Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Perfume Review: Potter & Moore Fragrances
I have not heard about Potter & Moore until BeautyHabit began carrying their line of fragrances, candles and bath and body products, and yet the company has supposedly been in business since 1749! John Potter and William Moore started as "physic gardeners" cultivating herbs and flowers, with lavender as their speciality. The recently launched new English Classics range was meant to celebrate Potter and Moore's "tradition of natural fragrance blending" and to represent "the romance and charm of British cottage industry".
The company invites the wearer to establish his or her own "daily signature scent ritual":
Light a Potter and Moore Candle ($36.00/200g) in your favourite scent and indulge yourself with a softly scented bath with Potter and Moore Bathing Milk ($36.00/175ml) with aloe vera to smooth your skin.Today I am reviewing the Eaux de Toilette.
Bergamot & Green Ginger. "A fragrance to give you confidence and poise." Bergamot & Green Ginger is a fragrance that appears to be refreshingly simple, a harmonious, straightforward, smooth composition with bergamot in the leading role. It starts with the lively, bright bergamot note spiced up by ginger, and that core accord will last troughout the scent's development, however, at various stages of the fragrance's progress on my skin, I smell flowers: a little bit of lilac in the beginning, quite a lot of jasmine in the middle and plenty of delicate roses. The rose note is particularly strong, a gently-sweet, juicy rose that should make this scent very atractive to the fans of such perfumes are Rosine Une Zest de Rose, Flowerbelle Rouse and Parfums 06130 Yuzu Rouge. Pretty, fresh, very summery, Bergamot & Green Ginger should be delightful in hot weather.
Lavender & Italian Lemon. "A fragrance to add to the charm of life." Lavender & Italian Lemon seems to me to be a take on a traditional Eau de Cologne theme, with a spiky, herbal twist of lavender. Lavender greets the wearer in the beginning of the scent, it is a cool, airy note, bracing but not harsh. After a while, lemon and neroli become apparent, and lavender not so much disappears - no, it stays perceptible till the very end- as loses some of its bright edge and becomes softer. The three notes are more or less all I smell in the fragrance. Lavender & Italian Lemon is very pleasant, soothing and refreshing. Because of the abundance of citrus and citrus-floral notes, it would perhaps be more attractive for the lovers of eau de cologne genre rather than the connoisseurs of lavender.
Orange Flower & Amber. "A fragrance to heighten your natural radiance." Not the most exciting orange blossom scent I have ever encountered, Orange Flower & Amber is an understated, soft, gauzy fragrance, in which the amber note, though vaguely present, doesn't seem to contribute much to the blend, not adding to the orange blossom either warmth, or depth, or complexity. The perfume is perfectly wearable and very pleasant but rather dull.
Spiced Tuberose & Orchid. "A fragrance to captivate your natural bloom." The strongest and the most complex of the five scents, Spiced Tuberose & Orchid is my favorite in the collection. It smells like a less sweet, spicier version of Shiseido's Message from Orchids, and at the same time something about its creamy, vaguely fruity, slightly earthy blossoms reminds me of Ford's Black Orchid. It is much less interesting than either of those two scents, but it has an attractive exotic vibe and floral richness, which I find very attractive. It is velvety, honeyed, languid and overall quite appealing.
Tea Rose & Sage. "A fragrance to enhance your enduring loveliness." Tea Rose & sage is a green take on rose, herbal, minty, even a little earthy. Sage and other grassy, leafy notes are very prominent in the beginning. At that point, the fragrance makes me think of smelling not roses themselves but the damp soil, grass and fallen leaves and petals under the rose bushes. Unfortunately, about ten minutes into the development, a bothersome watery, cucumber-like note appears on my skin. After it disappears, the greenness in general starts to subside leaving behind a sweet rose fragrance with a soapy and at the same time strangely waxy undertone. I will pass.
