Friday, July 31, 2009

Pheromone-ladden Body Washes and the Myth of Cumin as Related to Sweat

"Body washes, cosmetics, perfumes, and more all boast of their pheromone contents. There’s just one problem: There is no scientific evidence that people produce or respond to pheromones at all, or that dabbing them on will make you more attractive to potential mates.
This dearth of scientific evidence didn’t dissuade Dial, however. The soap-maker recently released a “pheromone-infused” body wash, then held a speed-dating “experiment” in which nine blindfolded women had to choose between nine men (some had used the wash, some hadn’t) they would go out with in order to 'prove' the wash worked" [...] “We don’t claim using our product you’re going to hit a home run,” said Ryan Gaspar, a [Dial] brand manager. “We say, ‘We’ll get you to first base'." Read the whole article on Discoblog from Discover Magazine.

On the other hand, and far from the lathering board, cumin, an oriental spice of most often Turkish production, has been inumerable times linked to the scent of sweat on online fora and communities. The source of this rumour has been firstly the use of the cumin spice in many classic French perfumes which have a slightly "dirty" undertone starting with Roudnitska creations, the re-issued Femme by Rochas and numerous Jean Claude Ellena compositions; and secondly a quote from the book by Chandler Burr where he likens the smell of cumin to female sweat. Researchers at Firmenich however have disagreed: men's sweat smells of cheese and female sweat smells of onions, according to their research in their Swiss laboratories.

According to an article at the New Scientist: "[...]research in Switzerland involved taking armpit sweat samples from 24 men and 25 women after they had spent time in a sauna or ridden an exercise bike for 15 minutes. The researchers found marked differences in the sweat from men and women. "Men smell of cheese, and women of grapefruit or onion," says Christian Starkenmann of Firmenich, a company in Geneva that researches flavours and perfumes for food and cosmetics companies. The team found that the women's armpit sweat contained relatively high levels of an odourless sulphur-containing compound - 5 milligrams per millilitre of sweat versus 0.5 milligrams in men" , making female perspiration the more "unpleasant" one. Sulphur-rich materials include onions, garlic and grapefruit (which is why so often grapefruit scents can turn "garlicky" and sour on many women). The female sweat had ten times the level of an odorless sulphur-containing compound than men. It turns out that when this ingredient interacts with bacteria present in the axilla, it creates a chemical called thiol—which is the cuplrit for smelling like onions. Men had increased levels of an odorless fatty acid, which gives off a cheesy smell once it mixes with the armpit bacteria.

Incidentally experiements as to the attractive properties of androstenone secreted into male sweat have proven that clean sweat from men at a reproductive age is considered attractive to a substantial segment of the screening subjects.
Your cumin-containing fragrances can be absolved, ladies!!

Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) however is a fascinating material for perfumery indeed: almost green and aromatic on one end, very warm and aniseed-faceted on the other end. It is no wonder that Pharaohs, ancient Greeks and Romans all prized it for its rich aroma and its stabilising aromatherapy properties. One imaginative tradition wants newlyweds sharing a cumin-laced tisane as a means to ensure stability in their marriage.
The oil comes from steam distillation of the dried and ground seeds of the small annual plant that blossoms at the border of the Mediterranean, in China, and in India (the latter is the largest provider of black cumin, a more powerful variant from Northern Kashmir, which is prized in North Indian dishes and is frequently featured in the Garam Marsala sweet spice mix). It is frequently featured in men's perfumes to offset lighter notes and it imparts a wonderful carnality in feminine fragrances. It being a great divider, however, several people find a prominent note of cumin too foody or too "dirty", so sampling is definitely recommended for the following list of fragrances containing it.

Please also refer to my What are Animalic & "Skanky"-Called Fragrances Anyway article for more details. 

Notable Perfumes Containing Cumin (with an asterisk, when prominent):
Links below redirect to full reviews
Alexander Mac Queen Kingdom (*)

Amouage Jubilation 25 (*)
Aramis Havana for MenAramis Tuscany Forte (*)
Bobo Dinner (*)
Bond No.9 Andy Warhol's Lexington Avenue

Cartier Déclaration (*)
Eau DynamisanteComme des Garcons Stephen Jones
Comme des Garcons 2 (*)
D&G 11 La Force

Dior Diorella (*)
Dior Jules (*)

Diptyque L'Autre (*)
Frapin Caravelle Epicée

Frapin Terre de SarmentGiorgio Beverly Hills Red for Men
Gucci Eau de Parfum I (2002, brown juice, square bottle) (*)
Hermès Eau d'Hermès (*)
Histoires des Parfums 1876Jacques Fath Green WaterJean Paul Gaultier Le MâleKenzo Jungle L'Eléphant (*)
Le Labo Rose 31
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue pour le Soir (*)
Parfum d'Empire Aziyadé
Patricia de Nicolai Vétyver
Penhaligon's Amaranthine (*)
Ralph Lauren
PoloRalph Lauren Polo CrestRochas Femme ~NB. the reformulated 80s version (*)
Serge Lutens Arabie

Serge Lutens Chêne
Serge Lutens El Attarine (*)
Serge Lutens Fleurs d'Oranger (*)
Serge Lutens Serge Noire (*)
The Different Company Rose Poivrée ~NB.before the latest 2008 reformulation (*)
Vero Profumo RubjVersace White JeansYves Saint Laurent YvressePic via

Daphne by Daphne Guinness: new celebrity scent

Daphne Guinness, an extraordinary clothes-horse always immaculately decked in high heels and designer attire is launching her eponymous scent, called Daphne. Another celebrity scent you might say, and after news of the new Amy Winehouse project we revealed a few days ago, one can expect anything, yet this one presents something unusual (and might I say without jinxing it, optimistic):

"She has created a perfume in collaboration with Comme des Garcons, called Daphne, which is launching in store next month. She has been perfecting her own scent for years, and obviously quite successfully too as she claims that taxi drivers regularly ask her what she's wearing. So why has she always been so interested in perfume? ‘It's very difficult to describe in words. It's a mystery....Sometimes when you fall in love with people, you actually fall in love with their smell.' Daphne says that she likes a ‘woodsy and kind of jasmine-y, tuberose-y, sort of thing'. (quote via

I recall how Carolina Herrera, the famous designer, was saying how her personal mix of jasmine and tuberose essences had the New York City taxi drivers enslaved, prompting her to commission her first Herrera feminine fragrance (the one in the white box with gold dots), so I have some hope for the new Daphne, coupled with Guinness's own dramatic and arresting style. At any rate, we will see how it plays out in about a month's time.

