Friday, July 6, 2018

July Fragrance Selections: A Mix of the Cult and the Classic

The month of July started with a heatwave after a mellow June that drowned us in downpour and median temperatures. So action is required in order to wean through the collection and pick just the right stuff in order to pass the litmus test of 36C outside and pretty humid inside. I got the bottles out and took them for a camera ride. These are my personal selections for the upcoming days. Each one, a small story unto itself.

photo by E.Vosnaki© 

Diorissimo (Dior) Les Creations de Monsieur Dior eau de toilette: The fairly recent bottle is an attempt to recapture the insouciance that the older classic by Christian Dior provided in its vintage forms in an easily replenished format. The experiment runs well so far, though I do miss the divine natural jasmine of the retro formulations (if you want to hunt for vintage, please refer to this chronology & dating guide for Diorissimo by Dior). The scent is of course the crispiest lily of the valley without scratching one's sinuses.

Y (Yves Saint Laurent) eau de toilette: 'The chypriest of them all', as I had written in a previous Y by YSL perfume review. Crisp, green, soapy too in a way, like some chypre fragrances can be, though it's a bit slit-eyed this one still possesses that ineffable good taste that Yves Saint Laurent used to be famed for. Now the brand is issuing things like hundreds of flankers of Black Opium and mocking its heritage. We know better.

Fleurs d'Oranger (Serge Lutens): Not too old, not too young, just perfect in that middle ground between contemporary and traditional, a potent yet fresh (!) mix of lush orange blossom and insinuating tuberose, likened to a heaving blossom. A true compliment getter too! I was stung by a bee, outside a graveyard, wearing this scent, one fateful Easter, and forever since I subconsciously seek to touch the sting spot when I wear it....

Passage d 'Enfer (L'Artisan Parfumeur): This was among my first incense purchases and it still remains a firm favorite for summer-wear (not that it does not shine in winter equally well). Passage d' Enfer gives me the eerie feeling of a trance-like session, lost in the spiritual reveries of a body ritualistically sprayed with all the lilies of the field. It balances on the edge of sanity sometimes, clean (thanks to the white musk) but mysterious at once, ethereal yet subtly odd, like an emo-goth type dressed in top-to-bottom white.
More on frankincense and resinous, smoky scents HERE and a guide with different incense scents HERE.

Rem (Reminiscence): Behold the aquatic that does not restrict itself to merely Calone, dihydromyrcenol or any of those nasty aroma molecules that have drenched the genre into the filth and mud of bad reputation among serious perfume lovers. This smells like a humidifier, a tiny bit salty too, with a faint whiff of algae and blanched vegetation (an odd byproduct of the tiniest bit of patchouli) and works perfectly in a tropical downpour as it does on dry heat that shatters asphalt. It's deservedly a cult fragrance in Europe!
For more beach-smelling fragrances for every style and taste, visit THIS link

What are YOU wearing this month? Please share in the comments and I will try to reply to all of you.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Battling the Bodily Stench or Embracing the Feral and the Ripe?

Battling bad smells has been a millenia-long battle for humanity. Fighting body odor specifically has been a battle against our very own human make-up. With the exception of those carrying the gene ABCC11 (which makes for no armpit smell), common amongst the populations of the Far East,  the vast majority of us of European, African, Central Asian and Native American descent have the sort of apocrine glands in the armpit and groin which secrete a sort of sweaty liquid that when mixed with surface bacteria develops body odor. The ecrine glands, situated throughout the body, secrete just water and salt.



The quest for deodorisation brings us to the American contradiction of a malodorous past coupled with an almost sterilized present. The pioneer settlers, coming from Europe driven out for their strict Puritan religious beliefs or our sheer need for greener pastures and personal growth were not accustomed to washing up too much. Popular westerns, films chronicling the adventures of the Wild West, have long exploited this very notion, having the lone cowboy bust into the odd saloon and demand a cigar and bath in the back quarters after months of herding cattle all alone in the wilderness.


The very interesting thing however is not the invention of deodorant (and anti-perspirant, which debuted in the early 20th century based on aluminum chloride first marketed under the suggestive name Everdry) but the power of marketing. Women, American women in particular, were especially targeted in typically sexist campaigns which implied that their natural odor was repulsive to heterosexual men, therefore they had to rely on a deodorant or anti-perspirant in order to land the man of their dreams. An advertisement from the Walter Thomson Archives, at the Duke University, proclaims in the very title "Within the Curve of a Woman's Arm. A frank discussion of a subject too often avoided." Including lines asking "Would you be absolutely sure of your daintiness?" and "Does excessive perspiration ruin your prettiest dresses?" The agressive campaigns by the Odorono Company, giving their address as Ruth Miller, The Odorono Co., 719 Blair Avenue, Cincinnati, Ohio, promised the "so simple, so easy, so sure" solution for that "problem", imaginary or real.

Please read the entirety of my article on Fragrantica.

Guerlain Meteorites Le Parfum re-issue (2018): fragrance review & comparison with vintage

Tempus fugit and with it tastes change. This is the contemplative conclusion I arrive to from comparing my vintage, original Guerlain Météorites Eau de Toilette (2000) bottle and the re-issued limited edition Météorites Le Parfum (also an eau de toilette) sample I just got. There is no accounting for the huge shift that has happened in the last 18 years and not just at Guerlain. If only by looking upon the chasm between the launch of both I realise I'm getting old; imagine, I had bought the original back then. And undoubtedly a part of my disenchantment with the new has to do with that comparison.

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The new fragrance bears little relation to the old powdery floral version, although that's not programmatically a bad thing; one has to stay open for modern masterpieces and the polishing of older concepts being elegantly successful after all. Keeping one's self open for pleasant surprises is the essence of youth. In this case nevertheless it makes for a newer scent that's rather limp-wristed, a bit of a wallflower. Don't get me wrong, it's very pretty, but it could never conjure either retro glamour (like the Guerlain Météoritespowder beads themselves do), or nostalgic reminiscences about women in one's past. It's as if a girl is playing with her mock tea set.

Guerlain Météorites Le Parfum is quite the girly scent, upbeat, with a fruity-floral opening that's like apple-scented shampoo dissipating very quickly, and a rosier tint than its predecessor overall. The violet is present, though it feels more like the refreshing violet leaf we come across in scents like L'Eau de Cartier and Goutal's La Violette than sweetened Parma violets; this violet has a rather mineral feel about it and a flanking of clean musk for whisper soft longevity on the skin.

Thierry Wasser succeeded into translating the retro vintage vibe of the beloved Météorites powder pearls into a contemporary soft clean fragrance and in that no one can't fault him. Indeed the re-issue of Météorites Le Parfum feels like a composition which would equally make the scent of a posh shampoo, which is half the market right now. It's no coincidence that it's accompanying a seasonal makeup collection; it feels a bit of a prop rather than a mainstay in the line.
It's very pretty and very safe, people that feel chocked by powder would probably get lots of mileage out of it, wearing it in the office and on afternoon shopping sprees. People who would expect the heliotrope-violet powder that characterises some of the classic compositions of the historic house, such as Apres l'Ondee and L'Heure Bleue, on the other hand, will be rather let down. Which is rather odd considering Guerlain is well aware that the powdery sweetness of its classics is covetable, judging by their Secrets de Sophie and various incarnations...But it's all down to the times they're a-changin' I guess.

The re-issue of Guerlain's Météorites Le Parfum eau de toilette (2018) is at the time of writing available at Neiman Marcus, the Guerlain boutique at Las Vegas and Place Vendome Haute Parfumerie online.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine:

Top Violet Fragrances by Type
Powdery and Dry Fragrances: Definition and Materials
Parfums Lingerie: Intimate Femininity

Monday, April 30, 2018

Vintage Powder Glamour - Guerlain Meteorites: fragrance review

Although most powders are scented with rose and iris to give a feminine impression that would tie with the intended audience (women who groom themselves with gusto), some brands do manage to render editions beyond the lovely into the cult. One such brand has been Guerlain. For their Météorites range of powders they rendered a compact or loose powder product into the innovative notion of small caked beads that one dips a fluffy brush on and then smooths on the face and decolletage. The product has been a hit for its velvety, subtly illuminating effect that never looks dried out, but, crucially, also for its unique and beguiling scent.

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The idea translated well in a separate fragrance for perfuming one's self with the lovely scent of those powdery beads the Météorites. And thus Météorites eau de toilette by Guerlain was born in 2000.

The predictable rose scent that lives in lipsticks and powders is here eschewed for violet, which is the predominant note of the fragrance. The intermingling with dry orris effects gives a starchy quality to vintage Météorites, it's the way I imagine rice powders completely devoid of talc from another era should have smelled. It gives me a totally groomed feel, not only the sense of cleanliness and dryness, but thanks to its retro violet vibe it's rather coy too, almost genuinely shy. This is a quality which I find fascinating, exactly because shyness doesn't come across as exhibiting its nature, and because in feminine iconography it's so often caricatured into a manipulating coyness.

Furthermore, the vintage fragrance is expounding on one of the signature notes in the Guerlain canon: heliotrope. The almondy, fluffy, powdery sweet smell of heliotropin (also used in mimosa scents) immediately recalls the hint of the patisseries that many Guerlain perfumes possess. L'Heure Bleue and Après L'Ondée are both characterized by it, and though they both lean towards melancholia in their wistful tension, the rapport with Météorites is another story. In the latter the warmth of heliotrope and the coyness of the violet note are allied into giving a newly found serenity. The drydown is soft and clean with notes of musky warmth. It's powder but more contemporary than L'Heure Bleue's powder. One of the few vintages that can be effortlessly worn as if it weren't. As silky nevertheless as being powdered with those large, goose down puffs we only see on film these days...

The vintage Météorites is retro like Parma violets, but not difficult to wear at all. It's subtle, yet lasts well. It's rather simple, but it's not simplistic. I genuinely like it very much.

The company has just launched a new limited edition fragrance (alongside their spring 2018 makeup collection) called Guerlain Météorites Le Parfum reissue 2018 with a different formula that leans more fruity floral. Read the comparison of the vintage Meteorites perfume with the new HERE.

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