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An AldeHo Dishes: Le Labo Aldehyde 44, a Perfume Review


Categories: aldehydic floral, Le Labo, Perfume review, Tags: ,

I have to blame Abigail of I Smell Therefore I Am for this decant. 

See, Le Labo annoys me no end.  They really do.  They have this quasi-scientific packaging, they fill and label your individual bottle upon order as if this is a desirable thing, and they name their fragrances in this strange, quasi-scientific way that turns out to be misleading, as in Tubereuse 40 being a citrus cologne instead of a tuberose fragrance.  Grr.  Also, they have these certain fragrances available only in certain cities, and they won’t sell them online or by phone order.  To get Aldehyde 44, you have to go to Dallas and buy a bottle.  This strikes me as unnecessarily exclusionary in that country-club, “you don’t belong” sort of way, which burns my shorts because I am pretty well bought in to the whole American ideal of all [humans] being created equal (which, I know, isn’t actually borne out in practice, but I still believe in it as an ideal).  I am not likely to make a trip to Dallas any time in the near future, unless I have to connect through the airport on a trip to visit my sister in Fort Hood, TX, which is also not likely.

Also-also, Le Labo makes a big deal out of being French, as in, “We are French, and you are not.  You can buy our ridiculously-priced French perfume, but it will not make you French.  Ha ha ha ha!”  On top of all this snobbery and floofery to do with misleading names and ugly packaging and city exclusives and Frenchiness, the Le Labo fragrances are ridiculously priced.  Did I mention the ridiculous price schedule?  It’s ridiculous.  As in, you can currently buy a 100 ml bottle of one of the city exclusives (assuming you can travel to the appropriate city) for the whopping total, before tax, of $440 USD. 

So the fact that I purchased a 5ml split portion* can be ascribed directly to Abigail’s review of Aldehyde 44, because I would absolutely never have done it if she hadn’t activated my acquisitiveness glands.  I think the phrase that did me in was this: “OH MY GAWWWWWWWWD.”  *at a price somewhat lower, about $3.60 per ml – still ridiculous, but manageable in small amounts.

The notes for Aldehyde 44 include aldehydes (duh), neroli, tuberose absolute, narcissus absolute, jasmine sambac, vanilla, musks and woods.  Aldehyde 44 was composed by Yann Vasnier and released in 2006.  I am a total sucker for narcissus.  Ditto aldehydes, ditto tuberose.  Although I’m not a jasmine fan, I like tropical jasmine sambac much better than traditional-French-perfumery jasmine grandiflorum.  So of course, of course, I had to try it.

Aldehyde 44 starts out with a blast of, you guessed it, aldehydes.  I do not recommend huffing your recently-spritzed wrist up close, unless you want an aldehyde headache – I had to warn Gaze “Not too close!” when he sniffed me this morning – but within a few minutes, the blast is gone.  What’s surprising to me about this fragrance is that unlike most other aldehydies, there’s not an aldehyde-heavy opening quickly transitioned to something else that usually smells completely different

You look at the classic aldehydic floral fragrances like Arpege or, say, Balenciaga Le Dix, and they only start out with aldehydes.  Arpege, to me, is all about the rich, almost composty florals followed by a wonderful sandalwood.  Chanel No. 5 is aldehydes followed by rich florals and a beautiful woody-musky drydown.  Robert Piguet Baghari (the reformulation, at least) is aldehydes followed by a delightful orange-and-wood accord.

But Aldehyde 44 seems to keep its aldehydic character throughout.  I was expecting the aldehydes to slide into a sweet white-floral bomb, but they don’t.  Instead, I get just a vague white-floral veil, light and pretty and uncomplicated, still with that sparkly champagne-bubble character of the aldehydes.  I’d swear that there is a little bit of rose in this scent, too, a pretty woody rose.  After several hours, I smell a hint of vanilla and lots of dry wood, and at this point it reminds me to a small degree of Baghari.  The aldehydes are never very powdery, as often happens; rather, they keep their sparkly quality.  Even in the far drydown, six hours after application (a stunningly long time for an edp to last on me), I seem to still get sparkly, white fairy light aldehydes.  The transitions are so smooth with this fragrance, I can’t pinpoint when it’s moved from opening to floral to woods.

The whole thing is pretty and light and fairly dry, not as sweet as I’d expected.  My one complaint is that it wears too close to the skin and doesn’t project much, even in warm weather.  In fact, when I’ve worn Aldehyde 44 in the summer, it has shrunk down to skin and disappeared too soon, very forgettable, which is close to unforgivable in a scent that costs as much as this one does.  It is lovely, but not as assertive as I’d like – and you might remember that I am not a big sillage fan!  All the same, I’m glad I have this small portion, and I’ll be wearing it happily until it’s gone.

And then I’ll wear my Guerlain Vega, which is also gorgeous, more warm and friendly, and slightly less expensive.

(This review interrupted for a public service announcement: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TAZ!!)

If you’ve been reading and cursing your bad luck at not living in or near Dallas, you should know this: in a special promotional program, samples of the Le Labo city exclusives will be available at the Le Labo website during the months of October and November 2011, at $10 per 1.5ml spray sample (shipping included).  Bottles will be available for purchase at LuckyScent in November, with samples available from now through the end of November.

Other reviews, most of them favorable: Bois de Jasmin, Tom at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, Marina at PST (not favorable),  Aromascope, The Non-Blonde.  In Perfumes: The Guide, Luca Turin first slyly pokes fun at Le Labo (yay!) and then calls Aldehyde 44 a “mini-White Linen.”  (Thing is, I don’t like White Linen…)

Fragrance image from Lucky Scent. 


An AldeHo Dishes: Divine L'Ame Soeur, a Thumbnail Review


Categories: aldehydic floral, Parfums Divine, Perfume review, Tags: , ,

Yup, more aldehydes. This one is a favorite of our dear Daisy, Empress of Perfumista Enabling, and my small decant came from her.

P:TG review: *** aldehydic woody This combination of dry, talcum-powder wood and a slightly metallic, sweaty cast I find classical in feel and pleasingly aloof, and LT finds nerve-wracking in the extreme. Several fragrances in this vegetal, pale, unsweetened style have come down the pike in recent years, two by Pierre Bourdon (Ferré, Iris Poudre). This one from 2004 (the names means “soul mate”) by young perfumer Yann Vasnier seems both steely and mild-mannered, like a sort of woman you might have known whose soft, maternal build belies an icy manner. TS

(I’m still puzzled by the reference to Iris Poudre as being “vegetal” and “unsweetened.” “Pale” it may be, but in a white-angora-sweater sort of way, and it always strikes me as being fluffy and candy-sweet, due to the lovely benzoin in the base.)

But I digress. L’Ame Soeur, when I first started wearing this decant, struck me as being both fruity and aldehydic. Sometime around 8 months ago, I started smelling a faintly sour, celerylike twist in it every time I put it on. The celery is fleeting, thank goodness, but there is a saltiness to the scent that seems odd to me. I cannot pick out any florals, and the entire fragrance has a slick texture that I can’t quite put my finger on.

