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Friday, June 27, 2008

Questions for Bertrand Duchaufour

In the second week of July, I will have an opportunity to spend a day in the presence of perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, the author of Amouage Jubilation XXV, all Eau d'Italie, many Comme des Garcons and L'Artisan Parfumeur scents and now in charge of L'Atelier de L'Artisan Parfumeur. If there are questions that you would like to ask the celebrated nez, please state them in your comments. I will try to get answers to as many questions as possible and will, of course, publish replies on PST. I will be collecting questions till Sunday, July 6th.

As a side note, next week PST will be on a break. We will be back on July 7th. Have a great weekend and a wonderful week, everybody!

Image source, L'Artisan Parfumeur.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Perfume Review: Micallef Vanille Aoud

I am rarely in a mood for vanilla. I am always in a mood for a fragrance that is masterfully built on an interesting contrast. In Micallef's Vanille Aoud, the contrast is announced right in the name. The sweet, milky innocence of vanilla is juxtaposed with the dry, dark sensuality of aoud. Vanilla turns aoud into a mouthwatering delicacy, while aoud turns vanilla into "the little deadly demon among the wholesome" vanillas.

It is a very simple scent, all there is to it are two accords intertwining: one toffee-like, creamy and childish, the other slightly spicy, woody and the very opposite of innocent. A touch of citrus adds fresh tangyness to the blend that otherwise could have been too sweet. I would compare Vanille Aoud to a less saccharine and much lighter Matin Calin mixed with oud. It is a "not a girl not yet a woman" kind of perfume, the kind to which one feels almost ashamed to be attracted and yet can't help but be enthralled.

This Dolores Haze of a scent seems to be one of the newest Micallef creations and will be available at Luckyscent in the near future.

Image source is unknown, and I would be grateful if somebody could tell me who is the author of this photo of Natalya Vodyanova.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

On the Lighter Side

By Tom

Nasomatto China White, Isotta Fraschini Profumo Uomo and L'Artisan L'Ete en Douce

First off, I want to thank all of you for wishing me a happy birthday in this blog last week, I was truly touched, and it made turning 137 years old a lot easier. I thank you all!

What did not make it easier was the fact that it was about 137 degrees in the city of the lost Angels this weekend. I know, climate change is supposed to be bu*l**it, but I don't remember it being so hot so early or so often. Or perhaps my advancing age makes me kvetchier.


So, this means that I decided to drop into ScentBar (blissfully air-conditioned and always congenially staffed) to test out a few new things.

China White is new from Nasomatto, who is very tiresome about listing ingredients. My first sniff reminds me of an ashtray, of recently extinguished cigarettes. I mean that in the best way, mind you- there's a delicious decadence to its opening that's quite wonderful. I wasn't overwhelmed with what came later, a delicate, powdery floral with only an undertone of the ashtray opening, It's interesting, like all of the Nasomatto line, but like those scents didn't quite entice me to purchase.

Isotta Fraschini was there also. Isotta Fraschini was an automobile company in Italy from the 20's to the 40's which specialised in deluxe automobiles. In real life Valentino and Clara Bow owned them, in the movie "Sunset Blvd", batty Norma Desmond is chauffeured around Los Angeles in one. Naming a cologne after a company whose most famous (arguably) cultural reference is as a leopard upholstered punch line seems silly, but at least it's not Hummer, right?

Actually the cologne itself is quite pleasant. It's a very smooth mix of tonka, woods, spices and anise-tinged musk, none of which would have the bad taste to actually stand out. It has that "I've smelled this before" quality to it that, were I in a more charitable mood (or in heavy AC) I might refer to as "timeless" instead of "derivative". It seems like part of a spec sheet on gracious living and in it's zest to be completely unassuming, grated.

L'Ete en Douce was a 180 degree turn however. Minted orange blossoms and airy hay notes are light as a feather and refreshing as spring rain, while the gently woody and musky drydown manage a feat that I find L'Artisan scents usually do either/or but not both: be ethereal and long-lasting. Completely full-bottle worthy for me and perhaps immediately necessary in my life, this was of the three the one that seemed to me most worthy of it's price.

