Monday, February 26, 2007

Caron Parfum Sacre

Edited 2/27/07
For the last week, I've been wearing Caron Parfum Sacre. (Forgive the missing accent aigu. I am lazy. If I weren't lazy, I would post more often.) Frankly, venturing into the world of Caron made me a little nervous. Perfume fans love to talk about the dark undertones, the special character of any Caron juice. Possibly I'm too young (as a perfume fan, anyway) to "get" this, or possibly Parfum Sacre is missing the undertone that other Caron perfumes share.

Or possibly this is what all these people mean by "dark": nostalgic. Trust me, if I let you sniff this first, and then I told you that it was made in the year 1990, you'd never believe me. I wonder, too, if you'd believe that Caron, on their very own site, classifies this perfume as "Oriental Spicy." The notes are myrrh, musk, vanilla, rose, jasmine, pepper, cinnamon and coriander. Sounds spicy enough, and possibly Oriental, and yet...

Maybe I've been ruined by the heavier spice of fragrances like Opium or Citta di Kyoto, both of which I love, both of which are far heavier on the spice. But then again, maybe not quite. All week I thought about this perfume. It's the sort of scent that requires a great deal of contemplation, and still, all I could come up with was this: the silk lining of an old purse. When all is said and done, that's what I smell: a faint, spicy powder, elegant and ethereal, a dream of travel to exotic lands, a memory trapped in fine smooth fabric flecked there with tobacco and stained here by an oily smudge of lipstick.

It's the silk lining of an evening bag once carried by Katherine Hepburn, say, when she was dating Howard Hughes. I've found it in a thrift shop, plucked it from the shelf, clicked open the jeweled latch and inhaled. Amazing to think this fragrance was released into a world of Poisons and Fendis and Beautifuls, this fragrance for an old soul. It's hauntingly lovely. My thanks to Angela for sharing it with me.

2/27/07: I suppose my admiration for this perfume isn't clear. I didn't go on and on about Caron and the development of the notes because that isn't what I found striking about this perfume. Plenty of other blogs can offer you information about Caron. What I wanted to share was the impression this scent left on me, and it was this: When I think about the silk lining of an evening bag, I think about a woman reaching her hand inside the bag to grab a lipstick or a compact or a handkerchief, her wrist rubbing her scent against the silk lining as she searches, leaving a memory there, something intimate. I wonder what song the orchestra is playing, what the dress that matches the bag looks like. I wonder if the evening brought the owner of the bag love or disappointment, celebration or despair. This is what I meant when I said "hauntingly lovely." It's the sort of scent a person leaves behind that makes others yearn a little.

I'm no Caron expert; I don't know what comes from an urn and what's readily available, but I do know you can find Parfum Sacre at Fragrance Net.

*photo of Parfum Sacre from; photo of Katherine Hepburn from Yahoo

Monday, February 19, 2007

be becker.eshaya

Occasionally I try a fragrance, and I refrain from saying anything about it. Sometimes this happens because a scent loved by perfume fans far and wide turns into something horrible on my skin. (Iris Silver Mist, for example. It makes me smell like a mannequin.) Sometimes this happens because I'm sure as soon as I say I like something, I'll hear quiet, derisive laughter coming from the far corners of the perfume-blogging world. It took me a long time to "out" my love for Benefit's Maybe Baby, and I only did so after another perfume blogger confessed her thing for it first.

But my cranky posts from earlier today probably tell you what sort of day I had--the sort of day where finally, when you get to the end of it, you're ready to say what's on your mind, consequences be damned. And so: I think be is downright pretty. There. I said it. It's pink dress and sandals pretty. It's mimosa (as in OJ and champagne) pretty. It's bouquet full of flowers pretty. With notes of Italian mandarin, pink peony, lily of the valley, rose damascena, and white musk, it's Monet's sunset pretty. The mandarin adds sparkle; the peony, a sweet undertone; the lily of the valley, a hint of freshness that's slightly green; the rose and musk, a bit of powder and sophistication in the drydown. be is a girl's fragrance made for a woman, lighthearted and simple, a memory of carefree days. Not beautiful, not stunning, not a masterpiece.


