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Thursday, May 31, 2012

MDCI Chypre Paladin

By Tom

Well, I think everyone has heard that ScentBar has moved, to a much larger location about a mile east on Beverly Blvd. It's a good thing for them: the location has more than twice the space of the old store which was, frankly, cramped. The new location also is right in the middle of a strip of shops and restaurants, so there's a lot of walk-by traffic. The old location was in a strip of Beverly that had a ramdom mix of stores selling everything from paint, fabric, furniture and tires; it was the sort of location that you went to specifically. This one many more people who'd never heard of them will wander in. So that's good.

I wandered in and immediately fell in love with the titled scent. It's a 2012 release that was concocted by Betrand Duchaufour. From Fragrantica: "Top notes are lavender, labdanum, hyacinth, galbanum, sage, clementine and aldehydes; middle notes are iris, jasmine, gardenia, rose and plum; base notes are styrax, benzoin, tolu balsam, vanilla, castoreum, leather, costus, oakmoss and immortelle."

It's all in there, and it's gorgeous. The opening has an almost swooping theatricality to it, like Haute Couture. I gasped with delight at the idea that in 2012 when we're drowning in a sea of mediocre fruitchooli that even a niche house would be daring enough to put out a scent that is this dressy. It honestly smells like something vintage. The middle calms down quite a bit, with the iris and plum softening the sharp cheekbones of the opening while the drydown is where it really becomes unisex, in the best tradition of the chypre: that Katharine Hepburn sort of way that I love. Easily the best thing I've smelled this year.

I tested at Scent Bar, but it's not up at the LuckyScent site yet, so not sure about pricing, but I am assuming it will be $250 for 50ML. Ouch.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Late Spring Allergies

By Tom

Yes, the warm weather brings the allergies, so no post for this week.

But let's talk about what we're looking forward to for the summer: scent, food, anything. I'm getting involved in a community garden project where we'll be growing vegetables for the homeless. It's in a pretty little plot on the grounds of a local park. I'm looking forward to meandering over there on Saturday mornings and doing some weeding.

I'm hoping to grow strawberries.

I guess I'll need a hat..

Photo: Internets

Of Light and Shadow: En Voyage Perfumes L’ Hombre & Lorelei (And a Prize Draw)

By Donna

The naming of fragrances is very important, but not an easy task, as any perfumer knows; first, you have to rule out anything that’s already taken, and then come up with something that fits your own vision and also gives the customer a clue as to what lies within the bottle. Perfumer Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes decided to spread out the risk and invited fragrance enthusiasts from all over the globe to submit names for her two new perfumes for spring 2012, and those who asked to be involved in the selection process received a sample of each one for testing. The masculine scent is now called L’Hombre, which is a contraction of L’homme (man) and ombre, which is French for “shadow.” The smooth, elegant and deep-voiced fragrance begins with tantalizing citrus and aged malt scotch before delving into the delicious heart of black coffee and incense. The mossy-ambery base mellowed with musk and sandalwood contains a touch of oud, the “material of the moment” in perfumery but which is not dominant in L’Hombre; rather it simply contributes to the complexity of the experience and it is definitely not an oud scent per se. It would be an ideal fragrance for someone who likes oud but does not want anything too strong, or who has never worn it before and wants to see if it works for them.

I especially enjoyed the effect of the alliance between the scotch, amber and coffee, which was done with a light hand so it is not overpowering or clichéd as in some mainstream masculines that use big synthetic woody-amber notes as a bludgeon instead of a paintbrush. There is patchouli in here too, but it’s aged, rounded and rich, and even with the addition of oud, L’Hombre is civilized enough for any occasion while still being sensual enough to draw attention to its wearer; it will be the right kind of attention, to be sure, and its tenacity ensures that it will last all day and well into the evening. And don’t worry that it’s too “manly” for a woman to wear, because it is polished enough for anyone to enjoy, without a “shadow” of doubt.

The air is cool and the twilight is falling
and the Rhine is flowing quietly by;
the top of the mountain is glittering
in the evening sun.

