Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Field Report: Downtown Sunday Sniffage

On Sunday afternoon the Husband and I headed to the West Village. We wanted to buy him a hat and eat some fancy toasts. Both missions were successful (I also got a cute hat for myself). Goorin Bros., (337 Bleecker st.) supplied the headgear, and WhyNot Coffee  (175 Orchard st.) was perfect for food, champagne and celebrity spotting. Well-hatted and nourished it was time to sniff.

There  are several new releases that I wanted to stick my nose into. We started at the Annick Goutal boutique (397 Bleecker St) where the service was pleasant enough if overprotective of the testers. It was my first time trying the two latest Goutals L'Ile au Thé, a pleasant and pale green tea scent and even last year's Vent de Folie, which I think I subconsciously avoided. It's a well-mannered fruity floral that does absolutely nothing for me, but I can see its appeal (which  goes for both, I guess). I quickly sniffed some of the classics as the Blond explored the masculines, and got the impression that most of the Goutals have been toned down and somewhat neutered, but they're still pretty and extremely wearable. I didn't smell any change in the re-issued Mon Parfum Cheri, Par Camille, La Violette is still the best linen spray on earth, but everything with citrus has been de-fanged along with the repackaging and rebottling.

The Diptyque store was a true delight. The guys were burning their sandalwood candle but also sprayed the space with their fig scent. Can it get any better? Well, it would have been better had I liked Eau Plurielle a bit more. It's a sheer woody floral that's perfect for summer, smells better on the husband and shriveled up and died on my skin. I will do my best to wear my sample and review it, but my initial feeling is that if you're a Tam Dao or Eau d'Elide person, this won't cut it. Speaking of Tam Dao, the husband had a nice conversation with the lovely SA about ways to rescue a stuck sprayer in his old bottle. No success there, so I see some power tools in his future.

From there we went to Aedes. I admit that it's been a long time since I've been there, mostly because of customer service issues, but the two ladies who manned the store on Sunday afternoon were helpful, knowledgeable, and very welcoming. We started with the new Frederic Malle, Cologne Indélébile (a Dominique Ropion creation), of which the Husband and I could not agree. Obviously, it smelled much better on him than on me, as orange blossom often does, but I just couldn't see (or smell) the point. The world already has the magnificent Guerlain Eaux, Chanel Les Exclusif Eau de Cologne, and eleventy hundred other interpretations of the same idea. Why bother? The Blond still staunchly likes it, so I will need to investigate more. Maybe.

There are other more interesting things to explore at Aedes. The tuberose and orange blossom dream of fleur09 by Maria Christofilis that has a beautiful mouth-filling peach phantom note, the punch to the nose of the Orto Parisi line (I like it a lot), and all the usual suspects: Uncle Serge, L'Artisan, Diptyque, Byredo and many many others. I got a sniff of the upcoming perfume from Aedes' eponymous line, Palissandre d'Or, which is a smooth and golden woody musk. The husband seemed completely anosmic to it and I'm sure that my own nose was skipping over some of the notes, but it's definitely worth a sniff. The newest line in the store is Memo, the French travel-inspired brand that I first stumbled upon in Paris back in 2008. They've gone through several  changes and iterations (the home line has been expanded, but no one seems to stock them here in the US), and have grown significantly from the first three perfumes, though not everything seems to have made its way here (neither Aedes nor Luckyscent offer Sundance, Manoa, or Parfum Ilha do Mel (which I was most curios about). In better news, despite being previously unimpressed with the leather trio, the Husband tried and really liked Irish Leather. It smelled fabulous on him, while I enjoyed Moon Fever and got happily reacquainted with Siwa. The whole line is friendly and has enough character and backbone as to not bore me out of my skull. It's a lot these days.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Vincent Longo Chiara Flush Stick In Ibisca

I'm always a bit perplexed by makeup products that have a core in a different color that's meant for a separate use. How exactly do you maneuver that? And as cool as it looks, why not design it as a two pan item to begin with? The same question goes for this Vincent Longo Chiara Flush Stick,  a blush with a built-in highlighter in the middle, that the Vincent Longo website insists can be worn individually. I don't know. It took me a couple of tries to figure out how to make the most out of this truly lovely blush as it is, so I never bothered dipping a separate tiny brush into the "shimmery pink quartz core".

