Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays and see you next year!

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone! I plan on seeing my mom and step-dad, going to some parties, hanging out at a cabin in the woods, and relaxing away from the computer as much as possible. I hope you all have joyful and fun holiday plans, too!

I think my holiday perfumes will probably include a lot of my new crush, vintage Beloved by Prince Matchabelli. I also really want to wear Comme des Garcons Avignon out in the woods. And since I won't be going to work for a whole week, I'll probably wear a lot of skanky wonders, like Muscs Koublai Khan. I'll also be enjoying my new set of travel sprays I finally got in the mail from Ormonde Jayne--I finally broke down and bought Champaca at their Thanksgiving sale. Basmati rice is just as comforting a scent as any old vanilla! OOOhh, and I will be testing a lovely set of Amouage perfumes that I got from a way generous swapper (thanks, Sherri!) during the Perfume Posse swaparama over Thanksgiving.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Fifi Chachnil, Or, A Flirty Angora Sweater Scent Is All the Tobacco Manliness I'll Ever Need

I've finally gotten around to testing Fifi Chachil's eponymous fragrance, and I've realized that all my searching for the perfect tobacco scent was an eyes-too-big-for-my-stomache situation. I kept trying tobacco scents and never found the right one. Tabac Aurea is lovely but too sweet, La Via del Profumo's Tabac is too butch, Hilde Soliani's Bel'Antonio is too brooding ... you get the picture. An all-out tobacco scent is something I really *thought* I should like, because I love the smell of a pipe-tobacco store that I used to visit in Harvard Square. I didn't really want a tobacco scent, though. I wanted the tobacco backdrop setting the stage. This is why I love Habanita, and that's -- O-KAY.

Fifi Chachnil edp is straight-up pin-up girl in the top notes, but the coriander keeps it from straying toward the gooey, and its green-spicey tartness bridges the tobacco with the rest of the girlie notes. It doesn't rely on the amber except to create a slight angora-sweater fuzz around that tobacco. The only thing that is a tiny bit disappointing is that in the far drydown, I get mostly amber, not the lovely melding of amber and tobacco that I smell earlier in the scent's development. I love the juxtaposition of tobacco and rosy floral, and I think I can put my tobacco hunt down for good.

Some other reviews of Fifi Chachnil are at Perfume Smellin' Things and Legerdenez.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Obvious perfume observation of the day (OPOD)

My obvious perfume observation of the day: many body lotion formulations of amazing perfumes just don't work at all. I'm curious about which you all feel do and do not work, if you have experience with such weighty and significant matters!

Body lotions that seem to work: florals or chypres without dissonant or aldehydic topnotes, like Joy de Patou, or Le Dix by Balenciaga. Both of these have wonderful body lotions. My Miss Dior body lotion is gooooorrgeous.

Body lotions that don't work: aldehydes or salicylates seem to be particularly difficult to pull off in body lotion form. This is just a guess on the actual cause of the problem, but both YSL's Rive Gauche and Lancome's Magie Noire body lotions were nasty and urinous on me. It could be just a problem with the quality of the ingredients, though. Chanel #5 in the body oil is just...weird, and not at all like the perfume. It doesn't smell bad, exactly, just...oddly loud and herbal. Some fruits can be a problem too, as revealed in my much-longed-for Philosykos body lotion, which smells distinctly like cat pee for a few minutes after my shower. Ew.

I remember the discussion of formulation problems for the different versions of Sarah Jessica Parker's Lovely in A Perfect Scent, and I am guessing that lotion formulations are prone to disaster. Does anyone else have this problem? What body lotions do and don't work for you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

YSL Rive Gauche and cool weather

Hi all! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. I feel a somewhat recharged after being as lazy as possible for the last three days. After a flurry of activity to get the dear bf into his new house, and get said house prepped for my having my mom and stepdad over for Thanksgiving dinner, we spent the large portion of the last three days lazily bonding with the new place. What is it about being in a bright little house and having light surround me from windows on all sides that just makes me so happy? It was really a great break.

