Friday, January 28, 2011

Now you got me running, running, running for cover...

Bridgework on the 101
Monday, 1/24/11, through Friday, 1/28/11

Hives, people.  I am covered in hives.  And all I did was look up the date for the July 2011 bar exam, which I need to sit.  Within 24 hours, covered in bumps!  And they keep spreading.  No good.  No.Good.At.All.

Busy is as busy does, and does, and does, and does.  And that's me, my lovelies. Busy as a bee. Bee-like. But never to busy for sniffing, or for you.  Well, not most of the time anyway. FN1.  I want to tell you about my trip, but cannot seem to find the time.  Perhaps this weekend.

Monday: L'Artisan Passage d'Enfer - Notes: white lily, frankincense, aloe, white musk

L'Artisan thinks this is "cool, dry and haunting." It is supposed to conjure images of "of chilled cathedral walls, echoes of rituals and incantations." I get the cool and dry, and I guess if you associate white musk incense burning with church, which I don't, you can get cathedral. But haunting? This ain't my kind of ghost. Not unless I'm being haunted by a soapy spicy awesomeness. I picture girls in dresses with square sailor collars and cute, clean cut boys in tennis whites flirting together while little white sailboats float in the distance. It is the scent equivalent of a Whiffenpoof song, which is not haunting to me. FN2  Maybe not sexy or smouldering, but definitely adorable.

When I think about the man your man could smell like, he doesn't smell like Old Spice. He smells like this. Which isn't to say a woman can't smell like this. Certainly, I'd love to. Seriously wonderful. 4 of 5 nods.

Tuesday: Guerlain Shalimar - Okay, this is kind of cheating. I love Shalimar. I already knew I love Shalimar. I got a sample a while back, tried a little, and it was like being hit with the perfume hammer of love. And everyone knows Shalimar, whether they realize it or not. And everyone either loves or hates it. I don't think I know anyone in real life who has "meh" feelings about Shalimar.

I know it was created in 1921 as a "soft amber" and I get the amber sweetness, but to me it reads like a vanilla. I love vanillas. While it's true that I care for some far more than others (which almost gaurantees they will be discontinued), I pretty universally like them all. So when one comes along that I fall in particular love with, I'm always pleasantly surprised. It happened with Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille. It happened with L'Artisan Vanilia. So you can imagine how reluctant I am to tell you how much I love Shalimar. It would be my luck that after several decades, they would either reformulate it or discontinue it to spite me the second I did so. What do I love about Shalimar? So many things that it deserves a full review -- spicy sweet loveliness. Full review to come, but let me say now: 5 of 5 nods.

Wednesday: Diptyque Vetyverio - Notes: mandarin, grapefruit, lemon, bergamot, ylang ylang, Turkish rose, geranium, vetiver, carrot seeds, nutmeg, apricot, clove, cedar and musk

On me the opening is a lot of cedar, musk and lemon. Its got a dry, cleanness to it, like the smell of a new suede couch in a bare room, sitting on top of a newly polished wood floor. It feels angular and tall, like 1960s mod fashion. It is not very earthy on me, so if you don't like dirty vetivers, you might really like this. I found this one just ho-hum. 2 of 5 nods.

Thursday: L'Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse - Notes: tuberose, cardamom, pepper, clove, citrus, tuberose, orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose, mango, angelica, gorse, sandalwood, palisander, musks, benzoin and styrax. FN3. having a hard time getting this one into words. Umm, my immediate thought? Pencil shavings and menthol smokes. Weird, right? It's not sweet at all. (Okay maybe a tiny bit, but only if you really look for it.) Instead it is fresh and dried-herbs-and-peppers herbal, but with a sourness I can't put my finger on. I agree with everyone who says it doesn't really smell like a tuberose at all, because I cannot imagine this as even a distant cousin of my beloved Robert Piguet Fracas. I agree with the people who also said "metallic" when they sniffed at it.  It gets more floral over time, but retains some weird wood shavings and metallic structure that reminds me of that iron bridge work in the photo above.  It can beautiful, but you have to see it a certain way.  Otherwise it's just roadwork.

