Thursday, September 30, 2010

P Frapin & Cie - Caravelle Epicée

Take a voyage on a spice ship

The Frapin family has been creating wines and cognac in France since 1270, through 20 generations. It may seem odd at first, that the company started a line of perfumes, but there are many similarities between Cognac and perfume. Both share a long, proud history in France; both rely on the skill and creativity of great craftsmen; and both represent the ideal of luxury and physical pleasure. Also, the quality of both depends on the quality of their ingredients. In the far history of perfume, those ingredients were often imported from far away by explorers and traders.

Caravelle  Epicée recalls the voyages of the spice trader ships of the 15th and 16th centuries. The caravel was a vessel of great importance at this time, developed in Iberia it was used by Portuguese and Spanish explorers along the west coast of Africa and in numerous voyages around South Africa in attempts to reach India. It was also used to cross the Atlantic - the Nina and the Pinta of Christopher Columbus's famous voyage to the new world were most probably caravels.

The perfume opens with a big blast of spices, like walking in the hold of a ship filled with barrels of precious ingredients from exotic lands. The spices are dry and hot, with a lot of cumin, nutmeg and pepper. I also smell smoky wood, which makes me imaging the barrels themselves and the planks of the ship. After the initial desert wind of spices, a boozy vanilla note can be detected - maybe a barrel of finely distilled spirits is on this voyage as well.

If Caravelle  Epicée stayed with those notes I would be ordering a bottle today, but alas, it does some other strange things on my skin. I want it to be a cozy cashmere blanket, and it insists on being a bracing day on a rough sea. There is a slightly sour, dill pickle note that pops up on me when I'm least expecting it. And it has a very salty quality in the drydown that, while perfectly appropriate for a sea-going vessel, is not so much what I'm looking for in a perfume.

I'd like to smell Caravelle  Epicée on a man, I think it might be amazing in a pirate sort of way. 

House: P Frapin & Cie
Nose: Jeanne-Marie Faugier
Notes: Coriander, nutmeg, hot pepper, pepper, thyme, Gaiac wood, patchouli, amber, tobacco, sandalwood

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Video - Perfumer Honorine Blanc

Perfumer Honorine Blanc, who collaborated on Yves Saint Laurent's Belle d'Opium, talks about her inspirations and creating perfumes that will endure.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Yves Saint Laurent - Belle d'Opium

A snuffed candle

Yves Saint Laurent launched its best-selling fragrance Opium, in 1977. It was one of the big iconic perfumes of the 80s, a fragrance that signified exoticism, mystery, danger and sensuality. Its popularity and its decadent scent trail inexorably led to a backlash against heady perfumes that I think we're still recovering from. 

So, in 2010, YSL released Belle d'Opium, the latest flanker to the famous oriental. The YSL web site says that it contains an "overdose of rare and precious ingredients to take extreme femininity to the limits of indecency." Ah, no. Belle d'Opium doesn't even get near my limits of indecency, but I do like it.

Belle d'Opium opens with white pepper, a hint of peach and some sandalwood from the base showing through. The heart of the perfume revolves around what they refer to as the "Nargileh accord" and incense. Nargileh is a tobacco water pipe (hookah is basically the same thing), like I described in Fumerie Turque. But I don't smell tobacco in Belle d'Opium. Instead the idea of a lazy curling column of smoke has been created with a smoky note that smells like a just-snuffed candle, with a touch of incense weaving through it. The bottle hints at this candle aspect with a red wick running through the middle.

Although "Casablanca Lily" is the flower that the marketing focuses on, I don't really smell lily either, which is a good thing by me.  Lily is one of the new "it" notes this season but not one of my favourite flowers. Belle d'Opium has a quiet, well-blended white floral bouquet, quite demure and nondescript actually, supporting the curling smoke heart. It's almost as if the fat, waxy petals of those flowers translate into the waxiness of white candles. The base is a musky wood with patchouli - pretty much the ubiquitous "new chypre" base.

Belle d'Opium is fairly quiet, staying close to the skin (unlike the original) and fading after a few hours. I'm disappointed that Belle d'Opium, with such a delicious list of notes, and marketing that promises an "overdose" of ingredients, is so tame to me, but that seems to be the way that the big main-stream perfumes are done these days. Truly "indecent" perfumes, or perfumes that dare to have sillage, still can only be found in the smaller niche lines.

