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Friday, June 29, 2007

Needle in a Haystack. Perfume Review: Une Fleur de Chanel

My random sample pick for today is Une Fleur de Chanel. Inspired by Chanel's legendary love for camellias, Une Fleur was released as a limited edition in 1998-1999, then re-released again and finally disappeared for good. This is one discontinuation that I don't particularly regret. Although pretty and very wearable, Une Fleur de Chanel seems to me to be rather indistinct, lacking in character. I feel that the House could have done a much better job of honoring Mademoiselle's favorite flower.

My main grievance with the scent is its pale, watery drydown. I appreciate the idea of a cool, fresh, somewhat understated, airy and white fragrance that the creators seemed to have in mind. I love fragrances like that, especially in summer. They are my White Dress Scents. I think that elegant understatement and freshness are two of the hardest qualities to achieve in perfume. Make the scent too subtle, and it becomes bland. Make it too breezy and clean, and it goes soapy or unpleasantly aquatic. The base of Une Fleur de Chanel is bland, aquatic and even a little sudsy. And yet the beginning of the perfume is so very promising. It starts with a cold, transparent floral accord that has slight, almost imperceptible fruitiness. The accord reminds me in a way of the magnolia beloved by Maurice Roucel. The sweetness intensifies, the flowers now have an almost incensey, ambery feel and a very appealing vaguely apricot-like undertone. At this stage Une Fleur de Chanel reminds me of Shiseido's Message From Orchids. I realize that jasmine and rose are declared in the official notes, and perhaps they are playing tricks with me, because what I smell in the top and middle notes of Une Fleur are magnolias and orchids, and I like that. At the heart stage, towards the end of it, I also smell a green floral accord, which is weaved out of a lighter, drier green of lily of the valley and the darker, more sharply and more sumptuously green of hyacinth. And it is at this point that things start to go wrong, the flowers pale away and the green accord slowly but surely transforms into a rather aquatic one. It is not an aggressive marine undertone, but it is very much there and it overwhelms the pretty flowers and makes the drydown of Une Fleur ...there is no other word for it...generic and dull.

That being said, I do enjoy the chilly floral elegance of Une Fleur de Chanel in the heat of summer. There are, however, other White Dress Scents that I prefer: Chanel's much more successful cool and effervescent Cristalle, Patou's youthful and refined Caline, Malle's somewehat less shy but still quite cold beauty, Lys Mediterranee, and L'Artisan's crisp Verte Violette. By the way, the latter two also have an aquatic quality, but it is rendered in such a way that it does not take over the composition instead helping to showcase the ethereal nature of the star accords.

Une Fleur de Chanel can still be found online, Perfume Emporium seems to have it in stock, $69.99 for 1.2oz.

Please visit Aromascope to read about Ina's "needle" of the week.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Rose Kashmirie, new fragrance from Les Parfums de Rosine

On July 17, Marie-Hélène Rogeon, the creator of Les Parfums de Rosine, will unveil a new scent, called Rose Kashmirie. Composed by François Robert, the new release is described as a perfume- "choc", a rose scent that is oriental, spicy, soft, sensual and cordial. The notes are said to be Indian rose, saffron and green musk. Rose and saffron is often a beautiful combination, and I am intrigued!

(Via an email press-release)

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Chergui

Review by Tom

When it was annoumced that Make-up Alley had chosen this as the new #1 fragrance of the top 25, I was reminded that I had never reviewed it (although both I and Colombina thought I did), even though I liked it enough to buy two bottles: one as a back-up against the day when it faded back to being an exclusive.

As you are all aware, Chergui is named for a Moroccan desert wind: there seem to be more names for desert winds than there are, well, winds in the desert, but never mind. On me Chergui starts off sweet: a smoky tea aspect with the barest hint of milk and sugar and a hay-like accord as if you were being served a bracing cup of sweetened lapsang souchong in a beit al-sha'r. A smoky tobacco note joins in, getting stronger and stronger as the scent wears, joined by leather. The smoky leather accord seems to peek in and around the sweet spices at various phases, as if carried on that desert wind curling around you nose in gusts. There isn't a lot of development past this phase, for me it basically stays here, doing its dance until the final drydown where the sandalwood and the musk are more pronounced and the sweet tea and hay are settled into balance with the leather and tobacco.

Chergui is (some say) still available at Barneys and Fred Segal In Santa Monica and West Hollywood but may be gone as of this writing, which leaves them only available at the Palais Royale in Paris, should you be fortunate enough to be going there, live there or have a friend in the EU willing to ship to you.

I would also like to mention that next week will be the first anniversary of Colombina opening out her blog to participants like me. I'm not sure what I am going to review for that anniversary, but I want to thank her in advance (and publicly) for allowing me to natter on for the past 12 months- it has been wonderful fun, and I look forward to more!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perfume Review: Montale Aoud Velvet

After all the gushing about Montale yesterday (and there is more to come), I decided to talk about a scent from the line I don't like. One has to maintain one's reputation as an objective blogger. So here is my take on Aoud Velvet. I believe a more fitting name would have been Aoud Chinatown, as in Bond No 9 Chinatown, because the two smell remarkably alike to me. Aoud Velvet displays the same thick creaminess, the presence of which in Chinatown I attribute to tuberose, and which in Aoud Velvet is most probably the characteristic of tiare. Blended with sandalwood and tonka bean, tiare here produces the similar effect, rich, "fatty", and strangely (not entirely unpleasantly) chemical, making Aoud Velvet reminiscent of the same lacquered boxes which some people, including me, smell in Chinatown. And it is not that this "lacquered sandalwood box" quality is not striking, but I have been there with Chinatown, and now I am over it. As a side note, some of Parfums de Nicolai scents, in particular Sacrebleu and Vanille Tonka, have a similar, although much less "lacquered" creaminess on my skin.

