Friday, September 30, 2011

Lubin - Idole

Bon Voyage

Pierre Francois Lubin founded his perfume house 1798, just after the French revolution. His first products were scented ribbons and powders and and Eau de Lubin which made him popular with Empress Josephine of the Imperial court, which led to other commissions for kings and tsars.

The perfumes sold by the house of Lubin today are not the same venerable formulas, but the company strives to create an atmosphere of history, and precious materials around its new perfumes. Lubin Idole was created in 2005 by Olivia Giacobetti. Idole tells us a story of romantic travel over the Indian Ocean to Madagascar, on a ship full of ebony and spices. There you meet natives who offer you rum and sugar cane, rub you with precious balms and invite you to dance with them around the smoke from their fires. Afterwards you lie back on the deck of your ship and gaze up at the brilliant stars in an ebony sky, with your leather bag as a pillow.

Idole is very boozy. It opens with a spicy rum that is joined by fruity woods in the heart and a smoky leather note in the base. It's unisex and would be great on a man but don't be afraid of the pirate-themed notes if you're a girly girl. Giacobetti keeps everything transparent with light shining through the layers as she is famous for doing. It stays close to the skin. My only complaint is that it fades too soon. I would love to try it in a spray instead of the little dabs from my sample.

I have a thing for bucanneer perfumes. I've tried Caravelle Epicee and L'Eau de Navigateur, but Idole is the first one I think I could run away with. I also love the bottle.

House: Lubin
Nose: Olivia Giacobetti
Top: Rum absolute, saffron, bitter orange peel, black cumin
Middle: Doum palm, smoked ebony, sugar cane
Base: Leather, red sandalwood

p.s. The Lubin website is another one of those flash sites I hate. Please stop. It's not fun, it's a hassle. Look into HTML5 and stylesheets.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

By Kilian - Incense Oud

Hurray For Fall

I love the fall. I love the sunny but cooler days that give me a brief window of opportunity in Canadian weather to wear suede. I love the gorgeous Ontario leaves and the crisp apples and cheerful pumpkins. I love the smells of fall: woodsmoke and hay and apples and turned earth. But most of all I love my annual return to woody/spicy incense perfumes. These types of fragrances just seem so right in the Fall.

This fall I've been wearing the heck out of my sample of By Kilian Incense Oud. Incense Oud was released as part of the Arabian Nights collection earlier this year. It was created to highlight the two ancient middle-eastern materials from it's name, incense and oud. The Kilian website lists the notes as incense, oud, rose, cardamon and labdanum.

Oud is the new black of perfumery ingredients. There have been many niche releases in the past year or so focused on oud. I'm not sure I'm on the oud bandwagon. The few times I've really identified it in perfume, it has been as a sort of "band-aid" note. I'm sure now that I've dismissed oud, it will inevitably become my new favourite note given a little time; it's happened before.

Anyway, I don't smell the dreaded band-aid in Incense Oud. It opens with a faintly sour, medicinal woody note but as it warms up on my skin it becomes a sweet incense and sandalwood perfume. There are fruity-woody notes that I assume come from the rose, smooth sandalwood and a gorgeous curl of frankincense smoke. Now Smell This is right, the first thing that came into my head when Incense Oud reached this stage was 10 Corso Como. It's similar but Incense Oud puts the emphasis more on the incense and 10 Corso Como is more about the sandalwood. When worn side by side, there is no comparison on sillage: By Kilian Incense Oud knocks it out of the park. Just a little goes a long way and my little spray tester has been doing me fine for a week now.

The drydown of Insense Oud is warm and a little spicy and reminds me a bit of Penhaligon's Elixer. It has a similar calming, meditative effect on me. If you're a fan of incense perfumes I highly recommend trying it.

House: By Kilian
Nose: Sidonie Lancesseur
Notes: Incense, Oud, Rose, Cardamom, Labdanum

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Penhaligon's - Juniper Sling - New Perfume

Cute video for the new Penhaligon's perfume Juniper Sling. I love the 20's.

I haven't gotten my hands on a sample of this yet, but considering how much I love G&Ts, I'm eager to try it.