All five scents and the accompanying products are available at BeautyHabit, $63.00 for 100ml.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Perfume Review: Bond No 9 Coney Island
Coney Island is the latest Bond No 9 scent scheduled to launch on June 1. For the fellow non-New-Yorkers who, like me, are unfamiliar with the neighborhood, according to Wikipedia:
Bond No 9 "were intrigued by the vintage allure of this century-old fantasy-land with its honky-tonk chic, its Mermaid Parade, its incomparable hotdog haven" and "wanted to celebrate its future, too, just as a formidable revival is getting under way". The scent, with notes of margarita mix, melon, guava, cinnamon, chocolate, caramel, musk, vanilla, cedar and sandalwood was created Michel Almairac, the perfumer behind Bryant Park and West Side.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Have a great long Memorial Day weekend
Friday, May 25, 2007
Perfume Review: Frederic Malle / Edouard Flechier Une Rose
Edouard Fléchier is, without a doubt, one of my favorite perfumers. He created the first fragrance I have ever loved, which I still love dearly, the big, the luscious, the incomparable Poison. His is the genius of bold, generous strokes; to borrow O'Keefe's words yet again, he "paints his flowers big" (Lys Méditerranée, with its ethereal coldness, is still a big flower). That unapologetic sumptuousness is a quality I adore in perfumes. Having said that, Fléchier is just as capable of creating compositions that are poignantly delicate. Shiseido's obscure gem, Chant du Coeur, would break your heart with its gentle, melancholy loveliness. Edouard Fléchier was also born in the same year as my father, and, with his handsome mustache, actually looks quite a lot like my dad...but that silly tidbit of information is rather beside the point... You might know by now that I am not the biggest fan of rose scents. They quite frankly bore me, even the loveliest and truest -and perhaps especially the loveliest and truest- of them. I want my roses to be dark, brooding, strange, to have something more than "just roses". Une Rose, described as "garden rose pulled from the ground with its roots", is a paradox in a sense that, while smelling like the most luxurious and life-like rose imaginable, it also has that "something", the nocturnal depth, that I find incredibly attractive.
On me, Une Rose, does not appear to go through the traditional three stages of scent development. The notes, rose, trufle, geranium, wine dregs, woods, are apparent from the beginning, all at once, in perfect dark harmony. The development manifests itself in the change of intensity of certain notes. Thus at first the smell of honeyed, truly ambrosial roses is very strong, it is intoxicating, supremely sensual, like a passionate embrace of someone gorgeous and sultry and just a little wicked. In a short while the sharp piquancy of geranium becomes more apparent, and then the even sharper accord surfaces and that is the point at which I fall completely prey to the witchy charms of Une Rose. The accord has a spicy, slightly musky, very earthy and woody quality. It is the smell of rose thorns, of the promised roots, of the black soil in a mysterious garden in which the crimson roses grow. The contrast of the sweet, lush, slightly inebriated smell of over-ripe roses and the dry, almost harsh earthy-woody accord is, to me, absolutely irresistible. Une Rose is one of my favorite rose perfumes and proudly resides in my favorite fragrance "category", that of Perfumes for a Femme Fatale...Although I must say that, in my opinion, the austere, dry earthiness and the prominent woody notes should make this scent easily wearable for a man.
Une Rose is avialable at Editions de Parfums, €65.00-€165.00, and at Barney's, $100.00-$245.00.
Image sources, editionsdeparfums.com, krasivoefoto.ru.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Tom Ford Private Blend
Review by Tom
Interesting and more interesting. I had a nice conversation with Alessandro, the proprietor of All Purpose (the store in LA that stocks some CB I Hate Perfume), and we both commented that blog reactions have made us have to get over our initial (in my case somewhat snobby) reaction to Tom. I find him somewhat louche and when I read about these I kind of rolled my eyes. Even more so when I read the piece in The New York Times skewering his Madison Avenue boutique. Reading some of the reviews I realized that I was coming in with my own prejudices against Tom Ford: not just because he's cuter and way more successful than I (and somehow steadfastly refuses to date me..), but because it seems unbearably.. showy I guess is the word to pop up with so many new releases. It gets an automatic "oh really?" from me.
Having written that I will try to keep an open mind. As open as it's rusty hinges will allow: since everyone else has covered these pretty exhaustively, I'll keep this short.
Intense gardenia, but not as intense as say, Fracas is intense in its tuberose. It's certainly not something that I would recommend wearing to a meeting with the boss, unless you two have a very interesting relationship. I can see where some people get the blue cheese bit- it skates that edge of decay that gardenias do in real life. I like this, but it cries out to be dialed up- Tom cranks the dial to 7, and I wish he had dialed it to 11. But god love him for even going up that far on the dial in this world over-run by fruity floral.
Candied violets (which Fran Lebowitz wrote of as "the Necco Wafers of the overbred"), woods and a plummy sweetness. I don't get much that's "black" here, and at just the point I start to get actual violets, it gets a case of the vapors and heads off to its boudoir.
Really, they could call this one Eau de Coach Store. Just the smell of a new Coach bag, that slightly berry-sweet leather smell. It becomes harsher further on (which I think is a good thing), losing some of the sweetness and becoming more biker jacket than clutch.
