Friday, October 31, 2008

A Halloween Top 20 List

Fay Wray, 1930s Queen of Scream

I posted the pictures of Jacomo Silences (1978), ad and logo, even though the perfume's not one of my favorites, because I thought the vibe was kind of eerie, very Halloween-like. The name alone - Silences - creeps me out, like I wanna jump out of my skin and SCREAM at the designer who'll silence me, but the scent is actually pretty nice: a Green Floral (with that 1970s aldehydic-chypre thing going on), like a Chanel No.19 (1970) imposter. Anyway, I figured Halloween would be as good a time as any to make another Top 10 Favorites List, so here you have it. In fact, I got carried away in the spirit of things (ooh, bad pun and all) and made it a Top 20 just as I'd made back in September. It's not really in definitive sequential order, since I love many of these perfumes equally, and you'll see some of my loves from the last list didn't make it this time. I make no apologies for my fickle nature, but you'll also see some of my favorites keep coming back as staples in my wardrobe. Currently, rich white florals, ladylike Aldehydic Florals and deep Orientals have me swooning like the leaves in vibrant, passionate shades.

I'll start the list with none other than my own creation which I'm wearing today, because I want that dark, brooding, passionate and sophisticated vibe (available on my website at in very limited quantity). In truth, I could have gone with any on my list and it would have suited the mood, but I'm finding these dark fruits dipped in dark chocolate-ambery woods, cooled by hyacinth and touched by plush, velvety magnolia petals, most enchanting and bewitching in that modern-gothic way. Waft beautifully~ Happy Halloween!

1. Sali Oguri Persephone New York
2. Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion
3. Guerlain Nahema
4. Caron Nuit de Noel
5. Guerlain Cuir Beluga
6. Chanel No.5
7. Chanel Gardenia
8. Guerlain L'Instant
9. Nina Ricci Nina
10. Hermes Un Jardin Apres la Mousson
11. Guerlain Liu
12. Creed Spring Flower
13. Bond No.9 Saks Fifth Avenue For Her
14. Ralph Lauren Ralph Wild
15. Jean Patou Joy
16. Guerlain L'Heure Bleue
17. Caron En Avion
18. Chanel No.22
19. Marc Jacobs Daisy
20. Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie

P.S. - I've been back in the recording studio, so I'll be posting less often, but I promise to be back periodically. Stay in touch! xo


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Avon Bond Girl 007

This new fragrance by Avon is sure to atract some fans. It's a Fruity Floral: fresh with orangey tones, not quite mindblowingly different from the mainstream but easy to like, a pretty blend with equal amounts of floral, fruity and Oriental notes. It's just slightly extroverted (meaning it carries some sillage) but not overdone "sexy". It's sort of like Clinique Happy crossed with a very faint Jessica Simpson Fancy-type of vanillic base. I hope the Halle Berry fragrance in the making (launching next year, or so I've heard) lives up to this Bond Girl scent. The real Bond Girl deserves a spectacular fragrance.

Some Hannah Montana For Ya

I love playing this song on piano, so I hope you'll sing along with me. Written by songwriters Djafari Toodeshki, Negin; Gad, Tobias - I think this is a great song, and the production of the Miley Cyrus recording is also pretty tight.

Speaking of Hannah Montana, the eponymous singer deserves a better perfume than the crappy one that's out there. Elizabeth Arden, are you listening?

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion

Here's another grand beauty of a perfume I'd neglected for some time, but I've returned to it and decided I love it with all my heart. It's been said its creator, Annick Goutal, didn't personally care for this creation, but I'm not sure if this is only a rumor; after all, I don't know too many independent creators who bother making something they don't like themselves. True or not, Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion is just as heady as her personal signature scent, Annick Goutal Passion, only it's a pure gardenia (or tuberose-gardenia) soliflore compared to the ambery tuberose blend of Passion. Although neither scent is for the timid, I would say Passion is the sweeter, heavier or lower-pitched of the two, and Gardenia Passion the fresher, brighter and greener, with a signature tomato leaf note weaving through the buttery, delicious gardenia note bordering on tuberose in its rich, intense, narcotic effect.

