Saturday, December 29, 2012

PINK MANHATTAN Top 20 Fragrances 2012: The Year End List of Perfume Favorites

Dear Pink Manhattanite,

First of all, I adore you! Thank you for another year of online exchanges of ideas. Thanks also for just being there as a reader. It took a year for this to dawn on me, but I forgot to do a Year End Top 10 Fragrances list last year! I don't know *how* that could've happened! In order to remedy this, I've decided to do a Top 20 for my 2012 Year End list. Hopefully, I'll have included some of your favorite perfumes that should have been on that 2011 countdown. I'm sorry if you looked forward to the tradition every year since my blog got rolling in 2006. As a disclaimer, I've never been very traditional...

So here we are, and here we go! My favorites, new launches and not, as discovered, rediscovered and worn by me throughout the year are (drum roll, please...):

1. Les Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle Iris Poudré: PINK MANHATTAN 2012 Perfume of the Year. Launched in 2000, here's my favorite scent of 2012, a sophisticated spicy iris, one with a sensuous ambery-vanillic character supported by the famous bold woody signature base, a creation par excellence by perfumer Pierre Bourdon (Christian Dior Dolce Vita, Shiseido Féminité Du Bois (with Christopher Sheldrake), Davidoff Good Life and Cool Water). This is an Aldehydic Floral in the same family as CHANEL N°5 and Lanvin Arpège, but it smells like a modernized vintage a la Laura Biagiotti Venezia among others I'd describe as "sexy, spicy, perfumey-sweet powderies." It's pretty dry but warm, like a verrry high end Lady Stetson with less dry desert heat, and a little respite of cool, dewy green not so far away. For someone who has loved CHANEL N°19 and Dolce Vita, this is a perfect match. If there's a celebrity perfume equivalent, it's the second coming of the original Givenchy L'Interdit created for Audrey Hepburn, nothing less.

2. Creed Spring Flower: This gorgeous, amazing, fresh green appley Fruity Floral (fruits and flowers as equal partners) has made my Top 10 list many times before, and it's here to stay. Spring Flower is the most versatile scent I own, as it's always appropriate, no matter what season, time, place or occasion. This is the little black dress for every elegant fragrance wardrobe, and as it is written in The Bombshell Manual of Style, it goes to sporting events.

3. Marc Jacobs Oh, Lola: Ohhh, yes, now I remember what happened last year; I was on a "signature perfume" kick! Obviously it was a short-lived phase, but it was worth the experiment for me, just to find out yet another year later that my then-signature turned out to be my daughter's favorite perfume on me. I'm glad I kept it light so I didn't have to hear her say "Phew, mama, that's a strong smell." too often. This 2011 launch is a lovely aqueous floral with a fruity "fruitchouli" backdrop that doesn't overwhelm the fey notes with the ever-popular, charismatic patchouli element.

4. Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose: This is my current favorite perfume in the aqueous (modern) floral category. It is a bit fruity, and rosy for sure but also woody gourmand to me, only light and ethereal. I love it so much, and like Oh, Lola, it garners positive comments, especially if I take care not to overspray, so easy to do because it smells lighter at first, drying down to a pleasant but palpable depth reminiscent of the texture / density (not the scent) of oakmoss. This was a 2011 launch, and if I'd known about it sooner, it could have been crowned Best Perfume of 2011 on PINK MANHATTAN along with Oh, Lola - heck yeah!

5. Tom Ford Neroli Portofino: How I love this classic citric-sweet orange flower scent! How much of it I wore this summer...and how many times I spritzed 4711 hoping it would last as long as Neroli Portofino so I could save a fortune!

6. Paco Rabanne Metal: Vintage '80s (born in 1979) perfection is this iris and rose perfume, a clean Aldehydic Floral that's as innocent and youthful as its green and soapy sister Calandre was perceived as being, just a decade before Metal's (and Eau de Metal's) time. Powder is not the central motif, neither the iris nor rose, but the dewy freshness of the overall un-perfuminess (without soap) that I find so unique and memorable. Reminiscent of Laura Biagiotti Laura, it conveys a similar simplicity but with a touch more sophistication, with less discernable notes. Recently, I thought one of the Emilio Pucci Vivara Variazione smelled similar to it, so I must go seek it out again. The bottle design by Pierre Dinand is more my style, however.

7. Guerlain Vetiver: Such a cool, crisp green fragrance, in the most beautiful pale green color...I really love wearing this men's scent which I could describe as a woody-citric aromatic with a lime top note. I wish more fresh, unfussy and un-floral eaux could find their way onto women's fragrance counters soon.

8. Fifi Chachnil: This classic-style Oriental that smells sweet-spicy-everything-nice with a lively citrus opening, is surprisingly wearable because it's not too tenacious--and the bottle's so sexy. It has all the elements of the most romantic perfumes of yesteryear a la Shalimar loved by Rita Hayworth or Vol de Nuit, an Ava Gardner fave, but without a retro musky dry down that won't leave your skin and clothes for days, if not weeks, months, years. You get the dramatic Empress Eugénie aura for as long as you feel like committing to it...and that's it. It's a low maintenance diva.

9. Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Chergui: I had the sample vial for some time, but didn't think I'd love it based on the first heavy whiff of it. Well, IT'S THE PERFUME OF THE PERFUME GODS. It's a unique scent, like a very rich and ambery sweet classic spicy parfum fourrure from the 1930s (or the '80s), only modernized with a touch of herbaceous post-Dior Addict gourmand, but without any aqueous quality, pink pepper, excessive patchouli, etc. This is an anti-Pop gourmand, which is ironically one of the more pop scents in the line, but please ignore my pretentious opining. Here's what's important: It's royal olfactive silk for your exalted skin.

10. Jean Patou Joy: An eternal treasure born in the year of the Great Depression, the marriage of Grasse jasmine and Bulgarian rose that makes up the heart of JOY is a storybook legend. Best worn in parfum, the eau de parfum and toilette versions are also something to experience. If diamonds had a scent, this would be it: scintillating, one-of-a-kind, a sublime scent memory to live on forever.

11. Guerlain Jicky: Best worn in parfum, the eau de parfum and toilette versions are true to the timeless androgynous beauty of this spunky lavender-based aromatic. Like traditional herbes de Provence, notes of rosemary and thyme give lively, fresh spikiness to the air around its wearer like brisk autumn air. A pillowy cloud of powdery vanilla makes intimacy with Jicky worthwhile. Wait for the's naughty and nice, a bit animalic like Musc Ravageur in a quieter form.

12. 4711: I like to give cheapies the chance to get on a Top 10 list. This is a truly iconic cologne, and masterfully reinterpreted as Tom Ford Neroli Portofino, which smells almost identical to it except where 4711 lacks in tenacity, Tom Ford makes up for it. 4711 wears on hot, sunkissed skin like cool and sweet lemon squash, but the olfactive pleasure lasts for less than half an hour. It's a good thing one can always respritz the stuff liberally.

13. Loris Azzaro Azzura: A derivative of Clinique Happy and born in the same year (1999), Azzura, which couldn't compete in Happy's limelight, smells great from first sniff: orangey, herbaceous, fresh and not too sweet but pleasantly floral, in that tropical-Mediterranean white floral way. It's an invigorating scent that can go all season long, and can be had for a fraction of the original price from discounters and wholesalers. The silver refillable bottle makes a handsome "perfume art" display.

14. Serge Lutens Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido Fumerie Turque: I don't know if I've ever listed this as a Year End Top 10 favorite, but it surely belongs on my list every year. Probably my favorite Serge Lutens (although Chergui and Un Lys are currently the strongest contenders), the spicy ambery leather rose should spawn many post-Habanita and post-Tabac Blond copycats for eons, as difficult as it is to match the ultra niche high quality of Serge Lutens.

15. Chloé Eau de Parfum by Chloé: It's a musky, fresh sweetish floral, not my usual style, but it's really grown on me, and I can see why it's popular, on its way to becoming a new classic. The synth bouquet of mixed flowers smells so pretty in the air, creating a sillage as flowery as the inside of a futuristic flower shop where the flowers live forever and emit the same linear scent forever and ever, too.

16. Chloé L'Eau de Chloé Eau de Toilette: Like a blood red rose that blooms at the spa, it smells like clean towels and someone's idea of goth. It's a great newbie along the lines of the "clean" scents that will likely lead fragrance trends in 2013 (what with CLEAN perfume maker developing 1D's fragrance next year)--but don't let "clean" turn you off just yet; this actually smells posh, also a bit deep, like a proper perfume.

17. Ralph Lauren Big Pony #2: This is one of my favorite 2012 launches. The whole collection of 4 is pretty awesome, very easy to like if you're new to fragrance. #2 in the pink bottle is a cranberry-based fruity floral; it's quite sweet and candyish, but not anywhere within the range of Ralph (circa 2000--remember how penetratingly berry-sweet that was?).

18. Lady Gaga Fame: Celeb scent of the year award goes to Gaga with this way-better-than-sophomoric-debut-perfume. It smells fantastic, like a bodacious berry-based candied fruity floral, a mall scent with an overall feel that's more classic Floral than either expected or suggested by the monstrosity that is the FAME bottle. It's one of the strongest launches of the year, and my pick for best celeb scent, but its olfactory strength actually pales in comparison to Lancôme's brick house of a 2012 launch, up next on the countdown.

19. Lancôme La Vie Est Belle: PINK MANHATTAN blog's Launch of the Year 2012 Award goes to this spectacular new perfume by Lancôme. Yes, it's a Thierry Mugler Angel descendant, and it smells a lot like many others in this family, but no other Woody Oriental (gourmand patchouli) has come close to its velvety iris butter texture. Did I mention it's strong? The eau de parfum is strong enough to wear as parfum; I can only use a few drops at a time, lest people want to go sit next to someone else in public transit. Tenacity? It lasts all day like a good perfume should. I will most certainly review it soon.

20. Lorenzo Villoresi Teint de Neige: This musky, sweet, densely powdery scent is so far from my usual type, but I ended up falling in love with it anyway. You just never know. It just so happens we have snow in New York as I compile this list, and the mood wouldn't be complete without this rosy-almond-maquillage-confectionary-comfort-skin-scent niche classic (though put in simpler terms, it's sort of like a high end Love's Baby Soft), my white-hot December 2012 love affair, most likely the perfume I'll be sporting this New Year's Eve.

Honorable mentions (with a nod to Countess Jan Moran whose books, Fabulous Fragrances I and II, had started this and many other perfume-related trends): Demeter Blueberry Muffin, Gabriele Strehle Strenesse, Hermès 24, Faubourg, Serge Lutens Gris Clair, and many others I enjoyed wearing and sampling this year. Deepest thanks to my perfumista friends around the globe who kindly offered to help me sample some new beauties this year. I admit I haven't done a whole lot of sampling, but next year, I look forward to Serge Lutens La Fille de Berlin, and trying some nichey-poo incense scent or two.

Hall of Fame: Clinique Happy (1999)

Best Home Fragrance: I'm not the biggest interior scent user, being more focused on perfume, but I'm a fan of Bath and Body Works Cotton candles...and I'm still looking for that ultimate "clean cotton / linen" perfume, so stay tuned for my adventures in 2013! Thank you again for keeping me company throughout the year. Have a safe and happy weekend leading up to the ringing in of the New Year.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Chloé Eau de Parfum

Chloé Eau de Parfum by Chloé was launched in 2008. This house has changed their signature perfume so many times, it can make a perfumista dizzy. The original Karl Lagerfeld creation was a passionate, intense, fabulous, addictive tuberose; sometime in the 1990s I remember Chloé Innocence which was ok--clean and subtle but a bit synthetic and unmemorable, although the bottle was artsy, modern and interesting, the translucent white color aesthetic sort of Gabriele Strehle-like--and then this Chloé, the newest signature swathed in my favorite shade of peachy, elegant blush pink (or is it "ballet pink"?), seems to meet the two generations in the middle. From first whiff, I thought it was synthetic and a bit glue-like, not unlike the J. Lo fragrances that are "China Rain" musk-based and popular, but the pure, girly floralcy sans fruit has won me over like an old-fashioned bluebell bouquet. Daughter likes it, says to her it smells sweet, so I might opt for the L'eau de Chloé Eau de Toilette in the pale green bottle launched earlier this year. But it should be noted this Chloe in pink leaves the prettiest sillage.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a peaceful holiday season from PINK MANHATTAN.

Dona Nobis Pacem (Give Us Peace) from the Tempus Choral Society from their "Ovations" CD

Uploaded by George Ridout on You Tube: "Grant Us Peace is at its root a religious Bach melody composed for the mass.

"Today it touches all hearts with a sense of tranquility and peace that calms the cares of people of all religious traditions and those with no religion. Its sense of wonder is universal.

"The Tempus Choral Society is an award-winning eclectic choir that takes these 3 things seriously: singing with passion, creating joyful inspired hearts, and helping the poor and homeless."

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour knows no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. King James 2000 Bible (©2003)

Acts 1:7 He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times
or dates the Father has set by his own authority. New International Version (©1984)

Image: Soviet Mayan Playing Cards -

Does anyone else find it interesting that the 3 days of darkness that some people believe will follow the "Mayan apocalypse" (which happens to fall on the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year) parallels the story of the resurrection of Jesus (and Lazarus, and Jonah in the belly of the beast) after 3 days? (Edited to add: Not to mention 3 days after Dec. 21 is...Christmas.) Is it at all possible that the sun-worshipping ancients saw something like what people in Shanghai saw the other week (link to Business Insider: The Chinese Are Freaking Out About The End Of The World by Adam Taylor | Dec. 11, 2012), and thought, "Holy cripes, it's the trinity of the Sun - like the triple goddesses of the Moon, aren't these the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?"

Image: Nuremberg chronicles - Sun Dogs (CCIIIv) - See Sun dog - Wikipedia

It's fine if people want to gain something spiritual from symbolism, be it "pagan" or "religious," but I don't think the Bible, or any bible, is meant to be dissected for codes to be found as to when our physical world will end. Rather, I believe anyone with respect for spiritual living will find in the words only spiritual elements that uplift us all in love and light.

You've heard this before: "Live every day like your last, for tomorrow is not promised to us." That doesn't mean live without preparing for the future; it simply means be grateful for each day the sun rises. :-)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose

It's late in the game to fall in love with yet another scent, but you know what they say: better late than never, right? This is going on my Christmas list. The notes listed are raspberry, rose, vanilla and musk, but I smell pink grapefruit right off the bat, and although it's been years since I wore anything grapefruity like Yves Saint Laurent Baby Doll, I like it. It has fruity elements but Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose (2011) is sophisticated, plush and subtly gourmand sweet, actually more of a candy floss-fruitchouli than a Floral, albeit quieter than Lancôme's other recent offering, La Vie est Belle which I'd compare to Elie Saab. Trésor Midnight Rose might be closer to, say, Penhaligon's Amaranthine, but even more ethereal. My tween girl and I can share our love for Trésor Midnight Rose; her other favorites don't do much for me: Viva la Juicy, Viva la Fleur, Someday, but you get the idea--Trésor Midnight Rose is complex enough to be a proper perfume, yet gentle enough for young people and non-regular perfume wearers.

I'm sorry I was never a huge fan of Lancôme's superstar, the original Trésor (1990) now considered a vintage classic, but Lancôme has won me over with this sleeper hit of a home run.

Emma Watson for Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose campaign

(Edited to add) Lancôme Trésor Midnight Rose was composed by perfumer Anne Flipo, who also composed my favorite ethereal white floral beauty, L'Artisan Parfumeur La Chasse Aux Papillons (1999).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

NASA warns Mayan apocalypse stories pose threat to frightened children and suicidal teenagers

"While some are throwing fantastical Doomsday countdown parties, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is issuing grave warnings that 2012 Mayan apocalypse rumors pose a real-life threat to frightened children and depressive teenagers.

"David Morrison, an astrobiologist at NASA Ames Research Center, said on Wednesday that he receives a large number of emails and letters from worried citizens, most often from young people. (...) "He made that announcement during an online video 'hangout' event hosted by NASA on Google+, calling the propagation of rumors on the Internet to frighten children ‘evil.’

"‘While this is a joke to some people and a mystery to others, there is a core of people who are truly concerned,’ Morrison said.

"NASA, a United States government agency, recently set up an information page on its website explaining why the world is not going to end on December 21, 2012.

"The apocalypse rumors and fears are based on misinterpretations of the Mayan calendar, as reported." Read more: 2012 Mayan apocalypse rumors pose a threat to frightened children and suicidal teenagers, says NASA - by Damian Ghigliotty 29 November 2012


Related links:

Laurell Eden - We're All Still Here (Funny music video about Dec. 21st, 2012) - December 11, 2012

Last-minute surge in demand for Mayan apocalypse advent calendars - December 01, 2012

Last edited: 1:53 PM

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Laurell Eden - We're All Still Here (Funny music video about Dec. 21st, 2012)

We're All Still Here (Funny music video about Dec. 21st, 2012)

Performed by Laurell Eden, uploaded on December 11, 2012:
"A funny dance song about how we all survive December 21st, 2012. So much fun! Check it out."

Singer-songwriter Laurell Eden on why she made this video:
"I created this video to help us laugh a little at our collective fears about December 21st, 2012. The song is a joyous post-Dec. 21st anthem of celebration, Its major theme is in the chorus, "We're all still here, alive. There's a party and it's worldwide. So, throw your hands up high cause we made it here alright". By the middle of the video, we've already made it safely to December 22nd. When people see or imagine a positive outcome in advance, it helps them to chill out and expect to be okay. And laughter is such good medicine."

Read what Laurell believes about 2012 on You Tube

(PS: See if you recognize the reporter at the top of this video... ;-D)

Last updated: 6:27 PM

Friday, December 07, 2012

Caron Or et Noir

I finally understand how Caron Parfum Sacré (1990) is the modernized version of Or et Noir (1949). Neither are the works of perfumer and Caron founder Ernest Daltroff but of Jean-Pierre Béthouart and Michel Morsetti, respectively. The perfumes are from different time periods, the predecessor a classic urn fragrance and the other a more accessible, (comparatively) widely distributed fragrance, yet these powdery, deep, spicy roses are not only distinctively Caron but plush, elegant roses so devoid of youthful (some say gimmicky) top note effervescence, they border on being somber. While nothing about them sparkles like precious gemstones, they smell of the rich, knowing tones of old gold, vibrant brassiness replaced by sabi, the aesthetic reward of age. It was inevitable that I would eventually come to appreciate great perfumes that I knew were great but found lackluster a decade ago. They say we lose our sense of smell over time, but perchance we only tune in to different frequencies at various points of our lives, finding different pitches and tones attractive and harmonious with our own being, physical, mental or spiritual.

In my perfume collection are bright, shiny things, vividly composed to lighten up our senses like a Xmas tree. I have favorite roses I could describe this way, yet Or et Noir is the scent I find most beautiful right now. The scent is not so spicy to me anymore, nor is the darkness of its velvety petals any less dewy than the vanillic rose buds of Caron Rose. The earthy woods smell balanced and stable, the rose so intense, pure, like a magnificent rose garden in full bloom in the dead of winter, dark and thorny giant blossoms like gothic stones from a distance. These roses smell resinous and robust but not especially ambery warm.

I often use the term "perfumey" to describe intricate scents, but I believe the additional violet notes in Parfum Sacre make it perfumier than Or et Noir, a bit astringent like Van Cleef & Arpels First, Balenciaga Le Dix or Amouage Dia, sharper with greener edges although a bit more rounded and sloped compared to the padded shoulders of the past. Or et Noir doesn't have a theme like "sacred perfume" into which the obvious motif ties the frankincense base, rife with religious connotation. Or et Noir is simply "gold and black," and if you didn't imagine how those colors and shades tied into alchemy and old magic itself, you might wonder what an incensey and somewhat prickly rose soliflore with patchouli and mossy green Chypre undertone has to do with its abstract name at all. Actually, I'm still wondering why the golden sunburst image in the Or et Noir ad resembles the monstrance (ostensorium) held by Catholic priests, but maybe it's best to leave Caron to their explanation of the meaning of their one very mysterious perfume.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Last-minute surge in demand for Mayan apocalypse advent calendars

Apocalypse Advent Calendar by Posta, Computer Arts

News Thump - UK Spoof News and Satire 30 November 2012 by Waylandsmithy: Last-minute surge in demand for Mayan apocalypse advent calendars - Britain’s high streets are experiencing a huge surge in last-minute shoppers, desperate to get their hands on a Mayan apocalypse advent calendar.

I hadn't really understood what the Advent calendar was till recently, but it's basically a calendar that counts down the days till Christmas Eve. You know how for Hanukkah you get a small gift for each of the 8 days until the last day when you get the big present? Read more about the Advent calendar on Wikipedia

Visit this site for a list of Online Advent Calendars - Monkeys and Mountains


Related link: Laurell Eden - We're All Still Here (Funny music video about Dec. 21st, 2012) - December 11, 2012