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 A 50mL bottle retails for $91.25.

Image of bottle courtesy of Angelina Jolie courtesy of

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 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, 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

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

Image courtesy of and video from

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 and Casanova courtesy of

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 A 100mL bottle retails for $95. There is a limited number of bottles available.

Images courtesy of and

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 It retails for $295 for 100mL.

Images courtesy of and

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!