Saturday, July 31, 2010

Water lily

Musings from cottage country

For the first time I actually smelled a live water lily. It's remarkably like what I was expecting. I've read that there is no natural water lily extraction or essence in perfume, all water lily accords are created synthetically. 

The live lily is fresh, lightly sweet, a little aquatic and a little lemony. Sort of like the peony but without any rosiness.

On another topic, I just read The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr, his journalistic look into the perfume industry in New York and Paris, focused around the creation of two perfumes Un Jardin sur le Nil by Hermès and Sarah Jessica Parker, Lovely. I feel changed. Blinders have come off my eyes. I'm sorry for any stupid things I may have said about perfume or the industry. This book explains so much - about the art form, the formulas, the use of synthetics vs. "natural" ingredients and more. I've already written about Un Jardin sur le Nil and now I am going to have to go get a tester of Lovely, and some of the other perfumes discussed in the book. The paperback itself came with a small test strip of Lovely, but maybe it was old, all that was left was base notes, but they were nice basenotes - a woody musk that lingers on the skin.

For all you Canadians, have a great long weekend. This will be my only post, I'm heading back down to the dock.

Photo: mine

Friday, July 30, 2010

Parfumerie Generale - Drama Nuii

Dry jasmine and herbs morphs into a pale green lily of the valley

Pierre Guillaume likes bitter green. I've only tried two Parfumerie General perfumes, Drama Nuii and Papyrus de Ciane, and both star a bitter green accord.

Drama Nuii starts with a lemony jasmine, and a green rose. The rose is soapy. As it develops a herbalness with a spicy edge comes out, that made me think of clary sage maybe. It's a little like hay, or dry grasses,  not sweet, but bitter and a little tannic like tea. The notes say absinthe, a story for the herbal green bitterness of the perfume.

The green floral smell becomes a light lily of the valley. After a while that's all I can smell, green lily, a little bitter and a little soapy. Then after a while, a little musky.

The whole is a dry, light green take on jasmine and lily. Not too sweet, it would suit a man or woman.

House: Parfumerie Generale
Nose: Pierre Guillaume
Notes: petitgrain, absinthe, jasmine, spices, guaiac wood, sandalwood, musk

Photo: sektordua

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Montale - Intense Tiaré

Monoi and suntan lotion

Montale is a niche Perfume line founded by Pierre Montale in 2003. It's mission is to create high quality, unisex fragrances from natural materials. Fragrantica lists 69 fragrances created by Pierre Montale, from 2008 to 2010. That's one busy nose.

Montale perfumes are generally focused on scents from the "Orient and Arabia" with ingredients like oud and frankincense. Intense Tiaré, however, is a perfume from the other side of the world, the Pacific Islands.

When I stayed in Bora Bora, I discovered the local Tahitian monoi oil, an infusion made from soaking tiaré flowers in coconut oil. I used it as a moisturizer, perfume and bath oil. Intense Tiaré reminds me of that time - it smells like monoi and suntan lotion. There's a creamy sweetness, probably from the vanilla and coconut milk, and a soapiness that may be from the rose.

After many hours the only thing left on my skin is a touch of sweet vanilla. Just like in Bora Bora, where they would bring to you cold towels, scented with local vanilla extract, as you lay sun-bathing around the pool.

Intense Tiaré has fair sillage. Stuck inside on a rainy afternoon in Northern Ontario, my companions say I smell like a tropical vacation. That's not a bad way to smell.

House: Montale
Nose: Pierre Montale
Notes: Tiaré. vanilla absolute, jasmine powder, coconut milk, ylang-ylang roses.

Photo: jsmoral

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Les Nez - Let Me Play The Lion

Pale, dry golden yellow fur, sand, wood and smoke
Scents of dusty trails,
Of lightly sweetened ochre,
Of sun-weathered wood,
Of silence swept by mild breezes,
Of skies open like an endless azure cut oozing signs
of the coming storm
Wood and incense, my favourite notes. Those are the first two things I smell. The wood is pale and bleached, the incense light, just a trail of smoke on the horizon. Then suddenly the whole perfume lifts. It almost feels like that, a physical sensation. What it smells like is the sudden addition of a light floral, almost herbal note that reminds me of chamomile. That fits with the pale golden yellow feel of the perfume.

There is a peppery spice note, like you wandered through a souk earlier in the day, and the smell of the spices for sale still clings to your clothes.  The whole thing is dusty dry - not quite desert, but maybe savanna, with tall dry grasses, and a campfire at night.

I don't find that LMPTL has a Head, Heart and Base as much as other perfumes, the notes swirl around and up like smoke.

House: Les Nez
Nose: Isabelle Doyen
Notes: incense, wood, spices

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Parfums Nicolaï - Le Temps d'une Fête

Daffodils bloom in a sunny glade, surrounded by the dappled shade of mossy green woods

Parfums Nicolaï was created by Patricia de Nicolaï and her husband Jean-Louis Michau. Patricia comes from a distinguished family of perfumers, the Guerlain's. Her great-grandfather was Director of Guerlain and she was trained as a perfumer by her uncle, Jean-Paul Guerlain.

Patricia started her company to create "haute-couture" perfume - perfume that is not controlled by the marketers and their briefs, but instead allows the perfumer complete freedom to express herself, to use high quality ingredients and to manage the creation from idea right through to production.

