Reviews by babsbendix

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    Boudoir by Vivienne Westwood

    I missed out on this one for years, because I disliked how the tester smelled, so never thought to try it on skin.

    There's a particular "rose" + aldehydes combo that's really off-putting to me - it's what I detected in the Boudoir tester, and it or something very similar to it is in Tresor and Red Door, too. Yet in Boudoir, there's another floral accord, must the representation of viburnum, that's unique and wonderful, and enables me to overlook (oversniff?) the other thing.

    When I first tried Boudoir, I was in a perfume store with my mom, and I asked her, "What does this smell like to you?" She swooned, and said, "San Francisco!" which was my impression exactly.

    Which brings me to Parfums DelRae Amoureuse. It's supposed to have an accord like the wonderful blooming trees in San Francisco. It kind of does, yet Boudoir really nails it without specifically trying to. I notice that some have compared Boudoir to Amoureuse, and this unique floral would explain it, because they're very, very different scents.

    I don't get cigarette smoke or ash, though the tobacco note is not of the sweet pipe tobacco variety, but something more like an opened pack of cigs (maybe even CLOVE cigs) in the pocket of a black leather jacket. In fact, one of my bottles leaked into my leather bag when I took it on a plane, and Boudoir definitely smells fantastic with leather, as if leather is part of the composition.

    The closest thing I've smelled to Boudoir is actually another fave, Bellodgia. Whether we call it cloves or carnations in a fragrance, it's all eugenols, innit?

    18 September, 2014 (Last Edited: 19 September, 2014)


    Roberto Cavalli by Roberto Cavalli

    This one's kind of a sleeper, and to me it really does smell like Los Angeles by way of Italy. For it's sweet and ultra femme with some heady orange blossom, though it never has a shrill or tart frooty moment as it saunters along on its expensive platform sandals.

    I think Cavalli's Oro is unusually good - so spicy and warm and beautifully done. I recognize Oro's pink pepper here, and detect a general spicy floral family resemblance. Like Oro, this has some serious throw and lasting power, yet in the drydown it's more cozy casual L.A. than statement Italian, and just sweet and warm and smooth. That said, it's not exactly a young woman's scent. I think the deciding factor would be one's feeling about very sweet white florals with a lot of presence - you'd better like them to try and wear this one!

    I've only smelled two of the Cavalli scents, but their quality has impressed me. Now I'm always tempted to make a blind buy when I see them at T.J. Maxx.

    04 September, 2014


    La Panthère by Cartier

    Since this one is marketed as a "feline floral", a friend who manages fine fragrance at a certain high-end department store had me try it to see what it did, knowing that my chemistry can make even polite lady fragrances go raunchy.

    The result really was amusing - upon hitting my skin there was no fruit, no topnotes, nothing sweet AT ALL, only a memory of gardenia, and one powerful and unrelenting chord: the mid-80s-smelling aldehydic/mossy/musky chypre drydown of something like Ungaro's Diva or Scherrer 2, five hours in when it's all mellowed out and you can barely smell it. On me, La Panthere was that smell isolated and exponentially magnified. It's minimalist, though not thin or cheap smelling.

    It calls the 80s to mind and feels familiar if you're old enough to have been there, yet it's much more subdued and understated in tone - easier to wear - to suit today's more casual mood. La Panthere is elegant and well done, an interesting intellectual exercise.

    In truth, though, if I'm going to go in this direction, I'll wear Diva, because I enjoy its evolution and contrasts. La Panthere is a heck of a lot of that one retro drydown accord, and I don't like it SO much that I need to buy a bottle of it isolated.

    09 August, 2014


    Creations Hue : Naked Honey by M.A.C

    I really loved this when it came out. Honey is one of my favorite fragrance notes, though I find that it's often used just as an accent, and doesn't feature into a scent's profile as much as it does here.
    And I don't know that I've ever actually lived somewhere that had linden trees, yet linden as a perfume note is what my idealized fantasy of spring smells like, a halfway point between wet green grass and mimosa or maybe honeysuckle.

    Linden does seem to be a bit polarizing as a note - I know that some loathe it - and despite how much I've enjoyed it, it never fails to make me have a sneezing fit. So I ended up auctioning Naked Honey, and always missed it. I was reminded of it today, because I've been enjoying Tom Ford Velvet Orchid, and the heart, with its mix of white flowers, something green/sharp, and gobs of honey is...Naked Honey. Not literally and truly, but enough to make me think of it and mention the similarity here for anybody who misses this LE scent.

