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 zigmasolutionse.com

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.