Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year 2008!


Happy New Year dear readers, family and friends! I hope that in your celebrations you are able to close the chapters of 2007 and honor them for what they taught you. Be kind, be respectful, be responsible and have fun!! The year 2008 promises amazing things and I hope it brings you everything your little heart (and nose) desires!

In honor of New Year's Day, I will be posting my favorites from 2007. Please stay tuned!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Frapin 1270

The last Sunday of the year 2007 inspires me to explore the word "complete". In thinking about the past year, it has been a most fascinating one. I have experienced the pinnacles of happiness, excitement and elation (new job offer!) along with the unfortunate dregs of hopelessness, grief, trauma and despair. I have faced physical, mental and emotional challenges that have brought forth even more inner strength. Yes, I could write multiple entries on what I endured this year. I could also write multiple entries on my strengthened faith and overwhelming gratitude for the multitude of blessings, love and supportive people in my life, most of all my incredible husband. I am not sad to leave 2007 behind. In fact, I feel so complete with it that I am relieved. I anticipate with much hope a new year, a new chapter, a new outlook, a new experience .... and perhaps a new full bottle of an amazing fragrance.

In that vein, it was important that I choose for this final review of the year 2007 a fragrance that I consider complete - a blend that is unabashedly magnificent, rich and whole. That fragrance is Frapin 1270.

I have never been to a cognac cellar. I have never even (that I recall) tasted good cognac. An allergy to alcohol prevents me from celebrating its charms and writing about it with any sincere knowledge. However, what I conjure imaginatively a cognac cellar would entail - the sights, sounds and smells - that is Frapin 1270. This is certainly not an original thought. The creator of the fragrance, the great granddaughter of Pierre Frapin, longed to conjure that image. Pierre Frapin's family began creating roots in the cognac region of France during the year 1270. To pay homage to her great grandfather and the grand cognac company he created, the rich, warm and enticing masterpiece of 1270 was born. The notes, according to Lucky Scent, include exotic woods, spices, raisin, vine flowers, pepper, candied orange, nut, hazelnut, prune, cocoa, coffee, leather, woods, white honey, and vanilla.

This fragrance for a man or a woman begins with a spicy, fruity and boozy accord. Images of dark wooden floors, large vats of alcoholic liquid in a damp, cool basement and elaborate bowls of dried fruit flood my mind as I inhale the honeyed richness of 1270's introduction.

As the woods, cocoa and leather make their appearance during the heart of this fragrance, the images in my mind become much more elaborate, colorful and emotional. It whisks me away to an opulent, luxe, formal event in a foreign land. This scent is not familiar to me at all and yet I long to go to the place from which it originates and submerse myself in the culture. Like a wallflower crashing a party, I would observe the conversations, behavior, attire and cuisine of this foreign place and no one would be able to see me. I can smell the gourmet food, the ladies' perfume, the men's warm skin, the decadent leather coats and shoes, the history of the building (I picture a castle), the damp earth beneath it and the unadulterated lust that circulates like air. And just when these fragrances nearly intoxicate me, I become visible and participate in the festivities of the evening as if I had always been there. For one night, I am someone else, someone more exotic, free-spirited and affluent; someone who has led a completely charmed life yet possesses a decent character. Male or female, young or old does not matter. What does is the fact that I am undeniably mysterious, rich and comfortable, desired and adored, respected and admired. And I think of nothing else but the present moment. This image stays with me through the sexy, slightly sweet and more woodsy drydown. I feel complete.

Frapin 1270's timeless, gourmand, Oriental and luxurious character makes it entirely full bottle worthy to me. In fact, if it is the only full bottle I purchase in 2008, I will still be complete.


Frapin 1270 is available at luckyscent.com and beautyhabit.com (althoughy luckyscent.com is sold out at publishing of review). A 50mL of the EDP is $85.

Image of cognac courtesy of drinkon.com. Image of Alnwick castle courtesy of mingayhistory.co.uk.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Interview with Sali Oguri

When I asked Sali of Pink Manhattan to share the story of her personally created fragrances, she was more than happy to oblige ... and quickly! This multi-talented, generous and insightful lady has been so gracious in sharing some of her thoughts and secrets regarding her beautifully composed fragrances. Here are a few of them.

TMH:
What inspired you to create your own fragrances?

Sali:
Concept: I’m an independent singer-songwriter who wanted to combine music and scent together as part of one sensory experience. I named my CD Pink Manhattan, and so the matching fragrance shares its name. I call the work Pink Manhattan Sensorium of Song and Scent, Part I (CD) amd Part II (Perfume). That was my first perfume, and then Persephone followed just a couple of years later. Persephone will have a corresponding CD released in 2008. It was planned for 2007 but I’ve pushed it back till it’s really ready. We’re working on it, and when it launches, it should be slammin’, so stay tuned.

TMH:
Tell me the significance of the names "Pink Manhattan" and "Persephone"?

Sali:
I’m the nose behind both. I’m a grass roots perfumer who uses oils and mixes them in my home studio. I don’t work in a fancy high tech lab—I just use my nose and buy the best materials I can afford, then mix them till they live up to my personal standard of a well-blended piece of work. While I was finishing my Pink Manhattan CD, I was looking for a peach-gardenia-vanilla scent to wear (I usually wear perfume to feel inspired, or just to enjoy) and found none that perfectly suited my craving, so I decided to make my own. The theme fit the name Pink Manhattan exactly, so I went with it. I liked many fruity vanilla-based gardenias out there but wanted something a little more understated than what I found—something close to the smell and taste of gorgeous, huge, crisp and juicy white peaches I’ve experienced in Japan. Those of you who’ve visited Japan know that if anything is excellent in Japan, the quality of food is. Speaking of Japan, Pink Manhattan was first sold through a Tokyo radio station (J-Wave) that sold both CD and perfume to my American Top 40 listeners overseas!

Persephone was first created as part of a collection of goddess-inspired perfumes for a friend with a New Age business. The business has been on hold, so I rescued Persephone, the favorite blend of just about everyone in my life, and decided to recreate it using the very best materials I could afford before releasing it under my own brand. The result is a sumptuous, hedonistic Gourmand-Oriental, just the way I’d envisioned it: a ravishing jewel of a blend for evening, a modern take on the classical Oriental. It also follows Pink Manhattan logically because it’s a similar composition built with lower notes, maybe an octave or two down. Here, too, I wanted to create something I didn’t find out there, which was a chocolate-berry-amber. I think Bath & Body works and others have all taken up on this idea by now, but only mine contains no patchouli nor orange, and instead includes magnolia, hyacinth and other regal florals to round out the elegant composition. Why is it sometimes referred to as Unreleased Mix a.k.a. Persephone? I had renamed it Unreleased Mix at one point because I thought my 2nd CD might be called that, but that idea’s been changed, so it’s now back to Persephone.

TMH:
How did you discover each? (In other words, how many formulas did you try? How did you select the notes?)

Sali:
Mixing took about a year for each perfume. I compare the art of mixing perfume to mixing music. Although I’m a composer-arranger and not an audio engineer, I believe what the engineer does--the balancing of levels of each track--is very similar to the art of actually hand-mixing a perfume composition. It’s one part conceptual and one part physical—you really only get to do it once and if you mess it up, you’re back to the drawing board. It’s a bit like cooking too, although I’m much better in the studio than in the kitchen. I learned a lot in the process, such as how accords are born. It’s one thing to design a scent in your head but another to actually mix the notes and smell the result. Combining more than two notes was a huge challenge and took me hundreds of tries to perfect. In the end, I believe my perfumes came out as close to my original inspiration as possible.

