Saturday, October 31, 2009

Must be the Season of the Witch

Favorites for Fall 2009

When I look out my window,
many sights to see.
And when I look in my window,
so many different people to be
that it's strange, so strange....

- "Season of the Witch," Donovan

Readjusting to living in Portland means walking into a Fall season in full swing. This is akin to walking face first into a door, weather-wise, and it has taken me a week or so to adjust. In addition, I'm just barely overcoming a moderate chest infection, which made the old sniffer go a little haywire.

If you've seen even the posters or ads for the Twilight movie, then you know that the film is shot with a kind of bluish filter that makes everything look tinted in the light. In the book, the effect is described by the narrator as "alien." But when you live here, the grey light makes the lovely fall colors higher contrast, making the whole world seem more richly colored. I've done fall in New England, and it's beautiful in its own right, but nothing touches the singular beauty of the PNW in fall. Except maybe the PNW in Spring.

But I digress...

When I think about Fall in Portland, I tend toward scents that fall into a handful of categories. Big white flowers just don't cut it in the white and wild green and grey. Gourmands, on the other hand, reflect the cozy feelings I ascribe to fall in Oregon. Yes, it's windy and wet and wild in that way that Nature is, but that also invokes smells of wet cashmere and wood burning stoves and savory stews and homemade pies with handmade crusts. So for me, foodie scents are very in for fall, as well as the smell of burning leaves and wood, incenses, and the smells of warm beverages, like coffee and tea and cider and liquor.

When it comes to nature in Oregon, CB I Hate Perfume Wild Hunt is just so very fall to me. It's wet dirt and sweet decay, exactly what I think of when I think fall. I actually found myself walking to lunch the other day and thought I'd smelled Wild Hunt, but it was just a momentary wafting up of the grounds as I passed. It's perfect for Oregon in Fall.

To that end, let me give you my favorites for fall of 2009. When it comes to coffee, Bond No. 9 New Haarlem cannot be beat. As vaillas go, Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille is a great foodie vanilla and Il Profumo Vanille Bourbon strikes a lovely balance between foodie and boozy.

In terms of tea scents, for fall I like CB I Hate Perfume Lavender Tea, which is a lovely feminine scent that also feels warm and cozy. The other tea scent I like for Fall (though I think it also works for Spring) is L'Artisan Tea for Two.

My fall spicy, incense-y choices are Costume National 21, Tauer Perfumes L'Air du desert marocain, and my perennial favorite, L'Artisan Dzing! These are great, strong scents that can overcome the wet world outside that clings to you along with all those other world smells. When you peel off all the cold weather layers, these are scents that will still be there, hanging around you in a sophisticated and lovely way.

Lastly, I think it's always nice to have a rose for every season, and the dirty skanky patchouli bits in Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance are spot on for fall. I also think Agent Provocateur EDP would also work, but I personally prefer Lady Vengeance, so that's my choice.

I hope you are all having a lovely fall. I know I am. As much as I wish I were employed, I am so, so happy to be home. It took me thirty-one years, but I finally have a home. I hope you all feel as lucky as I do.

And with that, have a Happy Halloween.

More top 10 lists for Fall 2009 from Grain de Musc, Erin at Now Smell This!, Bois de Jasmin, Perfume-Smellin' Things, and the whole Perfume Posse gang.

Images courtesy of Twilight and the Seattle Examiner.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

This could be the very minute I'm aware I'm alive

Il Profumo Chocolat EDP

I love chocolate. I do. I adore chocolate possibly more than any other consumable item on Earth. I'm not picky about the form it comes in, either. Cake, brownie, fudge, frosting, bar, chip, liquid, I love it all. I love it in all flavors -- white, dark, milk, medium dark, swirl. I love it mixed with everything, too. Fruit, nuts, spices, peanut butter, nougat, carmel, milk, graham crackers, peppermint sticks... Hell, I even love chocolate beer.

When it comes to lovely cold weather, though, I love hot chocolate. Delicious, lovely, cuddly hot chocolate. I especially love Mexican hot chocolate, which marries spices like chili powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and almonds with dark chocolate to create spicy liquid love right there in your mug. Good Mexican hot chocolate is difficult to make; I cannot even imagine how much harder it is to make a perfume that captures it's delightful scent. Luckily, Il Profumo is out there to do it for me.

According to Luckyscent, Il Profumo Chocolat EDP
is dark and sweetened with candied fruit and cocoa...think more Jailia more than Serendipitous. Spiced cocoa, opulent fruits and dark vanilla, its darkly sweet charms lie in the smooth, honey-like chocolate depths. Both dangerously seductive and eye-battingly coy, Chocolat will get you noticed, but only by those very close (in other words, those special people you want to notice).

Notes: mandarin, nutmeg, sandalwood, galbanum, cocoa, plum, jasmine, yellow rose, vanilla
Il Profumo Chocolat is a spicy, nutmeggy cocoa on application. It's got a dryness to it like cocoa powder rather than melted bar chocolate, with powdery hints of vanilla, cinnamon, and chili powder like Mexican hot chocolate. As it dries down it becomes less spicy and more balanced, improving the mixture further. This is a perfect scent for bundling up in wintry weather. It's like it was designed for the pretty kiddies in those fabulous wintry GAP ads I've always loved.

You can buy Il Profumo Chocolat EDP at Luckyscent.

"You're the only thing that I love.
It scares me more every day.
On my knees, I think clearer.
Goodness knows I saw it coming,
or at least I'll claim I did,
but in truth I'm lost for words..."

- "Chocolate," Snow Patrol

The only reviews I could find were the customer reviews at Luckyscent.

Images from featuring the wonderful chocolates from Portland, Oregon-based chocolatier Moonstruck, Azienda Infiera and Taza Chocolate.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD): Season 6 Week 1

I am an avid SYTYCD fan and have decided to start posting my impressions here.

I missed Monday night so I have no commentary for the solo night.

Channing & Philip's Jive - Just didn't do it for me. I felt like they were really cold and disconnected. I'd have put these two no the chopping block.

Ashleigh & Jacob's Jazz -- Tycee D did some amazing choreography and Jacob is freaking amazing. Good luck keeping up Ashleigh.

Ariana & Peter's Hiphop -- I loved this number. Could it be tighter, yes? But emotionally I thought it was better than that cold jive at the beginning.

Noelle & Russell Foxtrot - Russell is just one of my absolute favorites of all time for the show. To find a crumper who can actually dance other styles is so amazing. PLUS!!!! He's got some of the greatest presentation on the show. He really performs and uses his body and his personality and sells it. I predict he will be an audience favorite.

Bianca & Victor's Contemporary - Travis Wall did a really nice strength based piece here. I enjoyed the piece more than the dancing.

Karen and Kevin's Cha-Cha -- The use of the Glee cast song was weird. This is a bad pairing. Karen was amazing and great; Kevin sucked. He does not seem that strong to me. I'd like to see Karen with another partner.

Ryan & Ellenore's Contemporary - Oh Sonya -- you're choreography is so hit and miss. This was a total miss for me. I think the dancers tried but this was just too weird. The judges loved this but I really really did not.

Pauline & Brandon's Smooth Waltz - Oh the curse of the waltz and the quickstep. The folks who get these routines are always fucked. I wonder if they spend half their week just practicing their solos.

