Saturday, December 01, 2007

We Interrupt the Perfume..

Let me just say.. OMG. The emotion of Melissa's rendition of this old Petty thrasher both in her singing and face blows me away. Melissa Etheridge's raw voice and lyrics have always been cathartic therapy for me. What a cover, if I was Petty I would just bow down and grovel in the face of this divine interpretation of my anthem.

Currently wearing BPAL's War from the Good Omens series.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

BPAL Project: Dia de Los Muertos 07

Wow. This scent is an intense hit of burning garbage and food. Yes it's not much of a stretch to smell the churros. Fried stuff.. sugar.. dough.. overly ripe fruit. And like a pall over these confections a smoky burnt smell, "should they be burning that?"

Dia de Los Muertos is the olfactory equivalent of Found Art. The burning garbage smell pervades parts of Mexico and for the long time returnee it's part of the rush that says you are back. It's awful, it's refuse, it's true to a time and place and to experience it in a perfume oil celebrating the Mexican Day of the Dead is a wonderful thing.

Traditional foods used for Dia de los Muertos.

"..dry, crackling leaves, the incense smoke of altars honoring Death and the Dead, funeral bouquets, the candies, chocolates, foods and tobacco of the ofrenda, amaranth, sweet cactus blossom and desert cereus."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

BPAL Project: Taurus 2007

As the Zodiac oil of Taurus drew close I suspect Taurean BPAL fans were in a lather of anticipation over what earthy, hoof pawing, testosterone soaked leather their oil would be. How could it not be along the lines of BPAL's other macho Bull scent, Minotaur? Well it's not. And I would imagine this was something of a surprise to a few fans.

Taurus is a bull; Ferdinand the bull. This lovely children's book by Munro Leaf was published during the time of the Spanish Civil War. Banned in some countries for promoting pacifism "The Story of Ferdinand" is a simple tale of a bull who refuses to fight but instead sits down and smells the flowers. Taurus is a wonderful oil to wear in the cool spring air with the joy of all the sun's promises. The herbal notes peek through making this more of a meadow scent than a bouquet and as the florals fade you are left with warmed earth and grasses. Beautifully blended this is one of the loveliest BPAL's I've worn.

Ferdinand the Bull tattoos have been popularized by famous folk and they do look quite lovely. Here's a non-famous person's tribute to a boy cow and his love of flowers.

Fixed Earth: the essence of possession.
Rose, daisy, apple blossom, violet, poppy, columbine, thyme, and mint.

Friday, August 31, 2007

BPAL Project: Hecate

In my long journey of perfume sniffing, huffing, inadvertently tasting and, with BPAL, slathering all over myself my dislikes are now overly familiar to me. Cumin? Check. Certain uses of Vetiver? Check. Lily? Sadly, check. Very few surprises with even the most insipid offering having some wearibility provided varying checks aren't there.

Sniffing Hecate from the vial I thought it a less complex version of Bastet with far too foody an almond for my tastes. In the mood for something sweet I almost poured half the vial on but instead just smeared a bit on the back of my hand. This restraint was surely an unsought gift on the part of the divine. For a very tiny span of time Hecate did something quite nice. It was almondy goodness with a smoky curl through it and it was lovely. So short was this phase that had I even been checking my email rather than sniffing my hand I would have missed it. What followed was beyond belief.

Hecate, possessed with murderous cyanide intent was a bitter horror that made me want to vomit. For a panicky moment I actually thought I had poisoned myself. I could see this oil being used to induce spontaneous abortion, violent stomach purging, the expelling of every life force. It is POISON. Hours later my mouth is still full of saliva and nausea. The most visceral reaction I've ever had to a BPAL. Immediately I remembered this painting.

Painting is Judas by Australian artist Albert Tucker, an artist whose works have made me literally step back and avert my eyes.

Transcript of an interview with Albert Tucker in which he discusses the theme of Judas.

Magnificent three-faced Goddess of Magic, the Dark Moon and the Crossroads. She is the Mother of Witches, and the midnight baying of hounds is her paean. Her compassion is evidenced in her role as Psychopomp for Persephone, and her wrath manifests as Medea's revenge. Deep, buttery almond layered over myrrh and dark musk.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

BPAL Project: Bathsheba

"Your faith was strong, but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you.."

Bathsheba has a prettified sensuality that men are wont to paint in broad brushstrokes when attracted to beautiful women, the kind of women that seem a cliché to their own gender but not to the men who pursue them. Bathsheba's eyes are doe-like with mascara smudged vulnerability. She carries her extra poundage like a downy comforter waiting to enfold her admirers. Her mouth.. does she ever close it or is it always open in that half-ready, half-pout expression? She perfumes her hair with highly scented oil and the moonlight is bright in the sheen on her breasts.

