Wednesday, December 30, 2015

End of the Year Fragrance Thoughts and Ideas for 2016

2015 was is/was a giant year for me. The first quarter of the year had some serious family issues that at times intensely broke my heart. All of this in the whirlwind of completing my certificate program. The second quarter of the year was the experience of moving in with my fiancee (boyfriend at the time) while continuing the manic pace of my certificate program. The third and fourth quarter of the year was a blur of school, disastrous internship issue that then left me scrambling to find another internship to complete before graduation this December, and the wonderful and intense elation of getting engaged. This year was intensely heady mix of what felt like extreme ups and downs. Somehow I kept this blog going which for me is pretty good :-).

Looking back at my perfume blogging aspirations for the year I did pretty much what I wanted to do. I kept blogging, I focused on California perfumers, and I felt like got to do some fun posts. Did I post every week, nope, but lets be honest I simply did not have the time, nor do I think I ever will have that time or focus to do so.

As I think about the year ahead I realize I will probably do more thematic post series. I love them, I love finding the interconnected-ness of perfumes. I deeply enjoy focusing on a single note and smelling the many variations and interpretations that can be found in perfume when using it. I think I would like to explore more Etsy perfumers, so if you have any suggestions for this please post below. I will probably continue my exploration of California perfumers. I want to continue finding gems that have flown under the radar. Also, I want to explore more notes. I think I may have finally done enough rose sniffing for awhile. I am going to continue to search for a new everyday musk perfume considering my bottle of Egyptian Goddess went bad and I don't want to repeat it.

I hope everyone is ending the year in a better place than where they started at the beginning of 2015, I know for once I am. If you are not I hope soon everything will calm down enough to give you some breathing space and clarity. Best wishes for the New Year, Jen.

Image Cig Harvey

Monday, December 28, 2015

My Favorite Scents of 2015

These are the scents I found myself enjoying and wearing this year the most. Some are new, many are old, I'm simply not one to keep up with the new

Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens
Years later I finally try this fairy tale ode to sandalwood and rose. Romantic and glowing this scent is serenity and sensuality wrapped together. Works equally well in heat and cold, easily a work horse scent for me.

Ninfeo Mio by Annick Goutal
A late find in the year but utterly original in the fig category and I can't wait to write more about it. A creamy tart green.

Un Jardin Apres la Mousson by Hermes
I love this weirdo of a scent. A tart and tangy watermelon scent with vetiver and cardamom.

Lolita Lempicka L'eau en Blanc by Lolita Lempicka
A powder puff of almond, raspberry, iris, and white musk all with hints of the original LL's violet and caramelized anise and vetiver.  Perhaps the best flanker find of the year for me.

North by MikMoi
Such a lovely romantic spring promise, crystalline flowers that glow. And look a scent that was actually released in 2015.

No.19 Warm Carrot by Cognoscenti
The best warm embrace scent I have tried in awhile. The scent of warm spices and carrot has never smelled so good.

Ao by MikMoi
Still loving this a year later. I still consider it my favorite genius aquatic tropical scent.

Tudor Rose & Amber by Jo Malone
Hey look another 2015 release. A workhorse wine drenched spicy rose. Romantic and dramatic and has great staying power for a Jo Malone.

Vanille Botanique by DSH
The big diva vanilla that I did not know I needed until I tried it and then well I was completely smitten.

So that's what I wore the most frequently or had immediate utter love for. Some repeats form last year but a whole lot of new in the sense they were not in my wardrobe previously.

Image Sofia Bonati Offronia

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Winter Solstice 2015 Scents

The first day of winter. Time to bring out the cold relief brigade.

1. L'Agent by Agent Provocateur
A deep dark incense with hints of leather. Use this with a light hand even in cold weather but when worn properly this is a gorgeous spicy resinous incense on me.

2. Ambre Narguile by Hermes
The most deliciously calorific apple pie tobacco amber out there. I am always reminded of Moroccan pastries when I wear this.

3. Kenzo Amour Le Parfum
A hot cold incense on a bed of warm basmati rice pudding with hints of stewed cherries. Comforting, enveloping, and serene.

4. Burberry Brit Red
A tart opening of bright rhubarb followed by creamy vanilla and hints of spices. An utter party scent.

5. Chanel Bois des Iles
The closest Chanel has ever gotten to gourmand territory and even then that is very little. A sensual classic sandalwood meets sparkling aldehydes and has hints of French pain d'epices. Supporting the act carnations, cloves, and hints of peaches of bergamot. One of the most elegant and femme wood scents ever created.

6. Calligraphy Rose by Aramis
Utterly baroque and sumptuous, Calligraphy Rose is a caramelized rose and amber. Decadent is the game of this one.

7. Oppoponax by Les Nereides
Like the glow of well polished wood. Lovely stuff in cold weather just enough powder and resin to keep you through the day.

8. No. 19 Warm Carrot by Cognoscenti
I adore this mesmerizing spicy carrot scent. Perfect in chilly weather, it is luminous, sensual, and calm.

9. L de Lolita Lempicka pure parfum
The scent of oranges, cinnamon, and vanilla in a nest of immortelle. An instant mood brightener and a delicious gourmand.

10. Traversee du Bosphore by L'Artisan
A lipstick rose scent that meets tobacco and suede.

Image Moon Guardian

Monday, December 21, 2015

When Immortelle was the "It" note: L de Lolita Lempicka pure parfum by Lolita Lempicka

It you stay perfume enthusiast long enough you will find two things 1) Over time things you bought randomly or cheaply or both will sometimes become perfume treasures and 2) you will go through a few "It" note trends. L de Lolita Lempicka pure parfum encompasses those two experiences easily.

Currently in my perfume stash I have two bottles of L de Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka one in the original eau de parfum strength and the other in the pure parfum strength. These are both the original version before the reformulation and then the eventual discontinuation. I'll be honest I am still in shock that L de Lolita Lempick is not in production, it is excellent gourmand, and yet Lolita Lempicka seems to have never figured out what to do with it. It had only one flanker and then it was gone. Currenlty L is selling for a lot of money on ebay if it is original the pre-reformulated version.

 L de Lolita Lempicka is the perfect example of the perfume cycle, originally released in 2006 as the first new perfume from Lolita Lempicka it was never quite marketed right. The visual is a mermaid and the bottle a fun blue ocean hued shaped pebble with an oceanic motif. I love it, but inherently it probably confused many because inside is the ultimate gourmand mixture of vanilla, cinnamon, and orange all on a bed of maple infused immortelle. This is not a typical tropical beach scent but rather a beach scent for craggy coastlines or coasts that know all too well cold winter storms, it is sunny in that it is the bright light with brisk winds. I reminded of French coastline in Normandy and Brittany and you are eating an delicious buttery pastry of some sort.

More confusing to the average perfume buyer is the immortelle note, now this is probably the most likable immortelle you will meet but L has that heaviness of immortelle that probably takes awhile to get used to. Immortelle right around the time L was released enjoyed a brief moment in the spotlight, we in the perfume community were wanting salty maple laced notes and immortelle could provide that. L is the only mainstream release that I can think of and since then that featured immortelle but not much has happened since its release in mainstream perfumery with the note.

The scent was created by Maurice Roucel and is not completely original, it bares quite a bit of resemblance to his other creation Frederic Malle's Musc Ravegeur, the difference of scents was that L was more vanilla forward and used immortelle where as Musc Ravegeur was about musk and vanilla with spices and featured a more fougere quality. The thing is they are both examples of very modern perfumery, neither of them go through many changes on the skin but rather keep a constant reverberation of vanilla and spice going. Nothing wrong in that though because frankly they just smell really good.

L de Lolita Lempicka in the pure parfum version smells a great deal like the eau de parfum variation. the main difference being a tiniest hint of patchouli and hints of cocoa in the drydown. The citrus is more tampered down and thus the vanilla, cinnamon, and immortelle are the main stars. The lasting power is incredible and it is a scent truly meant for cold weather.

First Image from The Perfume Base Line
Second Image Ransom Mitchell

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Pop Culture Fun Series: The Great British Bake Off or as known in the US The Great British Baking Show

Recently a season of The Great British Bake Off showed up on Netflix and I am in heaven. This is the first reality show in a very very long time to catch my attention (the last was the very early seasons of Project Runway). And I'm not alone, suddenly in the US we are mad* for it and with good reason, if this is what reality competitions were all the time then I would watch a whole lot more of them. There is no giant prize, there is camaraderie, everyone is exceptionally civil, and it is all about being creative. The point is to prove you can bake and that is it. Plus, I love Sue Perkins ever since I watched the whole Supersizers series.