So CyberMonday, here I am at work, glorying in the rediscovery of Rive Gauche eau de toilette during the cool weather today. I have a bottle of the eau de toilette (even the recent eau de toilette is amazing, though not quite as naughty as the vintage parfum) that has been languishing sulkily in the back of my perfume cabinet. I finally pulled it out today. It's so sad to me that this stunning fragrance just does. not. work. for me in the Texas heat 90% of the year. But hooray, today it does! In cool weather, those famous shimmery-cold aldehydes part to reveal something velvety in the basenotes. The velvet is unfortunately buried by the metallic topnotes in warmer weather. But now that I've read Dane's wonderful review in Pere de Pierre, I'm convinced: it's a yeasty chypre! And y'all know how much I'm into yeasty and bready right now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

SOTD: Dioressence + Philosykos body lotion

Dioressence (I have an older edt bottle like the one pictured, but it's not exactly vintage) layered over Philosykos is an unexpectedly soft, awesome combo for a Monday morning.

I am fascinated by Dioressence; my bottle must still contain a smidgen of that vintage glory so vividly described by the extraordinarily talented Angela at Now Smell This. It does have an... um... unUSual undertone more than likely caused by cinnamon and patchouli. You spray it and it conjures a magical carpet made of pillows, but then a few moment laters, you start to wonder what, exactly, that funk IS that you're lounging in. Pillows made of roadkill, maybe? Yikes.

Philosykos body lotion likewise has a bit of a challenging opening--there's a distinctly urinous quality to it when you first smear it on, but that goes away in a few minutes, and I like it very much otherwise. I bought the lotion online, hoping it would be a perfect complement to my solid version of the perfume without splashing out on an entire edt bottle. I can definitely say the formulation is a high-quality, emollient, ungreasy lotion that feels wonderful. The scent, after the unfortunate first few minutes, is lovely--a slightly woody and creamy whisper. Sadly, it doesn't satisfy my need right now for more! more! Philosykos. Sigh. The solid, the lotion, AND the edt may be in my future.

Anyway, you'd think that putting these two challenging scents together would be a recipe for disaster, but the creaminess of the Philosykos tames the Dioressence a smidgen, without ruining the luxurious distraction from Monday morning that it provides.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Does this perfume exist? I've been searching...

I have a holy grail perfume in my head that I don't think has been created yet. It's what I'd call a baked-bread chypre.

I've been collecting perfumes for a few years now, and have yet to come across it. Vintage Guerlains such as Mitsouko and L'Heure Bleue have a yeasty quality on the right day, but I have something a bit more buoyant in mind. The new Mitsouko edt is like catching a whiff of baked bread and jasmine incense wafting down the street, which I really like, although it's a bit unsatisfyingly linear. Chanel's Bois des Iles is an incredible gingerbread sandalwood in an explosion of aldehydes. And of course there's Bois Farine, but that's more of an limp, unbaked, wet flour smell, which to me makes it completely unappealing. Some iris materials have a powdery, bready quality, but usually they have a sweetness to them that are more patisserie than boulangerie. Mitti attar, which is an attar made of baked earth from India, has an earthy and dry dark bread (rye bread? pumpernickle?) scent, and of course real Santalum album, or East Indian sandalwood, can have a chewy, balsamic, bready facet to it.

I've always loved the smell of beer and yeast, too. I remember childhood drives to Milwaukee, and getting that hit of yeast from the brewery as you entered town. That was a magical moment when I was young, since I was more used to the godawful rotting eggs smell of sulfur that permeated paper-mill towns in central Wisconsin. Yeastiness is a human smell, too. Muscs Koublai Khan has it; it smells like eating warm monkeybread naked under the blankets, after doing (ahem) other things. The dear boyfriend has a clean, yeasty smell that I love, too.