*photo from

Olympics...or Treadmill?

**CURMUDGEON ALERT** Generally I try to be positive, but I'm feeling awfully grumpy about this skincare stuff.

I decided to try Liz Earle skincare after I read about it in February Vogue. Mainly they focused on SuperBalm, but I was impressed enough by the article to check out her basic skincare. I ordered a trial set for dry skin and some muslin cloths.

The cleanser is thick and smells amazing. In fact, that's the best thing about these products: the smell. I applied the cleanser and used the hot muslin cloth (the "hot" and "polish" in the "Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser") to remove makeup. My skin got a bit red and splotchy (this is touted as "safe" for sensitive skin), but not itchy. I used the toner and the moisturizer. Lovely smell, red but not itchy. Over several weeks my skin was more moisturized, smooth and soft, but the redness never really calmed down.

And then the pimples came. I don't get pimples. Ever. But I got two using this Liz Earle, the kind that don't really show but that you can feel every time you move a muscle in your face. The kind that hurt. Grr.

Red as a stop sign and covered in pimples--not my idea of a good time, really. And that wasn't the only thing that bothered me about Liz Earle skincare. The moisturizer didn't have an SPF. On the one hand, this does streamline one's beauty routine. I see the logic. But when I went to her site to see if she offered an alternative with SPF, I found this little quote that really set me off:

"Sunscreens are unnecessary in most skincare, including cleansers, toners, night-time moisturisers and treatments such as face masks. Sunscreens are also not necessary during the daytime in winter, but in warmer months it is important to protect skin from the sun’s rays."

People! In this day and age, how responsible is it to make the claim that you don't need sunscreen year-round? And even if it turned out to be true, even if scientists announced tomorrow that you didn't need sunscreen during winter, how could you have hurt yourself by wearing it?

Liz Earle is not a doctor, not a dermatologist, not a scientist. She's a "specialist in botanical ingredients." And I dare say, I trust my dermatologist much more than a woman touting botanical skincare.

Since the Vogue article, I've seen several reviews of this skincare pop up on beauty blogs, and it garners raves. While I think it has its pluses, I don't think it's rave worthy. It really wasn't any better than anything else I've used. The cleanser cleansed, the toner made my face wet and made me feel better about prepping for moisture, and the moisturizer...moisturized. Nothing wrong with that at all (not everyone will turn red and get zits from these products), but what's so great about it?


And finally, I'm not going to tell you to buy skincare from someone who gives such awful "expert" advice as "don't wear sunscreen in winter."

I set out in search of something else. I started to cruise the Internet for trial skincare sets. I found no less than twenty-two (22!) trial skin-care sets for dry and/or sensitive skin. Actually, I found more than that--these were the ones under $80. Mind you, if you're in the market for new skin care, expensive or otherwise, kits are the best way to go. Not all kits, particularly the more expensive ones, are trial-sized. Many have full-sized products that last for months. But as I surveryed my findings, I started to wonder: How many of these are just a cleanser, a toner, and a moisturizer? How many of these kits will just do the same basic thing for your face?

Granted, we all have things we like and dislike. We like gel cleansers better than creamy cleansers, or bars better than liquid, or toners with alcohol better than toners without alcohol. I'm not trying to dictate here what people should and should not like. But I am asking people everywhere to stop and think: How are any of these basic products any different from each other?

I decided to go to the expert. I decided to go to the dermatologist. My dermatologist does not have her own skincare line. She gave me a printout with recommended products, as follows:

Moisturel (lotion)

That's the same information I got from a dermatologist in Texas over 15 years ago. Could it be a vast conspiracy, or is this simple common sense?

I had a few more questions this time around, too. After all, I'm 15 years older.

What about wrinkles? For me (37, minimal facial sun damage, never smoked), an over-the-counter retinol, such as Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream. In five to ten years, I may want to consider prescription Retin-A. (Mind you, I'm not surgically inclined.) In fact, she said prescription creams are just about the only thing you can use to see dramatic results, if that's what you need.

