Archive for April, 2007
The presence of vetiver in perfume is just as essential as a high quality rose oil or jasmine essence. It’s widely used as a fixative in base notes. Thankfully, it has also been explored as a single note, so to speak, emphasizing different aspects of its versatile character. In basic terms, vetiver has a rooty, earthy aroma. However, there’s a lot you can do with it. You can make it smoky as in Hermessence Vetiver Tonka or Vetiver by Annick Goutal. You can play upon its cold, wet, and salty facet – Sel de Vetiver by The Different Company, Vetiver by Guerlain, Original Vetiver by Creed. Quite opposite, you can also make it all warm and woody as it’s been done in Vetiver by Jalaine or Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens. Or you can simply rejoice in its rooty, earthy dryness that’s been rendered the best in Vetiver by L’Artisan (sadly, discontinued) and Vetiver Extraordinaire by Frederic Malle.
There’s nothing unusual or extraordinary about Vetiver Extraordinaire as far as vetiver is concerned – it’s vetiver at its core, unadulterated – green, herbaceous, earthy. However, it’s the most extraordinary rendition of the note I’ve smelled so far. It’s the King of Vetivers. Created by Dominique Ropion, the scent is said to contain the largest amount of Haitian Vetyver essence in the industry. Upon first spray, it’s seemingly straightforward vetiver, enhanced by bergamot, bitter orange, and just a hint of nutmeg. The longer it stays on skin, the trickier it gets: the ordinary green earthiness welcomes the extraordinary balsamic mossiness followed by a mild ozonic/watery undertone. The result is crisp, modern, and insolent. Take it or leave it, this vetiver will not budge. It was not an instant love for me. In fact, it’s taken a considerable amount of time to not only like it but actually love it with a passion. I reach for it most on days when my mood is chaotic, and my outfit is ordinary, and I need a healthy dose of understated, yet extraordinary charisma.
Vetiver Extraordinaire features the notes of bergamot, bitter orange, pink pepper, nutmeg, floralozone, Haïtain vetyver, sandalwood, cedarwood, oakmoss, myrrh, cashmeran, musks. It can be purchased from Barney’s New York or directly from the Editions de Parfums online shop.
Image source: barneys.com
April 30th, 2007
Yet another day with no substantial fragrant material on Aromascope. I swear I haven’t been neglecting it (for it’d be akin to neglecting your own child for me). I’ve just been spending most of my days setting up the new shop and getting home with enough energy to drag myself to bed. The shop is due to open May 1 (yippee!), and I can’t rave enough about it (yes, I’m biased but why not?) Besides, I’ve discovered carrots can actually smell good enough to be worn on skin – Fleur de Carotte! An amazing refreshing vegetable scent. Heck, we need more of those – in the land of all the fruity-florals, vegetables have become rather underrated, wouldn’t you say? OK, there’s more to Fleur de Carotte than just carrots – it also has the notes of tarragon, cucumber, apricot, rose, and ginger. Anyways, pardon me for my partial absence. I’ll be back!
April 30th, 2007
I’ve been swamped with work all week barely smelling any perfumes other than thoroughly testing the new Tom Ford Private Blend scents. I must say my opinion has changed drastically – the first impression proved to be wrong. Yes, it was indeed overwhelming having to smell all twelve of them after a long day (that also included sniffing over 50 raw materials), and, yes, they do need to be tested one by one, a day per fragrance at least. My current favorites are Tobacco Vanille, Noir de Noir, Velvet Gardenia, and Oud Wood. More detailed reviews to come soon. As for today, alas, I leave you scentless but not for long! Please do share if you have any fascinating fragrant discoveries. Happy weekend, all!
April 26th, 2007
Fidji by Guy Laroche came out in 1966 and, according to Perfume Legends (p. 135), “pioneered a new generation of fresh perfumes: Norell (1969), Charlie (1973), Gucci No 1 (1975) and a hundred other fragrances following its lead”. The scent was inspired by the idea of a “happy island” – a mythical, faraway place that fit in very well with the trend of those days to travel to distant lands. The perfumer, Josephine Catapano, was fascinated by L’Air du Temps and wanted to create a modern version of it, “an outstanding floral”, with “an airy feeling” (p.136). Guy Laroche was known to me only for his J’Ai Ose. Back in my high school years, a friend had a bottle, and I’d often beg her to let me spray it. Fidji, on the other hand, despite its vast popularity, had never crossed my path until recently.