Le Temps d'une Fête must be Patricia's idea of a walk in springtime. You can see in the notes, taken from her web site, how she envisions the perfume's development, from green leaves, to white flowers to animal/woody base. It's my favourite perfume structure, the chypre, and it's been done beautifully, so classic and yet so pretty and approachable.

LTdF starts with a sweet, bright fruit, like lemons and apricots. After a few minutes, the galbanum comes out. I'm really starting to love galbanum, it has a slightly bitter, spicy greeness; it's all leaves and stems. Another thing I love about this scent is that I don't have to wait until the drydown for the moss; it's right up top, nice green mossiness, like you've plunked yourself down under a mossy tree to enjoy the sunshine.

In the heart is the thick, yellow-pollen smell of daffodil and the waxy, lightly spicy hyacinth. It's like Easter.  Everything is held in perfect balance, the florals shine, a little fruit is still there but it never gets too sweet. Everyting is dappled by green leaves and the shadow cast by mossy branches. The base has lovely oakmoss and wood. My favourite part is sniffing my wrist in the far-drydown and smelling that deep mossy wood. As far as I am concerned, it's not a chypre without oakmoss and I hope that LTdF is never reformulated to conform to annoying IFRA rules.

Even with the high quality and creativity of her scents, Parfums Nicolaï manages to offer perfumes at a reasonable price. I especially appreciate the option to buy in smaller bottles of 30 ml, which makes collecting them so much more affordable!

House: Parfums de Nicolaï
Nose: Patricia de Nicolai
Top notes : Green notes : galbanum, opoponax (sweet myrrh), mousse d’arbre (tree moss)
Heart : white flowers : jacinthe (hyacinth) and narcisse (narcissus)
Bottom notes : Animal and woody : bois de santal (sandalwood), patchouli, mousse de chêne (oakmoss)

Photo: bortescristian

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Annick Goutal - Musc Nomade

Sweet, warm, tan skin

I received a package in the mail recently, covered in Hellas stamps, all the way from Greece! I'd forgotten the thrill of presents from far-away. I won a sample of Annick Goutal's Musc Nomade from the Perfume Shrine. Elena has an excellent review of MN, you should go read it.

Musc Nomade smells like sweet, warm suntanned skin. It's honey and hay and slightly woody and cuddly musks. It's sexy but not animalic. It's nuzzling the freshly-washed neck of your lover.

House: Annick Goutal
Nose: Isabelle Doyen
Notes: Muscone, white musk stemming from angelica root and ambrette seed, tonka beans, labdanum, Bombay wood (a papyrus variety)

Thank you to Elena and the Perfume Shrine for my sample!
Photo: jessicarabbit

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Ormonde Jayne - Frangipani

I feel pretty, oh so pretty...

Frangipani is such a happy perfume! Frangipani flowers are grown in Hawaii for leis and they are most fragrant at night. I've never actually smelled the flower, but the perfume is lovely and a perfect floral for summer.

It starts with lime - the sharp edge of the citrus taken away by light, sweet florals. At the heart, a beautiful jasmine blooms, and a fresh water lily floats alongside. There is a fruitiness to the florals in the heart - the notes say plum but I think of nectarines. I don't find there's much of a base at all, just a whisper of cedar.

Frangipani makes me wants to put on a light dress, tuck a flower behind my ear and go out on a warm night to patio by the ocean.

House: Ormonde Jayne
Nose: Linda Pilkington
Top: Linden blossom, magnolia flower and lime peel
Heart: White frangipani, jasmine, rose and tuberose absolutes, water lilies, plum, and green orchid oil
Base: Amber, musk, cedar and French vanilla absolute

Photo: Saunderses

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ego Facto - Prends Guard à Toi

Who's afraid of the big bad... melon?

Never, have I seen such a disconnect between the press material for a perfume and what it actually smells like. The name  Prends guard à toi means "Beware." The Ego Facto web site describes this fragrance as:
Its motto: Gather thistles, expect prickles !
Its emblem: A stinging nettle leaf
Its heartfelt cry: Declare yourself defiant
Egoistic Profile: A woman but it could be a man for that matter, with an independent, free and consciously provocative character.
Really, Ego Facto? Really? Ok, here's what it smells like: watery green melon, metallic ozone, faint jasmine, clean musk.

Does that sound "defiant" or "provocative" to you? There's an infamous synthetic molecule called Calone, that is used frequently to provide an aquatic, slightly melony, metallic note - like sea breeze, in perfume. Chandler Burr calls it the "olfactory equivalent of corn syrup" because of its ubiquity. Prends guard à toi smells like Calone and jasmine and some clean musks. Nothing to beware of here. 

House: Ego Facto
Nose: Jean Guichard and Aurelien Guichard
Notes: Green and jasmine

Photo: Turtlemom4bacon

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Party - The Party in Manhatten

A swell ring-a-ding-ding

I swoon. Don't you love the elegance and glamour of the 1930's? It was a time of decdent parties on Park Avenue, women in daring gowns and debonair men in tuxedos. The Party in Manhatten has recreated that golden era for you in a gorgeous perfume.

TPiM was created by Paolo Borgomanero, former President and co-founder of Acqua Di Parma. He wanted to create a perfume for those who "appreciate the luxury and charm of old times." According to Fragrantica, TPiM ws inspired by a 1930's perfume from a great perfume house whose name is being kept a secret.

