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Friday, September 30, 2011

Unleash Your Inner Tigress! Nerd Girl Goes Vintage

By Marla

I keep telling anyone who will listen with unglazed eyes that we’re all living an iteration of the 1930s. Not a good era to reiterate! But here we are. So I began to wonder, as all Fragrant Nerd Girls must, what sort of perfumes were people talking about in the West in the 30s? I found a few, and ordered some on the Big Bay. Oh yeah, I can snipe an auction in the last 3 seconds with the best of them, baby!

One of my most beautiful finds is a gold flacon full of parfum extrait of Faberge’s Tigress. It’s from the 40s, but the perfume itself launched in 1938. It’s a saucy, spicy oriental in that lovely, dense style that some of us love and some of us loathe (I’m thinking of YOU, vintage Emeraude). The major notes are aldehydes, citrus, classic florals, spices, oak moss, vanilla and amber.

I’ve had lots of questions over the years about the aging of perfume. Can a perfume made in 1940 smell anything like it did then? Should we even open the bottle? Should we refrigerate? The question has a lot in common with keeping wines. An old Sauvingnon Blanc from New Zealand (aged for 7 years, let’s say), is a freak. It can be a wild and wonderful freak, but it tastes nothing like the fresh version. Chardonnays and Cabs obviously retain their original flavors for longer periods. With perfumes, top notes do fizz and fade out, or morph as time goes on. So the citrus tones of my Tigress are probably long gone. But base notes and spices tend to hold on, as do some aldehydes and florals. So if a vintage perfume has been stored with minimum light, air, and heat, you’ll be getting a true version of the heart and base notes, at least. My Tigress was treated well and she smells fabulous! It’s hard to rock such heavy scent in the tropics, but the spicy goodness (mostly clove and cinnamon), genuine oakmoss, and amber with the density of a neutron star are quite irresistible here.

I heartily recommend seeking out even a small amount of vintage Tigress, preferably dating from the 40s or 50s. The outrageously kitschy bottles with fake tiger fur caps that you see on the Big Bay generally date from the 1970s. I hear that version is good, too, but considerably lighter, with less amber and moss, than the earlier versions. Let me know if you’ve tried the Tigress, or seen one of those kooky bottles!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Garden of Earthly Delights: Perfume By Nature

By Donna

I seem to be discovering Australian perfumers all of a sudden, and I like what I am finding. I first heard of Ambrosia Jones, owner of Perfume By Nature, when I participated in the Midsummer Night’s Dream blogging project. Her oakmoss-rich Pan was a real standout. Then I was invited to be a part of the Summer of Patchouli Love mass blogging event and there she was again, this time anonymously as the author of “Number Six” until the identities of the perfumers were revealed. Her entry, a wonderfully bright and energizing cologne style scent later revealed to be named Happiness, was one of my favorites. Now I have sampled some fragrances from her regular line and they are just as good as the special project perfumes. This perfumer’s commitment to exceptional materials shines through in everything she makes and I look forward to more releases from her small but growing line.

Craving is a good one to start with if you want something that’s really a departure from the ordinary. It is a gourmand with an extroverted personality and is like no other perfume I have ever smelled. It’s boozy, toasty, nutty and creamy all at once and it reminds me of a drink I used to order at a local bar that was open later than most downtown spots; going there after a concert or movie was a real treat because the house specialty was hot adult beverages based on steamed, foamed milk and liqueur. I usually ordered the one with hazelnut in it. One of those on a cold and rainy winter night was all it took, and I would totter down to the bus stop to go home in a haze of comforting heat. Craving is not syrupy-sweet, and although it will make you hungry you won’t feel like you need a trip to the dentist. It was originally created for the Mystery of Musk project (which I am really sorry I missed out on after smelling some of the perfumes later), and underpinning the sweeter notes it has earthy ingredients such as ambrette seed, cocoa absolute, Australian sandalwood (of course!) and Hyraceum, a.k.a. Africa stone, a fossilized material that is a source of animalic character for natural perfumery; this contributes to the fragrance’s excellent lasting power. Ambrosia Jones made this perfume to encompass all the elements of her own best-loved bodily pleasures and made a truly sexy elixir in the process; I am sure that whoever has tried this one will find their own cravings fulfilled.

Love Potion is a no-holds-barred barrage of sensuality too, but it’s not all sweetness and light. This is a spell casting perfume and it takes a bit of patience for the full effect to take hold. A big but very smooth patchouli note is immediately obvious and for a while it seems as though that might be the main event, but as it warms to the skin it unfolds to reveal a delicate wash of jasmine, sweet orange and my favorite part of this perfume, a spicy heart of coriander and cardamom. I am enamored of anything with cardamom in it anyway, and the way it plays against the heavier patchouli like a bright ribbon on black velvet is very well done; it dances in and out daring me to catch it, and when I do it rewards my senses with that zesty sweetness that’s like nothing else. A man could wear this one with ease, and maybe even more successfully than a woman. It seems like just the thing for meshing with that manly skin chemistry. I have to say that if a man wore it around me, it would work just as the name implies!

