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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Russian Saturday: Rubj Vero Profumo

Обычно я ношу белые цветы в классических композициях в сочетании с кожей или с альдегидами. Не удивительно, что Rubj Vero Profumo, в котором нет ни кожи, ни альдегидов, стал единственным ароматом Веро Керн, который я отложила в сторону как “прекрасно, но не для меня”. Потом как-то я купила платье цвета малины со сметаной, потом в нужное время и в нужном месте платье достала пробирку с духами...

Rubj ворвался в мою жизнь без стука и церемоний, как ребенок, который спешит поделиться радостной вестью. Rubj, замешанный на дуэте дикого, прозрачного, как слеза, не индольного жасмина и пьянящего фледоранжа, не оставил мне шанса. Два вихря поднимаются двойной восходящей спиралью вдоль позвоночника, от первой до последней чакры.

Rubj наполняет собой пространство. Вслед за пронзительным танцем жасмина и фледоранжа появляетcя терпкость гесперидной шкурки, накатывают волны светлых роз и такого несовременного мягкого мускуса. Его сложно раскладывать на ноты. Rubj бесшовен и многогранен в лучших традициях герленовской классики. В лучших традициях Vero Profumo.

Rubj – психоделический аромат, сверхзапах, ультразвук. И лишь ближе к базе Rubj трансформируется в легкое, звонкое, улетающее ввысь сопрано, как эта крылатая ведьминская песнь.

Usually I wear white flowers in classic compositions in combination with leather or aldehydes. Naturally, Rubj Vero Profumo, which has neither leather nor aldehydes became the only scent by Vero Kern that I put aside as a ”beautiful, but not for me”. Then it so happened that I bought a dress the colour of raspberry with cream, and at the right time in the right place dress, I pulled out the vial with the perfume…

Rubj broke into my life without knocking at the door, without ceremonies, as a child who is in a hurry to share good news. Derived from a duet of a wild, transparent as a tear, non-indolic jasmine and fleur d’orange, Rubj Vero Profumo has left me no chance. Two vortexes ascend as a double helix along the spine, from the first to the last chakra.

Rubj pervades the space. Following a shrill dance of jasmine, appears the harshness of a hesperide peel, the waves of light-colored roses roll over, as well as such inopportune soft musk. It is difficult to desypher that into notes. Rubj is seamless and multifaceted, in the best tradition of Guerlain’s classics. In the best tradition of Vero Profumo.

Rubj is a psychedelic scent, super-smell, ultrasound. And only close to it’s base Rubj transforms into light soprano that flies into space, like this winged witchy song.

Rubj Vero Profumo (Vero Kern, 2007): Moroccan orange blossom, musk, Egyptian jasmine.

Photo Vero Profumo.

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Friday, March 30, 2012


Woodgirl won the draw for the hyrax poop tincture! Send us your details!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Shocking: CK One Shock for Him/Her

By Tom

We've discussed many time CK One and the various flankers that have come since. So seeing a new one in my local Sephora pretty much was met with a big yawn.

However, shock of shocks, I actually found myself liking them. My first encounter was with the hers (the Sephora at the Beverly Center only had the hers for some reason); it's a sweet little floral with a little chocolate note to it and some of the cereal element that I love in Lostmarc'h Lann-Ael. Just at the point where I get sick of it (about three hours) it's gone.

Macy's next door had the mens, but ask for a sample at Macy's and they'll look at you as if you suddenly your request was made in Urdu, or perhaps interpretive dance. So it was off to Sephora in Century City.

Shock Him is a lot more conventional: a freezer-blast opening citrus and green that warms to a rather staid clean 'n fresh ambery patchouli. It's something you will no doubt be smelling on the young guy who brings the mail in your office. On me it's also gone in about 3 hours.

Also on the shelf at Sephora was the original CK One, a scent that I liked back in the day. I don't know if it's the fault of reformulation or my advancing years, but testing it was a bit like running into a person you had a mad crush on 20 years ago. You look at them without the chemical attraction that made you weak when in your presence, and you wonder what it was that was so fascinating about them in the first place. CK One, we're done.

These are both $40 for 1.7oz, $50 for 3.4oz and him has a whopping 6.7 ounce bottle for $65. Available practically everywhere. I tested at Sephora.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

From Edgy to Endearing: Les Parfums de Rosine (Part Two)

By Donna

For a fragrance company that specializes in perfumes centered around just one kind of flower, the house of Les Parfums de Rosine certainly does have a lot of range. In the first installment of this series, I sampled some very disparate offerings from this house, from sharp to soft, and from rich to refreshing. No less variety will be found in this chapter.

Glam Rose, launched in 2011, was one for which I had high hopes. It is inspired by an old-fashioned rose of a class called Bourbon roses, a white and violet-striped beauty named Variegata de Bologna that actually smells of sweet violets; I am a lover of old garden roses and this type is one of my favorites. On the first wearing, the violet was quite prominent, but in a modern way, not soft or shy, and accompanied by tangy fruits. I almost thought it was going to be a must-have, until the next time, when a sharp sourness predominated; the blackcurrant leaves and cedar had turned against me, as they so often have done before. Subsequent wearings confirmed it; not for me, as much as I like the rose and violet aspects, the other notes clash too much; eventually it settles down and behaves itself, but I never did smell the purported leather note until I let it stay on overnight; in the morning the harshness had finally gone away and there was a faint violets-and-suede aroma lingering on. That's just too long to wait!