The loveliest maiden is sitting
up there, wondrous to tell.
Her golden jewelry sparkles
as she combs her golden hair.

-Excerpt from an English translation of “Die Lorelei” by the German poet Heinrich Heine

 I have to confess my personal bias toward Shelley’s new feminine scent, which is a lovely and transparent spring floral, for two reasons. The first is that I adored it at first sniff; my immediate thought was that someone had finally done a wisteria accord right – it’s one of my favorite floral notes, yet so elusive in perfumery that it’s virtually impossible to find. The other reason is that I have been honored to have my own submission chosen as its name, which is Lorelei. (In fact, it was the only name I submitted for this one, while I had several ideas for what became L’Hombre, none of which made the cut.) A vision of crystalline purity filled my mind as I smelled it for the first time, of delicate petals floating on a rushing stream so clear that every rock on the bottom stands out in high relief. Lorelei is the name of an actual place, an imposing cliff overlooking the Rhine River whose name means “murmuring rock” in old German, so named because of a unique sound made by the water swirling about its base, but it’s also the name given to a mythical water-sprite maiden who lures sailors to their doom on the rocks below as she sits high above the river, singing a siren song and combing her long tresses. It is this second meaning that is perhaps most familiar to most of us, and it resonated with me as an avid and lifelong lover of fairy tales and mythology. This perfume is so tenderly evocative as to seem almost otherworldly, so it just seemed like a natural choice.

Lorelei’s listed notes are deceptively simple: wisteria, violet, lilac, daffodil, jonquil and lily, all of which just happen to be things I love. The unique sweet pea and grape skin aroma of the wisteria was my first strong impression, followed by very natural-smelling violet and lilac notes and expanding into the richness of daffodils and lilies as it developed. I don’t know how this was accomplished, but it is a watery floral with no aquatic notes and none of the usual stand-ins such as lotus that perfumers use to create this effect. This is a fresh, luminous fragrance, with a feeling of light reflecting off the ripples in a babbling brook, not an ozonic nose-tickler or boneless wallpaper scent, so don’t let the “watery” tag deter you from trying it. Lorelei also has much better longevity than I expected, which was a pleasant surprise. Projection is good but it does not have the man-eating sillage or synthetic rasp of far too many conventional floral fragrances. Lorelei would be a perfect alternative to those scents for fans of fresh white florals, thanks to the high quality natural perfume essences in the formula. As an admirer of this genre, I am grateful for the talents of the independent perfumers who give us such wonderful choices beyond the mainstream offerings.

I am offering a sample of Lorelei to one lucky reader – U.S. mailing addresses only, please. If you would like to participate, please leave a comment, and if you like, please tell us which perfume you would choose to scent your own favorite myth or fairy tale!

 Image credit: Vintage “Lorelei” postcard circa 1907 via
Excerpt from the song/poem “Die Lorelei” via the Pentimento blog,
Disclosure: My samples of L’Hombre and Lorelei were given to me by Shelley Waddington for testing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Smelly Libraries (Part I)

by Marla, the Nerd Girl

 I’ve been perfume blogging for 5 years now. I think that makes me either first or at least second generation. I’ve been through all the stages of perfumistahood, and the Jaded Stage was the worst. Would I finally give up my great love, perfume? Did IFRA kill it? Did Sephora? Nah, I went DIY. I went Nerd.

 I started a scent library and grew smelly plants, and after that went on for a couple of years, I started to make my own tinctures and perfumes. ACK! I heard that at some sort of professional symposium in Paris last year (Were they snooty? Were they French?), that DIYers were derided as the scum of the perfumed earth. I’m OK with that. I’m having fun.

What’s a scent library? How do you make one? How can you, dear reader, DIY? Or, confess, are you there already, skulking about the periphery of Perfume World, growing and making fragrant things for your family and friends? (Yeah, and some stinkeroos, too, that’s part of the fun.