    04 August, 2014


    Velvet Orchid by Tom Ford

    I've been wearing Velvet Orchid for a few days, and am still wrapping my head around it.

    I was almost entirely persuaded to buy it from a dried spritz on paper, where it was the richest, sweetest, and booziest honey and rum scent, just exactly up my alley.

    Sniffing it closely on skin, it suddenly seemed to sprout a gazillion facets, many of them floral. I picked up on a violet or iris note first, then came a gaggle of flowers. I distinctly smelled the hyacinth, maybe because it's less sweet than the others listed. The overall floral effect reminded me of walking after dark when angel's trumpet, gardenia, and jasmine are all in bloom - it's quite heady - yet the florals are sodden with the gorgeous sweet, resinous notes, which makes it just purr and smolder.

    The only downside is a sharp, sourish green note swirling around that I find to be really horrible and cheap shampoo-like. My skin just happens to amp this note, and whatever it is, it shows up in many other current mainstream perfumes. One review I read said it was if somebody had added a celebrity fragrance to a Tom Ford, and there is that.

    And yet...the sillage wafting up to my nose from my wrist a few feet away is intoxicating and honeyed, just as it had been on paper. So I bought Velvet Orchid, and I do love it, yet it's a very different sort of fragrance from most of the others I own and love. Not its fragrance family - I'm all orientals and florientals - yet usually I am firmly planted in a powdery old world French sensibility that's more intimate and retiring than Velvet Orchid. There is nothing intimate or retiring about this scent! But it's so intoxicating that it's a statement I'll make. Sometimes.

    03 August, 2014


    Ambre & Santal by L'Occitane

    I don't mean to diminish the artistic achievement of this scent by first emphasizing how outright wearable and useful I've found it to be. Hardly a day goes by that I don't start off or end up wearing it, because on its own, it has an alluring smoldering incense quality - serene and not too sweet - that works anytime. And if I decide to wear one of my heavy 1920s French femme standbys, a light layer of Ambre & Santal applied a few hours before or after only complements it.

    It's beautifully and smoothly blended, though if I look for it, I can sometimes pick up on the dry fig note. I do think that's part of its underlying magic, why it smells like what it's called, yet has a certain special something about it that you won't get just by mixing good amber and sandalwood perfume oils, say. That's what I had to determine before buying it, because it was like, Do you REALLY need another amber?

    Well, yeah! It's unique and uniquely wearable. I heartily recommend it.

    23 July, 2014


    Couture Couture by Juicy Couture

    The part of me that enjoys Cacharel's LouLou and Guerlain's Insolence likes Couture Couture, too - while not powdery, like those it is super strong, and super sweet, and has a kind of horrible fake berry/grape-y thing going on.

    Here's what's weird, though - as synthetic as it is, it's as close to the smell of Cestrum Nocturnum, referred to as night-blooming jasmine or Night Queen, as I've ever come across in perfumery. Cestrum Nocturnum vines grow in lots of Hollywood yards, and the smell of their tiny flowers is really different from other varieties of jasmine - it smells very white floral, yet has a distinct sugary grape note that reminds me of grape bubblegum - it's that sweet, even a bit artificial-smelling.

    If you take an evening walk through a hushed Hollywood neighborhood with 1920s Spanish-style houses, and the Night Queen is blooming, you'll feel the old magic of the place. Couture Couture captures this experience well enough that it gives me a nostalgic pang when I first sniff it. It's always done that, as has the original Juicy frag to a lesser extent, and it wasn't until I walked right next to a huge blooming shrub last night that I made the connection.

    17 July, 2014 (Last Edited: 24 August, 2014)


    Désirade by Aubusson

    As a huge fan of sweet, opaque orientals and florientals, and one who enjoys drugstore classics like Tabu, this is probably the most perfume fun I've ever had for $7.99. Once in a while a 3.4 oz bottle of the EDT shows up at Ross, and I'd made a mental note to grab it as I'd heard it reminds people of Boucheron and Joop. Now that I've worn it, yeah, I can see that, but only in a general way - more than literally smelling alike, I'd say they all embody a circa 1990 fragrance zeitgeist.

    (I used to think it was weird that Caron's Parfum Sacre came out in 1990 because it's "better than that", like a vintage classic. And now I see that it does represent this era of opulent florientals, even as it transcends it.)

    Desiderade has some aldehydes; mostly what I get as worn - not sniffed from the bottle or the opening blast - is sweet ylang supported by ripe pineapple, vanilla, and a smidge of spice and resin for interest - coriander and opoponax are listed. I think the EDT concentration is probably a mercy - seems like it could go nuclear and smothering in more concentrated form. As it comes, it wears close, and has a warm and gentle presence. I give it four stars, because I believe it's an accomplishment to make a good, enjoyable scent that's so relatively inexpensive even at full price; many have done less with larger budgets.

    Not as complex, layered, and masterful as Boucheron or Sacre, or as immediately recognizable as Joop, yet a good under-the-radar find if it's your style.

    13 July, 2014


    Boucheron by Boucheron

    This review is for the current EDP.

    I really don't like the opening - strikes me as very harsh and bitter - though I've learned to wear one spray in warmer weather, where it quickly blooms into a soft, deep, billowing, powdery scent that manages to be elegant and approachable at the same time. The green bitterness I initially don't like proves to make the scent balanced and harmonious as it develops.

    For that reason, Boucheron has taken the place in my perfume wardrobe of two older scents that were favorites of mine before reformulation - Must de Cartier and Estee Lauder Private Collection. The counterpoint of bitter green notes, white floral, and vanilla or amber is just so divine and velvety when it's done well, and it's certainly done well here.

    I hadn't grown into Boucheron yet when it launched, so can't compare the versions offhand, only know that I feel quite lucky to have it now as I've lost so many of my great ones, even my old vulgar orange blossom/green/vanilla favorite: the original Dior Addict.

    08 July, 2014


    Coeur d'Ete by Miller Harris

    Lyn Harris and Dawn Spencer Hurwitz are two of my favorite perfumers. As with Annick Goutal (herself - not those behind the scents now) I find their work to be so elegant, nuanced, and evocative that even when they're working with whimsical notes, or along a whimsical theme, the end result is just never vulgar.

    Coeur d'Ete is an example of Lyn Harris's refined-yet-unfussy style. The list of notes sounds outright bizarre, yet on my skin, it reads like a grownup purple floral chypre - very classical! The effect, not necessarily the notes, reminds me very much of the middle-to-drydown of Guerlain's Chant d'Aromes, which is more noticeably aldehydic and "perfumy" smelling, yet I suspect Coeur d'Ete has some subtle aldehyde action going on, too.

    It's kind of fascinating - I know it gives many the impression of being a soft and gentle lilac-forward scent, though in my experience, it's a scent like a ballerina - only a lot of work behind the scenes and a backbone of steel will yield such a statement of simple, persistent grace.

    06 June, 2014


    Fresh by Zents

    I had a really primal emotional/nostalgic reaction to this one, and I think it must smell like something I wore as a teen, probably Love's Rain Scent or a China Rain oil from a hippie shop. It's better than that, yet kind of a throwback to that time - a few decades ago you could get scents that were "fresh" in this manner, and that weren't tart, plant stemmy, or grapefruity.

    So we're not talking about a serious perfume here, yet...when I'm feeling fragile or want a cooling spritz of something before or after a dance class, this is often it. I do love the floral accord - I get linden mixed with heliotrope for something akin to sniffing lilac in the breeze. I love natural lilacs, yet used as a very literal and concentrated perfume accord (I think all lilac accords are synthetic), "lilac" in perfumes usually smells like Glade air freshener to me.

    So the gentleness and indistinctness of this scent could be called weak, yet I think it's just right. It works because of the concentration - any stronger and it would lose any evocative quality and be a Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day baby detergent smell.

    In a way, that's what it is I suppose!

    Though if you've got a weak spot for China Rain-type scents, I'd check it out!

    26 May, 2014


    Jour d'Hermès by Hermès

    I tested the EDP. I was captivated by the initial spring-y lemony floral impression, though shortly thereafter the white musk kicked in, and it became the stuff of petrochemical nightmares, not only on my skin, but on a blotter I sprayed three weeks ago that still smells strongly of white musk.

    Some of the Goutals and Ellena scents have provided me with an object lesson in what happens when you try to give a lot of sillage and longevity to something inherently ethereal. I loved Eau D'Hadrien EDT so much that I thought the absolu would be even better - just more of a good thing, right? So not! When concentrated and fixed, the scent's volatile citrus oils lost their airiness and became caustic-smelling to me. Apparently part of the tantalizing effect of the Hadrien EDT was created precisely by its lower concentration.

    Jour D'Hermes reminds me of my Hadrien experiment; I'd love to experience it as a fleeting EDT without this Hermes base (which also gave me trouble in Jardin sur le Toit).

    24 May, 2014


    Infusion d'Iris by Prada

    This scent certainly bucked the trend when it came out, yet my skin says it's very 1993. I have chemistry that amps certain musks, "fresh" accords, melon accords, aquatics...and I first noticed with Bulgari's The Vert that some apparently subtle, quietly green scents could absolutely go nuclear on me, and last, unevolved and shrieking, into the next day. I've had this problem even with the EDT of Infusion d'Iris. It's a shame, because it's just my sort of powdery, introspective thing on a blotter. For that reason I give it a positive review, though WOW I sure cannot wear it...

    13 May, 2014


    L'Heure Bleue by Guerlain

    L'Heure Bleue is one permanent side of my own perfume Venn Diagram, and most any scent I end up falling for will share something significant with it - perhaps a resolved-yet-odd juxtaposition of notes; austerity; powdery softness; the absence of all tartness; candied violets; a cool/warm duality.

    It wasn't always like this. Though long a Guerlain fan, I will admit that I prefer the reformulated EDP! I understand that this may be a travesty, yet the older version was just slightly too ugly-beauty for me to fully embrace often. I find the newer version still smells entirely like L'Heure Bleue, yet there's more air in the room. I don't mean that it's weaker, or its longevity bad, just that its presence is gentler and more welcoming, more Japanese meditation incense than curious medicine now.

    I think others have remarked that it's Guerlain's most Eastern scent, despite not having been marketed like that, and I agree. I have a Japanese iron teapot that I use every day, have done for the past 20 years. L'Heure Bleue has the same kind of enduring, quiet, soulful beauty as that teapot, very wabi-sabi.

    11th May, 2014


    Shalimar Ode à la Vanille : Sur la Route du Mexique by Guerlain

    I love the smell of real vanilla extract/absolute and of the other dreamy components that complement it and can extend it into amber - benzoin, tonka bean, labdanum...So Shalimar has been a funny thing for me, because it's arguably THE definitive complex vanilla scent, yet what some have referred to as its skank becomes the overwhelming smell of a wet dog on my skin. I'm not averse to smelling weird, but I guess I'm not up for that particular weird! Coming to trust and enjoy Thierry Wasser's work for Guerlain, I bought this one blind hoping that I just needed a little different take on the fragrance for it to become a favorite. Indeed! I've just ordered bottle number two since it's a limited edition...

    The lime in the opening is beautiful, and I'm reminded that an old favorite - La Maison de la Vanille's Vanille Du Mexique - also opens with lime. That fragrance is a lot simpler and less nuanced than this Guerlain, yet at the right moment, from a distance, there's a passing similarity. The signature wet dog accord does indeed show up to let me know it's Shalimar, yet it gets rapidly overtaken by a vanilla that's a little more in the dulce de leche direction than the vanilla in the original. I really loved the burnt caramel-y drydown of the original Dior Addict, and the way it radiated off of warm skin; the vanilla in this Ode isn't nearly as burnt as that, yet it's sure magic with body heat. I was brave/foolish/impatient and initially tried it on - one quick spray - outside in 95 degree weather. Modestly applied, it's just glorious in the heat, a case of reveling in it instead of countering it.

    03 May, 2014


    Amor Amor by Cacharel

    People often speak of wearing different styles of fragrances in different seasons, yet my chemistry isn't that flexible - if it works on me it's probably powdery, dense, and sweet with an old-fashioned feeling and a lot of action in the base notes. So Amor Amor fits a special niche in my perfume wardrobe in being the closest thing I have to a young, modern fruity scent. My least favorite aspect is actually the grapefruit-y opening - too sharp and tart for me - yet all of that burns off quickly, and I'm left with a warm, gourmand-y sandalwood veil that's at once mainstream familiar, and better than that.

    I can't stand Angel or Viva La Juicy, because the counterpoint between the persistent tart fruit and the thick, caramel-y notes feels tense and unresolved to me, more clash than counterpoint. Maybe this is the precise thing others like - it's sure been imitated enough! Amor Amor has a similar tart/sweet counterpoint, yet it's a scent that lets in some air, more an Impressionistic rendering of a popular genre than the thing itself.

    24 April, 2014


    Bijan by Bijan

    When I first sniffed Bijan I got a big wave of nostalgia - I remember when everybody smelled of more multi-textured scents like this one.

    I experience it as a counterpoint between orange blossom and cumin over an amber-y base, the end result being an orange blossom honey-ish smell.

    It can be pretty extraordinary if it happens to work with your chemistry.

    I first got hooked on Bijan wearing the (very inexpensive) modern EDT, and became curious about the vintage EDP. Now in possession of both versions, I do see why many people prefer the vintage - by comparison, the EDT is thin, and its finish is orange blossom soapy, though I wouldn't have thought to say either of those things about it until smelling the vintage.

    Opening the vintage bottle, I could smell first and foremost a big blast of cumin, which doesn't strike me as body odor, just as...cumin, because I cook a lot of Moroccan and Indian dishes! This opening's not "pretty", yet it really does convey spice markets and heat, which I find appealing. As it develops, it's a round and lush floriental that smells of its time, yet I think it translates perfectly well for a woman or a man today.

    I've kept my EDT, and now sometimes use it to spray in the house since it's about the only thing I have that complements the lingering smells of fenugreek, cumin, and turmeric from the previous night's dinner!

    22 March, 2014 (Last Edited: 18 September, 2014)


    Youth Dew by Estée Lauder

    At one point I was searching for a spicy rose scent by notes - cinnamon, rose, cloves, and amber were my search terms, I think. I was surprised that Youth Dew came up as one of the only things in that search result. And then it came up again when I searched for some combination of resin-y notes. I had long written off Youth Dew for a lurking bitterness, which I now think must be the civet, and I hadn't tried it again since probably the 80s. So I tested it on paper first, and the next day I couldn't believe how rich, warm, sweet, and smooth the drydown on paper was, just my sort of thing. I then tried it on my skin, and while to this day I don't really pick out rose, I get a wonderful floral accord that reminds me of jonquil more than the listed ylang - very similar to the floral accord in Tabu, my drugstore favorite. That accord and the patchouli combined do create a certain similarity between the two frags, though Tabu is less spicy and a little daytime cologne by comparison! I think Youth Dew must be in the top three or five most potent scents ever. I actually bought the bath oil because I was concerned about over application with the spray, and whether or not the oil is a new formulation - I don't know - it really radiates warmth like few things I've encountered.

    13 March, 2014


    Truth or Dare by Madonna

    I caught the perfume bug very young, and White Shoulders and Fracas were two of my early favorites. Given all of that formative white floral precedent, Truth or Dare feels like an old friend to me, and I grabbed a big bottle when it first launched. I've grabbed yet more of them now that it can be found so inexpensively! I like its funny combination of excess and restraint - the florals are SO heady and opaque, and then the base is rather sheer, and stops short of being as thick and sweet and gooey as I'd thought it would get. Most people feel that Fracas is a better fragrance, though at this point, I don't. Maybe it's my memory, maybe it's the reformulation, but Fracas smells thin to me now. I prefer the happy, sweet voluptuousness of Truth or Dare.

    28 February, 2014


    Exotic Essence by David Yurman

    I got this one as a blind buy, and was really pleasantly surprised. I don't get any floral notes at all, and find it to be a straightforward patchouli and peach scent rounded out by amber as it warms up - the patchouli is really dry and almost masculine as it opens. The thing is, the components seem to be high quality, so it does read more luxury than celebutante; if you're a fan of the patchouli/peach combo, there's really nothing to dislike! Ironically, because I didn't exactly know what I was getting, it garners more compliments than just about anything else I've worn. The concentration makes it flexible - you can keep it daytime with a light spray, and bombshell with a few. Probably layers well with rose...

    25 February, 2014


    Diva by Ungaro

    I have liked Diva since its introduction, though I feel I've only now grown into it 31 years later! Interestingly, I find that its gorgeous warm, spicy, honeyed rose drydown smells precisely like my memory of vintage Coco, more than the current Coco does. They share Jacques Polge as their perfumer, and they share a lot of the same components, I'd venture. I don't particularly care for Diva's opening, the relative harshness of which must be why it's been compared to Paloma. Though just a few minutes in it warms up and becomes more...comfortable. I know it could be quite scary if over applied, yet with a light hand, I think it's fine for daytime, if not for the gym. Really a beauty, and when you can consider how reasonably it can be had, it must be one of the best perfume values going.

    05 February, 2014


    Si Lolita by Lolita Lempicka

    My initial impression was, DONNA KARAN CHAOS! And if you're familiar with that one, you know this type of spicy-but-not-exactly-oriental is kind of a rare thing. When I wear it, it actually smells a lot like Hermes Elixir de Merveilles, too, for they share a singular peppery/woody accord produced by some component that my skin amps beyond belief, and in the end, it's the most prominent facet. So that's a bonus for me - Si Lolita costs a whole lot less than the Hermes. It doesn't smell like Fendi's Theorema, but I'd use the same words to describe them both - spicy, creamy and warm drydown, non-prominent florals, woody, tension between dry and sweet. I was reminded of Theorema, because I know that one gets called masculine, too, and I just consider them not of the current feminine convention, though not particularly masculine.

    05 November, 2013


    Prodigieux Le Parfum by Nuxe

    A similar but more buxom and overtly floral version of the Nuxe oil scent

    This wasn't available anywhere near me, but loving the oil as much as I do, I took a chance and bought some on Ebay. Oh WOW! It's lovely just on its own terms, and perhaps also if you love the oil, but in making the composition an EDP, the florals really pop more than they do in the oil, which could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your preferences...I wouldn't call it a skin scent until about 4 hours in, and until then, it's a creamy sweet floral that reminds me quite a bit of Guerlain's L'Instant - it seems to have the same "magnolia" accord mixed with vanilla. For me, this is a holy grail thing, for I have always loved the divine heart and drydown of L'Instant, but there is some raspy, peppery thing in the opening (maybe it IS pepper!) that irritates my nose and throat. Prodigieux has excellent lasting power on my skin yet a much softer sillage than your usual tropical white floral, and in that sense, it truly is like the oil - an intimate aura. I really recommend it if you've been looking for a soft, sweet, laid back tropical white floral.

    Pros: Beautiful, gentle tropical floral scent that has some common ground with L'Instant
    Cons: None, but do try first if you don't like white florals"

    14 October, 2013


    1889 Moulin Rouge by Histoires de Parfums

    I've tried and worn loads of different perfumes across genres and price ranges, though I recently came to understand that L'Heure Bleue haunts me as a fixed point of reference - my true loves always have a lot in common with some aspect of it. And that's certainly true of 1889 Moulin Rouge. It's not that these two fragrances smell "alike", yet I experience their personalities as being quite similar - contemplative, odd, cool; unsettling and comforting in equal measure. I rarely find a modern perfume like that, and I fell hard for Moulin Rouge.To see the notes listed, I would not have guessed it could possibly work, let alone that it could be so austere, even serene. I do smell the absinthe accord, though mostly it lives on my skin as the scent of pink Capezio leather ballet slippers and ripe plums or pears in a dusty theatre - definitely a theatre smell. It's a very a tenacious fragrance, though the sillage is intimate. I love that about it, actually - I can wear it in close quarters where a vintage oriental would be problematic, yet it's in no way a sparkly, generic, "daytime" scent. In my imagination, it's an olfactory portrait of the Moulin Rouge from the backstage viewpoint of a young dancer. She's classically trained, and she's a little melancholy getting ready to go home alone to her austere flat, because this isn't the artistic life she set out to have.

    20th August, 2013 (Last Edited: 18 April, 2014)


    L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque

    A bracing green scent with loads of blackcurrant

    I was too young and provincial to know about this scent when it came out, and it makes me wonder where it fit in at the time. I mean, it's sooo green and edgy that it's rather 70s in style, though it came out around the same time as the early Goutals, and, like those scents, also describes a particular place/moment in nature. Goutal's Eau de Camille was a game changer for me in the 80s with its prominent ivy and privet notes - I found that I was attracted to those notes more than to most florals - and L'Ombre Dans L'Eau has that same kind of naturalistic greenness in spades! The solid is actually great - very concentrated and the composition doesn't get thin and flabby in the drydown, which all Diptyques tend to do on me. That is a big "duh" - a solid is going to be less volatile than a liquid - but it's an interesting and positive thing to experience, nonetheless. I also like being able to control the application, because my concern with this one has always been how screechy it can be if over-sprayed, when it's so lovely and impressionistic if you're just catching it fleetingly.

    Pros: Singular and evocative
    Cons: Can be too sharp and a little shrill"

    02 August, 2013


    Rose Musc by Sonoma Scent Studio

    Beautiful warm, sweet rose

    Rose notes have such a massive span - fruity, green, dried, powdery, candied...I had been looking for a rose that smells like opened blooms in the warm sun, and Rose Musc is that for me. I get rose from beginning to end, and the labdanum and musk underpinnings mingle with one's chemistry to give it a rosy skin scent drydown. I like this house's style very much, and find Rose Musc to have the subtlety and nuance of an all-natural fragrance with more tenacity and sillage from some carefully done synthetic enhancement. Layers gorgeously, too!

    Pros: High concentration of natural essences
    Cons: Must like rose!"

    27 July, 2013


    Volutes by Diptyque

    Made me want a bottle of Habanita

    This review is for the EDT - I look forward to smelling the EDP as I think I'd like the fragrance more with additional sweetness and depth. The EDT reminds me very much of Fleur Oriental by Miller Harris. Both do a post-modern trick of reducing the impression of a vintage oriental down to basically a single note. I mean, they do develop a little, but compared to vintage scents they're very linear. I like vintage oriental scents so much that I enjoy having this option. Yet I must admit that smelling Volutes just inspired me to go and buy a bottle of my old fave Molinard's Habanita, which is so inexpensive, and has so much more complexity. I'd say that it, and not Shalimar, was the reference oriental for Volutes if there actually was one.

    Pros: Way more interesting than most releases
    Cons: A little simplistic"

    19 July, 2013


    Vanille & Narcisse by L'Occitane

    Old school French in the best way. I fell in love with the vintage Je Reviens by Worth as a little girl, and I know now that I was responding mostly to the narcissus in the blend. Holy cow! This L'Occitane does narcissus right, and perfectly balances it with a mellow, languorous, smoky vanilla. I love this scent all the way through, though there's a phase where you can smell a realistic narcissus and a complex, realistic vanilla in equal measure, and the effect is more than the sum of its parts - divine! Comes as an EDT, and I find that it wears almost like an EDP, so the longer I own a bottle and have most of it left, the less I'm feeling like it was relatively expensive.

    I had been peeved at L'Occitane because they kept introducing sharp, fruity, watery new scents after abruptly discontinuing my favorite - Notre Flore Neroli, a wonderful headshop-y Oriental. With the release of Vanille & Narcisse, I can find love with them again.

    03 July, 2013 (Last Edited: 18 April, 2014)


    Black Opium by Auric Blends

    More like my memory of the original Opium than the current YSL version

    Picked up a bottle at Whole Foods, and I'd say it's a great cheap thrill if you're a fan of spicy orientals. Opium in its current formulation doesn't smell as "thick" and sweet as I recall it being, and side by side, I actually preferred this Auric Blends version. The concentrated oil form works well for the scent as top notes are really not the point here!

    Pros: Smells much more expensive than it is; highly concentrated
    Cons: Even an Opium dupe is instantly recognizable

    03 July, 2013


    LouLou by Cacharel

    Peculiar and kind of great - a precursor to Guerlain's Insolence

    I took a risk and first tried the EDP on a hot day, and fortunately I was not harmed. In the heat, it went through the opening and middle pretty quickly, and I was left with a drydown that smelled just like old school Secret deodorant, which wasn't at all the powdery note I expected! Trying it again in the cooler evening, I got much more of the sweet fruitiness, and as those notes started to merge with the candied florals and the powderiness, it reminded me so much of Guerlain's Insolence! I wouldn't confuse one for the other, yet they share a singular fake berry/hairspray/powdery French personality, and that's a pretty small club. That description sounds so awful, and some days I'm sure it would hit me that way, yet Insolence used to be my signature, so...I guess it's much more attraction than repulsion for me!

    Pros: Distinctive, long-lasting, ultra femme
    Cons: Odd and probably polarizing

    03 July, 2013

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