Thursday, December 21, 2006

It is extremely hot

It is 37+ Celsius or nearly 100 Fahrenheit. The sky is WHITE, no not with snow clouds (though those are grey as I recall) but with smoke. Bushfires in the north east of the state have been burning furiously for over a week and the air is thick with their brimstonian waftings. Okay that sounds both hifalutin and inaccurate as brimstone is sulpher which isn't quite the same as thousands of hectares of burnt gum tree fumes but the whole experience is so oppressive that I'm falling into hyperbole. Venturing outside I can feel the smoke in my lungs and my eyes watering. There is no visibility from behind the house across the street, just whiteness.

Today I have lavishly applied ElizabethW's Sweet Tea. This is often described as being "just like ice tea, with sugar". Ice Tea is the sole remaining food item I miss from the mother country. Sure I can make it myself but I miss being able to buy it when out and drinking vast quantities of it over a sandwich. If I lived in the land of Ice Tea I would say goodbye to Diet Coke forever. Of course even though I knew it was going to be oppressive today I have not made any Ice Tea as that would require finding ice cube trays, waiting for tea to cool from boiling point and on and on. I don't do instant as I like it unsweetened and regardless instant tea does not exist in this country. Anyway, onto the perfume..

ElizabethW is an inexpensive line of perfumes from San Francisco. Sweet Tea is delicate with a lemony squeeze that avoids all the bad things I could say about lemon and fragrance. There is no citrus element. It does smell like tea in a simple and refreshing way and the sweetness distinguishes it from other tea fragrances. It is not a plant scent so much as a gourmand scent. In this weather I do not want complicated. I do not want to have to think. I just want to sit and sip and wait for the cool change to come blowing through. Sweet Tea accomplishes this very well.

"Gracious, spirited, elegant. Enticing oriental black teas, juicy fresh Amalfi lemons, and the sweetness of almond honey."

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Robert Piguet's Fracas

One of the strangest things I've experienced with the perfume journey is the disturbing idea that I know myself far less than I think. Had I been assigned in school to make a list of the 10 perfumes that most describe "me" it would have included many fragrances which I find truly unwearable. Certainly that brooding introspective artiste, Black Cashmere, would have topped the list but though I've tried to wear it numerous times I find I simply do not like it. Appreciate it, yes; I cannot fault it and consider it near perfect. But wearing it makes me depressed. That's really all there is to say about it.

Of course being surprised by what I don't like isn't much fun. Far more exciting to be surprised by totally unexpected loves, yet these are equally disturbing because again I question how well I know my own tastes.

"It's VERY strong.."

"An intense tuberose"

"sexy, bombshell blonde"

So obviously not me, the Introvert. And yet I am absolutely in love with Fracas. Every morning I want her, I look forward to applying her, I can't bear to think about all the samples and decants I am supposed to be testing because every moment spent with them is a moment away from her.

She is creamy and dramatic. Her drydown is beautiful, not just the basenotes but a confection of all she has to offer and the time spent getting there. Sometimes she is as sweet as frosting and other times there is a guarded quality to her as though it is not yet her time to bloom. In the heat--oh my. How a perfume manages to capture the soft and waxy feel of thick white petals I don't know but that is what Fracas does.

Of course I understand perfectly why many hate her. I am that person myself, one the anti-Fracas crowd who finds her vulgar and appallingly loud.. or so I thought. Such a wonderful surprise to be wrong.

Robert Piguet's Fracas was created in 1948.

Top notes: bergamot, orange blossom, leafy green essence, peach blossom, pink geranium

Heart notes: tuberose, jasmine, lily of the valley, white iris, carnation

Base notes: sandalwood, musk oakmoss, vetiver, cedar

Thursday, November 16, 2006

With Love.. Hilary Duff

With Love is a mellow sweet fragrance with a star anise note that raises its drinking age by at least 5 years. Young teens will buy this because it's NEW and Hilary Duff but they will not want to lick it off their arms like they do Fantasy. The delicate use of star anise saves this fragrance from being another gourmand, rather it is *gasp* a baby oriental. It warms my heart to think of pre-teens getting their feet wet in a grown up category. This would be a cozy scent to wear in the winter when looking for something lighter.

The real star of this fragrance launch is the packaging. A most beautiful creamy blue with a gold filagree border decorating even the square tester cards. This sweet girl-blue reminds me of bath and body products from the 60's with their opaque monochrome lending a solemn face to products of fancy. Didn't we used to have bicycles in that colour, heavy and perfect on Christmas? Where has this colour been for the last few decades? Mixed with pinks no doubt. How strangely retro to see it on it's own.

The photo fails to reveal the true wonderment of the Duff. So often that is the case.

Mangosteen Fruit, Exotic Spice Blend, Chai Latte,
Mangosteen Blossoms, Cocobolo Wood, Amber Milk, A
Amber Musk, Balsam, Incense.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Brit Red and the Minions of Plaid

After successfully ignoring the Burberry line for many years I have finally succumbed. Ever a wide-eyed child of advertising spin and my own imagination I have fallen for many a fragrance fantasy..

You will be scary and maybe kinky and definitely sexy and also Mr. LeCarre will want to write about you.

You are lying on your stomach under the magnolia tree, crushing the waxy petals into your palms as you read Empire of the Sun. Overhead, the drone of an airplane.

You were born to wear white and be at least 6 inches taller. Your hair, cut in a blunt bob at chin level, could slice cheese. You talk through your teeth; people not only listen, they defer.

How funny to become enthralled with the idea of a fragrance you "can wear every day". Oh yes, this is apparently high praise in MUA review land. "For every day wear!" "You can wear it at work and at home!" "This is a fragrance you can wear daily!" Wow, how exciting. Yet somehow after reading every Burberry review for every Burberry variety I wanted just that. A fragrance to wear every day because, you know, I am a normal person who wears pleasant, easy to wear fragrances. I am a nice girl, I wear a nice perfume that I was given for Christmas and since I wear it every day it will make the perfect Christmas present next year as well! I am not a person who's perfumes come with matching nipple balm.

