Thursday, May 31, 2007

Fiori di Tiglio

Fiori di Tiglio, originally uploaded by luigi.strano.

Linden Blossoms from the Tilia Vulgaris tree are prized for the flavour they lend to honey, and are also used as an herbal remedy when steeped in hot water to make a tisane often called “tilleul”. Linden blossom are very calming and are used in folklore and herbal medicine to treat conditions such as hysteria, anxiety, cold and fever, palpitations and migraines.

Linden is often refered to as “lime blossom” (which is its common name in Britain) but should not be confused with the citrus lime (Citrus aurantifolia), which bears the green lemon-like fruit that you might know from your favourite Mexican food or your Key Lime Pie. The two share nothing in common, neither botanically nor olfactory wise.

The principle constituent of linden blossom is farnesol. This may explain why it is not commonly used in mainstream perfumery. Farnesol is significantly cheaper as a synthetic than the linden blossom absolute (and obviously is often used to adulterate the true absolute...). Therefore, it is not surprising that linden blossom as a note is fairly rare overall. A few perfumes that incorporate linden blossom are mostly delicately green, fresh, light floral, for example:

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Goddess
Fresh’s Violet Moss (1997)
L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse au Papillons
Ormonde Jayne’s Frangipani Absolute (2003)
Parfums Delrae Début (2004)

Linden Blossom Soliflores:
Aftelier’s Linden Blossom (discontinued, but available through their website as special order through the Product Archives page)
D’ORsay Tilleul (1995)
Jo Malone’s French Lime Blossom (1995)

Natural Perfumes Containing Linden Blossom:
JoAnne Bassett’s Le Voyage (2000)
Aftelier’s Linden Blossom (see above)
Ayala Moriel’s Kinmokusei and the new perfume, Tirzah (see next post announcing its launch today!)

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Holt Renfrew Re-Opens with "Holtscents"

Good news for all Vancouverites: Holt Renfrew re-opened today at its new location on 737 Dunsmuir St. (Pacific Mall) with several new lines of niche perfumes which were never available in either Vancouver or Canada before.

This afternoon, I went to check out the new selection at the “Holtscents” corner, devoted to these new lines. It took me a while to find the place, as I am notorious for losing directions in the mall. You’ll find Holt Renfrew where the “bridge” between the south side and the north side of Pacifi Mall was (as pictured above), or you can get to the scents via street level on the north side of Dunsmuir street (pictured below).
After getting lost for a few minutes in the mall, and inside Holt Renfrew (I went all the way down to the lower level, where only “men’s scents” can be found alongside other manly luxuries, I finally got to the right place, which happens to be simply at street level, and located on the left side just a few steps away from the entrance (if I had the smarts to approach it from the outside word rather than the maze of the mall…).

Drazana, the lovely Sales Associate, greeted me with her pleasant and friendly presence. She guided me through the new lines – some of which I was already familiar with (such as Miller Harris), and some are in Canada and/or Vancouver for the first time. These include:

Ineke
Etat Libre d’Orange
Carthusia
Miller et Bertaux
Juliet Has A Gun
Frederic Malle Edition de Parfums

I received samples for most of the lines, for the scents that interested me, anyways, so I am going to keep my comments about the scents I’ve smelled today brief and informative:

I started with Etat Libre d’Orange, because I am least familiar with this line (I have never smelled it at all actually). While some of the scents are interesting, such as Jasmin et Cigarettes (think stale cigarette butts and deflowered jasmine blossoms) and Encens Bubblegum (it’s what you’ve just heard: incense and bubble gum) and Putain de Palaces (sweet leathery floral), the line left me with a very bad taste for the entire day as I kept getting phantom whiffs of blood gushing out of flesh cut by rusty metal. You know which scent I’m talking about. I smelled to much of it trying to overcome my initial olfactory shock, and the scent just stayed with me for the rest of the day. Clearly the perfumer tried to create shock, and succeeded. To me it smells like injury trauma.

Once I got some samples of these to fool around with if I have th guts to mess up with them again, I moved on to more aesthetically coherent lines such as Carthusia, which has a few very nice, clean yet interesting scents which I am going to love trying as the summer heat is becoming unbearable already (for me anyways, but I prefer to have room temperature anywhere I go…). Numero Uno and Io Capri captured my attention immediately and I will be wearing a lot of them soon…

Miller et Bertaux has the most lovely packaging I have seen in a while, think French meets Zen with their legged carton boxes and the branch tied to the top… Of their three fragrance, I think I like the first perfume the best, Parfum Trouve the best.

Juliet Has A Gun offers two fragrances, and they are both rose-themed. One comes in a black bottle (and is more spicy, I think I smelled saffron in there), and the one in the white bottle is lovely, with Turkish rose I believe, it’s sweet but not overly so and does not smell as artificial as many roses I’ve smelled lately.

I re-visited the Ineke line, paying a bit more attention to the two scents I am less familiar with. I think Chemical Bonding is a vibrant citrus and I like it quite a bit even though I am not known for being a huge citrus wearer. It’s sweet and with a powdery dry down, which makes it a bit different.

I also revisited Tangerine Vert and smelled Coeur d’Ete for the first time (I really liked it by the way, it has a banana note and is sweet and powdery in a very comfortable way).

And finally, I paid a visit to the Editions de Parfums boutique, where the large red “inhaling cells” are erected and being utilized about 30 times in the 10 minutes I spent in that area. You spray the perfume in the cell, wait for 10 seconds, and than you can smell how the scent will smell 20 minutes into the dry down. It’s an interesting concept, but I still think that nothing beats a skin test. As I was already familiar with the entire line (almost) I concentrated on smelling Un Rose, which I was not familiar with at all, and it almost won me over. If the day was not so hot I would have tried some on. Instead, I smelled it in the “red cell” and I took the card with me, which still smells magnificent, 8 hours in. I was hoping to get a whiff of French Lover, but apparently, it will not be launched here until September, and by than it will have a different name, as to not offend the North American men, who must feel terribly inferior to French lovers and wouldn’t buy a perfume bearing such name. Shame!

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Upcoming Workshops at Ayala Moriel Parfums

Starting June 2007, Ayala Moriel Parfums will be offering a series of workshop related to natural perfumery and fragrance appreciation. The series will take place once weekly, every Thursday evening between 5:30-8:00pm.

A detailed calendar will be published shortly, with the curriculum for each workshop. Each class is self-contained, and fees include materials. You will come out of each class with a wonderful smelling (or tasting!) product, that you made all by yourself!

Here are some details on our very first workshop – The Scented Chocolate Truffles Workshop!

When:
Thursday, June 7th
5:30-8:00pm

Where:
#314-1230 Haro Street (Buzz #295)

What:
In this fun and interactive workshop, you will learn how to make exquisite chocolate truffles and flavour them with fine floral essences. We will be making two flavours of truffles, and you will take them home with you!

How much: $15 per participant (materials included).

PLEASE RSVP (778) 863-0806 or ayala@ayalamoriel.com as space is extremely limited!

NOTE ABOUT UPCOMING PERFUME PARTIES:
We will also be holding a monthly perfume party, usually in the middle of the month, when you can come in to the studio, meet the perfumer and receive your personal free fragrance consultation. Chocolate truffles and beverages are compliment of the house, and we will sometimes have special guests and special program for the night too…

Our next party: Saturday, June 16th 7-10pm
We will celebrate the launch Ayala Moriel’s new soliflore perfume, Tirzah, which is a linden blossom single-note with fresh woody accents. Linden blossoms bloom in June and that's why Tirzah will be launched next month!