So as I have been watching the series I have been thinking of all the inventive and delicious combinations the bakers have been coming up with and have been feeling rather inspired myself (pain d'epice may be happening today). This then all led to me having a sudden Pop Culture Fun Series inspiration. I wanted to do a list of scents with qualities that lend themselves the most to describing baked goods.

The original Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka, the perfect note of sweet caramelized anise with vanilla, cherry, vetiver, and tobacco. I can't help but think French confection with this one, the love of anise is strong in French culture, and gourmand use of it is the signature of Lolita Lempicka . I like to think of Lolita Lempicka as anise flavored Kouig-Amann. The deeply dark caramelized buttery goodness of Kouig-Amann offset by the dark bittersweet notes of anise, doesn't that sound a bit like Lolita Lempicka?

Next up PHI Une Rose de Kandahar by Tauer Perfumes, the beginning of PHI has one of the most phenomenally delicious beginnings I have ever smelled. Perfectly tart sweet apricot, sweet bitter, almond, and delicious cinnamon pastry. It makes me think of apricot turnovers that have met the Moroccan dish B'Steeya. I can totally see someone trying to pull that off on The Great British Bake Off.

Tarte Tatin meets One Thousand and One Nights, that is how I would describe Hermes Hermessence Ambre Narguile. Supposedly this is inspired by the scent of a hookah, but many perfume lovers will attest that this reminds them the most of sweet caramelized apples. I can attest to the apple connection to the time I did make sweet caramelized apples in the oven and the scent that permeated my home at the time was intoxicating and very very reminiscent of Ambre Narguile. Ambre Narguile takes Tarte Tatin and laces it with cinnamon and sesame and the scent becomes one of the most intensely glorious gourmands you will smell.

Subtly sweet bread, Bois Farine by L'Artisan. I wish I had kept my sample longer of this one because indeed it smelled like bread, sweet bread, think challah or brioche. This is a scent way to ahead of its time. This scent is the love song to the scent of flour and the wondrous things it does when it becomes bread. I suspect Paul Hollywood would dig it.

*Please excuse the sudden use of British lingo, can't help it, happens every time I get into a good UK import.

image from

Friday, November 27, 2015

Tackling A Classic: Must de Cartier by Cartier (1981)

Must de Cartier is a bizarrely maligned classic, the maligning mainly stemming from Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez's perfume guide which sums it up as smelling like cheap Russian chocolates. To this day that is the one review I truly and utterly disagree with them on. If you can love Angel then really in my head you have no ground to stand on. But let's actually get onto the perfume.

Must de Cartier has a complicated history, when Cartier released they also had a day version to go with it, the day version wasn't popular, but the evening version lived on. I remember reading somewhere that this was supposed to be Cartier's response to Calvin Klein's Obsession. Obsession is a scent that Must gets frequently compared too but to my nose they don't share a whole lot other than being in the Oriental family. For me Obsession is heavily dank spicy musk where as Must is well a composition of a different sort.

Must de Cartier is combination of green and elegant galbanum and narcissus and rich caramelized ambered woods with a whole lot of delicious tonka bean. There are hints of leather in the scent and to my nose also hints of delicious cherry pipe tobacco. I suspect that is the tonka bean playing with another note.

For me the genius of this scent is the use of galbanum and narcissus, this pairing of intense green notes with the caramelized woods creates the effect of making sure the heavier notes don't get out of hand. Must is no doubt an intense scent but those green notes give it an air of earthiness that lets it go beyond the usual sexy vavavoom-ness that we associate with the Oriental family. It is a cerebral oriental, it's not understated, but their is brain behind it.

What I find interesting is that to my nose it is the clear predecessor of two fairly well-loved scents. Dior's Addict before the reformulation and Fifi Chachnil's Fifi Chachnil. The likeness of Addict and Must de Cartier are found in the drydown where there is a definitely resemblance with the accord of amber, tonka bean, and vetiver being used but where as Must uses leather to anchor the notes, Addict uses heavy calorie vanilla to anchor the scent. The resemblance to Fifi Chachnil is also with the accord of amber, tonka bean, and vetiver yet I would also add I think Fifi gets some inspiration of using coriander in the beginning from the galbanum used in Must, the use of coriander provides that fresh green citrus note that lets the scent not get drowned out by the heavier notes. Ultimately, the divergence of Fifi is the much more prominent use of tobacco and rose in the scent.

Let's take a moment to also talk about reformulation. My Must de Cartier was bought somewhere in the mid 2000s at this point I know many spoke of it being reformulated yet it had not been reformulated to the point of being another perfume considering I have decant of the vintage parfum which it most definitely is akin too. The vintage parfum is gorgeous and a beloved for good reason, the notes richer, and more brocade like.

Try Must de Cartier if you like Dior's Addict, Fifi Chachnil, and Nicolai's Le Temps d'Une Fete.

First image from Makeupalley
Second image from Art Odyssey

Monday, November 23, 2015

Best Perfume Reading of the Week Part 1

So I love reading about perfume as much as the next fumehead and I thought why not share the reviews or ideas that throughout the week catch my interest.

First up Tresor Prijs lovely and personal review of Serge Luten's Bas des Soie at Fragrance Daily. I've never thought to try to locate a sample of this one by Tresor has me very intrigued.

The continuation of a great animalics series over at Fragrantica Part 1 and Part 2.

Shout out to Chez Pajama because she is the one really willing to go out on a limb and try it all. Her reviews are fun, short, sweet, and to the point but with plenty of experience behind them.

The reviews for Enfleurage's Sanctuary, Rose, and Amber over at Now Smell This.

EauMG's Autumn Bath and Body Picks I am intrigued by all of the carrot stuff considering my new found love it due to Cognoscenti's No.19 Warm Carrot.

And the release of this.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Elegant Bohemian: Vol 870 YUL-CDG by Monsillage (2014)

Sometimes I forget what a good elegant scent can do, for me it has the power to make me feel put together, not ostentatious, but like your own skin is perfectly fine and everything is clicking together. The thing about an elegant scent to me is that it must like feel like a melange of notes, no note is above the others, and yet there is a defined story. I know that is a lot to require out of a scent for it to be considered elegant and I admit there is a lot of Chanel influence in that assertion but that is how I define elegant scents.

On the other hand it is even harder to find an elegant scent with quirk, quirk is rather hard to describe but for me it has to be that note that strikes out and brings something new to the conversation but at the same time is utterly smooth in its compelling addition. Well if you are looking for a sort of unique contrarian elegance then I think you probably should seek out Monsillage's Vol 870 YUL-CDG. Vol 870 YUL-CDG is a bit of a wonder because perfumer Isabelle Michaud created a classic elegant scent that I would feel comfortable wearing at an elegant soiree or a bohemian retreat.

The beginning of Vol 870 YUL-CDG is all about the the osmanthus absolute for me. I adore osmanthus so I am always excited when I see a perfumer take the note and go in a different direction with it. Frequently osmanthus is paired with tea or used as a supporting player, but in Vol 870 YUL-CDG Michaud chooses to let osmanthus star. This is an osmanthus full of dried apricots and hinting at the resinous note that you smell in osmanthus absolute it is lovely and warm so different from other floral notes that once again I am reminded that I find shocking that it is not used more often in perfumery. There is a tannic quality to osmanthus that keeps the sweeter wine like qualities of it in check, it is the sort of scent that balances out the cold sweet of ylang ylang with tannins of black tea and the delicious tartness of dried apricots, it is one of the most naturally layered and complex notes you will ever run across.

What enters next is a rather genius pairing for osmanthus, the notes of balsams. I grew up on a ranch that was high enough in elevation that we had a variety of fir and pine trees and one of my favorite things to go do as a child was to play with the sticky fragrant sap of those trees much to the annoyance of family. Vol 870 YUL-CDG pairs osmanthus with pines and firs, the resinous and balsamic notes play beautifully with the osmanthus creating an elegant but frankly adventurous scent. The mingling of forest and ripe fruit is sensuous yet clever. The woven pairing of osmanthus and balsams play for hours on the skin, the fruit receding with time, and the drydown containing hints of musk, amber, and vetiver. It is a smooth blending that creates warm woods quality on the wearer.