But Belle d'Opium is pretty. I like wearing it. If I could get a big bottle inexpensively, I could see spraying this on liberally in the cooler months. I like to relax in those long dark evenings with candles burning and a cashmere wrap for cuddling. Belle d'Opium would be a good comfort scent for those casual evenings, shut away from the rest of the world, lolling about on the couch. Not unlike an opium den, actually.

House: Yves Saint Laurent
Nose: Honorine Blanc and Alberto Morillas
Notes: Sample card lists: Casablanca Lily, incense and Nargileh accord. OzMoz lists: top note: Mandarin Orange, Lily, Gardenia, White Flowers middle note: Frankincense, Peach, Pepper, Tabacco, Hookah Accord, Fruity Notes base note: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Smoky Notes, Amber

Photo: One of a series of photographs by Hungarian photojournalist Brassaï taken in Paris in the early 1930s. Via stevechasmar.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

DSH Perfumes: Secrets of Egypt, Part 3 of 3: 1,000 Lilies and Megaleion

The mummy returns

Perfumer and aromatherapist Dawn Spencer Hurwitz collaborated with the Denver Art Museum on a set of special perfumes to accompany their 2010-2011 King Tut exhibit, The Secrets of Egypt. The perfumes are only available from the DAM and the DHS web site.

This is the third part of my 3 part review of the Secrets of Egypt collection. Read part 1 and part 2.

1,000 Lilies (aka Susinon)
Susinon was a luxurious and strongly scented lily perfume that was made by the Egyptians as well as the Greeks, but the Egyptian version was thought to “excel most’. This fabulous fragrance was also used by Cleopatra to scent the sails of her royal barge, perfuming the air along the Nile as she sailed, proclaiming herself as Goddess and Queen.
1,000 Lilies starts with spices, cardamom and cinnamon again as in the other Secrets of Egypt perfumes, but softer than they were in Cardamom and Kyphi. They are joined by a fresh lily. DSH has created a realistic top-to-bottom lily for this perfume, I can smell the oily pollen (narcissus), the thick petaled flower (Kenya lily), and the roots (orris root). Lily is not my  favourite flower but it's well done here. Although strong at first, 1,000 Lilies doesn't have much lasting power and disappears on my skin after 3 hours.

Top notes: Cardamom Seed, Cinnamon Bark, Fragrant Wine (accord), Galbanum
Middle notes: Kenya Lily, Narcissus Absolute, Orris Root, Pink Lotus, Saffron absolute, Turkish Rose Otto, Ylang-Ylang
Base notes: Australian Sandalwood, Honey, Myrrh Gum, Sweet Flag

By the time of Pliny the Elder, Megaleion had achieved a kind of celebrity due to it’s extreme cost, complexity of ingredients and the painstaking method of it’s production.
Megaleion has good sillage and lasting power. It starts with frankincense and cinnamon, then opens into a fruity rose with sweet grasses. The drydown has lots of great sandalwood and something sweet, almost anisic that I think is the sweet flag. This was one of my favourites from the set.

Top notes: Cardamom co2 Absolute, Cassia, Cinnamon Bark, Fragrant Wine (accord), Lemongrass
Middle notes: Australian Sandalwood, Balm of Gilead (accord), Spikenard, Turkish Rose Otto
Base notes: Copaiba Balsam, Costus, Myrrh Gum, Olibanum (Frankincense), Peru Balsam, Pine Resin, Sweet Flag

I enjoyed reviewing the Secrets of Egypt perfume collection. All were pleasant, but I liked Arome d'Egypt, Cardamom and Kyphi and Megaleion the best.

I find it romantic to pretend I might be  smelling the same as Cleopatra, fresh from her milk bath, anointed with oils and cruising down the Nile on a barge with perfumed sails.

House: DSH Perfumes, Parfums des Beaux Arts CollectionNose: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

All I am - a redhead has posted a review of Antiu, check it out!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

DSH Perfumes: Secrets of Egypt, Part 2 of 3: Cardamom and Kyphi and Antiu

Smell like an Egyptian

Perfumer and aromatherapist Dawn Spencer Hurwitz collaborated with the Denver Art Museum on a set of special perfumes to accompany their 2010-2011 King Tut exhibit, The Secrets of Egypt. The perfumes are only available from the DAM and the DHS web site.

This is the second part of my 3 part review on the Secrets of Egypt collection. See part 1 here.

