Sunday, December 14, 2014

Favorite Perfumes of 2014

So the question is what perfumes did I love in 2014? Was it an oldie in my collection that I rediscovered? A new launch? A classic? I like to think it was pretty varied. Well, no it wasn't because there is a lot of rose in my favorites for 2014.

Velvet Rose & Oud by Jo Malone, the launch of my rose quest again, you would think after finding this beauty I would be done but I wasn't, instead it renewed by love of gourmand rose scents.

Rose Flash by Tauer Perfumes, it may be the best gourmand rose around. Andy truly did create something for the gourmand rose loving enclave. I was lucky to get my hands on this beauty.

Coriandre by Jean Couturier, I can only thank the lovely Perfume Shrine blog for this recommendation. The scent of summer at my family's ranch. So many memories found in this scent.

Ao by MikMoi, an introverted tropical, it's genius, and the perfumer is incredibly kind. This scent is so tranquil and unique.

Elie Saab Le Parfum, a radiant futuristic orange blossom that just smells so good.

Neroli Blanc Intense Eau de Parfum by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger, the best orange blossom gourmand out there. Comforting and serene.

Ambre Narguile by Hermes, I rediscovered this delicious tobacco cinnamon apple pie.

Jour d'Hermes by Hermes, it let me have a spring when we had summer for most of the year.

Image by Monica Ramos

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Variations of Orange: Monserrat by Bruno Fazzolari

Do you need to smell something that smells close to the sublime moment of a seed sprouting in soil? If so you need to get your hands on Montserrat by Bruno Fazzolari.

This scent is for me that strange juxtaposition that citrus ripens in the winter. We consider the scent of citrus to the scent of summer at times but add cloves and you think winter. Montserrat does not go into clove combination but rather it plays with the idea of citruses out in the cold fields of spring and winter in California. In fact under the layers of grapefruit you smell the green buds of citrus about to bloom. Yet, what I love more is that he is able to capture the scent of citrus as you pick it from a tree the dry earthy green scent of the break between fruit and branch.

This scent is heightened with the intriguing note of plaster which appears in the dry down. With addition of this note Fazzolari creates a full image in my head. Think white walls of old farms houses in the countryside think in the style of Italy or Spain, especially the ones that may have a courtyard, and in that courtyard are citrus trees.

There is a strange beautiful quality of lushness and austere-ness in this scent. The grapefruit and citrus notes verdantly singing and yet the addition of earthy notes of carrot seed and plaster keep in grounded in a cooler contemplative mood.

Try if you like: Orange Sanguine by Atelier Cologne, Concentre d'Orange Verte by Hermes, and 4711.
image from Riochico

back with the beautiful bluster of a storm

I know far too long not to write about scents but life unfortunately takes detours with our time. For me it was school. Simple as that. The work, school, and personal life balance is so hard to maintain at times but with the beauty of the storm we just had I feel like talking fragrance.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

I was going to wear my usual Halloween fragrance today of Lolita Lempicka but decided to change up this year with Serge Luten's Five O'Clock Au Gingembre, the smoky tea and ginger scent has been calling me and with the rain today feels like a perfect combo. Tomorrow I will wear Lolita Lempicka in honor of Dia de Muertos, the anise notes of the scent perfectly complementing the anise scented pan de muerto.

Image: "Forever Autumn" by Jen Brook

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Best Cheap Thrill I've Smelled In Awhile: Rose Oud by Laurence Dumont

I'll be honest I'm not an oud fan, most of the time I find it to be a note not used kindly, or even with much understanding. I like oud scents that are not really actually about oud for an example Jo Malone's Velvet Rose & Oud. So as things go Laurence Dumont's Rose Oud would not have been on my radar until I read a lovely review mentioning how rose forward it is and it reminded someone of Velvet Rose & Oud. So at the mention of Velvet Rose & Oud I had to try it.

Rose Oud by Laurence Dumont is not a dupe but it takes a lot of parts of other things to create something that smells far more expensive than it is. What I am first reminded of just for a moment of in the beginning is of L'Artisan's Safran Troublant's creamy saffron opening, it quickly leaves but it is a herald of the nice scent. What follows for me in the lemony jammy rose of LUSH's Rose Jam with a very light dollop of oud, this stage is long lasting and the most representative of the scent. The dry down is a fruited rose with hints of amber. Overall, Laurence Dumont is offering a really lovely entry into the world of jammy roses with touches of oud but without the ginormous price tag. Give it a try if you have ever wanted a rose oud combo that didn't take itself so seriously.

