Friday, July 29, 2011

Parfums Grès - Cabaret and thoughts on perfumista twins

What good is sitting alone in your room?

Grès Cabaret was released in 2002 and was inspired by a French cabaret with it's gorgeous women, beautiful costumes, and sexy-decadent atmosphere.

I find it very sexy. Cabaret is a sheer-woody rose and I'm a sucker for this style of perfume. It's very dry and has a huge hit of musks in the base that lift it and give it excellent sillage.

Unlike most of the perfumes I've been falling for lately, Cabaret is widely available and at very reasonable prices, although in Toronto you may have to order it online as I haven't seen it on counters.

I got my adorable mini bottle in a swap with a perfume pal, which brings me to my next topic: Perfumista Twins.

A Perfumista Twin is what I call another perfume fan who shares your tastes. The best thing about writing this blog has been meeting (in person and virtually) other perfume people around the world. It's given me the opportunity to chat about perfume (join us for #fumechat on Thursdays), do joint blogging projects like the We Three Kings posts last Christmas, and, most importantly for my wallet, swap samples and decants with other collectors. There are just too many perfumes to keep up with; thousands of new releases every year and thousands of excellent vintage perfumes I've never tried. Having Perfumista pals send me samples helps tremendously.@JoannElaine from Redolent of Spices was my first fumie friend. We share a love of vintage, dry-as-bone chypres and I always know I'm going to love her samples even before I open them.

But maybe even better than a Perfumista Twin is a Perfumista EVIL Twin (PET). A PET is one who has exactly the opposite tastes as you. Why is this great? Because a PET will trade with you for decants of things s/he doesn't like, but that you love! Ines from All I am - a redhead may be a PET. She sent me decant of Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo that she didn't like but that I fell in love with.

Now I may have found a new PET, Bryna, who traded with me this adorable mini bottle of Cabaret, as well as a healthy decant of Fleur de Narcisse that I had been lusting after. They may not have tickled her fancy, but I adore them. I hope this is the beginning a a beautiful friendship.

House: Grès
Nose: Michael Almairac
Notes: Top: rose, lily-of-the-valley and peony; Middle: violet, blue orchid and incense; Base: patchouli, oleander, Indian sandalwood, amber and musk

Monday, July 25, 2011

Perfume Meetup Recap

With a little help from my friends

Sunday was the perfume meetup at Noor, and it was fun. Fred and Nahla, the owners, were lovely hosts as usual. There were tons of people there, and lots of samples and new perfumes to sniff.

I was struck by the beauty of Stephen Jones from Comme des Garcons. Jones describes it as a "violet that's been hit by a meteorite." Odd description but a pretty perfume. Fred made me a sample and I'll probably review it later.

Kay from Perfumeniche let me smell her samples of Andy Tauer's new Pentachords, Auburn, Verdant and White. My first thoughts were: I like Auburn and recognize the orange topnotes and Taueresque basenotes; I did not like the opening of Verdant at all, too much like lettuces and I hate lettuces, but the drydown was better; and White struck me as the greatest departure for Tauer from his usual, but now I can't remember what it smelled like at all.

Ann from was there and told me all about the Sniffapalooza in New York and let me smell some of the samples she got there. I'm jealous; maybe someday I'll get to go.

Kim Pittaway, another vintage fan like me, brought me a sample pack of some of her new vintage finds! I can't wait to try them.

There were many more people there, I hope I'm not snubbing anyone, but too many to list. I didn't buy any perfume this round, but who knows... That Stephen Jones sample is calling me and I can't get those new Nasomatto perfumes Noor has out of my head, especially the Narcotic Venus, a spicy tuberose and jasmine with real Va-Voom.

Thanks to MasterClasster from Basenotes for organizing!

Friday, July 22, 2011

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Ananas Fizz

Welcoming the Heat

It's summertime in Toronto and that means humidity. Some days it's like walking through warm, wet wool. The funny thing is, I really don't mind; I love it hot. We have 8 months of winter here so I appreciate every moment of the summer.

Hot weather does, however, affect my choice of perfumes. On a sticky day in the city, I want to wear something sheer and refreshing. Ananas Fizz fits the bill. It's a cheerful, fruity floral that avoids cloying sugary-sweetness.

Ananas Fizz does start fizzy! The opening is a mixture of grapefruit peel and pineapple. It seems green to me, like the pineapple is still green, not yet syrupy and ripe. It's also much drier than you'd think it would be, an almost acidic edge and the fizz of soda. Later, it becomes softer with creamy floral notes. It dries to a sheer woody veil with hints of pineapple. Unfortunately it only lasts about 3 hours on my skin, but I would happily re-spray this on all day long.

Created in 2004 by Anne Flipo as a limited edition summer scent, it was added to the regular collection the next year. Flipo created another perfume for l'Artisan that I love as well: Fleur de Narcisse as well as the very pretty La Chasse aux Papillons and Verte Violette. I like her work; it feels minimalist and transparent and as if all her notes shine through with their own light.

