Friday, December 30, 2011

My Favourites of 2011

Another year, and dozen bottles

Well, another year is almost past and my perfume cabinet is getting pretty full. One of my New Year's resolutions will be to go through it and take out bottles I never wear. They can be boxed up and moved to a dresser drawer or perhaps traded. Dan, who organizes the wonderful meet-up events at Noor, tells me he's planning a bottle/decant swap event for 2012. Perfect timing, because if I can't make more room in my closet, how will I buy the new perfumes on my wish list?

I sniffed a lot of perfume in 2011, most of it OK, some of it astoundingly beautiful.  In December, as I contemplated my Christmas list, I began to feel that there was nothing left for me to buy or ask for. I have so many great perfumes. As you can see from the photo above, I could wear what I have for the rest of my life and probably never run out.

So, here are my top 10 favourite perfumes of 2011.

1. Parfumerie Generale Papyrus de Ciane

Number 1 on my list and my biggest surprise of 2011 is Papyrus de Ciane. Dry, dark, mossy and green, this tribute to the famous Mousse de Saxe base is perfect. I was passionately obsessed with PdC for most of the fall; it was all I wanted to wear. It seriously interfered with me testing anything else, which was a surprise to me because I had originally tested the sample in 2010 and found it too bitter. How much difference a year can make! In 2011, I had to have a full bottle. My nose is definitely still changing.

2. Jean Patou Vacances

The early part of 2011 was all about vintage perfume for me. The wonderful Mr. Fritch at Fritch's Pharmacy in Kitchener introduced me to many old beauties and I was flattered to be interviewed for an article about vintage perfume in Maclean's magazine. My best purchase from Fritch's was Jean Patou Vacances. Not only is the bottle with it's green glass stopper beautiful, the perfume is a gorgeous green lilac that lifts my mood every time I wear it. It's a heart breaker too, because it's been discontinued and is notoriously hard to find. This is the only bottle I will probably ever have, so I treasure it.

3. Serge Lutens Five O'Clock au Gingembre

Fresh ginger and early grey tea. Spicy, warm, dry and yummy - Five O'clock au Gingembre was the perfume I wore while baking Christmas cookies this year with a good friend. I expect to continue to wear it often this winter.

4. L'Artisan Parfumeur Fleur de Narcisse (Exceptional Harvests Collection 2006)

At a perfume meetup at Noor this year, I met Bryna, who may be my perfume evil twin. What I mean is, she doesn't love what I love and lucky for me, she likes to trade! For a few samples from my collection she gave me a generous decant of Fleur de Narcisse. I had been coveting this limited release for a while. The daffodil smells like the volcanic soil it was grown in, as well as hay and leather. It's a day in the country in a bottle.

5. Chanel Bois des Iles

Chanel finally released its Exclusifs line in smaller bottles! I snapped up Bois des Iles which I had been dreaming of since 2008 but just couldn't justify the huge 200ml bottle. The new, smaller 75ml size is perfect. Now I can wrap myself in its creamy sandalwood and gingerbread cashmere scent anytime I need some comfort.

6. Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo

My Dear Husband took me to Rome in the spring of 2011, and it inspired me to buy him a bottle of Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo. I don't think this niche Italian perfumer gets enough love in the perfume blogs; he is very talented. Sandalo is a smooth and spicy sandalwood of high quality which is getting harder to find these days. I can hardly keep my hands off my DH when he wears it.

7. Frederic Malle En Passant

2011 was the year I met the charming Frederic Malle! He gave a fascinating lecture on perfume and the industry at Holt Renfrew. His niche line of perfumes really started the trend of celebrating perfumers, the artists who create the scents, instead of hiding their names like most mass market perfumes do. I purchased a bottle of En Passant by one of my favourite perfumers Olivia Giacobetti. En passant is a story told with transparent drops of water on lilacs and a soft dusting of flour.

8. L'Artisan Parfumeur Ananas Fizz

My first successful eBay purchase was a box of samples of Ananas Fizz. I think this perfume was discontinued because it's a love it or hate it scent. I didn't expect to love it, but the first sniff of fizzy pineapple from a sample received in a trade made me grin. It was one of my favourite hot weather perfumes in the summer of 2011. I had to have more, but when I went to buy it I realized it had long been discontinued. Luckily, I found the box of samples on eBay and with the help on a funnel and an empty decant bottle, I now have one of the few remaining bottles of Ananas Fizz in existence.

9. Parfums de Nicolai Vie de Château Intense

If you haven't tried any of Patricia Nicolai's perfumes yet, make it a New Year's resolution. She is a genius. Vie de Chateau is la dolce vita in a bottle. Sugared grapefruit, fresh-mown hay and soft suede gloves.