What about an eye cream? Well, she says SPF is good, but a special cream for the eye area isn't necessarily warranted. WHAT? I was inclined to disagree. She said it certainly wouldn't hurt, and she approved the copper peptide ingredients in my Neutrogena Visibly Firm as safe for my sensitive skin.

SPF IS GOOD. I asked her if I needed to wear SPF in winter, just to see her reaction to such stupid advice. I thought she might knock me off the exam table. The answer was a resounding YES.

How about toner? I love a good toner. She said toner is unnecessary, but like the eye cream, it can't hurt...unless you have dry, sensitive skin and you use a toner with a high percentage of alcohol.

The point of all this? (This isn't me talking to the dermatologist anymore...this is me talking to you.) I love a pretty package and an expensive cream as much as the next person. I love Clarins, and their stuff isn't cheap. I've tried La Mer, and considered buying a full jar. I'm not going to get up on my high horse and demand that everyone stop spending money, stop having any fun. But ask yourselves: At what point does it stop? When I was looking at my list of all those skincare kits, I became overwhelmed. I kept thinking, "What if it doesn't work?" And then, "How many of these things am I going to have to buy?"

I'm as easily duped by articles and rave reviews as the next person. My dupe could be someone else's winner, but I'm sticking with science this time.

*photo from

Skincare Basics

I've decided to cancel the Skincare Olympics. My reasons for doing so reach far and wide, but I'll try to sum them up as best I can in my next post. In doing so, I'll give you a few mini-reviews. I'll start with the basics, the items I used through the fall and into January. Here's what we've got:

Eucerin Redness Relief Soothing Cleanser. This was an item I selected from the list for my skin type in Leslie Baumann's Skin Type Solution. I'm on my second tube. As far as the redness relief goes, this stuff is tops. It's very soothing, an it also gets my skin clean. The downside is that it's not very moisturizing, and I'm still seeing a little breakout action now and again along the jawline.

Cetaphil Cleansing Lotion. I've had a love-hate relationship with Cetaphil going on 15 years now. It's moisturizing, never drying, and easy on sensitive skin. Problem: depending on how much makeup you wear (or what type), it doesn't always get skin clean. I don't wear a lot of makeup, but sometimes I find I have to wash twice...doesn't that defeat the purpose of not stripping the skin? Still, it's the best bang for the buck if you have dry, sensitive skin.

Eucerin Anti-Wrinkle Sensitive Skin Cream with CoQ10. This was my nighttime moisture. I wanted a little anti-wrinkle action, and needed a cream to combat dryness. This didn't upset my sensitive skin, but it didn't really have the oomph I appreciate in combating dryness, either. Plus, I can't say that the CoQ10 was doing much for me, either.

Eucerin Extra Protective Moisture Lotion SPF 30. Kids, according to the dermatologist (mine, anyway), you should wear no less than SPF 30 on your face. Any higher and you're just paying for numbers--any lower and you might pay the price. This doesn't bother my sensitive skin, but it doesn't do much to moisturize, either. I don't know about any of you out there, but I'm getting tired of having to pick one or the other. Yes, I could wear both a cream and then a sunscreen, but I can't stand the goopy feeling. Plus, moisturizers formulated with sunscreen go on better than regular sunscreen...they aren't as heavy and take less time to absorb. I'm slow enough in the morning without having to wait 20 minutes for my moisturizer to dry.

Almay Eye Makeup Remover Pads. I love this product. Even though I wear minimal amounts of mascara and still have to use three pads sometimes, this never irritates my eyes. When I use liquid removers, I always end up with cotton fluff in my eyes.

Neutrogena Visibly Firm Eye Cream. This is another one from Dr. Baumann, although I don't think she designated it for my skin type. I love this eye cream. I notice a difference when I don't use it (my eyes are drier and look more crepe-y), and it never irritates my eyes. I put it all around and on the lid. I've also used this as a face cream when traveling to save space (Dr. Baumann's suggestion in her book), and it works nicely.

