Monday, June 30, 2008

eBay Getting Sued In Paris Court


French court to rule in luxury group case against eBay

EBay is getting sued for 80 million dollars for allowing the sales and auctioning of counterfeit designer goods. While I believe counterfeit sales should have penalties, they're also getting complaints for allowing sellers to resell items such as designer perfumes: "...when eBay sells their authentic products, it is doing so illegally because the companies only permit their goods to be sold through specialist dealers". In other words, what you buy isn't really yours to sell.

"The "first sale" doctrine in copyright law, however, makes it clear that once the copyright owner sells or gives away a CD, DVD, or book, the recipient is entitled to resell it without needing further permission." Read more: Courtroom Showdown for eBay Seller Over Promo CD Sales, EFF Argues That Labels Don't Trump Right to Resell, April 8th, 2008

Next thing you know, they'll be coming after bloggers saying we shouldn't write about designer perfumes if we're not authorized to speak on behalf of the companies. Maybe we shouldn't own our own thoughts, either.

(Update: eBay has been fined 63 million dollars and can no longer allow sales of perfumes by Christian Dior, Kenzo, Givenchy and Guerlain, all LVMH brands. More at this link)

France's Problem is a Statist-Run Socialist Economy By Lawrence Kudlow, March 27, 2006

Visit osCommerce forum to read a discussion on whether you can get sued for selling brand items

Update July 9, 2008: eBay scrambles to reverse loss in LVMH case, CNNmoney.com



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Giorgio Armani - Armani Code

From drapey, flowing maxi dresses to gladiator sandals, it's pretty clear Greco-Roman fashion has been the order of the day for at least the past few years, and it looks like it's hit its peak. Some say the look is bringing femininity back into style, but I say it's all part of the on-going Classics trend which includes the emergence of Roman-themed TV series and men's retro style of the French Riviera in the 30s and 50s. On the fragrance front, we've seen the return of Chypre perfumes (such as Narciso Rodriguez For Her, Miss Dior Cherie, Gucci by Gucci) and perfume launches with trendy references from the obvious to the abstract such as Estée Lauder Mediterranean and Armani Code (code, as in law, from the Law of Hammurabi to Roman law). Pantone 2008 Color of the Year is a royal blue with purple tinge called Blue Iris. The iris is associated with the name of a Greco-Roman goddess, an emblem of Mary and the fleur-de-lis. It's an all-out ancient Greco-Roman revival, so put on your best goddess look this summer. Along with Blue Iris, reds and purples are a keynote combination for Fall 2008: check out more Pantone Colors for Fall 2008 at this link.

I'll just briefly review Armani Code for Women (2006) which I was able to test thanks to Marie-Helene of The Scented Salamander who'd kindly sent me a sample awhile back. It's a jasmine floral with some citrus-woody elements, juicy with orange notes but slightly bitter, spiced up with ginger, a bit vanillic but not sweet overall (probably not sweet enough for me which is why I never bought a bottle), also rather sporty for a perfume housed in such a flowery bottle. The point of interest to me was the abundant use of an indolic Sambac jasmine in this modern fragrance. It could also be the honey in this composition that gives it the retro animalic edge. It smells like a modern throwback to the classics in a good way, like Yves Saint-Laurent Cinéma. At the heart of the fragrance is another white floral alongside the jasmine: orange blossom, the scent which is said to fill the air in Sicily, a note I'm drawn to these days. Armani Code for Women is a follow-up to the Men's Armani Code (see below). (Edited to add) I tested it again at Sephora last night and decided I really like it. It reminds me now of Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie only not as aldehydic. It's also less sporty-aqueous than I initially thought.

The Men's version was launched first in 2004: Armani Code (originally Black Code, as in the Code Noir, a decree passed by France's King Louis XIV in 1685 which ordered all Jews out of the colony, forbade the exercise of any other religion other than "Roman, Catholic, and Apostolic Faith", restricted the activities of free Blacks and defined the brutal conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire (source: Wikipedia)) is a wildly popular bestselling men's fragrance (FiFi Award winner). It is Giorgio Armani's first masculine oriental-style fragrance according to Basenotes.

(Image: fragrantica.com)



Saturday, June 28, 2008

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley



Last year marked the 75th anniversary of Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, a Dystopian fictional novel written in 1932. It's a brilliant and prophetic masterpiece which I find very relevant today. If you haven't read it yet, it makes a riveting summer read, covering many topics from Utopian Socialism and a totalitarian world government to the end of religion, marriages and traditional family structure.


Sexism Continued: George Carlin's Seven Words, MSNBC and Killjoys



When people talk about George Carlin and the seven words you can't say on television, the point of their argument is that censorship is wrong. Granted, but there are many sides to defend here. No one talks about the word "fuck" having a violent connotation within a sexual context which perverts sex into a hateful act, but they will argue it's stupid to ban a word that rhymes with duck. I don't believe in censorship (edited to add "although it depends"--just want to be clear I'm not for it in this particular case) (and there are some words you can't say on Japanese radio, but those words are very different from these English curse words), although I think we can make efforts to individually try to be sensitive in areas where people can feel hurt or scared. Those words: piss, cunt, tits, etc., mostly have to do with male projection from a not-so-nice mindframe, including curses directed towards women. Another argument is that the ban is not only unjust but elitist, a ban on so-called low class terms, like some people use the term "old lady" while some people (many women of a certain age, understandably) are offended and deem it unevolved. One can also argue making female body parts "dirty" and not male, such as "cock" being OK but not "cunt", and not "cocksucker", either, is also sexist. I think if these curses were racist terms, they would be treated differently by the people who cry freedom of speech. Sexism doesn't get the same level of serious treatment.

Does that mean I don't believe in cursing? No, damn it, and while I don't swear all that much in public, I'm not above using them nor do I judge those who do. But I can also see why people (perhaps, in particular, women) have a hard time with such words, perhaps less from a logical, reasonable and explainable standpoint and more from a feelings standpoint, which should be equally valid and respected because after all, feelings are part of our brains. So as always, I feel it's important to see all sides, and for people who oppose the ban on those words to gather all sides (not just two, either, which is typically male-minded and reductionist) of a situation before judging. Do you want to know what I couldn't say on Japanese radio? "Mania" and "crazy"--imagine that. Also, you can depict horrific violence against women in TV/ film and other mediums but you can't show an actual vagina. May George Carlin RIP.

The last time I tuned into MSNBC cable news before tonight was when I was watching Countdown, and the host of the day (the lawyer guy) was doing the Worst Persons list. One of them was a conservative who wanted to ban Maxim or some other men's magazine from an army base. The show basically put him on the list because as they saw it, there was nothing wrong with a bunch of guys looking at girly mags. Hey, they have a point: in England, men fight for the right to have their daily pleasure, the topless page 3 girl in their newspapers, and dare anyone talk against it, they're called Killjoys. It matters not that women get raped and told they look like the page 3 girl--those images couldn't possibly be causing any harm. Why doesn't everyone who gets injected with vaccines containing thimerosal develop autism, or why don't all smokers get lung cancer? Can we prove living near nuclear plants causes radiation disease (cancers) longterm? Porn isn't bad because not all men who like it are criminals. I guess this Worst Person was killing male joy, a sin in this world, even if some women might actually agree with the conservative guy's point of view, that porn, even soft porn, kills OUR joy. No one wants to see this topic reduced to right or wrong, because they won't have porn, a man's right to look at whoever they choose naked or half-naked, taken away. They'll go as far as to argue that Playboy photos are the same as fine art paintings. We're pictures on a wall. The problem is that women don't speak up, even if they're feeling deep down it's not exactly kosher. They stand on the principle that freedom of speech and expression is a right, because after all, all the smart liberal guys will turn on them if they don't make that the number one issue over any it's-not-sexism-if-it-doesn't offend-me-sexism.

