Monday, August 13, 2012

A Lady's Guide to Wearing Peoneve by Penhaligon's

I so want to try this. My only Penhaligon's retailer in town closed it's doors in the spring. Note to Toronto retailers: there is a big hole in the perfume market in Toronto. Someone please carry Penhaligon's!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Orange You A Sweetie: Love By Kilian

I seem to be going through a mid-life crisis, but instead of flashy sports cars, I'm finding myself drawn to sweet perfumes that young girls might wear. Maybe this is just my natural evolution as a perfumista? I started my perfume obsession loving spicy, woody, and incense perfumes. It took me a while to enjoy white florals and even longer to appreciate roses. I even starting liking fruity florals that I would have turned up my nose at previously. Now here I am, four years into this olfactory hobby, and I've fallen in love with Love, a sugary sweet perfume that I would have judged as way too young for me just a short time ago.

Maybe it's the heat. We're in the middle of a hot, sticky summer in Toronto and I've always had a thing for creamsicles, that vanilla ice-cream and orange treat on a stick. Love, (full title: Love, don't be shy) is mostly an orange blossom perfume, dipped in vanilla and covered in powdered sugar. As it wears on the skin it gets  richer and more animalic. The sugar turns into caramel and the base feels thick and resiny.

I may have to save up for a bottle of Love. By Kilian perfumes aren't cheap, and I suspect that there are many other sweetie vanilla, orange blossom perfumes out these that I could try, but I do love the By Kilian line. Nothing ever smells cheap in a By Kilian perfume and the strength and lasting power is amazing. Just the tiniest drop of Love on my wrist lasts all day.

So what do you think, is my new love for the sweet perfume just the natural progression of my nose as I lose my early perfumista prejudices and broaden my palette? Or am having a second childhood? How do you feel about sugary perfumes?

House: By Kilian
Nose: Calice Becker
Notes: bergamot, neroli, pink pepper, coriander, honeysuckle, orange blossom,  jasmine, rose, iris, civet, caramelised sugar accord, vanilla, cist labdanum, white musk

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Tale of Two Rhubarbs: Hermes Rose Ikebana and Aedes de Venustas Signature

Deliciously tart, ruby red stalked and leafy green, rhubarb grew like a weed in the bottom of our garden in late spring. When I was a child, my mother would give us rhubarb stalks freshly picked and trimmed with the ends dipped in sugar.

Rhubarb isn't a common note in perfume, but I ran across it three times this spring. The first was in La Tulipe by Byredo where it lent an impression of brilliant red and green to a perfume built around the idea of the spring flower.

Then this June, I was lucky enough to go on a vacation to Las Vegas. I love the hot, dry desert; it's so different than my usual wet, cold or humid Toronto. While in Vegas, I went perfume shopping - naturally. I found myself drawn to two perfumes with a distinct rhubarb note: Rose Ikebana by Hermes and the new Signature from Aedes de Venustas.

Rose Ikebana

"Beautiful and minimalist, the traditional Japanese art of ikebana - arranging bouquets of cut flowers and leaves using very few elements - ideally corresponded to a form of expression I could transpose in a perfume. The smell of a rose early in the morning, damp, sprinkled with dew, delicate and light." - Jean-Claude Ellena
I had to include that beautiful quote from the perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena because it perfectly describes the perfume and, I think, his famously minimalist style. In Rose Ikebana, the rhubarb note is tart but sheer and a little like grapefruit. Although I originally went into the Hermes store planning to buy Pamplemousse Rose, I ended up with a bottle of the more subtle Rose Ikebana. After the rose and rhubarb, the dominant note is green tea. Dry and pretty, but not soapy or sweet, Rose Ikebana is the perfect antidote for the heat. Spray liberally however, for I find it doesn't last. [P.S. The Hermes in the Crystals shopping centre has the nicest store director! We chatted for a long time about perfume and Jean-Claude Ellena. He made me feel quite at ease in a store where I couldn't afford anything but the perfume.]

House: Hermes
Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena
Notes: rose, rhubarb, green tea

Aedes de Venustas Signature

When I saw the heavy amethyst bottle with its gold scroll top, I did a little jump for joy, right there in Barneys at the Venetian. The new Signature perfume from the niche perfume store Aedes de Venustas in New York is only available in their own shop or in Barneys and a few other places, but no retailers in Canada, so I was really excited to be able to try it. Not to mention that Signature was created by one of my favourite perfumes, Bertrand Duchaufour.

My first impression of Signature was "Huh. Weird." But after an hour with it on my hand I knew it was the most interesting thing I had smelled in while, and I went back for a bottle. It's very unique. It's also hard to describe because Signature has so many different facets. Mostly I smell damp earth with green growing things and a tension between bitter and tart. The tartness is the rhubarb, running like a green grapefruit note throughout the bitter earth. There's a dry woody hint of incense and something kind of funky in that dirt too, like compost in the garden, but I wasn't quite able to name what it reminded me of until I got home. I was walking in the hallway of my apartment building and smelled a familiar skunky sweetness and I had a light bulb moment! In an interview with Bertrand Duchaufour on Grain de Musc, he says he inserted a "ganja" accord into Signature. It's just a hint that pops up now and again in a very complicated but thoroughly enjoyable perfume. I've been wearing Aedes de Venustas Signature a lot this month and I am not even close to getting bored with it. I think it will be great all year 'round too.