I invested in countless oils from many sources, but finally came across a handful I knew I could use. Finding the right materials took about 8 months for Pink Manhattan; then for Persephone, about a year. The biggest challenge for Persephone has been continuing to find the top grade Mysore sandalwood which has become extremely rare. As it stands now, I had just enough to finish the mixes I’ve made, and I don’t think I can make anymore that would smell like this, which is part of the reason I’m discontinuing the online sale of Persephone. I’m selling some and keeping the rest as my private blend until I can find a new resource for the sandalwood. Some of the “real” Mysore sandalwood I’ve bought in recent months have been of poor quality and I just wouldn’t use it, nor would I replace it with cheap synthetic sandalwood because I never liked that smell. I’m thinking perhaps it’s best to move on from using Mysore sandalwood since the trees are becoming extinct. My favorite sandalwood sold out at one source that still talks about that yield of oil, reminiscing about how amazing it really was. I can vouch for the quality because it’s what inspired me to create Persephone.

TMH:
What is your favorite aspect of the art of perfumery?

Sali:
As with music, I like the creation of the concept best of all. The initial inspiration is what propels the project forward. It’s the song I hear in my head, pretty much done. I might add lyrics later, but the song sounds the way it goes. I have to love the idea first—then, I can work at making that dream a reality. That part is also fun but harder work. Seeing the end result is a great reward, but I’m a perfectionist and tend to pick everything apart and think they could be even better. However, I think my perfume blends are as close to perfection as they could be at this stage, and I am proud to present them to the public.

TMH:
Tell me a little known fact about you?

Sali:
I used to host a weekly Japanese TV show called “New Yorkers” that was watched by millions. However, it was a satellite show, and not everyone had access to it. It was one of the first HDTV shows made by NHK. I sang the opening and ending theme songs, and actually wrote the ending theme song which is on my Pink Manhattan CD. I’ve also had a couple of radio shows, and here’s the weirdest job I’ve had in show biz: I do voice-overs for educational tapes. For these, I’m often asked to put on various degrees of a Japanese accent which I don’t normally have. LOL. It’s a blast and I love working with the people I work for.

Her scents Persephone and Pink Manhattan are not only original and unique, but also very beautiful. Persephone combines dark chocolate, ripe blackberry, juicy pomegranite, earthy Mysore sandalwood and royal purple flowers to create an unforgettable gourmand fragrance that delights the nose with its sweet and delicious bouquet. As Sali mentions, Pink Manhattan is a delectable peach and gardenia blend featuring the most authentic and original peach accord I have ever encountered. The addition of pink hibiscus, French vanilla and sensual skin musk give it just enough intrigue and balance. Both fragrances stay close to the skin and would make a beautiful addition to any fragrance collection. Many thanks to Sali for her generosity with her time, energy and perspectives!

For a limited time, Sali is generously offering a 10% discount and free shipping until 2/14/08 on any orders of Persephone for "For The Love of Perfume" readers only. To order go to www.salioguri.com or follow this link and include the code LOVEPERFUME for your discount.


Image sources: "The Return of Perspehone" courtesy of matrifocus.com. White peaches courtesy of jupiterimages.com.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Feature: For the Love of Perfume History


My most generous and intuitive husband gifted me with the glorious text Perfume: A Cultural History of Fragrances From 1750 to the Present by Richard Standelman. My gratitude and excitement cannot be expressed in words! I have briefly skimmed the book over the course of one hour and find it so rich in history and ideas I must share them with you. In that vein, I plan to share little-known facts and discussions regarding perfume history, based upon this book and other sources, once per month. To keep things consistent, this feature will appear the fourth Wednesday of every month.

Today's tidbit centers around Lancôme's 1995 launch of Poême. I will paraphrase and summarize pages 204-205 from the book Perfume. The surrealist poet Paul Eluard (1895-1952) ironically rarely spoke of the olfactory sense but rather relied on specific visual descriptions to literally be his nose. Because of his exquisite work and his ability to put into words surreal concepts eerily parallel to the elusive nature of perfume, by the end of the twentieth century Paul Eluard's poetry became closely tied to fragrance. The marketing campaign of Lancôme Poême, although certainly not the first to link perfume and poetry, catapulted Eluard's popularity to the masses. Advertisements for Poême quoted a poem by Eluard called "Je t'aime" (I love you). Lines such as "I love you against everything that is mere illusion" became the eloquent backdrop to the floral bouquet of Poême. Even more fascinating is the literal translation of Poême, which contains the signature circonflex above the "e," a trademark Lancôme marketing strategy. Because of this adjustment, it can translate to "la peau qui aime" meaning "the skin that loves." Because skin is the medium of scent, how clever to suggest an amorous relationship between the largest organ and scent. Certainly the marketing folks at Lancôme thoroughly investigated the factors that would make this launch a success and they were able to make a connection that tomes could be written about today.

I have discovered over the last year of writing perfume reviews that I quite often link perfume to something tangible in an effort to describe it. The truth about perfume is its elusive nature, its inability to be grasped and looked at and the challenge inherent in describing it. This truth is the reason we perfume bloggers have such fun and the reason writing about perfume is an art form. Therefore, I am duly impressed at Lancôme's ability to link such baffling concepts of the imagination demonstrated by Eluard's poetry to their fragrance.

For more on the connection between poetry and perfume, my lovely and intellectual friend Heather's blog Memory and Desire is devoted to it.

Where else have you discovered connections between poetry and perfume? Is there a specific scent you've linked to a certain poem?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!


For all who celebrate, may your home (or relative's home) and heart be filled with love and joy this Christmas. For those who celebrate other winter holidays, may the spirit of the season surround you. I thank you all for bringing so much joy to my life.

The TMH home will be hosting a small dinner today and we are so grateful for the opportunity to do so. I am wearing Persephone by Sali and it is delectable. I promise to review it by Friday! Feliz Navidad! Please feel free to share what you're wearing today.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Obscure Toiletries

Every once in a great while, I discover toiletry gems and great candles. Make no mistake, this blog is dedicated to perfume. However, because some lotions, potions and home fragrances smell so divine they prompt an emotional attachment similar to my borderline obsession with my perfume collection, I am compelled to highlight a couple. (I reserve the right to periodically review products in this category!)

First, I sing the praises of a darling little website called Bathed and Infused. Their philosophy "Get clean. Smell good." has most certainly served them well. Unlike the numerous e-tailers devoted to creating lotions that smelled like birthday cake who surfaced a few years ago (and mostly faded away since), Bathed and Infused has stood the test of time. They have also mastered the art of great customer service, created packaging that leaves an unforgettable impression with each consumer, and produced extremely high quality products that appeal to most. I adore the long list of fragrances! Looking for a body lotion to compliment your favorite fragrance? Bathed and Infused probably has one. How about a shower gel to augment the season or time of year? Look no further. Although I will admit that their fragrance dupes lack staying power, for any bath and body need, this website is certainly worth looking into. Best of all, their items arrive in a cute little Chinese take out box with a blue fortune cookie to match the website's color scheme. Adorable! I have thoroughly enjoyed Mandarin Tiki and Spiced Orange Tea Cakes lotions this month. (They are closed through January 7. Visit them after the New Year!)

Second, for creating the perfect atmosphere in your home, Alternative Breeding offers excellent products. Lest you turn your nose up at the name, I assure you the link is safe! I have become quite attached to the artistically blended simmer wax. No cotton candy or birthday cake smelling candles here, although they do have variations if you appreciate that sort of thing. A much more sophisticated variety of scents is also available. A few favorites of mine? Ginger Regale, Prelude and The Way Back.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Forget Me Not: Estée Lauder Private Collection

As the story goes, Estée Lauder often wore a variety of scents as she created new fragrances for her company. She developed her own personal favorites and when she wore them, she would inevitably be asked what she was wearing. She always said, "Oh, it's from my private collection." As often happens in the close knit beauty and fragrance community, word spread rapidly culminating in people asking for her private collection at Lauder counters(1). Estée Lauder acquiesced and moved on to market the fragrance, aptly naming it Private Collection. The year was 1973.