Below, in the servants quarters, the maidservants speak her name with derision.

On the roof, a man watches in the shadows.

In the moonlight, she bathes.

Beauty is not always a simple thing.

Photograph "Bathsheba, 2001" by Christopher Braddock

The Seventh Daughter, Daughter of the Oath. She was King David's lover, and the mother of King Solomon. Her scent is breathtakingly lovely, exotic and powerfully sensual in its innocence: carnation, sensual plum, and Arabian musk.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

BPAL Project: Malediction

Malediction: Evil incarnate. Revel in your dark side with this romantically cruel scent. Contains red patchouli and vetivert.

Evil incarnate, Ooooo I'm so scared.. other people's hyperbole is never as interesting as one's own. Malediction is a very masculine and meditative blend of patchouli and vetiver with the vetiver being the dominant note. I'd almost call this combination a poor man's oudh as the effect is the same: powderry darkness. If you are looking for a strongly masculine BPAL this is the one. Lovers of vetiver should beat the lab door down to try this. Wear Malediction when you want to feel silent and powerful.

photo: "Malediction" by Ann Hamilton

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

BPAL Project: Love Me

I figured with this sweet little name, so different from BPAL's usual..{GOLGOMOTH'S URN}.. that this would be a sugary confection. Maybe a touch of heliotrope quickly drowned out with too much vanilla and finishing off with some standard bakery spice in the drydown. No No No! This is not the case. A very smoky scent with a warmer cream many hours later. Love Me could be all campfirey but there is an intensity to it which negates any cheery associations.

To wear Love Me is to baste yourself in the oil mixed ashes of your dead lover. A secret rite of those who know that love lasts long after fire. A rather intoxicating BPAL.

Love Me: A commanding, dominant oil that increases sexual magnetism, creates an intense and irresistible air of attraction, and amplifies potency.

"The time to hesitate is through. There's no time to wallow in the mire. Try now we can only lose. And our love become a funeral pyre." Jim Morrison

For an interesting perspective on Morrison's death and the rumours surrounding it you can read the blog of his lover, Mrs. Morrison's Hotel. The July 12 2007 entry addresses the latest information to come to light.

Photo by Thomas Hawk.

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Depressing Quality of Mediocrity, a perfume confession

Today I ordered French Onion soup at a cafe I've previously enjoyed. First time I've seen it on the menu, I realized it's been many years since I had it. It's freezing out. I could not wait to enjoy it. What I received was not the mouthwatering robust broth of delight I remembered with its cheesy crust but rather a bowl of tepid brown liquid just rising above the surface of a huge clog of slimy onions. It looked like Klingon food and it tasted like Vegemite broth. It depressed me all out of proportion for what it was, a bad meal. My memories had failed, my anticipation had been jilted, I had to go back out into the filthy cold weather none the warmer and still hungry. I would have sent it back and not paid for it but I have a relative working in that cafe so I silently paid the bill, my soup left untouched.

Missing the train by one minute I wandered into the Chemist. A huge range of perfumes greeted me, not knock offs exactly but cheap scents in nice bottles each one smelling distinctly of a more well known fragrance. Angel, Chance, Beyond Paradise, Baby Doll.. they were all recognizable on first sniff. Most of them came from Paris Bleu, "this is REAL French perfume" the chemist girl assured me. I enjoyed playing with them and teasing myself as to how much of a snob I was, would my opinion be higher if they were a recognizable brand. I almost convinced myself this would be the case but by the time I was on the train the scents assaulting my nose from my light testing on my arms told me otherwise. In cheap perfumes the drydown is either non-existent as the fragrance vanishes or in the case of more dominant scents it turns unpleasantly harsh.

Arriving home I pulled out this month's issue of Madison to find the fragrance panel of SJP's Covet, not yet available here. I must confess that is the only reason I bought this magazine though I tried to convince myself there were many fascinating articles about affairs and fashion and societal trends that I would benefit from. Ripping away the strip I inhaled deeply.. (such a pretty bottle).. my conclusion is that SJP has wasted a lot of money on this advertisement because all it smells of is faint glue, magazine paper and a whiff of cleaning product. Is this what Covet will smell like? I hope not and given that it is described as being more potent than that vague thing called Lovely I can't see how this could be.

I think I am much more emotionally invested in smelling things than I realized. So disappointed! Now being disappointed over food is, perhaps, a little more normal but I need to walk away from a bad perfume experience untouched. It's not like a film where you can beat yourself up over wasting two hours of your life.

Perfume. It's not this serious:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

A is for Architect

Allure Sensuelle is a fragrance that synesthetically matches the bitter burgundy of its box. This is the exact colour of Allure Sensuelle, a perfume that gives structure to the idea that Chanel perfumes are "abstract". Allure Sensuelle is all angular design and vision, the perfect fragrance for an Ayn Rand heroine. John Galt, come sniff my neck!

I realize A.S. is supposed to be warm, cozy, erotic, sensual according to many people's response and the perfumer's own description but I get none of that myself. A.S. is a sober fragrance with an understated classical charm. A.S. is serious dark furniture in wood paneled rooms with tall windows showing grey skies. A.S. is a winter fragrance for days you must gird yourself in preparation for. In the lab of an alchemist A.S. would have the words "apply for strength" neatly printed on the label.

Top note : Bergamot, Mandarin Orange, Pink Pepper

Middle note : Jasmine, Rose, Iris,Candied Fruit, Vetiver

Base note : French Vanilla, Amber Patchouli, Frankincense, Sensual Note

"One of the models for our fragrance Allure is an actress called Anna Mouglalis. By accident, I happened to hear her voice one day, and it surprised me. It was a deep voice, strong and almost masculine. I was very surprised by it, by the contrasts. I liked the idea of creating a fragrance after a voice because I think that one's voice is very important, it reveals an inner dimension. I think that perfume also has to do with an inner dimension, you see, so I thought it was a nice poetic idea. That was the starting point." Jacques Polge, Perfumer, on the creation of Allure Sensuelle.

Jacques Polge

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Escada edp

Escada edp is the eponymous scent of a house of many bottles. Released in 2005 you would be forgiven for being surprised at how many Escadas (with actual names) preceded it. I am reminded of The Cure's 13nth album (depending on how you count them), "The Cure" though thankfully the quality of this odd fragrance does not cause grieving and renting of clothes as listening to that album does.

In the face of this not uncommon in fragrance-land names confusion Escada edp is often called Escada Crystal and Escada Signature. Neither of these names appear on the box, the bottle or any of the advertising. Where these names came from as used by varying stores and fragrance lists is a mystery.

This Escada, in a sparkling and very attractive green box has a vivid and simple appeal. It smells of American department store, the scent of cucumbers as presented by jillions of body products, and a round orange blossom note who's chalky center reminds me of Dior's Pure Poison. The American department store notes are not shrill or cheap but immediately familiar. I am almost ready to leave off browsing The Gap and make my way to the food court for an enormous pretzel. There is nothing bland about it and from this expats perspective the whole thing is kind of neat. It's a nifty place capsule that is well done and enjoyable in it's own right. It should be that Escada edp smells like many other fragrances but it is strangely non-generic. Perhaps it is more an interpretation of a place and time scentwise, a place and time with brightly lit shelves displaying bottle after bottle of American perfumes.

The advertising for this Escada captures it perfectly.

Escada edp was designed by Pierre Bourdon, of Malle's Iris Poudre fame.

Top note : Bergamot, Black Currant, Green Leaves, Cucumber, Lemon
Middle note : Magnolia, Jasmine, Lily-of-the-Valley, Orange Blossom, Rose, Peony
Base note : Amber, Musk, Tangerine, Vanilla, Iris, Patchouli,Sandalwood

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Lancome Tropiques: Postcards from the Gift Shop

Yesterday in the 34C heat I was happily making mango ginger marmalade. It came out perfectly. I filled a pretty, smaller jar to give away but now I'm keeping it because it's the best jam I've made in a while. About 8 small mangoes, 2 oranges, crystallized ginger and some lemon juice. And sugar of course.

Lancome Tropiques is a part of their travel series, limited editions released only to duty free outlets at airports. Asia and Africa will be coming out this year and the next. Throw in some ginger to Tropiques, and a touch of saffron and it could have been the Asian edition but Tropiques is definitely more of a hula number, though a somewhat stately one. Middle aged hula with little likelihood of anything falling off mid hipsway in the sand. For those that fear tropical means the pubescent punch offered up by Escada this is good news. Creamy mango with a faint touch of wood in the drydown the brightest moments are the fleeting top notes. I wish they lasted longer because they are quite delicious and I turn into a topnote huffer with this one, reapplying for my fix.

The dignified mango Tropiques settles into is quite unique. Often a perfume seeking to distance itself from youth but still include fruit will use the fruit as a minor chord but that is not the case here. It's mango. It's tropical. It's espadrilles and "maybe I'll go in the water tomorrow". Meanwhile, let's hit the gift shop!