Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rochas- Madame Rochas (Vintage Perfume)

In honor of perfumer Guy Robert who passed away this week, I'm using the last drops I have of a very old bottle of vintage Madame Rochas. This fragrance was created in 1960, commissioned by Hélène Rochas and poured into a bottle of her design  five years after Marcel Rochas' death. In 1944 Marcel Rochas had Edmund Roudnitska compose Femme de Rochas in honor of Hélène, his gorgeous teenager bride. In later years she commented (to Time Magazine) that her late husband played Pygmalion with her, and apparently did so with great success, as his still young widow took control of the Rochas brand and as its CEO turned the label into a huge perfume house. She also became a style and etiquette authority in her own right, which explains why in 1960 she wanted to redefine her perfume identity and do it her way.

Hélène Rochas told W magazine in 1984: "Women should have a fragile air, even if they are not". One can agree or disagree with her, but it's interesting to see how this statement reflects in her perfume. The voluptuous Femme, a Mitsouko cousin, could be called many things, but it has no fragile air. As a powerful executive, 33 year old Hélène Rochas chose to go the dainty way with a floral-aldehyde perfume that holds itself high and may have a spine of steel, but it keeps a very proper ladylike facade.

I admit that up until the last decade this entire genre of aldehydic florals (with the exceptions of Chanel No. 5 and Arpege) smelled pretty much the same to me. Up until I started spending some serious quality time with Caleche (a 1961 Guy Robert creation), I doubt I would have been able to tell them apart, and probably also  confused them with the chilly 1969 Paco Rabanne Calandre or 1971 Rive Gauche (neither are buy Robert, but the influence is quite evident). I've reformed since then, and have fully embraced Caleche in vintage extrait de parfum. Madame Rochas is a bit more difficult for me. I perceive Caleche as somehow warmer (yes, I know), while the very distinct muguet note in Madame Rochas sends chills down my spine. Madame Rochas is greener in the top notes, and while the old formula definitely smells mossy it is not a chypre and is less plush.

I wonder if back in the early sixties one of these fragrances was considered younger and more delicate than the other. My money is on Madame Rochas with its silver bells "voice", though interestingly enough it is Caleche that held slightly better through reformulations and the revolving doors of fashion. Madame Rochas is still a crisp floral, a bit soapy (according to Tania Sanchez in The Guide it's a cheap soapy, but I don't have any of the current juice on hand to confirm) and very proper. I know this style is considered dated, but I love the green chill of aldehyde-infused hyacinth and narcissus especially on hot summer days. It doesn't last beyond a couple of hours (might be deterioration due to the bottle's age), but it leaves behind a clean green powdery feel that never turns sour.

Notes (via Jan Moran): hyacinth, neroli, aldehydes, greens, lemon, Bulgarian rose, jasmine, iris, lily of the valley, violet, narcissus, tuberose, amber, cedarwood, sandalwood, moss, vetiver, musk, tonka bean.

Images: vintage Madame Rochas 1960s ads via, photo collage of Hélène Rochas from

Want: Gerard Darel Syracuse 24 Hour Bag

Gerard Darel Syracuse 24 Hour Bag  says and spells summer. They're not new, and apparently have been celeb favorites for quite a while, as you can see in the photos of Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, and Angelina Jolie:

Another version of the knit Gerard Darel 24 Hour bag is the Woodstock, as seen here on Olivia Palermo.

Now to find someone who sells them locally...

Photos: and

Eve Pearl Dual Salmon Concealer (Light/Medium)

Eve Pearl's Salmon Concealer enjoys a cult-favorite status in the makeup industry. Between the soft creamy texture and pinky-peach shades that were made to counter under-eye darkness, it is definitely an versatile product worth of our attention.

I was interested in the Dual Salmon Concealer because it allows you to mix and customize your shade. The Eve Pearl rep matched me to Light/Medium, which seems about right. I use various ratios of the orange and the light peach according to the level of death-face I see in the mirror. Eve Pearl's concealer is extremely soft and pliable, and can be sheered to almost nothing, which is what thin under-eye skin likes best. The formula contains good-for-you ingredients that are meant to moisturize and protect, resulting in a lightweight texture that doesn't cake.