Kathryn & Legacy's Hip-hop - Interesting piece, fun piece, good chemistry between the couple. One of the better pieces of the week.

Mollee & Nathan's Disco - Nathan looked very uncomfortable all throughout. I did not see the charisma the judges kept going on and on about.

Overall -- wow will this show miss Mia Michaels. I really do feel like the choreography has already gone down. The men are way stronger than the women, except for ballroom in my opinion. That said, not a bad week.

For me, best of week: Ashleigh & Jacob's Jazz & Kathryn & Legacy's Hip-hop.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In a minute there is time / For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

INeKE Field Notes From Paris

I'm back in Portland. I've been back six days, but immediately collapsed into a chest infection celebrating the shift in weather and the seventeen straight hours of driving it took to get me here. I'm still unpacking my car, slowly, so I apologize for being behind on reviews.

Luckily, today's mail came with a solution. Amidst the bills and letters and flyers and other detritus was a package from INeKE. I've spoken at length about how much I enjoy the creations of San Francisco, California-based perfumer Ineke Rühland, so I was thrilled to my toes when I received a sample of her newest creation Field Notes From Paris.

The beautiful packaging, which references T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," saying the scent "is inspired by Ineke's halcyon days studying perfumery in Paris and Versailles." A "woody Oriental," Field Notes from Paris "captures the romantic, nostalgic feeling of sitting at a cafe and writing in a journal while lingering from hours over a cafe creme." The notes are listed as top notes of coriander seed, orange flower, and bergamont; middle notes of tobacco flower & leaf, patchouli, cedar, and bottom notes of tonka bean, leather, beeswax, and vanilla.

Field Notes from Paris is a truly lovely mix. On application the orange flower and bergamont hit the nose first, but within five minutes the middle notes jump in as well as the tonka bean and vanilla, creating a tango of sweet, smokey, woody deliciousness. I can't decide if I want to nuzzle the scent or lick my arm because it manages to be both cozy and delicious. I love that there is citrus playing into this because it creates a sophisticated and unique mixture and creates a much classier citrus smell than you usually get. This is truly lovely, a great scent for fall, and would work well for a man or a woman.

When I think of Eliot and the woman he cannot confess his love to, throwing a shawl over a lamp or turning to or away from him, when I think of the long and lonely walk home after while he rationalizes his own cowardice, I can imagine this scent clinging to hunched shoulders, floating through his memory of the friendly embraced they shared on his way out. A lovely scent for the contemplation, not of love lost, but love never quite begun. A longing that hangs in the air, like the last unresolved note of a mournful song. It is Nina Simone in "You Can Have Him." It's Bogart and Bacall in "Casabalanca." It is Prufrock and his angst. It is sweet and bitter like orange rind and smoke drenched jackets and the one that got away.

Available in a 75 ml for $88 direct from the perfumer. Also, I've said it before, but it's worth noting again: the beautifully made sample box of six 1.5ml sprayers for $25, which can be applied towards the purchase of any of the scent bottles is an incredible gift, either for yourself or someone else who likes perfume. It's definitely some of the best money I've spent, perfume wise, because you get such a lovely variety of scents. I highly recommend it.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!

- "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," T. S. Eliot

Want more reviews? Try...
~ review from Perfume of Life
~ review from Pink Sith

For my reviews of other INeKE creations, you can find them here: After My Own Heart, Balmy Days & Sundays, Chemical Bonding, Derring Do, and Evening Edged in Gold.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Put up the tree before my spirit falls again.

CB I Hate Perfume the Fir Tree

“Fill up the stocking,
I may be rushing things,
but deck the halls again now.…”

Last night I was at Target and I noticed that on top of the copious Halloween decorations and the random fall themed Thanksgiving décor, the winter holiday decorations have already hit the shelves. Yes, yes. I know that, in some ways, this is just another manifestation of our gross consumerism, meant to be loathed by any right thinking person. Yes, Christmas has largely been stripped of any deeper meaning of love, generosity, faith, and spirit by secular, commercial culture. I get it. Really.

But from the time I was a little girl, I have loved Christmas and truly believed it to be a magical time of year. I believe there is such a thing as Christmas magic, and even in the face of anecdotal and statistical data that suggests otherwise, I like to believe everyone is happier during the holidays. I have tons of holiday decorations and a collection of gift wrap that would definitely underline the commercial aspects. I start Christmas shopping in October every year and send out over 100 holiday cards.

One holiday staple I’ve sort of given up on though is a live tree. For years I had a tiny plastic tree to move around with. No more than two feet tall, it got the job done but couldn’t really handle full sized ornaments. Last year I got my first full sized tree as an adult, but I still got a fake one. It’s a big nice fancy fake one that retails for several hundred dollars (though I got mine much cheaper), but it’s still fake. Because it’s so nice, it looks great and avoids all the mess and hassle of cleaning up falling needles; also I get to feel better about not cutting down a tree every year and can avoid all the guilt associated with the memory of my mother reading me “The Little Fir Tree” at a vulnerable age. The one thing I miss, though, is the wonderful smell of a real tree. I love the smell of real trees. Luckily, I can count on Christopher Brosius to help me out.

The inspiration for CB I Hate Perfume the Fir Tree, which is supposed to smell like “Fir trees in the forest with a touch of frozen earth,” is described by Brosius as follows:
I love the smell of fir trees it is one of my favorite things about winter. Whether in the woods, stacked on city sidewalks for sale in December or, best yet, in one's living room, there is something so refreshing and invigorating about the smell of these trees. It's easy to understand why they symbolize the start of the New Year. Even on the hottest summer day, I can walk in a grove of Fir Trees and feel the cool snowflakes melting on my face.
You might be thinking to yourself, “That’s real nice and all, but who the hell wants to smell like a fir tree?” Apparently, I do. the Fir Tree is an artful fir, spearmint-y, fresh, light, and appealing. This isn’t a knock you down with its strength, reeking-off-a-little-scented-paper-tree-hanging-from-your-rear-view-mirror kind of fir. This is a fir scent meant to be worn with kicky holiday frocks, sprayed around the house before a winter party, or worn while cuddling next to a roaring fire with the one you love. It works well for a man or a woman, has minimal sillage and is very light, so you’ll need to be generous with spraying on the water perfume. That’s okay, though; this one is light enough that it would be hard to over do it. What a nice, cooling fragrance for the winter! Like a dash of peppermint schnapps in your hot chocolate, it’s the perfect accent for the holiday season.

You can buy the Fir Tree for $60 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume, as well as a 150ml home spray for $40, direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

“For we need a little music,
Need a little laughter,
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter,
And we need a little snappy
’Happy ever after,’
We need a little Christmas now.”

- “We Need a Little Christmas,” from Jerry Herman’s Mame

Try as I might, I cannot seem to locate more reviews of the Fir Tree. Too bad for you reviewers out there. It’s worth a try.

Images from Wikimedia, & Flickr.

(Note: apparently getting real trees is more environmentally friendly. Did not know that. At least I bought mine used, so I did not increase apparent demand for the fakes. Sigh.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just Breath.

CB I Hate Just Breath

Not to be conceited (alert: relatively conceited comment forecoming), but I'm good at a lot of stuff.

