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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Beating the Birthday Blahs: Parfum d'Empire Wazamba, Aziyadé and 3 Fleurs

By Tom

Well, the day came and went. I got up, went to the Farmers Market and the Fathers Day classic car show on Rodeo, to Sweet Lady Jane for cake and to Scent Bar (where two nice ladies from Basenotes were visiting and shopping, so I didn't interrupt) I smelled a few things: the new L'Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse which is a joy, the new Commes des Garcons which are some joke I don't get and a couple more Xerjoff which aren't doing it for me.

Then I ran across the Parfum d'Empire area. I've liked their scents in the past, but they aren't for the faint of heart. They are, well definite scents.

Aziyadé is a definite scent. Imagine if you will the stewed fruits of Lutens Arabie mixed with a heapin' helpin' 'o the cumin in Eau d'Hermes. I love this, but I love the drrrty. If you're a cumin-phobe you will feel like you died and gone to hell. If you are a very bad person, Karma will make sure that you're trapped in a stuck elevator with someone wearing this.

Wazamba is hardly a shrinking violet: it also has fruits in the form of a stewed apple note, mixed with incense and woody myrrh. It certainly doesn't whisper, but it's more day-t0-day wearable on me.

3 Fleurs is one that I personally wouldn't wear any more than bias-cut silk. It's gorgeous; a perfectly balanced concoction of rose, jasmine and tuberose brightened by mint, each smoothing out the rough edges of the other unto the sly musky drydown. Between this and the L'Artisan tuberose has been redeemed...

$75 for 50ml, $110 for 100, at the usual suspects

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

We Love NY? I Love Angkor Wat!

By Marla

Olivia Giacobetti’s Vamp a NY, a new organic, all-natural perfume for Honore des Pres, is sadly mis-named. I suppose the HdP marketing team chose it to capitalize on what’s left of youth culture enthusiasm for the Twilight phenomenon. But this gorgeous creation conjures neither angst-ridden teen vampires nor urban dystopias. Instead, I find myself transported back in time to the 12th century Khmer Empire of Cambodia, and specifically, to the court dancers who performed their impossibly graceful ballets in royal palaces and temples.

Lush and tropical, Vamp officially opens on a rum accord, but there’s nothing at all boozy here to my nose. Instead, I get about 10 minutes of a shimmering sharpness, like bright shafts of sunlight on a lotus pond. The heart of Vamp is a stunning melange of equatorial flowers cut from the Emperor’s garden. Tuberose, ylang ylang, and perhaps some frangipani grace this bouquet. Natural vanilla, both orchid and pod, with the lovely green banana facet found in the actual plant, weaves like the court dancers’ hands in and out of the flowers. Later, hints of smoked spice (turmeric, perhaps paired with a tiny bit of massoia bark?) emerge through warm drafts of tolu and Peru balsams. This is the deep, deep south. This is the Equator.

The composite effect of Vamp is of sunlight, air, still dark waters, and shimmering heat. No vampire could survive in this radiant atmosphere. Longevity is excellent, especially considering that all-natural perfumes are notorious for their ephemerality. Sillage is good, neither too strong, nor cloying. And Vamp blooms beautifully in the summer heat.

I’m delighted with this new trend toward all-natural perfumes, and thrilled that some of the best noses in the business are creating in this genre. My only complaint is that it should have been named, “Apsara”.

Photos: French EFEO archeologist Charles Carpeaux in the ruins of Angkor, early 20th century, a Cambodian dancer at the Royal Palace, 1921, stone apsara.

