Sunday, July 28, 2013

Heir to Guerlain's Vetiver: L'Artisan's Timbuktu

The first vetiver I ever enjoyed was Guerlain's Vetiver, I know, not really shocking, it's a classic masterpiece for vetiver fragrances for a reason. Fast forward a decade now and vetiver noted fragrances are everywhere, yet few catch me very much, and why would they when I have Guerlain Vetiver.

Well now enters L'Artisan's Timbuktu, honestly I bought this lovely little fragrance with a coupon and gift card from Sephora having never sniffed it, but it is really hard to pass up the 30 ml size bottle*. So I got it and I am happy that I did. It is an airy vetiver patchouli laden incense that makes me feel cool, collected, and natural. It's the feel of Timbuktu that makes me call it the heir to Guerlain's Vetiver, it is a classy serenity that I rarely encounter in fragrances, it is my scent for frantic work days. The use of vetiver in Timbuktu is prominent but it is also supported by a patchouli incense not and has a tang from green mangoes going through it, it attains the airy quality from the karo karounde note. Guerlain's Vetiver for me is vetiver supported by bergamot and tobacco, creating a rather earth floor quality I love.

Try if you like: Guerlain Vetiver, Montale White Aoud, Montale Musk to Musk, Atelier Cologne Trefle Pur.

*Seriously L'Artisan why can you not offer this size for everyone of your fragrances? Love it.
Image by Laetitia Devernay: The Conductor (Chronicle Books, 2011)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pop Culture Perfume Series: Zoe Barnes of House of Cards

Zoe Barnes is interesting in that she is young and ambitious but not stupid, naivety is not her thing. She has an arsenal of tools to get what she wants and what she wants is her stories in doing so though she ends up crossing the line multiple times but it seems by the end of season 1 she is finding her ethics after getting stuck in the spider web that is Frank Underwood. One of her greatest tools is knowing how to manipulate those that assume a great deal about her looks and youth so finding the right fragrance for her was difficult. The reality when Zoe is working on her articles and not trying to manipulate with her allure I quite frankly doubt she wears a fragrance so when I considered choosing a fragrance for her I considered the fact she would consider this a tool and maybe a hint of status in it not necessarily something that is about her own sensual enjoyment. So her fragrance had to be a work horse for seduction something that would automatically get her the attention she wants, like the infamous form fitting white dress she uses to catch Frank Underwood's eye.

If there is one scent I know of that can be counted on to elicit notice from the opposite sex it is Narciso Rodriguez for Her. What makes it such a work horse of scent for attraction is that it is so perfectly silky and alluring no note is over the top, it is all about allure. I can easily see Zoe using this scent as a part of arsenal of tools it is noticeable yet tasteful and not too young, it projects a maturity that she wants both in work and in her life. Strangely I think the edition of the scent she would use is the Eau de Parfum with it's more enhanced rose note and use of peach I feel it goes even better with all of her white seduction dresses.

image from Feature Fix

Pop Culture Perfume Series: Claire Underwood of House of Cards

Earlier this year my boyfriend and I were very very addicted to Netflix's House of Cards and I still think it was one of the best things I watched this year (I have actually watched a lot of phenomenal tv this year now that I think of it). The character that fascinated me the most was Claire Underwood played by Robin Wright. Claire Underwood is perhaps one of the most interesting female characters on television this year she is ruthless, powerful, fierce, intelligent, and above all wants power and prestige from her work. She is a rare sight in television and while I could be abhorred by her actions I found her the most fascinating because Wright could every once in awhile show a glimmer of vulnerability underneath that rather onyx like facade maybe just maybe a little regret over a few of her choices. My fascination with her quickly came to what perfume would this woman wear. I then came to the conclusion that I would have to make three choices for her dictated by what facade she was showing that day Claire Underwood the politician's wife, Claire Underwood during business, and Claire Underwood who randomly every once in awhile likes to think she is bohemian.

First up Claire Underwood playing at bohemian, this side of Claire is rare, and comes out when she is having her affair, the truth is this not really who she is but rather a character she every once in awhile she likes to think she is. You will not find her putting on random perfume oils but rather I suspect she would reach for Serge Luten's Chergui. It's a cold interesting soft mellow scent of musk, tobacco, honey, and incense that undeniably makes other's lean in to smell but at the same time it does not scream seduction rather whispers of sensuality.