Another Rosine with a goodly dose of cedar is Poussiere de Rose, but it's not discordant in the least. Cedar and I have a wary relationship; I never know when it will go wrong on me. In this fragrance it melds with plum, apricot and gentle spices that take all the fight out of it. Poussiere de Rose goes on quite fresh and sparkling but quickly mellows into a smooth blend of rich rose and the fruit notes have a dried character, like smelling fruit leather, not overly sweet but very pleasing. It's little odd, but somehow very friendly and comforting too. It's nice to find a rose fragrance that avoids the usual clichés and matches the rose up with something both enhancing and unexpected. I have a feeling it might work even better in summer's heat, so I will save some of my sample for later. Longevity is good but the sillage is quiet, at least in the cool weather. Regrettably, this is not one of the Rosines that also comes in their marvelous body creams, because I think it would be even better that way. For candle fans, it is available in that form and I can imagine how delicious that would be.

I had very good results with Un Zest de Rose, which is not sharp at all despite having a lot of citrus in it, not to mention green tea and even yerba maté. It is the perfect rose for summer, its zippy notes of lemon, bergamot and orange lifting into the air and spinning it into an ephemeral breeze that seems to come and go moment to moment. It is very pretty and I only wish it lasted longer. Come summer, it's the kind of thing to keep in the refrigerator and spritz frequently. Jasmine and a musky base keep it soft while still letting the citrus shine. The rose note's concept is based on a pale yellow bloom; rose lovers will know that the nearly infinite array of aromas found in roses are closely tied to their hue, and Un Zest de Rose has the typical yellow rose scent, mild and not overly sweet, a perfect foil for the citrus. This one would be a keeper for me.

On the other end of the spectrum, the rose chypre La Rose de Rosine is a Very Serious perfume and really more of a chypre than a rose fragrance once it gets past the opening. I found it curious that a perfume with this name, which sounds as though it should be the “flagship” fragrance for the line, should be something that is not really about the rose. The opening is a pleasingly smooth rose, but it quickly shows its fusty side; you know that weird phase most chypres go through right at the beginning where they smell vaguely “off” as though they have gone bad, right before your nose sorts out the notes and they align themselves on your skin? Well, La Rose de Rosine is like that all the way down. It's your elderly Aunt Mildred's pocketbook, with a dirty hairbrush and stale face powder inside, and its longevity is impressive. No one like chypres more than I do, but for me this belongs in the very tiny category of chypres I can't wear, along with Miss Balmain and her ashtray. It's not really offensive or bad, it's just not that interesting, and Rosine already has the magnificent Une Folie de Rose, so it's got the chypre thing covered.

I could not figure out how Diabolo Rose got its name until someone alerted me to its origin – it's a type of drink made with lemonade and either fruit cordial or mint syrup. (I wondered how such a pretty thing could be “diabolical.”) Pretty is exactly what it is, a fresh, luminous fragrance made with bergamot, cool peppermint, roses, tomato leaves and muguet, and although I would not say it is all that minty, the green exhilaration of the herbal notes is a lovely variation on the rose theme and I was quite taken with it. It has a sweet, exuberant innocence that brings a smile to my face. It's another one that deserves to be worn in summertime and I will keep some for that, but I can't resist wearing it now just to give my winter-worn spirits a lift. It's simple but effective and sometimes that's just what the doctor ordered.

There are still many more fragrances from this house to explore, which I will do in future installments of this series!

Image credit: Yellow rose wallpaper from; light effects mine.
Disclosure: The perfumes reviewed in this post were from either purchased samples or swaps from friends.

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Friday, March 23, 2012

So I Tinctured Some Hyrax Poop (And a Very Weird Prize Draw)

By Marla, the Nerd Girl

About a month ago, I received (very excitedly) a package from Sophia in South Africa (African Aromatics). Among some amazing resins was a tiny bag of rock hyrax poop. Within seconds, I had broken open the bag and popped a few grams of scat into perfumer’s alcohol. A few days later, I had the most skankily aromatic tincture ever. Now why did I do that?

I have a scent library. I’m even writing an article about it, but it’s too big a project to craft into paragraphs right now, I promise it will meet the Internet soon. Anyway, when I couldn’t obtain certain materials for my library from my favorite suppliers like Eden Botanicals and White Lotus, I started tincturing on my own, in the basement, at night….

Tincturing is actually very easy. I use only dried material, or resins. I gather most of them myself in my travels, and others are sent by marvelous people like Sophia. When I was knee-high to a diatom (now I’m knee-high to a pudu) I kept plant samples, pressed and labeled, in notebooks. This is an extension of that obsession. So I take about 5gm of the material and put it in a 15ml glass bottle. I top it off with perfumer’s alcohol, label it, and shake it around every once in a while for a few weeks. Then I can decant/filter and re-bottle, re-label, and try it out on paper or skin. I’ve learned an amazing amount of olfactory information this way. And of course, the tinctures are great for DIY (yet another article).