House: Penhaligons's
Nose: Olivier Cresp
Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry

Cardamom, Leather, Black Pepper, Orris Wood

Brown Sugar, Black Cherry, Vetiver, Ambrox

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Colour me Jasmine

A recent post by The Non-Blonde on the strange habits of perfumes lovers got me thinking about one of my habits - wearing perfume by colour.

Most of the time I match my perfume to the weather, or my mood or the occasion. For instance, Diptyque L'Ombre dans l'Eau or Frederic Malle Angelique Sous le Pluie I like for rainy weather. Penhaligon's Orange Blossom calms me down. Roja Dove Diaghilev and The Party in Manhattan go well with dressy evenings out.

But I have another criteria I use to choose perfume in the morning, that I only just realized I do mostly unconsciously. I choose perfume to match the colours I'm wearing.

Some notes have distinct colours or textures and I like to match them to the outfit I choose in the morning. Today I wore a silk blouse with an orange print and I chose Frederic Malle Birgarade Concentree to match.

Bitter-orange with orange, that one's easy. Also easy matches are rose with pink or red and velvet and galbanum with green. Here are some more:
  • Jasmine: mauve or purple
  • Frankincense: black and fur
  • Myrrh: grey
  • Oakmoss: khaki and leather or wool 
  • Iris: blue or dark grey
  • Cedar: black-brown and denim or flannel
  • Aldehydes: the colour of champagne and silk
  • Tobacco: rust or maroon and corduroy
  • Sandalwood: reddish-brown and cashmere
  • Frangipani: yellow-peach
  • musk: light grey and cotton or angora
  • Ambergris: tan
  • Lime: navy
  • Vetiver: dark green and rough cloth like burlap
Most of them make sense, except maybe jasmine; I have no idea why jasmine seems really purple to me. Diptyque Olene is a brilliant purple.

Do you have any colour associations with perfume or any other fun synesthesias? Or do you have any other strange perfume habits you want to share?

Painting: The Museum of Modern Art in New York - The Dance by Henri Matisse

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Nasomatto - Black Afgano

Hard To Get

What is it about something that's hard to get that makes you want it more?

Nasomatto has a line of perfumes some of which are cheekily built around the idea of narcotics. Perfumes in the line have names like Hindu Grass, China White and Absinth. Black Afgano "aims to evoke the best qualities of hashish" and "arouse the effects of temporary bliss."

If you're afraid that you're going to attract dogs in the airport, don't worry. It's not the smell of hashish that Nasomatto is trying for, but the idea of it.

Black Afgano smells dry, dark and herbal and a little sweet. It's very strong when first sprayed, with big sillage for a little while, but there's some interesting development close to the skin. The main notes are dry grasses, earth and dark wood with some incense smoke and a hint of spice. As I wear it I keep thinking I smell something sweet around me but when I check my wrist it's still that strong wood, herbs and smoke. It's not until much later, when the strong top notes have faded enough, that I can detect the sweetness on my skin, a little sticky and slightly vanilla, like smelling vanilla cake.

A bit of a mystique has grown up around Black Afgano. It is notoriously hard to get. The rumour is that because of the difficulty of acquiring its main ingredient, that only a few bottles are made at a time. This may be true, but it's also possible that the restriction on availability is deliberate. If it is a marketing ploy to make Black Afgano unattainable and therefore more attractive, it's totally working. My local shop, Noor, was able to get 6 bottles and they were all sold immediately. They may be ordering more. I'm thinking about it.

I'm not even blown away by the perfume, but I find myself wanting a bottle because it's rare. I also like the Nasomatto line in general; they are all high quality scents and they're perfume extrait strength. I previously reviewed* Nuda, which is a very good jasmine. And I covet the bottles. They are so pretty.

So what do you think? Have you ever purchased a perfume just because it was rare or hard to get?