Hope to see you all here - Vancouverites as well as visitors!

:)

Ayala

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Scents to Take You from Spring into Summer


Spring List, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

For those who were wondering how come I’m wearing so many summery scents lately, the reason is simply the relatively hot spring we are experiencing in British Columbia. This is a nice compensation for a long, murky winter that seemed to never leave (until I came back from Israel, and apparently, brought the sun with me!)

It’s interesting to note, particularly when looking back and remembering how the summer almost seemed to refuse to make room for autumn, but turned into winter ever so quickly before autumn was quite finished its speech. It seems as if spring has turned into a British Columbian summer pretty much skipping the nasty cold bit when spring feels like winter yet you know it’s not winter yet. But I am not objective here. I might have just been away for a month when that happened (and yes, it did rain all the time when I was away in April, so there you go).

Here are my “editor picks” style entry for scents that can seamlessly take you from spring into summer. Some are equally fantastic on cool, crisp early spring days (providing a cheerful floral warmth) and others are so deliciously refreshing that they are simply too good to resist even on a steamy hot day. For me this hot spring means a lot of fun: picnics on the beach every evening, dancing, hedonistic dinner parties with close friends, and lots of perfumes to boost and make every occasion even more fun and memorable! And now that spring cleaning and painting is over it's time to have even more fun than before.

Here is where my heart is right now – most of these are what I wear now on a regular basis, and a couple are simply noteworthy even though they are new to me:

Newly discovered floral note:
Ylang Ylang.
I have been wearing my Coralle a lot lately, and really enjoying the juicy, mouthwatering aspects of this humble tropical flower. So creamy, so smooth, and just perfect. You’ll notice it appears in several of my favourites for this spring as well (i.e.: Chamade, Samsara, Tamya and Songes)

Classic spring floral:
Diorissimo
No additional comments necessary...

Most Innovative Hot Weather Gourmand:
Cognac by Aftelier
With notes of olives, cognac and citrus, this may sound more like a margharita than a perfume. However, it is not boozy at all, rather – fruity, green and with that exquisite oily feel of just-picked olives and freshly pressed virgin olive oil, sans the bitterness. This is so surprising you must try it to believe it!

My very own favourite spring & summer scent:
Tamya
In person she is my favourite girl ever (she must be hearing this a million times a day). As a fragrance this is my favourite floriental and a staple in my purse to-go kit. Tamya being equally non-demanding and romantic, floral, fruity yet skin-like I find it easy to wear in any situataion or season. But hot spring and summer days are definitely her favourites, where the yuzu lifts the spirits and the white florals dance glitteringly on the skin.

Favourite lilac fragrance:
After My Own Heart. This is soft, fresh, green, sweet, clean and very easy to wear and versatile.
And it was made by a very rare breed - a Canadian perfumer (now residing in San Francisco), which might partially explain why I have a soft spot for it and a lot of room in my heart...

Floral that impressed me but did not win me over:
Lys Méditerranée
With the scent of Madonna lilies and orange blossom, and a sweet vanillic base, this makes a lady-like spring floral that I’m surprised I haven’t discovered earlier. It’s not quite “me” but is very enjoyable.

The most exotic of them all florals:
Fairchild by Anya’s Garden.
If you are looking for something truly different that nobody smelled before, the steamy-hot, humid floral from Anya’s Garden, including notes of pandanus, champaca tincture, jasmine infusions, ambergris, toasted seashells and seaweed. This is the most genuinely tropical scent that I’ve ever smelled, made from fresh raw materials by a true olfactory artist.

Funnest Body Mist:
Lovely by Sarah Jessica Parker
This is light and subtle, slightly moisturizing and layers well with whatever else you feel like wearing this day. I loved it paired with Spring Flower! Lovely Liquid Satin is also nice to use as an overall moisturizing spray, but it can leave stains on clothing (or so the packaging says), and has a slightly different scent. I love both, personally.

Flirty Scent for a Night Out:
Spring Flower.
This is so cheerful it sets me in a fun mood and is an extra boost for hot dates and daytime fashion expeditions. It’s classy yet modern, effervescent and never too cloying.

Favourite White Floral:
Songes EDT by Annick Goutal.
The eau de toilette is light enough to wear in the heat and a great accompaniment when Latin dancing…

Year-round staple that reminds me of spring:
Narciso Rodriguez for her EDT

Modern Citrus:
Sugar EDP by Fresh.
I didn’t used to think that I love citrus fragrances all that much, until I made my very own Fetish (which has an overall feel of citrus candy)... Now that these notes (read: citrus) are so endangered, their magic (on their own and as a fragrance family) resurfaced for me. I am picking this one (Sugar) because the rich lemony notes in it are really to my liking. At first I thought I wouldn't like it and was a bit worried about the base (once the lemon party is over...). But it is not overly chemical like most of the Fresh fragrances, and the base is soft and reminiscent of cotton candy. Lemon is underrated!

Cheap and Fun:

CocoVanilla by Alyssa Ashley. This can be had for a mere $15 at the drugstore and is a simple yet fun vanilla and coconut scent (surprisingly). Last year it was sold as an alcohol free scent, and the texture was somewhat funky once it dried on your skin. This year it’s alcohol based, and for that price it came with a tube of body lotion. The original price was $25 and probably did not reflect how unpopular this scent is. I am not sure why but I am can’t complain about the price reduction.


Scent for the beach and poolside:
Monoi de Tahiti body mist from Yves Rocher. This is delicious, and wonderfully layers with Songes as well as CocoVanilla.

Re-discovered Summer Floriental:
Samsara EDT (I am almost ready for another bottle!)

Most Exciting Purchase this Spring:
Orchid and Boronia solid perfume duo from Aftelier. Orchid has become one of my favourite orange blossoms scents, and my most favourite natural perfume that was not made by me ☺

And to finish this lineup, it won’t be complete without a...

Classic Chypre:
Chamade, the galbanum-green floral chypre from Guerlain, with the tropical notes of Ylang Ylang the juiciness of cassis and the sweetness of vanilla.

Now it's your turn - What are your spring favourites that lead you gracefully into summer?

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Samsara

Without going too much into the meaning of the name, I would just hint that the sound of it is actually much more attractive than the actual meaning. Perhaps Guerlain overlooked some of the deeper meaning of the name while making their decisions, as Samsara being the “endless cycle of birth and re-birth” is exactly what, according to Budhism, we’re trying to redeem ourselves from to reach nirvana. I also heard at certain point that metaphorically, the concept of Samsara is likened to seven heaps of dung, being the different stages of life which we go through and symbolize our attachment to the physical worlds. But nevertheless, this is a beautiful perfume, and perhaps it reflects very well the beauty of the cycle of life, the beauty which probably makes us attached to it and have the illusion that we have reached nirvana even though we are very far from it…

Samsara has become a modern classic, and is perhaps one of the best creations of Jean-Paul Guerlain, in my opinion. Perhaps the one scent that he will be most significantly remembered for.

Perhaps the one thing that characterizes Samsara most of all is its homogenous scent, without being flat or one-dimensional. The theme of Sandalwood-Jasmine accord pervades throughout the composition, but at every stage it has a different nuance to it, which adds interest and depth. In that sense, Samsara is at once simple (a-la the modern linear scents), and complex (because, thanks god, it is NOT linear!). Samsara is circular, it’s an olfactory cycle, dynamicly flowing, yet always comes back to the same things, the three element that make it such a unique fragrance, a combination of sheer pleasure and an almost ecstatic religious experience: Woody notes (mostly sandalwood), White Florals (jasmine and ylang ylang), and culinary sweetness (vanilla and tonka bean). You really couldn’t have asked for anything better put together.

Sweet and fresh fruity top notes of peach and bergamot and the light, soft powdery allure of linalool (perhaps from rosewood?) engages you to explore the creamy, fruity-floral ylang ylang notes. That brings you to the heart of Samsara – a few different types of Indian jasmine (grandiflorum and sambac) and indolic yet subtle notes of narcissus dusted with the butteriness of Orris root in the classical tradition of Guerlain.

The base is dominated by a rich, vanilla-infused woody note of fine Mysore Sandalwood and is further rounded by the warmth of Atlas Cedarwood.

Buddha and Plastic Flowers, originally uploaded by Curious_Spider

The overall impression is sweet, woody, and subtly floral. It is an ideal for floriental fans, and is excellent for almost all seasons. I find the EDT nicer, where as the Parfum is a bit overly sweet, and for some reason smells rubbery, plasticy and more synthetic than the EDT (hence the above image, courtesy of C. David Wendig). The woody-powdery notes are more accentuated in the EDT which makes it particularly suitable for warm weather. I also like the EDP, which offers the best of both worlds – the extreme smoothness of the parfum, minus the plasticy feeling, and I believe can be enjoyed in warm weather as well. The body lotion, by the way, is heavenly, and has a sillage that requires no further enhancement (meaning: you can wear it on its own and won’t need any perfume added…). It has a different scent though, it’s far more sweet and the peach and cedar notes are more pronounced.

Top notes: Peach, Citrus, Ylang Ylang, Linalool (rosewood?)
Heart notes: Jasmine Sambac, Jasmine Grandiflorum, , Narcissus, Orris root

Base notes: Sandalwood, Tonka bean, Amber, Atlas Cedarwood, Vanilla

If you have become obsessed with Samsara, here are a couple of clips for you, including the trailer for Pan Nalin's film by this name:





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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Balmy Days and Sundays

The first thing that crossed my mind this morning as I thought of Balmy Days and Sundays was a walk in an herb garden in an early summer morning, picking spearmint leaves, all the while getting my barefeet all wet on the freshly-cut green grass. Only moments later, the kettle is whistling. As the first sun rays hit the concrete floor of my balcony, my feet start drying and warming up a bit, and so do my hands holding a cup of fresh spearmint tisane sweetened with honey.

It’s my day off, and once the grass dries a bit, I will lay on my back on the grass and let my closing eyes gaze at the warm of the sun. The grass is humming with secret activity: little ants carrying their loot to the nest, bees above hoarding the honeysuckle nectar, and an exhibitionist butterfly poses right in front of me showing off its graceful white wings.

Balmy Days and Sundays is a particularly charming green fragrance, as it combines the the effervescent sparkle of greens alongside a calm warmth. The minty notes offer this contrast on their own, but also the choice of sweet florals paired with grass (rather than the traditional and often cool and sharp jasmine and rose paired with galbanum and orris that are usually found in green compositions), adds to the experience of a summer garden: refreshingly luscious and sun-warmed, a sensual delight to both eyes, skin and nose...
Balmy Days and Sundays starts with a "B" and is the second installation in Ineke’s ABC’s (or a chapter in her olfactory book, if you will).
This is purely a scent for those who love gardening and everything about it, and having met Ineke in person, and learned that she does indeed love gardening, the first two perfumes in her collection make even more sense than ever: the lady likes everything fresh and

Balmy Days and Sundays opens with the sweet greenery of fresh-cut grass and sweet warmth of mint, moves to a heart that is a heady floral (I smell mostly freesia and lily of the valley, but the perfumer also lists honeysuckle, rose and mimosa). The base is somewhat powdery with musk and moss, and like After My Own Heart (and the rest of Ineke’s line), is subtle and clean, yet in a non-sterile manner (think the musk of Lovely). The top notes and the heart notes definitely steal the show here.

The fragrance notes, according to the perfumer’s website, include:

Top notes: Freesia, Leafy Greens, Grass
Heart notes: Honeysuckle, Rose, Mimosa

Base notes: Chypre Accent, Musk

I am not usually in the habit of using the “marketed” images of fragrances (which are too often imposed and pretentious) but in this particular case I think the images so accurately portray the scent, and are so non-pretentious, that I feel it is necessary to use them to give an accurate picture of the perfumer’s intentions, and the same goes for her own words to describe the scent – the little poems or stories that accompany the packaging – from the outer box (and website) to the actual bottles, which is printed with lovely delicate details, words and symbols. When the perfumer-creator is the one responsible for every stage of the process, you get results that are not only stunningly beautiful, but also genuine. And that makes all the difference to me, not to mention that in this case the perfumer is a perfectionist who has an utter sense of visual and conceptual aesthetics besides her olfactory sensibilities.

I may not see the same garden in my mind as Ineke's, but the olfactory impressions and visual and tactile connotations are crystal clear. The mood of a sunny garden is created here, and you just need to step into your own favourite when you smell it. I am very curious to read the next chapters in Ineke's book...

P.s. if you liked Herba Fresca, you are most like to enjoy this one. But also, if you liked some things about Herba Fresca, but found the grass notes there too harsh and the base too chemical, you might find that Balmy Days and Sundays is a more mellow impression of a summer garden (minus the intense citrus notes of Herba Fresca though).

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Ayala Moriel Reviewed by Savvy Thinker

Visit Savvy Thinker to read Karin's reviews of my perfumes, Finjan and Autumn. You can also read about her experience with the Fragrance Consultation process, and her review of Palas Atena.
Visiting Savvy Thinker, I was delighted to notice that Karin shares my love for jazz and the music of Aziza Mustafa Zadeh!

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Ananas Fizz

What Olivia Giacobetti has done for fig on several occasions (Philosykos, Premiere Figuier), Anne Flipo (Verte Violette, Mimosa pour Moi, Fleur de Narcisse) has done to pineapple in Ananas Fizz. Premier Figuier and Ananas Fizz share quite a bit in common: the milkiness of coconut and the dryness of cedar, and the fuzzy, green top notes and overall impression. While Premier Figuier has green notes added to the green fig, Anans Fizz is a bubbly citrus that is more like a tangy citrus soda than the ripe juicy fruity. The citrus notes chosen are not the sweetest either – bergamot, bitter orange, grapefruit and lemon. There is a hint of cinnamon-like warmth on first spritz, and this warmth fades in and out, as does the actual “pineapple” note, which is more of a tangy and green pineapple, acidic slices of the under-ripe fruit rather than the dripping sweetness of the juicy nectar that follows once the pineapple has turned yellow-orange from the outside. Ananas Fizz settles into sweeter notes of coconut and the soft powderiness of cedar and sheer clean and barely-there musk which make the base, as the pineapple weaves in and out, alternated by lots of fizz. Overall, I’d say there is more fizz than ananas in Ananas Fizz.

Ananas Fizz makes a great summer scent as its presence, though refreshing, is quite subtle and non-obtrusive. The tangy pineapple and citrus are refreshing - both literally and mentally, as this scent does offer something new to the realm of light, summery citrus eaux.

Ananas Fizz is the second or third perfume by perfumer Anne Flipo which I think smells very Olivia-Giacobettian. The two talented parfumeuses must have gone to school together, or as they say “Great minds think alike”. It’s often that I get confused between the style of both, and quite a few of their perfumes share some similarities in concept as well as they manner in which they are carried out.

Pineapple as a note in mass marketed fragrances is only achieved artificially, by a simulated aroma, usually by using primarily either one of two molecules pineapple heptadienone, which is greener or the overripe type pineapple hydroxyhexanoate. Being an entirely simulated aroma, pineapple fragrances often smell utterly artificial, and presenting more of a symbol of the aroma rather than the true aroma of the fruit itself. Referring to other pineapple scents in the history of perfume, pineapple appeared first very sporadically in fruity chypres (i.e.: Revlon’s Intimate from 1955 which included pineapple as well as papaya and green tea – all notes that were very unusual at the time). However, pineapple didn’t make a real entry into the world of perfume until the very late 70’s (Charles of the Ritz – a floriental; and Lauren – a fruity-floral) and truly in the early 80’s where it was used in several perfumes. But it was not until the age of watery-marines and fruity-florals of the 90’s that simulated pineapple notes started being used more frequently. Pineapple seems to be used either in its more tart and “gree”, acidic character (i.e.: in scents such as Cool Water and Aaqua di Giò for women). In the later 90’s, when the fruity florals started to emerge, the tartness of pineapple added an extra oomph to otherwise very sweet concoctions such as Baby Doll (and similarly in Anna Sui’s Secret Wish from 2005). Later on, it’s the overripe sweetness of pineapple that we find in more and more pineapple-tinged scents during the early milenia (which were probably preceded by the sweetness of Sophia Grojsman’s Sun, Moon, Stars for Karl Lagerfeld) such as Vanilla Pineapple (Comptoir Sud Pacifique), Live (J Lo), and the like.

P.s. According to the Journal of Food and Science, the molecules that make up the aroma of pineapple areacetoxyacetone, dimethyl malonate, trans-tetrahydro-α,α,trimethyl-5-vinyl fur-furyl alcohol, methyl cis-(4?)-octenoate, γ-butyrolactone, methyl β-hydroxybutyrate, methyl and ethyl β-hydroxyhexanoate, methyl and ethyl β-acetoxyhexanoate, γ-octalactone, and δ-octalactone.

Image: Taken by moi near the Juicery of Sheinkin street in Tel Aviv. You can see in the picture a pineapple, wheatgrass and a little miniature orange tree in the background. All were on a top of a beetle car!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bois Farine


At The Miller's, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Another post for wheat, in celebration of the wheat harvest holiday!

In the magical book Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle by Simone Schwarz-Bart (sadly it was not translated to English to the best of my knowlege) Télumée mentioned in her sotry innumerable times the Breadfruit Tree, which was boiled in water or roasted on fire, and used as a staple in most meals by the natives of the French Caribbean islands.

When I heard of Bois Farine, I could not help but think of that tree, which I have never seen, smelled or touched, but just read about in a book. This is clearly not the same tree at all. But my associations are stubborn and I keep thinking of Télumée and her long, eventful life, full of little moments of happiness and plentiful of long periods of pain, sadness and loss, and her strength in living through them till her last day, embracing all the ups and downs of life. I first read the book as a teen, and ever since than I feel a lot more at peace with the idea of aging, death and the downs of life... Definitely a book to come back to every once in a while.

Jean Claude Ellena’s creation of Bois Farine for l’Artisan Parfumeur is said to be inspired by the flower of the “Flour Tree”, Ruizia Cordata, that is genuine to the Réunion islands. The tree bears red flowers with a distinct floury, starchy aroma. The perfume almost lives up to this premise, commencing with an accord of fennel and white starchy wheat flour going up your nostrils and you knead that dough or visit the local miller to pick up freshly ground flour. It also has an aftertaste of crushed raw peanuts at first – oily and subtly earthy, barely detectable aroma. However, it quickly turns into an iris perfume, slightly floral and sweet with notes of cedar and musk and slightly vanillic underpinnings, not unlike Hiris, which reminded me of certain semolina patties, and not unlike Bvlgari au The Blanc with its underlining heliotrope and white musk sweetness (also by Jean Claude Ellena).

Notes: Fennel, Flour (Farine) Tree Flower, Cedar, Guiacwood, Iris, Sandalwood, Benzoin.

Available online via:
The Perfume Shoppe
Aedes
LuckyScent

To read other reviews and different opinions of this perfume, visit these blogs:
Now Smell This
Bois de Jasmin

Image of the Flour Tree via Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Shavuot!


Shavuot 2006 - 1.6.06, originally uploaded by ISH-10-M.

Happy Shavuot - the Wheat Harvest Holiday!
I am celebrating with the customary dairy dishes, good cheese and wine.
Below is a recipe for my favourite dish for the holiday, Blintzes.

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Blintzes!


Blintzes are these fantastic little thinner-than-crepe pancakes, filled with good stuff (sweet or savoury) and rolled up. They can be served warm, cold or at room temperature - depending on the filling. Blintzes filled with a sweet cheese filling have become a traditional holiday food in Israel for Shavuot. For the cold ones, you'll need to use a specialty cheese that cannot be found in (most of) North America (I am pretty sure you will be able to find "Gevinah Levanah in Brooklin LOL!). So I am going to offer here only the recipe for the baked cheese blintzes, which my dearest grandmother Ruth gave me. They are absolutely divine!

For the Blintzes:
3 eggs
1 cup milk
2 Tbs. vegetable oil of your choice (preferably non-GMO, such as organic grapeseed oil)
3/4 cup unbleached wheat flour
salt to taste (no more than 1/2 tsp.)
Butter for greasing the pan
Mix together all the ingredients in the above order
Pour 2 Tbs. at a time on a hot girdle or pan (greased with melted butter)
Smooth and spread around (like you do with crepes) to form a round, pretty form
Fry only on one side, and once finished, set aside on a plate, stacked with their fried side up, until ready to fill them all.

For the filling:
2 cups soft, unripened cheese (such as ricotta or quark cheese, or cottage cheese; if you like this to be more creamy and smooth and less crumbly, you can substitute some cream cheese or sour cream for part of the cheese - but no more than 1/2 cup, otherwise it may be too runny!)
1 egg yolk
2 Tbs. sugar
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Grated lemon peel of 1 lemon
Raisins (optional)
* Additional sugar and cinnamon for sprinkling on the top (Optional)

Preheat the oven to 180 celsius.
Fill the Blintzes with one Tbs. of the filling, roll and close from both ends. Layer on a butter-greased pan, and sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon and sugar (if desired).
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden and the sugar has melted.

Serve warm (not hot!) or at room temperature. These are perfect on their own, but will happily lend themselves to a garnish of strawberry or other fruit or even Creme Fraiche or ice cream on the side. But these will be completely unnecessary because these Blintzes truly are perfect the way they are!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Perfume Advice

The following information was posted on the Fragrance Consultantation page on Ayala Moriel Parfums website. I am posting them below as well for future reference. Hope you find it useful!

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Fragrance Sampling Tips

The following tips will help you experience the scent to its fullest, and be able to decide which scent you like the most.

1. To avoid olfactory fatigue: Smell only up to 5 scents at a time. You may want to inhale fresh coffee beans between sampling the fragrances, to refresh your olfactory sensitivity.

2. Smell the perfumes from the vial or the cap first, to get your first impression. Keep in mind that the initial impression will fade quickly as the perfume interacts with your skin.

3. Using scent stripes or cards: you can apply a drop or spritz of perfume on a scent stripe (a stripe of watercolour paper or other absorbent paper can be an excellent substitute), and note the different dry out stages, and compare the different scents. However, this will not tell you how the perfume will smell on your skin, just how it smells on paper.

4. Apply a small amount of the desired perfume on the pulse points of your clean, unscented wrist (not previously scented!). Let the scent develop on your skin for several hours. This way you will experience the dry out phase, and learn how the perfume interacts with your own personal body chemistry and affects you mood. You want to "live with the perfume" for a day or more before making any decisions.

5. It is recommended that you wear only one perfume at a time on both wrists. This way you will experience the fragrance better.

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Storing Perfumes and Fragrances

Perfumes are precious and volatile liquids. They should be kept under certain conditions in order to keep the scent lovely and fresh.

1. To open your perfume for the first time, gently twist the stopper counter-clockwise and pul it upwards.

2. When traveling, or if you like to carry your flacon with you in your purse, be sure to close ths topper properly, by applying pressure downwards when closing the stopper, and than twisting slightly clockwise. Doing so will ensure that the flacon is properly sealed, and that no perfume will spill out or evaporate.

4. We also recommend you store your perfume either in its original box when traveling, or inside a little cushioned pouch.

5. At home, your perfume should be stored in a dark, cool and dry area - away from heat, light and moisture. The ideal place would be inside a drawer or a closet.
The worst places in the house to store your perfumes would be the bathroom (steam and heat) and the kitchen (heat, steam and light). If your room is relatively dark, and you use up your fragrance ratehr fast, you may be able to get away with displaying the flacon on your dresser...

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Fragrance Safety Tips


Following these simple golden rules will ensure you are using perfumes safely and appropriately.

a. Avoid contact with eyes.

b. Keep out of the reach of children and pets.

c. Do not swallow or take perfume internally!

d. Wear perfume by applying the fragrance onto pulse points behind ears and on wrists. If any sign of irritation occurs, stop use immediately.

e. Avoid wearing on areas that are exposed to the sun. Most of the citrus essetial oils present in almost all perfumes can become phototoxic (cause a rash or burning when the skin covered with this oil is exposed to the sun).

f. Keep samples away from heat and sunlight.

g. If you develop any allergic reactions, stop using the product

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Tulum's Massage Candle in Lemon

The simplest ingredients make this unique 3 in 1 candle: Soya wax, soya oil, olive oil and shea butter, and it is scented with essential oils.
Secrets of Tulum is a Vancouver based body-care company (they make shampoos, conditioners and several skin care products, all said to be inspired by Aztec body care traditions). Their Himlight Wax Factory division creates this line of aromatherapy massage candles: light them, and the room fills up with a subtle, simple scent (in this case lemon - but they also have other fragrance). Wait for 30 mintues, and the pool of melted edible wax is ready to dip a finger and massage on your body.
Now, I am not so keen on massaging my body with melted wax (and the term "body wax" is a bit out of whack in this context: for most people it is associated with the rather painful waxing ritual, but I can let this slide). The thing is, that once the wax settles on your massaged skin, it creates that, well, waxy film. Not my favourite. I think I will stick with the 2 in 1 concept of a candle that diffuses a warm light and a subtle scent. Perhaps I expect too little of life, but I feel perfectly happy with that! And for less than $9 CAD at my local health food store (Choices) this is a perfect price for a candle, so I can buy multiples of these and get every room in the house refreshingly scented from time to time (without getting any wax spills or smoky aftermath once the candle is put off, that is, because these come in their own frosted glass cup and with a lid).

The lemon candles smell utterly natural and fresh, like lemon verbena, which is a personal favourite of mine. I believe it is made of Litsea Cubeba for the most part - the berries of a tropical tree which have a longer lasting lemon aroma (a heart note, while lemon essential oil is a top note). There are other scents, which are mostly simple yet utterly enjoyable. If you love lemon verbena, this would be an excellent natural choice. And let me tell you, it is even more difficult to find a well made naturally scented candle than it is to find well made natural perfume.

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Spring in Heaven


Spring in Heaven2- 2006, originally uploaded by Bodidly.

Save Mount Hermon!
This is non-perfume related, but nature related. Particularly if you know what this special mountain means: the only snowing mountain in Israel (other parts of the mountain are in Lebanon and Syria), which makes the habitat for unique Alpine species in this region. As usual, the greed of large corporations (in this case - the company which owns the ski resort on the mountain) threaten the protection of the wildlife there by illegal building and development, and also attempts to take away the public's right to enjoy nature unless they pay that company, of course...
If you care about this mountain, live in Israel and/or speak Hebrew, please sign this petition (initiated by the Society of Nature Protection.

Perfume related posts are upcoming shortly. I feel that protecting the nature is super important, especially because nature is both inspiring and fundamental in my perfume creating process...

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The Distrubing Truth about Truffle Oils


"I can't taste the potion!", originally uploaded by oatmeal2000.

Well, you might be able to taste that potion, but it's not the real thing: Apparently, the truffle oils in the market have very little to do with truffles. They are made of olive oil "infused" with 2,4-dithiapentane, according to Daniel Patterson's article in the New York Times.

If you find this puzzling and unsettling, you are not alone. Truffle oil was mentioned many times in Daniel Patterson's and Mandy Aftel's book Aroma (about using essential oils in the kitchen, which included recipes for both food and perfumes). I am sure it took a lot of guts as well as a good healthy dose of honesty, modesty and integrity for Patterson to publish this article. After all, he wrote the above mentioned book, with a whole chapter dedicated to recipes using truffle oils (p. 134-139).

I felt very awkward about this discovery. I have just published here a couple of recipes of my own using truffle oils. I am going to need to "take them back" in the sense that I cannot stand behind this material as a natural one (unless you choose to infuse the truffles yourself, which is what I am planning on doing from now on for my personal use).

This got to show us how deep the aroma chemical industry has penetrated our culture. We can't even know for sure if what we use in our food is natural or not?!

The truffle oil I got was not particularly cheap either, at $16.95 per a 1.8oz (55ml) bottle. There is a slight difference in the labeling between the white and the black ones though:

Black Truffle Oil is called "Fine Olive Oil with Black Winter Truffle Essences" and the ingredients lists "Olive oil, black winter truffles aroma (Tuber Melanosporum vitt)."

The White Truffle Oil is labeled similarly as "Fine Olive Oil with White Truffle Oil" yet the ingredients do not specify the Latin name of the species. It reads "Olive oil, white truffless aroma".

Above the ingredient list for each of the bottles, they say "Olive Oil Infused with Black/White Truffles", which to me would imply that the truffles were steeped in the oil to infuse it with their aroma... According to Patterson, this is a lie and a true truffle oil is not available. It is simply olive oil "infused" with man-made aromachemicals.
Both oils that I have were made in Italy, and the brand is URBANI TARTUFI.

We are getting deeper into issues of truth in labeling, and the ability of consumers to make a truly informed decisions about what they spend their money on, what they put into their food, and what enters their bodies. In a time where perfume manufacturers are required to list all suspected allergens on the packaging, it is more than alarming that the same standards would not go the other way - making clear labeling when the flavour materials are in fact completely synthetic!

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

First Perfume Party / Open House

The pictures from the open house turned out extremely blurry, so I am putting up a little collage of thumbnails for those of you who weren't able to make it ;)
It was plenty of fragrant and social fun, in an intimate setting. We enjoyed together perfume, Okanagan wines and orange blossom truffles. For our "under-age" guests we served a gourmet virgin-cocktail of white cranberry-grape juice flavoured with orange flower water, and vanilla-rooibos tea.

We did a few collecting sniffing rounds - first of rose perfumes (Rosebud, Cabaret, Fete d'Hiver...), and than a round of masculine fragrances, which the ladies found they love tremendously! Lastly, all the guests got to try the latest creations for the soliflore collection - my new ylang ylang soliflore, Coralle, and Tirzah - a linden blossom soliflore which will come out in June. But also - those who attended got a sniff of preview of perfumes that won't be coming out until the fall! I can't tell you too much about them, except that they are going to be utterly delicious.

Each guest got a fragrance consultation and a personalized sample set, and got to try on different scents as well as pieces from the collectible perfumed jewelry (gem-stoned poison rings and solid perfume lockets).

This open house is the first of many monthly events such as this. The next one will be on Saturday, June 16th to celebrate the launch of Tirzah, and will also have lots of other surprises (TBA). If you are in Vancouver you shouldn't miss it!

Picture above (from left to right, top to bottom): Vinni, Sandra and Ayala sniffing along (some of us even compared sniffing armpits instead of coffee... it looks funny but it works LOL); Colleen (who helped me to pull this together not just by myself - thank you!), and Christen with the roses.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

Something meaningful, no words

No time to post anything meaningful yesterday or today, as I am getting ready for the open house tonight. But I did find this:



Yetserday night I finally got called from HMV telling me to stop waiting: the CD's of my favourite singer, Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, which I ordered about a year ago, are discontinued and are never going to make it from Germany to Vancouver. If you know where I can find them, please let me know.

Until than, I will be frequenting YouTube I guess. The next one is sang in Azerbaijani I believe.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Little Prince Hits a Brick Wall


the little prince brick wall, originally uploaded by Mr.Tooley.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince was never really a children’s book. Just because it is about a child does not make it for children. Regardless if the book is accompanied by colourful illustrations. I am sure my parents were not the only ones puzzled by the peculiar gap between their astonishment from the book and the complete non-comprehensive gazing they received from me and the too many questions for a bed time story as a response to this book.

And so, when a disnified collection of perfumes for children inspired by Le Petit Prince came out, accompanied by stuffed animals (sheep, of course), action figures, colouring books and other cutesy paraphernalia (this is clearly TOO MUCH!) appeared on the olfactory horizon, I was equally eager and terrified to try the line.

Eager? Well, one must admit, the packaging for Le Petit Prince Eau de Toilette is stunning. It is simple and true to the original illustrations in the book. One would expect a magical, yet somewhat cerebral concoction of baobab trees, star dust and desert winds and perhaps also a bit of motor oil. However, the perfumer for Le Petit Prince decided to go for the safest unisex cliché of a citrus perfume that gives no particular statement except for being an agreeable, pleasant smell that can please almost anyone. The chosen notes are mainly lemony, and for the most part this alcohol-free concoction smells like sugar-free lemonade. Very pleasant, but it gives nothing new to the imagination and being associated with a book of such importance, this is pure sacrilege. Let’s just be reminded that another book by the same author served as the inspiration to one of the greatest perfumes of all times, Vol de Nuit. This thought alone makes me shudder.

Le Petit Prince Eau de Toilette is alcohol free*. It is also free of any imaginative thought or creativity (except for that which went into the exquisite packaging). The official notes include citrus, tarragon, lemon verbena, cedarwood and oak. I smell mostly lemon and lemon verbena, which I love. But I can also find these without getting my plane grounded in the desert and insulting the olfactory intelligence of children (who, I am most certain, will be quite open to try some new notes that they are less familiar with).

Interested to learn more about the literary phenomenon? Visit the official site of the Le Petit Prince fragrance line. Visit there and you'll see what I mean about commercialism. However, if this what's going to get children to read the book (and perhaps understand it), than so be it. The only problem is that whatever understanding they might reach would be tainted with commercialism. But who cares? We live in the 21st Century now, and commercialism is all that matters.

* This is usually achieved by mixing the essences with hydrogenated castor oil first, and than mixing this with water; this particular castor oil is water coluble)

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Cheap & Chic


tagged, originally uploaded by hinke.

No, this is not about the perfume by Moschino (though this will come too). This is a new "column" (or listing) so to speak, dedicatedfor perfumes that are relatively affordable, yet have high quality or unique style that make them unique (in my opinion, anyways), including the links to their review here on SmellyBlog.

If you know of a fragrance that is unique yet dirt cheap, please contact me and tell me what you like about it. Only fragrances that can be found cheap also in a brick & mortar store would be included (not those which are only discounted online). You get my drift...The following are just a few favourites of mine:

4711

CocoVanilla (Alyssa Ashley)

Ode a l'Amour (Yves Rocher)

Monoi de Tahiti Body Spray or Body Oil (Yves Rocher)

Tabu

Musk Vanilla (Coty)

White Musk (The Body Shop)

Youth Dew Bath Oil

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The Smelly Connection to Elle

Elle online readers now selected SmellyBlog and articles by other Coutorture Network partners on the fashion homepage of Elle.com.

The links are located at the very bottom left corner.

My favourite Spirulina soap with honey, milk and cinnamon is a featured article de jour. So were my articles What To Wear on a Break Up and my most recent review of Narciso Rodriguez. There may have been more, but I can't remember!

My favourite soap article was also chosen as Coutorture's Must Read for today.

Thank you so much to Julie, Phil and Sarah from Coutorture Network for giving SmellyBlog this opportunity to be the centre of the stage sometimes, and for your excellent networking!

P.s. I have created a new category, so you can read all the SmellyBlog articles features on Elle, all at once.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day Promotion Still On!

Mother's Day is over, but Ayala Moriel's Mother's Day special is still here!
Buy one flacon and get the second for 1/2 the price through out May 31st.

How to get this special discount?
You have two options:

1) Email me with your order detail, and put the word "MAMA" in the subject line. I will than send you a PayPal payment request for the proper amount.

2) If you prefer to place your order online via our website, please email me with the word "MAMA" in the subject line, and I will refund your account immediately.

* The special is applicable for parfum extrait flacons only, and is valid until May 31st, 2007.

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Soap de Jour: Spirulina's Milk, Honey & Cinnamon

On my last day in Tel Aviv, I found this astonishing Milk, Honey & Cinnamon Soap by Spirulina in the infamous health food store in Tel Aviv "Nitzat Ha Duvdevan" (Cherry Blossom) on Iben Gevirol 58, Tel. +972-3-6965174 (very close to Rabin's Square, for those who are unfamiliar with the city).

What first caught my nose's attention was a glycerin and honey soap from the same brand. After many whiffs and procrastination, both me and my brother Noam who was with me for the adventure*, we decided that this by far had the best scent of all the line. Plus it looked unusual with its pink hue and marbled effect of the cinnamon (and vanilla?) specks.

What can I tell you, this soap truly makes me look forward to my daily scrub even more than usual. Unlike most bar soaps, it does not dry my skin AT ALL. It has the most creamy texture on the skin, lather magnificently, and smells amazing: like warm milke with honey, vanilla and cinnamon. And to top it all off, it is all natural, with no synthetic dyes or fragrance. The ingredient list is as follows:
Vegetbale Oils, Olive Oil, Cinnamon Essential Oil, Milk, Honey, Vanilla and Cinnamon essences.
The ground cinnamon gives an extra exfoliating benefit and leaves the skin soft and smelly... Yum!

Spirulina does not have a website, but they have two telephone numbers, so perhaps if you don't live in Israel, you can bug them and beg them to send you some and start selling them online...
+972-4-953-4842
Moblie: +972-50-540-4034

*We stepped in the abovementioned health food store in order to stock up on dried fruit & nut power bars, because I promised myself to not eat any airplane food that flight! Lufthanza has just the worst food I've tried in airplanes yet and I was not prepared to suffer the culinary and digestive torture eating this food again would mean). I felt significantly better living on these power bars and Granny's sandwiches on the way back. It was worth it!

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother Nature


Happy Mother's Day!
Mothers, fathers, daughters and sons - we were all given life by a mother at one point or antoher, and perhaps because this is so obvious we often forget what they did for us... Whether they nurtured us later on, abandoned us, or messed up our life forever with her own interpretation of too much unconditional love is irrelevant. The fact is, she gave us life, and for that we must be eternally grateful.

Today I'd like to remember Mother Nature of all mothers. The mother that gives us a home, food, and a life full of turmoil in the form of earth quakes, floods… you name it. This is all part of life. And life should be respected for what it is, the good and the bad.

I spent my day in Stanley Park yesterday with my daughter, and observed the myriads of trees that got slaughtered by the winds this winter. It is a very sad sight in a rainforest that is always so lush, abundant with greenery and trees growing upon trees. I tried to remember that time and Mother Nature will heal it all. In a pace much slower and subtle than ours, the fallen trees will be covered with moss, and seeds of new trees will sprout and create a new forest upon the dead one.


From the wounds of the dying trees, sappy tears ooze slowly, as a reminder that death is part of life. And like life it has a beauty of its own, as strange as it may sound. The resin and balsams of damaged trees and plant provide quite a few building blocks that I can’t imagine not having on my palette…

Allow me to conclude with remembering once again all the gifts that we are given on a daily basis. The most important things are the things that seem most obvious to us. We take them as granted, because they ARE granted to us. But if we don’t take care of our own Mother Nature, she will not be able to grant us what we need for life on this earth.

We all know how to take care of her. We just don’t do good enough job. And let’s hope that we will not wait until she’s in the hospital dying to tell her how much we love her.

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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Sugar by Fresh


How to Interview a Cupcake!, originally uploaded by cupcakequeen.

While the name suggests sweetness, the flavour of this perfume is more tart than sugary. First we sip Lemon Drop martini garnished with lemon zest; Of course there is the sugar-rimmed goblet, to sweeten the sour lemonade. And underneath it all lies the sugar that have sunk to the bottom of the drink, which first appears in the form of a buttery lemon cupcakes with campy bright colour icing and an occasional bite of candied lemon peel. Caramel notes do not appear until later on, fluffy and fuzzy like cotton candy cushioned with the milky warmth of musk. As you can see, the sweetness here is not overly done and is balanced with plenty of lemony components.

The main component here are lemony citrus notes, primarily the familiar lemon peel, but also the intensely sweet, green, floral and lemony litsea cubeba – a berry from the May Chang tree, which is a middle note (rather than a top note like most citrus oils are). There is some floralcy at the heart, which is there more to create balance than impose a floral bouquet.

Of all the Fresh line, Sugar Eau de Parfum is by far my favourite*. Citrus fragrances are not my type generally speaking. I much prefer the complexity of other fragrance families. However, when I first smelled Sugar I was in awe as to how similar it was to my own (and personal favourite) citrus fragrance, Fetish. The two are different, of course, but share the combination of sweet and tart, fleeting freshness based in a solid sensual gourmand which incorporates vanilla and florals (jasmine, vanilla and fir absolute in Fetish), and both have the thread of the litsea cubeba note, lemony, tart, green, sweet and floral all at once.

Sugar is original for presenting a sweet theme in a sour environment, or rather – creating a citrus fragrance that is not “clean” or “soapy” or just “fresh” – but rather, a delicious, mouthwatering, sensual lemon scent.

Sugar can be found at Beauty Mark in Vancouver (where they sell the separately the leftover 30ml bottles from the Christmas gift packages for $35 CAD), and online via La Te Da Beauty Bar, which lists the notes for this fragrance as follows:


Top notes: Lemon, Bergamot, Brazillian Sweet Orange
Heart notes: Petitgrain, Heliotrope, White Lily
Base notes: Vanilla, Caramel, Musk, Marjoram


- I can’t smell any orange or petitgrain or marjoram in here (definitely not as a base note), but I thought I’d share this pyramid with you for your amusement. To me, Sugar is comprised mostly of lemon, litsea cubeba, vanilla, caramel and musk.

There may be a tad of herbal note there (perhaps there is some marjoram, but I sense none of the petitgrain green-astringent qualities there) but it couldn’t possibly be at the base, I just don’t smell it there (and it isn’t a base note usually). I can’t detect specifically a white lily note either, though there is a certain floralcy at the heart as I mentioned earlier, just enough to make it a perfume rather than a cleaning product. As for the heliotrope – if it’s there at all, it is very subtle, and surely contributes to the fluffy feeling of the base. The lemony notes must mute down the heliotrope tremendously, or else it must be present in very small quantities.

* The majority of the line I find to smell overtly synthetic, in a way that disturbs my pleasure from the unusual pairing of delicious aromas and fruits (the synthetics in this line often make me sneeze; in Sugar I found this effect to a far lesser degree, and no sneezing occurred; the other “Sugar” variants – i.e. Sugar Blossom, Lemon Sugar – have more of the fuzzy synthetics which prevent me to enjoy them completely).

**Image of Sugar EDP bottles is from Beauty Mark's website.

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4711 Brand Changing Hands, Again


Eau de Cologne, originally uploaded by nimo_pixel.

Since I've just reviewed 4711, I figured you might be interested in this piece of information, which came to me by a link from sillage, the vigilant "informant" in the Perfume of Life forum.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Contests Winners and Announcements

First of all, I have to apologize for taking so long to announce the winners of SmellyBlog's recent contests. One of the contests is still open (more in a minute), and some already have winners!

Following up on the Annick Goutal trivia question, Theresa is the winner of a cute little purse spray of Annick Goutal's Songes EDT (I will perform the illegal act of decanting it myself). Congratulations, Theresa! Your prize will be on its way tomorrow.

Theresa is right: Elizabeth Taylor was sued by Annick Goutal for the use of the name Passion and now her perfume is called Elizabeth Taylor's Passion. As much as I love Songes and the brand of Annick Goutal, they seem to be into suing for name rights for perfumes (I am sure many of you remember the battle over Extrait le Songes by l'Artisan). I am surprised Annick Goutal brand was never sued for using names such as "Vetiver" or "Neroli", so often used by other brands...

I am still waiting for more SmellyBlog logo votes to come in before I announce the winner of an Opium Fleur Imperiale bottle (100ml) - the limited edition from last year. There are more than 200 people visiting SmellyBlog daily, so it's impossible to think that only 10 people will vote here. Surely more of you have your own opinions. So please, will you share them with us, please? The contest details are here, and you can either vote for:
logo no. 1
logo no. 2
or logo no. 3

Please leave a comment on the post showing the logo you like. The draw will take place May 31st, and the winner will be announced than. I am going to add more prizes (drumroll...):
1) Opium Fleur Imperiale (100ml)
2) Complete collection of my Vetiver Mods which were discussed quite elaborately on this blog
3) Sample set of 4 of the newest perfumes from my collection - Coralle, Tirzah, and two others that will remain secret for now except for the lucky winner...

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4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser


4-711, originally uploaded by cool_colonia4711.

As mentioned earlier, the earliest alcohol based perfumes were the Aqua Mirabillis – the miracle water taken both internally and externally. The most famous of them all, even if not necessarily the best, is 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser.

The story
about how this perfume formula came to Muelhens’ (the founder of 4711) hands has become a cliché: in 1792, a Carthusian monk gave this formula of Aqua Mirabillis to Muelhen and his bride as a wedding gift, asking only that they will treat it with the regard it deserved. Muelhens did not underestimate its value, and founded a company to manufacture this formula, in the city of Koln (Cologne) in Germany. In 1796, when the city was occupied by the French, all the houses on the streets were numbered, and the house of Muelhens’ factory was numbered 4711. In 1875 this number was trademarked as the company’s name.

It is hard to say what is it that made the perfume so successful: whether if it clever marketing or a true genious of the fragrance itself, or, alternatively, a karmic blessing from the monk who created it. But all we know is that 4711 has become a staple in almost any household. My grandmother (born in Berlin, 1924) recalls her both her grandmother and mother using it. I also never heard her complain that the fragrance have changed. So perhaps there wasn’t any significant change in the formula, although I won’t be surprised if some synthetic fixatives have made it in. I wouldn’t drink it now, that’s for sure…


eau de cologne automat, originally uploaded by deedeee.

As for the scent itself – nowadays it seems neither particularly interesting nor original. It’s a simple, refreshing citrus cologne centered around neroli and petitgrain, which are the key notes here. It is cool and refreshing, with a hint of honeyed sweetness from the nerli, further accentuated by the sweetness of orange and bergamot top notes. Yet, it also has a distinctive astringent, dry and almost minty quality from the petitigrain and the herbal notes of rosemary and lavender. The base is mostly sandalwood and musk, which explains why I never took on to liking 4711 personally. Sandalwood smells terrible on my skin, particularly when paired with neroli. If your skin doesn’t suffer this bias, this would be probably the most valuable staple for hot summer months, as it is sold for very decent price and can be easily found almost in any drugstore, and in Germany you an even find these in an automatic vending machines! You can even still get the Eau de Cologne in those huge original vast of 800ml, where it definitely looks more like a drink than a toiletry. Salut!


07B_5506, originally uploaded by skintype.

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DIY Eau de Cologne Formula


Antiseptic, originally uploaded by eurutuf.

This is an "Aqua Mirabillis" type formula, very similar in fragrance to the classic Eau de Cologne. In case all the bad predicaments prove true, and there will be no citrus to be found in commercial perfumes, this might work as a DIY substitute for 4711.

Classical Eau de Cologne

Base notes:
20 drops Benzoin
4 drops sandalwood

Heart notes:
10 drops Neroli
6 drops Litsea Cubeba

Top notes:
2 drops Rosemary
4 drops Lavender
4 drops Petitgrain Bigarade
20 drops Bergamot
10 drops Lemon
8 drops Grapefruit

Measure the oils drop by drop into a glass bottle filled with 50ml 200 proof grain alcohol (at least 94% alcohol in volume) or denatured alcohol (perfumer's alcohol). Let it mature for 30 days and than apply as desired.

Warning: Do not copy what the man in the photo is doing! This is really NOT meant for drinking...


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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Bitter Orange or Bergamot - The Giving Tree Award Goes To Whom?

Common knowledge is not always correct, and the main reason this happens with perfumery’s building block is simple: the widespread use of synonyms and various traditional names for particular oils rather than using the more accurate and reliable Latin name of the species of origin.

It is therefore not so surprising that bit by bit, many perfume aficionado as well as amateur DIY perfumers were lead to believe that it is the bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) tree that provides the perfumer with the generous palette of oils of bergamot, petitgrain, neroli and orange flower absolute.

This is, however, very wrong! The Giving Tree Medal should be awarded to the Bitter Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium var. amara). Ther names for the bitter orange tree are Seville orange, sour orange and bigarade orange.

This citrus subspecies is very resilient of disease and therefore is used for grafting other citrus subspecies (i.e. sweet oranges). It bears very sour and bitter fruit that is inedible for the most part (except for use in marmalades, because of its high pectin content).
Despite its very limited culinary use, bitter orange is held in high regards from an olfactory point of view, supplying the perfumer’s organ with a few priceless essences:

1) The unusually floral, sparkling bitter orange oil from the fruit’s peel, which has a dry, bitter aroma with sweet undertones. It has excellent uplifting qualities and blends beautifully with forals, showcasing their beauty like no other citrus does. This oil is expressed from the peel (though in some countries, after the expression the peel will be submitted to further extraction by steam distillation, which provides a very poor oil, often mixed with the expressed bitter orange oil to adulterate it).

2) The middle note of petitgrain bigarade, steam distilled from the leaves and twigs of the tree after they are pruned. This is a fresh, dry, aromatic, astringent green-leafy yet citrus note, most prized for its astringent presence in colognes and aftershaves. Other petitgrain essential oils are available in far lesser quantities, such as: petitgrain lemon, petitgrain combarva (from the kaffir lime tree) and petitgrain cedrat. The majority of petitgrain oils available though are from the bitter orange tree.

3) Orange flower absolute – produced by solvent extraction from the same flowers of bitter orange. This produces an essence that is a base to middle note, and is very deep, rich, honeyed quality. It shares some similarities to the more indolic jasmine absolute, yet with a very distinct citrus tartness. A complex building block that is valued for its balance between sweet and tart, floral and fresh. It is used in colognes and many men’s fragrances to add a warm yet fresh body to the fragrance. It is also used in many floral bouquets and oriental compositions, adding a sensual complexity and vivacity.

4) The heart to top note of neroli – this is the steam distilled essential oil from the flowers of the tree. Neroli essential oil is one of the most expensive essential oils. It was named after the princess of neroli, who favoured this scent like no other, and used it to scent herself and all her belongings. Neroli essential oil has unique calming effect on the mind, and was therefore used to reduce the anxiety of (virgin) brides (it is also traditionally used in bridal bouquets). Neroli has a sweet yet clean and dry ethereal quality, it’s very delicate and light. It is often used in colognes as well as floral composition to add a light floral lift.

5) Orange flower water is a by product of the neroli production: some of the aromatic elements of neroli are water soluble, and therefore stay in the water in the process fo distillation. The same process happened with the steam distillation of roses, which in turn provides us with rose water. Orange flower water is used mostly in food (to flavour sweets and baked goods, particularly in the Middle East, Mediterranean region and India) cosmetics (it makes a fantastic gentle tonic on its own, for oily skin or acne prone skin, yet without causing any harm or drying; it is also used as a base in lotions and other cosmetic preparations). It can be also used to top off various Eaux (Eau Fraiche, Eau de Cologne and Eau de Toilette), and can be used as a fragrance on its own in warm weather. Click here for an excellent recipe for the Basbousa cake – a semolina cake made with yoghurt and an orange flower water flvaoured honey-syrup.

6) Orange flower water absolute is a further process of the orange blossom water. It is similar to orange flower absolute, but is more sheer, honeyed and somehow smells watery as well. It is used as a heart note.

Bergamot orange, on the other hand, provides us only with the oil of the fruits’ peel, which has the disctinct bergamot aroma – green, floral, peculiar yet citrusy, and very heady. It is used extensively in flavouring the Earl Grey tea, and that’s how bergamot is most known to the public. It is also used in Italy and Greece in certain marmalades and candied, but this is not very common.

Images are courtesy of Wikipedia.

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