10. Jean Patou Joy

Let's end the list with Joy. Joy was a lucky find at Winners, where you can sometimes stumble on excellent older names in perfume that may have fallen out of fashion but are still of great quality and beauty. Besides Joy, I've bought Rochas Femme, Bvlgari Black and Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia at my favourite Winners. Joy is a classic and beautiful sparkling jasmine bouquet with a smoldering sexy base.

Coming in 2012

Just as I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Samples showed up in the mail and in my stocking that surprised me with their beauty and I am once again covetous. Huzzah sayeth the retailers. Right now I am wearing the heck out of these samples and will be reviewing them soon:
  • Mary Greenwell Plum - Maybe the most beautiful thing I have ever smelled.
  • Hermes Eau des Merveilles - Sexy perfect unisex skin scent
  • By Kilian Liaisons Dangereuses - Green plum, cassis, rose, cinnamon and musk. Yum.
  • Parfums d'Empire Azemour  les Orangers - If you love old-fashioned oakmoss heavy chypres, run, buy this now.
Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Tannenbaum - 3 Wood Perfumes for Christmas

A Joint Blogging Project for A Merry Christmas!

Another year has flown by and it's time to do our annual (2 years now!) Christmas group blogging project. This year Redolent of Spices has kindly organized a huge group of perfume bloggers to participate in celebrating the season by posting reviews of perfumes that feature wood notes.

Woody perfumes are some of my favourites. Whether it's bracing cedar, creamy sandalwood, peppy pine, or moody black hemlock, wood is indispensable in perfume as a base note in many perfumes but many gorgeous perfumes feature wood as the main note. This year, I am reviewing three wood perfumes I haven't reviewed before, and also listing some of my favourite wood perfumes from my personal collection.

Russian Orthodox Christmas: Comme des Garcons Zagorsk

Zagorsk (now Sergiyev Posad) is a city in Russia, the home of the great Russian monastery Trinity Lavra, the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox church.

Zagorsk is also a perfume, one of the Series 3: Incense perfumes from Commes des Garcons. The series was devoted to incenses of 5 major religions. Zagorsk represents orthodox Christianity. I previously reviewed another from the series, Avignon. Nobody does wood and incense like CdG.

Zagorsk is dark and calm and meditative, like a church deep in the woods, covered in snow. Incense and wood are the main notes. The incense swirls around inside the wood like smoke in a log cabin. The opening is has pine and a very spicy note, almost like cloves. After the opening notes have calmed down, a fruity violet note is noticeable but Zagorsk remains mostly about the trees.

House: Comme des Garcons
Nose: Evelyne Boulanger
Notes: white incense, pine, pimento berries, violet, cedar, iris, hinoki wood, birch wood

Ottoman Empire Christmas: Caron Yatagan

Meant to evoke a romantic vision of mystery and adventure in the Orient of the past, Yatagan is named after the curved turkish sabre.

Caron launched Yatagan in 1976 as a men's perfume. But I adore it. It was no surprise to read that is was created by Vincent Marcello, who also created Private Collection for Estee Lauder. It shares the same gorgeous green and mossy notes.

Yatagan smells like pine trees, green leaves, wood smoke and a touch of leather. Now that I've read the notes, I can smell the celery, more like celery salt, but it's not overwhelming. The chypre base has darker notes of patchouli, moss and musk. It starts fresh green and woody and but ends with moss and leathery.

When I was 14 years old, I had a crush on an older boy from my church's youth group. On a winter retreat, we snuck off and took long walks in the snowy woods where we would sit quietly together for what seemed like hours to me, while he smoked, and maybe held my hand. I was in heaven.

All I want for Christmas is for all men to smell like Yatagan, but if I can't have that, I will dab it on my own wrists, and surround myself with the smell of walking into the snow-hushed woods in a borrowed leather jacket.

House: Caron
Nose: Vincent Marcello
Notes: celery, patchouli, musk (From the Caron website)

Moroccan Christmas: Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds

Atelier Cologne calls Bois Blonds a "cologne absolue" because it has the feeling of a light refreshing cologne but, at 20% perfume concentration, it has the oomph of a stronger perfume. Simple yet powerful, clean yet spicy, sweetly feminine and masculine notes notes combine to make Bois Blonds a perfume for everyone.

Bois Blonds' notes ring clear as a bell. Sweet orange flowers are accented with nose-tingling pink pepper from the bazaar. Around this floral heart dances a touch of incense and sheer woody notes. Vetiver and clean musk provide a base.

