Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Lilac Perfumes- My Top Picks

It's the end of lilac season, I know, but the lilacs in my backyard have always been underachievers and refuse to bloom until late May or early June. It doesn't make their fragrance any less wonderful,  and I wait for them eagerly every year. My relationship with lilac perfumes, though, is not as easy. Lilac in perfumery has several facets that do not agree with me, mainly the watery cucumbery one. There's also a relationship between lilac and muguet that doesn't work on my skin, making me run for the hills whenever I smell some classic floral perfumes. But there are a handful of these spring flower perfumes that even I can wear or at least adore when I smell them on others. These are the lilac perfumes I enjoy in one way or another:

Puredistance- Opardu. a musky floral, too pretty for its own good, by perfumer Annie Buzantian who's an expert in making delicate beautiful perfumes.

JAR- Jarling. Almond and lilac. I can only admire from afar, but on the right skin Jarling is a dream come true, a beautiful and fragile princess with a naughty streak.

Frederic Malle- En Passant. This Olivia Giacobetti creation is a spring afternoon in the French countryside, complete with the scent of freshly-baked bread.

Ineke- After My Own Heart. Romance and warmth, silk and lace.

Roja Parfums- Lilac Extrait. Straight from the garden yet more complex than I expected, there's a richness here that's straight out of classic perfumery.

Jean Patou- Vacances. A perfect summer and a perfect perfume. If I could only have one lilac perfume that would be it, which makes the fact that it's been discontinued for decades so heartbreaking.

Jo Malone- White Lilac & Rhubarb. A limited edition from 2012. At first it smelled to me like a silly little fruity-floral, but I can't deny that it was modern, cheerful, and actually very well-made with a realistic lilac note that soared to high heaven.

Diptyque- Jardin Clos. Lilac and hyacinth growing by a bubbling brook in the back of an English cottage. Too watery for my own skin, but a joy to smell on others.

Phaedon- Rue Des Lilas. The musky wood makes this a more unisex choice than most other lilac perfumes. It's also incredibly realistic with its green stems and leaves surrounding the lilac bouquet.

Soivohle- Lilacs & Heliotrope. An almost gourmand-animalic floral by perfumer Liz Zorn who makes wearable yet very avant-garde creations.

Do you wear lilac perfumes? What are your favorites?

Art: Lilacs in a Window - Mary Cassatt, 1880.

DHC Face Color Palette EX RS03 Glowing Rose & RD04 Radiant Ruby

DHC is a Japanese brand most famous for skincare and especially their olive oil-based face cleanser. I admit to not realizing they also offer makeup, which is a shame since the products I've tried so far are beyond lovely, from the sweet (not too precious, though) packaging and embossed surfaces to the very smooth textures.

The Face Color Palette EX is one of several new items from DHC. These are blush and highlighter sets that come in four shades. The ones you see here are RS03 Glowing Rose, a coolish pink, and RD04 Radiant Ruby, a warm peach. The highlighter for each blush has a matching undertone, though it's not very noticeable unless you pile it on as I did for the sake of swatching.

The colors are rather delicate and pigment intensity is medium plus. I don;t know how these colors would work on very dark skin, but fair to medium ones will find them easy to wear and very flattering. The texture is very smooth: the formula contains silicone that makes the DHC blushes apply and blend beautifully; mixing the two colors in each palette together gives a lovely glow without shimmer flecks, but you can definitely skip the highlighter or reserve it for special occasion. A brush such as Hakuhodo 210 or MAC 109 with a relatively small and round head performs best here, both in terms of precision and picking up the right amount of color (for me. If you're very fair you might want to go fluffier). I admit I like the texture of these DHC blushes more than the new Shiseido trios that were not packed as tightly and make a royal mess every time I use them.

The little brush in the compact is probably the weakest link here. The white plastic looks cheap (it would have been so much nicer if the brush matched the outer packaging) and one of the two I have was too scratchy for my liking, but it can be used on the go and in a hurry, since it's of good width and density.

Bottom Line: a great find at nearly half the price of Shiseido.

