Saturday, January 31, 2009

Narciso Rodriguez For Her

Oooooh, I love this limited edition bottle! This is one I'd consider getting just for the bottle design - sleek and chic, it's almost up there with Pierre Dinand's Paco Rabanne Calandre for me. Let's talk about the scent: Narciso Rodriguez For Her (2003) is classified as Mossy Woods by Michael Edwards on Sephora's website. Mossy Woods = Chypre - did you know that? That's because a classical chypre accord consists of oakmoss, bergamot and labdanum (or sometimes patchouli) in the base. Likewise, the Tobacco-Leather-Animalic olfactive family is now referred to as Dry Woods. These are new classifications by Michael Edwards, replacing the H&R system of a few years back. I still use them both, because it's interesting to see the different classifications by different "systems analysts" in the fragrance field, so-to-speak.

It might be considered a Chypre but to me, it doesn't smell like a typical Chypre. Narciso Rodriguez For Her smells musky above all else. It has a deep yet linear, ultramodern ambery-woody base combined with the clear and soapy-dewy Egyptian musk (curiously listed as "solar musk" in the notes). Orange blossom is listed in the notes but again, I don't really smell it up front, which is fine because the fact that I like this perfume tells me my nose is picking up on some of my favorite sweet white floral notes in the Floral Oriental range (heart, or midrange). Overall, this is a subtly sexy, sensual blend, a very unique scent with a hint of something animalic but not enough to be labeled skanky. I consider it to be more of an evening scent because of the low notes, but it's an urbane, seasonless creation that could be worn in judicious amounts for daytime. It's a warm yet slightly bold (woods), clean body musk with an aura of perfuminess, the perfect first perfume (and already a new classic) by the hip New York-based designer.

However, being a Chypre, it is indeed a divisive scent that not everyone likes. On top of being a Chypre, it has animalic notes (honey), further making it complex and a bit risqué. I've had mixed comments while wearing it (of course it could also do with my particular chemistry and how I wear it), ranging from "sexy" to "do you have a cat?". Well, a touch of feline-animalic undertone (is there maybe a little synthetic civet or castoreum in here?) isn't a bad thing, especially if it intrigues. Even with the animalic edge, I think For Her remains a classy scent.

I think many fragrances have copied its style, from Stella by Stella McCartney to Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely. Still, Narciso Rodriguez could have borrowed from a lesser known but equally intriguing perfume, Cabaret by Grès, a rosier version of For Her, similar in style yet closer to the classic rose-patchouli Chypre style of Agent Provocateur (2000). I have long suspected Narciso Rodriguez For Her to contain some rose in the mix because of the similarities with these others, but perhaps I'm tuning into the ambery patchouli musk, or nouveau Chypre accord, in all of these millennial creations. Perfume Intelligence - the Encyclopaedia of Perfume lists these additional notes for the eau de parfum version: "A musky chypre edp with notes of rose and peach, being more floral than the edt with the accent on pink roses. Won the Fifi award for Women's Nouveau Niché fragrance in 2004".


Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose

Jean-Charles Brosseau Ombre Rose(1981) is an Aldehydic Floral consisting of the following notes: rosewood, geranium, rose, cedarwood, vanilla, ylang ylang, lily of the valley, orris, sandalwood, coumarin, musk and honey. It's a very powdery, old-fashioned rose-and-violet blend, smelling to me of vintage face powder and maybe some perfumey lipstick in that maquillage mix. It reminds me of Floris White Rose but more powdery, and potpourri stuffed inside lace adorned with satin ribbons, Oscar Wilde books and little women playing tea party. I used to think I could never learn to like this scent, even apart from all these associations (I never liked violet flavor in foods, and Ombre Rose also smells a lot like violet candies), but the other day, I pulled out the beautiful mini parfum I happen to have stashed away, and came away from the experience stunned by the sweet, almost gourmand-sweet heliotrope and coumarin in the low notes. The sweet, powdery-honeyed coumarin base is also reminiscent of Yardley English Lavender, a new favorite of mine this month. The honeyed-woody muskiness reminds me of Avon Sweet Honesty, too. The idea of soapiness and an edible, almond-like spicy-powderiness don't seem to go well together, but in Ombre Rose, the combination creates something elegant and comfortingly baby soft at once. Although Ombre Rose can be defined as an abstract rosewood scent, I think Ombre Rose is a piece of marzipan candy wrapped in an edible rose petal and just a smidgeon of violet creme. It's a wonderful creation for anyone who's into the traditionally girly. The antique mold used for the bottle is exquisite, and comes in a pale rose color for the EDT and jet black for pure parfum.

(1990 ad Images de Parfums)

Chanel Allure

Chanel Allure (1996) is a very popular perfume worldwide, so most of you have probably smelled it at one point or another. If you have flown anywhere, you probably bought it duty free for a relative or friend as a gift; chances are, someone in your family adores it as her signature. It's an easy perfume to love, a warm and sensual, down-to-earth melange of rose, vanilla, woods (vetiver) and soft fruits (mandarin orange, although the effect in combination with the other notes to me is that of peaches and cream). If you've liked other rose-vanilla blends in the orange-peach spectrum such as Lancome Tresor or Adrienne Vittadini, you might like Allure, less musky than Tresor but an equally romantic comfort scent (I associate rose with romance or a traditional femininity, and vanilla with comfort). There were various ads for the Allure campaign, many of which featured not only famous models but beautiful ordinary women, sending the message that Allure was meant for the mainstream consumer in a broad demographic range (although it seems Allure was designed for a more mature crowd than, say, Chance - not that it matters since I wear what I like). Allure is a soft composition but concentration-wise can be strong (it's a rich, heavyish scent), so for me, the EDT does fine, but you might prefer EDP, or parfum in discreet amounts.