You know what I'm not good at, though? Taking care of myself. Saying no when I am overloaded. Staying calm. Generally? Just breathing.

Luckily, to paraphrase iAdvertising, there's a scent for that.

According to Christopher Brosius, Just Breath, originally created exclusively for Marie Claire magazine, "is blended with Bamboo Leaves, Japanese Green Tea, three varieties of Cedarwood, forest and just the merest hint of Incense."
There is only so much you can do in a 24-hour period. Subatomic particles may comfortably exist in two places at once but you can't. There is a big difference between expanding your boundaries and driving yourself nuts.

Why don't you calm down for a moment and JUST BREATHE? I designed this scent to calm, balance and center you whenever you need just that.

Suddenly you're transported to a Buddhist Temple deep in the fresh green forest. Isn't that really where you'd rather be?

On me, Just Breath is a lovely mixture of dirt, mint, and clean spring water. When I breathe it in, I imagine water rushing down mountain. The water is clear, clean, and cool. As it tumbles, it picks up flecks of fresh earth, crushed flower petals, twigs of young wood, springs of herbs, torn leaves. On a hike, I stop to wash my hands in it. Raising my wet hands to cool my face, I inhale and smell...this. When you see advertisers trying to bottle freshness, refreshingness, cleanness, lightness: this is what they are trying to give you.

So when you are feeling overwhelmed, take a tip from Chris Brosius: just breath.

Just Breath is very light with low sillage. It feels more seasonally appropriate for Spring, and reads more feminine to me than I might recommend for a man.

You can buy Just Breath for $60 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

I couldn't find any other reviews of CB I Hate Just Breath, so you'll have to just try it for yourself.

Images from CB I Hate and J Morgan Marketing.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

I wanted to take up lots of room. I wanted to loom.

Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory

“Another way to take up more space is with perfume. I really love wearing perfume.” — Andy Warhol

It takes a lot of confidence to wear perfume, especially well-known perfume or perfume with punch. A perfume with wide sillage, one you leave trailing behind you like vapor, for better or worse, is going to say to the world, "Look at me." And in our current culture, an invitation to look is always an invitation to judgement. So wearing something that might get you noticed takes guts, particularly when you might otherwise feel like being anonymous. If you're looking to hide, then let me forewarn you: do not try Bond no. 9 Andy Warhol Silver Factory. If, however, you want an audacious scent that encourages you to take up space, to loom, then this one is definitely worth trying.

Bond describes Silver Factory as follows:
Warhol once made mention of a company that was “interested in buying his aura.” Here it is, in liquid form. Depicted on the bottle is a bold rendition of one of the artist’s most recognizable works, the Campbell’s Soup Can. Soup? Perfume? Both smell sweet to us. Not to mention smooth, smoky, spicy and of ambiguous male-female gender.

Notes: Incense, wood resin, amber, jasmine, iris and violet
Wow! I get a tiny wave of flowers on immediate application, but almost immediately they peel away revealing a heady mix of tobacco and amber, liquorices and wood. I get the iris coming through from the bottom. Jasmine and violets, though, aren’t there on me in the first ten to fifteen minutes.

After about an hour it gets sweeter, but not a floral sweet as much as a candied sweet, kind of like nuts, rolled in sugar and spices and roasted. Or maybe like a really good spice cake? Like fresh tabacco leaves, carefully dried and then rehydrated with sweet spice rum? I know I'm supposed to get 1960s boho artist from this, but instead I get something very...Pirates of the Carribean. It smells so rich and saucy and wild. It backs off a lot after two hours, and becomes more mutedly sweet, but I think a couple of sprays would not only get you through the day but might knock a body or two down during the first half hour.

Silver Factory is so incense-y and complex that you could lose all the layered aspects of Silver Factory that make it a unique blend, but somehow, magically, you don't. What’s wonderful is how natural it smells. It is not unusual for this kind of complicated scent to collapse in on itself and become flat or to read as incredibly synthetic and fake. The fact that it doesn’t that it just continues unfolding is truly beautiful. Silver Factory is a multiple award winner, and every one is truly deserved. this is the very best of the Bond scents I've tried.

Whooping strength and sillage, this is a great bold choice for a man or woman. It rides that edge of being both masculine and feminine in equal measure, making it an excellent challenge because this is a scent that will draw attention and require confidence.

Silver Factory is available in both a 50ml for $150 and 100ml for $230 direct from the perfumer, Amazon, and a variety of department stores and online outlets. That's a lot of scratch, to be sure, but this one is I'd say is really worth it.

"I will be picturesque; I will be nice.
I won't do anything you can't tell your wife.
I will think before I act.
I will think twice.
Just let me see your eyes...
We could just look around, not do nothing wrong.
Just try to be at least as brave as our songs.
I will bring my heart.
I will bring my face.
Just name the time and place."

- Ani DiFranco

Want more? Try...
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Perfume-Smellin’ Things
~ A review from Perfume Shrine
~ A review from bellasugar
~ A review from Pink Manhattan
~ A review from Stiletto Jungle

Images from Bond No. 9, Fuck Yeah Edie Sedgewick, and Disney's Pirates of the Carribean.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Want Candy!

It has come to my attention that I have been remiss in posting about my thoughts on scents for a lovely Fall day. It seems I’m perpetually behind on these things, but in this case I have a pretty good defense. It’s hard to think of fabulous fall scents when you are stuck in a place where Fall never comes. The leaves don’t turn. The temperature is in the mid-90s. Everyone is still wearing shorts. Witherist thou Fall scent post?, you ask. Whitherist my Fall weather?, I reply.

Don’t worry. In approximately five days I will be back in my beloved Pacific Northwest where the cold winds blow, the rain is ever present, and the leaves definitely undergo a fall time transformation. I’m sure the cool weather will inspire me. Until then, you’ll have to wait out my time in the endless summer purgatory with me.

Les Nereides Douceur de Vanille

I love vanillas, bit vanillas have a risk, at times, of having an initial scent that hits your nose with an all too familiar note. You lean in looking for heaven and come back up with a nose full of Play-doh. In my mind this play-doh is always that neon red-orange color I associate with fallout shelter warnings, but hey, chose your own color to suit. While reviews on Luckyscent warned of a “baby powder” possibility, which I can see a little off, I definitely got play-doh instead.

With Les Nereides Douceur de Vanille, it’s the play-doh note on application. According to LuckyScent, Douceur de Vanille’s notes are “bourbon vanilla, almond, cocoa, white rose, star aniseed” and it is described as
The softest, milkiest vanilla we've ever found. This evokes the pure, delicate sweetness of the icy crystals on top of homemade ice cream. Incomparable bourbon vanilla is caressed with almond and cocoa and freshened with white rose. Opening with a burst of innocence and powder, Douceur de Vanille mellows into a gentle, creamy skin scent that seems more like a delectable aura than a perfume – as if you just happen to have naturally delicious skin. The perfect warm weather vanilla. Heavenly.
I don’t know where the “softest and sweetest” is coming from on this one. It’s so play-doh-y on me that, even fifteen minutes in, it feels like it will melt my eyes. It is so cloying. A lot of the Luckyscent reviews also mentioned this being a “light” scent. I took two swipes out of a 1ml wand sample and OHHOLYMARYMOTHEROFGOD, light was NOT a word I’d associate here.

