Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MAC - Naked Honey

Linden and clover, over and over

The linden trees out back are in bloom, and as I sat under them yesterday evening, I remembered MAC Naked Honey.

MAC released this perfume in 2009, a limited edition that quickly sold out. Luckily, I was reading perfume blogs like Bois de Jasmine and Perfume Posse at the time and their reviews had me hustling over to grab a bottle.

MAC Naked Honey is a honey-floral perfume that smells like linden blossoms. It's a sheer, green-tinged sweet smell, like standing beneath those waving boughs and breathing deeply the smell of gold and green dappled sunshine. Some people say is also smells like honeysuckle.

I smell clover. When I was a kid, we would spend the summer wandering the fallow fields and woodlots around my subdivision, playing in the tall grass, eating wild strawberries and raspberries and sucking the honey-sap out of clover blossoms. Naked Honey smells like summer memories to me.

MAC no longer sells Naked Honey, but if they ever decide to release it again, I highly recommend picking up a bottle. At about $25, it was some of the best perfume money I've spent.

House: MAC Creations Hue
Nose: Harry Fremont
Notes: white honey, floral notes, woodsy notes

Photo of linden: redteam
Photo of clover: Dendroica cerulea

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Estée Lauder - Bronze Goddess

The first day of summer

Estée Lauder's Bronze Goddess is being billed as a limited release for 2011 but it has a longer history. It was first released as a body oil under the name Azure Soleil in 2006, as part of the Tom Ford for Estée Lauder collection and re-released as a perfume in 2007 called Azure Soleil Eau Fresh. By 2008, Tom Ford had created his own perfume line and Estee Lauder changed the name of Azure Soleil to Bronze Goddess but kept the formula nearly the same.

If you would like to feel and smell like you've been to the beach, but don't have time to get away, Bronze Goddess is the perfume for you. It starts with a summery squeeze of citrus but becomes a creamy, coconutty floral with a warm salty edge.

To me it smells just like expensive french sunblock - I have a tube of 50+ Vichy at home and it has the same "creamy rich flowers and coconut" smell. Underneath, salty amber base notes mimic the smell of warm skin just out of the ocean being dried on a white sand beach.

It's gorgeous, but I admit that after wearing it a few hours, I sometimes feel the need to go shower and clean up before dinner, the way I would do on holiday at a beach resort.  But keep this one around for the cold days of winter, and it will make you feel the sand between your toes again.

A new flanker, Bronze Goddess Soleil, was released this summer. It's very different from the original. Bronze Goddess Soleil starts with a stronger citrus notes - I smelled grapefruit. As it warms up, it becomes a fresh greenish floral that's predominantly lily and jasmine to my nose. It dries down to a light musky and wood base. The only thing that ties the two perfumes together in my mind is that Bronze Goddess Soleil seems to retain a little of that warm skin character underneath its florals, the way that Bronze Goddess does.

While I liked Bronze Goddess Soleil at first, I got a little bored with it after a while. I still prefer the original for it's unique and almost perfect simulacrum of beachiness.

For other great beach perfumes, try Parfumerie Generale Bois Naufragé or Creed Virgin Island Water, both big favourites of mine.

House: Estée Lauder
Nose: ?

Bronze Goddess Notes: coconut milk, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver, myrrh, amber, mandarin, bergamot, lemon, orange, tiare flower, jasmine, magnolia, orange blossom and lavender.

Bronze Goddess Soleil Notes: citron, bergamot, tangerine, lavender, petitgrain, pittosporum, neroli, orange blossom, jasmine sambac, grapefruit tree blossom, pink lily, blonde woods, iris, ambrette seed and crystalline musks.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chanel No. 19 - EdT and EdP

Shining Iris

The iris just finished blooming around Toronto as I write this. Beautiful and regal flowers, in shades of purple fill the gardens. But the iris in perfume doesn't come from the flower; it's a precious natural material extracted from the roots of the iris plant. The irises used to create No. 19 are gown in Chanel's own fields in Grasse. They take three years to reach maturity and the roots must be dried for two years before they can be processed. It takes 10 tonnes of dried iris roots to produce one pound of iris butter, from which the the absolute is extracted for the perfume, making iris one of the most costly natural materials in perfume.

