Tuesday, September 30, 2008

SOTD: Un Bois Vanille

Today I am going with the beautiful woody nectar of Serge Luten's Un Bois Vanille. This is one of those few scents that I can't really imagine anyone hating, then again I think vanilla is one of those scents that is easily liked by most noses (whether you want to wear it is a whole another story). Continuing my exploration of re-interpretation that takes place when bands do covers I offer you Thin Lizzy's Dancing In the Moonlight, first the original version done by Thin Lizzy and then the variation I think that is better than the original, the one done by the Smashing Pumpkins.
Thin Lizzy's:

The Smashing Pumpkins:

image provided by artmagick.com
image: The Love Potion by Evelyn Pickering de Morgan 1903
Thin Lizzy video uploaded by inlays
Smashing Pumpkins video uploaded by ScarTissuetwo

Monday, September 29, 2008

Enjoying re-interpretation: David Bowie's Life on Mars

If I ever wrote my own biography, I would probably steal the title of David Bowie's "Life on Mars" for the title of my biography. I should mention now that I am a huge David Bowie fan; this explains Labyrinth even more. The irony of this was I wasn't aware of "Life on Mars" until I heard the beautiful cover by Anggun. This cover also spurred my love of hearing re-interpretations of a song that can happen through covers. So my offering today is three variations on David Bowie's "Life on Mars" done in the chronologie that I heard them.
Anggun's interpretation, live:

David Bowie's interpretation, in all its 1970's glory:

Seu Jorge's beautiful acoustic Portuguese version, I originally heard it from the movie, "The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou", by the way this guy has a gorgeous voice:

Anggun video uploaded by sgtcheeseberry
David Bowie video uploaded by Darknessanddisgrace
Seu Jorge video uploaded by bloggocentricidades

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Autumnal Delights: Moroccan Chamomile Apple Blossom Soap by Pacifica

I love a well fragranced soap, as much as body washes are nice, my true love for getting a good wash in is soap. I should also say this before I go on to review this soap; I usually hate chamomile unless it is fresh (I have often compared chamomile tea to cat piss), the only other time I truly enjoyed smelling it was the essential oil of blue Roman chamomile which had the delightful scent of apples and herbs.

Yesterday with half my face numb from having to replace a filling that fell out I decided to head to Whole Foods which is near my dentist. They usually have a gorgeous selection of Pacifica candles and well I am a fan of the Pacifica brand; I hoped that they had their new Avalon Juniper but they didn't. So I sniffed about, I was tempted by the Frankincense, but the truth is I needed a happy scent, then I smelled the Moroccan Chamomile Apple Blossom, this is a gorgeously happy Autumn morning scent. It has a wonderful warm happy quality and reminded me immediately of dew on hay, apples glistening in the early morning sun, and hints of herbacious bushes. What was even better was it was on sale. I was also left wishing Pacifica would expand the line of this scent; it would make a gorgeous body cream.

It leaves the skin wonderfully fragranced and not overly dried.

I also wanted to give a shout out to Pacifica spending so much time on the image design of each scent. They really got the scent with the use of light blue, golden yellow, and beautiful creamy white flowers.

image provided by http://www.pacificacandles.com/soap-blue-chamomile.asp

Thursday, September 25, 2008

SOTD: Farnesiana

I would like to say that I was going with something darkly dramatic or leathery today, but the truth is I wanted the sweet comfort of Caron's Farnesiana. To me it is bread dough laced with violets, almonds, heliotrope, and mimosa; it is the pink flesh of the palm of a kind hand.
image provided by artmagick.com
image: Lady in a Pink Dress by John White Alexander

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

SOTD: Songes

I spent my morning contemplating wearing Angelique Encens, but it occurred to me I had not worn Annick Goutal's Songes in a long time, and it turns out to be the perfect choice. Once again I am wearing a white floral anchored by incense and a fluffy marshmallow vanilla. Songes is at once a beautifully golden scent that is accentuated by dark undercurrent of very animalic musk. It reminds me of the ballroom scene from Jim Henson's Labyrinth (one of my favorite movies):

