Friday, November 30, 2007

Winner of Tigresse Sample


The winner of last week's Tigresse sample is Parisa! As usual, I used the list function found on to get a random winner result. Parisa, please email me with your details and I will be sending out your packet on Monday.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heliotrope : Two Sides of the Same Coin

Opinions seem to be split down the middle when it comes to heliotrope. Some love it and seek its warm, comforting scent, while others hate it with a passion, reporting aversive reactions to it. Rarely are there any indifferent comments to be found when it comes to heliotrope scents. But that is a good thing, isn’t it? Something that sparks such intense emotions, whether these belong to one side of the continuum or the other, is surely worth a second glance!

Heliotrope, otherwise known as tournesol or turnsole, derives its name from its tendency to move with the sun. The many varieties of this plant are popular with gardeners for their heavenly scent. Blooms are most often white or lavender colored, and yes, there is a difference in scent: The purple colored shrubs emit a fragrance most often reminiscent of almondy vanilla or cherry pie, while the ones that bloom in white emit a fragrance which has been likened to baby powder.

My two favorite heliotrope perfumes are Etro’s Heliotrope and L.T. Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc. They are very different, yet both are charming and well made. Etro’s Heliotrope is as straightforwardly close to what people have learned to expect from heliotrope scents as can be. The opening is intensely almondy, instantly reminiscent to me of the bitter-almond essence my mother used to flavor the dough of the traditional baked goodies she used to make for Christmas. The very recognizable, Play-Doh quality that most haters of heliotrope scents despise soon follows, I’m afraid, but for those of us that love the smell this is a good stage, bringing back pleasant memories of innocent childhood play. And true, Play-Doh is not what you want to smell of when you are all dressed up for an evening out... But what about the times when you just want to de-stress at home, or one of these hectic mornings we are all bound to have from time to time? I’ll admit that this youthful reminder has helped me shut the world out a number of times while rushing to do the day’s shopping in the crowded city streets. The drydown is just as wonderfully comforting, or perhaps even more so, with gourmand, cookie-like notes of vanilla that feel warm and tender, enveloping the skin in baked goodness. The only drawback of this scent for me is that lasting power is not its strongest point.

L.T. Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc is definitely my favorite of the two, and I must say, the huge price difference makes this all the more pleasant! Heliotrope Blanc’s almond opening is much creamier than Etro’s, lacking the bitterness of the latter. It feels more natural too: instead of almond essence, I am left envisioning picking a yet unripe almond straight from the tree, still in its velvety green casing. There is a lively freshness to it and a nutty flavor Etro’s offering lacks. Once warmed by the skin the fragrance becomes sweeter and it is this sweetness that I find so attractive. Its character remains soft and gentle however: this is a semi-transparent, loving sweetness that wishes to caress. It never becomes cloying or heavy. Heliotrope Blanc is also gently floral, but while the official notes report jasmine and ylang ylang, I am completely unable to pick them out. These are both heady scents and Heliotrope Blanc is anything but. Instead, its tender floral undertones seem to me just an accent, like a distant memory whose meaning is forgotten, while the emotions related to it remain, making the heart beat a little faster each time a piece of the image’s puzzle floats into consciousness. The drydown combines a baby soft, faintly talcumed effect with a delicate balsamic feel, making it at once comforting and rather sensuous at the same time. I am reviewing the Eau de Cologne, I have to say, but the lasting power is excellent. This is a fragrance that wears close to the skin, but will linger and surround the body for hours.

As always when I review a hard to find fragrance, I offer a sample of Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc to one of the readers. Let me know in a comment if you would like to be entered in a drawing for this large 3ml spray sample.

Images: Photo & Artistic interpretation of Sunflower by Sakis Alexiou, Image of Kourabiedes (the baked sweets I was talking about) and macaroons from Flickr – originally uploaded by l&coolj, image of Heliotrope Blanc bottle from

Monday, November 26, 2007

Smelly Facts: A Collection of Little Facts

Do we take our sense of smell for granted? Do we lament the fact that it is nowhere near as sensitive as that of many other animals? It is still pretty remarkable. A few random facts today to remind us how special our sense of smell is.

