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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Colombina's Little Perfumery of Horror

Welcome to Colombina’s Little Perfumery of Horror! Enter if you dare and behold the scents that are as terrifying as they are magnificent. Created on the premises by Madame Grenouille herself, our fragrances are crafted from only supernatural ingredients. Today, I would like to introduce you to our Private Collection of scents that were originally created for our most (in)famous clients and only recently became available for the mere mortals.

Dracula. Perfume Never Dies or Smell Like Me And Live Forever. This is the scent for those who suffer from eternal hunger and believe in everlasting love. Notes: dark-red Transylvanian roses, leather, orthodox incense, absinthe, patchouli, vetiver, blood of an English virgin of noble birth (a rare, rare thing!), and aspen. This fragrance can be purchased in a set with De Pointe Du Lac, an absolute of cajun and creole spices. Layer Darcula and Du Lac and you will get Lestat Le Parfum.

Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Brilliant. Cunning. Psychotic scent. For the connosieurs and the erudites. Notes: old books, leather, musk, nice Chianti, fava beans, liver and Ray Liotta’s brain. Wear it when having an old friend for dinner.

Saruman et Sauron. One Scent To Rule Them All. A great deal, two villains in one bottle! Notes: the earth of Isengard, the water of River Isen, the essence of the Mines of Moria, man-flesh, orc-skank, hobit-hair, elf-blood, darkness of Khazad-dum... shadow and flame.

Samara Morgan. Before you die, you smell the scent. For disgruntled demonic children everywhere. Notes: Seattle rain, red-leafed trees, horses, videotapes and water from a well.

Regan MacNeil aka Satan aka Pazuzu. Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another scent. The scent of darkness. The scent with the devil inside. Another fragrance for your previously sweet and now rather possessed little one. Notes: sugar and spice and everything evil; holy water, a fair amount of vomit. The side effects of wearing the scent might include abnormal strength, accelerated motor performance, levitation, talking in tongues and a mild case of split personality.

Daryl Van Horne. Something wicked this way smells. A mysterious, flamboyant perfume for all the average, horny little devils out there. Notes: cherries, ice cream, sperm, Cher’s hair, Pfeiffer’s eyes, Sarandon’s bosoms.

Dorian Gray. The scent of vanity and depravity. Notes: narcissus, leather, old attic, oil paints. The wearer of this magical elixir will remain eternally young and will be able to get away with murder. Literally. Unfortunately the scent itself would become increasingly vile and end up smelling unspeakably despicable. This is the perfume for those who know that there's only one way to get rid of temptation, and that's to yield to it.

Happy Halloween everybody!

Monday, October 30, 2006

More Parfumerie Generale scents coming to Luckyscent

Luckyscent added three more Parfumerie Generale scents to their site, Brulure de Rose (yay!), Musc Maori (double yay!) and L'Eau du Circe. The fragrances are available to preorder for delivery in late November. $80.00 for 50ml. Sometimes one's wishes are granted. :-)

Perfume Review: i Profumi di Firenze Mirra, Incenso and Cuoio di Russia

i Profumi di Firenze is an astoundingly prolific line that lists over forty fragrances on their site and apparently has many more available in their store in Florence. About thirty of their scents are sold in the States, and, as far as I am concerned, not the most exciting ones. How many variously numbered Florentias does one need, when there are many other more seemingly exciting fragrances available, like Russian Leather, Desert Jasmine, Bitter Wood, Red Patchouly, Incenso, just to name a few. Mirra, a new scent that is being added to the line in the US, is one of the i Profumi di Firenze fragrances that I always hoped would be sold here. Featuring Ethiopian myrrh, incense, wood and vanilla, this is a warm, cuddly, delicately powdery, sweet scent. If rich brown velvet ornamented with gold had its olfactory equivalent, this would be it. Mirra is sumptuous but not heady, comfortingly sweet but not cloying. It is not particularly complex, mostly I smell languid, honeyed myrrh and quite a bit of vanilla, but it smells plush, it is smoothly blended and overall is a very attractive scent indeed. The only thing I would say against it is that it has rather poor lasting power on my skin.

Thanks to the kindness of a wonderful fellow perfume addict, I got to sample two more I Profumi di Firenze scents not (yet?) available in the US. Incenso is interesting to me, because, unlike many incense-heavy scents, although it most definitely smells “churchy”, it is neither melancholy nor “dark”. This is a scent of a church at Christmas time, brightly lit with candles, ornamented with colorful red, green and gold wreaths, full of rejoicing and festive spirit. I smell a very strong woody-balsamic note here, so the church in question is freshly built of pine. Like most i Profumi di Firenze scent, Incenso does not have a complex composition, but it smells wonderful. I wish a bottle was waiting for me underneath a Christmas tree this year.

Russian Leather aka Cuoio di Russia is the “non-export” i Profumi di Firenze scent I wanted to try the most. Ironically, it was the one that I liked the least. It has a very nice citrusy beginning that is “candied” in the same way that the citrus accord in L.T. Piver’s Cuir de Russie is candied, which is a quality I like. The leather is fairly smoky. There is even a certain incensey undertone that is certainly attractive. But on the whole the blend seems to be a little watery, a little pale, not intense and rich enough. Still, it is more interesting to me than the numerous florals that the line exports to the States, and if it was sold here, I would have probably bought it.

Finally, I wanted to address the question of the price of i Profumi di Firenze scents. On the iPdF site ( they are sold for…wait for it…€18.00, which is about $23.00. In the States, however, the price is $79.00. You do the math. And yes, I know that the profit must be made, but what other line is sold for almost four times of its “domestic” price? Ridiculous. Still, since Dr. Di Massimo refuses to sell online to the American customers, I suppose we will just have to grin and bear and keep paying these inflated prices.

Mirra is available on, $79.00 for 50ml.

The image is from

Friday, October 27, 2006

Perfume Review: Le Labo Tubereuse 40

I did not want to like Tubereuse 40 at all, just as a matter of principle. It is a first in a series of future Le Labo scents that would be specific to only one location. Tubereuse 40 is specific to New York and can only be purchased at the Le Labo boutique there (sort of like Lutens' "exclusive" concept taken to absolute extreme; only in the case of non-export bell jars, at least the rest of Europe can still purchase them online). Don’t try to order the new Le Labo fragrance over the phone or online. You have to physically be there to be able to part with your hard-earned $230-$360. And if you are in Rio de Janeiro or Vladivostok? Well, apparently Le Labo is “nostalgic of the days where brands and their soul offered authenticity that deserved that little extra travel commitment”. The city-specific fragrances is Le Labo’s “own little contribution to the fight against globalization”. Isn’t it one of the most attractive qualities of perfume that it is a luxury that one can more or less afford? I can’t buy couture clothes, but I can once in a while treat myself to a bottle of something fabulously glamorous. But when a brand forces me to pay the cost of “that little extra travel commitment”, what it is essentially doing is robbing me of the one small luxury I could previously enjoy. And all this somewhat nonsensical, rather obnoxiously elitist concept presented in terms of the fight against globalization quite frankly raises my hackles. If there is one thing that I hate, it is when "politics" is brought into perfume (MoslBuddWhatever, anyone?). They say, revolution, they say, unconventional. I say, pretentious and annoying.

