Saturday, March 31, 2007

Excellent Secret Books

A few "secret" reads I have thoroughly enjoyed recently:

  • Secret of Scent, Luca Turin - nonfiction - A biochemist delves into the history of perfume and our sense of smell. Extremely interesting, thought provoking, humorous and scientific.

  • The Secret, Rhonda Byrne - nonfiction - Discover the power of the Law of Attraction and how it can change your life. Learn how to focus your thoughts to attract to you those things that you desire.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien

Created in 2003 to be worn by men and women alike, Annick Goutal Les Nuits d’Hadrien remains one of the most consistent scents in my collection. I always enjoy it from start to finish. For me to say “always” about a scent is nothing to take lightly, for I recycle my samples and decants like a child eats candy. You could say I have a mild case of attention deficit when it comes to fragrance. Therefore, consistently enjoying a scent for years remains an accomplishment in my book and speaks of a marvelously composed fragrance. To continue with my use of absolutes, Les Nuits d’Hadrien is never offensive and always refreshing.

The first burst of fragrance screams green basil and lemon rinds, fresh and bitter at the same time, not quite edible but very refreshing, like a mist of lemon water on a squelching, hot day. Characterizing the heart of the fragrance and warming it up significantly, cumin makes its appearance shortly after the refreshing citrus burst. Other heart notes include cypress and juniper, explaining why I never quite feel as if I’m wearing perfume with this one. Rather, I feel as if I am walking around with a self-attached herbal mister to exhilarate and restore my energy – perfect for the oppressively hot climate where I reside. To balance and soften the aromatic stimulation, vanilla, amber and white musk offer an exquisite dry down which lasts on my skin for the remainder of the day.

Les Nuits d’Hadrien reminds me of a day at the spa. I imagine wrapping myself up in a cozy robe and slippers, sipping cucumber and lemon water and flipping through fashion magazines while waiting for a long session with a professional masseuse. After my massage, I get dressed in a brightly colored bikini, apply suntan lotion and relax by the pool for the remainder of the day. Just when I feel that I am getting too warm from the heat of the sun, I dive into the cool, crisp water for a swim. Finally, after achieving total relaxation, I take a warm shower and don a playful summer dress with flip flops to go to the park on my way home.

This fragrance achieves the perfect balance of refreshing and warm, aromatic and soft, and sweet and spicy. Despite its name and reference to nightfall, it is perfect for daytime wear. I consider it not only bottle worthy but barrel worthy and I reserve it for those days when work and activity require a respite. I find it entirely worth the wait … always …

Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien can be found online at and in stores at Neiman Marcus. A 1.7 oz. EDT retails for $72 online.

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Monday, March 26, 2007


Dear readers, most of you know perfume is my passion, not my occupation. Tuesday through Thursday of this week my occupation is monopolizing my time. At least it allows me to reward myself with a new scent! I’ll have to postpone some reviews for later in the week and this weekend. Please stay tuned. I plan to review some fabulous spring scents, including Annick Goutal Les Nuits d’Hadrien and The Different Company Un Parfum d’Ailleurs & Fleurs. In the meantime, thanks for your support and have a great few days.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Keiko Mecheri Myrrhe & Merveilles

With spring and warmer weather upon us, I realize that I may be bold in speaking about a fragrance containing myrrh, however I am so moved by this stellar bouquet I must discuss it. Thanks to the lovely, generous woman who gifted me with this sample, I am thoroughly enjoying its nuances today.

The Beverly Hills based house of Keiko Mecheri is considered exquisite and unique, and her Eaux des Parfums refined, unusual and original. Until now, my favorite of her collection has been Osmanthus, a delicate soli-floral. I had not heard of her Oriental collection although I had tried, without luck, the ever so popular member of Les Orientales, Loukhoum. Myrrhe & Merveilles, another Les Orientales, contains notes of, you guessed it … myrrh … followed by hesperides, jasmine, white almond, balsamic notes, and powdery musk. Although myrrh is somewhat pronounced just after spraying, it does not headline the experience. Therefore, I am confused by the comparisons I have read to Serge Lutens La Myrrhe since I do not find the two resembling each other at all. Instead, what I have found in Myrrhe & Merveilles is an incredibly soft, billowy cushion of a scent, redolent of baby’s skin, cotton throws and the scent of earth after a light rain shower.

The entire composition is slightly heavy so I will not keep it in rotation for summer. The almonds render it faintly sweet but balsam and musk maintain sweetness to just a whisper. Gourmand fragrances historically have caused some wrinkling of my nose in disdain. I find this one, with its abundance of almonds, quite palatable yet I would not categorize Myrrhe & Merveilles as gourmand. Come to think of it, I am having difficulty categorizing it at all. Nonetheless, for a cozy day at home resting and preparing food, Myrrhe & Merveilles is quite perfectly comfy. I imagine this fragrance to be popular among those favoring unique, soft skin scents.