It will be no secret when you wear this perfume - a couple of dabs leaves a significant trail when you walk into a room (the more swellegant french term for this is sillage) - but what a way to make an entrance! And it lasts forever.

TPiM is a chypre with aldehydes. On first sniff, without having read anything about it, I thought "Mmmm vintage!" The smell of roses and rich amber with a hint of citrus are the top notes. I also smell the sparkly champagne of aldehydes. Although there's no tobacco in the notes, I had one coworker comment that I smelled like sweet tobacco, maybe it's the bourbon and amber.

In the middle the rose is joined by the classic florals jasmine, ylang-ylang  and iris. These same flowers are in Chanel No.5 and TPiM reminds me of my precious bottle of No.5 Extrait. The base shares many of the same notes as well, especially the smooth amber and oakmoss. There's a kind of sexy animalic vibe to it as well, even though I see no civet in the notes, the base is musky-sexy.

In the 1930's, my grandmother was a beautiful, 20-something red-head. Although she lived in Detroit, not Manhatten, I can imagine her wearing this perfume, and putting on her best pearls for a party. Maybe she would have slipped away to a speakeasy afterwards; they called them blind pigs in Detroit. Wearing TPiM I can close my eyes and image beautiful women, in furs and gold lame dresses and red lipstick sipping champagne cocktails and smoking cigarettes.

Ladies or ladyboys, if you really want to project refinement, elegance and confidence and ooze sexiness, but want something other than Chanel No. 5, get The Party in Manhatten. It's priced as a luxury item, but it's incredible beautiful, you won't smell like everyone else and it's unforgetable. To quote Ferris Beuller, "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up." I dream of doing so one day.

House: The Party
Nose: Paolo Borgomanero
Top: citrus, aromatic and spicy with bergamot, tangerine, sage, carnation, bourbon and carrot.
Floral heart notes are: jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang and iris.
The base is woody and musky with vetiver, patchouli, oak moss and gray amber.

Photo: Dorothy Lamour in Swing High Swing Low, 1937

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Diptyque - Vetyverio

Le déjeuner sur l'herbe

Diptyque's new perfume, Vetyverio, is named for the star ingredient vetiver, a grass whose extracted oil has a woody/earthy smell. It's commonly used in perfumes, especially masculine ones. But the perfume house Diptyque refuses the restriction of  gender categories for its perfumes. According to their website, Vetyverio combines vetiver with rose to create a fragrance that is "both masculine and feminine."

They're right that this could be easily worn by a man or woman, but vetiver and rose aren't the main notes I smell in Vetyverio. If they are, they have combined to create something completely different than what I was expecting.

Vetyverio is a fruity-wood perfume. In the beginning I smell grapefruit, mandarin and cedar. The citrus fruit turns into a more plummy/berry fruit. Maybe it's the rose that is fruity? The cedar continues through the perfume.

In the middleVetyverio finally develops more of a vetiver feel, with an earthy-wood note and gentle spices. The drydown has lots of dry cedar, with a faint hint of plum and earth. It's very easy to wear.

Art History Sidebar

When trying to come up with an image for "fruit, woods, earth, grass" I thought of still-lifes and picnics. The perfect painting is Le déjeuner sur l'herbe by Édouard Manet. Like Diptyque, Manet refused to be confined by restrictions. His painting was rejected for the famous Paris Salon and was exhibited at the Salon des Refusés, It was considered a bit of a scandal because of the nude woman conversing with the (contemporary) clothed men. If he had painted it in a classical setting instead of a contemporary one they probably wouldn't have had a problem, but Manet meant to stand up for artistic freedom.  

A picnic in the woods, fresh fruit spilled on to the grass, and masculine and feminine conversation, and a free spirit make this painting is a perfect illustration for Vetyverio.

House: Diptyque
Nose: Olivier Pescheux
Top: mandarin, grapefruit, lemon and bergamot
Middle: ylang-ylang, rose and geranium and spices such as carrot seed, nutmeg and clove
Base: dry cedar, vetiver and musk.

Painting: Édouard Manet Le déjeuner sur l'herbe

Monday, July 19, 2010

Comme des Garçons - Wonderwood

I <3 woods

Wood, glorious wood! Wood in the head, wood in the heart, wood in the base Wonderwood is Comme des Garçons' love song to wood - and they know wood. I've already written about my passion for Hinoki, their perfume inspired by Japanese hot spring baths and Scandinavian forests. In Wonderwood, CdG attempts to squeeze in every wood and wood-like note they can into a perfume.

Wonderwood starts with spices and an aromatic pillar of incense smoke. The incense is not as intense as in other CdG scents - just a light swirl of smokiness through the pepper and nutmeg.

In the heart, a fruity wood is paired with a dry cedar, under the shade of pine boughs. The warm spices, sweet wood, and dry, aromatic cedar and pine make the perfume both warm and cool - it floats in the air and yet seems to wrap you in an embrace. In the base, smooth sandalwood joins the party, making me think of far-away places.

Wonderwood is balanced but still allows you to pick out the individual notes as they shine. The notes all gracefully reveal themselves and then twirl back together like a dance.

This is one aspect of modern perfumery I really like, the way perfumers really allow you to perceive individual naturalistic notes, instead of just blending them all together into something new but undefinable. I want to smell like something. I enjoy the enfolding story of different notes, and the "ah-ha" moments of recognizing exactly what that new note smells like. A perfume may be gorgeous, but bore me terribly if it's just a blend with no surprises.

Wonderwood is never boring. I love wearing it and I think it would smell deeply sexy on a man. I'm already plotting ways I can get Desslock to  wear it (he's a plain soap guy.) It's a must try for anyone who loves woods.

House: Comme des Garcons (for Monocle)
Nose: Antoine Lie
Head: Madagascan pepper, Bergamot, Somalian Incense, Nutmeg
Heart: Cristalon (?), Cashmeran (pine and patchouli), Gaïacwood, Cedarwood, Carvi Graines (caraway seeds)
Base: Javanol (sandalwood), Sandalwood, Vetiver, Oud (Agarwood)

Photo: mine

Saturday, July 17, 2010

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Côte d'Amour

Rosemary and sea salt sourdough waffles

Côte d'Amour is meant to evoke the experience of a trip along the Loire Atlantique coast. From the L'Artisan web site:
a soft caress of sea air and sand, of scents of golden yellow gorse, heather and broom, a sensual mixture of soft resin and floatwood … Reminiscent of sandcastles, shell collecting along the beach and riding your bike against the wind. Memories of childhood and holidays. Lazy, relaxing days. Its salty note, that wonderful odour marine at the heart of this eau de toilette, gives the fragrance all its personality.
Well, I'll give you salty. The first sniff of CdA smells like rosemary and salt and it has a sort of "breadiness" to it. My very first thought was "Oh, focaccia!" The salt note is strong and very persistent. While wearing it, everything I drink tastes salty.

After the top notes, CdA becomes salty and woody and lightly floral from a few inches away. But if I smell my skin too closely there is something sour. Looking for an image, I found the perfect one in someone's photo of their savoury sourdough waffles. That's what CdA smells like to me - with a lot of salt.

Côte d'Amour a "certified organic" perfume from L'Artisan Parfumeur.

House: L'Artisan Parfumeur
Nose: Celine Ellena
Notes: salt flower, green tangerine, pink grapefruit, dune immortal flower, rosemary, cypress, gorse blossom, rose, broom, heather, maritime pine and floated wood.

Photo: Savoury basil and sea salt sourdough waffles by foonus

Friday, July 16, 2010

Parfums DelRae - Coup de Foudre

Fall softly into a bed of peonies and roses

"Coup de Foudre" is a French expression for that moment when you are stuck by lightening and fall in love at first sight.  Coup de Foudre uses a special extraction of Rose de Mai France from Grasse. DelRae Roth, the creator of Parfums DelRae, wants us to experience the captivating feeling of inhaling a fresh, live rose in a garden. The Parfums DelRae website calls CdF the "superlative modern rose perfume."

CdF is more of a rose and peony perfume than a straight rose. It starts with a fresh citrus and a spicy green note, like stems and leaves, that I think is the geranium. After a couple of minutes the rose and peony take over, with a touch of lotus, like water droplets on the petals. The drydown adds rooty vetyver and cuddly musk.

I think the strong peony note is the result of wanting to make this a "modern rose." Peony has a delicate rose-like scent, but lighter, cleaner and fresher. It's a popular note in "fresh", modern perfumes. Adding it to CdF may have been to keep the central rose note from possibly reminding people of older rose perfumes that many may think of as "old lady."

Personally I was hoping for more rose, but the peony/rose bouquet of CdF is growing on me. It's lush, lovely and very pink.

House: Parfums DelRae
Nose: Yann Vasnier
Top: Baie Rose, Bergamot, Italian Lemon 'sfumatrice' and Pink Grapefruit
Middle: Rose de Mai France Orpur Absolute, Purple Peony, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Magnolia Orpur, Geranium bourbon
Base: Tonka Venuzuela, Vetyver, White Moss and Velvet Musks

Photo: chatirygirl

Thursday, July 15, 2010

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Thé Pour Un Été

Jasmine tea with lemon

Thé Pour Un Été has a short list of notes and a simple concept that's been done before (see Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert), but the result is a very beautiful and satisfying perfume. 

TPUE was created by Olivia Giacobetti, the nose behind some of my favourite perfumes (like Philosykos.) I find that I'm starting to gravitate to her work and that of a couple others.  In her perfumes, the notes shine as naturally as they do in real life but also melt into perfect harmonies with each other.

TPUE starts with a realistic sweet tea note with lemon. I immediately thought of iced-tea. I don't really smell the mint, but there is a certain leafy greeness to the opening.

After the tart lemon fades the jasmine comes out and the tea morphs into the smell of jasmine tea, exactly as I remember it from university when I drank gallons of it. The jasmine and tea notes weave in and out - sometime I smell one and then the other. TPUE stays with these two notes - there aren't any real bottom notes - until they gradually fade away.

Or do they? At first, I thought this wasn't a long-lasting perfume - I believed it was gone by lunch. But TPUE is one of those tricky perfumes, the kind you can't smell if stick your nose right up to your skin but you keep catching whiffs of it floating in the air, hours after you thought it was gone. Stray notes of jasmine in the air like far off music and the tannic smell of tea.

House: L'Artisan Parfumeur
Nose: Olivia Giacobetti
Notes: tea, jasmine, bergamot, amalfi lemon and mint (Fragrantica)

Photo: Fenchurch

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Eau d'Italie - Magnolia Romana

Walk beneath the magnolia trees outside the Villa Borghese in Rome

The original Eau d'Italie perfume was created for the Hotel Le Sirenuse in Italy. Subsequent Eau d'Italie fragrances explore the idea of travelling through Italy, the essence of the country, its beautiful locations, art and history.

Magnolia Romana was  inspired by the magnolia-lined avenues outside the Villa Borghese in Rome. The Villa was built by Scipione Borghese in the 17th century as his party palace, a place to get away from the city and enjoy his lush gardens and to house his impressive art collection.

Magnolia Romana starts with a blast of peppery green basil. For me, this note doesn't last long enough. I love the smell of basil, it evokes summer and great, fresh meals eaten outside. It's the perfect note to evoke Italy. Very lightly, there is the green cypress, like a distant breeze through a pine tree.

The middle notes are magnolia and fresh "water notes." I could have used less of the watery notes, but it does make this perfume very summery. I can imagine sitting beside a fountain in Rome, underneath a magnolia tree in bloom.

In the end it's a lovely musky wood. All in all, Magnolia Romana is a nice, sheer, pale pink and refreshing fragrance.

House: Eau d'Italie
Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour
Top: purple basil, lemon leaves, cypress
Middle: magnolia flower, lotus, waternotes
Base: cedar, hay, white musk

Photo: bass_nroll

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The smell of summer rain

Warm rain on hot asphalt. A smell that stays with you your whole life.

Can you ever forget it? A hot sunny summer day that suddenly turns dark, blue-grey. The first, fat, heavy drops - darkening the pavement. Then the warm, soft deluge.

We would put on our bathing suits and, as long as there wasn't any lightening, we would be allowed to run like wild animals in the rain - letting it soak our hair and run over our skin.

The smell of warm, wet asphalt - musky, lightly sweet, earthy - rises and blankets you like the heat. It's a little like sand, a little vegetal. It's like Musk Nomade and a little like the earthiness in Nuit de Tubereuse. It's one of my favourite scent memories and a pleasure enjoyed free every summer.

Photo: Nicki Varkevisser

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bvlgari - Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert

A refreshing glass of clear green tea with lemon and jasmine petals

Launched in 1992, Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert was Bvlgari's first eau de cologne. It was created by  Jean-Claude Ellena, who is now the in-house nose for Hermes. (See also my review of Un Jardin sur le Nil.)

Chandler Burr has a great story New York Times Magazine about the creation of EPTV. Bvlgari wanted a fragrance to sell in their stores to promote their brand but never envisioned the huge success that EPTV would have. With EPTV, Ellena created one of the first real "tea" notes in perfume. Bvlgari now has an entire line of perfumes that include tea notes.

Ellena is the master of sheer in perfumes. Throughout EPTV, you have the feeling of clear, green-tinged liquid, something sparkling and refreshing. It seems to glow from within with a cool, pale green light, like a piece of jade.

EPTV starts with lemon and gentle spices and then the smell of green tea. It's quite dry, refreshing and light and the tea carries that slight edge of bitterness that tea leaves have. As the heart notes open up, gentle florals appear like having flower petals dropped onto the top of your tea. I catch the smell of orange blossoms briefly and then a sheer white floral scent, like jasmine but not heavy or indolic at all, floats above the green tea. The drydown is a pleasant clean musk and sheer woods.

EPTV is a real unisex scent and the perfect refreshment for a summer day.

House: Bvlgari
Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena
Notes: Top notes are coriander, orange blossom, mandarin orange, bergamot, cardamom and lemon; middle notes are jasmine, lily-of-the-valley and bulgarian rose; base notes are sandalwood, amber, musk, green tea, precious woods and cedar.(Fragrantica) pepper (

Photo: Doctor Swan

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Ormonde Jayne - Tiare

A lush tropical flower blooms in a classic chypre structure

Tiare, by Ormonde Jayne, is my "desert island" perfume. By that, I mean that if I had to take only one bottle of perfume with me to a deserted island, I would choose my bottle of Tiare.

I spent my honeymoon in Bora Bora in French Polynesia - a beautiful volcanic island with a hallucinogenically perfect lagoon. The tiare flower is the national flower of French Polynesia and related to the gardenia. Visitors to Bora Bora are greeted with chains of tiare flowers and each evening the bed in our bungalow was perfumed with scattered tiare flowers. Tiare is the perfume I often choose to sleep in - the one which gives me good dreams.

Funny thing, even though Tiare, the perfume, features the native Polynesian tiare flower, the fragrance actually smells nothing like what one would imagine a "South Pacific" perfume would smell like. There's no coconut, no vanilla, no sparkling ocean, nothing in the perfume to evoke the place the flower came from. Instead, creator Linda Pilkington chose to take the precious tiare oil she sourced for the perfume and put it into a composition that highlights the lush flower itself and pays tribute to the classic chypre stucture of perfumery.