(Images: Parfum de Pub)

Friday, January 30, 2009

Equal Pay - At Last

President Obama has chosen an equal pay for women law (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act) as the first piece of legislation to sign. Bravo to the President and all feminists (women and men who believe in the equality of women as human beings) who paved the way for such legislation to finally pass. Although it is only the beginning, I breathe a sigh of hope that future generations will feel more empowered and less afraid of intimidation with the law of the land on their side.

Have We Come a Long Way Baby? Fair Pay by the Numbers,, August 4, 2008

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Jean Patou Câline

Jean Patou Câline is a Green Floral with a mossy-woody Chypre character. It was created in 1964 and fits into the timeframe perfectly, with other Green (Aldehydic) Florals and Chypres like it such as Guerlain Chant d’Arômes (1962), Christian Dior Diorling (1963) and Yves Saint-Laurent Y (1964). It was Jean Patou's "first perfume marketed to teenaged girls", although the scent itself probably wouldn't be considered as such today. Reminiscent of a time in perfume herstory (late 40s - 1970s) when the conservative New Look style of green perfumes was not only the norm but the overwhelming choice for women's fragrance (although there were some Florals with strong characters and spicy Orientals on the scene as well, the '60s brought a new olfactory quietude focused within the Green family, many of them smelling as if they appealed to less sweet, masculine taste), many young women, and even not-so-young ones like myself, would find Caline too silent a fragrance to feel comfortable in. Still, the tenderly sweet jasmine heart of this fragrance captures my interest in 2009. The ad featured an illustration of a delicate young lady leaning to her right side, over the bottle like a windblown flower. She is adorable, shy, her image very much in tune with another ad from the era I've seen for Revlon Intimate with the caption: "Intimate is for any girl who recognizes the beauty of being shy. And there's a bit of that shy girl in every woman" (1979).

It seemed the closer women got to finding their voices of dissent against the sexism of their day, the quieter, and less swoonworthily sweet lest women ever were allowed to feel satisfied, the scents became, the more divisive the age-casting (division between Miss and Mrs. served well for those opposed to the concept of Ms.), and the quieter and more submissive the women on the advertisements seemed. Long gone were the siren calls of the seductive scents of the past (Youth Dew, Shalimar). The sixties scents seemed hell bent on keeping women back in the fifties mentality, to strive to become housewives and serve her husband as even a loyal pet would for a lifetime - the fifties, when even a genderless scent like Yardley English Lavender was marketed as a scent to make a woman feel "more" feminine, with a photo of a babydoll to sell this voiceless, lifeless (and therefore non-threatening) manmade femininity with. Jean Patou Caline, like conservative early sixties pop music, was appealing to those who didn't want to rock the boat in quite the way The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix did for their generation and generations to follow.

That said, Caline is a fantastic perfume, rife with precious essences (I'm especially impressed with the vintage parfum), simultaneously effervescent and dazzlingly rich in its sillage, similar to the way Deneuve or Givenchy III used to be - cool and calm with a drop of golden sun finding its dainty way through the shadows cast by tall, phallic trees. I might compare Caline to Caron Infini crossed with Jean Patou Cocktail (a crisp Fruity Chypre). Somewhere in its depths, I sense a harkening back to Miss Dior for its classical structure and serious, dour presence, but Caline carries itself with a hint of whimsy in its powdery, honeyed oakmoss base, evoking a youthful, optimistic bounce in its step as if the young woman who wears it just might forgo the fussy, corset-like high-waisted long skirt and free herself into that Mary Quant mini dress instead.

Thank You, Bob Herbert (Again)

I'm always thanking Mr. Bob Herbert. I watched Hardball on MSNBC last night. Apparently, you're the only man with any balls in the business. Thank you for standing up against Dick Armey and his appallingly sexist rants against Joan Walsh who certainly held her own in the face of adversity. I'm glad Chris Matthews eventually said something (perhaps the producer or director urged him to), but it was you who set the standard of decency for the public airwaves by calling the sexism for what it was. What does Dick Armey mean when he says he wouldn't tolerate such prattle from his wife - how exactly does he silence her, I wonder? Dick Armey's brand of sexism is no less than bullying at best, at worst terrorism in our homes and offices and needs to be shamed out in the open. (Edited to add): Perhaps this is just that kind of show, in which case, I'd rather watch Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

When I was in 6th grade, I had an awful teacher who had auditioned the class to sing for a school play and had the class vote for who they thought would best fit each role. I had won the vote overwhelmingly to play the lead role, but this teacher decided Sandy in Grease had better be played by a blonde girl even if she couldn't win the vote. There was only one boy who stood up for me back then, confronting the teacher out loud in class for how she'd undone democracy in her own classroom. It made no difference to her because I was "convinced" by this teacher of being awarded the supporting role for artistic reasons - never mind being demoted to a lesser role for her racism- but I never forgot his heroism while no one else in the class has had a thing to say about the injustice, even to this day.

