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Friday, August 29, 2008

Perfume Review: Strange Invisible Perfumes Musc Botanique

By Tom

Strange Invisible Perfumes is a house that for various reasons kind of stayed off my radar. I trekked once out to Venice to their shop, where I was wholly ignored by the young man behind the counter. Being a naturally huffy person, since he wasn't asking if I wanted to go on his trip to Palm Springs, I huffed on in a... huff. The website used to be of such aggressive unusability that I would have to force quit Exploder to get out of it (that, and it was unreadable). I had been back once or twice and met a very lovely lady who looked like Maud Adams and who showed me the line; there were several that I liked, but on me they faded fast and I'm cheap: I like my fumes to last the day. I've always meant to get back there, but it's all the way in Venice (please insert Wendy Whiner voice), which when you work in Downtown LA and live in Beverly Hills might as well be Acapulco or New Hebrides: at least an hour and a half in traffic if it's moving then the fight for a beach-adjacent parking space. Or the MTA bus that will take a week. Not that I'm lazy. Or spoiled. Not at all.

When is ScentBar going to deliver like Jacopos?

Then QWendy set up this little trip out on a Saturday morning. For those of you who are unaware of her, Wendy has her own blog and has a business making shoes. Yes, that's right. She makes shoes. That's like me mentioning that when I am not blogging I'm busy knitting Automobiles to spec. There're some talented people out there in Perfume-land...

So the deal was that we would meet at 10am on Saturday AM at the Abbott Kinney Store, which would open early especially for us. The MTA gave me directions that were within reason, so I didn't even have to drive there, and even arrived with time to spare. Upon my arrival I saw several familiar faces, including IrisLA and Robin, but I will leave the rest of the recap for Wendy to cover on her blog (linked above). I also had two glasses of Champagne, which added sparkle to the morning if not to my ability to speak coherently.

I did find the answer to why the ones that I liked in this line seem to have no lasting power: most are only available in perfume strength, but the testers are EDP's. I don't think it's a matter of saving money as much as it is that EDP's develop faster and you can wash them off when you're unable to expose any more skin for testing without years of Yoga and the risk of an indecent exposure arrest. I did mention that perhaps it would be a good idea to have both strengths available, so that when one narrows it down to two or three that one would have more of an idea of the lasting power and the development from the concentration actually sold.

Now that I know that that last impediment to my enjoying these (or my cheap-a$$edness) was out of the way I was able to test with abandon. There are several (Vine, Galatea, Narcotic and Moon Garden) that I really liked and several more that I wouldn't exactly cry over if they showed up in a stocking.

But the one that I kept coming back to was Musc Botanique. Through the alcohol haze I remember the nice girl telling us that it was meant as a sort of riff on the idea of plants seducing each other through their smell, like the musk that animals produce to attract a mate. This makes immediate sense in its tart opening: the woody, almost harsh geranium mixes with sweet angelica to make me think of berry patches. It gets earthier and earthier as the frankincense and amber come in, until the whole thing gets surprisingly, delightfully slutty. But slutty in a wholly different way that you would imagine: not human and not even animal. It's as if you're walking in a night-time garden and suddenly the whole place starts giving you the glad eye; the woods, grass and flowers are waving their little fronds at you with a decided "Hello, Sailor" attitude. Not in that somewhat confrontational Satyr-of-the-berries CB I Hate perfume way (which, as you all know I adore) and not in some Majicky, Sci-Fi way either. It's different: it's also entirely wearable (I would and did wear it to the office) but definitely, wonderfully.. odd.

Musc Botanique will be available at SIP in September, I believe it's $135 for the EDP and $165 for the pure perfume but don't quote me on that. I will write that as one of the line that is designed to be sold as both EDP and pure perfume that the lasting power on the EDP is great and that strength might be better for day wear or for guys. The perfume is that much more. I might need that much more...

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Perfume Review: Lancome Peut-Etre

Peut-Être is the 2007 interpretation of the perfume of the same name, first released by Lancôme in 1937. I have never tried the vintage version, so I cannot provide a comparison. Having said that, the delicately feminine, refined reissue does seem to belong to a different era. There is something touchingly retro in its gentle rose note and its downy orris.

