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Thursday, June 27, 2013

College-themed Perfumes

By Tom

Yes, you read it correctly. On the way home from running errands I was listening to an NPR story about various universities that are now offering colognes and perfumes for their Alumni/ae (or maybe people who want to seem like they are). I can't find the link to the original story, but there are articles about the scent for Notre Dame and Texas A&M.

I don't know about this. I mean, yes, they've done scents for car companies, cities and celebs and some of them even have been successful. I guess it only makes sense that if you're such a hardcore Sun Devil fan or Bucky Badger devotee you might pop the $60. But one of my besties is a hardcore Trojan; she has the USC watch, the car magnet and even Trojan floor mats in her SRX. I don't know that she'd be spritzing herself with "Trojan Woman" any time soon.

I guess the publicity was more than the company that produces them could handle- you get a "bandwidth limit exceeded" as of today, Tuesday the 25th ay the company website. Their FaceBook page gives some info here.

So I attended the University of Massachusetts. I don't know what "Minutemen" might smell like. Lilac? Lily of the Valley? Apple? Cider donuts? A greasy omelet from the Red Lion after an evening of too many Rolling Rocks at Sylvester's?

What would your school fragrance smell like?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Not Quite Foodie Sunday ! ~ Finding Your Signature Scent!

Writers Note: I realize that many reading this blog already understand the nuances of choosing a wonderful perfume for themselves. I was writing my normal Foodie Sunday, yet for some reason this wanted to be written instead. Perhaps this means that there are many more who are just beginning to discover our extraordinary world of scent. If that's you and you're reading this now, I wrote it especially for you! This is a lovely fragrant world that you've begun to explore, so have fun, sniff lots and don't be afraid to ask us questions. That's what  this blog is here for and all of us who write for it love to share our knowledge and our obsessions! ~ Beth Schreibman Gehring

I adore perfume and I always have. By the time that I was 17, I'd amassed a collection of such enormous proportions that I needed a separate shelf in my bathroom closet for all of the bottles.    When I began to write, it came as no surprise that I started hanging out on perfume blogs  and was so incredibly flattered when Marina asking me to take a stab at writing for Perfume Smellin Things.  Because of this I quite frequently get requests to do one of my favorite things which is to help someone pick a signature fragrance for themselves.  It's amazing to me still how a new fragrance can delight and enhance your mood in so many unexpected ways. What's always surprising to me though is how difficult it is for most people to do this. I think that this is because  glossy  pictures in magazines do their job so well. We've all been there looking at the beautiful woman draped in an evening gown with a beautiful man looking hungrily after her and proclaiming her his "Obsession". Then we buy it , wear it and wonder why it doesn't make us feel the way that we thought that it would. Perfume is not one size fits all. We each have a different body chemistry, but more importantly we all have a different emotional chemistry, a fragrance template which I can discover fairly easily when working with a client by asking them a series of questions and then taking them shopping.  I really love my job!

For example, there are some types of fragrances that I always love, regardless of how many different variations of them appear over the years. Yves St. Laurent's fairly irrepressible scent "Paris" is one of them and Christian Dior's classic perfume "Diorissimo" and Robert Piguet's "Fracas" are the others. All  three of these perfumes are warm sunny fragrances filled with fleshy white flowers, woods, enhanced with a bit of spice and herbal notes. All three are very appropriate fragrances for a lot of different occasions, whether they be a wedding or an afternoon tea, or even a casual morning strolling down 5th Avenue or along a sunny California beach with my husband. All three of these perfumes  can be worn with cashmere and pearls or a very bohemian bit of velvet, denim or lace. None of them are officious or overbearing, just fun and sweet enough to be extraordinarily flirtatious and yet without pretense. 