I should be completely in love with Eve Pearl Dual Salmon Concealer, yet I'm not. It's not the product, though. It's me. My eyes are set very (very!) deeply. This means that what appears as "dark circles" is more shadow and the result of my bone structure, not pigmentation or wacky blood flow. Thus, an under-eye concealer that doesn't include light-reflecting/brightening ingredients, will not perform well enough.

Bottom Line: Not a replacement for Touche Eclat.

Eve Pearl Dual Salmon Concealer ($37) is available from

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Frederic Malle- Carnal Flower

I'll be honest: Carnal Flower is not my favorite out of the grand dames of tuberose perfumes. The top spot belongs to Ferme tes Yeux and Fracas in extrait de parfum, and I doubt this is ever going to change, since even Dominique Ropion's Carnal Flower, created for Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums in 2005, did not change my mind. I'm biased, though, because Fracas simply smells better than on my skin, and that tends to skew one's opinion quite a bit. Still, I do acknowledge the fact that Carnal Flower is one magnificent fragrance.

I returned to this Frederic Malle perfume this week after reviewing a sub-par new tuberose fragrance. I wanted to re-calibrate my nose and remind myself how much I love this luscious flower on its many facets. Wearing Carnal Flower was the perfect way to do it, because it's incredibly nuanced and balanced, without leaning too heavily on any one of the flower's characteristics. It also doesn't try too hard to be pretty: Ropion took both the green freshness and the skin-like sensuality of his tuberose and stretched them until they almost touch the unpleasant aspects of reality: rot and decay.  The freshly cut green stems start dying as soon as they're exposed to air; add to that a hint of overripe fruit (hello, melon!), and you get the underside of carnality.

In between, though, Carnal Flower also seduces with the sunshine of other white flowers: jasmine and orange blossom, and tempts with soft white musk. It's not too sweet and is also free of gardenia, making this Frederic Malle perfume one of those rare creatures: a tuberose fragrance that is not too femme (Cedre by Uncle Serge, Histoires de Parfums Tubereuse 3 L'Animale, and JAR's Ferme tes Yeux. are the only others I can think about). A man who loves tuberose should be able to wear Carnal Flower without feeling too self-conscious, something is probably a lot harder to do with Her Grace, Fracas.

Notes: tuberose, bergamot, melon, eucalyptus, ylang-ylang, jasmine, white musk, coconut, and orange blossom absolute.

Frederic Malle- Carnal Flower ($155, 30ml in 3x10ml travel sprays) is available from Frederic Malle boutiques, Barneys, and Aedes, as well as online.

Art: Tuberose by Yulia of

Rouge Bunny Rouge Large Shader Brush (003)

Rouge Bunny Rouge makeup brushes don't get the same amount of attention as the color products receive, and it's a shame, really, because these tools are top notch. Take, for example, Rouge Bunny Rouge Large Shader Brush (003): It has a thick medium size head of soft natural hair (pony, which picks and holds more product than soft squirrel hair usually does). The brush is large enough for an all-over lid application and has enough bounce and fluffiness to blend it nicely.

As you can see, Rouge Bunny Rouge Large Shader (003) is of similar proportions to the magnificent RMK's Eye Shadow brush L. It's not quite as thick, but close enough, and is not much different in performance, unless you're using ultra soft, sheer, and shimmery Japanese eye shadows. In that case go with the RMK brush for an even application and minimal fallout. Other brushes in this category, Sephora Pro #12 (formerly the Platinum Collection) and Sue Devitt Refined Eyebase brush (the medium size of the three eye brushes by Sue Devitt), are flatter and not quite as soft and luxurious.

Bottom Line: Excellent.

 Rouge Bunny Rouge Large Shader Brush #003 ($26) is available from Beautyhabit in the US and Zuneta if you're elsewhere in the world.

Chandler Burr Launches Untitled Series On OpenSky

Many of us tend to get cranky with perfume marketing. You know the drill: a new perfume is launched, be it a mainstream designer fragrance or a semi-obscure niche one, and the marketing team behind the brand spends way too much time, money, and energy, weaving a story or adding an air or exotic mystery around it. That is, when they don't just slap an overly sexy (borderline soft porn) image to try and convince us that this is the way to make ourselves irresistible. Do they really think we're that dumb?

