Sunday, May 28, 2006

I Spy

I spy a Chypre
In a pink porcelain flask
I spy lingerie
For an unconventional task

For reasons I do not have the liberty to reveal here, I was always intrigued by anything that had to do with secret agents. And as a result, it may not be a surprise that my signature perfume is called Espionage
My grandfather had an extensive library of John LeCarre books, the original, first print hard-covered copies. I always live in fear that John LeCarre will die before it’s time, like my grandfather did, but thanks God – he is still in good health and writing books and even likes their film versions for reasons other than money (which I do hope makes its way to him as he deserves it!). For some reason, filmmakers have been always quite careful with adapting his marvelous novels into film and TV – and although some of the detail is always being left out, it always feels authentic (the ones that I watched, anyways, which included Little Drummer Girl, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and the most recent, mesmerizing heartbreaker, The Constant Gardener).
And so my interest was peaked as soon as I got the word about this alleged Femme Fatale.

It is therefore not a surprise that my interest was teased by the thought of an alleged Femme Fatale perfume named Agent Provocateur conspiring in some remote olfactory regions. I pondered it for quite a while before I dared to approach it. It sounded like such a grandiose ambition, almost intimidating in a way. The fact that the scent was nowhere to be sniffed until very recently helped the denial process. Out of sight, out of mind.

I first smelled it in London, it’s birthplace, I suppose, and immediately dismissed it as being too bold and loud as well as old fashioned, and was rather convinced that it smelled like other perfumes I smelled before (if indeed I smelled something like it that was when I was a little girl, and I have no way to track it at the moment besides, perhaps, relying on your suggestions and guesses – and these are more than welcome!). Than one day, it showed up at my doorstep one day (thanks to Pamela Hettrich - thank you, Pam!), and I decided to grant it with my bare skin. What may have smelled sharp, bitter, spicy, acrid and dry at first – with a dash of aldehydes for a good measure of old-fashionedness – turned into a quite interesting yet very wearable fragrance.

It is not as soft as the smooth egg-shaped (a symbol of fertility, claim the marketing masterminds behind the scent; fertility and espionage, interesting combination...) porcelain flask may suggest. But it does have the contrasting effect, reminiscent of the black lace through which the pale pink shade skin tone peeks, as if blushed.

The spicy, sharp opening of coriander and saffron exudes confidence more than it is exotic or Arabesque as may be expected. It does, however, mellow quite quickly with an explosion of roses laced with hints of complementary flowers, their softness undermined by the dry, acrid tones of cedar and Vetiver. The dry down is actually softer – there is still cedar, roses and Vetiver, but they crubmle into a dry yet soft, powdery presence underlined with musk. Despite the dryness and because of its warmth, Agent Provocateur is like a sexy coarse voice from a mouth dry from heat and excitement. But it can also be other things.

Agent Provocateur is allegedly the scent that will provoke upon you inconceivable naughty crimes that you would have never thought of before. But really it is just one solidly constructed perfume for a change, in a fragrance world that often seems to dissolve into an awkward redundancy and offers unreliable olfactory fantasies. It has all that I like about Ivoire (roses, dry woods and leather), but without the sharp greenness. One could easily drop the sexy image and wear it to a formal occasion without ever being accused of sexual harassment or any other provocations. Even Mata Hari needs to go for lunch sometimes.

I would not pretend that Agent Provocateur does not have any of the Femme Fatale allure to it. It is a sensual, bold and daring in its own way. But I am not so sure about the espionage component… My feeling is that if it indeed provoked anything in that direction, it is the re-definition of Chypre. There is no oakmoss in it to make it a Chypre, yet this is its official classification. As a perfumer and a Chypre admirer and expert I would classify it as a woody floral, or a spicy oriental. If there is a perfume to blame for the introduction of the concept of “Pink Chypres” in modern perfumery, let it be Agent Provocateur. But I will get into this conspiracy theory at another time…

Top notes: Saffron, Coriander
Middle notes: Moroccan Rose, Jasmin, Magnolia, Ylang Ylang, White Gardenia

Base notes: Cedar, Vetiver, Amber, Musk

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Saturday, May 27, 2006


There are a few perfumes that I particularly like to wear for bedtime. This is a strange phenomenon, and only the truly addicted perfume connoisseur will even think of such a use for perfume. I am referring to scents that are seductive borderline sedative (or the other way around). Although these could be also seductive in their own way, for some reason they have a very calming presence. In the next couple blog entries I will talk about some of the perfumes I like to wear to bed – and rarely for any other occasion. In fact, I may not quite know how it feels to wear them during the waking hours – that will be as odd as wearing my pyjamas out of the house. This is, of course, a totally personal choice. To each their own bedtime scents. I would love to hear about yours!

I would like to close this round of floral perfume reviews with my two favourite bedtime perfumes - No. 5 and Tocde.

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I first smelled Tocade twelve years ago, when it was just launched. I didn't think much of it, except that I liked the bottle, which reminded me of a pagoda.

Tocade is one of my most favourite linear scents. Despite the fact that it offers very little if any evolution, it is not in the least uninteresting. The only evolution to speak of is reminiscent of Ravel’s Bolero, only that instead of the elaborate crescendo, Tocade is like a stretched diminuendo.
Tocade starts with what can be perceived by some as a strong, soapy bergamot and rosewood accord, that is fresh and powdery at once. I enjoy the clean feel of this opening, despite its somewhat harsh sharpness. The soapy phase fades really quickly, and becomes a rather soft, powdery, fluffy rosy vanilla fragrance, with a faint amber in the distance. This accord stays quite the same for the rest of its life, as Tocade is quite a linear scent, you won't find in it much more than there is a few minutes after applying it on... But that is what makes up most of its charm and loveliness. It is in fact this concept makes Toacde an interesting perfume in its own right.
Though it has plenty of floral notes - roses, geranium and magnolia - Tocade is not quite the usual floral, and I see it more as a powdery fragrance, quite reminiscent of a soft, soapy fragrance. It is a subtle scent that I find comforting with its clean, soft and subtle sweetness.
Wearing Tocade is like cuddling in a soft flannel pyjama and bedsheets with a matching texture, right after an evening shower... I wear it most often as a bedtime scent. However, with its humouros, sexy and light-hearted chic it can easily live up to the expectations of more demanding scenarios such as work and play.

Tocade was one of the first very abstract, super-synthetic perfumes that I really liked. Despite the fact that the notes are supposedly inspired by nature, there seem to be no ambition in its construction to create any imitation of or reference to nature. It is a synthetic, man-made pleasure, just like a beautiful city.

Top notes: Bergamot, Rosewood, Magnolia
heart notes: Rose, Orris Geranium
Base notes: Cedar,Vanilla, Amber, Musk

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No. 5

No. 5 has become an institution – and as such it is often a challenge to simply enjoy it for what it is - a perfume. However, a close look at the genius construction of the Parfum Extrait reveals a harmony that deserves more attention despite being a classic and a trend setter, and a perfume that has already received all the glory it deserves to get (being the number one bestseller in the world and winning awards for the bottle and what have you).

It is actually a work of art in the same way that Chanel’s fashion design has reached the heights of being an art form and at the same time a concrete, useful piece of clothing.
To prove so, one must re-think it without being bound to olfactory memories and collective subconscious schemes that evolved around this perfume in the last 8 decades or so of its existence (i.e. the first perfume-fashion association; confident business women in pinstripe suits, Marilyn Monroe’s bedtime fragrance, etc. etc.). At first, I must admit I was a bit frightened of it – it seemed so formal, so not “me”, and above all – its history and status made it seem very demanding to me. It was not until I bought the pure parfum (for as far as I know my only reason was the bottle, and the fact it is a classic. And since none of the readily available Chanel perfumes were to my taste at the time anyways – it did not make a difference to me which one I would get). At the moment I dabbed the parfum extrait on my skin, my perception of it changed completely…

A woman should wear No. 5 as if it was created for her alone, and she was the first woman on earth to wear it.

No. 5 is a truly feminine perfume, and is not bound to anything else but a bold portrayal of feminine beauty. It contains flowers, but does not smell quite like one flower in particular, or like a flower bouquet. I believe Ernest Beaux definitely fulfilled Chanel’s vision of creating a perfume that will help women to be proud of their own smell, and not try to smell like a flowerbed.

To my nose, No. 5 smells sweet and ambery, and is both sensual and seductive in a subtle and sophisticated way. The most dominant accord that comes forward on my own particular skin is that of ylang ylang, amber and civet, all with an oily, skin-like nuance from the rich, thick aldehydes. The It radiates a feminine warmth that when worn with confidence can be highly appreciated and enjoyed by both the woman who wears it and the people that are allowed to be close enough to smell her…

Although it is perceived by many as a formal, business-like scent, or the scent worn by mothers (and therefore radiates a certain authority), to me it feels sexy, soft, voluptuous, and despite the high dosage of aldehydes – quite natural.
I prefer to wear No. 5 the way Marilyn Monroe did – to bed.

Top: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Rosewood, Neroli
Heart; Ylang ylang, Rose, Jasmine
Base: Amber, Civet, Sandalwood, Vetiver

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Zohar: The Birth of a Perfume

At last, my orange blossom soliflore is ready to be launched, and it’s name is Zohar!

My orignal idea was creating two soliflores as a tribute to my childhood friends, Yasmin and Zohar. We grew up together and they have been sisters to me for almost as long as I can remember myself. Now, even with miles of oceans and languages and cultures separating between us, the distance seems non-existent. One lives in London. The other is in Jerusalem. Yasmin is the Hebrew name for jasmine, and sure enough, my friend's house was always surrounded by luscious blooming jasmine bushes. Zohar means enlightenment, brilliance and glamour. “Zohar Water” (pronounced “May Zohar” in Hebrew) is the name for orange flower water, the brilliantly scented water used in traditional Middle Eastern pastry as well as East Indian sweets. They have a distinguished, delicate yet fierce aroma that is fresh, floral, watery and citrusy all at once. Besides the name connection, I associated the pure white orange blossom and its aroma with the brilliance, elegance, precision and perfectionis of my friend which shows in everything she touches, which has a distinct beauty – gardens, flower arrangements, potted plants, and her unique style of clothing and colour matching. My orange blossom soliflore had to be stunning, simple and elegant.

For the past three years, I have been exploring the orange blossom themes – evaluating different oils and essences of orange blossom, and orange blossom centred perfumes. My curiosity was first peaked when I tried Nocturnes pure parfum. I than started with exploring the aldehydic-vetiver-orange blossom accord. This inspiration lead me to several studies of orange blossom, neroli and vetiver accords, which was unsatisfactory, as the results were too fresh and clean and also lacked the sweet sensuality of the orange blossoms that I was seeking. I explored more green interpretations such as in Vert Vert.; the dark nuances of Narcisse Noir; the sweet honeyed amber of Obsession and Fleurs d’Oranger; and even the transparent artificial orange blossom in Narciso Rodriguez. But really, it wasn’t until I found the right essences that I arrived at a refined solution for what seem to be the impossible: condense the sensuality of an orchard and pack it, nice and tight, in a bottle. Pack it so that when the flacon is opened, a whole orchard will bloom.

You see, for all those years I made a repeated mistake: I used too much neroli in my attempts to capture that orchard and cage it in my butterfly net. While neroli is gorgeous on its own, and highly resembles the scent of the fresh orange blossoms – when it is blended with other notes, it has the tendency to give a clean, somewhat flat, citrusy presence. And that is not what I was seeking. I was seeking the sweet, sensual scent of an orchard in full bloom.

My Spring trip to Israel helped to fine tune the vision of this scent. And sometime a clear vision is all you need to perfect a perfume. As I was admiring the scents of the orchards in full bloom, I noticed that there were a few golden fruit remaining on the trees from the Winter. These fruit, awaiting to be picked, or else come back to the ground and make the soil even more fertile – are the sweetest you could ever taste. I guess we really eat only almost-ripe citrus fruit, which leaves quite a bit of the tartness intact. The scecnts of the orachards in full bloom is uplifting and intoxicating at once. It awakens vivid happiness like the thousands of humming bees who swarm the flowers to make light citrus honey.

The final result, which I humbly present to you today – combines three types of orange blossoms: Neroli, which is made from the steam distilled orange flowers; Orange Blossom Absolute, which is a solvent extraction of the blossoms; and Orange Flower Water Absolute – the solvent extraction from the water remaining after the steam distillation to make Neroli. These waters are fragrant, and are used in both cosmetic preparation and as a flavouring essence in fine and traditional cuisines. The result of blending these three is the most complete orange blossom and the closest to the true flower that I can achieve at the moment. To this orange blossom theme I added top notes of yuzu and bitter orange to portray the sweet golden fruit hanging from the branches as a backdrop for the flowers, and a hint of tuberose and jasmine absolutes at the heart, to accentuate the floral sensuality of the theme. At the base is an amber compound I have concocted quite recently, which is honeyed and sensual, slightly earthy and sultry, yet not at all overpowering. The final touch is absolute of broom – as a memory for the blooming brooms at the same time of the year, which also highly complement the orange blossom with their sweet-pea like aroma.

Finally, I would like to express my very special thanks to my new sister-in-law, Sivan, who gave me the last push to make this perfume, and was the first one to try it. I asked her about her favourite notes before my visit, so that I can pick for her a perfume from my collection. She said she liked citrus blossoms, narcissi and fresh laundry. Since I had no perfume in my collection with either of these notes as a main theme or dominant note (narcissus absolute is a very far cry from the fresh flower, and there is no laundry accord that does not use synthetics), I had no choice but to give my orange blossom dream one more shot. And this time it worked to my satisfaction. Not only that, Sivan loves it and till this moment she is probably showing off with it, waving her wrists in front of friends and relatives’ noses, which now have an extra reason to enjoy her presence, besides her captivating cheerful personality and lovely smiles.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Once More - Thank You!

Katie reports that together, we raised nearly $1200 in the Mother’s Day Benevolent Blogging project, to the various participating charities. I would like to thank you all once more for participating and sharing your stories and thoughts on the participating blogs.

Also, if you are one of the winners – Kitty, Anya and Sybil - please do contact me with your mailing addresses, so that I can send you your prize!

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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Saturday at the Rhododendron Garden

A couple of weeks ago, I was welcomed every morning by the refreshing and intoxicating lily-like scents of the yellow rhododendrons in my back garden and every evening reminded me that it’s time to go visit the rhododendron garden in Stanley Park. If you happen to be visiting in Vancouver at this time of the year, don’t miss a stroll along the paths of this extraordinarily beautiful and romantic garden. And if you live in Vancouver you can enjoy it year around – it is a lovely stroll even when the rhododendrons are not in full bloom as they are now…

Although there are a number of rhododendrons native to Europe and North America, for the most part – we owe the beauty and variety of rhododendrons to Asia – where there is are numerous species growing wild on the Himalaya, in Tibet, China, Japan and in the Sikkim region in India (to name just a few instances). If you like, you can read more on the history of rhododendrons.

In Greek rhododendron means “Rose Tree”. And like roses, there is an incredible amount of hybrids. The diversity of fragrance found amongst rhododendron flowers is very much like that of lilies. Therefore, I will not hide my puzzlement at why does rhododendron not have a more respected place in perfumery. Besides a few perfumes in my own line (Fetish and Rebellius which both use wild rhododendron from Nepal), I have only seen it listed as a note in Estee Lauder’s Intuition. For some reason, despite the abundance of flowers and the fact that the leaves and stems themselves possess a sweet, green-balsamic and slightly floral aroma – it is hard to procure rhododendron oil or absolute. Perhaps the toxicity of some of the varieties (the leaves, nectar and pollen of some of the species are toxic, and it is said that the honey from rhododendron or azalea flowers can make people ill). Maybe I need to join one of those secret rhododendron cults to find the answer…

The following photos were all taken last Saturday, May 13th 2006. I decided to include both varieties that had a significant odour and those that were a mare visual delight… Rhododendrons present quite a variety of colours, sizes, scents and also the shapes of the flowers vary tremendously. I noticed that the ones that had a lily shape were the most fragrant, and for the most part smelled like lilies.

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Beyond Paradise

My favourites were the one I have titled “Beyond Paradise” as it smells, in my opinion, the way Estee Lauder’s perfume of that name would dream of smelling. I think you can guess which one I like better. The colours are so tropical in this one, and so is the scent – a shameless tropical floral that asks to be worn on the head or make into a lay. It’s heady, fresh, fruity… Sounds like a familiar ad copy of the florals from recent years? They only wish they would live up to this rhododendron’s standards!

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Rhododendron Eyelashes

These are the yellow rhododendrons that were making eyes to me in my garden every day (they still are, but the mascara is starting to fall off…). They have an intense yet fresh lily scent, just like a wild yellow Alpine lily.

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Sun Tan Lotion

I hope that the breeder of this hybrid was wise enough to patent the scent of this rhododendron, as it is now used to scent quite a few sun screen lotions… It’s smells gorgeous as a flower and a bit of a nuisance as a sun tan lotion.

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Tiger Lily

This rhododendron not only has the colours of tiger lily, it also smells like one! A very heady, sweet, indolic floral.

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More Lily Shaped Rhododendrons

These look like lilies, and smell like lilies...

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The variety of rhododendron is quite incredible. This rhododendron flower was not very fragrant, but it looks like an orchid.

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Coral Bells

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Two White Rhododendrons

A rhododendron tree:

Here is a classic white rhododendron:

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Other Garden Delights

This is another rhododendron in my back garden, with the lovely pond in the background. For some reason, the almost-open bud clusters remind me of lotus flowers…

The contrast between the different flower colours are far more delightful in reality. It can’t be a surprise why these bushes are so loved by gardeners…

You can also go for the Persian Carpet look with miniature bushes with dense small flowers:

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Fuschia Bells

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Noix de Tuberéuse

flowers from my lei, originally uploaded by flicka23.

These little white flowers from the narcissus family have a rich nocturnal life: it is not until the evening that their scent is at its full intoxicating aphrodisiac powers. It was traditionally considered dangerous for a young lady to pass through them as to be overcome by its intoxicating and voluptuous fragrance and be struck helplessly by it aphrodisiac powers (Poucher, 1959). Different crops and varieties of the absolute smell differently – some are powdery, soft and sweet, other have a slightly green overtones, and the harshest ones have been described as rubbery and almost medicinal.

In modern perfumery, tuberoses are often interpreted as a bombastic, loud and high-pitched narcotic florals. Poison and Fracas are two extreme examples of how tuberose can be treated in a very bold way. Noix de Tuberéuse, however, is the first and only perfume I found so far that is built around the theme of tuberose and does not have a harsh, intimidating, heady and cloying presence.

Noix de Tuberéuse is the softest tuberose and the one that reminded me most of the pure absolute. It is simple and I consider it a soliflore as the other notes all serve to accent different aspects of tuberose: mimosa and clover leaf hint at its slight green top notes; orris enhances its powdery softness; violet flowers bring forth an almost gourmand sweetness; tonka bean brings out its rich yet gentle, creamy-buttery sweetness; and ambery incense and sandalwood add a full bodied yet mysterious aura that along with reminiscence of coconut serves as a reference to the tropical Orient.

All in all, Noix de Tuberéuse is a creamy, buttery, sweet and soft tuberose scent. It reminds me of two things – the first one being the perfume oil called “Night Queen” from India. It is not a fancy perfume – but smells delicate and alluring, like flowers and incense intertwined. I am quite sure it is suppose to smell like tuberose to begin with, as tuberose is often referred to as “Mistress of the Night”.
The other olfactory reference links us back to Lipstick Rose, as it does remind me of the scent of some lipsticks. The violet and orris that appear in both perfumes have a similar effect and create a pleasantly plasticy nuance that is akin to the taste of a shimmering pearly-pink lipstick, if you happen.

The packaging of Noix de Tuberéuse is pink, and I couldn’t think of a better colour to describe this scent. It smells pink to me… It also brings me good memories, from when I first worn it a couple of years ago and my daughter was recovering from a broken femur, an incident that had forced her to choose speech as an effective method of communication... Ever since than she can’t stop talking, and my dreams are coming true. Maybe that is why I associate it more with chilly autumn days. But regardless of my own personal memories and associations, I still feel that the heat (even the very slight heat such as the mild spring weather in which I was wearing this yesterday) upgrades this scent into the next cloying-level which decreases both its sex-appeal and delicacy.

Top notes: Wild Green Clover, Mimosa
Heart notes: Tuberose, Fig, Violet

Base notes: Tonka Bean, Orris, Amber, Sandalwood, Incense, Coconut

p.s. I can't smell the figs on my skin at all. But these are listed on the official Miller Harris website.

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Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lipstick Rose

Nothing tastes more sweet, tender and alluring than trying Savta’s lipstick in front of her dresser. Whether or not I got permission did not matter, my grandmother often offered me her lipstick to try on. In her chic little magical purse she always has everything one needs when on the go – yet you will never guess there is anything in there by the weight or volume. Pure magic. From mints to tissue to anything else, including a lipstick in a basic colour – basic red or shimmering pink or coral - and a little vintage mirror that I will always remember her by: with roses embroidered on the back, and a brass ornamented handle. When looking at it, my tiny young-girl facial features appeared bigger than life and in incredible detail which could be only explained as a type of grandma’s magic.

Retro aldehydic, pink, powdery and lady-like, Lipstick Rose brings back these memories quite effortlessly. This is not supposed to be a rose scent – but the scent of a rose tinted lipstick. However, it does have a significant amount of rose that can justify both interpretations… With notes of violets (both powdery and sweet candied flowers), musky ambrette seeds, soft aldehydes and sweet-powdery heliotrope, powdery iris, and sweet and honeyed raspberry and tagetes notes.

Wearing Lipstick Rose is like digging in my grandmother’s vanity drawers, playing with her little mirror and a sweet smelling lipstick and staring glamorously at my funny facial expressions.

Notes (based on Perfume Addicts Database):
Top notes: Violet, Grapefruit, Ambrette
Heart notes:Coriander, Tagette
Base notes: Aldéhydes, Rose, Iris, Rasberry, Héliotrope

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A Whiff of Happiness

Fallen Frangipani, originally uploaded by mz_skade.

There is a moment of revelation when approaching a familiar scent – for a moment there are two matching vibrations between two scents – the first one being the one in the smeller’s mind and the other the actual scent that is being smelled. A whiff of a flower and the vapour emanating from a bottle met and struck a chord in my ofactory heart when I smelled Fleurs d’Oranger.

The top notes of Fleurs d’Oranger are likened to dewy orange blossoms on the tree in early morning. However, this tree grows in Serge Lutens’ garden, which means it has an unbelievably rich soil. The blossoms warm up to the glowing sun of high noon and attract humming bees to transform them into honey. They exude a sweeter scent with the help of understated tuberose and jasmine notes. By the end of the day, the rich soil reveals itself in full blast with the signature Serge Lutens amber. The blossoms have melted into sweet golden honey and turned deep orange, saffron, crimson and fuschia in the sunset. Its creator was right: it is the scent of happiness.

p.s. The above photo is yellow-hued fragipani flowers in a golden-glowing atmosphere. Although orange blossom flowers are colourless, I associate their cheerful fragranace with the colour yellow. Yellow always puts a smile on my face...I love to wear golden yellow-freesia colours with my Fleurs d'Oranger, including a yellow flower in my hair - it make every moment so much sunnier in so many ways, even in the darkest of days...

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Friday, May 19, 2006

Ode to Freesias

orange, originally uploaded by blaueaster.

There are two floral notes that remind me of a flower shop – carnations and freesias. There may be the occasional lily-of-the-valley in springtime that has scent in the flower shops too, but only these can be found almost year around, and actually have a scent besides flower-fridge-aroma. The other thing they have in common are their close relationship with spices – carnation’s eugenol makes it smell very much like cloves, and freesias have a generous dosage of freshly ground green and white peppers.

Dyptique’s Ofresia is a scent that just showed up in my mailbox one day, waiting to be appreciated. I liked it right away – for its simple freshness and pleasant presence. Without being ambitious, Ofresia is the best freesia I ever smelled, with all its peppery spiciness and green freshness. It is also sweetened with a very subdued vanilla base note, which is probably why it is one of the most wearable green perfumes I ever tried*. Ofresia is cheerful, dewy and lighthearted. It can make you feel like the orange background of the photo above, or like freshly ground white and green garden.

* I seldom reach for green perfumes. I love green scents in nature, but when bottled, I often have an adverse reaction to extreme greenness, despite my efforts to make peace with them.

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While Passing…

Whale Watch, originally uploaded by Weffie.

Things you may find while passing might be the least expected. I passed through to smell the lilacs of En Passant, and in a short snatch, a-la the chess maneuver by the same name, I found myself searching for whales on a misty day on the Sait Laurent river… Unsuccessfully, needless to say, but enjoying the fjords and the moist mist…
The heady, innocent and slightly powdery spring-like scent of white lilac quickly leads my nose to the subtly fragrant branches and stems bearing blossom-vines. These transform into an olfactory green fig leaf scent, and than in a split of a second you find out that you just jumped, head first, into a chilly ocean – smelling the fresh air of the ocean breeze, with its slight saltiness, and the clean, fine mist meeting your face as you watch for whales on the fast-loating boat…

With notes of white lilac, cucumber and wheat, Olivia Giacobetti has created an abstract lilac perfume that is more of a subjective interpretation of the flower rather than an effort to re-create the scent of the fresh blossom. Its ozone and marine cucumber notes are not my personal favourite and the wheat adds to a certain flour-y powdery yet green nuance that is nevertheless interesting and original on its own. However, the result of the final drydown is surprisingly disappointing in its ozonic-oceanism and its reference to l’Eau d’Issey of all perfumes.

Top notes: White Lilac
Heart notes: Fig, Cucumber
Base notes: Water, Wheat, Violet Leaf

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An Abstract Frangipani

Fall-In, originally uploaded by Ya Ya.

Today was unusually hot, and I was wearing Ormond Jayne’s Frangipani Absolute: A light and much less sultry and creamy interpretation of the magical tropical paradise flower.

Frangipani starts with a breath of citrus and with linden blossom which together resembles faintly the unusual scent of pomelo blossoms. The head notes quickly give way to the green-waxy scent of the pure frangipani absolute. You will not find any of the creamy fruitiness that the fresh flowers possess, none of the sun-dreaming coconut Tropicana with lays of flowers and sun warmed exotic skin. Rather, this is a tame fresh floral of a frangipani bush blooming in a Northern garden illustrated by cool bubbling brooks and structured paths – where you can get a muted whiff of the tropical flower and admire its whiteness.

Water lilies at the heart give a modern and watery twist and a hint of jasmine adds just a smidgeon of depth as well as a forgiving impression of narcissus (narcissi can be very cloying to the point of stench when are smelled from a gunpoint). The base, besides the signature Ormonde Jayne musk, consists mainly of cedar, which adds a dry quality that makes Frangipani Absolute so wearable in the hot sun…
Overall, it is a rather light and quite heady floral – however, delicate enough so that those who shriek to the sound of the high pitched floral arias will like or at least be able to listen to the song till the last notes. If you love the seriousness and complex forms of Beethoven you may get bored though with the ease and light heartedness and simple melody of this Mozartesque perfume. It’s fresh and never cloying and is very pretty, however – at the same time also feels distant and a bit too abstract. In Frangipani Absolute, it is almost as if the perfumer describes the whiteness of the flower rather than its scent.

Top notes: Linden Blossom, Magnolia Flower, Lime Peel
Heart notes: White Frangipani Absolute, Jasmine, Rose absolute, Tuberose absolute,
Water Lily, Plum, Green Orchid oil
Base notes: Amber, Musk, Cedar, French Vanilla absolute

p.s. Please note that the flowers in the picture are NOT frangipani. These are jasmine flowers.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

And The Winners Are...

The above photo is the draw from a hat carried out by my impartial daughter about 5 seconds ago.
The lucky winners for the Mother's Day fundraiser are:

First prize goes to Kitty, who won 1oz (30ml) Altruism EDP in a hand painted bottle.

Second prize goes to Anya, who won 1/8oz (3.75ml) Altruism roll-on Parfum Oil in a hand painted bottle.

Third (surprise!) prize goes to Sybill, who won a sample pack of Ayala Moriel Parfums.

Kitty, Anya and Sybill, please email me with your mailing address so that I can ship your prize to you!

And for everybody else who participated in this project, thank you so much for reading, commenting and visiting. I hope to see you all again in the future - here and in other blogs!



Monday, May 15, 2006

Lost Lilacs

It is sad when a thing of beauty is lost. But the absence of a beauty makes it even more desirable and increases its esteem in our eyes. And so, just as the lilac blooms for only a short period of time and do not yield its lovely fragrance to any method of extraction – Mystic Lilac, one of my favourites of all floral natural perfumes has disappeared since its creator has pulled his line out of the market and went on to pursue other fragrant ambitions. Maybe he will read this post and change his mind? I sure hope so. And if this review intrigues you enough you may be my guest and bug him via his website to put his perfumes back on the shelf.

Sublime, delicate and with a seductive breath of Spring, Mystic Lilac brings to us the joy of inhaling Lilac bushes in full bloom – the twigs, the leaves, and the Spring air warming to the sunny skies.
This is a simple yet interesting rendition of Lilac – that has depth and dimension as well as a hint of mystery…
Starts off with quite distinct Ylang-Ylang and Violet Leaf accord, which establishes the green-floral, powdery-sensual theme. In the background, precious Blue Lotus, Jasmine and Tuberose create a pulsating Lilac effect that is fully established once arriving at the dry down stage while Linden Blossom adds the hint of woodiness to the composition. Powdery, green and with an underlining playful sensuality, Mystic Lilac has immediately captured my heart.

Inspired by the fresh Spring blooming lilac bushes in Michigan, the talented perfumer created this phenomenal all-natural lilac perfume that is a true floral delight. Capturing the sublime and delicate essence of fresh lilac is near to impossible when using only natural materials, and Lilac is more often replicated in the lab with synthetic aroma chemicals. Mystic Lilac may not replicate lilac like most synthetics do (which usually I find overwhelmingly heady and powdery to the point of being cloying, despite their lilac loveliness), but it does create a Lilac impression throughout its existence.

Top notes: Ylang Ylang, Blue Lotus, Violet Leaf
Heart notes: Jasmine Grandiflorum, Linden Blossom
Base notes: Tuberose

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Thank you!

I would like to thank all of you for participating in the Benevolent Blogging yesterday. You have helped to raise $30 that will be donated from my own pocket directly to FINCA International.

I plan to be doing a similar fundraiser in October: October is Autism Awareness Month, and also the 10th birthday of my daughter. For this very special occasion, I would like to lead a fundraiser to autism related projects which I will post about when the time comes. I hope other benevolent and kind bloggers will join me in this effort as it means a lot to me personally.

The draw for the two bottles of Altruism will take place tomorrow, so tune in for an update and to see if you are the lucky winner!
And of course – drop by any time to read my SmellyBlog, which I enjoy very much writing and sharing my perfume experiences with you.

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Scent of a Mother

Mothers have a special scent. They smell like comfort, reassurance and tenderness. The scent of mothers and their babies help them bond and although scent is not the strongest sense of the mammals of our kind, they can recognize each other by their scent only a short while after the baby is born. If you ever smelled a baby before you will notice how fragrant they are - especially their head - a scent that is irresistible for a stranger, let alone a mother! Yet it is very delicate, and requires close contact and caring for the baby in order to be noticed and enjoyed. The mother’s body odour acts in a similar way on the baby and the young child. And lest we forget that mommies in our early life actuallyl mean, amongst other things… food!

And so, I wanted to dedicate this post to scents that remind me of my mother and also to wonder a bit about our differences when it comes to perfumes and the sense of smell…

My mother did not wear perfumes, ever. In fact, my mother has an hyposmia – which means that she can’t always smell. She tells me she can get a whiff, sometimes, of a nice flower when passing by, but for the most part her sense of smell is limited. As a child, I always helped her determine when food was spoiled. I could tell that it is just about to go bad when other members of the family still thought it was edible. And that was a very useful skill to have in a household with no refrigirator! (there was no electricity in the village where I grew up in, due to ideological reasons of the founders of the village, which I can still not quite understand).

But besides the practice of quality assurance in the kitchen, my mother has taught me and allowed me to practice many skills that ended up all leading me to do what I do now. She cultivated a passion for the medicinal properties of plants, including the most strangest smelling of all – such as ruh and yarrow. And so she taught me that each plant has a secret – something it can do to make us feel better and be happier people, even the ones that don't have very pretty flowers... Her favourite of all teas was aniseed tea, and to this day anything from the licorice family reminds me of my mother. Besides, she always gave me licorice root to chew on. It had the most incredible aroma and was intensely sweet even though there was no real ugar in it. My mother also baked whole wheat bread and the earthy scent of baking filled our little home with anticipation for the delight of munching on the warm crust...

My mother taught me how to sew and make my own clothes – and basically passed on to me the attitude that I can do most (if not all) things, myself. When I left for Vancouver, my mother gave me her special indigo coloured hooded-blouse which is made of the most slippery and soft velvet ever. She loves velvet, and just as soft as a velvet and a mother’s hand is, I created a perfume for her (which she can get a whiff of from time to time, and even asked for a refill before my last visit, which made me super-happy): Indigo. Indigo has plenty of aniseed, just like the syrupy thick tea my mother loved to drink, and also bread-like notes of caraway. It has an overall herbal and mysteriously cool spicy aroma which softens later into a violet heart, with boronia, jasmine, carnation and orange blossom and than fades into an incense and amber base, just like a warm blanket as the night deepens… It just feels like an indigo velvety night…

My mother danced with me when I was little, and sang to me every night. From her I got my love for music and art and flowers. And just as she came back to playing her music and living up her dreams after her children grew up a bit, I learned to insist on following my dreams too and never give up on what is most dear to me.
Her imagination guided me to follow my passions and listen to the language of flowers…

p.s. Tell me what scentual impression your mother left on you, or just stop by to say hello. Your comments will generate $1 per each commenter to be donated by myself to FINCA International. Your readership and comments are much appreciated!

p.s.s. Amongst all commenters today there will be a blind draw and two of you will win a bottle of Altruism!

p.s.s.s. I would like to take this opportunity to also draw your attention to SmellyBlog's super-fun contest - The Scented Ribbon Contest - send me a picture of what you think is the best use for the scent ribbons that are gradually replacing the blotter cards - and enter to win a perfume from my collection as well as a pair of handmade, super-comfy and sexy undergarments!

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Happy Mother's Day!

paperchainnoshadow, originally uploaded by Seldom Nice Nowadays.

First of all – Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers of the world! And of course to the children of the world who made them mothers (hey, that means all of us)!

As you probably already know by now, if you leave a comment here today, you will be raising money for FINCA International, an organization that provides loans to low-income micro entrepreneurs, focusing especially on women.

For each person that will post a comment on SmellyBlog on today, I will donate $1 to FINCA International. This way I hope that there will be more small businesses to make the business world more diverse and help more women gain independence – financially and otherwise.

I also encourage you to visit and leave a comment on the other blogs that participate in this project “Benevolent Blogging”. These bloggers which will donate from their own personal money to the charity of their choice are:

You are more than welcome to leave comments on any of the posts for today, Sunday, May 14th, 2006, and I will count you in!



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Saturday, May 13, 2006

Spring Flower

Tulips Pool, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

If a spring of glacier water could be bottled in a perfume flacon – I think it will smell like Spring Flower. It makes me wonder if “spring” refers to the season or to the body of water. I would say it’s a little bit of both.

With its fresh and simple beauty, Spring Flower is sheer happiness in a bottle.
Fresh, optimistic and tranquil with no unnecessary ambition – Spring Flower is nothing short than beautiful. It’s just that – beautiful. The fresh fruity accents are crisp and complement the floral tones that are at the heart of the composition – rose and jasmine. They give off a feeling of water lilies floating above glacial freshwater. The base holds only a tad of sweetness like a soil that promises a longer blooming time.

It’s nothing too deep or serious, just pretty, charming, effervescent and bubbling with vivacity. Spring Flower has surprisingly become one of my wardrobe staples, which is quite surprising – considering the fact that I have hared time with pure and sheer florals, particularly fruity florals. One main reason is that unlike most other fruity florals, it does not quickly transform into a powdery, nose-stinging chemical mess on my skin. Rather, the fruity notes stay fresh forever (a very unnatural characteristic, but in this case most welcome!). As if this is not enough, Spring Flower is the only Creed that truly captured my heart so far!

Spring Flower starts off with a blast of fresh, citrus-fruity notes of lemon, bergamot and peach. There is also a hint of herbal note, almost minty. It is charmingly refreshing and positive. The thing is, that this fresh beauty lasts for a long time!
The heart and base notes still maintain this luscious fruitiness, along with delicate flowers that are neither heavy nor heady, but simply reminiscent of fresh, dew-laden blossom in an early spring morning. Though officially the notes are of jasmine and rose, to my nose it smells like waterlilies. Perhaps it is the combination of the rose and jasmine notes with the crisp apple and watery melon notes that create this light, bright and fluid impression.
The feeling is of inviting cool spring water, so inviting you absolutely have to drink them!

Later on notes of lilly of the valley and a citrus floral note emerges – it is not orange blossom, but actually smells a lot like lemon… Perhaps it is lemon blossom…
The drydown is a tad powdery, with the lilly and melon notes lingering on a base of cedarwood and perhaps a hint of orris as well as musk. It is only slightly powdery, but still has the fruity floral notes persist while maintaining an extraordinary freshness.

Top notes: Peach, Lemon, Bergamot, and I suspect a hint of peppermint!
Heart: Jasmine, Rose, Water lilies, Melon, Apple, Lilly of the Valley, Lemon Blossom
Base: Cedarwood, orris, perhaps benzoin which adds a tad of sweetness without overpowering the top and heart notes, and very subtle musk, amber and vanilla notes.

me, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

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Chant d'Aromes

Ashridge bluebells, originally uploaded by Today is a good day.

One speaks of the moods of spring, but the days that are her true children have only one mood; they are all full of the rising and dropping of winds, and the whistling of birds. New flowers may come out, the green embroidery of the hedges increase, but the same heaven broods overhead, soft, thick, and blue, the same figures, seen and unseen, are wandering by coppice and meadow." (E.M. Forster from "Howards End")

Chant d’Aromes simultaneously reminds me of Spring and of Autumn, with its bitter-sweet tenderness, and a cheerfulness that can be likened to a flower emerging from a bulb after a storm. With its fragile and melancholy beauty it reminds me of the film Howards End – Leonard wondering in the forest amongst the bluebells until the grey dawn, the wind blowing in the blooming trees, the almost-mystical history of the house and the tragic tale of friendship, love and social differences that separates between people.

Chant d’Aromes is a delicate floral with subtle woody-chypre undertones. Noticeably, Chant d’Aromes has a uniform impression that is carried out throughout the different phases (that is not at all to say that it is a linear fragrance) – the beautiful floral heart notes are apparent from the first stage of the perfume, and gradually mellow down and lead into the more woody, mossy notes.

Chant d’Aromes opens with top notes of mandarin, bergamot, peach and aldehydes. These are there only for a few moments, to introduce the luscious, dew-laden floralcy, and disappear leaving only a trail of retro aldehydes that maintain a soft and bitter-sweet mood all along.

The heart is primarily honeysuckle, supported by fresh, morning-dew blossoms of gardenia and jasmine – (unlike the heavy, intoxicating night blooming white blossoms with the tropical fruitiness). This beautiful floral heart gradually reveals some more warmth, just like a fresh garden gradually warmed up by the gentle rays of sun.
To its delicate sweetness there is now some added powderiness, from orris root and the unfolding cedarwood base notes.

It gradually deepens, with a velvety touch of oakmoss, and very minute amount of vetiver, that is light but adds a tiny bit of warm woodiness, along with transparent musk and frankincense notes, and a hint of the almond-like tonka bean that emerges from the Guerlinade.

The EDT is true to the parfum, but requires many reapplications. The parfum is not much heavier, just slightly richer and most significantly – has a more satisfactory staying power. I also find the pure parfum to be less bitter as the heart notes linger longer.

I don’t usually view perfumes through fashion lenses, but Chant d’Aromes has a white and cream coloured retro feel to it and I love wearing it with linen and pearls in warmer weather.

Top notes: Peach, Bergamot, Mandarin
Heart notes: Gardenia, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Orris root
Base notes: Cedarwood, Musk, Oakmoss, Frankincense, Vetiver, Tonka bean

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Wildflowers and Spring Perfumes

As cliché as it is, Spring always means flowers to me. Especially wildflowers. And flowers are very hard not to love. I am yet to meet the person that doesn’t like flowers in some form – in the garden, in a vase, as a floral print on textile, or their scent (bottled or not).

I am also yet to find a perfume that truly captures the scent of wildflowers in the springtime. So I revert to associating more civilized flowers in the perfume context. My trials of tincturing wildflowers did not bear any satisfactory results. So I will stick to the traditional jasmine, rose, orange blossom, tuberose et al for now, and indulge in exotic scents such as champaca, osmanthus, boronia, kewda and other aromas that I wasn’t exposed to until I became a perfumer.

For a long time, Diorissimo has been my favourite perfume, and was the essence of Spring for me. Although I don’t think any less of it, I have grown to love other scents and feel more comfortable wearing them in the Spring or otherwise – when a flowery mood dawns on me. I am hoping to be able to review some of them here before the Spring turns into Summer!

It seems like I have skipped the chilly, brisk moments of Spring here in Vancouver when I was away on my holidays. For a few days it was indeed rainy and grey and needless to say – not particularly warm. But the sunny days are significantly outnumbering the grey ones now, and you can see the immediate effect on the people around – they simply look more energetic and cheerful, and I am amongst them. A nice continuum to a vacation, I must say, so I am seriously considering an annual pilgrimage to the blooming orchards of Israel!

From the innocent lily of the valley of Diorissimo I have grown to admire the intoxicating orange blossom (as in Fleurs d’Oranger), which is perhaps the one single note that brings Spring and happiness to me in an instant. I also love the youthful cheerfulness of full-bodied and seductive jasmine, the soft fresh petals of roses. For a fresh and green feel – I have extended my affection of the floral lily of the valley to freesia, boronia and most surprisingly – to the cucumber smelling violet leaf and to the even more obscure iris.

Neither soliflores nor floral bouquets been my main interest – both as a perfumer and a wearer. I am a known as a chypre junkie and oriental lover, and generally speaking I seek complexity and evolution in my scents, which isn’t often satisfied by florals. But in the few reviews to follow, I will pay a tribute to some of my favourites that I are really special to me.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Mother’s Day Spring Extravaganza

I just came back from my fantastic spring visit to Israel with a new stock of pendants - still warm from the designer's atelier! All are pure sterling silver and are handcrafted and sweatshop free. Now offered at a special 25% off discount - original price is $150, and now offered to you at a special discount until Mother's Day (May 14th, 2006) – for only $112!!!

This is a really special gift for Mother's Day - Ayala Moriel's unique perfumed pendants, filled with perfume and adorned with the lovely fairy-and-a-drop logo embossed on the lid - the drop being an outrageously luminous and colourful turquoise-shade opal stone. The pendant holds about 2.5ml of crème parfum of your choice. Email me to receive a free fragrance consultation to help you choose a perfume for your own mother or significant woman in your life, or to treat yourself to this unique piece of fragrant jewellery.

Also, our sales from last month continues, with lots of larger size bottles that are being discontinued as we are gradually transitioning to our "new look". Our new bottles and packaging as well as our brand-new website will be officially launched June 2006. Large bottles of 2 oz (60ml) for only $99 (original price $135), 1 oz (30ml) spray bottles for only $75 (original price $85). And don't forget - we still have a few testers left, for a steal of $25 per bottle - these are refillable purse sprays of 1/4 oz (7.5ml) and are full of yummy juice...

* Please inquire about the availability of your favourite fragrance. Until our new website is launched we will be still processing all orders manually and via the email or phone.

More on our liquidation shelf are the last 5 of our sterling silver compacts with an opal stone (just the locket without the pendant), freshly filled with gorgeous and creamy solid perfumes of White Potion (2 available), Lavandouli, Megumi and Cabaret (the latter is adorned
with an amethyst). These are offered at half of the original price, for only $75.

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Mother's Day Fund Raising & Draw

First of all, many thanks to Katie from Scentzilla who initiated this Mother's Day fund raising project of Benevolent Blogging , which I decided to join via SmellyBlog. On Mother's Day, for each comment made on the participating blogs, the blogger will be donating a set amount of money to a charity of their choice.

There are quite a few perfume related bloggers participating in this fabulous project, including my own SmellyBlog, and if you comment on those blogs, you will be supporting those causes with good thoughts as well as money, and also have a chance to win cool prizes!

Being a woman and an entrepreneur, I chose to give to FINCA International, an organization that provides loans to low-income micro entrepreneurs, focusing especially on women.
Thus, for each person that will post a comment on SmellyBlog on Mother’s Day (May 14th), I will donate $1 to FINCA International. I truly believe that small businesses make a huge contribution to our communities both culturally and economically, and also this is a great opportunity for women to lead an independent life.

What else is there in it for you?
You will enter a draw and can win one of the two fragrant prizes!
A 1/8oz roll-on OR a 1oz EDP spray bottle of Altruism, my wonderful fund raising perfume in many a galas and silent auctions for worthy causes.



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Saturday, May 06, 2006


Diorissimo is the essence of spring, and as it’s genius creator Roudniska has said, it captures the scent of the flowers as well as the natural atomsphere where the little modest flowers grow - green foliage and damp and chilly forest floor.

Diorissimo evokes an instantly cheerful mood and a happy and positive attitude as soon as it delights with its presence. It radiates a certain pure and youthfully innocent quality that makes it a perfect scent for initiating young girls into the world of perfumery, and perhaps even seducing them into a premature wedding with its intoxicating and euphoric scent.

As an Eau de Toilette, Diorissimo is a soliflore lily of the valley, in fact – the only one that I smelled so far that captures the scent of the crisp little white bells without smelling headily synthetic and develop into a flat, shallow nuisance on the skin.

In the Eau de Toilette I can smell mostly the galbanum, boronia and jasmine, all in a supporting role to the heady scent of freshly picked lily of the valley.

The pure parfum, however, has a more deep and less single-floral feel to it. The rose and jasmine are more dominant and the boronia works really well in accentuating the green and fresh spring qualities. I have also detected certain amount of oakmoss in the base. It is very subtle - but I think it does what it needs to do. I used to like the EDT much better, abut now I prefer the parfum.

Top notes: Green Glabanum notes
Heart notes: Lilly of the Valley, Boronia, Calyx, Rose
Base notes: Jasmine, Sandalwood, Civet

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