Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien

I remember the year when Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien was the #1 bestselling fragrance at Sephora in New York City. It was awhile ago, but I'll bet this fabulous fragrance, the bestseller in the Annick Goutal line, only gains more loyal fans each year. I've decided I love Eau d'Hadrien enough to call a signature, one of my holiest grails. The reason it sold so well here is probably because it's a very convertible day-to-night fragrance. It's so delicious-smelling, fresh and energetic, a wonderful pick-me-up in the A.M, but soft and natural-smelling, not at all obtrusively heavy with too much woods or musk in the base, perfect for the most conservative Wall Street office through the day. It goes effortlessly through lunchtime, melding nicely with food smells (it's not a perfumy smell at all), and eases into the late afternoon with a happy disposition (although by this point, you'll need a refresher spritz); in a pinch, you can dab a bit behind each ear before evening festivities, as it'll even take you onto a limo going crosstown to the opera or an elegant dinner. Here is elegance that can double as sporty, from the racquetball court to Lincoln Center without being too overwhelmingly Chypre (which can scream "perfume") or going the typical sportif or aqueous Marine laundry detergent way.

I know Annick Goutal was a great perfumer because she got the basics right. She was also a pianist--leave it to a musician to get the job done well :-). Eau d'Hadrien is a pleasure from beginning to end with no hard edges, except for the brightness it exudes confidently. This is an excellent shared fragrance between men and women, and to prove it, there are different styles of bottles you can choose from.

Annick Goutal's line is timeless and classically French; the perfumes are known for their quality, high content of natural oils and simple but beautifully composed, easy-to-wear creations that can layer upon each other through the day. Some of the scents are heavier than others (Passion, Gardenia Passion, Grand Amour, Sables) but a good majority of them are light, making the Annick Goutal line optimum for choosing good daytime scents from--a must for any professional woman who wants to make the right impression from the first hello.

(Image: www.escentual.com, www.vonmaur.com)

Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien

Annick Goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien is similar to Eau d'Hadrien in that it's citrusy, but it has some spices, woods and warmth to go along with that refreshing citrus. I prefer the original Eau d'Hadrien, but lately, Fred, who is a long time wearer of Chanel Pour Monsieur, has declared Les Nuits d'Hadrien his new scent. I think it's a good choice, and voila--now, we match.

If you love Les Nuits d'Hadrien for yourself, this, too, is a shared fragrance like Eau d'Hadrien, and comes in an array of bottle choices. It also comes in EDT (eau de toilette) or the more longer-lasting (stronger, more concentrated) EDP (eau de parfum).

(Images: Annick goutal Les Nuits d'Hadrien ad, http://www.imagesdeparfums.fr/, Men's bottle, www.selectbathdepot.com, Women's bottle, www.bbqguys.com, Butterfly bottle, www.perfumeriaq.com)

Monday, April 28, 2008

Sali Oguri Pink Manhattan Purrfume Reviewed On Perfume-Smellin' Things

If ever a perfume review could be Emo, I think this newest review of Pink Manhattan Purrfume by Donna aka Flora has nailed it. It's a moving and captivating story, the way only Donna can tell it, full of playful humor and some of her signature White Floral Queen drama (If you're not familiar yet with her series of white floral reviews on Perfume-Smellin; Things, you need to read them all). This PM review to me was better than a Hollywood movie, how I got swept away by the panoramic visuals she paints and how I empathized with her impassioned desire to just be herself and live life to the fullest. I've come away feeling renewed. Her genuine warmth and free spirit, as well as her creative, accurately descriptive (and not merely evocative but showing perfumista knowledge) and always classy writing, continue to inspire me. She's a special friend, and she's sweet towards her readers and entourage of adoring fans, too. Please click on the top banner or click here to visit Perfume-Smellin' Things blog for the article, plus a special draw--*** You can win! ***

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Laura by Laura Biagiotti, Etro Vicolo Fiori, Selah by Selah Parfums

I'm reviewing these three together because they remind me of one another. First, there was Laura by Laura Biagiotti. Italian designer Laura Biagiotti's perfumes are made in Germany. Laura to me has a fresh and delicately powdery aqueous musky appeal. It's predominantly a rose blend, with black currant (cassis) top notes, watery florals supporting the (synth) rose note, a handful of soft fruits and a relatively light musk base. I'm reminded of other musky powdery scents such as Kenzo Flower and Cacharel Noa, but Laura is rosier and a bit fruitier than those. It's a quiet type of perfume, youthful and transparent, yet with a veil of powder like seeing marine life through a soft focus lens. I might call it an angelic, innocent composition, one that could be a great wedding choice.

The notes according to Basenotes:
Laura Biagiotti Laura (1994)
Top Notes: Melon, Watermelon, Cassis, Lychee
Middle Notes: Waterlily, Rose, Apricot, Violet, Jasmine, Carnation, Peach, Lotus Flower
Base Notes: Sandalwood, Vanilla, Musky notes

Milanese design house Etro has its own niche line of perfumes, among which I find Vicolo Fiori particularly pleasant. I find Etro Vicolo Fiori (1996) to be very similar to Laura, except I find Vicolo Fiori not as sporty, or obviously melony. Still, the theme and smell borrow from Laura the blushing bride: a rose and cassis blend with watery florals, aqueous fruit notes and a powdery, musky base.

Notes on Etro's site:
Head notes: tangerine, campanula
Heart notes: water lily, lotus, cyclamen, wild rose, ylang-ylang, white peach, cantaloupe
Base notes: musk, iris, sandalwood, vanilla, amber

Selah (2000-2001) by Selah Parfums of Israel (Selahparfums.com) is an obscure perfume I once had the pleasure of sampling through their website (I don't know if they still offer samples), and I was delighted to find out that this lovely scent was also along the lines of these subdued powdery aqueous rose blends. It comes in an exotic bottle and the scent would be lovely for Spring.

Another one to try that you may find similar is Orlane Be 21 featuring iris, heliotrope, white florals, peach, citrus and Chinese rhododenron on a woody-vanillic base.

(Image: Laura Biagiotti Laura ad, 1996 http://www.imagesdeparfums.fr/)

Colors, Numbers, Iris and Rainbows

I thought it was interesting to read that this year according to some churches is the Year of New Birth (last year, 2007, was the Year of Completion which apparently came with punishment for unbelievers--hmm...does that explain the newly reintroduced controversial Good Friday Latin Mass?). OK, this is actually more like numerology than religion to me, but I guess people of all walks of faith can get wrapped up into symbols and numbers, so anyway, here's the interesting part: the color scheme (yes, there are correlating colors) is rainbow.

Now, according to Pantone, the Color of the Year is Blue Iris. The two ideas don't really seem to connect until you read about Iris, the goddess whose roots go back to Greco-Roman times and even further back to Egypt and India (she is an Indo-European goddess, after all). Iris means rainbow.

Read about the iris-lily connection and the association with the Virgin Mary: History of Irises.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Nina Ricci Nina (original)

The original Nina by Nina Ricci (1987) is a very different scent from the Nina in the apple bottle. This other Nina was a dedication by Robert Ricci to his mother, made with the same aesthetic that created L'Air du Temps (1948): a soapy-sharp and simultaneously powdery, quiet fragrance. My review here is for parfum, but the EDT smells very close, just lighter. As the imagery suggests, Nina is an Aldehydic Floral, a powdery veil of scent comprised to my nose mostly of blackcurrant bud (cassis), iris and greens. I prefer it to L'Air du Temps because it's not as sharp, and it has some soft fruity notes that sweeten it a tad, giving the cool scent a somewhat warm and approachable appeal.

It's kind of an old-fashioned scent, but a beautiful composition made entirely from a neoclassical standpoint, a scent that obviously carries with it heavyweight classical tradition and a message for women to embrace a subdued character, the redefined femininity of the late '40s that began with L'Air du Temps and the New Look in fashion. There's nothing about Nina that really stands out, making it a bit hard to remember, but the whisper of scent it leaves on skin is elegant, tasteful, even a bit youthful yet very ladylike, or Madonna-like (I don't mean the singer, although it has a Like a Virgin vibe to it nonetheless) in its humble, understated effect. To the modern nose, it will smell soapy and like the '80s or before, maybe more like the '70s when green, mossy, quiet, powdery scents were more prevalent. It's discontinued, but if you come across it, it might be worth a sniff.

Nina Ricci Nina (1987)
Top: Bergamot, mimosa, cassia tree buds, basil, orange blossom, marigold.
Mid: Jasmine, mimosa, rose, violet, ylang-ylang.
Base: Iris, sandalwood, vetiver, cassis.