Patty said it was a "disturbing comfort" and I'm with her on that. Marla at Perfume-Smellin' Things compared it to Bjork's "All is Full of Love" video, but for me, I think I'd have to go with another song comparison. If Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb" was a scent, this is probably what it would smell like. It's unique and well-made, but like Robin, I don't know if I like it.

And I want to like it. For one thing, it's so rare you smell anything truly different from everything else that you have to appreciate the artistry that went into it; when it happens to be good as well as unique, even better. But I just can't decide. It seems like I'm in pretty good company, though; I Smell Therefore I Am and Bois de Jasmin couldn't make up their minds either.  3 of 5 nods, with the option of being set aside for later revision.

Friday: L'Artisan Tea for Two Taking one of my passes for the year due to tiredness. I got a 15ml sprayer of this as a gift with purchase when I bought my bottle of Iris Pallida. Still have more tan 85 ML of Iris Pallida. My 15ml of Tea for Two? Almost gone! Guess that's the sign I should spring for a full bottle, eh? See previous full review here. 5 of 5 nods.

I dedicate the song reference in this post to my beloved Shalimar, winner of the week and my heart. A bottle of you will be mine. Oh, yes! You will be mine.

Also, don't forget to comment to enter my January drawing!

"Have mercy, baby, on a poor girl like me.
You know I'm fallin', fallin', fallin' at your feet.
I'm tingling right from my head to my toes.
So help me, help me, help me make the feeling grow.

~ "Say You Love Me," Fleetwood Mac

FN1.  I don't want to lie to you.  I am busy, sometimes too busy, to be here.  But I still love you.
FN2. Though I suppose a bunch of rich white dudes can be scary, especially if they're trying to get between me and my reproductive rights, I'd certainly never find them haunting.
FN3. I was on a weird L'Artisan kick this week, apparently.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

January Mix and Sample!

Oh the musical places we'll go!
Well readers, as we come to the end of week 4 of our Scent Challenge 2011, it's time for the first of our twelve draws. As of today I'm 19 scents into my goal of 260, and I feel good so far. I am 8% of my challenge complete. (Who knew perfume could involve so much math?)

So, in honor of this tiny milestone (more of a pit stop, really), one of you lucky readers is going to receive a mix CD and a couple samples. Don't ask me what samples yet -- I dunno.

I won't give up the track list of CD, but I can tell you that the name is "What's a Girl To Do?" and is likely to feature artists such as: The Bird & The Bee, The Heathers, A Fine Frenzy, OK Go, Bat for Lashes, and many more. Never heard of any of them?  That's okay!  I live in Portland, where we specialize in obscure things you've never heard of.  Also, we put birds on things and call it art!  Don't believe me? There's even a video about it.

All interested parties welcome regardless of place of residence.  Live on the moon?  We will still try to reach you!

Post before 12:01 AM Pacific Standard Time on 02/01/2011 to enter, and tell me what artists you are listening to right now. 

This inquiring mind always wants to know!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Recommended Reading

This lovely post by Donna at Perfume-Smellin' Things, Perfume and Memory: Holding Back the Darkness was so good I wanted to pop on before work and recommend it to all of you.

I suspect the February mix will revolve around this idea (January's is already complete), so I'd love to hear thoughts about which scents most say "love, longing, loss, and hope" to all of you.

Monday, January 24, 2011

When I'm lost you'll be my guide.

Monday, 1/17/11, through Friday, 1/21/11

Road trip 2011
Sorry for posting a day late this week.  The road trip threw me off.  I drove 1000+ miles across four days, but oh! The sights that were seen! More on that later.  To the perfume!

Monday: Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds - Notes: Tunisian neroli, pink pepper, Moroccan orange flower, incense, Blond woods, musks, vetiver from Haiti The open is, as promised, lightly orange citrus with a peppery edge. Then it gets dry and stay subtly sweet. I really don't know what to think of this. It's not overly floral (look at those notes) but about fifteen minutes it's got a lightly clean floral thing going on. I'm not getting any musk or incense or vetiver, unless their sole purpose is to give this a dried, as opposed to live, flowers feeling. It's nice, but just that.: nice. 2.5 of 5.

