Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dioressence : Dior : Guy Robert

Dioressence (original tag line: le parfum "barbare") is a wise child, and an odd one. Since I'm an ex-academic and a copyeditor, I could go on about the quotation marks around "barbare" and how they attenuate the word so it merges with the Orientalist fantasy of the image, blar de blar. Anywho, some people just smell boring old french soap, so the point is moot.

However, if you get the same oddball beauty that I do--one that veers from animal stink to Miss Havisham's dusty velvet drapes to fancy knickers to makeup powder laced with violets and cinnamon--you'll love it just as much as I. This complexity probably depends a lot on what formulation you're smelling. I'm not sure how old my bottle is that I've got, but it smells plenty odd to me, which is a good thing! It's not one of the old Dior bottles with the strip of blue along the bottom. Mine is an all-clear-glass spray bottle with a clear cap and the perfume's name printed in white in the middle of the bottle.

Dioressence is a wise child: insouciant, knowing, inconstant, self-assured.

Image originally uploaded by Perfume Shrine.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Some fall favorites


Chanel Cuir de Russie
A loving embrace and a glimpse of the privileged life. Notes: iris, Birkin bag, expensive lipstick, trust funds.

Lanvin Scandal
A surprising rush of endorphins, hitting like the snap of a whip, brought on by a kiss from a great-smelling, cashmere-sweatered stranger. Notes: floral bouquet, leather whip.

Luscious iris...

Chanel No. 19
Too perfect to be loveable, too haughty to be anything but invincible. Notes: galbanum, iris, vetiver, leather.

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist
Magical thinking will get you here. Carrots and beanstalks pulled out of the ground turn into fantasy delicacies. Notes: carroty iris, icy iris, bready iris.

Rich green florals...

Malle Editions Une Fleur de Cassie
Lazing in a string hammock smelling the mud, the sea, and the acacia during a monsoon. Notes: acacia, mimosa, jasmine, sandalwood.

Ormonde Jayne Woman
Like handling malachite worry beads: almost too smooth to get a grasp on, but comforting. Or, a cool, spiced, dark green, shadowed forest. Notes: cardamom, coriander, black hemlock, jasmine, woods.

Pure creature comforts...

Guerlain L'Heure Bleue
All the colors of dusk, from dark violet to peacock to midnight blue. Notes: anise, bergamot, Guerlain's magic ochres and Prussian blues.

Jean Deprez Bal à Versailles
Necco candies and sex. Notes: Rose, jasmine, civet, musk.

Shiseido Féminité du Bois
Pulling full-test pure cedarbark pancake syrup in Hansel and Gretel's violet-strewn forest. Notes: cedarwood, violets, undergrowth.

Fendi Theorema
The most delicious mandarin sandalwood cream liqueur in the entire world. Notes: mandarin orange, osmanthus, wood.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Manor Library

I just had to share a discovery. After reading carmencanada's fabulous review of No. 5 Eau Première in grain de musc, I thought why not sully the perfection that is Chanel No. 5 parfum with some tinkering myself? You know what I found out is the perfect combo to dirty it up a bit? L'Artisan Parfumeur's Dzing! Together, you get fabulous old library, like the pictured Magdalen College's Old Library in Oxford. Or perhaps a library in an English manor mouse that was renovated out of the old stables or mews, with mouldering leather Chesterfield sofas and crumbling 18th-century volumes piled on oak bookcases. Adding No. 5 adds aristocratic elegance, of course. Dzing! on it's own is purely a fantastic circus midway.

Photo courtesy of Magdalen College.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Choices, Choices, and Lists

So you'd never know, unless you read the subtitle of my blog up there, that I intended this to encompass more than my perfume geekery. But after a brutally hot and dry Texas summer I've got a front yard garden that's gasping for water, a shamefully abandoned community garden plot with 7-ft tomato plants that never produced more than a handful of pear tomatoes (but quite a lot of purple Thai basil, at least), crumpled chainlink fences to get rid of, a half-painted back door, and a still-empty spot where I plan my screened porch. Geez, no wonder I prefer researching luxurious vintage perfumes, when I see all that listed out.