Disclosure: I received a sample of Vamp through the Blog Grain de Musc. I have no financial ties to any entity connected with this perfume.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fabulous Fragrances Book Review

By Alyssa

In our current world of blogs, Burr, and Turin&Sanchez perfume criticism it’s easy to giggle a little while paging through Jan Moran’s Fabulous Fragrances: A Guide to Prestige Perfumes. Released in 1994, by Moran’s own Beverly Hills-based Crescent House Publishing, Fabulous is proud of its industry and celebrity connections. It features a blurb from Elizabeth Taylor on the front cover (along with a photo of the author), and one from Annette Green, then president of the Fragrance Foundation, on the back. Its perfume “profiles”—they’re not reviews—often include long quoted stories from designers and stars explaining how they created their perfumes, followed up by descriptions of said celebrities’ charitable activities. Many profiles end with a list of “famous patrons.” (Who knew Princess Diana of Wales was such a perfumista? Or that Jackie Onassis, Elsa Peretti and Imelda Marcos had such similar tastes?) In the introduction Gale Hayman—wife of Fred Hayman and co-owner of their Beverly Hills boutique—takes full credit for unleashing Giorgio on the world. (That is, after ignoring the advice Karl Lagerfeld gave her over lunch to “forget it” if it took her longer than two years to create her perfume.) Moran portrays herself as a Texas girl and a savvy businesswoman with a Harvard MBA. She is both—her other industry projects include a collaboration with Michael Edwards—but the persona Fabulous projects is that of a gracious (and quite fabulous) Beverly Hills doyenne. By the time the slightly updated Fabulous Fragrances II comes out in 2000—and I don’t, by the way, find I need both books—Moran has become Countess Moran of Lemnos.

With so much smoke and stardust in our eyes we could be excused for missing the fact that Fabulous is, at its core, a fairly solid resource book. Moran’s introductory chapters provide good advice about discovering one’s taste in perfume and the uses of a perfume wardrobe. They also offer cogent historical information on trends in perfume and succinct definitions of traditional perfume categories (chypre, oriental and so on) and the different strengths of perfume (edp, edt and so on). Each of the 350 perfume profiles includes a full list of notes, and the year of release. Moran’s prose is warm and clear. She writes particularly well about older classics, and a surprising number of Carons, Chanels, Goutals and Guerlains and such pop up among soon-to-be-forgotten newer releases and blockbusters from the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The profiles are arranged alphabetically (I find it confusing to have the perfumes separated from their houses but I must be in the minority since this is common in guides) and they are augmented by a list of “honorable mentions” that didn’t quite make the “prestige perfume” cut. The latter third of the book groups the perfumes by their respective categories, and includes a glossary of “perfume ingredients,” (sometimes these are notes rather than actual materials) and a buyers guide. Obviously the listings are dated, but since I’m reading as a collector rather than a normal person shopping for a signature perfume, I enjoy hearing about underappreciated or now-discontinued scents and find the whole a useful snapshot of the time period. In fact, I enjoy all of Fabulous, from the star-studded bits to Moran’s enthusiastic praise of perfumes she clearly loves. I still giggle, but it’s affectionate laughter: the countess knows her stuff.

I bought my copy of Fabulous used, online, where it is widely available, as is Fabulous II.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Softest of Greens: Fern Notes in Perfume

By Donna

I have always had a special fondness for the aroma of ferns. Growing up in the country, I spent a lot of time in the woods and fields, only coming home reluctantly when dusk began to fall or hunger called. One of my favorite things was the fragrance of the ferns growing on the forest floor. In spring their pretty unfurling was a sure sign of life returning after the long winter; in summer they smelled fresh and cooling, and as autumn arrived and they began to turn a golden color along with the tree leaves above, they gave off a wonderful hay-like sweetness.