· “We can smell smoke at concentrations well below that needed to trigger even the most sensitive of household smoke detectors.”
· “We can distinguish among roughly 10.000 different chemicals by their smell.” (Axel, 1995)
· “Blind people regularly identify other individuals by each person’s unique odor, and sighted people can do that too when they try.” Where does our special, identifiable odor come from? “In humans, specialized scent-producing glands (apocrine glands) are concentrated most highly in the axillary region (underarms) and also exist in high concentrations in the genital area, the alveolar area (around the nipples), the navel area, on the top of the head, and on the forehead and cheeks.” (Stoddart, 1990)
· “Much, if not most of what we call the flavor of foods is actually smell, not taste.”
· “As we get older, our sense of smell declines. By age 65, about 25 percent of people have serious olfactory impairment, and by age 80 the number is 75 percent." (Doty et al., 1984)

Note: All of the above facts are direct quotes from Peter Gray’s Psychology, 4th Edition, Worth Publishers

Image of navel:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tigresse by Nicole Lenzen & Yosh : Perfume Review

Tigresse is a bridal atelier (originally based in San Francisco, now relocated in New York) that specializes in custom-made bridal wear, evening gowns and accessories with a twist: The style is non-traditional, modern and innovative. About a month ago I emailed Nicole Lenzen, the founder and designer of Tigresse, asking for a sample of the homonymous Tigresse perfume, explaining that I wished to review it on my blog if I liked it. A couple of weeks later, a packet arrived at my house containing two tiny samples and the press release. I didn’t have to open the samples to know what the perfume smelled like: Even though the vials were intact, the lovely scent was so strong it had permeated everything. Even though the samples are tiny (a few drops in each) the sample I’ve opened has lasted me for several tests – the tinsiest of dabs will do!

Tigresse was created in collaboration with perfumer Yosh Han (Ginger Ciao, Kismet) and as is the case with all Yosh perfumes, contains no alcohol, just perfume oils and natural essences. This is one of the most beautiful, innovative, fruity-floral scents I’ve ever smelled. Yes, as you know I am not a big fan of the genre, yet this is one of the exceptions. There is no fake, plastic smell. There is no cheap undertone. This is not a light, agreeable little fragrance. There is no hint of the generic to be found here. You will have to forgive my lyricism: The opening of this fragrance truly smells like strong rays of sunlight bursting through the canopy of an exotic forest. Then the sun gets stronger, brighter. There is this sense of beautiful, clean warmth, like sun-warmed freshly washed hair. The fruity top notes are infused with the freshness of peppermint, and smelling close, the peppermint is feisty enough to actually free the nose and be felt on the back of the throat in the most refreshing manner. The dusty earthiness of pomegranate pulls everything together, bestowing a dry, tangy feel to the perfume. The heart of the fragrance is a most intoxicating lily scent, which if I am honest, smells to me more like a Japanese lily, with its strong, uncompromising scent, than a tiger lily. As time passes, Tigresse becomes more and more honeyed, without ever once stopping to bloom on the skin. If anything, it deepens, becomes more complex with the passage of time. It becomes –amazingly- the gorgeous, sweet scent of flower nectar, golden and lucid, like the precious drops hanging from a thousand stems gathered just for the sake of scenting one’s skin. This is what I love most about Tigresse, this sense of having found true, honeyed nectar, captured so beautifully I can practically feel its sweetness on my tongue, like a child, carefully pulling the stamen of a honeysuckle blossom and tasting the heavenly, precious droplet. If I had to choose only one word I could use to describe it, it would be vibrant. Everything about it seems brightly colored, three-dimensional and improbably real. It is as deeply exotic as the jungle and at once pure, like an unexplored beauty.

Official Notes: Pomegranate, Tiger Lily, Fig, Sweet Pea, Peppermint and White Ginger.

Since Nicole was kind enough to send me two samples, I want to offer one of them to you, my readers. Please let me know in a comment if you would like to be entered in the drawing. Results will be posted in a week’s time, next Friday.

Tigresse retails at 55$ for 15ml. and can be purchased at the Tigresse website, Luscious Cargo or alternatively at the Brown Eyed Girl Boutique in San Francisco.

Images: and

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Forget me Not: Antaeus by Chanel

When TMH of For the Love of Perfume and I came up with the idea for this feature a couple of months ago, we decided we had to find a name for it that would be neutral enough to allow us to write about both oldies we liked and disliked as well. Considering my feelings about Antaeus, I now find myself wondering whether Forget me Not is indeed neutral enough. Having said that, Antaeus should not be forgotten. Bare with him. He’s got tricks up his sleeve.

