Friday, June 30, 2006

BPAL Project: Dragon's Milk

Today's Imp.. Dragon's Milk

Take some fairly fresh smelling cherry syrup and dump some spices in it.. mmmm.. yummy.. but perhaps some more spices would be better. Spicier, spicier.. oh no! The cherry freshness is suffocated under a bloom of euro-bakery spice. Hmm.. how can we save this. I know! A dab of almond and for a brief spell we have lovely spiced marzipan torte. But in the end there is no escaping the excess spice burden and with time the torte grows stale with the powdery melange.

Personally I think young dragons are nursed on a milk that tastes of saffron infused cognac. They have fire to develop and sticky cakes will never do the trick. Hopefully tomorrow I can choose a BPAL that has no foody element, this one was picked at random.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pineapple Lumps

I like to eat candy that amuses me. If these tasty kiwi treats were named Pineapple Squares I would have only eaten them when presented with a bowl of mixed lollies. I can't imagine buying them, not that they aren't yummy in their own way. However the charm of these little chewy blocks is in their fab name, Pineapple Lumps. Who can resist? I used to get them at the milk bar, 3 for 5 cents twisted up in the white paper bag. They are fresher bought in their packet though.. you can end up with soft and chewy Pineapple Lumps or ones that break your teeth depending on how old and air exposed they are.

It's like Violet Crumble vs Crunchie. Of course Crunchies are better but why eat something with such a prosaic name when you can partake of the glories of Violet Crumble?

hmm.. I guess this explains why I've never felt the urge to sample any fragrance dupes. It's not all about the juice. It's the name, the story, the portrait of what swirls inside the bottle. I don't care if Dupe #23 smells exactly like Mitsouko it fails to charm and beguile.

Pineapple Lumps in the news!

Pineapple Lumps Thrown At Gunman

BPAL : Project Sample-thon.. Snake Oil

I recently swapped many lovely decants of fine frags for a mix of BPAL imps as well as other, as yet unexplored, natural oils. I was blown away to receive jillions and squillions of imps from this swapper! A kind of panic overcame me.. what if my One True Love is in there somewhere and sloth and lack of direction keeps me from him for a year? So I vow to try one imp a day. After my first sample I am wondering if I will wake each morn thrilled at meeting a new oil or if by the end of the week I will be "Oh Tedium.." Starting with the ones spoken most highly of seems best.

Today's Imp.. Snake Oil

First impression, headshop. Then the vanilla blooms, pleasantly foody. Soon spices (apparently Indonesian) pepper the vanilla and there is a brief woody phase that is very refined. However this has now vanished to be replaced by.. cake consumed in the headshop cafe. Had I never smelled a vanilla fume I would have been enchanted. Had I smelled this as a teen I would have bathed in it. It's very nice. According to the BPAL site Snake Oil is "By far, our most popular scent! Magnetic, mysterious, and exceedingly sexual in nature." If the way to a man's loins is through his stomach I guess they could have a point but to me sexy is The Bal or Agent Provocateur.

Best Point: the spices retain a slightly woody quality.. if you hold your nose to your wrist and inhale deeply.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ode to Pink Sugar

I love your cotton candy fumes
I love the way you fill a room
I love your woody undertones
I love your many cheaper clones

Oh Aquolina! Who are you?
That brings us such a happy fume!
A mystery from across the seas
Your magic juice is sure to please

Your pinkness is a carnival
A delightful flight of fancy ball
Your bottle twirls and whirls to say
Come and dance with me today!

Most surprising woody oriental. Could have been voted least likely to please teacake. Very moreish! Never say never.

Top note : Sicilian oranges, raspberries, fig leaf
Middle note : lily-of-the-valley, licorice blossom, red berries
Base note : vanilla, caramel

Wine Cooler Madness

I tested J.Lo's Miami Glow when it first came out.. eww, very unpleasant. However some rave reviews on POL sent me back one day to do a proper skin test. Apparently for some the drydown is a delicious coconut and I've been seduced by coconut before. So.. generous spray of unfragranced arm, off on walkabout for the afternoon. WELL. This is THE MOST disgusting thing I've tried in a loooooooong time. By the end of an hour I felt I'd doused myself in a cheapass pineapple wine cooler, or even more likely the sick-up from a teenage drinking bout of sugary alcohol goodness. I had to wash my jacket the next day because the smell was so pervasive, still retaining its acidity. Any coconut in there was added only to heavy the cooler hit to the unsuspecting adolescent drinker.

