Friday, June 19, 2015

The Scents of Summer

Considering Summer is now 2/3 of California's year, I was bound to do this list. Sigh, grand irony I'm not a giant summer scent sort of person so part of this list may come off as one woman's attempt to wear anything that can remind her of another season other than summer. Alright, there are a few utter summer choices on the list, but I hope there are a few that seem little different.

Because Summer is Trying to Roast You Alive

Vetiver by Guerlain, perhaps the best cooling tonic I can think of. Wearing this makes me feel cool, calm, collected, and a bit forest-y. A prime example of why vetiver is popular in countries that are hot and humid, also perfect in hot dry places too. Once I run out of my decant of this will have to explore more vetiver scents.

Eau de Minimes Cologne by Le Couvent des Minimes, everyone needs a some sort of classic cologne in their collection for the summer. I recently used up my Atelier Cologne Oolang Infini and Bois Blonds and don't have a bottle of 4711 on me so Eau de Minimes it is for this summer. I bought heavily discounted from Ulta and it fits my cologne needs. This starts with the classic neroli with lemon, orange, and rosemary. It is fine and easy and finishes on a rather modern clean musk with hints of soap. Genius, not in the least but cologne in a middle of the day when crossing the parking is hell should not be genius it just needs to be refreshing.

Osmanthus Interdite by Parfum d'Empire, this scent blooms best in humidity. While I wear it throughout the summer, loving the tart apricot tea leather notes of the scent, only in humidity does the sweetness of the florals in Osmanthus Interdite come out and develop on the skin.

Because You are an Adult Who Works in the Summer and Vacation is Way Too Damn Short

Ao by MikMoi, what more can be said about this genius non-cliched take on a tropical mystical vacation in the bottle that is all serenity. The serenity of this scent I suspect is going to save me a few times this summer between work and school.

Songes by Annick Goutal, heavy incense, vanilla, and tropical ylang-ylang and frangipani, sounds like too much doesn't? Nope, the factor that makes it swoon worthy on hot nights is that super dry incense note that keeps everything in check. Sure you are in the tropics and the humidity has the flowers blaring but there is a dry edge that keeps it in check.

Elle L'Aime by Lolita Lempicka, perhaps the poster child for tropicals for the girl next door. Elle L'Aime is all about the pretty. There is no jarring note in this lime, coconut, and ylang-ylang fusion its fresh, sweet, and frothy. Yes, it sounds like a tropical drink and at first veers there but the use of ylang-ylang keeps the scent centered and no one will accuse you of just smelling like sunscreen.

Sicily by Dolce and Gabbana, I feel that this is the closest a Mediterranean scent will ever get to monoi notes that frequently define scents inspired by the tropics. In this case it feels like what if monoi was created in Italy. Creamy citrus flowers, jasmine, banana, spice, and sandalwood are what you would get. This scent is languid and suggests nap filled afternoons with barely a sheet on the bed.

I Need Something Different

Coriandre by Jean Courturier, cool mosses with hints of summer dust in the shade, sounds wrong but is oh so right with soapy aldehydes playing their role.

Gris Clair by Serge Lutens, cool lavender with incense and tonka like surrounding yourself in a cool grey mist. Clarity through the haze of heat.

L'Eau de Kenzo Amour by Kenzo, milky sweet oolang tea. Sounds wrong but somehow the rice pudding vanilla and tart dry tea note work it out.

Image by Jodi Cobb from National Geographic

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Summer Slump and Moving

No, I have not stopped thinking about scent. Unfortunately, I have hit the summer slump. For me the summer slump is simply it is too hot for the perfumes I find really interesting and it has been summer here in the Bay Area for awhile. Currently I am reassessing my collection and trying to find fresh scents I find compelling for my wardrobe.

Also on the table has been the fact I have recently moved and currently we are settling down so my perfumes are all over the place in boxes and of course are not necessarily the high priority as much as finding our coffee mugs.

So right now trying to figure out what would make me happy in a summer scent.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

My New Favorite Diva Orange Blossom: Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense

Once you love a note, you start to see the holes in your collection for that note, and you start to search for the variation you want. You become obsessed with finding the perfect "fresh", "gourmand", "woody", etc., for a particular note. Of late as you know I have been in love with jammy/gourmand roses. Before that I was basically looking for a marshmallow/gourmand orange blossom which I found in Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger Neroli Blanc Intense Eau de Parfum. As for my everyday radiant orange blossom, it has been Elie Saab's Le Parfum. For an excellent take on a creamy incense orange blossom I pick up Lorenzo Villoresi's Dilmun. Anyways, my point is I like orange blossom and it has occurred to me that I don't have a big voluptuous orange blossom scent in my collection. Well, it actually didn't occur to me until I sampled Elie Saab's Le Parfum Intense* and boom there it was hole in my collection I was made aware of. I don't have a shoulder pad wearing diva orange blossom that is for the evening or being the center of the party.