 I know there’s someone out there who’s quietly growing a Corpse Flower, Amorphophallus titanum, in their backyard….and it’s not me, I swear, but only because I don’t have access to a parent plant. Don’t you want to tell people at parties that you grow Amorphophalli in your backyard?? I do.

Today I’m going to write about scent libraries. In our world, we’re always talking lists of notes. Top notes, heart notes, base notes. So learning the notes is a bit like increasing your writer’s vocabulary. It’s a good idea to know what each note means, and, for the most common, what’s the difference between natural and synthetic versions. How many of us have sniffed a “peony” perfume to find it smells nothing at all like a living peony? Ditto real oakmoss and Verymoss. Both delightful, but they wouldn’t have much in common if they met for lunch.

Fortunately, it doesn’t cost much to set up a good, basic library. There are kits out there, of course, but you can build your own for less-and have more adventures. You can start by dividing your prospective purchases into favorite basenotes, heart notes, and top notes. For example, your first wish list might look like this:

1. Base-benzoin, patchouli, oakmoss
2. Heart- jasmine, rose, frankincense
3. Top- mint, verveine, mandarin

So that is the core of your newly born scent library. I recommend buying at least 1/8 oz. (about 4ml) of each substance so you have enough to play with. For rose, this will cost a bit, but for something like a mint or lemon, you might go ahead and just buy ½ oz. or more, as it’s cheap and won’t be sold in smaller quantitites.

Don’t ignore the synthetics, they are crucial for understanding modern perfumery. I’d recommend a few white musks, Ebanol or Javanol, some Ambroxan, and Iso E Super. They are ubiquitous. The strong may opt for a few aldehydes, but beware, they can overpower the rest of your library no matter how you seal them!

Here are some sources that I’ve used over the years and can recommend. I don’t receive anything free or fun from them for putting them on this list, but I wish I did.

Eden Botanicals (naturals)
Liberty Natural (naturals and raw botanicals)
Perfumer’s Apprentice (naturals and sythetics)

For storage, I like sturdy portability. The cases that I’ve been most happy with are from Butterfly Express, they’re made in the US, and extremely strong. Again, I get no kickbacks, I’m just a happy customer.  I’ve also seen models where the bottles fit upright into foam slots that fit into boxes, so I’d encourage you to think through how you store and use the bottles, then find the best storage for your actual usage. Make sure that when stored, you can see the label. It’s always best to alphabetize!

Part II will be about playing with your new collection….

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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Back To the Closet Again: Parfumerie Generale Aomassai

I promise, one of these days I'll review something new.

I've been doing some cleaning and running across decants of stuff and this was one of them. I wrote about it six years ago when I first started writing for this site (Can't imagine you haven't asked me to shut up yet..) and my scent twin had a great take on it as well.

The notes from LuckyScent are as follows: "caramel, toasted hazelnuts, licorice, bitter orange, spices, wenge wood, vetiver, balsam wood, incense, dried grasses, resins"

There is something about Aomassai that just smells wrong. Reading the notes you would think it's sweeter than it is: it's sweet, but the iris and woods cut the gourmand portion of the program considerably. What isn't listed at LuckyScent is a very human element to the scent that is that part for me that makes it so very deliciously wrong. Aomassai is Sweet and Sour Sex. While I rarely leave the house wearing it. I am the proud owner of a full bottle to back up my decant.

$105 for 50ML at LuckyScent, where I bought my bottle back in the day. My original decant came from The Perfumed Court; now available on Surrender to Chance.