A few years after I left country life behind I found a perfume that smelled so much like the gentle ferns of my childhood that I fell in love with it on the spot. It was called Frond, by an obscure maker, which was then called Vincent, and it purported to be the aroma of the wild ferns, heather and wildflowers of the Irish countryside. I have no idea now if it was actually made entirely from materials sourced in the Emerald Isle, but it surely did smell like it. I love green scents, but sometimes a change from the usual exhilarating sharpness of galbanum, mint, lemongrass, and other materials commonly used in green perfumes can be nice. For the tenderest green effect imaginable, look no further than fern, and Frond was just like walking along a dew-drenched Irish hillside. Something reminded me about this one not long ago, and I decided to see if it was still around. I did locate it, but it's in a new style of bottle and is stated to have rose, sandalwood and ylang ylang in it, which I certainly did not remember from the original formula. It is being made a by a company that seems to cater mainly to the tourist trade and has changed its name too; the Web site has this a nice story about how the new owners of the brand came to be in the perfume business. I decided to look for an online auction, and lo and behold, there was one bottle of the old style for sale. I won it (for less than five dollars, one of the perks of being a fan of obscure fragrances), and when it arrived I was amazed to discover that it was in perfect condition, and smelling damply and deliciously of ferns and mosses. I have been wearing it a lot and I can see myself splashing it on even more as the weather warms up.

(Another feminine perfume from the same house was called Ilaun, and it shared the ferny, mossy aspect of Frond in its base. Both are made by the Burren Perfumery in County Clare, Ireland. Has anyone tried either one of these in their current formulation, and are they any good?)

Not everyone can find a vintage bottle of Frond, so what else is out there? I recently got a sample of a delightful fragrance called Wild Fern by Geo F. Trumper; It's meant for gentlemen, indeed the fougère style scents are almost exclusively found in masculines now, which I think it a pity. It is very green, refreshing and not too sweet, just a nice hay-like coumarin character along with the green, and has just a hint of something that might brand it as a “manly” fragrance, but that should not stop women from trying it by any means. If I had a full bottle of this I would have no trouble keeping it in frequent rotation all summer long. Another nice thing is that this line is very affordable, even after making the necessary conversions from English pounds sterling to USD; they are based in London and seem to have just about everything a man could want or need in the way of fragrances and grooming products.

Now that I have tried the Wild Fern, I am curious about Penhaligons English Fern, though I understand it is quite heavy on the lavender. Penhaligons' perfumes and I have always gotten along just fine, but I have not really explored their masculine fragrances the way I should have done. If I want more ferns in my life I will probably have to smell a lot of men's fragrances anyway.

So many men's fragrances that are fougères do not actually have much in the way of green “ferniness” to them and they usually have various aromatic elements such as lavender, sage, woods and other notes that keep the green character from expressing itself. They also tend to lean more toward the coumarin, or hay aroma, than the greener aspect of fresh fern. I love both kinds but I would seek out these greener versions if I knew more about which ones fit the description. (The original scent that gave its name to the genre, Houbigant's Fougère Royale from 1882, had lavender and other herbals in it; and it is supposedly being re-released sometime in 2010, but from what I know of Houbigant's recent history, I fear that the new version will not be up to par, since the house is only a name now with no connection to its origins. I would love to smell this the way it once was.)

Another ferny fragrance is the lovely Champaca Bloom & Fern by Voluspa, a house that is better know for its excellent home fragrances and candles. It is one of the softest perfumes I have ever smelled, and the champaca is perfectly matched with the green notes. It is like a whisper of fresh, moist magnolia without the soapy character so often found in commercial fragrances said to have magnolia in them. These are synthetic compositions that often disappoint people who are looking for a true-to-life magnolia perfume. I have a generous vial of this that I received in a swap, and I am trying to hoard it, but I like wearing it so much that it's not going to last much longer. It's one of the few feminine scents I have run across that feature fern in a starring role, and I wish there were more of them. Of course, since it's by Voluspa, it also comes in room spray, diffuser oil and a candle.

So, does anyone else have a favorite fern scent? I would love to explore more of these gentle green perfumes, but they are not exactly trendy or cutting edge, and fern is usually relegated to either a supporting role or as the base of very traditional men's products. For me they are restful, soothing and a most welcome alternative in the spectrum of green fragrances.

Image credit: Polypody fern growing wild in the Burren region of Ireland, from

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Sourpuss, again...Xerjoff Dhofar, Modoc and Tobacco Oroville

By Tom

Maybe it's the birthday blahs. This weekend I turn 103 (I know, I don't look a day over 70!) and I'm crabby. So it's with some ennui that I am seeing another company come out with 12 or so scents, stratospherically priced. Not they are bad mind you...