So what’s the weirdest thing in your scent collection? Nothing has matched the hyrax poop for me, but I’m looking….

The weird prize draw is a vial of the hyrax poop tincture, and something else, as I feel inspired to include in your packet. Probably some strange plant (legal, I promise). Answer the question above and I’ll enter you in the draw. As always, Limette the Angora Bunny will choose the winner.

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sweet tooth: Chocolate .

By Tom

When I smelled the first scent that had discernible chocolate in it I was horrified. It was, of course Angel and it was, of course usually worn by people who loved it to abandon and wore a lot if it. I loathed it. Then one day I smelled it on someone who wore just a touch and it was lovely. Really lovely. It wasn't something that I would wear but I could appreciate it.

But I still told myself that I didn't like chocolate in scent.

Then I found Borneo 1834. Like Angel, it featured chocolate and patchouli, but Borneo's was dry and vaguely dusty, like something that had been found in a desert tomb and I loved it.

Since then there are been others, like Bud perfumes Ugly Bastard, Parfumerie Generales Musc Maori and Uncle Serge's own Vetiver Oriental. I don't own all of them by any stretch of the imagination, since my urge to wear that note is easily taken up by Borneo, but I do love smelling them and if any showed up on a birthday I'd be thrilled..

What chocolate scents do you love, or loathe? Let us know in the comments..

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Сhanel No. 5 – аромат из разряда “объять необъятное”. Мое ревью получилось похоже на откровения слепца из буддисткой притчи о слоне. Я била себя по рукам, чтобы не пуститься в тяжкие и не начать исследовать предмет в ширь и в глубь. Зачем умножать энтропию информационного пространства? Книга о No. 5 уже написана*.

No. 5 никогда не был для меня ароматом соблазна, каким он, казалось, читался с многочисленных рекламных образов. Может я сталкивалась не с теми выпусками, не с теми концентрациями. В конце концов такой легендарный аромат имеет право быть многоликим. Парфюмерную воду выпуска 2000-х я надевала, когда мне нужно было трудится, а не хотелось. Аромат добавлял мне в моих cобственных глазах возраста и авторитарности. Я надевала его, когда мне нужно было написать неприятное письмо или закончить рутинную, требующую концентрации, работу. No. 5 превращала меня в рабочую лошадку, которая покорно и с радостью тянет свой плуг. В ней были резкие адьдегиды малинового цвета; плотная и сбитая, будто от попавшей на нее влаги, пудра; цветы, сплавленные в яркую, почти леденцовую массу. Со временем резкие грани аромата смягчались, пудра подсыхала и переставала стоять комом в горле. С той “Пятеркой” мы не очень дружили.

В то же время, No. 5 никогда не был для меня “старушечьим” ароматом. Старшее поколение моей семьи никогда не пахло духами, может поэтому я вообще плохо понимаю, что люди вкладывают в это понятие. А после бережного перебора формулы в 2008 году мне хочется рассмеяться в лицо каждому, кто говорит о No. 5 как о бабушкиных духах. Сколько времени мы потратили тогда на изучение кодов! Кажется, это был единственный случай, когда мы гонялись за новым, а не за “чем старше, тем лучше”.

В туалетке Chanel No.5 этого нового выпуска – тридцатые с их культом юности и здорового тела и духа. Я нахожу его в картинах Дейнеки, на фотографиях Мункачи, в студенческом альбоме моей бабушки. В нем вера в счастье для всех и каждого, которое еще немного – и настанет. Эта отчаянная вера в светлое будущее как единственный способ заглушить нарастающее предчувствие войны. Скоро спортивные марши сменятся военными.

В туалетке Сhanel No. 5 – звенящая чистота. Девушки в cкрипящих крепдешиновых платьях в горошек идут по умытой набережной и несут в руках охапки цветов. На лепестках капельки утренней росы. В глазах надежда. Из горлышка флакона пахнет тонкой альдегидной пудрой. На коже она рассыпается тысячью смеющихся колокольчиков: сочный лимон, острое лезвие бергамота. Связка шариков-цветов рвется в небо: белоснежный жасмин, светло-красные розы, сплав ландышей-гиацинтов. Лица устремлены в небо. Чувствуется горячее дыханье иланг-иланга, запах чуть спотевшей кожи: это сандал. Ирис приглушает громкость и охлаждает. Юность так свежа! Моя туалетка Chanel №5 в сумочном варианте: я смогла устоять перед инженерной конструкцией флакона, похожего на джеймсбондовскую штучку. No. 5 один из тех редких ароматов, который я люблю наносить именно из спрея. Разлетелись брызги – и воздушные шарики полетели в небеса.

Chanel No. 5 – мой утренний колокольчик. Эмоциональная миква. Прошлого нет, только будущее. И оно, кажется, обещает быть светлым.

Chanel No. 5 is the scent of the categories “embrace the boundless”. My review turned up to be similar to the revelations of the blind man from the buddhist parable about an elephant. I had to sit on my hands to prevent myself from throwing caution to the wind and starting a broad and deep investigation on the subject. Why should I increase the entropy of informational space? The book about N°5 has already been written*.