Maybe I am pathetically influenced by Lancôme's copy about a woman wandering in her garden, waiting for Him, but I do find Peut-Être ever so romantic...I am, however, a little disturbed by the following passage: "She sees a new and special intensity in his gaze. And is something hidden in his hand?"...these days, that something might be a gun, not an engagement ring...But I digress...The opening accord of Peut-Être is a little fresher than the rest of the scent, with the lilacs' breezy aroma balancing the honeyed roses. The floral accord is already silky-soft thanks to a generous dose of white musk, but the presence of orris makes it softer still, adding creaminess to the airy scent of petals. (The iris part reminds me of Stephanie St Aignan's similarly dainty but sweeter and creamier Le Pot Aux Roses.) There are no sharp angles here, the notes speak in elegantly hushed tones. Impeccably put together, graceful and gentle, the scent is exceptionally lady-like. The simple, harmonious composition is also incredibly charming. The scent paints a vision of gentle, passive femininity ....think Irene Forsyte...Peut-Être would make a perfect perfume for a traditional wedding, engagemenr party or tea with the Queen...wear it with flowing silk dresses and big romantic hats. I don't expect Her Majesty to stop by for a cuppa in the near future, but I do want Lancôme's tender creation in my wardrobe anyway, no maybe about it.

Peut-Être is available at, $125.00 for 1.7oz.

First image (Valentina Zeliaeva in Ralph Lauren) source, Second,

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Perfume Review: Eau d'Italie Magnolia Romana

A single, pale-pink magnolia submerged in a vase full of clear water...aroma of a pale-green stem, of fragile petals, of water itself...a minimalist and touching image...a Japanise silk painting...this, to me, is Magnolia Romana, Bertrand Duchaufour's new creation for Eau d'Italie.

The beginning of the perfume is fresh and slightly herbal, the scent of clean skin, of dew glistening on delicate blossoms, a translucent, elusive aroma. As the perfume develops, it becomes more substantial, as if materializing from the droplets of water and fresh air into a corporeal entity. It is tuberose and neroli that, in my opinion, breathe life into the almost-colorless blend, making it acquire a form that is far from voluptuous but is pleasantly smooth, creamy and soft.

The watery-floral overtones of Magnolia Romana reminded me of Duchaufour's new creation for L'Artisan, Fleur de Liane, which also features a (perhaps even more) generous dose of magnolia. The flower seems to be the perfumer's new fascination, along with other floral and aquatic-ozonic notes. If this is the direction Duchaufour wants to explore, taking a break from his incenses and woods, I am all for it. If anyone can make watery scents wearable and interesting, it is Duchaufour...Disturbingly, I have been drawn to the watery florals myself lately, and wore a lot of Un Jardin Apres le Mousson, Fleur de Liane and Magnolia Romana this summer. The end of the world is upon us.

Magnolia Romana is available at Luckyscent and Lafco, $120.00 for 100ml.

Image source,

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Of the Green and the Purple: Searching for the Souls of Good Violets

By Alyssa

"Oh, Marilla, it's a perfectly elegant brooch…I think amethysts are just sweet. They are what I used to think diamonds were like. Long ago, before I had ever seen a diamond, I read about them and I tried to imagine what they would be like. I thought they would be lovely glimmering purple stones. When I saw a real diamond in a lady's ring one day I was so disappointed I cried. Of course, it was very lovely but it wasn't my idea of a diamond. Will you let me hold the brooch for one minute, Marilla? Do you think amethysts can be the souls of good violets?"
Anne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Long ago, before I had ever smelled a violet perfume, I read about them and I imagined they would be lovely, glimmering, deep purple scents. My very first order of samples included several named violette-something-or-other, and when they arrived I eagerly opened them and dabbed onto my skin. They didn’t make me cry—there are advantages to being a woman in one’s late thirties instead of an eleven-year-old orphan girl—but I was deeply disappointed by their strange, sticky-sweetness and it took me a long time to push my original ideas aside and return to my search for the souls of good violets.

My mistake was beginning with soliflores. Like most simple things, they are difficult to do well, and violet soliflores are haunted by Victorian ghosts dabbing their pale foreheads with violet-scented handkerchiefs, while they recover from another fainting fit. Much later, I realized there were stealth violets—ionones in their many roles and forms—in some of my favorite perfumes. They were hidden in the velvet heart of my beloved Coco, slipping in and out of Le Parfum de Therese’s elegant layers, blooming in the dark chill of No. 19’s upright spine.

