Monday, September 15, 2014

DSH Perfumes- Metropolis

I've spent several days over the summer happily wearing Metropolis by DSH Perfumes before checking the notes and other information about this perfume. Once I did, I realized that perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz had created Metropolis as a masculine fragrance with the intention of evoking "Modernism. Minimalism. Urban chic. An abstract masculine design with notes of brushed steel, glass, concrete and motor oil". I had no idea. One might think that once I read that on DSH's website I passed what was left of the sample to the Blond so he can partake in the fun. I didn't *. I love my husband, but that was a Not Sharing moment. I wanted Metropolis all for myself. Besides, I needed more quality time to try and figure it out.

I don't know about metal and oil. To me, Metropolis is a very sleek oakmoss and animalics perfume. I get the minimalism, though. If you think about perfume classics that open with an aldehydic burst and develop into a leather chypre, they tend to be very elaborate, thick and dense. These perfumes were often incredibly ornate with the like of orange blossom and other floral notes, tobacco paired with leather, identifiable civet and castoreum--- you know the style. In Metropolis, DSH has stripped away some of these layers, making the perfume rather abstract. Yet the complexity is there. This is not a "simple" perfume, it's not a soliflore and it definitely doesn't lie flat. How can it, with all that oakmoss?

A quick detour: As a teenager in the mid 1980s I got to watch Giorgio Moroder's reconstruction of the 1927 Fritz Lang movie,  Metropolis. Even if you didn't see the full thing, you're probably familiar with the video for Freddie Mercury's Love Kills (co-written by Moroder for the modern soundtrack), which uses many clips from the film. While I can't say that much of the convoluted plot stayed with me, it's the aesthetic and imagery that produced the lasting impression and made me an Art Deco fan for life.

Art Deco is pretty amazing. The minimalism of the geometric shapes, just abstract enough to feel very modern, yet obviously vintage (antique, if you ask most dealers). To me it's also very NYC, even though I've been to the historic district of Miami Beach and enjoyed it immensely. This is where I feel the connection to the glass, concrete, and steel that Dawn Spenser Hurwitz mentions.

Metropolis (the perfume) opens chilly and crisp with a unique take on aldehydes. There's some bitterness (these are not your mother's fizzy aldehyde notes) and a glossy reflection on a green glass wall. But underneath the big and cold city, right in the machine's core, there's a warm heart, beating steadily. It's pumping blood, producing energy and sweat, asserting its humanity. But none of this explains adequately how gorgeous Metropolis is. I often  perceive perfume as color and texture. In this case it's the aforementioned dark and shiny green with gritty matte gray accents. Or maybe it's the opposite: green respites in a dark gray city. Whatever it is, the precision of DSH's brushstrokes combined with the sexy animalic dry-down is irresistible to me. Masculine? Perhaps. But I maintain that brilliant perfumes are completely free of gender.

Notes: bergamot, aldehydes, geranium, rose, petitgrain, oakmoss, cedar, sandalwood, castoreum, patchouli, leather, and musk.

* I did finally order a bottle for us to share.

DSH Perfumes- Metropolis ($40, 10ml EDP, other sizes and samples can also be purchased) is available from The original sample for this review was sent by the perfumer.

Hakuhodo Maple Kinoko Brush (Small)

compare the size of the small Kinoko to classics such as Edward Bess Luxury Face Brush and Hakuhodo Vermilion Kinoko

I had to have this brush. HAD TO. I first fell in love with the tiny Hakuhodo Kinoko brush and its maple handle a couple of years ago at IMATS. The entire maple range is gorgeous, but I already have more than enough regular and oversized Kabuki brushes, so I couldn't justify another one (kicking myself, because: maple!). But a super-compact directional goat hair Kinoko is versatile and travel friendly. It's completely round but incredibly small for a face brush (the hair is 30mm x 19mm), very (very!) soft, yet dense enough for blush or powder application, and can even do a little buffing.

At first I was hesitant to use this brush with blushes, worried that I'd never be able to wash the pigment completely and maintain the white hair, but eventually reminded myself that all my Hakuhodo Yachiyo brushes wash easily and are still white after all these years (well, when not in use, which they usually are. I need several backups).