No. 5 has never been a scent of temptation for me, as, it seems, it coul
d be perceived from numerous advertisement icons. Maybe I was coming across wrong releases or wrong concentrations. After all, such a legendary perfume could rightfully have many faces. I wore the EDP circa 2000s when I had to unwillingly do some work. The scent gave me, in my own eyes, some age and authoritativeness. I wore it when I had to write an unpleasant letter or finish routine work that required concentration. No. 5 would turn me into a workhorse, the one that docilely and happily pulls the plough. The scent had sharp aldehydes of raspberry color; dense and stocky, as if it was soaked, powder; flowers, alloyed into bright, almost candy mass. After some time the sharp edges of the scent would soften, the powder would dry and not stay like a lump in the throat. We weren’t actually friends with that No.5.

At the same time, No. 5 has never been a "granny" scent for me. The older generation of my family never smelled of perfumes, so I don’t really understand what is the meaning of that notion. And after careful reassembly of the formula back in 2008 I want to laugh in a face of anyone who talks about No.5 as of an "old lady’s” perfume. How much time we spent back then learning all digital codes! It seems to be the only case when we were running after the new, not after ”the older – the better”.

In the EDT Chanel No. 5 of that new release are 1930s, with their cult of youth and healthy body and soul. I see it in the paintings of Deyneka, in the photographs of Munkácsi, in a student album of my grandmother. There’s a belief in a happiness for all and everyone, that, just wait a little bit, will come. That desperate faith in a “bright future” as the only way to suppress the growing premonition of war. Sports marches will be replaced by military ones soon.

In the EDT Chanel No. 5 is a ringing purity. Girls in squeaky crepe de Chine polka dotted dresses walk down the shiny embarkment, holding heaps of flowers in their hands. Drops of the morning dew on the petals. Hope in the eyes. From the bottle’s neck it smells of fine aldehyde powder. On the skin it scatters into thousand of laughing bells: juicy lemon, sharp razor of bergamot. A bunch of flower balloons bursts into the sky: snow-white jasmine, light-red roses, alloy of lily of the valley and hyacinth. Faces looking at the sky. In the scent there is a warm breath of ylang-ylang, a smell of slightly sweetened skin: that’s sandal. Iris softens the loudness and cools the composition down. Youth is so fresh! My Chanel No. 5 EDT is a purse version: I couldn’t stand the engineering construct of a flask that looks like James Bond's gadget. No. 5 is one of those rare scents that I like to apply by spaying. Splashes fly – and so do balloons in the sky.

Chanel No.5 is my morning bell. Emotional mikveh. There’s no past, only future. And it seems to be bright.

*Tilar J. Mazzeo ”The Secret of Chanel No. 5: The Intimate History of the World's Most Famous Perfume”

Chanel ad from 1921 by French caricaturist Georges Goursat (1863–1934), also known as SEM.

No. 5 Chanel (Ernest Beaux/Jacques Polges, 1921): aldehydes, bergamot, lemon, neroli; jasmine, lily of the valley, rose, orris; vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla, and amber.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Japanese Gem

By Marla

Shiseido Koto, a serene green floral chypre, was launched in 1967 in Japan. Top notes are soft aldehydes, citrus, and herbs. Heart notes are narcissus, gardenia, orris root, jasmine, lily of the valley, jonquil and rose. Base notes are oakmoss, patchouli, leather, amber, vetiver and castoreum.
I found a bottle of this subtle delight on the Big Bay for around $20. I love the Classic Zen (black bottle), by Shiseido, and Koto launched at about the same time. They are sister scents, beautifully retro. Where Zen Classic is somewhat stern, a “touch me not” little black dress of a scent, Koto is soft, like sunlight filtering through Japanese paper screens. There is no sweetness in Koto, but the white floral accord shines through the classic chypre structure. It reminds me a little of Guerlain’s Chamade, but, where Chamade’s color is a rich gold, Koto’s is a glowing ivory. Definitely the best perfume to wear while practicing ikebana, and listening to the koto, of course. I encourage anyone who loves green, retro, or chypre scents to try Koto.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Foodie Sunday: Oh what a night!ŠMy favorite Hangover Remedy and a Spicy Prize draw!

By Beth

Oh my….it WAS one of THOSE nights! By yesterday Jim and I were definitely ready for a serious night of partying. One of the delightful parts of our new diet regimen is a once a week splurge, so after my evening of volunteering down at Severance Hall we decided that venturing downtown to meet our friends Steve and Freida for drinks was the perfect remedy for what had truly been a very long week! We found ourselves in the middle of a very hip, trendy sushi bar where my pal was holding court , charming anyone within 30 feet, with her admiring husband Steve just watching her with a huge grin on his face. That's my friend Freida though…she's fairly irresistible and makes friends wherever she goes, many of them being serious "A" listers that she's never heard of until someone lets her know who they actually are. We met the two of them when our kids were dating, and we hit it off immediately much to the dismay of our children. We've traveled together , shared many a meal , share the same wedding anniversary, lived through the breakup of our children , demanded custody rights of each other and have vowed to never be separated. The four of us just have a ball together. Freida is the ultimate girl-power friend. I've written about her before but one of the many reasons that I love her is that she refuses to have fun alone. She's fiercely competitive in all of the right ways, but not with her women friends, with us she has a heart as huge as Everest.

