Friday, October 29, 2010

Opus Oils - Afraid of the Dark Collection

Lady Death, two vampires and a fiend for Halloween

It's that time of year, when glowing jack-o'-lanterns leer on porches, cobwebs and skulls become decorating staples and scary wee beasties creep in the shadows ready to pounce on candy. Don't you love Halloween? In honour of the delightfully dark day, I'm reviewing the Afraid of the Dark collection by Opus Oils.

The Afraid of the Dark collection has four perfume oils, Vamp, Ode de Vampyre, Lady Death and Charlie No. 5. The collection was released in 2009. 


Vamp is meant to be a lush animalic floral in a vintage style, with "smoky" gardenia, orange blossom and tobacco. But Marilyn Monroe vampire never appears. Vamp starts with an interesting smoky note, but I don't really smell the promised gardenia and orange blossom. Instead I get a quiet and, generic white floral for an hour and then nothing. I don't smell the tobacco or vanilla at all. Unfortunately, I do smell coconut quite clearly, which I'm guessing is the coconut oil the perfume is based on. I don't think that it's meant to be a noticeable note.

Notes: Smokey Gardenia, Blond Tobacco, Orange Blossom & Vanilla

Ode de Vampyre

Now this is more like it. I'll admit it, I'm a vampire junkie. Name the movie, TV show or book, I've seen/read them all. So what could be better than a perfume named for my favourite dark and brooding fantasy?

Surprisingly, Ode de Vampyre is a cheerful rosy wood perfume. Loads of cedar and sandalwood combine with a fruity rose in the heart.  I can smell a smidge of honey on the wood in the drydown. This one has good sillage and lasting power.

Notes:  Blood Cedarwood, Saffron, Dark Rose, Orris Root, Sandalwood, Black Agar, Vetiver, Honey & Temple Incense.

Lady Death

Moss covered stones, ethereal night blooming flora, midnight air, sweet anticipation of the last kiss from a ghostly apparition.

I think this is the most unique and interesting of the four perfumes, even if it is the hardest for me to wear. Lady Death features lily, a note I associate with death. But that's perfectly appropriate here. There is also datura, a night-blooming flower with poisonous and hallucinogenic properties. The datura flower attracts ghostly moths at night and is supposed to smell sweet, like jasmine. Lady Death combines lily with this sweet floral and a slightly salty oakmoss. The result is exactly the feeling of funeral bouquets and deadly flowers growing around damp cold stones.

Notes: of Datura, White Musk, Black Lily & Oak Moss

Charlie No. 5

The most controversial of the lot, Charlie No. 5 has apparently been banned from eBay. It must have something to do with its inspiration, the killer Charles Manson. When I originally ordered my oils, the image on the left was a picture of his creepiness.

Do you like amber? If you do, you'll love Charlie No. 5. This perfume is all warm, delicious base notes. The labdanum is woody and balsamic, like a walk through a pine forest, and the patchouli adds a hint of dark earth. The vanilla and amber are smooth and sweet. This is my favourite of the four perfume oils. Despite its infamous inspiration, it's a cuddly comforting scent and  perfect for those chilly dark October nights.

Notes: of Dark Amber, Aged Labdanum, Vanilla, Musk, Vintage Patchouli & Soft Amber

Happy Halloween my fragrant friends!

House: Opus Oils
Nose: Kendra Hart

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Nasomatto - Nuda

A jasmine manifesto

First the rant: The Nasomatto website is a perfect example of all that I find annoying in perfume web sites. It has music I can't turn off. The whole thing is Flash. When I choose one section, there is no way to go back to a previous one and the text is the kind of flowery, poetic "manifesto" that sounds like it was written in Italian, translated to Japanese and then translated to English.

OK, rant done, I feel better now. Wait, I forgot to mention, there is nothing on the Nasomatto web site about their new perfume Nuda, so I can't tell you the official notes and the site only mentions the perfumer by his first name "Allesandro." From Fragrantica, I find that his name is Alessandro Gualtieri, but the only note revealed in Nuda is jasmine.

I wish I could say I knew the smell of live jasmine intimately, but I live in jasmine-deprived Canada. I've fallen in love with jasmine from soliflores like Montale Jasmine Full and By Kilian Love and Tears, Surrender and Opus Oils Jitterbug. Nuda is another perfume that explores the different facets of this gorgeous flower. Nuda is simply jasmine,  intoxicating and romantic from top to bottom. 

