Sunday, February 27, 2011

Fragrance of the Moment

Oh, my, this is pretty, pretty, pretty! ♥ I wish I hadn't missed this launch in 2010, but because the first "Scent" didn't knock me out, I didn't think of seeking out its flanker. This is such a love-at-first-sniff Floral, up there with Creed Spring Flower, Jean Patou Un Amour de Patou, all of my favorite timeless floral bouquets with gentle watercolor touches of soft fruits and fresh greens. Issey Miyake A Scent Eau de Parfum Florale has notes of jasmine, rose, peony, hyacinth, ylang ylang and galbanum. It is a Green Floral, but not as sharp and astringently soapy as you might expect; it has just enough sweetness underneath the dry, clean (but not laundry detergentesque - still wearable at the office) modern floralcy that brings to my mind a cross between, say, the flirty, nature-oriented evanescence of L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse aux Papillons with the sprightly, streamlined modernity of Burberry Sport.

Like Burberry Sport which is more citric and tropical in character but a new generation of Floral nonetheless, A Scent Florale dries down to a musky (but not overwhelmingly so), woody finish, with that wonderful new musk (!), muted in sillage, without a tinge of animalic tone that turns a polite garden floral into a sweaty boudoir fragrance. Brimming with lightness and hope, this is a scent that will take you places. Fans of Pierre Balmain Vent Vert, Chanel No.19, Floris Seringa, Elizabeth Arden Pretty, Clinique Happy, Perry Ellis or Alfred Sung might find a new, lively (yes, youthful) alternative in this fabulous offering by the designer fragrance house that gave us the iconic L'Eau d'Issey. Come spring, I want to waft in this understated beauty in a minimalist bottle, presented in a classy peachy hue reminiscent of the forever-feminine Chanel Allure and Marc Jacobs Blush.

There have been a number of lovely flankers with the name "Florale" (or "Fleur") attached (Kenzo and Dior come to mind), but Issey Miyake is probably my most favorite Florale of all. Then again, it could just be my current mood; if the others smelled more like oranges, A Scent Florale, because of the peony note, smells more like an apple.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eumir Deodato - Black Widow / Univac Loves You

Beautiful chord changes and funky grooves from the pianist / arranger extraordinaire Eumir Deodato's 1976 Very Together

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Cartier L'Heure Mystérieuse

I have been a long-time fan of Cartier perfumes since discovering Panthère parfum in the 1990s. Their fragrances have always been high quality, exquisitely packaged and true to their aesthetic. I have followed their launches into more recent years with offerings such as Délices de Cartier Eau Fruitée, and hoped to find something new to love by this illustrious fragrance house, fine jeweler and watchmaker. L'Heure Mystérieuse is the launch I've waited for, a beautiful fragrance that seems to weave the intricate, delicate melancholy of Guerlain L'Heure Bleue together with the edgy, modern aesthetic of Comme des Garçons Avignon. Truly, it is one of the most beautiful scents I've experienced.

Many incense blends are linear and dry, but Cartier L'Heure Mystérieuse is a full-bodied and round composition, as brilliant as a jewel. The heart of this noble composition is jasmine, which mutually supports the mysteriously dark incense notes of frankincense and patchouli made gustative and sensual with vanilla. Words that come to mind when I wear this scent are elegant, luxurious, serene and meditative but also bewitching and sexy. Cartier L'Heure Mysterieuse is a shared fragrance between Men and Women; I believe it is going to gain many fans as more perfume lovers discover this fairly obscure 2009 launch, part of Cartier's exclusive Les Heures de Parfum collection.

If L'Heure Mystérieuse (XII) is an indication, Mathilde Laurent has created for Cartier a masterpiece collection with Les Heures de Parfum, a conceptually interesting line of fragrances to fit a perfume wearer's moments in time with interpretations of different hours in a day. Although I have yet to sample the rest of this line, it seems the first hour, Promise (I) is the lightest olfactory interpretation featuring iris in a Floral setting, and La Treizième Heure (XIII) the heaviest featuring leather. If I'm correct, the other fragrances in-between would incrementally get heavier, or darker, between the hours of I and XIII. Theoretically and artistically, it would make sense, then, that L'Heure Mystérieuse XII being a woody, vanillic Floral Oriental (edited: osMoz lists it as a Woody Oriental) with pronounced smoky incense notes, would be among the more intense offerings in the line. I will get back to you one day when I try the others, as to whether this theory holds true.

