Sunday, January 30, 2011

Things Ornamented No. 1

The genetically extinct Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit. Ears have been painted to differentiate.

Chanel PreFall '11


Granville Island



Hall and Dining Car from the Indian Pacific (Railway across the Nullarbor Desert - Australia)


Etruscan Dressing Room

Strawberry Hill House

Photos sourced from Etsy, Flickr, and google. Contact me for attribution or removal. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hermessence Ambre Narguile Review

Kind of difficult to put a finger on exactly what I expect from something associated with the great fashion house Hermes.  Whatever it is, it's not this.  My first thoughts after applying were: Not for me, but I don't all together hate it.  About ten minutes later I completely changed my mind: I alltogether hate it.

The best way I can describe Ambre Narguile is to say that it walks the line between ugly and pretty....and it walks it like a toddler...who is drunk...on milk that is so far gone it's alcoholic (this doesn't seem possible..).  It's really more the line between small domestic animal urine and apple pie.  There is obviously amber there, and a pretty heavy gourmand cinnamon/apple combo that would put me off from the beginning. But the real kicker...and this is going to sound pretty smells like the smell of a person who (unconciously) lets their environment become their perfume.  For example, houses that smell of only laundry and mac and cheese and kitty litter.  Well there are those people who just sort of smell like weird coddled spoiled-milk-drinking children (well into their adult years) and you wonder what combination of events lead them to smell like that until you visit their house.  It's the smell of a person who just doesn't care and I'm not a fan of those people. I guess in this way, it's too realistic of smell for me....or anyone.  It might take a special special person to pull this off.  I don't want to meet them. Unless it's Martha Stewart because I could really see that happening.

It was disturbing enough that I walked out of my front door, locked it, jumped into my car, started the engine....and was so appalled by the way I smelled that I ran back into the house and doused myself in Kiehl's Musk.  Even then, I still smell this absolutely bothersome perfume clawing its way out.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Guerlain Apres L'Ondee EDT Review

I like it right off the bat, it speaks volumes about the morning I awoke to.  The kind of morning where, curtains drawn and blinds lowered, you have no idea what kind of light awaits you it sunny? Typically overcast? Or...has it just rained...

Well it had. A warm unusual rain for the season, a sprinkling misty subtropical rain...a southern hemisphere rain that you don't really see around these parts but on a summer morning (which it IS NOT).  I kid you not.  Apres L'Ondee: "After a (Summer) Rain"

We had brunch in the natural light from my two small windows.  I felt like a nice arrangement would be fitting for the smell.

Bao, Nectarines and Heirloom tomatoes, Garlic Fries from Trader Joe's (really great, whole bits of garlic!), Will had an Illy Cappuccino and I had Jasmine Pearl Tea with black honey from Black Sheep Prodigal Sons courtesy of Kieran.

Back to the perfume...

This smells to me--literally note for note--exactly like a Lush deodorant called Aromacreme I used a few years ago which has since  then been discontinued.  Let me say: it worked horribly as a deodorant, amazing to smell and it did deodorize, but 90% of those who used it broke out in horrible swollen fire rash a few days later.   I found other ways of using it (on my wrists, in my hair...) because I simply loved the smell.  And today, I daubed some Apres L'Ondee on my wrists for the first time and I wondered why there was something just very strange about it.

Florals (Iris, Violet, Hawthorn ((I have no idea what Hawthorn smells like but supposedly it's there)), Heliotrope? Rose, and I smell some Jasmine too) mingle with top notes of Anise (lots of this) and mint.  It's a very refreshing scent but not vegetal....more powdery and resinous. There is an oriental quality about it (ylang ylang-esque).  I'm sad to say the orchestration doesn't last as long as I hoped. Perhaps the EDP will be better.

If you, like many, hate the Jovan-esque 80's-90's musks you might also hate Apres L'Ondee.  It doesn't directly smell like those, but it just has a faint reminder of those compositions.  Visually, Apres L'Ondee is like taking a morning tea after the night rains are being lifted by the sun.  It's very atmospheric and ornate.  Kind of like my nails today:

Exactly what I might wear to a fancy tea be in character of course. Revlon's new "Cloud" (milky blue/lavender) with swiss dots of Sally Hansen's "Gilty Pleasure". 