It starts out smelling a bit raw and natural as many essential oils do before they're balanced within a blend, but I find the dry down stage more refined, a real composition balanced with expertise. I'd describe it as a lush, intoxicating, full-bodied tropical flowery dry down that lingers and has impressive sillage. The gardenia note in it reminds me of the gardenia in another favorite of mine, Bond No.9 Saks Fifth Avenue For Her (love love LOVE), and also of the buttery tuberose in Santa Maria Novella Tuberosa. It's not the violet-candied tuberose I find in Robert Piguet Fracas or Versace Blonde, yet they are easily related. Unlike Fracas, the legendary mother of this white floral genre, I don't find it jasmine-y at all, but true to the tuberose-gardenia note. Of these, my two favorites are Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion and Bond No.9 Saks Fifth Avenue For Her, and if I am to compare them, Saks For Her is the slightly more candied in a vanillic-caramelly, Gourmand way if you will, and Gardenia Passion the more Floral, as well as natural-smelling and again, greener, lending an assertive, slightly in-your-face bite, fine with me since I like a bit of edge in my florals.

Rosanna Arquette is known to have loved this fragrance (she's also known to have loved Jo Malone scents; their Tuberose would be my guess). My Mom has recently taken to this beautiful fragrance, too, so I think this year, I'm getting her this instead of Michael by Michael Kors. :-)


Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion was launched in 1989. Listed notes according to my sources are orange blossom, gardenia, tuberose and jasmine on an oakmoss base.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Race on the Campaign Trail

On the same day (today) that The Boston Globe has come out to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president, they've come out with a powerful editorial, McCain plays the race card By Derrick Z. Jackson, Globe Columnist / October 14, 2008. I am glad to see that Congressman John Lewis' (and my own) thoughts on the progress of this campaign are echoed by this article. I disagree with the pundits on CNN that Congressman John Lewis went too far in comparing McCain to George Wallace, and I absolutely think it's despicable to demand an apology from Obama for Mr. Lewis' comments. I would prefer to see an earnest show of shame from McCain for the kind of angry, racist fans he attracts. I would be mortified by a monkey doll at my rally, with people standing around laughing it off. Perhaps it is Mccain who should apologize to Obama for the lack of respect his followers are demonstrating to the world.

While I'm on the topic of race on the campaign trail, I wanted to say that the whole Reverend Wright issue is also racially biased. His view of the USA getting what it deserved on 9/11 is of course a radical and in my eyes an outrageous, misguided view, but it's no different than the one Jews For Jesus shared at Palin's former Alaskan church, the view that Israel gets attacked because the people haven't accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah. However, I also try not to generalize, and I don't believe all Christians think this way. No groups are monolithic, and that's one truth I know reality can vouch for. After all, Palin doesn't speak for all Christians, or all "gals" for that matter.

If we're to take issue with Rev. Wright, we would need to look at the whole Christian teaching of Sodom and Gomorrah, and treat black and white churches with the same standard. I have disdain for twisting any teaching to make the victims somehow responsible for the crimes committed against them. The way the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is usually interpreted and taught by churches today is that cities like Sodom and Gomorrah get what they deserve based on the lack of righteousness of their citizens. To think anyone deserved ill fate is heartless, no matter who or what city we're calling on as an example, but I don't think that was the intended point of either Rev. Wright or the Jews for Jesus preacher. Still, ignorance is ignorance, no matter where it comes from. If I may share some theological views of my own, to me, this is the problem with the whole concept of teaching God's Will, predestination or fate. Saying people deserve their fate (or that it simply is fate) is the same as believing in karma, or The Secret Doctrine by Blavatsky, all pagan in its origin, ancient and esoteric, magic-minded. Did I say ancient? It's as old as racism and the whole idea that we are subdivisions of race competing for survival.

Anyway, to return to the original topic of McCain playing the race card, I wouldn't expect anything else from someone who has used many racial epithets before, including "gooks" and "tar baby" (which wasn't racist in context and he did apologize for it, but geesh...who says that anymore?). I'm just happy someone besides John Lewis has acknowledged what's going on, because I'm tired of people saying there's no racism since they don't see the racism. They wouldn't be racists if they did.


