Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bemoaning the Lack of Plum Notes in Perfume or Plum Quest 2014

This weekend I made a plum clafouti for dessert and once again realized that the scent of ripe plums un-roasted and roasted is a beguiling smell. They have a sweet understated almond tinted scent that is uniquely their own and sadly rather underutilized in perfume. I feel like I might be on the verge of a fragrance quest this time for plums. Seems just right for this time of the year too, I have always associated plums with early Autumn, although in reality I suppose they are really a summer fruit, but the plum varieties with dusky violet skins have always reminded me of Autumn. So a list so far of perfumes with a plum note that I want to sniff:

Violet Disguises by Imaginary Authors
Do by MikMoi
Ume by Keiko Mecheri
Rose Volupte by Sonoma Scent Studio
Wood Violet by Sonoma Scent Studio
Prune Jasmin by Laurence Dumont
Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums

Scents with a plum note that don't meet the plum need (perfectly good scents but just not plummy enough):
Femme by Rochas
Feminite du Bois
Natori by Josie Natori

Not to leave you hanging here is the recipe for the plum clafouti, absurdly simple, and wonderfully celebratory of the beauty of plums: http://www.epicurean.com/featured/plum-clafoutis-recipe.html

photo by the amazing Katie Quinn Davis at What Katie Ate

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tackling the Classics: Jicky by Guerlain

For the last of the lavender series I am focusing on one of the monumental classics of the perfume industry and also one of the few fougere scents that has been marketed to women and is frequently loved by men: Jicky by Guerlain. Whenever anyone says they want a lavender perfume, Jicky is almost always one of the first ones recommended.

So I have worn this classic the last few years and I will start with a warning: Jicky is a mercurial creature. Jicky can be the most relaxing cozy musky lavender vanilla scent and then well on the bad days it can be a monstrosity of musky indoles that lasts for about an hour luckily it will calm down but that first hour when it is bad is hard. I suppose Jicky is the classic example for me of perfumes with a bad note that smell good eventually they are the ultimate "Wait for it!" of scents but the payoff is always sublime the calming down of the beginning becoming something absurdly relaxed and lush. For me Jicky is a somewhat voluptious scent it is curvy and easy, I find it amusing that the imagery Guerlain uses for this scent is frequently a rather erudite modern woman which I suppose at the time of creation it might have fit that image more, but as times have changed Jicky has suddenly bloomed into a more lush scent, it is about as lush as a lavender scent can be.

The opening features Guerlain's signature candied bergamot note with lavender right beside it and right beside those too is the indolic musk on the good days it remains a dirty musk that will eventually be tempered by the lavender, vanilla, and tonka on bad days it takes over and you hope your colleagues don't notice that is why I frequently wear it on the weekends. Once everyone finds their place in the scent it becomes a lovely lush tranquil scent, the lavender is consistently present but the temperament of it is never harsh. There are accompanying notes but really essentially this scent is a song of bergamot, lavender, musk, vanilla, and sandalwood.

Try if like: Kiehl's Musk, Shalimar, Pour Un Homme de Caron.

Jicky image from http://theblacknarcissus.com/2012/11/16/jicky-by-guerlain-1889/

dress image from http://indulgy.com/post/N5Kq8ww451/late-s-evening-gown#/do/page/1

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cuddly Meadow Fluff: Reverie au Jardin by Andy Tauer

If you ever want to smell an example of high altitude grown lavender take a sniff of Andy Tauer's Reverie au Jardin and you will probably shake your head in disbelief that this is a lavender scent. That is how I felt about Reverie au Jardin for a very long time I could not get a handle on the gentle sylvan creature of a scent. Yet, I finally get it, all because I was looking for lavender essential oil for my boyfriend to use in his shaving oil. I remember randomly being at a little store that sells essential oils and they had three different lavender essential oils and I decided to smell them all. I finally came to the high altitude grown Bulgarian lavender oil and smelled it and I was surprised at what I smelled. This lavender was sweet musky and even vanillic there was none of the stronger notes associated with lavender in it. It was indeed lavender but it smelled like it had be grown on a fluffy cloud.

Reverie au Jardin takes high altitude lavender and expands on the fluffy cuddly sweet quality of it and along the way decides to invert the idea of green scents being spiky, bright, and harsh at times. What you get is scent of the softest creamiest lavender musk and dancing around in the background very lightly is aldehydes, rose, galbanum, and bergamot. The finale of the lavender perfume is to be enclosed in the happy cocoon of ambergris that has hints of vanilla and soft woods. There is not a single harsh or prominent aspect in this scent it is perhaps one of the gentlest happiest scents I have ever come by.

There is an image it brings to my mind when I smell it. A meadow in some alpine region, the perfect day with big fluffy white clouds, an easy gentle breeze that never lets it get too hot, and a gentle brook murmuring in the background. There is a freshly laundered picnic blanket laid out and beneath it a little lavender has been slightly crushed as the picnickers have tried to straighten the blanket out before they go to investigate the brook. Reverie au Jardin smells like that scene in my head.