Image from LuckyScent

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Everything Old is New Again: Sepia & Haute Claire by Aftelier Perfumes

By Donna

Two new fragrances from Mandy Aftel of Aftelier Perfumes have captivated me recently. The most recent launch intrigued me as soon as I learned of it because of the idea behind its creation. Mandy Aftel has long been fascinated with the old abandoned ghost towns of California, and her goal was to create a perfume that captured the essence of the dusty old buildings slowly returning to the earth and their sense of history. This concept really spoke to me, since I grew up in northern New England, where historic buildings are everywhere, and I have always loved old wooden barns, both for the way they look and their wonderful smells; the sweetness of hay and straw, an echo of the animals that once lived in them, the smell of old farm machinery, and of course the ancient wood itself, aging to silver grey and bearing witness to decades or even centuries of hard use. Sepia is a loving tribute to artifacts like these, their usefulness long gone, but still they stand and gradually wear away in the elements until their ancient beams finally give way, their shabby beauty living only in faded photographs. This is not the sort of thing that comes to mind when most people think of making a fragrance, but then Mandy is not most people.

Sepia teases the nose at first with bright notes of mandarin and grapefruit, which quickly segue into the amazingly rich aroma of blood cedar, from the heartwood of the tree. Cedar can sometimes go very wrong on my skin and get harsh and sharp, or smell like pencil shavings, but this is nothing like that; it’s nothing short of majestic in its deep and vibrant character. It then does a slow fade, but I don’t mean that in a bad way, because this perfume has really good longevity. It simply ages, just like a weathered building, but in a time-lapse span of minutes instead of years. The heart notes of florals, coffee, cocoa and strawberry act to mute the woodiness of the cedar, and then its voice is further deepened by base notes which include tobacco flower, cépes (mushroom) labdanum, ambergris, oud and indole, the latter two of which adds a truly authentic element to the fragrance, a faint aura of decay or perhaps the trace of muskiness left behind by a wild animal who found shelter in an abandoned shack. I tested the Eau de Parfum, so I can only imagine the depth of the pure perfume version. Either way it’s a wonderful fragrance for either men or women to wear.

Of course, Sepia does not actually smell like an old wooden building, it’s a real perfume, not a novelty act. However, if it did, it would be an idealized version of one, constructed from the most beautiful vintage wood and looking impossibly romantic. The best barns in the world (in my admittedly biased opinion) are in Vermont at the historic Shelburne Farms, and I have long coveted them, especially the majestic Farm Barn. Smelling Sepia, I can close my eyes and imagine I am there, with sunlight streaming in through its high windows, every inch of its elegant structure in perfect harmony with its surroundings and the sweet aromas of old wood, hay and contented animals lingering in the still air.

 I had missed out on trying Haute Claire when it was first released, but I was fascinated by the story of its development, as documented by the “Letters to a Fellow Perfumer” series hosted on Nathan Branch’s blog. (Sepia’s development was also documented in this series, with perfumer Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio.) Mandy and Liz Zorn of Soivohle Perfumes were both involved in sharing their creative process of making a perfume that contained both galbanum and ylang ylang, which was a tricky proposition as these two notes are not often found together; galbanum is sharp, green and icy cold while ylang ylang is a soft tropical floral with an almond-like sweetness. How could a wearable perfume be constructed using such disparate materials? I have not tried Liz Zorn’s fragrance, but I can attest to the fact that Mandy really pulled it off here.

Haute Claire opens with a buoyant greenness and the galbanum is immediately apparent, although not as sharp and dominant as it is in many other fragrances, and it’s joined by zesty lime and orange. There is a hint of floral sweetness which steadily unfolds until it seems that the rich, hazy ylang ylang and sweet honeysuckle is overwhelming the top notes and taking over the place. Yet there still remains an extension of the opening because of the presence of clary sage and vetiver, so the transition is seamless all the way down. I will be the first to admit that clary sage can be problematic, since I have grown it in my own garden, and its pungent herbal intensity can be a bit much in close quarters, but it is well tamed here and adds a lively character to the mix. I imagine that pairing it up with ylang ylang and the vanilla in the base was as much of a tightrope act for the perfumer as the galbanum. (Indeed, the very name of this fragrance is taken from the ancient Song of Roland, as it is the name of the sword of the character Olivier, said to have had a golden hilt embedded with crystal. This fragrance rides the fine edge of balance and makes it look easy, though surely it was not.)

