Sunday, October 19, 2014

Perfume Review: Ao by MikMoi

How does one describe such a transportive perfume as MikMoi's Ao? I think first I need to establish what it conjures in my mind. Ao is a tropical scent that has taken all the cliches out, this is not suntan lotion, or a pikake lei. It is not bright and sunny. Ao is a scent that explores the meeting of the in between areas: dusk, ocean and land, those ephemeral zones that have mystic connotations. So how does the perfumer Mik do this?

Ao creates a fine balance of tropical mysticism by ignoring the sweet aspects of tuberose and coconut. There is no doubt they play a role but the coconut is fresh and green and the tuberose is applied as though you are smelling it in a garden afar; it is noticeable but your face is not pressed into it.  He then layers smoky cade, a very green ginger, and woods around these notes. He finalizes this wonderful layering of notes with an airy mentholated note which fades but provides a luminous quality to the scent.

An interesting thing happens as this fragrance progresses to the dry down I get hints of green peach/apricot. The perfumer was actually there when I tried this scent on and he even noted that my skin had heightened this aspect in the scent, he surmised that I accentuating this quality from the tuberose. This little fruit tart note really ends up accentuating the smokiness of the cade and makes the scent even more enchanting.

Another additional quality I enjoy in Ao is the salty note that brings images of the ocean to the mind but thankfully does not make you think aquatic.

I never thought I would meet a perfume that was an introverted tropical. Yet, that is what Ao is, quiet and contemplative but full of tropical notes. It is not jovial and bright and talking about laying out in the sun with an umbrella bedecked drink. This scent is dusk, smoke, and water lapping against boats.

Ao is utterly unique and worth sniffing just to smell how someone can redo the idea of a tropical/aquatic scent. I really can't wait to explore more of MikMoi's scents and smell the new interpretations he comes up with.

Try if you like Serge Luten's Datura Noir, Diptyque Tam Dao, or L'Artisan Timbuktu.

image Mark Cross

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Made September Memorable

September went by in a frenzy. There is no other way to describe it. I started school and now all I am in is school mode. Perfume analysis is a happy oasis of not school and will remain so. All I can think of right now is school and everything else seems to be hazy memories. So a few good things I can remember that happened in September. Sorry for such a late update.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Once again I am in adoration of Rowell's talent, skill, and genuine empathy for her characters. Her world is kind but true, bad things happen, but that isn't the whole story for her characters. At times I saw way too much of college of my college self in Cath and it was both wonderful and at times annoying. Thankfully, Regan was their to keep Cath in check.
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead. I'm not quite sure what I expected but this was so much more interesting than I expected. 1970's ballet, ballet dancer defectors, and the question of passion and talent. Great read that was thoughtful and fast paced.

Only Lovers Left Alive. I wanted to crawl into this film. Jim Jarmusch has created one of those most romantic films I have seen in a long time. Utterly enveloping atmosphere that is wonderfully lush, antique, and delightfully quirky. Hiddleston and Swinton have excellent chemistry and you definitely root for them. Also, the soundtrack!

Found the uber-real Wood Violet by Sonoma Scent Studio

image from Trendnista

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Plum Quest 2014: Plum Cider or No.31 Arquiste for J.Crew

Had you told me I would be stepping into J.Crew to sniff perfume this year, I would have probably looked at you puzzled. J.Crew and I don't exactly intermix, but this year they did something that piqued my interest. They had Arquiste make them two perfume and they centered those perfumes around a really interesting historical event: Peggy Guggenheim hosting the first modern art show to showcase women in the United States, it happened in 1943. That is the sort idea I like, a perfume centered around women doing something interesting, I am rather sick of romance, seduction, sexiness, and the usual monikers of perfume themes that are directed towards women. Give me a perfume that showcases the awesomeness of Rosie the Riveter, Ada Lovelace, Hedy Lamarr, or Maya Angelou. I guess what I want is what men get in the perfume advertising: being dynamic.

So how does No.31 smell? The first thing I think of is cider, if cider were made with plums. There is a wonderful fizzy plummy spiced cider quality happening in this scent. The good news this is not at all childish smelling, it is grown up and quite classy. There is an elegant restraint to the sweetness and the Bulgarian rose note in the middle brings a hint of wine to the composition. It all sits on a modern chypre base but thankfully this is not a fruitchouli scent. The Bulgarian rose note keeps the fruit notes from taking over and provides a nice floral middle that rests on the rather nutty chypre base. Overall this is an excellent fall scent, I wish the longevity was a bit more, but at $25 the little roll-on is a steal. If you are looking for something interesting at the mall definitely give this one a try.

Try if you like: Bois des Iles by Chanel, Osmanthe Yunnan by Hermes, or Lush's 1000 Kisses.

image "Shades of Picasso" by Gilbert Adrian

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

An Elegant Musk: Chenonceau by King's Palace Perfumery

I like a good musk scent and from my completely random poll based on memory musk seems to like me too. Yet, a good musk scent is not easy to find. Frequently in this era they dry down to laundry musk, that hyper clean scent that is super crisp and at times can singe your nose with their caustic-ness. So when you find a good musk scent you need to talk about it.

