Showing posts with label Perfume-Smellin' Things. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Perfume-Smellin' Things. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Two Perfume Addicts Walk Into Scent Bar... or: How I bought Bois 1920 Extreme and learned to love geranium

The impromptu business trip my husband had in Los Angeles gave me a perfect opportunity to:
a. Escape the miserable weather
b. Meet my scent twin, Tom
c. Visit Scent Bar

What could be better?
All of the above plus eating heavenly macarons that taste like Paris. But more on that later.

Over the last decade I've met several online friends from various web sites. But Tom and I share something special (other than perfume addiction, love for elliptical trainers and certain way of looking at the world): We smell alike. I'm not sure if it's perception, skin chemistry or both, but we're definitely scent twins. I go on many sniffing adventures with my husband and have always made liberal use of his skin to test more perfumes than my limbs allow, but if I want to know exactly how something smells, I need to spray it on Tom. It's quite amusing, really, and Tom, who is every bit as charming, funny and witty as he in his writing , is a perfect twin.

My husband might not fully admit it, but I suspect he was just as eager to play with the pretty bottles in the store. He knows what he likes (spice, insence, vetiver) and what he doesn't (marine notes), which helped him find and fall in love with L’homme sage by Divine. It is, indeed, divine, and I'll have to spend some time exploring its rich goodness soon.

In the mean time, Tom and I were all over the place, going far out of our normal comfort zone. We tried Miller Harris Geranium Bourbon, a perfume with notes that should send us running for the hills (cassis berries, lemon geranium, turkish rose), only to discover that it's beyond gorgeous with our jaded chemistry. He bought a bottle and I would have done the same if I hadn't given my left wrist another sniff and realized that while I couldn't remember what I sprayed there, the nameless scent was the most beautiful thing I came across that day.

Tom checked my wrist and commented, "you just found your holy grail and lost it". No way. I was not leaving the store without my mystery perfume, so I started tracing back my steps until I found it: Bois 1920 Extreme. It went home with me.

Masculine scent? Who cares? No wonder my scent twin is a guy (and I'm ordering the Miller Harris soon. I need it for spring)

Now for those macarons... Read Tom's post about them in his blog and his account of our meeting on Perfume Smellin' Things.

Fern photo: WCS

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Serge Lutens- Ambre Sultan

Every once in a while I find a perfume that makes me stop in my tracks and realize that "this" is how things should smell. It's the scent equivalent of what Tim Gunn calls "Soul Stirrers" when he talks about clothes people should keep in their wardrobes (versus all those "meh" items that should never have been bought to begin with). In Serge Lutens collection of Soul Stirrers, Ambre Sultan manages to remain a major achievement.

On my skin, Ambre Sultan is very gourmand, from top to base. The spicy-herbal opening of coriander, bay leaf and oregano takes me straight to foreign markets and exotic kitchens (even though they are all staples in my own kitchen, so how exotic can it really be?). It goes greener and more resinous before settling into a sweet benzoin-vanilla base that still sparkles with amber and spice and completely lacks the powder quality that so often comes with the territory.

The rich and dark qualities make Ambre Sultan perfect for a cold day, though I loved the courage displayed by Tom, who reviewed it for Perfume Smellin' Things and braved it successfully on a July day in L.A..

Unlike another big amber (which I love and wear), Ambre Russe (Parfum d'Empire), this isn't boozey and only half as sweet. It also stays closer to my skin, and while long lasting (12 hours, easily), despite the assertive blast of the first spray it is not a sillage monster and can be used generously. I love having a significant amount of it on me. It feels like my favorite cashmere dress, warm and cozy, refined, well-made and incredibly flattering.

Ambre Sultan is available from top department stores (Neiman's, Barneys, Bergdorf in the US, Selfridges in the UK) as well as from Aedes in NYC and Scent Bar in Los Angeles. It can also be bought in a bell jar from the Salon du Palais Royal Shiseido in Paris.

Art from The Vinings Gallery: Journey Inward II by Pamela Sukhum.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Once upon a time it was 1992. Everyone and their sister were wearing Calvin Klein : Either Escape or Eternity (their mothers were still wearing Poison). Then came Thierry Mugler and created his chocolate infused fruity-floral, which became the scent of the decade and stank up elevators around the globe.

Try as I might, I can't think of another gourmand fragrance that gained this much popularity prior to Angel. I actually think that this was what started the trend (epidemic?) of "yummy". Perfumes used to smell sexy, seductive, pretty, clean, dangerous... Not edible. Can you imagine one of the great houses of yore creating a scent that would make you think of fudge?

The "yummy" factor makes the Angel wearer want to bathe in it. Hence the very successful line of Angel bath and body products. And the amount of the stuff sprayed by the fans. Now, I'm the last person who can complain about strong perfumes and the amount sprayed. I love my fragrances, I want to smell them on myself for hours and I want you to smell them on me. And, I expect compliments on my good taste. But even I have to put the limit somewhere, and making the entire room, movie theater, or subway car smell like this chocolaty melon and peach concoction is criminal.

Angel has spawned countless imitators and several legitimate offspring. I'm actually fond of Angel Innocent, because it lacks the harsh fruity opening with the weird chocolate, and instead there's a honeyed musky dry-down that works quite nicely on my skin. The amber helps as well.

Angel haters can be divided to two groups. The first is the anti patchouli people. I'm not one of them. While there are many examples of patch gone wild, I'm more likely to enjoy it. I belong to the group who recoils at the fruity blast of the opening. Melon and peach are among the notes I dislike most and never work for me. It's everything I dislike in a fruity floral, and no amount of chocolate can help it.

This is why, upon reading Marina's review of Il Profumo's Chocolat Frais I wasn't all that thrilled at the chance of trying it on. But I did have the sample and I do write a beauty blog, so there I was, applying this fragrance to my skin...

The bad news is that Marina was right. It's another Angel clone, from the first pineapple note (funny how often a chocolate note turns pineapple. Some smell it in Tom Ford's Black Orchid, while I have no idea what they're talking about, but I fully get it here). It develops very much like Angel and gives the same foody vibe.

The good news is that it's not as bad or as fruity. It's a kinder, gentler Angel. When the pineapple goes away, the feel of it is closer to Angel Innocent, even if not as musky and not as long lasting. It's an okay fragrance, really.

The only question is: Why?