Archive for June, 2007
Today’s Needle In A Haystack is such a fancy perfume that it would never allow any sort of association with needles or hay for that matter – Diamond Water by JAR Parfums. If you’re not familiar with JAR Parfums, it’s founded by an American, Paris-based jewelry designer (Joel Arthur Rosenthal, hence the abbreviation) “who has a stellar client list for jewels that are inspired by nature and render it more beautiful in gems” (iht.com). As far as I know, the fragrances are sold in only two places – a free-standing boutique in Paris and a posh little room downstairs in the Bergdorf Goodman beauty department (which I also had the privilege to visit last fall). I won’t go into too much detail as to in what manner exactly the scents are available for testing, other than saying you don’t get to do a lot of touching and spraying yourself (if any at all!). Instead, it’s all done with the help of a medium (a charming man) who with a masterly sweep of hand, one by one, presents to you the jars filled with perfume-saturated fabric. If you then desire to do what all normal, self-respecting perfume maniacs like to do, that is, to do a skin test, you’re asked which scent in particular you’d like to try which is later on applied by the same hand, once again pretty much leaving you out of the equation. (I guess I have actually gone into detail describing the process – oh well). The presentation and the whole experience is obviously really cool with a certain enchanting flair. My only reservation (and perhaps a partial reason for not taking to JAR fragrances that much) is the air of superiority – you just feel sort of unworthy to not only smell but also wear these perfumes (which is also intensified by the fact no perfume notes are disclosed). Nevertheless, it’s still quite a remarkable experience, and I highly recommend it. Out of all the fragrances available, my favorite are Golconda and today’s pick, Diamond Water.
I’m afraid I have no recollection as to whether there was any explanation of the name and such, and I don’t know the official notes so I have to trust my nose. Diamond Water is a floral oriental with the emphasis on carnation. It starts out somewhat chilly, with a bite of cloves. It’s soon softened by what seems to be coconut (which adds certain creaminess) and nutmeg (which accounts for a gentle, dusty undertone). There’s probably some pepper thrown in for kicks. The scent really warms on skin, turning into an enveloping, fluffy blend. That’s about all I can say as far as the notes and development are concerned. I realize it’s hardly regal and fitting with all things JAR but, hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. Diamond Water to me is a very appealing carnation fragrance, conjuring up deep, golden-purple satin. I’d very much like to own a bottle, if it didn’t have such a prohibitive price tag. Meanwhile, my sample suffices for occasional sniffs and visual effects in my memory.
Please be sure to check Marina’s pick of the day.
June 29th, 2007
It has come to my attention L’Artisan Parfumeur has stopped production of the 50 ml size of the cult Dzing! fragrance. At some point, the large 100 ml bottles will be gone, too. Wah! Yes, I’m totally affiliated and consider it my duty to notify my fellow perfume maniacs!
June 28th, 2007
It’s hot, hot, hot in Chicago! Every year I ask myself what I can tolerate better: heat or cold. Every summer, when humidity levels reach beyond bearable, I tell myself it’s heat – it just makes me feel yucky all over. Yet each winter I practically curse through my teeth at how unbelievably unfair it is for a human being to have to live through such freezer temperatures (and wind!) So here I am today, breathing through this hot and humid Chicago June, and guess what? I can handle it. Give me heat any time over cold. This year, more than ever before, I’ve had to face the practically biting cold of the air conditioning at my work, to the point where exiting the building seems like bliss making me want to dissolve in the heat. Thus I’ve once again confirmed my utter dislike of artificial cold air and have purposely refused to have this convenient commodity turned on in my apartment on my day off. It not only worked just fine, despite sweating and puffing while doing housework, but I also discovered a fragrance that unveiled its true beauty like it never did before – Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle.
Which finally brings me to today’s topic: perfumes that reveal their true beauty only in heat. Perhaps it’s all subjective and a matter of perception but with Carnal Flower, never before did it smell like it does now. This opulent white floral with crisp, green opening and radiant, milky drydown has always appealed to me. However, it often seemed to clash with my skin – too sharp, too cloying, too cold, too unlike me. Then came the heat and polished off all the rough edges. Carnal Flower in heat is what I believe it’s meant to be – a mesmerizing, warm, opulent bouquet of tuberose, jasmine, and orange blossom. The longer it’s on my skin (and the hotter the air is), the more lavish it becomes, as if pouring out its entire soul to intoxicate me. I really wish I had a poetic talent to describe its beauty. What I find particularly appealing about Carnal Flower is that, in spite of its spell-binding, unconventional charm, it is not haughty and does not demand a certain approach. Quite on the contrary, it’s unconditionally at your disposal, giving her all…
Carnal Flower is available at Barney’s New York as well as directly from Editions de Parfums.