So because of all these lovely associations with bread, I have this totally imaginary baked-bread chypre perfume all composed in my head: it has the smell of bergamot in the top notes, a heart of baked bread, smoky narcissus, iris, and animalic ylang ylang, and a base of dry sandalwood, civet, oakmoss, benzoin, and styrax. Because it's my imaginary holy grail and only exists in a world where I'm Queen of the Fucking Universe, the perfume's basenotes must dry down to an old leatherbound books and baked bread accord.

I don't know how an accord of fresh baked bread would be created, and it's certainly not a common one, that I can tell. So to all the perfume world: please tell me if anything close to this perfume exists! Or tell me: is this a disgusting idea to everyone but me, which is why it hasn't been created? Do you have a holy grail perfume that hasn't been created yet?

By the way, in searching for a photo for this post I came across this awesome blog post about a bread recipe that I'm going to try:

UPDATE: According to the lovely Elena at PerfumeShrine, Serge has heard --nay, anticipated!--my desires and has a new fragrance that smells like toast. Can't wait!

Photo came from here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

SOTD: L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzing!

It's another spoilaciously beautiful, crisp fall day here in Austin, Texas. I'm wearing Dzing! for work and feeling majorly rebellious, counting the hours left before my ladies cruise (a weekly evening bike ride organized by a friend) tonight and the Austin City Limits music festival this weekend.

Dzing! was inspired by the smells of the circus--cedar chips and hay, animalic funk, leather, and caramel apples --and it has an awesomely incongruous combination of sass and sex. A carny's appreciation for the odd, libidinous, and reckless, let's say. With a dash of bad judgment and a soupçon of wayward foolishness. It's perfect for my anticipation of the music festival, into which I plan to dash headlong.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

SOTE: Cuir de Lancome SOTD: Chanel Cuir de Russie parfum

I'm on a leather kick lately. And a boot kick. Wore my gorgeous new rubber boots and Cuir de Lancome last night to get out for a drink with a girlfriend. We had such a blast, and it was so lovely to get her out of the house and get her laughing. She's a new mom, and the sleep deprivation and anxiety has really been getting to her.

The minute I woke up this morning, I knew the scent of the day had to be Cuir de Russie. So I have that luxurious thing on, and my leather wedge boots that lace up in the back. I feel much better than yesterday. Every time I wear Cuir de Russie, I think all I ever want to wear is leather scents, and I go on a rampage looking for yet more. But it really is so rare to find good birch-tar-based leather scents. My other favorites are the saffron-infused suede of Cuir de Lancome, the extra-tarred, extra-cloved vintage Lanvin Scandal parfum, the endearingly furry leather of L'Artisan Dzing!, and the heavenly burnt rubber of Bvlgari Black. I would love to get some of Heeley's Cuir Pleine Fleur, but am worried that when I want the luxury leather thing, I'll inevitably go to my Cuir de Russie.

I'm probably weird, but my nose doesn't really read the isobutyl quinoline-based scents as leather. They are more like ashtray. Not that I dislike ashtray -- vintage Cabochard parfum is my favorite ashtray scent, and the recent Diorling reformulation is a close second. But I just can't do Bandit. Well, maybe I will someday when a bottle of the vintage parfum falls out of the sky and into my lap.

But until that day, what should be my next leather, do you think? What's your next leather scent going to be? Knize Ten? Etro Gomma? Serge Lutens Cuir Mauresque? Maybe I should wait for Traversée du Bosphore?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

SOTD: Amouage Ubar

Emotional upheaval again. Shaking with anger and rejection? Check. Barely clinging to composure in the office? Check. So I pull out my stash of perfume samples from my purse. Whew! I find a great scent to help stoke one's inner turmoil and nobly restrain one's more uncivilized urges: Amouage Ubar.

The soaring lily of the valley, the basso leathery civet, the succulent rose and jasmine in between the two -- it's just balanced perfectly and on the grandest sustainable scale, it seems to me. It practically confers noblesse on the wearer. It's grandeur makes you pull yourself upright and keep hold of the raging conflagrations inside. It's a liquid version of winning your spurs -- hmm, maybe you can deal with it all. In ought to be knighted for your surpassing self control! OK, maybe that's taking it a bit over the top. Again.