These scents completely fit my personal fragrance profile, but I had to sniff through quite a lot of different perfumes to discover them which of course was very pleasurable!  I'm a woman who loves to have fun, but wants to keep it simple. My idea of a perfect date with my husband is a tandem bike ride along the towpath in the Cuyahoga valley in the spring when the wild violets are blooming. Bring a picnic, a jam-box  wireless speaker and the iPhone with my favorite Debussy in the mix and I'm one very happy wife. I love wonderful fresh food and gorgeous things but I don't want to feel uncomfortable at the table so instead of a really fancy restaurant I'd always prefer a convivial bistro atmosphere with great wine, flowers and plenty of good conversation. I'd much rather sit on the lawn with a picnic at Blossom than the pavilion. My favorite colors are earthy herbal greens, brownish pinks, soft lavenders and cream mixed with a splash of warm corals and turquoise. If I had to choose a favorite painter it would be a toss-up between Monet and Gauguin. I'm completely captivated by the seasons of spring and autumn . I think that it's easy to see how the three fragrances that I've mentioned can fit within this profile and because I've discovered what really works for me, I've stopped making expensive mistakes based upon a visual response to a bottle or an advertisement.

Know that when you are shopping for a new perfume, the two biggest mistakes that most people will make is to pay attention to the cost of the perfume and what we call the fragrance pyramid, which is the list of ingredients from the opening notes, through the middle or "the heart" and then on to the base.  Most of the sales associates who sell perfume rely on the pyramids  too much . It's a bit like reading a recipe but not allowing for alchemy…that bit of magic that happens when the scent meets the skin or a glorious white truffle meets the skill of a very fine chef! When I take a client scent shopping, we spend a lot of time talking about all of the things that I've mentioned and then we begin; first by smelling certain families of fragrance on the paper sticks so I can see their subtle (or sometimes not so subtle!) responses and then we begin to slowly narrow it down, eventually getting to one or two choices that bring smiles and a resounding " Oh my god..that's exactly what I wanted and I wouldn't have chosen this on my own! " It's akin to placing your hair in the hands of a very skilled colorist who looks at your coloring, lifestyle and the way that you dress and then gives you a result that everyone thinks is your natural color! 

You don't notice that you're wearing perfume and no one else should either. The right scent enhances  and it should whisper  "come hither"  but not scream "HEY LOOK AT ME !"  A perfumes silage or more simply put, the trail that a too strong or completely wrong scent leaves in its wake is more than a little unnerving because our sense of smell is the most primal way that we know someone. It's instantaneous without you being truly aware of it. We make snap decisions about someone without knowing it and this is usually why.

With that thought in mind, I'd encourage you to notice how a fragrance makes you feel and the descriptives that come into your mind when you smell it. One of the most famous and notorious perfumes of the 80's "Opium" by Yves St. Laurent smelled absolutely wonderful on me at the time and now it has no place in my life because I'm just not that woman anymore. We outgrow fragrance, just like we outgrow certain friends or fashions. Perfume is one of the most  intimate of  fashion statements and it goes without saying that it should please you personally and if it doesn't provoke an inner giggle every time you put it on then give it a good home with someone else who will love it. If you wear a fragrance for the sake of simply wearing the newest or most expensive you're cheating yourself of one of life's loveliest experiences. Expensive doesn't always equal beautiful. One of my springtime "go tos" is a lovely little twenty dollar bottle of perfume by Pacifica; a soliflore (single flower) called "French Lilac".  It smells just like an old fashioned bouquet of lilacs. I love it and because it is so reasonably priced I can blow through the bottle with frivolous abandon. It totally fits my profile.

You'll know when you've gotten it right because the scent will seem to become almost  a part of you. It will blend beautifully with your energy and you will wear it , instead of allowing it to wear you. Please note that the same goes for home scents and often when  I'm helping someone select a perfume, we choose the home fragrances, candles and reed diffusers that can compliment  the perfume that we end up with. I have many candles around my house that pull out different components of the perfumes that I love so that I always have a symphony of fragrance, almost like a beautifully layered wardrobe where many pieces compliment each other when worn together in many different ways. Herbal scents in the kitchen, tuberose and jasmine in the bathroom, gardenia and lily in the bedrooms and a tobacco and vanillin scent in the living room.  They blend beautifully without being overbearing. 

So don't be nervous and instead have fun selecting a fragrance that's just right for you, making sure to take plenty of time to sniff outside of the box because that's where the fun begins! When you're wearing the right perfume/s they will make sense to you and everyone around you. This is where the old dictum "To thine own self be true" should seriously come into play. There's a whole huge world of gorgeous fragrance to explore so have fun with them all, listen to your nose as well as your heart and I promise that you'll find just the right one for you! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me..