Tonight on MSNBC, they were of course covering the new "marriage" between Senator Obama and Hillary aka "Clinton's wife". How many times did I cringe over their sexist comments during the primaries--for instance, that she was really nothing more than a president's wife, and that couldn't have been experienced enough to run a country, so hurry up and get out of the race? If the roles were reversed, I don't think they would have been rushing Obama to get out of the race to hurry up and let Hillary win. I expect sexism from right wing media but from left wing, too? So, which channel do I turn on? But whatever--it's time now to focus on Obama who I'm happy to see become the first African-American president of the United States. He'll be running against McCain who might succeed at overturning Roe v. Wade, so, even with barely scabbed-over wounded feelings, I might be watching more of cable news again.

Friday, June 27, 2008

On Sexism, Capitalism and The Secret Doctrine


I'm so glad I'm here in the United States. I mean it, especially today, when I suddenly sense the world around me changing towards a direction I'm not sure is good for us. Through perfume, I have been able to get a glimpse into some of the world view of the way the US operates under capitalism. I'm also seeing that capitalism is equated with classism, although based on what I've learned through history lessons, classism is intertwined with racism, really: blood lines and lineages that create class awareness, the way societies are set up in other parts of the world in an inescapable hierarchical pyramid of rank, like birth order or family name. The American way actually allows people of different backgrounds to break out of the social mold because we believe the individual creates society, not that society creates who we are. How could capitalism create classism when classism is there in socialist countries? Racism and sexism won't be eradicated by simply dismantling capitalism.

This is freedom to me, that we can see beyond people's social class, race, gender or any other feature we're born with--a privilege I will never take for granted. I believe we can see beyond the material (the seen) because of our faith, putting spirit (moral, if you will) over material, as in the biblical phrase, "man shall not live by bread alone". We are equal in God's eyes, and we can all compete in a capitalist society for success--this is our version of equality and freedom for all to compete in a free market, to have freedom of religion and to live by our moral code. I've been learning that people who are opposed to capitalism are often also opposed to morality getting in the way of business as usual. It's as if the idea that church and state should be separate can now be applied everywhere else as a one size fits all theory.

It seems everywhere I turn today, people, including women, are trying to prove that being modern means being able to separate morality from all aspects of life. If demoralizing images are all we get now because of this new post-feminist movement, isn't it the same as saying we no longer create images based on moral conscience at all? I find that disheartening, and I also don't blame capitalism for this. Consumers have free will as do imagemakers who often put out purposely ambigious or shocking images to prove a point, that we should all separate ourselves from the images we're fed every single day like maharishi gurus supposedly levitate from the earth with their all-matter-conquering mind-control. Pushing the envelope is an important aspect of art and communication, but to me, it's twisted to make us think we don't see something that's there, as if the sexism we see isn't real, either. If people trivialize my opinion as being politically correct (the new derogatory term), it's because such an opinion is actually going against the current status quo.

Eva Prima Pandora, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misogyny

I know there's a problem when people, including women, can rationalize pornography and even prostitution, as not being the causes of or contributing factors to sexism:

The new sexism, issue 77, Sept. 2003, socialismtoday.com:
Challenging sexism
"ANDREA DWORKIN ONCE argued that "at the heart of the female condition is pornography, it is the ideology that is the source of all the rest". But sexist images of women, of which violent pornography is the most extreme expression, do not cause women’s oppression. They are the products of a society based on inequalities of power and wealth. The roots of women’s oppression date back thousands of years to the rise of class society, private property, and the family as an institution of economic and social control."

I agree with Andrea Dworkin (to a point). I would say that the perpetuation of such created, distorted and fetishized, so-called idealized images of us, creates the kind of society in which real women are made into second class citizens by sending the message that we are imperfect beings (compared to the manmade image set to oppress us by calling it "ideal"). Again, I believe individuals create society, not the other way around. To say a societal system is responsible for the making of such imagery is a lie. Someone created it and someone published it, and it's not for greedy capitalist moneymaking schemes only, but also to make sociopolitical statements, like how such images are indeed useful and therefore not bad or wrong. It's another opportunity to present the monistic philosophy that nothing in this world is good or bad, right or wrong, which goes against the American fabric of morality and well-being. Sexism doesn't have to sell products any more than pushing ideas based on love or romance, unless that's the image that's always made available. It seems to me the real beef people have with capitalism is that it's the only system that allows for freedom of religion, and belief in God ticks people off for some reason.

Here's a writing on how focusing on class oppression marginalizes sexism, racism and all other "isms":

The Unhappy Marriage of Socialism and Feminism?
Submitted on 23 September, 2007, workersliberty.org

"Marxist theory reduces everything to economics and therefore only addresses the issues of (white male) class oppression. Theoretically, it is incapable of analysing and addressing women’s oppression.

"The oppression of women, black people, queer people and working class people is all interdependent and equal. To talk about class struggle privileges one oppression above another and marginalises struggles against sexism, homophobia and racism."

Although I side with capitalist thought, I see much of politics as diversion from the sexism that may well be the core of these debates. So why am I addressing all this now? Because I believe The Secret (which is connected to Darwinism through its association with Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine and Root Race Theory) has been significant in a paradigm shift here, that good and bad don't exist (monism vs. monotheism), that we all create our own realities (materialism) by thinking what we choose to think (suppressing "negative" thoughts even when deeper issues are legitimate--this is a form of mind control), and with karmic theories that can be twisted to say we (and our thoughts) are responsible for the action of others for or against us, a dangerous and simplistic concept when one struggles to understand what causes oppression and genocide.

Capitalism doesn't create sexism any more than socialism does. It's misogyny, institutional and individual, which exists apart from political systems. It starts with those sexist images we pretend don't hurt or demoralize us. It thrives on our blissful ignorance, because we want to please men, to gain their approval, and worst of all, to cater to them out of fear. That motivation alone shows us how far we've really come, which may not be as far as we are made to believe. I wish we could stop buying time theorizing on the causes of sexism and tackle sexism and all its hateful, misogynistic images that are strategically designed to keep us down on a global level.

By the way, I don't think there can be real equality in a survival of the fittest natural law setting, because if there's a shortage of food and work, I think the more useful (read: men) will get the better deal no matter what, and women will be delegated to "working" for the welfare of men. Wouldn't you just love to go back in time a few thousand years and get stuck in a "might is right" society? This is what's being offered to us as freedom in the New World.