Tuesday: Calypso Mimosa EdP - Well, hello Palmolive. Seriously, I put it on and immediately thought, "Wow, I smell like Palmolive." I had a friend sniff me, and she confirmed, yes I do indeed smell like a walking dish of famous green soap. This is one of those times that I'd usually go wash it off, but I made a commitment to you, my darlings, and this is the first test. So here I sit, Soap Girl, able to remove water spots from your precious crystal glasses you stupidly stuck in the dishwasher in seconds! FN1. FN2. Let's see it gets better in the next couple hours...

31 minutes later: Lots of Palmolive in water! Seriously considering setting my hand on fire to avoid another three hours of this. It's so strong!

2 hours, 10 minutes later: Yep, still very strong Palmolive. No other notes, no subtly, and very little fading. No longer notice the scent unless my hand comes near my face to reinforce its awfulness. Trying to treat said hand like a vestigial limb and ignore it.

4 hours, 17 minutes: OH DEAR SWEET JESUS, I MADE IT! And let me tell you, friends, it STILL smells exactly like Palmolive. Exactly. Okay, maybe it has just a tiny sweet undertone, but the overwhelming effect is still Palmolive, and also still about 50% of the initial strength.

The worst part? I just dabbed a little on my hand this morning. I cannot imagine full spraying this on anyone. Or anything for that matter. For any reason. Okay, maybe on a zombie, but I can't decide if that would be to make said zombie's rotting corpse smell better or try to frighten it away.

Excuse me, I have to go wash my hands right now. ZERO of 5. FN3.

Wednesday: Annick Goutal Ninfeo MioNotes: bergamot, citron, petitgrain, bitter orange, galbanum, lentisque, lavender, fig leaf and lemon tree wood. You know the part of the orange peel that isn't orange, it's white? The rind part? Someone made it a perfume! No, not really, but that was my first response to this scent.It's actually a really lovely, complex scent, but you must love the citrus, dear reader, to love this one. I smell bitter orange rind, lemon juice, and pepper, and oh wait for it -- five minutes the dreaded Play-Doh note. Man, it's been a long time since I hit a perfume that had that Play-Doh thing! A mild Play-Doh scent, comparatively speaking; like more an impression of Play-Doh, a play on Play-Doh, if you will. We will see if that drops out in the next twenty minutes or so. I really hope it does.

20 minutes later: Looking at reviews, a lot of people get figs out of this, and I guess I can see some fig in there, but it is working so hard against the citrus and lavender for me.

1 hour later: I guess I can see figs. An hour in, it's much more interesting, but the conflict keeps produce a background that is decidedly Play-Doh like on me.

2-4 hours: Okay, I see the figs, and they are nice.  I really do like the dominating fig part and the bitter citrus at the openning was interesting; I wish they'd left the lavender out completely because it feels like it is in a rolling on the ground tussel with the figs, which I think I would have liked better alone. 3 of 5.

Thursday: Tauer Perfumes Orange Star - I like this. It's sticky, sweet, and hot -- not warm, mind you, but hot -- and delicious! It's like someone took an orange, starred it with cloves, covered it in honey, and rolled it in dry herbal spices before setting it to simmer in a mixture of wine and vodka to scent a house for the holidays. It's strikes me as festive, but in a Christmas-in-Miami sort of way. And also it reminds of the taste of me of red hots! It's like red Fourth of July sparklers for your nose.

On me, there's very little development throughout, so I admit it's more or less a one note song, but what a note! It is nice now, but again, this is one that is probably better in warm weather.  I will definitely set it aside for a summer revisit. 4 of 5.

Friday: Pacifica Tahitian Gardenia solid perfume - You know those free vacations they advertise on late night television, the kind that is really a trick to get you stranded somewhere and try to sell you a condo? If those ads were scented, this is what they would smell like. Gardenia and coconut and artificial sunlight, the sort of scent appropriate to be piped into a casino on a tropical cruise ship for soothing the savage gambler and separating him from his money.