We should back up a moment though and discuss Elie Saab's Le Parfum, which is a modern vibrant orange blossom that has Francis Kurkdjian's signature smooth musk and crystalline glow all around it. It is orange blossom on hyper-drive and is utterly modern, I love it, and always feel put together when I wear it. What I also love is the cedar basenote that Kurkdjian implements in its drydown it keeps the scent away from the ever overused modern patchouli drydown you can find everywhere these days. The cedar also makes the scent never go into the territory of over sweet. It is bright and modern but at the same time no slouch, on the other hand it is pretty ladylike.

Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense is the less ladylike variation, it is frankly the variation of Le Parfum on the prowl. Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense is about going into the sweet territory thankfully Kurkdjian recognizes is what he wants from the use of sweet, it is heady and drenched. This is a not a gourmand sweet but rather Kurkdjian has dunked his orange blossoms in honey and liquid amber and thrown a few chewy dried apricots in. What you get is a heady narcotic white blossom variation on the original Elie Saab Le Parfum, Intense is still radiant but the cedar has been toned down, and role of honey has been heightened and amber has warmed up the scent. The scent is no longer about silk but instead velvet and brocade.

Try Elie Saab Le Parfum Intense if you like Elie Saab Le Parfum, Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger Neroli Blanc Intense Eau de Parfum, or Serge Luten's Fleurs d'Oranger.

*Can we all be honest that Francis Kurkdjian is great perfume creator but good god, his creations no matter the designer or himself for that matter, have some of the most confusing names for their flankers.

first image from
second image Guy Aroch

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heliotrope Confection, Tackling A Classic: Farnesiana by Caron

Here is what I can tell you about my decant of Caron's Farnesiana it is from before the era of extreme reformulations but probably not from the era of perfect vintage goodness. On the other hand Caron's Farnesiana is the perfume I have smelled closest to actually capturing the scent of heliotrope. The first time I smelled the heliotrope was years ago while visiting a friend in Chicago and the day before my departure we visited the amazing Chicago Botanical Gardens, where I spied the tiny dark purple flowers of heliotrope. I remember being so shocked by the scent of heliotrope because truly it was almond accented with a cool pungent quality to it. Such a powerful distinct scent wafted from those tiny little violet flowers.

Much has been written about Farnesiana and what I always run across is the emotions it can conjure in the wearer. For me Farnesiana is an unapologetically feminine confection of a scent. It reminds of tea parties, candied flowers, and pastels. You are entering a sunlit sitting room that most definitely has something frilly on the table and there is delicate China. I sort of adore the fact this scent is the unapologetic uber-feminine. It is rare to actually find that in a scent these days, a great deal of the time now it is also paired with sexy, sporty, or fresh. I am reminded a bit of the Gothic Lolita movement and can easily see this scent working perfectly with those fun uber-feminine dark edged little outfits.

Underneath the heliotrope and mimosa of Farnesiana there lurks a balsamic mix of vanilla, anise, and opoponax which gives the scent an unexpected darker depth. Yet, the heliotrope goodness of Farnesiana never leaves even as the dry down comes into view. The powder and balsamic co-mingle and I am reminded just a bit of the French spice bread Pain d'Epice.

Overall, Caron's Farnesiana for me is an opus to Heliotrope. It is a gourmand that plays with the almond-y facets of heliotrope and lets the wearer be in a place of supreme calm and pretty.

Try if you like Guerlain's L'Heure Bleue, L'Artisan's Jour de Fete, Trussardi Jeans for her, or Sonoma Scent Studio's Lieu de Reves.

First image from Caron.
Second image from Cashmere Lover

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Serenity and Spring and Tackling A Classic: Climat by Lancome

It took me about 8 years to appreciate this scent and yet yesterday I had one of those total zen moments when your perfume is exactly what you need for the day and matches the beauty you see in the day. This does not happen often. Climat, I finally get you. I couldn't get you in my mid-twenties and maybe I needed a terrible drought to appreciate you but damn yesterday you were the perfect embodiment of what my heart needed to get through the day.

Climat is an example of family of perfumes that has taken me a very long time to appreciate, a green floral emphasized with aldehydes. This scent smells classic and it is very classic in the sense that it has no sweetness. Climat probably works for me because it does not feature the signature green note that most green perfumes use: galbanum. Yet, there is no mistaking Climat for being anything else than a green floral scent.

