Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Divine Comfort of Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilée

I present another beautifully constructed, aroma-therapeutic, always appropriate, refreshing, smart and sophisticated Annick Goutal creation:  Nuit Etoilée, the newest fragrance from this stunning house.  Simultaneously refreshing, cooling, comforting and eventually warming, the scent has consistently captured my intrigue over the course of the last week.  I apply it generously, enjoying the initial blast of citrus which fades to reveal an exotic forest emanating the scent of pine needles and balsam fir.  Just as I dream of resting on a bed of soft leaves, moist dirt and scented pine needles, the warm, musky angelica seeds gently arrive, lingering on my skin for hours and reminding me that all is well.

To describe Nuit Etoilée as gorgeous would be an understatement.  Exquisite suits it better but does not capture entirely its artistic beauty.  For demonstration's sake, if I scented all of my clothing, my hair, my skin, my home and even my car where I spend the bulk of my time with Nuit Etoilée, I still would not be overwhelmed by this fragrance.  I would relish it as it calmed and soothed me in moments of elation or stress. (I have learned through life experience that even elation can be toned down, for what goes up must come down!) The citrus is the most smooth, lighthearted citrus I can imagine.  If citrus can even be called mellow, it would apply here. The pine needles and balsam fir do not transport me to a Christmas Shoppe, but rather evoke the heart of the forest with a subtly suggestive nudge.  Finally, the angelica surrounded by everlasting flowers!! I am speechless.  Warm, glowing, and musky, it is the most grounding and soothing note I have ever experienced. 

Similar to my coveted   Les Nuits d'HadrienNuit Etoilée falls into the previously mentioned "always appropriate" category.  Rather than making a fragrance announcement as the wearer enters a room, this scent is much more private and personal.  I am not certain, in fact, if it provides any sillage.  That fact does not much matter when the divine juice truly possesses aroma-therapeutic qualities. 

The only downfall to Nuit Etoilée, and I really hesitate to point this out since I so clearly adore this scent, is that on my skin longevity is not its strong suit.  Perhaps if I slathered on unscented moisturizer first, it would linger a few more hours.  Nonetheless, I am happy to bring with me a smaller, decanted atomizer and spritz myself repeatedly throughout the day.  Well worth the extra effort?  Emphatically, "Yes!"  

The packaging is equally stunning, produced in icy blue glass which changes color depending on lighting.  Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen have really "hit it out of the park" with this creation and I strongly recommend it for day or night for anyone liking comforting woodsy, musky scents.  

Annick Goutal Nuit Etoilée will be available mid-May in Eau de Toilette at Saks Fifth Avenue.  A 3.4 oz. and 1.7 oz. traditional ribbed bottle will retail for $72 and $51 respectively.  A 3.4 oz. will also be available in a masculine square bottle for $72. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy, Happy, Twirl, Twirl

Remember my review on Guerlain Cruel Gardenia?  If not, please just scroll down a bit and you will find it. The flower I was longing to embrace and call my own in that fragrance - majestic gardenia - eluded me.  Fret not!  I have found a white floral, fresh, green and gloriously gardenia-esque fragrance to place in my line up for spring.  It is Bond No. 9 Central Park West

The notes as listed by the house describe narcissus, ylang ylang and pepper at the top with orris, jasmine, linden and gardenia at the heart.  The base offers vetiver, musk, white oak and treemoss.  While I would love to say that I detect every note, I cannot tell a lie.  I do not.  Ylang ylang holds a place in my heart for its grounding qualities and it is most certainly here.  Jasmine makes a demure (not overly sensual) statement and narcissus does too, in a rich and green fashion.  However, the star of the show and the one to whom all applause should be directed outshines the other notes and does so in the most realistic, beautiful, fresh and inoffensive fashion.  Gardenia!  Richer and more attention-grabbing than Kai, less sharp than Chanel Gardenia and everything that Guerlain's gardenia offering was not, Bond No. 9 Central Park West offers a stately, grand white floral entirely based on gardenia.  I have found after sampling my entire sample vial for days that this fragrance just makes me happy.  I want to wear bright colors, dab a tiny little bit on the nape of my neck and prance and twirl like my three year old daughter.  To reference the name of the fragrance, perhaps we could prance and twirl happily in Central Park together.

I adore the bottle design with a very appropriate large pink flower flanked by strung beads at the neck which cleverly detaches as a bracelet.  The rest of the bottle is decorated by a bold houndstooth check pattern.  Central Park West is entirely appropriate for daywear when worn sparingly.  Do not douse.  This fragrance is ostentatious enough to fill an entire room!  I imagine a full bottle will last for years and I see its purchase in my near future.   

Bond No. 9 Central Park West is available at Bond No. 9 stores and Saks Fifth Avenue.  A 100ml bottle retails for $250, a 50ml bottle retails for $180, Body Silk retails for $180, a candle for $130 and shower gel for $75. 

Friday, April 06, 2012

Aura by Swarovski Winner!

Thank you to all who participated in the drawing for a full bottle of Aura by Swarovski.  I am very pleased to announce the winner according to  It is someone to whom I am honored and delighted to send the fragrance!  Congratulations goes to ...

Joshua Ryan!!

Please post your e-mail address as a comment here Joshua and I will contact you directly.  Enjoy your new fragrance!

Monday, April 02, 2012

Aura by Swarovski Draw!

Please comment below to be entered into a draw to win a full, 1.7 oz bottle of Aura by Swarovski Eau de Parfum.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Fragrance Launch: Aura by Swarovski

Announcing Aura by Swarovski, described as an "incandescent, fruity, floral creation" and created by Jean-Pierre Bethouart and Olivier Cresp.  The fragrance begins sweet, sharp and a bit overwhelming. Rose, lychee and pink pepper conspire to demand all olfactory attention, to the point of making me sneeze.  It reminds me of many I have tested in department stores with pink pepper at the helm; it dominates the other notes.  At this stage, sillage is adequate and it does get noticed, although I have yet to receive a compliment perhaps due to all that pink pepper.  Notoriously, it does not like my skin. 

As the fragrance, to my relief, dries down, a tiny bit of tuberose emerges along with the base notes of amber and white musk.  I would love this stage if I could smell it without the need to press my nose to my wrist.  If these voluptous notes were to headline the fragrance I would be sold!

The bottle is elegant and stunning, refillable and unique.  Set at the top with a Swarovski crystal, I would enjoy displaying it if I fell in love with the juice.  Despite my best effort, I did not. 

Aura by Swarovski, an inaugural fragrance by the company famous for stunning crystal, will be launched April 2012 at Swarovski Boutiques.

I will raffle the 1.7 oz. bottle I have on Monday!

Aura by Swarovski will be available at Swarovski Boutiques in April.  The collection includes Eau de Parfum in 1, 1.7 and 2.6 fl. oz bottles for $65, $80 and $100 respectively.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Cold Dip and an Iced Tea, with Mint Please

Refreshing, light, delicate, pretty, soothing ... all appropriate words to describe my daytime signature scent during spring and one that I reached for nearly every morning during my pregnancy with my son.  It originates from the house of Jo Malone - a house based in London, England that epitomizes understated elegance in fragrance.  Because all Jo Malone scents have a delicate quality, this allows for easy layering and generous application.  In hot climates, these scents are perfection!  The one I focus on here would be divine chilled for a bit before applying to amp its refreshing quality, likening it with a cold dip after baking in a sauna for five minutes.  (I liken my hometown to a sauna during June, July and August; so you can see where I am going with this.) 

The scent is White Jasmine & Mint. It headlines with a country garden chock full of spring time blooms, including orange blossom and rose to name a few, and settles on a beautiful study of jasmine that is neither too rich nor too cloying. Jasmine can come off as a bit overpowering in some fragrances but not so here.  Not even a little bit. Instead, it is soft, a bit sweet and a tiny bit sensual.  As the fragrance evolves on the skin, it becomes herbaceous, all while retaining a refreshing quality.  The key word here is fresh. Garden mint, gentle chamomile and grounding tea freshly blend so well together, leaving a soothing fragrance on my skin that falls somewhere between floral and spice. 

I must say for those who fear mint in fragrance, the mint is not an Altoid that overwhelms the palette in an effort to annihilate any other odor.  It is more like a sprig of mint leaf in an iced tea - noticeable but subtle.  At the end of the day, the fragrance remains very close to the skin.  Over the course of wear, the sillage is slight, so I literally spray this one with abandon without fear of overwhelming anyone.  Most importantly, I wear it for me.  Its refreshing qualities and herbaceous tea-like conclusion have become my personal aromatherapy for a sweltering day, no matter if I am headed to work or to the market. 

I recommend layering it for daywear during spring and summer. For those aspiring to greater longevity with White Jasmine & Mint, I layer with the body cream and I find it lasts a full eight hours on my skin.  I also enjoy layering it with Verbenas of Provence, Nectarine Blossom & Honey, Blue Agave & Cacao and Orange Blossom, all from Jo Malone.   

Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint can be found at Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.  A 30ml bottle retails for $55 and a 100ml bottle retails for $110.  The scent can also be found in body cream, body lotion, bath oil and a candle.  I strongly recommend the candle for your home!

Spring Draw Winner!

I appreciate your votes on the fragrance and although I edited to add some tips yesterday, I realize my hints were very cryptic to begin.   I am most humbled and appreciate your effort!  The fragrance I was speaking of is Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint.  See review to be posted later today.  And the winner, selected by randomizer, of a generous sample of this fragrance is ...


Thank you for reading and playing Lean!  I will contact you for more detail. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Honor of Spring, A Draw

Noticing the unseasonal weather across the United States, with five inches of snow in the Pacific Northwest to eighty degree weather in the Midwest, I am certain most of us may have missed the first day of Spring - officially Tuesday, March 20th.  It also happened to be my baby boy's 19 month birthday.  My, how time flies!

In honor of this flourishing and prospering season and all of the beautiful fragrances matching it, I am offering another draw from my collection.  This time, it involves a mystery.  The featured fragrance comes from an understated yet stylish and timeless house.  The juice is most suited for Spring, inspired by a country garden, but can be worn year round and layered.  The notes range from floral to stimulating and I find it delectable.  To demonstrate its softness, I will also share that it was one of the few fragrances from my collection I could tolerate during pregnancy. 

Please enter by commenting below.  I will send a generous decant to those who can identify the house and the fragrance.  In the absence of a winner meeting that criteria, I will conduct a random draw.  Winner announced Monday along with a review of the chosen fragrance!

Edited to add: I will offer the following hints since I realize I am being very cryptic here!  First, the house hails from England.  Second, the fragrance features a white flower native to tropical and subtropical climates.  I hope this helps! 

Friday, March 09, 2012

The Promise of Spring in a Bottle, Guerlain Cruel Gardenia

I grew up in the Midwest and enjoyed all four seasons.  Although the richness and coziness of autumn was my favorite, spring held a close second in my heart.  How could a fragrance lover dislike the hundreds of fragrant, colorful flowers blooming in spring?  I recall tulips, lilacs, daffodils, lavender, hyacinth and magnolia, gifting my yard and my nose, reminding me that summer (and a break from school!) was on the way.  My grandmother adored roses and her rose garden the envy of her neighbors, featuring every species of rose you can imagine.  I moved west to the desert over a decade ago.  The ability to count on the sun shining daily has grounded me here but I do, at times, miss the nuances of the seasons back home, especially the spring flowers.

Spring in the desert entails two simple things around my home: first the scent of  lush, fragrant orange blossoms wafting through the air, and second longer days of balmy, sunny weather.  Once our triple digit heat sets in to torture us for a full five months, we long to return to these beautiful days so I make every effort to enjoy each last minute right now.  Rain, the hallmark of spring's entrance in most climes, eludes us. The blooms of my childhood favorite flowers cannot endure the rampant sun. In the absence of those lush lilacs, lilies, magnolia and roses I cling to my orange blossoms and a great floral fragrance to remind me of my youth. (Granted, I could plant some gardenia or roses in my yard, but a brown thumb prevents me from helping them survive!)

When I first tried Guerlain Cruel Gardenia from the L'Art et la Matiere collection, I at once returned to my childhood.  I recall sitting in my back yard with my dog, anticipating the scent of the surrounding gardens my mother had planted to grace my nose. No one scent overpowered the other as I studied blades of grass and soaked up long awaited sunrays.  Cruel Gardenia resembles just that quiet experience, the scent of flowers being carried on a breeze.  In its early development, neroli and peach escort the sun; bright, light and cheerful.  The stage is clearly set and remains on this light note, never darkening into a more sultry tone.  Instead, various blossoms tenderly embrace the nose over the course of wear including rose, gardenia, ylang ylang and violet. At moments I am reminded of other greenly floral fragrances like Chanel No. 19 or Gucci Envy, but I find disappointment in the fact that the gardenia never truly holds front and center.  Musk and sandalwood offer a nice base for the fragrance, but they certainly do not deepen it.  I was hoping for a take no prisoners gardenia, one that grabs hold of my attention and begs me to surrender.  But alas, this gardenia is never cruel, and only subtle.

I dabbed the sample on my skin and I realize a dab certainly has less impact than a spray.  Nonetheless, it lingered only for a few hours or so, again reminding me of those spring days of my youth.  The effect it leaves is that of a refined floral, very well constructed and not at all offensive.  If I could spray it with abandon maybe it would bring more pizazz?  I picture wearing this on a spring day when I want to feel pretty and remember those spring days of my youth, accessorized with pink lipstick and a crisp white shirt.  I do not hesitate to reference it "spring in a bottle" and a very expensive bottle at that.  Cruel Gardenia beats many department store, massly produced, often copied fruity florals that dominate the market lately.  (If only women would stop buying mediocre fragrances and substitute those with one Guerlain!) I find it utterly wearable and delicate. If gifted to me, I would gladly wear it; I just do not feel compelled to buy it. 

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia is available at Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman.  A 2.5 ounce atomizer spray retails for $250. 

Draw Winner Announced!

Thank you to those who participated in the drawing for a generous sample of Byredo Accord Oud.  I am pleased with all the feedback and will gladly review each fragrance mentioned over the course of the next few weeks.  Without further ado, the winner is ....


Your name was selected through randomizer and you are the lucky winner.  Please send your full name and address to  Thank you for playing!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


I have gobs of perfume.  I mean gobs.  I adore sharing from my stash (what is the pleasure in hoarding?) so I will randomly post drawings for generous decants.  This will be the first in what I plan to be a weekly endeavor.  Enter here in the comments section for the first offering - a generous glass vial atomizer of my beloved Byredo Accord Oud!  Simply suggest a scent for review from the following list and your name will be randomized:

Estee Lauder Private Collection Jasmine and White Moss
Givenchy π
Guerlain Cruel Gardenia
Montale Boisè Vanillè
Parfumerie Generale Bois Blond

Winner announced Friday!

A History of Perfume from The Fragrance House

I am pleased to present a most kind gift from The Fragrance House, featuring an informative history on perfume as an artform.  Enjoy!  Please stay tuned for a review to be posted Friday.
The History Of Perfume

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Lab On Fire What We Do In Paris Is Secret

I wanted my inaugural review after my respite to feature an inspiring fragrance.  I have sampled many in the last year but none so inspiring to propel my mind out of its writing slumber.  When I started researching A Lab On Fire I was surprised at their small, focused laboratory in New York.  I like small and focused.  I think limited production can create stellar concepts.  Furthermore, when I discovered Dominique Ropion had his hand in What We Do In Paris Is Secret, I knew it would be artistic.  Dominique Ropion is the nose behind my beloved Frederic Malle Carnal Flower and my mother's beloved Frederic Malle Portrait of a Lady.

What I did not know before sampling this fragrance is it would surpass my love of Serge Luten's Chergui, that I would press my nose to the spot where I dabbed it a hundred times in less than an hour, and, most importantly, that I would want to write about it.  This fragrance is an inspiring intrigue all right.

The notes on A Lab On Fire's website name bergamot, honey and lychee at the top, a heart of Turkish rose essence, vanilla and heliotrope on a base of tonka bean, tolu, sandalwood and ambergris.  At once I smell the honey and vanilla, freshened but not sweetened by the citrusy lychee.  As it lingers on the skin, heliotrope dominates with the warmth of tonka bean, rich resin of tolu, and bright yet sensual sandalwood grounding it.  The Turkish rose essence must have a minimal offering, for I barely detect it.  I am certain in  M. Ropion's mind it no doubt serves a purpose.  I have historically enjoyed creamy and sweet, vanillic fragrances so it is not surprising I found love at first sniff with What We Do In Paris Is Secret.  I love it for the same reason I adore nuzzling my cat just behind the ear, or munching on my baby boy's neck, or even wrapping a soft pashmina around my shoulder in a chilled moment.

What We Do In Paris Is Secret, the title so long I must now abbreviate (WWDIPIS), reminds me of the qualities I appreciate in Serge Lutens Chergui -- sweet, comforting, rich and sexy.  Even though I love Luten's creation, I surprisingly only reach for it on cold winter nights and its spiciness can be a bit much for me.  I find WWDIPIS wearable anytime, anywhere - a beautifully sexy comfort scent that remains close to the skin but when sprayed at the nape of the neck shares that comfort with others.  I ironically chose to review it on a day that I mentioned another comfort scent, Bvlgari Blv, and WWDIPIS has striking similarity to the characteristics of that beautiful fragrance as well.  I have also seen this fragrance compared to Nicolai's Kiss Me Tender and Kenzo's Amour

On the whole, this fragrance is beautiful enough to stand on its own merit without comparison.  Although I realize the title may be viewed as pretentiously long, I would love a stranger to ask me what I am wearing so that I can say the name!  I adore the graphic packaging as it reiterates the urban chic of the lab.  With this fragrance, the small and focused house have succeeded.  I have no doubt What We Do In Paris Is Secret will be loved by many.

A Lab On Fire What We Do In Paris Is Secret is available at  A 60ml Eau de Parfum retails for $110.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Redefined: Byredo Accord Oud

I believe we can redefine ourselves with a scent. Maybe I just take myself too seriously. Maybe I long for variety more than the average woman. But a few weeks ago, I wanted to become someone else -- someone more sophisticated than the baby toting, Barney song singing, bottle preparing, make-up-less Mommy that I am of late. I wanted to feel different. I knew I needed a scent to inspire this virtual transformation.

I found it. I found the one that makes me want to paint my lips, tousle my hair, speak a little slower, bare some shoulder skin and bat my eyelashes. I found the one that helps me forget the tedious tasks of the day and instead focus on sensation, emotion, tenderness. I found the one that highlights my wise, determined nature. Finally, I found the one that takes me to dimly lit rooms, crackling fires, velvety rugs and blankets. It is Byredo Accord Oud.

Founded by Indian creative Ben Gorham, Byredo is a Stockholm based house that believes in limiting raw materials and focusing on quality of craftsmanship. Accord Oud is one of fourteen in the catalog, along with various high quality candles, soaps and body washes.

The scent begins fresh, with notes like clean clary sage and tender blond woods accented by dry leather which initially demands all olfactory attention. As it evolves on the skin, Accord Oud takes on a simultaneously rich, smoky, nutty quality. Juicy blackberry and plum, rich, intoxicating rum with spicy saffron and cinnamon develop as the scent adheres and grounds itself to the skin. Surprisingly, the effect is neither sweet nor wet but rather dry, elegant, meaty, almost edible. Like L’Artisan Traversée du Bosphore’s wise, clean, intellectual mentor, Accord Oud is startlingly refined and exceptionally interesting. In its entirety, Accord Oud resembles nothing I have previously experienced. The oud craze passed me by as too heady and the revival of leather-based scents appeared trendy. However, I declare Byredo Accord Oud the quiet, sophisticated leather oud – for those who previously dismissed these notes.

Here is where the scent redefines me: no flowers. This former opulent white floral lover has embraced a scent that completely lacks blooms. In so doing, I instantly reveal my new identity: grown up sophisticate. (I am definitely taking myself too seriously!) In all sincerity, I am a different woman than I was before bearing children. Byredo Accord Oud’s classy, interesting, unique aura lends an extra edge and elegance to my long, maternal days.

*Posted last March on Perfume-Smellin Things

Sunday, February 05, 2012

For the love of leather

Two leather-featuring scents captivated me last winter and continue to do so.  Accord Oud by Byredo takes first place.  Its leather and oud lusciousness transports me to even chillier temps and dimly lit, sophisticated lounges, toasty fires and Italian leather club chairs; its hint of ladylike blackberry, clary sage and powdery musk act to ground the scent and prevent it from overwhelming the nose.  The second, L’Artisan Parfumeur Traversée du Bosphore -- velvety leather that morphs into nutty, gourmand goodness and eventually musky vanilla – pairs perfectly with stylish boots and a colorful scarf during winter’s cooler days in the desert.