Created by Jacques Polge in 1981, Antaeus perfectly captures the spirit of a male powerhouse fragrance of the ‘80s. This potent brew, like so many of the decade’s creations, shamelessly advertises the wearer’s virility like an open declaration of blatant machismo. In fact, this juice is so strong, it easily evokes vivid mental imagery of a crazed male rubbing cologne on freshly showered chest hair in anticipation of ...what? Going out for a night of ‘pulling’? Does this ring any bells? Why yes, I think I’ve caught this scene before: Tom Selleck, in an advertizement for Revlon’s Chaz. I could not find it on YouTube, unfortunately, but the commercial is available on this site, third video on the right hand column.

Antaeus’ opening is briefly sharp and citrusy, but even during this initially fresh moment the animalic base is clearly perceptible. The slightly astringent, green coriander wilts under the pressure and then withers away into nothingness. I cannot possibly sniff too close to the skin soon after the fragrance is applied: doing so means nothing less than receiving a bold smack, or perhaps even a punch in the nose, which ends up delivering a mighty, stinging sensation behind my eyes. Had Antaeus been able to wear a drop of his namesake fragrance, surely he’d have had an advantage against Hercules. The heart of the fragrance is a slightly herbal, spicy rose, which keeps getting infused with the rising base notes. It is a rose wrapped in leather and oakmoss, and if it wasn’t for the distinct and very obvious...”maleness” of this fragrance I know this would be something I’d enjoy. If I close my eyes, I can, if only briefly, smell the inspiration behind it. I perceive this inspiration to be the hugely successful at the time, prickly, thorny, heavy as a paperweight dropped on the head, “here I come!”, female fragrances of the era. A surprising realization, considering Chanel never released such an obvious choice for women. The box does not mention oakmoss. Having said that, it is oakmoss that I smell so clearly at this perfume’s base. Oakmoss, labdanum and patchouli. How can this be? It is entirely possible of course that I am fooled, but I swear, after some point, this is all I can smell. Yes, the drydown of Antaeus is a definite leather chypre, to my nose at least, and this is its saving grace. A nasty, putrid opening, a far too strong, oppressing heart...But then, a beautiful reward in the end. I still wouldn’t be able to call this chic, or sophisticated. Its obviousness forbids me to venture that far. Yet, the thoughtful drydown does make up for the horror I suffer every time I test this on my skin. I cannot claim to like something so strong, so abrasive. But let me put it this way: Antaeus might seem like nothing more than one of many, many others initially. A little patience though, proves that he is actually, rather unique. A giant –much like the mythological being he owes his name to- that trod a road others still refuse to follow. And yes, if only for that, he deserves to be featured as part of Forget me Not.

Please also visit For the Love of Perfume to read TMH's pick for this month's Forget me Not.

Images: and

Monday, November 19, 2007

Slight Delay, Postponed till Tomorrow


Due to a ridiculous amount of studying in the weekend and a day filled with lectures today, I have to postpone today's feature, (Forget me not) until tomorrow. I am really sorry about this. Please check back tomorrow to find out what this month's oldie of choice is!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Smelly Facts: Odors & Perceived Attractiveness

Visual cues -such as symmetrical features- are of great importance when judging how attractive a face is. Sensory cues however (such as a person’s voice) also play a big role in whether a face will be perceived as attractive. (Demattè et al., 2007) Could the presence (or indeed absence) of certain smells affect the perceived attractiveness of a face as well? “Olfactory Cues Modulate Facial Attractiveness”, a recent article by Demattè, Österbauer and Spence explores this question with a most interesting experiment. In this experiment, the participants (all female) were asked to rate the attractiveness of different male faces presented on a computer monitor, while simultaneously being presented in each trial with either one of four different odorants, two of which were unpleasant and two of which pleasant (geranium or male perfume VS body odor and rubber) or a neutral odor (clean air). (For those of you wondering, the judgments on the perceived pleasantness or unpleasantness of these odors were derived by a pilot study) The results demonstrated (with statistical significance) that the participants judged the faces as being more attractive when they were paired with a pleasant or neutral odor (geranium, male fragrance or clean air) and less attractive when the faces were paired with the unpleasant odors (body odor, rubber). Since clean air and pleasant odors did not differ significantly between them in the effects they exerted on the participants’ judgments, the best interpretation of these results seems to be that only unpleasant odors seem to have a modulatory effect on perceived attractiveness. I would love to see more research on this subject, especially in regards to specific fragrances that people judge as generally pleasant or unpleasant. Yes, even though taste in perfume is subjective, I do believe that there are fragrances that are generally perceived as attractive or repulsive. Related to this last thought and for all of you (us!) Shalimar lovers out there, I include the following excerpt from the aforementioned, extremely interesting article by Demattè et al.:

“The only previous study that we are aware of in which the presence of an odor was shown to modulate people's ratings of the facial attractiveness of others was reported in a book chapter by Kirk-Smith and Booth (1990). The authors found that in the presence of a perfume (the brand Shalimar; once described by Paukner 1965 as being similar to an "ideal erogenous perfume"), both men and women rated half-torso clad photographs of men and women as being significantly sexier and softer as compared with a no-perfume condition.”

References: Demattè et al., 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eau Emotionelle by Agent Provocateur : Perfume Review

In love again, it seems.
On a particularly rainy, busy Thursday recently, I was frantically biking home after a full day of lectures and labs at the university, feeling quite sorry for myself, for I was completely drenched, cold and tired. My mood was instantly lifted though, as I opened the door to find a packet that came with the mail on the floor. Samples! A lovely reader I had recently sent some samples to, decided to surprise me with a little packet of her own, sharing with me some of her own finds. How wonderful is that? The gloominess of the day just washed off me in an instant, with the kindness that greeted me when I opened this thoughtful little packet.

One of the samples I received was Agent Provocateur’s Eau Emotionelle and I have –quite unexpectedly I might add- fallen hard for it. Eau Emotionelle is meant to be a lighter interpretation of the original Agent Provocateur scent, but I am hard pressed to find many similarities between the two. These are two very different scents, sharing a base that is perhaps slightly reminiscent of each other, but otherwise very dissimilar in ambience, feel and notes. I tried the original years ago for the first time, and even though I liked it, I never considered buying it, as I did not think it was unique enough. It is surprising that I find myself so unmoved by it, as it follows a recipe that I normally can’t resist: It is one of those fragrances that take no prisoners - it packs a punch, it is powerful, wild, animalistic, uncompromising and fearless... in other words, you can’t ignore it. In theory, it is perfect for me, in reality though I am just left shrugging, always ending up thinking that there are others that do exactly what Agent Provocateur promises, only better. Eau Emotionelle on the other hand seems almost unobtrusive, especially when compared side by side with its extravagant, older sibling. In fact, I have trouble discerning Eau Emotionelle at all for a while after smelling Agent Provocateur, the latter being so strong it completely overpowers my senses for a while, making me unable to detect the mild scent of the former.

Yes, Eau Emotionelle is mild and soft, but certainly not as tame and innocent as one might initially think. The opening is ever so slightly green and sappy but soon a lovely, sheer sweetness comes through that lasts throughout the development. There is a spiciness running through it, but one that lacks a bite, being gently enticing instead. The middle is a beautiful, delicate floral mélange that is utterly seducing, like a fine-spun gossamer veil. The base in turn, is gorgeously sensual: intriguing musk and a dusting of the finest loose powder. If the original is a plush boudoir covered in velvet and silk throws, Eau Emotionelle’s bedding is made of the best quality, high-thread Egyptian cotton sheets, with pastel-pink feathers strewn over it and a pair of the finest, daintiest, white lace underwear forgotten on the pillow. Seemingly innocent yes, but not quite... Indeed. This subtle scent is full of hushed promises. Catching the eye of a stranger for a moment too long, the accidental flashing of a woman’s warm abdomen, a lingering smile on flushed lips. And comfort. Heaps of it. Comfort and sexiness combined. Can you tell I am really, in love again? I’ve been looking forward to buying this gorgeous skin-scent for about a week now and come Saturday it will be mine. Sweet anticipation.

Images:, and

Monday, November 12, 2007

And a Little Rumor

While courting a box of La Collection again during the weekend, I got into a conversation about Lancome products with the very enthusiastic Lancome sales associate. We started initially talking about Climat, the reformulations, the difference between the 'regular' Climat and the one sold as part of La Collection. We then went on to discuss our preferences in regards to perfume concentrations, at which point the conversation turned to Magie Noire, and I expressed my disappointment at the lack of an EdP. To my surprise, the sales associate informed me that there will actually be an EdP of Magie Noire released after Christmas! Exciting, no? I do hope this is true!


Something for my Dutch Readers

Back in May, I wrote a review of the now discontinued Libertine, by Vivienne Westwood. At the time, there were still a few testers floating around at some Ici Paris(Boo, Hiss!) boutiques and perhaps one or two bottles as well. Soon after, Libertine completely disappeared, or at least I stopped seeing it altogether in the boutiques I frequent. This Saturday though, I happened upon a drugstore I hadn’t seen before and I decided to step inside, even though it did not look all that interesting at first glance – too many shampoos and shaving paraphernalia and too few perfumes to truly make me think I was going to find anything truly interesting inside. I went in anyway though, and to my surprise, I discovered they still carry Libertine! The shop is called “Beautique La Birynth” and the address is Denneweg 13A, 2514 CB, ‘s-Gravenhage. Their telephone number is 070-3638194. They still have a few bottles left, as well as a tester. Do pay a visit an sniff Libertine while it’s still there, it’s worth the little trip!

I hope this is of help to those of you looking for a bottle of this delightful perfume, or simply curious to sniff it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Histoire Charnelle by Hubert Maes Créations : Perfume Review

Hubert Maes is the creator of three perfumes so far: Histoire d'un Rêve, Histoire Charnelle and Délicieuse Histoire. He is also the owner of Le Soleil d’Or boutique in Lille, France. I have not tested Histoire d'un Rêve and Délicieuse Histoire extensively enough to have formed a solid opinion on them, but at first sniff the former appeared too girly, young and frivolous for my tastes, while the latter appeared to be altogether too foody. Histoire Charnelle on the other hand was just right – it instantly moved me in a way the other two didn’t, moved me in fact enough to consider buying it on the spot, something I almost never do. What is more surprising though, is that I also felt instantly apologetic upon smelling Histoire Charnelle. Apologetic towards coconut, a note I up until recently deemed rather, I guess.

It was only four months ago, in the beginning of July, when I wrote about coconut scents. In that same post I at once admitted to craving coconut scents every summer, yet, at the same time, I adamantly advocated my views on how coconut is never advisable for city-wear, insisted that the note is certainly less than chic, named it inelegant without regret, and even went as far as to say that I am “loath to use the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ in the same sentence as coconut”. While I do not yet feel ready to completely revoke these statements for they certainly do apply to most, if not all, of the coconut based fragrances I’d ever smelled before Histoire Charnelle came into my life, I am now forced to admit there do apparently exist exceptions, and Histoire Charnelle is certainly one of them. I couldn’t help but mentally mock my former statements the moment I sniffed it. Even though it is only listed as a top note, coconut is definitely the core of this fragrance, with every other note dancing obediently around it. It never leaves my conscience, persistently remaining the star of the fragrance from the beginning to the end. And yes I do feel apologetic towards it, because it petulantly contradicts everything I’ve ever said about it. Yes, this is an elegant coconut; yes it is chic as can be. Yes, I’d gladly wear it in the city, rain or shine. Yes, yes, yes I’d even wear it in winter, yes, with a tweed jacket and knee length skirt. Yes, I’d wear my leather gloves....With coconut!!! With this coconut.

“She is shadow and figure… she is the woman of today’s world.
This lady, creates envy everywhere she goes.
She leads the dance, she’s ambitious and very conscious of her charm and sensuality.
People look at her when she passes by.”

Hubert Maes, on Histoire Charnelle

Histoire Charnelle means “Carnal Story” and the scent itself is as lusty and warm as the name indicates. The opening is delightfully spicy and, surprisingly perhaps, rather dry, with an intense vintage quality. It is rather thick and bold in character, just as the woman Hubert Maes evokes with the quote above. Uncompromising would be a good word to describe it: This is a fragrance for a woman who cares not what others think of her. In a way, this fragrance smells to me like pure curves... I guess what I am trying to say is that the scent does not evoke images of an ethereal being, but of a creature who is there to stay for as long as she pleases, a provocative presence you cannot possibly ignore. As the fragrance develops on the skin, the dryness slowly disappears (I wish it did last longer, because it is what initially made it so distinguishable) and the scent becomes all the more rounded and voluptuous. I keep getting whiffs of something that smells very spicy, something that vividly makes me think of ground black pepper, but pepper is not one of the listed notes. The cinnamon is deep and dark and adds beautifully to the warmth of this fragrance. Slowly the sweetness of the ambery, vanillic base comes through, making the drydown quite comforting, but I would still hesitate to call it gourmand. To me, this is an oriental fragrance that has enough warmth and voluptuousness to allow the wearer to appear inviting and sensual, but is at the same time elegant enough to allow a certain amount of detachment without appearing false. Beautiful.

