Friday, December 18, 2009

Attacks, Exams, Travel and Wishes

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for your wishes this past week. My exams are finally over (I passed them!). However some really bad things have happened lately. Someone I love is ill and was in the hospital, which has really, really upset me. Then it felt like I was going to crack under the pressure of all the exams and papers I had to deliver. I finished with the exams on Tuesday and on Wednesday I got attacked by two crazy people here, in this seemingly safe student city. I have been in bed trying to recover (mostly from the psychological shock, I am physically okay) since Wednesday. Further, it is rather hard to type as my right hand is not okay yet and likely won't be for a week. I injured it while trying to fight off my attackers - I lost half of the fingernail from my index and it is really swollen and gross. Thankfully, I didn't lose anything else. The finger will heal and the nail will grow back. I will be okay. I just need to get over the shock now.

I am going to go visit my parents for Christmas and after I come back I have one more exam to give. So Fragrance Bouquet will be back on January the 15th. I will really miss you all! I have missed you already very very much. I wish you the best holidays, whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah or anything else :) Please enjoy your loved ones and let them nurture you during your time off from work and studies. See you in January!

With all my love,

Divina

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Smelly Facts: Sense of Smell & Pregnancy


A few years ago, in 2007, I had reported here on Fragrance Bouquet on the mistaken, yet still propagated belief that the adult brain does not produce new neurons. In that post I explained that one of the two identified areas in the brain that constantly see the birth of new neurons is the olfactory system (the other is the hippocampus). As I reported back then, neurons in the olfactory system constantly die off, mostly due to their constant exposure to harmful agents and thankfully, they are constantly replaced. Recently, while reading the astonishingly interesting and very humorously written Why Zebras don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky as part of the obligatory books to be learned for my exams in Health Psychology, I came across the following related excerpt which I provide here for your pleasure:

“It turns out that there is a huge burst in the production of those new olfactory neurons early during pregnancy. They are fully on line just around the time of birth, and the scientists who discovered this speculated that these new olfactory neurons are tagged for the task of imprinting forever on the smell of your offspring (a critical event for mothers of most mammals). And what happens early in pregnancy, when those new olfactory neurons are showing up, but not quite making sense yet? I bet this has something to do with the famed nausea of pregnancy, the food aversions and olfactory sensitivities.”


- Sapolsky, R. M., 2004. Why Zebras don’t Get Ulcers. New York, NY: Henry Holt and Company, LLC

Image: Flickr by Raphael Goetter

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Vanille West Indies (Parfum) & Tijuca by Ligne St. Barth : Perfume Reviews

A new exam period is coming up and as the pressure is mounting, the more I find myself daydreaming of carefree days in the sun, someplace where the sand is warm and the water a clear aqua color (alternative scenarios include spring-time city breaks for shopping and Christmas cheer with my family)… So, in lieu of an actual beach holiday, let’s indulge in a scented taste of summer today on Fragrance Bouquet, amidst the atrociously wintry December weather.

Ligne St. Barth is a line I absolutely love but unfortunately can’t find around here. Every summer however, I get the chance to find its products again at the super-exclusive Luisa Beach Boutique in Mykonos. On the cosmopolitan, star-studded beach of Psarou, every sculpted, famous body sunning itself on the ridiculously expensive, soft, queen-sized loungers is religiously pampered with one of the beautifully packaged Ligne St. Barth oils or milks purchased from Luisa. A child of the generation which has been indoctrinated early on with every beauty editor’s and dermatologist’s mantra on responsible sun exposure, I shy away from these all-natural sun-care products and defiantly hold on to my broad-spectrum, 50+ La Roche-Posay sunscreen, coveting the fabulous, ultra-summery resort packaging of the St. Barth products from afar. But even though I can’t allow myself the treat of one of their suncare products, I fully indulge in their body products and of course, my absolute favorites, their perfumes! From the amazingly unique, ethereal yet addictive beauty of Fleur de Gingembre to the sensual Patchouli Arawak which combines a very dry, beautiful patchouli with gloriously round amber and a hint of oily coconut, there’s something in the Ligne St. Barth line for everyone. Importantly, to me, all their perfumes from chypre to oriental, manage to incorporate a prevalent, deliciously recognizable summery element. This is quite important for it ensures that purchasing a Ligne St. Barth product means you buy a little piece of tropical paradise to take home with you. Today I review two perfumes of this gorgeous line - not my favorite Patchouli Arawak, Fleur de Canne à Sucre or Fleur de Gingembre, but two perfumes I hadn’t yet had the chance to become well acquainted with.

Vanille West Indies: Ligne St. Barth offers two different parfum-strength vanilla perfumes - Vanilla, a sweet caramel-vanilla blend and this one, the newer Vanille West Indies which also features hints of caramel but also adds beautifully feminine delicate exotic floral notes to the mix. If you love vanilla and sweet notes, this is the luxury summer choice: the very high concentration of pure perfume is instantly evident from the film of oil that covers the skin upon spraying. The vanilla here is very, very natural, manifesting as a combination of pure extract and freshly scraped seeds. There is a beautiful, lightly sugared creaminess to this perfume that makes it smell a bit like a highly vanilic crème brûlée. The caramel note is not overpowering, definitely playing a secondary role, but it is however very clearly perceptible. To get a good idea, you should imagine molten butterscotch. The delicate floral orchid notes are subtle, but beautifully enhance the femininity of the blend. Aside from the high concentration, natural feel and the beautiful quality, what makes this a vanilla worth owning, is the aforementioned summery appeal. Despite very clearly being a gourmand-oriental, Vanille West Indies is highly wearable in the summer, not only due to its velvety subtlety, but also courtesy of a highly original ‘frozen’ overtone that imbues the scent with an icy coolness. Considering the rest of the fragrance is supremely warm, this provides a delightfully unexpected sensation. It also has to be said that this cool overtone is categorically not aquatic in nature, but translates more as a sensation. This gorgeous vanilla is a must-have for vanilla collectors and a definite must-try for vanilla lovers.

Tijuca: I find Tijuca’s opening incredibly restful for spirit and mind, as it opens with the bright sensation of pure white light. This sensation is created through the beautifully clean blend of musks, which to me has the very beneficial effect of clearing the mind. For a few moments, all I can think is white - white cotton, soft pure white light and the cleanliness and serenity of a luxurious spa. A few moments later, the perfume transports me to a Mediterranean garden, full of spicy, herbal goodness: Bay leaves, grasses and fragrant bushes, light, sweet citrus and rosemary, cypress, roses, geranium and plenty of cool shade. The feel continues to be clean and there is a prominent impression of a cool breeze, carrying with it the warm scents of spices and balmy, odoriferous herbs. The woody base is redolent of sweet sandalwood which is perfectly balanced, lending the fragrance a gentle roundness, but never taking away from the serene freshness that is prevalent throughout the development. This stunning, unisex herbal/spicy blend is absolutely perfect for spring and summer and is guaranteed to bring calmness, joy and lightness to the spirit. I love it! Right now, I can’t imagine anything more perfect than sharing a bottle with my boyfriend.