Keiko Mecheri Myrrhe & Merveilles is available on and A 2.5 oz. bottle retails for $80.

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Perfume Tip #2


Believe it or not, no magic formula exists for applying fragrances. My personal opinion is to apply wherever you feel comfortable. I usually spritz on my wrists and the back of my neck. When wearing fragrance oils, I rub the oil between my palms and then run my palms through my hair. A handy trick for applying a scent you think may be too strong for your environment is to spritz behind your knees. To extend wearing time of any fragrance, purchase the bath and body products that accompany it and use them. Layering may temporarily strengthen the scent, however over time it will soften and last. If the scent you love does not carry bath and body products, as in very exclusive fragrances, decant some of the fragrance into a small atomizer to carry with you. You can purchase atomizers at Sephora and other beauty stores. I adore the following website: Their customer service is fantastic and you will find just about everything you need there for decanting. Spritz whenever you feel you need freshening. Finally, my personal belief is that if I can smell myself without putting my nose to my wrist, others are probably well aware of my scent. Please try to be responsible with spritzing so you don't overwhelm those around you. In my opinion, subtlety is bliss.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Parfums Andre Gas Ensoleille Moi

Expansive secluded beaches, white sand, blue skies, crashing waves, warm temperatures and suntan oil - all of the images I anticipated conjuring through this fragrance. Created by Mathilde Laurent, the nose of Guerlain for ten years and now the nose of Cartier, Ensoleille Moi is described as sunshine in a bottle and a "sunny floral". This fragrance was designed to be a more sophisticated monoi oil, a widely available suntan oil in Europe featuring the Tahitian Tiare flower. I adore the Tiare flower and other scents created in its honor such as Comptoir Sud Pacifique's Aloha Tiare and Montale Intense Tiare. The tiare flower's true scent can be described as hypnotic, sweet, heavy and indeed tropical.

While the initial burst of tiare, a little citrus and a slight hint of coconut is pleasurable enough, its promise of more sunshine and beaches is broken as the fragrance dries. What I am left with is a dusty, earthy smelling tiare, as if the flower itself has disintegrated into dust and blown away, or worse yet, has been buried by the earth from which it grew. Ensoleille Moi possesses none of the headiness or intensity of other tiare fragrances. I imagine those liking "barely there" scents could enjoy this, but for my tastes, the fragrance is simply too short-lived and undetectable. Unfortunately, it remains a disappointment in my book.
Top notes: Bergamot, tiare
Heart: Ylang-ylang, coconut
Base: Vanilla, white musk

Parfums Andre Gas Ensoleille Moi is available at A 50mL bottle retails for $65.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Satellite Padparadscha

Named after a rare orange-pink sapphire, Satellite Padparadscha accompanied me during my day of air travel to see my grandmother. As I grabbed the sample bag to stash into my purse on my way out, I thought, “I hope this is a gem.” How appropriate that statement proved and how incredibly ironic Padparadscha is the fragrance I chose - ironic because I have many samples to choose from. This rare beauty exemplifies the gorgeous soul of my grandmother.

Simultaneously woodsy, comforting and soft, the fragrance begins with a burst of juniper berry, pepper and cedar. I am reminded of walking into a cedar closet. Ideally it would be in my grandmother’s home but she never had the means for one. If she had, she most certainly would have enjoyed and reveled in the absolute luxury of it. Her spirit is so joyful and child-like, extremely appreciative of the tiniest bit of beauty and luxury. The softness of this fragrance is enhanced by jasmine, like my grandmother’s warm arms that served to love and comfort me through nearly every major moment in my young life, at least every moment she could. The best of the comfort remains in the woodsy dry down, containing notes of cedar, sandalwood and amber, conjuring for me a warm hug, a soft cookie and a sweet home.

Perhaps most appropriate is Beautyhabit’s description of Padparadscha, “a fragrance that brings to mind … exotic destinations, secret gardens – and the beauty and strength of the feminine.” Exotic destinations? My grandmother adores traveling and has had the pleasure of exploring Paris and the French countryside with her French sister-in-law, as well as the beauty and exquisite landscape of Greece. Never one to shun an opportunity to explore or learn something new, I imagine she has oft thought of other exotic destinations. Her love of gardening, birds and flowers is clearly demonstrated by her sanctuary of a back yard, complete with various bird baths, flower beds and wind chimes. Her tulips are in bloom now and she's waiting for irises and lillies.

Most importantly, my grandmother’s internal strength and beauty as well as her external beauty emanates from her being. I could write novels of her inner strength, her glowing personality, her natural ageless beauty and her ability to see the good in even the worst of situations. She will always represent a strength and beauty to which I aspire and an exquisite combination of curiosity and love of all living things. In just a few short hours, I will be with her, and Padparadscha will be my fragrance.

Satellite Padparadscha is available at and A 100mL bottle retails for $75.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Me, my beautiful grandmother and my gorgeous mother.

