Wednesday, June 27, 2012

He fell in love with an Indian maid over in the antique store...

A Review of Olivier Durbano Citrine EdP

First off, picking a winner for the A Lab on Fire's Super Sweet What We Do In Paris Is Secret and 1950s/60s girlie group mix.

And the winner is:


Congrats to Taffy. Email me at feminine (dot) things @ gmail (dot) com with an address I can ship your goodies to. You package will also include a sample of A Lab on Fire's Sweet Dreams 2003, which I've obtained.

I had a big weekend of writing planned, but other things got in the way, hence my extreme delay in posting a winner.  I did, however, consume an inhuman quantity of Gossip Girl, which was only slightly less fun than seeing the look on David's face as I intermittently explained the plot twists to him. Bafflement, doubt, and incredulity is all there is to describe it. Of course, it was the same look he just gave me while I explained the changes to the college football bowl/play-off system, so there you go.  I speak many popular American tongues with which my California-born, perpetually unshod, lifelong-pescatarian Jewish husband is unfamiliar, and they range from faux bitchery on the Upper East Side to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.  And him? He's better at foreign policy, Victorian history, gaming strategy, international relations, and getting people to like him.  It all works out in the end. I did manage to give myself a manicure and got all my grocerying for the last two weeks done in one late night Target run with the Kate, so the weekend wasn't a total wash.

One way the D&D symbiosis works out is that David is often willing to indulge me (a wonderful trait in a partner, IMO).  Tonight he helped me make up for lost weekend time by taking me out for a proper date, complete with sushi dinner, stop at the Sweet Factory for fancy candy (David likes to go crazy in one big bag, whilst I like to divide into multiple smaller bags that include chocolate in one and a mix of cherry and strawberry sour ropes in another), then to see Moonrise Kingdom, which was delightful. David declared it the "least depressing Wes Anderson film ever." So charming, so sweet, great soundtrack with a heavy reliance on Hank Williams tunes.  I loved it.

You know what else I love?  You, dear reader.  Thanks for being there.  Sometimes I, I know, I'd be lost without you.

And with that: on to the perfume! I chose today's scent because it reminded me of the color palette for Moonrise Kingdom, which in turn reminded me that Wes Anderson is always worth experiencing on a screen large enough to immerse yourself in the full sensory experience of his world.

Citrine EdP is the seventh and final scent in a series by Olivier Durbano is his "Stone Poem Jems" line based on semi precious gem stones known for their healing powers. Citrine is an "amber wooded spicy" and is described as follows: 
The scent unfolds and reveals materials reflecting the color of the sun: bright Sicilian lemon introducing a citrus blast; sweet mimosa buds clustering on branches doused with pure sunlight; and warm amber solidifying solar energy. Notes of ginger and pink pepper further invigorate the golden notes with zest. Traces of precious woods and the finest Japanese incense complete the scent journey from inner flame to celestial light. 
Notes: Sicilian Lemon, Wild Orange, Elemi Incense, Ginger, Pink Pepper, Carrot seeds, Mimosa, Rosewood, Gaiac wood, Musk, Myrrh, Grey Amber, Beeswax
 Citrine's citrus opening is strong without being acidic like cleaner or overpowering, and quickly sl-l-l-i-des into an amber so smooth it's surprising after the sharp opening. The scent reminds me most of a good tea with lots of honey and lemon.  It's beautiful, strong but also soothing; Arthur described it as having a glow, and I think that's dead on.  Not terribly unlike the gem from whence it takes it's name, come to think of it.  It grows more toward the incense and wood about an hour in, but remains surprisingly light.

Citrine wears very close to the skin.  On me, the sillage is so low I feel like I'd need to double spray to get enough.  Longevity is middling, about six hours, most of which is more about slightly sweet woods and not so much about citrus, so if you want to try a citrus that isn't really -- a kind of gateway citrus, if you will -- this might do nicely.

Unfortunately, for the price point?  The scent is too soft for my tastes.  But then, I like aggressive perfumes.  If you don't, this might make a great addition to your collection.

Olivier Durbano Citrine EdP is available in 100ml for $190, but you can buy samples from LuckyScent.

And with that, I'll leave you with this classic gem which features prominently in Moonrise Kingdom, which I have loved since I was a little girl:


  Want more? Try...
~ a review from EauMG
~ a review from Doll Eyes
~ a review from A Nose is a Nose is a Nose
~ a review from CaFleureBon
~ a review from Kevin at Now Smell This!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

So tonight I'm gonna party like its...

A Review of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Miskatonic University

So El Hubs and I are heading out of town this weekend to watch a dear friend graduate college (Go Audrey!), visit his parents, and celebrate his birthday.  I think the image to the right accurately reflects our respective attitudes toward travel in general.  I would be the Sheldon in the scenario, and for David, Penny equals our cats.  It usually takes less than twenty-four hours before he starts verbally speculating about how they are and what they are doing, which usually means he is missing them before we even manage to leave the house. We are going up to one of my favorite areas in the world, the top of the Olympic Peninsula.  My plans include eating at Bella Italia in Port Angeles (shut up, Twi-haters, I love that damned ravioli), jewelry shopping at Lila Drake in Port Towsend before a quick stop at the old-fashioned soda fountain, and if it's nice, a long walk down Rialto Beach.

Did I mention it was his birthday? Yeah. This is what happens when I ask what he wants to do and he says, "Whatever."

And now, for the sleeping.
While I'm mentioning exciting things, I'll throw out there that this past weekend I finished my first draft of the sequel to Spooked, the YA supernatural noir I am currently trying to find an agent for. I wrote for thirteen hours straight to finish it because there is a point I get to near the end of these things that it is literally pouring out of me and I won't be able to focus on anything else until it is done.  On the whole, I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. There is something really satisfying about finally getting around to telling the end of a story when you've known it for a long time.  Now my lovely betas are hard at work reading, trying to ignore my egregious typing errors and grammar discombobulation. I have nothing but hearts and sparkles for my peeps, who keep me encouraged when I want to lay on the couch like a beached whale slathered in ice cream remnants moaning about how untalented I am and how it is never going to happen for me.

Also, in case you haven't noticed, gifs have come to Feminine Things because apparently I have now caught up with internet technology circa 1999. FN1.

I was up super late writing, so now I am so in need of coffee I decided my best bet is to smell like coffee.  To that end I bring you Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Miskatonic University, part of their Picnic in Arkham series.
A venerable New England university, whose vast library holds many rare, diabolical and obscure arcane works, including one of the few surviving legitimate copies of the Necronomicon. Home to innumerable scholars of the esoteric and the occult, and the notorious Dr. Herbert West. 
Notes: The scent of Irish coffee, dusty tomes and polished oakwood halls. 
The initial impression is coffee, hazelnut, and bubblegum?  I have no idea why I get bubblegum.  I think it's the attempt at the Irish part of the Irish coffee.  Over time the bubble-gummy note dissipates (thank goodness) and becomes a mixture of hazelnut coffee, dust, and dry hard wood.   For me, it's worth waiting out the bubble gum for the weird delights of smelling like you've fallen asleep while reading old books in a library with your head resting next to a still warm cup of good sweetened coffee. If you are worried about sweetness; don't.  It get so dry and woody within the first hour that I'd say it more hints at gourmand than actually acts like one. In fact the wood is so strong at the in its almost resin-y.
Let's get this birthday road
trip started! Who has the snacks?

Four hours later, the wood (which took on that ripe young new wood smell) and coffee melded weirdly so that I kept hitting a hint of fig. Nose to pulse point, the notes were still distinctive, but at arm to head length, it was straaaaangely fig fruity. This may just be on me, but that's what I got.  You try it and be the judge. The sillage is relatively low, but the longevity is pretty good. I could smell light wafts eight to ten hours later (though if you read regularly, you know scents tend to last a long time on me.)

This is a classic three-ish nodder for me.  I like it, mostly, but also feel like someone else would like it more, it would fit them better, or I'd like it more if it were only X, Y, or Z.  That said, if you like a little sugar with your wood (dirty!) , this might be a good scent for you. For me, it's sort of meh.  I think I'll shelve it for a few months, try it again in the fall, and if I still can't get into it, make it a gift to someone who can. Could that be you?  Perhaps, dear reader.  Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.

If this sounds interesting to you, stay tuned.  I'll probably give away a BPAL sample set in the next week or two and I'll make sure to include a sample of Miskatonic University.  But first, I have to steal, I mean celebrate, my husband's birthday.

Until then, yours in writing-induced exhaustion,

FN1. And that's how we are supposed to party, amIright

Friday, June 8, 2012

Overwhelm, destroying so sweetly...

A review of A Lab on Fire's What We Do In Paris Is Secret and a Drawing!