L'Ete en Douce is $135 for 100ml, at Luckyscent, Barney's and L'Artisan Boutiques. Isotta Frachini is $145 for 100ML at Luckyscent. China White is $148 at Luckyscent and Barneys

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Joys of DIY

By Marla

My last addition to this worthy blog was a rant about the “meh-ness” of this year’s avalanche of perfume debuts. I’ve tried about 50 more since then, and still, have only purchased one, Guerlain’s crispy-bitter Laurier Reglisse; I bought this one because it’s refreshing on hot days, because I was at Heathrow and very bored, and because it’s a sister scent to the discontinued Anisia Bella. I was really excited to try Jardin Apres La Mousson, but it should have been called Monsoon of Melons. Don’t like melons. That’s it. Nothing more to write about.

But what’s the use of a good rant if it doesn’t help one look toward a solution? I’ve been using this blah perfume year to learn more about perfume ingredients and have been making a few of my own. In light of Europe’s penchant for making natural ingredients increasingly illegal (bergamot?? lemon?? Get real, Brussels-People!) I’ve begun collecting essential oils and absolutes of forbidden goodies like citrus, oakmoss, and angelica. This stuff rocks! It’s taken about 2 years of experimentation but I’ve finally got about five homebrews that fill gaps in my collection and that I’m proud to wear. If I use excellent ingredients at the highest concentration for eau de parfum, I only spend about $19 per 30ml, or 13 euros for a small bottle. Simpler concoctions without expensive flower absolutes are condsiderably cheaper. And I’ve discovered a fascinating and peaceful hobby that so far has not offended my family (much) or taken over more than half our living space. In fact, they’ve started tinkering, too. So I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve learned in case someone wants to follow in my anarchic footsteps.

First, there are some good groups of people out there if you’re not a lone wolf in the world of DIY. Yahoo has an online gathering in Europe, Ayala Moriel has begun teaching basic natural perfumery, and Basenotes has a large DIY community. Mandy Aftel and Anya’s Garden are great resources, as are the ladies of White Lotus Aromatics. A serious aromatherapy handbook, or licensed aromatherapist, can tell you which ingredients are toxic and should be shunned, and which have caused allergies from time to time. For example, never put cinnamon essential oil on bare skin…you just sort of learn these things as you go along….Easier to get a good book than to learn by personal experimentation! Any of the people or companies mentioned will have loads of safety info for you.

Second, quality ingredients are everything. I’ve found great quality ingredients with Liberty Natural and Eden Botanicals. There are others online. Most larger cities have aromatherapy shops, which are a good place to start sniffing ingredients and learning all those latin plant names. For synthetic aromachemicals, the GoodScents Company has good deals and lots of information for the newbie. Don’t use fragrance oils- just the pure aromachemicals, essential oils, absolutes, and attars. At the more expensive end, Bulgarian Rose absolute costs about $20 for 0.12 oz (this amount will last ages), and at the cheaper end, a fabulous grade of frankincense absolute will only set you back about $7 an ounce, which should last you several lifetimes.

The only equipment you need are glass droppers, small glass bottles, with either caps or sprayers, some blotting paper for testing, tiny funnels, and perfumer’s alcohol. Snowdrift Farms sells several varieties in the US; apothecary and chemist’s shops often sell it in Europe. Buy some basic essential oils and absolutes in small quantities at first. Absolutes are generally more expensive but mellower, longer-lasting, and smoother than the EOs. A good example is frankincense (boswellia carteri). The EO is sharp, medicinal, bracing, and makes a good top note, while the absolute is pure church and lasts about a century. I like to use them together.

Try simple recipes first, maybe combining just one top note with one heart note and one base note. Take notes on your combos as you may get unexpected results. Your concoctions will change over the first few weeks, as they mingle and age. Sometimes, as in the case of a promising fougere I was working on that turned dill pickle on Day 8, this is not a good thing. Sometimes it works, though! If there’s a combo you love in your existing scented products, such as orange, vanilla, and patchouli, try a few drops in about 5ml of alcohol and see how it works for you. You might find you like your own version better than the commercial one. I love L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant but something in it turns skanky on my skin. I made my own version using natural ingredients and I’ve had no problems. If you love a certain type of scent but wish it had more (fill in the blank), try making it yourself. A girlfriend loves orange with bitter chocolate, so I made a perfume for her with bitter orange, tonka, frankincense, and cacao absolute.

If you’d rather not wing it at the beginning like I did, try Amazon for some beginning perfumery manuals, or sign up for an online class, or a real-world class if you’re blessed to live in a megalopolis that has those sorts of things. And the ratio of successes to failures is about 1:10. Really. And some failures will be truly spectacular. So just make 3-5mls of a good idea before making up a whole bottle! I guarantee that DIY will not only banish the perfumista blahs you will encounter from time to time, but that you’ll also be able to drive your friends and families nuts after dabbing them for the gazillionth time with your latest experiment. And hey, what’s wrong with that?

