Saturday, September 30, 2006
Thursday, September 28, 2006
Green Honeyed Sap
Yuzu Citrus by Artemisia Perfume
Vibrant and bright citrus that is sweet and refreshing, like a honeyed ice-tea.
Yuzu Citrus opens with a startling bright green galbanum note, which leads the way to citrus scented lemongrass and lemon verbena leaves, the sweetness of honey and yuzu (the sweet effervescent Japanese citron) with a hint of floral notes, and based upon a balsamic-herbal foundation of clary sage and frankincense.
Galbanum notes weave in and out of the perfume as it evolves – at times green and bright, and other times balsamic and resinous with great staying power. Despite the use of yuzu in the perfume (and the name), this is not a disctintively yuzu scent. It is a green, honeyed, sappy galbanum.
The talented Lisa Fong from Artemisia Perfumes has created this perfume solely from natural essences. Ms. Fong is a former co-director of the Artisan Natural Perfumery Guild, and a student of Mandy Aftel. Her style is that of refined elegance, usually focusing on a particular essence or combination of essences and showcasing their unique characateristics (my other favourites from her line bear the titles Saffron and Jasmine Tea), which brings to mind Jo Malone’s perfumery, emphasizing the individual ingredients. However, I do find Lisa Fong’s perfumes to possess a greater depth and originality and have a better lasting power.
Yuzu Citrus is the most fresh and citrusy of her line. It is a green-citrus scent that is both refreshing and long lasting.
Top notes: Galbanum, Lemongrass
Heart notes: Yuzu absolute, Lemon Verbena, Honey, Harshingar Flowers
Base notes: Frankincense, Clary Sage
Green Grass & Sunshine by V'Tae
Katy has sent me this as part of a few ScentBloggers’ little game of Blind Scent Reviews. In her infamous humorous wit, Katy has titled this blind sample “Hermitt McDermitt” (named after a song title I am not familiar with, and therefore I immediately associated this with Hermitt the Frog!).
This deliciously refresghing green froggy-juice feels like a lemongrass tea sweetened with honey and made of steeping the fresh long fuzzy leaves – I can feel their roughness on my tongue as I sip it, I mean – sniff it. This scent really creates the illusion of being a drinkable, thirst-quenching tea! The galbanum is very dominant, but in a most appealing way as its balsamic qualities shine through and any sharpness is rounded off so all you get is the green of a fresh cut grass and sappy tree branches. There is geranium, lemongrass, galbanum and honey at the top and heart notes. The dry down is rather earthy, with patchouli, cedar and sandalwood and that are finally taken over by woody and earthy vetiver.
Top notes: Galbanum, Geranium, Lemongrass
Heart notes: Honey
Base: Cedar, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vetiver
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Celebrating with Apples: Lovely Liquid Satin
The first thing that strikes me about Lovely is the unusual use of lavender and patchouli in such a light hearted context. This was no tutti-frutti fragrance as you may expect judging by the hundreds of perfumes (even more so with celebrity and drugstore fragrances) released recently. It had an original, elegantly rough edge to it. Lovely is modern chic, sharp like clean-cut like a tailored suit, yet flowing like a satin gown. It’s prettied-up only by an ornamental fabric rose - and more importantly, the bright smile of the person who wears it. Despite the fact that it does have florals, it is not floral in the traditional sense of the word. You don’t think of flowers when you wear lovely. If anything at all, you think of textures and fabrics such as crepe and linen and dull, brushed silk.
Now, about a year after its release, my patience to hold off a purchase has paid off: a new version has been just released. It’s the same fragrance, only based in an alcohol-free, silicone-based medium, and titled “Lovely Liquid Satin”. And liquid satin it is indeed. This formulation allows for a softer presence without the alcohol that usually interferes with the top notes, and also the bottle is truly lovely – a frosted, light pink hued bottle, or a golden “perfume wand” – a roll on of 30ml that fits into any purse or pocket. I am a big believer in small packaging for perfumes, so I was sold quickly on this one.
The opening of both formulations is a heady and clean, crisp mélange of rosewood, lavender and apple martini. The apple martini note is brilliant. It really adds an unusually vivid, effervescent quality to the opening and thankfully lacks the mustiness that some other apple scents uphold.* It’s boozy only in an elegant way – like sipping on the cocktail to appreciate the flavour, without getting drunk.
The Liquid Satin has a slightly different opening, in which I can detect top notes of lemongrass (which I do not smell in the alcohol based fragrance), which is sharp and grassy, but thankfully fades out rather quickly. The patchouli note is also more pronounced at the opening. I have a feeling that this silicone based version is more true to the original concoction made by Sarah Jessica Parker herself. It just has that authentic impression of a perfume enthusiast blending scents together that will bear her own character.
The heart notes are abstract florals – orchids and paper whites. Paper whites are not fancy silken paper sheets as I was almost lead to believe, but rather refer to a flower from the narcissi family - Narcissus Tazetta whose odour is described by noses as "Rich, thick and creamy, this warm fragrance envelopes you in a soft, floral jasmine like glow". I can’t say that I smell narcissus in there, but there is a light floral impression that is hard to describe. As I said – abstract.
These soft, ethereal florals bridge into an even more abstract base of highly processed patchouli (dry and clean rather than earthy and musty), amber and musk – together resulting in an effect that is very close to the skin. An original, clean musk skin scent, subtly surrounding the wearer with a mystifying aura that is clean and pleasant. I prefer the Liquid Satin over the alcohol based formulation. Although the scent is essentially the same, this version is softer and even more subtle.
Lovely has been compared often to Narciso Rodriguez, and while I agree that they are very similar, I still think of Lovely as an original fragrance. These are both light musk scents, very modern and abstract, with a suggestive floral heart, and an effervescent, boozy opening. But Lovely has a certain dry, almost rough edge to it that makes it stand apart and prevents it from looking like an imitation of Narciso Rodriguez (which I intend on reviewing very soon).
Celebrities and their scents come and go, but there is something about Lovely that makes me want it to stay. And if it wouldn’t stick around forever, I am certain it would be talked about and missed and longed for much like other old favourites that have disappeared into the abyss of discontinuation.
Top notes: Rosewood, Apple Martini, Lavender, Madarin, Lemongrass
Heart notes: Paperwhites, Orchid
Base notes: Patchouli, Cedar, White Amber, Musk
Bottle & pearls image from Nordstrom.com
*My nose finds that Be Delicious is the queen of musty apples, and I just can’t even sample it without thinking all the time of biting into a perfectly round from outside apple, with a completely rotten core; a disappointing experience I am not particularly enthused to experience the perfume version of.
Monday, September 25, 2006
l'Instant: Magnolia and Honey
I strongly resisted l’Instant when it just came out. It just was so not Guerlain. My first impression of it was of an unwanted (yet pretty) step-sister to the other Guerlain scents. Young and inexperienced rather as opposed to the sophisticated style that the other Guerlain scents radiate. Although l’Instant did not win my heart when I finally took on to wear it for a full day and notice its evolution, I did discover a beautiful magnolia scent – the trademark of its creator, Monsieur Maurice Roucel. L’Instant is a Floral. If anybody tells you otherwise, don’t believe them: this is not a “modern oriental”, in fact, it is not even what I would call floriental.
L’Instant is a scent that revolves around the theme of magnolia: sweet and honey like without being cloying (an element which the citrus-honey note supports); Iris to accentuate the fluffy powderiness; and a benzoin-vanilla base to maintain the sweetness as much as possible.
After application, I instantly recognized something familiar. It took me a while to get it - Tocade! Indeed, the two perfumes do share some striking similarities: both contain magnolia, bergamot, orris and vanilla. Tocade has a lot of roses, and in many aspects this is the main difference between the two. In fact, l’Instant is so similar to Tocade that I am surprised nobody picked up on it before. I will not be surprised if it is a tweaking of the Tocade formula – accentuating the magnolia rather than the rose and being a bit lighter on the powdery notes, with the addition of the new notes – like the crystalline musk and the citrus honey. The two also share in common the clean, crisp synthetic bergamot top note.
As the scent evolved on my skin, I got occasional familiar whiffs of pleasant memories – one originated in a magnolia body milk splash I had about 7 years ago, and the other was almost identical to a festive jar of lemon-scented honey (citrus honey with the addition of lemon flavour). Citrus honey, by the way, is honey which is produced form citrus flowers, and it usually has a much lighter colour and flavour than other types of honey.
Overall, l’Instant is a sheer and cheerful modern floral; Very pleasant and easy to wear even if not at all sophisticated or complex like most Guerlain scents are. I would take this any time over most of the recent (non-boutique) Guerlain launches such as the Aqua Allegoria line, myriads of other fruity, floral and ambery-floral modern releases, and definitely won’t hesitate to pick this one over Insolence in an instant!
The crystalline base adds a somewhat aloof sensuality and sweetness – that is not unlike other modern orientals and florientals (i.e. the base in Addict, Nu, Kingdom and others).
Top notes: Rosewood and lilac notes, Bergamot, Mandarin
Heart notes: Magnolia, iris, citrus honey with some light lemon and orange blossom notes
Base notes: Benzoin, Vanilla, Crystalline Amber.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Asja: Honey and Cloves
Faithful to its name, Asja is all you could expect from a classical old-time oriental, but has a modern, up-bit twist that will make it adored even by those who typically dislike Orientals.
Rested on a sound foundation of all that could make a perfume an oriental - patchouli, musk, amber and clove bud absolute – Asja brings light and sparkle to this theme by using a well-balanced heart of a floral bouquet consisting primarily of carnations, and topped with a mouth-watering fruity accord.
Asja opens with a seductively luscious fruity notes that are sweet without being cloying and fresh without being flat or one-dimensional. The top not is engaging and inviting, and truly states what the perfume really is: a beautiful and rich, yet not overpowering Oriental, that is fruity and floral and not in the least cloying.
The eugenol theme (eugenol is the main constituent of clove buds and carnations) that characterizes this composition through all of its layers is pervasive but does not overpower the blend, and is not medicinal or sharp as you may expect:
There is something about the overall first impression of the top notes that brings to mind a rich, full-bodied mulled wine...As applied on the skin, a freshly-cut carnation flower emerges, immensely sweet and fresh, thanks to the addition of the round, rich and luscious fruity notes of peach and apricot, and a hint of citrus freshness.
The carnation heart is sweet and floral, and is rounded by exotic, fruity-floral notes of ylang ylang and a rich, subtle rose. It is also backed up by other spices that slowly emerge as the perfume develops on the skin: primarily Allspice Berry – the exotic large peppercorn-like spice, bold and interestingly dry and multi-layered. Allspice smells a lot like a pumpkin pie spice – a combination of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg.
The eugenol note at the base is dry and sweet at once, like clove-bud absolute, which is much more subtle, refined and feminine than the essential oil. The accord at the base is especially rich and lovely – the orient at its best: patchouli, a hint of dry spices, amber, musk, honey and vanilla, and perhaps even a hint of dry moss.
Asja is a real treat, and an easy-to-wear Oriental. It is sensual, stimulating, soothing and comforting all at once. It’s a perfume you could wear everywhere for any reason (just take care of the doses) – you will enjoy it as well as others around you!
It somewhat reminds me of the charming and un-demanding Cheap and Chic by Moschino – just like it, Asja is a little flirty and mischievous, and begs for being enjoyed without hesitation or a second thought – just put it on and have fun!
Heart notes Carnation, Clove bud oil, Rose, Jasmine, Ylang Ylang, Allspice berry
Base notes: Patcouli, Amber, Musk, Clove bud Absolute, Honey absolute
Apples in Honey
While pomegranates are evocative and sensual to eat, their scent is not the most fascinating part about them. The scent that I have tried that included pomegranate neither authentic nor interesting – and for the most part brought a berry-like interpretation of the fruit (Quel Amour!, Samsara Shine, Euphoria, Pomegranate Noir). Therefore, in salute to the Jewish holiday season, I have decided to dedicate a few entries to Apple in Honey – a symbolic food that signifies wishes for a sweet and whole year (as round as the apples dipped in the honey). You should try that too – it’s delicious!
First let’s talk a bit about the roles of honey and apples notes in perfumes. Apple and honey notes are usually used separately in perfumes, and add completely different qualities to a scent. An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but when it comes to perfume, there are no real apples used – it’s always synthetic molecules that resembles the idea of an apple, rather than a true fresh apple. Some natural perfumers may use tinctured apples or apple essence, but these smell like dry apples and from my experience are very unnoticeable in the presence of the far more concentrated essential oils and absolutes. The closest you can get to apple with naturals, so far, is Roman Chamomile essential oil, which has an intense, sweet, golden-delicious like apple notes. Apple simulations in most perfumes add a crisp, tart, slightly sweet top note that gives an olfactory impression of just biting into an apple (and perhaps getting some of the juice going up your nose by mistake!). You will mostly find apples in floral composition from the fruity category (i.e.: Spring Flower, Baby Doll), and occasionally from the marine category (Light Blue). Since I have already reviewed my favourite apple scented perfume, Spring Flower, I will dedicate a full review this week to another (surprise) apple scent of my choice, so stay tuned!
Honey, on the other hand, is very similar to the actual tangible real-life product we know as either honey, honey comb or beeswax. Just imagine these notes condensed into the richest, most sticky and syrupy concoction, so concentrated that some animalic civet-like notes are swirling at the bottom and threatening to take over with their indolic affection. Honey is used for both its qualities: gourmand and animalic. Therefore it is most often found in oriental perfumes. As in my grandmother's honeycake, honey absolute goes particularly well with cloves. Therefore, it is not uncommon to find honey in heavily spicy compositions (Black Cashmere, Asja, Epice Sauvage) , as well as rich, thick, sweet gourmands (Finjan, Angel, Black Licorice, Miel de Bois) and ambery orientals (Fumerie Turque). Occasionally, honey will even find its way into more subdued florals (White Linen, Zohar).
Another beautiful thing about honey is that it smells and tastes differently depending on which flowers the bees were collecting their pollen and nectar. Therefore there are also variations in honey absolute: there is rich honey absolute (as from the honey collected from wild flowers and thorny bushes), and there is light citrus honey (as the one used in l’Instant de Guerlain and many scents in the Serge Lutens line).
So dip your crisp, freshly harvested in honey, and tell me of your favourite honey and/or apple scented perfumes!
Friday, September 22, 2006
Shana Tova and Ramadan Mubarak
To all of SmellyBlog readers around the world who are celebrating Rosh Hashana and the Holy Month of Ramadan, my wishes are that this will be a beautiful, fruitful and peaceful year for all of you, and the entire world!
The film Ararat opens with an old Armenian man going through customs after coming back from
I don’t blame him. The pomegranates in the
May this year be as sweet as apple in honey, and as full of deeds as the pomegranate seeds that I have just eaten. It is my hope that the fact that it was stale and moldy means that this will be a very fertile and fruitful year – full of beautiful fragrances and wonderful friendships.
Photo credit goes to my brother Yotam, who as usual manages to bring to me the scents, flavours and textures and ease my homesickness.
Rosh Hashana Honey Cake Recipe
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Resisting the shortening of days and the decreasing temperatures, there is one thing this season that can help create the illusion of summer: fresh pineapples from Hawaii. Contradictory to most of what I read and thought I know about pineapples, Fall seems to be the best time to get them here, and Vancouver is apparently close enough to Hawaii so that they get here fresh and fragrant. So much so, that the entire fruit store smells like deliciously juicy pineapples throughout the fall. I would buy an entire pineapple and leave it on the table like a vase with flowers, the only thing keeping me from eating it, is the knowledge that the longer I wait – the longer my home will smell like a tropical island. This fragrance is unmatched by any floral bouquet I have ever smelled.
Vanille-Pineapple smells not so much like fresh pineapples as it portrays the idea of pineapples as we know it through the flavoring industry. Nevertheless, I like it. A lot. The beginning is so juicy and sweet, it feels just like sucking the sugary fluids out of a pale-coloured pineapple-flavoured popsicle. And while I am at it – if you ever make it to
Once this sugary pineapple phase cools down, it becomes smoother and less juicy, as milky aspects start soothing their way through – coconut milk, and the slightly chalky, yet comforting oatmeal milk, which than warms up almost to an oatmeal porridge with a hint of cinnamon. This simplistic baby-phase is really fun, and gives an interesting spin on the pineapple theme, as it doesn’t stick to a tropical cliché too much.
The powdery oat milk becomes smoother as the base notes take over, as if boiled down into a caramely, thick sweetness. The caramel is flavored with vanilla and for extra warmth and sweetness; a shot of rum was sneaked into the base. The dry down is more vanillic, with some musk. Sounds like we smelled this before? Yes, but not quite. Some trails of pineapple tartness remain at the base.
Vanille Pineapple is a fun fragrance to wear, the type of scent that adds a smiley sunlight into an otherwise grey day. It might be too sweet for the summer though, so when it’s hot an you crave a pineapple fragrance my recommendation will be the slightly more tart, green and powdery Ananas Fizz by l’Artisan.Comptoir Sud Pacifique fragrances are becoming more and more avaialble. To my delight, I just found them in none other than Shoppers Drug Mart beauty boutique in Yaletown.
Notes (base on Basenotes; for some reason,): Pineapple, Vanilla Cream, Passion Frit, Cinammon, Frangipani, Vanilla Sgar, Coconut Milk, Musk
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Judging by the passionate colours of the fluidly designed phallic yet curvy bottles, I was really expecting something powerfully seductive. Instead, what I got from KenzoAmour was a cuddly synthesis of gourmand suggestions, what is now known as “comfort scent” – the olfactory equivalent of a chocolate, ice cream or a bag of chips on a lonely Friday night, watching cartoons on the couch and wearing pyjamas with matching cartoon character prints.
Kenzo Amour starts with a confusing floral bouquet – nondescript, abstract, utterly synthetic florals labeled as frangipani and cherry blossom. I smell a hint of rose and powder that is a faint déjà vu of FlowerbyKenzo – one of Kenzo’s greatest hits. There is an underlining of powder and musk. The heart notes dive into a concoction of cherries and steamed rice, in a dessert connotation such as rice dumpling or a fluffy coconut bun sprinkled with crushed raw peanuts; And a rather gentle suggestion of cherries – somewhat like a subdued version of Lutens’ Rahat Loukum. What saves me from drowning in sweetness is a slightly tart note, which I cannot quite place my nose on, and might be the white tea notes.
I was really expecting for something truly new from Kenzo Amour, and instead I got quotes from different perfumes: The base is powdery musk and vanilla, as in Flower, or the signature dry down of the Ormonde Jayne line (The tartness of Amour reminds me of the pink pepper and dates notes in Ta’if, and the steam rice recalls the basmati rice in Champaca). Also, it is also not far off from other mass-marketed scents such as Armani’s Mania and Code.
As for the beautiful packaging and bottles - this is quite a clever marketing stunt: three bottles of the same fragrance, in three different colours and slightly different shapes. These look great next to each other in the ads. But in reality, they look like an interesting take on clean Scandinavian and/or Japanese design gone affordable and sold at IKEA, after being molded into cheap plastic or ceramics, or worst yet – adapted into leather couches. I almost bought into it, and first bought the large freesia coloured bottle, only to discover that in this size it looks more like a vase than a perfume flacon – and the colour is all wrong, it’s orange and plasticky looking (anyways, when displayed on its own…). I suggest starting small, with the fuchsia bottle, which is truly adorable. However, when it comes to functionality, these beautiful designs can act rather odd: the elongated neck of the lid creates the peculiar feeling of gabbing onto a drumstick, prepared for a juicy bite… (well, it is juicy, actually…).
Notes: Cherry Blossom, Frangipani, White Tea, Steamed Rice, Thanaka Wood, Vanilla, Musk Perfumer: Daphne Bugey
Bottle design: Karim Rachid
Box design: Research Studios
Images and information about notes and designers adapted from Kenzo's website.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
When I first enter Chinatown, my attention is immediately drawn to the apothecaries and tea shops that are like no other: the famous five-spice blend, ginseng roots, dried rosebuds, dehydrated fungi, lizards, seafood and occasional flying dragons, and green teas from every type and breed and roast. Than my eye catches the colourfully irresistible fruit stands – with white peaches, nectarines and mangos, durian and and litchis. Chinatown perfume opens similarly with a dusty-sweet cloud of medicinal yet sweet smelling Five Spice, accompanied by an overwhelmingly syrupy sweet peach.
Next I am dazzled by the fabrics – satin, brocade, silk and simple cotton. A tapestry of colours and floral patterns that is very much like the bouquet of exotic florals at the heart of Chinatown – mostly gardenia, but also the spiciness of Chinese peonies, drawn on the back of a sandalwood-carved fan. Added to these are the gunpowder-like hot and dry Szechuan pepper.
As the scent progresses on the skin, it leads me lower and deeper, into cellars and basements dimly lit by paper lanterns and filled with fragrant antique furniture – camphor and mothballs aside, the scent of wood dominates, and besides the waves from the ornamental sandalwood fan, and through the gardenia wafts and the smoke from Buddhist sandalwood joss-sticks, there is an underlining coarse-voiced murmur of patchouli – like the secret writing of an ancient man. It’s dirty and dry and earthy and musky – but also ancient, with the texture of ink calligraphy on rice paper.
Once Chinatown settles on the skin, it is softened by the powdery sweetness of vanilla and musk, and the dry down of very dry, pencil-like cedarwood, and the hints of smoky, rosy and honeyed guiacwood.
Comfortable yet strange; pretty yet bizarre; juicy from hints of a lusciously sweet peach and also slightly fishy, like the dried exotic seafood sold by the merchants in Chinatown. While the scent is an abstract rather than realistic portrayal of a Chinatown experience – it does, in its own charming way, bring together elements – both visual, sensual and smellsual, that recall a day of wondering and discovery in a Chinese cultural gem that is contained in many North American cities.
Chinatown might need some time getting used to and is an unusual scent that contains many conflicts that surprisingly (and naturally…) resolve themselves just by existing, in a the manner of Zen: medicinal vs. sensual; sweet vs. dry; modern vs. traditional. Everything in this perfume, from the brocade inspired bottle, to the phases of fragrance development on the skin, is a phenomenal experience that is veiled with alluring mystery.
Top notes: Five Spice, Peach
Heart notes: Gardenia, Tuberose, Peony, Szechuan Pepper
Base notes: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Guiacwood, Cedarwood, Vanilla
Image of Chinatown bottle courtesy of Bond No. 9
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Inbetweening* with Perfumes
Of course, all of this wouldn’t matter a dime if it wasn’t connected to perfume, somehow. For those two or three weeks dangling between summer and autumn, I like to surround myself with rather bizarre scents that don’t seem to make too much sense on the outside, but for me they mean just that – the anticipation of darkness in the presence of light.
Dusky, incensy white florals – there is something indulgent and cheerful about white florals. The ones that are underlined by incense, maybe even a hint of patchouli and spice – are the most intriguing and mysterious; and while very pretty – they radiate an aura of Femme Fatale that is ready to surprise any minute. My favourites of these are Noix de Tubereuse and White Potion – and most recently I also added to these Songes with its sweet, somewhat naïve charm; and
Coumarin compositions – the bittersweet effect of these hay-like compositions make them feel dangerous and delightful at once. My favourites are Yohji, with it’s green galbanum opening and a hint of marine, which dries down to a powdery delight of amber and vanilla; and Yerbamate – another deceptive scents that opens with a dry, herbal and extremely bitter wormwood (absinthe) and sense of soapiness and cleanliness that is very masculine, with notes of mate, lavender and dry hay, but than turns sweeter into a tonka and coumarin concoction. You may also want to try Fou d’Absinthe and Yatagan, from a similar category.
What about the leathers? And the Chypres? I will wait till the leaves change their colours to do so. By than, the scent of Chypre will dominate the forests, as the leaves will dry, fall and start to disintegrate and meld with the wet earth.
* Inbetweening is a term from animation, which is the poses used inbetween key poses, in order to smoothen up the movement and make it more (or less!) realistic.
When summer is not quite over, but fall hasn’t quite began, a few special notes linger in the air in preparation of the cold seasons and as a farewell for the joyous days of yellow sun and azure skies…
The scent of back to school – new books and fresh paper, clean slates, snow-white rubber erasers and neatly sharpened cedar pencils.
The delicate scent of beach lilies, pure white, emerging from the dunes…
The powerful view of Chatzav poles – those white statues of tiny white blossoms. The bulbs of the plant contain many microscopic needles, that sting the skin when touched. Therefore, the bulbs were used to mark the borders between territories.
In contrast to all this whiteness, the blood-red tart juice of sour pomegranates, spouring their hearts and staining those white holiday clothes.
The skies are still bright. There is no rain. But there is a chill in the evenings. And you know it’s only a matter of days before the trees will paint their leaves gold and crimson – only to shed them and leave them to rot on the ground.Photo credit: Yotam Dehan © 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Closing the Summer wtih Philosykos
Figs are irresistible. Considered the fruit of Venus and Aphrodite in the Roman and Greek traditions, figs are believed to awaken a healthy passion and bring fertility. The sensuality of figs combines some ambivalence, just as sexuality can sometimes be both disturbing and pleasurable. And while the fruit is utterly seductive, lest we forget the leaves, who are responsible for the development of fashion for generations to come. And
This is perhaps why it took an Italian perfumer, Olivia Giacobetti, to recognize these intriguing traits in figs, and create the very first fig soliflore (Premier Figuier for l’Artisan Parfumeur). This green concoction opened with complementary (yet melancholy) notes of mastic bush, which accentuated the crisp and tangy greenness of figs, and was daring enough to pay attention to fig milk in the way of adding a coconut milk to the concoction.
But it wasn’t until Ms. Giacobetti has created Philosykos that the sensual experience of green figs was completely squeezed into a bottle. Anything from the very first aroma surrounding the trees baring the ripe (or not-so-ripe) fruit in summer can be experienced from first whiff of Philosykos. One can feel the fuzziness of the fig skin and the roughness of the leaves as they rub against a bare shoulder. One can hear the crumbling of dry wild grass underneath the tree as the eyes are set up to the branches searching for that paler, slightly yellowish waxy look of the just-ripe fruit. One can feel the surprising stinging sensation of the skin when the fig-milk drips from the slightly under ripe fruit’s stem, and crawls along a trembling finger and sticks to greedy lips and burning tongue.
Green figs are best eaten fresh. To be more accurate, they must be eaten straight from the tree, and not be washed at all. If they are dusty, considered the dust a gourmand addition from the earth itself. If the milk burns your lips, consider it a blessing of fire, as even the purest spring water cannot wash the milk away.
Many secrets were whispered below the fig trees, many warts were banished by the burn of the firey milk, and many summers were seasoned by aromatic green figs. When I can’t hop on the plane to pick figs with my brother along the sides of Road no. 6, at least I have Philosykos to marinate myself in, with it’s dry and green edible notes of green fig, coconut milk and cedar.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Favourite Tropical Body Products
Continuing the tropical theme, I want to share some of my favourite body products this summer.
Being a perfumer and an avid perfume wearer, I actually prefer my body products to be very lightly scents, if at all. Unfortunately, unscented body products often smell like white glue… So I usually opt for the more attractive options, usually with as many natural moisturizers as possible, and with a subtle scent that will not overpower the perfumes that I would like to wear, or better yet – will complement them somehow.
I like both their Coconut Milk Body Cream and Cocoa Butter Hand & Body Lotion.
The Coconut Milk Body Cream Smells like coconut milk and a hint of pineapple, fresh and silky smooth. The Cocoa Butter Hand & Body Lotion is a bit heavier in texture, satiny-smooth, and nevertheless absorbs well into the skin. It is delicately scented with cocoa and honey.
Another coconut delight is Vancouver based Escents’ Coconut Escape Body Milk, which comes in the form of spray. An ideal solution for preventing stretch mark in your teenage daughters – all you need to do is attack her with this fragrant spray of tonka bean, benzoin and coconut, and the skin will become flexible and rejuvenated and resist the temptation to show signs of stretching.
I already told you about my love to Azurée Body Oil from Estee Lauder - a new take on the mossy scent Azurée from 1969. An interesting take on beachy scents, this includes incense, myrrh, vetiver and gardenia notes and a hint of allspice. It took me a little while to get used to the idea of spraying oil on my body – but the scent is gentle and heavenly, and the oil is very lightweight. The scent is more dominant than the other body products I mentioned above, but it is light enough to wear another perfume at the same time, if desired. I love it on its own – one of the very few “perfumey” body products that I don’t find overwhelming. The oil itself includes olive oil and macademia nut oils, and feels as gentle on the skin as it is to the nose.
For the face, I am even more picky – cleasers and moisturizers have to not only smell good, but also absorb well, perform, and most importantly – be hypoallergenic. My favourite for years was Jason Natural’s Tea Time Green Tea Moisturizer. It had a green tea and nutty scent, and was perfect in almost everyway. Recently, I stuck with my new discovery of Alba’s Jasmine & Vitamin E Moisture Cream, which has a lovely scent of jasmine that goes particularly well with Le Parfum de Thérèse...
P.s. Painting of Gauguin from Gallery Lafayette.
P.s.s. Tomorrow: closing the summer with figs.
Sunday, September 10, 2006
This is again a review of the older version of the scent from Comptoir Sud Pacifique. The new version, Aloha Tiaré, is not the same scent at all. Generally speaking, the new one is more of a gardenia and tuberose scent, while the older version reminds, while the original, baring the simple name Tiaré, is a creamy and indulging Monoi Oil scent – an infusion of the Tahitian gardenia named Tiaré in coconut oil.
Unfortunately, the beginning of Tiaré is overwhelming and smells strongly of artificial jasmine and gardenia on an oily background of coconut and vanilla. The intensity level is so overwhelming that it gives off the impression of fueling gas. Luckily, after about half an hour it softens into a creamy scent of white flowers condensed and immersed into coconut oil infused with vanilla beans. The dry down is not unlike Songes, but I find Songes to be more sophisticated and magical.
Tiaré reminds me very much of Yves Rocher’s Monoi de Tahiti body and hair oil – also discontinued, unfortunately. I think I prefer the scent of Monoi as a body product, in an oil base, rather than as a perfume. There is something more appealing about it as a beach scent per-se, rather than a scent that suppose to remind us of the beach. There is something about this that just makes it feel fake.P.s. This would be the last review of beachy scents for this summer. I am really trying to push it, but I should have taken the hint from the rain in JFK airport and realized it's fall already. One more post as a summer grand finale, and I will officially settle myself into my autumn moods, scents and clothes...
Saturday, September 09, 2006
Songes is a creamy and soft white floral, and although it has a definite presence and character, it is very gentle. Wearing is it like being wrapped in a fluflly cloud of subdued flowers from the tropics, washed by gentle rain, than dried again to excude a delicate, far more tolerable sweetness. The opening is a lush, creamy gardenia (not the heady bobmshell of Gardenia Passion), along with ylang ylang and jasmine, and than comes a creamy tuberose with incensey undertones (at this stage it reminds me of Noix de Tubereuse, less the slightly plasticky/lipstick like note there), along with slightly tea-like notes of jasmine and a tiniest hint of green and peachy fruitiness that dissipates after a couple of minutes. It's smooth and round and there is no particular note standing out, all the notes create together a tropical floral dream and a lazy feeling of satisfaction. The dry down is sweet and ambery with powdery vanilla. It's never too sweet nor cloying. Just sheer pleasure with a good measure of modesty. It's a sensual white floral with no bombarding pretence.
The Eau de Toilette is very similar in character (you won’t mistake it for a different scent), though I would have to emphasize that the creaminess (what some refer as coconut note) is not so prominent. Instead, the frangipani and ylang ylang take a first seat for a while, and than gradually make room for a gentle jasmine and a vanilla drydown. Overall, the EDT feels a tad drier and more powdery. Although I love the EDP concentration, the moon bottle, in reality, surprisingly put me off, and I settled for the modest spray bottle with the golden mushroom cap and starred organza ribbon. It does look dreamily gorgeous in this ad though:
I admire Annick Goutal as a perfumer and as person and for being one of the few women in her field. I love her approach and the personal touch that all of her perfumes have - the stories and the emotions behind them. She was a remarkable woman and I wish I was able to meet her in person before her tragically early death.
Unfortunately, most of the Annick Goutal scents do not work for me. Most of them feel too green or green or soapy on my skin, and although they are so delicate and refined, their presence is too sharp for me. I tried anything from Eau de Camille and Eau de Charlotte to Folavril, Eau d‘Hadrien and Eau de Sud and Grand Amour. But I was able to wear none of them more than a couple of times. While most of the above mentioned creations always feel to me too “perfect” and require admiration from a distance, I find in Songes the warmth and sweetness that makes me want to come closer and be able to become part of the perfume when I wear it. It is versatile (I’ve worn it day or night and in warm and cool weathers, equally enjoying the dreamy pleasure that Songes has to offer). yet has a definite character. Camille Goutal may not create the same kind of scents that her mother made, but she did not fall far from the tree in following her heart’s passions and sharing them with the world.
Heart notes: Jasmine, Tuberose
Base notes: Vanilla, Incense, Powdery notes
Bottle images and ad from Annick Goutal's website.
Friday, September 08, 2006
בסוף רמת גן יש מקום מיוחד At the edge of Ramat Gan there's a special place
When I lived in Ramat-Gan, a part of Greater Tel Aviv, where the Elit Chocolate Factory resides, I could smell the chocolate everyday on the way to work. The building is grey and melancholy looking, just like any busy factory. But this concerned no one. The fragrance of chocolate that wafted in the air within about a mile radius around the factory was the best start imaginable for a morning – particularly on a winter day. And what more – smelling chocolate has none of the (down)side-effects of eating it, even early in the morning. It was pure indulgence.
Amour de Cacao is just this: the scent of a laborious chocolate factory, sweet and rich and creamy and oh so tasty. Today, the first day of weather that does not resemble melted chocolate, I got into the browny mood of warmth and chocolate. I sprayed myself generously without feeling in the least overpowered. I am walking all day in an invisible cloud of rich chocolate, slightly caramely, with nutty undertones of walnuts and roasted coffee beans. Light as cocoa powder, without the sneeze. Pure pleasure.
Comptoir Sud Pacifique original Amour de Cacao is the first full bottle from this line that I proudly added to my collection. Being notorious for loving complex perfumes with dark and winding stories, I found it difficult to choose a fragrance from this line of candy-store scents. I loved many, but none really grabbed my attention beyond the novelty – Vanille Banane, Ananas Vanille,
P.s. I was planning to continue with reviews of a few last summery scents, but, alas, the weather here is cool and invites brown scents. If I will not post my other beach-scents reviews soon they might need to wait till next summer...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
There are very few sun tan oils or sunscreen lotions that I like; yet, there is something immediately captivating about scents that bring to mind that sun-and-and-soaked feel of sunbathing products – the feeling of freedom and carefree, both peaceful and wild.
Fire Island is not so much fiery as it is bottled water-fun. It is suggestive of both watery breezes and sun-tan lotion: the scent that emanates from my skin when I climb out of the pool, dripping chlorinated water that washed away some of that gardenia and lily scented sunscreen. The late afternoon breeze is blowing, slightly chilling the skin into pleasurable goose bumps that glitter in the diagonal rays of sun that is just about to set in the horizon.
The Bond No. 9 line was designed to conjure memorable locations in New York. I have only been to New York once, so I cannot comment on the connection between the locations and the scents. Fire Island is named after a dune-y beach in the city, and the scent is one of the most likeable and easy to wear beach scents I know. The perfumer, Michel Almairac, also created the similarly innocent Secret Wish (Anna Sui), the sweet Casmir by Chopard, and many more.
The notes, according to Briana from Bond No. 9 are:
Top notes: Cardamom, Ozone
Heart notes: Neroli, White Musk
Base notes: Skin Musk, Tuberose, Patchouli
Personally, I smell mostly the ozone note, and notes of gardenia and lily and a slightly creamy musk, and a hint of neroli.
The past two weeks I spent in three different time zones, and 4 full days were spent in aircrafts and airports. That’s what happens when one chooses to live 6671 miles away from their hometown.
I am now completely jet-lagged in the most odd way, as I never quire had the time to get used to any time zone I visited in particular: 4 days in NYC, 8 days in Israel is not enough to get adjusted to any time zone really. The result is interesting, and includes headache, fatigue, a very minor head cold – all very minor issues, but altogether they make want to wear no perfume whatsoever at the moment.
So, instead of reviewing perfumes or telling you about the amazing scents of summer, I decided to dedicate this post to the amusements of airport security, duty free hassles and airplane discomforts – or to be more precise – break a few myths around the current security craze that is happening in the world.
Myth no. 1: (which was the most scary one for me) - I will die from thirst on the airplane. Not true. They did let me bring on my empty water bottle, which the airplane crew kindly refilled as much as I needed. No need to worry there.
Myth no. 2: The most ridiculous one – you can’t buy in the Duty Free shops. Not true at all. Everything is absolutely as usual in the duty free shops. You buy whatever you want – perfumes, booze or anything else liquid, flammable and dangerous and suspicious – and they bring it to the gate (not any different from the duty free I remembered from the golden days pre the security craze).
Myth no. 3: You can’t take any body care products on the plane. Well, this is sort of true. You can’t take large bottles of your facial moisturizers and hand creams etc. (some clever airlines carry a steady supply of these in their lavatories on the aircrafts). But, when cleverly packed, and carelessly left in the bag, one might find themselves carrying to the aircraft convenient sizes of toothpaste (a much appreciated product on a 12 our or so Trans-Atlantic flights), and even more carelessly – long purse sprays of floral hydrosols and Le Parfum de Therese and even a sample vial of Chinatown. If Therese can pass security in a
On anther note, I have lived to see liquid medications (i.e. your much-needed cough syrup, anti-eczema cream or a humble supply of less than 4 oz. of Calamine Lotion) pass security as long as the person did not try to be too suspicious about it. The calamine lotion was passed by yours truly after spending the last 4 days before departure at my mother’s house in the country, where her skin was bitten by any possible bug on the shores of the
While all these were positive surprises, I came back only to find that quite a few of the sample packs I sent (usually sent in modest bubble-wrap envelopes, requiring only a couple of postal stamps) were returned due to unexpected changes in customs regulations: anything that is not a tiny letter in en envelope is now required to be sent as a small package with a full customs form. Unfortunately, this means that from now on I will not be able to send my sample packs free of charge, but will have to charge a modest sum of $5 to cover the costs of shipping.
I will return after gaining more sleep and losing some itch, with reviews of cheerful and summery scents such as Ananas Fizz, Songes, Fire Island and Comptoir Sud Pacifique's orignal Tiare – and an article about the scents of summer in the
Monday, September 04, 2006
Traveling Back, Packed with Love
I am traveling by air again, and will post again when I reach my destination in more than 36 hours - in this case: home.
I will be back in Vancouver September 6th and will log in to tell you of my adventures in the land of missed opportunities, summer in full blast, airport fiascos (or none) and more...
August 26th: Snifforama with NYC Perfumistas
In a charming Italian restaurant in
We set off for Aedes with left over from the generous lunch that mysteriously found its way to the table without invitation, all in high hopes for finding a hungry homeless dying to have that gourmet pizza. The doggy-bag ended up accompanying us to the finest perfume stores in
Aedes was nothing I had expected. It may be great to be able to recognize a meeting point by a photo on the internet, but when it came to Aedes, I was happy that I did not have any visual idea about the store, except for its name and its old fashioned logo (and a vague yet intriguing idea of some of the lines carried there). At the door, a gentleman named Robert was joyously smoking his afternoon cigarette and of course it wasn’t necessary for Ms. Winters and Ms. Arnott top introduce myself, and I was just the anonymous lady dragging along with the avid perfumistas (trying to keep a low profile, which lasted for quite a while)… The atmosphere inside the dim-lit and highly fragrant store space was very European – from the furniture and the decoration and the manner in which the perfume lines are exquisitely displayed in their antique cabinets, to the accent of the other gentleman, Karl, who greeted us warmly as soon as we entered the space.
I saw perfumes that have never smelled before – Mona di Orio line, wich I found most exquisite; Rosine’s line, which showcases the versatility of rose; Montale’s rich, Arabesque concoctions; Escentric Molecules’ sweet and short, abstract olfactory line (Nancy tried their Molecule No. 1 , which to me smelled as soft skin-musk, and Nancy experienced as celery seed); Jalaine’s oils in fancy cut-glass bottles; Luten’s legendary line, including the newest Chypre Rouge (it was celery again! Not what I was looking for in a Chypre…) and Vetiver Oriental;
Montale’s Oud Queen Rose was the only one I have tried on my wrist at Aedes. It was a bit like an exaggerated impression of Agent Provocateur, with higher doses of saffron, and of course a killer dose of oud. It was persistent for quite a long time until it started to soften and phase out.
We also got a sneak-sniff into the new l’Artisan harvest limited edition coming up, based on narcissus. To our sheer astonishment, it smelled very little of fresh narcissus, but strongly of dark coffee, and than a quiet, powdery and dark narcissus note has emerged from the bottom.
If it wasn’t for the charming Ms. Winters, I could have kept my anonymity throughout the visit and manage to go through the entire Rosine line and maybe even picking a new scent... But thanks to her enthusiasm, I had the opportunity for a brief olfactory seduction with scents such as Espionage and Zohar.
Nancy and I than set off to a couple of old pharmacies –
New London Pharmacy carried a similar variety of lines, namely Miller Harris, Sage Mechado, Dyptique, Comptoir Sud Pacifique, Aqua di Parma and Carthusia. If only we weren’t in a bit of a hurry to get to Barney’s store uptown on Madison Avenue before closure time, I would have readily spent more time (and probably money too…) in the rich perfume isles of these two old-fashioned pharmacies. They truly deserve their very own blog entry, and a bit of history
about the interesting relationship between the apothecary, pharmacy and perfumery. I will save this for my next trip to
It was Le Parfum de Therese that was calling my name all the way from Madison Avenue to the Village, and I had to go and meet her before the Barney’s closure time. The subway in New York is impressively fast and effective - it got us there in less than 30 minutes, and we had time not only to finally get a steady supply of this masterpiece (which have become my summer staple fragrance), but also befriend the two sales people – a kind and knowledgeable lady and an enthusiastic gentleman named Khash. We were fortunate enough to sniff We got more sniffs of l’Artisan, Serge Lutens and Frederick Malle scents that I haven’t had the chance to smell before. I tried Bigarade Concentree for the first time, and loved it more than I can ever expect from a citrus. There were also a few lines that I haven’t seen in any of the other fragrance boutiques I visited in NYC yet – such as Strange Invisible Perfumes and Yosh, and even the more known Costume National (thanks to Khash, I am now quite intrigued by their Scent Intense – a skin-musk type of scent in the black bottle). After Khash’s comment about our knowledge and understanding of fragrance, the kind Ms. Arnott couldn’t help it but follow Susan’s tradition of identity-revelation, and I had the pleasure of giving Khash a little tour of my fragrances as well, particularly the skin-like and the musky ones (Razala, Espionage). He likened Ayalitta, strangely enough, to an exotic Indian and Pakistani breath freshener, wrapped in leaves and served at the end of weddings and festivities. It was a fabulous day, with two fine ladies, in a fine city full of gorgeous perfumes and curious celery fragrances. It wasn’t until I got off the train in
It was a fabulous day, with two fine ladies, in a fine city full of gorgeous perfumes and curious celery fragrances. It wasn’t until I got off the train in