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.