Another aspect of Aoud Velvet that bothers me is its fruitiness. I realize that there seem to be no fruits or berries listed among the official notes, but when have official notes told the whole truth? As far as my nose is concerned, Aoud Velvet starts with jam-like raspberry, followed by a note that smells decidedly peachy (by the way, peach is quite prominent in Chinatown) ...the peach note is soon accompanied by vanilla, then tiare appears on the scene, and then the "lacquered" effect I described above begins to unfold. As for the aoud note, it is altogether too understated, beaten into submission by vanilla, tiare and "fruits". Was the title ingredient stronger, perhaps the composition would have been less "thick" and cloying (and less reminiscent of Chinatown). As it is, the (heavy, opulent, peach-colored) velvet is there, but the striking, spicy sharpness of oud is sadly missing.

Aoud Velvet can be found at Suravi, Luckyscent and Montale boutiques, $150.00 for 50ml, $210.00 for 100ml.

For Women of Genuine Distinction

"To the woman of genuine social distinction only a very few perfumes are acceptable ... Among them is Rigaud's Un Air Embaumé, an authentic Parisian fragrance of most intriguing personality ... Parfum Un Air Embaumé and the various other aids to the loveliness, bearing this same delicate scent, are all created in Paris ... Doubtless you know them."

(From 1925 Rigaud Un Air Embaumé advertisement.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Perfume Review: Montale White Aoud

My name is Marina and I am a born-again Montale addict. I take back everything I have ever said about their oud line. There can't be too many aoud scents. And they don't all smell the same. And I will strike down with great vengeance and furious anger upon those who attempt to bad-mouth my new favorite line ... sorry, got carried away... The oud-skeptics like me (in my previous, empty, Montale-less existence) should try White Aoud to find out how different the note might smell in a softer, sweeter, lighter composition. The oud beginners and those wary of the note's dry, spicy forcefulness, might want to start their acquaintance with the genre by smelling the gentle White Oud. I never imagined that I would use such a word in relation to an aoud fragrance, but White Aoud smells...fluffy. Fluffy, cuddly, comforting and incredibly delightful.

The scent starts with a beautiful rose accord, which is simultaneously fruity (the natural fruitiness of roses) and spicy (saffron, cardamom and, of course, oud). The juicy deliciousness of the top notes makes me think of exotically piquant rose jam, or rather of fresher, less sweet rose coulis. The honeyed roses never quite disappear, but after a while a soft, fluffy accord of patchouli, sandalwood, amber and vanilla emerges at the forefront, moving the roses to the background.

It is hard to explain what I mean when I say that a fragrance smells fluffy...fluffiness to me implies delicate sweetness, an enveloping feel, a downy, velvety quality. It also alludes to an understated character of a composition. A fluffy scent is never heavy, heady or overwhelmingly sweet. The examples of other fluffy scents would be Dior Bois d'Argent, Bvlgari Black (yes, really, underneath all the rubber, Black is totally fluffy), Barbara Bui, Malone Blue Agava & Cacao, Guerlain Iris Ganache (in parts, especially in the drydown)...Solange Stoned, Guerlain Cuir Beluga and L de Lempicka are a little too sweet and "thick" to be truly fluffy, but they are still quite close to the fluffy ideal. I believe that it is vanilla used in a moderate proportion and paired with soft woods and amber and often with heliotrope and myrrh that creates the fluffy effect. Vanilla is certainly quite apparent in White Aoud and it is that note, together with amber and sandalwood, that softens the striking, sharp beauty of oud making it more approachable, transforming its cold and brutish sensuality into something almost innocent and childish, something delightfully cuddlesome.

White Aoud is available at Suravi, $150.00 for 50ml (100ml bottles are expected to be in stock shortly and will cost $210.00). Call to order, (813) 657-6773, and don't forget that members of Makeupalley and Basenotes get 10% off retail price and free shipping.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Little Miss Colomina's Perfume Collection. Le Labo Ambrette 9

Ever since having discovered the luminous beauty of ambrette seed in Chanel No 18, I have been looking for other perfumes that feature a generous dose of this delicately-musky, vaguely fruity, slightly boozy note. Ambrette 9, created for Le Labo by Michel Almairac, is, as the name suggests, precisely that, a fragrance centered around ambrette seed. It is Le Labo's offering for babies and their mommies, and I cannot think of a more fitting fragrance for the target audience. It is the smell of tenderness.

Ambrette 9 is indescribably lovely on my little one, the soft musky-fruity accord enhancing the naturally sweet smell of her skin. On me it is a little less fruity, more musky and a little more floral, with almost-illusory hints of jasmine and rose. There really isn't much to tell about the scent's development, as there is basically none. From the beginning to the drydown, it is the softly radiant fragrance of ambrette accentuated by subtle floral and musky notes, but its simplicity is delightful, and, keeping in mind the delicacy of some of the potential wearers, appropriate.