Pic of Daphne Guinnes via single & fabulous blog and of bottle via

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Basenotes Goes in Print

Award-winning online fragrance resource is celebrating its 10th birthday by launching a print version of its fragrance consumer website. The magazine will contain the news, reviews and interviews that have helped become the long-standing website of choice amongst consumers and industry professionals alike and will also feature completely new and original content.
London, England July 30, 2009 -- has been the destination for fragrance enthusiasts and industry professionals for ten years. Now all of the news, consumer reviews, award-winning editorial and interviews with top industry names will be available in a print magazine. There will also be completely original regular features that will be exclusive to the magazine.
Basenotes International Fragrance Quarterly The magazine will published on a quarterly basis at a cover price of $6 an issue and will be available via online subscriptions from
Site founder Grant Osborne says: "For a long time now people have been asking why there is not a magazine for fragrance lovers. You can find many magazines for such a wide variety of hobbies these days yet still nothing for the fragrance enthusiast. We have 20,000 visitors every day so we know that there is interest and we thought we could use the experience and relationships that we have cultivated over the past decade to bring a lively and dedicated magazine to the consumers and industry people that have been such loyal users of the site."
For the time being you can download a sampler using this link.
Pic & info via press release

Roundup of upcoming mainstream releases for the new season

Niche offerings from Divine and new launches from Lutens are all very well, but sometimes one wonders what little treasures might be hidden at the aisles of Sephora or Macy's. So for your ease and aided by pics from, here is a roundup of the upcoming scents you will find come autumn in your local department store. Click the links for more information from our previous articles.

First in the list is the new spin on Paris by Yves Saint Laurent, Parisienne, fronted by Kate Moss. More info here. Launches widely starting 17th August in Europe.

Eau Méga by Viktor & Rolf is the newest creation of the cutting-edge designing duo for which they conceived the megamizer (it's a giga atomiser, don't get overexcited) for a composition green and fresh encompassing notes of violet leaf, green basil, pear, peony, jasmine sambac, Italian citron, cedar and casmeran (a smooth wody-musky aroma-chemical)
Prices: 52€ for 30ml, 72€ for 50ml, 90€ for 75ml) Launches in October in Europe.

Lolita Lempicka after the flanker to L de Lolita Fleur de Corail is issuing a new feminine, tagged Si Lolita. A creamy, sensuous spicy floral, it is orchestrated around the lily-of-the-valley note with bergamot, pink pepper, mandarin, clove, heliotrope, elemi and amber notes around it. The bottle is shaped in a 4-leaf clover shape (or is it a butterfly?), perhaps in order to bring luck. Launches in August.

Issey Miyake is coming back with a fresh and casual composition in A Scent. Yes, the fragrance is called A Scent by Issey Miyake, you got it right. (got to give it to him, he insists on non-perfume-y names, probably because rumour has it that he is averse to fragrance himself). Hyacinth, galbanum, vervaine and jasmine should produce an easy formula for casual days. Launches on 24th August, but could be previewed starting 10 August at Galleries Lafayette.

31st August will see the secret of Givenchy, Ange ou Démon Le Secret, a flanker to their original Ange ou Démon. (of which you can read a review here). A watercolour impression is aimed for in this new version which is a luminous floral with notes of jasmine tea, Italian citron, cranberry, jasmine sambac, white peony, water flowers, blond woods and patchouli. The bottle reprises the familiar diamond shape of the original but in in a pink tint.

Ricci Ricci by Nina Ricci has the most adorable bottle I have seen in quite some time. If only the juice lives up to expectations and is as good as past glories...The press releases talks about an audacious woman (personally I find this in dissonance with the packaging, but this is only an opinion), while the formula will encompass rhubarb, bergamot, night queen flower, Indian tuberose, rose centifolia (May rose), patchouli and sandalwood. Official launch in France on 27th August. (Prices 41€ for 30ml, 59€ for 50 ml, 79€ for 80ml)

Giorgio Armani is launching Idole d'Armani at the end of August (official date in 26th August). Notes included are bitter orange, ginger, davana, rose loukoum, jasmine, saffron absolute, styrax, patchouli, vetiver. You can read more info on this article.

Van Cleef & Arpels, the famous jewellers, are launching a collection of 6 scents, Extraordinaire. You can read more on this article. 130€ for 75ml and they will come out in September.

Finally Sensuous by Estée Lauder, a woody marketed to women, is coming to Europe in September after a successful year in the US market.

New Online Store

Those who have been following Andy Tauer's blog have noticed that a new collaboration has been secured with the very new Scent and Sensibility Perfume online store. Founded by Ronny, a devoted fragrance enthusiast for some time and a loyal reader of ours, it is based in the UK and hopes to provide shopping pleasure for all your niche needs. For the time being, you will find Tauer Perfumes, Lost'march, Hilde Soliani (I know several of you had been praying for something like this!) and I Profumi di Firenze. The inventory will augment day by day. We're wishing Ronny all the best!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Divine Eau Divine: exclusive fragrance preview & review

Smelling the newest Divine creation on my wrists, the unisex Murano-like in its translucence Eau Divine, puts me in the mood for the upcoming vacations which can't come soon enough as far as I am concerned. The niche house of Divine was founded in the elegant Edwardian resort of Dinard, on the north coast of Brittany, France, by perfumer Yvon Mouchel: imagine a brand that issues whatever they want, whenever they want, without following a marketing plan nor frantically paced releases one after the other, all sold in a tiny shop off the beaten track! The essence of niche. Slowly but surely word of mouth made his first creation, Divine by Divine, a mini-cult that had discerning women worldwide searching for it and ordering directly from them. But what made parfums Divine so sought after, aside from the ~well...~divine name? It's hard to put into words: There is an old Hollywood glamour, entrancing and at the same time a little decadent, emanating from them ~ these are potent, old-school perfume-y fragrances with often a characteristic aldehydic thread spun through them which would have both Norma Desmond pleased and Daisy from The Great Gatsby feel at ease. This dichotomy is at the heart of Divine creations: dark yet piquant, airy or deep, sexy and contemporaneously refined, they fuse contrasting elements into a delicate pirouette that no matter how hard to perform, it appears seamless.

Eau Divine is the 9th instalment in this tale but it effortlessly breaks loose into more casual arpeggios, without betraying the tune. "Crystalline, the first notes emerge : from the top, Eau Divine combines the green coolness of Italian citrus with the sparkle of spices: star anise, rose hip, ginger and nutmeg. The heart of the pyramid is more tender. Orange flower and sweet violet prolong the pure energy of the first moments for a while but then delicately induce the subtle opening of deep notes. White amber, hot musk and labdanum only then reveal their lingering and generous sensuality".
I always felt that the word of Jean Claude Ellena, "generous" while describing the cologne style prevalent in the Mediterranean countries, is superbly fitting to evoke the giving, pleasurable nature of this genre: There is a feeling of sentir bien dans sa peau (feeling good in one's skin) which such compositions instantly bring out, making me envision holidays at some seaside resort at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, white terry robes and turban-style towel on hair, diva sunglasses on minus the "bling", while eating a hearty breakfast with freshly squeezed citrus juice and grated ginger served on lots of ice, lounging by the pool where fetching cabana boys are furtively assisting in their tight Speedos. Yet there is a cerebral element about it all too (a little incensy depth and the coolness of violet leaves plus an aldehydic overlay), like London-based detective-fiction writer Samantha Morton (played by the divine Charlotte Rampling in Ozon's Swimming Pool) overcoming her writer's block at her editor's retreat at Southern France; or people-watching gorgeous triad Alain Delon, Romy Schneider and Jane Birkin torn between love and crime in La Piscine (1969).
Surprisingly for this kind of fragrance the lasting power of Eau Divine is excellent: put on in the evening after my bath, there were still remnants on my skin by the next morning!