Cartier's in-house master perfumer Mathilde Laurent has composed several fragrances for Guerlain including Attrape Coeur (Guet-Apens) and Shalimar Eau Légère (Shalimar Light).

Friday, February 18, 2011

European Commission Bans Musk Xylene

European Commission Bans Musk Xylene February 18, 2011

BRUSSELS, February 18, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- "The European Commission has just announced its decision to ban the fragrance material Musk xylene under the new European Chemicals Legislation REACH, bringing EU regulations in line with the global IFRA Standards." EU Regulation Follows Fragrance Industry's Voluntary Global Ban - Source IFRA

This isn't news if you've been a perfumer or perfume enthusiast in the last ten years, but it is perhaps noteworthy to mention that banned nitro musks are still widely available through various manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors, many of which are based in China and India. I've listed some links below where you can read about the different types of musks that are available, including the newer, safer alternatives which have been replacing nitro musks since the 1980s - 1990s.

Musk Xylol (Musk Xylene) being sold (offered through the site "for educational purposes only") at is described as a "fatty dry sweet musk; tenacious" base note.

An artificial musk was obtained by Albert Baur in 1888 by condensing toluene with isobutyl bromide in the presence of aluminium chloride, and nitrating the product. It was discovered accidentally as a result of Baur's attempts at producing a more effective form of trinitrotoluene (TNT)." Synthetic musk - Wikipedia

According to The new perfume handbook By Nigel Groom (1997), nitro musks Musk Xylene (Musk Baur) and Musk Ketone are no longer used.

" (...) Japan has completely banned musk xylene; the United States in 1979 forbade companies from using musk xylene in cosmetic products that may be ingested; and the German detergent industry voluntarily removed musk xylene from production in 1993. (...) Some individual companies also report that they are beginning to phase nitro musks out of their products. For example, The Body Shop states on its website that it currently sells products containing musk xylene, musk ketone and polycyclic musk, but that new products are being developed without these ingredients to replace existing products." Chemicals: Cosmetics Identified in Breast Milk: Nitro Musks -

"Limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect (European Union classification); Limited evidence of a carcinogenic effect; Explosive; Risk of explosion by shock, friction, fire or other sources of ignition; Dangerous for the environment; Very toxic to aquatic organisms European Union - Classification & Labelling" Musk xylene - Human Toxome Project

Synthesized Musk (Malin + Goetz) May 29, 2008

Fragrance Ingredient: Musks Bois de Jasmin blog, November 23, 2005

Here is my previous post on the subject: Musk Xylene, Musk Ketone: The Dangers of Nitro Musks April 24, 2008 Pink Manhattan

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Xerjoff Casamorati 1888: Bouquet Ideale, Elle, Oesel

(Xerjoff Casamorati: Bouquet Ideale, Parfums Raffy)

Xerjoff Casamorati 1888: Bouquet Ideale is part of XerJoff Vintage Casamorati Collection. According to Xerjoff, this collection recreates the history of La “Fabbrica di Profumi C. Casamorati” established in Bologna, Italy, founded between the 18th and 19th centuries. Casamorati 1888 is named for the approximate year of the birth of the historical house. Xerjoff is a relatively new perfume house, established in 2003.

My first Xerjoff love is Verona 010, but Bouquet Ideale is equally fantastic. I'm very smitten with Bouquet Ideale, something of an ideal because I can experience both the beauty of a Floral Oriental and the edgy, smoky qualities of a Spicy Oriental in one. It is classified as a Spicy Oriental, featuring the following notes: powdery Cashmere accord, papyrus, cinnamon, nutmeg, tobacco flowers, labdanum absolute, vanilla, coumarin and musks. My first impression was that of vanilla with subtle hints of strawberry (it is an unlisted note but one my nose picks up). As the scent develops, it goes through a sweet Floral Oriental phase, and then, it takes an unexpected turn, with smokiness, tangy dried fruits and spices taking center stage.