Read more about feminism of our time:

LIPSTICK IMPERIALISM AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER: WOMEN AND MEDIA AT THE CLOSE OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY by Margaret Gallagher, Paper prepared for Division for the Advancement of Women, Department for Policy Coordination and Sustainable Development, United Nations, December 1995


Feminism Means More Than Sexual Equality
By Pete Schemerhorn, www.migreens.org


Also may be of interest: That's Funny You Don't Look Anti-Semitic - An anti-racist analysis of left anti-semitism by Steve Cohen www.engageonline.org.uk





AOL Says an Affair Can Be Useful

It can not only spice up your marriage, it SHOULDN'T change your relationship at all, depending on the REASON you're having one. Read When Good People Have Affairs by Mira Kirshenbaum and start scratchin' that seven year itch, fulfilling the midlife crisis, upgrading to a newer model, etc., then analyze it to know thyself. AOL should continue to teach men to never learn to communicate or be willing to work out differences with the women they are committed to, because ENLIGHTENED men are above that. Teach women we are serving a good, common cause when we help someone through a trying marriage through cheating with us. Why don't we all just accept infidelity as being NORMAL like in other societies? It's useful, and therefore it can't be all bad. Hey, maybe good and bad are one and the same. Perhaps the author needs to justify affairs for her own reasons, but it doesn't make it OK to try to twist our society into a self-centered and callous one where anyone can cheat to get what one wants and not feel the least bit guilty IF IT IS USEFUL. Hello, Brave New World, the death of morality. New World Order (everyone put in their proper place starting with men first) aka global socialism is near, and we can start euthanizing people (old people, less developed groups of people, the mentally ill, perhaps women who cry for equal pay but can't carry more than one brick into a wheelbarrow the way a man can carry two) who aren't seen as useful to society, too. It may be time for me to unsubscribe from AOL if they're endorsing such a book--and survival of the fittest (anti-love, "might-makes-right", anti-woman!!) philosophy aka Natural Law--under AOL Health. Who cares how cheating makes people feel if it's reasonable? God, help us.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Comme des Garçons Series 2: Red - Palisander

Palisander is one of the Red series in the Comme des Garçons fragrance line. Palisander, the wood, is otherwise known as rosewood. Brazilian rosewood is known to smell like roses when freshly cut. This type of rosewood is an endangered tree which grows in the Amazon region (although rosewood is also currently harvested in India). Brazilian rosewood's hard and heavy, colorful wood (red, violet or brown, with black streaks) is used to build the finest pieces of furniture and other goods (solid forms are used in limited quantity) while its essence is used in aromatherapy and perfumery. Rosewood essential oil is said to have been used in Chanel No.5 for its natural linalool, until synthetic linalool was able to replace some or all of the natural rosewood oil it once incorporated.

I had written about Avignon, another fragrance in the Comme des Garçons line last year, and so to compare the two, I'd say Avignon is the smokier, drier, true "church" incense type (I get mostly frankincense and myrrh) whereas Palisander smells true to the nature of the Brazilian rosewood: resinous, sweet and floral. At first, I thought Palisander was a tuberose blend because it smelled so sweet and thick, rich, warm and almost buttery. It smells more floral than woodsy unless you are familiar with the natural scent of the essential oils (natural sandalwood can also smell more resinous than "woody" and dry). In Palisander, the rosewood is blended with cedar to give it a heavier, bolder, drier (and perhaps "woodier") base, plus subtle touches of spices and a smoky, mildly astringent myrrh note. All together, it smells to me like a rosewood soliflore that's beautifully composed with round-edged, refined nuances and a smooth, lacquered finish like an antique pair of chopsticks.

Comme des Garçons Palisander (2001): Brazilian palisander wood, Virginian red cedar, Japanese red chili peppers, saffron from Iran, myrrh from south Yemen

(Image: Comme des Garçons Red 2 series, meccacosmetica.com)

Shania by Stetson


Shania by Stetson is a celebrity perfume made by Coty for the beautiful and talented Canadian country singer-songwriter, Shania Twain. This is a scent for the drugstore chain, but I'll tell you--it's a pretty nice fragrance. I'd describe it as a Fruity Floral with a very light vanillic base. It smells a lot like the new Chloé crossed with Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Hot. It completely lacks pretense and I find it light and sweet, clean and refreshing with some depth. I also appreciate the slogan for the perfume: "The will of a woman". Her lyrics have always reflected an outspoken person with substantial things to say, for which I'm glad because women around the world benefit from her inability to keep silent. Packed with freedom-loving, inspirational American sensibilities, Shania by Stetson appeals to my Westernized heart and soul.

I honestly can't tell the difference in quality between this scent and the new Chloé. Either drugstore perfumes have come a long way, or mainstream smells like drugstore now--or maybe the truth is somewhere in-between.

Here are the notes on www.shaniabystetson.com:
Beauty. Spirit. Independence. The essence of Shania Twain captured in an irresistible fragrance. Shania by Stetson. Bright and beautiful with an original “Western Heart Accord” of wild prairie rose, vivid freesia, and country honeysuckle with a hint of vine-ripe raspberries and fresh pomegranate.

There is a white cap version and a hot pink cap version, and I believe the pink one is associated with the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

(Image: www.shaniatwainfrance.com)


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Three Days Grace - Never Too Late








The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus - False Pretense





Another excellent band and song produced by David Bendeth (Breaking Benjamin, Paramore)




Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sali Oguri Pink Manhattan Purrfume Sample Now Available @ www.salioguri.com!






Sali Oguri Pink Manhattan PURRFUME samples are now on sale at www.salioguri.com for a limited time only! Make the best of your summer with the sweet scent of Fresh peach, gardenia, pink hibiscus, luxurious French Vanilla and an ethereal touch of sheer skin musk.

(Photo: Annalee Van Kleeck)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Diptyque L'Eau de Néroli

Ahhh, I'm a big fan of fresh, zesty neroli in an eau de cologne, and this is a wonderful new launch by Diptyque. At first, I thought it was like a cross between Annick Goutal Néroli and Santa Maria Novella Zagara. It seemed a somewhat sharper, more lemony type of orange blossom than the Annick Goutal but less sharp and bitter than the Santa Maria Novella. As I'm testing it again tonight, I also think it resembles Caron Eau Fraîche a lot, especially because of the addition of tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus), a sweet herb, a favorite spice of mine that's prevalent in French cooking. I am no cook by any means, but I love to use fresh tarragon in spice blends such as herbes de Provence and bouquet garni.

Overall, this neroli scent is a crisp and exhilarating eau de cologne that dries down to a slightly musky floral effect. It bears no resemblance to the original Diptyque L'Eau, which is also a great scent but a spicy blend based on a 16th century potpourri recipe, made famous by Shalom Harlow who's known to wear it. They are equally wearable, fresh and light, simple and nature-oriented fragrances, but for now, I prefer the new L'Eau de Néroli which seems absolutely essential for hot weather.

Happy Summer '08!