Earthy green Old-School Chypre with an unexpected bit of sweetness and... mint? Easily my hands-down favorite. Would I buy? Perhaps not.
Rather cologney citrus opening that frankly doesn't go very far on me until the drydown, with its woody leathery goodness. Perhaps the biggest "meh" of the group.
For me opens with a brief blast that reminds me of Chypre Rouge, which drops immediately and becomes a weird combination of soap and...crystal meth? (don't ask) Becomes more and more "purple" in the drydown, in a "purple prose" kind of way- there is patchouli in there but it's buried under that tickle-the-back-of-the-throat iodiney note that reminds me club days before I woke up and decided to be an adult. Great cover for some of the girls at Hyde "No officer, it's Tom Ford"
Seems as light as Florida Water after some of the others: light leathered amber. Keeps doing a sort of Lutens thing, somewhat like smelling the ghost of Fumerie Turque on a sweater you wore last week.
Noir de Noir
Sweet saffron and gentle roses. Not showy but quite luscious. Like Colombina, I can see where this will become the best seller of the line. I can't say it's my favorite, but it's the most approachable.
Delightfully smoky amber: incense, woods and rich amber goodness. If Moss Britches weren't here with its wonderful weirdness, this would be my favorite. It has fairly intense sillage, so another one that's not for the office, unless you work in the Playboy mansion.
Marvelous sly oud and vetiver. Like Colombina I get leather in there- that new purse smell. It has a lovely woody amber drydown. Certainly the most "unisex" leaning toward masculine smelling one for me. Kelley, I think this Oud is for you..
Not nearly enough tobacco or for that matter vanille. I get March's Play-Doh, candy, and something that smells like the scent from that Christmas Tree shaped air-freshener you get at the car wash over the holidays. No thanks.
4711 on steroids. Check, please!
Okay, I went through all of these in a period of two weeks and I have to write that I don't quite know what to think. On the one hand, I have to applaud both the achievement and the chutzpah: putting out three or four scents at once must be a daunting thing to attempt, but 12? I also kind of wonder if there is a reason that I kind of found most of these a bit wanting: it seems that Tom wants to be out there, testing the limits, but also wants to keep a stylish, loafer clad set of tootsies firmly in a realm where everyday shoppers will feel comfortable. Of course, kudos to him for doing anything that would try to reintroduce glamor back into the perfume world (and some of these are pretty glam). I just kind of wish that he could have cranked up the volume a bit. Jump in Tom honey, the water's fine.
Tom Ford is available at Bergdorf Goodman, $165.00 for 50ml, $450.00 for 250ml.
Image source, Harpers Bazaar.
Labels: Tom Ford
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Crazylibellule and the Poppies Sniffathon
Crazylibellule and the Poppies is a small French company (said to consist of just three employees) that hit upon a very successful idea of solid perfumes in a stick. The lack of messiness, travel-and-handbag-appropriate size, and a very reasonable price of $16.00 make the scents very appealing. So appealing are the little delights that they won their creators an award, "Beauty Challenger", on the Cosmeeting 2006 Fair in Paris.
The line consists of three collections, the Les Divines Alcoves ("Love stories and meetings, scented with the pleasure of divine alcoves"), Poule de Luxe ("Parisian, gourmand, erotic, whimsical"), and Shanghaijava ("Oriental nights, majestic evocations, mysterious tumble of emotions, a scented voyage..."). The scents I am reviewing today are a (random) mix of three collections.
Les Divines Alcoves
Amoureuse. "Berry", black pepper, rose, tea, jasmine, musk, patchouli, sandalwood, vanilla. A vaguely gourmand soft-oriental scent which could have been overwhelmingly sweet and fruity were it not for a delicate spicy note, the quite perceptible smokiness of tea and the earthy woodiness of the base notes. Very pleasant, very wearable, it should be very popular with fans of both Flowerbombs and most other Angel offspring.
Aux Anges. Bergamot, tangerine, ylang-ylang, jasmine, "white flowers". My absolute favorite among the Crazylibellule scents, this gentle lily of the valley and jasmine fragrance is very spring-like, airy, and incredibly charming. The beginning is slightly citrusy (truly, just a hint of bergamot, softened by the creamy ylang), seconds after the scent is applied to my skin, lily of the valley and jasmine begin to blossom, they go head to head, neither note dominating the composition. At this point the scent reminds me of a mix of Diorissimo and Jasmal, and I love the combination. The base is a little pale and unexciting, but I suppose one shouldn't expect miracles of perfumery from a $16.00 solid perfume. Aux Anges is adorable, and I have a feeling that I am going to use up my stick in no time at all.