My first memories of Private Collection involve my cousin Anne-Marie, who always smelled incredibly feminine and pretty. As a young, naive nose I recall asking her what she was wearing and she announced, "Oh! It's Private Collection." I asked if I could try it, spritzed some from her bottle on my skin, quickly decided that it was only for Anne-Marie and swore to never wear it again. This event was quite possibly my first lesson in skin chemistry. At a ripe 12 or 13 years old, I was terribly disappointed I could not duplicate her scent.

Fast forward to last week when I along with Divina of Fragrance Bouquet decided to feature this fragrance for December's "Forget Me Not". I had not retested since that formidable day in my cousin's bedroom. And I fully expected to have the same reaction to the fragrance today that I did at twelve. How pleasantly surprised I am at this wonderfully sophisticated green floral which has entered the distinguished realm of "vintage" fragrances.

I have tested Private Collection three times in the past week and remarkably the scent morphs differently on my skin with every application. Like a chamelion, the scent becomes what I want it to be depending upon my mood, my attire and my plans for the day. It was slow to grow on me and turned up my nose with the first testing, probably due to my history with it. However, as I have studied the notes and how they interplay with one another, I truly appreciate the composition of the scent and my skin has befriended it.

The notes include citrus notes, green notes and hyacinth at the top, a heart of narcissus, rose, jasmine and pine landing on a base of oakmoss, cedar, amber and musk. The fragrance is slow to develop, increasing its charm and intrigue.

Private Collection begins very green and earthy, reminding me of grass and the dirt beneath it that grows lush on the Irish countryside. During the second stage the floral notes emerge. Because of their perfect blending, it is nearly impossible to identify just one, yet you know they lie just beneath the surface due to the enticing, feminine yet delicate nature of the scent. Very faintly sweet, even more faintly soapy and mostly green define the top and heart of the fragrance. The animalic base proves worth the wait. As the amber and oakmoss appear beneath what could be a green layer of batiste fabric, they render Private Collection a warm, hushed, soft as a whisper scent. On my skin, animalic notes are sometimes a tad nutty and this aspect took me completely by surprise, pleasantly so. The beauty of this base reminds me of an Oriental rather than a Chypre, although Private Collection is classified as the latter.

The picture painted with this lush chamelion fragrance, no matter how it develops from one application to the next, is that of a classy sophisticate - one who hosts elegant dinner parties, never leaves the house without wearing lipstick and boasts a large circle of friends and associates. Perhaps similar to Estée Lauder herself, the fragrance of her private collection begs to be the signature of an unforgettable woman, one with grace, beauty and style. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to revisit it.

(Not to be confused with the recent 2007 release of Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, a much lighter and more floral fragrance that is uniquely beautiful in its own right, created by Estée's daughter Aerin.)




(1) Paraphrased from the story listed on Perfumemart.com.

Estée Lauder Private Collection is available at esteelauder.com in a gift called "Two to Treasure" including the body lotion, for $60. Also, a 1.75 oz. pure fragrance spray retails there for $45.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

For The Love of Serge Lutens



This time of year calls for unique fragrances that inspire and define. If I had to live the rest of my life without a fragrance from the master of houses himself, I surely would endure a less fulfilled existence. Serge Lutens is to fragrance as Angelo Gaia is to wine. Read more about him here and read my narrative on Les Salons here. I have reviewed other offerings from Mr. Lutens and find all of his fragrances to be completely different from one another. Today I offer several that I am wearing through the holidays, all created by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake.
  • Chergui - An ode to the hot winds that blow through the Moroccan desert and an olfactory time traveler, whisking the wearer away to desert sand, resting camels, spicy cuisine and opulent palaces. Sweet and rich, spicy and luxurious with honey, tobacco and an ambery-leather accord that compels me to bury my nose in it, Chergui holds the #1 spot in the MakeupAlly Top 25 Fragrances for 2007. Indeed!

  • Douce Amere - An instant love that faded away to strong like after one wearing due to overspraying. Immediately I thought it very similar to Chergui with its honeyed and oriental sweetness. However, this fragrance's loveliness lies in its lighter sweetness, contrary to the heavy, spicy and luxurious sweetness of Chergui. Douce Amere's composition centers around artemisia absinthium which is used to make Absinthe liqueur. With anise, cinnamon, cedar and musk to counterbalance the medicinal and bitter nature of artemisia absinthium, Douce Amere smells like a sweet, creamy and sophisticated dessert. One spritz is all that is needed for hours of wear.

  • Rousse - Pure, unadulterated cinnamon! Fabulous when layered with Douce Amere. The top of this fragrance perfectly reminds the wearer of cinnamon candy. As it dries and fades, the musky base of dark woods and iris takes over, but at this point the fragrance is very faint. Therefore, an enduring and sweet scent like Douce Amere is its flawless compliment.

  • Un Lys - With the exception of Bois de Violette, the only other fragrance from this line that I find utterly pretty and feminine. It is the perfect, creamy and abundantly blooming white lily - make that bouquets of them. Nothing sharp, overwhelming or cloying occurs during the olfactory progression of this fragrance. Rather, the vanilla and musk at the heart maintain its creamy quality from start to finish. I could easily call this my favorite soliflore scent.

Photo of Serge Lutens courtesy of osmoz.com and Douce Amere courtesy of lamurefavorite.com.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Perfect Scent for Home for the Holidays?


I would love to make hot, spiced apple cider, throw orange peel into a roaring fire, have a live Christmas tree in every room and roast chestnuts to create perfect atmosphere and aroma for the upcoming holidays. None of those are in the cards for our very balmy climate or this very busy time. Therefore, I have scoured the stores searching for the perfect fragrance for scenting the home - one that does not overwhelm the nose but rather sets a cozy, comforting and nostalgic mood. And I am pleased to announce that it is not difficult to find nor terribly expensive. It is Winter by Slatkin & Co., available at all Bath and Body Works stores (which has rather become like Starbuck's with the number of stores in the U.S.) I highly recommend the oil which when added to an oil burner creates an incredibly soothing Douglas Fir tree type scent. The notes include "shimmering pine, crisp bay leaf and red cinnamon." The bay leaf prevents the scent from becoming too cloying or sweet and the fragrance truly does warm the heart and mind.


Please stay tuned for my previously promised review of several offerings from Serge Lutens, which I will be writing later today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Feuille de Reglisse Winner

And the winner is .... from random.org ....

TMP00

Congratulations T. and please send me your address! I am anxious to hear your impressions of this fragrance! Each of you had such wonderful ideas regarding the entry. Because this house is devoted to puns as well as perfumery, I thought it appropriate to make my post full of them. Each and every one of you is right. (Kudos to Anne for identifying perhaps the most complicated one!) The ridiculously obscure and perhaps too simple pun that eluded you was my reference to the fragrance being a "celebrity" or a "star". Star is a type of anise, which is the top note of the fragrance. (chuckle)

Thank you all for participating!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Parfums 06130 Feuille de Reglisse

When I met Nicolas Chabert, founder of Parfums 06130, or the French pronunciation Zero Six Cent-Trent, I was impressed with his knowledge of the art of perfumery and also with his origins. The prestige inherent in residing in Grasse, France was not lost on this perfumista! (Remember, this is where the art of perfumery was born.) Even more impressive is the name of this house. It is the zip code of Grasse, France which further underscores the owners' dedication to perfumery. Knowing all this, I was elated to try all of the fragrances he so passionately represented.

To say that the Feuille de Reglisse is original is truly an understatement. I would venture to say that it must be worn by a true fragrance connoisseur, for it is ineffably unique. Feuille de Reglisse translates to "licorice leaf" and lends itself to interpretation since licorice is actually a root, not a leaf. (I vaguely remember Mr. Chabert referencing this point and wish I had had a tape recorder with me!) That fact is only the tip of the iceberg. This fragrance is truly a study in dichotomy, a study that only true fragrance lovers can appreciate.