The resulting absolute doesn't smell purple. To me it smells cool and silvery grey shading to earthy, depending on the perfume.  It's a sophisticated, haunting and very unisex smell. Indeed, Chanel No. 19 is beautiful on a woman but would also make an excellent masculine.

According to an interview with Christopher Sheldrake in The Australian, "The original No.19 was created in the 70s. This was an era of the emancipation of women and for me this is the epitome of the spirit of Gabrielle Chanel. She was the ultimate rebel who refused to be categorised as the girly, pink flower type of girl. Chanel No.19 is a little bit like wearing trousers for a woman. It enhances the femininity."

No. 19 combines iris with a top note of bitter green galbanum,  and earthy vetiver with smooth leather in the base. Together they are smooth as a grey silk blouse under a tailored jacket. In shades of green grey and brown No. 19 reminds me of a walk on a cool, cloudy spring day. It's both urban and outdoorsy, masculine and feminine.

The EdT version of No. 19 is a sheer, silvery veil of iris and cool green galbanum on my skin.

The EdP version of No. 19 wasn't released until the 1980's and it has a slightly different take on the same notes. To me, it smells more brown or ochre in colour and is warmer. The EdP lasts longer and the dry down is a stronger woody/earthy smell.

I haven't tried the perfume "extrait" version yet, but I would like to before the new No. 19: Poudre flanker is released later this year. According to what I've read, the original 1970's version of No. 19 was created using a very high quality galbanum, from a source in Iran. After the Iran  hostage crisis, that source was no longer available and Chanel had to reformulate. What I wouldn't give to try the 1970's vintage!

House: Chanel
Notes: galbanum, neroli, bergamot, hyancinth, jasmine, rose, lily of the valley, iris, vetiver, sandalwood, leather and musk.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Perfume Release: Penhaligon's Anthology Collection Esprit du Roi and Eau Sans Pareil

Penhaligons's is releasing the final two perfumes for its anthology collection: Esprit du Roi, by Bertrand Duchaufour and Eau Sans Pareil by Beverley Bayne.

From the press release:

Eau Sans Pareil
Originally created in 1988, Eau Sans Pareil has been transformed into a shimmering chypre.
Opening with a giddy rush of sparkling fruits and sensual white flowers, Eau Sans Pareil is
softened with sweet woods, elegant oakmoss and musks. Powdery, wistful and romantic.

Head: Aldehydes, Neroli, Mandarin, Bergamot, Kumquat, Raspberry, Pineapple, Cypress, Pink
Pepper, Tagetes
Heart: Jasmine, Damascus Rose, Muguet, Orris, Ylang, Orange Blossom, Liquorice, Clove
Base: Patchouli, Vetiver, Cedarwood, Oakmoss, Musk, Vanilla, Cistus-Labdanum, Benzoin, Amber Crystals

Esprit du Roi
Originally created in 1983, Esprit du Roi returns as a lush woody citrus, heady with swirling
scented foliage. Fresh tomato leaf, mint and raspberry leaf are combined with rich florals, warm
woods and potent musks to create this masterpiece of contrasts.

Head: Citrus Accord, Bergamot, Mandarin, Cedrat, Mint, Tomato Leaf, Davana Essence,
Aldehydes, Cardamom Absolute
Heart: Clove, Egyptian Geranium, Madagascan Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Honeysuckle
Base: Vetiver, Cedar, Sandalwood, Patchouli, Raspberry Absolute, White Musk, Ambergris,
Oakmoss, Africa Stone.

