Friday, October 27, 2006

Guerlain Vol de Nuit


When I started reading the perfume blogs, no other name stood out for me the way Guerlain did. True, Guerlain, along with Chanel, was one of the only perfumers I recognized, beyond the basic department store offerings. But there was also the reverence of the perfume world for fragrances like Mitsuoko and L'Heure Bleue; I knew had to try these. And so I try I did, starting with Mitsuoko. Now, Mitsuoko wasn't my first attempt with a Guerlain. That would have been over a decade ago, when I bought a bottle of Shalimar EDP. I was so excited about owning what I thought was my first real sophisticated fragrance (I was mainly wearing Opium and Calyx in those days). Sadly, my excitement was short-lived. Something in that lovely perfume turned on my skin and produced a smell so awful, even my cat wouldn't come near me. I returned it and went back to my department store friends.

Not long after I started this blog I was browsing in TJ Maxx and I came upon a bottle of the revered one, Mitsuoko. Without sniffing, I snatched it up and took it home. The minute I got into the house I tore open the box and sprayed...In the air, the scent was lovely, sophisticated, what I'd hoped it would be. And on my skin, as it dried?

Bug spray. Honestly, I couldn't think of another way to describe it. But I didn't have to, because Bob thought of something: industrial-strength household cleanser. Not a scent that exactly says "Come here and take a big whiff," unless you have a problem and plan to huff it out of a paper bag.

At that point, I almost walked away from the perfume game. After all, if one of the "greats" was not for me, then where did that leave me? How would I ever find a Guerlain that might suit me? After I calmed down a bit, I decided I was being slightly unreasonable, and I set my sights on L'Heure Bleue and Jicky, two of the other much-revered Guerlain scents.

Months would elapse before I would sniff either of them, and sadly, when I did, both turned strangely industrial on me. Even the Guerlain SA told me "No, absolutely not!" And then she bid me to try Vol de Nuit.

The notes (from the Guerlain site) in Vol de Nuit are:
Top: bergamot, galbanum, petit grain
Heart: jasmine, jonquil, and spices
Base: woods, iris, vanilla, amber

Sweet fragrance angel from heaven, that SA was. But I still didn't know it, even then. Although at first sniff, I thought, "Yes! Finally, this is my Guerlain!", my excitement was tempered with doubt. What if I only thought I loved Vol de Nuit because L'Heure Bleue and Jicky were so disappointing on me? I couldn't be sure, so I walked away.

The scent of Vol de Nuit haunted me so much that I finally caved and bought a decant from eBay. I'm going to find a velvet box for that little plastic sample spray container, a soft cushiony protective home. This pungent powder, soft and alluring, is even better than I remembered. The opening is a soft, grassy citrus with just a hint of sharpness, but it moves quickly into the middle notes, which temper the green and start the descent into a soft heady powder with a twist of something--I suppose I should say animalic, but seriously, what I think is sex. This scent is alluring and sensual, but also comforting. I don't think, in my brief sampling time, that I've ever smelled jasmine this way, so evenly present among a deep spice that quiets into powdery notes that make you feel as though you'd been lifted into the clouds. I generally don't wax quite this rhapsodic about fragrance, do I?

I'm serious when I say this: I could happily wear this scent alone until then bitter end. If this were only about the hunt for a signature fragrance, we would have reached the end. I'd eBay everything else and use the proceeds to buy my bottle of Vol de Nuit.

*image from basenotes

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Satellite Padparadascha

Let's see...

Warm? Check.
Spicy? Check.
Dry? Check.
Woods? Check. And check.

Q: What makes you warm, Padparadascha?
A: Amber. Definitely amber.

Q: And spicy?
A: Pepper. Probably the pepper. Just enough to be interesting, but not so much you sneeze. I got a big laugh out of seeing someone have a sneezing fit off Rose Poivree the other day.

Q: Do you consider yourself a dry scent?
A: I'm not the driest scent out there, but you know, I have no fruit or floral notes. Fruits and flowers would make me juicy. White flowers might make me creamy. I could stay dry with rose or violet, maybe, but then I might be a little sweet. I'm not into sweet.

Q: How about those woods?
A: Cedar, sandalwood, juniper. Although technically, juniper, if we're talking berries, makes me spicy. More spicy. But these woods add a touch of smoke, too, you know. Like the winter smell of smoke from a fireplace in cold air. Makes you want to go in and get warm. Snuggle up with someone.

