Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Body Shop Indian Night Jasmine: fragrance review

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." This quote by Indian author Arundhati Roy is one of my favorite ones, shedding light where despair has cast its long, oppressing shadow. Scent also works the same way, transforming the mundane or the forsaken into sparkle and comfort. And when that comes with no requests of owning heaps of cash the size of the Koh-i-Noor jewel from Andhra Padesh, rejoice for all involved! One such case is Indian Night Jasmine by The Body Shop, possibly the nicest fragrance in the company's current rotation.

theberry.com via

Jasmine by its very nature is a precious essence to harvest; the delicate flowers need not see the heat of the day, as they emit their strongest scent during the cloistered shadows of the night. They get picked by hand, they wilt and brown easily, emitting their narcotic scent while they die... literally dying in scent. Modern technology has managed to isolate and replicate the sweetest and freshest elements of this natural wonder and to create fragrances that come at a competitive price point.

Indian Night Jasmine by The Body Shop manages to smell smooth, lush and orientalized, befitting the imagery of wild shrubberies growing out of control somewhere in India, the "moonshine in the garden". The air is dewy, warm and heavy with the promise of romance. Eyes kohl-sooted, glimmer under the canopy of fringed lashes; skin sleek with anticipatory sweat. This could be the night.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Perfume Creation: How Focus Groups Work

If you've been reading about perfume and fragrance creation for some time (and if you've been following the Perfume Shrine specifically) you must have come across the mention of focus groups, employed by large companies like L'Oreal or such, to test the "mods" supplied by the laboratory in order to gauge whether the perfumer and his/her team should go back to the drawing board or not.

I have managed to unearth through some research a few concrete examples of just how this works exactly. The following pictures you will see are the actual questionnaires that people participating in focus groups (people off the street, so to speak, without perfumery training) were asked to fill. As you can see, and as has been mentioned on the Perfume Shrine before, the purpose of the focus group and the tool for gauging market reactions is always within the perimeters of comparison. It's always against a current best-seller. This makes for much perfume sameness to be sure; we tackled that in the past as well. But at least now you can see with your own eyes.

The two rival companies below are Lancome/L'Oreal and Dior/LVMH. They're a bit older but the point remains. Makes for fascinating commentary I bet!

Right click and open in new window to see in full size. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Estee Lauder Pleasures: fragrance review

Can there be a fragrance "fit for every woman in every season and at every moment"? A long, long time ago, this held true through the notion of the "signature scent", the olfactory equivalent of a calling card. During the 1990s - smack in the middle of which Pleasures was launched by American champion of the cosmetics counter, Estee Lauder - this notion had fallen sideways in favor of the cash-bringing concept of a "fragrance wardrobe".

photo by Edward Steichen via

Much as the hereby contradicting brief therefore foretold of a foible in capturing "the moment", the commercial success of Pleasures was cemented in reinforced concrete. And even the scent somewhat hints at the smell of concrete itself. But let me explain.

A fragrance for every season and every moment, for every woman, is by definition somewhat inoffensive, crowd pleasing, middle of the road. No big ripples, no histrionics, but no soft whisper either; it should be recognizably shared, coveted as the mark of the Aristotelean kalos kagathos. Alberto Morillas is the perfumers' equivalent of kalos kagathos, in the very best sense. Or maybe he's just got the touch of Midas, everything he touches turns to gold; there's that, too.

Pleasures owes its immaculate sheen to a preponderance of aldehydes, those frothy, citrusy, soapy materials handed down from mother's and grandmother's perfume, soaked into copious amounts of musk for clean starchiness that recalls the smell of wet concrete after the rain. It's Morillas's Spanish background (with a hand from Annie Byzantian) that is the rock-bed on which the double notion of clean yet piquant rests, and which forms the reigning glory of Pleasures. The rising peppery warmth (highlighted on an already warm skin) thanks to the unusual but tiny addition of the mesmerizing and pricey karo-karounde extract and the soft pink pepper (i.e. baie rose) add to the more prim aspects to create something that is beyond scrubbed clean, it's handsome.

You can also read about one of the print advertisements of Pleasures seen through an Art History lens on this link.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What Our Winners Win in Draws...A Video

We are hosting many draws on Perfume Shrine over the course of the year (it's a great way to have the lurkers delurk!) but none is more impressive than those which have the backing up of Tijon. Our last giveaway with the Beach Bag full of goodies was phenomenal and the grand prize winner Amelia Fortes did a super cute video opening up her prize package on air. She has posted the video full of sweet appreciation on Youtube. Thanks for the shout out Amelia and enjoy all your great goodies courtesy of Tijon Fragrance Lab and Boutique in good health!

Monday, August 29, 2016

L'Artisan Parfumeur Eau de l'Artisan: fragrance review

Twenty three years after its introduction to the line of L'Artisan Parfumeur, Olivia Giacobetti's take on the pleasures of a Mediterranean herb garden L'Eau de l'Artisan is still relevant in what concerns a fragrance that replicates its dewy herbaceousness. (I hear Jo Malone launches a whole line devoted to such things as parsley or fennel and carrot blossoms).

via pinterest
The "jardin potager" as it's called in French is usually a patch that features culinary verdant herbs meant to be picked and plucked spontaneously to season a salad here and a pot roast there alongside blossoming plants and vegetables in an aesthetically pleasing way. And personally? I prefer it even to the glories of the roses's beds and the petunias's designs blooming in feisty colors down the path...

L'Eau de l'Artisan beautifully replicates the bunch of them with basil and marjoram being the delectable and quite prominent aromatic heroes. They both give piquancy and a certain earthy bite which is not miles apart from what they offer to a dish.The tension is built between the lemony verbena and the mossy backgrounds which - not unlike the seminal Eau de Campagne by Sisley - translate as a very fresh and very subtle chypre.

I also seem to discern thyme: another popular Med choice, the scorched stems of which dot the hills in summer; the herb often garlands a roasted leg of lamb. Credit to L'Artisan for creating a fragrance that is not meant for mutton dressed as lamb then, as so many mainstream fragrances are, but goes for a little joyful introspection into the memories of our summers spent in the countryside.

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