Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Ginestet Sauvignonne

Aaaaaaah!!! What a beauty this is! The house of Ginestet is a winery. A winery in the French countryside that is. How telling. Their three fragrances were designed following meetings between the managing director of Ginestet wine merchants and a French perfumer. The similarities between the art of wine making and the art of perfumerie are uncanny. And how artistic that the two came together to create three masterpieces in fragrance, Bortrytis, Le Boise and today's featured fragrance: Sauvignonne.

Named after the Sauvignon grape which is commonly used in white Bordeaux wines, Sauvignonne opens with a fresh, juicy burst of grapefruit but not heavy handedly. It is a light grapefruit, just as a white wine is light in color. After it sits on the skin for a bit, the box tree and white peach make their debut, as the tangy flavors of white wine slowly coat the drinker's palette. The combination is refreshing, light, sparkling and uplifting - unlike any other and yet seemingly familiar. To me, the perfect spring or summer scent. Since it's spring and summer nearly year 'round where I live, I thoroughly enjoy Sauvignonne whenever I would like. Just one spritz on the nape of my neck surrounds me for the day and I suspect never offends others. Full bottle worthy? Most definitely!


Image source: Lucky Scent
Ginestet Sauvignonne can be purchased online through www.luckyscent.com or www.beautyhabit.com, $100 for 100mL. Read more about the creation of these fragrances here: http://www.ginestet.fr/index.php?act=12,1

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Tiaras

During my very industrious phase of wedding planning last year, I came across such a multitude of decisions. Pouffy dress or not? Low heels or high heels? Ivory or white? Fingertip length veil or shoulder length veil? And, the infamous tiara or no tiara?

My sales representative at the bridal shop attended to those needs beautifully. And I say "my sales representative" because she truly captured my heart when she teared up at seeing me in the dress. I felt that she could easily be called my personal bridal beauty consultant. Every time I saw her I hugged her. So when she brought tiaras to me while I was wearing the dress, I could not resist. And the one she picked out was so exquisite, so perfect for my ensemble, I did not even look at the price tag. I was sold.

Much to my dismay, when I announced that I would be sporting a tiara on my big day, I received the most ghastly reactions. "Oh, I could never wear one for fear that I'd look like Miss America." Or "I don't like the whole princess vibe." And, finally, "Oh, you're going to wear one of those. You must be a bridezilla." So when did we start equating tiaras with an over-the-top sense of entitlement? Shouldn't brides be able to wear what looks good on them without judgement and pointed fingers? And what exactly is wrong with looking like a princess on the one day you feel like one? After asking myself those questions, I decided to ignore the criticism and move forward with my plan.



What I didn't realize is that hairstyle selection would have to work around the tiara. A high volume updo or half updo would never work, despite my love of those styles. So I decided to go with long, loose waves with a few strands pulled back. Here is the end result.



I think it turned out very non-bridezilla. Don't you? So ladies, beautiful brides, try not to succumb to the judgements and comfort zones of your peers. Wear what you like and what works for you. And most of all, have a wonderful day and enjoy yourself.

If you have wedding related questions, ideas or topics you'd like me to explore, please post a comment. Thank you!

Image source: http://www.ccis.edu/about/history.asp, Deborah Bryant, Miss America 1966

Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle


This is my bell jar. My one and only Paris Exclusive bell jar gifted to me. Isn't it lovely? Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it precious? Oh, how I wish it were any other fragrance than this. It is not that Tubereuse Criminelle is anything short of a masterpiece in fragrance. And it is not that I am unappreciative of a scent that can only be purchased in Paris. It is just that ... well ... how can I say it? ... My skin literally eats this fragrance.

Let me explain. After hearing rave reviews I was dumbfounded that I had been gifted with the famous Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle. I heard adjectives like "amazing," "interesting," "tuberose perfection." You get the idea. I tested it once and I was so overcome by the top note that turns wintergreen on my skin, I decided to decant it for others and give it another whirl a few months later.

