Archive for the ‘Drawing’ Category


Uhh... I HOPE not. (Image from despair.com.)

I will probably be moving to a new hosting platform soon, with an accompanying change of domain name. I have been concerned for some time about the wisdom of having my brain-property on a site not owned by me. The free blog hosting sites like WordPress.com and Blogger actually own the content of all the blogs they host, so if for some reason I get on somebody’s bad side at WordPress.com and they decide to yank my platform, then I will not be able to own, control, and/or access my own blog. Copyright issues may be at stake here, too (though I’m not positive about that).

I am looking into monetizing my blog by adding something like AdSense. Since I’m not working at the moment, I could use a little income boost. The content on this blog will continue to be mine, not directed by any other agency whatsoever, and I’ll continue to love or like or have mixed feelings about whatever it is that I want to write about. I haven’t sold out. I do notice that several of the major blogs, like Perfume Posse and Now Smell This, have sponsors and allow ad placement, and although I am far, far smaller than those blogs, nobody’s thinking that Robin and Patty and their teams of respected reviewers are anything less than objective about what they choose to review and how they review it. I hope I’ve got that kind of credibility, even if I don’t (yet) have that kind of readership.

Look, I blog because I want to. I just feel that when I’m spending time researching and writing for my blog because I want to do that, it’s not wrong of me to want to pick up a little bit of spare change for doing what I would have done anyway. That may help to support the family while I am working on the novel. We go through a whopping four gallons of milk every week; you can think of the ads as sponsoring my family’s calcium intake, if you like.

These changes will probably occur gradually over the month of January. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be changing the theme; I like the one I picked two years ago and I’m inclined to stick with it. But who knows? I may find another theme that suits me better.

I’ll also be getting back to more regular posting and more frequent reviews. In some cases, this may be collections of mini-reviews. Look for a return to the Tuberose Series, as well. I’ll also include recipes and literature reviews from time to time.

And now, the announcement of the winner of the Harvey Prince full bottle giveaway drawing: RusticDove. Please email me with your mailing details and I’ll forward them to the Harvey Prince people to send you the bottle of Eau Flirt.

I will be asking for feedback as the changes occur, and I hope readers will stick with me. Thanks so much for reading this far!

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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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LINDALOO!  Come on doooooowwwn!  

Update: Linda is in Canada, and to boot she won another sample elsewhere.  My bad, totally my bad… can you tell my brain is half gone?  Anyway, she’s urged me to redraw, so I will.  The new winner is RusticDove.  Congratulations!

Please email me your mailing details at my gmail address, and I’ll get this out to you.  Can’t promise it will be before the end of November… but I’ll try.  🙂

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Winner of Pandora drawing!

(So sorry I forgot to post this Wednesday.)

The winner of the Pandora sample is hemlocksillage!  Please contact me via the gmail address listed on the “about me” page, and give me your mailing details.  I promise to mail it out to you as soon as possible, and I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Thanks to everyone who commented, and to Dawn Spencer Hurwitz and Jen at This Blog Really Stinks for providing the sample.

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Photo from DSH Notebook

Oh, dear. I feel bad about this review… but I’m determined to be truthful. This one’s getting a lot of love from vintage-perfume fans as well as natural-perfume fans all over the perfume blogosphere: Jen at This Blog Really Stinks (who hosted the draw for the large sample I tested – thanks, Jen!), Scent Less Sensibilities, Eyeliner on a CatIndieperfumes, The Non-Blonde, EauMG, Scent Hive, Oh, True Apothecary, Scentual Soundtracks, Perfume Pharmer, Escentual Alchemy.   I love many vintage perfumes too. I like chypres, particularly if they have floral components. I am an AldeHo – if it’s got aldehydes, I’m probably going to like it.   (If I’ve missed some other reviews, please let me know.)

See, the thing is… this is the fragrance that started out as an experiment in naturals, a “modern fragrance in vintage style,” if I’ve got the story right (somebody jump in to correct me if I don’t).

I’m not typically a big fan of “all-natural.” For one thing, I think it’s silly to claim that only synthetic materials can be harmful to the body or the environment. (Oooooh, don’t get me started. The smug attitude makes me grit my teeth in rage.) From a practical standpoint, I’ve been mostly disappointed with the skin longevity of all-natural perfumes, with a couple of notable exceptions (Dawn’s own Rose Vert, and Honore des Pres Vamp a NY). I’m not one of those people who complain all over Makeup Alley that “this doesn’t last, it only stayed six hours and I had to reapply in the middle of the day,” but if I’m not getting three hours’ worth of wear at least, I’m just not interested in spending the money to buy it. I know, too, that all-naturals have different qualities – they tend to sit closer to skin, they tend to “bloom” in unexpected ways rather than lifting slowly off the skin the way fragrances underscored with synthetic materials tend to do – but they’re not qualities that make me excited. I’m always happy to give an all-natural fragrance the good old college try, and I’m willing to make a few allowances, but I’m not predisposed to prefer all-naturals.

I’ll remind you at this point that aldehydes are synthetic. And that I like them.

At some point, Dawn seems to have decided to go ahead and add a few synthetic materials that she felt made Pandora “come alive” – the aldehydes, and a small amount of ozone (unnoticeable to me, by the way). Here’s what she has to say on her blog about the project:

The “Beautiful Evil” is a quote from the story of Pandora as told by the Greek, Hesiod. She is the all gifted, all giving one, a singular woman and synonymous with Eve in many respects. It is she who opens humankind to the knowledge of good and evil and ultimately breaks the utopian ideal. With Pandora, mankind has plagues but also knowledge and maturity. She opens the door to truth and hope.

What began as an all-botanical design for a project changed direction with the addition of a subtle synthetic influence. It made all of the difference. This is also a perfume that also utilizes some new and exotic botanical materials…in Pandora, the ancient meets the 21 century.

The notes feature ruby fruits, bergamot, aldehyde, spices, ozone, violet leaf, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper, rose de mai, juhi jasmine, linden blossom, yerba maté, cabreuva wood, orris, green tea, mousse de saxe accord, cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris, patchouli, vetiver, muhuhu, sandalwood, tonka bean, oakmoss and vanilla.

(Yes, she said oakmoss. Please start breathing again.)

On my skin, Pandora has very good longevity; one spritz will last about four to five hours. There’s no indication on my small sample what concentration I have; the fragrance is available as 15ml parfum ($220, shown above), or as 4ml/10ml eau de parfum ($25/$60).  

The first thing I smell is a cheerfully intense herbal-tea note (if you were worried about the red berries, fear not) under a bright haze of aldehydes. There’s an immediate suggestion that you might accidentally have gotten hold of some vintage Miss Dior, what with the moss and the dry iris in there, and there’s a very old-fashioned air to this stage of the scent. It’s an incredibly layered scent; it contains a lot of notes I can’t identify other than to call them “woody” and “herbal.” Earthy, foresty, and vintage – it’s very pleasant.

A little while later, Pandora segues into a warmer, woody-chypre sort of fragrance with a hint of spice here and there, and I begin to like it a lot less. It’s still layered and complex, but this is not the kind of thing that pleases me. It reminds me somewhat of vintage Magie Noire, but drier and less green, without Magie Noire’s opulent floral heart. There are florals in Pandora – I smell jasmine, definitely, and a bit of rose – but they are not the focus. Instead the focus is on the woody notes and moss.

Eventually the oriental/mousse de saxe base begins to float up through the woody notes, and this is where I have to start gritting my teeth. It’s strikingly reminiscent of several scents that I really dislike: Opium, Youth Dew, Caron Nuit de Noel. Whatever accord it is that those scents have in common, it’s popping up in Pandora, both cloyingly sweet and oily-dusty. It makes the back of my throat ache and I find it unpleasant. But that’s me, my personal taste, and if you like the perfumes I just mentioned you won’t be bothered by it at all.

Pandora is an exceedingly intelligent-smelling perfume, a swirling pastiche of woods and herbs and amber, lightened with a few glints of aldehydes and fruit, a cornucopia of fragrance materials. It is, truly, a vintage-inspired modern fragrance, and if this sort of thing seems up your alley, I suggest that you go get a sample from the DSH website, post-haste! Buy a bottle! Now! Support independent perfumery! (The parfum bottle, by the way, is Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. So elegant – and I do love the beautiful mossy green color of the liquid inside.)

Thing is, Pandora is beautiful… and I do not like it.  This fragrance is not my style, but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing its obvious excellence. A large part of it is natural, and there is something wonderful and solid and complex about natural ingredients. Too, it’s put together in such a way as to create a seamless, smooth, and yet distinctive and bold perfume. Kudos to DSH Perfumes.

My great thanks to Dawn for making the sample available and to Jen at This Blog Really Stinks for hosting the drawing. It is a joy to know that somebody is still making perfume with brains!

Pandora sample on my dresser, next to a tube of Revlon Certainly Red and my favorite garnet-and-pearl drop earrings.

I am happy to be able to pass on this sample to a commenter on this post. It’s a spray sample, approximately 3ml with about 2ml (possibly more) remaining, plenty of perfume left for testing and enjoying! Since it’s a small sample, I’m opening up the draw to commenters outside the US.

To enter the drawing, please let me know if you like any of the other fragrances I mentioned in comparison to Pandora in the review: Miss Dior, Magie Noire, Opium, Youth Dew, Nuit de Noel. Which is your favorite? Do you have any special memories associated with these, either worn by you or a loved one?

Draw will be open until Friday night, October 28, at midnight Eastern Standard Time.  DRAW IS NOW CLOSED.

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At long last, here are the reviews from the sample drawing we did about a month ago.  I had picked names out of my grandmother’s pink Depression glass bowl for samples of these fragrances that I (mostly) did not get on with, exceptions L’Origan and L’Heure Bleue, but that I felt were good fragrances that someone might like to get acquainted with.  Winners were to test the samples and then let us know what they thought, at least three sentences’ worth.  Thanks, everybody, for being such good sports and writing such interesting reviews!

Tulip won the sample of Philosykos.   She shared her thoughts with me in an email: 

 As far as the review goes- I’ve been writing it in my heads for days and trying to come up with something new to add. It reminds me of a grocery bag full of veggies and fruits plus cedar. And, I do get the fig scent, but I just don’t get why it has such a ‘cult’ status.  L’Artisan released their Figuier two years earlier, which was also by O.G. [Olivia Giacobetti]. I guess it was the newness of the fig note that excited the US audience (NST’s Robin raved in 2005, although Philosykos was released in 1996 (at least in France). I also think it is a functional scent – good for hotels,etc.; plus the candles are much more stylish than Yankee candles. Mals, I am so indifferent to figs! But the sycomore fig (ficus?) trees can be huge and are historically important for feeding Eyptian, etc peoples for years (the figs, that is). I can’t find any info about figs used in early perfumes or incense, so maybe OG was the first to incorporate it in a nonfood product. At about the same time as Philosykos was released the first ‘unisex’ perfumes were marketed (some at Basenotes say a Calvin Klein, cKOne). To me, Philosykos seems more like a sexless fragrance. As you can tell, I don’t especially like it for myself. I’m glad to have the chance to try it, and apologize for really not being able to review it approprately.   PS  I will turn in my perfumista card.

Well, I didn’t like Philosykos, either, Tulip.  I don’t think you have to like it.  In fact, I don’t care at all for fig fragrances, due to the fig leaf note, which seems both milky and bitter to me.  (I like marigold, galbanum, and myrrh, all of which could charitably be described as “bitter,” but fig leaf is a big N.O. for my taste.)  And I think it’s interesting that you’ve described Philosykos as “a sexless fragrance,” which could mean “unisex,” like the  Calvin Klein scent you mentioned – or it could mean that it’s not a personal smell at all, but rather a room ambience sort of smell.

Barbara won the sample of Bas de Soie.  Here’s her review, and I also encourage you to go check out her blog, Yesterday’s Perfume, which focuses on gems of the past. 

Bas de Soie (“Silk Stockings”) is a stone cold fox of a perfume. Where most Serge Lutens fragrances take you to worlds where everything seems a little sweatier, spicier, smellier, funkier and more alive, Bas de Soie will take you to a cold and lunar world that seems to exist in deep freeze: bloodless, pale, and filmed in silver nitrate stock. From the color of the perfume (a pale hyacinth), its iris note’s metallic coolness, to the bracing, peppery greenness of the opening, and even the clean smooth finish of its dry down, Bas de Soie is a bit forbidding in its loveliness.
The first time I smelled it, though, my brain immediately said, “Secretions Magnifique,” Etats Libre d’Orange’s punk perfume with its crazy accords (iodine, adrenaline) that succeeded in evoking spunk (yeah, that kind), sweat, tears, and blood.
Although Bas de Soie starts off with a wonderfully bracing peppery and green note, there is something fetid and funky going on underneath (hence the reference to Secretions Magnifique). Others have noticed it, too, and although they have different ways to describe this off-note (fishy, stale cigarette), it definitely creates a dissonance with the perfume’s predominant cleanliness/soapiness, and ties this perfume, as different as it is from Lutens’ other perfumes, to his aesthetic of funk.

 Bas de Soie then progresses to a milky-fresh floral heart, but it’s a disturbing fresh, like the smell of an aloe vera-like plant whose engorged leaf you snap open to illicitly smell its vegetal…well, magnificent secretions. Peppery green, milk-fresh floral, powder, and then something I cannot put my finger (my foot?) on.
In Bas de Soie, Lutens once again deploys iris in a perfume. But instead of the carroty-dirt rootiness of Iris Silver Mist, we get an iris that, while retaining its characteristic iciness and hauteur, Lutens has added a bit of a back-story to, a narrative, or at least a tableau. For me that tableau involves a woman from the 1930s coming home from a night on the town. In the way that Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose quoted the smell of vintage lipstick, Bas de Soie does one better and quotes the smell of fingernail polish/and or remover, hairspray, lipstick, vintage perfume, powder… and the way your feet smell after you remove stockings, no matter how well you’ve showered or perfumed yourself.
Of Bas de Soie, Lutens has said, “the beam balance never settles between iris and hyacinth in the main accord, which is what makes the composition interesting.” For me, although two cold notes are indeed battling it out in the empyrean air of Bas de Soie, there’s that unmistakable foot odor that keeps the perfume grounded in a some kind of embodied, living world. How could a perfume called “Silk Stockings” by Lutens not reference foot odor, somehow? It’s very faint, though, lest anyone get scared off now…

Rabbit Moon

When I was wearing Bas de Soie and trying to figure it out, I had a few rotating images that kept popping into my head, some having to do with the perfume’s “color,” and others actual pictures. The high register that it stays in reminds me of a gorgeous and rare silver nitrate print of Kenneth Anger’s Rabbit Moon I had the privilege of seeing at the SF Moma screening room: Icy, blue and poignant. Also, Picasso’s Blue Period. (There’s that sad blue again.) And I thought of those Edward Hopper paintings with lone women staring out the window, or getting undressed alone in hotel rooms. Even Blue Velvet, with Isabella Rossellini’s retro look as she’s singing…
If you can’t tell, I really loved Bas de Soie. Another Serge Lutens — this time delicate, lyrical, and feminine — that made my brain work overtime to figure it out.

Barbara included a few other images that I didn’t have room to add here, but if you’re interested, you could certainly Google for Picasso Blue Period or Edward Hopper to see them.  Thanks, Barbara!

Undina won the sample of Antonia.  Here’s her brief, but heartfelt, review, and you can see more of her perfumed thoughts at her blog, Undina’s Looking Glass:

When I smelled Puredistance Antonia on my wrist for the first time the adjective that flashed in my mind was “bewitching”. The scent was so unusual, so unexpected… It doesn’t remind me of any other scent I wore up till now. Now I got used to it, I anticipate our next encounter so I’m not shocked but still a little amazed. Every time.

It is very potent: several touches of the vial’s applicator give enough sillage and a staying power is just amazing. Not sure I could stand it sprayed: it might be too much. But from a dab vial it is just enough. A couple of times I felt almost tired of it but it never crossed this line. What is interesting about Antonia, on my skin for the first two hours it smells exactly the same, without changing or developing: sharp green scent with a hint of … rubber? Then it mellows down a little, becomes creamier and sweeter – and stays like that for hours. I tried Antonia four times on my wrist and once even wore it (meaning, I applied it as I would any other perfume if I was using it, not just testing). I couldn’t stop sniffing my wrist on all five occasions. I enjoy wearing this perfume and I will be wearing it again. A full bottle worth? I don’t know yet. It might be.

TaffyJ won the sample of Jitterbug.  This reviewer actually jitterbugs!  (Cool how that draw worked out, isn’t it?) Enjoy this review:

Jitterbug is my introduction to the DSH Perfumes line, and I am digging this gorgeous little number. Jitterbug is a lovely homage to those smart, sexy gals of the 1940’s. It certainly has a vintage sensibility about it.  After two applications, by the end of the day I was dying for a cigarette…and I don’t even smoke!
The opening is saucy and confident, but as the perfume dries down, its liveliness is tempered by a deeper, dramatic beat.  Jitterbug begins with a Two-step and ends with a Pasodoble.
According to the DSH website, Jitterbug’s notes are:
 Top notes: Bergamot, Blackberry, Lemon, Pimento Berry
Middle notes: Benzoin, Bulgarian Rose Absolute, Clove Bud, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute
Base notes: Amber, Frankincense (Olibanum), Labdanum, Musk, Patchouli
Also, after two hours, there was the smallest whiff of a certain kind of refreshment, as if our girl had downed a Dubonnet cocktail before heading to the USO dance.
I think I would call this perfume “modern vintage” (just like myself).  All in all, this is a stylish perfume with a lot of flair.  

Helenviolette won the sample of Xerjoff Elle.  Here’s the review, and may I say that it’s a splendid one for being the first one our reviewer has written?

Younger Ladies Who Lunch- Xerjoff Elle Review

However a sample comes my way-it is always uplifting to get home after slogging around at work and find a bubble-wrap mailer addressed to me.  It never fails. Sometimes I tear in and get right to it- other times I wait a few hours and enjoy an after dinner sniff. 

There are many ways that these samples make their way into my humble mailbox.  Some are bought, swapped, or perhaps gifted by one of our generous ladies and fellas.  Or WON- as was the case of Xerjoff Elle. As a contingency to winning this sample- thanks to the generous Mals- I agreed to write my very first perfume review. 

I wish I could sniff with a clear and neutral nose- but I am guilty of bringing high and low expectations along for the ride.  I am sure it is no coincidence that so many of my perfume loves were sniffed without the baggage of expectations.  When I expect to like/love something- it often doesn’t work for me and vice/versa.  In the case of Xerjoff Elle- I have to admit my expectations were pretty high based on the fact that 100ml of this stuff costs 4 cents less than two payments on my Mazda Tribute.

That said- Elle starts off with a burst of berries and flowers.  I think of some perfumes as “bursty” in the beginning and Elle is definitely bursty.* The berries are sweet- very sweet, no tart berries here.  I can pick out Rose in the flower bunch but the rest run together.  These are sweet blooming roses and flowers- no greens, no dirt, no thorns.  Up front I also get amber-y patchouli and some soft woods.  While we are in sweet territory with this flower-berry patchouli elixir, Elle still manages to keep firmly in floral territory.  I don’t find Elle to be at all foody or gourmand.

As Elle wears the burstyness fades along with the berries.  The sweetness fades as well and I am left with a soft ambery wooded floral.  It is very pretty- and the materials are surely high quality.  Elle smells expensive.  Longevity is decent but not fantastic, wearing like an eau de parfum  with low to medium sillage when dabbed (I am guessing the sillage might be heftier when sprayed).  Luckyscent lists the following as Elle’s notes:  hesperidic and fruity accord, galbanum, orange blossom, iris, leather accord, patchouli, amber, musk, Tonkiphora balm. 

I called this post “younger ladies who lunch” because I picture Elle on a young girl who has not long been licensed to drive her BMW/Mercedes/insert luxury car here.  You have seen her with her group of equally young and lovely friends heading in to an upscale cafe to eat whatever they want after a few hours of buying whatever they want.  They all have oversized sunglasses and handbags that we would forego to buy a few more vats of Chanel Les Exclusifs.  These young ones are all wearing variations of the same outfit with long messy hair and just haven’t reached a point of self-esteem or self realization to jump out of their comfort zone and trade their lipgloss for a shock of red lips or lop those locks into a short edgy do or a blunt pageboy.  And yet, aren’t they lovely for it?  I think so.

Some of these girls will change and grow.  Maybe in college and beyond- they will open themselves up and their ideas will expand upon themselves- they will outgrow Xerjoff Elle.  Others will continue to be Elle material for a long time to come. 

As for me, I never had the luxury of being one of those girls.  Xerjoff Elle is bursty and lively and as pretty as a perfume can be.  Thankfully, it is not for me, and I don’t have to look forward to next March- when my car will have been paid off for two months and I will have saved enough for a bottle of Xerjoff.

 Please comment if you have tried this perfume or any of the others.  I am very keen to try Iriss one of these days.

 *( I also think of SIP Prima Ballerina as “bursty” if this comparison helps at all).

Sam won the samples of L’Origan and L’Heure BleueI did a Fragrance Throwdown for this combo in March and thought it would be interesting to hear someone else’s opinion on the matter – particularly someone who already loved L’Heure Bleue, which I don’t – so here it is:

The list of notes hinted I’d never love L’Heure Bleue. Reviewers dubbed it an oriental, which my memory harkened back to 1980s powersuits reeking of Obsession. Then my sample came and I lived the teary cliché of many before me who doubted the appropriateness of that ‘blue hour’ moniker.

So when our clog-clad hostess dared suggest Coty’s L’Origan bested the mysterious marzipan mélange of divinity that is L’Heure Bleue, I accepted her offer to try them side-by-side and determine for myself. Then my samples came and I lived anew the peculiar burden that is being right all the time. 😉

L’Origan is gorgeous, oh yes. For the comparative price and keen similarity to L’Heure Bleue it deserves a place in a discerning perfumista’s wardrobe. They share a milky, powdery sweetness, but where L’Origan goes wrong for me is in the overly licorice-like effect of the spices. Maybe it’s the nutmeg, but the word that comes to mind is “pungent,” and that’s not an adjective I prefer for my perfumes.

(I knew I was going out on a limb there, preferring L’Origan.  Oh well – that’s why we try stuff, isn’t it?  and that’s why there are a gazillion different fragrances on the market, because each of us interprets fragrances differently.  Glad to see the honor of the classic Guerlain upheld, even if I chose the other scent.  Oh, and by the way – that was vintage L’Origan parfum, not the muck Coty is currently selling under the name L’Origan, so please don’t go pick up a bottle at TJ Maxx and expect to get the experience I got…  The current version of L’Heure Bleue parfum, so I hear, is not quite a deep as the vintage but hasn’t had the life wrung out of it.  L’HB is probably the way to go, unless you want to hover obsessively over your eBay searches.)

Thanks to everyone who participated!  I appreciate very much that you spent some time sharing your thoughts, and I enjoyed reading them all.

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Giveaway winners reminder

I still need to hear from Barbara, helenviolette, and Samm.  Please send your mailing details to me at malsnano86 at gmail dot com.  Thanks!

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Giveaway drawing winners!

Samples up for grabs:

  1. puredistance Antonia
  2. Xerjoff Elle
  3. DSH Jitterbug
  4. SL Bas de Soie
  5. Diptyque Philosykos
  6. vintage Coty L’Origan & Guerlain L’Heure Bleue

Those eligible for the draw, in order of entry:

  1. Dionne
  2. Elisa
  3. Taffynfontana
  4. Samm
  5. Monica
  6. Isa
  7. helenviolette
  8. Undina
  9. Tulip
  10. TaffyJ
  11. Elise
  12. Barbara

Taz helped me pull names out of my grandmother’s pink Depression glass bowl*.  The idea was that the first person chosen would receive their first choice of sample.

Winner #1:  Tulip, who has won the sample of Philosykos.

Winner #2: Barbara, who has won the sample of Bas de Soie.

Winner #3: Undina, who has won the sample of Antonia.

Winner #4: TaffyJ, who has won the sample of Jitterbug.

Winner #5: Helenviolette, who has won the sample of Xerjoff Elle.

Winner #6: Samm, who has won the samples of L’Origan and L’Heure Bleue.

Those of you whose names came out of the bowl, please contact me by email (malsnano86 at gmail dot com) and send me your (real) names and shipping addresses!  I will get these out in the mail by next Monday afternoon.

*Pattern: Hocking Manhattan (also produced in green and crystal), in the berry bowl size.  My grandmother — this was Bambaw, the grandmother that lived with  my parents from the time I was 6 months old until she died, at age almost-92 — collected all kinds of Depression glass, in various pink and green patterns.  My sister got the green dishes and I got the pink ones.  There are at least five different patterns that I can identify (Anchor Cameo,  Hocking Mayfair, Hocking Manhattan, Hocking Old Colony Lace, and Indiana Glass Windsor).  I’m thinking of keeping only some of them.  There’s a good collection of Mayfair luncheon plates, bowls, candy dishes, and cups, and the Manhattan pieces are so pretty; the rest I don’t love but someone else might.

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To celebrate my return to more-frequent, regular blogging, I’d like to give away a few samples.  They’re all relatively high-end (unlike the stuff in the photo there!), some direct from the perfume house, and they may or may not have been tested by me.

Still interested?  Then here are the qualifications:  You must be willing to write a short review (at least three good sentences) of whichever fragrance sample you receive.  I will certainly accept a longer review, of course, but I’d like to offer the opportunity not only to test these scents, but to share what you think about them.

THE DRAWING IS NOW CLOSED.   Thanks to everyone who commented!

Here’s a list of what is up for grabs:

puredistance Antonia (green floral)

Xerjoff Elle (floral oriental)

DSH Perfumes Jitterbug (vintage-style spicy oriental)

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie (green floral)

Diptyque Philosykos (reference fig)

A two-fer of modern Guerlain L’Heure Bleue parfum and vintage Coty L’Origan (see Fragrance Throwdown)

If you’d like to try something new and then share what you think about it, throw your name in the hat.  You can also state which fragrance you’d be most interested in trying, and I’ll attempt to match names and interests, but I can’t guarantee you’d get the one you want! 

I’ll take entries for the drawing through Friday, April 8.  Winners will be drawn randomly and announced on Monday, April 11.     Questions?  ask away. 

Image is Fragrance sample lot from **scents-of-glamour** on eBay, only because it takes me awhile to make my own darn photos…

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Smell Bent Winners!

Winner of the Smell Bent Holiday 2010 edt spray sampler: Tiara.

Winner of the other Smell Bent samples: Karin.

Congratulations – please email me with your mailing details, and I’ll get these out in the coming week.

Wish I’d had enough to give everyone a little taste of Smell Bent!  Thanks to everyone who commented, and better lucky next time.

Image is Winner at the Delta County Fair, Colorado, by photographer Russell Lee, Oct. 1940, courtesy of the Library of Congress via Flickr.

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