Saturday, July 26, 2008

Perfume Week in Review: July 20 - 26

My apologies for not getting this post up yesterday. What a week! My perfume selections were all over the place, kind of like the weather. One thing hit me early yesterday morning on my way to the gym, when I realized that it was still quite dark even though only a month ago the sky held imminent brightness, that the days are getting shorter and fall is on the way. After that I sensed fall in the air all day. Most likely this is all psychological, because my birthday comes at the end of July and for me still marks that short span between birthday and back-to-school, even though it's been many years since I actually lived by that calendar. If my perfume choices this month tell me anything, it's that I have been more anxious than usual this year for fall's approach. I've wanted nothing but spice and incense, even as I try now and again to wear something light and summery. Anyway, enough babbling. Here are the perfumes:

Sunday: Annick Goutal, Eau de Ciel. This is a light, lovely, iridescent fragrance, like a dragonfly's wing. The notes are Brazilian rosewood, violet, Floretin iris, and lime blossom, and while they are lovely, they were not strong enough to convince me that I should continue to wear light, breezy scents, even in the heat, which is why on Monday I went with...

Monday: 10 Corso Como. This was a bit more like it, with notes of frankincense, musk, rose, geranium, vetiver, and Malay oud wood oil, although I must admit, it left me feeling a bit like Goldilocks. That is, Eau de Ciel was too light, too ethereal, and 10 Corso Como, while sophisticated and lovely, proved to feel a bit to dry for me. Perhaps it was my mood, but it made me think of leafless branches and high, icy clouds, and even though I'm ready for fall, I'm not that ready. It made me a bit melancholy, so on Tuesday, I went with...

Tuesday: Donna Karen, Wenge. This is one of my oldest samples. I'm pretty sure I picked this up in the first few months of blogging, which means it's been floating around in my stash, neglected. Wenge is part of Donna Karan's Essence Series, which also includes Lavendar, Jasmine, and Labdanum. I think it might be beautiful blended with something else, but alone it translated to something like saffron on my skin, and I found it a bit stifling. I have this same problem with Safran Troublant, which is quite pretty, but in summer tends to make me feel as though someone has soaked a rag in the stuff and tried to smother me with it. Having decided to leave Wenge alone until it gets cold and give it another shot, on Wednesday I decided to buck up and wear something summery, so I went with...

Wednesday: Estee Lauder, Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. Even in its straightforward, simple beauty and elegance, it could not sway me. The perfume matters less than the fact that on Wednesday I met my first ever friend of Sweet Diva, Vida. She had offered me a sample of one of her favorite perfumes, and after emailing back and forth we realized that we work inside a mile from each other. Vida is quite cool and generous and fun, and she brought me a lovely bag of goodies! We had a lot of fun over lunch chatting about perfume and blogs and Sniffa and so on. How lucky I am to have such fun readers! I told her that the next day I would be sure to try...

Thursday: Montgomery Taylor, Ambra di Venezia. This warm, elegant floral, with notes of narcissus, jasmine, mandarin orange, lime, sandalwood and mango was certainly much more fitting with my mood. I agree with Vida that this is one of those perfumes that, instead of developing by note, from the first makes you feel as though someone has handed you an exquisite bouquet of stunning flowers. I think this would be lovely year-round, and who wouldn't want that bottle sitting on her dressing table? Apparently Montgomery Taylor is quite an artist when it comes to glass as well. Too bad for me, the hand-blown limited edition bottle is too costly, but the juice is still available in a regular bottle and well worth it. The next day, I thought about wearing this again, but I didn't want to use it all up right away, so instead I decided to wear...

Friday: Santa Maria Novella, Eva. With notes of citrus fruits, Italian bergamot, black pepper and vetiver, you might think this was more up my alley, after all my complaining about florals and my quest for something drier, spicier. This was lovely, but I think this one is suited to cooler weather. I also tend to have trouble with fragrances bearing black pepper (I cannot abide Rose Poivree, for example), but this one wasn't overwhelming. I'm afraid I can't do it much justice, though, because I was coming down with a cold, even though I didn't realize it until today, when I decided to wear...

