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 and

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:

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: and

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Dalal by Al-Rehab: Caramel on a Budget

Today we explore another cheapie that gets a lot of love: Dalal by Al-Rehab. Dalal like Nebras has quite a following with many calling it a dupe for quite very niche fragrances: Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens, Botrytis by Ginistet, Escada Collection by Escada, and Venezia by Laura Biagotti. The scent though for me was another story and suspect this is a scent that is very susceptible to body chemistry.

Dalal for me is pure caramel, the opening is a bit rough with a strange almost plastic cherry note, but once it warms upon the skin is pure caramel. It actually ended up reminding me the most of Victor&Rolf's Flowerbomb and BBW's Sensual Amber yet unlike those two no patchouli or amber shows up instead it remains mainly caramel with the edition of candied bergamot and vanilla and maybe a hint of sandalwood. While it was pleasant to be around Dalal, I just found it to be too much caramel for me. My preferred caramel is Prada Candy because it is lightly done. On the other hand for a caramel lover I think Dalal is an amazing find that you should definitely try. This is a review of the oil.

Try if you like: Prada Candy, Victor&Rolf Flowerbomb, BBW Sensual Amber, Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy, Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot, La Maison de la Vanille Vanille Fleurie de Tahiti.

image from:

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Fragrance History Via Compliments

It's funny rarely does my fragrance identity really match up with the perfumes that get me compliments. I like to associate myself with woodier more exotic scents but my history of compliment collecting perfumes show that what is perceived to smell good on me is not that. So for the heck of it I decided to do a very unscientific mainly from memory survey of what perfumes in my fragrance past garnered compliments. For the heck of it I broke it down into three catagories perfume women like, perfume men like, and the universal crowd pleasers. I wanted to see if I could up with some deductions. Many of these no longer a part of my wardrobe as in used up but still remembered.

First up the universally loved:

-Prada Infusion d'Iris and Infusion d'Iris Absolue, who knew that this iris scent and flanker would be such a compliment inducer for me. Usually it is after I have been hugged and a friend or boyfriend in this case will say I smell good. Funny, I think this may be one of the few flankers I have ever bought, but Prada and me have a good fragrance history. I don't consider myself much of an iris person but this one has always blended quite well with me.
-Lolita Lempicka, this was a gift in high school, and I still have the original bottle. It was my first grown up perfume and to this day remains an old and wonderful friend. The universal vanillic scent that people seem to like on me. I bring this one out in the fall and always end up shocked in realizing just how delightful it is. So to 15 year old me, you had good taste kid.
-Serge Luten Un Bois Vanille, really this is to easy. It is one of those scents that is impossible to dislike, okay there are people who don't like it but really very few can say it is awful to be around. This probably the vanilla I get the most compliments on and women really find it intriguing. 
-Auric Blend's Egyptian Goddess, I put this on, and the compliments just flow. This is the cheapie that everyone likes and honestly it really does smell good on me. 
-Narciso Rodriguez for Her, frank truth as the survey went I basically realized people just really like me in musk scents. This one has always been a date night scent for me and SOs have always reacted positive to it. 
-Serge Luten Clair de Musc, oh look another musk, not shocking one bit. People just really like  musks on me.
-Philosophy Grace, once again another clean musk. Used a bottle up years ago.
-Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, honestly once again a musk. Still I loved the clean patchouli note in here that definitely had some ambrette to help it.
-Bath and Body Works White Tea and Ginger, yup this is from ages ago, a very well thought scent pick for me from a friend, and I could just walk into a room, and someone would say "What is that lovely smell?"
-L de Lolita Lempicka: orange, cinnamon, and vanilla really who does not like that?
-Kenzo Eau de Fleur de Magnolia, easy lemony tea floral. 
-Guerlain Vetiver, I love this anomaly in the survey I always feel so chic when I wear it. 

What the Ladies Like*:
-Chanel Bois des Iles, what can I say women just seem to know how to appreciate this classic far more than men, which I have always considered a shame. 
-Trussardi Jeans, women love this one on me. I don't know why but this is probably the most divided scent between the genders. 
-Hermes Jour d'Hermes, once again women love this on me, and men well I feel like they must be anosmic to it. 
-Marc Jacobs Blush, okay the theme is florals, and apparently dudes not so much into them on me from all appearances.
-L'Artisan Traversee du Bhosphore, honestly I thought of this being more in the dude range with the sweeter notes, but nope. 
-My Calvin Klein Contradiction knock-off in high school, it really did smell good.

The man bait (apparently):
-Chanel N.22, go figure, I don't even know how to explain this one, you would think Bois des Iles, but nope, this aldehydic incense vanilla accented white floral.
-Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage, okay maybe a white floral theme shows up, but it is not the gardenia lust bombs that people talk about. 
-Prada Candy, so unsurprising, this sweet little benjoin number is perfect for snuggling.
-Serge Luten Feminite du Bois, finally something I find sexy that appeals to the opposite sex. Side note my skin really accentuates the musk in this so not to shocking with history of musk scents.
-By Kilian Back to Black, lets face it this scent does what it was meant to do.
-Philosophy Falling In Love, went through a bottle of this in my early twenties, and the berry vanilla combination was always a compliment getter.
-Diptyque Philosykos, this one is just so easy to like. The boyfriend especially liked it.
-Bvlgari Omnia, a snuggly creamy gourmand musk. Honestly another no brainer musk for me.
-Dolce and Gabbana Sicily, a little bit of a weirdo scent that definitely got compliment.
-Kuumba Made Vanilla Musk, the first time I put this on I was in a Whole Foods, I did not look the greatest, and some guy started following me around like a second later after putting this on. Once again musk wins with the universal vanilla.
-Elie Saab Le Parfum, look another white floral but with lots of musk and woods. Not shocking.

In conclusion what is Jen's compliment inducing scents: musks. I am frankly a little bit happy it is not all vanilla. What I really wanted: roses and sweet tobacco scents but it is musk if I want compliments. Absurd amounts of musk.

*And yes that title is supposed to be totally ridiculous.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Figue Fruitee, pure fig jam.

The first perfume I ever bought myself was Demeter's Fig at Sephora, I was I think 15 at the time. It was quite transformative fragrance moment for me because up to that moment I had never encountered a fig based perfume but from then on I was hooked on the scent of fig. Over the years my fragrance wardrobe has usually at least contained one fig fragrance, currently though I am without.

Au Pay de la Fleur d'Orangers Figue Fruitee is the first time I have encountered what I would call a fig jam fragrance. I am used to the cool dry coconut ones with lots of cedar but Figue Fruitee goes in another direction it is all about lush ripe figs, sure there are supporting notes but through and through this is about fig. Figue Fruitee is mainly supported by a fruity green rhubarb accord, the snappy bright quality of rhubarb blending perfectly with the fig notes to create a quality of sweet tart. Those notes are then mildly supported by walnut that gives a rather spicy accent that makes me think of cinnamon and then finally the grounding of cedar and musk, they are very background because really this is all about fig. Figue Fruitee is a simple scent which is devoted to lovingly showing of fig for a fig lover sometimes that is all you need. The use of a green rhubarb note makes it very jammy and tart and interesting enough for a fig lover to definitely keep on sniffing it.

Try if you like: Diptyque Philosykos, Pacifica Tuscan Fig, Burberry Brit Red, Commes des Garcons Rhubarb.

image above provided by
Disclosure: samples provided to me by the company but all opinions are mine.