Thursday, April 23, 2015

Vintage Perfume: The Most Frequently Worn In Our Current Rotation (By the Husband and me)

At this point in the game both the Husband and I are deeply invested in the vintage perfume hobby. The difference between chasing vintage and collecting modern treasures is that the former is a rabbit hole with a definite bottom, darker than you've ever imagined, and causes normal mild-mannered individuals like us to commit minor acts of violence against people who stand in our way to the coveted bottles. As our collection grows we also develop certain moods. "I'm in the mood for a vintage chypre" is a common thought for me. The husband doesn't care. He simply reaches for the first thing that comes to his mind as he stand befuddled in front of his cabinet, questioning the sanity of it all.

I've looked through my files and also asked the Blond what he's been wearing most often lately. Here's the list of the bottles we've been spraying most often in the last few weeks.


On any given week I wear some form of Shalimar for at least half a day. It's just one of those facts of life.

I've been collecting various concentration of this wild beast. Lately it's been my go to bedtime scent (six times in two and a half weeks). Which explains some of the more bizarre dreams I've been having.

I've been chasing this one for years, trying to find a bottle that's both high concentration and hasn't turned. I've finally managed. A seventies chypre if there ever was one.

All of a sudden I cannot get enough. /and I'm worried about the older bottles turning bad, so I'm often steeped in this elegant dream. My maternal grandmother used to wear it, which doesn't hurt the appeal, either.

The husband was on his way back from a business meeting up north when he stopped at an antique mall. He found a bottle of the original very first Emanuel Ungaro perfume. I haven't smelled it in decades, but ever since he got me the bottle I can't get enough. The couple that hunts for vintage perfume together stays together.


The first fragrance I ever bought for him, soon after we started dating. I think my sweet farm boy was a bit confused at first. He got over it.

Neither one of us has tried the reissue. Why bother when the real thing lives in our cabinet? (I'm so stealing it tonight).

Right now it seems to be his favorite Guerlain. I got him a lifetime supply of the 1992 eau de toilette version. He still wondered if he needs a backup. I wear the eau de perfume more often.

I think it was one of his first vintage bottles and it took him a while to fall in love. Between Equipage and vintage Bel Ami, I think he's ready to upholster our home in Hermes orange leather.

There couldn't be a bigger discrepancy between the perfume's name and the man who wears it in our home, but who cares?  And it's a good compromise that mostly keeps him out of my Bois des Iles parfum, so everyone's happy.

Bobbi Brown Cheek Palette- Berry

I may have went a bit Bobbi-crazy a couple of months ago when these colors came out (I already reviewed the shockingly bright Art Sticks and have yet to show you the corresponding sheer lip colors). I was just so happy to see a Bobbi Brown collection that was not all about the beige, and I still have some all-time favorite blushes from older Bobbi palettes (remember Mauve?). So I picked the Berry palette (there's also one called Pink) and I'm not sure it was the wisest choice ever.

As the Bobbi Brown site declares, the Berry palette is for "Anyone with a dark skin tone who wants a fresh, healthy-looking glow.". My skin has that true green Mediterranean undertone, but in terms of actual coloring it's more in the sickly pale category, as I zealously guard it from the sun. As a result, the bright pink shade on the right gains a neon quality on my skin that requires the fluffiest of brushes and a fairy-like touch to blend it to an acceptable level. The texture of the color in this pan is super buttery and easy to work with, so it's not too complicated, but it can too much too quickly if I'm not being careful.

The darker berry shade is not as texturally desirable: it's dryer and harder to the touch. But the color itself, despite the pigment's intensity is somewhat dustier and more muted, thus easier for me to wear (again, judiciously). It's the one I see myself actually making a dent in the pan. Unlike the two matte blushes, the middle shade is shimmery and is supposed to be a highlighter. But again, the palette was clearly design with dark skin in mind, so this is more of a mid-summer golden bronzer with the sheen and sparkle you'd want on a vacation. It's pretty, it's flattering in its own way, but the texture is stiffer and grittier than I'd prefer. On the up side, it doesn't crumble under the brush or kicks any product around, so the matte blushes remain untainted by its shimmer.

Bobbi Brown suggest layering the colors and/or spiking them with the "highlighter". The need for careful blending makes this idea a bit too much for my particular skin tone, but I can definitely see how it would work for someone with a rich and beautiful skin color. I use them one at a time, blending with a small Yachiyo brush or the tip of the Hakuhodo S103. I still wish for more luxurious textures, but it gets the work done.

Bottom Line: I might have overreached my color limits here.

