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Archive for August, 2011

I first saw Violet Eyes at my local Belk store last year and immediately grabbed the tester. I liked the ad, even though purple is definitely not my color.  And it sounded pretty, so I spritzed away. I didn’t check the notes list, so I was surprised to not find a violet note in it. Violet in the name, violet in the packaging… no violet in the fragrance. (What gives? I don’t get it.)  Then recently, I found a small 15ml bottle at my CVS on sale for $8.99, which I thought was worth purchasing for investigation and possible wear. It’s a pretty bottle, a little cylinder in pale violet, with the sparkly silver band at the top familiar from the White Diamonds packaging.

At first spray, this reminds me of Marc Jacobs Daisy, which I also like very much as a “wallpaper” scent, the kind that just sort of smells quietly nice in the background. Fragrantica calls it a floral, but I would amend the category to “floral woody musk,” the same as Daisy and many other department-store fragrances. Violet Eyes is indeed pretty, but not distinctive – which is just fine if you need a wallpaper scent, one that simply smells nice and doesn’t cost a lot.

The notes according to Fragrantica are: “fresh white peach, jasmine, purple rose, peony, amber, and cedar.” I don’t get peach, I get a sweet, vaguely citrusy fruit aroma for about a minute before it’s gone. I also pick up on a very light dusting of aldehydes, of the soapy-powdery variety. Violet Eyes is very floral, with a pretty jasmine-rose combination that, while smelling mostly synthetic, doesn’t have the plasticky-metallic feel that many El Cheapo florals do. This may be because the overriding floral note here is peony, bright but not as neon-pink as many peony fragrances can be.

The peony-jasmine-rose lasts a long time, over a nondescript but comfortable woody-musky base. I can distinguish cedar in there, with its bright, almost-astringent quality, and also there is a powdery vanilla element in the base along with a soft, suedey musk. This stage goes on for a considerable while on me, and one spray can last about seven hours – excellent staying power for an eau de parfum on my skin.

The overall effect is a bright, cheerful, pinky-purple floral muted by the velvety, powdery base, a clean, soft and pretty scent. It’s clearly mostly synthetic, but I find it easy to wear and very comfortable. Violet Eyes is, possibly, not up to matching the intensity of its namesake’s beauty, but it is a fitting tribute to her femininity. La Liz was perhaps at her most stunning in jewel-toned evening gowns, with dramatic makeup, but there are quite a number of early photos of her in soft colors, less glamorous and more pretty, and Violet Eyes edp is a good recap of that gentle, non-threatening, feminine side.

I find it reassuring that as time went on, Ms. Taylor embraced bolder fashions and colors with dramatic contrasts, as that seems to have been suited to both her striking looks and her flair for personal drama. Of course, her early perfumes are dramatic and bold as well. Passion was not and probably never will be the sort of thing I like, with its strong balsamic oriental cast, but the Hollywood-sized white floral White Diamonds is better than I remembered it being. (I’ll be reviewing that one soon.) Violet Eyes, composed by Carlos Benaim and released in 2010 – probably the final entry in the Elizabeth Taylor Perfumes line, or at least it will be if the owners of the brand have any decency whatsoever – is more reminiscent of the fragile prettiness of Taylor the child-and-teen star, the glowing youth of Velvet Brown (“National Velvet“).

Violet Eyes may have been dedicated to and inspired by the “iconic eyes,” but it is not iconic itself. Still and all, it’s attractive and gentle, and I expect I’ll get some mileage out of this small purple bottle.  Wish they’d thought to toss a little violet into the mix; it would have been perfectly appropriate!

Image is from Now Smell This.  For other reviews, see Robin’s at NST, or this one at The Scented Salamander.

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Apple tree in the Pond Field, photo taken by Gaze in August 2009

Monday, Aug. 22: The CEO started back to classes at VA Tech today. His mood always takes an immediate turn for the better when he’s teaching instead of farming. My parents and my dad’s sisters and their husbands are off on a week-long jaunt to the Rocky Mountains; hope they’re having a good trip.

This is going to be DSH Perfumes Week in honor of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and her commitment to putting out wonderful scents. SOTD: Essense Oils reproduction of classic vintage fragrance Faberge Aphrodisia. I have tried several of Dawn’s “duplicate” fragrances and mostly enjoyed them, even if they turn out to not be my style. This is another of those “great but not really my thing” ones, a big kitchen-sink-y oriental with a rich floral heart.

It was Open House at the middle school, so I spritzed a bit of Cuir de Lancome to cover the remains of Aphrodisia (which goes a little too Youth-Dew-ish in the drydown to suit me) and took Gaze to get him set up for classes. Luckily, his locker is pretty close to his homeroom class this year, up on the second floor, and he should be all set. Then we got his hair cut, and he looks great.

Tuesday, Aug. 23: SOTD: DSH La Fete Nouvelle, another one from the Essense Oils side of her prolific website. I ordered a sample because I’ve been on a search for an almondy scent lately, something that would go well with my almond hand cream. I do really like this one, though not specifically for the almond note. It smells more like drying hay and the way your skin smells after the old-school suntan lotion, the cocoa butter kind, has worn off. It’s sweet and grassy and makes me think of warm meadow breezes, when the sun has sort of cooked the grass seeds and made them smell almost like bread baking.

Taz’s turn to go to Open House at the elementary school… this is the last year I’ll have a kid there! Next year, both he and Gaze will be at the middle school, and Bookworm will be a senior. Whoa. Time sails by like a ribbon on the wind. Well, when it’s not draggin’ through the mud like a turtle.