Despite how it may seem from the above opening, I'm not actually cranky about this item. Questioable design aside, Vincent Longo Chiara Flush Stick in the color Ibisca is a terrific gel stick blush in a spring pink (peony? azalea? rhododendron?) that packs the pigment (see swatch above, done straight from the tube) yet has a sheer and glowing quality thanks to that quartz core. It's a perfect product for the current light and luminous looks that give the illusion you have almost nothing on, just good health and a positive outlook (of course, as I counted the number of products that went onto my face earlier today before going to lunch I was fairly amused at what "fresh and bare" actually means).

As you can see, the amount of color you get straight from the tube is massive and also very very pink. I can't pull it off in this form, so I've experimented by dipping my finger in and carefully layering the product until I get just the right amount of flush. You can also smear it on the back of your hand (kind of like I did for the swatch) and pick small amounts with a synthetic cream blush brush (my old Paula Dorf is good for that, as well as any small cream foundation brush. I also used damp sponges (the very tip of a Beauty Blender or a classic wedge sponge) with great success. As long as you keep the placement right and amount of pinkness under control you're golden (or rather nicely blushed).

As for the highlighter part, I have to admit that I can't detect any shimmering particles or an actual shine. Using both parts mixed together won't make your cheeks into disco balls or anything remotely resembling true shimmer blush. It's more dewy than anything else, and as I've mentioned, looks perfect on a cheerful spring day. This Vincent Long blush has actually exceeded my expectations in terms of longevity. I suspected that a slippery gel formula was not meant for lasting, but I've worn it for several long days and the color was as fresh and vibrant as when I stepped out of the house. I do use a light-reflecting powder (NARS or RBR) to finish off and ensure that everything is in place,s o that might have contributed.

Bottom Line: fun and effective.

Ingredient (pay attention if you're sensitive or clog-prone): Caprilc/Capric Triglyceride, Cera Microcristallina, Pentaerythrityl Tetraisostearate, Mica, Polyethylene, Silica, Phenoxyethanol, Tocopheryl Acetate, Dehydroacetic Acid, Simmondsia Chinensis Oil (Jojoba Seed Oil), Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)Butter Extract. May Contain (+/-): Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891), Iron Oxides (CI 77492), Red 28 Lake (CI 45410), Yellow 5 Lake (CI 19140), Iron Oxides (CI 77491), Iron Oxides (CI 77499). 

Vincent Longo Chiara Flush Stick In Ibisca ($34) is available from The product for this review was sent by PR.

Monday, April 27, 2015

YSL Couture Mono Eyeshadow Modele #5

Ten or fifteen years ago YSL Couture Mono Eyeshadow could have been quite sensational. The beautiful pigment, the shine, the workable texture would have been a standout among other department store brands. The one I bought, Modele, can give the legendary Lancome Erika F a run for its money (it's not a clone, as Erika F has a distinct khaki green undertone and Modele is somewhat lilacy). The thing is that we're in 2015 and the things that make an eye shadow top notch are rich pigment, an almost creamy-smooth texture and a fallout-free finish. Also, colors should be blendable without ending up as a muddy mess (alternately, a texture should be suitable for a lay-down application that requires the lightest touch and a very minimal blending).

As you've probably guessed, YSL Couture Mono Eyeshadow in Modele (#5) is none of those things. It's stunning in the pan, gorgeous when you finger-swatch it, but then comes the moment of truth when you you want to create a makeup look, and it's... just Ok.

The first thing to know is that you need a flat stiffish paddle-shaped eye shadow brush (basically, a MAC 239 type). Round or full brushes will just kick up too much product and not deposit it smoothly and precisely. Actually, that was the second thing to know. The first is USE A PRIMER. You need a very receptive surface to get most of the eye shadow to stay put. As soft and finely-milled as it is, it's surprisingly flighty. Then there's the issue of intensity. The swatch you see above is four layers of the eye shadow. One or two are just too sheer, and not in that glowing Suqqu-like way. Just too sparse. Working methodically with the right brush and then a very careful blending with a soft and thin brush just along the edges produces a very pretty look. It requires some cleanup, since YSL Modele is very shimmery and there is quite a bit of  fallout, but I won't deny that it's lovely (though those of you who dislike shiny particles would do better with a matte version, perhaps #4 Facon or #17 Dedale. I probably should have gone with either one). The question is: is this enough?