Ambrette is an expensive ingredient, and Ambrette 9 is definitely not cheap. It retails for $50.00 (15ml), $125.00 (50ml), $190.00 (100ml), $600.00 (500ml) and $900.00 (1000ml, in case you perhaps want to bathe your baby in it?) and is available at and barneys'.com. Little Miss Colombina and I must have Ambrette 9 for the summer, cost notwithstanding.

The painting is Sunday Morning by Lauri Blank,

Friday, June 22, 2007

Perfumes for Midsummer

'Tis the time for solstitial celebrations. Time to gather midsummer plants, time to lit and jump over bonfires, time to dance around a maypole, time to float flower garlands on rivers, time to perform rituals to look into the future, a good time to get married...and generally a chance to get in touch with your inner pagan...None of which I will actually do, I am sure, opting instead, as usual, for honoring the season by wearing the scents evocative of or suitable for the occasion.

So what kind of scents are Midsummer-appropriate? As bonfires are an important part of celebration in many countries, smoky scents like CB I Hate Perfumes Burning Leaves, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau des Iles, Le Labo Patchouli 24 and Parfums Regence Kolnisch Juchten immediately come to mind. For a subtler smoky effect, L'Artisan L'Eau du Navigateur, Annick Goutal Vetiver, Lutens Chene and Guerlain Bois d'Armenie would be perfect.

In Russia and Ukraine, the Midsummer Night is known as Ivan Kupala (the old name for John the Baptist), and along with fire, water is an important element of the celebrations. The maidens would float flower garlands and tell the fortunes by their movement...Perfumes that combine floral and watery elements, like Frederic Malle Lys Mediterranee or En Passant or Dior Dune, thus seem to be fitting.

In some countries, young people gather several kinds of flowers and put them under their pillows in the hopes of seeing their future suitors in a dream. That calls for luscious bouquets like Guerlain Jardin de Bagatelle, Patou Joy or 1000, L'Artisan La Haie Fleurie de Hameau, and Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Jardin Blanc. Their generous headiness would also signify fertility, one of the primary aspects of Midsomer rituals. Other scents that to me are "fertile" are very earthy ones, like CB I Hate Perfume Black March or Memory of Kindness, sumptuous, sweet, darkly-fruity, patchouli-amber blends like Chanel Coromandel or Tom Ford Black Orchid, and, of course, "dirty" musks, like Kiehl's, CB I Hate Perfume's, Malle Musc Ravageur or Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan.

It is believed that herbs gathered at Solstice are especially potent, and so wearing a herbal fragrance like Diptyque Virgilio, L'Essence de Mastenbroek Eau de Polder, La Base For Him, Lorenzo Villoresi Spezie and Yerbamate, Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Garrigue feels very appealing. Decorating with greenery is considered to be auspicious and so "green scents" in general are requisite, and here the choice is almost limitless. Among my most favorite green perfumes would be Chanel No 19 and Bel Respiro, Jacomo Silences, Lancome Climat, Tauer Reverie au Jardin and all sorts of lily of the valley scents.

The celebration of course wouldn't be complete without a lot of eating and a lot of drinking, and so a scent of excess and merriment like Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe or a warmly-boozy fragrance like Idole de Lubin, Ginestet Botrytis, D'Orsay Le Dandy, Lutens Mandarine-Mandarin and any number of Rich Hippie scents would hit the spot quite perfectly.

In general, the perfumes that are nocturnal, a little strange, rather mysterious seem to me to be perfect for Midsummer: perfumes like Mona di Orio Nuit Noire, Czech & Speake No 88, Montale ouds, especially the ones featuring prominent rose notes, L'Arte di Gucci, Shiseido Nombre Noir, Tom Ford Black Orchid or Velvet Gardenia, Strange Invisible Perfumes Black Rosette or Moon Garden, and Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle.

Happy Solstice everyone, have a wonderful summer!

Images: P.S. Krøyer: Midsummer Night's Bonfire at Skagen Strand, from, Ivan Kolozdra: Ivan Kupala Holiday, from, and Vitaliy Bartenev: At Kupalo Night, from

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Perfume Review: Frank Los Angeles Frank, #2, and #3

Review by Tom

Frank Los Angeles is a small house based here that specializes in scents that are "bold and unique, yet minimal". Sounds great for the start of what may be a scorching summer...


A bright citrus with minty green tea, it has a nice woody dry-down with hints of clove. This is one that I think I would use like a cold compress in hot weather. It's light without being insipid and simple without being boring. It also lacks the chemical elements that are usually found in most "simple, clean" scents: it won't remind you of Woolite.

Frank #2

Opens with a zing of bergamot (what doesn't these days?), but quickly gets to whispers of coffee, woods and spices. I was told by someone that they wouldn't think of wearing it in summer, but I can't agree: it's just not that heavy. I'd happily wear it in the worst heat.

Frank #3

This opens with melon. Melon is a note that usually makes me want to die, but here it's true to the honeydew and mercifully fleeting. When it dies out it leaves a nice sagey lavender that dries down to a skin musk and with a bare whisper of oakmoss.