How can you have both love and craving without chocolate? Ambrosia knows that’s almost impossible, and therefore gives us Death By Chocolate, a delectable gourmand that is as rich as devil’s food cake but not really all that sweet, because it has a woody base instead of the usual sugary components that are paired with chocolate, and only a touch of honey tempers the chocolate’s deep complexity. It’s made with real cocoa absolute and it will keep your nose occupied with frequent pressing to your arm, or wherever else you happen to apply it. As seductive as this juice is, I can think of places more interesting than arms… anyway, what was I saying? Oh yes, even confirmed haters of chocolate in perfume might appreciate this, as it is so divorced from the “candy” sensibility that after the initial brief rush of chocolate sweetness subsides, they may just find a well-constructed warm, woody Oriental style comfort scent that most assuredly does not smell like chocolate syrup. At all. I am saving the rest of my sample for a cold winter night when I will surely need it the most.

As most readers of this blog know, I love me some Big White Florals. Enter My Gardenia, and it’s instant attraction. It is a very natural-smelling gardenia, which is not surprising since it is made from a very rare material – real gardenia absolute! Yes, this is now available in small quantities for perfumers. In conventional perfumery, gardenia is a construction, a holographic facsimile of the flower made of many other materials, many of them synthetic and sometimes overwhelming. Ambrosia added fresh green elements to the opening to make it sing and increased its longevity with subtle base notes; there is no weird “blue cheese” effect either, since this is the real deal. Its longevity is fairly short, which is to be expected of an all-natural floral perfume, but it is just gorgeous while it lasts and it’s the gardenia scent I never thought I would find, as sweet as the living flower and as fresh and dewy as a just-opened bloom. Because it’s all-natural, it is not overpowering at all and can easily be worn in situations where other “gardenia” perfumes are too strong and heady. I was utterly charmed by My Gardenia and I hope it gains wider recognition for filling a need I never knew was there until I tried it.

The other floral from this line I tested was the aptly named Goddess, a beautiful rose and jasmine composition. As with Love Potion, this one takes time to warm up on skin and come into its own but the result is well worth the wait. This one whispers with quiet elegance and melds the florals in perfect balance. Real Damask rose absolute and the finest Arabian jasmine comprise the heart of Goddess. On my skin the jasmine dominates a little more but the rose is also prominent and the two are entwined in the classical manner of Joy, inseparable from and enhancing each other. Honey absolute and Tolu balsam add warmth and depth and give it a sleepy, indolent quality like a walled garden in the afternoon, abuzz with contented bees and where the rich scent of roses and other blossoms hangs in the still air. If you have been looking for a fragrance of this general style that’s not loud or too heady, this could well be the one. It is highly pleasing from start to finish and it also lasted longer on me than I expected from a natural floral fragrance.

The fragrances of Perfume by Nature are available on the Web site; some of the newer ones can only be ordered via Ambrosia Jones’ blog at this time. (Only the oil versions can be sold outside Australia due to shipping restrictions on alcohol perfumes; My Gardenia is currently only available in the alcohol version. Samples of the alcohol-based version of the fragrances are available, however.)

Disclosure: The perfume samples were sent to me gratis by the perfumer for testing.
Image credit: “Hazy Summer Garden” via

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Monday, September 26, 2011

Miriam Winners

Via Jill (commenter #22), Moon Rae (#29), Janet (#36), BlogBaebe1 (#47) and erycina (#64).  Please hit the "Contact Us" button and give your shipping info.


Badgley Mischka prize draw winner

via is.... Smedley

and last call for Sean to claim the Bud Parfums prize

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Beef

Beef.  They say it's what for dinner.  I rarely indulge, for various reasons.  For instance, I'm cheap, and I remember that urban legend (completely untrue) about John Wayne and the undigested meat in his colon.  So I'm more apt to go for chicken or fish (or more recently tofu) than I am to go for a steak.
Oddly enough, LA has become red-meat central these days.  There are the old standards like Lawry's and Ruth's Chris, and now Cut, Wolfgangs and Capitol Grill have come on the scene.  On the other end there's Umami Burger and The Counter, where I found myself the other day after a trip to the museum.

The Counter's schtick is that you select everything à la carte, from the size of the patty to the bread to the sauce to the toppings.  I'm not good with the concept of ordering by the pound. so I chose the 2/3lb one with no bun.  I ordered it rare, expecting that it would be medium since no place in these days after Mad Cow seems to take that order seriously.

The Counter takes it seriously.

I honestly think they made a mistake and gave me a full pound.  I was presented with a hubcap-sized chunk of ground chuck that had kissed the grill for about 45 seconds on each side before being served to me on its bed of Mesclun Mix.

I was in heaven, at first.  I was sort of treating it like steak tartare, which I love.  But after a while it started to be a chore.  I felt like it was almost a challenge (and a sin to waste expensive food) so I slogged on.  By the end of it I was feeling about the last morsel of expensive raw beef facing me with all the love Christina Crawford did in "Mommie Dearest".  But I finished it.  I felt that I could live on psyllium husk smoothies for the rest of the week, but I did it.

Would I go back?  Sure, in 2012.  I'd just make sure to order the smallest one and order medium rare.
The Counter is apparently a chain that's in quite a few states.  If you're near one, it's worth checking out.  What are your favorite places for a burger?

Russian Saturday: Le Parfum de Thérèse

What color is happiness? How does a summer evening taste? What does Le Parfum de Thérèse smell like? Le Parfum de Thérèse is love to the very bottom of the bottle. It is difficult to write about the one you love; it makes no sense to write about what leaves you indifferent.