Try if you like: Baghari by Robert Piguet, Le Temps d'une Fete by Parfums de Nicolai, or Jicky by Guerlain.
image: Call from Heaven

Friday, August 22, 2014

A clear unencumbered soulful lavender: Gris Clair by Serge Lutens

It is funny to think of Serge Lutens tackling lavender in his scents considering I think the first thing that pops into my mind for his scents is exotic ambers, leathers, spices, and non-ethereal notes. Yet, it turns out that good old Serge has actually quite the catalog for enjoying the ethereal examples including Clair de Musc and Fleurs de Citronnier, but the ultimate one for me now is Gris Clair.

Gris Clair is a lavender in its full glory, the perfect rendition of the color of blue grey lavender while having the texture of gossamer like silk. Lutens' is able to capture lavender in so many gorgeous facets that well if you are a lavender lover it is rather glorious; he is able to show the soapy notes and the sweet almond notes that can be found in good lavender. The scent is like having sweet therapy in a bottle, it is cuddly and cleansing all at the same time. It hints at spiritual epiphany with its notes of incense supporting the lavender but at the same time it includes a masterfully used amber and tonka bean notes that lend a vanillic and almond sweetness so that the scent remains firmly grounded in the soft cloud of serenity category. If you are a lavender lover I cannot urge enough that you go get a sample of this. And yes I am now on the hunt to get a a bottle of this.  

Try if you like: Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens, Twilight by LUSH, or Lavande by Berdoues.

image from The Gingko Leaf

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lavender and a Leather Jacket: Lavande Ombree by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger.

Lavender has far more frequently within the world of perfume been a note used most often in men's perfumes than in women's perfumes, while many would argue, including myself that you should wear whatever catches your fancy from whatever gender related department of perfumes, the reality is still that designers and perfumers will put lavender in a men's perfume more frequently. Rarely though does a lavender scent for either gender enter the somewhat sexy smelling devil may care category of perfume yet Lavande Ombree by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger does.

When I smell Lavande Ombree I have this immediate idea that this is what lavender would be if it was a biker, there is a prominent leather note entwined with the lavender, and it is not some sweet suede leather note, nope this that black leather jacket leather note. The leather is pungent but the lavender does not hold back either. As the scent progresses a strong raspy cinnamon and cedar enter and I am reminded of the classic and discontinued original Fendi by Fendi that powerhouse of a scent that was basically incense that decided it wanted to be a 1980's diva.  Lavande Ombree is a forward scent, it takes the idea of lavender as a dandy note, and decides to make it rugged and slightly dangerous. As the scent dries down it softens a bit the lavender less the leader but the cedar and leather remaining accented by musk and a hint of sweet amber to meld into the skin. Overall I can't help but respect that this scent is unabashedly not about sweet, nice, or smooth.

Give it a sniff if you like Knize Ten by Knize, Jolie Madam by Balmain, or Cuir Mauresque by Serge Lutens.

image: Sarah Esteje

Monday, August 18, 2014

Come Softly: 1902 Eau de Cologne Tradition Lavande by Parfums Berdoues

As a kid I didn't really get the appeal of lavender. I think it was because it was the 90s and it was the era of extreme aromatherapy and the stuff that was promoted with lavender was the cheaper harsher lavender that some might find therapeutic but I just found mostly rosemary like. Fast forward and somewhere along the lines I grew to appreciate it, I think it was when I finally got to smell high altitude and French lavender, the more delicate and soft scent altering my view of what lavender could be.

I received a decant of Lavande by Parfums Berdoues years ago and firmly forgot it in my box of decants. I was even at one point thinking about making it a freebie in my swapping, well I am glad I did not.

Lavande by Parfums Berdoues is a lovely soft lavender surprise, there is no harsh edges in this lavender. The beginning is a powdered lavender that is accented by a sweet and easy anise note, thankfully not overpowering, the anise works to bring out the sweeter quality of the lavender. From there the anise leaves the room and what enters is the final stage of simple soft musk, lavender, and tonka bean with hints of heliotrope. What I am reminded of at this stage is of the classic Jicky by Guerlain except this is easy and there is no possibility of the pungent musk of Jicky stepping in, mind you the depth and headiness of Jicky is not there but sometimes you just don't want that. Overall this scent is simple easy cuddliness that sooths the nerves. Very worthy of becoming a comfort scent on those harsh days. I am honestly reminded of a soft worn out flannel blanket when smelling this scent, there is a hint of pilling in some places but overall with time and wear it has hit that perfect point of absurdly soft.

Try if you like Jicky by Guerlain, Reverie au Jardin by Tauer Parfums, and Moonlight Path by Bath and Body Works.

image: Free People Blog

Friday, August 15, 2014

In Honor of This Stressful Week: Lavender

Next weeks theme is lavender and exploring it in scent. After a rather stressful  few weeks I have found myself craving the scent of lavender once again. I also am in debt to a wonderful swap that included a lovely lavender surprise.

image: amberlight1