Well, Sunday was my "another whirl" day and I think the following dialogue sums it up:

Tamara: Honey, do you like my perfume?


Jeffrey: What perfume?


Tamara: The expensive perfume from Paris I'm wearing?


Jeffrey: Well, I can't really smell it. Although I like you being close to me while wearing it.

I can think of much worse reactions, for sure. However, it is vastly different from the reaction I got when wearing Serge Lutens Chergui or Bois de Violette. "But do you wear perfume only for your husband?" you ask. Mais non. Not at all. The reason I quote him is that he perfectly articulated how I feel about this fragrance on my skin. Once the harsh topnote dries down and the heart of beautiful tuberose shines through, my Tubey Crim is just gone. Poof. And just when I was starting to like her.

So, I will continue to read the amazing reviews written by my friends and admire them ... from afar. And I will continue to decant Tubereuse Criminelle for those lucky ladies and gents who can thoroughly enjoy it. And when I go to Paris for a shopping spree, because I will, I plan to buy myself a bell jar of Chergui.


It can be purchased only at the Salons du Palais Royal in Paris, 100 Euro for 2.5oz.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Jean Patou ENjoy

Created by the house of Jean Patou in 2003 for the younger crowd, ENjoy is one of the most underrated yet beautiful fragrances I own. I received a generous spray sample shortly after it was released and although I didn't expect to like it, I remain very pleasantly surprised. After emptying the contents of the spray vial, I enthusiastically purchased a full bottle and body lotion. This sultry fruity-floral contains notes of bergamot, roses, jasmine, vanilla and musk. It can be worn on any occasion. Whenever I wear it, I find myself trying to mimic outfits in InStyle magazine for it inspires in me a picture of a classy, youthful, spontaneous, flirtatious and sensual woman. It lasts all day on my skin and I have received numerous compliments indicating adequate sillage.

A wonderful MUA reviewer, Mayra, summed it up like this, "Feminine and refined but lots of fun. Bottle is classic Patou with a twist: a modern version of the original Joy bottle with amethyst colored juice ... instead, it is a more accessible and less serious approach to refinement and the classic rose and jasmine pairings that the original JOY possesses. Easier to wear. Modern. Rose and jasmine theme with some green (green banana), fruity (blackcurrrant) and warm notes (patchouli, vanilla and amber) thrown in for good measure."

I find it very well balanced, non-cloying and non-artificial smelling and after three years it still holds a front and center place in my collection. For floral lovers looking for an affordable Jean Patou fragrance, this one fits the bill beautifully.

Image source: www.fragrancex.com
It can be purchased for as little as $29 for 1 oz. at fragrancex and other online discount stores.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cartier Le Baiser du Dragon

I speak of this gem with a sense of longing and intrigue. Although it is not wearable to me as of this moment I hope to grow into it some day. You see, I bought a bottle at the prompting of a very pushy SA at Neiman Marcus. She hailed from France, had the loveliest accent, took one look at me and said you must wear Le Baiser du Dragon. Was it the red hair that tipped her off? Or the combination of modern and exotic elements I was wearing? The whole way home with the lovely Neiman Marcus bag next to me, I sniffed my wrist and begged the question, "Is this really me?" Unfortunately after 24 hours I came to the conclusion it is not and I returned it for a more floral, less heady concoction.

Cartier is known the world over for fabulous watches and jewelry. This designer has also fared quite well in perfumerie. My introduction to Cartier perfumerie was Must de Cartier, which as a seventeen-year-old girl I purchased with babysitting money and proudly wore to school. (It must have been the French influence I experienced just five years prior!) Even at that ripe age, I thoroughly enjoyed wearing scents none of my contemporaries were remotely aware of. And believe me, in the tiny little town I lived, Cartier wasn't even sold. I had luckily purchased it on a trip to visit family in Chicago.