Amouage Ubar is ridiculously expensive and beautiful. I got my tiny sample from The Perfumed Court, I believe. You can find other, much more informative reviews at Perfume Smellin' Things,
Perfume Shrine, and Now Smell This.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Serge Lutens Sarrasins

On my first test of Sarrasins, the initially lovely, juicy bergamot and jasmine top notes (for a few moments on a par with Montale's Jasmin Full) turned into a plasticky grape soda on me, sadly. As it dried down, however, it started to grow on me. That first try may have been an unfair assessement, given that I tried about a half-dozen perfumes in the span of an hour on that particular day.

Now that I try it again on a day when I haven't been overdosed with perfumes, I love it much more. A delicious, subtle, musky, sweet-savory leather reward awaits those patient enough to sit through what seems at first to be merely another restrained, middling-sweet, barely indolic jasmine. The effect sneaks up on me. It's a perfume equivalent of beautiful Moorish tilework that, though it first may seem to be only a humble necessity, can attain a breathtaking artisanal opulence. Sarrasins is low-key and unintimidating for a jasmine perfume, but like those meditative geometric patterns in Moorish tilework, its effect is a harmony that transcends its unassuming materials.

Bois de jasmin says: "Sarrasins includes notes of bergamot, jasmine, carnation, woods, musk, coumarin, patchouli."

Perfume posse has a great review of Sarrasins, too.

Sarrasins is only available in Paris and samples are available at various perfume decanters. Just chalk it up to the days/weeks/paychecks I'll have to spend at the Serge Lutens shop once I finally get back to Paris!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

SOTD: Chanel #19 extrait

Confession: I have what I would consider an extravagant amount of Chanel #19 in extrait. And for someone with an already ridiculous collection, that's saying something. Before getting such things was as obscenely expensive as it now is on the flea bay, I bought two (why on earth did I think I'd need two???) 1-oz flacons of extrait. It was early in my perfume obsession, is the only way I can account for such silliness. Now I know better: if I have a half ounce of something I absolutely love in extrait, I'm pretty much set for life on that one. When I have a lot of something, I feel the need to wear it frequently in proportion. With #19 this is difficult, because it just doesn't go that well with sunny weather, and, um, well, I live in Texas, of all places. Not to mention the buttoned-up quality of the scent, which has often been described as having a bitch-on-wheels kind of severity. I only wear it to work, because it just doesn't fit with my weekend life in laid-back Austin. But today! In overcast, post-Hermine, muggy weather, I biked to work in #19, and it was perfect. So for today at least, I'm a bitch on wheels, wearing #19 to kick some editorial ass.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

SOTD: Caron Narcisse Noir extrait

The scent of the day, in my current recalcitrant mood, is the expansive, sweetly terrifying Narcisse Noir in extrait. I don't think my bottle is vintage, because it has that soapy rose heart with which many recent Carons have been marred. But I don't care. It's the big, sloppy, honeyed orange blossom opening that drew me. Maybe the story about Gloria Swanson having the movie set of Sunset Boulevard sprayed down with this narcotic hot mess matches my own sulky mood today, as I drag myself off to my own, much less glamorous workplace.

Luckily for my coworkers, Narcisse Noir pulls itself together as the rose gives the emotional orange blossom a talking to, and by the time I actually get to work it'll have dried down to the somewhat incensey and synthetic sandalwood base.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Foggy Hour and the Frugal Perfumista

I just came back to Austin from an impromptu five-day trip to San Francisco, where I stayed with very kind friends and enjoyed a few days away from the miserable 100+ degree heat. From 100 degrees to 60 with a three-hour JetBlue nonstop flight! It was awesome. Highlights were many, and included: going on a pilgrimage to Muir Woods via ZipCar with a critical stop at the In-N-Out Burger in Marin (the people-watching is awesome), Dynamo Donuts in the Mission (the Caramel de Sel donut blew my mind), City Lights Bookstore, Ten Ren Tea Time in Chinatown, getting good sushi and udon at a neighborhood joint (impossible in Austin) called We Be Sushi, getting in some wonderful geeky friend time playing Settlers of Catan and listening to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings with my hosts, and the list goes on!

