Saturday, March 28, 2009

Somewhere over the rainbow...

I’m here to talk about perfume, of course, but first I want to say a word about Baz Luhrmann’s Australia. I cannot believe the film did not do better at the American box office. It had the largest opening in Australia history and did very well in Europe, but never broke top five here, which is a real shame. First of all, like all Luhrmann films, it is so beautiful to look at, just visually stunning. Beyond that, though, it is a beautiful story. It’s a classic western, full of roping and wrangling and cattle stealing and horse breeding and the range. In this particular case, the range is Australian and the tragic story of the Native Americans is replaced by the tragic story of the Aboriginals and their lost generation. At the end, though, this is a beautiful love story. And the Wizard of Oz metaphor works very well, indeed. A woman who goes to a far away land and there finds, in magics and visions strange and familiar, her own courage, intelligence, and heart. She finds a home. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes Westerns, love stories, or Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman.

In honor of this beautiful western, I am reviewing Lonestar Memories from Tauer Perfumes. Andy Tauer describes the vision for Lonestar Memories as “the scent of a lonesome rider, wearing old jeans and leather jacket, after a long day on the horse in the dry woods, preparing his coffee on the open, smoky fire. I want it to be fresh and light, yet lasting and powerful.” The description of the scent is as follows:
A scent created on memories of a wide land, open pastures, earthy leather, warm smoke, being there, I am free and true. Lonestar Memories is a rich leather scent, intense and multilayered, with a lasting, soft and gentle woody accord.

NOTES: Green and spicy head notes that balance the smoky woody heart: Geranium, Carrot seed, Clary sage. Smoky leathery heart notes that prepare for the fine woody base: Birchtar, Cistus, Jasmine, Cedar wood. Fine woody body notes: Myrrh, Tonka, Vetiver, Sandalwood.
“Lonestar Memories” is exactly what it purports to be. On application, it is a full blare of incense, rubber, menthol, and leather. It is leathery like an oiled saddle and full of heady spice like the pollen of wildflowers bloomed after the first torrential rains on the dry lands. In the middle it becomes all leather and rubber, with the menthol notes dropping out and being replaced by the scent of tobacco smoke and salt. It has a lovely tang to it, like the salt of sweet sweat. On dry down, it all blends together beautifully, smoke and incense and leather, sweet and salt and a little bit bitter. Strong, but so lovely. I would normally think of such a strong incense as being a winter scent, but this one is might be just beautiful in the heat of summer, flourishing on the skin, loudly calling out across the range. Definitely worth the money if you’ve got it.

Lonestar Memories is available directly from Tauer Perfumes or from Luckyscent and a few other distributors.

"...and the dreams that you dare to dream
really do come true."

- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"

Want more reviews?
~ Kevin at Now Smell This! has a review here.
~ Perfume-Smellin' Things has a review here.
~ The Scented Salamander has a review here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And everybody’s saying that hell’s the hippest way to go...

Today I am reviewing Guerlain L’Heure Bleue EdT.

Guerlain describes L’Heure Bleue’s creation as a response to deep ennui.
One summer evening, Jacques Guerlain was overcome by intense turmoil. It was the suspended hour, the hour when the sky has lost its sun but not yet found its stars. Everything in nature is clothed in a blue light. L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain: an emotion which this perfume alone is worthy of expressing. The curves which stand out on the upper part of the bottle show the influence of Art Nouveau. The stopper, in the form of a hollowed-out heart, is a playful allusion to the romantic pre-war years.
Sephora describes the scent notes as
A heady blend of roses, iris, and jasmine, laced with an intriguing background of vanilla and musk. L'Heure Bleue is intimate, emotional, and utterly refined. Like an armful of sweet, delicate flowers enveloped in a powdery aura.
Upon immediate application, my first reaction is soap with a small hint of grape. The soapy smell is kind of a mixture of the smell of baby oil and the smell of clean clothes fresh from the dryer, a soft and powdery smell. After about five minutes, a musk smell comes roaring into the mix, like the smell of grey wool on a wet day – a little bit chalky and dry. I suspect I’m smelling carnation in that bit. About half an hour in there appears a little bitty bit of a spicy note that it just lovely. L’Heure Bleue is probably one of the most complicated things I’ve ever smelled; it just kept changing, again and again.