Clinique Advanced Stop Signs Eye Cream SPF 15. My favorite eye product of all time is All About Eyes, but it has no SPF. I don't think Clinique actually makes this product anymore (I bought it last year, and eye creams last forever), but it moisturizes well and protects my eyes from the sun. I'd love to go back to All About Eyes, but then I'm stuck having to find another product with SPF. Too much work, people. Clarins makes an eye cream with SPF 30, but it's not as moisturizing as Clinique's.

There you have it. That was my basic skincare. All in all, it performed pretty well. B minus. I thought I could do better, so off I went in search...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day Dear Readers and Friends!

*heart picture from

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien

I was intrigued by Eau d'Hadrien from first sniff. Bob and I were strolling through Bloomingdales when I saw a collection of Annick Goutal bottles sitting on a mirrored tray. We sniffed several, but Hadrien was the one the one that stuck with us after we walked away. With its notes of Sicilian lemon, grapefruit, citron, and cypress, this fragrance was likely to be anything but a sure thing for me. I'm not a fan of citrus scents, and many people are not fans of Hadrien. I've seen it compared to Lemon Pledge and air freshener. It is a very clean fragrance, but I find the citrus here soft and breezy, and with none of the chemical aftertaste--er, aftersmell--one gets from cleansing products. Some fragrances are more sensitive to other scents clinging to our skin: soap, lotions, etc. Others simply knock out any smell that came before them. Hadrien is in the former category. In fact, although Hadrien is quite wearable on its own, it works best layered with other scents. I've tried four so far:

Skin Musk. You can find Skin Musk at any drugstore. It comes in both a spray and an oil, and I've seen both for a price as low as $5.99. Don't be fooled by the cheap price: this is a lovely combination of florals, sandalwood, and musk that warms wonderfully against the skin. It's a close scent, sexy and wearable anytime of the year. I applied the Hadrien first, and then a light spray of Skin Musk. The Musk immediately mellows the citrus so that only a soft edge remains. The sandalwood pumps up the cypress, so the soft woods take focus. This makes me think of winter on the beach, sitting inside near a fire and looking out at the bright sun bouncing off the ocean.

Songes. I bought a decant of this months and months ago. Songes is a serious white floral, with notes of frangipani, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and vanilla. Lucky for me, Hadrien renders Songes wearable--until now, I referred to it simply as "Headache in a Bottle." The first few moments after I apply Songes are always glorious, because it is a beautiful fragrance, but no less than a few minutes after I've applied it, my head begins to throb. I was a bit hesitant to try it with the Hadrien, but happily, it worked. The cypress and citron town down the jasmine, while the slightly bitter grapefruit note plays up its earthier notes. The vanilla takes the edge out of the citrus, making it creamier and a bit sweeter.

Jo Malone Wild Fig & Cassis. Because Jo Malone fragrances are meant to be layered (particularly with other Jo Malone fragrances), I thought it might be fun to try a couple of these. Wild Fig & Cassis was my first choice because I wanted to see how the citrus notes would compliment the fig. Wild Fig & Cassis has notes of fig, cassis, hyacinth, and cedarwood. The result of layering this scent with Hadrien is a fresh green scent, reminiscent of early summer mornings full of blossoms and wet, freshly cut grass. Together these produce something I think could become a summer staple in my fragrance wardrobe. The only thing that concerns me is the lasting power...neither of these scents is known for hanging around too long. The good news is, they are both so light that reapplying shouldn't a be a problem, and in fact might bring more relief from summer heat and humidity.

Jo Malone Nutmeg & Ginger. Never, never try this. It will require nothing short of a Hazmat team to remove the noxious odor, which is something like a dirty tuna can left too long in the sun near a dried out rind of lemon. Hideous. Seriously.

My next fragrance layering candidates are: Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia, Jo Malone Orange Blossom, Sage Machado Coral Perfume Oil, and Creative Scentualization Perfect Veil. Stay tuned!