Okay, I have to write that these aren't necessarily me: my days of inoffensive little scents are long past. I like mine to swing for the fences, and I will decide by application whether you're going to smell it or not. What I can appreciate about these is that they are very well made: linear and smooth without that underlying cheapness that almost always underly scents at this price-point from larger companies (*coughCKn2ucough*) If you are looking for a very well-made light scent with good lasting power at what I think is a very reasonable price ($65 for 65 ml) you should go to the Frank Los Angeles website's store locator for a store near you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Perfume Review: Montale Chocolate Greedy

I got no chocolate from Iris Ganache and was happy about it, because to me iris (and flowers in general) and chocolate simply do not go together. (One exception to the No Flowers Rule is Angel Lys. I find the pairing of white lilies and dark chocolate striking and pleasing.) That doesn't mean, however, that I am completely against chocolate in perfume. There are select few, like the delectable and slightly dirty Musc Maori, that I enjoy and sometimes crave. I prefer chocolate in perfume to be more or less straightforward ("just chocolate"), paired with musk, a little bit of vanilla and/or woods...but not flowers, never flowers, and preferably not fruits either. It should smell rich and creamy or even a little a velvety chocolate drink or a luscious, moist chocolate cake. Enter Chocolate Greedy, a new scent by Montale, which smells like both.

The beginning of Chocolate Greedy contains chocolate and copious amounts of cream, it is a succulent, buttery cocktail, so thick that one is probably better off eating it with a spoon. This is my favorite stage of the scent. If I had a bottle, I would keep reapplying just to experience the scrumptuous chocolate creaminess. After a while, Chocolate Greedy becomes more doughy, as if flour was added into the cocktail turning it into cookie or cake batter. Some chocolate chips have been added to the mix too, because the fragrance smells the most chocolatty at this point. This stage is very enjoyable as well; I love the raw aspect of the batter-like accord. As the scent progresses, it acquires slight powderiness, even a somewhat cardboard-like undertone, as if the cake was a little overcooked and became too dry and crumbly. This cardboard-like quality makes Chocolate Greedy quite a bit like Compotoir Sud Pacifique's Amour de Cacao, which I have never been able to wear exactly because of its powdery, somewhat artificial, overly sweet and strangely tough doughiness. The wonderfully soft and creamy characteristic of Chocolate Greedy is what makes it wearable and appealing for me. And luckily for me, the oozy, mellow creamy feel of the top notes returns in the base and that is how the perfume stays, as a delicate, milky, sweet skin-scent.

Would I buy it? Given the Montale prices and the fact that I want to wear a chocolate scent once in a blue moon, probably not. And if, unlike me, you can wear and enjoy Amour de Cacao, you probably don't need Chocolate Greedy either.

I believe that Chocolate Greedy has not been officially released in the US yet. It can be ordered from Montale boutique in Paris, tel.: 0033 (0) 142969744. You might also want to call or email Suravi to find out whether perhaps they already have it stock.

The image is by Anne Taintor, from

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Makeupalley Top 25 Fragrance Board Favorites

The results have been announced. The Top 25 Fragrance Board Favorites are:

1 Serge Lutens Chergui
2 Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
3 Hermes Ambre Narguile
4 Chanel No. 5
5 Serge Lutens Un Lys
6 Caron Tabac Blond
7 POTL Luctor et Emergo
8 Guerlain Mitsouko
9 Caron Parfum Sacre
10 Andy Tauer L'Air du Desert Marocain
11 Chanel No. 19
12 Chanel Bois des Iles
13 Creed Angelique Encens
14 Guerlain Shalimar
15 Chanel Coco
16 Guerlain Attrape Couer
17 Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
18 Bond no. 9 Chinatown
19 Guerlain L'Heure Bleue
20 Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger
21 Bond no. 9 West Side
22 Fifi Chachnil Fifi
23 Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDT
24 Guerlain Vol de Nuit
25 L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons

Honorable Mentions: Guerlain Apres L'Ondee, Guerlain Jicky, Chanel Cuir de Russe, Chanel no. 22.

It looks like there is only match between my Top 25 and the final Top 25, Attrape-Coeur (with which I very recently fell out of love, but that's another story), and I am not a big fan of the new No 1, Chergui... But that is fine. I am so happy that the evil reign of POTL, which has been Top 1 for two years, is finally over.

Many thanks to Kate (kateem) for doing the incredible work of collecting and counting our votes!

Perfume Review: Guerlain Iris Ganache

Iris Ganache is the fifth perfume to join Guerlain's excluisive L’Art et la Matière collection. Created by Theirry Wasser, the scent is described as "iris butter worked like a pastry ganache" ( Ganache is a term that describes a mixture of chocolate and cream, and in the case of Iris Ganache, the chocolate is said to be white. I am very happy to report that the chocolate note is completely missing on my skin, and the fragrance does not smell to me in the least gourmand. The Ganache part of the name perhaps should not be taken literally, as it hints on the soft, "rounded" quality of the composition and its gentle creaminess rather than on any overt foody characteristics.

The fragrance starts with an iris note brightened by citrus. The iris smells rooty and cold, just the way I like it, and the lovely creaminess lended by vanilla poses a very appealing contrast to the silvery chilliness of iris. Both the creamy and the rooty aspects stay present throughout the scent's development; iris, however, gives way to violet, which seems to dominate the heart of the fragrance adding to it a certain, not overwhelming, powderiness. (As a side note, I have read about Iris Ganache being somewhat reminiscent of Insolence, but again I am happy to say that there is no similarity between the two on my skin. Both scents feature violets, but between the faux-youthfull brashness of Insolence and the softly-spoken elegance of Iris Ganache lies the world of a difference.) The middle stage also features a dash of spice, which, paired with the earthy patchouli, adds depth and darkness to the blend. This powdery, slightly brooding part of Iris Ganache smells very "Guerlain" to me, more so than the other four L’Art et la Matière perfumes, which is probably only to be expected from an orris fragrance. The base of Iris Ganache is to me the best stage, after the creamy and shimmering beginning. The mix of velvety woods, amber, patchouli and that raw note that runs like a leitmotif through the composition of Iris Ganache remind me a little of Dior's elegantly fluffy Bois d'Argent.