Bottom Line: My answer to the question above is no.

YSL Couture Mono Eyeshadow Modele #5 ($30) is available at the counters and online.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Vintage Perfume: The Most Frequently Worn In Our Current Rotation (By the Husband and me)

At this point in the game both the Husband and I are deeply invested in the vintage perfume hobby. The difference between chasing vintage and collecting modern treasures is that the former is a rabbit hole with a definite bottom, darker than you've ever imagined, and causes normal mild-mannered individuals like us to commit minor acts of violence against people who stand in our way to the coveted bottles. As our collection grows we also develop certain moods. "I'm in the mood for a vintage chypre" is a common thought for me. The husband doesn't care. He simply reaches for the first thing that comes to his mind as he stand befuddled in front of his cabinet, questioning the sanity of it all.

I've looked through my files and also asked the Blond what he's been wearing most often lately. Here's the list of the bottles we've been spraying most often in the last few weeks.


On any given week I wear some form of Shalimar for at least half a day. It's just one of those facts of life.

I've been collecting various concentration of this wild beast. Lately it's been my go to bedtime scent (six times in two and a half weeks). Which explains some of the more bizarre dreams I've been having.

I've been chasing this one for years, trying to find a bottle that's both high concentration and hasn't turned. I've finally managed. A seventies chypre if there ever was one.

All of a sudden I cannot get enough. /and I'm worried about the older bottles turning bad, so I'm often steeped in this elegant dream. My maternal grandmother used to wear it, which doesn't hurt the appeal, either.

The husband was on his way back from a business meeting up north when he stopped at an antique mall. He found a bottle of the original very first Emanuel Ungaro perfume. I haven't smelled it in decades, but ever since he got me the bottle I can't get enough. The couple that hunts for vintage perfume together stays together.


The first fragrance I ever bought for him, soon after we started dating. I think my sweet farm boy was a bit confused at first. He got over it.

Neither one of us has tried the reissue. Why bother when the real thing lives in our cabinet? (I'm so stealing it tonight).

Right now it seems to be his favorite Guerlain. I got him a lifetime supply of the 1992 eau de toilette version. He still wondered if he needs a backup. I wear the eau de perfume more often.

I think it was one of his first vintage bottles and it took him a while to fall in love. Between Equipage and vintage Bel Ami, I think he's ready to upholster our home in Hermes orange leather.

There couldn't be a bigger discrepancy between the perfume's name and the man who wears it in our home, but who cares?  And it's a good compromise that mostly keeps him out of my Bois des Iles parfum, so everyone's happy.

Bobbi Brown Cheek Palette- Berry

I may have went a bit Bobbi-crazy a couple of months ago when these colors came out (I already reviewed the shockingly bright Art Sticks and have yet to show you the corresponding sheer lip colors). I was just so happy to see a Bobbi Brown collection that was not all about the beige, and I still have some all-time favorite blushes from older Bobbi palettes (remember Mauve?). So I picked the Berry palette (there's also one called Pink) and I'm not sure it was the wisest choice ever.

As the Bobbi Brown site declares, the Berry palette is for "Anyone with a dark skin tone who wants a fresh, healthy-looking glow.". My skin has that true green Mediterranean undertone, but in terms of actual coloring it's more in the sickly category, as I zealously guard it from the sun. As a result, the bright pink shade on the right gains a neon quality on my skin that requires the fluffiest of brushes and a fairy-like touch to blend it to an acceptable level. The texture of the color in this pan is super buttery and easy to work with, so it's not too complicated, but it can too much too quickly if I'm not being careful.