Try if you like Ormonde Jayne Woman, Sonoma Scent Studio's Jour Ensolielle, or Le Temps d'Une Fete by Nicolai.

first image from
second image Moki Mioke

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Momentous Life: The Five Accords of Ideasthesia and Ideasthesia by MikMoi (2015) (Scent No.4 of the Elegance series).

 Recently MikMoi released five accords and the perfume Ideasthesia. I was lucky enough to be gifted by the perfumer with a sample pack, and as of the last month I have been wearing and thinking about the Ideasthesia project. Recently this last weekend I was able to sit down with Mik and discuss the scents and here is the funny thing as much as we talked about notes and scents, I still came away from our conversation having the exact same feeling  and thoughts about the scents that I had before going into the conversation. There was a few clarifying notes, but otherwise one of the nice qualities about Mik and his perfumes is he simply allows the wearer to bring their own experiences to the perfume. Diversity is one of the cornerstones in his perfume philosophy.  As I have worn and smelled the accords that make up Ideasthesia and I should mention that these accords are in their own right fully made perfumes, there is nothing missing from these scents when you wear them.

There are stages to life and sometimes they do not necessarily come in the order most known but they do happen.I have been struck with how much these accords remind me of these life stages

The first accord and probably the most on the nose one for me is Birth. Birth is a scent that lovingly references the Southern European and Middle Eastern tradition of scenting babies with orange blossom water and it should also be mentioned that this scent is frequently used for brides. This is probably one of the best orange blossom scents I have smelled in awhile, while it is definitely supported by citrus, and juicy citrus at that the scent reads to me deliciously of rich fresh orange blossom. It is a full orange blossom scent, in the likes of L'Artisan's long gone harvest series. At certain stages I almost read an earthy incense note in Birth that reminds me of the ceremonies involved in blessing children. The final drydown for me is a lovely honeyed orange blossom, it's not sweet, but hints are true orange blossom honey that contains frequently just a hint of branch. The depth and tenacity of Birth are excellent for citrus orange blossom scent and it remained with me all day. It is a wonderfully uplifting scent.

The next accord is Breath, Breath is easily for me the stage of childhood. Tt is a wondrous green happy scent that suggests exploration and a sense of curiosity in the world that I think at times is the most strong in our childhood. There is a wonderful opening of spearmint and grass, I sort of forget that spearmint is a note that can be used in perfume, but there it is naturally sweet and bright in Breath. The combination of spearmint and grass reminds me of getting up early in the morning when I was child and exploring the world in the summer while everyone was asleep. Breath for me is that sort of bright shiny exploration of the natural world, it is lolling in the grass, and really looking at the greenery around you. There is a lovely fig note that runs through Breath that provides a green milky backdrop to the scent along with a fresh dose of petitgrain that I feel references Birth. 

The stage that follows birth and childhood is a I think one that is far more universal in our older years but definitely only comes to us with puberty and that is the state of romantic awakening. I'll say it now I fell in love with North. I fell in love with it enough that I bought a bottle on the spot. North is romantic radiance, a crystalline melange of floral notes that I usually run away from, but in Mik's hands are exquisitely rendered. There is just no getting around the romantic beauty of North the use of jasmine, tuberose, and rose is a bit of a trifecta of culturally considered romantic notes. Yet, the thing that makes this so utterly wearable and perfect for me is the use of geranium. Geranium doesn't get enough love, but when used provides that bright luminous quality that I frequently associate with aldehydes but geranium does it more kindly, gently, and with just a hint of stemmy crushed greenery. There is a luminous quality to North that suggests glow of when you first fall in love, the one that everyone comments on because frankly you are obscenely happy. North is about as close as I have ever gotten to finding the olfactory equivalent of romantic awakening in a bottle.

The next stage of life is a bit blurrier to understand but we all go through it. I think at times it is one of the longest stages, the age of getting to really know yourself. This is the part I think is the most varied for everyone for some it is the finding of true identity, for others coming to peace with your actual inclinations, or for some a recognition of how you are a singular creature no matter all our connections. I find this stage in the Known accord. Known is a smoky pinon sort of scent, it suggests incense and arid landscapes. It is philosophically pushing to that area in our lives where we learn to make choices on our own. I think the smokiness of Known suggests the birth of identity aka the phoenix from the flames, this is not necessarily a painful process but is none the less a process of fulling recognizing who we are beyond the boundaries of our childhood. The incense and woods also suggest spiritual growth but on our own terms, it is the passage of one stage of life to the next, I want to say adulthood, but I feel that doesn't full encapsulate the process of knowing yourself because it is a continuing process.  Known is the scent of independence of thought.

The final accord is Found. Found is the scent of finding the familial in our lives as adults. It is an earthy spicy comforting scent that at the beginning reminds me of quite frankly of cinnamon oatmeal cookies, but this is not a gourmand. The spices in this are hot and strong it is akin to grinding your own spices at home when making spice breads. As Found mellows the scent takes on hint of almond and a deliciously warm slightly furry musk. The musk is utterly comforting, not clean, nor funky but familial. Found is ultimately the scent of getting a hug from a loved one, it is that moment in our adult lives where stability and community intersect, it is deliciously kind and strong..

We finally come to Ideasthesia a scent meant to be an accord of the accords. This is obviously the most layered and complex of the scents and I think in a way represents a life well lived. It is a scent meant to draw on all the aspects of the accords. What it becomes is a scent to my nose akin to the classic Nuit de Noel by Caron. They don't smell alike but in Ideasthesia Mik is able to get that grand layering of floral, gourmand, and incense that I smell in Nuit de Noel. The scent of Ideasthesia is the clear fresh white florals of Birth and North punctuated by the smoky incense of Known at least that is what the scent was on me most of the time. On other days Ideasthesia was a sweeter scent with Found playing a greater role with the floral notes adding a bit of spicy sweetness to the florals, At other times Breath would up the fresh notes and make the opening a bit galbanum tinged giving the scent an even more classic quality. Ideasthesia has proven to be a bit of a chameleon scent depending on the temperature of the day you can get so many different qualities, each wearing seeming to play upon one facet being stronger than the other.
Ultimately the art that reminded of the most of Ideasthesia is David Bowie's song Thursday's Child, a song about life and experience through the lens of age.

Birth Image: Joy St. Clair
Breath Image: Peach Blossoms—Villiers–le–Bel, ca. 1887–89
Childe Hassam (American, 1859–1935)
North Image: Ryan Pickart
Known Image: Mickael Jou
Found Image: Puung

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Dramatic Introverted Elegance: No.19 Warm Carrot by Cognoscenti (2012)

Sometimes a perfumer highlights a note so well you are kind of dumbfounded that it doesn't get used more. This is one of the feelings I have for Cognoscenti's No.19 Warm Carrot. My other feelings and thoughts are: this is the the perfect mashup of French pain d'epice and Indian gajar halwa, this has one hell of a spicy cold opening, the drydown is magnificent, this is so perfectly fall, and I feel like this the baby of Guerlain's L'Heure Bleu and Chanel's Bois des Iles. As you can see No.19 is incredibly layered and yet utterly wonderful.

No.19 starts out with a magnificent dramatic entrance that smells like cardamom, cold ylang-ylang, and earthy carrots the effect reminds me of the grinding of spices for pain d'epice. There is a slight quieting and the earthy powder of lavender enters, it softens the spice just enough that the carrot seed at this point is the most potent. Cognoscenti gives you operatic dramatic carrot, the perfumer draws out the leathery or as I think the furrier aspects of carrot. This is the moment where the carrot seed gets to be the star and in my head this is the color combo of intense rich orange against a rather soft dove grey.

After about 15 minutes we then enter the longest stage, the pain d'epice and gajar halwa stage. This stage is utterly lovely and will scent your scarf through out the day. At this point the tiniest drops of amber and vanilla enter the mix and they play utterly supporting roles mainly to gentle the spices and bring out the fruitier aspects of carrot. What you get is combination of creamy gajar halwa, that delicious Indian dessert pudding, that is lightly spiced with cardamom, and the anise laced gingerbread of France, pain d'epice. This sounds gourmand but really it isn't, it is just the perfect distillation of autumnal spices and it all sits gently with earthy carrot seed jam.

Eventually the spice takes a backseat and a mellow animalic mix of carrot jam, amber, and labdanum sit of the skin. The effect is deliciously cozy and elegant, it has the cider-ed quality of Bois des Iles on the skin.

The elegance of No.19 is rather operatic to me and yet it is not loud, there is such a gorgeous layering of notes in this scent that I reminded of classical perfumes and yet the used of carrot seed is distinctly unique and modern. Honestly I plan to get myself a small bottle of this for Autumn/Winter although I can see it playing perfectly on cold grey Spring days.

Try if you like Chanel Bois des Iles, Guerlain L'Heure Bleu, Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne des Bois, and Prada Infusion de Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue.

First image from
Second image Ha Jundi

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Modern Elegance: Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue (2012)

For the last 8 years I have worn some sort of iteration of Prada's Infusion d'Iris, the first being the original version of Infusion d'Iris, after that there was Candy (yup I consider it just another spin-off of the Infusion series), and currently I am now on a bottle of Infusion d'Irs Eau de Parfum Absolue.

The original Infusion d'Iris could easily be a part of this series. Here is the thing I have not worn the current version which was definitely reformulated but what I can do is tell you about the Absolue version.

Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue and from here on out referred to as simply Absolue is sort of the perfect marriage of Infusion d'Iris with Candy and with a few tricks up its sleeve. Absolue takes that perfect cloudy sweetness of Candy and marries it to the wonderfully approachable and urbane iris found in Infusion d'Iris. It ends up just being this perfect puff of bittersweet in Absolue, it amplifies the powder and adds a sensual skin note that had not originally been there.

Yet, what makes Absolue so elegant and far more adult is the use of incense in the scent. There is a definite far more earthier note in Absolue than in the original Infusion d'Iris. At times on my skin it can read as patchouli or sometimes it shows itself as incense, it is a fun trick.

What I love also about Absolue is the earthy powder that pervades it. Obviously that is partly iris doing its work but there is just a hint of rice in it that suggests makeup. It gives Absolue just a hint of glamour.

The elegance of Absolue is that for me it takes the aloof iris and makes it far more approachable yet keeps iris's erudite qualities. The addition of benzoin and richer incense notes gives it a greater depth and sensuality than the original Infusion d'Iris, letting the wearer have a far richer scent which thankfully though does not ever enter the burdensome territory. As always the Infusion series remains seasonless and all occasion ready, it is probably as close to a signature scent as I have come.

Try if you like Prada's original Infusion d'Iris or Candy, Parfumerie Generale's Iris Taizo, Chanel No.19 Poudre, Bvlgari Eau Parfumee au The Bleu, or Cognoscenti No. 19 Warm Carrot.

First image is from
Second Image from Estuary Designs

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Elegance Series, first up Elegant Earthy: L'Inspiratrice by Divine (2006)

So I have had this idea floating in my head for the last month of doing an elegant perfume series. The idea happened when I tried the very interesting Monsillage Vol 870 YUL-CDG and the immediate thought that came to my head was that it was very elegant classic scent. Yet, at the same time it is really interesting and by interesting I mean that plays with notes and isn't stuffy in the least and well it has some quirk. The more I thought about it the more I realized I wanted to do a series on scents that were released fairly recently and embody what I consider classic elegance and yet they must be interesting. Nothing boring or stuffy, they have to have quirk and soul.

I like aldehydes but I inherently find most of the time the composition they come with are not really me, the classic pairing of aldehydes is florals, and as I've mentioned before pure florals and I rarely are on the same footing to get along. It also makes me saddened that aldehydes are rarely used beyond the genre of floral when Chanel's classic Bois des Iles highlights that in fact aldehydes can get along stupendously with wood notes, in this case sandalwood. I should also mention that aldehydes can frequently connote an elegance in perfumes for their brightening and deepening effect.

Have you ever thought I really wish L'Artisan would mosh their Voleur de Roses with Chanel No.5 Sensual Elixir? Yeah, me neither until I tried Divine's L'Inspiratrice and that is what I get on my skin and you know what it really really works.

L'Inspiratrice starts with playful use of aldehydes, it reminds me of the more softened aldehydes used in Chanel No.5 Sensual Elixir or Eau Premiere, yet the base of this scent is the classic combination of patchouli and roses that is akin to L'Artisan's Voleur de Roses. Now what keeps this composition melded and smooth is the use of delicate vanilla and ylang ylang.

I just want to reiterate that the use of vanilla in this composition does not make it a vanilla scent, in fact this is a prime example of vanilla being used as a smoothing agent and just adding a dollop of sweetness it tames the patchouli enough that the camphorous qualities it can have are kept at bay.

If vanilla is used to tame the patchouli then ylang ylang is used to tame the aldehydes. Ylang Ylang can have a deep camphorous narcotic scent, I love it, but recognize the hot cold effect it has can be alien to some. What is interesting is while modern perfumery is not a big fan of it, if you look at the classic aldehydic scents they used it everywhere, I theorize it is because piercing sweetness of ylang ylang balances out the sharp champagne qualities of aldehydes.

But you are probably asking what about the rose? The rose in L'Inspiratrice is a soft velvety skin rose, it melds to the wearer and plays the vital supporting role to the patchouli, it is what I call a cuddly somewhat maternal rose, there is no bite but neither is it virginal. It just exists plushly.

L'Inspiratrice melds beautifully with the wearer, the effect is elegant but warm, it is velvety without being suffocating. The lack of suffocation I give credit to the dry cocoa patchouli that is used and no heavy ambering or syrup notes. After Chanel's Bois des Iles this is the next prime example I can think of that aldehydes can meld beautifully to wood based creations.

Try if you like Chanel's Coromandel, No.5 Sensual Elixir, Bois des Iles or L'Artisan's Voleur de Roses.

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Second Image Alonzo King

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I Give Up: Pierre Guillaume

It is funny when you realize a perfumer's aesthetic just does not work for you. I mean it is rather bizarre to realize you have over the years sampled many of their fragrances and yet you have not fallen for one once, yet that is what has happened between me and the nose Pierre Guillaume aka the absurdly handsome perfumer. The funny thing, is that his perfumes have not done incredible acts of smelling awful on me, but rather none have ever caused me to have a perfume swoon. I have at least admired one but recognized the composition is just not me. I think it does tell you about a perfumer's signature in the scents they create and that it does exist. So the question is have I have tried enough of Guillaume's work to be able to say this? I think so if you take a look at the list.

In the Huitieme Art Parfums collection:
Ambre Ceruleen oh did I want this too work, but alas this was an intense root beer amber on me that just never melded.
Poudre de Riz, seems like a no brainer but sadly ended up smelling similar to What We Do In Paris Is Secret but even lighter, I suspect the problem is the musk used in it. Really wanted that rice note.

From the Parfumerie Generale collection:
Cadjmere, once again a scent that disappeared on my skin. For a moment I get a lovely piney sandalwood coconut scent akin almost to Kheer in a weird way.
Corps et Ames, not sure I can blame this on Guillaume considering I notoriously do not wear chypres well.
PGO5 L'eau de Circe, perfectly nice but it didn't really capture me.
PG13 Brulure de Roses, a delicious rose jam opening but then it sort of goes blah.
PG14 Iris Taizo, mainly a whole lot of intense spiced amber, once again doesn't really meld.
PG21 Felanilla, a modernized furrier Shalimar that once again proves that Shalimar just does not work on me.
L'Ombre Fauve, the closest to almost swoon, this animalic amber is quite good, but I can recognize that as much as I like this scent it is just not me.

So what does this all mean? Mainly that I think I will probably stop spending money on samples of Guillaume's perfumes. He is loved by others and I can see that he does interesting work but whatever his signature is in his fragrances it just does not work well on me.

On the other hand as I was writing this post this morning it occurred to me how it is so hard to apply the "true" critical eye to a perfume. Now some might suggest to be truly critical you can only smell it on paper thus the skin does not interact with the scent, but I think that defeats the purpose of perfume which is meant to be worn on the skin.