The obvious question is which one I prefer: a Yachiyo brush or a Kinoko. It's a hard one and I'm glad I don't need to choose. Yachiyo brushes are amazing for blending. Truly, there's nothing better, and I consider the Hakuhodo ones necessary staples (at least the medium and small pointed ones, but I also love the largest brush). I also think that it's a good idea to have free-standing Kabuki brushes in various sizes for powder, contour, highlighting, blushes... just about any face task. The small Hakuhodo Maple Kinoko Brush is a luxury, but it's a great and useful luxury, so it's worth considering even if you're not a brush collector.

Bonus photo: Sophie (whose hair is softer than any brush):

Hakuhodo Maple Kinoko Brush Small ($75) is available from They ship worldwide.

L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream & Revitalizing Shower Gel

L'Occitane added a bunch of exciting products to their Aromachologie range. Previously I was mostly a devoted user of the Aromachologie shampoo, but the last few weeks have found me falling deeper into the L'Occitane rabbit hole and thoroughly enjoying the new fragrances and textures. The new Aromachologie products come in two scents: Relaxing (a somewhat bitter orange blossom/neroli blend), and Revitalizing (a crisp herbal). Both are a good example of L'Occitane's Provencal aesthetic, and utterly satisfying.

The main reason I'm such a big L'Occitane fan is the fact that the products are gentle and have never ever gave me an allergic reaction or dried my skin. Fifteen years ago this fact was great; nowadays, as my skin has become so infuriatingly sensitive, this is a major quality-of-life benefit. Now, the Aromachologie range is enriched with various natural essential oils, which for some people is as bad as coconut oil is for me, so do make sure to read the label carefully. All I can say is that for me, these products are a great match.

Aromachologie Revitalizing Shower Gel feels pretty much the same as other L'Occitane shower gels, just with its unique scent. It has a moderate amount of soft lather, washes away my deodorant and exfoliating scrub and leaves my skin fresh and happy. The scent fills the shower but doesn't lingermuch beyond that.  Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream is a more impressive. I absolutely adore its fragrance (goes incredibly well with L'Occitane classic Neroli perfume, the vintage one), but it's the high content of shea butter that makes the cream so spectacular. I find that it's wonderfully nourishing and softening, a true treat for my limbs.

The scent of the Relaxing Body Cream seems strong at first, but it dissipates rather quickly and doesn't last very long, which is perfectly fine with me, as I'd rather rely on my perfume for an all-day scent.

Bottom Line: a great pleasure.

L'Occitane Aromachologie Relaxing Body Cream ($38) and  Revitalizing Shower Gel ($20) are available from L'Occitane boutiques and through their website. The products for this review were sent by the company.

*The shower mitt in the photo is from EcoTools.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Top Perfume Picks For Fall

“Anne reveled in the world of color about her.
"Oh, Marilla," she exclaimed one Saturday morning, coming dancing in with her arms full of gorgeous boughs, "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn't it? Look at these maple branches. Don't they give you a thrill--several thrills?” 
                                                                           ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Fall is perfect and clear September days, the first hint of change in the air,  piles of dried leaves burning in October, and long nights of hot chocolate and cashmere in November while freezing rain is pouring down outside. While it's easy to get caught-up in the melancholy of shorter days and semi-dead backyards, fall is also a new beginning. The Jewish New Year usually starts in mid-to-late September. The celebration of the holiday, Rosh Ha'shanah, brings families together to a table laden with seasonal fruit and various symbols of prosperity and joy for the coming year, such as honey and pomegranates (there's also gefilte fish, but let's not go there). Perfumes that go with the holiday are rich and honeyed, fruity and juicy, and utterly delightful.
My choices:
Serge Lutens Bois et Fruits, Serge Lutens Miel de Bois (you knew it was coming), Roxana Illuminated Perfume To Bee, DSH Mahjoun and Nourouz.

"Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”
― J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

There's a delicious contrast between that first chill in the air and the warmth of the colors starting to emerge, the delight in the first hot cider of the season you have at a random cafe you entered on a late weekend afternoon to escape the wind. Season change always makes me feel a sense of anticipation and excitement, and fall is no different, at least in the beginning.
My perfume picks:
Serge Lutens Rousse for that golden cider I'm already craving, CB I Hate Perfume Cedarwood Tea because it melds hot tea and fresh air, and Chanel No.19 for the crisp air

September is also the start of the school year, which I got to experience both as a student and as a teacher. The smell of school supplies: pencil shavings and plastic is the same whatever your role is. Every year I remember my first pencil case, a flimsy plastic thing with a magnetic closure and most important: it featured Moomins. The case didn't survive the first term, but I still remember the way it smelled with all the pencils and crayons inside. I think I want a new one.
“Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address.”
― Nora Ephron, You've Got Mail

This one is funny to me, because one of the biggest perfume disagreements between the Husband and me is about pencil shavings note. I adore it while he smells the dairy farm of his youth. Just about any perfume that's heavy on cedar takes me there,  but my top picks are:
Anat Fritz by Anat Fritz, Olivier Durbano Amethyst, and Memo Latin Quarter.

“November is usually such a disagreeable if the year had suddenly found out that she was growing old and could do nothing but weep and fret over it. This year is growing old gracefully...just like a stately old lady who knows she can be charming even with gray hair and wrinkles. We've had lovely days and delicious twilights.” 
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

November could have been a lot worse if it weren't for my birthday and Thanksgiving. So instead of "weeping and fretting" I'd rather celebrate.I think this year I'll go with Amouage: Lyric Man or Opus VI.

For more perfume picks for fall please visit Bois de Jasmin  *** Grain de Musc  *** Now Smell This ***Perfume Posse.

Art: Anne Barber-Shams "Pomegranate Tree of Life", from her "Art Exhibit for Middle East Peace: Paintings and Odes", a 2012 project created to build bridges between Jews, Christians and Muslims through art. It was inspired by the almost 700 years in Andalusia, Spain, when the co-mingling of the three cultures produced and preserved literature, architecture, art, music, philosophy, science and medicine.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cat Of The Day: Bob

Bob was striking a regal pose just a few minutes ago, before deciding that my lap is far more comfortable. Right now I'm trying to balance a huge golden cat and a laptop (the computer is losing). One of the sweetest things about Bob is that he actually gives kisses, not just headbutts. And even though he's clearly a momma's boy, he's incredibly friendly and loving with just about anyone who comes in and pays attention.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Tauer Perfumes- Sotto La Luna: Gardenia

Sotto La Luna: Gardenia sent my nose and brain spinning. It still does. The new release (the first of a new series--- Sotto La Luna= under the moon) from Tauer Perfumes feels like at least two perfumes trapped in one bottle. Maybe Three perfumes, actually, and at times they're fighting with each other for dominance. I like some parts,  find others more than a little difficult, appreciate the roller-coaster and the complexity, and feel disoriented when the ride is over.

My first impression was "wow!". A green garden in full bloom growing on the edge of a mossy forest. The oriental base of Sotto La Luna: Gardenia peeks right behind it and it's full of promise.  But there's something spiky and chemical lurking just behind the gardenia and jasmine bushes. It could be a matter of skin chemistry, but just when I think that I get it, that I smell the gardenia on all its ripeness, it disappears under me again, becoming too abstract. The high-pitched green impression soars higher and higher, but it doesn't resemble any  flora or fauna found in nature.

Gardenia perfumes at their best have some very interesting facets. Annick Goutal takes the drenched gardenia petals and water-soaked garden to an  extreme in Un Matin d'Orage. Mandy Aftel combined created a stunning animalic-leather gardenia that's all natural in Cuir de Gardenia.  If you're familiar with Jardenia by JAR or the discontinued Velvet Gardenia from Tom Ford Private Blend, you've smelled the overripe edge of the entire gardenia plant that borders on blue cheese and mushrooms covered in damp earth. Perfumer Andy Tauer took the 'shroomy route, which I appreciate very much because it really is part of the gardenia note and creates an interesting contrast to the fresh flowers and green leaves that surround them. But something here goes off on my skin, as the earth and mushrooms become dangerously close to a compost pile where a not-so-fresh banana peel is decomposing in the heat.