I did what I could to buy some new perfume, but it just didn't happen. I talked to the very sweet SAs at Diptyque, who sent me off with some samples. Vetiverio may get a review soon. I used up the entire Eau de Néroli sample on my winter pajamas, which smelled musty after bringing them out of storage for the trip, and it was very nice and not a thing more to be said about it, really.

At Barneys I tried the new L'Artisan Parfumeur, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré, but didn't have my wits about me to ask for a sample, so all I can report is a very nice first impression, darnnit. I know how much I hate it when other people make slight mention of eagerly anticipated new releases, so I'm sorry! I also finally tried Lutens Fille en Aiguilles and was impressed. I expected the fruit compote aspect I'd heard about to ruin my enjoyment of the dry pine needles and incense, because I'm just tired of that stewed fruit thing in Lutens fragrances. I wore the original Féminité du Bois to death in Boston, and it just doesn't work in the climate I now live in. So further testing in Austin would be required, but I really thought the Fille en Aiguilles was excellent--the fruit just gives it a tanginess to offset the dry qualities of the fir resins and incense. I almost pulled the trigger on a long-desired bottle of Une Fleur de Cassie, but after teasing the SA and deciding against it, I may have redeemed myself by helping her sell a bottle of Sel de Vetiver to somebody else.

At Saks, the highlight was Dior's Bois d'Argent. They were very lovely SAs at the Dior perfume counter. Oh WOW, that stuff is so breathlessly beautiful and just keeps going and going... gah, I almost whipped out my credit card for an entire ridiculously priced bottle. It was a close call, but decant it will have to be. I also had a quick sniff of the new Eau Claire de Merveilles, and liked it very much. The original Eau de Merveilles is another perfume I can't ever wear again after loving it to death at a different point in my life, but I suspect that once the Eau Claire hits discounters I may be happy to have a bottle of this.

Well you may not be able to tell from this report, but I actually spent very little time on perfume sniffing in this trip -- it's not a huge thing in San Francisco, from what I could gather. But I did have another perfume love on the trip. I brought a travel-sized decant of my vintage L'Heure Bleue parfum, and as I suspected, it went perfectly with the foggy weather and gave me a chance to love on it during my vacation from the heat. A spicy, sweet, baroque masterpiece to complement the grey fog.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Two Sandalwoods: DSH and Eden Botanicals

I've been on the hunt for sandalwood, and have been sampling two oils that purport to be sourced from East India. As I understand it, the production and harvesting of true Mysore sandalwood is now so restricted as to make it, if not impossible, at least highly unlikely as a commercial perfume material. Of course sandalwood doesn't only come from the Mysore region or even India for that matter. But having heard so much in the blogosphere about the differences in sandalwood quality, it made me highly curious about said material, so I found some on which to train my shnozz.

DSH Mysore Sandalwood
Impressions: initially pale, astringent cedar-shavings; dusty floral undertones; austere. This is the "white musk" version of sandalwood. I can no longer find this on the DSH website, but when I ordered the sample I believe the description indicated this was a sandalwood essential oil, not a blended scent. If so, it may be very low in concentration.

Eden Botanicals Santalum Album essential oil
Impressions: powerfully rich, creamy and comfortingly scratchy all at the same time; slightly plummy undertones; seems to give off a comforting, heated glow more than a sillage. OK, you can easily figure out my preference: this is amazing stuff.

