Thursday, June 28, 2007

Soie Rouge by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier : Perfume Review

There is a wide choice out there for carnation enthusiasts like me. To name but a few, Carnation from the red series by Comme des Garcons, Garofano by Lorenzo Villoresi, and the now discontinued (but still available at places) Ouelliet Sauvage by L’Artisan Parfumeur are all wonderful choices. My first, original love was, of course, Bellodgia by Caron, which stole my heart away with its distinctive, rich character. Some months ago, while searching for a spicier, brighter alternative, I discovered Garofano by Santa Maria Novella, which I found to be the truest, spiciest, most beautiful carnation I’d ever encountered. Garofano quickly became a favorite all-round carnation winner for me, finding it easy and wearable anytime, anywhere. I like playing with it, layering it with Annick Goutal’s Vanille Exquise when I require a little something different, a little more ‘oomph’ and even though just a cologne, it lasts and lasts all day long.

I certainly was not looking for yet another carnation scent when I left for my recent trip to Paris, nor was I expecting love’s hot, flaming arrows to pierce my heart again so soon after my last find. It took but one whiff of the beautiful Soie Rouge at Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s boutique though, to know that I had found a new carnation darling. With that I do not mean to say that it has dethroned Garofano. Rather, to my surprise, the two are different enough to co-exist happily, sharing first place in my heart, each appropriate for different occasions.

Soie Rouge literally means ‘Red Silk’ and is part of the “Les Accords Mystères” line of Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. The composition starts out like an intense, true carnation, which turns spicier and spicier as it warms on the skin. My senses are surprised as they struggle to process the swift transition from an innocent, single carnation to the advent of a full, extravagant bouquet of them, laced with freshly ground pepper and cloves. I find myself unable to resist bringing my nose close to my skin and inhaling deeply, with eyes closed and a slight smile on lips, much as I would when burying my face in the actual bouquet. The scent is concentrated and strong, to the effect that the wonderful smell lingers in my nose for a while thereafter. Despite its intensity though, this is not a heavy, old-fashioned rendition. Maître Parfumeur et Gantier’s portrayal of the flower is refined: a youthful, polished and cultivated beauty. Too, unlike any other carnation fragrances I have smelled, this one actually manages to also smell green. It is as though the whole plant is being brought into view, not plucked from the ground – for there is no earthy mustiness there – but freshly cut, making me feel as though I am actually holding the budding, thin and fibrous stems, their pointed leaves slightly piercing my hands. As time goes by, the presence of fruit in the composition becomes apparent, but never as stand-alone notes. Rather than being distracting, they serve a supporting role to the main character, the carnation, anchoring it and lending it depth, complexity. At the center of this harmonious creation, I find a warm heart of musk. To me, it serves to underscore the fact that this is a very intimate fragrance. It might be a fragrance for all seasons, but it most certainly is not a fragrance for all occasions. I would never dream of wearing it in the harsh light of day or pairing it with my jeans. Soie Rouge ideally deserves silk sheets and champagne. At the very least though, Soie Rouge deserves an effort from the wearer: an effort to match its femininity and a setting that allows it to work its magic. The intimacy it proclaims requires it be worn for whom you love most. I hope their heart swells with desire and appreciation, just as mine does when I smell this enchanting creation.

Pictures courtesy of, and

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Paris, Je t' aime!

Paris, what can be said about this wondrous city that has not already become a cliché? I left for Paris with a clear purpose, a tight schedule to visit all the perfumeries I had been planning to visit for so long in order to experience fragrances I would otherwise be unable to. With only three days at my disposal, it truly was impossible to get acquainted with all the magnificent fragrant creations each house has to offer; my time there was clearly too short. It would not only be unjust but also presumptuous to write conclusively about most of the perfume houses after such limited and fragmented exposure. Nevertheless, there is much to tell already and I can’t help but feel privileged to have experienced so much and to be able to share these beautiful memories with you.

Walking the streets of Paris might sound like a daunting task for one who has not mastered the French language, but the metro and RER system were extremely easy to learn and not once did my traveling companion and I find ourselves lost. We took to Paris like ducks to water. I was very, very impressed by the French people too, who could not have been more friendly, polite and helpful. Each time we needed help, all we had to do was ask and found to our surprise that even in such a bustling, busy metropolis, people would take time of their busy schedule to help us and even show us around, walking with us, talking with us and even running after us to correct us if we took a wrong turn. I was humbled by their kindness and my heart has truly been moved by their gregariousness and helpful disposition. I simply cannot stress enough how out their way they went in order to help us.

We started our homage to the perfume boutiques of Paris at the left bank, with a visit to the flagship House of Guerlain, located at 68 avenue de Champs-Elysees. There is probably only one word that can adequately describe the interior of La Maison Guerlain: Opulence. From the beautiful marble ground floor we followed Guerlain’s golden ribbon to the second floor to find ourselves in a sparkling vestibule with mosaic walls that seemed to be made of liquid gold, cascading around us and catching the light softly, like a whisper. From there we walked in to the most pristine creamy white room, where Guerlain’s bottled treasures were waiting to be explored. A helpful assistant guided me through all the fragrances I’d been longing to smell and was discreet enough to stay behind when it was obvious that I wished some time alone to contemplate the choice and to marvel at the beautiful displays. I loved finally being able to sample the exclusive L’Art et la Matière collection, and fell in love with Angelique Noire, Cuir Beluga and Iris Ganache. Interestingly, the fragrances of the L’Art et la Matière collection are not presented on paper strips, but are instead sprayed on lacy black fans which the assistant then uses a short distance from the face in order to allow the scent of the fragrance to gently waft towards you in the form of a soft gust of air. I would be hard-pressed to choose between Angelique Noire, Cuir Beluga and Iris Ganache, for all three were absolutely wonderful, but my choice was made easier by the fact that I fell head over heels in love with Metalys. Being told that Metalys is going to be discontinued in a couple of months made this choice even easier – I had to have it. Unfortunately, Metalys is not the only fragrance that is getting the proverbial axe: Guerlinade and Philtre d’Amour are also being withdrawn come September. It seemed strange to me that Philtre d’Amour would be withdrawn so soon after its re-release, but when I inquired about it I was told that the issue is (of course...) money. All in all my experience at La Maison Guerlain was wonderful and I will definitely be going back when I visit Paris next. Surprisingly though, this, considered –rightfully- by many to be the veritable shrine to perfumery was not the highlight of my trip...

I visited many, many fragrance boutiques and fashion houses while in Paris. So many that by the end of the day my body was protesting so much that not even the comfort of my bed could ease me to sleep. But out of all of them, three places emerge as the true winners of my heart: Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, Montale and JAR. Why is that, you may ask? How can anything, after all, compare to the opulence and heritage of Guerlain, how can anything compare to the exclusivity of Les Salons du Palais Royal Shisheido or how can anything live up to the anticipation I was feeling when visiting Parfums Caron to see the Bacarat fountains with my own eyes? Well, for me, personally, there were some very important details that made these three perfumeries etch their signature deep in my heart, making them unforgettable and unique: Expertise, superb training of the staff, personality along with very personal, specialized attention to the customer and lastly, this very elusive quality that I almost dare not describe but I will do my best to... A certain aura that reverberates around you once you walk in, a warm positive feeling that is almost palpable. I am not talking about cheerfulness and enthusiasm, no. I am talking about a profound sense of wellbeing, serenity and comfort you are made to feel once walking into any of these three houses. Other places I visited were cheery and welcoming, but quite impersonal... Others had the cool neutrality of any store... Some even verged into negativity. These three were positively glowing with a positivism that was immediately obvious and felt by both my companion and myself. Visiting Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, Montale and JAR has made this trip simply unforgettable.

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier is situated at number 84 of bis rue de Grenelle. Walking inside this jewel of a boutique, I could not help but take note of the care that has gone into making the interior be at once luxurious while avoiding to be oppressing. From the walls, dressed in sumptuous, embossed leather, to the beautiful marble floor and decorated ceiling, Maître Parfumeur et Gantier exudes beautiful elegance, while the carefully chosen color scheme and harmonious arrangement, all conspire to guide the focus where it should be, on the perfumes themselves. There is nothing garish inside to detract from the value of the main attraction, the wonderful scents on display. We were greeted and assisted by the utterly charming Typhaine, who couldn’t have been better in helping me get acquainted with this fantastic line of fragrances. I really appreciated her gentle guidance in experiencing the scents best suited to my tastes – a quest that would have been quite difficult to accomplish on my own, considering the wide range on offer. She instinctively seemed to know that I would not shy away from the masculine fragrances and the first fragrance she proffered for me to try was Ambre Précieux, an instant hit with me. Its creamy, lusciously indulgent texture is truly erotic. I dare say I am in love! Fleur d’Iris charmed me with its cool sophistication and Garrigue sung to me the beautiful song of the Mediterranean landscape, making my heart recognize it as a true, shining emerald. And of course, how could I not fall prey to the charm of Soie Rouge when I adore carnation so? Not only were the fragrances themselves exquisite, but the service was the best I have had in my whole life. I left the boutique serene and happy, knowing that from now on I am a customer of this house and will always be, with devotion. I left feeling rejuvenated from the copious amounts of positive energy I received and I honestly can’t wait to return there soon. I will be reviewing these fabulous fragrances in the near future, so look forward to reading more about Maître Parfumeur et Gantier soon!

Montale, found at number 26 of the breathtaking Place Vendome, is a modern boutique with minimalist design. Rows upon rows of the signature aluminium bottles, housed in square alcoves lit from within, line the walls, shining like futuristic jewels in silver, gold, blue and black. Being made from aluminium, the bottles are not only perfect for preserving the fragrance within, but are also lightweight enough to carry with you anywhere, and the simple, yet decorative lock will keep accidental spills at bay. Having said that, there simply would not be a need to keep a Montale in your purse, unless you were traveling. The fragrances of this line have such amazing longevity, that they completely eliminate any need for reapplication throughout the day. A single spray on my wrist at night does not only last till the morning, but also manages to gently perfume my duvet, painting a happy little smile on my face as I wake up to the wonderful scent. Such a joy! And if for some unfathomable reason the jus is not already strong enough for you, you can always ask for extra essence to be added to your own bottle before buying it... Divine, no? Inside the boutique, the devilishly charismatic sales associate, Pierre, took one look at me and knew immediately what I was about and what fragrance would suit me. I only had to say a few words and he elaborated on them expertly, leaving me to nod in amazed agreement as he proffered the best choices, matching not only my preferences but my personality as well. He knew exactly what I would and would not like – an experience I found at once gratifying and exhilarating. Laughing and chatting with ease, time simply flew as I made my purchases. I left Montale feeling high as a kite, with that curious, thankful and happy feeling of being understood.

Further down the road from the Montale boutique and across from the fabulous Westin hotel, on 14, Rue de Castiglione I found one of the best-kept secrets of Paris, JAR Parfums. Behind the dark verre fumé window, the only telltale sign that I have reached my destination is a luminous, incandescent flacon, lighting up the display like a gorgeous jewel. I opened the door carefully to find myself in a small dimly lit space, intimate as a boudoir. Everything was covered in viscous violet velvet, giving me the feeling that I was cradled inside the plush folds of a dark rose’s petals. The ceiling bares the drawing of a huge thunderbolt, which is at once imposing, ominous and exciting. I could almost feel the static on my skin. “Bonjour!” I called out, even though it was almost six in the afternoon. A door opened and out came a smiling, elegant gentleman, who invited me to sit down. I took a seat in one of the two comfortable bergère armchairs and embarked on one of the most fabulous experiences of my life. I sat there, in an almost dream-like state as his long, delicate fingers carefully opened one glass jar after the other, allowing me to smell each magnificent essence. Softly, slowly we talked, myself with eyes almost always closed with pleasure as every one of my senses awakened, my mind titillated. My charming Hungarian guide through this fantasy world was patient and gentle when my senses failed me and clearly pleased when they were alert, allowing me to perceive the fragrance correctly, rewarding me with his own input as we smiled and talked softly. I was astonished to find he spoke Dutch, which made me feel right at home, even though our exchange was mostly in English, with few exceptions. At some point we were interrupted by another potential customer that walked in. He was asked to wait, and he did, standing up in a corner. The gentleman’s attention was so focused on me, that I, normally stressful in such instances out of consideration, managed to completely forget that there was anyone else but us inside the plush, dim room. I felt like a princess... In the end I was asked which fragrance I liked best. I pointed at two different jars and asked for their names. “This one is Diamond Water,” he said. “And this one has no name, its name is the symbol” and with that he pointed to the beautiful clouded ceiling, with its striking thunderbolt. “Which one will you try?” I chose the Diamond Water, possibly for all the wrong reasons, as the name was so evocative. As he applied the scent with repeated feathery strokes on my inner arm, my skin reacted as though small fireworks were erupting inside, tingling with joy. The almost mystical prelude, the dimness of the light, the way only my sense of smell mattered and the way the essence so strong wafted to my nose... How can I ever describe the joy I felt? I can only say that it was a joy my whole body experienced. I am glad JAR fragrances are not sold in department stores... If they were, I would have probably never experienced these feelings as I did. Yes, sometimes it can be forgiven to be as exclusive as they get. It does make me sad that I cannot smell the line as often as I’d like...But truly, this is the way it should be experienced. The whole package, the whole adventure. And yes, the perfumes are pricey. But are they worth it? In my opinion, yes, they most definitely are.

Do I have any regrets now that I am back home? Unfortunately I do... One of them is that I did not manage to visit IUNX, Olivia Giacobetti’s own boutique. There is only so much one can do in three days after all. My other regret is that I visited JAR so late in the afternoon, with my senses so overwhelmed by all the fragrances I had been smelling all day long, and so very tired from walking the streets of Paris without even a break for coffee or lunch, that I feel I did not experience them the way they should be experienced. I could feel my senses were tired and overwhelmed while I was sampling them but nevertheless the experience was a magical one, one I will never, ever forget. I just wonder how it would have been if that was the first place I had visited that day, instead of the one before last. I left Paris with a promise to myself, to come back with more time at my disposal and with a more discerning schedule. That way, I can give these perfume houses the attention they deserve. And this has assuredly been a courtesy they extended to me. For this, I am ever so thankful. I love you, Paris. I’ll be back soon.

Images courtesy of:,,,
Image of rose by Jane Nassano courtesy of

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Coming Soon

Dear readers,

The recount of my experience in Paris is almost ready - I hope you are not too tired waiting for it! It is quite a long piece and I estimate it will be posted by tonight or tomorrow morning. Thank you for your patience!



Sunday, June 17, 2007

L’Homme de Coer by Divine : Perfume Review

Happy father’s day everyone! Tomorrow I am leaving for Paris and I will be back on Wednesday evening, but there is still time for one more review this week. I decided to focus on yet another of the beautiful Divine fragrances, this time L’Homme de Coer. It is appropriate for the day insofar that it is a masculine fragrance, but it is not a scent that reminds me of my own dad and the reasons I chose it are not sentimental: it is simply a wonderful male scent I’d been planning to review for a while now.

Knowing that this is a male fragrance based on the iris, I was quite prepared for that first sniff to transport me to a silvery-gray landscape, glistening with rain of liquid zinc and sparkling powder. This image was shattered into pieces that fell through my waiting hands when I finally smelled the actual perfume... My initial surprise never did turn into disappointment though, for my interest was immediately grabbed by the unexpected green opening. One has to be quick to smell the pungent juniper, that when attended to will be very reminiscent of a dry martini, with its gin-like smell. As interesting as it might be though, I can’t help but be glad that it quickly calms and merges with the scent of cypress to provide a calmer interlude before the scent of pine takes over, enhancing everything with its brighter character. There is a strong sense of freshness now, something that makes me think of aftershave... And even though I would normally reserve the word ‘aftershave’ to describe a male fragrance in derogatory terms, in this case it happens to be my way of conveying the impossible sexiness of this stage. Invigorating and crisp, my heart skips a beat and I feel desire building up deep in my abdomen. There is a slow accession of something previously buried under the evergreen foliage, the advent of the softest sweet, yet still clean smell. A musky sweetness like a neck still steaming from the shower, a neck I wish to bite and taste. And still this warmth builds, the naked chest of a man who’s long not been a boy. His chest is moist with peppery, musky angelica and all I want is to be held by him, all pretences left behind. I won’t mind his chest hair against my cheek, I’ll gladly rub my face against it. L'Homme de Coer is now inducing not just vivid images in my mind, but is positively acting like the hormone oxytocin, inducing undiluted feelings of trust, bonding, calmness and well being... What is happening to me? I remain in this warm, comforting embrace, following the development with eyes only half-open as if in a haze. The iris is now in bloom, soft and beautiful but not as powdery as I know it. It is at once masculine and pretty, splendidly accentuated by ambergris which lends it an unexpected soft marine accord. From this point on, the scent lingers close to the skin, never bracing, never aggressive. It melds with the skin, becoming personal, like something seeping effortlessly from the pores in small quantities throughout the day. It is the scent of a secure man that has lived and knows how to love and give selflessly. It is the scent I’d like to imagine is worn only for me.

Images sourced from and

Friday, June 15, 2007

Perfume Randomness and Unrelated Excitement

Good evening! Today I am writing another little personal update, along with some random perfume thoughts and questions. Many of you have asked about the event I was organizing... Your inquiries warmed my heart :) The event itself was the first annual Cultural Festival... Considering it was the first, there was so much anticipation in the air: the outcome would determine whether the festival would become a tradition to be continued for years to come, or something to be left behind in sadness. My nerves were shattered on the days leading to the event and on the day itself I was a livewire. But I needn’t have worried! The event was not just extremely successful – it was amazing! I do not mean to bore you with non-perfume related details, but I guess I am still so drunk on the success I felt the need to share. I do not know whether any of my board members or committee members ever visit my blog, but if you do: thank you for all your extremely hard work! We did it! I will never forget this day as long as I live. For those of you wondering: I wore Opium FdS on the day... It’s not what my mind would have chosen – that would have been L’Eau Trois – but it is what my heart commanded and I had to obey, gladly I might add.

More excitement: I have a visitor from another country as a guest at the moment, a very special person who came to visit me especially for the festival and together we are traveling to Paris this Monday for three days. Visiting Paris was something of a promise I had made to myself – a little luxury, a little gift for all the hard work that has gone in this year. I do not know whether it will be relaxing as I am planning to visit all the perfumeries I have been longing to see with my own eyes for so long... I have to admit my top two destinations are probably the House of Guerlain and Parfums Caron. (Thank you Christine for your guide, it is invaluable to a first-time Paris visitor with little time on their hands and an ambitious sniffing agenda!) If you have any requests, like things you would like me to investigate while there, please post as a comment here or email me and I will do my best to comply. I am excited, but also slightly stressed. Do you ever have that? Stress before a trip? I always do, it is ridiculous.

So what else has been going on these days? Or rather, what has been going on perfume-wise? Well, first of all I’ve had a disappointment... I think the original Jean-Louis Scherrer perfume has been reformulated - for what I have found in a shop recently smells like a shadow of what I remember it to be. (and I do have a very good fragrance memory...) I am planning to telephone some kindly family member to see if I still have any of the good old stuff back home. I would love to review it, and if I am lucky enough to still have some dregs of the original, I’ll have it sent over and then I can do a side-by-side comparison. Furthermore, following Jenavira’s suggestion, I went to the Yves-Rocher store to sniff Neonatura Cocoon. I did not manage to find it and the SA was unfriendly enough to put me off asking for further information unfortunately. But what I did find was the Elixir de Parfum of Comme une Evidence which is absolutely fabulous. If you happen upon Comme une Evidence please, bypass the EdT concentration completely (it is horrible, really no relation at all between the two) and head for the Elixir, which is to die for. I am buying this as soon as possible – the only reason why it is not in my loving arms already is the fact that the SA really was rather obnoxious and I was not going to give her the pleasure of handing her any money. Finally, I have a request: Do any of you have some information on Les Beaux Arts by Christian Peschke? There are two fragrances, La Dolce and La Vita and their bottles can be seen here. I am afraid that the picture does not do them justice, they are very impressive in real life. I hope one of you has more information on them than I do, but if I get no responses on them I promise to investigate further and report back to you in a couple of weeks time, when I have time to revisit the boutique where I found them. They are quite expensive at around 240 euro each and I am very, very curious about the jus inside.

Pictures of Cultural Festival 2007, personal collection, thanks to J.J.S

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Rose d'Homme by Les Parfums de Rosine

It often happens to me that upon smelling a fragrance, my mind assumes the role of a matchmaker and forever associates it with another, forever pairing the two in a beautiful marriage of a male and female scent that compliment each other. I have hinted to this previously when reviewing Blue Jeans, which is –in my mind- paired with Lolita by Lolita Lempicka. When I smelled Rose d’Homme by Les Parfums de Rosine for the first time a few months ago, my first excited thought was that this was the perfect counterpart to Aromatics Elixir by Clinique. I found it wonderfully spicy, warm and dry at the same time, unique. Subsequent sampling from the little decant that was made for me in the past couple of months has left me wondering if it is indeed the same perfume I smelled on that first occasion. My mind now vehemently rejects the idea that it ever suggested this potion could be paired with Aromatics Elixir and attempts to find explanations for the disappointment I am experiencing. Did my friend decant from the wrong bottle? Has my sample turned? But no satisfactory explanation can be given: the bottle we decanted from was fresh and we labeled my vial on the spot. I will just have to accept the fact that my nose was fooled.

The notes of Rose d’Homme can only be described as extremely obvious – I found it very easy to deconstruct. One gets exactly what one was promised, and what’s more, at the exact sequence that was promised too! The opening comprises of spicy citrus that smells positively aged, so reminiscent of vintage French cologne that it easily brought back the same feelings of guilt I once got as a toddler when I accidentally spilled the remnants of an old fragrance my grandmother’s brother had brought back from Paris and was unable to wash off my hands to hide the evidence. The woody, citrus opening soon softens enough to allow lavender and hay to permeate the surface, lending the fragrance an intensely soapy and slightly powdery feel. I have to say that this is most certainly not my favorite rendition of lavender, but then again none of the notes in Rose d’Homme show their best side to my senses. In fact, the more the development progresses, the more trouble I have finding things to appreciate about this fragrance. At the drydown stage, a soft, old-fashioned rose is struggling to disentangle itself from the oppressing, cruel embrace of leather infused with patchouli. It is at this point I usually decide this must be some sort of noxious poison meant for the male skin. And it is certainly not the skin of a long-lashed dandy, but that of an oily, heavy-set man, whose leer I’d rather avoid. It can be described as mature, and not in a good way. Despite my obvious disappointment and current dislike of Rose d’Homme I do have to admit that it does deserve attention. It is not a run of the mill male fragrance that is likely to produce a yawn. If there is one thing that has remained constant since my initial evaluation, is its state of uniqueness when compared to current releases. For that reason, I do wholeheartedly suggest that it be experienced at least once. Who knows, perhaps you can appreciate it more than I do.

The image is the work of Leslie Hancock, sourced from

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

L’Inspiratrice by Divine : Perfume Review

I am not a patchouli hater. No, I am not. Not anymore, that is. I have long enjoyed patchouli as an accompanying note to complex fragrance blends, but have never been able to stand it as a dominant single note, either in high-end fragrances or in oils. Patchouli to me had been interminably associated with headshops, incense sticks that would make me gag, nausea-inducing candles and cheap oils from Body Shop. Nevermore. Not since L’Inspiratrice came into my life, showing me that patchouli can be affective, eloquent, beautiful, inspiring. L’Inspiratrice is to me everything I wanted Prada to be. I never did manage to love Prada nor did I think any perfume so dominated by patchouli could ever become an instant love. It feels wonderful to be proven wrong. Every time I manage to fall in love with a previously unloved note I feel a weight lifting from my shoulders. Learning to love leather through wonderful creations such as Cabochard, Bandit and Piver’s Cuir de Russie was like leaving a ball and chain behind and walking towards freedom. Learning to love patchouli through L’Inspiratrice, it feels like finally, a pair of shackles that was keeping me bound has been broken. My heart is lifted. Perhaps all this sounds like a hyperbole; after all there is no harm in avoiding certain notes. But for a perfume lover, surely, the sense of freedom one attains once yet another barrier has been broken feels like a true gift.

Despite the fact that L’Inspiratrice is meant to be a marriage between patchouli and rose, to me it is predominantly a patchouli scent. I do not know whether it is a shortcoming of my own senses or the result of such an expert blending process, which makes the rose almost indiscernible to my nose. I, perhaps arrogantly, like to think the latter - imagining that the rose has been given a masterful supporting role, meant only as an enhancer to the wondrous beauty of patchouli, the Diva, the seductress, l’inspiratrice. And if perhaps I can imagine the rose’s presence in the opening – and that only after closing my eyes and inhaling deeply – I certainly lose track of its trail completely as the development of this fragrance progresses. I make a conscious decision to not dwell on any of the supporting notes much; I can only be thankful for the fact that they have managed to embrace patchouli with such finess that I, previously unmoved by its charms have managed to see the light, brought to my knees by its redolent beauty. No other note seems to warrant mention. Would it even matter if I told you that behind its luscious trail my skin is caressed by gorgeous, deep musk and the softest vanilla? No... What seems more important is to speak to you of how it unfolds, occupying a myriad of textures with every secret smile. From the fresh leaves of the plant in my palm, to those very leaves rubbed against hard thick leather; from heavy, dark velvet shielding my bare skin like a cloak, to gossamer blue and orange veils billowing from my form once more after having been put away in a chest filled with those now dry leaves for years and years. But L’Inspiratrice is more than just a story of textures, though even that aspect alone would have been enough to impress. L’Inspiratrice is a woman full of mystery, whose stare is full of enchanting magnetism. Her allure is dark and bewitching, as though her blood itself is hot with the essence of dark magic. And yet despite that, she is elevated above anything even remotely common. Her beauty is no trickery; her sorcery is a golden cage she has constructed for herself. Her exquisite charm is foreboding, leaving lips burning with feverish desire -but it is at once forbidding – her ship will always be flying a touch-me-not banner.

Pictures courtesy of and

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Perles de Lalique : Perfume Review

I first encountered Perles de Lalique sometime last year while on a trip abroad. That first encounter was with the parfum concentration, in its feather-adorned flacon. Considered pretty by many, it was the actual flacon that put me off trying the actual jus on my skin, making me decide it was not worth skin-space at that particular moment. I now regret this, of course. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I would not come across the parfum concentration again. Hindsight is 20/20, as they say... I finally came across the EdP concentration on a day of perfume sampling in another city, (those of you who’ve been reading for a while will likely guess it was indeed on a Saturday morning!) and this time I did not hesitate to try it on my skin. Smelling it for the first time, I was instantly intrigued. I considered the fact that the instant attraction I felt might be due to the fact that Perles came as a sigh of relief after having previously exposed my senses to a number of other, quite disappointing creations on the same day, but I reserved hope that it was the actual quality of the fragrance that enticed me. I have now finished two little samples of Perles de Lalique and I can finally safely say that its original allure has not subsided, but has on the contrary grown. What started off as interest and attraction has developed into affection and respect.

I imagine that the opening notes of Perles might be experienced by some as rather alarming: a blend of spicy, citrucy and very pungent geranium and Bulgarian rose effortlessly wrap around the skin like a vintage lace cuff. This tart opening has just enough sourness to keep things interesting; a yellow-ringed cobalt blue snake that upon closer inspection is not really poisonous. Behind these initial sharp edges, a smooth, flatter base is struggling to emerge, enabling the wearer to experience two dimensions at once as the fragrance begins to develop on the skin. Inhaling close, one can begin to appreciate the polished character of iris forming a harmonious amalgam with that very distinctive love-me-or-hate-me quality of musty white pepper. The woody, mossy notes at the base of this simple yet beautiful blend, bequeath a rather masculine element to the end result, ever so slightly reminiscent of Z by Zegna. This probably comes as no surprise, since iris, cashmere woods, patchouli, oak moss and white pepper are notes they both share. Subsequently, I find myself thinking that Perles de Lalique is a good candidate for a female fragrance that can be carried off equally well by both sexes. I have not yet experienced its development on male skin, but I can say that on me, Perles is a subdued but beautiful chypre. It is all sensible earrings and perfect hair, calm sophistication and self-confidence that form a vision of immaculate dignity. Yes, for me Perles de Lalique was one of the most pleasant surprises of the year 2006.

Images courtesy of and

Monday, June 4, 2007

Vanderbilt by Gloria Vanderbilt : Perfume Review

Vanderbilt was given to me as a gift years ago. My initial feeling towards it was indifference: Nice enough, but most definitely not me. Ten minutes later I was knocked back by its intensity, left reeling in a nauseous state of despair that no amount of washing liquid would help subside. Yet, I could not bring myself to give it away. I feared its effects, every cell of my body still remembering the reaction it caused, but I still somehow craved to smell it again and again, intrigued and beguiled. I’d only dare sniff the stopper, fearing a repeat performance of my erstwhile experience. After several such experiments that only served to make that strange attraction grow, I decided to let go of my fears and test it on my skin once more. Tense and fearful, I sprayed my wrist gingerly, awaiting the inevitable dizziness and revulsion I had associated so strongly with that first encounter. It never came – I was inoculated. I took the bottle out of its box that day and displayed amidst my other fragrances. It had been accepted.

Years later, the small, delicate bottle still stands on my dressing table practically full – I’ve never worn it outside the house. It is not a perfume that is easy to wear. Even though I love strong, assertive perfumes that make their presence known, I find Vanderbilt goes well beyond that call of duty. It is as subtle as a bomb, as gentle as a punch in the mouth. Yet, there is something inexplicably attractive to it, something that has me reaching for it –albeit rarely- from time to time. A certain quality that makes me want to spray a tiny bit of it on my skin every once in a while, mostly in times of stress. And a tiny bit is all it takes, its sillage being so potent that I am left tasting it with every fiber of my being, my tongue left in a state of shock as though I just swallowed a great big gulp of it. Where is the attraction coming from, then? Perhaps it is the fact that when I smell Vanderbilt I have no choice but to give in and let go. All my senses are hijacked by its furious mélange of flowers: forceful tuberose crowned with jasmine, dancing in a circle of carnations, roses and ylang-ylang. The dance is led by a most convincing orange blossom, full of nectar. Unmistakably fizzy aldehydes make the pineapple juice in the blend sparkle with effervescence, while sandalwood and musk fight to hold everything together. It leaves me unable to consider anything else: its unforgiving potent sweetness renders me unable to recall the scent of anything else I’ve ever known and makes me unable to concentrate on anything quite unpleasant, for it fills my mind completely. It is no wonder then, I favor it at times of stress. It is my own persimmon, my fruit of Lethe.

Even while wearing Vanderbilt myself, my mind always dissociates the perfume from my own body. It is never me whose wearing it, but someone else. Sometimes it is someone with a beautifully cut, pastel-colored tweed deux-pièces. Someone wearing too much powder and pearly, frosted pink lipstick, long out of fashion. Sometimes it is Gloria Vanderbilt herself, all dressed up for a summer gala. Her perfume is neither elegant nor refined. It is utterly feminine though, even while brash. I’ll never have to replace it, for I will never use it up. Those one or two sprays per year are enough reason for me to keep it. Perhaps as good a reason as the little swan on the bottle, delicately unfurling its wings under the cheap stopper, a subtle nod to the early spirit of eighties which spawned it.

Picture of Vanderbilt perfume courtesy of
Picture of Gloria Vanderbilt courtesy of

Saturday, June 2, 2007

A Slow Week

Dear readers,
This week has been slightly slower in regards to updates than usual. This is because I have two really important exams (my last ones this year!) coming up this Tuesday. To make things even more complicated, the coming weekend is the date set for a cultural event I have been organizing this whole year, so both myself and my colleagues have been in a complete state of panic. The efforts of a year are culminating on a single day and I have to ensure the success of the event. My stress levels have reached heights previously unthought of! So please, do forgive me if updates will be slightly more sporadic until the 10th of June - I really cannot help it. I am still writing of course, as you have seen with the reviews of Annayake and today's review of Initial by Boucheron and I am already preparing another review for before the 5th, but things are following a slightly slower pace than usual. Updates will pick up again and find their usual rhythm after I am freed from the obligations mentioned above. Thank you for your understanding!


Initial by Boucheron : Perfume Review

I am always impressed with the way Boucheron explores their jeweler’s heritage in their perfume bottle designs, a tradition which begun with the launch of Boucheron Femme in 1988, with a gorgeous, ring-shaped flacon. Jaipur, launched in 1994, is yet another example of this tradition. The bottle, shaped like a beautiful bracelet, inspired the most evocative advertising campaigns - still emblazoned in my mind more than a decade later. It took me years to start loving pearls, but even so, when Initial was launched in 2000, in a bottle shaped like a teardrop pearl charm, I just had to smell it. Pearls... Iridescent, soft, elegant, lustrous... All the things I wanted Initial to smell like. I made a wish, despite the fact that I find most Boucheron perfumes much too overwhelming, with very few exceptions. My hopes were high. What’s in a bottle? I wanted opalescent rain on my skin; I wanted the snow of the winter fairy in my hair, red berries on my lips and musk on my collarbone. I was served disappointment instead.

The first whiff of Initial is promising, living up to what the flacon leads one to expect. Soft talcum powder, a baby’s soft skin takes me by surprise. I am used to smelling powder in the drydown and this innovative turn of events is very welcome, engaging my interest as I marvel at the ability of the originally powdery, soapy scent to bloom into something spicier and spicier. Tangy citrus shavings follow, warming up on the skin and confusing me once again as they enhance the premature appearance of a wood accord. My confusion leads me to follow this development with interest, even though I already know I’ve been fooled by clever design once again. As soon as this thought strikes me, the mask falls. Where has the creamy, sensual innocence of pearls gone? My senses try to adjust to the fact that all the sheer beauty of musky, powdery tangerine is rapidly being swallowed by an effusively gilded golden whale, swimming in an ocean of overwhelmingly flowery patchouli. The shy hints of sweetness have transformed in a syrupy, toothsome extravaganza. Demented Oompa-Loompas are slathering lashings of honey on delicate flower petals that can but wilt under the immense weight and warmth of the sticky goop. I need to run away, but as though in a bad dream, I am continuously engaged in conversation by an imaginary president of the Parent-Teacher Association. Initial is having no trouble masking the mothball-scent exuding from her woolen clothes and she is invariably wearing pearls. I’ll just have to wash her off.

Pictures courtesy of and