Related readings -
Choosing to be victims? Nietzsche thought so: Nietzsche on Master and Slave Morality, PY-111

Read more about Master-slave morality on Wikipedia.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Henry "Box" Brown

Every child needs to read Henry's Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, and every adult in America should at least be familiar with this true story of a runaway slave in Virginia whose 3 children and wife were ripped away from him against his will, who burned his own hand to the bone with vitriol to get a day off from work so he can ship himself in a crate, with the help of abolitionists, to the free Northern state of Pennsylvania. For every person who thinks African Americans should shut up or "stop whining about racism", there is someone whose heart would be touched by such a story, and who would understand that terror takes longer to leave a person's soul than just a couple of generations. After all, we inherit our family's pain because we love them, and considering many people alive today still have memories that haunt them such as segregation (separate water fountains, schools, not being allowed in restaurants) as recently as in the 1960s, a few generations aren't really that long ago in history, not enough to erase the kinds of wounds we probably can't even fathom. This Columbus Day, I hope we take time to hear a different, yet equally true and important, part of American history than we might have traditionally been taught.

It doesn't take much to plainly see how racism hasn't left our lives here in the United States and elsewhere, especially where people don't come in contact with people of African descent on a regular basis. I pray we all learn a little sensitivity and empathy so we can create a more peaceful world. We cry out when it hurts. We can not tell people what is and isn't racist any more than we can tell women what is and isn't sexist. That would be ignorance. So when will we stop to listen? It's not too late to be part of the solution.

Finally, to those white-eyed and disillusioned ones who still don't understand why we need sensitivity, I will say stop trying to microanalyze everything into a neat little "what's-perfectly-fair-or-unfair" box, and try a little human compassion. It takes the place of judgment and makes us kinder = better people.

Read: Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown, Written by Himself: Electronic Edition. Henry Box Brown, b. 1816

Read more about Henry "Box" Brown on Wikipedia.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Caron Nuit de Noël

Caron Nuit de Noël (1922) is said to be the mother of my first Caron love - in fact, my first perfume love - Caron Nocturnes (1981). I never smelled the similarity between the two until today. Indeed, both creations are Aldehydic Florals with a wooded, powdery oakmoss base, with a heart of white florals including jasmine and ylang ylang. Nocturnes is the higher-pitched and more modern sparkling version, while Nuit de Noël is the sumptuous, base-heavy (think acoustic bass, finger-plucked) retro-modern classic. The composition of Nuit de Noël is very similar to Chanel No.5 (1921), credited for being the first Aldehydic Floral. I recognize in Chanel No.5 a Chypre-inspired, woody-mossy and softened Russian Leather accord which seems to have been popular during the 1920s as witnessed in perfumes of the era such as Weil Zibeline (1928) and Guerlain Djedi (1927). Although historically there are a couple of other Aldehydic Floral perfumes that came before Chanel No.5 such as Armingeat Reve D'Or (1905) and Caron's own Infini, originally created in 1912, Chanel No.5 was the hit that changed the course of perfumery during its era. It's no wonder the Aldehydic Floral family becamse the popular genre of the time, and Nuit de Noël certainly fit in with the new abstract (modern) floral trend.

However, Nuit de Noël is a classic masterpiece of its own, not to be confused with Chanel No.5 in its unique depth and ultrachic elegance. The most understated and chic of all the Caron collection (in my opinion, of course), Nuit de Noël takes awhile to understand. Like an intricate jazz piece or performance, it leaves in the dust those who have no advanced musical knowledge with which to follow its complexity. This is Billy Strayhorn played by John Coltrane, or Thelonious Monk, to Glenn Miller's simplified Big Band Pop music made for the mainstream's listening and dancing pleasure. There's a certain level at which you can't fake knowledge anymore, and Nuit de Noël hits that point in perfume appreciation the way Eric Dolphy might purge the less musically and rhymically inclined.