The darker berry shade is not as texturally desirable: it's dryer and harder to the touch. But the color itself, despite the pigment's intensity is somewhat dustier and more muted, thus easier for me to wear (again, judiciously). It's the one I see myself actually making a dent in the pan. Unlike the two matte blushes, the middle shade is shimmery and is supposed to be a highlighter. But again, the palette was clearly designed with dark skin in mind, so this is more of a midsummer golden bronzer with the sheen and sparkle you'd want on a vacation. It's pretty, it's flattering in its own way, but the texture is stiffer and grittier than I'd prefer. On the upside, it doesn't crumble under the brush or kicks any product around, so the matte blushes remain untainted by its shimmer.

Bobbi Brown suggest layering the colors and/or spiking them with the "highlighter". The need for careful blending makes this idea a bit too much for my particular skin tone, but I can definitely see how it would work for someone with a rich and beautiful skin color. I use them one at a time, blending with a small Yachiyo brush or the tip of the Hakuhodo S103. I still wish for more luxurious textures, but it gets the work done.

Bottom Line: I might have overreached my color limits here.

Bobbi Brown Cheek Palette- Berry ($45) is available at the counters and online from

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Profumum- Tagete

Marigolds by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1873

Tagete by Profumum was not what I expected. I love Marigolds. The exuberant colors and the way they smell in the heat of summer: bitter, green, baked in the heat accompanied by the smell of warm grass, and if they're in my own backyard there's also a whiff of other herbs that grow in the next bed, and especially fennel. The first time I smelled Profumum's interpretation of the flower I was taken aback. Sweet and heady tuberose pervaded the  leaves and petals, making them softer and more sensual where I was looking for a no-nonsense jolt along with the lazy heat of a summer day.

But how can I resist tuberose? I rarely do. And I've been captivated before by a blend of tuberose and dry crisp greenery in Ego Facto's Me, Myself and I. Tagete takes things a step further. Each and every whiff you take has both something green and slightly bitter entwined by seductive white flowers. Jasmine and tuberose, together and separately pull you in with their sweet promises. And just as you're willing to surrender to the narcotic effect there comes a reminder of reality in the form of an earthy- rooty-grassy tagetes and vetiver.

Bocca Baciata by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1859

As I was researching marigolds and their meaning for this post I was reminded of another perfume that pairs tuberose with tagetes: Flor y Canto by Arquiste (I'm so wearing it tomorrow!). It is not a coincidence: both flowers were significant to the Aztecs and are seen to this day in Mexico during celebrations including Dia de los Muertos. Life, death, rebirth (in some areas tagetes are among the first spring flowers to come back), as well as themes of innocence vs. mature sexuality. It's all there, and you cycle through them as you wear Profumum's Tagete (longevity is great).

As I said in the beginning, I expected something raw and with a more assertive marigold note, but found myself surrendering to the plush temptation of a summer garden at nighttime. The second artwork I chose above, Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Bocca Baciata, tells an interesting story. According to the Rossetti Archive: "The inscription (in Rossetti's hand on a slip of paper on the back of the picture) is the last sentence in Boccaccio's Decameron, Day 2, Story 7. It translates: “The kissed mouth does not lose its freshness, but renews itself like the moon”." They explain further that
"The principal flower motif is the marigold, which in the language of flowers signifies pain or chagrin. The apple on the balustrade perhaps alludes to the biblical legend of the fall of Adam and Eve; the white rose in her hair signifies innocence."

Maybe it's my imagination and falling prey to the power of tuberose-suggestion, but I get it from Tagetes. I really think that I do. It doesn't hurt that those are some of my favorite notes swimming there together, and as my scent twin Tom said once: "Darlin', we radiate tuberose" . Also tagetes, apparently. On the other hand, my dear friend on Kafkaesque was royally unimpressed. You can read her review here.

Profumum- Tagete ($240, 100ml eau de parfum) is available from Osswald NYC and Luckyscent. The sample for this review was supplied by Osswald.

YSL Full Metal Shadow 07 Aquatic Copper

My good intentions to stay away from new cream or liquid eye shadows went out of the window as soon as I heard about YSL Full Metal Shadow. They appeared similar to the Armani ones, only in a different range of colors. So I had to. The online photo of No.7, Aquatic Copper, looked especially appealing, so I pre-ordered it from Nordstrom and waited for the magic to appear on my doorstep.

