Monday, June 30, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet on Summer Vacation and Draw Winner Announcement

Goodmorning dears! I've been impatiently counting down the days left till my vacation and this Wednesday I am finally flying to Greece. It's going to be Thessaloniki-Syros-Mykonos this time around. I will be taking a much needed rest (no, no, it's a lie - I will be partying! And shopping. And partying!) until the 26th of July. Expect the Bouquet to be back in full force on Monday the 28th! I am hoping to post at least once from Greece as well, since there are a couple of summery fragrances I've been itching to write about.

The winner of the vintage and modern Le Dix samples is Edwardian! Please email me your address as soon as possible - if I have it soon enough to be able to mail the samples from here (instead of from Greece) then I will be able to include a few extra goodies in the packet!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Dressing Up Your Perfume: Ready, Set, Customize... Diesel Fuel For Life!

So, you already know I love Diesel jeans, clothes and accessories, and if you’ve read my reviews of the Fuel for Life fragrances you’ve probably already gathered I find them delightful - in fact, I am wearing the female version today, just as I am getting ready to go and grab a nice cup of coffee in the sun with my best friend. Oh yes, its light patchouli scent is definitely perfect to accompany the wonderful aroma of coffee! But before I step out for some much needed photosynthesis and chitchat over a caffè macchiato, I want to show you some beautiful accessories, not for yourself, but for your perfume!

Wilbert Das, the creative director of Diesel and his team, have created 12 different pouches to dress up the Fuel for Life fragrances. Fuel for Life lovers can now customize their bottles by dressing them up in different designs. There are currently three different styles offered: the seductive netting the original feminine version came with, the wild leather bomber that winks at Diesel’s rebellious side and the classic jeans jacket which underscores the brand's wonderful relationship with the sturdy, ever fashionable fabric. All styles are offered in different colors, as you can see in the images below:

Which one would I choose? Well, since I can no longer get my hands on the absolutely fabulous Limited “Bling” Edition (a drool-worthy picture of which you can view right here), I would have to go with the next best thing, the chained black bomber. Sexy and tough at the same time.

The newly dressed up bottles can be found exclusively at Diesel Boutiques.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Forget me Not: Balenciaga’s Treasures – Le Dix, Quadrille et La Fuite des Heures

For Basque-Spanish designer Cristóbal Balenciaga success came easily, if not effortlessly. Having spent countless hours of his early childhood by his mother’s side while she was working as a seamstress, Balenciaga went on to study tailoring formally in his teenage years. His designs instantly became highly sought after and he managed to open his first couture workshop, named Eisa after his mother, in San Sebastián at the young age of 16. When he was just 20 years old, he branched out, opening his first boutiques in Madrid and Barcelona, naming them simply “Balenciaga”. Highly successful, his designs became popular not only with the crème de la crème of Spanish aristocracy, but even with the members of the Spanish royal family itself. The civil war forced the Spanish master to close his boutiques and move to Paris, but nothing could quite stop the trajectory of this rising star. In 1937 Balenciaga opened his Parisian showroom at number 10 of Avenue George V. He quickly became a household name, but his fame truly rose to a resounding crescendo in the ‘50s and ‘60s. He is remembered for his work with sleeves, necklines, hems and rising or dropping waistlines, which all conspired to showcase different parts of a woman’s body to their best advantage. Most importantly though, he is remembered for his fascinating innovations: Balenciaga revolutionized the shape of women’s apparel like no other. Cocoon coats, boxy jackets, wide collars, sack dresses, balloon skirts and jackets, tunics, and baby-doll dresses all owe their place in fashion history due to this great man. Balenciaga retired in 1968, closing down his salon. Today the house has seen a revival in the hands of PPR, with head designer Nicolas Ghesquière at the helm. While Ghesquière’s designs have often seemed slightly too ‘out there’ for me when it comes to accessories like shoes, I simply cannot imagine a better choice for the house which carries this esteemed name into the future: Ghesquière admirably continues Balenciaga’s tradition in highly sculptural and architectural designs, picking up exactly where the great master himself left off. Under his creative influence, the house of Balenciaga keeps producing revolutionary designs that shape not only the face of fashion today, but also the shape of a woman’s body, once again. Like a phoenix, the house has been reincarnated, its wings gleaming with the same fire, showing us new colors, new shapes, new shades through the burning flames of success.

Today on Forget me Not we take a look at three forgotten vintage extraits by this house:

· Le Dix: Named after the address of Balenciaga’s Parisian showroom, Le Dix (No. 10) is a magnificent ambery floral. The top notes are unfortunately destroyed as often happens with vintage fragrances that feature citrus fruits, but the unpleasantness lasts no more than a few minutes. Soon Le Dix starts flying off the skin in song, glowing and beautiful. Musky lilac and caramelized violets are caressed by iris. The scent is gently sweet, with hints of restrained bitterness. The drydown is a glowing ember in the fluid darkness of balsamic resins and amber, hugged by beautiful sandalwood and sweet animalic musk. I wouldn’t hesitate to call the modern edt utterly destroyed, if the vintage extrait is anything to go by. It is light and ethereal, yes, but it lacks body and substance. Powdery and soft, it does not do much to move the heart and intrigue the senses. If I am being honest, I will say that yes, there are days that I feel like reaching for its light caress, but it simply cannot compare to the richness and darkness of the original. Surprisingly perhaps, the currently available edt smells old, dated and dusty while the vintage still shines and captivates with a beauty that is simply timeless.

· La Fuite des Heures: Another round of painfully destroyed top notes. Five minutes later and I simply cannot believe that the beauty presented to my nose has emerged through the nauseating devastation that was there moments ago. The experience starts with the sweet, milky greenness of freshly cut grass and continues to warmly bloom into a dizzyingly heady jasmine with sour, herbal notes of thyme. I find myself swoon as the heavy sweetness of jasmine overtakes me, making my head spin: I go from fantasizing over a 50’s cocktail party in the heart of summer to looking for a fainting couch that will cushion my fall. And then, suddenly, beauty again. The refuge of oakmoss covered bark amidst the thinning shower of flower petals. Deep green moss, creamy soap and the golden aura of sun-dried hay, making me dream once again of dresses that leave the shoulders bare. A gorgeous chypre.

· Quadrille: Quadrille is the only one of the three that appears to not have its top notes degraded over time; It is beautiful from start to finish. It is also the one that seems to veer off into more traditionally masculine territories. An incredibly warming fragrance, it reminds me of viscous red mulled wine. Intensely spicy, herbal and deep, Quadrille successfully combines elements that seem at once modern and vintage. In fact, I could very well see Quadrille being a successful masculine fragrance in the niche market today. It is a perfume deeply attractive to me, due to its generous use of clove, which I adore. Drenched in thick plummy juices, the spiciness becomes mellow and dark, awakening a persistent urge to press my nose against my skin so that I can explore its rich, violet-colored nuances further and further. Comforting and sensual at once, the astoundingly beautiful Quadrille makes me think of calmness and maturity of spirit. It would be very hard for me to decide on a favorite between the three Balenciaga perfumes presented here today as I find them all wonderful: Le Dix seduces me with its true animalic, ambery drydown, La Fuite des Heures intrigues me with its demanding old-chypre character, but in the end, if I am honest, it is Quadrille which truly wins my heart with its darkness, so abundantly decorated with incandescent rubies and amethyst.

Leaving a comment on this post means you will be automatically placed in a random draw for a sample of vintage Le Dix extrait and a sample of modern Le Dix edt. The winner will be announced on Monday afternoon and all entries until Monday morning will be valid.

Images: & Author's Own

Monday, June 23, 2008

1740 & 1873 by Histoires de Parfums : Perfume Reviews

In favor of rounding off our exploration of the Histoires de Parfums library instead of breaking the series up, today’s scheduled Forget me Not feature will appear later this week. Today, we sit down with two more tomes from this intriguing line of fragrances.

· 1740: Whether the outward manifestation of the powerful emotions the libertine writer Marquis de Sade provokes in those who attempt to gain some insight into the workings of his mind is anger, repulsion, or wonder, the truth is that this is a man that has kept the public fascinated one way or another for more than two centuries. Histoires de Parfums draws inspiration from this almost mythical persona and translates it vividly, turning ugliness into beauty in one of the most gorgeous scents of the library. 1740 is at once pungent and filmy, aged and modern, skillfully sketching the profile of a true classic. Richly spiced, with powerful accents of black cardamom, coriander and cumin, this fragrance manages to instantly awaken exotic fantasies and stir deep desires. It has this beautiful ability of alternating between the scent of a hot, dry north-African wind blowing gently through an exotic spice market and the more rounded, flavorsome, passionate aroma of viscous red dessert wine. Its core is pure, raw animalic dirtiness, caressed by the deep scent of good, heavy leather. Hints of immortelle, birch and vanilla slightly sweeten this magnificent potion to the point that it becomes absolutely addictive. 1740 is labeled as a masculine, but I know that all you ladies who enjoy deep, woody, spicy, dirty things are going to love this too. It is stunning.

· 1873: 1873’s opening is shockingly timid, considering that it is a perfume inspired by the admirably unafraid Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a woman of unquestionable intellect and sensuous temperament. 1873 starts out with the gentle, sweet and musky freshness of the original Mühlens’ 4711 colone. It is a simple and delightful opening with light petitgrain, gentle spices, citrus freshness and musky warmth. It is hard for me to imagine it will turn into anything more than this familiar, lovely smell, which while perfect for the summer as well as retro-chic by nature, is not exactly groundbreaking. But how wonderful it is to be wrong! Excitingly, 1873 acts like a witty conundrum – a striptease in reverse. It starts out almost naked, but soon starts tantalizingly decorating herself with lacy, gauzy garments and jewelry. The fruit becomes juicier and juicier, drenching the neck with the nectar of sweet, never tangy oranges, tangerines and lemons loved by the sun. The warmth of the skin makes the generous, feminine bouquets of white florals bourgeon and bloom on the skin, but their scent seems to be coming from far away, carried to the nose by a pleasant breeze. They are light and airy, playfully skipping around their crowning glory, the orange blossom. There is a feeling of whiteness accompanying this scent, bringing to mind strands of pearls. Behind the lightness in turn, hides a sumptuous core that feels edible, like the curve of a peach you’d want to sink your teeth into. The drydown sees the emergence of a rounded, gourmand musk, whose inexplicable and fascinating piquancy delights and puzzles the senses. A beautiful fragrance whose development keeps me interested for hours.

Even though our three-part series comes to a close today, we will for sure return to the Histoires de Parfums line in the future, as there are still gems in the line I would love to explore more with you, such as the absolutely dirty Noir Patchouli and the surprising transformer, 1828 (Jules Verne). As a closing remark, I’d like to say that I can’t wait for more tomes to become available in this scented library, especially in the section of biographies. The date that I am personally most eager to see in the collection, is 1908, Simone de Beauvoir. How about you?


Friday, June 20, 2008

Ambre 114 & 1969 by Histoires de Parfums : Perfume Reviews

It’s Friday and as promised, we’ll once again be visiting the Histoires de Parfums library. The two perfumes we'll explore today are Ambre 114 and 1969; together they form the “Cult Books” subcategory in Histoires de Parfums' collection of tomes.

· Ambre 114: If you are a fan of amber fragrances, and especially if you like huge, golden holy dragons of scents, like Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s Ambre Précieux and Artisan’s Ambre Extrême, then you definitely need to try Ambre 114 – you’re going to love it. Ambre 114 pays great emphasis on its gorgeous ambergris note, around which everything seems to revolve with inevitable attraction. It is a wonderfully aromatic take on amber, no doubt due to the use of thyme and nutmeg in the composition. The potion gradually changes from herbal luminescence to a mysterious darkness dimly lit by an incandescent heart of gold. Throughout the development the nose is seduced by a progressively intensifying, exotic smokiness, which finally disperses in the drydown to reveal the most gorgeous vanillic tolu-tobacco accord. Comforting and sensuous at once, this warm golden scent will be perfect for the colder months, ideally in front of a roaring fire.

· 1969: As a teenager, I spent a good number of years obsessed with song lyrics and titles – analyzing them, devising games to play with my friends and often, quite embarrassingly I must admit, replying to questions with them. Something that I discovered through this minor quirk is that numerous songs in both English and other languages are titled 1969. Even more songs reference 1969 in their lyrics. People are fascinated by this year, which has attained a power akin to a magical number in our culture. I am not surprised to see the date crop up on a perfume bottle; 1969 is indeed, as the perfume’s box indicates, a mythical year:

The Beatles give their last public performance.
Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono conduct their Bed-In at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal; they record “Give Peace a Chance”
The first message is sent over ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet; a few months later the first link is established.
The world watches as man takes his first steps on the Moon.
Cold War.

Perhaps it is that last reference, Woodstock, which has me expecting a patchouli-ladden, headshop extravaganza, done in the most sophisticated manner possible bien sûr, but 1969 is anything but. It is a surprise, much like every event in the unexpectedly significant last year of the decade it pays homage to. It smells like a quaintly decorated shop of sweet culinary delights and fruits. At the very same time, it smells like freshly washed shiny hair, warmed by the sun. It smells edible, but not quite, like candied fruit bewitched. The opening is intense and fruity, like citrus fruits preserved in sugar. And ever so slowly it becomes softer and softer, until the intensity of the fruit dissipates and unfolds, to reveal a perfectly blended, lightly sweet softness underneath. Smelling close, there is something lovely and strange emerging out of the smooth sweetness – something cooling, like mint. The passing of time brings floral notes to the fore, a gentle rose and a shy, mild carnation that become the most salient features of this scent, until finally, in the drydown we are left with a bed of cacao opening its arms to receive the shower of flower petals. This fragrance seems deceptively simple at first, but becomes more and more complex as you get to know it. Its most striking feature, the way it combines coolness with warmth, is definitely worth getting to know.

While we continue to discover the Histoires de Parfum line together, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that the lovely Marina over at Perfume Smelling Things is running a raffle today! The lucky winner will receive a sample packet of all 12 Histoires de Parfum scents.

Images: and

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

1826 by Histoires de Parfums : Introduction and Perfume Review

Histoires de Parfums, an artisanal, family owned, niche maison de parfum, was created by the devilishly handsome Gérald Ghislain, entrepreneur, art lover, chef, restaurateur and ISIPCA trained nose. I have been discussing this line of fragrances for about a week now with my closest friends and the comment I most often hear first is that the name of this house is the most beautiful they’ve ever heard. Not only is the name indeed beautiful, it is also original and clever: a play on words, Histoires de Parfums means both “History of Perfumes” but also “Stories of Perfumes”.

I recently received a lovely little press-packet from Histoires de Parfums, containing a sample pack of their 12 fragrances. I’m usually powerless against temptation and find myself heedlessly sampling as many new fragrances as possible in a single day when presented with such a bounty of novelty, but these scents are so special that I have managed to actually contain myself for once. I am not even halfway through the dozen – the development of each of these beauties is so divinely complex that I would do not only them, but also myself injustice, were I to gobble them up with the gusto of a bulimic. The upcoming reviews here on Fragrance Bouquet will focus on slowly exploring this so far very impressive line of perfumes.

It is quite counterintuitive for me to start with my favorite of all the Histoire de Parfums fragrances I have so far sampled – I’d normally keep the best for last. However, I have fallen so hard for 1826, I simply can’t delay gratification: I need to talk about it! Let me start by saying that I don’t know what has happened to me in this past year: Slowly but surely, I have turned from a patchouli hater to a – gasp! – patchouli lover, so much so in fact, that I have lately caught myself mentally composing my very own top 10 patchouli fragrances list. (Yes, I admit it. My erstwhile fellow patchouli-hating brethren can now feel free to put me against the wall and stone me.) Enter one of the best patchouli fragrances I’ve ever smelled: 1826 belongs to the Main Characters collection of seven “volumes” in the line, which tell the stories of famous people, influential for their generation, and take their names after their respective dates of birth. This one in particular is inspired by Eugénie de Montijo, wife of Napoleon the third and last Empress of France. Empress Eugénie was an elegant, beautiful woman who’s name became homonymous with good taste, leading the masses to follow her every step in fashion, just like future generations would follow the trend-setting steps of other famously stylish First Ladies. Not just a pretty face, the empress was a highly opinionated, very well educated, intelligent woman who kept herself busy with French political affairs, becoming an influential figure who acted as a Regent during Napoleon’s absences. 1826 tells her story sotto vocce, focusing on a theme of patchouli, whose trail she reportedly loved.

This is a perfume that rustles and whispers, never raising its voice more than needed. Its opening is soft and subdued, making the wearer experience sweet, feverish, tantalizing impatience until the warmth of the skin finally awakens this shy fragrance and makes it slowly unfold. Through the mysterious, unidentifiable, pillowy softness of powdery florals, emerges a strange, deep nuance: a peculiar coconut-oil dirtiness that makes the perfume veer definitively into animalic territory. It calls to me like the erotic smell of skin, like the scent emerging from the crown of a lover’s hair as I lean in to plant a kiss on their forehead, eyes closed. And slowly the beautiful scent keeps evolving, languorously blooming with sweet, aromatic accents of aniseed, cinnamon and leafy patchouli. As time goes by, the shy patchouli becomes stronger, its darkening tendrils exploring the skin with quiet lustfulness, until they finally meet their true match in ambery vanilla, with which they form the most beauteous, delicious embrace.

1826 is an absolutely marvelous patchouli perfume – in fact I have wanted a full bottle of it ever since the first time I tried it on my skin. I find myself craving its gentle, sensual luxury every day now. If you’re not scared of temptation and wish to sample these gorgeous eaux de parfum too, the full sample collection can be purchased for just 5 euro from the official Histoires de Parfums website. Please let me know if you have tried any of these beauties and how they work on your skin and I’ll see you all again this Friday, when we’ll leaf through another tome or two.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Perfume for the Occasion: Beachy Scents

Ah, summer..! The occasion for this month’s PFTO is versatile and malleable: a summery state of mind. Whether you’ll be making your escape to an exotic local, a cosmopolitan resort, a blindingly white Mediterranean isle set against the endless blue, a relaxed camping where you’ll be spending your days at the beach bar and your nights drinking frozen beer around a campfire on the sand or right here in the city, escaping every evening and weekend to the roof-garden of a hotel to sip cocktails by the poolside with your friends, forgetting every little worry, you’ll need the perfect perfume to enhance the experience, the perfect fragrance to complete the marvelous sensory pleasure-bomb that is summer.

When looking for a fragrance to accompany your picture-perfect summer memories, the best idea is to look for something that makes you feel sensuous and ethereal at the same time. Perfumes that achieve this effect are a perfect match for the looks we all associate with summer: bright colors, light, natural fibers, revealing cuts, billowing fabrics, chunky, colorful jewelry, high wedges and sexy flat sandals. The most common note for summery scents is of course coconut, and it is indeed the note this month’s PFTO mostly focuses on. A lot of people would probably reference breezy, marine scents with obvious ozonic or watermelon notes for this occasion, but I think warm, sensual scents that manage to avoid being cloying or suffocating are better suited to the erotic, fun-loving mood of the summer holidays. Aside from coconut, look for notes of strawberry, vanilla, jasmine, orange blossom, tiare, gardenia and ylang-ylang. Before we take a look at my favorite picks for the occasion, a word of warning: If you are traveling somewhere where you are expecting really warm weather, and especially if you are going camping, make sure to decant a small quantity of your perfume into a purse spray atomizer and take this with you instead of your precious bottle. High temperature is perfume’s most vicious enemy – you don’t want to leave your bottle boiling in the heat!

· Beach by Bobby Brown : For those of you wanting to recreate the feeling of a retro beach, complete with colorful towels, wet bikinis, blinding, blissful sun and the sound of the rolling waves as the heat lulls you to sleep, this is definitely the ticket. Bobby Brown’s Beach is the most accurate rendition of Coppertone sunscreen, bottled as a scent. Memories in a bottle.

· Fire Island by Bond No. 9: Another very successful rendition of Coppertone sunscreen, Bond No.9’s Fire Island can easily be mistaken for Beach – they are almost twins. Fire Island is rather more citrusy up top, has a stronger sillage and a woodier base, but the effect is truly the same. Sand between your toes, beach ball games, laughter and sun. Smelling both Fire Island and Beach at the same time, I find it hard to decide which one I like better. Beach is more realistically close to its sun-block inspiration, but if I were hard-pressed to choose I’d probably go with Fire Island, whose sweeter approach has a more fun-loving appeal and a more interesting development than the more linear Beach.

· Ipanema by Satellite: From the absolutely stunning bottle complete with seashell decorations, to the saturated turquoise color of the juice, which matches the golden trimmings so perfectly to remind me of gorgeous summer outfits, all the way to the beautifully summery scent, I am utterly in love with Satellite’s Ipanema. I want this on my dresser, and frankly I am not sure I would be able to resist grabbing this one with me on my summer vacation. Forget decanting, I want the luxury of being able to hold this fabulous bottle in my hands every time I am ready to go out! It would put a spring in my step! A yummy, light coconut note, blended with white florals, which dries down to the warmth and sensuality of vanilla and woods. Visit Luckyscent to grab a bottle online, or visit Satellite’s own website to ogle the fabulous jewelry and find a stockist near you.

· Strawberry Perfume Oil by The Body Shop: Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking... Strawberry? Body Shop? Really? But yes, really, this is so very summery, so very happy, I couldn’t help but include it. A juicy, strong smelling, girly fragrance which smells both fruity and warm. Perfect for a day of exploring the labyrinthine alleys of a sun-drenched Cycladian island or an evening beach party. If you’re a strawberry lover, give this a try. Much better than Miss Dior Cherie. Hah!

· Vanille Coco by Comptoir Sud Pacifique: This is one of my summer staples and an absolute favorite. It is the fragrance that comes closest to my beloved Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil it terms of scent, and believe me, I have searched for that addictive smell everywhere! This is the most delightful, warm and delicious vanilla-coconut combination I have encountered. For me, it is the smell of summer. Arm-gnawing worthy, edible perfection. My boyfriend hates it, but it makes me truly, absolutely happy. Sometimes a girl has to make some difficult choices.

· Beautiful Hula Girl Hula Hula by DSH: This is one of the most summery fragrances the absolutely lovely Dawn Spencer Hurwitz has created! Hula Hula’s opening is a mad cornucopia of fruit and cream that fills the mind's eye with swirls of interchanging colors. After the initial explosion of fruit, this delightful fragrance settles down to a creamy, beautiful combination of yummy coconut, pineapple, light florals and mango. This is one of the most innovative summer scents I’ve ever tried, and truly worth its spot in my summer fragrance wardrobe.

· Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder: When all is said and done, Bronze Goddess is Azurée Soleil’s twin sister, a clever move by Estee, seeing as Azurée Soleil became a bestseller. Unfortunately, when it comes to packaging, Azurée Soleil’s bottle was far more summery and attractive, but the juice remains as lovely. Bronze Goddess is truly this summer’s must-have fragrance; if you’re going to invest in only one beachy scent this year, let it be this one! As last year's review of Azurée Soleil indicated, this one has it all: tropical dreams, coconut flavor, ripe fruit, narcotic blossoms, sea-spray and sensual, mildly animalic hints that make this fragrance scream of midsummer eroticism.

· Sampaquita by Ormonde Jayne: An absolutely unisex fragrance in my opinion, Sampaquita smells like grassy sambac jasmine and water lilies, surrounded by a warm cloak of spicy black pepper. An all-day round scent in the rest of the year, Sampaquita becomes an essential evening addition to a summer wardrobe where it perfectly reminds one of the day’s heat accumulated on streets radiating into the air in the nighttime and lovingly mixing with the scents of night-blooming flowers, which hangs thickly in the air. Sampaquita is one of the three Ormonde Jayne scents that also comes in the lovely pots of gold, Parfum d’Or Naturel, a dazzling, alcohol free way to wear your fragrance, perfect for summer evenings.

Lastly, before I close this rather long post, I have to mention three fragrances I have not personally had the pleasure of sampling myself as of yet, but which I have heard are perfect for the summer. These are: Patricia de Nicolai’s Cococabana, Anna Sui’s Dolly Girl on the Beach and Ava Luxe’s Venus Sands, which you can sometimes find in her Etsy Shop. For true beachy scent devotees, these are worthy of investigation!

What do you think of Beachy scents? Do you think they are bottle worthy, or do you hesitate before making an investment in a bottle that doesn’t often see the light of day during the colder months? Do you have a favorite? Let me know!

Images: Flickr by Januszl, Flickr by PinkMoose, wikipedia.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Have you already done your Father’s Day gift shopping? Judging by the hordes of last minute shoppers I encounter every year right before Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, most will be rushing out in panic to try and find something just a day or two before the holiday. This year, this sometimes forgotten –in comparison to the widely advertised Mother’s Day, that is- holiday falls on the 15th of July in most parts of the world. What will you be giving your dad this year? You’re probably expecting me to say that I will be gifting my father with a fragrance, and truth be told, he is a man that has worn cologne every single day of his life, ever since I’ve known him. He has gone through bottles of Jazz, Eau Sauvage, Fahrenheit, Photo, Jacomo, as well as a short, awful spell of Obsession, but for me the one perfume most closely associated with him will always be the utterly Mediterranean Paco Rabanne pour Homme, the perfume my dearest dad used to wear when my hand was still so tiny that he used to offer me his pinky finger to hold, instead of his whole hand. A simple memory, yet one so heart-wrenchingly moving for me, my tiny hand, trustingly wrapped around his finger. He’d offer it with a smile. Our secret handshake. But no, I won’t be giving my dad perfume this year, even though I still miss the way Paco smelled sweetly metallic, fresh and at the same time warm on his skin. I will be giving him beautifully smelling pipe tobacco, from the esteemed House of Hajenius, because I know this is what he really wants. Tobacco blended with flowers, tobacco tasting like malt whiskey. Even though he doesn’t look like the archetypical pipe-smoker - he’s slim, dresses in Lacoste sweaters and Italian jeans, never sports the merest shadow of a beard- great quality pipe tobacco is what he’d really like. Whatever it is I am giving him this year or the next, nothing can ever come close to showing him what I feel for him: Endless love and appreciation, love so warm and deep that makes my heart spill over. Admiration, for he is the most wonderful man I know: Accomplished, intelligent, funny, talented, caring, loving, loyal and faithful. He has always been there for me, like the strongest mountain that always shields me from bad weather. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

Many people see these types of holidays with the eye of a cynic. I say, life is too short for that. Let’s be honest, most of us live rushed lives that don’t allow us to show our deep appreciation as often as we’d like. These days are there to remind us to pay some extra attention to the ones we love. And they deserve it! Go on, get out there, buy your dad something. Wrap it up beautifully. Most importantly, write him a card. And if you’re not feeling too old for it, draw him a heart. Make him smile!
For those of you still looking for a gift, here are some ideas to help you narrow down your search:

· Every Man Jack’s Beginner’s Luck Kit: This is probably one of my favorite gift options this year, a perfect selection of grooming essentials you can get both easily and for a great price to boot! The kit contains Every Man Jack’s Body Wash, Body Bars, Face Wash/Face Scrub, Shave Gel and Face Lotion and includes a toiletry bag. I love the smart, masculine packaging of the products and I can’t help but gush over the price: $24.95 for the whole kit! You can find EMJ’s Beginner’s Luck Kit in Target stores all over the states.

· Hand-Made Naturals Calendula & Aloe Vera After Shave Balm for Men: This is the perfect addition to any Father’s Day gift basket. Both my father and my boyfriend are men with sensitive skin that needs conditioning after shaving, and a good calendula balm is the only thing that works wonders to eliminate redness, dryness and to provide a cooling, calming effect. I can definitely recommend this one, by Hand-Made Naturals, a great balm which is free of synthetic ingredients, and contains, along with calendula, also aloe vera, palmarosa, shea butter, rosehip seed oil and vitamin E. A yummy treat for the skin, filled with goodness!

· Aegean by Neil Morris: Summer is here, and even though I am most probably biased, summer for me means the endless azure of the beautiful Aegean sea. If you really want to pamper your dad, why not buy him a truly luxurious summer perfume? Neil’s Aegean evokes the summery Greek coastline with mouthwatering notes of mandarin oranges, fragrant basil and aromatic quince. I feel a little guilty for including this, for the only way to quickly get this is to actually live in New York, where it is available at Takashimaya. But as I said... I am biased. I dream of the Aegean more and more every day as the date of my holidays in July draws closer. So forgive me for teasing you a bit as well. For most of us not living in New York, Neil’s perfumes are available through his webiste, Neil Morris Fragrances.

· Acqua di Parma Shaving Cream: Most of us fragrance fanatics know and love Acqua di Parma for its fragrances, but the niche Italian brand actually includes the wonderful collezione barbiere, which is rarely talked about. Part of this luxurious shaving products and accoutrements collection, is the Acqua di Parma Shaving Cream, a rich, thick product which turns into creamy foam when used with a shaving brush and promises to tame even the roughest beards. Soothing and refreshing, it contains hydrolyzed wheat protein, almond oil and extracts of mallow, lemon balm and water mint.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Summer Special at the Posh Peasant

Are you planning on burning some cash on samples or decants any time soon? The lovely, warmhearted Abigail over at the Posh Peasant is having an early summer special! With any purchase of $50 or more, shoppers receive three 1.5 glass spray decants of the following perfumes for free:

- Estee Lauder's newly launched Sensuous
- This year's summer must-have, Bronze Goddess by Estee Lauder and lastly,
- Filles des Iles Floral Solaire, a fragrance which combines the salty coolness of the ocean breeze with the comforting warmth of amber.

This offer will expire on the 20th of July or when supplies are exhausted.

New Link List : Niche Sample & Decant Websites

I often receive emails and occasionally comments here on Fragrance Bouquet, from readers wondering where they can sample or purchase this or that hard-to-find fragrance. I have decided to create a new links section (easily found if you scroll down on the right hand bar), listing all the webshops I know of where you can purchase samples and decants of many of these elusive scents, not only to help you the readers, but also to show my support to the wonderful people that enable all of us to experience fragrances we wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to! If you are the owner of a decanting service I have missed, please do not hesitate to mail me and I will add you to the list.

Note: Fragrance Bouquet is not affiliated with any of the listed websites.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pulp and Chembur by ByRedo : Perfume Reviews

Word on the street is that Ben Gorham is one of us. Yes, the ex-professional basketball player is really a perfume junkie, a fragrance nut, just like us. Mr. Gorham founded his own company, ByRedo (By Redolence) in 2006, and started testing the scented waters first with high quality candles, room sprays, soaps and body products. Earlier this year, he launched his first personal fragrance line, a collection of five unisex fragrances in Eau de Parfum concentration, named Green, Chembur, Gypsy Water, Rose Noir and Pulp. While the company’s logo bears striking resemblance to that of Parfumerie Generale, and the bottles themselves are quite reminiscent of the ones in the Frédéric Malle line, the premise behind the scents sounds very promising: They are all based on Gorham’s memories, little snapshots of life, places and people, that nose Jerome Epinette was entrusted with, in order to encapsulate them into precious, scented liquid. Now that is memorable. And so are the two scents I’ve had the pleasure of testing more extensively, Chembur and Pulp.

· Pulp: Even though I don’t generally get along with overly fruity scents, one of my most surprising discoveries this year was that there are indeed certain fruity perfumes that will beguile me. The first one this year was Tigresse, which I am sure you are all tired of hearing me go on and on about by now. The second contender certainly has to be Pulp, a scent I felt a certain attraction towards from the moment I first smelled it. This is an intense, no holds barred, incredibly bright and colorful fruity scent that is bound to fill any old grey day with sunshine. It is as summery as they come and then some, actually managing to smell deliriously, ecstatically happy. The most attractive feature of Pulp –aside from its happy, sunny disposition, that is- is this lovely, jammy accord that makes it feel absolutely edible. Lovers of fig fragrances who have grown tired of the one-track-minded, single note scents populating the market like mushrooms in the last couple of years, will find a new friend in Pulp, which makes a striking, utterly green fig note its star attraction amidst all the psychedelic, exotically sweet extravaganza. The lovely interplay between fresh fruits, caramelized sugar and slightly dissonant minty undercurrents manages to keep me interested for hours, until finally the scent turns earthy and slightly woody. I am quite intrigued by the fact that this is marketed as a unisex fragrance – I can’t imagine a man wearing this to work for example. Then again, this is not a work type of scent anyway, so why not be daring? If you are after something youthful, luscious and fruity, this is most definitely worth a try!

· Chembur: Chembur is a northeastern neighborhood on the outskirts of Mumbai, India, where Gorham’s mother was born and raised. Throughout his childhood, Gorham paid several visits to Mumbai, often enjoying beautiful picnics with his family in Chembur. The memory of the temples and shrines, the incense in the summer heat and the colorful garlands of flowers are all encapsulated in this perfume, possibly the most beautiful scent this Stockholm-based niche line has to offer. The opening is marvelous, all zingy lemon that is at once fresh and marvelously oily, like rind shavings, balanced by a rising warmth and sweetness. The heart is pulsating with deep incense, dark and delightful, hugged by mellow resins. A sharp vetiver note I absolutely adore cuts through the softness like a dagger of sadness through the heart. The base notes manage to retain a burning incense quality, while at the same time interjecting some much needed solace with a deep, sweet, musky-myrrh accord. A truly beautiful fragrance that stays close to the skin, a slightly unsettling and very moving companion for the colder months of the year.

ByRedo fragrances can be purchased from Cow in Stockholm, Colette in Paris, Les Senteurs in London, Barney’s in New York and Skins in Amsterdam.

Images:, Flickr, originally uploaded by Roswitha Schacht and Utpal.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Divine by Divine : Perfume Review

One of the houses I feel a certain affinity towards is Divine, and to their credit, these feelings have been built not on artificial branding strategies or clever advertising, but purely on their scents. Their masculine scents, although perhaps a little safe, are elegant, luxurious and refined. Their female scents have had this rare effect on me, making me wish I owned them from the moment I first smelled them; a wish that did not prove to be a passing fancy. I own and love L’Inspiratrice and look forward to buying both L’Infante and L’Ame Soer sometime in the near future. Surprisingly enough, the only Divine scent that did not actually manage to move me the way the rest did, is the small niche company’s first, homonymous offering, Divine.