Toi Mon Prince. Bergamot, "berry", tangerine, mango, jasmine, apricot, Damasc rose, sandalwood, musk, white peach & patchouli. "Toi Mon Assassin Fruité" would have bnen a more fitting name. This could not be further from what I like, so it is hard for me to be objective about this sugary-fruity number resting on the Angel-esque patchouli base. It is extremely sweet, Angel's, Hot Couture's and Hanae Mori's fruitier descendant. When I am hard pressed for anything nice to say about a fragrance, I quote Lincoln: "For those who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they like." I bet Toi Mon Prince will have many fans.
Poule de Luxe
Vanilla Fruit Sorbet. Raspberry, rose, iris, vanilla and musk. Having survived the fruity assault by Toi Mon Prince, I am not about to be scared by a little raspberry. Or a lot of raspberry as the case may be. Vanilla Fruit Sorbet is a delightful combo of raspberry, more raspberry, some more raspberry, vanilla and roses. It is pretty and, believe it or not, not particularly sweet. It smells mouthwatering, with the berries being surprisingly life-like. The smell of raspberries invariably transports me to my great-grandma's dacha, the place I love to revisit in my imagination. As far as I am concerned, the combination of raspberries and roses is perhaps one of the most appealing (or the least unappealing) fruity-floral mixes. I am not sure I would actually buy a stick, but I've been enjoying my tiny sample very much.
Vanille Sucre Glace. Bergamot, tangerine, jasmine, orange flower, musk, vanilla and caramel. Sugar and vanilla is more or less all I smell in Vanille Sucre Glace, with perhaps just a hint of caramel in the end. It is not unpleasant at all, a warm, not cloyingly sweet fragrance...but it is rather dull.
Ananas Imperial. The notes might say, "orange, lemon, citron, grapefruit, pineapple, blackcurrant, peach, cedarwood and musk", but on me Ananas Imperial is grapefruit, blackcurrant and peach and nothing else. The grapefruit is lovely, and I don't say this often about grapefruit; it is neither harsh nor too "sparkly". The blackcurrant starts by smelling as if it was freshly picked from a bush and ends up creamy and vanillic, as if baked in a pie. The peach is there but not too strong, sort of enhancing the general fruity feel of the composition rather than trying to appear in the forefront. Ananas Imperial has nothing to do whatsoever with pineapples, but it is summery, enjoyable and charming.
Litchi Blossom. Litchi, geranium, rose, mint. I have yet to meet a litchi-scented product that smelled attractive. I think that the note really doesn't lend itself well in perfumery. It has a not particularly appealing smoky undertone and a raw aspect that makes it smell like unripe carrots. Pairing litchi with the sharp floral note like geranium is really not a good idea. The blend is heavy, harsh, very forceful...It smells incongruous. Litchi Blossom has an unexpected retro vibe, an almost-powdery, old-fashioned feel, and that is the only good thing about it.
Encens Mystic. Clove, cedar, incense, myrrh, benzoin, musk, patchouli and vanilla. My second favorite from the line, Encens Mystic is a surprisingly rich and complex incense blend with a beautiful spicy accord adding the zing to the composition and the no less gorgeous myrrh-vanilla mix softening and enriching the incense note. The scent has piquant sweetness that makes it incredibly comforting. An unexpected and unexpectedly interesting offering from a solid perfume line, Encens Mystic should be sampled by all lovers of incense scents.
All these and other Crazylibellule and the Poppies solid perfumes are available at BeautyHabit, $16.00 for 5g.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
The Smell of the Garden
Review by Kelley
Comme Des Garcon’s Peppermint (Sherbet Collection)
This is my new spring favorite. I remember working in the garden with my grandmother when I was little. We belonged to several garden clubs and were always working in her greenhouse or in her backyard getting ready for an exhibition. I remember training chrysanthemums to trail over pots by wiring them to chicken wire and even training them to be bonsais. One of my chores was to water all of the plants a couple of times a week. She had the pots scattered around the house in several places to see where they grew the best. Every year, like clockwork, we had to pull the mint because it was truly a weed at her house and filled all of the flower beds (along with another of my favorite plants, the deadly poisonous night-blooming Datura). The smell of the dirt and the mint would get all over my arms and I would throw away bags full of mint plants. Actually, I love the smell.
