Friday, November 28, 2008

Forget me Not: L’Aimant by Coty

Those that remember L’Aimant do so fondly, for it is a perfume lovingly adopted and worn by generations upon generations of women. For many women, this is the scent they remember their mothers and grandmothers having worn. For just as many women, this is the scent they adopted as their own when buying a perfume for themselves for the first time. L’Aimant is a play on words, meaning both “Loving Her”, as well as “The Magnet”, cleverly insinuating of course that this is a scent that exerts such magnetic powers of attraction that others will helplessly fall in love with the wearer. Created by nose Vincent Roubert in collaboration with Fran├žois Coty, L’Aimant was launched by Coty in 1927, becoming an instant success. According to Perfume Projects, the wife of Jacques Guerlain allegedly even preferred L’Aimant to her husband’s own creations. After many decades of success, the scent was at some point discontinued, only to be re-released again in 1995.

My own bottle, bought for a mere 5 euro at one of the perfume fairs here in the Netherlands is a vintage atomiseur de luxe in Parfum de Toilette concentration, whose rare and peculiar presentation had me looking for days on end to date it. Finally, with a little luck I discovered that the particular presentation dates from the early to mid-1970’s. I have not smelled the re-edition, so unfortunately, I cannot draw a comparison between this vintage and the modern juice sold today. However I am glad to say that perhaps due to the opaque casing of this vintage flacon, the juice has had no evaporation and it smells as fresh as if it was bought yesterday, not having gone off in the slightest!

L’Aimant is an extremely aldehydic floral creation with soft, woody undertones. Due to the heavy use of aldehydes, the opening can be a little jarring and perturbing – we are no longer used to such heavily aldehydic perfumes nowadays after all. Highly perfume-y and ever so slightly medicinal, the opening comes across much like light coming through frosted glass: Diffused, soft and intangible. The first impression can seem a little stuffy and old, to the point that I’d not hesitate to say that this is a fragrance that will undoubtedly seem to many as belonging to an older generation. To be honest, even I can’t help but find myself helplessly associating the opening with the word ‘grandmother-ish’. Even though I am usually against putting such labels on perfume, it is something that happens so automatically with L’Aimant, I just can’t help myself. It does, without the shadow of the doubt, smell truly vintage, and I have no trouble defining it as a perfume of another era. Soon, the slightly medicinal, stuffy note dissipates, and an amazing smooth sweetness perfumes the skin. This is where I really begin appreciating L’Aimant’s beauty. Smelling incredibly close in feel to vintage Arpege and Le Dix, the scent becomes very, very creamy and buttery soft. Plummy, apricot fruitiness sparkles ever so gently and delightfully on the skin over a bed of tame florals. As time goes by, the scent becomes ever more powdery and floral: A powdery infusion of strong violets with nectarous yet soft, shy accents of tantalizing jasmine. The drydown is soft and sexy, a skin scent of sandalwood and gentle vanilla. Even though I really love the creamy, fruity heartnotes as well, what really makes L'Aimant incredible to me is this magnificent drydown, so soft, so transparent, such that allows the beauty of one's own skin-scent to show through. Comforting and sexy...

As always when reviewing a vintage perfume I can offer, I’ll be very glad to send a large 3ml spray sample to a reader! Everyone that comments on this post will be automatically entered in a draw for a sample of Coty’s vintage L’Aimant in Parfum de Toilette concentration. The winner will be announced in a week’s time.

Images: www.okadi.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Inner Grace by Philosophy : Perfume Review

Philosophy, Christina Carlino’s retail range of cosmetics has managed to become successful in the cut-throat, oversaturated world of cosmetics, in part due to its appeal as a brand that does not impress the same -often unhealthy- expectations many other brands do on women. With simple, yet clever packaging that never fails to bring to mind associations with purity and simplicity, and short yet meaningful quotes printed on each and every bottle, jar and box that remind us of the power of hope, belief, perseverance and everything that’s good about life in general before every use, Philosophy has been embraced by countless women the world over, sometimes just because merely looking at these little messages brings a smile on their face.

Along with cosmetics, Philosophy also has a range of fragrances. It is hard to rate Philosophy fragrances, because they seem to belong to this genre of personal scents that are almost non-scents, if that makes any sense. Their most defining attribute would probably be inoffensive, with clean and simple following close behind. Yes, this type of fragrances are indeed very much in fashion nowadays, owing their popularity in part to the overly sanitized approach to everything our western culture has embraced. However one may feel about this, there is no denying their widespread appeal. Personally, I have to say that I do not begrudge their popularity. True, there are times I find myself wondering why a woman would actually wish to smell like a baby’s powdered bottom… However, I do see the utility and merit of many such clean, inoffensive fragrances. There is certainly a time and a place for everything, and there are indeed times when a subtle, understated, clean fragrance is called for (The gym, a visit to the doctor, or a job interview for example). Too, there are certain professions that specifically call for such fragrances. For perfume lovers, such a perfume is a much more preferable option than no perfume at all. And it is not just necessity that can make this type of scent popular among fragrance lovers. Yes, we love a complex development and fragrances that make a statement. However, most of us also have a number of comfort scents that we keep returning to in those times when we don’t need too much distraction. Scents that are not asking too much of our attention, scents that feel like a warm cuddle, scents that just feel good and simple and pleasant. I don’t like all of Philosophy’s fragrances, but they are all indeed such uncomplicated scents: A linear development that will not tax a tired mind further, a sense of comfort that will feel like an embrace and a clean, understated aroma that will feel more like your own personal scent or that of soap than an actual perfume.

Inner Grace is probably my favorite of Philosophy’s scents, because unlike the rest of the brand’s fragrances, this one actually feels rather sexy. It is basically a musk fragrance, and as such it feels very warm and personal. Specifically, Inner Grace showcases the marvelous, sexy beauty of Egyptian Musk, one of my absolutely favorite smells. Lovers of Narcisso Rodriguez for Her and Sarah Jessica Parker’s Lovely are sure to love this one as well, since all three make Egyptian Musk the main focus of the fragrance. Unlike Narcisso Rodriguez for Her or Lovely however, Inner Grace sanitizes the musky scent somewhat, presenting it as far less animalic. This is not necessarily a good thing for me, because I do love my musks to be as animalic as possible; However what is very attractive about this particular rendition of Egyptian Musk, is that it feels absolutely personal, as if it is exuding from your own skin. Compared to Lovely, which I cannot really wear because it feels rather chemical to my nose and always ends up bothering me throughout the day, Inner Grace feels natural and soft. Inner Grace compliments the scent of Egyptian Musk with fresh, sappy greens and hints of resinous amber, adding both fresh and warm elements to the comforting appeal of its heart of musk. The end result is sexy, personal and quite addictive, perfuming the skin with a scent that has definite nuzzle potential. Yum.

Images: www.philosophy.com and Flickr, originally uploaded by Steve Jurvetson

Monday, November 24, 2008

News from Ormonde Jayne: New Boutique, New Perfume

Everyone that has visited the Ormonde Jayne boutique in London, can’t help but gush at how amazingly beautiful and luxurious the interior is. Described by fellow perfume-lovers as the loveliest perfume playground to shop for scented delights, the Ormonde Jayne boutique has been there to satisfy our senses, from the olfactory, to the visual and tactile.

Now Dubai, a destination whose name has become essentially associated with glitz, glamour and over the top opulence has its very own Ormonde Jayne boutique. The newly opened scented haven promises to treat guests to the same luxurious experience guests of the London boutique have been enjoying for years: bronze smoked mirrors, black lacquered testing tables and mandarin leather topped stools that feature in the flagship store create an atmosphere that truly makes shopping an experience. The staff has of course been specially trained in the brand’s unique range and philosophy. The new store has been designed by Caulder Moore who created the flagship store's new look in 2006 and can be found in Boutique 1 at the Jumeirah Beach Residence, also known as JBR.

Ormonde Jayne also has a new masculine entry for its fragrance lineup! Zizan, the new eau de parfum, is described as a powerhouse scent with fresh, biting, citrus fruit notes and a smooth, rich, refined concentration of vetiver.

Official Notes:

Top: Sicilian lime, lemon, bergamot, clary sage, pink pepper and juniper berry.
Heart: bay, violet and jasmine
Base: Vetiver, cedar, must and amber.

Sounds yummy, and I can’t wait to smell it. For now, completely seduced by all this Ormonde Jayne talk, I’m off to spray some Champaca, which happens to be my absolutely favorite Ormonde Jayne scent.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Announcement: Winner Philtre d'Amour Sample


Hello, hello, hello! The winner of last week's Philtre d'Amour sample contest is ... WaftbyCarol! (Fragrance Bouquet Loves Carol!) Carol please send me your addy and I'll be shipping the sample to you!

Thanks to all who participated!

Have a great weekend,

Divina

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Citizen Queen by Juliette Has a Gun : Perfume Review

Founded by Romano Ricci, Nina Ricci’s grandson, it is natural that Juliette Has a Gun has large expectations to live up to. For my part I felt a little underwhelmed by the line’s first offerings, especially in the case of Miss Charming, which seemed too fruity a rose, too close in feel to department store scents targeting the late-teen market. Lady Vengeance in turn, was a beautiful interpretation of the rose and all its thorniness, one I would in fact wear myself. However, it seemed a rather derivative effort, reminding me of many a thorny-rose chypre scent already on the market. Citizen Queen on the other hand, the line’s third perfume to date, more than lives up to expectations, offering beauty marked by striking dissonance and delight born of surprise.

Despite being touted as an aldehydic chypre, Citizen Queen comes across to me as a bold, leathery floriental, succulent, sweet and poisonous, lacking the patrician beauty and restraint of conventional chypres or the whip-cracking attitude of animalic chypres. The opening is decidedly musky, deceptively soft despite its faint, fecal undertones. Within the space of just a few minutes however, the scent intensifies, loudly broadcasting its dominant nature. An aldehydic kick renders the floral edges blurry as they emerge in an almost psychedelic sequence of color. The intense, sweet scent of violets splashes deep purple against a backdrop of black, while wispy green vines grow uncontrollably to surround them. Soft iris paints thin, fluorescent lines across the canvas, lending fluffy, powdery, feathery softness and acting as a contrast to the heavy feel of the composition. Marvelously, the musky, amber-infused base is incredibly effusive and its intense sweetness can be felt throughout the development. In fact, it is this incredible musky sweetness coupled with the divine scent of violets that truly forms the identity of this scent. However, what makes Citizen Queen really stand out, is its animalic character. The gentle bitterness of the leather in the composition can be felt even through the intense sweetness, but even more striking is the undercurrent of something dirty and intensely human, which adds a perverse streak to this beauty. Smelling at once familiar and disturbing, this animalic accord adds an element of human essence to the perfume, like nuzzling the crown of someone’s hair.

Citizen Queen proudly stomps all over any preconceived notions that our overly obsessed with cleanliness and political correctness culture might hold about what perfume should be, and what’s more, she does so with an unapologetic grin and killer heels to boot. This is not only a perversely dirty, poisonously sweet animalic scent, it is also one that is improbably potent; Those of you that remember experiencing Cacharel’s Loulou for the first time and feeling the resolute punch it delivered, will recognize the subtle nod to its unique tenacity. Having only a sample at hand and experiencing its improbable, rule-defying sillage with just a few drops, I can’t help but feel that it would be more than sufficient to dab this perfume rather than spray it. A few drops on one arm are enough for others around me to detect it and comment on it and the tiny sample phial on my nightstand exudes the most wonderful perfume every day even while securely capped. In fact, it has now happened so often over the past few weeks that I find myself wondering where the fabulous smell is coming from before realizing it is the sample next to me while in bed, that I am seriously considering buying a full bottle!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Philtre d’Amour by Guerlain : Perfume Review

Back in October I visited one of the many perfume fairs that take place here in the Netherlands. Even if you don’t end up buying something, these events are well worth visiting, just to be able to look at all the vintage bottles and forgotten or even unknown treasures of the perfume world. The perfume auctions that often take place during the day are also fun to follow and even take part in, since amazing bargains on pure perfume can often be had. I went looking for a couple of things I was eventually unable to find, but still had a lot of fun reconnecting with my favorite vintage perfume dealers, meeting new ones, talking with collectors, looking at fabulous crystal bottles including Guerlain’s limited edition Baccarat turtles and a complete collection of old Nina Ricci Lalique flacons, still sealed and filled with their wonderful juice (The vintage Lalique Coeur Joie still makes me feel like I’m about to faint from its beauty every time I see it). Slightly broke by the end of October during which the fair took place, I didn’t feel the urge to take out my wallet and actually buy something, even as all the little perfume gems felt like they were calling my name. However at my favorite vintage dealer’s table I found a bargain I absolutely couldn’t resist. A full bottle of Guerlain’s Philtre d’Amour with a pre-LVMH acquisition code, which the dear lady I always end up buying from was offering me for just 25euro.

The name is amazingly evocative and beautiful, but as Marina of Perfume Smellin’ Things notes, it is not quite fitting to the juice. Philtre d’Amour is not passionate, but indeed restrained. A light, summery Chypre, it spells sophistication, elegance and grace rather than temptation and ardor. Having said that, it is also warm, rather than chilly. It opens with a blast of spicy freshness allowing one to sniff briefly hints of patchouli before turning up the citrus volume so loud, one would be justified to think this is a perfume that’s all about the lemon. Candied, Guerlinade-infused lemon envelopes the skin in sweet freshness. Soon the scent of freshly-cut greens cuts down the sweetness and allows for a very sophisticated, slightly bitter vein to show through. Buttery iris is the first floral note that I identify and it is a note used with amazing thoughtfulness; just the right amount to add softness and the merest hint of powder to the scent, but not enough to overwhelm, as iris so easily can. Indolic, dirty jasmine has once again been used with the same amount of thoughtfulness and restrain and together with fabulous, soft and slightly bitter neroli these two florals manage to finally make the fragrance exude a wonderful heart of warmth through the elegant citrus freshness that defines this scent throughout. The base notes feature a wonderful, spicy oakmoss-patchouli combination, that together with the florals and bergamot really make Philtre d’Amour smell like a Chypre of a bygone era. Old-fashioned then, yet oh-so contemporary due to its timeless, classic character, this is a fabulous, scent. Its freshness and elegant lightness mean that it is a perfect choice for warm weather and I have the feeling that this will be exceptional in especially warm, humid climes where the slightly dirty heart notes and spicy base notes will be allowed to bloom to perfection. It will also be an excellent replacement for the summer wardrobe of Aromatics Elixir users. Philtre d’Amour is sold at Guerlain Boutiques as part of the Les Parisiennes collection, but Victoria from Bois de Jasmine notes that it has possibly been changed since its re-release in 2000. As I have only tested the original version, I cannot report on how the new formula compares.

If you wish to receive a sample of this original version, please say so in the comment area and I will enter your name in a drawing. Winner to be announced in a week’s time.

Images: www.fragrantica.com and Flickr, originally uploaded by Osbock

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet Loves Kanebo: Total Lip Treatment

I recently read that drinking straight from a bottle causes ‘smoker’s wrinkles’ around the lips (SHOCK, HORROR). Considering I have been keeping a 1,5 liter bottle constantly filled with water next to me for the last two or three years, thinking that I was doing my skin a favor, I am extra glad I have religiously been taking care of my lip area the whole time! So far I’ve been using Chanel’s Precision Ultra Correction Lip which is an excellent product in its own right, but after trying Kanebo’s Total Lip Treatment I quickly became a convert. How quickly? You could say instantly.

Right before leaving for my trip to Greece I passed by my local Douglas to replenish my stock of Kanebo Sensai products that were almost finished. Dieneke, my Kanebo Angel at Douglas threw in a Kanebo Travel Samples Kit when she heard that I was travelling the next day (Yeah, she’s awesome). The travel kit contained among other goodies, a sample pot of the Total Lip Treatment. The dry in-flight atmosphere forced me to take out the kit to treat my hands to some hand-cream and my lips to some of the yet untried lip treatment. And oh, how luxurious it was! The consistency is rich and luxurious, like an ultra-thick moisturizing balm. Dipping a finger in the pot feels like dipping it in high quality butter. On contact with the lips, the thick texture melts just right, seeping in without being runny. I applied it on the lips and around the mouth and instantly felt incredibly moisturized. I arrived in Greece with just two hours of sleep, but my mother gushed at how fresh I looked. I was just wearing a miracle blush by Dior and Kanebo’s Total Lip Treatment, but they were enough to give my face a fresh look. You see, even after the long flight, my lips were slightly shining and rosy. But what is the absolutely BEST effect of the product is that my lips were also incredibly plump, almost bee-stung! The same night, both my mother and I used the product again and woke up the next day with amazing looking lips. Needless to say, we bought full-sized bottles the same day, neatly taking advantage of a 20% off Sephora sale. (Yeah, I know, it would have been nicer of me to buy it from Douglas were I originally got the sample, but who can resist a sale? I ease my mind by considering how much money I already spend at Douglas every month…)

Kanebo’s Total Lip Treatment is part of their Sensai Cellular Performance line, Kanebo being one of the few mainstream brands (along with La Prairie) that offer products that promise to work on a cellular level to combat aging. Featuring CPX Vital Extract which contains five natural ingredients including apricot, the Sensai Cellular Performance line restores the original functions of the cells, protecting them from within as well as firming, moisturizing, and helping prevent wrinkles, while the Purple Orchid Extract promotes cell renewal. The Total Lip Treatment specifically promotes collagen production and improves collagen quality. All of this helps reduce the lines around and on the lips and results in the aforementioned lip-plumping effect. It also reduces dullness, restores vitality and combats roughness and dryness, leaving lips soft and smooth. (Seriously, I haven’t used lip balm once ever since I bought this!)

The full-sized product comes in a pump dispenser which I have to admit slightly takes away from the pleasure I experienced every time I dipped my fingers in that little pot, as it felt incredibly decadent and luxurious. However, as all beauty-junkies know, dipping a finger in a cream is never a good idea, as it contaminates the product. This has nothing to do with being squeamish, but everything to do with helping the product keep fresh and last longer. Half a pump is enough to cover the lips and round-the mouth area as well the laughing lines. How does the Total Lip Treatment compare to my previously favored product, Chanel’s Precision Ultra Correction Lip? Well, it is double the price of the Chanel lip treatment, but I do not have to endure the tagging and dryness I experienced with Chanel’s product (which admittedly is due to the lifting effect and not due to bad ingredients). Too, even though Chanel’s product also plumped the lips after a few days of continuous use, the plumping results of Kanebo’s Total Lip Treatment are not only immediate, but also much more impressive. I refuse to use plumping lip glosses since their aggravating nature is actually bad for the lips in the long-run, but I no longer feel I am missing out on anything! This absolutely amazing product makes my lips naturally full, supple and simply kissable. I love it! And as always, I love Kanebo.

Edit: Perhaps unsurprisingly, I just found out that this product also happens to be one of Angelina Jolie’s favorites as well!

Images: im.edirectory.co.uk and www.imageafter.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet on Vacation for a Week

Hello beatiful Fragrance Bouquet readers! How are you? Just a little announcement today to let you know that Fragrance Bouquet will be back next Wednesday, in a week's time. I just came back from classes and I am about to start packing my suitcases - I am leaving for Greece tomorrow. After three weeks of exams and a week of writing papers from morning till evening, I have really reached the end of my tether... I really need this week away from it all and hope that it will make some of the stress I am currently constantly feeling budge.

See you in a week's time!