The notes, according to Divine’s website, include Bulgarian rose otto, ylang-ylang, jasmine, and ambergris. Unquestionably, there are also aldehydes, and I suggest a bit of vetiver as well. I don’t know if the ambergris note is ambreine, or ambrox, or cetalox, or what-have-you, but it is a salty-soapy note that reminds me quite a bit of Creed’s Fleurs de Bulgarie.

I’m still not sure whether I like L’Ame Soeur or not. I do know that I’d almost always go hunting one of my many other aldehydic floral scents when I want one. There is a strangely sour, salty cast to this fragrance that makes me think of Chinese food gone stale, and sometimes it bothers me more often than other times.

I’ll add a rating system. Scents of Scelf just added one, and it’s fun: pictures of the Harajuku Lovers fragrances, from 1 figure to 5. I’m not that clever, so I think I’ll go with stars or something equally clear but uninspiring… I’ll give L’Ame Soeur 2.5 stars. It ranges from “acceptable” to “below average.”  Other reviews of  L’Ame Soeur: Bois de Jasmin and Aromascope (brief), both of which are more favorable than this review!

Bottle image from Fragrantica.


An AldeHo Dishes: Lady Stetson, a Thumbnail Review


Categories: aldehydic floral, Coty, Perfume review, Tags: ,

In my teens and twenties, I’d have told you that I didn’t like aldehydes. I may have been affected by my mother’s use of Chanel No. 5, and by my disavowal of anything that Smells Like My Mother. Aldehydes are very much out of fashion these days, with only the occasional niche fragrance firm making use of them, and then only rarely.

But now I love them. There’s just something about aldehydes that say “proper perfume” to me, and I enjoy that little clean fizzy sparkle they can give to a scent, as well as the powdery cast they leave behind. I call myself an AldeHo these days; I’m always interested in trying new ones.

Earlier in the life of this blog, I reviewed several other aldehydic fragrances, including THE QUEEN ALDEHYDE, Chanel No. 5, as well as some others in that fragrance category. Click for reviews of Chanel No. 5, No. 5 Eau Premiere, Mariella Burani, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe, Guerlain Vega, Lanvin Arpege, Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds, Ferre by Ferre, Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, Lancome Climat, and Coty L’Aimant (vintage). I’m proposing the occasional review of an aldehydic fragrance in this “AldeHo Dishes” series, on an irregular basis. Some of these reviews will be quick ones, and I’ll call them “thumbnail” reviews. Some will be more in-depth reviews. It will depend on how much time I’ve had with each fragrance, and how much I have to say about them.

Today’s quick fragrance review concerns the decidedly downmarket Coty Lady Stetson, praised by Tania Sanchez in Perfumes: The Guide, particularly in comparison to the far-pricier Chanel No. 22:

Lady Stetson sets out on an airy, slightly powdery peach. As time goes on… The Lady seems simply to relax. It’s a well-balanced structure of just enough amber, just enough floral, just enough peach, just enough soapy citrus to pull up a smile each time it comes to your attention. This fragrance smells great without showing off, and truth to tell, I prefer it to the Chanel. Now, if only the bottle weren’t so hideous.

I’m not a huge fan of Chanel No. 22 either (more on No. 22 to come), but my take on Lady Stetson is a little different.  And the bottle doesn’t bother me, either.  Coty is not a company where you pay for the packaging.

LS does start off with those sweet, powdery aldehydes – not enough to burn your nose, but they’re definitely present – as well as a lactonic peach note. I can’t pick out the florals, but they seem both classical in structure and mostly-synthetic in nature to me: rose and jasmine, perhaps, but not the real expensive stuff. As LS develops and the aldehydes go away, I get more and more peach, amber, and musk. The musk is rather pleasant – the “skin” version rather than the “laundry” version – but I find the amber and peach far too sweet for my taste. I suspect that my skin often renders amber notes too sweet, and not everyone has that problem.

Overall, my complaint with Lady Stetson is that it smells nice, but cheap. I can’t pick out any natural floral notes, and I find it inoffensive but boring. It has a “PTA Volunteer Mom” sort of vibe to it. Although Lady Stetson was launched in 1986, the year I graduated from high school, it smells like the PTA Moms of my own youth: dull, safe, stodgy, but comforting and pleasant.   It smells nothing like the “declaration of independence” this ad touts:

Notes according to Fragrantica: aldehydes, peach, tangerine, rose, ylang-ylang, carnation, jasmine, sandalwood, amber, and oakmoss.  I don’t smell any citrus, and I definitely don’t get any oakmoss out of it at all.  Read Angela’s review at Now Smell This for yet another take on Lady Stetson. 

Rating: ***  Lady Stetson has a couple of undeniable assets: it smells decent, it’s easily available, and it’s pretty inexpensive. I sprayed from a tester at my local Wal-Mart. A 30ml bottle will run you $16.50 there, a huuuuge bargain… if you like it.

Images are from Fragrantica.


Scent Diary, January 1-8, 2017


Categories: Family, Holiday, Scent Diary, Tags: , ,

Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017: Chilly. Rainy. My thought on 2017, as it begins, is that it would have to work really hard to be worse than 2016, so let’s be good to each other this year and see how it goes. SOTD is Cuir de Lancome and I smell nice.

We went to see Rogue One (Star Wars) at the movie theater today and had a great time. I practically had to twist The CEO’s arm to go — he’d heard that it was “not a real Star Wars movie,” and he usually hates to spend the money to go see a film in the theater unless he’s really excited about it. As it turned out, we all thought it was enjoyable: a tight, exciting story exploring the history of how the Rebel Alliance actually got hold of those Death Star plans in the first place. We went to the “good” theater, too, which is a half-hour’s drive away via Interstate but modern, comfortable, uncrowded and quite reasonably priced ($6.75 for matinee tickets, wow).

Monday, Jan. 2: Warmer and dry today, and I’m glad the weather is more comfortable for our trip to see my parents. They were gone over Christmas, visiting my sister and her family (including that new baby!), and Mom’s back is still bothering her. SOTD is Caron Parfum Sacre.

Kids and Hayley, Christmas 2010

Tuesday, Jan. 3: SOTD, the golden and joyous and Christmassy Teo Cabanel Alahine. It’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. We usually start decorating about the second week in December, and then unless there’s an event we need to schedule around like there was this year, we un-decorate on New Year’s Day. That’s about as long as I want the Christmas stuff up, honestly. I’m not judging folks who put their tree up at the beginning of November…

Kids and Hunter, Christmas 2016

… well, okay, maybe I’m judging them a little bit, but in an “I just don’t get it,” sort of way and not a “That is so trashy,” sort of way. I love decorating, but I really don’t want Christmas stuff up while I am still enjoying the end of autumn. If you are perfectly fine with celebrating Thanksgiving with a Christmas tree and a Nativity set up, good on you, but my preference is generally to finish up one season before I start on a new one.

Wednesday, Jan. 4: SOTD is Ferre 20 by Gianfranco Ferre, which I bought from a little shop in Rome; I was just in the mood for this comfy aldehydic floral musk. The CEO came home from his checkup and said, “Hey, you know we’ve been talking about trading in your minivan for a small crossover SUV, right? They’ve got a couple of nice ones at the certified-used dealership…”

We are typically the kind of people who consult Consumer Reports and shop around for sales and good deals over a couple of months, whether we’re buying a car or a dishwasher… but somehow we wound up buying a 2013 Kia Sorento, after test-driving it and having our mechanic check it out. I’m still shocked at the quick decision! I was okay with continuing to drive the 2007 Grand Caravan, but the low gas mileage (20-22 mpg) was starting to feel like a burden, especially since we’re not hauling around multiple kids in car seats anymore, and the van wasn’t getting any younger. I’m very pleased with the Sorento.