The leaf of a licorice plant would be subtly suggestive of the root, with a softer, more transparent scent. And that is exactly what this fragrance manages to pull off. The strong top notes of heliotrope and anise boldly announce the fragrance for the first five minutes of wear, however this sharp opening bears little resemblance to the heart and base of the fragrance. Herein lies the dichotomy. Very few fragrances have such a drastically different opening and heart. After proudly wearing Feuille de Reglisse for nearly a week, I have realized an interesting routine with it. Immediately following first spritz I avoid sniffing at all. Rather, I wait for the subtle, soft and soothing heart to emerge and wash over me like a warm blanket. It never fails. Delicate muguet and sweet orange flower bring forth the transparent and soft qualities of this fragrance. This stage is the one that I favor and I find it beautifully soft and slightly powdery. The base notes of sweetly spicy ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and earthy cedarwood substantially ground Feuille de Reglisse. Although the combination of notes alone could inspire fear in the hearts of those who loathe spicy scents, the spice of Feuille de Reglisse is deceptively subtle. It is remarkably well-blended, true to the company's mission. Finally, it is suitable for every day wear.

I predict this fragrance will not take the fragrance community by storm but rather will slowly sneak up on unsuspecting perfumistas looking for a soft, subtle and truly different scent that is destined to be a star. The contrast between notes, the distinct progression of scent from top to bottom, the company's commitment to the art of perfumery and the uniqueness of this fragrance catapult it into a very prestigious category - celebrated niche.

Find the pun in my above post to be entered in a drawing for a large sample of this excellent new fragrance!

Feuille de Reglisse is available at www.aedes.com, Takashimaya and other exclusive retailers. A 3.4 oz. bottle retails for $145.

Photo of bottle, courtesy aedes. Licorice plant courtesy of nccam.nih.gov.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tocca Candles

I love scenting our home with incredible fragrances that inspire people to say, "It smells so good in here!" More importantly, I love scenting our home just for Christmas. The scents I choose for this time of year and their importance cannot be over estimated. Therefore, when I received word of these offerings from Tocca I had to pass them along to you!

First, is the Holiday Candle in Mimosa being offered through tocca.com (pictured above). With a topnote of champagne, it will set a celebratory mood. Second, the Candele da Viaggio offers four travel sized candles in the following scents:


  • Cleopatra - cucumber and tangy grapefruit

  • Grace - Casablanca lily

  • Havana - spicy sugarcane and rum

  • Kyoto - fruity floral

An interesting and varietal combination to scent your home or gift for someone special, this set is available at Sephora or sephora.com. Have a wonderfully scented holiday and enjoy!

Stay tuned for a review of Parfums 06130 Feuille de Reglisse tomorrow. This weekend, I will explore two offerings from Serge Lutens.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Perfume for the Occasion: Air Traveling


I apologize for my delay in posting this. Participating in my dear friend's wedding this past weekend (I am so happy she met such a wonderful man!), updating our home with Christmas decorations, maintaining my exercise program and preparing for work this week has inundated my time. A girl can only do so much, right?

Nonetheless, I am pleased to discuss a topic that often causes anxiety and worry. With 4.7 million U.S. residents expected to fly during the month of November according to AAA and the Air Travel Association, it is no wonder holiday travel inspires dread in the hearts of those who bravely choose to do so. The TMH household has made an executive decision to stay put during the holidays, partly because our weather is so balmy (why would we want to leave?) and partly because we both travel so much for business we would rather relax at home during time off. But I digress. My aim in writing this piece to assist those who do travel to get through it stress-free and smelling fine!

First and foremost, remember that U.S. regulations regarding liquid carry-on items are very strict. You cannot carry more than 3 ounces of liquid in one container and all liquid containers must fit in a quart sized plastic zip-lock type bag. You can only carry one plastic bag and it must be removed from your carry-on and placed in a bin to go through security. (There are exceptions such as baby formula, prescription medication, etc. Read more here.) Second, if you are brave enough to pack your coveted perfume bottles in your suitcase, beware! If you have ever been privy to how roughly your suitcase is handled, you will keep those bottles in their deserved safe place. In light of all this, what is a perfumista to do?

Several maneuvers that I have employed have allowed me to travel fragrant and worry-free since these policies were implemented. They are the following:


  • Decant whatever fragrances you plan to wear into smaller containers. I prefer 5mL atomizer sprays as it gives me an ample dose of the fragrance. Pack these fragrances into a waterproof pouch, such as a dop kit or even a plastic resealable bag. Wrap it with a towel or washcloth and nestle it between two items of machine washable clothing or inside a shoe in your checkable luggage. I have yet to have a problematic leak when I have adhered to these tips! And it allows me to take as many fragrances as I would like safely.


  • Invest in a few solid fragrances to put in your carry-on. That way no matter how far you have to travel, you will be able to reapply and smell wonderful. Better yet, utilize some tips from our last entry "In Times of Stress" and incorporate solid fragrances with stress-relieving notes. A few solid fragrances to investigate include Zents which can be found at this website and my personal favorite Crazy Libellule & the Poppies (read my entry here). There are many other solid perfumes to try! Keeping them in your purse makes the task of getting through security much easier and faster, saving you time and sparing the nerves of the travelers waiting behind you. In addition, solid scents typically have very little sillage which other airline passengers may appreciate. Remember, air on planes is circulated! What smells great to you may cause the traveler behind you to have a terrible asthma attack. Be a responsible traveler and consider the needs of those around you.


  • If purchasing a fragrance at your destination, have it shipped home. This may incur a larger expense than packing the lovely new scent into your suitcase, but unless you have a lock I would not risk it. I recently had an empty Tumi tote bag stolen from inside my suitcase. Claims submitted to the airline, TSA and airport lost and found left me empty handed. If you must pack the new fragrance, invest in a TSA accepted lock. You can find one in an airport or online. A list of accepted locks can be found here. In addition to risk of theft, the bottle may be crushed or broken (heaven forbid!) in your checked baggage. That said, I did miraculously make it back from Italy with an intact bottle of Nasomatto Absinthe. I doubt this happens often unless you bring bubble wrap and tape with you, as I did. If you purchase a fragrance abroad, you will also have to declare the item to customs upon re-entering the United States. Just pay the shipping and lose the hassle and worry.

If you follow these simple tips and plan accordingly, you can count on smelling great and making it through what I call "the airport gauntlet" hassle-free. Now, let us hope that flight delays and rude passengers or airline staff do not ruin your day. That is another subject altogether and one that I have dealt with repeatedly. For that, I just say bring a great book, a cozy sweater or blanket, an iPod with your favorite music loaded, some noise-cancelling headphones and remember the old adage, "You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar." Happy and Fragrant Holiday traveling to all!

Please be sure to read Divina's wonderful European take on things at Fragrance Bouquet.

Image of airplane courtesy of askavery.com. Solid Crazy Libellule & the Poppies perfume courtesy of urbanapothecary.com.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

December is here!



Time for shopping, decorating, enjoying great food and sweets, and spending time with family and friends. I love this time of the year and everything that goes with it. Each year I vow to avoid feeling stressed or fall into the trap of being driven by commercialism, but rather to enjoy this time and move a little slower, sleep a little more, cherish the people in my life and enjoy my favorite fragrances! Here are a few on the docket this season:


  • My favorite layering combination: Jo Malone Pomegranite Noir over L'Aromarine Vanille


  • My second favorite combination: Ava Luxe Milk over Ava Luxe Madeline


  • For a wedding today: Frederic Malle Carnal Flower


  • For shopping days: One of above layering combinations


  • For romantic nights with Mr. TMH: Bella Bellissima Perfect Night


  • For the party we will attend on the 14th: Jean Paul Gaultier Classique


  • For work: Parfums 06130 Feuille de Reglisse (please stay tuned for a review this week!)

  • For Christmas Eve party plans: Escada Collection


  • For Christmas Day: Whatever Santa brings! (Perhaps Laura Mercier Eau de Lune or Hermès Kelly Calèche)

What will you be wearing this season?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Bella Bellissima Perfect Night



Dancing in the moonlight under an endless sea of stars... whispers of promises that thrill the senses... touches that linger, gentle caresses, mystery, passion ...