Nuda starts with the gasoline rush of pure jasmine: that part-flower, part-fuel scent. As that fades, it becomes a more conventional, sweetly narcotic jasmine. It's a little innocent and  a little sexy at the same time. Staying close to the skin, Nuda is a jasmine to wear for yourself or for lovers.

Pretty though it is, I feel like something is missing in Nuda. Jasmine Full has the sweet orange blossom and honeysuckle to round out it's jasmine; Love and Tears has a green stems note to add to its spring flowers feel. I've read that Nuda was intended by be very "animalic" but it's not on me. The dirty indoles of Jitterbug have been mostly stripped from Nuda, leaving it clean and fresh but just... pretty, and just jasmine.

Still, Nuda is a very good jasmine. If you are a jasmine fan like me, you should give it a sniff. Unfortunately, Nuda doesn't last all that long and the lack of any discernible basenotes, like a musk or wood, means that once the jasmine has faded there's nothing left but sweet dreams.

House: Nasomatto
Nose: Alessandro Gualtieri
Notes: jasmine

Image: Amedeo Modigliani,  Nu féminin, 1918

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Opus Oils - Dirty, Sexy, Wilde

I can resist everything except temptation.

Opus Oils created Dirty, Sexy, Wilde to mark the one year anniversary of the opening of their Jitterbug Perfume Parlour. According to them, it was inspired by turn of the century perfume formulas for handkerchiefs.

To go with that turn of the century inspiration, they chose the image and name of the famous wit, the Irish writer, Oscar Wilde.

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.

Dirty, Sexy, Wilde is, in fact, dirty and sexy. The green galbanum has an almost pine-like smell in the beginning. It's tarted-up with a little mandarin, then eases into a heart of dirty jasmine. It's also very animalic, right from the start; if you don't like civet be forewarned. It dries down to a lovely warm, floral, musky leather and salty skin. Dirty, Sexy, Wilde is like a warm and very rumpled bed, or the skin on your lover's neck the next morning. It's wonderfully indecent and charming at the same time. Pure sex.

House: Opus Oils
Nose: Kendra Hart
Notes: Galbanum, Red Mandarin, Violet, Rose, Night Jasmine, Blond Tobacco, Oakmoss, Coumarin, Musk, Civet and Ambergris

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Opus Oils - Jitterbug

The day I realized I was a jasmine slut

Opus Oils opened their flagship store, the "Jitterbug Perfume Parlour," in glamorous Hollywood, California, in 2008. Joshua Hart, Co-Creator of Opus Oils’ Jitterbug Perfume Parlour describes the baroque looking store as
... a cross between the movie “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” and the book “Jitterbug Perfume.” Mix that with the TV show “Hart to Hart,” sprinkle it with “Moulin Rouge” and then add a dash of Flapper Speakeasy Culture.
Sounds like fun, huh? I'd love to visit. The grand opening also marked the debut of their perfume, Jitterbug.

If you've never read the book Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins, and you like perfume, you must pick it up, it's a weird and wonderful romp. The story follows one ancient god, two immortal lovers, three perfumers and a crazy Irish man obsessed with immortality. The key to everlasting life may just be a holy grail perfume built around a note of incredible jasmine (and a secret ingredient in the base).

Jitterbug contains four different jasmine absolutes and opens with a strong note of "poopy" jasmine. The scent of jasmine, as well as that of gardenia, orange blossom and some other flowers, contains molecules called "indoles" that have a fecal smell. When a perfume review says "indolic" they mean that the dirty edge of the flower is discernible in the perfume. I assume this is attractive to insects, but weirdly, it is also part of what makes these flowers sexy to human noses. It turns out we like a little nasty in our sublime.

It was when I discovered that I was still enjoying Jitterbug, poopiness and all, that I realized how far gone I am. I am a jasmine slut. I adore jasmine and all of it's beauty and baseness and I can't get enough. I love it when it's green and virginal like in Love and Tears, Surrender; I love it when it makes me dizzy with gasoline fumes like in Jasmine Full and I love its funkiness in Jitterbug.