Try if you like: LUSH's Rose Jam, Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud, or Yves Rocher Rose Absolue.

image by Sofia Perina-Miller

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

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.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Pop Culture Fun: Kalinda Sharma

The Good Wife is one of my favorite shows to my shock. I admit 6 years ago when I heard the premise I rolled my eyes and thought that won't last and will probably be really really tawdry. Yet, it turned out to be incredibly smart, well written, and has 3 very well written female characters. Thankfully it is not your usual procedural and I think explores modern technology issues in a very smart way. Plus I love that casting is willing to use actors that are not usually seen as dramatic actors specifically Nathan Lane and really lets them try it out.

I really adore Kalinda Sharma of The Good Wife, although we shall act like the 4th season did not happen. Ugh. So much bad character development and writing for Kalinda but it appears the producers and writers have learned. What I adore is that she is played with subtly, they have allowed her character to retain her mystery, and yet we are given wonderful acting by Archie Panjabi that lets us see emotional conflicts that give us some idea of her previous life (we shall ignore season 4). I also really really adore that they casted this British actress to be such an utter bad-ass, because honestly I have to say I can't remember the last time I saw an actress of Indian heritage have the role of such a bad-ass on television.  My case in point is one of my all time favorite Kalinda scenes:
 Also props to The Good Wife for having a genuine bisexual woman on television.

So the question then becomes how do you scent Kalinda Sharma the ever mysterious sexy investigator? I actually came up with scent I think she would wear pretty easily: Back to Black By Killian. I was actually inspired by this choice bizarrely from a scene in season 1 that featured Alicia and her at a bar and Kalinda is drinking a Russian imperial stout (In my head it is Goose Island Bourbon County Stout) and while Back to Black and GIBCS have nothing in common scent wise, the idea of dark entrancing scent that had the qualities of liquor made me think of Kalinda. Back to Black is dark and entrancing with a raspberry liquor note used so perfectly to support the scent of honey and tobacco over a bed of ambregris. The scent is seduction but it is not girlish there this a subtly in the way it sits on the skin that doesn't make it immediately obvious.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

A Tale of Two Ambers: Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens and Ambre by L'Occitane

There was a point in my early perfume lust quests where I was a serious amber aficionado it came directly from a childhood surrounded by the wonderfully crumbly headshop amber perfumes, many people in my family wore it. The truth is that stuff is still wonderful to smell and if you love it keep loving it, I think it is one of those genuine cheap thrills that worth keeping around.

 For years I had a tiny bottle of amber perfume oil bought at some random shop but I grew out of it, associated it with period of disruption in my life, and eventually gave it to young woman I worked with who at the time I think was trying to find something different for herself. As for me and amber we parted ways, it was weird, at one moment it was what I wanted to call my signature, and then well a falling out in the desire to grow up and put some distance between me and childhood loves happened and so amber was put aside. Yet, I was never quite able to trade those bottles out. Last night I was wanting something opposite of abhorrent summer weather and suddently out came my mini bottle of Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens and Ambre by L'Occitane. I think it might be time for me to return to my amber perfumes.

Ambre Sultan and Ambre could not be more opposite in their ideas but at the same time they are still both recognizably amber scents. Ambre Sultan is a dry weathered amber that recalls desert nights and old empires, it use the notes of oregano and bay in such a unique way that it creates one of the more original amber openings, it is arid and recalls mountaintops with windswept Joshua trees. It feels like wearing some sort of epic movie about sultans and power plays.

 L'Occitane's Ambre on the other hand is the story of cozy amber and cream. It is a warm kitchen on a crisp Autumn day where a apple clafouti bakes in the oven with plenty of vanilla and because the cook was feeling creative has thrown a few dry apricots into the batter. It is incredibly smooth and enveloping and strangely un-spiced but rich from the notes of tonka bean and vanilla. There is just a hint of tarry leather in it that always catches me off-guard but eventually leaves I see it as the old leather work glove that has been left in the kitchen.

Try Ambre Sultan if you like Femme by Rochas, Ambre Russe by Parfums d'Empire, Madame X by Ava Luxe, Organza Indecence by Givenchy or Black by Bvlgari.