Cardamom and Khyphi
" probably the most famous of all early Egyptian perfumes handed down to us from antiquity"

The famous Egyptian perfume Kyphi was primarily used as an incense in temples and also as a remedy for ailments like nightmares and snake bites. The Greek physician Dioscorides wrote down one of the earliest surviving recipes for Kyphi. Piny and Plutarch also mentioned it and its various ingredients, which included: wine, honey, raisins, cinnamon and cassia bark, cedar, juniper berry, and resins such as frankincense, myrrh, benzoin, and labdanum.

Cardamom, although not native to Egypt was imported from India in ancient times. It works beautifully with the cinnamon. CaK is mostly cardamom and cinnamon to my nose, with a dry woody base. It's delicious. If you like those spices, I would definitely give it a sniff.

Top notes: Cardamom co2 Absolute, Cardamom Seed
Middle notes: Khyphi
Base notes: Khyphi

Antiu (aka Metopian)
Antiu is the name we chose for our modern adaptation of “Metopion”, a famous Egyptian perfume that had been known some 300 years before Pliny the Elder and Dioscorides mentioned it. ... it was widely considered to be “the most exquisite fragrance imaginable, hence the ideal scent”.
Antiu starts with a strong lemongrass note but dries down to something faintly grassy, sweet and balsamic. It's very herbal and the most "natural" smelling of the group.

Top notes: Bitter Almond, Cardamom co2 Absolute, Fragrant Wine (accord), Galbanum, Lemongrass
Middle notes: Australian Sandalwood, Gallica Rose Otto, Honey Beeswax
Base notes: Copaiba Balsam, Mastic, Myrrh Gum, Peru Balsam, Pine Resin, Sweet Flag

House: DSH Perfumes, Parfums des Beaux Arts CollectionNose: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

DSH Perfumes: The Secrets of Egypt Collection, Part 1 of 3: Arome d'Egypte and Keni

Walk like an Egyptian

Perfumer and aromatherapist Dawn Spencer Hurwitz collaborated with the Denver Art Museum on a set of special perfumes to accompany their 2010-2011 King Tut exhibit, The Secrets of Egypt. The perfumes are only available from the DAM and the DHS web site.

This is part one of my 3 part review of the Secrets of Egypt Collection. 

From a limited palette of notes, those that would have been used in ancient Egyptian perfumes, DSH has created a amazing collection of beautiful and wearable fragrances. By using many of the same notes in each, the collection stands together, but each perfumes focuses on a different accord and has its own personality.

Arome d'Egypte (Special Edition)

Inspired by the perfumes of the Pharaohs. 
Arome d'Egypte focuses on the scent of spikenard. Oil from the root of spikenard was prized in the ancient world as a perfume fit for kings. Kept in alabaster vessels, spikenard was a luxury that had to be imported from far away Nepal. Spikenard is mentioned 3 times in the bible's Song of Songs and the New Testament tell us that Mary of Bethany used a whole pound of costly spikenard ointment to annoint Jesus's feet, causing some grumbling about the waste of money amongst the disciples. I've never smelled it, but reportedly spikenard has a sweet/spicy/musky scent and that's what I smell at the heart of Arome d'Egypt.

Arome d'Egypte also uses many other aromatic ingredients from ancient perfumerie, and these notes are equally present. At first I smell frankincense and balsam then later cedar and cinnamon surrounding the herbal spikenard note. It's a very soothing herbal and resin fragrance with a hint of spiciness. Arome d'Egypte is one of two in the collection that I would consider buying myself.

Top notes: Cassia
Middle notes: Centifolia Rose Absolute, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Spikenard
Base notes: Ambrette Seed, Atlas Cedarwood, Australian Sandalwood, Benzoin, Labdanum No. 3, Myrrh Gum, Olibanum (Frankincense), Peru Balsam

Keni (aka the Medesian / the Egyptian)
Keni (which means embrace) is the name we chose for our modern adaptation of “the Medesian”. ...Especially popular during Ptolomeic period, it is said that Cleopatra scented her feet with the Mendesian
Keni has a strong cinnamon note that is the star of the show, supported by cardamom. It dries down to base of myrrh with a hint of cinnamon. I think it would be nice to have my feet smell like Keni, but it's not a perfume I would wear often.