(Image: http://www.imagesdeparfums.fr/)

Yves Saint-Laurent Baby Doll

The name and concept of this popular Fruity Floral classic remain controversial, but the diamond-cut style bottle holding the pale pink fragrance is just about the prettiest thing I've ever seen. It has Barbie written all over it, but I don't think I could ever outgrow my attraction to pink. As for the scent, it's also a very pretty blend, predominantly of grapefruit and roses on a woody (and somewhat vanillic to my nose) base. The overall effect is actually more complex than it seems at first; the burst of tart citrus gets more floral and rich with wear. It's still a light fragrance on the whole, and maybe too aqueous for some, maybe too floral for some--it boldly walks the thin line between worlds. If you enjoyed YSL Paris, Baby Doll is a fresher, sportier, more summery and energetic take, but I think the two share similarities, mostly due to hearts of rose that give them that traditional, romantic vibe. Whereas Paris featured violets to accentuate the classical floral motif, Baby Doll features lively fruits such as rhubarb and red currant, with a hint of peach for a soft touch.

The notes according to Basenotes:
Yves Saint-Laurent Baby Doll (1999)
Top Notes: Grapefruit, Redcurrant, Rhubarb
Middle Notes: Rose, Freesia, Spices
Base Notes: Peach, Grenadine, Cedarwood

Many other sources list many more notes such as sandalwood, tonka, ginger, heliotrope and pineapple. It's definitely a more sophisticated blend than it seems, although the intense fruitiness can come across as being a simple, youthful scent. It's for lovers of the lighter, brighter side of life.

Thierry Mugler Angel Innocent

I find it a bit too ozonic to wear all the time, but it is a nice variation of Angel which I find heavy with patchouli and fruity gourmand notes. The original Angel was inspired by the smell of Christmas in Alsace--this version is a fluffy key lime pie-type of scent to me. While it's softer overall, the aforementioned ozonic, musky notes tend to overwhelm the whole composition for me, reminding me of laundry detergent scent. If you like ozonic scents as well as hypersweet gourmand, this is one of the few compositions that melded the two worlds extraordinarily well. One more thing I'll add is that it actually does smell like Angel, just softer.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Chanel N°5 - Iris and Woods

I had to revisit No.5 when I saw this ad and got mesmerized by the beautiful shade of pink--what a dress! I'm a total sucker for delicate pale pink chiffon, as feminine to me a ballet tutu. However, as programmed as we are to think of the oh-so-posh pink powder puff when we think of the powdery Aldehydic Floral Chanel No.5, I realize more and more that No.5 is a woody scent. Today, I realized that No.5 is also an iris perfume. Yes, the featured note backed by a patchouli base (and I can smell that patchouli stronger as time goes on, too) is Italian (Florentine) iris which rather overshadows the Grasse jasmine and May rose it's famous for. A side-by-side test with Frederic Malle Iris Poudre has proven to me how similarly dry and woodsy-powdery they are, except I find Iris Poudre spicier. Iris is symbolic this year. Is there anything more timely than the classic Chanel No.5 in that neoclassical bottle right now?

On a side note, I think it must be hard for a perfumista like Nicole Kidman to stick to one signature perfume like a Russian Bolshoi ballerina, so maybe Chanel can cut her some slack when she shows a little love for another scent now and then. We understand what it is to be a perfumista--besides, we know her favorite is No.5 (wink, wink).

Check out my other post on Chanel No.5: Chanel No.5 Revisited: Russian Leather Connection?

Hermès Amazone


The model in the ad might not actually be nude on bareback (I can make out a saddle and reins) but it's kind of hard to tell. Anyway, this is the vintage ad (I guess from the '70s) I referred to in my post about Calèche. Amazone perfume was created in 1974.

Jan Moran's notes are:
Hermes Amazone (1974 Floral - Fruity)
Top Notes: Lemon, orange, bergamot, peach, strawberry, grapefruit, tangerine, galbanum, black currant bud
Heart Notes: Daffodil, hyacinth, narcissus, black currant bud, iris, jasmine, raspberry, lily of the valley
Base Notes: Sandalwood, vetiver, cedarwood, neroli, ylang-ylang, oakmoss

This fragrance reminds me of Givenchy III crossed with Estée Lauder Estée (1968), with the smooth consistency of Givenchy Le De. It's a bit spicy but mostly a smooth, green floral scent with fruity accents, very close to Estée as it dries down to a mossy, incensey finish. I'd also compare it to Molinard de Molinard (M de Molinard) (1980) which has a soft, somewhat weedy incense base and white florals with soft, fruity accents. The dry down is a bit musty on me, so I won't be purchasing it, but I'm happy to test it today. The new bottle is pictured on the left (in the illustration with the white horse), and it's available on Hermes' site, only in eau de toilette.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Musk Xylene, Musk Ketone: The Dangers of Nitro Musks

"Of the few studies carried out, one has shown that long–term exposure to musk xylene causes cancer in mice." Read more about Synthetic Musk Fragrances (pdf).

"Though there is no available research on a link between musk ketone and cancer, animal studies indicate that a related nitromusk, musk xylene, may have carcinogenic properties (Maekawa 1990; Apostolidis 2002" Human Toxome Project, www.bodyburden.org

"Musk Ketone: A synthetic compound with a typical musk odor is widely used in cosmetics and is permitted as a food additive. Exposure to it, experiments in animals and with human cells indicate it might increase the susceptibility to health hazards caused by cancer causing agents in humans." You May Attract More Than the Opposite Sex With Musk by Ruth Winter, MS, Ingredient Blog

Stress Will Make You Sick, But Not Carcinogens?

What would you do if an industry person told you that tests done on mice which have proven to cause cancer are inconclusive, and that worrying about carcinogens will make you sick, but not the carcinogens themselves? Does this mean we should all do what we can to eat well, excercise and if we still get sick, we should accept that we willed it somehow by worrying too much? Good one, but I of course don't buy it. So, we should just accept that the cancer rate is rising along with other epidemics such as autism--just resign to that fact and don't blame chemical industries for toxins and heavy metals such as mercury in our environment, right?

Something stinks and it's not just the perfume I'm wearing.

Sampling Day 4

Here are some brief thoughts on the perfumes I've revisited this week:

Frederic Malle L'Eau d'Hiver: I like the opening but the amount of spice is a bit aggressive for me (reminds me of YSL Opium and Old Spice), especially for something that starts out seemingly mild and gentle. This is another smooth, consistent (most likely a salicylate-based) fragrance like Clinique Simply, Givenchy Le De, Nina Ricci L'Air du Temps, Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil, Chanel Cristalle. It's floral, aqueous (Marine), musky and lukewarm with sharp, spicy accents, and I detect a salty crab-like note (again, salicylate). Chandler Burr mentioned that crab note before I did, so I know I'm not alone. Jean-Claude Ellena is the perfumer (he's the nose for many Hermes and L'Artisan perfumes), and it's funny but I don't think I've ever liked any of his creations except L'Artisan Parfumeur Ambre Extreme. Many of his compositions seem very sharp and spicy, bold and punchy, like smelling vodka to me (Cartier Declaration, Bulgari Green Tea). Sometimes, they're powdery and punchy-sharp (Van Cleef First, Amouage Dia, Hermes Kelly Caleche) or musky, murky and plant-sap sticky, like Rose Ikebana which I can't wear at all. He's called the master of minimalism except I find his perfumes more traditional than modern (definitely not mod). Neo-classical is the more accurate description. This one is for musk and spice lovers.

Estee Lauder Private Collection: If this were spicier, it could have been a Jean Claude Ellena creation it's so strong. I debated whether to do a full review of this perfume or not, and opted to keep it brief. It's a beautiful albeit strong classic Chypre that's uniquely fresh and green, rather punchy and piercingly bold. I think it's made to smell best from afar because the sillage is huge. This is not sweet at all, and also smells very consistent from top to bottom. It's similar to Clinique Wrappings if you're familiar with it. It's the smell of the '70s: high-pitched, fresh and clean but bold and mossy-woody, very polished and upper crust (and worn by Grace Kelly according to Jan Moran's Fabulous fragrances book), but I want a little more softness in a scent than this can offer. It's the summer scent for Aromatics Elixir lovers.

