Archive for July, 2007
By Donna Hathaway
This is a story about one special place, which was made possible by some very special people. It is an unassuming little shop to the untrained eye, housed in a whimsical older building on a busy street, easy to pass on the way to bigger and brighter things. But if one takes the time to linger for a moment and peer inside, a world unto itself will be revealed, a magical kingdom evoking the Old World of charm and elegance, of beauty appreciated and great care taken. It is the world of The Perfume House and its owners, the delightful gentleman Chris Tsefalas and his lovely wife Christina. Others have told their story in many different ways, but this is my personal tribute to what this place has meant to me over the years.
When I say that Mr. Tsefalas is a Gentleman I mean that in the truest sense of the word. He is courtly, charming, warm, gregarious, and the most civilized human being I have ever met in my life. He spent a lifetime learning from the great perfumers of the world before deciding to open his own perfume shop so he could share his love for perfume with others. He was trained by the finest masters and is himself a Nose with a capital “N”, a title bestowed only upon those few who must pass a rigorous test to acquire it. (Can you recite all the major notes of any perfume, even one you have never smelled before, before the droplets sprayed in the air hit the floor? He can.)
The Perfume House in Portland, Oregon opened its doors in the early 1980s. I luckily discovered it very quickly due to the chance reading of a story in the newspaper. My sister and I were curious, so we went down there to see what all the excitement was about, as the story had made it sound quite intriguing, and we both liked fragrance anyway. Well, the upshot of it was that we spent about five hours there the first day, and received a head-spinning education in fine perfumery. I have returned there often over the years, and I never leave without learning something new about the art and history of perfume. (Chris is also a master storyteller, and he can weave a romantic perfume tale like no one else.) I learned of great houses and obscure essences, of near-mythical rare perfumes and great standards of the perfumer’s art. Knowing virtually nothing about perfume except that I adored it, I allowed myself to be guided toward that which would suit me best. I remember that one of my very first purchases was a lovely Fragonard. (Who knows much about this house in the U.S.? It is one of the great French houses of the highest quality, but they do not spend their capital on advertising.)
Sometimes it is best to simply place yourself in the hands of an expert who knows much more than you ever will, and in this case I was glad to do it. I discovered Quartz by Molyneux and Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion, and the Jean LaPorte line; I found that the Caron Muguet de Bonheur was exponentially better than any other Muguet fragrance I had ever smelled, and that the fragrances from the House of Caron and I got along very well indeed. (The Perfume House is the only West Coast source of the unsurpassed Caron face powders; famous Hollywood makeup artists order it from the shop when nothing else will do.) There is a Caron “shrine” in the store that includes several of the crystal urns like the ones in the Paris Caron boutique. Almost any Caron perfume in commerce today can be had here, either from stock or by special order. All things Caron are cherished here, as the house represents quality at the very highest level. On a recent visit there was a small tester vial of 2003’s Tubèreuse, which is one of the exclusive urn perfumes available only in the Caron boutiques. I thought I would faint with sheer pleasure when I smelled it. It is sublimely radiant yet quiet, the conceptual opposite of the better-known Fracas by Piguet, and lacking the stemmy greenness of Frederic Malle’s wonderful Carnal Flower with that one’s chilly opening notes. It is the tuberose equivalent my other favorite Caron soliflore, Muguet de Bonheur; refined, serene and opulent without being overly lush. If the store does not start carrying this one soon I will need a ticket to Paris.
Most of all I found the perfume house I loved the best: Jean Patou. When the store first opened, one of the big introductions was the release of the Jean Patou Ma Collection, a reissue of twelve Patou perfumes from the past as a celebration of the house. Not only was the twelve-bottle miniature coffret with a story booklet available, but all twelve were also sold in large single bottles. Of course everyone knows about Joy and 1000, the twin flagships of Patou and deservedly so; what they do not know is how many fine perfumes came out of the house and have been discontinued. I fell in love with most of them right away; the deep, woody Normandie, named after an ocean liner, the bright and effervescent Cocktail, the saucy Caline, the languorous Colony with its pineapple decadence, the heartbreakingly lovely Momênt Suprème, and the stunningly romantic floral Amour Amour. But for me, one stood apart from all the others, and does so to this day; Vacances from 1936, brought back to life once more in all its breathtaking green beauty. Just a short time ago Chris told me it is considered by many to be the finest Green Floral of all time, and I cannot agree more. This ethereal fantasy of hyacinth, lilac and mimosa with fresh grassy notes is the epitome of simplicity yet is sophisticated as well, and it is a memory perfume that can evoke a deep emotional response for many. Alas, this is gone now, as are the others that briefly reappeared in that perfume Brigadoon and soon went away again. I can only console myself with the knowledge that newer Patou masterpieces such as the wonderfully intense Sublime are also of the very best quality available today.
