Saturday, November 29, 2008

Le Cherche Midi

My idea of the best stocking stuffer is the little golden pouch filled with sample spray glass vials of Le Cherche Midi fragrances! I got mine as an early holiday gift for myself - $12 for 6 generous samples at These are room fragrances that are skin safe. I must say these smell terrific as room scents, and also worn on skin which is important to me since I am a perfumista. These fragrances are simple and very well-composed blends, and I think they should have wide appeal.

Here are my brief thoughts on each:

01: The signature fragrance by Le Cherche Midi is a light, lemony lavender blend, herbaceous, a bit sporty-aqueous, like a men's fragrance, or the top notes of Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche but not as sweet. I like it, but I gave this one to Fred and he likes it even more.

05: Green - If you like GAP Grass or Marc Jacobs Grass, this is a less sweet option that's plenty grassy. It's not too aggressively pine-y, and not as laundry detergenty (synthetic) as I'd expected, either.

09: Oh, wow - a warm, yummy ambery-vanillic musk. This one is the plushest, richest and sweetest scent of the line, a sensual, slightly spicy Oriental blend. It almost has a leathery, finely powdered finish. LOVE. I think I can skip buying Guerlain Cuir Beluga for now.

14: I once blended mandarin orange, rose oil and green notes for a friend, called it Aphrodite and never did anything with it after that. This smells very similar to it, and it's among my favorites in the collection. It's such a beautiful, refreshing Fruity Floral, mildly sweet, an unabashedly happy scent.

20: Base notes of cedar, sandalwood and leather make this the heaviest, darkest blend within the collection, but the concentration is light enough that it's not too strong, and not overwhelmingly "auto body shop" rubbery (like, say, Alan Cumming's fragrance which was interesting but unwearable for me). It's a bit sweet due to the cedar.

21: This is the red hot spicy one in the bunch. Cardamom, saffron and leather are the listed notes but I get cinnamon sticks when I smell it. Berries are mentioned, too, but I smell none. Fred can't smell this one at all for some reason, but says he can feel it tingling his nose.

Happy online shopping!


Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Ozzy put it best. Everybody needs to slow down. S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Forget Black Friday - what do we need with animalistic people literally stampeding over other people trying to get a freaking bargain? Someone died because of crazed shoppers today. My heart mourns over how we've become such a heartless society.

Maxim's de Paris

Some people may balk at the thought of wafting such an obviously '80s-smelling perfume, but Maxim's de Paris was one of the most memorable creations of the daring, sensational decade. It seems to have been sold as a mid-range fragrance (meaning it was more affordable than many prestige perfumes), but I think Maxim's smelled complex, sexy, sophisticated and high end. Almost full-bodied and animalic enough to call a parfum fourrure, it was not merely ritzy but an artfully blended perfume that suited, in its time, the image of the legendary restaurant by the same name, famously purchased by, designed and decorated by Pierre Cardin. The perfume to me smells slightly spicy (maybe a bit reminiscent of Pierre Cardin cologne for Men from 1972 - it was created by the Cardin company) but overall warm, sweet (white floral to my nose), a tiny bit herbaceous with a 1980s signature mint top note, and balsamic-ambery-woody. I've seen it classified as Floral but to me, this is a Floral Oriental. I feel it's in many ways comparable in style to Cartier Panthere (1986), Adolfo by Adolfo Dominguez (1986), Matchabelli by Prince Matchabelli (1982) and Molinard de Molinard (1980).

Midtown Perfumes lists these notes:

Maxim's de Paris (1984)

Top Notes: bergamot, mint, melon
Heart Notes: lily of the valley, rose, ylang-ylang
Base Notes: sandalwood, honey, vanilla

Although not listed, I also smell patchouli and oakmoss. There seems to be a bit of a chypre leather (Dry Woods) accord in here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Liz Claiborne Realities

One of the biggest mistakes ever made was the reformulation of Liz Claiborne Realities (1990). That was one fine juice, even if geared towards the masses. In a frugal time, I'm not one to complain about having any pretty perfume to wear at all. Realities was the spirit of the '90s in a bottle - calming with camomile, soothing with sandalwood - with a youthful, optimistic heart of peachy rose, jasmine and white lily. The original Realities smelled like Lancôme Trésor (1991) which came right after it. Whereas Tresor carried within it the unmistakable scent of the 1988 blockbuster hit, Calvin Klein Eternity (fresh yet rich and powerful), Liz Claiborne Realities smelled like Tresor made for a time which was yet about to come: a simpler, more carefree, tranquil time than the recession we'd brave through. Tresor still reeked of the excessive '80s but Realities streamlined and took the severe waistline out of the outfit. Realities put us into simpler clothes we can breathe in, work and enjoy life in without being artifically self-conscious. We became more forgiving of each other and ourselves through feeling freer. "Reality is the best fantasy of all" sounded like a perfume advertisement with the down-to-earth desires of real women in mind.