This description captivated me only after I tried the delicious juice. I first referred to Bella Bellissima Perfect Night when reviewing Bond No. 9's recent release Andy Warhol Silver Factory. Struck by the similarity in notes between the two, I used Bella Bellissima Perfect Night for comparison's sake. However, it deserves a review of its own.

Perfect Night is Silver Factory for a woman - one who wants to be a little less bonfire-earthy and a little more va-va voom voluptuous. The addition of ginger, vetiver and elusive exotic flowers to incense, cedar and amber amply give Perfect Night its femininity, curves and sultry appeal. At first spritz it eerily resembles the aforementioned fragrance but upon drying it takes on a subtly sweet dimension with the amber and midnight flowers taking front and center. Something soft and creamy resides in the heart as well, and its comfort factor is high without detracting from the massive amount of sex appeal.

Last night as I held out my wrist to my husband to sniff this amazing fragrance, he said to me, "Oh, I like that! It smells like a vixen- like a really bad girl." Not a terrible assessment. If I added "refined" to "vixen" I think we would have an accurate description. This beautiful fragrance does not take hostages; it is quite classy. Conversely, the woodsy and exotic Perfect Night summons the inner vixen leaving an unforgettable impression with incredible lasting power. The perfect spokesmodel for this fragrance could easily be the volatile Angelina Jolie. Her image has become more wholesome lately due to motherhood and philanthropy. Yet I refer to her image of about five years ago - the pre-Brad Pitt, raunchy and uninhibited woman who inspired the more inhibited to blush or scoff at her in judgement. Her confidence, sexual freedom, voluptuousness and mysteriousness personify Perfect Night in perfect fashion.

Wear Bella Bellissima Perfect Night at your own risk and make sure to give it an ample stage with your best black dress and smokey eyeshadow.

Bella Bellissima Perfect Night is available at www.hqhair.com. A 50mL bottle retails for $91.25.


Image of bottle courtesy of hqhair.com. Angelina Jolie courtesy of magazine16.com.



Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hermès Kelly Calèche



Every once in a while, a fragrance sneaks up on me very slowly, very quietly, very subtley and in one fell swoop, one breathless moment of clarity my sensibilities progress from moderate interest to full-blown infatuation. Hermès Kelly Calèche is one of those fragrances. Its release eluded my radar this past summer. When I came upon the atomizer sample in my Sniffapalooza goodie bag just a few weeks ago, I thought, "Hm. Maybe I will like this a little. I have enjoyed Hermès fragrances in the past but have no true loves. Eh. I'll sample tomorrow." So began the slow, quiet and subtle process. Eventually I did sample and that day I experienced the enjoyment to which I alluded, but nothing more. Interestingly, I sampled again the next day. And the next. And the next. That fourth day was when Hermès Kelly Calèche truly inspired me. I finally "got it" - the raison d'être for the fragrance. I had no specific knowledge of the reason, or even the perfumer. I just knew. And I was captivated.

Hermès Kelly Calèche was created by master nose Jean Claude Ellena in honor of Grace Kelly. Her image of iconic style which ultimately inspired the Hermès bag has also inspired this fragrance, in beautiful stacked fashion - the woman inspires the bag inspires the fragrance. He was also inspired by a book called Jean Le Bleu by Jean Giono. It is in knowing these details that the wearer can experience what I did on that fourth day. It was as if I had stuck my nose to the bottom of a very soft leather bag (and for our purposes it is an Hermès). Lingering on the soft leather are very subtle remnants of a beautiful ladies' perfume, a soft floral, perhaps a Chanel. In addition to the perfume remnants there is the smell of lipstick and the scent of the woman who carries the bag. This luxurious combination compels my nose to inhale it over and over on my skin and it leaves a very soft, beautiful trail behind me for others to take notice as well.

I wholeheartedly agree with Robin's break down of the notes here, so rather than repeat what has already so eloquently been said, I will remain quiet on those. This scent is an experience to me. And it is one that I do not want to forget. Hermès Kelly Calèche is so beautiful, so subtly floral, with a smattering of notes that elude to very soft, expensive leather that I would love to wear it to work. For night time I might layer it with a more seductive leather fragrance to multiply that aspect. Santa, if you are reading I would love a full bottle of this delightful, beautiful and exclusive fragrance.


Hermès Kelly Calèche is available at department stores such as Neiman Marcus. A 50mL retails for $75 and 100mL bottle retails for $110.

Ad for Hermès Kelly Calèche courtesy of mimifroufrou.com. Image of Grace Kelly courtesy of google.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bond No. 9 Andy Warhol's Silver Factory


As you may have read from my Fall Ball entries, I had the pleasure of trying this fragrance along with other New York City Sniffapalooza attendees at Bond No. 9. It was exquisitely presented by No. 9's president Laurice Rahme. That day my nose was a little overloaded and what I experienced of Andy Warhol's Silver Factory was all smoky bonfire - perfect for a man, I thought.

As I test it at home with a clean olfactory palette, I am stunned at its sensuous, slightly metallic beauty. I must quote directly from Bond No. 9 because they have done such a superb job at marketing this fragrance.

"We conceived of Silver Factory as a smooth, smoky, spicy blend of interlacing incense (a key scent of the 60's), wood resin, and syrupy, seductive amber. But just to complicate things, we gave it a heart of jasmine, iris, and violet - a scent that Warhol was especially fond of. These slightly dissonant florals combine to evoke a metallic effect - that of warmed-up, molten silver. And then, for the merest hint of coolness, we threw in a handful of cedarwood."

Top Notes: Citrussy Bergamot in soft and gentle mode (as if it had a hangover), impudently zesty Grapefruit, mood-altering Lavender

Middle Notes: Non-shrinking Violet (Andy Warhol's favorite scent), intoxicating Incense summoning up the 60's with a single sniff, criminally sultry Jasmine, elusive, metallic Iris, smelling the way silver might smell

Bottom Notes: Velvety-soft Amber - a tranquilizer in fragrance form, syrupy Wood Resin, hinting of a raunchy breed of vanilla and cool but sensual Cedarwood

The sex appeal inherent in these descriptions is obvious to anyone. The fragrance really lives up to it. Rather than a completely woodsy scent like my first impression, Silver Factory combines warmth and coolness creating a wonderful contrast. The incense, amber, and wood resin abundantly give this fragrance a sensual warmth while the coolness of iris and violet give it the name. If silver had a scent what would it smell like? Cool, for certain. Metallic, yes. Warm and ambery? Probably not. Yet this fragrance was created to be smooth, smoky and a touch spicy. The name can throw you so I highly recommend testing on your skin. If you are anything like me, you will be blown away by its unique and alluring qualities, different from others in the same category such as Satellite Padparadscha (which is all cedarwood) or Bella Bellissima Perfect Night (which has a very similar combination of notes with ginger and vetiver added). I get just a touch of chilly flowers and an abundance of warm, resiny goodness.

The image it evokes consists of a short ride in a Volkswagon van into the woods at sunset. As night falls, Sean Connery and Robert Redford (still in their 30's), and my personal heartthrob, the iconic Benicio Del Toro build a campfire. Over the heat and warmth of the crackling fire, we proceed to have profound and deeply meaningful conversation followed by much laughter and flirtation. Sexually stimulating, retro, warm, inviting and a bit playful describe this evening. And this evening encapsulates the scent of Silver Factory.

The bottle design is impeccably pop culture Warhol, reminiscent of the Campbell's Soup Can silkscreen paintings he produced in 1965.
Much to my delight, and in true Campbell's condensed soup fashion, Bond No. 9 will offer Warhol fragrances as 28 percent perfume concentrates. The bottle pictured arrives in a banded keepsake box with Warhol's signature on the top. I cannot think of one detail that has been overlooked with this remarkably done fragrance. Kudos to Bond No. 9!