Going shopping with her is wonderful because even though she's a stunning and petite 5'3, bombshell blonde who works out obsessively and has the body to prove it, she wants you to have as much fun trying on clothes as she does. She dresses me and I teach her about perfume and porcelain…it's a fabulous trade. She does have a wicked side though and If she's having a blast she wants you to be having it too, which is how I found myself last night around midnight with at least one too many drinks in my hand cornered by perhaps the most obnoxiously fascinating faux power couple that I've ever met and being regaled with tales of their status and lifestyle, finding out way more than I ever wanted to know about anyone. Freida had met them while she was waiting for us and was obviously fascinated by their newly minted pretentiousness, so she drew me into the conversation where I learned among other things that her husband was "The Viagra Doctor" who keeps her up every night until 3:00 in the morning and then takes the kiddo's to school for her. More Belvedere and Ice please….It was absolutely hilarious but required more than a bit of liquid courage to tolerate. When they finally left the four of us kicked back , had more sushi, more Belvedere and more than a few good laughs unashamedly at their expense. It was then I found out that Freida had been sharing with her tales of my entertaining and personal shopping prowess and customer list, also giving her my retainer fee and at the same time letting her know that I probably wouldn't have time for a few months to take her on as a client. It was then that I realized why I had been feeling like cougar bait for the last hour or so. Did I mention that I adore my friend Freida? She's utterly fabulous!

About an hour later we headed off to the Velvet Tango Room , snagged a table and a few gorgeous martinis, a cigarette or two (yes, I had one!) and Freida announced that she was ravenous and we headed towards the nearest Denny's…yes you heard me right, Denny's! Two plates of onion rings , a few egg, cheese and ham sandwiches and a breakfast burrito, french fries and many diet pepsi's later we kissed, laughed and parted company. It was fabulous..the kind of evening that you can only have with true comrades.

Now though, some hair of the dog is absolutely necessary so it's time for a Bloody Mary. I make mine with clam juice, tomato juice, some Penzeys crab seasoning a bit of brown sugar, fresh horseradish, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of celery salt, garlic, minced onion and a really good dill pickle spear and oh yes..some Bakon vodka. Pour all the ingredients over ice, stir with the pickle and add two strips of smoky , thick bacon, a skewer of smoked mussels and lay back under the covers with some cucumber slices over your eyes and the covers pulled high.

So what's your favorite hangover remedy? Leave it for me in the comments and I'll send you my favorite bloody mary spice mix and a few scented surprises!

Happy Foodie Sunday my friends…Enjoy the sunshine and the Bloody Mary's. You don't need a hangover, but it helps:)

Photo of sushi bar from
Photo of Bakon Vodka from Bakon Vodka

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Friday, March 09, 2012

So Montale Walks Into a Tiki Bar: Chypré Fruité, Mango Manga and Vanille Absolu

By Donna

The house of Montale is so well known for its arsenal of oud-heavy fragrances that some of their other offerings don't get much attention. They don't always get it right when they stray too far from their tried and true formula of oud, roses, spices and woods, but many of their other fragrances are really very good, although they are rarely subtle. Let it be said that I love their approach to fragrance marketing; it's go big or go home with them, no shy or delicate perfumes (or timid customers) need apply.

Chypré Fruité has been around for a while, but it's not one that gets talked about very much. It should be, because it's not one of the sillage monsters of the line. I was expecting something brash and maybe a little crude before I first smelled it, but it's very civilized and far less obvious than Badgley Mischka, which I love and think of as the gold standard for modern fruity chypres. It does go on with an emphatic fruity beginning, but it's well embedded in a structure of bergamot, white florals, rose, moss, and patchouli. Including “tropical” fruit notes in a chypre scent could easily translate into disaster, but this works nicely. I can't say exactly which fruits are implied here; it's an abstract mélange of the kind of ideas that are usually found in the Escada annual summer launches, but with a spine this time. With some Montales, one spritz or dab is more than enough, but I can spray myself down liberally with Chypré Fruité and still go out in public. (Truth be told, I would not mind at all if it were a little more assertive, but I have Badgley Mischka for that.) After a couple of hours it settles in as a musky skin scent that lasts for hours and reveals a balmy warmth once the fruits finally fade away.

The rather strange Mango Manga is a 2010 launch that takes the fruity theme to the next level with a weird and wonderful mango reconstruction that has some of the raspiness you get when you eat a fresh mango and it stings your lips a little bit; did you know that mangoes are in the same family as poison ivy and other plants with irritating chemicals in their leaves and fruits? I think that little tingle is part of the reason I love mango so much. (Anyone who knows me well is aware that I am virtually obsessed with all things mango, edible or not.) Mango Manga has that plus the peculiar sweetness of mango and a damp, rubbery undertone that really brings to mind tropical jungle undergrowth, steamy and close. It's probably a deal-breaker for a lot of people, but I can't get enough of this oddball of a perfume. It smells like a Malaysian rubber tree plantation, or somebody's basement party room in the early Sixties with fake vinyl palm trees, music by The Ventures on the sound system, and both umbrella drinks and polyester Hawaiian shirts flowing freely. If I had a bottle of this, I would douse myself with it liberally on hot days, then put on a gaudily printed sundress and go stick my feet in an inflatable kiddie pool for the perfect summer experience.