Oh, so guess how I feel now? So ready to take the next plane out, even as I have to go back to my books. But since my daydreams all involve other European locales, I guess even a plane wouldn’t be able to fix the problem of the weather. I guess I’ll just have to wait for spring and dream.

These self-chosen samples were sent to me by Essenza Nobile, a web-company that sells cosmetics and perfume and has astounding variety of niche, hard-to-find perfumes. (Editor’s Note: This endorsement is unsolicited and absolutely voluntary! Fragrance Bouquet is not getting paid by the other party.) The two fragrances reviewed can be bought from Essenza Nobile for 93 and 75 Euro respectively. To view the company’s webshop, please click here. (Check left-hand side bar for the full list of brands sold)

Images: Testers of Ligne St. Barth suncare on the counter outside Luisa Beach Boutique entrance, via www.mykonosexclusive.com. Vanille West Indies bottle and four of the line’s edts, including Tijuca, both via www. lignestbarth.com

Monday, November 30, 2009

Perfumed Quotes : Miller Harris

"Hair colour, skin type, personality, dress sense and lifestyle all have an influence on our fragrance style. For redheads, I often recommend an oriental; I've noticed extroverts gravitate towards chypre. But, ultimately, trying a scent on your skin is the best way to find out what suits you."

- Perfumer Miller Harris, quoted in the British publication of Elle magazine, December, 2009.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Back to Black by By Kilian : Perfume Review

Well, I might be a little late to the party, but the little sample that has been sitting on my desk for the past couple of weeks is finally getting its day today. Pure Oud has to be ordered by phone and I’ve no idea whether it will eventually make its way to any brick-and-mortar stores, but Back to Black has been in for a while and I eagerly procured a sample recently, together with some skincare purchases. While it certainly doesn’t trump my beloved A Taste of Heaven as the absolute favorite of the line, it probably ranks in second at this point and we’ll just have to wait and see whether Pure Oud changes that.

Having taken a look at the official note listing on the By Kilian website, I fully expect Back to Black to have a fresh-herbal opening, but instead we plunge into dark sweetness from the first moment. The opening is soft and subdued - a hint of subtle leather and rising myrrh, bittersweet and perfectly discernible, despite the fact that it makes no appearance in the official note listing. The tiny herbal-floral voice of chamomile gasps and fades into nothingness as the dark, soothingly wintry scent intensifies, blossoming into an extravagance of outrageously beautiful opoponax (again, not listed, but oh-so-definitely-there) laced with gourmand notes of cherry and hints of tart raspberry bliss. Unexpectedly, the volume drops lower again as the central note of tobacco emerges through the fruity nuances. Its entrance is diffuse yet full-bodied, as though someone pried open a prize cherry wood humidor housing preciously sweet pipe tobacco within. At this point it’s all I can do to stop nuzzling my arm and to keep writing this review - I just want to keep my nose buried in the crook of my elbow, inhaling this sweet, deep scent that evokes images of grand fireplaces and sipping cognac curled up in luxurious leather armchairs. Gradually, a honey note emerges - subtle at first, forming perfect continuity with the fruity notes of the fragrance, but eventually gaining in intensity and becoming as strong as the tobacco. The two however do not antagonize, but rather complement each other. In fact their union is so perfect that even though I do not normally like honey in perfume unless it is subtle and very round (and this one is very mildly sharp) I find myself not being able to imagine Back to Black without it. It is perfect as it is - honey and all. The drydown is darker, with the honey having died down and the cherry now freely wafting in and out of the sweet tobacco veil that has settled on the skin. Milky almond and soft, powdery notes enhance the feeling of comforting calm, while a beautiful balsamic base simmers gently in the background.

If I had to describe Back to Black by way of comparison, I’d say it smells like the love child of Serge Lutens’ Rahat Loukoum, Fumerie Turque and The People of the Labyrinths’ Luctor et Emergo (wow, what a love triangle!). It almost feels like the best elements of these perfumes were combined to create a separate, brand new entity whose sole purpose is to comfort and delight. While I wouldn’t wear Back to Black outside (it doesn’t really fit my personality nor my image) it would be a dream to own a bottle just to wear this absolutely delightful concoction to bed. Because what Back to Black does, is make you want to close your eyes and keep smelling this perfume that evokes the most beautiful images, grab a book, curl up under a comforter and purr, delight in the warmth of the house even as it thunders, pours down with rain or snows outside. Or at least, that’s what it does to me. It is the ultimate complex comfort perfume. What a luxury.

Images: Antique pipe via National Museums Scotland (nms.scran.ac.uk). Swivel cognac glasses by Bodie and Fou available for purchase via www.notonthehighstreet.com (Editor’s note: Fragrance Bouquet is not affiliated with this webshop)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blv II Eau de Parfum by Bvlgari : Perfume Review

Bvlgari’s lineup follows (with only few exceptions) a very specific, discernible house style that clearly defines the perfume division of this great brand. Namely, the house satisfies a specific niche in the prestige department store sector, producing one skinscent after the other. There are two ways to define the term skinscent: A scent that has a low projection, staying close to the skin, or alternatively, a scent which mimics or enhances the skin’s own scent, blurring the lines between where the scent of one’s skin ends and where the perfume begins, resulting in a beautiful, “your skin but better” effect. Bvlgari clearly specializes in the latter form of skinscents, producing perfumes that each play with different accents (green, powdery, floral, fruity, musky etc.) but all end up producing a more beautiful, velvety version of skin that seems to be emitting a light, perfumed veil.



The brand’s newest, Blv II, does not diverge from this tradition, but what is astounding is that this time around they’ve managed to bottle the gourmand-oriental genie in a Bvlgari skinscent vessel. What am I talking about? Think Angel and (especially) Lolita Lempicka and then imagine them in the guise of a soft-as-clouds skinscent. Impossible? Well, perfumer Jacques Cavallier has achieved just that. This marriage of potency and graceful, sheer lightness is anything but accidental: Bvlgari describes this newest fragrance as “Intense accords and glowing lightness, the perfect synthesis of intensity and transparency”, while the perfumer, Jacques Cavallier expands thus on the creation:

“I was thinking of The Little Prince, who always runs after the simplest things, but things that are in fact very real and essential. (…) So this creation is based on essential things, on the foundation stones of perfumery: amber, iris, musks, wood, patchouli flowers, violets. All major elements of perfumery, which, for the occasion, have been processed differently thanks to new forms of technology, and thanks also to the heritage of the past 20 years, in terms of transparency, the lightning inspiration of each new debut and the work done also on naturalness.”
- via press release