Top notes: Bitter Almond, Cardamom co2 Absolute, Cassia, Cinnamon Bark
Middle notes: Australian Sandalwood, Benzoin, Fragrant Wine (accord)
Base notes: Atlas Cedarwood, Myrrh Gum, Pine Resin

House: DSH Perfumes, Parfums des Beaux Arts Collection
Nose: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Serge Lutens - Fumerie Turque

Istanbul smoke

Here's another tobacco perfume from my collection. I love a good tobacco scent in the fall. It's a comfort scent; it makes me feel like flannel shirts and kicking through piles of golden leaves on a sunny day.

Fumerie Turque recreates the smell of a Turkish smoking salon. I've been to Turkey but unfortunately never went to any of the cafes in Instanbul where patrons smoke nargile, a water pipe. A popular fixture of Turkish culture and a place to relax and chat with friends and strangers, these shops have recently suffered from a 2009 ban on indoor smoking. As far as I can tell from reading, it seems they now mostly have patrons partake outdoors on patios.

The nargile tobacco at these shops is frequently favoured with fruit. Fumerie Turque uses Serge Lutens famous stewed fruit accord well here, combining it with a light blond tobacco note that seems to float above like smoke. The perfume is this perfectly balanced between the sweet and the bitter, the dark and the light, the heavy and the weightless. The tobacco seems both dryly herbal and sticky fresh. It reminds me of pipe tobacco and the smell of my uncle's pipe.

In the drydown, the fruit becomes honey and the patchouli in the base is an earthy chocolate with only the tinge of bitterness from the tobacco to keep it from being gourmand. I highly recommend Fumerie Turque for anyone who loves the smell of tobacco. And you can use it indoors.

House: Serge Lutens
Nose: Christopher Sheldrake
Notes: honey, juniper berries, tonka bean, chamomile, patchouli, vanilla, jasmine leaf, turkish rose, red currant, tobacco, styrax and suede

Photo: robokow

Friday, September 17, 2010

Molinard - Habanita

Happiness is a good cigar

"Divine in hookas, glorious in a pipe
When tipp'd with amber, mellow, rich, and ripe;
Like other charmers, wooing the caress
More dazzlingly when daring in full dress;
Yet thy true lovers more admire by far
Thy naked beauties–give me a cigar!"
Lord Byron, "The Island"

Molinard was founded in 1849 in Grasse, France, and boasts of being the oldest, entirely family-run, business in France, right through to the present day.

In 1921 Molinard created Habanita "the perfume for cigarettes." Chic Parisiennes applied the perfume to their cigarettes. Enough women must have been dabbing it on themselves as well, because in 1924 it was re-released as a perfume and became "the world's most long lasting perfume." It still comes in a beautiful art nouveau style bottle, a replica of the original Lalique design.

Habanita is quite strong at first, and has significant sillage, so watch out if you work in environment where you need to be careful about these things. It opens with a sharp, bitter tobacco, an earthy vetiver, and a very powdery vanilla with just a hint of rose. After a few minutes, the tobacco smooths out, gets rounder, and takes on a sweet leather aspect. My my favourite part is later in the dry down, when Habanita becomes the perfect scent of a fine, unlit cigar.

Imagine dusting yourself all over with vanilla-scented baby powder, curling up in a wood-panelled library on an old leather chair, then opening a wooden cigar box with fresh cigars and inhaling. That's Habanita. And it does last forever – it's still a great tobacco scent on my skin far into the evening.

I hope Molinard and Habanita remain the same for many years to come.

House: Molinard
Notes: Top notes are orange blossom, raspberry, peach and bergamot; middle notes are lilac, orris root, jasmine, heliotrope, ylang-ylang and rose; base notes are leather, amber, musk, benzoin, vanilla, oakmoss and cedar.

Photo: sgirolimetto

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Caron - Tabac Blond

I wish I knew her when

Caron's Tabac Blond was created in 1919, a "deliberately provocative1" perfume for the chic, liberated women of that era, women who smoked in public. It borrowed leather notes from masculine perfumes and combined them with tobacco and vanilla. Tabac Blond informed the great leather perfumes that came after, like Cuir de Russie, Bandit and Cabochard.

According to Luca Turin in Perfumes, The Guide, Tabac Blond was a stunner in her time. Now she barely registers. I spilled half of my sample vial on my arm, and I could still barely smell it. Very soft tobacco and smoky leather notes open the perfume, and hint at what it should be, but they fade to a powdery amber with no presence at all.

What once was for a woman who wished to be provocative, Tabac Blond is now the perfect fragrance for one who's afraid to be.