One of Montale's stalwarts is Vanille Absolu, a heavy, boozy vanilla scent with a touch of woods and spice. I say a touch, because this is one of the most unapologetically vanilla-centric perfumes I have ever smelled, on a par with the offerings of Comptoir Sud Pacifique. It really doesn't matter what else might be in here, because it's all about the rich, dark vanilla, foody indeed, yet it's apparent that the materials are of the best quality. If it smells a lot like a freshly opened bottle of vanilla extract at first, well, it's the best vanilla extract around. There is also a distinct whiff of Captain Morgan® spiced rum because of the cinnamon and clove, and the sensory link between dark rums made from molasses and the aromatic compounds in vanilla is made clear. This type of fragrance could have been trashy and tiresome in the wrong hands, but thankfully it is an excellent composition that has legendary longevity and dries down to a creamy sweetness that's well-nigh irresistible. Of course, after a while you might end up mysteriously craving one of Trader Vic's® rum cocktails. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Montale perfumes are available at selected boutiques and department stores. Online, Chypré Fruité and Vanille Absolu are available at Luckyscent, while Mango Manga can be found at Parfums Raffy along with others in the line.

Image credit: Tropical cocktails wallpaper from

Disclosure: The perfumes reviewed in this blog post are from my own collection and from samples traded with friends.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Turtle Vetiver Front by LesNez

By Tom

One of the things that I really like about LesNez (in addition to really loving some of their work) is that they've never fallen into the trap of feeling that they have to release something on a schedule X many times a year. I always think that if one has nothing to say then don't speak.

LesNez waits until they have something to say.

Turtle Vetiver Front is a continuation of the late and much lamented Turtle Vetiver. It's a creation of Isabelle Doyen and is meant to be an "Outlaw Perfume in Progress", which means that it's a limited edition. Which I hate.

I hate that because this is a winner and deserves to stick around. Vetiver here is perfectly played: in turns smoky and warm yet crystalline and icy, and very rooty. As the scent progresses it becomes warmer and more skin-like. The lasting power is phenomenal: the scent I sprayed on in the morning was easily discernible upon waking the next am.

Frankly, it's the best vetiver I've smelled since Vero Kern's Onda, and that's saying something..

Available at the LesNez website or at LuckyScent, $120 for 50ML. My sample was sent by LesNez

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

To Boldly Go….

Mini Reviews by Marla, the Nerd Girl

First, I want to express my pride over owning Star Trek Fotonovels. They are awesome, and the cover of my favorite is gracing this article.

OK, now on to the mini-reviews. The gracious and tasteful Musette of Perfume Posse agreed to send me some samples of things I’ve been dying to try, in exchange for bits of some of the more unusual items in my international perfume collection. I’ve been having so much fun! Yes, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly, I love trying them all. Here are mini-reviews of eight.

The Good:

1. Beyond Love by Kilian: I don’t think I can call myself a tuberose-hater anymore. No, this really isn’t me, but it’s the most radiant bit of tuberose fabulosity I’ve ever smelled. Calice Becker is a Floral Goddess. Anyone who loves tuberose can buy this perfume and put it in the center of their home tuberose shrine. Incredible work!

2. L’Artisan Parfumeur Batucada: This is summer fun in a bottle. What I really like is that perfumers Karine Vinchon (French) and Elisabeth Maier (Brazilian) have created the quintessential summer beach perfume with a little (drumroll) SKANK. Yes, there is a touch of sweaty, tanned skank in the drydown of this sweet, citrusy aquatic, and that makes all the difference. It’s supposed to be about Brazil, but to me, it’s pure South Beach.

3. Tom Ford Violet Blond: The demure cousin of Amaranthine that would never make out with a mysterious stranger in a dark hallway at a party. I love it, but I’m keeping Amaranthine for evenings….

The (Maybe, Kinda, Not Sure) Bad:

4. L’Eau Serge Lutens: More wearable to me than Aqua Universalis Forte, but why do I want to smell like clean, fresh laundry on steroids? I don’t like doing the amount of laundry that I do, and this perfume gives me nightmares about Zombie Laundry, coming alive, climbing the stairs to get me at night….

5. Bond No. 9 High Line: Sweet greens without the skank. Very similar to Batucada, but without the fun. Pleasant to wear, no complaints, but why bother?

And the Ugly:

6. Le Labo Gaiac 10: I barely smell anything, and what I do smell, briefly, is distinctly unpleasant. No creativity, no artistry, but it costs mucho. Yuck!

7. L’Artisan Mon Numero 10- And who cursed the number 10? Was it IFRA?? This is a not-so-charming mix of apothecary herbs, old wax, and horse liniment. Nice for a barn ambience spray, but not for people. A million light-years from Mon Numero 1, the tap-dancing pear and mimosa, and my favorite of the series.

8. Chloe EdP Rose Edition- Truly the Worst of the Worst. I wouldn’t put a sheet of this in with my laundry. Then again, if it was Zombie Laundry, I would, because it would kill them.