Try Ambre if you like Ambre Narguile by Hermes, Voile d'Ambre by Yves Rocher, L de Lolita Lempicka, or Private Collection Amber Ylang Ylang by Estee Lauder

image: Alonzo King LINES Ballet Dancers

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

What Made August Bearable

Let us just begin that as far as I am concerned August can be taken off the calender and told to have a time out. Too much drama and worry for one month. Still there are things that brightened it and made it bearable.

-Little mini Labor day weekend trip to Kansas City where I basically did nothing but enjoy KC's culinary tradition of barbecue, buy lovely little local food products, and most of all hang out with friends and relax. We do this every year and this year's trip was much needed. I think what always amazes me is just great and vibrant Kansas City's food scene is, there are a lot of local and amazing products.

-The Year of the Flood by Margerat Atwood, second book in the MaddAddam trilogy, and well what more can be said other than Atwood is brilliant. Giving myself a week or two before continuing on to MaddAddam.
-Hens Dancing by Raffella Barker, a sweet easy summer read if there ever was one. Made me wish I lived in the English countryside.
-The End of Eve by Ariel Gore, I just don't know how to summarize this one other than, how would you deal with your sociopathic mother who is dying on top of the ordinary crap that life throws at you? Gore gives her memoir of doing so and well it is brilliant, tragic, and hopeful. Shit happens.
-Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast. I highly recommend to anyone with elderly parents and having to deal with the big questions. Hilarious, insane, but frank in a warm way that is never saccharine.

-Stories We Tell, adored Sarah Polley's honest exploration of how we see others and how the stories tell can be so different about the same person. Very touching but creative.

-Lavender, musks, and comfort scents needed them so much in August. Hoping to be able to at some point be able to break out some Autumn oriented scents.

Atlantic Beach Pie; salty, sweet, and tart. Enough said :-).

Ear Worm

image by Laura Ballesteros

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Bemoaning the Lack of Plum Notes in Perfume or Plum Quest 2014

This weekend I made a plum clafouti for dessert and once again realized that the scent of ripe plums un-roasted and roasted is a beguiling smell. They have a sweet understated almond tinted scent that is uniquely their own and sadly rather underutilized in perfume. I feel like I might be on the verge of a fragrance quest this time for plums. Seems just right for this time of the year too, I have always associated plums with early Autumn, although in reality I suppose they are really a summer fruit, but the plum varieties with dusky violet skins have always reminded me of Autumn. So a list so far of perfumes with a plum note that I want to sniff:

Violet Disguises by Imaginary Authors
Do by MikMoi
Ume by Keiko Mecheri
Rose Volupte by Sonoma Scent Studio
Wood Violet by Sonoma Scent Studio
Prune Jasmin by Laurence Dumont
Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums

Scents with a plum note that don't meet the plum need (perfectly good scents but just not plummy enough):
Femme by Rochas
Feminite du Bois
Natori by Josie Natori

Not to leave you hanging here is the recipe for the plum clafouti, absurdly simple, and wonderfully celebratory of the beauty of plums:

photo by the amazing Katie Quinn Davis at What Katie Ate

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tackling the Classics: Jicky by Guerlain

For the last of the lavender series I am focusing on one of the monumental classics of the perfume industry and also one of the few fougere scents that has been marketed to women and is frequently loved by men: Jicky by Guerlain. Whenever anyone says they want a lavender perfume, Jicky is almost always one of the first ones recommended.

So I have worn this classic the last few years and I will start with a warning: Jicky is a mercurial creature. Jicky can be the most relaxing cozy musky lavender vanilla scent and then well on the bad days it can be a monstrosity of musky indoles that lasts for about an hour luckily it will calm down but that first hour when it is bad is hard. I suppose Jicky is the classic example for me of perfumes with a bad note that smell good eventually they are the ultimate "Wait for it!" of scents but the payoff is always sublime the calming down of the beginning becoming something absurdly relaxed and lush. For me Jicky is a somewhat voluptious scent it is curvy and easy, I find it amusing that the imagery Guerlain uses for this scent is frequently a rather erudite modern woman which I suppose at the time of creation it might have fit that image more, but as times have changed Jicky has suddenly bloomed into a more lush scent, it is about as lush as a lavender scent can be.

The opening features Guerlain's signature candied bergamot note with lavender right beside it and right beside those too is the indolic musk on the good days it remains a dirty musk that will eventually be tempered by the lavender, vanilla, and tonka on bad days it takes over and you hope your colleagues don't notice that is why I frequently wear it on the weekends. Once everyone finds their place in the scent it becomes a lovely lush tranquil scent, the lavender is consistently present but the temperament of it is never harsh. There are accompanying notes but really essentially this scent is a song of bergamot, lavender, musk, vanilla, and sandalwood.