Family illness calls me to board a plane headed back to my hometown for several days. I will post when I can. Thank goodness for air travel, I can be at my beloved grandmother's side quickly. For those of you who pray, please do so for her. She has inspired my love of beautiful things.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Susanne Lang Lotus Blossom

Susanne Lang has dedicated herself to creating perfumes which represent women’s beauty and uniqueness. She aspires to subtle beauty with her scents and describes it as “an elusive quality that often lives in the veils of a woman’s presence, but also within the lingering aura of her absence” -how elegantly stated. Therefore, it is no wonder “elegant” is the word I would use to describe each scent she has created.

From her layering wardrobe, today’s pick is Lotus Blossom 41. With delicate notes of pink lotus, ginger lily, Tahitian gardenia, yellow freesia and peach blossom, the fragrance opens with a lovely bouquet. The notes dance around one another rapidly, without one standing on its own, creating a fresh, breezy fragrance that could be worn to work or to a night on the town. The scent remains fairly linear after it dries, maintaining that same delicate balance from start to finish. Because the scent lacks a deep and grounding base note, it remains somewhat transparent. And yet, transparency makes it the charming, light and feminine scent it aspires to be.

Susanne Lang suggests layering her fragrances, and just for kicks I decided to layer Lotus Blossom per her suggestion with the earthy Tamboti Wood 61. This combination is wonderfully divine, as the cedar and sandalwood provide an ample foundation for Lotus Blossom to shine. It produces a deeper yet still luminous, feminine scent. For those favoring woodsy scents but looking for a great springtime fragrance, Lotus Blossom over Tamboti Wood must be tried!

Susanne Lang Lotus Blossom and Tamboti Wood are available at and A 30mL bottle retails for $50.
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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil

I adore the name the name of this fragrance. It instantly calms me when I say it. Meaning literally “A garden on the Nile”, Un Jardin Sur Le Nil was inspired by mangos from the Nubian region of Egypt, located along the Nile River. The Nile has been a source of fertility and prosperity for this region since ancient times. It is no wonder the fragrance named to memorialize the area is a wonderful masterpiece.

The fragrance begins with a bitter burst of citrus – to my nose grapefruit – followed by lime and leading to the listed note, green mango. Less sweet than tangy, these notes refresh and revitalize. Once the tangy bitterness fades, a green, fresh fragrance remains, like crushed stems drizzled with lemon juice. Although the notes listed are green mango, lotus flower, aromatic rushes (??), incense, and sycamore wood, I detect only green with some very light wood. This illustrious combination remains on my skin for the remainder of the day - quite impressive for an EDT.

I purchased a decant from a great seller on e-b@y and it is quickly dwindling to the last few drops. I find this fragrance so balmy that I subconsciously grab it every time the thermometer rises or I wear green. Others must feel refreshed as well since this beauty is complimented repeatedly. No wonder Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil was my choice for St. Patrick’s Day weekend!

Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil is widely available online and at upscale department stores. At, for example, a 3.3 oz. EDT spray retails for $49.95.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In honor of one of my favorite days of the year, I am wearing Hermes Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, a very green scent. Review is on its way! What green scent are you sporting today? May the luck of the Irish be with you today and every day.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Geir Ness Laila

Produced by Geir Ness, a Norwegian fragrance model turned perfumer, Laila captures the essence of fresh mountain wildflowers of Norway. Mr. Ness’s story is truly inspiring, for he poured his heart and soul into creating this fragrance to appropriately represent his country and his mother. In fact, the fragrance takes his mother’s namesake with her signature silk screened on the bottle.

The notes, according to include Norwegian lilies, hints of watermelon and Norwegian snowflower. Having never smelled Norwegian lilies or Norwegian sunflower, I am reluctant to comment on those. “A hint of watermelon” seems quite accurate since the scent is not overly sweet or juicy, but watermelon is there nonetheless. The effect is fresh and soft, like newly laundered sheets dried by pure spring air.

Laila would be appropriate for a first date, an afternoon tea or an outdoor party. Mr. TMH says it smells like the fourth of July! What an American connotation for a Norwegian fragrance but I’ll take it. The fourth of July implies outdoor parties, lounging in wicker chairs, and eating fresh watermelon for certain. What a perfect fit for such a breezy, innocently feminine fragrance. I would add some flowers in my hair to accompany Laila on my skin, fourth of July or not.

Laila is available at and A 1.7 oz. bottle retails for $49 and the line includes many accessories, such as candles, hand and body cream and deodorant.
Image source:, Norwegian lily

Body Cream Drawing Winner!

I am pleased to announce:


You are the winner of the sampler set of body creams! Please e-mail me with your address and have a wonderful day.

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Perfume Tip #1


You know which are the three usual suspects that reduce perfume shelf life? Light, heat and humidity. My best suggestion? Store your fragrance bottles in the box they came in, in a cool, dark, dry place. If you do this, your chances of owning beautiful fragrances for many years increase dramatically. Just think of those precious bottles as vampires. They cannot see the light of the sun.