Back to my fascination with Baiser, the reason it still has a hold on me is that I would love to think I could wear a scent as bold, spicy and mysterious as this. The sales associate sure thought I could. Being the fruit, vanilla and white floral lover that I am, this strays far away from my comfort zone. According to The Style Group, Le Baiser du Dragon is "a fusion of powerful elements including notes of bitter almond, gardenia, cedar, musk, and patchouli." Powerful. Now there is a word. Perhaps I haven't truly embraced my inner power? Perhaps that explains my general "playing small" in the corporate world? Perhaps if I took a risk and wore this fragrance, avenues would open up for me? It is definitely a thought worth exploring. I will keep you posted.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this fragrance and the type of woman you picture wearing it!

Update! May 6, 2007: This past week I accepted a job offer doing what I love for a fantastic, cutting edge company. I finally took the bull by the horns and embraced the power to change my circumstances after staying in an oppressive work environment for years. Isn't it interesting that within this time frame I decided to give Le Baiser another spin? This time, its sophisticated sensuality shone through and I broke down to purchase the Parfum. Moral of the story - keep trying a fragrance that intrigues you. You never know when it will become you, or when you will become it.


Image source: aromat.ru

A 1.6 oz. EDT retails for $70.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Les Salons du Palais Royal


When I was a young girl, I traveled to France as a foreign exchange student. Just north of Paris in a little town called Montmorency, I found my home with an intriguing family for three weeks. I went to school daily, ate lots of creme brulee and fresh bread, visited Versailles and the Eiffel Tower and mostly became very home sick. The eyes, ears and sensibilities of a twelve year old limited my Paris experience. However, my nose was as keen as it is today. I can still recall the scent of Clare, the teenager in the house. Her perfume was as sweet and innocent as she and I wondered how she managed to smell so good. I became determined to find that fragrance. Mrs. Leadley, the head of the household in which I was staying, took me on a shopping trip to Forum des Halles one day. I wanted to find gifts for my family - namely, perfume for my mother and wine for my father and perhaps the scent that Clare wore. (Sadly, I never did.) After I chose a bracelet and earrings for myself and a perfume for my mother, Mrs. Leadley said to me, "You like pretty things." Hmph. "Of course I like pretty things. Who doesn't?" I thought. Her comment cemented an idea that lives with me to this day. It has been the inspiration for nearly every wardrobe, wedding, perfume, makeup and jewelry decision I have ever made. Thus, I introduce to you the current object of my fascination and desire: Serge Lutens perfume boutique Les Salons du Palais Royal.

Unfortunately I have never had the opportunity to experience this amazing shopping wonder. What I have had is the opportunity to try various Lutens scents thanks to my mother who made her first trip to Paris last year. Before she left I said, "You must go to the Guerlain boutique and Serge Lutens!" She was so pleased I sent her on that mission. She described Les Salons as dramatic. From the photos, I think it's pretty. Upon her return she loaded me with wax samples and a bell jar from Les Salons which enabled me to fully experience Sir Lutens' delicacies: Tubereuse Criminelle, Gris Clair, Muscs Kublai Khan, Un Bois Sepia, Borneo 1834, Bois de Violette and Santal de Mysore graced my nose within hours of my mother's return. The prettiest of the bunch in my opinion? Bois de Violette without a doubt.

I cannot imagine Lutens' fine fragrances more perfectly experienced than in his Palais. I imagine dramatic lighting, intricate artwork, experienced and knowledgeable fragrance specialists who speak heavily accented English and who wait patiently while I sniff, and perhaps ... perhaps I find a fragrance reminiscent of my first trip to Paris. It sure will be sweet to realize this dream. Until then, I remain in the United States gleaning pleasure vicariously through those who discuss and experience what I consider to be the fragrance shopping holy grail ... Les Salons du Palais Royal.