Try if like: Kiehl's Musk, Shalimar, Pour Un Homme de Caron.

Jicky image from

dress image from

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Cuddly Meadow Fluff: Reverie au Jardin by Andy Tauer

If you ever want to smell an example of high altitude grown lavender take a sniff of Andy Tauer's Reverie au Jardin and you will probably shake your head in disbelief that this is a lavender scent. That is how I felt about Reverie au Jardin for a very long time I could not get a handle on the gentle sylvan creature of a scent. Yet, I finally get it, all because I was looking for lavender essential oil for my boyfriend to use in his shaving oil. I remember randomly being at a little store that sells essential oils and they had three different lavender essential oils and I decided to smell them all. I finally came to the high altitude grown Bulgarian lavender oil and smelled it and I was surprised at what I smelled. This lavender was sweet musky and even vanillic there was none of the stronger notes associated with lavender in it. It was indeed lavender but it smelled like it had be grown on a fluffy cloud.

Reverie au Jardin takes high altitude lavender and expands on the fluffy cuddly sweet quality of it and along the way decides to invert the idea of green scents being spiky, bright, and harsh at times. What you get is scent of the softest creamiest lavender musk and dancing around in the background very lightly is aldehydes, rose, galbanum, and bergamot. The finale of the lavender perfume is to be enclosed in the happy cocoon of ambergris that has hints of vanilla and soft woods. There is not a single harsh or prominent aspect in this scent it is perhaps one of the gentlest happiest scents I have ever come by.

There is an image it brings to my mind when I smell it. A meadow in some alpine region, the perfect day with big fluffy white clouds, an easy gentle breeze that never lets it get too hot, and a gentle brook murmuring in the background. There is a freshly laundered picnic blanket laid out and beneath it a little lavender has been slightly crushed as the picnickers have tried to straighten the blanket out before they go to investigate the brook. Reverie au Jardin smells like that scene in my head.

Try if you like: Baghari by Robert Piguet, Le Temps d'une Fete by Parfums de Nicolai, or Jicky by Guerlain.
image: Call from Heaven

Friday, August 22, 2014

A clear unencumbered soulful lavender: Gris Clair by Serge Lutens

It is funny to think of Serge Lutens tackling lavender in his scents considering I think the first thing that pops into my mind for his scents is exotic ambers, leathers, spices, and non-ethereal notes. Yet, it turns out that good old Serge has actually quite the catalog for enjoying the ethereal examples including Clair de Musc and Fleurs de Citronnier, but the ultimate one for me now is Gris Clair.

Gris Clair is a lavender in its full glory, the perfect rendition of the color of blue grey lavender while having the texture of gossamer like silk. Lutens' is able to capture lavender in so many gorgeous facets that well if you are a lavender lover it is rather glorious; he is able to show the soapy notes and the sweet almond notes that can be found in good lavender. The scent is like having sweet therapy in a bottle, it is cuddly and cleansing all at the same time. It hints at spiritual epiphany with its notes of incense supporting the lavender but at the same time it includes a masterfully used amber and tonka bean notes that lend a vanillic and almond sweetness so that the scent remains firmly grounded in the soft cloud of serenity category. If you are a lavender lover I cannot urge enough that you go get a sample of this. And yes I am now on the hunt to get a a bottle of this.  

Try if you like: Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens, Twilight by LUSH, or Lavande by Berdoues.

image from The Gingko Leaf

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lavender and a Leather Jacket: Lavande Ombree by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger.

Lavender has far more frequently within the world of perfume been a note used most often in men's perfumes than in women's perfumes, while many would argue, including myself that you should wear whatever catches your fancy from whatever gender related department of perfumes, the reality is still that designers and perfumers will put lavender in a men's perfume more frequently. Rarely though does a lavender scent for either gender enter the somewhat sexy smelling devil may care category of perfume yet Lavande Ombree by Au Pays de la Fleur d'Oranger does.

