Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Give It A Little Heat And You Are Good To Go: Pepper Ylang by Smell Bent

I like ylang ylang. I feel at times it is the forgotten tropical floral, everyone either loves jasmine, gardenia, or plumeria but for me it is ylang ylang. On the other hand ylang ylang is a bit of a weirdo smell. It is cold, pungent, at times described as rubbery or like cold cream. More often ylang ylang is a supporting player take for example Chanel No.5. The most known prominent ylang ylang scent though is not a perfume but rather Nivea's original scent, a heady mix of ylang ylang and rose with other delightful notes. Either way as you can see ylang ylang is all over the place.

So what is Pepper Ylang by Smell Bent like? Well, first let me share how excited I am that someone has done another ylang ylang perfume, because there really are not that many around. I think Smell Bent has put out a really nice little scent that shows someone obviously loves ylang ylang there. The scent starts with a full lovely ylang ylang note which I found works best when there is a little heat in the air, with heat it blooms on the skin, and offers an airy quality that reminds me of seaside and sand, but with no coconut. The pepper note offers a really interesting spiciness that emphasizes the hot cold effect in ylang ylang. The base of sandalwood, myrrh, and vanilla are just the right amount of sweetness and woods and meld into skin easily. What I really like about this scent is that it is not too sweet, the creamy woods work wonderfully to enhance the ylang ylang note. I am highly tempted to get a full bottle of this for the summer.

Try Pepper Ylang if you like Eau Moheli by Diptyque, Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder, or Yin and Ylang by Sonoma Scent Studio.

Image by Conrad Roset

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Putting Spring in Your Perfume

In California it has been Spring for awhile, so I have actually had the chance to get out my spring perfumes, and really figure out which ones are the most spring-ful to me. So without further nattering my picks for Spring. Also, this following list is only for perfumes still in production.

1. Elie Saab Le Parfum. Do you need a resplendent orange blossom with a bit of earthy cedar and honey? Which is also easy to find? Then pick up the original Elie Saab scent. You will glow in this scent and get compliments. It is the best orange blossom on the mass market at the moment and I still love it.

2. Jour d'Hermes by Hermes. Do you often wonder what a modern spring goddess would smell like? I suspect it would probably be this. A tart tangy grapefruit opening followed by a bouquet of flowers. The funny thing with each wearing I get a different emphasis on different flowers or notes. Sometimes it is tiare, other times freesia, in other moments sweet peas, and one time delicious musk.

3. Le Temps d'Une Fete by Nicolai Parfumeur Createur. A glowing yellow field full of earth, musk, narcissus, and sweet herbs. Utterly gorgeous and just makes you want to keep inhaling. A unique take on oakmoss that I actually like.

4. Cassis, Rose, & Sandalwood by Dame Perfumery. Juicy current and peonies followed by roses and woods, I am reminded of easier going L'Ombre Dans L'Eau by Diptyque. If you have ever found the L'Ombre Dans L'Eau too harsh and green try this one.

5. Trefle Pur by Atelier Cologne. Need to feel fresh, earthy, and completely classy? Pick this one, I am always reminded of rolling green hills and green ferns when I wear this one.

6. Neroli Blanc Intense Eau de Parfum by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger. The great orange blossom gourmand, sweet and lively, this scent is for feeling joyous. It makes me think orange blossom cream and first stone fruit of spring.

7. Lieu de Reves by Sonoma Scent Studio. Rainwater violets, sweet rose water, heliotrope and with a sweet amber iris dry down. A lovely rainy spring day at a pastry shop.

8. Pepper Ylang by Smell Bent. The hot cold sweet scent of heady ylang ylang with a smooth drydown of vanilla and myrrh. A happy yellow scent.

image from

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Dark Entrancing Vanilla: Vanille Botanique by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

It has been a long time since a vanilla caught my attention. Other than Jeffrey Dame's Black Flower I have not been interested in many vanilla fragrances recently and then of course something extravagantly gorgeous passes your way.

The first time I smelled Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Vanille Botanique was on paper and it didn't really click with me very much, I kept on smelling the paper, and thinking yes that smells good but it didn't really tell me just how good it could smell. Luckily the shop owner of the perfume store I was at sent me home with a sample.

Vanille Botanique may be one of the most seductive vanillas I have smelled in a long time. It belongs to the genre of vanillas that are drier and not dessert but it is different from other vanillas in this category in that it is not boozy. It is woodsy balsamic vanilla with clear classical qualities. It definitely shares a heritage with Guerlain's Shalimar but thankfully has none of the qualities that makes Shalimar a gross beast on me. Rather Vanille Botanique is all about vanilla and amber tinged balsams, the vanilla remains throughout the scent, as the scent progresses dark sexy balsams are revealed. There are tiny hints of leather in the scent that give the balsamic notes an anchoring.

 I cannot emphasize enough how gorgeous this vanilla is or how sensual it is. There is nothing cutesy or girlish about this scent, it is a pure luxury vanilla. You are going to find yourself entranced. Extra plus this is a pure botanical scent and has amazing longevity and strength.

Try if you like Aroma M's Geisha Noire, Guerlain's Shalimar, Guerlain's Spiriteause Double Vanille, Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles, and Givenchy Organza Indecence .

Madonna by Alessandra Maria from Spoke-Art

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Indie Perfume House Spotlight: Dame Perfumery

In a bizarre way I have a long history with Jeffrey Dame of Dame Perfumery in that my first perfume haunt in the heady days of the early aughts was at the message board Perfume of Life that he created. It was a great place to learn about perfume and at the time one of the few places to meet like minded fumeheads. Things change Mr. Dame went on to new projects, Perfume of Life is closed now, and the world of perfume lovers is far larger. In the years since it appears Jeffrey Dame has worked in many perfume projects but I feel that in 2014 he made the big transition, to what I suspect is a lifetime passion project, Dame Perfumery.

What I find really refreshing about Dame Perfumery is the enthusiasm, heart, and joviality behind it. It is very much in line with wonderful Andy Tauer of Tauer Perfumes and Tauerville, there is a respect for the perfume lovers that support them, and the appearance of joy in sharing their creations. I find this refreshing because while there are the great noses of the world that work for the big houses, the reality is that those of us who are perfume lovers will never interact with them and frankly they don't particularly want to interact with us. Dame Perfumery is of the new school though, that if you have people loving your creations, interact with them.

So what can you expect from Dame Perfumery perfumes? Well I haven't tried them all but I have tried four and I can tell you there is a definite common aesthetic in them. They are clearly modern perfumes but and here is the part that takes Dame out of the mundane there is real craft in them, a real value in note transition and transformation. These scents are about smelling good and enjoying yourself, if you are looking oddness look somewhere else but lets not think that means his scents are boring, they're not. They are tailored and as far as I am concerned tailoring is one of the great crafts of the world. To tailor is to know your ingredients and how they play with others. A finally tailored perfume knows how to cut the harsh edges and awkward angles but knows how to emphasize the best facets and facets should be interesting.

The first perfume that I had real experience with in the Dame Perfume collection is Black Flower Mexican Vanilla and it I am going to be honest it is one of the best recent vanilla releases. What Dame did with this perfume is frankly pretty daring when it seems like most vanillas released these days are either gut bombs or insipid cupcakes, he instead chose a middle vanilla, it's dry but not boozy, it keeps the sweet but the sugar won't kill your teeth. The opening is love letter to the iconic Shalimar in that it begins with animalic lemon tinged vanilla but then it takes a turn to the drier side the lemon is gone the musk backs down and out steps spicy dry cocoa dusted vanilla. At this point I am reminded of the lesser loved Guerlain vanilla, Cuir Beluga, a vanilla that wasn't about booze like Spiritueuse Double Vanille, but rather about skin and vanilla. Black Flower Mexican Vanilla is able to emphasize the beauty of musk and vanilla together, it is a common combination, but one that recently has been ignored and has been due for a reinvention. Dame Perfumery does a fine job in giving vanilla its sex appeal back with an actual reference to the muskiness of skin.

The next perfume I fell in love with is Cassis, Rose, and Sandalwood. So what are you getting with this scent? Well, for me this is a lovely take on two types of fragrances the berry musk category best identified with L'Artisan's Mure et Musc, Philosophy's Falling In Love, or Bath and Body Works Black Raspberry & Vanilla and my other favorite combo berried rose jam scents such as Tauer's Une Rose Vermeille, Keiko Mecheri's Attar de Roses, or the scent of LUSH's Rose Jam. Dame combines the two to make a lovely easy uber pretty perfume. The start is tart cassis, grapefruit, and green notes followed by a heart of velvety soft pink peony that is softened with musk and vanilla. The dry down rose jam with hints of vanilla and woods. The dry down is my favorite stage and thankfully stays around a long time, the longevity and strength of this perfume is excellent.

Next up is the spicy opulent brand new release Desert Rose. If you are a rose fan you owe it to yourself to try this scent. The opening is an intense rush of spicy pink carnation followed by a satiny smooth pink rose scent that retains the spice but blooms on the skin with musk, a hint of peach, and vanilla. It is lovely and sonorous and belongs in the category of queenly roses such as Neela Vermeire's Mohur and Jo Malone's Velvet Rose & Oud.

Finally there is Herb Man, Dame Perfumery's first men's offering. I like to think of this as smoothed out herbal scent, on my skin I mainly get sage, lavender, and rosemary that are supported by sueded  iris and vetiver. This is a very polished scent that blends well with the individual wearer. I think a wearer of Infusion d'Homme would really enjoy this.

What I love about these scents is that they are complete scents, they do not feel unfinished. Finally I must say that the price point for these is excellent and because he is a perfume lover himself, Jeffrey Dame smartly sells the perfumes in smaller sizes.

Disclaimer: I received these scents in a giveaway done by Dame Perfumery.

All images from

Monday, January 05, 2015

Tackling the Classics: Angelique Encens by Creed

Once long ago for a song I got a decant of Angelique Encens by Creed. It was almost on a whim that purchase and now looking back I really wish I had gotten more. Angelique Encens has now been discontinued by Creed, in the weird Creed fashion where it apparently goes into their "vault", and is then released once a decade as a limited edition. Whatever, Creed. I will stop my annoyance with Creed and go to the actual scent.

Angelique Encens is truly worthy of the adoration that those who have smelled it bestow on it. It is simply one of the most beautiful delicate dry interesting takes on incense out there. The beginning of Angelique Encens for me is the sweet entrance of angelica, a note with not enough love in perfume as far as I am concerned, easier on the nose than anise with a green sweet gentleness that perks up your mouth when you smell it. It is then followed by a soft marshmallow vanilla and a very soft dove grey amber, what then follows is the most interesting use of a cedar incense. The use of the cedar incense offering a unique spark to Angelique Encens, it keeps the scent balanced in a world of ethereal and cool.

While many associate this scent with Marlene Dietrich, the scent was made for her by Creed, I have always had other images in my head with this scent. The softness of it so wonderfully hazy that it makes for something more comforting than noir. It is a misty gray scent, all softness, but never overt.

Try if you like: L'Heure Bleau by Guerlain, Jicky by Guerlain, or Chergui by Serge Lutens.
first image provided by 
second image: Fumee d'Ambre Gris by John Singer Sargent

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Easy on the Senses: Perfumes For When You Just Want White Noise

I think my relationship with perfumes in the winter is a bit like my relationship with holiday foods. By the time January rolls around I am wanting hot, bitter, sour, and brothy foods that scream this is vitality. I find these comforting but at the same time they are utterly the opposite of the rich dense foods that start in November and end December. While I wouldn't describe them as white noise they do offer the wake-up call that my tongue very much needs after all the butter and cream.

When January rolls around I suddenly crave white noise scents. I am needing a break from the dense spices, ambers, and uber-amped scents that go great with a a holiday mood but when work and soothing come into the picture are just too much. I like to call these scents white noise scents, many would categorize them as comforting, but for me they provide the perfect veil of scent without being intrusive like white noise they keep the discordant out but allow you to focus.

Elizabeth & James Nirvana Black oil, the perfect soothing blend of sandalwood and vanilla with a dash of violet. I am frequently reminded of Tam Dao when I where this but the vanilla and violet add just a hint more creaminess. This scent is so easy and blends easily with your day.

Auric Blends Egyptian Goddess, one of the best Egyptian musks out there, and provides you with an easy clean lovely musk.

Trussardi Jeans: rainwater, violets, irises, heliotrope, and almonds all on a layer of creamy grains. A cool and warm and effect that is instantly soothing.

Ted Lapidus Silk Way, a musky light heliotrope incense with hints of cedar.

image: Liminal Moment by Bobbette Rose via

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Beginning the New Year

There is nothing quite like getting a cold to decommission you from smelling perfume and if it is a particularly nasty one it will leave you congested for a very long time. On the other hand in that time of healing and rest it allowed me to think about how I wanted to focus my perfume blogging this year. Consider it a sort of New Year's resolution list of how I want to consider perfumes this year.

*More indie perfumers! I cannot believe the amazing beautiful perfumes this group is putting out. In some ways I consider indie perfumers an offshoot of niche and many ways better. First off the customer service, the desire to communicate and see what people are loving about their perfumes, this simply does not happen with most niche lines.
*A focus on California perfumers. I feel like there is a renaissance happening here that I want to get to know. From MikMoi, Shelley Waddington, to Sonoma Scent Studio there seems to be really group of perfumers in the state that all have really wonderful visions for the perfumes they are putting out.
*At least one entry a week, I like to talk about perfume, consider it a joy, but between school and work I frequently lose track of it. I feel like I need to pay more attention to the things I enjoy.

image by Olaf Hajek