So, yes, I was a little prejudiced against Tubereuse 40. But its beauty broke through the gloomy cloud of my bias like a ray of proverbial sunshine. This is the essence of summer, bottled. Created by Alberto Morillas, the scent was meant to be “a non-heady Tubereuse shaped around citruses and musks that give it an unexpected unisex “eau de cologne” identity despite its impressive 30% dosage of oil in alcohol.” That means that the fragrance has the general feel of cologne but wears like a sumptuous, rich eau de parfum. It is lush, substantial and exceptionally long-lasting on my skin. The top notes of Tubereuse 40 have a slightly chilly, almost mentholated quality that makes the composition immediately uplifting. The citruses are succulent and fresh. Fresh as in freshly picked and freshly squeezed. Lemons, mandarins, bitter oranges are ripe, bursting with juices, their mouthwatering tangy-ness highlighted by the presence of a delicate herbal accord. The orange blossoms, which start to flourish in the heart of the scent, are bright and poignantly summery, their sunny frailty underscored by a gentle mimosa note and beautiful, soft jasmine. Tubereuse 40 is youthful, joyful, lively. It is an olfactory equivalent of sunshine.

And now I am coming to the question of tuberose, which I tried to avoid as long as possible, simply because I don’t know how to account for the absence of the title note on my skin. But the truth is, as far my nose is concerned, there is no tuberose in Tubereuse 40. Or there is so little of it that it is lost under the gorgeous lusciousness of citrus fruits, orange blossom and jasmine. My very humble theory is as follows: like seemingly patchouli-less Patchouli 24 was meant to evoke the dark, velvety essence of patchouli without actually smelling like patchouli, so Tubereuse 40 is not a realistic representation, but an artist’s abstract idea of the flower. This is a portrait of tuberose in its youth, drawn using the brightest of colors, mostly yellows in all possible shades. ...Or to be completely honest, I really have no idea why the scent named after tuberose would not smell like tuberose, not even non-heady tuberose. And I don’t really care. I am not even that big a fan of tuberose. Despite the mystery of the name and the irritating concept, I love this scent. It is going to brighten the dreary winter days ahead like few perfumes can. It will help to transport me from the miserable cold reality to an imaginable place, somewhere in the South of France, where I am carefree and tanned, in a white cotton dress, sitting in a chaise longue, sunshine hot on my face, enveloping my skin, chasing away the cold from my bones…

As I mentioned above, Tubereuse 40 costs $230.00 (50ml)-$360.00 USD (100ml), or $90 for 1/2oz (thank you, Judith!). And that is not counting “that little extra” expense of traveling to NYC.
The first image is from The second from

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hold Your Nez, Part Deux

Review by Tom

Last time I reviewed 5 of La Nez's scents, this time I will review the other 5 in the pack:

Fôret de Bécharré:

Starts off smelling rather, well, elderly. It's very soft, still sweet, but has some amber in there. I get some very vague citrus note, but it seems that there is a lot in there than kind of cancels each other out like an acid and a base. It's nice, but I wouldn't go out my way to get it.

Rosier Ardent:

I wanted to write "well now we're takling!", since there is a great initial blast of cumin, cardamom and cedar in this one. Sadly, that fades and it goes all cinnamon sweetness, like something that you'd hang from your car's rearview mirror for the holidays. Damn.

Atelier D’Artiste:

Starts off with a really nice vetiver/tobacco thing, then goes suddenly, horrifyingly sweet, with something that smells to me like menthol. Like the scene in "The Shining" when Jack finds the woman in room 227. Run!!!

Actually, this one dries down to the best of the bunch, just not good enough to go through getting it from France.

Marron Chic:

Another one that lists about 24 different notes in it, none of which I can discern. What I get is the smell of Tempera paints. It however is heavenly compared to:

Bouche Baie:

Starts off with a blast of sweetness that goes beyond cotton-candy into, I don't know what- an industrial sweetness that men in lab coats would add using an eye-dropper (and dressed in hazmat suits) to large vats that eventually be made into children's cereal. After a few minutes, it drops down to merely diabetic coma.

I really don't enjoy dogging a house this way (although from the writing you might get the idea that I do), and if you like candy-sweetness, perhaps these will be just up your alley. I find that the sweetness in these is rather industrial smelling; more than a few of them remind me of cereals that my parents wouldn't have in the house. I find it surprising that a French house did these. They not only don't smell what I think of as French, they smell like something Dow would put out. Or Mattell. Adding the loooooong shipping time, lack of communication on the shippers
part (emails were not returned; I wasn't concerned about $15 worth of samples, but I'd be more concerned about a 79 EU bottle), and shockingly shoddy packaging, I'm afraid that I can't say anything much nice about the house or the experience. The scents are priced as mentioned above for 3.4 oz at their website, if you dare.
The images are from

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Perfume Review: LesNez The Unicorn Spell

According to René Schifferle, the idea behind The Unicorn Spell was that of “frostiness, violet, moonlight and transparency”. Somewhat contrary to that, I find this fragrance appealingly “substantial” and see it in vivid colors. It is predominantly purple, ornamented with luscious green in the beginning, bejeweled with lush dark-pink in the middle notes and enriched by the luxuriant brown in the drydown. The sweetly poetic name conceals the scent that is actually rather “dark”. The enchanted forest where unicorns dwell is full of black magic and hidden dangers.

I would position The Unicorn Spell in the happy middle between the dry elegance of Violette Precieuse and the woody sweetness of Bois de Violette. It is has a hint of the cold austerity of the former and that of an almost gourmand feel of the latter. It is more of a violet “soliflore” than either. Usually, violet soliflores bore me to tears; they are too dainty for me. This one, however, is a wonderful exception. It is sumptuous, at times almost creamy, not in the least powdery and has a very satisfying “solid” feel about it. As René pointed out yesterday, this is not a “perfume for sweet little girls”.

The violet is undoubtedly a queen here; it rules and dominates the composition. The other notes are there to compliment and enhance but never to obscure Her Majesty. They come to pass in the background, highlighting the beauty of the star note. The succulent and cold green top notes outfit the purple queen in a velvet gown the color of the charmed forest. The vaguely berry-like accord in the middle brightens her dress with glittering gems. The subtle woodiness of the drydown envelops her in a soft cloak dyed the brown of tree bark ... I smell some vanilla in the drydown, and it is this note that adds cashmere-like cuddliness to the base, making it somewhat reminiscent of the fluffy woodiness of Bois d'Argent. I am spellbound (pun shamelessly intended) by this beautiful, soulful composition.

The Unicorn Spell is sold at, for approximately $68.00-$125.00 for regular bottles or $300.00 for the limited edition bottle encased in a sculpture by Gillian White (pictured).