Comme Des Garcons has mysteriously bottled the smell I remember. When I spray this on I can smell the crushed mint leaves and the tough stems. I smell the dirt and the cool green sap! If you have ever grown mint, you will be transported back in time. This is a magical scent.
The listed ingredients are: curly mint, peppermint, bay rose, white pepper, cardamom, amber, white musk. I only smell mint. If I close my eyes I can sort of smell the amber and white musk but that’s about it. This starts off very fresh and minty but then dies down to a very green galbanum and light musk scent. I wish the silage was a little more potent but it lasts fairly well although it stays close to the skin. If you know of any other mint fragrances that last longer, please let me know…
Peppermint is available at Luckyscent.com for $40 for the 30ml spray which is perfect for a purse or backpack.
Comme Des Garcon’s Harrisa
Harissa is from the CDG Red Series which includes Rose, Carnation, Palisander, and Sequoia. Harissa is a spicy red paste that originated in Tunisia . It is made from chilies that are sometimes smoked (makes me think of chipotle chilies which I can no longer eat but dearly love and have grown in my garden) mixed with garlic, cumin, coriander, caraway and olive oil and sometimes tomatoes.
Fresh out of the bottle, this one smells like tomatoes. I smell the harsh dirt-like smell that tomato leaves often exude and also the ripe red fruit. This is the smell of a vegetable garden in the blazing summer heat. It opens with a spicy tomato smell which probably smells like a Bloody Mary but there is also a funky tomato leaf accord which I find very unusual and fascinating. The vegetables soon are overtaken by the luscious smell of blood oranges. This stays a spicy, citrus scent for hours. This is very, very spicy with tons of nutmeg and chili and cardamom and even some saffron. Here, the citrus sticks it out to the very end…which I love.
The scent easily lasts 6 to 8 hours on my skin and is a wonderful addition to the spring/summer scent wardrobe. It’s very unusual and highly recommended. The ingredients are listed as: harissa, blood orange from North Africa , red chili pepper, angelica, saffron, nutmeg from Grenada , cardamom, and finally tomato.
Here is a link to a wonderful recipe using harissa paste, called “Harissa Chicken & Butternut Squash”
Comme des Garcon’s Harissa is available at Luckyscent.com and comes in a 100 ml bottle for $84. The photos of both bottles are courtesy of Luckyscent.
Friday, May 18, 2007
The Colombinas Are Moving
Lily of the Valley Week. Day 4. Penhaligon's, Severnoe Siyanie, Shiseido, Taylor of London, Yardley
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Perfume Review: L'Artisan Perfumeur L'Eau de Jatamansi
Review by Tom
L'Artisan is for me one of the more difficult lines to get a handle on. I've tried several: some are gorgeous but terribly fleeting (La Chasse au Papillon, Safran Troublant), some weren't fleeting but went wrong (Piment Brulant, which ended up as taco seasonings) or just didn't quite make me get the card out (Dzing!, The pour un Ete as great as they are). Of course this isn't going to stop me from trying them and hoping that one will be the one.
L'Eau de Jatamansi is the latest one from L'Artisan, and according to the nice man at Fred Segal, the first in the line that's completely organic (which begs the question...). According to Luckyscent, it is "100% natural, Ecocert-certified, Organic.." Apparently Jatamansi is incredibly rare, grown thousands of feet up in the Himalyas in "under skies oblivious to pollution, in soil that has never suspected the presence of fertilizers" (but apparently not hyperbole) and the oil itself is used in Ayurvedic medicine.
The scent? It starts out with a nice burst of grapefruit, full of the peel and wonderfully refreshing. It's joined by light woods, cardamom, bergamot and what must be the Jatamansi. It adds up to something that reminds me a bit of the sort of old-fashioned hair tonic I used to smell at barbershops when I was a kid. Whether you think that's a good or bad thing, you'll have to be the judge. I rather liked it. What I liked less was the lasting power: two hours tops. Of course, since it comes in a huge 250ml bottle re-applying is hardly out of the question.
Those huge 250ml bottles are $145 at Fred Segal and LuckyScent, and I assume at Barneys and Neimans and all the places that usually carry the line.
The search continues...
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Lily of the Valley Week. Day 3. Comme des Garcons, Floris, Jessica McClintock, Les Parfums de Rosine, Parfums de Nicolai
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
New Scents from Parfum d'Empire: Equistrius, Fougere Bengale, Osmanthus Interdite
As has been previously reported, this summer Parfum d'Empire will add three new scents to its collection. The names have finally been announced, and so the new perfumes are :
Equistrius (Iris Amber)
Fougere Bengale (Fougere Tabac Blond)
Osmanthus Interdite (Fruity Musky)
The scents will be introduced to press on June 21, and hopefully will be widely launched soon after.