This is a borderline scrubber for me, something that I say very rarely. An hour in and I still feel it rising off skin like some ghost of vanilla past come back to life to haunt me for all those times I said that I couldn’t get enough vanilla. I think it’s the aniseed and rose coming through super strong so that it’s equal parts those two and vanilla, and it just one hot salty sugary mess. I love vanillas. Hell, I love big vanillas, cheap vanillas, one note vanillas, all kinds of vanillas. But this one is just way too much vanilla for me. And that, my friends, is saying something. It you’re looking for your vanilla and salt, stingy scent, trust me when I saw that going with Annick Goutal Vanille is probably a better bet.

Montale Vanille Absolu

On the other hand, literally, we have Montale Vanille Absolu. Luckyscent describes Vanille Absolu as
Smooth and sweet, silky and enveloping, Vanille Absolu is everything you could ever desire in an upscale vanilla: swirly folds of boozy vanilla are set off and enhanced by soft woods and a touch of cinnamon and clove. It’s more like the pure distilled essence of a true vanilla bean pod than the wafer cookie vanillas that have flooded the market in the last few years, but make no mistake: this beauty flaunts its sweet depths with wild abandon and really doesn’t care who’s looking. A refined vanilla without being snooty, we can think of several perfumes that trumpet “vanilla” in their name then try to bury the note under a pile of florals or other notes in an effort to be “classy.” Montale got it right – there’s a reason so many of us love the smell of vanilla, and Vanille Absolu is it. It’s one of the best pure, elegant vanillas on the market. Period.

The notes: vanilla, cinnamon, clove, woods.
There is nothing play-doh-y about this one. Instead it comes on hot and heavy and cotton candy heaven. If you like candyfloss scents, this is going to rock your socks. The clove comes through initially in a weird musky almost fake way, but after about an hour the whole mixture clams down into a really lovely candied vanilla and spice mix. It’s like smearing yourself in coating made of melted caramels, condensed sweetened milk, cinnamon and cloves. Of if someone who smoked lovely clove ciagarettes and wore really strongly vanilla flavored lip gloss gave you a kiss deep enough to knock you on your ass. Either way, a lovely experience, but a little goes a long way. Personally the longer I had it on the more I loved it, but don’t say you haven’t been warned!

Definitely not for the foodie/candy floss faint of heart, but if you are already into these scents, you might like this. It’s more candy than some of the other foodie vanillas I love, like Memoire Liquide Creme de Vanille #204 or Il Profumo Vanille Bourbon, but more complex and interesting than Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot, another candy floss that I love. Where as Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot is a sweet fruity youthful nights on the boardwalk kind of scent, Montale Vanille Absolu is like an adult cotton candy...perhaps one that goes with waking up in the sand, under the boardwalk the morning after.

Also, can I just take a moment to lament the packaging on both of these? Those angels on the label of the Les Nereides label make me feel vomitous. Was Les Nereides intending to market for six year old girls? And Montale -- why take all that lovely scent and put it into something that looks like an aluminun water bottle bike fanatics use? What's wrong with a nice clean looking glass bottle? Oh happy medium, where have you gone...

Les Nereides Douceur de Vanille, clearly loved by others far more than me, is currently on backorder at Luckyscent, is available in 100ml for $65. Montale Vanille Absolu is available in 50ml for $95 and 100ml for $135. The 100ml of Vanille Absolu is on backorder until November, though, so it might be worth looking around if you want to buy either sooner.

"Candy on the beach, there's nothing better!
But I like candy when it's wrapped in a sweater.
Some day soon I'll make you mine,
Then I'll have candy all the time..."

- "I Want Candy," Bow Wow Wow

I couldn’t find any reviews of Les Nereides Douceur de Vanille, though I feel the user reviews on Luckyscent cover a lot of ground. For reviews of Montale Vanille Absolu, try….
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from 1000 Scents.

Images from Luckyscent, TravelMuse, and EmmaGem.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting Older is Crazy

((Warning: This is not really about perfume.))

I just saw today on Facebook that there was a memorial event being held for a girl I went to high school with. Clicking the link, I came to find out that she had been married, had three lovely children, and passed away four years ago due to heart complications. I tried googling for an obit, but couldn’t find one. Apparently it was too long ago and such entries are long since archived into the black hole of cyberspace, just like my dad’s. Going through the RSVPs for the memorial event, I saw the names and faces of so many people I had all but forgotten existed. Some I wouldn’t recognize on the street. Others were the same as they were when they had the locker next to mine in the 6th grade.

Where does the time go?

Technology has changed the way we think of the people in our current and former lives so much. Losing people in my mother’s time meant you never knew what happened to them and they existed as no more than the vague and wispy memory invoked by those yearbook photos, forever glowing with youthful beauty and health. Now I see them across this virtual space, with their lives and spouses and children and successes and failures, and it’s what I imagine would happen if, while walking on one of two roads diverging in a yellow wood, one looked over and was startled to see the road not taken and all those traveling along it through a sudden break in the trees. People grow older. People die. They become what they planned. They become what they never expected. Priorities change; old pettiness fades til only sweetness remains.

I told someone yesterday that I sometimes feel like the emotional equivalent of Benjamin Button. Born into a hard, callous, scary world, I took a dim view of people and the relationships and choices that defined them. I never trusted anyone. But as I get older, despite all the terrible things I know and see and cannot look away from in the world today, I actually find myself more hopeful. Less cynical. More willing to trust, to forgive, to believe. The world has its rough-hewn edges, but it can also be magical in its innocence, its willingness to keep trying, to display a little kindness, a little compassion, a little love. I used to hate Lake Wobegon, where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” I found Garrison Keillor’s voice and his small sweet stories about nothing a gratingly calm acceptance of the ideal in a world that was otherwise. Those stories seemed weak in their lack of the darkness of the real. But when I listen to them now I find myself looking back at my own life, and I now think we all are former residents of Lake Wobegon, and that the places and people who live on, sweetly, in our memories and our hearts, are all former residents with us.

So wherever you are on your path, sweet stranger or friend, my prairie home companions, know that I take you with me. As we peer at each other through the old growth trees and underbrush, momentarily pushed aside, though I do not know you and perhaps never did, I wish you well all the same. As we once sang in youthful voices, may the Lord bless you and keep you as you go along your way. And of course, bring you peace.


(Incidentally, I suspect the residents of Wobegon all get their perfumes and colognes, all sex and gender identity appropriate, as gifts wrapped in paper with chicks and ducks and surreys with fringe on top on them, from the local drugstore. And I suspect they all smell wonderful.)

Image from National Geographic.

Tomorrow you’ll be thinking to yourself, “Yeah, where did it all go wrong?”

CB I Hate Perfume M1 Narcissus

The story of Narcissus and Echo is a famous one. Echo, cursed by Hera for detaining Hera while the other nymphs Zeus dallied with ran away, could only reply the words spoken to her. One day she saw Narcissus, and attempted to gain his love. He shunned her. In her sadness, Echo retreated into a cave, where she stayed until nothing was left of her but her voice, cursed forever to reflect what others’ say.

