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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Mini Review: Serge Lutens L'Incendiaire

By Tom

Well I was cruising through Beverly Hills this past Sunday killing some time and needed, frankly, to offload some of the four gallons of really delicious lemonade I'd consumed at a morning event. So I went to Barneys to use the loo and visit the bell jars. The very nice lady at the Lutens counter introduced me to newest one in the line: L'Incendiaire, which if I am remembering correctly roughly translates to "Arsonist." It's definitely the most Serge of all the Serge's- chock full of smoke and resins that are practically taffy like. I was immediately in love until she mentioned that since it's a pure perfume it's $600 for 50ML.

Ooof. Is it worth it? Well, frankly yes. This is Uncle Serge upping his game into JAR territory. Will I purchase it? Since it's more than my car insurance, I am thinking no.

I can't really comment on lasting power since I just gave my wrist a spritz of it and walked home on a very humid and warm day, so I can't judge it properly. But from what I was smelling on the way was pretty much Uncle Serge squared and squared again I suppose the price is justified.

But I ain't buying it.

As I said, I spritzed for free at Barneys.

Image: Barneys


Saturday, August 16, 2014

New artistic creations from DSH Perfumes: Metropolis, Scent of Hope and more

By Donna

The prolific Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes is having an especially creative year, and that is saying a lot. Once again, she is showing us that no matter what the genre of fragrance or the challenge presented is, she will find a way to make Art from it, and I am in awe of the results.

One of my favorite new launches this year attained that status as soon as it hit my nose. Metropolis is nominally a masculine scent, but I fell in love with it immediately and I would recommend it to anyone who appreciates a truly modern perfume experience. Its character is elegant but not cold, an Art Deco piece translated into smell. Like a handsome vintage automobile, it's all about the lines; it has an easy grace and airiness that makes it sleek and streamlined, but with a sturdy underpinning of strength that gives it the power it needs. Along with such traditional notes as cedar, leather, oakmoss, musk, petitgrain, rose otto, and woods, it also includes “brushed steel, glass, concrete and motor oil” according to the official description. Because this is DSH we are talking about, these unconventional elements are abstracted and seamlessly integrated into the whole, so you know you are smelling something unusual but you can't really pin down what it is. If this perfume were a car, it would be one of those gloriously swoopy Pierce-Arrow, Bugatti or Delahaye classics, timeless and luxurious without seeming excessive in any way, just pure design for its own sake.


Another new sensation is the much-anticipated Scent of Hope, which was inspired by one of the rarest and most coveted perfumes of all time, Iris Gris by  the house of Jacques Fath from 1946. I have never smelled the original – few people ever have, it seems – but I have wanted to try it for many years, having read much about its legendary beauty. Now those of us who missed out on it no longer have to search to the ends of the earth for it, because Scent of Hope is sublimely lovely and well worthy of the acclaim it is receiving. Had I the power to alter time and space, I would create an infinite quantum loop wherein I could smell the opening notes of this perfume over and over again, it is so so ineffably exquisite. The lightest puff of peach, an alpenglow cloud of delicacy, arises from the skin mingled with the most refined iris note I have ever smelled. This initial impression soon subsides but never disappears completely; the unfolding of the perfume proceeds with the slightly sweet and subdued peach in perfect harmony with the iris, keeping it from becoming either rooty or metallic, as iris is wont to do at times. It also lasts surprisingly well, which I did not expect – I put it on one evening and I could still smell it on my skin in the morning. If you need any more reasons to try it, here are two: 1. It is only available in perfume extract form, the strongest concentration, and 2. 30% of sales will be donated to Sense of Security, a Denver-based organization that helps breast cancer patients in need with their treatment and living expenses.                                                                            

Amid all the excitement of such creative fragrances, it's easy to forget this perfumer's mastery of of another style – the soliflore. “Simple” florals are seldom as easy to pull off as they seem, and indeed the perfumer is expected to make them smell as close as possible to the real thing, in contrast to more abstract scents that allow for artistic license to be taken. I am very happy that she has relaunched one of her older classics that I had never encountered before, White Lilac. I always have high hopes for lilac compositions, but some of them fail to capture the fragile beauty of these blossoms. White Lilac is everything I could ever want in such a perfume, closer to nature than any other lilac soliflore I know, sweet and pure and true to life, and it remains fresh and vibrant throughout its development. I gave a bottle to my younger sister for her birthday since it is her favorite flower and she adores it. She is the strictest judge of lilac scents I know and this one passed her test with flying colors.