(Information from the press release)
Lily of the Valley Week. Day 2: Coty, Christian Dior, Guerlain
Often, when I have to write about perfume classics, I feel star-struck and overwhelmed. Can my humble review possibly do justice to a Legendary Scent? So you can imagine how much trepidation I feel today, faced with having to talk about not one, but three wonderful legends.
Coty – Muguet de Bois
I must preface the review by saying that Muguet de Bois in question is vintage Parfum de Toilette. On the very first sniff, I am tempted to proclaim Coty’s version to be the most beautiful lily of the valley. On the second, third, and one-hundredths sniff, I am just as entranced. The delicate, virginal-white flowers are not often described as opulent, but Coty’s Muguet is truly sumptuous. Lilies of the valley, with their “high-pitched”, silvery smell, are also rarely described as warm, however Muguet de Bois has a wonderful, balmy depth. If there existed a lily of valley genus with not white but golden flowers, that is how it would smell. The beginning of Muguet de Bois has an unexpected, extremely appealing booziness, almost a fruity, honeyed undertone, most probably due to the presence of an orange note. The orange, and in the heart of the scent, roses are the elements, which, I believe, add the warmth to the scent, which make it “well-rounded” and softly-enveloping. The warm and sweet quality co-exists in harmony with a strikingly green accord, and the contrast is incredibly appealing. The base is full of sweet sandalwood, which finishes the development of the scent on a very sensual note. Muguet de Bois is truly stunning, and it is my mission now to find and try the contemporary version.
Christian Dior – Diorissimo
Having tried vintage and modern eaux de toilette, I can honestly say that I loved them both and that the two are not drastically different. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the modern Diorissimo still smells very much like a Roudnitska’s creation, in that it contains the elements, which, to borrow Honore de Balzac ‘s words, make it smell like “a species of transition between the plant and animal”. That (elegantly restrained) animalic side is more pronounced in the vintage Diorissimo, but it is still perceptible in the modern version. The old Diorissimo also has a somewhat sweeter, almost fruity beginning, the new Diorissimo is heavier on jasmine; at one point it actually becomes a jasmine scent rather than lily of the valley, but that stage passes quickly. The base, on my skin, is practically identical, very Dior-Roudnitska, with soft sandalwood and that dark, earthy Something (civet?) that once made me say that Diorissimo smells like lily of the valley flowers pulled out of the earth with their roots intact, with the earth still clinging to them…and that is how I still perceive Diorissimo. Diorissimo strikes me as perhaps the most complex lily of the valley rendition of the ones that I have tried. To say that I love it would be a huge understatement. If you have a chance to try a contemporary parfum, please do. Eau de Toilette is beautiful, but parfum is absolutely stunning, slightly warmer and deeper.
Guerlain – Muguet
Guerlain releases a limited edition of Muguet what seems like every May; the version I am talking about is from 1999. This lily of the valley has no roots, it is all about the dazzling white flowers and green leaves. This is the version of Muguet that reminds me of another name for lilies of the valley, May Bells. Smelling Guerlain’s Muguet is akin to listening to a joyful concerto played on the tiny silvery bells. Along with Goutal’s Le Muguet, Guerlain’s creation strikes me as the most true to the scent of actual lilies of the valley. Like Le Muguet, it also possesses that potentially harsh, slightly bizarre, almost gas-like smell that real lilies of the valley have. It is intoxicating, exhilarating, it is a lily of the valley flower in close up, or perhaps it is like being inside the said flower. Muguet has a delicate fruity aspect, which makes me think not of citrus fruits, but of green apples. The green quality is quite pronounced here; I smell grass and leaves and even, very vaguely, something not unlike cucumber. The bright, incredibly realistic lily of the valley sings and my heart sings with it.
The vintage Coty Muguet de Bois can be found on eBay, very cheaply; Diorissimo is available at imaginationperfumery.com, $59.99-$152.99; Guerlain Muguet, in this year’s reincarnation, is available at Guerlain boutique in France and perhaps at Bergdorf Goodman, €200.00 for 20ml.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Lily of the Valley Week. Day 1. Annick Goutal, Art of Perfumery, Caron
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Happy Mother's Day!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Coming up: Lily of the Valley Week
Friday, May 11, 2007
French Lover to be renamed
It is said that Frederic Malle's new scent, French Lover, will be renamed in the US into Bois d'Orage. Thank you, Judith, for the information! I know that I have been rather outspoken about not liking the name French Lover at first. But I have since changed my mind and now I am disappointed. "Bois Something" scents are dime a dozen. French Lover was original. So I am sorry to see it go.