So coming up with Claire Underwood's everyday scent was harder let's face it this woman does not wear florals. No, I had to go to the variety of woodsy and chypre. I then remembered Ormonde Woman by Ormonde Jayne, this is a soft chypre but a chypre none the less with an amazing hemlock note. This scent is easily workable but it is powerful in that it does not play on traditional notes considered feminine.

Finally there is Claire Underwood the politician's wife, this is the glamorous side that Claire uses to help her husband to navigate and win in Washington. I like to think she puts on Estee Lauder's Private Collection Jasmin White Moss when she wants to comes off as serene, a chypre that radiates coolness and clarity yet is very strong.

Claire Underwood image provided by

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Comfort and Joy: Ombre Rose L'Original by Jean-Charles Brosseau

This is the idea of what a pink rose should smell like. Now if you are a rose lover you know that roses have many differing scents some smell edible, others are lemony, some are very spicy, the scent of roses vary a great deal.

What makes Ombre Rose by Jean-Charles Brosseau so interesting is for myself it is what a pink rose should smell like, it plays with the idea of color and it's coordination with scent.  Ombre Rose is not an intensily rosy scent, there is rose there, but it is not the dominant character, but there is no real dominant character to this scent rather it is a cast of notes that works wonderfully well with others to create in my mind what a pink rose smells like just based on color.

The opening is a ylang-ylang rosewood tinged powder that reminds me of the wonderful original scent of Nivea lotion, this is then followed by a powdery heart that has tinges of the delicious powder used in Keiko Mecheri's Loukhoum but much cleaner and less over the top. Finally it drys down to a warm musky powder with hints of cinnamon, vanilla, honey, and rose. Overall this scent is excellent for powder fans and floral lovers.

Image provided by J'adore Photography

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The 80s called and they want their perfume back or Miss Dior Le Parfum and believe it or not that first part is not a put down.

I think we shall begin this review with what this perfume reminds me of and I just want to add I do love this film, Working Girl, trailer below.

Miss Dior Le Parfum is such a throwback to the big perfumes of the eighties it takes you a few moments to fully comprehend what is going on because your nose is in a bit of a shock. Let's just say that the relationship with the current Miss Dior fragrances is that it hints at strawberry in its fruit notes and that is about it. Now on to what Miss Dior is actually related to: Mauboussin's Mauboussin and the original Fendi fragrance. 

Miss Dior Le Parfum starts big with amber spiced fruits, there is a hint of strawberry but I would say it is mainly plum, think fruit compote made with dried fruits and cinnamon. This is where the relationship to Mauboussin can be smelled, that heady rich amber fruit opening is definitely a call back to that iconic scent. Then Miss Dior Le Parfum gets dry, powdery dry, while the spicy amber fruit remains it is suddenly  in the background, what comes forward is dry woods with a heavy lean towards cedar with the addition of rose that smooths out the rough edges. This is the stage that reminds me of the original Fendi, that big bombastic cedar incense of a scent that demanded reverence and tribute when you wore it. It is not nearly as bombastic as Fendi but the dry cedar is prominent with spices that says this is no shrinking violet of a scent. Eventually Miss Dior Le Parfum comes to a dry down that reminds me of amber and exquisite makeup powder with hints of rose and vanilla that has been sitting in a cedar chest. 

I know Sigourney's character wear's Shalimar in Working Girl but I think she would have worn Miss Dior Le Parfum had it been available at the time. Her character is an awful awful person, but dammit I love Sigourney, and she played the role so perfectly. 

So thank you Miss Dior Le Parfum for going down the road of big hair and big scent of the 80s and for not really cleaning it up on the way there. You are a rather unexpected delight. 

image provided by Fanpop

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The un-shy violet: Balenciaga Paris

Balenciaga Paris is what I imagine a Vogue photoshoot would be centered around the idea of Parisian business woman. She is urbane, chic, but still remembers her bohemian roots. She is not about exuding sexiness but rather she wants others to know she is unique.

It starts off with raspberry leaf and then quickly transforms into violet that is supported by a tangy green note that just hints at anise,  this is my favorite stage, but sadly the shortest on me. The middle stage is all about cool mossy powdered skin it lasts for awhile before it segways into a nutty mossy woods with hints of powder that is pretty prevalent these days.  I think I would love Balenciaga Paris if it did not end on those rather prevalent base notes. It is definitely one of the most interesting mainstream fragrances to be released in years in that offers a scent that has nothing to do with seduction not that it could not be seductive but rather it is all about personality with confidence and ease.

image "The Casserole" by Victor Ngai 

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

An old love found in an unexpected place: Fresh's Fleurs de Chocolat Lucia and Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil

When I was in college one of my first forays into the world of gourmand fragrances was Fresh's Fleurs de Chocolat Lucia, a now long discontinued scent. The scent of it was coco powder, milk chocolate, orange, and almond milk. Strangely no patchouli.