And so Brit Red and I spent the evening together. Brit Red's bottle is an extremely delicious colour. Maybe my newfound desire for every dayness will progress to actual Burberry Brit who's bottle and juice are far more generic than that loudmouth Brit Red but hey, you have to start somewhere. Brit Red is everything everyone says about it; rhubarb, gingerbread, vanilla, amberry florals. It is nice. It is plaid. All the Burberrys are plaid and as I marinated in rubarb gingerbread goodness while watching a DVD plaid infested my thoughts.

The film "The Upside of Anger" is a lumpy, blandly acted and forgettable film with a very weird ending. It contains six incidents of plaid.

Curtains in Terry Ann Wolfmyer's house, blue plaid.

Upholstered dining chairs in Terry Ann Wolfmyer's house, blue plaid matching the curtains. The chairs and curtains clash bizarrely with the blue and white floral wallpaper, but perhaps this is a design gesture that has passed me by.

Plaid dress on daughter. I can't remember which one, they were all so muted. Very nice dress.

Two plaid shirts worn by Kevin Costner to help cement his character of a sports person, middle-age-spreading has been. Both shirts exceedingly dull and ugly.

Plaid living room pillow in Kevin Costner's house. Blue.

I am glad I have my MUA inspired fantasy to associate with Brit Red because otherwise I would be stuck with a wildly different fragrance association, that of chavs. Thank goodness I can live in almost ignorance of how the UK views the house of Burberry because Brit Red really is very easy to wear. I might wear it again tomorrow!

Photo is "Ground Burberry" courtesy of Stebbi's Photos.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

pretty bottles with bad, bad contents

Let me begin by saying that I am very proud of myself that I have never bought one of these beauties. I have been tempted. Just the other day I saw Live at a give-away price, the big wonderful bottle, and I didn't even stop for another spray to try and convince myself. After all it's not like I don't have perfectly lovely bottles I could display who's contents I also enjoy. And it's also not like I actually display any of them. No, they live in boxes in a closet. In the dark. Unseen other than for a few moments. All of which would make succumbing to the pretty bottle temptation particularly stupid.

Calvin Klein's Euphoria Blossom

EB is a delicate frosted rendition of the original, very charming. A trend for summer versions, Stella has produced two in this vein. Plummy pink frosted glass is incredibly attractive in the heat; someone should try making a drink bottle in this, it would sell. The contrast with the silver solidity of Euphoria adds to its charm. The fragrance itself is almost non-existant, stagnant water with petals floating on the bottom. Very light, it evaporates almost immediately. There is really nothing else to say about it, though if you are after a non-offensive gift at least it looks nice.

Alexander McQueen's Kingdom

Ohh.. Kingdom. Who designed this beautiful bottle, a ruby red geode? The summer editions are are also geodes, pink crystal wonders. The first time I saw Kingdom I was gaga over the design, I had to have it! My dad's rockhound phase had imprinted big on my young mind and anything cool and geological attracts me. One of the most fun things we ever did was pick out our own geode at a dusty shack somewhere in the midwest, pay for it by weight and eagerly watch it being sawn open--anything could be in there! Ours was dark with tiny dusky crystals. We were the first people ever to see it. It was beautiful. And so is the artistic representation of treasure within an egg of stone that is Kingdom. This ad for Kingdom makes me wonder if McQueen had something other than geodes in mind with the bottle design--Judy Chicago anybody?

When I first skin tested Kingdom it was so awful, so truly repulsive that I wondered if I had brushed up against some fetid curry while at the food court and this was mixing powerfully with the perfume alcohol. I expressed shock at what I was smelling. The sales assistant lowered her voice, "It's not very nice, is it." No. It's not.

Guerlain's Insolence

The Insolence bottle is one of the loveliest I've seen. It's a glass spinning top, roundly satisfying to hold, intrigueing to spray. You see it and you want to scoop it up and enjoy it. Had this fragrance been only bland and not horrid to me I think I would have been unable to stop myself from acquireing this bottle. Sadly the scent itself is not something I can ever see wearing other than for five minutes before a shower to remind myself what it smelled like.

J.Lo's Live

A lyrical vase with a touch of carnival glass the Live bottle has me sighing "ah.. perfume". Unmistakably a celebration of fragrance just writing about it makes me want it. Only the largest size has this appeal. While the 100ml could be a blown glass creation the 30ml looks like a stunted globule of a craft project gone wrong. Some things are cuter in miniature and.. some are not.

If Live was your basic floral fruity, I would like it enough to take the bottle home. The drydown which appears some three minutes after the topnotes kills it for me. Touted as "caramel" the same flat note is dressed up as "praline" "cupcake" and other terms of gourmandology in fragrances aimed at the young. When accompanied by whipped tonka, a patchouli filling and dusted with vanilla sandlewood the note does a good job if you like that kind of thing. In a fruity floral it is stale, stale, stale. What is it even doing there? If you want to sweeten the fruity floral mix in some pineapple juice, it works for Live Luxe. Unfortunately for Live Luxe the bottle colours are horribley garish, though the design is the same. If only there could be a mixup at the factory..

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Guerlain Insolence

Insolence or "the new Guerlain" as it is trepidaciously referred to opens with a sharp blast of surprisingly strong synthetic violets. There is a clear chord of iris but I could detect none of the "red fruits" listed in the notes. It's vivid, it's modern in composition and it's strangely choppy. I kept sniffing for aldehydes to transform it into something classical and befitting of the floral accord. As the intial blast wore off (very slowly) I was waiting for vanillas to gourmandize what was smelling, in fits and starts, like a fresh piece of Hubbabubba just popped into a passing teenager's mouth.

Insolence seems strangely lost, floundering for its identity. It's too purple to be sexy, takes itself too seriously to be youthfully fun and often too blunt to be pretty. There are some passably lovely moments in the drydown but that takes four hours to get to. An ugly woody phase reminded me of another unpleasant modern purple.. at one point Insolence was Aimez Moi with a shot of Hypnose.