What's also amazing about the Eden Botanicals oil? I have a teensy amount of very old, dark, congealed vintage Bois des Iles parfum, and pretty much all you can still detect of its once-certainly-breathtaking beauty are the base notes. Those base notes, I swear, have a distinct similarity to this stuff. Am I tripping? Can I say for sure this is the real deal? Nope. But I have decided that my little vial of this oil stays with me in my purse at all times, and the dear boyfriend periodically gets whiffed right out of bed when I accidentally overapply at bed time. Oh well, he always comes back! And in the mean time, I have my santalum album to keep me warm.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

SOTD: Encens Flamboyant and Private Collection layering

This morning I'm really happy I layered Annick Goutal's Encens Flamboyant with Estee Lauder's Private Collection parfum. I initially loved Encens Flamboyant, but it's now only in the heat and humidity that it really appeals to me. Otherwise, it's just way too insistently sweet, ashy pine needles. And the fir sap quality of Private Collection that used to seem so prominent to my nose is now overwhelmed by the florals. But put the two together and it's a magical, dark fir-tree forest. Another combination that works well is the EF with Molinard Musc, because the musk is sweet enough that it doesn't clash with the EF, but quiets it's strident "pine tree! pine tree! pine tree!" I've been feeling from it lately.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Yesterday's Magazette Article: Fabulous Fragrances

Hi all! Just dropping to share a perfume article titled Fabulous Fragrances that my great-aunt Madonna (not Ciccone!) and I wrote. She is a talented writer who finds interesting stuff to write about at every opportunity, so when she found out through the family grapevine (a.k.a. my mom) that I was all perfume obsessed, she suggested writing an article about perfume. And yes, in the article, that's a picture of just one shelf in my perfume closet of crazy. Here are a few more pics of my closet:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nuit de Tubéreuse by L'Artisan Parfumeur

This perfume starts out cold and candylike in equal measure. The candy quickly turns to gasoline fumes and decaying roots pulled straight out of the dirt--but not just dirt. Dirt mixed with overturned chunks of asphalt and cement in an abandoned urban lot. Then a cool, slightly weedy, angelica-tinged tuberose steps out of this chaotic scene, like a Hitchcock blonde on a hot, sticky night who mysteriously steps out of a grave, wipes a smudge of dirt off her satin pumps, and fixes her lipstick. Exhilarating opening.

But I should start from the beginning. At first sniff I thought this was going to turn into the vegetal musk of Strange Invisible Perfumes, which I'm sorry to say I loathe. But I tried it again on another night, and find, thankfully, it doesn't get too damp and dank. After that breathless, candy-asphalt-and-decay-opening, it gets softer for a while, then its complexity spirals out into a familiar but still impressive Duchaufour signature incense. The top notes (Robin at Now Smell This attributes them to a spicy mango in her astute review, and I'd agree) of mango mixed with orange blossom gives way to a mesmerizing, juicy floral and wood mixture warmed by cardamom and just a bit of tuberose. Then as it continues to dry down it gets even more familiar to Duchaufour fans (of Timbuktu, especially) with its strangely beautiful, tart incense.

Nuit de Tubéreuse, after living in it for a while, has a most indelible likeness to sweat and skin mixed with asphalt and flowers on a hot summer night. How does Duchaufour make incense that is both ethereal and tartly sweaty? I'm not sure I can wear it, but I can imagine finding it gradually more addictive, like I now find Les Nez's Manoumalia, which I first briefly described as a flesh-eating floral. This is likewise a truly astounding corrupted floral. It may start like the cool, self-possessed Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, but ends more like her good girl pulled over to the wrong side of the tracks by Brando in On the Waterfront.

I obtained my sample from a prize draw hosted by the kind Marla at Perfume Smellin' Things, and you should read her impressive review too.

And if you're yearning for yet more on this truly weird and beautiful perfume, read the fascinating interview that Denyse of Grain de Musc did with the perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour: Parts I and II.

