Thursday, February 26, 2009

Perfume Thought of the Day

I was going to try to review Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen this evening, but right before I put it on I stuck an altoid in my mouth. Yikes! Nothing will screw up your sniffer like having something with a strong taste in your mouth. Sufficed to say, there is no Citizen Queen review this evening because Citizen Queen + Altoid = olfactory disaster. Keep this in mind if you decide to have lunch with a friend and then hit the perfume counter. Eat a particularly spicy or pungent food, and it can really mess with your perception of the scents you sniff!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Art & Association

She was a January girl. She never let on how insane it was in that tiny kinda scary house by the woods, by the woods, by the woods.
I noticed this morning, as I awoke to a rainy, chilly day and got dressed, that there are songs I have subconsciously associated with certain scents I wear regularly. For instance, on this dark wet day I reached, after a moment’s deliberation, for my bottle of CB I Hate Perfume’s Black March. As I did, I found myself humming “Black Dove (January)” by Tori Amos. This is not the first or second time I have found myself doing this. This is roughly the fifth time I have subconsciously associated “Black Dove” with Black March. 
”But I have to get to Texas.”
I said, “I have to get to Texas, and I'll give away my blue, blue dress.”

While I suppose that “Black March” and “Black Dove” share a similar title and that could be the association, this always comes up in conjunction with environment and mood. Something about the song, the time, the place, the scent all conjures a particularly mood or theme or feeling which clearly spawns from the combination of the art of scent, word, and song. I feel both defiant and mournful; resigned to and resolutely at odds with a world that disappoints me when I want to love it and believe it better than it is. 
The trouble with wanting to change the world is that is necessitates holding yourself apart from it. When I get up in the morning and the world is wet and green and wild and full of life, and I feel a sadness that we haven’t done better by it, from a societal perspective or an environmental perspective, I put my fight face on. And I feel a little crazy. But seeing the world as it is simultaneously with the world as it could and should be, requires a duality of hope and disappointment. Honey and vinegar. Clear eyed sanity and crazy eyed madness. And a scent that is both weird in the grand spectrum of perfumery by smelling like dirt and earth and living things while at the same time smelling more naturally occurring and of the real world than most perfume could to be.
Black-dove, you don't need a space ship.
They don't know you've already lived on the other side of the galaxy.

To read my full review of "Black March," go here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I still hear your sea winds blowin' / I still see her dark eyes glowin'

Annick Goutal Songes

For me, my grandparents’ house was more of a home than anywhere I lived growing up. I loved their house and I lived there for years and years. Some part of me lives there still, in the version I knew as a very little girl, when everyone was healthy and it was my escape from my parents and their pain, when the house was full of music and dancing and light. Out back there was a beautiful tree. Specifically, a magnolia tree. It was a large tree, about seven feet tall by the time I left home. During the spring and summer the smell of magnolias would hit you as soon as you walked out the back door onto the porch. In fact, fif the inside door was open, the scent would waft in through the screen door. That beautiful smell was a constant in my childhood.

Another smell one becomes accustomed to at a cellular level growing up along the Coast is the earthy, oily, salty smell of the Gulf Stream. It’s so pungent that on my first cross country road trip, I smelled home the second we crossed the border from Oklahoma into Texas. As soon we got past the Red River, I turned to my uncle and said, “I think I smell the ocean.” He turned to me with a smile and said, “That’s the Gulf. In about half an hour we will even start hearing gulls.” And we did. That pungent smell is always there when I dream of home, so full of dirt and life and the sea.

For me, Annick Goutal's Songes represents both. Songes was the first quality perfume I purchased in large part because it was the first scent I was ever given that spoke to me at a deeply personal level. I inquired of another perfumista recommendations for a scent I might buy myself as a thirtieth birthday present. She brought me four samples: S-perfume 100% Love, L’Artisan Dzing!, Lorenzo Villoresi Alamut, and Songes. They are all lovely and unique, and at this point I own them all. But the first, the one that spoke to me personally, was Songes. I didn’t realize until today that I had overlooked reviewing this beautiful fragrance. So pretty, so perfect for me, in fact, that I bought two bottles within a week. The first was a 50ml, and then I saw a great deal on a 100ml bottle that I decided was more than worth it.

Goutal describes Songes as follows:
Songes—French for 'dreams'—comes alive in a romantic, sensual fragrance from Annick Goutal. A bouquet bursting with both primitive and delicate notes, surrounded by exotic white florals. Notes of frangipani, absolute of ylang-ylang, absolute of jasmine and absolute of vanilla. Created from the most noble and natural ingredients.
As the story goes, Songes came about after Camille Goutal was inspired by a garden near the sea.
During a romantic trip, as she was walking in an exotic garden on the island of Mauritius at night fall, Camille Goutal was taken by surprise by the scent of all the exotic and secret white flowers, at dusk when the very spur of nature intoxicates the night. She didn't resist the desire to create a perfume to immortalise this very unique moment. Together, with Isabelle Doyen they recall the image of a sensual and extremely romantic and voluptuous night.
On me, Songes is a combination of big beautiful flowers and salty ocean air. The initial application has that sting of salt that gets in your eyes as the wind suddenly delivers the scent of flowers to you. Like the smell that hits you during a warm summer night walk on the beach. It combines with the smell I get from spending the day at the beach, strong and salty, with an undertone of sweet skin sweat and Coppertone suntan lotion. On the dry down the sweat and suntan lotion wears away, with the flowers and sea salt hanging around you in a cloud. It lasts for hours and hours on me. A generous spritz this morning and twelve hours later it is still going strong, gathering compiments. The strongest notes on me are the jasmine and the frangipani, which reads as very magnolia. The one note that I really don’t get much of at all is vanilla, and I really like vanilla, so I think I’d notice.

If olfactory memory is the strongest memory, then those scents that remind us of memories we cherish will probably be scents we love even if no one else does. For me these memories are even more poignant in the wake of Hurricane Ike, which destroyed Crystal Beach, Texas, the Gulf Coast community I spent my childhood and teenage summers in.

With some scents, the love of the perfume and our habit of wearing it will create special memories; with other perfumes, we will love the scent because the memory is already there inside us and the perfume brings it out. Songes is big and beautiful and refuses to be ignored, so it isn’t going to be for everyone. But if you love it, you will love it deeply, and the fact that it is strong and assertive in its sensuousness won’t scare you away. 
Galveston, oh Galveston!
I still hear your sea waves crashing.
While I watch the cannons flashing,
I clean my gun and dream of Galveston.

Songes is available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, though I got it decently discounted thorough
Want more reviews? Check out these:
* Robin of Now Smell This! has a review here.
* For the Love of Perfume’s review.
* For Bois de Jasmin’s review, go here.

Listening to: Galveston by Evan Dando.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

So welcome to my little corner of the world...

So my perfume thought for the day (really last week or so) is: what perfumes would the Lorelais wear?
That’s right, I am rewatching all of “Gilmore Girls” from season one to seven. I love the show. I love the Lorelais. I love the quick wit, the snappy patter. I love the awkwardness with boys and life. I love the tension between the generations of strong women, from Emily to Lorelai to Rory. I love the unabashed embrace of the idea that women can do anything, have anything. I love the tension between independence and loneliness, between having romantic love and being fettered to a relationship. For better or worse, the Lorelais are not good with the “we” no matter how they yearn for it. I can understand that; I feel the same.
And, booooooooy, can those women dress. All the Lorelais (even Richard’s mother, the original Lorelai, in a frumpy way) have style. Then there’s Sookie, proof that plus-sized actresses can be well-dressed and attractive and pretty and funny and smart and talented AND *ON TELEVISION.* Plus Lane in her funky glasses and Paris in her prepwear. All of them. So smart, so strong, so convinced they can accomplish their dreams. I love the story. The Lorelais have the life I want, even with their flaws and loneliness. I want their small town, I want their silly festivals, I want their house with a porch and their extensive knowledge of books and movies and their sense of fashion. And their metabolism. More than Willow, more than Veronica, the Lorelais are pop culture signposts for me in terms of who I want to be as I grow up.

So as I’ve been rewatching the show, which I do ever eighteen-twenty-four months, this time around I’ve been wondering: what perfume would the characters wear? Emily would clearly go for a classic: Guerlain Mitsouko or Chanel No. 5 parfum or perhaps something fabulous and expensive and French that I have never heard of. Gran, aka Lorelai the first, smells like Jasmine. (They mention it in “The Incredible Sinking Lorelais.") I’m guessing Patou Joy. Lorelai, in response to these bastion scent traditions, would probably go with something whimsical and hip. Bonus points for being available at Sephora, which Lorelai refers to as “the mothership.” My guess? Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Lovers. She’d buy them because she thought the doll bottles are cute. And Rory? She’d wear something feminine and fun. SJP Lovely? Chanel Coco Mademoiselle? Something in between her mother’s irreverence and her grandmother’s staid traditionalism.

Well, those are my guesses. As I settle in to enjoy the rest of my trip through Star’s Hollow, tell me: what do you think the Gilmores wear?
Listening to: Grant Lee Phillips - Mona Lisa

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Monthly Mix: Damned by the existential moment.

For years now, I've been making a monthly mix CD as a kind of personal diary. I'm adding the playlists here to help keep track of them, and also as recommendations for readers.
1. On The Radio - Regina Spektor
2. My Before And After - Cotton Mather
3. You Don't Know Me - Ben Folds (feat. Regina Spektor)
4. Bruises - Chairlift
5. Merry Happy - Kate Nash
6. Devils I've Known - The Paper Hearts
7. Swing Gently - Leona Naess
8. Here's to the Night (live) - Eve 6
9. Sometime Around Midnight - The Airborne Toxic Event
10. Not Nineteen Forever - The Courteeners
11. Ghostwriter - RJD2
12. Crack the Shutters - Snow Patrol
13. Momentary Thing - Something Happens
14. I Kissed a Girl - Kate Perry
15. Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers
16. Suddenly Everything Has Changed - The Flaming Lips
17. Here Comes The Summer - Fiery Furnaces
18. My Happy Ending - Avril Lavigne

The right perfume for this mix? Something new and hip and verbose, because there are some pretty fancy turns of phrase hidden in the lyrics above. I'll give that to emo int.rockers; they really do put together a pretty phrase. So let's say CB I Hate Perfume's In the Library in honor of their wordsmithery.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Let the right one in / Let the old dreams die

Der husband and I did not get a chance to go out over the weekend due to a coalescence of unfortunate happenstance, so we rescheduled for brunch today. We are going to see "Let the Right One In" over at the Living Room Theater and have brunch. I have to say, one of my favorite things about Portland is the abundance of theaters that allow for liquor and food. This particular theater is a little on the pricey side, but on Mondays and Tuesdays all matinee tickets are $5, and they have these delicious sugar & spice nuts that I adore. The film is Swedish and has gotten rave reviews, so David and I are hopeful that it is going to turn out to be one of the better vampire movies made in the last five years or so. This is not really difficult with movies like "Twilight" and "Underworld II" rounding out that category. I am convinced, btw, that the film's title came from a Morrissey song, "Let the Right One Slip In."

And when at last it does,
I'd say you were within your rights to bite
the right one and say, "What kept you so long?"
"What kept you so long?"

Given that we are going on a brunch date, I decided to bust out my bottle of New Haarlem, because nothing says brunch date like smelling like coffee, patchouli, and vanilla.  I generally think of New Haarlem as a fall kind of scent, but we've been having a lot of fall-ish days lately, with clear skies, bright sun, and chilly weather. No pretty leaves, but that didn't stop me from making myself some mulled cranberry juice last night while I was working on my paper for wills & trusts. I also find that whenever I have a lot of time pressured work to do, is the time when I feel a desperate need to start sampling like crazy. Last night, I retested a few items to get a firmer hand on them for reviews. Expect those to come soon.

Until then, I hope you all are having a lovely Presidents’ Day. And if you're reading out there, give me a little shout out in the comments, and tell me: what perfume do you think is most "presidential"? Personally, I like the irony of Domenico Caraceni's Ivy League, especially because it was designed as a unisex and smells like it goes with a sleek, modestly expensive suit regardless of the sex of the body in it. Unfortunately, I am so personally trapped in my image of the president as some old dude (our current brilliant and youthful President Obama notwithstanding) that I just keep thinking "Old Spice." To that end, here's a hilarious Old Spice ad featuring B-movie star Bruce Campbell:

Saturday, February 14, 2009


BeautyHabit sent me a super sweet Valentine's present - a 20% off card! And with that, my graduation gift purchase is now complete.

As I have previously mentioned, I am graduating from Law School in a few months. As a gift to myself I decided a few months ago that I really wanted a bottle of L'Artisan's Iris Pallida. Exorbitantly expensive, yes, but as I wrote in my previous review of it, I think it might be the most beautiful thing I've had on my body. So faced with saving 20%, my graduation only three months away, and a promotion that would give me an additional 15ml bottle of either Tea for Two or Dzonghka (my choice) as a gift with purchase, I couldn't resist. So tonight, I spent $236 on a dingle bottle. As a student. With loans. Who makes ~$1000 a month. And this is after I bought a bottle of Ave Luxe Wild Blackberry Musk a little over a month ago and a bottle of Kai EDP two weeks ago.

I think it's safe to say that I am a full fledge perfumista at this point.

And now I'll get back to forcing three beautiful boys to watch "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist" with me. And just like Liz Phair, "I want all that stupid bullshit, like letters and sodas." And someone bought me a soda today, just like I wanted. Turned out to be a decent Valentine's after all.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reader Input Requested

Help! Due to the crazytown weather we continue to have in PDX this winter, the heaters are on all the time and despite our tropical climate, I can feel the moisture literally being sucked out of my skin. I had my first facial yesterday, and the verdict was that my current moisturizer isn't getting the job done. So I was wondering, does anyone have any recommendations for good moisturizers? I am looking for both a body moisturizer (legs, elbows, etc.) and a face moisturizer. I currently have a day and night moisturizer for the body and I use the entire Origins skincare line (currently using the Dr. Weil's, which is a light moisturizer) during the day and a heavier anti-aging cream at night. Still, nothing is enough. So, LJ Genie, does anyone have a really good lotion out there? What works for you? (Also, if you don't mind, include what your skin type is like, b/c mine is mixed so the combination of winter dryness and natural oily-ness is killing me.)

Thanks a bunch!

Note: Any kind of perfumery is fine. I am also fine with scentless, organic or non-organic, etc. I'm not picky.