If you are familiar with the spicy, dried fruits-and-leathery woods accord of Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe (2003), the scent is very similar. For me, Bouquet Ideale seems more floral, and to have more vanillic softness in the base. I'm also vaguely reminded of Penhaligon's Amaranthine. The spiciness I get here is simultaneously sharp and tart, a perfect balance with smoky, leathery woods. Cedar is not listed but the effect I get from the overall scent is somewhat cedar-like. As far as leatheriness goes, I don't get animalic notes from it. It is a clean, modernized version of a classic fragrance type. Perhaps it's evocative of the perfumed leather gloves as worn in Tsarist Russia, very much like Ambre Russe (although what I really get from Ambre Russe is dried fruits in a hookah). The subtle red berry note makes Bouquet Ideale a unique and well-rounded composition.

Sorry to change the subject, but I have one question regarding the Casamorati series: Xerjoff's website lists one fragrance I hadn't seen on any websites in the USA called Lira. The notes sound like they could be the same as the notes for Verona. Could they possibly be the same fragrance under different names? It's wishful thinking, since Verona is a limited edition and could disappear in no time, but I want to try Lira so badly, just to be sure.

(Xerjoff Casamorati 1888: Lira,

Now, here are my impressions of a couple of other Xerjoffs I recently tried:

Xerjoff Elle: This fragrance is part of the 17/17 line. The sample I have is parfum according to Parfums Raffy. As expected, it is concentrated; a tiny swipe with the plastic wand is enough to fill some airspace. The most prominent note in the opening is strawberry - this is a wallop of candy strawberry, red and sweet, megafruity. As other notes emerge, the combination of a full floral heart and a musky, creamy base reminds me of the original (now discontinued) Gianni Versace Versus Donna (1991 red bottle) which featured Carla Bruni in the ad (some sources say she actually wears Versus). I also smell prominent vintage florals, a very potent floral nectar as I've smelled in Crown Bouquet (1936). This scent is not my style, but lovers of big, sweet florals (like Gianfranco Ferre, which I used to love in the '80s along with Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle) might love it, provided you don't mind strawberries and cream in the otherwise retro Floral mix. (Update: Here is my XJ Elle review from July 11, 2011)

(Xerjoff Shooting Stars, Das Duft-Tagebuch

Xerjoff Oesel: This offering, which is part of the Shooting Stars collection, is marketed to Men, but it is a very floral number. There are huge hyacinths at the start (I know this hyacinth note, as I've used it in my Unreleased Mix Persephone). Orange blossoms emerge, blending with the fresh Green white florals, and I am reminded of vintage Casaque. The musky, creamy dry down is remarkably similar to both Serge Lutens Fleurs de Citronnier (2004) and Jean-Paul Gaultier Fleur du Mâle (in the end, I think it's closer to Fleurs de Citronnier). I love that little key that comes with the packaging for the Xerjoff Shooting Stars line (I don't know if all Shooting Stars scents come with it), but my heart is still stolen by Verona and Bouquet Ideale.

Many thanks to Parfums Raffy for super fast shipping, and for the beautiful carded samples of Oesel and Bouquet Ideale (I was expecting all decanted samples).

I will report back when I try more fragrances in this dreamy luxury niche line.

Related link: From Romeo and Juliet to the Taj Mahal: My Xerjoff Verona Review February 12, 2011 Pink Manhattan

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour, 1967

"I think anything that has to do with sexuality makes people very interested." Catherine Deneuve Quotes -

Saturday, February 12, 2011

From Romeo and Juliet to the Taj Mahal: My Xerjoff Verona Review

According to Xerjoff, their Verona fragrance is named for the Italian city renowned for setting the stage for Shakespeare's star-crossed young lovers, Romeo and Juliet. Xerjoff Verona (V010) by the Italian House of Xerjoff is a limited edition fragrance, currently being offered exclusively at Parfums Raffy ( within the USA. The niche line consists of over 20 different fragrances, and I chose Verona as my first to try. The notes on the website are as follows: Calabrian Bergamot, Lavender, Bulgarian Rose, Sambac Jasmin, Cinnamon, Vanilla Bourbon, Licorice flowers, bitter Almonds, Caramel, White Musk and hits of powdery Cashmere. This is definitely an Oriental-Gourmand, although your mileage may vary whether you'll feel it's a "young" or "grown up" interpretation of the genre. To my nose, it's versatile and can be worn by all ages, but you must have a sweet tooth and not mind a bit of musk. Here's the short review: Verona is the lovechild of Solange Azagury-Partridge Stoned / Prada Infusion d'Iris and Laurence Dumont Tendre Madeleine. The detailed story below may give you an idea of how a fragrance named in honor of a timeless love story interweaves with another romantic legend through its actual scent.

Verona 010 reminded me almost immediately of Solange Azagury-Partridge Stoned as well as Prada Infusion d'Iris (which I find similar to Stoned); both of these are reminiscent to me of Guerlain Shalimar, particularly the combination of lemony bergamot with vanillic-spicy-ambery notes, but whereas Shalimar showcases sandalwood, the newer set seems to focus on a nouveau woody-animalic benzoin-labdanum base. Beyond the powdery, sweet and spicy lemon cake aura, I found a hint of raunchy muskiness as comparable to L de Lolita Lempicka, Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur, and of a little known favorite of mine called Laurence Dumont Tendre Madeleine. It's nowhere near as animalic as Musc Ravageur (another fragrance related to Shalimar), so you can expect a much cleaner version of a similar theme. If Tendre Madeleine was a bit on the sugary rich side, Verona offers similar qualities with the somewhat herbaceous transparency of Infusion d'Iris.

It is lightly powdery but with caramel and cashmere musk, not a retro fragrance - the trendy transparency has an approachable, contemporary feel, but the candied, youthful aspect is particularly heartbreaking when you realize the story of Romeo and Juliet hits home because it is true, based on the lives of two young people. Zerjoff Verona's story is rich with visceral emotion as only an Italian house could tell about its famous city. Through teardrops and candyfloss, the perfume sets a backdrop of classical tone with olfactory echoes of the story of the Taj Mahal, the symbol of love, for which Shalimar had come to life.

(Image: L’ultimo bacio dato a Giulietta da Romeo, by Francesco Hayez, 1823 Wikimedia Commons)

Tchaikovsky - Romeo And Juliet - Fantasy Overture - Finale

Related link: Xerjoff Casamorati 1888: Bouquet Ideale, Elle, Oesel February 15, 2011 Pink Manhattan

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fragrance of the Moment

There are some scathing reviews of this perfume online, so I knew I was in for something enigmatic. My gut feeling was right and I am not disappointed.

For starters, if you're looking for a truly Gourmand almond scent, this might not fit the bill, because it's not the usual hypersweet honeyed and musky interpretation of it - nor is it a very spicy one, as many almond lovers might come to expect of an almond. It's actually quite floral, slightly bitter like lemon peel on top, and a bit fruity, like there's a soft peach note in it somewhere, rounded out with what smells to me like moss. It has all of the classical elements of a Floral perfume in a pyramid structure, with overlapping Turkish Delight (lokum) character brought to the banquet table with honeyed almonds and rich Vanilla absolute. The 'dirty' note many reviewers have pointed out, I believe, is the floral note, which has a tinge of "Charmin tissue paper" smell to it, as I also find in Montale Intense Tiare and Chanel No.22 which is another love of mine (I guess that dirty note doesn't bother me enough to turn me off, although I admit it is rather unusual). I'm not sure if this undertone is an aldehyde, but all of these perfumes seem to be Aldehydic to a point (Chanel No.22 is the one Aldehydic Floral in the bunch), as often characterized by a fizzy powderiness. Montale Amandes Orientales is not, however, what I'd call a straight ahead Aldehydic powdery Floral, but rather a soft, lightly citrusy and mildly spicy Floral Oriental-Gourmand.