And yes you can totally laugh at me for loving something so 1980's, but I won't be stopped in my love.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Book of Taboo #2 by Maleonn 2006
video uploaded by silvershadeshadow

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

SOTD: Chanel 22

Going with the every lovely and somewhat of a dichotomy scent, Chanel N. 22. I love the use of dry incense against cool tangy white flowers. This is probably my all time favorite white floral scent.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Design: As You Like It poster (the Kenneth Branagh version) This Ones for Rose

These days I am rarely stopped the publicity art for film, but this one catches my eye everytime. Someone actually put some creativity into it and thought.
And just to increase the chances of someone watching it, here is the trailer:

video uploaded by hytain

First Day of Autumn: A List of Beautiful Sandalwood

Today is the beginning of Autumn and kicking off my love for Autumnal fragrances; I am taking a look at my favorite sandalwoods (later on I will be looking at ambers).

1. Chanel's Bois des Iles, was way ahead of its time and still is. This aldehyde wood confection starts off with the perfect candied bergamot peel moving on to a clove tinged rose and carnation heart, before it settles into one of the most glorious sandalwood dry downs out there. Perfectly ladylike but utterly natural. Intelligent and comforting; it is hard to believe no one has tried to copy it. What I would give for another woody aldehyde scent....
2. Omnia by Bvlgari, this is my first sandalwood fragrance. While everyone speaks of the newness of the wood use in Sensous by Estee Lauder, I think they better head over to Omnia before making that proclamation. This starts out with a beautiful milky spicy opening based on Masala Chai and leads to a beautiful creamy sandalwood. This is one of my favorite comfort scents.

3. Burberry Brit Gold by Burberry; Burberry was right to christen this edition gold, for this dazzling scent is best described as a gold dusted sandalwood. Friends of mine smell this and usually the description, "This smells really expensive Jen."

4. L'Instant pour homme by Guerlain. There has to be some irony in that the Guerlains that work for me are their masculines, but that is for another day. This is one of those gorgeous gourmands for men that starts off with a beautiful elixir of toasted sesame, chocolate, patchouli, and mint before it becomes a dreamy chocolate laced sandalwood.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

If there ever was a woman who should play Aphrodite/Venus...

She is it! I adore her. Now the question what scent did she wear?

Going to the City: Chronicle Books in San Francisco

Today was one of those days where you just wanted to wander in the beauty of the city. The perfect weather, glorious blue skies, and calm relaxed quality that Sunday brings to San Francisco. One of my favorite publishing houses makes their home in San Francisco: Chronicle Books. I entered Chronicle Books knowing I would have one of those moments of euphoria looking at beautifully books, stationary, and journals. I just had to share some of the beauties I saw:

all images provided by Chroniclebooks.com

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Creating Ambre Narguile in the Kitchen

Sometimes I forget that apples for most of their time in history have been a fruit of sensuality, not the humble everyday fruit it has become. I also often forget their connection to the beautifully exotic quince that must be cooked to enjoy the layered flavor of apple, lemon, rose water, and peach. This all stopped today when I yet again I used another recipe from my quickly becoming a beloved cookbook The Worlds Best Recipes by Mark Bittman, once again it was a recipe the used very little ingredients, only four: apples, sugar, cinnamon, and butter, the recipe: Caramelized Apples. I will say this now before going into more detail I think part of the reason this turned out so gorgeously was the organic heirloom apples I got last week at the orchard.

It began with the scent of the apples caramelizing in the oven, topped with with only a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, the scent was quite dazzling, and immediately an identification came up in my mind, the uber expensive and frankly delicious Ambre Narguile by Hermes. What was also amazing was the sheer aromatic power of the apples, at one point I was tempted to open another window the scent of apples was so intense. Then I took them out and a few minutes later scooped some out into a bowl, the apples at the bottom had becom translucent in the caramelization process, yet remained firm with a candied texture. The color though was what shocked me it become a light pink tinted amber, reminding me of quinces when cooked. Eat this with a splash cream, creme fraiche, thinned sour cream, crema, or greek yogurt. No ice cream (too sweet and rich).
image provided by artmagick.com
image: Venus Verticordia by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Look At Sensuality in Perfume Commercials

In the last few months we have seen some incredibly sensual perfume advertisements, some even banned from viewing on US television, but the question I ask myself are they really sensual? So I am going through three of these advertisements; one only began to be shown yesterday.
Secret Obsession by Calvin Klein

Secret Obession by Calvin Klein is the first to have come out and the one that has been banned so far. I will admit I really like this one. While it does have Eva Mendes writhing around nake, the spoken word of the advertisement is not about a fantasy for male lust, but is in fact a rather nice euphamistic speech for self love. Yes, you see nipple, but it is not titilating rather completely natural. While the male viewer will no doubt enjoy looking at Eva Mendes, the advertisement actually speaks about naked sensuality for oneself.

Shalimar by Guerlain

This is the new campaign for Guerlain's Shalimar. I will begin with the positive: I like the music chosen. Now onto the negative. Natalia Vodianova is without a doubt beautiful, but her type of beauty does not translate well with Shalimar. While Secret Obsession is just as nude as Shalimar in its advertising, I find Shalimar's use of nudity annoying. Let's face when I watched this, all I could think was this advertisement is all about the male viewer, which does not jibe well with me, it screams "Look at hot chick I bagged last night!" Let's face it Shalimar isn't just some hot chick, she is a woman who you end up worshipping because she is provocative, intelligent, mysterious, and who is completely in control of her sensuality, she is a Monica Belucci.

Miss Dior Cherie by Sofia Coppola

Now here is the advertisement I am adoring. It has a story, the sensuality is fully there, maybe it doesn't feature nudity, but there is some definite four-play going on. But what really catches me is the intimacy, these lovers adore each other's warmth, scent, touch. It has been a long time since I saw a commercial for a fragrance that made go "I want that!", I mean it is actually putting a whole new gorgeous spin on Miss Dior Cherie. By the way this was directed by Sofia Coppola.

Secret Obsession uploaded by LeBuzzInfo
Shalimar uploaded by xxtetsuo
Miss Dior Cherie uploaded by leslierathe

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Mooncakes and Autumn Celebration

This last Sunday was the Chinese Moon festival, on this day mooncakes are traditionally served. I have heard of the Moon festival but have never participated in it and well I didn't really this time either, but I did get to try to the traditional mooncake (my co-worker Sing even forgot about the festival, and the day after bought her mooncakes and gave me one). Eating the mooncake for me was in a way getting to know my ancestry better.
My great-grandmother was Chinese, but she was orphaned in France as a child, so within my family the genetic heritage of grandmother showed through in her children, grandchildren, and some of her great-grandchildren, but the cultural heritage has never really existed. This lack of knowledge of my great-grandmother's birth culture has always created identity issues within my family and still extends to this day even to myself. This last January I visited France to visit my mother's family who I have never been very close to due to my mother passing away when I was very young and a language barrier, the visit it allowed me to further understand my bi-racial heritage. Out of my cousins I have inherited predominately European looks, my mother was also predominately European looking, but I learned while I was there that even she faced racism. It is ironic that my mother would be ostracized for her height, she was the shortest of her siblings at 4'11", but out of all the children born to her sisters and brothers, her children would be the tallest, I'm only 5'3" and my brother is of average height. I think it is even more ironic that my mother would be alienated for her height in a country that is not exactly on the tall side.
While eating the mooncake I wondered what my mother would think? I ate it wondering if my western palate was too biased agains't the mooncake; it turns out I wasn't a big fan, but then I remembered my co-worker hadn't seemed all that enthused over the mooncake either and Sing happens to be one of biggest food lovers I know of. I also know I have an adventurous palate. Still I enjoyed that I got to participate in event that celebrates the harvest moon and the bounty of the season, but next time the Moon festival comes around, I think I'll sidestep the mooncake. I will add though that it is visually stunning.