The first note to become apparent after application is a marvelously soft violet, soon to become dressed and emboldened with the sweet gourmand accents of star anise and liquorice. Soon, the fresh scent of mandarin joins in, at first a green nuance like the scent of its stems and leaves but thereafter ever more full-bodied and fruity. Suddenly its freshness becomes all the more brisk and invigorating, adding a definite sense of masculinity to the mix, which if I’m honest, I could do without. This masculinity is further explored in the heartnotes as it becomes enhanced at first by vetiver but thankfully, it soon subsides. We enter a stage of glorious fullness as the perception of rich iris becomes enhanced and the slightly harsh masculinity of the scent changes to mysterious femininity as the deep scent of patchouli joins the iris in full. Most beguilingly, underneath both I sense a burgeoning, slightly buttery and balsamic woody base, enriched with subtle hints of malt-infused tobacco. The base presents a triumvirate of ruling ambers (ambergris, benzoin & labdanum) on a bed of burning musk. The aniseedic, patchouli-infused violet-iris combo persists however softly to the end, enhancing the impression of the aforementioned skinscent version of a gourmand-oriental in the spirit of Lolita Lempicka. Blv II covers the skin with a soft gourmand-oriental veil that projects lightly, becoming drier and more powdery as time goes on and turning surprisingly transparent, allowing one’s own skin scent to glow beautifully from within. In short this to me seems like the perfect scent for someone looking for a quiet, daytime oriental that will offer sensuality and mystery while remaining subtle enough to leave others wondering whether you are wearing perfume or if indeed, the beautiful warmth perceived is produced by your own skin.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jabu by Mona di Orio : Perfume Review

Well, what do you know. After all my bemoaning and lamenting not being able to find a Mona di Orio perfume I can appreciate, I finally got the chance to smell her newest creation, Jabu, and I am more than a little pleasantly surprised. I am even more pleased for being in the position of finally writing a positive review about this solid, full of integrity brand.

Skins, one of my favorite stores here in the Netherlands recently held a beautiful launch for Jabu and Mona herself was present. Unfortunately, due to an incredibly busy schedule I was unable to attend, but as soon as I found some free time last week I popped by the store and together with my purchases I also received a sample of this fabulous new perfume.

Jabu means “Joy” in Zulu, and the perfume itself is dedicated to Orange Babies, the target group of the homonymous charitable foundation that helps HIV infected pregnant women in Africa and their babies as well as supporting HIV infected or otherwise affected by the disease children of Africa. Consciously thinking about this target group might bring somberness to our heart, but the perfume’s message is one of spirited optimism: the joy and the laughter of these children finally getting help.

As with all of Mona di Orio’s perfumes, a spritz on the blotter only tells half of the picture: the fragrance needs to be applied on the skin in order to show its true colors. A discreet sniff of the bottle’s stopper was enough for me to know that I’d like it, but didn’t prepare me for the fact that I’d love it. Smelling the stopper I got the impression that this would be a summery perfume, as all I could smell was a gorgeously frothy orange blossom scent. On the skin however, this develops into a supremely warm scent, absolutely fitting for winter and for special occasion summer evening-wear. But I’ve held you in suspense for far too long; let’s get right down to it and explore this beauty.

Jabu opens with the bittersweet, herbaceous, woody accent of petitgrain. Slowly, the woody-citrus freshness of petitgrain dissolves into the mounting sweetness of full, creamy orange blossom. The meeting of the two is incredibly uplifting, having an almost ‘sunshine’ effect on the senses with their jubilant character. The ylang ylang employed here is almost disturbingly oily at first, but soon calms, adding the most gorgeous exotic accent. This exuberant, fervently exotic side is further explored with the addition of monoi-tiare, which underscores the creamy lusciousness. The subtle coconut hint of monoi adds to the ‘texture’ of the fragrance, lending it an almost 'chewy' appeal. After this sumptuous extravagance, Jabu takes a surprising turn; slowly, the scent begins to quiet down, enfolding the wearer with a honeyed, serene sweetness. The buttery softness of sandalwood begins to emerge, mingling with a soft rose scent and the overall sweetness of the scent is cut slightly at the edges as the bitter-sweet scent of myrrh blooms. Together with another resin (the balsamic-vanillic Benzoin Siam - already very effusive almost from the beginning) and sweet tonka bean, these heavier base notes now firmly ground Jabu in the realm of the orientals. The impression is rounded off with gorgeous ambergris (as with Chamarre, the ambergris here is excellent and beautifully prominent) and deep, dark (albeit not dirty) musk.

Jabu is a chunky and powerful floral-oriental, a perfume you can truly sink your teeth in. Its femininity is all grown up and mindful of 80’s power-dressing. In fact, there is one perfume that Jabu clearly reminds me of, a perfume released at the end of the decade, but still thoroughly impregnated with the effusive, baroque style of 80’s florals and orientals. That perfume is Lacroix’s C’est la Vie. It’s been many, many years since I last saw C’est la Vie on a shelf, but the moment I smelled Jabu on my skin, the thought of it popped into my mind. A check for C’est la Vie’s notes revealed that my olfactory memory was very accurate indeed: featuring orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, amber, Benzoin Siam, musk and vanilla, C’est la Vie reads like Jabu's predecessor. Having said that, Jabu does bear Mona di Orio’s signature and once you smell it, you will definitely have no trouble recognizing it as one of her creations. Still the two are strikingly close in feel and scent and I hope that this comparison helps you get a clearer picture of what Jabu smells like - especially important since many will have to purchase online due to the lack of brick-and-mortar distributors. If you like Lacroix’s powerhouse gem, you’ll be sure to love this one, which appeals with modernized sophistication and updated, soft voluptuousness and projection.

Importantly, I have to mention that Jabu is not only dedicated to Orange Babies, but also supports the foundation with donating proceeds. I am not sure what percentage of the profits goes to the charity when you buy Jabu in other parts of the world, but currently, if you buy Jabu at Skins, a whopping 100% of the proceeds go to the foundation! For those of you not living here in the Netherlands, you can also purchase from Skin’s webshop by clicking here. The language can be switched to English by clicking on “selecteer taal” and Skins will ship internationally. (Editor’s Note: Fragrance Bouquet is NOT affiliated with Skins, but loves the shop and wishes to support the charity.) If you wish to know more about the Orange Babies foundation, you can reach their website by clicking here.

Images: www.monadiorio.com, www.sxc.hu, www.mes-parfums.com

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perfumed Quotes: Alexander Pope



"Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a whole lump of it to his nose; it is a stink and strikes you down."

- Alexander Pope

Monday, November 16, 2009

Eau Mega by Viktor & Rolf : Perfume Review

Goodness knows I’d love to support the daring darling Dutchy duo Viktor & Rolf, but readers, not only can I not do that in this case, I in fact loathe having to put this on my skin ever again! But alright, just one more time then, just for the sake of this review (the things I do for you!)… Eau Mega has a name I feel instant affinity to, it being a play on words on the last letter of the Greek alphabet, Omega. I wish I could say the same about the slogan (“Megafy yourself!” a kitschy pronouncement which alludes to the heroine portrayed in the ads, who “Megafies the world”), to which I just say… “Ugh…” The bottle in turn is as darling as can be, combining the boudoir luxury of a modern interpretation of the bulb atomizer and the brash boldness of a huge gold brand seal resting on a perfect, smooth cylinder. Try to spray with it though and you’ll immediately understand why I hate it! In order to apply you have to press the oversize logo-embossed seal between your fingers, and while this is indeed innovative, it can only be achieved by using both hands. As a result spraying your wrists or arms is out of the question. Conversely, an effort to spray a blotter or your wrist for the purpose of testing while at a store can be precarious. Will the bottle tumble and fall if you only use one hand while the bottle rests on the narrow shelf? Possibly. Will you look ridiculous if you instead try to juggle it in your hands while attempting to spray your wrist? Almost surely.



On to the perfume itself, which a clever Douglas assistant somehow managed to decant in a sample vial for me (dexterous!). I find the opening of Eau Mega rather affable, if not very creative: soft, musky freshness, dominated by the juicy green appeal of a luscious grass note. However, what follows is positively nauseating. This innocuous green shortly transforms into a watery, fruity mess. The reviews I’ve seen so far list pear as the dominant note, but I find it is watermelon that takes center stage. With intense clarity, the aquatic note of watermelon reaches its crescendo, supported by the more honeyed yet complimentary scent of sweet cantaloupe melon and traces of starchy banana peel. Yech! As if the watery freshness derived from these fruits was not quite enough, violet leaf adds its sonorous cucumber-y feel and basil screams “MORE”! The jasmine at the heart does its best to add warmth to the composition, but the efforts are in vain, while peony (not my favorite note under any circumstances anyway) adds an extra tinge of dislike for me. I find the drydown strangely divorced from the overall juicy feel of the perfume as it is surprisingly dry and betrays a subtle powdery tendency as well. The predominant base note is cedar. Any sweetness is left behind; in fact I daresay that the overall feel tends to become rather sour with the passage of time, something that even the emergence of subtle sandalwood and soft musk in the base fail to alleviate.

Images: via www.viktor-rolf.com

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tiare by Ormonde Jayne : Perfume Review



Well, readers I promised to return with a review of a brand new, fabulous perfume and here it is: Ormonde Jayne’s newest, Tiare. Upon reading the news that the Ormonde Jayne Perfumery had produced a new fragrance with tiare absolute as its starring feature, I tried to imagine what the scent would be like and fully expected to be greeted with a voluptuous, summery exotic fragrance when my sample arrived. I couldn’t have been more wrong: Tiare is the pinnacle of modern sophistication and classic elegance: a true chypre that has taken my breath away!

It opens with sparkling notes of hesperidic fruit (juicy mandarin and bracing, refreshing lime) whose tartness is masterfully cut by a magnificently refined neroli note. Orange blossom can be very heady, but here its presence is airy and soft, adding a beautiful touch of femininity to the fresh opening. As the fresh notes subside, the biggest surprise this perfume has to offer emerges: a gloriously animalic floral note blooms, like a sumptuous flower which unfurls its petals to reveal a shockingly naughty core. There is a distinctive lily scent, melded with the fuzzy feel of pollen and infused with this fabulous, honeyed animalic note that takes me by surprise and makes me swoon with pleasure. The jasmine note is green and beautifully complimented by a barely-there, subtle earthiness which is in turn drenched with the scent of ylang ylang. For once, I do not find the ylang ylang oily or heavy - instead it lifts the scent to the threshold of the exotic, ‘coloring’, as it were, the fragrance with sunshine. And I use the word ‘threshold' consciously, for it is never actually crossed: the unconditionally sophisticated base exerts such influence, that this perfume never actually crosses over to the exotic - even when the gardenia-like fullness of the incredibly precious tiare absolute fully emerges. And this is not a small feat: it is hard not to admire Linda Pilkington’s mastership and finesse as one becomes aware of the skill required to tame all these rhapsodic, lustful, voluptuous florals and to compel them to behave as the most comely, sophisticated bouquet. This beautiful tension between wild abandon and perfectly groomed restrain is achieved through the strong woody-mossy base that manages to arrest the promiscuous heart and to harness and guide its potency into a polite yet powerfully meaningful, masterful arrangement. In other words, Linda Pilkington has gifted us with a return to the glories of chypres past. As we enter the drydown stage we encounter Linda’s familiar players: the soft creaminess of orris (never powdery in her hands) and her beloved vetiver. The lasting power is amazing - this is one of the fragrances you wake up with the next morning. In my case, the traces left on my skin just make me want to re-apply. This amazing composition is refined, sophisticated (yes, I’ll say it again) and most importantly perhaps, unabashedly womanly. In every sense of the word. I see a full bottle in my future.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Exam Week

Morning everyone!

Things have been a little silent the past few days here on Fragrance Bouquet because I have been studying for the first exam period of the year. This week is riddled with exams and final papers so I won't be able to post. But next week Fragrance Bouquet will be back with a review of a brand new and supremely sophisticated perfume! See you then :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Winner Amandes Orientales


The winner of the Amandes Orientales small spray decant is Zazie! Congratulations! Please email me your details and I'll get a packet out to you.

Thanks for participating and look forward to the next one, everyone!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fairchild & Moondance by Anya’s Garden : Perfume Reviews

Seasoned perfume lovers will already have a pretty good idea of what to expect from an all-natural perfume, but even they are set to be surprised by Anya McCoy’s creations - and that’s a promise. Anya is a pioneer who daringly reaches new frontiers by using the most unusual notes: rutting billy-goat hair will grant her creations a strong touch of cruelty free animalic musk, while toasted seashells beautifully render the scent of the ocean spray sans calone. With seven perfumes produced under the brand name Anya’s Garden, Anya truly has something there for everyone. Last week she was kind enough to send me tiny samples of her precious perfumes to test. Today, I present to you my two favorite ones.

Fairchild: Fairchild opens with a strange animalic potency that is quickly overtaken by a bracing, beautifully awakening blast of citrus. I personally find this strong opening incredible as it feels like a powerful jolt of energy that fills me with a positive outlook. Definitely something I’d love to start my day with. After a while this almost superlative burst calms and the perfume transforms into a smooth lemon note enfolded in gorgeous sweetness spiced with accents of pepper. I can’t help but reiterate my feeling that this is the perfect morning scent: Fairchild feels to me as though it produces light. As the heart notes bloom on the skin, the gorgeous sweetness intensifies with the beautiful scent of white florals: jasmine and lemon blossoms are the ones most perceptible to me. Despite their indolic nature, here they both project an image of brilliant white purity - like a wedding bouquet. Sweet ylang ylang gives this perfume a perfectly light expression of tropical bliss. Slowly but surely the base notes begin to emerge bringing the full animalic glory of this perfume to the fore. Gorgeous ambergris bathes the skin in its softly sweet animalic glow, while sun-baked seaweed adds extra naughtiness. The scent of toasted seashells in turn brings with it the calming sound of rolling waves. This is a beautiful animalic citrus-chypre, very much in the same vein as the original Philtre d’Amour by Guerlain, but beautifully suffused with intense light. Some time ago Anya and I had a conversation about whether all-natural perfumes can render light in the same way that synthetics can. With this, a last note: Congratulations, Anya. You’ve created light.

Moondance: If you love violet, then you must try Moondance, as it opens with one of the most interesting and fabulous violet notes I’ve had the pleasure to smell. Lightly sweet, pastel in color and velvety textured like the skin of a ripe peach, the violet in this scent sings with melodious clarity. At first its scent is accompanied by an almost fougère herbal feel, as though it’s underscored by lavender, but after a while that impression subsides as the violet intensifies and deepens. The texture too changes, from velvety to buttery and the sweetness intensifies. An almost fruity, vaguely apple-scented note emerges, perfectly balancing the otherworldly, beautiful melancholy of the violet with its childishly innocent cheer. Two more complementary notes emerge: The buttery character of the violet is beautifully complimented by hints of carrot seed, while the sweetness of the light apple scent is amplified by orange blossom water. At the heart of this fragrance we find the most ethereal whisper of tuberose. Light and diaphanous (and no, I never expected to used these words to describe tuberose either), the infamously sensual blossom manages to retain all of its femininity and guile while shedding all of the qualities that tend to be perceived as overbearing and demanding by many. The base is a sweet symphony of mellow amber and sandalwood, peculiarly lanced through by a slightly bitter resinous vein. Glorious!

Images: via Flickr by alexdecarvalho and Memotions

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Amandes Orientales by Montale : Perfume Review & Decant Draw

Back in summer, I promised you a review of Montale’s Amandes Orientales. Although I never forgot about it, I have sort of been putting off reviewing this amazing fragrance for a silly, yet common (for me) reason: When I love a fragrance this much, I tend to wait for that perfect day to review it, the day that I know will help me do it perfect justice. With an ever more hectic schedule ever since I returned from my vacation, that perfect, calm day seems farther and farther out of reach. At the same time several of you have been mailing me asking for almond recommendations and wondering about this particular Montale, so it seems this review cannot be put off any longer!

Now, if you are expecting a straightforward gourmand, you won’t find it here. And if you are craving after a simple, comforting almond-vanilla combination (as the official note listing on the Montale website might lead you indeed to expect), I’m afraid you won’t find it here either. What is Amandes Orientales then? It is nothing short of a groundbreaking, edgy gourmand that breaks the sweet/comforting mold and one that is far more complex than the simple note listing would have us think.

Even though Amandes Orientales does develop over time, it does not follow the classic top-heart-base pyramid construction.. The opening is tender, a touch of powder on a precious swan’s down puff. The nutty scent of golden-roasted almonds emerges almost immediately, urged forward by a creamy wave of ground-almond paste that is good enough to eat. But what you don’t expect is the improbably realistic, deep floral bloom upon which these nutty, gourmand almond notes rest. Heady and warm, the unfolding floral scent is that of a gorgeous bouquet of grand lilies. I wish I knew enough about lilies to specify the type, but in order to describe the scent I will refer to two different perfumes: Donna Karan’s Gold and Hermès’ Vanille Galante. Despite these two scents both featuring a very intense lily note, this is not the lily scent employed here. Both Gold and Vanille Galante feature a lily scent that is rather unnatural, cold, almost metallic and very obviously aquatic. The lily in Amandes Orientales is instead incredibly warm and carnal, very much the scent of lilies I’ve smelled in gardens and bought from florists. It forms a complete picture: the beautiful, narcotic, improbably beautiful scent, the yellow pollen on the stamens, the dizzying, sticky nectar. Most importantly, it imparts an intense sexually charged vibe to the perfume with its highly indolic nature. This entirely unexpected pervasive eroticism is what renders this perfume the most unique gourmand I’ve ever experienced. Its wanton animalic nature is incredibly provocative, but at the same time, being rendered through an exquisitely feminine floral note, it remains dashingly elegant and tasteful. A beautiful, confusing contradiction, Amandes Orientales is a fervid, lusty, almost pornographic temptress dressed in the most polished, stunningly affluent ensemble. And how can you not fall in love with a contradiction like that? It is simply masterful! The scrumptious almond elements and the voluptuously aphrodisiac floral epicenter are both enfolded in a marvelously dark, highly concentrated vanilla absolute. Its tendrils are almost sticky (but never overly or obviously sweet) and beautifully underscore the toasted nature of the almonds with their lightly smoky, inky character. This is a gourmand like no other.

I am offering a small decant of this stunning, unique eau de parfum to one reader. Anyone who posts a comment in this entry becomes eligible for winning the decant in a draw. Winner to be announced in a week’s time, next Wednesday.

Images: Unripe almonds, Flickr by ReefRaff. Lily via sxc.hu

Monday, October 19, 2009

Parisienne by Yves Saint Laurent : Perfume Review



“You were not born in Paris, but Paris adopts you…”

A magical pronouncement that will strike a chord in the heart of every woman that has been warmly welcomed by Paris, and one that will blow the mischievous whisper of wistfulness in the ears of those that dream of visiting this city of cities. Parisienne, Yves Saint Laurent’s newest fragrant offering is not named after the Parisian woman, but after all the women in the world that know “how to love, how to live”, true Parisians in their heart thus and loved by the grand metropolis for their essence, spirit and allure.

Parisienne gives a respectful nod to Paris, YSL’s classic, timeless floral in more ways than one. Created by the same perfumer, Sophia Grojsman (in collaboration with Sophie Labbé), Parisienne reworks Paris’ signature rose and violet blend but at the same time manages to showcase a completely different aspect - one that is crystalline, sheer and effulgent. The facetted flacon too, is mindful of the original Paris flacon, while in this instance the fluid irregularity of the facets represents the complex, maze-like coil of small Parisian streets.



All this is well and good, fabulous even. But now we come to a crossroad of sorts. Understand, I actually love Parisienne and have been craving to douse myself with it every day for the last week (the only thing that has stopped me from doing so every single day was the fact that I did not want to let my nose get used to it too much before I give you a review), but it also has to be said that there is something antagonizing a full embracing of the final product. Parisienne features one of the most delightful and immediately interesting openings I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in a long time. There is no need to pause and consider - no need to wait for some irritating top note to fly off before you can immerse yourself to the real deal. Parisienne’s opening is just perfect as is: gorgeously tart fruit gently enfolded in the rising, magnificent softness of the floral heart. After a minute or two, the youthful, playful tartness subsides, and a most delicious cranberry note emerges. Chewy and sweet, truly edible and most realistically evocative of yummy dried cranberry, the note is so delectable and distinctive that it makes me want to spray the fragrance over and over again to re-experience it. The result is very feminine and tastefully done, so please do not let the mention of fruit scare you off. I get no trace of the promised “patent leather” accord in terms of scent, but I do see it well interpreted in the glossy, highlighted feel of the perfume. The floral heart in turn, with its rose-violet combination, smoothly emerges in a cloud of almost powdery softness, that ‘almost’ being operative, in that it very successfully translates in a palpable sense of yearning. The lightly sugary sweetness that caresses the floral heart notes renders them into a picture of little edible jewels in the imagination, as they smell so familiarly of candied rose and violet petals. The clean patchouli employed in the base - already apparent from the start - picks up in volume to support the floral heart and together with the vanilla and sandalwood, the end result is seamless and round, with just a hint of edginess offered by the patchouli.