Still over time I have wondered now what causes me to praise one thing but not the other? Is there qualities that will make me more lenient towards a composition or not?  Frankly here the guidelines I follow in my head when it comes down to review:

1) I'll be the first to admit I'm easier on the little guy, for true indie perfumers if I'm not in love with a scent or fact find myself disliking it, I won't review it. The frank truth is the world is unfair and the bigger piece of the market you have the better you do, for an up and coming indie perfumer I just don't have the heart to write a really negative review. They just aren't playing on level ground.
2) I will not attack the perfumer of the composition in any personal way, in the era of troll and massive negativity when someone does anything I refuse to contribute. I will talk about the composition, discuss why it does not work for me, but beyond that nope.
3) The one caveat, the up-pricing of compositions that obviously come from a cheaper source. I'm looking at you Penhaligon's with Empressa, that is a ridiculous joke being played on consumers. I will discuss marketing and mass market perfumes and how I frequently think it is shooting itself in the foot.

So these are just a bit of my musings.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Such a Little Wonder or Rhubarb Dreams: Jimmy by Bruno Fazzolari

The thing about a Bruno Fazzolari scent is that he is able to lend his synesthesia to the wearer. When you wear Monserrat it does immediately evoke the color orange. Au Dela brings to mind earthy shades of browns and greens. And with Jimmy, Fazzolari, is able to evoke an a combination of colors I have always loved, vibrant rich pink and green.

Jimmy is a happy scent, it is probably the easiest entry point into Fazzolari's collection of scents, it is in fact incredibly easy going. The word that Jimmy brings to mind is delightful. The scent of Jimmy is spritely and bright. The beginning of Jimmy is a play of violets and tart black current, everything is dancing together, and honestly I am reminded of the dancing ballet hippos in Disney's Fantasia. I think it's because there is a rather jolly bounce to Jimmy.

The violets in Jimmy are happy, there is nothing melancholic about these violets, consider them rain drenched and suddenly in spring sunshine. The tart accent of black current gives them a fruit accent and they are sweetened with rose.

The violets eventually make room for a wonderful alchemy on Fazzolari's part, what enters is grapefruit, a grapefruit that plays equally beside the violet and rose. You smell all three of them at the same time and bizarrely it all reminds me of rhubarb, I can't explain it but that is exactly what happens.

What is interesting about all of this is right in the background is an excellent use of ambergris and moss, they add an earthiness that only enhances the rhubarb quality of the scent even more. It is sort of a briar patch effect, the way berries are enhanced by the earthy scent of the briars around them.

Jimmy is an excellent recreation of a spring day. I highly recommend to those that miss Spring in the Winter.

Try Jimmy if you like Jour d'Hermes, Sonoma Scent Studio's Yin and Ylang, or  Le Temps d'une Fete by Nicolai Parfumeur.

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Second image Janet Little Jeffers

Friday, October 16, 2015

Familial Incense: Lingua Franca by MikMoi

In Lingua Franca the idea of the universal is the starting point. The idea of the universal begins by starting with one of the most basic elements one can encounter in life and in doing so flips that element into focus. The beginning of Lingua Franca is fruit, fruit is universal in cultures, it is an everyday pleasure. Culturally it can have romantic, erotic, and sensual connotations but it is most often related to pleasure. Some of the greatest comparisons of beauty in the world have used fruit as the ultimate symbol of beauty. Fruit is the symbol of knowledge and longevity, if you want a commonality in cultures look for the sweetness of fruit. Lingua Franca is a scent which starts with one of life's sweet pleasures.

The fruit used in Lingua Franca is citrus, bright heady citrus, with hints of dried stone fruits, and the heady intense sweetness of papaya and pineapple. What I love the most though is the lemongrass note used to support the citrus. Lemongrass is one of the great unloved notes in perfumery so when it is given a feature role I am excited. The spicy clean quality it has brings such a brightness to scents and accents the sweetness of the fruit featured.

Eventually though the fruit of Lingua Franca recedes and what enters is a scent that I have spent a year trying to describe because it is so utterly personal in its familiarity to me. At best I can describe it as the scent of the hearth altars kept in homes around the world. It makes me think of the incense burnt in my Aunt's home that wafted through the rooms and eventually blended with the scent of home. The scent of home being woods and fruits with incense. This evocation is what catches me the most off guard. It is an incense that suggests the familial it is not high minded strict religion but rather the suggestion of everyday rituals that one does almost unthinkingly because you have done them so long and provides you with a sense of completeness in your day. It is an incredibly intimate and home life related incense.

There is a cool and hot quality to Lingua Franca's incense that has taken me awhile to grasp. It has a cool sweetness in it that works to balance the resinous and woody scent of palo santo. It ultimately reminds my of father's wood shop when he would freshly lathe whatever project he was working on. It reminds me of the effect of wood heated at fast speed but never becoming warmed enough to burn.

In the end I suspect Lingua Franca is a scent that will speak differently to each wearer but somehow it will speak of intensely of something familiar. It is a scent incredibly evocative of home and memory. I'm not quite sure I got what Mik intended, I cannot say I have ever quite encountered a perfume that was able to evoke so many elements of life as Lingua Franca has.

On a final note in no way is this a heavy scent, there is plenty of longevity, but as always Mik is able to play with heavy elements and make them practically ethereal in how they play on the skin.

Try Lingua Franca if you like Serge Luten's L'Orpheline or Guerlain's L'Heure Bleu. In no way does it smell like these perfumes but it has the same power to evoke.

The perfume sample of Lingua Franca was provided generously by Mik of MikMoi.

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third image Emil Nolda

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Office Friendly Spiced Rose: Marni by Marni

I have a feeling Marni by Marni did not do well in the US market which is a shame because it is quite good. Flankers of it keep coming out so I can assume it probably did well in the European market and somewhere else but here in the US not so much.

Marni is a scent that plays with heavy elements but it is done with a light touch, a light enough touch that it is easily office friendly. It is a spicy little rose with hints of incense and musk. It owes its pedigree of scent to niche, it comes from the line of uber-woods such as 10 Corso Como, Costes, or Commes des Garcons before the trend to sweeten woods really took over. The spicy use of cardamom and pepper is delightful, it has that fresh spice quality that you rarely smell outside of niche, but there it is. All these elements sound like they should be heavy but they really aren't, which makes sense considering the perfumer is Daniela (Roche) Andrier, the perfumer of Prada's Infusion line.

The rose in this is lightly used, it serves as a nice introduction to rose scents that do not veer into garden fresh territory, rose jam, or vintage inspired. Marni is all about spices, rose, and woods. This is an excellent example of a spicy fresh scent, it works perfectly well in the heat, and provides that sort of cooling effect that reminds me of dark cool wooded chambers that smell of long ago incense.

My one complaint about Marni is that the longevity leaves something to be desired.

Try if you like Jo Malone's Tudor Rose & Amber, 10 Corso Como, or Fresh's Cannabis Santal.

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Monday, October 12, 2015

Disasters & Disappointments, An Unfortunate Series, Part 1

I recently tried five fragrances that I had high hopes for. I found that they divided themselves into two unique categories of let down 1) my skin swallowed them up or 2) my chemistry turned them nasty.

First up the disappointments:

1) Frida by En Voyage Perfumes
I so very much wanted to love this perfume, I even went to the launch party at Tigerlily Perfumery, and got to meet the lovely perfumer herself, Shelley Waddington. Sadly, my skin swallowed up most of Frida and did a few weird things to the notes. This is not a delusion on my part considering at the party I was able to smell lovely variations of it on others.

2) Elephant & Roses by Maria Candide Gentile
For a moment I get the animalic quality of this scent at the very beginning and then my skin utterly swallows it up. I poured half a sample vile of it on myself and an hour later could barely smell a trace of it. No roses for me, rather it turned itself into a barely there creamy white musk.

The disasters:

3) Narciso by Narciso Rodriguez
I was so excited to try this scent because I love his first variation on musk, but this scent turned into an awful screechy gardenia pencil shaving musk on me. So much wrong happened with this on my skin.

4) Tilda Swinton Like This by Etat Libre d'Orange
First I must say I love Tilda Swinton, so the idea of trying her perfume and wearing it is a very attractive prospect. I loved the idea of a spicy pumpkin perfume what I instead got was a horrid screachy jasmine mess that eventually showed it's immortelle heart, but good god that opening was awful on me, and it never fully went away. Will continue to love Tilda's films but her perfume is sadly meant for others.