There's a hint of lemon the cut the thickness, but the funk lasts a good half hour before it resolves into just beautiful jasmine blossoms. Under the jasmine is lovely creamy sandalwood and warm, sweet, salty ambergris that smells like skin.  The ambergris is "beach found" which means it is real, natural whale vomit and thus extremely rare. Yet another something that sounds gross but is actually divine.

Opus Oils perfumes are all handmade with an emphasis on "natural" ingredients. They all have a base of coconut oil. I've never worn an oil-based perfume before, but it absorbs nicely, leave my skin soft, and seems to last a long time. There isn't much sillage from my little dabbings but even the next morning, my wrists still have a pleasant musky sweetness left from the ambergris with a hint of flowers. If there was a flower that could point one in the direction of immortality, I think it would be jasmine and wearing a little Jitterbug perfume behind the ears can't hurt.

House: Opus Oils
Nose: Kedra Hart
Notes: Four different kinds of Jasmine absolute, Honeysuckle, Lemon Essence, Orange Blossom, "Beach Found" Ambergris, Blond Tobacco & Sandalwood

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bulgari - Black

Urban cool

This is another one of my favourite perfumes, and I bought it for a bargain price. Luca Turin gives it five stars and calls it one of the "great emancipated fragrances of all time." Annick Medardo created something truly new in perfumery with Black, there is nothing else on the market that smells like this and Bulgari no longer offers it, which is crazy, so if you want to try it you'll have to search for a bottle.

Black has a hint of bergamot in the top notes, then becomes linear with a smoky black tea, a wood note, and a non-sweet, very smooth vanilla. If you've never tried smoke and vanilla together, you must, it is an incredible combination. But the smoke note in Black is a shape-shifter, it changes from minute to minute. Smoke becomes black rubber, like tires on the pavement. Sometimes it smells of black leather, like a motorcycle jacket. Through the smoke and rubber and leather twists a ribbon of sheer vanilla, like your biker is eating an ice-cream cone.

Black is unisex, a masterpiece and increasingly rare. If you love perfume, I highly recommend picking it up while you still can.

House: Bulgari
Nose: Annick Menardo
Top: tea, bergamot
Middle: sandalwood, cedar, jasmine
Base: leather, amber, musk, vanilla


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Bulgari - Omnia

Gingersnaps on a fresh plank

Today, for a refreshing change I'm sure, I'm going to review a non-niche perfume. Bulgari's Omnia is one of my favourite perfumes ever, and you can buy it at Sephora, or at Shopper's Drug Mart. I got my bottle on sale at Winners.

Or, at least you could. I just checked Bulgari's website and they don't even mention the original Omnia anymore. Just the flankers, Omnia Amethyst, Omnia Cristalle and Omnia Jade. I highly recommend picking up the original Omnia in the brown bottle soon, if you get the chance.

In Perfume, The Guide, Luca Turin gives Omnia four stars and says its construction is original and influential. Why are they cancelling this?

Anyway, back to why I love it. Don't read the list of spice notes and wood and think that this is going to be too heavy for you; Omnia is sheer and transparent. It's a perfect woody, fall perfume. Omnia as impressive sillage, and lasts like crazy.

It's fairly linear. The opening has a juicy feeling from the mandarin, and there is a tea note as in all the Bulgari perfumes. But mainly, Omnia is the wonderful melding of three notes: a fresh spicy gingersnap, a creamy "white chocolate," and a wood note like a buzz saw. The wood turns what could have been a boring sweet gourmand into an amazing dry, warm scent. The wood is like fresh sawdust. Combined with the spices and white chocolate, the wood reminds me of a freshly sawed maple plank. Sitting on the plank is a plate of warm gingersnap cookies.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go find some bottles to hoard.

House: Bulgari
Nose: Alberto Morillas
Notes: mandarin, saffron, ginger, cardamom, Masala tea, lotus, clove, cinnamon, white chocolate, sandalwood, tonka, guaiac wood (from Perfume Posse)

Photo: kidmissle

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tauer Perfumes - Eau d’épices

An orange for October

When the leaves turn to flames on the maple trees and there are fat orange pumpkins for sale at my corner store, I start to crave perfumes that make me feel warm, perfumes filled with woods, incense and spices. Fall is usually the time of year that I put citrus scents to the back of the shelf. While I find them cooling and uplifting in hot weather, citrus scents are not what I typically want to wear in the Canadian autumn. Until now.