What can go wrong?

The texture, that's what.

YSL Full Metal Shadow is, indeed, similar to the aforementioned Armani eye tints but even more runny. This makes them harder to work with, even though the applicator is better designed and slightly smaller. However, at least in the one I tested, Aquatic Copper, the very liquid texture is uneven, making the pigment and glitter slightly separate. I've used all the tricks I've learned from wearing the Armani ones, but the result was still not satisfactory. I have to really pile on the layers (which means longer setting time), and to add insult to a hot mess, there's some glitter fallout, which is rather unacceptable for a liquid eye shadow.

The color itself is rather pretty, even though it isn't anywhere near what you see online on the Nordstrom site. I hoped for much more complexity, but got a straight out copper with unevenly distributed silvery microglitter. Above you see the swatch comparison to Armani #10 Senso, which is a much more interesting option.

Bottom Line: Skip.

YSL Full Metal Shadow 07 Aquatic Copper ($30) is available at the counters and online.

Parfum d'Empire- Equistrius

Every time the husband reaches for our bottle of Equistrius by Parfum d'Empire (or when he smells it on me), he asks whether I've reviewed it already. "Why haven't you?" he wants to know. It's a good question considering how often Equistrius is worn around here. We both love it. We both love this mellow interpretation of orris. And we both have a serious thing for Parfum d'Empire. So why haven't I?

There's something about the low key character of Equistrius. It's like a background noise sometimes, and I have to make myself pay attention until I notice how good I smell. It becomes one with my skin in a non-perfumy way. Dry powder, dry orris powder, dry rice powder, all float leisurely in the air just above the skin. Something in the late dry-down melds into an almost leathery note, which I'm guessing is where the equestrian theme is leading, but for the most part I find Equistrius to be comfortable yet romantic, which I think is a far departure from perfumer Marc-Antoine Corticchiato's intention of a tribute to the Roman Empire.

As you must have figured above, Equistrius is a rather powdery perfume, but not in the sweet makeupy way of rose-violet-orris. It doesn't have that vintage boudoir vibe at all, and it's not particularly feminine, just as the animalic musky veteiver in the dry-down doesn't make it particularly masculine. The latter, with it's use of the not-so-clean skin note of ambrette seed is probably a nod for that horsey theme, but this is a very pampered and groomed horse (I was tempted to use a photo of Queen Elizabeth and one of her cherished horses, but it would have been just as far from the atmosphere Equistrius creates as a Roman statue).

Equistruis is incredibly smooth and easy to wear. It behaves in extreme heat, in close quarters, as well as outdoors. It's lightness might be misleading. It has a dusky quality, the result of the classic pairing of violets and orris, which my brain automatically labels as "romantic". In any case, this is a beautiful and elegant fragrance with a modern twist on a familiar theme, and horse or no horse, it's gender-free, long-lasting on skin level and thoroughly a pleasure (must love orris).

Notes: orris, violet, rice powder, chocolate, ambrette, sandalwood, vetiver, grey amber

My older reviews of Parfum d'Empire fragrances:
Ambre Russe, Cuir Ottoman, Osmanthus Interdite, Fougere Bengale, Wazamba, Corsica Furiosa, and Musc Tonkin.

Parfum d'Empire- Equistrius ($145, 100ml eau de parfum) is available from Luckyscent.

Photo: Ewelina at an equestrian fashion photoshoot for Poland's Next Top Model, fall 2014.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Currently- April 2015

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson. It's one of her few adult novels, and it's one of the best things I've read in a very long time. The story of a grandmother and her young granddaughter spending a summer on a tiny Finnish island, dealing with life, grief, pesky neighbors, and the beautiful (and so foreign) landscape.

Once again, The Americans are bringing back musical memories from my early teens. Last week it was Ultravox Vienna. But here I'm sharing an acoustic vesrion Midge Ure performed a couple of years ago. It's even more touching,

Game of Thrones, what else? I'm also addicted to reading the recaps the day after. And by the way, I'm awfully confused by the season premiere of Orphan Black. What is going on there? Who works for whom?

