Fragrance X
First in Fragrance
My Photo
Location: New York, NY
© Copyright 2005-2011 Perfume-Smellin' Things
All rights reserved
Custom Search

Thursday, November 30, 2006

“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer” and Thierry Mugler “Perfume” Collection Coffret Sweepstakes.

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is coming to the theaters near you. Personally, I am extremely excited. I have read the book as a child (bad idea!) and was sickened and did not really appreciate the olfactory "images" "painted" by Suskind. Re-reading it now, through a lense of my perfume obsession, I, of course, react in an entirely different way. I am enthralled.

Perfume is a story of murder and obsession set in 18th-century France. Jean-Baptiste Grenouille has used his unique talent for discerning the scents and smells that swirl around him to create the world’s finest perfumes, but his talent masks his burden. An orphan from birth, Grenouille has always felt alone in the world and different from any other person. Determined to connect with others, Grenouille tries to capture the irresistible but elusive aroma of young womanhood, traveling far and delving deeper into the intricate science of perfume-making. As he becomes increasingly – and recklessly – passionate about his art, his obsession to create the world’s most powerful fragrance takes a deadly turn. (From a press release by Paramount Pictures)

As you know, Thierry Mugler came up with an "olfactory interpretation" of the book. The Limited Edition Thierry Mugler “Perfume” Collection Coffret presents the 15 essences (created by perfumer Christophe Laudamiel), which capture and bring to life key moments and atmospheres from the book and film. On the official site for Perfume, there is a sweepstakes for the grand prize of a Collector’s Perfume Coffret from Mugler.

For more information on the film and to enter the sweepstakes, please visit

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Lez Nez (no need to hold 'em)

Review by Tom

The Unicorn Spell

This starts off with a sweet hit joined by spice, something that reminds me of cumin and sage. Almost immediatly starts to become green, like the smell of flowers that haven't opened yet, or better yet bulbs. Bulbs that still have a bit of the earth stillclinging to them.

Then they open. I get the violets that Colombina gets, still with the bulb. I also think I smell the faintest iris. It's still sweet, but has nothing of the gagging powdery parts of the usual violet, and has a minted coolness that's a bit like the camphored rosemary in Daim Blonde: you can't really make it out on its own, it just serves to cool. It also has the most surprising sillage; it sometimes stays close to the skin and then jumps out at you. It stays cool, but starts to soften. It dries down and the violets soften a bit and the cooling mint becomes just barely strong enough to discern on its own, with a bare, clean-skin musk.

I normally really don't like violet in perfume. Don't like as in "Get that sh&t away from me". This one I actually like

Let me Play the Lion

This starts off with the sweetness and woodiness of anise seeds, the sweet blast (well blast is a bit much, there's nothing in these that blast) quickly joined faint cedar and sandalwood. The cedar and sandalwood dance around each other as if cavorting, then freeze as a wonderfully dirty incense drops in, like a lion at the waterhole. Now that I've written that, I also smell a bare hint of aquatic.

Luckily the lion is a friendly sort and after a while starts to dance around with the cedar and sandalwood. The anise seeds come back again adding piquance (if you hate anise, you won't care for this stage) as the scent starts to settle into its drydown: the cedar mutes, the sandalwood comes forward, warmed by the musky incense and sweetened by anise. This would have been my favorite if I hadn't already tried:


On me, the first spritz is the strong smell of Vodka. Potato Vodka to be exact. As soon as it dries, I get the barest whiff of fresh mint. Slowly it starts to dry to the scent of fresh clean sheets. I never thought I'd like to smell like fresh clean sheets, but oddly, I do. These remind me sheets hurriedly taken off the line ahead of a summer storm; there's ozone, but it's not the dreaded aquatic. (Do any of you also have the almost insuperable desire to jump in and roll round a freshly made bed? Or am I the only nut here?)

Slowly, amber starts to sneak in: an oddly cool one(perhaps it's the mint). It's the antithesis of Ambre Sultan's resinous heat, but just as wonderful. Finally there's the barest hint of something like musk: but dusty, not animal. I could recognise it, but not place it. Finally on a hunch I went into my bedroom and sniffed the satin-trimmed wool blanket I got at Saks on sale a few years ago: Voila! Fresh linens and the ever-so-slightly musty smell of wool blankets.

In an email exchange with Colombina, she nailed it: a diluted L'Air de Rien. I'd say not quite diluted, just stripped of any of the ghosts that would haunt the dusty house that L'Air de Rein inhabits. L'Antimatière is that lonely disused house thrown open, scrubbed down and welcoming; if there are ghosts they are there only to look kindly over your sleeping form, perhaps tuck a corner in and smooth a furrowed brow.

Any of these are well worth the money; they aren't trying to reinvent the wheel, but they are giving a singular (and singularly wonderful) take on things; these whisper rather than shout. I'm looking forward to see what else they have up their sleeves...

Image source,

Holiday Eye-Candy from Bond No 9

This Holiday season Bond No.9 offers the following "little treats":

Nuits de Noho crystallized Swarovski, 3.4 oz $395.00
A limited edition of our superstar bottle in midnight blue, studded with sparkling Swarovski stars. (Want!)

The Swarovski Pocket Spray Box, $195.00
A handy little portable spray flacon with black Swarovski stones. Includes Chelsea Flowers, Chinatown, and Eau de New York.

The Perfumista's Custom Blending Box, $240.00
16 custom mixable, refillable travel size spray flacons.

The Chinatown Candle, Crystallized, $185.00
The plum blossom limited edition pillar studded with tiny Swarovski crystals that sparkle and shine.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Perfume Review: Mona di Orio Oiro

Oiro is the newest addition to Mona di Orio’s collection of fragrances. Inspired by gold (Oiro is Portuguese for “gold”), it has notes of green mandarin, sweet pea, spices, jasmine, olibanum, heliotrope, vetiver, ylang-ylang, immortelle, cedar, musk and amber. The gold of Oiro is not that of flames in a fireplace, of heavily ornamented brocade fabric or of antique jewels. It is not the opulent, nocturnal gold of lavish gatherings and passionate encounters. This is the gold of the sun, of citrus fruits bright like yellow and orange gems among the green leaves, of languid days of summer spent basking in the dazzling light.