Dhofar is a pleasant, gentlemanly citrus that starts with a hint of cumin. Hint is the operative word, this isn't Eau d'Hermes. It then gets lavender somewhat along the lines of Mouchoir de Monsieur. That is, if MdeM had all the life sucked out of it.

Modoc is sweet lemons and vanilla amber. Vanilla in both senses: it smells vanilla and it is vanilla, if you get my drift. Light vetiver and lighter musk join in later. It smells...nice.

Tobacco Oroville has a bunch of stuff in it. Tobacco, Galbanum, sage, blah, blah. On me it smells somewhat like Opus Oils Dirty Sexy Wilde just not dirty or sexy.

Eau d'Hermes is $120 for 3.3 oz at Hermes

Mouchoir de Monsieur is $71.80 for 3.4 oz at Amazon

Dirty Sexy Wilde is $50 for 1 oz at Opus Oils website

These are $345 for 50ML at LuckyScent

Nest week I promise to be in a better mood...

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Mecca Balsam prize draw winner presch1. Please email us your info using the contact link on the right.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Byredo La Tulipe

By Marina

According to Byredo, "La Tulipe is built around the idea of the tulip". That is something to keep in mind when smelling the perfume. If I did not know what it was called, I wouldn't have guessed it was inspired by this particular flower. The beginning is lilacs, the rest - freesia and a sort of a dewy, pastel, musky rose. Because I know the name and the story, my impressionable mind does in fact conjure up an image of a tulip out of this fresh-sweet floralcy. If I did not know...I probably would have just imagined a spring garden in bloom, non-specific to any one flower.

I like the fragrance a lot, because I like that it takes me to this wind-swept, not too tidy morning garden drenched in dew. I certainly would have liked it even more if it was less heavy on freesia. In fact, were it not for that creamy, sweet accord, the scent would have been reminiscent of tulip bellona. It might be my subjective perception, but tulips seem to be both olfactively and "visually" fresher and greener. They are among the first to push their way back to life from the great beyond of winter, and the great cold beyond is still perceptible in their frailty, their slight earthiness...

It is interesting that both Hilde Soliani's Il Tuo Tulipano and La Tulipe are sweet fragrances, Soliani's being the sweeter of the two. Perhaps, the explanation is given by Byredo's Ben Gorham who talks about "the expressive physicality it [a tulip] bears". I assume that by "expressive physicality" Gorham means vibrant colors. In that respect, Soliani's concept is more successful. Her intense fragrance conjures up a bright red tulip, and the exuberant vivacity of the composition justifies the sweetness. La Tulipe, on the other hand, is more "pastel" "in feel", and thus, to me, it would have been more fitting for it to be less sweet, more airy and green. But that's just knit-picking. The fragrance is pretty, no other description would suit it better. Pretty, feminine, joyful, with a spring in its step.

La Tulipe is available at, First in Fragrance and Barneys.

Image source, Corbis.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pumpkin Patch: Etat Libre d’Orange Like This

By Tom

Tilda Swinton is an actress that I adore; I've enjoyed her performances since "Orlando". When I read that she was going to have a celeb fragrance I wasn't sure. For every Jane Birkin/Miller Harris creation, there's, well too many to list of god-awful ones. I know that Etat Libre isn't exactly Parfums del Mattel, but still.

Receiving the mass email from LuckyScent I stopped by on the way home. Listed notes are Yellow mandarin, ginger, pumpkin accord, immortelle, Moroccan neroli, rose de Grasse, vetiver, heliotrope, and musk (Notes from LuckyScent). The neroli and the mandarin open it on me. more peel than orange. Ginger drops in, more like powdered than fresh raw or candied. The pumpkin is discernible and fleshy and the immortelle is a whisper. About halfway through the musk comes out to play, adding in a delightfully disconcerting drrrtyness to the proceedings. I realise that the preceding sentences, list of notes and that fact that it's the kids that came up with the first perfume that smells like a sex crime might not lend itself to the idea that this is a very quiet scent. There's nothing foody about it, despite the pumpkin. The immortelle isn't the moist, maple syrup variety and the ginger and the orange are as effacing as the rose and vetiver. It's probably the best thing that's come out of Etat Libre, and perhaps the first thing of theirs that I really want to purchase.