A hero doesn't have to do much except to be the voice in the wilderness, but sometimes, that's the hardest thing to do.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Pantone Color of the Year 2009: Mimosa

I might have guessed that the First Lady would choose a yellow (gold) dress for the Inauguration, because the Pantone Color of the Year 2009 is a shade of yellow called Mimosa (you can see the color on the Pantone site). The actual color strip appears on my monitor to be a warmer shade than the dress worn by Mrs. Obama, but the message is clear, that we're all hoping for a brighter, more optimistic turn of events as we brave the cold and move forward in the new year.

Pantone announced on Dec. 3, 2008: "PANTONE® 14-0848 Mimosa, a warm, engaging yellow, as the color of the year for 2009. In a time of economic uncertainty and political change, optimism is paramount and no other color expresses hope and reassurance more than yellow."


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Paloma Picasso

Many years ago, I got myself a miniature bottle of this extremely opulent and confident power '80s superperfume, not knowing it was a Chypre (I didn't know perfume terminology back then), never in a million years thinking that a boy I liked would tell me it was a nasty, perfumey smell. I was disheartened but I figured I liked the perfume more than I liked him anyway, and kept on wearing it. Funnily enough, he eventually praised the perfume saying his mother absolutely, wildly loved the scent. Go figure! Mama's boy aside (I don't mean that as a pejorative; I love Mama's boys), I've always regarded Paloma Picasso as my favorite perfume in this fragrance family, one I could wear as a signature if I had to choose just one nasty Chypre to call my own. It's spicy, boozy, decadent, dry as a desert and yet glamorous, dazzling, sophisticated and mysterious with a complex, daring blend of classical, animalic Dry Woods/Chypre notes (honey-oatchouli-jasmine, or the "leather" accord), spicy and sweet Oriental tones and lush florals. Granted it's a funky animalic scent, not for everyone. The hyacinth top notes add to the somewhat gasoline-like, urbane character of this sublimely avant garde work of olfactive art by Paloma Picasso, fashion & jewellery designer and daughter of Surrealist artist Pablo Picasso.

I don't know why many Chypre lovers don't like this particular Chypre, because in the end, it's all about woods, woods, mossy woods and more woods, but I suspect it's the sensual, intoxicating, almost Floral Oriental aspect of it, reminiscent of Panthère de Cartier, another gorgeous perfume of its time. It's not a kitschy scent at all, devoid of shock value or obviously unmainstream elements; it's a classical composition with crossover potential, making it a more easily accessible Chypre than most (Chypre being the divisive genre that it is). Most of all, it's a memorable, unique creation with a loyal following. To say Paloma Picasso has influenced my idea of the standard of a great perfume (a mighty perfumey one at that) would be an understatement. As the designer herself, this is a perfume with great style and presence, with a bold and uncompromising, free-spirited and independent attitude.

According to Basenotes:
Paloma Picasso (1984)
Top Notes: Hyancinth, Citrus
Middle Notes: Rose, Mimosa, Coriander
Base Notes: Patchouli, Honey

My Perfume source lists these notes:
Top Notes: bergamot, neroli, jasmine
Middle Notes: rose, ylang-ylang, coriander
Base Notes: patchouli, vetiver, amber

Emporio Armani She (Elle)

Emporio Armani She (Elle) was launched in 1998. This is a nice blend of aqueous-modern elements and a classic Aldehydic Floral as well as Oriental-woody elements. I smell at first a fresh, sporty and spicy (I smell black pepper) accord but it's juxtaposed by a smooth, powdery warm woody-vanillic-fruity-floral-musky-mossy heart and base. Because of the oakmoss, woods and citrus combination, it carries in its sillage a Chypre-like opulent characteristic. I can see why it's considered an Armani classic even though it's one of the relatively newer fragrances in their line. I think the sophisticated, soft-edged minimalist simplicity of it is very Armani in style. It's not overly sweet and has a slightly masculine aftershave-y overtone; I imagine a woman wearing a suit or tuxedo carrying it off. This is the kind of scent that would appeal to lovers of quiet musky skin scents, gourmand Orientals and powdery Aldehydics because it's all those things in one. The gold packaging was paired with an Asian (Malaysian to be exact) model for its ad campaign. While I'm not a fan of race-casting, I thought the use of an interracial couple for its marketing was refreshing. I don't own a bottle of this scent but the women's gold bottle supposedly was designed with an indentation to fit the men's dark gray bottle blessed with a protrusion. OK, so subtle, it's not, but it's a step above FCUK, no?