 (yes, they probably do)

Chandler Burr, he former scent critic for The New York Times and the curator of The Department of Olfactory Art at New York's Museum of Arts and Design, wants to strip the hype away from the perfume and see what happens. Burr partnered with OpenSky, a new online store. OpenSky offers collection of various items, hand-picked by experts, celebrities, and reality TV personalities. While some of the items on OpenSky are not very new or interesting, Chandler Burr's Untitled series is probably the most fascinating experiment in perfume anti-marketing I've come across. Once a month, he will choose and offer a fragrance in a 50ml lab bottle. There will be no label, title or any identifying details, and no purple prose describing it. The perfumes themselves are not new launches: they're already on the market, some more famous than others. Burr will choose scents he thinks are worth our time and effort because they are good and make an artistic point, no matter if they're mainstream or niche, old (late 19th century) or new; the styles of the perfumes will vary. From the press release:
There will be only 100 bottles available in the series, 100 bottles available in June, followed by a limited number to follow, depending on the scent. The first fragrance called S01E01 (Season One Episode One) and will launch this Friday, June 1st on OpenSky. The identity of the scent as well as more about the artist who created it will be revealed to shoppers on the last day of June. The series will continue with a new launch on the first of every month and a subsequent reveal on the last day of each month.

I think this is an important exercise that has the potential to make a serious point about perfumes and the people who buy them. I'm curious to see how it goes and what will be the chosen perfumes. I hope it will have some positive impact on the industry, but maybe that’s being too optimistic. At least we can have fun trying to guess and figure out the juice in the Untitled bottles. What do you think? Will you give it a try?

Photo of Chandler Burr courtesy of

Lancome Artliner Waterproof Gold Passion (103) Summer 2012 Precision Point Eyeliner

Lancome Artliner has been a permanent fixture in my collection for about twenty years. It used to be one of the first and few felt tip eyeliners on the market, and had set the standards for ease of application, performance, and longevity. This season Lancome is offering a waterproof version, Summer 2012 Precision Point Eyeliner, in three colors: Gold Passion (103), Bronze Desire (104), and Pink Luxe (200). I chose Gold Passion, a blackened, brassy, dirty gold.

The waterproof formula of the summer Artliners seems to have required Lancome to change the applicator. This is not a pen, but a foam-tip that's dipped in the tube. I'm not the biggest fan of foam tips because they can be extremely floppy (I assume to protect one from stabbing herself in the eye, for which my klutzy self is thankful). Lancome's version is pretty solid, or at least I've seen a lot worse. It's easy enough to use and with some practice can yield a nice fine line. Since Gold Passion is not too dark or harsh, I actually like to draw a thicker line than I would with black or dark brown. The metallic finish is not glittery or too obvious, and it plays well with many eye shadows and/or a navy blue mascara.

Lancome's new waterproof  formula is also different from the original by being somewhat flaky. I prime my lids religiously, so I never experienced a problem while actually wearing this Artliner, but when I remove my eye makeup this eyeliner comes off in chunks and flakes, so you should take extra care to prevent the debris from wandering off into the eye (and keep eye drops handy, as I learned the hard way).

Bottom Line: Nice. I wish for a similar color in the regular line.

Lancome Artliner Waterproof Gold Passion (103) Summer 2012 Precision Point Eyeliner ($29.50) is available at the counters and from

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Isabey- L’Ambre de Carthage

Add another perfume to the list of ambers I didn't know I need:  L’Ambre de Carthage by Isabey.  Isabey is a veteran perfume house that was originally in business between 1924 and 1941. It saw quite a bit of success, including a gold medal in perfumery at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Isabey shut its 20 rue de la Paix doors at the onset of World War II. The brand was resurrected in the last decade by Parfums Panouge, a company that also owns the new incarnation of Jacques Fath. Panouge has been slowly releasing modern versions from the Isabey catalog, starting with the classic Le Gardénia. Last year they launched  L’Ambre de Carthage, a marvelous dry incense and amber fragrance that has me whimpering with pleasure.

 L’Ambre de Carthage is somewhat related to Josef Statkus and Tauer's L'Air du Desert Marocain. It's tamer than both, some might even say more balanced. It's definitely not a sillage anvil, though the fragrance has more than enough presence and bite. It is an amber, after all. The people at Luckyscent have placed  L’Ambre de Carthage at the very end of the masculine part on the gender spectrum. I guess it's because this perfume doesn't have even the faintest whiff of vanilla, amber's long-time partner. Still, I can't perceive this gem as anything but unisex, and most women who love dark incense fragrances will not want to miss this one.

 L’Ambre de Carthage is warm and a bit dusty. It gives the impression of treasure chests full of exotic goods, rare and highly coveted spices and tea (the list of official notes says jasmine tea, but  it might as well also be oolong of the highest quality). The boxes are made of precious woods, decorated with colorful stones and are sitting open and invited in a dark cavern full of incense smoke and perfume oils. Don't you just want to roll in it? I know I do.

Notes: Cistus, Bergamot , Osmanthus, Jasmine Tea, Patchouli, Amber, Sandalwood, Olibanum, Musk.

Isabey- L’Ambre de Carthage ($160, 100ml EDP) is available from Luckyscent and Twisted Lily.

Images: Isabey perfume ads from 1924-1929, via

New From Laura Mercier: Mystere Eye Colour Duet, Cocoa Suede Nail Lacquer- Sneak Peek

I stopped by my local Saks (The Shops At Riverside) to see what's new and discovered a brand new collection from Laura Mercier. It's so new and doesn't appear anywhere on the web yet, that this is kind of a scoop, I guess. Laura Mercier's pre-fall 2012 (I think it was called Film Noir, but I didn't take notes and was not allowed to photograph the display) is elegant, dusky and I could have easily grabbed it all right then and there. I showed restraint and only picked two items so far: An eye shadow duo in taupe and navy called Mystere, and this gorgeous nail polish in Cocoa Suede.

The collection includes a second Eye Colour Duet called Suspense, featuring a pretty standard peach and bronze shades. There are two other nail lacquers: a warm not quite peachy mauve that looked like RBL Om and Butter London's Tea With The Queen had a baby, and a sheer ivory loaded with glitter. The display also had four brown-based lipsticks (really nice) and an aubergine mascara.

Swatches and reviews coming soon, and probably another visit to Saks.

Makeup Look Featuring Laura Mercier Turquoise Caviar Stick Eye Colour

Here's me questioning my sanity as I'm sitting outside (it's 90 degrees at the moment, with killer humidity). I applied my makeup as I normally would, without compensating for camera washoutiness and sweat.

Here's what I used:
Face- Sue Devitt tinted moisturizer in Moorea with a light dusting of Burberry compact foundation #7 for extra coverage applied with a Hakuhodo Itabake brash.
Eyes- Paula Dorf eye primer,  Laura Mercier Turquoise Caviar Stick Eye Colour applied straight from the pencil and smudged with Space NK domed brush. Eye shadows are the top two tiers from LMdB Le Cirque Kaleidoscope applied with Hakuhodo S133 and blended with S122. Edward Bess Bess-Lash mascara.
Cheeks- Youngblood Mineral Cosmetic blush in Blossom.
Lips- Bite Beauty lipstick in Pepper.

I skipped concealer, powder and sadly any brow products.

Laura Mercier Turquoise Caviar Stick Eye Colour

This is going to be a Laura Mercier day, since I have some exciting brand new stuff to show you, but let's start with Laura Mercier Turquoise Caviar Stick Eye Colour. Turquoise  was my favorite part (and only pick) out of Laura Mercier's summer 2012 collection. I love the Caviar Stick eye shadows and use them often, so a new summer color was a welcome addition. And, hey, it's turquoise, so how could I resist?

Actually, Turquoise is less of a turquoise and much more of a sea green. Not that I'm complaining. It's a beautiful and summery shade, bright and intense, and I'm lucky to be able to pull it off. Like all the Caviar Sticks, the eye shadow is incredibly soft and creamy, so it applies easily without tugging or pulling. You have a very short window of time to smudge and work it into perfection before it sets. Once set, the cream will not budge. Ever. It doesn't move if you rub your eye accidentally, it doesn't melt even if you're in NYC on a 90 degree day with an insane humidity and tropical rain, it doesn't crease even after 12 hours. The Caviar eye color just sits there, looking cool and fresh long after you have wilted and given up on the day. So, yes, it's a perfect summer product.

