Monday, February 23, 2009

Impromptu Trip

Hi guys! I feel totally guilty for the lack of posts the last few days but I went for a quick trip to Greece again. Six days only this time, but enough to tie some loose ends I needed to. I'll be returning home tomorrow and there will be a new post on Wednesday.

Kiss you!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Mi Fa by Reminiscence : Perfume Review

Brand identity is a valued concept in today’s market, however sometimes with our in-built motif seeking and pattern recognition capacity we manage to classify and even pigeonhole brands in ways they doubtlessly never intended to be defined. I’ve hardly ever been exposed to any marketing efforts by Reminiscence, but even so, the brand has been irreversibly connected in my mind with a number of images, ideas and concepts. For first, it is a line that is truly niche, continuing to fly under the radar even while it is being offered through big stores such as Douglas. Secondly, it is a line that seems to keep doing its own thing, with utter disregard for what is currently on trend, rendering it slightly bohemian. Further, it is a line that is very clearly youth orientated: the bottles leave no doubt in one’s mind on the issue of the target audience, but a visit to any one of their psychedelically cute boutiques can speedily close the case with overwhelming evidence. Finally, and perhaps most characteristically, Reminiscence is a line charmingly catering to the neo-hippie: the gorgeous, modern, flighty and unconventional hippie muse, folksy and favoring flats over heels, she is a novel translation of the 60’s-70’s model updated for our age.

For me personally, there is one last defining characteristic, harder to pin down and this time pertaining to smell: Reminiscence perfumes all feature a disturbance, a dissonant note or accord that manages to perturb me while at the same time keeps me with my nose glued to my wrist, my interest piqued beyond logic, even while I am bothered. Mi Fa is no exception to this rule. Belonging to a series of perfumes all named after musical notes (the rest of the perfumes in the series are named Do Re, Sol La, Si Do, while the series itself is collectively called “Les Notes Gourmands”) with all of them exploring the gourmand theme, Mi Fa delights even as it disturbs in equal measure. The opening is full of neroli and mandarin zest, with the former being very realistic and the latter juicy sweet and lacking in freshness. Quite heavy, the neroli note does not fly away, but instead remains, as the main theme of the fragrance –namely a delicious, soft, puffy note of marshmallow develops. Candied and sweet, the marshmallow heart smells exactly like the moment you open a bag full of the soft treats and find yourself surrounded by the sugary cloud. Belatedly, fresh notes kick in the background, tampering the sweetness and adding the slightest touch of masculinity: rosemary and lavender, with the merest undercurrent of something marine. Further down the road the gourmand character of Mi Fa intensifies as the aroma of nuts becomes ever more prevalent. I smell the officially listed almond (very marzipan like), but also roasted pistachio. Creamy sweet vanilla joins in the chorus loudly and proudly, underscored by heliotrope with cerise aspects and warm musk. Mi Fa lasts simply forever and remains rather unchanging after having reached this stage until the drydown, many, many hours later (in fact you will probably wake up with it the next day). The drydown is a faint gourmand shadow of cherries and vanilla.

So what is the odd note out? In this case I am sure it will come as a surprise, but it is in fact the neroli, strong and distracting from the fluffy character the rest of the notes present. It does however add something valuable to this gourmand/oriental: It makes it highly appropriate for summer, with its cheerful sunny disposition. Mi Fa is described as childish and mischievous on the official website and I can’t overstate how true this description is. In fact, before ever taking a peak at the website, my very first thought upon smelling the perfume was how childish it was. I find this absolutely delightful: This is definitely a feel-good perfume, with the power to lift mood and spirits. It does bring a smile to my face every time I wear it, and it makes life’s troubles seem not quite so heavy after all. Even though this is a sweet gourmand, it is not heavy or cloying. It has this amazing ‘whipped’ character, this frothy, soft as clouds lightness that rests on the skin like sparkling dusting sugar. Gourmand lovers will rejoice in being able to wear this beautiful fragrance in any weather, hot or cold.

Images: Joss Stone, the neo-hippie poster child. Les Notes Gourmands collection and the Mi Fa bottle, both sourced from

Friday, February 13, 2009

Forget me Not: Scherrer 1 and Scherrer 2 by Jean-Louis Scherrer (Part 2)

In this extra large, double Forget me Not feature, we travelled back in time to see the rise and fall of a largely forgotten fashion name, and my own personal history with the house’s signature scent. The house of Scherrer has managed to produce a perfume in every single decade since the launch of its signature scent. Today, in Part 2, we explore Scherrer’s first two perfumes, Scherrer 1 and 2 – the former, a bold chypre, the latter a cuddly oriental.

Scherrer 1: Instantly recognizable from its opening notes as a grand perfume with unmistakable Parisian flair, Jean-Louis Scherrer is, in my opinion, one of the best chypres ever made. Drenched in bergamot up top, Scherrer starts its journey sunny and bright but quickly starts singing a slightly melancholy romantic tune when the gorgeous hyacinth note is revealed. Bittersweet, delicate and hardy at once, the wonderfully erotic floral note is the perfect introduction to all that is to follow: immense attraction with that “Dare you come closer?” attitude all great chypres share. Scherrer is not shy or timid, and its intentions are clear from the very beginning. Expertly crafted to continuously underscore its animalic appeal from top to bottom, it features ‘stinky’ notes in every single stage: Cassis, with its distinctive, catty, urinous character up top, indolic jasmine and gardenia in the heart, and a glorious civet and musk combo in the base. We have a beautiful continuity thus, spelling brazen sex-appeal from the first moment of the application to the very last faded shadow in the drydown. But if the core, the skeleton of this perfume is wanton, sexy and desperate to relinquish heart, soul and trembling body to the hands of the object of its affection, so is its frame made of harder stuff, fleshed out by a holy, strict constitution of austere, disciplined greens, that look down at anyone who might make a wrong move with an exacting stare that’ll spare no one but the very best. We have unity then, but we also have contradiction: Warm gorgeous carnation and spicy rose for experience and sex appeal; lush gardenia, for the lover who discounts all cautionary tales. But then the classic chypre structure, with powerful oakmoss and green labdanum dominantly keeping everything in check. Scherrer is a beast in a forest, ravaged by passion yet always restrained by the rules, the smells of its home: Lichen, moss, earth, greens, wood. Like Paloma Picasso and the grand lady Cabochard, Jean-Louis Scherrer leaves victims in its wake, having the power to choose the most powerful gladiator. It can be worn as armor, it can be worn for warmth, like a fur coat whose scent it mimics to an extent, it can be worn as a weapon of seduction. Its beauty is the power and the unforgettable, intriguing confidence and animal magnetism it lends to the wearer.

Scherrer 2: Some beasts roar and some purr. This is definitely one of the latter variety. Created in 1986 and meant to capture the spirit of the Scherrer haute couture, Scherrer 2 has the marvelous ability to smell like a true child of its time and unbelievably contemporary at once. There are a few factors that stop this sweet oriental from smelling dated. For first, it is not a sillage monster like so many of its contemporaries. While it indeed has powerful projection and wearers are bound to leave a trail, unlike many of its contemporaries it will do so with enough modesty to not overwhelm everyone that comes in its path. In short, it ain’t vulgar. Secondly, it presents itself with fair, childlike candor and such girly innocence that it manages to completely remove itself from the powersuit associations of its decade. The opening features very fleeting bergamot notes and a touch of green over sweet, boozy aniseed. Very briefly, the scent turns fruity – plumy in fact, with a beautiful wine aspect and then it’s all about the honey. I am used to honey notes smelling sharp and acidic in modern perfumes, something I do not enjoy at all in fact, but if these same reasons have kept you away from honey scents, don’t let them stop you from sniffing this one. The honey note here is smooth and innocent, with beautiful floral hints wafting in and out. As has already been alluded, this might be a scent that makes honey its true focus, but it’s certainly a complex, multifaceted honey. There are hints of flowers: a very innocent jasmine and lily, most recognizable to my nose. There is soft, warm beeswax to be found in its depth, when sniffed closely. Most salient however, is the fact that this is not honey alone, but milk and honey together. Those of you that like me have had the comforting treat made for you while growing up will readily recognize the warm and peculiar, sweet combination. Once it reaches this stage, Scherrer 2 remains like this for hours, generously perfuming the body with the scent of honey and undergoing only minimal changes. With time it does become rather less innocent as the musk starts revealing itself and its sensual ambery base becomes stronger. At the end of the day the skin will smell of soft, powdery heliotrope, sandalwood and warm, soft amber.

Edit: It just struck me just now that Scherrer 2 is really going to appeal to Boudoir lovers. The two don't smell alike -aside from sharing in a prominent honeyed character- but something tells me this is going to be a winner for those who adore Westwood's love it or hate it gem.

Images: The images in this post belong to and the originals can be bought directly from the OKADI website.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Forget me Not: Scherrer 1 and Scherrer 2 by Jean-Louis Scherrer (Part 1)

The story of Scherrer is bittersweet and slightly flat: There are no moving meridians, no climax to the private drama of the once well-known couturier and no catharsis at the end of the story. Born in the 1930s, Jean-Louis Scherrer studied ballet and fashion in Paris and later went on to train under Christian Dior at the house of Dior, as well as Yves Saint Laurent when Dior died and the former was appointed director. In the beginning of the ‘60s, Scherrer founded his own label, originally located at the rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, and later at avenue Montaigne, where it can still be found today. One of the beauties of writing the Forget me Not feature pieces is remembering the signature creations and innovations that made the couturiers behind the perfumes famous. Scherrer himself however, has left no such legacies. Indeed, he was better known for reinterpreting trends, reforming them with a more conservative touch that would still allow for femininity and a certain sex-appeal. It was this skill that made Scherrer once rich and famous, as first ladies, queens and the crème de la crème of high society would flock to the house to be dressed in the latest fashions while still avoiding the vulgarity of any eyebrow-raising. Modesty, thus, as well as on-trend status brandishing that would never fail to remind admirers that the wearer was in possession of serious money, were the hallmarks of this brand. The late ‘80s and early ‘90s found the house in economic decline and tragically, Scherrer was fired from the house he had once founded. The troubled designer fought back in court, but only managed to receive a settlement, but no further use of his name. Two decades later, the house seems to have bounced back, with Haute Couture growing and reporting a great percentage of young clientele.

In 1979, Jean-Louis Scherrer launched his first, signature fragrance. According to the official website, Scherrer “hoped that it would be a perfume of quality and tradition” and he is cited describing it as “The passion of the moment. The eternal feminine.” To me, this perfume certainly has something of the eternal. It was the first chypre I loved, at an age when I didn’t know what a chypre was. Formative then, for it started a long love-affair with everything green, austere, feminine but at once forceful. A love affair that started at an age before I even started attending school and is still going strong. Forever connected to a particular person, Scherrer 1 will be my first perfume love, whose name I only learned years later, while never having forgotten its smell.

I was a little girl, and Scherrer was the signature perfume of my dear aunt. Always spending weekends at her house so I’d be playing with my cousin, I’d find myself quietly marveling at the ultra-sophisticated scent following the footsteps of the petite woman with the sparkling blue eyes and the bobbed hair, falling around her face in soft curls. She seemed so exotic to me; having grown up in Austria her perfect Greek had (and still does have) the most beautiful singing lilt and cheerful intonation of a running stream. Unlike most of the women I knew, she had the power to be both loving, nurturing and strict at once. You could not mess with her! And when she laughed, the clouds would part from the sun, a beautiful laugh so infectious and gorgeous it would lend sparkle and light to everything it reverberated from. And isn’t that just the most perfect description of a chypre? Something that is strict and forceful, as well as loving and warm? Something that has the power to lift your spirits to a heavenly place? Something whose hug means so much more, because it is never thoughtless but always meaningful?

I never learned the name of the beautiful perfume, up until two years ago. While out perfume sniffing with my mom, I handed her another chypre in surprise: “Oh my God… This takes me back… It smells exactly like Soula used to when I was little. I love it!” After sniffing the blotter, she looked at me stunned. “You’re right. How can you remember that? She wore it forever… but doesn’t any more. I’ll have to remember what it was called. She probably still has a bottle, you know. She keeps everything.” My mom did remember - it was Scherrer, a name I’d never heard of before. And aunt Soula did indeed have a bottle still. In fact, she had two, smelling as fresh as day, even though they were both half-empty. Determined, I decided to seek it out on my trip to Paris.

We already knew what was happening with oakmoss in 2007, so walking into the Scherrer boutique I felt apprehension, a terrible fear that my original chypre love would have been changed beyond recognition. The boutique was quiet and dark and rather sombre with its black granite and mirrored walls, a stark difference after the buzzing, bright, cheerful house of Dior on the other side of the street. I bypassed a lady fitting a dress and joined a member of the staff by an oval table. On it, all the Scherrer perfumes, together with a fresh bottle of the signature. A sigh of relief - it was still the same. Sweet perfume cloud, full of memories of a creature that wore it well. Better than anyone else could.
(To be continued…)

Images: Early days of the fashion house: Scherrer with his models –
Claudia Schiffer from a Scherrer fashion show -
A picture of Scherrer at one of his shows, the year he was fired –
The Scherrer boutique on avenue Montaigne

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Will Be Right Back...

Hi guys! I have a deadline for a rather huge paper which I've been slowly slaving over since the beginning of January, so I will be out for a week from today, returning with new posts on Wednesday the 11th. Look forward to a big double Forget Me Not Feature, as well as a series on perfumes that share a particular note as their dominant characteristic, including a giveaway for a delicious sample that's kind of hard to come across. Yup, all sorts of goodies coming up, so check back in a week's time. And wish me luck! This is the most hideous paper I've had to write... ever.