Haute Claire has amazing tenacity too, and it’s still going strong twelve or more hours later, by which time the rich vanilla and floral notes have become as one, lightly leavened with vetiver and fused to the skin. At this point it seems a shame to have to bathe and take it off since it is so beautiful in the far drydown, so the only sensible thing to do is apply it again the next day and repeat the process.

Image credit: the beautiful Farm Barn complex at Shelburne Farms in Shelburne, Vermont via origamidon’s flickr photostream by Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

Disclosure: The perfumes samples were sent to me for testing at my request by Mandy Aftel. The fragrances are available for purchase at .

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Foodie Sunday: Happy Mothers Day and a yummy prize draw!

By Beth

Today I’m thinking about my mother, who died three years ago but is still very present in almost everything I do. I hear her voice when I’m cooking and can’t find the right spices and I cook her specialties regularly. I totally miss her mashed potatoes, a secret that she took with her to great test kitchen in the sky. She was a really great cook , nothing fancy, just simply gorgeous food and she WAS the Barefoot Contessa long before Ina Garten even thought about picking up a chefs knife. She could throw a party for 50 without a fuss. My mom was a working woman but it was her way to have dinner every night at the dinner table, with candles, wine and cloth napkins. By the way did you know that if you want to use clothnapkins but dread ironing them that all you need is a brick? This was one of my mothers best tricks…she kept a brick right by her dryer and when the napkins came out she’d fold them while still warm, stack them and then place the brick on top leaving her with perfectly pressed, ready to use napkins at anytime!

My mother is the reason that I can cook and I loved watching her in the kitchen. She could throw a dinner party on a moments notice because she was always prepared to entertain. She had one part of her freezer and pantry stocked especially for such occasions and always kept her bar ready for drop- in guests. I still do too because you never know who’s coming through the door and for me just like my mother before me, Food= Love. She taught me that entertaining well didn’t have to do with how grand a spread you put out, but everything to do with how welcome you make your guests feel. A wedge of runny Brie with some crackers and a tin of smoked oysters and a bowl of camponata were her staples, she always had them around as well as a loaf of thin white Pepperidge Farm tea sandwich bread. A simple tomato bisque, usually from a can, enriched with a touch of cream, flavored with sherry and served in her mothers demitasse cups, became another great conversation starter. When you have an entire roomful of people who don't really know each other well, talking about the different cup patterns really does work as an ice breaker!

She also always kept a bag of frozen shrimp which she could thaw in an instant. Take those shrimp, mix them up with about 1Ž2 a cup of Hellmans mayonnaise and a 1Ž2 a cup of sour cream, add about 5 tablespoons of chopped fresh chives and season with cayenne, Worcestershire sauce and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir and serve with little forks or toothpicks and buttered toast points. Those 5 things, arranged graciously and set on her coffee table with pretty little plates a good bottle of wine or champagne and a vase of flowers were simple, delicious and satisfying. If you don’t have flowers, walk out into the garden , scoop up a few posies that you’ve planted dirt and all and repot them in some pretty tea cups. I promise that they’ll never notice that they’ve been gone for the short time that you’ll have them inside!

When I’m teaching people to plan simple parties I always encourage them to have a signature cocktail that they can throw together at the drop of a hat. Mine is a delicious mixture of things that I always have around, lemon soda, Crème de violette (this is succulent heady stuff all you perfumistas!), limoncello, citron vodka, peach bitters and blackberries, fresh when in season, frozen when not! Just take a tall glass, fill with ice and a few of the blackberries. Then pour a jigger of citron vodka into it, and a tablespoon each of the crème de violette and limoncello. Top off with the lemon soda, a dash of the blood orange bitters and garnish with some fresh thai basil. That’s all! A signature drink that you can whip up in an instant kicks off the conversation on a surprise evening beautifully!