There are so many spectacular new releases that it's harder than ever to keep up. I'm still infatuated with Eau de Celeri (compliments whenever I wear it, followed by disbelieving looks about the name). I've also been testing a couple of new vanilla fragrances, and the top one is Provanilla by Providence Perfume Company. Not what I'd expected at all, and surprisingly perfect for warm weather.

Matte eye shadows. I may have bought a lifetime supply recently.

Frequently Worn Item/Outfit
Silk shirts with everything.

Guilty Pleasure
Diner food. This is Jersey, after all.

Other than the above: fruit salads.Orange, banana, apple, and a splash of Cointreau.

The cats have been fighting a pesky virus one or two at a time. It wasn't too big of a deal, just (clear) sneezing and diarrhea. You can imagine the fun we had.

It's really honest to god spring.

The royal baby. I was kind of hoping he or she will have been born on Her Majesty's birthday, but whatever. Whenever.

I'm looking for simple maxi dressers that can be dressed up or down.

Random Thoughts
I'm typing this with one hand while massaging my face with my favorite propolis cream and listening to the rainstorm outside. It feels good, but not conducive to thoughts, random or otherwise.

How are you doing? What are your loves, joys, banes, recommendations, and random thoughts? Please share.

Will  Barnet- Kiesler and Wife, 1985

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Monsillage- Eau de Celeri

The name. I know.

I'm a salad-loving vegetarian with a vague affection for celery, but even I won't claim that it's my favorite leafy green. It's... celery. But I urge you with all my might to ignore the name of the newest perfume from Montreal-based Monsillage and try it anyway (see my previous reviews of Aviation club, Dupont Circle, and Ipanema Posto Nove, and I promise to write about the 2012 fragrance Vol 870 YUL-CDG in the coming weeks ).

It's worth it.

Neither the husband and I not a bunch of friends whom I more or less forced to try Eau de Celeri think it's smells like something from the farmer's market. It's green, though. Incredibly GREEN, but the overall impression is far more elegant than a juice stand in Brooklyn. This shouldn't surprise anyone who'd followed perfumer Isabelle Michaud, the creative mind behind Monsillage, who is classically trained (ISIPCA perfume institute in Versailles). Eau de Celeri is a modern take on galbanum and vetiver, not quite Vent Vert, but it should appeal to the same fan base. The modern elements come in the form of a very realistic fresh cut grass note and a bitter citrus that seeps into the softer sweeter green leaves. Coriander leaf (aka cilantro) is listed as one of the notes, but I can't say that I get a Vietnamese salad anywhere in the composition. Just tender spring leaves everywhere, surrounded by the more sophisticated and edgy galbanum.

There's a lovely innocence to the lush grassy background. I'm reminded of a childhood memory of the house and yard where we lived when my sister and I were little. My mother would settle us on a blanket right under her bedroom window with books and toys, the grass around us soft and inviting to roll in it. A Rose of Sharon tree was in full bloom, as was some kind of a daisy-like bush that we both loved (to the chagrin of the upstairs neighbor who hated seeing my toddler sister tear the flowers apart). It smelled kind of marigoldish, green and slightly bitter, a scent I love to this day. But the biggest temptation was the ravine behind the house. I remember pink flowers on  labdanum shrubs and a trailing path that some said lead all the way down to the beach (it did. Years later my boyfriend and I climbed it all the way up from the beach to the old neighborhood), but we weren't allowed to set foot there. You could hear the jackals at night, and who knew what else lurks there? But my sister and I were safely ensconced  in the little green universe that surrounded us and protected us with delicate green fingers.

The husband swears that he gets celery seed when wearing the perfume, and I agree that there's an earthy spice lurking somewhere behind the galbanum. Some of it is probably the woody-vetiver base, which to my nose smells toasted with a slight burn at the edges. This dry-down helps ground the leaves and creates a good longevity. It deepens a little as the perfume develops on skin, but the core is consistently green and very satisfying.

Notes: Coriander Leaf, Galbanum, Grass, Bergamot, Lemon, Grapefruit, Flower Buds, Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedar.

Monsillage- Eau de Celeri ($95, 50ml eau de toilette) is available at Twisted Lily. The press bottle for this review was sent by the perfumer.