When I smell Lavande Ombree I have this immediate idea that this is what lavender would be if it was a biker, there is a prominent leather note entwined with the lavender, and it is not some sweet suede leather note, nope this that black leather jacket leather note. The leather is pungent but the lavender does not hold back either. As the scent progresses a strong raspy cinnamon and cedar enter and I am reminded of the classic and discontinued original Fendi by Fendi that powerhouse of a scent that was basically incense that decided it wanted to be a 1980's diva.  Lavande Ombree is a forward scent, it takes the idea of lavender as a dandy note, and decides to make it rugged and slightly dangerous. As the scent dries down it softens a bit the lavender less the leader but the cedar and leather remaining accented by musk and a hint of sweet amber to meld into the skin. Overall I can't help but respect that this scent is unabashedly not about sweet, nice, or smooth.

Give it a sniff if you like Knize Ten by Knize, Jolie Madam by Balmain, or Cuir Mauresque by Serge Lutens.

image: Sarah Esteje

Monday, August 18, 2014

Come Softly: 1902 Eau de Cologne Tradition Lavande by Parfums Berdoues

As a kid I didn't really get the appeal of lavender. I think it was because it was the 90s and it was the era of extreme aromatherapy and the stuff that was promoted with lavender was the cheaper harsher lavender that some might find therapeutic but I just found mostly rosemary like. Fast forward and somewhere along the lines I grew to appreciate it, I think it was when I finally got to smell high altitude and French lavender, the more delicate and soft scent altering my view of what lavender could be.

I received a decant of Lavande by Parfums Berdoues years ago and firmly forgot it in my box of decants. I was even at one point thinking about making it a freebie in my swapping, well I am glad I did not.

Lavande by Parfums Berdoues is a lovely soft lavender surprise, there is no harsh edges in this lavender. The beginning is a powdered lavender that is accented by a sweet and easy anise note, thankfully not overpowering, the anise works to bring out the sweeter quality of the lavender. From there the anise leaves the room and what enters is the final stage of simple soft musk, lavender, and tonka bean with hints of heliotrope. What I am reminded of at this stage is of the classic Jicky by Guerlain except this is easy and there is no possibility of the pungent musk of Jicky stepping in, mind you the depth and headiness of Jicky is not there but sometimes you just don't want that. Overall this scent is simple easy cuddliness that sooths the nerves. Very worthy of becoming a comfort scent on those harsh days. I am honestly reminded of a soft worn out flannel blanket when smelling this scent, there is a hint of pilling in some places but overall with time and wear it has hit that perfect point of absurdly soft.

Try if you like Jicky by Guerlain, Reverie au Jardin by Tauer Parfums, and Moonlight Path by Bath and Body Works.

image: Free People Blog

Friday, August 15, 2014

In Honor of This Stressful Week: Lavender

Next weeks theme is lavender and exploring it in scent. After a rather stressful  few weeks I have found myself craving the scent of lavender once again. I also am in debt to a wonderful swap that included a lovely lavender surprise.

image: amberlight1

Thursday, August 14, 2014

She's a Vamp: Neroli Blanc eau de pafum by Au Pays de la Fleurs d'Oranger

Sometimes you forget that orange blossom can be a sexy come hither vamp and when done right can hold up to a gardenia or tuberose in the nocturnal white floral category of perfumes that suggests vampiness. Narcisse Noir by Caron is the best known vampy orange blossom scent with its narcissus and incense notes creating an air of mystery and seduction with a hint of feralness.

Neroli Blanc eau de parfum is Au Pays de la Fleurs d'Oranger take on a vampy orange blossom. The scent begins with smoky dry orange blossom note supported by jasmine, it is unexpectedly austere but as it warms up on the skin it sweetens, the smoke backing out of the room, but what remains is an orange blossom with an animalic musk supporting it. The orange blossom is piercing and smooth, the allure of blossoms scenting the evening air. I feel like this scent is the love child of Serge Luten's take on vampy orange blossom Fleurs d'Oranger and Narcisse Noir, it takes the best of both and creates something a little bit more wearable but still retains a vampy sensuality. Highly recommend you sniff if you are looking for a nice going out and upping the sensuality scent.

Try if you like: Fleurs d'Oranger by Serge Lutens, Narcisse Noir by Caron, Elie Saab Le Parfum eau de parfum Intense, and LUSH Orange Blossom.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Thing About Freesia

Yesterday, I sprayed a perfume that opened with a wonderful tannic black tea note, it was rather unexpected considering it dried down to something akin to Cacharel's Noa Fleur. It was as I looked at the notes for the scent the freesia creating the effect. What saddens me is freesia is a rather maligned note in perfume, it has been taken by the fruity floral category but not really used to its full effect. I remember the first time I smelled fresh freesia and realized that it smelled like a freshly brewed cup of Earl Grey tea. It is the most black tea like scent I know of that is not black tea, it hints at lemon, but is supported by a rather tart floral quality. I should probably name the scent that has such an amazing black tea opening: Oscar de la Renta's Rosamor.

image from

Monday, August 11, 2014

Comfort me with...