Oiro starts with an accord that blends jasmine, unripe citrus fruits and spices (pimento and clove, perhaps) and by mixing them achieves the striking effect of indolic spiciness that I adored in another di Orio creation, Nuit Noire. Citrus notes are quite strong in the second half of the first stage of the scent’s development; they have a feel of exotic candies that combine sweet fruits with red hot piquancy of chili. The spicy citruses subside and the jasmine note becomes illuminated in all its vivid glory. The jasmine here does not smell indolic to the point of being fecal, but a hint of floral dirtiness is there, and I love it. I also love the way the spicy/dry leitmotif runs through the composition, adding a green and subtly incensey quality to the blend and balancing the headiness of jasmine and ylang ylang. The drydown does not lose the brightness of the floral notes, even the citruses are still there, subtly in the background. It does, however, have a certain earthy undertone and a very appealing musk note that in a way echoes the indolic characteristic of the flowers.

Oiro is scheduled to launch in 2007. I hope it is released sometime in January-February, which are the darkest months for my sun-loving soul. This scent, in which everything is illuminated, would be a fantastic reminder of summer in the midst of depressing winter chill.

The images are from

Monday, November 27, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture

Recently I got to try Parfumerie Generale’s “private” scents, Bois de Copaiba, Cèdre Sandaraque, Corps et Ames, Querelle and Tubereuse Couture. I am going to review all five in the course of the coming weeks, starting today with Tubereuse Couture. Having been created originally for Parfumerie Generale’s Russian distributor in Moscow, the scent might join the main line in 2007; if it does, it will be number 17 in the collection. With notes of kalamanzi oil, green jasmine shoots, ylang-ylang, sugar cane, Indian tuberose, Sumatra benzoin and papyrus, Tubereuse Couture is a spellbinding and elegant potion, which portrays the creamy tuberose note on the mouthwatering background of green sweetness.

The first accord sets the scene by juxtaposing the brisk citrusy fruitiness with the languid softness of ylang-ylang. The latter is apparent during the whole course of the scent’s development, enhancing the rich, velvety, enveloping effect of the tuberose. Little by little the tuberose note becomes more apparent, it gains momentum, grows stronger, headier…at times it is so rich, so thick, one feels that a knife would cut through the note like through yellow, yielding butter. I am not a fan of dewy and fresh tuberose; the kind of creamy denseness displayed in Tubereuse Couture is the quality I adore in tuberose scents. Being also a big fan of olfactory contrasts, I love the way the sugar cane note counteracts with tuberose, its fresh sweetness cutting through the floral opulence like that very knife. The drydown of Tubereuse Couture is balsamic and slightly powdery; not as intense as the rest of the scent, it has an almost comforting, cuddly quality.

Tubereuse Couture, lavish as it is, is not a “carnal” tuberose; it does not have the come-hither, heady voluptuousness of Fracas or Carnal Flower. Its sensuality is indolent, not aggressive. The originality here does not stem from an initial borderline unpleasant accord encasing the beauty of tuberose in a striking, odd sort of frame, like in Tubereuse Criminelle. The couture, i.e. slightly bizarre, effect is achieved by pairing the star note with an almost-gourmand greenness of kalamanzi and sugar cane. Cuir Venenum and Aomassai are two other Pierre Guillaume creations, which feature the same unexpected “edible” feel in compositions that theoretically should have been anything but gourmand. The subtle, elegant strangeness of Tubereuse Couture is enchanting. If and when it becomes widely available, its bottle will join other Parfumerie Generale favorites in my collection.

The image is from

Edited to add: thanks to the lovely J., we have been able to confirm that Tubereuse Couture is available as a part of a "discovery set" called Creation Privee No 47 at Parfumerie Generale online store, the set consists of five 7ml sprays (Bois de Copaiba, Cèdre Sandaraque, Corps et Ames, Querelle and Tubereuse Couture) and costs €52.00.


Saturday, November 25, 2006

Le Labo launches an online store

Le Labo launched its e-commerce site. It is now available for North American delivery only but will be expanded to include the entire world early next year. The online boutique sells ten Le Labo perfumes (no Tubereuse 40, of course) and home fragrances and candles in Anis 24, Figue 15, Petit Grain 21, Pin 12 and Santal 26. Discovery sets and the Olfactionary (a box with the 40 fundamental natural essences used in perfumery, a translation in miniature of the Perfumers’ pipe organ, $490.00, pictured) are also available.

Friday, November 24, 2006

A Weekend Trip to ScentBar

Article by Tom

At the risk of rubbing it in (sorry Colombina), one of the joys of living in the big city is that there are excellent shopping opportunities, and of course the one I care about most are for scent. In dowtown LA, there are bunches of discounters where I can walk out with a four bottles of name cologne (Guerlain, Creed, Caron; the one's I'd be interested in) for a hundred bucks. Barneys has all of the Lutens that are in the states, right down the block is Saks, ready to fix me up with Miller Harris, then it's a short sidle up to Neiman-Marcus, from which I have been buying so long the last time I was in there I practically had to vault the Kiehl's counter to get away from an over-agressive Clive Christian SA who was determined that I must try whatever 5 billion dollar concoction he has out now. There are aslo some nice niche shops, Strange Invisible Perfumes has it's store on Abbot Kinney in Venice, and on Melrose Place there is a Santa Maria Novella shop that also sells Lorenzo Villoresi. The one that I always gravitate to is ScentBar, the brick and mortar store for Even though I have bought only about four things from them, they have never been less than super-friendly and polite, willing to uncork anything and spritz away. I had to stop in to see if they carried a perfume a friend wanted for Christmas (Commes des Garcon Palisander, and they do).

Of course, the big news is they now have Perfume Generale's scents, including the wonderful Aomassai and Iris Taizo. Aomassai, as I wrote earlier starts off toffee-sweet: a deep, rich almost burnt caramel with hazelnuts yumminess that is quickly supplanted with woods, vetiver and resin. Iris Taizo is one of the few Irises that work on me: usually Iris elbows it's way to the forefront and keeps up there, waving it's fronds and screaming "I'm Iris, dammit!" This one is woody and supplanted by incense, almost like the funeral for Iris. In a good way.

They also have the wonderful Harmattan Noir, starting with a blast of bone-dry spices as if a sudden Santa Ana had swept over a bodega an the way to you, while a later cool mint comes in to drop the temperature. As a matter of fact, it smells exactly like today's LA weather acted; a hot dry blast of an afternoon and an evening chill.

One that they did not have in stock but yanked out for me to sniff was the delightful Cuir Venenum, which runs against what I think the name should mean, onomatopoeically, that is. It's a surprisingly homey leather, a long-cared for coat, the yummiest glove leather covered down-filled sofa with perhaps the best orange flower I've smelled in years. It also has a berry like musk that reminds me of CB I Hate Perfume's Musk. Oh wait, this one sucks. It smells of old boots and orange peels and feet. Stay away from it. I said stay away!

I also sniffed the Profumum line, but frankly thought they'd be fabulous at $75. At $180, I'll pass.