Emporio Armani She (Elle)

Perfume Genie lists these notes:
Top Notes: cardamom, mandarin, heliotrope
Middle Notes: vanilla, sandalwood, oakmoss
Base Notes: vanilla, cedar, musk

Zeina's Perfume World has another set of notes:
Top notes: Angelica, cardamom, mandarin, bergamot
Heart notes: Heliotrope, jasmine
Base notes: Vanilla, musk, cedar

Monday, January 26, 2009

Strike Two for Ratzy

German Jews condemn pope move over Holocaust denier, Reuters, Mon Jan 26, 2009

Remember the German Pope who brought back the old Latin mass despite breaking an agreement made with the Jewish community back in the 1960s to pull out inflammatory language from it for the sake of peace, to prove some point about the need to get back to the classic traditional mass, to bring back the use of Latin or the musical style, blah blah (as if one point has anything to do with the other)? Ratzy decides to throw more fuel to the fire and throw us back to the age old war between Romans and Jews (66-70 CE) by welcoming back into the church a bishop who denies the Holocaust. So Pope Benedict was never a real Nazi? I guess all this hate creates a nice diversion from the pedophilia problem the Roman Catholic church has. I doubt anyone will forget those crimes which have yet to be paid for, though!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Gucci Rush

Even before the birth of Agent Provocateur (2000), there was a Chypre on the scene that was very popular, and yet most people didn't think of it as being one; Gucci Rush (1999), a FiFi Award winning patchouli-based spicy scent with a heart of gardenia, was getting some limelight alongside Clinique Happy and Christian Dior J'Adore, all launched in the same year. To be precise, its olfactive family is Fruity Chypre, although it doesn't smell all that fruity, nor mossy-woody to me. Spiced milk is how I might describe it. When I first smelled it, I thought it was a unique, well-arranged (or blended as we say) scent, milky but still spicy like cinnamon or carnation, and simultaneously woody although not particularly patchouli-heavy to my nose, and even a touch floral-green and fresh, though not what I'd call aqueous. It smelled fabulously sexy and modern when I tested it at Sephora, and I remember standing on a long line during the Christmas rush to buy it, only to be told by an irate salesperson that I was lucky I chose Gucci Rush because she liked that scent and that was the only reason she would bother giftwrapping it for me. I love New York but maybe not always. I never did get a proper gift box but I thanked her for her generosity anyway...I mean, what can you do when it's just too darn comical?

Sephora lists these notes:
Gucci Rush (1999) - Gardenia, Freesia, Jasmine, Vanilla, Patchouli

Other lists of notes I've found have included peach, vetiver, coriander, cardamom and musk among other notes.

The Dress

I realize the only reason I care is because it's Michelle Obama, but if I may comment on the new and endearing First Lady's outfits for the inauguration, I thought they were great. I loved the Isabel Toledo (fashion illustrator Ruben Toledo's wife) gold number on her, as cold as I thought she must have been in it - she was truly golden, golden (I have Jil Scott in my head as I write) - and if the look were a perfume, it was Amouage Gold. As for her ball gown by another up-and coming designer based in New York, Jason Wu, I thought she chose a genuinely pretty dress, very fairytale-dreamy with a regal (but not too severe, still youthful) Grecian touch, and her face looked radiant and stunning in sheer, shimmery platinum makeup tones. The dress matched her hair perfectly. She looked like a swan, or a moon goddess, and could have smelled of Teint de Neige, Heavenly or Angel (or Angel Innocent) very easily. Incidentally, I wore Teint de Neige to celebrate the ringing in of the new president. May God bless the First Family...The girls were gorgeous in their J. Crew coats, too. I am truly rejoicing in my heart for this day to have come.

(Images:, Associated Press)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

President Barack Obama

The 44th President of the United States of America

Keep on rockin' in the free world

Monday, January 19, 2009


"Old cop just keeps on, 'MOP! MOP!...BE-BOP!...MOP!' That's where Be-Bop came from, beaten right out of some Negro's head into them horns and saxophones and piano keys that plays it..."

(From The Best of Simple, Copyright 1961 by Langston Hughes, reprinted in Black Nationalism and the Revolution in Music by Frank Kofsky, Copyright 1970 Pathfinder Press)

Jazz and the Civil Rights Movement - How Jazz Musicians Spoke Out for Racial Equality By Jacob Teichroew,

(Image: We Insist! Max Roach's Freedom Now Suite, 1960)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a Dream Remembered

Watch, listen to, read the transcript of Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream" delivered on August 28, 1963, at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Yardley English Lavender

I've always enjoyed the cool, high-pitched, aromatic-herbaceous scent of lavender essential oil, known for many healing properties from First Aid to dealing with fatigue and insomnia (read about the history of lavender and its many uses here). Lavender is one of two essential oils (the other is tea tree) considered safe enough to be used directly on skin without base or carrier oil, although dilution is still a good idea since overuse could cause dryness. Also, in high amounts, lavender can be stimulating, not calming (and keep in mind it is often perceived as a spicy scent). Used in the Fougère fragrance family usually reserved for Men, it has crossed over into Women's and has remained a shared favorite scent.

Yardley English Lavender is probably most well-known as soaps, but the cologne that's available today is still of fine quality. From what I understand, Yardley was established in 1770. English Lavender was their first fragrance and the original English Lavender. But the first fougere is credited to Fougère Royale by Houbigant (1882), which might explain why Basenotes lists Yardley English Lavender as having been created in 1873, much closer in date to the Houbigant creation (and still earlier). Fougere was the new technological breakthrough of its time, the imaginary scent of fern not found in nature.