A chypre is a perfume that begins with citrus notes, ends with a mossy/woody/musky base and usually has some kind of florals in the middle. This family of perfumes is named for the original Coty, Chypre from 1917. The moss in the base is particularly important, lending it a certain bitterness that is divine. Recent  and controversial restrictions on the use of oak moss and other tree mosses by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) have caused some classic chypre perfumes to be reformulated, much to the distress of perfume fanatics. Somehow, Linda Pilkington has managed to retain that true bitter, wonderful mossiness in Tiare and, as I mentioned in my Woman review, she says she will never reformulate. Thank goodness.

Tiare begins with fresh citrus notes that really lift the perfume. I often get compliments on it in this top phase. Tiare is not a "linear" perfume, it has a progression through different phases of its structure, but all the main elements are there from the beginning. The rich, waxy-petaled tiare, smelling like gardenia and the moss are there behind the citrus at the top but they also take turns at centre stage later, each in their own time. After the citrus fades the tiare/gardenia shines, white and narcotic against a deep green smell, just like the real flower does against its own foliage. The drydown is my favourite part, the moss and wood last forever on my skin and keep me coming back to snuffle my wrist again and again.

I have one, teensy confession though. It pains me to admit this about a perfume I love, but I think I may be anosmic to one of the musks used in Tiare. There is one point in middle of the perfume's progression that I get the feeling I am smelling a hole, a gap, an absence through the middle of the perfume, around which the gardenia seems to peep. It's a strange sensation that goes away later but, nevertheless, Tiare is still my "if I could only have one" perfume.

House: Ormonde Jayne
Nose: Linda Pilkington
Top: Mandarin, orange flower and sicilian lime
Heart: Tiare, freesia, water lilies, jasmine, orris and ylang
Base: Cedar, vetiver, sandalwood, patchouli, moss and musk

Photo: troymckaskle

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Monocle + Comme des Garçons Scent One: Hinoki

The heavenly smell of forests, the summer cottage and saunas. 

Oh, my fickle nose. For today, forget flowers!  I never want to wear anything but Hinoki. I wrote earlier that my perfect summer perfume would include the smell of a dock in the sun by a lake, and a pine forest. Well here it is, baby.

I'd sniffed Hinoki in a shop but it wasn't until yesterday that I received a sample. Comme des Garçons is a japanese fashion label that has launched many interesting perfumes. Hinoki comes from a type of Japanese cypress tree that is commonly used in temples and baths. The perfume was created in partnership with Monocle, an "international affairs, business, culture and design" magazine. According to the Monocle site, Hinoki was "inspired by Japanese hot-spring baths and Scandinavian forests." 

It starts with the woody-spicy tickle in your nose of frankincense. The incense gives you the feeling of a temple. Then it seems to bloom - to rise up from your skin like fragrant billows of steam in a wood sauna.

For a little while it also reminded me of the wood shop behind my friend's antique furniture store. I loved the smell of sawdust there and all the different woods. At the heart, the scent becomes more like pine forest - deep green, mossy and fragrant.

It was quite wafty for the first couple of hours but now, 8 hours later, it's just a snuggly, woody-incense scent close to my skin.

Hinoki is somehow simultaneously dry and steamy, light as smoke and substantial as a tree trunk. I love it now in the heat, because it makes me think of a muskoka cottage, but I imagine it would be great in the fall too, with the smell of leaves and woodsmoke for company.

House: Comme des Garcons (for Monocle)
Nose: Antoine Maisondieu
Notes: cypress, turpentine, camphor, cedar, thyme, pine, Georgian wood, frankincense, moss and vetiver.

photo: okinawa soba

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Penhaligon's - Orange Blossom

A light, sweet and refreshing orange veil for a hot summer day

Originally created in 1976 for their Anthology line, Penhaligon's classic Orange Blossom has been updated by the famous perfumer Betrand Duchaufour. You can watch a video of M. Duchaufour describing  Orange Blossom on the Penhaligon's site.

In the video, Duchaufour talks about how he wanted to modernize the perfume by giving is a more "contrastic" structure and richer notes. I don't know what the original was like, but this orange blossom feels quite sheer.

The top notes have a sharp lemony citrus.  Duchaufour speaks of adding a "leafy green" top note, and I do smell a little green here and it's also a little spicy.

In the heart Duchaufour added jasmine to the main orange blossom note, as well as other florals, but I think it's mainly the orange blossom and jasmine that I smell. He mentions adding a couple of florals that aren't in the official list, such as honeysuckle, narcissus and gardenia. I get a little of the narcissus, which has a feeling of pollen and once in a while, if I sniff deeply, I catch a hint of a rich gardenia.

To the base, he added "woody" notes and vanilla to make it more sensuous and comforting. What I mainly smell in the drydown is light, sweet wood and a slightly orangey vanilla. It is comforting.

On the whole, Orange Blossom is a light, refreshing, slightly sweet white floral with the barest hint of orange. It rests over my skin like a veil and is perfect in the muggy Toronto summer heat. Just a dab from the sample was not enough - I really have to pour it on to get the full effect - but it lasts all day and wafts up gently from my wrists as I write this. I might buy a full bottle and spray myself from head to toe this summer.

Perfume: Orange Blossom
House: Penhaligon's
Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour
Head Notes
: Neroli, Violet leaf, Bergamot, Lemon-cedrat, Cardamom absolute, Pink berries
Heart Notes: Orange absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, Tuberose absolute, Rose essence, Peach flower, Orchid
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Virginian cedar, White musk, Vanilla

Art: Mockingbirds on Orange Blossom by Albert Earl Gilbert

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tauer Perfumes - Orange Star

Orange creamcicle meets wood and incense.

OK, first thing you have to know is that when Andy Tauer sent me a sample of Rose Vermeille, after I won a random draw on his blog, he sent it in an adorable little tin with 4 other samples: Incense rosé, Le Maroc pour elle, Une rose chyprée and Orange Star.

I had already tried the others, I actually have Full Bottles (FB) of Incense rosé and Une rose chyprée, so I will be doing posts about them eventually, but Orange Star is new to me, and fairly new to Tauer Perfumes too; it came out earlier this year. Andy Tauer has been busy!

The second thing I want you to know is that today was the hottest day of the year in Toronto so far. If you ever wanted to know what it's like to swim through a vat of warm, wet, woolen mittens, then you should visit TO right about now. So on the way home, in honour of the new perfume I was wearing, I stopped off for a vanilla frozen yogurt with mandarin orange pieces on top.  It was divine.

And how did OS stand up to this soupy weather? Really well, actually. I was kind of hoping that it would be refreshing, in the way that citrus colognes often are, but OS is not a cologne. It's a deep, resinous perfume with a rich vanilla and only the barest hint of floral. Still, it wasn't overpowering, even in the heat.

OS starts with a brilliant, tart and juicy clementine/mandarin note (which having just eaten, I can tell you is very realistic), and a woody lemon (the lemon grass). But when I first put it on, I thought I had misread the samples, and put on Incense rosé by mistake. Incense rosé has a juicy clementine opening as well as the eponymous incense.

As the top notes settles down a rich vanilla comes out. But now I think I smell Une rose chyprée! The same clementine top note can be found in the beginning of Une rose chyprée as well as a rich vanilla base.

Take the rose out of Une rose chyprée and put in the incense from Incense rosé and you are close to OS. But why do I smell a resiny incense in OS, when none is listed in the notes from Tauer?

Well, the notes that come with the ad copy of perfumes aren't the end of the story. They're not even really a list of ingredients. They're most like a description of what the perfumer thinks the perfume smells like. Somewhere in OS is some of the same incense or resin as in Incense rosé. But I guess it's not a major note in the perfume, as far as Andy Tauer is concerned.

The orange and vanilla are the main stars in OS. It's an orange creamcicle, my favourite! The orange is tart up top, but not sweet. It's almost a dry perfume. The vanilla is deep and mysterious, not sugary, darkened by the woody incense. This is the most unisex of all the Tauer's I have tried so far, and I'd like to smell it on my husband.

I think the similarities in the three of the perfumes can be explained by the fact that Mr. Tauer is sort of an artisanal perfumer. Tauer perfumes are "handmade in Switzerland" by Mr. Tauer. His creations are direct embodiments of his personal vision and taste. He has a style, so to speak. It's a lovely style, and he does magical things with incense, clementine and vanilla.

House: Tauer Perfumes
Nose: Andy Tauer
Notes: HEAD NOTES: A fresh citrus chord with mandarines and clementines.
HEART NOTES: Juicy lemon grass and clean orange flowers.
BODY NOTES: A rich ambergris base with Tonka beans and hints of vanilla.

Photo: accent on eclectic

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ormonde Jayne - Ta'if

Roses and honeyed dates with a hot dry wind blowing by.

From the difficult to describe (see Nuit de Tuberose) to the easy. Ta'if is a comfort scent, easy and pretty and great in the heat or in the cold.

From the Ormonde Jayne website:
Ta´if, a town rising 5000 ft above the shores of the Red Sea and overlooking the Arabian desert, is renowned for its plantations of Ta´if rose.
To this desert rose, Linda Pilkington added honeyed dates and saffron - gorgeous and perfect notes with rose. It's like eating a middle-eastern dessert with hands perfumed by rosewater. To keep it from being too sweet or foodie, a touch of pink pepper, like a dry desert wind, rolls over everything. The base is sweet, warm amber.

House: Ormonde Jayne
Nose: Linda Pilkington
Notes: Top: Pink pepper, saffron and dates Heart: Rose oil, freesia, orange flower absolute and jasmine Base: Broom and amber

Photo: labradolci

Saturday, July 3, 2010

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Nuit de Tubereuse

Jungle love on a hot and humid night in Paris.

Nuit de Tubereuse is a complex and narcotic scent. I find it very hard to describe, more than any of my other perfumes and I've been wearing it for days now.  So I have had to repeat imagery from other bloggers who seem to get this perfume better than I do. According to L'Artisan Parfumeur, NdT is supposed to be the smell of a summer night in Paris, but it's not a city at all to me, more of a jungle. (The blog Muse in Wooden Shoes mentioned "jungle" first, but it's so true and I can't get it out of my head.)

NdT begins with a sharp, sour note and an edge of decay. I don't like it for the first minute. That brief unpleasantness morphs into sweetness. It's sort of the smell of mango and gentle spices. The smell of mango has an undercurrent of decay, something rotting on a jungle floor, along with a juicy tartness up top.

The tuberose, with it's bubblegum sweetness, comes out to join the mango a few minutes later and creates what Now Smell This described perfectly as the smell of Juicy Fruit gum. Just a little. But the indolic notes of tuberose and orange blossom and yland ylang are there too, making it tropical and sensuous.

This is the part I like best. As the tuberose and other indolic flowers take over, the perfume is warmed and grounded by sandalwood and musks. It becomes very, well the only word for it is humid. That fits right in with the notion of a jungle at night, but I suppose it also suits Paris in the summer - a city that locals flee during the hot, sticky months. And a city, I have been told, with a distinct lack of air conditioning. In tribute, I chose an image from "An American in Paris," the scene where the lovers meet for a late night walk along the river - a place to escape the humidity of the city. Also a place, I imagine, that would have had some of the damp smell of decay that I get from the beginning of the scent.

NdT becomes a sweet, fruity, spicy, woody, musky skin scent. The smell of a languid, humid summer night with a lover. The mango keeps it lighter than most tuberose perfumes, giving it the feeling of being composed of layers of light, transparent silks. It lasts for a long time, I even smelled a lingering sweet woodiness a day later, after a shower and a swim. I imagine it in colours of peach, orange and brown.

House: L'Artisan Parfumeur
Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour
Notes: cardamom, clove absolute, pink berries, pepper, citrus fruits, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, mango, tuberose root, angelica, gorse, sandalwood, pallissander, musk, benzoin, styrax

Picture, An American in Paris

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Smell of Summer

There is a town in north Ontario,
With dreams, comfort, memory to spare
And in my mind
I still need a place to go,
All my changes were there.1

Today was perfect. The kind of warm, sunny day that seems like a gift in Toronto - clear blue sky, no humidity. A perfect day to sit by the pool with a book, walk the dog down in the green grass between Old Fort York and the railway tracks or get some beer and something to BBQ tonight.

I got to thinking about summer and what I would put into a bottle of my perfect scent-of-summer perfume.

It would have to be focused around the smells of northern Ontario of my childhood. The head, heart and base would all revolve around a note of cool, deep green water with sunlight sparkling on top.

The head would include green foliage and the smell of the little orange jewelweed flowers that grow down by a creek. There would be the tang and creaminess of orangecicles and the wood of their dry, licked sticks.

The heart would be the smell of hot grass and clover, and tall queen anne's lace. Add in a touch of dust from the shoulder of a back-country road and some of the orange day lilies growing in the ditch beside it. There would also be a note of wild raspberry and the leaves of the twisted canes that grow beside the road. I can't forget to add the smell of a cedar dock, warmed by the sun but with damp patches shaped like your back. Notes of warm golden skin weave throughout.

As the drydown begins you would smell notes of sticky pine sap on bark, and dry pine needles. There would be a sense of airy space dappled by sunlight slanting low through tall quiet columns of light and shade like a hushed outdoor catherdral. At the base darkness falls and out comes moss and darker woods with a touch of wood smoke. The perfume ends with more of that minerally lake water from a late-night skinny dip.

Is it out there? Can someone make it for me?

1 Neil Young, Helpless

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Tauer Perfumes - Rose Vermeille

A delicious vanilla and rose-scented macaron with raspberry cream.

Une rose vermeille, (the crimson rose), starts lemony and herbal. It puzzled me at first - I thought I knew that herb, it was so familiar, like a face in the crowd I had seen a million times but I couldn't name it. I struggled to identify it on my own and then I gave up and read Andy Tauer's blog and I knew it was the lavender I was smelling.  Lavender is a tough one for me - it's not my favourite herb. But it's well blended here and not sharp. It did make me think "soapy" when I first smelled it but that didn't last long.

Then, the rose that is the heart of the perfume. The rose is beautiful and lush and real. The quality of the ingredients in this perfume, as in all the Tauer perfumes I've tried, is astounding. It's very peppery in the beginning and I thought that might be from violet leaf, which sometimes has a peppery edge, but I didn't smell any green in the perfume. Again, I consulted Tauer's blog and I read that the bulgarian rose he used was obtained from a steam-distilled essential oil that has a peppery edge to it.

Tauer describes the oil as having a "marzipan" quality as well. Oh yes, that is exactly it. The rose develops with sweet vanilla which seems to open it up, round and creamy. It becomes like those little macaron cakes, made of almond flour and flavoured with roses and raspberry buttercream filling. The raspberry is jammy and never tart but sweet and smooth and rosy at the same time. A hint of violet adds to the fruitiness and reminds me of the lovely wine-purple violets in Serge Luten's Bois de Violette.

The drydown is all gourmand. My wrist smells like a delicious little cake and I almost want to eat it. Une rose vermeille isn't crass or young like many fruity florals, the ingredients are too beautiful - the blend too elegant. This macaron is from a master chef.

I would highly recommend Une rose vermeille to any rose lovers or any fans of gourmand perfumes. It is truly, mouth-wateringly, gorgeous.

House: Tauer Perfumes
Nose: Andy Tauer
Notes: HEAD NOTES: A citrus chord with lemon and bergamot with a hint of lavender.
HEART NOTES: A lavish bouquet of roses, raspberry and violett flowers.
BODY NOTES: A rich body with vanilla, sandalwood, tonka beans and a hint ambergris. (From Andy Tauer's blog)

Photo: miss karen
I won my sample in a random draw from Andy Tauer's blog. Thank you Mr. Tauer!