Count this as a moment of homeowner panic at encroaching reality. It's starting to cool off enough to thing about all the stuff I need to do. Gah! If I keep buying perfume I'm never going to be able to afford my long-dreamed-of screened porch! So in the hope that by creating lists I can expiate some of my consumerist desires:

Here's my desperately-want-a-full-bottle-but-I'd-be-just-plain-stupid-to-spend-the-money list:

Dzing, L'Artisan Parfumeur
Une Fleur de Cassie, Malle Editions
Bois des Iles, Chanel
Iris Silver Mist, Lutens (+ trip to Paris, of course)
Jasmin Vert, Miller Harris
new Mitsouko edt, Guerlain

And because what's better than a list? Two lists! Here's my want-a-big-sample list:

Iris de Nuit, Heeley; Escale a Portofino, Dior; Love in Black, Creed; Monsieur de Givenchy; Eau de Guerlain; Jasmin et Cigarette, L'Etat de Libre; S-ex, S-Perfumes; Bluebell, Penhaligon's; Vetiver Pour Elle, Guerlain; Wild Hunt, CB I Hate Perfume; Acqua di Parma Profumo; Jasmin Noir, Bvlgari; Beige, Chanel; No. 23, Red Tara, and Madame X, Ava Luxe; Dan Tes Bras, Malle Editions; Jitterbug, Opus Oils; and probably a billion more I'm not remembering at the moment.

Help me choose! If I can get just two of my need-a-full-bottle list, which should I get?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Une Fleur de Cassie : Frederic Malle : Dominique Ropion

There are two perfumes I've been sampling off and on for months: Ormonde Jayne Woman and Une Fleur de Cassie. I associate them not because they smell alike, but because they are all highly respected, complex floral blends in a modern style, and because when I'm on a vintage perfume tear, as I had been all summer, it's hard to appreciate them. But grand perfumery they are, and they deserve some love! I'm focusing on Une Fleur de Cassie today.

So after a rough day at work, I pulled my little toiletry tray that I use to organize samples out of the perfume cabinet which is in my bedroom. (By the way, I measure how bad the perfume bug has hold of me by how many shelves I fill with perfume rather than folded pants and blankets.) I sat down on the bed and browsed for a sample to try this evening. When I finally decided on and dabbed some Une Fleur de Cassie on my wrist, I fell over onto the bed in full swoon.

This is the perfect perfume to loll about it after a rough day: langourous, rich, muddy, smoky, juicy and strange. It is a bit similar to the Fangorn Forest quality (in which the trees come alive to threaten unwelcome intruders) that I get in Ormonde Jayne Woman, but UFdC is more sinister and more stately. They are both subtle forces of nature, though. They aren't rough or scratchy. They turn the teeming undergrowth into a balconied opera house.

There's definately what Annie Dillard calls fecundity in them:
"The driving force behind all this fecundity is a terrible pressure. I also must consider, the pressure of birth and growth, the pressure that splits the bark of trees and shoots out seeds, that squeezes out the egg and bursts the pupa, that hungers and lusts and drives the creature relentlessly towards its own death." (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, 163)

Oh, you want an actual description? Well, I get chalky violet (some smell a wet paper note here) which turns into an indolic jasmine and cassie, all anchored with cinnamon-flavored dirt. It doesn't last all day, unfortunately, but the tenacity isn't bad (3-4 hrs). It's sublime, and I may need a full bottle of this even before the rounded, shadowed, spiced evergreen of Ormonde Jayne Woman.

Bois de Jasmin's review of Une Fleur de Cassie is really helpful, and lists the notes as: bergamot, rose, violet, aldehydes, cassie, mimosa, jasmine, clove, cedarwood, sandalwood, musk.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cuir (new) : Lancome : Calice Becker and Pauline Zanoni

Refreshingly, for once I am not talking about how much better a vintage formulation is, and for a very simple reason: I've never smelled the original Révolte (later renamed Cuir) created in 1936.

The top and heart notes of the new Cuir de Lancome have an odd, sharp, medicinal saffron and mandarine, which combined together strike me as almost camphorous--or is that the patchouli, perhaps? However, just underneath, and more apparent as my nose gets acclimated to the odd top notes, is a creamy ylang and hawthorne combination. The fragrance is well-balanced between those two poles.