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Zenadora Paris

Balsamic. Feminine. Sensual. Spicy. All of these adjectives correctly describe the diamond in the rough scent I present to you today, Zenadora Paris. A highly resinous blend, seven of the nine notes in Zenadora offer some reference to trees and plants. The notes include elemi (resin from trees), rose petals, raspberry, incense, patchouli, Guaiac wood, cistus (evergreen shrub), myrrh and benzoin. The result produces an amber-like, sensual, slightly spicy scent that vaguely reminds me of the fabulous carnation wonder Caron Bellodgia. Zenadora, however, is less sweet and slightly drier, definitely in a class all its own. The rose petals and raspberry add interest and curves to the wood composition, denoting sensuality and feminity.

I find it very wearable. Interestingly, resinous scents always scream “dressier occasions” to me, those moments when I want to make a statement and be noticed, not only with what I am wearing but also with my scent. I picture Zenadora on a stylish, edgy woman, one who is not afraid to buck trends or flow with them and who is comfortable with being a unique individual.

This fragrance does stay fairly close to the skin when dabbed and I imagine when sprayed it will be glorious. For those who like spicy, floral oriental scents, Zenadora is a must try!

Zenadora Paris EDP is available at A 100mL bottle retails for $95.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Body Cream Drawing

Because I have an abundance of fragranced body creams that are just too good not to share, please enter your name for a drawing of generous samples of the following:
  • Chanel No. 5 Body Cream
  • Tocca Cleopatra Body Cream
  • Creative Scentualization Perfect Nectar Body Cream
  • Creative Scentualization Perfect Gardenia Body Cream
  • Jo Malone Blue Agave & Cacao Body Cream
  • Annick Goutal Songes Body Lotion

I will pick a name randomly from entries and announce the winner Friday, March 16th! All samples will be sanitary, I promise. (I'm a germophobe too.) May the best perfumista win.

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Crazy Libellule Solid Perfume

Every once in a while I stumble upon something that is so smart, so hip and so convenient, I say to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?" Shanghaijava Crazy Libellule and the Poppies solid perfumes, as featured in this month's Lucky magazine, are the smartest little thing I've seen in a while. In lipstick-sized tubes decorated with colorful paper, they offer a fantastic way to avoid spills and mishaps while traveling and still smell good! And the name, although lengthy, is too cute for words! Choices:

Ananas Imperial - citrus and cedar

Lilas Spiritual - spicy lily and lilac

Blue Orchidee - crisp Asian floral

Encens Mystic - clove, incense and patchouli blend (among other notes)

Ginger & Coconut - spicy, exotic

Litchi Blossom - litchi, geranium, rose and musk

At just $16 per tube, sold on, and imported from Paris, these may just be the next cool thing to add to your collections, fragrance aficionados.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Frederic Malle Carnal Flower

"Tuberose perfection. Absolutely gorgeous and not one that I thought I would like. In fact, I ordered it as a gift only to find out the person I bought it for no longer wanted it. So I tested. It blew me away so much I bought a full bottle. I've never spent this much on one bottle of perfume but it is so worth it. Carnal Flower has a very creamy quality to it that I can't explain. I always feel classy and elegant when I wear it. Wearing it with sweats would somehow be very wrong. It requires sophistication. No more than one spritz is necessary as it's made from the finest ingredients."

This is what I wrote about Carnal Flower nearly one year ago, prior to creating my blog and discussing fragrance every day. Ironically, the same words still apply. I will add that the top notes are very green, like crushed stems, and the overall composition evokes the sounds of a beautifully composed symphony featuring, at different times, tuberose, jasmine, coconut and musk. Carnal Flower is extremely persistent on my skin, lasting the entire day. The only season I cannot wear this is during summer as it is a little too heady. Very sophisticated, very womanly (despite being worn by men also) and very full bottle worthy. Funny thing. I ordered that full bottle before I made it through the decant I purchased! Sometimes my love of fragrance creates hoarding. In this case, I am not ashamed.

Carnal Flower can be purchased at elite department stores and at 50mL spray retails for 125€.

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Monday, March 12, 2007


Work deadlines have me buried and tired. I'll be back tomorrow with another review! In the meantime, I am wearing Serge Lutens Un Lys. What are you wearing today?

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Annick Goutal Mandragore

Created by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen and inspired by the mandrake plant, Mandragore was launched as a unisex fragrance by Annick Goutal in 2005. I can honestly say I believe Annick Goutal to be my favorite perfume house. I have not tried one scent I find utterly un-wearable, including the heady frangipani-laden Songes, the happy ode to peonies Quel Amour and the mysterious citrus combination Les Nuits d’Hadrien. Therefore I anticipated finding another love in Mandragore, described as “rare and subtly vibrant” on Annick Goutal's website.