Narcissus got his, though. After spurning woman after woman, eventually one plead to the heavens that Narcissus might fall for someone who ignored him and that he would feel no return of his affection as punishment. Venus cursed him accordingly, and he eventually fell in love with his own reflection. Each time he tried to touch the beautiful creature, its watery reflection retreated. Eventually he wasted away to nothing, but when the water nymphs who loved him came to dispose of his body properly, they found none – only a single flower.

I loved this story of unrequited love and deserved punishment in high school. I even wrote a poem in Latin from the perspective of Echo. It won fourth in the state at the state Latin competition.

Christopher Brosius has attempted to bottle the great spurner turned flower in M1 Narcissus. He describes the scent as being “the scent of narcissus, clean running water over mossy stones, the wind gently blowing through green leaves,’ capturing the love Narcissus only felt for himself until it consumed him. While enjoying the scent, I reflected on Brosius’ reflections on the scent:
The narcissus is not a simple flower. What does it mean?

A legend of a beautiful man destroyed by vanity. Is this true? What lies beneath? Realities dim as the world grows old, convention is laid over truth but the truth remains.

The ancients believed that the eye was the window to the soul. Looking into another’s eye was to know that person truly a dangerous pursuit. The narcissus flower was thought to represent the eye. Where is the link from man to flower to eye?

What then was this beautiful man really searching for gazing into the rippling waters of that clear brook? What really did he find there bending lower, lower, lower still? Gazing into his own eyes until the water engulfed him and he was lost. Vanity is too simple an answer.

What then really destroyed him? What is the secret hidden in this transformation? Man to flower, flower to eye. What do we find when we look into this blazing eye that gazes out at the world each spring? The narcissus is one of the first spring flowers there is no mistaking this significance in myth. Spring is a time of transformation. The time of contemplation is over and the world changes. Something is lost this is inevitable but something greater is gained. We are changed and are the wiser for it.

This is the secret hidden in the heart of the narcissus and this is the true power of spring.
On application, it's a lovely green with just hints of flowers. Then it gets a little muddy, that lovely dirt note Brosius does so well peeking in, and then the greens and white florals begin to balance out with the same sweet cinnamon-y notes you get in To See A Flower. This is a super clean, innocent scent. Quite frankly, I think it might be more appropriately named Echo or even Daphne, given their respective mythos. It’s a nice scent, but I think it might be nicest for a younger girl, maybe a girl who is breaking hearts all over town and simply does not even realize it because, in her teen-aged youth, beauty, and self-absorption, she embodies that classic archetype: The Narcissist.

Hell, if I could reach back to my sixteen-year old self, I'd hand her a bottle.

You can buy M1 Narcissus for $80 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

“If you find a man that’s worth a damn and treats you well.
Then he’s a fool, you’re just as well, hope it gives you hell.”

- “Gives You Hell,” All American Rejects

Try as I might, I cannot seem to locate more reviews of the M1 Narcissus. Too bad for you reviewers out there. It’s worth a try.

Images from CB Hate Perfume, & David Revoy.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Don’t Tell Mama, please Sir...

Pilar and Lucy To Twirl All Girly

I'm always on the hunt to find white florals that I like. It is one of those areas where I am very picky about my perfumes. I am really overdue on a review of one of my favorites, Kai, but that will have to wait until I can unpack it. First up, Pilar and Lucy To Twirl All Girly.

According to Pilar and Lucky, To Twirl All Girly
is a fun, flirty gardenia based scent. Pilar and Lucy II is all about embracing the best of being a girl. Like the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe on the subway grate, you'll want your skirt to accidentally blow up or twirl in the breeze as you spin in happiness. The scent is about optimism and sweetness; good girls finish first.
On application, To Twirl All Girly is light, sweet and coconut-y, but the sweetness starts to burn off a little and I get a hint of strange, skanky note I can’t place. To Twirl All Girly seems strangely hollow, though, like it has top and bottom notes, but is somehow missing the middle. It’s sort of coconut, cantaloupe, and dirt mix on me. If this is a gardenia, then it is the lightest, weakest gardenia I’ve ever sniffed at, but that might be a good thing if you don’t like your white floral scents particularly strong.

I think it’s that little sourness underneath that saves To Twirl All Girly from being boring. The description of the scent, the “good girl,” isn’t something that would interest me. But then, when I think of Marilyn Monroe, I don’t think of an innocent, good girl. Apparently Carmen Electra wears it, not the first person to spring to mind when I think “good girl.” I think of Norma Jean as a vivacious and intelligent woman who seduced a sports icon, a playwright, and a president, not to mention millions of fans, controlled her own career, and sadly died to early either as part of a cover-up or as part of depression and accidental overdose. Either way, not all that optimistic or sweet. Another reviewer said it reminded them of LA, and I think it reminds me more of what L.A. historically and notoriously does to nice, fresh faced, straight of the farm girls after six months. It’s not quite as bad as what happens if she gets off the bus in Vegas, but it’s not all pretty innocence, either.

And that saves To Twirl All Girly for me. It’s a sugary confection coating with something a little dark and surly underneath. Worth a try certainly, for those who like sweet fruity scent with a little bit of complication to it. Also, the bottle is, I’m sorry, just hideous. In an industry that prides itself on style in packaging, either by being overly luxurious or artfully minimalist, this packaging is the equivalent of those hideous country decorations of geese with blue ribbons that predominated kitchens in nicer homes in my neighborhood growing up. Yick. And double yick. If you buy it, try decanting it into something prettier, or at least less…just less.

You can buy To Twirl All Girly in a 30ml bottle for $58 direct fromthe perfumer, Luckyscent, The Perfumed Court, Luscious Cargo, and other online retailers. You can also get the scent in a lotion or candle.

“Mama, doesn't even have an inkling
that I'm working in a nightclub
in a pair of lacey pants.
So please, Sir,
if you run into my Mama
don't reveal my indiscretion.
Just leave well enough alone.

- “Don’t Tell Mama,” from Cabaret

Want more reviews? Try…
~ A review from Pink Manhattan
~ A review from Jenny at Perfume Making

Images from Plar and Lucy, FanPop! and Photobucket. All rights reserved to respective copyright holders.

Friday, October 16, 2009

If Love is a Red Dress, Hang Me In Rags...

Agent Provocateur EDP

I love roses. I think I have more rose scents than just about any other note. I know it’s stereotypical and girly, but I just can’t help it. I just love them, and I can't seem to own enough of them, so I'm always up for trying new ones.

Christian Provenzano’s Agent Provocateur is an “exotic floral chypre.” The notes are saffron, coriander, rose, jasmine, magnolia, ylang ylang, gardenia, vetiver, amber and musk. It is the namesake of a UK-based lingerie company.

On application, Agent Provocateur falls strongly into the dirty rose camp. The herb and musk notes are present from the moment it’s applied, giving it that little sour edge that ensures it definitely does not smell “old lady” like, but instead feels young and a little trashy, kind of like the lingerie Agent Provocateur sells. That said, I tend to enjoy the trashy roses, so I put it up next to my favorite trashy rose Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance. In a head-to-head comparison, Lady Vengeance wins out for me. It smells more natural and less plastic-y than Agent Provocateur.

