I so want to try this. My only Penhaligon's retailer in town closed it's doors in the spring. Note to Toronto retailers: there is a big hole in the perfume market in Toronto. Someone please carry Penhaligon's!
Monday, August 13, 2012
Monday, July 9, 2012
I seem to be going through a mid-life crisis, but instead of flashy sports cars, I'm finding myself drawn to sweet perfumes that young girls might wear. Maybe this is just my natural evolution as a perfumista? I started my perfume obsession loving spicy, woody, and incense perfumes. It took me a while to enjoy white florals and even longer to appreciate roses. I even starting liking fruity florals that I would have turned up my nose at previously. Now here I am, four years into this olfactory hobby, and I've fallen in love with Love, a sugary sweet perfume that I would have judged as way too young for me just a short time ago.
Maybe it's the heat. We're in the middle of a hot, sticky summer in Toronto and I've always had a thing for creamsicles, that vanilla ice-cream and orange treat on a stick. Love, (full title: Love, don't be shy) is mostly an orange blossom perfume, dipped in vanilla and covered in powdered sugar. As it wears on the skin it gets richer and more animalic. The sugar turns into caramel and the base feels thick and resiny.
I may have to save up for a bottle of Love. By Kilian perfumes aren't cheap, and I suspect that there are many other sweetie vanilla, orange blossom perfumes out these that I could try, but I do love the By Kilian line. Nothing ever smells cheap in a By Kilian perfume and the strength and lasting power is amazing. Just the tiniest drop of Love on my wrist lasts all day.
So what do you think, is my new love for the sweet perfume just the natural progression of my nose as I lose my early perfumista prejudices and broaden my palette? Or am having a second childhood? How do you feel about sugary perfumes?
Nose: Calice Becker
Notes: bergamot, neroli, pink pepper, coriander, honeysuckle, orange blossom, jasmine, rose, iris, civet, caramelised sugar accord, vanilla, cist labdanum, white musk
Friday, June 22, 2012
Deliciously tart, ruby red stalked and leafy green, rhubarb grew like a weed in the bottom of our garden in late spring. When I was a child, my mother would give us rhubarb stalks freshly picked and trimmed with the ends dipped in sugar.
Rhubarb isn't a common note in perfume, but I ran across it three times this spring. The first was in La Tulipe by Byredo where it lent an impression of brilliant red and green to a perfume built around the idea of the spring flower.
Then this June, I was lucky enough to go on a vacation to Las Vegas. I love the hot, dry desert; it's so different than my usual wet, cold or humid Toronto. While in Vegas, I went perfume shopping - naturally. I found myself drawn to two perfumes with a distinct rhubarb note: Rose Ikebana by Hermes and the new Signature from Aedes de Venustas.
"Beautiful and minimalist, the traditional Japanese art of ikebana - arranging bouquets of cut flowers and leaves using very few elements - ideally corresponded to a form of expression I could transpose in a perfume. The smell of a rose early in the morning, damp, sprinkled with dew, delicate and light." - Jean-Claude EllenaI had to include that beautiful quote from the perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena because it perfectly describes the perfume and, I think, his famously minimalist style. In Rose Ikebana, the rhubarb note is tart but sheer and a little like grapefruit. Although I originally went into the Hermes store planning to buy Pamplemousse Rose, I ended up with a bottle of the more subtle Rose Ikebana. After the rose and rhubarb, the dominant note is green tea. Dry and pretty, but not soapy or sweet, Rose Ikebana is the perfect antidote for the heat. Spray liberally however, for I find it doesn't last. [P.S. The Hermes in the Crystals shopping centre has the nicest store director! We chatted for a long time about perfume and Jean-Claude Ellena. He made me feel quite at ease in a store where I couldn't afford anything but the perfume.]
Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena
Notes: rose, rhubarb, green tea
Aedes de Venustas SignatureWhen I saw the heavy amethyst bottle with its gold scroll top, I did a little jump for joy, right there in Barneys at the Venetian. The new Signature perfume from the niche perfume store Aedes de Venustas in New York is only available in their own shop or in Barneys and a few other places, but no retailers in Canada, so I was really excited to be able to try it. Not to mention that Signature was created by one of my favourite perfumes, Bertrand Duchaufour.