There's a certain charm in perfumes that play the revolt/attract game. I find that if you let Sotto La Luna: Gardenia go all the way and wear it outside on a really hot day, the sweetness takes over and makes a lot more sense. But I also see why some people will not be happy with this element. They'll probably have an easier time, and I admit that I do, too, with the full-on spicy oriental dry-down that appears later. This is where SLL:Gardenia becomes a whole new perfume. I smell wood soaked in gasoline and sugar-water, which again can be interesting or awful, depending on the way you feel about gas stations. I sort of like it.

Eventually everything slows down. SLL: Gardenia comes to a stop as a sweet woody comfort scent, more or less. Compared to the exhilarating ride that preceded it, this is sort of a let-down, but it allows me to catch my breath and remember that this is, indeed, a perfume. Kind of.

For a different perspective, read why Kafkaesque is decidedly unimpressed with this Tauer creation, while Persolaise believes that this is "one of Andy Tauer's most beguiling and most satisfying releases for quite some time".

Notes: fresh spices, roasted coffee beans, mushrooms, gardenia, jasmine, rosebuds, woods.

Tauer Perfumes- Sotto La Luna: Gardenia ($145, 50ml EDP) is available at Luckyscent. One sample for this review was supplied by Luckyscent with another purchase, the other ones was a press sample.

Images: pink mushrooms and a scan of a vintage Halloween postcard via

Kjaer Weis Green Depth Eye Shadow

Green is such a great color for fall. It goes well with rich warm tones and tweed jackets. Several brands are offering us new green eye shadows, but to me the most exciting one is Green Depth from Kjaer Weis, because the complexity of this sage green hue and the beautiful texture of Kjaer Weis eye shadows.

Green Depth is somewhere between the "blue" in blue cheese, sea foam, and dried sage leaves. It has gold flecks of micro-shimmer (less noticeable on my lid than on my arm) that make it go so well with a pale gold base, and rich pigmentation. What you see on my finger is the result of barely touching the surface of the eye shadow, and the real swatch shows one swipe with a Hakuhodo G5523 brush (one of my favorite eye brushes) over primer. Kjaer Weis eye shadows can be applied with a damp brush but I find it unnecessary. I get enough color as it is, and it's easier to blend dry. I make this color the focus of the makeup look with fresh highlighted skin (I'll review the new Kjaer Weis highlighter soon), a warm light lip color and lots and lots of mascara.

Bottom Line: as crisp and enticing as the first day of fall.

Kjaer Weis Green Depth Eye Shadow ($45 with the compact, $27 for the refill) will be available starting September 18th from Osswald and (link for your convenience only. Completely and totally NOT affiliated). The product in this review was sent by the company for my consideration.


Haider Ackermann drop-crotch track pants, $850

Isabel Marant sneakers, $475

NLST army cotton-terry sweatshirt, $255

There I was,  pursuing the new arrivals at Net-a-Porter and falling in love with every Narciso Rodriguez pair of shoes, when I noticed several truly godawful items that would make one godawful look. The Haider Ackermann ($850) drop-crotch track pants are obviously the star of this ensemble. I know they'd look very cute on a very tall and willowy figure. But most of us are not the 6'1" Karlie Kloss, so I must take Tim Gunn's views on drop-crotch pants as well as on wearing athletic gear outside the gym.

Now, add to that the retro sneakers from Isabel Marant ($475) that bring childhood memories of wearing fake Adidas and the general unattractiveness of white sneakers. I'm a Converse girl (recently bought a pair of Missoni Chucks that I found irresistible. and it made me almost as happy as I felt with my first pair of turquoise high-tops at age 14), so I firmly say 'no' to this pair. Which brings us to the last item, which I simply find to be in poor taste. Getting inspiration from army gear is fine (NLST says that the brand was "conceived from a passion and appreciation for the utility and authenticity of surplus"), but I've checked and NLST has absolutely nothing to do with the military, and as far as I could find they do not do anything to actually support the troops with their profit. I'm pretty sure that no one who is actually in the Army (or their loved ones) is buying and wearing a $255 sweatshirt.

Total cost: $1580.

All photos via