House: Nasomatto
Nose: Alessandro Gualtieri
Notes: hashish

*BTW: In my Nuda review, I complained about the Nasomatto website. It's much improved.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

DSH Perfumes - The Roses

Eight Long Stem Roses For A Birthday

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is an indie perfumer from Boulder, Colorado. She sells her perfume from the Essense Studio in Boulder and from her online shop. I previously reviewed her Secrets of Egypt collection which sought to recreate the perfumes of ancient Egypt.

I think she's a genius. Her perfumes all smell so true; you can smell the high quality materials and the love she has for each note she uses. Every one I have tried has been beautiful in some way. The Parfums des Beaux Arts are from her "ready-to-wear" collection. The Essense Oils are from the Essense Studio, perfume and essential oils  aromatherapy collection. The perfumes labelled Natural are made with 100% botonical materials.

A while ago I left a comment on Dawn's blog and won a set of samples from her perfume collection. The samples were all rose perfumes. Today Facebook told me that this week Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has a birthday, so I thought it was an excellent occasion to finally tell you about the roses.

American Beauty (Rose No. 1)

Parfum des Beaux Arts
American Beauty has the feel of deep, blood-red roses. There is a little tart-berry fruitiness from the cassis up top, a soft velvety rose heart and a smooth dark woody base with lots of patchouli and a touch of balsam.

Top notes: Bergamot, Cassis Bud, Palma Rosa, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Orris
Base notes: Ciste Absolute, East Indian Patchouli, Mysore Sandalwood, Peru Balsam

Beach Roses (Rose No. 3)

Parfum des Beaux Arts
I can smell the ocean breeze and the waterlily in the top notes of Beach Roses, giving it that salty, aquatic feel. The rose note is soft, sort of lemony and creamy. The base notes are lightly earthy and musky.

Top notes: Lemon, Neroli, Ocean, Palma Rosa, Violet, Waterlily
Middle notes: Carnation Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Chinese Geranium, Demine Rose Otto, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Rugosa Rose
Base notes: East Indian Patchouli, East Indian Sandalwood, Musk

Tea Rose

Essense Oils
Tea Rose is a true rose fragrance that's almost hyper-realistic, like a bunch of fresh cut roses transformed into a neon sunset. It's intensely sweet and green and somewhat sharp up top, with hints of lemon and tea cutting the sweetness. It smells exactly like tea roses and much like The Perfumer's Workshop Tea Rose but it calms down to something softer and fruitier, like rose hips tea and roses.

Top notes: Tea Rose
Middle notes: Tea Rose
Base notes: Tea Rose

Dirty Rose

Parfum des Beaux Arts. Natural
Dirty Rose smells like rose petals tossed on a fire. It opens with a curl of wood smoke up my nose Followed by a leather note underneath. There's also a lot of wood and moss in there and some tobacco. The rose isn't apparent at first, but it grows in the heart of the perfume subtly, a twisting pink and red ribbon in the darker hues of black and brown. I am not usually a fan of natural perfumes, but this one might change my mind.

Top notes: Bergamot, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Mastic, Pimento Berry, Pink Peppercorn, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Middle notes: Buddahwood, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Gallica Rose Otto, Labdanum, Olibanum (Frankincense), Orris, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Virginia Cedar
Base notes: Ambergris, Brazilian Vetiver, Cassis Bud, Guiacwood, Hiba Cedarwood, Leather, Myrrh Gum, Oude (Agarwood), Styrax, Tobacco Absolute, Treemoss

Umber: Bois de Rose

Parfum des Beaux Arts
Bois de Rose smells like sweet curried roses to me. Spicy curry, sweet rose and fresh green leaves are balanced with a bitter woody note in the heart and a dark mossy base.

Top notes: Bergamot, Eglantine Leaf, Thorn Apple (accord), Violet
Middle notes: Gallica Rose Otto, Nutmeg, Orris, Patchouli, Rosewood (bois de rose)
Base notes: Ambergris, Brazilian Vetiver, Brown Oakmoss, Ciste Absolute, Vanilla Absolute

Le Rose Fleurette (Rose No. 2)

Parfum des Beaux Arts
The only rose perfume that I can't find listed on the DSH site, Rose Fleurette must have been discontinued. The sample card describes it as "Delightful. Blushing. Flirtatious."