Andy Warhol Silver Factory will be available at the four Bond No. 9 New York boutiques, at www.bondno9.com, Saks Fifth Avenue nationwide and at CosBar, Scottsdale, AZ starting December 2007. A 3.4 oz bottle retails for $230.

Image courtesy of Bond No. 9. Warhol painting courtesy of moma.com.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

May your day be blessed and full of love, gratitude, peace and lots of great food. The TMH home is hosting this year and I am looking forward to some fun in the kitchen with my fabulous gourmet husband. I will be wearing Hilary Duff With Love today to compliment the spicy and sweet dishes served. What are you wearing?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Forget Me Not: Creed Royal English Leather

According to Wikipedia, the house of Creed remains the only privately held fragrance company in the world, passed on through generations and creating fragrances for over 247 years. James Henry Creed established the company in 1760 and today it qualifies as the only house that still makes perfumes by hand, using a process called infusion. Today Erwin Creed has developed the popular Love In White and Virgin Island Water.

This past weekend, I was on a quest - a quest to find one of the oldest fragrances still in production. How appropriate that I found myself at the Creed counter, testing and re-testing fragrances that I have been aware of and appreciated from afar for a very long time. When I told Joshua, the very helpful sales associate at Neiman Marcus about Forget Me Not (the monthly piece that Divina of Fragrance Bouquet and I feature), Royal English Leather was the first fragrance he pulled. He told me the story of King George III who commissioned this fragrance in 1781. The king wore Royal English Leather on his gloves to sniff as he walked by the servants of the court, who because they did not bathe frequently smelled quite sour. A charming story, yes. But would the fragrance be stellar?

At one sniff I was transfixed. The combination of highest quality, smooth and supple leather infused with mandarin oil was nearly more than I could handle in front of our friend Joshua. I had to temper my reactions so as not to make a scene. I immediately conjured images of sexy and powerful men donning leather gloves and other accessories, making decisions that would impact an entire nation and kissing the hands of courted women on bended knee. A Mozart concerto and the images I have seen in movies washed over me like a tide as I sniffed this incredible elixir that has stood the test of centuries. (For a more specific visual and audio, click here.) Yes, this evocator of the era of true romance is a keeper alright. And it most certainly should not ever be forgotten.

The notes are quite simple. I have never appreciated leather before Royal English Leather. Perhaps the other leather scents I have tried are not sweet enough or noble enough. The fragrance provides a luxurious combination of high quality leather and sweet citrus or flowers, vaguely reminiscent of violets to my nose. Do not get me wrong, this is no frilly Bois de Violette. Strangely I find it in the same fragrance category as Serge Luten's beautiful violet creation although I cannot put my finger on the cause. Nonetheless, I will forever be changed by this magnificent leathery scent and I do foresee getting a bottle at some point. I am thrilled to take leather off my list of "can't stand" notes and I am grateful to the house of Creed for changing my mind.

Please check out Divina's pick for this month at Fragrance Bouquet.

Creed Royal English Leather is available at Neiman Marcus and various internet discounters. I found an EDT available in 2.5 oz. for $96.50 at fragrancesupplier.com.

Image courtesy of escentual.uk and video from youtube.com.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Liaisons Dangereuses by Kilian typical me


"... the Parisian orgy is a source of pleasure... Bodies slick with sweat, hot with the odours of sexual favours bestowed and received during the night. In line with the 18th-century libertine tradition, these [two] fragrances symbolize transgression, the pleasures of the flesh and defiance of prohibitions and conventions."

With that description if the juice is half-way decent, I am sold! In this case, the juice is more than half-way decent. When I met Kilian Henessy of by Kilian perfumes I was charmed by his looks and impressed by his humility. This former marketing executive of L'Oreal is an heir to the Henessy cognac family and a delightful Frenchman at that. (One sentence pronounced with a heavy French accent and I am intrigued beyond belief and a little hot and bothered.)

I was more than happy to sample these new, mysterious offerings in gorgeous black bottles at Bergdorf Goodman the morning of October 20th. And I found one to take home with me.

Liaisons Dangereuses is an interesting mingling of notes, one for fragrance aficionados since it is not obviously appealing. Rather, this fragrance offers mystery and elicits statements such as "What is that fantastic smell?" I have seen descriptions vary, from one in this month's Allure magazine describing it as plum over oakmoss to this web page that suggests geranium over cinnamon. From what I recall when I tested it, I was moved by heavy fruitiness over just a touch of woods. As I wear this at home (which is usually a more accurate impression), the fragrance begins smelling just slightly of mint to my nose. The mint is mixed with fruit, like a refreshing and uplifting herbal tea. After a full five minutes of the minty-fruity accord, the fragrance dries and it becomes much deeper and slightly animalic, something I would expect from a fragrance meant to evoke the libertine 18th-Century. Plum over oakmoss is not a bad description at all. And yet this fragrance is so much more than that. The geranium slowly enters the olfactory symphony during the heart stage of this fragrance and it dominates the delicately spicy, sweet cinnamon making it almost undetectable. Finally, earthy sandalwood and sensual musk round out the base, amping up the sex appeal to full tilt.

Freedom of sexual expression exemplifies libertine 18th-Century Europe. "If it feels good, do it" sparked a movement that bucked all laws, religions, morals and constraints. Simply no regard for social norms or "good" behavior counter-balanced the religious movements that had previously dominated politics and social behavior. Although libertines could not achieve anything politically due to their radical nature, they certainly brought forth some delicious entertainment. I applaud any fragrance designed to highlight this period of history, the age of one of my favorite painters Caravaggio, the intriguing poet Giambattista Marino and the Casanova, Giovanni Giacomo.

The most impressive facet of the entire By Kilian collection is its packaging. As Mr. Henessy expressed, your personal fragrance is your weapon as you go throughout the day. Thus, each bottle contains an ornate shield design. The gorgeous black bottle fits snugly inside a satin lined black lacquer box which can be locked with a small key that dangles from black tassel. Just superb.

By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses and the entire L'Oeuvre Noire collection are available at Bergdorf Goodman. The refillable bottle sells for $225.

Image courtesy of luxist.com and Casanova courtesy of britannica.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Lea St. Barth Extreme

One of my favorite facets of cooler weather is the luxury of lounging at home, nestling into a comfortable spot in front of the fire wearing cozy, soft clothes and a sweet, comforting fragrance. Lea St. Barth Extreme satisfies this desire perfectly. With colder weather and the holidays upon us, I thought it deserved some recognition.

A richer and more intense version of Lea, Lea Extreme is simply the original formulation of Lea. By comparison, the reformulated Lea resembles an eau de toilette while Lea Extreme resembles a parfum. Ironically, they are both eau de toilettes of identical notes. Yet Lea Extreme interprets those notes in a more exaggerated fashion. They are? Vanilla, almond and musk.

Lea Extreme begins with a heavy dose of sweet almond and vanilla. I feel as if I am making almond cookies as I inhale this rich fragrance. As I add the extracts and flour, the sweet smell of dough wafts from my mixing bowl. When this fragrance dries and softens, I detect a faint amount of espresso or chocolate, both of which make me and my nose very happy. Finally, the fragrance lands on a soft musk base with incredible lasting power on my skin - nearly a full day.

This fragrance's lack of complexity and unembellished coziness has rendered it very popular. To wear Lea Extreme with an elaborately planned ensemble seems very wrong. However, when donning slippers, wrapping a fleece blanket around the shoulders and looking forward to a few hours of relaxation, Lea St. Barth Extreme is the perfect companion.

Lea St. Barth Extreme
is available at luckyscent.com. A 100mL bottle retails for $95. There is a limited number of bottles available.