Saturday: Estee Lauder, Private Collection. I could still smell when I put this on before going to the hairdresser this morning (I make it sound like I went to have a wash and set or something), and at the top, this one is too too green for the likes of me. Luckily, after about twenty minutes or so, it becomes something wonderful, or at least I trust it does because both my colorist and Bob said I smell good, and I'll just have to believe them!

I hope your week has been an adventure of scent as well, and that you'll share some of your fun! Have a wonderful rest of the weekend, my friends!

*images from Aedes, Donna Karan, and Montgomery Taylor

Friday, July 18, 2008

Perfume Week in Review: July 13-18

I got this brilliant idea around the middle of this week, to change "What's Your Friday Perfume?" to "Perfume Week in Review," mainly because I was sampling away this week and realized I didn't want to keep any of it from you. Of course, the problem with having such an epiphany on Wednesday means I can't totally remember little details about other things I wore earlier in the week. Doh! I'll try to keep notes for next week, so I can pull it all together, but for now I'll do the best I can from memory.

Of course, I still want to hear about what you're wearing or sampling, not just on Fridays, but any time!

Sunday: L'Artisan Patchouli Patch. With notes of osmanthus, patchouli, white musk, anise, and spices, this is not your Woodstock hippie's patchouli, so if you've been avoiding this one because you're afraid it will remind you of the guy in your college English class who never seemed to change clothes (or bathe, for that matter), have no fear. This is patchouli with a refined, bright edge. I happen to like patchouli even in its "hippie oil" form, so this one worked well for me, although I have to prefer, I like a richer treatment of patchouli, more like the way it represents in Flowerbomb--a little sexy oomph.

Monday: Etro Shaal Nur. This was a "do over" of sorts, because I haven't worn Shaal Nur since the first time I sampled it, almost two years ago. that doesn't stop me from telling everyone how much I love it, though, so I thought maybe I'd better check on that. Results: Yep. Still love it. It's a pretty spiced rose, soft and calming, dry and spicy, and really rather modern, I think. I've linked to my review, and I stand by what I said!

Tuesday: The Different Company, Sel de Vetiver. I think at one point I had about four or five sample vials of this perfume. I somehow worked worked my way down to two (some of you out there may have received this from me), and I'm glad I finally heeded what the universe was obviously trying to tell me and tried this perfume. With notes of grapefruit, patchouli, cardamom, geranium, Haitian vetiver, iris, and ylang ylang, Sel de Vetiver is, to me, a very feminine vetiver perfume (as opposed to being a feminine perfume that contains vetiver), and luckily I wasn't overwhelmed by the citrus at the top. I'll have to talk about this one again, because as you can see, it was Tuesday. Tuesday was a long time ago, people.

Wednesday: L'Artisan, The pour un Ete. With notes of jasmine tea, green tea, lemon, and peppermint, this perfume is exactly as advertised: a refreshingly fragrant burst of tea on your wrists. It also happens to have terrific lasting power. I like tea scents, although I admit to not having tried many of them. If someone were to hold a gun to my head and tell me to buy a tea scent now dammit, I could choose this and not regret it, even if there were some other tea-based scent out there (Osmanthe Yunnan) I liked better.

Thursday: L'Artisan, Timbuktu. I love L'Artisan, and I'm amazed I haven't worked my way 'round their full offering not only once but twice by now. Sadly, I have a few samples that simply got lost in the crowd before I cleaned things out, and this was one of them. Probably this was a good thing, because I'm in a place right now where I am being very budget conscious and thoughtful, so I'm not tempted to GO OUT AND BUY IT NOW OH MY GOD I LOVE IT. Ahem. Excuse me. The notes are green mango, pink pepper berries, cardamom, karo karounde flower, smoky incense of papyrus wood, myrrh, and vetiver. This perfume is indescribably wonderful, but I promise to wear it again and try a better review. I even got a compliment on it, for the simple fact that it's so unusual and wonderful it stands out like the most elegant woman in the room at a party. Bottle worthy, and at the top of my list, possibly superseded only by the perfume I am wearing today, which is...

Friday: Hermes Hermessences, Vetiver Tonka. The Dark Knight premiers today, so in the spirit of things, let me just say, "Holy gorgeous vetiver perfume, Batman!" Vetiver Tonka is one of the more interesting treatments of vetiver I've tried. It's something much sweeter, even softer (dare I say powdery), yet without losing its own character. To me this perfume has the same presence as my beloved Elixir de Merveilles (no surprise, with JCE as creator); it's rather dry, but less gourmand. Elixir de Merveilles to me has a looser feel, more bohemian, if you will, where Vetiver Tonka is...well, a more self-assured, confident version of the same. It's less gourmand than Elixir, more floral, and it feels as though it's had everything unnecessary stripped away (not that anything in Elixir is unnecessary--no!) The notes are neroli, bergamot, vetiver, roasted hazelnuts, dried fruit, cereals, and tonka bean. My favorite Hermessence of the bunch so far. Oh yes.

So that's my two cents for the week. How do you all smell out there?

Have a lovely weekend!

*images from basenotes, luckyscent, and aedes

Friday, July 11, 2008

Etro Messe de Minuit

I don't care how hot and sticky it is outside, all week I have been craving incense. I tried for several days to force myself into something "summery" (Prescriptives Calyx, Clinique Happy Heart, Serge Lutens Fleur d'Oranger), but the days I've been happiest with my perfume choices I've worn something dark. Wednesday, it was Black Cashmere, and today, it's Etro Messe de Minuit. We've had quite a bit of rain this week, and outside just feels swampy, but there's something about Messe de Minuit which suits this weather perfectly. It feels as though I've escaped the rain by running into an old wooden church full of mildew and incense. This might not sound appealing, but I assure you it is. Something about this fragrance feels so full of history.

I can also tell my incense phase has yet to run its course. Even though it's not technically an "incense" scent, I almost broke out the Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir this week as well--and I'm not saying it still won't happen.

What about you, friends? Are you spritzing to beat the heat, or to suit your mood?

Have a lovely weekend!

*image from Aedes

Thursday, July 03, 2008

What's Your Holiday Perfume?

First off, I need to come up with something better than this lame "What's Your [X] Perfume?" for these posts. They're all starting to run together, and me no likey.

I thought I'd get a head start on the weekend and post today, since it's Friday for most of us. Today I'm wearing Laurence Dumont Vanille Violette, from a sample sent to me by reader Nikki C. I can assure you that I will most definitely NOT be wearing this perfume tomorrow, though, because there's no way I'm going to be that casual with the precious drops I have left. This was one of those perfumes that as soon as I had dabbed it on my wrists, I knew I was going to be in trouble, because the first thought in my head was to look it up online and see if I could get my hands on some. Wouldn't you know, Sephora is out of stock, but they kept the image and description up just to taunt me, along with the fact that at some point in time this lovely juice was marked down to $10 a bottle! That's right! TEN DOLLARS!

It occurs to me that maybe I shouldn't be telling you how pretty this is, because there's likely no way you're going to find any unless you know someone who has a bottle. (The Perfumed Court doesn't have it, and Nancy over at Fishbone Fragrances is on vacation until July 14 and is not displaying her current inventory. Bah!) The notes are rose, ylang-ylang, bergamot, violet, lily of the valley, sandalwood, and benzoin, but I smell nothing but the most perfect, sweet summery blend of violet and vanilla, just enough of each so it is neither candied or foodie. This is how I had hoped things would work out between me and Christian Dior La Collection Particuliere Passage No. 8. We all remember how that turned out. This is a much happier ending--or would be, if I could get my mitts on a bottle.

