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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pretty, Pretty: Bud Parfums Ugly Bastard

By Tom

Donna covered several of these and was kind enough to send me a bit of "Ugly Bastard"  The idea of it, well I'll just quote from the website:

"He has all the signs of a weather beaten life. Musty wood shavings with a dash of fir around the wrinkles of a hard worker. Dark chocolate, rum and spice which makes him actually quite nice. Laughter amongst the sweat and curses. Not such a romantic but dependable, reliable and eventually he gets the job done.

You know you like him, (even though he is an ugly bastard).

I certainly can't call this ugly.  In fact it sort of reminds me a bit of Borneo 1834, a scent that I very much like.  This is a sunnier take on that.  Which I find rather beguiling.  Two scents featuring chocolate that I like?  Who saw that coming?

They do ship to America as far as I can tell by their website but I think with shipping it would be about the same as Borneo, which is available at the usual suspects in America right now.  I'd be interested in trying some of the others, as well as some of the other perfumers I've heard of from Down Under, such as Fleurage.

Photo Credit: Bud Parfums

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Charity Monday! Beauty Bloggers 2011 Holiday Auction for a Cause

The annual charity auction is starting today. For the second year in a row, beauty bloggers and brands have joined forces for an online auction benefitting Doctors Without Borders.

Over seventy brands and bloggers donated a multitude of Beauty and Fragrance items, which range from the hottest new releases to hard-to-find exclusives and limited edition cult favorites.

Perfume-Smellin' Things' donation this year is Septimanie Perfumes Pavillon des Fleurs, an exquisite bouquet of jasmin, ylang, orange blossom and a hint of leather and spice.

When the auction ends, winning bidders make their donations directly to Doctors Without Borders, through the site’s secure giving page.

The 2011 auction begins at 8 am CST on Monday, November 28, and ends at 5 pm CST on Monday, December 12.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Snuggling In: Winter Favorites Old & New

By Donna

Blue Winter

Winter uses all the blues there are.
One shade of blue for water, one for ice,
Another blue for shadows over snow.
The clear or cloudy sky uses blue twice-
Both different blues. And hills row after row
Are colored blue according to how far.
You know the bluejay's double-blur device
Shows best when there are no green leaves to show.

And Sirius is a winterbluegreen star.
- Robert Francis

I must confess that I have never been a “winter person.” You can imagine how this was a problem for me since I was born and raised in northern New England, where Old Man Winter arrives early and stays late like an unwelcome house guest and we once had a blizzard on Memorial Day. I can’t abide being cold for very long and as I get older I become even more sensitive to it, and as the evening light turns that inevitable shade of chilly winter blue I dread the coming darkness. However, as a perfume lover, the cool days of fall signal the beginning of the season when the most ornate and luxurious of perfumes can be taken out of their summer slumbering place, and by the time it gets really cold I can reach for the most comforting scents I own, which really does help soften the blow of winter’s advent. If I can’t abide the weather, I can still revel in the richness of winter fragrances.

For a long time I thought I did not like ambery perfumes, which is kind of funny since I wore Jean Patou Sublime by the quart when it was first launched twenty years ago – I guess it must have been selective amnesia. I have found so many of them to love now that I seek out new ones to try, and several amber scents have become firm favorites. One of my all-time best loved fragrances and unlikely to be dethroned from my permanent top ten is Andy Tauer’s wonderful L’ Air du Desert Marocain. Since it is a “dry” amber, it works great in summer too, but it’s simply perfect on a snapping cold winter day. Ambre Narguile by Hermès is another that I fell for instantly; its combination of warm, radiant amber, mouthwatering honey, hypnotic hookah tobacco and dried fruits makes me want to lick my own arm whenever I wear it. For evening, it’s hard to beat Rochas Absolu, now sadly discontinued but still fairly easy to find online, but if you can find a bottle it should last approximately forever; a blend of narcotically rich orange blossom and other florals on a base of sweet, seductive amber notes means that only a few drops are needed to create the desired effect. (I still adore Sublime, but it is no longer what it once was, so I am keeping an eye out for a “vintage” bottle.) Recently I have sampled some really good ambers and they are going on my list: Tom Ford Amber Absolute, Laura Mercier Amber Passion Velvet, Montale Blue Amber and Teo Cabanel Alahine. The gold standard for most amber lovers seems to be Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan and I cannot disagree; it’s not as sweet as many ambers and therefore is a great choice for men, but I love it too. It’s dry, complex herbal aspect makes it intriguing for as long as it’s on the skin, which is as long as you want it to be; it has truly extraordinary longevity.

Winter also means that it’s time to get out the big guns – the bombshell perfumes that are too room-filling for summer. The towering Bal à Versailles by Jean Desprez from 1962 is a perfect example; this deep, heavy Oriental composition as luxuriant as the velvet curtain on an opera stage is so generously dosed with civet and musk that it’s downright indecent, in good way of course, that it’s almost impossible to pull off in summer unless you live in the Arctic Circle. Ah, but in winter it sings like a famous contralto and I reach for it frequently; it is deservedly a legend and the formula sold today is still fabulous. A more recent (1994) introduction is Tocade by Rochas, which is the ultimate expression of the affinity between rose and vanilla. This delightful fragrance is the ultimate in mood-lifting cheerfulness as well a being a great comfort scent. It is powerful enough for most people in the Eau de Toilette strength currently available, but since I wrote my review of it a couple of years ago I have obtained some of the sadly discontinued extrait de parfum, which is stunningly good. In this concentration the vanillic character is more dominant and it has a darker feel. Just a drop of this elixir lasts for many hours of sensual pleasure. Rochas would get more of my business if they brought back the parfum, not to mention the rest of their wonderful classics, but that’s another story.

Roses usually make one think of summer, and hundreds of rose perfumes celebrate their fresh floral beauty, but some of them are not the fresh blossoms of June and are therefore ideal winter companions. Chief among them is my beloved Parfum Sacré by Caron. This classic scent opens with black pepper and has a heart of the most divine dark, “boozy” rose and a base of frankincense and myrrh wrapped in the most delicious non-foody vanilla imaginable. But be warned: this beauty has been reformulated in recent years and is now a dry, woody composition with much less vanilla and less sheer beauty. I only wear the original myself, and although the new Intense concentration is better than the regular, it has a sharp woody-amber note in it that was not there before.