Prices start at 50 euros for 30ml up to 145 euros for 200ml in various styles: splash, spray or refillable spray. There is also a different presentation for men or women despite the unisex character of the juice itself.
The Divine line includes 4 fragrances for women: the original Divine by Divine (floral animalic with a peachy heart and vintage feel), L'être Aimé Femme (aldehydic floral with a core of immortelle), L'inspiratrice (dark rose with patchouli), L'infante (green sweet white floral), L'âme soeur (aldehydic floral, powdery); and 3 fragrances for men: L'Homme de Coeur (aromatic woody with iris), L'être Aimé Homme (an ode to immortelle, aromatic herbs and exotic woods) and L'Homme Sage (spicy woody with saffron). Eau Divine is their first offering intended for both men and women.

Apart from their Dinard original boutique (and another two in Saint Malo and Caen, France) there is also one in Paris: DIVINE 3 rue Scribe 75009 Paris+33 1 40 06 03 14. Parfums Divine are now sold in London, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Roma, Warsaw, New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver. You can see details at their official site or order directly (they ship worldwide)
For our readers I have 5 Eau Divine samples to give away to try it out. Leave a comment stating your interest.

In the interests of full disclosure, I was sent the samples by parfums Divine
Charlotte Rampling pic via Clip of La Pascine (1969)originally uploaded by 1985nicole on Youtube

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Market news, luxury and tendencies July '09

The intricasies of the luxury market as attested through the beauty sector are unraveled into high-shine offices at corporate buildings. Yet, here at Perfume Shrine from time to time, we comment on those developments as a brief finger on the pulse of market tendencies, cautioning our readers on what to expect later on.

The latest news has Interparfums, makers of parfumes for Burberry, Lanvin and Christian Lacroix among others, announcing a 5% decline (amounting to 121,3 millions euros for the first semester of 2009 instead of the 273 millions anticipated for the whole year). A drop that is cutting the rise they had experienced in recent years. The case for Lacroix and his closing the house is of course well documented by now, with Bernard Krief Consulting a strong contestant till now and the recent Italian Borletti expressing a wish to buy it out. Even French minister Frédéric Mitterrand had expressed a desire to find a solution for the house, which during the 1980s had been one of the most influential in French fashion.

With that climate it makes for little surprise that there is a diminished interest in Lacroix perfumes; they were circulating through the Avon canal for a while, in a smart move to continue to be offered. Recent news however implicate Avon in letting go no less than 1200 employees, which bears ill forecasts on the future of Lacroix perfumes as well. Burberry represents 64% of the share of Interparfums and was looking relatively healthy till now, despite the 4% drop during the first trimester of 2009. They're even opening their biggest boutique in South-East Asia, the ION Orchard in Singapore, covering 815 square meters full of the British fashions of the historic brand.

Whatever the case is Interparfums and their head of affairs, Phillipe Benacin, are looking ahead at acquiring contracts with "well-known brands" and specializing at luxury. For some odd reason (or not so odd) the luxury market is withstanding the crisis, with Hermès opening their first boutique in Brazil next September, a project eagerly anticipated by the more affluent among the country's buyers. Then again, Hermès International has announced a turnover of even better than anticipated for the first semester of 2009! Their new Eau de Cologne collection is rekindling interest and they have salvaged their luxury image unscathed.
The succession of Jane Lauder, 36, of her father Ronald, 65 into the head administartion consulting of Estée Lauder and their successful Private Collection trio, of which the latest instalment, the lovely nouveau chypre Jasmine White Moss, is a commercial and artistic success, shows that the old American brand is trying to monitor their drop of 10% in the last trimester.

As we had previously discussed in our Luxury Market amidst the Recession article, the only way for something to survive in the middle-market is to change market-point and look upwards into the higher echelons and the raised prices. Jean Claude Ellena had said it succinctly: "If you want luxury, you either increase the price or increase the size" and it seems like the perfume market has embraced the concept.

Still, in an unprecedented turn of events, Dolce & Gabbana decided recently to down-market (so to speak) their upcoming autumn and winter collections, especially the more mainstream and Jeans lines, by supressing costs that would be trickled down to the consumer's benefit, reflected into the price. What remains to be seen is what happens with their perfumes line. The latest Tarot-inspired anthology although eagerly anticipated and publisized as the new "niche" line within a brand seemed to take a page off Chanel looks-wise, but didn't really ripple the waters smell-wise.

Fast-fowarding to the future of marketing for beauty and perfumes, the experts at Carlin International predict a greater meshing of the olfactive orientation, fusing elements of masculine and feminine not only in the composition of the jus itself but also in the wording used in advertising and the packaging of perfumes, as well as cosmetics. Natural tones and an urban feel will be the new direction with futuristic shapes: The curvacous and the straight will be manipulated into hybrids of andogyny in the design and packaging of products, new shapes that play with our perception (Is it a shaving brush or a pinceau for applying blusher? Is it a razor or a device to apply foundation?) to help market perfumes and beauty paraphernalia to what has become a wide, unisex market. A brave new world, indeed!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles: fragrance review

Many summers ago I used to spend my days by the sea at my grandparents' villa, surrounded by majestic pines as old as the original tenants, numerous dusty fig-trees and one wild-pear tree which was later struck by lightning to ash. The wind was sighing in the boughs, a nightingale came to sit on my shoulder and the longings of those long summers promised adventures as yet uncharted, our psyche elevated through a taste of awe. The long pine needles were falling in heaps on the floor of this pine grove ~infuriating my grandfather who had to work doubly hard along with the gardener to keep the grass properly breathing~ counterpointing the mighty trunks, often bleeding tears of golden sticky resin used in both turpentine and retsina. This was different from the mastic and copal resins, which we grounded in fine dust, or the rosin, which I witnessed being used by the student of violin who routinely accompanied me at the piano at the Conservatoire. We were sent as children to gather fresh pine needles, run them through the cold water of the outdoors tap, gather them in bunches and hang them upside-down to dry: they would be stored to make herbal tea with honey to ward off colds, a tip of our German cleaning woman, when the summer villa would revert to its silent existence for half a year. Everything about those precious memories was conjured as soon as I heard of the newest Serge Lutens fragrance, Fille en Aiguilles and the reality of it didn't betray my visuals as some of you will find out for yourselves (yes, there's a draw for samples coming up, keep reading!)

The first announcement containing the notes had been the instigation, the second round of news with the cryptic messages by Serge had been the icing, as it left us with exactly nothing to go on upon ~the mystery was well preserved: this girl ~or boy, who could wear this equally well~ rolling on pincushions was not telling any tales just yet. The aiguilles part (“needles”) in the name has been linked to sewing needles (due to the French idiom "de fil en aiguille" meaning from needle to thread, from one thing to another, ie. snowballing), or stiletto heels ("talons aiguilles" in French) perhaps exactly because there was the "tick tick tick" repetitive sound in the press release. Still pine needles, those long thin lances that strew forest floors and exude their resinous, medicinal-sweet smell when the air is warm, are at the core of the composition rather than the ill-sitting, detergent-like tones of so much "pine"-baptized air pollution posing as home and car ambience.