The photo of the bottle is from, the painting is The Gate by Christophe Vacher.

Tomorrow, Part Deux of Tom's fearless exploration of an entirely different Nez- Nez a Nez line.

Want!...But can't have...Juozas Statkevicius Eau de Parfum

This is not a new release, but I have only just heard about this seemingly amazing scent, Juozas Statkevicius Eau de Parfum by Juozas Statkevičius (Josef Statkus), a Lithuanian fashion designer. Just look at the bottle!

Just look at the ad! (With this kind of ad they could seel me anything, even Cool Water)

Just read the description! (Red Alert for all the lovers of incense! I repeat, Red Alert!) :

Incense is at the very heart of this composition. It embodies contrasts such as shadow and light, past and modernity, simplicity and complexity, power and softness. These paradoxes make it one of the most difficult elements to master in perfume creation, as the perfect harmony can only be reached with infinitely subtle balances.

By creating a precious case of white jasmine, patchouli, and coriander around the incense, Fabrice Pellegrin allowed it to reveal its true beauty, without appearing too dark, too dense or too austere. Vanilla, Benjoin, and Muscs also contribute, thanks to their lusciousness and modernity, to tame the incense and let it fully express its ambery and warm notes.

Cashmere wood and coriander bring a noble character and subtly enhance this indulgent and unique combination, for an intense, authentic and lasting impression. (From

Do you understand now why I am so desperate to try this?! Unfortunately, Juozas Statkevicius EDP is only apparently sold in Lithuania... Oh woe is me.

Parfumerie Generale Scents at Luckyscent

The day has come. Parfumerie Generale fragrances have landed on American soil, namely at The store offers ten scents: Aomassai, Coze, Cuir Venenum, Harmatan Noir, Hyperessence Matale, Ilang Ivohibe, Intrigant Patchouli, Iris Taizo, L'eau Rare Matale, and Yuzu Ab Irato. I am rather sad that they don't sell Brulure de Rose and Musc Maori. I think that the latter would have been especially popular. I know I would have bought it straightaway. The scents cost $75.00-$80.00 for 50ml.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Interview with Rene Schifferle, the creator of LesNez

LesNez is an exciting new line from Switzerland, created by René Schifferle, a perfume lover who, after a long hard look at the things on the market, decided that “some really different perfumes were missing”. In fact, when asked his opinion about the perfume industry today, René mentions John Cleese’s famous Dead Parrot sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus. …” It's not pinin', it's passed on! This parrot is no more! It has ceased to be!”… And although he would hate to come across as boastful and bragging, Schifferle believes that the three LesNez perfumes, The Unicorn Spell, Let Me Play The Lion, and L’Animatiere, are going to be “the kiss of life”.

Can you please tell us a little about your background? How did you become interested in perfumery? What made you decide to start your own collection?

I come from furniture and woodwork. This may sound very far from perfumery, but someone who works with wood also works with his nose, this must have been in me from birth. My first encounter with perfumes was in the sixties when my mother had a sensible business idea. The company took part in a trade-show every year. The customers where given a little present to say thank you for the visit. The customary presents were bottles of liquor or chocolates. My mother thought it a nice touch to give the gentlemen something to bring home to their wives: a perfume. We (the kids) where smelling of Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps for weeks and a year later of Cabochard. That was probably the moment when I decided, unconsciously, that there is no "gender" in perfumery. You like it or you don't. It’s a question of personal taste.

The decision to do something in perfumery came in 2003 when we had a problem of odor in the workshop.

We started to treat our wooden tables with linseed oil in order to give our customers an ecological option for the surface treatment. Everybody thought the stuff smelled bad. Someone suggested I try something with perfume (you have hundreds of them can't you think of something?) The operation failed miserably. After experimenting with a lavender cologne and an enfleurage chaude (vanilla and some spices) I gave up. It probably had to do with my enfleurage technique (I cooked the ingredients in the oil) as the whole thing now really stank. I gave up but started to re-explore perfumes (after a pause of almost 15 years). The things on the market where not very interesting. At one point in time I thought that some really different perfumes where missing. Why not do it? From "Niche" to "Avant-garde". Confirmation came in October 2004 when I read comments from the world perfumery Congress in Cannes. The speakers had said things like: "We are making the equivalent of elevator music for the nose - Where's the overdose? - We need a renaissance ". In short, something goes wrong in perfumery. With the birth of the "perfume critic" - as opposed to the "PR-material-cut-and-paster" maybe LesNez could have a chance.

Why “LesNez”? What’s behind the name?

Here is what I found in the French Wikipedia edition on Nez. "Nose": “In perfumery the "nose" is a person who prepares mixtures of essences to create a perfume. It’s a profession. In the kingdom of odors he is king". LesNez means The Noses indicating that the perfumers are king in our house.

With his business idea Mr. Frederic Malle has shown us the way. Let the perfumer create the most interesting and best perfume he can dream up - reduce the number of people involved in the process. Bookkeepers, evaluators, PR and advertisement people, stockholders designers, and everybody who suffers from an overblown ego ... please leave the room. The result may, in our case, look slightly amateurish on the business side - as it’s done on a shoestring budget. But the magic is inside the bottle.

Tell us about your collaboration with Isabelle Doyen, how did it start?

To find an independent perfumer who has creative potential was almost impossible for me. The world of perfumery is small and most perfumers work for the big companies. I wrote to Luca Turin for advice and after a few months of mailing him my outsider’s questions he was probably fed up and rang Isabelle Doyen to ask if she would be interested in working on a small project. We met in Paris in her small laboratoire a week later and she decided that we should give it a go.
As even the most creative perfumer doesn't work in an "Ivory Tower" there has been a constant dialogue, frequent visits to Paris (another love story) and the occasional discussion with an outside expert.

I love the poetic names of LesNez fragrances. What inspired them? What came first, the scents or the names? In other words, did you think, I love how “The Unicorn Spell” sounds; let’s create a scent that smells like that. Or was the scent first created and the way it smelled made you come up with the name?

This is a question which must be answered individually for all three perfumes.

"L'Antimatière" is Isabelle’s from start to finish. The name had somehow grown together with the fragrance and there was no discussion about it.

"Let me play the lion" came from me. It was constructed to be a Perfume more “for men" and I wanted to make fun of our over-masculine behavior, which can vanish in the presence of a beautiful woman. The scene in Midsummer-nights' Dream illustrated this so well that we decided the name is ok. As the name was fixed very early, I suspect Isabelle took the lion as a reason to give the perfume an additional aspect of warmth, which, to my delight, puts it on a collision course to the currently fashionable "Aquatic" perfumes.

