Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Bath & Body Works: White Barn Cotton (2012) vs Slatkin & Co. Fresh Cotton Candles

So, I've searched fruitlessly for the ideal cotton/linen scent for the past couple of months since my September 17 post. I'll post the remainder of my CLEAN reviews and other reviews soon, but I'll tell you in advance that not one of the cotton / linen fragrances I tried smelled quite like the Slatkin & Co. Fresh Cotton candle. My wish is that Slatkin would bottle their Fresh Cotton scent as a perfume as they've done with their other home fragrances before.

By the way, the last time I visited Bath & Body Works, I was told their Fresh Cotton candle had been renamed COTTON, but upon doing a little research this afternoon, I saw that their new 2012 Cotton candle offering is by White Barn. I wouldn't have noticed had I not come across a detailed image of the product (as posted above). Did they stop carrying the Slatkin? Did the SA just tell me that because they were out of the Slatkin? This city can drive you mad. Which smells better, you ask? To me, these candles smell almost identical if not completely the same, but I couldn't tell you definitively because I didn't buy the White Barn Cotton candle that day. I'm a fan of Slatkin but I guess I don't care which company does it--how hard would be for White Barn to turn their Cotton concentrated room spray into perfume, or heck, body spray?

Anyway, my search will continue, even though I sort of doubt I'd actually wear this sort of lemon-vanilla-Tide scent once I find it in perfume form. As with other detergentesque scents I've liked such as Castelbajac or CLEAN Fresh Laundry, I'll most likely wear it for awhile but not finish it. However, I believe it would be a popular perfume, since people seem to really love this type of scent--even Glade has a candle like it called Clean Linen. Who knows? Maybe CLEAN will come out with another flanker to get on the cotton/linen bandwagon called CLEAN Cotton. Maybe I'll slap my name on a cotton perfume one day. Haw...


I rarely watch reviews because it's time consuming, but here is a You Tube Bath and Body Works Slatkin Candle Review - Candle of the Week: Cotton (NEW White Barn) 2012. Happy Home Scenting!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My Love of Iris & Vetiver, and the November Top 10

I could just present the Pink Manhattan blog Top 10 Fragrances of 2012 early this year; then again, my hierarchy of favorites could change between now and the end of December, and I want my list to reflect the "fragrance footprint" of my entire year. I can tell you that my perfume sampling has slowed down, between learning which perfumes I keep coming back to each year, and already knowing what a vast number of perfumes smell like, enough to not be so curious anymore. Although there are many more scents in the world to learn, I feel like a seasoned perfumista.

In my life, there are some scents I will always have around, either because of the memories attached to them or because they have become my wardrobe staples, some perfumes I won't touch for long periods of time but I know (or hope) I'll return to one day, and many that will never go beyond unfinished sample vials I've stashed in my collection. My goal is to refine my own taste to a discernable pattern, in hopes of understanding why I'm drawn to the scents I like, even if this is a futile plan and more of an exercise to keep my beloved hobby going. It's also fun to see if my taste evolves or changes over time, or if it's fairly cut and dry, predestined if you will, aside from some things I've developed an acquired taste for. As with many things in life, only time will tell, but as time goes by, I'm ever more grateful for these fragrances I've discovered which, like beloved pieces of music, keep me entertained and rewarded time after precious time.

Early fall seemed like the perfect time to transition from sweet gourmands and fresh berries or citrus to warmer, muskier scents. Now that it feels like the midst of foliage is upon us, as the mornings get colder and the nights longer, I'm falling deeper in love with Aldehydic Florals, especially woody and vanillic ones. I've decided my favorite Frederic Malle perfume (and perhaps all-time favorite) is Iris Poudre, and I have no idea when I'll return to my love of Une Fleur de Cassie. Likewise, I've deserted my white florals--gardenias and tuberoses--and returned to my childhood dream of "the perfect perfume", the radiant jasmine-rose classic, Jean Patou Joy (parfum). But even more often than I wear Joy, I turn to Guerlain's great aromatics, Jicky and Vetiver. I enjoy their freshness with a counterpoint of deep base notes.

I'm not against new fragrances that spawn on the shelves of Sephora each season; I've got my candied modern scents for when the mood hits: Lady Gaga Fame, Ralph Lauren Big Pony No.2. However, my current taste leans towards the classics and one modern classic Iris Poudre in the style of Chanel No.5. I wore No.5 more often than No.19 this month, even though No.5 had been on the back burner for so long. Interestingly, the creation of Iris Poudre was supposedly inspired by No.19, yet it reminds me so much more of No.5, the warmer, woodier sister to the vintage Aldehydic green, hyacinth-flowery, younger and fresher No.19. The white floral No.22 has not been on the radar; it seems too shrill for a powdery scent--like Liu--and I used to think it was the other way around, that No.5 was the shrill one. But what note really makes these classics what they are? Florentine iris. So I could say I've found my favorite white floral which happens to be the iris flower and smells more or less Green. Vetiver also plays an integral part of the scents I currently enjoy.

Although I have little use for white floral bouquets, I find Hermes 24, Faubourg refreshingly Old World perfumey. The new bottles of Miss Dior and Balmain Ivoire available on the counters today are as soulless as anything devoid of the depth and richness of true perfume essences as aftershavey colognes found in drugstores--surely Coty Emeraude was once beautiful enough to perhaps inspire Guerlain Shalimar--but 24, Faubourg still smells like a woman who unshakenly knows she can be beautiful throughout her life, for beauty is truly more than skin deep--it is the essence of one's soul, found in the gracefulness of her ways. I'm afraid to try the newly reformulated Vetiver, but I'll try to be hopeful.

Here is my Top 10 for November 2012:
1. Frederic Malle Iris Poudre
2. Guerlain Vetiver (1961)
3. Guerlain Jicky
4. Jean Patou Joy parfum
5. Lady Gaga Fame
6. Ralph Lauren Big Pony No.2
7. Creed Spring Flower
8. Chanel No.5
9. Loris Azzaro Azzura
10. Hermes 24, Faubourg

Last edited: 2:39 a.m.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Sleigh Ride" by Leroy Anderson

"A Brush for the Lead" - New York 'Flyers' in the Snow
Lithograph by Currier and Ives, 1867
In the song, the lyrics compare a sleigh ride to a "picture print by Currier and Ives". (Wikimedia Commons)

From Wikipedia: "Although "Sleigh Ride" is often associated with Christmas, and often appears on Christmas compilation albums, the song's lyrics never specifically mention any holiday or religion (apart from certain recordings, such as those by the Carpenters, Walter Schumann and Air Supply, that substitute "Christmas party" for "birthday party" in the song's bridge). In fact, the mention of "pumpkin pie" in the last verse might suggest an association with Thanksgiving rather than Christmas.

"According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers [ASCAP] review of Christmas music, "Sleigh Ride" consistently ranks in the top 10 list of most performed songs written by ASCAP members during the Christmas season worldwide.[1]

"ASCAP named "Sleigh Ride" the most popular piece of Christmas music in the USA for the consecutive years, 2010 and 2011, based on performance data tracked by airplay monitoring service, Mediaguide, from over 2,500 radio stations nationwide. The most performed artist version of "Sleigh Ride" was the original instrumental version as recorded by Leroy Anderson.[2] [3]

"According to author, Steve Metcalf, in his book, Leroy Anderson: A Bio-Bibliography [Praeger 2004], "'Sleigh Ride' ... has been performed and recorded by a wider array of musical artists than any other piece in the history of Western music."" Read more about Sleigh Ride - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Donate $10 to Wikipedia today: Wikimedia Foundation

"Sleigh Ride" by Leroy Anderson and His Orchestras

"Sleigh Ride" performed by Johnny Mathis

The History of Glass Ornaments

The History of Glass Ornaments - Glass Christmas Ornaments: Timeless and Elegant - Christmas Days

Monday, November 12, 2012

Yves Saint Laurent Opium

Western Orientalism is flattering, offensive and funny to someone like me, a Japanese immigrant raised in New York. The flattering part is that even when Asian culture is taken as a vague and mixed up whole (Asian sushi, anyone?), as if people in the various countries in Asia identify with being Asian any more than Americans identify with being North American, that at least in the beauty business, it is meant to appropriate the parts westerners find attractive. The offensive part is when the appropriation is of something they don't really understand because the understanding never came through actual contact with anyone from that part of the world in an intimate, sincere and positive way. It's also unflattering to have real cultures that belong to specific countries reduced to images to only enhance western beauty and to degrade the very cultures being ripped off (It's also painful to see no one from the culture being used as paid models, like westerners playing the role of Japanese, Chinese, etc., which can make us feel quite ostracized, foreign in our own home).

Then there's the Oriental sensuality factor, of course, the stereotype that reduces Asian people (women in particular) to being "fetishes" (objects), as if true love with someone from that part of the world is impossible. The funny part is that I love perfumes like Guerlain Mitsouko, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Holzman & Stephanie Misuki, Crown Matsukita. Even if the orientalized fonts and bad artistic rendering of styles make me chuckle, I believe orientalism in beauty is less often an offensive act and mostly about mutual appreciation, sharing a love of universal beauty--gentility, charm and grace. As long as salespeople aren't pushing these products onto me, as if I should use them because I'm you-know-what, I'm OK with western orientalism and other kinds of role play which is all in harmless fun.

Opium is a famous perfume launched in 1977 by Yves Saint Laurent. The bottle according to Michael Edwards, author of Perfume Legends: French Feminine Fragrances, was inspired by a snuff box. The red lacquered look of the parfum bottle complete with a gold-tone tassel with a black fringe looks very antique, indeed. The fragrance inside is of a dark orange hue, and the first thing one notices when smelling it for the first time is how spicy it is. The principal note that smells like cinnamon and clove is carnation, the same flower that gives Old Spice its iconic spicy character. Whereas Old Spice is "emasculated" with traditionally Fougère fragrance notes of lavender and leather, Opium is softened with an aldehydic powdery texture, quite reminiscent of Chanel N°5 and perhaps even more so of the now-discontinued vintage Givenchy L'Interdit with its spicy carnation notes in an Aldehydic Floral setting.

I think Opium is one of the most elegant-smelling spicy perfumes for Women that was ever made. Although I'm not the biggest connoisseur of Spicy Oriental perfumes in general (other Spicy Orientals include Guerlain Vol de Nuit, Caron Parfum Sacre, Krizia Teatro alla Scala), I can see myself digging out my mini every now and then to cure my fetish for something sizzling red hot and daringly different from my usual sweet girl-next-door type scents.

The big question is, does Opium smell oriental enough to actually remind me of something of the Orient? Come to think of it, I think it reminds me of my mother's vintage custom silk kimonos that were kept in a cedar drawer. Either that or it reminds me of the little sachets my grandmothers in Japan gave me, the ones with intricate designs like boats, woven in hues of red and gold, with little bells and tassels on them, that are meant to be tucked into the kimono for their scent. I never thought those sachets smelled especially pleasant although they were subtly aromatic; I was never sure whether they were meant to attract boys or repel insects, or both.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Creed Angélique Encens

I first smelled Creed Angélique Encens (1933) back in the early 2000s, thanks to an online perfumista who sent me a generous decant to try. I loved this rich, spicy, sweet and powdery fragrance that is part of Creed's private collection, a classic Oriental ambery vanilla in the vein of Shalimar (1925) featuring the most devastatingly beautiful ambergris. Imagine a scent like Shalimar, Must de Cartier and Fifi Chachnil combined, a spicy aroma reminiscent even of Old Spice but with the refined yet deep, densely powdery, delicate texture of Guerlain Liu (1929). Also comparable to Jean Patou Chaldée, Angélique Encens is a classic 1930s style fragrance bringing to mind the carefree, sun-and-cocktail-drenched decadence of the lifestyle of the rich during the Great Depression.

It is a scent so hauntingly rich it brings to mind not the somber incense smoke of churches and temples prayerfully honoring the dead, but lively images of ancient Egyptians with melting incense cones on their heads, dripping over their Hathor-like helmet hair cascading onto brown-olive hot exposed shoulders, glistening of suntan oil. It is the scent of delicious gourmand excesses, a main course of balsam and herbs, and a dessert table brimming with cakes, creams and spirits. It is sugar, spice and everything nice for the girl or guy or androgyne a la Marlene Dietrich (for whom Creed supposedly created the perfume) who's got it all. Most of all, Angélique Encens is an embodiment of the popular style of perfume of the day for the leisurely to commission, and the working masses to emulate from afar. Stylewise, it's roughly the Thierry Mugler Angel of its day, but this angelic incense is ever an ode to the luminous ghost of Gatsby.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Demeter Laundromat

There are a handful of drugstores in New York City that carries this funky line of scents by Demeter based in Long Island, the suburbs of NY. Demeter colognes usually smell like literally whatever the name suggests, but this one doesn't really smell like Tide, cotton, linen or any of the scents commonly associated with detergentesque smells. Instead, it smells to me like faux jasmine, the kind you might find in a (good) drugstore perfume like Diane Von Furstenberg Tatiana. I would summarise Demeter Laundromat as a fragrance most similar to jasmine-scented soap, like one of the Dial soaps that comes in green packaging. It's a clean but strong, soapy white floral that isn't musky (and not at all indolic, like real jasmine essential oil), and borders on tuberose it's so heady and creamy, though green and punchy. Go easy with this, because at least while the scent lasts (which isn't long), it's a scent that carries, even for a cheapie (but good quality) cologne.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Ophiuchus - The 13th Sign of the Zodiac

Mythology: Arabic Ophiuchus - Greek Aesculapius - Egyptian Akhenaton by Jim A. Cornwell - From The Alpha and the Omega - Chapter Five

"Akhenaton or Akhenaten also Ikhnaton originally Amenhotep IV as King during the 18th Dynasty of Egypt (1,375?/50-1,358?/1334 B.C.) who rejected the old gods and initiated a new form of sun worship of Aton. He abandoned the state religion of Amon and removed it from all monuments. Akhenaton (he who is beneficial to Aton) a name chosen by himself Amenhotep IV believed that Re was the god of the whole world and the only god, beginnings of monotheism. He demanded that all subjects worship only the sun god under the name Aton. Of course this did not go over very well with a society that was use to a pantheon of gods.

(...) 2"Twenty-one being a number sacred to the Sun since the time of the Pharaoh Akhenaton who introduced into Egypt about the year 1,415 B.C. the monotheistic cult of the sun's disc. Epicharmus, as an Asclepiad (Asclepius was a Greek god of medicine and son of Apollo), was descended from the Sun." Read on at

From Wikipedia: Akhenaten and Judeo-Christian monotheism
"The idea of Akhenaten as the pioneer of a monotheistic religion that later became Judaism has been considered by various scholars.[42][43][44][45][46][47] One of the first to mention this was Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, in his book Moses and Monotheism.[48] Freud argued that Moses had been an Atenist priest forced to leave Egypt with his followers after Akhenaten's death. Freud argued that Akhenaten was striving to promote monotheism, something that the biblical Moses was able to achieve.[42] Following his book, the concept entered popular consciousness and serious research." Akhenaten on Wikipedia

"The snake rolled up around a walking stick, constitutes the symbol of the medicine at the present time; possibly, the association of the periodic detachment of the skin of the snake, with the renovation of the life." Stellar Astrology, Scorpius and Ophiuchus,

"It is also known as Serpentarius (...) It is known to have been in use by the Roman era, based on concepts inherited by Hellenistic astronomy from Babylonian astronomy of the Chaldean period (mid-1st millennium BC), which, in turn, derived from an earlier system of lists of stars along the ecliptic. The construction of the zodiac is described in Ptolemy’s Almagest (2nd century AD)." New Sign Ophiuchus; New Zodiac Dates -

"Ophiuchus is the only constellation in the sky which is patterned after a real person in human history, tracing back through time and space for its roots to an Ancient Egyptian mortal-made-god named Imhotep, whose life and times in or about the 27th Century B.C. were honored by both the Egyptians and Greeks some 2500 years after his death as not only a great man, but as a god who owed his great powers to the knowledge of medicine which he possessed, and who brought the art of healing to mankind." Ophiuchus Constellation Background -

"The attributes of Imhotep can also be found in the Biblical Hebrew Joseph, son of Jacob. Imhotep is credited with many accomplishments including the knowledge and use of medicine. It’s said that Imhotep brought the art of healing to mankind. The symbol of a serpent was used to represent Imhotep." The Staff of Asclepius - Alchemy Forums

Image: Rod of Asclepius, 2012: The Serpent-holder and the Maya - Seeing Symbols

Asclepius on Wikipedia
"Birth: He was the son of Apollo and Coronis. His mother was killed for being unfaithful to Apollo and was laid out on a funeral pyre to be consumed, but the unborn child was rescued from her womb. Or, alternatively, his mother died in labour and was laid out on the pyre to be consumed, but his father rescued the child, cutting him from her womb. From this he received the name Asklepios "to cut open".[5] Apollo carried the baby to the centaur Chiron who raised Asclepius and instructed him in the art of medicine.[6]

"Death: Zeus killed Asclepius with a thunderbolt because he raised Hippolytus from the dead and accepted gold for it.[15] Other stories say that Asclepius was killed because after bringing people back from the dead (...) After Asclepius' death, Zeus placed Asclepius among the stars as the constellation Ophiuchus ("the Serpent Holder").[19] Asclepius on Wikipedia

And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived”. - Numbers 21:4-9

Image: Tarot 21. The World

Related links: Sidereal astrology and Ophiuchus (astrology) on Wikipedia

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Lady Gaga: "Illuminati"? Read analyses of Lady Gaga FAME perfume

Image: Belladonna aka deadly nightshade
Read about Atropa belladonna - Wikipedia

Lady GAGA - Occult secret conspiration - October 4, 2012 1000 Fragrances

Lady Gaga’s Fragrance “Fame” and its Occult Meaning - October 3, 2012 Vigilant Citizen

I think the connection that was made between Lady Gaga FAME and Christian Dior Poison is spot on, as 1000 Fragrances points out, for the reasons he cites and plus because they are both, after all, dangerously dark fruity concoctions in purple (black) hues. Speaking of which, when I created my Unreleased Mix aka Persephone perfume, I had a version of it that was almost pitch black, but actually a dark purple (I still have this in my possession, and I will post a pic of it one of these days). The only reason the color of my product ranged from black to pale amber is because one of the oils I was using occasionally arrived from the factory in a different color, something I had no control over, especially because I had no intention of adding more color to it to modify it. So my perfume, too, was black and yet it "magically turned colorless" upon wear. I will also admit there were some references to occult symbolism like cliche references to "secrets" and "forbidden fruit", even as far as my "royal purple flowers" went, although I assure you there was no belladonna or any poisonous flower in my blend (it's hyacinth and magnolia in mine, with blackberry as my fruity note). Of course there isn't any belladonna in Lady Gaga FAME, either, even if the blurb says the perfume is based on the belladonna aka deadly nightshade. I also highly doubt Gaga wears belladonna oil, considering how the poison is readily absorbed by skin! The point here is, it is impossible for anyone who's smelled Christian Dior Poison to not feel the influence of the famous scent; the iconic Poison of the '80s is to today's perfume what Madonna is to today's pop artists.

Belladonna - Teufelskunst

But the connection that is being made between Lady Gaga and Hitler is something else. It's one thing to connect Gaga's imagery in marketing to alchemy and the occult in general, but to say because Hitler was into the occult, she and Hitler must be connected, is saying she is guilty of something sinister merely by association. Nevertheless, it's an interesting topic of conversation, the merging of art and propaganda, particularly in film and photography. Is Gaga the new futuristic Boccioni's Materia to Madonna's Material Girl, or Leni Riefenstahl? Check out the links above and see if you see what the writers see in her perfume promo video, and in her work in general; do you think she is a more subversive artist than the pop mainstream culture reveals?

Last updated at 10:25 PM

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Marathon is canceled following storm damage

From Yahoo! News: "For now, they are sticking to their policy of no refunds for runners, but they will guarantee entry to next year's marathon or the half-marathon in March. However, Wittenberg said the group would review the refund policy." Read the article: Marathon is canceled following storm damage By Jennifer Peltz and Rachel Cohen | Associated Press

Let me just add that this animosity New Yorkers have towards the international marathon runners is appalling and uncalled for. It reminds me of the time I was doing a stand-up for a TV show and some guy in front of a downtown bar threw a lit cigarette at my leg (missed by an inch) because he hated the media. It is something akin to anti-immigration hate, this loathing of out-of-towners that some New Yorkers, many of whom are well-to-do, feel entitled to.