Saturday, March 31, 2012

Magazine Street

Just Hanging Around by Yonaton13
Just Hanging Around, a photo by Yonaton13 on Flickr.

In a balancing act, sweet florals and earthy musks create one of the most harmonious and interesting perfumes. Simultaneously wearable and intriguing, it evokes summer nights spent outdoors, armed with mosquito repellent, and enjoying the murmurs of grass creatures at nights and the whispers of climbing vines and nocturnal butterflies.

Beginning with the sweetness of white magnolia and the effervescent, clean-woody linalool of ho-leaf. Don’t let Magazine Streets’ initial Southern Belle demeanors fool you with her crisply starched linens and satin-bowed hairdo: these fruity, innocent white petals are only one part of the equation; Her other half is a street musician containing green yet sensual botanical musks, husky vetiver, just a smidgeon of patchouli only ever so slightly sweetened with the complexity of woodsy-smooth vanilla absolute. And the most beautiful thing about it? The whole thing diminuendos smoothly into a skin-scent that can become deceivingly a part of you.

It’s no secret: Magazine Street is my favourite of all the Strange Invisible Perfumes I’ve sampled. It was love at first sniff several years ago in Venice, and I had to get a sample online, which soon should be replaced by a proper supply – probably the EDP spray, because I find this format gives the line much more justice than the dense, dark extraits which often suffocate the essences (this is true to most natural perfume lines, I’m afraid).

Top notes: Ho Wood
Heart notes: White Magnolia, Jasmine
Base notes: Vetiver, Botanical Musks, Vanilla, Patchouli

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Villoresi's Patchouli

Cockspur Patchouli by dinesh_valke
Cockspur Patchouli, a photo by dinesh_valke on Flickr.

Indeed, Villoresi’s Patchouli is musty and earthy as you would expect from Pathcouli, but the Patchouli does not play as dominant role as does spikenard: there is a whiff of herbaceous-peppery patchouli top notes, which is instantly replaced by the musty, earthy dirt-and-moist-hay scent of spikenard. It does mellow a bit and reveals some more sweeter-patchouli at the dry down, and becomes a hint more powdery and sweet. However, if I would name this single-note composition I would choose to call it Spikenard.
Spikenard has a very distinctive aroma, so if you love the musty scent of moist earth after rain, you would love this perfume.
I love spikenard, but it does not wear well with my body chemistry. Another note of appreciation I have for this perfume is that it smells very natural, which is a quality I love about a perfume. It is sincere and non-overwhelming.

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview for Product Abuser

Ela Whitten interviewed me for her excellent blog, Product Abuser. The article is titled White With Passion - and her favourite scent of the ones I picked for her to try is White Potion!

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Winner Announcement & Update

No Monkey Monday today, as my 11th anniversary sale continues (and keeps me too busy)... We will be back next week with another curious smelly anecdote, and a great fragrant giveaway!
And - we're also looking for a couple of the latest winners to claim their prize... (Portia, I'm hoping you're reading this so you can wear Sous la Vent on your next drag show!). And the winner for last week's Spring Equinox giveaway is Moecha!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

11th Anniversary Sale!

213/365 Another Year by brandonhuang
213/365 Another Year, a photo by brandonhuang on Flickr.

For those of you not on my newsletter list - you may not know yet that today we are celebrating 11 years of business, making the finest perfumes and custom scents, collaborating with other artists & designers, and having so much fun doing so!

When purchasing anything on our website, we'll be giving 11% off, with a special "happy birthday" code. How does this work? Simply leave the comment "Happy Birthday" in the "comments to seller" box, and we will send you a refund accordingly. In addition, shipping is free :-)
This offer goes till March 27th at midnight!

* Not valid with other offers, such as our wardrobe discounts and sample packages (as these are already steeply discounted).

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Portobello West Spring 2012 Market this weekend!

Portobello West is back with our 6th Spring Opener this weekend!

It is the first of 4 seasonal full-weekend fashion markets this year, all taking place at the Creekside Recreational Centre (1 Athletes Way in the scenic and brand-new Olympic Village neighbourhood in False Creek - just a few minutes walk from Main St. SkyTrain Station and about 15min walk from Olympic Village station on the Canada Line).

We're excited to have our own booth (rather than just a table) for the very first time, and have worked for months re-designing our display and making this weekend a memorable experience!
And, my booth is happily nestled between two of my favourite ladies - Creampuffs by GG and Sofia Clothing!