Image from http://www.salons-shiseido.com/anglais/html/index.htm

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia


Wow, wow and wow again! Created by the house of Jo Malone to celebrate her tenth anniversary, this gorgeous fragrance is what dreams are made of - beautiful, creamy, feminine, soft and lovely. What is so interesting about this fragrance is the cardamom, incense, sandalwood and myrrh that lie at the base of classic gardenia and tuberose. They round out the fragrance nicely and ground it, a quality I could not find in any other gardenia scent I had tried before this gem. In fact, when I was wearing Chanel Gardenia regularly a close friend commented that I should not continue to wear it. Eeeek! Not exactly what a perfumista wants to hear. Ever.

I am a white floral lover. Vintage Gardenia satisfies my white floral cravings with some pizazz. And I do not believe there is anything vintage about this fragrance, for when I conjure up "vintage" I often think of strong, chypre, powdery fragrances. The fact that this scent elicits compliments every time I wear it urges me to describe it as classic rather than vintage.

The house of Jo Malone has truly found a niche when it comes to layering. Every one of their fragrances is recommended with another. Vintage Gardenia, for example, is recommended with Nutmeg & Ginger, Pomegranite Noir, Vetyver and Orange Blossom. For those new to the love of fragrance, layering offers a terrific way to explore the world of scent. And with some recommendations from Jo herself, a beginner can explore the nuances of olfactory sense.
Jo, if you're reading this, thank you for creating this lovely scent. It has made one wearer's life happier.


Jo Malone fragrances can be purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, other specialty department stores and at www.jomalone.com. A 30mL bottle retails for $50 and 100mL for $90.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Escada Collection

I bought this scent for my mother back in 2001. She was fresh on the tail end of a divorce and needing a unique, celebratory scent. Always ready to oblige when it came to perfume, off I went to Nordstrom to browse the new offerings. I specifically remember the saleswoman and her excitement about this scent. She said, "This is unlike anything you've ever worn before." She sprayed it on my wrist and I told her I'd be back after it dryed down. I swooned and thought to myself, "Be unselfish. The idea is giving T. Mom needs this." Luckily (or not), my mother and I have almost identical chemistry. Scents that work for me work for her as well! After experiencing the top and heart of the fragrance, back to Nordstrom I went to fork out the over $100 for a full bottle. That was the most I had ever spent on a perfume! But the rewards were worth it when Mom used all of it in less than six months. She loved it.

This fragrance still elicits for me fond memories of spending time with my mother just after I relocated to Arizona. It was a very unique time for us. Neither one of us were romantically attached, she provided a home for me while I searched for a job and dated obsessively. I learned to dance Argentine Tango, an art that Mom had nearly mastered. The milangas or social dances provided us a venue to socialize, get some exercise and some non-sexual affection from older men. All the while Mom smelled of Collection. Thus it is no surprise that this scent is a comforting one to me.
Thankfully, my mother is as fickle with fragrances as I am. After her bottle of Collection was gone she moved on to another equally sophisticated fragrance. Therefore, onto my wishlist it went. And low and behold, a sweet MUA'er purchased a full bottle for me in a gift exchange!! I was stunned and excited. I received the 2003 edition in the rhinestone decorated navy blue bottle. I keep it in its plastic container to this day as this fragrance is special and coveted.
No longer in production, Collection has oft been duplicated but never mastered. Ginestet Bortrytis bears a very close resemblance but it's not quite as rich. With top notes of mandarin, and cola, a heart of jasmine and tuberose and a rich base of sandalwood, ambrosin and tonka bean, Collection is sophisticated, dressy, warm and sensual. I wore it at my wedding reception and received rave reviews but I've also accessorized it with a t-shirt and jeans. It is truly like no other and reserved for women. Escada has turned its attention to the younger, fruity scent-loving crowd and created some very mediocre fragrances the last few years. If Escada brought back Collection in a newly decorated bottle and its wearers learned to Argentine Tango, the world would be a better place.