I must preface by saying that I tried this fragrance in the EDT formulation. I have found Annick Goutal’s fragrances to be best enjoyed in the EDP, due to their use of natural ingredients. Therefore, my review may be somewhat uh … watered down by that fact. The mandrake plant itself has inspired legends, spells, witchcraft and even a play by the re-known womanizer and Florentine politician, Machiavelli. The bottle design evokes mystery, masculinity and power. Combined, these facts certainly promise a bold, spicy, mysterious scent.

The top notes burst forth quickly, of which bergamot stands out for the first full minute. Eventually the star anise and ginger become detectable but very faintly so. They never quite blend to create a distinct aura but rather intrigue the wearer enough to wait for the heart and dry down. The second phase is a minty, tea-like aroma, unexpected and on my skin smelling slightly similar to burnt rubber; certainly not an ambiance I aspire to unless I’m playing the part of Cha Cha in Grease. At the base the powdery mandrake appears with a tiny bit of ginger. To me, this is the most interesting aspect of the fragrance but it requires continual sniffing of my wrist. Definitely not the bold, brazen and masculine blend I anticipated.

Overall, Mandragore is pleasant, more feminine than I expected, unique and interesting. I can still adhere to my first statement regarding Annick Goutal’s scents. I do not find Mandragore un-wearable at all. It is charming, in a weird sort of way, like the mandrake itself. If you like your scents very close to the skin, this one is for you. And despite the murky, mysterious bottle design, Mandragore will be enjoyed most by those wanting a transparent scent during warm summer days.

Annick Goutal Mandragore is available at Saks, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and other distinct deparment stores. It is also widely available online. 3.4 oz. EDT retails for $99.

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Nyakio Bath and Body

Ever in the search for organic bath and body products that are natural, beneficial and healing to my skin while avoiding interference with my choice of scent for the day, I am pleased to announce another discovery at the LA Sniffapalooza, Nyakio. Founded by Kio Kamoche, a first generation American of Kenyan descent, Nyakio products aim to provide therapy to the skin and share time tested skin secrets. Kenyan cuisine often combines sweet with spicy therefore most of the formulas in this line do the same, resulting in amazing products that don’t overwhelm the nose.

A few of my favorites:

Grapefruit Tarragon Body Crème

I use this daily on my hands and find it softens without greasiness and its uplifting scent is light enough to avoid competition with my chosen fragrance of the day.

Grape, Eucalyptus and Sugar Body Scrub
Sugar is the ideal exfoliant for my sensitive skin and this product goes on easily and washes off cleanly while the scent is invigorating.

Need to try:

Coffee and Sugar Body Scrub (yum!)

Raspberry Basil Body Crème

I have no need to shop at Bath and Body Works ever again. Allelujah!

Nyakio is available at Apothia, and Grapefruit Tarragon Body Crème retails for $33 for 7 oz. and a generous 18 oz. Grape, Eucalyptus and Sugar Body Scrub retails for $49.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

L'Artisan Ananas Fizz

I had the extraordinary privilege, along with many of my fragrance friends, to hear Francois Duquense speak at the LA Sniffapalooza. Monsieur Duquense accepted the position of US President and Board Member at L’Artisan Parfumeur Worldwide in August 2004. He has quickly become quite the beauty mogul, since taking on President of Erno Laszlo and North American President and Member of the Board Worldwide for Penhaligon’s. Most noteworthy, however, is how quickly he turned around L’Artisan Perfumeur’s lagging sales, nearly doubling them in merely one year. A portion of that time was the year that Ananas Fizz was released, 2004.

What impressed me most about M. Duquense’s discussion was the following paraphrased statement, “Give the power back to the perfumer and take it away from the marketing department.” The waters can get muddied and the scents uninteresting when dollar signs are at the helm of the ship. Thank goodness for dedication to the art of perfumery. In addition, I remain inspired by his acknowledgement that the choice of scent is very personal. These ideas and their implementation create a marvelous perfume house that continues to create innovative, interesting and artistic scents. One of them is the cocktail in a bottle production Ananas Fizz.

The fragrance is built around and inspired by the Victorian pineapple, the smallest, rarest and most charming of all pineapples. At the top of the fragrance, a burst of pink grapefruit and bitter orange ignite the senses immediately. The fruit is not sweet, but tart and eye opening. As these notes quickly dissipate, almost too quickly because of their refreshing quality, the Victorian pineapple is revealed as when a tide delivers an unexpected treasure. The pineapple smells not of drenched pineapples in artificial corn syrup, but rather fresh pineapple combined with a trifle vanilla. Other notes include lychee sap, rum and creamy cocoa milk. The result creates a light, airy, luminous scent the transports the wearer to an island vacation.

Unfortunately, the vacation is quite short. After asking the L’Artisan representative at Apothia why it disappears so quickly, I was told it is due to the small molecules comprising the fragrance. I would imagine layering with the luscious body crème would help and I plan to try it soon, after I save my pennies for a bit. Incidentally, L'Artisan's body care line contains 100% natural and 95% organic ingredients. Despite its short duration, Ananas Fizz will accompany me during the insipid, arid summer days that endure far too long where I live. I will just carry a small decant with me to re-spritz!