Le Parfum de Thérèse is build upon three whales: aldehydes, fruits and leather. I can’t classify it. Thérèse should be given its own fragrance family, however, except for Femme Rochas (1944) and Diorama Dior (1948), I can’t remember other perfumes so harmoniously combining these three components. Aldehydes-leather, fruits-leather, aldehydes-fruits- there are plenty of those! But the perfume genius of Edmond Roudnitska remains unreachable.

Le Parfum de Thérèse is a bright, sunny, juicy aroma. I smell aldehydes throughout its development. This is practically the only thing that betrays the fact that the fragrance is man-made, otherwise it seems, it was created by nature itself. Aldehydes give it a shape, not letting the flowers and the fruits to float about. Nevertheless the scent remains very fluid. There are no rigid forms, snug cuts, tight knots, strained relations and awkward words. In the heart of the perfume, dazzling jasmine is balanced by the chilly wetness of violets; ripe melons and cherry-plums are oozing juice: this is summer afternoon, the sun is in the zenith. The leather in Le Parfum de Thérèse is the most evident on a cold, goose-bumpy skin. Jasmine closes up, fruits notes become more restrained and drier, the barely noticeable in the beginning spices are better defined and smells sharper. Is the leather worth such sacrifices is for you to decide. I am willing to be cold for it for 15 mins. With Thérèse, it’s not scary.

Le Parfum de Thérèse is a day-time fragrance. I never wear it after the sunset. Le Parfum de Thérèse lights up gloomy, dark days. It’s my sun in cold water. It’s a perfume of absolute happiness, when the parents were young and healthy, and the whole life still ahead.

Le Parfum de Thérèse Frederic Malle (Edmond Roudnitska, 2000): mandarin, melon, jasmine, pepper; violet, rose, plum, nutmeg; cedar, vetiver, leather.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tableau de Parfums Miriam... and a draw.

Miriam is a departure for Andy Tauer.  He's known for scents that while they can be quite lush are scrupulously modern.  Miriam is almost a throwback.


Miriam was created for the film "Woman's Picture", an anthology film by Brian Pera which was inspired by classic films of the forties and fifties.  It's a three-part story that follows three women at a critical point in their lives.  I was lucky enough to see the complete film at OUTFEST and was really impressed; all three stories are extremely compelling.  Brian is working with Andy on perfumes that will tie into each of the stories.  Miriam is the first.

Miriam (Ann Magnuson) hosts a program on a home-shopping network that borders on therapy for her callers.  She sells bath salts and jewelry while dispensing relationship advice to the mothers and daughters who call in.  She honestly feels a bond with these women and knows that she's a comfort to them.  Her own mother, with whom she had a difficult relationship is in an expensive nursing home, ravaged with Alzheimers.  Her partner is unemployed and seemingly not interested in getting his butt off the sofa and getting a job and the powers-that-be at the office are wanting to change her show to sell more product.  Practically her only comfort is a bottle of her mothers (un-named) perfume that she will turn to and occasionally smell, aware that the amount in the bottle is as finite as her mothers time left on Earth.

I'm not going to tell you any more, since you really should try to see the movie (which is screening at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood on October 11th).  But this review is really about the perfume.

At one point in the segment, Miriam is selling a scent as being "old-time Hollywood Glamour" and Miriam the scent certainly is that.  It's actually a very daring scent.  It's not pulling back from the glam femininity thing, while still being a scent that's recognizably Tauer.  It opens with powdery Aldehydes and roses and a touch of ambergris (the notes from the evelyn avenue website: bergamot, sweet orange, geranium, violet blossom, rose, jasmine, ylang, violet leaf, lavender, vanilla, orris root, sandalwood.).  The scent becomes richer as it develops and lays close to the skin and is really lovely in a retro-modern sort of way.  It's a red-lipstick kind of scent that you sadly don't see much of anymore and I wish there were more of.

5 lucky readers will be able to experience Miriam thanks to the generosity of Andy and Brian.  I have samples of the perfume packaged with a DVD of the segment "Miriam" from "Woman's Picture".  If you would like to be considered in the draw (and live in the US- sorry, I can't ship elsewhere) please leave a comment.  The draw will be closed Midnight Pacific Time on Sunday the 25th.

The following blogs will also be writing about Miriam in the coming weeks:
Sept 28th: The Non-Blonde
Oct 2nd: Perfume Posse

The filmmakers are also interviewing women about their memories of scent at their site and on Vimeo.  The shared stories are fascinating; here's one of the latest

You can also get more information at their website for the film.  I have no information on pricing, my samples were provided by the perfumer and the filmmaker.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Live from Ashville and a delicious giveaway y'all!

By Beth

So my dear readers, this weeks Foodie Sunday is coming live from Asheville North Carolina! Let me tell you…I have eaten so much in the last 5 days and I can’t imagine how I am going to fit another bit into my mouth. But this is a city that’s lives for it’s food and I can’t help it, last night I enjoyed an enormous dinner at a most wonderful restaurant called The Market (freshly foraged local mushrooms anyone!) and I’m already thinking about breakfast. Crazy perhaps, but when you’re in a city where the state foods are fried cheese grits and the most delicious cheddar scallion biscuits that you’ve ever eaten it’s almost impossible to not eat yourself to death. Believe me…I’ve given it the good old fashioned college try because the food here is astonishing!