Clinique Aromatics Elixir is quite a perfume, unique and unmistakable, with loyal fans. I loved Susan Levine's description of it in her book, The Perfume Guide, as the chilly ferny herbaceous forest smell (to paraphrase). I agree, except I also smell a warm and pungent patchouli base (like Jean Patou 1000, a musky "rich hippie" smell). It's an earthy scent and not a sweet one, and heavy (very), potent (very--one dab will do--I'd be afraid to spritz) and outspoken having a big rose heart (it's a bit traditional smelling, not what I'd call modern). Being the Chypre that it is, I believe people will either love it or find it extremely hard to take. The way I feel about it fluctuates between strong admiration to feeling overpowered by it. I respect it, and consider it a classic as much as Private Collection.

Christian Dior Dioressence: I don't know if I'll change my mind about it one day, as I have with various fragrances (I've seen the light with Mitsouko, although it's still a challenge to wear and a "mood scent"), but Dioressence is a big challenge. It's darkly green and very spicy (I guess I don't take to spicy Orientals on the whole--but I love Fumerie Turque--most others smell to me like Old Spice), sort of like YSL Opium or Estee Lauder Youth Dew to me. I have a hard time with very spicy fragrances particularly if there's not enough sweetness to balance them, and this one is an unsweet, leathery murky dark green, almost Chypre Spicy Oriental scent. I know this is a classic but it's not one I'd want to revisit too often. It smells like the 1950s, like Miss Dior only spicier.

Guerlain Iris Ganache: I saw chocolate as a listed note and got very excited, but I don't get chocolate in this. I get cold, raw, watery vegetation (Marine-aqueous notes), typical of many iris scents, especially the more recent creations, and face powder. Do people who like Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige and Estee Lauder Pleasures like this one? It's one of the first Guerlain perfumes I've smelled that didn't have enough sweetness for me, and yet seemed cloying. It was fun to test (I got my sample from Fishbone96) but I can't really wear it to enjoy it. I find it sharp and boring. (Edited) I smell the chocolate this time, and it reminds me of Comptoir Sud Pacifique Amour de Cacao, a powdery cocoa smell (Fred calls this "chocolate donut") but unsweet. Lovers of Annick Goutal Eau de Charlotte should try it.

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Vocalise: The name alone should have made me a fan but I can't wear flowery floral bouquets like this one. I think it smells like Crown Tanglewood Bouquet, it's so full blown flowery on dry down, and kind of a thick, musky, sticky-sweet smell. The opening is a powdery white musk with berry notes--not too bad, but it morphs into this fussy, old-fashioned floral, and I don't mean it smells like a great classic -- I just can't wear it. In this line, I like Eau de Camelia Chinois, a green scent with blackcurrant bud (cassis) notes, which I can't wear, either.

Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Iris Blue Gris: I know this is the year of the iris or something like that (there are references to the iris everywhere) but it's another sharp iris floral, which means to me a watery vegetation smell like Estee Lauder Pleasures, but this one has spiciness...I think. It's hard to remember because it bored me silly. Oh, yes, it is spicy--in the vein of Guerlain Eau de Guerlain, Caron Alpona, Caswell Massey Number Six. It's almost like a spicy citrus splash except it has that rooty smell.

I won't even bother with brief reviews of scents that smelled so chemical, they smelled like shoe polish. Is it me, or has the perfume business been turning out some strange smells lately?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tekserve's Second Annual Electronic Recycling Event

Tekserve's Second Annual Electronic Recycling Event
The Lower East Side Ecology Center is joining us again this year for our second annual electronics recycling drive, where New York City area residents can properly recycle their electronic waste free of charge. Last year, the event collected thousands of pounds of old electronics, which can contain hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury. You can drop off your eWaste on April 26th and 27th from 10am-4pm and April 28th from 4pm-7pm.

To celebrate the event, anyone bringing electronics to recycle can enter a raffle to win a MacBook Air or one of three 16GB iPod touches. All participants in the event will also receive a $25 coupon towards a new computer purchase. http://www.tekserve.com/about/recycling.html

Recycle Your Old Computer or iPod
Tekserve and The Lower East Side Ecology Center are co-sponsoring an electronic recycling drive. New York City area residents can properly recycle their electronic waste free of charge on Saturday and Sunday, April 26th & 27th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Monday, April 28th from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The collection point will be at 119 West 23rd Street in front of our store.

We are happy to say that last year, the event collected thousands of pounds of old electronics which can contain hazardous materials such as lead, cadmium and mercury and were safely recycled and disposed of.

To celebrate the event, anyone bringing electronics to be recycled can register at Tekserve for a raffle to win a MacBook Air or one of three 16GB iPod touches. All participants in the event will also receive a $25 discount on a new computer purchased within 30 days after the event.

Acceptable items for recycling include: computers, monitors, fax machines, copiers, DVD or VCR players, radios, telephones, cell phones, televisions, cameras and stereo equipment. Sorry we cannot accept the following items for recycling: Home appliances - including microwaves, stoves, refrigerators and air conditioners.

Other ways to recycle or donate your electronics throughout the year:
iPod Recycling
Recycle your Old iPod at Tekserve for 10% off a New iPod
Bring your old iPod into Tekserve - in working condition or not - for free environmentally friendly disposal and we will offer you a 10% discount on a new iPod purchased at the same time. iPods received for recycling are processed domestically and no hazardous material is shipped overseas.

Computer Recycling
Tekserve will accept your old computer and recycle it for you if you are purchasing a new computer from us. Otherwise, there are drop-off points around the city, places that will accept a donation of your old computer and also periodic recycling day events. Tekserve always accepts used Apple batteries for recycling at no charge.

Where can I properly recycle my old computer?
Tekserve supports the efforts of the Lower East Side Ecology Center which runs regular e-waste collection events. LESEC has begun a partnership with Build It Green NYC (BIG), located at 3-17 26th Ave, Astoria, Queens, which is open Tuesday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-5, and will accept unwanted electronics. The NYC Department of Sanitation also works to recycle e-waste.

Why shouldn't I just put my old computer in the trash?
Here's a good article from the National Resources Defense Council explaining the issues. The Basel Action Network has lots more information about the the global problems of e-waste.

Where can I donate my old computer?
Nearly any group accepting donations wants working computers, not junk. Many insist on fairly recent units that will get people smoothly onto the Internet. A few to try are:

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Say No to Nuclear Energy!

The U.S. voice of the world's largest network of environmental groups, Friends of the Earth, says:

Help us fight new nukes in the U.S.
"For the first time in decades, the nuclear power industry is considering building new nuclear reactors in the United States. They claim that nuclear power is a solution to global warming, but that’s just not true. Indeed, nuclear power costs too much, takes too long, and is too risky when better alternatives are available.

"Private markets won't provide the funds for new reactor construction because nuclear power is too expensive and financially risky, so the industry is working to get taxpayers to foot the bill through a loan guarantee program that its allies in Congress are trying to insert into various pieces of legislation. Industry executives have admitted that without these loan guarantees, there will be no more nukes. Friends of the Earth is fighting to keep these loan guarantees out legislation. Will you join us?"

Link to: Don't Buy the Nuclear Lie at Friends of the Earth, U.S.

Nuclear Power is dangerous and expensive because:

Security threats
Power stations could be terrorist targets.
Toxic waste
Pollutes environment. Waste needs careful management for generations.
Global proliferation
Availability of deadly materials increased.
Friends of the Earth research has shown we don't need nuclear reactors to stop climate change.

There is a safer, cheaper and cleaner solution to the problem of climate change - green energy.

Frank van Schaik, nuclear energy campaigner at Friends of the EarthEurope, said:
"Nuclear power is not the solution to the problems of climate change and energy security. Nuclear power remains the most dangerous form of energy. An accident like the 1986 explosion of the reactor in Chernobyl in the Ukraine could happen every day. And the question of what to do with highly radioactive waste remains unsolved. We can secure the supply of energy ten times cheaper through investing in energy savings instead of new nuclear power. On a level playing field, nuclear power is economically insane." Read more here: Nuclear power can't save the climate according to Friends of the Earth

Read about safe Green Energy and if you're in Europe, find out what you can do by linking to: Friends of the Earth UK.

Happy Earth Day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Cultural Vandalism: Cropwatch VS. IFRA

While I am not an all organics and naturals perfumer and don't believe the technology of modern perfumery is dangerous, I also don't believe it's right for the industry to sell the notion that chemicals are somehow safer for us than natural essences which have been used in perfumery for centuries. Just as modern medicine and pharmaceutical companies shouldn't try to eradicate and undermine the role of alternative and holistic medicine, we should respect natural aromas and the benefits of natural perfumery and aromatherapy and not try to eradicate them from sale and use by perfumers and consimers who can learn how to use them as responsibly as we would any other legal substance. It is imperative we the consumers are given the choices to decide what to buy, to put in and on our bodies without the industry at large dictating these choices for us. All I ask is that we be given the choice to illuminate ourselves with the truth on both sides of this controversial issue. Visit A Natural Perfumers Guild blog: "The Natural Perfumers Guild joins Cropwatch in condemning IFRA's "Cultural Vandalism" to follow links to read: Citrus Ingredients Turn Sour: IFRA Takes the Pith!, an opinion by Tony Burfield of Cropwatch. You can also visit Cropwatch by linking here.