And here comes the pain, because Ananas Fizz seems to have been discontinued. I DMed L'Artisan for confirmation but haven't heard back. Isn't that just my luck? Why do we always fall for the ones that play hard to get? I only received my sample in a swap recently but I think I'm in love. So Ananas Fizz has been added to my growing "I wish I could find..." list.

Have a bottle of Ananas Fizz to trade? Let me know below.

House: L'Artisan Parfumeur
Nose: Anne Flipo
Notes: grapefruit, bitter orange, bergamot, pineapple, coconut milk, cedar, vetiver, woody notes

Update - July 25, 2011
L'Artisan Parfumeur did get back to me, but unfortunately they confirmed that Ananas Fizz is not on their "programme." They suggested I try their Invitation Créole candles, that the scent is similar. If I find some to sniff I'll let you know.

I did however, manage to find a great deal on eBay for a bunch of Ananas Fizz samples. When they arrive, I'll be decanting them all into one bottle. So I'm set.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Perfume Meetup in Toronto

This Sunday, head over to Noor in Yorkville if you're in the mood for a little nosing around and chatting with other fumeheads. It's always a good time. People usually bring along their own samples for sniffing and swapping.

Date: Sunday July 24th, 2011
Location: Noor Boutique, 176 Cumberland St (Yorkville), 416-928-0700 (]). Nahla and Fred are the friendly owners
Time: Around 12pm/Noon to about 3:30 or so, but drop by any time. We may move around the area to some other locations at some point. Let’s see how things go and decide at the time.
To Bring: yourself & significant others / friends, any industry books or magazines, business cards, samples/decants/bottles to share/trade, etc.

From Basenotes:!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Lorenzo Villoresi - Sandalo

Sweet Smooth Sandalwood

Lovely sandalwood is a classic perfume base note, but you can also find soliflore sandalwood perfumes, ie. perfumes that explore the facets of that one note. I have sniffed many, but one of my favourites is Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo.

Lorenzo Villoresi is a niche perfumer from Italy. In his family palazzo in Florence, he is building a Perfume Academy where, through courses, seminars and events, people can explore perfume. I'd love to go someday.

His website says that the main ingredient in Sandalo is Mysore sandalwood. If it's true, that would make Sandalo a rare perfume these days. Sandalwood oil is extracted from the fragrant heart of the sandalwood tree and the best has always been considered to be from Mysore India. But for a while now, India has controlled and protected the tree as an endangered species, making Mysore sandalwood oil a scarce and expensive ingredient. Most perfumes with real sandalwood use other sources now, like Australian sandalwood.

If the quality of this perfume is any indication, then it may well be Mysore, because this stuff smells smooooth. Sandalo starts a little brighter with citrus and balsamic flecks of lavender but it quickly rounds out and stays a linear sandalwood for the rest of its skin-life. It's sweet, woody and slightly spicy like gingerbread. Sandalo smells like running your hand over soft, freshly-sanded, sun-warmed wood. I adore it and it's one of the few scents I like to wear in both hot and cold weather. On me it's very meditative, but I love it even more on my husband; on him it's a classic masculine and drop-dead sexy. I've included a photo of my Dear Husband, in Italy, with the masculine perfection of The Dying Gaul. He was wearing Sandalo on that trip. DH that is, not the Gaul.

I have to thank Ines from All I am - a redhead for my original sample and Noor for ordering my full bottle, and my husband, who thinks it's his bottle.

House: Lorenzo Villoresi
Nose: Lorenzo Villoresi
Rosewood, Lavender, Petitgrain, Orange, Lemon
Labdanum, Bulgarian rose, Neroli, Sandalwood
Sandalwood, Vetiver, Amber, Opoponax, Oakmoss

Photo, DH and The Dying Gaul: mine

** July 18, 2011 Update **
I just read Clayton at What men Should Smell Like and he actually visited Lorenzo Villoresi in Florence in June. According to him, they do use sandalwood oil sourced from India. 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eau d'Italie - Jardin du Poete

Refreshing, Modern and Masculine

Eau d'Italie released its 8th perfume this spring Jardin du Poete. Like most of their other fragrances, Jardin du Poete was created by the seemingly tireless Betrand Duchaufour. Hurray! because I am a huge fan of Duchaufour. Eau d'Italie has been hit or miss with me, but of the perfumes that I have tried from the line, the ones I have liked, Baume du Doge, Paestum Rose and Magnolia Romana, were by Duchaufour.  I can add Jardin du Poete to that list.

Duchaufour is a master of what I think of as the "modernist" style of perfume. In "classical" perfumes, it's often not easy to pick out individual notes; you smell them as a whole, a complete picture, like a painting in which the brush stokes are hidden. Chanel No. 5 is what I would call a classical perfume. It doesn't really smell like jasmine and roses and ylang-ylang; it smells like Chanel No. 5; itself, a complete thing. Some perfumes may be chronologically modern, but still of this "classical" style, like Roja Dove's Diaghilev or The Party in Manhattan.

But a modernist perfume lays out it's notes like visible brush stokes or like a play, in which the characters enter the stage sequentially. A modernist perfume introduces us to a series of recognizable notes whose individual personalities can be appreciated even as they work together to create the whole story.