The drawing is by Marla.

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The winner of the Histoires de Parfums Raffle... Karin. Please send me your address using the contact link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for your good wishes and for participating!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Perfume Review: Arabian Oud King Fahed

Oud-lovers, close your eyes or close this page. If you read further, your emotional and financial health will be in serious jeopardy. It is too late for me, a lovely enabler opened for me the (very expensive) world of Arabian Oud ...but save yourselves! Now, those reckless enough to keep reading, Arabian Oud, according to their own site, is "the largest Arabian fragrance retailer in the world, specialising in incense and oil perfumes (...) the first Arabian company to be a member of the Fragrance Foundation UK (...) the first and only Arabian company to be registered in the Michael Edwards Fragrances of the World book." So now you will feel better about paying £1050 for 12ml of King Fahed, the scent that I liked the most among the Arabian Oud blends that I tried so far.

I am not even going to talk about whether it is worth that kind of money. It is so much out of my range that it is not even funny. But it is gorgeous. It is supposed to be a masculine blend, and I would love to smell it on somebody male, dark and handsome. Having said that, it is entirely wearable and utterly delightful on female skin. It starts with a strong oud note, spicy, sharp and medicinal. Oud's loyal companion, rose, starts to blossom almost immediately, adding sweetness and softness to the former, and making the masculine note if not exactly feminine then certainly androgynous. The stunning duo becomes an even more compelling trio as musk appears on the scene. The Muscs Koublai Khan sort of musk, dirty-minded and heavy-lidded. It makes the blend smell touchingly and alluringly human. It is the scent of hot skin, of passionate touch, of... OK, where was I? What appeals to my dramatic Russian soul in Arabian Ouds is that everything is taken to the extreme. You thought that oud plus rose plus musk was lush and sensual enough. Well, how about some patchouli for good measure? And that patchouli mixed with musk is making love in the mud (with someone dark and handsome, of course). Enough said. I would send you to smell this wonder for yourself (and if you are in London, by all means, please do so), but I am not sure the company sells/sends samples.

It is, however, possible to order the perfume online, for £490-£1050, depending on the size and the fanciness of the bottle.

Image source,

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Friday Raffle, Graduation and Birthday

Today my little one is graduating from pre-K, so I am sorry, no review will be coming. Instead, let's have a celebratory prize draw. For a chance to win a set of 12 Histoires de Parfums samples, please leave me a note in your comment. The winner will be randomly chosen and announced on Tuesday.

But most importantly, Happy Birthday to our wonderful, witty, talented Tom! Tom, you are the best!

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Perfume Review: Jean Patou Divine Folie

Patou describe Divine Folie, created in the "twilight years" of the 1930s, as "a party mood of exquisite madness". The lush floral-ambery, spicy composition has the intensity, the desperate glamour, the fey feeling of a beautiful world coming to an end and refusing to realize it.

The creamy nuttiness of ylang-ylang, combined with honeyed orange blossom, creates a sweet, slightly powdery accord reminiscent of old-fashioned powders and lipsticks, an accord that I adore. It sets the giddy, "dressed-up" mood of the scent, enhanced by the presence of over-ripe, ready-to-shed-petals rose and luscious jasmine. There is no mention of carnation in the list of notes printed on Ma Collection box, but carnation is there, highlighting the powdery aspect of the scent and infusing it with heavy-lidded, vaguely "exotic" spiciness.

The perfume wants to be worn with a slinky, black silk dress, smoky eyes and dark-red an "exquisitely mad" needs to be worn by somebody already desperately in or about to fall in a doomed, twisted and tainted kind of love. One of my favorite poems by Anna Akhmatova depicts the decadent setting for Divine Folie wonderfully well:

We're all drunkards here, and harlots:
how wretched are we together!
On the walls, flowers and birds
wait for the clouds to gather.

You puff on your burnished pipe,
strange shapes above you swim,
I have put on a narrow skirt
to show my lines are trim.

The windows are tightly sealed.
What brews? Thunder or sleet?
How well I know your look,
your eyes like a cautious cat.

O heavy heart, how long
before the tolling bell?
But that one dancing there
Will surely rot in hell!