My first impression of Signature was "Huh. Weird." But after an hour with it on my hand I knew it was the most interesting thing I had smelled in while, and I went back for a bottle. It's very unique. It's also hard to describe because Signature has so many different facets. Mostly I smell damp earth with green growing things and a tension between bitter and tart. The tartness is the rhubarb, running like a green grapefruit note throughout the bitter earth. There's a dry woody hint of incense and something kind of funky in that dirt too, like compost in the garden, but I wasn't quite able to name what it reminded me of until I got home. I was walking in the hallway of my apartment building and smelled a familiar skunky sweetness and I had a light bulb moment! In an interview with Bertrand Duchaufour on Grain de Musc, he says he inserted a "ganja" accord into Signature. It's just a hint that pops up now and again in a very complicated but thoroughly enjoyable perfume. I've been wearing Aedes de Venustas Signature a lot this month and I am not even close to getting bored with it. I think it will be great all year 'round too.
Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour
Notes: rhubarb, hazlenut, green apple, ganja, vetiver, incense
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
The Lady Is Still A Little StrangeI purchased Narcisse Noir this spring on a whim. I was attracted to the name! I had never smelled it and I knew very well that it had middling reviews. Narcisse Noir is one of those perfumes that has been said to have been drastically reformulated since it's original release in 1911. Tania Sanchez in "Perfumes, The Guide" says it's a shadow of its former self; that it's lost all its drama and strangeness.
Well, I don't think so. It may not be what it was, but having never smelled the original, I can't miss it. What Narcisse Noir is now, is a pretty orange blossom perfume that manages to be both ladylike and a little odd at the same time.
Narcisse Noir isn't about narcissus. A fresh orange blossom dominates the perfume. The orange blossom has a soapy quality like very expensive, fine-milled French soaps. It makes me feel graceful. But somewhere underneath the sweet flowers and soap is the smell of dry dirt. Can dirt be elegant? Imagine the smell of very expensive, fine-milled French dirt. The combination of clean and dirty makes Narcisse Noir fun to wear.
Narcisse Noir may be a pretty, clean orange blossom on top, but she still hides a strange side.
Nose: Ernest Daltroff
Notes: african orange flower, narcissus, jasmine, orange, rose, vetyver, musk and sandalwood.
Friday, April 20, 2012
SundressDoesn't everybody love a sundress? A sheer, pretty scrap of nothing that you can throw on and feel completely comfortable on a hot day is a wardrobe staple. Not into dresses? Think of a well-worn, soft linen shirt. Ô de l'Orangerie is like that - a sheer and casual veil for summertime.
Released this spring, Ô de l'Orangerie is the 3rd flanker to the original Ô de Lancôme. It opens with sunny orange blossom and a brisk orange peel. The heart is a light clean jasmine and the base notes are soft and almost undetectable. In general, Ô de l'Orangerie stays a pretty, lightly orange, slightly sweet jasmine on my skin.
Unfortunately it doesn't stay too long, but at only C$54 for 75ml, one could afford to re-spray often.
Notes: orange zest, orange blossom essential oil, orange blossom absolute, jasmine, benzoin, cedar
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Life is a bowl of tulipsIt's a cold and rainy April day, perfect for contemplating my lovely vase of tulips. They were a gift from my old office. I start at a new office on Monday. Spring is a good time for new beginnings and tulips are my favourite spring flower. Beautiful, cheerful, delicate but strong, tulips don't have a strong floral smell, but they do have a soft, clean smell, like a vegetal musk.
Byredo La Tulipe was created to reflect the soul of the tulip, not just it's smell. It starts green and fresh - not sweet but slightly peppery. The rhubarb is noticeable later as a sour-cherry note; it makes me think of the bright reds and pinks of tulip petals. The base is a cool clean musk with a hint of earth.
Overall, La Tulipe gives the impression of freshness, clean shoots and pink buds growing on a cool wet day. My only criticism is that it doesn't last long, but that means I can spray liberally.
Nose: Jerôme Epinette
Notes: Rhubarb, Cyclamen, Freesia, Tulip, Blonde Woods, Vetiver
Photo of tulips, mine.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
Green MilkByredo is a Swedish fragrance house, founded in 2006 by Ben Gorham. Byredo manufactures all its perfumes in Sweden and has a vision based on craftsmanship and fine materials. The noses of the house are Olivia Giacobetti and Jerôme Epinette, who did Green.