I think the biggest different is that, where Lady Vengeance has an undertone of fresh herbs and green grass, Agent Provocateur is leather and musk underneath. Lady Vengeance coincidentally seems more like a Spring-y or Summer rose, where as Agent Provocateur has a cold-weather darkness to it. Lady Vengeance seems a brighter more innocent rose, like a girl in her first negligee; Agent Provocateur seems more like what a woman confident and experienced in the bedroom might sport. Where as Lady Vengeance might be the new hip 20-something diner club (for you Portland peeps, read: rose The Doug Fir Lounge), Agent Provocateur is that ratty hole-in-the-wall, cigarette smoke seeped lounge you love despite itself (again, for my Portland peeps, think Dot’s Cafe). And that will work for a lot of people. Me? I’m sticking with my Lady Vengeance, but there’s certainly a place in the world of perfume for Agent Provocateur, and I have no doubt that one could easily prefer it over the other.

You can buy Agent Provocateur direct from the UK company, as well as several department stores and even Amazon.

"There goes the fairy tale.
Lord, ain't it a shame?
In all this comfort,
I can't take the strain.

If we played even,
I'd be your queen.
But someone was cheatin',
and it wasn't me."

- "If Love is a Red Dress," Maria McKee

Want more reviews? Try…
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Scentzilla!

Images from Agent Provocateur and Basia McAuley.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed.

CB I Hate Perfume Fire From Heaven

Here's one of the things I won't be missing about late summer and early fall in Southern California: the smell of burnination in the air. I know that SoCal locals are totally blasé about the whole "world's on fire" thing, but for me, it totally freaks me out. When coworkers calmly chat over lunch about fire jumping freeways or encircling entire cities so no one can get in or out, I find that terrifying. Talking to a friend who grew up not far from here, she told me that southern Californians regard fire season with a kind of Stockholm Syndrome. They can't change it. They have to live with it, so they learn to embrace it. I, on the other hand, find the idea that your nasal passages can be seared by the dry air and smell of soot in the air, which hangs over the horizon like a yellow haze, difficult to normalize.

That said, I enjoy smokey scents in general, when they aren't actually reminiscent of a dangerous elemental thing trying to consume the world around me. In honor of beautiful smokey scents, the Brosius love continues! Fire From Heaven is described as follows:
Smoke represents perhaps the most important aspect of perfume – its beginning. Even its modern name is derived from an antique term that means "to smoke through."

Fire From Heaven is blended from classic ancient incenses: Frankincense, Myrrh, Opopanax, Cedar, Sandalwood, Styrax & Labdanum. But the perfume's scent is subtle. Fire From Heaven is the memory of smoke...
Fire from Heaven has an acrid edge to it on initial application, kind of like green boughs burning in a newly built camp fire. It's medicinal and almost a little citrus-y. If it is possible for a scent to be gritty, this is a bit gritty too. It's rough, like flame paper. After a few minutes, though, the roughness backs off and it has a smell that reminds me more of raw green peat incense burning, like the smell I'd imagine one would find in an Amer-Indian desert ritual. It doesn't smell like smoke from a pipe or smoke from a chimney or even smoke from a bonfire; its smells rarer than that, spiritual. A kind of holy fire. Twenty minutes in it get a little sweeter, but never loses that strange acrid edge.

Fire From Heaven is a very unique scent and would work very well on a man or woman. It feels like it it would require unique circumstances. As unique as it is, I can't imagine a circumstance I'd have to commonly wear it. It feels right for being outdoors -- camping overnight and starring at the stars, spending the night on the coast in a yurt next to the immeasurable sea, going to a pagan ritual in the desert, or even, maybe to Midnight Mass for Christmas. It just smells too special, too rare, for every day wear. It seems like the right scent for contemplating the divine, the greater purpose, the grand design, in any form, whether that be in the good works of others or math or physics or astronomy or art or music or philosophy...or something even more ephemeral.

Fire from Heaven may not be something you'd wear with frequency, but I think it's uniqueness is like great art; even if you wouldn't hang it in your living room, it is certainly worth experiencing.

You can buy Fire from Heaven for $85 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

"...When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.
Then sings my soul,
My savior, god, to thee,
'How great thou art!
How great thou art.' "

- "How Great Thou Art," traditional hymn

Want more reviews? Try…
~ A review from I Smell, Therefore I Am
~ A brief review from Perfume Posse

Images from CB I Hate Perfume, The Courier Post, and Flickr.

Happy Anniversary to Us.

in spite of everything

in spite of everything
which breathes and moves,since Doom
(with white longest hands
neatening each crease)
will smooth entirely our minds

-before leaving my room
i turn,and(stooping
through the morning)kiss
this pillow,dear
where our heads lived and were.

-- ee cummings

Four years ago today I put on a white strapless dress with blood red trim and, escorted by my brother, in front of many of my friends and family, promised to spend my life with David, my husband.

Four years later, I love him more than ever and I have no regrets.

That day, I wore Origins Ginger with a Twist, because he loves ginger and I like citrus, so it smelled like a good match.

Today, I’ll wear S-Perfumes 100% Love and comfort myself with knowing that, in one week, I’ll be headed back home to him.

Happy Anniversary, David.

A complimentary pair created at the same place
we got married, McMenamins Edgefield

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Recommended Reading Round-Up

A few links worth checking out...

~ Ayala from SmellyBlog recommends L'Artisan Tea for Two for the fall. I wholeheartedly agree.
~ Angela from Now Smell This! discusses her process for choose a scent.
~ I can't remember the last time I wanted to completely squander $900 but this would do it. So pretty!
~ Is Browsing a Dying Art? - a piece reflecting on the dying art of book browsing and how literature isn't as accessible as it used to be.
~ If you are not reading style rookie, a self-described "tiny 13 year old dork that sits inside all day wearing awkward jackets and pretty hats," you are totally missing out.
~ Neil Patrick Harris's latest tour de force, a turn as a musical Batman villain!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Another Day in Portland!

Okay, so apparently it's a weird video posting day for me. A friend linked this video, though, that I had to share. It features music played by a current Lewis & Clark student and apparently just another weird day of flash mob dancing in the rain in Pioneer Square.

Just another day in Portland - part 10082009
from brewcaster on Vimeo.

It is videos like this that would have made me move to Portland if I did not live there already. I cannot wait to go home! Eight days until drive out.

In the mean time, shine on you crazy diamond of a city. Shine on.

Happy Thanksgiving, eh!

Gobble, gobble!

Just wanted to drop a quick line to say Happy Thanksgiving to any Canadian readers I have lurking out there. I also want to give a shout out to those who have the day off celebrating a guy who was trying to find India and who not only failed to find it, but didn’t even realize it and named the native people Indians. I guess it’s a double day of celebrating colonialism, but hey, at least there’s turkey.

On a slightly more upbeat note, here's a favorite clip related to Thanksgiving from The West Wing, wherein President Bartlett reflects on the search for religious freedom the pilgrims sought in the 'new' world.

Image courtesy of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.

You taste so bitter and so sweet...

CB I Hate Perfume Under the Arbor

Here’s a dirty secret that left me hamstrung all throughout law school: I don’t know jack about wine.