Removing Turquoise or most other Laura Mercier Caviar Stick requires a good oil-based solution. Regular makeup remover wipes or micellar water don't work on it. I always use a primer, because that's how I work, but I'll bet money that it's not an absolute necessity in this case.

Bottom Line: the very best.

For a review of the entire Laura Mercier summer collection and a tutorial on how to use it, watch this video by the very beautiful Rae on the Raeviewer.

Laura Mercier Turquoise Caviar Stick Eye Colour ($24) is available at the counters, Sephora, and from

Monday, May 28, 2012

Serge Normant- Avah Eau de Parfum

Is tuberose making a mainstream comeback? I sure hope so, as it'd be a nice enough departure from pink pepper and lychee. However, not all tuberose perfumes were created equal, as is painfully evident when smelling Avah from Serge Normant. Normant is a top tier hair stylist who owns salons and has a full line of luxurious hair products (a review or two are coming soon). Apparently, he also likes fragrance, which made him add a perfume to his brand. Enter Avah.

The formula of Avah by Serge Normant is supposedly enriched with jojoba, aloe vera, and vitamin E. I can't say I noticed any skincare-like benefits when spraying the perfume, but I decided to be brave (#bloggersareinsane) and sprayed some on a couple of mosquito bites I scratched until they bled. Surprisingly, Avah didn't make it burn, so I have to assume there is something more gentle in the juice (and if I suddenly drop dead you all know why). Once I sprayed the fragrance on areas as the back of my hand and my ankle I noticed the texture is, indeed, a bit thicker that that of regular perfume; it also dries a bit like a serum, but without any stickiness. Interesting, isn't it?

As you would expect from the above, Avah is as long-lasting as it gets. This stuff holds onto skin for dear life and is pretty hard to evict. Now, if whoever does the lab work for Serge Normant would send his resume to Olivia Giacobetti we're all set. When it comes to Avah, the pleasure is a bit questionable.

I don't think Avah is too horrible; luckily I really like tuberose and musk, but this blend of flattened tuberose, hand cream, cold cream, more cream, sweet musk, and-- you guessed it-- more hand cream, is really pushing it. Avah blooms in the heat in the sense that it gets bigger and sweeter, but it smells two dimensional. A good tuberose note can play with themes such as a tropical accord, earthiness, a dewy green garden, magical incense and more. In Serge Normant's interpretation there's nothing beyond the thick buttery not-even-accord. It makes me feel like I need some Lactaid after wearing it for a while, and the sweet while musk doesn't help any. It cheapens the dry-down and makes it into a butter-substitute, "I can SO believe it's not butter!" experience.

Notes: ylang ylang, jasmine, amber, soft woods, musk.

Serge Normant- Avah Eau de Parfum ($60, 1.7 oz) will be available June 2012 at Barneys, Bigelow, Serge Normant salons and The sample for this review was provided by PR.

Art: Tuberose by Aparna Deshpande

Memorial Day

Image from

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Molton Brown- Londinium (Navigations Through Scents)

Molton Brown is not the first perfume house to try and capture the essence of a city, London in this case, through fragrance. The limited edition Londinium- Navigations Through Scent is decribed on Molton Brown website as:
May Contain Eccentricity.
Take in a city full of contradictions.
Street style and Royal Parks. Malt whisky on ice.
The flash of coloured lining in a Savile Row suit.
Playful. Charismatic. A capital blend.

Is that how you smell London? I'm not sure if Londinium is my London,  a city I love beyond reason (forgive me, Paris, but I left my heart in Piccadilly Square). But this doesn't change the fact that Molton Brown is giving us a really nice fragrance.

The opening is all bergamot and juicy tart fruit. It's not sweet at all, and actually has a bracing green streak running through it. The greenness is a main theme in Londinium, even as it dries down and some resins emerge. There's something almost smoky underneath, and also a sticky chewy element, but Londonium never loses a green freshness that reminds me a little of the dry-down in Polo (the way it smelled twenty years ago, that is).