At first sniff, Nuit de Noël smells inky. That could be the dark and mysterious “mousse de saxe” or Saxon moss accord made famous by perfumer Ernest Daltroff, said to smell of ink. If I'm patient and allow myself to tune in with a focused yet open mind, I can smell the aldehydic top notes, the cool, damp mossiness underlying the deeply wooded floor of sandalwood, cedar, vetiver and even leather, more animalic tones, perhaps civet, and finally, I can detect rose. The rose gives it a red wine-like, somewhat dusky effect. Then, I could also detect spices, like Christmas potpourri, but muted and never jangly or sharp, and the whole thing is orchestrated to be as soft as velvet skin, with the classic Caron powdery finish. Not to be outdone by Guerlain, there's a touch of vanillic sweetness that doesn't let it veer towards Gourmand, controlled and ever disciplined, but seductively, rightfully, there. It's not as sweet as I like my perfumes on most days, but when I want something dry, this is dry like fine wine. All together, Nuit de Noël is something that might require mature taste to fully appreciate, but with a perfume like Nuit de Noel, there's always a new plateau to reach in scent discoveries.

(Image: Caron Nuit de Noël ad, 1959)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

MC Yogi: Obama '08 - Vote for Hope

Visit MC Yogi on You Tube

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Nuclear Power Plants and Childhood Leukemia

Childhood Leukemia in the Vicinity of the Geesthacht Nuclear Establishments near Hamburg, Germany by Wolfgang Hoffmann,1 Claudia Terschueren,1 and David B. Richardson, Institute for Community Medicine, Section Epidemiology of Health Care and Community Health, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt University of Greifswald, Greifswald, Germany; 2Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA - Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 115, Number 6, June 2007

Childhood leukemia in Germany: cluster identified near nuclear power plant, June, 2007 by Valerie J. Brown, BNET Business Network

Please read these and the many articles that can be found on studies correlating childhood leukemia cases and living near nuclear reactors. There is a reason we don't X-ray pregnant women; it's because fetuses exposed to radiation result in an increase of childhood leukemia. The radiation that leaks from a nuclear reactor is no different. Radiation disease might not even show up for 30, 40, 50 years, making it harder to prove that the reactor you lived next to was the cause of disease. Nuclear reactors are also linked to higher breast cancer rates in women and lung cancers in men, but the industry will tell you it was natural sunlight or simply "living" that cause cancer. It's a no win situation for us but a great gain for the industry for whom nuclear energy is the next "big oil".

Although I would like to believe Obama will win in November, I'm afraid many people will elect McCain for president whose number one priority and answer to saving the economy is building a bunch of nuclear power plants. In fact, many Democrats are gungho about nuclear energy, no different than Republicans on this issue. Above all, we want energy independence and to save our economy. I think men in general like the idea of doing something innovative with dangerous materials, to conquer them. It all sounds heroic and cool but this is not the future I want. Saying nuclear power is a good option because England, France, Germany and Japan have implemented it successfully isn't telling the whole truth. Japan had a leak on September 30, 1999 and 320,000 people were told to stay in and close the windows. Please. Radiation goes through walls. This is our future here if we want it.

I pray this country elects someone more prudent than one who can't wait to build a reactor in our backyard, but no matter who is elected, this is a topic that needs to be discussed, and I pray we don't ignore the canaries in the coalmine. It's only in this generation that people have begun to think of radiation as something relatively safe. In an effort to sound tough, smart, up-to-date, to be innovative and competitive, we deny problems such as leaks that happen all the time and are covered up. We say, "We're the #1 country and we can't mess up". But what if? No what ifs - we're too great a nation to ever fail. But what if it's my child who gets sick? The industry will always tell you radiation is safe because they are in the nuclear energy business. Who will you listen to: them, backed by the scientists they hire to say everything is A-OK wink wink, or the people who are living the nightmare right now and warning us from across the seas before it's too late?

McCain Nuclear Energy Revival May Cost $315 Billion (Update1) By Elliot Blair Smith,, Last Updated: September 11, 2008

Obama Ad Attacks McCain on Yucca Mountain By Sarah Wheaton, The Caucus, The New York Times Politics Blog, August 9, 2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Guerlain Vega

I have had the pleasure and blessing of being able to wear a generous decant from a perfume friend, and now have the vintage parfum before me. This is a very lovely, exquisite scent, a lot like Chanel No.5, an Aldehydic Floral, but sweeter, and very soft, like Guerlain Liu, with a very sheer vanillic base. It's just a little fizzy and dries down with a sweet, evanescent tone. It's like a powdery gossamer scent woven with vanilla lace thread. I like this one a lot. Born in 1936, it smells more like a 1920s creation to me.