Thursday, Jan. 5: No scent of the day today. Bookworm has a cold and feels yucky, and I’m hanging out with her, so I just skipped fragrance today.  We watched The Commitments and I ironed clothes: boring, low-key, nice.

Friday, Jan. 6: SOTD is Dior Poison. I really used to hate it back in the day, when everybody was wearing six spritzes too many, and you couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm without needing a gas mask to survive the Poison fumes… now? potent but cuddly dark-berried white floral. My bottle is ca. 2003, and it’s missing that truly toxic vibe it used to have; I don’t know what that is. Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am thinks it’s the old musks… well, maybe, but that resinous cough-syrup-of-death thing that used to scare me so much seems to be missing as well. In principle, that might be good, but I notice that I hardly ever wear Poison, and I think that’s because it’s both nicer and less interesting than it used to be.

Since we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend, the boys’ indoor track meet has been canceled so they’ll get to stay home tomorrow. We stacked up a big pile of firewood and I’ve made cider for tomorrow, and we’re ready.

I’ve been playing around at and saving my favorite recipes there, since Bookworm has expressed a need for a cookbook with all the family specialties in it. I figure this ought to work just as well as a paper cookbook.

Saturday, Jan. 7: SNOW! Not enough to go sledding in, unfortunately, and with the wind, it feels like 4F outside BRRRRRRRR. We drank hot chocolate and cleaned up the house, and then when the boys went over to a friend’s house in the evening, The CEO and Bookworm and I watched Birdman. (My thoughts on it: How on EARTH did this pretentious, artsy-fartsy, depressing nonsense win awards? Gah. There’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.)

SOTD was Amouage Gold, and I know I’m going to horrify at least one person, but — I don’t like it. I know, I know! I’m the AldeHo, I should like Gold. I kinda like Dia, though I wasn’t tempted in the least to buy it, and the Gold body lotion is wonderful on my mom. I had tried it from a sample someone sent me back in, oh, 2010 maybe?, and I didn’t like it then. My notes say it was “too big,” and I don’t think that anymore, but like vintage Arpege parfum, Gold is… thick. And heavy. And animalic. I didn’t feel elegant in it, I felt stinky. (And also like I ought to lose my AldeHo card.)

Sunday, Jan. 8: All the local churches were canceling services today, and I expected ours would as well, since we meet in one of the local elementary schools and there’s no guarantee the school system will scrape the parking lot before Monday. However, we all overslept, and when we woke up with half an hour to eat something, get dressed, and leave the house, the NOAA website said that the temperature with wind chill was -8F. That’s -22 Celsius, btw. DOUBLE BRRRR. So we decided to stay home. I made choc-chip pancakes for breakfast, chili for dinner, and put on some Soivohle Centennial for the warm fuzzies effect.






Best of 2016


Categories: Best of the year, Tags:

You have no idea how strongly tempted I was to leave this post completely blank.

As in, there was no best of 2016.

In a year that saw the deaths of so many favorite entertainers as well as a particularly vicious and disheartening political scene in the US, not to mention tragedies the world over, it’s hard to find any “best of.” This was not a great year for me personally, though it did hold some highlights — namely, the birth of my youngest nephew and some great trips to Hawai’i and Belize.

Even where perfume is concerned, I don’t have much to say since I tested few new fragrances this year. According to Basenotes, there were 1580 fragrances (heavens, don’t go check, it’s overwhelming!) released in 2016, of which I smelled maybe a dozen? For what they’re worth, however, here are my thoughts on the new releases I did manage to smell:

Chanel No. 5 L’eau: Well-done, an update that keeps the spirit of the original. But I don’t like it. All that laundry musk! No, thanks.

Eris Parfums Belle de Jour, Ma Bete, and Night Flower: I am a big fan of Barbara Herman’s writing; her book Scent and Subversion is a fun read, and I still read her reviews of vintage classics at Yesterday’s Perfume blog. I was pretty thrilled to hear that she was launching a new fragrance created by perfumer Antoine Lie, and then it turned into three new fragrances described as “vintage floral animalics” and I was even more excited. I really need to give these full reviews. In a nutshell, they’re nicely composed, coherent, throwback in the best kind of way, and yet somehow I didn’t love any of them. (Maybe I need more “floral” in my vintage floral animalics? In any case, it’s not Eris, it’s me.)

Alexander McQueen McQueen Parfum: Luxurious, decadent, wide-load Big White Floral.  I like it. I like it a lot, actually, but it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel. If you enjoy this genre, you’ve smelled something close to it before. I already own a buncha BWFs, and the price on this one is high enough to discourage purchase.

LM Parfums Aldheyx: This is your friendly AldeHo here, saying Don’t Bother With This One. I suppose I was thinking this could be something like Iris Poudre, that face-powder-and-maribou-mules fluffy delight. Nope, it’s soap and Conversation Hearts candy, in an old record store swept clean.

I find this packaging somewhat disturbing, not only because I don’t like purple but also because the smell is so greeny-gold.

Amouage Myths Woman: Sort of a cross between Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete and Balmain Jolie Madame, both of which I love, with galbanum and narcissus and jasmine over a deep, dry base. The narcissus in this thing is utterly swoony, I tell you. Unfortunately for me, Myths W ends up with more of that early-’70s type vetiver-musk drydown than I’m really comfortable in, and so I don’t adore it the way I do the other two. Very well done, very worth trying if you like narcissus.

Dame Perfumery Soliflores – Gardenia, Narcissus, Rose de Mai: All gorgeous. All relatively short-lived, but quite inexpensive so I don’t mind. The gardenia is almost bleu-cheesy, so beware if you hate that, but it avoids the earthy thing I don’t like. The rose is just plain lovely. The narcissus is truly funky up top, but very quickly moves to narcotic. Wow.

Tom Ford Orchid Soleil – Plasticky cake-batter white floral. Um, no. I mean, it’s kinda genius in a Barbie doll sort of way, but it makes me feel sick.

Maria Candida Gentile Rrose Sèlavy – To be frank, a disappointment. I was expecting the “green notes, May rose, Turkish rose” in the description, but this one is pretty patchouli-heavy and rather bitter with some harsh woods. Boo. On the other hand, a guy could probably carry this one off with aplomb.

Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream – apparently, Charlotte Tilbury is one of those makeup artists who become minor celebrities and then launch their own makeup lines (something like Mary Greenwell, whose first fragrance, Plum, I still love). This was described as a woody floral with pheromones (yeah, right!), and it sounded nice, so I scrounged a manufacturer sample. It’s a lot like Coco Mademoiselle, a patchouli floral, only minus that screechy high-pitched icepick-to-the-eyesocket thing that ruins Coco Mlle for me. It is also unfortunately minus the nice Chanelly drydown, with a metric tonne of Iso-E Super instead. After a period of time, it makes my head hurt. The packaging is terrible, like a plastic reproduction of Depression glass.