Snacks! (I'm like a horse, really.)
Dear reader:

So here's a little thing all ten of you out there should know about me. FN1. I have what could be considered a super human tolerance for sweet scents. Seriously. One of my favorites of all time? By Kilian's homage to the marshmallow, Love. Stuff that sets other people's teeth on edge - say Sud Pacifique Vanille Abricot (which, let's be honest, most people think smells like an insane carnival snack) or Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille (boozy and tons of vanilla, but you need a serious sweet tooth to love) - sets my proverbial hair on fire. FN2. So when I tell you that I have found a scent so sweet it might actually be almost too sweet for me?

You should take that statement seriously.

You know that's right.
A Lab on Fire, according to nose in the know Robin at NST!, is a sub- or sister-brand of S-Perfume, makers of the much adored (by me) chocolate rose scent, 100% Love. FN3. So when I managed to get my grubby hands on a 15ml bottle of Dominique Ropion's creation, What We Do In Paris Is Secret, I was psyched! FN4. Would I love it? How much would I love it? Let me count the (imagined while it was still in the mail) ways!

Though it isn't much, here's what A Lab on Fire says about What We Do In Paris Is Secret:
Rue des Petits Champs ou rue Montorgueil. Place des Vosges ou St. Germain. Eau de Parfum What We Do In Paris Is Secret captures every part of the city. The glamorous as well as the edgy. Dominique Ropion, one of the most technically advanced perfumers in the world, has created a scent that shows his virtuosic skill and his ability to discover something new. The chic, au courant sensuality of What We Do In Paris Is Secret makes the magical real and Paris's secret palpable.

Notes - Top: Bergamot, honey, lychee; Mid: Turkish rose essence; Dry: tonka bean, vanilla, heliotrope, tolu, sandalwood, ambergris, musks.
Well kids, I'm here to let you in on the secret. In Paris, apparently the secret is sugar.

Oh holy crap, is it a lot of sugar! You know how sometimes a thing is so sweet it kind of sears your tongue and you get a twinge at the back of your jaw? This is the olfactory equivalent. I saw some reviews that got playdoh (I didn't) and a lot of almond (only a pinch over here.) Like Robin, I get a fleeting whiff of citrus and rose immediately, but it gets shoved aside almost instantly in favor of massive tonka and heliotrope. I know the notes say musk, but to me the base is more like a bowl of butter cream frosting mixed with the sweetest tobacco you could imagine. Some people say they get sweet floral, but I only get sweets and sweet smoke.

What We Do In Paris... will definitely be too sweet for ninety percent of the people who smell it. FN5. For example, my very own bestie, The Kate? She would run in the opposite direction. It's pretty much everything she hates in a perfume. FN6. My friend Amye, who likes to sniff scents then give them descriptions like "A beachy disaster - sunscreen and sand in your crotch!" or "It's as if a cosmo threw up all over you," would, I'm sure, have some choice words for this. FN7.

 Me? I'm all about the hearts and sparkles here, and in this case, the hearts are sugar cookies and the sparkles are made out of glittery crystallized sugar. While What We Do In Paris Is Secret is decidedly not for the perfumey faint of heart, I got good feedback on it from a girl a work today, and in a world of poseurs, this thing is the real gourmand deal.  I feel very lucky to have some, even if I am going to wear it sparingly for special occasions.  Honestly? It feels special occasion-y to me.  Like a very delicate, very fine, very expensive treat. If you ate it every day, you'd get a tummy ache, but every once in a while? Heaven.

Be forewarned: this sillage will run away from you (or make others run away from you), so give yourself a wide berth or go knowingly into the world cloaked in a confidence made out of candy glass armor. In terms of longevity, I put on the tiniest squirt this morning and twelve hours later I could still easily smell it, though it had lightened considerably. Definitely NSFW if you are in a fragrance limited/fragrance free environment. (Oops?)

You can buy What We Do In Paris Is Secret from Luckyscent in a 60ml for $110. They will also sell you a sample for $4.

But why wait? If you comment below, you can get a sample of What We Do In Paris Is Secret from yours truly, along with a few other of my current favs and a mix CD of music I'm listening to while writing. If you enjoy music from the Brill Building and the teeth gnashing and hair pulling of lost girl groups of the 1950s and 1960s, then between the super sweet scent and the super sweet music, you'll be all set.

Post here by 12:01 AM PST Wednesday, June 13, 2012 to enter. Open to anyone. I'll ship anywhere.

Want more? Try...
~ a review from Robin at NST!
~ a review from Smelly Thoughts.
~ a review from For The Love of Perfume.
~ a review from Legerdenez.
~ a review from 1000 Fragrances.