I had to go to all these schmancy networking events to try to make nice with attorneys to get jobs. Most of these meet and greets were for medium to large size firms, offering exactly the kind of work I did not want. But the expectation was that you do these things to be successful, so I put my best effort into it. Truthfully, though, it’s hard to break in from the wrong side of the economic line. I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve never skied a black diamond in Aspen or Jackson Hole and my family does not have a vacation home in the Hamptons or a time-share in Hawaii. I don’t golf. I’m not well-traveled outside the US. I don’t have a family of attorneys who work at firms you might have heard of. They didn’t go to college with your mom or sister or sibling.

And I really, really don’t know anything about wine. But I do know a little bit about perfume.

Heading back to Portland means I get to contemplate something I love but thought was lost to me for a while – FALL! I love fall, love everything about fall. And one thing that is associated with Fall is Fall Crush. And while I do not know about wine, I do know that making a good wine scented perfume has got to be at least as hard as making a good wine.

As I am apparently working my way through the entire CB line, I thought I’d give Under the Arbor a try. Brosius describes Under the Arbor as follows:
Grape Leaf is a scent that reminds me of some of the most beautiful places I have visited in California, Italy and France. But mostly it reminds me of the old grape arbor that grew in the yard of the house were I lived as a child. I so loved to sit under it on a summer day quietly reading a favorite book curling my toes in the cool moss...

This is the scent of Crushed Grape Leaves, Weathered Wood, Green Moss and Cool Earth.
Under the Arbor is a pretty lovely scent. I’ve never been to a California vineyard, but I’ve been to some in the Snohomish and Willamette Valleys, and if a vineyard is a vineyard is a vineyard, then this is one hell of a bottled scent. Like running through rows of vines, breathing in the dirt and moss clinging to grapes ripening in the warm sun. It’s lovely, it’s warm, it’s a fall delight!

On application the dirt and moss notes are strong, but the crushed grape leaves are there in strength by the fifteen minute mark. Under the Arbor has low sillage, could work well for a woman in a v-neck, fitted cashmere sweater and comfortable, fitted fashionable jeans with minimal jewelry, or for a man in similarly nice jeans, and button down with open collar and half rolled sleeves. Think casual pick-your-own fruit wear for the upwardly mobile creative class. It’s both casual and classy, a nice combination.

You can buy Under the Arbor for $60 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

"You are in my blood like holy wine.
You taste so bitter and so sweet.
Oh, I could drink a case of you, darling,
and I would still be on my feet."
I would still be on my feet.

- “A Case of You,” Joni Mitchell

Want more reviews? Try…
~ A review from Perfume-Smellin’ Things
~ A review from Kevin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Sniffapollooza Magazine (halfway down page)

Images from The Daily Green, CB I Hate Perfume, and American Feast.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Happy National Coming Out Day!

Today, as people march in Washington D.C. and all over the country in an effort to raise awareness of the inequality same sex couples face in the U.S. today. From marriage to adoption to health care to end-of-life decision making to taxes, marriage for the few is not equality. As a bisexual woman I recognize the benefits I reap because I happen to have married a man. At the same time, I also know that was not necessarily what was going to happen, and I think about that other path I could have taken, one where I would be a less than equal citizen.

As a lawyer, I recognize the flexibility and ingenuity created in a federal system that accommodates fifty state living laboratories to experiment with different legal solutions to legal problems. But at the end of the day, we are one country, and that requires one solution to the problem of marriage equality. The Commerce Clause demands that we recognize the legal binding contracts entered into from one state jurisdiction to another. Marriage should be no different.

In the spirit of the day, please check out the video below. Ostensibly about greeting cards, which I also collect, there is a lovely and emotional moment at the end of the video that talks about the embrace of love and faith simultaneously. May we all move toward such a model.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

‘Cause I just can't wait 'til you write me you’re coming around...

CB I Hate Perfume Lavender Tea

My fetish for Christopher Brosius creations is, no pun intended, well documented. I feel about ultra-realism in perfume the way some people love neo-classical painting or high fashion or classical music. Well-made perfume is incredibly challenging to create, and to make something that lasts decades or even centuries is truly art distilled into lovely bottles for our enjoyment, so I enjoy Jicky and Mitsouko and a plethora of Chanels because I recognize their artistic quality. That said, the challenge of actually trying to recreate scents that are common to our every day experiences in a way that reads as high quality perfume and not syrupy sweet scents better suited to Yankee Candle creations is something I find profoundly awesome. Because the real is what we frequently end up tying our memories to, the ability of the ultra-real to recall those memories is especially strong.

Brosius describes Lavender Tea as follows:
This is one of the scents I originally designed for my Wardrobe collection. I made the swift discovery that it is wonderful to wear. So I've redone it in a richer concentration especially for you to wear yourself. Lavender Tea is a rich blend of French Lavender, Black Indian Tea, a few warm woods and a subtle touch of Indonesian Patchouli (just a hint).
Now I’m not a huge tea drinker. It’s taken me years to get around to enjoying even a few select flavors. But in scent? I love tea! Here, the combination of lavender and tea is so excellently put together. I’m sure it would make a great wardrobe scent and it would make an excellent room oil scent.

Also, lavender is known for being helpful with stress reduction, and can be used in a number of comforting ways -- tea, food, scent. I can certainly imagine spraying it on my pillows on stressful nights to help me relax and sleep. I think it would make a refreshing scent for summer because it’s got a nice herb-y lightness, but the wood and patchouli notes warm it up enough that it also will work well for cooler weather.

Lavender Tea is very unisex in presentation; since there isn’t a lot of sweetness and lavender isn’t very traditionally floral, you could easily get away with this if you were a man. For women, it’s not a very formal scent. I see this less as a first date, nerves and a little black dress scent and more of a cuddle close/stolen moments with your sweetheart in a hoodie and knit cap under the bleachers at the homecoming football game. It feels like it would work for a woman in high school and their early twenties, so if you’re looking for a nice gift for a younger woman, this would be a nice and unique option. That said, I think it will work well for me, and I am decidedly not in that age group. On the whole I find it refreshing and hopeful, a sort of bottled upbeatness that seems to welcome tomorrow.

You can buy Lavender Tea for $60 in either 15ml perfume absolute or 100ml water perfume direct from the perfumer. You can also get samples from the CB website or from The Perfumed Court.

“I used to think maybe you loved me.
Now I know that it’s true,
And I don't want to spend all my life just a-waiting for you.
Now I don't want you back for the weekend, not back for a day.
Baby ,I just want you back and I want you to stay…
I’m walking in sunshine, woah-oh!
And don’t it feel good!”

- “Walking on Sunshine,” Katrina & the Waves

Want more reviews? Try…
~ A review from I Smell Therefore I Am

Images from CB I Hate Perfume and Stress Less in Vegas.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm tired of looking round rooms wondering what I gotta do or who I'm supposed to be

Serge Lutens Bois de Violette

My posting my be a little erratic for the next few weeks. Given some unforeseen developments, I am moving back to Portland in two weeks. This means a lot of driving, packing, etc. I will try to keep up with posting, but I may miss a few days and I hope you will be patient with me.

