because "it had to have global appeal.” (Cosmeticnews) The unisex Eau de Parfum, created by Michel Almairac (Robertet), features notes of grapefruit, black currant and lily of the valley. It comes in Bond No. 9 signature star bottle, decorated with a dove, and will cost $195. It launches in the US in May and worldwide in June. For the first year, Bond No 9 will donate $2 to UNICEF for every bottle purchased. (Cosmeticnews)