Monday, June 26, 2006
Friday, June 23, 2006
Douce Amere means "bittersweet" in French; it's a sophisticated Oriental with a fresh opening but drying down to a Gourmand-sweet base that thankfully isn't too densely powdery warm. It's not too spicy but it has just enough tingly sharpness to make it bright and interesting. This is the only Serge Lutens perfume I've tried that isn't very heavy per se, even if some of the notes are low-pitched. It wasn't love at first sniff but my second sampling has proven Douce Amere to be the perfect scent for those times when I want something non-floral but alluring. However, if you don't like sharpness in scent, this one will feel like needles up your nose. It's still not as sharp as, say, Burberry Brit or Kenzo Flower to me, but it's sharp enough, like lemon peel. For me, the sharpness saves this sweet fragrance from smelling too much like the hypersweet ambery Gourmand, Chopard Casmir (1991), which I think it may have been inspired by and certainly resembles on drydown except Douce Amere doesn't sit on my skin like rich and heavy baked goods complete with stewed fruits, syrup and frosting the way Casmir does. Douce Amere is the more subtle "skin scent", one that doesn't overwhelm yet makes a similar statement as Casmir does: Oriental exoticism mixed with dessert-loving hedonism.
If you're a fan of Casmir, this might be the more refined, honey-and-bitter-herbs version. An interesting twist in Douce Amere is the absinthe (wormwood), and there is a liquor-like scent to this perfume that I feel makes it more suitable for evening. On drydown, Douce Amere loses all of its opening freshness and ends up a soft, ambery Gourmand. I actually like it better while it still has those jagged top notes. I think they add strength and attitude which Douce Amere seems to lack in the end.
Notes on Now Smell This blog:
Douce Amere was launched by Serge Lutens in 2000. The fragrance is described as a "fresh oriental", and features notes of cinnamon, artemisia absinthium, anise, lily, jasmine, tiare flower, tagette, cedar, musk.
Thursday, June 22, 2006
The pic is of us is at a radio station to promote our Yuming remixes. Isn't he a cutie? ;-)
Fragrance of the Moment: My own little blend...Mysore sandalwood, amber, not telling the rest...
Today's news: I'm up on My Space so look me up! :-D
Also: I've added 3 classifieds on Broadjam so please look me up there as well.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
Chanel for Men--Ah, yes, this is the very best. A man who aspires to be a civilized man is a friend of mine.
From Chanel's site:
The understated fragrance for today's civilized man. A fresh, spirited green-citrusy blend in a woody oriental base, with notes of Vanilla and Musk.
Chanel Pour Monsieur (1955)
Fragrance Family: Fresh green-citrusy blend with a woody oriental base.
A fresh burst of citrus (Bergamot, Lemon from Sicily and Neroli from Grasse) yields to a hint of spicy Cardamom. Tones of Cyprus, with Cedar and Bourbon Vetiver, for a refined, discreet aftermath.
OK, but the version I really love is the 1989 Chanel Pour Monsieur Concentrée which is different:
A longer lasting interpretation of the original Chanel Pour Monsieur. It has fresher notes and deepened base note.
Mandarine, Lavender, Petitgrain
Oakmoss, Vetiver, Opoponax, Vanilla
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it has Chypre elements. That would explain why many people have said it smells like Coty Chypre. I hope I'll have a chance to smell that one day to compare with and know for sure.
(Image: from Image de Parfums)
Saturday, June 17, 2006
Thursday, June 15, 2006
I think fresh scents can be very comforting, even though it's often said that people who need comforting are generally attracted to heavier, sweeter Oriental fragrances. I believe that would include Gourmand (a subgenre of Oriental) which I think Gris Clair qualifies as being because I certainly find it sweet and sugary (not as sweet as, say, Aquolina Pink Sugar but still sweet). Many people call Gourmand scents comforting but for me, sweets aren't about comfort--sweets to me are about youthfulness, like how kids (and overgrown kids) all worship candy. When I smell a sweet perfume, I get images of ice cream and cotton candy and in the perfumery realm, I tend to think of them as rebellious scents because some traditional perfume lovers still have a hard time accepting them as legitimate perfumes.