(Iamge: Art deco advertising by Darcy, 20th Century Ads blog)

Monday, October 06, 2008

Chanel Les Exclusifs Beige

The retro-timewarping ladylike era of the new Silent Generation has come to a full head with the launching of Chanel Les Exclusifs Beige. This is Chanel's sophisticated skin musk, the first of its kind. I think it went where Hermès Kelly Calèche and Guerlain Cruel Gardenia wanted to go but couldn't: into the mainstream. Chanel Beige is actually a bit too violet candylike for me, sharpened by a spicy, almondine hawthorn note so the note is a bit piercing, but the overall scent composition is an understated wooded skin musk along the lines of Cacharel Noa. It's a very likable fragrance, particularly for the Cashmere Mist-loving Gen Y (or Gen Y-like, meaning you appreciate the scents of the '90s) perfumistas out there.

The listed notes are hawthorn, freesia, frangipani and honey, but I believe what I smell here is violet, maybe because of the candied accord. It gives the impression of orris, which makes many people happy while for me, it makes me slightly uneasy, like the second coming of Niki de St. Phalle of the '80s (or Liz Claiborne Vivid for a '90s reference). Don't let me scare ya - Beige is a very nice scent, and I think it will gain in fans over time if people don't mind it being a sharp but quiet, not very sillagey scent, easily perceived by those who prefer more extroverted perfumes as a bit too colorless and boring.

Did Chanel knowingly correlate the color beige with a skin scent? It's something to ponder, since it shouldn't be taken for granted (as people did back in the '70s and even the '80s) that people the world over come in a shade of "nude". I'm not saying Chanel is guilty here but it has to be said racism was so very trendy this year and the time has come to stop.


Guerlain Djedi

Guerlain Djedi is the essence of materialism to me, but for that reason, I can see its gilded, magical appeal to many. Heavy, perfumey, dark, leathery and aldehydic, dramatic and complex, interesting but not memorable. Born in 1927, it smells like a 1920s semi-Chypre Russian leather composition, in the way Chanel No.5 (1921), Lanvin Arpege (1927), Caron Nuit de Noel (1922) and Weil Zibeline (1928) do. It has that Russian leather character combined with spicy, sweet Oriental elements. It is unique, almost comparable to the bitter and dry leather masterpiece Piguet Bandit, Cher Uninhibited, Miss Dior or Dioressence, Hermes Doblis and maybe Marilyn Miglin Pheromone. They are all dark and green scents, almost masculine in their austerity. I could also briefly compare it to vintage Millot Crepe de Chine (which I have smelled in its original form, not just the remake from Long Lost Perfume), a thoroughly mossy concoction, and they'd all take me back to Guerlain Mitsouko (1919) which takes me back to Coty Chypre.

According to Michael Edwards, Chypres are known to become most popular post war, so that might explain the somewhat aggressive, severe character of Chypres. However, Djedi is softened by sweet Oriental notes as many flapper era perfumes were, following the success of Guerlain Shalimar. (Edited to add) Upon retesting Djedi, I thought it smelled like a cross between Chant d'Aromes and "a men's belt". It starts out aldehydic and fizzy but it's more of an animalic leather Chypre than I initially thought, and still a bit sweet and Guerlinadesque. I do like it, and it still reminds me strongly of Zibeline, just drier, more leathery. I'm eating my own words that it's not a very memorable creation. It is sadly discontinued but a wonderful creation, a fragrance any woman or man could wear. I'm not sure which I would prefer to have revived: Djedi or Zibeline, but the term "parfum fourrure" aptly fits both. Finally, it dawns on me that Djedi is very, very close to Jean Patou Chaldée, also launched in 1927.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Estée Lauder Aliage