There are many lavender perfumes in the world, but Yardley English Lavender is probably the most famous of all. I had known of its existence all my life, but it's only recently that I've had the chance to actually try it on. This is a lavender soliflore for the most part (meaning it's a blend focused on lavender, not smelling like much of the other notes in it), but I've discovered that it has a very comforting, subtly sweet tonka base, perfect for this vanilla lover. Even if you didn't like Guerlain Jicky, and you can't get your hands on a coveted bottle of Twilight (trust me, Twilight and English Lavender smell pretty similar), I think you would find in Yardley English Lavender a delightful lavender fragrance with a trace of complexity. Overall, it's a light (and fleeting, especially in cologne concentration) and fresh scent, great for any gender and practically all ages, for the office or for spritzing before bedtime to relax, but it can be an inviting floral for other more intimate occasions, too, thanks to the warm and delicious (although sheer, like a tulle veil) tonka dry down (edited to add: the tonka-sweet powdery base lasts well on me). It's subtle, delicate, superbly genteel.

Perfume Intelligence - the Encyclopaedia of Perfume lists the following notes:
Yardley English Lavender (1770, Re-launched in 1913)
Top Notes: lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, bergamot
Heart Notes: spike lavender, clary sage, geranium, cedar
Base notes: moss, tonka bean and musk

Top 10 of January 2009

I'm sure by now you've seen or read the news coverage of the Miracle on the Hudson to know how frigid it's been here in NYC. Yesterday, temps were lower here than in Anchorage, Alaska. I hope everyone's finding ways to get toasty wherever you are, and that people are able to find the shelters, warm coats and working radiators they need to get through this brutally icy Arctic cold.

My January 2009 Top 10 list proves that changing temps influence my perfume choices. Right now, I've rediscovered Lea and I'm loving Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige, both scents I'd always admired but often dismissed as too powdery and musky. The almost tactile density of these feel good to me now, like a blanket of warm, spun sugar snow. I'm also digging the hypersweet, creamy-spicy almond-vanillic strength of Dior Hypnotic Poison and the delicate-as-old-lace, woody-ambery peachy white floral skin scent of Penhaligon's Artemisia. I'm into musk these days, which as you may already know is atypical of me.

Here are the choices for my current '09 winter wardrobe (including my beloved decants and samples):

1. Penhaligon's Artemisia
2. Cacharel Noa
3. Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige
4. Christian Dior Hypnotic Poison
5. Lea St. Barth
6. Twilight (who really makes this perfume - does anyone know?)
7. Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum Iris Poudre
8. Frederic Malle Editions de Parfum Musc Ravageur
9. Pucci Vivara
10. Jo Malone Blue Agava & Cacao

(Image: Jocelyn Vollmar as the Snow Queen,

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Miracle on the Hudson

Those were chilling moments for everyone involved, and harrowing even for those of us witnessing the rescue, but they were able to evacuate the plane within 90 seconds. Wow! Thank God! Gotta love this city!!!

Versace White Jeans

This perfume rocks and I love it so much, even though it's a pretty in-your-face one. I guess that's the beauty of it; after all, what rocks should be good and loud, like a voice cutting through the air projecting from a well-trained diaphragm. Versace White Jeans (1997) is a carnation-spicy Chypre (although I wouldn't have known that until I saw it categorized as such) with a white floral heart and a touch of peachy fruits. It reminds me of a cross between Jil Sander Sun and Guerlain L'Heure Bleue, with the larger-than-life presence and sexy attitude of Givenchy Amarige, Giorgio Beverly Hills Red or Calvin Klein Obsession. It's a crying shame it's discontinued - I think it's the best fragrance Versace has ever offered besides The One (correction: The One is by Dolce & Gabanna - my apologies). White Jeans is a whiteness I imagine as long, tall Greco-Roman columns or a dollop of clotted cream.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Agent Provocateur

We could say the nouveau Chypre was a trend before the birth of Chanel Coco Mademoiselle (2001 Fruity Chypre) and Chance (2002 Fruity Chypre), although Agent Provocateur (2000) which preceded it was never the kind of scent that the mainstream would take to as easily as those. Agent Provocateur had brought back Jean Couturier Coriandre (1973) - in fact, the two smell almost identical to me except Agent Provocateur smells like the more synthetic, linear, less blatantly animalic and raunchy one. I've had mixed comments on this scent, from "nail polish remover" to "sexy" (from the same person who loves Narciso Rodriguez For Her (2003), another nouveau Chypre). Although I can't credit Agent Provocateur for singlehandedly bringing back the Chypre (Thierry Mugler Angel (1992), although not a Chypre, was the one that used patchouli in megadoses to herald the patch trend of the last 17 years, and patch is used in leather scents), I think Agent Provocateur was at least instrumental in leading the way for others to follow (edited to add: Ooh, I may have spoken too fast again. Check out my Gucci Rush (1999) post).

So what kind of scent is Agent Provocateur? I'd say leather-rose-moss, punchy sharp like booze, bold, dark and strong (this scent will stick to me for two days), spicy, basenoted and heavy, although linear. It smells aggressive, mercilessly unsweet, like a woman with a whip who's had a few drinks. I can find this scent sexy if I'm not repelled by it, and I honestly go through opposing phases with this perfume. It's definitely a mood scent for me. Don't be too scared by my description, though - I would try it if you're a fan of these dry Chypres (leathery floral ones in particular): Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Robert Piguet Bandit, Ungaro Diva, Paloma Picasso, Gres Cabochard, Guepard, Animale, and leather-woody Orientals such as Bulgari Black.