I like/love this. I'm glad I waited till I was saturated with musky/spicy/peppery/resinous perfumes to try this one.   I love the connotations, I love the warm renewed after-rain smell, I love that it has an oriental richness without being heady, I love that it has minted anise qualities without being cheap (though it does smell a little bit like toothpaste...fair warning).  My dying wish is that the EDP will be a little more boastful and  as lingering as Piper Nigrum is on me. I'm looking for MY Guerlain smell, because there seems to be that ONE for each person, and who knows...maybe this is it?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Guerlain Jicky EDT Review


I don't have much to say about Jicky.  Which means that if we are speaking about Jicky in terms of the girl that it is supposed to represent, the new Jicky must be an dull and immature young lass. She's pleasant yes, strong bergamot mingling with vanilla. According to basenotes the construction is as follows:

Top Notes:  Lemon, Mandarin, Bergamot, Rosewood
Middle Notes:  Orris, Jasmin, Patchouli, Rose, Vetiver
Base Notes:  Leather, Amber, Civet, Tonka, Incense, Benzoin

I can't speak to the Patchouli, Jasmin, Civet, or Incense.  But all the rest seem very accesible in this perfume.  Together they create something akin to a London Fog (for those of you who aren't beverage afficianados: Earl Gray tea, vanilla extract, steamed milk).  I'm having trouble thinking of what sort of woman would want to go around reeking of london fog.  I think, in fact, not a woman...but a girl...

It dried down to a very creamy creamy vanilla.  Sort of like milk candy.  Not just vanillic...but VANILLA.  Maybe even vanilla icecream. Almost any gourmand is too much gourmand for me.

So it boils down to this:  I'm guessing that at one point Jicky was a curious and breathtaking woman with a classy dose of disagreeability.  The reformulation seems to have leached out all the valuable components of the original and left behind the shell of that woman--and made her 15 years younger.  It's unfortunate, because you expect much out of the first abstract style perfume, released at the worlds fair along with the Eifle tower and electricity. For many it was and is the finest perfume ever created, walking the line between ugliness and beauty.  This is not the same perfume.  For me, something is lost.  Something that cannot be replaced by the easiness of what is left.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Caron Tabac Blond Review

"Ernest Daltroff created Tabac Blond to complement French women who, after World War I, picked up American women’s acceptance of smoking in public."

" It is a fragrance for women who smoke cigarettes, since a cigarette was, at that time, the perfect symbol of freedom and chic of a Parisian woman."

I think this says so much about this perfume.  It's a challenge.  Not a challenge in an agressive way. Not 'Look how different I can be!'....but more...'I did something a little dangerous, I did it very well, and frankly I don't care if you're looking.'

It is described as having notes of leather, carnation, lime blossom, iris, vetiver, ylang-ylang, cedar, patchouli, vanilla, ambergris, and musk but I gather that I had a slightly different experience wearing it.

The initial notes for me included the obvious leather and tabacco.  I may be the only one who gets a distinct almond or dark cherry out of the mix.  However, this quickly dissapates, leaving behind the leather and tabacco, and the beauty of the scent is revealed.  Daltroff seems to have created something akin to church incense using a musk/ambergris/and yes, perhaps the cedar.  The stage of the perfume is it's defining moment and it really is "beautiful" is every sense of the word.  The hint of carnation adds a bit of pepperiness to balance those intense smokey notes.  The only bothersome note was the gournand combo I got from the almond/cherry and vanilla notes...something akin to dark chocolate which was easily forgettable.

It's a lingering smell.  The drydown leaves behind a pretty distinct mix of powdery vanillic musk that reminds of quite a bit of a sweetened black tea.  And how fitting an end!

I was in the middle of a 3 hour drawing class and for obvious reasons,wearing a new perfume seems to heighten all my senses to the point of mild synesthesia.  I noticed a girl sitting opposite from me on the other side of the room.  She must have been Malaysian, Fillipino or Vietnamese with features like an Avatar character--big exotically shaped eyes, dark olive skin, long straight black hair, a thin face and a sad inquisitive expression that seemed very natural.   What took me by surprise was the vividness of her emerald green chiffon blouse.  It was the most surprising, difficult color but it suited her in every way (she was also wearing gold..which I think is also a great descriptor for this perfume).  I don't think this girl knew the kind of impressions she made. Which is why she really isn't a Tabac Blond kind of person.  The Tabac Blond woman is fully aware of who she is.  She is not feminine, nor girly, but womanly.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Annick Goutal Mandragore EDT

I wanted to like this a lot. It appears it's being marketed as a scent imbued with mysticism and witchery.  The climate these days is really lending itself to that and despite the slightly cheesy bottle ( the frosted royal purple with gold filligree print/top above), it sounded very promising...and certainly different from my normal perfume wardrobe. Besides, I was wearing some new Ralph Lauren paisley fishnets today so...why not?