Other “dark rose” perfumes include the amazing Rose de Nuit by Serge Lutens, a masterful rose chypre that is sadly only available in the Exclusive range at present, so you have to go to Paris to get it. This is one of my favorite styles of perfume and it’s one of the very best of its kind, rivaled only in recent years by Une Rose from Editions de Parfum Fredèric Malle. This is a bold, earthy scent that includes the smell of the dirt-covered roots and the leaves along with the wine-like rose; it is most definitely a blood-red flower with plenty of thorns, and I adore it. Smelling it and Rose de Nuit side by side I can tell they have many similarities, but each has its own unique character too and I find it impossible to choose a favorite between them. (At least the Malle one is available in the U.S.) An excellent alternative is my favorite so far in the Parfums de Rosine line, Une Folie de Rose. This can be worn in any season, but its intense chypre character works very well in the cold weather. I have a decant of the Eau de Parfum and now I also have a jar of the incredibly good body cream, which is perfect for chilly evenings and bedtime. I almost like it better than the perfume it is so redolent and lush. Also close in the running is Rosine’s Rose Kashmirie, a sweet and saffron-rich Oriental rose fragrance that is perfectly named, since wearing it is like being swathed in the finest, softest cashmere shawl. It has become a fast favorite in my collection and the level in my decant is shrinking steadily.

I am very fond of tobacco scents and the best I have come across so far is Fumerie Turque by Serge Lutens. Its undercurrent of danger makes it truly addictive, and its evolution results in a most interesting surprise in the far drydown; if left on long enough it eventually morphs into the delicious aroma of warm horse skin, one of my favorite smells. Chergui, also from Lutens, is a lighter, sweeter tobacco scent with the ambrosial aura of hay absolute and I love it as well. Both of these are excellent as bedtime companions, because when you wake up you smell just as good as when you went to sleep.

One of my favorite independent perfumers has produced two of my current winter favorites. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes makes my favorite gourmand of all time, the delectable Mahjoun. It is so much more complex (and wearable) than the usual “loukhoum” compositions inspired by Middle Eastern sweets. Mahjoun pays tribute to a type of Moroccan dessert but it’s much more than that with its treasure trove of spice notes and an incandescent sandalwood and incense drydown. This is the aroma of the bazaar of dreams, where everything you could ever want is available for the asking. Cardamom, almond, cherry blossom, rose, fig, hazelnut, honey, sugar dates, amber, frankincense, cinnamon bark, clove bud, Arabian myrrh and more combine in the most intoxicating way. I have it in the oil formula and I just can’t imagine anything smelling better. Also wonderful is the oil perfume of her very popular Cimabue, a saffron-infused Oriental scent that is not particularly sweet but very rich and dense. When I first tried it in the Eau de Parfum version it smelled like a high end room spray on my skin, but then I got the oil in a swap and I fell for it immediately. Something about the deep-voiced labdanum, benzoin and opopanax played off against the brightness of bergamot, lemon, saffron and rose geranium makes it work like magic. I like to wear this one on the coldest days of all, when I am at home wrapped in fleece blankets watching a storm rage outside.

Another advantage of cooler weather is the ability to wear more of my vintage collection. Weapons-grade seduction specials like Lanvin My Sin, Prince Matchabelli Added Attraction and Corday Fame can be safely worn in public. The modern version of Balmain’s great Jolie Madame like most chypres is an all-season favorite, but the gasoline, leather and Bette Davis-in-her-prime splendor of the original vintage is best experienced in something other than sweltering summer heat. And what would winter be without Caron’s iconic Nuit de Noël? I treasure my little bottle of extrait, which to me is the pinnacle of expression for the great old Mousse de Saxe base, once Caron’s hallmark but no longer used by the house, which is a great loss to connoisseurs of classic fragrances.

I am sure I could name many more, but these are some of my top favorites. Like most fragrance fans I am always looking for more of them to love, so please tell us in the comments what your own winter perfume choices are!

Disclosure: All the perfumes mentioned in this post are either from my own collection or samples/gifts/swaps from perfume friends.

Poem “Blue Winter” by Robert Francis (1901-1987) from

Image credit: Winter scene from


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us at PST wish you a great holiday!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Clarimonde Project

By Beth

For the last month I have been swept up in Venetian visions and pre-raphaelite fantasies, dreaming night after night of a beautiful woman whose angelic face hides a sad and terrifying secret. She is the vampiress Clarimonde, the haunting protagonist of the short story written by Theodore Gaultier. Clarimonde is the beautiful golden haired , green eyed 18th century undead courtesan who tragically falls in love with a young priest named Romuald who is on the very threshold of taking his vows, a promise that locks him forever into the biblical struggle between good and evil, right , wrong … and his own personal Heaven and Hell.

The story begins when Clarimonde comes to Romuald on the eve of his ordination, promising to make him happier than he would ever be in Paradise if only he would leave the priesthood for her. Although Romuald takes his vows he becomes romantically obsessed with the beautiful woman and when her page hands him a calling card that is engraved with the words “Clarimonde , Palace Concini” , he immediately regrets his decision to commit to the priesthood. Shortly afterwards , Romuald becomes the priest of a countryside parish where he continues his studies, yet pines over his lost opportunity to create a worldly life with the beautiful Clarimonde. It isn’t long though before a young steward comes to him in the middle of the night, begging for his assistance in saving the life of the mistress who employs him. Romuald arrives at the palace too late and discovers in his dismay that it is the dead Clarimonde upon whose lovely face he gazes and in his sorrow falls to his knees, kissing her passionately upon the lips, bringing her back to life while falling madly in love with her beautiful spirit and glittering decadent world.
From that moment on his life becomes complicated; Romuald and Clarimonde travel to Venice where he lives as a priest by day and a Seignior by night, enjoying the love of his beautiful Clarimonde , as well as pleasures of the flesh which he had never known could exist. The day arrives though when he discovers that she has been giving him a sleeping draught all along , sothat she could drink one drop of his blood each night. Eventually Romuald becomes so tortured by his double life that he tells his mentor, an older priest name Serapion his story. The older priest takes him to the cemetery and opens her tomb , where Romuald discovers her resting peacefully , glowing with life from the gift of his blood. The priest, driven to destroy what he cannot understand , pours holywater upon the sleeping Clarimonde who instantly disintigrates into ashes and dust. She comes to Romuald one last time in a vision, asking why he has destroyed the bond between them, sadly reminding him that she had asked for almost nothing in exchange for the love and beauty that she’d brought to his very existence.