As more Men's fragrances are turning sweeter and heavier, going deep into the Oriental realm, I think some of Women's are getting woodier, more herbaceous, and perhaps we should thank FiFi Award winning Calvin Klein euphoria for the combination of masculine-cool and gourmand-sweet which has become mainstream for Women. I don't know about you but I think Gris Clair reminds me just a little bit of CK euphoria, only more airy and subtle (it's still not a subtle scent by any stretch). From the aromatic, gender-switching Guerlain Jicky till now, perfumery seems to have come full circle in little over a century. I like these angular and straight-forward semi-manly ones better than the onslaught of soft and powdery scents for Women I'm smelling lately, none of which appeal to me. Maybe I'll get more and more into the herbaceous ones as long as those unassuming powderies get pumped into our mainstream.
Speaking of Serge Lutens, I have a sudden desire to smell Douce Amére. Here's the blurb on Aedes: "Douce Ameré is concocted with a subtle balance of Absinthe. A fresh oriental, aromatic fragrance that is stylish and warm, softened with cinnamon, tiare flower and tagette. A delicate counterpoint of softness and bitterness". Actually, the word around town is that it's rather heavy and sweet, not very subtle but that's to be expected of a Serge Lutens perfume. I've yet to find one I'd call subtle and that's prolly why I love 'em.
I'm off--it's a gorgeous, sunny day in NYC!
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Somewhere along the line, chocolate became a note in modern perfumery, much to traditional perfume lovers' despair. Chocolate is still a relatively new note which Thierry Mugler Angel (1992) is known to have brought into the mainstream. Angel, which at the time was controversial but now could be smelled almost everywhere, is a heavy (nothing is heavier, they say), distinctive, hypersweet, patchouli-driven woody-Gourmand Oriental blend with loads of fruits, caramel, honey, helional (described as celestial notes) and did I mention patchouli?--supporting the chocolate. There are new variations of Angel out now which incorporate floral notes with the original Angel smell--because as you know, anything goes with chocolate and everything is better with it. Angel is known as a rebellious perfume, and there's no denying the hippy patchouli of the shocking and scandalous Angel accord that's here to stay no matter how the trend is trying to lean toward the proper clean green act, reminiscent of the "innocent" 1950s. I doubt Rock 'n Roll of the '60s will ever die, either, hard as they may try to make us forget or not know had ever existed. Sorry, but you can't go back after Jimi, either.
Serendipitous by Serendipity 3, a popular tourist attraction on the Upper East Side, is another perfume that followed in the unorthodox chocolate way. Although Serendipitous isn't nearly as widely known or regarded as a prestige perfume, it's a personal favorite that was made in NYC. It's a no-frills cotton candy-sweet milk chocolate scent with some orange peel-y garnish thrown in over whipped cream. I think it has a New York vibe: a little extravagant with a sense of humor. It doesn't take itself too seriously but as far as chocolate perfumes go, it's Divine. Incidentally, there's a book I absolutely love called "Kissing In Manhattan" by David Schickler which features a perfume called "Serendipity" but there's no relation. Nevertheless, I found reading this while wearing Serendipitous to be an interesting experience.