Like Tresor, Realities was a warm but crisp Floral Oriental with a rich, flowery, peachy character substantiated by a sillage-driven woody, musky base. Realities I would say is the less frilly of the two, decidedly less flowery and traditionally romantic, instead more creamy smooth, paving the way for the suede-like Donna Karan Cashmere Mist (1994) to soon follow. I still adore this original fragrance by Liz Claiborne and wish it had never turned into a generic pink juice smelling of some vague fruity floral aqueous nothing. Realities had soul when it was housed in a cubic (parfum) bottle with a teal ribbon tying yet another small gold cube around its neck, giving it an exotic "World" flavor. We sensed in its time the reality of the interconnectedness of all people, and focused more on thankfulness for the mundane things we once took for granted. Reality in its sobriety was an adventure, and we found ways to make challenging times meaningful, to let hard times propel our spirituality, unlearning the aggressive, narcissistic habits of the '80s and instead learning to meditate, eat healthier and use therapeutic self-help tools for coping with stress. On the aromatherapy front, we fell in love with vanilla (and Realities has some in its base along with amber).

Ironically, Realities still smelled like a high tech, corporate creation and not at all like a grass roots creation, but what it contained was a classic Liz Claiborne message that we women were good enough as we were, without haughty embellishments and bitchy attitudes that only worked to stereotype us. Realities conceptually is a fragrance that truly carries feminist weight, and I hope we never forget this contribution to the fragrance world. Although this scent is discontinued, it's still fairly easy to find online. Also, if you can still find them, the miniature pure parfums are a great deal. However, Realities is a strong scent, and honestly, I think the EDT is strong enough. One thing Realities carried over from the '80s sensibility is power. It has the audacity of Christian Dior Poison in some ways, even for such a subdued composition. Strength is not a bad thing, either, considering how little you need to use at a time (like a dab, and the parfum actually comes with a dabber cap). Who knew a strong scent such as parfum was prized for being economical?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Costume National Scent & Scent Sheer

Spicy, incensey, woodsy and base-heavy, Costume National Scent is a change of pace from anything light, sweet or peppy. Marketed as a shared fragrance between men and women, Scent is a dark blend that's slightly off the beaten path of mainstream fragrances. Basically, it's a minimalist spicy woody scent, the type of scent I might recommend to someone who literally likes the smell of fireplaces and saunas. It's a warm and dry, extremely low-pitched scent, with spices for top notes, lending a mildly prickly-sharp attack. Amber "carmelizes' the woods a little, making it seem tactile and dense, even clingy and pasty, but there's a smoky, powdery feel to it as well. I could compare it to Comme des Garçons very easily, and like many fragrances in the avant-garde line, Costume National Scent sports an aloof attitude while all the time being dramatic and intense. If "breezy" doesn't suit your mood or style, try this bold blend of Christmas log cabin, religious monastery, add a dash of runway model jaded-and-unsweet pseudosmile.

The listed notes can fool us into thinking it's more floral than it is.

Costume National Scent (2002): jasmine tea, hibiscus, woods and amber

For a slightly breezier variation, Costume National Scent Sheer, the Eau Fraiche version, provides some lift with a fruity, slightly aqueous-ozonic quality cutting the intensity of unsweet woods. Scent Sheer is made to float on a white musk base like a thread of delicate incense smoke wafting through fabric. Scent Sheer is what I'd describe as a sporty woods fragrance. There's a subtle dryer sheet quality to this, keeping with the warm and dry theme but giving it a crisper character than the original Scent. By the same token, it's not a higher-pitched composition necessarily but rather the same original composition presented with the addition of some higher-pitched notes - in other words, it's not wildly different from the original, so you may not actually need both.

Notes on
Costume National Scent Sheer (2003): White Amber, Apricot nectar, Hibiscus blossom, Musks

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Elizabeth Arden Red Door

If you've read The Book of Perfumes by John Oakes, you might remember his Boucheron review and the part where he wrote that "it'll fight the gardenias" (in a party room). Elizabeth Arden Red Door is a profusion of voluptuous red roses sweetened and slightly sharpened by violets on an ambery base that will fight Giorgio, Poison, Beautiful, Jean-Paul Gaultier and just about anything else known for strength and sillage, and still garner compliments, even have people being mesmerized by its overtly extroverted charm, asking for its name (I've seen it happen). Worn in judicious amounts (not too much for a crowded space), it's a gorgeous Floral Oriental, worthy of its New York-born pedigree.