We arrived on Monday afternoon and are staying until Sunday and are thoroughly enjoying a delightful fall lagniappe in the beautiful condo in Asheville where my brother and sister in law have been staying for several months. They came to beat the hideous heat of the Scottsdale summer and arecompletely sad about leaving. I can see why because Ashville has really grown into itself since the last time I was here. This town is not just the Biltmore anymore, although that grand old bit of Victoriana is still pretty fabulous! There are new restaurants galore and incredible galleries everywhere filledwith folk art and beautiful textiles. I’ve been into at least 5 Indie bookstores including a gorgeous one in the old Grove Park Arcade thatserves food and wine as well as a damn good cup of coffee and there are at least 4 great new chocolate boutiques and candy stores. Last night at a delightful little place called Wexlins, I had the best pecan praline that I’ve ever tasted outside of New Orleans and a bit of fudge that rivaled any chocolate that I’d ever eaten. The smell inside the place was astonishing…warm chocolate, butter and gently burned brown sugar. What else can I say? I would have stayed there all night forsaking home and hearth entirely for just another one of those pralines. They were that good. We’ve really had quite the time of it, starting off each morning with fabulous cheddar biscuits and cappuccino, grazing all afternoon and then finishing the day with a total orgy of Southern fried hospitality!

Somewhere inbetween Monday and Friday I got a hankering for some good old fashioned Southern barbecue. I asked my brother if we could find a place to enjoy a bit of that and passionate foodies that he and my SIL are of course they knew exactly where to go. Down through the River Arts area we drove until we came upon a fairly nondescript looking place, at least until you got inside. 12 Bones barbecue IS the best of it’s kind…with all kinds of offerings from pulled pork , brisket and chicken and literally the most delicious brown sugared/peppered bacon that I’ve ever eaten. Corn pudding, more grits and a healthy helping of collards rounded out that meal and my brown sugar rubbedribs were amazing as well as the bluberry chipotle glazed offerings. What asmell…. I didn’t know that brown sugar , apples ,wood smoke and freshly cured tobacco could do that. It was sublime and delightfully sticky!

So this is my last day here in this delightful place and I’m really going to miss it. Thank goodness for my normal veggie diet…. I’m going to need it! I wouldn’t have traded this experience for anything. Food, Family and Friends, that’s always been my mantra! There are great vegetarian restaurants here in Asheville although to be honest I haven’t tried a one of them. The South’s got its specialties and you know what they say, “When in Rome”! To not eat them would be a bit like passing up clam chowder and fresh lobster in Boston, raw milk brie in France or blackberry pie and chocolate ice cream in Seattle. North Carolina smoked trout on a bagel with creamy local goat cheese and herbs? It would take a stronger woman than me to pass that up. I think that we both know that’s never going to happen so on that note I’m off to another bakery that I saw last night that supposedly has the best pimento cheese to be found anywhere and you know that in these parts them's probably fighting words!

So tell me, what are some of your favorite Southern fried food memories? Throw one into your comments and if you’re chosen you’ll be receiving a very delicious gift! Y'all know that the South loves its condiments and I’m bringing back a few local specialties for you!

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

L’Artisan Parfumeur Ile Bourbon Candle

When I look at the name of Île Bourbon, I expect – and so would many, I guess – a vanilla candle. Do we have many vanilla candles already? If you are anything like me, the answer is yes.

But Île Bourbon is more than a vanilla scent. Evoking a tropical paradise, after one of which it is named after all, Île Bourbon smells gloriously fresh, floral, spicy and softly sweet with a little darkness added. It is exotic and warm, it smells exactly like the soft, golden light of a candleflame looks.

Sit down with a good book, light that candle and start dreaming. It works like a charm.

Île Bourbon includes notes of vanilla, orange, citrus and nutmeg and is available at L’Artisan Parfumeur.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Wnner of the Bud Parfums "Ugly bastard"

is Sean. Please email us your details using the link on the right.

How Green Was My Galbanum: a Trip to Saks

Mini-Reviews by Marla

I live in the beautiful, beachy boondocks of Florida these days, so I don’t have much access to new niche perfumes. Some days, I look at the blogs, and realize I will never have an opportunity to try even one perfume reviewed that day. But I’m OK with that, for now. My Nerd Girl studies continue.

I did, however, vacation in South Florida recently, and they have shopping malls! They have a Saks! Oh yes, I had to go, in search of the Cartier Heures . They were out, except for Mysterieuse, which I was sorely tempted to buy, sigh. But the SAs at Saks are really a treasure, and I ended up having a terrific couple of hours with them, quizzing and being quizzed about many of the new(er) perfumes.

OK, Ellie Saab was all over the place, and it was decidedly MEH to me. No offense to those who love it; I’m jaded and 90% of new releases evoke either YUCK or MEH. What thoroughly charmed me were the Martin Margiela perfumes, the Untitled, and the new, Eau d’Untitled . Untitled has an unabashed galbanum top note, straight from Persia, wow! It really reminded me of vintage Cristalle. The SAs stated sadly that most people who smelled it made the “Galbanum Face”, in other words, they wrinkled their nose at all that shocking green goodness and murmured, “Oh no….” I brought my mother over to try Untitled, and, right on cue, she made the Galbanum Face! But she loved the fruitier, sweeter, lighter L’Eau, and I liked it, too. Reminiscent of an old favorite of mine, Calyx by Prescriptives. I also enjoyed Cartier’s Lune, but not enough to take it home. And Hanae Mori’s No. 4 was quite nice.

These days, I really treasure a perfume that amuses me, that keeps me guessing at what it will waft up next. The last perfume that did this, that truly entertained me, was Gaultier's Ma Dame. The rich panoply of Gen X childhood references made me grin, and ditto for my American friends who picked up on the wacky olfactory references. At Saks, the delightful SA, Beth, knew exactly what I was talking about, and shared some Bond No 9 Coney Island with me. Now I would never have picked this out of the Bond lineup for myself. I'm a Silver Factory girl. But Coney Island is one of those genius perfumes that, like Willy Wonka's special chewing gum that presents you with an entire meal, brings course after course of olfactory fun. First comes the big fruity margarita, oh my! Then the mixed- fruit-on-a-stick. Then the caramel corn and candy floss. And just when you think the fun is over, churros! I really liked that cinnamon kick at the end. It's not any sweeter than it has to be; I did not go into a diabetic coma. I mean I magnify sweet notes, and I can wear this. This is a perfume I never thought I'd like, but I'll certainly wear it to a beach party, or maybe, just on a day when I need to feel funny and carefree.

What have been some of your recent shopping mall discoveries?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Spice Chest: Penhalogons Elixir

I love Penhaligons, if only because they're so proper and English.  Sort of like reading an old English recipe for fish, where they will call for a "few grains" of cayenne to spice up the dish.  I never can quite tell whether that's real: do they really mean 3 or 5 grains?  Whoa, bug fella!  Don't go crazy now!

Elixir is like that.  Reading the list of ingredients you just know that if some of my other favorite perfumers were using them they would be jamming your face into them.  Cardamom and cinnamon and cumin (not listed, but I think I smell it) is in this one, but it's just a few grains and gives the sweet whisper of roses, jasmine and orange flower a bit of spice.  Those flowers dry down to an extremely handsome vanilla/tonka base that's a delight.

Olivia Giacobetti is the nose who created this 2008 scent, which I can state is completely unisex.  I'd wear it in a heartbeat.  If you've shied away from some other scents (like from our beloved Uncle Serge) whose spices have hit you like a sock full of quarters you might want to sample this.  I think it's brilliant.

$110 for 100ML at Luckyscent, where I sampled.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

James and Mark and the Giant Peach: Badgley Mischka Perfume (And a Prize Draw!)

By Donna

“Designer” fragrances are ubiquitous these days, but how many of them really make a definitive statement about the aesthetic of the house they represent? So many of them seem like afterthoughts – oh wait, I guess we need a fragrance, let’s get somebody to throw a fruity-floral together, maybe with a little white musk and some pink pepper and slap our label on it – that I have become quite skeptical of the fragrance releases from even the higher-end fashion labels. Of course there are many good ones too, and one of them is the wonderful Badgley Mischka by the Firmenich perfumer Richard Herpin (Usher She, Bond No. 9 Coney Island, Judith Leiber Night), released in 2006 as the debut fragrance from the successful design team of Mark Badgley and James Mischka, creators of many a red carpet sensation (and my own favorite Oscar gown of all time) and it’s exactly right for what they do so well. To be honest, I would probably not have even known enough to try it had it not been for the rave review by Tania Sanchez in the book Perfumes: The Guide in which five stars are awarded, since it is not readily available in stores in my area, although it is at virtually all the online discounters, having been supplanted by the 2009 follow up Badgley Mischka Couture. My gold standard for fruity chypres is Jean Patou’s masterpiece Colony, so as you may imagine, I have not found many other candidates to replace that discontinued gem. If you love a good fruity scent, the Badgley Mischka should be on your shortlist to try.

I think this may be the most intensely fruity perfume I have ever smelled; when it first hit my nose I could hardly believe how beautiful it was, an alpenglow cloud of the most luscious abstract fantasy fruits, ripe and glistening at their absolute peak just before they become overripe, yet also with a distinctive puckery tang, the kind of sensation that comes with the first bite of fruits like peaches, mangoes and pineapples. If you have ever been in a peach orchard on a hot day with the fallen ones beginning to ferment, coupled with the heady fragrance and velvety skins of the blushing beauties still on the tree waiting to be plucked, you will have some idea of the effect, but it is not really the scent of any one fruit; it is the Platonic ideal of fruit, a hologram of every pleasing facet of fruity aromas imaginable and to me it’s one of those universally appealing things – after all, do you know anyone who hates fruit? Yet its genius quality is that it’s not at all sugary or too sweet and I would even hesitate to call it a gourmand. Eventually it is revealed as a chypre, but not for a good long time. One expects such a symphonic top note to be fleeting; how could something so magically juicy last very long? Yet last it does, impressively in the Eau de Parfum and impossibly so in the Parfum. (If this were a real chypre with labdanum and oakmoss instead of a “modern” chypre, it would be pretty close to perfect.)

My first experience of this fragrance was with a bottle of EDP I found online for a ridiculously low price. I fell in love with it right away, but as Ms. Sanchez rightly noted, the drydown is a little bit sketchy. So I went in search of the Parfum, and when it arrived I found that it fulfilled the promise of the EDP very well; it’s richer and denser and the “top” notes last so long that they become the heart. Only after several hours does the refined chypre base come into its own. I have no idea how this fruity longevity was achieved but it’s a tour de force by the perfumer and I would give the Parfum five stars myself, and four for the EDP. The listed notes are Peach, Cassis, Sueded Musks, Peony, Jasmine, Amber, Red Berries, Sandalwood, Caramel, Osmanthus and Patchouli. I can’t really smell much patchouli until well into the drydown, and I was surprised to see caramel in there, since it is not “foody” to me, so don’t let the notes scare you off.