Notes on Aedes de Venustas' website:
L'Eau de Neroli by Diptyque (2008): bergamot, petitgrain, verbena, tarragon, neroli, orange blossom, Egyptian geranium, beeswax, white musk, cedar wood

(Image: www.aedes.com)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Shulton Old Spice


I enjoy some vintage advertisements, and here's one I found through a popular search engine of classic men's Old Spice (1938) by Shulton (New York, Toronto). Shulton is an American brand (they also made Cie cologne) now acquired by Proctor & Gamble. I didn't know until tonight that there was an Early American Old Spice for women launched in 1937 (source: Now Smell This); I wonder how similar it smelled to this version we all know. The word in perfumistaville is that many women adore Old Spice, not only as a scent for men but for themselves. Being a classic spicy Oriental fragrance, it's not far off from Yves Saint-Laurent Opium or Calvin Klein Obsession in its overall effect.

I definitely like this vintage ad better than the image of the girl eating ice cream that was supposed to be a parody of sexist advertising but ended up being a bit tasteless, too...well, good try, P&G--I'm glad someone took on those horribly sexist ads out there. I appreciate the effort, even though it was curiously only printed in men's magazines.

As for the scent, it's self-explanatory, but I might add that the spiciness is specifically that of carnations, which is similar to the spiciness of cinnamon or clove (cinnamon is also a listed note, so it's a combination of both). Basenotes lists these notes:

Top Notes: Orange, Lemon, Spices, Clary Sage, Aldehydes
Heart Notes: Cinnamon, Carnation, Geranium, Jasmine, Heliotrope, Pimento Berry
Base Notes: Vanilla, Musk, Cedarwood, Frankincense, Benzoin, Tonka, Ambergris

I've also just now read on Wikipedia that they've replaced the nice opaque white glass bottles with plastic. That's a shame--I dearly wish they'd bring back the heavy glass bottle, part of its charm and timeless aesthetic.

(Image: www.wasp101.blogspot.com)


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Yves Saint-Laurent Cinéma


Yves Saint-Laurent Cinéma is a spicy-orangey Floral Oriental with mossy tones. I've fallen in and out of love with it but I've always kept it around. I think it smells pretty wonderful. It's dramatic and sophisticated in YSL style, and also very modern with plenty of sex appeal and softness. It's almost like a new take on the classic YSL Opium, one of the great spice queens of perfumes. I might also compare Cinéma to Cacharel Amor Amor, another great scent I've worn, and also to Christian Dior Addict. Cinéma can be characterized as having an ambery sweet, spicy and woodsy-mossy, yet minimalist and transparent (a bit fresh) scent. It's a bit powdery, too, and too much can be cloying, but I think it wears elegantly, without being too stuffy and austere for such a sexy, grown-up scent. For summer evenings when you want to party all night in a sleek black number, Cinéma is glamorous, sociable, respectable and versatile. It'll mesmerize the crowd when you step out of the taxi...or limo, if you prefer.

I've said I don't do Tom Ford scents but this one, I like.

Basenotes lists these notes:
Yves Saint-Laurent Cinéma (2004)
Top Notes: Clementine, Almond Blossom, Cyclamen
Heart Notes: Amarillys, Sambac jasmin, Peony
Base Notes: Amber, White musks, Bourbon vanilla, Benzoin

(Image: www.parfumeriazet.sk)

Gucci by Gucci


No, it's not another "insipid fruity thing" as people like to call light and sweet scents--it's another Prada, and how many more Pradas do we need? Wasn't it enough to have Thierry Mugler Angel and all its variations (Angel Lily, Angel Violet, Angel Rose, Angel Innocent, etc)? Even Chanel got on the Angel bandwagon and put out Coromandel. From Gucci to Pucci, I'm overwhelmed by the same modern patchouli accord: heavy, hippie-Catholic church incense-traditional Indian bug repellant combined with fruits, florals and spice headspace technology sleek and linear brew everywhere I turn. Of course, I understand many people prefer the pungent, earthy, "grown up" (unsweet and heavy, or sweet with other distracting twists to make it seem unsweet, a nouveau Chypre) smell, and if you're really into patch, you could probably smell the different variations of them out there. For me, it's as appealing as eating unsweetened chocolate. Oh, swoon! Yeah, sure. But take my opinion with a grain of salt; I believe most people disagree with me and love this scent a lot.

To clarify, Gucci by Gucci is not the same fragrance as an earlier launch called Gucci Eau de Parfum, which was another spicy, heavy, interesting scent, but more Oriental-ambery than woody to my recollection.

I liked Sephora's description of it being "confident"--I believe that's a code word to describe a strong fragrance with great presence, sillage and lasting power. I think it's also code for "classical", as in the Chypre fragrance family of Greco-Roman origin.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Annick Goutal Néroli

There are neroli scents and there are neroli scents. This is by far one of the most beautiful creations I've ever smelled. There is no earthy-herbaceous New Age shop smell nor dirty animalic twist in this utterly refined and delightful Annick Goutal offering. It's light, fresh, just slightly citric and green but not overly bitter or sharp; it has a soft, honeylike, succulent sweetness that's true to the orange blossom (neroli), and a bright, optimistic disposition that's perfect for this time of year and anytime you want something to make your heart smile. The sillage is so exquisitely pretty, it made me do a double take today to see if it was emanating from me! If you're looking for the ultimate summer floral, Annick Goutal Néroli may be just what you need--I know I do. It's just the right dose of simple rural living to bring a sense of relaxation to life in the concrete jungle.

Between this one and Le Labo Fleur d'Oranger 27, I don't know which one to choose--that's how much I love this Annick Goutal, currently my favorite in the line.

Notes on Annick Goutal's website:
Annick Goutal Néroli
Creation: 2003
Olfactory family: Floral, woody
Composition: Orange blossom, neroli essence, petit grain, woody note, cedar

(Image: escentual.uk)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Floris White Rose

This is a lovely rendition of the white rose. Although I doubt there was any white rose alba incorporated in the creation of this scent (the exquisite white rose I find in Shiseido's White Rose Natural), it certainly captures the essence of the delicate white rose. I find Floris White Rose in some ways easier to wear than Caswell-Massey White Rose which, although it's a lovely scent in its own right, I found a bit heavy and musky-powdery. Floris White Rose is very similar to the Caswell-Massey historical fragrance being a slightly powdery rose, but it wears a bit lighter and fresher. It has an aldehydic violet-iris tone to give it an old-fashioned feel, and since I can't wear many powdery rose-violet aldehydics such as Hermès Kelly Calèche, Jean Brosseau Ombre Rose, Balenciaga Le Dix and Amouage Dia, I find Floris White Rose the least powdery, more dewy, the perfect one in the genre for me.

If you like Kate by Kate Moss, this is a slightly more retro light rose scent, worth a try.

(Image: www.perfumespedia.com, www.21stcenturyvillage.com)

Caswell-Massey English Lavender

The earliest record of an English Lavender I could find is one by Yardley, launched in 1770. According to Caswell Massey's timeline of fragrance history, their "Lavender" was created in 1873, although I'm not sure this is the same scent as their current English Lavender. English Lavender is basically a simple lavender scent, this one in particular being very aromatic and sharply clean, spicy and well-mannered. Traditionally, English Lavender is a Men's fragrance but Caswell-Massey English Lavender is sold under Women's. Lavender is a key note in the Fougère fragrance family which has traditionally been marketed to men, although some have crossed over to women's as Guerlain Jicky has (Jicky is simultaneously Fougère and early Oriental, making it a unique breakthrough).