(Translated by Stanley Kunitz and Max Hayward)

Divine Folie has been discontinued, along with other gems from Ma Collection, but right now it seems to be available at PerfumeMart, $59.00 for 2.5oz

The image is by Gunther Sachs.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Perfume Review: Annick Goutal Musc Nomade

By Tom

If you have read my blog or the past posts here on PST you will have more than covered the Agatha Christie-esque twists and turns that have brought this new scent to me. (all kudos to the ladies at the Perfumed Court for making up for the vicissitudes of the local Post Office- you ladies rock)

Musc Nomade is the fourth scent in the new line of Goutals, called "Les Orientalists". The first three of which I liked immensely; I was unsure how I would find this one. The name suggest something wild, like Muscs Kublai Khan; the nose is Isabelle Doyen, responsible for Lez Nez' l'Antimatiere, a perfume so etherial some cannot discern it.

Upon finally smelling Musc Nomade, I am struck that it is kind of sister of Etat Libre d'Orange's Tom of Finland scent. Sisters in a film-noir sense, like one where Bette Davis takes over the other one's life then has problems remembering where the bathrooms are. All that's deliberately, winkingly cheap about Tom of Finland is done here with a ruthlessly easy chic. Etat Libre's scent is all leather jackets, doublemint gum and the smell of the piers. It's New York in 1977. Musc Nomade is all about tanned, clean youthful skin, an expensive linen shift tossed on after an ocean dip, an evening on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean that same year, wood, roses and your own fabulousness. Do I need to tell you which sister I want to be?

Musc Nomade just might be getting to the US sometime in the Fall if the SA's are correct. In the mean time it can be ordered from the ever-delightful Lianne Tio from her boutique in the Netherlands. Since shipping covers I believe about four bottles, I suggest a bunch of you get together and do so in bulk.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Perfume Review: Histoires de Parfums 1804 George Sand

A pineapple perfume is a rarity. A non-syrupy, grown-up, complex and wearable pineapple perfume is more precious than rubies. Up untill know I knew of four (Marina de Bourbon, Bahiana, Colony, Ananas Fizz). Somehow I did not expect to find the fifth favorite in a scent inspired by George Sand...although, if you accept Histores de Parfums' description of her as of a "woman who knew how to live to the fullest", the sinfully honeyed fruitiness of the composition in general and the presence of the juice-oozing, ripe pineapple in particular begin to make sense.

On my skin, pineapple in 1804 reigns supreme, overwhelming even tiare, which is ordinarily not a shy little blossom and rather hard to tame. I don't smell much peach, although I suppose its presence adds juiciness to the very realistic pineapple note. The beginning of 1804 is the smell of a freshly-cut ripe pineapple. The heart, with a touch of piquancy from clove and nutmeg, makes me think of some exotic sweet-n-spicy pineapple jam. The luscious ananas keeps going strong even in the drydown, keeping its sunny, tropical own against the nocturnal, brooding note of patchouli. Here in the base, pineapple is sweetened further by vanilla, which makes the already mouthwatering fragrance almost unbearably delicious.

A completely unexpected new summer favorite of mine, it is available at, $115.00 for 4 oz.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Perfume Review: Histoires de Parfums Blanc Violette

I recently learned a great French expression, "mi chien mi loup", which basically means "dusk" and literally translates as "between dog and wolf". I think it perfectly describes that time of day when night is already chasing away the sun, but it is not quite dark yet, and everything is covered with cool, milky mist. At work, we use mi chien mi loup when talking about L'Ete en Douce. I think that Histoires des Parfums' Blanc Violette inhabits the same twilight hour.

It is less sweet than most violets; the beginning is fresh, almost juicy, because of the presence of bergamot. The tangy note is carried to the heart of the scent by anise. Ylang-ylang serves as a counterbalance to the fresh accord, bringing creamy softness to the composition. It is ylang, combined with sandalwood and vanilla, that adds the blanc to the violette. The three notes create the milky fog that envelops the green leaves and delicate petals, keeping the fragile flowers warm till the chien of the day will chase away the loup of the night.

Fresh and creamy, hiding a hint of witchy darkness among its white notes, Blanc Violette is quite unlike other violet perfumes that I know. The two that, in my opinion, come closest are Verte Violette (because of the green airiness) and Pierre de Lune (because of the downy, ethereal feel).

Available at, $115.00 for 4oz.

The image is by Tim Walker.

