Monday, December 02, 2013

Cyber Monday Deals!

Hello folks! It is my favorite shopping day of the year, and thank you to Makeupalley, I am pleased to offer some of today's deals: 
  • - 25% off with JOLLYAJNE thru 12/21. Sample set coupons; Sublime excluded. 
  • is giving 20% off with TURKEY 13.
  • For 25% at use promo code "thanksgivukkah" Free shipping for order over $200 in North America. Mention code in notes to sellers at checkout - refunds will be given by hand.  
  • Parfum1 is offering 21% off with code WONDERFULPT but have excluded many brands. 
  • IndieScents is offering 20% with code "cedar" at checkout. Some brands are excluded. 
  • C.O. Bigelow: C.O. Bigelow is offering 25% off C.O. Bigelow products online only through Monday, December 2, 2013. CODE: Turkey1838 
  • Basenotes posted a page full of fragrant deals! 
  • Fragrancenet is 21% off with code VPHC3. 
  • Fragrance X is offering free shipping and 15% off everything with code CYBER15
  • Skinstore has a 20% off code: CHEER20 
  • LusciousCargo is giving 10% off almost everything. Use the word GIFT for orders over $50 for a cool gift and DECSHIP for free shipping on orders over $30. Codes may be stacked. 
  • is giving 20% off and free shipping with code RRCYBER13 through 12/2 
  • TPC will give 12% off with code THANKSGIVUKKAH 
  • Kenzo is giving 15% off with code FLOWER15 through 12/1 @ 10pm EST 
  • Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is giving 20% off everything on the site with code FROSTY13 from now through December 15. 
  • CJScents is giving 15% off all orders over $20 12/1 -12/31/13 with code HOHOHO .
  • Naturopathica is offering 30% with code 30NOW through 12/3/13  
  • Get 15% off at MIN New York with code robes08 
  • Bourbon French is giving free shipping on orders $25 or more Sunday and Monday only and 10% off the entire website now through Monday 12/2/13. Also, each household that orders gets a free gift!! No code needed.
  • Sarah Horowitz is giving 20% off through Monday, 12/2/13 with code HPBLACKFRIDAY 
  • InFiore is giving 20% off with code HOLIDAY2013 through 12/2/13. Free shipping on orders $100+ 
  • Madini Oils will give 20% off with code HOLIDAY2013 through 12/12/13 
  • has BOGOs and BTGOs through 12/2/13 at midnight. 
  • (Sage Machado) is offering 25% off everything with code Cyber25 Monday, 12/2, 2013 @ 8am - midnight EST. 
  • is giving 20% off with code SHOPPING until 12/2/13 @ 11:59 PM PST. 
  • is giving 30% off all pre-packaged gifts and sets and 50% off a regular priced item. Free ground shipping for orders over $30.  
  • Get 22% off and free shipping until 12/2 midnight PT with code CYBER at 
  • is giving 35% off today only with code CYBER35. May be stacked with code SAVE5 to save $5 off $50. Shipping is free.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Carven and Elie Saab Side by Side

I have seen two fresh, modern scents compared on the blogosphere. Out of curiosity, I decided to conduct my own side by side comparison with one spritz on each hand: Carven le parfum on my left, Elie Saab Eau de Parfum on my right. Both were created by nose Francis Kurkdjian, whose creation 754 I adore, so he already has a leg up in my book.

At first spritz:

Carven - fresh, airy, light floral with lots of brightness; inoffensive but a tad bit boring
Elie Saab - light floral draped in honey, more sweetness than air; the sweetness gives it an edge. I am more drawn to this hand than my left.

Entering the heart:

Carven - one dimensional.  The scent has not changed or evolved and now offers just a lighter version of the first spritz with soft, fresh flowers remaining, namely white hyacinth underscored by sweet pea.  It might be a great choice for someone completely afraid of perfume.  I am not her.
Elie Saab - Wow.  Loving this sweet floral that leads with orange blossom.  I would choose it for every day wear and a light social occasion.  A few spritzes at the nape of my neck and on clothing would offend no one.  It reminds me of my daughter's spirit: sweet, light, fun.