According to The Non-Blonde Ms. Swinton will be at Henri Bendel on 5th Avenue on June 17th to sign bottles and let us bask in her fabulousness. Would that I could be there...

$99 for 50ML at Henri Bendel and LuckyScent

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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Il Profumo Nuda

By Marina

The inspiration for Nuda comes from "the scent that only the skin of a woman can exhale in its state of ecstasy. (L'ispirazione è data dall'odore che solo la pelle di Donna sa emanare nel suo stato di estasi.)" Alrighty then. I have to tell you that I smelled the fragrance first and only afterward looked at the description...and now I wonder if, after reading it, I am even comfortable to voice the image that came to my mind upon smelling Nuda.

Because, reader, to me it smelled child-like. There are certain musks, which have a slightly powdery, clean yet warm characteristic, with, strange as it sounds, a saliva-like undertone that I find interesting and appealing. And whenever I smell a musk like that I think, "a small child", or more precisely, that special place on a small child's neck, right under the plump little chin- the sweetest place to smell and to kiss.

As the fragrance develops on skin, it becomes somewhat more woody, slightly spicy (ginger) and powdery, and a baby grows into a little girl who is playing dress up with mama's makeup. There is a certain innocence about Nuda that I find endlessly appealing. Try it for yourself and let me know whether you will get the ecstasy of Il Profumo's description or the puerility of mine.

Available at First in Fragrance, €119,00 for 100ml.


Tuesday, June 08, 2010

La Via del Profumo's Sensuous Side: Tasneem, Night Blossom, Tabac and Mecca Balsam

By Donna

In my last post I reviewed three fragrances from the Italian natural perfume company La Via del Profumo by AbdesSalaam Attar (which is the Sufi name of perfumer Dominique Dubrana, a detail I did not know until recently), and now my attention turns to some of the more complex scents that reflect the Orientalist style for which this house is justly admired.

First of all, one of them is a floral that manages to be delightfully different from anything I have ever smelled before. Tasneem, a creamy Oriental floral blend, is built around the second distillation of the ylang ylang flower extract, which apparently results in an almond-like essence for use in perfumery. This is explained in the Web site description of this fragrance, and it's something I would imagine that only perfumers know about. This is one of the softest and most appealing florals imaginable. The almond quality is not really very powdery, nor is it a candy-sweet rendition like the Jordan almond simplicity of L' Artisan's Jour de Fête. Because it is not really an extract of almond, it also lacks that slight cyanide aura that will appear when a concentrated essence of real almond is used. Instead it is a tender and rounded bouquet of blossoms that has the sleight-of-hand effect of smelling just like milky, mildly powdery almond until you get closer, and draw your breath in slowly, and then from deep down inside the fluffy softness the ylang ylang emerges in its more familiar floral guise. Egyptian jasmine, Tonka bean and vanilla complete and enhance this effect. As parlor tricks go it's a real winner, and I could not keep myself from smelling my own skin when wearing Tasneem. It is deeply, warmly feminine and I would think that men would love to be with a woman who wears it. I am already craving a full bottle of it.

Night Blossom is supposed to be about flowers too, but to my nose it is dominated by an intensely penetrating patchouli note and an incense-like heart. Its “blossom” is the tuberose, so I wonder if some of that effect is just more of the weird aspects of the tuberose flower being brought to the forefront; is there any end to the fascinating complexity of real tuberose? After all, such perfumes as Tubéreuse Criminelle are anything but pretty even if they are beautiful to those who appreciate their strangeness. I do get just a smidgen of that creosote odor that is in TC's opening, followed by the dark green murkiness of patchouli and some other things I can't quite pick out. This is for serious fans of patchouli and also of offbeat tuberose compositions. Don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful stuff, but don't expect Night Blossom to be a delicate floral scent. It is not very sweet and it would be a fantastic masculine. Men who would ordinarily shy away from wearing a tuberose fragrance should really try it. The heavily candied and “girly” aspects of Fracas and its multitude of imitators are entirely absent from this one.