One of my own favorite flowers is the peony, and DSH Perfumes' new Peony is one of the best of the genre, highlighting the rosy aspect of these lush, showy blooms rather than the sometimes overly sharp freshness that characterizes most peony scents. It will not be mistaken for a rose perfume though; it is clearly a tribute to the unique aroma of the flower, which gives off a sweet scent with a nose-tickling undertone that is sometimes just a little indecent, which to me is part of its charm. If you are seeking a peony perfume that actually smells like the real deal, seek no further.

Image credits: The exceedingly rare 1933 Pierce-Arrow Silver Arrow, of which only five were ever made, from, orginal source unknown. Closeup photo of an iris flower from Vintage lilacs & roses wallpaper from the
Disclosure: I purchased the samples of Metropolis, White Lilac and Peony for this review. My sample of Scent of Hope was given to me my DSH Perfumes.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Rerun: The Dog Days

By Tom

Since we've had some pretty tropical weather (for us) this week, I've decided to rerun a post from the past..

One of the great things about the left coast is that, despite the fact that we live on the edge of a desert, we rarely have to interface with the dog days of summer. Our humidity is low, and even when the daytime temperature is nigh unto triple digits, we can hide in our air-conditioned holes sure in the knowledge that the evenings will cool off by twenty or so degrees.

Having said that, this summer has been practically a New York one- humidity as high as 85% and temps into the 90's well into the evening. While I agree with Colombina that MKK is perfect for Summer (or Winter, Spring, Fall, Bastille Day, National Sofa-Care Month...) I know that in the interest of not gagging the people next to me on the bus, it may be time to reach for something a little lighter.

Of course the default go-to for me is Eau d'Hadrien. So light, yet so complex. It couldn't be more refreshing if it were served, poolside, over shaved ice.

Another that I have discovered over the past years is Fresh's Index line of scents. They are light as a feather and quite refreshing, with the added bonus of being long-lasting and having great sillage. My three favorites:

Cucumber Baie: created in '98 and listed as "a diaphanous memory of a summer by the Red Sea..." on me it has a wonderful top note of grapefruit and galbanum, with cucumber popping up to cool and soften the scent, finally dying down to a very light ambery oakmoss. Their website also lists watermelon, which I don't get at all, and something they call "berry musk", which sounds vaguely filthy.

Redcurrant Basil: also from '98 and described as "a lazy afternoon in late summer visited by autumn's approach..." , it features topnotes of lemon, kumquat and basil (and delightfully, I can smell all three), drying down past a slightly sweet pomegranatey rose to the sheerest of cedar-toned musk.

Pomegranate Anise: from '97 and written of as "red lips beckon, a crisp winter kiss..." this is a whisper-light gourmand that starts with a burst of pomegranate, immediately softened by grapefruit and mandarin, slowly joined by lily and magnolia, drying down to a lusciously light ambered sandalwood. I suppose it could be construed as daring by the timid, but I wear it more in summer. Your mileage may vary...

The last one that I have had in my wardrobe was Bergamot Citrus: This one was my first encounter with Fresh when it was introduced (the fragrance, not the line) in '96 and described as "respite by an ancient stone fountain...", this is a very nice green scent with topnotes of bergamot and petitgrain, with waterlily and jasmine, drying to cypress, oakmoss and a hint of cedar. It has been supplanted in my wardrobe by others, not because it isn't a good scent, but because I have either found new ones or rediscovered old ones that have pushed it to the bottom of the list.

Fresh Index scents are available from Fresh stores in New York, Boston, Chicago and West Hollywood, from or from many retailers, including better beauty supply houses (like Larchmont Beauty supply in Los Angeles), and department stores like Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus (as I remember, they don't list them on their website, but I've bought them at Neimans) and at Sephora. The bottles are 3.4 ounces and cost a reasonable $70.

Actually, Fresh these days are sold in Fresh stores, and sadly a lot of the ones in this post are discontinued. I wish they'd bring them back..

Image: Wikipedia Commons