Images courtesy of gartexmasonrysupply.com and luckyscent.com.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Perfume Tip #4: Layering


I have thought about writing a piece on layering for quite some time and yet it has always eluded me in its complexity. After discovering a most glorious combination this week, I must talk about it now. But first, a little background. There are two factions of perfumistas. Those in favor of layering and those who think it's a shame to the art and a terrible distortion of a perfectly good scent. This perfumista has discovered the joys of layering and found that it has made her perfume collection vastly more interesting! While some may think it's a marketing gimmick to encourage you to buy more, once your perfect combination is discovered those thoughts will fade away quickly.

The house of Jo Malone has done a remarkable job describing the art of layering. Anyone reluctant about this subject should head to their nearest Jo Malone counter and ask to experiment with scents that layer well. In addition, Bond No. 9 encourages it, as does Creed, Memoir Liquide and probably many more of which I am not aware.

Once you start experimenting, scents you had previously dismissed as unwearable for you suddenly become possibilities when softened or enriched by another fragrance. One such example, and the most glorious combination I have tried is L'Aromarine Vanille layered with Jo Malone Pomegranite Noir. My tiny decant of JM Pom. Noir had sat at the bottom of my decant basket and become quite lonely for months. I simply thought it was too dark for me. The Vanille brings it to life, gives it a delicate sweetness and compliments it perfectly for a sweet and spicy holiday scent to remember! Another intriguing combination for the holidays is Ava Luxe Milk over Ava Luxe Madeline. This one is along the same lines as the previous, but a tad bit softer and less spicy. Nonetheless, it is the peeerrrrfect Christmas fragrance, reminding me of all the reasons I love the holiday, mostly the rich fragrances associated with it.

For more ideas, I offer a few scent families that layer well:
  • Vanilla with citrus


  • Musk with florals


  • Gourmand with florals


  • Spices with sweet fragrances

Ultimately, you could utilize every one of your fragrances, even the ones you think you abhor, by layering them. I encourage you to give it a try and I would love to hear the combinations that work well. Starting by layering a complex fragrance with a single note fragrance is recommended. One note of caution, make sure you are near a sink when you start to experiment. You may need to scrub a few before you find the magic combination that encourages you to say, "Aha!"

What are your thoughts on layering? Are there any combinations that you love?

Update 11/30/07: New layering discovery! Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur under Frederic Malle Lipstick Rose is a divine combination of girly, frilly and seductive vixen and it makes MR much more tolerable to me.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

L'Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida 2007



I wanted to smell like a lady yesterday - like a refined, classy woman who takes no prisoners and yet charms most people she encounters. I needed to rise above minor irritants and feel as if I was floating like a leaf on the river of life. I desired to feel good about myself and others. And I longed to keep a little secret as I strode through my day - the secret that I was wearing an exclusive scent made by one of the most prestiged houses on the planet. The scent I chose? Iris Pallida.

I had the pleasure of first trying this scent as I was standing next to Francois Duquesne, President of L'Artisan Parfumeur, and his wife. They are the most lovely people and I did not feel pressured at all to enjoy the scent. But oh, how I did! The melodic opening of Iris Pallida accompanied me on the rough cab ride back to my hotel as I departed New York City. That was my first experience with this fragrance and although it was a stressful moment, that is not what I conjure with this scent at all. Rather I feel it transported me safely through the streets of New York. Now you see why I chose it yesterday.

This unique iris fragrance is rather unlike any other iris I have tested. It is very woodsy and quite dry, not in the least bit sweet. The lack of sweetness became apparent after I tested it alongside the lovely, sweet Serge Lutens Bois de Violette. With Iris Pallida, the notes melt into one another to create a simultaneously soft, gently powdery, and quite woodsy fragrance. The sparkling opening of lily of the valley, violet leaves and orange blossom are wonderful to sniff immediately after spritzing. As the scent dries and remains on the skin, it becomes remarkably darker and richer. Gaïac wood specifically stands out, as does ambrette seed, reminding me of the lovely Chanel No. 18. This iris absolute is smooth and powdery, unlike other bitter or metallic iris scents. Iris Pallida wears beautifully, with a soft and tender base. Its transportive qualities render it, oddly enough, a comfort scent which is undoubtedly due to its symmetry and lack of rough edges. I have come to expect perfection from L'Artisan and I am not in the least disappointed in this one. From top to bottom it stands out from the rest.

The cost does prohibit purchasing. I was fortunate enough to be part of a bottle split and spent a very reasonable amount on my coveted 10mL spray. Nonetheless, I do love the fragrance enough to save my pennies for a full bottle. Hopefully by then it will still be available!


L'Artisan Parfumeur Iris Pallida is available at L'Artisan boutiques and luckyscent.com. It retails for $295 for 100mL.

Images courtesy of fragrantica.com and luckyscent.com.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Perfume for the Occasion: In Times Of Stress

We all have those weeks or days when we feel like we are on a treadmill and cannot get off. Little down time, lots of pressure to perform, a plethora of noise and traffic, demands from children or family and perhaps a bit of conflict thrown into the mix make for very stressful days when a hot bubble bath or a massage seem like the only solution. Even so, making time for the latter can prove challenging. I have been craving a massage for the last week but it has slipped off my priority list every day. Sleep supercedes it! Wouldn't it be grand if we could add a few scents to our collection that would immediately transport us to a different place, erase stress or anxiety and generally make life more bearable? Our thoughts exactly. When Divina of Fragrance Bouquet suggested this topic in the middle of stressful weeks for both of us, I grabbed onto it like an infant clasps an unknown finger. Research has proven that stress reduction can extend your life. Reason enough for me to add a few scents to my collection that will calm and soothe!

Before I describe my top scents for times of stress, I will define what makes these scents stress relievers. Typically, gourmand scents heavy on vanilla comfort and soothe with their warm sweetness, so I have chosen a few in this category. In addition, lavender has long been touted as stress relieving so my list would not be complete without a stellar lavender scent. Every perfumista should have at least one scent to call her own comfort scent, one that may not be obviously comforting but to her is akin to an instant hug. So, one choice is my personal favorite. Additionally, citrus scents have incredible uplifting qualities! With a myriad of citrus scents available, I added my personal favorites that lighten the spirit and in so doing soothe the soul. Finally, no stress relieving list would be complete without a scent reminiscent of the spa. My final choices are meant to evoke the comforting scent of a relaxing day at the spa filled with pampering and rest. Without further ado, here is my list:


  • Etro Heliotrope- From my review which is linked to the left, this scent reminds me of my grandmother's ambrosial kitchen. With its creative blend of orange blossom and vanilla meant to evoke the scent of sunflowers, this scent is not only comforting to me but also to many others.


  • Lea St. Barth - Beautiful, comforting vanilla fragrance with a touch of almond and cream. A warm and cozy scent that is a favorite of many Hollywood celebrities and this non-Hollywood girl.


  • Ava Luxe Milk - When I cannot sleep, I heat up some milk to calm down my mind and lull myself to slumberland. This fragrance is the closest thing to a warm glass of milk I could find. It doesn't sour or overwhelm with sweetness. It simply embraces with light, sweet comfort.


  • Andy Tauer Reverie Au Jardin - Prior to Andy Tauer's creation, which was described by a few as a fresh take on lavender, I abhored the idea of a lavender fragrance. With the abundance of lavender scented toiletries, drawer liners, pillow mists and such on the market, why would I want to remind myself or anyone else of the gazillion-jillion lavender potboilers? Well my friends, there is lavender to make a buck and then ... there is this ... stunning fragrance. At first sniff, my impression was a very beautiful, soft floral and herbal fragrance. What a difference natural ingredients make! This fragrance is perfect for any stressful occasion and just gorgeous for any day.


  • Chanel Bois Des Iles- My personal comfort scent. The top of ylang-ylang and heart that smells faintly of gingerbread with almond is my idyllic soothing fragrance.


  • Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien - A wonderful citrus scent that appropriately reminds me of a day at the spa. With cypress, spices and citrus, it uplifts and calms the mind.


  • i Profumi di Firenze Limone di Sicilia - A happy and uplifting scent, this fragrance pays homage to the incredible lemons of Sicily. Wear it for an easy smile and a more positive attitude.


