Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Love- Tauer Perfumes

A cross-blog discussion that has been going lately concluded that some perfumes are beautiful, but very few are really evocative. I'd add that some perfume reviews can be more evocative than the fragrance itself. An olfactory experience that actually takes you on a journey is a very rare experience in recent days. Which might be for the best. Do we really want to be taken anywhere by Britney Spears or Victoria Beckham?

Mentioning Posh Spice in a post discussing Andy Tauer's work is sacrilegious. So, let's put another line break between her and these perfumes.

L'Air du Desert Marocain
If I were into the whole signature scent thing, this would most likely be my choice. It's not about the notes, really (which are all lovely: Coriander, Petitgrain (Bitter orange), Lemon, Bergamot, Jasmin, Cistus, Bourbon, Geranium, Cedarwood, Vetiver, Vanille, Patchouli and Ambergris, according to Luckyscent. Tauer Perfume website also mentions cumin and rock rose). It's about that special thing that happens when I put it on.

I've never been to Morocco, but the journey I'm taken on is a trip into myself. It feels like Andy Tauer knows me. He knows my secrets, the hidden corners of my conscience, my earliest memories, little quirks, hopes and wishes. He created a fragrance that fits into the aforementioned little corners, that envelopes me in half forgotten bits and pieces of myself. It's dry and spicy, and has warmth like no other scent that I know. But I don't think that I'd have a problem wearing it even in the middle of summer, unless it's one of those humid NYC days, when nothing but Eau d' Hadrien would do, if I am to stay alive. Any other time, I suspect that L'Air's dry heat would complement the weather as perfectly as it does now, when it's bitter cold outside and a bit over-heated anywhere else.

This scent is so masterfully blended that while you can engage in a fun Find the Note game and ponder the complex layers and whatever spice and wood that emerge at any given moment, it's not about that. It's the picture painted, the overall experience that you get during the very long lasting wear of this wonderful fragrance. It's an EdT Intense, but it stays on more than many EdPs I know. It's categorized as a unisex scent. On my skin it's feminine and sexy, but considering the notes, most men can wear it happily. The Blond has yet to try it. He's far too happy right now with Lonestar Memories.

Le Maroc Pour Elle
(see my updated review here)

I have no idea if the real Morocco smells like deep, dark roses and rich woods. I suspect that as a Middle Eastern country that is mostly desert, reality might vary a little from this Arabian Nights extravaganza. But, I don't care. In the real world, I'm a big city girl, with a preference for a metropolis that sits on the coast. But this isn't about the actual geographic place. It's more about that legendary Morocco of your heart and imagination.

Unlike L'Air, the notes here are far more obvious, and it's a predominately a rose scent. The rose is touched with lavender, as is felt in the clean, almost sharp opening. As it soften and expands on the skin (you can almost feel the way it opens up to reveal more and more of its beauty), the woods come forward, while maintaining the beautiful sweetness of the rose.

A word regarding the rose: It's not your grandmother's rose, and not an innocent, virginal one either. There's depth, darkness and mystery here. There's sweetness, but very far from a Turkish Delight comfort smell. I'd put it in a similar group with Regina Harris' perfume oil, though it's quite different in the way the notes manifest themselves.

Lasting power: excellent. It's there from early evening till the morning after.

I'm the happy owner of one of the 200 limited edition (now sold out) bottles. It's exciting to know that I have something so rare and special. Not to mention beautiful. It might not be my favorite of the three right this moment, as this place is now taken by L'Air, but I have a feeling that come summer, Orris will be used far more often.

My nose and my skin see it as lighter and greener than the other scents. The opening to me is almost herbal, like the plants in my garden early in the season. The rose here is lighter and airy, less femme. It turns leathery soon after and the incense rounds it up nicely. More than the others, Orris seems to be changing with the time of day and outside temperature. It's good now, and I'm hoping for great fabulousness later.

It wears just as nicely on my husband, though he wasn't too sure how masculine it is. I guess it depends how much of the rose emerges on a given day. This is temperamental scent, for sure.

Art: John Frederick Lewis (1847–1928) Dolce Far Niente, 1876

Monday, January 29, 2007

Too Bad

It looks like Adrienne Vittadini is going out of business, which makes me very sad. I've been a loyal customer, especially this past season, when it was getting hard to find flattering and not ridiculous fashionable clothes. This leaves me with very little outside of Saks and Neiman's, and there's only so much Elie Tahari that one can wear.

City Slickers- Tauer Lonestar Memories

I have a guest reviewer today. The Blond, who has been wearing Andy Tauer's Lonestar Memories lately, has a thing or two to say about this fragrance:

I’d like to thank my wife for introducing me over the last year to the fascinating world of niche perfume. I’ll try to contribute here and there my own reviews of the masculine scents I loved enough to buy.
The most recent example being Andy Tauer’s Lonestar Memories.

As Mr. Tauer describes it: “'It’s the scent of a lonesome rider, wearing old jeans and leather jacket, after a long day on the horse in the dry woods, preparing his coffee on the open, smoky fire. I want it to be fresh and light, yet lasting and powerful....”

How romantic! Now, I’ve done my share of camping, hiking and open fire cooking in my days but as I recall, the common reaction of my better half upon my long awaited return home, was always the same :” You stink. Better have a good shower before coming anywhere near me”.

Fortunately, Lonestar Memories delivers a very sophisticated interpretation that combines some of these wilderness attributes with very domestic luxury.

When I put it on, I see myself in front of a burning fireplace, hot cup of Lapsang Souchong tea giving off a rich smoky scent, a whiff of herbs and spices coming off something good that’s cooking on the stove, a vase with wild flowers giving off a sweet earthy smell and of course, a cat in my lap (for the purr, not for the smell).

It’s a unique scent that’s strong but not overpowering. Long staying power with a drydown that is very woody, herbal and surprisingly sweet. I love it.

To me, it's an experience that is as far from Mr. Tauer’s rough and rugged vision as the Non Blonde’s SUV is from seeing off-road adventures.

Urban cowboys and city slickers everywhere, rejoice!

My own reviews of the other three Tauer scents are coming soon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Slathering Season

A couple of months late, but winter has finally arrived to the NY Metro area, which means slathering myself, head-to-toe with the richest, creamiest, butteriest goop I can find. Not long ago, my sister introduced me to Laline, a body care line originally from Israel that is now opening stores in Europe: Several stores already in England, one coming soon in Oslo. In America they have only one location at the moment, in Santa Ana, California.

I tested two products so far. Their Body Souffle (in Vanilla) and the Butter Cream in Nut. Despite its name, the souffle has a texture that is more like whipped butter than an airy mousse. It's smooth and goes on pleasantly. The vanilla scent, despite its claim of including patchouli, is very foody. It's quite strong, which needs to be taken into account before applying perfume, though it disappears within an hour or so.

I did have issues with its moisturizing qualities. As I said, it feels nice when put on, but the long term effect and the level of real skin nourishing is less than I expected. A look at the ingredient list (on the product itself, there's no info on the web site) reveals that among good stuff like rosewood oil and aloe vera gel it also contains mineral oil, sodium lauryl sulfate, methylparaben and Dead Sea salt. My guess is that the SLS is for texture, but I'm not sure I'm happy about it staying on my skin. Same goes for salt, Dead Sea or not.

As a reader of the BeautyBrains I know that mineral oil doesn't harm the skin at all, and it actually creates a very good barrier that prevents moisture loss. However, and this is something I've experienced with every product that contains mineral oil, from baby oil and Nivea up, is that in the dead of winter, when the skin of my legs is threatening to just die and leave me flayed, mineral oil based products just don't cut it. I need tons of moisture and mineral oil simply doesn't provide me with it, while shea butter based creams do work wonderfully.

Not surprisngly, The butter cream was more satisfying. It does contain mineral oil, but also shea butter that makes my skin happy. This goes on thicker, like most body butters, and requires more effort in working it into the skin. The hazelnut scent is divine, even for someone who usually doesn't go for foody smells. It's rich and nutty as expected, but not too sweet. Very comforting without going to the cloying side. The scent isn't as strong as the vanilla and doesn't last as long on my skin. The cream works as well as can be expected from a shea butter product and doesn't require re-applying for at least 12 hours.

Online buying at the moment is only in the UK.  The Santa Ana store is in Main place mall, their number 714-547-1014.
For the upcoming Oslo store, the details are: Karenslyst Allé 9, 0287 Oslo
Tel:+47 22 54 66 06 / +47 411 41 039
[email protected]

Saturday, January 27, 2007

People of the Labyrinths: We are not A*Mazed

Naming a perfume A*Maze is an invitation for trouble, especially if you're not doing anything too amazing. Critics and bloggers would use it to make puns to express their disenchantment with your scent, and you'd deserve it, even if your fragrance is nice. And A*Maze is definitely a pleasant little thing.

However, considering the hype and expectations, People of the Labyrinths' second offering has left me cold. The sample I received was of the EdT, so maybe I'm missing on all the fun that is happening in the EdP version. Maybe all the other interesting notes have gone there to play, but what I tried had no henna, saffron, musk, woods or civet to offer. All that showed up on my skin was a very pretty rose, touched with airy orange blossoms in the opening. It stayed floral and delicate all the way through, which being an EdT wasn't for very long. While it lasted, it was nice, but far from interesting or exciting.

It's as rosy as a fragrance can get. It's delicate and pretty, but reminded too much of YSL's Paris, just without that sour plastic note that ruins it for me. It would appeal for those rose lovers who prefer their juice on the light and pretty side. I belong to the dark side and favor the dirty and mysterious roses. A review of one is in the works.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Told You So

My complaints about recent fashion trends aren't a secret. I've blogged and talked about it with anyone who would listen. Basically, my point has always been: These things (80s fasion, bubble skirts, tops and dresses that make you look pregnant) aren't flattering, therefore should not be worn.

Anna Wintour, in her "letter from the editor" has been laughing at me for months, promoting the "new volume" and other weird ideas. However, it seems that I'm no longer the only one who thinks that while the empress isn't naked, her new clothes are giving her proprtions that belong in a circus. In the latest issue of Vogue, the featured question on "Ask Mrs. Exter" is this:

"... I am dating again and need a wardrobe that is sexy but not tawrdy, that shows curves rather than throws ironic curve balls that only fashionistas understand.
...Dresses are the big news in the current collections, I see, but I am dissuaded by many of the styles, such as the baby doll, the Empire waist, party poufs, and those frocks I can describe only as tulips extermis. Where can I find pretty, pleasing dresses that are not too short, too sheer, or too weird to please a man, and please myself, Mrs. Exter?"

Mrs. Exter offers some insight. From the idea behind the creation of Empire style (Napoleon pushed it at a time he was all about promoting French fertility and worried that the corset interfered with pregnancy), to the forgotten secret that "The waist is one of the more seductive zones a lady has to show for herself!".

She goes on to chat with the owner of a trendy fashion store from Dallas, Brian Bolke. He tells her: "Men understand anything with a waist. They don't understand Empire or baby doll. I can't tell you how many dresses we've had returned because although somebody amazingly chic has bought something amazingly chic, she nonetheless walked down the stairs of her house and her husband said, 'What in the hell are you wearing?' "

Can I get a big Hallelujah here? Seriously, what Mr. Bolke is saying is very simple: Men see women's clothes in simple terms. A dress is either pretty and flattering or it isn't.
My question is: If it's not making you look pretty, why wear it? Maybe someone is going to wake up from this design nightmare and start making beautiful clothes again.

Pictures are from (there's plenty more ridiculous stuff where it came from).

Shielding Season

The latest development in the fight against dry skin seems to be shielding lotions. It makes sense, since they are not marketed as a feminine luxury item, have no scent to speak of and are something that everyone who suffers from dry winter skin can keep at their desk and use as needed. The bottles are anything but girly and cutesy, very much like Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula hand cream, that men and women are equally happy to use.

The first lotion of this kind I have tried, SkinMD Natural, has earned my love and devotion and even made its way into my list of favorite products for 2006. It was that good. I keep my bottle close and enjoy the relief it brings to my hands and non-stickiness. I use it on any body part that seems to need it and in emergency it even goes on my face.

The latest shielding lotions I tried, Gloves in a Bottle, is different that SMDN, and while a reasonably okay product, it's nowhere near as good. I only tested it on my hands, the part that gets dry more frequently and that I don't slather with body butters as much as I do the rest of my body, because of the stickiness factor. My cats can live without becoming greasy, and so can my keyboard.

While SMDN gives my hand a feeling of being well moisturized and I can feel the calming effect instantly, GiaB did soften the back of my hands but gave me a tight, dry feel in my palms. Clearly not what I was after. It does have the shielding effect, and kept my hands from becoming drier while out in the cold, but it didn't add anything to a skin that already felt dry. My guess would be that it would work well for someone who needs only the protection part of the shield, since it does form a nice barrier from the environment, but if you're looking for some serious healing action, this isn't the right product.

A look at the list of ingredients shows just how different this is from SMDN. My guess is that more than all the plant extracts that aren't used in GiaB, what makes SMDN so great is the aloe vera gel. The stuff heals, hydrates and gives skin a serious boost. While Gloves in A Bottle may be an effective protection against the elements, my already dry skin needs more than that to be happy.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Parfumerie Generale- Aomassai

The Blond and I rarely disagree about fragrance (and most everything, actually. Ten years of marriage have made us eerily similar, well, except for him being blond, and me- not so much). We seem to love the same things on ourselves and on each other (a noted exception here was his reaction to my Anat Fritz on his skin). But, Parfumerie Generale's Aomassai has presented a serious challenge to this harmony. He didn't like it when I first tried it on and really hated it the second time around. To him, it smells like vanilla with a side of rotten. He only gets the gourmand side of this Pierre Guillaume creation, without any of the wood and dry spice, and the foody element smells rotten to him. I have no idea why.

It's not that I don't get why he finds the scent disturbing. Aomassai has a weird note that never goes away. The listed notes all seem harmless enough (caramel, toasted hazelnuts, licorice, bitter orange, spices, wenge wood, vetiver, balsam wood, incense, dried grasses, resins), except, maybe, the licorice that many people find objectable. But I doubt that it's the case here. The thing is, that I sort of like this weird note. Or at least, I can't keep my nose away from it.

I can't help but think of model/actress Rossy De Palma, famous for being ugly and beautiful at the same time (and that nose!). I tried to find photos from a story she did for Vogue about 15 years ago that demonstrated this quality perfectly, but they don't seem to exist online. Her face is hypnotic. One moment she's ugly and all you see is her nose. But you still can't take your eyes off this face, and suddenly you see her beauty and her striking features.

To my nose, Aomassai is just like that. The first thing I smell is Frangelico. A mix of booze and hazelnuts. It's rich and caramely, tempting with sweetness, yet the weirdness is there, somewhat medicinal, and can't be ignored. Later come spice and wenge wood, a note I adore. It keeps the liqueur feel and sweetness, though less foody by the end of it. Still, Rossy and her nose are there, keeping the fragrance from floating quietly into a pretty drydown. I keep sniffing my wrist, fascinated and... not repulsed, maybe taken aback just a little. I like it. I think.

Next fragrance review will be something way less controversial. The Blond and I will team to talk about Andy Tauer perfumes, which we both adore.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Smooth and Smoother

I've had this tub of Clarins Toning Body Polisher sitting there for a couple of months. It was waiting, unopened, in the wasteland that is the vanity storage space. I came across it the other day and decided to give it a go and see how it compares to my favorite scrub, Maryam's.

Next to Maryam's homespun product, Clarins' packaging looks slick and sophisticated. The scent is more subtle and the texture is finer. It comes with a plastic applicator that helps mix the salts and sugar granules with the oils before applying to your skin.

The polisher goes on easily, sloughs off dead skin and feels rich and creamy enough to be pleasant. However, despite its content of hazelnut oil, shea butter and palm oil it isn't as nourishing and moisturizing as promised. Actually, I suspect that this product goes a bit overboard with skin stripping.

Unlike Maryam's scrub that leaves my skin feeling like it needs very little moisturizing post use, here I needed to put on lotion right away. Also, after several hours it was evident that lotion wouldn't be enough and there's a need to use the big guns.

Now, I'm not saying that this is a bad product. It isn't. It's pleasant to use, it exfoliates nicely and it smells fresh and sharp. But if you have very dry skin and it's the dead of winter, you need to make sure that you butter up your skin thoroughly following use. Also, I wouldn't say that it delivers on its promise of luminous skin. Not on my skin or this time of year. It's just a decent scrub.

Bottom line: Maryam does it better, and for half the price.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Badgley Mischka Perfume

I should have known better than to subject my wrist to this fragrance. I did know that it was fruity, after all. But last Monday while at Sephora I was looking at the bottle of Badgley Mischka and remembered that one or two of the bloggers found it quite nice, and even I, while sniffing the bottle at Neiman's or Bergdorf (can't remember which) thought that it wasn't half bad. And, the two gentlemen do make really nice dresses that even the Olsen Twins can't ruin.

I sprayed.

The first hit was of a full-bodied fruit punch. Strong, sweet and very red. I don't object to such drinks, but under no circumstances do I want to smell like one. The way this fragrance developed only intensified the fruit. It became less punch and more jammy-syrupy, still mostly red, but the peach became very prominent. Peach and my skin don't mix well. Despite my very strong desire to do so, I didn't scrub it and hoped for the best- for some transformation that would take the fruit away and reveal a gentler, kinder base note or two. Relief never came.

On my skin it stopped at the peach, or maybe at the creme de cassis. There was some booze involved, after all. But, mostly, the peach ate every other note, and it didn't even reach the floral stage. The patchouli and sandalwood ran away in horror long before, as I should have done.

Excellent staying power, by the way. Scrubbers are always like that.

Covering Some Ground

I had skin on my mind when I entered Sephora earlier this week. My original intention was to have a look at the Nars skin care line, and especially at their brightening serum that got rave reviews from several bloggers. Koneko wrote that it would work as a primer, as well as being an under foundation glow thingy, only with very little shimmer and some serious skin benefits. Sounds perfect, only problem that neither the store on 5th Ave/19th st. nor the one on Union Square had the skin care products. Also, they didn't have the new makeup collection for spring. I wanted to check the Corinthe lipstick and see what was all the fuss about the Habanera eye shadow duo. But it was not to be. Curiously enough, all these products are available on the Sephora web site, just not in the stores I visited.

But I was not leaving without some goodies. I wanted a serum and was thinking about brightening. I have a couple (as in two, actually) of freckles/spots that I could do without (note to self: get very serious about using a sun block), so I picked up Caudalie's Vinoperfect Radiance Serum. I figured that it was worth a chance before I try the really big guns like ReVive that require taking a mortgage. It'll be about a month before I can write a review (4-6 weeks until you're supposed to see results), but so far it feels nice under my moisturizing cream (still rocking Secret de Vie with excellent results).

The other thing I wanted was a new concealer. I'm nearly out of the discontinued Chanel one, and after nearly nine months it's time for replacement. The selection of concealers in every Sephora store (or at any department store, or even Target) is bordering on the overwhelming. There are so many brands and they all make concealer in every texture and consistency under the sun. Trying them on is way less fun than playing with lip gloss. The results aren't that striking and you're forced to pay careful attention to an area of your face you usually do your best to ignore: the under eye (cue horror movie music).

I knew that I prefer something on the creamy side, which ruled out a product or two. Then I decided to zero in on Lorac, just because I dearly love Carol Shaw's products. Everything I purchased so far has been a success, both in texture and color. The tiny pots of creamy Coverup concealer caught my eye and I tried it on. My initial guess that I needed the C3 proved to be wrong. My color was actually C2, light.

The cream went on easily (I used my finger), looked smooth and did magic for my undereye circles. It is as close to erasing them as I could hope for. The color blended nicely with my skin, didn't crease or sink into it, thus avoiding the bad effect that too thick concealer create on my face. It also evened out my skin where needed and brightened that suspicious side-of-the-nose area. It's actually a very light product. It glosses over the dark areas, but it doesn't cover those two dark freckles I have on my cheeks. So, if you need more than a moderate coverage this might not be the concealer for you. But, for a light-handed smoothing and brightening job it's perfect and I couldn't be happier.

Coverup has an excellent staying power (I do use primer most days, but it lasts even without it) and keeps in place through the day or a night out on the town. No fading/creasing/flaking. The first Sephora I went to was temporarily actually out of C2 (as is the website), but the one on Union Square still had several, and has it in stock.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Nose Plays Funny Tricks

My love of the not-quite-feminine woody fragrance has been growing exponentially this winter. It's not that I'm not rocking some powdery vanilla scents or ambery roses, but some days it's all about bark, resinous sap and evergreen treetops.

Heeley's Cardinal isn't supposed to be in the evergreen category. The notes as listed on Luckyscent are incense, cistus, grey amber, patchouli, vetiver. Reviews all over the net talk about darkness and church. Being Jewish, I'm not exactly the biggest authority on such matters, but I swear, on my skin it was just pine. My skin has eaten every note and all the depth and left me with nothing but the memory of pine-scented liquid soap from my childhood (to which I developed a terrible itchy allergy). It wasn't so bad once I layered it with my beloved Anat Fritz, though. It added a much needed dimension.

Woody fragrances are perfumes that I try to share with my husband. Sometimes with interesting results. The first time I tried Anat Fritz he quite liked it on me. What's not to like? Lavender, cedar, sandalwood and a few other dry woody notes. I've talked about it here and have gotten a full bottle that I enjoy very much. I still need to decant it into a spray atomizer, so I can use it on my sweaters and coats, but in the meantime I enjoy wearing it. A few weeks ago, I asked my husband to wear it. I figured that he'd enjoy it just as much as his Gris Clair.

The results were quite surprising. To my nose it was stunning. Lavender loves him. However, The Blond hated it. With a passion. He grew up on a dairy farm and has spent way too much time unloading wood shaving to line the ground for the cows, which was exactly what this fragrance made him think about. This is the farm boy who didn't flinch when smelling Ferme Tes Yeux. He just couldn't stand the cage lining note here.

It is no wonder that the first time I tried Diptyque's L'Eau Trois he had a similar reaction. So much so, that I washed it off immediately, not letting it go past the opening, which is very cedary in its most woody interpretation. But I had to try it again. I put it on one day when The Blond was still at work. The wood chips were quickly gone, replaced with this gorgeous aroma of sun-soaked Mediterranean shrubs and herbs. I could smell the dusty green quality of the green, the crispness of the twigs, and the feeling of a long sunny afternoons.

The beauty of this drydown was not lost on my husband. He approves a full bottle. Maybe I'll even share it with him.

(A big thank you to March from Perfume Posse for the sample and this new love)

From InStyle

February issue of InStyle has Eva Mendes in three makeup looks. She is quoted there saying:" When I first started acting, there weren't many products that worked with my skin tone, so my skin always looked gray". I know exactly what she's talking about. It's the curse of the olive skin. Fortunately, it seems like things are getting much better and the selection is getting bigger every month.

The three looks, Icy Shimmer, Rosy Flush and Winter Tan, are all very pretty, not overdone and seems easy enough to achieve. No weird colors were selected. The products listed cover a wide range, from Giorgio Armani tinted moisturizer to Revlon bronzer, and most are easy enough to find. I'm keeping these pages for future shopping reference.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Once upon a time it was 1992. Everyone and their sister were wearing Calvin Klein : Either Escape or Eternity (their mothers were still wearing Poison). Then came Thierry Mugler and created his chocolate infused fruity-floral, which became the scent of the decade and stank up elevators around the globe.

Try as I might, I can't think of another gourmand fragrance that gained this much popularity prior to Angel. I actually think that this was what started the trend (epidemic?) of "yummy". Perfumes used to smell sexy, seductive, pretty, clean, dangerous... Not edible. Can you imagine one of the great houses of yore creating a scent that would make you think of fudge?

The "yummy" factor makes the Angel wearer want to bathe in it. Hence the very successful line of Angel bath and body products. And the amount of the stuff sprayed by the fans. Now, I'm the last person who can complain about strong perfumes and the amount sprayed. I love my fragrances, I want to smell them on myself for hours and I want you to smell them on me. And, I expect compliments on my good taste. But even I have to put the limit somewhere, and making the entire room, movie theater, or subway car smell like this chocolaty melon and peach concoction is criminal.

Angel has spawned countless imitators and several legitimate offspring. I'm actually fond of Angel Innocent, because it lacks the harsh fruity opening with the weird chocolate, and instead there's a honeyed musky dry-down that works quite nicely on my skin. The amber helps as well.

Angel haters can be divided to two groups. The first is the anti patchouli people. I'm not one of them. While there are many examples of patch gone wild, I'm more likely to enjoy it. I belong to the group who recoils at the fruity blast of the opening. Melon and peach are among the notes I dislike most and never work for me. It's everything I dislike in a fruity floral, and no amount of chocolate can help it.

This is why, upon reading Marina's review of Il Profumo's Chocolat Frais I wasn't all that thrilled at the chance of trying it on. But I did have the sample and I do write a beauty blog, so there I was, applying this fragrance to my skin...

The bad news is that Marina was right. It's another Angel clone, from the first pineapple note (funny how often a chocolate note turns pineapple. Some smell it in Tom Ford's Black Orchid, while I have no idea what they're talking about, but I fully get it here). It develops very much like Angel and gives the same foody vibe.

The good news is that it's not as bad or as fruity. It's a kinder, gentler Angel. When the pineapple goes away, the feel of it is closer to Angel Innocent, even if not as musky and not as long lasting. It's an okay fragrance, really.

The only question is: Why?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Elizabeth Arden Exceptional Lipstick Beauty (#38)

The other day I was looking through my makeup stash and found an Elizabeth Arden lipstick I got as a GWP from StrawberryNet. It was still in it's original packaging and I've never even looked at the color. Upon opening it, I discovered a really nice muted red. It has a bit of a brownish undertone, along the lines of Lancome's (old) Sugared Maple or Dior Addict Digital Brown. It's Exceptional Lipstick number 38, aptly named Beauty and it works for me as a daytime red.

Like most long-wearing lipsticks, I found its texture to be a bit dry. It requires a balm underneath and a gloss on top to feel really comfortable. Besame's red berry lip glaze gave it the nice shine that I was looking for. All in all, not bad for something I forgot I had.

Speaking of Elizabeth Arden, am I the only one raising an eyebrow at their ad for the new Intervene moisturizer and lotion? I saw it on page 13 of February Lucky magazine. It features Catherine Zeta Jones who has been photoshopped within an inch of her life, to the point that she's barely recognizable. Good thing that her name appears on the ad, so we can be sure that it's actually her. But it's not just Catherine Z's face. Apparently, she's now sprouting Keira Knightly's stick figure arms. Only problem is that the torso is still hers and the proportions are slightly off.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Orange: On a Bad Note

I've mostly given up on trying to predict a reaction to a scent based on a single note (or notes) that I supposedly like or dislike. At this point, the only fragrance element that has never let me down is fig, and I was really hesitant in writing this sentence. Just watch how the next celeb to come out with a fragrance would be someone of a Kimberly Stewart caliber and the scent would be as comparable to great fig scents as Kim is to Stella McCartney.

But this isn't about figs. It's about oranges. Orange in its many incarnations appear as a note in many perfumes and defies classification. It can be a heady bloom or a rich fruit. It can smell sharp and spicy or comforting and sweet, candied or fresh. The options are many and there's an orange for everyone.

Apparently, it can also be cloyingly sweet. Lately, I've been coming across way too many of those. It began with Tocca's Stella. I've written about it here (scroll down a little to get to the part about Tocca). Stella's middle notes were of the orange creamsicle variety. It wasn't bad, just boring. [Six years later: change of mind. Kind of]

Next came Diptyque's Eau d'Elide. From the first whiff until the scent disintegrates and disappears completely (20-30 minutes later), the note I'm getting is of the candied orange peels my mother used to make. The listed note is of bitter orange combined with wild lavender and aromatic shrubs. On my skin, it moves from the very candied and sweet with a tinge of the bitterness of the peel to the soapy and cleaner lavender, but the sweetness is always there in the background. I don't hate it, but I don't like smelling like a candied anything. [Five years later: a massive change of heart. I now own a bottle and a backup]

The worst of the bunch to my nose is Dulcis in Fundo by Profumum. The listed notes are citrus fruits and Mexican Vanilla, and I'm willing to believe that this is all there is to this heavy, cloying pudding-like concoction. It smells completely edible, like an orange dessert, maybe a rich ice cream, until the vanilla cream drydown takes over (it lasts, close to the skin, for several hours).

I like vanilla in many fragrances and there are several rich gourmand scents that I enjoy. This isn't one of them. Smelling like a pastry shop isn't my idea of a good personal fragrance. I want something that blends several elements, that flirts with my personality as well as with my skin. Marshmallow simply doesn't make me feel sophisticated. [Sever years later: nope. Still don't like it]

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mazzolari: Lui & Lei

After the Alessandro disappointment, my expectations from Mazzolari went way down. Which was when I tried the other two samples of Lui and Lei. The result was the two full bottles that are now sitting on my dresser.

Did I spoil the end? But it's all about the journey. Right?

Lui is supposedly a masculine fragrance. The notes are sandalwood, cedar, patchouli, ambergris, vetiver and spices. It's strong and heavy on the patchouli. Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. The impression from the very first note to the drydown is of a dark and earthy scent. The woods aren't dry. The sweetness is kept in check by the spices (cinnamon? clove? It depends. Nothing too obvious).

The earthiness has reminded my husband of JAR's very dank and oakmossy Shadow. I'm not sure if the two are comparable, but I sort of know what he's talking about. The darkness of the wood and the spicy depth of Lui do have something in common with Shadow, but it's sweeter which makes it more wearable for women. Or, at least, for me. I loved it on my husband as well as on myself. It has a lot of presence and gives an aura of confidence. The patchouli here is sexy, not a head shop scent. It's strong and would probably not appeal to those who only go for subtle.
The lasting power is as impressive as the strength, since it's an EdT. I wonder what would happen if they'd ever come up with a parfum version.

On the other side of the spectrum, there's the very feminine and cuddly Lei. It still got the patchouli which keeps it from becoming the scent equivalent of a teddy bear. The opening notes of cocoa and labandum captured my heart from very first moment. It's comforting and cozy, but in a very pretty way, not like a pair of flannel jammies.

Then comes the patchouli, more subtle than in Lui, followed by woods and vanilla. It becomes soft and powdery, without losing a certain amount of elegance. It's a gourmand scent, and the drydown is decidedly vanilla, but I don't think that I end up smelling like pudding. The lasting power is almost as good as Lui's.

The Mazzolari line comes in black velvety boxes that are shaped and open like books. Very cute and appealing to the book nerd (that would be me).
An interesting article in the Times. Somehow, I don't think it's going to impact sales at your local La Mer counter.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Lancome- Blush Subtil Aplum

For many years, probably since I first started wearing makeup, my colors of choice were in shades of brown (day or night, all year long) and bronze (for summer nights, mostly). I don't know how many compacts of Lancome's Blush Subtil in Cappucine and Bronze Glow I've gone through. I'd experiment with color on any other part of my face, but my cheeks remained mostly neutral. I really thought that it's the only option with my coloring. After all, pink looks weird on me, and let's not even go there about coral. They clash horribly with my olive (greenish?) skin.

Last summer I broke away from this rut, first by falling in love with Dallas, which taught me that there are other colors worth exploring. Then I tried another Blush Subtil, this time in Aplum. It is a plummish color, but not too purple, and on my skin it's still neutral, but adds just the right amount of natural looking color that isn't too bright. It looks best during fall and winter, when I'm at my palest (and thus greenest). Highly recommended if your coloring is similar to mine.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Jean Paul Gaultier- Gaultier²

I may be turning into a horrible niche snob when it comes to perfume, but I was still curious about the second-to last Gaultier offering, Gaultier² . It's being marketed as a unisex scent, an idea that I like very much. There are only three official notes: amber, musc and vanilla. The packaging is interesting. Other than the regular 1.3 oz bottle, you can also buy a gigantic 4 oz bottle (what is it with the supersizing? I'd so much rather have every fragrance under the sun come in tiny, 1/2 or 1/3 oz bottles), or a box that contains two 1.3 oz bottles and only costs $20 more than the single bottle. Definitely a great deal for two people who want to have a bottle each.

The fragrance is quite nice. What I smell, more than any of the official notes, is honey. Very much like the one in L'Occitane's Honey Harvest products, that don't include a serious perfume (their Gentle Water EdT is a joke- gone before it hits the skin). It's also reminiscent of what I consider the King of Honey: Serge Lutens' Miel De Bois, only a bit milder.

Unlike MdB that earned a lot of hate (undeserving, in my opinion. I adore this fragrance), Gaultier² doesn't have any of the more complex (or funky) notes, which makes it easier to wear, much sweeter and, eventually, boring. However, for someone who likes honey but hated MdB, this would not be the case. The lasting power is very good, and overall, this is a pleasant scent. 


We aren't having much of a winter here in the NY metro area (not that I'm complaining), and still waiting for the first snow of the season. But, spring fashion is already here. I love the colors of this D&G ensamble, and the purse is adorable. This purse and a yellow dress (a different cut, though) are at the top of my wish list right now (the matching sandals aren't bad, either).

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Last week I spent some time playing At the Sephora store on Union Square. I needed a new bottle of Smashbox primer and wanted to try a few other things, like Becca's skin perfector that I've been very curious about. It comes in several colors, all pretty and shimmery. I tried both the opal and the gold. The latter is definitely too yellow for my skin and brings out the worst in it. The opal was almost okay, maybe a bit too pink. But I realized that even if the color had been perfect, I still wouldn't have much use for it. I love a little shimmer on my eyes or lips, but an all over the face thing would be way too much (and, haven't all the experts been talking about going back to a matte finish?).

The store didn't have any of the new spring collections, though they were already available at most department stores and online. I was left to play with the regular stuff and with what was left of the holiday collections.

I was looking for an everyday highlighting eye shadow that isn't shimmery. I love Lorac's shadows and they didn't disappoint me. Their collection of neutrals and understated pretty colors is quite impressive and I was able to find a color that is light but still pigmented enough to show on my lids. Moonstone is labeled as "shimmery champagne", but it's not a party color and is very appropriate for daytime. It's not as pink as the color swatch from the website and is quite neutral- not a warm or a cool color. I've been using it mixed with a lot of other colors and it blends well into any look I try. It's very versatile, easy to apply and with the use of my Urban Decay eye potion doesn't fade until I remove it.

I also got a Lancome Artliner in the limited edition color, Socialite. I'll ignore the stupid name (who wants to think of the Hilton sisters or their posse while applying makeup?). I'm not including the color swatch, because it appears grey or taupish while in reality it's a very pretty metallic light brown. I usually don't go that light with my eyeliner, but this is very pigmented, defines the eye very well and adds some soft light. I wear it both evening and day, and it works beautifully. For a dressy look I add a little black liner just at the outer corner of the eye. Socialite is very light reflecting and gives a nice glow (I'm thinking of it as the anti-smoky eye look. It's about defining the eye and drawing attention to it, not about looking scary).

My last purchase was another Lancome: Color Fever Gloss in a plum color called On Fire. Color Fever is the latest gloss Lancome has launched to replace their Star Gloss that seems to be getting discontinued (still available on their web site as a Last Call item). It's terrific. The texture is very pleasant, not sticky at all ( a great departure from their Juicy Tubes). It's packs quite a bit of shimmer but not metallic like Star Gloss and not gritty at all. The gloss doesn't have a distinct smell, which is just as well. The best part is the new applicator. It has a slanted handle and a very wide sponge that covers the lips quickly and efficiently. I wish every gloss maker would copy it, as it's the most comfortable applicator I came across. It's not as pampering or as long lasting as my beloved Besmae lip glaze, but they offer more colors.

On Fire is a lovely plum color (no idea why they chose this name, which is quite misleading). It looks like a darker and less sheer version of Chanel's Summer Plum glossimer. On fair skin and lips it would probably be very bold (though it's not as dark as this swatch from their site), but on me it looks natural, the whole "your lips, only better" cliche.


In what universe is this look considered flattering? I really want to know so I can make sure to avoid ever going there. I found this fashion atrocity in an email from Bergdorf. It's a Derek Lam tunic coat ($4990) and slouched trousers ($890). The pants are even more hideous in the closeup picture on their site.

Monday, January 01, 2007

In which I eat my words: Regina Harris Perfumes

Back in June I tested Regina Harris' two fragrance oils: Amber Vanilla and Frankincense Myrrh Rose Maroc. It took me awhile to warm up to Amber Vanilla, but it soon became one of my favorites. I wear it often and enjoy its sophisticated play on old themes. In colder weather another layer is revealed and the amber becomes very sexy.

It was Harris' first perfume creation (she's a wonderful editorial and fashion makeup artist), Frankincense - Myrrh - Rose Maroc, that really didn't agree with my nose that first time I tried it. My impression of a very dated (and not in a good way) scent was so strong and so negative that I've left the sample untouched since then. Until last week. An unknown reason has made me dig out the vial and open it. I expected a blast of a musty aroma, but was blown away. Instead of what I thought I remembered from that unfortunate first testing, I suddenly smelled exactly what the oil is supposed to be about- dark, beautiful incense that's lifted by an elegant rose. Last year, March has called it hippie oil sans patchouli, but I don't get anything hippieish from this scent. On the contrary, there's something gilded and baroquish about it, and all of a sudden I'm in love.

It's probably equal parts the change in weather and the shift in my taste towards the dark and different. I learned to love incense notes and to appreciate earthy scents. It's probably a good idea to save this bottle for the cooler months, but I'm going to fully enjoy it for what's left of this winter.

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