I believe many American perfumes are close in feeling to English perfumes having a clean, "just showered" character as opposed to the more intricate, heavier French (I'm thinking of some of the more complex Chypre (Greco-Roman origin)) fragrances. The Caswell-Massey line of fragrances remind me of Floris of London and Penhaligon's, all streamlined compositions but fine fragrances of the highest pedigree for men and women.

Caswell-Massey's handsome 250th Anniversary Miniature Cologne Collection is a great way to sample this historical scent.

(www.caswellmassey.com)

Some Thoughts on Gay Marriage, No Fault Divorce

I know that if I had gay children, I would still love them and accept them. I also think any way of making it easier for a loved one to survive economically when the partner has gone is a good idea. I'd want that same security for my children. For the people who are afraid the next step after permitting gay marriage is permitting incestual marriages, as much as I can understand the fear (and I think we should never allow that, God forbid), I don't think "gay" and "family member" are interchangable or even comparable. As for those who are now afraid of allowing gay clergy, since when have some members of clergy not been gay?

Now, I'll tell you what's really blown my mind is learning that New York is the only state in the USA where no-fault divorce isn't permitted. There are two sides: one that says no fault makes it easier for a man to dump his wife and kids. Another point of view says it makes it more difficult to prove wrongdoing in situations where women are being abused. As with many complex situations, this one's also easy to see from more than one side.

Congratulations to all the happy couples who married in San Fran today! Same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions are entitled to recognition in New York State.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass

Pink wasn't always a feminine color. Until the 1940s, pink was for boys and blue was for girls. This lends support to the notion that the color preferences come from culture rather than biology. Culture, of course, isn't etched in stone as an eternal rule but shaped by people who either choose to believe or not believe the past or current notion of a cultural code or fashion "norm". Such a perceived norm is shaped by the majority--but just because it's popular doesn't make it a "truth", and hip people who refuse to be brainwashed by the dictates of fashion know better than to follow trends just because others do. There was a time men "should" have short hair, and women "should" wear skirts, and some people are still fighting for the freedom to express themselves in ways they want without being bullied or pressured into convention. Be encouraged that pink and blue and their respective meanings have surely flipped and voilà--the earth was never flat. Society doesn't rule us, but we shape it with newly acquired knowledge separating us from our parents' generation. Each generation has values we want our society to reflect, and with a longterm vision of what we want the world to be for future generations, we can make certain archaic notions obsolete.

Blue, particularly pale blue, was said to be a feminine color because it was more delicate and dainty than the fiery character of red. Red and pink, the lighter shade of red, were deemed more appropriate for boys (and occasionally for dark-haired (or less fair and delicate than blonde) girls). Blue is also associated with the Virgin Mary in Catholic tradition. By the 1930s in Germany, pink may already have been a popular color for girls. German Nazis assigned different colors to the prisoners of concentration camps, reversing the masculine association of the color pink by assigning it to homosexuals, symbolized by a pink triangle (inverted triangle, an upside down phallic symbol (triangles are also used to signify rank)). Today, the pink triangle is a symbol of Gay Pride.

Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass (1934), to my 21st century nose, is a gender-bender scent and smells like it could easily have been a men's fragrance. It's an evanescent and sporty Aromatic-Floral lavender blend focused on powdery notes with a bit of spice, not very different from Dana Canoe (1932). Hyacinth and jasmine make it slightly indolic and leaning on the greener spectrum of the white floral range. It also seems related to Worth Je Reviens (1932), a soft, powdery floral fragrance with a touch of spice that came in several different blue bottles designed by Lalique. If girls were made of sugar and spice and everything nice, the Blue Grass woman might have a bit of tomboy in her and be able to ride a horse well. It's a thoroughly old-fashioned fragrance to me, and challenging for me to wear, but I also feel it's a bonafide classic worthy of testing. According to Jan Moran's book, Fabulous Fragrances, Blue Grass is a favorite of Queen Elizabeth II who, according to Jan Moran, also favors Guerlain L'Heure Bleue.

The color blue, aside from Blue Iris being the Pantone 2008 Color of the Year, is associated with water, the moon, intuition, fidelity, femininity, spirituality and magic. Blue may also signify sadness, the devil, the working class (blue collar) and European aristocracy (blue-blooded).

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day


Thank goodness for dads who bless us with hard work, wisdom and dedication joyfully and lovingly. There's no man greater on Earth than the one who desires harmony within the family, takes good care of his kids and enjoys spending time with them. Yay for gentle, caring men = the true gentlemen of the world. We honor you today--you know who you are!

(Image: Sébastien Chabal for Caron Pour Un Homme ad, www.news-parfums.com)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Love by Kilian


Love by Kilian is one of the Les Ingénues collection and my favorite in the line (although so far I've only tested a couple--Beyond Love was a nice, buttery tuberose soliflore in the vein of L'Artisan Parfumeur Tubereuse). Love is totally my kind of scent--sweet and sensual but not too heavy, and easy to wear. I'd compare it to another favorite of mine, Le Labo Jasmin 17, which to me is a more vanillic-sweet version of yet another love of mine, Marc Jacobs Blush featuring jasmine, bergamot, orange blossom and honeysuckle notes. What I smell is a citrusy white floral blend of jasmine, orange blossom and neroli with a sparkling bergamot top and sweet marshmallow base notes, a combination that's at once delicious and fresh, lightly floral and a little bit decadent. The dry down gets a bit more intensely sugary like burnt caramel. There is a bit of musk in the blend and I can see the comparisons often made to Etat Libre d'Orange Divin'enfant, but I think Love by Kilian is more citrusy and floral. I'll also add that the dry down base note I find prominent in Love is labdanum, the same animalic note I find in Le Labo Jasmin 17, Frédéric Malle Musc Ravageur and L de Lolita Lempicka, all by Maurice Roucel who when composing scents works his way up the pyramid from the base (Love is by perfumer Caline Becker (Christian Dior J'Adore)).

Love is a refined and delicate Gourmand Floral that's perfect for evening and maybe even perfect for daytime depending on the setting.





Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dior Homme

I had Fred try this on because I loved it in the bottle, but it dried down too sweet and powdery-floral on him for either of us to like. However, I might have to give myself a good spritz of it one of these days. From what I can recall, it was an iris cocoa, maybe similar to Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao or Guerlain Iris Ganache if I'm not completely wrong. I couldn't wear Iris Ganache but perhaps I could wear this adventurous iris Floral Gourmand for Men. I hope it wasn't too caloney--I never like that element in a scent. As far as iris goes, it's hard to find one that doesn't smell like Estée Lauder Pleasures, which to me smells reminiscent of root vegetables.

Notes on Sephora.com:
Dior Homme (2005 Aromatic)
Lavender, Sage, Cardamom, Iris, Cocoa Bean, Amber, Vetiver, Patchouli, Leather.