 I had not thought about the scent in years until yesterday when I put on my Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil and suddenly I realized what I was smelling, Fleurs de Chocolat Lucia. And like that the scent of the facial oil sent me down my olfactory memory to my trip to Italy where I had sprayed Lucia happily on myself, how appropriate I had felt at the time taking Lucia with me to Italy, and still think that it was an excellent choice. The culinary joy of Italy fitting well with the scent of Lucia.

 In some ways Lucia was my foray into niche, at the time Fresh was consider an indie company, and gourmands had not become quite so ubiquitous. Lucia will always be associated with that moment in my early twenties of first love, Italy, and my burgeoning interest of seeing perfume as an art and something to be collected and admired. I am glad I now have a way of visiting that discontinued scent and my Italy trip.

image Alphonse Mucha

Monday, July 08, 2013

Cool tea for a hot day: Oolong Infini by Atelier Cologne

This starts with tea although I would not call it an oolong scent, years ago I worked in tea and coffee, and my favorite teas were oolong at the time (still a favorite of mine but my tastes expanded) and I can't remember smelling a tea quite like this. No, this is closer to a darjeeling, with lots of citrus while the listed notes say bergamot, I think is smells more lime like. The next part of it is a light musk with hints of neroli, vetiver, and melon (not calone style melon) think the green rind part of melon that is a bit grassy. It is cooling and refreshing and that is about it which in a heat wave is about as much as I can ask of a fragrance without wanting to knock myself over the head with frying pan for choosing something too heavy.

It also reminds me of Bvlgari Pour Homme Soir another tea scent (which is easily unisex in my opinion).

Will this scent knock your socks off no, but it is light, office friendly, and in a heat wave prone area is the perfect refreshing cup of cool tea when I can't have tea and can't cool down.

photograph by Jason Schmidt

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Over the top radiance: Elie Saab Le Parfum eau de parfum

Orange blossom is the note that always catches my interest, it is the giant white floral I love, but then again I think I love it because it is a giant white floral that can be done so delicately. And if I were to be really honest it is also the white floral blossom that marries well to my favorite vanilla notes. Another attraction for me is the edible gourmand quality to it reminding me of exotic flower scented desserts.

So how does Ellie Saab's first fragrance fit into my love of the orange blossom, it is big and radiant, sure there is a honey note, but at no point am I thinking to myself, I would like to take a bite of this. No, this fragrance of modern renaissance princess. She is utterly aglow and has a crown of flowers in her hair. There is a sweetness to the scent but it is not just sweetness underneath is a horned section trumpeting the flowers and the earth with cool patchouli and cedar. The musk and honey creating a buzzing to it that makes the scent radiate, its a garden in late spring in area where summer comes early. It is quite frankly a sort of center of attention scent which sometimes is exactly what you want.

Give it a try if you love the orange blossom note in Narcisco Rodigruez eau de toilette and wish there was more of it.

Image courtesy of Aisle Perfect and is from the Hamda Al Fahim Spring 2013 collection

A Trick of Light: Jour d'Hermes by Hermes

How do you make a floral that does not scream floral? Well I would go talk to Jean Claude Ellena because he has just done that and that is where this fragrance makes the most sense as in why I really like it. To explain it better, I should mention that I am not the woman who gravitates towards fragrances called floral, there are floral notes I love, but scents marketed in the floral category are usually not my ouvre.

Jour d'Hermes is such a wonderful trick though, starting off with a stemmy green milky mango rhubarb green peach skin grapefruit note that catches you with its zippy tartness yet strangely creamy quality. The scent moves on to opal like floral middle where facets of flowers move in and out of focus much like an opal in sunlight as you tilt it to see all the colors. I get rose then jasmine followed by sweet pea. Then a warm musk comes out just lifting the flowers up enough that the scent blends to the skin, at this point the fragrance is somewhat hide and seek, at moments I get rose then a shift to ylang-ylang or tuberose, and then a shift to gardenia all the while it maintains a gauze of musk. Some days it is very earthy on me with vetiver quite obvious other days it becomes a rather balmy tropical gardenia scent with the tart musk to never let it stray to much.

This scent is a changer and never in the same direction in a row. It is fantasy floral and in my mind it is the scent of the lovely flower rununculus that has no scent but has incredibly layered petals.

The amazing image above is from No Wordz Photography.