L'Artisan Ananas Fizz can be purchased at, 3.4 oz. EDT retails for $125 and 6.8 oz. body cream retails for $80.

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Thursday, March 08, 2007

Tocca Florence

Named after the fourth largest city in Italy re-known for its art and architecture, Tocca Florence beautifully defines femininity. The city of Florence can be described as intellectual, artistic, spiritual, cultured, charismatic, collected and well-spoken. In thinking about the plethora of notable figures who contributed to Italian history such as the Medici family, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Florence Nightingale, all of whom resided in Florence, it is no wonder Tocca created a fragrance dedicated to this majestic city.

Tocca Florence is the epitome of a civilized and luxurious tea at a posh hotel with a view. Ladies in frilly dresses abound wearing large hats and dressy sandals who speak about literature, culture and art. With notes of Italian bergamot, blue iris, crushed violet petals and blonde wood, Tocca Florence is utterly wearable, completely sophisticated and undeniably frou-frou. Not to be worn for those who abhor smelling girly, the notes merge to create a fragrance that is slightly sweet, mostly floral and somewhat fruity but not overly so. Its sillage is quite adequate as I have noticed the scent garners compliments every time I wear it.

If for no other reason than to own the gorgeous bottle, I highly recommend purchasing Tocca Florence. The Eau de Parfum comes alive when combined with the lightly scented body lotion, a magical blend of Centifolia, the old European garden rose, and root of the iris or orris root.

Tocca Florence can be purchased at or, 1.7 fl oz. retails for $68. The body lotion or Crema de Corpo is available at, 8 0z. for $28.
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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bond No. 9 Chinatown

I present the most popular fragrance of the Bond No. 9 collection, the house that builds a sensory homage to New York City: Chinatown. The fragrance is said by many to evoke images and scents of small, kitschy shops in Chinatown. What Bond No. 9’s website suggests is a contrast/comparison between China and New York. My theory is the fragrance studies contrasts, their tendency to merge and to form a creative, magnificent blend. The nature of contrasting and comparing elements pushes us to find what makes each different and unique and to find what they might have in common. Therefore, Chinatown generously gives us food for thought.

The burst of peach blossom opening Chinatown suggests power, prestige and cachet. According to Chinese Mythology, Taoists revere peach blossom as the elixir of life. This note awakens and arouses the senses powerfully. Not only is peach blossom redolent of New York City and its constant buzzing of activity, but also the power of China in its people, great thinkers and enduring culture. The mid notes include peony, gardenia and tuberose. Upon researching their symbols the contrasts of these flowers become evident. Peony represents love and luxury in Chinese culture, while gardenia symbolizes love, joy and happiness within American culture. Tuberose presents a multi-cultural symbol of sultriness, sexiness and dangerous pleasures. Ooh la-la! The combination forms an intoxicating accord that contrasts sweet with sultry and meets somewhere in the middle.

Continuing the yin yang theme, Chinatown’s base notes include patchouli, cardamom and dark woods. Patchouli adds some sharpness to the floral blend for interest, as cardamom grounds it. Cardamom has been utilized by the Chinese in food and spiritual ceremonies for over 5000 years due to its medicinal properties. The symbolism therefore is obvious. Cardamom provides a terrific contrast to the sweet, sultry floral heart. Finally, the intermingling dark woods (cedarwood and guaiac) recall intricate, artistic Chinese woodwork, specifically inlaid boxes. They also recall the resilience and power of New York City.

The common bond of all these contrasting elements produces a fragrance that is at once sweet, powdery, spicy, powerful and soft. Do you find this difficult to imagine? If you have not yet tried Chinatown, you must. It has become the holy grail scent for countless perfumistas. For my local friends, you will not find many others wearing this scent due to its lack of mass marketing, rendering it über distinct and prestigious, exactly the image projected by New York City itself.

Chinatown is available at, Saks Fifth Avenue and other select department stores.
50mL retails for $120 and fragrancesandmore offers free shipping on all Bond No. 9 fragrances.

Image source: beautycafe

Monday, March 05, 2007

Bond No. 9 Bryant Park

My first review of the Bond No. 9 line ironically features the 28th fragrance released. I adore Bond No. 9’s “sensory homage” to New York City as much as I adore the city itself, which is quite a lot! Their hip fragrances with modern, whimsical twists contain 18-22 percent concentrations of pure eaux des parfums, meaning their scents linger on the skin and resemble the fragrances from the early 1900’s. That is the idea, anyway.