L'Heure Bleue can be purchased a number of places, from department stores to online discounters. You can get 1.0 oz of the parfum from CostCo!

“Hey blue, here is a song for you.
Ink on a pin,
underneath the skin,
an empty space to fill in…”

- Joni Mitchell, “Blue”

Want more reviews?
~ Kevin at Now Smell This! has a review here.
~ For the Love of Perfume has a review here.
~ Bois de Jasmin’s review of the extrait de parfum concentration can be found here.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

While I'm at it...

Since I'm talking about non-perfume stuff today, I wanted to thank everyone for your suggestions on a good moisturizer. After trying a number of things, I finally settled on Juice Beauty's Nutrient Moisturizer for dry/sensitive/mature skin. It's a medium weight moisturizer made entirely from organic materials. It has a very mild smell and decently moisturized the dry areas of my face without leaving the oily sections even oilier. It may take a little while for me to fully evaluate my choice, but so far, so good.

Thanks again for the recommendations!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Shine On, You Crazy Diamond

Remember when you were young,
you shone like the sun.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Now there's a look in your eyes,
like black holes in the sky.
Shine on you crazy diamond...

Taking a brief break from perfume for a post, I’d like to talk a little bit about the newly created line of nail polish, Sephora by OPI. The line is available, as you’d imagine, at Sephora. I really like OPI polish. It goes on smooth, dries fast, usually matches the bottle color pretty closely with a proper coating, and generally lasts me a while. The nicest part about the Sephora OPI line is that there is an open bottle of each shade available at the store to actually try it on before purchasing. I went in today with clean, dry nails and tried on a few colors, which made it much easier to pick out which ones went the nicest with my skin tone. Sephora also provides polish remover and pads to take off the rainbow of polish before you exit the store looking like Bob Ross went nutso on your nail.

Sephora by OPI currently has three collections. The Digital Diva Collection is a collection of springy pastels that, while lovely, aren’t entirely right for me. The Autumn & Eve Collection has a lot of dark rich colors that are more in my wheel house. After perusing a bit, I choose three.

"I’m with Brad," which is a "shimmering wine over dark coffee," is also a glittery, shimmer burgundy. It can read as almost black until the light hits it, when it shimmers a lovely deep brown-red.

"Never Enough Shoes" is described as a "black with multi-color glitter." It’s less black on me than it is a purplish grey, but the glitter is really nice. So far I’ve only tried it on my toes, but it was great with some open toed satin black heels.

I tend toward glittery colors, but my final color is "BYOBoy." BYOBoy is a "spicy rose brown" which on me reads as a lovely dusty rose. It goes super well with my skin color, and it a pretty and noticeable color without being too loud or non-normative to wear to my rather conservative job with the local law enforcement. I don’t have a lot of polish that I really like that is also work appropriate, but this one will work out really well I think.

Sephora by OPI also has a Treatment Collection, which includes base coat, top coat, and some other basic items. From this collection I picked up the Restorative Hand Moisturizer, which is a rich moisturizer that isn’t sticky or greasy, absorbs easily, and has a lovely light lemony scent. As hand cream goes, I recommend it.

All colors go for $9 a bottle. A little on the pricey side, but OPI polish lasts forever if you keep the bottles closed tight. I really recommend trying the colors in the store, though, because there are too many colors that look lovely in the bottle and not so great on your hands. The ability to try them out first is very, no pun intended, handy.

"...Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!"

- Pink Floyd, "Shine On You Crazy Diamond, Parts I-V"

Want more polish reviews?
~ A review of reds from Perfume Posse.
~ There are a few additional polish recommendations included in this piece as well.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Week of Vanillas: Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille

This is the fifth and final review in a five-part series looking at several different lovely vanilla options available to perfumistas.

Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille
Guerlain describes Spiritueuse Double Vanille, a 2007 creation, thusly
If a colour or fragrance were to be associated with each day, like the planets were in ancient times, sandalwood would be the Sun, saffron would be Jupiter, and without doubt vanilla would be Venus.
Notes: vanilla, benzoin, frankincense, spices, cedar, pink pepper, bergamot, Bulgarian rose and ylang-ylang.
Wow. This is an incredible fragrance! On application, Spiritueuse Double Vanille was strong and held close to the skin, as if one ground vanilla tobacco down, soaked it in oil, and then oiled my skin with it. Like doing shots of vanilla extract infused vodka, the way the smell lingers in your mouth and nose long after the shot has already burned its fiery path to your belly.

In the midsection, Spiritueuse Double Vanille becomes less sweet, and more of a gorgeous tobacco-y smoke, a little powdery or ashy akin to a cloud of vanilla smoke. After about an hour, the liquor note remains strongly on me, and all but the barest hint of the smoke drops out, leaving a strongly vanilla extract smell. Not sweet like baked vanilla, but again strong and distilled, like making some sort of crazy bootleg vanilla hooch in an old tub out back. Also, on me, it lasted for hours! So beautiful. 
The way it hangs around you, being sweet and intoxicating, is a little like the kind of feeling intoxication you feel after you make out with someone for the first time. Then you stumbled out of your car up to the door and giggle as you wave to the driver. And you hum and you sing and you feel giddy. And the world seems sweet, sweeter than it did before. The worm will turn, of course, as it inevitably does. But in the moment, in that dizzying cloud of sweet smokey love, you just feel overwhelmingly happy and grateful, so grateful, to have the moment in the first place.
The sadness here, of course, is that Spiritueuse Double Vanille was a limited edition and, with the exception of buying decants from The Perfume Court, I can’t find a place to buy it anywhere. I have no doubt I will be spending a ridiculous sum on as much Spiritueuse Double Vanille as I can get my hands on as soon as it is fiscally possible. It is the Iris Pallida of vanillas for me, so of course it also has to be LE!

Here's an evening dark with shame.
Throw it on the fire.
Here's the time I took the blame.
Throw it on the fire.
Here's the time we didn't speak it seemed for years and years,
and here's a secret no one will ever know,
the reasons for the tears.
They are smoke.

- Ben Folds Five, "Smoke"

Want more reviews?
~ Scented Salamander review here.
~ I Smell Therefore I Am here
~ Perfume-Smellin’ Things review here.
~ Legerdenez has a review here.
~ And if my five reviews weren't enough, Robin over at Now Smell This! reviews Spiritueuse Double Vanille and a few more vanillas here.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Week of Vanillas: Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise

This is the fourth review in a five-part series looking at several different lovely vanilla options available to perfumistas.

Annick Goutal Vanille Exquise

Here’s a brief blurb on Vanille Exquise:
Vanille Exquise was introduced in 2004. Developed by perfumer Isabelle Doyen, this scent is a “vanilla that is evocative of temptation nestling between the fantasy of far-flung islands and the memory of Cleopatra's vanilla almond milk baths.”

Notes: vanilla, angelica, almond, benzoin, gaiac wood and white musk.
This is a strange tangy kind of vanilla. It has the sweetness of vanilla, but it is mixed with a saltiness, like vanilla mixed with salt water and crushed sea shells. It feels very "vanilla meets the sea" to me. Or maybe vanilla flavored salt water taffy, if such a thing exists? That sharp tang is probably the angelica, which is really biting on me. It sweetens up a little on me over the dry down, but that sharp salty tang never goes away. It's got good staying power, lasting five to eight hours strongly on me, and then more faintly for another three hours or so. It’s lovely and complicated, and if you are looking for a less foody vanilla, this might be a good choice for you.

Vanille Exquise is available a whole host of places, including Saks Fifth Avenue and Beauty Encounter.

