Reviews by Tovah

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    Tovah
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    Musc Botanique by Strange Invisible Perfumes

    I love Musc Botanique. It's one of those rare fragrances that makes me feel like I'm radiating a magical glow. It goes beyond wearing a nice scent, to causing a chemical reaction that elevates my imagination; maybe it stimulates dopamine... It simply smells beautiful. I love, love musk, but I'm picky about my musks, and this is one of my favorites. Maybe even my favorite. Fresh, yet warm, sexy, not sweaty, gentle, and unisex; and best of all it's got je ne sais quoi that all SIP fragrances possess. The SIP "Guerlainade", I suppose, and I've come to adore it. Strange Invisible Perfumes continue to intrique me, because they always wind up being "more" than I could ever expect. Upon application of several of these concoctions, initially I've thought, "Who would WEAR this?"; only to find myself mesmerized within minutes. Strange Invisible Perfumes are esoteric, which, for me, makes them special. They demand that you analyze them, experience them, and feel them. You cannot apply them as an afterthought as you're running out the door...If you try, within a couple of minutes, you'll find yourself stunned into motionlessness, while you're transported into an olfactory vortex. Next thing you know, you'll be writing a rambling, somewhat incoherent review on Basenotes, because you want everyone who cares to know how incredible you smell. How deeply you're affected. So, again, I really love Musc Botanique. Try it, if you like vortexes. But don't say I didn't warn you. (And, if you're really, really brave, do try Magazine Street and Narcotic. You'll never be the same.) There are still many fragrance lovers who haven't experienced the amazing perfumes being created by natural perfumers. If you're one of us life-as-olfactory-experience people, order samples from Ayala Moriel and Strange Invisible Perfumes right now. Now. (I'm not affiliated with either company, but, for purely personal reasons, I hope to smell more of both lines, everywhere.) I don't remember where I was supposed to be running off to today, but I have a feeling I'll wind up in Venice, at Strange Invisible Perfumes!

    06 August, 2009

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    Egyptian Goddess by Auric Blends

    The perfect Egyptian musk for summer-time wear. It's light, yet sensual; reminiscent of Narciso Rodriguez edp on my skin. I love it. When I wear it I can't stop sniffing myself. Works well for both day and evening wear.

    04 June, 2009

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    Kohdo Wood Collection: Lotus Blossom & Water Lily by Jo Malone

    Pure, beautiful, clear floral. Utterly perfect for summertime. Fantastic layered with Dark Amber & Ginger Lily, but so very lovely on its own. Something about the mood of this one reminds me a bit of Chanel Gardenia...only I prefer Lotus Blossom & Water Lily! This is feminine, with a hint of mystery; the striking florals are almost juicy they're so rich. I've got a small bottle, and a large bottle...and I may hoard more because this is a limited edition...Hopefully this will be an annual springtime release.

    04 June, 2009

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    Kohdo Wood Collection: Dark Amber & Ginger Lily by Jo Malone

    I adore this. It's sensual, deep, woody, earthy...yet light... It's gentle for an incense-wood fragrance, with a clear, very dry, ambery base, Beautiful spices make this fragrance intruiging, because they are, somehow, both bitter and sweet. I do love to layer this with Lotus Blossom & Water Lily, but Dark Amber & Ginger Lily is absolutely gorgeous on its own. This fragrance was just what I needed to reignite my scent curiousity, which had dulled due to burn-out from my disappointment with countless new releases. WHY is this a limited edition? Now I have to hoard.

    04 June, 2009

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    Wild Fig and Cassis by Jo Malone

    For years I've loved Premier Figuier, but, Wild Fig and Cassis has replaced it as my favorite fig. Wild Fig and Cassis smells like the experience of eating pure, fresh juicy figs, while sitting on a freshly mowed lawn, with the sun directly overhead. It's soothing, warm, and the lasting power is fantastic.

    04 June, 2009

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    Un Jour Se Lève by Yves Rocher

    Un Jour Se Lève is beautiful, alluring, and bright, but, in addition, this smells like sunshine and joy. It's hard to describe the specifics notes of sunshine and joy...but whatever they are, when I wear this I feel feel energized, warm, and happy! It's delightful.

    26 March, 2009

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    Velvet Tuberose by Bath and Body Works

    Amarige + Skin Musk = Velvet Tuberose. It's pretty, but there are so many superior tuberose perfumes, I'd never need to wear this. I suppose I'd consider the bath & body products, but only during one of the annual sales.

    04 February, 2009

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    Sensual Amber by Bath and Body Works

    A nice, sweet amber fragrance. To me, it's a watered-down version of Sage Machado Amber. As with almost all B&BW products, I'd enjoy this as a shower gel or lotion, but it's generally too plain for my "perfume" taste. Ambra del Nepal ruined me for all other ambers when it comes to perfume, but the Sensual Amber products make for nice, cheap layering.

    04 February, 2009

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    Warm Vanilla Sugar by Bath and Body Works

    My 10 year old son loves when I wear this stuff. He says, "It makes me smile. I don't know why." Yes, this is a "common" sweet vanilla, but, really, it smells so GOOD. I've happily used this fragrance in body wash for years, but I'd never considered wearing it as a perfume until the recent launch of the edt version. On me, the edt isn't as sweet as the bath products, and it develops a distinct, warm sandalwood note that I just adore. The edt smells like Samsara drenched in Cream Soda. (Sounds disgusting...yet it works!) I like to wear this at bedtime, and to use it for spritzing on bed linens and lingerie. It's a happy, pretty fragrance that's fun to wear.

    04 February, 2009

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    Sweet Almond / Amande Sucre by Ava Luxe

    This is, obviously, a sweet almond scent; like almond extract for marzipan, plus sugar cubes. I've been utterly craving Sinfonia di Note Amande Sucree for a couple of months, but, at this time, I cannot rationalize spending $150.00 on one bottle of fragrance. I had hoped Ava Luxe Amande Sucre would quiet my craving a bit. However, on my skin it develops a rancid note in the dry-down (apricot?), which ruins the whole concoction. I gave my bottle to a friend, on whom this same Amande Sucre smells completely delightful, and makes the $26.00 fragrance smell better than the $150.00 fragrance! I'm jealous.

    04 February, 2009

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    Black Amethyst by Bath and Body Works

    According to Osmoz.com, "John Gamba, Master Perfumer at Givaudan, created Black Amethyst with autumn’s deep, rich mysterious hues in mind." It's an autumn dream of me in a Beaux Arts mansion, sitting on a purple velvet window cushion, surrounded by a misty breeze wafting through white lace curtains, anxiously aware of approaching heavy footsteps...(think Brontë sisters or Daphne Du Maurier.) I adore Black Amethyst. Believe it or not, it's the first Bath and Body Works fragrance I've ever purchased! I have the brand new edt in the classy square bottle with a tall, frosted, stately cap. The top notes are somewhat sweet, consisting of predominantly dry, dusky vanilla, with slight hints of berry. What made me fall in a big way for this scent, is the base notes. On me the patchouli is light and honeyed, and the vetiver is deep and green. This fragrance contains my favorite base note blend: Patchouli, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Vanilla, and Musk, and they're radiant with my chemistry. On me, this is one heck of a complex fragrance. It initially reminds me of Deep Red, and then I think of Ralph Lauren Notorious, and then Narciso Rodriquez edp. I've seen many comparisons between Black Amethyst and Black Orchid, which I'm sure delight the perfumer, who must have used Black Orchid for "inspiration". When the Black Amethyst is sprayed in the air, or on a scent strip, I definitely get the comparison. However, on my skin, when it reaches full development, Black Amethyst is reminiscent of Allure Sensuelle. It's alluring, and sensual. (Definitely not one of the dreaded "fruity body spray" scents that permeate junior high classrooms.) Plus, the price can't be beat. I hit a sale today, which allowed me to buy two fragrances and get one for free. A 2.5 oz bottle sells for $26.50, which is a major bargain even without the freebie! The lasting power of Black Amethyst is okay. Typical of, maybe even a little better than most edts, but, for the price and the size of the bottle, I can spray and spray and re-spray without guilt. Overall, an extremely positive purchase.

    03 February, 2009

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    Pure White Linen Light Breeze by Estée Lauder

    A light, lemony, sugarless green tea fragrance that's refreshing to wear in hot weather.

    09 December, 2008

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    Madagascar Orchid by Lisa Hoffman

    Lisa Hoffman's Variations Collections consist of four roll-on perfumes housed in buttery-soft, portable leather pouches. Each bottle is a variation of a scent theme, with individual scents designed to be applied (or layered) throughout the day: 1 ~ Morning 2 ~ Daytime 3 ~ Evening 4 ~ Bedtime. Madagascar Orchid's notes are Jasmine, Orange, Bergamot, Neroli, Pink Peony, Amber and Soft Musk. It's a lovely, elegant skin-scent that takes me to a private olfactory sanctuary. My favorite variation is "Morning" because of it's energizing citrus topnotes, and my second favorite is "Evening" which is sultry, ambery, and golden. All four formulations are beautiful, alone and/or layered, because they smell lush and alive. These scents stay very close to the skin, but their lasting power is excellent. They are completely appropriate for workplaces, nightlife places, and even cramped elevators.

    24 November, 2008

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    Nani by Saffron James Parfums

    I was at Apothia the day the lovely Katherine Growney launched Nani. After one sniff I was in love, and I purchased a bottle on the spot. I've always been entranced by the fragrance of jasmine, so I grow several varieties in my garden. My favorite scent of warm summer evenings is that of "jasminum sambac", which is called "Arabian Jasmine" here in California, and "Pikake" in Hawaii. Before my introduction to Nani, I hadn't found a jasmine fragrance that truly captured the intoxicating beauty of the flower's aroma, and smelled good on me. Nani has several layers of moods, and extremely good lasting power. It begins as a fresh, sunny, sweet jasmine, evoking a fresh new lei on a warm morning. As the fragrance develops, it gets headier, and muskier. Eventually Nani becomes the scent of the lei that you've worn throughout the day. As the moon illuminates the white flowers, you place the lei on your nightstand so it will transport tropical sensuality into your dreams. And your dreams are beautiful. Nani is exquisite, and it's become one of my "top five" all-time favorites!

    24 November, 2008

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    Aphrodisiac by Lumar of Beverly Hills

    Feminine, romantic, and alluring, I love this seductive white floral. I was drawn to Aphrodisiac in Apothia, initially because of the heady, mysterious tuberose note I smelled in the air. I followed my nose to a counter, where it seemed like everyone in the boutique had been spraying Aphrodisiac onto scent strips. After one sniff on a strip, other fragrances seemed to fade to black. This is mesmerizing: tropical, heady, feminine, and intense. Aphrodisiac is a gorgeous pink-colored fragrance that's as sensual as an island garden in full bloom. It begins as a bright, sparkling rosy floral, but it develops into a temptress, with tuberose, and amber. Top notes:neroli, mimosa, orange blossom, white rose; Middle notes: lily of the valley, tonka, tuberose; Base notes: coffee flower, hibiscus seeds, patchouli, amber. Aphrodisiac is an "easy" scent for me, it's stimulating, and just incredibly pretty - perfect for anytime. If I can't decide which fragrance to wear, I'll reach for Aphrodisiac, confident that it will smell lovely and radiant all day long. This is one of my husband's favorites of all my fragrances; for once, we agree!

    24 November, 2008

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    Sugarwitch by Carnival Wax - Agatha Blois

    Irresistible! This is a fun, easy-to-wear perfume oil that comes in a cool little leather case. The Carnival Wax fragrance line is designed by ubercool Agatha Blois, who creates custom leather clothing for iconic rock stars. Sugarwitch begins with a note of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, and warms into the smell of sugar cookies baking in an oven. It develops into a tobacco-woody fragrance, but it never looses the vanilla-cake sweetness. If you don't like very sweet fragrances, don't even bother to try this. But if you do, you won't be able to resist it! Lasting power is excellent, and even though the price seems high, there's a lot of product in the bottle, and a little goes a long way. The leather case is weirdly elegant, and perfect for bottle collectors (like me).

    24 November, 2008

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    Lyric Rain by Strange Invisible Perfumes

    Ingenius. Inspired by and named for Dorothy's Parker's morbidly exquisite poem, Lyric Rain is an olfactory deconstruction of the reality of death, and the implications of decomposition. "Oh, let it be a night of lyric rain/And singing breezes when my bell is tolled." Like Parker, this perfume cannot resist wit; and it knows better than to take itself too seriously. True to form for the exceptional Strange Invisible Perfumes, at the beginning of wear, I am damn near compelled to dress in black and roam a moonlit cemetery. Jasmine, patchouli, and lavender create a night spell; I can almost hear echoing footsteps and wisps of Chopin Nocturnes played by raindrops. "I have so loved the rain that I would hold/Last in my ears its friendly, dim refrain." In synch with the poem, Lyric Rain becomes wry, yet bitter, with notes of lotus and pink pepper; "Kinder the busy worms than ever love." Overall, the fragrance creates irony: the scent of old damp leaves, cold night air, moss-covered earth, and yet, somehow, prettiness emerges, like an afterthought; hindsight. "My bed made secret by the leveling showers,/My breast replenishing the weeds above./And you will say of me, "Then has she died?/Perhaps I should have sent a spray of flowers."

    24 November, 2008

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    Nanadebary Classic Pink by Nanadebary

    Nanadebary Classic Pink + my chemistry = one helluva sexy fragrance. Many years ago, CCB Paris had a wonderful fragrance called Love, Etc. Nanadebary Pink reminds me of this, but Pink is much more elegant. I've tried thousands of perfumes, and owned hundreds more, yet Nanadebary Pink remains outstanding, and rare. According to Nanadebary.com, Pink's notes are Bergamot, Ginger, Jasmine, Iris, Sandalwood, Vanilla, and Musk. The notes themselves aren't unique...but whatever magic the perfumer used in this blend makes it a multi-level olfactory experience. In the beginning of wear, Pink is almost innocent; a pure, clear, soft pink with a hint of sugar. As it develops, it becomes strikingly spicy, and an earthier, adventurous pink steals the show. It makes me crave a huge piece of sourcream frosted carrot cake. This is the part of the fragrance that dominates, and lasts the longest. The drydown is extremely unusual for such a spicy fragrance, because it's slightly astringent, and almost soapy; a glass of pink lemonade after the cake. Sandalwood and jasmine emerge as a soft, graceful woodiness, but the ginger note lingers in the back of my throat, like a memory. According to my fragrance friends, my skin makes fragrances smell "spicy", so the cinnamon-like, nutmeg-like "gingeriness" of Pink winds up being the most outstanding component for me. Nanadebary's recent reformulation of Pink, Classic Pink, is still dedicated to the goddess in every woman, but this tenacious edp format was inspired by the strength of the people who helped to save Nana de Bary's life during a devastating tsunami in Thailand in 2004. Nana de Bary's courage and inspiring tale of survival adds depth and enjoyment to my deep appreciation of this all-natural fragrance.

    24 November, 2008

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    If by Apothia

    If is the epitome of "pretty". It's a very, very light, feminine, gardenia-laden soft floral. I may be slightly anosmic to the musk in this one...because this fragrance almost seem too light on my skin. But it's charming, and superb on hot summer days. To my nose, this is the scent of sweet, gardenia and jasmine petals, enhanced by yuzu rind and green leaves, floating on powdery, oceanic musk. If you are a fan of Mazzolari Marina, Sarah Horowitz Peace Comes From Within, Il Profumo Musc Bleu, or Serge Lutens Clair de Musc, I'll bet you'll like If!

    24 November, 2008

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    Sogni del Mare by Antonia's Flowers

    This is very fresh, and cool, with mood-lifting ozone notes. It's almost perfect, but a sticky watermelon-like note (rhubarb?) spoils it a bit for me. This note seems strong on hot days, so I think this is going to be a cool weather fragrance for me. It really is transporting, and very Atlantic (as opposed to Pacific). Antonia's Flowers lists the notes as bergamot, cassis buds, rhubarb, orange, and lotus. This is very nice, and I will continue to enjoy it, but it doesn't come close to being as special as the unusual, hauntingly-beautiful Tiempe Passate.

    25 October, 2008

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    Sel de Vetiver by Different Company

    This fragrance is fascinating. On me, it smells like the Atlantic; cool, slightly gray, peppery, earthy, and smoky. On my husband it smells like the Pacific; warm, salty, green, and brisk with hints of citrus. I much prefer it on my husband, (I love it on him). The cardamom in this fragrance is especially complimentary to the grapefruit, patchouli, geranium, iris, ylang ylang, and vetiver notes. Sel de Vetiver calls to mind L'Artisan Navegar, although I don't think they share many notes. They do share a warm-skin freshness that's somehow sultry, yet light. Sel de Vetiver has become one of my favorite vetivers - and I adore vetiver.

    25 October, 2008

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    'Ume by Saffron James Parfums

    For years I've been searching for a white ginger fragrance that really captures the fragrance of Hawaiian white ginger. Some fragrances had hints of its sweet and sultry scent, but 'Ume IS that scent. 'Ume is a subtle, mysterious floral with airy qualities in the topnotes, and an earthy, sensual oak moss base. Lasting power is very good, and it seems to rejuvenate itself on my skin over the course of the day. It's hard to keep my nose away from my wrists, because 'Ume makes me giddy. Those who love the indescribable beauty of the fragrances of Hawaii must try Saffron James, and 'Ume is a white ginger dream-come-true. Notes are ginger absolute, water lily, gardenia, yuzu, and mousse de chêne.

    24 October, 2008

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    Shiloh by Hors Là Monde

    Only Michel Roudnitska could have created such a sensual, evocative fragrance and make it wear like a skin scent! Shiloh is warm and multifaceted like Amoureuse (by Roudnitska), woodsy like the dreamy Bois de Paradis (also by Roudnitska), with a lovely spiciness like the vivid Noir Epices (Roudnitska). It's a refined and gentle fragrance, that smells like dusk in autumn. Shiloh isn't dramatic or bold, and I think it may be one of those scents that simply has to "work with one's chemistry", but it does work with mine, and I love it.

    14 October, 2008

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    Lady Vengeance by Juliette Has a Gun

    I despise the name of this house, and the name of this fragrance. How can a tag-line like "Hostilities in progress" seem like a good marketing idea? We've all wanted to rewrite Shakespeare. And turning Juliet into a Tarantino La Femme Nikita is humorous, but this perfume is not. It's got the chutzpah of Cabaret, and the mesmerizing mystique of Voleur de Roses. From the viewpoint of a fragrance lover aiming to share excellent perfumes with other fragrance lovers, I endorse this because it's so gorgeous! One sniff, and WOW! Add the "wow" to multifaceted development and originality...and...hooked. I feel like I've found the rose scent I'd concoct myself if I had the talent and the skill.

    14 October, 2008

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    Amoureuse by Delrae

    moureuse is incredible. It is radiant upon application, and it's sultry, and extremely sensual as it develops. If you are a fan of Annick Goutal Heure Exquise or Vivienne Westwood Boudoir, you must try Amoureuse, which I think is a sort-of "sister scent" to these two. Amoureuse is a powerful, slightly sweet, very, very sexy fragrance, but it smells "expensive", elegant, and sublime. Lasting power is fabulous. I have a feeling this is going to be one of my all-time favorite fragrances!

    12 September, 2008

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    Jasmin Noir by Bulgari

    How I've missed trying new elegant, unique fragrances that were created to be fashionable accessories; to enhance beauty, and set a mood. So many new fragrances have smelled like air freshener, antiperspirant, and/or soap, for so long, that I'd feared the launch of my concept of "elegant perfume" was something of fond memory. I read about Jasmin Noir on blogs, and all the notes sounded intriguing, except licorice. I hate licorice enough that its scent can completely ruin a perfectly nice fragrance for me. I can't smell any straightforward licorice in Jasmin Noir, so I'm relieved. When I first sprayed Jasmin Noir, I was skeptical. It smelled SO good, but I knew I had to give it just a little time to disappoint me. I assumed it would become linear, or chemical-like, or headache inducing, or plasticy, or hairspray-ish, or fruity, or just plain boring. My surprise, many hours later, was filled with happiness. Jasmin Noir is not only gorgeous, it's brilliantly multi-faceted, moody, striking, enchanting, and long-lasting. Rather than blasting individual notes, Jasmin Noir creates a spicy, woody atmosphere of its own. It smells luxurious, and blatantly sensual. It openly and confidently whispers Seduction: the kind involving Veuve Clicquot, Bulgari jewelry, and La Perla Black Label. When I read reviews, I like to see what other fragrances either smell like, or bring to mind, the fragrance being reviewed. Jasmin Noir is quite distinctive on me, but I'd categorize it as having a mood (not scent) similar to Allure, Boucheron, Samsara, Amouage Gold, Nuits de NoHo...perfumes created for glamor and intrigue.

    05 September, 2008

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    White Jasmine & Mint by Jo Malone

    Fresh, delicate, and very pretty. On me this is quite minty at first, and it remains minty for awhile. Luckily for me, this is not a chewing-gum, sweet mint. It's herbal and earthy. When the jasmine appears, it is striking; slightly rosy and very clear. The jasmine/rose notes are nothing like those in the old-fashioned type fragrances Honeysuckle & Jasmine and Red Roses. It's a clear jasmine, almost dry, without sweetness. The scent base reminds me of chamomile tea. Overall this fragrance is relaxing, laid-back, soft. One of the finest for hot weather.

    05 September, 2008

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    Blue Agava and Cacao by Jo Malone

    I LOVE Blue Agava and Cacao. I like it best on its own, and it is nice for layering. Blue Agava and Cacao is a vibrant, energetic green fragrance that is sophisticated and sultry. The topnotes are citrus-floral and sweet. The sweetness calls to mind the Blue Agave Nectar I've tried in Baja California. Blue Agave (aka Tequila Agave) is a succulent (not a cactus) that's related to lily. Its "nectar" is extremely sweet, and tastes something like honey. My range of tequila expertise begins and ends with Jose Cuervo, which, to me, tastes like oily asphalt, so I can't personally say I get a tequila note in Blue Agava and Cacao. However, I can say I sense Blue Agave Nectar. If the incredibly beautiful, delicate cacao flower could have a scent, Blue Agava and Cacao would suit it perfectly. Blue Agava and Cacao is slightly sweet, with the acerbic, coffee-like note of cacao seeds. It's spicy, too, like Aztec cacao (sweetened with Blue Agave Nectar.) Its base is of green woods and musk, enhanced with cinnamon and dry vanilla. I've never smelled anything that comes close to this scent; it is unique and bewitching. Lasting power is excellent.

    05 September, 2008

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    Armani Code for Women by Giorgio Armani

    Armani Code is a sweet, slightly gingery, slightly powdery, orange blossom fragrance. The topnotes are honeyed orange blossom and seringa, which I like a lot, but after about an hour this smells strikingly like Kiss My Face Pear Soap. I don't particularly like to wear pear fragrances, so this won't be something I must have (even though it's orange blossom). I'd love this if my chemistry would let it work. I'll have to try it again in a different season.

    05 September, 2008

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    Néonatura - Cocoon by Yves Rocher

    Cocoon is a comfort fragrance for me, but it's assertive, too. It smells very woody, earthy, and natural, and the dry vanilla is tempting, but not sugary. Vanilla-patchouli blends generally work beautifully with my chemistry, so Cocoon, with it's touch of cocoa, is a definite winner. It's not complex: just cocoa, vanilla, and patchouli, but it has depth, and a gorgeous dryness that makes it unique in the gourmand category. It is similar to Serge Lutens Borneo 1834, but it also reminds me of Coco Mademoiselle edt. The base of Coco Mademoiselle, smells somewhat similar in the drydown. Cocoon seems to be marketed as a women's fragrance, but it's perfect for men as well. The lasting power is incredible, but don't overspray this: the sillage rivals legends.

    25 August, 2008

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