Archive for April, 2010

Looks like I posted my “choices for spring” list too soon (4/5/10).  Here’s a link in case you missed it the first time:

Spring Picks, 2010

I’ve been enjoying making the blog rounds and seeing what’s on everyone else’s lists.  Feel free to share what you’ve been wearing this spring, if you like!

Image is Spring Colors (If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant) from ~XANE~[AWAY] at flickr.com.

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Composed by Bernard Ellena and released in 1998, Haute Couture is a follow-up to the eponymous Hanae Mori fragrance – the one that smells like berries and marshmallowy vanilla. I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: I like Hanae Mori, the “Butterfly” scent that smells like every modern perfume cliché – berry-fruity, sweet, vanilla-y, gourmand. I don’t care that it’s cliché, I think it’s genius. (Although I admit that I don’t wear it often, and certainly not out of the house, as it’s really meant for people a lot younger than I am.  Wearing it is just a little like carrying a paper cone’s worth of cotton candy around the fair all afternoon.)

Haute Couture, however, isn’t vanilla at all. Fragrantica.com classifies it as a green floral. Brian’s review at I Smell Therefore I Am calls it a “fizzy green jasmine,” and the P:TG review likens it to a terrific, sparkly white wine.  All of these descriptions made me want to test it, even though I can hardly find another blog review of it anywhere and samples are practically nonexistent. In fact, I think at this point it may even be discontinued, because it is going begging at the online discounters. I can’t get on to the Hanae Mori website to confirm that. I bought a 50ml bottle of edt, unsniffed, for something like $13. Whatta bargain, whatta bargain for me. (Dang, another one of those Discontinued Saints! I have to quit doing that.)

My bottle arrived very quickly, and I wrested it out of the box and sprayed it on immediately, without checking the official notes. What I said to myself was this: Are there aldehydes in this? Light, fizzy ones? I’d swear there are. And that’s definitely bergamot. Something fruity… orange? Peach?  And maybe… is that green apple?  Definitely some jasmine, but something else floral too. Freesia?  Hmm. And down in the bottom there, it reminds me of the base of No. 5 Eau Premiere, that citrusy musk that smells clean and cheerful without making you think of laundry, and that lasts a long time. Maybe some woods, definitely a small amount of amber.  Okay, I say: aldehydes, bergamot, peach, orange, maybe apple, green jasmine, maybe freesia, possibly some light woodsy notes, amber, and musk.”

I checked the notes at Fragrantica, and I didn’t do too badly, guessing. They say: bergamot, coriander, jasmine, floral notes, and fruity notes. That’s it. Those are all of the official notes.  I am fairly certain that there are indeed some light aldehydes in the mix, since it’s so sparkly.  When I went back to check Perfumes: The Guide, I found Tania Sanchez’ take on it to be, “A bright, citrusy, aldehydic, sweet jasmine floral.”  (Fear not, aldehydophobics – these are not the soap and candle wax aldehydes of No. 5, they’re nice little Don Ho Tiny Bubbles aldehydes that fizz up and evanesce.)

What Haute Couture reminds me most of is the first Ines de la Fressange, the Calice Becker-composed fruity floral that is exactly the way fruity florals should be done — light-hearted, insouciant, a jolly good time. Neither the fruit nor the florals smack you upside the head, they just float around, sprinkling you with happy sparkles.  Haute Couture is a fruity floral too, not the green floral that Fragrantica calls it. It’s surprisingly nice for such an inexpensive choice, and seems to call for warm weather and sundresses. It would be perfect for a picnic, a baseball game, or a garden party. Sunshine and blooms and lemonade go wonderfully with fruity florals, especially when they don’t come garnished with sugary syrup.

I know, I know, perfumistas are all sick of modern fruity florals, with their vague artificially-sweetened fruit-flavors and their vague nondescript floral mishmashes. The genre is much maligned, and I don’t disagree: there’s a vast sea of Cheap and Ditzy fruity florals available, and most of them are just plain awful. But Haute Couture is natural-smelling, tangy, and cheerful, which is just what a fruity floral ought to be. I recommend it.

Other reviews: Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am.  P:TG says, in part: “… reminds me in feeling of those terrific, fun, fruity, un-oaked New World sauvignon blancs – clear, acid, vivacious, good company.”

Top image is Haute Couture edt by Hanae Mori, from parfum1.  Middle image is Centerpiece from ex.libris at flickr.  Lower image is Fruit Cocktail from fensterbme at flickr.

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I’m hoping that this will be the first of many reviews of vintage fragrances, since I’ve collected so many miniature vintage scents (no, you really don’t want to  know how many!), and they’re so different from everything else currently available, even niche fragrances.  Look for a post soon on “falling down the vintage rabbit hole.”

Jolie Madame, composed by the acclaimed Germaine Cellier, she of Vent Vert and Bandit and Fracas, was released by the couture house of Pierre Balmain in 1953.  It is a classic, and thus squarely in my testing sights.  I’d read numerous reviews on Basenotes and Fragrantica and perfume blogs, and Tania Sanchez’ review in Perfumes: The Guide had further piqued my interest.  A sample sat on my Perfumed Court wishlist for several months, while I debated with myself.  I’d already tested Chanel Cuir de Russie and found it just too hideous for words, but then my darling  Seven-League Boots vintage No. 19 had discernible leather in its base, and I loved that… should I test Jolie Madame, or not bother?  I considered.  I waffled.  I temporized.

I considered the notes again, and waffled once more.  I couldn’t make sense of them.  Artemisia? Castoreum?  With gardenia?  Weird.  Freaky.  And everybody said, It’s got violets.  They’re not listed in the official notes, but they’re there.  Well… violets, you say?  And leather?  I don’t knooow, I said, doubtfully.