The raw property, which I mentioned several times, is what makes Iris Ganache smell interesting to me. This is not the first time I admire the raw quality in a perfume created by Wasser; his poignantly frail and very earthy Sloth showcased that quality wonderfully. Having said that, I wish that Iris Ganache was not quite so soft and understated. It is a quiet scent, with hardly any sillage and very mediocre lasting power. And it is not that I begrudge it its elegant mutedness and its short life on my skin (I don't mind re-applying scents I love), it is just that...oh I don't know...I feel that it is too neutral, somehow lacking in character. Still, it is a charming, elegant, extremely wearable fragrance, and if someone gave it to me, I would have used it with much pleasure, but I will not be buying it for myself.

Iris Ganache is available at Bergdorf Goodman, $200.00 for 75ml.

Image source,

Orris Root in Cooking

Sort of a propos the review of Iris Ganache... Looking through my Spice and Herb Bible by Ian Hemphill, I stumbled upon an entry on orris root. I had no idea that it had any use in culinary, and yet, according to Hemphill, during the 16th and 17th centuries, it was used in cooking [the author does not specify exactly how it was used]; "however, its popularity as a fragrance appeared to outweigh its culinary applications. (...) In Morocco, orris root powder is still featured as one of the exotic ingredients, along with Spanish fly and hashish, in the fragrant and heady spice blend ras el hanout."

Hemphill sugests using 1/4tsp of orris root with red meats, 1/8tsp with white meats, 1/8tsp with vegetables and 1/8tsp with carbohydrates. In his opinion, the floral and bitter flavor of orris root combines well with allspice, caraway, cardamom, cloves, coriander seed, cumin, dill seed, ginger, fennel seed, paprika, pepper, and turmeric.

The image is from, where 1oz of orris root retails for $2.49. Ras el hanout can be found on, $6.99 for 3.5oz.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Perfume Review: Hermes Kelly Caleche

On Thursday, Kelly Caleche, the latest release from Hermes, will be unveiled for an exclusive preview at the new Hermès boutique on Wall Street. Created by Jean-Claude Ellena, the scent pays homage to the famous Kelly bag and Calèche, one of the first fragrances released by the house. You know how excited I was when I first heard about the upcoming launch of Kelly Caleche. Floral-leather is my kind of thing, Hermes is the house I adore and Ellena is the perfumer I highly respect. Kelly Caleche is not what I hoped, but neither it is what I feared. It is what in the rational corner of my excitable mind I expected it to be, an elegant, tolerably youthful, understated scent with tasteful hints rather than barbarically generous doses of leather.

The beginning playfully slapped me on the nose with an unexpected note of grapefruit. Before I could collect my wits and protest (I am not friendly with grapefruit), the citrusy explosion dissipated into a floral accord of commendable complexity. Kelly Caleche is full of nuances, all of them very subtle. The flowers are done in transparent soft hues and they mesh into a delicate harmony, in which it seems almost impossible to distinguish separate notes ...until suddenly a cold, rooty iris peaks through the pastel mist only to disappear just as quickly ...then a softly-powdery, vaguely gourmand, green and yellow mimosa comes forth and almost immediately goes away ...a sweet, sparkly rose pops up once in a while and hides again ...and thus on and on playing games, teasing me. The one note that spends most of its time in hiding is leather. During the first two-thirds of the scent's development, there is not even a hint of the note, and nothing in the gentle and whimsical floral blend seems to herald its arrival. Eventually leather tip-toes in and inconspicuously positions its well-mannered self behind the gauzy flowers. In accordance with the general feel of toned down elegance of the composition, the leather note speaks in a quiet, soft voice, and one has to strain to hear it. The note makes me think not of an expensive leather bag but rather of a trace of smell that the handle of such a bag would leave on one's skin. Kelly Caleche's is a tantalizingly subtle leather that I cannot help but wish was a little stronger.

The Kelly Caleche ad with the young modern amazon decisively striding along carrying a whip would make us believe there will be audaciousness and gutsiness in the fragrance, but I found the reality of the scent to be less daring. This is a refined, restrained, ladylike perfume, certainly youthful, simply because of its surprising, smiling playfulness, but not so young and overly girly as to render it unappealing to anyone over the age of 20-25. Kelly Caleche is the kind of fragrance that seems to be as easily wearable and universally appealing as possible without being too bland. If I were allowed to rename the scent, I would call it Miss Hermes, as it fullfils all the requirements - classic structure, elegance, tiny bit of flirtiness- for being placed as the house's offering to its somewhat younger clientele.

After premiering at the Wall St. store, Kelly Calèche will become available in Hermès’ boutique network in August, and in September it will be launched for global selective distribution.

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cute Packaging: Guerlain L'Instant Love Story

It seems that yet another limited edition of L'Instant has been released, this one called Love Story, with the image on the box created by an illustrator Izak Zenou. "...A new magic wraps me little by little and transforms me. A still unsuspected femininity awakes in me. Time can stop... [yada, yada, yada]... a play of 'hide-and-seek'". Notes: citrus fruits honey, magnolia, crystalline amber. (Sounds the same as the regular L'instant, so perhaps the limited edition is all about the packaging.) Available at French Sephora, €66,10 for 50ml of Eau de Parfum.