There are many fragrances based on tobacco, mostly intended for men, and the recent vogue has been for the aromatic Oriental style types like Serge Lutens' Chergui and the even more ornate Fumerie Turque. Tabac is just as pleasing as those, but it does not have the same narcotic opium den sweetness so it may have a broader appeal. It does have a subtly sweet facet in contrast with the roughness of the leaf that seems to derive from the tobacco flower itself, which happens to be one of my own favorites; I grow the ornamental Nicotiana species in my garden for their graceful beauty and their superb evening fragrance. It goes on a little wild but smoothes out into a seamless and long-lasting finish. The commitment of this house to fine quality materials is immediately evident here, and anyone who enjoys a good tobacco scent should fall hard for Tabac. (Ladies, don't let the men have all the fun with this one, it's just fine for you too.)

The final perfume in my sample set is the newest in the line, Mecca Balsam. Much has already been written about it since it release and with good reason; it is truly outstanding. It is an exotic “Orientalist” type, which has been something of an industry trend recently, as evidenced by the popularity of such releases as L' Artisan's Havana Vanille and of course any number of Serge Lutens and Montale perfumes. Any fragrance launch of this style has to be good to stand out from the crowd, and Mecca Balsam is just that. It is not so overwhelmingly heavy and spicy that it can hardly be worn in public like some others in the genre, but it does have an “otherness” and authenticity to it, a quality not often seen in Western perfumery. It is as much of a departure in character as Tcharas but in a different way. It reminds me a little of one of my other favorites in what is sometimes called the “spice market” style, which is a rather broad catch-all category for these perfumes, and that is Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Mahjoun. From me that is high praise, and it is no accident that both fragrances are based on natural essences. Mecca Balsam is not a gourmand like Mahjoun, and is not as sweet, but it shares its complex and addictive deliciousness.

It is in such perfumes as this that the interplay of so many different ingredients creates something greater than the sum of its parts. It is built around one of my favorite perfume elements, labdanum, an essential building block of the Chypre genre, enhanced with frankincense, benzoin and tobacco, and decorated with florals like Damask rose and Indian tuberose, though the floral notes are barely evident; this is a warm, radiant incense perfume and one of the best of its kind. It is not dominated by any one overly strong spice note such as cumin or saffron that can be distracting for people who can't tolerate an overdose of such ingredients in perfumes. I will be the first to admit that I have not smelled very many truly authentic Arabian types of attars, so I have a limited basis of comparison that mostly involves my experiences with such lines as Amouage and Serge Lutens. What my nose does know is what good perfume is supposed to smell like, and Mecca Balsam is that, and not just with the qualifier of good “for an all-natural fragrance” – it can stand on its own against anything else from a niche line, and the fact that it is truly natural and cruelty-free is just icing on the cake. Did I mention that its longevity is excellent? It is – and not just “for a natural” either. It just gets better and better as time goes on and it melds with skin chemistry to create a sublime alchemy.

Now for the good part – The perfumer has very generously offered a full bottle of Mecca Balsam Eau de Parfum to one lucky PST reader! I will also include the winner's choice of three samples chosen from among the other La Via del Profumo perfumes I have reviewed: Tcharas, Tabac, Acqua Santa, Grezzo (d'Eleganza), African Night, Tasneem and Night Blossom. If you would like to be entered in the draw, please say so in the comments. Please note, I can only send this to a U.S.A. mailing address, unfortunately no shipping to other countries is possible, and anyone who enters as an “Anonymous” commenter and does not give a nickname in the body of the comment will not be entered in the draw. The winner will be selected by on an online randomizer program the week after this review is published. Good luck!