Giorgio Armani Sì Le Parfum – the extrait version of the original. It’s another Coco Mlle/La Vie Est Belle/Flowerbomb “pink chypre” clone. I liked Scent of a Dream better, TBH, because it was way less sugary.

I tested a fair number of Alkemia and SIXTEEN92 (indies you can find on Etsy) fragrances as well, too many to name or review individually. All of these were oil-format, and I need to tell you that 2016 was also the year in which I swore off oil-format fragrances forever. My skin is a good deal drier than it was in 2009 when I first started seriously testing stuff, and I find now that oils sink in and don’t radiate scent at all past the first ten minutes. For me, that’s a waste. I’m not even trying with these anymore.  (Of course there’s an exception, which is Tauer Rose Delight body oil, which does last for several hours on me and pleases me very much with its gourmand rose during, but maybe the difference is that it is an actual body product rather than an oil-format fragrance?)

I would still like to test these 2016 releases: Masque Romanza (narcissus!), and the rest of the Dame Perfumery Soliflore line, especially Honeysuckle, Osmanthus and Mimosa. Neela Vermeire Rahele sounds like a gorgeous floral. Smell Bent’s Celebrity Garden Party and January are on my radar too. I have samples of the SAVF line (incense) that showed up in my Christmas stocking, as well as one of L’Artisan Natura Fabularis 26 Tenebrae. Penhaligon’s Equinox Bloom (tea, spring flowers) sounds lovely. So does Galop d’Hermes, but I already have Kelly Caleche edp and I’m not convinced I’d need both. I’d like to smell Providence Perfumes’ Love-in-a-Mist, but it’s super-pricey and all-natural, so I won’t test it.

How about you?


Perfumes for Frigid Cold


Categories: Seasonal picks

accurite thermometerI know I’m not the first, by a long shot, to address the issue, but since today’s high was 14F (with wind chill of below zero), it’s sort of on my mind. Duh. 

So. There are differing ways of dealing with cold temperatures in terms of fragrance. You can wear warm cozy things to combat the cold with the olfactory equivalent of a woolen blanket and a hot cup of apple cider. You could cozy up to a nice log fire. Or you can pretend you’re on vacation and wear warm tropical florals, thus confusing your mental thermometer. Alternatively, you can follow the old Ben & Jerry model and wear chilly aldehydes while eating ice cream, on the theory that equalizing one’s inner and outer temperatures will make you feel the cold less intensely. Or you could just wear vanilla and smell like toasty-warm baked goods – that ought to warm you up, right?

(Okay, so I’m not sure eating ice cream actually helps, but I do know that New Englanders at one time had the highest per capital ice cream consumption rate in the US. That’s got to have something to do with their weather, because it’s just inexplicable otherwise. Read Calvin Trillin’s nonfiction story “Competitors” here, if you’d like to be entertained by the doings of premium ice cream makers. No, seriously, it’s a good read.)

(Also parenthetically, Bookworm is currently glaring at me because I’m typing while holding a conversation with her. She thinks I’m freaky. I tell her that touch typing is a very valuable skill to own, and she’d do well to develop it herself. I mean, c’mon, I learned to type on an IBM Selectric, in a summer community college class when I was sixteen, so I’ve been doing this for some time, but still. A keyboard is still basically a keyboard.)

preview_100-wool-picnic-rugWell, taking these theories of cold amelioration one at a time, first we have the Wooly Blanket-Apple Cider scents.  A lot of people love Serge Lutens Chergui for this sort of thing, or Hermes Ambre Narguile, but Chergui has a musty angle to it that just kills me and I don’t really like amber as a focus, so I won’t be naming them as favorites. Soivohle Centennial is a lovely wool-blanket floral thing with a fuzzy texture, and Givenchy Organza Indecence is fuzzy-blankety without the florals.  Teo Cabanel Alahine is a warm, rich floral amber that rings like tenor bells.  Parfums d’Empire Cuir Ottoman would be wonderful as well, and also Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.

stone-fireplace-lit-roaring-fire-11630129burning-incenseOr you could cozy up with Warm Woods and IncenseChanel Bois des Îles or Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne de Bois would be lovely and warm, with their focus on sandalwood. SSS Winter Woods would be nice too. Or possibly the smoky goodness of Le Labo Patchouli 24 – which smells like a wood fire and vanilla, not like patchouli (making patchouliphobes like myself very grateful). Donna Karan Black Cashmere, either vintage or rerelease, is wonderfully comforting, and for incense I really like Comme des Garçons Incense Series: Zagorsk with its cold-air effect. DSH Twelfth Night is another lovely woody incense; this one reminds me of the smell of the cathedral in Mdina on Malta.

plumeriasNext up is the Tropical Floral Paradise type of scents. Frangipani, jasmine, tuberose, tiare, ylang-ylang, all those big, bosomy, generous florals that I love so much.  Bonus points if you can sneak a little bit of coconut in there. If you normally find BWFs too big for you, fear not – they cover the cleavage when the weather is this chilly, and wear closer to the body.  Parfums de Nicolai Juste une Reve would be wonderful for this purpose.  Frederic Malle Carnal Flower is another big white floral that smells great in cold weather. In fact, the first time I ever smelled Carnal Flower, it was a December day so clear and cold that the air crackled, and it was absolutely perfect. (I don’t, in fact, know of weather that Carnal Flower would not be perfect in. I’ve worn it in sticky August and it was, yes, absolutely perfect.) Escada Margaretha Ley is a warm, snuggly white floral (sorry for mentioning the discontinued). The original Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, which I wore all during my teens, is beautiful in winter; you can still pick up vintage parfum minis on eBay for under a ten-spot, if you are vigilant.  Micallef Ylang in Gold would be another to enjoy, or perhaps Diane von Furstenberg Tatiana, with its spicy-creamy lily. 

icicle lightsYou knew that your friendly neighborhood AldeHo would have some suggestions, right?  Try Sparkly Aldehydes in bitter chill – these sometimes-difficult, blindingly-bright molecules go crystalline with an undertone of powdery warmth in this kind of weather. Favorite aldehydic fragrances of mine for cold include Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, with its feathery iris and creamy benzoin under all those sequined aldehydes (spray a bit more heavily in the cold, or my experience is that it will evanesce too quickly) and Lanvin Arpege, preferably the vintage because its woody base is so very lovely, like polished mahogany. Mariella Burani is another aldehydic thing that gets cozy after its sparkles burn off.  (Sorry, that one’s discontinued. I apologize for mentioning it.) Chanel No. 5 parfum (try vintage, if you can get your hands on it, but the current is still nice) is truly wonderful, or you can go all-out aldehydes with No. 22, particularly the Les Exclusifs version which contains incense and has less of the crunchy sugar-grain thing that bothers me in the earlier versions. Coty L’Aimant – vintage only, you don’t want anything from the 1990s or later – is wonderfully rich, and smells like cooked peach pie once its sparkles float off.

vanilla_extract_01OR you can go Very Vanilla. Vanilla can often be Too, Too Much for me in warm weather, especially when it’s combined with sweet frooty notes as it seems to be in a number of mainstream celebuscents, but it too hugs the body in the cold.  I’m honestly not much of a vanilla fan in general, but I have my favorites.  I adore vintage Coty Emeraude, as regular readers probably remember. Just adore it.  Guerlain Shalimar Light (ack, sorry, another discontinued! Don’t worry, though, just go snag some Emeraude parfum de toilette instead) is a wonderful lemon-vanilla thing, very lovely. Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille is a wonderful almost-gourmand that I keep dithering about getting a decant of. Hanae Mori Butterfly is a delightful, sweet, berry-vanilla a million miles from Kool-Aid ice cream; the related (and, sadly, recently discontinued) Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss is another one I really like.  Finally, there is the sinfully rich Prada Candy, which is not strictly vanilla but rather caramel and benzoin, such a delight.  If you have major cash, you can spring for Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille (though, honestly, I’d rather have the Prada Candy).