"The Unicorn Spell" was very difficult. The decision was taken only two weeks before it was presented. We have discussed many perfectly good names up to that point but couldn't come up with the perfect one. Our Friday telephone calls became progressively more difficult as Isabelle had this Idea of frostiness, violet, moonlight and transparency. Someone had already proposed "La fata turquina", the blue fairy from Pinocchio, and "Tainted Glass". My ideas where more along the "strong girl" side, as this is not a perfume for sweet little girls. "Madame Daemon", a painting by Paul Klee which I had seen in the spring. And many more. But just before the whole of France retires for the annual vacation month (August) Isabelle came up with the "Licorne", a very poetic animal. I thought that the English word "Unicorn" was not as poetic as the French and it was almost dropped. On vacation Isabelle visited a friend who translates books from English to French. That was it.

Are there any notes or smells that you love? Are there any that you dislike?

I have no particular dislikes. Maybe too much patchouli. But scents and perfumes are an important part of my world. Wood, grass, even the smell of cows or burning potato plants is fixed as childhood memory from the time we spent time with the local farmers as kids.

Among the three Les Nez scents, is there one that especially speaks to you?

L'Antimatière has a secret which we have not been able to decode. The reactions are of a great variety and every person brings in new ideas. The latest idea was that it could be used by psychoanalysts to help patients unlock their past as it provoked memories of cuddling up with the parents in bed.

What about perfumes from other lines? Are there any you like and wear? Is there a perfume line or a perfume house that you admire?

Whoever starts out in a venture in perfumery must love perfumes. I love some classic perfumes like Jicky or Tabac Blond by Caron, which, for me, is Sex in a bottle. There are some classic perfumes like Caron Pour Un Homme and English things like the fresh and uplifting idea of Fern you find there. From the modern perfumes I like Bois de Violette which is by Chris Sheldrake, I think, and from last year the new Dior Homme, which is very "Innovateur" for a big company.

What’s in the future for LesNez? Will you be adding new scents to your line? Do I understand it right that you plan on working with other perfumers apart from Doyen? Can you tell us who they might be?

We'll try to take the analogy with a publishing house a little further and add new perfumers to the stable but this is not a priority at the moment. The contacts are there but no perfume project. The business side comes first as it will have to pay for any adventure we could undertake in the future. I think our "indie-concept" can result in a "win-win situation" for perfumers, the companies they work for and ourselves. But I'm getting ahead of myself here, let’s take one step at a time.

LesNez fragrances are available on

Tomorrow, please come back for the review of The Unicorn Spell.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Online Shopping Discovery- Crown Perfumery at Parfum1

Parfum1 has in stock five Crown Perfumery scents at a great price ($20.95-$28.95): Crown Bouquet, Malabar, Park Royal, Spiced Limes, Tanglewood Bouquet. Of course, they don't carry the one I am looking for, Eau de Russe. Oh well.

Perfume Review: Hermes Paprika Brasil

I search for subtility, presence, and transparence”, said Jean-Claude Ellena in the interview with Straight. There is a fine line between understated and bland; on the “right side” of the divide are the scents that are tantalizingly elusive, alluringly subtle, fascinatingly minimalist. Many of Ellena’s creations dwell in that rarified land of what Forbes has called “perfumer’s perfumes”. There you would find the delicate and bright Angelique Sous La Pluie, the subtle and surprisingly substantial L’Eau d’Hiver, the uncluttered and strangely concrete Terre d’Hermes. On the wrong side are fragrances, which are subtle and transparent but lack presence, which have the unfussy minimalist quality but no sparkle, no twist, no life…They possess an incomplete, abandoned feel of a draft. And that is, sadly, how Paprika Brasil smells on my skin, too subtle, flat and oddly unfinished.

Paprika Brasil is the latest addition to the Hermessence collection of “olfactory poems”; it has notes of pimento, clove, paprika, iris, green leaves, reseda and ember wood (brazilwood, which was “such a large part of the exports and economy of the land that the country which sprang up in that part of the world took its name from them [brazilwood trees] and is now called Brazil. Wikipedia). The spicy notes bear a promise of a scent that is red-hot, fiery, supremely piquant, but Paprika Brasil is much more tame then what the presence of pimento, paprika and clove might suggest. It starts green and dry, making me think of twigs and indeed green leaves. A delicate spicy accord is woven into that greenness, it grows stronger as the scent develops but is always kept in check by the leaves and the wood and the cool earthiness of iris (which is very apparent on my skin). The spice that I smell here is mostly pimento and it is a beautiful note, crimson, dry and appealingly sharp; it saddens me that this attractive piquancy was not allowed to be more prominent. No, I don’t want a scent where other notes are overwhelmed by the spices, but neither do I like the idea of a scent where the spices are beaten into submission by the rather pale and unexciting rest of the ingredients. Dusty-green, too dry, too delicate, dull and fleeting, Paprika Brasil was a bitter disappointment for this fan of the other five scents in the Hermessence series.

Paprika Brasil should be already available at Hermes boutiques, $180.00 for 100ml.

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Friday, October 20, 2006

My Favorites

Another Friday, another blog entry that isn’t a proper perfume review. This time for you amusement (heh), Ina of Aromascope and I present to you lists of our favorites sorted by perfume houses with no more than 5 scents per house. Not all of these are “holy grail” fragrances, but they certainly are the ones we love or at least like very much. To see Ina’s List, please go to Aromascope.

By the end of this post (provided you are still awake then) you will know pretty much everything about my taste in perfume and about the contents of my fragrance wardrobe. It would be only fair if you let me enjoy perusing the list of your favorites. Please feel free to list as many as you like in the comments section and have a great weekend!

In alphabetical order:

Agent Provocateur
1.Eau Emotionnelle


Andy Taeur
1.Le Maroc Pour Elle
2.Lonestar Memories


Annick Goutal
2.Eau d’Hadrien
4.Eau du Fier

Bond No 9
2.West Broadway

1.Eau de Reglisse
3.Parfum Sacre
4.Poivre / Coup de Foeut

1.Bois des Iles
2.Chanel No 19
3.Chanel No 22
4. Cuir de Russie

Christian Dior
(being a self-confessed Dior Ho, it is hard to stay within the 5-scents limit)
1.Bois d’Argent
6 (the rules are there to be broken). Miss Dior

Comme des Garcons

1.Angelique Encens

Crown Perfumery
1.Eau de Russe

1.Bois de Paradis

Donna Karan

Eau d’Italie / La Sirenuse
1.Paestum Rose

Estee Lauder
1.White Linen Breeze (yes, really!)