  • Borghese Profumo di Montecatini Natural Spa Perfume - Meant to evoke the scents and emotions of a day at the spa, this indulgent scent combines warm florals with woods, botanicals and stimulating minerals, including an intriguing elemi oil accord. A scented body spray to be applied with abandon, this fragrance also provides excellent hydration to the skin.


  • Clarins Eau Tranquility - Another light fragrance to evoke images of spa days. Any fragrance that is strong would not be spa-worthy! Eau Tranquility is delicately scented with basil, iris, cedar and benzoin and has wonderful calming and relaxing qualities.

  • While all of these fragrances can calm and/or lift your mood, the healthcare worker in me must emphasize the damaging effects stress can have on your health. During stressful periods, take time to stretch and relax, even if it is only for five minutes. I love having a hot cup of Aveda Comfort Tea at the end of a stressful day while playing some calming music. Making time for exercise can also decrease your stress dramatically. Put it all together and you will have a happier, healthier outlook. Enjoy!

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    My Unintentional Absence

    Hello dear readers! I apologize for my absence which I suddenly realized this morning has been almost an entire week. Recuperating from New York, celebrating my 1st Wedding Anniversary and having back-to-back arduous work days has left me feeling completely disconnected from all of you and my perfume and sample collection. Please bear with me as I attempt to reconnect! I will be back shortly with a review of one of my many samples from New York.

    Have a wonderful day!

    Wednesday, October 24, 2007

    Fall Ball Part II


    As if Saturday were not plentiful enough in sights, sounds and smells, Sunday offered an abundant array as well. I only wish I had been able to enjoy the entire day, but catching a flight home cut my day short. However, the highlights I experienced were the following:

    Bond No. 9

    This was by far my favorite shopping experience of the trip. The artistic store, the helpful sales associates and their willingness to cater to my needs was tough to beat. I felt as if I could spend hours there without concern for over-stepping my welcome. I also discovered some incredible scent combinations, with the help of my perfumista friends and the sales associates. I had no idea blending these fragrances could be so swoon-worthy!

    • New scent discoveries include Saks For Her, Fashion Avenue, New York Fling, Chelsea Flowers (which I had previously dismissed), and the new deeply rich and resinous Andy Warhol Silver Factory. The newest Andy Warhol fragrance was presented by the delightful Laurice Rahm, founder of Bond No. 9.

    • New scent combination of fragrances I already love: Scent of Peace over Chinatown (!!!)

    • Another incredible combination worth investigating: Saks for Him over Saks for Her. Yes, I meant that.

    • My infatuation with West Side has only been augmented by the availability of a positively luxurious body cream which perfectly softens the skin and makes the scent last!

    • This store was extremely generous with their gift package. They understand the needs and desires of their clientele and it was obvious they prepared for us! I could not be happier and I anticipate reviewing many more of these chic fragrances.

    Le Labo

    My experience here was marginal at best simply because it was so crowded when I arrived. I had no guidance regarding their fragrances and I felt overwhelmed. However, despite this I did discover a wonderful fragrance, Tubereuse 40. I am intrigued and I would love to learn more about these fragrances, just not when I am competing with 30 other perfumistas.


    Lafco

    Santa Maria Novella, Lorenzo Villoresi and Eau d'Italie were all offered at this beautiful, fragrant store. The space and location in the heart of SoHo make this store truly inspiring. Unfortunately I was not able to find a fragrance I truly loved here, but I did sample some nice scents, including the powdery soft Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige, the herbal Lorenzo Villoresi Spezie and the fruity Santa Maria Novella Melograno.

    Lunch at Country Cafe

    • Sitting with my wonderful friends Linda and Rob and enjoying the gorgeous New York sunshine on a beautiful fall day.

    • Hearing from Debra Courtright at Floris of London (which I need to explore further!), Francois Duquesne at L'Artisan and Raphaella, editor of Sniffapalooza Magazine. Raphaella is positively one of the kindest and most sincere people I know! And I adore the CD of songs of scent that I won in the raffle.

    • I am interested in L'Artisan Perfumeur's new home fragrance gadget, Chez Moi, after listening to Mr. Duquesne and his beautiful wife describe its ability to safely and fully fragrance the home.

    L'Artisan Perfumeur

    My last and most appropriate stop was at L'Artisan across from Country Cafe to experience the new 2007 Orange Blossom and 2007 Iris Palladia. I enjoyed them both and found the Orange Blossom especially beautiful and sweeter than the previous edition. I also tested various other fragrances and spoke with Mr. Duquesne, his wife and the helpful Michelle. They are lovely people and I only wish I could shop at this store more often and stop by the other store to see Colombina!

    There you have it my fragrance friends. What an incredible weekend it was! If only I could go back in a few weeks and do it all over again. I am sure I am not alone in that sentiment.

    Image of interior of Bond No. 9 store courtesy of basenotes.net

    Monday, October 22, 2007

    Fall Ball Part I



    Ahem! Well ...

    Here I am back in the valley of the sun and so jet lagged I feel like the walking dead. However, any discomfort I am experiencing now is a small price to pay for the incredible experience I had in New York City. What a fabulous weekend Karen D. and Karen A. managed to put together! Because each day was chock full of noteworthy (heh!) moments, I will offer up some of the best via bullet points. Without further ado, here they are:

    Bergdorf Goodman

    • Meeting the illustrious Aurelien Guichard, creator of Bond No. 9 Chinatown and the new offering from Piguet, Visa
    • Meeting Antonia Ballanca of Antonia's Flowers
    • Discussing one of my favorite houses, Annick Goutal, with their charming representative Tom Crutchfield
    • Listening to Neil Morris describe his love of Tom Ford's Purple Patchouli
    • Discovering the new Kilian fragrances and falling in love with them
    • Other discoveries included Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille, Etro Magot, Etro Vicolo Fiore
    • Scents further explored and liked included Chanel Bois des Iles (Oh, how I wish I could get a smaller bottle of this than the gargantuan EDT!), Annick Goutal Mandragore, Annick Goutal Passion
    • Meeting my dear friend Chaya Ruchama face-to-face

    Lunch at Seppi's

    • Meeting sweet, fun and fabulous new perfumista friends Azjavagirl, My3sons, R. and L. and seeing Rbrewer!
    • New offerings from Crazy Libellule and the Poppies
    • Discussion from Chandler Burr on his new book The Perfect Scent
    • Neil Morris' discussion of his new scents Storm and Coral

    Takashimaya

    • Sniffing offerings from Yosh in wine glasses - discoveries included Winter Rose and Ginger Ciao
    • Speaking with owner and perfumer of Ineke perfumes and experiencing her unique A, B, C and D fragrances
    • Meeting Estesmcc in person, an angel of kindness who sent me a fabulous package overflowing with perfume last spring!
    • Listening to owner of 06130 and experiencing Feuille de Reglisse, Lentisque and Lierre Rose, all created by Jacques Chabert and meant to evoke the scents of Mediterranean flowers
    • Red Velvet cupcakes from Sunshine bakery
    • Meeting owner of Summerscent perfume and experiencing her exquisite fragrance
    • Sampling Detaille, Fragonard and Sage lines!

    Henri Bendel

    • Experiencing L'Artisan Jour de Fete sprayed onto my skin rather than dabbed with my tiny sample
    • Memoire Liquide!!!! Remember my review of Voleur? (see it here) I expressed intrigue in exploring the line further and wow, did I get my fill along with many others! This unique line calls to the creative nose in everyone by allowing the customer to come up with their own blend of two or three fragrances. After nearly an hour experimenting, I chose Enfant Innocent and Ivoire for a beautiful, soft, skin musk fragrance.

    All of this activity was followed by drinks at the top of the Peninsula Hotel with my fantastic new friends! Cheers!

    I will continue tomorrow with details regarding Sunday. If you can believe it, Sunday was just as packed with glorious sights and smells!