And to think my first impression was of suntan lotion. Bring on the Bain de Soleil, that was much more favourable.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Let us compare thee.. Opium Fleur de Shanghai and Opium Fleur Impériale

It is refreshing to have a fragrance which truly offers a variation on a theme rather than the endless name dropping of perfumes who's eponymous sisters have nothing in common with each other. None could make this complaint about Opium's limited summer editions, rather a long spell between sniffs would leave many scratching their heads as to what was new.

Shanghai Notes

Top note : Mandarin Orange, Chinotto Sour Orange, Bergamot
Middle note : Chinese Magnolia, Star Jasmine, Carnation, Myrrh
Base note : Vanilla, Patchouli, Amber

Fleur de Shanghai, the 2005 summer LE is a beautiful, creamy ingenue of a fragrance that makes me smile. The lovely magnolia gives it a sunny disposition with happy spices. The drydown is a sweet vanilla that is a bit overpowering when worn in the heat, unless you have a sweet tooth. I find the vanilla almost gourmand. I enjoyed
Fleur de Shanghai very much, but I had to be ready for the sweetness if I was to wear it all day. I was eager to know how Fleur Impériale, the 2006 summer LE would differ.

Impériale Notes

Top note : Tangerine, Neroli, Bergamot
Middle note : Apricot Blossom, Fresh Jasmine, Carnation
Base note : Vanilla, Osmanthus, Myrrh, Patchouli, Amber

Impériale, Impériale, Impériale.. Flower of the Empire. Very much the adult, the ingenue unveils herself a year later grown into the vamp. Where Shanghai has a waxy beauty, Impériale is all spices resting on a much sharper floral. The vanilla is still there but it's oh so dry and the drydown is very sexy with a touch of civet to my nose (though not to the given notes). I was quite wowed! This is one I will miss when it disappears and I foresee a bit of stocking up. I could not say one is better, and it will be a personal choice which is favoured.

As to staying power, I do believe that Shanghai lasts quite a bit longer, though it is the vanilla with a little piquancy that remains.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Bond no.9 Chinatown

Being an expat, no matter how tenaciously adjusted, leads to many unlooked for moments of sentimental ambush. Would I have the same child like expectations of the Bond no.9 series if was about London rather than New York? No, it would be more a curiousity. I had already been wowed by Little Italy's juicy gelati bursts that had rendered poor old Sicily (once loved) a stale flat mess. So I was very happy to receive a small decant of Chinatown from generous swapper.

The decant itself smelled candified in a good way but the initial topnote blast had something very bad in it. I know honey was not the intended impression but when you really loathe a note in scent any faint homage to it leaps out and cloys at you. This disappeared quite rapidly though and was replaced by the lightly incensical cardamon. No star anise which is certainly a dominant scent of the chinese groceries of my childhood. The spice notes are powdery, not in the classical perfume sense but in the literal sense of huge kilo bags of finely powdered spices piled up on shelves in the back of the store. It's a dry overload of fine particles more than any particular scent and were it cranked up just a bit more you would probably want to rub your nose. I remembered tasting that dry powder on my lips after wandering those shelves for a while. I imagine if you worked in such a store you'd be wiping it off your skin at the end of day. These middle notes recede into a very yummy drydown of brightly coloured happy florals. The sweetness which has been likened to caramel is more to my mind that of White Rabbit candy. The powdery spices and perfumed flavourings of a chinese grocery are still there but now you are wandering the aisles sucking on White Rabbit goodness. The condensed milk sweetness is a creamy pleasure that softens and blends what was an assault on the senses.

It's a rapid and choppy journey to the drydown and the end result is beautiful and unusual. My father adored taking us to a three story chinese grocery in Chinatown when we were children. My sister and I would wander the aisles whispering over the enormous bags of varied dried fungi, sniffing everything and always finishing up peering into the watery buckets of beche-le-mar in the fridge section. "Would you eat it for a hundred dollars?" We would buy beautiful miniatures for our doll houses, unusual candies that took our fancy (Haw flakes anyone?) and, when I got older, always a new kind of tea. Bond no.9 is a very changeable landscape and reminiscent of all the surprises a chinese grocery held for two little wasp girls.