The holidays are almost here, starting with Thanksgiving around the bend. Red Door would be a festive choice.

Elizabeth Arden Red Door (1989)
Top Notes: Ylang-Ylang, Red Roses
Middle Notes: Winter Oriental Orchid, Jasmine, Lily of the Valley, Moroccan Orange Flowers, Lilies, Freesia, Carnation, Wild Violets
Base Notes: Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Spicy Vetiver, Honey

Additional notes include peach, plum, heliotrope, amber and musk.

Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue

5th Avenue is a Floral Oriental that can be worn year round because it's very versatile. It's super-floral at first, with lily-of-the-valley and lilac taking center stage, but then, a profusion of tuberose and an ambery-woody-vanillic base add a veil of sensual warmth and complete the huge production that is 5th Avenue. I'd describe the scent as being green and soapy, clean but heady, elegant and a little rich but also not overly stuffy. It has a classic, retro flair in a somewhat '80s way, but it's sweet and contemporary, easy-to-wear. It's well-mannered and sophisticated but not without a bright sense of humor; imagine Penhaligon's Bluebell with a hint of ritz, urban glam and lively spirit.

Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue (1996)

Notes: lilac, linden blossom, dewy magnolia, muguet, exotic mandarin, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, violet, ylang-ylang, jasmine, Indian tuberose, peach, clove, nutmeg

Flu Shots: Ask for Thimerosal-Free

An Option: Flu Vaccines Without Mercury-Based Thimerosal September 26, 2008 01:52 PM ET | Deborah Kotz, US News

While thimerosal, the mercury-derived preservative used in many children's vaccines, has slowly been pulled off the market (although you still need to ask doctors for thimerosal-free vaccines - many doctors don't want to order them and they are in limited quantity), the influenza shot still contains thimerosal. It might not affect adults as much as babies and small children, but if you may be pregnant, it's something to consider, as Autism has been linked to thimerosal (and as many people who have been following this issue know, a case had finally been won regarding the link between Autism and vaccines, which is why many vaccines don't contain it anymore).

This link lists mercury-free flu shots, and numbers to call to find them: It still takes work to find thimerosal-free flu shots By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Protest Prop 8 on November 15th

For more information, visit

(Image: Art by Shepard Fairey)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Une Fleur de Chanel

Regardless of politics, I've always thought First Lady Laura Bush came across as a gracious and lovely lady in the public eye. I might actually miss her beautiful face and understated, classy style when the Bushes leave office. I loved the brown dress with a wine red sheen she wore to greet the Obamas at the White House yesterday. What perfume would I "assign" to her if I were her scent stylist? I haven't heard much about the perfume Laura Bush wears, except that the first bottle of Creed Love in White (2005), a Floral Oriental blend featuring rose and magnolia, was given to her.

To borrow the rose-magnolia theme, I don't know of any other predominantly rose-magnolia blends offhand besides Love In White and perhaps Chane Allure (although that one has many other notes and smells more peachy-vanllic rosy to me), so I might hypothetically assign to Laura Bush the little-known limited edition scent, Une Fleur de Chanel. Jasmine and green notes are the official notes given for this crisp Green Floral created in 1998. It's a camellia-inspired scent, and I can see how it might compare to Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier Eau de Camélia Chinois, to a point. Un Amour de Patou by Jean Patou, a perfume I love, was created in the same year (1998), and stylistically, both are rose-jasmine on the Green spectrum but to me, Une Fleur de Chanel is quite different; I would say it's the simpler and sharper of the two. It's white floral enough that it could be perceived as a magnolia, or peony blend, but it's sharpened by lots of green. It has a watery-transparent, fresh floralcy coupled with the traditional heart of rose, making it smell more contemporary than classic. It registers to me as a soliflore, unobtrusive enough that one might choose it for teatime. The only other perfume I felt it reminded me of was Antonia's Flowers (1985).

