Monday, May 9, 2022

Elizabeth Arden True Love: fragrance review

 True Love is a classic Sophia Grojsman composition in that it possesses three main constituents: a clean, groomed outlook with lots of musk, mainly Galaxolide; a peachy fruity component that blends with the skin; and heaps of sillage with tremendous lasting power. Scents to be noticed and commented upon.

For something so quiet and soft, True Love is a very impressive performer, I can attest.

The scent of True Love (1994) combines elements of two beloved fragrances that followed it: Nivea eau de toilette, which I have reviewed in the past, and Irisia by Creed, which is a more chypre take on the soapy floralcy of this one (supposedly a 1960s composition, but in reality much more modern). It has elements that make the Dove soap, the classic white creamy bar, so lovely to smell and use.

True Love projects quite linear, starting with a whoosh of soapy cleanliness and segueing into an abstract lactonic floralcy of no discernible edges. It's soft all around, like a pink angora sweater, and cooling like a glass of pink champagne. Sarah Horowitz capitalized on the concept with her Perfect Veil, a cult item of a scent around the millennium based on the combination of citrusy sparkle, soft clean musk, and a smidgen of vanilla for sweetness - a gauze of a scent theoretically, something that lingers, does not appear too perfume-y for the sensibilities of the women of the late 1990s, yet is still quite the beast.


Do not expect much from the bottle itself. It's a plain cylindrical style in glass, capped by an unassuming plastic cap to correspond. Nothing to write home about. But it's what's inside that counts. Elizabeth Arden's fragrance bottles and compositions tend to look unassuming and prosaic on the surface. 

Online discounters often offer Elizabeth Arden fragrances at exceptionally low prices, considering the quality, lasting power, and decency of the liquid inside. It's a brand worth seeking out.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Bois d'Iris by The Different Company: a different iris fragrance review

 Although iris scents are often mentioned in regards to powdery and starchy shades in perfumery, which would recall paper, skin, and bulbous vegetables, with Bois d'Iris The Different Company (not to be confused with Van Cleef & Arpel’s subsequent release under its Collection Extraordinaire line Bois d'Iris) we come upon an epiphany.

It's more of a manifestation of woods within iris than actual iris. This provides the necessary piquancy to bring out a certain oddness to the aura of the scent, which makes one wonder where scent ends and skin begins, or vice versa.

Iris concrete lacks the diffusional standards for modern perfumery, so perfumer Ellena bolstered the material with alpha-iso-methyl ionone, to add a diffusive violet chord alongside the chalkier analog of the iris. 


The duet of iris and alpha-iso-methyl ionone also structures Hermès Hiris, but while Olivia Giacobetti’s formula uses carrot seeds and almond wood, Bois d’Iris veers into cedarwood to render a sublime una corda pedal of a scent.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Bourjois Kobako: fragrance review

Kobako means "small box" in Japanese, as far as I know. But try adding a katana-blade symbol over the first "o," and it turns into Kōbako. Then it gains the nuance of a small box for solid aromatics used in the incense ceremony in kōdō (香道, "Way of Incense"); the ritual burning of incense to count the time. Such is the case with Kobako by the classic French brand Bourjois. 

A composition that initially hails from 1936 and the creative genius of perfumer Ernest Beaux, but which survives to this day in a contemporary Parfum de Toilette version that was first issued during the 1980s in the cristal taillé style bottle and the maroon box photographed below. The actual launch date for the modern version is 1982, and I doubt that the two editions have much in common, both stylistically and artistically. There was too much water under the bridge by then.

photo of Kobako by Bourjois by Elena Vosnaki

photo by Elena Vosnaki

It's interesting to note that one of the connotations for the word 'box' is the one used in slang, in many languages, for female genitalia. Indeed, again as far as I have been informed, kōbako in modern Japanese slang refers to that as well. But the scent in question is not an animalic or intimate smell that would polarize at all. In fact, it's this discrepancy that prompted my review.

The current fomula is not the one from the 1930s, so the description pertains to the 1980s mix. 

The domineering feeling is one of soap, like an old-fashioned soap for men, with cinnamon and sandalwood, and that creamy feeling that generations past associate with comfort and hot water. The florals used in the heart of Kobako are not discernible; they mix and mingle and tear apart again. There is definitely rose, which mollifies the formula, and probably a segment of something white-floral for a bit of clarity (possibly a part of lily of the valley aroma chemicals to give diffusion and expansion.)

Kobako combines these elements in a naughty, playful, almost haphazard way - the masculine backdrop with the feminine florals and the aldehydes - to render a juxtaposing composition. It hides its dark corners, but it's not entirely clean either. It has the versatility to make itself wearable all year long and never bother or disappear.

It feels fresh and spicy one minute, metallic and powdery the next, with a segment of dry patchouli in the back. What is this scent, I ask you? It consistently garners some comment or other, always in a positive way. It might not be the most accepted fragrance or the most derided - it hinges on that razor-sharp axis - but it's worth sampling at the very least. Some of you will end up wearing it when you won't know what to wear for the day, I promise.

The woody element in the back and the soapiness render Bourjois' Kobako very easy on the skin. There is not enough spice, although cinnamon is mentioned. I do not detect it as such, more of a smidge of clove, which is faint. It's also quite musky, in a good way, not the screechy white musk from laundry detergents, but not dirty either. It just melds with the skin and holds on to it.

Monday, January 24, 2022

In memoriam: Thierry Mugler (1948-2022)

 Fashion designer Thierry Mugler passed away on January 23rd 2022 as announced on the designer's Instagram account. 

Although he had distanced himself from designing for many years, earned profits from his rights into several products bearing his brand, from sunglasses to Mugler fragrances, and he had completely transformed himself into the hybrid bodybuilder Manfred for a couple of decades now. His face, unrecognisable after several plastic surgeries gone amok, draws a tear from those of us who recall his earlier, smashing work as a young and promising designer in late 1980s and early 1990s Paris.


Lean and dynamic, fueled by a relentless energy and a penchant for Amazonian beauties, Mugler put a certain pizazz on the catwalk, promoted drag-queens and pop idols, and made Nadja Auermann an icon in his razor cut, big-shouldered suits and metal bustiers. Much like Helmut Newton, he seemed to really appreciate the power of women.

 I recall it was a real shock when fashion and style discussion boards flooded in the mid-2000s with pictures of him, shot in front of a mirror, stark naked and in slippers (of all things!) posing as a human transformer, all muscle and perverted features. The word was Manfred. We circulated the picture from email account to email account with jaws dropped at the damage he -seemed to have- inflicted on himself. He had retired from designing by then and sold his brand to Clarins in 1997, which was the luxury Group who collaborated with him in the first place to produce his seminal fragrances. Now we know better than to judge or body-shame. Thierry obviously needed the Manfred persona at that point in his life.


His seminal project for Angel eau de parfum was life-changing for the industry.  His other perfumes – Cologne, Alien, A*Men, Womanity, and perfume projects such as work with Tom Tykwer for the movie Perfume, and the Mirror Mirror collection were exception contributions to the art of perfumery.

Now that Thierry Mugler is dead, and his brand has changed hands from the original creators of his classics, it's time to reflect and honor that which he has given us. The propensity for boldness, the trust in ourselves not to fear. The confidence to wear what we please. And the realization that even ugliness at times can have a beatific effect in our lives.

Please read my dedicated article on 

RIP sweet prince, transported to a big galactic star in blue... 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

In Memoriam: Gaspard Ulliel

 The actor who is best known to perfume lovers thanks to fronting the advertising campaign for Bleu de Chanel is no more. The star of many films, including an Yves Saint Laurent biopic (named Saint Laurent, an excellent casting choice!), Sibyl (2019) and Un Long Dimanche des Fiancailles (2004), Gaspard will be missed.


His life's thread was cut at the untimely and early age of 37 at a skiing accident. The claustrophobic atmosphere of the commercial for Chanel seems foreshadowing now.


Cast a thought for his ethereal and sophisticated beauty that will haunt our perfume bottles to their end. "For the man without limits". How ironically, tragically apt.

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