Picture of Eva Marie Saint and Cary Grant in Hitchcock's North by Northwest from Picture of Eva Marie Saint and Marlon Brando in Kazan's On the Waterfront from

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Camping, Biking, and yet, Perfume

So I'm not posting much, it's true, but am still a perfume freak. How to tell? Well, I had a scent of the camping weekend, so that must earn me at least some of the perfumista points I'm losing with every blogless week. So what was my SOTC (scent of the camp)? Ormonde Jayne Champaca. Got positive comments on it, too!

The picture is our view from the tent of the Pedernales River in Texas Hill Country on Sunday morning. After a rain-drenched Friday night (dry tent, though, so yay!), we were a teensy bit worried, but the skies cleared up as if on command for our Saturday morning group cruise. On Sunday our whole group put our many talents together and focused on eating, eating some more, swimming, and slooooowly packing up the tents to go home.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Amouage Tribute Attar

Amouage's Tribute Attar perfume oil bursts out of its tiny bottle with a slightly astringent, almost lemony (is that just an incredible, nonbitter saffron? that's what the notes say) and silvery frankincense, like a combination of the rarest silver-tip Assam tea leaves and velvety fir tree needles.

As the frankincense mellows, it transforms into an unbelievably beautiful forest scent, one so vivid I can almost hear the creaking of the ancient trees around me, and the earth under my feet is padded with a thick, loamy bedding of leaves and fir needles of past seasons. Rose and jasmine pop in for a little while to keep everything from getting too unrelentingly masculine. They feel not like florals so much as shafts of light penetrating the depths, and then gradually they get nudged away by rich tobacco and animalic, leathery, dark beauty.

This is the most powerful perfume I've ever smelled. Seriously, I at first had only a tiny sample, and I just barely scraaaaaape the barest smidgen from the plastic applicator onto my wrist, and it just blooms for hours. Other bloggers have talked about a drop lasting for hours, so I feel the need to specify that one drop would probably kill me and everyone else in a three-block radius. This stuff costs 350 dollars for 12 ml, and that amount would last several lifetimes on me. It'll probably take me a couple of months to get through the 0.25 ml sample, and I keep applying it in microscopic amounts compulsively, since I'm addicted to the path it takes me on each and every time. I put Amouage's Ubar on my best of 2009 list, but Tribute Attar may be on the way to a best-of-all-time level, along with my vintage L'Heure Bleue, Dzing, Cuir de Russie, Muscs Koublai Khan, and Apres L'Ondee. I now own a treasured 3 mls in a tiny bottle.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Annick Goutal Un Matin d'Orage

This is wet garden loam and beautiful gardenias for about 30 seconds. After which, at first I got only grapefruit in the heart notes, which was very acrid. I've never liked grapefruit -- it smells like cat pee on me. But there's something about it that made me keep coming back in the weeks after I bought this in a blind buy. Its fizzy, unusual delicacy along with a bracingly sour, mineral quality makes me compulsively want to smell it. For me, it's a bit like wanting another candy sour.

So as my head twists around this thing, I get the grapefruit combined with the herbal shiso (also called perilla leaves), and I find myself compelled to say I... really like it. It's got an interesting quality like unripe fruit--or perhaps better described like the smell of grapefruit rind, not the fruit--which all eventually calms down into the florals (jasmine, champaca, and is that maybe the return of the gardenia there after a while? I can't be sure...) and a soft base of indistinct sandalwood.

Have you ever smelled the Shiso fragrance from Roger et Gallet? If you can, you may want to try it in combination with UMdO. I think there's a discontinued Shiso fragrance from Comme des Garcon, too, but I've never smelled it. I happen to have a sample of the Roger et Gallet fragrance spray, and it helped my nose recognize the basil-ish, cilantro-ish scent of shiso and distinguish it from the cat-pee of grapefruit. That, in turn, really helped my nose get past the grapefruit rind and start appreciating the complexity and uniqueness of this scent.

Other reviews of UMdO can be found at Now Smell This, at Perfume Shrine, and at Bois de Jasmin, among others!

