Monday, September 29, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet Loves... Silky Soft Skin: Nourishing Body Oil Recipe

Your skin knows it’s fall and worst of all, it shows. Sun exposure in the previous months, the cold winds that are starting to blow ever chillier with each day that passes and the dry indoors climate created by central heating leaves our skin looking... well, slightly reptilian. Not a good look. Left alone to its own devices, the skin of my legs and arms has the propensity to start looking as dry and arid as the Sahara desert and only industrial strength moisturizers of the highest quality manage to produce any sort of results worthy to speak of. Like any beauty junky, I fail to form monogamous, faithful relationships with almost any beauty product, but that is especially true when it comes to body moisturizers: I am always looking for the next best thing, that elusive holy grail product that will transform the surface of my appendages to the baby-soft ideal I have in my head. During the summer however, I concocted a little cocktail of nourishing oils whose results are so impressive I just have to share the recipe with you. Is this my HG of body moisturizers, the one for which I forsake all others now and forever? Well... yes and no. Considering I am rather lazy, the fact that I have to make this product myself every time I run out definitely counts against it. Too, I am not always in the mood for a product with an oily texture (nor do I feel inclined to use an oil when I am about to wear clothes), so for the occasions I need something that sinks in faster I fall back on my regular favorite body butters, lotions and serums. However, there’s nothing else I’ve ever tried that even remotely comes close to matching the results of this little homemade preparation. For the first time in my life I’ve (rather ridiculously perhaps) invited people to touch my skin just to see how incredibly, unbelievably soft it is. For the first time in my life, I’ve caught myself touching my legs each night just to get that little thrill, coupled with the disbelief of one who has suffered dry skin for years and has suddenly found that things needn’t be so. “Is this my skin??? ... This is my skin!!!” The best part? The results are long lasting. Most moisturizers leave the skin supple and soft for some hours but the results are soon reversed as many of us who moisturize at night and find our skin feeling dry in the morning know. Using this oil regularly, I’ve found that even when I skip a night or two my skin retains its elasticity, moisture and softness.

Now, for the recipe. It’s simple really. You need to use equal parts of the following oils:

1 part Sweet Almond Oil: Sweet Almond oil is obtained from the edible seed of sweet almond trees (Almond Dulcis), and it has been used as a skin-softening agent for centuries. One of the key words in beauty and health in the past few years is of course Omega-3 fatty acids; Almond oil is indeed extremely rich in those, as well as in a variety of minerals and vitamins including D & E. It is calming, nourishing, balances the loss and absorption of moisture, and is of course, as already mentioned, softening.

1 part Jojoba Oil: Jojoba is a fruiting shrub whose mature seeds produce a liquid wax, Jojoba oil, one of nature’s own miracle cosmetic products. It is an absolutely fantastic moisturizer that is chemically very similar to human sebum meaning it has great affinity with our skin. Jojoba oil reduces the skin’s water loss while still allowing it to breathe and it improves elasticity. It speeds and aids the healing process of the skin and it is also a fungicide.

1 part Avocado Oil: Avocado Oil, yet another miracle worker, is pressed from the flesh of the Avocado fruit. It is rich in vitamins A, B, C and E, amino acids, lecithin, sterolins, potassium, proteins and unsaturated fatty acids. It helps heal sun damage, reduce age spots and heal skin that has been exposed to climate damage. Extremely nourishing, moisturizing, regenerating, collagen increasing and deeply penetrating, this is probably THE best oil for dry skin.

1 part Calendula Oil: Calendula Officinalis is a flowering plant, also known as Pot Marigold. No oil can be obtained from the flowers of course, so the Calendula Oil bought in health stores is a result of maceration of the flower in another oil. I suggest Calendula which has been macerated in Soya Oil, which is itself a great oil for the skin, rich in antioxidants and vitamins and wonderful in its own right for its nourishing and moisturizing properties. (Check the ingredients list and make sure that what you are getting only lists two ingredients: Calendula Officinalis and Clycine Soya, or Soybean Oil). Now on to Calendula, which is yet another all natural magical ingredient. Extremely calming and soothing, Calendula will soothe red, itchy and irritated skin and is a natural anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial and antiseptic. It is absolutely excellent for the skin, acting in a regenerative manner, healing dry and even cracked and wounded skin. I have been using calendula for many years and for various little problems and I simply cannot sing its praises enough!

Okay, so now you know why all these oils work! Is there more to know? Well, while three out of four of these oils have no or almost no scent (jojoba oil has a very light scent even when unrefined), unrefined avocado oil, (the only type which I can find around here) unfortunately really does smell vegetal and it will probably make your skin smell sort of like a used salad bowl. Yeah, not very pleasant. If you can find refined avocado oil (I’ve no doubt that the North American readers will be able to in their excellent health and food stores) then you’re very lucky indeed. For the rest of us, but also for those that wish to add some scent to this recipe, the solution is a mixture of essential oils that pleases your senses. Please be aware that essential oils have to be used with care and dilution instructions have to be followed. Go for high quality oils (found in dark blue or brown bottles to prevent exposure to light). Most importantly my advice for everyone with not sufficient knowledge of essential oils is to use those that are generally very safe for skin even when dosage is accidentally exceeded. Such very safe, non-skin sensitizing oils are rose, sandalwood, myrrh, patchouli, and ylang ylang. Another good solution is to use perfumed oils of your preference that are already prepared for direct skin use. However, only the pure, non-perfumed preparation is safe for use on areas that are suffering from severe skin conditions such as eczema. Lastly, make sure to scrub well before using this oil mixture for the first time: A clean, free of dead cells canvas will allow you to experience the fastest results.

Container: My favorite containers for this oil mixture are Sephora’s “Express” bottles, sold in threes together with two little jars in a little beauty bag. These are meant to be filled with your cosmetics of choice for travel I believe. They hold a good amount and the product is dispensed through a little hole, which provides me with adequate control.

Warnings: Do not use if you have a nut allergy. Remember to do a skin-patch test before using to test for sensitivity.

Images: Flickr by: guivax, monstershaq2000 and preciouskhyatt,

Friday, September 26, 2008

Harry Slatkin’s Home Scents for Fall

You all probably know about my obsession with pumpkin scents (yes, still looking for a pumpkin skin scent, by the way...) by now. A couple of weeks ago I included L’Occitane’s Pumpkin Chestnut candle in the Harvest Moon PFTO feature, the only product I know of from which I get my pumpkin kicks so far. The press release for Harry Slatkin’s brand new fall home scents has me all excited however! Finally pumpkin is getting a lot more attention! I can promise you that if these products come my way there’ll definitely be a review as I am very anxious to smell them, but until then I can at least introduce the line to you.

The product I am most excited about is this one, simply called Pumpkin. The scent sounds absolutely delicious, featuring notes of fresh pumpkin, ground cinnamon, brown sugar and vanilla cream. Can I just say YUM? I also love the look of this product and imagine that it would look fantastic in the center of a decorative Fall centerpiece of fruits and nuts. (Yes, in my head I am a domestic goddess who regularly puts together beautiful seasonal centerpieces for her home. Don’t ask about the reality of the situation. Just know that if you actually are that woman, you have my envious respect. D’you hear that, mom?) Retails at 19.50 dollars.

I generally don’t get along very well with caramel notes, but if the fruity notes of this candle manage to cut the sweetness of the caramel, this should be very beautiful indeed. Caramel Pumpkin combines whipped pumpkin puree, buttery caramel and a succulent seasonal fruit medley of ripe plum, crisp apple and juicy nectarine. I love the look of this product as well, imagining it would sit just perfectly in a country-style kitchen. Retails at 12.50 dollars.

May I just re-assert for the third time that Harry Slatkin has done a beautiful job with the appearance of these new products? How cute and adorable as well as perfect for autumn is this acorn shaped candle jar? This one features notes of golden nectar, juicy mandarin and red delicious apple are paired with toasted cinnamon stick, mulled cider spices and freshly harvested red berries and retails for 12.50 dollars.

Harry Slatkin’s new fall line also includes autumnal leaf-scented bars of soaps and in anticipation of Halloween, a number of whimsical votives and wallflowers. If you are planning to decorate the house for the children, my favorite product is probably this Snow Globe, featuring a naughty light-up pumpkin and “snowflakes” shaped like bats! I tend to find many of the Halloween decorations out there pretty tacky, but this little object is truly delightful instead!

PS: If you hadn’t noticed, the first sentence of this post includes a cry for help. No, seriously. If you know of a fragrance featuring pumpkin, you have to tell me.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Feerie by Van Cleef & Arpels : Perfume Review

Feerie (pronounced “FAYrie” and meaning Fairy in Flemish as well as Fairyhood in French) is Van Cleef & Arpels’ newest fragrance. The flacon’s marvelous design echoes the theme of their Midsummer Night’s Dream jewelry collection, which even though too archetypically girly for my tastes, is so breathtakingly beautiful it makes your heart break a little just looking at it. Now, even though I am not a girly jewelry type of girl, anything whimsical, fanciful, capricious and extraordinary in the perfume bottle department catches my eye and attracts me in the same manner a magpie is attracted to anything that glimmers. When I saw pictures of this bottle I couldn’t help but feel compelled to buy it. Surely this looks like something that one just has to own? If this isn’t a perfume bottle meant to sit on a dresser, then what is? Well, call me finicky, but unfortunately the bottle doesn’t quite live up to expectations ‘in the flesh’. Don’t get me wrong; it is beautiful, just not as stunning as the pictures originally led me to think. Whatever could be my problem with it, you ask? I am afraid it is the faceted blue glass part of the flacon that I find disappointing. In the pictures it appears to be delicate enough to allow light to permeate through, allowing one to gaze upon the perfume within as though it were a starlit blue lagoon over which Titania, Queen of Fairies was ever present. In reality, it is a thick, hefty, almost opaque and rather dull-colored blue hand grenade that does nothing to excite the imagination. And if I’m allowed to complain just a little bit more, I’ll just have to say that I really wanted Van Cleef & Arpels to pull a Lolita Lempicka on us and let us spray through the fairy, instead of making her just a cap. Well all right. It’s still rather pretty, I guess.

I am just as surprised at rather liking the juice within as I am at not falling in love with the bottle. The opening is briefly gentle and light – a tiny bit of buttery iris, a smidgen of green freshness and slightly sugary violet leaves. After the subtle, pretty intro, the intensity suddenly picks up: the aroma of dark cassis berres, appropriately and quite realistically sweet and sour fills the air. At first their edible aroma is briefly touched by sparkling citrus fruit, subsequently is it rounded beautifully with a certain nutty flavor and when that too (all too soon!) disappears the fragrance settles into its longest stage: berries strewn over dusty yet effusive rose. At once sweet and dry, this interplay should normally hold my interest, but unfortunately I find the intense rose scent very, very disagreeable and I cannot detect the promised jasmine at all. A great disappointment, since I found the first ten minutes of Feerie’s development extremely promising. The drydown is simple, gently floral in an abstract way, greenish and quite delicate, with hints of musk. For my tastes it lacks warmth and depth and I have to say that this is the most generic and insipid stage of a quite well done perfume, which is a shame. All in all I found the top and middle of the development quite interesting; they resemble, as Abigail astutely pointed out Creed’s Love in Black “minus the edginess”.

Images: Folie des Pres Fairy Clip, Envole Bracelet, Feerie bottle and Feerie Timepiece images, all

Monday, September 22, 2008

Power by Kenzo & 1 Million by Paco Rabanne : Perfume Reviews

Kenzo’s Power and Paco Rabanne’s 1 Million are undoubtedly two of the most highly anticipated masculine commercial fragrance releases for fall 2008. Based on their notes, I had high hopes for both: Flirting with floral notes and incorporating some re-introduced, rather more avant-garde notes, both seemed to belong to this new wave of mainstream masculine perfume offerings determined to break the boring mold set in the last two decades. I was prepared to love both, but how did they really measure up after the skin test? Well... Let’s just begin by saying that Power did not disappoint...

Power by Kenzo: While the scent will probably seem rather demure at first and this discrepancy between the juice and the name is bound to cause some bafflement, Power’s forcefulness does manifest itself, albeit in less expected ways, the most salient of which is its powerhouse sillage! And this is cause for surprise once again, for one hardly expects such a gentle-smelling perfume to have such an intense projection even when applied with the lightest hand. Already, the seasoned perfumista’s interest is piqued due to the contradiction. Add to this the fact that it is extremely long-lasting and one begins to really appreciate the strength of Power. One of the most distinctive characteristics of this perfume is its strange, unorthodox development; Even though I can’t in good conscience describe it as linear, it certainly doesn’t follow the conventional top-middle-base pyramid development and its changes are very subtle. The best way to describe it would be to say that it is like listening to the same music piece, with different instruments amplified over time so that the attention is drawn to each one separately in different time intervals. Throughout, Power remains marvelously bittersweet and keeps the same floral component constant – a floral note that is synthesized and actually supposed to be abstract, but is however translated very distinctly by my senses as blue lotus, the same bittersweet, slightly banana-scented flower used in copious amounts in Annayake’s Pour Elle. The different impressions, the aforementioned ‘amplified instruments’ that slowly make their appearance one after the other are iris butter (used much more discreetly than it has been in Polge’s past genius creations), powder, cardamom, tolu, soft abstract woods and a grassy accord that brings to mind images of ponds and marshes and all the flora that favors these environs, like calamus and water lilies. I just love this.

1 Million by Paco Rabanne: Unlike the minimalist chic, esthetically pleasing presentation of Kenzo’s Power, 1 Million’s flacon is in your face, gauche, trashy and unappealing. Unfortunately, my problems with this perfume don’t stop at the bottle. In fact, I have been struggling with the thought of having to apply this once more on my skin for the purposes of this review. Borderline headache inducing and pervasive, this one is definitely a scrubber for me. There is a truly beautiful sweet mint note in the opening which seems to mingle with smoky dark vetiver, producing a fantastic chilly metallic effect surrounded by smoke and this is just about the only thing I love about 1 Million. In hindsight, I realize this is because this is the exact same lovely metallic mint scent found in my beloved Fahrenheit 32. Unfortunately, the effect is spoiled by a rather cheap citrus fruit and strong berries combo that is impossible to ignore. Too, almost immediately I become aware of an ever intensifying, cloying sweetness that will persist throughout the development. Imagine this: Minty coolness and heavy sweetness clashing... What do you get? Yes, a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. And truly, everything about 1 Million is felt there, deep down in the belly; It produces the sort of scent that the body instinctively rejects, as though it has just consumed something that didn’t seem right. The heart notes seal the disaster for me, with soft, fresh, dewy rose being smothered by tobacco flower and leaves and bland synthetic leather. Blessedly, 1 Million gives up the fight about half an hour after application and fades into a rather less inoffensive drydown. The sweetness calms down becoming tolerable, nice even, and the spicy tobacco flower is allowed to blend with the innocent woody/ambery basenotes. My strongest and probably most defining impressions of this perfume is that it is very heavy, smells dated and lacks even the merest hint of youthfulness.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Love in Black by Creed : Perfume Review

Although I am by no means acquainted with their entire line, which means that what I am about to say should be taken with a grain of salt, Creed perfumes have left me underwhelmed for the most part – something that is probably reflected in the fact that I have not reviewed any of them so far. However, their newest offering has taken me by surprise. Love in Black, also briefly mentioned in this month’s Perfume for the Occasion is the first Creed perfume that has really grabbed my interest. As it is absolutely perfect for fall, I believe this is the best time for a more extended review.

Okay, lets start with the good news: Love in Black has an absolutely breathtaking opening! A couple of seconds of bracing, almost fruity sharpness shocks the nose into attention. What follows is pure indulgence: a delicious (and I mean mouthwateringly so) blend of nutty notes that unfolds ever so gently while still presenting the wearer with full-bodied appeal. If I absolutely had to be more specific, I’d have to name hazelnuts, fresh, sweet almonds and hints of chocolaty nougat, but in all honesty, the full effect is quite abstract. Aside from delicious, this nutty blend is also extremely comforting. As it is soon joined by the most marvelously creamy, whipped and oh-so buttery iris and sweet violet, the scent’s embrace becomes all the more satiny and luxurious. Slowly, the scent starts changing, first by becoming earthier and then by acquiring beautiful dry/dusty quality that reminds me a bit of pomegranate skin. About an hour later, the wonderful, warm buttery scent shows the first signs of freshness (uh-oh) and the woody scent of cedar also becomes more obvious, although it will still remain quite mild for a while. Now for the bad news: (I sort of tipped you off at the beginning there, didn’t I?) About an hour and a half or so after application you will notice some extreme changes. The nutty flavor is by now completely gone and the lovely iris-violet is hiding somewhere in the background, requiring deep inhalations to be detected. Having detected the biggest crime, lets move on to what we’re left with, shall we? Dusty pomegranate and berries, cedar (which has by now acquired a good bit of the smokiness one expects from good essential cedar oil), and conventional rose. I am not trying to say that Love in Black falls apart in the drydown; that would be unfair. It does however pull an extreme transformation, which I am most definitely not happy with. The drydown is completely incongruent with the beautiful, dark, comforting top and heart notes that I have admittedly fallen in love with. This leaves me feeling a bit cheated out of a fragrance-love and I can’t help but lament the disappearance of all that goodness. I would have honestly preferred a more linear scent; I’d have sacrificed the full development for the very special, luxurious and warm scent this could have been. Having said this, I definitely recommend you try this yourself. Not only so that you can experience the full glory of the top and heart notes, but also because you just might be able to tolerate the drydown better than me. I still believe this is one of the best releases for this fall. As for me? Well, I won’t be buying this one but having almost fallen in love with it I am once again motivated to explore the Creed line better.

Images: and

Monday, September 15, 2008

Pacifica’s Fall Solid Perfumes

Pacifica has a great many fans, which comes as no surprise: Fabulous, high quality and (most importantly) safe candles as well as layer-able, very affordable spray fragrances in extremely visually pleasing presentations and ever since last spring, wonderful little tins of joy – Pacifica’s solid scents – all make the brand not only popular, but also much loved.

As promised, today we take a look at Pacifica’s brand new solids for fall. Let me start by saying that the presentations, in the usual Pacifica style are simply amazing: The only word to describe them is adorable! So adorable in fact, that I promise you, once you have one, it will be impossible to stop there – you’ll want to have more of these beauties handy. The matchbox-sized boxes are gorgeously designed and the attention to detail is evident - each one bears the following quote by writer Stanislas Jean de Bouffler on its side: “Pleasure is the flower that passes remembrance, the lasting perfume”. The darling, wonderfully tactile tins found within, each contain 10 grams of organic coconut and soy wax solid perfume. If you, like me, take pleasure out of finding little things to give as presents to your friends out of the blue, these will make the perfect little gift idea and are sure to delight. Given their compact size, these are also perfect to toss into your bag (or even evening clutch!) to refresh your perfume during the day. Needless to say, their size, weight and solid nature also make them the ideal travel companion. As is most often the case with solid fragrances, the scents stay quite close to the skin; you will be able to enjoy them on yourself for hours, but only those that sit close to you will be able to detect them, which means that these are also perfect for work and other occasions when you do not wish your scent to overpower those around you.

· Avalon Juniper: This one has a juicy, edible, orange-fruit opening, which soon turns fresh and then slowly progresses to an earthy, spicy sweetness as it blends with light cinnamon and juniper. The aromatic scent of juniper berries brings to mind the warming properties of Jenever, the Dutch juniper berry liquor. As such, Avalon Juniper seems like the perfect scent to provide the sweet, warming sensation needed to fight the late Autumn frost.

· Madagascar Spice: Oh my! For those of you of Greek descent, this gorgeous oriental scent is going to strike a chord: It smells exactly like the absolutely yummy delicacies the Greeks favor during Christmas time, called Melomakarona. These are syrupy macaroons that ideally have a crunchy exterior and a soft interior and are sprinkled with crushed walnuts. Their most defining flavor is clove, which is also the star of this fragrance as the name indicates (Madagascar being the major producer of this wonderful spice). Aromatic orange rind, clove and a hint of crushed black pepper make this probably the most evocative fragrance of the quintet for me!

· Spanish Amber: This lovely bittersweet fragrance is inspired by a scent Pacifica co-founder Brook Harvey Taylor discovered in an old apothecary in Madrid. Especially when sniffed straight from the tin, the scent reminds me a good bit of Westwood’s Let it Rock. Once gently massaged into the skin the scent first blooms into a beautiful resinous earthiness with hints of dusty, rosy geranium and subsequently reveals an even warmer core of creamy sandalwood, dry patchouli and if I’m not mistaken, green cardamom.

· Tibetan Mountain Temple: Smoky vetiver and dark patchouli snake around the glowing core of exhilarating ginger and cloved orange like incense smoke before stained glass. This beautiful scent juxtaposes darkness against the intricate play of light in a rhythmic, absolutely comforting manner. After a while, we’re left with a smooth, velvety sweetness that is the scented equivalent of a cashmere sweater.

· Mexican Cocoa: This absolutely scrumptious gourmand is my favorite of the new Pacifica solids, and the only one with a traditional (albeit rather rapid) development. The opening is a blast of warm bitter almond that combines the delicious smooth sweetness of the paste with the intense bitter fragrance of the essence. It literarily makes me want to nibble on my arm! In the heart notes the warmth becomes spicy, fusing nutmeg with cinnamon and delightful, pearlescent hints of coconut cream. Finally, the delicious base notes are filled with the luscious darkness of chocolate smoothed over with the comforting sweetness of vanilla. I absolutely love this scent – it’s pure goodness!

Pacifica’s Fall Solid Perfumes retail for 8.95$ each and can be purchased directly from the official website, Anthropologie stores as well as select department stores and boutiques which carry the line.


Friday, September 12, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet: Back on Monday

Dear Readers,

As you probably noticed there's only been one post this week. The new term has begun at the university and I am suddenly swamped with work. I am trying to get everything organized and smoothly-flowing this weekend, so you can expect to see Fragrance Bouquet back on Monday with a post on Pacifica's new fall beauties.

See you then!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Perfume for the Occasion: Harvest Moon

“Won’t you light the fire darling? I don’t think the summer is coming back...”

The last two weeks of August hid behind a silvery curtain of rain, but still I held hope that the blissful warmth of summer would make a comeback, allowing me to get a little more wear out of my sandals and chiffon shifts. But even as the sun shone the last couple of days, painting the university campus with colorful dots of students studying, smoking and laughing outside the buildings, the wind had carried a chill that sent shivers down our spines. We wore boots instead of sandals, thick jackets instead of light fabrics. The leaves are falling, producing a satisfying crunch under our footsteps. The first mushrooms can already be seen growing next to the thick trunks of trees. It’s Fall.

September must truly be the prince of Fall, full of promise for the year to come, full of novelty for business, academics and a social life that is warming up again and starting to roll as friends come together again after their summer vacations. Swathed in autumn’s new, deeply hued fabrics, it’s out with the old and in with the new for fashion. And the riches keep coming in: September’s knee deep in grapes, making wine. The Harvest Moon brings with it an abundance of grains, nuts and mushrooms. It’s the time of plenty. All this richness has inspired me to suggest that this month we not only embrace, but also pay homage to the season’s prince with perfumes befitting his precious gifts.

Rice: My favorite rice-scented perfume is Kenzo’s Amour, which just induces me to keep sniffing my wrist whenever I have it on. Its opening might seem slightly off-putting to some, since there is a strange heliotrope-plastic accord there, but if you wait just a bit you will be rewarded with a beautiful milky rice-scented heart with all the goodness of rice pudding. YUM! Kenzoki Rice Steam (Sensuel), also by Kenzo, is a fragrant mist meant to be sprayed all over the body, which perfumes and moisturizes the skin at the same time. Its steamed rice accord smells warm, gentle and comforting. It slowly fades into a soft skin-scent smelling vaguely of musk and clean skin. Ormonde Jayne’s Champaca is a gorgeous creation that will perfectly complement this Fall’s richly hued floral dresses but will also comfort the senses with its fragrant, basmati rice accord.

Nuts: I love perfumes with a distinct nutty accord and to my pleasant surprise many recent releases seem to be taking full advantage of the nuts’ autumnal appeal. Bond No. 9’s newest, Lexington Avenue, reveals an intense, beautiful roasted almond paste scent in its opening that is absolutely delicious. Even though the scent thins to reveal a blooming heart as time progresses, this nutty aspect remains a constant in this gourmand’s development. Secret Obsession’s heart in turn, is filled with the earthy nuttiness of a freshly cracked walnut. This beautiful walnut note is rich, buttery and very sexy indeed. Lastly, Creed’s brand new Love in Black, includes the most delicious, mouthwatering blend of nuts whipped with iris butter and cacao. Mmmmm!

Fruit: Burberry is the line I most readily turn to for my dose of Fall fruit. Burberry Brit, with its crystalline note of pear is sure to bring cheerfulness to any dreary old day, and even though I must admit I favor it in warm weather, I’ve lately found that it is perfect for early fall. Burberry Classic on the other hand, is an excellent example of apple rendered perfectly in a dry sophisticated composition, instead of the usual cinnamon laden wintry offerings (nothing wrong with those), or in an awful saccharine juice (the latter however are very wrong indeed!). I love Burberry Classic, which transforms into one of the most glorious fuse-with-my-own-skin-scents I know of in its drydown. It never fails to garner compliments and I always feel wonderful when I wear it.

Celebration: Are you familiar with the Harvest Moon Festival? Why not wear I am a Dandelion by CB I Hate Perfume on the day of the full moon, in honor of the traditional dandelion leaf custom of the day?

...and one for the house: It has to be my beloved Pumpkin Chestnuts candle by L’Occitane of course. Don’t be fooled by the way! Pumpkin might be more associated with October, but the truth is they make their appearance in September, along with squash, waiting to be made into delicious soup. This candle smells deliciously buttery, earthy, nutty and vanillic and will make the room smell oh-so-delightfully cozy.

The end of summer is always difficult to accept, but I hope this month’s Perfume for the Occasion has not only given you many ideas, but has also inspired you to embrace September with a smile and of course, the appropriate scent.

Images:, Flickr by Surplusparts, Visualpanic and Spiralz,

Friday, September 5, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet Loves... Sniffapalooza

Today I want to give a shout-out to all the people involved in the wonderful effort that is the Sniffapalooza online magazine! As a registered reader of the magazine, I received an email two days ago from editor in chief Raphaella Brescia Barkley, to let us know that Michelyn Camen’s wonderful recent article proved to be not only intriguing for readers, but for perfumers as well. Following the publication, master perfumer Michel Roudnitska signed the Sniffapalooza guestbook, making all of us readers feel just a little bit starstruck and very much closer to the people whose wonderful creations we admire. Raphaella’s email touched me with its gladsome passion: I want to thank her and all the contributing writers for raising awareness to the fact that there is indeed a group of people that consider perfumery to be an art form they deeply care about, and slowly making the world take note. Too, doors previously seeming hermetically closed are opening for the regular Sniffapalooza trips, which I hope to someday join, to meet all the Sniffa members that are as passionate about the world of scent as I am. Until then, I blow kisses to all of you, readers, writers and Sniffa perfume pilgrims alike.

You can view Michel Roudnitska's guestbook entry by clicking on the first link and scrolling all the way down to reach the guestbook link. From there, click on entries.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Image: Flickr, originally uploaded by Roland Tanglao

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Secret Obsession by Calvin Klein : Perfume Review

We should definitely try to coin a new term for those fragrances that manage to produce an instant smile on our faces upon first sniff. The best I can come up with right now is “perfume smiles”, which is not as clever as I would like, but nevertheless is an adequate description. Secret Obsession is a perfume smile for me, a smile upon first sniff, complete with eyes closed and head thrown back for maximum visual effect. As you probably already know, Secret Obsession is Calvin Klein’s newest fragrance, and one that already has significant buzz surrounding its name: a banned commercial, a tasteful advertising campaign with the absolutely glorious, sensual Eva Mendez, as well as having not only its own webpage, but a fan-page on Facebook as well.