Michael Almairac from Robertet created this new fragrance. The notes are as follows: top notes - lily of the valley, rhubarb and pink pepper; heart notes – rose and patchouli; base notes – raspberry and amber. At first dab, the tart rhubarb dominates with delicate lily of the valley and spicy pink pepper holding their own in the background. I get some rose after a while, like a delicate rose scented veil, but it never plays a starring role, allowing this fragrance to be worn by men or women. The patchouli is also minimally pronounced and very well blended. I never quite detect the raspberry and amber, even after hours on my skin. Clearly those notes are simply designed to anchor the fragrance and the combination allows the scent to remain dry. Bryant Park is not at all delicate, although I used the word. It makes a fashion statement, as in the mod design of the bottle, and it does so not brazenly, not boldly, but assuredly. That seems quite appropriate for a fragrance inspired by Bryant Park, home to biannual Fashion Week.

Quick update: After spritzing Bryant Park today, Tuesday, I definitely smell more rose but again it is light and dry. This scent is glorious when spritzed!

I must add Bryant Park is vaguely reminiscent of something else I own, Jean Patou Enjoy, without the jasmine. (By the way, I think Enjoy is far underrated. Please read my review.) However, Bryant Park stands on its own as a unique fragrance that can be worn on warmer days well into the summer months. Therefore, I like it a lot and I am sure many others will too!

Image source:
Bond No. 9 Bryant Park is available at Saks Fifth Avenue and other department stores, as well as, 50mL retails for $125.

"Bad" Weddings

After seeing a thread on a wedding board today, I would like to ask a favor of those who believe they attended an awful wedding. Please don't tell anyone that you thought it was awful, even if you are a vendor. Focus on the elements that need a little help for a future bride but don't ever call someone's nuptuals or reception "bad."

The wedding business has gotten out of hand, in my opinion. With the contest to out-do the Jones' and put on an elaborate event, in many cases the importance of marriage has been buried by materialism, pretentiousness and grandiosity. I have attended dozens of weddings and even the events where cold-cuts were served qualified as special in my mind. It is the beginning of a couple's life together and therefore deserving of respect, no matter the budget or planning skills of the bride and groom.

Have a little respect, people. Mkay?

End of rant. :-)
Image source:

Sunday, March 04, 2007


What inspires you? What pushes you to your fullest potential, inspires you to be good to yourself and your loved ones, motivates you to overcome any obstacle, and gives you strength when you feel you can't muster any more? In honor of an inspirational Sunday at the TMH house, I offer to you my list of inspirations:


  • Annick Goutal Songes inspires me to be girly, feminine, ladylike and mind my manners.

  • Serge Lutens Muscs Kublai Khan inspires me to ignore convention, for nothing great was ever accomplished by a well-mannered woman. ::wink::

  • Chanel No. 5 inspires me to just be .... me ....

  • Bulgari Omnia inspires me to be quiet, reflect, read and ponder.


  • U2 Beautiful Day
    "What you don't have you don't need it now. What you don't know you can feel it some how." Need I say more?

  • Sheryl Crow Soak Up The Sun

  • Sting Brand New Day

  • Aretha Respect

  • Blue Man Group I Feel Love

  • Norah Jones, anything and everything she writes

  • U2 Grace

  • Bruce Springsteen The Rising

  • Daft Punk Something About You

  • Mary J. Blige Take Me As I Am and her life in general


  • The Other Boleyn Girl
    Maintaining hope, fortitude and integrity in the face of extreme adversity and cruelty

  • The Kiterunner
    Incredible story highlighting the human condition, also a great education on oppression in the Middle East

  • The Red Tent
    Female inner strength

  • The Book of Secrets
    Deepok Chopra's inspired insights

  • Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior
    Stay in the present and live your life on purpose

This is definitely not an exhaustive list as I find new things every day, but a good start. What inspires you?


Created by Gaye Straza Rappaport, Kai fragrance oil has become a phenomenon among celebrities and mere mortals alike. Ms. Rappaport spent her childhood vacations in Hawaii and after experiencing the islands and all their pleasures, longed to create a fragrance reminiscent of them. Hawaii is indeed a truly magical place. After spending two vacations there myself I honestly think it will require multiple trips to see all there is to see ... well, make that see, feel, smell and hear. From the lush foliage to the exotic flowers, the crystal blue water to the laid back attitude of locals, the islands instantly transform visitors in ways you can only speak about if you've been there. Mr. TMH and I had the pleasure of spending our honeymoon there so we describe it as "getting closer to the earth, closer to nature and more in tune with ourselves and the world around us."

Difficult to capture in a fragrance? Most definitely. However, I believe Ms. Rapapport has done it. The fragrance is described as "an intoxicating blend of tropical gardenia and white exotic flowers." I agree the blend is intoxicating. The gardenia in Kai encompasses an entire gardenia plant, blooms to roots, minus the soil. While the incredibly green top notes lead to a creamy, soft and fresh heart, Kai is highly reminiscent of my earlier review of Creative Scentualization Perfect Gardenia without the patchouli note. Perhaps it is frangipani which is added to the blend? Frangipani is certainly abundant in Hawaii. The overall effect is a very clean, fresh, just out of the shower scent that is not overly floral but sweet enough to be called feminine. A perfect scent for relaxing summer days or to transport you to an island oasis on a winter day, Kai can be happily worn by those just venturing into the white floral realm. Those who already love the floral fragrance family will delight in this beautiful blend.