Image courtesy of

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Gianni Versace vintage parfum

The original Gianni Versace parfum is something I've been wanting to try since reading Marina's mighty tempting review in her Perfume-Smellin' Things blog. So the other day, after occasional hunts, I lucked out on fleaBay and found an inaccurately listed bottle of the parfum for $9.99. Whoohoo--here are a few thrills left on the flea, I guess it goes to show.

I can't tell a whole lot about the top notes, because they're a little damaged in the bottle I've got: rich, subtle fruit (no jam or stewed fruit, thank goodness) and florals is my main impression. After a few minutes, though, I get the love. This has a similarly raspy, animalic quality as the vintage Rumeur I reviewed a while ago, but with sweeter, tuberose-laden florals in the middle notes. It's both earthy and nectarous.

And perhaps because this is the parfum, it's quite deliciously relaxed--not as much an '80s-shoulderpads and warpaint type of fragrance as I expected. I definately smell the myrrh and especially the benzoin in the dry down, doing its resinous, sexy thing. But I wouldn't have a problem wearing this to lunch with a girlfriend. Not at all what I was expecting from the Versace fashion house, which I'll always associate with Liz Hurley in thigh-high-slit dresses embellished with silly couture safety pins. But then again, Liz in the first Austin Powers movie may be a good metaphor for this perfume. She had a smart, fun-loving, tongue-in-cheek take on the sexpot superagent in that movie, and that does indeed match this fragrance. It doesn't take its juicy, balsamic sexiness too seriously.

One online source lists the following notes. Top notes: aldehydes, spices, fruity notes, and bergamot. Middle notes: carnation, tuberose, gardenia, orris root, jasmine, lily of the valley and narcissus. Base notes: benzoin, leather, sandalwood, amber, patchouli, oakmoss, incense and myrrh.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Reversal of expectations: Havana Vanille and Vanille Galante

Two short reviews have been calling my name--calling me out of my writing malaise. I often feel like I don't have much to say about perfume anymore, until I come across either a vintage find or a comparison that might be helpful to others. The spiced, rummy opening of Havana Vanille by L'Artisan Parfumeur already has me reaching for the dish soap to scrub it off. I wrinkle my nose and bear it, but after that it just gets worse, with helichrysum (read: maple syrup) gooping up all that ethereal, smoky tobacco-leaf I was expecting.

On the other hand (literally), I'm shocked to like the gently aquatic opening of Hermes' Vanille Galante from the Hermessences line. Its topnotes hush quickly, almost as if it's been chastised, to a soft murmur of lily. A sexy librarian's scent for sure: it makes the velvety lily in L'Artisan's Passage d'Enfer seem positively screechy in comparison. There is fruitiness, but it's a really intriguing mixture of salt and sweet--a banana-ish sweetness, almost like licking up the most delicate tropical dessert you've never eaten off warm skin. I think if Vanille Galante were a dessert, in fact, it would dissolve in your mouth like a traditional hard meringue. There's something endearingly introverted and lisping about it. It makes me feel a little like Apres L'Ondee does--a bit shattered, watery, tender--and that's high praise.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Diptyque Philosykos Solid Perfume

Like a comforting little worry stone, I like to keep the solid perfume version of Diptyque's Philosykos close, and I take it out when I want a quick dose of comfort at work. It has almost no projection, but it lasts longer than the edt, I find.

Philosykos is often described as the smell of an entire fig tree: fruit, branches, leaves, and the soil it grows in, even. I think the branches and soil come through more strongly in the edt, and the solid perfume emphasizes the green leaves and creaminess. To me, it smells a bit like an avocado shake that you'd get at a Thai restaurant. With a shade of coconut, as well. I usually don't like fruity scents, but fig is just too perfect for even a hater like me to resist.

I absolutely adore the elegant black metal case, too. It reminds me of a little intaglio jewel, it's weighty, the hinge is bomb-proof, and it has a little grey pouch to slip it into to protect it from scratches.

Highly recommended!

Image from