Q: Would you say you're a bit of a vixen, Padparadascha?
A: Let's just say, if you have someone you want to slide in a little closer to you when the temperature drops outside, you might want to consider wearing a little bit of me. I think I'm probably responsible for a lot of the kids you see running around these days. We'll leave it at that.

*photo from LuckyScent

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

First Impressions

My Guerlain decants finally arrived today, along with some Jo Malone decants so I can have fun with a little layering without having to spend an arm and a leg. It was my first time to buy anything from this seller (who, for the time being, shall remain nameless for reasons to follow), and I must admit, I was slightly underwhelmed.

Every eBay perfume seller I've bought from--until this one--has written me a personal message to let me know my package has shipped, and to say thank you for shopping with them. You all know how I feel about great customer service, and for the most part, the eBay folks and the online perfume sellers all excel at customer service. This person did not write me any message--I simply got an automated notification that my package had shipped. Certainly no problem, really, just not what I usually expect.

And like the other lovely eBay sellers I've dealt with, this person also threw a few extras into my package. One was nice, a small sample of Parfums de Nicolai Sacrebleu. Another was a perfume with which I'm not familiar, Attar Bazaar (you all know what a newbie I am). Then there was another handful of department store samples: Carolina Herrera Chic shower gel and body lotion, Escada Sport Country Weekend lotion (partially used), and then...

A spray sample of Dune. Now, I'm not knocking Dune. I wore it over a decade ago. And no big deal that it's not one of the more exclusive Dior perfumes or anything (actually, it's the EDT). No, what bothers me about this sample is that it's so old, most of the name has worn off the bottle, which is dirty and covered with fingerprints. And the clincher: IT'S EMPTY.

Okay, to be fair, perhaps this person has a big bag of department store discards she simply grabs stuff out of to throw into packages as extras. But still, wouldn't you maybe look at the samples before you put them in the bag to make sure they didn't leak or weren't dirty or perhaps had the full name on the bottle? And also, if you were sending samples to someone ordering Guerlain decants, wouldn't you be a bit more selective about what you decided to include as samples?

I'm going to hope everything's up to par with the actual decants. As far as I can tell, I have no reason to worry. And the seller does have a 99.7% positive rating. But isn't it amazing, just seeing this empty, dirty sample spray makes me doubtful. And a little less excited. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Sorry to keep you waiting for a new sample post, but I myself am waiting and waiting...You see, I ordered several Guerlain decants, and I had hoped to have them so I could have a full week of Guerlain scents that I'm excited to try and, as far as my experience, aren't all ones that are frequently reviewed or discussed (which of course does not mean they aren't loved by many!).

My other problem seems still to be how to approach the rest of my samples. The sheer volume is overwhelming. (Listening to me complain about this problem, you might be asking yourself, "Why did she order more samples, if she can't manage what she has?" Because it's a sickness, people! I'm not well!) Do I sample by perfumer? Do I sample from oldest acquisition to newest? Do I divide things seasonally? Do I organize according to all three of those principles and then give it a whirl? What about the stuff I want to try again, now that I have more--don't laugh--experience? I think some do-over reviews could be in order.

Or do I just put everything in a big bag and grab something every day, like a reverse sort of trick-or-treat? What if I'm not in the mood for what I grab? If I put it back and grab again, am I cheating?

And finally, you know, I realize it doesn't matter. Most of the samples I own have been well-reviewed by other, more competent bloggers than myself. It's as though I'm struggling over how to arrange my journal: Do I write daily or weekly? Do I write about actual things or only my impressions of the things? How will I know the difference? Do I try to capture life as it actually happens, like conversations, or do I simply emote onto the page, all the things I can't say to anyone, all the things I think during the day but find it better not to share?

I read a column in the November Vogue about keeping diaries, and why the author prefers them to blogs. If memory serves, he basically objected to most blogging because it seems so self-aggrandizing in one way or another: bloggers either think their lives are so amusing and amazing they must be shared with others, or they think blogging is their ticket to fame, to a book deal, a magazine column, a movie deal.

Granted, I've read some blogs like that, and I know some people like that. Those are the blogs I get bored with rather quickly. But I don't find that to be true with the fragrance and beauty blogs, and I guess that's why I signed up to do this myself. I always learn a little something from every blog I visit daily, and I appreciate knowing that mostly, no beauty editor or public relations person is behind much of what I read. I'm getting some straight-up information at best, or just sharing a person's thoughts at least. And I have few illusions about my own little project. I've mentioned here many times how I actually started this project in a diary, keeping notes for myself. And while that's fun, it's not nearly as much fun as sharing it with you all and getting advice, or hearing what you think about what I'm sampling, whether you've tried it or not. I know I'm not inventing the wheel here, but, overwhelmed as I may be by the sheer volume of thigs I have left to learn and try, I sure am having fun.