One of the standouts? Botrytis by Ginestet It's supposedly based upon Sauterne wine, but I get a rich honey scent: rich comb honey, slightly musky; resinous and wonderful. For those of you who wanted honey but were scared off by Miel de Bois, this Bud's for you.

They are also going to carry the limited edition Andy Tauer Orris, which I almost afraid to try, since it's a limited edition. I'm terribly afraid that I will be forever in thrall to it, as I am to Lonestar Memories and L'Air du desert marocain, and then what am I going to do? I'm not rich enough to bribe him and not at all sanguine that batting my big green eyes would do the trick (Your cue to chime in with how great I look. Yes, I know you've never seen me.) So here's the deal. If we all try it and love it, and can't entice him into keeping it, we'll threaten him into keeping it. All over the world, Andy, men and women will bat their eyes at you. Just sayin.

All of these of course are available at The ones that I liked all were in the $60- $100 range, and they have their sample program. I am told that they are fairly generous with samples when you order a full bottle online. They don't in the store, but then again I must have spritzed about half their inventory, so we'll call it square.

And yes, I did get a full bottle of Aomassai. Just a reminder, Cuir Venenum smells like dog breath and dead cats, so back off.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Mr. Colombina finally posted a new (not perfume related) rant, Kids TV. It can be found on his own blog, Deliver Rants.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Ode to High Heels and Perfume Review: Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum

I’ve been feeling disappointed with myself lately…When I was younger, I used to be…well, my own version of Laura Bennett’s fabulously glamorous. I strived to always be perfectly put together. Casually elegant was as casual as I was prepared to go. I wouldn’t think of leaving the house without makeup, not even if I was just popping out across the street to buy some milk, and I always wore heels. Always. To school, to work, shopping at a supermarket, going to the post office…Going out in summer wearing flip-flops, when not heading to the beach, would have been unthinkable for me. I still will not leave the house without wearing at least some powder and mascara, but in the shoe area it has been a long slide downhill into the slobby land of comfort. This morning I woke up and told myself, No More! Get thee disentangled from the dangerously soft embrace of Comfort. Remember the way you were. Wear heels. So I went to the grocery store in my killer boots, the ones with the sharpest toe and the highest heel. It was great. I felt... complete. Oh the power of high heels!

In my rebellion against the mundane, the comfortable and the casual, I wore the scent that I felt was most suited to go with stilettos and with the whole newly discovered glamour-girl self – Paloma Picasso. Created in 1984, this, along with L’Arte di Gucci, is to me the golden standard of a dark, vampy floral chypre. Paloma Picasso, the daughter of Pablo Picasso and Françoise Gilot, is an artist/designer whose many accomplishments include interior and fur coat collections, jewelry creations for Tiffany & Co. and fragrances for men and women. Her eponymous fragrance, also known as Mon Parfum, is, in Paloma Picasso’s own words, "a perfume for women, not girls." Mon Parfum starts with a blend of piquant coriander and velvety rosewood. The two complement each other perfectly and, right from the start, demonstrate the appealing disparity of the scent, the contrast between the bold, spicy, dry and earthy and the very feminine, warm and richly floral that would be evident at all subsequent stages of its development. The generous, opulent heart, with its dark-red roses, the sweet ylang-ylang and the creamy tuberose, is the headiest, warmest, most obviously and proudly feminine phase of the perfume. Even there, however, thanks to the bright geranium note, the dry spiciness is still apparent. The flowers subside, although never entirely disappear, and we enter the luxurious base, where patchouli, musk and civet add the incredible, animalic depth to the dark florals, and where vetiver has a rich, almost leathery quality. If I had to describe Paloma Picasso Mon Parfum in one word, the word would be Chic.

If you ever have a chance to get your hands on this scent in parfum, please do. Pure perfume is rich and soft. Having said that, EDT and EDP, which are much easier to find, are wonderful too. Of the two, I prefer EDT, since I find that in this concentration the dry/spicy/earthy/green aspect is more pronounced than in a headier, denser, more honeyed and floral EDP. Both are sold at, $35.00-$46.00.

The shoe image, Stuart Weitzman's Goliath, is from

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

New Additions at Luckyscent

Luckyscent added a new category to their store, Exotic Teas. Among others, they now carry my favorite tea line, Kusmi. Also among new arrivals are Napa Valley Olivina collection and nine Montale scents, Aromatic Lime, Black Oud, Blue Amber, Chypre Vanille, Crystal Flowers, Intense Tiare, Soleil de Capri, Sweet Oriental and Vanille Absolu, in 50ml bottles.

Perfume Review: Aroma M Geisha Noire

Aroma M was founded by Maria McElroy and her Japanese-born husband Shiniya Yokota. As an artist, Maria McElroy always had a passion for colors and textures, and, according to her, “blending fragrances in a bottle is like mixing colors on a palate (…)The scent becomes pigment, the body becomes the canvas. The nose responds to scent like the eye to color” (From the Aroma M press release). As a very “visual” person myself, I often perceive scents in color, and I think that many of us often if not always mentally “translate” scent into color. The fragrance line that names its scents according to the color they convey was instantly appealing to me.

My favorite among Aroma M fragrances is Geisha Noire. It is said to have aroma-therapeutic properties; it “combats stress, clears the thought processes, undoes the inhibitions, assists in meditation and prayer”. In other words, it is a comfort scent. It has the same soothing, centering, soul-easing effect on me as Angelique Encens or Miyako. Geisha Noire is a warm, “opaque “, perhaps not completely black but definitely very dark black-brown scent, in which amber rules the composition. It is not, however, an amber “soliflore”, a genre I don’t appreciate at all. The note here is brightened by spices, enriched by incense and sandalwood and sweetened by a certain languid, vaguely edible note that I can only describe as smoky honey. Geisha Noire is a leisurely, tranquil, meditative and warm blend, a true delight to wear on a chilly, bleak winter day.

It is available on and, $40.00 for a 1/4oz oil roll-on bottle.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Perfume Review: Czech & Speake No 88

Czech & Speake of London are a luxury brand specializing in bathroom & kitchen fittings and accessories. Their concept extends to a range of exclusive “aromatic fragrances”, eaux de cologne and after shaves. The scents are complex, rich, truly superb. I haven’t tried all of them (I would dearly love to get my hands on some Oxford & Cambridge, for example), but of those I have tried, No 88 is my absolute favorite.