In Jardin du Poete, the opening notes of bitter orange and grapefruit are refreshing, clear and bright, like a stained glass window in shades of orange, yellow and pink. Then I smell the basil, green and peppery and a little grassy.  If summer freshness could have a smell, it would be basil.

Next I smell the angelica and musk, an herbal and comforting combination that seems to float above my skin. It's a sort of masculine vibe, that reminds me of Angeliques sous la pluie. but when I sniff closer to the skin the green grass is still there. Cypress and vetiver complete the poet's garden with dark green trees and earthiness.

Wearing Jarden du Poete is like sitting in a summer garden, eating fresh citrus and sipping Pimm's. It's more English countryside than Italy to me, but it's a beautiful and refreshing summer getaway in a bottle.

House: Eau d'Italie
Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour
Notes: Top: bitter orange, grapefruit, basil Middle: angelica, helicrysum (immortelle), pink pepper Base: cypress, vetiver, musk

Photo of the Palatine Hill, Rome: mine.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Frederic Malle Portrait of A Lady and Heeley Hippy Rose

Patchouli roses for for bare feet or black tie

Patchouli and rose is a classic combination. Something about the rich perfume of roses compliments the dark, earthy-sweet, smell of patchouli.

Recently two excellent niche lines released patch-rose perfumes: Frederic Malle, Portrait of A Lady and Heeley, Hippy Rose. Both are beautiful and excellent quality. They share similar notes but they execute the classic combo in a different ways.

Portrait of A Lady

When I heard Frederic Malle speak in Toronto earlier this year, he reminisced about the creation of Portrait of A Lady. He told us that he worked quite closely with Dominique Ropion on this scent, which was born out of a shared love for their earlier perfume Geranium Pour Monsieur and a desire to re-use the base they loved from that perfume, but turn it into a perfume for women.

And so they took the oriental base of benzoin, musk, incense, sandalwood, clove and cinnamon, and changed it: making the musk more feminine, reducing the sandalwood and adding in some "heart" of patchouli. As M. Malle explained it, real patchouli has a complicated fragrance with many different facets. Before now, perfumers had often wished that they could isolate just the "heart" of patchouli, the part the smells the best, and leave out all the less attractive aspects.  New technology available to modern perfumers has allowed them to do just that in Portrait of A Lady. Malle and Ropion loved it so much they put in as much of it as they could.

They balanced this overdose of patchouli, with a huge amount of turkish rose oil. Malle said he had the opportunity to question someone once on how the famous Guerlain rose perfume, Nahema achieved such beauty, and was told that it used an unusually high percentage of rose oil. Emboldened, Malle and Ropion decided to use what they call a "daring", even "excessive" amount of rose essence for Portrait of A Lady.

According to the Frederic Malle website,"Portrait of a Lady is undoubtedly the perfume containing the strongest dosage of rose essence and patchouli heart." They call it a "baroque perfume" and it certainly is. Like baroque art, it cannot be called conventionally pretty, but it's over-the-top usage of beautiful materials makes it like a Baroque church, full of movement, and life and grandeur.

Hippy Rose

Heeley's Hippy Rose has many of the same notes as Portrait of a Lady, and when I initially sprayed it on, it reminded me quite a bit of the Frederic Malle perfume, but after wearing them side by side for a while, I see how they are quite different.

The rose in Hippy Rose is a fresh, velvety petaled pink blossom, as apposed to the dark red of Portrait. Hippy Rose smells like a just-picked rose; it's soft and dewy. The opening is a little peppery and tart. The patchouli and incense give it a nice dry-woody base and the amber and musk make it a little softer and warmer, smoothing out any edges.

So the question I was asked on Twitter was: which one do I prefer? That's a hard one. If you asked me which one I enjoyed wearing the most it would be Hippy Rose. It's a soft, pretty, mellow, patch-rose that feels really comfortable. Hippy Rose feels natural for day or evening or just hanging out in bare feet in the backyard.

But, ask me which perfume I think is the most important. As a perfume fanatic, I am always looking for the best, the most beautiful, and sometimes the most shocking. Many times I have moaned about how a classic perfume has been reformulated into banal nothingness. I believe that fifty years from now, perfumistas will be hoarding original bottles of Portrait of A Lady. I may find it a little intimidating to wear, like when I was twenty and my aunt offered me a loan of her mink coat. I don't always feel like I can pull off Portrait of A Lady; it's an evening gown scent. But the next day, traces of it linger on my clothes and on my pillow and they smell divine. Portrait of A Lady is going to be a classic; if you care about that sort of thing, buy a bottle now.

House: Heeley
Nose: James Heeley
Notes: Bergamot, green moss, Bulgarian rose, patchouli, incense, Haitian vetiver, amber, musk

House: Frederic Malle
Nose: Dominique Ropion
Notes: turkish rose, red berries, spice, patchouli, benzoin, cinnamon white musk, sandalwood, frankincense

Photo dark rose: mrgarris0n
Photo Sant'Andrea al Quirinale, Rome: mine
Photo pink rose: ~Dezz~