Bobbi Brown Cheek Palette- Berry ($45) is available at the counters and online from

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Profumum- Tagete

Marigolds by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1873

Tagete by Profumum was not what I expected. I love Marigolds. The exuberant colors and the way they smell in the heat of summer: bitter, green, baked in the heat accompanied by the smell of warm grass, and if they're in my own backyard there's also a whiff of other herbs that grow in the next bed, and especially fennel. The first time I smelled Profumum's interpretation of the flower I was taken aback. Sweet and heady tuberose pervaded the  leaves and petals, making them softer and more sensual where I was looking for a no-nonsense jolt along with the lazy heat of a summer day.

But how can I resist tuberose? I rarely do. And I've been captivated before by a blend of tuberose and dry crisp greenery in Ego Facto's Me, Myself and I. Tagete takes things a step further. Each and every whiff you take has both something green and slightly bitter entwined by seductive white flowers. Jasmine and tuberose, together and separately pull you in with their sweet promises. And just as you're willing to surrender to the narcotic effect there comes a reminder of reality in the form of an earthy- rooty-grassy tagetes and vetiver.

Bocca Baciata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1859

As I was researching marigolds and their meaning for this post I was reminded of another perfume that pairs tuberose with tagetes: Flor y Canto by Arquiste (I'm so wearing it tomorrow!). It is not a coincidence: both flowers were significant to the Aztecs and are seen to this day in Mexico during celebrations including Dia de los Muertos. Life, death, rebirth (in some areas tagetes are among the first spring flowers to come back), as well as themes of innocence vs. mature sexuality. It's all there, and you cycle through them as you wear Profumum's Tagete (longevity is great).

As I said in the beginning, I expected something raw and with a more assertive marigold note, but found myself surrendering to the plush temptation of a summer garden at nighttime. The second artwork I chose above, Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Bocca Baciata, tells an interesting story. According to the Rossetti Archive: "The inscription (in Rossetti's hand on a slip of paper on the back of the picture) is the last sentence in Boccaccio's Decameron, Day 2, Story 7. It translates: “The kissed mouth does not lose its freshness, but renews itself like the moon”." They explain further that
"The principal flower motif is the marigold, which in the language of flowers signifies pain or chagrin. The apple on the balustrade perhaps alludes to the biblical legend of the fall of Adam and Eve; the white rose in her hair signifies innocence."

Maybe it's my imagination and falling prey to the power of tuberose-suggestion, but I get it from Tagetes. I really think that I do. It doesn't hurt that those are some of my favorite notes swimming there together, and as my scent twin Tom said once: "Darlin', we radiate tuberose" . Also tagetes, apparently. On the other hand, my dear friend on Kafkaesque was royally unimpressed. You can read her review here.

Profumum- Tagete ($240, 100ml eau de parfum) is available from Osswald NYC and Luckyscent. The sample for this review was supplied by Osswald.

YSL Full Metal Shadow 07 Aquatic Copper

My good intentions to stay away from new cream or liquid eye shadows went out of the window as soon as I heard about YSL Full Metal Shadow. They appeared similar to the Armani ones, only in a different range of colors. So I had to. The online photo of No.7, Aquatic Copper, looked especially appealing, so I pre-ordered it from Nordstrom and waited for the magic to appear on my doorstep.

What can go wrong?

The texture, that's what.

YSL Full Metal Shadow is, indeed, similar to the aforementioned Armani eye tints but even more runny. This makes them harder to work with, even though the applicator is better designed and slightly smaller. However, at least in the one I tested, Aquatic Copper, the very liquid texture is uneven, making the pigment and glitter slightly separate. I've used all the tricks I've learned from wearing the Armani ones, but the result was still not satisfactory. I have to really pile on the layers (which means longer setting time), and to add insult to a hot mess, there's some glitter fallout, which is rather unacceptable for a liquid eye shadow.

The color itself is rather pretty, even though it isn't anywhere near what you see online on the Nordstrom site. I hoped for much more complexity, but got a straight out copper with unevenly distributed silvery microglitter. Above you see the swatch comparison to Armani #10 Senso, which is a much more interesting option.

Bottom Line: Skip.

YSL Full Metal Shadow 07 Aquatic Copper ($30) is available at the counters and online.

Parfum d'Empire- Equistrius

Every time the husband reaches for our bottle of Equistrius by Parfum d'Empire (or when he smells it on me), he asks whether I've reviewed it already. "Why haven't you?" he wants to know. It's a good question considering how often Equistrius is worn around here. We both love it. We both love this mellow interpretation of orris. And we both have a serious thing for Parfum d'Empire. So why haven't I?