Those on a perpetual search for the violet candies of their childhood may find Insolence makes a passing swipe at it. However Insolence has none of the delicacy lovingly remembered and is almost medicinal in strength. It's a good thing violet flavoured syrup was never a medicine option, but if it had been Insolence would be an unwelcome reminder.

Notes: Iris (Orris), Orange Blossom, Rose, Violet, Sandalwood, White Musk, Tonka Bean, Raspberry.

Why do the caged violet bears sing? Here is another photo and a spot of info.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Annick Goutal's Eau de Ciel

Eau de Ciel is honeyed lucerne and clover flowers warmed in the sun. Avoiding the literalness some niche scents strive for Eau de Ciel is more of an evocotive painting that transports you to a memory of summer you cherish. Sweeter in the cool weather, greener in the heat, Eau de Ciel is full of shades and moments. Just when I think it has little staying power and has vanished it wafts like a gentle breeze that makes you look around for the simple beauties it speaks of.

Eau de Ciel, "Water of Heaven", Annick Goutal describes it as "aerial, fresh, soft, tender, natural". Not a description that would normally make my mouth water--why didn't they just include the word "vapid". How wonderful that I found Eau de Ciel and was not turned away by this wan blurb.

The first day I wore Eau de Ciel I wanted to paint it all over my body and forget every other bottle of fragrance I owned. This is a rare and wonderful response that took me completely by surprise!

Eau de Ciel is so perfect, so beautiful it makes me want to name a child after her.

Notes are Brazilian rosewood, violet, Florentin iris and lime blossom.

Painting is "View of Buffalo Pass" by Richard Galusha.

For 5722 images of hay as well as an exhaustive study of hay in literature I suggest you visit Hay in Art. You will not regret it. If you are an obsessive lover of reference material like myself you will be filled with awe!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

OOoo°°Purple Haze°°ooOO

A day of fragrance dallying. While glancing at a forum over breakfast, still unscented, I saw the word ~~rose~~. Never a favorite suddenly I had to be rosy and blushing with petals. Such an impulse and thankfully I do have one rose scent, Stella. Other people seem to smell this better than I do, the wateriness washes it all away. A beautiful draught of amberry rose that refreshes even as it vanishes. Thoroughly modern with not a single moment of powder--and of course it escapes any soap associations which is probably why it is in my collection.

Some hours later, over lunch with another forum scan, a mention of Paco Rabanne's Ultraviolet. I have a sample of this rolling around the bottom of the rather packed sample box, and after a lot of ferretting I found it. Powdery and candy-esque, reminscent of that flavour in childrens lollies immediately recognizable as "purple". Not sweet enough to put me off, and I was enjoying the powdery play when it unexpectantly went sour on me. Reflected on sour candy for a bit.. warheads, sour straps and other tartly purple goodness. Perhaps if it was dry and hot this would have been refreshing, but I eventually decided I was pushing the association buttons to no happy avail.

And so, come evening, on to Alien. Odd woody jasmine, woody the way an old vine would be, still spitting out some unenthused blossoms. Strange synthetic note that brings to mind the wonders of plastics in an almost reverent way.. Oh where would we be without them? Let us pay homage to how they have revolutionized our lives! The drydown has been likened to grape gum in the same way some experience Poison, but it seems to speak more of the old gum wrappers left in a wooden drawer, only faintly retaining their original scent. Now for some reason I find this whole experience worth repeating, judgeing by how much I have used of the bottle. I used to go back to the Guggenheim time and time again as a teenager as well, never sure if I liked a lot of what I was looking at. Perhaps not being able figure out my own response is what makes it so interesting.

Purple haze all in my eyes, uhh
Dont know if its day or night
You got me blowin, blowin my mind
Is it tomorrow, or just the end of time?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Laudering With Intent

I recently spent some quality fragrance time at the Estee Lauder counter, and what a lovely time it was. I've always enjoyed Lauder, if not to wear at least to sniff. Old school big scents, I can happily sample knowing I will spared some of the tedious current obsessions in modern fragrances. No billowing fumes of tonka bean, breathing their fetid marshmallow warmth all over me, what a relief! Last outing I sampled 4 new fragrance offerings as proffered by the perfumeconnection gals, each one heaving "tonka tonka tonka" in my face. A bad experience, I was happy to return to the refined 70's notions of Lauder.

Some of the Lauder line is like a really groovy retro wallpaper, you adore it though it is too loud to consider plastering on your living room walls. But.. you appreciate it. You are glad it is there. You want to keep it around and you know it would be a design tragedy were it to disappear under a sea of mushroom and pastels. My recent samplings were of Pleasures and the newly released Pure White Linen.

Pleasures was probably the only Lauder I hadn't tried (other than Aliage which does not exist in this country). The name itself stayed my hand, though Pleasures Exotic had been card sprayed for me by a promo person when it first came out. When an enthusiast on a forum recently described it as "crisp" I was mortified; a little nomenclature snobbery had kept me from "crisp"! How very awful! Within moments of trying it I fell in love with the top notes. They were something I had been always looking for. A crisp green cut floral, evocotive of aldehydes but not heavy with them. Beautiful, a truly perfect moment. Unfortunately the drydown was more than disappointing, the crispness melting into a fussy hotel soap. This did not soften with time but retained a nostril burning harshness which was very sad. I could see I would be hitting the bottle for that top note high with alarming regularity. I did sample Pleasures Intense hoping for a greener experience but found it was an intense version of the drydown right from the start.

Pure White Linen was another matter entirely. Pure White Linen is beautitful through every stage, and will have it's own blog entry in the near future. Meanwhile I would like to thank Estee for yet another pleasant and refined sniffing experience. Her fragrances always give me a lot to think about.