Allegedly based on an original Elizabethan recipe, No 88 has notes of bergamot, geranium, rose, cassie (acacia farnesiana), frangipani and sandalwood. Dark, deep and honeyed, the scent is stunning. It starts with a burst of sharp bergamot, which dissipates within seconds. Its dry piquancy is promptly replaced by the warmer spiciness of geranium. Simultaneously, sandalwood and rose become apparent. To me, the blend of these two notes is a union made in olfactory heaven. The warm, velvety wood and the dark-red roses of No 88 compliment and enrich each other wonderfully; the former bringing a smoky, vaguely incensey feel to the aroma of flowers, the latter infusing the sandalwood with mellifluous sweetness. The blend has the kind of disparity for which I invariably fall head over heels: it juxtaposes the austere elegance with the honeyed, exhilarating boozyness. It is dark and warm and enveloping. The nocturnal, opulent composition of No 88 has certain indefinable oddness about it that, for me, makes it reminiscent of the best Lutens creations. No 88 is a cologne, however, it has the lasting power and “the body” of a very lush eau de toilette if not an eau de parfum. It is marketed as a masculine scent, but there is no doubt in my mind that women who favor dark, woody florals, would adore No 88.

No 88 is available directly from Czech & Speake, £61.00 for 100ml, or from Apothia, $162 for 100ml. If my test-checkout is to be trusted, it is actually cheaper to order from Czech & Speake, since the final cost comes to about $158, including VAT and shipping to the States.

The image is from

Friday, November 17, 2006

Little Miss Colombina's Perfume Collection

A couple of weeks ago I related to you the cunning little plan that my crafty little daughter has for my perfumes. Basically, she thinks that when she is “bigger” (which, as far as she is concerned, is any day now), she is going to use them to her little heart’s content. My counter-plan is to try to distract her with her own collection of fragrances. Le Petit Prince and La Rose du Petit Prince are currently being considered for the honor of gracing a shelf in the princess’s room..

Le Petit Prince is a soft verbena-based eau de toilette. It is fresh and sweet, candied even. A delicate woody base prevents it from being too syrupy and brings a welcome, slightly dry quality to the composition in the drydown. It is uncomplicated, extremely wearable, and overall a total delight for kiddies and grown-ups alike. La Rose du Petit Prince is a sparkling rose and citrus blend. The rose is juicy and pink, the citruses are bright and not really sweet at all, they have an acidic, mouthwatering, unripe feel that I find appealing and unexpected in this little-girl scent. La Rose is not the most complex of fragrances, but it is rather more sophisticated than the childish pink packaging might suggest. The tangy grapefruit and the dry, green petit grain add an interesting twist to the blend. Again, this is as appropriate for little girls as it is for their mamas. Of the two, Little Miss Colombina seemed to prefer La Rose, although when asked which one she’d like to have, she greedily demanded to be bought both. I am not sure yet if she will grow to appreciate perfume, but she already shows the traits of a future bottle collector.

Le Petit Prince and La Rose du Petit Prince are available at, $26.00 and $32.00 for 100ml respectively.

Oiro, New Perfume by Mona di Orio

Mona di Orio is about to add a fourth scent to her collection. Oiro, inspired by gold, will contain notes of green mandarin from Calabria, jasmin absolut from India and immortelle. (From Mona di Orio press release) The other fragrances in the line are Carnation, Lux and Nuit Noire.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Where's The Beef?

Review by Tom

This time I am going to review a few of the leather scents that Colombina has forced me to buy. Well, that's my story.

Kolnisch Juchten

Upon reading this review, I knew I was pretty well a goner. My father wore this back in the day, but I remember it as being a lot less, well, raw than this. Imagine my surprise when Colombina reviewed the original and reinforced my memories. I do however really love the newer formulation: on me it opens with leather as sharp as a whipcrack, and a wonderful smoky, meaty accord that smells a little bit like the best black and blue steak au poivre you could ever eat: crusty, smoky outside and blood rare inside. Strangely, this take on "gourmand" works so well it's scary. Eventually the Tartar eating tartare opening starts to settle down into a beautiful creamy patchouli, ambered and slightly sweet, with the leather becoming far more civilised.

Knize Ten

Colombina's review reminded me how much I liked this one, so much so that I ordered a bottle right after reading it. I can only add to her description, this is leather, but rather more gentlemanly than KJ. I get leather and citrus on the opening, which goes through leather and sandlewood and finally dries down a sweetened leather that has a note that has a bit of Miel de Bois in it. Yes, that Miel de Bois- the one that scares everyone so. Well, it's cut with floral but I can still smell it, and it's wonderful.....

Lonestar Memories

Well, I can't really blame Colombina for this one, since I was hooked a few days before her review by the nice people at Luckyscent. I was amazed when doing research on Andy Tauer to learn that he's not American. This was the first scent of his that I'd tried, and it's so evocative of a dream of the southwest I was convinced that he must be from here. It's a brilliant, eminently wearable leather that has just enough birch tar and clary sage to make me think of bonfires on the plains (like I'd know, a screening of "Brokeback Mountain" is about as close as I'd ever get, even if the pardner had the dimples of the dude in the ad) on a chilly winter evening, while the drydown is grounded by vetiver, tonka and sandlewood that adds a bit of city-slicker sophistication. Smells the way you'd imagine Jett Rink from Edna Ferber's "Giant" would, and you want to.

And for those of you who want to know, yes I have layered all of them with CBnI Hate Perfume Musk. It makes KJ more Tartar, makes the English polo player in Knize Ten a little Lady Chatterly and spells out the "Brokeback" part of Lonestar. I actually rather like that, but your mileage may vary.

The first image is from, the second from, the third from

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Perfume Review: Parfum d'Empire Eau de Gloire, Eau Suave and Iskander

Parfum d’Empire are the creators of my beloved Ambre Russe and my new mad crush, Cuir Ottoman. I like those two scents so much that I tend to overlook the other three fragrances in the line. This review is a salute to Eau de Gloire, Eau Suave and Iskander.

Eau de Gloire is a homage to Napoleon Bonaparte. Inspired by his love for colognes, it has notes of Corsican everlasting flowers, cistus, oakmoss, anise, tea, licorice, incense and tobacco. This is not your average understated and fresh eau de cologne. Eau de Glorie is full of character and has a solid, substantial feel. The top notes are bracing and cool, the heart is rather sweet, heavy on anise and as forceful, domineering and passionate as the emperor himself must have been. This stage is Too Much for me, I find the anise to be overwhelming. The drydown, however, is incredibly gorgeous. It is dark and husky, with lots of sweet tobacco and some incense. To my nose, it has a very attractive leathery undertone. For that drydown alone I am prepared to tolerate the cloying middle stage. Wearing Eau de Gloire makes me suffer from folie de grandeur, an affliction I quite frankly enjoy.