Disclaimer: All perfume samples reviewed for this two-part series were a personal gift to me from a third party. The prize draw bottle is being provided gratis by the perfumer. Image credit: “Arabian Nights II” by artist John Douglas, from

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Monday, June 07, 2010


"May Flowers" draw - Tally.
"Martin Margiela" draw - queen_cupcake.
Please, email us your info using the contact me link on the right.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Amazone by Hermes

By Marina

Amazone, originally created in 1974, is said to have been reformulated in the late 80s. Since I have only "discovered" the scent this year, it would be realistic of me to assume that I am only familiar with the later version, and, for my own piece of mind, I choose not too look for the original. I like to imagine that the older version would have been stinkier, skankier just like a "real" amazone, whereas the new one is the urban amazone, as striking and forceful as its mythical counterpart but, shall we say, cleaner.

I love it. Love the classic severity of its structure, the traditional transition from (dry) citrus top to (dry) floral heart, to (softer but still not remotely cuddly) woody, earthy drydown. I find it hard to classify this scent, the citrus characteristic is certainly quite strong, but so is the green floral and the austere chypre vibe. It's sharp, verdant, woody elegance puts it for me in the same category as the original Private Collection, Futur and Anais Anais. Of the four mentioned, Amazone might be the most unsmiling. I wouldn't call it a "bitchy" scent or combatant in feeling, but the somber green of its narcissus, the stringency of its vetiver, the leathery nuance of labdanum lend it a definite noli me tangere quality. One would be hesitant to attempt to get too close to Amazone, but if she allows somebody to get close, they might sense a certain warmth and even a hint of sweetness...something peachy in the heart, a delicate caress of orris in the base...Not that she lets anyone to get close often.

I wear this fragrance as armour, when I need armour, and I imagine that no one and nothing can touch me. With Amazone, "I am intact and I don't give a damn".

Available at Hermes and at various online retailers, for a variety of prices.

Image by Helmut Newton.


Thursday, June 03, 2010

Sourpuss...Oranges and Lemons Say The Bells of St.Clements by Heeley

By Tom

Notes: orange, lemon, earl grey tea and bergamot.

Okay I get that it's a new version of a vintage mens cologne and very English. But it's supposed to be an eau de parfum and it's nigh unto gone in about 10 minutes. How much is Eau Sauvage running these days?

$148 for 100ML at Luckscent

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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Gardenia Grand Soir by Parfumerie Generale

By Marina

White floral perfumes blossom in heat. There is nothing more summery than berries. Combine the too, and…the result is either, well, yes, a ubiquitous Sephora variety fruity-floral or, if the blending is masterful and materials top notch, a wonderful summer scent. Pierre Guillaume’s recent limited edition offering, Gardenia Grand Soir, is the latter.

On me, it smells of gardenias and blackcurrants. At times, more of blackcurrants than of gardenias. Blackcurrant leaves rubbed in your hands, twigs and not too ripe berries- they are all there, creating a beautifully nostalgic atmosphere of carefree childhood summers. As far as I can see, blackcurrants are not listed among the “official notes”. If you smell them in Gardenia Grand Soir too, let me know. The juiciness and the greenness of the fruity accord lends the florals a bright, somewhat airy quality, which is why I don’t perceive it as a “soir” scent. Because of the very realistic, “just off the branch” quality of the berry smell, I also don’t perceive it as partciularly “grand”. Without a doubt, the scent would dazzle if worn for a dressed up night out, but there is something relaxingly casual and out-doorish about it all the same. A pretty, easy-going gardenia that gardenia-phobic mighty love.

Available at Luckyscent and Perfumerie Generale, $95.00 for 50ml.

Image source, Flair.