It was another complex scent, the gorgeous Attrape Couer, that gave me my first glimpse of a violet I could love. I dabbed on a few precious drops from a sample vial on a frosty winter morning and took the dog for a walk. Twenty minutes later the initial burst of amber sweetness faded and I was brought up short by the most delicious smoky, deep purple violet imaginable. It wasn’t long before it began sinking back into the husky purr of Attrape’s seamless toffee contralto, but for those moments the dog waited in vain while I stood stock still, sniffing the cold morning air.

Later that spring, when the morning air was still fresh and all the trees were new and green, I had another violet revelation. My sample of The Unicorn Spell came along with the Les Nez sample set I’d ordered to get my hands on more Let Me Play the Lion (do check it out—it’s a real deal). I almost gave it away, but when I opened the vial and sniffed I broke into a grin. No hankies here, ma’am, just snap bean green sweetness that, on the skin, warms ever so slightly into cool violet—the new-leaved trees, their purple shadows and a touch of the cool dirt at their roots in a single bottle. I wore it all through the last precious days of spring before the Texas heat arrived, feeling as though I were inside the lovely world in the painting above and wondering: Was it just this fabulous beast, or had I learned to love violets?

With help from the generous Ms. Colombina, I dug in for a violet testing mini-marathon, working both ends, the green and purple, against the rosy, powdery middle. First I dug up my sample of L’Artisan’s Verte Violette and gingerly dabbed some on. Then I decanted and sprayed. What on earth had I found to dislike about this? Perhaps the fact that I don’t remember is the clue. VV starts out a mild green with just a bare touch of sweet spearmint, rounds into a transparent green violet, and ends a few hours later with a touch of powder. Just a bit of green and purple. The precious discontinued decant of Caron’s Violette Precieuse I received from Ms. C showed me, for an hour or two what VV wants to be when it grows up. The green violet is rounder and more fully present without a trace of powder. Fortunately, given its total unavailability, it dries down to a much more conventional vanillic-musk I also find at the end of the sweeter, but equally gorgeous Aimez-Moi, and which I also wish would stay put in its unabashedly beautiful rosy violet phase. All violets, it seems, must turn into powder, melt into warmth, or simply fade away into nothing…

Speaking of which, I would say Christopher Brosius’ Violet Empire is similar to Violette Verte but I seem to be almost totally anosmic to it. After generous application of the oil I get a burst of sweet spearmint followed by…something. It might be violet. Then again, it could be sweetened cardboard. It was tenacious—I caught a whiff of it hours later—but so slight I could hardly count it as a perfume. Do chime in if this one works for you.

Next up were the cedar-violet heavyweights from Lutens, Bois de Violette and Feminité de Bois, and the amber/incense of Bond’s purple-hearted Silver Factory. God and L.Turin forgive me, but as much as I love and admire Les Bois, and cannot deny that they bring the deep purple, I prefer Attrape Couer’s ambery base to their sweet dense cedar. However, given my compulsive re-testing of Bois Violette, I sense a volte-face in the offing. (You know the drill: I absolutely must sniff that strange, slightly irritating thing one more time...maybe I need a decant.) Once I get past the blaring manly-amber opening of Silver Factory—I have bad-trumpets problems with the openings of nearly all the Bonds—I enjoy the way the violet flavors it’s beautiful smoky incense, but find myself wishing I did not have the Guerlain quite so recently in mind.

I approached the rose-violet family at the heart of the green-purple continuum with trepidation. Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose is not my friend, and every time I approach her for another try I am summarily ejected from her dressing room. I was surprised, then, to find myself thoroughly enjoying the Marilyn-in-angora-sweaters sweetness of Stephanie St.-Aignan’s Le Pot Aux Roses lightly powdered confection and Norma Kamali’s cheerfully trashy burst of soapy raspberry-rose-violets. Happy Birthday Mr. President and sign me up for an occasional go-round.

Two violets Marina sent were simply lost on me—Parfums d’Histoire’s Violette Blanc (no hour of the wolf for me, just burnt vanilla and powder) and Scent Systems Wild Violet, an all natural blend that seems to have achieved a leaden, unfinished quality at great expense. No doubt it’s just me. Drop a note in the comments if you’d like to be in the draw for these, and do share your own experiences with violets—was it love at first sniff? Are you as picky about your posies as I am? Help me understand what I’m missing.