Over the years I have experienced some very special fragrances that I never bought, but I was glad for the experience. Some were out of the range of my budget, such as JAR Golconda in one of its very few appearances outside a JAR boutique. I will never forget its stunning clove-carnation power. Then there is the amazing floral Amouage Gold for women, the first release of the House of Amouage. My sister fell hopelessly in love with this one, a truly great fragrance imbued with rare and precious Silver Frankincense, and she wants no other. I have to agree that it is one of the best things I have ever smelled though my favorite of the line was the sadly discontinued chypre Ubar, which is no longer made due to the difficulty in procuring the best ingredients for it; the house’s standards are very high. Other perfumes were too rare and not for sale, such as vintage Rochas Femme, or wonderful but not really my style, such as Schiaparelli Shocking, but at least I got to smell them at the time. I cannot remember everything about the hundreds I have tried, except that I loved them all. Even those I would not wear myself I was taught to appreciate for their own qualities, as works of highest achievement by the perfumers who made them.
There is a secret treasure trove as well – the Private Reserve, a collection of alcohol-free pure perfumes made by the finest noses in France, and available only by appointment. Once you have bought one of them you may order any of the line directly from France as long as you do it within one year of the first purchase. I have tried only two of these and I cannot even begin to tell you how good they are. There are five soliflores (rose, jasmine, muguet, gardenia and tuberose) and the rest are masterful blends. I have experienced the rose and tuberose, and if I could go without food or rent to buy these I would gladly do so. (I am almost afraid to try the others!) Because there is no alcohol, they are very stable and do not change like more diluted formulations do. I recently brought home some cotton soaked with the Private Reserve tuberose essence and put it on my bedside table to scent my room. Two weeks later, it still smelled exactly the same as it did straight out of the bottle. I will leave it there until it fades, which should take a long time.
Of all the rarities, one of the most memorable was the release of several perfumes once exclusive to the Czars of Russia; manufactured in France, they were of the highest quality and could not be bought by ordinary Russians. The original formulas were not lost in the Russian Revolution, as they were in France, and they were briefly re-created in a limited edition some years ago. I do not recall the names of all of them, but two have stayed with me to this day. Anna Karenina was an indescribably romantic floral, unique in that it was composed of dried flowers instead of fresh. That sounds odd I know, but it was rich and powerful and made me think of a heavy silk brocade curtain at an opera house. The other one was a name I could not spell or pronounce but translated as something like “Russian Fantasy.” As soon as I smelled it, I was transported to a verdant forest surrounded by songbirds and murmuring waters. It was an out-of-body experience. This was the one I bought, but of course it is no longer available. If I close my eyes I can still remember how it made me feel. This was truly perfume as Art, and I owe it all to one man’s dream.
COMING SOON: Part Two: The Stories, to be published over at the Perfume-Smellin’ Things blog next week, so please visit!
Image source: adclassix.com, vintageads4u.com, ebay.com, amouage.com
July 31st, 2007
A little while back I did a post on one of my favorite perfumers, Francis Kurkdjian. Ever since then, I’ve been on pins and needles about doing an interview with him, and I can’t even tell you how excited I am to share it with you today. Thank you to Monsieur Kurkdjian for taking the time to share a bit of his brilliant mind (and nose) with us, perfume fanatics!
1. Was there a specific moment when you knew you wanted to be a perfumer, and what/when was it?
I wanted to follow the path of both my grandparents in fashion and couture but I don’t know how to draw. At the age of 16 I therefore decided to become a perfumer because, in its spirit, perfume is to me the closest métier to fashion.
2. What profession would you have gone into had you taken an alternate route in life?
Architect? Restorer? Archaeologist? Ballet dancer? Who knows! But no one knows what the future is made of.
3. Your fragrances seem to have a definite association with a particular color palette. Are you inspired by particular visual images or even specific palettes?