House: Caron
Nose: Ernest Daltroff (original), Richard Fraysse (reformualtion)
Notes: leather, iris, cedar

1 From the Caron website.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rochas - Femme Rochas

Mae West
Too much of a good thing... can be wonderful

According to the Rochas web site, Marcel Rochas was inspired in his bottle selection for Femme Rochas by the hips of Mae West. The perfume itself resembles the famous hollywood actress – over-the-top, sensual, sassy, spicy and very womanly.

Femme Rochas was created in 1944 by the young perfumer Edmond Roudnitska, one of the 20th century's most famous perfumers, who went on to create the best lily of the valley perfume ever, Diorissimo.  Rochas wanted a perfume that exuded sensuality and was unforgettable. Rounditska proposed a new direction from the popular leather-tobacco, green chypres of the day – a fruity-chypre with spices.

My sample of Femme Rochas EDP opens with a sharp sour fruit note, while still wet, that passes quickly. It could be the bergamot, which I'm having a problem with lately. But after that, the peach and plum fruits take over. They're wonderful and covered in spices. I smell the cumin and a tiny bit of cinnamon and I thought maybe cardamon as well, but that might be me associating cumin with Indian spices. The reformulation in 1989, by Oliver Cresp, apparently added the cumin note. Cumin in perfume can be divisive, but I guess I'm on the "love it" side. In Femme Rochas, it adds a sensual, personal skin note that's very sexy. It makes the luscious fruit warm, but never sticky sweet.

Under the stone fruit and spices is a chypre base. It's earthy and dry and woody with a touch of smooth sweetness. Fragrantica lists leather in the base notes,  but I don't smell it. Maybe leather was part of the original formula, which would make sense if Roudnitska was playing with the leather chypre ideas of perfumes like Tabac Blond or Bandit, released the same year.

Some may find Femme Rochas to be too much; it certainly isn't as light as many of today's releases, but I think it's divine. Femme Rochas is all woman and maybe you'd like to come up and see her sometime.

House: Rochas
Nose: Edmond Roudnitska (original) Oliver Cresp (reformulation)
Notes: Top: Bergamot oil, Peach notes, Plum notes Heart: Jasmine absolute, Bulgarian rose oil, cumin oil Base: Oakmoss absolute, Patchouli oil, Vanilla extract

Photo: Mae West

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Caron - Royal Bain de Caron

Wine gums and vanilla powder

My leather posts have led me down the path of some older perfumes, the Grand Old Dames I like to call them.  So I thought I would just go with the flow. All the Grand Old Dames I review are modern versions, not vintage, unless I otherwise say otherwise.

Royal Bain de Caron was created in 1941, according to the Caron website:
"To satify the whims of a California billionaire seeking a fragrance to replace the champagne with which he scented his extravagant bath..."
Caron's web site also says it is now selling Royal Bain de Caron as a bath scent again. That's telling.

The opening of RBdC is sweet and fizzy and smells like wine gums. There is a vanilla powder with this that may be from benzoin. After an hour or so I get the faintest hint of an indolic jasmine maybe that unfortunately doesn't last. The dry down is a whisper of cedar.

I think this might be very nice in a bath product, but it's not for me as a perfume.

House: Caron
Nose: Ernest Daltroff
Notes: lilac, cedar, sandalwood

Photo: ecstaticist

Friday, September 10, 2010


In honour of my man's birthday, I present Mandom!

Don't you love it!? I'm dying to smell this. If anyone has some vintage 1970's Mandom, please let me know.

Happy birthday BÖ.


There are more!

Parfums Grès - Cabochard

A once beautiful woman

Cabochard, the first perfume from the fashion house of Grès, was released in 1959 and had it's 50th anniversary in 2009. I've never smelled the original juice, just the modern bottle I bought this year in a discount store. It's too bad. Luca Turin, in Perfumes, The Guide, says "Cabochard was once the greatest leather chypre of all."

One of the things I find most interesting in the history of Cabochard is that Madame Grès originally wanted to release a lighter, floral perfume, but was convinced to go with the leathery, green-chypre because the more popular perfumes then on the market were stronger, like Bandit. What a change from the way things are today! How I wish that things were now as they were then and more perfumes like Cabochard were being released.