Now, something else I've been thinking about: patriotic perfume. Stay with me here. For the holiday season, the wondrous events from October through January, we have all sorts of choices in terms of holiday perfumes--beautiful spicy, incense-y scents that reflect both the season and its spirit. For those who celebrate Easter, you have your choice of perfumes based on lilies, or anything that means, essentially, that spring has sprung.

But what about the Fourth of July? Let me admit right off the bat that this is my least favorite holiday of the year. In the few places I've lived in my life, this holiday is generally represented by drunk rednecks towing boats to and from various lakes, whilst wasted on Budweiser. I like fireworks, but I hate crowds, particularly when said crowds are filled with the aforementioned rednecks, who are usually so drunk by twilight as to be more obnoxious than usual.

I guess if I were being literal about it, I would say that any perfume representing the Fourth would contain notes of hot asphalt, grilled hot dogs, beer, lake water, sweat, watermelon, and firecrackers. (Are you listening, Christopher Brosius?)

Ugh. Let's not be literal. Let's instead think: what's the best perfume to represent the Fourth, and what are the criteria? Obviously, the perfume must be an American perfume, or at least by an American designer. I feel like it should also be somewhat classic, although I'm not averse to having more modern releases on the list. Most likely it would be friendly. I also believe it should be iconic, and therefore most likely popular. I know that makes some of you shudder, but think of it like the flag. Someone may have a niche flag out there that he thinks represents America better than the Stars and Stripes, and his friends may know about it and love it and agree--it's much better--but, uh, who cares? I've come up with some ideas, and you can either weigh in on these, or add your own. Here are a few I thought of (and these all happen to be "women's" fragrances, and all of them launched in the 1970s. Does this have something to do with my childhood, I wonder, or a particularly good era for American perfume?), but I'm amazed how short my list is:

1. Lauren, by Ralph Lauren (1978). Notes: green notes, violet, rose, carnation, spices, woody notes. I hear this has been reformulated, but it's image is still classic to me. This was a popular perfume when I was growing up, and to me it represented all sorts of chic Americana: monogrammed cable knit sweaters, penny loafers, deck shoes. This is what you wear watching fireworks from your sailboat in the Cape, no? (Do they have fireworks there? Can you watch them from boats? Doesn't matter. This is my fantasy. And note that the boat here is a SAILboat, not a motorboat pulled behind a giant pickup truck sporting a confederate flag sticker.)

2. Charlie, by Revlon (1973). Notes: citrus oils, peach, hyacinth, tarragon, jasmine, lily of the valley, cyclamen, carnation, cedarwood, sandal, oakmoss, vanilla. You cannot get more American than some kicky gal named Charlie in her white suit and bright smile. I loved those commercials. I wanted to grow up to be a Charlie gal, much more than I wanted to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. (Name that perfume!)

3. Private Collection, by Estee Lauder (1972). Notes: green note, orange blossom, linden, jasmine, reseda, chrysanthemum, rose, sandalwood, heliotrope, musks, amber. Sure, I could have gone with the more obvious Youth Dew, or even with White Linen (see sailboats and Americana above), but Private Collection is sort of like the American Chanel No. 5, don't you think? I would like to think of Private Collection as sort of an American perfume ambassador, representing us in its stately, sophisticated yet casual way. I fear, though, that people think of us more like Giorgio of Beverly Hills--loud, obnoxious, and insistently cheerful. I'm also going on record here: I think Estee Lauder might be THE American perfume house. What say you?

I would be tempted to add a few others, like Elizabeth Arden Bluegrass, which was my very first "grown up" perfume aside from Love's Baby Soft. Or how about Clinique Happy? Anything by Calvin Klein? I know I must be leaving off the most obvious, and I will want to come back and edit as soon as I've published this! Oh well, I'd rather hear from you all, anyway!

Have a safe and happy Fourth!

*images from Sephora and OsMoz