I am not sure I agree with what you said. When you look through my work from Le Male in 1995 until the new Ungaro fragrance for women or “For Him” by Narciso Rodriguez that will launch this fall, I am not sure one can say they are inspired or driven by one specific palette.
4. If you could have a dinner party with guests from any period in history, who would you invite?
If I was hosting a dinner party I would invite: singer Maria Callas, painter Pablo Picasso, dancer Anna Pavlova, scientist Isaac Newton, philosopher Blaise Pascal, and spy-courtisane Mata Hari!
5. Do you have a mentor? The works of which perfumers do you admire and why?
During my training (3 months) at Quest International (now Givaudan) I have taught perfumery with Olivier Cresp and during my first year I have worked under the guidance of Christopher Sheldrake (now at Chanel), Maurice Roucel (now at Symrise), Noel Guillot, and Gilles Romey. Then during my career at Quest I had the pleasures to work with Françoise Caron, Calice Becker, and Christine Nagel. I like the work of Annick Ménardo and Dominque Ropion today.
6. What are your favorite perfumes?
Must by Cartier, No 5 by Chanel, Eau d’Orange Verte by Hermès, and Eau de Rochas.
7. You have your own atelier of perfumes. What are the typical or unusual fragrance requests?
French artist Sophie Calle asked me to create the smell of money a few years ago. I have also created perfumes for baby shower parties, weddings, etc.
8. What other things are you passionate about in life, and how do they affect your perfume creations?
I play the piano. Enjoy ballet and music concerts. Art exhibitions. But what I enjoy the most is spending time with my friends.
9. You seem to have a way with rose (Indult Isvaraya, Parfums MDCI creations, Lady Vengeance, Rose Barbare). In my perception, your rose based scents are full-bodied, voluptuous, sort of femme fatale. Is that your favorite note to work with?
Rose is not my favourite note to work with. It happens I used it many times over the past two years because it was the right note to use to depict and create the emotions I wanted to reproduce from the projects I was given to work on.
10. What perfume notes in your opinion are not used enough these days and why?
Leather notes are not very commercial so they are not used very often. Bel Ami by Hermès is a one of my favourite perfumes as well.
11. You work on so many versatile projects like the Paris Opera perfume, Sillage de la Reine, Papier d’Armenie… what other interesting projects would you like to take on?
I have worked again for the Castle of Versailles and the show goes during all the month of August (to visit the online page, click here). I have many projects going on for next fall and I will keep you posted…
12. What would you recommend any perfume aficionado that they should do at least once in their lifetime?
Maybe going to Iran to see the rose harvest when the sun rises….
July 30th, 2007
Miss Aromascope is taking a break for a few days. Life has just gotten a bit too busy (and a bit too much at times), so a little recuperation is in order. I’ll be back next week!
July 25th, 2007
By Donna Hathaway
I have a confession to make; I am not a big fan of change for its own sake. Just because something can be done does not mean it should be done. Any changes should be clear improvements and not just because someone had a half-baked idea and wanted to foist it on the rest of us. I can’t stand it when my favorite stores get what is called a re-set – they move everything around so I can’t just go in and grab something because I know exactly where it is. Large chain stores are infamous for this, and there seems to be no clear reason for it. Some big national stores require it every couple of years, which of course goes over like a lead balloon with their employees, who must devote many extra hours to relocate everything in the store to “freshen it up” for the supposedly jaded shoppers. This tactic is guaranteed to drive me nuts – and sometimes, to drive me entirely away from shopping there.
I guess this is one reason why I love classic fragrances so much, since they have stood the test of time and need no improvements. That is, until someone decides they need to be “updated” for a new generation of perfume customers. In most cases this is a bad misstep on the part of the manufacturer. Guerlain, Chanel, and others have been caving in to this pressure lately, and I hope it stops before too much damage is done to the originals. (There are other threats to the integrity of the classics as well; along with every other fragrance aficionado I know of, I abhor the new European Union commerce rules requiring complete ingredient labels on perfume and limiting the use of such wonderful natural materials as oakmoss and bergamot in favor of synthetics or cheaper substitutes. I will not go into greater detail here, as many others have rendered their far more expert opinions on this subject.)
One perfume house that has not done a whole lot of this is Caron, one of my top two favorite classic houses. (The other is Jean Patou.) Yes, they have come out with new fragrances, as all houses do, but for the most part they have resisted the idea of bringing out “versions” or “special editions” of their longstanding favorites. For this I am most grateful, as I am sure many perfume lovers are.
I have in front of me two Caron fragrances, classic and modern. Fleurs de Rocaille is a floral creation from 1933. The bottle is instantly recognizable as a vintage Caron flacon, elegant yet sturdy and an excellent indicator of the quality inside. Caron bottles are always classy; the idea of putting one of its products in a vulgar or cheap-looking container is simply unthinkable. The name means “flowers in a rock garden”, and it has a fresh, charming spring-like quality, combining a number of floral notes including rose, violet, jonquil, jasmine and mimosa with cedar, musk and rosewood. I would not say it is a youthful or ingénue fragrance despite this quality; rather it is a perfume meant to be worn by a true Lady. It is not really simple, it is simply free of anything resembling vulgarity.
I located several versions of the original formulation for this perfume and I suspect that it has possibly been redone at some point, or that the notes given by OsMoz.com are incomplete, but it does not smell like a recent introduction at all. There is a cool restfulness to it, due to the violet, mimosa and jonquil, yet there is also a spicy note of carnation, a round richness from the rose, and sharpness from the cedar. Some of the notes seem somewhat disparate, and one wonders how they all work together to create such a fine effect. Since it is a a Caron, of course it works splendidly. This one of those wonderfully seamless floral blends that is greater than the sum of its parts, a quality I admire very much in a fragrance. There is a greenness that somehow bears a resemblance to the cool airiness that stephanotis would lend to a fragrance. There is rose in the opening as well, but it’s hard to isolate, as is the subtle carnation note. The whole thing is subtly brightened by ylang-ylang, and the lively character persists into the dry down due to the presence of cedar. It is highly wearable yet distinctive, and would be appropriate for almost any occasion that I would wish to be a part of.
I recently became reacquainted with this one due to receiving a generously sized sample with a purchase, and I found myself wondering why I did not own a full bottle of this. Of course I want to try all the new things; who doesn’t? I get distracted by the sheer numbers of new releases every year just like everyone else. However, I have learned enough by now to understand that 90% of these will be entirely forgotten in five years (if not sooner), and only a tiny fraction of the surviving ones will ever become enduring classics. Exceptions would be new lines like Frederic Malle and Serge Lutens, whose standards of quality rival the great older houses. If Fleurs de Rocaille were introduced today, it would probably receive positive attention from those who understand perfume, but to the world at large it would most likely be lost in the shuffle of too many new products and not enough marketing. Caron does not purchase flashy ads starring stick figure, six-figure actresses to promote its perfumes. It does not have to. For those to whom these things matter, Caron stands for high quality and tradition, and it does not skimp on either one.
(That being said, Caron did release Miss Rocaille in 2004, in a similar-looking (though bright red) bottle, but it is an entirely different fragrance and should not really be construed as a “version” of the original.)
This brings us to the Caron I wear most often – the modern classic Lady Caron. The flacon has a typical Caron look, elegantly rounded with a sharply faceted stopper, but the design on the glass is a bas-relief image of the head of our own great gift from France, the Statue of Liberty. Ernest Daltroff, master perfumer and the founder of the House of Caron in 1903, had vowed to one day create a fragrance as a tribute to America, as he was a refugee who arrived in Canada in 1939 and then came to the United States, a Russian Jew fleeing the horrors of wartime Europe. He never did make such a perfume, since he never returned to Europe to run the business and died two years after coming to America, but Patrick Alès, the current head of Caron, paid tribute to this vow by unveiling Lady Caron for the first time at the opening of the New York City Caron boutique in 2000. (The creator of this lovely scent was Caron’s in-house perfumer Richard Fraysse, who also brought us the lovely Tubereuse in 2003.)
Lady Caron is recognized by French perfume industry experts as the softest fragrance ever to be introduced to the world by a French house. It has absolutely no sharp edges to it anywhere – wearing it is like being enveloped in cashmere while floating on a cloud. It is not in the least powdery, however, as that would render it too sweet and smothering. It glides serenely in a mist of magnolia, jasmine, neroli and orange blossom. The heart notes are of rose, raspberry and peach, but no, it is most emphatically not a “fruity-floral” either. When I say peach or raspberry, do not think for even a moment that these are the usual notes found in the department store celebrity scents. They are so well integrated into the composition that they are almost invisible, serving only to add a soft shimmer of gentle freshness, and they do not resemble food in any way. The rose is almost certainly Rose de Mai and not damask, as its damp, soft character is only a mere breath, and a perfect complement to round out the other notes. Oakmoss and sandalwood complete this harmonious picture, and they are highly refined and subtle renditions of those essences. Again, this fragrance is a masterpiece of design that transcends its individual ingredients. I cannot imagine not having this wonderful perfume in my life. It is the very essence of femininity, in the best possible sense of the term.