Annick Goutal Eau de Monsieur

I once gifted this fragrance to Fred who hasn't really worn it, which is fine, of course, because no one should have to tolerate a scent one doesn't care for. He prefers Nuits d'Hadrien in the Annick Goutal line, and even better because so do I. It's not that Annick Goutal Eau de Monsieur (1981) isn't a fine fragrance--it's just that I think both of us find it just a bit musky and heavy, not sweet at all yet slightly oppressive when worn. It is a very refined and elegant scent for men, albeit intense, and I like to smell it in the bottle, to imagine it worn with a cable knit sweater under a duffel coat in subzero weather. I smell mostly woods and citron in Eau de Monsieur, and with a lot of oakmoss in the mix, it has a simultaneously citrusy yet dark and resinous, classic Chypre character. For comparison, we love Chanel Pour Monsieur (Concentrée version with a fresher citrusy edge--the older green one from the '50s smells a bit too mossy and musty-unpleasant to me) very much, another masculine Chypre, but Annick Goutal Eau de Monsieur seems to lack the energetic, urbane modern chic character of the 1991 Chanel offering. We also both love Chanel Les Exclusifs Eau de Cologne--maybe I should get him that next time (and that one, I would wear, too--aha!).

I believe there are some similar men's fragrances including Caron Alpona, Parfums de Nicolai New York, Guerlain Derby. They're not entirely similar, but I think they share that mossy, heavy classic vibe, although Annick Goutal Eau de Monsieur seems the most wearable of the bunch. If you like this scent, it's one of the more potent fragrances in this well-mannered line and a little goes a long way.

(Image: www.little-italy.ru)

L'Artisan Parfumeur Fleur d'Oranger

The first time I tried the 2005 limited edition fragrance, I thought the dry down felt much warmer and muskier than I'd expected. When I mentioned this impression on a forum, I don't think anyone else shared my experience because no one else said anything of the sort. However, upon testing L'Artisan Parfumeur Fleur d'Oranger again, although I'm finding the dry down less ambery warm than I initially thought it was (edited: I believe have the 2007 version sample here, not the 2005 heavier version I tested first), it's still musky to me. Tonight, I believe I've found the culprit: honey! It's a listed note on Neiman Marcus' website. I'd written about the animalic character of honey, its traditional use in leather fragrances, legendary aphrodisiac effects and--not for the faint of heart but true--how it can even resemble in chemical structure a urine-like smell (of course, not exactly like urine--if you go and take a deep whiff of honey, you might understand my point). In L'Artisan Parfumeur Fleur d'Oranger, the honey doesn't smell urinous to me at all, but it definitely leaves on my skin an animalic trace. I also find this sample a bit astringent and herbaceous compared to the 2005 version, and also compared to my current holy grail favorite, Le Labo Fleur d'Oranger (which, I would presume would be too sweet for people who like the L'Artisan Parfumeur offering). In L'Artisan's version, I seem to smell more pronounced petit grain and neroli, adding a green, spicy, more citric and transparent quality and thereby cutting the heavy, rich, complex sweetness of orange blossom.

I also find in this an interesting, smooth, not very sweet but almost fruity (coconutty, banana-like or like pikake) creamy white floral note, very reminiscent to me of vintage Christian Dior Diorama or Lanvin Arpège of all things. I think it's a fantastic scent, definitely one of the best orange blossoms out there. Elegant and romantic, it's a limited edition that's sure to be remembered as one of L'Artisan Parfumeur's classics.

(Image: www.neimanmarcus.com)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town", "Jazz Bad" #1 in Trance, Drum N' Bass on Broadjam


Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town" featuring Sali Oguri on vocals is still holding at #1 on the Electronic - Trance Top 10 Chart on Broadjam! "Rainy Town" is also up on the Regional - New York Top 10 chart!

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Click on the banner to check the current standings in Trance.

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Rock Electronica & Soundtrack Producer-Artist Fred Kimmel's Drum 'N Bass classic "Jazz Bad" featuring Sali's scat vocals from outer space is ruling the chart in the #1 spot in Electronic - Drum 'N Bass Top 10!

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

"Jazz Bad" and more WUJ songs are available for purchase on Broadjam. Click here, then go to SONGS on left side panel.

Thank you for your continued support!



Monday, June 09, 2008

Oguri Hangan


Oguri Hangan is an old tale from Japan's pantheon of literary classics. As the Greeks and Romans have their gods of war, Ares and Mars, Oguri Hangan is a samurai (young Lord of Oguri Castle) of the Middle Ages (15th century) who became known as the legendary god of war. The story unfolds in a time when Buddhism had changed Japan to a more hierarchical and misogynist society than ever before since its introduction in the seventh century BCE. The indiginous religion of Japan was Shinto which even without a developed theological system had maintained a sex-positive ideology, particularly with regard to the role of sex in procreation between a man and a woman, ideally in monogamy. With Buddhism, the role of sex changed from procreation as a social good to a method by which a man can attain spiritual enlightenment based on sexual skills, and skills meant learning not to desire the female. Women were a hindrance to spiritual advancement so where they were partners to men before, they were now seen as lower rank, something to be denied. Unlike Shinto, Buddhism did not validate women as mothers. Women were made aware of Five Hindrances or Fivefold Obstruction (itsutsu no sawari) and why they were imperfect. The life of a woman came to depend on the gratuitous kindness of a man, and so to the man she called lord she submitted her will and her fate. It was the beginning of dominance-submission as the "normal" Japanese man-woman relationship dynamic.

Oguri Hangan is in essence a tale with moral teachings behind it, those morals being Buddhist and Confucian. It's a classic religious tale, and when it's performed as theatre complete with music, it's still a sermon, and far from a fairytale when you see through the rhetoric. Oguri was a samurai, son of a provincial lord named Mitsushige, whose aristocratic position didn't make his temperament that of a gentleman. In fact, his violent temperament got him exiled by his father from Kyoto to Hitachinokuni where he meets Princess Terute. More drama unfolds, and somewhere down the line he ends up dead. Long story short, he's brought back to life by Princess Terute who carries him (in a cart where he was placed by a Buddhist monk) and revives him with water from the Hot Springs of Kumano, a spiritual city (and the bath was of religious importance to the Japanese since the days of yore, for purification, especially for women who menstruate and could defile (spread cooties) on the most holy places if women were to be allowed to go near them--only now, the teaching of karma could deftly explain why).

The experts on the story will tell you what their view of the morals are but my take is that Princess Terute goes against her family's wishes (granted, her father wanted her dead for disobeying him--no angel himself) to save this sorry guy's life, and supposedly, Oguri settles down with her and they live happily ever after (till he dies in battle). I think most people know today that violence is a cycle that's seldom broken, and such a rough character wasn't the best type for any woman to marry. Yet, Terutehime loves the bad boy, marries him and she's exalted as the goddess of marriage, the Japanese version of...let's see, who's the symbol of complete purity in Western culture that we know of? How about Mary? This is why I detest this story--it's worse than Cinderella because it celebrates a violent man as a hero and makes a woman the symbol of perfection for him to behave for. It doesn't work like this in reality. Such a way of thinking about a woman makes him faultless through her angelic perfection, which of course is a misogynistic lie because when she shows her not-so-pure and idealistic true human self, or god forbid he should desire this snake charmer, he's bound to blame her (for not doing her job of being his ideal) and think of her as its (that's right--I said "ITS" because she's being objectified as a madonna-whore) polar opposite--a demon. There was no word for projection back then, was there? Nice way to deal with guilt. Too bad she's already stuck in marriage with this celebrated warrior, a symbol of "ethical violence". There's no telling how a demon deserves to be treated according to a man like this.