In a nod to old empirics and apothecaries, who healed ills attributed by the superstitious ailing to supernatual forces or the wrath of God through folkore herb medicine and mysticism, uncle Serge acts as a shaman, letting out blood with his pine needle in his bag of seemingly endless tricks. In Alain Corbin's book "The Fragrant and the Foul" the theory of miasma is documented: the widespread belief that foul smells accounted for disease and therefore eradicating the bad smells would result in battling the disease (Incidentally there was also the widespread belief of bathing disrupting the protective mantle of the skin, but this is the focus of another of our articles). The practice has long ancentrastal ties to ritualistic cleansing via sulphur as depicted in antiquity, remnants of which are referenced here and there in Greek tragedy such as Euripides's Helen. Fire and brimstone led by a savant Theonoi goes far, far back...In the Middle-Ages during bouts of cholera, the plague and other miasmata, empirical healers used a large hollow beak stuffed with cleaning herbs so as to protect themselves, earning them the descriptor of "quack", which by association became synonymous with charlatan later on when the science of medicine prevailed. The word is of Dutch origin (kwakzalver, meaning boaster who applies a salve); boaster because quacks sold their folk medicine merchandise shouting in the streets.The belief in the magical properties of scented compounds runs through the fabric of fragrance history: let's cast our minds back to the alleged cure-all of Eau de Cologne by Johann Maria Farina and his imitators! But is perfume really snake-oil? Only to the extend which we allow it to be, yet there lies artfulness in the pharmacopoeia.

This particular catharctic blood-letting preceding the herbal ointment, forms a trickling kaleidoscope of the elements which Lutens has accustomed us to, via the sleight of hand of perfumer Christopher Sheldrake: There is the candied mandarin peel with its strange appeal of cleaner (La Myrrhe) and putrid aspects (Mandarine Mandarin), the fruits confits of his Bois et Fruits, the interplay of cool and hot of the masterful Tubéreuse Criminelle, the charred incense depths and fireworks of Serge Noire, the vetiver in Vétiver Oriental with a rough aspect peeking through and even some of the spice mix of El Attarine, appearing half poised between cumin and fenugreek. After the last, pretty and atypical for Lutens Nuit de Cellophane, Fille en Aiguilles is an amalgam of strange accords, a disaccord within itself, but with a compelling appeal that pleases me. Contrasting application techniques ~dabbing versus spraying~ I would venture that should you want the more camphoraceous elements to surface, spraying is recommended; while dabbing unleashes the more orientalised aspects. There is sweetness in the sense that there is sweetness in Chergui or Douce Amere, so don't let it scare you too much. The liquid in my bottle is wonderfully dark brown, somber yet incadecent in the light of the day and as dark as ink, much like Sarrasins, in the dusk of the evening (and be warned that it also stains fabric almost as much).

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles has notes of vetiver, incense, fruits, pine needles and spices in a luminous woody oriental formula.
Available in the oblong export bottles of 50 ml/1.7oz of Eau de Parfum Haute Concentration for 95 € /140$ at Paris Sephora and of course Le Palais Royal and later on at Selfridges UK, Aedes US, the Bay in Toronto and online.

For our readers, enter a comment to win one of the five samples given of the new fragrance well ahead of its wider distribution!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Serge Lutens news and reviews

Other reviews: Elisabeth de Feydeau, Grain de Musc, Perfume Posse.

Paintings by Colette Calascione, via

The winners for the draw...

...for the Crazy Libellule & the Poppies Les Garconnes crazy sticks are Proximity, The Scent Muse, and Rebella. Please mail me using the e-mail in profile with your info so I can get these out in the mail to you soon!

Thank you all for your wonderful ideas (I hope the company is taking notes, you outdid yourselves) and your enthusiastic participation and be prepared for the next one very shortly!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Penhaligon's Amaranthine: new fragrance

Bertrand Duchaufour, head perfumer at L'Artisan, has composed a new Penhaligon's fragrance after his collaboration with the British brand in their Anthology series (a 3-year spanning project that will include 12 fragrances in total).

Amaranthine means "unwithering" (from the Greek αμάραντη) and although the name would point to a flower that never wilts, the reality is a 'corrupted floral oriental' according to the press release, but from the notes listed the new feminine Eau de Parfum sounds more like a gourmand with floral notes with the stress on the milky ambience that surrounds it.
Indeed Amaranthine has top notes of green tea, white freesia, cardamom absolute; heart notes of carnation, rose and Egyptian jasmine absolute; and base notes of vanilla, tonka bean absolute, musk and sandalwood.

There will be a special limited edition flacon of Extrait de Parfum in 30ml/1oz costing £350 (depicted), alongside the standard 50ml/1.7oz and 100ml/3.4oz bottles of Eau de Parfum in the Penhaligon's familiar style. Official launch is set for October.

Guerlain Habit Rouge Sport: fragrance review

~by Mike Perez

There was a time when I hated any scent that smelled like powder. Powder smelled ‘cheap’ to me, which may seem odd since I love mint in fragrances and many people associate that with store bought toothpaste. Guerlain changed everything.

The first time I tried Habit Rouge (the Eau de Cologne) a couple years ago, I found myself for the first time in love with a powdery fragrance. Also slightly dusty; antiquated and gentle, like those photographic effects where an image has a soft, hazy glow all around the subject in the picture. I liked the effect (maybe it was the ‘Guerlainade’) and instantly thereafter found it easy to love Shalimar, Vol de Nuit, and Jicky - other wonderful powdery scents which are an acquired taste. I’m aware that many men (of differing ages) don’t agree with me and dislike Habit Rouge. Nonetheless, wearing a popular fragrance has never been essential to me. Therefore, you might say, Habit Rouge is an important fragrance to me.

This year (March 2009) Guerlain released Habit Rouge Sport, the 2nd flanker to the 1965 fragrance (the first was 2005’s Habit Rouge Light/Légère) which joined the many formulations of the original: Eau de Cologne, Eau de Cologne Dry, Eau de Toilette, Eau de Parfum, After Shave and Extrait/Parfum. I instantly disliked the name: Habit Rouge Sport. Why not just call it Habit Rouge Arctic Rush? Still, I was excited to smell how Guerlain would interpret Habit Rouge, into a ‘sport’ fragrance.

Oddly, the way Habit Rouge Sport opens up on skin, in the top notes, has absolutely nothing in common with the original. A very sturdy and synthetic fresh note both sharp (aldehydes?) and bright, is the first thing you’ll smell – not citrus, which when it arrives later isn’t very lemon prominent at all. The smell is piercing and I strongly advise you carefully sniff your skin closely upon application. Based on first impressions, I was initially instantly dissatisfied. Subsequent wearings have perhaps made it less shocking, but no less disappointed with the cheap-room-freshener sharpness.