I guess that I’m saying all of this because to me it’s more important with whom you’re eating than what you’re eating and I want you to always feel comfortable having people in your home and enjoying their company. My mother had tricks that made it easy to entertain well and she was always prepared to use them. I think that we miss a lot of opportunities for relatedness because we’re so concerned more with what it looks like instead of simply just enjoying ourselves and life’s just too short. The world is spinning faster than ever before and now more than ever we need to sit down , break some bread together, drink some good wine and really talk about what matters. Don’t be intimidated, just try it! Trader Joe's is a great source for appetizers that you can keep in your freezer and serve at a moments notice. Go to TJ Maxx and get a few good glasses, some pretty little plates and some napkins. Keep it all in a special place and don’t touch it except for occasions like these. You’ll thank me, I promise.

Happy Mothers Day to you wherever you are and whomever your with. All of us are mothers to something or someone. If you’ve ever given birth to a great idea, or a project you’re a mother. If you’re gay and you have a child , you’re a mother. If you’ve got a dog, cat or even a chicken you’re a mother. You don’t need a uterus to be celebrated today, just a whole lot of love.

I love you all and hope that you have a wonderful Mothers Day! How are you going to celebrate it? Send me your signature cocktail recipe in the comments and I'll choose my favorite and send the lucky winner a bottle of my favorite blood orange bitters!

Photo of Crème De Violette from
Photo of Camponata from
Photo of Family from source unknown

Russian Saturday: Cuir de Russie Сhanel

By Alena

У кожаных ароматов очень широкий диапазон с двумя противоположностями на краях спектра: интеллектуальным и чувственным. Cuir de Russie Сhanel в разных концентрациях воплощает обе этих ипостаси. Из туалетной воды с годами чувственность испарилась.  В сухом остатке остались лишь страницы трудовой биографии. Русская кожа в духах – это фильм длиною в жизнь, лента ольфакторных кодов, разворачивающаяся во времени. Кадр за кадром.

Шитьем на туфельках из тончайшей кожи золотая нить фледоранжа сплетается с серебряной нитью бергамота.  Это туфли девочки, которая только учится ходить.  Кожа мягкая, светлая,  пахнет нежно и сладковато. Альдегиды на этой стадии едва узнаваемы. Нельзя ожидать от ребенка стройности походки.

Шаги становятся все уверенней, у туфель появляется небольшой каблук. Кожа становится плотнее, ровно настолько, чтобы держать форму. Куда она ходит в этих туфлях? Может быть даже на работу. Мы этого никогда не узнаем. Но это не так уж и важно. Главное не куда она ходит, а как: в аромате дорогого мыла и цветов, сдержанных, как и чувства, которые она демонстрирует на публике. От Русской кожи мне всегда хочется немного больше цветов.

Ослаблена узда, задернуты шторы. Руки слегка пахнут кожей брошенных на комод перчаток, следами розы, иланга и ириса и чем-то неопределенным, бесконечно нежным, чувственным.  Сuir de Russie  обладают удивительной протяженностью.  Духи лучше наносить рано утром, чтобы не обрывать их на середине повествования вечерним душем. А им есть что рассказать!

Leather scents form quite a wide range, with two opposites at the opposite ends of the spectrum: intellectual and sensual. Cuir de Russie Сhanel in different concentrations embodies both of these hypostasis. Over the years sensuality evaporated off the EDT. The dry residue contains only pages of its old bio. Cuir de Russie in perfume is a lifelong movie, a tape of olfactory codes, unwinding over time. Scene after scene.

The golden thread of fleur d'orange intertwines with a silver thread of bergamot like an embroidery on shoes made of the finest leather. These shoes belong to a girl who is just learning to walk. Leather is soft, light,
and smells gently and sweet. Aldehydes at this stage are barely recognizable. You cannot expect the harmony of gait from a child.

Steps become more confident, shoes acquire a small heel. The leather becomes denser, just enough to keep up the shape. Where does she walks in these shoes? Maybe even to work. We will never know. But this isn't
that important. What important is not where does she walk, but how: in an aroma of an expensive soap and flowers, restrained, as are the emotions she shows in public. From Cuir de Russie I always want a little more flowers.