There are more perfumes out there with chocolate as a main or supporting note: Pilar & Lucy The Exact Friction of Stars and the new launch by Ralph Lauren, Ralph Hot come to mind. Because it's a new note, there aren't so many of them yet and I still haven't found my ultimate chocolate holy grail perfume but I'm on a sweet kick this year, and I believe that the perfume industry's love affair with chocolate has only just begun.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Sunday, June 04, 2006
I took a trip on a train
And I thought about you
I passed a shadowy lane
And I thought about you
Two or three cars parked under the stars
A winding stream
Moon shining down on some little town
And with each beam, the same old dream
And every stop that we made, oh, I thought about you
When I pulled down the shade then I really felt blue
I peeked through the crack, looked at the track
The one going back to you
And what did I do? I thought about you
More Billie Holiday--Lady Day: The Best of Billie Holiday "Body and Soul", "These Foolish Things", "The Man I Love"
John Coltrane--Blue Train (1957) "I'm Old fashioned", "Blue Train", "Locomotion"
The classic album by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time: Oscar Peterson--Night Train (1963)
Serge Lutens A la Nuit--Floral Oriental, 2000
Notes: Egyptian, Indian and Moroccan jasmine (green shoots), clove, white honey, benzoin, musk
I'm not terribly attracted to either bottle design to be honest--not that the moon bottle isn't lovely and all, but it's very cute, cute not being my usual style. However, I wouldn't mind if a moon bottle dropped onto my lap one day unannounced. The regular spray bottles are also dainty and pretty, and I appreciate that these are glass. There's a ribbon with gold polka dots that adorns the Songes bottle. See two posts down for pics.
Today's fragrance however is Lea St. Barth. I've fallen in love with this simple sweet-powdery soft musky scent after all. Imagine a cross between marzipan and baby powder or baby oil. When I feel receptive to "clean" musk, Lea St. Barth is my holy grail comfort-skin scent. It's my perfect vanilla almond musk with a hint of cinnamon-like spicy sharpness to offset the light and fluffy airiness. It's probably too hypersweet to call "elegant" but it's well-mannered in an approchable, relaxed, down-to-earth way which I enjoy.
I've narrowed down my favorite perfumes to just 3. I don't know which of these I love the most but I'd probably die without these scents in my life (and never say never: surprisingly, they all have a softness about them that used to turn me off):
Annick Goutal Songes
Lea St. Barth
The only perfume I feel like revisiting these days is Guerlain Mahora because I'd given away my mini before my frangipani craze began. I also feel like discovering a sheer summer perfume that might resemble one of my favorites. My current favorite notes are 1. frangipani, 2. jasmine and 3. vanilla.
Today's Music: Elvin Jones on My Space. Holy Mother of God Music.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
I'm trying to figure out how many perfumes I've smelled in my lifetime and can't begin to know for sure. A woman on the perfume forum has started wearing fragrances by going from A to Z (and I don't think she's gotten off of A yet). I'm thinking maybe I'll do the same since I don't have much incentive to wear fragrance these days. While I'm at it, I might start listing all of the perfumes that I "know" (the ones I've either tested or worn regularly) to attempt to count them all.
I'm digging the lavender today. Pour Un Homme is a little more powdery sweet and comforting while Penhaligon's stays very high-pitched, cool and crisp. Perfumer Ernest Dalroff may have created a holy grail fragrance for me with Pour Un Homme after all. Look at the notes: it's got vanilla and tonka, and I wouldn't be surprised if amber's in here, too. These are the notes I've been infatuated with in the last few weeks, so at least I'm consistent about the things I like. Or am I?
Michael Edwards' notes:
Caron Pour Un Homme -- 1930
Top Notes: Lavender, Rosemary, Bergamot, Lemon
Heart Notes: Clary Sage, Rose, Rosewood, Cedarwood
Base Notes: Vanilla, Tonka, Musk, Moss
The beautiful bottle pictured is known for having a small teardrop etched in it. This design is no longer being produced. Sadly, I'm not sure if Nahéma is still made in its purest parfum form anymore.
Jan Moran's notes:
Top Notes: Peach, bergamot, greens, aldehydes
Heart Notes: Rose hyacinth, Bulgarian rose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, lilac, lily of the valley
Base Notes: Passion fruit, Peru balsam, benzoin, vanilla, vetiver, sandalwood
Samsara is another creation by Jean-Paul Guerlain that was dedicated to a different woman, but this time, according to legend, it was this woman's inner beauty that enthralled him most of all. For her, he had dedicated not one but two perfumes: this Floral Oriental beauty called Samsara (1989) and later, a sultry white floral called Mahora (2000). Both perfumes are extraordinarily heady, passionate blends revealing the status of his heart. Samsara is a warm, powdery, musky, smoky, firey yet meditative, serene blend made for a woman who loved Eastern religion and spirituality. Her favorite notes, jasmine and sandalwood, embody the heart and soul of this intoxicating composition. The bottle design, according to Michael Edwards' book, Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances, was inspired by Chinese and Japanese pagodas. Samsara became a huge commercial success and is still a Guerlain bestseller.