1.Messe de Minuit

Farina Gegenuber and/or Parfums Regence
1.Kolnisch Juchten

Fifi Chachnil
1.Fifi Chachnil

Frederic Malle
1.Le Parfum de Therese
2.Musc Ravageur
3.Noir Epices

Giorgio Armani
1.Pierre de Lune

1.L’Interdit (vintage)
2.Oblique Rewind
3.Organza Indecence

1.L’Arte di Gucci

1.Atrape-Coeur / Guet-Apens
2.Bois d’Armenie

1.Ambre Narguile
3.Parfum des Merveilles
4.Poivre Samarcande
5.Vetiver Tonka

Jean Desprez
1.Bal a Versailles

Jean Patou
2.Adieu Sagesse
4.L’Heure Attendue
5.Que Sais-Je

Jo Malone
1.Blue Agava & Cacao
2.Nectarine Blossom & Honey
3. Pomegranate Noir

1.Knize Ten

1.Le Parfum

3.Magie (the old one)
4.Magie Noire

1.My Sin
3.Rumeur (vintage, not the “impostor”)

3.Fleur de Narcisse
4.L’Eau du Navigateur
5.Orchidee Blanche
6 (haha!) Safran Troublant

Le Labo
1.Labdanum 18 aka Ciste 18
2.Patchouli 24
3.Rose 31
4.Vetiver 46

Les Parfums de Rosine
1.Rose d’Homme
2.Rosa Flamenca
3.Twill Rose
4.Une Folie de Rose

Lolita Lempicka
1.L de Lempicka

Lorenzo Villoresi
1.Piper Nigrum

L.T. Piver
1.Cuir de Russie


Lulu Beauty

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier
2.Fleur des Comores
3.Iris Bleu Gris
4.Or des Indes

Matthew Williamson

Miller Harris
1.L’Air de Rien
2.Rose en Noir
3.Vetiver Bourbon

Mona di Orio
1.Nuit Noire

1.Jasmin Full
2.Oud Cuir d’Arabie
3.Vetiver des Sables

Norma Kamali

Ormonde Jayne
1.Ormonde Woman (and Man)

Parfum d'Empire
1.Ambre Russe
2.Cuir Ottoman

Parfumerie Generale
3.Cuir Venenum
4.Iris Taizo
5.Musc Maori

Parfums de Nicolai
1.New York
2.Vie de Chateau

Parfums d’Orsay
1.Le Dandy

Red Flower
1.Hammam Cardamom & Amber

Rich Hippie
2.Rich Hippie

1.Madame Rochas

Santa Maria Novella
1.Citta di Kyoto

Serge Lutens
1.Bois et Fruits
2.Daim Blond
3.Iris Silver Mist
4.Muscs Koublai Khan
5.Rose de Nuit

1.Feminite du Bois
4.Message from Orchids
5.Nombre Noir

1. 100% Love / 100% Love More

Strange Invisible Perfumes
1.Black Rosette

Tann Rokka

Viktor & Rolf
1.Flowerbomb Extreme


Yves Rocher
1.Voile d’Ambre ( I kid you not)

Yves Saint Laurent

The first image, the one meant to represent Ina and I, is by Jason Brooks.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hold Your Nez, Part 1

Review by Tom

Nez a Nez

I blame Aromascope for ordering this one (well, blame is waaaay strong a word). The samples are amply sized and quite cheap, I think it was about 15 dollars for all of them. I don't remember exactly, since I feel like I placed the order sometime in 1967. Shipping took FOREVER, and the packaging was wholly inadequate for sending anything as delicate as 10 glass vials. I was lucky that mine arrived intact, others have reported theirs have not. As you know, Colombina loathed these, I'm too cheap not to delve into all of them, and too attention starved not to make you all sit through it. (tee hee)

Figues & Garçons: Well. Figs and boys. Frankly, I'm not big on either. I prefer dates and Men (bad-uhmpum, he's here all day folks! Tip your waiter!!) Oddly I don't really get figs, or boys. I get a rather clean green scent that reminds me of Fresh Index Cucumber Baie. It's sweeter than Cucumber Baie, and that's not necessarily a good thing.

1001 Figues: Cotton candy sweetness mixed with suntan lotion, that actually gets rather interesting. Something green and peppery comes in, and slightly bitter, but not figgy at all. It's a mess. An intersting mess, but still a mess.

Vanithé: More cotton candy. Listed as having ingredients like tonka beans, verbena and rosemary. Might as well add pixie dust and everything nice. Ghastly.

Ambre a Sade: Moving on to Fruity Pebbles. Complete with milk. Milk and skank. Breakfast with Paris Hilton, the day after. Ugh. Makes Vanithé look like Bandit.

Bal Musque:
A nice light leather, with musk. A bit of rose, a bit of vanilla. Hardly the stankiest of the stank, but the one I like best so far.

Next time: the rest. I have to go scrub my wrist with Borax before I go into a sugar coma. Fruity Pebbles indeed....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Breaking News: Tubereuse 40, New Scent by Le Labo

Le Labo, New York based fragrance brand that opened its first store in March and which offers freshly hand made scents developed by some of the world’s most renowned noses, has just launched a New York exclusive scent called Tubereuse 40. Developed in partnership with Alberto Morillas, it is a non-heady Tubereuse shaped around citruses and musks that give it an unexpected unisex “eau de cologne” identity despite its impressive 30% dosage of oil in alcohol. As in all Le Labo’s fragrance names, the number to the right of the natural ingredient indicates the number of ingredients used in the perfume’s formula. The price is $230.00 for a 50ml and $360.00 USD for a 100ml. (From Le Labo press release)

Perfume Review: Les Parfums de Rosine Twill Rose

Twill Rose, the new fragrance by Les Parfums de Rosine, is said to have been inspired by “the silky softness of twill and the tie – the undisputed symbol of masculine elegance”. That rather strange inspiration aside, Twill Rose is yet another excellent –and entirely unisex! – “masculine” rose from the line, which, as far as I am concerned, has yet to put a foot wrong.

The marvelously earthy beginning of the scent evokes an image of a wild rose breaking through the wet soil of an abandoned garden. It is not nearly as dark and patchouli-laden as L’Artisan’s “Graveyard Rose”, Voleur de Roses. The cold and earthy accord in Twill Rose makes me think simultaneously of the “boiled courgette” aspect of the orange blossom in S-Perfume Sloth and that slightly awkward, cool, almost-rotting characteristic of iris in Iris Silver Mist that I adore.

As it progresses on my skin, Twill Rose grows warmer and sweeter. Our wild rose is ripening and unfolding its dark-red petals; it has a very slight candied feel that seems especially soft and lovely on the background of the dry woodiness and the cold earthiness of the scent. And as soon as the rose note reaches its apogee of sweetness and juiciness, it starts to dry and wilt. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, dark-red petals to the black soil…The smell of earth grows stronger, sharper, more poignant. The drydown, with its very attractive sandalwood-patchouli combo tells us about the impending winter, of loneliness and decay. And yet, brooding as it is, this is not a desolate scent. In the beautiful, melancholy gothicness of the drydown there is still a hint of the sweet rose, as a reminder that, just like spring and summer were not eternal, the misery and cold of fall and winter will not last forever either.

On my skin, Twill Rose combines the austere elegance and incredible softness; its floral notes are sweet and velvety. On a man (the only one I had to try it on, mind you), the earthiness and woodiness are amplified and the rose seems darker and richer. Wearing it turns the very non-dramatic and not in the least gothic Mr. Colombina into…

…a transformation this fan of Zeffirelli-Oldman's suave version of The Count finds very appealing.