An unobtrusive, restrained soliflore perfume can also register as boring and unspontaneous, without passion and sex appeal. Although Une Fleur isn't the style of perfume I usually like, I think such a clean and unintimidating scent would suit the First Lady well. As the name suggests, Une Fleur is as floral as can be. It can register as a classy scent being a disciplined one. However, truth be told, I don't care for the aqueous nature of it and would rather wear the sweeter, more lush, less sharp Chanel Gardenia myself, so maybe I should be kind and assign the one I prefer to Mrs. Bush instead. I look forward to Jan. 20, 2009, but do wish her well.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chanel N°5 Eau Première

I dig Michelle Obama, and I think the tailored Jackie O. style fits her very well. She also wears more relaxed, casual styles with natural ease, which is refreshing. I particularly think she wears neutrals strikingly - perhaps I could see her in the little black dress with pearls, a crisp white dress or a textured cream Chanel suit. I loved the pink tweed suit she once wore, and the famous black-and-white sundress she wore for TV which was a perfect match to her statuesque figure. She rocks the houndstooth. I wonder what perfume she wears. If her style is a cross between Jackie O. and Hillary Clinton's styles as people say, do you suppose she'd wear a scent that's somewhere between the rich, sweet Florals and ambery Orientals worn by Jackie O. (along the lines of Joy, Fleurissimo, Valentino (original), Jil Sander No.4) and the breezy, uncomplicated scents reportedly worn by Sen. Clinton (Caswell-Massey Number Six, William Owen Adoration)?

I've also read that Jackie O. wore No.5. If I were to "assign" a perfume to Michelle Obama, I might pick the classic yet new Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere. I had a chance to try it on at Sephora last night, and I thought it was exquisite; it's very similar to the original No.5 for sure, an abstract floral-powdery scent, but the new version is less woodsy to my nose. I don't think it lasted as well on me as the original, but the scent being less base-heavy smelled more luminous, and equally elegant. If you like Aldehydic Florals, try this version of No.5 - I personally prefer the spray over the Sensual Elixir gel, but you have a choice here between the two modes of fragrance.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Chanel Coco Mademoiselle

Sometimes, we understand perfumes better in retrospect. I didn't realize until recently that when I was smelling the fruity patchouli blends in Estee Lauder Pleasures Delight, Miss Dior Cherie, Betsey Johnson or Nina by Nina Ricci, I was smelling the descendants of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle. Now, I see that the patchouli trend wasn't just a result of Thierry Mugler Angel, but of the success of the spicy and fresh-fruity iconic fragrance launched in 2001. I tend to fall in love with this scent a couple of times a year and tire of it quickly. I've acquired and given away bottles of it over the years, so now, I live with a decant that's lasted me awhile. I still think it's a great scent - a bit peachy and orangey, extroverted and sweet in a sophisticated way, Coco Mademoiselle is definitely a modern classic that's here to stay.

Although this transparent-modern Fruity Chypre doesn't smell like the original Coco which is a richer, more floral, ambery Oriental fragrance, Coco Mademoiselle shares with Coco the peachy-orange spice aspect juxtaposed by a rosy heart and a warm, wooded base. I also think it resembles Chanel Chance, except Chance to me smells less patchouli-heavy, and more powdery-chalky in comparison. My Mom thinks Chance smells spicy, although it doesn't register that way to me. Coco Mademoiselle, however, smells like a spiced fruit, in an autumnal, somewhat comforting way.

Linari Eau de Parfum

I bought two sets of vial samples in boxes because the German store that carries them had a minimum order to ship to the US. I've opened one box and tried 3 out of 4 samples. I love the bottles these scents come in so much, I might end up getting one for display. Then again, I might stick with the mainstream perfumes that they remind me of, as thy're easier to find.

Linari Eleganza Luminosa, probably my favorite of the bunch, immediately reminded me of Estee Lauder Pleasures Delight (citrus fruits, rich white florals and patchouli), Angelo Di Fiume of Cacharel Gloria or Guerlain My Insolence (rose, berry fruits and patchouli), and Notte Bianca vaguely of Bulgari Black (gingery-sharp, spicy top notes with an overall linear, leathery feel - I should also mention it's fairly aqueous). Samples are available at


Lindsay Lohan

I wish I could turn Lindsay Lohan onto Pink Manhattan Purrfume - I bet she'd love it! Some of her favorite perfumes are reportedly Jill Stuart Vanilla Lust and perfume oils Monyette, Coquette Tropique and Child. She's a bonafide white floral lover like I am. There's been a rumor about a perfume launching in her name, a jasmine-based scent, but I've heard nothing more about it since a couple of years ago. I would probably buy her perfume unsniffed.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


Gay Marriage vs. Miscegenation: Something to Think About

Check out this interesting link made between anti-gay marriage laws and miscegenation laws that once prohibited interracial marriage in the US: Brief History of Marriage Meddling in the United States,

I feel that Proposition 8 has not only reinforced a sad stigma against gay and lesbian people but that it's torn apart unions that were legal just yesterday in a way that is as insensitive and cruel as in the biblical days of Ezra (you might appreciate how he separated marital unions, and children from their parents, in an effort to cleanse the race of impurity - that's if such merciless measures sound godly to you). As many people I know, I've morally wrestled with the topic of homosexuality, but today, I've come to the understanding that if my own children turned out to be gay, I would love them, accept them, and would not want them to be prejudiced against for having been born perfect in His eyes just as they are. I've come to the conclusion there's too much we don't understand about sexuality to judge. I do not see the right of gay couples to marry as a sin. Furthermore, I know gay couples can be as decent parents as any straight couple can. Prop 8: Let no man put asunder what G-d has brought together...especially if you're meddling in marriages of people you don't even know.

Related Reading:
After Prop. 8
The road to equal rights may be long, but Obama's victory proves that change can come.
, LA Times, November 6, 2008

Will Gay Marriage Lead to Polygamy? Animal Marriage? Questions and Answers About the Marriage Protection Amendment, Filed in Current Events , History , Law on June 12, 2006 By William N. Eskridge, Jr. and Darren R. Spedale, Oxford University Press,

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

O Happy Day!


President-elect Obama is the next leader of the now hippest, coolest country on Earth, thanks to the collective individuals who truly made it happen! I'm deeply moved by what this change means to so many people, not just here but around the world. May we always remember this historic day; let the new era begin.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Nov. 4th

Giorgio Beverly Hills Red (1989): Aldehydic Floral, a complex, sexy blend of powdery notes, tuberose, spicy carnation, osmanthus, Oriental and Chypre, a once-favorite of mine and now an American classic, Red was marketed as the softer side of Giorgio with the slogan, "Red was never so soft". Blended by the perfumer who made Henry Dunay Sabi, the word "rich" comes to mind when I smell this potent elixir of more than 600 notes.

Comme des Garçons White (1997) by Rei Kawakubo is to my nose the spicier, orange-cinnamony version of the Original Comme des Garçons fragrance. The listed notes don't sound this way but it's a heavy incensey scent like the first one, though it somehow resonates as slick and modern to match the cool bottle design. It's marketed as the essence of purity, lightness and brightness. I suppose it can be compared to an interval of low notes on the piano played mezzopiano. Simplicity is key.

I've never liked Penhaligon's Bluebell (parfum in 1978, EDT in 1985) because to me, it smells animalic and almost gasoline-like noxious, but it's a notorious favorite of Kate Moss and a Green Floral classic. Hyacinth can be a challenging note being so green and yet so hypersweet. Bluebell is the timeless soliflore beauty - complete with roots and stems - you'll find true to the flower and extraordinarily intriguing for such a high-pitched, seemingly delicate scent.

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Rock the Vote by Shepard Fairey


Pre-Election Insomnia and More Thoughts On Nuclear Energy

Democrats take issue with McCain nuclear comments, The Associated Press, Article Launched: 11/02/2008 02:59:25 PM PST,

The Nuclear Option, The Thin Green Line,

Less than two days before the US presidential election, I have McCainbaracksomnia. McCain says, "Obama says nuclear power "has to be safe, environment, blah blah blah"", and the crowd goes berserk. He can be a funny man with a good sense of comedic timing but often, his jokes aren't jokes to me. Either I'm missing the punchline or I'm not drinking enough Budweiser. In the meantime, I think I can fill in those dismissive blahs with three words: "for 40 years". That's approximately how long we're prepared to store nuclear waste - the 4% or so that's seen as non-renewable and just about negligible if you ask nuclear energy enthusiasts. Unfortunately, like small amounts of lead found in certain vinyl products, no amount is too small or negligible when it comes to our health. My concern remains the same throughout this debate: I believe it to be immoral to ignore and leave this cancer-causing radioactive waste to our offsprings. It's not fair to make them deal with health risks, potential spills and how to get rid of our waste. If it's sinful to leave financial debts to our children, how could we live with leaving them with nuclear waste we know not what to do with, yet would gamble on figuring out before we die? Have we ever really thought about the prospect of not having a planet with clean water and other things we take for granted, or are we willing to put it all on the roulette table? I'm not sure how committed Obama is to starting green energy jobs to fuel our energy and economy, as I also hope nuclear energy isn't secretly in the mix for his plans for our future, but whatever his plan is sounds better than 45 by 2030 - "let's build a whole bunch of them (nuclear plants)!" and "blah blah blah".

G-d Bless the USA. I pray the country votes intelligently and prudently this November 4th.