My beautiful daughter, leaning on Eddie Van and frowning at the reception bars on her cell phone

I am burying the news flash here in Tuesday’s entry, although this is actually news from Saturday, in hopes that Bookworm doesn’t see it and attempt to kill me: shhhh… she has (really, shhh! Don’t squee out loud, she’ll hear you)… a boyfriend! He’s a terrific kid, a friend of hers from band. He needs a blog nickname – any suggestions? I’m tempted to call him “Smiley” because his usual disposition is such, but that’s a pretty lame moniker.

Wednesday, Aug. 24: SOTD: another DSH “skin scent” called Au Lait. It smells sort of milky and sort of nutty-coconutty at the same time. When I first put it on, I immediately thought, “Zagnut bars!”

Last day before school starts. Eek, hope we’ve got things organized properly. Lessee, Bookworm needs a check for lunch money, and the boys have to take boxes of tissues… I think we’ve got it under control.

Had The CEO’s mom, B, over for a birthday dinner. Her birthday was actually last week, but we were hectic-busy and then she was gone to spend the weekend with The CEO’s older sister, so tonight worked pretty well. Ate roast pork loin, stuffing, gravy, steamed broccoli, mushrooms, and rolls; dessert was a rich chocolate cake with cherries, ice cream optional. Yum. SOTEvening: YSL Paris Pont des Amours – aha! Back to the summery powdery florals I was mentioning not wanting in my Summer Picks post.

Thursday, Aug 25: SCHOOL IS BACK IN!!! Wooo hoooo! Mothers all over the county are clicking their heels as the bus drives off, and making plans for celebratory lattes… or cocktails. I have a busy day scheduled:

  1. Make Bookworm breakfast. Take her to the high school to meet the bus that will take her to Gov School (and back to the high school at about 10 a.m.). We leave the house at 6:15 a.m.
  2. Make sure Gaze and Taz wake up and get up; make breakfast for them and The CEO.
  3. Take the boys to school. Leave no later than 8:05 a.m, first dropping Gaze at the middle school, then Taz at the elementary school. (They could ride the bus, which would pick them up at 7:15 at the road half a mile from the house, but riding the bus both ways means two complete dead hours for each of them during the day, and they are bored enough. Also, it’s no big deal to run and catch the bus on a slightly-late morning if it stops in front of your door, but that’s not the case for us. We tried the morning bus for three weeks, and we were killing ourselves to do that. It’s just not worth the trouble.)
  4. Heave a big sigh of relief.
  5. Go by the Wal-Mart and pick up hot dogs for the band picnic, as well as a plain black t-shirt for Bookworm to wear under her uniform tomorrow night. She had been wearing one of several black shirts with graphics on them (C-O-O-L in sign language, or her Women in Computing one, or the running camp one), but this year the director is specifying PLAIN BLACK. In all caps, so I know he means it. I think he’s actually discouraging the tubas from wearing their “Low Brass kicks…” shirts.
  6. Go home and clear up the breakfast dishes.
  7. Feed the orphan calf.
  8. Take B to get her repaired car from the garage.
  9. Do some laundry.
  10. Write a little, if possible.
  11. Eat lunch. Wait for the boys to get off the bus (it’s an early release day), then give them a snack and instruct them to fold some laundry and feed the calf again before their dad gets them and my MIL to take them to the band picnic.
  12. Go to the band practice field and help set up for the meal. Take a change of clothes, because I will almost certainly get dirty.
  13. Enjoy the hot dogs and the band performance.
  14. Take tables and tent down and put them away, then help prepack bag dinners for band members for Friday evening (everything except the sandwiches).
  15. Make sure everybody gets home and clean and set up for school on Friday. 

Guess I’ll get to relax tomorrow after everybody’s off to school… SOTMorning: DSH Rose Vert. SOTAfternoon: DSH 1000 Lilies. Both of these are just flat gorgeous. It’s why I have multiple samples of them! It’s hot today, too: mid-90s and humid.

Finally, back from band event… tired. Hot. Headachy. Still got stuff to do. Bookworm got sunburned at band practice today, she looks a little bit like she has a reverse raccoon mask – white around the eyes where her sunglasses were, pink on the rest of her face.

Friday, Aug. 26: A bit cooler today. Did some laundry today. Wrote awhile. SOTMorning: DSH Chypre. (Wow, great stuff.) Poor Bookworm was on her way to Gov School this morning when she realized she’d forgotten some stuff she’ll need this afternoon – after GS, after school, after cross-country practice, before the marching band suits up and leaves for the football game at the adjacent town’s high school. Poor baby, such a long day. I took her those items and picked up her enormously heavy backpack to bring home.

The boys said school was “boring” today. I suppose they’ll spend their first couple of weeks doing the old paperwork-and-review shuffle. SOTAfternoon: Cuir de Lancome. And I finally, finally got my sister’s birthday present in the mail, only two weeks late. Bad me.

Saturday, Aug. 27: Cleaned up, as usual. It smells like fall’s coming; I can’t exactly pinpoint why. It’s still warm and humid, so the air’s not crisp. There’s just a… dustiness, a slow languor, a weight to the air, that says the growing season is at an end. A few leaves have begun to fall already, too. SOTD: DSH La Fete Nouvelle again, because it’s so pretty and the summer is really ending.

The Salem Red Sox’ last home stand is this weekend, and since we can’t go to tomorrow’s game, we’ll go use up the fan pack tickets tonight. Bookworm’s friend is going with us, and so is my MIL B… Game went into extra innings. (“Free baseball!” The CEO exclaimed.) Home pretty late. SOTEvening: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.

