Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Scents the Wind Got: A Joint Project From Two Sides Of The World

Helg from Perfume Shrine and I are collaborating again. This time we've taken on an epic project. Or rather, an epic movie. Gone With The Wind is one of the most beloved movies of all times. It has shaped romance for generations, despite the eyebrow-raising political background.
The perfumes I'm about to associate with characters and scenes haven't been around back then. While some houses like Guerlain have already been in business in the nineteenth century, the scents from that period are long gone. Instead, I chose mostly modern fragrances, but ones that I feel can evoke the right atmosphere.

Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm. Of course, the above sentence which opens the book, does not apply to Vivien Leigh, the English beauty who played the part. She also wasn't 16, Scarlett's age at the beginning of the film, but nobody cares. Most of us saw the movie or even just pictures and scenes from it long before reading the book, and Vivien is forever Scarlett in our minds.

Young Scarlett, decked in whites and greens that correspond perfectly with springtime in Georgia's country side ("...Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills"). We can imagine what the air smells like in April, and I'm pretty sure it involves lush magnolia. But what scent would Scarlett wear? It has to involve white flowers, but at sixteen it just can't be Fracas. The original Chloe is a possibility. It's young and on the right woman can also be incredibly sexy.

The two most important women in Scarlett's life at that time were her nanny-slave, Mammy and her French mother, Ellen. Both spent their days trying to make Scarlett into the lady she'd never be, or at least to polish her exterior enough to fool the untrained eye and make sure she doesn't show her bosom before three o'clock. Mrs. O'Hara did it by setting an example. Mammy- by constant lecturing, chastising and feeding. We all know that it is highly unlikely that a slave, even a loved one who ruled the household would wear any perfume. But Mammy's crisp and clean uniform and apron must have had a certain scent. Laundry soap? Lavender?

As for Ellen, the book actually mentions her fragrance. She smelled faintly of the lemon verbena sachets that were kept in her silk dresses. There was nothing frivolous in this great lady who at age 15 gave up on love and joy for a life of heartbreak and constant duty. I sometimes wish the book wouldn't have revealed the scent. I would have preferred to imagine her in the very French and melancholy L'Heure Bleue rather than in L'Occitane Verbena.

The rich men of South lived in a world full of horses, dogs and barbecues if they lived on the plantations, or refined salons and good whiskey if they were city dwellers. In both cases there were leather, booze and wood. However, Ashley Wilkes, "born of a line of men who used their leisure for thinking, not doing, for spinning brightly colored dreams that had in them no touch of reality". If many of the other young men of Scarlett's circle could have worn Lonestar Memories, with its leather and outdoors notes, young Ashley, who until the war led a gentle, easy existence would wear another Tauer creation, the dreamy Reverie au Jardin.

It's in the Wilkes plantation, Twelve Oaks, that we meet the other two main characters. There's Ashley's soon-to-be fiancée, Melanie Hamilton. Melanie is serious, bookish, sweet-natured, kind, caring and has perfect manners. Jealous Scarlett fails to see her beauty and character, but Melanie is one of those real "great ladies". A Steel Magnolia if there ever was one, devoted to Ashley and to her family. She's still young, pretty and a Southerner. I'd like to see her in white flowers, but not of the man-eater variety. Instead, she'd be lovely in the quiet elegance of L'Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons. The regular, not the extreme version. I can't imagine her with any sillage.

The dashing Rhett Butler has already ruined the reputation of at least one Charleston girl, the black sheep of his family, expelled from West Point and "isn't received" in any good homes. He sees through Scarlett even before the famous vase-throwing scene. Rhett has been around and has learned a thing or two. He'd wear something dirty, sexy, earthy, sweet and dangerous. Serge Lutens Vetiver Oriental would fit him perfectly. It's irresistible with the combination of chocolate and vetiver, just like Rhett.

The next part of the movie takes us to war-time Atlanta. Scarlett is newly widowed, living with Melanie and her aunt Pittypat. Scarlett is unhappy having to wear black, to stay out of the public eye and be the picture of a perfect Southerner lady. She shocks everyone at "The Monster Bazaar," Atlanta's wartime charity ball for its military hospital, where she not only appears despite being expected to stay home mourning, but also agrees to dance with Rhett, who is back in town from one of his blockade running escapades. She's trying to appear proper and demure, but yearns to let her true nature come out and wear her beloved green silks. She's still wearing white floral fragrances, but now they have an edge. There's something dangerous lurking underneath. She might be wearing Serge Lutens Datura Noir, Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture or even Vero Kern Rubj.

Aunt Pittypat, unlike Scarlett, never grew up. A former over-indulgent child who still acts cutesy, does her hair in flirty curls and threatens to faint when she gets over-excited. There's something very not age-appropriate about her, and I'd imagine her perfume to be sweet and fruity. She's wear Cacharel Lou Lou or Lancome Tresor, which suits her even in color.

Another interesting character that's introduced in Atlanta, is Belle Watling, the madam of a local brothel. You can't ignore her, with her red-dyed hair, obvious makeup and bold behavior. She's also a caring person and is Rhett's mistress on and off throughout the movie. She wears Bandit, I'm sure of that.

The next chapter in Scarlett's life sees her escaping the burning Atlanta with Melanie and her newborn son, caring for her family in rundown Tara and trying to save the plantation. She does things she'd never have thought about: she works in the fields, runs the home, makes an outfit out of her mother's curtains and when she can't get Rhett to give her the money she needs to pay the taxes, she goes after her sister's man, Frank Kennedy and marries him for his money, runs and grows his business before burrying him and becomes successful enough to support both her own family as well as Ashley's. Scarlett has come into the realms of Fracas. A real woman's fragrance, as femme as can ever be. She's unstoppable.

Following Frank's death, Scarlett starts drinking. In a memorable scene, she gurgles cologne to hide the smell. Since the classic 4711 has been around since the 18th century, there's a good chance that it could have been the one. But she doesn't fool Rhett. Instead, she marries him.

The next stage in Scarlett's life is big, bold and sad. She wears a big, vulgar diamond, builds a house that's too big and tasteless, wears red velvet, uses rouge on her face and ignores the gossip. She defies every rule and convention about good taste and a woman's place. She's been through enough and feels that's her time to have it all. What's the right perfume for such a woman? She can still wear Fracas, of course, but she needs more. Would it be the rotting Jardenia? The too-much-of-a-good-thing Coco? Maybe a big chypre, like Paloma Picasso. But Scarlett and Rhett's lives and marriage begin to disintegrate and they suffer one loss after the other. Their unborn child, their daughter Bonnie, Melanie dies at childbirth and Scarlett realizes that Ashley was never the right man for her, despite all those wasted years of pining and dreaming.

In the end, she loses Rhett. He leaves her in the famous final scene, but despite her grief she finds her inner strength and knows she's going to figure it all out tomorrow, when she goes back home to Tara. This mature, strong and unbeatable Scarlett can only have one fragrance. It's Onda (by Vero Kern), with it's fiery heart, earth, leather and smoke.

Don't forget to visit Perfume Shrine for another take on the story and scents.

Images: IMDB

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Celebrity Beauty Secrets

Today's edition of Celebrity Beauty Secret is brought to you by the Garbage Pail Kids:

Skin Care, the Amy Winehouse Way

Detox, according to Demi Moore.

Anti-Aging with Priscilla Presley.

And a bonus question: What's up with Renee Zellweger's face?

Photo: DListed

Sunday, March 23, 2008


I forced myself to finish the crappy book I started last week and now looking for something to erase the bad taste it left in my mouth. I'm standing in front of stacks of books, floor-to-ceiling, and have this feeling of "nothing to read". Kind of like when you're stuck with a full closet and nothing to wear. Any recommendations?

Cousteau- The Last Good Day of the Year. I'm not the only one who likes them, right?

frequently worn outfit or item
A pair of show-stopping Emilio Pucci platform boots. I've been wearing them for several years now that they almost qualify as vintage.

Dzing! Sometimes you just need an entire circus.

Sesame broccoli and tofu in a sweet & sour sauce.

Oolong tea.

guilty pleasure
Ferrero Rocher. May the Goddess of Waistlines have mercy on my soul.

bane of my existence
My existence is currently bane-less. If you don't count the guilt from the item above.

Jumpa Lahiri's upcoming book. I loved both her short stories (Interpreter of Maladies) and her first novel, The Namesake.

I'm trying to make up my mind about this dress. I have a DVF habit and I like this print, but I'm not entirely sure about the double-breasted top. My breasts really don't require any doubling action. I wish Diane would just make it into her regular v-neck style.

Please tell me about your current loves and wishes!

Art: Fluttering by JalinePol, Vinings Gallery
Diane Von Furstenberg dress: Neiman Marcus

Friday, March 21, 2008

A mental tour to Haute Provence- Le Couvent Des Minimes Hand Cream

Can a product that comes from a place that look like the one in the pictures above be anything but awesome?

That's the village of Mane in the Alpes de Haute Provence, France. It's the home of Le Couvent Des Minimes, makers of a bath and body line which they claim to be based on old recipes dating from centuries ago, and more important, eco-friendly, not tested on animals, nature-based, containing no animal products other than honey, and only minimal use of petrochemical derivatives (that's mineral oil to you and me, an ingredient that might not be harmful, but makes my poor skin suffocate and dry under its "protective" layer). So it's all good, unless you have a problem with parabens, which was used in the cream I tested.

The line has a L'Occitanish vibe, both in the range of products (sugar scrub, body balm, hand and foot creams, lip balm, soaps, shower gel, and body lotion) and the packaging. The ingredients also look familiar: lavender, honey, shea butter and verbena. I got to try the honey and shea Nourishing Hand Cream, which, indeed, reminds me of a similar L'Occitane product. It goes on thick and has about a minute of very sticky feeling before it's absorbed.

The hand cream has she butter listed at the top of the ingredient list, right after water. So it's not surprising to see how rich nourishing it feels. Oddly enough, my cuticles still prefer my beloved Chanel cream and remain dry without it, but every other part of my hands is happy. Furthermore, I had a patch of itchy, red skin on both arms (always happens when the weather changes). On a whim, I decided to put on some of this cream and practically saw the redness disappear right there in front of my eyes. I'm not sure which one of the ingredients is responsible (there are several oils and extracts listed that may have a skin calming effect), but I'm thankful.

I also smell good, because the honey scent is lovely and lasts longer than I'd expect. The honey scent here is reminiscent of Ginestet Botrytis more than of other (in)famous honey perfumes like Miel de Bois or L'Occitane Honey Harvest. It reminds me of a honey over a well-buttered toast and is definitely on the foody side, so beware and try something else if the mention of these scents sends you running for cover.

I've spent way too much time looking at photos of that area of South France, including drooling over vacation rental homes in Mane and other quaint villages in the area. I had to remind myself that: a) I don't like mountains all that much and b) I get claustrophobic from too much nature exposure. City, please!
It still looks gorgeous, though, and all those lavender fields make me want to roll in them.

The hand cream was a PR freebie and is available for $22.50 at Belk, Dillard’s, Bon Ton and Olive & Company stores nationwide, as well as from Dillard's web site.