It took me a little while to warm up to Eau d’épices. Tauer Perfumes typically use high concentrations of their essences, and they can be strong to start.  Eau d’épices opens with a big blast of something that made me think of gasoline but it turns out to be an overdose combination of clove and cardamom. It takes a little while for these strong top notes to burn off and let the heart shine though.

In that heart are some gentler, warm spices and a lovely tart citrus that will be familiar to those who have tried other Tauer perfumes. Andy Tauer uses a juicy clementine or mandarin note in the opening of a few of his perfumes, such as Orange Star, Rose Chyprée, Le Maroc Pour Elle and Incense Rosé. I'm starting to think of it as one of his signatures. But in Eau d’épices the tangerine shines through the whole progression of the perfume, making it bright and lively.

The spices swirling around the orange aren't hot or foody, just dry and woody. Joining the pomander are fragrant orange blossoms. Like citrus, I usually like these white flowers in warmer weather, but they work perfectly in Eau d’épices, adding a light floral creaminess to the tangy orange and spices.

The drydown of Eau d’épices has the familiar "Tauerade" of incense and labdanum. I think there's ambrein in there; it's in many of Tauer's perfumes. Ambrein is a gorgeous extract of labdanum that Tauer describes in an interview with Nathan Branch as “pineta”, pine wood, ambergris on a chord of wood, dry fir needles under a Mediterranean sun, woody pine incense."  

In the same interview Tauer says that orange blossom and labdanum were two of the first essences he experimented with, his true loves. In Eau d’épices these two notes lift and sweeten the spices and create a beautiful resinous depth behind the orange note.

Leave it to Andy Tauer to create a citrus scent perfect for October. Eau d’épices is round orange moon rising above a dark spice forest.

House: Tauer Perfumes
Nose: Andy Tauer
Head: An Indian basket of spices with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and corriander with red mandarines.
Heart: An opulent heart of orange blossom, jasmine, orris root and incense.
Body: A woody cistus ladaniferus resin, softened with ambergris, tonka beans and vetiver.

Photo: adaenn

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Violet Week is Coming

In the first week of November I'll be doing a little round-robin violet blogging with Muse in Wooden Shoes and Redolent of Spices. Each of us will be reviewing three violet-centric perfumes. I'll be doing Creed Love in Black, CB I Hate Perfume Violet Empire and Balmain Jolie Madame (not vintage).

It turns out all three of us had a violet obsession when we first started getting into perfume. That famously shy little purple flower has had a big impact on perfume. You can read more on Muse in Wooden Shoes, who has put together a great list of violet perfumes.

Photo: Maia C

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Amouage - The Library Collection Opus I, II and III

I'd like to return these books, please

A new trio of fragrances from Amouage, The Library Collection, is built around the concepts of a library, including a "tome of memories," "hidden treasures," discovery and learning. Amouage is a niche, luxury perfume house, based in Grasse in the South of France but inspired by the Sultanate of Oman. Amouage has released perfumes before that I've liked, but The Library Collection volumes are not going to be added to the full bottle list.

Opus I
lily of the valley,
sour milk,
baby powder,
burning plastic,
vanilla pudding,

Why do they call this a chypre? I can't bear to wear this again, so my review will have to be the notes I wrote down above. There was a sour, burnt note in the top, but the drydown is a cloying vanilla pudding with sandalwood that lasts forever.

Nose: Daniel Maurel
Top: Birgarade, Plum, Cardamom.
Heart: Ylang-ylang, Rose, Jasmine, Tuberose, Lily of the Valley.
Base: Papyrus, Cedarwood, Guaiacwood, Frankincense, Tonka Beans, Sandalwood, Vetiver

Opus II

Amouage is calling  Opus II a fougère. There is a little lavender at the top, but it's very light, thank goodness; lavender is not my favourite note. There is also a little pepper. But the top notes disappear quickly and the perfume dries down to a rosy cedar with a hint of cinnamon. I'm a big fan of cedar so I'm quite happy about this development. Unfortunately it doesn't last for very long.