image provided by http://www.snpfood.com/export/export_mooncake.php

SOTD: Angelique Encens

I got what I wanted so much: Autumn weather. Today it is is supposed to only get up to 70 and I am going to relish it by putting on Angelique Encens, when I get home I am baking apples, drinking a soothing cup of hot tea with my mooncake (a co-worker gave to me), and working on me resume. And possibly later on I am spritzing on the gorgeous Organza Indecence one of they driest cinnamon laced woody vanillas out there.
image: William Morris

Sunday, September 14, 2008

SOTD: Light Blue

It's apple season, with all my complaining of the heat in the last couple of weeks, all the sudden on Friday I could smell and feel Autumn in the air, and that wonderful feeling has not stopped. My grandmother for years has been volunteering at the Gerrin Heirloom Apple Orchard, I went up their years ago as a child, and today I am visiting again to go apple harvesting. I can't wait; in honor of this occasion I am going with Dolce & Gabbana's Light Blue, although consistently referenced as a summer fragrance, I find that I prefer this as an autumn fragrance. The gentle creamy apple note with hints of bergamot and amber, blooms so much better in autumn weather.
image provided by artmagick.com
image: A Devonshire Orchard by Hon John Collier

Friday, September 12, 2008

SOTD: Cuir De Lancome

In my own fragrance tradition world on Sundays I like to wear relaxing comforting scents, but on Fridays I usually try to wear something spirited or luxurious, today I am going with the luxuriously chic, Cuir de Lancome, but because I love contrasts I wearing my favorite H&M watermelon top with my black and white floral print skirt and black flats. Giving off the idea of dry and utterly feminine. After work visiting my grandmother, who I admit I adore, we usually talk about cooking, books, and my career in the library. As for fragrance and my grandmother, well she doesn't wear any, but she cracked me up years ago, when I received the present of a bath soak that was fragranced with patchouli and musk, and my grandmother looked over at me said "Jen that is a very sex scent with the musk and patchouli." I loved this comment because it had been a long time since I had heard anyone remember that musk and patchouli are traditionally considered sensual scents.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

SOTD: Omnia

Last night my Check Engine light came on, anyone who has had a vehicle can guess how my day was. Sipping Peach Tranquilty tisane and hoping to take the stress away. Spent the day in Omnia for its warm gentle creamy spiced sandalwood comfort. And trying to get that point where I feel thankful that the truck's issue was simple. Even got to my yoga class still just not feeling fully relaxed. Still I am thankful to know I have the sweet friend (who gave me the Peach Tranquilty) who called to check up on me earlier tonight. Thinking of that makes me grateful. Knowing that I have a friend who at the end of her own long day thinks to check up on me, well that sort thoughtfulness is priceless.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Plea for Peace by Saira Wasim 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

SOTD: L de Lolita Lempicka

Today is the last day before the tempture begins rising again, I'm taking full advantage of a wonderfully cool morning, and a comfortable day: I'm wearing Lolita Lempicka's wonderfully honeyed smokey ambered citrus sprinkled vanilla scent, L de Lolita Lempicka. This took close to over two years before it made its way to the US market and I immediately snatched it up when it showed up on parfum1; there first fragrance, Lolita Lempicka, being one of my first loves. This one of those beautiful buy without sniffing scents that actually worked. It also turns out that it one of those fragrances I prefer in eau de parfum form rather than more ambered pure parfum form. In the edp variation you smell variation of notes far more easily and get to enjoy the smoky honeyed immortelle middle notes, where as I find that the pure parfum immediately moves to a more ambered bottom with just a hint of citrus.

Another way I am enjoying the cooler is by baking bread, I'm not quite sure why but when I bake bread I feel like I have baked an incredible feat, especially when you use this recipe:

Also, onto another cooking feat, I finally made good polenta, that did not require more than four stirs, how you ask? With my most amazing of appliances: the rice cooker. I am now becoming a big rice quicker proponent, you can do so much with them. Steam dumplings, vegetables, rice of course, soup, and polenta. These are a god send in hot weather country. If you get yourself one or already have one, I highly recommend you get this cookbook:
I ate my polenta last night with my homemade marinara sauce and well it was divine.