Read more: Interest group contends IFRA position on citrus oils by Simon Pitman, 27-Mar-2008, Nutraingredients.com

On the same site: Toxicity of essential oils questioned by Cropwatch by Katie Bird, 03-Aug-2007

Visit Basenotes to read Guest Columnist Tony Burfield: Perfumers and the 40th IFRA Amendment, 23 February 2007

Allure-ing, Not

This May 2008 issue of Allure magazine, while it has some beautiful makeup and fashions in it, and most of the naked series, within context, was tastefully done, looks like a 1950s pin-up collection for GIs, and in fact, there's a photo of a stripper in front of GIs, with a caption saying something about an "elegant" strip tease and great creamy skin, bringing to my attention that perhaps sleaze is the new class. That shot wasn't necessary for the issue to portray beautiful women of many different ethnicities as I'm sure you tried to do. I'm bombarded with enough objectification of our bodies without it coming from women's magazines. Furthermore, I can't stand the cheap lolli-flicking tongue shot. I also despise the eye makeup that looks like the model has a black eye. It doesn't make her look tough and dangerous as the caption reads, but like she's in a dangerous situation. Please do better than this for young women and all women, Allure. It saddens me to see such degrading and abusive images, no matter how artistic you deem them to be. You might as well call pornography "art"--or is this the direction you're taking now? This may well be the last issue of Allure I'll buy.

Visit AgainstPornography.org

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Paco Rabanne Eau de Calandre

I couldn't find images of Paco Rabanne Eau de Calandre (created in 1969 by Michael Hy as was Calandre in the same year), so I've posted some of my favorite images of Calandre (edited: I found one, so I've added the image below). Wow, I think Eau de Calandre is closest to being my signature. It's a sharply green, yet softly mossy Aldehydic Floral with that definitive retro late '60s-70s vibe, but the base is so soft and green, and the scent just sparkles on me. It's the simplest of this type of scent I've come across. It's minimalist but not sporty in the least, and woodsy-mossy but very urban. I'd still be happy buying the newer version of Calandre, but I'm really in love with Eau de Calandre. From one of my first loves, Eau de Metal to Chanel No.19, Creed Spring Flower and now discovering this scent which is actually the older of the two Paco Rabanne creations, I feel right now like my perfume journey has come almost to a full circle. There's always more to discover, but this perfume feels like "me". (Edited to add) I smell quite a bit of jasmine in this, which would explain why I adore it so much. I'm getting shades of Rich Hippie Spring--nice to smell quality natural ingredients in these vintage beauties, and sad to think such quality is no longer preserved in the new reformulations. The bottle by Pierre Dinand is also my favorite bottle design.

(Image: Eau de Calandre, Perfumeland.com)

Mary Quant Havoc

I've been fascinated lately with Guy Robert creations such as Hermes Caleche, Amouage Gold and Madame Rochas, three variations of scent built on the same theme, so when the opportunity came to sample the discontinued Havoc, I was deliriously happy. I was so curious to see if it was similar to those scents, and because it's so hard to find, I was sure I'd never have another chance. I agree with Marian Bendeth of Sixth Scents who'd said that it's only a matter of time before the supply of vintage fragrances will dwindle while the demand will only go up, and vintage perfume will be the next big commodity. When people buy vintage perfumes, it's not always for the sake of curiosity or to own something expensive or even artistically worthy--it's to preserve a memory, to trace the course of her-story and to relive a moment in time--real life important stuff to people, reasons we should respect because they are so personal. As for me, I didn't want to miss the boat and live with questions about what this popular fragrance by the iconic mod '60s designer, Mary Quant, smelled like. I absolutely love Mary Quant's style, and had a feeling her fragrance would smell like the era her designs came out of.

Mary Quant Havoc, launched in Great Britain in 1974, indeed smells like Caleche, Madame Rochas and Amouage Gold: a green, Aldehydic-Chypre, a soapy, powdery-mossy fragrance, typical of its time. However, Havoc is different from the three in its aqueous (marine) Floral element. Maybe this is a newer rendition of Havoc, made in the 80s or after. I could smell something akin to Creed Love In White or Agent Provocateur in it, a watery floral note that starts out plasticky, chemical and unpleasant, but it dries down like a with a fresh-fruity floral sweetness, pretty and light. Havoc is sweeter and more floral than the other Guy Robert creations and others like them such as Caron Infini, Estee Lauder White Linen, YSL Rive Gauche, Trigere Liquid Chic, Cie. The light floralcy of it is closer to Chanel No.19, but Havoc has a more pronounced skin cream note, maybe closest to Paco Rabanne Calandre and Floris Florissa. The modern floralcy doesn't overshadow but co-features the vintage soapy-mossy scent. Anyone who thought the other Guy Robert Aldehydic Chypres were too severe, Havoc is perhaps a slightly sporty and youthful version of Caleche. Even if the quality is lacking compared to the other Guy Robert fragrances, it's a nice fragrance, effervescently retro green, chic but youthful with no austere, heavy woodsy dry down and instead, happy spring flowers right in the heart where I want it to feel full. Won't someone please bring Havoc back?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, April 19, 1943

It really wasn't so long ago that the atrocity of The Holocaust was allowed to occur. Please join me in remembrance and visit the site at the link below:

65 years to Never Forget - Passover 1943 and 2008

"Bad things happen when good people do nothing." --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre

This fragrance took some getting used to. I thought it was entirely too spicy, powdery, bottom-heavy and woodsy, a dry Aldehydic Floral in the vein of Jean Patou L'Heure Attendue and Lady Stetson. However, I realized recently that Iris Poudre creates the most astoundingly beautiful sillage I've ever known. This is one to be smelled from a distance wafting like creamy silk emanating from skin. It has the softness and refinement of Chanel No.5, only in a much drier, spicier context. If I could cross No.5 with Laura Biagiotti Venezia (which, by the way, is not an Italian brand despite its name but Made in Germany), and yet again bring it to the high quality realm of a Frédéric Malle creation to stand alongside Une Fleur de Cassie (there's a coarse floralcy that resembles this fragrance), it might explain Iris Poudre, and yet, no words could suffice.

Let's talk about iris (by the way, the 2008 Pantone Color of the Year is Blue Iris, so Iris Poudre is a timely choice). Iris being the theme of Iris Poudre, I feel it's a victorious, vibrant (and literally vibrating to me--is it the musk or the ambery-woody base?) joie de vivre type of scent, bringing to mind the fleur-de-lis, perhaps also of Rochas Byzance for a fleeting moment, and the post-war classic, Guerlain Mitsouko (1919) in its spicy complexity. Spiky yet powdery, with an aqueous-vegetal overtone (like the smell of carrots or celery pulled out of the dirt), Iris Poudre smells sumptuously retro-glamorous, yet earthy and natural, altogether electrifyingly modern and chic. Most of all, Iris Poudre is the kind of scent I'd say is more than the sum of its parts. Aldehydes, heavy woods and jagged spice to me can be off-puttingly aggressive, slightly traditionally masculine in effect, or too conventionally retro like a lead-weight 1950s perfume, but Iris Poudre has something called delicacy that the art of wearing perfume was made for; first and foremost, we ought to choose a perfume that doesn't end in lofty ideals and theory but one that smells good when worn.

I'm also reminded that I used to wear Paco Rabanne Eau de Metal until I could find it no more, and loved its Aldehydic-powdery, light, fresh rosewood-iris scent. Iris Poudre is a more sophisticated, maybe more extroverted, version of a similar theme for me.

Between Iris Poudre, Une Fleur de Cassie and the heady, passionate Carnal Flower, I don't know which I would call my favorite in the illustrious Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle line, but Iris Poudre is up there and someday, I may want a bottle.

Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Iris Poudre (2000, Aldehydic Floral)

Notes on Now Smell This: bergamot, rosewood, ylang ylang, carnation, magnolia, jasmine, lily of the valley, violet, rose, aldehydes, iris, musk, amber, vanilla, sandalwood, and ebony

(Image: ¡Ombligo! blog)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy Passover!