By Tom

Today is my Birthday. (okay, the day I am writing this isn't but the day this appears is.) So I am taking a day off. All right a week. Here's a question, what would your fantasy birthday gift be? A really delicious cake like the one pictured and three hours alone in a room? A scent? A sporty convertible? Lotto winnings (I'm hoping for that! I can buy the rest with the lotto winnings..)

Let me know in the comments.

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

From a Deeper Well: Zelda by En Voyage Perfumes

By Donna

 I was ready for love, I was ready for the money
Ready for the blood and ready for the honey
Ready for the winnin', ready for the bell
Lookin' for the water from a deeper well

I found some love and I found some money
Found that blood would drip from the honey
Found I had a thirst that I could not quell
Lookin' for the water from a deeper well

Well I did it for kicks and I did it for faith
I did it for lust and I did it for hate
I did it for need and I did it for love
Addiction stayed on tight like a glove

So I ran with the moon and I ran with the night
And the three of us were a terrible sight
Nipple to the bottle to the gun to the cell
To the bottom of a hole of a deeper well

Perfumer Shelley Waddington of En Voyage Perfumes has a very modern sensibility when it comes to her creations, so it was a bit of a shock to try Zelda, the new oriental fragrance she made in homage to Zelda Fitzgerald and her tumultuous life in the Jazz Age. It strikes a deeper, darker chord than any of her other compositions, and I thought I was smelling a classic vintage perfume, the kind they really don't make anymore. Considering that many perfumery materials from decades ago are simply not available today, this feat is even more improbable. My first impression of Zelda was right on the money; after several wearing I can state with confidence that this is an instant classic that can take its place among the best of today's niche and artisan offerings. This is the kind of scent that used to be made by the major houses as a matter of course - a complex, disturbing and fascinating beauty that is clearly intended for adults to wear. Why the fragrance industry at large has apparently decided that we no longer want these is a mystery, but we are lucky to have independent artisan perfumers who know better.

Zelda kicks off with one of the best top note accords I have experienced in some time, an exhilarating blend of bergamot, galbanum, aged bourbon and zesty spices. I love the astringent green of galbanum, and this treatment of it is masterful indeed. The combination of the green and spicy-sweet notes reminds me of what Coty's marvelous and original Emeraude must have been before it was so sadly cheapened over time; it has some of that weirdly addictive “mint and root beer” character that distinguished Emeraude from all other perfumes. Zelda takes another path to achieve a similar effect, and it's just as impressive if not more so.

The florals in Zelda are especially enjoyable for a vintage lover like me – they are not done in the current style of photo-realistic “fresh and clean” florals. No, the languid magnolia, May rose and other garden blossoms are from another time, sweet, rich, honeyed and seductive in the grand manner of Emeraude, Blanchard's Jealousy or Charbert's Breathless, to name just a few vintage greats. They are caught at the moment of full bloom, just before the descent into decay and then actually going over that edge, which results in yet another interesting facet to the perfume. Nothing is innocent or pristine in this fragrance, and that's a great part of its charm.

It may be hard to believe, but there was a time when I did not wear orientals, thinking them to be too heavy and cloying for my taste. I am very happy that I expanded my horizons and discovered the wonderful world of this genre, the sexiest of all perfume families; now I can't imagine missing out on something like this. Zelda's base is profound and intense, intended partly as a nod to the darkness that overtook its namesake's life near its tragic end, but oh, is it beautiful! Amber, vintage musks, vanilla, delicious balsams, sandalwood, vetiver, cedarwood, and oakmoss all work together to become more than the sum of their parts, an alchemy rarely encountered in the spare compositions of the post-IFRA world. Zelda just gets better and better on skin over time, inviting the wearer and those fortunate enough to be close by to inhale its shimmering tapestry of interwoven notes over and over again. A strong yet velvet-smooth animalic undercurrent makes it even more magnetic. This is the mark of a great fragrance – the nose never tires of it, but dives into its depths again and again, unable to resist, each time finding more and different sensations of pleasure. Its voice is throaty and deep, a love call that cannot be denied, creating a longing that only more of it can fulfill. It lingers for many hours and fades slowly, enchanting to the end. I predict that Zelda is going to end up on a lot of “best of” lists at the end of the year; it will most certainly be on mine.