Estée Lauder's 1972 "sports fragrance" had nothing to do with sportif or an aqueous, marine accord but an aesthetic that correlated the smells of nature (green) with being an outdoorsy individual. Naturally, people played tennis, golf or polo outdoors, on the green, and Aliage would be perfect for such events. By today's standard, Aliage wouldn't seem like activewear but more like a thoroughly vintage green Chypre perfume, but it has a freshness that you might not expect to smell in such a retro, classic 1970s scent. Compared to Estée Lauder Estée, Aliage has more clarity and less floralcy. It's a foresty, leafy scent, almost as freshly leafy as Pierre Balmain Vent Vert but not quite, much darker, more foresty. Imagine O de Lancome in all its citric, mossy green glory, and bring it down two octaves. Aliage smells like a woman in tweed who has an athletic build underneath the wide legged pants that camouflage her figure the way a long skirt would have a decade or two before. Although Jean Patou had made a sports perfume for women back in the 1930s, with Aliage, American beauty guru Estée Lauder brought back the image of the strong, active woman when the idea of a woman wearing pants was still far from mainstream. Acceptance takes a long time where people are reluctant to change, but thank goodness for Aliage and fabulous pantsuits that boldly took women to the workplace. Revlon Charlie would be born just a year later, in 1973.

Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy

Nope, not a fave, but it was among the new launches I tried recently that I thought was OK. It was, like Harajuku Lovers OK. It's billed as a Floral, but this is a more Oriental-Gourmand blend than Juicy Couture's first launch. I like the berries in the blend very much. I like the sweet notes of caramel and pralines cut by airiness, making it a light, daytime-friendly Gourmand with a hint of floral. I don't like the synthetic aspect of it that makes it smell a bit like dishwashing liquid. I don't like the generic and now incredibly redundant patchouli base that makes it smell like any other mall scent alongside Bagley Mischka and Betsey Johnson. Still, if you decide to go fragrance sniffing, try this one, as it might leave you pleasantly surprised. One more thing: I don't think the childish graffiti font they used for this fragrance is cool or lovely in the least, but the hot pink ribbon on the bottle is kind of cute and girly in a retro Fracas or Schiaparelli way. Pink's all right with me, even if we're talking about the slightly tacky pink Cadillac of scents.

(Images: Teamsugar,

Saturday, October 04, 2008

My Sampling Day

This is a smorgasbord of sampling experiences in one post. To begin, I went to Sephora yesterday and found that there was neither anything new nor noteworthy to sniff. I briefly smelled the new Marc Jacobs Gardenia splash and thought it smelled like his first launch made by Coty, the eponymous Marc Jacobs' signature. The bottle is the same large rectangular bottle as his other splashes: Rain, Grass, Violet and Amber. My guess is that these single note splashes are fairly popular since there's a new note launching every season. I wish they'd do a Pomegranate for the winter, and maybe an iris. What the hey - perhaps they can expand into a line of soaps and lotions like Caswell Massey. Meanwhile, I look forward to the next perfume launch after Daisy which I really adored this year.

I also tried Ralph Lauren Notorious and hated it. I thought the scent strip in the magazine was bad, but the real thing is equally horrid, a cacophany of notes I can only describe as a saliva accord. I'm sure there are fans of this completely unsweet citric patchouli scent, but to me, it's the second coming of the leathery patchouli-heavy 1959 heavyweight Chypre, Cabochard, only "modernized" (but in actuality smells neoclassical, not mod). Keep in mind I also dislike Estée Lauder Knowing, Halston and many heavyweight classic patch scents from the '50s, '60s, '70s and the power-Chypre scents of the '80s which were retro even then. This is the worst thing Ralph Lauren's come out with since Chaps (1980).

This weekend, I am home testing vintage beauties and some new (or newer, I should say) launches, so here are my brief thoughts. I'll start with Guerlain Voilette de Madame, a precious sample my friend in Germany had sent me awhile back. This is a nice scent, a woody-vanillic aromatic-green Floral Oriental type, one I could compare to Guerlain Cologne du 68. They both remind me of Kilian Taste of Heaven. I would say these are semi-spicy and sweet woody-vanillic scents with a hint of Fougere. Imagine a more elegant and somewhat masculine Dior Addict and I think you are close. They also remind me of Guerlain Angelique Noire but that already reminded me of Addict.

