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

Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumn Bounty

Today is the first day of Autumn, which for me is always a cause for a little celebration, it is my favorite season, and here in California probably the most elusive. It arrives so much later than in other regions that I think once it arrives I really make the point of reveling in it. So here are the scents I am looking forward to wearing once a chill arrives in the air and corresponding Autumn-like images I like to think they evoke :-).

Nebras by Al-Rehab. I have been looking so forward to this warm powdery floral in fall.

Anglomania by Vivienne Westwood. A spicy powdery rose scent with hints of leather, yet soft enough for everyday wear.

Arquiste No.31 for J. Crew. Delicious plum rose cider scent.

Traversee du Bosphore by L'Artisan. A strange wonderful combination of rosewater loukhoum, tart apples, light suede, light tobacco, and powder yet wonderfully wearable.

Geisha Noire by Aroma M. Spicy seductive dark amber and sandalwood.
Just a few of the fragrances I plan to wear. What do you plan to take out for Autumn?

Nebras image from: Sh3noonte
Anglomania image from: Anna Berezovskaya
Arquiste image Daniel Merriam
Traversee image Maria Zhelibskaya
Geisha Noire image Courtney Johnson

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Brisk and Happy: Wood Sage and Sea Salt by Jo Malone

Had you told me I was going to like this scent, I would have guffawed. I actually smelled it about a month ago on paper and really did not think much of it. In fact I would have not given it a second thought had I not read other's reviews of it saying you have to try it on the skin because on paper it is lackluster.

So what makes Wood Sage and Sea Salt by Jo Malone so enjoyable, for me it is the buchu note. The first time I encountered buchu was LUSH's Ponche body wash and what buchu provides is a bright citrus black current hybrid of a scent, but thankfully no cat urine note. In Wood Sage and Sea Salt buchu makes a play between a salty mountainous coast and black currents. For me it is the best type of coast line rugged and full of forests and crashing waves. There is nothing tropical about this scent but it does evoke the ocean. There is a salty tangy thing going on that is rather addictive. I will say I do not smell any sage, in fact nothing particularly herbal about it. What it is though is salt laced berries on a coast line. One major problem though with this scent is the longevity is close to nil, you will have to mad spritz to get it to stay a little, and at its price point that is a big problem.

Try if you like: L'Artisan Mure et Musc, LUSH Ponche products, and Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil.

image from: Stefan Irvine/

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Plum Quest 2014: Wood Violet by Sonoma Scent Studio

We grow a lot of plums in California. Now that I think of it we are probably the state that grows the most plums. The Santa Rosa plum was created in California. We are a plummy state. Going to the farmer's market here at the right time of year is like being in plum land, the sheer variety is amazing. So getting to the point: I know plums. In fact I like plums enough that I want a well done plum scent, something that bursts with plumminess, which if you are a perfume lover know is bizarrely rare to find. So I have started my plum quest, a search to find the plummiest fragrance I can get (reasonably). For an idea of what I am going to try or what I have deemed not plummerific enough check this post.

So the beginning of this quest has started with the wonderfully local Sonoma Scent Studio's Wood Violet. I would like to add how proud I am to know that this amazing perfumer is from California and creating some of the best niche fragrances out there. The quality is amazing and what I love about her perfumes is that they always feel finished, there is never a point where I think well this note feels off or the depth isn't right, they feel so wonderfully classically finished.

Wood Violet opens with one of the plum rich beginnings I have ever smelled in a perfume. This is a rich plum note, at full ripeness, the point where the honeyed flavor of a plums is the most intense. This opening is hyper realistic, I have frankly never smelled a plum opening quite so realistic. This opening stays around for quite awhile and yet what will catch you off guard is that violet comes in so smoothly, perfectly melding with plum that you are rather shocked when you realize it has fully taken over. What I find so interesting is that Laurie Erickson makes this transition so utterly seamless and they way she does it is by emphasizing the banana leather note you smell in violets and plums. The scent begins its middle stage where the violet is reigning queen, the plum is still there giving the scent a rather velvet depth, but now the scent is about violet. The scent finally ends on a warm cedar-y musky dry down at this point it is very akin to Serge Luten's Feminite du Bois but Erickson makes it even smoother there are hints of violet leaf  and a very tiny hint of spices that keep the scent very rounded.

Wood Violet is most definitely inspired by Feminite du Bois but where as FdB becomes a cedar spice musk story, Laurie Erickson decides to run with the violet, and let it be the major player in the story. Along the way she also decided to emphasize the role of the plum in doing so she created a riper lush scent that emphasizes the magic of a well done violet scent.

