Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Holy Orange Blossom Syrup Batman!: Loverdose L'eau de Toilette by Diesel

I remember the first time my brother and me visited France, well who wouldn't that sort of trip leaves an impression for a life time. From that trip I have always associated the flavor of fennel/anise/liquorice with France. We were taking long car trips from Normandy to the Languedoc-Roussillon region, where my grandparents had bought their retirement home in a sleepy beach community right by the Mediterranean. Being that we were children we would complain of boredom and every once in awhile one of my grandparents would hand us a small yellow container that held little black pellets and told us to try one, my brother and me were adventurous eaters so we did, and the shock of Cachou Lajaunie on our for the most part American palates must have been evident on our faces. The concentrated flavor of licorice taking over your palate and remaining there for what seemed eternity, I did not accept another one after that first try. Years later as an adult I have come to quite enjoy the flavor of anise/fennel/licorice/star anise but as a kid it was a bane to me, I often wonder how I would feel if I had Cachou Lajaunie now.

The first spriz of Diesel's Loverdose L'eau de Toilette caught be off guard just like Cachou Lajaunie and because of the very same note, it starts with an intense sweet licorice note maybe a hint of fruit notes, but mainly just a whole lot of licorice. I am not against licorice/anise notes in perfume but Loverdose is all about hitting you over the head and announcing this is a licorice factory. That opening lasts a very long time and then it morphs into something unexpected.

As I waited for the intensely strong licorice to calm down a candied note and musk started to appear, the musk thankfully not the laundry detergent kind, but one more akin to sweet musk. What eventually revealed itself was a very pure heart of orange blossom syrup, the sweetness just cane sugar so that all that shown was the orange blossom, maybe a little musk to keep it rounded but otherwise orange blossom. That scent remained to the end.

Loverdose L'eau de Toilette is not a scent I would personally wear but I cannot help but admire the fact that it has character. It takes two notes that I associate with the southern France, anise and orange blossom, and basically introduces them to Las Vegas. It is bright and forward, it makes me think of alternative pop like Grimes and Charlie XCX. Actually the whole time I wore this I thought of Charlie XCX and her giant shoes, her throwback 80s and 90s fashion, and well here is her music video that exemplify's this scent to me:
Yes, this scent is youthful, but it is not the usual caramel notes rather it goes for the jugular with licorice.

Try if you like: Lolita Lempicka, Armani Code, La Petit Robe Noir, Les Couvents des Minimes Orange Blossom, Classique Jean Paul Gaultier.

Cachou Lajaunie image courtesy of Design Mom

Monday, July 28, 2014

A Day at the Beach: Vanille Divine des Tropiques

I don't go to the beach often. Getting from where I live to the beach involves two very congested pieces of road in the summer and those are basically the only two ways to get there. On the other hand after yesterday I am determined to do it more often. The burnt out dry brittle summer of Northern California is getting to me, more so this year because of the intense blistering drought. I was born and raised here and yet I am not a summer person, give me cool wet autumnal weather and I am happy. The beaches of Northern California are not the warm tropical wonders or bright summer paradises that people consider ideal beaches. The beaches here are dark crashing wonders for the most part, the water always cold, and the sand never perfectly white, it is also frequently overcast and foggy. Yesterday, was one of those rare days when the sun peeped out but the cool breeze remained. I celebrated my beach day by wearing La Maison de la Vanille's  Vanille Divine des Tropiques a tropical scent that is a little different.

Vanille Divine des Tropiques first surprise is that it begins with aldehydes, not extreme aldehydes but none the less they are there. The aldehydes dissipate quickly and then it enters the creamy white floral stage part, what I find interesting is I get the distinct mentholated cooling impression of ylang ylang in this section yet ylang ylang is not mentioned on the notes but as they say you can't always believe the listing of notes. As the scent progresses a distinct animalic musk note enters, nothing frightening like the Musc Kublai Khan arena but it definitely plays a supporting role keeping the scent in check never letting it become too cupcake like. Overall I enjoy this tropical scent because it uses frequently unused notes in its tropicalness the aldehydes replace the role of citrus/pineapple and coconut base is replace by an animalic musk. It really allows for the blend of white florals and vanilla to be seen and play out on the skin.

Try if  you like: Songes by Annick Goutal, Sicily by Dolce & Gabbana, Dilmun by Lorenzo Villoresi, Sira des Indes by Jean Patou, Do Son by Diptyque, Grand Neroli by Atelier Cologne, Vanillary by LUSH, and Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder.

Image of Aria Giovanni.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Tackling the Classics: Angel by Thierry Mugler

Welcome to the first entry in the Tackling the Classics series where I take a look at iconic scents and see if they live up to the hype on myself. Today we take a look at the legendary and groundbreaking Angel.

What has not been said about Angel? It is considered the booming loud opera voice that brought the gourmand genre to the forefront*, it is without a doubt the scent that you will have an opinion on, in fact I would say it is impossible not to have an opinion on Angel.

What is Angel for me? I think first thing I should mention is Angel has always caught me off guard by its name, Angel you think angelic, soft downy cherubs, but Mugler instead decided to go with the idea of the avenging angel Gabriel. In this case Gabriel's sword is patchouli and chocolate and unfortunately if not used right you could easily bludgeon onlookers with this scent. We have all heard the stories of the person who wore too much Angel.

After sampling Angel multiple times I have found it to be patchouli overload and sadly it remains just that on me. Every once in awhile I will get a glimmer of the other notes, but Angel overall for me is a particular patchouli that I have come to realize never melds well on me. It is what I call damp hay patchouli. Damp hay patchouli smells of dry sweet patchouli with the unnerving and not delightful note of hay that has been soaked with water and allowed to sit awhile. The other note that causes issue for me is the candyfloss note, now for many this note is a delightful gourmand note, but for me takes on an acrid limp quality that that just stagnates on my skin. It took me awhile to figure out what was causing this effect but I fully realized it when I tried the discontinued L'Artisan Vanilia which uses the same candyfloss note in a much larger percentage.

Yet, I do know the beauty and proclamation of Angel, just not on me. Years ago I had a colleague who wore it and on her it was swoon worthy sillage, Kuljeet's skin brought out the bittersweet chocolate, and fruit notes. What it ended up smelling like on her was the dark chocolate the kind with wine and berry notes.

As for the type of angel that Angel is, I think it is far more akin to Tilda Swinton's Gabriel in Constantine (the only good thing about that movie).

*Although, it should be noted that there are many fragrances before it that skirted the gourmand territory but never fully bellowed it like Angel.

image provided by http://www.theperfumeshop.com/fcp/product/womens-fragrances/thierry-mugler/angel/1580

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Humidity and What Scents I am Using to Survive It

Bay Area summers are dry and arid, except suddenly it has not been, it has remained warm but suddenly we have humidity. Real humidity, the sort that people from back east say reminds them of home. We have yet to get to the extremes of humidity, thankfully, but this different heat has definitely required approaching different fragrances. Currently surviving the humidity has required these fragrances.

-Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan, osmanthus has always bloomed in the heat, but give it a little humidity and you hit the jackpot of this scent blooming. The balminess of the petals come out. I actually used up my decant of Osmanthe Yunnan this week. Also excellent is Parfum d'Empire's Osmanthus Interdite.
-Atelier Cologne's Grand Neroli, a great cologne in the mugginess, the neroli scent fresh and dry, and beautifully accentuated by cedar and oakmoss with just a drop of vanilla to smooth it out. I suspect I will also be finishing up my bottle due to this humidity.
-Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien, I admit I enjoy spritzing this most at night, the cooling notes of basil and cypress making sleep a little bit easier. A great spritzer on my sheets right before bed.
-Diptyque Eau Moheli, a supremely pretty ylang ylang cologne accented by a refreshing ginger. Great after a shower.
-Marc Jacobs Blush, a clean effusive peachy spiced jasmine. Every time I spritz it I think of a peach oolong gin and tonic.
-The original Ivoire de Balmain, a dry citrus chypre floral that will not take guff from the humidity. Makes me like I am wearing light crisp linen.
-Miller Harris's Figue Amere, the perfect bitter fig amaro. Salty and herbal and just right for surviving summer but especially great on balmy summer days.

Image by Alexandra Valenti

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pop Culture Fun: Olivia Pope of Scandal

I have a love hate relationship with Scandal, it is fun because it is fast, and never fails not to go to crazy town on the other hand because it is a Shonda Rhimes vehicle (trust me I know what I am talking about I watched Grey's Anatomy and Private Practice in the early years) it will naturally get caught up in the worst romances ever. In this case Olivia and Fitz aka "I AM THE PRESIDENT OF THE FREE WORLD AND I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT OLIVIA, NOW DROP YOUR PANTS!"

So I will leave my hatred of Fitz for now and focus on the legendary Olivia Pope who I really hope at some point finds a better man and stops living Pearl Jam's "Better Man" as her anthem for dating.