More food talk, sometimes you forget that simple ingredients, that when used with proper technique can make the most wonderfully lip-smacking food. Last week I made Mark Bittman's Green Onion Noodles from The World's Best Recipes by Mark Bittman: the recipe required about 6 ingredients fresh chinese egg noodles, green onions, chives, peanut oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce; most of use have these ingredients sitting in our cupboards. What I got was crispy fried noodles with wonderfully sweet bright green onions that tasted caramelized but were not. This was due to technique and not based on having perfect ingredients (these are favorite types of recipe simple with the ingredients but use a technique that really make the food a treat).

image provided by artmagick.com
image: Golden Light by John Atkinson Grimshaw 1893

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

SOTD: Bois des Iles

Few fragrance houses do I associate with a specific art movement, but Chanel's early creations Bois des Iles, Chanel N.5, and Chanel N.22 immediately for me bring to mind the Art Deco movement. Maybe it is not so odd considering these masterpieces of fragrance were created during the time of this movement; I wonder is it possible to have Art Deco fragrances? But as I think of it more, I think I associate aldehydes with Art Deco, consider Baghari which was originally created in 1951 which when I smell I always get an Art Deco image in my head. What makes Bois des Iles even more intriguing to me is that to my nose is that it is the most magical and natural smelling of Chanel's fragrances, two descriptions I do not usually associate with Chanel.

Monday, September 08, 2008

SOTD: Ambre Russe

Today I am going with the wonderfully sensual Ambre Russe by Parfum d'Empire. It has been a long time since I fell really hard for an amber fragrance, it was my first love, and sadly over the years it has fallen out of favor with my skin becoming drier, and the ambers that I adored ending up getting a strange overly sweet tar note in the dry down that I hated. In fact within the last months I swapped those ambers out (Anne Pliska, L'Occitane Amber, Sage Machado Amber) and the irony is I have once again found an amber to love which actually features a note that usually turns into pure curry sweat on me: cumin. I can't get over just how gorgeous this scent is while being incredibley rich, sensual, and extravagent it is also wonderfully wearable. I suspect I really need a bottle of this.
image provided by artnet.com
image: The Sleeping Beauty by William Arthur Breakspeare

Sunday, September 07, 2008

A Week In Review and SOTD

I think this week's theme would be HOT! Where as last week's theme was CAR DISASTER. Well I'll take heat over car disaster any day. The new week is starting off with the wonderful news of weather change which well brings a smile to my face. So I have decided to review this last week with some things I learned or enjoyed.

Three Ways to Survive the Summer Heat

  1. Cold watermelon from the fridge with a sprinkle of salt, a couple of dashes of chili powder, and a squeeze of lime or lemon. This is utterly refreshing, will bring your temperture down fast, and is hydrating.

  2. My Hawaiian Breeze fans, these really do keep you cool.

  3. 4711, there is a reason why this cologne is a classic for heat!

My Household Cleaner Miracle

So I attract oil stains on my clothing like nobody else I know; I have had to get rid of so much clothing because of it, but that end's now due to a post last week by March at Perfume Posse. Get regular old Dawn dish detergent and put it on your oil stain spot let it sit for 10 minutes then throw clothing item in with rest of regular laundry load and get ready for a laundry miracle.

My Scent of the Day:

I'm going with the clean, easy, and ultimately soothing Infusion d'Iris.

image provided by artmagick.com
image: The Dragonfly by Gustave Moreau 1884

Saturday, September 06, 2008

SOTD: Coco Madamoiselle pure parfum

When you smell the other variation of Coco Madamoiselle the flowers are never what you really smell, rather your attention is on the bergamot laced patchouli, but the pure parfum is another story. The bergamot does not last as long instead you are plunged into a creamy heart of jasmine only slowly does the patchouli vetiver drydown come along. It is beautiful and modern with its rather straight lines, it is a fine tailored suit with a few modern edges. It strangely always reminds me of the color orange.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Jasmine by Natasha Law 2008