I am offering a ¼ ounce (7.5 ml) mini of Badgley Mischka pure Parfum, sealed in the box, to a U.S. reader only. Please indicate in the comments if you would like to be entered, and tell us what your own favorite fruity perfumes are – I am always looking for more suggestions!

Disclosure: The prize draw bottle is from my own collection.

Image credit: The official Badgley Mischka 2006 Collector’s Edition Barbie© Doll (yes really!) via, original source unknown.


Saturday, September 10, 2011


Beth's draw - Rustic Dove

Marla's draw - Janet

Please email us your details using the link on the right.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Cherche l'homme: Azzaro Decibel and Jean-Paul Gaultier Kokorico

By Marina

Interestingly, among the recently smelled new releases, the standouts for me turned out to be two masculine scents.

The most thrilling fragrance came from an unlikely source, Azzaro. Their incensey Decibel with its "burning prunes" quality took me off guard. There is something simultaneously severe and sensual in the main, incense, accord, with licorice adding a slight fruity effect and vanilla softening the jagged angles of the central accord. Rather then darkening and intesifying, it thins and freshenes as it dries down, and at no point during the development would I call it uber masculine. Definitely unisex. Gorgeous on a woman who likes this kind of smoldering, husky sweetness.

Jean-Paul Gaultier put his new scent into a bottle that is both his profile and the outline of his back and butt. It's a nice butt, and the composition of Kokorico is unexpectedly good too. The patchouli is chocolatty, a transparent mimosa note in the top lifts the blend, iris in the middle fluffies it up, licorice enhances the edible aspect...It's all quite intricate and fun. By the end, patchouly shakes off the gourmandness and becomes green and earthy, and it's not a bad turn, in my book. 

Licorice-lovers, also look for Diesel's Loverdose, which I found myself enjoying a whole surprising lot. 

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Thursday, September 08, 2011

Sometimes You Get Lucky: Miller et Bertaux Spiritus/Land

By Tom

Miller et Bertaux is a Paris-based house that I'd never tried before since I don't know who carries it in my area. Cruising around Santa Monica recently, I went into Palmetto, one of my favorite shops. (LA Sniffa attendees will remember going to the sadly closed West Hollywood store). Palmetto has been at the corner of Montana and 11th for as long as I can remember, and have everything that you could want or need as far as bath, face and body products. They also carry a selection of scents, which is of course what I was interested in.

On the sale rack was Spiritus/Land, a tester I think that was 5/8 full and marked at $20. If it had even been decent smelling I might have bought it. But it wasn't decent.

It was fantastic.

It's an incense scent, but an odd one. It opens with a burst of pepper, pink and black and ginger. Then there's the juxtaposition of a very clean accord with incense that also still carries the pepper that's fascinating: the yin and yang of clean, green sunny soapiness and dark, dusty shadow incense is something that made me go "squee!" The fact that the drydown goes more towards the darkside cements the idea that I scored, big-time.

Miller et Bertaux has the most atrocious, useless website I've ever seen. Fragrantica sells this at $150 for 100ML. Apparently "certain" Barneys carry the line, but not the one in my 'hood. I'm glad that I got my bottle cheap, and glad that Miller et Bertaux is apparently so flush that they don't actually need to have any business. Palmetto, while a place you need to visit when you're in LA apparently doesn't carry it anymore.

Which means this post is torture. Sorry. If you know places that carry them, please chime in in the comments.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Rue Royale by Hove Parfumeur: Review and Draw

by Marla

Hove’ Parfumeur was founded in 1931 in the French Quarter by Mrs. Alvin Hovey-King, a military spouse who’d traveled widely and loved European perfumery. Yet the house emphasizes local aromatic treats like Tea Olive (osmanthus), Vetivert (widely used in the Southern US in linen chests), and Wild Azalea from the Gulf of Mexico. The line remains remarkably coherent, very little reformulation has occurred over the decades, and the shop, newly relocated to 434 Chartres Street, looks marvelously Old French Quarter.

I’ve been visiting Hove’ Parfumeur since I was a wee small tot, and my favorite has always been their quiet yet elegant chypre “Rue Royale”. They describe it thusly: “A hint of musk pervades this basically dry and light fragrance, selected most often by fair brunettes who wish a quiet elegance.” My mother told me I was too young to wear such a sultry brew back when I was 7 (she’d buy me Tea Olive or White Ginger), but now that I’m all growed up, it’s a mainstay.

No matter how I’ve cajoled, they’ve refused to reveal even a single note of their popular perfume! How annoying. But as far as I can parse it, it’s a classic chypre, with real, lovely oakmoss, vetiver, soft jasmine and rose, and hints of spice and suede. It’s like polished mahogany, elegant and smooth. I like both the solid form, which I take traveling, and the perfume version, which is very rich indeed! I haven’t tried the Cologne version, because a rich chypre always seems more beckoning to me in a stronger formulation.

They also make wonderful Tea Olive and Vetivert colognes, both very simple and elegant.

434 Chartres Street, New Orleans $21 through $152, also in a solid compact for $22

I’d love to send an interested reader a sample of the solid Rue Royale. Just leave a comment about a city you know of that has its own “Slow Perfumery” that emphasizes local material, or, if you don’t know of one, tell me which city should have such a perfumery. The winner will be chosen randomly.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2011

…And Where The Men Are “Ugly Bastards:” Bud Parfums of Australia, Part Two (and a Prize Draw!)