DHC Face Color Palette EX RS03 Glowing Rose & RD04 Radiant Ruby ($20 each) are available from The products for this review were press samples.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014)

“Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.” 
― Maya Angelou, Phenomenal Woman: Four Poems Celebrating Women

Maya Angelou quotes:

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” 

“I do not trust people who don't love themselves and yet tell me, 'I love you.' There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” 

“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” 

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” 

Amouage- Journey Woman

Journey Woman, the newest Amouage perfume (along with Journey Man which I'll review soon) is a big departure from what most of us consider Amouage territory: the Arabian Nights fantasy of incense and gilded precious woods. But Christopher Chong, the house's celebrated creative director, has a much broader canvas and he wants to take us further (as evident by the brilliantly puzzling Opus VIII from Amouage Library Collection). This time the journey is to China.

Inspired by Chinese Art Deco imagery, Journey Woman is a floral tea perfume. sweetened with honey and served with alongside a plate of just-ripened apricots next to a jade Chinese vase that holds a big bunch of mimosa. The color palette takes shape in front of my eyes as Journey Woman unfolds, floating just above the skin: celadon green, blush, yellow, and white.

Journey Woman is a summer perfume. The opening is all jasmine tea, green and light. But it's not quite "fresh" or refreshing", because the cut flowers are laden with heavy blossoms, the honey is rich, and the ripeness of midsummer is heady and lush. Close to the skin, more shantung than chiffon, just sweet enough and very elegant; this is a very French perfume behind the Chinese elements.

Skin chemistry is everything. Osmanthus sometimes takes a shampoo-like quality, which is what happened when I had a friend try Journey Woman. I forgot to ask her how she gets along with Nuit de Cellophane (Lutens), but I do wonder how those who were disappointed by Uncle Serge's 2009 release would respond to this Amouage perfume. For my part, I find Journey Woman cooler (as in temperature) and greener than the more musky Nuit de Cellophane, with a very pronounced and brisk tea note. It's crisp where Lutens is fuzzy, and nostalgic where NdC is modern. I spray lavishly and get a full day wear out of it, without fumigating the entire neighborhood.

See also Mark's review (of both Journey Woman and Man) on Colognoisseur.

Notes:  apricots, osmanthus blossom, nutmeg, cardamom, sambac jasmine, mimosa, honey and cedar, tobacco, saffron, vanilla, cypriol, and musk.

Amouage Journey Woman will be available within a couple of months at all the usual suspect retail locations. The product for this review was sent for consideration by the company.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Zoya Magical Pixie Dust Summer 2014

I wore Arlo from Zoya Magical Pixie Dust collection for Summer 2014 yesterday and managed to shock the friends who came to visit us. I guess the chunky glitter is a bit too much. I like the color itself and the idea of a matte holographic finish, but the reality of actually sporting such a look doesn't corresponds well with my personal style. Still, I thought it was kind of a fun thing to do for one night, except for the very gritty texture that ended up setting my teeth on edge. I'm not a fan of textured nails in general, so again I'm showing my age and lack of edginess, but I prefer smooth nails.

The big advantage of Zoya's Pixie Dust formula is that application is the easiest thing ever: no base or top coat, dries instantly, and you can't mess it up. The three colors for Summer 2014 require three coats to achieve the bottle look and density of glitter, but it takes less time and precision than one coat of a cream finish nail polish. So as long as you're going somewhere that doesn't frown upon glittery nails it's a great option when you need to get ready quickly. You just need to be able to cope with the texture.

The colors in Zoya Magical Pixie Dust for Summer 2014 are Bar (gold in a pale base), Ginni (a warmish rose), and Arlo (amethyst). The glitter in all three is holographic and reflects various colors, though arlo leans more silver blue. They catch the light and the attention of children and small animals, so wear responsibly. Now, if you excuse me, I'm off to soak my nails in some heavy duty nail polish remover, so I can stop cringing every time I accidentally touch my fingertips. Then I'll go and wear something beige.

Zoya Magical Pixie Dust Summer 2014 ($10 each) is available from The products for this review were sent by the company.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day

Have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day.