Friday, September 05, 2008

SOTD: Datura Noir

Datura Noir is one of those fragrances that immediately evokes a color, well actually two colors, and technically they're not even colors, it is the beautiful contrast of black and white. I think this is exactly what Mr. Luten's wanted when you consider the fact that the Datura flower is traditionally white and then he adds the noir which means black in French. On a personal note I rarely wear black items (I often feel I end up looking really goth with my dark hair and pale skin) and while I enjoy wearing white (it actually enhances my skins warm tones), I am a lover of the combo of black and white in clothing, I find it very chic.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Poppy, Berlin by Silke Lauffs 2001

Thursday, September 04, 2008

SOTD: Osmanthe Yunnan

The heat keeps on going and by now it has probably become obvious that I am a bit of a weather nut (I would consider it a major factor in my fragrance choices), instead of cooling down as it had been reported earlier in the week, it appears it will be in the 90's into Sunday. To top it off I am right now battling ants, I'm not messy, but the damn things love to attack kitchens in the hot weather. So on the way home from work today I am going to have to get some attack supplies.

Going with Osmanthe Yunnan today, this is about as close to Autumn as I am going to get because well traditionally osmanthus is celebrated in the fall, in China it is associated with Autumn and the moon festival. Still I know I will be packing up my osmanthus scents come Autumn weather, the osmanthus fragrances I have just don't have autumnal elements for me.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Welcome to My Brand New Home Town by Jiha Moon

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

SOTD: Diorissimo

It would be just my luck that after a stressed week of car issues that I would catch a cold, this is no shocker to me. When I get stressed (as happened last week) and then de-stress I usually end up getting sick, this phenomenon has been written about, the most likely to have this problem, college students. And it does happen everytime to me when I get done with a semester I usually end up getting a cold of some sort. Luckly this is a light cold so far.

As for my scent of the day, I am finally testing the mother of lily of the valley/muguet scents, Dior's Diorissimo, this is lovely and thought it would be a nice antidote to today's heat but this fragrance I realize is firmly a just spring scent.

The funny thing about muguet scents is long ago in my middle school years I adored muguet scents. My friends and I would fight over my little bottle of oil, called Rain, wearing the stuff on our movie nights, and thinking of it as the best thing in the world. Now though I rarely wear muguet scents, I think they remind me of an innocence that no longer fits my character, or the over-the-top feelings of adolescence. The strange thing is by the time I hit high school I had stopped wearing muguet scents.

The more I think about it muguet really is the perfect scent of girl beginning to enter womanhood, beautiful a just a little big narcotic with its hint of indoles and musk, but still full of sunlight.

image provided by artnet.com
image: Lily of the Valley by Judith McMillan

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

SOTD: Le Chasse aux Papillons

So I will start with the positive of yesterday, it actually weatherwise turned out to be a gorgeous day, the weather was well just perfect. Bad news once again car issues, but now seem to be officially fixed, but definately have me considering buying a new vehicle in near future. Spent night at boyfriends so new I would need a fresh and bright fragrance so went with the epitome of fresh and bright, L'Artisan's Le chasse aux papillons. As you can see I am playing around with my blog.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Portrait: Antelope with Butterfly (after Oudry and Van Aelst) by Shelley Reed

Monday, September 01, 2008

SOTD: Un Jardin Apres La Mousson

Alright, I am officially going to say now that it is September, I am sick of summer. I am annoyed with the fact it is going to be 88 instead of the reported 77 from yesterday, I am more annoyed with fact that as the week furthers along that it is going to get into the 90's which in reality will most likely be the 100's, because the reality of the weather around here when it gets hot is that it is either the 80's or 100's. I want to break out my boots and bake ( I was planning apple blueberry muffins today, but the weather snuffed that one in the bud!). And I am going to say it now but I really hadn't looked at the picture all that closely till now. So in honor of the continuation of what I will now refer to as "beastly summer" I wear the much argued Un Jardin Apres La Mousson and I know this is going to sound really bad, but it reminds of a sophisticated watermelon jolly rancher, if that is possible. And yes I realize this whole entire post is completely silly.
image provided by artnet.com
image: Untitled by Raqib Shaw 2004