I must admit right now that I hated the end of the story. I wished that Clarimonde had been able to choose a man that could value her for her true self without guilt , a man who could take what she offered him passionately and return it back to her without fear…..a man who could have honestly CHOSEN her. I have lived with one who was so scared of my femaleness that he sought to destroy my very essence through his violence, he could not CHOOSE me so he sought to destroy me. I think that every woman experiences a love like that once and perhaps that is why we all have related so strongly to her story. We are familiar with our blood, we know it’s taste and smell. We have bitten our lips many times in sorrow as we bandage our children, quiet our tongues or bury our dead. We know what it means to choose life, to choose to open ourselves up to love even though it may destroy us. We need men who are fearless in the face of our passions and our frailties. It saddens me that Romauld and Clarimonde lived in a time when she couldn’t be honest with him about who she was and because it was a time when women were by their very natures suspect, it would have impossible for her to have been honest with him, she who held such a deep and forbidden secret. I have always thought that within the bonds of secular religion live the very intolerances that destroy any real possibility for love to grow. I would have liked him more if he hadn’t chosen to have been such a spineless martyr , betraying her in the end to preserve his façade, his piousness. In the end he willingly took everything from her yet clearly didn’t trust what she offered him, choosing to destroy her instead of just allowing her to be , to choose another who could truly love her. I was saddened that she felt that she couldn't be honest with him and wondered what their possibilities would have been if she'd been able to ask for his passion outright. Women know that their lives are inextricably intertwined with natural cycles of life and death. We stare headfirst into the chasm of the unknown to turn our bodies inside out, riding the painful waves of childbirth , thinking that for sure we are dying until the very moment when life emerges at the bitter end of then spiral. We are not afraid of that which we do not quite understand nor do not seek to destroy the essence of the experience. We would gladly spill our blood for our passions and are left emotionally battered and violently scarred when we find out that the object of our affections was simply not willing to do the same but sometimes as it was with Clarimonde we feel that we are not worthy of asking for our hearts deepest wishes.

I had never read the story of Clarimonde until my friend and fellow blogger Lucy Raubertas proposed to several of us that we might discover and create a perfumed project around it. She started a secret page for us and very quickly we began to breath life into her vision. The Clarimonde Project is a scented collaboration that began with about 11 of us but it quickly blossomed into so much more. From the start I knew that this was going to be an extraordinary project and for weeks I have lived immersed in a world of 18th century art , music and literature , waiting for the moment when I could claim Clarimonde as my own. I read hungrily as extraordinary perfumers like Mandy Aftel, Dawn Spencer Hurwitz , Monica Miller, Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl and Ayala Moriel began to describe the scents that they were blending for this project and it wasn’t long before I felt the compelling need to create something of my own. I became obsessed with the idea of scenting a pair of gloves. I looked for days for just the right pair andeventually I found them…a pair of vintage French kid gloves, embroidered and in perfect condition. It took a month for them to arrive, but they are beautiful, worth every penny and the eternally long wait. Armed with a wonderful article by Jeanne Rose about scenting leather I began to work. Leather and I are not strangers as I’ve spent many a moment caressing and cleaning my saddles and bridles. But the softness of the kid demanded a different respect, so I made a simple solid perfume of beeswax and jojoba which I scented with chocolate, rose, a bit of oud that I had, some sandalwood and cinnamon. I rubbed the creamy mixture all over my hands until they were very warm and took a sniff. Delicious yes, but something was missing. I went over to the beautiful parcels that had arrived and took out the precious vials. Slowly the scent began to take shape as I rubbed drops of each delicious perfume into my hands. 5 wonderful perfumes, each of them so very different and yet they blended so well together. I took another deep breath and was stunned by the sheer beauty of them all, It was as if I could smell the essence of each yet blended together it was the most potent mixture of scent that I’ve ever smelled, beautiful, sexual and feral. It was as if we’d all been dreaming the same dream, yet each of us had brought back a different piece of her soul.

It was the scent of Clarimonde and it permeated my senses, filling me with an odd mixture of joy and passion tinged with a touch of regret. It was amazing to realize that we had ventured into unknown depths to bring her most intimate secrets into the light.

I plunged my hands into the gloves and after what seemed like an eternity I removed my hands to find that they were not greasy at all, the fine kid had absorbed all of the oil and sweet perfume. I folded several pieces of tissue that I’d scented with the mixture and placed them into the palms of the gloves, wrapped more tissue around them and buried them for several days in a pile of warm autumn leaves. When next I saw them they were infused with not only the scent of all of that lovely perfume but the golden warmth of the leaves that they’d been resting in. They were lovely to begin with, delicate and soft with age but they even more beautiful now. They glow with the luscious scent but there is something else, an aura of love and loss, to me they smell of redemption and rebirth. The bitter ending of this story finds Romuald torn with regret, warning his readers never to look at a woman because most assuredly they will meet the same fate as he. It can’t help but be obvious that his real regret is that he lacked the courage to choose love over fear, to embrace passion instead of destruction, hope over resignation.

All over one tiny drop of blood.

The image that you see above is my tribute to her, an altar outside in my little herb garden that I have dedicated to Clarimonde and these scented gloves are my offering. Instead of being reviled she is worshipped, an 18th century Goddess of incomparable darkness and unfathomable light who was betrayed by the one that she loved , reduced to tricking him for the scraps of his passion that he could never openly offer her , the sadness being that she generously and openly offered him somuch. She has become my muse and in my ending, Romauld lovingly collected the ashes from her tomb and took them to a secret place where he built a shrine to the beautiful woman that he loved and kept her safe from harm. I can imagine no other.

To Mandy, Monica, Dawn, Maria and Ayala I am grateful, the scents, balms and precious gifts that you have each created are beautiful beyond description, elegant and provocative. I have been thrilled to be a part of this project. Warning. These beautiful perfumes are not for the faint of heart, nor are they for one who is not ready to be blown wide open to passion. Each of these beautiful scents manages to grasp the past, the present and the knowledge that no matter how much we wish it, that we cannot, must not liveforever, that life by it’s very nature is fleeting and impermanent. Everyone of these perfumes begs the wearer to live in the moment, each perfumer has interpreted the story of Clarimonde in her own way. Sleep one night on Ayala Moriels exquisitely scented dream pillow and you’ll know what I mean. The beautiful lip stains in shades of purple and blood red created by Monica Miller are sumptuous and sexy leaving my lips feeling as if they’d just been delightfully bitten. I am in awe of these perfumers and their abundant creativity. I have been blessed by their generosity and love receiving the packages that they have obviously crafted with such care more than they will ever know. Artists all of them, they are in it for the dream of creating something that is lasting and beautiful, perfumes that transcend time and space and provide the lucky wearer with a whole range of individual emotion. In this day and age of mass marketed mystique, that means everything to someone like me. Try every one of these wonderful fragrances and discover for yourself. They are all truly individual, inspired and wonderful.