Last week was a hard week, in fact this week will be hard also. Last Tuesday I began my day with a trip to the emergency room after I awoke to look like like my face was melting, allergic reaction to something, but I have no idea. That night finding a lump on my cat, a lump that did not go away, we then visited the vet on Thursday. The conclusion too deep under the skin to tell anything so surgery is needed. I then sat through blood tests for my cat and in general worried over my sweet girl. I now get to spend the week worrying up until Thursday about her surgery. As I sat here this morning thinking about perfume and wanting to concentrate on something I enjoy for the moment. I could not help but think about comfort scents.  I also thought about Ruth Reichel's wonderful title Comfort Me With Apples. Lately I have thought about the actual bottles of perfume I use up. The simple truth is frequently is that it often not my profound favorites with an exception. They fall in two categories fresh scents and this is the most dominating category, I live in a hot climate, and as much as I love my heavy scents those are the ones I love the most, I don't get to wear them nearly as much as I like. So I use up the bottles of my fresh scents the most. The other category of scents that I use up is my comfort scents, those are the exception. With all the stresses of life and there have been many I reach for comfort most often and the thing about my comfort scents is they have to hit this perfect balance of sweet, airy, light, but interesting which I think may be the hardest thing sometimes to find in a good fragrance. So a list of past and present comfort scents:

-Omnia by Bvlgari: the perfect marriage of chai, sandalwood, and musk. A gourmand that was never overbearing.
-Infusion d'Iris by Prada: cool, clean, and calm wore this constantly at the beginning of my masters program.
-Falling in Love by Philosophy: My first year of undergrad on my own, sweet berries, musk, and vanilla you can't blame for finding this comforting.
-Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker: the more delicate light sister of Narciso Rodriguez eau de toilette. The light patchouli, ambrette, and lavender creating a lovely cloud of calm and clarity.
-Jour de Fete by L'Artisan: A large lovely decant of almonds, flour, rainwater, and soothing violets.

-Jeans for her by Trussardi: A very good dupe of Jour de Fete but in some cases even better. The heliotrope and violets upped with a green soothing note, what it reminds me of is a creek in spring time.
-Clair de Musc by Serge Lutens: A creamy clean white musk that makes you feel like you have on your fluffiest robe.
-Silk Way by Ted Lapidus: creamy musk and incense, not overpowering at all, but a wonderful waft frequently of something akin to basmati rice.


Thursday, August 07, 2014

A young man in Europe: Field Notes From Paris by Ineke

I actually think this scent is perfectly unisex but as I wore it I had the image of the person I wanted to gift this to. But first we must talk about the scent. I remember the first time I tried Field Notes From Paris and being very disappointed, it was at the height of my tobacco scent lust, and in the adcopy there was constant mention of tobacco. What I should have recognized was that this is an Ineke creation, her scents are never blatant, they are very smooth, reserved in their sillage, and very modern smelling. The notes are pure, the bells and whistles of classic perfumery put aside for modern clean lines but Ineke's scent do not smell like mass market. They are most definitely niche and have the quality of a water color painting, full of light and ease.

Field Notes From Paris opens with with a happy buzzing bergamot supported by honey and musk, what soon moves in is a wonderfully clean African orange flower and coriander accord that never really leaves the scent. These two notes end up dancing with the tonka bean, musk, patchouli, and cedar with hints of cherry tobacco gliding in. The happy accord always keeps the scent rather sprightly while the notes become more and more oriental it finally ends with freshly lacquered wood note that is nestled beside a vase of African orange flower and coriander.