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Friday, June 13, 2008

The winner of the June 2nd prize draw... CORNLILY. Please email me your address using the Contact Me link on the right, and the set of 12 samples will be on its way to you. As always, thank you, everybody, for playing!

In Which I Am Being Preppy

It might be that I've been spending too much time on Madison Avenue or it might be that my personality has underwent a dramatic change due to some latent brain disease, but this summer something bizarre started happening to my style. All of a sudden Ralph Lauren has become my favorite shopping destination. Believe it or not, but never in my life have I owned a polo shirt before. Now I have, um, a couple. I wear them with a collar raised in a disgustingly foppish fashion. With a white skirt and white ballet flats or kitten hills. And a bandeau on my head. Readers, I scare myself.

And so one day, as I trotted along Madison with my understated in style but not in price bag in the crook of my arm, an inevitable question popped into my head: which perfumes can be described as preppy? The easy answer would be - fresh, clean, sporty, understated. And one predictably and somewhat unhappily thinks of Lauren, Hilfinger and Lacoste and wonders if one can possibly find a perfume that would be preppy but not generic. Luckily, the fresh-understated genre encompasses some interesting things. Whether I personally like them or not, such pale and breezy scents as En Passant, L'Eau d'Hiver, Pure White Linen and L'Ete en Douce are pretty, interesting and preppy. And, of course, in search for preppy freshness one can always resort to the citrusy range: Eau d'Hadrien and Eau de Sud, Eau Illuminee and Cologne Bigarade, Chanel's new Eau de Cologne and Guerlain's wonderful offerings in the genre would go wonderfully well with a polo shirt and real estate in the Hamptons.

But to smell preppy one doesn't have to just (barely) smell fresh. If one broadens the definition of "preppy" to conservative and classical (preppy is, after all, more or less synonymous with WASP-y), infinite possibilities would open up. From that point of view, Chanel Cristalle (classical AND fresh!) is an ideal preppy scent. So is White Linen. And so are Jacomo Silences, YSL Y, Hermes Amazone, Diorella and any number of dry green florals and fresher chypres... I am still questioning my new style, but at least I can feel smug in certainty that I smell great.

Which scents would you describe as preppy? And of course- where does everybody summer?

Image source,


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Perfume Review: Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande

By Tom

First off, is there anyplace in this country in which the weather is not majorly sucking? (see, it's so bad I am channeling my inner 80's teen!) Ghastly, humid heat in the North, Auntie-Em sized twisters in the middle, snow (!) in the Northeast, and the Southland is just hot with enough mugginess to make it disgusting.

This weekend was Gay Pride and friends tried to drag me there. No thanks, said I. Despite the fact that I went well out of my way to live somewhere where the sun shines 320 days out of the year, I don't like direct sunlight. I also don't like crowds, loud noise and drinking in the afternoon; I wouldn't go to Mardi Gras either.

What, if anything you might be asking does this have to do with scent? Well, I did have to think what I was going to wear to the office today (Monday the 9th) while waiting for the new iPhone to debut. You see, my employers in their infinite wisdom have decided that the AC should be turned off on nights and weekends to save energy. Never mind that I work in a building that is inhabited 24/7 by various departments. Never mind that the HVAC system has to go into triple-overdrive on Monday to get our offices to less resemble a sauna by Wednesday. Never mind that it will inconvenience me, ME, Norma Desmond.

Now that I have lulled you all into a coma with my morning rant, I will review the scent I chose.

Encens et Lavande as you all know is one of the non-export fragrances in the Lutens line, meaning one can only get it by jumping through hoops. Or perhaps waiting for it to show up at Bergdorfs and paying though the nose (heat makes me grumpy). This is saddening, because I prefer this to it's counterpart in the export line, Gris Clair. E et L reverses GC's dance from light to dark: It starts off with the incense and gradually adds in the lavender with just a touch of the camphor that is amped up in the opening of GC. The icy lavender here isn't as forceful as the opening in GC; compared to Encens et Lavande Gris Clair seems somewhat shrill. The drydown marries the disparate elements to a smooth amber base, the whole in my mind making me think of the dark, cool interior of a perhaps abandoned stone church. Could there be anything more perfect on a scorching day?

As mentioned, like all of the non-exports, this is available only at the Paris Salon, or can be shipped to you if you live in the EU. Lucky you. Gris Clair meanwhile is available wherever Lutens' export line is sold.