For example, I’m sure you are asking, where is the ur-violet, the Great Classic, Apres L’Ondee? Where is my paen to its melancholy beauty, my admission that it is the one true violet, the indispensable, the nonpareil? I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite hear what you were saying. I seem to have violets coming out of my ears…


The gorgeous painting, which I’ve had on my desktop for months now, is Reinhold Edelschein’s Rhythm in Green and Violet.

For more on violets please see Victoria’s amazingly compact and erudite essay on ionones over on Bois de Jasmin and Heather Ettlinger’s lyrical and informative reflections on her own troubles with violets on her blog, Memory and Desire.

If you’ve never read the children’s classic, Anne of Green Gables you can, amazingly, do so here. God bless the searchable texts of the web, that passage had been haunting me for months and I never thought I’d find it.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Winners of the prize draw...

...are Vida and MattS. Please send me your addresses using the contact me link on the right. Thank you, everybody, for playing!

Perfume Review: Kenzo Power

Kenzo describe Power, their new fragrance for men, as "surprising", and it certainly caught me off guard. Given the name and the fact that the scent is hoped to become as powerful a seller as the feminine Flower, I expected something ...more archetypally masculine and more broadly appealing, I suppose (something that an average male buyer would immediately recognize as manly). Which shows how little imagination I have compared to the creative team at Kenzo, how little thought I gave to the overall esthetics of the brand and how much I underestimated the latter's willingness to risk. With Power, Kenzo taps into the trend in masculine fragrances, which views macho as not mucho, which believes that "charismatic" is not synonymoys with "agressive", and that understated power is as real and attractive as the more obvious kind. Fleur du Male, Fahrenheit 32, Gucci Pour Homme II, the trio of Dior colognes and above all Dior Homme are the examples of such "understated masculines".

Like Dior Homme, Kenzo Power was created by Olivier Polge, and like former, it is "a flower for men". In Dior's case, the flower was iris; for Kenzo, Polge conjures up an imaginary blossom. Given the fresh and sweetly-piquant top notes (candied citrus zest spiced by cardamom and coriander) and the softly-balsamic, a tiny bit powdery base, in my imagination I see that flower as a cross between lotus and iris, with the aroma that is simultaneously clean and sensual. In reality, the "abstract floral heart" of Power is supposed to be a blend of rose, jasmine and freesia, and I would say that of the three, jasmine seems to me to be the most apparent. Something in the mix of coriander, cedarwood and labdanum produces a subtly smoky effect...the smell of a cigarette lit somewhere in the far distance...this might be the perfume's only nod to the stereotypically masculine. Overall, the scent is beautifully androgynous. Its softness makes it entirely wearable for a woman; and I hope that the "new sensitive male" that made Dior Homme a hit will make Kenzo Power a bestseller too. A company that thinks outside of the hairy-chested box of masculine perfumery deserves to be rewarded.

Kenzo Power retails for $55.00-$75.00.

Image source, Kenzo USA.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Perfume Review: Bond No 9 Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue...and a prize draw

Lexington Avenue, the third perfume in Bond No 9's Andy Warhol series, was introduced in time for the artist's (a fellow Leo's) birthday. The name refers to Warhol's pre-Pop years in 1950s New York, during which he was making a name for himself as a commercial artist-illustrator and had quite a thing for shoes. His shoes were"portraits without a face", "objects of desire." (source) Bond No 9's new release is meant to "link two of the most ultra-feminine commodities a woman can own: fragrance and footwear". (source - Bond press release) The link would not be obvious unless you knew the background story about Warhol's Lexington years. What I mean is... one sort of expects that a fragrance that has something, even indirectly, to do with shoes and comes in a bottle decorated with shoes would smell of leather. Having said that, if Andy Warhol's larger than life illustrations came to life, they would not smell like any ordinary shoes but would instead indeed waft aromas of crème brûlée, cardamom and almonds.

The top notes of Lexington Ave. have a strangely churchy smell on my skin...dry-woody and vaguely incensey (blue cypress?). Add to that the sweet and piquant accord of fennel, cardamom and almonds, and what we have is an image of a sinful feast inside a place of worship. As the fragrance progresses, neither the balsamic/spiritual nor the gourmand/self-indulgent sides seem to be able to dominate each other, instead making each other much more interesting than they would were the perfume only woody or only gourmand... and making me think of that passage in The Master and Margarita in which Woland asks Matthew Levy, "what would your good do if evil did not exist, and what would the earth look like if shadows disappeared from it?"...

The base of Lexington Avenue is sandalwood-heavy, and, mixed with the aforementioned crème brûlée, iris and patchouli, the sweet wood creates a lacquered-box effect which makes the new Warhol fragrance somewhat reminiscent of Chinatown (as others have already noted). What I would have loved is even more patchouli to make the scent darker...but then of course I am patchouli-mad at the moment, and perhaps an overdose of this dark, earthy note would have tipped the good-evil balance and ruined the harmony (it also would have probably made Lex Ave too similar to Silver Factory, my favorite in the series). Lexington Ave will be a wonderful comfort scent during cold days, which are, let's face it, right around the corner, and I think I might need a bottle.

Andy Warhol Lexington Avenue will be available in September at Bond No 9 boutiques and Saks, $135.00-$195.00.

If you would like to enter the prize draw for samples of Lexington Ave, Union Sq (the 2nd Warhol scent) and Love in Black, please say so in you comment. Two winners will be chosen at random and announced on Monday.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Perfume Review Serge Lutens Serge Noire

By Tom

Serge Lutens is one of my favorite houses and one that has given me several scents that I don't ever wish to be without, and to which I find myself always returning. Even ones that I find to be a personal miss I can at least appreciate; I think this is why I think of some of the recent releases as the equivalent of a slump period: his "malaise era". Not that I didn't enjoy and even buy some of them, but really, could Louve and Rousse not seem like a rest period after Muscs Koublai Khan and Chene?

Serge Noire is the latest export release, and despite my personal promise to myself that I would not get all crazy about a new Serge I did get a sample from the Perfumed Court when it was available.

On me it opens with an incensey accord that also has a bare touch of rubber and I swear a touch of anise before the bark-y cinnamon drops in to play. Yes, there are hints of the last few Serges in there and that's both a good and bad thing: good in that this one seems to coalesce everything that the other ones were trying to say, bad if like me you bought the last ones. I don't get any of the menthol in here that others have reported, at least in the beginning. As a matter of fact this seems to be the least of his line to do an opening fireworks kind of thing (the one that he's usually famous for), even with the openings delicious earthy heat. This one it seems is all about the drydown.

And what a drydown: there's something a little melancholy about it, something contemplative. It seemed to fade in and out on me, like listening to the radio at night at the shore: something from a ballroom in New York and the signal gains and loses strength as the clouds pass over the brightly starred sky. Or perhaps from the dance under the big tent as you steal away to the beach for a walk along the shore. You can see the Bioluminescence in the surf, almost as bright as the stars in the sky, stars that you never see in the city The air is warm with the smell of woods and the remnants of bonfires, but still has a trace of a chill (finally, the menthol) reminding you that summer is nearly over and another year has gone by. There you stroll, your shoes in one hand, perhaps a drink in the other, your toes in the cool coarse sand, the warm hint of patch seems like a reminder of reckless, feckless youth.

Was I blown away by it? It's certainly the best new Serge in a while. If it hadn't been preceded by what seems to be three drafts, I'd be thrilled. Will I buy? Of course, it's brilliant, it's epic, it's a tone poem. It's Charles Ryder remembering his love for Sebastian and Julia. It's stunning. But I still feel I should get a rebate for buying Rousse and Louve...

Available at Aedes, $140.00 for 1.69oz.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Perfume Review: Creed Love in Black

I wanna be Jackie Onassis. I wanna wear a pair of dark sunglasses. I wanna be Jackie. Tire Me, Rage Against the Machine.

Love in Black
is Creed's homage to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and is meant to evoke "the unique elan" of Mrs Onassis: "her dark, mysterious eyes behind dark sunglasses, her wavelets of brunette hair, her trim shape in a black sheath." The ingredients used in the blend allegedly come from places loved by Jackie, and the perfume is being released on the 40th anniversary of her wedding to Aristotle Onassis. I am surprisingly very uninterested in "what perfumes celebrities wear" and never gave any thought to what scent could have suited Jackie O... I suppose it would be a scent that is classically proportioned, with the kind of spare elegance that the former First Lady favored and which I absolutely admire and to which I aspire. "Dramatic preppy" is how I would classify such a perfume.

