Monday, December 31, 2007
Happy New Year dear readers, family and friends! I hope that in your celebrations you are able to close the chapters of 2007 and honor them for what they taught you. Be kind, be respectful, be responsible and have fun!! The year 2008 promises amazing things and I hope it brings you everything your little heart (and nose) desires!
In honor of New Year's Day, I will be posting my favorites from 2007. Please stay tuned!
Sunday, December 30, 2007
In that vein, it was important that I choose for this final review of the year 2007 a fragrance that I consider complete - a blend that is unabashedly magnificent, rich and whole. That fragrance is Frapin 1270.
I have never been to a cognac cellar. I have never even (that I recall) tasted good cognac. An allergy to alcohol prevents me from celebrating its charms and writing about it with any sincere knowledge. However, what I conjure imaginatively a cognac cellar would entail - the sights, sounds and smells - that is Frapin 1270. This is certainly not an original thought. The creator of the fragrance, the great granddaughter of Pierre Frapin, longed to conjure that image. Pierre Frapin's family began creating roots in the cognac region of France during the year 1270. To pay homage to her great grandfather and the grand cognac company he created, the rich, warm and enticing masterpiece of 1270 was born. The notes, according to Lucky Scent, include exotic woods, spices, raisin, vine flowers, pepper, candied orange, nut, hazelnut, prune, cocoa, coffee, leather, woods, white honey, and vanilla.
This fragrance for a man or a woman begins with a spicy, fruity and boozy accord. Images of dark wooden floors, large vats of alcoholic liquid in a damp, cool basement and elaborate bowls of dried fruit flood my mind as I inhale the honeyed richness of 1270's introduction.
As the woods, cocoa and leather make their appearance during the heart of this fragrance, the images in my mind become much more elaborate, colorful and emotional. It whisks me away to an opulent, luxe, formal event in a foreign land. This scent is not familiar to me at all and yet I long to go to the place from which it originates and submerse myself in the culture. Like a wallflower crashing a party, I would observe the conversations, behavior, attire and cuisine of this foreign place and no one would be able to see me. I can smell the gourmet food, the ladies' perfume, the men's warm skin, the decadent leather coats and shoes, the history of the building (I picture a castle), the damp earth beneath it and the unadulterated lust that circulates like air. And just when these fragrances nearly intoxicate me, I become visible and participate in the festivities of the evening as if I had always been there. For one night, I am someone else, someone more exotic, free-spirited and affluent; someone who has led a completely charmed life yet possesses a decent character. Male or female, young or old does not matter. What does is the fact that I am undeniably mysterious, rich and comfortable, desired and adored, respected and admired. And I think of nothing else but the present moment. This image stays with me through the sexy, slightly sweet and more woodsy drydown. I feel complete.
Frapin 1270's timeless, gourmand, Oriental and luxurious character makes it entirely full bottle worthy to me. In fact, if it is the only full bottle I purchase in 2008, I will still be complete.
Frapin 1270 is available at luckyscent.com and beautyhabit.com (althoughy luckyscent.com is sold out at publishing of review). A 50mL of the EDP is $85.
Image of cognac courtesy of drinkon.com. Image of Alnwick castle courtesy of mingayhistory.co.uk.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Persephone was first created as part of a collection of goddess-inspired perfumes for a friend with a New Age business. The business has been on hold, so I rescued Persephone, the favorite blend of just about everyone in my life, and decided to recreate it using the very best materials I could afford before releasing it under my own brand. The result is a sumptuous, hedonistic Gourmand-Oriental, just the way I’d envisioned it: a ravishing jewel of a blend for evening, a modern take on the classical Oriental. It also follows Pink Manhattan logically because it’s a similar composition built with lower notes, maybe an octave or two down. Here, too, I wanted to create something I didn’t find out there, which was a chocolate-berry-amber. I think Bath & Body works and others have all taken up on this idea by now, but only mine contains no patchouli nor orange, and instead includes magnolia, hyacinth and other regal florals to round out the elegant composition. Why is it sometimes referred to as Unreleased Mix a.k.a. Persephone? I had renamed it Unreleased Mix at one point because I thought my 2nd CD might be called that, but that idea’s been changed, so it’s now back to Persephone.
