Archive for the ‘Tauer Perfumes’ Category

I’ve been looking forward to this one for months now. I’ve been a fan of Brian Pera’s writings on I Smell Therefore I Am for a couple of years now. I’m a fan of Tauer Perfumes, too. As I’ve said before, the scents either don’t work at all for me, or they work beautifully and make me feel a little like I’m flying. Even the Tauers I don’t enjoy are well-made and solid and have distinctive personalities of their own. Furthermore, I am a big fan of aldehydic florals, so when I heard that Brian’s A Woman’s Picture project (see Evelyn Avenue website) would include a collaboration with Andy Tauer, and that one of the associated fragrances would be an aldehydic floral, I was thrilled.

Thanks to a very generous giveaway instigated by Andy Tauer and A Woman’s Picture, and hosted by Now Smell This, I won a full bottle of Miriam.  Miriam is now available at Lucky Scent, at $160 for 50ml plus a copy of the Miriam segment of the film and some other goodies.  I’ll just say now, I have rarely been so pleased to receive a box of perfume in the mail! Just look at this gorgeous packaging, will you?

Look at all these goodies! Complete with handwritten note from Andy Tauer, too.

I admit to enjoying a nice bottle, but I have never bought a bottle simply because it’s pretty. (Hey, if that’s what you like, more power to you. I’m not judging.) But I squealed like an excited little girl, opening Miriam last week. The pretty box holds an insert with a lovely jacquard-like pattern, die-cut to fit the Miriam bottle, as well as a DVD of a portion of the film and a notepad  the Miriam booklet (duh, I hadn’t gotten the chance to open it yet). There are silver strings and a frosted glass cap, and pretty pink stickers, and a simulacrum of an old-fashioned cut-paper silhouette, and the whole thing is so intricate and adorable that it could have been any Christmas present hand-wrapped personally for me by my artist sister, for whom such things are Serious Business.  Also, the liquid is a very soft yellow-green, one of my favorite colors.

I have not yet viewed the entire DVD. I have seen clips from the Miram segment, and also from some of the other segments that make up the ongoing A Woman’s Picture project, and they have all been moving, thoughtful pieces. Briefly, though, the Miriam segment focuses on Miriam Masterson, a middle-aged woman whose career is in jeopardy, whose relationship with her layabout boyfriend is deteriorating, and whose mother, with whom she has a complicated and painful relationship, is in a nursing home as her mind and health fails. All of Miriam’s anchors have been lost, and a storm is approaching.

What drew me to the fragrance, in particular, was the notes. Regular readers know that I lurve me some aldehydes, and when someone as talented as Andy Tauer does a vintage-inspired aldehydic floral – well, I wanna smell it. The official notes list for Miriam includes aldehydes, bergamot, sweet orange, violet blossom, rose, jasmine, ylang-ylang, violet leaf, vanilla, orris root, sandalwood and Ambrox.  From the Evelyn Avenue website, here is the inspiration for Miriam:

The dream of a hug, the vivid bitter sweet memory of her perfume,
her hair shining golden in the morning sun, so fine,
the violets from the garden in her hand,
freshly picked with the dew pearls dropping one after the other,
the green May roses on the table, lasting forever.
It is a dream of days long gone, with a smile on my lips.

Miriam is undoubtedly a Tauer fragrance, despite its being something of a departure from Andy’s usual style. The Ambrox (something of a signature note for Andy) is definitely noticeable in the first few minutes, and although it’s more muted than you might expect, it’s a little thread of Andy running through the composition, with its sweet-salty-rich chord. Up top, there are the aldehydes and a light-hearted citrus note. I’ll make a prediction that if you don’t like aldehydes, you certainly won’t like Miriam; the aldehydes are sweet, and both powdery and candle-smoke-y. Soon I notice the beautiful rose and jasmine heart, very classic and reminiscent of 1940s feminine perfumes, and the violet flower seems to drift in and out. As the fragrance develops, the sandalwood and vanilla become prominent. I don’t smell iris on its own, but I often notice that orris root seems to disappear into rich floral scents, contributing mostly a satiny texture and keeping sweeter elements like vanilla or amber from being too sweet, in much the same way that adding a small amount of salt to batter makes the flavors blend well. The sandalwood in this, according to Andy’s blog, is a mixture of real Mysore and Australian, and it is the most delightful part of the fragrance for me.

Andy Tauer has been quoted as suggesting that Miriam is “slightly provocative,” and “not naughty, but bold,” a fragrance in the tradition of the grand parfums of the 1940s and ’50s.  I don’t find it bold or provocative in the least – rather, it strikes me as being very soft and cloudlike.

Miriam lasts quite well on me, typically about five hours with a very gentle waft. It is recognizably perfumey in that “Mmm, somebody’s wearing nice perfume” sort of way, as opposed to the “Something smells nice” sort of way that has drifted in and out of fashion since the stripped-down, anti-perfume perfumes of the early 1990. I like that. The CEO likes it too, and mentioned that smelling it reminds him of his college years, going to the department store to pick out Christmas fragrance gifts for his then-girlfriends (none of whom were me). It didn’t remind him of any scent in particular, but the general perfumeyness of Miriam resembled the air in the department store, and recalled for him the pleasant excitement of good, “feminine” smells.

I will admit to being surprised that there isn’t any oakmoss in Miriam, not even a little bit, because Miriam’s mother’s fragrance purportedly contains it. But it seems that Miriam, the fragrance, is more based on Miriam, the character: it is nostalgic, soft and powdery atop a strong, comforting base. It is on the sweet side, with the aldehydes, sandalwood and vanilla contributing to that facet, but it’s a rich woody sweetness rather than a sugary overdose. There seems always to be a gentle wistfulness about rose-and-violet scents, and Miriam is very wistful.

The mother of a young friend of mine died suddenly about six months ago, and there is a certain stricken wistfulness I’ve seen on his face at unguarded moments, particularly if I’ve been playing with my younger son in the friend’s presence. Taz loves to roughhouse and be physical; it’s a primary avenue of affection for him, and I try to indulge it. Taz won’t always be eleven, asking for “mommy hugs.” I keep wishing I could offer that kind of affection to my young friend, and I hope that sometime soon he’ll feel able to accept it.

Miriam the fragrance conjures images of motherhood for me – partly due to the film, partly due to the fact that my own mother, with whom I have a good relationship, has frequently been so comfortable in aldehydic scents, and partly due to the wistfulness in my young friend’s face over the past few weeks. Wearing Miriam feels bittersweet and emotional, tender and wrenching and beautiful. It smells like a memory of love to me, and I will cherish it.

A few other reviews of Miriam: Carol at WAFTThe Non-BlondeMarina at Perfume-Smellin’ Things,  Perfume Shrine.  Here’s a post from Andy’s blog, with some of his thoughts concerning Miriam, too. 

And one more thing:  I also won a sample of Miriam via the drawing at The Non-Blonde, but wasn’t able to get hold of Gaia to request her to consider redrawing for it, so I’ll offer a draw here to one commenter, and my immense thanks to Gaia.  Draw will be open, as the original was, to US residents, from the time of posting until midnight Eastern Standard Time Friday, November 4, 2011  Draw is now closed. 

(I will post the winner of the Pandora sample on Wednesday.)  All photos mine.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you might be aware that I love Diorissimo, although I never smelled it in its heyday.  I bought a tester bottle, unsniffed, on ebay, about the time that the newest reformulation appeared in its white box with pink lettering and trims.  I have now smelled that new version, and my immediate thought was “bathroom cleaner.”  Ugh.  I was lucky to have avoided that, because I really did not know what I was getting into.  My Diorissimo is lovely, and yet I can imagine what the scent was like in its girlhood, all innocent happy white flowers and, underneath, the smell of skin. 

If you love the smell of lilies of the valley but haven’t yet found a scent that smells just like them, fear not.  Now there is Carillon Pour un Ange.

Here are notes from the Tauer Perfumes website:

HEAD NOTES: A soft rose in harmony with ylang, and lilac prepares for a green accord of lily of the valley.

HEART NOTES: Graceful lily of the valley and smooth jasmine melt into soft suave leather.

BODY NOTES: A sheer blanket of ambergris, ornamented with the illusion of moss and woods.

A green floral delight.   “Building a fragrance with lily of the valley singing in spring was a wish since I started making perfumes. Carillon pour un ange is my tribute to this wonderful forest treasure. It is a green choir of flowers. Enjoy!”  — Andy Tauer

And may I say that I always enjoy the descriptions of Tauer scents?  They’re poetic, yet not to the point that you don’t actually know what the fragrances are supposed to smell like.  There’s a good dash of reason in there along with the poetry. 