Which makes it sound like I don't like it, but I do. But if Annick Goutal Songes is long satin dresses with elbow gloves and symphony by the water, and CB I Hate Perfume At the Beach 1966 is driving in a Cadillac convertible along the coast with "Palisades Park" playing on the radio, then this is the elevator Muzak version of "Girl from Ipanema," leis made of silk flowers and plastic piping, "Eat at Joe's" t-shirts, and tiki torches with glowing light bulbs. It is the summer beach scent equivalent of a college co-ed "WOO" girl in a bikini and hot-pink cowgirl hat. FN4.

It has its place, which is frivolous and fun and not to be taken seriously...and there's a time for a scent like that, too. 2.5 of 5.

Winner of the weekTauer Perfumes Orange Star by a landslide.

"Come on, shine your heavenly body tonight
'cause I know you're gonna make everything all right.
You may be my lucky star,
but I'm the luckiest by far..."

~ "Lucky Star," Madonna
FN1. Why did you put them in there in the first place? You don't dishwash crystal! That's madness, I tell you! Madness!
FN2. Stupidest super power ever. They would kick me out of Xanth.
FN3. For those who think this was a really harsh review, I'd like to mention that this is only the second ZERO I have given EVER, so if you love this scent I am very sorry but it is TOTALLY DESERVED.
FN4. "Woo Girl" best explained by the following video:

Sunday, January 16, 2011

And I'm not a failure, I swear.

Monday, 1/10/11, through Friday, 1/14/11

Good news, my pretties! Your humble blogstress has been invited to guest blog at the renown and laudable Now Smell This! in February. More details as they develop, but let me just say that I am excited and humbled by the opportunity. I will try to do my bloggy best and try not embarrass us all.

This week was interminable, and I was out a day and a half sick. But neither lack of snow day nor 100+ degree fever would keep my sniffer down. I'm feeling better now, which is good because I have a fabulous Washington roadtrip coming up at the end of the week in honor of my good friend Lillie's December graduation from our alma mater, Lewis & Clark College. Like me, Lillie aspires to graduate work of the double alumna variety. We will keep our fingers crossed for her admissions prospects. Expect roadtrip perfumey thoughts and pictures next week.

Now! Let's get to the reason you are all here.

Monday: Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Depraved perfume oil - Light, earthy and minty, like moss rather than dirt or tea or even cooking herbs. It reminds me of the smell of an Oregon forest in summer after a warm rain. Nice in winter, but would be even nicer in summer, where the warm weather would make the scent even better, warming it against the skin. Someone described it as "old dust attic" which I can also see. On dry down it gets peachy in the way Guerlain Mitsouko is sweet and peachy. In fact, for people who really like this, I have a suggestion: Try Mitsouko! 3.5 of 5.

Tuesday: Chanel CoCo - Made in 1984, Coco smells sweet, sophisticated, and decidedly 1980s. I can tell this one was a big seller back then because it reeks of my childhood, like I have a hazy memories of women in shimmery '80s dresses hugging little girl me and smelling just like this. It's spicy and sultry and feels like a very glamorous night on the town in Houston during the 80s oil boom. Think Dallas. And hey, I hear they're rebooting Dallas, with Larry Hagman on board and everything. So maybe it's time for a Co-Co-comeback.

You see what I did there?  4 of 5.

Wednesday: Etat Libre d'Orange Delicious Closet Queen - Holy gift to my nose! This is a lovely scent so many awesome notes (Violet leaf, citrus, geranium, iris butter, cedar, patchouli, vetiver, strawberry, rose absolute, sandalwood, leather, tonka bean, benzoin, opoponax), and I feel like I'm getting the best of all of them. The open smells typically pretty stereotypically masculine, but it sweetens up considerably, so it walks this line between being almost, but not quite, too sweet to be unisex. 4.5 of 5.

Thursday: Nez A Nez L'Hetre Reve - This spicy sweet scent is great for the first thiry seconds but quickly becomes an powdery, ambery overload, blaring like someone laying on their horn through an intersection. It's got that pinchy edge to it that I can only describe as the way I imagine experiencing licking something sweet that is completely coated with rock salt. t took an hour to melt down to something wearable, like someone was cooking a lump of sugar in a spoon over a candle. It was nice then, but waaaay too much work to get there. Seriously, some six hours later it was still there, being all ambery. Balmain Ambre Gris was similar in this way, and a lot less expensive, so if you like this sort of thing, check that out too. 2 of 5.