Image: The New Yorker, 1965

Friday, May 23, 2014

Revlon- Ciara

Since yesterday I talked about a $800 perfume I figured we can really slum it tonight with a 1970s fragrance that as far as I know has always been a drugstore staple: Ciara by Revlon (formerly Charles Revson).  I had different views of Ciara at various points in my life, first seeing it as the forbidden grownup scent, so womanly and mysterious, but later on the chaotic noise of this massive oriental registered with me as cheap and low-brow. Today, however, smelling Ciara from older bottles (I take no responsibility for the stuff currently at Walgreens) I'm blown away by how truly fabulous and interesting Ciara was.

They put everything in it. Tart fruit (it's not the sticky juice of modern perfumes), herbs and spices (I could swear I smell lavender somewhere in the middle), a bouquets of pale purple flowers, a touch of headshop patchouli and the sweaty hippie who wears it, a powder puff,  incense and myrrh, and a massive vanilla-opoponax-wood base, dry as bone and unapologetic. It's here to be seen, touched, and smelled. From the other side of the room, if necessary. Ciara is obviously not a "clean" perfume, but it's not a skank fest, either. It's loud, sure, not trying to hide its perfumeness or its curves, as opposed to the cheeky sportiness of Revlon's other 1973 perfume, Charlie. But this is more of a going out scent and not necessarily one for the boudoir, and I can't say that I quite get the frequent comparisons to Bal a Versailles, as the latter is a celebration of civet and perversion, while Ciara really tries to behave.

Even in the late dry-down, when the perfume has spent quality time with my skin and has warmed up and rolled around quite a bit, it never becomes sweet . There's so much wood and resins there, with a thick mossy layer on top, and  it could almost pass as a masculine fragrance. Actually, I do think that a man could wear it. I no longer perceive Ciara as that femme fatale from the 70s, but as a very intricate oriental with a bit too much going on, in the best possible way. It might not be elegant or streamlined, but there's a sense of purpose there, an assertive statement, and a surprising quality that it's easier to appreciate with several decades between us and the various great aunts who loved Ciara and bathed in it.

Notes (via Jan Moran) : raspberry, vanilla, sandalwood, patchouli, cedarwood, herbaceous spices, frankincense, balsam, myrrh.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Want: Horiyoshi the Third Cashmere Blend Scarf

I love silk-cashmere blend scarfs in the summer (best defense against bost crazy air-conditioning AND sun on one's decollete), and this wonderful tropical print from Horiyoshi the Third has everything: tigers, bold flowers, and a red background. It's hand-woven and printed in Japan, which adds to the appeal (I've been looking at antique Japanese prints and arts lately for inspiration)I'm hyper-coveting this one, mentally planning outfits and accessorizing to see how much use I can get from it (answer: quite a bit). An obsession is born. $470 on net-a-porter.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777- Ô Hira

Like another mysterious perfume at the same price point,  JAR "Bolt Of Lightning", Ô Hira by Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777 has no official note list or a pyramid. All Mr. Lucas has to say about Ô Hira is that it's "fossilized amber", which is interesting, because amber-- as in the fossily thing found on the shores of the Baltic Sea and used in jewelry-- has absolutely no scent or connection to either ambergris or amber accord as we know them in perfumery. But anyone who'd smell even a quick whiff of Ô Hira would recognize it as an "amber".

Fragrantica lists the note as ambergris, but I'm willing to bet the cap of a Roja Dove perfume bottle that this is not true (both in the sense of the raw material itself and in the approximation of a perfume note). While Ô Hira does smell animalic somewhere in the course of its relationship with my skin, this is not that kind of an animal. It's a land animal, like everything else about this fragrance that comes from the earth. O Hira moves between two extremes: a black, red, and gold lava erupting and burning everything in its path, but also ancient and cold-- that fossilized thing again, a piece of jewelry combining amber and obsidian in a heavy gold frame found in a king's tomb.

The warmth of this Stéphane Humbert Lucas perfume comes from several sources: charred resins, leather, cinnamon, and as Kafkaesque explains in her meticulous analysis of O Hira, labdanum. Lots and lots of labdanum used in such amounts that you get each and every nuance of this material and note: from unburnt incense to unwashed hair. But there's also a stony facet, a black crystal that lies in the heart of the perfume and keeps it together. It absorbs all the light and draws your attention, yet feels oddly cool against the skin.