Although Rose Fleurette is pretty, it's the only one that I'm note sure I could wear. The opening has a magic marker note, high sweet and sharp, (maybe the apple blossom?) that wrinkles my nose. But after that, it's a fresh, pale pink rose bouquet. It seems sort of fluffy like those giant peony-style cabbage roses. There's a touch of sweet and pollen-y yellow heliotrope in the base with light honey and musk.

Top notes: Apple Blossom, Bergamot, Violet
Middle notes: Centifolia Rose Absolute, Damask Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Sweetbriar
Base notes: Heliotrope, Honey, Honey Musk

Arabian Rose

Essense Oils
Like the Tea Rose, this is a "single note" oil. Arabian Rose is an accord meant to re-create the smell of a particular flower, the indigenous rose of Arabia. It's a big, lush, full, real rose, but more velvety in feeling than the tea rose. It's very strong at first but it softens and gets greener in the drydown.

Top notes: Cyclamen, Damask Rose Absolute, Egyptian Rose Geranium
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute
Base notes: Moroccan Rose Absolute, Sultry Rose, Tea Rose

Rose Vert

Parfum des Beaux Arts. Natural
Rose Vert is one of the "Perfection Connoisseur Fragrances" - four natural perfumes that form an ultra luxury line within DSH Perfumes. Each one is created with fine natural essences, rarely used in commercial perfumes because of the difficulty in sourcing them and the cost.

Rose Vert opens with lemony citrus. The roses in the heart smell somehow vintage to me, like I have rediscovered a lost Victorian perfume. Rose Vert is like something precious that was kept in a tiny crystal flacon and dabbed on the bosom of a corseted and bustled lady. It's the condensed essence of  rich roses and moss.

Top notes: Citrus Oils
Middle notes: Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Centifolia Rose Absolute, Damask Rose Absolute, Moroccan Rose Absolute, Turkish Rose Otto
Base notes: Treemoss


My favourites of the bunch are:

  • Beach Roses, which I think I would wear all the time, it's easy and care-free.
  • American Beauty for it's lush rose-red bouquet with dark patchouli.
  • Dirty Rose for all the smoke and leather and moss and the ambergris skin note. It's like a gorgeous and slightly rough man bringing me roses.

House: DSH Perfumes
Nose: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Window Sniffing: Jo Malone Wild Bluebell and Diptyque 34 boulevard saint germain

A Quick Sniff-Off

I stopped by Holts on the way home tonight and spritzed on a little of two new perfumes: Jo Malone Wild Bluebell Cologne and Diptyque 34 boulevard saint germain. Both are exclusive to Holt Renfrew in Canada and I coudn't get samples for either one. So, while I still have them on my wrists, here are my first thoughts.

Wild Bluebell Cologne

House: Jo Malone
Nose: Christine Nagel
Notes: Bluebell, Persimmon, Lily of the Valley, Eglantine, White Musk

A celebration of the wild English bluebell, Wild Bluebell Cologne does smell like fresh wild flowers. The top notes are sweeter with a hint of clove. The heart smells like a combination of aquatic and melon notes (is that calone?), violet leaves and lily of the valley. It smells like I just pulled a handful of wet lilies up by the roots. Did you like Tauer Carillon pour un Ange? There's something of that in it, but no leather, The base is very musky.

34 boulevard saint germain

House: Diptyque
Nose: Olivier Pescheux
Notes: Top notes: blackcurrant, green leaves, fir leaf, citruses, pink pepper, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon. Heart: rose, geranium, tuberose, iris and violet. Base: woods, resins, balsams and eucalyptus.

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Diptyque  released a perfume that is supposed to re-create the smell inside their flagship store - a combination of all their perfumes. An interesting idea but I don't think the perfume really works. It's a lightly spicy and woody with a strong leafy green top note and a hint of eucalyptus. But I get an off-putting sourness somewhere in the middle that keeps me from liking it.
The base of 34 is a nice amber.

Bottom Line: Neither one is rocking my boat but I'd recommend Wild Bluebell if you like fresh lily and musk.