Oud Luban is a wonderful perfume, rich and smoky and with an overtone of Frankincense fairly oozes a lovely tension, a delightful struggle between duty and passion. In this perfume passion clearly wins because the incense that she has layered between all of magnificent resins fairly scream of exotic opium dens and sensual thoughts. There is something balsam like as well, a tinge of sweetness , a hint of citrus , sweat and leather. The smoky choya lends a complex fairly religious austere emotion to the scent. Oud Luban is a perfect solid perfume, elegant and raw, yet sensual and buttery. Oud Luban is dirty and I mean that in the very best way because it grounds and relaxes me. It’s a scent to wear when you’re completely naked because it loves sweat and skin much like a perfect caramel tastes even better with a bit of sea salt and chocolate. It layers beautifully with florals and gives them an unworldly depth. I think that Oud Luban is fascinating because It’s a little bit conflicted, yet very complete which makes it all the more delicious and provocative to a girl like me. The yearning…the torment…..the inappropriateness of it all…..bring it on…..I love it! I’m one of those peculiar (maybe not so!) ladies who finds her passions completely aroused when she’s in the least appropriate of places so anything that smells remotely monastic is a delightful temptation for me, an audacious invitation to misbehave. Thanks to Mandy for giving me the perfect excuse……

When I opened the parcel that I received from Ayala I was transfixed even before I saw its contents. I didn’t need to see what was inside, I could tell simply by the scent wafting from the envelope that I’d received an extraordinary gift and that I was going to enjoy it very much. Inside was beautifully handmade dream pillow, of creamy silk with a single precious garnet sewn into its folds that I am sure symbolizes the one drop of blood that she needed to survive . A dream pillow is a beautifully simple thing, a precious little parcel that’s been filled with herbs designed to enhance the experience of sleep or in Romaulds case something that he would have filled with herbs from the monastery gardens to banish his impure thoughts of Clarimonde. Ayala’s interpretation of the scent is very pretty and has an absolutely ethereal quality that is disarming, because the fragrance is very sexy. The beautiful pillow itself is filled with relaxing herbs and flowers such as valerian and lavender that by their very nature should easily promote an easy restful sleep, but Ayala has also perfumed it with her beautiful “Clarimonde” , which is sumptuous , exotic and twisted with a heavenly wisp of violet that windsthough her gorgeously spicy oriental/floral blend and gives this perfume its very otherworldly and deeply spiritual quality. My husband described it as remarkably beautiful and I agree. My dreams have been exquisite and happily filled with very impure thoughts.

The package that I received from Monica Miller was absolutely intriguing . From her label which is a fabulous celtic knot of intertwined bodies to the contents inside, an exquisite little vial of her lovely Sangre Eau de Parfum and two remarkable lip stains, one called “Purple Shadow” and the other aptly named “Scarlet Kiss” , the experience from start to finish was delightful. For some reason, I felt as if I had to be dressed to wear these, so I put on a lovely shirt of purple velvet and some gorgeous black velvet trousers. That wasn’t enough so I swept up my hair and fastened it with a golden comb of my grandmothers that I keep for such an occasion. That seemed to be better so then I did my eyes in a soft kohl pencil and swept a hint of blush across my cheeks. Then I stroked the Sangre across my throat and onto my wrists and finally applied the lips stains, mixing them until the effect was dark and winey. I looked in the mirror and felt incredibly elegant , practically of anotherworld. Monica’s lip stains not only feel delightful but they taste wonderful because they are filled with essential oils, resins and herbs. The base she used is shea butter and my lips loved it and responded accordingly by looking bee stung and beautiful. Sangre, her scented tribute to Clarimonde is gorgeous. I loved the deep dark fruit essences that she used along with a fresh sweet chamomile and the way that she’s blended them with the rich floral heart and base of musks, honey and sticky resins creates a bacchanalian feast of a perfume that manages to be both Bohemian and classic at the same time.

Immortal Mine: Maria McElroy and Alexis Karl
Immortal Mine is a lust, passion filled and wildly untamed perfume that delighted me from the second that I opened the vial. First of all, it was beautifully presented, covered with bloody red sealing wax that was oozy and dripping all over the cap anddown the sides like a fabulous candle or a vial of blood. It made a delightful crack and what emerged was one of the most fascinating perfumes that I’ve ever smelled filled with incense, lust and magic. It was instantly arresting. Immortal Mine came with the most remarkable list of ingredients; Soil from an unmarked grave, wyverns blood, amber, longing ,smoke, wax, myrhh ,words from a dead mans mouth, desire and much more…..I loved it and I haven’t stopped wearing it since the moment I put it on. I must admit that I’ve never smelled a perfume that instantly suited me as much as this one does. Permit me to reach into another vampires world for a moment but there’s something of Immortal Mine that if you know the story of Lestat and you remember back to his days on the stage in Paris at The Theatre of the Vampires you’ll understand. The only words to describe the beauty of Immortal Mine are indulgent and hedonistic and of all of these perfumes it is the one that is the most wicked. There’s nothing kind or sweet about this one…it takes you, spins you around dizzily and doesn’t let go until you’re completely dizzy with desire. To me it occurs like a dreamy, hypnotic spell, a few drops of this in a glass of port and I would probably give up everything……

A Twilight blue Oriental Perfume”. What an amazing description and it absolutely speaks to the evocative and complicated emotions that Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has captured in her elegant and refined perfume “Paradise Lost”. There is a moment in the story where Clarimonde lays dying , waiting for Romauld to come to her castle. The room is misty and silken, there is a page with an ivory cane keeping his vigil by her side. In her bedchamber, there are quilts of gold and silver and a vase of faded flowers. Clarimonde herself is pale and wan, slipping quietly in between the dreamlike veils of life and death. Into this scene wanders the innocent and love stricken priest. DSH’s Paradise lost is gossamer and beautiful, the scent of that bedchamber, of that lost innocence. He kisses her and is lost within time and space from that moment on. Paradise Lost is full of amber, sable, chamomile, candlewax and so many other luscious accords that give this lovely perfume the aura of an oriental opiate. The effect of Paradise Lost on the skin is akin to a robe of soft velvet and rich brocade , forming a cloak that pulls you seductively through the bedroom door and forever into her unforgettable and unfathomable world.

There are many other remarkable writers who have been involved in The Clarimonde Project. Please visit them all! They are Indie perfumes Scentless Sensibilities, the Perfume Pharmer, Scent Hive, Jade Dressler, LostPastRemembered and The Clarimonde songs of Alexis Karl.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Thanksgiving memories, The perfect stuffing & a fabulous giveaway!

By Beth

Of all of the meals that I cook every year, the Thanksgiving meal is truly my favorite. There's just something so incredibly abundant and homey about it, the smells are so appetizing and the mood so sincere. The meal itself was traditionally my mothers domain and she really enjoyed cooking it, setting about in her lovely kitchen early in the morning making apple and pumpkin pies, pumpkin cheesecakes and stuffing. I'd wander in early to find her chopping apples sautéing onions in butter with a glass of sherry by her side. My mother was a fabulous cook, but this was the meal that she loved cooking the most all year. The one and only time that I prepared it when she was alive she was furious. I was trying to do her a favor but she was unbelievably frustrated the entire evening and I swore that I would never do it again. Finally the onlything that I could for her do was brine the turkey, because even she allowed that it made the bird taste better.

My mother always made the holiday wonderful, full of wine, laughter and family. Her table was always beautifully set with brass candlesticks and a abundantly filled cornucopia. She always used her favorite Coalport dishes, a lovely rust colored pattern called Indian Tree Coral, her Baccarat crystal and all of her Grandmothers sterling. There were always plenty of extra plates waiting on the sideboard for all of Alex's friends who would start coming in after they'd finished their family dinners and we'd sit around the table for hours eating, drinking and discussing politics , music and current events. There is a cassette tape somewhere of the "Dance of the sugar plum fairies " played by the entire Schreibman family & friends on those same wine glasses. Mom was pretty cool...she let us fill her precious crystal to the levels needed to create all of the different scales and then we used her knives asmallets to play the notes. We laughed for hours and practiced, finally getting it right. There was always too much food and she made sure that there were plenty of tin foil plates so that everyone could take home leftovers, a tradition that I love to continue to this day!

When she died several years ago I found myself faced with the daunting task of carrying on the tradition for my family and I spent the entire day preparing the meal. It was a tough day though, Alex was in Central America learning to be a dive master and he wouldn't be home until right before Christmas. I went through all of the motions , stuffed the turkey, mashed the potatoes and set the table. We picked up my father from the nursing home and just as we were about to sit down the doorbell rang. Thinking that it was my friend Bethane and her husband Ijust punched the buzzer and went back to work on the gravy. We lived in a penthouse at the time at the end of a very long hallway. I walked to the door, flung it open and burst into tears as I saw Alex's best friends Chris and Josh coming down the hall. " Did you think that because Alex wasn't here that we were going to miss the fun?" "We told him we'd take care of you!".

What a great dinner that was! We ate until we burst, drank an entire bottle of expensive Rye and went at midnight to the uniquely strange and thoroughly American experience of Black Friday shopping at the mall. Alex called earlier that evening, thrilled that we were all sharing each others company and having such a great time. I've cooked many a Thanksgiving meal since then and I don't deviate too much from my mother’s recipes. I make her mashed potatoes (3 sticks of butter) and her pumpkin pie and this year because I have a strange and sudden craving for them, her decadent , buttery scalloped oysters. I brine my turkey the night before, and stuff herbs and butter under the skin and roast and baste it generously for hours.

It's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks and last year I learned a secret that's improved the flavor and texture of my turkey and turned my stuffing into the "stuff" of legends! I don't know about you, but the dressing is my favorite part of the meal , well that and the creamy garlic spinach! I always cook it in the bird and it's always delicious but never fluffy enough. I went to a friends house for an early Thanksgiving meal and her stuffing wasremarkable. I went through my mental checklist of ingredients and found all of the usual suspects. So I asked her what made the difference and what she told me was truly surprising! The secret ingredient? Shredded mozzarella cheese,about 5 cups of it! Nothing fancy, just the basic Kraft variety. So I tried it. I made the stuffing and while it was still warm stirred in the cheese and stuff the turkey. The result was superb, moist, fluffy and flavorful, just the way that you want it to be. There was also an oozy meltingly quality to it that was a perfect foil for the turkey. My friend surges me that it works with any stuffing recipe, but if you want to try mine here goes. I’m giving you only the ingredients here, not the proportions because everyone likes it made just alittle bit differently.

I use:

Chopped apples
Diced Butternut squash
Cornbread stuffing cubes
Chopped chestnuts
Chopped , COOKED and drained sage and onion sausage
Chopped pecans
Onions and celery sautéed in butter
Plenty of fresh sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme
A touch of cayenne
Truffle oil
Cidre' ( French hard cider)
Shredded mozzarella

Choose your proportions and mix. Be sure to stuff the cavity of the bird loosely, because the dressing will expand.

So what are your favorite recipes for Thanksgiving? Traditions? Memories? Pease share and the first person who uses my favorite holiday ingredient (I'll give you a hint , it smells incredible and can be used in both food and perfume) in a comment gets a fabulously gift certificate from Sur La Table as well as a scented surprisechosen by me! Please put your email in your comment as well so that I can get in touch with you easily!

One of my families favorite Thanksgiving traditions is that that while we are eating we each share something that we are especially thankful for. I hope that all of you know that I am always thankful for all of you. Your love and support of me make "Foodie Sunday" not a job but something that I look forward to sharing with you every other week. I count all of you as my family too..and that makes me a very wealthy woman. Wherever you are this Thanksgiving please know that in my mind you're all sitting around my table.

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hedera Helix draw winner

is Aimee L'Ondee. Pleas send us your details!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Gotta Question for the Nerd Girl??

By Marla

I’ve been thinking it would be fun to have an old-fashioned Q&A here at Perfume Smellin’ Things. You know I love to learn. You know I love perfume! So if you’d like to leave a comment with a question you’d like the fragrant Nerd Girl to answer, this is your chance. I’ll choose some of your most provocative, compelling, and difficult questions about perfumery, research them, and answer them here in a future article. Any questions about history, aromachemicals, botanicals, production techniques, perfumers, whatever, I promise I’ll do my best to get you an answer! So what do you wanna know??


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

This 'N That

By Tom

Okay, this time it was just laziness.  I've been running around doing stuff and just didn't have time for more than to do a cursory dash into ScentBar.  But I did see that they've got Caron there now.  They have all of the Paris stuff on the site and had a bottle of Pour Un Homme in the store.  I love that scent, a classic men's combo of lemon, rosemary and lavender, but I can get it online for a lot less than retail, sooo.

The Paris ones I can't wait to try.  I hope the reformulations aren't as dire as my Scent Twin has reported..

Ia anyone else getting into "American Horror Story"?  I've become hooked.  It's just so, so bizarre!  Basically if you haven't seen it yet it's the story of a Psychiatrist and his wife and daughter who hope to patch up their marriage (he cheated with a patient of his, she had a bad miscarriage) by heading west to LA and to a big brick house that filled with chestnut paneling, Tiffany glass chandeliers, and the ghost of everyone who's ever died in it.  There are other spooks, human and inhuman and it's hard to keep track of who's actually living and who isn't.  It also has Dylan McDermott running around naked a lot, and Jessica Lange swallowing scenery whole (imagine Blanche Dubois as Baby Jane Hudson) so no bad thing there.  

I did find that some of the professional Critics were showing their age when reviewing it.  Most noticed the whistling kid was lifted from "Kill Bill" but didn't tumble to the references to where Tarantino got the tune.  "Twisted Nerve" came out in the early 70's and featured a crazy kid with a bad home life and a sister with Downs Syndrome who fixates on a pretty teenager and isn't truthful about himself.  Even the actors look similar: 

Twisted Nerve
American Horror Story

Co-incidence? I think not. Have you watched? What do you think? (SPOILER)

I think anyone we haven't seen outside the house or grounds is dead. So Constance and Burned Guy- alive. Realtor, not so much (edit- just saw the 7th episode.  Realtor in seen in Brentwood.  So she's alive).  Jury is out on Violet.

Have you been watching?  What do you think?


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Foodie Sunday: Fishy Fishy

By Tom

This Sunday is about fish.  More specifically, the Anchovy.  Dreaded by some, enjoyed by others.  I'm firmly in the "enjoy" category.  I happen to love them.  I like them on pizza, but I really like to cook with them.  Melted into sauces they add a salty piquancy.   Sautéed with garlic and mashed you can add in a bunch of fresh-chopped heirloom tomatoes and basil and toss with Penne and a liberal dose of Reggiano or they can liven up a cream sauce for the best Alfredo you've ever had.  Even the oil they're packed in can be used (a teaspoon at a time) to make the best salad dressing ever.

The secret?  Don't ever tell the phobic it's in there.  Not that I would tell you to do this to people who have seafood allergies or are vegetarians.  That would be wrong, because there are people who have been scarred by being faced with a pizza with a mass of spiny fish corpses half-cremated into a surface of cheap cheese that should be jailed for pretending to be Mozzarella.

There are also substitutes for the actual fish.  Anchovy paste is readily available and is perfect for adding a bit of rich roundness to dishes ranging from stews to salad dressings.  One of my favorites is the (now with naughty connotations) Gentleman's Relish, which mixes butter and spices.  It's actually a great thing to have in the icebox: as an evening snack a small schmeer on a wheat thin or two has kept me from inhaling the Häagen-Dazs more that once.

What say you?  Loathe or love?

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Russian Saturday: Guerlain Vol de Nuit

Review and translation by Alena

Тема полетов, начавшаяся с En Avion, не отпускала меня весь октябрь. Флакон старой тулаетки Vol de Nuit появился у меня еще летом. Тогда я пыталась понять, что летящего этом пудровом, гальбанумно-альдегидном аромате? А что ночного в этих чистых, до скрипа белых цветах? Да-да, я искала замысел в творении. Грешна, но что поделаешь, если они оба (замысел и творение) так прекрасны?

Зеленые белоцветочные ароматы больше ассоциируются с хрустальной красотой ранеей весны, чем с осенью. Уже не вспомню, что заставило меня надеть Vol de Nuit в один из октябрьских дней, но на холодном сухом (такая редкость в нашем морском климате!) ветру Vol de Nuit показал свой зеленый оскал, расправил белоснежные альдегидные крылья и взлетел. Пудра уже не ложилась усталым облаком на плечи, а ультразвуковым шлейфом свистела за спиной. А какие лунные у нее вибрации!

Vol de Nuit необходимо хоть немного прохлады. Это ночной зверь, не терпящий яркого солнца. В верхних нотах аромат– острая и холодная, как сталь, зелень. Кинжал со свистом пролетает мимо уха и исчезает в море белых цветов: здесь и нарцисс с его одурманивающей пыльцой, и резкий, до альгедидного хруста, гиацинт, и клубы неиндольного жасмина. Лучше не искать его там – поранитесь. Ирисовая пудра, боб тонка, ваниль искрятся в лунном свете, бело-сине-зеленом, как на картинах Куинджи. В базе аромата – чернота мха и белые амбровые угли, обжигающе-холодные. На них проступает не пепел, а соль, да так, что хочется лизнуть руку, чтобы удостовериться, что это не иллюзия.

Характер Vol de Nuit во многом обусловлен концентрацией. Туалетные воды Guerlain гибки, подвижны и пластичны. В Vol de Nuit cочетается легкость и плотность, за что я так люблю старые герленовские туалетки. Его хрупкая красота бросает вызов вечности и попирает законы физики. Прерывается ночной полет, но звенящий шлейф Vol de Nuit кажется бесконечным.

Летом я провела несколько недель на даче. Ночью там было так темно, что моя рука, которую я вытягивала перед собой, чтобы не напороться на шкаф (в доме) или дерево (в саду), пропадала в черноте где-то на уровне локтя. Зато когда поднималась луна, можно было пересчитать каждый лист. Нужно было уехать туда, где нет электричества, чтобы увидеть, как может быть светло черной автустовкой ночью. И нужно было надеть этот холодный аромат ветренным осенним днем, чтобы почувствовать, какая на самом деле горячая у меня кровь.


The flight theme that I started with En Avion didn’t let me go for the whole October. I got a bottle of eau de toilet Vol de Nuit back in summer, and I was trying to understand what could be “flying” in this powderish, galbanum-aldehydic fragrance? And where is the “night” among these clean, almost squeaking white flowers? Yes, I was looking for a meaning in creation. Guilty, but what do I do, if they both (the meaning and the creation) are so beautiful?

To me, green white flower fragranses match the beauty of early spring, rather than autumn. I can’t remember what made me try Vol de Nuit on one of October’s days, but in that cold and dry wind (very rare in our seaside climate!) Vol de Nuit showed its green grin, stretched its aldehydic wings, and took off. Instead of a tired cloud settling down on my shoulders, powder left an ultrasonic trail behind my back. What moonlike vibrations it has!

Vol de Nuit needs at least a little bit of coldness. It is a nocturnal animal which can’t stand bright light. In the top notes of the fragrance there is a sharp and steel-cold verdancy. Dagger whistles past the ear and disappears in a see of white flowers. There’s a narcissus with its narcotic pollen, and harsh, almost crunchy aldehydic hyacinth, and clouds of non-indolic jasmine. It’s better not to look for it there – you’ll get hurt. Iris powder, tonka bean and vanilla are sparkling in the white-blue-green moonlight, as in Kuindzhi’s paintings. In the base – blackness of moss and white amber charcoal, scorching - cool. Not an ash, but salt emerges from it, so I want to lick my hand to believe it’s not an illusion.