5) Modern Muse Chic by Estee Lauder
Many had mentioned the vampy plum note in this, so I thought what the heck I'll give this perfume a try. What I instead got was cumin sweat modern chypre fruit musk. This was not skanky good on me, this is the travesty of when jasmine and whatever spice note they use in Modern Muse Chic combine. I respect that someone was able to get an animalic note on the Estee Lauder fragrance counter but it was awful on me, truly gross, thankfully my skin eventually swallowed it up.

And that wraps up my first column of recent Disappointments & Disasters. Had any recently yourself?

Image by Nayoung Wooh

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Pop Culture Fun: Donna Clark of Halt and Catch Fire

It's been awhile since I fell in love with a character and also thought that I could perfume them.  After watching the first season of Halt and Catch Fire, I firmly had a lot of love for Donna Clark by the end of the season and also felt that I could perfume her. Like Mad Men, Halt and Catch Fire is an excellent period piece, and that period is the 1980s. The attention to period really helped in the choosing of perfumes for Donna. So spoilers and pop culture fun ahead.

Donna Clark is intensely intelligent and thoughtful woman who finds herself frequently putting her needs and passions aside. That is how she first begins in the series, she is married to Gordon Clark, a fellow computer engineer. What you mainly get is that Donna is a harried wife which is compounded by the fact that this woman has a brilliant brain but unlike her husband, Gordon, is getting no recognition for it. They are both working jobs that are somewhat menial to their skill set, considering we find out that years before they had to tried to create and market their own home PC, but had failed. Still Gordon at least gets respect in his field, Donna on the other hand is a woman who frequently has to sublimate her creativity and passion with the role of caretaker and the glue that keeps her family going. Under all of this though is someone who is a romantic because as much as she wants to ignore it Donna still intensely wants to be driven and creative. I think at the beginning of the series Donna is probably wearing, the romantic Paris by Yves Saint Laurent, I think it is a scent gifted to her by her mother. I can see it is as a gift given with the hopes that Donna remember that she has passions and that they are worthy of consideration.

Paris by Yves Saint Laurent, is one of those great icon scents of the 1980s, romantic and powerful, it demands attention, but the attention is of a troubadour variety. If you can get older formulations you can smell a uniquely strong sandalwood and moss in all that powder, violets, and roses. It may be romantic and pretty but there is a rather steely intelligence beneath it all.  Donna's nature fits qualities of Paris up to the point when she hits on her boss, Hunt Whitmarsh, after spending months of dealing with being ignored by Gordon, his drunkenness, and erratic behavior. She is at the point of wanting very deeply to be seen for her intelligence and sensuality and Whitmarsh, a childhood friend, has been playing to those needs very expertly in his physical gestures and statements to her.

The moment her overtures are rejected by Whitmarsh, I think Donna probably would have thrown out Paris. In fact for the time after that I think she probably would have worn nothing especially as she contemplates the dissolution of her marriage. By the end of the series though I think Donna would have picked herself up something new. In fact I feel she would have gone out and done this for herself. She has been creatively revitalized by leaving Texas Instruments, she has been involved in a creative endeavor that used her intelligence and skill, and she has decided to do something daring with her career. We can even see a change in her style with the launch party of the home PC, an elegant cut black sheath dress, richer toned make-up, and the reddening of her hair. I think she is going for something completely new and that suggests she is a force to be reckoned with, her choice Paloma Picasso by Paloma Picasso.

Paloma Picasso is one of the big chypres of the eighties, yet it had elegance and refinement that does not put it on par with the other releases of that era. Oh it is big but the bigness is utter class and sophistication. The oakmoss is daring and forward but there is a tempering to it with the right animalics, when spritzed with a light hand the wearer is surrounded by sense of earthiness and splendor. This is not vulgar. Donna is a not vulgar but she is daring and Paloma Picasso fits that attitude and confidence.

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Saturday, October 10, 2015

Five Indie Vanillas Worth Your Attention

I like vanilla oh hell lets me honest I love a good vanilla perfume, which these days feels like a bit of a contentious statement, but I think that is because there is so many bad vanillas on the market. What are my vanilla credentials: I have a lot of vanilla perfumes, I've worn vanilla perfumes for a long time, and I'm willing to smell the high and the low end of the vanilla perfume market. The above image is what I always feel like a good vanilla can do for the wearer.

1. Vanilla Botanique by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Do you need a decadent baroque vanilla in your life? The kind of thing that says I am utterly worthy of adoration mortals. Then you need to get your hands on a sample of Vanille Botanique. Vanille Botanique is the closest I have ever come to a diva vanilla, it is just so rich and assured of itself. It is deeply balsamic and full, this is no candy vanilla. This recalls the rich oriental scents of bygone eras but with the modern love of vanilla the emphasis. Try if you like Shalimar by Guerlain or Cuir Beluga by Guarlain.

2. Black Flower Mexican Vanilla by Dame Perfumery
A genuinely sexy musk vanilla. Vanilla perfumes can sometimes be well utterly girlish and adolescent, this is not. Black Flower Mexican Vanilla is the lovely genesis of the theme of musk and vanilla found in Shalimar but applied with Dame's sensibilities. The scent just blends with the wearer beautifully, the vanilla is dark and woodsy and the musk is gently animalic and there is a splash of sweet cream and woods. It is the sort of scent that blends beautifully with the wearer but still projects. Try if you like Shalimar by Guerlain, Spiritueuse Double Vanille by Guerlain, or Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle.

3. Provanilla by Providence Perfume
A good genuine sweet vanilla that does not go into the banal and repetitive zone is very hard to find. Most scents that report to be "pure" vanilla scents usually have some sort of other sweet quality going on that is not in fact vanilla but is some sort of sweet that a user will think is vanilla unless they really analyze it. Provanilla is genuine sweet vanilla and I mean that as an utter compliment, this is a vanilla that is basically pure once the opening credits subside. Provanilla is about as close as that idea people always talk about finding in a vanilla perfume, the vanilla extract scent, but better because there is no alcohol note there is only perfect vanilla. I just have to say I love the opening of this scent, melon and then rose while it does quickly become pure vanilla on me, the opening could probably throw you for a loop. Try if you like Vanille Botanique by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz, Midnight Orchid by Susanne Lang, or Un Bois Vanille by Serge Lutens.

4. Vanilla Autumn by CJ's Scents
The thing about many gourmand leaning vanillas is they can become very stifling after awhile (I'm looking at you Comptoir Sud Pacifique and your many variations on vanilla) so if you are me, you tend to avoid them. Yet, in the right perfumer's hand they know how to make the gourmand quality not stifling. Vanilla Autumn by CJ's Scents, is the perfect dulce de leche vanilla to me. This creamy caramel vanilla is so perfectly done, you get the gourmand, but the stifling effect is reigned in by CJ. Somehow CJ is able to add an airiness to this vanilla that keeps it from the suffocation zone yet at the same time the creamy goodness is still very there. Try if you like Candy by Prada, Vanille Abricot by Comptoir Sud Pacifique, or Vanille Fleurie de Tahiti by La Maison de la Vanille

5. Vanilla Flash by Tauerville
Do you want a big hunky spicy vanilla? Then please look no further than Vanilla Flash. Vanilla Flash is flashing because it is a hot flame like vanilla, there is an intense spicy cinnamon running through it and rich tobacco throughout the composition. The finale is the Tauerade of a whole lot of ambregris and musk with hints of rose but it is still very much vanilla. Try if you like Tobacco Vanilla by Tom Ford, Tonka by Reminiscence, or Eau Duelle by Diptyque.

So the thing about all these vanillas is all of the wonderful perfumers offer them at a reasonable price and smaller quantities. They all have excellent longevity and frankly knock out their extremely high end competition and low end competition in my opinion. If you are a vanilla lover these in my opinion are currently the best vanillas on the market to try.

Image by Reuban Negron

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Black Tea Fougere: Eau de Gaga 001 by Lady Gaga

I wouldn't have picked up this perfume except for Victoria over at giving it an incredibly positive review and she was correct in her enthusiasm for the scent.

I could start this review with the usual discussion of how most celebrity fragrances leave much to be desired but honestly it is well covered territory and I'm not adding anything new to the discussion.