One thing not mentioned in the notes is juniper, but I get the distinct impression of juniper berries in the opening notes, like a crisp gin and tonic. The juniper note makes Bois Blonds like an icy cold morning with bright sunshine. I break an icicle off the bush, and I can taste the tree in it. In the afternoon, the sun melts the snow and the sweet smell of spring is just around the corner.

House: Atelier Cologne
Nose: Jérome Epinette
Top notes: Tunisian neroli, pink pepper
Heart notes: Moroccan orange flower, incense
Base notes: Blond woods, musks, vetiver from Haiti

Some of my other favourite wood perfumes are:

  • Chanel Bois des Iles - creamy sandalwood
  • Commes des Garcons Hinoki - a forest of cedar and incense.
  • By Kilian Incense Oud - frankincense and sweet sandalwood bliss
  • Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo - spicy and smooth sandalwood
  • Bulgari Omnia - gingery cedar and white chocolate
  • Ormonde Jayne Woman - the woods are lovely, dark, and deep with Canadian black hemlock

More  O Tannenbaum

Please visit all the other lovely blogs participating in O Tannenbaum to read their choices of woody perfumes:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Frederic Malle L'eau d'hiver

In the lane, snow is glistening

Gentle and powdery as fresh fallen snow, L'eau d'hiver is both fresh and cuddly.

L'eau d'hiver was created for the Frederic Malle line by the famous perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. Ellena's style is minimalist and sheer and L'eau d'hiver is a good example of that style. It's a light and easy to wear veil of scent. But simple doesn't mean boring.

With l'eau d'hiver, Ellena was trying to create a new concept in perfume, the "eau chaude." When I smell L'eau d'hiver, I smell a  perfume that feels like a sheer cologne, but instead of the traditional crisp and cool experience a cologne can provide, Ellena added warm, comforting notes as well.  L'eau d'hiver is a combination of these cool and warm elements. 

Powdery iris and musk and an ozone-like note create a impression of snow in the opening. Soft and sweet floral notes of heliotrope and clover-honey float in and change the cool grey iris into something warmer. L'eau d'hiver smells like pristine powdery snow and baby skin.When I wear it I imagine an early morning walk though an untouched snowy world, with the sunrise just turning the sky rosy. Around my neck is a cashmere scarf and on my head is my pink bunny-fur hat.

House: Frederic Malle
Nose Jean-Claude Ellena
Notes: iris, heliotrope, honey, musk

Friday, December 2, 2011

Cartier L'Heure Fougueuse IV

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening?

L'Heure Fougueuse (HF) is the fourth perfume in Cartier's "Les Heures de Parfum" collection of eight fragrances. The collection is meant to evoke moments of "pure emotion" and HF is the feeling of freedom in "the wild gallop of life."

Gallop is the key word here. In-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent has created something unique and beautiful but so shocking to me that I couldn't believe it when I first dabbed on my sample. On first sniff all I could think was "Holy!"

I must have said it out loud, because my husband asked from the next room if everything was ok.  I'm a little late to testing this perfume, and from what I've read I know that many other perfume bloggers smell tea and jasmine etc. in HF and not really horse. But I absolutely smell horse. Or a very clean, recently vacated, horse barn, with hay on the floor and leather tack on the walls.

After a few minutes a pungent green magnolia/lily note dominates the perfume, but the ghost of the horse remains, like a horse blanket and saddle in the background.

Mathilde Laurent calls it a "magnificent combination of animalistic notes recalling the history of luxury perfumery and humanity." Humanity has certainly been close to the horse for much of our history. The smell of HF reminds me of a time when the fragrance of animals was a part of daily life. It's a homey, comforting sort of smell if you've ever liked barns or horses.

Unfortunately the other side of the HF coin, that super green magnolia/lily note is not my favourite.  I've smelled this green lily before, in Tauer Carillon pour un Ange (where it is also combined with leather) and recently in Jo Malone Bluebell (a lot cleaner and lighter.)  I really have a problem with it. Maybe it's something I will grow out of in time, but for now it's a shame I can't wear it, because the horsey part of HF is really amazing.

House: Cartier
Nose: Mathilde Laurent
Notes: Magnolia, "thoroughbred refinement" and "oak barrel" (from the Cartier website)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chanel - Bois des Iles

The Cashmere Wrap Scent

Do you have a cashmere wrap scent? It's a perfume that makes you feel like you are wrapped up in a soft, luxurious blanket. For me that perfume is Chanel Bois des Iles.

Bois des Iles pushed boundaries in its time. Ernest Beaux created it in 1926 as twist on a traditional woody masculine fragrance, but for women. Bois des Iles opens with a hint of citrus and the champagne sparkle of aldehydes. Soon, it becomes all about the creamiest sandalwood you have ever smelled.  Flowers are used to add shimmer and highlights, but they are also seamlessly blended with the wood. I get hints of lily of the valley and jasmine if I inhale deeply. There is also a touch of soft peach skin and fruity rose.