Eau Suave is inspired by Empress Josephine and her love for roses. Having read about the inspiration, I was afraid the scent would turn out to be a rose soliflore, a genre I find very dull, but the scent is much more than just roses. It is a sophisticated, warm composition, in which the dark-red flowers are basking in the golden glow of saffron and are sweetened by honeyed apricots and raspberries. It is darkly-boozy and gorgeous. The fans of rose perfumes must try Eau Suave. For me, it is a little too sweet and a little too heavy on fruits, but, although I have no wish to actually wear it, I admire it a lot.

Iskander, dedicated to Alexander the Great, is a blend of citron, mandarin, grapefruit, estragon, coriander, orange blossom, oakmoss, amber and musk. It is my second favorite of the line (the first place being shared by Ambre Russe and Cuir Ottoman). Iskander is bracing, fresh, herbal, slightly spicy and has an unexpectedly warm, slightly earthy base. The grapefruit note is bright and tangy, the coriander is sweetly-piquant, the musk is ever so slightly “dirty”. The scent is not as potent as Eau de Gloire, but in its own, rather more understated, way, it is just as full of character. Layered together, Iskander and Eau de Glorie fill the wearer with the sense of enormous self-importance and give one the urge to conquer if not the whole world then at least a couple of countries.

Eau de Gloire, Eau Suave and Iskander are available at Aedes, $110 for 3.4oz..

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Winner of the Rich Hippie Draw is...

...Nina! Please send me your address using the Contact Me link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for playing!

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Mandarine Mandarin

I believe that I am the last person in the perfume universe to try Mandarine Mandarin. Two decants got lost in the post and I thought the scent was jinxed, but a generous friend lifted the curse by successfully sending me a sample. And here I am, all aflutter, testing the latest Serge Lutens creation…It is dark, sweet, and as complex and mysterious as I like Lutens’s scents to be.

Mandarine Mandarin goes on my skin through three very distinctive stages. It starts with a sweet citrusy-floral accord. I smell honeyed orange blossom, over-ripe mandarins and oranges. A slightly green and softly smoky/spicy note is woven into the citrusy sweetness preventing it from being completely jam-like. As time passes, the citrus accord subsides and the green-spicy aspect grows stronger, and we are suddenly presented with stage two, which, although as sweet as the first one, is much darker, much more substantial, much stranger than only slightly quirky top notes. Here I smell the remains of orange blossom, strongly brewed Lapsang Souchong, a rose that is as black as the night, lots and lots of smoky honey and an ingredient that seems to be a hybrid of celery and immortelle. It has the bright, crunchy greenness of the former and the spicy meatiness of the latter. It is odd, it is somewhat out of place in a blend called Mandarine Mandarin, and it makes the scent unmistakably and very appealingly “Lutens”. This dark-sweet-spicy-meaty stage lasts for a long time, perhaps 5-6 hours at least, before evolving into the drydown that is much more subtle then the rest of the scent. This final stage witnesses the return of citruses, it has a slight herbal undertone and a general cologne-like feel.

Mandarine Mandarin is to me Lutens at his best. It is a strangely-beautiful perfume with rich “texture”, depth and complexity. I like it a lot. It isn’t one of my most beloved Lutens perfumes (although it is too early to tell, his scents have a tendency to sneak up on me and suddenly madly infatuate me) and I am not sure yet if I want to jump through the hoops trying to obtain the bell jar…but I cannot help but admire it’s tasteful, sophisticated opulence.

Mandarine Mandarin is part of the exclusive line and can only be purchased at Les Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, €100.00 for 2.5oz.

The image is from

Monday, November 13, 2006

Perfume Review: Rich Hippie Bohemian Wedding...and a Prize Draw

My lovely guest-poster Tina got married on Saturday; congratulations, Tina! I have never been one to pass on an opportunity of a topical review, so today I am talking about Bohemian Wedding by Rich Hippie. “Bohemian” is a term that, according to Wikipedia, describes any person who lives an unconventional artistic life, where self-expression is the highest value and where art is a main focus of life. These days the term is also applied to a fashion style, "boho-chic". I do value self-expression (hence the blog, I guess), but I have always thought of myself as a rather conventional sort of person and I am pretty sick of “boho-chic” as displayed by the likes of Sienna Miller (for lots of snarky remarks on that, please visit Go Fug Yourself blog). My kind of weddings would not be held in a field of wild flowers, with bride and groom and guests barefoot, in flowing tie-dye garments of earthy and bright colors. I even find the “location” weddings on exotic beaches to be on a wild side. Having said that, this unexpectedly elegant and understated scent would go perfectly well with the entirely un-bohemian, obsessively color-coordinated, urban, “traditional white” ceremonies I unimaginatively favor.

Bohemian Wedding is what I would call “sumptuous cologne with a twist”. It displays the fresh, bracing citrus side of classical colognes, it has the traditional, beautiful (and very weddingy) orange blossom note, but feels more substantial then an average eau de cologne and has an interesting earthy leitmotif that grows stronger as the scent progresses and that culminates into a gorgeous drydown of patchouli, soft woods and a non-sweet, even almost bitter citrus accord. Although citruses rule the composition, patchouli for me is the true star of Bohemian Wedding. This is not patchouli as I know and not always love; it is not warm, sensual and dark. I never thought I’d say this about this gipsy of a note, but patchouli here feels airy and ethereal. This patchouli is a good girl of her wild-living family. She got married in an elegant traditional gown and a veil, with her eyes modestly cast down.

Bohemian Wedding is streamlined and uncluttered but not simplistic. It is not as “boozy” as many of Rich Hippie scents (a quality that probably has something to do with the fact that this organic company bases their scents on “spirits of wine” from the wine regions of California), but it has the same joyful, blissful feel that I love in the perfumes of this line.

Bohemian Wedding is available at, $95.00 for 1/2oz or $245.00 for 2oz.

And to start a week on a fun note, I thought I'd have a prize draw. The winner, chosen randomly, will receive my sample of Bohemian Wedding and a sample of another of my favorites from Rich Hippie, Psychedelic. Simply let me know in your comment that you do want to be included. Good luck and have a great week!

The first image is from, the second from

Saturday, November 11, 2006

7th Annual Basenotes Fragrance Awards - Voting is now open

Voting is now open for the 7th Annual Basenotes Fragrance Awards sponsored by Aedes de Venustas. Consumers from all over the world can now vote in the 7th Annual Basenotes Fragrance Awards. There are several new categories this year including Best Fragrance Blog, and Best Celebrity Fragrance. The awards are sponsored this year by New York-based perfumery, Aedes de Venustas, and one randomly-picked voter will receive an Aedes Giftcard worth $200.