It's a story of male dominance and female submission, pure and simple, and Japanese people get to hear stories like this over and over by way of TV, film and jidaigeki (period drama, or as I see it, violent soap opera) till we internalize the morals as truth that somehow, women are only feminine if we forever submit everything, especially ourselves--and apparently our own safety by believing this crap.

Sometimes, I feel like dropping my last name. Even more so, sometimes I want to scream at westeners who think Christianity or any other religion is more misogynistic than Buddhism, when I've lived on this planet as a Japanese woman long enough to know otherwise.

The Shadow of the Dalai Lama – Part I – 1. Buddhism and misogyny – an historical overview by Victor & Victoria Trimondi

The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender by Bernard Faure

Divinely Ordained? Religious Creation Myths and the Relation of Militarism to Sexism
Joan Chittister, O.S.B.

Le Labo Fleur d'Oranger 27

I'm a huge fan of orange blossom, and I think this particular one is extraordinarily pretty. I don't know which I love more: Le Labo Jasmin 17 or this one, Fleur d'Oranger 27. Unfortunately, I can't seem to wear the Fleur d'Oranger well because it dries down to a very intense flowery floral on me. It's hard to explain why I can wear Caron Narcisse Noir yet somehow I find this challenging. For comparison, it dries down to something akin to a heavy tuberose such as Creed Fleurissimo or Caron Tubereuse (not that I can't wear any tuberose because I certainly can, but these are particularly flowery-intense on me). However, the opening is so fresh and sweet, simply gorgeous! I must revisit it in cooler weather--it's going up to 97F in NYC today--a near record high!

Orange blossom is a sweet (candy-like) tropical white floral aroma, indolic like jasmine or tuberose, heady and narcotic/intoxicating, but orange blossom has a slightly orangey-citric, sweet but sharp and sparkling character rather than a creamy or buttery tone. You may have smelled orange blossom in perfumes such as Mülhens 4711, Caron Narcisse Noir, Kate Spade, Jean Paul Gaultier, Boucheron and Clementine perfume oil. Still other perfumes containing orange blossom are L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons and Marc Jacobs Blush. Orange blossom is one of the staples in perfumery, understandably so because of its highly fragrant, pleasant-smelling nature. This beautiful orange blossom blend of 27 notes called Le Labo Fleur d'Oranger 27 is nicely toned down, not too brash although sumptuous, and one of the loveliest scents I've recently come across. Even with 27 notes within the blend, it smells to me like a soliflore, like a slightly deepened or enriched orange blossom but not as heavy as, say, Narcisse Noir or Jean Paul Gaultier, but heavier than 4711 and Blush. It's the essence of pure Spring. Launched in 2006, it's listed as a shared fragrance between men and women.

I love Fleur d'Oranger Provençal candies, a good indication I would also like orange blossom as a scent to wear. Orange blossom water (eau de fleur d'oranger) is often used in French (and in general, Mediterranean / Middle Eastern) recipes, adding a nice flavor in foods, tea and desserts. Orange blossoms from the orange tree are native to China and Southeast Asia, which is why the orange is known in Dutch and German as "Chinese apple". Orange blossoms, symbolizing purity, are also traditional bridal flowers in many parts of the world.

Neroli, the steam-distilled version rather than the absolute, smells wonderful with lighter citric notes although it is often interchangable with orange blossom in perfumery. It's named for the Princess of Nerola of the 17th century who used it to scent her gloves.

(Edited to add): I love it and think I will get some from Le Labo soon! The heaviness I detect is probably the musk base, but today, it doesn't seem overwhelming to me. It's been so hot, it seems whatever I spritz on just evaporates. Here are the notes listed on their website: "floral and lemony notes, rounded out by musk and the succulent, sunny touches of bergamot, petit grain and lemon."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton



Hear the historical concession speech on You Tube at this link.






Friday, June 06, 2008

Estée Lauder Knowing



Won't someone please elucidate what the knowledge behind this perfume called Knowing is supposed to be about? Is this an illuminati perfume fronted by '80s supermodel Paulina Porizkova, or is it meant to appeal to the collegiate crowd, like more Obama supporters than Clinton supporters are likely to be Knowing wearers? How many of those would you consider the snarkier type of enlightened Knowing wearers as opposed to the more down-to-earth, humble well-educated folks? Yes, statistics are silly and some people take them way too seriously, letting numbers get to their heads. Associations can work wonders for our egos, however, so we must choose our nominees and perfumes wisely. Knowing perhaps appeals most of all to competitive people--those who want something that says "I smell of old leather-bound BOOKS--citrus, honey, tobacco and patchouli notes make Dry Woods (Animalic Chypre)--get it?". Although the concept of smelling like a walking library is intriguing, Knowing is one of those perfumes I just can't seem to like, like I don't smell the appeal in Roma by Laura Biagiotti or Ultraviolet by Paco Rabanne. I don't know why, and if someone could give me an educated (or not so) guess, I'm open to ideas. Perhaps the head notes seem a bit too cool for me, almost minty (high notes = high minded? I'm working that law of similarity). Knowing is, simply put, too animalic and perfumey-strong for me. I also don't find the twisty bottle appealing in the least, but I think I need to begin my doctoral thesis at Harvard before I can understand the appeal of its symbolism, whatever that may be. I'll take one quick guess and say it looks serpentine to me, besides pretty obviously looking like an old tasseled leather-bound book...of spells.


The blurb on Bloomingdales.com: " Introduced in 1988, Knowing is a deep, woody fragrance with a European sensibility. Heady and exciting, it has great style without even trying."

Notes on Amazon.com: Estée Lauder Knowing (1998) - Animalic, Floral-Chypre, Fruity. Designed by Estee Lauder in 1988, Knowing is a refined, woody, mossy fragrance. Its fragrant nature explores essences of coriander, orange and lily of the valley. Blended with notes of cardamom, honey and musk, Knowing is recommended as an evening fragrance.

(Image: Knowing parfum mini, www.scentserely.com)

Grès Cabochard


I know this post is going to read like sacrilege for some, but all I can really say about Grès Cabochard (1959) is "ladies' handbag". It's just a pure dry leather scent, with a very true-to-life animalic smell. It's so classical, I see perfectly clean lines in a predictable textbook structure. I suspect the honey (which is used in leather scents) is what gives it the rich texture, combined with a classic jasmine-rose heart over a cauldron brew of leather-tobacco-castoreum-labdanum-amber-patchouli. It paved the road for Knowing and Halston, and I can't wear any of these but I admire their bold, "beat-me-over-the-head-with-a-handbag" strength.