O Hira has no powder to speak of, nor is it vanillic. The slight sweetness appears after quite a while and is more honeyed than sugared, and barely even that. This is a marvelously dry amber, free of gender cliches or other references. I know that everyone's first instinct is to start comparing and contrasting. After all, an amber "soliflore" is not exactly a novel concept. But as I look at my list of favorite amber perfumes, examine my personal collection and browse through my own reviews throughout the years I fail to find the right reference points. I can't say that the burning sensation is like the one in Ambre Fetiche or that the dryness is similar to Ambre di Carthage. It just doesn't work this way. Something about  Ô Hira is so unique despite all the familiar ideas and undertones that fall under the amber label that you have to respect Stéphane Humbert Lucas for insisting on doing it his own way.

Stéphane Humbert Lucas 777- Ô Hira ($825, 1.7 oz) is available from Osswald.

Art: Afternoon at the Jewelry Shop by Ettore Forti, 19th century.

Retail News: Henri Bendel, Napoleon Perdis, Woodley & Bunny

And none of it is particularly good.

* Napoleon Perdis continues his quest to become a legit luxury brand. The latest move is doing the opposite of what we've seen from Lancome or Clinique: Napoleon Perdis, which is now sold at Nordstrom and Bergdorf Goodman, is pulling out of Ulta. Personally, I don't mind one way or another except for my general feeling that the products are not exactly Bergdorf quality (and you can find better at Ulta as well.

* Much sadder is the closing of Brooklyn's Woodley & Bunny . It was a beauty salon with an adjacent boutique that offered niche fragrances and cosmetics. It was where I met Ellis Faas a few years ago, and was quite impressed with their selection. Twisted Lily is now the go-to place for fragrance in the borough, but there's a gaping hole where it comes to indie makeup brands.

* But the most flabbergasting news is the change coming to Henri Bendel. A few years ago they got rid of their fashion department (remember when they still carried DVF?) and filled the store with tacky accessories. They lost the MAC mini-store a couple of years ago, moved their fragrance department several times, and stubbornly refused to go where every other department store in the known universe has gone and offer their entire perfume and cosmetics stock online. Now they're eliminating all the third party products, which means everything not under their own private label. They will have a full store devoted to their merchandise, basically rendering it nothing but a (very lame) tourist attraction. Is there such a massive demand for brown and white stripes to justify this move? Who will take up their place as one of the city's best fragrance retailers? Will we ever set foot there again after September? (And most important: will there be a massive clearance sale like they had when Takashimaya closed?)

Derma E Overnight Peel

Derma E Overnight Peel is one of those cult skincare solutions that has been getting some serious buzz in recent months (it's not a new product and had at least two previous incarnations/formulations under the name Derma E Evenly Radiant Overnight Peel. This review is for the most recent formula in the newish packaging, purchased two months ago). The Overnight Peel is an AHA chemical exfoliant that uses a 5% glycolic acid as well as lactic acid and malic acid (a fruit acid, commonly found in apples and grapes) in an non-revealed concentration.

A 5% glycolic is a relatively mild peel. It comes in a lotion form and the directions to use a generous amount are right: I've found that the peel doesn't stretch well and you need a good coating for it to perform. The treatment absorbs quickly and doesn't stain the pillows, has no discernible scent, and doesn't sting. It's equivalent to Paula's Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment which I've used in the past and liked very much. I'd say that the two are interchangeable as a nightly treatment. Both deliver better with consistent use. I saw little to no difference in the first few nights, but over time there's been an impact on some sun damage and a general improvement of skin texture.

Bottom Line: Not a miracle but worth your time and money.

Ingredients: Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid, Lactic Acid, Malic Acid, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Stearic Acid, Glyceryl Stearate and Peg-100 Stearate, Cetyl Alcohol, Xanthan Gum, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Fruit Extract, Passiflora Incarnata (Passion) Fruit Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate (C-Ester), Organic Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil* (.1%), Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract* (.1%), Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Potassium Sorbate.

Derma E Overnight Peel ($16.95, 2oz) is available from

Photo of Brigitte Bardot via Stirred, straight Up With A Twist.

Perfume State Of Mind

Trying to put some order into my perfume world.

Sampling: Stéphane Humbert Lucas - 777 (a new line at Osswald). SHL is the man behind Nez à Nez and SoOud, and his new line is pushing things further: time, place, and price.