Love in Black is exactly such a fragrance. In his column in September Allure, Frederic Malle notes that the iris note in Love in Black makes the composition reminiscent of Chanel No 19, only without the green notes of the latter. On my skin and to my nose, the new Creed is all about violet, not iris, and I think that a not too dainty violet blend is a great way to do preppy/WASPy, an alternative to the aldehydes and clean-sporty scents populating this category. The composition starts with a very short-lived whiff of something freshly floral (the "night-blooming wildflowers from the Greek isles" perhaps). In less than a second that sharpish accord is gone and the violet note begins to unfold. The note is done just the way I like it, it is "buttery" rather than powdery, has a noticeable (cedar)woody undertone and delicate sweetness from blackcurrants. Somewhere towards the base, rose can be smelled but it is very subtle and does not overshadow violet while enhancing the rounded, feminine feel of the blend.

I would position this violet fragrance somewhere between the rich and buttery Norma Kamali Violette and the sweet, woody and no less buttery Bois de Violette by Lutens. It is elegant and classic but not too prim and propper and as such is very versatile: wear it with a sheath dress or with a turtleneck sweater. It does indeed evoke the "unique elan" of Jacqueline Kennedy and fits the overall spirit of the Creed collection very well (it also seems to me that a stately violet offering was overdue from this line). Like Malle, I think that Love in Black will be one of the smartest releases this fall and might very well become the one and only Creed scent in my current perfume wardrobe.

Love in Black will be available in September in Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Saks 5th Ave, $130.00 for 1oz, $230.00 for 2.5oz and $350.00 for 8.4oz. More information can be found at

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Perfume Review: Agarscents Bazaar Al Manara

It is my pleasure to feature today a review written by a dear friend of mine and a fellow perfume lover and oud connossieur, Marian Williams.

We have all fantasized about “the ideal perfume”. Who hasn't scoured department store counters, internet retailers, auction houses, elegant and exclusive fragrance boutiques and Grandma's basement hoping to find the scent that perfectly reflects who we are?

My search ultimately led me to Agarscents Bazaar, an online retailer that specializes in Arabian musks, oils and perfumes. Sharif LaRache has created a line of Arabian Oils that are as mesmerizing as they are exotic, ranging in price from $25.00 - $900.00. “Al Manara” is a blend he created for me- the fragrance that brought me to the end of my search.

AL Manara

What does it mean to embody all things- when the yin and yang fuse, when heaven and earth are inseparable, when liquid flight soars us to darkest depths? Who made this rose- gazelle? swift panther? Now, a child, I rock in your cradle and daze into light. Falling back. Back to primal forests, to the day when earth ruptured and life joyed out. I want to gulp you in- devour your lush plushness, my blood aboil with molten gold. You are my skin when I was new- translucent, then, and fragilely sheer. You are the breath of my first kiss, the gasp of my last ascending breath. You are my grown heart. Come- rub my head. Entwine your petals in my limpid curls, yank me from my torpor so I may better see the light. I know you- the me I will be upon awakening.

Notes: Orris, Rose Isphahan, Labdanum, Amber, Myrrh, Yellow Plum, Sandalwood Spicatum, Bulgarian Rose, Musk

Mr. LaRache is about to release a new line of fragrances, including some that are more tailored to the Western market.

Image (cover of Coelho's Zahir) source, Harper Collins.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Perfume Review: Aftelier Cognac

Cognac to me is the most comforting drink. It has a pleasantly numbing effect, it relaxes and soothes my invariably stressed mind like no other drink, prescriptive or non-prescriptive, does. Drinking from a pear-shaped snifter is akin to imbibing in the waters of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. A perfume inspired by the eau-de-vie should therefore be a comfort scent extraordinaire, and in talented hands of Mandy Aftel it really is.

A cognac lover whose knowledge on the subject is much superior to mine, when asked if the way Aftelier creation smells can be compared to any actual cognac, thought that if the perfume was a drink it would have been the closest to Martell Creation. Having had a (very expensive) pleasure of tasting the said cognac, I understand the comparison made by the tres sophisticated friend of mine. The notes of ginger and candied orange zest that hit the palate on the first sniff (and the first taste) are utterly delicious. The ginger spikes up the silky aroma, and its zestiness is perfectly balanced by the nutty, oily accord that makes me think of very old wooden casks and mild curry. The effect is incredibly attractive, a complex, mellow, rich aroma that is warming and refreshing at the same time, a blend that is simultaneously sensual and tranquil.

Aftelier Cognac is available at and Henri Bendel, $150.00 for 7ml. Martell Creation can be found at various wine merchants for around $300 for 750ml.

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