Edit: Shame on me for forgetting one of my favorite vanilla fragrances! Like most of my other favorite vanillas, it’s a Vanilla-And scent; that is, it’s not just vanilla.  Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka is, despite its name, a giggly, rummy, spicy carnations in a vanilla-bean-forest sort of thing, and it makes me laugh. Mmmm.

How’s your winter weather? And what fragrances will you be warming up with?


Perfume Review: Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal

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Categories: Fleurmand, Micallef, Perfume review, Tags: , ,

Mon Parfum Cristal M. Micallef for women

Mon Parfum Cristal was released in 2013, intended to be a “more crystalline” version of Micallef’s 2009 Mon Parfum. I have not smelled Mon Parfum and wonder if the “cristal” addition to the name was intended to reference the highly decorative bottles Ms. Micallef often uses, rather than the scent itself.

When I think of “cristal,” the French version of crystal, a few things come to mind: the brand of Champagne (though I’ve never had that, either!), chandeliers, gems, icicles, wineglasses, and… aldehydes. Well, you know me, I’m still the AldeHo.  However, there is nothing clear-and-sparkly about this fragrance. Rather, it is opaque and cuddly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in itself, and the fragrance is very nice. But it’s not very crystalline in nature.

The notes for Mon Parfum Cristal are pink pepper, cinnamon, rose, vanilla, musk, toffee, musk, and amber.  (See? just from the notes list, you’re already thinking What about that has anything to do with crystal?? Well, nothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The fragrance opens up with what seems to me like a bit of orange as well as the pink pepper and just a dusting of cinnamon.

Aside: it has become common among perfume fans to proclaim themselves sick of pink pepper, which always strikes me as being a silly stance to take. Sure, it seems like 80% of new launches contain pink pepper, but given the recent crackdown on citrus notes, I ask you, what are perfumers to do? Pink pepper, a synthetic aromachemical with rosy and mildly piney angles, functions much the same way as bergamot or other citrus notes do, and it serves a purpose. Pink pepper rarely serves as the focal point of a fragrance, but rather as a bridge or accent. (See this Fragrantica article by Elena Vosnaki of Perfume Shrine for more on pink pepper.)  You don’t hear people complaining, “Seems like everything out there contains bergamot these days!” It might be true that fumeheads much prefer citrus to pink pepper, and that stance is understandable. Everyone has preferences. But to complain that everyone is using it seems silly to me.  Whine about the recent overuse of synthetic oud, if you like; oud tends to be used as a focus rather than an accent. Okay, rant over. Sorry. Back to review.

Mon Parfum Cristal moves fairly quickly into its rose-vanilla heart and stays there most of the time. It is rather sweet, given the vanilla/toffee/amber notes, but the rose is really a lovely one, and the whole thing is girly and pretty and pleasant. I really can’t see a man enjoying this one much, but this confection is made for, say, the niece who loves pink. Longevity is good, approximately six hours on me, and the sillage is moderate. I’ve been dabbing from a mini bottle, but sprayed the scent has more presence.  I’d call this a “fleurmand” – a floral gourmand – because it’s focused on the rose and toffee notes.

The fragrance reminds me just a bit of Tocade, though it lacks Tocade’s “That Slut” sexiness, which seems to come both from its frilly rose-vanilla coupled with its smoky, dusty patchouli. Mon Parfum Cristal is every bit as frilly-sorority-girl, but it’s the sorority girl who’s slept the sleep of the righteously-caught-up-on-her-studies, not the one who stayed out all night doing keg stands. However, there is a distinctive “Micallef” recognizability to it as well; I’m not sure what it is, but all of the fragrances from this house that I have smelled seem to have in common a pleasantly-raspy vanilla in the base.

I haven’t seen the actual Mon Parfum Cristal bottle, though I think it is pretty in photos, and looks like it would be a pleasure to hold in the hand. The juice, too, is a pretty peachy rose color.

The perfumer for MPC is Jean-Claude Astier, who seems to have been responsible for much of the perfumed output of Micallef.  I’m not sure that this fragrance is available for purchase in the US as of yet; however, LuckyScent carries the original Mon Parfum, $225 for 100ml, so perhaps they will be carrying MPC soon.

Elena Vosnaki reviewed Mon Parfum Cristal on Fragrantica, here.


Perfume Review: Le Labo Lys 41 and Ylang 49


Categories: floral chypre, Le Labo, Perfume review, White floral, Tags: , , , ,

Le LaboI’ve said it before: Le Labo annoys the fire out of me.  I won’t go into all the reasons here since I yarked about it in my Aldehyde 44 review, but suffice it to say that I find this French high-end niche brand really pretentious, and I mean beyond your typical French attitude.  Also, I have been irritated by the fact that frequently the name of the fragrance does not necessarily indicate what it will smell like. (For the uninitiated, Le Labo names their fragrances after the number of accords and the accord that makes up the largest percentage of the formula.  Ergo, Tubereuse 40 does not actually smell of tuberose; it smells of citrus and neroli in a classic cologne structure.  For a tubey fan bored by classic cologne, GRRRRR. ‘Nuff sed.)

However, I did like Aldehydes 44 (which, stunningly, does smell predominantly of aldehydes, go figure), and Patchouli 24, which had originally skeered the bejesus out of me simply by being named after my bete-noire-ish raw material but turns out to smell like smoke, rubber, leather and vanilla, like Bvlgari Black turning into the Hulk version of itself.  And when I began to hear good things about Le Labo’s new 2013 releases named after lily and ylang, which are two of my favorite raw materials… well, I resisted. And resisted, until I just couldn’t resist any more! I snagged samples.

white flowersLys 41, composed by Daphne Bugey, has notes of lily, tuberose, jasmine, woods, vanilla and musk. And oddly for a Le Labo, that is exactly what you smell. The tuberose-lily pairing is paramount, with wisps of greenish jasmine (with possibly a hint of the bitter-orange of petitgrain, and also the yielding satiny texture of orchid) peeking through. It’s heady but not overwhelming, fresh and soft at the same time — a just-picked bouquet that hasn’t had time to reach full-blown dropping-petals voluptuousness. Eventually it softens to a very gentle vanilla-woods drydown that is neither too sweet nor too rich.  It is, plainly, beautiful, carrying the suggestion of billowing white skirts.  My guess is that a man might find this one too femme and too soft.  I’m dabbing from a vial, and the longevity is not great, 3-4 hours on me despite containing two natural materials that tend to last on my skin (vanilla and tuberose).  Spraying would probably help the lasting power, but since the sillage is gorgeous in the first 20 minutes and negligible after that, you might be in for a very wafty ride, i.e., a stay-home-until-your-cloud-relaxes one.

