Reviews by babsbendix

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    Baiser Volé by Cartier

    This one is quiet enough that I missed out on it for a long time - turns out the only way I could appreciate it when testing was to spritz in a department store then immediately go outside! For it's a skin scent on me. The lily and carnation accord is certainly there, yet what strikes me most is a wonderful vintage face powder and milk chocolate drydown that lingers softly for hours and hours. It's an impressionistic and restrained milk chocolate, which is why I think it works. Chocolate notes usually smell cheap, though in coming at it kind of sideways, the illusion holds.

    I appreciate the way it gives a nod to 1920s-30s powdery glamour, yet is a rather minimalist modern scent. Besides being a fascinating effect - a scent that alludes to something while being something else - it seems just right that Cartier should acknowledge history and also exist in the present. I want to cheer whenever brands or people age with dignity and integrity yet change with what's good about the present, too.

    22nd December, 2014


    Pure DKNY A Drop Of Rose by Donna Karan

    As much as I love roses, I really don't like most rose perfumes. As with many flowers, when you smell them in nature there's a lot of nuance to their scent, though when replicated synthetically, or even captured in the form of an essential oil or absolute, the concentrated fragrance only gives a snapshot of the living flower from one perspective.

    Pure DKNY A Drop of Rose is the cut flower with all of its stem and leaves sitting in the florist's fridge - it's a green and chilly rose. It's much more tart and green than sweet, yet maybe because of its gentler concentration, it doesn't veer into the head-splitting tartness of L'Occitaine's 4 Reines, or Chloe. It seems to last on my skin longer than it does for some others, though it does wear like an EDT when worn alone.

    I don't wear it alone often - I tend to layer it with other scents when I want to give them a little extra rosy oomph. For that purpose I find that it's especially lovely, and has a kind of transparency and neutrality that enable it to blend really well. It lasts for at least several hours when anchored by a heavier scent.

    I think this one's the best of the Pure DKNY scents so far. The others strike me as kind of pale and formless as opposed to sheer.

    14th December, 2014


    Eau de Givenchy by Givenchy

    I haven't smelled the reissue, and this review is for the vintage version.

    I had come to accept that my chemistry must have changed a lot, because I used to do so well with green chypres and green florals, yet I never find a new release along those lines that works for me. However, wearing Eau de Givenchy for the first time in 25 years makes me realize that our context for what qualifies as a fresh or green or dewy scent has really changed!

    For this scent is objectively just as I remember it, with the minty burst up front, the un-sweet florals, and the mineral-y, grassy drydown, yet it's not a happy-go-lucky scent by today's standards; it is so shockingly somber and formally structured compared to, say, what's going on at Hermes. As much as Jour d'Hermes should be something I'd love - and it did smell magical to me in the air - as worn, it became a flat and monotonous lemony musk. Whereas Eau de Givenchy doesn't smell that "happy" and springlike in the bottle - it's definitely perfume and not the magical capturing of a spring day - it DOES magically develop into a cool spring day on my skin.

    The drydown actually reminds me a lot of Sisley's Eau de Campagne.

    Certainly could be unisex, yet I hold it up there with vintage Diorissimo as an example of how lily of the valley can be devastatingly beautiful in a feminine.

    03rd December, 2014


    Just Cavalli (new) by Roberto Cavalli

    There aren't many notes listed for Just Cavalli, though like both Oro and the current Cavalli signature scent, I get a lot of pink pepper, and it smells like a Cavalli scent.

    I recently read a Luca Turin review where he talked about the risk a perfumer takes in deciding to make a perfume settle into something wonderful, because the opening may be challenging and scare people off before they get to experience it. Just Cavalli seems to have been made for women with no patience, then, because it's fully loaded and lush up front, then fades away to a faint (though pleasant) orange blossom with a bit of something raspy, maybe the rosewood and pink pepper combo.

    When I first sprayed it I got concerned, because it was a pretty huge and blooming white floral, and I thought, just how big is this thing going to get if this is the opening? But it was basically gone in less than an hour. Granted, it's an EDT and I've been wearing it in cool weather, so it may not be the whole story...

    It IS a pretty scent. I get the tiare more in the bottle than after it's sprayed, where it becomes a pretty and familiar white floral without skank, rather like the orange blossom of a Juicy Couture scent (and the other Cavallis I've tried). I've seen some compare it to Vivienne Westwood Boudoir, one I wear pretty often, and I can sort of see that - it's a very sweet white floral with dry and raspy - even sneeze-inducing - texture. But Boudoir has a lot more heft, and while I love it, it's off-putting even to me if I'm not in the mood for it!

    Just Cavalli is pretty while it lasts, and I look forward to seeing if it behaves better in warm weather. If I haven't auctioned it off with other blind buys by then...

    24th November, 2014


    Me by Lanvin

    I'll preface my review by saying that I don't hate fruity or fruity floral fragrances in theory, though this is one of only two I own right now, the other being 1889 Moulin Rouge. I'm not sure that one even gets classified as fruity, though I find it really wears that way.

    I was prepared for Me to be far weirder, and maybe even a trainwreck, because blueberry, licorice, and tuberose in the same scent just sounds like a bad idea! But the blueberry is in the same space as the blackberry in Mure et Musc, or the cherry in La Petite Robe Noir - tart and very pronounced, yet, number one, a seemingly better chemical component than the froot in American celebrity scents, and two, part of a more elegant composition.

    I actually got a tad of licorice in the opening rather than in the middle, and it gave the scent a little darkness and mystery before it settled into a clean stewed blueberry note, where it stayed for an hour or so. This is cooked fruit rather than fresh, though it's not a sugary or jammy note. When I checked back with it a couple of hours in, I got a little flowery sweetness from a soft tuberose note combined with a now-softened blueberry, and it gave me a pang of fond recognition for an old favorite I sometimes wish I still had in my collection - Vocalises by Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier. Me is not nearly as sweet and heady as Vocalises, and I'm actually glad - it means I wear it more easily and more often.

    Me is a gamine scent, really - it's more playful than femme fetale. Gamine is a style rather than an age, and I consider that to be true for the personality of Me, too.

    17th November, 2014


    Shalimar Parfum Initial L'Eau by Guerlain

    I love this one, and it's also been a funny surprise. I blind bought it in the Si Sensuelle presentation, seduced by the pink feather tassel. However, it's become the most femme bottle and least femme juice in my current collection, easily unisex.

    The hesperidic aspect of L'Eau felt happily familiar to me, having gone through buckets of Goutal's Hadrien in previous decades. I also noticed a particular green/rose/iris accord from Bulgari's The Vert. The rose and grapefruit smell modern together, a nod towards current trends that I might not usually like, yet I do here, because nothing shrieks.

    Maybe I'm so close to Shalimar that I can no longer "smell" it, though any resemblance between L'Eau and classic Shalimar seems, to me, to be more in terms of craft than actual resemblance. I can tell the singular Guerlain craft is at work here - contrasts are reconciled, and the end result is tender and elegant and French.

    07th November, 2014 (Last Edited: 09th November, 2014)


    Balkis by Al Rehab

    Good grief!

    This is my first experience with Al Rehab oils, and potent doesn't even begin to describe the concentration and sillage of this thing - it's kind of punishing. I literally opened the bottle, touched my finger to the rollerball, and the whole house smelled of Balkis. I thought some Black Phoenix and Tom Ford scents were strong, but this? Yikes!

    I do like the scent, though. I used to wear Todd Oldham in the 90s, and Balkis smells EXACTLY how I remember that one - a combination of cedar-y pencil smell, benzoin, spices, a yellow floral something like ylang, and some seriously sweet lactonic peach, and maybe pineapple. It's more of a dried fruit or stewed fruit than fresh.

    My favorite phase of Balkis is the far drydown, where the spices come more to the fore, and the fruit and flowers have receded some. At this point it's more headshop incense-like, and less like an 80s/90s power floral or floriental. Actually, if I didn't have my experience with the more obscure Told Oldham scent, my closest reference for the first few hours of Balkis would be Amarige. It's not that the notes are the same, but there's a particular way the big fruit and big floral and big spice combine that's really similar in style.

    It's all kind of shocking to me - the enormous sillage, and how a scent I'd smell on someone else and would think was department store, if not niche, can cost less than $5 for (what to me is) a lifetime's supply. I'm now really curious to try a few of the others from Al Rehab!

    31st October, 2014


    Vol de Nuit by Guerlain

    The version of Vol de Nuit I originally came to love was the parfum available the 90s. My reference now is the modern EDT. I haven't smelled the reformulated extrait as it's kind of a lose/lose proposition for me - if it's drastically different and diminished, that will make me sad; if it's not drastically different and diminished, I'll want to buy it!

    Others have captured this one-of-a-kind scent beautifully in their reviews, and I'd only add that even the modern EDT manages to be interestingly "fat" while objectively light. Like long-simmered stocks, duck confit, heavily reduced sauces, truffle oil, Vol de Nuit is a perfume equivalent of French cuisine in its depth of "flavors", contrasts, and earthy funk.

    29th October, 2014


    Toujours Moi by Dana

    Relatively speaking, she's a wisp of a girl these days, with a concentration so gentle that you can wear her in the light of day.

    Such an inexpensive treasure! I usually have a bottle in my bag, because it helps me to burn through my discontinued/old batch Guerlain stockpile more slowly without feeling deprived of all old school French vanilla/tonka/balsam goodness. In the bottle it actually smells quite a bit like Shalimar, though on skin, I find it to have a lot of lavender, especially early on. I detect lavender all the way into the drydown (probably because it doesn't take more than a few minutes!) but it's definitely a powdery, incense-y oriental and not a fresh-smelling aromatic scent.

    I should think it's easily unisex, for there's nothing pink and froot loopy about it!

    06th October, 2014


    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?

    18th September, 2014 (Last Edited: 19th 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.

    Edit: I've noticed that my impressions of this one can vary, and sometimes it hits me as an uneasy mix of very soapy and thin orange blossom with headier, richer tuberose, and the magic is not there.

    04th September, 2014 (Last Edited: 07th November, 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.

    09th 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.

    04th August, 2014


    Velvet Orchid by Tom Ford

    I initially was so positive about this one, because I am in love with the rum and honey notes, and was hell bent to overlook the horror that is the mandarin note.

    As gimmegreen so astutely described it, the "olfactory organ rejection scenario" with this sour note wrecks the whole scent for me.

    If natural mandarin essence with all of its nuance and volatility is analog, this popular synthetic mandarin is Autotuned digital sound with all the actual life kicked out of it.

    A shame, because there's some beautiful stuff going on with the florals and the deep, sweet, intoxicating base, but as a whole composition, it's a committee meeting where people didn't agree and the issues at hand didn't get resolved.

    03rd August, 2014 (Last Edited: 13th November, 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.

    23rd 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.

    17th July, 2014 (Last Edited: 24th 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.

    13th 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.

    08th 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.

    06th 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!

    26th 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).

    24th 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...

    13th 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 since ordered four more bottles since it's a limited edition and now the closest thing I have to a signature scent.

    The citrus in the opening is beautiful - I understand that it's bergamot, yet my nose sometimes reads it as a little lime-y, too; maybe I just associate limes with Mexico. The signature wet dog accord does indeed show up, yet in this formula I realize that it's actually rose in combination with something animalic - roses can have a sulfurous aspect. All gets overtaken by a vanilla that's 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.

    03rd May, 2014 (Last Edited: 06th October, 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.

    24th 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!

    22nd March, 2014 (Last Edited: 18th 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.

    13th 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.

    28th 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...

    25th 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.

    05th February, 2014

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