Dana English Leather

I've written about it quite extensively in previous posts but decided it deserved its own post. It's a good fragrance and worthy of having many fans. The only notes I could find online for Dana English Leather (1949) are citrus, woods, moss and leather, but I also smell a powdery white musk, and a clean (not indolic), delicately sweet note of orange blossom as you'll find in 4711. It has an acidic, tart opening that makes me think of tarragon or basil, something herbaceous and sharp, then it turns into a warm and woody, spicy tobacco scent. It's not a thick leather scent but more or less a thin, cologne splash-type of sheer (but still in the heavy range notewise) leather blend, although in certain weather, I think it could come across as being much heavier and spicier. I really like this easy-to-find classic in the Tobacco-Leather fragrance family, and feel glad I tried it again before writing it off. I'd recommend this to people who are looking for an everyday cologne who want something leathery but also a bit nuzzly warm and powdery soft. It's not as sweet as I once thought, either, and rather tart, but again, different weather might bring out any aspect of this sharp, woody (heavy) fragrance. It's a very traditionally masculine and old-fashioned scent but women could so easily wear this, if you want the antithesis of the sweet traditional flowery thing and like it dry and woody with a good deal of retro.

To compare to other leather scents, Dana English Leather is less like a saddle and more like citrusy floral tobacco. Without animalic notes such as honey, civet, castoreum or heavily indolic jasmine, it's the easiest to wear among the leathers I've tested this past month. Imagine a spicier, woodier Canoe and I think you get the picture. It's a bit "aftershavey" to me, but then, so is Canoe.

By the way, leathers and heavy woods seem to have been the trend in the late 1940s-1950s. I wonder why that is, but it makes sense that scents like Dana English Leather (1949) and Hermès Doblis (1950) would set the stage for the launching of Cabochard by Grès (1959).

(Image: kousui.belmo.com)

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Creed Royal English Leather



Creed Royal English Leather (1780) is a classic leather scent for Men featuring leather notes and citrus (tangerine) top notes. According to Basenotes, this fragrance was enjoyed by the Kings of England, George III and George V. I love the opening the most, when it starts as a mild and sweet, soft, finely powdered leather, subtly spicy and not unlike my current favorite, Guerlain Cuir Beluga. However, Creed Royal English Leather dries down to a much more headshoppy, pungently musky sandalwood fragrance, bringing it closer to the Elsha 1776 realm but more refined. At this stage, I'm reminded of the woody, dry powderiness of Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie without the vanilla. It's one of the nicest leathers I've discovered in my rawhide-related journey in the past month. Smoky, yes, but this one doesn't remind me of beef jerky nor is it like rubber tires as many birth tar-dominated leathers tend to smell, and more of an upscale leather goods store where smooth, buttery leather is the order of the day...worn by a maharishi, which is utterly perturbing if you think about it too much.

This is (qualitywise) much better than that Yardley stuff (correction: I meant English Leather by Dana, a drugstore brand, the maker of Canoe and Tabu), but it is kind of a heavy scent like that (and actually, the Dana is lighter and maybe more wearable). I still can't help but wonder what the fascination was with leather perfumes among royalty. Was it some kind of inside joke, to smell like perfumed and powdered gloves? Did people just love that smell and request it to be made into perfume? As obnoxious as the smell of leather in and of itself was (which is why people perfumed leather), perhaps the scent of perfume and leather combined was strong enough to mask other, much harsher odors of the day. For starters, folks didn't bathe too often in those days in many parts of the world, did they?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Marian Bendeth On the Web


Hot off the perfumista press: Visit Basenotes for the latest article by Global Fragrance Expert Marian Bendeth of Sixth Scents: Inspirations and distillations of a perfumer ~ Scent Treks through Time by Marian Bendeth, 02 June 2008.



Also read this article to get a glimpse into Marian's head when she works as a Fragrance Profiler: Scent-imental about mom: Perfume can be the perfect option, if chosen properly - by Liza Herz, www.canada.com

Marian Bendeth is a Global Fragrance Expert based out of Toronto, Canada. SixthSen@aol.com

Monday, June 02, 2008

David Bendeth - Producer Extraordinaire



Here's one of my favorite recordings, Breaking Benjamin "The Diary of Jane", a powerful song produced by one of the greatest producers of all time, David Bendeth (www.davidbendeth.com). If you think his name sounds familiar and you're not even into this music, maybe you've heard of his sister, the fabulous Marian Bendeth of Sixth Scents--no kidding. :-) He's produced many bands and artists I dig from 40 Below Summer to Bruce Hornsby, and I love so many songs he's worked on, I worship the man.

This band rocks but David Bendeth himself is an accomplished musician and outstanding guitarist. This post is just to say thanks for all the music.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Wedding Trend: Throwing Birdseed, Not Rice

Although the busiest wedding season is in the autumn for New Yorkers, June brings to mind weddings. I wanted to help clarify something I've been hearing often, that the reason we throw birdseed instead of rice nowadays is to protect the birds from eating them and exploding (this is an urban legend), but according to the Church Center for the United Nations, the reason is to not waste precious food (rice) and instead, to throw food to the birds and not human food supply to the ground.

Another sensible option if you don't want to get pelted by overzealous seed throwers is to throw flower petals or blow bubbles from a solution made from biodegradable soap.

Happy June!


Ralph Lauren Blue

Something old, something new
Something borrowed, something blue
And a silver sixpence in her shoe.


If you're going to choose something blue for a wedding, let it be Ralph Lauren Blue. This is such a soft, pretty fragrance. I loved it instantly when I discovered it at Sephora a few years back; although I'm still working on finishing up my mini bottle, when I want a Floral that's aqueous but not obviously so, this is my pick. Dewy and subtle, Ralph Lauren Blue is a watery white floral on a transparent musk base, like the shy side of Marc Jacobs or Kate Spade. I think it's well-mannered enough to go from the office to a date on the weekends, and to an elegant formal affair. It's easy-going and preppy but not stuffy, fresh but not too sporty.

Notes on Amazon.com:
RALPH LAUREN BLUE perfume by Ralph Lauren was launched in 2004. This soft floral fragrance melts into the skin with soft notes of lotus flower, gardenia and pink peony, exotic blossoms such as tuberose, rose de mai, and orange flower enriched with musk, ambrette, and sandalwood

(Image: www.pcidata.net)

Molinard Les Senteurs

Molinard Les Senteurs is a delightful line of simple yet satisfying single note fragrances that are beautifully crafted and easy to wear. My personal favorites in the line include Fraise (which seems to be discontinued), Mûre and Vanille. All of these are layerable with each other. Fraise is a delectable juicy strawberry; Mûre is a rich and sweet, deep, dark blackberry, and Vanille is a sweet and woody vanilla (but to describe its scent, it's a creamy vanilla rather than woody, even with its patchouli base, like ice cream rather than a smoky "where's the vanilla?" vanilla). The tall and slim cobalt blue glass apothecary style bottles are lovely to display, and if you can still find them, they are a great value at affordable prices.