My reaction the first time I smelled Divine was both powerful and inexplicable: I was instantly gripped by the strangest feeling of déjà vu, surrounded by a fragrance so very familiar and yet so disturbingly out of reach, I just couldn’t put my finger on it no matter how hard I tried. Even more disquieting than the strange familiarity of the scent, was the way it was stirring my emotions, making me feel as though I was constantly on the verge of reliving some, until then suppressed, rather unpleasant memory. Only there was no such memory... Just the bizarrely unsettling feeling of coming across someone who had, in the past, been important enough to recognize, yet being utterly unable to do so. And this, coupled with a feeling of oppression from the scent itself: It is a perfume that feels like the grandest bouquet of heady, narcotic blooms in a tiny, moonlit room with door and window hermetically closed. A sadness accompanies the fragrance that fills the last time of tearful lovemaking after saying goodbye.

“Open the window darling... Let the night in...”

Divine is beautiful, too beautiful perhaps. She’s got theater make-up on. She looks good from afar, but once you come close enough to congratulate her on her wonderful performance, you’re thrown, overwhelmed by the intensity of her over-defined features. Close up, she can be frightening and quite awe-inspiring. There’s something brutal about her, like a Grand Damme of the ‘80s. She’s a prettier, mellower Poison, but loses the battle, for even though far superior, she is not a recognizable classic and is thus left walking behind. She’s like a sister to Lauder’s Beautiful, only not as sparkly, loving and fun. Looking at her one last time and finally deciding that I do not indeed know her, I decide she is dated.

Image: Flickr, originally uploaded by Vanessa

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet Loves... Kanebo

Fragrance Bouquet doesn’t just love Kanebo, Fragrance Bouquet adores Kanebo! We were long overdue for another FB Loves feature, so today I would like to present to you the five Kanebo products I simply cannot live without.

First of all, a few words about Sensai, the line I use: Sensai means “delicacy” or “finess” in japanese, but it also expresses an ideal of beauty and grace. Perhaps it wouldn’t inspire too much confidence in some, but Kanebo actually begun as a textiles company and research into cosmetics was spurred by the fact that the women that worked with silk textiles at the factory had beautifully youthful hands, so the company begun researching the effects of silk on the skin. The first skincare products were launched in the 1930s and they have been featuring silk as an ingredient ever since.

My skincare regime begins with the Sensai Silky Purifying line to which I am absolutely devoted. Before I started using the three products I am about to present I had problems with clogged pores in areas in my t-zone, mainly on and around the nose as well as between the brows. Unfortunately I am averse to facials, which I find unnecessarily harsh. Not only do I find them unpleasant, but my sensitive skin actually reacts with long-lasting (more than normal at least) redness and once I’ve even had problems with a tiny broken capillary that vain as I am I had to remove with laser. However, after a couple of months of using Kanebo’s Sensai Silky Purifying products, my skin is not only radiant but also cleansed: No more clogged pores, no more little unsightly black dots that drive me mad every time I look in the mirror. Just pure, radiant, clear skin which I am actually really proud of!

· Sensai Silky Purifying Cleansing Oil (Step 1): As the name suggests, this product is an oil, used for cleansing the skin. It is not very thick, but it requires only a tiny amount per use, which makes it a great bargain in my opinion. Just a small amount in the palm is enough to clean the whole face of any trace of make-up. It melts away everything, from mascara to foundation without requiring excessive rubbing. A simple gentle massage is enough, which means that you avoid unnecessarily stressing the sensitive eye area, which is so susceptible to fine lines and wrinkles. I use this every night even when I have gone without make-up, just to cleanse my skin of any impurities at the end of each day. Despite its oily texture, it washes away immediately with water, leaving the skin feeling moisturized and clean.

· Sensai Silky Purifying Creamy Soap (Step 2): As I mentioned earlier, I have extremely dry skin. Every single soap I have ever used on my face –even foaming cleansers that contain no soap- have left my skin feeling dry, experiencing a ‘pulling’ sensation, as though my skin was two sizes too small for my face. Not so with this one. My skin actually feels moisturized after using this product. This is meant to be used after the cleansing oil, applied on moist skin. The amount needed is minute: you are only meant to use a pea-sized portion on the fingertips, with which you create a rich lather when rubbing them against the wet palm of the other hand. It feels beautifully rich and soft, a simple luxury I truly enjoy. Both the creamy soap and the oil have a delicate, not-quite-there scent that enhances the experience, since it actually smells really clean.

· Sensai Silky Purifying Silk Peeling Powder: My holy grail of peeling products, this is the softest, gentlest peeling there is. Having had problems with redness around my t-zone area in the past, I dislike using anything granular on my sensitive skin. This product is an enzyme powder that can be worked into a lather when it comes into contact with water. It thoroughly removes dead skin cells, old horny matter, dark pores and patches of rough skin, leaving one with a silky, retexturised surface, ready to soak up a mask or moisturizer of choice. The packaging is perfect, allowing one to obtain the right amount with precision just by turning the bottle upside down once. Those with oily skin can turn to the Sensai Pore Clarifying Essence for extra help with keeping the pores clean and sebum free, but those of us with dry skin should limit ourselves to the three products listed here.

The next two products belong to the Sensai Silk line as well and are my night-time staples. This line, meant for the younger skin, is created to prevent the early aging symptoms, as well as to correct existing early aging problems. These products promise to bolster the skin’s defenses against environmental aggressors, shielding, protecting and reinforcing the skin-cells, helping to preserve youthfulness and minimizing the need for corrective interventions later on.

· Sensai Silk Softening Lotion (Step 1): This product comes in either Light or Moist formula, the first one for normal, oily or combination skin, the second one for dry or very dry skin. As you’ll probably already have guessed, I use the Moist version. I was originally unconvinced that I needed to use a primer before my moisturizer, but I instantly changed my mind after being provided with a generous 30ml sample of the lotion by the amazing and helpful SA that always helps me choose my skincare products. The difference this makes is amazing. Using this before the emulsion means I wake up with ten times more moisturized skin that is absolutely, improbably radiant. This one is meant to enhance the effect of subsequent products used, and indeed, it does deliver as promised. You can apply this with a cotton pad, or simply gently pat the liquid with the palms of the hands, the method I personally prefer, as it is not only cost-effective (no product going to waste just soaked up by the pad), but it also seems to just work better, creating a better moisturized surface.

· Sensai Silk Emulsion (Step 2): This product comes in Light, Moist and Super Moist versions, depending on the needs of one’s skin. Having ultra dry skin I prefer the Super Moist formula, of course. The texture of this product is silky and feels rather more runny than other intensive, heavy-duty moisturizers I’ve used, something I am pleased about, since I do not have to work it into the skin, but can simply gently apply it. It comes with a pump applicator, meaning the product does not get exposed to the elements or contaminated with bacteria and foreign matter from the hands, keeping it good and fresh to the last drop. It is so very moisturizing, I have to actually remind myself to apply cream in the mornings when I wake up! My skin simply never feels dry ever since I’ve started using this, and my complexion is radiant and even. Thoroughly recommended!

What are your holy grail skincare products? Have you found anything that *really* works? Please let me know!


Wednesday, June 4, 2008

MV2 & MV3 by MAC, Perfume Reviews

Drum-roll please! Made my last exams for the year – and with an excellent grade too. Am I happy? Proud? Elated? Well, yes, but most of all, I am tired. All I did for the last ten days was study. No, seriously, you don’t want to see what my house actually looks like from all the neglect. Thank you so much for your patience during my absence and for your supportive comments and emails. Usually the first Monday of the month is devoted to our regular feature, Perfume for the Occasion, but since I had no time to prepare during the previous week and was actually writing exams for four hours on Monday, this month’s PFTO is postponed until next week. Today Fragrance Bouquet returns with two unexpected sweet little sisters.

The girls in question are MAC’s Variation Parfumee MV2 and MV3, two gorgeous variations on the theme of vanilla. I don’t really consider myself a perfume snob, but I certainly did not expect to rate these as highly as I do. MAC is known for its make-up products after all, not its perfumes, and the way the fragrances are packaged and displayed doesn’t really do them justice either: Lined up one after the other in identical glass and plastic bottles with a simple variation on cap color does not really conspire to tell the customer that thought has actually gone into making each scent unique and valued. It is indeed a pleasant discovery to find that there is a MAC perfume for every MAC girl, and that the same attention to detail that goes into their fabulous make-up products, goes into the fragrances as well. I might not have found something to like in every single scent, but I have found two new loves in MV2 and 3. Variation 3 is the one I consider the best of the bunch, in fact I find its smell downright addictive. The opening is incredibly sensual and rather empowering due to its masculine character, a scent that would certainly put me in the right mood if I was getting ready for a night of partying. It is a scent sensitive to one’s own chemistry, smelling sweeter on some and rather more bitter on others (I fall in the latter category), something I certainly enjoy. It is a spicy, playful fragrance, which compliments the main vanilla theme with perfectly proportionate doses of dark coconut and cacao. Leather, vetiver and tolu balsam play great supporting roles, holding everything together and adding character and depth to the otherwise carefree mix. It is a quite effusive fragrance, allowing others to catch delightful whiffs of it every now and then even when the wearer has been prudently modest with application. Unfortunately, despite the fact that the fragrance is long-lasting overall, it does lose its beautiful richness after a couple of hours of wear, leaving one with a great many hours of a dry, less than playful base. I personally find I need to refresh MV3 two or three hours after the initial application, so that I can once again experience its delicious, addictive goodness. Fortunately, the bottle is tiny enough to not become cumbersome in my purse, but I can see how this would be seen as too much trouble for some.

In comparison to MV3, MV2, seems like the simpler, but most certainly not dowdier sister. Perhaps more apt would be to call her the daytime sister, the antipode to MV3’s darker, mysterious sensuality. The most salient trait of MV2, is its instantly recognizable, profoundly milky scent. Those of you that love scents with prominent milky accord (such as Miyako or Feu d’Issey) like I do, should definitely give this one a try, for it is the milkiest of milky scents I’ve ever tried. This beautiful, utterly comforting scent smells like luxurious, high quality Dulce de Leche, bathed in thick, creamy condensed milk. I do not actually perceive the scent of lavender in this perfume, despite it being listed as an official note. What I do smell now and then however is the milky scent of freshly cut grass, a beautiful background freshness that paradoxically manages to fit right in with the warm appeal of this fragrance. Despite all this sounding like a recipe for tooth-rotting disaster, MV2 somehow manages to refrain from being sugary: its sweetness is shy and refined, perfectly cuddling the vanilla heart in a soft-as-clouds, fluffy goodness. The passage of time makes this scent meld wonderfully with one’s own skin-scent , ending up smelling oh-so-sexy, like sun-baked skin. This makes this oriental fragrance smell bizarrely summery indeed.

My only axe to grind with these two beauties is their price: MAC’s philosophy is a promise for excellent, professional quality cosmetics that come in affordable prices. And indeed, the fabulous brand keeps its promise 99% of the time: the quality is indeed amazing, the collections are stunning, the products are of a professional caliber and the prices are great. However, at 26 euro a pop, the fragrances are far from affordable. Sure, 26 euro might seem like a great price initially, but each bottle actually only contains 20ml of juice. Which means that you’d pay 130 euro (about 201$ US) for the usual 100 ml (4 oz)! To be fair it has to be said that the price for bigger bottles is usually cheaper of course, but still, it wouldn't be that much cheaper. That said, they are a great perfume pick-me-up for the perfumista who’s just itching for a new bottle of something, but doesn’t have too much spending money at the moment those all too familiar urges kick in. Certainly, there is something to be said about the smaller bottles, which are becoming less and less ubiquitous nowadays.

Images: Author's own and