King's Palace Perfumery has created an elegant and very French little musk called Chenonceau. While I'm not sure the scent evokes the era King's Palace wants it too, I can definitely say they get the casual elegant French quality with this scent. It ignores the idea of perfect cleanliness and instead goes to the idea of evoking warm skin in Autumn, when you are sitting by a fire, and wearing a favorite sweater. You are warming up and so is your sweater and from both surfaces the last wafts of the perfume that you thought was gone appears.

It is this interplay that I love in the scent. The musk of warm skin weaving in out of ideas at moments you catch a play of cocoa iris then it moves to a vanilla laced tonka bean note before moving on to a earthy amber. It is never overwhelming but it is present. It smells natural and very like powdered suede at times but before it can get too dry the tonka bean and amber provide sweetness. What I really enjoy about this musk scent is that it has layers but it is still identifiably a musk scent.

Try if you like Prada's Infusion d'Iris Absolu, Fresh's Cannabis Santal, and Chanel Allure Sensuelle.

Image: Peter Samuels

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Plum Quest 2014: The Jolly Rancher plum scent aka Prune Jasmin by Laurence Dumont Les Senteurs Gourmandes

Jolly Rancher candies bear no real resemblance to the fruits they are based on. Somehow the makers of Jolly Ranchers have distilled the strongest qualities of flavor and scent we associate with those fruits so that when we eat one we immediately think of the fruit they are based on but know also this is not in anyway like that real fruit.

Laurence Dumont Les Senteurs Gourmandes' Prune Jasmin is the Jolly Rancher variation on the plum note. In no way does it resemble a real plum but somehow when you smell it you think, yes, this is plum, but the more you think about it the more you realize this is neon version of plum. This plum scent never varies what you get is bright Jolly Rancher plum with a hint of vanilla and it stays. This scent is powerful, you will get wafts of it, and hours later the plum is still blaring. I smell no jasmine in this, although at times I think I get a waft of that modern caramel note that can be found in La Vie Est Belle and Flowerbomb. So if you want a hyper-candied version of plum try this scent, if you are wanting something more layered and realistic steer clear of this one.

Try if you like: Flowerbomb, La Vie Est Belle, or Viva la Juicy.

image by Markus Jans

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pop Culture Fun: Alicia Florrick of The Good Wife

I like to analyze at the character of Alicia Florrick in three eras: before her husband's affair, emerging independence, and her current state of confidence and leadership. In her three eras I have identified her by what scents I think she would have worn during them.

In her era before she knew of Peter's affairs I think she wore Donna Karan's Cashmere Mist. It is a comfortable scent that signify's a certain amount of my domain is domestic affairs and I am very good at what I do there. Still it is one of the smarter maternal scents out there, the structure powdery and dry with a uniquely cool jasmine note.

After the scandal of Peter's affairs coming to light, I feel that Alicia probably wanted a scent that had more armor, oomph, and intellect. She was once again a part of the job force and having to stretch her intellectual and balancing muscles. With the new status of being a lawyer again and being able to support herself and her family I think she would wear a scent like Balenciaga's Paris. Balenciaga's Paris is a mix of violet in all its forms with a cool green mossy fougere note running through it and just a hint of sweetness from a very subtle raspberry note. It is a scent that signifies determination, elegance, and business all the things that Alicia embodies at that period.  

The the current era is signified by the key turning point in Alicia's life: her affair with Will Gardner. The affair demands change considering it allows Alicia to once again become sexual and completely lets her step out of her duty of being "the good wife." Her assertiveness in her life is more obvious and she isn't shying away from showing it in her personal and business life. For Alicia's current era of life I think she is wearing Serge Luten's Feminite du Bois. The scent continues the violet theme found in Balenciaga's Paris but this violet has woods, musk, spices, and plum. The scent is more opulent, assertive, but it is also sensual. It is not an obvious sensual scent, Alicia is never one for the obvious, but there is no denying that Feminite du Bois is alluring in its use of woods and spices. It remains subtle enough that no one can question the appropriateness of it but up close the warmth of the notes suggests warm skin.

image from Tvholic

Thursday, September 25, 2014

It's a drop in the bucket, but it smells so good: the scent of rain.

Currently outside my window in the first genuine rain I have heard in California in a long time. The sound is beautiful. I hope more keeps on coming. The first rain for me is one of the most beautiful scents. It makes the earth bloom with scent; when I was a child, we lived on a ranch, and I swear when the first rain happened you could smell the manzanita berries. Breaking out an iris or heliotrope based scent today because they always remind me of rain.  Sorry for the lack of perfume posts currently fighting a cold and basically over it except for the stuffy nose.

image: Rachopin