So what have you tried lately? Please leave a comment with a one-or-two sentence Mini Review, and make me happy!

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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Russian Saturday: Chanel Bois des Iles

Флорентино Ариса сжал ее руку и наклонился поцеловать в щеку. Но она остановила его, и голос с хрипотцой прозвучал мягко:
– Не сейчас, - сказала она. - Я пахну старухой."

“Любовь во время чумы"
Гарбиэль Гарсиа Маркес

Последние пару недель я занималась тем, что пыталась собрать свои разрозненные мысли о Bois des Îles в одно целое. Мыслей оказалось много: нас с Bois des Îles связывают долгие годы неровных отношений. Я не успевала с переводом к прошлой субботе (мои извинения!). Зато в субботу я опять оказалась в Париже на блошином рынке. Мне на глаза попался флакон винтажных духов Bois des Îles. Флакон не был вскрыт, но хранился без коробки. Несмотря на отсутствие парафиновой пленки, от горлышка почти не пахло, и определить его сохранность было сложно. Зная, как плохо хранятся Шанели, я все же рискнула. Но о духах позже. Пока – об Bois des Îles из Les Exclusifs de Chanel.

В Bois des Îles мне никогда не удавалось расслышать разнообразие нот, заявленных в пирамиде. Альдегиды, которые я так люблю за умение сжимать пространство в точку, здесь не являют своих свойств. В Bois des Îles я узнаю их только по рассеянному солнечному свету в тумане. Bois des Îles пахнет июльскими бело-молочными яблоками с тонкой, как кожица, которую сдираешь языком с обожженного неба, шкуркой. Он пахнет промокшей книгой, забытой во время теплого летнего дождя на старой веранде, старой влажной древесиной: это ирисовая пудра с примесью сандалового дерева. Bois des Îles, наверное, единственный аромат, в котором я выношу ирис в таком количестве. Обычно та расслабленная меланхолия, которой ирис заражает все, к чему он прикасается, для меня невыносима.

В Bois des Îles мне всегда не хватало дна, почвы на которую можно было бы опереться ногами. Не хватало заземляющей, отрезвляющей жесткости ветивера. Я стала носить его в паре с Sycomore Chanel: Bois des Îles за уши, Sycomore на запястья. Sycomore придал Bois des Îles четкости и прозрачности, на которую аромат был способен только на сухом морозе. А где его взять в нашем климате, сухой мороз? Зато Sycomore всегда под рукой. Так я стала "глупой девушкой, смешивающей духи" (с) Ги Робер

В последние пол года Bois des Îles стал подводить меня. В нем появилась сухая горячая древесность, та самая, о которой часто пишут в ревью. И мне это не нравилось. Стало пахнуть сухим миндальным печеньем и тем, до сих пор загадочным, “gingerbread”, упоминающимся в некоторых пирамидах. И мне это нравилось еще меньше. Сначала я списала эти изменения в звучании аромата на погоду, потом на восприятие. Мне не хотелось думать, что это первые признаки необратимого изменения в химии кожи, с которым рано или поздно прийдется столкнуться:

" Флорентино Ариса внутренне содрогнулся: да, она была права, от нее пахло терпко, возрастом. Но пока добирался до главной каюты сквозь лабиринт уснувших гамаков, он утешился мыслью, что и его запах, верно, был точно таким же, только четырьмя годами старше, и она, наверное, почувствовала то же самое. Это был запах человеческих ферментов, он слышал его у своих самых старинных подруг, а они слышали этот запах у него."

Я не боюсь старости. Я боюсь лишиться привычной ольфакторной картины мира, целостностью которой я дорожу, так же, как целостностью души. Каждая переформулировка, каждая новая “рекомендация” IFRA отнимает у меня ее часть. Но когда ее отнимает собственная кожа, это по-настоящему больно. Единственный выход, который я вижу из этой ситуации: носить аромат не на коже, а на ткани. Прийдется пожертвовать чувственным сплешевым намазом, зато элегантный платочек на шее может решить сразу две проблемы: звучания парфюма и морщин. Самое время начать учиться носить шейные платки.

Мне всегда хотелось знать, какими задумывал Bois des Îles Эрнест Бо. Однажды мне уже доводилось попробовать винтажные духи, “пожиловатые”, как охарактеризовала духи их хозяйка. В них было гораздо больше альдегидов, чем в современной туалетке, больше нероли и бергамота. Эти ноты на какое время сдержали натиск, но меланхолическая ирисовая волна накрыла меня и в духах и не дала мне приблизиться к их сути. Это так в характере Bois des Îles: напускать туману.

О пожилом возрасте моих духов можно догадаться только по немного ускоренному развитию, что не характерно для этой концентрации. Ноты разворачивались быстро, как звуковая дорожка в старом кино. Духи будто спешили жить свою неожиданную вторую жизнь. В общих чертах она была похожа на жизнь своей правнучки. Зато сандал, который открылся в базе, заставил меня забыть все, что я знала о сандале. Я не знала, что сандал может звучать так мягко и объемно. Вот они, островные леса со всей своей красе: темные экзотические деревья в туманной дымке.

