Saturday, September 26, 2009

Stella McCartney, Stella and StellaNude

Stella by Stella McCartney (2003) is another gorgeous rose musk with a patchouli base, along the lines of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle in structure but actually closer to Narciso Rodriguez for Her, launched in the same year featuring rose (with other floral notes) on an ambery-woody (patchouli) Egyptian musk base. Stella is, in essence, a rose perfume, but one with a subtle nouveau Chypre nuance. Compared to Narciso Rodriguez for Her, also a beautiful scent but the more Chypre and musk-centric (also animalic) sister, the dry down is rosier and lighter, placing Stella in the Floral olfactive family. Another example of a similar type of scent that's more obviously Chypre is Lanvin Rumeur, which has a more leathery, traditionally perfumey feel. I love Stella because the rose in it is very fresh, similar to the rose I find in Penhaligon's Elisabethan Rose, Les Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose or Un Zeste de Rose, and because the overall composition is both sophisticated enough for night and fresh enough for day. It's a fresh yet deep, almost soliflore but slightly fruity and soft rose that can be worn for most occasions all year long. Youthful yet elegant, it's definitely a new classic.

As with most new classics, Stella has many flanker scents, and notable among these is the new StellaNude. Please read the review at this link: Stella McCartney, Stella and StellaNude (2009 New Launch and Review)

Related articles:

Lanvin Rumeur - Nouveau Chypre ode to classic leather

Perfume Flanker 101 - Trends and Buzzwords

Beach Roses: Les Parfums de Rosine Ecume de Rose, Rose d'Ete

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fall 2009 Top 10 List

September 24, 2009: I realized this month that my current favorite rose musks with patchouli bases, Givenchy Very Irrésistible and Lanvin Rumeur, both owe their inspiration to Chanel Coco Mademoiselle, recently named by The New York Times (correction - my apologies: NY Daily News - link to report by Sherryl Connelly) one of the world's bestselling perfumes alongside N°5 and Britney Spears scents. I like the fresh Fruity (peachy-orangey) patchouli-based nouveau Chypre pioneer, Coco Mademoiselle (a flanker to the original Coco (1984) also by master perfumer Jacques Polge), but I prefer the less orange-spice themed later incarnations. Although this rose musk (blended with white florals and almost always patchouli) accord is the current trend, I love the particular idiosyncracies of these two current personal favorites: Very Irrésistible for its rockin' dark pink berries to add a slightly nouveau goth flavor but still keep it pretty, and Rumeur for its gorgeous magnolia top notes and a romantic, idealistic heart of white rose hidden behind a "hard" (androgynously woody, boozy) exterior.

Also, I'm in a Men's Gourmand fragrance phase, loving notes like chocolate (actual listed notes or perceived ones), lime and rum. By rum, I don't mean bay rum like the boozy note in Ysatis or the headshop oil, but this milky, tropical coconut drink-like note (maybe a bit suntan oil-like, too...I'm thinking "tropical beachy") as found in Guerlain Homme, my "lime-and-a-coconut chocolate woodsy Autumn in New York but my mind is elsewhere" love, and also in Straight to Heaven by Kilian (also a wonderful scent: less fresh, much heavier, darker, spicy, dry, extra patchoulified take). I just got a small bottle of Guerlain Homme for myself, my utterly delish holy grail and my first Men's fragrance (unless you count 4711, Fumerie Turque, the Creed scents - so I like a lot of "guy" scents, like I love hard-hitting music featuring meaningful musical passages and virtuosity of its performers, aka "guy" music, even though "guy" is subjective and often synonymous with "doesn't suck"). I haven't forgotten Dior Homme, a well-tempered iris-cocoa for Men, which also smells like Guerlain Homme (and Iris Ganache by the same perfumer). I love these semi-Gourmands for Men the way I love the Fruity Florals for Women: the ones I love all smell good enough for me to wear.