P.S. I recall having a similar experience last summer with Chergui by Serge Lutens – it was amazing on hot days. What other perfumes do you find smell best in heat?
Image source: giftsonline.net
June 27th, 2007
By Donna Hathaway
This is about two fragrances I wish I could review and then tell you where to get them – but they are nowhere to be found, or are impossible to obtain even if they are technically still available, or are otherwise out of reach for mere mortals like me.
I have in my possession a tiny sample, nearly gone, of a limited edition perfume, Ghost Deepest Night, originally released in 2002. This is not to be confused with Ghost Deep Night, which can still be bought on discounter sites. I ran across a description of it a couple of years ago in my ramblings through the various online merchants’ sites, and I knew when I read about it that I had to have it. It seemed to be the closest thing yet to my long-departed Holy Grail, Jean LaPorte’s L’Eau des Merveilleuses, truly a marvel of composition, a symphony of mango and vanilla. (Before you who fear fruit and vanilla together wonder why that would be a good thing, please remember that Jean LaPorte discontinued his eponymous line to create L’Artisan, and then moved on to found Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. Jean LaPorte does not create cheap fruity-florals. Ever. Sadly, the original LaPorte scents did not continue on when this happened, a great loss in my opinion.) When I first smelled this in a boutique, I thought it was the sexiest fragrance I had ever smelled. The vanilla was dark and complex, dangerous even, and not in the least foody. The mango was not the watery, fleeting top note found in so many fragrances today, from drugstore body wash to mainstream designer perfume. No, it was the buttery, seductive, perfumed living fruit, fleshy and seductive. I wanted to wear it, roll around in it and devour it, all at the same time. I felt like a different person when I wore this perfume. For a while it was my signature scent, back when I believed in such things. Then it was just…gone.
Anyway, since I could no longer find it, some years later I was delighted to discover that Ghost had come up with a mango and vanilla fragrance, with the addition of “jungle” notes, hence the name. I had not known much about Ghost, a fashion and fragrance line that has never really caught on in the U.S. in a big way. (Their Deep Night from 2001 also has vanilla, but the fruit notes are apricot and peach – nice, but no match for mango in my opinion).
Many people in the U.S. don’t know this, but the most popular fruit in the world is the mango. Grown in the tropics and warmest sub-tropics, it comes in hundreds of varieties, and the ones we have been accustomed to in the stores, good as they may be, are mere shadows (ghosts, if you will), of what they can be, as the very best ones are never sent out of their countries of origin due to various factors, including trade restrictions and the fact that they simply cannot be shipped, being too fragile and soft. A perfect mango, fragrant and silky, is the finest fruit I can imagine eating. The difference between a stringy, fibrous ‘Tommy Atkins’ supermarket mango and the real thing is like the difference between freshly squeezed orange juice and Tang®. Another thing many people are unaware of is that they are related to cashew nuts, and also poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, source of the hellishly irritating volatile oil urushiol, and some sensitive people cannot eat them due to allergic reactions. Usually this is only a burning around the lips, like when you eat too much raw pineapple, but it can be more serious. (Things that have a little bit of “sinister” in them always intrigue me, and fortunately I can eat all the mangoes I want with no trouble.) The fact that mangoes contain tiny amounts of the irritant may explain why they are so addictive.
So what is Deepest Night like? At first, it seems to be a simple mango and vanilla scent, with the vanilla just a bit sweeter at first than the L’Eau des Merveilleuses vanilla note. The mango is plump and juicy, though not quite as prominent. Thankfully, it is definitely not the watery travesty I was dreading. It is not as “big” a fragrance as the other, which could be a good thing under some circumstances. The Jean LaPorte stuff could take over the whole room; it was exhilarating and expansive, almost dizzyingly heady. Deepest Night is quieter, more secretive, and aptly named. As it develops the vanilla becomes darker and less sweet and more like what I remember of the old LaPorte perfume, or like the much-lamented older Comptoir Sud Pacifique vanilla was. (I bought the original version of CSP Tiare several times, and loved every minute of wearing it.) There is a leafy greenness to this fragrance as well, just peeking out from the lushness. A hint of spice – my favorite cardamom as far as I can tell, due to an almost complete lack of available information on this perfume – rounds out the sumptuous feel of this scent as it dries down. It does not have the sillage of the LaPorte but stays close to the skin, like your own seductive secret, waiting for someone to come closer…
Ghost has come out with a whole haunted house full of “special editions” like Summer Dream, Sheer Summer, Summer Flirt, Anticipation, Serenity, et cetera, and I am sure they are all very nice, but I want to go back to the jungle. When I smell Deepest Night, I can hear the rustling of unseen things in the undergrowth and feel the sultry air of a tropical night. Take me away!
Image source: “Mango II” by Jeanne-Marie Derrick, West Indian Art Studio, jeanne-marie.com; escentual.co.uk
June 26th, 2007
Parfum D’Empire, known for its perfumes as odes to historic events or characters, will launch three new fragrances in September: Osmanthus Interdite (Forbidden Osmanthus) inspired by the Chinese empire, blending osmanthus and green tea with a hint of leather; Fougere Bengale (Bengal Fern), “a fragrance of mosses and hay warmed up with the mouthwatering allure of gingerbread… a veritable tiger hunt in Queen Victoria’s India”; Equistrius, an homage to horses, sacred to the ancient Romans, “an ambry-woody fragrance built around an iris and ambrette-butter accord shaded with accents of sandalwood and soupcon of chocolate” (Osmoz.com). I’m particularly excited about the horse scent, believe it or not. I bet it’ll be really good, considering how much I love Cuir Ottoman (one of the best, “raw” leathers ever). Iris seems to be the note du jour – what will be next?
June 24th, 2007
In the past few years, I’ve gotten quite accustomed to seeing chocolate as a perfume note. Actually, accustomed to the point of being leery of any perfume featuring the note. I suppose you can say I’m one of those people who prefers to apply chocolate inwardly as opposed to outwardly. Chocolate can smell all right but it sure tastes much better! Nevertheless, the news of Iris Ganache, the new Guerlain from the L’Art et la Matiere collection, produced a jubilant reaction: being a huge fan of all the previous editions (Bois d’Armenie, Cuir Beluga, Angelique Noire, and Rose Barbare), I chose to close my eyes on the chocolate and focus on the iris instead.
Turns out, only seeing the iris isn’t quite possible. Iris Ganache is exactly what the folks at Osmoz.com described it as: “an iris butter worked like a ganache cream for pastry”. Iris and heavy cream/chocolate blend – who would have thought this could possibly work. Well, it does and then some. Iris Ganache is just as much about chocolate cream as it is about iris. The two are inseparable. Its outward application is equivalent to what it would do in your mouth – it instantly melds with skin in a most caressing way. Iris Ganache is a perfect blend of powdery and creamy. It intensely reminds me of my other Guerlain favorite, Apres l’Ondee – a gourmand version of it. I marvel at this similarity for two reasons: 1) both scents are years apart; 2) Iris Ganache is as Guerlain-like as can be. I’ve been living off of my sample for a few days now and will absolutely want to get my hands on the bottle.
Iris Ganache features the notes of bergamot, cinnamon, white chocolate, iris butter, patchouli, cedar, amber, vanilla, musks. It can be purchased at Bergdorf Goodman in New York as well as the Guerlain flagship store in Paris.
P.S. As a side note, I’ve come up with two more reasons to love Iris Ganache: 1) it is gourmand and it is good! 2) the juice is pink, and I can’t stop admiring this fact.
Image source: osmoz.com
June 22nd, 2007
Aromascope goes on a mini summer vacation (that’s much needed and looked forward to)! Disregard the picture (I just loved the feeling it conveys), a beach vacation it is not, although there is a possibility to be near water at some point. I’ll be back on Thursday with a review of Iris Ganache by Guerlain (which I’m utterly smitten by at the moment). Have a good week and make sure to smell fabulous!
Image source: corbis.com
June 17th, 2007
This week’s Needle In A Haystack is quite a solemn event – not only did I pick one of my absolute favorite perfumes of all time but it also happened to be one of the Femme Fatale scents (copyright: Marina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things who created this category). In her pick of the day, she talks about serendipity, and it looks like it’s spilled over to Aromascope as my scent is also a dark, extraordinary rose. In addition, we both share the love for each other’s catch which is becoming rather rare these days as Marina’s been drifting farther and farther away into the Land of Lovely Flowers. So I’m truly enjoying both writing this review and my fragrance.
I should also add I’m enjoying Rose Barbare as my pick for yet another reason: its author is my lovely Francis (ah, I’m all a-twitter!) Rose Barbare was created in 2005 as part of the L’Art et la Matiere collection (a project that coincided with the opening of the Guarlain flagship store in Paris, employing outside perfumers to create an ode of sorts to a particular note). Rose Barbare wasn’t my immediate favorite as my first impression was of this concise nature: “sour rose”. Indeed, Rose Barbare might not be as easy to love at first sniff as it is a chypre fragrance, believe it or not. A modern day chypre, no doubt, that’s somewhat reserved but still not particularly politically (olfactory?) correct. The chypre here is achieved by rose drenched in honey and patchouli or perhaps even a little oakmoss (I cannot find the list of notes). It’s hardly barbaric but it is a rose with thorns and proud of it – dark but not brooding, relatively vicious but not crude. It’s a very successful chypre, considering true chypre would hardly fly these days. It’s approachable but only if you’re willing to approach it. If you see the other side of the rose, if you look beyond its conventional pastel, powdery, honeyed appearance, you’ll love Rose Barbare. To me, it’s like the heart of a rose – its true nature, its intimate secrets of living with thorns, open wide for everyone to see.
Rose Barbare can be purchased at the Guerlain flagship store in Paris as well as at Bergdorf Goodman in New York.
June 14th, 2007
Chamade Pour Homme was initially released in 1999 as a limited edition fragrance. I don’t have any recollection of such a thing, so the news of Chamade Pour Homme being released this year came as a total surprise. The scent is now part of the exclusive Les Parisiennes collection available at the Guerlain flagship store in Paris (whether it will be available at the Guerlain counter at Bergrdorf Goodman in New York remains to be seen). I’ve always admired the original Chamade for women. I say “admired” implying certain detachment for no other reason than I feel it’s one of those fragrances that requires particular presentation – be it appearance, demeanor, pose, a state of mind or a certain glow. In other words, I can’t just simply wear it. I need to possess that something to pull it off. It might sound strange but it is the case with select few perfumes. Chamade is an unbelievably gorgeous floral chypre – a powdery, vanillic bouquet of hyacinth, rose, and ylang ylang. The name symbolizes the fast beating of the heart which the women’s version fulfills on all the way. Does my heart go wild on Chamade Pour Homme?
The answer to that question is simply this: it very well could. It has that potential. However, in this case, I’m not required to possess that certain something to pull it off. Quite on the contrary, I feel like the fragrance needs some supplementation of character. First of all, Chamade Pour Homme is not just a men’s version of Chamade. In spite of featuring hyacinth, it has close to nothing in common with its partner and pretty much stands on its own. Well, it would have had Dior not released Fahrenheit – I find a rather distinct resemblance. Chamade Pour Homme is a somewhat reserved, tame version of Fahrenheit. It opens up with peppery violet that’s almost instantly joined by rather faint hyacinth and quite a bit of nutmeg. I like the nutmeg part as it gives the scent an appealing dusty quality. After that, it’s pretty much me wanting for more action and not much happening. I really do like Chamade Pour Homme but it’s just somewhat linear? Watered down? Dull? I’m not sure which it is but it’s clearly not quite Guerlain-like. I keep thinking it’s a lot like the drydown of Fahrenheit, perhaps just a bit softer. I’m laughing at myself for writing so much about a scent that doesn’t thrill me. It’s like I keep giving it a chance to get my heart racing but, sadly, my heart remains still.
Chamade Pour Homme features the notes of bergamot, black pepper, violet, hyacinth, nutmeg, precious woods, vetiver, leather.
Image source: madame.lefigaro.fr
June 13th, 2007
By Tove Solander
I’m cheating today (I’m afraid I’m running out of ideas for proper smellalikes…) and reviewing two versions of the same perfume. Thanks to the generosity of a fellow swapper, I got to try Schiaparelli Shocking in both vintage and contemporary formulations. I have found the following notes for either or both: bergamot, aldehydes, tarragon, honey, rose, narcissus, clove, civet, chypre.
Vintage: The vintage formulation starts out with the sort of flat and plasticky feel the top notes (especially citrus top notes) often acquire as a scent ages. Then it morphs into the bitter powderiness of oakmoss, tons of it. There may be a whiff of old-fashioned, perhaps even dried, roses in between but not a lot. Vintage Shocking is dry, warm and slightly musty like vintage scents often are. The chypre accord gives it a foresty feeling of wood, tree bark, pine needles and pine cones but the face powder version of forest, mind you. I might get a hint of spice, and a hint of the soapy sharpness of aldehydes but that’s about it. There’s nothing shocking as in, well, civet, here, which I find a tad disappointing.
New: The reformulation is even less shocking. It’s roses like your granny wore them: powdery, soapy, sharp and sweetened with honey. Now I don’t like rose scents, hardly even in nature (they tend to smell potpourri-like straight from the rose bush) so of course I’m biased but I don’t think this is a very good rose scent. I think you have to be an avid fan or roses to really appreciate it, someone who can’t get enough of the note. What it has in common with the vintage version is the amount of classic powder, with some soapy aldehydes on top. But while the vintage version is all oakmoss powder, this is all rose powder, and I don’t think I have to tell you which powder I prefer.
Image source: parfumdepub.net
June 12th, 2007