Another explanation for the "dirty" note might be the honey note itself, which, as I've covered in a previous post, is notorious for smelling urinous to many people (as well as it's known for being an aphrodisiac), but to my nose, the honey in Amandes Orientales is not at all urinous (for example, in the way I find Serge Lutens Miel de Bois). It's not even as animalic as I find the honey note in L'Artisan Parfumeur Orchidée Blanche, a grand, complex fragrance so often maligned as smelling of urinal cake. What I get from Amandes Orientales is a perfect morsel of nutty lokum, finely powdered and so very refined in its tempered sweetness. The sweetness gets more intense in the final dry down stages when I detect a creamy, slightly caramelized vanillic accord moving towards the crème brulée range. It never actually goes that far, but close enough that I'm reminded of Laura Mercier (so, maybe it will be gourmand enough for sweets lovers).

Amandes Orientales (Parfums Pierre Montale, launched in year 2000) is listed as a shared fragrance between men and women. (Image:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Uploaded by Spotnick2 on You Tube on August 12, 2006
Video done by Sputnikk Productions of the song Primitive Notions from New Order's 2001 album Get Ready. Final student project actually.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I Will Always Love You, Gary Moore

Gary Moore is one of my music heroes. I'm so sad we lost such a great guitarist and singer-songwriter, who left us with beautiful rock ballads and kicka** solos for aspiring musicians to learn.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Lunar New Year!

Uploaded by Bobu2357 | May 08, 2007

Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross - "Cottontail" (composed by Duke Ellington) from Lambert, Hendricks & Ross Sing Ellington

Happy Lunar / Chinese New Year to all who celebrate!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Top 10 Fragrances in Time for Valentine's

Who, me, tradition? Not usually, but I still had to write the obligatory pre-Valentine's Day perfume post, because, as a perfumista, perfumes are more important to me than chocolate. I do love chocolate, don't get me wrong, but you might be surprised to know that as a gourmand fragrance lover, I can take or leave most sweets. Of course, if I were to be presented with the most exquisite French vanilla macaron with vanilla buttercream filling, or this outrageous pistachio lokum I've been hooked on ever since this new Turkish place opened up in Midtown, it would be a serious battle between two schools of hedonism. Where do flowers fit into the equation? Naturally, inside a beautiful bottle, preferably glass, of course.

My Top 10 Fragrance List usually looks like a harem of new-found love, but in truth, I've been fairly devoted to a handful of fragrances which I've been rotating through the seasons, with a couple of new discoveries joining the sacred circle. However, I'm really a monogamous perfumista at heart, sticking to one signature faithfully for an extended period of time. OK, so I'm a serial monogamist, who occasionally commits the sin of fragrance layering, an absolute taboo among the classically versed. Sometimes, I switch scents between day and night, but that's become a widely accepted practice, even among signature scentists, except for the most militant zealots among them.

These days, I have heart eyes ♥ ♥ for Burberry Sport, an unusually floral and unsporty, even rather dainty and pretty, fragrance centered around lively citrus and white florals on a musky, light cedar base. I wouldn't call it detergentesque, because I don't like scents like that, but it is clean. My guy prefers when I wear Jean Paul Gaultier Classique which turns him into a vampire of sorts, and I'll probably wear it on V-Day :-), but for now, it's light and carefree fare that seems to be my speed. I keep thinking of Burberry Sport as the new Clinique Happy (oh, how I loved Happy, my signature from more than 10 years ago!). Compositionally, I think they're actually kind of close, so, in a way, I've come full circle, back into the arms of a sunny, innocuous Floral. Maybe perfume is like love - safe is good.

Here's my February Top 10:

1. Burberry Sport
2. Burberry The Beat
3. Benefit So Hooked on Carmella
4. Creed Jasmin Imperatrice Eugenie
5. Helmut Lang
6. Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
7. Jean Paul Gaultier Madame
8. Jean Paul Gaultier Classique
9. Caron Narcisse Noir
10. Floris Seringa

(Image: Burberry Sport for Women To Go, 1 oz Eau de Toilette Spray)