Climat is stepping into a cool green spring forest. There are lush green hills, a creek in the background, cool dark damp earth, and lily of the valley and narcissus blooming. Below all that is a warm civet accented musk, on me this is all very clean and warm, but for others I can see this is either where the scent plays nice on you or becomes something else. The beginning of Climat is aldehydes, thankfully not too pungent or nose searing, in fact they are fairly gentle. You then enter a perfect melange of woods, narcissus, and lily of the valley. This melange stays around for quite awhile with the florals slowly leaving, what then enters the dry down is a mossy mix of musk and woods with a good dose of vetiver. It is an incredibly clean and earthy scent, I want to say soapy, but this is not the traditional soapy, this violet earthy soapy, there is a very mineral like quality to the dry down which I attribute to the mix of earthy and clean.

The variation of Climat I am reviewing today is from Lancome's La Collection release from my understanding there is a great deal of variation in the releases of Climat so try with caution. This one is by many considered the best of the recent releases because it is especially close to the original offering.

Try Climat if you like Trefle Pur by Atelier Cologne, Balenciaga Paris by Balenciaga, or Au Dela - Narcisse des Montagnes by Bruno Fazolarri (I actually have a theory that Climat Inspired this scent).

First image from
Second image 'Dreaming of Pomegranates' by Felice Casorati

Friday, May 01, 2015

Fuzzy, Warm, Fresh, and Golden: Onde Extase by Giorgio Armani

Isn't that bottle mysterious and attractive? I love it but I must say I don't think it actually represents the juice inside it. The color of that bottle should have been a variation on warm golden yellows with hints of green because that is what Armani's Onde Extase smells like as far as color is concerned. On the other hand I sort of adore that the bottle is not a "traditional" feminine color.

Onde Extase is a scent that was a bit ahead of its time. It came along in the era of fruity florals and niche scents exploring incense and woods. If it were released now with woodier and more floral scents being the trendier scents on the market I suspect it would have been a different story. Onde Extase is a soothing and pretty blend of florals and woods.

The floral aspect of Onde Extase is of two lesser loved floral notes a fluffy effusive mimosa and a gentle narcissus note that adds a hint of elegant greenery supporting these floral notes is a creamy jasmine which frequently hints at jasmine green tea. The mimosa is the most prominent of the floral notes, it is happy and resplendent, it's golden sunlight in late afternoon.

What supports the florals is cedar, sesame, musk, and a tiny hint of vanilla. The most interesting aspect for me is the gentle use of cedar it is not the patchouli so frequently used now or the smooth liquor wood accord found in Estee Lauder's Sensuous, but cedar, a note rarely these days emphasized in feminine perfumes. Combined with the sesame note it creates a warm nutty fuzzy base for the florals.

Overall the effect of Onde Extase is lightness, smoothness, powder, and tranquility. I am reminded of tea and incense in a mountain garden fully blooming with butterflies fluttering.

Try if you like: Yves Saint Laurent's Cinema, Bvlgari's Bvlgari Pour Femme, Lorenzo Villoresi's Dilmun, or Donna Karan's Gold.

First image from
second image from

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Roses and Pomelo: Sud Magnolia by Atelier Cologne

Don't let the ad-copy fool Sud Magnolia is neither a southern scent nor a opulent magnolia scent on the other hand it is a very pretty fresh scent with a few tricks up its sleeve.

I'll say it now the best part of Sud Magnolia for me is the opening. It is a wonderful mix of the cool bubblegum note you can get from magnolia with orange and a vibrant note of saffron. The saffron is a fun addition that you don't usually see in fresh floral fragrances and after smelling it in Sud Magnolia I think someone needs to run with the idea. The saffron highlights the spicy coolness of the scent and keeps the orange in check.

As the saffron and orange retreat out comes a fresh rose, which is very peony-esque, and it is coupled with a gorgeous pomelo note. I happen to love the scent of pomelo finding it to be a combination of grapefruit, jasmine, and lime it is wonderfully heady, sweet, and tart all at the same time. The rose and pomelo combination create a cheery and fresh floral scent that cheerfully sticks around. Every once in awhile you catch a hint of cedar but the scent is mainly anchored by musk, the usual clean musk, but one of the trademarks of Atelier Cologne is they are able to keep the citrus around also.

Sud Magnolia has good longevity and should definitely appeal to fans of spritely fresh florals.

Try if you like Dame Perfumery's Cassis, Rose, and Sandalwood, Cacharel's Noa Fleur, Atelier Cologne's Orange Sanguine, Keiko Mecheri's Sanguine, or Kenzo' s Eau de Fleur de Magnolia.

first image from
Second image from