Picture is one sample of Australian designer Florence Broadhurst's beautiful wallpaper.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Head Cold

No BPAL for me while I work my way through the tissues. I did break down the other day and try Serpent's Kiss. There was a wonderful, almost brittle note that I loved. However after a rather vigorous nose blowing session a faint whiff of the hated BPAL cake mix spice came to me. Possibly both these impressions are dead wrong. I haven't got much Serpent's Kiss in the vial so I'm waiting until all is crystal clear to really test it. SK is one of the sticky oils which I kind of enjoy, impractical though it is to have your wrist smeared in honey.

Today I'm wearing a spot of Trouble and very lovely it is.

Photo is Charlotte Church's album Tissues and Issues

Sunday, August 06, 2006

BPAL Project: Holiday Moon

~Yankee Candle Revenge~

Oh how I have gloated over my Yankee Candle virginity when it comes to BPAL. Happily spared of this inescapable association I am free to enjoy, or not, oils that to others shriek candle spice. Oils can have their assignations in my brain with other perfumey institutions but the Yankee Candles do not even get a wave in. It has been nyah nyah to Yankee Candles.

Bamboo, oudh, green and white tea.. lovely, yes? I am sure it is but I am unable to process any of this as the demon of TeaTree oil stains the life and delicacy out of them all. I am sure many an antipodean would recoil in the same way having soaped and antisepticized and souveniered their way through countless TeaTree products in their life. TeaTree you pervasive predator be gone from my olfactory pathways!!

"Bamboo pulp and oude with green and white tea."

Photo is of the beautiful plant TeaTree growing along the shore.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

BPAL Project: Stardust


Champagne pale and effervescent, makes you smile over your white musk cocktail. This scent is pretty and glittery and makes me think of Rive Gauche and her slim blue-eyeshadowed friends. Yes it does smell 70's as far as fragrance composition goes and it's nice to revisit girly and glam. Stardust isn't worried about remaining true to any floral purities and is happily its own synthetic party. It's this love of the blend rather than the integrity of notes that makes it such a flashback scent (particularly if you've been smelling nothing but BPAL's for some time).

Stardust has great lasting power and unlike most BPAL's is linear from first application until your sleeves the next day. The white sandlewood is a gorgeous base; otherwise the notes individual are lost in the moment. And that's rather refreshingly creative.

"And I don’t need no superheroes,
I don’t care for gods with wings,
I hear teardrops on the pavement when Lady Stardust sings….
oh Lady stardust sing..lady stardust sing."

Lady Stardust - Lisa Miskovsky

BPAL's Own Stardust Novel:

"When the holidays roll around, not everyone has mistletoe, caroling and cookies on their minds. This scent is a paean to celebrating hard: nights covered in glitter and dusted with cocaine, flutes of Cristal clutched in shaky hands, leather and lace, the Spiders From Mars in the background, and twisting, sweaty limbs entangled in dark corners. Hairspray and cigarette smoke is the incense in this temple to decadence, strobe and mirrors replace the devotional candles, and Bolan sings the hymns. This scent is for everyone that has every drifted off into Quaalude-induced reverie to the beat of a tribal 4-on-the-floor: the sound of Mott the Hoople, Sweet, Slade or the Dolls. This scent reflects the futurism, self-indulgence and excess of the Glitter 70's: champagne, hyacinth, tuberose, ylang ylang and flashing white musk with jonquil, tobacco flower, white sandalwood and a pale poppy."

Friday, August 04, 2006

BPAL Project: Kuang Shi

Enchanting and delicate the mandarine tingles in the background of this oil's gentle opening. The mango develops well, adding depth and roundness and more colour than fruit to the sandlewood which is tinged with spice. You wouldn't call this a fruity scent, rather it settles into a canvas of desirable orange. It makes me think of teak furniture and Bali sunsets. A secret scent, you will carry it with you like a fantasy jaunt you know you will take some day.

I could not by any imagination gymnastics connect this charming scent with zombies.

"Bust out the dzang dzi! This scent honors the zombies of Chinese lore. Mandarin orange, white musk, mango, and white sandalwood."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

BPAL Project: Gaueko

Fir trees, cinnamon and perfumey goodness. Nice in a pot-pourri kind of way, this smells like a Christmas wreath. Similar to other scents without having any stand out qualities, this would a be a good oil to go caroling by. I'm fond of all BPAL's resinous forest oils, this one is almost the starter base. Festive rather than dark.

"Blackened sandalwood and misty lavender, with curling wisps of smoky tobacco, nag champa, and labdanum."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

BPAL Project: Siren

"Bewitching, tantalizing and dangerously seductive. A thrilling, exotic blend -- deceptively sweet, but spiked with malice. White ginger, jasmine, and a touch of vanilla and apricot."

At it's best Siren has that intense crushed skins taste of apricot preserves done well. I can detect no ginger but there is an aromatic jasmine gently playing on the apricot. Unfortunately this is but a brief blooming of yumminess and it soon settles into a stale, vaguely fruity mishmash. The siren call of ants to the remains of afternoon tea perhaps.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

BPAL Project: Jailbait

Pink Bubblegum with stale undertones. Chewed too long it's gone old and cold and back to that rubber base. The drydown is more cool and knowing, with similar notes to Pink Sugar.

Not much of a crisis here unless you want to titter over the name.

"Innocence defiled. Sticky pink bubblegum and the thick, sweet scent of orange and cherry lollipops smeared over a breath of heady womanly perfume."

Monday, July 31, 2006

BPAL Project: Come to Me

When dipping into my imp supply I like to vary how I go about testing them. Sometimes I look up a few oils to avoid testing too many in the same vein in a row. Often I am feeling adverse to a certain kind of scent, gourmand or lavendar or any manner of things and I want to avoid sampling something I'm distinctly not in the mood for. However I do love to just dip in and pick one out based on the name or colour and that's what I did with Come to Me. I assumed there would be some seductive quality to it, perhaps similar to Suspiro. Come to Me would wear a beautiful white dress that revealed rather more than you expected when the sun shone on it.