Wishing a Happy Pesach to all our friends and families who celebrate. First Seder - Night of Saturday, April 19 First Day - Sunday April 20

Music and art of Aaron Philips and The Incurable Allure of Carrots

(Image: The Incurable Allure of Carrots blog)

Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town" Featuring Sali Oguri #1 In Electronic - Trance On Broadjam

Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town" featuring Sali Oguri on vocals is back at #1 on the Electronic - Trance Top 10 Chart on Broadjam!

Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town" featuring Sali Oguri has re-entered the Regional - New York Top 10 chart!

Click on the
Photobucket - Video and Image Hostinglogo to check the current standings in Trance.

More songs featuring Sali on vocals are holding the #1 spot on Broadjam's top 10 Charts:
Fred Kimmel "No Need To Reply" (featuring Sali Oguri) - #1 in Electronic - Dance
Fred Kimmel "Jazz Bad" (featuring Sali Oguri) - #1 in Electronic - Drum N' Bass

Click on Sali and visit WUJ Productions! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

(Photo by David Vassilev)

Fred Kimmel (Featuring Sali Oguri) Returns at #1 On Broadjam's Dance, Drum N' Bass

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Rock Electronica & Soundtrack Producer-Artist Fred Kimmel's Drum 'N Bass classic "Jazz Bad" featuring Sali's scat is #1 again in the Electronic - Drum 'N Bass Top 10!

Fred Kimmel "No Need to Reply" featuring Sali Oguri on vocals is back in the #1 position on the Electronic - Dance Top 10 Chart on Broadjam!

Click on the
Photobucket - Video and Image Hostinglogo to check the current standings in Drum N' Bass.

Click on Sali
Photobucket - Video and Image Hostingto check the current standings in Dance.

Congratulations to Fred Kimmel who's all over the Regional Top 10 charts today:
Fred Kimmel "Believe" - #3 in New York (#4 in the Northeast Top 10)
Fred Kimmel "No Need To Reply" (featuring Sali Oguri) - #7 in New York
Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town" (featuring Sali Oguri) - #10 in New York (#1 in Electronic - Trance)

"No Need To Reply" and more WUJ songs are available for purchase on Broadjam. Click here, then go to SONGS on left side panel.

Click on the banner and visit WUJ Productions! Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thank you for your continued support. Peace and Love, and wishing you a Happy Passover - from all of us at WUJ.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Les Nez L'Antimatière

L'Antimatière by Les Nez is described as a perfume without top notes, which is almost like saying it's a fragrance composition without a "hook" (because they say most people can smell only top notes when they smell a perfume, and therefore decide on a perfume purchase based solely on the smell of those top notes which evaporate quickest). So, would that make L'Antimatière a badly written song or just a groove without a melody? Actually, it's a brilliant perfume and it has a hook, but a different type of hook than the ones we're familiar with. The hook is the unique concept of a perfume that some people are anosmic to--yes, a perfume some people can't even smell--thus, the name L'Antimatière, meaning anti-matter, fits.

Some people are anosmic to certain types of musk--this much, I know. So, my first guess as to what the notes are (they aren't listed on the Les Nez website) starts with musk. This is not a heavy, musky scent per se, since its scent (to me, anyway) is very faint; however, there is a deep, penetrating, slightly gustative sweet base note accompanied by wintergreen (salicylate) and hawthorn, something sharp and spicy, and some muted soft fruit and floral heart notes hovering in space that I can pick up. It's a little like Kenzo Flower--maybe closest to it. Some sites mention ambergris, and I think that would account for the faintly animalic aspect of the scent. However, I get, especially on dry down, moss. Is it oakmoss, tree moss or a headspace mossy note used in modern Aldehydic Chypre Florals such as Paco Rabanne Calandre (especially the newer version that's musky-powdery sweet, slightly floral, lily-like and sharp) and Yves-Saint Laurent Rive Gauche? These are the familiar perfumes, as well as the mossy part of Guerlain Mitsouko, that I'm reminded of. I'm not even sure it's moss I smell but the impression I get is that of a mossy fragrance. It could be pure ozone for all I know.

Woodsy mossiness is something I'm just now getting accustomed to wearing. I used to find it dirty-smelling and bothersome, which is why I'd described L'Antimatière once on a forum as smelling of a dirty scarf that's been worn without washing for a month. There is something about L'Antimatière to me that smells like the dry down overload of many different perfumes, the base notes in particular, building up on fabric over time, like the smell that can't be washed out and can only permeate other scents that are applied on top of it, a fragrance cacophany (this is why I don't put perfumes on clothes). However, L'Antimatière proves a masterful composition and makes even this impression of the mishmash-in-fabric smell a work of art. Somehow, the cacophany begs to be worn again, like reliving the memories of how the smell got to be what it is, like wanting to trace its footsteps, figuring out just what on earth is really in here, and counting just how many lovers it has known.

If it's not moss in here, I apologize for my faulty nose. I can only go by my lasting impression, and this perfume says this is the skin scent of a wood nymph in the forest, not too long after the sun has dried up all the rain. The subtly delicious, cool and prickly yet soft and sweet sensation I find in it is elegant, interesting and simply outstanding. It is a very, very delicate blend built with heavy notes--an original concept of fine fragrance, experimental art and sculptural art that translates well into the real world of wearable scent. If you're one of the people who can't smell it, I say go for Kenzo Flower. I'm not sure I'd buy L'Antimatiere because it disappears so fast...into anti-matter.

(Image: www.lesnez.com, sculpture bottle "On the Wind" by Gillian White (9 x 8 x 8 cm) In wooden box • Numbered 1 - 120)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shiseido Féminité du Bois

I have not read the new book by Luca Turin and Tania Sanchez called Perfumes: The Guide, but here on their preview site, it's stated that Féminité du Bois (1992, Chris Sheldrake and Pierre Bourdon) was modeled after Caron Parfum Sacré (Jean-Pierre Béthouard) which was modeled after Chanel Bois des Iles (Ernest Beaux), and that subsequently, the Serge Lutens Bois series and Christian Dior Dolce Vita (Pierre Bourdon and Maurice Rogers) were based on the same fruity woods accord originally created by perfumer Pierre Bourdon (correction: Pierre Bourdon is not credited for the creation of Bois des Iles). I also thought it was an interesting point, that what launched Chris Sheldrake's career was his use of the overdose of woods, which mirrors what I've read in Michael Edwards' Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances, about the overdose of ingredients in Joy, Shalimar and Chanel No.5, and virtually all great perfumes all the way up to Angel that made them great. However, I do have one major reservation about giving anyone the crown when it comes to being the technological pioneer of overdose technique. You see, I know Chanel No.5 is called the first Aldehydic Floral (no doubt because of the use of overdose of aldehydes), but I still wonder what to make of Caron Infini, an Aldehydic Floral created by Ernest Daltroff in 1912 (before the reformulation in 1970), 9 years before No.5, and also of Armingeat Reve D'Or (Golden Dream) created in 1905 which, according to the British Society of Perfumers, was the first Aldehydic Floral.

The Challenge of Creativity
A lecture given to the Society by Mr. Bernard Chant on November 11th 1982

"Though Chanel No. 5 is recognized as the first Aldehydic fragrance, created in the mid-twenties, the truth is that the first Aldehydic fragrance was Reve D'Or, or Golden Dream, created in 1905 by Armingeat."

After all, Infini and Reve d'Or would only be classified as Aldehydic Florals if they had the overdose of aldehydes to make them smell as such. What is it that gives Chanel more credibility than Caron and Armingeat? Perhaps I should ask why Pierre Bourdon is credited not only for his creation of this fruity woods accord but also for propagating the technique of overdosing an ingredient in a scent. Had this never been done before by anyone else before the creation of this fruity wood note? I think Luca Turin's narrative helps to create the story of patriarchal perfume lineage passed down from man to man, or real men to real men, from Bourdon to Sheldrake, but to say Bourdon propagated the technique is more romantic prose than historical accuracy. It's like saying jazz was handed down from Armstrong to Hancock, propagated by Charlie Parker (sort of--I'm not saying these perfumers are the equivalent of musical giants), and I know men who think like this but it's grossly generalized and inaccurate. It can be argued that Houbigant Quelques Fleurs (1912) was an overdose of floral notes, too, but the overdose of flowers doesn't make for the most "manly" conversation.