In spite of such an exotic name, Fidji is not a cliche tropical scent. It’s an alluring, colorful floral. The initial notes of ylang-ylang, galbanum, and rose are quite boozy and dense, tinged by faint clove. Tuberose and jasmine enter the scene a bit later, adding more oomph and floral sweetness. I must also add Fidji is one of the few perfumes where the green and floral notes are masterfully, seamlessly blended. The galbanum is there but not prominent, giving the fragrance a certain zest and that airy feeling. The drydown is ambery-balsamic, succulent, and blithe. Back in the day, Fidji had a lot of followers, and, sadly, today it seems to be quite obscure and underrated. The parfum version (which I used for this review) is highly superior to eau de toilette and very hard to come by. Although I deeply admire it, for me Fidji doesn’t seem to have any particular emotional connotations. In my imaginary vintage closet, Fidji will solemnly share the shelf with such timeless beauties as Chanel No 19, Lancome Sikkim and Climat, Givenchy III.
Fidji features the notes of galbanum, hyacinth, lemon, ylang-ylang, Bulgarian rose, clove, jasmine, tuberose, iris, spices, ambergris, balsam, musk, patchouli, sandalwood.
Image source: parfumdepub.net
April 25th, 2007
By Tove Solander
I knew Parfumerie Generale L’Ombre Fauve reminded me of something, and I kept thinking of S-Perfumes Lust and Le Labo Labdanum 18. When I saw it compared to Dana Tabu, of which I have recently acquired a couple of cute vintage minis, the pieces fell into place. Today I’m reviewing all four of them side by side: the niche, the limited edition, the “olfactory installation”, and the classic cheap cologne. Here are the notes for three of them; I haven’t been able to find any notes for Lust:
L’Ombre Fauve: amber, musk, wood, patchouli
Labdanum 18 (Ciste 18): ciste, civet, castoreum, musk, vanille, birch tar, cinnamon, patchouli, gurjaum balsam, tonka bean
Tabu: amber, jasmine, musk, oakmoss, orange blossom, rose, vetiver
All four scents belong to the family of ambery, woody, and resinous orientals. They are dry and powdery to various extents, which lends them a ”dusty” air of old places and old times. I think of different textures when I smell them, from fabrics like velvet and wool to unpolished wood but the materials are all dark and soft to the touch. Not just any dark colour; I envision them as different shades of brown, from nearly orange to nearly black.
Lust is the most evocative one but not of lust! The name made me expect something animalic or perhaps hypnotic and sickly-sweet. Instead, Lust smells like murky crypts and dusty old museum halls. There may be brocade curtains heavy with the dust of centuries, there may be church incense stuck to old fabrics, there may even be stuffed animals, mummified bodies of saints or skeletons in the closet. But no living, lusting beasts. If this is lust, it’s Hieronymous Bosch’s depiction of Luxuria in Hell. And for me, the ex-metal fan and history nerd who visited the ossuary of Kutna Hora without a shiver, a great comfort scent! Colour: dusty, shadowy earth brown.
When I first tried L’Ombre Fauve I found it highly evocative of cool cellars and dusty attics. I wrote a rave review on how it was just like seeking shade in a musty old cellar when the sun is blazing outside, on how it captured cold stone walls, cool dirt floors, warm brown velvet, and sun-heated wood. Upon retrying it, I’m afraid it’s less evocative, more of an ordinary rich, powdery, ambery/woody oriental, sweetened with a hint of high quality vanilla. Still a great scent but perhaps not original enough for the price, as I first thought. At least I can tell myself it isn’t so I won’t mourn the fact that I can’t afford one of Luckyscent’s remaining bottles… Colour: different shades of reddish brown.
Labdanum 18 is not very far from L’Ombre Fauve, especially not in the latter’s less evocative incarnation. Although amber isn’t listed among the notes it’s still for me a decidedly ambery oriental: rich, sweet, dry, powdery and slightly burnt, like burnt sugar. It has more vanilla than L’Ombre Fauve but it’s a much less cloying vanilla than the one in Patchouli 24 (am I the only one who found that scent overly sweet?) It also has a sort of refreshingly sour top note which conventionally could be called citrusy but which oddly reminds me of rhubarb. Mmmm, rhubarb… With the vanilla and cinnamon, Labdanum 18 is at some moments close to a freshly baked rhubarb pie. Think Burberry Brit Red but better. Colour: burnt sugar.
I have Tabu eau de parfum in a vintage mini bottle, and I’m not sure how much it has aged but it still smells good (I guess some of you will say it never did…). It has more green and floral notes than the other three, and it shows. Next to the others, it almost verges on chypre, although a decidedly oriental chypre. The citrusy/green chypre notes are sour, sharp and musty in the old-fashioned way I no longer find entirely unpleasant. During the drydown, the sharpness recedes, and what’s left is more of a smooth, powdery, resinous oriental. The orange blossom still shows, lending it an air of orange liquor-drenched cake. The cake is, however, old and dry – the kind baked by some elderly relative who no longer has the hang of it and who’s too cheap to eat it while it’s still fresh. If this sounds awfully negative, please keep in mind that “dry” is higher praise for a perfume than for a cake. Colour: the brown and orange hues of the seventies.
Image source: suendhaft.com, luckyscent.com, barneys.com, scentedmonkey.com
April 24th, 2007
Mayotte and its predecessor Mahora pay homage to the island of Mayotte (also known as Mahore), where the house of Guerlain has ylang-ylang and jasmine plantations. Mahora was released in 2000 followed by dubious success, and Mayotte is its current reincarnation, released in 2006 as part of Guerlain’s Les Parisiennes collection. My first and only acquaintance with Mahora happened a few years ago when I wore the scent for exactly one day, and concluded we were not meant to be. During my recent trip to New York, Mayotte was what stood out to me the most at the Bergdorf Goodman Guerlain counter: it struck me as not only charming but also very much a scent of its own merit, bearing very little resemblance to its forerunner. To give it complete justice and simply to satisfy my curiosity, I obtained a mini of Mahora eau de parfum for comparison purposes.
Both Mayotte and Mahora can easily be called sophisticated tropical floral orientals. However, they don’t sing the same song. While Mayotte is an ode to ylang-ylang, Mahora dignifies tuberose. From the very top notes, Mayotte is a creamy, coconut-like mix of frangipani and ylang-ylang. Mahora starts out with a burst of orange and without wasting any time turns into fruity, buttered tuberose. I find Mayotte much more Guerlain-like: it possesses the same peachy heft of Mitsouko. Mahora, on the other hand, strikes me as rather aggressive and mutinous. Its sugared, almost oily tuberose seems to defy all things Guerlain, and perhaps that’s the reason the fragrance didn’t do so well. In spite of being much more refined and polished, Mayotte can hardly be called a tame and acquiescent version of Mahora – it bears but faint sibling resemblance and respectfully begs to differ. While Mahora is heady and persistent, Mayotte is soft and enveloping and has won my heart as the best ylang-ylang scent ever created.
Mahora features the notes of orange, almond tree blossoms, ylang-ylang, neroli, tuberose, jasmine, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla. The notes for Mayotte are neroli, frangipani, tuberose, ylang-ylang, jasmine, sandalwood, vetiver, vanilla. Mahora can be found on various online fragrance discounters, and Mayotte is available at the Paris Guerlain boutique as well as Bergdorf Goodman.
Image source: osmoz.com, expresschemist.co.uk
April 23rd, 2007
Folks from the Basenotes community are organizing the first ever Chicago Scent Me event. It’s due to take place May 26, 2007. Coincidentally, L’Artisan Parfumeur is about to open their first boutique in Chicago (May 1 is the date) which will also play host to the event. For more information, please check out this page.
Full disclosure: as of recently, I work for L’Artisan Parfumeur and will be at the new boutique. Aromascope is my personal perfume blog and will remain independent.
April 22nd, 2007
It’s Needle In A Haystack time! Please note the image on the left: every week Marina provides me with an image for our joint project. I don’t know how she does it but she’s clearly a genius. Today’s sample drawing looked liked this (Mr.Aromascope can attest, if necessary): container with samples was dumped on the bed, vigorously shuffled around, head looked up at the ceiling, hand was stretched in the general direction of samples, and a sample picked out in slow motion. “An easy one!” was what followed. Molinard Habanita in parfum!
Writing about Habanita proved to be simple and complicated at the same time. Simple because the scent instantly transports me back to my childhood. I’m sitting in the kindergarten cafeteria, it’s lunch or dinner time, with about 20 kids around me, all starving and equally ready to throw a tantrum and dump the food about to be served (not another kasha!) when all of a sudden we all behold The Drink. Dried fruit compote! Oh the fuss that occurs (mixed with utter adoration) – the hysteria, practically. That’s what Habanita is to me – the much loved and cherished and never allowed to be shared dried fruit compote. The complicated part consists of actually not getting any associations the scent was inspired by. Havana? Cigars? 1921? I give it complete credit, of course, but to me it’s akin to detachedly admiring an old painting (much like I admire the bottle). Habanita is gutsy, savory, beguiling, charming, and decidedly old-fashioned. Originally created as an accessory to cigarettes, it’s a fleshy mix of pipe tobacco and baby powder. It’s a bit more complex than that (especially in parfum) – a sultry, dusky fruity-floral in top notes with smoky, resinous powder in the drydown. Habanita should be worn with caution – it is potent. I love Habanita as much as I loved my compote, and that’s what it will always be to me.
Habanita features the notes of bergamot, peach, strawberry, orange blossom, rose, ylang-ylang, orris, lilac, heliotrope, leather, vanilla, cedar, benzoin. I highly recommend trying the parfum concentration which is much smoother and more dense. It can be found at various perfume etailers as well as directly from the Molinard online shop.
Please be sure to check Marina’s draw of the day.
Image source: molinard.com
April 19th, 2007
Comptoir Sud Pacifique has been in business for as long as I’ve been alive producing tropical escapes in a bottle. The perfume names pretty much speak for themselves as do the scents they represent, from Vanilla Abricot to Aloha Tiare. In the past few years, it seems like every other new release by Comptoir Sud Pacifique (CSP, from now on) has been some version of vanilla. The news of Caramel Sunset were hardly shocking – we’ve exhausted the vanillas, let’s move on to caramel. Pardon my involuntary sarcasm but I’m afraid this is far from a favorable review. Just the other day I noticed another new offering by the popular (!) line Clean named Warm Cotton and couldn’t help but wonder if the creators’ real motive is to raise public awareness to increase personal hygiene – after all, you can never be clean enough in America. First, you work up major Lather, then spritz on some Clean, then douse in Shower Fresh, dry yourself with Warm Cotton making sure it’s been splashed with Fresh Laundry, and then you’re not only Clean, you’re Ultimate. For those who don’t know, yes, these are actual perfume names. But to get back to Caramel Sunset – what can it possibly have in common with Clean? Not much, I guess, other than to force us to not only consume way too much sugar in our daily diet (check those nutrition facts) but also wear it on our skin and then some. No, there’s nothing wrong with vanilla scents (or CSPs, for that matter), and I’m perfectly aware of the fact there are plenty of people who happily have been, are, and will be wearing them. I simply long for variety, even among liquid tropical paradises. As for Caramel Sunset, it is just that – warm, milky with a hint of coconut and cotton candy fluff. Does it take me to Hawaii? No, I’m still at home in windy Chicago, on my couch sipping some hot cocoa with extra marshmellows (to pack more sugar into my diet).
Caramel Sunset is available at Sephora, Beautyhabit.
Image source: comptoirsudpacifique.us
April 18th, 2007
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please re-consider the case of Bois Blond, the limited edition offering from Parfumerie Generale. Mrs. Ina has reviewed this scent in the past, giving it a lukewarm feedback. Why, o why?! Now I must step in and defend this beauty of a fragrance, a work of olfactory art, unique and unforgettable.
“On the first country morning wet verandah is floating in green underwater dusk.The door to the porch is open wide, cold breeze is coming from the garden and loud hollow buckets are ready for us to run with to the lake. To sleek, dazzling, lake, in which the whole world dropped and reflected on an early morning. The old bucket will gurgle, and the faraway echo will gurgle, too. You will scoop up cold deep silence, take a piece of solid smooth surface and sit on fallen tree for awhile.” (Tatyana Tolstaya, “Fire and Dust”).
Bois Blond opens up with a cold, bitter and almost peppery and pungent blast of grasses and galbanum. The top notes have it all: the moist dark forest, the blades of last year’s grass smelling warm and familiar, the dryness of a fallen cedar trunk, covered in moss. All these elements combine to produce almost a physical olfactory sensation of being in that environment, being there on a cold summer morning. If the opening of Bois Blond had a color, it would be translucent, “underwater” green. As the middle notes step in, the scent becomes strangely comforting. The chilly and pungent top notes settle, the grasses become more aromatic and with blond tobacco accentuating dry hay and cereals, the fragrance achieves almost a textural feel of these components. Here, as we bury our faces into the forest hay, we realize that it holds the promise of a hot summer day, that the warmth is buried deep inside these piles of dried grass. The wet hay has a heart of gold. Soon, the “underwater” green is penetrated by husky, golden, shameless stream of sunlight. Amber and musk come to the forefront, forming a very comforting, slightly sweet and, yes, sexy scent. It is a smell of skin of a loved one, skin that is still holding memories of walk in the dark chilly forest, of lying on a moist hay, of sitting by the cold lake, waiting for water to warm up so you can take a plunge.
I also would like to note that Bois Blond does not have a feel of a conventional perfume as there is nothing “perfumey” about it. However, it is not a caricature fragrance in any way, designed to mimic the exact combination of elements to convey a feeling. Bois Blond is not following in the footsteps of Demeter or I Hate Perfume. Parfumerie Generale takes the creation of environment through olfactory sensation to a whole different level. While all elements are there, they are blended seamlessly and elegantly, with one note underscoring, emphasizing or moderating others, rendering this creation extremely wearable.
Bois Blond is a limited edition scent. Along with the other limited edition scents, it can be currently found at Luckyscent, The Perfume Shoppe, and directly from the Parfumerie Generale online shop.
By Elena Singh
April 17th, 2007