Image credit: “Enchanted Well” by Inês Cardoso on via Creative Commons License, some rights reserved.
Disclosure: My review was based on a sample given to me by En Voyage Perfumes.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Just a Short Note

By Tom

This is still Marina's blog, but I am going to go ahead and speak for all of us. We love that people take the time to come here and read out ramblings about the subject we all love. We love it even more when you take the time to go through the purgatory that is typing in the "prove you're not a robot" to leave us a comment. That is, unless you're doing so to promote your site or store, especially when it's obvious that you did not bother to add to the discussion before doing so. We don't crash your dinner party to sell Tupperware, do we? So don't so it here.

Such comments are almost immediately marked as spam and deleted.

If you really want to promote your business, especially if you're creating a product, we would be happy to try it. If we like it, you get an honest review. Which is a lot better than a comment that will be deleted 20 minutes after you post it, isn't it?

Tom (for the gang)

Image: Internets

Scents of Summer

By Tom

Well, I'm a week late with talking about the summer scents that I'm looking forward to; chalk it up to lazy summer-ness..

I've talked about some of these before Aqua di Parma, Eau de Sud and Hadrien, and Hermès Eau d'Orange Vert. I've also talked about the one I'm really looking forward to wearing: Frederic Malle's French Lover. French Lover is a green, green, green rooty scent that was created to "attempt to create the ultimate man’s scent." It's all green roots and  smoky woods and a final clean muskiness. It's a very patrician smelling thing- it makes me think that if Cary Grant were somehow alive and 35 years old this is what he'd be wearing.

What are reaching for for summer (winter if you're below the equator?) Let us know in the comments.

French Lover is called Bois d'Orage in the US because apparently they thought we wouldn't get the joke. So we get the name that sounds translated like a porn star (Thunder Woods). It's available at Barneys in several sizes. Mine is from my bottle.

Image: Wikipedia

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Thursday, June 06, 2013

Off Topic: Roses

By Tom

I love roses. Not usually in perfume since I think it's oddly one of the most difficult one to do well. There are a couple out there that do get it right: Mona Di Orio's gorgeous Rose Etoile de Hollande is one, Serge Lutens Rose de Nuit and La Fille de Berlin are a couple of others (see, I got perfume in there!) But mostly I like the flower itself.

But mostly I like the flower. When my friend Sue lived in LA she was an avid rose grower. Her driveway was lined with them. I haven't been there since she moved, but I assume they're still there. The rose in the picture is from one of the blocks in Beverly Gardens Park and is a Gemini rose. Which, since this is June and my birth month I think is apt. This garden was designed by rose expert Dr. Tommy Cairns, who will be a judge in the 2014 Rose Parade.

I met Dr. Cairns because of a project I volunteered for. In January of 2014 the city of Beverly Hills will be 100 years old. The city is celebrating in a number of ways and one of them is to have a rose named after it. Dr. Cairns walked us through the project and helped us select where the garden will be.

Dr. Cairns came up with 5 finalists that would be good in our soil and give good color. It had been decided that we didn't want white and we didn't want too dark, so the choices were in the range of yellow to peach. The one that won out was the dark peachy-pink one, a floribunda (multiple blooms like the pictured Gemini). The reason I liked it was that it had the most petals and is almost the color of the Beverly Hills Hotel and the bed is going to be in the park right across the street. They will be in the center planters in the picture below.

I think it will be gorgeous. I will be started soon so that the 200 plants will have a chance to go through several bloom cycles before it's formally dedicated as the "Beverly Hills Centennial" rose next April.

Oh, and of course it does smell. Dr. Cairns was nice enough to take my suggestion- all the ones he brought to the table had a scent. This is a spicy one. Yay! I love the scent of roses en masse and will be looking forward to spending some time in this park reading when it's in bloom.

The other part of the committee is selecting a centennial tree. We wanted one that would last at least until the next centennial. We chose a Moreton Bay Fig. It was a no-brainer; they're a beautiful tree, and it will be a twin to the one that was planted when the city was founded. It will be in Beverly Gardens Park diagonally across from City Hall.

So, do you like roses? Tea rose or floribunda? Single color or bi-color? What color? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of Gemini Rose from my iPhone
Photo of Will Rogers Memorial Park from the City website