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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Strange Invisible Perfumes Musc Botanique

By Tom

As you know from reading the Posse, the LA ScentSation was a big success. The first gift bag (the one from the event, not the ones from the stores we went to) alone was worth the the trip. I think the highlight everyone would agree was the full-sized perfume from Strange Invisible Perfumes (I think it's $225 retail). I lucked out and got Musc Botanique.

I write about it previously and bought myself a bottle years ago.back in the day I wrote:

"But the one that I kept coming back to was Musc Botanique. Through the alcohol haze I remember the nice girl telling us that it was meant as a sort of riff on the idea of plants seducing each other through their smell, like the musk that animals produce to attract a mate. This makes immediate sense in its tart opening: the woody, almost harsh geranium mixes with sweet angelica to make me think of berry patches. It gets earthier and earthier as the frankincense and amber come in, until the whole thing gets surprisingly, delightfully slutty. But slutty in a wholly different way that you would imagine: not human and not even animal. It's as if you're walking in a night-time garden and suddenly the whole place starts giving you the glad eye; the woods, grass and flowers are waving their little fronds at you with a decided "Hello, Sailor" attitude. Not in that somewhat confrontational Satyr-of-the-berries CB I Hate perfume way (which, as you all know I adore) and not in some Majicky, Sci-Fi way either. It's different: it's also entirely wearable (I would and did wear it to the office) but definitely, wonderfully.. odd."

The pure perfume version takes it even further- it's more than winking, it's standing there, hands on hips, daring you to come over. It's Sadie Thompson in a bottle and I love it. It's also very long-lasting for a pure botanical- I smell it on me the next day. There are many SIP fragrances that I would cheerfully buy if I could just hit the darned PowerBall: Lyric Rain, Fire and Cream, and Black Rosette to name three. But I was so thrilled to get Musc Botanique in my goody bag I feel like I did win the lottery..

Notes from their website: Egyptian geranium, frankincense, notes of white amber & botanical musk

$225 for .25 ounce at their store in Venice, which if you're in Los Angeles you really need to visit. Mine came in the gift bag at the event.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DSH Perfumes revisits the Secrets of Egypt collection – and adds another treasure

By Donna

A few years ago Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes created a stunning collection of fragrances for the Denver Art Museum's King Tut exhibit. She researched ancient techniques and formulae to bring historic perfumes to life. Now she has reworked three of these perfumes to modernize them, and they are being presented as the “New Kingdom” collection; instead of being exacting reconstructions of antique fragrances, which was impressive enough, they are streamlined and clarified using a mixture of botanical and synthetic materials to bring them into line with the rest of her repertoire. (Wisely, she left my beloved 1,000 Lilies, also know as Susinon, alone; as far as I am concerned, it was already perfect.) The three reformulated scents, Antiu, Keni, and Megaleion, have been joined by a new member of the group, Iridum, an interpretation of iris.

I wondered if the fabulous Antiu would still be as good, but I need not have worried; the sharp snap of galbanum married with bitter cherry/almond still works its magic, and the reformulation has extended the initial effect of the two contrasting notes so that they can be enjoyed over a longer span of time. The opening's short life was my only complaint about the original, so I am very happy that the new formula has made it more balanced. It is less dense and “chewy“ and more transparent than the original but none the worse for that. Fans of green scents should really try Antiu. You can't get any greener than galbanum, and once this has settled in and the bitter almond moves into the background, it reminds me a lot of what Balmain's Vent Vert used to smell like, and that is very good indeed.

Keni was a sweetly spicy-woody perfume with a slightly medicinal air about in its first incarnation. It has now lost the medicinal part and is more of a recognizable modern scent, but it retains the fascinating mineral and leather effect in the drydown of the original. It also has a pleasing green aspect that is softer than Antiu's. I still can't figure out exactly what is in it, just like the first time around, but I actually like this version even better. It dries down to a delicious skin incense that makes me want to devour my own arm. Its longevity is good enough so that you may not get much else done if compulsive arm-sniffing is the effect it has on you.

The relatively somber Megaleion is a musky incense and agarwood fragrance that still retains its “vintage” chypre” vibe from before, and it's still marvelous. It's not quite as skewed to the masculine side as the original; in fact, it has been softened just enough to make it more approachable for anyone to wear, and is no longer as austere as it once was. As an example of an ancient art it was beautiful, and now it is equally so but it will probably appeal to a broader audience. Something about it still reminds me of classic perfumes from the more recent past, and that's just as good as Egypt if you ask me.