There's something about the low key character of Equistrius. It's like a background noise sometimes, and I have to make myself pay attention until I notice how good I smell. It becomes one with my skin in a non-perfumy way. Dry powder, dry orris powder, dry rice powder, all float leisurely in the air just above the skin. Something in the late dry-down melds into an almost leathery note, which I'm guessing is where the equestrian theme is leading, but for the most part I find Equistrius to be comfortable yet romantic, which I think is a far departure from perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato's intention of a tribute to the Roman Empire.

As you must have figured above, Equistrius is a rather powdery perfume, but not in the sweet makeupy way of rose-violet-orris. It doesn't have that vintage boudoir vibe at all, and it's not particularly feminine, just as the animalic musky veteiver in the dry-down doesn't make it particularly masculine. The latter, with it's use of the not-so-clean skin note of ambrette seed is probably a nod for that horsey theme, but this is a very pampered and groomed horse (I was tempted to use a photo of Queen Elizabeth and one of her cherished horses, but it would have been just as far from the atmosphere Equistrius creates as a Roman statue).

Equistruis is incredibly smooth and easy to wear. It behaves in extreme heat, in close quarters, as well as outdoors. It's lightness might be misleading. It has a dusky quality, the result of the classic pairing of violets and orris, which my brain automatically labels as "romantic". In any case, this is a beautiful and elegant fragrance with a modern twist on a familiar theme, and horse or no horse, it's gender-free, long-lasting on skin level and thoroughly a pleasure (must love orris).

Notes: orris, violet, rice powder, chocolate, ambrette, sandalwood, vetiver, grey amber

My older reviews of Parfum d'Empire fragrances:
Ambre Russe, Cuir Ottoman, Osmanthus Interdite, Fougere Bengale, Wazamba, Corsica Furiosa, and Musc Tonkin.

Parfum d'Empire- Equistrius ($145, 100ml eau de parfum) is available from Luckyscent.

Photo: Ewelina at an equestrian fashion photoshoot for Poland's Next Top Model, fall 2014.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Currently- April 2015

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. It's one of her few adult novels, and it's one of the best things I've read in a very long time. The story of a grandmother and her young granddaughter spending a summer on a tiny Finnish island, dealing with life, grief, pesky neighbors, and the beautiful (and so foreign) landscape.

Once again, The Americans are bringing back musical memories from my early teens. Last week it was Ultravox Vienna. But here I'm sharing an acoustic vesrion Midge Ure performed a couple of years ago. It's even more touching,

Game of Thrones, what else? I'm also addicted to reading the recaps the day after. And by the way, I'm awfully confused by the season premiere of Orphan Black. What is going on there? Who works for whom?

There are so many spectacular new releases that it's harder than ever to keep up. I'm still infatuated with Eau de Celeri (compliments whenever I wear it, followed by disbelieving looks about the name). I've also been testing a couple of new vanilla fragrances, and the top one is Provanilla by Providence Perfume Company. Not what I'd expected at all, and surprisingly perfect for warm weather.

Matte eye shadows. I may have bought a lifetime supply recently.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Silk shirts with everything.

Guilty Pleasure
Diner food. This is Jersey, after all.

Other than the above: fruit salads.Orange, banana, apple, and a splash of Cointreau.

The cats have been fighting a pesky virus one or two at a time. It wasn't too big of a deal, just (clear) sneezing and diarrhea. You can imagine the fun we had.

It's really honest to god spring.

The royal baby. I was kind of hoping he or she will have been born on Her Majesty's birthday, but whatever. Whenever.

I'm looking for simple maxi dressers that can be dressed up or down.

Random Thoughts
I'm typing this with one hand while massaging my face with my favorite propolis cream and listening to the rainstorm outside. It feels good, but not conducive to thoughts, random or otherwise.

How are you doing? What are your loves, joys, banes, recommendations, and random thoughts? Please share.

Will  Barnet- Kiesler and Wife, 1985

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Monsillage- Eau de Celeri

The name. I know.

I'm a salad-loving vegetarian with a vague affection for celery, but even I won't claim that it's my favorite leafy green. It's... celery. But I urge you with all my might to ignore the name of the newest perfume from Montreal-based Monsillage and try it anyway (see my previous reviews of Aviation club, Dupont Circle, and Ipanema Posto Nove, and I promise to write about the 2012 fragrance Vol 870 YUL-CDG in the coming weeks ).

It's worth it.

Neither the husband and I not a bunch of friends whom I more or less forced to try Eau de Celeri think it's smells like something from the farmer's market. It's green, though. Incredibly GREEN, but the overall impression is far more elegant than a juice stand in Brooklyn. This shouldn't surprise anyone who'd followed perfumer Isabelle Michaud, the creative mind behind Monsillage, who is classically trained (ISIPCA perfume institute in Versailles). Eau de Celeri is a modern take on galbanum and vetiver, not quite Vent Vert, but it should appeal to the same fan base. The modern elements come in the form of a very realistic fresh cut grass note and a bitter citrus that seeps into the softer sweeter green leaves. Coriander leaf (aka cilantro) is listed as one of the notes, but I can't say that I get a Vietnamese salad anywhere in the composition. Just tender spring leaves everywhere, surrounded by the more sophisticated and edgy galbanum.

There's a lovely innocence to the lush grassy background. I'm reminded of a childhood memory of the house and yard where we lived when my sister and I were little. My mother would settle us on a blanket right under her bedroom window with books and toys, the grass around us soft and inviting to roll in it. A Rose of Sharon tree was in full bloom, as was some kind of a daisy-like bush that we both loved (to the chagrin of the upstairs neighbor who hated seeing my toddler sister tear the flowers apart). It smelled kind of marigoldish, green and slightly bitter, a scent I love to this day. But the biggest temptation was the ravine behind the house. I remember pink flowers on  labdanum shrubs and a trailing path that some said lead all the way down to the beach (it did. Years later my boyfriend and I climbed it all the way up from the beach to the old neighborhood), but we weren't allowed to set foot there. You could hear the jackals at night, and who knew what else lurks there? But my sister and I were safely ensconced  in the little green universe that surrounded us and protected us with delicate green fingers.

The husband swears that he gets celery seed when wearing the perfume, and I agree that there's an earthy spice lurking somewhere behind the galbanum. Some of it is probably the woody-vetiver base, which to my nose smells toasted with a slight burn at the edges. This dry-down helps ground the leaves and creates a good longevity. It deepens a little as the perfume develops on skin, but the core is consistently green and very satisfying.

Notes: Coriander Leaf, Galbanum, Grass, Bergamot, Lemon, Grapefruit, Flower Buds, Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedar.

Monsillage- Eau de Celeri ($95, 50ml eau de toilette) is available at Twisted Lily. The press bottle for this review was sent by the perfumer.

Image from Vogue Italy, April 1971.

Aroma M Beauty- Camellia Cleansing Oil

This one is different.

Fans of oil cleansing use a variety of items and methods. From food stuff like olive oil and coconut oil, to cult favorite products from Shu Uemura to Tatcha. There's the double cleansing (oil first, then a detergent-type cleanser), and the single step, where washing away the oil with water is sufficient. The latter is typical to formulas that contain a foaming agent.

The new Camellia Cleansing Oil from Aroma M Beauty is inspired by geisha beauty routines and falls technically into the one step category. It washes off fully with water, taking away everything with it. My personal preference is to remove my eye makeup with a different product, even though the Camellia Oil is rather effective in dissolving mascara and eyeliner. But I prefer to do my deep cleansing without the gunky residue of eye makeup being smeared all over my face.

Aroma M Camellia Oil feels and works like a massage oil. You pour a good amount into your palms (I find the recommendation of 5-6 drops to be on the low side. I use at least ten) and slowly massage the oil onto your face, taking your time with it for best results. Like all good oils,  Camellia Oil breaks down even the the toughest and thickest foundation or sunblock, draws out the gunk that clogs your pores, and softens the skin in the process. The massage itself is very beneficial for circulation and face muscles (see this Lisa Eldridge video for further discussion and some good techniques).  To take it all of you only need water. The Japanese technique calls for washing it all off with warm water and then splashing your face with hen cold water. I don't find it pleasant, so instead I use a warm damp washcloth, but that's really my own issue.

The added bonus of the exquisite scent of the oil (Maria McElroy of Aroma M is an accomplished perfumer), one's old nightly routine becomes more luxurious and restorative. The first few seconds after cleansing you notice just how soft and smooth your skin is, but I'd highly recommend to use a serum and a moisturizer right away, as the cleansing process does remove everything from the surface and you need to add back moisture and nourishment.

Bottom Line: a highly effective treat.

Ingredients: Organic Camellia Seed Oil, Organic Rice Bran Oil, Organic Golden Jojoba Oil, Organic Vitamin E, Organic Essential Oils of Neroli, Yuzu, Rosemary and Frankincense.

Aroma M Beauty- Camellia Cleansing Oil ($40, but you can start by purchasing a $10 generous sample) is available from Aroma M website (link provided for your convenience as it's a bit tricky to navigate). The initial sample was sent tome for free. I have since purchased a full bottle.

Image: Kitagawa Utamaro: Three bijin, 1792

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