I did get the white dress right, but there is no come hithering here. This is the scent of CLEAN and showered, freshly laundered and dried in the sun and freshest of air. 'Fresh' and 'cleanly laundered' are usually code for dryer sheets--a comfort scent for some but chemicals to me. However this very light scent captures the hot sun on clean sheets blowing in the wind. Yes the detergent element is still there; how else did the sheets get clean? But it is light and clearly some enjoy the fresh laundry experience slathered on their arms.

I've never explored the clean sheets area of fragrance so I can't compare this to any other offerings in that realm. I do enjoy the hot sun on cotton waftings but over time I know the detergent element would irritate.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

BPAL Project: Snake Oil Revisited

My first BPAL review was of Snake Oil, the lab's most popular scent. I was very unimpressed. I did note though that I had at least two samples of Snake Oil and that there was much discussion in BPAL land about the wondrous ageing qualities of this oil. It seemed prudent to revisit, though I don't know the age of either sample.

My 5ml bottle is an entirely different creature from the imp I took my original sample from. Vanilla cream with none of that odious cake mix spice, the drydown has some solemn woods to it which beautifully compliment the still dominant vanilla. Twelve hours later the scent remains. Am I sniffing an aged bottle of Snake Oil or is this the fresh one and the imp the old soul? I guess I will have to order a new one to find out.

Painting by Vicki McDonald Leppek, Beginning & End, Minoan Snake Goddess.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

BPAL Project: Mata Hari

"Five roses with soft jasmine, warmed by vanilla, fig, tonka bean and mahogany, spiced with a drop of coffee bean."


Look at these beautiful, beautiful notes! Oh My Goodness and other creamy things, how to seduce an oriental lover with near edible florals. Sigh.. if only it were true. Let me repeat that:


This begins with horribly strong jasmine with a sweet undertone. I was sure the sweetness would soon dominate and the jasmine recede. The tonka was ever so softly discernible, for a very short time. Soon it was all nose burning jasmine and rose in the soapiest possible way. I waited for the coffee, I hoped for the coffee! All those warm dark sweet thangs well.. maybe they sank to the bottom of the vile.. oh, I mean vial.

The drydown has a slight staleness to it which might be the coffee (I was still hopeful).

Painting by Stephen Brayfield whose Fine Art section is lovely.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Favorite Fragrance Ad: Egoiste Platinum Chanel

A Fabulous Ad!

Surprising, almost hilarious, evocative. I am sure this fellow read The Magus far too many times in high school, with much underlining.

"Our accepting what we are must always inhibit our being what we ought to be."
John Fowles

Thursday, July 27, 2006

BPAL Project: Numb

Anaesthetic. I feel it should be applied with a swab, prior to a 'procedure'. Designed to wear in sweltering heat it does have a cooling effect, but so does an alcohol bath. If you find antiseptic soothing this may agree with you; but don't forget it only exists because you began with sepsis. I would wear Numb to a crummy hotel lobby hosting a UFO convention, dousing myself liberally at regular intervals in the ladies room. This would add authenticity to any tale I had to sell.

It is exactly the sort of odd smell you notice on someone that, while not offensive, causes you to minimize the conversation and keep your distance. Whatever they were doing to acquire this smell you do NOT want to know about it. You can't escape the notion that it involved unpleasant fluids.

Photo from Alien 3 "Alien 3 isn't a cheery film but then the experience of the last 15 years of Aids hasn't been either"

"Revel in the gelid polar frostiness that is Numb, and forget about the heat for a moment"

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

BPAL Project: Verchernyaya

A little whiskey..

A little tobaccy..

A little patchouli..

A little post-coital sweetness.. or perhaps a little poppy seed paste.

This is a comfort scent that dries down to furs and lingering stories. I like it very very much. The poppy is that of poppy seed pastries with their sweet nutty quality rather than anything floral. Bury your face in a warm red fur, your ears burning in the cold and breath in deeply. Oh the leather settees in smoking rooms that fur has draped itself over.. the cedar chests at the foot of beds it has been discarded upon. How beautiful to think of fur gathering moments as the years go by and warming them for those who later seek them out.

"Vechernyaya: The Evening Star
Three white musks with poppy and patchouli."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

YSL Cinema

Cinema, released by YSL in 2004 is often poorly reviewed on fragrance forums. "Bland" "Banal" "Uninspired" "Boring floral".. these tags make me sad. Cinema is a beauiful amberry floral with curl of vanilla weaving gently into its base. Often it gives me the impression of warm hay, that delicately perfumed scent that has nothing to do with flowers and makes you want to breath in deep. But most compellingly Cinema smells like strong, fragrant, milky tea.. it is a comfort scent that warms a cold autumn day and sparkles in the summer.

Some 20 years ago I was happily drinking tea with milk, no sugar. Though I had drunk it black as a child a year spent in London soon cured me of that as you practically needed a bullhorn to make the cafes serve it to you that way. I had quickly acclimatized and continued on with my white habits for some years. Then one day in the throes of reading my way through all of Dostoevsky the words "samovar" "tea" "glass" "sugar" lit up in my mind. Suddenly I had to have some tea, black and in a glass with a teaspoon of sugar. I had no silver tea holder, but that did not matter. I went on a long jag of tea in a glass with 1 and when I got past that I ended up firmly a black tea drinker, no sugar, in any manner of cup. My black tea days continued on for 2 decades.

And then came Cinema. For all the world it smells to me, most divinely, of strong sweet and fragrant milky tea. Oh it is very enjoyable, a comforting and filling aroma in the chill of winter. I was happily lavishing it upon myself when once again I was gripped with a desire teaward and I found myself drinking cup upon cup of strong white tea, sweetened. Now not only have I preferred my tea black for these many years but I've considered white tea to be somewhat revolting. This notion is now quite dead! I am happily calcium enriched and probably consuming several hundred more calories a day.

I also fell in love with the bottle. Unfortunately in my search for bargainfulness I ended up with the 2005 Christmas Gold Collector edition which looks like some tacky glam bag. I'm making a little promise to myself that when the time comes to restock I will go for the original.