*photos: Annick Goutal from Aedes; Skin Musk from CVS; Jo Malone from Gloss

Saturday, February 10, 2007

And So It Begins...2007 Skincare Olympics

Even if you didn't read last night's warning, you may have intuited that this year, I'd be writing about things other than perfume. The perfume sampling is by no means stopping, but this skincare thing is on my fact, one of my first posts ever for this blog was on this very topic. My search hasn't stopped. Dr. Baumann's book didn't offer me a solution, and so I've decided to search for one on my own.

To be quite frank, I can only hope this works and will help a few of you. I've been all over Paula Begoun's Cosmetics Cop site and MakeupAlley; I've read The Skin Type Solution and The Perricone Prescription; I've tried Clinique, Lancome, Estee Lauder, Neutrogena, Cellex-C, Kinerase, Clarins, and La Mer products, just to name a few. I pore (no pun intended, thanks) over skincare articles in countless magazines. The books and reviews are sometimes helpful, but more often than not, I find it's all about simple trial and error. Or better yet, simple trials and tribulations: for if something hydrates my skin, it's likely to break me out; if something gives my skin a smooth, even appearance, it's likely to cause peeling I haven't experienced since back in the days when I believed (didn't we all?) that a good burn provided a solid base for a tan. (Although the damage isn't extensive--I stopped tanning and started using sunscreen in my early 20s--I would love to go back and kick my younger self. Hard.) Products marked as "safe" for sensitive skin can leave me red as a stop sign, while some products marked "normal" leave my skin feeling pretty fresh and healthy.

"It's all about the ingredients," you might say, and I'd be inclined to agree. However, which ingredients? And am I really to pull a scroll of ingredients from my purse every time I go looking for a product? And how will I know which of these ingredients will bother me, other than trial and error? For every list begins with an opening like, "If you have sensitive skin, you may want to avoid..." And how to explain why an ingredient bothers me when it's in one brand, but not when it's in another? Is it levels of concentration? Is it the way the ingredient reacts with its other little ingredient friends? People, it's maddening. I can only eat so much salmon and drink so much water; I seriously prefer two or three steps to eight or nine for my skincare routine; and frankly, I'm worried less about wrinkles than hydrated, even-toned skin.

To top it off, my loving husband, when he sees me tearing the protective paper off the mouth of yet another bottle of cleanser, toner ("But you don't need toner," you say. Oh, shut up!), or moisturizer, likes to say things such as, "You know, I don't ever really wash my face." He of the clear, smooth, lineless skin. And I snark back, "Well, you don't wear makeup, now, do you? Or do you? Have you been in my MAC?" Other couples have money and sex come between them; with us, it will be only the actual physical wall of product built out of my obsessive search to find something that both makes my skin appear smooth and even-toned and not flaky.

A little preview: The first trial I'll discuss is the skincare I used through most of December and January (except for the few days of Trish, days from which it took weeks to recover), which is what I call my "sensitive care" routine. In the second trial I'll talk about Liz Earle's Naturally Active Skincare, which I've been using for about two weeks now. I'm undecided about the third trial, but it will hopefully help me get over the second one (don't worry, I'll talk about the good as well as the bad for everything I try).

I'm open to suggestions if you have any!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday? Really?

How can it be? Have I really not posted since Tuesday? I swear, I think about posts to write for the blog so much in my spare time that some feeble part of my brain must believe I've actually done something about it. I can't ride the wave of everyone's love for Le Maroc forever, clearly.

I had to laugh because a commenter on Andy's blog called my post about Le Maroc "flowery." In my past life (all of two months ago), I was a technical writer. I tend to be terse. Busy people don't have time for the blah blah. But to write about perfume and be terse? Well, I suppose I could try a technical writer's approach to perfume, but I think it might be a little dry. I don't think I've ever read a post about perfume that wasn't "flowery," unless the writer absolutely hates a perfume. But no--not even then! Perfume folks are rather passionate in their opinions, either way.