Nose: Michele Saramito
Top: Lavender, Absinth, Pepper, Pink Bay.
Heart: Jasmine, Rose, Cinnamon, Cardamom.
Base: Cedarwood, Patchouli, Amber, Musk, Frankincense.

Opus III

The third volume in this collection is a floral. Opus III is a sweet and powdery violet with mimosa. The violet is slightly tart, reminding me of  little candies. The base of benzoin and vanilla adds to the candy vibe. It's the most linear of the three perfumes and also the least surprising. It does last a decent amount of time though, and the next morning, I have a nice musk still on my wrist.

Nose: Karine Vinchon-Spehn
Top: Mimosa, Broom, Carnation, Nutmeg, Thyme.
Heart: Violet, Jasmine, Ylang-ylang, Orange Blossom.
Base: Musk, Papyrus, Cedarwood, Sandalwood, Guaiacwood, Benzoin, Vanilla, Frankincense.

In Conclusion

Frankincense is traditionally from Oman, and all Amouage fragrances contain frankincense, as part of a common base accord that links the whole line. If I actually smelled frankincense in The Library Collection trio of perfumes, I might have liked them better. As it is, although I know this is an accomplished house and the prices must indicate fine materials, I don't like any of The Library Collection perfumes enough to purchase.

For other (better) reviews of The Library Collection, try Perfume Shrine, who calls Opus I "truly surprising" and peredepierre who says it's "top-notch." See also Il Modo di Odore who says it's "very good" and also likes Opus II. So, it could just be me.

House: Amouage

Photo: The private library of William Randolph Hearst, by stuck in customs
Photo: vanilla pudding by bochalla
Photo: violet candies by davescunningplan

Monday, October 11, 2010

Etat Libre d'Orange - Like This, Tilda Swinton

The warm smell of home

The famously unconventional beauty, Tilda Swinton collaborated with the famously unconventional perfume house, Etat Libre d'Orange, on their latest perfume, Like This.

Inspiration for the perfume came from a poem that Swinton loves called "Like This."
If anyone wants to know what "spirit" is,
or what "God’s fragrance" means,
lean your head toward him or her.

Keep your face there close.
Like this.
Swinton asked for a perfume that she could travel with, one with the smells of ease, simplicity and the spirit of the home in Scotland that she cherishes.
The warm ginger of new baking on a wood table, the immortelle of a fresh spring afternoon, the lazy sunshine of my grandfather's summer greenhouse, woodsmoke and the whiskey peat of the Scottish Highlands after rain.
Notes of tangerine, ginger and pumpkin are obviously references to Swinton's red hair. This is the only perfume I know of with a pumpkin note but Etat Libre d'Orange makes some of the most unusual perfumes. Then again, this pumpkin is surprisingly wearable. It's not gourmand; it doesn't feel like I'm wearing pumpkin pie, or some kind of candle scent, but it is warm and it does smell orange.

The pumpkin is like freshly carved flesh with the seeds still stuck to it. The ginger is lightly spicy and smells almost wet at first, with a curl of tangerine peel. There's a nutty smell, like a hint of nutmeg and a woodiness, like the skin of the ginger roots and vetiver and maybe woody licorice roots. Like This also has a sweet note like warm grasses with wildflowers and hay.

Like This is a very comforting perfume, like a warm, dry kitchen while it rains outside; a cup of ginger and licorice tea; the smell of something baking; skin. The next morning, there's still a nice warm muskiness on my skin.

House: Etat Libre d'Orange
Nose: Mathilde Bijaoui
Notes: yellow tangerine, ginger, pumpkin accord, immortelle flower, Moroccan neroli, Grasse rose, vetiver, heliotrope, musks

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ayala Moriel - Espionage and Rainforest

A spy walks in the forest

I'm not that familiar with natural perfumes. Ayala Moriel creates ready to wear and bespoke natural perfumes from pure botanical essences. Her perfumes start very strong, but mellow quickly and I was surprised at the complexity of the fragrances.

Espionage starts with a strong note of peat fire. A swirl of smoke and peat reminds me of whiskey, and maybe the person with the dram also has a lit cigar. After a few minutes the fire and smoke give way to a sweet vanilla and tobacco that lasts a long time. Very nice.

Rainforest starts with a strong mossy green with undertones of leaves and mulch. It is amazingly like walking in a forest, with the leaves and dirt under your feet and the trees dripping with water around you. After a few minutes an uplifting bergamot shines through like a beam of sunlight.