Images: Vaucluse and Provence 360° virtual tour

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The case of the mysterious ingredients: Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel

My original plan for today was a review of another cleanser. A pretty good one, actually. But the list of ingredients ended up annoying me, and besides, lately I've gone back to using an old standby, Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel. I've been using it on and off for nearly four years and it never disappoints. It removes layers of makeup, sweat and city gunk, doesn't make my skin feel stripped or parched and has a short and sweet list of ingredients, if you don't mind a little paraben with your papaya. From the Mario Badescu web site:

Deionized Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Papaya (Carica Papaya Fruit) Extract,
Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis Fruit) Extract, Monomide, Triethanolamine,

They don't list which monomide is used here (monomides are stabilizers for detergents that are water-based and contain over 10% of materials that tend to decompose. In other words: a preservative, just like our friend, methylparaben). The other chemical here is used to balance the gel's pH.

Something that isn't listed here is fragrance. However, what I smell from my bottle is neither papaya nor grapefruit. I like this cleanser a lot, but I'm beginning to suspect that the gel contains a bit more than meets the eye, and it bothers me. I sent an inquiry to the Mario Badescu people, so hopefully I'll know more soon, and so will you.

Mario Badescu is a NYC salon and spa. Their products are available at Nordstrom, Henri Bendel and Fred Segal and several locations worldwide. I originally got some free samples years ago, long before starting this blog and have kept buying from them ever since.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Maître Parfumeur et Gantier- Vocalise

The very second I opened the sample of Vocalise, I knew it might not be a very good idea. I haven't checked the notes, but I vaguely remembered it had something to do with fruit. The opening blast, though, wasn't much of anything: just a sharp alcoholic note, the kind you'd expect from far less exclusive brands. Thankfully, it vanished quickly on my skin, replaced with so much berry that my anti-fruit nose was screaming and I was planning a mad dash to the sink.

It wasn't that bad, though. Yes, blackcurrants and raspberries are not my thing, but the blend here isn't too syrupy. I guess it's the quality ingredients that are keeping it from going the synthetic jam way. Not that I didn't have the "No! No! No!" moment of panic every time I tested it again for this review, but I managed to brace myself and deal.

As the scent develops, the florals emerge, and they're nice enough. It's nothing you haven't smelled before. It's mostly rose and ylang-ylang, in a classic combination that would remind you of many perfumes you have probably owned at one point or another. It has an almost Goutalish quality, pretty and very French. But it doesn't hold: not my interest and not my nose, and while Vocalise boasts lower notes such as vanilla, sandalwood, musk and ambergris(!), I would swear that is has no base at all. The fragrance completely disappears from my skin after 15 minutes and doesn't leave even one berry behind.

Many of the MPG scents are available both from Aedes in NYC and Luckyscent in L.A., both are good places to obtain samples. They are also sold at Bendel, Bergdorf and several other fancy stores. My own pack of 30 MPG carded samples was purchased for less than a song on eBay, when it was still a common practice.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Not just for the crunchy set- Eco Tools makeup brushes and bath accessories

As someone who would never wear fur, I've always had a problem with makeup brushes made of animal hair. While I know that not all of them involve cruelty, I'd prefer not having to research the source and origins of each and every brush I buy. I'll confess that way too often I choose the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which makes me a very bad vegetarian.

My life has become just a bit more comfortable with the launch of ecoTools, a new brand from Paris Presents. They offer a range of basic makeup brushes, all made of soft synthetic bristles and bamboo handles (bamboo, as a highly sustainable plant, supposedly has a low impact on the earth’s resources). These brushes and all the other tools in this line look much more sophisticated than you'd expect from a drugstore brand priced between $2.99 and $7.99. The brushes even come in a pouch with a fabric back.

I wasn't quite taken with the eye shading brush, which is too narrow, doesn't grab as much product as I'd like and made for an uneven application. But the face brushes are nice. I find that the powder brush works better with a loose powder than with a pressed one. I'm especially fond of the foundation brush. It works flawlessly with my Vitalumier and I was very impressed with the results. You need less foundation than what you'd use with a sponge or your fingers and it's fool proof. No streaks or blotches.

The bath accessories are made of loofah, cotton and ramie (Chinese grass). They are cute, reusable (need to be replaced every couple of months) and would be a nice gift for a crunchy friend, because again, they look much better than your average drugstore fare. I'd skip the foot file which is no match for the Diamancel, but everything else is worth considering.

The brush set and bath tools I received were a PR freebie. You can find them just about everywhere, from Ulta, Duane Reade and Walgreens to your local Stop&Shop.

Incense Rosé Winners

A few of you guessed that Effulgent had something to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was the last line in William/Spike's infamous poem to his first love, Cecily.

The winners are Gail S. and Maddie. Please email me your addresses!

Monday, March 17, 2008


I'm reading a book I was sent for review. It's a little too much on the chick list side and I'm not feeling it. I hope it improves.

The Mess We're In- PJ Harvey with Thom York. It's a perennial favorite of the shiver-down-your-spine variety.

frequently worn outfit or item
Black knee-high stiletto boots. I have several pairs of black boots, but this one has gotten so much action lately that I need to replace the heels.

You mean, other than Onda?

Pasta e fagioli soup. My own version with a lot of zucchini for a greener, springy feel.

Water. And a lot of it.

guilty pleasure
Pasta in every shape and form.

bane of my existence
Lack of sleep. And it's making me cranky.

For my sister to have her baby. I'm very excited about my niece.

Never to see, read or hear the name "Britney Spears".

Oh, and this Louboutin Clutch:

Please tell me about your current loves and wishes!

Art: Alexander Volkov Farewell to March. Vinings Gallery.
The other piece of art: Neiman Marcus.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Greatest Romance- Onda by Vero Kern

The first time I wore Onda by Swiss perfumer Vero Kern was on a rainy winter day. The streets were grey, damp and miserable. The wind was fierce, but not in a Christian Siriano way. It cut through my clothes, under my shawl , blowing my hair in all directions. But what I remember most from that day is feeling beautiful. And much taller than my 5'3" self.

People in the know (like Helg of Perfume Shrine) compare Onda to one of the biggest perfume legends of all time, Guerlain Djedi. I've never sniffed this 1926 masterpiece, but I'll take Helg's word for it. Onda definitely smells and feels like a creation from a beautiful, romantic, bygone era. It is utterly luxurious, rich and very complex.

This scent, with its smoky opening, leathery notes and vetiver-gone-wild earthiness is wonderfully different than anything else I own. It's unlike perfumes one would come across on the market, and I suspect that there's no chance it can be a commercial success outside the realms of niche scents. This is the opposite of everything "fresh" and "light", and would encounter a thoroughly disgusted look from both your teenager niece who wears Pink Sugar and from your mother who associates this kind of scent with the "old ladies" she remembers from her own childhood in the 40s or 50s.

Let's ignore them.

Onda is Greta Garbo, Norma Shearer, Paulette Godard and Ingrid Bergman. Beautiful, dramatic and romantic. It's smoky and leathery enough that I'm curious to know how it would work on a man. It's almost dirty, but not quite. It's strong, the spiced up vetiver lasts and lasts, but since it's a very concentrated extrait de parfum, the sillage wouldn't precede you. But make no mistakes: those close enough would smell it. Hopefully, they have what it takes to thoroughly enjoy it.

You can purchase samples the same way I did: directly from Vero's web site, $20 for a sample kit of all three of her scents, and almost as much in postage, if you live in the US. Full bottles are also available, the price is on the very high side of things and completely justified and worth it in my opinion. It takes a while to ship, as my husband discovered the hard way, so figure in about two and a half weeks, especially if you're buying it as a present.

Image: IMDB

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Creme of Nature shampoo and conditioner

It's a well-known secret that if you have a very thick and dry hair, the ethnic product aisle is a wonderland full of little fixes and surprises, from carrot oil to ultra-nourishing shampoos and creams. Those who straighten, flat iron or use any kind of harsh treatments on their hair are even more likely to find relief for stressed tresses among the heavy potions and lotions.

Creme of Nature seems to be emerging from under the ethnic label and into greener market. The products are now made with some certified organic ingredients and include a long list of natural oils and plant extracts. However, they still contain quite a few chemicals, colors and the eyebrow-raising SLS (in the shampoo I tested) and parabens (both shampoo and conditioner). It's especially weird that the Red Clover & Aloe Soothing Shampoo, which is formulated for a flaky scalp has SLS, a known irritant, in it. Personally, my scalp is very sensitive and many famous brands' shampoos make me itch terribly, but Sodium Laureth Sulfate does not affect me. I found the shampoo to be mild and rich enough to help detangle my hair. Still, I don't get why they had to use this ingredient.

The big success from this line, as far as I'm concerned, is the Jojoba & Olive Oil deep conditioning treatment. When they say "deep conditioning", they really mean it. It took me a couple of tries to realise that I don't need any additional product after using it. That's a new experience for me: I'm a leave-in conditioner addict, but this heavy-duty conditioner does a remarkable job making my hair as soft and manageable as can be, to the point that any additional product just weighs it down. I never expected such results.

I also tried a couple of the leave-in products, but they were too rich and heavy even for me. Those are probably better for real ethnic hair that has a different texture than mine, and perhaps for chemically processed hair (mine isn't and has never been. For the record, I don't even blow dry it). It's not that my hair got too greasy, but it lost some of the bounce in the open waves and the shine that the deep conditioning treatment gives it.

The products I tried smell soapy and herbal. The scent doesn't overwhelm or lingers too much, and, thankfully, it's not fruity like too many other hair products. All in all, I like the shampoo, love the deep conditioning treatment, but will have to skip the leave-in products.

I received four free products for testing from Creme of Nature's PR. The products are available nationwide at a suggested retail price of $7.99- 9.99. For more details see their website.

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Still haven't finished the one from last week but have already started a couple of other books. My attention span is at an all-time low.

Rufus Wainwright- Movies of Myself (from his Want One album). A beautiful love song. Rufus is in my top ten artists. I love his voice and the mix of opera, pop and show tunes in his music. I saw him live on the last concert of his Release the Stars tour and wanted to take him home with me.

frequently worn outfit or item
A black knee-length skirt I bought in Paris a couple of years ago. It's a thick knit, stretchy that flares at the knee and fits perfectly. One of those versatile "dress it up or down" pieces that go with everything.

I had a serious craving this week for Mazzolari Lui. Yes, the masculine version of the cuteness that is Lei. I needed the dirtier patchouli, so for three days straight I was helping myself to my husband's bottle. It's a beautiful scent from a great house that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves.

Green salad. Baby greens, soy nuts, dried apples, olive oil and fruit-infused balsamic.

Chocolate flavored black tea. Don't laugh. It's aromatic and very satisfying. Since I don't use sugar and only add a splash of skim milk, there's no guilt involved.

guilty pleasure
I watched the first episode of The Real Housewives of NYC. Between being horrified of the show and of myself, I promptly added a season pass to my TiVo.

bane of my existence
Adjusting to daylight saving time. I love the concept (and the daylight) and would like it all year round with two extra hours for summer, but I'm going to feel jet-lagged for days.

Like last week, still waiting for spring. I can't wait to see the first crocus .

This sexy little dress from Donna Karan's spring collection. I really liked the red one above, but it has pockets where no woman wants any extra volume, so I'll settle for the brown dress, probably without the belt. I'm too short to have something so wide cut me in the middle.

What are your current loves?


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Effulgent- Tauer Perfumes Incense Rosé (and a giveaway!)

Part of my process when writing a perfume review is finding an image that captures it. Sometimes it's an art work, other times it's a scene from a movie (an old classic, because that's where my heart is). Unless I have a very specific idea right from the start, I google ideas, feelings, keywords until I find just the right one. Preparing to write about Incense Rosé, I didn't have to do any of that. The kaleidoscopic arabesque that's on the flyer that accompanies the bottle is perfectly evocative of this lovely scent.

Oh yes, if there was any doubt: I love Incense Rosé. A lot.

Just as much as Incense Extreme is a stark, serious with the cleanest lines and notes, Rosé is joyous and exuberant. Clementine and bergamot are not necessarily notes one would expect to find in an Andy Tauer creation. But what they do here is lend a sweet, radiating quality to the Tauerade base. They open rich and almost boozy and don't fully leave until very late into the dry-down, when the very pretty and streamlined rose takes their place, filling and illuminating the gaps between the darker, incensy parts.

As the scent develops, the familiar labdanum and ambergris that form the dry Tauerade emerge. They are spiced and prettified, making the perfume just a bit more feminine than what we're used to, though not girly or predictably femme. It's just lighter, full of joy.

The big surprise for me was deep and late into the dry-down. After the incense, labdanum, orris, cedar and ambergris calm down, I'm left with one of the most gorgeous myrrh notes I've smelled this side of Diptyque L'Eau Trois. And it lasts forever. Both in the air after I spray it and on my skin. It's still faintly there after a shower and demands serious scrubbing to make it go away.

Incense Rosé will be available at Scent Bar in L.A. and their online store Luckyscent starting March 29th. On that Saturday, Andy Tauer himself will make an appearance at the store (click the link to RSVP), to talk about his work and demonstrate some of the ingredients that go into the bottle. I met him last year at the launch of Reverie au Jardin, and can't recommend enough that if you're anywhere in the Los Angeles area, try to make it to the event. It's a rare opportunity to meet such an artist, and a lot of fun because Andy in person is as charming as he is on his blog.

I'm often asked about the best way to try and learn about niche and artisan fragrances. My advice is to start with something extra wonderful that would change the way you think about perfume. This is definitely a great place to begin.

I have a couple of samples to give away. Please leave a comment if you're interested.
Bonus entry if you can guess the reason behind the title of this post, Effulgent (obscure pop culture reference, nothing to do with perfume).

The sample I've been using, as well as the ones for the giveaway were sent to me by Andy. Samples and bottles of Incense Rosé and the entire Tauer line are available in the US from Luckyscent ($90-$100). For European distributors, please see Tauer Perfumes website.

Image: Deszö Bödi for Tauer Perfumes. To read more about the artist and this creation
click here.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Creaseless- Laura Geller Concealer Pen

After last week's TheBalm fiasco, we all deserve a concealer that actually delivers. Laura Geller liquid concealer in a pen with a plastic brush does the work wonderfully. Over the last month it has become my favorite little miracle. I'm using the one in Medium, but also did some testing on the Light, which was a bit too sheer for me. I actually considered buying both and blending them together, but eventually decided that Medium works perfectly by itself in terms of coverage, and the shade is exactly what I need.

I put it on either on top of my regular foundation and blend them together, or, on a good skin day, I use it on bare face. One click of the pen usually dispenses more product than I actually need, so this is my only gripe here. I'd prefer if it came in a tube with a brush or even a sponge applicator. I use the brush to dot the concealer where I need it, and then spread and blend either with my finger or with a tiny concealer brush.

The creaseless wonder melts into the skin, covers everything it's supposed to and stays put for long hours (topped with some kind of powder product). I can't talk about hiding wrinkles, but it covers sun spots, blemishes (without caking on them!), redness on the sides of the nose and that pesky shade under the eyes. I only use it in that area on the darkest part, not the entire under eye (see M. Lisa below, though she could probably use a little more product, since her eyes are kind of bulgy) and it does the trick.

Am I the only one who prefers liquid concealers to the more caulky stuff?

Laura Geller Crease-Less Concealer is available from Sephora, which is where I tested it several times and bought mine for $22.50.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spring Anticipation- A Joint Project From Two Sides Of The World

Helg from Perfume Shrine and I are here to bring you a taste of spring from Europe and the US, in a joint project that will hopefully be first of many.

Early March in the New York Metro area is as far from La Primavera as anything could be. It's cold, the trees are too stark and naked for Cupid to hang out, the grass dull and brown and no self respecting Grace would go dancing on it. While everyone is tired of winter and can't wait for a change in the air, we all know that there's more snow in our future before we even get to see the first crocuses. It doesn't stop us from hoping and anticipating, though.

It starts with a little spring cleaning. Out with the old, in with the new and smelling good while doing it. Caldrea just launched the Watercress Wild Lily collection of home products. It's supposed to be crisp and springy, though I'm not sure how a cool melon accent fits into a green and floral scent. Their French Lavender might be a better choice, and I've always loved the Lavender Pine range.

The "out with the old" process is supposed to leave us with some free space for new. I have a major case of lust for several Anthropologie little romantic tops. Feminine silhouettes, lace trim and fluttery sleeves all say "spring" without overdoing it with pinks and too many flower prints.

The floral accent can come from cute jewelry. Either a single flower pendant ($178, Anthropologie) or an elaborate, romantic victorian choker ($310.00, Michal Negrin, available from Mavrik Jewelry). It's all about the pretty.

The easiest way to make a small change and get into the spring spirit is with nail polish. I've been rocking the cute pinks from Zoya's Blissful collection for weeks now, but there's also a different approach. The India Collection from OPI has everything: light pink, deep pink, rich jewel tones and dark spice. It looks fun, though I'd skip the dark blue. It's a little too gimmicky (not to mention last season).

There's nothing like gorgeous makeup to finish up the look and perk up winter face. Embossed palettes that are so pretty you don't want to mess up are nothing new, but this season there's a lot to choose from:

1. Laura Mercier Violet Eye Color Quad ($38, available from Sephora, Bliss and most department stores). There's a shy violet and a wild violet options.

2. Clinique Fresh Bloom Allover Colour ($29.50, and every department store under the sun). It's another delicate bronzer/all-over face powder, combining a highlighter with a deeper color. I'd skip the very pink Peony and go for the more olive-skinned friendly Almond blossom.

3. Smashbox Green Room Eye Shadow Quad in Bamboo ($32 at Sephora, and every Smashbox counter). This is probably my favorite of the bunch. There's also a softer quad, Blossom, which is soft peach/ deep brown/ taupe/ pearl.

4, 5, 6 are all Chantecaille: Protected Paradise eye and face palettes (both are $90, available from and Trio Les Passementeries, which isn't new but still gorgeous is an eye and face combo with a shimmery overlay ($82 I can't promise it's worth the price, especially since the cheek colors are too pale for me, but it's a beautiful eye candy.

Don't forget to visit Perfume Shrine for a scent-centered spring post.

Saturday, March 01, 2008


I'm Not Julia Roberts by Laura Ruby. Blended families struggle in a suburban setting. The book is far less chick-lit and much more literary and sensitive than both the title and the cover suggest.

The Fear You Won't Fall- Joshua Radin. I can't wait till the full album that's due this summer. I saw him live a few years ago, long before his debut album came out, and have been a fan ever since.

frequently worn outfit
A DVF charcoal cashmere wrap dress. Pretty, comfy and incredibly warm.

makeup item
Laura Geller Balance-n-Bronze. It gives me color and a perfect finish, and I find myself reaching for this compact every day.

Tauer Perfumes Incense Rosé. I'll post a full review in a few days. In the meantime: Oh My God!

Grilled cheese sandwiches. With or without a tomato, it's my favorite comfort food.

Hot chocolate made with almond milk. Despite my love for cheese, I actually try to consume less dairy.

guilty pleasure
Milk chocolate. Yes, I know.

bane of my existence
Stepping barefoot into hairballs.

Spring. I'm over this winter thing.

See the Prada sandals above.

What are your current loves?