For those of you who've never been to the market - it's been a monthly art and fashion market for its first 5 years, and in this year it's will be held as 4 seasonal, longer and bigger events instead. You can find here anything your heart desires - and all made locally by artists and designers who call this their passion: clothes, accessories, leatherwork, jewellery, art, body & beauty products, pottery, floral designs - and perfumes by yours truly!

For my regular Portobellas who've been visiting the market monthly for the past 4 years, and have become accustomed to my full-range of products on display, be prepared that only select perfumes and products have been curated for this show, in order to accomodate the nature of the set-up and make your choices easier. So --- instead of all 50 fragrances, there will be only 8!

So if you're worried that I won't be bringing what you were hoping to shop for - please drop me a line and I will make sure that you get your perfume shopping needs covered.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

24HRS Features Hanami Perfume

Hanami perfume is featured in today's 24HRS beauty section, recommended for both men and women: "Floral and woody, this nature lover's scent is just as sexy on men as it is on women. And because it's not pumped full of chemicals, just a dab of this romance enhancing, pure essence will do".

This spring it's available for the first time in 15ml EDP ($180), and we have a very limited edition of the pure extrait in the beautiful flacons ($300).

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Monday, March 19, 2012


Sandy Spring by Ayala Moriel
Sandy Spring, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.
Spring is officially here today, with the Vernal Equinox happening tonight.
Not that it stopped the weather from acting all crazy - we had a few little blizzards today in Vancouver.
Because the weather has been so cold and unpredictable, I've been actually wearing more spicy and heavy scented perfumes recently - burning copal woodchips, and enjoying a dab of rich natural perfumes by my colleagues and friends: Encens Blanc by Rebel & Mercury, and Secret Garden by Aftelier. Both are beautiful and comforting - yet inspiring. Secret Garden also happens to be the star of the bedtime story-time with my daughter - so it all fits nicely.

What are you wearing to celebrate this day? I'm talking perfume, of course...

It's not exactly a Monkey Monday topic, but if you leave a comment, you'll enter to win a roll-on of Devotee Gardenia by DSH Essence Oils.

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sous la Vent Winner

Congratulations to Portia x - winner of our Monkey Monday giveaway from last week.
You won a 5ml decant of the Guerlain boutique exclusive Sous la Vent - from my own collection. Please don't forget to email me your address so I can send your prize!
Sweet dreams :-)

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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Must Read: Smelliest Cities In The World

Humans have been lead by their noses to travel across the world to seek out exotic spices, herbs and perfumes. This article by Chandler Burr on GQ Magazine reminded me of the part of traveling which is least mentioned - the smell of mundane life in distant cities - or in familiar ones.

I haven't been to all of the ones listed, but my own list will certainly include Jerusalem (Ancient stones and dust, baked bread and cotton clothes on the lines), Montreal (all I can say is that it smells wide open and free - which is a sign I should pay it a visit soon!), and London (which I think Chandler has described very accurately! It's very sentimental, old fashioned smelling, with old furniture, flower gardens and everything British). Paris is certainly not the best smelling, which might explain why it had evolved into such an important perfume-using capital... And neither are New York and Tel Aviv, although that wouldn't stop me for visiting either again and having a wonderful time there.

What are your most favourite - and least favourite - smelling cities? Can you describe their smell?

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Aphrodisiac of the Day: Orange Blossom

Orange Blossom by Ayala Moriel
Orange Blossom, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

"When Adar comes in - happiness is increased" (mi'she'nichnas Adar marbin be'simcha).
Adar is the 6th month of the Jewish calendar (or the last... Depending if you start counting from Rosh Hashana or Passover!), and it's when Purim is celebrated. It also has a very close name to the Hebrew name for citrus - Hadar.

And - low and behold - it's also the season for citrus to bloom in the Mediterranean region where I come from. At this time of the year - end of March and all through April - orange flowers and all things citrus permeate the air with their euphoric aroma, making even the gloomiest of souls feel all cheerful and optimistic.

Orange blossoms are a long-known aphrodisiacs, and they are the only flower I've chosen for the series this year, because although they are an exquisite and costly perfume, they are also readily available in their edible version: orange flower water. These are be readily sought at most Middle Eastern, Greek and Persian as well as East Indian grocers, and should be stored in the fridge of every foodie and perfumista and anyone seeking for pure natural beauty. I use these beautiful waters to spritz on my face every night (and also in the morning or during the day when it's really dry - for example: when traveling by air). The fragrance is reviving, soothing and will make you feel 400% better than before applying it... Use it on its own after you cleansed or simply washed your face with water; or before applying your usual hydrating concoctions (I use my own handmade facial elixir of nourishing botanical oils).