I smell green galbanum throughout the day, my favourite, and some rose in the heart. In the far drydown you can really smell the beautiful hay absolute. Gorgeous.

House: Ayala Moriel
Nose: Ayala Moriel

Espionage: Ambrette (Musk) Seed , Bergamot , Guiacwood Jasmine Grandiflorum , Leather Notes, Orris Root Rose Otto (Turkey), Tabac Blond, Vanilla Absolute Virginia Cedarwood
Rainforest: Bergamot , Virginia Cedarwood, Orris Root, Pine , Rose Otto (Bulgaria), Rosewood, Spikenard, Spruce Black, Violet Leaf, Galbanum, Ginger, Hay Absolute, Juniper Berry, Oakmoss

Photos: ozjimbob and vladeb

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gorilla Perfumes- Exhale

Your dad, or an old boyfriend

Gorilla Perfumes is a line carried by Lush. Here in Canada, the Lush stores are only offering Tuca Tuca (a candy violet, from my sniff in the store), but a Twitter pal was nice enough to send me a sample of Exhale from the UK.

Gorilla Perfumes has a cool feature to their website: they list the ingredients of their perfumes, the real ingredients. Exhale contains:
DRF Alcohol, Perfume, Cedarwood Oil (Juniperus virginiana), Vetivert Oil (Vetiveria zizanoides), Lemon Oil (Citrus limonum), Grapefruit Oil (Citrus paradisi), Cade Oil (Juniperus oxycedrus), *Citral, Coumarin, *Geraniol, *Benzyl Benzoate, *Farnesol, *Limonene, *Linalool
According to the website, the creator, Simon Constantine, created this accord as the base for another Gorilla perfume, Breath of God, but apparently liked it so much they released it as a separate fragrance. Created after a trip to Tibet, it is supposed to "induce reverence" as smelling incense would.

Exhale starts with a big blast of ashy wood smoke, like starting a fire in a fireplace without remembering to open the chimney flue. After a few minutes that gives way to a strong and persistent woody-amber and musk. It's very linear, and it lasts a loooong time.

On me, it induces nostalgia. The smoke-wood-amber-musk accord reminds me of men. I find it instantly recognizable, unoriginal, and yet I respond to it like Pavlov's dog. Exhale is every manly fragrance from my past. It's the smell of fathers and boyfriends, of stubble rasping my cheek and strong arms and smoke clinging to a sweater.

House: Gorilla Perfumes
Nose: Simon Constantine
Notes: Vetivert, sandalwood, cedarwood, amber, musk.

Photo: Gregory Bastien

Monday, October 4, 2010

By Kilian - Love and Tears, Surrender

First love

By Kilian is a line of luxury perfumes by, um, Kilian, the heir to "a long line of cognac makers." (Interesting, again we have a connection between perfume and an old French cognac family.) By Kilian perfumes are expensive, but they use high quality materials (you can really smell the difference) and talented noses.  

Love and Tears, Surrender was composed by Calice Becker, who also created the critically acclaimed and popular fragrances Dior J'Adore EDP, Estee Lauder Beyond Paradise, Pierre Balmain Vent Vert, Lancome Cuir de Lancome and Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl among others. 

Love and Tears is the latest By Kilian perfume, in a lineup that are all named with love affair themes, like Prelude to Love, Invitation, and Beyond Love, Prohibited, and Back to Black, Aphrodisiac. Love and Tears is a fresh, green jasmine soliflore that reminds me of spring and young love.

One thing I love about By Kilian is that they publish the "perfumer's formula" for each of their fragrances. Each ingredient/accord is listed, along with its measure in grams. So from the web site, I learn that Love and Tears has a Jasmine Heart composed five different jasmines: Indian Jasmine, Egyptian Jasmine, Jasmine Headspace, Solar Jasmine Accord and Water Jasmine Note.

Oh this jasmine is beautiful! Love and Tears is a hyper-realistic jasmine soliflore. It smells like fresh, wet petals. The jasmine comes complete with branches and green leaves. The petitgrain has a fresh woodiness and the galbanum (yum) is wonderfully green.

The floral heart seems to have other spring flowers as well. The notes list daffodil and lily of the valley but sometimes I also think I'm smelling lilacs. It just seems like a big bouquet of spring flowers. In the end, there's a light mossy-wood drydown with the ever-present jasmine.

Love and Tears seems to me to be the scent of that first passionate love, the one you never forget. It's the sweetest happiness and the tears when it ends. It's a gorgeous perfume and I want to wear it all the time these days, even though it's fall and I'm usually only craving spice or amber or woods about now. I may need a bottle. I think this would also be the perfect first perfume for my niece, if I wasn't a little hesitant to get her hooked on something so dear.

A recent study claims that the smell of jasmine reduces anxiety, promotes rest and is "as calming as valium." I believe it. For the past few days, I have been wearing Love and Tears to bed and I have had the sweetest dreams.

House: By Kilian
Nose: Calice Becker
Notes: bergamot, petitgrain, galbanum, jasmine, ylang ylang, daffodil, orange blossom, lily of the valley, cedar, styrax, oak moss

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Diptyque - Eau Duelle

Vanilla bean gin and tonic

Sometimes I like a little background information on a perfume before I try it, it speeds things along and there are so many perfumes to write about. But other times I like to go in commando, without support. To have no idea what the perfumer was going for, but try to get a real first impression, uninfluenced by the marketing.

So, I flew blind with Eau Duelle. I knew vaguely that it was supposed to have vanilla in it, but that's all I knew before I got my sample.

Here are my first impressions:
Spray 1: Hmmm, what is that? Something herbal, but why does it remind me of alcohol? Oh yes, there's the vanilla, but what is that herbal/alcohol note? Is that mint?
Spray 2:  OH! Juniper berries! It's gin!
It's a gin and tonic. Dry, herbal, a touch citrusy. a little piney. And then, cosying up right beside the glass is vanilla. Not too sweet, or at least balanced by the G&T. A smoky vanilla bean. A darkly sweet Yang to the light, dry, slightly bitter and herbal Yin of the gin and tonic.

So, to teh internets I go, to research the notes for Eau Duelle. Strangely enough, Fragrantica lists no vanilla. What it does list is cardamom, elemi resin, juniper berries, saffron, tea and amber. Ooookay. Amber could be the vanilla, amber accords are often sweet and vanilla-y. Juniper berries check. Cardamom and saffron... no, I can't really smell those. But what is elemi resin?

According to Wikipedia, elemi "is a fragrant resin with a sharp pine and lemon-like scent." An aromatherapy site says it has a "light and mint-like aroma, with notes of lemon." (Cool picture there too.) So it seems to me that elemi is the major ingredient I am smelling in Eau Duelle. The scent that, combined with juniper, is giving me the sensation of a light, dry gin and tonic. Together with the smoky, sweet vanilla, I guessed that I had discovered the dueling duo behind the concept of Eau Duelle. So, finally, I surf to the Diptyque website to check my theory... Oh.

I was wrong. The Diptyque website states that "Eau Duelle is based on two contrasting scents--smoky frankincense, dark and animalistic, and fresh white vanilla, sweet and light."

Frankincense? Really? I love frankincense, but I thought that it was one of the few notes I could recognize right off the bat. Frankincense has a dry, uplifting, tickle in my nose feeling that I love, but I don't smell in Eau Duelle. Perhaps M. Pellegrin was working on a pine angle of frankincense or perhaps the smoke in the vanilla is meant to be an incense smoke?

Maybe I'm still on the wrong track. In this video interview, Fabrice Pellegrin says the concept of Eau Duelle was based on the two types of vanilla used, a "dark" bourbon vanilla, with animalistic aspects, and a "light" firnat vanilla. The two vanillas then take a journey along the spice route.

It's a nice story, but I don't find the vanilla that remarkable, nor do I find Eau Duelle particularly spicy.

Oh well. In the end, what does it matter? I like Eau Duelle. It's balanced, light and dark, bitter and sweet. It's great in cold and hot weather and I think it would make an excellent masculine or feminine (like all Diptyques). Excellent.

House: Diptyque
Nose: Fabrice Pellegrin
Notes: Cardamom, Cypriol India, elemi, juniper, saffron,
calamus, black tea, olibanum somalia
(Frankincense), firnat vanilla, bourbon vanilla

Friday, October 1, 2010