The categories for the 7th Annual Basenotes Fragrance Awards are:

• Best new fragrance (masculine and feminine)
• Best overall fragrance (masculine and feminine)
• Best fragrance for day (masculine and feminine)
• Best fragrance for evening (masculine and feminine)
• Best fragrance packaging (masculine and feminine)
• Best designer, mainstream or fine fragrance (masculine and feminine)
• Best niche, independent, artisanal or boutique fragrance (masculine and feminine)
• Best mass-market, drugstore, budget or direct-sell fragrance (masculine and feminine)
• Best celebrity fragrance (masculine and feminine)
• Best fragrance house
• Best fragrance blog

Votes can be registered at the website. Voting closes on 31st December 2006, and the results will be announced in February 2007.

About the Basenotes Fragrance Awards
At the end of every year, fragrance website, Basenotes, has asked fragrance consumers which fragrances they have enjoyed in that year. The results are then tallied and announced in February. Last year the awards were dominated by the French house of Creed who picked up four awards (Best Fragrance House, Best Fragrance for Daywear, Best Masculine Niche Fragrance and Best Feminine Niche Fragrance). Two awards each were picked up by Yves Saint Laurent (Best feminine fragrance for daywear and Best masculine fragrance for evening) and Thierry Mugler (Best feminine fragrance for evening and Best masculine fragrance).

(From Basenotes press-release)

Friday, November 10, 2006

Coming to TV Screens Near You - Project Perfume

I love Project Runway. I miss Project Runway. And I wonder…if we are amused by designers sewing on TV and chefs cooking and models posing, wouldn’t we (and by “we” I probably mean mostly perfume nuts) be enthralled by a show, in which contestants are young-ish aspiring perfumers who in each episode have to live up to a new challenge? Just imagine…The permanent judges would include Laurice Rahme (because I just know that she’d be capable of delivering the kinds of snarky remarks that make great TV), Maurice Roucel (because he is one of the greatest noses of our time), and yours truly who would humbly volunteer to be the “Nina Garcia” of the group ("Whatever you do, don’t bore Colombina!"). Since Heidi Klum is otherwise engaged, we’d get Nadia Auermann who is even more gorgeous and has the same kind of cute accent. Now, the Tim-Gunnesque mentor position is harder to fill, what with the charisma, the vast experience and the “nurturing” side that this person would have to posses… I think that Sophia Grojsman would fit the bill perfectly.

The challenges would include:

Episode 1. Creating a perfume only from the ingredients found in the perfumers’ new NYC digs. The winner cleverly mixes cognac, cayenne pepper, sandalwood air freshener and a fellow contestant’s Kiehl’s Musk. Judges are optimistic and proclaim that the show is off to a great start.

Episode 2. Updating a perfume “icon”. The perfume of the winner smells like Diorissimo with a touch of Cacao, on a base of nail polish and tar. The loser takes a short cut by watering down Bandit and making it “sparkle” by adding grapefruit and pink pepper. Despite the protests of the guest judge, the President of Lanvin, the contestant is eliminated for boring judge Colombina to tears.

Episode 3. Coming up with a perfume wardrobe for a fellow contestant. Jo Malone guest-judges, talks about layering, understatement in perfumery and the difficulty of making scents last. The loser is eliminated, because even when worn all at the same time, his scents disappear within seconds. "Your perfumes make Pierre de Lune seem almost Loukhoumesque in comparison”, sneers judge Colombina.

Episode 4. Making an iris scent on a budget of $100 (Good luck, make it work!). Maurice Roucel scoffs at the insipid offerings. “Bah! You call that iris? There is more tuberose in Le Labo’s Tubereuse 40 than there is iris in your so-called iris perfume! Have you even sniffed Iris Silver Mist? Bah!”

Episode 5. Creating an anti-perfume. Guest judges, Christopher Brosius and Rei Kawakubo, help choosing the winning scent. It smells of nothing in particular with a vague hint of gasoline and baby heads.

Episode 6. Creating an “exotic” scent. The contestants are whisked to Morocco to meet Serge Lutens. The winner’s scent, a dark brew of leather, roses, honey, balsam and patchouli, joins Lutens’s export line for a period of one month. (Aedes and Barney's are immediately sold out; the price of decants on ebay goes through the roof; overnight, the scent becomes more cult than Matthew Williamson Incense). The loser is eliminated for overloading a perfectly nice blend of oakmoss, labdanum and immortelle with some strange caramelized nuts and licorice.

Episode 7. Making a supremely chic scent. The guest judge, Frederic Malle, teaches the contestants the basics of chic perfumery. “When creating a perfume, ask yourself, would my friends' maids wear this?”, advises Malle. “If yes, your perfume is not chic”. The loser, a slightly hippie girl from a farm in Ohio, struggles to grasp the concept of one’s friends having a maid and is eliminated for creating a perfume that is judged to be "too busy” and “cheap”. “It’s as if your perfume is full of…of…oh, I don’t know…fleurchons or something”, declares Malle. “C’est ne pas chic”. The winner’s blend, L’Eau de L’Eau, is praised by Malle for being sublimely subtle and joins his line of perfumes for a period of one month, amidst the protestations from judge Colombina, who thinks “it's too similar to that scentless scent by Ellena, only more aquatic”.

Episode 8. Learning about Inspiration from Laurice Rahme and creating a homage to one of the landmarks of New York. The loser is eliminated for making a scent inspired by The Statue of Liberty smell “too floral, too obviously feminine, too much like Fleurissimo”. Letting her Gallic temperament show, Laurice Rahme reproaches the contestant for not thinking outside the box and not having the X factor. “And besides, did you not know that the prize for this challenge is for a winning scent to join my fabulous collection of scents for a period of one month?! I cannot allow some Creed smellalike in my award-winning line! Tsk!” The winning contestant creates a tea-caviar-vodka-blinis blend inspired by the defunct Russian Tea Room. “It’s like she read my mind”, enthuses judge Colombina, shedding nostalgic tears.

Episode 9. Coming up with a modern scent for the House of Guerlain. The guest judge, the Guerlain CEO, explains to the remaining contestants that the house needs for a new scent to be young and edgy. “We want hip, we want cool, we want something that is not formidable”. The episode is full of drama. Judges Roucel and Colombina squabble about Insolence. Judge Colombina threatens to leave the show as the contestant whose scent she liked the most is eliminated for, in the words of Guerlain CEO, making his entry smell “too dark, too complex, too much like a Guerlain”. “We don’t want that kind of brooding, heavy, sensual base", tells the CEO to the poor contestant. “We want to attract young audience, not scare them off! Haven’t you read the marketing reports that clearly show that customers are incapable of appreciating fragrances that are not pink and fruity?!” The winning scent, with notes of peony, freesia, red currants, magnolia, white musk and vanilla, makes the CEO well up with tears of joy and optimism for the future of perfumery. The perfume joins the Guerlain line for a period of one month and is eventually made part of the permanent collection.