Even though Byredo just became available in Toronto in February, at Holt Renfrew, there was a previous Canadian connection. Ben's dad was Canadian and he lived in Oakville and Toronto. Green was inspired by Ben's memories of his father's scent, an "overdose of green notes," a combination of green beans and Geoffry Beene Grey Flannel.
Green is an unusual combination of bitter green notes and sweet, milky-powdery notes. It opens with a blast of bitter green and orange blossom. After a couple of minutes this becomes the smell of green stems and fresh cut flowers. The smell is much like walking into the cold room of a florist - the damp, sweet and green smells of freesia and cut stems. As Green develops on my skin, a soapy aspect becomes noticeable. It's half creamy, half powdery-sweet.
The effect reminds me of milkweed and the sticky, milky-white sap that seeps out when you break its leaves or stems. The smell and feel of milkweed are vivid memories from my childhood, from early pinkish flowers, through fat green pods, to dried husks filled with downy fluff and seeds. As a result, I find the wearing Green very innocent and comforting.
Nose: Jerôme Epinette
Notes: Orange petitgrain, sage, jasmine, rose, honeysuckle, violet, tonka, almond, musk
Monday, March 12, 2012
My Secret GardenAs the days get warmer and the sun returns to Toronto, we all smile a little more. Green shoots that will soon reveal brightly-coloured blooms are just starting to push their way out of the dark soil but it will still be a month before the our branches are covered in blossoms. I want to wear Spring flowers now, like narcissus, lilacs and tulips, but especially hyacinths. These flowers are sweet but not too sweet. They're "thick" smelling to me, like their waxy petals, but they also have dry, green, spicy, and metallic edges to them.
Diptyque Jardin Clos is inspired by the smell of a walled garden in the Spring. After a lightly-sweet and dewy opening, the rich diva smell of lilacs and and the sharper green-spicy smell of hyacinth are laid over a bed of leaves, moss and a touch of the woody, earthy smell of cedar.
Jardin Clos doesn't seem to get a lot of love in the blogs. This first time I smelled it I wasn't impressed either. I think the smell of hyacinth is a difficult one to love. But this year I put it on and it was exactly the right thing.
Jardin Clos smells like the springs of my childhood, full of rubber boots, pussy willows and puddles and hours spent exploring the wilds of woodlots and back gardens.
Nose: Yves Coueslant and Christiane Gautror
Notes: watermelon, white lilac, blue hyacinth, leaves, moss, cedar, musk
Sunday, February 26, 2012
Tempt MeCruel Intentions is my new obsession, I've had it on all week and I can't get enough. The perfumer is Sidonie Lancesseur, the same nose who created another favourite By Kilan perfume, Incense Oud. "Tempt Me" is an apt name, as I am seriously tempted to get a full bottle.
My new love came as a surprise to me. The sample card and web site told me that Cruel Intentions is about lemony bergamot and the "warm, enfolding, balsamic notes of oud." I've never been passionate about bergamot or oud. But wearing Cruel Intentions is like a twisting story that reveals hidden layers as you go along.
It starts with a fleeting citrus splash, but blink and I miss it. Some light orange blossom is there but almost immediately I smell a dark medicinal wood that leads to the heart of the perfume: smoky wood, bitter green papyrus, and dark earth.
As I wear Cruel Intentions, another side to it grows stronger: something sweet and warm. The base is made of warm animal notes (civet and castoreum), smooth sandalwood, and sweet vanilla. This side of Cruel Intentions is cuddly and sexy and just... hot DAMN! The genius is the way these two sides, the smoky-bitter heart and the sexy-sweet base, are held in balanced tension. A pale, twisting ribbon of floral notes laces the whole thing together like a corset.
Now, if there are two things that I love, it's bitter papyrus and sexy "critter-y" notes like civet. In Cruel Intentions I get to have both. Like a fairy tale where the dangerous, cruel, (yet devilishly-handsome) villain turns into a sweet and passionate lover who hangs around the next morning and cuddles. As if I am Little Red Riding Hood and I can have both the wolf and the woodsman.