Now, the Lady Caron in my possession was purchased well before the new EU rules were handed down, so I fervently hope that it will not need to be reformulated. It would take a true master to do so successfully, as it is ideally balanced just the way it is. The oakmoss is a great part of what keeps it from being overly sweet, and I really like oakmoss anyway. I can smell that in this fragrance more than I can the sandalwood, and it gives it a good deal of its character. It would be a terrible shame to alter this in the name of conformity. As much as I dislike change for its own sake, I have an even greater aversion to conformity. The EU’s arbitrary “because we said so” rules are destroying some things of great beauty, and that in itself in unforgivable. Let us all hope that these wonderful perfumes can endure well into the future without unnecessary interference.
Image source: The Perfume House, parfumdepub.net
July 24th, 2007
While reading my Perfume Legends book, I came across a few quotes that I consider gems or little odes to some of the classic perfumes. Today I’d like to share a few with you.
Jean-Paul Guerlain on perception of fragrance in relation to Chamade: “Perfume is made mainly so that one remembers the woman who wears it. I like to call it the elevator effect. This is the man who goes to meet his lover – whether it be his fiancee, his wife, or his mistress – who has entered a building before him. She is wearing perfume, and he smells it. Suddenly his heart beats faster and the blood rushes to his head.” (Page 147)
Ernest Beaux, on creation of Chanel No 5: “When did I create No 5? In 1920, precisely. On my return from the war, I came back as manager of the laboratories. Mlle Chanel, who had a couture house which was very much in vogue, asked me to make her some perfumes, I presented my creations to her in two series: 1 to 5 and 20 to 24. She chose one of them numbered 5, and to the question, “What name will you give it?”, Mlle Chanel replied, “I show my collection on the 5th of May, the fifth month of the year, so let’s leave the number it bears, and this number 5 will bring it good luck.” (Page 42).
Roja Dove on the appeal of Shalimar: “Many women who wear Shalimar say, “I love a very fresh and light perfume. I hate anything which is heavy”. For them, the bergamot head notes dominate the perfume. On the other hand, you’ll find women who have worn Shalimar for years, and love the smouldering sensuality of its perfume. If you talk about the light and fresh facets of the perfume, they think you’re mad. Yet, if you point out that burst of freshness, suddenly they experience Shalimar in quite a different way. Shalimar is remarkable. Its overdose on citric freshness perfectly balances the suaveness of the balsams, and the warmth of opopanax”. (Page 56).
Image source: parfumdepub.net
July 22nd, 2007
It seems like I’ve made several perfume lists here in the past few weeks, and today is yet another list! Woohoo! However, today the list is a joint project between other perfume bloggers – our top 10 fragrances this summer. The fragrances below aren’t necessarily best for summer weather – they’re simply my most loved and worn this season.
Carnal Flower by Frederic Malle is the scent I enjoy most in heat.
Iris Ganache by Guerlain as the best new release this season.
Frederic Malle Une Fleur de Cassie Body Butter is my favorite scented moisturizer.
A.Maze by People of The Labyrinths in eau de toilette makes me feel amazing.
Black Oud by Montale is my top going out scent.
Fleur de Narcisse by L’Artisan Parfumeur is elegance in a bottle.
Lady Vengeance by Juliette Has A Gun makes me feel like a vixen.
Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford is my all around feel good scent.
Rose En Noir by Miller Harris is one of my favorite sultry rose scents of all time.
Coromandel by Chanel as a versatile scent that can be easily dressed up or down.