Official Notes:
Top Notes: (Fruity-Fresh) pear, coconut, bergamot, tangerine
Heart Notes: (Woody-Aromatic) sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, cinnamon, nutmeg
Base Notes: (Ambergris-Scented) tonka, vanilla

Images: Author's own, (artistic interpretation of Forzieri leather jacket w/ fox collar, Author's own) and

Winner: Maria Amalia by Morris Sample


The winner of last week's draw for Morris' Maria Amalia sample is Chayaruchama! Please send me your details, and I will be sending the little packet :)
This is not all for today, I will be posting a review of Histoire Charnelle a little later today, so do visit again.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Winner of Pierre de Lune by Armani Prive Sample

I forgot to post the results of last week's draw for the Pierre de Lune Sample yesterday. The winner is Kim. I used the list function at for the first time for this draw and I will keep on using it for all draws from now on. Much easier than cutting little pieces of paper, folding them and having someone pick one!

Kim, please send me your details and I will post the sample to you!

Thanks for participating. I will post the results for Maria Amalia tomorrow as promised.
Have a wonderful day, everyone!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Perfume for the Occasion: Perfumes for a Stressful Day

Might certain scents help in alleviating stress? When TMH of For the Love of Perfume and I were discussing this month’s Perfume for the Occasion feature, we thought it would certainly be an interesting question to explore. Influenced by the fact that October was a rather hectic and stressful month for both of us, we felt that others too, might wish to read a few suggestions on which fragrances might promote calm, and help in easing stressful feelings away. For my part, I decided to put the focus on aromatherapy and I have to say, it has been great fun looking into this subject. The essential oils most often suggested for the purpose of alleviating stress turned out to be bergamot, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rosemary, chamomile, and to a lesser extent, ylang ylang. The question is, of course, do they really work? As a student, I am lucky to have free access to many scientific journals that allowed me to research the issue further. After reviewing several articles, the answer to the question of whether these actually work was a definite “yes” for some of these oils (bergamot, lavender and rosemary), and a clear winner had emerged: Lavender, which appears to be the most beneficial of the three. Specifically, lavender has been shown to have major benefit in stress related disorders, to decrease cortisol levels and reduce mental stress. Shall we then, take a look at a few lavender suggestions together?

· Jicky by Guerlain: I couldn’t make a post about lavender and leave Jicky out, of course. Having said that, Jicky remains a mystery to me. To me, Jicky still seems like a chameleon, ever changing colors. Sometimes its lavender scent seems long-lasting, enveloping me in its slightly camphoraceous aroma for hours. Other times I lose its trail relatively quickly, finding myself left all too soon with a slightly leathery, earthy vanilla, and struggling to detect the lavender that made it seem so controversial to my nose initially. Sometimes Jicky seems wildly animalic, making me think I must have it, but the next time I try it, it turns into sweet innocence and I find no reason to add it to my collection. Despite the mystery, Jicky does seem like a good suggestion to me, as it contains both lavender and bergamot oil.

· Lavender by Floris: Admittedly, the opening notes make this fragrance appear rather scary at first: This is an intensely herbaceous lavender with a rather sour opening. However, it soon calms down to a light, elegant and most pleasant blend of lavender with a touch of geranium and hints of rosemary. The result is very dry and aromatic giving an impression of chic simplicity. This is definitely my favorite of today’s suggestions! If you wish to treat yourself, I wholeheartedly suggest splurging on the Lavender Tranquility Set as well, and indulging your senses on the evenings you really need to relax! The Lavender Tranquility Set contains the Lavender Moisturizing Bath & Shower Gel, the Floris at Home Lavender Candle and the Patchouli & Lavender Sleep Enhancing Pillow Mist. The candle is my absolute favorite part of the set, smelling like a very sweet, gentle lavender. (It is the sweetness that gets me! – I want this translated into a body mist now please!) The shower gel is very herbaceous, smelling like true, dried lavender. I like this a lot, because it smells exactly like the lavender-filled, tiny cotton cushions my dad used to bring to me to put in my drawers when I was a little girl. The pillow mist is a dry blend of lavender and patchouli, which makes the pillow smell wonderfully fresh and crisp. Although intense at first, the scent soon becomes quite natural – I do not find myself conscious of the aroma as I fall asleep. In fact I only sense it at first when my head hits the pillow, and it is very pleasant, as though the pillowcase had just been washed. Still, make sure to test this before buying. Patchouli can be difficult and the purpose of these products is to help you relax, not keep you awake!

· Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens: I am very ambivalent about adding this one to today’s post. Let me be honest: I do not like Encens et Lavande. I certainly would not wear it myself. Still, I decided to use it as the third suggestion for a lavender fragrance to try in times of stress, if only because it is very interesting. (who knows, aside from the natural properties of lavender, perhaps the surprise element this fragrance offers will create enough a distraction to forget about stress for a while too :) But let me get to the point: Celery. This is certainly not the only Serge Lutens fragrance that has a definite celery scent, Mandarine Mandarin is another example, but surprisingly perhaps, I love it in Mandarine Mandarin – it somehow blends in perfectly with the rest of the notes. In Encens et Lavande the celery is not only extremely pronounced but very discordant as well: It antagonizes the lavender every step of the way until it (finally) disappears. For as long as it lasts (give it at least an hour or two...) it completely ruins the fragrance –for me at least. What is very interesting however, is how salty, how savory, Encens et Lavande is, and I attribute this to the dreaded celery as well. If only for this strange savory character, I do suggest you try Encens et Lavande at least once. Another interesting, but once again discordant, note in Encens et Lavande, is sage. I love sage, and the note is very true in this fragrance, but it is too pronounced for me to appreciate it. It completely overpowers the lavender for as long as it lasts. Or perhaps I can only appreciate sage in Diptique, what can I say? All is not negative however. Encens et Lavande does finally dry down to a very soothing, soft lavender a couple of hours after it is first applied. It then tends to smell like a very traditional masculine lavander cologne, with soft musky undertones. I still wouldn’t wear it just for the pleasant dry-down, but truth be told, it is pleasant. Perhaps Gris Clair would have been a better choice, but unfortunately it is one of the Lutens I consistently overlook and thus have no sample of. Is it a good lavender scent? How does it compare to Encens et Lavande? Do let me know!

Lastly, I have to admit that personally, when I am stressed I either feel like exploring something new to distract and relax myself, or I get this strong sense of being compelled to wear a specific (different every time) scent. It feels a bit as though my body is asking for the specific thing it needs when this happens. Which scents do you use when you are stressed? Do you self medicate with perfume like I do, or perhaps cannot stand scents at all in times of stress?

Images:, Author’s own and

Friday, November 2, 2007

Smelly Facts: Olfaction and Gender Differences

Perfume enthusiasts often marvel at the individual differences that emerge when one person’s experience of a scent is compared to another’s. Our individual perception of a scent is likely tied not only to life experiences that have shaped the way we perceive certain smells, but to constitutional differences as well. One very surprising and important variable that plays a role in olfactory differences is gender. “On the average, women detect odors more readily than men, and the brain responses to odors are stronger in women than in men.” (Doty et al., 1985) Additionally, women are apparently more attentive to smells as well. For example, the smell of a potential partner plays a bigger role for women than it does for men. Furthermore, when repeatedly attending to a particular faint odor, women have the ability to become gradually and progressively more sensitive to it, until they can detect it in concentrations one-thousandth (!) of what they could at the start. (Dalton et al., 2002) However, it must be noted that this effect is not exhibited in prepubertal girls and menopausal women, so this ability seems to be tied to female hormones.

What effects might this increased sensitivity have on the different ways men and women perceive the same fragrance? Are there any implications for professional perfumers? It seems unthinkable, considering the time and enormous effort involved in training a professional nose. On the other hand, according to studies, only women of sexually reproductive age are able to detect faint odors in such minute concentrations as mentioned above. Surely that should make a difference? I realize I am following a controversial train of thought at the moment, and one I am certainly underqualified to make any assumptions on. It certainly is an interesting topic though, wouldn’t you say?

Dalton, Doolittle, & Breslin, 2002
Doty, Applebaum, Zusho, & Settle 1985
Kalat, 2007