And while we are on the subject of L'Instant, did you know that both the feminine and the masculine version are available in giant, 500ml, bee bottles? Women's is Eau de Parfum and costs €340.00, men's is Eau de Toilette and costs €180.00. Also at French Sephora.

5 New Scents from CB I Hate Perfume

Christopher Brosius has finished and posted on his website five new perfumes:

CB Archetype #01 Eternal Return ( ocean )
The first scent in the series of primal smells, "Eternal Return is the scent of sailing toward the shore. It is a blend of Fresh Ocean Air, Wooden Ship and a faint hint of Cypress Trees growing on the cliff above the water…"

CB Archetype #04 Wild Hunt ( forest )
The fourth scent in the series of primal smells. "Wild Hunt is the scent of an ancient forest in the heat of a summer afternoon. It is a blend of Torn Leaves, Crushed Twigs, Flowing Sap, Fallen Branches, Old Leaves, Green Moss, Fir, Pine and Tiny Mushrooms."

CB Secret History / Greenbriar 1968
The scent was inspired by a memory of Brosius's Grandfather, "the sawmill that he owned and the stone house where he lived. It is blended with Sawdust, Fresh Cut Hay, Worn Leather Work Gloves, Pipe Tobacco and a healthy amount of Dirt. There is also a faint whiff of cotton overalls covered in Axel Grease…"

CB Secret History / I am a Dandelion
"Thought there are certainly “prettier” flowers", says Brosius, "the simple Dandelion remains my own favorite. Perhaps because its beauty lies in its innocence and the flower constantly reminds me of happier times. Dandelions are also extremely resilient and able to survive very harsh conditions. Much like me…" I am a Dandelion is "the simple scent of a Dandelion newly picked from the lawn."

CB Experience / Under the Arbor
Grape Leaf is a scent that reminds Brosius of some of the most beautiful places he has visited in California, Italy and France, and especially of the old grape arbor that grew in the yard of the house where he lived as a child. "This is the scent of Crushed Grape Leaves, Weathered Wood, Green Moss and Cool Earth."

The absolutes are available for purchase now, $11.00-$17.00 for 2ml, $55.00-$85.00 for 15ml. The water perfumes are coming soon.

The image is from

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Spray Yourself with Beauty

"It's no can, literally "spray yourself with beauty!" Here are the simple facts: Your make-up gives others the impression of beauty through their sense of sight. But your fragrance creates an even more vivid impression through the sense of smell.

A woman wearing FINE fragrance looks more beautiful simply because her fragrance gives a sense of elation to those around her. Magnify your your own attraction with the FINEST of fine fragrances ... COTY TOILET WATER. Spray it on as your foundation for beauty."

(From a vintage Coty ad)

Have a great weekend and please come back on Monday for a review of Kelly Caleche.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Needle in a Haystack. Perfume Review: Montale Oud Queen Rose

It is funny that in a random draw from my sample box for Ina's and mine joint feature, Needle in a Haystack, my hand should happen upon this particular sample. Sometimes the Universe displays fantastic serendipity. Tom and Robin talked about Montale yesterday. Ina has been saying for the last week or so that she is falling back in love with Montales. I fell pray to the 50% sale on the Swiss Montale site (what a mistake, never again!) and all in all it's all about Montale, baby, these days. I said many times before that overall the line leaves me cold, with the exception of Jasmin Full (which may or may not be right now making its way to me from Switzerland), Oud Cuir d'Arabie and maybe Black Oud. I tried Oud Queen Rose (or Aoud Queen Rose) before and dismissed it as too harsh, however, something in it must have touched me, since it ended up in the To-Review Box. Well, here is the thing. I re-tried it yesterday and it has now joined the elite ranks of the Montales I love. The scent is a Dark Rose extraordinaire and undoubtedly falls into my favorite fragrance "category", Perfumes for Femme Fatale.

The beginning of Oud Queen Rose is "the odor of the deepest rose, the wounded heart of the earth" (Neruda); the dark juiciness, the sensual ripeness, the pungent earthy undertones (roots, black soil, fallen crimson petals) of the first accords are astoundingly beautiful ...intoxicating ...wanton ...sultry ...I could go on. As the scent develops on my skin, in its middle stage, a certain note creeps in, something creamy, almost a little fruity, maybe even musky (hibiscus?) that I find somewhat disagreeable. But I am able to look past it and to continue enjoying the luscious nocturnal roses, which are prominent from start to finish, and the dry, resinous spiciness of oud. The base notes are the darkest of all. I smell leather and patchouli, and, combined with roses, they make the drydown of Oud Queen Rose absolutely irresistible for me. Were it not for a prohibitive price, which, given the sumptuous beauty of the scent, I am almost ready to proclaim justified, I would have bought Oud Queen Rose right now if not sooner. As it is, I might have to wait till another sale comes along or watch eBay like a hawk.

Oud Queen Rose is available at Suravi, $210.00 for 100ml and at Montale boutiques (please, learn from my mistakes and order from Paris and over the phone), CHF 115.00-185.00.

Please visit Aromascope to read about Ina's "needle" of the week.

The image of the rose, A Rose in Black, is by SupersonicSquirrel, from

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Montale Aoud Ambre, Fougeres Marine, Sandal Sliver, Sandalflowers and Vetiver des Sables

Review by Tom

Kelley was kind enough to send me samples of these a while ago. My lateness in writing about them had nothing to do with laziness, er, it was that I was afraid I'd love them and be forced to purchase. Yeah, that's it.