Note the hand grenade bottle came before Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb. Well, maybe hand grenade-meets-pink Easter egg. Put it all together: Frisky bombshell man-killer perfume? You bet.

Listed on Basenotes:
Agent Provocateur (2000 Chypre)
Top Notes: Saffron, Coriander
Middle Notes: Moroccan Rose, Jasmin, Magnolia, Ylang Ylang, White Gardenia
Base Notes: Vetiver, Amber, Musk

I smell patchouli and so does Victoria, fragrance writer for Bois de Jasmin.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pucci Vivara

Pucci Vivara is the other fragrance I was impressed by during my latest sniffathon at Sephora. I know there's a vintage Pucci Vivara in existence but I've never smelled it. I can only guess that it was a patchouli-based leather Chypre born in the 1960s, along the lines of Gres Cabochard, because the new version reminds me of the heavyweight Chypres of yesteryear: Cabochard, Halston, Y, Knowing, Cassini (although it's not as Fruity Chypre as that, and to be a bit too opinionated, not nearly as skanky). As the conservative era comes to a close, the nouveau Chypre is already a bit dated in the minds of many; however, the era can toast the ultimate nightcap with this new Vivara, a stunning take on the Chypre perfume. True to its genre, it is an audacious, divisive, perfumey, even shrill, aggressive scent, but at the same time, it's sophisticated, sexy, supremely confident and extroverted. It's not a crowd-pleaser but on the right woman and to the particular taste of the Chypre lover, Vivara is an exciting scent. The great Chypres such as Guerlain Mitsouko, Carven Ma Griffe, Miss Dior, Givenchy Ysatis, Paloma Picasso, Van Cleef & Arpels Gem and Ungaro Diva can all be proud of their successor, Pucci Vivara, which with its unadulterated in-your-face-leather handbag smell, made Miss Dior Cherie look like an imposter when it came to passing on the Chypre lineage into the new millemium.

However, Vivara is a new kid on the block with a light, almost candied green and fruity-floral makeover. As audacious as Vivara may be, it's too polite to, say, go the way of Ma Griffe with its claws to leave marks on a man (though you might have never seen this feisty side of the soapy, green, serious vintage debutante perfume). Vivara may be more of a tipsy tease than an actual man-killer fume (Vivara, like many Chypres, smells boozy to me) but it puts me in a tongue-in-cheek, black-and-white movie-retro "tawdry lady (the completely misogynistic good girl/bad-girl dichotomy of "lady in the bedroom, whore in bed", maybe thanks to the old myth about Venus being a goddess who rules the growth of crops in Spring, then sends people to their death in Fall with famine, that two-faced snake, the fake Light of the World!)"...where was I? Oh, yes...that type of playful, dramatic atmosphere. Getting back to Chypre, this type of bold, strong, at times harshly, wooded and green, staid and seemingly sexless (one might perceive as androgynous, or like men's cologne smell) seriousness isn't really, but more of a spoof on seriousness, and perhaps even a sociopolitical statement, an olfactory diary of what it was to be a woman in a time when our worth was literally measured by class and material wealth - dowries and our husbands' social standings.

Controversial as the not-always-liked Chypre accord may be, I enjoy the semi-skanky (read: green (clean) yet animalic (dirty)), suggestively naughty scent, but the chypratic stage doesn't last; Vivara leaves after just an hour or two at most, and bids farewell with not so much as a chaste, friendly kiss on the cheek (edited to add: the part of the dry down that lasts is a cool, aqueous note). Well, I suppose it wouldn't be a Chypre if it ended on a sweeter note. This is a scent that isn't there to comfort and soothe - too boring for the thrillseeker - but to leave you aching for more.

Notes on Now Smell This:
Pucci Vivara (2007)
Top notes: galbanum, Italian bergamot, amaretto accord
Middle notes: jasmine, orange flower, narcissus
Base notes: Florentine iris, vetiver, Indonesian patchouli


Monday, January 12, 2009

Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible

I wish I'd tried this fragrance sooner, or I might have included it in my Top 10 list of 2008. I'm glad I went to Sephora today after my voice over session. I walked in and smelled everything I hadn't tried before, but was only wowed by two perfumes, and this was one of them. It reminds me of many fragrances I already like such as Armani Code, Victoria's Secret Very Sexy Hot, Chanel Allure Sensuelle, Pecksniff's Natural Floral and Hugo Boss Deep Red, but I think it stands on its own as a memorable scent. At first sniff, I noticed a coconut suntan oil smell I also detect in Ralph Wild. All in all, it's a soft, sensual Floral Oriental (although Sephora lists it under Floral, or Floral Woody), a bit rich and powdery but modern and dry, with a thankfully very subdued patchouli base! I can fall in love with patchouli if it's this delicate, almost undetectable. This perfume can be summed up as a warm, very slightly spicy, sweet white floral-mandarin orange woody-ambery blend. After wearing Le Cherche Midi No.14 for awhile, Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible makes for a dramatic take on a similar theme, the sunny, sweet mandarin orange floral with a green twist. Turn up the nighttime glamour in this - it's my favorite of the Givenchy Irresistible series. I'm not nuts about the bottle design but the colors work for me, and I want one anyway! I may just go for the sleek red roll-on, too!

