Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blue Agava & Cacao by Jo Malone : Perfume Review

The Jo Malone boutique in Thessaloniki adorns Tsimiski street like a brilliant diamond would the ring finger. It might be the parallel to Tsimiski, Mitropoleos street that has become the hub of the most luxurious shops in the city, but Jo Malone has probably made the better choice by placing the boutique in one of the busiest junctions of the shopping center. Exuding undeniable luxury with its chic signature black and cream colors (possibly the chicest color combination known to mankind), gleaming yet warm lights, marble surfaces and wooden floors, the flagship store impresses its Western European élan effortlessly upon passers-by and lends an upscale note to its surroundings. The staff is professional and warm, as helpful, charming and as knowledgeable as any perfumista would desire, and most importantly, as I am pleased to report, never pushy. I can’t resist mentioning that my favorite sales associate working there also happens to be a perfume collector and lover herself, and is an absolute pleasure to converse with. Her favorites in the Jo Malone line closely mirror my own, with Pomegranate Noir coming first and Wild Fig & Cassis (most excellent in soap!) coming in as a close second. There is however, one we disagree on, and that happens to be their best-seller: Blue Agava & Cacao.

I am not used to liking the same of anything as everybody else but it really came as no surprise when upon paying for the Blue Agava & Cacao at the register I got to hear that it is the scent everyone –men and women alike in fact- goes wild about. What’s not to like? Blue Agava & Cacao is as cuddly and comforting as a soft fleece throw under which to snuggle on the couch with a good book and chocolates in the middle of winter. (In fact I could just stop here, and it would be a perfect review, but let’s go on nevertheless.) I wouldn’t have expected intense citrus notes would suit a spicy gourmand so well, but the opening proves me wrong: An incredible hit of salty lime, vaguely reminiscent of the complete tequila works and a shot of bitter orange and grapefruit invigorate the senses and grab the interest. The scent so far is very natural as well as bright, like a ray of sunshine. The lime scent is dispelled within a minute, giving way to a gorgeous, smooth and sweet cardamom with a beautiful, transparent undercurrent of spiced grapefruit. Even though it slowly becomes progressively fainter with time, cardamom lovers should definitely check this one out, since the beautiful spice is a dominant (almost till the end), as well as very well rendered note in this scent. For a while the scent assumes a completely gourmand identity, smelling very much like good quality white chocolate, until suddenly it blooms, flowering in the most attractive manner. I won’t pretend I know what the flower of the agave smells like, but I do get lilies, rose geranium and (officially unlisted but oh-so definitely there) frankincense. This is definitely a deep, sensual symphony that can come across as overwhelming when simply read about, but I will ease your fears by saying that the sweetness is cut and tempered by a dry, peppery note which puts everything into proportion. Further down the line, the much awaited cacao finally makes its appearance and proves to be worth the wait: bittersweet and playful, deep and yummy it makes the skin nuzzle-worthy and addictive. The blend is perfect (yes, really!) with no notes jumping out jarringly screaming for attention. The vanilla used here is absolutely smooth, deep and erotic (and once again very natural smelling) and together with warm musk, complements the cacao to perfection. I only get traces of vetiver and cinnamon in the background; they do not really enter the game as major players, but definitely complete the picture, if this makes sense. The overall impression as I have already mentioned above, is one of luxurious comfort and innocent sensuality; the comfort of soft, good quality fleece, combined with the luxury of cashmere and velvet. Edible yet never overwhelming, this scent is at once soft and noticeable, with a medium projection that invites others to come ever closer to the addictive epicenter. A definite winter scent, if not a winter must for gourmand/oriental lovers.