Nose: Sidonie Lancesseur
Notes: Bergamot calabria oil, orange blossom oil, violet accord, centifolia rose absolute, agarwood, Indian papyrus oil, gaiacwood oil, Haiti vetiver oil, sandalwood, styrax absolute, castoreum absolute, vanilla absolute, musk
Sunday, February 19, 2012
New Vintage from Down UnderTommi Sooni is a fairly new Australian perfume house working in the style of traditional French perfumery. All its perfume bottles are hand finished and packaged. It currently has four perfumes; Tarantella was the first.
Tarantella is an floral leather chypre with a vintage feel. It immediately made me think of the classic perfume by Germaine Cellier, Jolie Madame. It has that same elegant feel.
Tarantella starts with aldehydes and green galbanum. The heart is a classic bouquet of rose, orris, jasmine, where you can't really smell any of the flowers distinctly, but it smells divine and like money. The florals are kept from being sweet by the dry-spicy smell of marigold and bay.
The chypre base is my favourite part of Tarantella. It's detectable right from the beginning, a smooth leather with wood and heaps of moss. When I wear it I can't stop sniffing my wrists, I love that dry moss and soft leather so much. Another perfume by Germaine Cellier it brings to mind is Bandit, but the leather in Tarantella is smoother, more the "inside of a handbag" kind.
Tarantella is a must-try for all chypre lovers, or vintage lovers. It would suit a strong woman or an elegant man.
Notes: Aldehydes, galbanum, orange blossom, French marigold, Sicilian mandarin, Frangipani, muguet, jasmine, orris, Anatolian rose, bay laurel, clove, Patchouli, amber, leather, moss, sandalwood, intense musk
Monday, February 13, 2012
Who Doesn't Like Roses?
The rose is the queen of flowers. Rose can be combined with fruity, spicy, woody, or green notes. Rose perfumes can be sheer and light, rich and hypnotic or dark and dirty. There's something for everyone in a rose. This Valentine's Day, give your sweetie (or yourself) a new rose perfume. Here are some unusual and excellent roses to try.
Czech and Speake is a luxury English line of bath products and perfumes, They do a gorgeous rose soliflore. Nothing fancy, just a real English rose, with some green leaves up top and a hint of earthy patchouli in the base. Lovely.
For the Traditionalist: Czech and Speake, Rose Cologne
Notes: bourbon rose, geranium, ylang ylang, mimosa mingle, patchouli
Une Rose is a "master's rose." This is the whole rose bush, from green leaves, to full blooms. Even the dirt still clinging to the roots is represented by the soft and earthy "truffle accord." The heart is is rich red rose drizzled with animalic honey. The honey note is pure sex for some, but can smell a bit "pissy" to others. Not for the faint of heart.
For the Sexpot: Frederic Malle, Une Rose
Nose: Edouard Fléchier
Notes: Turkish rose absolute, fruit, honey, geranium, wine dregs, truffle accord, dark woods, animal notes
The full name for this lolita is Liaisons Dangereuses typical me. Like Britney Spears in "Oops, I Did It Again" he or she will fool you with the face of an angel but underneath, something smells not that innocent. Dangerous Liaisons starts very green with a huge hit of green leaves and grape-y fruit. As the rose note opens up, the fruit deepens into a plum pie. Underneath is all is a soft, recently slept-in bed of musk, vanilla, woods and moss.
For the Dangerous Sweetie Pie: By Kilian, Liaisons Dangereuses
Nose: Calice Becker
Notes: blackcurrent buds, plum, peach, cinnamon, ambrette, rose damascus, geranium, sandalwood, oakmoss, vetiver, woods, vanilla, white musks
Another gorgeous rose by Calice Becker. Rose Oud is rose petals scattered on the rich woody oud. The oud feels light and airy, not heavy. It's like smoke. As the perfumes sits on your skin it gets warmer and sweeter. The spices, mostly cardamom, become noticeable. It has an almost gourmand quality, like some kind of middle eastern toasted pastry. The rose beomes fruity like a fine red wine. Rose Oud wears close to the skin but has remarkable staying power. The next day my skin smells like candied roses and incense.