Friday: Jo Malone Sweet Lime and Cedar - The open is very limey, then rolls into a sweet woodsy note. I feel like the two are fighting for prominence rather than blending together, which is too bad. Maybe if the lime had been sweeter and less tart it would have blended better. The lime ends up winning out for a while with the wood as the undernote. I think I'd like the opening better if the structure was reversed. By the middle it balances out between the citrus and the wood, but it a way that kind of runs against each other, chafing like joints of rough hewn wood on wood. Again, it got better about three-four hours in, and then by the eight hour mark was completely gone. And it bothered me, because I so wanted this to be good. I liked the concept and now I need someone to do it better so that I can buy it. You hear that perfume producer people? My checkbook awaits your efforts with baited inky breath. 3 of 5.

Favorite of the week: Ugh, so hard to choose this week.... either Chanel CoCo or Delicious Closet Queen. They're both on the big side and take up a lot of room, but I wouldn't mind having a bottle of both. I can't imagine wearing them more than a handful of times a year, but let's be honest -- when do I ever wear anything more often than that anymore?

"In my dreams
I see you asleep on a twin bed,
the covers pulled up over your head.
Am I asleep or awake?"

"My Slumbering Heart," Rilo Kiley

Monday, January 10, 2011

I used to think we'd tell the story of us...

Monday, 1/3/11, through Friday, 1/7/11.

Monday: Jo Malone Black Vetiver Café - Coffee with sweetened condensed milk, in a ceramic mug wrapped in a leather cup holder. I had tried this once before and found it wanting. I like it more this time round, but I think there are probably better "vetiver and coffee" scents out there. Can anyone give me other recommendations that combine them both like this does? 3.0 stars.

Tuesday: Shiseido Koto EdC mist A light lovely scent, crisp and clean. I agree with Perfume Shrine that it is a very nice and accessible chypre. 3 of 5 nods.

Wednesday: Pacifica Tuscan Blood Orange solid perfume - This is going to sound bad, and I don't want it to: on application it reminds me of the orange-flavored pink bubble gum that used to come with collectable cards. That might sound cheap and plastic and trashy to you, but to me it was a strangely comforting and happy smell. It's a little on the sticky sweet side, so it feels awfully young, but as youth perfumes go, you could do a lot worse. It's a guileless scent. I think of it as a scent costume; not for every day wear, but you never know when you might need to look innocent. 2.5 stars.

Thursday: Annick Goutal Mandragore - Citrusy and light at the opening, the bergamot is strong, and the scent becomes kind of herbal, like a not overly strong tea. Might be nicer in summer than in dead of winter (i.e. now). The top reminded me of a cross between Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon and Miller et Bertaux No. 3 Green, Green, Green, but did not strike me as being either as distinctive or as good as either of those. The bottom reminded me of Jo Malone Orange Blossom, but a weaker version. On the whole this wasn't bad, and I wanted to like it more, but I didn't. Also, like many other reviewers, I gotta say, really lacking in longevity. 3 stars for scent, but 1.5 for lack of lasting power.

Friday: Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud - Immediately sour, deep and yeasty like a good sour beer, then becomes strong and spicy, yet somehow still feminine. It also has a little bit of freshness to it, like chewing on a spearmint leaf. Sadly becomes much less interesting within an hour, and substantially weaker. 2.5 stars.

Favorite of the week: Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud ties Jo Malone Black Vetiver Café in a war of unimpressive acceptableness.

"Now I'm standing alone in a crowded room,
and we're not speaking.
And I'm dying to know:
is it killing you like it's killing me?
I don't know what to say.
It's such a twist of fate.
When it all broke down.
And the story of us
looks a lot like a tragedy now."