Image source,

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Perfume Review: Hermes Un Jardin apres la Mousson

If it were up to me, I would change "Jardin" to "Watermelon Plantation". The mousson has passed, and wind and rain wreaked havoc on the field, cracking open huge, ripe watermelons, making them release their syrupy and at the same time watery-fresh aroma....

I bet you are thinking this is going to be a negative review.

I absolutely adore Un Jardin apres la Mousson. Not because it showcases Ellena's trademark minimalist style. Actually, as far as I am concerned, the new garden scent is not as pale and bare as the Hermes's nez is capable of making his compositions. The colorless accord of wood and vetiver, which IS very Ellena, serves as a canvas, on which there are thrown, in a very harmonious fashion, splotches of vivid colors: the gold of cardamom and ginger, the crimson of coriander, the black of pepper and the brightest and most delightful of them all- the vivid, moist, shiny pink of watermelon.

I adore Un Jardin apres la Mousson, because it makes me think of home. In my part of Russia, watermelons are the summer refreshment and delicacy of choice. From the green, very fresh beginning, to the nectarous heart, to the sharp, almost "savory" base the scent seemingly traces the course of life of a watermelon: from the unripe to the fully matured, brimming with juices and ready for devouring, to the marinated (that's right, we marinate watermelons in salt, preserving them for a year-round consumption...and by the way, nothing cures a hangover like a slice of salty watermelon... don't ask me how I know).

The scent is not at all what I expected, and, believe you me, I never expected to wear a watermelon perfume with such enjoyment. I absolutely need Un Jardin apres la Mousson for summer.

Available at, $85.00-$125.00.

Image source,

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

White Floral Queen Part Eight: Best Of The Rest and Also-Rans

By Donna

This is the last in my series of white floral perfume reviews – which certainly does not mean I will never review another one, however. I am always trying new ones and rediscovering past favorites. This I a roundup up those fragrances which I like or even love but which I felt did not merit a stand-alone review yet, at least by me, or I already wrote about them before, or they are fragrances which I have not had a chance to get to know well enough to give a fair shake when describing their qualities.

For the purposes of this series, I targeted “big” white florals, but there is another class of whites – the cool ones. These are the scents composed from lily-of-the-valley, white lily, stephanotis, narcissus and other flowers which are technically white florals and carry the same indolic compounds in their blossoms, but they are not warm and sultry - they are cool, even cold sometimes, and they are often made from flowers that give off their scent at night. I love these perfumes and the flowers they are made from just as much as the gardenia, tuberose and jasmine scents that make up the traditional white florals group. Among the essences I cherish, there is one I adore more than most – Un Lys by Serge Lutens. I wrote about this one when I wrote for Aromascope, where I also reviewed its “sister scent”, the sometimes sinister Datura Noir. If you read about these you will understand why I hope I never have to be without them. (The scent of lilies may be my favorite floral aroma – but it is impossible to pick just one) Also in this class is the magnificent Narcisse Noir by Caron. It is somehow serene and stately yet ferociously sexy at the same time. Of course, classic Lily-of-the valley perfumes belong here too – among these Diorissimo and Caron’s Muguet de Bonheur are tied for first in my estimation. I even like good old Coty Muguet de Bois, though I long for a chance to try it in its original form before Coty “dumbed down” its perfumes for the mass market.

There are three other Serge Lutens white florals that I must mention. Everyone thinks of musk and spice and sweet smoke and opium dens and all sorts of decadence where Serge is concerned, but the white florals from this house are amazingly good. Fleurs d’Oranger and Fleurs de Citronnier are wonderful, true-to life compositions of orange and lemon blossom respectively. If the luscious orange blossom version is too sweet for your taste, do try the lemon – it is not fruity at all, just gentle white flowers of crystalline loveliness. It is ideal for warm weather wear. Then there is the masterpiece, the jasmine to end all jasmines: the dazzling A La Nuit. Heady does not begin to describe this lyrical ode to the tiny yet potent flower that forms the backbone of modern perfumery. A triple dose of Egyptian, Indian and Moroccan jasmine varieties brings this accord front and center and makes it sing. Therein lies the problem for me – as much as I adore this perfume, it is right on the edge of unwearable for me, due to my white floral magnifying skin. I have come that close to buying a bottle, and someday soon I will, since I cannot imagine being without this radiant beauty for too much longer – yet I must exercise extreme caution in its deployment lest I overwhelm everyone around me with my powerful Jasminezilla presence.