Michael Edwards' notes:
Samsara (Woody Floral Oriental) 1989
Heart: Jasmine, rose, narcissus, ylang-ylang
Base: Sandalwood, iris, tonka, vanilla
Sometime later, the lady had tired of Samsara when it became so popular around the world that everyone was wearing it. Even if Jean-Paul had blended her special blend by hand, Samsara was still Samsara and it was time for a new and exciting change. The perfumer created the devastating Mahora, described by Jan Moran as "a lush floral Oriental fragrance which draws its name from the native dialect of Mayotte, an island in the Indian Ocean where perfumer Jean-Paul Guerlain once had a home". Based on frangipani, an exotic white flower known as "the Flower of the Gods", Mahora is another intense fragrance but this time, it's a fragrance full of light and tranquility, the scent of love once requited even if for one perfect moment in time, if only in a dream. If paradise had a scent, Mahora might be its languid overture of bliss.
According to Michael Edwards:
Mahora (Floral Oriental) 2000
Bewitching top notes of tuberose & essence of frangipani heightened by neroli & jasmine on a voluptuous bed of vetiver, vanilla & sandalwood.
(Images: Image de Parfums, Perfumes4less, aufeminin.com)
Friday, June 02, 2006
Today another woman died
and not on a foreign field
and not with a rifle strapped to her back,
and not with a large defense of tanks
rumbling and rolling behind her.
She died without CNN covering her war.
She died without talk of intelligent bombs
and strategic targets
The target was simply her face, her back
her pregnant belly.
The target was her precious flesh
that was once composed like music
in her mother’s body and sung
in the anthem of birth.
The target was this life
that had lived its own dear wildness,
had been loved and not loved,
had danced and not danced.
A life like yours or mine
that had stumbled up
from a beginning
and had learned to walk
and had learned to read.
and had learned to sing.
Another woman died today.
not far from where you live;
Just there, next door where the tall light
falls across the pavement.
Just there, a few steps away
where you’ve often heard shouting,
Another woman died today.
She was the same girl
her mother used to kiss;
the same child you dreamed
beside in school.
The same baby her parents
walked in the night with
and listened and listened and listened
For her cries even while they slept.
And someone has confused his rage
with this woman’s only life.
If you are a victim of domestic violence, please take advantage of the services and rights that are available to you. I've added permanent links on the left but here they are below--Juct click and the links will take you to organizations that can help save your life. You are not alone. The cycle of violence gets worse over time and will not change until you take the first step.
Domestic Violence Hotlines and Resources
Domestic Violence Information
Domestic Violence and Child Custody Legal Resource Kit
I'm not anti-marriage. I'm just aware that in most cohabitation scenarios between a man and a woman, the woman gets the shorter end of the stick if the guy happens to be--oh, not such a nice a guy after all. I've never been in an abusive relationship (and I've thankfully gotten out of the ones that I felt could have gone that route--a wise being once told me to listen to the words that people use--they are clues--it's easy to forget when your body (attraction--chemistry, etc.--it's important to us) says otherwise) but I'm around it more than I want, and I know now that it's more complicated than it seems and that it's harder to get out of once you're in it. So, for the people who'll call the victims names and say they're stupid for getting into a dangerous situation from the get-go, consider this: Most women instinctively withdraw when we're feeling under attack which is why it makes it easier to be targeted. Oh, and FEAR (of consequences of leaving--e.g., getting themselves and/or their children killed)--this makes it harder to leave than anything! We're told we should be trusting so we are till the living end. So, please consider taking your ignorant criticism that women are dumb to do something to help empower us so that we don't have to continue to be victimized and ridiculed by people who won't take the time to understand but are quick to judge. Have you *been* to a domestic violence shelter (I've played there, too!)? It's not OUR fault!!!