Top note : Clementine, Almond Blossom, Cyclamen
Middle note : Amaryllis, Sambac Jasmine, Peony
Base note : Amber, White Musks, French Vanilla, Benzoin

Monday, July 24, 2006

BPAL Project: Blood Kiss

Very vanilla and honey in the nicest possible way. A sweet and delicate cake perched on a saucer to be had with tea. Unfortunately this contains a dusting of the generic BPAL spice that is horribly tiresome. At first I thought the amount quite forgivable but the drydown is mired in BPAL spice mix. If this doesn't bother you and you want a gentle sweet cake of a scent it does succeed at that, at least for a time. No doubt if this was promoted as a lustier scent the delicacy would be even more stifled by BPAL spice.

"Lush, creamy vanilla and the honey of the sweetest kiss smeared with the vital throb of husky clove, swollen red cherries, but darkened with the vampiric sensuality of vetiver, soporific poppy and blood red wine, and a skin-light pulse of feral musk."

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Wan Fung Art Gallery

The Wan Fung Art Gallery is an online exhibition of contemporary Chinese artists. The gallery itself is located in Hong Kong with branches in three Chinese cities. There are many striking works here to explore; I was thrilled to discover this site of treasures!

This print is by Dai Bin.

BPAL Project: Bliss

This is pure milk chocolate, with a dusting of cocoa powder in the drydown. No florals or patchouli to grownup-fy it and not sickly sweet but just right. If milk chocolate is what you want then this is it. Not much staying power but chocolate is usually eaten pretty quickly.

"A shot of pure, self-indulgent euphoria! A scent that is very, very wicked in its own way: the serotonin-slathered scent of pure milk chocolate."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Taking Vetiver by Strategy: Brian Eno on Perfume

A wonderful article by Brian Eno on his fascination with scent, perfume and the difficulty in finding objective language for olfactory truths. Thanks to POL for bringing this to my notice, what a treasure!

"You don't have to dabble for very long to begin to realize that the world of smell has no reliable maps, no single language, no comprehensible metaphorical structure within which we might comprehend it and navigate our way around it."


Nanshe is part of BPAL's Somnium collection, created to aid and abet sleep and dreams. Nanshe "opens up psychic sensitivity during sleep and aids in the understanding and correct interpretation of portents and symbols."

Down the loooooong dark tunnel of sleep into an interior greenly lit this draught if over applied would make a spiffy smelling salt. I suppose the idea is to wake within, after you have fallen into slumber.

Nanshe is fresh spruce, verbena and lemon. There are moments of ozonic after-rain scent which are quite fascinating but sadly the lemon soon dominates. The spruce opening is very bright eyed and the drydown settles quickly into verbena. Something nicer to wake to than burnt feathers.

Photo of the interior of the Spruce Goose.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Boucheron Trouble

Top Note: Citron, Digitalis

Middle Note: Jasmine

Base Note: Precious wood, Vanilla,
Amber, Blue Cedar

Glancing through this blog I see a small theme unfolding; I have always considered "dry" to be a highly desirable attribute of perfume. I may enjoy my fragrances that embrace the word "lush" from time to time but my long term respect is lavished upon dryness. In revealing itself to be a non-sweet, dry vanilla Boucheron's Trouble has me kneeling at its feet.

My favorite posession is an antique Chinese altar table from the late 1800's. It is beautifully carved with the red lacquer darkened over time. If my table had a scent that scent would be Boucheron's Trouble. The wisdom of ages past distilled into one perfect red bottle, Trouble is a portal to universal truths. If Trouble were an oil it would be used to anoint the postulant seeker, wrapped in study and meditation.

Often compared to Dior's Addict I would offer this; Addict is richer but Trouble is wiser. Richness will make you ill after a time and needing respite but no one ever woke up with a hangover from too much wisdom.

I do wonder at the note listing choosing the word "digitalis" rather than "foxglove". Is there an actual difference there or is digitalis the dangerous, non-flowery choice? Digitalis make us think of poison, medication, the heart.. and foxglove reminds us of our grandmother's garden.

Trouble is in my Top 5 scents and though some on that list will vary with time Trouble shows no sign of doing so. Boucheron Trouble, I am quite besotted with you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

BPAL Project: Sophia

We begin..

Almost eye watering freshly opened lavendar soap!

We settle for a spell..

Lavendar soap with a beautiful jasmine tea accord!

We dry down..

My, that was a pretty soap. I must buy some of this for Mother.

And a very fast scent journey this is, from oh-my-goodness strong to faint memory in less time than it takes to finish one's ablutions.

"The Gnostic goddess of Wisdom. A solemn, deeply profound draught of lavender, soft musks, star jasmine, black rose, delphinium, and gentle spice."

BPAL Project: Bordello

Bordello starts off very sweet. The plum and blackcurrant are candied and enticing and soon develop into deeper and more delicious fruit. Amaretto adds a grownup nod in the background and very enjoyable it is. Once the candy fades you are left with an intoxicating liqueur, sweet but not for children. A wonderful rendition of purple fruits that puts the unending crop of fruity perfumes to shame. Yes I, a not very foodyscent much less fruity person, could just about chew off my arm! I love the way the tartness of fruit skins isn't lost but lingers in the background like an aftertaste.

This scent is remains wet and juicy thoughout its development. The drydown ages into a bosomy merlot. Unless you have been tainted by a childhood spent sucking blackcurrant pastilles all thoughts of candy are gone in the drydown.

The name is quite a misnomer and the description lost in this oil. "lusty"? Well perhaps in a very airbrushed portrait of a cathouse you might find wine and crushed fruit skins signifying "snarls of pleasure". I am more of a Mitsouko girl.

"A decadent, deep perfume, lusty and luxuriant. The scent evokes images of velvet-lined Old West cathouses, tightly laced corsets, rustling petticoats and coquettish snarls of pleasure. Bawdy plum with amaretto, burgundy wine and black currant."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

BPAL Project: The Caterpillar

"you flicker
and you're beautiful
you glow inside my head
you hold me hypnotized
i'm mesmerized...

your flames
the flames that kiss me dead"

From The Caterpillar by The Cure

The Caterpillar is a song of great charm from The Cure's seventh full length album, The Top. Whimsical as peyote fueled haiku, adorable and at times gripping, The Top is a one off Cure masterpiece. Pay no attention to Robert Smith's spouted opinion about The Top, he is wrong. He is also fond of saying any thing that comes into his head during interviews.