Collection can be purchased at http://www.1stperfume.com/ at around $150 for 1.7 oz.
Tango image from Caltech Ballroom Dance Club
Perfume image from www.1stperfume.com

Monday, January 22, 2007

Stella Rose Absolute

Recent fragrance polls asking me to name my favorite rose perfume re-inspired my adoration for Stella Rose Absolute. She is close to my heart as she accompanied me to a very important event: the first meeting of my husband's entire family! His brother's wedding was the venue and Stella Rose Absolute was the featured fragrance. I recall a guest commenting, "You smell amazing!" Blushing and humble, I quietly acknowledged to myself that this was truly a winner.

Relegated to her stately spot in the middle of my collection, she hasn't seen much play lately. But let's talk about this beauty. I liked the original Stella but it's ambery rose scent evaporated too quickly on my skin. I therefore purchased Stella Rose Absolute at a Saks beauty event hoping she would stay a while. And she does! This gorgeous scent is for bombshells. (Ironic that I wore it to a family event, eh?) While I realize I may be tooting my own horn by saying that, when I want to feel like a bombshell I wear this. "Sensual, feminine, intense" is what Sephora says. I would add soft, well-rounded, sophisticated.

With notes of rose, peony, mandarin, rose absolute and amber, this fragrance reminds me of a scene in the recent film Perfume. Dustin Hoffman's character, the perfumer Giuseppe Baldini, teaches Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, the main character, how to extract scent. Thousands of roses are imported from the French countryside and loaded into a magical machine. The long process extracts scent from the roses and Jean-Baptiste eagerly awaits the outcome. Finally, as the long anticipated drop plinks to the bottom of a glass Baldini says, "The soul of a rose."

Stella Rose Absolute exudes the soul of a rose with class, ease and softness. The amber adds just enough intrigue as to beckon others to you. As you hold your nose to a rose's petals to take a deep whiff, so does this perfume require some closeness to capture its true beauty. It certainly will not knock others over and for that I adore it. True bombshells save the best of their allure for those close to them. After all this talk, I think it is time to pull her out of her spot and show her off, perhaps while wearing a low-cut, sexy number ...


Stella Rose Absolute is available at Sephora. A 1 oz. EDP spray retails for $46.

Rehearsal Dinners


I offer a quick diversion from perfume to discuss what was my obsession for nearly three months of last year - wedding planning. My husband and I managed to say "no" to just about everything that was expected of us (within reason). Therefore, I am very intrigued by the wedding industry's insistence that every couple must plan certain events. Case in point: the infamous rehearsal dinner.

American culture is truly hilarious sometimes. What is the purpose of a rehearsal dinner? To rehearse a dinner? To spend more money? This poignant question was asked by a very innocent poster on a wedding board recently and I thought, "Brilliant!!" What is the point of a rehearsal dinner? My husband and I, newlyweds that we are, chose not to have one since our ceremony was private. Had we had a traditional wedding, I don't know that we would have needed to rehearse anything the night before a very stressful, busy day. Goodness knows, we certainly didn't need the added stress, on our pocketbooks or our psyches.

What we did choose rather was a post-wedding brunch, graciously hosted by my mother for our out-of-towners the day after our wedding. It was fantastic! We got to rehash the spectacular reception, share digital photos from the event, mix it up in a less formal environment (I highly recommend someone's home) and generally put a cap on the weekend.

However, with my curiosity piqued I did some research on this peculiar American tradition. Apparently, rehearsal dinners give the groom an opportunity to host an event that can be casual or formal. Most times, this dinner follows a ceremony rehearsal but not always. Both families get to meet each other before the festitivities while toasts and roasts abound. For larger weddings, the rehearsal dinner gives wedding parties the opportunity to become familiar with the ceremony location and grounds. It also gives the bride and groom an opportunity to gift the wedding party. According to etiquette, those invited should include immediate family, wedding-party members and their spouses and significant others, parents of any child attendants (children are optional), the officiant and his or her spouse.

