Reviews by babsbendix

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    Showing 1 to 28 of 28.

    Bijan by Bijan

    When I first sniffed Bijan recently I got a big wave of nostalgia - I remember when everybody smelled of more multi-textured scents like this one. It's got some spicy white floral similarity to Gianfranco Ferre, one from the same era, though the Ferre is softer, more elegant and composed, and doesn't have an awkward moment even though there's a lot of animal stuff going on in the background. Bijan is more outgoing, offering maybe a little too much too soon in making your acquaintance. Once you get over the shock, though, Bijan can be pretty extraordinary if it happens to work with your chemistry. I haven't heard this mentioned much, but I find it has an almost rude animalic aspect that mixes with the intense orange blossom and honey accords to become a naughty, naughty deep orange blossom honey scent. Not the powdery amber many seem to get, but orange blossom honey plus something a little bitter and almost civet-y - a dash of cumin maybe? Pretty super! I'm reviewing the modern EDT, and I'm thinking the EDP could either be lethal or awesome...

    22 March, 2014 (Last Edited: 25 March, 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


    No. 93 Engine by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

    I'm a big fan of the beeswax note in BPAL's scents, which is what led me to this one. On skin this is a gorgeous and deep resinous scent that has the warmth and vibe of an amber yet isn't as sweet - there's benzoin, though no vanilla. It's interesting enough to wear alone, and can also be stunning under florals that lack depth or are too "lady" or too recognizable. I particularly like it under the original Carolina Herrera from the 80s, a classic jasmine beauty, though sometimes that's just the problem, you know?

    25 March, 2013


    Métal by Paco Rabanne

    Chanel's Cristalle was the first fragrance I had a long relationship with, back in the late 70s and early 80s. This was years before we could visit online forums to learn about perfumes, so when a sales associate dismissively told me that Metal was just a copy of Cristalle, I took that as truth. I think I even smelled it at the time and liked it, but could see how similar it was given what she'd said. Recently I was really missing the old Cristalle, and I remembered Metal. I was so encouraged by the reviews I read online that I got a bottle from a discounter, and I simply adore it! I do think it has at least as much in common with No. 19 as it does with Cristalle, though it's not at all powdery, and any florals are kind of stemmy. That said, I don't experience it as cold or sour, either, just as very green, mineral-y, and dry. I adore sophisticated classics like Hadrien and Eau Sauvage, but straight ahead citrus doesn't love my chemistry; Metal is what I reach for instead now.

    13 June, 2012


    Omen by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

    Omen really does smell like its name - it's deep and quiet and kind of lurks. As a blend of basenotes, it goes to drydown quickly, and works well as a layering scent to add depth and a little mystery. While women could certainly wear this scent - and I have - I do think it skews masculine a bit. I ended up swapping it for No. 93 Engine from the Steamworks line, which also has an aromatic resin-y character, but finishes on a sweeter beeswax note that I adore.

    10th April, 2012


    London by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

    London gives me the impression of a vase of tea roses in a big, airy room with a waxed wooden floor. This room is still apart from a ticking clock, but somewhere in the house, someone is quietly going insane. I don't know that it's what I would call a "dark" fragrance aesthetically - it's actually more on the clean and green side - though somehow it captures in scent the chilly tension between a pristine, respectable appearance and a secret neurosis.

    16 March, 2012


    So Hooked on Carmella by Benefit

    Whoa! As Hester suggested, this IS a big girl! I experience it as both off-putting and fantastic at the same time, and I have to give it credit just for that. With my chemistry it's a longevity monster - just TRY to get it to go away - and depending on how much time has elapsed when I sniff it, I get a resemblance to the florals of Gucci Rush, the vanilla/mega black pepper effect of Diptyque's Eau Duelle, and/or the awesome caramel drydown note of Dior Addict. I think if I over-applied it I would die.

    06 February, 2012


    Songes by Annick Goutal

    I've worn Goutal's Gardenia Passion and Passion (original version) since they came out, and I immediately fell in love with Songes. The florals smelled familiar, and I'd pick it out blind as a Goutal, yet as a whole it struck me as a stronger and much sweeter composition than my old favorites. I didn't wear Songes for a few months, then when I returned to it, I was so sad to find that it actually made me ill! I perceived the bitter burned rubber note that others have mentioned, and as I wore it, this note wrestled with the sweetness of the flowers and vanilla and it was disgusting. Unfortunately this happens to me often - my nose (or my chemistry!) seizes upon an animalic, bitter, or funky note, and the total effect of the fragrance is ruined for me. I had the same problem with Joy - once I'd smelled the civet, my nose went right to it every time, and Joy and I were done. Shame. I give Songes a thumbs up, anyway, because my initial experience of it was so overwhelmingly positive. Besides, you'd probably be hard-pressed to find many people outside of this community that would say BURNED RUBBER when faced with a scent so ostensibly pleasant and lovely.

    04 January, 2012


    Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia by Estée Lauder

    The man and I work in the nuts and bolts side of the entertainment industry. Sometimes we get invited to events on the glamorous side. One of the better ones was held on a balmy summer evening at an old Beverly Hills hotel. There was flattering candlelight, and music from a piano player in the bar. And almost to a person, the women were wearing Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia. This fragrance does sum up for me the glamorous side of Hollywood - its beauty is hyper-real and not natural at close inspection, though still kind of bewitching even when you see the work. When Mandy Aftel released Cepes and Tuberose, she explained that natural tuberose extract has an odd fungal-smelling facet, and that's why she paired it with the cepes (mushroom) note. Somebody seems to have noticed this about tuberose at Lauder, too, for Tuberose Gardenia has a funky (to me, moldy cheese) current running through it that gives it a more rounded impressionistic effect. I'm sure this note is supposed to stay subliminal, though sometimes, up close, the funkiness is all I can smell of this fragrance and it freaks me out! Even so, I do think it's a really well-done scent, the longevity and sillage are stellar, and I have to like it because it now reminds me of the town I inhabit but kind of don't, too.

    03 January, 2012


    Theorema by Fendi

    There's just nothing quite like Theorema. For me it offers all the guilty pleasure of a gourmand gingerbread scent, yet it's kept elegant and a bit dry by its woody Italian style. I know there are floral notes in the composition, yet it's one fragrance that is so not about flowers! Given that it's discontinued now I ration the bottle I have left, and if you find yourself in the same situation, I've found a funny and unlikely substitute for a ginger/wood/incense mood - Tibetan Mountain Temple by Pacifica.

    25 November, 2011


    Krazy Krizia by Krizia

    I experience Krazy as an Oriental relative of Obsession and Dior Addict in that it's got a lot of heft and vanilla in its base juxtaposed with some green notes. That said, I actually think it's more interesting and complex than either of those, and certainly more obscure. I was really happy to have it recommended to me, because I have too many associations with Obsession to actually wear it, though I wanted something in the same ballpark.

    25 November, 2011


    Ravenous by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab

    I've got an orange tree in my backyard. The different synthetic "orange blossom" chemicals used in modern perfumery really don't capture all of the different facets (green, bitter, sweet, indolic) of the actual orange blossom smell as I experience it, though I do like them just as something nice to wear. Ravenous is explosive orange blossom, similar to the orange blossom in Dior Addict, but it's a simpler, sunnier fragrance that isn't "department store". It's funny, but I have a feeling that the drydown of the original Juicy Couture and the very opening of Ravenous are about the same, and if I timed it just right they'd be in synch for a moment....Note to self: try layering them and see what happens.

    05 December, 2010


    Dior Addict by Christian Dior

    A few years ago I went into a dressing room at Bloomingdale's just as a beautiful, elegant Persian woman was walking out. The almost burned, sweet resin-y smell she left in her wake stunned me, and I wondered what the heck her perfume was, or if she'd been smoking something illicit. I described it to a friend who loves this sort of scent, and she told me it sounded like Addict. Checked it out at Sephora, and yep, it was. When I wear it I get in the opening the same green something or other that I liked about Dune, and the drydown is RIDICULOUS and dirty in the best way. I understand that it may be vulgar, and whatevs.

    06 July, 2010


    Mitsouko by Guerlain

    For years, this fragrance was my all-time favorite, and I endlessly compared formulations and concentrations, and fretted about not being able to find vintage stock anymore. And you know? Recently I've found it to be a bit odd, austere, and melancholy, as if I'm smelling a dark undercurrent and some nuances that I couldn't perceive before. Or that didn't bother me before. I'd never question Mitsouko's greatness and singular beauty, I only find that I've reached an age where I don't want as much drama and history in my scent. When I was young, all I wanted was drama and history, yet life has offered me enough of all that on its own now, and I find that I'm drawn to the more straightforward, joyful sweetness of L'Instant! Call it a de-evolution, and a travesty to prefer a newer Guerlain, yet there it is - I choose sweetness and light.

    12 May, 2010 (Last Edited: 01st January, 2012)


    Eau de Lavande by Annick Goutal

    I love this one. The lavender is neither astringent nor powdery, and the base gives it some lasting power. To me, the base smells just like Goutal's Sables, warm and spicy.

    12 May, 2010


    Rochas Femme (original) by Rochas

    When I first experienced Annick Goutal's fragrances at I. Magnin (RIP) in the late 80s, one of my favorites was her Parfum de Femme (also RIP, I believe). Osmanthus is the star of that fragrance, and perhaps Goutal was paying tribute to the original Femme, which doesn't have osmanthus as an actual note, though smells like it, nonetheless. I was fortunate to find a vintage bottle of Femme, and it's mellow and warm and boozy, just drop dead gorgeous. While I wouldn't confuse it with vintage Mitsouko overall, on me, the dry down is very similar. True love.

    12 May, 2010

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