The Reunion Episode, apart from much spritzing, hugging, air-kissing and bickering, makes it known that the losing contestant from the Guerlain challenge has started his own perfume line. Perfume blogs and forums are raving about his scents and Barney’s is already out of stock on his collection. The losing contestant of the Update the Icon challenge is hired by Lanvin to work on the re-release of the legendary Scandal.

Episode 10, The Finale. For the final challenge, the two remaining contestants, the one with the pink Guerlain scent and the one with the exotic Lutenesque scent, must create 10 perfumes each. They are urged to think outside the box, to make their scents smell fierce, to show a different side of themselves and to generally make it work. After sniffing the 20 final entries, the judges deliberate. Well, actually they fight trying to choose between the Highly Marketable & Mainstream and the Obviously Niche & Kind of Weird. Judge Colombina loses temper and attacks the guest judge, the President of Lancôme. “You and your so-called Magie re-issue! [bleep] [bleep] Sikkim my [bleep]!” "Only you and your pretentious blogger friends who think that perfume is some kind of Art would want to buy this guy's stuff", lashes back the President. “It’s a catfight!”, excitedly observes Roucel as Laurice Rahme sardonically looks on. Finally the two contestants are called back. After a pause pregnant with tension, Nadia Auermann proclaims the Niche Weird Lutenesque guy America’s Next Top Perfumer. The winner gets $100000 to start his own line, an internship with Bond No 9, a red Ferrari and a spread in Perfumer & Flavorist magazine shot by the renowned fashion photographer Gilles Bensimon. (The loser is hired by Guerlain as an assistant in-house perfumer.)

The end.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Yin and Yang

Review by Tom

I've gotten a boatload of samples in...But I'm going to cheat and write a review of two scents I have already. So sue me!

Caron Royal Bain de Caron / Royal Bain de Champagne

This one I had a yoof, oddly it has survived the period when others, sadly did not perhaps because at the time I did not grasp how good it was.

Now called Royal Bain de Caron, (apparently some people were annoyingly sticky about the champagne thing), it was introduced in 1941, supposedly to supplant some Calfornia milionaire's champagne baths. It starts with a sparkly wine note that makes me think of a good chardonnay. Just at the point where that would become a big snooze, a wonderful musk slinks in, like a bad girl in a film noir determined to cause havok, or at least cadge a drink. Just when you think you have it pegged, powdery violet and lilac drops in to wrestle with the musk, spending a long time almost like the olfactory equivalent of a Chuck Jones cartoon, with a musky devil on one shoulder inciting you to open another magnum and a violet/lilac angel on you're other trilling that you should abstain. At the end on me, the angel wins and the musk turns all church-like and powdery, like Sadie Thompson in the second act. I find it a pleasant change from my usual quest for ever skankier and more leather-clad scents, although I had dropped a touch of CB I Hate Perfume Musk in there at the end just for the hell of it.

Caron Yatagan

All of you are familiar with Colombina's excellent review, if not, please click the link. I'll wait.


Back? Good. Adding to what Colombina wrote, I will say that this one starts out on me VERY in-your-face, smelling strongly of an ashtray. You know the one, the ashtray after a night out doing things you know that you are going to have to say a bunch of Hail Mary's over come Sunday. Oddly, it has a weird hit of celery in there as well, as if you'd chain-smoked and hit the crudite plate really hard. Also oddly, it's fabulous, this coming from a rabid ex-smoker. Earth and musk and labdanum and leather join in at various points to remind you that in the 70's people really got bisssay (what will this decades perfume legacy look like 30 years from now?). This is smells like the socially acceptable version of sex with a Tom of Finland illustration. To borrow from Kelley: Leather-Hottie-in-a-Can.

Both of these are available on the internet at prices that are scandalous considering how great these are. Get 'em now before others discover them.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Perfume Review: Guerlain Metallica / Metalys

Today Ina of Aromascope and I are reviewing Guerlain’s Metallica a.k.a. Metalys. We decided to write about the scent on the same day mainly to amuse you with contrasting opinions our reviews will undoubtedly present. You see, Ina Gets It, and I Don’t. I feel rather inferior and in a minority of one when faced with what seems to be universal love for Metallica. For example, look at the high score the fragrance gets at MakeupAlley. Or read a beautiful review on Bois de Jasmin, in which Victoria talks about “carnations set in gold”, the perfume “alight with amber”, displaying “the same golden glow that bathes the figures and the landscapes in the paintings by Titian.”

On my skin, Metallica refuses to exhibit the magic it generously shares with others. It smells on me like an unremarkable mix of Guerlain’s Terracotta Voile d’Ete and I Profumi di Firenze Talco Delicato. From the former, it borrows the dainty, pale carnations, from the latter, the sweet, vanillic powderiness. The attractive ylang-ylang note that appears in the beginning does not stay long, and when it leaves, it takes away all the sumptuousness and richness the scent could have possessed. Apart from ylang-ylang’s untimely departure, Metallica does not undergo much development on my skin. If I try really hard, I sort of sense a certain ambery dirtiness in the drydown, which most self-respecting Guerlain scents are supposed to have, but that’s about it. Carnations, a touch of rose and a lot of vanilla are all I get. If carnations were brighter and spicier or / and if the vanilla note was deeper and richer, if the amber was more forceful, perhaps I would have been more moved by Metallica. As it is, the only exciting thing about this pretty fragrance is its (unlucky for Guerlain) association with Metallica the rock group. I spritz and immediately there comes the earworm:

Musha rain dum-a-doo dum-a-da, ha, ya
Whack for my daddy-o
Whack for my daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar-o
Yeah, whiskey, yo, whiskey...
Oh-oh, ya

So please click here, listen to one of my favorite Metallica songs and then go to Aromascope to enjoy a review written by someone who appreciates and loves this scent.

Metallica, now sold under the name Metalys, is available in Guerlain’s boutique in Paris, €130.00 for 125ml. Bottles of Metallica often appear on eBay and cost anywhere from $200.00 to $400.00.

The image is from

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

From The Mouths of Husbands ... Vote or Stink!

Today being Election Day, we can all be thankful … (a theme for later this month) … that FINALLY all the political ads on TV will come to an end!

But there is one political movement you may have missed among the mud slinging, sex scandals and partisan rhetoric. And that is the rise of a new party … a new force in world politics … the rise of the perfumocrats!