Wearing: Amouage. Lots and lots of Amouage, from the brand new Journey (both men and women, the latter is an interesting surprise, smells more French than a typical Amouage) to Honour Man which I just bought the husband for his birthday and promptly borrowed.

Can't Get Enough: Onda. At the end of the day there are some perfumes that make me question why I even bother with other stuff. Onda is a prime example that never fails to re-calibrate my nose, mind, and heart.

Dreading: Summer flankers. CKTHXBYE.

Feeling Nostalgic About: The blogsphere circa 2006. My eighth blog anniversary was a few weeks ago, which made me look back and reflect about the way things have changed, the bloggers who quit the game, office politics, the market- niche and other. Things haven't been the same for a long time, right?

Frustrated With: Vulgar prices, vulgar packaging, vulgar perfume reviews. We're being Kardashianed.

Worrying About: The implications of the changes coming to Henri Bendel. According to WWD: "Henri Bendel’s Fifth Avenue flagship in Manhattan cuts all outside brands from the assortment this fall". Basically, Bendel is closing its famous beauty and fragrance department and will only carry their private label products. It's the end of an era and a major loss to small niche brands, both perfume and beauty.

Missing: Takashimaya.

Vintage Kick: D'Orsay. I found a couple of interesting bottles over the weekend.

Wishing For: A truly spectacular groundbreaking new release from Serge Lutens in the export line. You know, a cheap thrill.

Photo: Mary Jane Russell by Louise Dahl Wolf for Harper’s Bazaar, March 1955, via

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Want: Tiger Eye Ring By Menno

Tiger eye is one of my most favorite stones and I'm completely taken with this very modern design that incorporates a tiger eye baguette and sterling silver ($215). This ring is by Dutch-born France-based artist Menno Van Hooff who fashions his jewelry by hand, often using tools he created himself. I like the modern sensibility of Menno's work, that ranges from playful (see the sterling silver and black rubber necklace below), to the organic and luxurious lines of the rose gold ring:


I found Menno while browsing Etsy-- here's the link (as always- completely unaffiliated, not compensated, and with no financial or other interest).

Photo credit: Menno Van Hooff.

Zoya Tickled Summer 2014 Nail Polish Collection

Tickled is the cream portion of Zoya's Summer 2014 collection (you can see the holographic glitter, Bubbly, here). These are sweet, happy, straight out of our childhood colors, reminiscent of candy and toys. My personal favorite and the one I'm wearing this week is Rocha, a straight up coral which has become my summer signature color over the last couple of years. All the colors are cream and apply smoothly, though I've had issues with Ling, the blue one, even when testing on the color wheel and even more so over a base. All the swatches above show two coats of color.

Next to my orange zinnias Rocha looks more pink than it actually is.

Here are the colors in Zoya's Tickled collection for Summer 2014:

Kitridge- girly pink, somewhere between bubblegum and Pepto.
Rocha- a flaming coral, neither orange nor red-- exactly in the middle.
Rooney- rosy pink with a hint of warmth in a certain light.
Wendy- a light florescent version of Rocha, a melon on acid.
Ling- medium blue, requires three coats and some patience.
Tilda- weevil green (Zoya describes it as "mantis"), summery and grassy. I can actually pull it off.

Zoya Tickled Summer 2014 Nail Polish Collection ($9 each) is available from The products for this review were sent by the company.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Robert Piguet- Petit Fracas

When Petit Fracas was launched last year as part of Robert Piguet Nouvelle Collection I was rolling my eyes so hard I could see my amygdala. Because, clearly, the world needed a "My First Fracas" kind of a flanker. But I got over myself: after all, I own several Shalimar spawns, a bottle of Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere, and I'm still kicking myself repeatedly for not buying Mitsouko Fleur de Lotus. So who am I to snark?

Fracas is the one of the biggest perfume divas ever created. It's reputation is as big as its sillage, and it's as polarizing as it is sexy.  When the Powers That Be at Piguet decided that in order to bring Fracas to the masses it needed a serious attitude adjustment they were astute enough not to mess with the grand dame and its devoted wearers, but to create a new perfume for the younger generation who wants the mystique, just not to actually wear it. The answer was in a form of a fruity-floral.