The bridle is loosened, curtains are drawn. Hands smell slightly of leather gloves thrown on a commode, traces of rose, ylang and iris, and something uncertain, indefinitely delicate and sensual. Cuir de Russie possesses a surprisingly long extent. The perfume is better to be applied early in the morning, so as not to break its story in the middle by the evening shower. And it definitely has a story to tell!

Cuir de Russie Сhanel (Ernest Beaux, 1924/Jacques Polge, 1983): orange blossom, bergamot, mandarin, sage, iris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, cedarwood, vetiver, styrax, leather, amber and vanilla.

Vintage ad is from Votre Beauté, november 1936

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Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Back to the Closet: LesNez L'Antimatière

Okay, I know I'm being lazy. But I am also not very neat: I have a tendency to put things someplace and think I'll remember where I did, then never do. I've lost drivers licenses, credit cards and letters. The other day in a closet I found a bag with some bottles of scent that I had stashed away when I must have been drunk or cleaning or something. In it was L'Antimatière which I immediately and liberally spritzed.

Back in the day I wrote: "On me, the first spritz is the strong smell of Vodka. Potato Vodka to be exact. As soon as it dries, I get the barest whiff of fresh mint. Slowly it starts to dry to the scent of fresh clean sheets. I never thought I'd like to smell like fresh clean sheets, but oddly, I do. These remind me sheets hurriedly taken off the line ahead of a summer storm; there's ozone, but it's not the dreaded aquatic. (Do any of you also have the almost insuperable desire to jump in and roll round a freshly made bed? Or am I the only nut here?)

Slowly, amber starts to sneak in: an oddly cool one(perhaps it's the mint). It's the antithesis of Ambre Sultan's resinous heat, but just as wonderful. Finally there's the barest hint of something like musk: but dusty, not animal. I could recognise it, but not place it. Finally on a hunch I went into my bedroom and sniffed the satin-trimmed wool blanket I got at Saks on sale a few years ago: Voila! Fresh linens and the ever-so-slightly musty smell of wool blankets.

Well, I still love it. It's arguably the ultimate comfort scent. It's like wearing your boyfriends sweater while it still has some of his scent on it. It's not even terribly pricey at $105 for 50ML.  At LuckyScent, which is where I purchased.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Spring Favorites 2012

"and it's spring
when the world is puddle-wonderful"
and we have a list of favorites
share yours with us!

Oh my dears I am so predictable… mind wants to swing out there and write brilliant prose about some exquisite new scent and make your necks and senses tingle with flowery statements of orgasmic olfactory bliss the likes of which you've never experienced before! I can't though, because once again it's spring, the ethereal white lilies are beginning to bloom and my heart can never stray far from my beloved Diorissimo . Not much could be written about this beauty that hasn't already been said throughout the ages in one way or another, but for me it remains the only thing that I want to wear when the breezes turn soft and fresh. I buy a new bottle every year to herald the greening of spring and this year I did notice a return to something…I don't know if there's been yet another reformulation, but this new bottle of Eau de Parfum seems more as I remember it, a bit sweeter, a little more true to it's roots. Regardless of that , every spray brings me pleasure and makes me want to put on a pair of fishnet stockings, a short short skirt and a beret! I can't imagine cavorting with any other during the merry month of May! Diorissimo is like a fabulous "Same time next year" love affair… never disappoints and never fails to make my husband smile, so tell me why would I ever choose another?

Spring fragrances are some of my favorites, since I love florals so much, and there is no shortage of them in my collection. Spring florals are special; they have to be fresh, lilting and attuned to the season. There will be a number of these lovelies in heavy rotation during the height of spring, but two that will be getting a lot of attention from me are both from DSH Perfumes; the elegant, cool green floral chypre Vert pour Madame and the ethereally beautiful 1,000 Lilies. Both of them could have been made just for me, they are so close to my ideal of what a fragrance should be. Vert pour Madame smells like a great vintage classic, and 1,000 Lilies could not be more appealing to a green floral fan like me. Speaking of which, I have been waiting all winter to break out my Guerlain Chamade, a rich floral scent with a most delightful hyacinth character, and what could be better than that for the season?