Sephora lists these notes:

Givenchy Absolutely Irresistible (2008 Floral): green mandarin orange, red berries, red pepper, Egyptian jasmine, orange blossom, heliotrope, cedar, patchouli and amber.


Sunday, January 11, 2009

L’Eau Diptyque

Back when I used to read Allure magazine (in the Kevin Aucoin days), this scent was introduced as a Shalom Harlow favorite. When I'd read that L'Eau Diptyque was based on a potpourri recipe from the 16th century, I knew I had to try it. L'Eau is probably my favorite in the niche line of simple but well-composed blends. They've got nice-looking bottles, too; I like how they're marketed with an attractive, streamlined gothic image. The notes listed in L'Eau are cinnamon, geranium, sandalwood, rose, cloves. To me, it smells like Christmas potpourri but better: a slightly medicinal (probably due to the herbaceous aspect of it) yet wearable and refined cinnamon-and-clove scent. Carnation is a clove-like scent in perfume, so you can bet on it being thoroughly spicy. It's not sweet at all but a dark, mysterious woodsy-aromatic blend made light, sheer and outdoorsy-fresh, intelligently modernized so you don't smell too medieval.

According to Basenotes, L'Eau Diptyque was created in 1968.

Other scents I like by Diptyque are Ofresia (a sweet, simple freesia soliflore) and L'Ombre dans L'Eau (a slightly sharp and bitter, green rose blend).


Jil Sander Sun

Jil Sander Sun (1989) has a rich, musky woody-vanillic-ambery base coupled with a full floral heart, characteristic of fragrances of its time period and comparable to Liz Claiborne, Cacharel Lou Lou, Versace White Jeans and Lagerfeld Sun, Moon and Stars. I'd bought a mini of it some years ago and never used it, but then, this winter, I suddenly found myself liking it enough to wear. I would describe it as a rich Floral Oriental with a creamy character, not far from the white floral-amber-heavy cream-feeling of Cacharel Anais Anais, but with an added spicy woody edge as found in Versace White Jeans, just softer, not as Chypre, and less dramatic, not as carnation-spicy. I'm quite certain all of these fragrances were greatly influenced by Christian Dior Poison, because they are robust powerfloral Oriental types. Jil Sander Sun is, as the name suggests, an optimistic-smelling composition brimming with spring flowers, as deliciously golden as a narcissus flower. It's decadent and strong in its seductive floralcy of white flowers (jasmine, orange blossom), green and indolic lily-of-the-valley and the ever-present charismatic rose, but minimalist and future-forward in its pre-Cashmere Mist "skin scent" woody-vanillic-musky arrangement. What a warm and sweet scent to be worn in the sun; it must have been Jean Patou Chaldée in another life.

Notes from Fragrance X:
Jil Sander Sun (1989) - A Warm Floral Aroma For Women With Green And Fruity Notes. Top Notes: Bergamot, Rosewood
Heart Notes: Jasmine, Lily Of The Valley, Rose, Orange Blossom
Base Nottes: Patchouli, Amber, Vanilla


Demeter Strawberry Ice Cream

Demeter Strawberry Ice Cream is the scent of pure nostalgia for me, from the shiny, scented liquid roll-on lip glosses to Strawberry Pocky. I do get a sweet, somewhat creamy vanillic base in this cologne, so I'll give it the seal of approval for it to be called Strawberry Ice Cream. It has a lively candied fruity note while being toffee-sweet. It's not a musky scent but straightforward and innocent in its vanillic goodness. Demeter cologne sprays are known for their fast disappearing act, but this scent is strong for cologne concentration, and has good lasting power. I can't do a whole spritz of this scent or it's too powerful, so my small decant, which I'm using like pure parfum, dabbing one dot at a time, should last me awhile. The cologne itself has a fairly dark red tint in it. Simple, jubilant, absolutely yummy...the timeless inner girl in me rejoices each time I smell it.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fred Kimmel "Jazz Bad" Featuring Sali Oguri Back on Broadjam's New York Top 10; Fred Kimmel #1, 2, 3 in Experimental

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Rock Electronica & Soundtrack Producer-Artist Fred Kimmel's Drum 'N Bass classic "Jazz Bad" featuring Sali's jazz scat vocal gymnastics on speed is back on the New York Top 10 indie music chart on Broadjam! It's still holds the #2 position after 2 solid years of being revived time and time again on the Electronic - Drum 'N Bass Top 10!

Fred Kimmel "Rainy Town" featuring Sali Oguri on vocals is also back at #2 on the Electronic - Trance Top 10 Chart on Broadjam!

Click on the
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banner to check the current standings in Drum N' Bass.

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

Congratulations to Fred Kimmel who's RULING the top 3 positions back to back on Broadjam's Electronic - Experimental Top 10 chart today:

Fred Kimmel "Madmess" - #1
Fred Kimmel "Executive Power Lunch" - #2
Fred Kimmel "hibye" - #3

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Click to check the current standings in Experimental.