As far as fruity-floral perfumes go, Petit Fracas is one of the finest ones I know. It's miles above Annick Goutal Petite Cherie in terms of charm and sexiness, probably because underneath the pear compote with candied nut garnish and dollop of cocoa-dusted creme fraiche there is a strong heart of tuberose-gardenia-jasmine related to the real Fracas. It's there and I can smell it struggling to emerge from the dessert plate and start dancing on tables; but in the end of the day this perfume is a mega serving of poire belle Hélène, and we're much more likely to smell it on the street than the original Fracas.

It could have been worse.

Notes: bergamot, mandarin, pear, tuberose, jasmine, gardenia, cocoa, musk, and sandalwood.

Oddly enough, Robert Piguet Petite Fracas seems to have vanished from Piguet's website as well as from Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman. It's still available from various online discounters, but I'd really like to know why it was discontinued so quickly.

Art: Three Pears, Grapes, and White Flowers by Marsden Hartley, 1936.

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation (Illusion)

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation has a beautiful skin-like texture and finish. It's neither dewy nor matte, but truly looks like skin. I've find it it to be an excellent outdoors foundation, very suitable to being out all day on a rainy day as well as on a hot and slightly sweaty one. I've worn the Kjaer Weis foundation over a moisturizer (Paula's Choice RESIST Daily Moisturizer SPF 25, as well as over a higher SPF layered with a moisturizer, and the foundation applied smoothly and stayed in place from morning to late afternoon/early evening with no change in color or coverage. That's quite impressive.

The foundation has a good slip (reminding me of the old Chanel Teint Innocence more than the compact foundation from Burberry) and can be applied with a damp or dry sponge, a Beauty Blender, or even clean fingers. I also experimented with using a brush for precision and localized coverage, with reasonably good results, but you do need to make sure to blend the edges until they're seamless.  As a foundation that's often described as not requiring setting with a powder, I worried it would be slightly too dry, but at least under the conditions I tested this Kjaer Weis product there was no issue, and as a matter of fact, when I wore it out in the rain I did add a touch of powder with no visible caking/drying. Part of the secret, I think, is that you need far less product than you might think. The foundation is very concentrated and a small dot stretches to cover a large area. That's when the finish is at its best and most natural-- as you can see when comparing the photos: the smear of foundation at the top sits on the skin, while when fully blended (second photo) it melds with the skin.

Kjaer Weis  foundation comes in five shades, which is not nearly enough. But interestingly, because you need so little product the end result is more forgiving than the average cream foundation. I wear the one in Illusion, a medium shade, which at first appears too yellow, but on face (where there's slightly more red tones than my wrist) it blends into a great match. The foundation is made in Italy and is certified organic. It's gluten-free, but since it contains coconut oil I have to keep a really good barrier between it and my naked skin because unfortunately I'm quite allergic. For everyone else, though, it's a great one to consider if you're looking for a fool-proof summer foundation.

Kjaer Weis Cream Foundation ($68 with the compact, $40 for the refill) is available Osswald in NYC (also online or by phone) and directly from
The product for this review was a press sample.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Orto Parisi- Boccanera

Orto Parisi is the new perfume line from Alessandro Gualtieri, the creator of Nasomatto, now that he considers Nasomatto a complete project. Nasomatto and its bold hit-you-on-the-head approach have always been a bit controversial, with many people finding it too vulgar. Personally, I've always loved these perfumes, and the ones I've found boring or unappealing were the kinder and gentler fragrances: Nuda, Pardon, Hindu Grass. Give me Duro and Black Afgano any time.

If Orto Parisi's website is any indication, Gualtieri has no intention to become Jean-Claude Ellena any time soon. This is the image that welcomes you:

He had me at goat.

Boccanera is a weird one. A non-gourmand bitter chocolate thing with plenty of spice and a massive woody base. depending on the day and mood it smell like the creamiest sandalwood or like a peppery smoky camphoric cousin of Duro. It's never quite edible, and at times even smell dangerous. Who knows what they rolled into the delectable looking truffles. But this perfume is a chocolate wood, more than anything else, and I'm sure there's a Luca Turin quip somewhere in the making. But since for me the bottom line is that Boccanera smells so satisfying and warm on skin, and yes-- just animalic enough for that goat to make an occasional appearance, I'm totally sold (even if this perfume is practically shower-proof and I can smell it for days).