The Jo Malone line has not been very warmly received by the perfume community, oftentimes receiving flack for its “simplicity”. While I myself am not enamored with the whole line (I actively dislike almost all of the white florals in the line, for example), I do think that this reputation is undeserved to a point and suspect a great deal of the negativity stems not from the quality of the perfumes but rather from the admittedly unimaginative/uninspiring names, which are rather reminiscent of Body Shop creations. It is however a shame to let a whole line pass you by just because the names are not as romantic or complex as we are used to. I have no problem putting my head on the line and say that despite what you might have heard or might be led to think due to the simplistic names, the fragrances themselves are not simplistic. Almost none of them are linear – in fact most of them have a gradual and very perceptible development. Just because something is called “Blue Agava & Cacao” does not mean it only features agave flower and cacao as notes! Furthermore, I sometimes fail to understand why other perfumes that could be blamed for exactly the same things are received with joy and exuberance, anticipation even. A good example would be the Marc Jacobs line of colognes, with names such as “Cucumber”, “Violet” and “Orange” which are, believe me, much more insipid and simplistic than anything ever turned out of the Jo Malone brand. It makes one think…

Images:, painting of blue agave via, agave and cactuses via by photographer Miguel Angel

Monday, January 26, 2009

Perfume Identity

One of my best and oldest friends here -let’s call him T., has a long distance relationship with a beautiful, smart and funny girl from another country. Even though I know this friend for many, many years and he knows very well my passion for perfume, we hardly ever talk about it together. As a matter of fact, I’d never even asked him what perfume he is wearing, which is not very strange considering this is the sort of hobby that bores or bemuses many of my male friends. Most of the time, I just don’t bring it up, unless prompted. T. is a sharp dresser with a great sense of style, is always well groomed and has always smelled nice, warm and clean. His scent of choice (something by D&G as it turned out) was innocuous and pleasant, sexy but not in the least attention grabbing, so much so in fact, that I never even consciously realized that he’s been faithful to the same perfume for years. This week, S., the girlfriend from abroad came to stay for a few weeks and all of us having missed her, we decided to do something together this Saturday. A short round of hugs and kisses all around in front of the bar and there’s me, turning to T. trying hard to inject a cheerful, curious note in my voice that would hopefully mask the disappointment: “You’ve changed your perfume!”. Laughter on his side, and a sharpish look from S. “Uh, hah, yes, I did, how did you know?” I ignore this: of course I know, I mean, really. S. turns to me. “I can’t get used to it.” She says, and I can’t tell if she’s disappointed or just making a statement. Politely I change the subject and we go inside for drinks. Sitting down however, the subject comes up again unexpectedly half an hour later. They are both excited, smiling, completing each other’s sentences as lovers tend to do, while they describe meeting at the airport again after such a long time. “We speak every day, but it’s still strange to meet face to face after not having seen each other for two months! Then we spend an hour together and it’s as though we’ve never been apart.” Then suddenly S. becomes more animated, raising her voice slightly: “Yes, but he came there and I hugged him and he smelled different. I was like…. IS THIS MY BOYFRIEND???” and once more: “I can’t get used to it…”

This little snippet of the evening has remained vivid in my memory and has been popping in and out of my mind, raising the same questions every time. What does our perfume of choice mean to our loved ones? And what about those of us who change our perfume daily? Are we missing out on a secret signal, a secret form of recognition, a bond which we would otherwise enjoy? It is easier for me to accept that S. would be perturbed by T.’s change, for when living so far away from each other, every bit of familiarity becomes magnified in importance and of course, there’s no question that the sense of smell would play a leading role in that sense of familiarity. The change can be rather devastating, for in truth, the scent of a lover is something we take with us, like a memento, signifying some unspoken truth that will light up like a magic compass upon the next meeting of the bodies. Sometimes, it is the only important (or even meaningful) thing you can take with you when parting. But what about my reaction then? How disturbing and inexplicable that I would react with disappointment to the change. After all, I see T. every week without fail. And what is the message that friends subconsciously receive about those of us who change our perfume constantly? Perhaps we’re better off, never actually giving our friends the chance to associate us so deeply with a scent that it’d create dissonance the moment we decided to change it.

Have you ever had a signature scent? And if so, did you experience similar reactions from your friends when you made a change? As for me, I have in fact gone through stages of using a particular perfume almost exclusively or with such noticeable frequency that it becomes associated with me in the past. I’ve never really had a strange reaction from friends or loved ones, however, my boyfriend does always comment when I wear the perfume I used to wear when we first started dating. He gets this blissful look in his eyes and always exclaims I smell great. It makes me grin every time, because he never actually makes the connection fully enough to mention it by name.