So lets get to the scent, for an absurdly low price, you can get what I am going to call a black tea fougere, well that is how Eau de Gaga reads on my skin, and lots of people get the tea note. Frankly, as so many reviewers point this scent smells far more classy and expensive than it should. The word that comes to my mind every time I smell Eau de Gaga is "dapper", this scent is dapper, it's tasteful, fun, and wonderfully androgynous. At times leaning more towards the masculine but then reigning it in enough that the feminine comes out. It is actually rather mercurial on me sometimes the black tea note is the most strong other times the violet steps forward but it always ends up smelling like ambergris leather musk on me. That may sound heavy but in no way is it.

What I find myself respecting the most about this scent is the musk. It's not a laundry detergent white musk, which feels practically unheard of these days at the mass market fragrance counter. It is a warm clean animalic musk that does not suggest I have recently been to the dry cleaner, it's not screechy, rather it is caressing, like skin still damp with water after a bath.

So who thought a bizarrely tasteful and thoughtful scent would come from Lady Gaga? I didn't, but I am wonderfully surprised.

Try if you like Jicky by Guerlain, Gris Clair by Serge Lutens, or Dorian by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab.

First image from
Second Image Jiwoon Pak

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Autumn Has Arrived!

Can I say just how happy I am that summer is done, well at least it is on the calendar. I have been excitedly looking at my collection and considering the perfumes I can't wait to wear in the cooler weather. I'll be the first to admit this collection is leaning on the sweet side but I have to say when I have to spend 80% of the year in citruses, florals, and other variations on clean it may mean I go crazy on the olfactory overload of rich Autumn scents.

1. Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens
I have become firmly enthralled by this rosy sandalwood syrup. Sweet and musky with a delicious dollop of sandalwood this scent will be scenting many of my days, I find it melds beautifully, and I love getting wafts of from my clothes. Obvious scarf scent.

2. Wood Violet by Sonoma Scent Studio
This lovely plummy rich violet scent has been calling me recently. I love the combination of roasted plums with violet.

3. Vanille Botanique by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Oh the moment I get to wear this sumptuous vanilla outside on a cool day with brisk Autumn wind it is going to be the best.

4. Lolita Lempicka by Lolita Lempicka
Yes, I still have the original bottle from when I was 15 and it still smells amazing. It continues to be the perfect mix of vanilla and anise of me with violets and touches of delicious toasty nutty tonka bean. I especially adore wearing this in October around Halloween.

5. Ambre Nue by Atelier Cologne
I really like this juicy chewy amber. The opening of tart delicious mandarins always catches me followed earthier peppier middle with marigold and orchid. I consider this the grown-up version of BBW's Sensual Amber. It is of that school of fruity smooth ambers that are so popular but thankfully it uses more interesting notes and pepper keeps it from being saccharine.

6. Tudor Rose and Amber by Jo Malone
I love this wine-y rose and amber combo. The opening of spices and rose evokes mulled wine the edition of amber and patchouli make it a bit thorn edged.

7. Elie Saab Le Parfum Eau de Parfum Intense by Elie Saab
The original Elie Saab is a favorite spring scent for me with its bright almost neon orange blossom notes. The Intense version is deliciously honeyed and with hints of dried apricots and a base of amber.

8. Nirvana Black by Elizabeth and James
A simple and easy mix of violet, sandalwood, and vanilla a perfect work day scent for me. Its soothing and makes me feel warm without being stiffled.

9. Narciso Rodriguez For Her L'Absolu by Narcisco Rodriguez
I don't usually care for the variations on the original Narciso Rodriguez scent and stick to the original edt. The scents that came after have never really worked on me, but L'Absolu is a different story. It is a powdered richer scent, the woods have been amped up creating incense-like quality in the scent. An ample plum has been added and the osmanthus and orange blossom have been replaced with a rich tuberose, this is without a doubt for me the Autumn/Winter variation on NR edt. At times I am a little bit reminded of Nicolai Parfumeur Createur's Sacrebleu, another Autumn fruit tuberose scent on a bed of woods which has at times reminded others of the ultimate name in intense fruity tuberoses, Poison by Dior. Yet, L'Absolu is not baroque like the previous mentioned scents, it is clearly modern but does have familial to those scents. On the other hand most definitely do not wear this in hot weather.

10. Fifi Chachnil edt and edp by Fifi Chachnil
I am lucky to have in my hands two decently large decants of this perfect femme tobacco scent. This for me is one of the great losses of the perfume world in its discontinuation. From the awesome use of coriander in the opening to the entwining of pink rose, tonka, and delicious tobacco it was a pretty genius blend that got the tobacco note trend before anyone else did.

"Amelia" by Erica Rose Levine

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Infusion de The: Eau Parfumee au The Bleu by Bvlgari

I love oolong tea. It is one of my favorite varieties of tea and it can smell like so many things from roasted chestnuts to a lilac, it has a lot of variation. So when Bvlgari announced they were adding Eau Parfumee au The Bleu to their tea lineup of scents and that it was inspired by the scent of oolong I was excited and apprehensive because oolong is a tea that can be so varied. In my imagination I hoped they might approach the beautiful variety of oolong known as Ti Kwan Yin. I then looked at the list of notes and my apprehension of what this perfume would smell like went up considerably: shiso, lavender, iris. These are not notes you find in oolongs, oolongs are not particularily herbal, but rather more often play with florals, stone fruits, and nutty malty notes.

So I finally got to try Eau Parfumee au The Bleu and I had two thoughts 1) this is not an oolong scent and 2) this is quite nice. I think I need to address the first thought which is that  Eau Parfumee au The Bleu is not the scent of oolong, in fact I would say it is more akin to a really good quality earl grey tea with lavender. Yet, here is my number one beef with tea scents they invariably say that they are the scent of "green tea" when in fact most are the scent of black tea and more akin to the lovely and aromatic Darjeeling tea. Go smell a qood quality green tea with no flavors added and what you have is most often a very green vegetal scent maybe some roastiness but not a scent akin to what we call the scent of "tea" in perfume. Bizarrely what happens when a black tea is referenced in a perfume what they actually mean is the scent of smoky lapsang souchong, a Chinese black tea, that is literally smoked.

Now on to my second thought, this scent is quite nice. Eau Parfumee au The Bleu is really quite lovely, this is a scent that no one is going to complain but it also smells interesting. The Bleu starts with an earthy fresh opening of shiso, a scent akin to mint if it were also combined with the mildest hint of patchouli, it's fresh but thankfully does not scream musk. Entering quickly is the powdery herbaceous scent of lavender which is then joined by the earthy fresh citrus note of "tea." At this point you have the combined harmony of shiso, lavender, and tea which creates an aura like a cool misty morning on the wearer. Entering next is the violet, which ups the earthiness and cooling effect that the shiso and lavender have been providing, and adds a hint of sweetness. It should be noted at this point the tea leaves the scent. What then enters next is the iris, an iris that will quite recognizably to a few, the iris you find in Prada's Infusion d'Iris. This iris note makes even more sense when you realize that both The Bleu and Infusion d'Iris share the same creator Daniela Andrier.

The thing about The Bleu's iris is it is a more intense and ample iris, the earthiness of the shiso and violet making it far stronger than Infusion d'Iris. In fact it may be an excellent perfume for lovers of Infusion d'Iris who do not like the current reformulation or have often wanted a more intense iris note. Eau Parfumee au The Bleu  is an easy fresh powdery scent that uses shiso and lavender to elevate the a cooling effect of iris that then lets the wearer move around in serenity, it is no oolong, but it is without a doubt a well made scent.

Try  Eau Parfumee au The Bleu if you like Serge Luten's Gris Clair, Prada's Infusion d'Iris, or Atelier Cologne's Oolong Infini. 

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Second Image Flotsam by Lisa Sorgini

Monday, September 14, 2015

Buy Yourself Sex Appeal: Tobacco Rose by Papillon Artisan Perfumes

This scent makes me feel a bit narcissistic in the most ridiculous way possible. Simply put if I met a guy who smelled like me when I am wearing Tobacco Rose by Papillon Artisan Perfumes I would probably fall hard. Or maybe Tobacco Rose is my sexy dude alter-self.

Simply put: Tobacco Rose is seductive. It's sensuous because it is the perfect mix of ambergris, rose, and tobacco and on my skin it is delicious mix amplified by musk that has been spiced with an incredibly light dry cinnamon. The tobacco and rose play so well together each smoothing the other out and amplifying the sensual appeal those notes have. Top it off with the hazy warm skin goodness that only ambergris can bring to a scent and you have in my opinion bottled sex appeal.