This week, besides Le Maroc, I've worn Idole (at the suggestion of The Non-Blonde, I plan to pit it against Donna Karan's Black Cashmere), Lea Extreme (great comfort scent), and Iris Poudre (pure heaven). I'm working on more skincare posts. Yes, it may exasperate the perfume lovers out there, but my quest this year is to find something that works and let everyone know what I think. I like to share! Surely beautiful skin is as important as perfume? Isn't it?

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Andy Tauer Le Maroc pour Elle

Weeks ago when I was trying all those rose fragrances, several readers told me I should try Andy Tauer's Le Maroc pour Elle. My lovely fellow bloggers The Non-Blonde and Victoria of Victoria's Own both offered to send me samples, and as Victoria had already shared so much with me back when I got started on this blog, I took The Non-Blonde up on her offer. (Besides, The Non-Blonde and I are practically scent twins.) Many thanks to both ladies for being so generous and kind!

I received my samples on Saturday (you know, perfume nuts don't share one sample at a time). Yesterday morning as I prepared to start the week, I reached for Le Maroc. Believe me when I tell you, this is a scent for many moods. I wonder that if it couldn't get you through just about anything. Here's a description from the wonderful perfumer himself, straight from the Tauer Perfumes site:

"Le Maroc pour elle is the perfume of the Moroccan rose at dawn, combined with the seductive evening scent of jasmine. The flower fragrances melt into the enchantment of cedar wood from the High Atlas, forming a truly sensual oriental perfume. The head note is composed of fresh citrus and hints of lavender. Cedar wood forms the perfume body, gently combined with the balm of oriental woods."

Regular readers know my job has been rather trying lately. Mondays are long days full of meetings, so I deliberately chose a scent I thought might bring me a bit of comfort. I'd sniffed Le Maroc in the vial, and I guessed it would wrap me in a warm, heady blanket of scent throughout the day. But here's the part I didn't expect: I was driving to work surrounded by this amazing perfume, and I thought, "I smell sexy." I don't know what your lives are like out there, so maybe you don't think this is so unusual. Maybe Monday mornings are all about the sexy for you. But for me, as a person who rarely feels sexy even when called upon to be so--say, in evening dress or at the beach--I was downright surprised. I felt bouyed by this all day. Monday went so smoothly, I thought it was Friday. I sailed through meetings, I flirted and tried to charm...and I was at work, people! My voice was softer and more controlled; I handled the few crises that arose with grace and wisdom. People responded positively to me all day. And all because of a perfume?

I even made it to the gym before all the treadmills were occupied.

When I returned home, I sat down at the computer to unwind--meaning "read blogs"--and I saw that Angela of Now Smell This had posted on the best romantic Valentine perfumes, and one of the perfumes recommended? Le Maroc pour Elle! I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree. Understand: This is not necessarily a scent to knock your Loved One's socks off. In fact, Loved One may not even notice you're wearing perfume. I mean this as the highest of compliments to the perfumer, because this scent becomes you. It's the mark of a great perfume if it makes you say not, "I feel beautiful," but "I am beautiful." Even if Loved One doesn't notice it (although, let's be honest: Loved One will notice because it smells heavenly...because you smell heavenly), you will. Every time you catch a whiff of yourself, you'll swoon. You'll stand a little taller. You'll bat your eyelashes. You'll get your way.

If you're looking for straight rose, though, this might not be a first choice. The rose is there, but it blends seamlessly with heady jasmine and woods into something that should be a new flower all on its own. Andy Tauer has bottled magic! From the opening, which is softly bitter citrus and slightly herbal, into the velvety floral heart (I believe Andy used the word "melt" up there in the description) that moves into sweet warm wood, warm as a hearth fire, Le Maroc pour Elle is sensual and lovely, warm and embracing.

*photo from Luckyscent

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Fashion Week, Even for the Unfashionable

Unfashionable? Is that right? Unfashionated? Non-fashionable? I'm any and all of these things, any word you can make up that means, "When it comes to fashion, she hasn't got a clue." My daily uniform is a pair of Eddie Bauer boot cut jeans with brown suede loafers and one of my gajillion plain pullover sweaters. Occasionally I mix it up and wear black loafers, or a cardigan. I know. Don't faint.