Shiseido Féminité du Bois is, of course, a woody Oriental. The notes are listed as cedar all the way through from top to bottom by many sources. Whether it's really cedar or a technological breakthrough accord I'm smelling, I get the same strong woody, dry, aggressive base in all of the Serge Lutens Bois scents and in Christian Dior Dolce Vita, but Féminité du Bois smells like the master, the vanilla version, and the unembellished simplicity of it is most elegant to me. As a side note, Chanel Bois des Iles is to me like the Aldehydic Floral Chanel No.5 only woodier, although it doesn't register as a particularly overdosed woods scent any more than Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie (1870) does, and I really don't think Caron Parfum Sacré smells like any of the Bois scents by Bourdon/ Sheldrake, and certainly not like Caron took the idea from Chanel Bois des Iles.

(Edited to add: I couldn't remember before, but now I know who Pierre Bourdon is: He composed Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, the spicy iris-woody scent I've grown to love. He's also credited for creating Davidoff Cool Water for Men.)

(Inage: www.shiseido.co.jp)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Don't Get Me Started...

There are so many things in the last issue of Allure magazine that bug me, it's not funny. First of all, this myth that women in their 30s are too over-the-hill for miniskirts is absurd. If you have the body to wear it, by all means, wear it! 30s are young! They're just trying to sell more botox and skin cream. Also, what's with "leave them (miniskirts) for young girls in their 20s"? Are WOMEN in their 20s now young girls, like they're 10-year-olds? I guess nothing these girls say should make a mark on the world just yet, till they grow up to be adults, you know, like their male counterparts who are respectable men by the time they're 18.

Another thing: High-pitched fragrances should not be equated with dumb women. This is sexist, as bad as blonde jokes, because women happen to have naturally high voices--at least many of us do. I once worked with a TV director who loved it when I had a cold, because my voice would deepen to a contralto. She'd tell me to sound that way more often, because it made me sound more intelligent. I think she practiced having a low voice (straining can permanently damage your voice, btw). This is what happens when style gets out of hand and becomes stereotype. Allure, get real. We don't have to act like men to be taken seriously anymore. Stop the time warp!

Yves Saint-Laurent Rive Gauche

If you love the very mossy Hermes Caleche (1961), you might also love Yves Saint-Laurent Rive Gauche (1971), except Rive Gauche smells less bitter, less dirty (pungently woody in the base) and less harshly astringent--to me, just nicer overall. However, it's still a mossy scent, no denying it. People say it smells frosty, and it certainly is powdery being Aldehydic Floral, typical of perfumes of its time, but the featured note is the kind of in-your-face blast of oakmoss you'll find in Paco Rabanne Calandre--in fact, it's made by the same nose (Michael Hy with Jacques Polge). To me, it smells more like a damp leafy forest after the rain rather than a snowy or icy landscape. What's in a name? Wikipedia entry reads: "In 1966 Yves Saint-Laurent launched a ready-to-wear line by the name Rive Gauche. The collection was an attempt to democratize fashion, introducing elements of garments of the lower classes into high fashion." Of course, stealing ideas from others who are creative in the ways they dress, and mocking a certain class of people while capitalizing on their ideas isn't gauche at all. Ya gotta love fashion. I love this bottle design, though.

The vintage version smells much softer and more floral for lack of a better description. The new version smells much punchier, a bit insensitive in feeling and lacking evolution, typical of newly reformulated and modernized creations. It's still a nice scent, but as someone who loved Rive Gauche for many years has told me, the new one is just a shadow of what it used to be.

(Yves Saint-Laurent 1993 & 1989 ads, http://www.imagesdeparfums.fr/ )

Caron Montaigne

Caron's reformulations of their older perfumes are some of the best I've ever smelled. They're far superior to reformulations by Guerlain, Chanel and Balmain. Caron Boutique had generously sent me some lovely extras with my last purchase, and one of the samples I received was the new Montaigne, an addition to their contemporary collection. I already loved the older formula which I've owned in both parfum and EDT, but the new version is very true to its original form. At first, it smells a bit different from the original, perhaps a bit more modernized, but after 30 seconds, it's the same sumptuous, heady and full-bodied beauty I know so well. How did they do it, without making the modernized version smell flat and tinny? They must be using the finest ingredients to make this Caron aficionada happy. I've compared this perfume to Boucheron before because of the spicy-ambery-woody white floral character, but Montaigne is in a league of its own. I'm glad to see it return, and I hope more people will have a chance to know what a bombshell Fruity Floral smells like. Actually, although it's been categorized as Fruity Floral in the past, Caron now lists it as Floral Oriental. It's not anything like the Fruity Florals you many know--this is more like a rich, classic Caron with a sweet white floral heart and a subtle, golden mandarin orange touch, very deep, warmly ambery and wooded for a refined, powdery finish.

Caron Montaigne (1986, Floral Oriental)

From Parfumscaron.com:
A floral oriental which releases a burst of golden hued flowers, mingling with woods and exotic balms. Jasmin and mimosa coming together in the most delicate of fashions, to intertwine with Sandlewood and Mysore.

Notes on Now Smell this:
jasmine, bitter orange, coriander, mandarin, daffodil, mimosa, cassie, sandalwood, benzoin and vanilla.

(Image: parfumscaron.com)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sampling Day 3

If these reviews sound jaded, it's because I feel like the art of Noh has been taken over by men to exclude all women from the art which is now a Fine Art because men have taken over. Perfumes used to smell nice to fit female tastes. Nowadays, if they doesn't smell like perfumes men who don't wear them but only grade them approve of, they stink. Critics are the new "artists", and the creative people are the subservient fools. Pretty soon, we'll be defining which region a perfume should come from, and I guess the rest of the world can give up on making anything. Well, Hillary Clinton has pointed out that a country can't be strong if it doesn't make anything, and I agree. Despite current trend to cut down the efforts of the creative, all creative people should continue to follow their own inspirations and create, produce, never let the establishment kill your passion and drive. I write in hopes to encourage my peers, and all who see a better future for the growth of the Arts, to not cheapen Art to the superficiality of fashion which does not understand Art's true value. Art should bring us together, not drive us apart. Fashion is S&M. Art is not a contest but a show of love for all creativity. It makes us better because it nurtures creativity--nurturing is in itself a creative act.

Furthermore, critics should refrain from using musical descriptions if they have no understanding of music to begin with--obvious to this musician and painful from the standpoint of one who wants to see music return as part of basic education.

Here are my unminced words on some perfume community favorites.

Hermes Osmanthe Yunnan: A dear perfpal sent me a generous decant of this fragrance. I like it a lot; it's sort of a low-pitched, bottom-heavy version of Marc Jacobs Blush to me. Crisply floral with a muted fruit and tea note (it could be a Jean Patou 1000, Rochas Femme or YSL Y cousin), it's a concentrated scent that smells more like a single note tea than a blend overall. It's simple and pretty, but I resonate better with the more delicate, soprano Blush (PS: high-pitched doesn't automatically equate with ditzy or vapid--that would seem sexist, no?). It's a very consistant floral, ostinato from start to finish (like Le De--salicylates, perhaps?). I'm hearing Steps Ahead "All the Tea In China" with this one (not literally...just for now, as I'm writing about it and it helps to be descriptive).

Montale Aoud Rose Petals: I fell in love with oud through this fragrance. It's the most potent eau de parfum I've ever smelled. One tiny *dot* of this scent from my sample vial had filled the air with its dry, heavy, but somehow cooling resinous and wooded scent (a bit incensey like myrrh) in combination with a lively, fresh rose (a bit aqueous, like Stella or one of the Rosines). I bought some and stopped wearing it when Fred told me I smelled like Right Guard deodorant. I still think it's fabulous, though--an outspoken beauty of rose oud made for Middle Eastern goddesses, at least in my mind.

Cabochard: This must be the epitome of a 1950s woody leather Chypre. It's death by leather to me--way too potent, aggressive, heavy and dry, as well as tacky (literally smells resinous and sticky, very "nechi nechi" to describe in Japanese). This must be Estee Lauder Knowing's grandmother. Cabochard is a great classic French perfume, everything any perfume expert wouldn't rave about in terms of craftsmanship. You might want to buy a bottle for that reason alone; then again, you might love this scent if you're also a fan of Knowing or Halston. (Edited to add) Maybe my last sample was off because this vintage mini parfum I just got smells dry, not so tacky but still animalic like rawhide or a "men's belt". It also has a rich floral heart like Yves Saint-Laurent Y which I also can't wear.

Knowing: I have never liked this perfume. It's everything I dislike in a scent: heavy, unsweet, perfumy, Chypre Floral-Animalic that's as loud as White Diamonds, only darker and more cryptic, a contrived and boring blast of scent from beginning to end. It comes across just as ultraconservative as Cabochard which to me smells more like it was made for a man than a woman, and for women who care not about their own taste but only to please those of particularly powerhungry and controlling men. If you despise softness and light, and would rather side with Cinderella's materialistic stepmother than with Cinderella, this is for you.