"Eyes, burning a way through me.
Overwhelm, destroying so sweetly.
Now, there is a fire within me.
A fire that burns...

This fire is out of control.
I'm going to burn this city,
burn this city..."
~ "This Fire," Franz Ferdinand
FN1. I kid, of course. There are clearly at least twelve of you.

FN2. Not literally. That would smell waaaaay different. Though I'm deep enough into perfume mania at this point to think, "But I bet there's a decent perfume to be had in there somewhere."

FN3. If I'd had 100% Love when I got married, I give it 70/30 odds it would have been my wedding scent.

FN4. Full disclosure - I won it in a draw on Now Smell This, because Robin is both wise and generous.

FN5. Okay, one minor complaint - could this name be any longer? It's like that band -- "...And you will know us by the fact that our name is ridiculous and longer than necessary."  They're just asking for a bad acyronym.

The perfumers, I mean.  The band already has one.

FN6. The Kate because in a world full of Kates, she is the Kate. The one, the only. Also/formerly known as cKate, until she usurped all other Kates, as was her due.

FN7. These are actual quotes from when we went a-sniffing one afternoon, because Amye is hilarious. And according to this Forbes piece, she's also too busy to date you, so no, you can't have her number.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

If loving you is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Perfume and the Inner Critic

Dear reader:

Moving is exhausting!
I am about to make an entirely obvious statement: moving sucks. Yes, moving is a pain, particularly when you are a perfumie, and you collect something expensive and fragile that is both heat and light sensitive. David and I have recently left our apartment of ten years and are currently in transition housing pending the end of his position as a live-in college administrator in July. FN1. This means I will be living out of boxes for six week as I wait for move two to begin. David is headed for law school this fall, so we are currently house hunting while he finishes up at work, I'm working full-time, and writing on top of that.

It's been a busy two months, and the next one looks similarly hectic.

Temp perfume storage
Pt. 1....
Anyway, this extended moving period has led to a lot of me looking at my perfume collection. Carefully putting things into boxes, wrapping with bubble wrap, examining storage methods, realizing I need more rifle shell boxes, etc. FN2.

Part of moving means looking really thoroughly at my perfume collection as I pack and unpack it. As I went through it this time, I found myself feeling strangely judgmental about my own collection. “Not enough classics, not enough high end; too many small or inexpensive scents; too much breadth in some houses; not enough in others.” Over all, my snap judgment? “Not a serious collection.”

This kitten has judged your perfume
It was that last thought that finally tripped me up. Really? Not a serious collection?  My perfume collection is worth more than my car. Hell, it might be worth more than my car and David’s combined. I have major and minor houses, classics and cutting edge indies, department store sprays and only-heard-of-it-if-you’re-into-perfume scents. If I don't have a serious collection, who the hell does?

When did I become so snobby about perfume? When did it become about status and not about smelling good? And why do I care? Who is this person who has set up shop in my head and judges my tastes as narrow or ignorant or pedestrian? This person who thinks this even as I reach forgotten corners of my collection and discover scents I love all over again? I have smelled so good all week, and yet couldn’t bring myself to tell you about it because I’m having weird perfume shame.

Temp perfume storage
Pt 2... & counting....
Well shame be damned, I say. I will recommit to telling you what’s awesome that has passed beneath my nose, which this week has included: a preview of slumberhouse’s pending fall release, Tunis Mills, which smells like the smell of fireplace smoke and sweet cider and warm coffee and about a half dozen other aspects of the best warm things fall has to offer (went immediately onto my 'definitely buy' list); Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Jazz Funeral, which is a warm sultry homage to the NOLA tradition that celebrates a transition into that sweet bye and bye with rum, magnolias, funeral garlands, dirt, and moss; and a layering experiment that yielded awesome sticky sweet and salty results of awesomeness, CB I Hate Perfumes Smokey Tobacco Accord with Demeter Fragrance Library’s Salt Air. Every single scent (or combo) made me happy as hell to be a perfume collector, and not one thing I wore broke the $60 mark.

And you know what this experience has (re)taught me? If loving low or common or less well-known or less prestigious or less established scents/houses is wrong, dear reader, I don’t wanna be right.  I smell great, I'm happy about it, and I will now gleefully share my perfume joy with you all, come what may.

More to come.



FN1. To be fair, it was always his apartment. I've lived other places during the last decade, but let's be honest: I always thought of it as my house, too.

FN2. For those of you unfamiliar with perfume sample storage, let's just say I end up on a lot of weird NRA-related mailing lists trying to find good upright storage for samples.