There is a great thread on Basenotes, about the new name. I like the ideas the guys have much more than Bois d'Orage. For example, one poster says that, in the red states, the scent would be called Freedom Lover, while in the blue states it would be politically-correctly renamed into French Domestic Partner.
Perfume Review: CB I Hate Perfume Memory of Kindness
Thursday, May 10, 2007
I Hate Mondays: A Tale of Air-Conditioning
Review by Tom
Ever have one of those weekends where you feel lazy as all get-out? Where you just don't want to do anything? Well, this past one was like that for me. It was uncommonly hot in Los Angeles for early May, with a high in the low 90's. I did laundry, washed the car, got a haircut, returned books to the library, did everything I could think of to avoid the baleful stare (okay, major hyperbole) of the new Tom Fords. Somehow I could not bring myself to try them in this heat. Joining them in making me feel like six different kinds of lazy putz are some Montales that Kelley kindly sent me that I need to try and a couple of l'Artisans. Somehow the idea of wearing anything heavier than Eau de Sud when the temps are this high and the humidity is less than zero is more than I can stand to think of. So now that it's Monday and I am planted in my office where it's about two degrees above freezing I will review something completely out of character: Sweets. Commes des Garcons Series 7: Sweet.
The (also heavily air-conditioned) MOCA gift shop stocks these, along with LuckyScent, which is good because in being handled (even in a locked case) the admittedly cute bottles had most of the names of the perfumes rubbed off. I was looking at Wo fee and St ake on them.
Opening like a sweeter, watered down Aomassai, with a little hint of Iris Taizo thrown in. Luckyscent writes "Sticky Cake is surprisingly light…don’t think big brown fruitcake of doom..". Oddly for me this is just too light: it's neither sticky or cakey enough for me, and has less of that CdeG weirdness that can be so interesting.
I was afraid that this one, on which the only thing that was legible was Bu r, was going to be ghastly in the dreaded Blue Sugar way, since out of the bottle it was sweet, sweet, sweet. Luckyscent refers to it as "fluffy" and "creamy", but correctly notes that spices keep it from getting into toothache territory and jasmine makes it more creditably less cradle-robber. Not for me, but your mileage may vary.
Wood. Coffee. Vanilla.
Cocoa and spiced ginned up with bergamot. Really should not work but does, and very well. The spices are listed (via Luckyscent) as fennel, coriander, black pepper and "chilli". The initial cocoa-ness burns off quite quickly and I was left with the citrus and the spices, with only a whisper of the chocolate. By far the lightest of these on me.
Green tea scents are of course a dime a dozen and were quite the fad for a while, starting with Barneys Route du The in the 80's. I happen to like the note, especially when well played as it is here. Joined with just the perfect amount of mint and hay, this is not sweet at all on me. It has some of the bite of PG Querelle: as a matter of fact, all of these have a PG feel to them, as if they were cousins. If I was going to buy any of these five, this would be the one, hands down.
All of these are available at MOCA, where the very disinterested staff in the gift shop will unlock the case to let you smell them and then vaporise when you want to ask anything about them, like the price. No doubt to create performance art or streak their hair in new and interesting shades not usually found on mammals. Since the website for the MOCA gift shop does not have these online, I have to write that they are available at LuckyScent, where they are $90 each, as they would be happy to tell you if you stopped in.
Note: I am a longstanding member of MOCA, and they continually have wonderful shows in all three locations: Grand Avenue, Pacific Design Center and Little Tokyo. If you are in Los Angeles, they are well worth the visit. Both Gift Shops (Santa Monica and Grand Avenue) have a nice collection of fun stuff that is quite frankly available at a lot of other places, so the somewhat surly-to-non-existent customer service is fairly self defeating.
Image source, Alamy.com.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
To My Readers
Those who have been reading about Perfume Blogging Payola on Makeupalley, Aromascope and Perfume Posse, know what I am talking about. For those happily unaware of the Payolagate, I will sum it up. There are not particularly subtly veiled accusations flying around that some bloggers (unnamed) have been taking money from some companies (also unnamed) to write positive reviews. It all seems to have started with one blogger saying on a forum that he or she was offered money for a review. When the blogger then saw positive reviews of a product in question on other blogs, he or she assumed that the reviewers have accepted the offer. It seems that certain parties who love nothing more than to stir trouble and to incessantly throw as much dirt as they possibly can on their fellow bloggers, took the comment and ran with it.