Lingering in the drydown:

Carven - my first impression remains but the flowers have been replaced by pure powder.  Nice enough for someone (probably someone twenty years younger) but I am yawning.  Perhaps if the patchouli were dirtier it would fit pour moi.  However, if all twenty-somethings replaced their entire Bath and Body Works lotion collection with this ... hmmm ... the possibilities ...
Elie Saab: a slight hint of vetiver graces my nose while those gorgeous orange blossoms still sing.  I have been searching for a multi-dimensional neroli-focused scent and Elie Saab qualifies.  With this added dimension of depth, a thought just struck me as I inhale: a perfect wedding day scent.  Still, I would quite happily add this to my winter/spring rotation.

Overall impression:

Perhaps the parallel note of mandarin blossom prompted my fellow perfumistas to link these two scents, but based upon this experiment, I find Elie Saab the standout winner for those with more discerning noses.  Both offer freshness and light, while Elie Saab provides more depth and dimension to that theme.

A special thank you to Kristie Short at Saks Fifth Avenue, Biltmore, Phoenix for equipping me with samples of these two scents. Sales assistants like her make fragrance shopping a wonderful experience!

Carven le parfum and Elie Saab Eau de Parfum can both be purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue.  Carven retails for $84-$109 per bottle. Elie Saab EDP retails for $94-$124 per bottle.

Image of mandarin blossom from

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Byredo 1996 Inez and Vinoodh

Stockholm based Byredo has produced many original scents; one that captured my interest for the first time in a note I found too heavy for the hot desert: oud. Byredo Accord Oud is the one oud-focused scent I can wear, and now I am finding one woodsy, patchouli based scent I can wear in 1996 Inez and Vinoodh.

The scent was created for a Dutch married couple and photography duo, famous in their own right for their work in pop culture.  Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin have produced music videos, fahion magazine editorials and advertising campaigns.  Ben Gorham of Byredo desired to create a scent in their honor, mimicking their work and life together and specifically their photograph entitled "Kirsten 1996." They desired to merge their unique tastes, epitomized by their "house of warm wood and high end design"and Ben Gorham has succeeded with this gem.  Originally, it was not available to the public, but when the fragrance took off like wildfire among friends ... well, another decision was made to launch at Barney's September 2013.

The scent begins altogether woodsy but morphs into a soft, creamy heart like orris and violet wrapped in vanilla.  With fresh juniper berry and warm, in this case dark, amber, the fragrance is indeed a study in contrasting elements merging to form beauty.  With leather and patchouli at the base, I cannot stop sniffing and I believe I must have this for winter and the holidays. Since I have a difficult time describing the scent, it reminds me of warm nights at a winter cabin, a luxurious cabin with all of the comforts of home, and nights filled with gourmet meals, fresh flowers, cashmere throws, and cognac by the fireside.  Luxurious, refined, interesting, warming, intoxicating and sensual all accurately describe Byredo 1996 Inez and Vinoodh.  Test at your own risk as you may spring for a bottle on the spot.

Byredo 1996 Inez and Vinoodh is available at Barney's New York.  A 50ml bottle retails for $175.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just A Drop Is All I Have Got: Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede

Darn thing about sample vials: they are made of super fine glass so if you drop one on a tile floor, the party is over.  Or it has just begun with an explosion of fragrance all over your floor.  Either way, my evening hopes of reviewing another smart creation from Jo Malone were dashed as I found Peony and Blush Suede splattered all over my kitchen floor, the unfortunate result of carrying too many things at once.  Yet, as the fragrance wafted from the floor and I managed to salvage enough of the liquid to dab on my arm, its charms turned even this debacle into a pleasurable moment.

I have always favored the house of Jo Malone for creating refined, extremely wearable scents.  Anyone can find one to call their own, even I, during my olfactorily picky second pregnancy, favored Jo Malone's White Jasmine and Mint.  So upon browsing the fragrance counters at Neiman Marcus and coming up with mediocre finds, the Jo Malone counter beckoned me, offering a definitive new study with Peony and Blush Suede.

Peony and Blush Suede is a departure from most florals in this line, typically clean and airy with a prominent citrus note.  Rather, this beauty begins with apple and morphs into a musky, powdery flower.  The apple offers just enough piquancy to showcase exquisitely beautiful peony, the symbol of everlasting love.  The floral bouquet is more smooth than cloying, more refreshing than sweet and this balanced quality remains Jo Malone's strength.  All of her scents have that same balance.  The musky suede base offers just enough grounding so the glorious peony note lasts.  Jasmine, rose and gillyflower add richness to the bouquet, just enough to keep it interesting and lively.  With a candle, body wash, body cream and cologne offered, my only trouble will be in deciding which I can do without.