All citrus blossoms smell heavenly, but the species used for perfume are from Citrus aurantium - the same tree that provides us with bitter orange peel oil (through expression of the zest), petitgrain bigarade (steam distillation of the leaves, twigs and often also the buds), and Neroli (the steam distilled essential oil of the same flowers). Furthermore, the distillate water (orange flower water) which I have just mentioned are processed with a solvent to produce an unusual product called orange flower water absolute. It's a most resourceful tree, as you can see!

The absolute is floral and citrusy all at once, but richer, sweeter and warmer than the fresh and innocent, honeyed Neroli. It is opulent, intoxicating and considered one of the "white florals" along with tuberose, ylang ylang, jasmine and narcissus.

Orange blossom absolute shares some qualities with jasmine absolute (due to presence of both indole and methyl anthranilate) and is round, soft and slightly tart - in my opinion is very true to the fresh orange blossoms, with some herbaceous and rich, honeyed undertones. It is an extremely versatile essence, and is used in both Oriental and floral compositions for women, where it's luscious, narcotic floral qualities are accentuated; and is also a wonderful floral for masculine scents as well as fresh and dry Eau de Cologne types.

Orange flowers have been traditionally used to scent bridal bouquets, and Neroli perfume was "prescribed" to brides on their white-wedding night to reduce the stress and anxiety before losing their virginity. It's relaxing and stress-relieving qualities are also put into use with children - in the south of France children drink a concoction of steamed milk with honey and orange flower hydrosol to induce a restful sleep.

At another time, neroli was used so often by Italian prostitutes, that the smell became extremely associated with promiscuity (similarly to how White Musk has become in the 80's and 90's)... Thankfully, those days are over and we can enjoy orange blossom's seductive qualities with no negative associations.

There are countless recipes for orange flower water in desserts and beverages. It is widely used in various Middle Eastern pastries (baklava) and spoon desserts (Malabi), not to mention many halva and various East Indian sweets. Another creative way to use orange flower is in fruit salads (try it over strawberries or cantaloupe!) and even in vegetable salad vinigraitte for a refreshing yet surprisingly floral aroma.

Aphrodisiac perfumes containing notable amounts of orange blossom: Amaranthine (Penhalligon's), Bois d'Hiver, Chinatown (Bond No. 9), Fleurs d'Oranger (Serge Lutens), Jean Paul Gautier Classique, Jitterbug (Opus Oils), La Chasse aux Papillon (l'Artisan Parfumeur), For Her (Narciso Rodriguez), Obsession (Calvin Klein), Opium (YSL), Orchid (Aftelier), Parfum Privé (Aftlier), Popy Moreni, Private Collection (Estee Lauder), Razala, Schizm, Silences (Jacomo), Tolu (Ormonde Jayne), Vent Vert (Balmain), Zohar

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Monkey Monday: Smell No Evil?

smell no Evil? by Polokampo
smell no Evil?, a photo by Polokampo on Flickr.

Although my federal-government lawyer friend is yet to forward me the Canadian federal government's policy on fragrance in the workplace -- I figured I'll dedicate today's post to workplace policies on wearing fragrances. A touchy subject, no doubt. So let's spill the beans on the current state of affairs in your own workplace. Are you allowed to wear fragrance? Are there any rules? Have you ever broken them (and have anyone actually noticed)?

I'm happy to share with you that I'm not allowed to wear any perfume whatsoever to work, in order to keep my nose unprejudiced, and my skin free and willing to absorb whatever I might need to test on myself on any given day... Haha. I know this is cheating. But you should know that being a perfumer is not all roses. Sometime it's also jasmines... Sorry! Couldn't help it!
But seriously - sometimes we can't just wear whatever we feel like in the morning. Which is not always easy, because I'm no skinny chef - I like to actually wear perfume for my own enjoyment...

Oh, and the giveaway for today: A 5ml decant of Sous la Vent (Guerlain) from my very own perfumista collection, snatched at their flagship boutique on Champs Elysees.

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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Black Rosette

Ancient, arcane and dark, like the light of a far away nebula whose light is of stars long dead.
Black Rosette parfum begins with hints of dark Moroccan mint tea and rosewater, but is mostly redolent of antique Chinese wooden cabinets, camphor and patchouli. The rose stays throughout the composition, but it's in the background, mingling the camphoreous and woodsy notes together rather than standing in the limelight.

Top notes: Spearmint, Camphor
Heart notes: Rose
Base notes: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Black Tea

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Notorious Mini Winner (Last Week's Monkey Monday)

Winner of our Monkey Monday for last week was Denyse, who will receive a mini of Notorious in the mail (please email me your mailing address)...
Also, we are yet to hear from our winner of last week's giveaway (Aftelier's Cassis), so the prize will have to go to the next in the lucky-line: Lindsay!

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Friday, March 09, 2012

Gourmandises: Otherwordly OOAK Gourmand

Gourmandises is a new OOAK parfum oil.
This custom perfume features notes of wintery maple-syrup from the everlasting flower, paired with enigmatic licorice, velvety-smooth vanilla and roasted coconut and pecan. Ambergris and exotic resins and spices create a mysterious, dark gourmand that is otherworldly.
Comes as a perfume oil only - 10ml roll-on based in pure jojoba oil.

Top notes: Aniseed, Star Anise, Sweet Orange
Heart notes: Cinnamon, Clove Bud, Basil
Base notes: Patchouli, Vanilla, Tarragon Absolute, Cèpes, Myrrh, Vetiver, Immortelle

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Happy Purim!

Hammantashen & Massapan by Ayala Moriel
Hammantashen & Massapan, a photo by Ayala Moriel on Flickr.

The last batch of Hammantashen got out of the oven, and my home is filled with the scent of warm poppyseed, vanilla and lemon zest.

Wishing you all a happy Purim - and just out of curiosity - tell us what you dressed up as, or what you're wearing as a fragrance this holiday. Anything that screams "Carnival" or reminds you of Queen Esther or King Achashverosh?


Persian Lily

Lily by Fahad Ali Shahid
Lily, a photo by Fahad Ali Shahid on Flickr.

I’ve decided to wear Persica today on the notion that this might be just what a the Persian queen Vashti would try on when she refused to dance naked in front of Achashverosh’s guests.

The premise of finding Perisan white lilac in here was soon forgotten, as the perfume’s airy rosewood and sweet vanilla were overcome by indolic jasmine lurking in the background. Warm cardamom makes its presence very clear from the beginning, giving mystery and intrigue, and the ylang ylang is very quiet but works its silent alchemy on the skin. It soon becomes more of a jasmine and vanilla perfume, before it takes its final alchemical transformation into a Madonna lily in full bloom. Naturally, the salycilic notes are far more muted and palatable than any other commercial lily would have ever been able to do. If you liked the vanilla and lily contrast in Vanille Galante, this would be a wonderful all-natural alternative.

Top notes: Rosewood, Cardamom
Heart notes: Ylang Ylang, Jasmine, Sambac
Base notes: Vanilla Absolute

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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Purple Love Smoke

Violet Smoke by crankykoopa
Violet Smoke, a photo by crankykoopa on Flickr.

Purple Love Smoke is the most accurate way to describe this perfume. And only goes to show you what a powerful outcome and wonderful possibilities there are when a scent artist has a complete freedom with their art form.

Like all of Liz Zorn's natural perfumes, Purple Love Smoke has an intense yet subtle complexity. Even when you smell an ingredient, you can never be quite sure if it's there or not. There are a lot of different facets and aspects to this perfume and it evolves on the skin and keeps changing. Even at the point when there is non to be detected by the nose, you might still feel its presence.

It opens with an intoxicating candied sweetness that would have been overpowering and sickening if it wasn't for the fact that it is accompanied by an entourage of its exact opposite: smoke and mystery. What would have been a fruity bubblegum of the worst kind in the hands of a celebrity-controlled laboratory is instead intriguing and fabulous.

The initial notes are mysterious yet familiar; floral yet warm and spicy. It has a fruity sweetness not of one particular note, but bring to mind the sweetness of pink magnolias on a warm April day, drizzled with sunny maple syrup and a dash of rum. It's like the girly version of a single malt scotch: one that is redolent of red fruit, berries and perhaps some other unfamiliar exotic fruits mingling with the peaty, smoke-like qualities of highland scotch. It's also strangely reminiscent of a bakery, but not of a particular pastry, though rye and caraway come to mind; and also reminds me of antique teak furniture and hand-printed ethnic textiles in a dark room. What I'm smelling in the dryout is mostly immortelle absolute, with its maple and curry-like qualities, and more-than-decent dose of real vanilla absolute.

A couple of years ago, I ordered a few samples from Liz Zorn, and Purple Love Smoke was one of them. Now that I've finally spent some time breathing it from my skin and have wrapped my head around it - I see that it's been discontinued, which is a shame. But who am I to speak? I'm just about to discontinue more than half of my collection and I should know more than anyone else that the reason for discontinuing a scent are as complex as the relationship between an artist, his pieces and the audience. Not to mention the scarcity of some raw materials, and the gradually diminishing space as time goes by. In short: it's inevitable. I'll savour the little sample I got and enjoy its fleeting beauty as long as I possibly can.

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Monday, March 05, 2012

Pink Lotus by Aftelier

"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not" (John 1:5)

Pink Lotus by Aftelier is a study of pink lotus absolute – a difficult material to work with, on several levels: first of all, it has a dark bright orange colour that likes to leave stains behind. That aside, it is difficult to describe its odour profile. It’s not at all what you’d expect from a water flower. It’s complex, heavy, murky even; fading into a non-descript heavy powdery oblivion that can either suffocate or disappoint.

What this perfume does is highlight this floral absolute's qualities. Instead of pretending to be anything else, it expands on the darker qualities of pink lotus, without making it any more “pink” in personality than wearing black mascara would do to make the lips appear redder.

Other complex florals help brighten the beginning of Pink Lotus, making it more palatable than it would have been on its own – jasmine, rose and ylang ylang, and also bright citrus notes of bitter orange and the floral nuances of bergamot, which nicely go with a hint of pepper. I'm also smelling a whisper of resin in the background - perhaps opoponax or myrrh. Although antique sandalwood is one of the main ingredients listed on the Aftelier website, I am not smelling it on my own skin.

But soon enough, oakmoss brings out the murky characteristics of this strange absolute, which points to the roots of this sacred plant – one that has its feet in the dirty, dark water of decay, and which transforms itself into a thing of beauty with a thousand petals.

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Must Read: Aroma & Aura

Perfume is always an adventure into one's soul, and no one knows it better than perfumer and clairvoyant Yosh Han. In her guest article for CaFleureBon, she writes about the importance of fragrance in turning points in our lives, and how she reads auras.

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Monkey Monday: Laundry Business

"Dr. Juvenal Urbino used to say, not without a certain cynicism, that is was not he who was to blame for those two bitter years of his life but his wife's bad habit of smelling the clothes her family took off, so that she could tell by the odor if they needed to be laundered even though they might appear to be clean (...) Out of simple habit, Fermina Daza sniffed the clothing her husband had worn the evening before and experienced a disturbing sensation that she had been in bed with another man.

First she smelled the jacked and the vest while she took the watch chain out of the buttonhole and removed the pencil holder and the billfold and the loose change from the pockets and placed everything on the dresser, and then she smelled the hemmed shirt as she removed the tiepin and the topaz cuff links and the gold collar button, and then she smelled the trousers as she removed the keyholder with its eleven keys and the penknife with its mother-of-pearl handle, and finally she smelled the underwear and the socks and the linen handkerchief with the embroidered monogram. Beyond any shadow of doubt there was an odor in each of the articles that had not been there in all their years of life together, and odor impossible to define because it was not the scent of flowers or of artificial essences but of of something peculiar to human nature. She said nothing, and she did not notice the odor every day, but she now sniffed at her husband's clothing not to decide it it was ready to launder but with an unbearable anxiety that gnawed at her innermost being".

(Gabriel Garcia Marquez, "Love at the Time of Cholera")

One of the most intimate accounts of the role of the sense of smell in human life. How it invisibly and silently tells us stories - sometimes not what we want to hear. Leave a comment and enter to win Notorious mini bottle (by Ralph Lauren).

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Friday, March 02, 2012

Monkey Monday - Cassis Winner

I'm thrilled - yet not in the least surprised - that there are so many pet-loving folks among SmellyBlog's readers.
The stories you shared are fascinating. I guess I always assumed that dogs simply smell like "dogs" and cats have a universal "cat smell". It's great that even though we are an entirely different species we can still tell the differences in such an obscure realm as animal scents. It only makes me more curious to learn more about what animals can gather about us - all the emotions and other information they become privy too based on our smell alone.

Thank you so much for sharing all the lovely stories. I'd love to smell a cat that smells like popcorn one day...

The prize this week goes to Dionne - a mini of (now discontinued) Cassis by Aftelier Parfums.
Please email me with your snailmail addy so I can send your prize on Monday :-)

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