I would encourage grooms and brides-to-be to get creative if they choose to have this event. There is no need to spend an inordinate amount of money. A cocktail party or a home-cooked meal will suffice. Besides, since you will all be one big happy family, why not see how they interact in a casual setting? It will be interesting for certain. The wedding business will encourage you to spend, spend, spend and host dinner at your ceremony location. This is unnecessary and there are other wedding expenses the groom can pick up. My husband and I split our wedding expenses down the middle and it worked beautifully for us. Besides, if you over spend when it's all said and done, you will simply become a married couple with debt. I would much rather be a happily married, financially secure couple as the result of playing it smart. Best wishes to all!

Annick Goutal Quel Amour

What makes the house of Annick Goutal so unique are the natural essences comprising her fragrances as well as her bucking of popular trends. The end result is a product far superior to most scents you will find at any department store. I now own four of her unique creations. Each of them is rare and beautiful. Of her 28 scents available, nineteen are available for women and nine masculine scents have been created for men. Two are worn by both. Her goal was to create fragrances that are symphonies and yet do not interfere with the client's daily routine.

Quel Amour is my innocent, in love, blushing, "happy" girl perfume. With notes of peonies, wild roses, geranium rose, currants and pomegranite, it is lovely and offensive to no one. Although my husband says, "Meh" about this scent, I truly love it for its feminine, sublime, unobtrusive and sweet qualities. This is also one that works well when layered. I use the body lotion first and then spritz the EDT at pulse points. I find myself sniffing my wrists a lot when I wear and it has just enough sillage for others to think, "She smells pretty."

Annick Goutal has also created a facial and body care line. I would love to explore those products! Reviews are welcome.


Annick Goutal fragrances are available at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and other exclusive boutiques. You may purchase online at escentual.co.uk, fragrancenet.com, scentiments.com, Imagination Perfumery and others. Quel Amour full retail price is $95 for 1.7 oz EDT.
Photo from escentual.co.uk

Sunday, January 21, 2007

For The Love of ...


This blog is dedicated to all things I love. Namely perfume, fashion, wedding planning, fulfilling careers, fur babies (pictured above our dear cat Phoenix) and my husband. I reserve the right to add to that list!! Each day I will dedicate to one of the many things that capture my attention and fancy. And I hope that reading it will inspire or delight you. Thank you for indulging me!

Cristiano Fissore Cashmere


I am in love. Fragrance love, that is. If I could marry a fragrance it would be this luscious specimen. Thanks to colombina of Perfume Smellin' Things, I ventured onto unchartered territory. I ordered this bottle unsniffed from Germany after reading her perfect description. Initially, I was hoping to send some to her and if I liked it, keep a little for myself. After over one month of nervous anticipation, all of my expectations have been exceeded. Since smelling this exquisite juice I have had thoughts of disposing of other scents from my 41 bottle collection. The horror!! But that's how good this is.

First of all, I am absolutely delighted this designer hails from Italy. I love all things Italian, including my husband. Secondly, the scent is perhaps the most well blended to have ever graced my nose. It is fresh, soft, comforting, cool and tasteful - spiced apricots to my nose and to others an ethereal, non-descript waft of expensive perfume. As described on First in Fragrance, the scent wraps its wearer in a fine cashmere pashmina. How appropriate. With notes of bergamot, amber, woods, myrrh and tahitian vanilla, it could be a perfect rainy day or cold weather scent. To me, it will be a a perfect every day scent and very happily I doubt I will smell it on another. I find its scent surrounds me and every once in a while I catch a distinct whiff, awakening all of my senses. Most of the time it just soothes and holds me in comfort. Cashmere pashmina indeed!

It seems the perfume gods have graced me. Every time I buy a scent for a friend with the intention of making her happy, I discover a beautiful scent for myself. This happened with Carnal Flower as well over one year ago. Thank you perfume gods. Please remind me to always be of service to other perfumistas! And thank you for inspiring the creators of this magical fragrance.


Cristiano Fissore Cashmere for Women Edt comes packaged in the pouch pictured and can be purchased at First in Fragrance, 105 Euro for 100 mL.
Photo from First in Fragrance, http://www.ausliebezumduft.de