Friday, December 21, 2007

Wishes for the Holidays and a Few Perfumed Quotes

Good Morning!

Since I am leaving for my Christmas holidays this Sunday, this is the last post for the year 2007! I want to take the chance to wish you all, my wonderful, wonderful readers, to have beautiful holidays and a Happy New Year! Most importantly, I wish that all of us, together with our loved ones, enjoy good health this coming year. I will be back on the 3rd of January, to greet 2008 with you. Let’s make this coming new year fragrantly special, with even more reviews, even more samples, enjoyable features and many smelly facts! I decided to dedicate this post to the love of my life, darling P. Even though he is not really that interested in perfume, he loyally reads my blog (loving the Smelly Facts most of all), comments on my writing, offers his skin willingly whenever I wish to see how something works with male chemistry, and obediently sniffs everything I put under his nose, even when he is bored as hell. To my amazement, he is growing fonder and fonder of these little sniffing sessions and his comments are becoming more sophisticated every day. So please indulge me and allow me to close this fragrant year with a few of his comments on perfume, comments that amazed me and made me laugh at the same time. I hope you find them as delightful (and funny) as I did!

“It smells like gold.” (enter shocked looked from moi) “No really, I smell it and I visualize gold...pure luxury. It’s sooooo lovely!”
- Darling P. on Shalimar

“Oh my god! It smells so strange...and sexy at the same time! ...You know what this smells like? It smells like a zoo enclosure! Like when you walk in front of the enclosure, and you know that somewhere in the back, there is some poo? You can’t see it, but you know it’s there, nevertheless. It’s sort of bad...but I like it! I like it a lot, actually! Yes, it’s the zoo...”
- D.P. on my own blend of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Ancient Air, Egyptian Musk and Civet. (yeah, I seriously have to make a big decant of the stuff)

Me: “I can’t smell this! I can’t smell it at all!” (frustrated) “Can YOU smell it?”
D.P: “ I can’t smell a thing. Wait.. very faintly - it’s slightly soapy.”
Me: (even more frustrated) “Yes, I smell something faint as well, but I can’t even tell if it’s my own skin or not!!”
And then came the shock:
DP: “Give it back!” (sniffing my arm wildly) “I can’t smell anything...but I want to roll around in it! It has something.. I want to be covered with the stuff!”

- D.P. on Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s Ambergris 7

And I say again... What?

May your holidays be filled with love!



Image: Flickr, originally uploaded by The Wandering Angel

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Shopping in Den Haag?

I am trying to get all my Christmas shopping done as fast as possible before I leave for Greece where I am going to spend the holidays and it is proving quite a task! I have left the gift shopping for far too late this year, due to my having a terrible cold and an extremely busy university schedulle and now I am forced to rush rush rush! I did find some time to go to Den Haag yesterday though, and I wanted to talk about a couple of finds:

Did you know that Vivienne Westwood's Let it Rock is already here? I'd been looking for it for a while and yesterday I saw it for the first time. It is fa-bu-lous! Definitely something I want to review in January. If you haven't tried it yet, go on, treat yourself to a spritz, you won't regret it! The official notes I've seen do not match the wonderful, incens-y impression my single testing gave me, so I can't wait to try it again and see. The drydown was gorgeous amber with animalic hints - I found it deeply intriguing! I saw this at the Bijenkorf. Next to it, to my surprise, some of the discontinued Libertine was restocked, along with a tester. If you haven't smelled this before or if you're lusting for a backup bottle, now seems to be the chance to get one! But my best find yesterday was surely Balenciaga's rarely seen Le Dix, a sophisticated aleldehydic-floral. At 12 euro per 30ml, a trip to the Bijenkorf is in order!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Forget me Not: Private Collection by Estée Lauder

Private Collection was created in 1973 and was allegedly Estée Lauder’s signature fragrance, a scent that became synonymous with the image of good taste she projected throughout her life. The story goes that before this fragrance was made accessible to the general public, it was only available to three women: Lauder herself, Princess Grace of Monaco and Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor. Allegedly, Lauder gifted these remarkable women the exclusive privilege to this perfume because they loved it so much.

My personal love affair with this perfume started when, still very young, I smelled it on a friend of my mother’s, and experiencing complete and utter wonderment, I was left with no choice but to fall under its spell. I wish I could remember who the mystery woman was, but I cannot. Private Collection has completely eclipsed her presence, her features, her name. Only it remains, a bright beacon in the dark alleyways of long lost memories. I remember thinking that it was the most unique perfume I’d ever smelled – a perfume, but not a perfume, an extension of one’s personality, a stamp of character, something I could not quite touch. It smelled like nothing I’d ever smelled before. I feel a little shaken thinking how wildly unbelievable it is that I feel the same to this day. Private Collection stands alone, as inexplicably unique today as it was then. At 16, I finally felt adult enough to buy myself a bottle of what I then considered to be the most exquisite perfume ever made. It seemed inordinately expensive to my young self (well, in all honesty, it was inordinately expensive back then, if only by comparison) and I was only able to afford the tiny 30ml EdP. Both the price and the age I chose to buy it seem laughable in retrospect. While I hate to put age labels on any kind of perfume, Private Collection is one of the few exceptions. I don’t know what convinced me that I could pull it off at 16. This should not be worn by anyone that is not at the very least in their 20s! Even now, my mind screams that this last sentence should read “no one under 30” instead, but I guess I can’t help but wish to retain the right to wear it. Or at least fool myself that I can.

I could tell you that Private Collection opens with the most wonderful autumnal chrysanthemums, studded with sparkling raindrops of a passing storm. Earthy and ever so slightly sour, they are as real as the ones I used to shun in our garden as a child, in favor of more visually impressive blooms, and miss so much now. I could tell you of the most unbelievable rendition of hyacinths and narcissi, how they merge with blossoms white of orange and jasmine, so seductive, they almost feel narcotic. I’d write about how ingeniously the linden blossoms start us on the path of green, enhanced as we go, first by traces of grass and sap of leaves and vines and then soon by the evergreen needles and deep galbanum. And yet all this would still manage to say nothing about what Private Collection really is. It is the woman whose hair is always in place. She is not sexy, or necessarily beautiful. She has presence, both evident from her structure, which is neither delicate nor frail and from her unwavering gaze, which is always demanding the best of everyone. She is understated luxury, old money and sophistication. She’ll look good when she’s old. She is, more than anything else really, detached. Few women manage to close the distance between this powerful fragrance and themselves in order to truly make it theirs. I know I haven’t, and suspect I never will. But that’s the beauty of a fragrance wardrobe. Private Collection can be used as a tool, on days and occasions when it is needed to project a certain image, a certain facet of ourselves. It will be there when we need to protect ourselves under a shield or numb the pain. It will be there when we need to keep our distance and it will force us to stand tall when we need to impress. The rest of the time we’ll be giving in to our vices and passions.

Don’t forget to check Tamara’s entry!

Images: (Grace Kelly, Lauder with customer, Chrysanthemums)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pure Purple by Hugo Boss : Perfume Review

I am finally feeling better (I finally managed to wear perfume last night after what seemed like an eon). Normally I am rather careful when my stomach feels as fragile as it still does, and only choose to wear things I am certain I can live with for the rest of the day, but curiosity got the better of me this morning. My little sample of Hugo Pure Purple has been staring at me for a couple of weeks now, willing me to try it. I am always attracted by the Boss advertising campaigns, but never have as much luck with the fragrances, I fear. I hoped that this time things would be different, I was prepared to love this – the notes seemed rather charming to me. I am gonna go ahead, kill the suspense, and tell you right away though, I didn’t. I don’t suppose you look surprised. Neither do I, I guess ... but hope is always nastily bruised when it tumbles down.

The opening of Pure Purple is very candied and fruity – it feels like a little party broke out at the confectionary department. The competition dies down fast: a hit of cherries and bitter almond triumphantly emerge. Not my cup of tea, but a good enough, respectable opening. After the initial gourmand kick, a floral bouquet opens up, slowly muting the almond, while the cherries die a quick and painless death. I cannot pick out any individual flowers – I almost don’t dare to say it, but this feels like a floral soup that is there to give a floral ambience, without quite committing to showcasing the nuances of any single bloom. Are they really there? It feels like an elusive strawberry food flavoring...There, recognizable, but not quite real. It doesn’t sparkle, it fails to bloom, it can’t escape its single-dimensionality. What I do manage to smell clearly though, is an underlying woody base with a hint of dangerous masculinity – which is just about the only interesting part of this perfume. The development is altogether too rapid and soon the floral bouquet finds itself overwhelmed by the woods. Still, this is not the type of woody blend I personally like: it is altogether too thick and not particularly evocative of anything. A hint of patch? A touch of sandal? A certain creaminess? Was all this thrown together and mixed with a stick? It feels like it. I, it turn, feel like shrugging... And that, possibly, says it all. This ain’t a scrubber...It doesn’t even have enough character to make me nauseous, it seems, even though the effort is admittedly valiant. I usually double over when assaulted by such a dense blend of woody notes and the peculiarity of the mild, bothersome sweetness throughout should have made this an even more likely reaction, but no, I still just shrugged it off. Unfortunately, my non-reaction is not the worst thing I can report about Pure Purple. No, the worst part is actually the fact that this does not even smell like a perfume to me... It smells like a shower gel! You know the ones: middle range drugstore shower gel, touted as using the qualities of this or that essential oil to relax you or help you reconnect with your sensual side. They usually do nothing of the sort, but they are pleasant enough and strong enough to have the feel of being infused with essential oils. In fact the closest reminder is Palmolive’s Aromatherapy Anti-Stress Shower Gel. So strongly I was reminded of it in fact, that I had to rush upstairs for a side-by-side comparison. Disappointingly, they are not as close as my initial instinct indicated, but close enough, at least in feel. There is a definite kinship there; they share the same feel, if that makes any sense. And that is what I get from Pure Purple in a few words: the scent of a powerfully scented shower gel in spray format. It feels hastily thrown together – a thoughtless composition that is rather murky and lacks any sophistication whatsoever. To be fair though, I’ll have to grudgingly admit that the drydown is surprisingly good. It is not stellar or unique, but it is intensely comforting: A very feminine, dusty oriental that has the feel of a skin-scent with a hint of powder. It is warm and alluring and the murkiness finally lifts, to reveal clean, sensual skin underneath. Very wintry and rather sexy, like something you’d wear when you know your lover is soon going to nuzzle your neck. (Not too soon though, give the damned soup some time to calm down, alright?)

Lastly...Can we deal with the bottle for a second? Why is it practically identical to Lancome’s Hypnose Eau Légère?


Monday, December 10, 2007

Smelly Facts: Making a Good Impression

Smelling pleasantly can certainly improve the chances of being positively evaluated – for example a pleasant smelling man will be perceived as more attractive than an unpleasant smelling one, as the experiment presented in a previous Smelly Facts post a few weeks ago demonstrated. But making a good impression does not just depend on how attractive we look. The pitch of our voice, our style of dress, what we say, and importantly, how we act all play a role in the way others perceive us. Recent research provides evidence that perfume might have the power to affect not only how attractive others perceive us as being, but also to improve the overall impression we make by affecting the way we actually act. The study dealt with non-verbal cues that affect interpersonal relations. Such cues can be either positive (smiling, maintaining eye-contact), or negative – in which case they are commonly termed as “Nonsymbolic Movement”. The non-verbal behaviors that fall under this category are generally seen as being evident of a self-denigrating posture, such as anxiety, tension and embarrassment (Harrigan, 1988, LeCompte, 1981). Examples of Nonsymbolic Movement include self-touching, such as touching the hair or nose, or shifting posture, such as crossing one’s legs while talking. Frequent Nonsymbolic Movement can, presumably, project a negative image. A study by Higuchi et al. in 2005, demonstrated that neutral observers of two groups of women (one group wearing perfume and one group not wearing perfume) found that the perfume-wearing group showed significantly less Nonsymbolic Movement. The observers also rated the perfume wearing group as much more self-confident. The researchers speculate that these effects occur either due to the fact that the pleasant smell of the perfume has a positive effect on the mood of the wearer, or due to its making the wearer more “self-conscious” in the social context.

Notes: The observers were blind to the state of the women they were observing, that is, they were not informed which of the women they were observing were wearing perfume and which were not. The participants were Japanese and the perfume used in the experiment was Shisheido’s ‘‘Breath Garden–Tenderness Time’’.

References: Higuchi et al., 2005

Image: Originally uploaded by Brokenchopstick on Flickr

Friday, December 7, 2007


I am usually afraid of getting a nose cold that will prevent me from reviewing perfume, but it is actually a stomach flu that is keeping me away right now. For the last couple of days I haven't even been able to wear any perfume which says enough I think about how my stomach is feeling. *sigh*

Back on Monday.

Wishing you all a fabulous weekend,


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Dior Homme by Dior : Perfume Review

“Mmmmm, oooooooh, my!” all I can think, again and again every time I smell Dior Homme. How can something be so beautiful? This perfume has cast a spell on me: I am ready to make the wildly unrealistic proclamation that this is the classiest male fragrance I have ever smelled, at the very least among the non-niche offerings. Several weekends in a row now, I’ve found myself in front of the admittedly limited (at least in comparison to the ones showcasing female fragrances) shelves of male fragrances at my local Douglas, testing male scents with my partner to find the perfect one for him. He is leaning towards Prada. As for me...there is no question: no matter how much I like what he is testing at the moment, the instant he puts Dior Homme on his skin I am ready to tell the world that I’ve found genius in a bottle. The rest simply seem to pale in comparison: once Dior Homme makes an appearance, the rest suddenly appear cheaper, lacking. It has one thing in such abundance, the rest seem to have none at all when put side by side. That thing, is class.

The iris starts out buttery, almost solid, I want to take it all in, devour it. I do not get tired of inhaling it, I do not find myself wanting to take a step back to enjoy the scent from a distance...No, I want to stay there, nose pressed against the skin, sniffing wildly like an animal, lest I miss a precious molecule that might fly off unnoticed. Re-reading this last sentence I realize these are words I’d usually reserve for something intensely musky, that never fails to awaken a primal sexual desire... But Dior Homme isn’t even remotely dirty, nor does it try to be suggestive. It smells brave and lonely, hardy and fragile at once, like the edge of winter. The iris soon goes from buttery to strangely metallic: the sound effect of a well-whetted blade being drawn, a blade so sharp it would push into flesh with an ease that would ensure the victim felt no pain until it was far too late. The choice of words is not casual: there is an element of danger in this otherwise calm, collected...perhaps even calculated scent. Something of a breath, a last warm sigh amidst the wintry chill. Then everything softens with a quite unexpected sweetness – a thawed heart that manages to beat again, slowly, like a clock that counts every precious moment. Smelling it on the skin of a loved one, I get the irrepressible urge to cuddle, feeling rather protective. Smelling it on my own skin, this sudden, almost illusory warmth, speaks of cable knit sweaters and sheepskin lined boots. Each time this gorgeous scent enters another stage, I can’t help but feel a pang of regret, which is soon replaced by gladness, for I do enjoy everything it has to offer. The drydown is not an exception... I can’t help but feel disappointed as the already quiet scent loses intensity, as though dispersed in the winds. Yet soon I settle in, once again interested, once again intrigued. Readily, I take in its powdery feel, dry and woody, like a scratched bourbon vanilla pod. The merest hint of leather keeps my senses entranced, dispelling any thoughts that a powdery finish might veer into the realm of the mundane. To me, this is a masterpiece.

Images: and

Heliotrope Winner

The winner of last week's draw for the large spray sample of Piver's Heliotrope Blanc, was once again Parisa! Results attained with's list function.
Come back again later today for another perfume review.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Perfume for the Occasion: Traveling

It is December and the upcoming holiday season means that many of us will be traveling, either to be reunited with family and friends or to escape from the daily grind at some different locale, in hopes to recharge our batteries before the new year starts. This month’s Perfume for the Occasion then, appropriately focuses on travel and the special regulations regarding liquids on airplanes. I live in Europe and as such I will focus on the regulations either pertaining to traveling within the continent (mostly relevant to EU countries) or to countries complying with EU rules, such as Japan, Australia, Singapore, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, as well as to rules regarding flights originally departing from the EU for a destination outside the continent (such as the US, which is of most interest since it has the strictest rules). (for more on flights departing from the US, or traveling within the States, please visit For the Love of Perfume).

So, it seems traveling has long lost its sparkling veneer of luxury for good. That which used to carry the stamp of high-living and leisure many decades ago has now regressed to being an annoyance at best, but most often, I regret to say, something that the average traveler rightly dreads. As if the high cuts that have brought this industry to an era of decadence were not enough, the new security regulations are making flying a detestable experience. Entering an airport nowadays practically means giving up your human rights: allowing yourself to be subjected to abject rudeness, intimidated, manhandled, groped, grunted at, mistreated... until finally, after having relinquished every last drop of dignity to some vague, faceless oppressor, you may enter your plane, powerless, dazed and confused along with the rest of the cattle. I digress: the anger of the frequent traveler, you see. Alright then, back to the topic du jour. What about our favorite luxury, perfume? Are we still allowed to buy it at the duty free? May we still bring some of our own on board? Read on.

When it comes to your own fragrances that you want to bring with you while traveling, no restrictions apply to the amount of liquids that you can store in your check-in luggage. This also applies to travelers whose destination is the USA. Feel free to bring as many bottles of whatever quantity you wish, but for the sake of your clothes, shoes and of course your precious perfume, do bubble wrap them securely to ensure that they will arrive intact. Having said that, I personally hesitate to do this myself, especially with glass containers, as anyone who has looked outside the windows of a terminal to watch the personnel put luggage in the hull of a plane knows that this is not done in the gentlest of manner - quite the opposite in fact. It is a risk I am conscious of every time I pack perfume in my luggage.

What I do prefer doing instead is to decant perfumes in smaller containers and take those in my hand luggage. Certain restrictions apply to liquids carried in hand luggage: Everything must be stored in transparent, re-sealable bags, whose capacity does not exceed 1 liter (1000ml). You may carry up to five of those bags, but the contents of each cannot exceed 100 ml. That means, that if you have a perfume bottle that is more than 100 ml, you cannot carry it in one of those bags. You may carry several decants in each bag, provided that the total liquid volume does not exceed the 100 ml per bag. To clarify: You may carry up to 500 ml of liquids in your hand luggage, provided that it is placed in transparent re-sealable bags and provided that the contents of each bag do not exceed 100 ml each. It goes without saying that you do not need to decant the perfumes in separate containers as long as you do not exceed these limits. I mentioned decanting because it is a handy way to limit weight and to put one’s mind at ease that no matter what happens, the full bottle is safe at home! These rules apply everywhere in the EU, but both US citizens traveling back home and EU citizens either traveling to the USA or having a transit stop at the USA will have trouble when they reach the States. What does this mean? Let’s say you are a US citizen that visited, say, Paris, and bought some perfume. The re-sealable bag rules mentioned above will keep your perfume safe while in EU airports but NOT so once you reach US soil. When traveling to the US or when having to stop for transit at the US, you are only allowed to have one re-sealable bag in your hand luggage and the contents cannot exceed 3 ounces! (88 ml) The only thing you can do is put any perfume in your check-in luggage or limit yourself in order to comply with these regulations. If you have access to your check-in luggage during transit, you may follow EU regulations until you reach US soil and then put everything in your check-in luggage during transit, but I fail to see the reason why this footnote is even added to the rules, considering luggage is unloaded by certified personnel and immediately placed in the next aircraft. I suppose a disgruntled perfumista might raise enough hell to gain access to their luggage instead of seeing their favorite bottle being thrown in the trash right before their eyes, but not only is it unlikely, it would also probably mean missing a flight at best, or being detained at worst.

Buying perfume at airports is, fortunately, a much easier affair altogether. Liquids bought at airports are almost completely exempt from the restrictions! (Money talks...) For the countries complying with EU regulations (see first paragraph), things are easy. You can buy whatever quantity of liquid items you wish, without any problems as long as the products are sealed in tamper-evident bags. You need not worry about these bags, since all airport shops complying with the rules will do the sealing for you. This is the only restriction and of course, it goes without saying, you may not open these bags while you are still traveling. (if they have been opened, it means they have been ‘tampered’ with and are considered dangerous thereafter) These bags may be taken on board without any problems. If you are coming to the EU (or to an EU-regulation-compliant country) from an airport that does not comply with the rules and your purchases are not sealed in a tamper-evident bag, you are in danger of having your purchases confiscated. If you are bound to the US from Europe the above not apply. On non-stop flights bound for the US, the purchases will be allowed through the checkpoint, only if they meet US regulations. (for more information on those, please see Tamara’s entry) If you are bound for the US and have a connecting flight, duty free items will NOT be permitted through checkpoints. Your best bet is to ask for your luggage to NOT be checked-in automatically for the next flight and to pick them up in order to pack the products inside before you reach the next checkpoint to board the following flight. This is tricky, because if you have a short transit you run the risk of missing your next flight. I only advise this course of action if you have at least two hours between flights at your disposal.

Complicated, unpleasant, tiresome: just a few of the words that describe these rules. I wish all of us traveling during the holidays the strength and calmness needed to create a peaceful inner nirvana that will help us go through this ordeal relatively untouched. Let’s just keep the final destination and goal in mind, whether that is the warm hug that hopefully awaits us at the Arrivals Hall or the fabulous new-ness that will make us forget all about work and worries for a few days.

You ready for the holidays?
It’s all I can think about :)


Friday, November 30, 2007

Winner of Tigresse Sample


The winner of last week's Tigresse sample is Parisa! As usual, I used the list function found on to get a random winner result. Parisa, please email me with your details and I will be sending out your packet on Monday.



Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heliotrope : Two Sides of the Same Coin

Opinions seem to be split down the middle when it comes to heliotrope. Some love it and seek its warm, comforting scent, while others hate it with a passion, reporting aversive reactions to it. Rarely are there any indifferent comments to be found when it comes to heliotrope scents. But that is a good thing, isn’t it? Something that sparks such intense emotions, whether these belong to one side of the continuum or the other, is surely worth a second glance!

Heliotrope, otherwise known as tournesol or turnsole, derives its name from its tendency to move with the sun. The many varieties of this plant are popular with gardeners for their heavenly scent. Blooms are most often white or lavender colored, and yes, there is a difference in scent: The purple colored shrubs emit a fragrance most often reminiscent of almondy vanilla or cherry pie, while the ones that bloom in white emit a fragrance which has been likened to baby powder.

My two favorite heliotrope perfumes are Etro’s Heliotrope and L.T. Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc. They are very different, yet both are charming and well made. Etro’s Heliotrope is as straightforwardly close to what people have learned to expect from heliotrope scents as can be. The opening is intensely almondy, instantly reminiscent to me of the bitter-almond essence my mother used to flavor the dough of the traditional baked goodies she used to make for Christmas. The very recognizable, Play-Doh quality that most haters of heliotrope scents despise soon follows, I’m afraid, but for those of us that love the smell this is a good stage, bringing back pleasant memories of innocent childhood play. And true, Play-Doh is not what you want to smell of when you are all dressed up for an evening out... But what about the times when you just want to de-stress at home, or one of these hectic mornings we are all bound to have from time to time? I’ll admit that this youthful reminder has helped me shut the world out a number of times while rushing to do the day’s shopping in the crowded city streets. The drydown is just as wonderfully comforting, or perhaps even more so, with gourmand, cookie-like notes of vanilla that feel warm and tender, enveloping the skin in baked goodness. The only drawback of this scent for me is that lasting power is not its strongest point.

L.T. Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc is definitely my favorite of the two, and I must say, the huge price difference makes this all the more pleasant! Heliotrope Blanc’s almond opening is much creamier than Etro’s, lacking the bitterness of the latter. It feels more natural too: instead of almond essence, I am left envisioning picking a yet unripe almond straight from the tree, still in its velvety green casing. There is a lively freshness to it and a nutty flavor Etro’s offering lacks. Once warmed by the skin the fragrance becomes sweeter and it is this sweetness that I find so attractive. Its character remains soft and gentle however: this is a semi-transparent, loving sweetness that wishes to caress. It never becomes cloying or heavy. Heliotrope Blanc is also gently floral, but while the official notes report jasmine and ylang ylang, I am completely unable to pick them out. These are both heady scents and Heliotrope Blanc is anything but. Instead, its tender floral undertones seem to me just an accent, like a distant memory whose meaning is forgotten, while the emotions related to it remain, making the heart beat a little faster each time a piece of the image’s puzzle floats into consciousness. The drydown combines a baby soft, faintly talcumed effect with a delicate balsamic feel, making it at once comforting and rather sensuous at the same time. I am reviewing the Eau de Cologne, I have to say, but the lasting power is excellent. This is a fragrance that wears close to the skin, but will linger and surround the body for hours.

As always when I review a hard to find fragrance, I offer a sample of Piver’s Heliotrope Blanc to one of the readers. Let me know in a comment if you would like to be entered in a drawing for this large 3ml spray sample.

Images: Photo & Artistic interpretation of Sunflower by Sakis Alexiou, Image of Kourabiedes (the baked sweets I was talking about) and macaroons from Flickr – originally uploaded by l&coolj, image of Heliotrope Blanc bottle from

Monday, November 26, 2007

Smelly Facts: A Collection of Little Facts

Do we take our sense of smell for granted? Do we lament the fact that it is nowhere near as sensitive as that of many other animals? It is still pretty remarkable. A few random facts today to remind us how special our sense of smell is.

· “We can smell smoke at concentrations well below that needed to trigger even the most sensitive of household smoke detectors.”
· “We can distinguish among roughly 10.000 different chemicals by their smell.” (Axel, 1995)
· “Blind people regularly identify other individuals by each person’s unique odor, and sighted people can do that too when they try.” Where does our special, identifiable odor come from? “In humans, specialized scent-producing glands (apocrine glands) are concentrated most highly in the axillary region (underarms) and also exist in high concentrations in the genital area, the alveolar area (around the nipples), the navel area, on the top of the head, and on the forehead and cheeks.” (Stoddart, 1990)
· “Much, if not most of what we call the flavor of foods is actually smell, not taste.”
· “As we get older, our sense of smell declines. By age 65, about 25 percent of people have serious olfactory impairment, and by age 80 the number is 75 percent." (Doty et al., 1984)

Note: All of the above facts are direct quotes from Peter Gray’s Psychology, 4th Edition, Worth Publishers

Image of navel:

Friday, November 23, 2007

Tigresse by Nicole Lenzen & Yosh : Perfume Review

Tigresse is a bridal atelier (originally based in San Francisco, now relocated in New York) that specializes in custom-made bridal wear, evening gowns and accessories with a twist: The style is non-traditional, modern and innovative. About a month ago I emailed Nicole Lenzen, the founder and designer of Tigresse, asking for a sample of the homonymous Tigresse perfume, explaining that I wished to review it on my blog if I liked it. A couple of weeks later, a packet arrived at my house containing two tiny samples and the press release. I didn’t have to open the samples to know what the perfume smelled like: Even though the vials were intact, the lovely scent was so strong it had permeated everything. Even though the samples are tiny (a few drops in each) the sample I’ve opened has lasted me for several tests – the tinsiest of dabs will do!

Tigresse was created in collaboration with perfumer Yosh Han (Ginger Ciao, Kismet) and as is the case with all Yosh perfumes, contains no alcohol, just perfume oils and natural essences. This is one of the most beautiful, innovative, fruity-floral scents I’ve ever smelled. Yes, as you know I am not a big fan of the genre, yet this is one of the exceptions. There is no fake, plastic smell. There is no cheap undertone. This is not a light, agreeable little fragrance. There is no hint of the generic to be found here. You will have to forgive my lyricism: The opening of this fragrance truly smells like strong rays of sunlight bursting through the canopy of an exotic forest. Then the sun gets stronger, brighter. There is this sense of beautiful, clean warmth, like sun-warmed freshly washed hair. The fruity top notes are infused with the freshness of peppermint, and smelling close, the peppermint is feisty enough to actually free the nose and be felt on the back of the throat in the most refreshing manner. The dusty earthiness of pomegranate pulls everything together, bestowing a dry, tangy feel to the perfume. The heart of the fragrance is a most intoxicating lily scent, which if I am honest, smells to me more like a Japanese lily, with its strong, uncompromising scent, than a tiger lily. As time passes, Tigresse becomes more and more honeyed, without ever once stopping to bloom on the skin. If anything, it deepens, becomes more complex with the passage of time. It becomes –amazingly- the gorgeous, sweet scent of flower nectar, golden and lucid, like the precious drops hanging from a thousand stems gathered just for the sake of scenting one’s skin. This is what I love most about Tigresse, this sense of having found true, honeyed nectar, captured so beautifully I can practically feel its sweetness on my tongue, like a child, carefully pulling the stamen of a honeysuckle blossom and tasting the heavenly, precious droplet. If I had to choose only one word I could use to describe it, it would be vibrant. Everything about it seems brightly colored, three-dimensional and improbably real. It is as deeply exotic as the jungle and at once pure, like an unexplored beauty.

Official Notes: Pomegranate, Tiger Lily, Fig, Sweet Pea, Peppermint and White Ginger.

Since Nicole was kind enough to send me two samples, I want to offer one of them to you, my readers. Please let me know in a comment if you would like to be entered in the drawing. Results will be posted in a week’s time, next Friday.

Tigresse retails at 55$ for 15ml. and can be purchased at the Tigresse website, Luscious Cargo or alternatively at the Brown Eyed Girl Boutique in San Francisco.

Images: and

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Forget me Not: Antaeus by Chanel

When TMH of For the Love of Perfume and I came up with the idea for this feature a couple of months ago, we decided we had to find a name for it that would be neutral enough to allow us to write about both oldies we liked and disliked as well. Considering my feelings about Antaeus, I now find myself wondering whether Forget me Not is indeed neutral enough. Having said that, Antaeus should not be forgotten. Bare with him. He’s got tricks up his sleeve.

Created by Jacques Polge in 1981, Antaeus perfectly captures the spirit of a male powerhouse fragrance of the ‘80s. This potent brew, like so many of the decade’s creations, shamelessly advertises the wearer’s virility like an open declaration of blatant machismo. In fact, this juice is so strong, it easily evokes vivid mental imagery of a crazed male rubbing cologne on freshly showered chest hair in anticipation of ...what? Going out for a night of ‘pulling’? Does this ring any bells? Why yes, I think I’ve caught this scene before: Tom Selleck, in an advertizement for Revlon’s Chaz. I could not find it on YouTube, unfortunately, but the commercial is available on this site, third video on the right hand column.

Antaeus’ opening is briefly sharp and citrusy, but even during this initially fresh moment the animalic base is clearly perceptible. The slightly astringent, green coriander wilts under the pressure and then withers away into nothingness. I cannot possibly sniff too close to the skin soon after the fragrance is applied: doing so means nothing less than receiving a bold smack, or perhaps even a punch in the nose, which ends up delivering a mighty, stinging sensation behind my eyes. Had Antaeus been able to wear a drop of his namesake fragrance, surely he’d have had an advantage against Hercules. The heart of the fragrance is a slightly herbal, spicy rose, which keeps getting infused with the rising base notes. It is a rose wrapped in leather and oakmoss, and if it wasn’t for the distinct and very obvious...”maleness” of this fragrance I know this would be something I’d enjoy. If I close my eyes, I can, if only briefly, smell the inspiration behind it. I perceive this inspiration to be the hugely successful at the time, prickly, thorny, heavy as a paperweight dropped on the head, “here I come!”, female fragrances of the era. A surprising realization, considering Chanel never released such an obvious choice for women. The box does not mention oakmoss. Having said that, it is oakmoss that I smell so clearly at this perfume’s base. Oakmoss, labdanum and patchouli. How can this be? It is entirely possible of course that I am fooled, but I swear, after some point, this is all I can smell. Yes, the drydown of Antaeus is a definite leather chypre, to my nose at least, and this is its saving grace. A nasty, putrid opening, a far too strong, oppressing heart...But then, a beautiful reward in the end. I still wouldn’t be able to call this chic, or sophisticated. Its obviousness forbids me to venture that far. Yet, the thoughtful drydown does make up for the horror I suffer every time I test this on my skin. I cannot claim to like something so strong, so abrasive. But let me put it this way: Antaeus might seem like nothing more than one of many, many others initially. A little patience though, proves that he is actually, rather unique. A giant –much like the mythological being he owes his name to- that trod a road others still refuse to follow. And yes, if only for that, he deserves to be featured as part of Forget me Not.

Please also visit For the Love of Perfume to read TMH's pick for this month's Forget me Not.

Images: and

Monday, November 19, 2007

Slight Delay, Postponed till Tomorrow


Due to a ridiculous amount of studying in the weekend and a day filled with lectures today, I have to postpone today's feature, (Forget me not) until tomorrow. I am really sorry about this. Please check back tomorrow to find out what this month's oldie of choice is!


Friday, November 16, 2007

Smelly Facts: Odors & Perceived Attractiveness

Visual cues -such as symmetrical features- are of great importance when judging how attractive a face is. Sensory cues however (such as a person’s voice) also play a big role in whether a face will be perceived as attractive. (Demattè et al., 2007) Could the presence (or indeed absence) of certain smells affect the perceived attractiveness of a face as well? “Olfactory Cues Modulate Facial Attractiveness”, a recent article by Demattè, Österbauer and Spence explores this question with a most interesting experiment. In this experiment, the participants (all female) were asked to rate the attractiveness of different male faces presented on a computer monitor, while simultaneously being presented in each trial with either one of four different odorants, two of which were unpleasant and two of which pleasant (geranium or male perfume VS body odor and rubber) or a neutral odor (clean air). (For those of you wondering, the judgments on the perceived pleasantness or unpleasantness of these odors were derived by a pilot study) The results demonstrated (with statistical significance) that the participants judged the faces as being more attractive when they were paired with a pleasant or neutral odor (geranium, male fragrance or clean air) and less attractive when the faces were paired with the unpleasant odors (body odor, rubber). Since clean air and pleasant odors did not differ significantly between them in the effects they exerted on the participants’ judgments, the best interpretation of these results seems to be that only unpleasant odors seem to have a modulatory effect on perceived attractiveness. I would love to see more research on this subject, especially in regards to specific fragrances that people judge as generally pleasant or unpleasant. Yes, even though taste in perfume is subjective, I do believe that there are fragrances that are generally perceived as attractive or repulsive. Related to this last thought and for all of you (us!) Shalimar lovers out there, I include the following excerpt from the aforementioned, extremely interesting article by Demattè et al.:

“The only previous study that we are aware of in which the presence of an odor was shown to modulate people's ratings of the facial attractiveness of others was reported in a book chapter by Kirk-Smith and Booth (1990). The authors found that in the presence of a perfume (the brand Shalimar; once described by Paukner 1965 as being similar to an "ideal erogenous perfume"), both men and women rated half-torso clad photographs of men and women as being significantly sexier and softer as compared with a no-perfume condition.”

References: Demattè et al., 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Eau Emotionelle by Agent Provocateur : Perfume Review

In love again, it seems.
On a particularly rainy, busy Thursday recently, I was frantically biking home after a full day of lectures and labs at the university, feeling quite sorry for myself, for I was completely drenched, cold and tired. My mood was instantly lifted though, as I opened the door to find a packet that came with the mail on the floor. Samples! A lovely reader I had recently sent some samples to, decided to surprise me with a little packet of her own, sharing with me some of her own finds. How wonderful is that? The gloominess of the day just washed off me in an instant, with the kindness that greeted me when I opened this thoughtful little packet.

One of the samples I received was Agent Provocateur’s Eau Emotionelle and I have –quite unexpectedly I might add- fallen hard for it. Eau Emotionelle is meant to be a lighter interpretation of the original Agent Provocateur scent, but I am hard pressed to find many similarities between the two. These are two very different scents, sharing a base that is perhaps slightly reminiscent of each other, but otherwise very dissimilar in ambience, feel and notes. I tried the original years ago for the first time, and even though I liked it, I never considered buying it, as I did not think it was unique enough. It is surprising that I find myself so unmoved by it, as it follows a recipe that I normally can’t resist: It is one of those fragrances that take no prisoners - it packs a punch, it is powerful, wild, animalistic, uncompromising and fearless... in other words, you can’t ignore it. In theory, it is perfect for me, in reality though I am just left shrugging, always ending up thinking that there are others that do exactly what Agent Provocateur promises, only better. Eau Emotionelle on the other hand seems almost unobtrusive, especially when compared side by side with its extravagant, older sibling. In fact, I have trouble discerning Eau Emotionelle at all for a while after smelling Agent Provocateur, the latter being so strong it completely overpowers my senses for a while, making me unable to detect the mild scent of the former.

Yes, Eau Emotionelle is mild and soft, but certainly not as tame and innocent as one might initially think. The opening is ever so slightly green and sappy but soon a lovely, sheer sweetness comes through that lasts throughout the development. There is a spiciness running through it, but one that lacks a bite, being gently enticing instead. The middle is a beautiful, delicate floral mélange that is utterly seducing, like a fine-spun gossamer veil. The base in turn, is gorgeously sensual: intriguing musk and a dusting of the finest loose powder. If the original is a plush boudoir covered in velvet and silk throws, Eau Emotionelle’s bedding is made of the best quality, high-thread Egyptian cotton sheets, with pastel-pink feathers strewn over it and a pair of the finest, daintiest, white lace underwear forgotten on the pillow. Seemingly innocent yes, but not quite... Indeed. This subtle scent is full of hushed promises. Catching the eye of a stranger for a moment too long, the accidental flashing of a woman’s warm abdomen, a lingering smile on flushed lips. And comfort. Heaps of it. Comfort and sexiness combined. Can you tell I am really, in love again? I’ve been looking forward to buying this gorgeous skin-scent for about a week now and come Saturday it will be mine. Sweet anticipation.

Images:, and

Monday, November 12, 2007

And a Little Rumor

While courting a box of La Collection again during the weekend, I got into a conversation about Lancome products with the very enthusiastic Lancome sales associate. We started initially talking about Climat, the reformulations, the difference between the 'regular' Climat and the one sold as part of La Collection. We then went on to discuss our preferences in regards to perfume concentrations, at which point the conversation turned to Magie Noire, and I expressed my disappointment at the lack of an EdP. To my surprise, the sales associate informed me that there will actually be an EdP of Magie Noire released after Christmas! Exciting, no? I do hope this is true!


Something for my Dutch Readers

Back in May, I wrote a review of the now discontinued Libertine, by Vivienne Westwood. At the time, there were still a few testers floating around at some Ici Paris(Boo, Hiss!) boutiques and perhaps one or two bottles as well. Soon after, Libertine completely disappeared, or at least I stopped seeing it altogether in the boutiques I frequent. This Saturday though, I happened upon a drugstore I hadn’t seen before and I decided to step inside, even though it did not look all that interesting at first glance – too many shampoos and shaving paraphernalia and too few perfumes to truly make me think I was going to find anything truly interesting inside. I went in anyway though, and to my surprise, I discovered they still carry Libertine! The shop is called “Beautique La Birynth” and the address is Denneweg 13A, 2514 CB, ‘s-Gravenhage. Their telephone number is 070-3638194. They still have a few bottles left, as well as a tester. Do pay a visit an sniff Libertine while it’s still there, it’s worth the little trip!

I hope this is of help to those of you looking for a bottle of this delightful perfume, or simply curious to sniff it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Histoire Charnelle by Hubert Maes Créations : Perfume Review

Hubert Maes is the creator of three perfumes so far: Histoire d'un Rêve, Histoire Charnelle and Délicieuse Histoire. He is also the owner of Le Soleil d’Or boutique in Lille, France. I have not tested Histoire d'un Rêve and Délicieuse Histoire extensively enough to have formed a solid opinion on them, but at first sniff the former appeared too girly, young and frivolous for my tastes, while the latter appeared to be altogether too foody. Histoire Charnelle on the other hand was just right – it instantly moved me in a way the other two didn’t, moved me in fact enough to consider buying it on the spot, something I almost never do. What is more surprising though, is that I also felt instantly apologetic upon smelling Histoire Charnelle. Apologetic towards coconut, a note I up until recently deemed rather, I guess.

It was only four months ago, in the beginning of July, when I wrote about coconut scents. In that same post I at once admitted to craving coconut scents every summer, yet, at the same time, I adamantly advocated my views on how coconut is never advisable for city-wear, insisted that the note is certainly less than chic, named it inelegant without regret, and even went as far as to say that I am “loath to use the word ‘fragrance’ or ‘perfume’ in the same sentence as coconut”. While I do not yet feel ready to completely revoke these statements for they certainly do apply to most, if not all, of the coconut based fragrances I’d ever smelled before Histoire Charnelle came into my life, I am now forced to admit there do apparently exist exceptions, and Histoire Charnelle is certainly one of them. I couldn’t help but mentally mock my former statements the moment I sniffed it. Even though it is only listed as a top note, coconut is definitely the core of this fragrance, with every other note dancing obediently around it. It never leaves my conscience, persistently remaining the star of the fragrance from the beginning to the end. And yes I do feel apologetic towards it, because it petulantly contradicts everything I’ve ever said about it. Yes, this is an elegant coconut; yes it is chic as can be. Yes, I’d gladly wear it in the city, rain or shine. Yes, yes, yes I’d even wear it in winter, yes, with a tweed jacket and knee length skirt. Yes, I’d wear my leather gloves....With coconut!!! With this coconut.

“She is shadow and figure… she is the woman of today’s world.
This lady, creates envy everywhere she goes.
She leads the dance, she’s ambitious and very conscious of her charm and sensuality.
People look at her when she passes by.”

Hubert Maes, on Histoire Charnelle

Histoire Charnelle means “Carnal Story” and the scent itself is as lusty and warm as the name indicates. The opening is delightfully spicy and, surprisingly perhaps, rather dry, with an intense vintage quality. It is rather thick and bold in character, just as the woman Hubert Maes evokes with the quote above. Uncompromising would be a good word to describe it: This is a fragrance for a woman who cares not what others think of her. In a way, this fragrance smells to me like pure curves... I guess what I am trying to say is that the scent does not evoke images of an ethereal being, but of a creature who is there to stay for as long as she pleases, a provocative presence you cannot possibly ignore. As the fragrance develops on the skin, the dryness slowly disappears (I wish it did last longer, because it is what initially made it so distinguishable) and the scent becomes all the more rounded and voluptuous. I keep getting whiffs of something that smells very spicy, something that vividly makes me think of ground black pepper, but pepper is not one of the listed notes. The cinnamon is deep and dark and adds beautifully to the warmth of this fragrance. Slowly the sweetness of the ambery, vanillic base comes through, making the drydown quite comforting, but I would still hesitate to call it gourmand. To me, this is an oriental fragrance that has enough warmth and voluptuousness to allow the wearer to appear inviting and sensual, but is at the same time elegant enough to allow a certain amount of detachment without appearing false. Beautiful.

Official Notes:
Top Notes: (Fruity-Fresh) pear, coconut, bergamot, tangerine
Heart Notes: (Woody-Aromatic) sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, cinnamon, nutmeg
Base Notes: (Ambergris-Scented) tonka, vanilla

Images: Author's own, (artistic interpretation of Forzieri leather jacket w/ fox collar, Author's own) and

Winner: Maria Amalia by Morris Sample


The winner of last week's draw for Morris' Maria Amalia sample is Chayaruchama! Please send me your details, and I will be sending the little packet :)
This is not all for today, I will be posting a review of Histoire Charnelle a little later today, so do visit again.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Winner of Pierre de Lune by Armani Prive Sample

I forgot to post the results of last week's draw for the Pierre de Lune Sample yesterday. The winner is Kim. I used the list function at for the first time for this draw and I will keep on using it for all draws from now on. Much easier than cutting little pieces of paper, folding them and having someone pick one!

Kim, please send me your details and I will post the sample to you!

Thanks for participating. I will post the results for Maria Amalia tomorrow as promised.
Have a wonderful day, everyone!


Monday, November 5, 2007

Perfume for the Occasion: Perfumes for a Stressful Day

Might certain scents help in alleviating stress? When TMH of For the Love of Perfume and I were discussing this month’s Perfume for the Occasion feature, we thought it would certainly be an interesting question to explore. Influenced by the fact that October was a rather hectic and stressful month for both of us, we felt that others too, might wish to read a few suggestions on which fragrances might promote calm, and help in easing stressful feelings away. For my part, I decided to put the focus on aromatherapy and I have to say, it has been great fun looking into this subject. The essential oils most often suggested for the purpose of alleviating stress turned out to be bergamot, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rosemary, chamomile, and to a lesser extent, ylang ylang. The question is, of course, do they really work? As a student, I am lucky to have free access to many scientific journals that allowed me to research the issue further. After reviewing several articles, the answer to the question of whether these actually work was a definite “yes” for some of these oils (bergamot, lavender and rosemary), and a clear winner had emerged: Lavender, which appears to be the most beneficial of the three. Specifically, lavender has been shown to have major benefit in stress related disorders, to decrease cortisol levels and reduce mental stress. Shall we then, take a look at a few lavender suggestions together?

· Jicky by Guerlain: I couldn’t make a post about lavender and leave Jicky out, of course. Having said that, Jicky remains a mystery to me. To me, Jicky still seems like a chameleon, ever changing colors. Sometimes its lavender scent seems long-lasting, enveloping me in its slightly camphoraceous aroma for hours. Other times I lose its trail relatively quickly, finding myself left all too soon with a slightly leathery, earthy vanilla, and struggling to detect the lavender that made it seem so controversial to my nose initially. Sometimes Jicky seems wildly animalic, making me think I must have it, but the next time I try it, it turns into sweet innocence and I find no reason to add it to my collection. Despite the mystery, Jicky does seem like a good suggestion to me, as it contains both lavender and bergamot oil.

· Lavender by Floris: Admittedly, the opening notes make this fragrance appear rather scary at first: This is an intensely herbaceous lavender with a rather sour opening. However, it soon calms down to a light, elegant and most pleasant blend of lavender with a touch of geranium and hints of rosemary. The result is very dry and aromatic giving an impression of chic simplicity. This is definitely my favorite of today’s suggestions! If you wish to treat yourself, I wholeheartedly suggest splurging on the Lavender Tranquility Set as well, and indulging your senses on the evenings you really need to relax! The Lavender Tranquility Set contains the Lavender Moisturizing Bath & Shower Gel, the Floris at Home Lavender Candle and the Patchouli & Lavender Sleep Enhancing Pillow Mist. The candle is my absolute favorite part of the set, smelling like a very sweet, gentle lavender. (It is the sweetness that gets me! – I want this translated into a body mist now please!) The shower gel is very herbaceous, smelling like true, dried lavender. I like this a lot, because it smells exactly like the lavender-filled, tiny cotton cushions my dad used to bring to me to put in my drawers when I was a little girl. The pillow mist is a dry blend of lavender and patchouli, which makes the pillow smell wonderfully fresh and crisp. Although intense at first, the scent soon becomes quite natural – I do not find myself conscious of the aroma as I fall asleep. In fact I only sense it at first when my head hits the pillow, and it is very pleasant, as though the pillowcase had just been washed. Still, make sure to test this before buying. Patchouli can be difficult and the purpose of these products is to help you relax, not keep you awake!

· Encens et Lavande by Serge Lutens: I am very ambivalent about adding this one to today’s post. Let me be honest: I do not like Encens et Lavande. I certainly would not wear it myself. Still, I decided to use it as the third suggestion for a lavender fragrance to try in times of stress, if only because it is very interesting. (who knows, aside from the natural properties of lavender, perhaps the surprise element this fragrance offers will create enough a distraction to forget about stress for a while too :) But let me get to the point: Celery. This is certainly not the only Serge Lutens fragrance that has a definite celery scent, Mandarine Mandarin is another example, but surprisingly perhaps, I love it in Mandarine Mandarin – it somehow blends in perfectly with the rest of the notes. In Encens et Lavande the celery is not only extremely pronounced but very discordant as well: It antagonizes the lavender every step of the way until it (finally) disappears. For as long as it lasts (give it at least an hour or two...) it completely ruins the fragrance –for me at least. What is very interesting however, is how salty, how savory, Encens et Lavande is, and I attribute this to the dreaded celery as well. If only for this strange savory character, I do suggest you try Encens et Lavande at least once. Another interesting, but once again discordant, note in Encens et Lavande, is sage. I love sage, and the note is very true in this fragrance, but it is too pronounced for me to appreciate it. It completely overpowers the lavender for as long as it lasts. Or perhaps I can only appreciate sage in Diptique, what can I say? All is not negative however. Encens et Lavande does finally dry down to a very soothing, soft lavender a couple of hours after it is first applied. It then tends to smell like a very traditional masculine lavander cologne, with soft musky undertones. I still wouldn’t wear it just for the pleasant dry-down, but truth be told, it is pleasant. Perhaps Gris Clair would have been a better choice, but unfortunately it is one of the Lutens I consistently overlook and thus have no sample of. Is it a good lavender scent? How does it compare to Encens et Lavande? Do let me know!

Lastly, I have to admit that personally, when I am stressed I either feel like exploring something new to distract and relax myself, or I get this strong sense of being compelled to wear a specific (different every time) scent. It feels a bit as though my body is asking for the specific thing it needs when this happens. Which scents do you use when you are stressed? Do you self medicate with perfume like I do, or perhaps cannot stand scents at all in times of stress?

Images:, Author’s own and

Friday, November 2, 2007

Smelly Facts: Olfaction and Gender Differences

Perfume enthusiasts often marvel at the individual differences that emerge when one person’s experience of a scent is compared to another’s. Our individual perception of a scent is likely tied not only to life experiences that have shaped the way we perceive certain smells, but to constitutional differences as well. One very surprising and important variable that plays a role in olfactory differences is gender. “On the average, women detect odors more readily than men, and the brain responses to odors are stronger in women than in men.” (Doty et al., 1985) Additionally, women are apparently more attentive to smells as well. For example, the smell of a potential partner plays a bigger role for women than it does for men. Furthermore, when repeatedly attending to a particular faint odor, women have the ability to become gradually and progressively more sensitive to it, until they can detect it in concentrations one-thousandth (!) of what they could at the start. (Dalton et al., 2002) However, it must be noted that this effect is not exhibited in prepubertal girls and menopausal women, so this ability seems to be tied to female hormones.

What effects might this increased sensitivity have on the different ways men and women perceive the same fragrance? Are there any implications for professional perfumers? It seems unthinkable, considering the time and enormous effort involved in training a professional nose. On the other hand, according to studies, only women of sexually reproductive age are able to detect faint odors in such minute concentrations as mentioned above. Surely that should make a difference? I realize I am following a controversial train of thought at the moment, and one I am certainly underqualified to make any assumptions on. It certainly is an interesting topic though, wouldn’t you say?

Dalton, Doolittle, & Breslin, 2002
Doty, Applebaum, Zusho, & Settle 1985
Kalat, 2007


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Maria Amalia by Morris : Perfume Review

Maria Amalia, archduchess of Austria and princess of Hungary by birth, duchess of Parma by marriage, is perhaps better known to me as the sister of Elizabeth of Bavaria, affectionately known to most as Empress Sissi. Indeed, even though I object to monarchy (I am Greek, after all), I always did end up being fascinated by the more romantic stories of monarchs and have spent many a wonderful winter night throughout the years listening to my dearest, biography obsessed, friend Peter talking to me about the lives of princesses, pharaohs, sultans and their wives. What do I remember about Maria Amalia? Not that much – her sister, Empress Sissi with her unhappy life and countless travels always proved to be a much more interesting topic of conversation. So, when I came across a perfume called Maria Amalia, I cannot say I immediately made the connection between the name and the duchess. As it turns out though, the perfume is indeed named after her, and not just as a tribute. Purportedly, this is the real deal, Maria Amalia’s own personal fragrance, recreated from the jus found in her hunting lodge, when a precious coffer was uncovered, guarding inside a flacon of splendid crystal. The pamphlet that accompanies the fragrance paints a very romantic picture of Maria Amalia, speaking extensively of her wondrous beauty, her sense of style and her azzure blue eyes that could be magnetic and icy at the same time. The article about Maria Amalia on Wikipedia paints a harsher, or much naughtier if you will, picture of the duchess, focusing instead on her ‘immoral’ way of life and her political games. One thing that emerges from both readings though, is that Maria Amalia must have been an incredibly independent spirit, strong, rebellious and full of explosive desires that led her to want to taste every kind of entertainment in life.

The fragrance itself opens with a slightly fruity accord which refuses to linger longer than a few fleeting moments. Then, a trio of magnificently complimentary notes is presented to the nose: cardamom, ginger root and angelica. Ginger acts like the balancing point, as though flanked on each side by the other two notes. On one side, the wonderfully resinous, bittersweet cardamom enhancing the scent of its familial ginger, while the ginger itself penetrates the depth of cardamom with its citrusy tendrils. On the other side, the bracing, acutely sharp scent of angelica, serves to enhance the herbaceous profile of ginger, making it stronger, fortifying the senses, penetrating the senses and jolting them into attention. I simply haven’t the words to describe better how beautifully these three notes compliment each other, and I am left simply deconstructing them, hoping that imagination can fill the gaps. I do love sharpness in a perfume, and it is most pleasing to me that in this particular scent, the sharp vein courses through its development for hours. For a while, I get the sense of something deeply earthy, imparting an impression of wet, rich soil, strewn with aromatic spices and herbs. As this image begins to disappear, the soft scent of May rose slowly rises to the top, its petals laced with nutmeg and its stems surrounded by cinnamon bark. The result is very well blended, with no spiky edges. The marriage of notes is subtle and I struggle to pick out any particular note overpowering the rest. Smelling close, there is perhaps a thin lemony vein, continuing the trail ginger had started earlier...Rosewood, perhaps? As mentioned earlier, the sharpness I so love is indeed present in the drydown and makes for a most interesting combination with the base notes of fragrant woods and resins. Beautiful, cinnamic, resinous myrrh is blended with a touch of patchouli and a generous amount of creamy sandalwood that is so wintry, so warm and lovely, it actually manages to make my heart pick up speed.

Is this the fragrance Maria Amalia preferred? Was it one of many, or was it perhaps her signature perfume? What does surprise me about this scent is how masculine it is. Is it possible instead, that the fragrance found in her hunting lodge was not hers, but one bought for one of her numerous lovers? Or even perhaps, for her younger husband? Despite the feminine flacon it is sold in, despite the feminine name, my immediate impression is one of quiet masculinity. Yet, it has none of the abused, common characteristics of mainstream masculine perfumes. By this I mean of course that one should not expect to find anything obviously masculine about it, or otherwise overtly citrusy-fresh or god forbid, marine. It is just an impression I speak of, but one strong enough to elicit the same response from a friend of mine too. This is not a fragrance that is traditionally feminine, and yes, it will be just perfect on male skin. (purrrrrrfect? oops, sorry...) I do have to add though, that its sharpness might put some people off. The first time I tried this on my skin I did get reminded of the sharpness of Vanille Exquise, which is not too surprising since they both contain angelica. A side-by-side comparison though, revealed that although they do share something common in the way they are sharp, Vanille Exquise is smoother and Maria Amalia fuller. The latter manages to disguise its sharpness better, embraced as it is with so much warmth from all the spices, woods and resins. I do hope this little comparison helps. I felt a warning was in order since sharpness is not always well received, and it is better to be forewarned. How do I feel about buying this? I love it, and I am glad to have it. However, I do feel a slight twinge of remorse. The Eau de Parfum Concentré is hideously expensive – perhaps due to the crystal flacon, perhaps due to the higher concentration, or both... The Eau de Parfum Spray which I originally rejected, has just as much tenacity, it can, occasionally, be found dirt-cheap online, and if my memory serves it happens to smell a tad different, a bit more feminine and soft. Dabbing perfume delicately is a sensual ritual though, and the high concentration does mean I am left with a lovely sheen on my skin. I don’t regret this, but I know what I will be buying next time if I manage to finish this one!

As always, I am going to be giving out a sample of this, since it is hard to find, so do leave a comment. I’ll announce the draw winner next Wednesday.

Images: and Author’s own.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Tried and Tested : Pierre de Lune by Armani Prive

The Armani Prive perfume collection evokes ambivalent feelings in me: half of the fragrances in the line excite me, while the other half leave me cold and unmoved. To illustrate this antithesis I would like to use Cuir Amethyste and Pierre de Lune as examples. I view the two as antipodes of each other in terms of the feelings they elicit in me, with Cuir Amethyst being a zenith to Pierre de Lune’s nadir. I am completely in love with Cuir Amethyste, its deep and intricately nuanced scent haunting my mind, the memory of our first meeting re-experienced over and over again, in blindingly saturated colors. I would gladly pay its rather extravagant price tag without once complaining, for in my mind, the quality, the luxury of this scent justifies its cost. And then there is Pierre de Lune, proper and demure, effortlessly sophisticated yet, at least in my eyes, doubtlessly lackluster. Now, I realize this is entirely subjective. What I find lackluster and boring, surely has a place in someone else’s heart. Yet, whenever I smell it, I cannot shake the feeling that the price tag is, in this case, rather exorbitant. I cannot shake the feeling that this scent is neither luxurious, nor special enough to warrant the cost. With these thoughts in mind, I decided to take Pierre de Lune out for a test drive and see how others perceived it. Considering that the average shopper is neither a collector nor likely to be a perfume enthusiast or devotee, it was clear to me from the beginning that it was unlikely that I would find anyone who wouldn’t in fact find the price exorbitant, yet I still thought it would be both fun and interesting to see how exclusive this fragrance is perceived as just by its smell in general.

A few things to keep in mind before reading this month’s little interviews:
- As is always the case when there is a post about a harder to find fragrance here on Fragrance Bouquet, there will be a random draw for a sample of it. Please comment if you would like to be entered in the draw!
- The people that were interviewed were not told beforehand which fragrance they were smelling nor how much it costs. They were debriefed only after the interview was concluded.
- Two interviews had to be omitted because the subjects did not wish to have their picture taken. Even though their interviews are not going to be posted, I find it worthwhile to mention that both subjects commented on how soapy the fragrance smelled to them. They both compared it with soap they have smelled in the past and one of the two even identified the soap that Pierre de Lune reminded her of – Maja soap! It is quite sad that I had to omit these interviews because it is rather telling that three out five people found it very soapy.
- Pierre de Lune costs 185$ for 50ml and the official description characterizes it as “a sensual, floral fragrance designed around the penetrating scent of cassia. Fresh woody notes and soft violet harmonize with iris from Florence—an ingredient so precious it costs more than gold. An intense fragrance that awakens the senses.”

Katerina, Highschool Student
What is your first impression of this perfume?
- Ooh, I do not like it. It smells very strongly of soap.
What sort of price range do you think this fragrance falls into?
- I think it is probably an expensive fragrance. Maybe around 60 euro?
Would you buy this fragrance for yourself or for another?
- No and no! I do not like it at all, so it wouldn’t be right for me and I wouldn’t buy something I don’t like for a friend of mine!

Anneke, Pensioner
What is your first impression of this perfume?
- Mmm, it is feminine, but it is also rather oppressing and heavy. Sultry perhaps and ...exotic! That’s a good word for it. I do not like it myself... This is for some sort of dark type, do you know what I mean?
What sort of price range do you think this fragrance falls into?
- Probably around 25 euro?
Would you buy this fragrance for yourself or for another?
- No, I wouldn’t buy it for myself and I would certainly not buy it for a friend of mine. It’s too heavy.

Martin, University Student - Biopharmacy
What is your first impression of this perfume?
- The first thing that pops into my mind is that I am not convinced by it! Oh, it is alright I guess – it smells like a rather light unisex fragrance.
What sort of price range do you think this fragrance falls into?
- I really have no idea.
- Oh, go ahead and guess, it’s fun!
- I can’t say! Must I?...Well alright, 25 euro?
- Funnily enough you are the second person that guesses this!
Would you buy this fragrance for yourself or for another?
- I don’t think so... It’s not that I find it disgusting or anything – it’s more what I said in the beginning. It just doesn’t do anything to ‘convince’ me. I have to be crazy about a perfume to buy it, and this, well, it’s just mediocre.

I hope you enjoyed this month's Tried and Tested and don't forget to let me know if you want to be entered in a draw for a sample of Pierre de Lune! The winner will be announced in a week's time.

Images: Author's own.
Official Quote on Pierre de Lune: