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Archive for December, 2011

Well, at least in part.

I’ve never done one of these posts, since it’s rare that I’ve even tried more than three or four released-this-year fragrances. But thanks to several shopping trips and a few decants, and some really lovely fumie friends, I’ve tried several of the year’s releases and can actually comment on the ones I’ve tested.  This is a new experience for me, as I’m typically behind the times.

It was a grab-bag sort of year.  I’ll divide the new fragrances I tried into categories, depending on my reaction to each one.

Well, Duh: new fragrances that I didn’t like, but then I didn’t expect to like:

Justin Bieber Someday; Jessica Simpson I Fancy You; Taylor Swift Wonderstruck – all three of these were simple, fruity, lowest-common-denominator kind of scents. I rather like Taylor herself, but I can’t imagine wearing any of these sugary fruitbombs on my actual skin.

Sonoma Scent Studio Fig Tree – what can I say? I don’t like fig scents. It was kind of Laurie to send me a sample to try, anyway, and this one is getting raves from lots of people. So it’s me.

Estee Lauder Sensuous Nude – anything with a “skin scent” descriptor is likely to disappear on me within an hour. This one’s no different: laundry musk and plastic.

L’Eau d’Issey Florale – the original is so reminiscent of industrial cleaner that I was sure that tossing some “light” florals like freesia and peony on top wouldn’t improve things much. I was right. 

Why Did I Bother?: new fragrances that I expected to like, but didn’t like:

Shalimar Parfum Initial – well, I didn’t hate it. But it doesn’t seem related to Shalimar in the least, and bored me silly. Not that I’m a huuuuge Shalimar fan, but still. Dull.

Chanel No. 19 Poudre – I like powder, and I love No. 19. I was hoping for the equivalent of No. 5 Eau Premiere, an updating that didn’t dumb down the original. Nope. 

Even Steven: new fragrances I thought I’d like, and did

Oscar de la Renta Esprit d’Oscar – a cold-cream-and-face-powder floral that is both dressy and comforting. 

Sonoma Scent Studio To Dream – I adore the oaky opening.  The rest of it is rose and violet and woods, very pretty.  A little fainter than I’d have liked it to be.

Disappointment: new fragrances that I expected to love, but merely liked, or found unimpressive:

Serge Lutens Vitriol d’Oeillet – I was hoping for those angry carnations to come through for me. It’s nice – a dry, spicy, woody thing that I find very enjoyable. Yet it could have been so much more that I was disappointed.

Cartier Baiser Vole – a green, romantic lily? Yes, please! On a card, it’s wonderfully refreshing. On my skin, it’s not green at all; rather, it’s flat and soapy. 

Elie Saab Le Parfum – the prettiest orange blossom I’ve ever smelled, in a glowing, sparkling tulle confection.  I wanted more aldehydes and less patchouli, though.

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals – Three words: boring, boring, boring. Sigh.

DSH Pandora – essence of green floral chypre sounded so lovely! And it is, right up to the Ghost of Youth Dew time. The rest of you, please enjoy it copiously. I admire Dawn’s work very much – including this fragrance – but this one is not for me.

Bottega Veneta – I give up. I can’t even review this thing. I almost like it a lot, but there’s a raspy, Tang-dust thing in there, and then there’s all that patchouli too.

Tom Ford Violet Blonde – raspberry-violet-cashmere musk? Sounds great, thanks. But it smells like SweeTarts to me. No, thanks.

Parfumerie Generale Praline de Santal – I can’t remember which blogger loved this thing and induced me to jump in on a tiny split portion, unsniffed. I like it. It’s nice. However, after the almost-nauseating immortelle bit (oddly, I still like the smell of immortelle, but it makes me feel a little queasy), it goes all linear to creamy woods. It doesn’t move me.

Surprise, surprise!: new fragrances I expected not to like, but wound up enjoying:

Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau – burnt-sugar palmier pastries. What fun! A wonderful blend of childlike and sophisticated, and never fails to make me want a bitter espresso to highlight its deep roasty sugary pastry thing. Won’t be buying it because it’s a) weird, and b) retailing at Serge prices. Oh, well.  And anyway, where would I wear it?

Prada Candy – I expected this to be too sweet, too linear, too meh. Instead, it’s warm and rich and comfortable and fun. I think I’d rather have Hanae Mori Butterfly, but still.

CkOne Shock for Him – I wound up buying a small bottle of this for my son, since I kept hearing that it might echo Chanel Egoiste, at a much lower price. It does smell cheapish, but that’s okay. That suits the wardrobe of a teenage boy, and I like smelling it on him.

True love: new fragrance that I thought I’d love, and I do:

Tableau de Parfums Miriam – there’s either too much to say about this one, or not enough. I adore it – its perfumey-ness, its wistfulness, its warm sandalwood. So gorgeous.

Candidates: new fragrances I wanted to test, but didn’t get to:

Atelier Vanille Insensee

Lubin Black Jade (despite all the hoo-ha about Marie Antoinette and whether this is actually a long-lost recipe for her perfume or not, the notes sound right up my alley)

Juliet Has a Gun Romantina

Amouage Honour Woman (Amouage does White Floral?? I have a sample coming my way now)

Possibilities: new fragrances that got some blogger love and that I might explore if the chance comes about:

Annick Goutal Le Mimosa

Annick Goutal Mon Parfum Cheri par Camille

By Kilian Sweet Redemption

Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Jasminora

Angel eau de toilette (I hate the original; merely curious about this one) 

I enjoyed the opportunity to try some new scents while they were brand new.  That was exciting. However, I don’t feel that I’ve got anything to say about the year’s releases as a group. As with most of the perfumes I’ve tested – new or old – it’s a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Your thoughts?

Image is from thegiftexperience.co.uk.

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I love nutcrackers.  You know, the brightly-painted, vaguely-Germanic Christmassy decorative nutcrackers?  I collect them.  (So far, I have managed to avoid also collecting nutcracker rugs, nutcracker trashcans, nutcracker shower curtains, nutcracker plates, and the like, by dint of much insistence.   Okay, I now have a nutcracker rug that once belonged to my late grandmother.  And I have some nutcracker ornaments that really started the Whole Nutcracker Collecting Thing.   But that’s it, I swear.)  Here’s a pic of my collection.  Please note that every single one of these guys has a name.  That was Taz’ idea several years ago, but it was mine to insist that they all have Teutonic names, just Because.  SO I have Wolfgang und Karl und Siegfried und Josef…

My favorite?  It’s the guy on the second row, far right, in the blue.  He’s getting older, and his paint is chipping, but he’s still Karl and I still lurve him.

And I love the Sunday Sweets posts over on CakeWrecks.  Well, I love CakeWrecks posts in general, especially the Mithspellings ones, but I especially love to look at beautiful cakes.  So when I saw this one, I HAD TO SHARE.  Enjoy!  He’s CAKE.  How could anyone eat such adorableness?  It’s beyond me. 

I’d probably manage that, anyway, because, you know, he’s cake.

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I knew very little about Harvey Prince when I received an email from a PR representative, offering a giveaway on this blog. Right away, I went to the Harvey Prince website to scout around a bit.

The website says that HP was founded by two brothers who didn’t want perfume to be “overwhelming, overpriced, and full of toxic chemicals,” and after composing a fragrance found inspiration in the person of their mother. The website also points out that certain smells have certain effects on our mental processes, and that each of the Harvey Prince scents have been created to take advantage of these olfactory receptor-to-brain linkages in order to affect behavior and perception.

While I am not opposed, in theory, to this version of aromatherapy, some squinty-eyed part of me is rather skeptical. Does this sort of thing actually work, I wonder? And whether or not, as reported by scientific study, men actually become, um, interested in a woman smelling of lavender and pumpkin pie, will these scents actually smell good?

Because I have to say, I don’t think I want to throw this Man Bait lavender-pumpkin-pie scent out there on my skin and having guys follow me home. I’m quite certain The CEO would not approve. Sure, I’ll try it on him and see what he says. Or does. (I may actually report the results, depending.)

I’ll also point out that although the website claims that the Harvey Prince fragrances are hypoallergenic, and do not contain “parabens, phthalates, PCBs, BPAs, GMOs, sulfates or other toxic chemicals,” these do not seem to be all-natural perfumes as that category of fragrance is usually defined. They do not smell like the natural fragrances from independent perfumers that I have worn before, coming far closer to smelling like mainstream perfume house releases. And to be honest, the marketing research is so all-pervasive that the “no synthetics” spiel comes across as a ploy to appeal to customers who like the idea of their fragrance being different than all those accessible scents that just anybody can buy at Walgreen’s, or at Macy’s.

But I put aside my skepticism to test these scents and judge as dispassionately as I could how they actually smell, and whether I would buy them for myself. The results were mixed; I’ll explain.

The six samples sent to me so kindly by Harvey Prince were:

Ageless. Meant to make the wearer seem younger, “smell as young as you feel.” Notes: pink graefruit, pomegranate, mango, jasmine, tuberose, ylang-ylang, sandalwood.

I have been unable to ascertain whether Ageless is a version – reformulated or not – of the fragrance Ageless Fantasy by Harvey Prince, which Luca Turin called “pear-melon version of Tommy Girl,” in Perfumes: The Guide. However, since Ageless Fantasy is described in the same terms as Ageless, as being able to make the wearer seem approximately eight years younger, I have to assume that the two are at least related in some way.