Caleche: Tightly wound hair in a bun, a sourpuss full of contempt for anything that doesn't fit in. This is what happens to beautiful, soulful perfumes like Amouage Gold when bullied too much by a commmunity of aggressively critical snobs that want to destroy them for their naivete and dreams. Caleche is all grown up and properly dead inside; she's resigned, she belongs, she's dedicated to self sacrifice and refinement. She's obedient to society's rules and will dare not voice unpopular opinions; she's cultivated what she considers to be her cultured sense of humor (actually, she has none), with which she quips elitist jokes about less sophisticated women and reminds herself of how far she'd come. In her pride, she finds meaning in life without happiness or pleasure (unless that pleasure is oakmoss which she has in abundance; oakmoss is properly unsweet and doesn't scream for attention). Could I blame Caleche's bitterness on the time period she comes out of (1961)?

Midnight Poison: Ya gotta be kidding me. It's like pure eucalyptus.

Sampling Day 2

Very few fragrances move me these days. Here are some more I tried this week:

Lalique Le Parfum (new): I think the original version is much nicer. It's a powdery Fruity Floral Oriental, sort of like Creed Love In White and Chanel Allure Sensuelle, maybe a bit like Cartier Delices but faint, with the Love In White note I never cared for (reminds me of Birmane).

Missoni: Tried it again and decided I don't like melon with my chocolate at all.

Roxy: Not bad...not too sweet, candy-powdery, fresh. I liked it at first, but it turned out too aqueous-cool and sporty for me.

L'Air du Desert Marocain by Andy Tauer: This was the best of the bunch, spicy powdery and well made. I can't wear it because it smells like Bal a Versailles light, and I don't like Bal a Versailles, but I appreciate the quality of this. Le Maroc is a powdery mess on me--my bad chemistry.

Serge Lutens Bois de Violette: I know I should love it because it's great quality but it smells too harshly woody and sharp to me. If I loved bottom-heavy, aggressive woody scents, I'd wear it, but I think it would make a more stunning room scent.

Serge Lutens Louve: I want to love this, too, but this is a very heavy musk to me, like a cross between Muscs Kublai Khan and Rahat Loukoum. It's powdery, rosy and penetratingly deep; it reminds me of Caswell Massey White Rose but heavier, almost Kiehl's Musk strength.

Yohji Yamamoto: Interesting fragrance but too spicy for me. It smells like the spices jump out at me and poke me up the nose.

Bond Chinatown: Retrying it: It's hard not to like tuberose even with dry, flat, men's cologne-y woods. It smells like Victoria's Secret Secret 33 if anyone remembers it.

Bond Silver Factory: Oh, wait--I like this one, too. It must be incense because it seems I like anything incensey warm and soft, sweet and spicy right now, and this fits the bill. I can't remember it too well, though. Will try again.

Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil: It's very smooth and consistant, like Le De with mango. Imagine Chanel Cristalle but more floral, vegetal and milky all at once. I just don't like it but I understand this is also very well made.

Clinique Simply: It's like the above with cool, aqueous melon. Same perfumer or just the same head?

I don't know why, but I feel like we're reaching the tail end of an era in fragrancespeak. Maybe I'm all smelled out. I may take a break from perfume blogging soon.

Neurotoxins In Perfume

Biophysicist Luca Turin has mentioned a particular synthetic musk ambrette having been banned from use in perfumes ever since it was declared a neurotoxin. My question is: In which perfumes had this musk ambrette been used, and have they all been pulled from the market? If only 90% of children's vaccines containing the mercury-derived thimerosal have been pulled from the market, and coal tar-derived Red No.3 artificial coloring had been quietly discontinued and exchanged for Red No.40, I can't imagine all of the perfumes containing this substance is gone from our stores, and certainly not from our homes. Many of us are collectors or perfume writers; we buy and test vintage perfumes that might contain this neurotoxin. Children might have access to these substances in our homes. There should be information posted on the fragrance.org site or someplace where we can check periodically for the names of perfumes that contain any neurotoxins, and any such perfumes should have been recalled if they posed a hazard to public health.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier

Despite the image, it's not exactly a scent I'd associate with "Rock music" unless it's the Lindsay Lohan or Ali & AJ kind, but it's not bad for a mainstream Fruity Floral. It's very fruity and candy sweet, very Escada-like, but less sweet than, say, Valentino Rock 'n Rose, and very similar to Kelly Price Stunning by Jordan which is hard to get here in the US. Basically, it's more strawberries than rose but a lot of both, and it has a freshness that makes me think of apples.

It's a great scent for Spring, but I'll stick with my own Pink Manhattan which is also fruity but significantly less intensely sweet (to my nose, anyway). Besides, there are many strawberry scents out there like it now: Miss Dior Cherie, Victoria's Secret Strawberries and Champagne, Ralph Wild and aforementioned Stunning by Jordan, and I already have a few of these in my collection. You gotta love candied strawberries in a perfume, though--like flavored lip gloss, it's as girly as it gets.

(Image: Valentineperfume.com)

Etro Messe de Minuit

I don't know, people...I can do Comme des Garçons Avignon and even the very musty old house-smelling L'Artisan Parfumeur D'Humeur a Rien, but I can't do Etro Messe de Minuit. L'Artisan Parfumeur Passage d'Enfer (The Gates of Hell) didn't scare me at all (it smells like herbaceous white musk, lighter than it sounds) but Messe de Minuit smells downright sinister to me. Inspired by the Catholic Midnight Mass, Messe de Minuit features notes of bergamot, mandarin, orange, galbanum, cinnamon, myrrh, incense, patchouli, amber, musk, honey. I don't usually post thoughts on perfume that are negative but this fragrance smells like mildew, only sweetened by notes that come across to me not so much like sweet honeyed amber but like crushed and carmelized, syrupy woods, bringing to mind L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu or Tom Ford scents. I'm repelled by this scent and I don't think I'll ever grow into love with it. Curiously enough, a couple of online reviewers have written glowing reviews for Messe de Minuit (it is a bestseller) and preferred it over my beloved, sweetly vanillic Loree Rodkin Gothic II which one reviewer wrote smells of mildew--an interesting perception because for me, it's the other way around, and another salient point here is that Loree Rodkin's creation evokes an Eastern incense while the Etro creation evokes an obviously Catholic one. Could East and West be so diametrically opposed through incense?

(Image: Sweet Diva blog)

Miriam Mirani Aqaba

Somewhere between Chanel Coco and Yosh Omniscent is the deep, warm and mysterious beauty that is Miriam Mirani Aqaba. It could also be compared to the incensey feeling of my current obsession, Loree Rodkin Gothic II, but Aqaba is not a headshop incense but a more refined incense composition. It is a heavy Oriental with that sumptuous, earthy, brazen and untamed vibe about it that's wonderful, but it's an indie perfume creation of the sophisticated ilk. I'd say it's pretty spicy but not harsh; it doesn't turn overly cooked or syrupy-pungent on skin, and it also has a touch of the salty Montauk (that's Long Island, NY) beach rose of Antonia's Flowers Tiempe Passate to give it some lift. I've named some fragrances which to me are the most similar to it but Aqaba just has to be experienced because it's like nothing else. I couldn't tell you whether it was an accurate reflection of the scents of the Red Sea region since I've never been in that part of the world, but I can tell you that it certainly puts me in a Queen of Sheba frame of mind. It smells to me like the land of milk and honey, but more honey than milk, maybe some spiced peach iced tea, and lots of rich, smoky-sweet, jewel-toned amber.

Notes on Mirani.com:
Aqaba - A jeweled city on an ancient caravan route, through which camels laden with luxurious cargoes of incense, gold and gemstones passed as the Queen of Sheba traveled to meet King Solomon. An encounter that sparked a legendary passion. This tantalizing fragrance inspired by the charismatic queen uses ingredients from the traditional art of Arabian perfumery.