My Top 10 List is here! Please continue reading at this link: Fall 2009 New York Perfumista's Top 10 List by Sali Oguri

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Def Leppard - Foolin'

Joe Elliott. You know it's his voice that's selling all those albums, right? This is what a GREAT singer with a great rock band sounds like.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Christian Dior Miss Dior

The full review is also here: Christian Dior Miss Dior (1947), a Retrospective Perfume Review

I recently learned that long before Estée Lauder and Revlon, Christian Dior was featuring images of women wearing pants in ads, but in illustration form, not photographs of models. René Gruau was the artist who drew most of the iconic vintage Dior perfume ads we recognize today. In the year 1947 when Christian Dior launched both The New Look (a return to cinched waists, full skirts and accentuated bosoms for women, harkening back to the pre-drop-waisted flapper era) and the coinciding perfume called Miss Dior, Miss Dior was known as a "debutante perfume" (yes, there actually was such a thing, in a time when differentiating Miss from Mrs. was the only option in determining women's titles). There was another famous debutante perfume born in the same year called Carven Ma Griffe ("my claw" or mark). Miss Dior and Ma Griffe were similar-smelling launches at the time, featuring fresh Green notes such as galbanum (in the tradition of Pierre Balmain Vent Vert) in the perfumey and soapy (like Irish Spring) Aldehydic Chypre form. Although both are heavy, woody, mossy and soapy scents, Miss Dior is the more patchouli-heavy, down-to-earth among the two (sweeter, less intense and sharp). Both are really retro gardenia scents, with the slightly banana-like gardenia heart boozified and made more tenacious with the addition of musky, dirty, animalic leather notes.

At this point, we are graduating and departing from Glenn Miller and getting into the complexities of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. We may find an analogy between Miss Dior and Duke Ellington's swing dance music, edgy because it was Jazz, but jazz was also the mainstream sound of its time. The opening sharp green notes (I suspect mint is a top note in many of these Green Chypre perfumes) call attention for young ladies to walk erect, and in a straight line! The mossiness adds to the foresty aroma (folkloric and dreamy, princesslike), while the leathery, smoky base feels rugged like a dirt road, dry and smoky against a candied, violetty gardenia (at one point as it dries down, I'm reminded of Guerlain Metallica and Les Secrets de Sophie for all its elegant yet intense sweetness). Miss Dior is mother to my other favorite leather gardenias, Givenchy III and Miss Balmain. Actually, if you count perfumery between 1947 to about 1979, in the time of Guerlain Chant d'Arômes (1962) and Estée Lauder Estée (1968), Lauren by Ralph Lauren (1978), and even later amid Estée Lauder Beautiful, Perry Ellis (1985) and Deneuve by Catherine Deneuve (1986), this sweet but grassy fresh (green), white flower-centered Floral has been a recurring favorite theme (we can count bestselling Giorgio (1982) in this bunch, too). However, Miss Dior has another aspect - a reason why it could be considered a parfum fourrure, or "fur (coat) perfume".

Aside from patchouli, oakmoss, amber, vetiver and sandalwood, Miss Dior's base notes are emboldened by a leather accord, balsamic and dusty, boozy, dark and inky (Molinard Habanita-like in low-pitched depth) against the gourmand candied flowers. Soap, leather, dessert and breezy green acres in Miss Dior create a commanding, majestic, icy, aloof and beautiful, textbook perfect "Perfume" accord - one that will refreshingly (mintily, greenly, as the color of monetary worth) stand out in a crowd, and one that's substantial enough to mask odors in a sable coat. These animal-derived ingredients that lend all its perceived status, are the reason the scent is a beautiful but intensely aromatic, daring and challenging one (also, sharp, dry and spicy leather had traditionally been used in Men's scents), and why it's classified as a Chypre Floral-Animalic. Today, the Chypre fragrance family would be referred to as "Mossy Woods" and "Dry Woods (tobacco-animalic)" - Miss Dior is a little of both, with emphasis on Green and Floral, as sweet as jasmine and orange blossom, to match the etched houndstooth crystal flacon christened with an understated "bridal" white satin bow.

(Images: from Parfum de Pub and

Miss Dior Ads by René Gruau

Illustrations by René Gruau.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lanvin Rumeur

I think Rumeur is gorgeous. It makes a dramatic statement, and will go anywhere in the world, from the opera house to a Broadway theatre, to the funky late night masquerade ball. It opens with boozy, leathery fruits and voluptuous base notes, dries down with a fresh laundry musk accord. The laundry note is a bit jarring for me, but I would wear this again...

Please visit The Examiner for my latest review: Lanvin Rumeur - Nouveau Chypre ode to classic leather

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Avril Lavigne Black Star

World reknown Pop Rock star and acclaimed singer-songwriter Avril Lavigne has a new perfume out called Avril Lavigne Black Star. It's made by Proctor & Gamble (P&G), the same company producing Jean Patou, Anna Sui, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Giorgio Beverly Hills and, now, the Naomi Campbell line (formerly by Wella). First, a little background - the concept for the perfume is a "rock" blend of dark fruits and dark chocolate, very much in line with Vera Wang Rock Princess (2009) and Sali Oguri (Unreleased Mix) Persephone New York (2006). The dark chocolate in Black Star is barely noticeable but definitely there, mingling with sweet, zingy pink grapefruit and tropical red fruits (the notes list other notes but I smell mangos and papayas) being most dominant. I'd compare the scent to that of many Escada limited edition summer offerings (like Sexy Graffiti, Ibiza Hippie), sweet, happy fruit punch scents (edited to add) drying down to an ozonic, musky "wafer" gourmand. I would classify Black Star as a Fruity Floral, a lighthearted departure from the darker, more "rockin'" blends of its predecessors. (Image:

Read more at The Examiner: Avril Lavigne Black Star (2009) - New Launch and Fragrance Review

Flanker Perfumes: Kenzo, Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy, Lanvin

It's Fashion Week and I bring you a smorgasbord of reviews to celebrate! These are my impressions of some flanker perfumes, from the latest round of new releases to the flankers of note from the recent past. Featured reviews: Kenzo Amour Eau de Toilette Florale, Lanvin Éclat d'Arpège and more: Please visit my article at The Examiner: Flanker Perfumes: Kenzo, Dior, Guerlain, Givenchy, Lanvin

Related articles: Perfume Flanker 101 - Trends and Buzzwords

Givenchy L'Interdit, Audrey Hepburn and gamine sophistication

Naomi Campbell Mystery by the Design House of Naomi Campbell

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley

For a number of years, I've worn and adored fragrances by Penhaligon's, a well-respected perfume and toiletry company based in London. Earlier this year, I lamented the closing of their New York flagship store; nevertheless, their fragrances have remained some of my most beloved. From Elisabethan Rose to Artemisia, even their famous (thanks to Kate Moss who is known to favor it) Bluebell which I've admitted is challenging to wear but have grown to love, these scents are as soft to the nose as a feather. This is a line which gives the fragrance aficionado all of the classic soliflores and blends in simple, traditional, easy-to-recognize format: Violetta smells like violets, Lavandula like lavender. Although I'm a fan of the abstract, I can also appreciate the straightforward approach by this historical perfume house.

However, my review today is for their Lily of the Valley, and it's much more than a simple soliflore lily of the valley regardless of what their description states. It's not as recognizably lily of the valley-centric as Christian Dior Diorissimo, probably the most famous lily of the valley or muguet in the world alongside Coty Muguet (which I haven't smelled yet).

Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley is, to my nose, what the well-known musk scent called China Rain must have drawn inspiration from: a classic heart of rose, jasmine and lily of the valley - add some deep musky wood notes and voila, China Rain. The initial scent of Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley is that of a fresh and robust rose, maybe a tea rose like Creed Fleur de Thé Rose Bulgare (from the Exclusive collection), underscored by a clear but sweet white floral backdrop and light, fruity freshness (love the mouthwatering sweet lemon notes). The fruit notes deepen to a winelike decadence, the lily of the valley (with mossy aldehydes in 1970s style) unveils a sharp, soapy green character, all of which eventually settle into a transparent (though not at all aqueous), dewy, spicy (geranium) woody Green Floral, musky and not unlike Bluebell with its pungent accord of dried roses, cinnamon and cool, wet woods, but mostly akin to Grès Cabotine (1990, popular in Japan when it launched), Creed Fleurissimo (1972, commissioned by the groom for Grace Kelly for her wedding day), Christian Dior Tendre Poison (1994) - all those voluptuous, borderline Fruity Chypre types of green florals, as voluptuous as tuberose spiked with dark, heavy, ambery woods. Valentino's first fragrance for Women (loved by Jackie O.) and Oscar de la Renta Volupté (1992, associated with another princess - forgot which) also come to mind for comparisons to this retro - in a contemporary '70s and early '90s way - Floral number. Such an enviously full-bodied heart wouldn't be possible without their copious use of jasmine - as it was with Diorissimo - and, most prominently in Penhaligon's Lily of the Valley, a giant, heady rose.