I agree with Angela's review on Now Smell This in that Cuir is not at all as rough as Knize Ten, and has more in common with Cuir Ottoman or Daim Blond. However, Cuir is different in its subtlety and in the balance of bitter and floral. The medicinal quality cuts the gooeyness that I dislike in both Cuir Ottoman and Daim Blond. The drydown is sweeter as the saffron fades and the patchouli and a warm (but still comparatively dry) balsamic quality advance in its place. In the far drydown I can detect a tinge of my beloved iris if I spray it at least three times and snorfle (the technical term) my nose right up to my wrist.

I'm trying to place the type of leather this is. It's not the inside of an expensive bag, and it's not a saddle, that's for sure. It's not glove-leather or a suede car coat. Before I can place it, the bottom kinda drops out of the thing, so hm. But although it's a bit ephemeral, and even though it has nothing in common with Chanel's Cuir de Russie or Lanvin's vintage Scandal, my two favorite leathers, I think this will grow on me as a more wearable daytime leather.

Notes: bergamot, mandarin, saffron, jasmine, ylang-ylang, hawthorn, patchouli, orris, birch, and styrax.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall Perfume Fantasy: YSL Rive Gauche

OK, so there's the slightest hint of cooler (meaning 80s instead of 100) weather this week, so I'll post a quick fall fantasy inspired by one of my vintage perfume bottles.

Yves Saint Laurent's Rive Gauche in vintage parfum fits this imaginary purple prose scene from Jules et Jim perfectly:

In a Parisian cafe near midnight, Catherine, a brunette woman in a pullover and slightly disheveled trench coat, is talking animatedly with Jules and Jim at a cushioned Art Deco booth. Outside, the streetlights shine on frosted cobblestone streets and the air has the dry, metallic feel of snow, but the cafe is warmed by the fire, bringing out the scents of woolens, woodwork, and the zinc bar. The roses that one of the men has given her lay on the booth. She ignores them as easily as she overlooks the obvious rivalry of the two men over her attention, giving them both only capricious, lighthearted banter instead of any explanations.

Hee, hee. Have you read any of those crazy scenes Lancome's marketing department writes up for their La Collection perfumes? They oughta hire me to write some more of those. What a great job that would be!

For a more thorough review of this masterpiece, read this one at the always fascinating Bois de Jasmin.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Le Temps d'Une Fête : Parfums de Nicolai

This is just a quickie review of a perfume I'm sampling today, although I'm worried I won't do it justice! Le Temps d'Une Fête is an unusual floral green chypre. It starts out very juicy, but tart and sparkling--no sweet tooty-frooty. There's a bitter edge to the juiciness that holds my attention. After just a few minutes there's a hint of the fleshy white floral heart, which gets closer and closer, and just when you think it's going to turn into a full-blown, over-ripe, skanky narcissus, that bitter edge balances it again, and it turns radiantly green. There's definately my beloved galbanum in there, but it's more like dandelion sap than green pepper. I'm probably detecting a really amazing melding of galbanum with the resins and woods.

Luckyscent says the notes are: galbanum, mastic, opoponax, narcissus, hyacinth, daffodil, styrax, oakmoss, sandalwood.

The fruitiness could be in my imagination, I suppose. There is no fruit in the notes. However, my nose is so attuned to bitter green vintage scents that perhaps it's affecting my perception on modern perfumes, with their very different aromachemicals. Or perhaps I'm just super-sensitive to the heavily overripe quality of hyacinth, and it reads as fruity to me. As this lovely perfume dries down, I'm finally getting some oakmoss and--oh! some warm, delicious sandalwood just popped in! It's continuing into a whole new stage of yumminess, even though it is a bit shy on the oakmoss and sandalwood drydown for my taste. This is definately a modern style of perfume, with lots of airiness rather than the density I'm used to. But it is also a really interesting perfume, and the dandelion sap quality is my favorite part. It reminds me of making dandelion chains when I was a kid, splitting the stems in half and smelling that sticky, white sap inside, then knotting the slippery stems together. Did you ever do that? Incredible stuff!