For the Exotic Pussy Cat: By Kilian, Rose Oud
Nose: Calice Becker
Notes: rose, oud, saffron, cardamom, cinnamon
There's always the one who says "I Hate Valentine's." Give him or her a great citrus perfume with subtle rose note. I fell in love with Pamplemousse Rose on first sniff. It smells like a sparkling, mineral grapefruit, like Pink Grapefruit Perrier. It's only after the first 15 minutes that you start to smell sheer pink roses under the dry and tart citrus. Pamplemousse Rose would be a perfect summer scent, but it also brightens up a dreary winter day.
For the Sourpuss: Hermes, Eau de Pamplemousse Rose
Nose: Jean-Claude Ellena
Notes: pink grapefruit, rose
Sunday, February 5, 2012
The New VintageAs 2011 drew to a close, I was in a perfume funk. I had started to believe that there was nothing new in perfume that would interest me. Stunt perfumes, such as those supposed to smell like blood or semen or industrial factories, bore me. It takes more skill to make a perfume that is novel and smells great. Also on my pet peeve list are high concept perfumes like those that limit themselves to a small number of accords. Nothing is more annoying to me than art that comes with a manifesto.
I've also become disenchanted with vintage perfumes. While I love the boldness of some older perfumes, the oakmoss heavy chypres and dry green chypres, the leather and tobacco, most of the old beauties are gone forever. There were a couple of gems I found last year, like my bottles of Bandit and Vacances, but most vintage I tried isn't the same. I've come to know well the smell of perfume "gone off."
But when I smelled Azemour les Orangers, I realized there is a new category of perfume for me to love: the New Vintage. Azemour is a perfume that is perfectly modern; it has distinct, recognizable notes and sheer layers that feel as if light is shining through them. But it combines the modern style with the vintage feel of a really mossy base. It's the best of both worlds.
Azemour was created to recall the Morroco of the perfumer's childhood: the spices, the orange groves, the dry desert winds and grasses. It smells of bright young oranges and ancient places.
There is a lot going on in Azemour. Every time I sniff my wrist I smell a new facet of the perfume. Azemour has a juicy citrus burst, with spices in the opening. The bright orange and hay notes are like my favourite Bigarade Concentree. After that, the smell of green leaves is created with galbanum and blackcurrant, reminding me fleetingly of L'Ombre dand l'Eau. The heart notes are mostly neroli and orange blossom. But it's the base notes that make Azamour special. A huge amount of moss is present right from the beginning. It's almost musty, and I think that might put some people off, but if you love mossy chypres, you'll probably like Azemour. The moss is grounded with cypress and a very detectable caraway note that I think makes this a more unisex perfume.
If you have ever grieved the loss of oakmoss-heavy vintage perfumes, give Azemour a try. There are still some perfumers out there making really mossy perfumes.
Nose: Marc-Antoine Corticchiato
Notes: orange, clementine, tangerine, grapefruit, coriander, cumin, black pepper, pink pepper, blackcurrant, galbanum, neroli, geranium, orange blossom, rose, hay, moss, henna and cypress
Friday, January 27, 2012
Dislikes and Blind Buys
I haven't written in a while, mea culpa. The same old excuses apply: life, work, new commitment to the gym, yadda, yadda.
In my last post, the lovely JoanElaine complained that I was giving too many glowing reviews (making her lust after more perfume) and could I please review something bad for a change. She was joking but it's a fair criticism. Most of my reviews are positive because positive reviews are the most fun to write. Who wants to wear a terrible perfume for 6 hours or more just to see how it develops? I also have the natural reluctance of an amateur to criticize professionals. Someone, somewhere worked hard on this perfume and who am I to say that it is crap. Maybe it's just me?
But, by not giving any bad reviews, I make it hard for you, dear readers, to decide if my tastes match yours and it makes me seem a little lightweight, I suppose. So, I will try to post negative reviews more often and I encourage you all to keep in mind my motto: "You might be different, so go forth and sniff."
The Blind Buy
A little while ago, I was contacted by a friend, who was ordering the newly re-released Venezia, by Italian fashion designer Laura Biagiotti. This friend has been raving about Venezia for years to me. She was ecstatic that it was being re-released and wanted to know if I wanted a bottle too. I said yes, even though I had never smelled the original. The notes sounded nice and the original had very good reviews from people I respect, like The Non-Blonde.