This time I decided to go with something I discovered locally. It's called Fleur d'Oranger by Ablu. Ablu is a small company based in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, that makes natural fragrances and soaps and lotions (and related products). Fleur d'Oranger is my favorite with a strong orange component mingled with neroli flower. It is extremely long lasting for a natural fragrance. I even detect hints of ambergris in the dry down. They can be reached at or even better, visit them when you are in San Miguel.

Mine is an old favorite: Bvlgari's Voile de Jasmin. It is quintessentially springlike in its cascade of tenderest blossoms of jasmine, orange, and mimosa - a soft aura of fragile petals. Anyone looking for naughty jasmine will be disappointed. This is a virginal, pretty, girly fragrance that would be suitable for a bride. It is also sweetly sentimental for me, as I got my bottle while on an uncharacteristically luxurious anniversary cruise. I just keep reaching for the bottle over and over this spring.

This season the scent I've enjoyed most is SMK Fragrance's Orris Civet blend. Usually I think of iris as being very austere and cool, but in this all natural composition the iris note, culled from high quality orris butter, is festooned with a charming and light-hearted violet delicacy. The real shocker is the civet. When smelled "raw" civet is so fecal that the only place I'd feel comfortable wearing it is in a tannery. Surprisingly, when blended with orris its naughty skankiness is balanced with a powdery, vanillic softness that adds a halo of child-like innocence, making this all natural blend as surprising as it is approachable and irresistible.

This spring my heart beat surrender to the classic Guerlains. It beats the most intenesly to Chamade. Green, slightly bitter and seemingly unyielding, it hides deep, deep...very deep down inside the sweetness and the warmth of a loving caress like a chilly spring day hides a promise of summer heat. But Chamade will only reveal its soft side to the one it loves back. To those it doesn't, it would never, never, never, never give up.

I've been enjoying two perfumes that play on the opposites of Spring on a Sand Dune. Shiseido's Koto, with its cool, quiet demeanor and touch of icy detachment works beautifully on the hot, humid days when anything warm would be stifling. And By Kilian's Amber Oud by Calice Becker, cuddly and warm, but also soft and gauzy, for the cold winds that blow from the North occasionally in April.

My favorite spring scent this year is something I had in the closet: Frederic Malle French Lover. I bought it when I was flush and had it shipped from France so I could have the "French Lover" name, since I think Bois d'Orage (what they sell it under in the states) is just silly, and the American translation "Thunder Woods" reads like a porn star. In any case, it's a beautifully done scent, green with galbanum and vetiver and grounded with cedar and warmed with spice. There's something square-jawed about it's clean green-ness that's fairly spring-like but add a little bit of dressiness to my day, when I'm not a dressy person. Not showy; it's a stainless-steel Rolex of a scent. I feel dressed up in it, even in jeans and topsiders.

Please check out the other participating blogs: Bois de Jasmine, Perfume Posse, Grain de Musc and Now Smell This.

Photo, Spring on 63rd, is by Marina, all rights reserved.


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Etat Libre d'Orange Fils de Dieu

By Tom

Etat Libre is a house that has grown on me over the years. They started out with ones that I liked but never quite fell for, like Rien, They added ones that I really, really liked, such as Like This. They always come about thisclose to getting me but somehow I just never quite go all the way. On the Posse I reviewed one that I really liked, but didn't quite get me there either: Bijou Romantique.

I think Fils de Dieu might have gotten me there.

It also opens with bright bergamot (what doesn't these days?) this time with ginger. It adds coconut and cardamom, but somehow never becomes foody.  It also doesn't become "beachy" in the Coppertone way that coconut can sometimes go. The white flowers (roses and jamine) in the middle are interestingly paired with discernibly starchy rice note. Then at the end of it it adds in leather and musk at the base.

I appreciated Bijou.  I think I'm purchasing Fils de Dieu..

$80 for 50ML at LuckyScent, where I asked for and received the sample