That, and I was lazy.

Vetiver Sables

I've been on a bit of a vetiver tear recently, falling in love with about three recent scents with a heavy vetiver bias. Vetiver Sables starts off with the medicinal part of vetiver amped up, as if it were a poultice of some sort. Colombina wrote of it as being rooty, and it is: it's as if Guerlain got all the leaves and the Montale people came in at about 5 am, ripped up the plants by their roots with the wet earth still hanging in clumps and made that into a perfume. Do I have to tell you I love it?


Starts off on me with the disconcerting scent of Doublemint Gum. Gradually morphs into a marine scent. Not me at all.

Fougeres Marine

It's clean and inoffensive. On my skin it reminds me of Bvlgari Blv. Take that any way you want.


Milky sandalwood that really should not work, but oddly does. I don't know if I'd get a whole bottle, but if it showed up in my Christmas stocking I'd be happy.

Aoud Ambre

Starts with a marvelous wininess and a sweet blackness that reminds me a bit of something my Mom had- I want to say Antilope? Maybe Bandit? It's sloe-eyed opening tones down to a very sexy woody leather amber that I would happily own. Sadly, Aoud Ambre is $210 as opposed to some the others which are $135.

Kelley once made a very funny comment that he and I could never get together, since we would pilfer each others perfumes. Dude, if I am ever within a hundred miles of you, hide your Aoud Ambre well.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Perfumes for Imaginary Encounters

Mr. Colombina came up with a little game, in which he randomly names famous people and I name a perfume that I would wear if I were to meet them. Fun for me, most probably boring for him, but he undoubtedly does it to earn brownie points. He often has great suggestions, but as he doesn't know any many actual perfumes, his suggestions are of general -and not seldom politically incorrect- character. So here is what we've got so far...

Queen Elizabeth II. Mr Colombina thinks that the perfume should be conservative, more regal than royal [the line I am totally stealing], and should smell of exotic things from the colonies and... the corgis. I think that the perfume should be exceptionally refined, ladylike and comforting for me, because let's face it, if I were to meet the Queen, I would be a nervous wreck. Therefore my perfume would be Chanel No 22, the one perfume that combines astounding elegance with an unexpected comforting feel, probably due to the presence of incense.

Dalai Lama. One of my favorite quotes of his (along with "the philosophy is kindness") is this: "I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy.(...) Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace." If there is one thing that I am in need of, it is inner peace. To meet Dalai Lama I would wear a perfume that gives me that feeling of calm and harmony, Christian Dior Eau Noire.

Gianni Versace. We both agree that the scent should be sexy and a little vulgar, impressive because of its name more so than of its quality. I am not a fan of Versace Blonde, but it does fulfill all the criteria, and that is what I'd wear.

Catherine the Great. Mr Colombina's suggestion: "Something French, powder-based, with equine overtones..." I, however, think that the choice is obvious - Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe with its notes of excess: leather, vodka, tea, champagne, tobacco, incense, amber...could it BE any more perfect?

Hugh Hefner. Mr Colombina's suggestions are not fit to be published on a family blog. I think I'd opt for a perfume that, whenever I wear it, magically inflates my bosom, gives me luxurious hair extensions and a perfect pout, in other words, Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose, the ultimate pinup scent.

Van Gogh. For Mr Colombina, "it would be something you'd wear behind your ear. Sunflowers. Cannabis." I am going to disregard that and honor the vivid works of the painter by wearing Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, a scent that, in the best traditions of expressionism, "distorts reality for an emotional effect" by infusing the scents with the killer dose of tuberose.

Marlene Dietrich. Mr Colombina had great suggestions in this case, and I for once would follow them: "Something slightly masculine, with an air of unattainability, a hint of tobacco and freshly oiled jackboots". And that could only means one fragrance - Caron Tabac Blond.

Lady Godiva. Mr Colombina says: "A perfume you can buy in New York on a tax free day. Chocolate." I say, Bliss Blass Nude. 'Nuff said.

Adam. The perfume should have "an air of utopia", says Mr Colombina. "A hint of temptation, novelty. It should be a perfumer's ultimate creation [good one!]". To that I would add that the scent should be extremely sensuous, so as to make the process of seducing the first male easier. And that brings us to - what else!- Frederic Malle Muss Ravageur.

Mary Magdalene. The perfume can only be Caron Parfum Sacre. Roses and myrrh, sacred feminine...

Jean Paul Sartre. "Something frequently mispronounced. Gauloises. Slightly nauseating". His description makes me think of Etat Libre d'Orange Jasmin et Cigarette. I, on the other hand, want to focus on a beautiful quote from Nausea, "I exist. It's sweet, so sweet, so slow..." and go with Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger.

Rosie O'Donnell. "Brash and no longer in the view", quips Mr Colombina. As for me... Rosie intimidates me. She is one scary person. So to meet her I would wear something that would make me feel strong and in control, Robert Piguet Bandit.

Caligula. Mr Colombina: "Musk, something with rich oils, olive, an orgy of essences". He also once said that Serge Lutens Muscs Koublai Khan smells like Caligula's sofa, so we'll go with Khan.