I'm very fond of a few of the Penhaligon's perfumes, including Orange Blossom from the Anthology Collection, Elixer and Amaranthine. Both these new ones sound interesting. I'm not sure about raspberry and pineapple, but the rest of the notes in Eau Sans Pareil have me drooling.

Both fragrances launch in the UK and Europe on Monday 11th July in Penhaligon’s boutiques, selected department stores and online at www.penhaligons.com. They are priced at £98. No word on when they will be available in Canada or the U.S yet.

Anything by Betrand Duchaufour peaks my interest, and Esprit du Roi sounds like a complicated masculine feminine crossover. The Mint and Geranium like Geranium pour Mousieur, but with more florals. It also seems to have a chypre base but with raspberry, an odd note for a base note. I'm looking forward to trying them both.

Penhaligon's is an English company with a long history. It's first perfume, Hammam Bouquet was released in 1872. The Anthology Collection was started in 2009 and showcases some of Penhaligon's older perfume formulas, dating back to the 19th century as well as some from the 1970's and new perfumes.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Perfume in the News: Interview with Christopher Sheldrake of Chanel

A nose ahead of the rest

An interview in the Sydney Morning Herald today with Christopher Sheldrake had a lot of interesting information about Mr. Sheldrake and Chanel's latest flanker, Chanel No. 19 Poudre. But it also got me thinking about perfume trends, flankers and reformulations.

Chanel has updated several of its classic perfumes recently. In 2007, Chanel released No. 5 Eau Premiere, an update to the iconic No. 5. In 2009 it released Cristalle Eau Verte, an update to Cristalle.  This year Chanel is releasing No. 19 Poudre, an update to No. 19.

Why do new versions of classic perfumes? Mr. Sheldrake mentions in the article that Chanel No. 5 was created 90 years ago, when our every day lives were generally more smelly and smoky.  He says that perfumes that were appropriate back then may seem too "animal or dry or opaque, heavy" to consumers today.

New technology has given perfumers the ability to pull apart a complicated smelling natural ingredient and take from it just the aspects they desire, leaving behind the rest. It think this technology is pretty popular among perfumers these days. In the seminar I attended, Frederic Malle mentioned that a new technology allowed him and Dominique Ropion to extract just the "heart" of the patchouli note they wished to use for Portrait of a Lady.  In No. 19 Poudre, it sounds like Sheldrake has used this technology to give better definition to the iris note.

Giving cleaner, clearer notes was only one of the things changed in the new No. 19 Poudre. Sheldrake has also given it some more "synthetic" musks. (I find it odd that he has to mention synthetic, but I suppose that there are still some people out there who don't know that almost all musk in today's perfumes is synthetic.) The musks are to create a comforting feeling that he thinks will be popular in these insecure times. I wonder if it will be anything like the musks in Balenciaga Paris, which I found very fluffy and soft to wear, like a grey angora sweater.

In general, Chanel seems to be saying that today's perfume buyers want cleaner, more defined notes, and comforting scents. There may be other reasons for creating the flankers, such as to entice a new, younger consumer, one who wants a quality perfume, but who doesn't want to smell exactly like her mother. Or to increase sales in the infamous "asian" market, where common wisdom says that they don't like heavy scents.

I however, love dense, animalic and dry perfumes. I'm happy that Chanel is creating flankers instead of just reformulating their classic perfumes.

Coming soon, I think I'll do some comparing of flankers to their beloved progenitors and see if I still prefer the originals. Chanel No. 5 vs Eau Premiere,  Cristalle vs Cristalle Eau Verte and Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess vs Bronze Goddess Soleil.  When No. 19 Poudre shows up in my local shop I'll give that a whirl too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jean Patou - Vacances

The Garden of Eden

Oh, you're going to be mad at me for this one. This perfume is gorgeous, sublime and very much discontinued. If you can find a bottle, grab it. I have the bottle below, with the green glass stopper, and my only regret is that I can't spray it on myself to cover me from head to toe.