The good news is, if you are averse to perfume oil, the Kai range of products is bound to have an item to suit your tastes. These inlude body lotion, perfume, candles and even a handy "body buffer" that releases the scent of Kai in the shower. Kai is a gorgeous gardenia scent and a true winner in my book.

Kai products are availabe at, 1/8 oz. perfume oil retails for $45.
Image source:, the last two are mine, taken on Oahu

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Chanel Les Exclusifs No. 18

To my regular readers, I apologize for my MIA status yesterday. Sometimes I simply have a little too much on my plate and last week certainly qualified. Therefore, I will do three reviews this weekend to make up for lost time.

The first of the weekend trio is a cold, dry yet lovely specimen, yet another fragrance from Les Exclusifs de Chanel, No. 18. The fragrance is named after Coco Chanel's jewelry boutique, which has an address of 18 Place Vendomes in Paris. The composition centers around ambrette, otherwise known as musk seeds. But do not let the word musk fool you. I tend to think of musk used in fragrance as warm, a little wet and quite a comforting scent. This creation by Polges is certainly not warm and actually quite dry. However, all in the same it is lovely.

During my research on ambrette, I uncovered its use as a symbol for virility, lust, strength, prowess and pursuit. How interesting and contradictory to my perception of this fragrance. I picture No. 18 being worn wonderfully by Naomi Watts at the recent Oscars. The combination of her golden hair, luminous skin, amazing diamond necklace, cheerful yellow gown - and it has been confirmed, she is expecting - suits this fragrance quite wonderfully. Ambrette is quite difficult to describe as several of my colleagues have intimated. Although cool and dry, it also seems to me a very happy scent. Therefore my association with a beautiful, glowing, happy woman. As the scent changes on the skin, I do detect some musk but overall the entire composition remains well-proportioned and subdued, rendering it unisex in my opinion. Ambrette's symbols make it very wearable for a man as well.

Like the other fragrances in the Les Exclusifs collection, a tiny sample vial simply is not enough. If I could I would spritz this one generously and enjoy the uplifting, intriguing scent as long as possible. Dabbing No. 18 seems somehow terribly wrong, and yet it endures for hours. I bury my nose in my wrists with this one, indicating little annoyance to others when wearing it since the fragrance stays close to my skin. What we call sillage in the perfume world, the trail of scent wafting behind you, can be a double-edged sword. To those who love the fragrance, the scent will endure long after you've left the room to their delight. To those who do not like it, sillage only aggravates them further. Therefore, scents that are close to the skin, like No. 18, ensure a very personal experience. And to me, that is reason enough to add it to my collection. For others who are a little more discerning, the unique qualities of this fragrance render it worth testing. It truly is unlike any other fragrance I've experienced.

Les Exclusifs de Chanel are available at Chanel Boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman
Image source:

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon

The artistry comprising the new Les Exclusifs should be mimicked by perfumers worldwide. When Polges created these scents, he did so on his own time without marketing pressure to make a quick dollar. Choosing quality over swiftness, he desired to capture not only amazing scents, but also the essence, if you will, of the Chanel family. In that vein, I present to you today 31 Rue Cambon, the address of the Chanel Boutique in Paris, near the Place de la Concorde. On the third floor above the store in an apartment, Coco Chanel entertained. According to Polges, as intimated by Chandler Burr of the Herald Tribune, he was incredibly struck by this space and the extravagant objects in it. In honor of it, he set out to create a "modernized chypre": 31 Rue Cambon.

My friends, this is destined to be a classic. Upon first test, I thought, "Ah! Now that is a Chanel!" The interesting, elaborate combination of citrus, herbs, and florals rather than traditional oak moss positions this fragrance in a class all its own. The result is reminiscent of the queen of perfume, Chanel No. 5, yet slightly less floral, dryer and more musky. It is less green but just as complex as Sous Le Vent. And it is very similar to my nose to Guerlain Attrape-Couer. I resort to comparison because this fragrance is so difficult for me to describe. Distinguishing the notes in this one is next to impossible for me. However, I thought it important to highlight this fragrance quickly as I foresee it to be the most popular of the bunch.

Unfortunately, I will not be wearing it. It is far too chypre for my nose. Please note that I have had extreme difficulty pulling off dry chypre fragrances for quite a long time. As they say in love, "There is someone for everyone." Or in the art world, "There is a painting for everyone." Translating into perfume terms, "There is a scent for everyone." I have no doubt many fragrance aficionados will adore 31 Rue Cambon for years to come. And those new to the love of fragrance, please try this one and wear it with pride. It is undoubtedly an exquisite work of art.

Image source: hindu magazine, photos of Coco's apartment from "The House that Chanel Built"
Les Exclusifs de Chanel are available at Chanel Boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman