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 :)