Jean Patou first released Vacances in 1936. It was created by Henri Almeras, the same nose who created the famous Joy. It's a shame that they aren't making this anymore because it's a really beautiful, fresh green floral.

Vacances starts with a big wash of green galbanum and the spicy-green scent of hyacinths. There is also something floating and sweeter, which may be the hawthorn. It reminds me of trees in bloom in the spring. The heart is more green with a touch of lilac and sweet mimosa.

Vacances blends grassy greeness with light sweet flowers that sometimes seem tart and sometimes powdery. Wearing feels like springtime in the Garden of Eden, when everything was new and innocent and pretty. Lie on your back while the grass tickles your toes and watch the gently waving blossoms and leaves in a cloudless blue sky.

House: Jean Patou
Nose: Henri Almeras
Notes: Top notes: hyacinth and hawthorn. Heart: lilac, mimosa, and galbanum. Base: musk.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My 15 vintage minutes in Maclean's

A little while ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Kim Pittaway and dishing about vintage perfume. Kim is a perfume lover too and I told her all about my favourite store, Fritsch Pharmacy in Kitchener, where I have spent many happy hours smelling vintage perfumes.

Kim wrote a great article on vintage perfume and Fritch's and little old me was quoted! I am thrilled.

Frederic Malle - En Passant and a long overdue post

The Time of Lilacs

First my apologies for such a long absence. If I have any readers left, you've been waiting for me to complete the post on my seminar with Frederic Malle. That was almost a month ago. Time flies and there were vacations and lunches at my desk and plain old procrastination. I'm sorry.

So... long ago, when I had the pleasure of hearing Frederic Malle speak on perfume and the perfume industry, I asked him how he felt about the IFRA regulations. For those of you who don't know, IFRA is The International Fragrance Association, a body that effectively regulates the perfume industry by creating rules about what ingredients can be used and in what concentrations in perfumes and all perfumed products. It has a great deal of power because, although following their rules is voluntary, all the big perfume companies do.

M. Malle told us that he, as a perfumer, finds the IFRA restrictions extremely frustrating but that he follows them to the letter. Unlike food, a perfume product containing a known allergen can't just label the box with "Caution, may cause allergic reaction" or "May contain..."  Instead perfumes that follow IFRA must cut some materials altogether or reduce them to minute amounts. This cause a great deal of sorrow for perfume lovers when old favourites are changed beyond recognition. It'sone of the reasons why we buy and love vintage perfumes.

M. Malle also mentioned that some updates to the rules were coming from IFRA this summer and that he believes there are many perfumes out there that haven't yet reformulated to the IFRA standards and will have to immediately. This will no doubt change many beloved perfumes. Unfortunately, I can't tell you which ones he thinks will be most affected because just as he was about to continue, he was interrupted by his assistant and had to leave in a hurry to catch his plane.  If you have an old favourite, it may be time to stock up now, or find some vintage online.

Before I left I purchased a bottle I had been wanting for a long time: En Passant. Olivia Giacobetti created this for Frederic Malle in 2000. M. Malle told us that Ms. Giacobetti came to him with the idea already fully formed for the perfume she wished to create.

En Passant captures a moment of happiness. It's a walk on a spring day that passes by lilacs, wet from a rain shower, and a bakery, with the gentle smell of flour wafting out the door. It's light and fresh but also comforting. The lilacs have just finished blooming in Toronto, and I can confirm that En Passant captures the smell of wet lilacs perfectly. It's a linear scent and wears very quietly, close to the skin. I use triple my normal number of sprays with En Passant, but I never feel like I'm wearing too much.

I've moved out of my early spring obsession with dry green chypres, to a more gentle floral phase. Next post I'll write about Vacances, a discontinued beauty.

House: Frederic Malle
Nose: Olivia Giacobetti
Notes: lilac, green notes, cucumber, wheat

Painting: Sophie Gengembre Anderson The Time of Lilacs