I must confess that I have never been an “iris person” when it comes to perfume - that is, not until I tried Dawn's Cyprian from her Perfumed Court collection. This charming recreation of an old French wig powder and hair pomade recipe made me realize what I was missing. I was always disappointed that iris fragrances did not smell like the iris flower – they were always too rooty, carroty, earthy or spicy, which did not match up with my love of the delicate scents of iris blossoms. With Cyprian I came to appreciate iris for what it is, not what I wished it could be. Iridum is a woody and refined interpretation of iris, and I found it to be just as delightful to wear as Cyprian even though it is very different in style. It is gentle enough that it has a somewhat floral effect, and not too dry, with just a hint of the “cinnamon red hots” kick found in abundance in some iris fragrances such as the formidable Iris Silver Mist by Serge Lutens – I can't wear that alien beast, but Iridum is another story. Instead of being haughty and intimidating, it is easy and welcoming, with a warm heart embedded in its cool beauty, and does not have the chilly aloofness that the Lutens does. Iridum can take its place among the pantheon of excellent and highly wearable iris perfumes, as elegant as the rest of the breed, and also among those that made me a convert to this style of fragrance – and yes, an iris person at last.

Image credit: Blue iris from via Creative Commons license; special effects mine.
Disclosure: I received samples of these fragrances from DSH Perfumes for testing.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sort of a Rerun: Friederick Malle Eau d'Hiver

By Tom

The lovely Olfacta (who I am assuming you're reading) reminded me of this one with her lovely and evocative review.
My original review here on PST years ago read "Created in 2003 by Jean Claude Ellena and as sharp and clear as an icicle, D'Hiver is listed as having notes of heliotrope, iris and honey (according to Barney's). I also get bergamot in the opening and an overarching angelica. But mostly I get a sense of whiteness. Whiteness and coldness. As if you were sitting in a freshly painted white room looking out a picture window at a field of snow, perhaps with a television set in the background that's set to a station that's only static while wearing a white suit.

If it weren't so lovely it would seem almost stuntish it it's whiter-than-white aspect. I love it in winter, which in LA can get into the 80's (I know, hate me), but I really like it in the heat of summer where it's as refreshing as a cool bath.

I still stand by that but also after years of wearing it have to add my comments to her review "I always thought it smelled like the weather just before a big snowstorm. Crisp and clean and slightly electric and oddly warm with the promise of a really good freeze coming in."

As she mentions in her review and comments, JCE is a master..

Image: Wikipedia Commons


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Eau de Dior Coloressence Energizing

By Tom

I'll be posting about the LA event the Posse there tomorrow, but I want to say here how much fun it was and how much I'm looking forward to the next one. The best part of it had to be getting to pal around with Portia Turbo, who is just as lovely out of a dress as she is in. We hung out for a couple of days, visiting with the lovely Roxana of Roxana Illuminated Perfumes, where we spent hours chatting, trying out accords and basically laughing our a$$es off. Portia was on a quest to find the second Madonna scent, which I hadn't heard of and apparently nobody bought (it was finally located in the Macy's in the Westside Pavillion.) Part of the quest was Century City, where we ran across a random little perfumery/beauty parlor that was selling some things at 70% off.

One of them was Eau de Dior Coloressence Energizing. It was part of a twin set of energizing (green packaging) or relaxing (pink packaging) that arrived in stores in 2000. It's a super-bright little concoction that's like a classic eau de cologne: minty-lemony top, powdery-rosy middle and skin-musk bottom. It's really quite nice, but I'm not jealous that Portia made the score, since she generously allowed me to decant some, and when it comes down to it I think I have about 5 other things in my closet that kind of trod the same path that I might reach for first.

Eau de Dior Coloressence Energizing is available online at various retailers for very little money. My sample came from the bottle Portia bought.

Image: Amazon


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Foodie Sunday ~ Happy Mothers Day!

By Beth  

Late last night on Facebook, I posted a picture of my mother at age 17. This is a picture of the two of us in Arizona;  actually it's the last photo that was taken of us together. She was an absolutely gorgeous and glamorous woman even until her death four years ago. I never once saw her without her lipstick, jewelry or perfume.  One of my friends who knew her well and worked with her through many an election left the comment, " She was so beautiful and I was honored to know her. I so admired her fierceness". 

Mom was fierce. I do have the great fortune of looking just like her, but more importantly , I know that we all inherited our deep passion for justice and activism from her. I never once saw her back down from a fight even her own at the end. She was passionate and she felt EVERYTHING deeply. She was a true Leo and nobody messed with her children . 