In my head this is the perfect scent for a young man who wants something different, he has just graduated college, had a year abroad somewhere in Europe, and after smelling the current major offerings is rather annoyed. Yet, he doesn't want absurd niche, he wants a scent that is cordial, at ease, warm, very easy on the nose, but smells different. Field Notes From Paris is that scent it is easy but unique, you won't offend but you smell distinct, there is a real warmth to it that makes you feel like you are meeting an old friend.

image via 50 Watts

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

L'Orpheline by Serge Lutens

The beginning is the archetype scent of fathers* shaving cream, aftershave, skin, with hints of spice from a cologne most prominently a hint of cinnamon. It is the scent your father might have as he left to go to work in the morning and kisses you on the head as he leaves. The fougere dominates the beginning but underneath are hints of musk and incense. Pretty soon the lavender and cade of the fougere withdraw slightly enough for cinnamon to come in supported by cedar. Here it has a bit of a wood shop quality but it remains a very cool scent, the cinnamon and cedar are not warm. Then they abate what comes forward is the musk, a musk that reminds me the most of Annick Goutal's Musc Nomade, a dry earthy musk with soft patchouli notes, also at this point the lavender steps into the picture again. What I am reminded of the most at this state is Guerlain's Jicky, if Jicky were drier, sadder, and had lost its vanilla notes. As the scent progresses forward the note of a soft dry cocoa patchouli comes into focus with a pinch of iris, they emphasize the cold aspect of this scent. The incense also begins to take a more prominent role, it is the cold civet-y incense found in Commes des Garcon's Avignon. The fougere steps back again and now the scent is musk and incense. All of this is encompassed in a haze of ambergris.

L'Orpheline is finding yourself in suburbia with the desire for something mystic. It really does feel a bit like being an outsider observing. The juxtaposition of the classic paternal scent of fougeres with cold incense and musk feels a bit like the state puberty, the emergence of an independent self from your parents. Whatever Lutens' intention is with this he has created a scent that captures otherness in comparison to others. An independence from the familiar. By the end though there is an equilibrium in the scent the ambergris offering shelter for the opposite notes to relax together.

Try if you like Jicky, Avignon, or Pour un Homme de Caron.

*I say archetype, because my father has never smelled like this. The scent of my father is woodsmoke, clean sweat from working outside, and freshly chopped wood he has never worn a cologne or perfume in his life.

image: Alessio Albi

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Tackling the Classics: Coriandre by Jean Couturier

We all have a category of perfumes that is a challenge one that others will rave about and will leave you puzzled wondering was there a mix-up, did I get a bad batch, why I am not getting this wondrous scent that everyone is talking about? For my chypres have rarely worked and by that I mean the classic chypres where oakmoss reigns supreme and you better like it. The beauty of Mitsouko completely lost on me, Miss Balmain a disaster, and Chanel Cristalle a game of galbanum wrecking ball. Once in awhile though I find a miracle, chypre of the classic era that I get, the first was Femme by Rochas, the second Yvresse by Yves Saint Laurent, and finally Coriandre by Jean Couturier. Now there arguments about the current formulation and the truth is I know nothing about the vintage but to me Coriandre is still recognizably a classic chypre and a lovely one at that. Now you may have not heard of Coriandre but it has been around since 1973 making it an underground classic at the moment.

So what makes Coriandre such a lovely experience? For me Coriandre softens its green notes with a soft rose and musk making a plush pillow for the greenery and spices. What I love about this scent is the use of coriander, I cook with it freguently, and I am always entranced by the green orange piquanty scent of it. Coriandre uses coriander to create a mellow lovely earthy soap in the scent. The scent then reminds me of family's ranch with earthy dusty herbs in the sun, cattle in the pasture, and hay warming in the sun. It is for me a combination of classy soap and my family's ranch. It takes the elegance of a French perfume and introduces it to the countryside in summer. Please do give it a try if you feel like you have had no luck with classic chypres.

Try if you like the original Agent Provocateur, Le Temps d'une Fete by Parfums de Nicolai, and Ivoire by Balmain.

Gorgeous forest image is by Tatiana Plakhova
Coriandre image from

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Esther P: Queen of Persia or that jasmine note.

I think Queen of Persia by Esther P is a fine fragrance on others but for me it has this jasmine note. This is the jasmine note found in Vanille Insensee, Nanette Lepore in the pink bottle, and Coco Mademoiselle it is the dry screechy jasmine that never calms down on me. It took me awhile to figure out the note causing the trouble on my skin but I finally realized it with Vanille Insensee where its prominence really shined on my skin.

As the scent calms down on my skin there emerges patchouli and iris with incense they take on a chocolatey quality but overall the jasmine keeps up its prominent role.