By Donna

In my last post I reviewed several feminine fragrances from Bud Parfums of Australia, and now I am turning my attention to the offerings for men. I seem to have some that are on the sweeter side of the range, but I guess I was attracted to their descriptions without thinking too much of variety. No matter, because I like all of them, and if these are any indication of what the others are like as far as quality is concerned, I need not worry. Perfumer Howard Jarvis certainly seems to know what the gents like to wear.

Chocolate Soldier is deceptively sweet to start, with a big in-your–face chocolate note combined with a highly pitched citrus that could be either petitgrain or neroli and seems a bit too much with the chocolate, but once that quiets down, which is very quickly, the orange loses its sharpness and a harmonious rum accord joins in. At this point, I thought it was still going to be sweet and somewhat boneless, but some pleasingly warm spices soon intervened, and there is a base of mellow wood (perhaps teak?), that holds it all together and keeps the chocolate in check. Chocolate in perfume can be problematic to the point of being a deal breaker for me (i.e. (Montale Chocolate Greedy, one of my very few Montale scrubbers so far), but Chocolate Soldier is a creamy, nutty dark essence, not a dry dusty cocoa, and it is an ideal match for the woody base. By the time it has all settled down it’s a smooth talker of a perfume, seamless and quite sophisticated, and the longevity is excellent. I have liked it more with each wearing and as much as I would like to find out what it’s like on a man’s skin, it surely does work very well on mine. Add another one to the relatively short list of fragrances that incorporate chocolate with great success.

In contrast, Assassin is somewhat more in keeping with the usual idea of a “masculine” fragrance but it is by no means business as usual. It is rich and ornate and it definitely has a dark side. It’s as elegant as James Bond, with a secret up its sleeve; the unusual and well, addictive base notes involve oud and a touch of hashish, and gives it an edge that makes it just unfamiliar enough to keep you guessing. It is not like one of the trendy new ouds since that is not the dominant characteristic; I actually get more of the hashish aroma here, just enough to be distinctive, and the oud wood is simply another component of the whole. This is a good thing, because it is more wearable than some of those more aggressive oud perfumes which, while often beautiful, require a lot of restraint and are not suitable for all occasions. A subtle and persistent fruitiness that I decided must be pomegranate adds even more interest and I finally realized, after several trial runs, what it reminded me of. I once bought a perfume called Persephone from Black Phoenix Alchemy Labs, and Assassin smells not unlike a more evolved rendition of that, but with a masculine sensibility This is a man’s equivalent of a feminine evening perfume, a little too much for daytime but just perfect for stepping out on the town – and if you run into a little international intrigue on the way, at least you will be dressed for it.

I still wish I had asked for a sample of the leathery Whoa de Cologne, but there is an even more colorfully named fragrance in the lineup, and that is Ugly Bastard. The tongue-in-cheek idea behind this one is that it smells so good everyone will think you are handsome even if you’re not – and smell good it does! If I had to give it a classification I guess it would be a fougère since it has a freshness that persists all the way through its development, but it is a richer mix than is usually found in this style, and it has none of that piercing synthetic sharpness that passes for “fresh notes” all too often found in today’s modern fougères. There is some chocolate and rum in here too but with contrasting elements of delicate florals, herbs, spices and a particularly nice teak wood base that lift it into a whole different realm than Chocolate Soldier. It’s brisk without being medicinal, refreshing without being astringent and just sweet enough to be charming. I found the far drydown to be especially delicious. Gentlemen, regardless of your appearance this well-constructed fragrance will be find favor with whoever you wish to impress, and even if you are already good-looking you will seem even more attractive while sporting a splash or two of Ugly Bastard.

Now for the good part: Bud Parfums is generously donating a 10 ml bottle of Ugly Bastard to one lucky reader! Just indicate in the comments if you would like to be entered. The winner’s name will be drawn the week after this review is posted. (Sorry, U.S. mailing addresses only.) And do tell – have you tried any of the Bud Parfums fragrances before, and which ones do you like?

Disclosure: The perfume samples were sent to me for testing by Bud Parfums at my request. Samples are available for purchase on the Bud Parfums Web site.

Image credit: Photo of Australian actor David Wenham via the, original source unknown.

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Sunday, September 04, 2011

Foodie Sunday- My obsessive love for The Great Geauga County Fair & it's fabulous food & a wonderful giveaway

By Beth

Many of you have heard me speak of the meal that I would wish to eat if I knew that it would be the last that I’d ever have. Would it be gourmand or simple, fat ,sugar and grease? To me my last meal IS all of the above but hopefully I’ll go to meet my maker many years from now on Labor day weekend because the only time that I can have this wish come true in it’s purest form is when the great Geauga County Fair, the oldest fair in the grand ole state of Ohio is running at full throttle! This year, my beloved fair is 188 years old and it’s still going strong!

If you’ve read my Windsphere Witch blog, you know that I used to own a small horse farm in the country, a place that I named Windesphere because it was up on a hill with a sparkling artesian spring that ran through it. It was situated in the old civil war hamlet of Burton Ohio, a wonderful little town where they still make their own maple syrup, apple and pumpkin butter and once a year this sleepy little town comes alive with ferris wheels , heavy horse pulls and the finest fairway of food that I’ve ever seen!