There are others that I smell when I have the chance but I don’t love enough to buy, at least not yet. Guerlain’s Jardins de Bagatelle is a perennial contender, but I have yet to take the plunge. On the other end of the spectrum there is Coty Sand & Sable, a drugstore favorite that I have not bought in a very long time – it smells really good though, if you like sweet florals, and you can’t beat the price with a stick. Another one I really fell in love with a couple of years ago is now discontinued as far as I can tell – Le Couvent de Minimes’ Orange Blossom, from Bath & Body Works of all places. Superior to nearly all of their store brand scents, it as a bright and sunny slice of orange blossom perfection, and came in the most delicious body cream ever. A touch of vanilla made it creamy rather than soapy, and I could not get enough; I got the body cream, the eau de toilette and the shower gel. Now it has disappeared, but I still check around the Internet every so often to see if the company has brought it back. (Le Couvent products are available elsewhere, but not in the Orange Blossom line; it’s gone.)

I have not really figured out how I feel about some white florals, oddly enough. A prime example is Annick Goutal Songes. When I first tried it, I was taken aback and I did not like it at all. It smelled oddly rubbery and something akin to motor oil to me. I tried again later– same thing. What was going on here? Everyone was singing its praises, what was wrong with me? I am now convinced that my nose was under the weather at the time, because I finally got up the nerve to try it yet again and –I loved it! What was once virtually repulsive to me had turned into rich, clinging dirty jasmine, just the way I like it. I am just not sure I trust my nose not to pull a one-eighty on me and make me hate it again.

I had wanted to smell Isabey Gardenia for a long time before I finally got the chance recently – and it is nothing like I thought it would be from its description on Luckyscent. It is more of a floral bouquet than a gardenia soliflore, and I get more of the ylang-ylang than the gardenia. I really like it, but it is far more restrained than I had envisioned, more light and bright than heavy and sensual. I think I was expecting the gardenia version of Fracas or something. Even so, I would not turn down a bottle of this lovely scent. (Not that I will be offered one at $165 for 50 ml, of course. Sugar daddies are hard to come by.)

One perfume I tried not too long ago I really fell for – Bond No. 9 Saks Fifth Avenue for Her is a beautiful and well balanced jasmine and tuberose scent that is soft enough to be wearable just about anywhere. It reminds me of those commercials for luxury goods where gorgeous women stand in front of palatial windows while the floor-to-ceiling sheer curtains billow in the breeze. As if anyone really lives like that - but if they did they would wear this perfume while doing it. Too bad I am not that woman, and this stuff is not exactly cheap either.

A few white florals were just disappointing to me. I had great hopes for Esteé Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, and it was truly lovely on me for about ten minutes – then the “Lauder accord” came in and ate up all the white flowers. Within half an hour there was nothing left but the smell of every Lauder perfume from the last twenty years. Since I have studiously avoided more than a passing acquaintance with any of these, needless to say it was a real letdown.

So what’s next? I never tire of white florals (and floral perfumes in general) in all their infinite variety, so I will keep sampling and buying and enjoying and sharing them for as long as my nose holds up. Even as I have broadened my perfume horizons to include appreciation for smoke and leather and cumin and martinis and incense and any number of other notes both traditional and weird, I will always come back to my beloved flowers. As I love them in my garden on a warm summer evening, so do I love them captured in a bottle, where I can experience them any time I need to be transported to the realm of the White Floral Queen.

Image credits: “The Goddess Flora” by Luca Giordano in the Prado Museum in Madrid, from ‘Conca d’Or’ Lily photo by the author.

**NOTICE: We still have three Pink Manhattan Purrfume prizes to give away as some of the winners did not respond. Please send your address to the “Contact Me” e-mail link – We need to hear from Dark-phoenix54, Hopeb & Monica!**

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Prize Draw ...and a Break

I am facing a very busy week with lots of projects ahead of me, so PST will be taking a break till Tuesday, June 10th. Before we go though, I would like to have a prize draw, the entries for which will be accepted till Sunday, June 8th. If you would like to win a set of samples consisting of: Hermes Un Jardin Apres La Mousson, Montale Red Vetiver, Vanilla Extasy and Ginger Musk, Comme de Garcons Monocle Hinoki, Micallef Aoud, Gaiac, Patchouli, Note Vanillee and Royal Muska, Editions de Parfum Bois d'Orage, Etat Libre d'Orange Rossy de Palma...leave us a comment!

Have a great week, everybody!