I wish I could say more about this scent but for me it is one that truly just does not work on my skin. It is funny I think the more I delve into perfume I am able to recognize the qualities of a perfume that does not work on me and now why. When you first begin smelling perfume it is easy to perceive what smells bad and what smells good but harder to really state what is not working. In this case I can now tell you three notes in perfume that cause major issues on my skin:

-The damp hay patchouli note found in Angel and Prada Amber.
-The acrid candyfloss note found in Angel and L'Artisan Vanilia.
-The dry screechy jasmine found in many of the modern Chanel's most especially Coco Mademoiselle (although I can wear this in pure parfum, I wonder if they use a different jasmine in that), Vanille Insensee, and the original Nanette Lepore in the pink bottle.

Try Esther P. Queen of Persia if you like Coco Mademoiselle, Vanille Insensee, or the original Nanette Lepore in the pink bottle, do not try if you have issues with all three of these.

image provided by

Friday, August 01, 2014

What Made July Good

July is one of those months that somehow gets lost in the year for me. I can remember June and I can remember August but July is always a blur. I cannot say it is because I am super busy doing summery things although I have been very busy in previous Julys and very slow in others. The one thing that stands out is always my father's birthday otherwise July exists in some sort of time hole. This July was productive in getting out and doing summery things.

1. We finally visited Angel Island, for years I have meant to visit Angel Island, the tiny island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay that once served as the West Coast's Ellis Island*, a military base (actually it still is), and is now a California state park. The visit to the park turned out to be a perfect respite from the heat. We took the ferry (always a bit romantic to me) in fog to the island and spent the day hiking and were able to enjoy a great rockabilly band with local beers. Afterwards fish tacos in Alameda.

2. The discovery of Clandestine Brewing. I am afraid our little brewery is no longer secret but the joy of finding a wonderful little local brewery remains and it serves interesting beers. Great people run it and I hope they keep up the good work.

3. Cowell Ranch Beach in Half Moon Bay, I love little local beaches with not a whole lot of people. This beach fulfills that need and it is just a gorgeous for your beach day. Day made even better with a visit to Half Moon Bay Brewing.

4. Best things I watched:
-Masters of Sex, damn it is so good! Plus Lizzy Caplan so damn perfect.
-True Detective, yeah I know what a shocker, everyone loves it, but seriously I am wanting to go as Rust Cohle for Halloween.

5. Best recipe, it is so simple, easy, and gets me through the hot weather; I cannot recommend this enough Warm White Bean Salad with Fragrant Garlic and Rosemary . Also if you love eggplant you must try this very simple and easy recipe: Chinese Eggplant with Spicy Garlic Sauce

6. Best reads:
-Oryx and Crake by Margerat Atwood, oh I need to talk to someone about this so badly. Scary amazing with the prescience, one of the best pieces of science fiction I have read in a long time. I am reading book two of the trilory now. I cannot recommend this enough.
-Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle, utterly opposite of Atwood but just as wonderful. Such a rare sweet and funny book for kids. It is really rare when someone can do humor and kindness but Federle does it with aplomb and it is been a long time since I really wanted to hug a character as much as I wanted to hug Nate.

7. Used up the last of my Osmanthe Yunnan, perfect in the balmy weather. Found Grand Neroli to really bloom in the heat, the dry heat bringing out the vanilla, and the humid heat bringing out the cedar note. Otherwise July was all about light airy scents which at this point I am rather sick of.

8. Song stuck in my head: Jenny Lewis's "Just One of the Guys" I really like Kristen Stewart's dude impression, plus the song is catchy, with some wonderful lyrics. The sound is summery but the subject is pointed, just how I like my indie pop.

*Angel Island's history I would say is far far more depressing.

Image: Alessio Albi

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Fragrance Season is About to Begin!

Let us all just say now the perfume industry is ubiquitous now and come fall like the film industry and publishing industry, the perfume industry saves its more interesting scents and big launches for that season*. Fall will soon be here (Well in name only really in California until late November) but there are some launches I am really excited to sniff. So here are the ones I am excited to sniff.

Elie Saab Essence No.1 Rose. Reason: I love the first fragrance from Elie Saab also Turkish and Damask Rose.
 Reason: The use of coffee notes.
 Reason: rum, leather, and tuberose.
 Knot by Bottega Veneta. Reason: Lavender and citrus blossoms.
 Reason: almond!
 Reason: I love the name and it is always exciting when Serge puts something out.
 Reason: Orange Blossom!
 Reason: Narciso! Plus the bottle.
Reason: Salt, iris, ambergris, and sandalwood.

Any scents you are excited about that are coming out?

*There are always interesting exceptions too.

All images from