Monday, June 30, 2008

Le Petit Prince Moves Into a Crêpe

La Petit Prince Crepe, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

La Bohème traveling Crêperie have invented yet another amazing crêpe, reflecting the world of of Le Petit Prince. The love story between him and his spoiled rose can be now enjoyed on a flat planet of crêpe where Triple-sec-drowned-strawberries and fluffy ricotta make a bed for fresh and fragrant rose petals.

Illuminated Crepes, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Beautiful crêpes made by beautiful people, and their love for what they are doing comes across with every delicious bite of their innovative crêpes (and who they're doing it with - the crêpe caravan belongs to Bruno, Paula and their daughter Cheyenne). This is certainly the highlight of my market weekend (and my incentive) for me to keep coming to Portobello West every single month of the year. I usually go for the savoury crêpes, which make a complete meal (a very late lunch for me being a vendor at the market) - my favourites being the Brie & Pesto crêpe (brie, pesto, bechamal and fresh greens) and La Chevre (with goat cheese, black olives, caramelized onions and fresh greens).

La Bohème makes appearances at Portobello West every month, and also every week at the farmer's markets in Trout Lake (Saturday) and Kitsilano (Sunday). They also do catering.

Illuminated Crepes, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer Essentials

Summer calls for light scents, there is nothing new about that. It seems that the most summery scents divide into the following four categories:


There is something about the rind of citrus fruit makes most people feel rejuvenated and refreshed. Citrus oils have been in use in many toiletries due to their anti-bacterial properties, and therefore are associated with cleanliness and purity. For many, a citrus cologne is all they can take in the summer. An even funner way to enjoy your citrus fragrances, especially if you live in the tropics or the desert is to refrigerate the cologne and enjoy a double-cool splash of citrus throughout the day.
Although I've never been much of a citrus wearer personally, I do enjoy the lemony bite of Le Parfum de Therese, Eau Sauvage, O de Lancome (all are Chypre-Citrus of sorts)and my very own ArbitRary & Fetish.

Dry Woody

Dryness in the sense of un-sweet and non-cloying is a desired effect when heat and humidity reign. The note of vetiver is particularly effective in that regard. They have been considered cooling in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds if not thousands of years. In the tropical countries where vetiver grows wild, vetiver rootlets are woven into mats, blinds and fans. When moistened with water, they release their cooling, clean-woody and earthy-sweet scent and create a calm, grounded feeling. When the wind comes through the moist blinds this aroma enters the home and relieves the dwelles from the heat. A wood fan scented with sandalwood or agarwood (I found mine in Chinatown and am just grateful for their aroma and design when I travel to my air-conditionered home-village). A woven vetiver-root fan can be found at Samara Botane and in the summer they sometime also offer vetiver hydrosol which can be sprinkled on the fan for an extra vetiver boost.

My favourites of the vetiver genre are Vetiver Tonka, Guerlain's Vetiver, Vetiver Extraordinaire and my own , Sabotage & Vetiver Racinettes. On the more woody side, Bon Zai and Philosykos have that tingling fresh dryness that is so rejuvenating when there is no fan to be seen.


Beach-summer association requires no explanations. Suntan lotions, vanilla ice cream cones, coconut oil and the scent of sun warmed sun and skin are for most people the epitome of summer’s olfactory symbols. Any scent that would even vaguely remind us of these sensual and lazy experiences is welcome in summertime (or when sunshine is missed here on the northern West Coast!). Azuree Body Oil (or Bronze Goddess, if you will) Fire Island's sun-tan lotion sans the grease, or chocolate-dipped banana ice-cream bar, also know as Vanille-Banane (or for that matter, take a pick from any of the Comptoir Sud Pacifique line and you'll be sucked into one beach fantasy or another).
And from my own creations the beachiest are Coralle & Gigi.

Tropical Floral

Summer nights are filled with the intoxicating scents of white flowers. Night blooming jasmine, orchids, garenia and frangipanni.
There is Samsara, with it's minimalistic yet rich melange of jasmine, sandalwood and vanilla; Songes, shamelessly floral through and through with jasmine, frangipanni and powdery-sweet vanilla foundation; or Ormonde Jayne's airy and light rendition of Frangipanni Absolute. And from my collection: Yasmin brings memories of summer nights soaked in indolic air and Tamya gives me that happy feeling like biting into juicy mango.

I would like to close this blog entry with three additional lists: my own summer-staple list, of scents I've been wearing for several summers in a row now; my summer fragrance wishlist; and finally - my own prediction of what I think I will be wearing a lot of this summer:

My Summer Staples
Le Parfum de Therese
Fleur de Shanghai
Bronze Goddess

My Summer Wishlist
Kelly Caleche
Un Jardin après la Mousson

My Summer Predictions
I will be wearing a lot of my Vetiver Racinettes & Gigi (on their own or layered - I noticed that when putting on Gigi after I've worn Vetiver Racinettes for hours, Gigi agrees to last longer) as well as Le Parfum de Therese; And of course - a lot of Un Jardin après la Mousson, once I decide to take the plunge and rather than emptying one sample vial at a time go for the whole bottle.

What's on your wishlist? And what do you have in your collection that is a tried and true summer fragrance you seem to always come back to - and look forward to every summer?

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Appreciating the Artisanal

There is a thread today on Perfume of Life forum that simultaneously makes me feel fuzzy and warm inside and blush because of all the compliments...
The reason I'm risking to brag about it here is because it is not common to hear the appreciation of the artisanal spirit and what one creates by hand, straight from the heart. I'm very pleased to see the topic being brought up and discussed sincerely and seriously.
It is so encouraging to see that people enjoy that aspect of what I do and can feel the difference between a handcrafted perfume and one that is mass-produced.

In the last few months I've realized that as much as it would be nice to have a glamorous spot for my perfumes in various posh boutiques across the globe, I would only do that in the condition that it will never interfere with the quality of my perfumes and the fact that they all must be hand crafted, in small batches at a time. Those things may seem tedious and in fact they are laborious - but they make all the difference. It boils down to lifestyle choices - how do I want to conduct my business? Do I spend my days working with the materials myself or getting others to do it for me? Do I want to have a big business that keeps growing or do I want to maintain a certain lifestyle for myself and my family that will ultimately reflect on that of my customers? Maybe even inspire others?
- These are the types of questions that should concern any businessperson, and particularly the artisans of today that are striving to keep alive ancient arts that for the most part don't seem to easily fit-in to modern business schemes.

The coming weekend is very busy and I have several deadlines to meet before the month comes to an end; so I cannot promise posting here (and if I do you know I'm either taking a break or am officially a slacker!). I will, however, post plenty next week once the deadlines disappear.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Summer Solstice

Summer Solstice, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Hope you all enjoyed the first day of summer and longest one in the year. I spent most of it chasing the sun in the Sunshine Coast and waiting for the tides to clash at Skookumchuk Rapids.
Memorable scents of the day: salty ocean air with wafts of wild roses and resinous conifers.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Olfactory Quilt: Spring 2008 in Vancouver

Urban Daisies, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Spring is about to come to an end come June 21st. And since I usually prefer to spend my Springs in Israel, this might be my only chance to create this type of collage on SmellyBlog, capturing my impressions of Spring in sequence from March till June. Besides, I feel this Spring was the first one I actually “got” – just like an obscure and fleeting perfume that won’t easily let you discern it’s different notes. Being spoiled with Middle-Eastern Springs, that are all about a showy explosion of flowers – both colours and smells – the subtleties of a West Coast Spring have escaped me for years.

Spring in Vancouver always seem to arrive early, with the first brave tree blossom – plum and cherry. But it is the daffodils and the tulips that announce it more explicitly, encouraging kindergarten and schoolteachers to decorate their classrooms with yellow cutouts of certain floral shapes.

Daffodils have a scent that I am yet to be able to describe. It’s altogether clean and soapy and at the same time has that dirty indolic floral underlining it all. And tulips have no scent at all for all I can tell from a floral perspective – perhaps one can smell a green hint from the petals and the stingy odour of pollen.

Mysterious and invisible blossoms
It seems that here, the tinier the flower, the more fragrant it is. If the air is not completely washed out by air, you may detect an overall floral intoxication lingering in the air. Deemed urinal-smelling by some, to me this is very similar to the scent of wild narcissus from back home. However, this is happening at the very beginning of spring, when there are hardly any blossoms to be seen – definitely not narcissus. It took me 10 years to gun down the source of this olfactory pollution: privet blossom.

Magnificent Magnolias
Magnolia Highrise, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Magnolias are not just a Southern thing (although the porch pictured below may as well pass for one). There are trees in every shape, size and colour spread around the city, and I am very thankful for that. There are white magnolias, pink magnolias and even very dark red-wine magnolias. The most beautifully fragrant are the white and the pink (with some exceptions – each tree has it’s own unique scent it seems). The flowers are outrageously beautiful. Glorious really.

Magnolia, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Magnolia, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry blossoms are the never-tiring cliché of spring just as much as almond blossoms are in Israel’s Tu BiShvat. With the strong influence of Japanese culture in Vancouver, there is in fact a (quite) Sakura festival happening in the city, the centre of which takes place on the weekend, under the cherry blossom boulevard of Burrard SkyTrain Station. I have missed this year’s festival but you could say I constantly celebrated with my own perfume tribute to the poem “In A Station of the Metro” which is my interpretation of this exact locale. With this and thanks to the whimsical hot-and-cold weather prolonging the season (freezing the flowers and than defrosting them, almost literally!) -it’s been certainly a Sakura spring for me in more ways than I can reveal in such a short paragraph.

Parallel Horizons and Vanishing Points, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Hyacinths and the 7 S's
Hyacinths hold a special place in the Persian New Year’s celebration. They are presented as an offering on the table with the 7 S’s (Haft Seen) – various objects (mostly living objects – such as fish and sprouted wheat) to bless the new year. Hyacinth symbolize life and beauty. Within closed quarters, these grape-like clusters of blue, pink or white flowers may be overbearing, but outdoors in the gardens on the typical chilly spring days, they are green, fresh and beautiful and positively intoxicating.

Hyacinth, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

In contrast to the fragrant hyacinths, these bulb flowers have no scent at all to write home about. Perhaps there is some greenness about them, but if there is any scent at all I suspect it comes from the pollen-covered stamens. Tulips of all shapes, colours and patterns take over the city for a short period of time, and if you are not careful you may get convinced that you are actually in the Netherlands during early April. This particular tulip in the photo looks like a flame, with its dark (nearly black) petals trimmed with gold.

Flaming Tulip, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Lily of the Valley
Come late April, and silver bell-like offerings of lily of the valley pop up in high end flower shops around the city. Although they could, you will rarely see them growing in gardens. This year I have made a point of filling my home with little bunches as long as I could find them. Needless to say, I did not regret it one bit!

Lily of the Valley, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Miscellaneous beautiful flowers, of now particular scent
The following is literally a collection of flowers that caught my eye and that have become iconic symbols of Vancouver’s spring for me. Bleeding hearts, with their drop-dead-gorgeous jewel-like designs; Irises, both yellow and purple, popping up in skunky marshes and ponds; poppies with their strange un-red colours or the cultivated gigantic vermillion awe-inspiring opiatic presence. And lastly, this strange passionflower-like climbing shrub that I discovered in the back garden and I have no idea what it is.

Bleeding Hearts, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Sun-washed Poppies, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Sort of a passionflower, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Iris, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Peach Scented Flowers
The identity of this bush/shrub is unknown to me and it bloosm with the most enchanting peach scent that reminds me of both lilac, osmanthus and of course - peach. If you know its identity, please do tell.

Peach Scented Flowers, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Rhododendrons and Lilacs
I’ve already raved about the beautiful rhododendron gardens of the city before and I could probably blog about them every day when they’re in bloom. Needless to say – I’m smitten with rhododendrons and the variety of colours, shapes and fragrances they add to this green & gray place I’m living in. The particular combination of rhododendron flower on a backdrop of lilac bush in full blossom is like adding a cherry on the top. Now, this is a perfume.

Rhododendron & Lilac, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

Summer Just Around the Corner

Jasmine after the rain, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

You know summer is at the door when the peonies start to bloom and when you can smell the jasmine flowers in my balcony. I picked a little bunch of jasmines for a building-block photoshoot (the results of which I hope will be of much use in the not-so-far future on both my website and printed guides). Just three of these small blossoms were enough to perfume my entire bedroom. This was your daily-dose of an aphrodisiac.

Pink Penoies, originally uploaded by Ayala Moriel.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wanted: Bulgarian-Rose Pickers

Apparently, the Bulgarian rose otto industry is suffering a shortage in workforce.
If rose picking and distilling is your calling, there will be many, many grateful people around the world. It has been a long time since I managed to get a hold of any Bulgarian rose otto, which is my personal favourite. This light yet full-bodied rose oil is a bliss.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Vetiver Racinettes - New Perfume

Ayala Moriel is proud to present a new, limited-edition perfume for summer 2008:
Vetiver Racinettes.

Vetiver is the root of a tropical grass native to India, Indonesia and Java. It is known for its calming and cooling effect on both mind and body, and is considered “The Scent of Tranqulity” in India.

Ruh Khus is wild vetiver from India distilled in the wilderness, in portable copper still. Its distinct earthy, copper-like aroma, married with the intense licorice sweetness of tarragon absolute creates an outstanding aroma never to be explored before in the realm of the vetiver perfume genre. Along with vetiver from four other countries, Vetiver Racinettes is at once earthy, sweet and cool like the aromatic roots and rootlets brewed to a bubbly rootbeer.

Vetiver Racinettes was born out of a long period of intensive study of this singular note, which really was part of a personal journey to better understanding of my own physical and emotion connection. At that time last year, I had a deep need for its therapeutic qualities and cooling effect and I have become aware of vetiver's many virtues and its particular connection to the well being of the people and the planet in present day. Vetiver is a purifying, sacred root with a woody aroma, and in many ways I feel that it takes on a similar role that was once reserved to sacred woods such as sandal and oud.

The result of my vetiver journey is a perfume that contains all of the elements that I've ever loved in the vetiver scents I've tried, as well as my own conclusions from my journey in the route of vetiver. It has the warmth of earth and firey spices and at the same time - the coolness of clay and vetiver curtains sprinkled with water; the medicinal dryness of herbs and grasses and the luxurious tenacity of woods; the sweetness of tarragon and earth with the bitterness of coffee and mud.

Vetiver Racinettes starts off warm and spicy, and will remain that way for a while when worn in a cool weather - accentuating the sweet tarragon, spice and coffee notes. However, in the heat of the summer it will quickly transform into a cooling elixir, bringing a quiet calm to one's physical and emotional existence, like drinking fresh water from a cool well, directly from the spout of a clay jar.

Top notes: Black Pepper, Fresh Ginger, Cardamom, Kaffir Lime Leaf
Heart notes: Haitian Vetiver , Nutmeg Asbolute, Coffee, Spikenard
Base notes: Ruh Khus, Indonesian Vetiver, Vetiver Bourbon, Attar Mitti, Tarragon Absolute, Cepes

Vetiver Racinettes is a limited edition fragrance that will be available throughout Summer 2008. We are currently sold out of the first batch, and the next batch will be ready on the official launch date, June 21st, is the first day of Summer. Advance orders are available through the website and will be shipped on a first-come first-serve basis, so hurry up - our batches are very small!

Vetiver Racinettes is available in 9ml parfum extrait flacon ($110), Perfumed Pendant ($150) 10ml perfume-oil roll-on bottle ($130) and 5ml perfume-oil roll-on bottle ($65).

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Favourite Father's Day Scents

Happy Father’s day to you all – fathers and grandfathers and everyone that celebrates with you. Check my newsletter for some fatherly thoughts for the day. For today on SmellyBlog, I decided to make a list of my favourite manly fragrances.

I haven’t tried nearly enough masculine fragrances, especially when comparing them to all the “feminine” scents I have tried. However I do have a few favourites and Father’s Day seems to be a good time to mention them – as well as a few significant males in my life.

1. Eau Sauvage
Always at the top of my masculine scents, Eau Sauvage is THE classic men’s fragrance there is. It was perfectly made by Edmond Roudniska and the combination of spacious hedionic jasmine with mossy base and herbaceous-citrus top notes is unbelievably gorgeous. I can’t think of any man in particular that I’ve known that worn it, but it always brings a sense of familiarity and recognition when I smell it.

2. Old Spice
An old-time classic and my grandfather used it regularly, but if you think it’s “too old” think twice; - my 21 year old brother adores it and wears it with passion in every form available – eau de toilette, after shave, body spray, deodorant, soap, you name it. It makes the whole house smell like Old Spice and when he goes through the whole ritual so to speak we are both sedated by clove and allspice.

3. Yerbamate
Rich, bold and green - this fougere has something quirky about it even though one of my customers claims it smells exactly like Canoe by Dana (that can be had for a fraction of the price). I have nothing to compare it to (Canoe pops up in drugstore only once in a Christmas-y blue moon) but I’m all the same curious.

4. Egoiste
With its soft, creamy sandalwood, Egoiste is the masculine answer to Bois des Iles and you really need not be selfish to enjoy it – I’m sure those around it will appreciate it too. Beware: Egoiste Platinum has nothing to do with it besides the name. Unfortuantley, it is not available in Canada – at least not on the West Coast.

5. Bel Ami
Bel Ami is dressed up entirely in leather like a hardcore fetishist, yet manages to conceal all that with its well-mannered attitude and elegance that has become the signature element in all the perfumes that come from the house of Hermes. I don’t smell it often on people around me, and I wish I did.

6. M7
Without being either particularly masculine or feminine, M7 is just different from what is out there among the thousands of department store fragrances. And that says something. It’s woody and sweet and although not exactly as oud-y as I would have liked it to be, it is a good way to get initiated into the secret society of oud admirers. If you’ll stay there long enough you may get to smell the real musty animalic wood. I think this would be my youngest brother’s next fragrance gift from me, since he’s always been fond of woods (Tam Dao and Dior Homme have become staples in his collection).

7. Cool Water
I’m just as surprised as you are to find this in my list of favourites or at all mentioned on SmellyBlog. . Just for reference: I used to compare Cool Water to a jacuzzi spray cleaner back in the day. Sometimes it’s all about the context, and even the most common, overly used and most synthetic cologne of them all can smell like a special perfume on the right person. I am fortunate to have had that experience and now I am quite fond of it – even though you won’t find me calling it a masterpiece anytime soon.

8. Bvlgari Black
Smoke, rubber and tea are hardly anything that one would imagine would go well together, let alone in a perfume. Bvlgari Black proves that darkness can be warm and cozy even with the strangest elements, and it has that addictive lapsang suchong tea note that echos the tea notes present in most (if not all) Bvlgari’s fragrances. It would make a perfect scent for my oldest brother, Yotam, who is particularly fond of the scents of gas stations and

9. Poivre Samarkand
Another favourite of my peppery brother Noam, it just smells incredible on him and in fact on all the people that I have come across smelling. It turns up more frequently that I would expect on the Latin dance floors which can be a relief in more ways than I can explain (compensation for lack of sense of rhythm is one instance).

10. Guerlain’s Vetiver
A very non-perfumey fragrance – Guerlain’s Vetiver is clean, fresh, citrusy and classy. It can be embraced by nature lovers and fragrance lovers alike, and can please both the country mouse and the city mouse – not to mention both sexes. If my second brother Yohai were to wear a fragrance again, I imagine it to be something like that.

11. Terre d’Hermes
A new discovery for me, and since vetiver is taking a very fond spot in my heart, I don’t feel ashamed of having two of this category here today. It is balanced, elegant, edgy, universal and still masculine enough to want to smell on a man.

12. L’Herbe Rouge
This is my quite personal interpretation of the scent of a man. Of course I have a history with it by now, and it’s too long to be told now. Ironically, it does make me travel in time just like the book that inspired it is all about. Now it belongs to a man of my past and a great love. And when I smell it that bittersweet longing for someone I lost creeps in and makes me wonder if I should ever let a man close to me wear my own fragrances. It is particularly dangerous to seal chapters of my life with my own perfumes.

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Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s day to you all – fathers and grandfathers and everyone that celebrates with you. Check my latest newsletter for some fragrant-fatherly thoughts for the day. For today on SmellyBlog, I decided to make a list of my favourite manly fragrances, which I will post later today as I'm planning to spend as much of the day outdoors as possible. With the 4 (or is it 5?) festivals in town it's going to be a difficult decision making day ;)


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Septimus Piesse, Potpourri and Film Noir

Today was a potpourri experimentation day for me. The trigger was an email from one of my students with an electronic version of Piesse's book “The Art of Perfumery and Method of Obtaining the Odors of Plants” has inspired me to re-visit my perfume collection and search for ideas for various “dry perfumes” – something I meant to do for quite some time. Unfortunately, this electronic edition ( edition by Maria Wilkes) is full of misleading typos that could confuse the reader who is not already familiar with some of the materials (and in some cases the translation of names and terms is not too accurate either); but overall it’s a great resource and an interesting portal to Western perfumery in the mid 19th century.

The book is a well of information, including perfume formulas - many of which are flower replicas that rely on almond oil (bitter almond I presume) to do the trick of transforming the floral bouquet into lily of the valley, sweet pea or what not.

Some of the recipes there for potpourri and sachets are quite simple. For example: a patchouli sachet includes nothing more than 1lb of dry and ground patchouli leaves and 1 dram of patchouli essential oil; and than there are more sophisticated recipes evoking the scent of heliotrope (pounds of powdered orris roots, rose petals, tonka beans, vanilla pods and musk pods with a few drops of almond essential oil - the only case in which the almond actually makes perfect sense for the flower’s odour profile.

I’ve spent the entire morning in my little lab experimenting with my dry herbs and I’ve came up with 3 potpourri/sachets that are not half bad, all of which are based on my existing perfumes, The whole ritual of stuffing a little bag and placing it in between the clothes set me in a completely different pace and state of mind; it set me in that very old-fashioned, Imperialist mind frame of using exotic botanicals sourced elsewhere in little lady-like mousseline bags and so on. Perhaps I should have seen the warning signs when I became smitten with Pashmina scarves... Now I’m officially old: wrapped up in my silk Pashmina I look for secret places to hide my Film Noir potpourri/sachets made of dried patchouli leaves soaked in dollops of vintage patchouli oil and cocoa absolute… It's deliciously old fashioned and modern at the same time. Does this make any sense?

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Friday, June 13, 2008

News from the Nose: ArbitRary Candle, Vetiver Racinettes and Father's Day

Dear Fragrant Friends,

In this newsletter:

  • Father's Day Celebrations
  • New Arrival: ArbitRary Candle
  • Candle Burning Tips
  • Enjoying Scents in Summer
  • Limited Edition: Vetiver Racinettes

Father's Day Celebrations

Two years ago I was fortunate to celebrate Father's Day with my dad going to the Van Dussen Gardens and enjoying a day outdoors among the beautiful plants. This is where I captured this scene of a child sitting on a tree branch, just like in Oscar Wilde's "The Selfish Giant", waiting to be helped down by someone bigger and stronger.

I was talking to my brother today about scents that reminds him of our father. These turned out to be primarily turpentine and paint thinner. He never wore a fragrance and kept a beard so didn't even use as much as an aftershave by way of fragrance products. This is maybe a bit extreme, but most dads, it seems, would go scentless unless they receive gifts of fragrance. And so this is suppose to be the point where I should have a little spiel in my newsletter convincing you to buy a fragrance for your father. Well, I'll be doomed if that's what I'm suppose to do every year on Father's Day for the rest of my career. I trust that you know what your dad likes, and be it an electronic gadget, hardware or a tie, what will really make him happy is your thoughts of him and spending time together with his children.

So instead of advocating for more fragrance shopping (by all means, go for it if you must...) I just wanted to acknowledge that special day coming up on Sunday June 15th and wish you all a Happy Father's Day. It is a secular holiday that celebrates something that is essential and universally meaningful - parenthood, and thanking our parents for all that they did for us. Aside from that, I highly recommend you read my myth-crashing article titled What Makes a Fragrance Masculine?

New arrival: ArbitRary Candle

Ayala Moriel is proud to present the first perfumed candle in our collection: ArbitRary.

ArbitRary candle is based in food-grade soy wax with pure cotton wick. It has a stunning cold throw that is as refreshing and bright as the perfume itself. It burns with its lovely, refreshing

aroma, filling the room gently with its mélange of basil, lime, lemon
verbena, oakmoss and hay.

Each 8oz candle burns for 50-60 hours and retails for $45. They are now available for ordering and will be in stock next week

In all of our products - perfumes, jewelry, teas and now candles - we put quality, integrity and craftsmanship as a top priotiry. When sourcing production from outside of our atelier, we collaborate with independent artisans who are passionate about their art and value quality and integrity in their business just as much as we do. In doing so, we are committed to creating positive change in our world: we give you the best, pure product we can possibly create and also support like-minded artisans and their businesses. This is our way of creating small change in the way business is conducted around the world.
Our perfumed candles are made with attention to purity, quality and detail: each candle is created and hand-poured especially for us by hand by Nikki Sherritt, the talented and passionate artisan candle maker and the founder of Seattle-based, independent candle company Gabriel’s Aunt. The candle was custom-made especially for Ayala Moriel Parfums, based on the perfume formula of ArbitRary. Nikki and I have been working on adding all-natural perfumed candles to

my line since the fall, and we hope that ArbitRary will be received in the enthusiasm it deserves so that we can create more beautiful candles for you (the next candles are going to be gorgeous!).

Candle Burning Tips

To get the most out of your candle, follow these simple steps:

Safety tips:

- Never leave a burning candle unattended

- Place burning candle away from any flammable materials

- Place the candle away from reach of children and pets; keep matches and lighters away from children as well.

- To avoid large flame, always trip the wick before lighting your candle to the recommended length of 1/8”

- Burn the candle away from open windows

How to care for your candle:

- When burning your candle for the first time, burn it for 4 hours straight, or until there a melted wax pool forms on the entire surface of the candle. This will help avoiding the formation of a hole or a “tunnel” in the middle of the candle.

- To ensure an even burn, always trip the wick before burning, and ensure it is centered.

- Burn the candle away from open windows or drafts to avoid uneven burn and enlarged flame

Enjoying Scents in the Summer

In the heat and humidity of summer choosing the right scent to wear isn't easy. There are many factors that don't work in our favour at this time of the year in relation to fragrance:

tends to make scents feel heavy and suffocating. Therefore, try to avoid scents that are already heavy by nature, such as concentrated floral perfumes (particularly the more narcotic notes can come off as overbearing in extreme heat and humidity). Humidity strangely carries the scents in the air and at times even amplifies them. They may not stay for long on your skin with all the sweating but while they do they could linger quite heavily in the air, carried by the moist molecules.
That is why I recommend only the lightest and preferably "dry" scents for those unbearable humid days. Notes such as woods and vetiver, as well as citrus and fragrances with only a light touch of spices and very little floral notes if at all. For example: Bon Zai with its dry vetiver and sandalwood; Lovender's captivating fresh and calming lavender, lemon, sandalwood and iris notes; and last but not least Sabotage - a clean, sophisticated and somewhat soapy concoction of vetiver, tobacco and lemon leaves with a hint of pepper.

Heat increases the evaporation rate of scents and so you may need re-apply scents more often during the summer. Traditionally, citrus and light cologne or eau fraiche type fragrances are worn in the summer. These are very light and not long lasting to begin with and the simple action of applying the scent is perceived as cooling, which adds to their appeal. Aside from using your favourite light summer fragrances you may also want to try using simple floral water to freshen up in the heat of the day. Neroli (orange flower water) and Rosewater are widely available in many Middle-Eastern, Greece and East Indian grocery stores and are fairly inexpensive. Decant some into a spray bottle or a mister and enjoy the cool water on your face, neck and arms. Some other floral waters or hydrosols can be found as well - including sandalwood and vetiver. Likewise, floral waters or pure spring water can be sprinkled on vetiver fans to produce a cooling waft of air.

When it's really hot, I particularly enjoy wearing ArbitRary, with its citrus-herbal notes of basil, lime and verbena; Fetish, bursting with grapefruit, mandarin and rhododendron; and Charisma, with its exotic green-tea, osmanthus and spearmint notes.

Limited Edition: Vetiver Racinettes

Last year, I have conducted an intensive Vetiver Series on SmellyBlog. Aside from articles about the odour profiles of vetiver from different regions, traditional and medicinal uses of vetiver, and reviews of vetiver-centered fragrances - I have shared my own experiences in creating a series of mods for my very own vetiver perfume. One thing lead to another, and after 4 different vetiver versions (Vetiver Blanc, Wilde Vetyver, Vetiver Noir and Vetiver Rouge) - I have finally arrived at a destination that I have never quite planned to find - my very own signature vetiver scent: Vetiver Racinettes.

Vetiver Racinettes was born out of two forces: my curiousity to study this intriguing and versatile note; and a deep need that I can only describe as therapeutic at that time, which lead me specifically to that essence. The result of this vetiver journey is a perfume that contains all of the elements that I've ever loved in the vetiver scents I've tried, as well as my own conclusions from my journey in the route of vetiver. It has the warmth of earth and firey spices and at the same time - the coolness of clay and vetiver curtains sprinkled with water; the medicinal dryness of herbs and grasses and the luxurious tenacity of woods; the sweetness of tarragon and earth with the bitterness of coffee and mud.

Top notes: Black Pepper, Fresh Ginger, Cardamom, Kaffir Lime Leaf
Heart notes: Haitian Vetiver , Nutmeg Asbolute, Coffee, Spikenard
Base notes: Ruh Khus, Indonesian Vetiver, Vetiver Bourbon, Attar Mitti, Tarragon Absolute, Cepes

I had difficult time deciding when to release Vetiver Racinettes; and after consulting with all of my "sniffing bunnies" I have arrived at the conclusion that the summer would be the best time of year to appreciate the calm coolness that it brings while also accentuating the extremist attitude this scent has. And so Vetiver Racinettes is now at your service, as a limited edition for summertime.

Happy Father's Day!

Warm regards,


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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Accidents Happen

Accidents happen. And sometimes they turn out to be more happy that they may have seemed at first. Take today's accident, in which for the first time in my life I broke my own bottles (yes, 3 of them, all at once!) of perfumes. I coudln't for the life of me even recognize the scent that I lost; it smelled like nothing I've smelled before, nothing I've made before to be sure of it.

And that's because it wasn't just one scent; it was two which knocked into each other as they broke their necks, spilling out their guts and mingling with one another.

The two scents where two I would have never in my dreams think of mixing, and the result was intoxicating. If you guess what they were, you'll win a special prize... I'm not sure what that could be... How about those two perfumes mixed together in equal amounts just to prove my point?

On another note, my day was filled today with a photo shoot for a really, really cool display gadget for my perfumes; and also I made some amazing teas from some of those incredible materials I had to buy from the market for the photoshoot. One tea was jasmine green tea mixed with spearmint and omsanthus blossoms; the second being lots of freshly sliced lemongrass with a hint of lemon verbena and jasmine green tea. Both were very refreshing and thirst-clenching.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

ArbitRary Candle

Last night the first sample of my perfumed candle arrived. You can imagine my feeling opening the package and discovering in it something that I did not make and that smelled exactly like my perfume ArbitRary... I was ecstatic.

The candle was custom-made for me by the talented artisanal candle-maker Nikki Sherritt of Gabriel’s Aunt. Nikki and I have been working on adding all-natural perfumed candles to my line since the fall. The first candle we worked on was Bois d'Hiver for the winter. The candle is not quite ready and we both felt it was time to create a different candle. I have been fantasizing of an ArbitRary candle ever since I’ve smelled Nikki’s masterfully crafted perfumed candles (and her Summer Vacation in particular convinced me that ArbitRary would be gorgeous in a candle form). The results haven’t failed: the candle has a cold throw that is nearly identical to the perfume. It burns with its lovely, refreshing aroma, filling the room gently with its mélange of basil, lime, lemon verbena, oakmoss and hay.

Each 8oz candle burns for 50-60 hours and retails for $45. They are now available for ordering and will be in stock next week.

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I have always intended to review Paris in a larger context of a feature series about Sophia Grojsman and her (many) roses. There is perhaps no other perfumer who uses roses so often and in such a distinct manner as she does. So this is by no means going to be the last time Paris will be mentioned in SmellyBlog. Hopefully, by the time I’ll write about it next I would have actually been to the city and could draw from my own personal experience rather than that of books I’ve read and movies I’ve watched.

YSL Paris is the Paris of everybody fantasies. It’s the Paris Carrie Bradshaw hopes to fulfill a true love in before she learns how lonely can beauty be (especially when you don’t know the language and your lover is a selfish Russian painter that looks like a ballet dancer); it’s the Paris that Parisians criticized was too fluffy and pretty in the film Amelie. You will not, however, find any of the darkness and romantic idealistic poverty of Les Miserables or the conspiracies of The Black Tulip. If that’s what you are looking for, you will be better off overdosing on Rive Gauche; or many other French perfumes that I can think of but don’t have room to list here.

Paris is pink, pretty, and rosy. It’s a day without a cloud and love without quarrels. It’s too good to be true. And that’s because it is a fantasy, thought up by a Russian perfumer for the most Parisian and French couturier alive at the time. There probably isn’t any better house to have made a perfume of that name. And this is also probably the most popular from this house.

Paris has Grojsman’s signature rose-peach- vanilla -violet accord. It opens bright and clear, with sheer citrus and peach and while it is sweet it is certainly not as sweet as other perfumes from that genre (i.e.: Bvlgari, Nahema, Tresor). There is something just a little more lighthearted about it. As the brightness of rose bergamot and peach dissipate, the more powdery aspects of rose take over, backed up with violet and the seductive vanillic whispers of heliotropin. As sweet as the base may be, it still has that dry edge to it, from woody notes of cedar and sandalwood. After a couple of hours of wearing, Paris becomes smoother again, this time developing a hint of wet-petal texture, the rosy sweetness tampered with a certain coolness (perhaps the mimosa?). The last breaths of Paris are redolent of dead roses whose life preserved in a glass coffin filled with amber and musk.

Paris may be too pretty for my style and taste, but it sure can put a smile on my face.

Top notes: Bergamot, Geranium, hawthorn, Hyacinth
Heart notes: Mimosa, Rose, Violet, Lily of the valley
Base notes: Cedar, Sandal, Heliotrope, Amber

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Monday, June 09, 2008

Rive Gauche

La rive gauche, originally uploaded by FOTOURBANA.

Today I wore Rive Gauche for the first time. Despite the many good things I’ve heard about it I was never drawn to it. Perhaps it was the plain, matter-of-factly canister in which it is stored; or it may be the fact that adehydic florals, even the most iconic ones, are not exactly my style. I’m ashamed to admit that it has never managed to cross the scent-strip barrier and concur my wrist until YSL’s death and this humble tribute I’m paying him on SmellyBlog.

Rive Gauche is the name of the Left Bank of the Sienne river which divides the city of Paris to the northern “right bank” and the southern “left bank”. This area is considered one of the most romantic and artistic areas of Paris, which was home to artists such as Picasso and Matisse, writers Hemingway and Fiztgerald and of course the infamous existentialists – Sartre and my favourite of them all, the writer, composer, lyricist, engineer, jazz musician and existentialist Boris Vian.

The perfume by this name was created in 1970, 4 years after YSL has invented the “ready-to-wear” concept with his “Rive Gauche” line, which was first sold in his Rive Gauche boutique. By creating this line YSL has made fashion available to everyone and many will argue that this has changed the world in more ways than there is space here right now.

The perfume is a chic and classy aldehydic floral with a cool woody base surrounding mostly Haitian vetiver. Aside from vetiver, I can’t descern any particular note a they are all very well blended in a way that characterizes many French perfumes from the 1940’s and 1950’s. It starts with a hint of green and gives off an aldehydic floral roundness. I can’t say any of the florals stands out in particular, except perhaps for the rose. And it is still a rather cool rose. The base is where the theme of the perfume resides – mostly with Haitian vetiver as I mentioned earlier, with its cool and tart presence that feels clean and cozy, furnished and outdoorsy all at once. Sandalwood is another note that is quite dominant (perhaps this is the reason why Rive Gauche to resembles Bois des Iles, even if just a tad) and later on the bitterness of tonka bean creeps in, almost convincing me that I’m actually smelling a Guerlinade.

While I appreciate the fact that Rive Gauche is well made and like the fact that the emphasis is on the jus rather than the packaging (that being said, the thought that went into the packaging is significant and makes a fashion statement in its utilitarian approach – it was designed to be easy to pack into a suitcase; a real advantage for the adventurous, traveling career woman – the perfect fashion accessory to go with Le Smoking). Perhaps if it was a tad more dry I would have liked it more; but than again, the scent I’m reviewing is most likely the reformulated version. If you know anything about how what was more original about the original Rive Gauche, please do leave a comment.

The notes according to the Perfume Addict database:

Top notes: Aldehydes, Bergamot, Greens, Peach
Heart notes: Magnolia, Jasmine, Gardenia, Geranium, Iris, Ylang-ylang, Rose, Lily of the Valley
Base notes: Mysore Sandalwood, Haitian Vetiver, Tonka Bean, Musk, Moss, Amber

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Happy Shavuot!

Happy Sahvuot/Bikurim/Hag Matan Torah!

The day was mostly spent baking while the evening was spent celebrating with friends and eating the fruit of my labour - blinztes, cheescake and cheese and wine of course. It's a cheesy holiday ;)

For those not in the know, Shavuot occurs 7 weeks after Passover, which is when Moses got down from Mount Sinai with the Torah and gave it to the people of Israel. It also coincides with the beginning of the wheat harvest season and celebrates the first crops of summer - hence the first fruit, vegetables, wheat and the infant stock animals would be brought as offering to the temple when it was still standing. Nowadays, what we just stay up late for Tikkun Leil Shavuot and/or eat cheese...

As far as fragrance goes - since the weather was so un-summery and inappropriate for the holiday (at this time of the year in Israel it's unbearably hot and the air is full of little black flies that were disturbed from their home inside the wheat straw stems) I wore my interpretation of In A Station of the Metro which reminded me of the beginning of spring when the weather is mostly gloomy and is only cheered up by the presence of myriads of pink cherry blossoms.

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Saturday, June 07, 2008


The greek hero 2, originally uploaded by fiumeazzurro.

Kouros is one of those powerhouse perfumes of the 80’s that seem to divide people and rarely gets a lukewarm reaction. The only exception is my brother: all he’s got to say about it was “it’s nice”. Perhaps the fact that he likes dosing in limitless amounts of Old Spice on a daily basis might explain a thing or two.

Kouros is unmistakably sexual and it’s impossible for me to see it in any other way. Without smelling literally of sex (as in “Magnificent Secretions”), it is dead-on rough, raw, dirty outdoor sex smell.

I first tried Kouros over a year ago and found it too potent for the time so I stayed away from it for a while. Today, coming back to it to continue my tribute week to YSL I immediately remembered what Katie of Scentzilla said about Poison and the word “humping” kept popping into my mind uncontrollably. Another thing that I couldn’t help thinking about was the orgy scene of Pan in Jitterbug Perfume. Kouros doesn’t just dry-hump your leg, it goes all the way even if uninvited, half animal and half human, it gets all messy and is not in the least apologetic about it either.

The notes are not easy to isolate in my mind and there is not much literature about it on the internet either. The most comprehensive list of notes can be found on Bois de Jasmin (and I don’t know what’s the source for it, neither can I pin point all of these notes either). So I’ll offer you as usual my attempt at describing the evolution of the fragrance as objectively as possible (if it ever is).

kouros, originally uploaded by wvfonseca.

Kouros opens with an expansive array of notes that are at once herbaceous, spicy and sharp (and might be perceived as “fresh” by some). There is a sense of familiarity at first, resemblence to perhaps another masculine perfume (it could be either English Leather or Tabac Original – I could not find my references as some of my perfumes had to be temporarily stored away, so will have to check later) but at the same time it is nearly unbearably potent as well as awkward. Something about it makes me think of the original Chypre compositions, those made in the island of Cyprus from a mix of dried herbs and a paste of oakmoss and labdanum and resins. The notes are all very well blended as they have coupled with each other and have lost their distinct identities. I can sense the presence of familiar Mediterranean mountain herbs such as sage and perhaps bay leaf or rosemary, lavender and wormwood. The spices I cannot make out but one note is distinctively present – the intensely animalic fragrance of honey combs of dark, rich honey from wild thorny flowers with the scent of propolis still lingering in. It is almost sickeningly sweet and medicinal at the same time. Another note that stands out is that of labdanum, a resinous, ambery oleoresin from the rockrose bushes (also grown on the Mediterranean mountains and hillsides) and a pulsating undercurrent of costus, with its musky goat-like horns that is perhaps the reason why Pan jumps into the picture. As the perfume settles on the skin, the honey and labdanum get rounder and warmer, and the spices and herbs calm down and let go of their sharpness. Indolic notes take the stage with jasmine and civet being the most prominent and only hingts or rose-geranium that give it a more complex, perfumey bouquet. There is also a hint of dryness at the base, though still animalic, from what I believe to be a tobacco note. The drydown is mostly honeyed-ambery yet with the animalic aspect still in place and some dryness of oakmoss and tobacco. Overall, Kouros is sunny, heavy, spicy Chypre reminiscent of blood and sweat.

Top notes: Sage, Bay Leaf, Wormwood, Lavender
Heart notes: Honey, Jasmine, Rose Geranium
Base notes: Labdanum, Costus, Musk, Civet, Tobacco, Patchouli

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Friday, June 06, 2008


Yves Saint Laurent, 1971, originally uploaded by Diogioscuro.

Upon applying M7 for the first time, my brother Noam was instantly reminded of a kumzits bonfire and an unidentifiable perfume (my guess: Oud Abu Dabi but when I let him smell them side by side he denied any resemblance). Unfortunately Noam’s skin soaks up fragrances very quickly and M7 was no exception. But before it evaporated completely I did catch a whiff in which M7 smelled very similar to Ambre Sultan with it’s oregano-labdanum accord (my guess is that the amber and rosemary in M7 create a similar effect that may show up better on some skins).

On my skin, M7 starts boldly oud-y and medicinal in a good way. Uniquely woody and definitely a scent that stands out in comparison to any other mainstream men’s fragrances. It is as close to Arabian oud perfume oils as a department store fragrance ever gotten, and that was before niche fragrances have gained the momentum they have reached today. It lasts at this state for a good 2-4 hours at which point it becomes overly sweet as the synthetic musk base takes over. On my skin this is when it turns into raspberry candy. Inbetween the medicinal agarwood and the sugared raspberry there is a short phase where a mineral note of vetiver emerges, dry and almost salty. M7 was created in 2002 and was the 7th YSL fragrance for men (hence the name) and the first scent that Tom Ford creatively directed for the brand. Although marketed for men (the infamous full-frontal male nude is unlikely to be forgotten, and perhaps was intended for masking the previous expose of YSL himself as you can see in the above photograph from 1971). It was designed by noses alberto Morillas and Jacques Cavalier. The notes are said to be the following (though based on my experience I can only assert the presence of agarwood, vetiver, amber and/or labdanum, musk ands raspberry):

Top Notes: Bergamot, Mandarin, Rosemary
Middle Notes: Vetiver, Agarwood
Base Notes: Amber, Musk, Mandrake root

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New Tea Sizes

The next batch of teas will be ready by June 27th, all in time for the next Portobello West market.

This time, we will be packaging them in smaller tins of 1 oz. instead of the 2oz. The price is also going to be lower - $15 per tin (instead of the original price of $30 per tin of the 2oz). You may still order them in the larger size if you wish, and we still have only 1 tin left of Immortelle l'Amour tea in that size (the last of Gaucho was snatched yesterday night from my studio and I don't even have any left for myself and my guests!).

The new tea size makes for a perfect gift. In fact, because of the shape of the box, which is shallower, it will be from now on be presented with a bow tied satin ribbon. No additional wrapping will be necessary... I will be posting photos here as soon as the new batches arrive.

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Thursday, June 05, 2008

Y, Oh Y

ysl black heart, originally uploaded by Nubby Twiglet.

Today as promised I am attempting to review Y based on only one application that the ladies at Shifeon have spared me from only one of the two packaged (and cellophane wrapped) bottles they have on the shelf of in their Robson street shop.

If Yvresse reminded me of bubbly whispers of Chant d’Aromes, Y immediately shouts the chant out loud. The similarity here is not in the base notes but rather in peachy top notes and the floral bouquet – the innocent yet intoxicatingly sweet honeysuckle and gardenia. There is also a slap of green aldehydes which give it a dominant, bold entrance which is distinct and at the same time similar to other big-time green aldehydic chypres – there is a reference to Miss Dior and Ma Griffe yet without the intensely animalic base; the brisk sharpness that can be found in Private Collection and it also reminds me somehow of AnaisAnais and Laura Ashley’s No. 1.

Although it starts off very floral Y turns to be a lot drier than expected as it develops on the skin. The big statements of gardenia and honeysuckle are replaced by a more sophisticated dry and sober disposition. The heart notes reveal a more green and dry aspect of the rose and the hyacinth, anchored by the dry and green notes of vetiver glimpsing from its base. The phase is not as mossy and Chypric as might be expected. There is very little presence if at all of oakmoss not to mention the other notes listed. It is more woody and dry than anything else - almost to the point of becoming leathery. Vetiver and patchouli are in charge for quite sometime, before the dryout arrives with the re-emergence of warmth by way of oakmoss, civet and benzoin.

Top notes: Peach, Honeysuchle, Gardenia
Heart notes: Narcissus, Hyacinth, Rose, Orris
Base notes: Oakmoss,Patchouli, Vetiver, Civet, Benzoin

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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Yvresse (formerly known as Champagne)

A fairy comes out of nowhere and offers you one application from an unfamiliar perfume bottle. It may be your next favourite perfume or it may be a scrubber. What will you do? Will you have it sprayed on a scent stripe or on your skin?

Please take this review with a grain of doubt. It is based on only one wearing of Yresse. And it’s the first time in a long time (if there ever were such time) that I have applied a perfume to my skin without ever smelling it before. Not on a scent stripe. Not from a vial. Not in a magazine stripe. Nowhere. There are not a single tester of Yvresse in the entire city of Vancouver. In fact there is only one store that sells it and the supply seems extremely low. The shop ownder at Shifeon was kind enough to pull it out of the cellophane-wrapped box and spray me once on each wrist so I can judge for myself (and hopefully come back for more and pay for it next time). She also promised to do the same with Y (another perfume that has become so unpopular in Vancouver that it is no longer carried here).

Yvresse opens bubbly and sparkling yet at the same time also powdery and with an underlying dryness that grabs you by surprise. It has the fuzzy texture of unripe peach skin, crisp and for some reason this misleading sensation of being soft while in fact it is rough and sober. The original name Champagne describes it perfectly as it has all the characteristics of the fancy sparkling wine, including the fruitiness and the elegant white-wine dryness.

And indeed, Yvresse develops like wine, with very subtle changes between the nose and the body being quite subtle. The bubbly, peachy and cool qualities are maintained throughout its life on the skin. And the underlining notes, although a classic chypre accord of oakmoss, vetiver and patchouli are very light and subtle in nature. It is most similar to Chant d’Aromes by Guerlain – a very light, albeit melancholy floral chypre. With its touch of roses and sophisticated soft powder, Yvresse also winks towards another creation by Sophia Grojsman for YSL – Paris. However there is something more original about its overall composition, that makes it different from the other more bold Grojsman perfumes I have experienced – it is just more sheer and lighthearted and romantic without taking itself so seriously.

Thankfully, Yvresse seems like one of those rare occasions of love from first sniff. Perhaps it’s not a great love but just a summer fling, but I am definitely feeling the love emanating from my wrists on this day spent with Yvresse.

The notes, according to Perfume Addicts database are:

Top notes: Nectarine, Mint, Anise

Heart notes: Blue Rose, Rose Otto, Lychee

Base notes: Oakmoss, Vetiver, Patchouli

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008


When Yves Saint Laurent released Opium in 1977, he didn’t really invent anything new. By that time, women and men have both been exposed to the concept of a dry, spicy oriental that captures the senses to the point of tingling numbness. Tabu in 1932 unleashed the concept of a forbidden concoction of spices over a dry animalic base of patchouli and civet. And 20 years later an innocent bath oil called Youth Dew created a dangerous stir of feminine independence with its deadly dose of both eugenol and indole.

What YSL did do was take the concept of the dry oriental and re-package and re-brand it as a drug. Although there is the element of seduction of the other sex in most of the ads I’ve seen, for the most part Opium ads played on the seduction of oneself, by the perfume itself. The bottle was designed as a vessel for potent drug (taking it’s inspiration from both Chinese opium snuff bottles and Samurai Inro), and I can’t think of any other instances when I actually identified with the look on the actress’s face after anointing her skin with this liquid: her eyes closed as she is transported by heavy sedation I can already sense her heartbeats slowing down and the dulled pain of lost love replaced by hallucinations:

I suppose there was no better time for Opium than the end of the 70’s, by than substance abuse has become pretty much socially acceptable by a large part of the Western culture (at least when it came to cannabis) But all the same managed to create quite a controversy, and have continued to do so even recently (2000), with the ad starring Sophie Dahl in a very revealing attire (she’s wearing nothing but gold stilettos) posing in a manner that probably made those who opposed it to think she’s been just drugged and can be taken advantage of by whomever happen to pass by. By the way, am I the only one who sees the similarity to the poster of the movie "Perfume"?

Opium as a perfume created a doorway between the past and into the (than) future of loud powerhouse perfumes of the 80’s (Poison included); and to prove my point here is Linda Evangelista armed with shoulder pads while shopping for Opium in a Chinese market:

And as a scent it is indeed seductive to the point of being sedative. That can be related to the overdose of eugenol, a molecule that is present in clove and is in part responsible for the anesthetic properties of this spice. The spices used are ancient and their concentration is so high that it could come across as medicinal. In fact, I have heard someone was using Opium body lotion to relieve arthritis pain (do consult your doctor first if you intend to rely on Opium to cure your ailments!).

I have to admit that my Opium substance abuse is pretty limited to the “Opium Lite” of the summer versions, Fleur de Shanghai being one of my all-time favourite perfumes.
Opium in its parfum form (which is what I am reviewing here) can be likened to a smoldering smoke of incense and spices and a thick chai tea. It opens with clove buds stuck in the peel of dried orange, familiar like a pomander and intensely so. Pimento berries also add a more complex aspect to the mostly-eugenolic character of the opening; pepper suggests dryness and cinnamon adds sweetness.

The heart notes are floral, most notably orange blossom and carnation. But to say the heart feels floral would be an exaggeration. Although jasmine, rose and ylang ylang are present, they are hidden behind plenty of carnation and more cloves; the floral notes in this oriental in particular have the role of smoothing things out without sticking out or showing their true colours.

The underlying resins are what make Opium stand apart from Tabu and Youth Dew though; if Tabu concentrated on the patchouli and vetiver and Youth Dew is all about indole and eugenol (even more civet than in Tabu) – Opium returns to the cradle of perfume civilization by using a large proportion of opoponax with its powdery, animalic and resinous-sweet qualities, backed up by the dry and sweet bitterness of myrrh and the woody-dry qualities of patchouli. There is a touch of sweetness that is never overly done originated in vanilla and benzoin resin. Both notes serve to accentuate the hint of sweetness present in opoponaz and myrrh. There is no animalic element here that I’m aware of. The pairing of eugenol and resins creates a deep reaction, perhaps connected to the history of incense and Chinese herbal medicine which is quite appropriate with the name borrowing from one of the most ancient and potent drugs used in human history (it was used as far back as in the Sumerian civilization, which is also the oldest civilization to have used incense).

And what’s more interesting - Opium could have easily been an all-natural perfume. Despite the fact that it does include synthetics, it is entirely the natural notes that create the “Opium” character – neither the aldehydes nor the coumarin are responsible for that unique effect.

Top notes: Clove, Pepper, Pimento, Orange

Heart notes: Carnation, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Rose, Ylang Ylang

Base notes: Opoponax, Myrrh, Patchouli, Benzoin, Vanilla

And last but not least is this irresistible spoof ad. It is only now after Yves Saint Laurent's death I understand that perhaps the choice for the name of this perfume is a little more personal than I thought before. It is more than just probable that he has chosen to draw from his own life experience and give it a different interpretation, through fragrance (And Kate Moss is notorious for several other things besides being the queen of perfume ads over the past 2 decades... I simply couldn't resist posting this!). In the context of addiction and drug abuse, perfume has a very harmless role, even if easily suggestive of both seduction and addiction by the mere fact that is usually applied to the pulse points and ultimately inhaled afterwards.

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