The first couple of times I tried this Molton Brown scent the weather was on the cool side and the fragrance never fully developed. However, there's a little more to it in the heat, and when I spray enough, the longevity is pretty decent. While Molton Brown labeled Londonium as a unisex scent, I actually find it more masculine. I enjoy it fine enough, but I have a feeling that my skin is not doing it proper justice because it sweetens the perfume considerably. The husband found it bland and unmemorable. I understand why, but still think that Londinium is nice for what its is.  I wouldn't object to smell it around me,  and one doesn't need to be British to pull it off.

Notes: bergamot, berries, myrrh, oakmoss, incense, aged malt whiskey.

Londinium-Navigations Through Scents by Molton Brown ($140, 1.7 oz) is a limited edition fragrance. Available from Molton Brown boutiques and

Fashion photo by Georges Dambier, London, 1959
London by Drakosha-too on Livejournal

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jean Patou- Normandie (Ma Collection) Vintage Perfume

Twenty three years after the sinking of the Titanic, ocean liner Normandie made its maiden voyage from Le Havre, France to New York. It was a luxury ship, meticulously decorated with everything art deco, and designed to accommodate a massive first class of rich and famous passengers. To commemorate the event, Jean Patou launched a perfume, Normandie, composed by his in-house perfumer, Henri Alméras.

Jean Patou's Normandie is a full-bodied and elegant floriental with an emphasis on carnation and spice. Some compare it to Bellodgia, and as a matter of fact if I were blind-testing I could have easily mistaken Normandie for a Caron perfume. It's probably a result of the way the composition employs oakmoss for bitterness and grounding without the chypre structure. I also find Normandie related to Guerlain's Vol de Nuit, especially in EDT, with similar high cheekbones and casual elegance.

Normandie's opulent flower notes are abstract in the best possible way. The carnation stands out because of the spicy pairing with its sibling, clove. The oriental base is tightly restraint by dry wood and oakmoss that lend it the crispness and what today we'd probably consider a unisex appeal. If Jean Patou's Ma Collection perfumes were still available, that is.

The disappearance of Jean Patou's classic fragrances from the shelves has been lamented here and elsewhere for years. The abuse this perfume house suffered by the hands of Procter &Gamble, its previous owner, did nothing to endear this company to perfume lovers. It was announced last year that P&G sold Jean Patou and its catalog. It is yet to be seen if Ma Collection perfumes will be resurrected. One can only hope.

Notes: fruits, carnation, jasmine, rose ,vanilla, benzoin, oakmoss, cedar, woods.

Images of 1935 travel posters from

Hakuhodo K007 Eyeliner Brush

I was just going over photos and drafts when I realized I never talked about Hakuhodo K007 Eyeliner Brush, a classic thin eyeliner brush, that I've had for longer than I remember. Actually, I have two or three of them, since I use and test so many eyeliners, and this brush is also good for pinpoint concealing.

There are many good eyeliner brushes around (not to mention that you can also use art brushes for this purpose). Most of them look alike until you examine them closely and compare their performance side by side using various eyeliners, until you find which brush is ideal for each task. The uniqueness of Hakuhodo K007 is in the shortness of its hair (weasel. It grabs all the pigment you need in one go). It's closest to MAC 210, though the base of Hakuhodo K007 is thicker. The short bristles make the head non-floppy and easier to control, especially for beginners and those whose hand is less steady.

Bottom Line: an essential.

Hakuhodo K007 Eyeliner Brush ($15) is available from They offer worldwide shipping.

NARS Como Larger Than Life Lip Gloss

I don't remember being as enamored with a NARS lip product as I am with their Como Larger Than Life Lip Gloss. The color, a medium berry with the finest gold micro-shimmer, is natural and flattering; a "my lips only much, much better". The formula of NARS lip glosses has improved greatly and Larger Than Life has am excellent not sticky texture that feels comfortable and hydrating (thus a bit volumizing). It even stays in place and leaves a little color behind better than an average gloss.