The wood beneath these flowers glows and surrounds you in a close cocoon of comfort. It has a slightly spicy and sweet warmth to it, which many have called the "gingerbread" note. It's gourmand without being foody because the creaminess is dry. If Bois des Iles were a colour, it would be chocolate brown with champagne highlights or the colour of silk by candlelight.

Bois des Iles is my comfort scent, but it's also very rich smelling. Rich as in decadent. When I want to smell like a million bucks, I reach for my Bois des Iles. Luckily, smelling like million bucks is more affordable, now that Chanel is offering its Les Exclusifs line in smaller, 75ml, bottles and not just the enormous 200ml ones.  If you'd like to give Bois des Iles a sniff, head on over to a Chanel Boutique, or Holt Renfrew in Toronto.

House: Chanel
Nose: Ernest Beaux
Notes: aldehydes, and "Sandalwood and Ylang-Ylang spirals in a base of Tonka Bean and Bourbon Vanilla, with heady, enchanting notes of Sicilian Mandarin and Calabrian Bergamot." [from the Chanel website]

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Maison Francis Kurkdjian - Absolue Pour le Soir

Dirty Dirty Rich

Some perfumes are demure, innocent and cheerful  - and then there's Absolue Pour le Soir. This is pure sex. Francis Kurkdjian has created a perfume that I wouldn't even consider for my young niece and I'd be embarrassed to wear in front of my mother. But, oh baby.

Absolue Pour le Soir is the dirtiest thing I've smelled in a long time. It's gorgeously filthy. It's interesting too. It has a sort of backwards progression that keeps you guessing all day as you take furtive sniffs of your illicit smelling wrists. It starts off with a brief fruity twist of candied orange peel and a bang of smoke and amber. The smoke is thick - was there a fire in here? The amber is pure sex, like the amber in Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan. In fact, every note that could conjure up the illusion of animalic relations has been used: sweaty cumin, sticky, slightly urinous honey, and civet, tons of civet, that ultra-sexy bottom note.

Gradually a cool, creamy floral, like soapy rose and ylang ylang pudding, becomes noticeable underneath the smoky amber. The sensation is like burying your nose in warm fur and coming across a hidden vein of cold cream. Incense smoke and honey continue to swirl around the cooler notes and a lovely sandalwood becomes more noticeable in the later hours.

Wearing Absolue Pour le Soir is like waking up in bed the morning after, in tangled and fragrant silk sheets, and having your naughty escapades from the night before return to you gradually in blurred images.

House: Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Nose: Francis Kurkdjian
Notes: Benzoin from Syam - Rose honey - Incense Absolute - Ylang Ylang - Cumin - Atlas Cedar and Sandalwood

(Apologies to Lady Gaga for the unauthorized use of your image. I'm a big fan. Don't sue me.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Olly The Smelly Robot

Smell-O-Vision is finally a reality. Mint Foundry has developed a "smelly robot" they call "Olly." This computer peripheral can be customized to puff out fragrance for any Internet action, like a tweet or a Facebook message or a calendar alarm.  Olly has a removeable section in the back that can be filled with perfume, essential oil, even alcohol.

The possibilities for perfumistas are tantalizing. Imagine if all your incoming tweets were announced by the sillage of Fracas? Or every time you received a Facebook Like, you smelled a waft of Joy? Or a calendar reminder pops-up to tell you you're late to meet friends for drinks, and it smells like Juniper Sling?

via Core77

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Bottega Veneta

A Signature Scent

The luxury Italian leather goods house Bottega Veneta has released its first perfume, a floral leather chypre that fits perfectly with the image of "craftsmanship, understatement, and refinement" that Bottega Veneta represents.

Bettega Veneta is a beautiful, well-blended chypre. It opens with bergamot and light jasmine. The heart has a slightly fruity quality underscored with a softly spiced suede. If there is patchouli, it's the very "clean" kind that adds just a little earthiness to the suede base notes. Bottega Veneta is a very pretty, classy, scent that I could wear any day.

I'm the type of person that has a perfume wardrobe. I choose my daily perfume based on mood and weather and activity. But most of the people I know are "signature scent" people. They like to buy one bottle at a time and wear it until it is empty. I usually have trouble selecting a perfume from my collection that would work for people like this. Most of the perfumes I own I collected because of their uniqueness, but they might not be the type of scents one could wear every day. Bottega Veneta however, could easily be a signature scent if you're so inclined and I would have no problem recommending it to anyone who would like a beautiful refined fragrance. If you're in Toronto, head over to Holt Renfrew to give Bottega Veneta a sniff.