Twill Rose is available at
First in Fragrance, €90.00 for 100ml.

The first image is from, the second, from

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Perfume Review: Miller et Bertaux Ref. 015 813 / Bois de Gaiac et Poire...Close Your Eyes And…

I am a big fan of Miller et Bertaux’s excellent, very Feminite-du-Bois-esque Parfum Trouve Eau de Parfum #1. I like Spiritus/Land Eau de Parfum #2 and Green, Green, Green...Eau de Parfum #3. The three scents are interesting, well composed and very wearable. Thus I had high hopes for the new Miller et Bertaux fragrance, the one with the longest name yet, Ref. 015 813 / Bois de Gaiac et Poire...Close Your Eyes And…I must admit that I had my doubts as to whether it will be to my taste; the “crisp pear” note worried me. As it turns out, pear was not a problem. The problem was…To put it bluntly, I thought the scent was boring and “indistinct”. It had a hazy, “shapeless”, strangely unfinished quality. It also reminded me of a dozen similar compositions.

You don’t have to like pear to appreciate Bois de Gaiac, but you do have to love heliotrope. The scent is overflowing with it; the heliotrope is there from start to finish, changing from being sweet, fruity and candied (that’s the pear, right there) in the beginning to the dry, vaguely woody (that’s gaiac wood; blink, and it is gone) in the middle, to the fluffy and vanillic in the drydown. The latter bears a striking resemblance to another hazy disappointment, Kenzo Amour. I am not quite sure what the makers were trying to achieve with Bois de Gaiac; it is not quite fruity and not quite floral, it is certainly not too woody. It is understated, quite elegant, soft, very pleasant…and I realize that only yesterday I was raving about a somewhat similar fragrance (similar in feel, not necessarily in the notes), Blue Agava & Cacao. I don’t doubt that for many people the new Malone scent would be just as boring as Bois de Gaiac was for me. It’s all about the lottery of skin chemistry and it’s all about likes and dislikes. I don’t like copious amounts of heliotrope and I dislike sparkling sweetness of pear. If I could tweak the composition to fit my tastes, the one thing I would do is to strengthen the (gaiac) wood note, which is supposed to be the star of the show but is in fact only a humble guest at this heliotrope gala. As it is, if I close my eyes while wearing Bois de Gaiac, I might very easily drift into sleep.

Ref. 015813/Bois de Gaiac et Poire is available at Lusciouscargo, $100.00 for 50ml.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Perfume Review: Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao

I believe in skin chemistry. I also believe that for whatever reason, with some perfume lines, my skin chemistry practically always works wonderfully well, while with others it either clashes in the most unpleasant manner or simply refuses to cooperate making scents sit on my skin without much development and much depth. Jo Malone is one of my “lucky” perfume houses. Out of her twenty or so fragrances, I wouldn’t like to own and wear maybe one or two and that is a reflection on my tastes rather then the quality of the scents themselves. In short, Malone’s fragrances and I usually “click”. I was very pleased to find out that the new Jo Malone cologne, Blue Agava & Cacao, continues the happy tendency.

Blue Agava & Cacao has notes of grapefruit, cardamom, lime, red berry, agava flower, orchid, geranium, salt, white lily, vetiver, cinnamon, cocoa, musk and vanilla. It was “inspired by the artistry of flamenco” and is described as an “impassioned” scent. For all I know, on other people, it is one hot Latin number. On me, it is a soothing comfort scent. To me, “comfort scents” -very roughly! - fall into two categories, snuggly/gourmand and meditative/serene. The former category would include scents like Ambre Narguile, Flowerbomb Extreme, L de Lempicka, the latter, Angelique Incense, Passage d’Enfer, Piper Nigrum, Miyako. Blue Agava & Cacao has the best of both worlds, combining the gourmand warmth with the cool tranquility.

The fragrance has a very appealing, subtle, “green” candied quality. It is, however, never too sweet and never too obviously “foody”. The citruses, the spices, the juicy greenness of agava, the coldness of lily balance the sweetness and the "gourmandness". The cocoa, which, I must admit, is not one of my favorite notes, is always present, but rather than being a very prominent player in the composition, it serves as a warm, velvety background. It is there to compliment the subtly edible feel of the top notes and to enrich and add depth to the green, cool, delicately floral heart. The cocoa note is especially attractive in the base, where, combined with the green earthiness of vetiver and musk, it acquires a strange, almost-animalic quality that makes me think of Parfumerie Generale’s animalic/gourmand Musc Maori. I love the juxtaposition of the fluffy, almost edible and the dry, green and earthy. I love the understated, elegant feel of the composition. In short, I am enamoured with Blue Agava & Cacao.

Blue Agava & Cacao is going to be officially launched in November, and will be sold at Jo Malone Shops,,, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks. I believe it is already available to preview at some selected stores. It retails for $50.00-$90.00.

The image is from

Friday, October 13, 2006

Little Miss Colombina Has a Cunning Plan...

It came to my attention that my little daughter has big plans on her mama’s precious things. Apparently, “when she is bigger” she is going to have my books and my “breakables”. By “breakables” she means my perfumes! So in order to try and protect my perfume cabinet I came up with a counter-plan. I am going to start building up her own little fragrance collection. Since she has never worn perfume before (and as far as I am concerned, is still a tiny little baby) I decided to start her gently, on alcohol free fragrances from the adorable La Petit Prince line, namely Dessine-Moi un Mouton Eau de Senteur Tonique and Eau de Senteur Apaisante.

Dessine-Moi un Mouton Eau de Senteur Tonique is a grapefruit water meant to be used at day-time. It is a gently refreshing scent that could actually be a starter grapefruit fragrance for the grapefruit-phobic. The first accord is bright but not harsh and soon goes away leaving behind a softly-candied citrus trail. It stays close to the skin and you have to put you nose right to the wearer’s skin to smell it. Since the wearer is one’s own little one, the process is immensely enjoyable.

Dessine-Moi un Mouton Eau de Senteur Apaisante is built around a chamomile note and is a fresh and fairly sweet floral fragrance, soft and soothing. It lasts much longer than the Invigorating one and actually has some sillage. As it develops, it becomes warmer and actually not unlike Guerlain’s sadly defunct Aroma Allegoria Apaisant, with its strange, alluring, almost-gourmand linden note.

Both scents are undeniably lovely. When I put them on my daughter, she seemed to enjoy them very much and kept sniffing her little wrists. Both Dessine-Moi fragrances are also entirely wearable for an adult, either as an easy-going, no-brainer refreshment on a warm day, whenever a strong scent is not appropriate or as comforting bedtime scents.

Dessine-Moi un Mouton Eau de Senteur Tonique and Eau de Senteur Apaisante retail for $20.00 for 100ml. The stores that carry the line can be found at

And while I was writing this review I happened to see the announcement that tomorrow The Little Prince collection will be making its west coast debut at Studio at Fred Segal. The “intimate launch party” with “exquisite French food and beverages” will take place at Studio at Fred Segal 500 Broadway Santa Monica , CA 90401 on October 14th 12:00pm - 3:00pm.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

For The Boys...Well, not really.

Review by Tom

Today I thought I would review three men's scents from the magical (and sometimes criminally overlooked) house of Guerlain. I feel they are men's scents in name only; women I know wear and love them, and certainly do them justice..

Habit Rouge

Colombina did an exhaustive review of this one two months ago, and there isn't much I can do to add to it or top it. Rather than just write "what she said", I will add that the citrus opening is especially wonderful, somewhat like the candied opening of Acqua di Parma, but spicier and on me almost immediately joined by leather. The leather stays all the way through to the musky drydown. "Habit Rouge" is French for "Hunting Coat" and is, I believe, meant to bring to mind the fantasy of the man home from the hunt, and if this is what it smells like, I'm going to start hanging around stables...


Researching this fragrance, I was shocked to learn that it was introduced in 1992- it seems like such a classic that I almost have a sense memory of it. Not that it doesn't stand tall as a modern fragrance- but so does Jicky to me, and that's from what? 1890? That's what great about most Guerlain scents, they are as timeless as the Moon, and as mysterious. Heritage is a bold, woody and sharp fragrance that starts with a wonderful lemon/bergamot accord that's actually a little bit Annick Goutal-like, until the massive and wholly wonderful pepper and corainder pop into spice things up. It dries down to creamy but subtle vanilla, cedar and patchouli, with that Guerlain-y animal note that sometimes doesn't make it into the description but almost always makes it into the scent. Heritage is like finding out that the businessman's Savile Row suit is hiding a six-pack, and a few (ahem) other goodies....


Sometimes something comes along that is so simple, and so good that one can forget how singularly wonderful it is, until you come from long periods living with poorer imitations. Like sipping a glass of Oban after years of settling for Johnny Walker or curling up in the backseat of a Cadillac after years of riding in a Honda. Not that there is anything wrong with Johnny Walker of Honda cars- they are perfectly serviceable and affordable, one lacks the peaty singularity and the other lacks the swaddling leather, power everyting and A/C that could keep meat. Smelling Guerlain Vetiver after smelling most of the others out there is somewhat like the single-malt and the Caddy: it's so classic, so wonderfully done, so right that you will question why you ever thought of another: a perfectly played vetiver, lightly tinged with citrus and ending up with leather and amber that underscores but never, ever overpowers the eponymous vetiver. Others arguably may come close, but none will ever eclipse it.

Any of these Guerlains are available on the internet and in some discount stores at prices that criminally do not reflect their beauty. While I find that rather a slap in my sensitivities, it does mean that you can stock up. Even if one of them is total scrubber on you, at $25-30 dollars, how much would you be out? I guarantee you will be able to find someone like me who would be thrilled at the receipt of any as a gift.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Perfume Review: Agent Provocateur Maitresse

I did not expect to like Maitresse, the new Agent Provocateur fragrance, at all. The notes, white lotus, ylang ylang, osmanthus, jasmine sambac, white suede, made it sound as a heady white floral, a perfume genre I rarely enjoy. And the name, well, the name was rather irritating. If it was supposed to mean mistress as in “little bit on the side”, as someone who’s been on both sides of that side, I am not amused. I choose to think that it was meant to have a kinky dominatrix vibe. Agent Provocateur has to maintain its saucy image after all.

The scent surprised me. Yes, it is does start as a rather powerful white floral. The beginning of Maitresse smells like the lushest, biggest, most expensive white bouquet a rich admirer’s money could possibly buy. Everything is in abundance here. The fresh whiteness of the lotus, the warm, creamy whiteness of ylang ylang (and I believe tuberose too), the bright, luminous whiteness of jasmine. It is decadent, luxurious, it smells expensive. But not vulgar. In fact, the blend, lavish as it is, is very smooth and very sophisticated. The osmanthus in the middle stage brings in the subtly fruity, slightly spicy, tea-like undertone and warmth to the composition. The scent is further heated up and “rounded” by the base, which has a floral chypre vibe, and is, for me, the best part of Maitresse. It is piquant, velvety, a little leathery and very warm. That spicy, vaguely leathery accord is what makes Maitresse very “Agent Provocateur” for me, by which I mean not only that it is sassy but also that the same peppery warmth is present in the original Agent Provocateur fragrance and in Eau Emotionnelle. Maitresse, to me, smells the way Dita von Teese looks; it is insolent, flamboyant and very chic.

I am not sure how this raunchy number would fit my not particularly not at all decadent life-style, but when has the lack of occasion to wear something stopped me from buying it? Maitresse is available at, $80.00-$115.00.
Images are from and

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Perfume Review: Paul Smith Story

Story was inspired by Paul Smith’s love of books. The designer’s London office is apparently packed with thousands of them, “some are rare first editions, others, throwaway comics”. According to the creators of Story, “the central character”, vetiver from Haiti, “brings depth, sensuality, elegance and energy to the blend with the same kind of richness that’s somehow reminiscent of the mysterious-yet-comforting smell of vintage books”. “Somehow” is the key word here for me. Story doesn’t really have the smell of antique books so dear to Smith’s heart. It is not evocative of musty old pages or crinkled leather covers. If I try really hard, I sort of get from Story the slightly sharp smell of freshly printed paper. Having said that, I don't think that the scent was meant to smell exactly like books; this is not a Demeter after all. According to Smith, “just as a book can inspire opinions and stimulate feelings, a fragrance has the power to evoke emotions and create new memories, taking on a character that’s personal to the wearer”. This statement perhaps explains the best the idea behind this perfume.

With notes of grapefruit, bergamot, ivy, vetiver, jasmine, green rose, musk, amber and cedar, Story is an elegant, understated, uncluttered scent. Those who, like me, love the cold earthiness and the airy feel of Terre d’Hermes, Hiris and Kenzo Air, will find Story very much to their liking. Those who appreciate the very appealing trend in the masculine perfumery, which chooses subtlety over overbearing "machoism" (for subtlety, think the aforementioned Kenzo Air, Terre d’Hermes, Dior Homme, the three exclusive Dior colognes, Goutal Duel, L'Artisan Dzongkha and perhaps even Rosine’s Rose d’Homme) will be pleased with Story. Many women will find it utterly wearable. On the other hand, those who like their scents to make a very powerful, decisive statement, to have lots of sillage and va va voom, will most probably be disappointed. I can imagine many men thinking it bland, too delicate and not nearly “manly” enough. But hey, this is a geeky scent after all.

Story is most definitely a vetiver fragrance. The note is apparent throughout the entire development. In the beginning it is brightened and enlivened by unripe, peppery citrus fruits (most prominently, grapefruit). In the middle stage, combined with the soft florals, the earthiness of vetiver acquires a cold, ethereal quality that is often present in iris scents. The drydown, although the earthiest and the warmest stage of this scent, is still quite transparent and subtle, with cedar adding an even drier undertone to the vetiver.

