Reviews by smh78

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    smh78
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    Showing 1 to 19 of 19.
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    Miss Dior Chérie L'Eau by Christian Dior

    Well it is certainly much better than Miss Dior Chérie, which was a truly atrocious fruit and caramel explosion, girly in all the wrong ways. This has an almost herbaceous nature, a sort of accord between florals, citrus, and woods, and is certainly greener and more natural smelling than its predecessor, which are all plusses in my book. The problem is, as with most modern perfumes, it takes absolutely no chances. I doubt I would recognize this scent again if I smelled it on someone, It smells generic, and too watery. A safe bet, but nothing special.

    08 April, 2010

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    Sensuous by Estée Lauder

    First of all, the bottle is gorgeous, and it's hard to describe the attachment I have formed to it. Something about the way the little glass ridges feel in my hand--it makes the bottle feel almost oily, but in a good way, like I'm caressing some smooth, well-oiled alien skin. The color is perfect too; it is not pink nor copper nor yellow, but somewhere in between all of them, with a sort of mid-century blocky rose gold cap. Mine stays right on my bedside table, and I find myself admiring its form from time to time. Granted, it's no exotic bottle, but something about this perfume just does it for me.

    We first fell in love two summers ago, as I wandered the Bloomingdale's on Sixth Ave. in search of a gift to present some Brazilian hosts I had never met, who were putting us up for my brother's wedding to one of their nieces. Well, we didn't fall in love at Bloomingdales; we had to get to know each other better. But despite my better judgement--I was getting on a plane to Brazil later that day, and usually don't like to wear unfamiliar fragrances in case they should make me ill-- I allowed a shopgirl to spritz me. The scent struck me immediately as unpleasantly sweet, and I became concerned that I had made a major error in judgement.But the perfume on my skin stayed, and it miraculously morphed into something rich and strange, as I flew on that yucky overnight to Brazil. Gone was the initial, cloying sweetness, replaced with something deep and incensy and peppery that simply wouldn't go away, and I loved it. No Loooooved it. I mean, this juice sent up a gorgeous olfactory swan song when I stepped into my shower in Rio, -- a day and a half and a whole continent and a nasty sweaty plane ride followed by airport shenanigans followed by long taxi ride later! Serious sillage. I couldn't wait to get back to the states and buy my very own bottle to have and to hold.

    According to the fabulous perfume website Basenotes, the topnotes in the Sensuous formula are Ghost Lily Accord, Magnolia, and Jasmine, the middle notes are Molten Woods and Amber, and the basenotes are Black Pepper, Mandarin Pulp, and Honey. The topnotes must be the culprits for that slightly too-sweet opening, but luckily, they fade back and just sweeten the dark core of this frag ever so subtly. Somedays, maybe when my own PH has taken a turn for the sweet side, I feel like it stays too sweet, but most days, it becomes a sort of enveloping comfort shawl; I feel sexier and more grounded when I can sense Sensuous' blanket of peppery, woody incense surrounding me.

    One final note. This perfume smells INCREDIBLE on wool, or around wool. Don't ask me why, but its qualities are enhanced by that wooly smell. I know this because I live in a wet, cold climate that requires wool wearing, well, all the time, practically. And Sensuous comes into its own with wool. It becomes just a little more complex, getting an almost burnt quality, or a almost like a roasting coffee-ness that I absolutely adore.

    08 April, 2010

    rating


    M2 Black March by CB I Hate Perfume

    The smell of black earth being turned over in a moist spring, complete with earthworms and rotten leaves. An incredibly evocative fragrance, and perfect for me today; I have been dying to garden, to get my hands in the dark earth, but alas, we live in a condo now, and gone are the glorious days of gardening for hours and hours while avoiding my teaching responsibilities and my dissertation.

    I wonder what my mother would think of this perfume. I must save up and buy her a bottle. She grew up on a wheat farm, and she tells me that one of her favorite things to do as a little girl was to fill up an empty glass Coke bottle with dirt and then drink it. She laughs about it now, joking that she must have had some sort of vitamin deficiency that was righted by consuming that rich farm dirt, but I know it is because she just deeply and truly loves dirt. SHe loves its smell, appearance, and even its taste. I am glad I have inherited my mother's palate. I too love the bitter, earthy, dark flavors and smells, and I am grateful to have been given this innate appreciation for the complex.