Sunday, Aug. 28: Slept late; went to the 11 am church service instead of the 9. SOTD: DSH Cielle, which has underwhelmed me, probably because it’s a jasmine-and-iris scent. I often wonder if I’m needlessly avoiding certain scents because I don’t love certain notes (jasmine, iris, and orange blossom come to mind here). And then I wonder, with all the wonderful scents in the world that focus on notes that I already love (tuberose, rose, aldehydes), whether it matters all that much that I don’t totally dig those certain notes. After all, lots of people adore iris, even if I prefer it as a supporting cast member. Lots of people love jasmine. I think I’ve decided that it’s not necessary that I be one of the people that love jasmine.

About the only thing that I really cannot stand is that resiny core accord in Youth Dew. Test Tabu, Youth Dew, and Opium on the same arm, and whatever-it-is they have in common (I have yet to figure out exactly what it is!), well, that’s my bête noire.

SOTAfternoon: Ines de la Fressange, the first one in the octagonal bottle. I should review it. Haven’t worn it much this summer, but I’m not feeling all that bubbly and romantic lately, either. In fact, I wanted something else in the evening, so I went for DSH Chypre again. Rrowr, come to mama…  Just went out to give the calf a bottle.  She was a twin (cows usually can only keep track of one calf, and one twin will typically be abandoned), so we’ve got her in the small lot by our yard and we’re giving her milk replacer twice a day.  As I was coming back into the house I realized how lovely the sounds are out here on the farm: cicadas, cows munching grass, birds calling, and the faint zoom of traffic from Rt. 100.

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Okay, so if you read perfume blogs or are a member of a perfumista group on Facebook, you’ve probably heard that  DSH Perfumes’ membership in the Natural Perfumers Guild was summarily revoked.  I’m not going into much detail, but the Guild’s complaint seems to be that since not every single one of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ offerings are 100% natural with no synthetics, the Guild would no longer allow her to continue as a Perfumer member.  I suppose that it’s the prerogative of a voluntary group like the NPG to come up with limitations on their producer membership.  I was just appalled at the manner in which the membership was withdrawn.  (See here and here for a few of the blog posts on the subject.)

Dawn’s work actually contains a very high percentage of natural ingredients, but she does use some synthetic items such as musk and woods materials in small amounts in some of her items, and she was very careful to only use the Guild’s imagery for the items that are completely botanical.  It always seemed very clear to me which ones were and which were not congruent with the Guild’s outlines.  You can read her explanation of her “Naturals” collection at the top of the page hereI admit that I am not very interested in investigating, much less purchasing, fragrance on the advertised basis of 100% natural.  I never have been, to be honest: all-naturals tend to last less long on my scent-eating skin, and I tend to be a little skeptical of the idea that Synthetics Are Bad For You.  It’s not that I mind an all-natural perfume, it’s just that there has to be something intrinsically wonderful about it before I’ll consider spending my limited perfume bucks on one. 

DSH Perfumes was one of the very first independent perfumeries that I explored upon becoming interested in perfume, and while I haven’t loved every single thing I’ve tried from the website, it’s had an excellent success rate with me.  The website is indeed a candy store full of goodies everywhere you turn!  I’ve heard some frustration from other customers about the website itself being difficult to navigate, and I would probably have to agree: it’s slow, it’s difficult to search, it covers many many products.  BUT.  In my opinion, the task is definitely worthwhile.  The site is divided into two major segments, the Parfums de Beaux Arts portion being more complex and high-art-focused, and the Essense Oils portion being more concerned with simpler fare.  I’ve had good luck with items from both segments.  I’ve particularly enjoyed samples from the Essense Vintage Collection, duplicates of long-gone or reformulated wonders such as Coty Chypre, Millot Crepe de Chine, and Prince Matchabelli Golden Autumn.  (Sadly, the Vintage Collection will be phased out over time, as Dawn focuses more on her special projects and stocks dwindle.  The truly stunning Chypre is already sold out.)

Despite my whining about 100% natural fragrances not suiting me, there are several of Dawn’s that have impressed me with excellent quality.  Rose Vert is simply gorgeous from beginning to end, and the run goes a surprisingly long time on my skin; the eau de parfum lasts about six hours on me.  Three Kings, while not being my favorite type of fragrance (it’s a woody-resiny, earthy concoction), is coherent and long-lasting and highly evocative.

So I’m spending my mornings this week in DSH Perfumes scents, in honor of the talented Ms. Spencer Hurwitz, and thought I’d share some mini-reviews of some noteworthy fragrances.  Wording in green is directly from the DSH website.

From the Essense Oils segment of the website (all of these items were tested in oil formulation, though sometimes they are available as edp or water-based spray):

Duplicate of Faberge Aphrodisia:  “A spicy oriental classic with a rich gorgeous heart and an animalic quality in the drydown.” Bergamot, neroli, Bulgarian rose absolute, carnation, jasmine, ylang-ylang, ambergris, Brazilian vetiver, moss, musk.  Aphrodisia is really lovely in the heart, an opulent floral bouquet over an ambery base.  Eventually it goes in the direction of Youth Dew (my personal Kiss of Death), so it’s not for me.

La Fete Nouvelle: “A country gathering amongst soft flowers and sun warmed plain grasses. This is a moment in time for sharing and enjoyment… a simple celebration of the day.” Bitter almond, fresh mown hay, lavender flower, American sweet grass, green wheat, toasted rice, sandalwood, tonka bean, treemoss, vanilla.  I ordered this sample because I’ve been  looking for an almondy scent something like the almond butter cream I use on my rough skin spots.  I somehow missed the mention of lavender (it often gives me headaches), and I wasn’t expecting this lovely gentle thing to come out of the vial.  It smells like the summers of my childhood: grass, flowers,and a faint cocoa-butter sweetness like warm skin with a trace of old-school suntan lotion.   It is beautiful.  Also, this is the first time a so-called “hay” note in perfume has actually smelled anything even close to real fresh mown hay; usually the note is too sweet and not grassy enough – or too green, and not sweet enough.  This is Just Right on Goldilocks’ scale, although I still wouldn’t say this is a primarily-hay scent because of the creaminess.   Nevertheless: summer in a bottle.  I misted up from nostalgia.

Au Lait (a milk scent): “sweet dreams: a touch of warm milk before bedtime… what could be more cozy? Au Lait is a sweet milky skin scent that leaves your skin smelling fresh and creamy-sweet in the drydown.” Sweet cream, French vanilla, tonka bean, warm milk, ambrette seed, buttercreme accord, Special Formula X (a soft musky accord).  This one made me giggle.  It was a freebie tossed in with a recent order, not something I would have chosen on my own, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.  Au Lait smells pretty much the same all the way through to me, sweet and nutty and milky with a hint of coconut, and it reminds me of nothing so much as a Zagnut bar!  As a kid, I was highly allergic to chocolate and absolutely forbidden to eat it by my mother, because it made me sniffly and snotty-nosed.  I would have to turn over my plastic pumpkin to my dad after trick-or-treating so he could cull all the chocolate candy out of it, which still makes me pout and stamp my foot (these days, I just eat the darn chocolate and then go take a Sudafed).  But then, I had to content myself with non-chocolate candy, and I was always happy to see a Zagnut bar in my Halloween stash.  Composed largely of peanut butter, sugar wafers, milk solids, and toasted coconut, Zagnut was a nutty-milky crunch, and one of my favorites.  I never see them in the stores anymore…

Duplicate of Coty Chypre (no longer available, so I don’t have access to the website’s description and I’m winging it here!): Bergamot, lemon, rose, jasmine, oakmoss, labdanum, patchouli, probably some other stuff I’m forgetting.  I’m planning to review the DSH version alongside the 1970s-80s rerelease from Coty, so all I’ll say here is that Chypre blew my flipping doors off.  It smells elemental and wild and earthy, and it stirs me in ways I’d never imagined – and I’m not all that huge a chypre fan!

Still of Gina Lollobrigida as Queen Sheba, from asiawelcome.com

Duplicate of Judith Muller Bat Sheba“A green aldehydic floral with a heady, honey-waxy feel in its heart and a rich, earthy, animalic drydown.”  Aldehydes, bergamot, galbanum, hyacinth, Bulgarian rose absolute, honey, jasmine, ambergris, Brazilian vetiver, civet, moss, sandalwood, vanillaWhoa, mama.  If there was ever a perfume that smelled like Gina Lollobrigida, here it is.  Completely, openly, ridiculously sexy, with a rose heart so opulent and sweet and ripe that you might just faint from its voluptuousness, and a drydown that’s just to die for, with sandalwood and moss being prominent to my nose.  Gorgeous.  It really stinks that I have nowhere to wear this thing… otherwise I would wear it a lot.  It has a big presence, even dabbed from a vial of oil!  I have not smelled the original, but Barbara at Yesterday’s Perfume and Gaia at The Non-Blonde were very complimentary, and it sounds as if the DSH version is quite up  to the quality of the original va-va-voom scent.

From the Parfums de Beaux Arts segment of the website (tested in edp, except for 1000 Lilies as parfum):

Vert pour Madame:.  I expected to love VpM.  I didn’t.  It is wonderfully constructed, seamless, and beautiful, but it did not sing to me the way I had wanted it to.  I’m not sure whether it was more floral or less floral than I had wanted, or whether perhaps it out-sophisticated me (certainly possible).   Both Donna at Perfume-Smellin’ Things and Tarleisio at Scent Less Scentibilities loved it and can tell its praises more eloquently than I can, so go read their reviews and sigh with pleasure. 

(Natural) Rose Vert edp: “In a dream, I am lost in fields of roses. They are dew-drenched and velvety against my skin. Their rich scent pervades my waking hours with remembrances of deep red and green.” Citrus oils, Bulgarian rose absolute, centifolia rose absolute, damask rose absolute, Moroccan rose absolute, Turkish rose otto, treemoss.  This one is described as “100% Botanical,” and I wasn’t expecting it to last on me the way it does.  It is truly, truly beautiful.  I love me some rose perfumes, but there is something in this one that sends my heart sailing on the breeze.  It starts out with a blend of citrus, including lemon and bergamot and something else I can’t identify – maybe lime?  After that, there’s a good long ride on a magic carpet of roses.  Dawn says “deep red and green,” but to me they’re a mix of sunny yellow, red, and all shades of pink.  You know how sometimes rose scents can go a little sour and screechy?  This one never does.  It does have a tanginess to it, but it’s a glowy citrus tang rather than a mean rose sour.  I don’t really smell the moss on its own; Rose Vert sustains its roses all the way to the end.   More reviews: Donna at PST (brief), The Non-Blonde.

(Natural) Oeillets Rouges: “A charming and playful perfume of red carnations in full bloom… joyful as a day in May.” Bergamot, green peppercorn, nutmeg, carnation absolute, French red carnation, honey beeswax, amber, ambergris, myrrh gum, vanilla.    Carnations are my birth month flower, and I happen to love them.  One of the reasons I got into perfume was to find one that smelled like real carnations, and believe you me, I have smelled a lot of carnation fragrances.  Some of them I enjoy very much (the lamented, austere Floris Malmaison, Guerlain’s flirty, creamy Terracotta Voile d’Ete, L’Artisan’s discontinued Oeillet Sauvage, and the delicately pretty Fragonard Billet Doux).  Others are absolutely dreadful on me, all soapy and bitter and horrid (Caron Bellodgia, L’Air du Temps, Ava Luxe Oeillet Rouge, Comme de Garcons).  Oeillet Rouges, though, is perfect: green and dewy, floral, spicy and sweet.  It has a smoothness and grace, despite the spicy notes, that keep it fresh instead of dusty and cloying.  I suspect that many aromamaterials that are supposedly carnation don’t play well with me, but carnation absolute – of course, the expensive stuff! – is Da Bomb.   My very, very favorite carnation fragrance ever (I have a sample of Serge Lutens’ Vitriol d’Oeillet coming to me at some point, but it will have to go a long way to beat Oeillets Rouges).   Another mention: Donna at PST.  (Image link:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/mscaprikell/6105173/ ) 

(Natural) Secrets of Egypt: 1000 Lilies (Susinon) : “Susinon was a luxurious and strongly scented lily perfume that was made by the Egyptians as well as the Greeks, but the Egyptian version was thought to ‘excel most’. This fabulous fragrance was also used by Cleopatra to scent the sails of her royal barge, perfuming the air along the Nile as she sailed, proclaiming herself as Goddess and Queen. The exhaustive recipe for Susinon calls for spices and resins to first be soaked in fragrant wine and balanos oil to be prepared. When the oil ready, it is added to the spices along with 1,000 lilies. Interestingly, in our time a lily perfume would be almost exclusively worn by women, but for the ancient Egyptians, Susinon was one perfume deemed suitable for a man. * 1,000 LILIES PERFUME has been created for Denver Art Museum’s KING TUT exhibit, 2010.” Cardamom seed, cinnamon bark, fragrant wine accord, galbanum, Kenya lily, narcissus absolute, orris root, pink lotus, saffron absolute, Turkish rose otto, ylang-ylang, Australian sandalwood, honey, myrrh gum, sweet flag.  This is another one of those 100% Botanical scents, and like Rose Vert, it lasts for several hours on me.  I have parfum, and it radiates a bit less than Rose Vert edp, but this is such a scent of quiet happiness.  I can’t quite associate the way it smells to me with my idea of Cleopatra, human embodiment of the Nile and the glory of Egypt, with her grandiosity and her gold ornaments and her goddesshood.  I find the notes in 1000 Lilies difficult to pick apart; the central quality of the fragrance, in my opinion, is the lotus flower note, a watery floral quality that renders the whole thing delicate yet sturdy, like a painting on silk.  I do not smell much galbanum in it, and everything else is so well blended that what it smells of is, simply, beauty, the kind that makes you catch your breath, between ecstasy and tears.    Other reviews:  Lucy at indieperfumes, Scent Less Sensibilities (can I come back in my next writerly life as Tarleisio, pleez pleez?), Donna at PST, Patty at Perfume Posse (brief).

If you have not yet tried any of Dawn’s hauntingly beautiful fragrances, may I encourage you to do so?  You may have to persevere through the unwieldy website (currently being redesigned, as I understand), but you will be well rewarded.  Go.  I mean it, go.  Check it out.

Now.

Why are you still here reading?  Hie thee to DSH, posthaste!

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Summer Picks, 2011

Summer Meadow, Windows 7 wallpaper from snegidhi.com. My summer did not look like this!

Well, as the season winds down, I have to note that it’s been one weird summer. First the weather was sort of chilly and wet, and then it zoomed all of a sudden into hot and dry, and then it went into miserably hot and miserably humid, and stuck there. Worse, none of the fragrances I usually look forward to wearing in the summer have been hitting the spot for me.

If you look at last summer’s picks, zero out of five of them would make this year’s list: Silences feels too mean, Fleur de Matin and Rose d’Ete feel too light, (the first) Ines de la Fressange and Vamp a NY seem too sweet. I did wear Rose d’Ete and Vamp a few times, but I wasn’t all that happy in them this year; they just seemed inadequate.

I have gone back over older Scent Diaries back to June – which isn’t Official Summer but feels like it – to pinpoint what I’ve been wearing when I haven’t been testing things. Here are the fragrances that I wore most often:

Mary Greenwell Plum

DSH Chypre oil

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur

DelRae Amoureuse

Vintage Coty Emeraude PdT and Shalimar Light (tie, for cosy bedtime wear)

Cuir de Lancome

See what I mean by weird? None of my usual lightweight summery florals, no galbanum-greenies, no aldehydies. I don’t think I’d say that my taste is changing; I still like those light florals and galbanumy greens and aldehydic florals. They have just seemed inappropriate for our weather, and I’ve been craving darker, heavier items.

If I try to analyze what has been on the “crave list,” I’m coming up with this: chypre, amber, and Big White Floral. Excepting the BWFs, that is not my normal summer mode. I can’t figure it. Plum is a white-floral modern chypre with a fleeting fruity top, Amoureuse is primarily a white floral with some green and spice, Voile de Fleur is straight-up white floral, and both Emeraude and Shalimar Light are lightweight orientals. Cuir de Lancome is as much floral as it is leather, and it’s the only leather I own, so I suppose it’s technically a chypre. DSH Chypre is, duh, a chypre, with some bitter citrus, background florals, and the classic oakmoss-patchouli-labdanum character.

(Incidentally, every single person in my family besides me hates Chypre. I don’t care.)

On the other hand, I have not suddenly discovered a love for citrusy cologne-type things, so that is at least some reassurance that I have not been taken by the alien pod people from Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

It’s the end of August. School has already started for Bookworm, at the magnet school for science, and the county begins classes on Thursday. A month from now, Bookworm will be eligible for her real (not learner’s) driver’s license. Although September 21 might mark the official end of summer, summer’s already on its way out. Temperatures this morning were in the 50sF, and there’s a lightening of the humidity over the past week or so. The first high school football game will be Friday, and it will still be too hot for the band to wear their wool uniforms, but they’ll be there in the stands, playing Stand Up and Cheer, and Jai-Ho, and Seven Nation Army.

Summer’s nearly over. Leaves are turning yellow, grass is starting to die, the mountains are losing that smoky blue haze…is it still summer where you are?

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Monday, Aug. 15: SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. Had my first mammogram today (oh, yippee… but not nearly as bad as I’d heard). Took Bookworm to the doctor’s office today to have that pinky finger looked at. She smashed it in the car door yesterday, and the nail is all purple-blue now. Got sent back to the imaging department at the hospital to have x-rays done, and that was the second time I was there in one day. Huh. Turns out the finger’s not broken (duh).

Then chauffeured Bookworm up to the high school for Open House. She picked up her class schedule and paid her fees; they wouldn’t let her purchase a parking permit until she actually has her license. Which she cannot get until September 21 at the earliest. Aargh. We walked in the door and were immediately greeted by boys wanting to talk to her. It was a friend of hers from MACC – the academic competition team – talking about new student prospects to replace last year’s seniors, and then two friends from band, one of whom is awfully cute.

But Bookworm has a class schedule muck up for 3rd block of 2nd semester. Essentially, it’s a throwdown between Spanish IV, which she needs for an advanced degree, and Wind Ensemble, which she just wants to take, especially if she’s going to try out for drum major next spring.

Tuesday, Aug. 16: SOTD: Amouage Lyric Woman. Gosh, this thing is really beautiful. I should wear it more often, but then I’d probably want to wear it more often, and I only have a decant because, hey, it’s Amouage. The verdict on it among my children was generally positive (I had never asked them before): Bookworm says, “That’s kind of nice,” Taz says, “It’s okay!” in a surprised, pleased voice, and Gaze says, “That’s nice. It kind of smells a little like Nana’s house… but in a good way.” Nana wears Chanel No. 5 and Jovan Musk for Women, as well as Elizabeth Arden 5th Avenue, in cast you’re wondering. I don’t know what Gaze is getting at here. But then, I grew up in that house so I might not be able to smell it.

Bookworm and I stopped by the guidance counselor’s office and tried several permutations of scheduling to see if we could work out the band class, but it’s just not going to be possible this year. She’s bummed.

Wednesday, Aug. 17: SOTD: Elie Saab Le Parfum, sample sent to me by the lovely Ann N. I wound up using all of the sample over two applications, which is unusual for me. I like it.

Bookworm started “behind the wheel” driving lessons today. They do it here separately from the classroom lessons, and she’ll have seven hours driving and seven hours of observing the other student driver. We used to go to church with the instructor, and in any case he must have nerves of steel, but everybody got finished in good shape today. No crashes or panic attacks or more gray hairs on the instructor, no fire department or police or ambulance. Whew. Not that I was really worried, but still.

The CEO got all his 120 signatures on the petition to allow him to run for School Board.

Thursday, Aug 18: The weather this week has been very, very nice: mostly in the low-to-high 70s F, and low humidity. It’s rained a couple of times, too. I certainly hope next week will be just as wonderful. I can’t remember the last time we had pleasant weather in August. Usually the kids go back to school the last week of August and it’s miserably hot, which only matters because the elderly elementary and middle school buildings are not air-conditioned. I can remember years in the recent past when the kids were dismissed two hours early from school on August days for inclement weather, meaning a monstrously high heat index. The high school, built in 1974, is a bizarrely podular-shaped thing, with minimal windows and carpet on the floors, and certain classrooms have rounded walls. It, of course, is air-conditioned. The CEO went to school there, and he remembers a certain winter day when the power went out and nobody could find their way around the building without lights… although I think he mainly remembers it because he managed to bump into his girlfriend-of-the-time in the hall and there was PDA unhindered by teachers.

SOTMorning: Mona di Orio Les Nombres d’Or Tubereuse. Will review it for the Tuberose Series, but I’ll just say I’m not digging it. SOTAfternoon: vintage Coty Emeraude parfum from an old roll-on bottle. It’s strongly powdery, which is not my favorite iteration of vanilla, but I don’t know if that’s due to age damage (possible) or the concentration. I still think my favorite vintage Emeraude is the parfum de toilette, which is a liqueur-like vanilla thing, all clear and potent.

Rainshowers this evening. Went to the band room to observe kids getting fitted with their uniforms; the same band mom has been doing uniforms for several years, and I thought it would be good to watch her system in case she falls under a bus or something. Bonus news: Bookworm has grown and will have to have her pants let down an inch!! Yay!

Friday, Aug. 19: Seems I spoke too soon about the weather… it’s now back to the upper 80s and humid. More Driver’s Ed “behind the wheel” instruction today. SOTD: SSS To Dream.

Then there was a scrimmage game at the high school this evening, so The CEO and I went to watch the band. It was too hot for uniforms, so they went with band t-shirts. It’s likely to be too hot for uniforms next week, too, for the first official football game of the season. SOTEvening: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.

Saturday, Aug. 20: Cleaned house. Again. Also, it looks like the heat pump has got unreasonable amounts of condensation going on… I think we need it to be serviced. The house is ten years old now, and nobody has ever come to check the heat pumps, which I think is supposed to be done every three years or so. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome. I love this thing.

Sunday, Aug. 21: Rainshowers, temps in the mid-80s and humid. SOTDay: Chanel No. 5 parfum, overlaid with a spritz or two of Eau Premiere. I smell good.

Dinner this evening at our minister’s house with some other folks; we’re going to discuss the possibility of starting a small group in our area (church is in B’burg, and there are plenty out there for us to join, but it’s tougher than ever to drive an hour and a half for a weeknight Bible study, given the family schedule).

Gaze wants a haircut before school starts on Thursday. Taz doesn’t want one, and that’s okay with me as long as his bangs aren’t in his eyes. I’ve also got to go through their closets and dressers and figure out whether they need new school clothes right away, or whether they’ve got enough summer stuff to do them for the first couple of months.

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I’ve been a pretty big fan of Francis Kurkdjian for awhile; his fragrance house’s Lumiere Noire pour femme is an absolute favorite of mine, and there are several other fragrances he’s authored that I really enjoy.  So when Vanessa at Bonkers about Perfume praised Elie Saab’s new, eponymous scent, I added it to the “To Investigate” list.  And then when Angela at Now Smell This enjoyed it and called it a “tornado of aldehydes and flowers,” I shifted it over to the “To Test” list, since I am a confirmed card-carrying AldeHo.  I was expectant of joy. And when Ann N, of Perfume Posse, sent me a sample, I was thrilled and put it on right away.

Also, I think that’s a pretty bottle.  People keep saying it looks like the bottle for Guerlain L’Instant, but you know me: I’m not terribly bothered by recycled design elements.  I like a nice heavy squarish thing that feels good in the hand, and this one certainly looks like it would do that.  I don’t know anything about Elie Saab other than that he’s a fashion designer, which of course means that I am completely oblivious to his typical artistic bent and whether or not his fragrance fits his oeuvre.  It’s a good fragrance, though.

Here’s my “short review” version: La Chasse aux Papillons and Coco Mademoiselle made a baby.  I don’t really care much for either of those fragrances – La Chasse veers too toilet-cleanery and Coco Mlle. is far, far too patchouli-heavy – but there are elements of each in Elie Saab, somehow pairing the two in a way such that the best features of each parent are present in the offspring.  Nice.

The thoughtful, serious(ish) version:  Elie Saab Le Parfum starts off with a tender, sweet orange blossom that I’m enjoying more than usual, since OB is almost guaranteed to go soapy on me.  I don’t smell a lot of fruit, just a fleeting sort of… succulence?  Like biting into a plum, with its terrific sweet-sour balance.  It passes quickly.  Elie Saab is only a little soapy at the top, with a youthful, shy quality that is extremely pretty.  Very quickly, the scent shifts into a thing of light and sparkles, with a hint of aldehydes and a lot of jasmine.  There is also a buncha hedione in there, methinks – it’s that aspect of jasmine that seems both green-dewy and light-clean, the farthest thing from indolic that you could imagine.  Angela writes (so charmingly!) that this phase makes her think of the instrumental ascending-pitch crescendo in the Beatles’ A Day in the Life.  I often experience certain scents as being auditory in some sense, but Elie Saab doesn’t sing to me.  Instead, it’s a dazzling white light, diffused gently over an array of blossoms.  I did dab it generously rather than spraying, and I might get more aldehydes if I had the opportunity to spray.  All the same, it was very pretty, with the effect of a sparkly white chiffon veil, just my girly-girl type of thing.

Notes (from Fragrantica): Orange blossom, jasmine grandiflora, jasmine sambac, rose-honey accord, cedar, patchouli.

I do find it a little heavy on the clean patchouli for my taste.  But then, I’m sensitive to patchouli.  It’s a nice base accord, very light and clean with that astringent and almost sour quality that clean patchouli, and sometimes cedar, can have.  I’ll make nice here and call it tangy rather than sour, because it’s not unpleasant at all.  I’d have liked a bit more of the so-called rose honey accord, because that really is up my alley.  However, over two wearings (using up my sample!  which I never do!), I did not detect anything I could have pinpointed as honey, while the rose is there but very much in the background to that scintillating jasmine.

It lasted for a fair amount of time on me, about five hours.  With the “spray until wet” technique, it might last even longer.  I don’t actually smell musk, but I’d bet there’s either some musk or other in there, because of the decent lasting power on my usually scent-eating skin.  With musks, of course, you always run into the possibility of specific anosmiae, and I’d bet I just can’t smell whatever this one is.

I like Elie Saab Le Parfum.  I’m not moved to want a bottle or even a decant, for reasons that longtime readers can probably predict: I wanted more aldehydes than I got, I’m not a big jasmine fan, and there is of course the Dreaded Patchouli, which is not offensive but still too much for my personal taste.  I did really like that cloud-of-light effect.  I’m sure this scent will sell very well, deservedly so.  And I think I might heart Francis Kurkdjian even more, for that glowy effect he’s so capable of producing, in Elie Saab and in Lumiere Noire pf – and probably in other things, as well.  Hmm… Oh, Francis, dahlink? Would you maybe consider making something just for meeeee?  How about you try that effect in a tuberose floral this time?

Image is from Fragrantica.  Also, here’s another review from a blogger I’m sure I’ll be adding to my blogroll, The Unseen Censer (cool name! Poe! Yay!).

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No perfume again today.  I’ve been really busy with the normal Back to School mom  stuff, and also ferrying Bookworm around to various things (Governor’s School, doctor’s office to see about her pinky finger she slammed in the car door Sunday, hospital to get X-ray for said finger, band practice, cross-country practice, et cetera, et cetera).  Also, I am burning up in the middle with a new story, so any spare minutes I get have been spent writing.  I find that if I don’t drop things and write right now what’s going on in my head, it goes away.  So, here’s what I’ve got right now as the opening page of this story (which is not the novel I excerpted earlier – that one I’ve been working on for about three years now).

Monday, August 1, 2011

Jason Povlich, sixteen-year veteran director of the Fairlee County (Virginia) High School band, was toasting a bagel and tasting the first sips of his morning coffee when he heard. The radio was on, with the news report, and he was rearranging his To-Do List for the following week’s band camp when the morning news guy said something completely unexpected.

In local news, two people are dead following a single-car accident last night near Star Lake in Franklin. Apparently, the driver of the vehicle fell asleep and hit an embankment, killing both passengers in the vehicle. Names are being withheld pending the informing of family. Also in Franklin yesterday, twenty-one-year-old Thomas Day Donovan was arrested on charges of rape and assault. Donovan is alleged to have called 911 himself, requesting medical help for the victim, who is not being named according to the nature of the crime.”

Mr. Povlich spat out his mouthful of coffee, said something out loud he wouldn’t have liked to have had his mother overhear, and went to find his wife.

She was drying her hair in the bathroom, and he waited until she saw him in the mirror and turned off the hair dryer. Without preamble, he told her, “Day Donovan’s just been arrested.”

She put down the dryer. “What?”

You heard me.”

Day Donovan?” Katie Povlich repeated, in incredulous tones. “Arrested? Why, for God’s sake?”

For rape,” Jason said.

Rape?” she exclaimed, with even more disbelief. “We are talking about the same kid you had in band three years ago, right? Sweet kid, wouldn’t step on a bug?”

Has to be. I don’t know any other Thomas Day Donovans in Franklin, age 21.”

There’s some mistake,” Katie said, with finality. “There’s just no way.”

I agree,” Jason said. “I can’t believe it. If Day’s a rapist, I will personally eat a tuba.”

Similar mouthfuls of breakfast coffee had been spat out of mouths all over Franklin and the surrounding towns. Boy Scout leaders, teachers in the Fairlee County school system, employees of DiTech Systems, and members of the Angels Rest Holiness Church were just as incredulous as the Povliches. Day Donovan a rapist? The earth shook on its foundations.

Both radio and TV were off in the home of David and Lisa Harper. Their younger daughter Tess, age 17, was up early for once, eating cereal at the breakfast table and watching her parents have a silent eyeball conversation. “Where’s Meredith?” Tess asked.

She’s asleep upstairs,” Lisa said. “Don’t wake her up.”

Okay.” Tess meditatively crunched cereal. “What’s going on? Did she come in late or drunk or something?”

David and Lisa looked at each other with some alarm. We’re going to have to tell Tess something, David said without words.

And, Not yet, Lisa replied, equally silently. To her daughter she said, “Why don’t you stick around the house today? Hang out with Meredith for a change. She won’t be here very long – she goes back to college in a few weeks.”

Tess perked up. “Cool. She can drive me to the mall. There’s a sale at Anthropologie.”

No, I mean stay home,” Lisa said, sharper than she’d meant to. “I need you to stay home.”

And do what exactly?” Tess demanded, putting down her spoon. “Play Barbies? Swing on the swingset? What do you think we are, eight years old?”

David made a choked noise in his throat and got up from the table. He pulled out his handkerchief and blew his nose. “Allergies,” he said to Tess. “Mind your mother and stay home, young lady.”

Fine.” Honestly, parents, Tess thought. They never knew anything. She ate her cereal and went to text Chels and Mikayla that her parents were imprisoning her against her will and not to expect her at the pool. She also knew that something was up, probably with Meredith. Probably one of her panic attacks again, which she was not allowed to mention to anyone outside the family.

She went to Meredith’s room to just crack open the door and see if she was awake yet, but when she poked her head in, Mere was rolling around in her covers the way she did when she was waking up and stretching. “Hey,” Tess said. “What’s going on?”

There was an incoherent mumble from under the sheets.

Did you have one of your panic things last night? Dad is all weird today, and Mom told me not to turn on the TV and disturb you.”

Meredith sat up groggily, rubbing her face with both hands. One camisole strap was falling off her right shoulder. The other shoulder, Tess noticed, was bruised pretty badly, a big ugly purple blotch on the tender inner arm stretching up to her collarbone. “Ow,” Meredith said, “That hurt.” She also had a scratch and bruise on her left cheek. But she smiled at Tess, a strange smile that was somehow both shy and smug. Like she had a secret, Tess thought. Mere was pretty tight with her secrets.

What happened to you?” Tess asked. Something must have happened, for Mere to be bruised up and Mom and Dad both weird and staying home from work.

Meredith did not answer her, instead reaching over to the nightstand for her phone. She flipped it open and frowned with concentration, scrolling through the menus for something. She flopped back down on the bed. “Ow,” she said again, and started thumbing a text message.

Who’re you texting?” Tess said, not really expecting an answer. But Meredith turned the phone around so Tess could see:

hey how r u?   im still groggy fr antipanic meds & sore fr fall    u get home ok?   u wr rly freaked out last nite   txt me back k”

Who’s that to?” Tess wanted to know, all at sea with “meds” and “fall” and “freaked out.”

Day, of course,” Meredith said, and smiled that strange smile again.

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