Even though I'm hardly a fashion pioneer myself, I love looking at the photos from Fashion Week, and my very favorite thing of all is to see The Sartorialist's photos from outside the tents on Here we go:

First, here's me outside the shows. I wish.

Next, all the women are wearing shoes with tights, shoes one wouldn't normally pair with tights. I love tights, and I love the way this looks.

Scott Schuman, who is The Sartorialist, has a real talent for not only capturing a look on film, but also an essence. This woman reeks beauty, grace, and style:

And though I generally love everything he photographs, sometimes we disagree. This woman is 80s London (Boy George? Thompson Twins? Anyone?), which I find very fun for a costume party, but isn't really a look I want to see come back in earnest:

But no one can deny the man has his finger on the pulse, and I clearly do not. Check out what came down the runway at Nicole Miller:

Ah. Fashion. Do you really want to hurt me?

*photos from

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Guerlain Chamade

For three days, I've been wearing Guerlain Chamade. For three days, I've been wondering how to tell you about it. I'll begin with the notes:

Top: hyacinth, galbanum
Heart: ylang-ylang, jasmine, blackcurrant bud
Base: vanilla, sandalwood

At times when I write about perfume, I feel as though I'm a colorblind person who's been asked to describe a painting. As the colorblind person could not describe the shades of sunset in a Monet painting, I find myself unable to describe the notes I'm smelling. This sweet almost peppery opening that smells a bit like cinnamon to me, is that hyacinth or galbanum? I would guess hyacinth, but I can't say I ever smelled hyacinth. It's maddening. Did all perfume lovers except for me spend their lives in gardens and forests, sniffing buds and inhaling the scents of woods and dirt? Months ago I talked about putting together a scent kit for myself, and now I think if I want to keep going, I'd better start looking into it again.

At least I can give you the experience and impressions part, which, after what I just told you, you may find less meaningful: The top notes for me have the same sweet spice as the hated (by me) Chinatown, only this comes across as more floral, natural, and less cloying. In fact, I'd rather compare it to another favorite of mine, Citta di Kyoto, in this respect. The spice softens and becomes creamy and dark with the entry of jasmine and blackcurrant bud. It retains this creaminess as it moves into soft woods. And the other thing: it's very clearly a Guerlain and nothing else. I think if I were to smell it and not know, I'd at least get the maker correct.

I cannot imagine being colorblind any more than I can imagine remaining unmoved by music. What happens to art? I think it would be silly to assume that colorblind people can't love art. I read somewhere that often the colorblind will love color combinations (the colors as they see them, of course) together that the rest of the world finds appalling. (I think some designers must hire these people.) But is it any less valid? I doubt it. Of course, mine is a case of ignorance, which I can overcome. I can sniff the oils and train my nose. I can stop and smell the roses, and the hyacinths and the violets and the orange blossom and what-have-you. But I don't think you'll see me in the forest sniffing trees anytime soon.

*photo from you're looking for vintage Chamade, that one's for sale. Hurry!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

New Looks for Spring at Neiman Marcus

I've been meaning to post about this for the last week or so, and an email from Neiman's reminded me this morning: the Spring Looks are here! I love the Chantecaille, Jemma Kidd, and Laura Mercier looks for those of us who are fair. The look from Awake has a very dewy and fresh appeal as well. I think the Becca look is lovely for our dark-complected sisters, and the Christian Dior look is stunningly pretty.

The Trish looks very close to the Laura Mercier, and I prefer the Laura. The Nars model isn't impressing me (her eyeshadow looks very 80s, taking bold color up to the brow and not blending much, but perhaps that's the point--same with the YSL look), but the colors themselves are gorgeous. And I'm over the Bobbi Brown violet thing. I have to admit, though, I'd like to find a pretty soft lilac color for spring.