Cabochard uses the same chemical, isobutyl quinoline, to create its leather note that Bandit and Cuir de Russie both use.  In Cabochard, the leather is much softer and  it has less (almost no discernable) oakmoss. I like the soft tobacco and leather notes that I catch in my sillage, but these two notes seem to hover over a green base that, when I sniff closely, is thin and a little synthetic smelling.

My husband says he smells dandelions, which I think means he is smelling the tobacco and green notes, combined to make him think of sweet green weeds.

I don't think it's bad. I'd rather wear it than any of the water lily, peony, melon perfumes on the market, and most of the patchroses as well. But Cabochard is not as wickedly beautiful as it must once have been.

House: Parfums Grès
Nose: Bernard Chant
Notes: Galbanum, ylang ylang, rose, jasmine, oak moss, vetiver, musk, patchouli.

Photo: Madame Alix Grès, for Harper's Bazaar, February 1964

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Chanel - Cuir de Russie

This is what luxury smells like

Cuir de Russie is the queen of leather fragrances. This gorgeous perfume is the embodiment of luxury today, just as it was when it was created.

First, a little history that will already be familiar to the perfumistas. Cuir de Russie was created by Ernest Beaux in 1927. It was reformulated in 1983 by Jacques Polge and is now part of the Chanel Les Exclusifs line.

Early 20th century Paris culture was very influenced by Russian émigrés and refugees from the revolution in Russia. Chanel's fashions featured Russian embroidered blouses and fur-lined coats. Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel herself is rumoured to have had affairs with Igor Stravinsky and Grand Duke Dimitri Pavlovich. It was Pavlovich who introduced her to perfumer Ernst Beaux.

Beaux created Cuir de Russie as a perfume for the modern woman; a woman who wore masculine clothes (Coco herself favoured trousers) and who smoked in public. He used the same floral/aldehyde accord from his earlier Chanel No.5, but paired it with a smooth leather note that I assume is the "Albanian birchwood" mentione in the notes. Birch tar was traditionally used in tanneries in Russia. 

The history lesson is over, so what does it smell like? Cuir de Russie smells like smooth grey suede and iris. It's like the inside of a fine leather clutch, one that's held a woman's makeup and her cigarettes. After a little while I smell the aldehydes and the rose/jasmine/ylang ylang combo from No. 5. It seems to open up the suede, but never supersedes it. The drydown is a touch darker and more animalic, but it remains smooth and sophisticated, never raunchy.

Cuir de Russie remains, for me, the ultimate leather perfume. If you want to smell like pure luxury, this is the one to try.

House: Chanel
Nose: Ernest Beaux
Notes: Albanian Birchwood, Jasmine, Oriental Rose, Ylang-Ylang, Tunisian Orange Blossom, Calabrian Bergamot and Sicilian Mandarin.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Perfume in the News: The Pre-Christmas Fragrance Wars

There are two interesting articles today.

The first discusses the ramp-up of perfume advertising that starts in September and leads up to the big Christmas sales for perfume and two new video campaigns.

Big name directors are involve in this advertising; and a lot of money has been spent. Guy Ritchie directs an ad starring Jude Law for Dior Homme, and Martin Scorcese directs one for Bleu de Chanel

Check them out.

Also, tomorrow the latest from Paco Rabane, Lady Million will launch in the UK, in a bottle shapped like a giant diamond. "Hedonism and opulance" seem to be a contrary reaction to the current climate of financial uncertainty. The article lists some other perfumes that might make you feel powerful this season. ( I can vouch for Tauer's Orange Star, it's lovely.)

Read it here.

Photo: Stuck in Customs

Monday, September 6, 2010

Heeley - Cuir Pleine Fleur

Leather daddy

Cuir pleine fleur is a french term for fine leather. According to the Heeley web site, Jeames Heeley meant CPF to smell like the most luxurious leather. To do this he added the floral notes of mimosa, violet and hawthorn to the traditional leathery note of birch and castoreum.

I definitely smell violet and suede in the first minute, which I liked quite a bit. Unfortunately, the violet disappears and a strange tri-part fragrance takes its place, composed of sweet floral cucumber-ish note (the mimosa?) in the top layer, a rooty iris/vetiver in the bottom, and a strong, raunchy leather sandwiched in the middle.

Cuir Pleine Fleur gives me a headache. The castoreum might be too much for me. This leather is more leather daddy than gentleman.