House: Aedes de Venustas
Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour
Notes: rhubarb, hazlenut, green apple, ganja, vetiver, incense

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Narcisse Noir by Caron

The Lady Is Still A Little Strange

I purchased Narcisse Noir this spring on a whim. I was attracted to the name! I had never smelled it and I knew very well that it had middling reviews. Narcisse Noir is one of those perfumes that has been said to have been drastically reformulated since it's original release in 1911. Tania Sanchez in "Perfumes, The Guide" says it's a shadow of its former self; that it's lost all its drama and strangeness.

Well, I don't think so. It may not be what it was, but having never smelled the original, I can't miss it. What Narcisse Noir is now, is a pretty orange blossom perfume that manages to be both ladylike and a little odd at the same time.

Narcisse Noir isn't about narcissus. A fresh orange blossom dominates the perfume. The orange blossom has a soapy quality like very expensive, fine-milled French soaps.  It makes me feel graceful. But somewhere underneath the sweet flowers and soap is the smell of dry dirt. Can dirt be elegant? Imagine the smell of very expensive, fine-milled French dirt.  The combination of clean and dirty makes Narcisse Noir fun to wear.

Narcisse Noir may be a pretty, clean orange blossom on top, but she still hides a strange side.

House: Caron
Nose: Ernest Daltroff
Notes: african orange flower, narcissus, jasmine, orange, rose, vetyver, musk and sandalwood.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Lancôme - Ô de l'Orangerie


Doesn't everybody love a sundress? A sheer, pretty scrap of nothing that you can throw on and feel completely comfortable on a hot day is a wardrobe staple. Not into dresses? Think of a well-worn, soft linen shirt. Ô de l'Orangerie is like that - a sheer and casual veil for summertime.

Released this spring, Ô de l'Orangerie is the 3rd flanker to the original Ô de Lancôme. It opens with sunny orange blossom and a brisk orange peel. The heart is a light clean jasmine and the base notes are soft and almost undetectable. In general, Ô de l'Orangerie stays a pretty, lightly orange, slightly sweet jasmine on my skin.

Unfortunately it doesn't stay too long, but at only C$54 for 75ml, one could afford to re-spray often.

House: Lancôme
Nose: ?
Notes: orange zest, orange blossom essential oil, orange blossom absolute, jasmine, benzoin, cedar

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Byredo La Tulipe

Life is a bowl of tulips

It's a cold and rainy April day, perfect for contemplating my lovely vase of tulips. They were a gift from my old office. I start at a new office on Monday. Spring is a good time for new beginnings and tulips are my favourite spring flower. Beautiful, cheerful, delicate but strong, tulips don't have a strong floral smell, but they do have a soft, clean smell, like a vegetal musk.

Byredo La Tulipe was created to reflect the soul of the tulip, not just it's smell. It starts green and fresh  - not sweet but slightly peppery. The rhubarb is noticeable later as a sour-cherry note; it makes me think of the bright reds and pinks of tulip petals. The base is a cool clean musk with a hint of earth.

Overall, La Tulipe gives the impression of freshness, clean shoots and pink buds growing on a cool wet day. My only criticism is that it doesn't last long, but that means I can spray liberally.

House: Byredo
Nose: Jerôme Epinette
Notes: Rhubarb, Cyclamen, Freesia, Tulip, Blonde Woods, Vetiver

Photo of tulips, mine.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Byredo Green (Happy St. Patrick's Day!)

Green Milk

Byredo is a Swedish fragrance house, founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham. Byredo manufactures all its perfumes in Sweden and has a vision based on craftsmanship and fine materials. The noses of the house are Olivia Giacobetti and Jerôme Epinette, who did Green.

Even though Byredo just became available in Toronto in February, at Holt Renfrew, there was a previous Canadian connection. Ben's dad was Canadian and he lived in Oakville and Toronto. Green was inspired by Ben's memories of his father's scent, an "overdose of green notes," a combination of green beans and Geoffry Beene Grey Flannel.

Green is an unusual combination of bitter green notes and sweet, milky-powdery notes.  It opens with a blast of bitter green and orange blossom. After a couple of minutes this becomes the smell of green stems and fresh cut flowers. The smell is much like walking into the cold room of a florist - the damp, sweet and green smells of freesia and cut stems. As Green develops on my skin, a soapy aspect becomes noticeable. It's half creamy, half powdery-sweet.

The effect reminds me of milkweed and the sticky, milky-white sap that seeps out when you break its leaves or stems. The smell and feel of milkweed are vivid memories from my childhood, from early pinkish flowers, through fat green pods, to dried husks filled with downy fluff and seeds. As a result, I find the wearing Green very innocent and comforting.

House: Byredo
Nose: Jerôme Epinette
Notes: Orange petitgrain, sage, jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, violet, tonka, almond, musk