Whilst running for no office in particular, perfumocrat party leader Colombina, is lobbying to hold a new cabinet position … Secretary of Scent!

The perfumocrats arose from a secret society called “Opus Dior”. This society has at its core, the task of making the world a better smelling place. It is a very strict society with lots of secret means of self-discipline. Rumored to be among these means, members often endure agonizing hours of humiliation by spritzing huge doses of Giorgio on themselves and wear it as a reminder of their short comings.

The movement began in the Middle Ages … a very smelly time indeed. Over the centuries as technology advanced the availability of baths and showers, the movement went underground … except in France of course, where perfumes were created and mastered whilst the people Francais unexplainably resisted the movement towards regular baths and showers (and reportedly continue to do so to this day).

Colombina rose through the ranks of Opus Dior in the late 1990s, when she reportedly became their leader. Under her leadership, a new ‘religion’ was founded, called “Scentology”. It became in vogue for some Hollywood types to join the Scentologists.

In order to keep the faith centered and focused, and not confused with other “Hollywood Religions”, Colombina banned certain acts as sacrosanct. These included the banning of: jumping on sofas, making really bad sci-fi movies in support of the religion’s founder … and coming within 50 yards of Matt Lauer.

Under her influence as secretary of scent, Colombina proposes that all airline passengers MUST carry some liquid containers aboard including perfumes, colognes and breath freshener. Should a passenger be found not to contain any of these items in his/her carry-on, he/she will be strapped down during the in-flight presentation of duty free perfume items and essentially be used as a human daub.

Recently, while speaking at a Guerlain Youth rally, Colombina proposed that the immigration problem be settled by making all aliens pass a simple smell test at the border and only the really good smelling immigrants be granted permission to enter. She quickly acted to strike the addendum (submitted by Mr. Colombina) that special exception be granted to all the ‘really hot Latin babes’.

At the rally, Colombina told her followers, "Ask not what Guerlain can do for you ... ask what you can do for Guerlain!"

In an effort to appear more centrist, Colombina amended her proposal, adding that the US should fund an effort to fill the Rio Grande with all discarded Christmas ‘gift set’ perfumes to aid our Mexican amigos in their effort to pass the smell test.

Colombina has also raised the issue of creating an emergency cologne relief organization. “Where were the perfumers during ‘Katrina’? I ask you”, said Colombina. Hundreds of thousands of Louisiana and Mississippi residents, without showering or bathing options went days smelling like a 'Survivor' contestant's hamper!” she continued.

“It’s a disgrace, that in what is largely our only French-speaking state, that so many went so long without so much as a department store spritzing.”

Colombina also promises to fund a national smell insurance program so that even the working poor, the homeless and for that matter ALL Americans can have access to at least generic perfumes (from Canada most likely) until such time as they can afford proper perfume.

Colombina also vehemently opposed legislation that would have required us to refer to all French pefumes as "freedom" perfumes. She said such nonsense was a waste of political power when "we should be focused on funding research into alternative fragrances to lessen America's dependence on foreign scents."

For those who question Colombina’s military will … and who label her a pacifist, Colombina is quick to remind voters that she supports the invasion of Canada … particularly the regions where the wearing of perfume is illegal … and to topple their axis of evil smells and replace it with the bath party. Colombina also alleges that Canada is hiding its ‘dirty bomb’ program to produce weapons of musk destruction.

In her “No Child Left Behind Smelling Badly” program, Colombina proposes that the solution starts in our schools … though the religious right is strongly opposed to her mandate of scent education being taught in the classroom.

After clearing herself of any wrong-doing in the Toilet Water Gate scandal, Colombina set forth some radical proposals including the making of Coco Chanel's birthday, a national holiday.

Some have challenged her voting record, though official documents reveal she was present at every Perfumocrat vote with one exception ... and that was quite forgivable ... as it coincided with the Macy's "One Day Sale."

I for one, fully support Colombina’s candidacy for Secretary of Scent. It’s high time we had a change in DC. After all, we do have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of loveliness. So let’s rename Washington as the “District of Colombina” and let her get to work cleaning up government. Because … let’s face it … Washington stinks!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Perfume Review: Bond No 9 West Side

West Side, a new fragrance by Bond No 9, pays homage to the musical side of New York. Created by Michel Almairac (Fire Island, Scent of Peace, Bois d'Encens, Cuir Amethyste), it is described as “an ultra-melodious eau de parfum that finds the scent equivalent for the sounds of music in its full-bodied, mellow composition, its undulating rhythms, its harmonies, its pitch - and yes, its notes”. I must say that the rich colors of the bottle, the list of notes (rose, ylang ylang, peony, sandalwood, amber, vanilla), and the inspiration behind the scent lead me to expect a fragrance more vivid, more forceful, more loud. In fact, when I tested West Side on a scent strip, it was indeed bright, pink-red in feel, pretty and girly; it was disco, it was salsa, it was reggae. On my skin, however, the scent turned out to be soft and subtle, a soulful jazz melody played very quietly … and that is how I prefer it.

On me, West Side is all about sandalwood and vanilla, with the flowers being just ornaments, colorful specks on the light-brown, cashmere fabric of the composition. The rose is the most prominent floral note here; combined with peony, in the top notes, it smells fresh and dewy. As the scent develops and the wood and vanilla come into play, the rose grows simultaneously warmer and less apparent. The sandalwood note is beautiful, velvety-soft, vanilla is at its best behavior, which means that it adds softness and warmth but isn’t too sweet. The drydown is mostly musk, which, mixed with vanilla, appears to be clean and cuddly at the same time, a skin scent in the best possible way. If I had to find examples of similar scent, I would have said that West Side smells to me like an offspring of a union between Tocade (roses and vanilla) and Organza Indecence (wood and vanilla), although this lovely offspring is much, much more delicate, gentle and introspective than its rather robust "parents".

West Side is easy to wear; it’s comfortable, comforting and very versatile. It can be “taken” anywhere, to Carnegie Hall, to a small jazz café, and to one’s comfortable sofa, to cuddle under a warm blanket. I would love to have a bottle for the upcoming holiday parties and miserably cold days ahead.

West Side is available at, Bond No 9 boutiques, Saks, Beautycafe and wherever Bond No 9 fragrances are sold, $125.00 for 1.7oz or $185.00 for 3.4oz.

Tsk, Tsk, Tsk...

Nicky Verfaillie Grain de Folie (1982) VS Donna Karan Black Cashmere (2002)
Versace Blonde (1996) VS Immaginal Beyond Forever (2006)

Guerlain Insolence (2006) VS Project Runway Angela Keslar Fleurchon (2006)

Do you see what I see?