The original Venezia (1992) had notes of: black currant, mango, plum, peach, bergamot, osmanthus, geranium, carnation, iris, amber, cinnamon, jasmine, cedar, rose, sandalwood, tonka, musk, benzoin, civet and vanilla. It was, by all accounts, a sexy, fruity-floral oriental. From blog comments I know that there were many people like my friend, who had been desperately missing Venezia since it was discontinued.
Then, in 2011, the word was spread that Venezia was coming back! The perfume was being reorchestrated by Lucas Sieuzac and the original nose Michel Almairac. The new notes were: plum, jasmine and vanilla. Maybe the drastically shortened note list should have been my first clue.
How It Smells
When my bottle arrived, I eagerly opened the box, and gamely ignoring the cheap-feeling, red plastic cap, I spritzed on a generous amount. I was hit with the smell of nail polish remover and hairspray. Well, ok, top notes can be deceiving. I waited and sniffed again. Sweet jam, fake vanilla and a heavy synthetic cedar note. Oh dear. Synthetic cedar I don't mind; I actually love the way it's overdosed in Omnia. But in Venezia, the whole thing is a mess and it smells cheap. I couldn't wear it.
Luckily, my friend was more than happy to have the bottle back. She loves it. I'm glad and I hope she doesn't read this, so that I don't spoil it for her.
Nose: Lucas Sieuzac, Michel Almairac
Notes: Plum, jasmine, vanilla
Saturday, January 7, 2012
I feel pretty, oh so pretty!Take a look at the Bouguereau painting, The Rapture of Psyche – the lemon yellow and pink-tinged dawn, the floaty plum chiffon, the angel and butterfly wings – it's a perfect depiction of true love overcoming reason. That's what Mary Greenwell's Plum smells like.
More prosaically, Plum starts off with sweet-tart fruits, like peach, plum and lemon. The heart is a bouquet of feminine flowers. I smell mostly tuberose and gardenia but very smoothly blended and with none of the cheesy, mushroom or menthol-petrol notes. The base notes are subtle and woody with maybe a hint of moss, but not really enough to make it a vintage-style chypre. The next day the ghosts of sandalwood and amber still haunt my skin.
Plum is the debut perfume for Mary Greenwell, a make-up artist to the stars. The nose, Francois Robert has done a few perfumes, mostly for the niche line Les Parfums de Rosine, but seems to be known mainly for re-working Lanvin's Arpege. For a while, Plum was carried exclusively by House of Fraser in the UK, but you can get it online now from Luckyscent in the U.S.
I called Plum beautiful in my New Year's eve post, but I was wrong. Real beauty contains tragedy or a hint of something dark. Beauty needs a flaw which highlights its (otherwise) perfection. Beauty is often difficult and unapproachable. There is nothing dark or unapproachable about Plum. It is sheer delight. Plum is a shower of white and pink petals on the breeze.
Oh dear, I'm back to being poetic, but I just can't help myself. I shouldn't love Plum this much. It's basically a fruity floral, right? That's nothing unusual. Have I outgrown the need for my perfumes to be, how should I say it... difficult? Like a lot of perfumistas, I started my perfume obsession with over-the-top spicy, incensey, woody, mossy, or green perfumes. Anything but pretty florals. Have I come back around to loving what everyone else already loves?
Yes, my collection has a need for something like Plum, something charming and easy to wear. I think Plum would make a perfect first perfume for my niece, too. I've been looking for something that would suit a girl, but still be high quality.
When I put on Plum, I take a deep sniff and grin. It is just so pretty! Enough rationalizing. I am beyond reason. I'm in love.
Nose: Francois Robert
Top: English plum, blackcurrant, peach, bergamot and lemon
Heart: gardenia, tuberose absolute, orange flower absolute, rose absolute and jasmine absolute
Base: precious woods, sandalwood, oakmoss, patchouli, amber and white musk
Painting: William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Le ravissement de Psyché (The Rapture of Psyche) (1895)
I might never have heard of Plum if it wasn't for my lovely fellow perfume bloggers. Check out the reviews of Plum by The Scent Critic, Muse in Wooden Shoes, This Blog Really Stinks, and Waft... What A Fragrancefanatic Thinks.