Pink grapefruit and mango are supposedly antidotes to that “old age” smell that skin gives off as certain fatty acids break down. Oh-kay. Seems that grandmother-smell has a basis in scientific fact, and the Harvey Prince claim could be true. It just seems to me that it wouldn’t necessarily work on fairly young people; for example, it’s not likely to make a 32-year-old woman smell as if she’s really 24. If you’re 70 and you wanted to smell 60, that might make a difference.

But enough of the scientific angle (which I can’t prove or disprove on my own): what does it smell like? I offered sniffs from the bottle to my teenage daughter and son (the tween-age son refused), without any context. Gaze said “shampoo” immediately, and then – because he’s a sweetie – added, “nice shampoo.” Bookworm, who’d been in another room and hadn’t heard her brother’s comment, sniffed and said, definitively, “shower gel.”

And I concur: a functional fragrance meant for use in a personal care product. Oh, it’s rather pleasant – fruity but not sweet, floral but not overpowering, fresh and clean and minimal in a modern just-out-of-the-shower, won’t-offend-anyone-on-the-city-bus kind of way. And it does smell young, completely innocent, as if someone had lifted 40% of the top- and heartnotes out of Marc Jacobs’ Daisy. On skin, the waft as I move my hands about or sniff two inches from my wrist is actually very pleasant. Smelled closer to, with nose to wrist, the scent is considerably less pleasant: very chemical, with lab-created jasmine and woody notes and something that reminds me of the cucumber-melon kind of shower gel that everybody loved so much in the 1990s. (Also: tuberose, my foot! I’d bet the farm that this thing has not been within six hundred miles of an actual tuberose flower.  But there speaks the tuberose fan, for what it’s worth.)

Eau Flirt. Meant to attract the passionate attention of men; “this perfume flirts for you.” It’s also described as “seductive, sparkling, wicked.” Notes: lavender, pumpkin pie, citrus, jasmine, freesia, ylang-ylang, nutmeg, cinnamon, ambers. This is the fragrance that garnered mentions in the New York Times and Cosmopolitan. Also, according to Harvey Prince, as reported on the CBS Early Show, Eau Flirt was “the clear victor versus a popular, classic Chanel perfume” in a “blind smell test among men.”

My assumption is that the “popular, classic Chanel” is No. 5. But which version – edt, edp, or parfum? It matters. And did the men undergoing the sniff test smell the fragrances immediately after spraying? On skin, or on a card? I’m going out on a limb here to say that most people, 85 years after No. 5’s debut, are going to prefer light-and-fresh citrus topnotes to the overdose of aldehydes that No. 5 is so famous for. Aldehydes are difficult – and I adore them, but I know that most people don’t. This may be the reason that Chanel updated No. 5 to create Eau Premiere, by adding a lot of citrus, more soft rose, and a big slug of friendly warm musk. Would the test results have been different if the men had smelled the perfumes after two hours? I’m betting they would. And would Eau Flirt have beaten Eau Premiere? There’s no way to tell unless someone does that study.

I’m also betting that the public at large doesn’t know that the way a perfume smells in the first two minutes isn’t the way it smells after two hours. (No. 5 is truly lovely in its heart-to-drydown phase.) As for the specific appeal to men, I can only say that The CEO shrugged with indifference. It didn’t appeal to me much, either, being a sort of “bottomless” fragrance with very little base, just a faint soft ambery sweetness. But then I’m not much of a lavender fan, either, and I found these light florals very insipid.

According to my offspring (offered sniffs from the bottle, independently and at different times of day), Bookworm found it “boring and sort of… weird. Like it’s falling apart.” Gaze, on the other hand, said, “Oh, I like that one. I really do. Can I smell it again?” And he may be a small guy, but he’s definitely a guy, so maybe there’s something to this theory – not that every man will find Eau Flirt magnetic, but at least a few do.

Eau Fling. Meant to attract and excite men; “a modern-day love potion.” Notes: lavender, blackcurrant, plum, raspberry, apple, jasmine, nutmeg, cinnamon, musk, rare woods. I think this is another one of those lavender-pumpkin pie nexus fragrances, but I like it a great deal better than Eau Flirt.

It is fairly fruity on the open, but Fling is darker than Flirt, and I think the dark fruits transition better to the spicy notes. From the spices, it moves on to a generically woody base that is warm and comfortable. It lasts longer than the two HP fragrances I tried earlier, settling down for a good four hours on skin.

Gaze said he found Fling pleasant but had a strong preference for Flirt; Bookworm liked Fling better and so did I. The CEO commented that it made him think of the smell of the hair salon at first, and then it calmed down and became more snuggly. He was noncommittal on whether he liked it.

Coupling. Meant to engage the romantic, sensual interest of a man. This fragrance seems to have been based on a Glamour magazine poll looking at the kinds of fragrances that turn men on. The winning smells were “the clean, fresh scents of gardenia, freesia and cucumber, and sophisticated, spicy scents of patchouli, cinnamon, amber, and nutmeg.” Coupling, according to Harvey Prince, combines both [clean/fresh and sophisticated/spicy].

This one, judged strictly from the notes, looked like a train wreck to me. Notes: gardenia, cucumber, pumpkin, nutmeg, jasmine, marigold, patchouli, vanilla. I mean, if you asked me my favorite things to eat, you’d get (at various times) some combination or other of “caramel, parmesan cheese, broccoli, cinnamon rolls, mushrooms, Jonagold apples, tilapia, Mom’s beef-vegetable soup, tomato sandwich on white bread with plenty of mayo and freshly ground black pepper. And cheesecake.” But all at once? That’s just wrong.

But if you served me a meal of several courses that included my favorite foods – starting with a bowl of soup, adding that ‘mater sammich and some grilled tilapia with mushrooms and broccoli, and finishing up with either the cheesecake or the apples and cinnamon rolls, it might make sense.

That’s what Coupling does. (Thank goodness.) You start off with a cucumber note that gradually segues into a light white-floral heart, not too sweet and heady, and then Coupling slides into a white-floral/spice accord that I like a lot. Eventually it goes (“clean”) patchouli-vanilla, and that sticks around for several hours.

The CEO’s verdict was “Nice. I like it. It’s kind of faint, and I like most of your other stuff more, but it smells nice.” I agree. This one might be my favorite of the six Harvey Prince scents I sampled.

Eau de Lite. This is meant as a diet aid. Yes, you read that correctly. Eau de Lite is supposed to be “positive reinforcement for your weight loss goals,” and looking at the notes, I couldn’t see how this could possibly smell anything other than unappetizing: peppermint, green apple, vanilla, spearmint, fennel, jasmine, rose, sandalwood.

I’m right. The entire thing smells inedible, in a rehab-clinic, antiseptic sort of way, chilly and not pleasant at all. Sure, it might keep you from using your teeth to tear into that emergency package of Ho-Hos you keep in your desk, but it would probably keep all your coworkers within smell range from enjoying their lunches, too. Like most of the other HP fragrances, it’s light and unobtrusive, and if you want to be able to actually smell yourself, you have to apply generously. It might be better, if you truly want Diet Armor, to carry the roll-on bottle with you and sniff it whenever you have cravings. I would be suspicious of anyone who wanted to smell like this throughout the day.

Eau de Crème. This is, as you might guess without even knowing anything about it other than its name, a gourmand. Gourmands are always iffy for me anyway, and the only true gourmand scents I like are the original Hanae Mori(Cotton candy! Berries! Almond! Vanilla! FUN! Where’s the Tilt-a-Whirl?), Prada Candy (Whee, I’m wearing CARAMEL!) and the extremely-strange, I-don’t-know-why-I-like-it, Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens (Burnt-sugar palmier pastries! I feel like a child, but a sophisticated European one! I need an espresso!).

This one, however, is a bit of a mess. The Harvey Prince PR on Eau de Crème says that it’s based on a scientific study that found “ice cream’s allure resides in its unique combination of taste and texture: the creamy sensations brought about by its tantalizing transformation from icy solid to melt-in-your-mouth bliss.” Notes: citrus, passion fruit, rum raisin, vanilla, patchouli, chocolate.

The tart citrus-like topnotes mixed with the extreme sticky sweetness of fudge and rum raisin creates a bizarre effect that reminds me of being six years old and carsick. It makes me want to tell the story of my late father-in-law, his sick daughter, and the glass of tomato juice. (Don’t worry, I won’t actually tell it.) My least favorite of the bunch, and considering my reaction to Eau de Lite, that should tell you something.

Other scents, not included in my sampler pack, that the website offers:

Submariner (for men): “Aquatic notes of Bermudian island spice and vibrant South Pacific tonka bean inspire vigor and vitality.” Notes: citrus, nutmeg, amber, tonka, blonde woods.

Yogini: “the fragrance that calms the mind, soothes the soul, and frees the spirit.” Notes: sandalwood, golden amber, sensual incense, Egyptian myrrh, pink grapefruit, blackcurrant buds, lily of the valley, star jasmine, rose petals, ylang-ylang, cardamom, madagascar vanilla.

Let’s Tryst Again (unisex): “a smoky unisex fragrance for that special rendezvous.” Notes: pepper, fennel, jasmine, rose, balsamic, amber, sandalwood, tonka.

Nightshift: “created for the night-blooming, fun and flirty female.” Notes: night jasmine, night phlox, moonflower, evening primrose, bergamot, mimosa, honeysuckle, vanilla, musk.

What’s really nice about the Harvey Prince fragrances is that they are offered in small 8.8 ml bottles, for a quite reasonable price: about $21 for the roll-on, $26 for the spray.  The $60 “holiday set,” sent to me from Harvey Prince, contains six small bottles, and seems like a bargain.   Check it out here.

Harvey Prince has kindly offered a giveaway drawing of a 1.7 oz (50ml) bottle of Eau Flirt.  To enter, please follow my blog and “like” Harvey Prince on Facebook.  For extra entries, you may follow Harvey Prince on Twitter, or mention this giveaway in a tweet or blog post.  (Please delineate which extra options you’ll be adding, if any, in your comment.)

The drawing will be open from Tuesday, Dec. 27 through Friday, January 6, at 11:59 pm EST.  Good luck to you!  The draw is now closed.

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Scent Diary, Dec. 19-25, 2011

Church pew decoration, image from http://www.susan03.com

Monday, Dec. 19: Ah, the week of Christmas. So, so much to do… SOTD: DSH Festive, which is really lovely. I have an oil sample; wonder what it would be like as a room spray?

Tuesday, Dec. 20: New TV! Exciting!! CEO drove to pick it up, and it is beyond kewl. SOTMorning: Abdes Salaam Attar Rosewood. Pretty, but I don’t love it. The TV, I do love. When we finally made the decision to move to digital, we went all out: 50” plasma. My brother-in-law K was urging us to go for the 1080 pixel one, because he says that you can really tell the difference with a home theater experience. However, we don’t have a Blu-ray or a home theater kit. We have a DVD player and a VHS tape player, for heaven’s sake! Mostly, we watch TV on our TV, so we went for the 720 pixel instead. We’re quite happy with it. (Particularly since that choice saved us $250.)

SOTEvening: Parfum Sacre. I often forget how nice Parfum Sacre is, and I shouldn’t.

Wednesday, Dec. 21: Weather wet and warm, in the upper 50s. Bookworm and The CEO have the stomach crud that I had last week and the boys had over the weekend, but Bookworm is really sick. I only have wrapping and cooking to do (and a bit of cleaning), so things are okay. SOTD: Prada Candy. It makes me want Hanae Mori, but I do like the Prada.

Thursday, Dec. 22: Warm again, and the rain has dried up. The ailing are at least somewhat better. I am finished wrapping gifts. The house smells good because I have candles out (Pumpkin Spice, Winter, Cranberry Spice) and we’ve done some baking. I smell good, too, in Alahine.

Friday, Dec. 23: Warm. Taz woke me up last night, vomiting. Urgh. SOTD: Alahine again. Went to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas with my brother and sister and their families, whileTaz and The CEO stayed home. It was a lovely day. Saw my nephews Doodlebug (age 7, the redheaded one) and Choppers D (age 2, now speaking in complete sentences).

Saturday, Dec. 24: Warm again. Cleaned the house, put away some Christmas presents, made an eggnog cheesecake. SOTD: Alahine, all day. When it wore off, I put on more. It’s Christmassy. Went to Christmas Eve service at our old church, wanting the candlelight and the classical music and the gentle feeling of it… and the new minister does things differently, so it didn’t feel the same. Awkward. Still lovely, but awkward.

Sunday, Dec. 25: Merry Christmas! Chilly today. The CEO, who usually spends four hours feeding cows on Christmas Day, only had to feed the calves some corn, so he was gone about half an hour. SOTD: Alahine again. We opened stockings; we ate scalloped apples and homemade cinnamon rolls and bacon for breakfast. We opened gifts. In the afternoon, The CEO’s mother and older sister J, and his other sister E and her family, including niece Primrose and nephew Curiosity, joined us for dinner. PETBoy came over to have dessert and watch “Mr. Bean’s Christmas” on the new large TV with us.

SOTBedtime: Parfum Sacre again. I’ve been very staid in terms of scent choice this week, but I’m ready to test some new things soon. January’s coming, and it always seems that I’m drawn to big white florals in cold weather. Look out for the Tuberose Series reviews to be renewed!

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Image from Amazon.com

O Tannenbaum!   As Christmas approaches, Muse in Wooden Shoes wishes you and yours a happy holiday season.

This post is part of a joint blogging project concerning wood-focused fragrances, in honor of the approaching holiday. Bloggers were to review or discuss three perfumes highlighting woody notes. I’m not a woody kind of gal – regular readers know that I love green fragrances and florals of all stripes, from white floral to floral oriental and floral chypre – so I looked on the project as an opportunity to educate myself with a few woody fragrances.

Woody scents can vary from dry to sweet, from austere to lush, and I took a scattershot approach, picking one well-known agarwood-sandalwood scent, one highlighting oak, one focused on pine and spruce notes, and a backup scent composed of rosewood.

10 Corso Como

This fragrance is from the house of Italian designer Carla Sozzani, and was composed more than a decade ago by nose Olivier Gillotin. It’s pretty famous for being a sandalwood-rich scent, but I hear it’s been reformulated due to the drastic shortage of real sandalwood.

This one opens up with the unmistakeably plastic-bandage accord of agarwood (oud), which I admit to liking a lot. Due to time-and-space limitations – and in all honesty, limitations on my knowledge of the subject – I’m not going to get into a discussion of how there are many different grades of oud, including at least one synthetic one in wide usage, and big variations in smell. This one is nice, and that’s all I’m going to say about it. For use as a yardstick, my take on the Montale ouds is that I tend to like the rose-oud combos and could even wish for a bit more oud in them, as they usually go “10 minutes of Band-aid, half an hour of something indefinably gorgeous, and then three hours of insistent rose.” (Except for Montale White Aoud, which starts out with the Band-aid and the indefinably gorgeous and then goes into “two hours of insistent rose-vanilla, followed by several nerve-wracking hours of the dreaded Youth Dew accord.” Because of the Youth Dew bit, I don’t love White Aoud, but I like everything up until then.)

After five to ten minutes of that beautifully medicinal oudy thing, 10 Corso Como settles into a sweet, rich sandalwood. And there it stays for four hours, eventually shedding a little of its sweetness and becoming drier, but staying warm and friendly and approachable. I don’t smell much else other than oud, sandalwood, and vetiver, although I think there might be a bit of rose in there somewhere. It’s not identifiably floral.

How you feel about it depends very much on how you feel about sandalwood. I like it myself, but my favorite sandalwood fragrances remain Tableau de Parfums Miriam, SSS Champagne de Bois, and vintage Arpege parfum, with the current version of Bois des Iles running just behind. All of those have both aldehydes and prominent floral notes, and it’s not difficult to see where my preferences tend to lie. 10 Corso Como is very comfortable and attractive, and I enjoy it very much. It’s easily wearable by either gender.

My sample is a boxed manufacturer’s sample purchased from The Perfumed Court, and I don’t know how old it is. However, it is a manufacturer’s sample, which leads me to believe that it might be an older one. I’m not sure that 10 Corso Como still smells like this, which is a shame because it’s lovely. On the other hand, it’s on the sweet side and I would have liked it to be a little drier, a little bit more oud-y. I have heard the reformulation is still very nice.

Notes, from Now Smell This: Rose, geranium, vetiver, musk, sandalwood, and Malay oud-wood oil. Other notes lists I’ve seen include frankincense.

Napa Valley Cielo

Cielo,” in Spanish, can mean “sky,” or “heaven,” and I’m not sure which is meant by the title of this fragrance, from a company located in the Napa Valley in California, which is famous for its wines and its lovely landscape. This scent, according to The Perfumed Court, has an oak wood note and is described as being “lovely and distinctive, evocative of Napa Valley vineyards.” I enjoy Serge Lutens’ oaky Chene and the beautiful oakwood opening of Sonoma Scent Studio’s To Dream, so I picked Cielo as a fragrance to highlight for this project for its oak note.

Notes: Sweet daphne, grape leaf, honeysuckle, fig leaf, honey, oak, and sandalwood.

Cielo opens up with a turpentiney-pinewood-celery-varnish accord that smells like anything but perfume. Actually, it doesn’t just “open up” with that, but it stays in that zone on my skin for hooooouuuuurs, not morphing into anything else, and I’m a little puzzled as to why this thing was bottled in the first place. It doesn’t smell like oak, it doesn’t smell like forest or wood or anything other than turpentine. It’s possible that it reacts badly to my skin; however, I didn’t like it on paper, either. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to smell like this at all. For what it’s worth, I do not enjoy scents with fig leaf, and I imagine that’s the issue here.

FAIL. And since this one was such a disaster, I’m going to move on to another scent.

DSH Perfumes Festive

Festive is one of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’ holiday offerings – in years past she’s offered one new creation each holiday season. I’m not sure whether she’s still doing that or not, but past holiday scents have included Ma Folie de Noel, Winter White, Marzipan, Three Kings, and many others. I had intended to review December, with its notes of “aromatic wood” and “pine cone accord,” but when push came to shove I couldn’t find my sample. However, in the scramble through my DSH samples, I found Festive, which I remembered liking, so I pulled it out instead. Glad I did!

Festive was actually the first holiday release, if I’m reading the website correctly, and includes notes of bergamot, bitter orange, spice notes, fir needle, spruce, incense, and sandalwood. My sample is oil format, which of course doesn’t radiate far but sticks around a fairly long time. I never smell the carrier oil in any of Dawn’s oil samples, and the oil absorbs quickly into the skin so I don’t feel greasy.

This scent opens up with a relaxed, smiling citrus-pine accord that could go wrong and smell like cleaning products, but doesn’t. I’m not a big citrus fan, and if you’re looking for that kind of thing you’ll be disappointed; the citrus here is muted and reminds me of dried orange peel rather than big bright lemony bergamot. Instead, you get an invigorating hint of the way your house, decorated for Christmas, might smell right after you’ve brought in a fresh-cut fir tree. Traditionally, people in this area used to cut fresh cedars (which, here, are something like overgrown weeds) and although cedars are prickly, dry out easily and leave plenty of dropped needles behind, for the first week or so they can make a house smell truly wonderful.

Gradually, Festive’s lovely dried orange peel-and-Christmas tree smell gains some well-blended spicy notes before settling into a sandalwood and amber accord, rich without being too sweet. It lasts for about four hours on me when dabbed sparingly, and it’s a very snuggly sort of scent.

I just heard from Dawn yesterday that she’ll be offering home fragrances in some of her scents. Festive would be terrific as a room spray. It’s aromatic in a coniferous-spice way without smacking you over the head like so many so-called “pine” home scents do. It’s nice on skin, too.

Abdes Salaam Attar Rosewood

I like rosewood. It’s a note found in several beloved fragrances, including Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel, Caron Parfum Sacre, (vintage) Coty Emeraude, Diorissimo, Chanel Cristalle, and the first Ines de la Fressange.

Unlike many woody notes, which are most prominent in basenotes, rosewood has a bright, aromatic presence that seems most noticeable in the top notes of a perfume. It contains linalool (the distinctive aroma of lavender) and is related to geraniol; it has a lot of the sunny chipper quality of good rose oil. There are many varieties of rosewood, but Brazilian rosewood is the varietal most commonly used in perfumery.

This scent called Rosewood seems fairly linear; it does start with a highly aromatic, almost piercing character. I am not sure whether it is a composition or straight-up rosewood: I could swear I smell geranium and rose as well as sandalwood and perhaps a little bit of vanilla as the fragrance develops. It lasts about two and a half or three hours, eventually settling into a quiet woody hum before lifting off my skin completely.

I’m a little puzzled about the origin of this particular fragrance. The Perfumed Court lists it as “SCENTS OF AROMATIC RESINS – Rosewood,” but nothing under that name is to be found at profumo.it (the Abdes Salaam Attar website). There is a listing for Scents of Aromatic Resins, but it is a kit for the amateur perfumer and does not include rosewood. It may now be discontinued, or it may be the diluted natural oil of rosewood sold in the Aromatherapy section. The information on the profumo.it website about essence of rosewood says, “Its aroma is calming and antistress; its aroma is harmonizing and stimulant. Therefore it is used in perfumery as an element able to tie ingredients with big differences between them and to smooth the angles of one composition.”  Well, whatever this sample vial I have is, whether single ingredient or composition, it’s interesting and pleasant.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Tannenbaum project, and please check out my blogging partners’ posts here:

All I am….is a redhead
Another Perfume Blog
Beauty, Bacon, Bunnies
Beauty on the Outside
Daly Beauty
EauMG
Eyeliner on a cat
Fragrant Reviews
Olfactoria’s Travels
Parfumieren
Redolent of Spices
Scent of the Day
Suzanne’s Perfume Journal
The Candy Perfume Boy
Undina’s Looking Glass

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Christmas parade (Taz in foreground, in red shirt)

Monday, Dec. 12: Clear and cold again. News flash: you know, Neutrogena Rainbath shower gel in the original formula still smells really good. Why don’t they make a Rainbath EdT? I’d wear it.

This is the last week of school before winter holidays – the boys are joyous. Bookworm is too stressed, with a report due for her science project class, and exams in her other classes, to be joyous now. By Friday, though, I’m sure she will be over the moon with relief. Final community chorus concert this evening.

SOTD: Harvey Prince Ageless on one wrist. Harvey Prince has offered a giveaway (see here), and sent a coffret of six small roll-on bottles of their scents, so I’ll be reviewing them.

Concert went okay. We totally blew it with going flat on one song (my favorite one, of course)… I still don’t know what went wrong, but I think it started in the altos and we just never recovered. The brass players (four kids from the high school band, including PETBoy) did great, though, and I think that particular song went even better than yesterday. I dabbed one wrist with a drop of DSH 1000 Lilies parfum, and no one complained – probably because it didn’t radiate much.

Tuesday, Dec. 13: The Christmas presents I ordered online are starting to roll in now, and I’m almost done with the shopping. SOTD: Etat Libre d’Orange Like This. I loved this sniffed from the vial, all gingery-spicy-pumpkiny goodness. But on my skin, not-so-much. I’m not sure why. Immortelle overdose, maybe. It smells… flat on me, not the lively joyous thing that I smelled in the vial. I’ll try it again.

SOTEvening: Harvey Prince Eau Flirt. This one’s supposed to drive men wild. We shall see. (For the record, I am skeptical.) The CEO said, “I like it! This smells like… the hair salon. I don’t want to say old ladies, but… you know. Like when you go to get your hair cut and they’ve been doing perms.” After the topnotes went away, he said he liked it better, but that now it smelled more like an average department store perfume. Not distinctive. “Nice,” he repeated, “very nice. But not unusual or special.”

We have another orphan calf to bottle-feed. He’s staying in the Guest House (see last week’s Scent Diary for a picture of said Guest House) and getting a quart bottle morning and evening. We’ve named him Samuel, and he’s a cutie.

Wednesday, Dec. 14: Weather is warming up – the high today was 58F. The kids are counting down the days until winter break; at breakfast today, Gaze looked earnestly into my eyes and asked, “Is today Wednesday?” I nodded. “Two more days after today!” he exulted. Taz is looking forward to Friday, when his class will bring snacks to share and watch “The Polar Express” on video. And Bookworm has a rough academic week: big paper due for her science project on Monday, Chemistry exam Tuesday, Statistics and American History exams today, Advanced Math and English exams tomorrow and also the band winter concert tomorrow night. She’s pulling for Friday for all she’s worth!

The CEO is home grading papers; he says it’s difficult to transition from teaching college classes to farming and back. Also, we have a heifer who jumped a fence and broke her leg the other day, so I’m going to have to clear some space in the freezer. The CEO is chagrined because we’ve lost several animals to injury or disease this year: a bull to peritonitis, a cow to a broken pelvis following calving (this is unusual – usually calving problems lead to calf death, not injuries to the cow), two cows to unexplained disease (not communicable, apparently), months apart, and this heifer to a broken leg. None of these were preventable, except possibly the peritonitis; it’s common for owners of really valuable purebred cattle to feed them each a small magnet, so that if the animals accidentally ingest something sharp, like a nail or a piece of barbed wire, the metal will stick to the magnets in their stomachs instead of trying to navigate the intestines and poking holes there, leading to peritonitis. The magnets aren’t guaranteed to work, of course.

SOTD: Harvey Prince Coupling. The company claims that its notes are “proven to arouse.” Uh-huh. Again, we’ll see. Review of all of these Harvey Prince scents coming. SOBedtime: Shalimar Light.

Thursday, Dec. 15: Warm again today. SOTD: Bottega Veneta, still for review. Drove Jeff the Hired Guy to the John Deere dealership to pick up a tractor, and then went to see if I could finish the Christmas shopping. I didn’t quite get finished, but I’m close. I bought a few scented gifts at Belk, and while I was there I spritzed some Esprit d’Oscar, which is every bit as nice as I remembered it. I had commented on a couple of blogs that a Prada Candy mini might be my next purchase, but honestly – I think I’d enjoy the Esprit d’Oscar much better, on the whole. Mowed the grass for the last time this year.

Went to Bookworm’s band Christmas concert and thoroughly enjoyed it! PETBoy had a couple of solos and did a beautiful job with them (no surprise there), and the band sounded terrific. SOTEvening: Iris Poudre, so elegant.

Friday, Dec. 16: Rainy day. Busy, too: Gaze’s class is doing what’s called a “Pet Project,” and students were invited to have their parents bring their (well-behaved) pets to school for a brief time today. Hayley, after a bath and a brushout, went on leash and behaved very well. Also, The CEO got “sworn at,” as he jokes; he took an oath of service to the School Board today. I’m fighting off a flulike sort of bug and really feel horrible, so I did as little as possible today. SOTEvening: Serge Lutens 5:00 au Gingembre, quite nice.

Bought just a few things online today and the shopping is DONE. DoneDoneDoneDone!

Saturday, Dec. 17 Bookworm got new personal records in both her track events today, running 3:24 in her 1000 m race and 12:26 in the 3200.  I’m so proud!  The CEO got his Christmas present early – he’s been wanting a fancy new camera for at least a couple of years now, so he tracked down the one he wanted and found it on sale. So we bought it. We also bought a new 50” plasma TV (yay, we’ve gone digital!), but the one we wanted wasn’t in stock, so we’ll pick it up next week. 

CEO put the tree up today and added lights, but no decorations yet, mostly because I’m still recovering and not feeling up to it. SOTD: 10 Corso Como, for a joint blogging project to be posted Dec. 21. As it faded, I topped it off with some Tableau de Parfums Miriam.

Sunday, Dec. 18: Got up luxuriously late (8:30 am!) and made chocolate-chip-pecan pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then we decorated the tree, I put a roast in the oven, and we went to church in the late afternoon. SOTD: Alahine, beautiful Christmassy thing.

The kids will be home all this coming week. Feel free to pray for me if you’d like. Eep.

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Posting delay

Sorry – I’ve had a tummy bug (recovered now), and it’s been madly Christmas here for the last several days.  Scent Diary and some reviews will be up this week, including a joint blogging project entitled “O Tannenbaum” on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

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