Guerlain Vega: (I'm sorry for this but I was testing the wrong scent when I wrote this review. The scent I'm talking about here is Lancome Climat which I somehow got mixed up with Vega. My Vega review has been rewritten and moved here.) Sharp and aldehydic, green, powdery, unsweet, familar but not memorable. In a similar vein, I prefer Caron Infini. It's also not far off from Jean Patou Caline, but I suppose there are tons of fragrances that fit the description of a green aldehydic floral with chypre elements, since it was the popular accord of the past. It's amazing how the fragrance industry has succeeded in bringing back these classic scents the way they've made the cinch-waisted (made by male designers to make us look more like women) fashion sense of the post 1947 (New Look) era, popular and "modern" again. It smells to me like a '60s or '70s scent (like Trigere Liquid Chic, Yardley Oh! de London).

Guerlain Sous le Vent: Sharp, green not sweet, also well made, understated and stylish but also kind of masculine (in that herbaceous, Fougere-ish way), slightly boring and not memorable. My friend says this scent born in 1933 was once a beloved scent of Josephine Baker. Because she is also associated with Jean Patou Amour Amour (1925), my guess is she liked light fragrances. Did she also wear Joy (1930)? I am somewhat curious, since I have always adored Joy, the classic bombshell jasmine rose that doesn't skimp on sweetness the way Sous le Vent does. Heck, if you're as charming as Josephine was, I suppose you could wear ketchup and smell beautiful. Anyway, Sous le Vent is light but sharp and clear, sort of like Sisley Eau de Campagne. (Edited to add) It's quite cinnamon-spicy amidst all the green, citrusy chypre notes, reminding me of Caron Alpona and Eau de Guerlain.

Guerlain Djedi: (Edited) According to Michael Edwards, Chypres are known to become most popular post war, so that might explain the somewhat aggressive, severe character of Chypres. However, Djedi is softened by sweet Oriental notes as many flapper era perfumes were, following the success of Guerlain Shalimar. For those of you who are returning to this post, I'd written a long review of Djedi, far exceeding what I'd anticipated writing, and I realize now Djedi deserved its own post. Please read about my thoughts on Djedi here.

OK, I've got one more: Annick Goutal Mandragore. Wow, this is the sharpest fragrance I've ever smelled. If a razor blade had a scent, this would be it. It's a citrus fragrance, so if most lemon scents aren't piercing enough, try Mandragore.

(Image: What Happened to Rosie?,

Friday, October 03, 2008

Chanel Gardenia

Long before there was Marc Jacobs' take on gardenia, there was Chanel Gardenia. It's been years since I wore Chanel Gardenia but here I am back in love with it, and I don't think I'll ever be without it again. It's such a beautiful white floral fragrance, truly in a class of its own. Gardenia was originally created in 1925. It was part of the classic Rue Cambon series. Although I doubt the current version is the same as the 1925 launch, I'm glad the Gardenia smells as it does now. It's a floral bouquet but one in which you can't specifically pick out any one flower (although it is predominantly a jasmine blend), and it has a light and transparent, but never sporty, feel. Imagine gardenias blooming in a crystal room, and you might be able to imagine the luminous scent of Chanel Gardenia.

I could probably compare it most closely with Pure Tiffany and L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons, but Chanel Gardenia has a slightly sweeter floral heart. Compared to Marc Jacobs' scent, Chanel Gardenia is devoid of any noticeable skin musk accord, and dries down cleanly. In a way, I am also reminded of Kate Spade EDP, also a pretty scent, but I feel that Kate Spade is more "flowery", greener (sharper) and perhaps heavier. The white floral heart of Chanel Gardenia with orange blossom and tuberose in the mix almost smells candied, but the overall scent is still a lovely and elegant one. It doesn't smell too retro-classic, nor too commonplace and mainstream - like a perfect wedding day in September in New York City, it's crisp and sophisticated, a polite, polished white floral with a lively burst of joy. I can make Chanel Gardenia my signature scent if pressed, but since I don't have to absolutely choose just one, I'm delighted to have it as part of my most beloved year-round collection.

Jan Moran's notes:
Chanel Gardenia (1925/93, Floral)
Top Notes: Absolutes of jasmine, gardenia, orange blossom, tuberose
Heart Notes: Clove, sage, pimiento
Base Notes: Musk, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Remembering Paul Newman

Gosh, what a sad loss for all of us. I loved Paul Newman in Paris Blues. I'm grateful for his many contributions to the world in his lifetime - we are all a little richer because of him.