So, what does this have to do with BPAL's The Caterpillar? Absolutely nothing. The Caterpillar is a very well blended scent, sexy and perfumey in the classical vein. With neroli and jasmine dominant this starts out as a lovely floral, reminding me of what I had hoped for in Boucheron. The vetiver adds some real vavoom to this one, heady and seductive. The Caterpillar is far closer to classical perfume than other BPAL's I've tried. The drydown becomes warmer and sweeter, leading the floral into more oriental realms. A pretty and potent old school scent that is very grown up.

"Heavy incense notes waft lazily through a mix of carnation, jasmine, bergamot, and neroli over a lush bed of dark mosses, iris blossom, deep patchouli and indolent vetiver."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

BPAL Project: Wanton

A clean and watery rose
A reedy greeny smell..
The bathroom is so fresh!
A scent to perfume hell

No subtlety for those
Wantons wandering from the fold
The headache blast of aerosol gas
A harshness burns the nose

poem by A. Scrubber

"Feminine sexuality in it's rawest form. Palmarosa, red sandalwood, attar of rose, patchouli."

BPAL Project: Saint-Germain

"We begin to take up people . . . the other day they seized an odd man who goes by the name of Count Saint-Germain. He has been here these two years, and will not tell who he is, or whence, but professes that he does not go by his right name. He sings, plays on the violin wonderfully, composes, is mad, and not very sensible. He is called an Italian, a Spaniard, a Pole; a somebody that married a great fortune in Mexico, and ran away with her jewels to Constantinople; a priest, a fiddler, a vast nobleman. The Prince of Wales has had unsatiated curiosity about him, but in vain. However, nothing has been made out against him; he is released, and, what convinces me he is not a gentleman, stays here, and talks of his being taken up for a spy."

Horace Walpole, 1745

If Comte Saint-Germain wore pomade in his hair I rather doubt he would have acquired it from the local barber--rather he would have made it up himself in his apothecary's lab and invested great meaning and purpose into every ingredient. Straight from the alabaster jar this hair pomade would have smelled like any man's cologne, fresh with lavendar and brisk. But combed thickly into the hair and warmed by the scalp Saint-Germain's pomade would soon give off the somewhat dirty scent of powdered roots, roots Saint-Germain believed would increase his intellect. The emollient would settle into something warm and aged, dry but still with the aromas of lavendar. Carnation, geranium, mosses; herbaceous and dead things sifted together into a promise of special erudition to the wearer. Secretly Saint-Germain would inhale his own creation. To the modern observer an element of foppishness is inescapable, but to an elaborate creative creature such as Saint-Germain his scent is an alchemy adding to both his powers and his mien.

"gilded amber, hypnotic lavender, brash carnation and deep mosses."

Thursday, July 13, 2006

BPAL Project: Bastet

Bastet is creamy white icing with grownup spices.

Bastet is sugared almonds with an addicts saffron.

Bastet is holy lotus with whispers of myrrh.

Bastet is intoxicating, delicious, an intense potion you wish you could lick off your fingers..

Bastet is a ravishing liqueur.

Bastet fades into the dryness of the desert, warm with a scent memory of perfume. This is perhaps Bastet's true wisdom.

A stunning BPAL who's scent journey from vial to drydown has a lifetime of experiences in it. A BPAL that will inspire me to always hope for every imp to be, again, The One.

Painting by Frank Frazetta

"Luxuriant amber, warm Egyptian musk, fierce saffron and soft myrrh, almond, cardamom and golden lotus."

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

BPAL Project: Fenris Wolf

When I was a child just reading about dark forests would make the back of my neck tingle. They conveyed most vividly an interior world of fears and intensity. From "Where the Wild Things Are" to Mirkwood of "The Hobbit" these descriptions were incredibly real. I knew the dark forest intimately. I had feared it and known that one lost step could find me eyes wide, unable to make my way back to light and safety.

Fenris Wolf is a sticky dark red goo in the vial, like sap. It starts off a very natural incense woody resin. If you had ever forgotten that sandlewood was actual wood this will remind you. The rosewood is dominant, dry and very impressive. Soon a little spiciness emerges, the spiciness of earth and bark. Always this is the forest at night; a still, crackling, scary scent. The red dominates in the heat of the wolf moving through the cooling forest and the glow of his eyes.

This is a private scent. A power scent. The drydown is increasingly bitter as befits the deepening night. There is some green in there of crushed leaves and vines which brings a roundness to the bitter tone. Though never a sweet scent there are edges of sweetness to it. Multi-layred, Fenris Wolf is a masterpiece.

"The raw, untamable power of chaos. Rosewood, amber, red musk and a dribble of red sandalwood."

Monday, July 10, 2006

Farewell to Two Fine Gentlemen

Last week I farewelled two fine gentlemen who have been living with me for a year or so. We went down to the local international point of departure office and, with much bubble wrap and a few tidbits to accompany them on their journey I sent them on their way. By now they will have traversed one of the most inhospitable deserts on the planet; they are quite some travellers as both of them were born in France. I expect they are now languishing in in a busy city center, waiting a tedious trip out to the 'burbs. I should be hearing from them this week.

I can't really say that I enjoyed their stay, though I did try. At one point the more distinguished fellow, Monsieur Ivoire I will call him, seemed to making himself slightly more agreeable than I had initially thought. I had read that others enjoyed a subtle raspberry note in Monsieur Ivoire and yes, now that it was pointed out, my impressionable self enjoyed it too. But a bit of red fruit repartee did nothing to cover up Monsieur Ivoire's indecorum in other areas. We all have our little standards and tastes and it saddens me that Monsieur Ivoire is so welcomed in other parlors but I am unable to appreciate him. Hopefully he will be loved and feted in his new home.