As a bonus, the bottle is gorgeous and would look great on any dresser. It's made of heavy Murano glass that feels good in the hand and it has a woven imprint on the bottom like the leather that is the company's signature. A soft suede ribbon is wrapped around the top.

House: Bottega Veneta
Nose: Michel Almairac
Notes: Italian bergamot, Brazilian pink pepper, Indian Sambac jasmine, oak moss, patchouli and Indian patchouli.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Jean Patou - Joy

Affordable Luxury

Jean Patou released Joy during the Great Depression in the 1930's with an advertising campaign that billed it as "the costliest perfume in the world." Does that seem odd? It was actually a very clever marketing move. After the Wall Street stock market crash in 1929, the Parisienne fashion house lost many of its American clients who could no longer afford haute couture clothing. So, Jean Patou offered instead a luxury perfume that, while expensive for perfume, was still more affordable than the clothes. Joy offered a taste of uncompromising quality and luxury that still fit his clients' budgets.

To create Joy, perfumer Henri Almeras famously sourced that most precious ingredients in huge amounts. Ten thousand jasmine flowers and twenty-eight dozen roses are required to make each bottle of Joy parfum. Jean Patou has its own dedicated fields of jasmine and roses in Grasse, France.

I have a bottle of the EDT. Joy opens with sparkly, waxy aldehydes and green lily of the valley. After a few minutes you begin to appreciate the fragrant jasmine and rich rose bouquet. It's lush and very well blended. The dry down has a dark, slightly bitter note behind the flowers and a touch of warm muskiness.

According to the Jean Patou website, the formula for Joy is unchanged; I find that hard to believe, but the quality of Joy is undeniable. It is gorgeous and I highly recommend it to any fans of plush florals or jasmine. Joy may no longer be the quintessential luxury perfume (I found my bottle at Winners), but it's an everlasting beauty.

House: Jean Patou
Nose: Henri Almeras
Notes: (From Jean Patou website)
Top: Bulgarian rose oil, Ylang Ylang, Tuberose
Heart: Rose de May, Jasmine de May
Base: Musk

p.s The top photo is Greta Garbo in Mata Hari, 1931. Here are some more photos of her. Delicious, isn't she? I believe that's a bottle of Joy on her dressing table, on the left, in the last photo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Parfums de Nicolai - Vie de Château Intense

Life In A Castle

The French expression "la Vie de château" translates literally as "life in a castle" and means living a life of luxury. Rough equivalents would be the Italian "la dolce vita" (the sweet life, a life of pleasures and indulgence) and the Irish "the life of Riley" (an easy and pleasant life).

Vie de Château Intense is a sweet, pretty perfume. For the first few minutes, it smells like surgared pink grapefruit and wildflowers. It's breakfast on the patio in the county. As opens up on your skin, it takes on more of the smell of hay, freshly mown and drying in the nearby fields as you peddle your bike past on a summer afternoon. It's warm and sunny. The base is smooth and soft and has a texture and smell to me like pale grey suede.

I've been wearing Vie de Château Intense a lot this fall. It's a favourite of my husband's; he likes its sweet simplicity. A co-worker commented that it reminds him of childhood memories. It doesn't smell like luxury, not the way that Chanel Cuir de Russie or Bois des Iles does, but it has the air of a sweet life, of carefree and untroubled pastoral memories.

House: Parfums de Nicolai
Nose: Patricia de Nicolai
Notes: Tobaco, hay, oakmoss

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chandler Burr TEDx: Perfume as Olfactory Art

This talk by Chandler Burr at the TEDxDanubia 2011 has completely blown my mind.

I have a degree in Art History and studied the architecture of Mies van de Rohe and the part where he compares the Seagram building in New York to Chanel No. 5... it's perfect.

I can't catch my breath. I feel like there's literally a giant light bulb over my head. I want to move to New York and throw myself at Chandler's feet and beg for a chance to work with him. For free.

Thank you to The Perfume Shrine for posting this video first and making my world brighter!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Prada Candy plus Perfume and Food Combos

Trick or Treat

This is so not my usual thing. I thought I would hate Prada Candy but it's actually pretty yummy.

Prada Candy opens with a big sweet caramel note and lots of fluffy musks. When I first sniffed it I thought "Oh, this is going to be very popular." It has decent sillage and smells like a perfume that is sure to "pull" in crowded club. Sure enough, all the girls in the store raved about it; it's their new favourite.