Genghis Khan. Mr Colombina wanted to go the obvious route: "Something that says, pillage me! Something barbarian." But to meet Genghis's Khan, I don't necessarily want to smell like him. I would want to smell like nothing else he has ever experienced, I want an ethereal, soft, subtly-dazzling scent of a kind of angelic beauty that he has never before encountered...a scent that would make him place his kingdom at my feet...Antica Farmacista Casablanca.

Casanova. "Potent" is Mr Colombina's requirement for the scent. My line of thinking goes in a different direction...aren't we, perfume lovers, in a sense, Casanovas? We love a perfume, we possess it, we move on to the next object of desire...And so to honor Casanova, I'd wear a scent that I am madly in love with at the moment, Christian Dior Diorama. How long will I love it? Only time will tell.

What would you wear to meet these people? Any more additions to the list? Do share!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Perfume Review: Augustina Avondale, Roxborough and Woodlawn

Augustina is a boutique in Toronto, and, since Spring 2007, in London, described as "a destination for shoppers looking for exclusive, fashionable and forward luxury accessories". Augustina's line of fragrances was created by Susanne Lang and right now consists of three scents, Avondale, Roxborough and Woodlawn.

Avondale, inspired by "an urban oasis with its winding street, cobblestone and ivy covered walls" is a pretty and dainty little floral. While typically perfumes seem to develop from brighter and lighter top notes to a more sumptuous heart, in Avindale the two seem to be reversed, at least on my skin. The scent starts with a rather powerful and appealingly creamy accord of gardenia and tuberose. The sweetness and the headiness of the flowers is kept in check by the strong bergamot note. As the scent develops, it actually grows fresher and airier; lily of the valley becomes apparent and the citrus accord grows stronger. The drydown is a delicate musky blend, which stays close to the skin and has a slight and not unpleasant soapy characteristic. Lovely and loveable and very feminine in a white sundress and a tea party in a posh garden kind of way, but not worth $80.00 for me.

Roxborough. It puzzles me that this scent comes in a bright pink packaging as it seems to be if not entirely masculine than at least rather firmly unisex. In fact, with its mix of fresh and spicy notes, it seems just like the kind of scent Mr. Colombina usually favors. The beginning has a certain fruity, aldehydic effervescence that isn't in the least girly. The woods are apparent right from the start and continue to be the most prominent element of the composition all through its development. Five or so minutes after the application, cinnamon and carnation enter the scene, warming the blend considerably. The base is a little ambery, rather spicy and very woody. All in all, a pleasant if not perhaps breathtakingly original spicy-woody-floral composition that should suit men and women alike, and my favorite of the three.

Woodlawn "recalls a Victorian Coachhouse where an expansive lawn hosts an early summer garden party". Clearly, the lawn overlooks a body of water of some sort, because the aquatic accord is quite strong in this citrusy-fruity-green fragrance. The beginning, with its mouthwatering tangy-ness of lime and yuzu, is the most attractive part of the composition. It smells like a refereshing citrusy cocktail, very light on sugar and decorated with a mint leaf. As the citrus accord becomes replaced by the green, the scent looses most of its initial liveliness. Its greenness is neutral and very tame, like that of very shortly-mowed grass of a very well-mannered garden. The drydown features apples, soft woods, a tiny bit of moss and a strong marine vibe. Not my kind of scent, but if you don't mind an aquatic quality, it should be very pleasant in hot weather.

Avondale, Roxborough and Woodlawn are available at Fragrances & More, $80.00 for 2oz.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Ultimate Anti-Me Perfume

Forgive the lack of a review today; everything smelled off this weekend. Instead, please allow me to introduce to you The Ultimate Anti-Colombina Perfume, a scent that would be bound to disgust, scare and annoy me if, heavens forbid, it was ever released. The kind of scent that makes me write multi-paragraph rants and rouses my worst photoshopping instincts.


- Fresh and sparkly fruity top notes of pink grapefruit, sea breeze, iodine, frosted strawberry, crystal litchi, icy melon, glacial peach and pink pepper;
- Sweet and heady floral middle notes of tiare, blue roses, black carnations and anise juxtaposed with the crisp greenness of celery and cucumber;
- Gourmand base notes of milk, almond, heliotrope, vanilla, chocolate and purple patchouli.


Has a Manifesto. Says it is going to start a Revolution. Declares that their perfume(s) will fight globalization/famine/desease/natural disasters and will bring peace on earth. Claims that it is guided by a Higher Power.


- A Latin phrase that has no relation to the scent: Eram Quod Es, Eris Quod Sum
- Or something long and "suggestive": Yo Babe Not On The First Date
- A happy-cheery, new-agey name: Bliss (Comes From Your Inner Space)
- Or a faux-hip, pseudo-young name: X-I-10


Cheapo "lab" bottle with a black cap and a hand-written label. Or a purple bottle that looks like a heart or a fleurchon. The box features an inspirational message-poem from the creators and an anime-pornographic image, interpretation of the perfume.

Size and formulation:

7ml bottle of oil or parfum for $500 and 400ml of Eau de Toilette for $500.


Only in a random city somewhere in the Appalachian Region. Because the company thinks that you have to prove your love for perfume by cheerfully dealing with a small inconvenience of traveling as far as needed to buy their precious juice. And no, they won't sell it to you over the phone. No, they will not sell it to you online. Not even if you are in the same country. You have to get your exclusivity-craving self to their exquisitely minimalistic boutique and beg them to take your $500.

Stars that allegedly love the scent:

Sienna Miller, Kate Moss, Russell Crowe.

What would be the ultimate anti-you perfume?