Sunday, February 12, 2017

Diptyque Philosykos: fragrance review

For reasons not very difficult to parse Diptyque's Philosykos is one of my favorite summer perfumes and any time I want to be eased into a warm weather reverie that comes replete with siestas under a generously shady tree and the smell of its dusty foliage and warm, solidly dependable bark, I reach out my hand for it. The idea of spraying Philosykos on one's self is of course synonymous with the elation conferred upon thee on a hot summer's day. But one trip to rainy Ulm, Germany, convinced me of the unsung merits of Diptyque's iconic fragrance at times of melancholy as well.


Right when the weather was gloomy over the muddy Danube, when the downcast skies of lead threatened with more rain and more desperation of the particular kind that an endless Sunday afternoon cooped up in a small room spells out, I reached in my handbag for olfactory solace. Restricted from airport travel regulations my stash regretably had to remain back home: frustration! But a couple of trusty solids had piggybacked themselves, stacked upon each other. Among them Philosykos, the lover of figs.

And lo and behold, an ordinary yet scenic scenery, like that in mount Pelion which inspired it, unfolded beneath my eyes upon it melting on my wrists. A stone-built cottage with grey-taupe stone roof tiles shimmering in the scorching August sun. A tiny cistern with a bucket going down for watering and the cicadas singing incessantly in the still of noon. The sweetish mix of dust, earth, milky coconut odour off the barks, crackling and oozing fragrant resin, and two small children running down the slope to the boardwalk towards the sea. "Wait for me Alexander! Just wait!"

It's home away from home.

Friday, February 3, 2017

L'Occitane en Province Fleurs de Cerisier (Cherry Blossom): fragrance review

Nothing could be further apart than the vivacious, gregarious ways of the Greeks and the orderly, over-refined ways of the Japanese celebrating "sakura", the ephemeral beauty of the blossoming cherry trees. And yet, in the transience of "we live only once", I can find all the inherent melancholy of Greek philosophy.
Life is transcient. It slips through the fingers like sand on an empty shore sometime in late September when the days draw shorter and the chill rises off the sea at dusk.

via Pinterest

Cherry blossom fragrances therefore greet me with the conundrum of transient joy over fruitful outcome. I picked this jammy-smelling scent by L'Occitane because it encapsulates disparate elements of the delight in the ephemeral: a touch of rain, a hint of apples and melons to come, peppery jolt in the air, the lingering aftertaste of cherry jam when the jar has been emptied...

Like Henry Miller said "the scent of playing [with a particular part of the female anatomy] on one's fingers is all the more beautiful after the fact because it carries the memory of the finished fact". I am paraphrasing. But you get my point.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely: fragrance review

Few fragrances boast their very definition in their name, unless they're programmatic, but so few celebrity scents are anyway. Lovely is really lovely and it earns brownie points for being launched by a celebrity that actually gives a darn about fragrance instead of seeing it as a personal brand: the perfume-obsessed Sarah Jessica Parker.


Inspired by her love for mixing high-school staple Bonne Belle Skin Musk and an Egyptian-style musk oil bought from street vendors (rumor has it that it's the same that the late Carolyn Bessete Kennedy wore) with a "smoky" incense-patchouli-woods from Japanese avant-garde brand Comme des Garcons (Avignon actually), Jessica Parker didn't really get her way in terms of Lovely imposing a challenging concept in actual market terms. That's if we are to go by Chandler Burr's account, who chronicled the story of the creation in the book "The Perfect Scent".

Yet she managed to get the perfect "go anywhere" woody floral musk scent, with a fine trail of lavender (and a hint of rose?) mid-evolution, that can't help but put that expression on your face when both lips and crow's feet lines smile into "ah, loooovely!"

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Fendi Theorema: fragrance review

Now that perfumer Christine Nagel is at the helm of Hermès, looking back on her work for various brands reveals her core aesthetics; at once saturated and filled with light, like a Joseph M.W. Turner painting that foreshadows what's to come, namely Impressionism. Judging by her newest Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate and Galop, this heftiness-shot-with-brightness continues the sun path to its natural apex.


With Fendi's Theorema, Italian for theorem, a proposition that has been proven to be true based on previously established statements, Nagel has taken a theme and brought it into its culmination. Namely the "Oriental perfume" that feels as comforting as nibbling chocolate by the fire, while at the same time retaining the plush luxury and sophistication that a proper womanly perfume fit for the salon should exude.

Fendi's Theorema, inexplicably discontinued much too soon (at least before the brand discontinued its entire line in order to bring out the newest project on the shelves) and at least as clamored for a resurrection as Laura Biagotti's Venezia, opens with the delectable alliance of orange and chocolate. The effect of the former is apparently accounted by two unusual citruses: tangelos and thai samuti. The chocolate is folded with sweet spices, amber and warm milky woods, such as sandalwood and rosewood; there's none of the austerity that woody notes usually provide. A touch of a classic, orientalized bouquet of flowers (orange blossom, ylang ylang, jasmine) gives just a tinge of ladylike proclivities. But Theorema is too good to stay on the ladies alone...and is extremely ripe for a resurrection as well.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Oriflame Mirage: fragrance review

One of the few and far in between fragrances composed by Françoise Caron for Oriflame (as per the company's official info), Mirage had the stunning visuals to turn heads even before smelling its intense "magical broth" scent. The intensely green bottle and the red-haired heroine representing it, dressed in emerald flowing gowns (red enhancing the green) had me salivating even before holding the lovely rollerball vials they used to make and trying it on my own skin with all the apprehension reserved for ritualized experiences.

This most striking of colors, green being the color of horror movies and sorceresses' brews, is taken for a wild ride in Mirage. The peppery, mysterious and lush smell of vetiver and sticky, sweetly spicy peppery resins engulf its core of dark, gothic rose with thorns attached. One can almost feel the ache of those "pricked thumbs" and the foreboding of [the] "wicked [which] our way comes" as per Macbeth's second witch's famous lines. But unlike Lady Macbeth you won't long to wash it off your hands, if it catches your heart. And it very well might, unless you're of the gourmands and fruity florals brigade, in which case step away like hordes of Huns are stampeding down your path.

Unusual for Oriflame fragrances Mirage was very potent and with a high sillage, making it a true love-it-or-hate-it perfume. And I say "was" because it is discontinued. In the hopes of having it re-introduced, even under another name, I am writing this elegy of its emerald-hued heart of darkness.

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