As I write, the temperature outside is 62 F, and it is raining.  Dry leaves have blown from the neighbor’s trees all over my yard.  It is definitely not spring, and I’m probably crazy for trying to write a review of a scent that shouts, “Springtime!”  At the same time, CPuA was just released a few short weeks ago, and it’s fall in Switzerland too.  Why did this scent debut in the fall?  It’s odd.  It is possible that Tauer Perfumes wanted to release it in a timeframe that would allow buzz to get out into the perfume world, so that everyone would be craving it at the tail end of winter.  I  have a feeling I’ll be wanting it myself.

As per usual when writing  a perfume review, I’ve worn CPuA four times, to make sure I don’t miss anything.  (I absolutely never write a review without at least three wearings.  That would be, I dunno, intellectually lazy.  Furthermore, I’d be forever backtracking to old reviews: “… and another thing, I found out that the weather matters…” or “… what I just said the other day about this fragrance is wrong, wrong, wrong… I just didn’t ‘get it’ before…” or “… I just realized that I really don’t love this thing as much as I thought…”

If you’re not familiar with carillons, I’d urge you to go check out Wikipedia’s article on them here.  They’re not very common in the US, and I’ve only heard three of them live myself: the one at the National Cathedral in DC, the one at Hollins University in my home town (my piano teacher used to arrange for our recitals to be held in the college recital hall, which has lovely acoustics), and the one near Luray Caverns, VA.  Carillons, due to the strong harmonic overtones inherent in foundry bells, can sound out of tune even when they’re not.  You don’t just hear, for example, an A when one bell is struck; you hear A, A an octave up, A an octave down, E (fifth interval), C natural (minor third), and some other, more unusual, intervals as well.  Also, because the bells are still reverberant for some seconds after being struck, you’re hearing many many many notes at once.  The effect can be really startling, as a carillon at full tilt and close range can be something like an avalanche of sound.   (It’s why they generally reside in towers.) You can hear a recording at the Wikipedia article, about halfway down the page.  Go listen… see?

I am well aware that you non-music geeks just rolled your eyes at me.  Bear with me for a minute, because I’m going to make a point: “Carillon” was an appropriate name for this thing, because there are all sort of harmonic overtones of smell going on here.

CPuA starts out a bit harsh and loud, even a tad air-freshener-like, when sniffed up close in the first five minutes, and I have yet to figure out why.  The air two inches above my wrist is beautiful: cool, green, floral.  I do not smell rose or ylang, but I am getting lilac (is that the note that’s bothering me up close?) and a chilly, almost metallic hyacinth along with an amorphous green note that I can’t really place.  It’s not galbanum or citrusy green, but it’s a crushed-stems green that smells very natural.   This part is fairly high-pitched, tinkling along like the “angel bells” of the fragrance title.

And then for a gorgeous hour, I smell lily of the valley along with that green note and some juicy, innocent jasmine, ginggongging away like happy, mellow bells on my skin.  Gradually I begin to smell the leather under the florals, and I really enjoy that combination – soft leather that is smooth and never brash or tannic, undergirding the light-hearted florals.  I’m not even much of a leather fan, except when it is well in the background as it is here.  I like the way the leather begins to ground the florals.

Eventually, the basenotes of light moss and woods join in, but they are very quiet, and as the jasmine note eventually drops out, I continue to smell the muguet over the slightly salty, woody base.  I do not smell ambergris, although it’s possible I’m not recognizing it.  The entire drydown is radically different from any other Tauer fragrance I’ve worn: it’s not warm and rich, with the plushy depth of the Tauerade I’m used to.  It’s cool and transparent, and aligns beautifully with the white flowers here, keeping the scent in the verdant, meadowed character it’s been in all along.  Late in the drydown, there is an earthy quality that reminds me of the fresh, living smell of damp potting soil.  There’s a sonorous hum to this part of the scent, like the faint vibrations in the air that linger after the bells have stopped ringing.

A couple of reviews I’ve read of CPuA, particularly on luckyscent or fragrantica or other forums, mention an oiliness or a dark quality under the flowers, and I don’t get that.  There’s leather, and moss, and that earthiness, but they don’t strike me as being either oily or dark.  One review made a reference to “asphalt.”  Asphalt?  There are enough of these references that I can’t dismiss them, but I do wonder if there’s a terminology issue, and these reviewers just don’t have references for moss or ambergris or leather.  Alternately, it’s possible that I’m accustomed to a darker base than some of these reviewers, and the dark element just doesn’t bother me – or, possibly, I just didn’t perceive it at all.   Perceptions do differ.  I’m convinced that skins do, too.

CPuA is labeled “Eau de Parfum Riche.”  While it’s not nearly as radiant or as long-lasting as, say, Une Rose Chypree (look, I love URC, but the thing has the half-life of plutonium!), it is no floofy, light creature of feathers and smoke.  It sticks around.  I have been wearing it three drops at a time: one on each wrist, one at the base of the neck, the way I would dab parfum.  It’s very present for about four hours, and I can still smell it at seven hours, although it’s quiet by that time.  It is available in a 15ml bottle, for $67 USD, plus approximately $19 priority shipping, at Tauer Perfumes, or for $75, plus $8 shipping, at Lucky Scent.   

Carillon Pour un Ange is not Diorissimo.  But it is a lovely picture of lily of the valley all the same, and rather than subject myself to the current harsh version of Dior’s classic muguet scent, I’ll be replacing my bottle of Diorissimo, when it runs out, with Carillon Pour un Ange.

Other reviews of CPuA:  Marina at PST; March at Perfume Posse; Fragrantica; Bloody FridaHortus Conclusus; Perfume Shrine; Scent of the Day.  I keep waiting for Robin at Now Smell This – she’s a huge fan of vintage Diorissimo – to review this, but she hasn’t yet.  Mixups involving her sample, she said.  When she posts it, I’ll link to it.

Photos of Lily of the Valley (convallaria majalis) and of Carillon from Wikimedia Commons.  Photo of Tauer Carillon Pour un Ange from Tauer Perfumes.

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Since Saturday was the ONLY day this fall that Bookworm does not have filled in on her calendar with cross country meets, football games, band competitions, and/or PSATs, we took the opportunity to take the kids to an amusement park…

… before spending the night with my parents, so that I could sing at my parents’ church on Sunday as part of a special service honoring a former minister, who baptized me when I was eight.

It was terrific.  I’m tired, not least because of the hurry-up, last-minute nature of the plans.  And, of course, I’m behind, not only with the blog but with house cleaning and bottle shipments.

Since it’s newly released, and reviews are starting to hit the major ‘fume blogs, here’s a link to my review of Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille.  Look for Scent Diary and the Fragrance Throwdown of Bois des Iles Vs. Champagne de Bois to be posted later today!

Image of URV from Tauer Perfumes.

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Recently, I was lucky enough to win a random drawing for a sample of Une Rose Vermeille from Andy Tauer, through his blog.   Fun stuff there, by the way – go read if you can.  I should go visit more regularly, although I do sneak peeks every now and then.  It’s exciting to get these little glimpses into what it’s like to produce perfume.

Une Rose Vermeille is, as far as I can tell, the second in the Memorables line from Tauer Perfumes, the first being the stunning and very-classical Une Rose Chypree.  (As always, please forgive the lack of diacriticals.)  It launches in September.    From Tauer Perfumes, here is a description of Une Rose Vermeille:

HEAD NOTES: A citrus chord with lemon and bergamot with a hint of lavender.
HEART NOTES: A lavish bouquet of roses, raspberry and violett flowers.
BODY NOTES: A rich body with vanilla, sandalwood, tonka beans and a hint ambergris.

Andy also mentions hints of geranium, velvety marzipan, and a peppery-spicy aspect to the particular rose essence used — a Bulgarian steam-distilled oil he says is very special, and also a bit tricky to work with, although I must say he seems to have negotiated it well. 

Concerning the name: my French is either very bad or nonexistent, depending on your point of view, so I had to run the name through the Babel Fish translator.  I had thought, you see, that it was the feminine form of “vermeil,” which term I often see applied to jewelry, as in sterling silver covered in a relatively thick layer of gold.  Apparently that’s a term used more frequently in America than elsewhere, and most European countries use the term “silver gilt.”   (Feel free to remind me not to waste time drooling over reproduction jewelry in the Museum of Modern Art catalog.)  In any case, the name really means “a vermilion rose,” vermilion being known in Art School terms as a deep, intense red with orange tones.  See the rose photo at left here – isn’t that gorgeous?

My experience with Une Rose Vermeille is that it opens with an intensely orange citrus accord.  It’s so intense, and so orange, that it reminds me of Seville marmalade, the kind so concentrated that it’s on the verge of bitterness and makes one feel extremely alive.  I don’t get much lavender rising up and biting me on the nose, which is good for me as I don’t enjoy lavender much, even flowering in a garden.  This stage is fairly radiant, with one good solid spritz wafting about a five-foot radius, which is a little bigger sillage than I usually like.  Although it’s reminiscent of the mandarin accords in Une Rose Chypree and Incense Rose, it’s a bit less sweet, more astringent. 

I do smell the raspberry coming up rather quickly through the citrus, and it is delicious – none of your artificially-flavored “fruit candy” nonsense.  Once again I’m thinking of food, specifically a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible for “Cordon Rose Raspberry Conserve.”  I’ve made it often, and it is very, very concentrated, distilling a pound of raspberries, five ounces of sugar and three of water into about two pints of jam.  Incidentally, Ms. Beranbaum recommends lemon, almond, or vanilla as flavor enhancers for raspberry, and the significance of that little tidbit will become apparent.   As the orange fades down, the rose becomes more and more apparent, and this raspberry-rose accord is really beautiful.  I couldn’t tease out the violet note until the third wearing, when I added a tiny dot of Penhaligon’s Violetta to my arm about an inch away from the place I’d applied URV – aha! there it is.  However, the violet is shy and I think serves largely to give depth to the raspberry-rose in the forefront.  The scent stays in this lovely stage for at least a couple of hours.

Gradually, a rich vanilla-tonka foundation begins to make its presence known under the raspberry-rose.  This is probably my favorite part of the development, because I’m very fond of vanilla and tonka together, and this stage makes me think of yet another recipe I enjoy: Raspberry-Almond Pavlova.  Pavlova, essentially, is the layering of discs of baked meringue or dacquoise (meringue containing finely-ground nuts) with whipped cream or whipped creme fraiche.  It’s even better when you add fruit between the layers and on top.  It is a lovely, elegant, delicate, ethereal balance between tart and sweet, between light and rich, and I think of it as a little piece of heaven.  

As the scent moves towards its denouement, I begin to notice the sandalwood, and something that I would have sworn was frankincense, with a dry, almost lime-y effect.  I’m not very familiar with ambergris, however, and perhaps I’m picking up some element of that note. 

The fragrance lasts on me, with one spritz, for about four hours.  Two spritzes in the same spot extends lasting power by an hour or so, but has the disconcerting (for me) effect of making the opening sillage very radiant.  I’m a little sensitive to that, preferring to keep my scent within a three-foot radius, but even with multiple spritzes Une Rose Vermeille isn’t going to approach the scary-loud sillage of, say, Poison, and you won’t be frightening dogs and small children.   URV is less potent by far than Une Rose Chypree, which has been known to last ten hours on my normally-scent-eating skin, but it’s not what I’d call fleeting.  Rather, it lasts a satisfying length of time. 

I’m not a particular fan of gourmand scents.  I do really like Hanae Mori’s eponymous berry-marshmallow fragrance, but I consider it a comfort scent and would not wear it outside the house.  Une Rose Vermeille is similar, but far, far less sweet, and despite its near deliciousness, it’s not a frilly little nothing of a gourmand scent.  The rose and sandalwood seem to ground it, and keep it out of the “edible” category.  In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of what I wanted to smell in 100% Love: instead of cocoa and a dusty patchouli (two notes I really struggle with), you get that rich tonka and sandalwood, and the berry and rose notes are extremely natural.   

Another review:  Krista’s at Scent of the Day.  You’ll note she mentions macarons.  I’ve never tasted real French macarons, but when I went hunting macaron recipes, I noticed that the composition of the macaron cookie batter is very similar to that of dacquoise (very similar ingredients, slightly different preparation).  

My thanks again, Andy, for making the random drawing samples available.  I have already marked September 10 on my calendar, and I’m already saving my pennies for a bottle.  Now… (tossing books over shoulder, searching)… where did I put that Pavlova recipe? 

Top image is Candelabra Bloom, Bronx, NY, from Grufnik.  Lower image is Timeless Pavlova from (heart)babybee, both from Flickr.

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