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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Beautiful Blend for a Balmy Summer's Day! ~ Annick Goutal ~ Rose Splendide and Ninfeo Mio

By Beth Schreibman Gehring

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine: 
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.
A Midsummer Night's Dream 

It's a balmy summers day in Cleveland, Ohio, the kind of day that just makes you long for the days when you were a child and could rip your clothes off and run around naked with with abandon. 

It's the kind of day that makes me want to go skinny dipping and then eat fresh peach ice cream until I'm so full that I could burst. 

Alas, I can't do either of these things because I'm an adult now and my days are full of trivial adult like pursuits. A girl can dream though and this morning when I was searching for something that would cool me down and comfort me I remembered this precious combination. These two beauties from the house of Annick Goutal when blended together are sheer poetry and they remind me of the many days spent in my father's garden when I was very young. 

Daddy knew more about dirt and flowers than anyone I've ever known. His gardens served as the muse for his true love which was painting. When I was younger his gardens were fairly basic ,but then he fell madly in love with France...more specifically Giverny.  He came home from that first trip and began anew. He researched everything, we liked to tease him and say that he was clearly a frustrated botanist and should just go back to school.

 He planted roses (never hybrid teas) and searched for the perfect peonies. He loved his lilies and his Irises. His garden was a symphony of colorful chaos, not contrived at all  and completely blowzy in the English style but with a French romanticism that was palpable. He had so many different species of so many different plants and his herbs were gorgeous and lush, mixed in with a painterly touch. His Lilies of the Valley have never been supplanted in my heart. He always kept Sweet Woodruff growing underneath his maple trees so that he could make May Wine every spring which we'd share glasses of together while watering the gardens in the evenings. 

If you read my perfume writing you already know that I don't give a fig about a fragrance pyramid or what makes it all up. What I care about is the emotional template of a perfume and this blend reads like a Shakespearean sonnet juicy , musky and green. When I put this on, it immediately cools me down. Either of these fragrances are lovely, but blended together they shimmer diaphanously , reminding me alot of the beautiful dragonflies that inhabited my fathers beautiful world. Together they smell wet and almost feral, sexy like Queen Titania yet they're a perfect combination to wear with long pearls, linen and a cup of tea. 

My father has been gone for too many years now, and it took me a while to find my new home. I work every Tuesday and Thursday in the beautiful Western Reserve Herb Society  gardens that are housed down at The Cleveland Botanical Gardens. I spend my days with wonderful women of like mind tending and harvesting the herbs, making  glistening jellies, jams and other wonderful things. 

My true love though lies in simply being down there, quietly tending and clipping and mulching and remembering my fathers words, "Build the soil, Feed it well, Water it Wisely and you'll have a beautiful Harvest. " 

Undoubtedly the best advice for life that he ever gave me. Use it and bloom!

You can find both of these remarkable perfumes at Lucky Scent


Sunday, June 21, 2015

A gentle touch with flowers: La Fleur By Livvy Natural Perfumes

By Donna

Every time I think I have tried all the best American indie perfumes, another interesting house seems to pop out of the woodwork and get my attention. Such an embarrassment of riches; no matter what style or genre of fragrance you like, somewhere there is something for you that was made in the U.S.A. And it just may be from Colorado too – this young brand hails from the same state as DSH Perfumes and Aether Arts. I am grateful to perfumer Olivia Larson for sending me samples of her line, La Fleur By Livvy.

As you may imagine from the name, the focus is on florals as the centerpieces of the scents, which are my first love in perfumery. La Fleur By Livvy is an all-natural line too, so I knew I would not be getting the dreaded “over-exposed chemical floral” experience. As soon as I smelled White Lotus I knew I was on to something good. It is a soothing, soft and calming scent that smells true to its name, with none of the distracting aquatic accords that usually find their way into mainstream perfumes of this style. Surprisingly it also has vetiver, which usually does not go well with my skin chemistry, but here it is just right and smells refreshing and green, a perfect companion to the gentle lotus blossom. An unexpected base that includes tonka bean and cognac makes this one linger longer than what might be expected of a natural floral.

Expecting more in the same vein, I tried A Parisian Affair and got a big surprise – there is nothing shy or demure about this one! It smells not unlike a modern version of Lanvin’s My Sin, one of my all-time favorites. Rich notes of lilac and champaca meld with vanilla and pine – an odd combination but somehow it works and smells for all the world like a classic feminine floral perfume from the golden age of perfumery. This is a truly sensuous fragrance and lasts well on the skin. If you are a fan of retro and vintage-inspired perfumes, I recommend this very highly.

Another big floral in the line is Fleur de Seduire, which fills the narcotic white floral slot quite handily. The jasmine in this one is very heady, and I think I smell tuberose too although it is not a listed note. It's not a huge, knockout white floral like Fracas or A La Nuit, so it can be worn more easily, but make no mistake, it will be noticed. A base of frankincense and myrrh brings to mind one of my favorite discontinued perfumes, Jo Malone's Vintage Gardenia, so anyone who has been missing that one needs to try Fleur de Seduire. It is indeed a scent of seduction but in a more subtle way than conventional white floral perfumes; it beckons and mesmerizes instead of using the stun gun approach.

Fleur de Mystere makes me think of a classy red-haired woman with green eyes; it just seems like the kind of fragrance such a woman would wear. It opens with a one-two punch of bergamot and geranium, and the heart of peach, ylang ylang and rose is offset by a generous yet well-balanced dose of fresh, soapy patchouli in the base. It is sporty yet sophisticated and one of those perfumes that can ease seamlessly from day to evening. The green-eyed lady can wear her riding habit or form-fitting Forties suit in the morning and a bias-cut satin gown at night, but her fragrance remains the same. 

One of my favorites in the line is Fleur d'Aspiration, a delicate composition that has an aroma very similar to some of my most beloved flowers, Easter lilies and hostas, a cool, sweet and slightly haunting scent with freshness of bergamot and the exquisite smell of tropical frangipani. It is the fragrance equivalent of finding a spot in the shade on a hot day. Its only flaw is its fleeting nature, which is also the problem with Fleur de L’Amour, a pretty and slightly soapy fruity-floral that seemed to vanish almost as soon as it hit my skin, so I could not really follow its development. I would be interested to know what it is like for other people, but my skin just does not hold on to it.

It's not all about the flowers – the warmly herbal and balsamic Puck's Potion is a pastoral unisex fragrance inspired by the mischievous character in Shakespeare's “A Midsummer Night's Dream” that features a generous dose of oakmoss, which guarantees that I will like it, and it has a most enjoyable aroma like sweet summer hay. Tonka bean makes it cozy and cassis adds a touch of tangy fruit. It also has an unusual ingredient, lily absolute – in commercial perfumery, the use of natural lily essence is virtually nonexistent due to its cost and the difficulty of extracting it, and many people think that all lily notes in perfume are constructions, but it does exist, and put to good use here where it creates a halo effect around the other notes, bathing the whole composition in a cloud of gentle flowers and spice. Lilies are my favorite flowers, so finding a perfume with both lily and oakmoss in it was like hitting the jackpot. Keep an eye on this house; I have a feeling that it will make a positive impact on the indie perfume scene. These fragrances others are available on the company's Web site. (And just look at the pretty little perfume vial you can have!)

Image credits: Jasmine wallpaper from Romantic Parisian scene from Red haired woman from, original source unknown. Blue heart-shaped mini perfume vial from
Disclosure: The perfume samples were sent to me gratis for testing by La Fleur By Livvy.

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