You just want to bury your nose in this scent. It would be the perfect scent to catch waft of from the scarf of your long gone paramour that then sends you into an afternoon of romantic reminiscence about the impossibility of your relationship. But lets be frank these reminiscence would be mainly on the carnal side because that old flame was an excellent seducer.

Tobacco Rose is also a bit of a perfumer engineering feat for me because Perfumer Liz Moores has taken a rather dreaded note for me, oakmoss, and made it sexy and velvety on me. The woman has skill. 

Finally this scent must be tested on the skin to truly smell the notes and layers, it just does not show all its elements on a testing strip. And finally to the men wearing this, you have chosen well, you could probably seduce a lamppost while wearing this. 

Try Tobacco Rose if you like Andy Tauer's PHI Une Rose de Kandahar, Gucci"s L'Arte di Gucci, or Sonoma Scent Studio's Rose Musc.

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Thank You Berry Much: Valentina Pink by Valentino

It was bound to happen someone finally realized the money to be made in bottling the scent of LUSH's Rose Jam and I mean the actual scent of the bath fizzy or body wash*. Valentina Pink takes the scent of LUSH's Rose Jam smooths it out in places and refines it a bit. I should start now by saying I am a rather unabashed lover of Rose Jam that uber girly mix of roses, berries, and jammy goodness. Oh it is sweet and probably most of all appeals to the 14 year old girl in me and you know what that is okay, the 14 year old girl needs an outlet.

Valentina Pink starts of uber-berries, think currents and strawberries crushed in sugar, actually lets say they are macerating. Added to this mix is splash of bright pink rose syrup, think of the syrup used to make falooda. For awhile you have this over the top girlish concoction.

As the perfume changes the berries tone down a bit. The sugar recedes and the berries take on a musky undertone and the rose becomes much more prominent. There is the slightest hint of lemony tart that keeps the scent from strangling the wearer.

Eventually you have a nice easy jammy rose of scent on a very easy going musk. Yes, this a very expensive dupe of LUSH's Rose Jam but on the other hand if you found yourself disappointed by LUSH's perfume version of the scent this will definitely fill that gap.

Try Valentina Pink if you Montale's Fruits of the Musk, Julietta Has A Gun Miss Charming, and of course LUSH's Rose Jam.

*The perfume version that LUSH put of Rose Jam was a bit of a let down, the beginning very much like the scent of Rose Jam but the dry down was very similar to Pink Sugar, the rose and berries having disappeared.

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

What I Actually Wore This Summer

The funny thing about those pesky summer lists is I am never quite sure that is really will be reaching for, so I thought I would take a look back at what I have actually been wearing this summer.

1. Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens
I acquired this in July and found myself wearing it repeatedly. A reminder that in the heat, a good sandalwood can bring you delight. Love this confection of rose and sandalwood with hints of immortelle syrup and musk. Mainly though it is a creamy delight of rose and sandalwood.

2. Elle L'Aime by Lolita Lempicka
This choice actually proved true in my summer wearing. Such an easy scent and worked great in brutal heat.

3. Ao by MikMoi
Yet, another scent I actually wore from my original summer choices for the season. It really did prove to be "serenity now" on hectic days and had a wonderfully cooling effect in the heat.

4. Lolita Lempicka L'eau en Blanc by Lolita Lempicka
Proving a gourmand can be worn in the heat and not be suffocating. This scent worked beautifully the musk and iris keeping the gourmand elements in check and providing a cool powdery effect.

5. Blush by Marc Jacobs
A cool and fresh floral in the summer heat. Gave off the quality of flowers at the florist in the fridge.

6. Eau de Minimes Cologne by Le Couvent de Minimes
Another one from the list. This was frequently applied after work and before classes. Spritzed with abandon.

7. Rose Flash by Tauerville
I thought it would be too sweet but this beauty bloomed in heat and was grounded by earthy notes of musk and tobacco.

8. Osmanthus Interdite by Parfum D'Empire
Another repeat from the list but then again with all the humid days we had it really proved itself as usual.

9. Un Jardin Apres la Mousson by Hermes
This strange spicy juicy watermelon scent is wonderfully invigorating in the heat.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Fig Season: A History of Fig in My Wardrobe

The two major perfumes of my high school years that would have a major impact on my fragrance choice's are the original Lolita Lempicka and Demeter's Fig Leaf. Oh there are few others that I remember fondly but those are the two scents that really have influenced my taste and frankly seemed to hint at my adult tastes.

 I still have my original bottle of Lolita Lempicka and come Autumn spritz it happily although these days it becomes an almost a nostalgic practice as I watch the bottle get lower and lower.

As for Demeter's Fig Leaf well I have then had a very long affair with the fig note. As a teenager it made me feel different and unique because no other girl or adult woman wore perfumes that smelled like fig, I would still say that scent of fig has kept its bohemian roots even though it can be found more easily in perfume and home scents these days it is still a note that remains unique.

As a teenager I used up my bottle quickly of Demeter's Fig Leaf, which is easy considering it has no longevity.

I then followed that perfume with Fresh's aqueous Apricot Fig scent, a rather green and 90s hinting fig scent with the use of Calone. I wasn't completely in love with it but still it filled my fig needs.

This was followed by my first indie/niche fig scent and one that I will admit I thought utterly sexy but now admit it is kind of garish, Dream by Fresh Scents by Terri, which really is more like the scent of a fig newton. Which is not a bad scent if you smell them but could easily become overbearing.

At this point I was in my early twenties and having my first major relationship and being the perfume lover of course I was going to get him a perfume to wear. The scent was Marc Jacobs for men, one hell of a delicious creamy spicy fig scent for men, don't know how it is now, but in the early 2000s it was divine. I still think of that purchase fondly considering all the men's scents I sniffed at the time and then smelling that one.

At this point I had a decant of  L'Artisan's Premier Figuier and found it far too green on myself and running into my first of many times where galbanum took over. Call it an arch-nemesis sort of relationship, I eventually swapped the decant. I was then gifted by my boyfriend of then with Victoria Secret's Mood: Ripe, a rather fun vanilla citrus fig scent, nothing innovative but it was fig that I could wear and enjoy, unfortunately the damn thing came with a bulb atomizer and quickly evaporated from the bottle.

This was then followed by Body Time's uber green Green Fig oil which frankly suffered the galbanum problem, I eventually used it up as a bedding spray.

In all of this I had quite a few fig scented candles.

For awhile after this I was using a decant of Miller Harris's Figue Amere, a delightfully bitter woody amaro fig scent. That evokes the Mediterranean coast.

After this came the long slump of not a whole lot of fig. I think I had been rather burned by all the galbanum forward fig perfumes. I eventually though ended up with a bizarrely large batch of samples of Diptyque's Philosykos. That creamy delicious black fig scent. As far as the two classic pillar scents of figs go you know which one is for me. Grand irony these scents were both created by Olivia Giacobetti.

And recently I have been on the fig hunt again. Which began with the acquirement of Olivina's Hand and Body Wash in Fig and their Body Cream in Fig, which is a rather loverly fig scent that clearly takes its heritage from Philosykos. That was followed by South of France's Mediterranean Fig bar soap, a yummy tart take on fig.  I tried Pacifica's Mediterranean Fig which was far too green and harsh on me (although, I have found many of their older perfumes have become this way due to reformulation). I then had high hopes for Atelier Cologne's Figuier Ardent and found it not to work, it was too similar to Marc Jacobs for Men and uses cumin-y cedar base that while works great on others ends up smelling sweaty on me. I then purchased a regret, I Profumi di Firenze Vaniglia e Fichi, an excellent fig opening but then a pure lemon butter cake dry down on me that is far too sweet.  I finally took my cues from another another fig lover Victoria from and because it was on uber-sale bought a roll-on of Lucy B's Royal Green Fig and Vanilla Wood perfume oil. Oh, this is a green one but thankfully enough smooth vanilla and coconut to keep it in check. Not in the least bit layered but that is okay because this is probably the best fig you can get on the market that won't cost you an arm and a leg.

If you really want to celibrate fig I recommend you make yourself a fig shake.

Fig Shake Recipe:
4-5 figs
milk, at least 1/2 a cup depends on thick you like your shakes.
a splash of vanilla if you like
maybe a date if you have any around.
-Put it all in a blender and blend and get ready for a divine summer drink.

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