Notes for Jolie Madame, from Fragrantica:  Top notes are artemisia, coriander, gardenia, neroli and bergamot; middle notes are tuberose, narcissus, orris root, jasmine and rose; base notes are leather, patchouli, musk, coconut, civet, oakmoss and vetiver. 

But after reading Angela’s lovely review of Jolie Madame on Now Smell This, I rushed right over to eBay to troll for a small bottle.  The only one I could find was  a micromini bottle, clearly old and only half-full.  It was the same price as a sample of vintage extrait at TPC, so I bought it.  When it arrived, the bottle was about an inch tall, and the juice inside was a dark yellow-amber, the color of good iced tea – maybe a milliliter and a half in there, I surmised.  It looked oily.  I unscrewed the metal cap and carefully eased off the plastic stopper inside, oh so sloooowly… dang!  One drop fell from the stopper onto my good white shirt.  Hope it doesn’t stain! I thought.  And then I took a good sniff.

Oh, my.

My mouth fell open, and I kept breathing it in.  Oh.  Oh, my.  I’d never smelled anything like this before: a bitter, crushed-stems herbal green, and sweet fresh flowers, and somewhere in the background the intoxicating smell of my first leather briefcase.  Oh, my.  It smelled like mossy green and bright brown and orchid purple, startling and lovely, both eerie and entirely natural.  It was like the face in that Jolie Madame ad: all angular bones, soft lips, and haunting deep eyes.  That one drop carried me six hours on a cloud of wonder.  It was stunning.  I only had a tiny, tiny bit.  I wanted more

So I went immediately back to ebay and set up one of those automatic searches for “vintage jolie madame,” and monitored it vigilantly for six months, eventually scoring two more partially-used, quarter-ounce bottles of extrait, a full eighth-ounce bottle in a set of ten different classic scents in parfum, and a larger bottle of (possibly) 1990’s-era EdT.    My extrait bottles look like the ones in the picture above: plain rectangular glass with an incised B on the round brown cap, with the label rakishly set on the corner.  The packaging is a clever twist on a simple structure – even though the bottles are plain and the labels just white lettering on brown paper, the diagonal application is like a proper hat set at a flirty angle.  It bats its eyelashes and says, “I am stylish.  I am tway, tway Fwansh. You know you want me.”   Well… yes.  Yes, I do. 

Each one of the bottles of extrait smells different.  The tiny one smells the most heavenly to me, because its florals are so fresh and green next to the leather that, as Angela puts it, it’s as if you broke into a florist’s shop and shoved all the blooms you could grab into your nice leather handbag.  Yes, that’s it exactlyflowers and stems and the softly pungent smell of good suede.  One bottle smells mostly of leather and sharp herbal greens, with an overlay of jasmine.  Another bottle smells of gardenia, violets, and leather briefcase, with a bit of citrus (bergamot?)  in the top which is not apparent in my other bottles.  The small bottle from the collection is lovely but a little bit schizophrenic, with lots of green herbs followed by violets, and then an astringent, vetiverlike leather.  You get Bitter, then Sweeeet, then Bitter again.  It’s utterly fascinating, a sandwich cookie of Freakishly exaggerated and Pretty in the middle

The various bottles of extrait all last varying lengths of time on skin, from about three hours to six.  I think this variation must be a function of age – that tiny bottle seems the most concentrated, probably due to evaporation.  Sillage is very gentle.

My EdT bottle looks like this.  (Apparently it had belonged to an elderly woman who’d gone into a nursing home, and her niece was selling some of her aunt’s china knickknacks, purses and bottles of perfume, so I don’t actually know how old it is. I just know it’s not the current packaging.)  I admit to tossing the goofy white bow, because it made cap removal and replacement fiddly, and also because it just looks dumb.  This is a hideous bottle, I think – all the charm of the classic Balmain packaging is gone.  Round shoulders, gilded-plastic cap, plain gray paper label; the appearance adds up to Insipid and Boring.  Hmph.  It’s all the more ridiculous because the fragrance inside the EdT bottle is sharply tailored, no-nonsense, Invisible Armor and don’t you forget I’m in charge! in a way that the extrait is not.  Weird the extrait may be, with its stark contrasts between green herbs, gardenia and violet, and leather, but it isn’t as aggressive as the EdT.  I wear the EdT on days when I need extra backbone.  To be honest, I’d contradict the P:TG reviews – Jolie Madame in EdT is the heartless one, not Chanel No. 19.  The EdT lasts about four hours on me (on the long side of my average experience with most EdTs), and throws a little more sillage than the extrait.  In fact, it’s a little more sillage than I usually like, but when I’m wearing the EdT, I don’t feel like being nicey-nice and polite, so that’s all to the good.

(I stay away from The CEO on those days, too – he really dislikes the EdT of Jolie Madame.  He doesn’t care much for the extrait, either, but it is softer and wears closer to the skin.  Sometimes I’ll layer a dab of some sweet violet thing like Soivohle Violets & Rainwater or Goutal La Violetta next to the extrait,  just to tone down the bitterness, and he doesn’t seem to mind that combination.)

I’d never have guessed how much I would love the old Jolie Madame (“pretty lady” in French, which seems a bit inadequate to describe how it really smells).  Love leather? Me?  But I do.  I treasure my little bottles of extrait, only wearing it when I can devote some time to enjoying the experience.  It is really beautiful. 

I have not smelled the modern version, which I understand is somewhat thinner and brighter but not entirely ruined by reformulation.  If you’ve smelled what they’re currently putting out in that very-elegant rectangular bottle as well as the vintage, please share.  (Oh, and if you’re concerned about my favorite white shirt – it survived.  The stain came out, but the shirt carried a faint whiff of Jolie Madame for weeks.)

Besides the Now Smell This review mentioned above, here are some other reviews of Jolie Madame:  Bois de JasminMarch at Perfume Posse,  Grain de Musc (brief mention), Olfactarama (brief mention), Sweet DivaPerfume Shrine, Yesterday’s Perfume.

Top Image: Jolie Madame from Parfum de Pub, via NST.  Second Image: Colors Perfumes and Tastes of the Wood by Giancarlo Mella at flickr.com.  Third Image: Jolie Madame from salenetone at ebay.

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Busy busy busy…

It’s been hectic around here, what with the well getting pulled up for repair, and Bookworm’s track practice, and both boys’ baseball practices (it would be so much more convenient if they could be on the same team).

But please check back later today for a review of vintage Jolie Madame!

Image is time flies from serhio at flickr.com.

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Slightly new plan for the Scent Diary: I’ll be posting the weekly Scent Diary on Monday morning.  This week’s is a little shorter than usual, and then next Monday’s post will be back to normal. 

Wednesday, Apr. 21: In the 60’s.  SOTMorning: MH Fleur de Matin. I always forget about this thing (I have a decant), and then if I happen across it and put it on, I always like it. I’m a little embarrassed that I’m not much of a cologne fan, but this might serve as a cologne-like scent, along with Le Prince Jardinier Labyrinthe Libertin. Weather’s pretty chilly – sunny, but nippy with the wind. I’m not enjoying sitting on aluminum bleachers at the local park, watching my boys’ baseball practice. Particularly because I’m testing Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie and not enjoying it, either. (Funny, I could have sworn that I ordered Fleur de The’ Rose Bulgare from TPC instead, but it could have been my mistake. Also, it’s quite possible that this was a swap extra, and I didn’t order it at all. I checked on it, and no, it’s not a swap sample, and yes, I did order the The’ Rose, not FdBulgarie.  Of the dozens of samples I’ve ordered from TPC, this is the only one they’ve flubbed, which is a pretty good track record.) However, my mom might quite like this – it’s definitely floral soap, as odonata9 suggested in comments on the Soap & Flowers post. Fine fine fine, I’m going to wash this off and put on some Alien. That ought to cover a multitude of sins.

Thursday, Apr. 22: Weather a little chillier than usual for April, in the 60’s again.  SOTD: Frederic Malle En Passant, a sample I’ve been holding with great anticipation for months, while waiting for the weather to be right. It’s absolutely beautiful, and like most beautiful things, fleeting. I probably won’t be buying any, not even a decant – I just can’t get past its ephemeral character. But it’s gorgeous, and nostalgic and wistful and hopeful all at once. SOTE: Crown Bouquet, which is turning into another of those prized “it just makes me happy” fragrances.

Friday, Apr. 23: Warm day in the mid-70’s and sunshine!  Lovely.  SOTMorning: Ineke After My Own Heart. Supposed to be berries, green leaves, lilac, and sandalwood, but what I got was air-freshener lilac and laundry musk. Disappointed! Sigh. SOTE: Silences. Nice to relax into; it’s funny how I thought it was “screechy” the first time I smelled it, and now I find it soft and easygoing.

Andy, the new calf, is still skinny enough that you can see his ribs and hipbones, but he’s eating enthusiastically now.

Saturday, Apr. 24: Very windy today, upper 60’s, scattered clouds.  SOTMorning, or maybe SOTTwenty Minutes I Could Smell It: Lalique Flora Bella, which gets 4 stars in P:TG and a description of “silver, chilled cream, and a far-reaching glow.” Lalique calls it a “sunny floral,” and as far as I can tell, both descriptions are way off base from what I’m getting here. I’d say, Tiny little piece of the bottom of Tocade or Organza Indecence, the powdery vanilla-patchouli bit. That’s all I smell, and only intermittently. I assume there’s something in there that’s blocking most of the scent.

Bookworm’s 4 x 800meter relay team came in second at their meet today, and she came in fourth in the 3200m (2 mile), chipping 32 seconds off her previous time! I’m proud of her.

SOTE: DSH Perfumes Purple Lilac (Essence Oils). I ordered a sample of this and one of White Lilac, expecting to prefer the purple version because it’s supposed to be spicier. The Purple Lilac is indeed very pretty, a sweet lilac soliflore with a tiny hint of spice, and lasts a good six hours. But having sniffed White Lilac from the vial, I’m thinking it will be the winner when I get around to testing all these lilac things.

Fun “Hollywood Nite” dinner honoring volunteers at our church. Bookworm, The CEO, and I all help out with children’s ministries once a month, so we went and ate Chik-Fil-A and salad and cake, and watched some funny home-made spoof videos that featured our pastor and minister of music as a) Spock and Nacho Libre, b) puttering around town on a moped, a la Tom Cruise on his hog in Top Gun, and c) as extras in Braveheart, Pastor Jeff in a Russian fur hat and long black Rasputin beard, and Cody as a Viking. (Yeah, I know, goofy and overacted, but fun! How often do you see your minister wearing Spock ears?)

 Sunday, Apr.25: Rained last night; I’m so glad the rain we were supposed to get this morning came earlier and cleared out the clouds.  SOTMorning: Mariella Burani and jeans for church. We had service outside and seven people were baptized in a big cattle trough. We usually meet in the auditorium of the middle school (the church is five years old and doesn’t have a building yet), but today we were on the bleachers of the football field. I love it when church is fun, which is pretty much all the time since we transferred from The CEO’s home church three years ago. I miss some of the people at our old church, and to be perfectly honest, sometimes I miss the church I grew up in, which I haven’t attended for twenty years – but most of that is nostalgia. I wouldn’t choose to be a member at either place now.

SOTAfternoon: AG Petite Cherie. This works a lot like a cologne for me, in that it’s refreshing, quiet, and happy, and then it just goes gently away. I only get about two, two and a half hours out of PC, but that never bothers me. My little bottle, which I keep in the fridge due to the frequently-reported instability of the pear topnote, was very cheap, so I can afford to spritz frequently.

Image is miniparfums from parfumgott at flickr.com.

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I blame Left Coast Nose for this one.  She mentioned a scent she liked in a comment, and then helpfully pointed out that it’s discontinued.  Which got me to thinking… how much of the stuff I actually own and wear is no longer being produced and sold at retail?  A bunch of it, that’s how much.   Edit:  I should explain, I bought nearly all of the following at online discounters, where most of them are indeed still available at the time of writing.  Exception Shalimar Light, which is getting scarce as alligator feathers.

I had titled this post “Love’s Retail Lost,” and then when I went looking for a photo to accompany it, I found this:

which, although not precisely on topic, was too good not to share.

I checked my Excel file, where I keep notes on what I’ve tested, what I’d like to test, and what I’ve bought, to find out.  To be fair, I excluded my (extensive) collection of vintage miniatures, which I bought primarily because they were vintage/discontinued/hard-to-find.

Mariella Burani edt.  I think Mariella Burani is still making some kind of fragrance, but the eponymous one is no longer produced.  When you find it at the discounters, it’s likely to be very cheap because stocks have been dumped.  This does not reflect its quality.

YSL Paris Pont des Amours Printemps Edition 2008   Again, another LE.  I can’t really complain about limited editions not sticking around, however much I’d like to (I’m still mourning over the L’Artisan Jacinthe de Bois I never got to smell).

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur   I have seen Black Orchid recently in a retail store, but not VdF, and I can’t find an online listing for it at a retail establishment. 

Balenciaga Rumba.  Another “let’s just dump it at cost” scent because it’s been discontinued and there’s tons of old stock sitting around.  It’s a very 80’s style fragrance, big and rich and vampy, and that is quite unfashionable these days.

Donna Karan Gold.  Recently discontinued, along with a slew of other Karans.  I am saddened to report that they are still making the (hideous, IMO) Be Delicious and all its sugary little flankers.

This one’s in question: I can’t find Givenchy Organza Indecence, whether the original or the Les Mythiques version, anywhere.  But March says in her comments to me on this post she was told it’s not discontinued, just really hard to find.  Givenchy should get its act together – this one was a both a big seller and hugely popular among perfumistas.

L’Arte di Gucci.  It doesn’t surprise me that this one’s kaput, to be honest.  It’s too… too big, too lush, too animalic, too shrieking, too everything  for current tastes.  (Except marshmallowy and fruity.  It’s not fruit-flavored-candy enough for current tastes.  And now I’ll stop snarling about the fruity gourmand fad, at least for now.   I admit to liking Hanae Mori.)

Stetson Rich Suede, which was probably an LE to begin with.  Oh, well.

Ines de la Fressange 1999, the Calice Becker fruity floral  – there’s a newer version in a tall bottle with gold leaves, a gourmandish thing by Alberto Morillas, but I think it too has been discontinued.  I know I snark about fruity florals from time to time, but this one is done just right: light-hearted, tangy, a bellini in a bottle.

Okay, okay, fine, I’ll cop to this one: Victoria’s Secret Pink.   This would be the original Pink, not Pink Beach or Pink Angel or Pink Panties or whatever the heck those ever-sluttier Victoria’s Secret execs are coming up with these days, an airy green peony-freesia floral that is still pleasant to me, and which I bought another mini of this past year, to replace the old one that was getting really low.  My excuse? The CEO likes it.

Victoria’s Secret Victoria.   The very first fragrance VS released, waaaay back in the… late 80’s, I think, a beautiful floral chypre that nonetheless has a difficult opening due to age.  I’ve now smelled three different bottles of this, and all three are off in the topnotes – decayed bergamot, or something.  I never owned this when it was new – I couldn’t afford it.  But it’s lovely, when the weird top burns off.  VS used to carry really beautiful, elegant nightwear – I had a gorgeous teal satin spaghetti-strap nightie that I wore for years – heavy satin, with four-inch-deep soft ivory lace.  Victoria smells like that thing felt – elegant, luxurious, pretty.  

Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet.  I hereby curse Clive Christian to live, without diamonds and Lexuses and cash, sleeping in a tent and eating local food, in a miserably poor place for three months.   Perhaps he’d give up this ludicrous “most expensive perfume in the world” nonsense, and all the teddibly posh trappings of his current perfume business, which just annoys the %#** out of me. 

Cuir de Lancome.  A perfume with brains and beauty and a backbone?  Of course it’s discontinued, because no one under the age of 21 bought it.  Look, I’m not being ageist.  I think young women should wear what they like, even if I happen to find the popular fruity-sweet style ditzy and unpleasant.  It just burns my shorts that Lancome should decide not to continue producing a beautiful scent and selling it to “mature women” because they’d rather concentrate their efforts on selling things like Miracle So Magic and Tresor In Love.  Which I doubt very much will sell better than Cuir – they’ll just sell to the right demographic.

Shalimar Light.   News Flash: Eau de Shalimar is not an acceptable substitute.  Whose bright idea was it to bottle the smell of lemon baby wipes?

Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete.  This may have been intended as limited edition as well, but I can’t find anything that says so definitively.  (Note to self: Aha!  This is what Agent Provocateur Strip was reminding me of!  Not an exact match, of course – this is spicier – but similar in the floral-amber category.)

I’m not even including reformulated things like Ralph Lauren Lauren – the reformulation of that one was like taking Sigourney Weaver and turning her into, oh, Blake Lively* – and Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – which has been changed into a different, but still pleasant, scent.  (*Please don’t hate on me for the Blake Lively comment.  Blake’s fine as she is, but in my opinion, Sigourney is Too Much Woman to be turned into someone young, blonde, and… hmm, how to say it?  Naive.  Blake should aspire to be Sigourney, not the other way round.  RL Lauren used to be kind, interesting, beautiful, classic and strong.  Now it’s merely pretty. )

So if I count up the discontinued scents, ignoring the reformulateds and the vintages, that’s, like… (frantic scrambling to get the calculator) a whopping 28.6% of my full bottle wardrobe.  This is a little scary.  You think so?  On the other hand, it might tie in to the fact that I am a Total Sucker for stories of lost love.  This is probably even more scary when you consider that I bought all of these bottles knowing that these fragrances had been discontinued.

Anybody else as crazy as me?

Image is I’d rather be a perfect sinner by theilr at flickr.com.

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Lilac Time

I love lilacs, and they’re blooming like crazy right now.  My neighbor’s lilac bush is heavenly.  And there’s an abandoned house right near the elementary school that has SIX beautiful lilac bushes in white, lavender, mauve, soft purple, periwinkle, and dark purple.  They are stunning, and every day it hurts me that no one lives there and no one takes advantage of the gorgeous blooms.  If there was a place to park my vehicle and go clip some branches, I’d do it, trespassing be darned. 

I haven’t tried all of these lilac-based scents, but the ones I have, I’ve made a few notes on.   I’ll update it as I test some of these.  But really, this post is just an excuse to throw out all the gorgeous pictures of lilacs I can find. 

Oh, and Happy birthday to Ellen!  I’ll have to make that White Lilac Nostalgia cake again when I see you.  (I can’t find a picture of it… not even on Rose Levy Beranbaum’s websiteIt’s in her Cake Bible, which I haven’t used in farrrrr too long.)

Lilacs keep popping up in literature, too: in the poems “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” by Walt Whitman, and “The Barrel-Organ” by Alfred Noyes, and the short story “Lilacs,” by Kate Chopin.  Lilacs form a large part of the plot in Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All, by Allen Gurganus.  Not to mention the famous T.S. Eliot poem that starts out, “April is the cruelest month.”

Jardin de France Eau de Cologne 1920 Lilas  (Lilac, jasmine, rose, musk)  No reviews of this one anywhere.

Demeter Lilac  (Jasmine, white soap, lilac)  Review at 1000 Scents.  

Pacifica French Lilac (Nectarine, magnolia, hyacinth, lilac, heliotrope)  No full-blown reviews of this anywhere, but comments are abundant and generally positive.

Caswell-Massey Lilac  (Lilac).  Simple and inexpensive.

Crazylibulelle and the Poppies Lilas Spiritual  (Lilac leaves, lilac, lily and vanilla)  I think this is one of the Crazysticks solids.

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Angelique Lilas  (Angelica, white lilac, ylang-ylang, cedar, heliotrope)  Reviews at Now Smell This and Blogdorf Goodman.

Highland Lilac (Just lilac).  This one has a lot of fans on Makeup Alley, but a few detractors as well.  Review (brief) at Perfume Shrine.

I Profumo di Firenze Lilla  (Lilac, duh)  Very pleasant, simple lilac.  (Blame Daisy.)  However, this one is no longer on the iPdF website, so I don’t know if it’s still available.  I’ve been generally impressed with the very few iPdF scents I’ve tried – they all smell fresh and natural, and they’ve lasted longer than I expected they would.  Edit: after boasting that I’ve never lost a sample vial – well, I’ve lost this one.  Dang.  I wanted to retest.

Ineke After My Own Heart  (Green notes, bergamot, raspberry, lilac, sandalwood, heliotrope, musk)  Reviews at Feminine Things and Perfume ShrineTested this one today (4/23) and am sadly unimpressed.  What berries? What green notes?  What sandalwood?  All I’m getting here is air-freshener quality lilac and some laundry musks.  Even the heliotrope is not coming through.  I’m sure Ms. Ruhland’s a lovely person, but I haven’t done well with the few of her scents I’ve tested.  (Liked Evenings Edged in Gold the first three times I wore it, but then it developed the dreaded Tang Dust Accord, and I had to give it away.  Field Notes from Paris was a big ol’ hairy mess on my skin… probably at least partly due to the orange blossom.)

DSH Perfumes White Lilac  (“A light and dewy lilac note with a slightly fruity top note nuance”)  I’ve ordered a sample from the DSH Perfumes website, which always reminds me of the candy store in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the 70’s movie with Gene Wilder).  Update: Ohhh.  This is lovely.  It’s still a simple soliflore, but there’s a green freshness to it that I really like. Ordered a small bottle, squee!

DSH Perfumes Purple Lilac (“A heady, honey-sweet lilac note with spicy undertones”)  Ordered a sample of this one too – my prediction is that I’ll like it better than White Lilac because of the “spicy undertones”, but we’ll see.  It’s always a pleasure testing DSH scents.  Update: it’s very pretty, but the description is right about it being heady and sweet.  It’s almost Too Much, even though I only dabbed a bit.  My sample is oil format, so I don’t know if the edp wuld be different.

Yves Rocher Pur Desir de Lilas  (Lilac, almond)  Another simple and inexpensive one.  Some people find the almond note distracting, some don’t.

Parfumerie Generale Ether de Lilas Blanc sur Feuillage Tendre (Leaves, mandarin, lilac, passionflower, orange blossom, bark, iris, musk)   I actually can’t find this anywhere but TPC, as part of a Lilac sampler – they don’t even sell it separately at TPC.   It was a limited edition, apparently, and has been discontinued.  Reviews at Perfume-Smellin’ Things and Perfume Posse.

Rochas Tocadilly  (Cucumber, lilac, coconut, jasmine, hyacinth, sandalwood)  I admit that I broke down and ordered a small bottle of this – on sale, mind you! – from an online discounter last week and am waiting for it to show up.  Edit: I just got an email today that they’ve sold out of it, “So sorry, we don’t got it, we can’t get it, we’ve credited your account and here’s your consolation prize $5 off coupon.”  Now I’ll have to go searching againFrom the reviews I’ve read, this one is either a love-it-or-hate-it scent, so I’m prepared for the worst.  It was inexpensive, or I wouldn’t have gambled.  Review at Perfume Shrine (I’ll disclose to you now that this review of Helg’s encouraged several people to buy the scent, and it turned out badly for some of them – there was a short conversation about it on Perfume Posse, but I can’t find it now.)  Further edit, 5/28: I found it elsewhere for even cheaper.  I enjoy this one – it’s all watercolor florals (lilac, jasmine, hyacinth, & something that Helg says is wisteria) on a background of soft plushy musk.   Reviewed today.

Patou Vacances   (Galbanum, hyacinth, grass, hawthorne, lilac, mimosa, sandalwood, vanilla?,  musk?)   The very essence of spring, the most tender smell ever.  The delicate stems are bruised by even the most glancing of caresses, and one smells their translucent green scent.  Lilacs peep from among the greenery.  I only have a sample, but it is stunning stuff.  Long discontinued, very hard-to-find, and if you do find it, it will be hideously expensive.  I think I found a 6ml mini for sale at an online discounter for $45; they had the big 75ml bottle for $250.  Reviews at Perfume Shrine, Perfume-Smelling Things (Donna), Bois de Jasmin, and Now Smell This (Angela, brief).

Soivohle Lilacs & Heliotrope (new, not released yet, due to be released in mid-2010, released as of today, 4/22, at the Soivohle website!)  The word on this one is that it does approximate the smell of fresh lilacs in a beautiful soft, non-air-freshener way.  From Soivohle:  “A formidable pairing of lush iconic florals, opening with the green tinged freshness of lilacs in full bloom, settling to a rich heart of white and purple lilac, a touch of orchid, and the slightest hint of rose melding into the heliotrope, with a base of mosses, soft musk and benzoin.”  I caved and ordered a sample. Update: it’s lovely.  It’s even more heady and sweet than the DSH Purple Lilac, though, with a relatively weighty base that might be more than I want when I’m wanting fresh lilacs. I’m thinking it will be just right on those gray winter days when I wonder if spring will ever come. 

Soivohle Lilacs & Roses (new, just released 4/22/10 at Soivohle, description from the website)  “A classic blend of floral notes beginning with our Persian Lilac Accord, Roses, Centifolia Absolute, Tuberose and a touch of jasmine, grounded by a sultry oriental base.”  Update: I did not like this one. It was oddly musty and heavy. Further update: Just tested a sample of vintage Coty Paris today, 5/3, and it was everything I expected from L&R: lilacs and roses and jasmine, old-fashioned, faintly spicy, a little powdery.  Paris is very pretty and genteel, and I think it would be a perfect handkerchief scent.

Frederic Malle En Passant   (Lilac, green notes, aquatic notes, cucumber, wheat) I have a sample of this that’s languishing alone in the sample box.  To be honest, I’ve been leery of trying it because I’m afraid I’m going to be disappointed.  But… it’s lilac time, and I’ve been claiming that I was waiting for the right time, so no more excuses.  Will test it this week.  Reviews at Now Smell This, Perfume Posse (Patty), Bois de Jasmin, Scentzilla, and I Smell Therefore I Am (Abigail).  Update: Wore it this morning, and from the cool dewy lilac notes through the fleeting whiff of bread, it’s beautiful.  It’s also gone in about half a heartbeat (okay, okay, I got somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours), despite hefty dabbing on my part.  That is somewhat par for the course for lilac fragrances, but I know that both Lilla and Vacances lasted longer on me.  If I am going to fork out for a pricey F. Malle, I want it to last at least a couple of hours.  I’ve only got enough in my vial for one more sampling, and I’ll give it another shot.  But I’m not holding my breath on the staying power (although I probably could with no damage, it’s that transitory). OTOH, it might last better if sprayed generously.

Edit: I forgot about ElizabethW Lilac, a simple soliflore.  I had a sample of this, tried it, and promptly forgot it.  Which probably tells you all you need to know about it.  It’s maybe half a step up from air-freshener, but not particularly nice.

All photos are from flickr.com.  Top to bottom: Last Lilacs from lynda naranjo; Lilacs from Von Taylor Pop 38; Lilac A Floral Fountain from organicpixel; Lilac, MANY SMALL ONES… from magda.indigo; Lilacs in a Blue Ball Jar from patia; White Lilacs from glittering plastic butterflies; Many Lilacs from p h o t o l i f e; French Lilac from imagemakercan; Lilacs a’bloom from KarenMarleneLawsen; White lilacs from simon -n- kathy; closeup of purple lilac from Mrs. Gemstone; white and purple lilacs from anela. 

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(Oops, this posted a little early.  Oh well.  It’s accurate.)

Wednesday, Apr. 14: Sunny, breezy, warm. SOTMorning: Bel Respiro again, to try to figure it out. Dumped the entire sample vial on myself this time, and the scent did actually last a little bit longer than in the last attempt, but it was basically the same deal: Lovely fresh green attitude for an hour, then a very polite, very quiet floral blah for two hours, and then nothing – not even a pale musky woody drydown, I mean nothing. There’s no “there” there to review, so I hereby scratch the proposed Bel Respiro review.  SOTD: Crown Bouquet.

New calf in the shop lot!  No name yet, we’re not sure he’s going to make it.  We think he’s an abandoned twin, because there’s no mama cow going crazy looking for her baby.  Sure hope he starts thriving soon; he wasn’t interested in a bottle of milk.

Thursday, Apr.15: Same weather as yesterday. SOTD: Miller Harris Jasmin Vert, a lovely swap sample that I was looking forward to because according to P:TG it has a) green notes b) grassy, green jasmine, and c) narcissus. Well, it is lovely – but there’s not a lot of narcissus in there to my nose. Slightly disappointing. Maybe my hopes were too high, though – it really is very nice. Now I need to retest Septimanie Pavillon des Fleurs, another green jasmine scent. I thought, “Oh, I’ll never buy a 50ml bottle for $110… I’ll trade this sample away.” Bad move for me – okay, I still haven’t paid more than $85 for a bottle (Alahine), but I really think I might want some PdF… Where’s that Aedes gift card, I’m muttering as I toss things that are Not It over my shoulder…

The CEO took me to the Mexican restaurant for lunch, to celebrate getting the taxes filed. I know most people file them early in order to get their refund, but we hardly ever have a refund coming, since the farm income goes into our return too. We paid a bunch this year, most of it self-employment tax.

Friday, Apr.16: 80 F, and just beautiful out. SOTD: Silences, which felt right given the sad anniversary.

Saturday, Apr. 17: Chilly and windy again, 60 F. (Those of you who are still wondering at my fixation on the weather – well, I’m betting yours doesn’t change as radically as ours does!) SOTD: nothing. Too busy. Major house-cleaning, and The CEO is off on a field trip with some students, so he wasn’t available to change my flat tire.

Luckily, I can change a tire, despite my dad never having taught me. I had to learn – when Taz was a baby, I had a newspaper route that ran 48 miles long and took three hours to complete. The first time I had a flat tire, I called The CEO at 5:30am to come help. He teased me, and to be honest I figured it was something I really ought to do myself. So the second time I had a flat, I hauled out the car manual and did it myself. Have done it probably ten times since then. And you can bet I’m gonna teach both Bookworm and the boys how to do it.

Sunday, Apr.18: Sunny again but windier, 56 F. SOTD: AG Grand Amour. I got a longer ride with it this time because I “sprayed myself wet” on each wrist and on my collarbones. It’s really nice – it’s no Chamade, or even No. 19, but it’s quite attractive.

The calf seems to be getting better.  He took two full bottles today.

Monday, Apr. 19: Sunny, breezy, warmer, 67 F. SOTD: J’Adore L’Absolu sample, from a kind swapper. I don’t care for the original J’Adore, but this is quite lovely.

Calf took three full bottles today!

Tuesday, Apr. 20: Sunny, low 70’s today, with rain coming this evening. SOTD: Testing Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Homme. Too much patch and tolu balsam for me, but nice all the same if you don’t have problems with those. Reminds me somewhat of Czech & Speake No. 88, and Shaal Nur, and as more time goes on, of Coco and Sikkim.

Today is the start of rec league baseball season, which means I’ll be running Mom’s Taxi Service for the next, oh, six to eight weeks. Unfortunately, Gaze and Taz are two years apart in age, and they’re never on the same team. Bookworm has track practice. And band. And church softball – along with The CEO, mind you.

I’ll swim, or walk. And I like to watch bat-and-ball sports, but no way are you getting ME to stand up there and let people whang balls at my head. Nuh-uh. I’ll let the rest of my crazy family do that.

Image is Eau de Collection from Mr. A.D. uae at flickr.com.


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I think I may have gotten a little snarky over on Now Smell This recently, where the topic of discussion was Jennifer Aniston’s new perfume, Lolavie.    (Edit: the name “Lolavie” was axed after Marc Jacobs’ PR people threatened to sue Aniston if she didn’t change the name to something less like MJ’s Lola.  I don’t think anybody would have mixed up the two: Lola is a big sweet floral mess in a tacky bottle, IMO.  Lolavie was renamed “Jennifer Aniston” just before its release.)  A number of regular commenters opined that although it doesn’t sound like a fruity or sugary scent, it sounded suspiciously like a non-perfume perfume: “clean but sexy” and “floral but not flowery” sure seems an awful lot like Overpriced Nothing in a Bottle to some of us.  A commenter who’s relatively new to the blog – and hooray for that, I say!  It’s wonderful when new people show up and have a different opinion – commented that clean, floral-soap scents smell terrific to her, and that even if she bathes with scented soap, that light clean fragrance doesn’t last all day, and she’d like her perfume to smell clean and flowery for several hours, thank you. 

I said something like, Yes, that’s a very pleasant effect, but there are tons of things out there already that do that.  She commented that there isn’t a single fragrance genre that isn’t overrepresented, and she’s glad to see a nice, clean, inoffensive scent coming from Ms. Aniston.  She’s probably right on the plethora of everything currently on the market… except there can’t be too many fresh green florals for my taste (go see my ginormous post on green florals if you’re unconvinced).  So I apologize for intimating that we don’t need yet another Clean Floral, and I do hope rbrown (her user name at NST) sticks around and joins the fumeheads in commenting – and of course, she’s very welcome here!  It’s not often that we all agree on something anyway; quite a number of perfumista faves I just hate (Opium, Bandit, Poison, and Aromatics Elixir come to mind), and I’m unrepentant.  You Like What You Like, Period.

So it got me to thinking, how many of us do enjoy scents that smell like you’ve washed with a lovely floral soap?  I admit, there are a few I like, although it’s not a genre I’d call a favorite, and I have to be in the mood for “floral soap” or it just annoys me.  And my mother, She of No. 5, also likes that effect – just about every scent she’s ever worn has had either a soapy or powdery facet (sometimes both!), so that “floral soap” says, definitively, MOM to me.   Mind you, I’m  not “above” smelling like soap and flowers.  Sometimes you just want to smell like you have recently had a shower; there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  It’s very pleasant.

I’m putting up a poll: do you like “floral soap” scents or not? 

If you do like floral soap scents, I’d love to know which are your favorites.  Here are some fragrances that smell like floral soap to me:

Chanel No. 5  Far more complex than “floral soap,” of course, but it does have elements (the aldehydes, the musks) that remind me of soap. 

Cacharel Anais Anais  Mom wore this one, too, after her old bottle of No. 5 edc ran low.  Sharper and more herbal than No. 5, it nonetheless conjures up a tubful of bubbles for me. 

Coty L’Effleur In the “smells like you just bathed with a nice French soap” category, we have a winner.  This scent created in the early 90’s and discontinued some years ago, is in my opinion an absolute dead ringer for a lovely hard-milled French soap scented with flowers.  Mom wore this for several years, and what she liked about it was precisely that it smelled like good soap. 

 Alfred Sung Shi  Mom recently bought this for my sister, who normally wears Coco Mlle (and who once wore Dune).  My sister liked its clean smell.  When I commented that I thought it smelled like water (I wasn’t being complimentary), A. said, “Oh, yes!  Isn’t that nice? It’s not heavy at all, it’ll be nice for summer.”  I shut up then.

Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel  Recently I discovered this little-known fragrance (my thanks to Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am), and it smells to me like nothing so much as line-dried bed linens.  This is a smell I absolutely adore.  Nothing smells so downright clean and effortlessly wonderful as sheets dried on the line outdoors, especially if hay is being made nearby as it frequently is on our farm.  Sheets dried on the clothesline smell like grass, flowers, fresh air, and sunshine – even if you pack them away in the linen closet for awhile.  Notes on this fragrance: sweet grasses, hay, linden, violet leaves, rosewood, iris.  It’s not exactly Floral Soap, but it does have the Clean +  Flowers feeling.

Vintage Lauren by Ralph Lauren.  (Don’t bother with the currently-available-at-retail, it’s a bottleful of nothingness.)  This scent, in its ruby-colored cube bottle, brings back a lot of memories of college for me, as it was a scent worn by a friend.  Notes include: green notes, rose, violet, and oakmoss, and the effect is exactly that of floral-herbal soap.  Lovely.  I bought a partially-used bottle on ebay for less than $10, and the scent is worth far more than that.

Ivoire de Balmain.  I hesitate about including this one, because it’s such a shape-shifter.  Starts out with a galbanum blast (not exactly a “floral soap” element) and then moves into a beautiful soap smell.  Pretty soon the moss comes to join the soap, and this stage is a bit iffy on me – it only seems to work if the weather’s humid and warm.  Eventually, the drydown gets rich and honeyed – back to the floral soap, but with some amber and woods too.  The “soap” is dead on, but there’s so much else going on in there that I’m not sure this one really belongs.

(Edit alert!  I remembered a couple more soapies.)

Donna Karan Cashmere Mist   A heckuva lotta people love this one; it’s a perennial seller, but it’s my personal definition of boooooooring.  It’s the epitome of just-out-of-the-bubble-bath, where you poured in a ton of Ivory body wash (which, I admit, I really like, especially Fresh Snow, which I can’t find anymore, sad sad face) and then after drying off, smoothed six layers of really rich body lotion on and spent three hours rubbing it in.  Ivory body wash + creamy lotion.  I mean, nice, but… gosh. Dull.

Cacharel Noa  I once owned a mini bottle of this, which I kept wearing to work before I realized that it might possibly be the reason I kept getting sleepy halfway through the morning.  The list of notes is extraordinarily long for a fragrance that smells like a post-bath nap, and I never got the cilantro or coffee that P:TG raved about.  TS rhapsodizes in her review that although Noa is quiet, it always seems to have something new to say.  To me, it was as if the “something new” was simply the next name in the phone book.

(Subsequent edit, April 4, 2011: ran across another soapy fragrance.)

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Flora Nymphea   Ran across this in an airport Duty Free shop, spritzed it on a whim, and immediately decided I was getting my mother a miniature bottle.  It’s an orange-blossom soapy thing, quite pleasant.  I’m not the only one finding it soapy, either – I’ve seen at least four blog reviews saying the same thing. 

Here are a few more that have been recommended by various people as smelling like Floral Soap (I haven’t smelled them myself, and can’t comment on how closely they resemble soap):

Floris Seringa

Lacoste Pour Femme

Dolce & Gabbana original for women

Philosophy Pure Grace

Bvlgari Petits et Mamans

ByRedo Blanche

What do you say?

Image is Lovely green soap and dish from sunshinesyrie at flickr.com.

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Today marks the anniversary of the deaths of 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech.  I still grieve with the families and friends of those killed.  I also grieve with the shooter’s family, who lost a child as well that day.

I am grateful that The CEO made it home that day (the building where he teaches is the closest academic building to the dorm where the first shootings occurred).  I am grateful for the efforts of local law enforcement and emergency responders, and those of medical workers.  I am grateful for the outpouring of support that came from all over the world. 

Today we pause and remember the bright stars we lost.   If you go visit the Virginia Tech memorial website, on the right sidebar you will see the names of those killed.  Clicking on a name will open a brief bio, each one a picture of a vibrant, unique person whose loss diminishes the human community.   If you have time, I highly recommend your investigating Dr. Liviu Librescu, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who at the age of 76 held the classroom door closed against gunfire, in order to give his students the opportunity to escape through the second story window.  I am in awe of that sacrificial love in action.


Photo is Hokies Thank the World, by Michael Kiernan,  from the vt.edu site.

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