His cousin I am quite glad to see the back of. No regrets here, I gave up trying to appreciate his worldly ways some time ago. He may be revered in some circles but in my home Monsieur Cabochard has always been gauche. Harsh words yes, but harsh has been my experience with him. I will be glad to no longer be scrubbing his ashtray scent out of my skin and clothing. Maybe if he had taken up a pipe rather than his dreadful Gitanes I would have enjoyed some chummy moments.. but no, it is too late for any speculations. I shall not see him or his cousin again.

I hope all the best for them and not wishing to be churlish I do feel pleased to think they will be taking their rightful place in their new social circle. Charming, given to delicacy and able to show off their highbrow pedigree I expect they will both be very happy. Beaux esprits, as they were meant to be. Farewell, farewell!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

BPAL Project: Dublin

Something truly must be off kilter with my nose.

"Dublin: The scent of misty forests, damp alder leaf, and the gentlest touch of white rose."

Doesn't that sound fabulous? Even a poor rendition of just one of those things would be pleasant in its own way. In the vial there is a lovely green, piney, promising waft that made me look forward to sampleing this one. My response was SO far removed that I can only blame it on my skin rather than my tastes.

Other than a brief dabble in pine shortly after application all I get from this is.. Tutti-Frutti. I can just about taste that rock candy and its sugary stickiness of fruity impressions. There is nothing unpleasant about it but mist, damp, forest, leaf are no where to be found. I will be filing this one under "try again, temporary olfactory delerium".

Saturday, July 08, 2006

BPAL Project: Les Infortunes de la Vertu

Okay let's get this over with.. this is extremely boring. The drydown has some potential but this oil needs more of everything. It opens with a herbal blast that is blah men's cologne and soon a wee bit of leather makes itself know. The cologne is replaced with oak moss. When a bit of floral peeps through there is one very brief moment where this oil is prancing around playing at being Agent Provocateur. Unless you have your wrist glued to your nose you will have missed this.

The orange blossom sweetens the drydown and you can now see where this scent wants to go. Unfortunately it is too tired a leather and too muted a floral to get there. If by "monastic" the BPAL description means "an empty room" that is fairly close. This is the scent memory of someone who once slept in that cell but has been gone for some time.

"A pain-tinged, pleasure-soaked blend of leather, oakmoss, orange blossom, amber, and rose with a breath of virginal French florals and a hint of austere monastic penitential incense."

Friday, July 07, 2006

BPAL Project: Jack

Jack is all about pumpkins and their pies, their season and their sentiments. Thankfully I live in a country where the pumpkin is a blue squash your mum made you eat before you could have ice cream so my scent triggers are untainted by years of Halloween body butters, candles and LE lip balms.

Buttery and sweet Jack begins as a typical foodie scent, pleasant but who knows what will happen after an hour. The first surprise is that this oil is STRONG. Powerful pumpkin! There is a cooler scent under the warm butteriness that soon becomes quite dominant. Yes it's RAW pumpkin, at least briefly, but before I can get caught up in reflecting on raw veggies and their fragrance merits it gets very fruity in a way which eventually settles on apple. I had two people drifting in the jetstream of my sillage comment they could smell apple. By now I was starting to be bothered by this seemingly inescapable pumpkin on steroids aroma.

Too much pie, too much apples-of-autumn, too much food. It was truly beautiful for a short time. The drydown some hours later is a little harsh and waxy, dare I say stale candy corn? Yes foody scents on the way out often smell like old food. Create a very apt fragrance portrait and the brain keeps running with it down well travelled paths. Jack is nice in that it has a fresh natural quality and escapes that "you are now sniffing pumpkin" blast that some products carry.

"The scent of warm, glowing jack o,lanterns on a warm autumn night: true Halloween pumpkin, spiced with nutmeg, glowing peach and murky clove."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

BPAL Project: Belle Epoque

Starting with the dreaded lily I initially thought this would be a transparent floral with soapy tones. That soon changed.

Belle Epoque dries down to a pretty sandlewood. The lily adds a certain coquetry to the sandlewood's warmth which is quite delightful.If there is any mandarine apparent I suspect it is the slight sharpness that keeps this scent fresh rather than creamy. Never heavy this is a lovely rendition of sandlewood that could be worn in all seasons. Very enjoyable!

"'The Pretty Era', France's Golden Time: an age of beauty, innovation and peace in France that lasted from the 19th Century through the first World War and gave birth to the cabaret, the cancan, and the cinema as well as the Impressionist and Art Nouveau movements. Sweet opium, Lily of the Valley, vanilla, mandarin and red sandalwood."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

BPAL Project: Undertow

Long after this scent was washed off I decided that I do not like it. Some things I am indifferent to on first try and later develop a craving for; Undertow has had the opposite effect.

First impressions were unpleasantly of rotting melon. Honeydew to be exact. Perhaps this is the lotus? The melon too far gone pong disappeared quickly to be replaced by menthol. This scent is arctic cold.. the fruit gradually emerges. If you like cold scents and have a fondness for mint this is an interesting one, though the fruitiness/mint accord when most balanced has the unfortunate memory of chewing gum.

Unlike many BPAL's Undertow is STRONG. You don't need a lot and it has great staying power. I had a bit of a skin reaction to it.

Painting, "Undertow" to be found here.

Monday, July 03, 2006

BPAL Project: Coyote

Coyote is a beautiful scent, dry with a gingery tone. It has the natural sweetness of grasses and is a wonderfully autumn. The amber weaves it's way through the varying layers but it is the dryness overall that charms. This is apparently a "masculine" scent though I would not have labelled it such myself, unless the absence of florals is enough to qualify. Warm and interesting this scent is also very light.. it's staying power is good but it is not very strong. Very nicely created, it was a pleasure to sample this one.

"The Native American Creator / Trickster God of Chaos and Change. The warmth of doeskin, dry plains grasses and soft, dusty woods warmed by amber and a downy, gentle coat of deep musk."