Bois des Îles – меланхолия во флаконе. Разве в нашей жизни есть время, когда ей можно предаваться без зазрения совести? Bois des Îles – это бездонность, бесконечное свободное падение в невесомые объятия грусти.

"Go now," she said. Florentino Ariza pressed her hand, bent toward her, and tried to kiss her on the cheek. But she refused, in her hoarse, soft voice.
"Not now," she said to him. "I smell like an old woman."

Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabruek Garcua Narquez

For a couple of past weeks I've been gathering my fragmented thoughts about Bois des Îles into one entity. It appeared to be a lot of thoughts: me and Bois des Îles have many years of an uneven relationship. I couldn't make the translation for last Saturday (sorry for that!). But on that Saturday I found myself on a flea market in Paris again. My eyes caught a flacon of a vintage Bois des Îles perfume. It hasn't been open yet, but was kept without a box. Despite the absence of paraffin film, there was no smell around the neck, so it was difficult to figure out its condition. Even knowing that Chanel scents don't withstand time well, I took the risk. But let's leave the perfume for later. And start with Bois des Îles from Les Exclusifs de Chanel.

I could never recognise the variety of notes announced in the pyramid of Bois des Îles. Aldehydes, those I adore for their ability to compress the space into a point, do not reveal their abilities here. In Bois des Îles I recognise them only by a sunlight diffused through a mist. Bois des Îles smells of June's milk-white apples with skin as thin as one that you peel of with the tongue when you burn the roof of your mouth. It smells of a wet book that was left on an old terrace during summer rain. It smells of old soaked wood: that's an iris powder with a tincture of sandalwood. Bois des Îles is, possibly, the only scent where I could stand iris in such quantity. Usually the relaxed melancholy, with which iris contaminates everything it touches, is unbearable for me.

I always missed some foundation in Bois des Îles, the soil I could stand on. I missed grounding, sober rigidness of vetiver. I started to wear it together with Sycomore Chanel: Bois des Îles behind the ears, Sycomore on wrists. Sycomore gave Bois des Îles the sharpness and transparency that the scent itself had only at dry frost. But where do you get it, the dry frost, in our climate? And Sycomore is always at hand. That's how I became a "stupid girl mixing perfumes together." (с) Guy Robert

Last half year Bois des Îles started to betray me. It revealed hot dry wood, the one that's often mentioned in reviews. And I didn't like that. It started to smell of dry almond cookies, and, until now mysterious, "gingerbread", mentioned in some pyramids. And that I liked even less. Initially I blamed these changes on weather, then on my perception. I didn't want to think that these are the first signs of inevitable changes in skin's chemistry, those you have to deal with sooner or later:

“Florentino Ariza shuddered: as she herself had said, she had the sour smell of old age. Still, as he walked to his cabin, making his way through the labyrinth of sleeping hammocks, he consoled himself with the thought that he must give off the same odour, except his was four years older, and she must have detected it on him, with the same emotion. It was the smell of human fermentation, which he had perceived in his oldest lovers and they had detected in him.”

I'm not afraid of age. I fear to loose the olfactory picture of the world I'm used to, whose integrity I esteem not less than integrity of a soul. Every re-formulation, every new "recommendation" of IFRA takes a part of it away from me. But when my own skin takes that part away, it really hurts. The only escape from this situation I see is to wear perfumes on a cloth, rather than on a skin. I'll have to sacrifice the generous splashing but instead the elegant scarf on a neck could solve two problems at once: the way the frgarance developes and wrinkled skin. Perfect time to start learning how to wear it.

I always wanted to know how Ernest Beaux conceived Bois des Îles. I already had an occasion to try vintage perfume, "oldish", as it's owner characterised it. There were much more aldehydes in it than in a modern EDT, more neroli and bergamot. For some time these notes were holding the pressure, but then melancholic iris wave overwhelmed me in
perfume as well, so I could not come closer to it's essence. To obfuscate is in the nature of Bois des Îles.

The only thing that could make you guess the mature age of the perfume I have purchased at the flea market is it's slightly accelerated development. This is not typical for such concentration. Notes unwrap fast, like a soundtrack in an old movie. It's like the perfume was in a hurry to live it's unexpected second life. In general it was similar to a life of it's great-granddaughter. But sandal that opened in a base made me forget everything I knew about sandal. I didn't know it could sound so soft and spacious. Here they are, island forests in all their beauty: dark exotic trees in a mist.

Bois des Îles is melancholy in a bottle. Is there a moment in our life when you could indulge in it without compunction? Bois des Îles is an infinite depth, an endless free fall into the embrace of melancholy.

Bois des Îles (Ernest Beaux, 1926): aldehydes, coriander, bergamot, neroli, peach, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, ylang-ylang, vetiver, sandalwood, benzoin, vanilla and musk.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Winner of the Blue Jasmine draw

is Michael. Please send us your details using the link on the right.

Vintage Eye Candy: Nuit de Noel

Images property of Perfume-Smellin' Things.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Oud Stars - New Line by Xerjoff

Xerjoff will be releasing a new line at the Esxence show in Milan. It is an extension of the "Shooting Stars Line", named "Oud Stars"

The collection of 6 scents will be based on traditional Middle Eastern oud blends. No notes are released yet, and pricing will be announced at the show.