Ylang 49 is the one that has been making perfume bloggers and critics rave; its floral-chypre braininess is something we bloggers seem to miss in the current perfume world, which seems obsessed with calling fruity, sweet, clean-patchouli frags “chypres.”  Composed by Frank Voelkl, it contains notes of ylang-ylang, gardenia, oakmoss, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood and benzoin.  Vetiver comes to the front of this one for me, hiding the lush white florals underneath rooty, leafy, earthy materials.  There’s an odd, salty, celery note in here (usually that is associated with a jasmine partial material, I’ve heard in talking with Laurie Erickson of Sonoma Scent Studio, and sometimes I get celery in other vetiver scents as well) that I don’t like much, and a bitterness that tends to block the white florals.  This scent I find deeply disturbing, and when Persolaise mentions Dzongkha and Sel de Vetiver in his review, I begin to understand why: both those fragrances are also very earthy and rooty, and they tend to make me think of dank cellars, decomposing jungle vegetation, and pondwater.  I would like to report more on how it develops on skin, and whether it ever gets to a point where I find it bearable, but alas, I cannot. I made it 43 minutes the first time I wore it, and 28 the second, before I had to scrub due to nausea.

pond water

Sorry.  I really am.

I am a Philistine. I don’t like early Duchaufour compositions, and I don’t like vetiver. My recommendation is to Know thyself.  If you love Dzongkha, snap this sucker up.  I tend to do fine with very floral chypres, but not this particular one.

Both of these fragrances are available in the US at Le Labo boutiques and at Lucky Scent, at $145 for 50ml and $220 for 100ml.


Posting delays. again.


Categories: Uncategorized

LAST week’s Scent Diary should be up sometime this afternoon.

I cannot find my review of Madame Rochas (An AldeHo Dishes) and will be having to rewrite it.

Went to the high school’s awards ceremony this morning.  Bookworm was one of the five students nominated for “Most Valuable” (which is an academic/school involvement/leadership/personification of good student values sort of honor), and I’m very very proud of her.  But I was gone all morning.

Gaze has a football game today…

… which I will be missing so that I can go to praise team practice at Cody’s house this evening, thereby skipping out on community chorus practice.

I’ve been writing – but not blog stuff.

Bad Mals.

Let’s just hope next week will be better.  Okay?

Okay, then.


Scent Diary, September 10-16, 2012


Categories: Family, Scent Diary, Tags: ,

This is Try #2 for Scent Diary this week; my laptop ate the first one and I accidentally emptied my “trash” folder before realizing what was in there. Grrrr. In any case, I’m recreating this from memory (and not doing so very well, either). Sorry. Afterburn Roll

Monday, Sept. 10 – Monday’s a blank at this point. Huh. Pretty sure I did grocery shopping, though. SOTD? Anybody’s guess at this point, because I can’t remember. Probably Le Temps d’une Fete because that’s what I wear when I don’t have a craving for something else. No, I was probably retesting Mitsouko parfum. Yeah, must have been Mitsy.

Tuesday, Sept. 11 – The boys helped me put the flag out before they left for school. SOTD? Again, no telling. Can’t remember stuff… OH YES. A sample of vintage Caron Bellodgia on one arm, and one more shot at L’Artisan Fleur de Narcisse (the limited edition thing that all my fumie friends who love hay just adore). Newsflash: the other sample of Bellodgia I tried must have been age-damaged, because it didn’t smell anything like this lovely carnation floral. And Fleur de Narcisse? I love narcissus. Love (real-life) hay. But this? It’s vague green and jasmine and maybe a little manure-ish. Does not smell like hay to me at all, but then most “hay” fragrances don’t smell like hay to me either. I’m done with this one.

Wednesday, Sept. 12 – Cool morning, hot afternoon again. It’s like Northern California all up in here lately. SOTD: Soivohle Green Oakmoss layered with Tauer Carillon pour un Ange, which works surprisingly well because of the earthiness in the base of CpuA. I think I’d rather have CpuA on its own, though. Not feeling so great, myself. Don’t know if this is a stomach bug or something I ate that disagreed with my digestive system, or what.

Thursday, Sept. 13 – Must have been some kind of bug. I feel better.

Gaze’s football team lost their first game of the season. The corresponding high school for the middle school they played is the same size as our county high school (and is a longtime traditional rival), but our county contains two middle schools where this locality has only one. Ergo, they have twice as a big a talent pool as each of our middle schools has. And they are insane about football. (Both my cousins went to this school, and I know. Things have been like that in this town since the 1960s.) It was ugly, 36-16. SOTAfternoon: Cristina Bertrand #3, nice white floral thingy.

Friday, Sept. 14 – Normal cleaning-up stuff that I usually do on Saturday, but we have plans for Saturday so I’m doing it today. SOTD: testing various sample thingies.

Went to the high school early to help work the home side concession stand for the band boosters. It was crazy-busy; I made something like thirty batches of popcorn in the popcorn machine. We sold out of nachos and Mountain Dew and roast beef sandwiches, and sold hot dogs half price in the fourth quarter. Burned my forearm on the heater box that keeps the hot dogs and roast beef sandwiches hot (ow ow ow!). But the football team won, 21-12, and the band performed their full show for the first time and it sounded great. And my percussion buddy TJ told me I smelled good (SOTE: Smell Bent One).

Saturday, Sept. 15 – We took a “Family Vacation Day” and went to Carowinds, an amusement park that’s not too far from home, for the day.  The weather was ridiculously hot and steamy for September, bleah.  I was really proud of Gaze and Taz, who have apparently graduated from kiddie roller coasters up to the more serious ones. They both have been nervous about coasters that take you upside down in a loop, but they rode Carolina Cyclone twice, and would have ridden it again if we hadn’t run out of time. Gaze even said it was his favorite ride at that park. They also rode my favorite coaster at Carowinds: Afterburn, which is a suspended coaster that does double loops and multiple barrel rolls, jetfighter style. I love this thing. Taz said it was “the coolest!” I’d been worried that he’d be scared, but I shouldn’t have been.

Nobody wanted to tackle the Intimidator. For someone who really loves coasters, I am a big monstrous chicken when it comes to heights, and also I really hate and despise (and sort of fear) the chain lift thingy that takes you up to the top of the first hill. I have to close my eyes and talk all the way up, just to take my mind off. Gaze doesn’t like big drops. I also get scared on big coasters that don’t have shoulder harnesses (no, I can handle old-style wooden coasters with just lap belts). The ones that only secure your thighs don’t make me feel safe. I figured that out on Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens, which nearly gave me a heart attack because I felt like I was going to fall out of it, and the Intimidator at Carowinds is similar in structure but even taller, so… just no.