The pointed tiny brush applicator can be a bit annoying. It's good for a precise application and helps avoiding over gooping the lips, but it takes a little more work to fully coat the lips. Still, when applying in a hurry and on the go, I truly appreciate the brush of NARS Larger Than Life gloss as a mistake-proof applicator.

Bottom Line: I'll finish the tube before I know it.

NARS Como Larger Than Life Lip Gloss ($26) is available at NARS counters, Sephora, and

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Arquiste- Infanta en Flor

Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain was the long-suffering wife of Louis XIV of France. Neither a great beauty, nor as sophisticated as the Versailles courtiers (and the king's mistresses), Maria Teresa was shy and retiring, but kind to those who showed her respect. It is hard to imagine today what it was like for the Spanish princess to leave her country and meet with her husband (they were first married by proxy) who was also her first cousin on both sides. At age 22 Louis was already a seasoned king, highly involved in politics and international intrigue. The Infanta had little to fall back on, other than her personal items she brought with her and still carried the scents of home.

Arquiste's Infanta en Flor is a homage to the princess, carrying a fan perfumed with orange flower water. Her travel trunks might have contained lace, Spanish leather and perhaps some incense. Perhaps they brought her some comfort in the court of the Sun King.  The fragrance, developed as a collaboration between Arquiste founder Carlos Huber and perfumer Yann Vasnier, is a refined and delicate scent. It's predominantly a cleaned up orange blossom, over sweetened resins and light, skin-level leather. I was curious about the immortelle note, as it can be quite assertive, thick, and sweet; but there's no maple syrup here and immortelle-phobes should not fear and avoid trying this Arquiste perfume.

Infanta en Flor is first and foremost pretty. You won't smell the leather until you get very very close, and even then, it's a smooth and non-animalic note, with an almost sheer quality that allows the floral elements of the fragrance to take center stage. I'm guessing that spraying Infanta en Flor may produce a bigger sillage than dabbing it the way I did with the samples I had, but even so, the lasting power and the way the fragrance holds onto skin are impressive for something that appears at first sheer and delicate.

Notes: orange flower water, Spanish leather, cistus resin, immortelle.

Arquiste- Infanta en Flor ($175, 55ml EDP) is available from Aedes and Barneys. Some of the samples I had were supplied by PR.

Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain by Diego Velázquez, 1652-1953
Painting depicting marriage of Louis XIV of France and Maria Theresa of Spain by an unknown artist.

Laura Mercier Perfecting Water Moisture Mist

I have a minor addiction to face mists, mostly the kind that is more of a skincare product and adds moisture (I'm a bit wary of makeup fixative sprays, but I have a few and use them occasionally). There's something to be said for starting the morning with a refreshing spray of a "good for your skin" product to wake you up, plump up the face and give the moisturizer something extra to grab.

The ingredients of this mist (from Laura Mercier's website):
Aqua (Water), Maris Aqua (Sea Water), Glycerin, Betaine, Butylene Glycol, Artemia Extract, Polyquaternium-51, Carmellia Sinensis Lef Powder, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Trehalose, Pyrus Cydonia Seed Extract, Sodium Carboxymethyl Dextran, 10-Hydroxydecanoic Acid, Sebacic Acid, 1,10-Decanediol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Disodium EDTA, PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer, Potassium Hydroxide, Glycereth-25 PCA Isostearate, Methylparaben.
Basically, this is a water-glycerin concoction, enriched with some plant extracts and seed oils. I know that some of you make your own sprays, which is a great idea for the crafty. I like this Laura Mercier's version because it's scentless and does exactly what it promises: hydrates and enhances the performance of my moisturizer. It's also refreshing, delicate, and non-sticky. I sometimes use it after applying my makeup to ensure a natural non-powdery finish. It is not a setting spray, so don't use it if what you need is to cement makeup into place; but it is a good and handy product for those of us who need all the hydrating we can get.

I've had my bottle for six months now and barely made a dent in it, despite frequent use. Thus, I'll say that unless you're good at making your own and feel happy with what you get, Laura Mercier's version is a reasonably good value, as the concentration requires a small amount.

Bottom Line: Love.

Laura Mercier Perfecting Water Moisture Mist ($38) is available at the counters and from