~ "The Story of Us," Taylor Swift

Monday, January 3, 2011

TOP FIVE Albums I fell in Love with in 2010

Also, because I love you so much, here is a list of the TOP FIVE Albums I fell in Love with in 2010 (FN1):

1.  Florence + the Machine - Lungs (Deluxe)

I love this album.  I have spun it on my mp3 player or in my car probably more than 100 times since the beginning of 2010.  It will probably end up being one of my favorite albums of all time.  In a era that allows listeners to buy straight singles, no B-side or album required, it's harder and harder to find well made albums.  Makes this so much more impressive.  Definitely worth the deluxe edition, btw. Fav track:  love them all, and favorite rotate.

2.  Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

I have only one thing to say about this:  It is very good Amanda Palmer is in love with Neil Gaiman, because I would seriously consider running away with her if she asked me to.  Fav tracks: Ampersand, Runs in the Family.

3.  Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins - Rabbit Fur Coat

It was a tough call between this and Acid Tongue but I'd never heard anything like this album, which I like to think of as gospel music for atheists.  It's a lovely album, somehow bitter and hopeful at the same time. And to be perfectly honest with you, I managed to burn both albums onto one CD, so when I play it in the car, I actually listen to both.  Fav tracks: You are What you Love, Born Secular, The Charging Sky.

4.  She & Him - Vol. 1

I love all the different styles embraced on this album, from slow country to 60s girl group.  It's fun, and flirty, it has a video featuring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Fav tracks: Sweet Darlin', Sentimental Heart.

5.  Bat for Lashes - Fur & Gold

This album has a dreamy quality about it that makes me want to close my eyes and dance like Audrey Horne.  Fav tracks: Sad Eyes, Bat's Mouth.

Honorable mention: Twilight: Eclipse Soundtrack, The Pierces - Thirteen Tales of Love and Revenge, Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue, Sam Phillips - A Boot & A Shoe, She & Him - Volume 2, The Bird & The Bee - Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1, Ingrid Michaels - Be Okay, Metric - Fantasies, Muse - The Resistance.

Side note: As I was finishing getting dressed this morning, I stepped back and looked at the mirror.
I took in my hot pink sweater and matching infinity scarf, jangly gold earrings, jagged edged hair cut, pink and gold eye make-up, and pink-white nails glowing against my otherwise pale fingertips sticking out of my bright white hand warmers and thought

"Damn, the dream of the 90s *IS* alive in Portland.  And I have morphed into a poster girl for it." FN2.FN3.

Now all I need to do is get new glasses and more tights and I'll be all set.

FN1. Not released in 2010, just discovered/rediscovered and loved by me in 2010.
FN2. Okay, late 80s/early 90s. 
FN3. Also, new trend: spats over boots -- thoughts, feelings, impressions?

2011 Perfume Challenge: 365 days. 261 Scents.

That's right kids.  My goal is to not just sample, but full on wear for a minimum of 4 hours, a different scent every single week day of 2011. Yes,  even if 5 minutes after I put it on I'd rather remove my skin than keep smelling it.  Yes, more or less without rhyme or reason as to season,  note, etc.  To give myself a break, I'm excluding weekend days and also will occasionally rotate in a scent I know and own and love, but each one can only be worn once for the  entire year.

Once a week I will post a week long wrap up, and announce the favorite scent of the week.  The very best scents will be set aside for the honor  of full-length bloggy love.  Others will be given away to the first person willing to take a lovelorn sample off my hands.

Also, in honor of those of you who were so excited to get a mixed CD in one of my previous drawings, once a month there will be a scent and song  drawing.  The winner will receive a copy of the mix CD from my music diary that month or a mix inspired by a particular scent/note/perfumey  theme, whichever strikes my fancy. FN1. FN2.

We will see how close I get.
FN1. For those of you who don't know, a few years ago I ran across an article wherein Cameron Crowe talked about how he did the music for Almost  Famous.  He started by going back to the monthly mix tapes he made during the period the film is set.  I thought, how awesome.  A musical  history of your life!  So I started keeping, at minimum, a playlist for every month as part of my New Years resolution that year.  That was back  in 2002 or 2003, and I've been doing it more or less ever since.

FN2.  Yes, we're back to footnotes.  It's a sign I love you.  Take it that way.