Notes: dark chocolate, ginger, black pepper and chili pepper.

Orto Parisi- Boccanera (138 euro, 50ml extrait de parfum) is available from select boutiques in Europe and from (It looks like they ship to the US). Hopefully they'll find a proper US distributor sooner rather than later. I bought my bottle at Profumo Emozioni Olfattive on Via Carlo Poerio 33, Naples. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Currently- May 2014

Nate In Venice by Richard Russo. An emotionally fragile American professor tries to navigate the Venice canals, his relationship with his brother, and the rest of his life.

Turn Blue, the new album from The Black Keys

Game Of Thrones. I don't know if this season is as good as I hoped it would be, but we still have Peter Dinklage.

I'm on a serious Parfumerie Generale kicks. Aomassai, Coze, everything.

Those new Dior Fluid Sticks. I think I want a couple more.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Printed DVF wrap shirts over a long black camisole, skinny jeans, ballet flats.

Gluten-free crackers with peanut butter.

Guilty Pleasure
Preferring ebooks to the real thing. I love books, truly, but being able to buy and download in one click and read it right away while still being connected to everything and seeing important alerts-- that's priceless.

Too much time at the vet. Miss Pippa gave us a scare that turned out to be absolutely nothing. Cats are weird.

Healthy cats, a weekend getaway.

Friends visiting.

New additions to my vintage jewelry collection.

Random Thought
That 700K ring Amal Alamuddin is sporting? I expected better from George.

Art by Naomi Wilkinson.

Zoya Bubbly Summer 2014 Nail Polish Collection

The tagline for Zoya's Bubbly collection for summer 2014 is "Feel Good Color!", and it most certainly is. The collection is bright, metallic with holographic glitter in colors that would make anyone smile-- there's something reminiscent of childhood summers about it, but also fun adolescent glitter. The interesting thing is that the colors are actually quite sheer. The swatches on the wheel above are three coats of polish each, and you can see that even so it's not as intense as what you see in the bottle. Some might be disappointed, but personally I find that it makes them more wearable in a casual setting.

Zoya Bubbly Collection includes:
- Muse: Mermaid Blue
- Stassi: Jade Green
- Harper: Mexican Pink
- Binx: Purple Orchid
- Jesy: Coral Orange
- Alma: Golden Peach (the color is significantly more yellow than it appears in the bottle)

My absolute favorite is Jesy. I'm wearing it now as we speak and will be sporting two coats all weekend. As you can see, the color is very low key, so the high volume of glitter is not over the top. It's noticeable and makes me smile every time I look at my hands, but I know I won't look like a deranged middle aged disco diva while antiquing in New England.

Zoya Bubbly Summer 2014 Nail Polish Collection ($9 each, $54 for the full collection) is available from The products for this review were sent by the company.

Kjaer Weis Abundance Cream Blush

This photos tell most of the story. Kjaer Weis cream blush in Abundance is a gorgeous mauve-taupe. You don't come across a color like this very often, yet it  looks incredibly natural and flattering, especially when the focal point of your makeup look are eyes and/or lips, but you don't want your cheeks to look unfinished. It's a very sophisticated and modern color, but will also appeal to those who miss the brown craze of the early 90s. But it's not brown: there's just enough mauve there to perk up the skin and make you look healthy. I've also mixed Abundance with other colors to tone them down as needed, and I suspect that those of you with very pale skin would find it perfect for a sunkissed look.

The formula of Kjaer Weis blushes is certified organic. It's not vegan because of the use of beeswax, but it is gluten-free. The texture is very soft and smooth, the finish is satin, and it holds in place all day without smearing or moving, though because of the various natural oils in the formula I don't know how tenacious it would be on people with oily skin.

Bottom Line: my newest love.

Kjaer Weis cream blush can be purchased in the sleek refillable compact you see above ($54) or as a refill ($30) that you can place in any empty magnetic palette. Available from and Osswald in NYC (online, in store, and also by phone  212-625-3111, if you need assistance with picking colors).
The product for this review was a press sample.