The press release describes Story as “clean, minimal and classic”, and that more or less sums up my opinion. Although not staggeringly original, Story is eminently wearable, versatile and enjoyable. I am planning on wearing it myself and on forcing it on Mr. Colombina as an everyday, casual, office fragrance. The scent will be available exclusively at Neiman Marcus in December 2006 and will retail for $50.00 (1.7oz) and $70.00 (3.3oz).

Monday, October 09, 2006

Skin Chemistry

Article by Erin

I have often thought that Murphy must have been a perfume lover; only a scent hound could have such a perverse eponymous law. In fragrance circles, the most popular variation on his theme regards lasting power. I formulate it thusly: (x/2) + y = z, where x is equal to how disappointed you are by a fragrance on a scale of 0 to 10, y is equal to the number of sprays applied and z is equal to the number of times you will need to shower with exfoliates to stop smelling. I call this Scrubbers Theorem, and I first posited it in seclusion after, in a moment of (un)happy abandon in Barneys, I sprayed up one arm with Une Fleur de Cassie and down the other with Miel de Bois. God help me, I believe Andrew Wiles suffered less with Fermat’s Last Theorem.

The contrarian nature of skin chemistry is also frequently lamented. This reminds me of the ridiculous Blood Type diet called Eat Right 4 Your Type. As far as I can see, the nutritional advice is half junk science and half common sense, but the program does have its miraculous Murphy aspect: somehow your blood type seems to determine what you like to eat and this diet tells you not to eat those things. Skin chemistry is a similar kind of bad joke.

I have always loved dark, rich, oriental scents of the Opium and original Boucheron variety – probably because my mother favored them. This jives with my inclinations in other areas: colors (autumn tones like forest green, rusty orange, chocolate brown, deep reds and burgundies), food (strong, rustic flavors, please, and heavy on the spices, fat and booze), gems (garnets, emeralds, alexandrite), music (heavy orchestration, even in pop songs, and an almost vulgar amount of brass in classical), and activities (romantic dining, dancing, night-owl reading, having a bath etc.) Most women aspire to their own hopeless beauty ideal and mine is a menacingly statuesque type, with the cheekbones, stare and bearing of an aristocrat and the shoulders of an action hero (think Sigourney Weaver, Anjelica Huston or Angela Bassett). Any method of determining “fragrance personality” I have encountered has asked for these kinds of lifestyle or aspirational preferences, and all have recommended heavy oriental perfumes.

So what actually smells good on me? I can only describe them as en plein air scents. Instead of the Moroccan market exoticism of damascones (dried fruits and some rose petals), my skin delights in astringent, acidic fruity notes, particularly grapefruit, mandarin, bergamot and pineapple. Bitter-mossy, herbaceous, zesty, watery and oily resinous scents all seem to work, and so I have luck with chypres, fougeres and hesperidia. Lavender, mint and bright tea notes are startlingly right. Clary sage is heaven. Roots – ginger, licorice, vetiver – smell great as accents if they convey an airiness. Similarly, hay and grass notes smell wonderfully breezy, sunny and open on me.

With some ingredients, I can play to my strengths. Leathers work better if they are the rugged (Lonestar Memories, Yatagan) and not refined sort and woods if they are very dry or camphorous. Ambers are tricky, with some of the “browner” ones turning flat and cosmetic on me, like foundation. As for spice notes, cloves and cinnamon often fail, alas, but I have luck with lemony cardamom and coriander. Smells others describe as creamy (rice, milk, chocolate or tonka notes) usually exhibit waxier, nuttier qualities on me, so an Omnia or Ormonde Jayne Champaca is very balmy sheer. Some things it seems I’ll never be ever to pull off – violets, frangipani – and other aromas never seem to make much of an appearance at all. Strangely, though they smell great on me initially, some smoky notes take little time to vanish in a puff of, well… no smoke. Dusky florals like gardenia and magnolia delight me in the bottle or on fabric but disappear on my skin, with the cheerful, thick-pile lactones of peaches (one of my least favorite fruits to eat) blooming instead in scents like Dolce Vita and Divine.

Overall, I smell best as the hearty outdoorsy type I most certainly am not. It is like coveting the dramatic, shadowed world of Baroque chiaroscuro paintings by Rembrandt and Caravaggio and ending up with a Monet haystack. This is made more painful, of course, by the fact that many people I know would love to smell like a meadow or plantation instead of a big, bass blast of operatic tuberose. Please, y’all, share your pain.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Perfumer & Flavorist Magazine's Nod to Fragrance Blogosphere

The esteemed Perfume & Flavorist Magazine mentions a whole bunch of us, perfume bloggers. Click on the scan below to hopefully be able to read the article. Many thanks to Marlen for the news.

Perfume Review: Parfum d'Empire Cuir Ottoman

I am not sure I can actually write a coherent review of Cuir Ottoman. Quite frankly, all I want to do is sit with my nose glued to my wrist, whimpering happily. Would “This is the stuff!” and “Wowza!” pass as a review? I guess not…But good lord, this stuff is so good, it leaves me speechless. First Parfum d’Empire created my Holy Grail debauched amber, now they came up with a fantastic, dirty leather scent. As Ali G would say, Respect!

Cuir Ottoman, which “reveals the erotism and the mystery of the East”, starts with a leather bang. The scent states upfront that it is all about leather and that if you happen not to care for strong leather fragrances, you better scrub it off before it gathers momentum on your skin. The bang is somewhat softened by a wonderful orris note, which is bright and sweet. There is also a certain herbal-incensey motive that ornaments the blend in the most appealing manner. The leather grows stronger and acquires a) the most welcome dirty undertone and b) a very attractive, warm, balsamic quality. At this point it certainly evokes the “mysterious East”, the Ottoman splendor, dirt and sensuality. After a while, however, the scent returns to the modern day. The note appears there, which makes me think of …gasoline. Strange and perhaps disagreeable as it sounds, it is actually rather alluring and serves to emphasize the uncompromising, powerful leather note in Cuir Ottoman. Now, instead of a young sultan leading his bloodthirsty troops, the scent calls to mind an image of a gorgeous biker revving up his metallic beast. The scent is full of character, it takes no prisoners. And yet that sweet, balsamic leitmotif is always present in the background, like a delicate feminine element forever softening the brutal masculinity of leather.

The lovely Karl of Aedes noted that Cuir Ottoman reminds him of L’Artisan Dzing! and Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia, and I can certainly smell the similarity with the sweet-dirty, circus leather of Dzing and the gasoline-soaked old racing car leather of Nostalgia. I would also add that the sweet, herbal, incensey feel of Cuir Ottoman is somewhat reminiscent of Andy Tauer’s Lonestar Memories and even Orris. It often helps to imagine what a scent smells like when given the comparisons to other scents, and that is why I am drawing these parallels. Cuir Ottoman is entirely original and not in any way derivative. As soon as it is available in the States (Aedes should be getting it quite soon, I believe), it should become a must try for fans of hardcore leather perfumes.