I’ve been to fairs everywhere, but none have ever supplanted The Great Geauga Fair in my heart. For 5 yummy days there are farm animals everywhere, pumpkins the size of chairs and the 4H kids running all over the place with their fancy chickens , goats and cows take you back to a place and time in the world where things were just a bit simpler. There’s an apple pie contest which is brutally competitive and of course the draft horse hitch classes which I simply adore. When we made the hard decision to leave Burton almost a decade ago I made my darling husband promise me that he would bring me back to the fair every year as many times as I wanted. Incredible man that Jim is, he’s lived up to that promise, going with me almost everyday even when he doesn't want to!

I'm like a kid there and I love to spend hours there with my camera and my stomach, working up an appetite as I walk around enjoying all of the sights, smells and sounds. Farmer in my heart that I am still, I adore checking out the hay, talking to the old farmers about this years conditions and running my fingers through the fresh oats and feed corn. I love to see the flower arrangements made with dahlias the size of pie plates and the table settings, handsewn quilts and the antiques. I even entered the flower arranging contest one year and won first prize. It was such a thrill!

Eventually I’ll make my way to the fairways….first stop? Roasted sweet corn dripping with salt and butter! Next? Well if you’ve never had deep fried swiss cheese on a stick with a good dollop of mustard than you don’t know what you’re missing. Dipped in real cornbread batter and handed over meltingly sweet and piping hot this is food for the goddess. Hand cut and deep fired sweet potatoes dipped in a bit of salt and fresh maple syrup? Ambrosia all washed down with a giant mug of brich beer. A late night snack of the finest beef jerky ever? Absolutely! My husband adores the fresh milk chocolate shakes from the 4H stand and the pierogies drenched in onions and the garlic bratwursts but I never stray from my true hearts desire. This is seasonal food at it’s best and it wouldn’t taste nearly as good to me at any other time of the year. The entire atmosphere is a natural perfumers delight full of scents fruity and floral, pungent and animalitic and my long time favorites…newly mown hay , heavy horses and sweet windfall apples. The entire place becomes a five day feast for the senses that makes it easy to contemplate climbing back into Autumns heavy sweaters and Wellington boots!

I’ve been to the fair twice so far this year and right now I’m about to get up and go yet again! Every year I’m tempted by something new (deep fried snickers bars anyone?) but I always remain true to my meltingly oozy , dripping and savory swiss cheese on a stick. So I’m curious? Are any of you obsessive fair goers like me? And what do you like to eat when you’re there?

So I’m off to the fair again and I’m about to bring back something special for one of you. I’m not yet sure what it is, so you’ll have to trust me! Your comment ensures you a place in the draw. I’ll choose the winner on Tuesday morning so please check back next week !

You can see some pictures of my beloved fair at

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Powder Puff: Chanel No 19 Poudre

By Tom

Apparently Chanel decided that the best way to mark the 128th anniversary of the birth of Coco Chanel was to come out with a flanker of Chanel No 19, which arrived in 1971, the year of her death. Interesting, but I think what they did to the original would have Madame Chanel clutching her faux pearls.

Poudre takes out the main green and leather from No 19 and substitutes powder and an inoffensive skin musk. Comparing the two side-by-side, No 19 is green and rather cold in a way that is very French. Poudre loses all that and is face powder and skin musk. In fact, Poudre sort of comes across as No 19's rather dowdy older cousin from up country who's visiting Paris for the first time. She's met No 19 for lunch in a print dress which she realizes is wholly wrong here and is feeling very out of place, unstylish and elderly. Her cousin No 19 is polite and kindly asks her about her trip and her life on the farm while inwardly thinking that it was a good decision to meet at this place near her cousins hotel, in an arrondissement where she's guaranteed not to meet anyone she could possibly know.

Guess which one I want to wear.

$85 for 1.7 oz, exclusively at Saks and Chanel Boutiques. I tried from both.

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Friday, September 02, 2011

For the Love of Orris: Bottega Veneta, Tom Ford Violet Blonde, Chanel No 19 Poudre

By Marina

Smelling new releases shows that orris trend is here to stay. Bottega Veneta, Tom Ford and Chanel all feature it prominently in their recent launches. Certainly, in the three fragrances in question, the accord is rendered differently. I describe it to myself simply in terms of thinner-thicker, colder-warmer.

The thickest and the warmest orris is n Bottega Veneta's new EDP. From the ads to the composition, everything is done supremely elegantly. The perfume is both opulent and a "skin-scent", with orris enhancing the expensive, velvety-suede-y aspect of the blend. Expensive, yet subtle. Old money. 

Predictably, Tom Ford's Violet Blonde is rather more nouveau riche, but I like it a lot all the same. From Laura's lips in the ads to something vaguely fruity, there is a dose of vulgarity here that some will find thrilling, some will dislike. Orris is as prominent and thick as in BV, but is a touch cooler, the color of cold neon purple. Jasmine provides a nicely animalic nuance, and the fruitiness, probably from the same jasmine plus mandarine, is, to me, an interesting part of the composition. Those who were turned off by the fruity accord in Black Orchid, might sense and dislike it here too. 

Chanel No 19 Poudre is the coldest and most transparent orris of the three. Tom did not love it. I can't say I do, but I like it. The creators toned down the greenness of galbanum and the animalic quality in the original and brought up a notch the powdery side of iris. To me, there is not enough powder here to justify the 'poudre' in the name. No 19 Transparente would be a more fitting description. Very wearable, impeccable in any situation. Could be much worse, eh?

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