Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Have happy and safe fun!

If I Were You

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Friday, October 28, 2011

Corday Toujours Moi

This is a vintage advertisement for Corday Toujours Moi perfume. On the bottom, it reads, "Parfums Corday, Inc. 6 East 39th St. New York". Source: - 1936 Ad Corday Paris Perfume

This month, I spent some time tuning into a now-obscure vintage perfume circa 1924 called "Toujours Moi" (Always Me), a popular perfume by Corday that, according to legend, one composer was so enthralled by, he composed an entire musical piece for it for an album dedicated to his "muses" (five other Corday perfumes were also his muses) in 1948 (and yes, it really smells that awesome).

I first sampled the reformulated drugstore version from a few years back, which smelled astringent though vaguely floral-powdery, and came in a pale, medicinal orange color. It was a different scent than this vintage version, which has an earthier hue and a scent that is warm and rich, vetiver-based though ambery-vanillic, vaguely spicy though classically Floral. I can vouch for how beautiful this vintage perfume smells, because, luckily, I was able to procure this rare find, even if it's no longer in my possession (and I'm glad it found a loving new home). The bottle is gorgeous, like a harp or the inside of a piano, or perhaps a pipe organ, but the scent is outrageous, reminiscent of Revlon Intimate and Raphael Réplique, both of which harken back to days when Floral perfumes were deeper and more holistically aromatic, with universal facets of spiciness (tobacco?), sweetness, resins/earthiness/greenery and fruits/herbs, edging towards the center of the flavor wheel where Men's perfumes reign. And yet, Toujours Moi is a soft and tender, sensitive and melancholic, traditionally feminine perfume, as powdery soft as Caron N'aimez que Moi, but more daring, with the plummy warmth and assertive Floral-Ambery sensuality of Panthère de Cartier.

Although Toujours Moi is Floral, it's also fitting to be categorized as Oriental, as many other sweet-and-spicy perfumes in its era were, like Guerlain Shalimar (1925) and parfum fourrures of its time such as Weil Zibeline Secret de Venus. The dry down is slightly musky and borderline animalic, full of sweet intensity and a somewhat detached, hazy beauty. In a world full of perfumes sharp-smelling enough to literally keep us on high alert, with books on our heads and a straight line upon which to balance our heels like a prima donna, this old-fashioned bouquet of romantic beauty and luxurious comfort can be so captivating because it's so laid back and undemanding.

Related link: Classics Trend Part II - PINK MANHATTAN December 10, 2006

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gucci Guilty pour Homme

I like this fragrance for Men very much! The dry down is similar to Women's Gucci Guilty, which is a soft and sweet Floral Fruitchouli Gourmand accord, but the Men's starts with a cool and refreshing aqueous note (like Giorgio Armani Acqua di Giò for Men, one of my favorites), plus some herbaceous notes that border on that typical masculine Fougère but don't go that route.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fred Kimmel's Rock Band 101 Halloween Show @ Callahan's

Fred Kimmel's Rock Band 101 has expanded to Long Island, NY! Check out the Sam Ash Music Stores Carle Place monsters jam with the best of Fred Kimmel's Rock Band 101 original Bronx members, including Claudia Kimmel, the rockin' 10 year old singer-songwriter who appeared at WILLiFEST 2011 (Williamsburg International Film Festival). It's gonna be an awesome Halloween event for all ages!

Sunday, October 30, 2011
3:00 p.m.

1964 Hempstead Turnpike
East Meadow, NY 11554

Fred Kimmel's Rock Band 101 with special guest, 19 year old Luis Cruz on guitar (who also appeared at WILLiFEST 2011 with Claudia Kimmel).

Sign up now for a free lesson:
Music Lessons at Sam Ash Music

Friday, October 21, 2011

That Man Smells Familiar - A Revival for Classic Men's Fragrances

My friend Grant Osborne, artist and founder / editor-in-chief of Basenotes, has been interviewed by The New York Times for this article. That Man Smells Familiar by Michael Walker, The New York Times - October 19, 2011
As nostalgia for the early 1960s persists, a handful of men’s fragrances from that period are getting a second look.

Join the discussion: New York Times article about 1960's Vintage Colognes for Men -

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Chanel Les Exclusifs Jersey

The newest fragrance by Jacques Polge for the House of Chanel is a paradox, at once a masterful composition deftly weaving almost impossible elements together, and what must be an inside joke among those in-the-know, the scent of lavender baby wash, the kind that smells mostly of laundry detergent-esque white musk. Just as Givenchy Dahlia Noir put Givenchy back on the map as a house capable of delivering artistry despite composing with limited materials, Chanel has launched a great scent with Jersey, a modern lavender gourmand. The combination of lavender and vanilla has been around since Guerlain Jicky (1889), and the combination has been fabulous in such fragrances as Jean Patou Moment Suprême, MAC MV2, Caron pour un Homme and Serge Lutens Gris Clair.

First of all, the balsamic base note accord every fragrance house is using is really getting ubiquitous, but here, it's used in a sheer way, which, when combined with lavender, creates an herbaceous, aromatic and sugary yet dirty (somewhat like the "toxic New Jersey" note I find in Givenchy Dahlia Noir) accord that somehow works. This is in no way as strange as Hermès Brin de Réglisse, which is the opposite of a diaphanous lavender (it's more like a "flat Earth" woody scent). Chanel Jersey smells like it would appeal to some Gourmand lovers with a penchant for candy floss, as well as some classic lavender lovers who don't mind the baby wash feel of the pure white musk dry down.

For me, the generic white musk is off-putting, and I won't buy this scent because of it - however, I prefer it a thousand times over Chanel Beige, which I found too sharp, catering to the taste of the masses, and boring to boot, and at least as many times over Chanel Bleu, if not more. Despite the seams coming loose at the end, I feel it's a wonderful aromatic / gourmand addition to the Chanel Les Exclusifs collection.

The most interesting discovery for me, is that I understand that the direction Chanel went with this new launch is very much along the lines of European niche fragrances biehl parfumkunstwerke PC02 and Ego Facto Poopoo Pidoo.


Here are some other lavenders for you to try: Yardley English Lavender (the drugstore classic!), Caswell-Massey English Lavender and, probably not worth seeking out, but for s***s and giggles, I have to mention the very quickly discontinued Twilight perfume by Hot Topic.

Guerlain Vetiver

I have a very beautiful friend who loves Jo Malone Vetiver cologne. I had never known any woman who claimed vetiver as her signature, and became interested in discovering more vetiver-based colognes and perfumes. Although I never settled on a predominantly vetiver-centric fragrance (or a vetiver soliflore / single note scent), Guerlain Vetiver, an eau de toilette for Men, is among my very favorites. Vetiver on its own can smell dark and woody, like a linear plank of wood (Chanel Sycomore) in its most concentrated form, or it can smell softer, like grassy weed (Guerlain Vetiver). I have several favorites in the vetiver-based family, such as Pierre Balmain Ivoire with its significantly weedy base, and Serge Lutens Vétiver Oriental which is much heavier with ample servings of benzoin and labdanum to give it a more resinous feel.

According to Perfume Intelligence, Guerlain Vetiver was created in 1959, although it wasn't launched in the USA till 1961. Created by Jean-Paul Guerlain, it is described as a classical woody spicy. The bulk of vetiver fragrances born in the same era were mostly marketed to Men. Today, there are many shared versions, even a vetiver for Women (Guerlain Vetiver pour Elle (2004), which I still need to try), available on the market.

I would describe Guerlain Vetiver as a citric, spicy, powdery, grassy and weedy scent, with pleasant lemon-lime top notes making it a most appealing, well-mannered vintage sport fragrance. Basenotes lists coriander, nutmeg and Capiscum among the spice notes; the spiciness is sharp and austere, but not so piercingly sharp, at least not enough to overpower the more delicate citric top notes. It's not too sweet, but it doesn't singe the nosehairs in an effort to be macho (no flowers or sweets!) or too cerebral (nothing vulgar, like vanilla!), either. Overall, this Spicy Oriental has the easy wearability of a traditional lime, with well-tempered spices and a whole lot of genteel, powdery charm.

Read more about Guerlain Vetiver at The Vintage Perfume Vault.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Fragrance of the Moment

I like Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's hair here. :-)

Everybody's doing the desert sands-powdery-musky and vaguely peachy Aldehydic Floral Bill Blass Nude (1990) this Fall, and Burberry's gotten on the bandwagon with...a perfume from the late '80s - early '90s a la Liz Claiborne (1986)? I get the unsweet peach skin thing, kind of like Jaïpur, but what's with that obnoxious floral musk note? Why would I want to buy something that smells like something I didn't feel like buying back then? If someone wants a warm and silky peach skin skin scent, there's always Trésor, Allure, Dolce Vita...if you're more abstract, Tocade, Nahéma, Iris Silver Mist...And, actually, Liz Claiborne Realities (1990, the original in the cubic objet d'art bottle) with soothing, relaxing notes of camomile, osmanthus and sage, blows both Body and Nude out of the water.

(Edited to add): Does Burberry Body remind anyone else of Coty Exclamation (1988)?

Also, are we just swapping names, now? Victoria's Secret Body, Burberry Body, Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial, so the logical end result would be what, Boucheron Initial Parfum Shalimar?

Related link: Givenchy Dahlia Noir - PINK MANHATTAN Sensorium of Song and Scent, by Sali Oguri - Published: September 17, 2011

Bill Blass Nude, circa 1990

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cartier Les Heures de Parfum: L'Heure Fougueuse IV

The elegant and refined, spicy and posh, powdery uptown maquillage Chypre Floral reminiscent of paperwhites (narcissus) is quiet but adventurous, like Central Park South on a hot summer day, with mild whiffs of horses and white/yellow heady blooms in the air. It starts both sharp and soft: retro glam and sophisticated on one hand and a green and virginal debutante perfume on the other. It's a leafy yet floral-powdery Chypre perfume fashioned after Ma Griffe and Chant d'Arômes - proper gardenias, of course, and with dirt notes typical of earthy Chypres, freshened up with soapy greens so no one will be the wiser. It smells like the city and the countryside in one, a complex unity of Aldehydic French lime blossoms and the temple incense of dry, dusty leather - English or Russian (who knows?), but definitely of the royal gloves and equestrian variety.

Among the Cartier Les Heures de Parfum collection, L'Heure Fougueuse IV stands out as being very spicy from the beginning, sharply bitter and acidic like coriander seed or French carrot soup, though it's coupled with maté, which adds a mildly sweet and lemony green tea note. It reminds me of The Different Company Bois d'Iris, or Frederic Malle L'Eau d'Hiver, which is carried by the bravado of relentless spiciness as well, while the rest of the composition is just a mellow, transparent musk. L'Heure Fougueuse could smell mellower, too, without all that spice, bringing it closer to Chant d'Aromes or Caline (not that I want it that soft, either); with tear-inducing lemon rind and coriander sharpness dominating the top notes, it's rather brisk for such a classic, well-mannered scent.

Osmoz describes L'Heure Fougueuse IV as the following: "Horse's mane notes intertwine with maté, musks and hay, creating a half-animal, half-botanical sensation." L'Heure Fougueuse, even being a trendy nouveau Chypre, with thin yet pungent, smoky, woody incense for its dry and dusty leather base, is the one perfume I can recall in recent times that went totally against the grain by retaining a traditional "mossy green" Chypre form, and letting soft-spoken yet dependable oakmoss dominate over leather for a change. I love the horsey, dusty leather coupled with grassy, weedy moss, but the jasmine, though an unlisted note, makes this scent for me. I've only smelled one other perfume that compares to the jasmine note found in the heart of L'Heure Fougueuse, and that is a 100% organic perfume called Rich Hippie Spring. It smells like honey, flowers and a hint of soil.

L'Heure Fougueuse reminds me of the definitive "summer hay, grass and honeysuckle" perfume, Annick Goutal Eau de Camille most of all, but it's more complex, compositionally closer to vintage perfumes than most new perfumes, with dirty, smoky patchouli leathers a la Jean Patou 1000 and Chanel Cuir de Russie adding a wild edge. It feels more formal than Eau de Camille, though it isn't quite opulent, either. It's glamorous but dry, floral yet unsweet, Aldehydic without bubbliness, like Caron Infini which I loved most in parfum once upon a time. Alas, I need a little more sugar to make it go down. Such a lovely and gentle floral heart, yet it succumbs to this bitter cocktail of herbs and spices served up in a Depression glass.

"Elegance is refusal." --Coco Chanel

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Jean-Louis Scherrer

Many thanks to my friend Donna (writer for Perfume-Smellin' Things) who kindly sent me a plethora of vintage perfume samples awhile back, I was able to sample this classic green Chypre beauty circa 1979 by Jean-Louis Scherrer. It is a classic rose-jasmine hearted floral made spicy with herbal, cinnamony notes, gorgeously fresh and green with icy yet rich galbanum and powdery iris, all on a bed of vetiver to give it class and charm a la Guerlain Vetiver (1961). At first sniff, I was instantly reminded of the great Green / green Chypre perfumes of days past: Estée Lauder Private Collection (1973), Aliage (also Alliage, 1972), Chanel N°19 (1970), Pierre Balmain Vent Vert (1947), all textbook perfect in their execution of nature-identical greenery, the standards by which all green perfumes are, and should be, judged.

As it dries down, Jean-Louis Scherrer turns spicier, giving way to an accord reminiscent of other favorites of mine, Parfums de Nicolaï Eau d'Été (1997) with fresh citrus juices and cinnamon atop a warm, pungent (somewhat animalic) jasmine, and Diptyque L'Eau (1968), a recreation of an ancient potpourri blend featuring cloves, which I've been craving all week. The final base notes reveal a regal woody, spicy and leathery accord, truly (and astoundingly for me) in the same vein as Parfums de Nicolaï New York (1989 - could the NY association be born of the concept of "career perfumes for Women"?), Guerlain Eau de Guerlain (1974), Caron Alpona (1939) and Caswell-Massey Number Six (1789).

Besides being absolutely gorgeous, I find that Jean-Louis Scherrer is a unique green in that it doesn't smell mossy (the way Ô de Lancôme (1969) dries down, for example). I like this scent very much, enough to consider buying a miniature some day, although given the choice, I'd rather wear Guerlain Vetiver for my lemon-lime vetiver, and Chanel N°19 for my green floral fix, both of which have gone without the "expensive butter soft leather" note that makes Scherrer smell not only like nature itself but like a powerful, royal force of nature.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Chloé Love, Chloé

The love child between '90s trendsetter Donna Karan Cashmere Mist and the powdery, somewhat peachy but unsweet and sharp, candied-musky violet accord of current fashion (Odin 04 Petrana, Givenchy Dahlia Noir, Balenciaga Paris) is this mostly nice and inoffensive, still relatively dour and uninteresting, though pretty, Love, Chloe. Put another way, this is the orange creamsicle-peachy rose powder Chanel Allure all mixed up with sharp, sappy greens: cucumber-celery rooty-and-fresh iris, the root of which resembles the sweet, intense scent of violets. Personally, I think this mixture of maquillage powder and suedey, desert sand musky skin scent is about as cutting edge as Adrienne Vitadini or Cerutti 1881, or Clarins Par Amour (the "Mommy one") - as maternal in its down-to-earth, unflashy quality as the original bouquet of fastidious pink musk, the quiet and reserved, nostalgic scent of peachy sands-toned Camay soap.

Related link: My Fragrance of the Moment (Burberry BODY) - October 13, 2011