Try if you like Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens, Jolie Madame by Balmain, or Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka.  

image from Sarahmet

Friday, September 12, 2014

Great Scent Disappointments

The subject of great scent disappointments is not about badly made scents. It is instead about the scents that everyone is getting something amazing from and it sounds perfect for you but once you try it, the scent just does not meld. You hype these scents in your mind, they will be the answer to perfume quests, and then they are utter and complete disappointment.

First up L'Artisan Havana Vanille, oh this one was going to be the dark smoky tobacco vanilla that I was looking for. Everyone was loving it and the note description sounded exactly like something that was going to work for me. The moment samples were available I ordered one, the moment the package came I opened it hurridly, and put it on expecting something akin to scent euphoria. I admit now that is a lot of pressure for a perfume but what I got was something akin to coca cola hay with a hint of vanilla. I could not quite believe my nose, I sampled it the next day but there it was, something that did not work at all on me.

The next great perfume disappointment was Serge Luten's Nuit de Cellophane, this was supposed to be in my head Luten's grand opus to osmanthus, I had in my head waited years for this to happen. Finally Luten was going to tackle my favorite note and Luten-ize it, but what I got instead was something of a screechy mess on me that was akin to J'Adore by Dior. I should have headed the warning of comparisons of it to J'Adore, a classic I have never understood but the lure of osmanthus in Luten's hands was pretty blinding.

The last great scent disappointment for me was A Lab On Fire's What We Do In Paris Is Secret and that was one hell of a let down. Other people spoke of finally finding the perfect almondy honey powdered rose tonka scent and what I got was a decent powdery scent but nothing magnificent. It just sat on my skin and talked softly of boring subjects. It was nothing to write home about or even mention in dull conversation.

So what have your great scent disappointments been?

image by Rikke Otte

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Evening in Provence: Jasmin Reve by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger

Imagine Annick Goutal Songes and Donna Karan Gold had a child but she was just a bit more soft spoken than them, what you would get is Au Pays de la Fleurs d'Oranger's Jasmin Reve. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I tried Jasmin Reve. I admit I was bit trepiditious, I have an uneasy relationship with jasmine sometimes it can be screechy on me and other times an indolic hell, but Jasmin Reve is a creamy jasmine. While Jasmine Reve does have a prominent jasmine note it is more than that.

What makes Jasmine Reve a seductive scent is the use of a subtle smoky incense with vanilla this quality in the scent reminds me of Songes the difference though is the location they evoke. Songes takes place in a tropical paradise. Jasmine Reve is a balmy night in Provence, you can smell the creamy jasmine blooming, there is the smoke of clove cigarettes in the background, jazz plays somewhere down the street, and you have just passed a patisserie with its doors wide open. A gentle breeze rolls through the night air and because it is the perfect temperature it feels like a caress. Jasmin Reve is very much an evening scent it has a shadowy lush quality that brings to mind perfect inky sky evenings. It is one of the most tactile and sensual scents I have smelled in awhile.

Once again I am impressed Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger and the qualities they are able to evoke in their scents. What I enjoy is that they seem to really enjoy exploring the idea of comfortable sensuality, their fragrances keep the sensuality but don't blare it. If you are looking for weird don't look here but if you just want something that makes you smile, is well blended, and classic but smells different then give this house your attention. I would say their greatest strength is their understanding of florals. I adore that their jasmine scent goes down the road of floriental with incense and vanilla but still retains the jasmine notes.

Try if you like Annick Goutal's Songes, Donna Karan's Gold, or LUSH's Vanillary

This is what I imagine playing from that jazz club :-).

image: Marion Cotillard

Monday, September 08, 2014

Needs More Depth: Replica Beach Walk by Maison Martin Margiela

I don't think this is a bad scent. I don't mind smelling it or wearing it but I have some issues with it and the price tag. This is perfectly nice smelling, I can see why people like it, but at the price of $125.00 this is a real over sell.  When you spend that much money on a scent I hope you end up with something with depth, lasting power, and stages. What you get with Beach Walk is a very nice ozonic coconut musk white floral that reminds me of a really good candle. The opening is fresh and smells like a nice breezy beach this quickly dissipates to a heart of coconut milk and clean smelling white florals with an ozone musk support. At best I really like the mix of a coconut milk and ylang ylang because it is not sickly sweet but it is so light and half an hour later you left with clean ozonic musk that hints at the white florals but for the most part smells a lot like a scent that is coming off fresh laundered clothes. The thing is none of this is bad smelling but at $125.00 I expect depth, some oomph to this scent, but what you get is a little ditty that in an hour and half is down to a base that is very easy to find somewhere else cheaper. My vote if you want a nice beach scent that isn't absurd in price and easy to find go with Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude or Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess.