Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Fragrance Bouquet wishes you all Happy Holidays full of cheer!
I am currently in Greece, visiting family and getting some well deserved rest after the past few months of intensive studying and paper-writing. I really need this little holiday, so I will see you all in January, after the 5th, when I return back home to the Netherlands. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

May these holidays fill your spirit with gladness and your heart with love!


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Aurora by Roxana Villa : Perfume Review

Long-time Fragrance Bouquet readers already know my stance on the issue of natural perfumery since I have written about it in the past, but if there is still any doubt in your mind about whether a great natural perfume can ever stand next to a great synthetic one and survive the comparison, then I beg you to order a sample of Aurora right away.

What beautiful, twinkling magic has been weaved in this amazing, heart-moving fragrance? Because it is surely magic, or at the very least the magic of art and love, that make this fragrance evolve so stunningly on the skin, going through countless transformations that seduce the senses one after the other while its creator humbly proclaims it "simpler" than the creations that followed! Aurora was born as an experiment, an exploration in recreating the scent of carnations -and perhaps it is no wonder I love it so, carnation being the symbol of Fragrance Bouquet. Be that as it may, the improbable beauty of this scent lies in the dream sequence it slowly, artfully, reveals before it reaches its final, very much intended and happily successful destination.

The first bloom is a luxuriously waxy, lustrous, almost oily abstract floral that instantly reveals the richness of this bouquet. However rich, not once does it become decadently overwhelming: its grandeur can be compared to that of colored rays of light guiding one's way in the darkness, or gemstone sparkle against dark velvet. And as I write this, I suddenly realize that aurora (that is, the phenomenon) is indeed just that: rays of radiant light against the night sky. The realization leaves me slightly shaken, because I've been keeping notes on this perfume for about two weeks now and this is the first time I make the connection. Aptly named, then. It is in fact, this interplay of bright light -translated by my heart and soul instinctively as hope- and darkness, that is the most striking feature of Aurora, as well as its continuum, the glue that seamlessly binds it all together. I grin with the pleasure of one who knows that is being fooled, but enjoys it so, like a child watching a magician, when I start smelling erotic lilacs, an elusive note that cannot be captured as a natural. But it is there, an illusion recreated on the road to the field of carnations, as real as my memory of the thriving lilac bush that completely covered our fence when I was a child. And then Ylang Ylang, a soft sense of leather (myrrh?) and the bouquet becomes positively narcotic, seducing, magical. Suddenly, the incredible warmth of the rich floral notes is charged by a chilly breath and I find myself vividly experiencing the same sense of coolness found in an ever-shaded niche of a stone church. In the shaded, cool darkness tendrils of incense complete the picture. I want to stay there forever but soon the spice kicks in and I allow myself to be blissfully transported once again: sweet amber and rich spicy clove start weaving the picture of blood red carnations. This is the most meaningful, heartrending, stirring carnation I've ever loved, and believe me, I've searched far and wide.. From Caron, to Santa Maria Novella, to CdG, MpG and vintage Balenciaga, Roxana Villa's carnation is Fragrance Bouquet's favorite. I am thankful.

Images: The images included in this post are property of Roxana Villa.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Fragrance Bouquet Says: Have A Laugh!

Well, it's another week of exams for me, so you'll have to forgive the slowness this week - I probably won't have time to post a review of Aurora before Monday. But in the meantime, I have a little (unrelated to perfume) treat to share!

Now, as you know, I LOVE fashion, and if you do too, then you're probably going to love this hilarious video clip! I only discovered it recently - it is by Dan Balan, a singer/composer from Moldavia. The unbelievably catchy/addictive song is called Crazy Loop and the video shows Crazy Loop, Dan Balan's 'entertaining, alternative personality' delivering pizza to a John Galliano fashion show, first perceived as a nuissance that hijacks the fashion show, but soon truly becomes the star of the runway event. What truly makes this video priceless is the funny, adorable John Galliano impersonator, who -I kid you not- is the spitting image of our beloved designer! Fashion savvy, sharp eyed viewers will also spot numerous other famous personas that are alluded to with various degrees of similarity by the actors playing them, including most entertainingly, an ostantatiously potrayed, black Karl Lagerfeld, as well as a perfectly cast André Leon Talley. So check the video out and have a laugh!

**NOTE: You can find the video embedded below, but my suggestion is to actually click here for a High Definition version. Unfortunately the HD version has disabled embedding so I could not include it in the post itself.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Vespertina by Roxana Villa : Perfume Review and Thoughts on Modern Perfume Structure

Perfume lovers, critics and writers still talk about perfume pyramids, and perfume houses still release the official notes of their newly launched fragrances in terms of top, heart and base notes. But to what extend do these terms still apply in the world of modern perfumery? It is no longer a secret that most of what we smell in modern perfumes is purely synthetic, no matter how natural it might come across as. The small number of aromachemical companies from which noses procure the ingredients they employ to build their perfumes, strive not only for innovation, but also for stability and longevity. Scents traditionally used in perfumery as top notes due to their fleeting nature (e.g. citrus), have been reinvented by these companies, with molecules so large they have the ability to shape and even define the fragrance for far longer than they used to. And that is an understatement: nowadays you can have a grapefruit scent that lasts all day; a woody scent that is permeated by the fresh zing of lemon for hours on end. Nowadays, almost any of those notes that would fly off in the first five minutes before the curtain would rise to allow the beauty of the heart notes to shine through, can actually last till the drydown. Consequentially, official notes and pyramids are often a joke. While this does not affect reviews where the writer can actually describe the development as it unfolds, it does lend to confusion. The development, the way any given fragrance unfolds can be unpredictable, surprising. This, I believe is one of the most radical changes in the world of modern perfumery.

Now, as those of you who have been reading Fragrance Bouquet regularly know, I consider my love for fragrance all-encompassing. There is room for just about anything, whether purely synthetic (Why, hello NR!) or purely natural. So why all this talk about perfume construction? Because exploring Roxana Villa’s sampler packet was something of a revelation… The experience grounded me, reminded me all that is good and gorgeous and magnificent about a well constructed perfume that follows an absolutely traditional, classic development. Her fragrances are ever-changing, confirming the words of an industry professional in Paris who’d told me that the more natural a perfume, the more it changes throughout the day.

Two of the scents in the sampler pack have truly captivated me, Vespertina and Aurora. Today we take a look at Vespertina, while a review of Aurora is forthcoming. Meaning “Evening”, Vespertina is a glorious, floral scent with rich veins of spice. Its construction is absolutely marvelous, with top notes that you’ll want to chase after like fleeting dreams, floral heart notes so deep they make you feel like you can get lost in their nuances forever, and spicy, woody base notes that linger comfortingly on the skin until the skin’s own beauty shines through. Roxana describes this fragrance as “Orange woven with flowers, grounded by earth”.

The fleeting top notes are slightly bitter and medicinal, intensely herbal in character. They explode in a burst of black, roughly ground peppercorns and disappear like a dream through a botanical garden that’s slipping through the fingers upon waking up… The gorgeous spiciness of the black pepper remains however, easing us into the deep, dark, magical labyrinth of the floral heart notes. Through the persisting spicy blast, emerges a fabulous dirty, highly indolic orange blossom note, supported by narcotic ylang ylang and nightly jasmine. Far into the background, I smell hints of well aged, beautiful rose essence, highly romantic and moving. As time goes by, the bitter orange blossom note becomes creamier and creamier, shedding its indolic character and turning ever more sensitive and feminine. As an orange blossom scent, this one is very close in feel to Satellite’s playfully bitter 40º à l’Ombre (one of my favorite neroli/orange blossom scents out there), rather than to more traditional, sweet and heady orange blossom scents like Prada’s or L’Artisan’s Fleur d’Oranger. Vespertina is incredibly long lasting, and even though it starts as dark and mysterious, it soon transforms in aa summery, utterly romantic white floral scent will envelop the wearer for hours. When it does arrive, the drydown is myrrh-tinged sandalwood sweetness, peppered with spice.

Images: All images used in this post are property of Roxana Villa.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Basenotes opens votes for 9th Annual Fragrance Awards

Basenotes is one of the best online resources for fragrance lovers, offering a world of scented information at our fingertips: information on notes, listings by year and by house, blogs, articles, interviews and a lively community that is always willing to share information (Tip: Fragrance Bouquet loves the Basenotes Community City Guides for perfume shopping!). Focusing exclusively on the world of scent, it is no surprise that Basenotes readers are a highly targeted audience, and as such the opinions this community expresses have caught the attention of the perfume industry as well. This neatly brings us to the importance of participating in the voting for the 9th Annual Fragrance Awards! Let your voice be heard and participate! Doing so, also makes you eligible to win a $250 gift certificate, sponsored by FragranceNet to be spent on a selection of the thousands of products available at's online store. The prize will be offered to a randomly selected voter.

This year the categories are as follows:
• Best new fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best overall fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best fragrance for day (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best fragrance for evening (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best fragrance packaging (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best designer, mainstream or fine fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best niche, independent, artisan or boutique fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best mass-market, drugstore, budget or direct-sell fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best celebrity fragrance (Masculine and Feminine)
• Best fragrance house
• Best home fragrance
• Best fragrance blog

Go straight to the voting page by clicking here.

Mystic Tan’s Perfect Tan Holiday Kit

‘Tis the season of parties and the jingling of bells is not the only sound ringing in our ears! So is the soft clinking sound of champagne flutes, the swishing of cocktail frocks and the elegant click-clacking of party heels! Even though orange will never be the right skin-tone for anyone (don’t go overboard ladies!) many of us will be looking to get that subtle glow back to our winter-pasty skin in order to look picture perfect on those holiday shots. Mystic Tan has an exclusive, limited edition holiday gift set out, which includes everything one might need to create that natural-looking glowing warmth:

PRIME: NEW Exfoliating Wash cleanses pores and refines skin through gentle exfoliating that sloughs off dead skin cells, revealing the perfect palette for sunless tanning.

BASE: Sunless Conditioning Complex is a revolutionary Conditioning Complex that puts self-tanning worries to rest with Mystic Tan’s patented NutraMist deep hydrating delivery system. This system acts as a primer by balancing the skin pH level, ensuring even color distribution.

BUILD: Sunless Tanning Spray FACE & BODY takes the Mystic Tan technology out of the booth and puts it into your hands. Unlike other self-tanners, there is NO rubbing necessary so palms don’t streak. Sprays at all angles without any shaking, providing for an even, continuous application.

BOOST: Sunless Enhancing Moisturizer BODY is a DHA, vitamin-enriched daily skin nourishing moisturizer that boosts sunless tanning results and blends any under-applied areas naturally. The luxurious lotion can also be used every day to extend your tan or to create a warm, sexy glow with color that can be controlled.

The Perfect Tan Holiday Kit retails for $84, a $112 value, at Sephora and Barneys New York.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Alessandro Dell’Acqua (woman) by Alessandro Dell’Acqua : Perfume Review

Born in the picturesque, stunning city of Naples, Alessandro Dell’Acqua hasn’t had an idle moment in the world of fashion ever since he received his degree in graphic design from the Accademia de Belli Arti. Having designed for several prestigious brands, including Iceberg and Mariella Burani, Dell’Acqua finally conquered the hearts of the Italian public with the launch of his very own prêt-a-porter line in 1996, which instantly made him a household name and an instant success. His first, eponymous fragrance (Alessandro Dell’Acqua), launched in 2001 with ad campaigns fronted by Helena Christensen and shot by photography giant Helmut Newton.

Alessandro Dell’Acqua has a rather strict distribution, and as such cannot be found as easily as most department store scents – I have never seen it sold here in the Netherlands for example. I was lucky enough to receive a bottle of this from a wonderful, lovely reader with whom I often exchange perfumed thoughts and sample packets. I was not familiar with the perfume, so it was the first thing I tested when I opened the packet, and despite its simplicity, I fell in love with it instantly. The official notes are quite deceptive: Geranium, Pelargonium, Sweet Pea and Coriander up top, peony, hibiscus, rose in the heart and incense, sandalwood and musk in the base. If one would only go by the official notes, the best guess would probably be that this is a rather heavy, sweet floral, but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! The official description of the scent however, touting this as a perfume “to be worn like a second skin” is not only faithful to the nature of the scent, but also completely accurate. Alessandro Dell’Acqua is indeed one of those wonderful fragrances that blur the lines between where one’s own skin scent ends and where the perfume begins. It is one of those fragrances that is unlikely to elicit a compliment about how good your fragrance smells, but rather one that will definitely incite others to proclaim that you smell great. It is a fragrance that is unashamedly, all about musk. From beginning to end, this rather linear scent revolves around its heart of beautiful musk, which is extremely evocative of clean, warm, sweet smelling skin. The smell is comforting and sexy at the same time and wears so comfortably it would be easy enough for me to forget I’m wearing perfume at all, if it wasn’t so addictive! I literally can’t resist smelling my arm over and over again just to get closer to the comforting, clean sensation it produces. Stunningly, each and every time I marvel at its ability to smell so human and so realistically like feminine skin, without a single hint of animalic tendencies. Aside from musk, Alessandro Dell’Acqua features the sensual floral scent of Sweet Pea and slight hints of powder, but what really adds to the experience and truly makes this juice complete, is the use of incredibly long-lasting aldehydes. Beautiful and mysteriously vague, slightly metallic and cool, the aldehydes give this perfume an essential lift, rendering the musk quintessentially effeminate and yes, chic. This utterly personal scent has quickly become a firm favorite of mine in the musk family. Beautiful!

Friday, December 5, 2008

L'Aimant by Coty Sample Winner

Goodmorning beauties! I am about to run to class, but first a post to let you know that the winner of the vintage L'Aimant sample is none other than... Linda! Linda dear, congratulations! I have your addy, so I'll be shipping the sample to you on Monday. Thank you all for participating and look forward to more contests here on Fragrance Bouquet :)

Wishing you a great weekend,


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Look by Vera Wang : Perfume Review

The super stylish (oh, I love how she dresses!) Vera Wang might be best known for her bridalwear, but this is not just a bridal designer who dabbles in perfume. Infinitely creative, she also channels her talents in eveningwear, ready-to-wear, underwear, footwear, eyewear, jewelry, china and crystal, silver and gifts, fine papers and mattresses (!). This prolific, sensitive and artistic New Yorker has a new fragrance out and it’s called Look, a name that’s not only cool but also far edgier than all of Wang’s previous perfume namesakes, which were highly romantic with names such as Bouquet and Sheer Veil.

“It’s a spirit and style that’s absolutely original and comes from within. It’s an attitude, an elusive accessory. It’s that indefinable quality of self-expression that creates a look and sets a woman apart. I’ve always said if I could bottle it, I would… and now I have.”

That is a bold and inspirational quote indeed, but before we take a look at how the juice itself measures up, can we take a minute to savor the absolutely fabulous ads? I am completely in love with the styling of the shoot and I was taken with the images from the moment I laid eyes on them. I think they perfectly capture the spirit of ready-to-wear fashion and are very now. In fact, it has been a very, very long time since I last felt so motivated to try out a perfume solely because I found the ads so captivating. I adore how the frothy texture of the dress combines with the silver nails and the fantabulous jewelry that makes me think of modern Lanvin and Balmain.

But on to the fragrance itself: First of all, I find it peculiar that Look is launched right now, since it is very much a warm weather scent to my nose, and unsurprisingly, I found I liked it far better in the warmth of my house, than when I first tried it outside at the department store (it’s snowing here!). My first impressions were not all that positive, as the opening seems very typical department store scent: Fresh and mystifyingly unidentifiable. Once the first alcohol blast dissipates however, the scent turns far more pleasant, presenting a very clear, crystalline image of juicy green apple, tingled with the sappy, sticky juice of greens. The spark of mandarin-rind oils lends warmth as well as a certain spiciness to the blend. Admirably, it is all done without a hint of sweetness; In fact, Look is very much a bitter perfume, something I find very pleasing indeed. The heart floral notes (jasmine, freesia and lily) are not particularly realistic and I have to say I cannot detect any of jasmine’s heady, deep, warm qualities. The abstract floral notes are embraced by a dry, completely unsweetened berry scent. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d definitely have to say it reminds me of pomegranate. I have written before here on Fragrance Bouquet about how much I enjoy a dusty feel that certain perfumes tend to have, and this is exactly what I like most about Look. As the heart develops, a beautifully dry, dusty accord manifests through the freshness of the florals, and definitely keeps my interest, making me return to the scented patch of skin to explore it again and again. Bizarrely, it is through this dusty scent that I start detecting the first hints of sweetness during the drydown stage. Sweet vanilla and patchouli, soft and unassuming, begin to emerge, like droplets of sweet rain bringing comfort to a particularly dry day.

Look is incredibly tenacious and will last for a good eight to ten hours. Sillage is moderate, making this a work appropriate scent too. It might not be a Guerlain or Lutens masterpiece, but I definitely think this is a good new department store scent. Refreshing and wearable for all ages, this is a good everyday modern scent. The bitter vein running through it lends sophistication, appeal and thoughtfulness to an otherwise mostly fresh composition.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Ghost Scents

You wouldn’t guess it from the interior, with its pretty fountain, the enormous, suspended mosaic of two gigantic eyes following you everywhere in the main hall, the artwork in the hallways, the throngs of students happily chattering away between classes but… Many, many years ago, the Psychology building of my University used to be a Hospital. Nowadays, the building has acquired the familiar smell of Academic buildings everywhere, without a doubt, a special smell itself: The smell of students, library books, computers and a faint whiff of food and coffee from the cafeteria. It is a smell as instantly recognizable as that of high schools, as anyone who has visited their old high school for a reunion and has been hit in the face by a smell that is truly a blast from the past can attest. But there are times when one really comes to realize that this building’s current scent is actually the intruder, a smell that is trying hard to banish the previous occupant. The previous occupant sometimes strikes back, desperate, aggravated; running down the stairs to catch a class students are sometimes – in fact rarely enough so that it always remains a huge surprise- assaulted by the Ghost Scent: The smell of the Hospital. Where does it come from? How does it resurface? How does it manage to remain hidden the rest of the time? Why does it make our heart skip a beat when we smell it? I am not surprised we react to the smell with aversion and dread – we are, after all, socialized from an early age to fear hospitals, and their smell is a strong reminder of all the negative associations related to them. I am however surprised at the tenacity of the scent, seemingly becoming an entity that lives on and on, long after one would expect it to.

Ghost Scents are not always unpleasant however. Have you ever worn a loved one’s clothes and found yourself living with their smell all day long? I have a friend with whom I exchange clothes. She lives in Greece and I live in the Netherlands… We send each other packets of things that do not quite work in our wardrobes any longer. When her packets arrive, I open them to find myself surrounded by her presence. What’s most surprising is that even after several wears and subsequent washes, her clothes retain her own unique smell - the fibers completely drenched in her essence as it were. When finally the harsh detergents manage to strip away every last bit of her slightly vanilla scented skin, I always feel distinctly disappointed…

From clothes, to cars and houses, the smell of ownership is present, slightly different each time, mingling with the scent of fibers and materials. None are as distinctive and as potent as the smells created by diverse, unrelated individuals sharing a common goal. The smell of the gym, the same in every country you visit, decade after decade: Muscle and sweat, enough to make your adrenaline levels rise and your heart to start pumping the moment you walk in. Even more evocative, the smell of dance. A recent visit to the Ballet Academy to sign up for a class made me feel like I was about to faint from wistfulness the moment I walked in, recently. It smelled of learning, almost like elementary school and high school combined, and its familiar scent was mingled with that of sweat. Not the sweat of a single person, but that of many. It smelled of collective effort and art, of broken toes, blissful misery and hope. There is no way this smell could ever be eradicated, even if the Academy became something else. Like the smell of the Hospital, the ghosts of a thousand dancers’ smell would come back to haunt this place, claim it as their own.

Some ghosts are living, living through the ages. When I travel back to Thessaloniki Greece, I am always greeted by the scent of this ancient city the moment I step out of the airport. Air that’s slightly thicker than I’m used to over here, humid and salty, smelling of the sea and the people, the vague smell of herbs and woods. The smell of a particular sort of energy reverberating in the air. It makes me want to fall down on my knees, Pope-like, and kiss the ground that bore me.

Some scents are truly gone from this earth however. I am lucky to have them living in my head, and I am even luckier to have this strange ability to call them forth and smell them again whenever I wish to. The scent of my maternal grandmother, recently gone from this world, is probably the most precious such Ghost. It smells of her skin, scented like fresh dough after working her capable hands on each and everything that needed attention in the house. That slight smell of sweet and sour dough, the smell of light sweat over clean, soapy skin, calls forth an image of her working in her old kitchen, turning to smile down at me. And all I can do is wish I could run and hug her again. But at least I have her smell. Ghost of a scent.