Vol de Nuit’s character largely depends on its concentration. Guerlain’s vintage eaux de toilette are flexible, mobile and plastic. Vol de Nuit combines lightness and density, that’s what I love about old Guerlain EDTs. Its fragile beauty defies eternity and violates laws of physics. Night flight comes to end, but the ringing trail of Vol de Nuit seems to be endless.

I spent couple of weeks in the country this summer. It was so dark in the night, that my hand, stretched forward so that I won't run into a closet (inside) or a tree (outside), was disappearing in a darkness somewhere around the elbow. But when the moon appeared, you could see every leaf. I needed to escape somewhere with no electricity, to see, how dark an August night could be. And I needed to wear Vol de Nuit on a windy autumn day to feel how hot my blood really is.

Vol de Nuit Guerlain (Jacques Gueralin, 1933) : orange, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, petitgrain, galbanum, sage, aldehydes violet, rosewood, palmarosa, jasmine, jonquil/daffodil, pimento; Vanilla, benzoin, Peru balsam, musk, cedarwood, orris, tonka bean, oakmoss, agarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, ambergris, castoreum.

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Friday, November 11, 2011

An Aftelier Perfumes Experience: At Home on the Range (Part Two)

By Donna

This is the second and final installment in my reviews of a selection of the Aftelier perfumes by Mandy Aftel. Part one can be found here. In this part I explore the broad range of the perfumer’s talents, from lush floral to classic cologne to Oriental fantasy and more. Her creativity in putting perfume elements together in new ways is truly impressive.

Perfumer, author, artist, flavorist, innovator, and gifted communicator Mandy Aftel has been busy breaking down the barriers between indie/niche perfumery and the “big boys” for some time now, and her work has been instrumental in the recognition of natural perfumery as an art worthy of the respect that the classic perfume houses and luxury brands have always enjoyed in the modern era. Before I began testing the fragrances in earnest, I read her groundbreaking book Essence and Alchemy, which not only explains many of the technical aspects of perfumery for the layperson, but illuminates her own creative process and how the lessons of the past are interwoven with modern techniques. My understanding of the perfumery process was increased exponentially and I recommend this book very highly.

One of the fragrances I have been testing is a solid version, this one called Orchid. Its name is a little misleading as it was actually inspired by the lush scent of Oriental lilies, a favorite of Mandy’s and which also happens to be my own favorite floral aroma; I have grown lilies for many years and I just can’t get enough of their intoxicating aroma. Lily is hard to re-create in perfumes, because like many other flowers, no natural extract currently exists, so the olfactory impression must be created by blending other elements. This one somehow manages to smell very much like lily using orange blossom and other ingredients and captures that oddly rubbery, humid character that many lilies have which makes them smell “tropical” even though they are not, and in fact some scented orchids have this quality as well. I was delighted to discover that I shared a favorite flower scent with Mandy and she has done a wonderful job of capturing the fragrance I love so much. As an added bonus, her solid perfumes are made with jojoba oil and beeswax, which impart their own richness to the mix.

Another sweet, rich fragrance in the Aftelier line is Fig and it’s not like most other fig perfumes I have smelled; no green, leafy astringency here, this is the fragrance of sweet, syrupy fruits, meltingly soft and ripe. It reminds me of a favorite treat when I was a child – growing up in New England, fresh figs were simply unheard of and they were only available dried on a string or in cans and I loved those canned Kadota figs in heavy syrup. They were far too sugary of course but I always had a sweet tooth, and this Fig perfume has the delicious “figginess” without the sugar overload. Now for the big surprise: There is no fig in it at all! As with lily, no natural perfumery essence exists, so it is magically impersonated here by a blend of yuzu, jasmine sambac, grand fir absolute and a type of “fruity” Spanish lavender. I have no idea how this was accomplished but I am highly in favor of it. It’s not just a one-note scent of course, it’s a real perfume with depth and longevity, and the Africa stone in the base adds another layer of complexity to this seductive and succulent gourmand perfume. Most fig scents are cool and meant for summer wear, but this one is perfect for fall and winter.

One of the samples I requested was way out of my comfort zone, as I was interested in exploring Mandy’s range; was there anything she could not do? Apparently not, as I found Shiso to be very wearable even though on paper it is miles away from what I usually like. Now this one does have considerable astringency, and pungent is the word for it. The herb Shiso is also known as perilla and is a sharply flavored plant in the mint family that’s used as a culinary accent and in herbal tonics as well as in fragrances. This piquant note is matched perfectly with a brisk green pepper note to start, but it mellows fairly quickly on skin, and what this really ends up to be is an excellent eau de cologne style fragrance, with the shiso standing in for the more traditional herbal notes like rosemary or Artemisia that might be used in a classic cologne blend. A touch of clove and agarwood (oud) in the base gives it warmth and solidity. It’s still not “my thing” but I liked it a lot, much to my surprise, although I think it might smell better on a man than it did on me.

Parfum de Maroc begins as a classic Oriental “spice market” fragrance and is another one that rewards patience. It opens with a dense, murky chunkiness, as so many naturals do, that makes you think it’s going off in a Yankee Candle Ye Olde Potpourri direction but of course this is Mandy we are talking about, so just wait a little while; it gradually becomes infused with light and by the time the drydown arrives it glows from within. I thought of that antiquities shop in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark once it had fully developed; the scent of an Eastern marketplace in sepia shades, and a mysterious darkened room full of secrets surrounded by the brilliant desert light outside. It has considerable depth but somehow loses weight as time goes on, which is a pretty neat trick for a perfume in this genre. Some of my favorite spicy notes are here including black pepper, nutmeg, saffron, and cardamom but no one of them dominates and even the usually assertive nutmeg is woven into the mix with a light touch. Turkish rose at the heart provides the perfect backdrop, and sticks around to partner with the gorgeous and luminous myrrh in the base. Much pressing of nose to skin ensued during my testing of Parfum de Maroc and it ended up being one of my favorites of the bunch.