    Alas, the full impact of the glorious dirt smell fades in the first 2 minutes of wear, but what remains is decidedly pleasant in its own right. it is certainly a thin, watery 'rainy' smell, nothing special, but nothing I want to scrub off either. It is an intriguingly unidentifiable accord of watery floral notes, with just a tiny lingering hint of that fabulous dirt smell. Ok, now I have been wearing it for over an hour, and the dirt smell is back, but changed and blended with the green floral. SO INTERESTING. I would happily wear this all the time.

    08 April, 2010

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    The One by Dolce & Gabbana

    Ok, the one for whom? This is nice, a well-blended fragrance. The peachy top notes are round and warm-smelling, and the musk blends in nicely. It is not cloyingly fruity or floral, which is certainly a virtue, and it is hard to figure out what scents are at play here, which I think is actually pretty cool. The ultimate result is a creamy, peachy, super-feminine effect, with not great sillage. I don't get the bergamot or the other citrus topnotes at all here. I appreciate that D & G is not catering to the masses too much here. It is not that overly sugary, fruity, lollipop profile which has plagued the industry for years. That said, this perfume is not 'the one' in much the same way as Scarlett Johansson, the poster girl for this fragrance, is not 'the one' in any sense of the word. It is an unexciting, unadventurous scent which relies on a media juggernaut and mass-market unimaginativeness to launch it into some faux 'legendary' category. Just as Scarlett is an extremely pale imitation of real, womanly movie stars, whose image she is emulating in this campaign. The One can wait forsomeone else with lower priorites to make the commitment. I'll leave him on the shelf.

    08 April, 2010

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    Shanghai Butterfly by Nanette Lepore

    Ok, first of all, this has to be one of the worst bottles I have ever seen. SO CHEESEY. So. Late. 90’s. In the worst way. That sort of retro-girly-cosmo cartoon aesthetic that looks oh so dated now. But I sniffed, and liked. I don’t love it, but I feel the reviews I found when I was browsing the internets for other people’s opinions about this scent and in the perfume bibles were a little harsh. Ok, it smells a bit like D & G Light Blue. So what—is that a crime? If emulation is so bad, most perfumers should be locked up by now.
    It’s nothing special, but it is certainly wearable. It is a straightforward fruity floral scent, good for a girly spring mood. It’s like carrying around a fruitbowl filled with apples, oranges, and lemons, which some fairy magicked so that the boughs of fruit blossoms were still on it. The sillage is not great, but, again, not terrible either. It’s something I imagine donning for a casual spring dinner al fresco with friends. If you want to smell like you just chopped up a fruit salad in a flower-filled kitchen, or maybe a bit like a gin and St. Germain cocktail, this will do the trick. It doesn’t strike my nose as particularly synthetic smelling, a comment I saw pop up fairly regularly in other reviews. It smells clean, naïve, and girly. No complexity or intrigue. You could give it to a 13 year old girl and it would suit her just fine, I am sure. A good spring/Summer scent.

    08 April, 2010

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    L'Occitan by L'Occitane

    First of all, this is the wrong pic. There should be a purple-labeled bottle.

    at a party this weekend, my friend suggested I smell her husband. Now I don't usually get invitations from wives to inhale the deep manly scents of their husbands (LOL) so of course I could not refuse! Also, these two are not fragrance mavens and I was surprised this guy would wear anything at all, since he is so involved in his main hobby, cooking, and I imagined he wouldn't want anything to get between him and the smells he conjures from the pan.
    I was not surprised, therefore, to discover this fragrance to have a gourmand edge; the first thing that hit my nose was an accord of herbs and pepper, softened with lavender--perfect for my gourmet friend. I asked what it was, and was delighted to hear it was L'occitan PH; I tend to love l'occitane products, partly from good experiences with them (one of my husband's signature scents is Cade) and partly from nostalgia, since it was in a l'occitan shop in France when I was seventeen that I discovered that fragrances could draw me in. Before that, the synthetics and aldehydes in most mainstream commercials always bothered my sensitive nose, but their natural approach provided a sort of gateway experience which prepared me to become the obsessed freak I am today. (by the way, I have totally gotten over my synthetics hangup, provided the scent is good)

    Anyway, I got my friend to let me have a spritz, and was assailed again with that fabulous pepper-lavender-herbs accord. I wore it around during the morning brunch, and enjoyed what was by then developing into a very spicy pepper/nutmeg/cedar combination that was powerful, yet played nicely with my food. I can totally imagine women wearing this as well. The drydown--which happened hours later, when I was driving back home with my husband, was a sweet musky cedar, almost too sweet, but not quite. It lasted until I fell asleep.

    08 April, 2010

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    Miss Dior Chérie (original) by Christian Dior

    This is girly, sugary, and not unpleasant, but nothing I would buy for myself or anyone else. The sugary fruitiness does pull away fairly quickly, leaving a decent patchouli base lingering on its lonesome. But there's the rub; who needs another fruity, sugary, patchouli scent? Nobody. But because it's Dior, it is bought by hordes of young things, or people who want to smell like sugar-coated young things, although for the life of me I can't imagine why. One of the delights of growing older is being able to grow into more interesting perfumes than concoctions such as these. Too expensive to be worth it.

    08 April, 2010

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    Blu Mediterraneo Marine Oak / Quercia Marina by Acqua di Parma

    Today is another grey day, complete with rain, so I decided to wear something powerful today that will stimulate my imagination. Acqua di Parma's Quercia Marina seems to be the ticket. I love the salty masculinity of this juice. It is powerful, yet well-constructed. I smell cedar, of course, lots of it, and a bunch of bitter herbs, violet, and maybe some vetiver. I bet my dad would love this one. I love it too. I intend to get a full bottle (soon, because it's apparently discontinued) and wear it on days I want to be powerful and send masculine signals. Definitely a contender for the 'job interview' category. I wonder why this was discontinued. I guess it smells too natural for the power-hungry business dudes this is probably supposed to appeal to. They are probably wearing Hugo Boss, the idiots!

    I love how Italian this smells too. I am starting to identify a specifically Italian aesthetic in perfumery--a tendency towards more tonic, herbal smells, less sexy than the France, but also, perhaps, more gorgeously historical. I mean, stretching back into the past of cologne, before modern perfumery was around, even before Napoleon bathed in cologne water. I get the sense of a deep history of perfume chemists in a Santa Maria Novella or an Acqua di Parma, of a tradesman dropping off bespoke bottles of a certain formulation at the back entrance of Lorenzo di Medici's mistress' townhouse before trudging back along the filthy Florentine streets to get back to his apothecary.

    08 April, 2010

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    Alien by Thierry Mugler

    At first sniff this smells God-awful. Like some super heady synthetic sludge. Synthetic and overpowering, not nice at all. It has a sweet play-doh-y feeling and a slight woodiness--but the woodiness seems very synthetic and not very deep to me. I can say that it does smell very foreign, and very alien, and that's not just the ad copy influencing me. The question is, is it a good kind of foreignness, or is it just wrong? As those awful and scary topnotes dry down, the jasmine, the best aspect of this fragrance, comes to the front. The Jasmine and vanilla combine to create a sweet accord which to my nose lacks depth. I keep wanting the woods to come out more to play. The first two hours after the loss of that awful synthetic ugh are this lovely jasmine powder scent, which is very appealing. I begin to like it more the longer I wear it. It is like the smell of jasmine soap in the shower when it picks up the unwashed human body smell and becomes sort of tangy and vanilla-y. Alien at this point seems old-fashioned but still synthetic, and it retains hints of that same weirdness that are so disturbing at the beginning.

    Unfortunately, just as I was about to add this intriguing scent to my bottle wishlist--I need a nice jasmine-the jasmine pulled away, and I was left with a cheap smelling synthetic on my arm with way too much longevity. I mean, all of a sudden, it started smelling like the more egregiously synthetic abominations of Bath and Body works. Just bad.

    08 April, 2010

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    Vetiver by Guerlain

    This gorgeous cologne has to be the holy grail of men's woody fragrances. I cannot get enough of it. It smells like cedar, but a cedar in heaven, surrounded by ferns and fragrant oriental spices. I really don't think it could be improved. Perfect balance, seemingly simple, yet so evocative and handsome. I imagine green forest, fresh and moist, with moss growing on craggy rocks. It is twilight, it has just finished raining, and all the leaves of the woodland plants have been bruised ever so slightly, and they all give off an incredible scent.

    When I lived in Montana, I used to go with my friends to this natural hot spring out in a cedar forest. We would have to hike in a mile or so, often through wet snow, to get to a miraculous place, where hot water bubbled out of the side of a mountain and cascaded into a green/blue river. You could sit in this river an remain warm in a little pool of water from the hot spring. It was truly heaven, and it smelled humid and musky and herbaceous and cedary just like Vetiver.

    Guerlain is right on the money, as usual here. This does not strike me as formal or old fashioned, although it does have a certain classical structure. It is too good to be described as even a woody scent, since it is also a dirt fragrance and a spice fragrance. If Merlin wore cologne, this is what he would wear. It is mysterious, dark, and intensely natural. Amazing!

    08 April, 2010

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    English Lavender by Yardley

    I bought a bottle of this for my husband, who loves the smell of lavender, the sweet dear! It has quite a nice almost medicinal-smelling herbal punch in the first few minutes after spraying, then dries down to a very sedate, yes, English-smelling lavender, rounded out with a bit of powder and sage. The problem with all lavenders, as far as I can tell, is that they have almost no staying powder, making lavender one of those essential yet ephemeral elements in perfumery. I would like someday to find a true lavender scent which lasts and lasts, although to my knowledge, such a creature is an impossibility. Yardley does the trick for that fleeting hour or so of lavender joy, then fades away.

    08 April, 2010

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    Eau d'Orange Verte by Hermès

    I love true citrus fragrances, and this Hermes always hits the spot for me. It has a very classic profile, and is extremely well-mannered. It opens with a lovely, extremely true, sour citrus, then quickly dries down to a lovely, gentlemanly bergamot/oakmoss. Although I love my large sample of this, I will never invest in a bottle simply because I have found it to have almost no staying power. If it were a 30 dollar bottle, this wouldn't be a problem, but at this price point, its better just to keep a little sample around to sniff from time to time.That is the problem with citrus in general. It doesn't seem to hang around too long.

    08 April, 2010

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    Bel Ami by Hermès

    Hermes bel ami is a gorgeous surprise! The citrus at the top is perfectly calibrated with the spice and the woods below it, and smells so refined. I get a little dirt topsoil note too-probably vetiver, that grounds this and makes it spread out. It reminds me--in the best way-- of sweat, bitter and salty, and I can imagine being very turned on by a man who wore this. What blows me away about this is that it smells so complete, so perfect in its way, both rough and rounded. A contradiction in its very nature. I guess that is what leather is: something that is smooth yet durable and edgy at the same time. I love the idea of a perfume paradox.

    08 April, 2010

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    Tea Rose by Perfumer's Workshop

    Don’t let the cheapness, the incredibly yellow juice, or the straightforwardness of the name put you off buying this perfume. I f you want a soliflore—and sometimes nothing else will do, Tea Rose is right on the mark. It smells exactly like a tea rose, and there’s not much more to say, beyond that it is lovely, big, and bloomy, and fabulous. My husband loves this perfume on me, because it reminds him, as he says, of pure happiness, of the feelings he felt when we first began dating (for the first time around). When pressed for more details, he says it reminds him of me wearing my red silk embroidered Chinese robe, pouring tea for him the morning after, and a particularly good shower with me in my old rickety garret apartment in Missoula….enough said. No wonder he gets so excited when I wear it.

    But I won’t wear it all the time, nor am I eager to make it a ‘signature’ scent, as much as I know he would love that, because I find it to be, well, onedimensional. I mean this in the best of ways, of course. When rose and nothing else but rose will do, Tea Rose is your girl. But complex she is not. I find her fabulous as a layerer—I like to rub on some solid woody balm like Zents Earth or Pacifica’s Sandalwood and then spritz Tea Rose over the top. That is always a fun experiment, because the rose will float over the top of the deeper scents, and really shine.

    I also kind of dig the packaging. It feels sort of art deco Seventies in the coolest of ways, and I love it for that. That’s what I was in my younger days. A hippie who loved old things and thought she hated perfume. Who would only wear something that smelled like ‘the real thing.’ I identified with Tea Rose, with its aesthetic, with its cheapness, with everything about it. I have changed, and my tastes have become more complex, but I will always have a soft spot in my heart for this, the first perfume I fell in love with, and I will certainly always have a spot for it on my shelf.

    08 April, 2010

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    Samsara by Guerlain

    I am deeply in love with Samsara. I have decided, upon reflection, to like the name, even, since the deeply seductive nature of this perfume would certainly derail anybody on the path to enlightenment. I have yet to try the newer formulations, but in my opinion, the treatment of sandalwood here is exceptional--as good as, dare I say it, Chanel's Bois des Iles. I don't care if some find it an inferior Guerlain. They are just letting crap ad copy get in their way, I believe.

    On my dry skin, the sandalwood lasts and lasts, and the jasmine functions as a sort of shimmering infusion. In the EDT, the opening is slightly unpleasant--green,hyperfloral, and slightly cloying, but wait ten minutes, and you'll find yourself on a boat to a dreamspace full of warm sheets, aromatic woods, and beautiful dark-eyed women. This is actually a skin scent on me; you have to get close to me to detect it, and it really enhances the sort of creamy nutty qualities of my skin, I think. It also layers exceptionally well.

    08 April, 2010

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    Cashmere Mist by Donna Karan

    Well, maybe it's me, and maybe it's jasmine, but all the supposedly successful white flower bomb, jasmine perfumes don't seem to do it for me. I have been wearing Cashmere Mist today, and in spite of the woody notes, the scent is simply too one-dimensional, too sickly sweet, to make me want to invest in a bottle, especially when I feel Avon can do as good of a job with a perfume this uninspiring for an eighth of the price. The musky bit of it is ok, and the hint of woods is intriguing, but in the end it just comes off as a generic perfume with nothing in particular to recommend it. Nothing interesting happens in its lifespan; you put it on, and wear it until it wears off.

    I can see how this could be a comfort scent for some, perhaps the same crowd of people who are overly influenced by ad copy and think 'cashmere=comfy & luxurious, so this perfume must be both those things too." But I am pretty sure, as I sit here and sniff myself, that 'comfortable' would be about the last adjective I'd use to describe myself if I had to drive around in a closed car wearing this scent. I shudder to think about it. I wish perfumers would do a better job of keeping ugly powders out of their so-called woody scents. I think I'd rather smell a cashmere goat.

    08 April, 2010

    rating


    Bois des Îles by Chanel

    Rainy day=Bois des Îles: Well, it's a rainy, moist, somewhat gloomy day here in my town--typical spring, I guess. Luckily, I have just the remedy for the sluggish malaise that can creep up on me on days like these. Chanel's Bois des Îles interacts with the wet, muddy, rainy smell in the most miraculous way, making even the most mundane walk to the library seem like a mystical event of deep significance. The rainy smell makes the sandalwood go nuts, and it becomes like a prayer to divinity, offered up on my skin. I feel cloaked in an aura of otherworldliness, an untouchable magical splendor. (I must wear this to my job interviews next year). The bitter nutty notes add just the slightest edge to the warmth of the gingerbread. This is a masterwork, and every time I don it I feel like I am wearing a work of art of the highest order.

    And that is the best thing about perfume. It offers a forum for the individual to interact with art in a deeply personal way, beyond even music, at least when heard passively. Aside from the experience of playing great music, which allows one to interact with and interpret a great master's art, no other medium allows the individual to encounter, interact with, and change the meaning of a master's work.

    I am off to work, armed against the elements with this sublime fragrance. I know the Bois des Îles will insulate me against all mishap, emotional and physical, as a talisman against the darkness.....

    08 April, 2010

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    Cuir de Russie by Chanel

    What a revolutionary perfume Cuir de Russie must have been in its day! It is so masculine, so gender-bending, that I imagine it would make a huge splash today--and ruffle some feathers. This is classy, classy, classy woman-as-man scent, and it has a certain theatricality to it, a sort of "I'm pushing the limits" cigarry edginess, but then the florals swoop in, and it says, 'I'm only kidding; I'm just a woman, after all.' Like all classic Chanels, for better (Bois des Iles) or worse (No. 5), this is a super complex thing; it tells a very upper-class story. I imagine one of those virago femme fatales that populate Wodehouse novels wearing this; brassy, horsey, masculine, yet deeply feminine, with hidden urges towards female role-playing that need only the right situation to bring them out. A tour de force, truly, something that both sweeps one's imagination into the past and fits in perfectly into our own postmodern world.

    08 April, 2010

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    Violetta di Parma by Borsari

    This is a gorgeous violet; it immediately conjures the most delicate mindspaces--Italian forest floors in spring, when the little violets peep out from the leaf mold, delicate mountain streams you come upon just knowing that you surprised a bathing nymph, since a delicate, haunting odor pervades the air. A tin of violet pastilles, floral, musky, and with that core of violet/anise. E.M. Forster's A Room With a View. Diana in a diaphanous linen gown, arrows and bow at her side. The color violet. Sweet breath.

    It smells old-fashioned, yes. And that is wonderful. It is nostalgic for a time of delicate love letters, prolonged courtship, and refined table manners. A time when spring really meant the airing out of one's house and one's life, walks in the countryside, and the delicate surprise of a perfect, scented little flower.

    08 April, 2010

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