See and hear a clip from the film here on You Tube.

Visit for a fun factoid re: Paul Newman's trombone playing in the film.

Creed Les Floralies

My grandmother on my mother's side was a published haiku poet and master of Japanese arts such as shamisen (Japanese banjo playing), ikebana (flower arrangement) and sadō (ocha, or tea ceremony). I learned traditional tea ceremony in my youth, and I remember performing it for people and also partaking in the ceremony as a guest. I loved the little sweets we could eat before drinking the borderline bitter (yet savory which I liked) ceremony-grade tea, the precious bright green powder brewed by hand. The discipline itself was an experience to savor as well. Each step, like a dance, made sense within the sequence to usher the next one in, and every move had some meaning, practical, spiritual or both. However, traditional Japanese tea wasn't something I got to practice nor partake in all the time, and I think attempting to perform it now would prove as successful as an attempt at a grand jetté. I'll stick to perfuming for now. Creed Les Floralies, which this past weekend the SA at the Creed counter at Saks told me they're taking pre-orders for and would be officially launching shortly, is a fragrance inspired by the aromas of an ancient Japanese tea ceremony inside a tea house on the flowering grounds of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo (back when Tokyo was called Edo) featuring notes such as chrysanthemum (the national flower of Japan), plum and of course, green tea. I had walked 20 blocks in the rain round trip to go smell it, and I'm happy I did.

One thing I'm confused about is the name: I thought it would be called Floralie, but the tester at the counter was clearly "Les Floralies". Now, is it my imagination or was there a fragrance by that name already? Perhaps it was only offered as a room fragrance, but could it be the same scent? I believe Les Floralies launched in the early 2000s. I had never gotten around to smelling it, so I'm glad they've decided to issue a version of the fragrance to be worn on the skin - if in fact that is what they did. As for the scent itself, Les Floralies is at first sniff similar to Creed Love In White for its fresh, soft floralcy with an underscoring of soft fruits, Spring Flower for its full heart of jasmine and rose (I smelled the jasmine I know in both Spring Flower and Jasmal right away), and L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons for the light tuberose note I detect in it (perhaps that's the chrysanthemum). The scent also reminds me vaguely of Jean Patou Un Amour de Patou, another light but full-bodied, sort of green and fresh floral bouquet with subtle fruit notes (appley to my nose) and a traditional rose-jasmine heart. Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau de Camelia Chinois, Chanel Gardenia and Pure Tiffany also come to mind, but for me, Un Amour de Patou, Creed Love In White and Spring Flower come closest to its overall character. Many of these have been my favorite scents over the years, and so I was pleased to be reminded of them.

For me, Les Floralies captured this elusive concept of "the gentle breeze of the way of tea" in my mind, by displaying both refinement and a spontaneous, improvisational lightness of being. I enjoyed the carefully balanced measures, the absence of anything unappealing such as obvious white musk, ozone or harsh, sharp notes, and that it's not a stuffy, aloof and intimidating scent as one might imagine of a green scent. The white floral note I perceive as tuberose is slightly sharp in the sense that it's green and punchy, like a seringa or mimosa note, but it's a friendly floral accord, and the plum is a good-humored yet still elegant contrapuntal note. For a full-hearted floral, it's on the delicate side, comparable to L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons; however, Les Floralies leans more towards a floral bouquet than the citric, almost light chypre-like (similar to 4711) effervescence of La Chasse. The floral notes in Les Floralies are somewhat concentrated and make for a high-pitched floral with a semi-languid, semi-retro "flowery" feel (remember Charles Jourdan Un Jour?). The name, Les Floralies, is fitting, but I would have been equally drawn to this fragrance had it been named Love In White (and it would have conveyed the simplicity and purity-seeking asthetic of the transcendental nature of Japanese Arts).

Read more about chrysanthemums in Japan: Things Japanese:
Kiku - Chrysanthemum

(Image: 1. Kitagawa Utamaro, "Flowers of Edo: Young Woman's Narrative Chanting to the Samisen", ca. 1880, 2. Imperial Seal of Japan,