Want more reviews?
~ For a review from Legerdenez check here.
~ Jenny over at Perfume Making has her review here.
~ Robin at Now Smell This! reviewed Vanille Exquise here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Week of Vanillas: Memoire Liquide Creme de Vanille #204

This is the third review in a five-part series looking at several different lovely vanilla options available to perfumistas. 
Memoire Liquide Creme de Vanille #204

Creme de Vanille isn’t intended by the Bespoke line to be more than a single note ingredient in the Memoire Liquide repertoire you can use to design your own bespoke fragrance if you’ve got access to one of their two modern-day apothecary locations (NYC or LA) and, of course, the cash. If you’re interested in such perfumery magicks, you should check out Jessica’s piece on her experience. I ended up getting a sample of it solo from The Perfumed Court and have worn it as such, so I decided to review it as a stand alone fragrance regardless. 
Initially this is a coconut kind of vanilla, less foody than Vanille Bourbon, but still more food-y than Vanille Exquise. After the immediate initial handful of sniffs the coconut is replaced by a sort of woody vanilla, with a sweet cherry undertone. It conjures in my mind a vanilla vodka martini with two cherries and a sprig of vanilla flowers on a woody stalk as garnish. The sweetness is like the sweetness of honey, not sugary like that of a vanilla cake. It has good staying power without being a big scent or a heavy scent like Vanille Bourbon. Creme de Vanille provides an interesting, lighter option for someone who wants a gourmand that is less sweet than Vanille Bourbon.

Want more reviews?
~ The only brief mention I could find of Vanille Crème was here on Now Smell This!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Week of Vanillas: Il Profumo Vanille Bourbon

This is the second review in a five-part series looking at several different lovely vanilla options available to perfumistas.

As I mentioned yesterday, I am a huge fan of the foodie vanilla. I love baking, and I even considered going to culinary school rather than law school, so gourmand scents are right in my wheelhouse. So as much as I was not expecting L'Artisan's take on vanilla, I was actively seeking a foodie vanilla. Thanks to Il Profumo's Vanille Bourbon, I got my wish.

Il Profumo Vanille Bourbon, available from Luckyscent, is described as follows:
Vanilla lovers, it’s time to rejoice! Two types of orchid are used to bring to mind an intense, sweet, rich vanilla fragrance, anchored with the delicious scents of heliotrope, exotic tiare and warm amber. This is an instant smile and an easy laugh…it’s soft vanilla joy in a bottle. Easygoing yet totally addictive (we mean it—we crawled over two tables one day to find exactly what gorgeous vanilla was enticing us so!), this is the finest bourbon vanilla we’ve ever laid our noses on. The Absolu version is strong—an amazing plus for any vanilla scent (and wonderful staying power, too!) Did we say addictive? Vanille Bourbon has left us with a loss for words, so we’ll just say, “WOW!”

Notes: cedar flowers, orchids (bourbon and yellow), heliotrope, tiare, rose wood
This is absolutely one of my favorite vanillas. Right from the beginning, this reads as one of the foodiest vanillas I've ever sniffed. Vanille Bourbon is sweet like baking, but with a lovely alcohol note and it is BIG. Frankly, I feel like I took a slightly sweetened vanilla extract and, in between dashes into the cake batter, dabbed it on my neck. While over time it doesn’t really develop beyond that initial sweet slap, that’s okay with me. The scent is consistent throughout on me – top, middle, bottom – hanging around me like a huge delicious cloud. Of all the vanillas I tried, this one garnered the most compliments, too. (My husband never fails to mention how much he likes it.) Clearly this one is not for everyone, but if you like the sweet and the gourmand, then Vanille Bourbon is definitely worth a try.

He likes bread and butter,
He likes toast and jam,
That's what his baby feeds him,
He's her loving man.

The Newbeats, "Bread and Butter"

Want more reviews?
~ Review from For the Love of Perfume here.
~ Also, a couple of brief reviews available from 1000fragrances and Sakecat’s Scent Project.

Cupcake image from Urban Nutritionist.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Week of Vanillas: L'Artisan Vanilia

I meant to post this early this morning but the internet was out in my house and the day got away from me. The first of five reviews in anticipation of my being gone all of next week.
This week I will be reviewing five fine vanilla scents. As I previously mentioned, I wore vanilla for years. A cheap vanilla but in my opinion entirely lovely vanilla, The Body Shop's Vanilla Spice.
L’Artisan Vanilia

First up, L’Artisan Vanilia, described as follows:
A magnificent vanilla. This L’Artisan classic blends the vanilla flower with the more familiar bean and adds a hint of amber to create a gloriously rich fragrance with warmth and depth. Sophisticated, slightly spicy, and not at all sugary. Very different from any other vanilla scent we have ever encountered. Gorgeous and complex.
Notes: vanilla flower, vanilla bean, amber
Complex is right! My first thought on application was “Is this even vanilla!?!” Vanilla, in my head, is a sweet, foody, baking smell. So the first time I sniffed this along with several other, more foody vanillas in an effort to better discern the differences, my initial reaction was to be very displeased. I actually thought it might have gone bad. (I'd bought a decant.) But on second sniff, after reading the descriptions and sniffing it entirely on its own, I liked it a bit better. Then I gave it a couple of full sprays and wore it for the day; that's when I grew to love it.
Vanilia is not foody to me at all. This is a vanilla made of the greenness in the world, of earthy stalks and shoots. While a sweetness peeks through well into the middle, it is a close, clean kind of sweetness, like the slightly sweet smell of wet white cotton sheets drying in the sun on a clothesline. The sweet reminds of very faintly of an orchid, but not in an overly flowery way. It remains so strangely natural smelling. On dry down, throughout the day, occasionally a bit of sweetness would waft up at me, but mostly all I could think when I smelled it was the chorus of that Mountain Goats song, "pale green things."
Now I really enjoy it because I accept it for what it is, not what I expect it to be. L’Artisan Vanilia is definitely the weirdest of all the vanillas I’ve ever smelled but I mean that entirely in a good way. If you think you hate vanilla, this is worth a try. L’Artisan Vanilia is available all over the place: Beautyhabit, Luckyscent, etc.
Casting your gaze way out to no man's land.
Sometimes I'll meet you out there,
lonely and frightened,
flicking my tongue out at the wet leaves.
Pale green things.
Pale green things.

~The Mountain Goats, "Pale Green Things"

Want more reviews?
~ Review by Robin from Now Smell This! here
~ Review from One Thousand Scents here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard....

In my 400-level minor capstone, my Feminist Theory prof had us all submit pro-feminist/pro-womynist songs to make a class compilation CD. I will never forget that one of her selections for the CD was Kelis's "Milkshake."

Every time I think of milkshakes, my default flavor is vanilla. I don't know why. I don't tend to favor vanilla as a flavor of milkshake or anything else really. I usually go for the mocha perk or the mint chocolate chip or something else vaguely chocolate related. Vanilla is typically thought of as a "boring" flavor. As Paris says to Rory in "Luke Can See Her Face" (episode in Gilmore Girls: Season 4) about her elderly paramour:

Paris: He orders old gelato.
Rory: Old gelato?
Paris: Vanilla. It's a very old flavour.
But I think vanilla gets a bad rap, particularly as a scent. So this week, I'm giving you five full days of vanilla reviews. All vanilla, all the time. Perhaps we can all take this as an opportunity to rethink this oft maligned flavor.
My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard,
and they're like,
"It's better than yours."
Damn, right it's better than yours!
I can teach you,
but I have to charge.

Kelis, "Milkshake"

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A half-angel, half-tart.

You shoot me glances and they're so hard to read.
I misconstrue what you mean.

I spent Saturday night at home with friends, coercing them into watching the excellence that is the 1992 Cameron Crowe film, “Singles,” and, as always, thinking about perfume.

The film came out just as I was starting high school, and I'd say was fairly influential on what I expected my twenties to be like. ("Reality Bites" was probably the other hugely influential film.) I try, now, to remember what I wore back then, in high school. I think I mostly smelled like Bath & Body Works Sun-Ripened Raspberry. Occasionally I think there was some Pearberry, Sweet Pea, and Country Apple thrown in there (I bought nothing but pink and red colored body products, apparently), but by and large it was Sun-Ripened Raspberry, day in, day out.

Then in college I swapped over to The Body Shop Vanilla. Vanilla everything. Vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. A friend actually teased me about how boring I smelled, to which I retorted at the time that my now-husband had commented that he liked it.

Between college and law school, it was the now defunct Origins Ginger with a Twist. I picked it out for my wedding because ginger is my husband’s favorite things in the world. (The man can eat a *pound* of crystallized ginger in one sitting!) After I discovered Origins canceled it, I bought two bottles in the hopes that it will last me for years now. I wore it the day I got married, so it’s emotionally significant to me.

In fact, as I trip back through memory lane, I remember distinctly wearing three things as a young girl: Revlon’s Charlie, Revlon owned Natural Wonder’s Electric Youth, a fragrance inspired by the Debbie Gibson hit of the same name, and Coty’s Exclamation. You can actually still buy all three, though Electric Youth goes for a pretty penny on Ebay. All I remember about Electric Youth is that it was cloyingly sweet; my father hated it and reworked the lyrics to the eponymous song to indicate as such.

Charlie I remember as being less sweet, but I haven’t sniffed it since I was about twelve. I should really correct that by hitting up the local Walgreens. And Exclamation! I can’t believe it’s still being made. I’ll have to try to catch a whiff of that, too. It will be so strange to smell it all now that I actually know how to smell things.

And speaking of smelling things: Today I’m wearing Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen. The actual ad copy is pretty hilarious.
She is not only this edgy lady, or the most glamorous, or the most intimidating, she’s just all that at the same time, a Beauty on her own, impossible to describe… and that’s exactly why she’s so fascinating. Her perfume, first lead to solve the mystery, is an old fashioned leathery Chypre, at the crossroads of modern an classic perfumery. warned! Juliette is back, more uncatchable than ever…
This copy tells you less than nothing about the scent, of course. Luckyscent more helpfully provides the following:
The third weapon in this hip series of rose fragrances is the most powerful one yet: a striking chypre with aldehydic and animalic undertones, a scent at once belonging to an earlier era of classic perfumery and absolutely contemporary. Blended with amber and patchouli, the dark, leathery rose at the center of the composition takes no prisoners. Violet and iris soften the striking mix, adding a charming retro quality to the perfume. Veiled by this delicately powdery accord, the rose is mysterious, elusive, endlessly intriguing.

Notes: Leather, Bulgarian Rose, Iris, Amber, Immortal flowers, Labdanum
Citizen Queen on immediate application is very powdery and flowery on me, kind of like baby powder. Within a few minutes the overly sweet edge comes off, though, which is a good thing. The iris isn’t very obvious on me in application. This chypre obviously contains sandalwood, which is strong on me, and the amber is also strong, with the rose peaking through at the very bottom, giving it a bit of depth. In the middle, the leather note gets stronger on me, and it smells warm and a little spicy, again vastly improving on the initial application. Again, this lessening of the sweetness and warming up on the animalic notes really improves Citizen Queen. Like nineties riot grrrl fashion, which paired flower dresses with combat boots and thermal shirts under t-shirts scrawled with “This is what a feminist looks like!,” Citizen Queen is both traditionally feminine and boldly rejecting the trappings of traditional femininity. Much like its predecessor, Lady Vengeance, what seems pretty and traditionally feminine at the start turns out to be more assertive, independent, and, let’s be honest, a little dirty. And the little dirty bit, as we all know, is what I like best about it.

I know a lot of people have been swapping Citizen Queen away, but I really like it. Not as much as I love Lady Vengeance, but I like it very much. You can buy it from Beautyhabit and Luckyscent, but I got my 100ml bottle, sprayed once, at about two thirds the price!
Do I read you correctly? Lead me directly.
Help me with this part.
Do I hate you? Do I date you?
Do I got a dyslexic heart?
~ Paul Westerberg, "Dyslexic Heart"

Want more reviews of Citizen Queen?
~ Try the Scented Salamander’s review here.
~ A review from I Smell Therefore I Am here.
~Fragrance Bouquet’s review is here.