So where to begin in choosing Olivia Pope a perfume, what do we know about Olivia Pope, the incredibly tragic life in general, she always wears neutral tones, this woman rocks champagne and creams a lot, she has many a connection, and she is very good at her job. She is always about appearing cool and calm but we know under that surface she has many issues. As I thought about Olivia I realized pretty fast this was not someone wearing a traditionally romantic scent or anything loud. That quickly took away a lot of notes, I eventually settled on one note though that I felt would need to play a prominent role in perfume of choice: iris. Irises are cool, dry, and consistently calming in their effect in perfumes. But, as I thought about it more Olivia is a romantic I mean the
fantasy of her and Fitz on a farm in Vermont is most definitely romantic and utterly delusional. As I thought about modern fragrances I realized many just do not play with the tragic in their scents, so I felt that Olivia was going to be wearing a classic. I eventually came up with the ultimate tragic scent for me: Guerlain L'Heure Bleue. Oh it is romantic and sweet to an extent but the play of iris, incense, and amber in this scent has always hit a chord of sadness that has made it hard for me to wear. It is romantic but not what we now consider romantic. To me it fits perfectly Olivia's constantly act of strong and cool combined with over the top passions and desires and how in this case they are not balanced at all.

image provided by http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/04/kerry-washington-s-hair-evolution-as-olivia-pope-on-scandal.html and http://www.guerlain.com/int/en-int/fragrance/womens-fragrances/lheure-bleue

Monday, July 21, 2014

Velvet Thorned Rose: L'Arte di Gucci

Somehow in my years of perfume swapping I got a decant of L'Arte di Gucci and since then I have hoarded it, so much so, that I forgot how beautiful it is. L'Arte di Gucci belongs in a special category for me, the category of a chypre that works for me.

L'Arte di Gucci begins with a sweet warm inky rose that is accented with notes of plum. Once again I am entranced by another night rose scent. This is very much a lady of the night scent, what it ends up reminding the most of though is dark plum raw satin, the silky rose is roughened with a hint of moss and leather.  It's funny that this scent is considered a big scent of the 80s because at this point after going through a decade of nuclear fruitchoulis this scent is rather mysterious and playing on a lower octave than the bombastic scents of now. As the dry down comes along notes of vetiver, coriander, musk, and a very light patchouli come through. Yet, this scent for me is never overbearing the rose smooths out the rough edges of chypres for me and the dark elegance remains.

In my head this scent is an Anjelica Huston woman, someone with these gorgeous prominent features, yet patrician qualities.

Try if you like: Agent Provocateur, Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud, Rochas Femme, Coriandre.

image from: http://www.moviemoviesite.com/Awards/us_academy_awards/58th.htm

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Floating in a Dark Rose Heaven: Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud

I fluctuate between favorite notes, they guide me to perfumes, sometimes I will find something completely different to adore, but there are those notes that always grab our attention when mentioned in perfume. Mine are: ylang ylang almond, vanilla, tobacco, rose, orange blossom, osmanthus, loukhoum, raspberry/blackberry, fig, and cinnamon. Of late I have been on a rose quest, the type of rose quest that has been down the path of gourmand roses. I have always tended to like the juicy jammy rose scents, the ones that make you want to bite down onto rose petals. I had never fully gone down the road until last year when I purchased a LUSH Rose Jam Bubbleroon and suddenly all I wanted was gourmand roses.

One of the great finds of this never ending gourmand rose quest is Jo Malone's Velvet Rose & Oud, it happened rather accidentally I was trying to smell Jo Malone's Rose Water & Vanilla but could not so randomly decided to try this and I was blown away when I suddenly smelled one of the most delicious jammy rose liquors on the scent strip. I was rather dumbstruck as I stood in the mall smelling the sort of rose scent I was looking for and in of all places at the Jo Malone booth. Jo Malone and I style wise had never met in the perfume catagory, always something was off when I tried one of her scents, although I had admired them on friends.

Velvet Rose & Oud is mainly about perfect dark jammy rose liquor the scent is then supported by a very mellow oud that thankfully is not medicinal. The praline acts to add sweetness but I can really not distinguish it in the scent, I think it more of as a gentle melder, depending on the day every once in awhile I will get a peak of the spiced clove. The quality it makes me think of like being surrounded in a forest with lush red roses and perfectly velvety night, it reminds me of those strange warm autumn nights when the leaves are changing, there is the smell of change in the air, and yet the chill has not arrived. It is seductive but there is no heavy animalic notes, it is easy to wear because it makes the wearer comfortable in its plush smoothness but elegant in the obvious quality of the rose.

Try if you like: Keiko Mecheri Attar de Roses, LUSH Rose Jam, Caron Parfum Sacre, Parfums Generale Brulure de Roses, and Yves Rocher Rose Absolue.

images from: http://purplehandsss.tumblr.com/post/40261682536 and http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/77/4d/97/774d97f429f0bac273531e8acf612e2f.jpg