To my readers who might or might not at this point be wondering whether they can trust Perfume-Smellin' Things to write from the heart and not "from the pocket", I would like to say the following:
Neither I, nor Tom, nor Mr Colombina, nor anyone who has ever written for Perfume-Smellin' Things have ever been offered money to write a positive review or not to write a negative one. We almost feel offended at being left out of the payola bonanza that seems to be taking place...somewhere.
The advertisements on Perfume-Smellin' Things, including the one for Boutique des Aromes, are and have always been clearly labeled as such.
Most if not all of those advertisements have always been for Stores rather than Perfume Companies. When, at the end of my reviews, I supply names of the stores which carry the scents I reviewed, I always attempt to find the ones that have the beast deal on a scent in question and/or are the ones which, as a buyer, I can trust myself.
A valid point was raised yesterday by a commenter on Aromascope, about a conflict of interests. If a blogger is in some way personally familiar with someone in perfume industry, the blogger might not be completely objective anymore regarding the perfumes created, produced, or what have you, by that someone. I believe I can only (very proudly) call those involved in Made by Blog project and, in a less direct way, in S-Perfumes, to be the people I sort of know in perfume industry. My involvement in Made by Blog has been announced at the very beginning of the project and since then mentioned numerous times. As far as I am aware, I am not in any way affiliated with any other perfume company.
The houndstooth background is there not because Dior paid me to advertise them in such a cleverly subtle way, but because I like it. The header is now displaying a Guerlain bottle for no reason other than I fancied the way that bottle looks. The same applies to the Chanel and Tom Ford bottles that graced the header before. The same will be true of whatever bottle I put there next.
I don't praise certain companies more than others because the praised companies paid me in any way to do so. I don't write consistently negative reviews about others because they refused to pay me or were late on their payments or their competitors paid me to diss them. I am not on the take from Dior, Chanel, Lutens, L'Artisan, Parfumerie Generale, Tom Ford, Malle, Parfum d'Empire or any other brands whose scents I consistently like. I am also, as I said, not in any way related to those companies...although I do like to imagine that I am Dior's long-lost great-granddaughter.
The samples of most of the scents I review are bought by me, swapped for, received from fellow perfume addicts, gotten for free in stores. Sometimes, when an exciting new scent is launched, I would write to a perfume company to ask to send me a sample. Sometimes a perfume company (or a distributor, or a PR firm, or a perfume store) would ask if I'd like to be sent a sample. Some, usually very big, companies rather touchingly call full size bottles "samples". So far not once a single sample or a bottle has come with a condition that a review MUST be written and must be written POSITIVELY. When a scent touches me enough, in a good or a bad way, I write about it. Often I am not moved enough either way to say anything.
My perfume blog is a PRIVATE AFFAIR, as are the perfume blogs I read and love. I feel the need to stress that over and over again. The concern over our objectivity is legitimate, no doubt about it, but I see it taken rather to an extreme. We do not require a payment from people to read our blogs, and really we do not owe anyone a detailed explanation of why and how we write about the scents. We don't force anyone to act upon our reviews, to make a purchase or decide against it based on what we say. We don't coerce anyone to even read us. Those who do not like the way we write or what we write about, are welcome to start their own - and better - blogs. They are not, however, welcome to then proceed to malign our work and try to raise their profile at our expense.
A comment was made yesterday on Aromascope, which rather shocked me. It stated that, when the commenter sees the scents he or she considers "not noteworthy" being praised over and over again on a blog, she tends to assume the blogger must be paid in some way to write about the "not noteworthy" scents. I read similar sentiments on other sites. It was as much as implied that those of us who write positive reviews about the scents the authors of those sites do not like, are either being paid to write such good things or unable to think independently and objectively evaluate the scents because of the promotional razzmatazz surrounding them. I cannot but admire the self-confidence of these self-appointed arbiters of good taste, objectivity and noteworthiness. I can't even dream of being an Independent Thinker of such caliber. I will just muddle somehow through my very subjective and very personal likes and dislikes and hope that the reviews I write will keep pleasing the readers I am so lucky and so honored to have. I hope that the readers will continue viewing my reviews as nothing more sinister than an expression of me and my tastes.
Thank you very much for reading!