Images: Flickr by bri v and Stefano Mortellaro

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Signature by Donna Karan : Perfume Review

In my mind, I’ve saved the best for last, although surprisingly, this is the only one of the Donna Karan Essence Collection (including Fuel) that has not yet received any “air time” so far on perfume journals and blogs. Launched in 1992 as simply “Donna Karan” and now re-introduced under the new moniker “Signature”, one couldn’t be blamed for thinking this might be Donna’s personal favorite, not only because of the name, but also because of the celebration this scent makes of the designer’s favorite flower, the Casablanca Lilly. That honor however goes to Essence Lavender, another Donna Karan Essence Collection scent that although never discontinued, had, until now, been semi-exclusive.

Of all the newly re-launched perfumes in the collection, this is the one I would most like to possess. And there is certainly a dichotomy here between the one I most admire and the one I love most: my admiration would have to be reserved for the one that’s most unique, and that would undoubtedly be Black Cashmere, surprising now as it was back then, peculiarly new and cutting edge, ahead of its time, still. My heart however belongs to Signature, a child of its time that is delightfully out of place now in today’s market. Signature is a thick, baroque fragrance that carries the mark of its era in its deep, experienced laughing lines and makes my heart flutter with joy by reminding me exactly how fragrances used to be back then, in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It smells crassly, thoroughly and unabashedly Italian and brings to mind other masterpieces of the same era, like the glitzy, opulent (and of course discontinued), Fendi’s Asja with which it shares the very same over the top feel, despite the fact that it doesn’t share Asja’s spicy oriental theme. Another comparison I can’t help but make, is with Beautiful (the original, not the shadow of the exceptional floral it has become in the last decade…), with which it shares a beautiful oakmossy-resinous accord in the drydown.

Signature opens with the bittersweet delight of sparkling, aldehydic fruit notes: peach and creamy, lovely apricot adorned with a shining bergamot twist. A beautiful, at once leafy and grassy green accord, balances the fruit and restrains the perfume, keeping it on the side of elegance despite its flamboyance. The heart notes reveal an exuberant alliance between a gorgeous orange blossom note and lilies, which becomes deeper and sultrier as time goes by. The sex-appeal of this perfume is no doubt helped along by the addition of hypnotic ylang ylang and slightly sharp, indolic jasmine. Behind it all, there is a beautiful earthy greenness that I find absolutely irresistible and addictive. I have not been able to find mention of the note anywhere, but whether it is just my perception or not, I have to tell you, that to me Signature feels like it is drenched in oakmoss, a feeling that becomes especially prevalent as the captivatingly strong floral notes start subsiding, or if you will, opening up, to let the base notes show through. Together with the sticky, sensual resin and patchouli of the basenotes, the combination becomes inexorably fascinating, especially for those of us who long for the prototypical chypre structure we’re so depraved of. The patchouli in question is slightly minty and lends a smidgen of freshness to the sueded notes that so smoothly manifest from the leathery aspects of ylang in the heart notes, into the deeper suede of the basenotes. Time renders the perfume slightly sweeter, despite the fact that it retains its sticky, restraining green note to the very end. The drydown is woody, musky-sweet and perfectly inviting. This is exactly the type of perfume that will do best at night, with a bolder lipstick and chunky accents of gold. There is another side to it too, however: the side that will function as the ultra-feminine, sexy touch when dressed in knits, cardigans and flats. It’ll be the mischievous twinkle in the eye.

The Signature, as well as Chaos, Wenge and Lavender scents also come in luxurious, stylish black candles that burn for approximate 45 hours.

Images: Flickr by valeyoshino, www.producepedia and www.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Black Cashmere by Donna Karan : Perfume Review

Black Cashmere originally made a very short appearance in Europe, coming and going like a rare black bird that somehow lost its way while migrating. I remember seeing it, all peculiarly shaped (at the time bottles that did not stand upright were even less common than they are now…) like a large shining pebble that was recovered from a volcanic lake. Standing alone on a pedestal, supported by a crafty little stand, it seemed like a modern objet d’art that persistently called my name. Fascinated both by its look and its sensuous name, I picked it up and sprayed some right on my wrist with the conviction I would undoubtedly fall in love. Mistake; Thick, woody sweetness and an overwhelming sense of drowning in sandalwood and spice sent me running to the nearest sink to wash it off, my urgency exacerbated by my stomach’s protests. I stayed away from it thereafter, like a child that’s learned to respect the sullen nature of nettle and briar. And then it was gone, to my disappointment. Why disappointment? Because not liking something is not quite the same as not respecting it. In my mind, Black Cashmere had been branded as rare and unique, a perception probably helped along to a certain extent by its relative exclusivity, but nevertheless not illusory in its entirety. Black Cashmere was unique – indeed, it smelled like very few other things did at the time.

Smelling the re-released version now, I have trouble deciding whether the fragrance has changed radically, or whether it is my tastes that have changed instead. For Black Cashmere no longer evokes the dramatic reaction it once did. Whatever the case might be, it is still unique and edgy. It still is a controversial scent that challenges the notion of what an attractive personal scent is. The opening creates an illusion of dark leather, lovingly presenting a dominant, delectable, saffron note. As the top notes lift, the body of the perfume is sketched with feather light strokes, like a phantom: cinnamic and camphorous, a combination that gives the scent a rather medicinal vibe. Through a quickly dissipating cloud of smoke, comes a heavy, burnt rubber accord (constructed primarily out of excellent quality cedar)– a central aspect of Black Cashmere’s heart. Although it can appear slightly jarring and overly strange at first, it quickly mellows and shifts into the background, acting like the canvas upon which the rest of the notes are painted. The barely-there scent of clove is enfolded in the softest cinnamon hug, providing a soft, cuddly, comforting element to the already warm composition. The lovely scent of creamy, sweet sandalwood wafts in and out, caressing the harsh edges of cedar and snaking around the waxy, resinous scent of wenge. The drydown is beautiful, a coming together of dry patchouli, cedar and sandalwood, with amplified sweetness and a lasting impression of pure, sweet beeswax. Really, really lovely.

Images: and

Friday, January 16, 2009

Chaos by Donna Karan : Perfume Review

Back in August, Fragrance Bouquet reported the re-launch of several classic discontinued Donna Karan scents, with understandable excitement. I have to admit that even as I was writing about the re-launch, I feared that we might never actually see these scents “in the flesh” so to speak here in Europe, but thankfully, my fears were unfounded. A few months ago, the collection made its way to select beauty stores here in the Netherlands. It is high time these beauties get some more attention from me (as they so rightly deserve), so starting today and going into the next week, I’ll be exploring Chaos, Black Cashmere and Signature.

Having tested Chaos a number of times, I still cannot decide whether the name is deceptive or spot on. It starts out with the unquestionably calming scent of chamomile, which gives the skin a lovely kiss and cuddle and then disappears, fleetingly, as the beautiful blend of ever so slightly camphorous lavender and spicy coriander close in on it, eating it up with the satisfying sound of velvet rubbing against velvet. The slightly iodine, bitter-sweet aroma of saffron, mingles with delightfully pleasurable, tingling hints of clove and cardamom. It feels like the spicy mélange is rising over a spiky bed of waxy, deep smelling resins and smoke. I find the use of clove especially striking: moderation and care has been exercised, to keep what can be a very dominant note complimentary, never actually overshadowing the beauty of the other notes. The big surprise is that the undercurrent of very dark, thistly resinous edges gradually subsides and softens up over time , instead of intensifying. The scent goes from being compellingly mysterious and borderline esoteric in nature, to a sweet woody scent that aches for the scent of skin. Through darkness comes light, in the form of a soapy note that is inherently masculine, like a well scrubbed (albeit subtly virile) hairy chest. The spices become ever more unobtrusive but still manage to cast a bluish-red shadow over the cleanliness that tries so hard to emerge. Beautifully, everything is rounded off by a very smooth sandalwood note that persists and carries the scent into the drydown with hints of musk and soft balsamic nuances.

Chaos feels very personal despite all its heady ingredients. It starts with a cuddle, roars wildly at the heart, but quickly quiets down into a beautiful, enfolding purr that remains rather close to the skin as the day wears on. But when I refer to it as a personal scent I do not only allude to its moderate to low sillage: Chaos is also a scent that seems to blend very well with the wearer, allowing itself to be worn like a second skin, instead of like an extravagant, attention grabbing accessory. A very warm, comforting scent, I would definitely reserve for the colder days of the year and retire it as spring approaches. It has an addictive quality that will appeal to both sexes, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I detect a definite masculine edge to it.

Image: Image of saffron,

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fragrance Bouquet Loves… Anti-Oxidant Water Booster by Dr. Brandt

Those “in the know”, know that there are only a handful of things that really make a difference in any anti-aging regime. Number one is of course sun protection, winter or summer, outdoors or indoors. Number two is a retinoid treatment, the only thing powerful enough to radically change skin appearance and improve cell turnover and actually increase collagen levels. Number three are anti-oxidants, which by fighting free radicals not only help to keep the body healthy, but also help keep the skin youthful since they protect the cells and collagen from free radical damage. Free radical damage occurs daily, due to sun exposure, smoking (or second hand smoke), pollution, alcohol and stress.

Always interested in what more I can do for my skin, I discovered Dr. Brandt’s Anti-Oxidant Water Booster last spring and have been taking it since. Especially since I do apply a retin-A cream during the winter months, there is no room for an anti-oxidant skin serum, and this helps me treat my skin to anti-oxidants without having to add an extra step in my cream routine (besides, I do believe it is best to feed the skin both from inside, as well as outside). Dr. Brandt’s Water Booster comes in five flavors (original, lemon, green apple, bluberry and pomegranate), all of which claim to be delicious. Well… I wouldn’t go that far! So far, I have tried the original flavor, which tastes very herbal and is quite pleasant, the pomegranate, which is very tangy and the blueberry, which is definitely my favorite, being quite tasty and the one I keep repurchasing. Delicious, none of them might be, but this is definitely a product I believe in and would continue taking even if it tasted unbearable. Thankfully, I am quite happy with the blueberry, so no need for drama.

The water booster is all natural, sugar free, caffeine-free, calorie-free and contains (from Dr. Brandt’s website):

grapeseed extract (vitis vinifera): protects collagen and elastin, for firm skin.
green tea (camellia sinensis): anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant that boosts sunscreen's ability to protect against free radical damage. green tea has been clinically proven to prevent cellular damage caused by exposure to UV rays.
lo han: patented extract from the fruit (member of the squash family) helps reduce cravings for sugar. known as the longevity fruit.
white tea (camellia sinesis): potent anti-oxidant that helps protect skin against free radical damage.

In addition to these, my bottle also lists Lotus Extract (leaf) and Blueberry Extract (juice).

Certain study results have also indicated that green tea might assist weight loss efforts by increasing the body’s metabolic rate. So in addition to helping keep your skin smooth, supple and elastic, this dietary supplement might also help you lose weight. Considering the amount of brewed green tea you’d need to drink to replicate the study results would actually also result in very high doses of caffeine, Dr. Brandt’s Water Booster is a wonderful alternative, since it is caffeine-free.

The recommended dosage is one to two full droppers a day, each taken with a cup of water. One dropper is the equivalent of 15 cups of green tea and the bottle contains 60 servings, which means that if you take two full droppers per day (like I do), the bottle will last for a month.

Lastly, I am very happy to announce for the benefit of my Dutch readers, that even though the water booster was so far pretty much only available from Skins in Amsterdam, the product is now being sold at all Douglas boutiques that carry Dr. Brandt products, making all of our lives easier! The wonderful ladies at Douglas also offer a glass of booster-infused water to interested customers that are not sure which flavor to choose or are dubious about whether they will like the taste or not.

Fragrance Bouquet is not affiliated with Dr. Brandt, Douglas or Skins.

Note: Please consult your doctor before you take this supplement if you are pregnant or suffer from thyroid problems.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dans Tes Bras by Frederic Malle : Perfume Review

Dans Tes Bras (meaning “In Your Arms”) has been a notoriously difficult perfume to review. In fact, I’ve been lugging the carded sample with me for more than a month, first in a handbag, waiting for that opportune moment when I’d sit quietly at a café to take notes, then later –when that did not work- in a resealable bag in which it travelled with me to Greece and then back. The surprising bit comes here: it was not lack of time that had me tongue-tied, but the perfume itself. Double the surprise when you consider this is not just the newest Malle, but also a violet scent, violet being a note which I absolutely love. So what was the problem? To my horror, Dans Tes Bras actually made me nauseous the first couple of times I tried it. To my nose it smelled improbably synthetic, to the point that I actually had to scrub it off. After taking a little break from it, I tested it again, only to discover that… it simply bored me. While this is by no stretch of the imagination an objective take on the perfume itself (and perhaps it is not even fair), as I’ve mentioned before, I am growing quite tired of the violet/iris fashion that has been sweeping the perfume world like a forest fire during a particularly windy summer. Having said that, this obviously would not have been an issue had this been the most exciting violet I’d smelled in ages. Unfortunately it is not. (Perhaps Stephen Jones for CdG will manage to claim that spot if I ever get the chance to sniff it!)

After another little break, however, I’ve managed to actually warm up to Dans Tes Bras. Maybe it’s the fact that I am studying a book on Philosophy of Science at the moment, which actually tends to be even more boring than Dans Tes Bras' particular brand of violets. All jokes aside though, this is not a bad perfume. Dans Tes Bras promises to deliver “The deep and lasting odor of warm skin, with all its salty hints and rich overtones.”. The disappointing bit is that it smells nothing like skin. Still, we can rejoice for the inclusion of savory hints in the opening: The scent unfolds with the tingling saltiness of salmiac candy over a soft iris scent, before the sweet scent of violets kicks in. Right at the heart, the scent turns bizarrely mushroomy. Think fresh, earthy, uncooked mushrooms with a hint of (now you’re gonna get scared) metallic blood . The best approximation would be to imagine adding a few drops of Etat Libre d’Orange’s Secretions Magnifique on a bed of transparent, sweet violets. The rocky stage of slightly metallic, earthy mushrooms passes quite slowly, but patience will be rewarded when the fragrance makes yet another transition into a stage that smells purely of daintily sweet violets and something herbal, or vaguely minty. For me, this is the most interesting stage indeed, as I keep catching myself trying to place the slightly dissonant, fresh, almost medicinal note. The drydown is all earthy, pale violets and tends to be comforting enough to make me contemplate reapplying.

Talk of mushrooms, blood, earth and minty hints, just might make this perfume sound far more interesting and captivating than it really is, especially if I also add that Dans Tes Bras never smells quite the same, but tends to appear subtly different with every application. It has to be said however, that despite all those little things that make it interesting and different, the overwhelming impression it leaves me with, is that of a common violet.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Hello everyone... Even though I don't have a fever, I've caught a nasty cold with stuffy nose and achy body. Yay, the first cold of the year :/ All I've wanted to do since Monday night is lie in bed, so there'll be no post today. If I am able to smell again by Friday, expect a review of FM's Dans Tes Bras, and if the nose still refuses to work I'll be here anyway with a Fragrance Bouquet Loves... feature.

PS: I hate airplane recycled air.
Did you know 1 in 5 people comes out of the airplane sick?
Did you know airplane air used to be cleaner when smoking was allowed on planes due to the fact that they had to bring in clean air all the time instead of recycling it over and over again?
Yeah, I'm pissed...
/end rant...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Armani Onde (Mystere, Vertige, Extase) by Giorgio Armani : Perfume Reviews

Happy New Year, lovely Fragrance Bouquet readers! I am back from Greece -with a rather heavy heart I might add, but the sun is shining here today and a trio of samples that has been in my bag since I left is now finally ready for review. (There’s much to be said for good intentions, since I was actually planning to review those while in Greece, but blame my family and friends for completely distracting me with fabulous plans each and every day) The aforementioned trio is Armani’s Onde, and if you’ve been seduced by pictures of the lovely flacons I’ll just have to reinforce your infatuation by affirming that the presentations are even lovelier in real life. Heavy, expressively textured glass in beautiful colors, simple but luxurious stoppers and decadent tassles pack a extra-generous dose of old-world charm I can’t help but find irresistible. The scents themselves are meant to take us on journeys to the east, with Mystère representing Middle East, Vertige India and Extase Japan. All this might lead one to deduce that the fragrances will be rich, opulent orientals, but Armani seems to be reinterpreting not only these very special places, but a whole genre itself. These are new, modern Orientals, feather light and transparent. Being a great fan of rich, spicy elixirs myself, I did find myself slightly ambivalent about my feelings on this at first. However, after some thought and several testing sessions with the three neo-orientals, I find myself rather taken by them, as well as their daring defiance against preconceived notions.

Mystère: Opening with a soft veil of transparent woods (the lightest of light vetiver hints bathing in gossamer sandalwood) Mystère quickly turns into a fluffy, frothy as a spring cloud interpretation of turkish delight. Rosewater infused soft candy, with a sprinkling of sugar and almonds, this is the softest, most innocent interpretation of the by now quite popular theme. Those of you that find Lutens’ and By Kilian’s (just to name a few) versions too heavy, cloying or sweet, but still wish you could indulge in the treat, will probably fall for this charming perfume. Its sweetness is very much subdued, and hints of powder make this boudoir-ish. However, it is still a very innocent perfume. The ad-copy might speak of harem girls, but in reality it is more about satin baby-dolls and fluffy maraboo slippers than eyeliner and veils. In one word, I’d describe it as angelic. It’s very, very easy to fall in love with, and its soft kiss does definitely stirr the heart and soul. However, those looking for a potent sillage had better look elsewhere: Staying close to the skin, this will only be detected by yourself and those lucky enough to find themselves in your embrace. The drydown is soft, delicious, slightly sweet and resinous vetiver.

Vertige: The opening is green and slightly resinous, with the characteristic, nectareous, slightly citrucy honeyed scent of pittosporum. Stronger than Mystère, Vertige has a delectable, sophisticated 80s vibe, smelling exquisitely italian and exuberant, reeking power and style through flowers. After a wave of bright, shining jasmine, Vertige exposes us to a glorious frangipani scent that is fruity, exotic and colorful. Lovers of the note are likely to (like me) find themselves repeatedly sniffing their perfumed skin to get another hit of the beautiful fragrance. Despite being ultra-feminine for most of its development, Vertige hides a stretch of dark velvet in its woody drydown which is rather addictive and mysterious, but also rather strange and surprising, due to a sharp, masculine touch that flows in and out of consciousness and manages to catch me unaware each and every time.

Extase: Even if you don’t normally like sweet fragrances, Extase is most definitely worth a sniff, because you just might fall in love with this one: Its lovely sweetness is childlike, exquisite and endearing. Even though it is not strictly linear, it changes very slightly with the passing of time, retaining its main characteristics intact. The heaviest of the trio, after the initial burst of smile-inducing, playful sweetness, Extase grows heavier, imbuing the wearer with the scent of rich florals, most prominently narcissus and mimosa. I normally shy away from fragrances heavy on mimosa as they can come across quite cloying (even headache inducing) to me, but this one somehow manages to get the balance right. Even though mimosa is instantly recognizable in all its old-fashioned, rather powdery, grande-damme glory, it somehow manages to refrain from stealing all the limelight. Instead, it allows the other nuances of the fragrance to show through: a candied violet note, a very original, nutty, roasted sesame note, a good dose of cedar, musk. Having said all that, this is probably my least favorite fragrance of the trio, not least due to its apparent lack of elegance.