The jasmine floral accord in HRS arrives after the fragrance warms on skin. A very transparent jasmine, similar to those used in designer feminines (Blush by Marc Jacobs, 24 Faubourg Eau Délicate by Hermès). Simple florals that lie on top of the aforementioned fresh and synthetic top notes, giving the scent a varnished surface effect. The plastic floral effect (Nappe Rouge [Red Tablecloth] Sport?) is probably due to the leather notes (a nod to the original scent) but which in Habit Rouge Sport has no solid citrus / oriental structure to blend with.

Saddened, I hoped it might progress in a pleasing way – Guerlain fragrances are appreciated for their intricate and satisfying dry downs. But no. It evolves into a synthetic woody / vanilla musk (annoyingly safe and conservative and miles away from Guerlainade) that extends the sturdy fresh notes for 4-5 hours before it disappears.

I’ve smelled synthetic notes, used unskillfully here-and-there is a few select Guerlain scents (Heritage (the EdT); Aqua Allegoria Laurier-Reglisse) and I’ve smelled shampoo-underarm-deodorant-esque fresh accords also (Guerlain Homme) – but I’ve never smelled the combination of both effects in a Guerlain masculine.

I wore it several times before writing this review – each time I patiently awaited the scent to evolve differently on me. It never happened. I have the strong feeling this scent was not created for Habit Rouge fans like me, but rather for those who have never smelled or are unfamiliar with the original. If so, how sad? Kind of like a cocktail party I’ve attended: I am the unpopular bookworm kind-of- guy, over in the corner all by myself and no one paying attention to me - while on the other side of the room everyone is crowded around the new-in-town, handsome, popular jock in his tight red shirt.
Habit Rouge Sport is available at select Guerlain boutiques and Bergdorf Goodman. A 100 ml atomizer bottle (red glass, with a silver cap) is $92.

The notes for Guerlain Habit Rouge Sport are: citron vert, bitter orange, pink pepper, bamboo, jasmine, leather, vanilla and patchouli.

Images via M.Perez

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Work your signature scent to become unforgettable

In a fun little article in College News about 5 ways to become unforgettable (I am assuming positively and to a certain someone which you want to romantically involve) there is this nifty bit of advice on how to manipulate fragrance into the equation. In fact it is on the very very top, being advice #1. We wouldn't have guessed for the world!
Here it is:
"Too much: Layering to the point of eye-watering pungency. Layer, yes, but don’t saturate yourself in the scent to a fault. At a certain point, it’s just going to burn their nostrils, which will result in you being the bad kind of “unforgettable.”
Just enough: Slather on some deliciously-scented lotion while you’re in the car, right as you’re about to go out and do dinner or a movie. The rush of fragrance in the small space will be enough to jolt his memory nicely. Plus, when you get back in the car, it will smell like you.
With that in mind, I recently read another great tip: spritz a little of your fave perfume on your bedroom light bulb, just a little, and the room will fill with your trademark scent. Finally, don’t be afraid to go outside the box for your perfume of choice. After all, the point is
to be memorable, not to smell like every other person on campus. Simple concoctions like cocoa butter or suntan lotion can be great scents. Likewise, sometimes a phenomenal-smelling shampoo is all you’ll need to make someone’s heart pound. "

Somehow ~and judging by being outside the target audience~ I find shampoo smells (as well as cocoa butter or suntan lotion) not nearly enough to make one's heart pound for very long, but what do I know? I wasn't around when a specific green shampoo was all the rage.
Tell us if you have any "simple" scents that have had someone special go amok about it!

Amy Winehouse stinks up a storm?

"Amy Winehouse is reportedly eyeing a deal with a perfume house to launch a range under her name. The singer was said to looking to bag a deal worth more than 750,000 dollars under the guidance of her father, Mitch" according to the Indian Express. “They want it to reflect her style with a classic smoky 1950s look and smell. Amy is keen to expand her brand and wants to latch on to the celeb perfumes bandwagon while she can". The news is also broadcasted on Starpulse Entertainment news. The initial reportage is owed to The Daily Star, but in a world when porn stars have issued their own celebrity scents, a (talented, if troubled) singer's juice doesn't seem as far fetched.
Will it be "Eau de Funk" like reported on Ear Sucker? "A namless {sic} industry insider seems to agree with me saying: “Frankly, she doesn’t look like she smells that nice, so doing some positive publicity to prove it doesn’t just smell of stale booze and fags would be vital.” according to

The "while she can" line sounds a little desperate...even if 50s fragrances are indeed often an affair of booze and cigarette smoke, let me remind the nameless industry insider.

At any rate, for her sake, I hope this move (if confirmed) is the nudge to tilt her out of the downward spiral of dependency...

What would you like to see featured in Amy's scent? Or which celebrity (who hasn't yet) would you like to see launching a fragrance?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Nina Ricci Coeur Joie: fragrance review & history

My maternal grandmother had a Louis XVI vanity with silk damask that had a interlay of glass vitrine within the wood panel back, behind which small precious flacons from Paris hid. They seemed to flirt with each other at nights and I imagined them having spirited conversations when I was little. The square-shouldered Balmain extrait was the masculine counterpoint leaning seductively close to the smoothly countoured L'Air du temps and close to them a bottle of Coeur Joie seemed to proclaim by its very name the romanticism which those perfumes aimed to provoke. Perfume was a reverie back then, a daydream and a longing, more than a mere accessory and my grandmother brought them all to life.
I was watching an Angela Lansbury film, in which she travelled to Paris and had a gown made at the famous Nina Ricci atelier and what stayed was the palpable feeling of her intoxication of becoming another person through this chrysallis transformation; or rather the person which she used to be as a young girl; optmistic and hopeful, before the vagaries of life had crushed her dreams. In retrospect I believe Coeur Joie would have been an excellent scent choice to accompany this elegant vision! Its understated luxury of its feminine bouquet of subdued, cooly whispering flowers transports us into an early evening reverie someplace where Chopin Nocturnes can be heard through ajar French windows and ball-gowned debutantes are casting their dreams on the flip of a wrist during a waltz.

Robert Ricci, the son of fashion designer Nina Ricci and head of development at parfums Ricci, took an unconventional approach when visualising how he wanted Coeur Joie to be, the first Nina Ricci perfume to diversify from clothing, in 1946. Despite it being a creation of Germaine Cellier, a perfumer with a daring and unapologetic streak of rebellion, then working at the famous Roure company, this Ricci perfume comes off as a comparatively soft fragrance; delicate and low-key floral, with an elegant polish rendering it suitable for a Grace Kelly type rather than the more daring amazones of Cellier's. Germaine Cellier was quite formidable herself, a great beauty of alleged lesbian tendencies, smoking a chimney, eating garlic with other famous couturiers, violently clashing with Roure's acclaimed perfumer Jean Carles, briefly acting as a functional scents composer for Colgate-Palmolive soaps (a stint which lasted but three months) and gingerly mixing perfumers' "bases" wondoursly resulting into stunning compositions such as the first "green" fragrance (the galbanum-souled Vent Vert), the knife-scathing outlaw of Bandit with its leathery bitterness of quinolines of 1944, the buttery radiance of tuberose in 1948's Fracas (both for Robert Piguet), the nostalgic violet chypre Jolie Madame for Balmain (1953) and the lesser known La Fuite des Heures for Balenciaga in 1949. There is also the enigmatic Eau d'Herbes (Herbal Water) conceived for Hermes at an unspecified date during the 1950s, which remains an enigma, and several compositions for Elizabeth Arden during the same time-frame. The solution to her Roure disputes presented by Louis Amic was to set Cellier up in her own laboratory in Paris (baptized Exarome), a place of her own where she could create her perfumes and meet her clients.

Nina Ricci on the other hand is best remembered for L'Air du Temps, the romantic lactonic floral with a carnation accent by Fabric Fabron in the emblematic flacon crowned with doves, but she has had a line-up of several less popular classic fragrances. Among them Coeur Joie (1946), Fille d'Eve (1952), Capricci (1961), the masculine Signoricci (1965), the orange-rich Bigarade (1971)and the spicy carnation aldehydic Farouche (1973) all the way to the original green Nina in the frosted bottle in 1987 (the name has been reprised for the gourmand in the apple-shaped bottle of 2006), the playful fruity chypre Deci-Dela and the trio of Les Belles de Ricci, all the way into the recent years when the company was bought by Puig.
Marie Adélaïde Nielli (nickenamed Nina when she was but a mere girl) was married to Louis Ricci, to whom she bore a son, Robert. Nina Ricci relocated to Monte Carlo first and ultimately in Paris in 1932 when Robert was 27 years old, working as a model maker. But her son's motivation instilled into her the desire to open a fashion house one year short of her 50th birthday and the rest is, as they say, history.

The polished feel of the fragrance is immediately apparent, from its fresh, greenish opening oscilating between neroli and cool iris tonalities to the discreet, slightly warm and reassuring drydown which shares elements with the original Nina by the same designer, while being as waxy woody as the legendary Dior Dior. Despite scents of that time being usually powdery, Coeur joie stops short of producing this effect and does not smell old-fashioned in the least, although modern noses might be disappointed at the lack of overt sweetness. As someone at Fragrantica put it: "Launched just two years prior to Nina Ricci's renowned L'Air du Temps, Coeur Joie is L'air du Temps with a whiskey chaser -- a lilting, cool, pretty-as-a-princess floral with a knowing, silken drydown befitting an empress. Wear this when you want to promise nothing but deliver everything". I'd substitute whiskey with champagne, but the rest rings quite true.

The bottle, designed by Marc Lalique with whom the Ricci family enjoyed a close relationship since childhood, reprised the romantic theme into a garlanded tube that was heart-shaped. Extremely costly due to its rarity nowadays, yet there are round canisters of Eau de Toilette, holding big quantities appearing now and then on Ebay auctions and on online discounters; these harken back to the 1960s. There is a rumour circulating that they were especially made for the Greek market where Ricci perfumes were especially popular at the time and well-to-do ladies used them for refreshment on warm spring days.

Notes for Nina Ricci Coeur Joie:
Top: neroli, bergamot, orange blossom
Middle: iris, violet, hyacinth, jasmine, gardenia, and rose
Base: woods

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Germaine Cellier scents

Leopold Godowsky (1870-1938) plays Frédéric Chopin: Nocturne nr. 12 in G, opus 37 no. 2, composed in 1839. Recorded in 1928. Originally uploaded by pianopera on Youtube

Fashion photo of Van Cleef & Arpels jewels by Bert Stern. Nina Ricci atelier via nytimes. bottle pics via parfumgott/flickr and ebay

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Caron With Pleasure: fragrance review & Caron history

Certain fragrances grab you by the throat and demand to be asked "What are you talking about anyway?" Whether they do it via shock value or by undecipherable codes posing an enigma it is a matter of semiotics.

One such scent is With Pleasure, belying its very name, not because it is repulsive, but because it is on the edge of consciousness nagging you to tilt your head once more and mubble again "what is it about it, then?"

The Unknown Perfumer at Caron: Michel Morsetti

Caron's With Pleasure was issued in 1949, composed by perfumer Michel Morsetti, two years after the self-taught founder, Ernest Daltroff, had passed away. The bottle was customarily designed by Félicie Bergaud (née Félicie Vanpouille and the collaborator of Daltroff, with whom they shared an open, and controversial at the time, relationship out of wedlock). Contemporary to both Or et Noir (Gold and Black) and Rose it remained in their long shadow, a secret to be unveiled by those in the know. The same year also saw the introduction of the original version of Caron's Pour Une Femme, later discontinued and then re-issued in 2001 in an altered formula. It seems that the end of the war and the decade drawing to a close saw an orgiastic productivity at Caron! Yet although the former fragrances continue their unhindered path (with slight tweaks along the way), With Pleasure has been discontinued and become rare, a true collectible.
Michel Morsetti has been responsible for all these fragrances, along with others in the Caron stable of thouroughbreds in the late 1940s and 1950s, notably the cassie-rich almost gourmand Farnesiana (1947), the relatively unknown marvel Tabac Noir (1948) ~a counterpoint to the famous Tabac Blond of the roaring 20s~, the lily-of-the-valley ballet Muguet de bonheur (1952), and the fiery, peppercorn fury of Poivre and its lighter concentration Coup de Fouet (1954). Royal Bain de Champagne is also attributed to Morsetti, despite it being issued in 1941, at a time when Daltroff was still alive. Incidentally many of the classic Carons and a history of the house of Caron are covered in Parfum: Prestige et Haute Couture by Jean-Yves Gaborit (editions Fribourg, 1985).
The vereable French house started from meagre beginnings in 1901-1902 when Russian-Jewish brothers Ernest and Raoul Daltroff bought the small parfumeria "Emilia", located on rue Rossini in Paris, evident in their first fragrance baptized Royal Emilia in 1904. Aided by an obscure acquaintance named Kahann with deep pockets, Ernest Daltroff moved the address to 10 rue de la Paix and renamed it "Caron", with which name it became synonymous with French style and "fit for a duchess" chic, according to an infamous quote.

If there is a signature Caron-ade running through the fabric of the older vintage Carons, it is evident in With Pleasure, without doubt: a dark rose with musty, slightly earthy tonalities is peeking its face underneath a green-herbal façade. The rosiness is an upside-down image of the darker and rosier Or et Noir, with an almost anisic touch. The greeness of With pleasure is not chypré, nevertheless, but rather tilted into an aldehydic direction with a non tangy citrusy accent, folded into the rosiness along with snuffed-out candles notes. The more strident, angular chypres of the 50s were competing with more traditionally feminine aldehydics and their proper lady image; so very fitting, after the return of women to the home, the kitchen and the boudoir following the loaded responsibilities they had shouldered during the hard WWII days which helped emancipate them further.
There is nothing upbeat or girly about the scent, on the contrary there is a quiet mood, but one can sense that this is no mere capriciousness but a frank introspection, a look into a different angle of an at-heart secretive personality who lives her life day by day. I am not sure whether I like it or not, but it keeps asking me neverthless.

The English name alludes to an international venture, capitalizing on the rave reception that Narcisse Noir, Caron's leading fragrance of 1911, had received on the other side of the Atlantic thanks to its potency.
The bottle in Bacarrat crystal is old-fashioned, tactile and round and can be imagined on the vanity of a lady with ebony brushes bearing boar bristles for hair that is brushed a hundred times every night by an attentive chambermaid: A crystal flacon shaped like a honey jar with a T-shaped stopper resembling a glamorous pastry-roll on top (technically this design is called tonnelet) and the name "With Pleasure" emblazoned on the front. The Bacarrat signature in acid on the bottom seals its aunthenticity.

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Fragrance History, Caron scents , Aldehydes

Photographs by Luca Cornel of Brenda Lee via, Ad pic via ebay, With Pleasure flacons via

Monday, July 20, 2009

Narciso Rodriguez Musk Collection: new fragrances

Narciso Rodriguez, the man under whose name one of the most successful and prolific (in its influence to the market at large, the precursor of the nouveau chypre) new feminine fragrances was first issued, Narciso For Her (2004), is unstopable.
Not only he brought out the masculine counterpart Narciso For Him in 2007 and Essence last spring but he is now issuing a Musk Collection (There is a similar project of light musks collection masterminded by Tom Ford, launching soon).
The two versions of Her and Him will be limited editions in shiny bottles (a nod to Essence's terrific facade?). Narciso Rodriguez for Her limited edition Musk introduces musk in the central role, along with notes of ylang-ylang, jasmine and orange blossom. Narciso Rodriguez for Him limited edition Musk, will fuse musk with essences of iris and red berries.

The bottles come in 50ml/1.7oz and will cost 62 and 44 euros respectively. Launching September 1st.
They look good!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: The differences between concentrations of Narciso For Her, NR Essence fragrance review, Upcoming Releases

Pics via punmiris

Lalique Encre Noire Pour Elle: new fragrance

It is no secret that Lalique's Encre Noire for men (created by Nathalie Lorson) has been one of the best fragrances in the usually crystal-shattering-sweet Lalique range. Its dark vetiver aura casts shadows on lots of other vetiver scents competing for excellence, from Vetiver Extraordinaire by F.Malle to which it is closest to scent-wise, to Bois d'Ombrie by Eau d'Italie and on to more variable vetivers (See our Vetiver Series for ideas).
Now comes a feminine counterpart of Black Ink to smooth out the divide between the sexes and propose a more polished version for the women who had been borrowing their boyfriends' dark bottle. The idea had been at the minds of Guerlain too when they took the femme approach to their already excellent and best-selling Vétiver and they created ther wonderful Vétiver pour Elle, first as a travel-exclusive and now part of their Les Parisiennes boutique line.
"Christine Nagel, the perfumer who created 2008's Lalique White and Narciso Rodriguez for Her in 2003*, is the nose behind the new fragrance and was inspired by the unusual opportunity to create a vetiver women's fragrance. As she exclaimed to Basenotes "why should rose be for females and vetiver for males? Who decided this?"
Notes for Lalique Encre Noire pour Elle include exotic materials such as Sicilian bergamot, freesia, Turkish rose, osmanthus, kephali**, Indonesian amber, Haitian vetiver, Texan cedar and musks.

**Aphrodite's Kephali (=Venus's head) is a toponym of an Early Minoan outpost site in Eastern Crete, Greece, where pithoi, ceramic vessels, were found containing lumps of incense. I am hypothesizing the kephali note could reprise this legendary aroma. [Of course kephali is a general term for other toponyms throughout Greece as well as kephali (κεφάλι) means head in Greek]. However kephali is also a component in ethyl fish oil, and scented fish oil also played an important role in ancient religious rites, a fact which might give a different spin to this. In any case, and most probably, it might all be a misprint, as Kephalis (with a capital K) is a woody ambery aroma-chemical, quite popular in recent releases.

The eau de parfum of Encre Noire pour Elle will be available in 50ml/1.7floz and 100ml/3.3floz while there will be an ancilary body cream in 200ml/6.6floz. The new Lalique launches in September 2009.
There will also be a rare chance for collectibles: The Parfum Extrait version will be issued as a one-off in only 99 numbered flacons, in a crystal cube toppped by a round crystal stopper with gold caligraphy as well (The design reminds me of the Gucci Eau de Parfum one, but could be entirely different in person) This special edition will cost £600 for 60ml/2 floz of concentrated perfume extract. Enough quantity to last you a lifetime!

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Upcoming releases, Vetiver series

*NB: Narciso For Her was co-authored by Francis Kurkdjan.

Pic & quote via Danielle Cooper at Basenotes

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The stink of Michael Jackson? Scentxploitation of the famous dead.

"An entertainment manager is causing a stink as he plans to release 19 year old bottles of “Mystique de Michael Jackson” - a perfume created by Michael that never made it to the shops. [...]around 400,000 bottles of “Mystique de Michael Jackson” for women and “Le Jan de Michael Jackson” for men were made, but most were destroyed before hitting the shelves".
Apparently someone salvaged a few before the allegations for child molesting ruined the whole venture and now is planning on auctioning them driving the fans of the dead star into a frenzy to get a piece of this specific -admittedly "turned"- olfactory Jacko memorabile.
Read the whole article here

We had presented one of Michael Jackson's scents a while ago when talking about the Celebrity Scent Phenomenon, arguing it's not such a recent one as all that. You can read this article and see photographic evidence on this link.
Our culture is apparently deeply and disturbingly immersed in the cult of the famous, whatever form that may take....

Friday, July 17, 2009


'"Breathe responsibly" is the disclaimer ingenious duo Bompas and Parr greet their visitors with upon entering Alcoholic Architecture, their pop-up bar in London's Soho. Here, they revolutionize the intake of alcohol by letting you inhale rather than drink [...]In February this year they created the UK's first scratch-and-sniff cinema bringing to potent life Peter Greenaway's The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover through the powerful aromas of dusty books and rotting meat. That aside, their main obsession is jelly (the English kind not the American), with which they are pushing the wobbly boundaries to explore fluorescence'
An interesting article about the mingling of the senses (what is usually called "synaesthesia" in perfume circles without the medical complications of the condition, nevertheless) can be found on Creativity

I Know What You Did Last Summer ~the Perfume Edition

In a feverish summer stroke of genius Ayala of Smelly blog aided by the ever resourceful Gaia of The Non Blonde came up with a project more substiantial than simply a list of summer favourites: here you will find assorted creative minds proposing scents for almost every summer eventuality, in essence the ultimate summer scent wardrobe! Perfumes which you can take or leave, arguably, yet these lists are by no means exhaustive and are intended to give a little nudge into finding your own special fragrances for this summer. So, have fun and tell us what your preferences are for your own summery occasions!
I have been hearing how this summer has been rather cool for most of Western Europe and North America so far, but let me tell you in the Hellenic land of the Gods, it's never a summer without a mean case of the heat (and inevitably the hots!). We have been having cloudless skies ever since May and temperatures above 32C for 2.5 months now and you can see lightly bronzed, slick bodies aplenty on the beach and in the streets, so I have pretty much adjusted myself in the fragrance department pretty well by now. Here are my preferences! (click the links for reviews)

Hitting the beach is but a stone's throw away and even if not dipping in the cool Aegean waters, just inhaling the iodine-rich smell of the sea-spray is invigorating. We used to count our summers by how many swims we had taken when we were children (much like others did by counting how many ice-cream sticks they consumed), but nowadays I find that even a leisurely walk on the sugar-spun sands adds a special something to my day. When I go for a swim I prefer to pack Dior Bronze Monoi Gelée in my little nécessaire, a perfect monoi smell (tiaré and amyl salicilate) which I put on both body as a moisturizer and on hair. It wafts deliciously, isn’t photosensitive and never clashes with my trusty La Prairie sunblock.

Sailing is another typically Greek expedition for summer and apart from afternoon lazy fishing we also discover many unchartered, unreachable from tourism beaches that way! (I call this heaven, don't you?) For lounging on the deck you can't beat the light and refreshing vetiver and light smoke of Chanel’s beautiful Sycomore; it even takes a subtle chocolate nuance when in the sun! The iodine aroma of Goutal's Vetiver is more hard-core, reminding me of days seeing workers doing metal-working on large boats, the fiery metal-induced sparks bursting all around mingling with the scents of tar and salt.

Al fresco eating in summery tavernas ~often right after that sea dip, hair up with a silk scarf and body wrapped in a Pucci-printed sarong~ demands something uncomplicated. If I had opted for only the monoi gel I follow with a spritz of my purse-sprayer of Malle's Carnal Flower. Its green tuberose along with the subtle coconut touch is the epitome of summers outdoors (and would also be fabulous for a summer wedding, but more of that on a seperate article). For a warmer feel I have been also using Tauer’s Une Rose Chyprée and Chanel’s Bois des Iles parfum a lot.

If it’s a Bar-B-Q I am attending (Greeks are infamous carnivores, but we also roast our seafood to great aplomb) I can get away with a smoky little something: lately that’s Encens Flamboyant from Goutal’s "Les Orientalistes" collection.

Jet Setting is another option. I try to travel light and bring few key pieces that match each other in multiple combinations, usually in the palette of white-red-blue. My suitcase has room for vintage souvenirs, foreign editions of books I've meaning to hunt down and of course new local fragrances! Two scents which are comforting and non obtrusive on airplanes and trains are Vanille Galante by Hermès and Bois d’Iris by The Different Company. I am also flirting with the limpid, coolly spicy Un Jardin après La Mousson.

Walking around town visiting open-air book fairs is one of my favourite past-times: The view of all the titles stacked neatly beside each other, the exhibition cubicles all identical creating a long uniform line of knowledge and the smell of new paper and freshly printed ink is intoxicating. I don’t want to compete with them, so I choose the complementing Messe de Minuit by Etro which really comes alive only in the heat of summer.
Sometimes there's even a school band performing! If I am only out shopping and walking I pick Guerlain’s Vétiver pour Elle or Diorella: elegant and exuberant! And if there’s a heatwave, nothing but the most bitter green chypres will do: vintage Shiseido Zen, Silences by Jacomo and Piguet’s Bandit.

Siesta napping in a cool room while the heat blazes outside is one of the great comforts after a hot morning. The lazy, languid feelings evoked are perfectly encapsulated by L’Artisan’s Extrait de Songe (re-issued as L’été en Douce), a scent of dry white cotton, smooth sheets and the hay nuance of coumarin. (come to think of it, if you can locate a bit of the African Dreams home oil of The Body Shop to put on a burner it’s just as clean-cool). For an upscale indulgence I bring out the cool Iris Pallida by L’Artisan.

The fun fair is brash and weird and I love the illusions in the mirrors chambers or the terror train: Dzing! by L’Artisan with its cardboard and zoo animals' aroma captures the warm, yet strange atmosphere perfectly.

Cinema in Sicily, Naples and Greece is often an open-air affair during summer evenings, big yards with fine peeble, rows of seats across the silver screen and gigantic vines of honeysuckle, ivy and jasmine garlanding the perimeter. There’s a nostalgic air about it, either watching Stromboli with Ingrid Bergman or Nuovo Cinema Paradiso and I like to bring out my most romantic scents: Grand Amour by Goutal exploring lilies, honeysuckle and hyacinth, Molinard by Molinard, a cherished gift of that special someone with jasmine under green and fruity accents or Chamade by Guerlain with its blackcurrant buds and hyacinth heart.

A big night out in the big city demands a different, sexier approach and I have curiously gravitated towards ambers and spices lately: Perfumerie Generale liquorish Cozé, a tiny dab of Ambre Sultan on pulse points or Opium Eau de Toilette over my navel so it wafts upwards. I also love the honeyed sensual smell of Une Fleur de Cassie by F.Malle and the silken polish of Tubéreuse Criminelle by Lutens .

I am leaving you with Loukianos Kelaidoni's nostalgic song Summer Cinemas about the passing of youth:

Please check the following participating blogs for more ideas:

Smelly Blog, Legerdenez, The Non Blonde, I smell therefore I am, Scent Hive, Savvy Thinker, Moving & Shaking, Bittergrace Notes

Vintage pic found thanks to The Non Blonde, Santa Monica Pier 1920 from Dr. X's Free Associations. Pics via,,,, and Life mag (Greek billionnaire Stavros Niarchos on his sailing boat)

Thursday, July 16, 2009

More news on the upcoming L'Artisan Havana Vanille

We had mentioned the new fragrance from L'artisan parfumeur, Havana Vanille, unveiled during the London Sniffa last week the other day, (along with news on the upcoming Bois Torride by Guerlain) but more information is slowly being revealed.
The upcomiong in-house perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour's creation will encompass interesting notes that conspire to create a vanilla out of the ordinary. If L'Artisan's pre-emptying Vanilia is a study in ethylmaltol (the smell of cotton candy) and its girly associations of ice-cream cones at the fair, the latest vanilla will incorporate essences of leather, rhum, tonka bean and helichrysum (immortelle or everlasting flower) along with dried fruits, elements which seem to tilt the creation into the realm of almost a Lutenesque composition! With Havana in the title you would expect something sultry and tobacco-laced. And indeed the concept and notes evoke the atmoshere of Cuba with the tobacco plantations and the rolling of leaves which young women do on their moist thighs (The humidity helps the leaves retain their elasticity). It would be interesting to see the interpretation of something that is essentially a rather "thick" concept translated into the diaphanous treatment of a Duchaufour formula!
The use of a luxurious real vanilla absolute, much like it also stood for luxury in Hermes's Vanille Galante last season, seems to point to a new sensibility that eshews the sacharrine tonalities of vanillin in favour of more complex natural materials. Something tells me we're going to see more of these complex vanilla scents from the higher end of perfume companies soon.
As usual the new L'Artisan fragrance will be presented in both 50ml and 100ml bottles of Eau de Parfum.

Notes for L'Artisan Havana Vanilla:
Top: leather, rhum, clove, dried fruits
Heart: narcissus, immortelle/everlasting flower, tonka bean
Base: Mexican vanilla absolute, smoky woods, musks, balsamic notes

Related reading on Perfume Shrine: Upcoming releases

Pic & Notes translated from the Italian ( by perfumeshrine
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