Speaking of doing without, I explored for the first time today five beauties from the Jo Malone Cologne Intense collection.  I consider it a major feat that I walked away from the counter without purchasing one.  Rose Water and Vanilla, Amber and Patchouli, Oud and Bergamot, Dark Amber and Ginger Lily (oh my!) and Iris and White Musk all deserve recognition in their own right.  The only scent I did not have the pleasure of experiencing from this collection is Velvet Rose and Oud.  One day I will get my hands on a real live sample of each of these to review.  Until then, I am basking in my last drop of Peony and Blush Suede.

Jo Malone Peony and Blush Suede can be found at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.  A 30ml bottle retails for $60 and a 100ml bottle retails for $115.  Many thanks to Mary Robinson at Neiman's in Scottsdale for her generous assistance.  Amber and Ginger Lily intense and Blackberry and Sage pending review!

Image of peony courtesy of wikimedia.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A Dozen Roses Amber Queen

Founded by two successful beauty executives, A Dozen Roses creates unique scents by underscoring the emotions evoked by roses.  Merging art with perfumery, and basing each scent around 100% rose absolute has created a niche house worth writing about.  Sandy Cataldo and Lynn Emmolo have indeed succeeded at developing a superb line for fragrance connoisseurs.

To my relief, these scents do not resemble my great-grandmother's rosey perfumes.  Rather, they are original, modern, and sophisticated.  There are other lines based upon rose.  For certain it is a flower worth studying for its varieties, beauty and personality.  What brings freshness and vivacity to this line is the artwork on each bottle, devoted to the rose that is showcased by each fragrance.

I had the pleasure of testing all of these beauties (except for the newest release, more about that in another post!) at Bergdorf Goodman in May.  The one that I purchased on the spot, literally at first sniff, holds the front and center spot in my perfume cabinet: Amber Queen.

Described as "a dream come true", Amber Queen resembles the beautiful golden amber rose upon which is based, with clementine and apricot as glorious top notes.  I detect those for sure, but there is such a solid base upon which they rest, thankfully I am not reminded of my clementine shower gel.  This is richly draped fruit, grounded by ginger and that mysterious rose absolute blend, unique to the house and true to the amber rose.  The heart evolves into soft, enveloping and smooth rose, close to the skin but if sprayed with abandon leaves a decent trail.  I bury my nose into my wrist when wearing Amber Queen and perhaps that is the reason I had to have it.  It feels extremely personal - like my little secret to enjoy.  The base notes are listed as amber and myrrh but I do not experience it as a blast of either, but rather a delicate hint of both.  Smooth, rich and profound describe this fragrance.  I reach for it often, more when I prefer a close-to-my-skin scent; yet I am surprised at the number of compliments I receive when adorned with Amber Queen.  Its deep beauty is not lost on others.

A Dozen Roses scents can be found at Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.  Each 3.4 oz. beautifully decorated bottle retails for $110.  The first to comment on this post will receive a generous decant from my bottle!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Creation-S by the best nose I have ever met: Roja Dove

Roja Dove captivated me.  As he spoke of his passion, memories and dedication to fragrance I was transfixed ... could not take my eyes off him.  I followed his every word as if I were there, with him as his mother kissed him goodnight and her scent lingered, with him as he longed to create his own scents, with him as images came into his mind, images that would inspire him to create Scandal.  Had someone tapped me on the shoulder, I do not know that I would have noticed.  It seemed the only people in the small room were he and I.  Maybe Roja Dove and I were destined to cross paths.  Maybe somewhere along the line in my fragrance loving youth and young adulthood, the stars aligned for us to meet, just so I could hear him speak.  For certain, I will never forget it.

I could not leave Bergdorf Goodman without purchasing a creation from this legend in his own time.  It was early May at Sniffapalooza in New York City, and I had traveled across the country to be here.  I felt compelled to mark the occasion with a stellar purchase, an exquisite fragrance.  After sampling all of his scents, each and every one of them magnificent and crafted from the finest ingredients on earth, I landed on Creation-S.  It sang with my skin.  Luscious flowers, namely luxurious tuberose, jasmine, freesia, lily of the valley and orange blossom on a tender base of sandalwood, musk and orris root, Creation-S could have been created just for me. Well, I would like to think so.  The scent caresses my skin and transports the perfect amount around me, rendering my day brighter and my smile bigger.  It was formerly marketed as Scandal and if I remember correctly, the name had to be changed to Creation-S for the United States market.  Whatever the name, in my book it does not really matter as the scent is a masterpiece.  Thank you Roja Dove for your passion, your dedication and your artistry.