Eqyptian jasmine, Bulgarian rose, cinnamon, clove, cardamom, damask rose, frankincense, peach, tea leaves, white cedarwood, oak moss

Friday, April 11, 2008

Loree Rodkin Gothic II

Some upscale department stores and niche boutiques carry it, but Loree Rodkin Gothic II by the well-known jewelry designer is a little-known perfume that I think is out-of-this-world. This is one powerful oil perfume, and if ever a perfume could be called Gothic, this is it. It's dark, heavy, extremely potent (a tiny dot carries a pungent sillage and can affect you physically if you apply too much) and headshoppy. There's nothing refined or understated about this scent--it's all about wild and nature-lovin' hippie smokiness, but it's also deliciously sweet with vanilla tempering the medicinal properties of patchouli. I usually stay away from patchouli but this is to me what a good patchouli perfume should smell like: incensey, warm and thick, mellow, centering and down-to-earth, maybe more like a Buddhist temple offering than the frankincense that burns in a Catholic setting. Whatever--it's meditational and incensey, dark enough to be Goth. This does not smell like the patchouli you're used to in mainstream fragrances like Angel, Prada or Britney Spears Fantasy. True, you probably could go to The Village and find some great oil shops that carry similar oils, but Gothic II is already blended in perfect proportions so you don't have to do the work.

I haven't sampled Gothic I but the word on the street is that Gothic II is the heavier and sweeter of the two. I know I'd prefer the more vanillic one, but I like a little yin with my yang.

(Image: www.loreerodkin.com)


Call me crazy, but in a pinch, MAC MV2 can be a stand-in for Serge Lutens Daim Blond. No, it's not a high end perfume like Serge Lutens by any stretch, and it has no soft fruity element in it, but it shares some compositional elements with Daim Blond, such as a spicy floral accord (lavender) blended with a dusty, woody-vanillic base, almost suede-like and a bit chocolatey. I once compared it to Guerlain Jicky because of the interesting lavender-vanilla combination, but because of the heavyish dusty base, I think it's more like Daim Blond overall. OK, so maybe it won't come close to either one, but the little 20ml spray might be worth investigating. It's got a pretty nice scent of its own.

Notes on Maccosmetics.com: Cool, calm, and classic. Vanilla teased with lemon, melted with lavender creme, and then given a warming shot of vanilla bourbon mixed with vanilla mousse and heliotrope.

Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Serge Lutens Daim Blond

The opening is all about the Serge Lutens medicinal sharpness combined with a dazzling Chypre-like "opulence" (a favorite Jan Moran word--Jan Moran being the lovely perfumer / author of my useful and feel-good "perfume bibles", Fabulous Fragrances I and II). Serge Lutens Daim Blond, the most expensive of the line and undoubtedly their star perfume, features simultaneously sharp and mellow suede notes that morph into a handsome fruity-woodsy-Gourmand. It comes across as Caron Tabac Blond or Jean Patou 1000's young and sweet kin. Low-pitched, boozy and decadently fruity (I get apricots and some sharp, cool, bitter herbs, like a hookah pipe mix), it reminds me of Thierry Mugler Angel or a Bond--maybe New Haarlem, Chinatown or So New York--a somewhat linear "sweet, dry woods", with a dewy fruit note giving it liveliness and grace, like a tender cheek-to-cheek moment with a loved one. It's also not unlike Chypre Rouge with the bittersweet quality of Douce Amere. This is exciting stuff. However, this one's going to be a bumpy ride as the ending takes an unpredictable turn.

There's the phase of the luxurious sexy skin scent, of an apricot liquor-chocolate sandalwood mingled with country dirt road and luxury car suede. It seems contemporary and easy-to-wear although dramatic, even a bit sweet and perfumy for every day but then--wait--is this a Floral? I smell Creed Tubereuse Indiana or Fleurissimo just waiting to be discovered. The dry down turns progressively tart, sharp and astringent as compared to the gourmand beginning. I'm not sure I love this stage, and I'm also now thinking it's like a cross between Chopard Casmir and Gucci II, but no, it is a powdery, spicy floral coming on. It's like L'Artisan Orchidee Blanche, Rich Hippie Rock Star, or Caron Farnesiana with their bright and colorful flowery dry downs. In the end, Daim Blond turns thickly powdery, quieted down like a soapy cassie scent but with spiky sharp herbaceous notes more prominent than ever. I wish it didn't pull back at the end when I really want it to warm up and intensify, but that's my own desire and I shouldn't ask it to be what it's not.

Amazon.com: Top notes of hawthorn and cardamom. Middle notes of iris, apricot stone and pallida. Base notes of musk, heliotrope and leather

I wonder if by "pallida" they mean Tradescantia pallida (aka spiderwort or Wandering Jew) or Echinacea pallida, the Pale Purple Cone-flower.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

L'Artisan Parfumeur Premier Figuier

There are a number of fig (fig leaf, to be precise) scents out there worth mentioning such as Diptyque Philosykos (1996), Flora Napa Valley Cielo (date unknown) and this classic creation by L'Artisan Parfumeur, Premier Figuier (1994). Incidentally, the same master perfumer, Olivia Giacobetti, composed both Premier Figuier and Philosykos (Cielo was composed by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes and Christopher Brosius of CB I Hate Perfume). To compare Premier Figuier with Philosykos, I think they're very similar in that they're leafy-sharp, fresh, green scents juxtaposed by sweet and mellow, beachy coconut (not listed in the Diptyque although I smell it) and woody base notes, but Premier Figuier stays true to its form the longest while the other fades to a white musk scent, at least on me. Some have said Philosykos is the drier and earthier of the two (and that might be a reason to become some people's favorite). I may find Philosykos slightly sharper than Premier Figuier, maybe due to a bold cedar base rather than sandalwood, but the real difference for me is the dry down stage when Premier Figuier, to my nose, shows itself to be a more well-rounded blend with a more refined finish. Which one you'll prefer will depend on your taste and chemistry.

Fig leaves are listed notes in Cielo but I don't detect coconut like in the other two; instead, it features grape leaves and honey on a woody-mossy base to bring to mind the vineyards of Napa Valley, California. Cielo also tends to fade quickly to a musk scent on me, but like the other fig scents, it starts out a refreshing, unique leafy green accord. For me, Premier Figuier smells like my ultimate dream of a Mediterranean vacation lounging at a beach resort in Greece. For now, I'll have to stick with Greek coffee, baklava and a spritz of Premier Figuier.

I also like the Extreme version of Premier Figuier, which is similar in scent to the original but stronger, perhaps more full-bodied and sweeter in its heart.

Yet another fig worth mentioning is Hermès Un Jardin en Méditerranée, but it's much more Floral than the above. All of these scents are available to sample at Fishbone96 Decants and Samples.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Vivienne Westwood Libertine

Lovers of Chanel Cristalle, Yves Saint-Laurent Y, YSL So Pretty, Jean Patou Colony or Hermes Un Jardin Sur le Nil might love this little-known and now unfortunately discontinued Fruity Chypre featuring a unique viburnum note (like Vivienne Westwood Boudoir). Libertine can be perceived as light and fresh at first, as it is quite green and seemingly sparse, but being a Fruity Chypre, it morphs into a somewhat musty stewed fruit accord, like boozy pineapple and passion fruit mingling with woods and oakmoss. It's described as an understated fragrance on many sites online, which leads me to believe most Chypres are described as such by the industry. If it means the scent has a sophisticated woody-mossy backdrop that darkens or mutes the overall composition, then understated is an appropriate word; however, I think the scent still packs a sillage, and shouldn't be applied too liberally. I also wouldn't call it a fresh scent per se; maybe saying it's a complex, perfumey scent with some high-pitched accents, an overall clarity or transparency (and again, a strong, enveloping sillage) along with some deep, heavy notes (as woods and moss are), is closer to the reality. Perhaps by understated, they mean that the implied sexuality of the composition is understated but definitely there, lurking underneath the light floral surface--underneath, like the dirt that supports the flowers, that gave them life.

I've seen Gwen Stefani associated with Libertine but somehow, I don't see her as a Chypre person but more of a straightforward white floral and fruity lover--but maybe her taste, like mine, is all over the map. After all, perfuming is more fun when we can freely wear what we're in the mood for at any given time, not giving into the constraints of the industry's rules. Libertine is a daring scent, very unique and probably one that might grow on you (as it grew on me) over time even if you find it strange at first. Then again, maybe not, and that's OK, too. You won't know till you try it. Love it or not, I think Libertine is a quality creation, worthy of pontificating its significance over tea and scones.

Vivienne Westwood Libertine (2001): grapefruit, pineapple, passionfruit, lily of the valley, honeysuckle, bergamot, rose, oakmoss, patchouli, musk, amber

One more thing: I've read online that some people find Libertine salty-smelling. I believe that salitiness is due to salicylates, because I learned at Le Labo that they create the salty beach accord with salicylates. Furthermore, I know salicylates create a smooth consistency in perfume, which Libertine has.