I invested in countless oils from many sources, but finally came across a handful I knew I could use. Finding the right materials took about 8 months for Pink Manhattan; then for Persephone, about a year. The biggest challenge for Persephone has been continuing to find the top grade Mysore sandalwood which has become extremely rare. As it stands now, I had just enough to finish the mixes I’ve made, and I don’t think I can make anymore that would smell like this, which is part of the reason I’m discontinuing the online sale of Persephone. I’m selling some and keeping the rest as my private blend until I can find a new resource for the sandalwood. Some of the “real” Mysore sandalwood I’ve bought in recent months have been of poor quality and I just wouldn’t use it, nor would I replace it with cheap synthetic sandalwood because I never liked that smell. I’m thinking perhaps it’s best to move on from using Mysore sandalwood since the trees are becoming extinct. My favorite sandalwood sold out at one source that still talks about that yield of oil, reminiscing about how amazing it really was. I can vouch for the quality because it’s what inspired me to create Persephone.
Image sources: "The Return of Perspehone" courtesy of matrifocus.com. White peaches courtesy of jupiterimages.com.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Today's tidbit centers around Lancôme's 1995 launch of Poême. I will paraphrase and summarize pages 204-205 from the book Perfume. The surrealist poet Paul Eluard (1895-1952) ironically rarely spoke of the olfactory sense but rather relied on specific visual descriptions to literally be his nose. Because of his exquisite work and his ability to put into words surreal concepts eerily parallel to the elusive nature of perfume, by the end of the twentieth century Paul Eluard's poetry became closely tied to fragrance. The marketing campaign of Lancôme Poême, although certainly not the first to link perfume and poetry, catapulted Eluard's popularity to the masses. Advertisements for Poême quoted a poem by Eluard called "Je t'aime" (I love you). Lines such as "I love you against everything that is mere illusion" became the eloquent backdrop to the floral bouquet of Poême. Even more fascinating is the literal translation of Poême, which contains the signature circonflex above the "e," a trademark Lancôme marketing strategy. Because of this adjustment, it can translate to "la peau qui aime" meaning "the skin that loves." Because skin is the medium of scent, how clever to suggest an amorous relationship between the largest organ and scent. Certainly the marketing folks at Lancôme thoroughly investigated the factors that would make this launch a success and they were able to make a connection that tomes could be written about today.
I have discovered over the last year of writing perfume reviews that I quite often link perfume to something tangible in an effort to describe it. The truth about perfume is its elusive nature, its inability to be grasped and looked at and the challenge inherent in describing it. This truth is the reason we perfume bloggers have such fun and the reason writing about perfume is an art form. Therefore, I am duly impressed at Lancôme's ability to link such baffling concepts of the imagination demonstrated by Eluard's poetry to their fragrance.
For more on the connection between poetry and perfume, my lovely and intellectual friend Heather's blog Memory and Desire is devoted to it.
Where else have you discovered connections between poetry and perfume? Is there a specific scent you've linked to a certain poem?
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
For all who celebrate, may your home (or relative's home) and heart be filled with love and joy this Christmas. For those who celebrate other winter holidays, may the spirit of the season surround you. I thank you all for bringing so much joy to my life.
The TMH home will be hosting a small dinner today and we are so grateful for the opportunity to do so. I am wearing Persephone by Sali and it is delectable. I promise to review it by Friday! Feliz Navidad! Please feel free to share what you're wearing today.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Monday, December 17, 2007
My first memories of Private Collection involve my cousin Anne-Marie, who always smelled incredibly feminine and pretty. As a young, naive nose I recall asking her what she was wearing and she announced, "Oh! It's Private Collection." I asked if I could try it, spritzed some from her bottle on my skin, quickly decided that it was only for Anne-Marie and swore to never wear it again. This event was quite possibly my first lesson in skin chemistry. At a ripe 12 or 13 years old, I was terribly disappointed I could not duplicate her scent.
Fast forward to last week when I along with Divina of Fragrance Bouquet decided to feature this fragrance for December's "Forget Me Not". I had not retested since that formidable day in my cousin's bedroom. And I fully expected to have the same reaction to the fragrance today that I did at twelve. How pleasantly surprised I am at this wonderfully sophisticated green floral which has entered the distinguished realm of "vintage" fragrances.
I have tested Private Collection three times in the past week and remarkably the scent morphs differently on my skin with every application. Like a chamelion, the scent becomes what I want it to be depending upon my mood, my attire and my plans for the day. It was slow to grow on me and turned up my nose with the first testing, probably due to my history with it. However, as I have studied the notes and how they interplay with one another, I truly appreciate the composition of the scent and my skin has befriended it.
The notes include citrus notes, green notes and hyacinth at the top, a heart of narcissus, rose, jasmine and pine landing on a base of oakmoss, cedar, amber and musk. The fragrance is slow to develop, increasing its charm and intrigue.
The picture painted with this lush chamelion fragrance, no matter how it develops from one application to the next, is that of a classy sophisticate - one who hosts elegant dinner parties, never leaves the house without wearing lipstick and boasts a large circle of friends and associates. Perhaps similar to Estée Lauder herself, the fragrance of her private collection begs to be the signature of an unforgettable woman, one with grace, beauty and style. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to revisit it.
(Not to be confused with the recent 2007 release of Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, a much lighter and more floral fragrance that is uniquely beautiful in its own right, created by Estée's daughter Aerin.)
Saturday, December 15, 2007
- Chergui - An ode to the hot winds that blow through the Moroccan desert and an olfactory time traveler, whisking the wearer away to desert sand, resting camels, spicy cuisine and opulent palaces. Sweet and rich, spicy and luxurious with honey, tobacco and an ambery-leather accord that compels me to bury my nose in it, Chergui holds the #1 spot in the MakeupAlly Top 25 Fragrances for 2007. Indeed!
- Douce Amere - An instant love that faded away to strong like after one wearing due to overspraying. Immediately I thought it very similar to Chergui with its honeyed and oriental sweetness. However, this fragrance's loveliness lies in its lighter sweetness, contrary to the heavy, spicy and luxurious sweetness of Chergui. Douce Amere's composition centers around artemisia absinthium which is used to make Absinthe liqueur. With anise, cinnamon, cedar and musk to counterbalance the medicinal and bitter nature of artemisia absinthium, Douce Amere smells like a sweet, creamy and sophisticated dessert. One spritz is all that is needed for hours of wear.
- Rousse - Pure, unadulterated cinnamon! Fabulous when layered with Douce Amere. The top of this fragrance perfectly reminds the wearer of cinnamon candy. As it dries and fades, the musky base of dark woods and iris takes over, but at this point the fragrance is very faint. Therefore, an enduring and sweet scent like Douce Amere is its flawless compliment.
- Un Lys - With the exception of Bois de Violette, the only other fragrance from this line that I find utterly pretty and feminine. It is the perfect, creamy and abundantly blooming white lily - make that bouquets of them. Nothing sharp, overwhelming or cloying occurs during the olfactory progression of this fragrance. Rather, the vanilla and musk at the heart maintain its creamy quality from start to finish. I could easily call this my favorite soliflore scent.
Photo of Serge Lutens courtesy of osmoz.com and Douce Amere courtesy of lamurefavorite.com.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Congratulations T. and please send me your address! I am anxious to hear your impressions of this fragrance! Each of you had such wonderful ideas regarding the entry. Because this house is devoted to puns as well as perfumery, I thought it appropriate to make my post full of them. Each and every one of you is right. (Kudos to Anne for identifying perhaps the most complicated one!) The ridiculously obscure and perhaps too simple pun that eluded you was my reference to the fragrance being a "celebrity" or a "star". Star is a type of anise, which is the top note of the fragrance. (chuckle)
Thank you all for participating!
Friday, December 07, 2007
To say that the Feuille de Reglisse is original is truly an understatement. I would venture to say that it must be worn by a true fragrance connoisseur, for it is ineffably unique. Feuille de Reglisse translates to "licorice leaf" and lends itself to interpretation since licorice is actually a root, not a leaf. (I vaguely remember Mr. Chabert referencing this point and wish I had had a tape recorder with me!) That fact is only the tip of the iceberg. This fragrance is truly a study in dichotomy, a study that only true fragrance lovers can appreciate.
The leaf of a licorice plant would be subtly suggestive of the root, with a softer, more transparent scent. And that is exactly what this fragrance manages to pull off. The strong top notes of heliotrope and anise boldly announce the fragrance for the first five minutes of wear, however this sharp opening bears little resemblance to the heart and base of the fragrance. Herein lies the dichotomy. Very few fragrances have such a drastically different opening and heart. After proudly wearing Feuille de Reglisse for nearly a week, I have realized an interesting routine with it. Immediately following first spritz I avoid sniffing at all. Rather, I wait for the subtle, soft and soothing heart to emerge and wash over me like a warm blanket. It never fails. Delicate muguet and sweet orange flower bring forth the transparent and soft qualities of this fragrance. This stage is the one that I favor and I find it beautifully soft and slightly powdery. The base notes of sweetly spicy ginger, nutmeg, cardamom and earthy cedarwood substantially ground Feuille de Reglisse. Although the combination of notes alone could inspire fear in the hearts of those who loathe spicy scents, the spice of Feuille de Reglisse is deceptively subtle. It is remarkably well-blended, true to the company's mission. Finally, it is suitable for every day wear.
I predict this fragrance will not take the fragrance community by storm but rather will slowly sneak up on unsuspecting perfumistas looking for a soft, subtle and truly different scent that is destined to be a star. The contrast between notes, the distinct progression of scent from top to bottom, the company's commitment to the art of perfumery and the uniqueness of this fragrance catapult it into a very prestigious category - celebrated niche.
Feuille de Reglisse is available at www.aedes.com, Takashimaya and other exclusive retailers. A 3.4 oz. bottle retails for $145.
Photo of bottle, courtesy aedes. Licorice plant courtesy of nccam.nih.gov.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
First, is the Holiday Candle in Mimosa being offered through tocca.com (pictured above). With a topnote of champagne, it will set a celebratory mood. Second, the Candele da Viaggio offers four travel sized candles in the following scents:
- Cleopatra - cucumber and tangy grapefruit
- Grace - Casablanca lily
- Havana - spicy sugarcane and rum
- Kyoto - fruity floral
An interesting and varietal combination to scent your home or gift for someone special, this set is available at Sephora or sephora.com. Have a wonderfully scented holiday and enjoy!
Stay tuned for a review of Parfums 06130 Feuille de Reglisse tomorrow. This weekend, I will explore two offerings from Serge Lutens.
Monday, December 03, 2007
Nonetheless, I am pleased to discuss a topic that often causes anxiety and worry. With 4.7 million U.S. residents expected to fly during the month of November according to AAA and the Air Travel Association, it is no wonder holiday travel inspires dread in the hearts of those who bravely choose to do so. The TMH household has made an executive decision to stay put during the holidays, partly because our weather is so balmy (why would we want to leave?) and partly because we both travel so much for business we would rather relax at home during time off. But I digress. My aim in writing this piece to assist those who do travel to get through it stress-free and smelling fine!
First and foremost, remember that U.S. regulations regarding liquid carry-on items are very strict. You cannot carry more than 3 ounces of liquid in one container and all liquid containers must fit in a quart sized plastic zip-lock type bag. You can only carry one plastic bag and it must be removed from your carry-on and placed in a bin to go through security. (There are exceptions such as baby formula, prescription medication, etc. Read more here.) Second, if you are brave enough to pack your coveted perfume bottles in your suitcase, beware! If you have ever been privy to how roughly your suitcase is handled, you will keep those bottles in their deserved safe place. In light of all this, what is a perfumista to do?
Several maneuvers that I have employed have allowed me to travel fragrant and worry-free since these policies were implemented. They are the following:
- Decant whatever fragrances you plan to wear into smaller containers. I prefer 5mL atomizer sprays as it gives me an ample dose of the fragrance. Pack these fragrances into a waterproof pouch, such as a dop kit or even a plastic resealable bag. Wrap it with a towel or washcloth and nestle it between two items of machine washable clothing or inside a shoe in your checkable luggage. I have yet to have a problematic leak when I have adhered to these tips! And it allows me to take as many fragrances as I would like safely.
- Invest in a few solid fragrances to put in your carry-on. That way no matter how far you have to travel, you will be able to reapply and smell wonderful. Better yet, utilize some tips from our last entry "In Times of Stress" and incorporate solid fragrances with stress-relieving notes. A few solid fragrances to investigate include Zents which can be found at this website and my personal favorite Crazy Libellule & the Poppies (read my entry here). There are many other solid perfumes to try! Keeping them in your purse makes the task of getting through security much easier and faster, saving you time and sparing the nerves of the travelers waiting behind you. In addition, solid scents typically have very little sillage which other airline passengers may appreciate. Remember, air on planes is circulated! What smells great to you may cause the traveler behind you to have a terrible asthma attack. Be a responsible traveler and consider the needs of those around you.
- If purchasing a fragrance at your destination, have it shipped home. This may incur a larger expense than packing the lovely new scent into your suitcase, but unless you have a lock I would not risk it. I recently had an empty Tumi tote bag stolen from inside my suitcase. Claims submitted to the airline, TSA and airport lost and found left me empty handed. If you must pack the new fragrance, invest in a TSA accepted lock. You can find one in an airport or online. A list of accepted locks can be found here. In addition to risk of theft, the bottle may be crushed or broken (heaven forbid!) in your checked baggage. That said, I did miraculously make it back from Italy with an intact bottle of Nasomatto Absinthe. I doubt this happens often unless you bring bubble wrap and tape with you, as I did. If you purchase a fragrance abroad, you will also have to declare the item to customs upon re-entering the United States. Just pay the shipping and lose the hassle and worry.
If you follow these simple tips and plan accordingly, you can count on smelling great and making it through what I call "the airport gauntlet" hassle-free. Now, let us hope that flight delays and rude passengers or airline staff do not ruin your day. That is another subject altogether and one that I have dealt with repeatedly. For that, I just say bring a great book, a cozy sweater or blanket, an iPod with your favorite music loaded, some noise-cancelling headphones and remember the old adage, "You attract more bees with honey than with vinegar." Happy and Fragrant Holiday traveling to all!
Please be sure to read Divina's wonderful European take on things at Fragrance Bouquet.
Image of airplane courtesy of askavery.com. Solid Crazy Libellule & the Poppies perfume courtesy of urbanapothecary.com.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
- My favorite layering combination: Jo Malone Pomegranite Noir over L'Aromarine Vanille
- My second favorite combination: Ava Luxe Milk over Ava Luxe Madeline
- For a wedding today: Frederic Malle Carnal Flower
- For shopping days: One of above layering combinations
- For romantic nights with Mr. TMH: Bella Bellissima Perfect Night
- For the party we will attend on the 14th: Jean Paul Gaultier Classique
- For work: Parfums 06130 Feuille de Reglisse (please stay tuned for a review this week!)
- For Christmas Eve party plans: Escada Collection
- For Christmas Day: Whatever Santa brings! (Perhaps Laura Mercier Eau de Lune or Hermès Kelly Calèche)
What will you be wearing this season?