House: Heeley
Nose: James Heeley
Notes: Top: violet leaf, bergamot
Heart: acacia flower (mimosa) aubépine (hawthorn), suede
Base: vetiver, birch, atlas cedar

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Robert Piguet - Bandit

Seductive, headstrong  and dangerous

From the Robert Piguet website:
Provocative and sultry, this chypre fragrance is an intense combination of exotic leather, wood, spice and floral notes including neroli, orange, ylang ylang, jasmine, tuberose, vetiver, oakmoss, patchouli and musk. Bandit is the perfect fragrance for creating an aura of mischief.

I adore Bandit. To get Bandit visualize one of my favourite movies, To Have and Have Not (1944). Lauren Bacall's character, Slim, would be the perfect face for Bandit. Beautiful, seductive and headstrong, with sharp shoulders and a bitter attitude, she can handle with the toughest man but she's all woman.

Germaine Cellier
Bandit was created in the same year, 1944, by legendary perfumer Germaine Cellier. Slim and blond, with a penchant for suits and an attitude of her own, Cellier was like Slim herself. The first major female perfumer, Cellier created famous perfumes such as Fracas, Vent Vert and Jolie Madame. For more information of the formidable Cellier, read the biography at Fragratica written by Ellena Vosnaki from Perfume Shrine.

Bandit starts with a vintage vibe, powdery and a big hit of what we perfumistas like to call "skank." (Read more about skank on Perfume Posse.) It can be indolic, animalic or sweaty, but skank for me is a little bit of a personal smell, or sexy skin and "lady business." In fact, the story goes that Germaine Cellier sniffed models panties to get a better handle on the smell of a woman for her perfumes. In these first moments it reminds me of Bal a Versailles. (My EdT is also a little sharp in the opening, which may not happen in EdP, or it may be because it's vintage.)

Then Bandit turns beautifully bitter and green. Galbanum and oakmoss, how I love them. This fantastic greeness is joined by a heart of leather. The dry down is earthy, woody moss.

Slim and Steve are back from a walk in the mossy, green woods. She's wearing her man's leather jacket and has leaves in her hair; what have they been doing?

House: Robert Piguet
Nose: Germaine Cellier
Notes: Top: galbanum, ylang Mid: leather, jasmine Base: patchoulie, oakmoss, vetiver

Photo: Lauren Bacall, To Have and Have Not (1944)
Photo of Germaine Cellier borrowed from Basenotes
Photo of bottle of Bandit: mine

P.S. Bandit is a perfume for a strong woman but would work just as well on a man. My bottle is an Eau de Toilette that may have been aimed at a male market. I have no idea what year it is, it may be from before the reformulation in 1999. It certainly smells like a lot of oakmoss! If you recognize it and know what year it might be, please let me know.

I bought it at Fritsch Pharmacy in Kitchener. If you live near Kitchener, and you like perfume, visit him. I almost don't want to tell anybody, but Micheal Fritsch has a lot of vintage stock and he was very kind to spend a couple of hours showing me his treasures.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tauer Perfumes - Carillon pour un ange

Death and lilies

I'm really sorry to have to write this. It's terribly disappointing, I do love several Tauer Perfumes, but Carillon pour un ange just doesn't work for me.

When I heard that Andy Tauer has created a lily of the valley perfume, I was excited. He tells a lovely story on Fragrantica of how his mother wore Diorissimo, the queen of lily of the valley perfumes. Mine did too. I love the rich smell of those little white bells that bloom in shady places around my home in May.

But I don't smell lily of the valley in Cpua. At first, I just smell something wrong. It's green vegetation on top and some citrus but underneath it's damp and dark.

Then I do smell lily, a very strong lily, but not lily of the valley. I smell regular lilies and leather. It's a pungent but dark smell, like hearing a very high loud note played at the same time as a very low note. The leather has an almost earthy smell of soil and roots and, well, dead leaves.

As with Tauer's other perfumes, you can tell the Cpua uses quality materials. This is a strong Eau de Parfum, and has considerable sillage. My husband complained about me leaving this one all over the his keyboard. He could still smell it hours after I had left.

I admit, have never liked the smell of lilies. I'm afraid I associate them with funerals, so perhaps that's why I can't get the idea of dying flowers out of my head. The drydown is quieter and adds moss and wood to the leather and the lilies.

House: Tauer Perfumes
Nose: Andy Tauer
Head: rose, ylang, lilac
Heart: lily of the valley, jasmine, leather.
Base: ambergris, moss and woods.

Photo: ericarhiannon