Bookworm will ride just about any roller coaster you throw at her, but even she nixed Intimidator. Her favorite at Carowinds is Nighthawk, which is one of those weirdo rides that sends you up the chain lift strapped in and lying on your back, and then FLIPS YOU OVER and lets you feel like you’re flying. Which is actually sort of cool, but then it takes you backwards lying down at several places, and I Do Not Like That, so the coolness of the “flying” position is overruled by the ickiness of the “backwards lying down” position, in my opinion. I will only ride it so she doesn’t have to go by herself.

The CEO enjoyed one of those really tall “chair” rides. What it does is take you up in a seat with a lap restraint, very very high (it’s a little bit higher than Intimidator), and then spin you around in a circle, and then lowers the set of swinging chairs very slowly. I rode it because I was scared of it, and the general family rule on riding new things is that you really should try something once, unless you have tried something similar that already scared you. I knew I was securely buckled in and not likely to fall out, but I couldn’t convince myself of it and kept feeling like I was going to fall. HAAATED IT. Never doing it again. CEO called it “relaxing,” which he knew would get my goat.

(It’s not like I make fun of him for not riding roller coasters. He actually consented to ride Hurler, an old-style jerky wooden coaster, last time we went to Carowinds, and hated it, and also tackled Loch Ness Monster at Busch Gardens last time we went there, and hated that too. For the record, I first rode LNM – one of the first steel coasters ever built in the US, and one of the first loop coasters into the bargain – when I was eight, and absolutely loved it. I still think it’s a terrific ride, though I admit that coaster technology has really improved since it was built, and it feels a little jerky now.)

All in all, a fun day. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum, which was all I had in my purse because I’d forgotten to put in any other samples or decants. I smelled wonderful.

Sunday, Sept. 16 – Cooler. We were all tired so we went to the 11 am church service, which is jam-packed full of college students, none of whom I knew! We shift to three services next week, which is a nice problem to have, but yow. Three Sunday morning services. We’ve been going to the 9am. SOTD: Soivohle Centennial. I smell yummy. And it’s sweater weather, too.

Someone posted a video of the band’s Friday performance on youtube, and it looks great! The show looks wonderful! Bookworm still hasn’t perfected the trick she’s supposed to do with a saber, but PETBoy had his pirate flag… it’s cute. First competition next Saturday.

Again, so sorry this was late… Check back for an AldeHo Dishes post on Friday!


Scent Diary, Feb. 20-26, 2012


Categories: Scent Diary, Tags:

Monday, Feb. 20: A snow day! The kids are out of school; they spent a good part of the morning sledding on the pasture hill behind the house. I had to get Hayley-dog in because she kept getting in the way of the sleds. In the afternoon, Bookworm went out with PETBoy to visit his mother’s grave, and then they came back to have dinner with us and watch a movie. SOTD: BK Pure Oud.

Tuesday, Feb. 21: Kids went back to school on a two-hour delay, though the snow was gone off all the nearby roads by yesterday. There are places in the county where the roads are curvy, unpaved, shadowed by trees and not heavily traveled. It’s often icy in those places before the sun’s been up for awhile. SOTMorning: DSH Spicy Carnation (Essense Oil). Such a pretty thing, not as polished as her lovely Oeillets Rouges, but very satisfying. The remnants of Pure Oud were still on my wrist from last night, and putting Spicy Carnation on top gave the impression of the gorgeous, vivid, killed-by-IFRA Floris Malmaison.

I should be working on a Fragrance Throwdown that I’ve been trying to do for weeks now – months, even. But I keep getting distracted by other things. Grrr. And Memoir Woman, I’ve been meaning to review that one for weeks as well. It still fascinates me.

In the afternoon, two delights in the mailbox: an ebay purchase of vintage Muse de Coty parfum de toilette (I could not resist bidding on it!) and an advance publicity copy of Denyse Beaulieu’s long-awaited book, The Perfume Lover, as well as a sample of the perfume that an experience from her past inspired. The fragrance was composed by Bertrand Duchaufour, in conjunction with Denyse (of Grain de Musc), and will be released by L’Artisan Parfumeur later in the year under the name Seville a l’Aube. More on both of these things very soon… I’ll just mention now that my bedroom smells beautifully of orange blossom.

Wednesday, Feb. 22: SOTM: Muse de Coty pdt – I’ll have to review this for AldeHo Dishes soon. Interesting stuff. SOTA: Le Temps d’une Fete. Gosh, how I’ve missed Le Temps…

Thursday, Feb. 23: Did laundry, read Joshilyn Jackson’s A Grown-up Kind of Pretty, worked on novel. Took Bookworm to see the physical therapist because she’s continuing to have some intermittent pain in her feet and legs. The PT said that he thought her muscles were becoming accustomed to the new motion of her feet now that her orthotics have corrected her extreme overpronation (feet turning in), and that they needed some extra stretching, so he gave her some stretching exercises to do. SOTD: Amouage Memoir. It was one of those days when I wanted to wear Silences, Le Temps d’une Fete, Chamade, the new L’AP Seville a l’Aube, and Memoir, all of them, and just didn’t have enough skin space (or mental space) to do so…

The CEO relayed to me this jaw-dropping snippet of conversation between some idly chatting students waiting for his Personnel Management class to begin:

Eric: Wait a minute – you go to church?

Megan: He–, yeah, I go to church every f—in’ Sunday!

Friday, Feb. 24: Warm day with rain and a tornado watch. We’re supposed to get a wicked cold front moving in overnight, so SOTM: Cuir de Lancome. Gosh, this thing smells awesome. SOTAfternoon: Amouage Epic Woman. I like this but I do not love it – it’s all peppery incense rose, and it’s nice, clearly good quality stuff, but no way would I even shell out for a decant that I wouldn’t wear. Bookworm had, unbelievably, nothing scheduled for after school today; she was home by 3:40, lugging her two backpacks and flipping that strawberry-blonde ponytail like she didn’t have a care in the world. That’s rare, these days. (She did have too much homework to allow her to take off and spend the evening with PETBoy. I feel sorry for him. We’ve hardly seen him lately, and he’s clearly suffering from a distinct and crippling Lack of Bookworm. She’d be suffering too, if she weren’t so worried about getting all her homework and extra-curriculars done…)

Saturday, Feb. 25: Housecleaning in the morning. Gaze went off to football conditioning. (I must be insane, letting my slight-boned kid play football. He really wants to, and he appears to have at least some skill for receiving. We’ll see how it goes this fall. Track practice starts week after next, and he wants to do that too.)

Then we were off to my parents’ house for a birthday dinner for my brother and his wife, who have birthdays two days apart. A nice afternoon/evening. Choppers D, their two-year-old son, is really growing! Speaking very, very fluently now, too. He remembered that at Thanksgiving, he “borrowed” Bookworm’s watch and wore it all day, and he asked to wear it again. “[Bookworm], I have your watch? I have it, please?” (Good thing her real name is easier to pronounce than “Bookworm.”) SOTAfternoon: Mary Greenwell Plum. Also testing a smidge of Tom Ford Black Violet on my left hand. Interesting stuff. Not my usual thing, but interesting.

Sunday, Feb. 26: This time last week, we were settling in for snow; we got about seven inches. That was the only snow that’s settled on the ground this entire winter, and I doubt we’ll get more. Bummer. Today the temperatures are supposed to be in the mid-50s. SOTD: Amouage Memoir Woman.

We did not watch either the Oscars or the NBA All-Star Game; we watched part of “Red October” on DVD with the kids until it was their bedtime, and then we watched Worst Cooks in America on the Food Network. I’d never seen that one before, probably because my TV has been locked onto ESPN on Sundays up until now! I love Food Network… went to sleep in Parfum Sacre.


Perfume Review: DSH Perfumes Pandora


Categories: chypres, Drawing, DSH Perfumes, Perfume review


Photo from DSH Notebook

Oh, dear. I feel bad about this review… but I’m determined to be truthful. This one’s getting a lot of love from vintage-perfume fans as well as natural-perfume fans all over the perfume blogosphere: Jen at This Blog Really Stinks (who hosted the draw for the large sample I tested – thanks, Jen!), Scent Less Sensibilities, Eyeliner on a CatIndieperfumes, The Non-Blonde, EauMG, Scent Hive, Oh, True Apothecary, Scentual Soundtracks, Perfume Pharmer, Escentual Alchemy.   I love many vintage perfumes too. I like chypres, particularly if they have floral components. I am an AldeHo – if it’s got aldehydes, I’m probably going to like it.   (If I’ve missed some other reviews, please let me know.)

See, the thing is… this is the fragrance that started out as an experiment in naturals, a “modern fragrance in vintage style,” if I’ve got the story right (somebody jump in to correct me if I don’t).

I’m not typically a big fan of “all-natural.” For one thing, I think it’s silly to claim that only synthetic materials can be harmful to the body or the environment. (Oooooh, don’t get me started. The smug attitude makes me grit my teeth in rage.) From a practical standpoint, I’ve been mostly disappointed with the skin longevity of all-natural perfumes, with a couple of notable exceptions (Dawn’s own Rose Vert, and Honore des Pres Vamp a NY). I’m not one of those people who complain all over Makeup Alley that “this doesn’t last, it only stayed six hours and I had to reapply in the middle of the day,” but if I’m not getting three hours’ worth of wear at least, I’m just not interested in spending the money to buy it. I know, too, that all-naturals have different qualities – they tend to sit closer to skin, they tend to “bloom” in unexpected ways rather than lifting slowly off the skin the way fragrances underscored with synthetic materials tend to do – but they’re not qualities that make me excited. I’m always happy to give an all-natural fragrance the good old college try, and I’m willing to make a few allowances, but I’m not predisposed to prefer all-naturals.

I’ll remind you at this point that aldehydes are synthetic. And that I like them.

At some point, Dawn seems to have decided to go ahead and add a few synthetic materials that she felt made Pandora “come alive” – the aldehydes, and a small amount of ozone (unnoticeable to me, by the way). Here’s what she has to say on her blog about the project:

The “Beautiful Evil” is a quote from the story of Pandora as told by the Greek, Hesiod. She is the all gifted, all giving one, a singular woman and synonymous with Eve in many respects. It is she who opens humankind to the knowledge of good and evil and ultimately breaks the utopian ideal. With Pandora, mankind has plagues but also knowledge and maturity. She opens the door to truth and hope.

What began as an all-botanical design for a project changed direction with the addition of a subtle synthetic influence. It made all of the difference. This is also a perfume that also utilizes some new and exotic botanical materials…in Pandora, the ancient meets the 21 century.

The notes feature ruby fruits, bergamot, aldehyde, spices, ozone, violet leaf, davana, cassis bud, green and pink pepper, rose de mai, juhi jasmine, linden blossom, yerba maté, cabreuva wood, orris, green tea, mousse de saxe accord, cyperus, fossilized amber absolute, ambergris, patchouli, vetiver, muhuhu, sandalwood, tonka bean, oakmoss and vanilla.

(Yes, she said oakmoss. Please start breathing again.)

On my skin, Pandora has very good longevity; one spritz will last about four to five hours. There’s no indication on my small sample what concentration I have; the fragrance is available as 15ml parfum ($220, shown above), or as 4ml/10ml eau de parfum ($25/$60).  

The first thing I smell is a cheerfully intense herbal-tea note (if you were worried about the red berries, fear not) under a bright haze of aldehydes. There’s an immediate suggestion that you might accidentally have gotten hold of some vintage Miss Dior, what with the moss and the dry iris in there, and there’s a very old-fashioned air to this stage of the scent. It’s an incredibly layered scent; it contains a lot of notes I can’t identify other than to call them “woody” and “herbal.” Earthy, foresty, and vintage – it’s very pleasant.

A little while later, Pandora segues into a warmer, woody-chypre sort of fragrance with a hint of spice here and there, and I begin to like it a lot less. It’s still layered and complex, but this is not the kind of thing that pleases me. It reminds me somewhat of vintage Magie Noire, but drier and less green, without Magie Noire’s opulent floral heart. There are florals in Pandora – I smell jasmine, definitely, and a bit of rose – but they are not the focus. Instead the focus is on the woody notes and moss.

Eventually the oriental/mousse de saxe base begins to float up through the woody notes, and this is where I have to start gritting my teeth. It’s strikingly reminiscent of several scents that I really dislike: Opium, Youth Dew, Caron Nuit de Noel. Whatever accord it is that those scents have in common, it’s popping up in Pandora, both cloyingly sweet and oily-dusty. It makes the back of my throat ache and I find it unpleasant. But that’s me, my personal taste, and if you like the perfumes I just mentioned you won’t be bothered by it at all.

Pandora is an exceedingly intelligent-smelling perfume, a swirling pastiche of woods and herbs and amber, lightened with a few glints of aldehydes and fruit, a cornucopia of fragrance materials. It is, truly, a vintage-inspired modern fragrance, and if this sort of thing seems up your alley, I suggest that you go get a sample from the DSH website, post-haste! Buy a bottle! Now! Support independent perfumery! (The parfum bottle, by the way, is Drop. Dead. Gorgeous. So elegant – and I do love the beautiful mossy green color of the liquid inside.)

Thing is, Pandora is beautiful… and I do not like it.  This fragrance is not my style, but that doesn’t stop me from recognizing its obvious excellence. A large part of it is natural, and there is something wonderful and solid and complex about natural ingredients. Too, it’s put together in such a way as to create a seamless, smooth, and yet distinctive and bold perfume. Kudos to DSH Perfumes.

My great thanks to Dawn for making the sample available and to Jen at This Blog Really Stinks for hosting the drawing. It is a joy to know that somebody is still making perfume with brains!

Pandora sample on my dresser, next to a tube of Revlon Certainly Red and my favorite garnet-and-pearl drop earrings.

I am happy to be able to pass on this sample to a commenter on this post. It’s a spray sample, approximately 3ml with about 2ml (possibly more) remaining, plenty of perfume left for testing and enjoying! Since it’s a small sample, I’m opening up the draw to commenters outside the US.

To enter the drawing, please let me know if you like any of the other fragrances I mentioned in comparison to Pandora in the review: Miss Dior, Magie Noire, Opium, Youth Dew, Nuit de Noel. Which is your favorite? Do you have any special memories associated with these, either worn by you or a loved one?

Draw will be open until Friday night, October 28, at midnight Eastern Standard Time.  DRAW IS NOW CLOSED.

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