Continuing with my exploration of violets, today it's Serge Lutens Bois de Violette. According to SL,
A perfume dominated by violet leaves and flowers, blending with cedar wood and its cool spices, peppery notes of Indonesian cloves, cardamom, honey, orange blossoms and musk… This astonishing, lively perfume, re-made with a hint of violet on a cedar base.
Luca Turin gives it five stars in The Guide and classifies it as a "woody oriental." To me, Bois de Violette a very sweet, heady, and assertive violet. It is a very strong scent with a whooping amount of sillage, so this is a violet that will get you noticed. The spicy oriental side of it is strong, and the wood and honey make it very sweet, but I still get a fair amount of violet out of this one. I find it simultaneous syrupy and chewy.

Again, not your traditional mainstream solifloral. Bois de Violette is clearly not am attempt to bottle violet itself. It's a bold scent and one that reads as fairly feminine to me. Very nice if you like orientals or woody scents more than florals, Bois de Violette might allow flower haters to dip their tow into the floral pool without smelling particularly flowery. If you're a violet lover, this is a violet that will not be ignored, so if you want a bold and sassy violet that makes people sit up and take notice, Bois de Violette is a good choice.

You can buy Bios de Violette in a 50 ml bottle for $200 from LuckyScent, Beautyhabit, and a number of department stores, or you can try a sample of it thanks to The Perfumed Court.

"I don't wanna be anything other than what I been trying to be lately...
I don't have to be anything other than a birth of two souls in one.
Part of where I'm going is knowing where I'm coming from."

- "I Don't Wanna Be," Gavin Degraw

Want more? Try...
~ A review from Bois de Jasmin
~ A review from Perfume & Tea Make Me Happy

Monday, October 5, 2009

Punk rock girl! Give me a chance. Punk rock girl, let's go slamdance...

CB I Hate Perfume Violet Empire

Continuing to talk about violets this week. I mentioned last week in my review of L'Artian Verte Violette that violets are a tough sell for me. Consequently I have tried a lot of violets out of sheer frustration.

One of the violets I found I liked, consequently, was one that wasn't very violet-y at all. CB I Hate Perfume Violet Empire is described as follows:
Blended from CB Violet Empress, Elemi, Violet Leaf Absolute, Rosewood, Mahogany, and Russian Leather. Violet EMPIRE is an unusual yet very elegant perfume. The violet scent perpetually peeps out from behind a shining green veil.
According to Christopher Brosius, "[r]eal Violet Absolute no longer exists in the modern world or if it does, only in such tiny & astronomically expensive amounts which I have not yet been able to obtain. So I had to recreate it." This violet, on me, isn't all that violet in the traditional perfume sense. On application, I get a lot of mint and rosewood mixed witht he violet, with a little bit of leather popping through. It has low sillage and feels so fresh and new.

If you don't like soliflorals or super floral scents, or dislike anything that might seems classically perfum-y, this lovely green-y herb take on the violet is for you. Yu won't get a lot of violet up front, but if you give it 25 minutes or so, the violet comes through stronger, but still nicely balanced. Like most of the CB line, this is very well-made. If Verte Violette is the classical music equivalent of a violet, this is your hip, independent indie rock take on it. It is Sophia Coppola doing Marie Antoniette. It is a punk rock scent that could work for any woman and, thanks to the light leather bits, would also be nice on any confident and sophisticated man. It has great lasting power and would work in any weather. I highly recommend this one.

You can buy Violet Empire direct from the perfumer or from assorted independent perfume locales.

"Punk rock girl!
You look so wild.
Punk rock girl!
Let's have a child.
We'll name her Minnie Pearl.
Just you and me,
punk rock girl."
- "Punk Rock Girl," Dead Milkmen

Want more? Try...
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Scents & Sensibility
~ A mention in this violets review from Perfume-Smellin' Things

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New family member!

Meet our newest family member.

She is so tiny! No longer than my remote....

....or taller than a water bottle.

And so sleepy!

Now taking name suggestions.

Incredibly close.

L'Artisan Timbuktu

Here is what L'Artisan says about Timbuktu,
Timbuktu is the second creation in L’Artisan Parfumeur’s collection, “Fragrance captured by a perfumer on his travels”, initiated in 2003 with “Bois Farine” (Flour Wood). Timbuktu is a wild, yet sophisticated fragrance that is ultra sensual on women and men skin. This perfume was inspired by the unique blend of flowers, oinments, spices and woods that is used by women in the sensual African perfumery tradition.
The notes are "green mango, pink pepper berries, cardamom, karo karounde flower, smokey incense of papyrus wood, patchouli, myrrh, vetiver."

. . . . . . . . .

And this is where I give you a review of L'Artisan Timbuktu. But I cannot review this one. Not in an objective, "the perfumista recommends" kind of way.

My grandfather, John Charles Wiener, Jr., aka Johnnie, had a massive brainstem stroke when I was five years old. I have lots of memories of him after the stroke, but I also have a few from before. A very, very precious few.

I remember watching him drive from the center of the backseat of an old blue station wagon they had. I remember the hat he was wearing, the colors and shapes, and the blue and white patterned polyester shirt. I remember being taken to his office downtown, and that he kept lemon drops in a drawer there and would give them to me “when I was good,” which apparently was always.

I remember his laugh, the smell of his pipe, and I remember that he shaved with a bladed manual razor after lathering up his face with a creamy foaming soap applied with a brush. When I think on it now, I realize that he must have kept shaving himself after, but I remember that he had to use an electric razor because he lost the use of his dominant side after the stroke. But I still remember the smell.

Telling you this story is my way of telling you that I loved someone once, very much, who was gone long before he died. And to tell you that there is not a single day of my life that I don’t miss the man I’ve constructed from a very few small and hazy memories.

And to tell you that when I smelled L’Artisan Timbuktu for the first time tonight, I just started crying. I cried and I cried and I cried. It smelled at first like the Old Spice he wore and then it smelled like the foaming soap he shaved with. It was spicy and then soapy and strong and clean. It was beautiful and strong and smelled just like one of the few people in the world I ever felt safe with, and that is saying a lot for me. I sat here for about an hour and I just couldn’t stop crying because he seemed as real and alive and present in that smell as he did in the very vivid dream, some would say visitation, I had from him a year after he died. I suspect that if I had ever met a man who actually wore Timbuktu before I met and fell in love with my husband, I would have trusted and adored him instantly.

So I can’t tell you if this is a good perfume or not. I can’t tell you what other perfumes it reminds me of, or if it is better than another perfume. To me, nothing is similar to this, except for my Papa, and he’s been gone now for ten years. Ten years since he died, twenty-six since a lifetime of fatty food and hard living caught up with him at a football game when a blood vessel burst and robbed him of his independence. But there is no amount of time that can pass which will make me stop loving him, or remembering him, or hoping he is proud of me for being the person I couldn’t manage to be while he was still alive to see it.

I love Timbuktu because when I smell it, for a brief moment my memories seem so much stronger, just like the man while he lived. And I love him, so I have to love it.

And that’s all I can say about that.

I'd show you a picture of him before the stroke. But I don't have one. So no pictures this time.

Because I cannot really give you a proper review, I have to recommend...
~ A review from Robin at Now Smell This!
~ A review from Nathan Branch

Timbuktu is available from Luckyscent and Beautyhabit as well as other places.