Where was I? Weddings. If you're planning one with the man of your dreams, I'm happy for you and best wishes from Pink Manhattan. It's time for my afternoon tea.
The way they explain how they find "suitability" is actually based on an unproven, unscientific method which is ultimately based on a theory that because darker haired people (with darker skins--it really comes down to the skin color) are proven to be oilier than true blondes and redheads and thereby making lighter skins more alkaline and darker (oilier) skins acidic, acidic people should wear alkaline scents and vice versa. Here's the unproven part of it all: how do you prove what smells better? Isn't the dry down of a perfume, or even our perception of which perfumes smell good, subjective to a large degree? Where is the study that shows that all dark people smell better wearing spices and resins than citrus or chypre?
In truth, my own mother and I don't smell alike nor do we agree on the same fragrances. They say Guerlain L'Heure Bleue was created for blondes and Mitsouko for brunettes (way back in the days of segregation--but then again, this is Paris we're talking about). I don't like Mitsouko but my mother does. I prefer L'Heure Bleue. So, I don't want to hear about "most people"--I am one person with particular skin chemistry and individual taste, and I strongly dislike being stereotyped because it makes me feel insignificant and unworthy of wearing certain scents I love--unfit because I'm supposedly too oily to wear any flower that isn't tropical (sexual).
Furthermore, ph skin color-coding fragrances is sexist. Why should we continue to perpetuate the notion that dark people are more sexual beings or that blondes are dumber, redheads are...I don't know, something about being complex, but they're all labels to keep women from being anything more than these stereotypes. I guess it's all in fun for people who like to be told where they fit in. I have never liked that, so maybe that's why I rebel against the notion of scent typing. But it's deeper than that. Stereotyping and being stereotyped actually hurts me on the inside in a way I can't even fully express.
The whole unproven theory is as useful as Color Me Beautiful--not at all for those of us who are all black-haired and can really only look one way--Ethnic. There is no variation for us.
Check out a clip from the original Warhol art film, Ciao! Manhattan here (Lost Footage of Edie).
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Broadjam Earth Top 10
The standings may be different by the time you log on since the chart moves in real time.
Working with Wuj is a total blast! I think he's one of the most talented musicians I've ever had the honor of working with. He's the one who produced my Pink Manhattan Petit-CD. If you haven't checked it out yet, it's now on sale at Towerrecords.com and CD Baby.com!!
I'm always open to collaborating with more musicians and writers. I'm going to put up an ad of my own on Broadjam sometime soon but if you're a musician who's interested in working with Sali Oguri (serious inquiries only), please contact me through my site at www.salioguri.com or through Broadjam. Thank you!
How are these different from Wedding Perfumes? I think some perfumes could be both (in fact they all could be both), but I'd say that Bombshell Perfumes are the ones you generally won't wear to church. When I first joined an online perfume forum, I'd followed a link from my search for the book "Bombshell Manual of Style" by Laren Stover (with fabulous illustrations by Ruben Toledo) and ended up on a perfume forum. I didn't know before I got the book that there was a chapter in the book dedicated to perfumes described by the author as "bombshell" but on this forum, people were discussing their own favorite "bombshell perfumes" and I naturally had to jump into the conversation (and I've been talking about perfume ever since). I remember saying that I thought Boucheron was bombshell; a member replied and said that she thought Caron Montaigne was. I've always been drawn to perfumes that were dramatic, seductive, intoxicating and perhaps a little disturbing. Laren Stover has her own definition but that's how I would describe the Bombshell Perfume.
The difference between the well-mannered perfume and the bombshell is that the bombshell is distinctive, pervasive and often daringly animalic (musky with notes such as civet or castoreum) whereas the non-bombshells are innocent, polite and clean, seeming to just fit into the background of life and never call attention to itself or to the wearer. I would say "bombshell" and "sexy" are interchangeable adjectives but some people oppose the idea of calling any perfume "sexy", especially if it's used to describe straightforward and powerful scents. Of course, some people don't like the idea of women being sexually empowered at all ("sensual" is better than "sexy", they argue). Too bad--what they consider vulgar I see as a necessity to survive and be happy. I believe in female power and refuse to be quieted down. My philosophy extends into the olfactory realm.
I bring up the term "powerful" because someone on one of the forums described bombshell (or sexy) perfumes as being "powerful" and I think that sums it up--except I don't think being powerful alone makes a seductive scent. What each person perceives as being sexy or sensual or seductive depends on our own individual associations (some think leather's sexy, others think violets are sexy, etc). They say woods are the strongest notes in perfumery but most woody perfumes are fragrances for Men (although this is changing as the industry realizes than many women love heavily wooded fragrances for themselves). Typically, the Oriental family is base-heavy with rich, sweet notes of amber, vanilla and incense, as well as spices; these are generally seen as being too strong for a professional office setting. Oriental perfumes are often marketed as sexy perfumes. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur comes to mind.
There are certain flowers which are symbols of femininity, and most of these are strongly scented flowers, disturbing (in the best way) in the air if you wore them as perfume in very large quantity. Tuberose is one of the most precious notes in perfumery, a staple of the industry. It's a heady tropical white flower known as "Mistress of the Night". White flowers are symbols of femininity in many cultures: Peony in China, tiare in Tahiti and jasmine, known as the King of Flowers (as rose is known as the Queen of Flowers) the world over, are considered aphrodisiacs. Rose, in a class of its own, is a timeless symbol of femininity and another precious ingredient in perfumery; in fact, most perfumes are built on jasmine and rose. Speaking of being strong and disturbing, the mere presence of women was once so disturbing to some that women have been banned from holy sites--for instance, in Japan, women were forbidden to enter the sumo ring, a symbol of spiritual purity. In a misogynistic society, women are often despised for their "scent". A Japanese bartender once told me that traditionally, women are not allowed to become sushi chefs because women's hands are deemed too soft and strongly scented to make sushi, a clean-tasting dish. Misogyny aside, the scent of women is celebrated in perfumery.
In a time when the '50s trend will have women believe that being strong and owning our own sexuality (by being sexy) is bad and being soft and unassuming is more feminine (and socially more acceptable), I hope we keep talking about the bombshell perfumes lest these scents--and we who love them--become invisible or obsolete. Light and airy fragrances are enjoyable and I certainly wear them, but they are not replacements for truly great, grand perfumes (I need both). Whereas many retro perfumes were meant to be soft and unassuming, (to quote an actual perfume ad) to let the man be more of a man (by being a soft and quiet "woman", smelling like a non-threatening being), I believe we need to move forward in the perfume realm and either find new ways of selling light and clean or soft and powdery perfumes to women without succumbing mindlessly to that backward way of thinking, or put out some fragrances for women with body, substance and power. Yes, power. It's sexy--and feminine--to me.
Some that I see as bombshells are: Jean Patou Joy, Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb, Guerlain Shalimar, Guerlain L'Heure Bleue, Guerlain Samsara, Guerlian Nahema, Caron Narcisse Noir, Caron Tabac Blond, Caron Montaigne, Robert Piguet Fracas, Paloma Picasso, Ungaro Diva, Serge Lutens Tubereuse Criminelle, Jil Sander No.4, Rochas Femme, Panthere de Cartier, Givenchy Amarige, Givenchy Ysatis, Van Cleef & Arpels Gem, Giorgio Beverly Hills Red, Calvin Klein Obsession, Yves Saint-Laurent Y. I will also add Christian Dior Poison even if Laren Stover disagrees, saying it's too strong. Apparently, she didn't know that a strong perfume like Poison isn't meant to be doused but deftly, wisely worn in the most discreet amounts to create the perfect sillage. A bombshell perfume isn't supposed to walk ahead of you but when you move, it should leave behind a subtle trail of scent that says "yes, a real woman just slinked past". Poison is a tuberose-based bombshell, a controversial '80s futuristic masterpiece. I think it's powerful and confident, therefore sexy. Above all, it's distinctive. Do you have favorite bombshell perfumes? (Images: Images de Parfums)