I am lucky enough to own an autographed bottle!

Roja Parfums are sold at Bergdorf Goodman.  Please visit his website here:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

M. Micallef Ylang in Gold Review

Hello strangers!  It has been interesting to watch my dabbling in perfume over the last few years.  Young children tend to throw a wrench in time devoted to hobbies and passions, especially when adding full-time work to the mix.  My love of perfume remains constant, even when I have no time to write.  I continue to sample, collect, admire and indulge in perfume.  Most recently, I had the pleasure of attending Sniffapalooza Spring Fling in New York City.  It completely submersed me into the world of perfume and inspired new writing. Thank you to team Karen for arranging such a fantastic excursion!

I found many fragrances to love while shopping, literally until I dropped, in New York.  I look forward to reviewing each of them over the next few months.  But none of them move me like this beauty.  A stunning mixture of ylang ylang (think tropics), vanilla, magnolia, coconut and musk, this fragrance embraces the skin for an entire day.  A sweet floral, M. Micallef Ylang in Gold inspires me to let loose the reins on self-control and rather enjoy the pleasant surprises in each day.  Treating myself to an ice cream cone, a dip in the pool, or a nap under a shady tree, or simply staying present to each moment is easier when wearing this sweet, happy scent.  I deem it appropriate for any occasion; perhaps most appropriate with sandals, suntan lotion and everything surrounding those two.

Years ago I reviewed three scents from this house which I adored.  Although I can no longer find those, I see M. Micallef has evolved their packaging, their blending and their marketing.  I found this beauty at Osswald which is quite possibly the most inspiring showcase of fragrance I have ever set eyes on.  If you do not like perfume, you most certainly will after stepping foot into this wonderful store in New York City.  With M. Micallef showcasing their fragrances at Osswald, the house has certainly set their sights on an upscale, luxurious market catered to fragrance aficionados.  This particular aficionado is forever grateful.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Divine Comfort of Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilée

I present another beautifully constructed, aroma-therapeutic, always appropriate, refreshing, smart and sophisticated Annick Goutal creation:  Nuit Etoilée, the newest fragrance from this stunning house.  Simultaneously refreshing, cooling, comforting and eventually warming, the scent has consistently captured my intrigue over the course of the last week.  I apply it generously, enjoying the initial blast of citrus which fades to reveal an exotic forest emanating the scent of pine needles and balsam fir.  Just as I dream of resting on a bed of soft leaves, moist dirt and scented pine needles, the warm, musky angelica seeds gently arrive, lingering on my skin for hours and reminding me that all is well.

To describe Nuit Etoilée as gorgeous would be an understatement.  Exquisite suits it better but does not capture entirely its artistic beauty.  For demonstration's sake, if I scented all of my clothing, my hair, my skin, my home and even my car where I spend the bulk of my time with Nuit Etoilée, I still would not be overwhelmed by this fragrance.  I would relish it as it calmed and soothed me in moments of elation or stress. (I have learned through life experience that even elation can be toned down, for what goes up must come down!) The citrus is the most smooth, lighthearted citrus I can imagine.  If citrus can even be called mellow, it would apply here. The pine needles and balsam fir do not transport me to a Christmas Shoppe, but rather evoke the heart of the forest with a subtly suggestive nudge.  Finally, the angelica surrounded by everlasting flowers!! I am speechless.  Warm, glowing, and musky, it is the most grounding and soothing note I have ever experienced. 

Similar to my coveted   Les Nuits d'HadrienNuit Etoilée falls into the previously mentioned "always appropriate" category.  Rather than making a fragrance announcement as the wearer enters a room, this scent is much more private and personal.  I am not certain, in fact, if it provides any sillage.  That fact does not much matter when the divine juice truly possesses aroma-therapeutic qualities. 

The only downfall to Nuit Etoilée, and I really hesitate to point this out since I so clearly adore this scent, is that on my skin longevity is not its strong suit.  Perhaps if I slathered on unscented moisturizer first, it would linger a few more hours.  Nonetheless, I am happy to bring with me a smaller, decanted atomizer and spritz myself repeatedly throughout the day.  Well worth the extra effort?  Emphatically, "Yes!"  

The packaging is equally stunning, produced in icy blue glass which changes color depending on lighting.  Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen have really "hit it out of the park" with this creation and I strongly recommend it for day or night for anyone liking comforting woodsy, musky scents.  

Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilée will be available mid-May in Eau de Toilette at Saks Fifth Avenue.  A 3.4 oz. and 1.7 oz. traditional ribbed bottle will retail for $72 and $51 respectively.  A 3.4 oz. will also be available in a masculine square bottle for $72. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy, Happy, Twirl, Twirl

Remember my review on Guerlain Cruel Gardenia?  If not, please just scroll down a bit and you will find it. The flower I was longing to embrace and call my own in that fragrance - majestic gardenia - eluded me.  Fret not!  I have found a white floral, fresh, green and gloriously gardenia-esque fragrance to place in my line up for spring.  It is Bond No. 9 Central Park West

The notes as listed by the house describe narcissus, ylang ylang and pepper at the top with orris, jasmine, linden and gardenia at the heart.  The base offers vetiver, musk, white oak and treemoss.  While I would love to say that I detect every note, I cannot tell a lie.  I do not.  Ylang ylang holds a place in my heart for its grounding qualities and it is most certainly here.  Jasmine makes a demure (not overly sensual) statement and narcissus does too, in a rich and green fashion.  However, the star of the show and the one to whom all applause should be directed outshines the other notes and does so in the most realistic, beautiful, fresh and inoffensive fashion.  Gardenia!  Richer and more attention-grabbing than Kai, less sharp than Chanel Gardenia and everything that Guerlain's gardenia offering was not, Bond No. 9 Central Park West offers a stately, grand white floral entirely based on gardenia.  I have found after sampling my entire sample vial for days that this fragrance just makes me happy.  I want to wear bright colors, dab a tiny little bit on the nape of my neck and prance and twirl like my three year old daughter.  To reference the name of the fragrance, perhaps we could prance and twirl happily in Central Park together.

I adore the bottle design with a very appropriate large pink flower flanked by strung beads at the neck which cleverly detaches as a bracelet.  The rest of the bottle is decorated by a bold houndstooth check pattern.  Central Park West is entirely appropriate for daywear when worn sparingly.  Do not douse.  This fragrance is ostentatious enough to fill an entire room!  I imagine a full bottle will last for years and I see its purchase in my near future.   

Bond No. 9 Central Park West is available at Bond No. 9 stores and Saks Fifth Avenue.  A 100ml bottle retails for $250, a 50ml bottle retails for $180, Body Silk retails for $180, a candle for $130 and shower gel for $75. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Aura by Swarovski Winner!

Thank you to all who participated in the drawing for a full bottle of Aura by Swarovski.  I am very pleased to announce the winner according to  It is someone to whom I am honored and delighted to send the fragrance!  Congratulations goes to ...

Joshua Ryan!!

Please post your e-mail address as a comment here Joshua and I will contact you directly.  Enjoy your new fragrance!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Aura by Swarovski Draw!

Please comment below to be entered into a draw to win a full, 1.7 oz bottle of Aura by Swarovski Eau de Parfum.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fragrance Launch: Aura by Swarovski

Announcing Aura by Swarovski, described as an "incandescent, fruity, floral creation" and created by Jean-Pierre Bethouart and Olivier Cresp.  The fragrance begins sweet, sharp and a bit overwhelming. Rose, lychee and pink pepper conspire to demand all olfactory attention, to the point of making me sneeze.  It reminds me of many I have tested in department stores with pink pepper at the helm; it dominates the other notes.  At this stage, sillage is adequate and it does get noticed, although I have yet to receive a compliment perhaps due to all that pink pepper.  Notoriously, it does not like my skin. 

As the fragrance, to my relief, dries down, a tiny bit of tuberose emerges along with the base notes of amber and white musk.  I would love this stage if I could smell it without the need to press my nose to my wrist.  If these voluptous notes were to headline the fragrance I would be sold!

The bottle is elegant and stunning, refillable and unique.  Set at the top with a Swarovski crystal, I would enjoy displaying it if I fell in love with the juice.  Despite my best effort, I did not. 

Aura by Swarovski, an inaugural fragrance by the company famous for stunning crystal, will be launched April 2012 at Swarovski Boutiques.

I will raffle the 1.7 oz. bottle I have on Monday!

Aura by Swarovski will be available at Swarovski Boutiques in April.  The collection includes Eau de Parfum in 1, 1.7 and 2.6 fl. oz bottles for $65, $80 and $100 respectively.