Please be sure to check Summer Top 10 on the following blogs:
Bois de Jasmin
Now Smell This
July 19th, 2007
As many of you may know by now, last weekend was the Great New York Sniffathon – Miss Aromascope went to visit Miss Colombina from Perfume-Smellin’ Things. Sadly, we didn’t make the news for the people of New York do not find such affairs worth noticing. For us, however, it was a big thing. New York is possibly the only city in the U.S. with such ample perfume offerings, and, needless to say, for a perfume fanatic the experience is akin to that of raiding a toy store for a child. There was much sniffing, grabbing things off the shelves, clapping hands, leaping for joy, staring into space pondering financial future, bemoaning the lack of available arm space, and a general state of emotional confusion. In short, we had a blast! At the end of it, a couple of conclusions were mutually drawn: 1) sniffing is a bit challenging in super humid weather; 2) despite the abundance, there was not a whole lot of novelty. To clarify the second point, novelty in this case implies the lack of new releases at this particular time combined with our blasé state of mind (and nose). But enough of this. Miss Colombina has written a superb detailed report on her blog, and I’ll give you a more concise version, pointing out the highlights and letdowns.
For a Guerlain maniac as myself, the beautiful Guerlain counter at Bergdorf Goodman seemed like my second home. My beloved Iris Ganache is already there, Vol de Nuit parfum is still my lemming, and Cuir Beluga chose to spend the rest of its life with me. On the upcoming addition list this fall is the former travel exclusive Vetiver Pour Elle that will grace the famous bee bottle, and Cologne 68 that will join the Bergdorf Goodman selection. There will be two new releases: Quand Vient La Pluie (which will be quite pricey), and Spiritueuse Double Vanille, an impressive vanilla scent a sample of which is in my possession to be scrutinized and reviewed in the near future. What can I say, I’m all a-twitter!
Barney’s New York Frederic Malle section. After a lively and quite enlightening chat with Luis (whom you must see at least once in your life), we left in physical pain over having to keep our mouths shut until further notice. If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m talking about a new release that’s due this September – a masculine scent that’s supposed to sweep us off our feet. Meanwhile, the U.S. version of French Lover that will be called Bois d’Orage will actually be slightly different – heavier on musk, we hear. In addition, there will be a new floral scent next year. An exciting piece of info for those living in Chicago and nearby – there will be a Frederic Malle counter at the Chicago Barney’s this fall. Yippee!
Aedes de Venustas. If you love perfume and have been to New York but not to Aedes, you don’t really love perfume. The shop is a must visit for the experience will be unforgettable. Although we were more enchanted by the lovely Karl than actual sniffing, a few fragrances were fun to try: the new Passion Bresil and Secret Afrique by Esteban, both quite nice for the price; the new Parfums 06130 – Feuille de Reglisse, Lentisque, and Lierre Rose (reviews coming soon). We paid tribute to the exorbitant beauty of Yu by Mane (a limited edition scent that costs $5,000) but chose to proclaim our love for A.Maze by People of the Labyrinths (preferring the eau de toilette concentration). There will be a new signature Aedes fragrance soon but that’s all I can tell you right now.
Takashimaya Tea Room. Yes, even though the store has a newly arranged fragrance department (that’s now on the first floor), there was absolutely nothing perfume-wise that tickled our fancy. So down we went to drown our grief in tea. I’m not a regular tea room goer but I can tell you it’s the best. We blissfully sipped the signature rose petals tea and lunched on the most delicious grilled Gruyere cheese bread and salad with the most amazing dressing. A gustatory highlight for sure!
Infusion d’Iris by Prada. Due in stores very soon, this is a nice, understated, easy-to-wear iris blend. As you may have noticed, iris is the note du jour, and, frankly, I’m a bit jaded about it. However, Infusion d’Iris is a pleasant exception. There will also be an iris scent by L’Artisan Parfumeur coming this October called Iris Pallida but I haven’t smelled it yet. I hear it’s quite good.
Vetiver Extreme by Guerlain. That one was spotted at Sephora. An earthy, smoky vetiver with substance – just the way I like it.
Yerbamate by Lorenzo Villoresi. I’m still in disbelief it took me so long to find this. A tea scent with a twist: smoky meets minty on the base of patchouli and soft spices. A perfect summer scent!
Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Estee Lauder. This was a big surprise for both of us. A review to come soon. For now I’ll just tell you that it’s very, very good.
Vivara by Pucci. The bottle is the only appealing thing about it. For a reissue of the classic, it’s a bit of a joke. No sight of anything remotely chypre – a transparent aquatic floral instead. Shame, shame.
Guerlain Ouds. I can call this nothing but a big, fat mistake. Had there not been enough Guerlains for me to revel in, I’d never have forgiven this mishap. First of all, these are supposed to be ouds (think Montale ouds) but there’s nothing oud-like about them – a complete lack of character, staying power, and appeal. Gone in less than 10 minutes.
Numerous Light Blue clones that I don’t find necessary to even list here.
Other Fun Shops To Visit Just For The Fun Of It
Space NK in Soho. The newly opened U.K. apothecary in a contemporary, minimalist style with a few European skincare lines but mostly familiar Sephora stock. We smelled all the Space NK fragrances and found nothing too exciting.
Le Labo in Soho. Since we were both very familiar with the line and its fragrances, we left rather underwhelmed. An interesting, industrial style lab of a shop that seemed to lack a certain flair.
Lafco in Soho. The shop is gorgeous and has the entire Santa Maria Novella collection.
Tom Ford boutique on Madison. Seemingly intimidating, the shop houses the coolest display of the new Tom Ford private collection fragrances as well as the charming sales lady who made us feel very welcome in that posh world of Tom Ford.
Henri Bendel’s on Fifth. Despite its array of niche fragrances, the highlight of the fragrance department is the L’Artisan boutique in the adjacent room. A true eye candy.
That’s about it. I should also mention that meeting Miss Colombina and her lovely family was the biggest highlight of my trip. I could fly there any time just to be in her fragrant company and play with her numerous perfumes. She’s truly a rock star!
Images: perfume fanatics at the Guerlain counter at Bergdorf Goodman and Aedes de Venustas.
July 18th, 2007
By Tove Solander
When I first tried Diptyque Tam Dao I came to think of Wickle Chestnut & Vetiver, so I thought I’d do a side-by-side test for a smell-alikes post. They scents have no notes in common – for Chestnut & Vetiver I know of no other notes than the two mentioned in the title, and for Tam Dao I’ve seen rosewood, cypress, ambergris, and sandalwood listed.
Closely compared, the two scents have more differences than they have things in common. What made me think of Chestnut & Vetiver when I smelled Tam Dao is a certain boozy, buttery, smooth and somewhat “perfumey” quality. In Tam Dao I suppose it’s the sandalwood, with a little help from the muskiness of ambergris, while in Chestnut & Vetiver it’s the nutty aspect of the scent.
Chestnut & Vetiver is the stronger of the two scents, easily overpowering Tam Dao when smelling them side by side. The boozy and buttery quality is more pronounced in it, strengthened by a toasted or roasted note and perhaps even hints of coffee. It would be entirely gourmandy if it wasn’t for the vetiver, showing its darkest and most earthy and rooty side. The overall effect is perhaps one of wool: soft, warm and cozy but distinct smelling and even a little repulsive in its lack of freshness.
Tam Dao does have a similar warm, smooth feeling, but it’s also much lighter and more transparent. The cypress gives it a hint of green in the top note but not anywhere near the strong, dark vetiver of the other scent. The “perfumey” quality shared by both scents is more pronounced in Tam Dao, mostly due to the sweet, aromatic, vaguely floral rosewood note. It’s also ever so slightly soapy, which I presume is from the ambergris, commonly used to scent soaps. Overall, it’s a more sophisticated take on a boozy, buttery comfort scent, and if Chestnut & Vetiver makes you nauseous in its intensity, Tam Dao might do the trick.
Image source: luxois.com, ticklemywickle.com
July 17th, 2007
I’m back from New York after having a blast sniffing with Miss Colombina and am already spotting first withdrawal symptoms. My olfactory solace is to have samples of the new Serge Lutens fragrances (that were waiting for me at home, thanks to a very kind fellow perfume lover from Europe). My first impressions (for those who’re really dying to know what they’re like): Sarrasins, the jasmine one, is Gorgeous. The color is what struck me the most at first – it’s deep, rich purple. Upon first sniff, a luscious, indolic mix of tuberose and jasmine. Louve, the almond one, is surprisingly good! It reminds me a lot of Lipstick Rose by Frederic Malle mixed with Rahat Loukoum, one of the Serge Lutens non-export scents, plus a little almond. I know this probably sounds odd but that’s really what my nose is picking up at the moment. I plan to do more detailed reviews of both in the near future. Also, please stay tuned for our New York Sniffage report coming this Thursday! Good day to all!
July 16th, 2007
July 13th, 2007