*image from WebMuseum

Friday, October 20, 2006

Small Pleasures

I've been absent much of the week, out with a chest cold that kept me away from work and from this blog. Today I'm feeling much better, but I still didn't feel up to picking a sample, so I am wearing Santa Maria Novella Citta di Kyoto from a decant sent to me by a very kind reader and MUA regular (thank you again, eaumy!). It's also shaping up to be a very pretty fall day here in Atlanta, and it's Friday...hence my title, Small Pleasures, and the picture of the painting of the same name by Kandinsky.

I wanted to comment briefly on something I read on Ayala's SmellyBlog, in a post she wrote about one of her first perfume loves, Miss Dior: "What stroke me as most special about Miss Dior when at first was how warm and round it was. No one note stood out in particular. It was a true “perfume” in the sense that the sum was greater than its parts…" This struck me because I felt she put into words nicely the way I've felt when I've tried several perfumes, most notably for me Delrae Amoureuse and Rance Josephine. I call them "Perfumes with a capital 'P'," because, as Ayala put it, the sum is greater than its parts. Not all perfumes, even ones I love, have this quality. I think it's an interesting distinction.

I also realized, after reading Patty's post on PerfumePosse about finding a foundation, that I hadn't done a beauty post in a while. Frankly, I'm a little irritated. First off, I'm still struggling with the right skin care, but beyond that, foundation. I finally got to try BareEscentuals, thinking it was going to be the greatest, most natural thing ever, and instead I got dry, tight, powdery, awful...I don't know how they can say this is great for a person with dry skin. Let me tell you right off, if your skin has even the slightest bit of flakiness (I won't go into my skin care rant right now), it will magnify it by clinging to every little flake you have. And the brushes that are supposed to be so soft and wonderful? No. Itchy. And every time I used them, hairs fell out. Not the sign of good brushes.

Yes, I watched the video, the whole thing, and I practiced with the "creamy minerals" for five days. The only good thing I can say about it is that after some of it wore off, I thought my skin looked relatively okay, and the coverage stayed even, which means my little red nose wasn't peeking through late in the afternoon. So far, the best thing I've found is Smashbox Photo Finish primer with the Stila Tinted Moisture (not the illuminating stuff...I learned that's not so great for dry skin either when I wore the DuWop Revolotion, which has a wonderful consistency but also highlights every dry patch if you have dry skin). I'll be sticking with that until I find something better. Anybody out there with dry, sensitive skin want to recommend any skin care or foundation? Feel free! (I should warn you...don't say Cetaphil. That stuff doesn't get your skin clean, and what's the point of moisturizing cleanser if you have to wash your face three times to get your makeup off?)

But to end this post on an "up" note (after all, I did call it "Small Pleasures" and not "Little Annoyances"), I've been meaning to mention the best product in the world for removing eye makeup, DHC Deep Cleansing Oil. I've used their full system and some of their moisturizers, and while nothing else really works for me, this oil does wonders. Eye makeup, regular or waterproof, simply melts away when you gently rub this into your eyelids and lashes, and it rinses cleanly away with water, leaving your eye lashes well-conditioned and soft. This is the only thing that saves me from the wonky eyelash syndrome I mentioned back when I participated in the Great Mascara Hunt.

That's all for today. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

*photos from WebMuseum and DHC

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

L’Artisan Drôle de Rose

Drôle de Rose means "special rose," according to L'Artisan, but really, I think there's something else going on here. Drôle can mean funny or amusing or peculiar, all depending on context, but it can also mean whimsical. Whimsical rose.

Whimsy, often considered a feminine trait, may mean fanciful, or it may mean prone to sudden change. Ah yes, that's our rose. Prone to change she is, depending on her surroundings. Plop her down in the middle of violet, musk, vetiver, vanilla, and amber, and you get Lipstick Rose, that waxy dark specimen who hurls Baccarat crystal when she's angry and eats her men for breakfast.

Let her cozy up with violet and iris powder, and see how soft she can be, how well she plays with others, like a kitten holding her nails back so as not to scratch. For this is only play, after all. We're amusing ourselves here.

If Lipstick Rose is Joan Crawford, then Drôle de Rose is Scarlett O'Hara. When she wants something, when she's the absolute center of attention, she's the ultimate feminine specimen, soft and flirtatious. She's powdered decolletage and wide-brimmed hats and fans.

But upon closer inspection, realize the kitten is really a cat, and the cat has claws. And on a whim, that soft violet can turn waxy and a bit hard, that soft whisper becomes a shout, and you realize that soft powder masks a boozy vanillic note you didn't detect before.

Truly, Drôle de Rose to me is Lipstick Rose without its edge. The rose and violet are beautifully subdued into a lush powder, but I can't help knowing what else it is they're capable of.

(I find it odd that the L'Artisan site, although it distinctly says this is a "concealed powdered rose with freshly picked violets," lists the notes as orange blossom, rose, and iris powder. As a serious lover of orange blossom, I must say, I don't detect any here. Orange blossom would make for a decidedly lighter rose scent, with a bit of sparkle, even with iris to calm it.)

*photos: top and last from Yahoo; middle from

Monday, October 16, 2006

L'Artisan Dzongkha

One thing I love about perfume is its ability to take me to a place I’ve never been. Dzongkha is the journey of perfumer Bertrand Douchafour to the tiny land-locked nation of Bhutan, situated between Tibet, India, and China. According to Wikipedia: “The entire country is mountainous except for an 8-10 mile (13-16 km) wide strip of subtropical plains in the extreme south which is intersected by valleys known as the Duars.” Along the mountains, the Bhutans built fortresses called dzongs. Most of them were built in the seventeenth century, to keep Tibet from invading. Many of them still survive, and dzong is considered the main architecture form of Bhutan.

In her review, Colombina says she feels Dzongkha is an introspective fragrance, and I could not agree more. Given the internal, introspective nature of Buddhism, Bhutan’s national religion, and the geography of the nation, it makes sense that this perfume would be closer, quieter than one might expect. The name itself implies strength, both through its origin and the sound: Dzongkha!

And I think that’s where one can be easily fooled by this perfume. For although it feels introspective and thoughtful to the wearer, I wonder if it always leaves others with the same impression. As I left the house this morning, Bob remarked on how I smelled (good). After thinking it over for a minute or two, he told me this fragrance smelled powerful and sophisticated. He mentioned it smelled like something a well-respected female CEO we know might wear. I took this as a compliment and went on my way.

The notes in Dzongkha, depending on where you look, are:
Top: lichee and cardamom
Heart: peony, iris, incense
Base: peony (LusciousCargo)/vetiver (Aedes), iris, incense
The L’Artisan site does not yet list Dzongkha, so they were no help in settling the dispute. I went osMoz and found this:
Top: peony, cardamom
Heart: tea (with milk), incense, cedar, vetiver, spices
Base: Indian papyrus, iris, leather

Take your pick. I’m assuming the perfumeries got the notes directly off the packaging or from the distributors, but neither of them list leather, and I definitely get a very distinct leather note here. I’m guessing the truth lies somewhere in between, perhaps based on how it mixes with your skin. Different reviewers have had very different impressions of this scent.

The iris softens the incense, keeping it very dry but not powdery. The peony sweetens it, and vetiver makes it slightly pungent through the middle, although it disappears later on for me. The dry-down is all milky floral leathery incense. I find it strikingly pretty, and although this is a very thoughtful, meditative sort of scent, I understand also how another person might find it powerful. It has a quiet confidence, a tall tower wall protecting the soft introspective side, the way the dzong walls protect the courtyards, temples, and monks’ houses inside.

*photos and facts from Wikipedia

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Mini Sniffage and Many Thanks

I just got a package from LusciousCargo, and I owe Marcy a big "Thank you!" for being so wonderful. I ordered a bottle of the Fracas EDP, but apparently they were back-ordered, and when the shipment came in, a couple of the bottles had broken and soaked through the boxes and labels on the other bottles. She tried to send me an email, but it looked suspicious (was from L U S C I O U S instead of the usual address) and had a strange looking title...It looked like the emails spam-readers create by reading your usual email, so I deleted it. (I work in internet security--what can I say?)

In the meantime, I was waiting and waiting for my package, and finally I contacted Marcy, who got in touch with me immediately. I felt bad when I learned she'd tried to contact me and I'd deleted the message (but still, better safe than sorry), especially when she told me she had sent my package and thrown in some extras! I continue to be impressed by the kindness and the level of customer service I receive from the niche perfume e-tailers. So many businesses should take a cue from people like Autumn at La Creme Beauty and Marcy at LusciousCargo.

And so, the samples! I don't want to overdo it, but this is as bad as a bag of Doritos. I can't stop myself. Here's what I've sniffed (mind you, not sampled):

L'Artisan Dzongkha - Dry, incense-y, like Messe de Minuit but better? More floral, but still dry. I see a bottle in my future.
Diptyque Tam Dao - Gorgeous spice and woods...also dry. How do I not already own this?
Robert Piguet Bandit - Bad girl in her boyfriend's leather jacket waiting it out in the woods after knocking over a bank. Get out of there girl! The police can smell that sexy perfume from a mile away. (By the way, that girl will be me, after I knock over a bank so I can buy a full bottle of Bandit.)
Les Parfums de Rosine Poussiere de Rose - Holy boozy rose Batman! This is one seriously hot drunk flower. Gypsy grannies allowed.
L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer - More incense and soft musk. Really, can I just buy stock in L'Artisan at this point? Is that possible?
Tocca Touch - (extra thrown in!) Soft, sophisticated fruity-floral, very pretty. Pomegranate's quite popular these days.

I have more--another L'Artisan (Drole de Rose) and the Amouage sample pack I ordered (plus an extra), but I'm all sniffed out. Oh, the excitement!

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely Liquid Satin

I know, I know. I shot my mouth off and prattled on about how I hated the idea of buying a perfume because of a celebrity when I sampled Fracas, and then I go and actually buy a celebrity perfume. But it's not entirely my fault. Two things happened that practically forced me to buy it: first, I read Ayala's SmellyBlog review, and then I lost my NR for Her EDT during the airport TSA debacle. I had to have something to replace it, and Ayala mentioned that Nordstrom offers a 30ml roll-on bottle, a perfect size for someone who has more fragrance than she can handle (even if most of it is in tiny glass vials)!

The notes in Lovely Liquid Satin are:
Top: rosewood, lavender, mandarin, lemongrass, apple martini
Heart: paperwhites and orchid
Base: patchouli, cedar, white amber, musk

The difference between Liquid Satin and the original EDP is that Liquid Satin contains no alcohol. (Ayala, a perfumer, explains this far better than I can.) But no matter, the scent is--well, lovely. I frankly don't get any of the apple martini note, and the whole creation is decidedly very un-fruity. The top is dry yet sparkling, effervescent like a nice champagne. I get the lavendar and lemongrass mostly, and the rosewood and mandarin save it from being sharp. I love paperwhites--one of my favorite flowers--and with the orchid they lend the most delicate white floral note. If you are easily overwhelmed by white florals (and Lovely does not classify as one--in fact, according to osMoz, it's classified as a chypre), you need not be afraid. The white amber lends warmth, but the patchouli and cedar keep this scent very light and dry.

I think a man could wear this scent, if he weren't afraid of a little floral, because I think it's a wonderful blend of masculine and feminine. Lovely Liquid Satin feels balanced to me in such a way that I think of a man who's just embraced the woman he loves, and his fragrance mingles with hers. It's sensual without being sexy, romance without the frills and silliness.

P.S. I also sampled the new Hilary Duff fragrance...mmm. Um, well, it's quite pretty. Not typical. I don't get much fruit, but I do get a nice woodsy dry-down that's very livable. If you don't believe me, see what Ina has to say. Oh, and I also bought a bottle of Fracas. What's next? Will I start buying tabloids?

*photo from Nordstrom


Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Parfums de Nicolai Odalisque


Look at them, all huddled together in the corner, those snooty sorority sisters—Hiris, Iris Silver Mist, Iris Nobile, Gris Clair—all trussed up in lavender silk and silver organza, doing their best to be cool, regal, and ethereal. Enter our iris, Odalisque, all got up like Sheila E. backing Prince on his Purple Rain tour. At some point during every show she takes the stage and sings that 80s anthem, “The Glamorous Life.” The sisters look down their noses and shake their heads. Who is this Odalisque?

Odalisque is an iris scent, but maybe like no other iris scent you’ve tried. From what I’ve found online, the main notes are iris, lily of the valley, and green notes. (Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you look at it—the network at work blocks Luckyscent, where I got my sample and could probably find the exact notes, as pornography. I find this incredibly funny.)

The iris sisters you love and know primly sip vintage Clicquot. This iris drinks Cristal out of the bottle with a straw. She does shots with her friend, lily of the valley. Lily is sweet, and she amps up the iris, makes it a star performer, loud and bright, but still powdery and royal. The green notes barely restrain the sweetness, much the way a teeny-tiny chain somehow manages to hold back a giant dog. In the dry down, the iris remains prominent, but I think I smell a bit of pepper in there among the heightened powder. Something about Odalisque reminds me of those heady scents that were so popular in the early 80s. This scent is so shout-it-out purple, it could be easy to overlook how pretty it is, how very strong but also intensely feminine. I don’t find it at all cloying. At times I find it tiresome the way people work so hard to be subtle and refined, and I wish someone would come crashing in, someone interesting and loud and a bit wild, yet elegant in the end, despite it all. That’s Odalisque.