Image from Vogue Italy, April 1971.

Aroma M Beauty- Camellia Cleansing Oil

This one is different.

Fans of oil cleansing use a variety of items and methods. From food stuff like olive oil and coconut oil, to cult favorite products from Shu Uemura to Tatcha. There's the double cleansing (oil first, then a detergent-type cleanser), and the single step, where washing away the oil with water is sufficient. The latter is typical to formulas that contain a foaming agent.

The new Camellia Cleansing Oil from Aroma M Beauty is inspired by geisha beauty routines and falls technically into the one step category. It washes off fully with water, taking away everything with it. My personal preference is to remove my eye makeup with a different product, even though the Camellia Oil is rather effective in dissolving mascara and eyeliner. But I prefer to do my deep cleansing without the gunky residue of eye makeup being smeared all over my face.

Aroma M Camellia Oil feels and works like a massage oil. You pour a good amount into your palms (I find the recommendation of 5-6 drops to be on the low side. I use at least ten) and slowly massage the oil onto your face, taking your time with it for best results. Like all good oils,  Camellia Oil breaks down even the the toughest and thickest foundation or sunblock, draws out the gunk that clogs your pores, and softens the skin in the process. The massage itself is very beneficial for circulation and face muscles (see this Lisa Eldridge video for further discussion and some good techniques).  To take it all of you only need water. The Japanese technique calls for washing it all off with warm water and then splashing your face with hen cold water. I don't find it pleasant, so instead I use a warm damp washcloth, but that's really my own issue.

The added bonus of the exquisite scent of the oil (Maria McElroy of Aroma M is an accomplished perfumer), one's old nightly routine becomes more luxurious and restorative. The first few seconds after cleansing you notice just how soft and smooth your skin is, but I'd highly recommend to use a serum and a moisturizer right away, as the cleansing process does remove everything from the surface and you need to add back moisture and nourishment.

Bottom Line: a highly effective treat.

Ingredients: Organic Camellia Seed Oil, Organic Rice Bran Oil, Organic Golden Jojoba Oil, Organic Vitamin E, Organic Essential Oils of Neroli, Yuzu, Rosemary and Frankincense.

Aroma M Beauty- Camellia Cleansing Oil ($40, but you can start by purchasing a $10 generous sample) is available from Aroma M website (link provided for your convenience as it's a bit tricky to navigate). The initial sample was sent tome for free. I have since purchased a full bottle.

Image: Kitagawa Utamaro: Three bijin, 1792

Friday, April 10, 2015

Perfume For Spring: My Current Top 10

Things that will not be mentioned here:  Diorissimo or the fact that spring still feels an awful lot like winter.

Instead of whining, we can talk about perfumes that transition well from cold weather to the new season. Also, about some new perfumes that are a breath of fresh air on the scene. And I'll start with an amber, one that proves that there's still something interesting to be done with this note. Like infusing it with lavender and sage giving it a green floral touch as well as a spicy herbalness, which is exactly what happens in Ambre Nomade by Élisire, a new brand that thankfully only offers five perfumes (for now). Ambre Nomade is my favorite of them, but there's also a zesty green one, Eau Papaguena, if that's what one desires on a sunny day. They're arriving at Osswald NYC as we speak.

More green stuff: Montreal-based Parfums Monsillage has launched a new fragrance, Eau de Céleri. The name is definitely eyebrow-raising, but the perfume itself is a green lover's dream, chock-full of galbanum, cut grass and a slightly burnt vetiver that had the Husband smiling from ear to ear. I'll post a full review soon, but what you need to know is that all six Monsillage perfumes are now available at Twisted Lily and are worth sampling.

The bitter green of a marigold note has always been a spring pleasure, even though the flower itself is more of a summer thing. The original formulations of Lauren and Halston, as well as Niki de Saint Phalle were perfect examples, but this post is a non-kvetching zone, so instead of going vintage I'll mention Tagete by Profumum Roma, which is a modern and sweeter interpretation, but I like it a lot, probably thanks to the tuberose and vetiver combo that holds it together.

