Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Tauer Perfumes Reverie au Jardin

There are several variations on the theme of summer fragrance. The one that seems to be very popular lately as seen in the Estee Lauder/Tom Ford bastard child, Azuree, and in Bond's Fire Island is all about memories of sand in your bikini and SPF-less suntan lotion. It has its charm, but it's just not for me. I also stay (far) away from most scents that boast aquatic notes, as they usually remind me really cheap mall scents (or maybe it's just my Jersey imagination).

My summer love is for dark, shady greens baked in the afternoon sun, maybe with a hint of dust, earth and more than a little South European charm, as seen with both Annick Goutal's Eau d'Hadrien and the far less popular L'Eau Trois by Dipyque.

Andy Tauer's Reverie au Jardin is a gorgeous addition to the second group. It's not really Mediterranean, and the greens are less wild. Instead, the afternoon sun has warmed and enveloped a well-tended flower and herb garden. It's rich and beautiful, has the most haunting lavender note I've smelled since Gris Clair, and manages to transport you to that place and frame of mind that was Andy Tauer's original intent.

I was among the lucky ones who got to meet Andy last Saturday on his visit to NYC. There's nothing quite like listening to a great artist describing his passion, inspiration and deconstructing his work into its components, especially when said artist is very charming and funny. Andy brought with him ten samples of some of the pure notes that make Reverie. It was fascinating to sniff each one of them and examine how they all blend in the final composition. His French lavender was unlike any I've come across. I grow several types of this flower in my back yard, but a Jersey-grown French lavender smells different than the original thing.

(Insert your favorite Jersey joke here)

The lavender isn't limited to the top notes. It's there all the way through the drydown (just like in Gris Clair), where it plays well with the oakmoss, vetiver and tonka beans. I know some people who object to lavender perfumes because they remind them of their spinster Aunt Tilly. But this perfume is far removed from girdles and mothballs. It's a very unisex scent. The Blond wears it just as happily, and it has a whole new twist on his skin. He promises to write his own review soon.

On my skin it's not manly at all, and the frankincense-rose combo gives it the pretty angle. While the fragrance belongs in the clean/green category, there's much more to it. There's depth and magic there, and that special something that I find in all the other Tauers.

The sillage isn't too aggressive, which makes it very suitable for a summer day. It won't linger in the elevator long after the wearer has left. The drydown stays close to the skin for a few hours, even more when I use it apply jojoba oil first.

Reverie au Jardin, as well as the other Tauer Perfume creations can only be found at LuiLei in Brooklyn (worth the visit for the great selection of niche fragrance and skin care, as well as for the friendly service) and Scent Bar in LA. The latter is hosting the West Coast launch party of Reverie this week, where Andy will be giving his presentation. Those who cannot get to either store in person, can still order samples online.

Artwork: Reveries by Maxfield Parrish, 1913

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Do you like my lips?"

It looks like Chanel executives have made an important discovery: People who like soft porn are most likely to purchase luxury lip color.

That's the only way I was able to explain this:

I don't find this offensive. Just very silly.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Annick Goutal- Quel Amour! (EDP)

Quel Amour! from Annick Goutal isn't a fragrance you'd expect to find on my dresser. It has the scariest list of notes: pomegranate, blueberry, red currant, Morello cherry, peach (!!!), peony, wild rose, pink geranium and ambergris. As a rule, I stay away from fruity scents, and with a good reason. Mango, peach, lychee fruit and their other juicy cousins do two things when introduced to my skin: turn sour and refuse to go away.

In this case, through some alchemy of notes, there's no little pink umbrella swirling in the air. Only the pomegranate and cherry are detectable, and both show their deep red, sensual side. The sweet, feminine feel is cheerful and bright. It makes me think of a summer day in a lush garden. The geranium is fresh and sharp, almost herbal and it gives a perfect balance to the ripe fruit.

It's a great match for a sundress and a cute pair of high-heeled sandals. This perfume is girly without feeling juvenile and makes one feel pretty. Can't ask for much more for spring that has (finally and reluctantly) arrived.

Photos: AnnickGoutal.com


My favorite radio station, WFUV, is a member-supported public radio. If you share my musical taste (click on my member profile), there's a very good chance you'd enjoy listening to them. They can be found on 90.7 FM in the New York metro area, or streaming live on www.wfuv.org.
Right now, they're doing their spring membership drive. Please check them out and consider becoming a member.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Tropical Dreams

I really wanted to love the limited edition Sand & Surf eye palette from Bobbi Brown. It’s pretty. It’s shimmery. It almost sings of summer on the beach (okay, the Shore for us, Jersey girls).

But I had to ask myself the question: How many aqua eye shadows does one really need?

The answer, unfortunately, isn’t five.

I had to face reality and admit that Bobbi’s light-colored shadows don’t work for me. They are too pale and too sheer, and in most cases don’t even show on my skin. This collection is labeled as ultra-sheer, which doesn’t bode well for me. Actually, I can't say that I'm too impressed with the way they look on the very tanned model. Too California Girl, not much sophistication.

I also have an issue with the whole suggested "look". You don't need to work very hard to realize that the only new product here is the eye palette. The single shadows (Bone and Banana) are part of the regular collection (and I can't wear either one), just like the mascara (in brown and black) and the gel eye liner (black, sepia and espresso).

To sum it up: I'm disappointed. It's interesting to note that the most sensational limited edition from Bobbi Brown was created around simple browns, while everything since (remember the horrible Orchid face palette?) was seriously lacking in oomph. It's too bad, really, because this beachy theme could have been done much better, and the eye shadows look so pretty. While in their compact, that is.

However, there is a tropical beach look that is as wearable as it is beautiful. Earlier this week, I received the "Beauty Benefits" catalog from Bloomingdale's (the one with the hot pink cover). It's full of pretty little things, but one that really caught my attention was Bronze Tropiques from Lancôme. Now, I don't know if it's actually available at their Lancôme Counter, because it hasn't been officially launched , and the web site only offers a sneak peek. But Lancôme boutiques (or at least, the NYC one) already have it, and I had the good fortune to actually play with them at the Manhattan store.

To my delight, the colors are very wearable and flattering, from the light turquoise shadow in one of the two eye palettes to the pretty Juicy Tubes. There's something for just about everyone in this collection. The bronzing pressed powder comes in two shades. My medium-tan skin tone can carry both, so I guess that it depends on application. The two darkest Juicy tubes (one is more berry while the other is a rich caramel) are great (if you're pale, there are also two lighter ones in peach and pink).

I already mentioned the eye palettes: both are great, one has the aqua color, the other is more conventional, but very pretty and still uses the tropical theme successfully. If eye shadow quads are not your thing, there are two super pigmented loose powder shadows. One is bronze, the other one in a lovely pink hue. Both are extra shimmery. If you’re not afraid of high octane color and have excellent brush skills (unlike me, who would end up with this thing in my cleavage and on my cats’ whiskers), then it’s worth trying.

The collection also includes three lipsticks and a couple of pencil liners. No new Artliner, though.

There was only one (literally) sour note in there. Tropiques is a fragrance that was previously limited to duty free shops around the world, and now brings the glory of mango to Lancome boutiques . I should have known better than to spray something with a tropical name on my fruit-repellant skin. I can’t deal with Escada-like scents. It didn’t sit well with neither my body chemistry, nor with Andy Tauer’s L’Air that I was wearing. As far as I’m concerned, the perfect fragrance to wear with Bronze Tropiques is Monyette Paris. All of the island feel, none of the fruit.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bliss- Foot Patrol

It feels almost silly to be writing about bare feet and prepping for sandal season while there are still huge puddles around town, and the temperatures are refusing to rise above mid-to-upper forties.

But, let's assume that bad weather isn't eternal and that eventually our feet would emerge from the depths of wellies, galoshes and boots. Are they ready for exposure?

I've mentioned in the past that I'm partial to most of Bliss foot products. I'm also very fond of L'Occitane foot cream and couldn't live without my faithful Diamancel buffer (the #11 can smooth the worst case of armadillo skin into puppy soft). But the single most effective product I've ran across is Foot Patrol from Bliss.

This cream is a mild exfoliant (it's not a scrub: You massage it into your feet and let it soak) that contains salicylic and glycolic acids (as well as several softening agents like aloe and lanolin). Using it daily has given me the softest feet I've had in years. It's different than regular foot softeners (like the Sock Salve from Bliss, the L'Occitane and every other product that work only as heavy moisturizers), because it gets rid of the old, dry skin (you still need to use a file for serious flaking and callouses, but once you're done with that, Foot Patrol keeps them at bay).

A good foot routine is to use this in the morning and softening socks with a cream at night (you can find reasonably priced drugstore brands that works just as well as the Bliss ones. Their Sock Salve is overpriced and doesn't offer anything you can't get from a Dr. Scholl product, but I do love the actual socks).

I don't like the sharp, medicinal smell. Actually, as much I'm fond of many Bliss products, I find many of them to be on the stinky side. But this cream is so good that I'm willing to tolerate it. Foot Patrol can be found at Sephora, most big department stores and online.

Photo: Vacances en Bretagne, 1956, by Gerald Bloncourt

The Non-Blonde on MySpace

I'm there, therefore I am.

(But Tom is not my friend)

Monday, April 16, 2007

What to Wear for a Nor'Easter? Parfumerie Generale Ilang Ivohibe

I had the best intentions to post a review of Quel Amour!, one of my favorite sunny fragrances. But the weather we've been having is on the Quel Horrible! side, and requires something even more cheerful. Enter Parfumerie Generale, a house that never fails to enchant me.

Ilang Ivohibe might have an impossible to pronounce name, but the scent is very wearable. The notes (ylang-ylang, citrus orange, jasmine, vanilla, tree woods, musk) could have gone very wrong (how many white flowers and vanilla scrubbers can be found on the market?), but in this case the result is mellow, sunny and almost cozy.

The opening notes are very floral, and on my skin they had a soapy and almost sharp early spring quality. But it warmed up rather quickly into a soft, pleasant orange blend. There was something about the mix of fruit and ylang-ylang that for a second I got a similar feel as in Tom Ford's Black Orchid heart notes. But, while Ford's creation is deep, sexy film noir version of the notes, Ilang Ivohibe is more of the Doris Day edition, and I mean it in the nicest possible way.

My skin skims the musk and most of the woods, and jumps right into the vanilla dry-down. It's sweet, alright, but not cloying or candy-like. That's where the cozy aspect of the fragrance starts. It's not a classic comfort scent, because it gives an elaborate, ornamental feel, but it has an embracing femininity that makes a stormy day become much better.

Photo by F.C. Gundlach, 1955


You're at the right place. I promise.

It was time, after almost a year of blogging, to personalize this space. I couldn't have done it without the help of The Blond, who is quick with code and way more patient than I can ever be with things that refuse to look right. I'm happy with the result, but now I'm behind on emails and comments. I'll catch up by tomorrow.

Coming in the next few days: A few more spring-appropriate nail colors, a full review of laboratoire remède super c serum, another Lorac eye shadow, Smashbox Softlights, Sephora Brushes, Bliss Foot Patrol and (of course) several fragrance reviews, though the one I planned for tomorrow, the cheerful Quel Amour! from Annick Goutal is not right for the weather. I also have something to say about Prince William's split from his girlfriend.

I'm writing this in the middle of the storm. It's raining buckets and some of the streets here in town are already flooded. Building an ark seems like a reasonable thing to do. Mine would be filled with cats, perfume bottles and include wireless internet. A girl has got to survive.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Mean and Green- L'Eau d'Issey' Summer 2007 Pour Femme

The new limited edition of L'Eau d'Issey' Summer EdT by Issey Miyake ( L'Eau d'Issey' Summer 2007 Pour Femme) screamed green right from the shelf. The bottle is gorgeous, and even my anti-fresh (and anti L'Eau d'Issey) self could avoid admiring it. My shopping companion was my little sister, a green-lover if there ever was one  sprayed, sniffed and fell in love on the spot. I can't blame her.

To my nose Summer 2007 smelled so green that I could picture each part and fiber of the plant. There's an actual list of notes (green leaves, black currant, lily-of-the-valley, rose, orange flower, peony, tuberose, violet and woody notes), but really, the notes are every part of the plant that's above ground, stem and all. My sister finds it light and fresh, and I suspect that those who like green, grassy scents would adore this one. Even I almost liked it.

Quote of the week belongs to my brother-in-law who upon sniffing my sister's neck declared: "It smells like chlorophyll".

*2013 edit-- my poor sister is as in love with  L'Eau d'Issey' Summer 2007 Pour Femme as ever. She wore it through both her pregnancies as it was the only perfume she could stand. I've bought her every single bottle I could find; begged and pleaded with every online dealer I know, but here we are, six years later and it looks like nothing is left. I think I need to get her hooked on something new.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Quoted- The Non-Blonde in The NY Times

Remember Lancome's Proenza Pink? It's still making headlines. This time, The New York Times has something to say about it, and in the process they quoted several bloggers, including me. I'm tickled (pale, chalky) pink.

P.S. thanks to Kerry from Lancome for letting me know.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Annick Goutal- Grand Amour

It's spring, so lovely florals are in order, which is a bit of a problem, considering that many of my favorite fragrances, with their wood, spice and leather notes are dark and brooding. Not exactly the thing to wear for a day in the botanical gardens.

However, I do own a pretty scent (or two, or...), and there a few lovelier scents than Grand Amour by Annick Goutal. It might be the most "perfumy" of all the bottles in my collection. There's something very lady-like and classic in it, from the first blast of hyacinth and honeysuckle of the top notes (the lily doesn't bother me here) that is almost too pretified for me, but not quite. The rose and jasmine give it enough wicked sensuality to keep it from becoming too white gloves and the Queen's garden party.

Grand Amour remains very beautiful, almost heartbreakingly so, as it develops on the skin. The official site calls it "serene" and I have to agree. It's quiet and deep, but never too heavy or too solemn. The amber-vanilla-myrrh dry-down is perfectly balanced to my nose, never gets too sweet or too sharp. It retains a degree of youth and magic even when it reveals the more sensual and knowing face.

The story behind the scent is of love and devotion. Annick Goutal has created it for herself, to capture her love for her husband. What's better than a spring fragrance made with and for love?

Annick Goutal Grand Amour ($160, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

In what universe is this considered a flattering look?

I love J. Crew, but this is just awful:

Between this kind of offering and the entire collection from Anthropolgie that looks like a cross between maternity-wear and an art teacher on crack, my credit card is happy, but my closets are weeping in despair.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Old School

Take a second and try to answer this:
How many mini tubes of Lancome's Defincils mascara do you have right now in several makeup bags, purses and emergency stashes?

I'm old enough to remember the days that Defincils was the default "good" mascara. It has pretty much set the standard for a hard-working, non-clumping lash defining product, giving just a bit of everything: length, volume and color, without being over-the-top. Which was probably the reason why in recent years bolder and sexier mascaras have taken center stage. Also, drugstore brands have improved so much that one doesn't necessarily have to buy an everyday mascara at the department stores.

I guess that this is why Defincils has become that mascara that you get in all those GWP deals, but never actually buy. You use it because it's there, but nobody gets excited about. However, this old standard has gotten an interesting face lift with Defincils Pro. Not of the formula, but of the brush. And the results are surprisingly good, reminding us why this mascara is still worthy of our drawer space.

The new brush is curved and lets you access the corners and shorter lashes easily. It's easy to apply and coats the lashes perfectly. The results are full and beautifully defined lashes. It holds a curl nicely, and is up to the usual Lancome standard of no smudging, no clumping and no smearing.

A brand new mascara comes from Besame Cosmetics. It's no secret that I adore many of their products (their lip glaze is still a favorite, and I hope for more colors), and the new mascara is worthy of their makeup line. From the beautiful packaging to the rich black of the mascara itself, the tube sings of old school glamor. Unlike the Defincils Pro and many other modern mascaras, the brush here is thick, wide and barely tapers at the tip. It's harder to control and reach the corner and finer lashes, so I wasn't expecting the beautiful result I saw after just one coat. My lashes looked instantly fuller and bolder, with just a bit of extra length.

There was no clumping or dotting, it holds a curl just fine (though it actually curls enough by itself, so the Shu wasn't really necessary) and stays for hours. However, there are two drwbacks: First, rubbing your eyes by accident may result in a serious case of raccoon eyes. Second: The color is so rich and the formula so thick that it takes quite a bit of grease- elbow and product, to get it off. Almay oil-free eye makeup remover pads barely touch this mascara, so I had to revert to the oily ones, which did an excellent job removing it. Lancome Bi-Facil also works, but it takes more effort and several cotton pads to take it all off.

Frosting- Aquolina Chocolovers

My collection of favorite fragrances includes a few perfumes that are on the gourmand side of things. I love Mazzolari Lei, with its cocoa note, Lea Extreme's vanilla drydown and the rosewater dessert-like aspect of Le Maroc. But none of these really smells like food, and that's how I like it to be. I'm not a cake, therefore no need to feel frosted.

Aquolina Chocolovers Souffle body cream is overwhelmingly foody. It smells so edible that I'd strongly suggest to keep it out of children's reach, because otherwise they'd be tempted to stick their fingers into this tub and lick. Some adults might also feel the urge.

I was expecting to smell chocolate, but the first whiff was all about citrus. Sweet lemon and sweet orange, very candied. The chocolate came next, but was more subtle, like milk chocolate. I'm not sure that it's really satisfying for dark chocolate lovers, and the whole thing smelled more like store-bought frosting than as a rich chocolate souffle.

The drydown is musky, very similar to Lea's. I even tried layering them, and it worked reasonably well. It's just what comes before the musk that I find disturbing and too sugary.

The cream's quality exceeded my expectations. It's moisturizing and feels very pleasant on the skin. No greasiness, while doing a fairly good job providing comfort to dry winter skin.