Secret Obsession’s opening is just beautiful, with the sweet, mellow, honeyed scent of dried plums and dates. It manages to leave an impression of a well-rounded alcoholic drink, like a dark, luxurious fruity wine, or a viscous aged liqueur spiced with the warm, resinous aroma of mace. Delicate accents of rose petals add a whole new dimension to the fragrance, but they make only a brief appearance and are soon missed. I find it quite hard to describe what comes next, not only because there is so much going on in the middle stage of Secret Obsession’s development, but also because the elements sound contrasting when put into words. I will do my best however, and you will have to trust me when I say that the result is indeed not only harmonious but also very beautiful. Right in the middle, we have a core that’s comforting, yummy and earthy, smelling like a freshly cracked walnut. It is surrounded by the sensuous scent of amber, which in turn is flecked with orange blossom petals and traced by the mere hint of jasmine’s warmth. The topmost layer can only be described as a contradiction, an ebb and flow that reveal a green soapy scent and a deep, sexy animalic one alternatively. And... Does Calvin Klein have a secret? Cause the drydown smells so distinctly mossy I am baffled! I’ve always resisted the idea of the “Modern Chypre”, even as so many others embraced it in their terminology. Finally, having smelled this, I am ready to lay down my guns. Well, not all of them, but still. This could be it. Musky, earthy, green and sensuous, the drydown of Secret Obsession is not at all what I expected from the official notes. It is the creaminess of what a modern chypre should be, if there is such a thing. And I hope there is...


Monday, September 1, 2008

Eau de Merveilles by Hermès : A Question of Concentrations

“May I see the extrait?”

“But of course”

The tiny flacon is beautiful but strange, echoing the shape of the original but done completely in metal. It hangs from a saddle tan colored strap so that it may be hung from the neck like a pendant.

The sales associate turns to face me with a smile. “Would you wear it?” he asks. His mascara-ed, intelligent blue eyes shine with genuine interest.

“No, but I would love to have it hanging from my bag, like a charm.”

“But what if it spills? You wouldn’t want your beautiful crocodile bag to be destroyed!”

I can’t help but steal a glance at my bag in disbelief, just in case it has somehow magically reinvented itself and is now posing as a reptile. No, still the same calfskin Cavalli I walked in with. Moo.

I carefully smell the extrait. It is beautiful. Deep, dark and rich... Amazing. Extremely far removed from my beloved Eau de Merveilles however, only paying it a cursory nod in passing, it’s not what I came for; Perhaps another time. (Make that probably another time, its just beautiful)And no, I would certainly not wear the pendant around my neck – it would make me feel as though I am about to join a Live Action Role Playing weekend dressed as a hobbit or elf, equipped with magic potions and all. Nope. I leave instead with the Eau, a bottle of Ambre Narguilé (stunning) and a happy load of other generous 4 ml Hermessence samples, packed in pairs in pretty orange packets.

So why the Eau? And why should it matter? Well, in the case of this particular fragrance, choosing the right strength certainly does seem to matter. The parfum is, as already mentioned, a different beast altogether. The Elixir (read: EdP) whose release came third, after the original EdT and parfum, is meant to be a re-worked version of the original and the official notes differ significantly. I have to confess however, that to my nose at least, the end result is incredibly similar and the main (and quite noticeable, I might add) difference is the intensity. Herein lies the problem. The Elixir feels so concentrated in fact, that its development in turn seems disturbed. Gone is the sparkling effusiveness of the original, which made it so congruent to its commercials, comparing a single spray to a beautiful, magical firework. The Elixir packs a wallop so intense, the nose finds itself too overwhelmed to discover the lovely nuances that make the Eau such a marvel. However pretty, the fact that the Elixir once sprayed on the skin becomes an aporia with its stunted development makes it immediately inferior to the Eau, which kindly lets you travel with it. There are tickets, there’s a road, a finishing line and a reward. Creamy, salty, ambery, woody.... Yummy, strange, warm and cold, sexy and aloof, sophisticated and fun loving all at once... Eau de Merveilles has it all. Why try and fix it?

Are your experiences similar to mine with the Merveilles family?