Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Twin Peaks ~Barbara Bui Le parfum & Rykiel Woman-not for men!

When Barbara Bui had first released her boutique-exclusive scent Le Parfum, little did I know of it. In fact if I am to be completely honest I admit I had been oblivious to its very existence up until a short while before its discontinuation. You can call this DPSS: Delayed Perfume Sniffing Syndrome. It’s the thing that happens when you delay to test something only to discover with dismay that you like it well enough when it is too late to purchase some in a relatively easy way that doesn’t involve jumping through hoops.

Le Parfum was a beautiful scent. It’s also sadly discontinued. You have to hunt the auctions to get it. Why this happened is a mystery worth of a Ruth Rendel denouement. But happily there is a comparable perfume that although not exactly a copycat or dupe, it possesses the best characteristics of Barbara Bui’s fragrance for those who enjoyed it and in my humble opinion it is even better in some ways to it. It’s no coincidence that both were composed by nose Anne Flipo (of L’artisan La Chasse aux Papillons fame). Perfume Shrine had been the first one to report this on the ever popular Makeupalley site back in the beginning of 2006.
I am referring of course to Sonia Rykiel Woman-not for men! Yes, the exclamation point is there on purpose, it’s not intended to be a comment on the writer’s part. I guess the makers want to emphasize that it is a feminine potion and bet on the alluring vibe this has on the female sensibility. At this point it is important to note that the comparison is for the original Eau de parfum concentration in the purple and black bottle, cap with bronze studs like the hardware of a trendy it-bag, because the newer eau de toilette in the pink bottle is a completely different scent that is veering more to the fruity floral way to perdition. Personally I have come to expect a lot from Sonia Rykiel and the latter interpretation left me a little bit disappointed. As did Belle en Rykiel {click for review} up to a certain extent; which is a decent scent that does not commit the cardinal sin of smelling like a myriad other things. Perhaps I was a bit demanding. Anyway... Rykiel Woman-not for men! in the eau de parfum concentration has really captured a soft spot in my heart that is hard for other contestants to shake.

Barbara Bui Le Parfum is creamier, focusing on the inherent smoothness of sandalwood that smothers the smoky incense note, rendering it warm and powdery soft, the complete antithesis of churchy smell that usually gets associated with incense. The sweet vanillic aroma of heliotropin rounds out the base. This is a fragrance for the boudoir, a tight microfiber teddy over an ample bosom, much like another soft smoky specimen, the indomitable Fifi, although there we have a blond tobacco smoking bombshell in textured lace. Despite the official proclaiming of Bui containing undefined spices, I do not detect much of any but rather a citrusy top.

In contrast, Rykiel Woman-not for men! opens with the piquant pink pepper note that has proven to be an early 2000s mega success as it is used in many compositions lending them its contrasting cool-warm palette that serves to bring to focus the rest of the composition as a counterpoint; pink pepper is a bit rosy, which makes it subtler than the regular varieties of black or white pepper. Pepper in general is a fascinating note that may make or ruin a scent, due to its sheer potency.
But like Mae West when it’s good it’s very, very good and when it’s bad it’s even better! Meaning when pronounced it has the ability to grab you by the nose and make you pay attention. In tandem with the leathery/oud and musky fond surfacing pretty soon, Rykiel Woman-not for men! smells a little rougher than its sister scent. But perhaps this is why I love it so! The leathery/suede note is completely modern, recalling neither the classic Cuir de Russie versions with their tarry aspect, nor the Spanish leathers of intense pungency and spiciness. It is smooth and nubuck-like-soft, making it extremely wearable. As the perfume dries down softness and restrained sweetness surface, bringing it closer to Barbara Bui, especially in its incense smokiness with a hay-like powderiness. It stays like this on skin for hours, bringing forth all kind of compliments from “you smell goooood” to naughty winks.
Grab it now before they discontinue it too!

Barbara Bui Le Parfum notes:
spices, incense, jasmine, musk, amber, sandalwood, heliotrope, cedar.
Rykiel Woman-not for men (EDP) notes:
pink pepper, violet, date, jasmine petals, Bulgarian rose, black pepper, olibanum, agarwood, leather, amber.

Sonia's Rykiel Woman-not for men! is available from major department stores and online.

More surprises and exciting features on the Shrine coming up soon!!

Pic of twins by Diane Arbus via Transidex. Pic of Barbara Bui from their site. Pic of Rykiel Woman from escentual


  1. Anonymous19:17

    As I have not tried these, I can only comment upon your writing, which has thrilled me since discovering your blog a couple of weeks ago. The historical knowledge brought together--say, on Dior and chypres--had entranced. Thank you for the work. You have a devoted follower.

  2. A little comment about Rykiel Woman -- Not for Men! : I believe the scent was launched at the time when Nathalie, the designer's daughter, decided to launch a little corner for sex toys in the lingerie/loungewear Rykiel store. The brand of apparel is called Rykiel Woman. The shop had "not for men" on the door and windows, to stress the fact that there was a mini sexshop for women (although men were of course allowed and often came to buy gifts). Hence the name of the scent.

  3. Nice touch, Denyse !

    I missed the Bui boat-
    But the Rykiel Woman is a big go-to for me-
    I just gave it to a dear friend for her birthday.

    [Don't you LOVE Diane Arbus' work ?
    I used to know some of the folk she photographed.]

  4. Anonymous10:19

    Sex toys?

    *splutters into coffee*

    I've not sniffed either of these but am determined to now, wondrous Hellenic helg.

  5. Dear Catherine,
    thank you for your most kind commentary and welcome to the Shrine. We worship our scents and scent-Gods here! :-)

    And well, history is dear to my heart of course ;-)

  6. D,
    I had heard about it ;-)
    I was told it is downstairs and the bestseller is animal-shaped!

    Glad to know it's not some urban legend and the added info that the name is indeed derived thus :-)

  7. Dear I,

    your friend is lucky to have you as a friend, bearing fragrant gifts.

    And you knew people Arbus phtographed? Very interesting! She had quite a keen, intelligent eye...

  8. L, dear, please do!
    They're quite good (if only Bui is perhaps a little too feminine).


  9. Anonymous15:06

    dear helg,
    i kind of re-discovered your blog (i knew it before but somehow forget about it *shame on me*...) when i was searching for more information about dior frags & was so pleased by your reviews!
    i don´t know barbara bui nor sonia rykiel not for men!, but wanted to test the discontinued bui scent for quite a while.
    now that i read sonia rykiel´s EdP is similar, i´m really thinking about purchasing unsniffed (found an inexpensive offer on ebay).
    i´m really looking foward to reading more of your reviews :)

  10. Dear Malena,

    thanks for coming back to the Shrine and am I happy you're pleased with what you find here!
    Unsniffed purchases are a little risky of course (especially as you haven't tested the referenced smell alike), but since it's a steal, good luck! Hope you like it. (if not, I'd be happy to take it off your hands)

    I promise I won't disappoint you.
    Looking forward to your comments.

  11. Anonymous20:45

    I just want to say, that Le Parfum is really great. My girlfriend was using it and the price is very good. Good luck with your blog – it encludes very interesting articles.

  12. Thank you Stroblowski for your compliment and glad you enjoyed Le Parfum.

  13. Anonymous14:52

    I liked the description of Rykiel Woman - not for men! and bought it unsniffed. I love it! Even if it does remind one of rubber and leather ;-)

  14. i just wanted to thank you for your excellent reviews. i just bought the sonia rykiel woman-not for men, unsniffed based on your review. you nailed it! i love this fragrance, it was exactly what i hoped for. thanks!

  15. Anon,

    thanks for commenting, glad you liked it! And yes, it's a bit....fetishy! ;-)

  16. Gina,

    you're most welcome and wow, I'm glad to inspire successful unsniffed purchases!! I know it's difficult to gauge how something smells based only on words.
    Enjoy!! And thanks for commenting. :-)


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