But Prada Candy is more than a simple sweetie. The middle notes of the perfume are all about benzoin, an ancient resin that smells of soft honey and vanilla. The benzoin saves Prada Candy from being a cloying kiddie perfume by adding complexity. It has a dry almost herbal facet that reminds me of chamomile.

After a few hours, Prada Candy is back to being delicate caramel and musks clinging to my skin. With its powdery, musky skin note and its milky-sweet candy note, Prada Candy walks the line between comforting and sensual. Think of it as both a warm, caramel-coloured cashmere sweater coat, and as silky sweet lingerie.

Perfume and Food

The cooler weather is the perfect time to wear a gourmand perfume. It's even more fun to wear perfume and eat some complimentary food. Here are some yummy perfume/food combos for fall:
If you've tried Prada Candy, let me know what you think or tell me your favourite perfume/food combos.

House: Prada
Nose: Daniela Andrier
Notes: white musks, benzoin, caramel

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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parfumerie Generale - Papyrus de Ciane

Falling Hard

I first tried Papyrus de Ciane in 2010 and was unimpressed. Oh what a difference a year makes. Papyrus de Ciane is my new obsession. It is everything. It is all I am wearing and all I want to smell. It is perfect on men and women; the anti-pink perfume.

The Ciane

The Ciane is a river in southern Sicily where the only wild papyrus flourishes. The area is the largest wild growth of papyrus in EuropeNo one knows who brought the plants there. Were they presents from Ptolemy II to King Hiero of Syracuse or were they brought later by Greeks, Romans or Arabs?

Mythology has it that it was on this spot that Pluto opened a passage to Hades and kidnapped poor Persephone down into the underworld. Her bereft playmate, the nymph Cyane, mourned her so much that she literally cried herself a river. In the 19th century, it was as de rigueur for young Europeans to take a boat to the source of the Ciane on their Grand Tour as it was to visit Il Duomo or any Roman ruin.  They would float in wooden rowboats among the reeds that rose six feet tall, just like on the Nile, and contemplate romantic stories of the Greek gods.

Pierre Guillaume has created an intense green perfume to celebrate these intense green plumes. He also create it to be a modern interpretation of the legendary perfume base "Mousse de Saxe."

Mousse de Saxe

Mousse de Saxe is a dark, sweet mossy-woody accord with green freshness and a deep powdery drydown. According to Octavian Coifan, the original was created by Marie Thérèse de Laire in the early 20th century. It was meant to provide a moss or chypre base note to perfumes. On Bois de Jasmine I learn that Ernest Daltroff of Caron used a dark mossy base accord of geranium, licorice, leather, iodine, and vanillin that was called Mousse de Saxe. Whatever it's origin, Mousse de Saxe was used in or referenced by such great perfumes as Nuit de Noel, Habanita, Bois des Iles and Chanel No. 19. And now the name Mousse de Saxe belongs to Pierre Guillaume, because it lapsed into the public domain and was bought by Parfumerie Generale.

So What's It Smell Like?

In Papyrus de Ciane, Pierre Guillame has taken out the sweetness and turned up the green. It opens with a bright, bitter green note. Gods, it is so bitter; I adore it. If you love the biting galbanum of vintage Bandit or Chanel No. 19, wait till you get a load of this.

With the green, sinking down to dark depths like the pool surrounding the reeds, are grassy vetiver-like notes, sheer woody notes and smoky incense-like notes. A soft mossy base cushions your landing.

Like the vintage perfumes, Papyrus de Ciane has personality and real depth but it contemplates the historic base but from a thoroughly modern perspective. They layers are sheer, the colours distinct. It's close to the skin and very wearable.

According to a Grain de musc interview, Pierre Guillaume composes his perfumes to be loved. Baby, it's working.

House: Parfumerie Generale
Nose: Pierre Guillaume
Notes: Galbanum, Broom, Mild Plant Note, Creamy Wood, Mousse de Saxe

Friday, August 26, 2011

Vessel Parfums - Occult

Good Juice

I was approached recently by Hollis Schwanz, founder of the new indie perfume company, Vessel Parfums, and asked if I would like a sample of her debut perfume, Occult.

A disclaimer first: I don't make any money from this blog (really, really the opposite as it encourages the growth of my perfume collection) and everything I write here is my honest opinion. This perfume stuff is just for fun. I don't promise to review anything I'm offered, never mind positively. But I've been wearing Occult a lot and I like it, so here we go.

The marketing material tells me the notes for Occult were chosen to reflect the sensuality of the west coast "back-to-nature" movement in the 1960s. I'm not sure how that's supposed to fit with the name and bottle design (see below) but more on that later.

What I smell is a warm, mysterious ceremony in the woods. Occult opens with a note like mulled wine, fruity and with hints of cinnamon. There's also something rich about it, like creamed honey. There's vanilla but it's not too sweet. The focus of the perfume is on the smooth woods in heart. Sandalwood and cedar notes rub up against amber and civet, like a big, dark cat with gold eyes.

I have only a couple of criticisms. The first is that this rich, dark smell doesn't seem to fit with the idea of sunny 1960's California hippies to me. I could be wrong, I wasn't there. Maybe northern California, deep in the redwoods at night... But it's not the earnestness of the "back-to-nature" movement. Occult is a good name. Hmmm, "Rasputin" might be better actually.

The second thing is the bottles themselves. Occult is available in two sizes, the 2oz bottle and a small 0.5ml vial necklace, called "the talisman." The talisman feels cheap and young,  whereas the perfume definitely does not. The string, the charm, it's like something my 11-year old niece would wear. I don't like the full bottle design either: the Manson font and the vampire eyes. I think this juice smells better than that.

I've been carrying the little talisman around with me in my purse and re-applying often. Just a little dab goes a long way, so I think this is an eau de parfum concentration. Occult smells like quality materials, well put together, and the opposite of the insipid girly-vanilla perfumes out there. It has presence and weight, and is definitely unisex. Give it a try if you like rich orientals with sandalwood and cedar.

House: Vessel Parfums
Perfumer: Natasha Cote, Givaudan
Top: Laotian beeswax, black plum, Somalian olibanum
Heart: Texan cedarwwod, Haitian vetiver, leather, amber, Indonesian patchouli, sandalwood
Base: Benzoin (Laos), vanilla bean (Madagasscar), civet, opulent musks

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summer Scents

What I wore on my summer vacation, 2011

Summer is its own perfume category. Hot humid days cry out for cooling colognes; languid summer evenings beg for pretty florals; garden-fresh green notes just seem so right and if you can't get to the beach, you can always smell like one. On my staycation this summer, I hung around the city during some of its hottest days. Away from the restrictions of the office, I was free to spray on whatever and as much as I wanted. So here is list of what I wore to beat the heat.


Santa Maria Novella Acqua di Colonia
I first tried this in the spring on a trip to Rome. I was looking for a perfume that was quintessentially "Italian" and that would help me cope with the heat while we traversed the hills of Rome by foot. Acqua di Colonia fits the bill. It was originally created in 1533 by Dominican friars for Catherine de Medici. Its cooling combination of citrus, herbs and flowers feel as good as stepping into the Trevi Fountain on a hot day.


Penhaligon's Orange Blossom
A favourite of mine for sleeping in year round, this light, airy take on orange blossom starts with a pink pepper and end with a whisper of vanilla and wood.

Bvlgari Bvlgari Pour Femme
The perfect pretty floral perfume for a casual summer evening in a barely-there dress and sandals, Bvlgari Pour Femme is a carefree violet, rose and jasmine with a warm amber base.


Parfumerie Generale - Bois Naufragé
My beach in a bottle. This simple combination of wood, salt and ambergris makes my skin smell like I just went swimming in the ocean. The driftwood note and the salty-sweet skin note of ambergris combine with a pale "green plus coconut" fig-like note to make it seem like just the barest trace of suntan lotion is left on my skin under the salt.

l'Artisan Parfumeur - Ananas Fizz
Grapefruit and pineapple make this perfume a fizzy but not too sweet refresher. I find it somewhat balsamic and floral. When I wear it people say I smell like the beach.

Creed - Virgin Island Water
Virgin Island Water always makes me smile. Coconut, rum, lime and creamy ylang ylang smell like a tropical cocktail in paradise.


Eau d'Italie - Jardin du Poete
The smell of fresh basil is one of the best things in summer. In Jardin du Poete, refreshing bitter orange and grapefruit shine down on the bright green of basil and cypress like a garden at high noon. Moody green angelica, musk and vetiver bring you down to earth in that same garden at dusk.

Parfumerie Generale - Papyrus de Ciane
This is a good example of how perfume tastes can change over time. When I first tried this scent last year, I wasn't really into it. Now I adore it. The main notes are galbanum, neroli, incense, labdanum, vetiver and a gorgeous dark, mossy Mousse de Saxe base. Not really a "fresh" green scent, but more of a dry, smoky, resinous green, I know Papyrus de Ciane will continue to be one of my favourites right into fall.

So what are you wearing this summer to beat the heat?

Photo: Chasing Water I by andreaffm

Friday, August 12, 2011

Marie Saint Pierre B and C

Decisions, decisions

Marie Saint Pierre, the doyenne of the Canadian fashion scene, is based in Montreal. Her avant garde designs use a minimalist palette of mostly black with shots of orange, red and gold. The lines are clean, strong and angular.

In 2010 Marie launched two perfumes to complement her collection. They were created by Evelyn El Koubi of Luxe Alternative in Paris. The enigmatically-named B and C are said to be inspired by Montreal, personal travel and garden aromas.

They are both outstanding. I ordered the samples with a purchase from Luckyscent on a whim, because they were Canadian and I'd never heard of them. I wasn't expecting to love them, but I do. They are both beautiful, multi-faceted, sexy and yet comforting. Like her clothing, both are high quality and wearable. I've been wearing them alternately all week and I can't even decide which is my favourite, it seems to depend on which one I'm wearing at the time.

B could stand for 'baisser" (kiss) or "bois" (wood). It's rich and sensual. It starts with a thick caramel and burnt sugar note but it's not cloying or childish. Nutty spices warm it up and a thrum of sexy cedar and sandalwood keep it grounded and mature. The heart has a fruity rose/violet combination that together with the  cedar reminds me a lot of Serge Lutens Bois de Violette.  I see this perfume in colours of cinnamon and gold, melting over wine-dark purple and red. B is a sweet perfume for grown-ups. It's the more outgoing of the twins with more sillage.

C could stand for "caresse" (caress) or "cuir" (leather). C is a soft musk and leather scent with floral and spice facets. The first thing you smell is the green floral combination of petitgrain and orange blossom. Then iris and the softest suede take over. Orange blossom continues to weave in and out through most of the perfume. It dries down to a warm musk and saffron skin scent.  I may have found a new musk perfume to replace the Annick Goutal Musc Nomade that I can no longer wear.

The black lacquered bottles echo Marie Saint Pierre designs. Continuing the Canadian fashion theme, each bottle is sealed with a ceramic bijou of fused glass and ribbon, created by Canadian artist Melanie Laplante, that can be worn multiple way as a necklace or bracelet.

Can I afford two more bottles of perfume? No. Do I have room for two more bottles? Hell no. But can I stop huffing my wrists? Nope. Maybe one now and one for the wish list, but how to decide?

Marie Saint Pierre B and C are available in Canada at several stores in Quebec, one retailer in Kleinburg Ontario, and online from See the link below for more details.

House: Marie Saint Pierre
Nose: Evelyn El Koubi

B Notes
bergamot, Turkish rose, Atlas cedar, violet, caramel, beeswax, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, sandalwood, musk, maple sap, vanilla

C Notes
bergamot, petit grain, saffron, buckskin, iris, orange blossom, freesia, leather, cedar, musk

Friday, August 5, 2011

By Kilian - Sweet Redemption, The End

Alpha and Omega

Sweet Redemption, The End is the 10th and last perfume in By Kilian's L'Oeuvre Noire series, that has explored themes of love and temptation. I previously reviewed Love and Tears, Surrender which is one of the best jasmines I've ever tried.

In this final perfume, Kilian has created a complex balance of opposites. Sweet and bitter, light and dark, innocence and death, or is it rebirth? 

Sweet Redemption, The End starts with creamy orange blossom, a flower often associated with innocence. The pale creaminess melts into a heart of darker, sticky resins. The sweet smell of vanilla and cinnamon comes from benzoin but the perfume stays away from gourmand territory by the addition of bitter, medicinal myrrh.

Myrrh is an incense often associated with death and funeral preparations. It has a fragrance that takes time to love. I find that myrrh adds an almost plastic note to Sweet Redemption, as if the perfume is actually a sweet but synthetic amber, melting on my skin. Like vanilla ice-cream and dark honey frozen into bakelite.

At one point the light layer of orange blossom hovering over the incense base notes, created an illusion of lilies, Like a stereogram image created from two separate photos. Lily isn't mentioned in the notes, and maybe it was all in my head, but it fits with the theme of endings and redemption, death and rebirth. Lilies are the flowers of both funerals and Easter.

So in one fragrance, By Kilian leads us on an olfactory journey from beginning to end. Innocent fresh orange blossoms mixed with evocative ancient resinsto offer redemption as the ultimate temptation.

Sometimes I find the By Kilian ad copy a little florid, their packaging a little pretentious and their prices steep, but I have to admit the juice is outstanding quality. By Kilian will be offering the L'Oeuvre Noire series as a complete set of travel-sized atomizers this fall and I am tempted.

House: By Kilian
Nose: Kilian Hennessy
Notes: Orange blossom, bitter orange leaf1 vanilla, myrrh, opopanax, benzoin2, incense

1 Bitter orange leaf is mentioned only on the By Kilian website.
2 Benzoin is mentioned only on the Luckyscent website.