I was left handed and when the teachers tried to switch me in third grade, she promptly barged into the principals office with left handed scissors and a lecture. From that day on until I had graduated from 5th grade my mother bought all of the left handed desks and scissors for that school and she did it until the school district began to right what she considered to be a grievous wrong for everyone, not just her own daughter.   

When I was recovering from an abortion that I'd had at age 18 that I hadn't told her about , she came barging into my room and asked me why I hadn't trusted her. You see, she'd dreamt about it (which she was often inclined to do , a talent which my own son will tell you that I inherited!) and knew instantly what was wrong. After crying in my bedroom for about ten of the most tortuous minutes of my life, she left and came back with a bed tray of breakfast and didn't leave my side for several days. 

When my sister tragically lost a baby so many years ago at birth due to the overwhelming stupidity of her doctors,  my mother dropped what she was doing immediately (running a huge charity gala) and left for San Diego immediately. She felt that loss almost as deeply as my sister and probably because of my mothers great strength in the face of such an overwhelming loss  Ellen was able to face what had happened and begin to rebuild herself, her body and her life. About three years later she and Peter gave birth to my fabulous nephew. My mother gave of herself to others like that fairly constantly, but she fortunately never had to endure the loss of one of her own children. 

The first thing that I read this morning upon waking was an open letter from the mothers of Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown. They wake up every morning knowing that because of one of the most powerful lobbies in the world that we cannot even get the simplest protections that we need.  They said many things, but the most overwhelming thing that they said was to ask that for one moment we stopped saying that we could not imagine how they felt. "Imagine how we feel" they said and for a brief moment that I could barely  tolerate   I did. There have been 4000 gun related deaths since Newtown. Unbelievable that we are impotent in the face of such unspeakable tragedy.   As for my mother? She would have already been in Washington. So this morning I ask all of you to remember on this Mothers Day that there are far too many in this country who are waking up and reliving over and over again the shattering agony of the moment that they found out that their child or loved one had been gunned down senselessly. That there are no amount of hugs that can take that pain away. No matter where you stand on the issue of gun control (and surprisingly to many I love to shoot) , please make yourself imagine exactly what it would feel like to wake up this morning without your child or your best friend or your sister, brother or spouse. Then sign this petition. 

I  am blessed to be having a wonderful Mothers Day. My son is sleeping soundly upstairs and my husband has gone off to get me a rare (these days because I quit!) cup of coffee as I type this. We're going out to brunch and then the three of us are going for a long walk with the puppies. I can't forget  the words that I read this morning that haunt me…."Imagine, really imagine how we feel." So I write this in my mothers honor and my mother- in - law who has been one of my closest friends, my sister and my sister-in- laws and in the honor of all of those Sandy Hook mothers who are waking up this morning with that  ever present loss. I write this for any mother who has had to endure a missing child and here in Cleveland we are grateful even as the horror still unfolds that three of our own have been returned to us  safely. There are 121 more who have not yet returned. 

 I write this for all of my gay friends who are creating amazing families and all for of the single parents like one of my sister in law's who against all odds raised three pretty incredible children. 

I realize of course that this is a perfume blog and fortunately our Marina who is a mother herself, very wise and extraordinarily generous gives us pretty free rein. So my request of you? The next time that you are seized with the impulse to buy a new bottle or sample or such..why don't you donate the money instead if you are so moved to The Sandy Hook Mothers  Promise or any other cause of your choice?  Take action in your honor or in your mothers honor. If not gun control, climate change, animal rights…whatever you are so moved to and please let me know about it.

I love you all and am sending HUGE HUGS….Happy Mothers Day! Today I'm wearing Shalimar in honor of my own mother...what are you wearing today?

Thursday, May 09, 2013

More About Musk..

By Tom

I like musk. I've written about several scents in the past that feature it, from the down n' drrty to the most angelic and airy. This can lead to mishaps, such as Sunday when I got on the bus and a lady moved away from me. I had forgotten that I had given myself a decent jolt from my decant of JAR Fermez Tes Yeux earlier thinking I wasn't going out, but realized that it was going to rain and I needed to get some food. I looked like Prince Preppie, but probably smelled like a zombie to her. Oh well..

So I have a bunch of them. Most of them, even the ones that will clear a bus I feel end of sort of warm and snuggly on me. Muscs Kublai Kahn is one that I know people shy away from as barbarian-in-a-bottle but I adore it. Annick Goutal Musk Nomade is like a veil of heaven and Strange Invisible Perfumes Musc Botanique is delightfully deranged.

So there are many musks out there- what are your favorites?

Image: Galaxolide, a polycyclic musk commonly found in laundry detergents to mask the smell of the detergent chemicals. From Wikipedia.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Sleek Italian design: Trussardi by Trussardi

By Donna

It's funny how styles in perfume change over the decades – there was a time when women - adult women and teenagers alike, believe it or not - wore fragrances that were not hyper-sweet and “feminine” like so many mainstream offerings of today. Sometimes I think if I see one more Pink Boopsie Bling Princess Sugar Cookie Caramel Sparkle Dream thing launched I will just run screaming into the night, clutching bottles of Knize Ten and Lonestar Memories to my chest. Fortunately there are alternatives for women who don't want to smell like a candy store, and not all of them are to be found in niche lines. Let's revisit an old friend from more than thirty years ago, Trussardi by Trussardi, the first fragrance from the eponymous Italian leather goods and luxury fashion house.

Trussardi is a fragrance for women, but if it were launched today instead of in the Eighties, no one would blink an eye if it were designated as a masculine. It has the classic Italian character of good bones, clean modern construction and very little sweetness. Of course it is a leather chypre, being the flagship scent of the company, and it lands right in the center of the spectrum of this genre. It is not rough and unisex/butch like Knize Ten (which I love) nor is it as refined and obviously feminine as Bottega Veneta (which I also adore). It opens with a classic chypre blast of moss and “ladies handbag” which always reassures me that I am in the presence of the real thing. In this case, the handbag aroma hangs around, since this is indeed a leather scent. It is very green up top, featuring aldehydes, styrax and galbanum, with the spicy kick of dry coriander. The florals in the heart are of the sharp, fresh spring variety including geranium and hyacinth as well as a touch of jasmine and tuberose, and the leathery base is emphasized by the punch of patchouli and cedar. I find the leather in this fragrance, dry and spare, to be quite close to that of Cacharel's Anaȉs Anaȉs, which was launched a few years before it; that perfume had a “stealth” leather note that was hidden by the heady aldehydes and white lily until it gradually became apparent in the drydown. It's more upfront in Trussardi so you know right away what you are getting. Its aquiline elegance is an easy fit for casual wear, business or special occasions.

I have to assume that Trussardi has been affected by the wave of EU-mandated reformulations, but my mini of recent vintage still smells fantastic. It has always been a sleeper scent, and I would encourage anyone who loves chypres to go find some. You might even get lucky and find a vintage bottle. It's available for a fraction of niche and luxury line prices at online discounters; you can find a 100 ml bottle of eau de toilette for well under $50.00 USD. Get it while you can, and stock up if you love it; classics never go out of style.

Image credit: The 2011 special edition BMW-Trussardi collaboration Series 5 Gran Turismo Trussardi in Heraldic Brown with Leather Glove Beige interior via Yes, I want one too.
Disclosure: the fragrance I tested for this review was from my personal collection.

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Thursday, May 02, 2013

Rerun: Vero Profumo Kiki, Onda and Rubj EDP

By Tom

Going through my sample collections I ran across these, which reminded me how great they are. So I am re-running my original review of the pre-release versions that first appeared in February of 2010

At PST both Colombina and I are huge fans of perfumers Vero Kern's fragrances. They're beautiful, rich, full-on fragrances yet they aren't in any way retro or trying-too-hard-to-be-cutting-edge. I had heard that she was working on EdP versions of these signature scents and when she offered to let me try them I jumped at the chance.

In an email she wrote:

The Eaux need a different structure by pointing out more the top notes and less on the base always by still respecting the original style of the Extraits.

I've simplified the whole composition. I also replaced the heavy animal notes by the unique scent of PASSION FRUIT which I love very much and which gives the creations a certain erotic readiness.

Onda EdP is recognizably Onda, just a little lighter and a little less challenging. For instance Onda I don't think I'd wear to an office in full perfume strength, but the lighter concentration I would certainly; the passion fruit is a stroke of genius. It's not too fruity, it just cuts some of the smokiness.

Kiki EdP loses nothing in the translation. It's still a gorgeous lavender with the undertone of mango fruitiness now laid with the passionfruit instead of the musk, but still having that wonderful skin scent aspect.

Rubj EdP is based upon a scent I wrote of as innocent and shockingly sensual. The combination of the passionfruit and orange blossom conspires to be flat-out sexy with what I think is a bare whiff of cumin: just a touch. Is there "erotic readiness"? You betcha. rubj perfume is the version I'd wear to the office; the EdP is the version I'd wear out on a date- one where I planned to serve desert at home. Personally.

Available now st LuckyScent. Rubj and Kiki are $220 for 50ML, Onda is $220. My samples came from Vero Kern.

Image: Luckyscent