On some foggy day in London town, I would personally prefer Bluebell for myself, but this is a scent worth knowing. I would highly recommend purchase of the gorgeous and handsome Penhaligon's sampler kit in the golden tin (Scent Library - which used to coincide with a book) which includes generous 1/16 fl. oz. glass vials of both Bluebell and Lily of the Valley (fragrances in the sampler may change, so be sure to check with Penhaligon's first). September is New York's most popular month for weddings, and Lily of the Valley would make a beautiful wedding perfume choice if you prefer Green Florals and spicy scents and are planning a princess wedding of your own.

Here are the notes according to Penhaligon's:
"An ancient flower but this fragrance’s modernity is very striking. On some skins it develops a grassy hay-like quality, on others it is strikingly ‘white’, peppery and very elegant."

Lily of the Valley (1976)
Head Notes: Bergamot, Lemon and Geranium
Heart Notes: Lily of the Valley, Rose, Ylang Ylang and Jasmine
Base Notes: Oakmoss and Sandalwood

Friday, September 04, 2009

Penhaligon's Bluebell

Hyacinths are what Penhaligon's Bluebell is all about, and if you've ever used English fragrances and toiletries like Bronnley Blue Poppy or Floris Seringa, you might recognize the sweet traditional floral scent of the English garden as a recurring motif in British scent culture, which might explain why Penhaligon's calls Bluebell the "most British" among their line. Or, perhaps it's the green aspect of it that's especially British. Bluebell is a standout creation among these, sharply green with fresh, leafy galbanum, and indolic-sweet at once, like honeysuckle and jasmine. At first sniff, I recoiled and thought Bluebell smelled like an unwashed dog or noxious fumes, even like public telephone receivers, but since those early days of maligning it as an unwearable-but-well made perfume, I've grown to actually love it enough to wear. And so, dear readers, here I am with my holy grail fragrance of the moment, Penhaligon's Bluebell. At heart, I am a Floral lover, and I love wearing spring flowers all year long. (Image:

Bluebell is a Green Floral but it's also a damp, earthy scent, especially on dry down. The scent of woods combined with the heavily indolic florals create one light and clear yet highly aromatic scent. It's an elegant fragrance, as soft as any Penhaligon's perfume ought to be (even the spicy Oriental and bold Chypre ones which I don't care for are all of exquisite quality, never harsh but soft to the nose), but the hyacinth notes are metallic sharp and tingly cool, bracing until they mellow into a lukewarm, plant sap type of wet olfactive texture. A formidable ice queen would wear it, as would Hyacinth Bucket: it's also notoriously a once-favorite of Lady Diana and Kate Moss, the latter whom I also associate with Demeter Dirt - and yes, Bluebell has quite a bit of that wet soil scent in it as well.

Penhaligon's has been creating beautiful, traditional fragrances since 1870. Some others in the line I adore are: Artemisia (smooth and powdery jasmine-sandalwood-musk, like Cashmere Mist but softer), Elisabethan Rose (a cool and crisp, joyous pink rose soliflore), Ellenisia (a crisp white floral bouquet similar to Chanel Gardenia) Lily of the Valley (a full-bodied blend of lily of the valley with rose, jasmine and other classical notes), Hammam Bouquet (a spicy Oriental choice which happens to be reminiscent of Chanel Les Exclusifs No.18).

Here are the notes according to

Head Notes

Heart Notes
Hyacinth, Lily of the Valley, Cyclamen, Jasmine and Rose

Base Notes
Galbanum, Clove and Cinnamon

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Kat Von D Saint (2009 New Launch and Fragrance Review)

Being a vanilla fanatic (a relatively purist one at that - my standards are high for a good vanilla, and I want NO embellishments unless they're there to enhance the vanilla, not to change its character), and I was hoping to love this scent. Actually, I do...

I tested and reviewed Sinner last time, and now, I bring to you my impressions of my preferred pick in the line, Saint. Here's my review! Kat Von D Saint (2009 New Launch and Fragrance Review)