Update: Now that I'm home, I was able to look up the notes: lily of the valley, jasmine, iris root. Yeow!

*photos from Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Frederic Malle Le Parfum de Therese

As I seem to have recovered from last week's frenzy, I thought I would revisit a fragrance I took along on my journey and sampled, but had no time (or attention) to notice, Frederic Malle's Le Parfum de Therese. When I put this on in the hotel room, I thought it was quite pretty, but A) it's quite light, and my application was poor and B) it was too light to compete with the environment.

As many perfume fans already know, Edmond Roudnitska created this perfume in the early 1950s for his wife, and it was hers exclusively. This scent opens with tangerine and melon at the top, with carnal rose and plum in the heart, and cedar, vetiver, and leather in the base. The tangerine overpowers the melon note for me (which is not a problem), and the leather is prominent and lovely from the open. The vetiver is not sharp but rather herbal in feel, a little watery and salty beneath the tangerine. The leather tempers it and keeps away the celery note so many people dread. It takes a while (about an hour) for the rose and plum to emerge for me, and along with them the cedar. The plum is not juicy or dark, but instead serves to sweeten and warm the rose and cedar just enough to make them more prominent. But make no mistake about it, this is a leather scent: soft yet supple leather, refined and lovely.

Le Parfum de Therese is a very, very light scent. The first time I wore it, Bob couldn't smell it, even in the hotel. Today I applied what was left of the tiny glass vial (about 2/3), and the scent is still quite faint, but definitely there. This fragrance creates an aura, rather than your "typical" sillage, and this is one case where I might recommend applying it to your clothing (or perhaps your hair, if it's not oily or you don't wear products with competing scents).

I find this beautiful, feminine and compelling. Like Serge Lutens Daim Blond, it evokes an idea of mystery and elegance. I suppose what makes me think of Daim Blond is its softness and the smell of suede, compared here to the soft leather combined with this watery citrus rose. Of the two, I prefer Le Parfum de Therese. I find this far more bottle-worthy (or on my budget, eBay decant-worthy), and more suitable to my personality.

You can read Colombina's wonderful review of Le Parfum de Therese at Perfume-Smellin' Things.

*photo from Frederic Malle

Monday, October 09, 2006

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir

After my whirlwind tour of fragrances on vacation and suffering a little bit of a cold, I found it difficult to get back into the swing of sampling. I wore Safran Troublant all weekend--oh, that's a forever favorite--and I almost wore it again today. But I spotted this box on the shelf and thought, "Why not?" This scent is perfect for the season and the weather, after all, and a nice boost for a Monday. I bought Pomegranate Noir unsniffed, all because of Ina's review several months ago. Pom Noir is my first Jo Malone fragrance, and after trying this one, I'm ready to jump in and try some others, especially combining the scents as they recommend.

Pomegranate Noir has notes of pomegranate, raspberry, plum, frankincense, and patchouli. If I hadn't been convinced by Ina's review, I never would have chosen this scent. I'm not one for anything overly fruity, and just reading the notes would have scared the pants right off me. But since wearing it a few times, I like to think of Pom Noir as the poor woman's Bois de Paradis. It shares the same dark fruit, although it's less mulled and more straight juice than Bois de Paradis. I also find the dry down is much spicier, without the rose and amber to soften the patchouli and frankincense, which are a bit more harsh (or maybe dry is the better word) than the woods. To be sure, it's less refined, but no less wonderful in its own way. If I had tried a sample of this, I would have deemed it bottle-worthy in a heartbeat, and now I'm anxious to try layering it with some of the other scents. One they recommend is the Vintage Gardenia, with notes of gardenia, tuberose, cardamom, sandalwood, incense and myrrh. I think the floral aspect of this would soften the juice somewhat, and I'm interested to see how these spices would mix. I'm also interested in the Orange Blossom body creme (orange blossom and water lily) for layering with either of these. I thought about Red Roses, but I'm afraid the lemon and spearmint would clash awfully with the dark juice. The Wild Fig & Cassis (fig, cassis, hyacinth, cedarwood--cedarwood is the siren's call for me) also intrigues me, as does the new one (which I also heard about through Aromascope--I swear, I have to quit reading Ina's reviews), Blue Agave and Cacao (which they did not have yet at the Jo Malone store I visited on vacation and is not yet listed on her official site).

If you've tried any Jo Malone scents, or have a favorite layering combo (Jo Malone or otherwise), I'd love to hear about it! I'll let you know when I try layering, although it may be awhile. Giving that pocketbook a rest!

*photo from

Friday, October 06, 2006

Better Than the Runway...

The runway is about fashion, but this picture is about style. This photo is from The Sartorialist on I spend more time looking at his photos than I do looking at the collections. I find them more meaningful. The runway might tell us what the trends will be, but these pictures tell us how to live with fashion. They show us it can be done, not with flippant tips and silly advice. And more importantly, how it can be done at any age.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


I know, I know...I'm trying to get back in the swing of things. I returned home to a new mess of samples, and I find myself completely overwhelmed. What should I try next? Should I have a theme? Should I pin names on a dart board and throw darts to pick? Alphabetize? Categorize?

I didn't even manage to get through what I brought with me on my trip. No, I distracted myself by sniffing new stuff I could sniff right here in this city. A waste! No, I take it back--snffing is never a waste, unless you have a cold or hay fever.

I think I mentioned I got a sample of Donna Karen's Gold. I won't even try to say anything about this, because the most eloquent thing has already been said by Ina at Aromascope: "If there was a champagne made of lilies, that’s how it’d smell." My only complaint probably has to do exclusively with my weak application--light to begin with, it seemed to fade rather quickly. But I think with many scents you can't really gauge lasting power by what you manage to get on your person out of a tiny glass vial. And also, I fear over-application. Anyway, the scent itself is just as Ina describes. I was hoping for more insight: in this month's Harper's Bazaar, they have in interview with Donna Karan. They hint at talking about her new fragrance, but they never do.

I also tried Hanae Mori's new scent, Magical Moon. According to Basenotes, the notes are "Osmanthus Flower, Rose, Sugar Cane, Cotton Flower, Coconut Milk, Vanilla, White Musk, White Sandalwood, Red Cedar, Incense, Litchi, Patchouli, Pineapple Pulp, Guava Nectar, Star Fruit, Orange Flowers and Pink Berries." So, the fruity floral we all know is popular. I prefer Butterfly, but I like this one too. I don't find it overly fruity, and the womanly osmanthus at the top makes it a bit more stately than other fruity florals on the market (or at least the few I have smelled). The sandalwood, patchouli, and incense also ground it somewhat. Still, it is too sweet for my taste. I like a bit of tanginess with my sweet and woods. It's a stately sweet, but there's nothing deep. I believe it needs a little of what the perfume experts out there call skank.

At Neiman's, a kind lady named Irene bid me to try Badgley Mischka. She only named few of the several notes: blackberry and peach at the top, jasmine and white peony in the heart, sandalwood, amber, and suede musk in the base--but that was enough for me. I thought this was amazingly pretty, yet really "everyday" wearable. I can't wax on about it much because I wore it and enjoyed it, but didn't have the presence of mind to analyze it. I seriously considered buying a bottle of this. I need to go over to Nordstrom and get a sample, because they wouldn't give me one at Neiman's.

One fruity-floral I tried and wasn't so crazy about was Guerlain Insolence. Very possibly this is the amateur nose talking, but I found it sort of meh. No doubt it's too subtle for me somehow. I didn't wear it, either, and maybe that makes a difference? Whatever the case, my battle with Guerlain continues. Mitsuoko and Shalimar have rounded up Jicky and L'Heure Bleu, and they've all decided to band against me. The only one who loved me was Vol de Nuit, so how could I help but love it back?

And as for the samples I just got: The perfume everyone's raving is completely mediocre, Serge Lutens Chypre Rouge, something from Santa Maria Novella (grr...which one is this?), Etro Royal Pavillion, Parfum d'Empire Eau Suave (Did I mention how much I love Ambre Russe? I didn't, did I?), Creed Love in White, Mona di Orio Lux (to round out the trilogy), and Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut.

But wait--that's not all. Everyone is talking about Weil. In general, when it comes to the perfume party, I'm the child at the top of the stairs, listening to the grown-ups, waiting for the day I'm down there among them. I go back to my room and practice. That's what this blog is. And so I had to order a tiny sample of Zibeline, the pure parfum, off eBay (thanks to Diane at Dragonfly Scent Me). But still--not everything! More tiny samples: Vintage Chypre de Coty! Oh yes! And--now I'm downstairs, hiding under the table, taking sips off people's drinks when no one is looking--Caron Narcisse Blanc (no Noir to be had for my budget). Patou 1000 Parfum. Guerlain Chant d'Aromes. I even got a few extras: Coty Les Muses, Gaultier 2...and a decant of Etro Heliotrope, which I wore today. It soothes me.

So add all this to my existing stash (you don't even know what's in there!), and you can see, I'm completely overwhelmed. Hence the rambling. But one day my senses (and scentses) will clear, and I'll be rational again, and then I'll talk about the few samples I dragged along and actually wore: FM Parfum de Therese and Fifi Chachnil. Unless, of course, I get distracted along the way. Stay tuned, friends!

*photos from Nordstrom, Basenotes, and Bergdorf Goodman

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Fungus among Us

Some of the clothes at the Dior show were so lovely...I think. I got distracted by the little mushroom caps all the models were wearing on their heads.

This hairstyle, not unlike leggings, was a bad idea the first time around. Don't get any bright ideas. Just let it pass by and pretend you don't notice.

*photos from

Land of the Free?

I’m home from my journey, trying to get caught up. Our trip was a last-minute thing we threw together when we realized we might not be able to take a vacation again for some time. We’ve done a lot of visiting in the last five or six years, but this was only our second real vacation. We were ready to relax for several days in the company of strangers. Sad, then, that the vacation began with me fuming mad.

I know all about the restrictions for carrying toiletries on to an airplane. They must be in a plastic bag, the items can only be a certain size, the bag can only be so big, yadda yadda. That’s why I packed my toiletries in my suitcase, which I checked. Ever since 2001, after airport security personnel unpacked my entire suitcase, pulled the toiletries bag from the bottom of the suitcase, rummaged through it and found my nail clippers and informed me that the file on it was a weapon and he would have to break it off (he did, and I still have them), I have been checking my bags.

Last Friday, we approached the security line at the airport, where a rather large man who worked for the TSA (yet looked strangely like a forest ranger) yelled that we must declare all and any toiletries we had in our bags. And so, because I have an uncontrollable impulse to do the right thing, I pulled out the one and only object I thought I might need to “declare”—a spray sample of Narciso Rodriguez For Her EDT—and was promptly told to throw it away. I balked. Surely the man had to be joking. He assured me he was not. He told me I could either get a plastic bag from the table where they were handing them out and secure my sample in the bag, or I could discard it. In a huff, I threw it into the garbage can and proceeded to the line. He continued to scream at me like an angry marine trying to break a new recruit as I walked away.

When I got to the line, the sight of women with their little bags of toiletries only made me angrier. Not only are we subject to a stupid rule, but people follow it without question. In retrospect I wish I’d been calm enough to walk over and grab one of the bags, because surely the sign of me in line with my tiny spray sample of perfume locked up in a plastic bag would have been the perfect illustration of how ridiculous this rule really is. What scares me more than anything is how slowly they’re removing basic rights from our lives, and how we take it all, calm as cows being led to the slaughter. Here’s a woman with her baggie full of sample size toiletries, and then right next to her is a man with a suitcase. Am I supposed to believe he has no shampoo, toothpaste, deodorant, cologne? I had lotion in my purse that I hadn’t taken out, and it went through the x-ray unnoticed, both going and coming home.

And so the rule is arbitrary, arbitrary and stupid to begin with, and yet nobody asks WHY? Are we not in danger just being packed like sardines in the airport security area? Are we not in danger on buses and trains and cruise ships? How about on freeways, or in malls or grocery stores? We are vulnerable. Packing toiletries in plastic bags after the fact makes us no safer, but it makes us less free. I know that sounds dramatic, but I am afraid of the slow removal of our rights, so slow we almost fail to notice. It seems like such a small thing. What are two or three drops of water on a rock over the course of a day, right? But what about a year, or two years, or five?

Think about it. You can take knitting needles on a plane. You can take ballpoint pens (I learned to use a pen as a weapon in a self-defense class years ago.) You can take your friend, the whatever-degree black-belt in karate. You can take a rope or a belt. For now, you can take them all on the plane. Until someone decides (allegedly) to use one of these things as a weapon. Pretty soon we’ll all be in the airport security line, wearing nothing but hospital gowns.

Oh, enough ranting. I promise to return soon and talk about the sampling I did on vacation. In the end I didn't wear all of the samples I took with me (I tried only the Fifi and FM's Parfum de Therese), but I got samples of the new Donna Karan and Hanae Mori, and I also tried the new Badgley Mischka and several Guerlain fragrances. It was quite an event for my nose!