April showers result in a rain-soaked asphalt on the streets of New York City. The gray concrete of the urban jungle (literally, in this case) is decorated with flowers, mainly rose, in Asphalt Rainbow by Christopher Street. It's lighter than most summer roses, and quite unique in the way it combines city pungency with the prettiest of flowers.

A complete opposite is Misia, the newest Les Exclusif de Chanel, a perfume that returns Chanel to the elegance and restraint that are at the core of the house's aesthetics. An iris and violet that smell as French as it gets.

Walking the line between classic and modern is the floral chypre Au Dela by San Francisco artist and perfumer Bruno Fazzolari. Green, mossy, almost animalic but not quite, this is a true gem.

Camellia from Aroma M is another gorgeous floral that surprises by its unmistakable connection to classic perfumes of yore. When I first smelled it last year my immediate reaction was that this is what an expensive French perfume should be like, but this beauty actually comes from Brooklyn. I think I prefer the eau de parfum version over the oil, but both but both spell spring.

Still in the category of natural blooms and leaves, Aftelier's Secret Garden and Moss Gown by Providence Perfume Company have become perennial favorites for me. Their promise of bright sunny days, lush greenery and a garden in full bloom sustains me on the dreary days and comes in handy when spring is really and truly here to stay.

For more spring perfumes please visit my friends at Bois de Jasmin, Grain de Musc, Now Smell This, and Perfume Posse.

Image: Spring Rain by Erte.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Serge Lutens- La Réligieuse

One of the interesting aspects of having a scent twin is that even on those rare occasions when we're not in full agreement about a perfume, we still experience it in the same way. We just interpret it differently. The latest example is Tom's review of the new Serge Lutens fragrance, La Réligieuse. I smell exactly the same things: sugary mimosa, a touch of incense, sweet jasmine, and a not-so-clean musk. Tom even mentioned "The Sound of Music", which I was going to use as an example for my very limited knowledge of nuns and their ways. The only difference? Tom thinks that  La Réligieuse is a good perfume, while I remain unconvinced.

I'm not among those who weep with despair with every new Serge Lutens release as none of them walk the same path of Iris Silver Mist or MKK. As a matter of fact, I think that the previous perfume in the export series, L'Orpheline, is just wonderful and I wear it so often that a backup might be needed before the end of the year. But with this one Uncle Serge has totally lost me. I don't get it. Or more precisely, I don't get why he even bothered. I might not wear his other jasmines, A La Nuit or Sarassins, but I definitely appreciate the story and craftsmanship behind them, as well as the quality of the jasmine used (at least in their original form. I think Sarrasins is still impressive, but I got a whiff of the recent Nuit and had an eyebrow raising moment).  La Réligieuse starts with a welcoming sweet floral medley that I enjoy very much, especially with other notes lurking underneath, promising more fun. I like my jasmine sweet and thick without a hint of green, and on that front Lutens certainly delivers. But eventually the monotonous of this effect wears me down. Nothing else happens, and the sweetness becomes as sticky as a toddler's hand. I want to return this tyke to its parents and go take a nap.

I have little more to say about La Réligieuse. None of the promises come to fruition. The rather cheap smelling jasmine doesn't let anything else emerge past it on my skin, and the overall impression is boring and uninspired. I don't expect Lutens and Sheldrake to repeat themselves and do the same thing again and again and again. I don't even demand they only do stuff that I like. But tedious and monotonous are traits I never associate with these two gentlemen.

I have no idea how exactly Mr. Lutens thought this juice evokes the world of nuns or any of his mixed emotions towards them. I've found this excellent interview with him nearly impossible to process. I've always known that my favorite uncle might not be the best guest at my imaginary dinner party (you know, the one with Dorothy Parker, Oscar Wilde, Tim Gunn, Pierre Guillaume, and a selection of my closest friends). But his inner world confused me so much that when I shared the link on Facebook I also made the comment that I've never ever felt more American or more of an agnostic Jew than after reading this interview. Just as with La Réligieuse, I don't get it.

Serge Lutens- La Réligieuse ($150, 50ml EDP) is available from Twisted Lily, Luckyscent, and the rest of the old haunts.

Image: The Jasmine Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker, c.1925.