The opening smells for me were in the anise/fennel/licorice family.  While I would say that it was probably the anise/fennel being emphasized, I could definitely detect the sacharine sweetness that licorice root leaves behind. Those of you who drink licorice root teas like Market Spice will know what I mean when I say it can be really overbearing.  Not so in Mandragore, good in that respect.  The bergamot is also strong, punched up with something akin to lime and a detectable mint is also present.

Now the mandrake.  The entire scent is supposed to be based off this potently magical root.  Well, to me, roots are just not very sexy.  To my understanding, the combination of vegetal greeness with the above mentioned notes is supposed to conjure up some witchy seductive dark scent of mandrake but...let's be honest...who of us really knows what a mandrake root smells like?!  It probably smells like a rutabega (Ew).  That being said, the final opus was not so bad.

The real dissapointment of this perfume was not the tacky bottle, nor the questionable vegetal smell, nor the cheapness and overproduction of absinthe-y smells in the last few years.  No, it was the hour it took for the heart of the perfume to dissapear altogether and leave behind nothing more than a powedery vegetal citrus whiff (probably my least favorite notes in the entire composition).  I feel sorry for you Mandragore, I was too easily swayed by your mystical aesthetic and lush title.   Yet your promising complex begginings ended in a Bath and Body Works spritzer. I was practically begging to love you with my fishnets and my black and gold flecked nails (Sally Hansen Sequin Scandal!) ....

I sure hope your Eau de perfume is vastly better but I doubt I'll bother to find out.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

L'Artisan Nuit De Tubereuse

I was fairly excited to try L'Artisan's Nuit de Tubereuse because I've always loved Tuberose and it had some favorable reviews. I've never worn or even thought of wearing a tuberose based perfume because I've never seen myself as a floral person and they tend to be the kind of perfumes (that is, those with a floral core) which bother me eventually. There is something a little remarkable about this one.

According to my best open minded opinion, Nuit De Tubereuse opens with an initial blast of floriental tuberose (as one would expect), but almost instantaneously I caught something round and denser like tonka bean. There was a note perhaps more powerful than anything else that I couldn't put my finger on till about mid day when I was so certain there was a gourmand element hidden...well not so much hidden....lemongrass! Maybe not what L'Artisan had in mind, but it's sure very present to me. It's really what makes the scent for me too. I sat in my Art History lecture staring at Fragonard's "The Secret Meeting". Two procelaine like figures, lovers, convening as the day grew thin in a dreamlike landscape of swollen pale pink blossoms. It seemed like maybe a conincidence, but I feel like that painting was embodying a little bit of Nuit de Tubereuse and even more a coincidence that we immediatly went on to talk about Chinoiserie.

Here I think is the best way I can describe Nuit de Tubereuse. One who is familiar with Chinoiserie will know that it usually specifically pertains to oriental artwork and porcelaine craft adopted by Western society (particularly France). The two realms combine to create something inherently exotic but also elevated by ornate Rococo flourishes and European elegance. I've always been fascinated by Orientalism because of my roots as a half asian half european mix. The concept seemed like the embodiment of my own personal culture.

Nuit de Tubereuse takes the raw, elemental, exotic energies of tuberose and lemongrass, and adds a significant touch of tonka bean, an animalic musk, clove, cardamom, with a strong backdrop of tobacco to elevate two realms of scent that are, to me, both equally present in the perfume. It's curious, seductive, and very likeable at the same time. Soemthing primal, something sophisticated. In addition, I think this is one of those scents which plays upon the psyche a little. I began to notice the animalic musk around the same moments when I was drifiting into my reverie about two lovers in a secret meeting...perhaps it was really only then that the scent saw its full potential. I think some of the best perfumes do this to us, and I'm hoping I'm not the only one.

I actually wore Piper Nigrum the day before I tried out Nuit de Tubereuse and Piper Nigrum was an instant hit for me...though unexplainably, I wasn't moved yet to write about it in the same way I am with Nuit de Tubereuse.

Most descriptions of the perfume boast of orange blossom and black and pink peppers but I could smell none to speak of today. Perhaps another day?