But now is the time to return to that point of antagonizing discrepancy I mentioned earlier: despite having fallen in love with such ease with this perfume, I also find myself arguing against its drydown, its only unfortunate weak spot. Even though it doesn’t quite fall apart at the end, in terms of quality, Parisienne is certainly top-heavy. The whole premise of this modern, youthful version of Paris, seems to be its beautifully sheer, effulgent interpretation and I have to make it clear that my quarrel is not with its overall transparency. However, the drydown takes things a bit too far, presenting a slightly too diluted result for me to fully appreciate. I guess what I am trying to say is that the drydown lacks in complexity to keep my interest fully piqued. Having said that, it is beautiful and feminine - most definitely something I’d want others to smell on me. So where does that leave us? Well, Parisienne loses a few points for its drydown, but most definitely wins my heart overall. As I already mentioned, I have become addicted to it! Considering that the drydown does not require or draw my attention, I’d file this under beautiful perfumes to choose for when you need a perfume that is not too demanding - the type of perfume that makes you feel feminine and sexy while not distracting you or others around you.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Win a Free Bottle of Boss Orange...Again

Morning everyone,
It's now been a full week and the winner of the free bottle of Boss Orange has not come forward unfortunately. Now, if it was up to me, I'd wait a full month, but since this contest is sponsored by an outside party, I do not wish to impose further on their time. So the first person to comment on this post gets the bottle. If you comment and you see that you are the first, please send me your details immediately and I will pass them on so that you get your bottle.

Also, due to having to finish a huge paper this week, there will be no post tomorrow. New posts are coming again on Monday though! Thank you for understanding.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pears & Sugarcane by Blackwick’s : Scented Candle Review

It’s October and all the foodie magazines are filled with enticing recipes featuring the fruit of the season - pear. Referred to as “the last taste of the sun”, pear indeed manages to bring the cheer of the last rays of sunshine on our plates with its nectar. Absolutely perfect for the autumnal transition from summer to winter and while we’re enjoying the last of the blue skies even as the wind is getting chillier, I find myself indulging my senses with pear scented perfume (it’s pear, vanilla and sandalwood delight with Boss Orange for me again today), while my home has been scented with Blackwick’s Pear & Sugarcane candle all weekend long.



I tend to mentally divide the candles I choose to burn in three categories: The ones I burn to recreate a scent I miss or long for, the ones I burn to create a particular ambience before a gathering or party and the ones I use for sheer comfort, when I need that cuddly, warm feeling in the house. Pears & Sugarcane definitely fits the first and last category: It produces the scent I long to smell in this particular season and at the same time it is very comforting, creating a cozy atmosphere in the house. Its scent is a lot more complex than I’d expected from the name and official description. The overtone is fruity, featuring a refined sweet pear aroma blended with tart, berry-like accents, while the sugar is playful, having a lighthearted candy-floss feel to it. But what makes this home scent transcend its cheerful, autumn sun character is the cozy base which makes it utterly comforting: creamy, round vanilla flushing with spicy cinnamon and warm accents of nutmeg. Pears & Sugarcane burns slowly and evenly, producing a soft, sweet trail that efficiently perfumes the house with a beautifully cozy gourmand vibe. At the same time, its scent is gentle enough to not constantly demand your attention. It has great throw and its effect is long lasting, meaning that the house will still be pleasantly scented long after the candle has been put out. As has been the case with other Blackwick’s candles I’ve tested, I’ve found that the fragrance of the unlit candle can seem scary (overly strong or sharp), but that the effect it produces while burning is beautifully smooth.

If you wish to learn a little more about the company, please refer back to my first Blackwick’s review by clicking here and by visiting the official Blackwick's site where you can also peruse and purchase the different candles.
The prices for the different sizes of Blackwick’s candles are as follows:
2oz Travel Tin ($4.00)
5oz Small Square Glass ($12.95)
8oz Large Tin ($13.95)
14oz Large Square Glass ($20.95)

Image: Product shoot by Fragrance Bouquet. All rights reserved.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fragrance Bouquet Presents Haydria Perfumery (Part 2)

As promised, we continue our exploration of the Haydria Perfumery line with the last four fragrances. So far, all the fragrances have been thematically connected (each representing a particular female persona), while three out of the following quartet are rather more abstract, focusing instead on concepts such as period exoticism and temptation. Let’s take a closer look...

Harem Girl: Together with Bernie!, Harem Girl is the perfume that best subscribes to the brand’s nostalgic, vintage philosophy. In fact, if this was placed in a rare vintage flacon and sold at a vintage perfume fair, you wouldn’t be blamed for being fooled into thinking that this was indeed an old perfume as it even comes complete with slightly ‘off’ top notes. The official notes of iris, musk and opoponax prepare one for a curvy, voluptuous elixir, but in reality this is much more stinging femme fatale than curvy odalisque. What we have here is a thorny bouquet of flowers -all red lipstick and impossibly high heels- enfolded in smoldering incense. The resinous, warm musk base lends beautiful sensuality to the blend, a touch of softness that can be likened to a chink in this vicious lady’s armor. Unisex incense scents (currently enjoying great popularity in the niche sector) can often be boring for they fail to deliver a strong message, relying instead on creating a stable ambience. This perfume is just the opposite, being strongly feminine and deliberately sexually aggressive: it definitely has an agenda. Probably my favorite in the entire line.

L’eau Exotique: According to the brand’s website, L’Eau Exotique is inspired by the tropical waters of 1930’s French Indochine and features light aquatic notes along with champa flowers and sandalwood. Yes, the aquatic notes are there, so if you absolutely hate ozonic/aquatic scents steer clear of this one. However -and even though this is certainly not one I’d soon acquire a full bottle of- I have to jump to its defense and say that as far as aquatics go, you could do worse. True to its name, the scent is indeed very exotic, bringing to mind summery locales, blindingly white linen ensembles and a sense of calm. There is a fruity sweetness accompanying the ever-present aquatic overtones, while the sandalwood base is completed with clean musks and woody vetiver. This is the only perfume in the line that I’d consider unisex and the only one that veers completely away from the brand’s vintage approach, being instead thoroughly ‘90s in feel. Fairly linear and decidedly not for me.

Pure Sin: Opening with a strong (and might I add delicious) strawberry marc de champagne truffle accord, Pure Sin seems decidedly modern instead of vintage as well, but who cares when you have a sweet tooth to cater to? Yummy-yummy chocolate infused with champagne and bursting with strawberry will do the trick if you want to smell edible and scrumptious. As time goes by the intensely gourmand character calms down, allowing the earthy, musky base to show through. This turn tends to take me by surprise, for the scent goes from being all girly and fun, to an altogether more serious and adult territory, courtesy of the rather animalic base. I am undecided on this one: On one hand I can’t stop sniffing my arm because it is so tantalizingly delicious and its changes are so fascinating, on the other hand I am pretty sure I wouldn’t want to go out wearing this. I’d probably enjoy this more as a body butter where the scent would be subtler and perfect for layering, or as a candle.

Tainted Love: Violet has definitely been en vogue the last few years and those of you that love Creed’s Love in Black and Van Cleef & Arpels’ Feerie for their combination of powdery, romantic violets with berries should definitely give this one a try. Tainted Love tones down the berry aspect to a flirtatious gasp and showcases a beautiful feminine bouquet of violets spiced with carnation and light hints of clove. The base is creamy sandalwood and soft resins sweetened with a prominent honey note. I am often scared when I encounter honey in the official notes for it is often sharp and dominant, but the honey employed here is sweet and well-behaved. Incredibly romantic and very American in spirit (think 80’s florals like Beautiful), this is a beautifully constructed fragrance.

Haydria Perfumery fragrances come in simple, rounded atomizers decorated with Swarovski crystals which add a flirtatious boudoir flair. Different colored crystals correspond to each individual perfume. The fragrances are all Eau de Parfum concentration and the 33ml flacons retail for 35$ each. By following this link you can be directed to the site’s webshop where you can also find the perfumes in solid format sold in cute compacts or lockets. You can also order a sample set of the entire fragrance line for 15$ (plus shipping costs for international orders) by following this link.

My favorites of this line are Harem Girl, Tainted Love and Gypsy Girl (in order of preference).

Images: Flickr by ff137, Flickr by javic, the truffles pictured here were found via www.prestat.co.uk who has been selling beautiful chocolates in London since 1902, www.sxc.hu and www.haydriaperfumery.com

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Winner of Boss Orange Bottle

Goooooooooodmorning!
The winner of the full bottle of Boss Orange is Shelley! Congratulations! Please email me your details and I will forward them to Debbie who will send you your bottle.
Thanks to everyone for participating and look forward to the next contest here on Fragrance Bouquet!

Results via random.org

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Fragrance Bouquet Presents Haydria Perfumery (Part 1)

Haydria Perfumery specializes in creating perfumes with a retro, vintage feel inspired by the golden age of the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and early sixties. Through her creations, perfumer Haydria Bish wishes to convey nostalgia for the immaculate beauties of the past and return glamour to our lives by imbuing her fragrances with the essence of classic pinups, burlesque queens and femme fatales! I was very impressed with the creations of this indie line: all the fragrances are thoughtfully composed, have excellent sillage and longevity, complex development and most importantly, they all have a good, solid construction. In this two part series, we explore the entire fragrance lineup -currently consisting of eight fragrances- with four reviews today and the next four in Part 2 of the series.

Bernie!: Bernie! is inspired by rockabilly pinup Bernie Dexter (pictured left). Incredibly evocative of classic 50’s florals, this is sure to please lovers of luscious vintage perfumes. Creamy, luxurious gardenia and sharp-ish, green jasmine are blurred by frothy aldehydes and any notion of tameness is quickly dissuaded by the fiery bite of peppery spiciness. The base of gentle, enveloping sandalwood balances the pungent floral heart perfectly, adding a comfortingly sensuous feel. The end result delivers a message of pure self-confidence and self-assured allure. With Bernie!, Haydria Bish really delivers her promise of creating a perfume that truly smells vintage.

Burlesque Blue: Burlesque Blue opens with a floral flourish, extravagantly showering the wearer with white blossoms. Jasmine is the most prominent floral note, but what I love are the moments I get juicy, nectarous hints of honeysuckle. According to the official notes, I should be smelling plum - but I don’t. The delightful green cord that runs through this composition is tempered by the soft embrace of sandalwood and warm musk, touched by a hint of gorgeous, smoky myrrh. Soon the floral notes turn into a whisper and the beautiful warm base is allowed to take over. This is a beautiful musky floriental that brings to mind the glory of Opium… which in itself is a strange comparison, because Burlesque Blue has a very definite green streak and absolutely no clove to speak of. The deep drydown is a very warm amber-patchouli combination.

My Geisha: This one opens as one of the subtler scents in the line, having a soft, innocent girly appeal. The first impression is fresh and very dry, featuring a beautiful matcha (Japanese powdered green tea) accord. Orange blossom and clean musk add warmth to the composition and as time goes by My Geisha goes from dry to gently sweet. However, there is a fruity note present as well, which becomes increasingly pervasive and ruins the calm feel of the fragrance for me. I can’t quite identify the offending fruit, but it smells quite exotic, making me think of summer. It is at the same time tart and (too) sweet and unfortunately ends up dominating the composition, at least in my perception. The end result is summery, happy, flirty and very, very young. Not for me, but if you are a fan of exotic fruit notes for the summer, give it a go.

Gypsy Queen: A woody, spicy floral fragrance, Gypsy Queen manages to be at once mysterious and sultry-sexy while at the same time manifesting a familiar, delightfully comforting gourmand bite. The floral touches are seamless and well blended, adding femininity to the unapologetically woodsy infusion. Sweet spicy accents give it an exotic twist, while cinnamon and a yummy, toasted nut accord lend an almost edible vibe. The rising musky civet base however forestalls further musings on this being a gourmand fragrance: once it becomes evident, Gypsy Queen takes an absolute turn into lusty, smoldering territory. Dark and naughty, this is definitely one of my favorites in the line.

Images: www.haydriaperfumery.com, Flickr by deneyterrio, Revelation: The Modern Geisha by Kalandrakas via Flickr, Flickr by Sonny

Monday, October 5, 2009

Mystery Perfume

Time for some sleuthing, Fragrance Bouquet readers! Are you up for a little trail-tracking challenge? This weekend I received an email from a reader asking me to try and identify a scent he's fallen in love with out of a short description. Now, I've helped readers with similar email requests in the past, but this one truly has me stumped! So I am posting Efrain's request here on Fragrance Bouquet in the hopes that together, we may help him find, or at least come closer to finding this elusive scent. If you have any ideas, no matter how unlikely they might seem, please do comment so that we can get the discussion going! I will email Efrain and ask him to monitor the replies so that he can chime in and help us narrow it down. Here's the description:

Dear Divina,
I've been going crazy searching for this scent, let me describe it to you to see if it lights up in your mind: It's a very "rare" scent, I only smelled it on one in a couple of thousand people in crowded areas, like beach, downtown, and it should be in clubs. Very stylish, hip, smooth, roomy like a patchouly or a musk(strong air born I mean), but more pleasant and beautiful, very clean, exotic and powdery, like a real strong version of ANGEL-by TM. I wish this could give you a clue, it could be an oil? Divina you're one of my only hopes to end this quest. Take your time and give it some thought or even share it with others. If you know of have and idea, I'm willing to purchase samples to see if we got it, and eventually purchase it even if it's expensive.
Thanks
Efrain


Now, what I can tell you to help is that Efrain really likes patchouli - he mentions Angel and in a previous unrelated email he mentioned his love for By Killian's Taste of Heaven, so I believe what attracts him to both of these scents is the patchouli aspect. The clean aspect he mentions throws me a little bit - the only 'clean' patchouli I can think of is Etro's Patchouly so this might be a good contender, since it is powdery as well. In fact, this is the perfume that looms as the most likely contender in my mind. However, Efrain also claims this has a strong sillage, comparing it to a stronger version of Angel, which kind of confuses things a bit for me. In that sense, it could also be one of the A*MEN scents of Thierry Mugler, or Angel Garden of Stars Violet for the powdery aspect. Prada Eau de Parfum has come to mind as well, but it is not quite 'rare', I'd guess the opposite. When the 'rare' factor is taken into account, I consider Bond No. 9's Nuits de Noho to be a possibility as well, since its scent is famously mindful of Angel.

What say you? What are your thoughts? I really hope you'll chime in to help this reader find his fragrance!

Image: Flickr by Xurble

Friday, October 2, 2009

Perfumed Quotes: Oscar Wilde


"And so he would now study perfumes. . . He saw that there was no mood of the mind that had not its counterpart in the sensuous life, and set himself to discover their true relations, wondering what there was in frankincense that made one mystical, and in ambergrise that stirred one's passions, and in violets that woke the memory of dead romances, and in musk that troubled the brain, and in champak that stained the imagination; and seeking often to elaborate a real psychology of perfumes, and to estimate the several influences of sweet-smelling roots, and scented pollen-laden flowers, or aromatic balms, and of dark and fragrant woods, of spikenard that sickens, of hovenia that makes men mad, and of aloes that are said to be able to expel melancholy from the soul."

- Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Thursday, October 1, 2009

FREE Bottle of Boss Orange

Well, Debbie, the "perfume fairy" of DMfragrances loved Fragrance Bouquet's review of Boss Orange and she emailed me last night to say that she would like to offer Fragrance Bouquet readers a full bottle of Boss Orange! Sooo, we're taking up Debbie on her generous offer! Please leave a comment if you're interested and I will put you in a draw. The winner will be announced in a week's time. I will be mailing the winner's details to Debbie and she will take care of shipping. Please take this chance to visit Debbie's store as well by clicking here. The selection is not huge, but I checked it all out and there are certain cult perfumes there that are hard to find in brick and mortar stores (such as certain Ghost fragrances, KL's Sun Moon and Stars etc). The prices are good too.

Lastly, please allow me to state that Debbie did not ask me to advertise her site, but I love her gesture of generously offering Fragrance Bouquet readers a free full bottle of perfume, so I thought I'd send some people that way. So go ahead and visit!

Hugs from me and I'll see you tomorrow, here on FB!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Boss Orange by Hugo Boss : Perfume Review

Boss fragrances are usually received with deafening silence in the perfume blogging community, and not without good reason: the fact that each perfume in the lineup has a name that is some sort of confusing (and utterly ungoogle-able) variation on the Hugo Boss name is enough to baffle the Boss marketing execs themselves, but most importantly, the fragrances have for the largest part been as indistinctive and bland as their namesakes. Myself not excluded from the collective perfume-community derision regarding the Boss fragrance lineup, I’d completely ignored the latest launch, Boss Orange, ever since it first appeared on the shelves. When my newest Douglas magazine arrived with a free sample however, I decided to test this on my skin. Time to eat my words? Well, yes. I actually really like this!

The opening is not the strongest point of Boss Orange: a soft, smooth peach note is combines with juicy, barely-there notes of pear but after a few moments a strong note of dry, tart green apple takes over completely, dominating the composition. It is not unpleasant per se, but while the peach-pear combo was juicy and natural smelling, the apple note is more on the synthetic side, and most importantly rather intrusive, not really allowing the wearer to focus on any other facet of the perfume. Undoubtedly, it adds freshness to the composition, but this is the kind of harsh, urgent freshness I could frankly do without. Fortunately, about fifteen minutes later the apple note loses its sharpness and evolves into a far more agreeable presence. The soft, woody-oriental base starts coming through, lending easy, comfortable warmth to the overall feel of the perfume. At this point, Boss Orange smells like a Burberry fragrance in character and feel, so lovers of Burberry fragrances should definitely give this a shot. The best comparison I can make is that this smells like a combination of Burberry Classic with its dry apple overtones and Burberry Brit, with its sweet, woody-vanillic oriental base (albeit not being nearly as sweet as Brit). I do not smell much of the reported white floral heart notes, except perhaps a vague, well blended jasmine-y floralcy. What I do perceive intensely and find myself immensely attracted to is a lovely milky accord running through the composition and easing us into the beautifully creamy base notes. Rising light vanilla cream with a subtle hint of cinnamon and beautiful, sweet, buttery sandalwood make for an amazingly attractive base that lasts and lasts. I can see this being a comfortable every day choice for autumn and winter, something you put on and feel good without thinking too much about it, like a favorite sweater that despite its simplicity just works, making you feel gorgeous. Boss Orange is comforting and cuddly, while at the same time being sensual enough to make others want to lean in and get a proper whiff. I’d very happily wear this if it was given to me. If the (rather prolonged) sharpness of the opening does not put you off, you'll be rewarded with a very pretty every day oriental that dries down to a wonderfully yummy vanilla-sandalwood scent that is not only beautiful but also addictive.

Images: www.boss-fragrances.com

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Scent by Issey Miyake : Perfume Review

If Issey Miyake did not yet manage to rid his name of any connotations of the dark era of insipid, unisex, ozonic perfumery with his cult, avant-garde masterpiece Le Feu d’Issey, the time has surely come with the newest addition in the Miyake fragrance lineup, simply titled A Scent by Issey Miyake. Not that either the bottle or the name help much in the quest of deliverance from these preconceived notions: the bottle, looking as if it is fashioned out of a simple, shining slab of glass, frosted on the sides to resemble the primitive rawness of the material out of which the polished final product emerges, stays even truer to the keystones of minimalist design than the original L’Eau. So fundamental is the design, it almost seems like an exaggerated representation of what a minimalist perfume bottle should look like. This is either a bottle that takes minimalism too seriously or a bottle created with a good dose of humor. As for the name, well, it can’t get any more elemental than that. Again, minimalism infinitesimally exaggerated and underscored.

So take all this and add to it my disdain for the original L’Eau d’Issey, groundbreaking for sure at the time and set to become a classic, but oh so virulent (well, it wouldn’t be a classic if it wasn’t) and oh so suffocating under the pretence of minimalist, diaphanous freshness. This seemed to ring a bell at first sight, providing a trepid sense of déjà vu that wasn’t very pleasant. But thankfully, first sight isn’t quite the same as first sniff. It was at first sniff that all my resistance and apprehension crumbled. A Scent is beautiful!



A Scent opens with a delicate, lightly sweet citrus-verbena on a fresh, musky backdrop tinged with the lactonic greenness of grass. By no means are the notes sharply outlined: aldehydes smudge the picture with their frothy nature and this image of a clear spring day is beautifully diffused and romantic. The sweetness is gradually stripped off as we are eased into the heart, a gorgeous blast of green intensifying until it finally takes over. Gorgeous, supremely green, surprisingly frosty and metallic galbanum reveals itself to be the star of A Scent. Hyacinth joins in (and oh how beautiful it is to find this gorgeous combination of notes again in a modern fragrance), supporting the greenness and adding a beautiful green-floral touch. A garland of jasmine (stripped off of any animalic, carnal tendencies) wraps around the green column bringing a hint of warmth to the cool blend, as well as a compelling exotic aura. The base showcases a subtly earthy, mossy cord with soapy tonalities, which hours later will dry down to a dried hay skin-scent. What is most striking about A Scent, and what I believe will please most perfume lovers who profess their love and nostalgia for the classics of the past, is that it pays beautiful, honest homage to the Great Greens: Vent Vert, Chanel No. 19, Ivoire, Murasaki. The connection with the first two is especially evident. Perfumer Daphné Bugey has reinterpreted the classic green for Issey Miyake adding just a gentle touch of quiet, modern femininity for the current market. The main difference, if you will, is that this is a subtler, more diffuse rendition of green. One thing’s for certain: the department store shelves haven’t seen a new release like this in years. There have been fragrances beautiful, magnificent, stellar even. But it’s been a great long time since we last saw a fearless green.