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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

La Via del Profumo On the Lighter Side: Acqua Santa, African Night & Grezzo (d’ Eleganza)

By Donna

In my recent review of the AbdesSalaam Attars Profumo perfume Tcharas, from the Italian fragrance house La Via del Profumo, I extolled the quality of raw intensity that I experienced in that wonderful scent. I am happy to tell you more about this line, starting with a few that are very different in character from Tcharas. This all-natural line contains a dazzling array of perfumes in a wide range of styles. The samples I have tried are only a small part of the sumptuous menu of offerings from the very talented perfumer Dominique Dubrana, and after testing them I only want more.

The lightest in the sample group is Acqua Santa, which is a unisex cologne, and it may just be the Platonic ideal of a cologne, what the original 4711 must have been like in its prime before it was ruined in modern times and sold by the liter in mass market drugstores. It has some of the woody austerity of Guerlain's Eau de Cologne Imperiale, but it is not citric or sharp. The unique aspect of it is the use of sandalwood and frankincense, instead of the usual woods such as cedar or pine normally found in traditional colognes. There certainly is citrus here, but it's a lovely soft orange blossom instead of a squeaky lemon or lime oil, and a just a hint of rose softens the whole thing. The herbal elements are subdued and interesting; I can't say exactly what they are, since they do not jump out as much at the opening the way they do in most compositions of this style, but I think I smelled santolina and absinthe, a.k.a. wormwood. The name means Holy Water of course, and it meant to be a scent to “open the heart” and calm the soul. It is gently cooling and I look forward to wearing it when summer comes. Of course it is fleeting like all of its kind and reapplication throughout the day would be fine, but it lasts better than one might expect for such a sheer fragrance, and the incense lingers on the skin for several hours.

Grezzo (d' Eleganza) is nearly as light as Acqua Santa, very dry, and as dapper and refined a masculine fragrance as you are ever likely to encounter. A similar structure of herbal notes, rose and frankincense is discernible, but there is a little something extra in Grezzo; castoreum and vanilla; the castoreum gives it some depth and nudges it over into the masculine realm. I suppose a woman could wear it since it's not of a clichéd “manly” style, but it is one of those wonderful scents that really smell best on a man, while you (if you are female) wear something softly feminine to play up the vive la difference contrast. The perfumer says that he wears Grezzo, which was originally made for an (unnamed) Italian fashion designer, when he “must attend the world of fashion or high society.” It's certainly perfect for those whose lifestyle permits, but for any man it would be ideal for a special date or gala event, although we would rather smell it on you more frequently than that, so please, splash with abandon. The women of the world will thank you, and possibly follow you down the street. There is a great Italian tradition of quality fragrances for men, and it's wonderful to find one of them in a 100% natural formula.

The last of this group was made for women, and I wish that my sample of African Night were a really big bottle instead. I have never been to Africa and I probably never will, so I don't know if it smells like its name, but I know what it smells like to me; the sweet living breath of the earth and awakening life. I once went for a ride in a hot air balloon, an undertaking which must be accomplished very early in the day while the air is cool so that the balloon will rise. It was in summertime shortly after sunrise as we drifted soundlessly through the lush green pastures and forests of rural Oregon, and as we passed over fields where thousands of berry bushes grew, their delicious aromas rose up in tantalizing waves to delight us. It was a mixture of rich, damp soil, fresh growing leaves, sweetly fragrant blossoms and the ripening fruit of cane berries, bursting with juices in the warming sun. This was many years ago, but when I smelled African Night it immediately reminded me of that day. Its balance is a bit more flowery than fruity, since the fruitiness is partially the result of a particularly excellent extract of ylang ylang, combined with rosewood, hibiscus and grapefruit. How this brought me back to the berry fields I have no idea but I heartily approve of the effect. African Night is said to be an anti-stress perfume, and it does seem to be conducive to a serene state of mind. It has a youthful, vibrant personality and a light femininity that would make it wearable for almost any woman and it is simply superb for summer wear. I know I will be longing for more of it once the really hot weather arrives.

Next time I will explore a few more perfumes in the Arabian-inspired styles for which this house is best known, including the new Mecca Balsam.

Image credit: The African savannah at night, from

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