Fred's songs are everywhere on the Broadjam charts, across the genres:

"ICU" - #3 in Rock - Progressive Rock
"Somethin' Smokey" - #4 in Electronic - Downbeat
"Take Me" - #7 in Rock - New Wave

Original music by Fred Kimmel is available for purchase on Broadjam. Click here, then go to SONGS on left side panel.

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Thank you for your continued support. Peace and Love, and wishing you a happy and successful 2009 from all of us at WUJ.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

WUJ Productions Presents The Fred Kimmel Show, Jan.9, 2009 @ The Starving Artist Cafe & Gallery


Starring Fred Kimmel and Friends

8:00 and 9:00 PM - Friday, January 9, 2009
The Starving Artist Cafe and Gallery
249 City Island Ave., City Island, NY 718-885-3779
(purple awning next door to Breakers)

Twilight - The Perfume

I have a new scent obsession and its name is Twilight. Yes, I'm talking about the perfume inspired by the book series (by Stephanie Meyer) and movie. I have neither read the books nor seen the film but I have a feeling I will now have to pick up a book and at least skim through the parts that describe the scent of the characters in detail. My review is for the perfume being sold at Borders. I had first heard about this new perfume through an online friend who was kind enough to go smell it before I had the chance to, and let me know it smelled very pretty and of good quality, worthy of the trek to go sniff in person. We both thought the bottle was a blatant knockoff of Nina Ricci's perfume called Nina, an apple-shaped bottle with silver leaves - tacky to be so unoriginal but the contents of this copycat bottle (cheaper made than Nina but in a darker shade of red to give it the goth look) took me by surprise because it actually is a well composed scent. The inscription on the bottle reading "the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest" is laughable jailbait material, but the perfume inside is not your average teenybopper body spray. Twilight is gifted with a mature charm called subtlety, unfolding in layers at that.

The notes given are lavender and freesia but we smell white musk (I wouldn't say it's like Amazing Grace but it's a white musk, just less musky, less obvious than most) and woods (I would say there's a trace of cedar and patchouli) - my friend also smells in it cool incense and moss (she has a terrific nose). Overall, it's a cool, aromatic scent that starts out bracing and ends on a beautiful floral note. The lavender is of fine quality, and as my friend noted, the perfume has a deep, chypre-like richness, although it is a light and ethereal scent. Very surprisingly, I'm reminded of the cool wooded tones in vintage Givenchy III...briefly, and without all the leather-gardenia. I think if you don't like lavender, it would be hard to like, because that is the predominant note until the final dry down. I'd always adored lavender in Guerlain Jicky and Serge Lutens Gris Clair, and just as I'd hoped, the freesia note gave the lavender in Twilight the desired amount of underlying sweetness.

I also sense in this blend a very subtle honeylike musky (baby product-ish) base, almost reminiscent of DK Cashmere Mist or Avon Sweet Honesty except Twilight isn't nearly as powdery sweet and heavy. (Edited to add) I'm also reminded of Burberry The Beat, especially the woody-musky and slightly spicy part. These perfumes I compared to Twilight are Oriental whereas Twilight is definitely more of a fougere-Floral. The dry down of Twilight is a bit aqueous and floral-green, even a touch fruity, like how Herbal Essence shampoo once smelled: clean, light and evanescent, all with a pleasant, cool lavendery herbaceous spiciness. I think of The Cloisters, or more accurately, their medieval garden in which herbs from the time period are grown. I think of wet stones and echoing Gregorian chants. However, it's not as classic-smelling as you might imagine, either. I think if Clinique Happy turned into a high-pitched aromatic floral, it could smell like Twilight. Lavender to some noses, especially young ones, might be a bit bracing like aftershave, but underneath the spiky herbs, Twilight is a delicious, youthfully light, perfectly retro-modern floral for our time. I wonder if the Borders bottles are selling for half the price at Hot Topic - does anyone know if this is so, and why?

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Added on 1/14/09 - Nina Ricci to sue makers of Twilight, Posted by Robin on 14 January 2009, Now Smell This

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sean John Unforgivable

I liked the Women's version of Unforgivable, which, to my nose, was similar to Usher She, which I had described as a pale version of the discontinued Amouage Ubar, an unforgivably dramatic, musky heavyweight of a Perfume. Now, I've had the chance to try the Men's Unforgivable, and it's a great scent, too - musky as well but much, much lighter and sheerer than the Women's, and very much like Creed Silver Mountain Water, a crisp, airy blend with a distinctly musky, aqueous and herbaceous character. As a woman who loves Silver Mountain Water on a man and for herself to wear, I also find Unforgivable for Men pleasantly wearable. The dry down stage is a bit on the acidic, aftershave-y side compared to the Creed creation, but I would still vote Sean John Unforgivable the Best Celeb Fragrance for Men if I ever were to award one as such on Pink Manhattan blog.


Happy New Year from Pink Manhattan!

New York City Sunrise by Melissa Wotherspoon

Acrylic on canvas 9 x 12, February 2003

Self Representing Artists

Sali Oguri Persephone Perfume Voted Best of 2008

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This was a great note to end 2008 on, and it's also a fabulous way to kick off my New Year. Sali Oguri Persephone perfume has been awarded Best of 2008 by Beth on Perfume-Smellin' Things blog! Click on the image or on this link to read the article. Many, many thanks to my perfangel and lovely friend, Beth, and all my friends @ PST!