The grand finale is Mandy’s very special Parfum Privé, which she made for herself and then decided to share it with others, luckily for us. It was made with a no-holds-barred approach when the perfumer acquired some real ambergris, which is an almost unheard of luxury these days. The concept behind this floral Oriental perfume is to smell like the night air in Hawaii, a place I have never been, but if it smells anything like this please book me a flight today. To my nose it is all about the osmanthus flower, also a very pricey ingredient, but it’s a dark and haunting version of that tiny blossom that can be so lighthearted in other fragrances. Even the addition of the best orange flower absolute does not make this a sunny scent for me, because the base of earthy opoponax, vintage sandalwood, ambrette seed and ambergris deepens the tone and gives it more heft than any other osmanthus fragrance I have smelled. (I am a fan of Serge Lutens’ sheer and delicate ode to osmanthus, Nuit de Cellophane, but Parfum Privé is the one that really deserves to have “nuit” in its name.) If this is how ambergris transforms a perfume, now I know why it is so highly prized. I can just imagine an evening breeze carrying the fragrance of night-blooming flowers, yet also bringing the ripe scent of vegetation just on the verge of decay, a reminder of how quickly plants grow, bloom, die and are reborn over and over in a tropical climate. This perfume has no rough edges; just a fecund smoothness that melds perfectly with skin and the final drydown reveals the full beauty of the ambergris. This would be a real treat to have for special occasions, especially romantic ones, since it is so soft and sensuous. It’s way out of my price range, but I am very happy to have had the opportunity to smell this wonderful composition and I recommend that anyone who thinks that natural perfumes can’t be great should try it.

Disclosure: The perfumes I sampled were given to me for testing by Mandy Aftel at my request.

Image credit: Glowing sky over field image from

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Thursday, November 10, 2011


By Tom

I've got a mild case of the sniffles so no post for this week. I'm staying under the bankies and drinking tea.  I'm not even putting Gin in it.


Photo: Internets


Monday, November 07, 2011

Bitter Cocoa Angel: The Best of the Bunch

By Marla

I’ve had time to sample all the new series of gourmet/gourmand Thierry Muglers, named Taste of Fragrance, and I have to say, they go way beyond the usual flanker sniff-and-run. For the most part, the series exceed the originals. I strongly urge every perfumista, even those who can’t bear or wear the House of Mugler, to give these a sniff.

I actually bought a bottle of the dark cocoa laced Angel Taste of Perfume. Now my regular readers know I wear Angel and am very fond of it when used “delicately”, meaning, in minute quantities. When I am alone.

This new Angel is just chocolate bliss. The patch has been toned down a little, and the “dewberry” type fruit notes are loud and up front for only a few minutes. Then Chocolate Paradise is mine! This is a strong and bitter chocolate, not sweet. For those who love Angel, I think you’ll love this, too. For those who can’t stand it, it’s still worth a sniff. I think it’s the best of the Angelic Chorus.

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Friday, November 04, 2011

For Love of Ivy: Roxana Villa’s Hedera Helix (And a Prize Draw!)

By Donna

My first love in perfumery is “greens’ and especially the green floral style; I once wore Diorissimo almost exclusively and I only stopped when it became impossible to find, and then it was sadly reformulated. I even wore Gucci Envy by the quart (sorry, former colleagues). I went through many of them before I discovered chypres, and then of course my favorites were the greener ones like the original Jean-Louis Scherrer. However, I do like my greens with florals and a touch of sweetness; even the fierce March wind of the great Vent Vert is only a prelude to the impossibly delicate bouquet of spring flowers hiding behind her intimidating visage, and that’s just what makes it so effective. Needless to say, when I heard that natural perfumer Roxana Villa was launching a new fragrance that might be her greenest yet, I was eager to sample it.

Hedera Helix is the botanical name for what is commonly called English ivy, a rampantly growing and vigorous vine that is a particularly deep green color, and can look almost black in the shadows of the forest as it slowly but surely takes over the trees. The perfumer first began to compose it several years ago as a tribute to the Celtic sacred Tree Ogham of ivy, which is detailed here. The perfume is a perfect match for the name and the concept, a green floral chypre composed of many different leafy and floral notes and anchored with a base of resins, woods and real oakmoss. Like all of Roxana’s creations, it is 100% natural and made with organic grape and grain alcohols instead of the conventional kind. I was very impressed by the structure of this fragrance because the list of notes is surprisingly long but the overall effect is tightly focused on the green aspect. Everything else seems to be there to create that special mood, with nothing extraneous to distract from it. The base includes sandalwood, labdanum Tonka bean, styrax, Peru balsam, seaweed and oakmoss; the florals in the heart include rose, jasmine, orange blossom and boronia, while the opening has no less than four different kinds of citrus. Yet the dominant feeling is a canopy of fresh green leaves and lively herbal notes all mingling to make the point that this is all about the foliage.

What makes it really wonderful is the same thing that made the original Vent Vert so special, an ethereal breath of sweetness behind the veil of green that softens any harshness such fragrances may have. It reminds me of her wonderful sea chypre GreenWitch, but Hedera Helix takes another direction. Instead of being of the sea, it is essentially of the forest, a walk in magical woodland where every step brings up the aroma of the greenery underfoot and the slightest breeze brings the scent of living things in all their mystery. I want to be clear that this perfume is neither chilly nor gloomy, as intensely verdant as it is; the opening is dense and pungent yet as it develops it is shot through with warm grace notes dancing through the air like a shaft of sunlight in a grove of tall trees. It is smooth and calming in the way that a walk in the woods with Nature can be, and I recommend it most highly for those who are looking for a perfume that does double duty as aromatherapy to bring a sense of ease and equilibrium. Like Roxana’s other perfumes, it is available as a liquid or in solid form. I love her solid perfumes, which are made with natural beeswax from her own beehives, and this imparts a special aromatic quality that really suits this fragrance perfectly.

Hedera Helix is now available in Roxana’s Etsy shop along with her other scents. Roxana is generously offering a giveaway of a sampler set to one lucky reader, who will receive a sample of both the liquid and solid versions of Hedera Helix. The draw is open to the U.S. and Canada only. Please state in the comments if you would like to be included, and if you like, please tell us what your own favorite green perfumes are!

Disclaimer: The perfume sample I reviewed was given to me by Roxana Villa for testing at my request.

Image credit: “Magical Forest” computer wallpaper from

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Revisiting Tubereuse Criminelle

By Tom

It official: the winter exclusive that will be debuting in America from Serge Lutens is Tubereuse Criminelle.  I wrote of it years ago as "the post-modern Fracas" and ", Marina stated it's "like a magnificent, seemingly lazy animal...always ready to pounce", while Donna wrote that "It is the ultimate Femme Fatale scent".  Revisiting my decant it's still something that I really love, from its menthol-tinged opening to its completely decadent white-flower heart.  This is one that some would sincerely recommend that one doesn't affix a sprayer.  I'm not one of them.  Spray away, ladies.

It will be I assume $140 when it arrives here.  My review is from a decant I purchased from The Perfumed Court.

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Sensorium in Pictures

...Where "you can discover the meaning of fragrance" or just admire the chandeliers and be amused by monitors which turn into mirrors...The message is simple: smells are important, Firmenich turns smells into scents, and you can buy scents at Sephora. Nevertheless, quite an impressive installation worth visiting.

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"Deprivation" chamber
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Fragrance bar
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