Valentine’s Day 2012: A Dozen Roses, Bottled

The classic – some would say cliché – gift to a woman on Valentine’s Day is, of course, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, a dozen red roses, and jewelry. (My teenage daughter’s boyfriend brought her a card and six red roses yesterday; she gave him a handmade card and some candy. All together now: awwww, how sweet!) I don’t like chocolate in perfume, and the idea of jeweled perfumes will have to wait for another day, so here’s a look at some rose perfumes that I love. (Also, it’s an excuse to post beautiful pictures of roses.)

I do indeed love, love fragrances in which rose plays a major part, from light and girlish ones all the way through to dark Gothic ones. So many fragrances contain at least a little bit of rose – even if you can’t smell it on its own, it’s there, making everything smell round and full. I’ll admit up front that it is very, very difficult to find a rose fragrance that smells just like a freshly-cut dewy rose, because in order to obtain rose essence, the rose petals have to be treated in some way – from steam distillation to enfleurage (which involves pressing fresh petals in fat), to the modern scientific method called distillation moléculaire – and you always get “cooked” rose, not fresh. I figure if I want fresh roses, I’ll go to the florist.

For rose perfumes, I have a stash! Some of my favorites, starting from the light and girlish end:

Continue reading Valentine’s Day 2012: A Dozen Roses, Bottled

Share

Perfume Review: Amouage Lyric Woman

I first read a review of Lyric Woman over at Now Smell This. It was Angela’s review, and a lovely, singing review it is. I immediately ordered a sample from Aedes de Venustas. It sent me into transports of joy. I had to have some. I managed to join a bottle split, and now Lyric graces the most stellar of my days.

Lyric Woman, released in 2008, is described as an oriental floral. The list of notes, according to Fragrantica:

Top: bergamot, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, saffron

Heart: rose, angelica, jasmine, ylang-ylang, geranium, orris root

Base: oakmoss, musk, woody notes, patchouli, vetiver, tonka bean, sandalwood, incense.

Right up top, I do get a small burst of citrus, followed by a spicy melange that seems to me dominated by cardamom and saffron. This is beautifully blended and refreshing, not the Christmasy spiced-cider thing that it could have been. After that, the rose comes up, and it’s that beautiful deep rich rose note that rests on a base of woods, the kind of thing I think of as being a Middle-Eastern sort of rose, translucent and seamless. If you’re looking for the same rose as in Perfumers’ Workshop Tea Rose, or in Stella, here, you won’t find it: it doesn’t smell like that rose. If I sniff very hard I can pick out the ylang-ylang, and the iris, but mostly it’s rose rose rose, with a dry, smooth frankincense and sandalwood. Eventually, the rich vanilla-cream of tonka bean surfaces, but always with that dry, almost-smoky frankincense – which, in Lyric, lacks the astringent, lime-pine character it often has in other scents. (Mind you, I frequently like that characteristic of frankincense, but it would detract from the silken rose-petal quality of Lyric.)

In the Perfumes: The Guide review of Amouage Homage, Luca Turin states that Omani frankincense is “the best and most expensive stuff around.” Clearly Amouage has access to really top-notch materials, because there isn’t a whiff of cheapness about Lyric at all. It smells solid, rich, elegant, with plenty of body but no fluff. Its eyes are deep and mysterious; they promise but do not flirt. The entire effect of the scent is that of rose petals and spices smoldering on a wood fire, an intoxicating waft. LT mentions an “overripe, plangent fruity note” that I never get, and I’m wondering what he smells that I don’t, because I’m typically disturbed by overripe fruit (as in Badgley Mischka, Diorella, and Calyx).

I have sometimes seen Lyric Woman compared to Caron Parfum Sacre, and on the surface I understand why. Both are opulent and rich and romantic, and share some points of congruence: that beautiful woody rose, the spices, the woods and incense and vanilla/tonka bean. However, to me, Parfum Sacre is much more focused on woods and vanilla under the rose, while Lyric’s rose and incense hold hands. Lyric is far dryer, austere yet sumptuous; Parfum Sacre always strikes me as being as maternal as it is sensual. Parfum Sacre sings to me in rounder, softer, comforting tones, while Lyric is dramatic and demanding of my attention. Parfum Sacre, to me, shifts from stage to stage in its development, from lemon-pepper to pepper-rose to rose-incense-wood to incense-wood-vanilla. Lyric smells not linear, but consistent throughout. I can smell spices and rose and incense all the way through, with only the bergamot and tonka bean dancing onto and off the stage. I love both scents, very much, but for different reasons.

Another spicy-rose-incense scent is the dramatic Chanel Coco. However, I have never liked Coco, due to the Youth-Dew accord in its backbone. I was also disappointed in Tauer Incense Rose, which based on the notes should have been something I loved. It just wasn’t, for some reason. Several of the Tauer scents do that citrus-incense-spice combination, and it’s very pleasant, but it doesn’t move me.

Lyric glows for me like a dark jewel, like a faceted garnet holding wine-red flashes in its heart. It has the weight and elegance and sheen of heavy satin. It is noble and lofty and graceful, and I think of it as the dark-eyed beauty I often wished to be, when I was growing up with freckles and skinned knees.

Other reviews: Angela at NST. Marina at PST. Abigail at ISTIA. Patty at Perfume Posse (brief). Donna at PST. The Non-Blonde. Suzanne of Eiderdown Press. Chandler Burr at the NY Times. Another Perfume Blog.  And Tarleisio at Scent Less Sensibilities gives us a Lyric-inspired story that knocks my socks off (go read it – if you don’t know Lyric yet, you will after you read, and if you do know Lyric, you’ll be moved).

Image of Lyric Man and Woman from Fragrantica.  Image of Black Baccara rose from Heirloom Roses. Image of polished garnets from Flickr.

Share

Perfume Review: MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme

A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss, at Amazon.com

I have to blame Denyse of Grain de Musc for this one, which she described as a “bodice-ripper rose.” Because, baby, it really is.

(Not that I regularly participate in bodice ripping of any type, since I never wear bodices, except possibly to church, which is not exactly prime bodice-ripping real estate. It might be Frowned Upon. Even if the church meets in a middle school auditorium and sits in plastic-and-aluminum chairs and listens to music played upon drums and electric guitars. Maybe especially then.)

Ahem. As I say, Lumiere Noire pour femme is one of those woody-patchouli-rose concoctions that I seem to be a total sucker for. I enjoyed Agent Provocateur and its limited edition flanker, DD (Diamond Dust). I liked the part of Guerlain Rose Barbare that did not smell like Rose Barbare-shop (I’ve pretty well convinced myself at this point that this effect is due to an “amber” material that smells like Barbasol to me). I liked Parfums d’Empire Eau Suave. I liked Teo Cabanel Oha. I liked Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma – one of the few ELdO scents, along with Putain des Palaces and everybody’s dividing line, Secretions Magnifiques, that I’ve bothered to smell. I liked Parfums de Rosine’s gritty Folie de Rose. I even liked the reformulated Lanvin Rumeur, for heaven’s sake – not enough to buy it, but enough to spray from the sample vial and say to myself, “Hey, this isn’t bad!” The fact that Francis Kurkdjian seems to be fond of this kind of thing, to the degree that he keeps playing with variations of it (i.e. the aforementioned Rumeur, Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance, Rose Barbare), doesn’t really bother me at all, despite the blogospheric sneers that we’ve smelled it all before: Derivative. Smells like Stella smells like Rose Barbare smells like Sisley Soir de Lune smells like Lady Vengeance smells like Perles de Lalique smells like Coriandre. Boring. Show us Something New.

And I agree, woody-rose-patchouli has been Done Before. L’Artisan Voleur de Roses might have started the revival of this style of fragrance, according to some sources, but it was dreadful: a choking cloud of earthy, oily, yet sharp patchouli, dusted with dried rose petals. I lived through it, but I was definitely not cheerful afterwards.

Also a fact to keep in mind: I really don’t care much for patchouli. Okay, full disclosure: most of the time, I hate patchouli. I seem to be very sensitive to it and can pick it up at extremely low levels, in fragrances where it’s not the focus. It tends to dominate fragrances, so that even if it’s not a star player, it seems like one to me. I don’t have any overtly headshoppy or hippie references for that; in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been around any serious hippies and I’m quite sure I’ve never been in a head shop. It’s just that usually, patchouli seems dirty to me – musty, dusty, funky like old shoes, and I find it unpleasant.

I’ve seen a number of scent bloggers complaining in the last twelve months or so about the proliferation of “clean” patchouli in mainstream fragrances, and how boring that is, how un-patchouli-like, how unimaginative. But all I can say to that is that I rather like clean patchouli. It can be a bit astringent, when stripped of its earthiness, but that is preferable to me. Sometimes you’ll see this referred to as “patchouli heart note” or “refined patchouli,” and it is indeed a grade of patchouli oil that has been refined to remove certain aspects of the natural material.

Another thing I’ve noticed about my reaction to patchouli is that I seem to get on much, much better with it when the patchouli has been aged. It seems to soften and become more herbal and grassy, less dusty and earthy, as if the dried material has been revived to become fresh green leaves. It’s still pungent and aromatic, and almost camphor-y, but it seems that I like patch that way – surprise, surprise! Some of my very favorite fragrances contain a nice herbal-smelling patchouli note, I realized recently: Le Temps d’une Fete comes to mind, in particular.

I like patchouli still better when it’s paired with rose, as I was mentioning earlier with all that talk about Agent Provocateur and Rossy de Palma. There’s just something about sweet, lemony, floral rose that marries well with the herbal-woody-aromatic strength of patchouli; the materials contrast, but somehow share a vibrancy and brightness. The combination is something like a good duet, where the two voices have similar timbres and vibratory frequencies, though they’re singing in different octaves.

Im Boudoir, by Karoly Teuchert, public domain via Wikimedia Commons

Lumiere Noire pour femme does not disappoint me. Right after applying it, I get a moment or two of bright, lemon-candy patchouli, and then I can smell the rose-patchouli duet. There is a period when I really notice the lily of the valley, although I might simply be familiar with the rose-patchouli-muguet combination from smelling Guerlain Idylle EdT (not the original EdP), which has quite a lot of muguet in it as well as those other items. After this bright start, the heart notes settle more deeply into the rose-patchouli territory, the fragrance darkens, and I begin to notice the slightly warm and dirty influence of narcissus and of cumin, both leading toward thoughts of sweaty skin and (dare I say it?) the boudoir. There’s also a hint of something dry and smoky in the drydown, perhaps just a tiny bit of frankincense? It has the sort of lime-pine effect that frankincense sometimes does, and that’s what I think I’m smelling. The entire effect of the fragrance is of light shading toward dark, as if the neon lights and chandeliers of a dressy evening out have led to a passionate personal encounter in the dimness of a private room.

Needless to say, I find it very sexy.

During the short period of time that I owned a small decant of Frederic Malle’s hugely-popular Portrait of a Lady, I compared Lumiere Noire pf to PoaL, one on each wrist. Before that, I would have described Lumiere Noire to be a Dark Rose, a dark gothic rose with kohl-lidded eyes. But next to each other, Lumiere Noire glowed like a candle, while all light disappeared into the far, far darker Portrait of a Lady, proving PoaL to be the true Darkest Rose I’ve come across. Eventually, I grew tired of the heavy balsam in the drydown of PoaL and sent my decant off to a good home with a friend. Although I think PoaL is a truly wonderful fragrance, I just couldn’t manage to wear it myself.

Theda Bara as Carmen, movie still from 1915, Wikimedia Commons

Then I tried Lumiere Noire next to Agent Provocateur Diamond Dust. APDD is recognizable as another rose-patchouli fragrance, but it is another mood altogether, flirty and girl-next-door-sexy compared to the serious, vampy Theda Bara all-out-seduction of Lumiere Noire. The Agent Provocateur is sweeter, with lighter florals (I think I smell jasmine), and friendlier, with more wood and light musk than patchouli.

Notes, according to the MFK site: rose, narcissus, pepper, lily of the valley, patchouli, balsam, orris, cumin. I don’t smell orris or pepper, and I’m not sure what FK means by “balsam,” unless it’s that note I thought might be frankincense. It is available at LuckyScent and Neiman-Marcus, as well as Liberty in the UK, and the Maison Francis Kurkdjian website, at $165 for 70 ml. My decant is about half gone, though I save it for special occasions.

Other reviews:  Denyse at Grain de Musc, Patty at Perfume Posse (brief), Octavian at 1000Fragrances.  In brief blog mentions or comments, Katie Puckrik called it “bombshell rose”, but Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am was underimpressed.  (I was disappointed.  Brian and I often like the same sort of thing.)

Share

Perfume Review: Juliet Has a Gun Citizen Queen

Perfumer: Francis Kurkdjian
Release date: 2008
Sample provenance: my own decant of CQ, thanks to a swap last spring with Queen Enabler Daisy.
Notes: Aldehydes, violet, rose, iris, leather, amber, immortelle, labdanum. The violet isn’t official, by the way, but I smell it.

Daisy had sent me a sample of this, saying she’d picked up a partial bottle at the scent-splits wiki page and had a bit to swap, and since I liked rose, what did I think?  As was my custom in those days, before I learned better, I dabbed on a bit from the sample vial just before heading into work.

Mistake.

Fifteen minutes into the ride, I’m sitting at my desk amid the brake rotors, hoping nobody has noticed my blushes.  This thing is seriously sex-aaay, and not at all the sort of scent one wears to crunch numbers on an adding machine.  I couldn’t bring myself to scrub it off, or even to damp it down a little, because it was so pretty.  Instead, I just sort of hid from my coworkers for the rest of the morning (doable because generally they keep me in the back, like some sort of backordered inventory item).

When I got home, I went straight to the computer to see if I could find my own bottle, or a decant if a bottle was out of my league.  It was. JhaG fragrances are available at luckyscent.com (not affiliated) in the US, and a 100ml bottle runs about $110, which is too rich for my blood, frugal fumehead that I am.  Bottle’s ugly, too, IMO – looks like an upscale shower gel, although it comes in a pretty sueded case like a tiny hatbox. So I hunted up a decant, which was good, because at that point I’d probably have sold my soul   hair  left eye to get some of this stuff if I couldn’t find it any other way.

I was not, at the time, versed in the details surrounding the fragrance company Juliet Has a Gun, and I’m only a bit more familiar with it now.  It was formed in 2006 by Romano Ricci, grandson of Nina Ricci (famous for L’Air du Temps, and still producing fragrance to this day, even if some of them are fruitchoulis).  The name of the company was a play on Signor Ricci’s first name, a variation of Romeo, as well as a declaration of “edgy, modern style.”  Citizen Queen was their third scent, following the straight-up-rose Miss Charming and the rose chypre Lady Vengeance.  Since then, JHaG has produced Midnight Oud (a rose-oud scent) and Calamity J. The only other JHaG I’ve smelled is Midnight Oud, which is quite nice if you like that sort of thing, as I do; it’s a sort of Montale Aoud Roses Petals with training wheels, if you will.  I’m not sure JHaG is all that “edgy” and “modern,” but their scents are generally regarded as being very attractive and wearable, and not your average Mall Candy.

And the name Citizen Queen?  The website doesn’t say, exactly, so I’ll take a stab at what I think it means: 

A long time ago, there was this country called “France.” The poor people who lived there were sick of the rich people taking all their food and money and letting them starve in the streets, while the rich people had big parties and fancy clothes and gold out the wazoo. So the poor people had a revolution and everybody came, and the way they got rid of the rich people, who weren’t very happy about the whole thing, was to cut their heads off. Then the poor people of France who had had their Revolution did something new with the Government, and nobody had special titles like “Earl” and “Baron” and “Comtesse” anymore. Everybody was Citoyen Gaspard and Citoyenne Fontanelle: Citizen This and Citizeness That. If there had been a queen at that point, she’d have been renamed Citoyenne Bourbon. But of course there wasn’t a queen, since she’d already had her head cut off.

So the implication of Citizen Queen is that anywoman/everywoman is a queen. Which, although totally corny, is still sort of Empowerment Cool, IMO.  Then, too, it sounds to me like JHaG is playing off the name of the classic Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane.  To be honest with you, I don’t much care what it’s called, because it’s a wonderful smell.

No, I didn’t take any classes in French history.  I don’t even speak French.  (Worse, my Spanish is getting really rusty, because there’s no one to practice on in the middle of the freakin’ mountain rural South. End non sequitur.) We can lay the blame for my esoteric knowledge squarely on all those historical novels I’ve read way too many of.

I notice that this is one of those fragrances that smells different wafting through the air than it does sniffed directly next to skin.  I love the waft on CQ – although it doesn’t go very far, unlike the Very Frightening Guerlain Insolence, the air is fairly saturated with it within my  officially-sanctioned three-foot sillage radius.  

So what does Citizen Queen smell like?  Well, it does start out with a very light, fizzy dusting of aldehydes; they go by so quickly that if you weren’t paying close attention you might miss them.  I frequently overlook them here and wouldn’t call this an aldehydic floral at all.  (In fact, fragrantica.com calls this a floral chypre, to which I say, GET. OUT. NO. WAY.)  This whiff-of-quinine-water is gone within two minutes, and then I smell a lot of violet.  Violet is not in the official list of notes, but it’s there, trust me, a nice sweet, fresh posy of Parma violets followed by one of those winey-woody rose notes that I love so much. I do not actually smell anything that I could identify as leather; instead, I smell warm skin.  It’s not sweaty, it’s just a warm, friendly, I-just-rolled-out-of-bed skin smell.  Could be a musk, I guess.  I do smell quite a bit of iris, and it tends toward the powdery here.  However, the creamy depth of labdanum (gosh, I love labdanum) keeps it from turning into Granny’s scented powder.  I haven’t a clue what immortelle smells like, and there’s nothing in CQ that makes me think of maple syrup, as immortelle is reputed to smell of, so I don’t think it’s is a large portion of the composition.

Up close I smell more iris and more powdery amber than I smell in the waft, which is more rose-violet-skin musk.  It smells rather naughty to me, although I must admit to you that when I refer to this effect on a forum somewhere, most other sniffers offer gentle demurrals.  In short, they think I’m nuts and are too polite to say so.  Of course, Your Mileage May Vary.

Citizen Queen has become my default Get Some Action scent.  (TMI? Sorry.  Don’t worry, I’m a respectable middle-aged married lady, and that’s all the detail you’re gonna get.)  The CEO seems to like it, but that’s really beside the point.  It puts me in the mood.  One of these days, I’m gonna be a little old crazy lady chasing my husband around the nursing home in our wheelchairs.  One of us will be radiating Citizen Queen, and the other of us will be giggling like mad and pretending to wheel away.  Won’t that be fun?                  

Review Report: I Smell Therefore I AmFragrance Bouquet, fragrantica.com, Feminine Things, The Scented Salamander.

Share

Bouquet of Roses

The rose is so central to perfumery that there is a stunningly long list of rose-centered fragrances, and an even longer list of fragrances that contain it but don’t focus on it.  Today I’m concentrating on perfumes in which rose plays a lead role.  I had thought of simply listing my favorite rose scents, but since a) that list is always changing and b) there are a large number of rose scents that I find pleasant but just Not My Thing, you get a BONUS LIST of all the rose scents I’ve either tried, want to try, or in some cases have simply heard of.  I’m hoping that this will be an organic, always-growing sort of list, and I’m certainly open to suggestions on the subject.   At the moment, there are more than 175 scents on the list, so I hope you’ll be able to find a few that suit you.

So. To simplify matters, I’m going to subdivide.  I’ll list the categories of rose scents that seem to make sense to me – feel free, of course, to ignore the categories or rearrange them however you see fit.  The names in color I’ve tested or worn myself.  Some of these may be vintage or discontinued.  Please forgive the lack of diacritical marks.

In each category, I’ll also be offering a very simple rating based on my very-personal reaction to each scent: I didn’t like it, I liked it, or I adored it.  These are entirely subjective, and you may hate every last one of my favorite rose scents, while finding my reject pile productive.  One perfumista’s “meh” is another one’s treasure. Dislike=*, Like=***, Love=*****. Simple and clear? Good. If it’s not, please ask a question about my idiosyncratic ordering system.

ROSE SOLIFLORES, or SIMPLE, FRESH, BRIGHT ROSE SCENTS:
Jo Malone Red Roses *** A little too powdery.
Sonoma Scent Studio Velvet Rose ***** Once the patchouli settles down, a lovely armful of crimson roses.
Creed Fleur de The’ Rose Bulgare*** Very like Sa Majeste’, but perhaps more lemony.
Montale Highness Rose ***** Beautiful, liqueur-like bright rose; v.v. expensive!
Serge Lutens Sa Majeste’ La Rose *** Lovely, fresh green rose with dewdrops on the petals. I don’t know why I don’t love it, but I don’t. For someone else, it might very well be five stars.
Perfumer’s Workshop Tea Rose *** A little on the mean side, a little too prim for my taste.
Stella McCartney Stella (Please note, there are several flankers for this one. I’m not listing them.)
Annick Goutal Rose Absolue
DSH Perfumes American Beauty *** Deep, rich winey crimson roses.  A little potpourri-ish in spots.
People of the Labyrinths A.Maze
Chloe eau de parfum, eau de toilette (not the old orange-colored tuberose/orange blossom version)
Bvlgari Rose Essentielle
Brousseau Ombre Rose
Vera Wang Truly Pink
Paul Smith Rose
Zara Rosa Bulgara
Crabtree & Evelyn Evelyn Rose
Les Parfums de Rosine Diabolo Rose
Lorenzo Villoresi Donna
Baby Phat Goddess
Keiko Mecheri Mihime
Caron Rose
Stetson Shania
YOSH Sottile
Floris White Rose
Floris China Rose
Shiseido White Rose
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Rosa Magnifica
Czech & Speake Rose
* Very powdery, thin, squeaky thing.
Priscilla Presley Roses & More
Avon Roses, Roses
Coty La Rose Jacqueminot (vintage, discontinued, long-gone)
L’Occitane Rose 4 Reines
MDCI Rose de Siwa
Fragonard Apres Tout
B Never Too Busy To Be Beautiful B Scent
I Profumo Miele Rosa (Honey of Rose) ***  Very pretty – also, very nearly naughty.  Smells like the sheets of a double bed, the morning after, when someone went to bed wearing a rose scent.  (Wasn’t Boudoir supposed to smell like that? Haven’t tried it yet.)

AMBERY OR ORIENTAL ROSES (excluding spicy orientals):
Lancome Mille et une Roses
 *** Lovely and very quiet. The very light ambery base keeps the rose from getting shrill. Well worth smelling, at least. (Why is the liquid blue, though?)
Chloe eau de parfum Intense
Agarscents Bazaar Ambergris Rose Attar (oil) *** Simple rose attar with salty notes. Great in the bath.

Creed Fleurs de Bulgarie * Rose and Dove soap.  Not my thing, but if it’s yours, enjoy.

Yves Rocher Rose Absolue *** Pretty thing – spicy rose jam and sweet amber. Smells very natural and very simple.

Lancome Tresor
Guerlain Nahema  (might be the wrong category here – I can’t say, because I am anosmic to this fragrance)
Rochas Tocade ***** I love That Slut Tocade, with her cheerful vanilla-patchouli.
The Body Shop Moroccan Rose
Bond #9 Broadway Nite ***
A lot like Tocade, only under neon lights.  Reminds me of glitter fingernail polish and is extremely loud.  Nice, though.
Juliette Has a Gun Midnight Oud
Parfums de Rosine La Rose de Rosine
Parfums de Rosine Secrets de Rose
Tauer Perfumes Le Maroc pour elle
Cacharel Gloria
Caron Or et Noir
S Perfumes 100% Love
*  Chocoberry rosechouli.  Um, no.
Penhaligon’s Hammam Bouquet
Parfumerie Generale Brulure de Rose
Vivienne Westwood Anglomania
Amouage Epic Woman
Montale Deep Roses
Sonoma Scent Studio Vintage Rose *
One of the few absolute scrubbers I’ve run across. I’ve tried it four times on different days, and it was Lauder-like (means death to my nose). The longest time I was able to keep it on without scrubbing was 20 min. However, several people I know just adore this one. Must be my skin.
Parfums DelRae Bois de Paradis (some fruit and woods as well, but seems primarily an amber fragrance to me) * Truly dreadful on me. Very little rose, very little wood, but lots of turpentine and sugary amber.
Keiko Mecheri Oliban
Bond #9 West Side

GREEN ROSES (lots of green notes here, but no moss – mossy roses are in the rose chypre section):
DSH Perfumes Rose Vert ***** Some citrus here, but mostly herbal notes plus a soft, natural rose. Expensive, and worth it.
Jacomo Silences ***** Almost more “green” than rose, thanks to galbanum and moss; also a lot of iris. Bonus: cheap!
PdR Un Zephir de Rose
MDCI Un Coeur en Mai
Penhaligon’s Elizabethan Rose

CB I Hate Perfume Tea/Rose *** I should have loved this.  Somehow, I just didn’t. Very pleasant, though, and worth smelling.
CITRUS ROSES (this subgenre is really just not my thing, so no 5-stars here for me):
Clarins Par Amour Toujours
Parfums de Rosine Un Zeste de Rose
***  Attractive, just not my style.
Hermes Rose Ikebana
Eau de Pamplemousse Rose
Cerruti 1881
***  Pretty. I like the citrus-herb stuff.
Pacifica Egyptian Bergamot Rose
Mariella Burani Eau Rosee
Perfumes 06130 Yuzu Rouge
*** Again, I find these citrus roses pleasant but uncompelling.
YSL Baby Doll Paris (and a gazillion flankers)

WOODY or INCENSE ROSES (I’ve sometimes called these Dark Roses, although I’d also include Rose Chypres in the Dark Rose category):
Caron Parfum Sacre’ ***** When I die, I want to be wearing Parfum Sacre – preferably in extrait!
Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose *** Rose+Myrrh. Lovely, but I find myself wanting either more myrrh or more rose.
Gres Cabaret *** Some people have called this a poor person’s version of Lyric. It’s definitely cheaper, and contains a soft, cushy musk that I enjoy. But it’s not Lyric.
Amouage Lyric Woman ***** If there’s no Parfum Sacre’ available, I’ll die in Lyric, thanks.
Frederic Malle Une Rose *** Frightening stuff. It makes me feel threatened. But if screaming insane-asylum roses are your thing, this is your scent. The rose note in it is very beautiful; it’s the woody-amber thing that grates like nails on a chalkboard.
Czech & Speake No. 88 *** Gorgeous spicy-woody thing I’d prefer to smell on a man. Don’t know why.
Czech & Speake Dark Rose *** Very nice woody rose.  I think the Montales are better oud-rose fragrances.
Comme de Garcons Woman 2
Bath and Body Works Sandalwood Rose (discontinued)
ByRedo Rose Noir
Parfums de Rosine Poussiere de Rose
 *** A lot like Feminite du Bois, with more rose. Since I have a partial anosmia to FdB, this version is preferable to me.
PdR Rosa Flamenca
Annick Goutal Ce Soir ou Jamais
Amouage Homage
Fresh Cannabis Rose
Clarins Par Amour***
  Lovely.  A poor girl’s version of Amouage Lyric.  (Could be a poor man’s as well – it’s woody enough for men.)
Montale Black Aoud
Montale Red Aoud
Montale White Aoud
Montale Aoud Damascus
Montale Aoud Roses Petals
*** Slightly-bitter oud-y opening, then lovely pink roses.
Montale Aoud Queen Rose *** Similar to ARP (above), but big florid red roses instead.  I have a very slight preference for this one.
YSL Elle
Keiko Mecheri Gourmandises
Tauer Incense Rose *
Tart mandarin top, winey rose, and patchouli-frankincense base, a bit disjointed.  I expected to love it, but didn’t.
Amouage Lyric Man
Etro Shaal Nur ***  Rose-incense-woods.  Would have loved this one if it had had less patchouli in it.

VIOLET ROSES:
YSL Paris *** A little too loud and insistent for me, but smells good. I’d have to put this one on with a toothpick to be satisfied with the sillage. Insistently girly, so if that’s not your style, you probably wouldn’t like any of the violet roses. (Like Stella, there are many flankers – a limited edition every spring. My favorite flanker, which would earn five stars, is Pont des Amours. I hear Roses de Bois is lovely, too.)
Coty Exclamation *** A little on the powdery side; strikingly similar to Paris, but with a sweet, peachy cast. I’d love it more if it didn’t remind me of high school.
Drole de Rose *** Again, pretty, but didn’t really catch my heart.
Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Lipstick Rose *** Yep. Smells like lipstick. And I would wear that why?
YSL Parisienne * Thin version of Paris with pleasant cranberry topnote.  Uninteresting after fifteen minutes.
Guerlain Insolence (more violet than rose) * Shriekingly loud.  You could successfully torture me with this. 
Ralph Lauren Lauren (Vintage only) *** Very lovely, with a green-herbal cast over the rose and violet.  A little on the soapy side.
Celine Dion Always Belong
L’Occitane Rose Nuit de Mai

SPICY ROSES:
Frederic Malle Noir Epices
 *** More spice and woods than rose, but I’d definitely call it a rosy scent.
Chanel Coco * I find the spices lovely, and the rose attractive. It’s that cursed tolu balsam that just kills the rest of it for me.
Lancome Sikkim (La Collection) *** A gentler, less-tolu version of Coco. Still can’t wear it.
Penhaligon’s Elixir
L’Artisan Safran Troublant
Miller Harris Rose en Noir ***
Very lovely; a lot like Tauer Une Rose Chypree but quieter.
Ormonde Jayne Ta’if ***** Pepper, saffron, rose, and wood. Amazing and beautiful.
PdR Rose Kashmirie
Miller Harris Rose en Noir ***
Pretty woody rose with green notes and spice. Should have been called Rose in Green and Russet.
Il Profumo di Firenze Zafferano

FRUITY ROSES:
Annick Goutal Petite Cherie ***** Pear-rose. I love it beyond all explanation.
Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete ***** Apple-tea-rose, with a hint of melon.  It smells like the blowsy, sweet yellow roses we had in our yard when I was a kid. They weren’t much to look at, but they smelled awesome. That’s why I love this one.
Gianfranco Ferre Ferre Rose
Valentino Rock’n Rose
Lanvin Rumeur 2 Rose
Juliet Has a Gun Miss Charming
Dolce et Gabbana Rose The One
Sonia Rykiel Rykiel Rose
The Body Shop Cassis Rose

PdR Roseberry
Keiko Mecheri Damascena
Dior J’Adore
*** Quite pleasant.  Seems ubiquitous, I smell it on lots of people.
Lancome Miracle
Miss Dior Cherie
(berry-patchouli-so-called chypre) *  Dear Lord, Kill.Me.Now. Nauseating.
Bath and Body Works P.S. I Love You * Extremely synthetic.  I like the occasional B&BW frag, but not this one.
Lalique Tendre Kiss
Parfums de Nicolai Balkis
***  Raspberry rose with some woods, very nice.

ROSE CHYPRES:
L’Arte di Gucci ***** There IS no better rose chypre, IMO. This is the ultimate rubies-on-green-velvet.
Estee Lauder Knowing * As you know, the Lauder base makes me nauseous. This is gorgeous for two hours, if a little more mossy than I’d like, before the cursed Lauder base comes by to kneecap me.
Parfum d’Empire Eau Suave *** A quieter version of L’Arte. Very, very pretty.
Teo Cabanel Oha ***** Spicy rose chypre, somewhat reminiscent of Tauer’s lovely Une Rose Chypree, but without the heavy emphasis on amber that makes that one difficult for some people.
Montana Parfum de Peau *** A little too much leather for me, but really intelligent. Like L’Arte without the screaming neon pink roses – and for me, the screaming pink roses really make L’Arte.
Ungaro Diva *** If I ever run out of L’Arte (not likely!) and can’t find any Oha, I’ll buy this. It’s a little less focused on the rose than the other two, although there’s a huge rose presence. The mossy base is really lovely, and less dirty than the Montana. For some reason it seems to call for my snootiest outfit, while I’d wear L’Arte anytime.
Agent Provocateur
Vivienne Westwood Boudoir
Etat Libre d’Orange Rossy de Palma Eau de Protection
Juliette Has a Gun Lady Vengeance
Giorgio Armani Armani Prive Rose Alexandrie
Guerlain Rose Barbare *
A disappointment for me: started out a thorny rose, then turned into shaving cream.
PdR Rose d’Homme * Like Coco and Drakkar Noir made a baby, a cross between Spicy Oriental and Aromatic Fougere.  Not my cuppatea.
PdR Twill Rose
PdR Une Folie de Rose
Sisley Soir de Lune

Perles de Lalique PATCHOULIPATCHOULIrosePATCHOULI.
Bond #9 Bryant Park
Parfumerie General Corps et Ames
Jean Couturier Coriandre

ROSES THAT DON’T SEEM TO FIT IN ANYWHERE ELSE:
Juliette Has a Gun Citizen Queen
 ***** Technically called a chypre, but really a rose-violet-leather without any moss at all. This one makes my knickers fall down.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Pour Femme ***** Another technical chypre, but I’d describe it as rose-narcissus-patchouli, without moss. Similar to Citizen Queen, but even naughtier.
Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Chypree’ *** Not exactly a chypre IMO, as there isn’t a lot of moss. Lovely amber, with some spice and juicy mandarin topnotes.  Some people find it too rich.
Jean Patou Joy * I guess you could have fit this in under Classic Rose-Jasmine Blends. Joy still smells like dirty underpants to me; the jasmine seems to overcome the rose. I’d never call it a rose-centric scent, although I could be talked into calling it a rose blend.
Cartier So Pretty (a fruity-rose chypre) *** Well-made, interesting thing.  Nauseates me, but that’s the fruity-chypre talking.
Oscar de la Renta Rosamor
Laura Biagiotti Laura Rose
PdR Ecume de Rose
(beachy)
PdR Rose Praline (gourmand)
DSH Perfumes Beach Roses *** Salty, musky rose, very light and pleasant.
Keiko Mecheri Mogador (rose-floral blend) *** Perfect scent to wear to a wedding, or a summer afternoon tea. Lovely stuff.
Parfums de Nicolai Rose Pivoine
Antonia’s Flowers Tiempe Passate
(musky)
L’Artisan Voleur de Rose (patchouli) *  Again, I’m not much of a patchouli fan.  This one scared me.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise (green-iris-rose) ***** Somewhere between Chanel No. 19 and Silences.  Lovely thing with lots of iris and galbanum.
Estee Lauder Beautiful (tobacco rose) *  Gah.  The Estee Lauder base just kills it.  I know, that’s just my nose, so if you do well with Lauders, give it a whirl.
Art of Perfumery 5 (hay rose)
Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs (tuberose-jasmine-rose) *** Pretty, but has no soul.  Honestly, I could have put this one together myself with some good-quality absolutes and a whiff of galbanum.  I liked Mogador much, much better.
Coty Paris (floral blend, vintage and discontinued) *** Lovely retro thing, an elegant aldehydic rose-violet-jasmine-lilac blend that would be perfect for scenting handkerchiefs.
E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose (floral blend)
Viktor & Rolf Flowerbomb (floral blend) *  Anyone for some candied flowers?
Guerlain Idylle  (floral blend)
SIP Black Rosette (no idea on the category here – notes of mint and leather and tea)
Agent Provocateur Strip (so-called chypre; smells mostly to me of iris & labdanum, like a stripped-down 31 Rue Cambon or Alahine – or a floral Shalimar Light without the citrus) *** I like this a lot, but at the same time it reminds me so much of so many other fragrances that I can’t give it five stars.

Want more roses?  Go check out “Raphaella’s Roses” at Sniffapaloozamagazine.

Top image is Romantic rose bouquets from instyleweddings.com (gosh, I want those orange ones!).  Other images are from vintagegardens.com or? ??antiqueroseemporium.com ?- go check out their websites for garden porn.  Everything I see there, I want.

Share

Perfume Reviews: Ormonde Jayne Ta’if and Caron Parfum Sacré, or Two Peppered Roses

In my Pepper post of a few days ago, I promised reviews of these two scents. (I also promised a review of Lumiere Noire pour femme, but that one’s going to take me awhile; it’s very complex and I need some more time to process it.) It also occurs to me right now that there’s a pretty famous Peppered Rose I haven’t smelled: The Different Company’s Rose Poivree – notorious for its first version smelling like a sweaty jockstrap. Apparently it’s been reformulated for polite society – but no sample has come my way as of yet. Ta’if and Parfum Sacré are two favorite scents of mine; they share a spiciness and a warm, winey rose. I tend to associate them in my head for that shared spicy rose, but of course during the side-by-side test I confirm for myself that they’re different.

This is good. How else could I justify having both? Actually, I own only a decant of Ta’if, which is by far the more expensive of the two, and which I obtained in a swap with dear Daisy the Enabler. Parfum Sacré I have only worn in eau de parfum, as the extrait is no longer made and is both hard to find and ridiculously expensive. Just yesterday, an eBay auction for a 7.5ml bottle of Parfum Sacré extrait sold for just under $150. Yes, $150, for a quarter-ounce! No matter how gorgeous it is – and it’s reputed to be The Bee’s Knees – I can’t afford that. Good thing that the edp is wonderful. I have heard that it’s been reformulated as well and is thinner than the original. My bottle, which came from an online discounter in Feb. 2008, must be old stock. It smells just like the samples that came from The Posh Peasant and a swap friend who bought her bottle in 1998: wonderful.

Today’s experiment was to wear Ta’if on my left wrist, Parfum Sacré on my right. Here are the notes for each:
Ta’if: Pink Pepper, Saffron, Dates, Rose Oil, Freesia, Orange Flower Absolute, Jasmine, Broom, Amber
Parfum Sacré: Lemon, Pepper, Mace, Cardamom, Orange Blossom, Rose, Jasmine, Rosewood, Vanilla, Myrrh, Civet, Cedarwood

The similarities are apparent – pepper, spicy notes, orange blossom, rose, and jasmine are congruent. At the beginning, each scent is strongly peppery and spicy. (And yes, I know that pink pepper is a dried berry, not a true peppercorn. It smells like “fruity black pepper” to me. I like it. Kwitcher whining.)

Ta’if smells quite peppery to me at the start, and it takes a few moments for the saffron to show up. I like that saffron note, whatever aromachemical it is – saffron seems creamy and smooth to me in perfume, and it’s a texture I enjoy. But very soon the dates come to the fore, and for several hours Ta’if is all about creamy saffron, the sweet dried-fruit character of dates, and that beautiful rose. Bookworm likes Ta’if; it’s probably the sweetness she finds appealing. There in the heart of the fragrance, there’s a fresh floral presence which could be the orange flower but is probably freesia, since freesia has a cool, dewy, florist-case quality that my brain calls “fresh.” This is such a pretty fragrance. I wouldn’t call it girly – but gosh, neither would I term it Edgy, as Luca Turin seems to imply in his review of it in Perfumes: The Guide: ‘Wear it when the desert wind blows, as Raymond Chandler put it, “one of those hot dry Santa Anas that … make your nerves jump and your skin itch…”’ Good grief. Wonder how he got Edgy out of the not-quite-gourmand saffron+dates+rose, which I consider the true character of Ta’if, and which lasts for a good three-four hours on me. As the drydown continues, it gets a little less pleasant; the amber is not my favorite type (labdanum cistus), and there’s nothing else in the base with anything near the rich sweetness of the heart. However, by the time the drydown arrives, the fragrance is nearly gone. There is a dreaminess about Ta’if, a head-in-the-stars sort of innocence about it.

On the other hand (literally!), Parfum Sacré begins with very “kitcheny” notes – it’s primarily lemon pepper, both aromatic and a little dusty. Just as I begin to think, “Well, if there’s lemon pepper, I must be cooking fish tonight,” the nutmeggy mace and the cardamom come in, hand in hand with that beautiful winey rose PS shares with Ta’if, and it’s not kitcheny anymore. I smell a good bit more orange blossom in PS than I do in Ta’if, but PS is still largely a rose fragrance in my mind. Oddly, Bookworm smells only pepper and wood in PS, no rose at all, while I get mostly rose and incense. The wood is there, of course, and I sometimes think of Dolce Vita when I wear Parfum Sacré, but I smell a great deal of myrrh too. There is supposedly vanilla in there, and civet, but I am not conscious of smelling them. The drydown of PS is beautiful; it is rich and mysterious and layered. Parfum Sacré is one of those rare fragrances that I wear for comfort, but which also seems very sensual to me. I think of phrases like “the eternal feminine” in connection with PS.  When I wear it, I feel very feminine: both very motherly, and very… well, interested in doing what women do in order to become mothers. It also has that magical quality of melting into the skin, becoming part of me instead of being simply a scent I wear.  It was one of the first scents I fell in love with over the past year, and every time I have worn it since, I’ve been glad I bought it.

Summing up in a few words:
Ta’if is a rich, sweet rose, with saffron and dried fruit, idealistic and young at heart.  I love it.
Parfum Sacré is a rich, warm rose, with pepper and wood and incense, emphatically womanly.  I love it deeply.

Top image: Rose Bouquet Well-Defended by bartholmy at flickr.
Second image is from ormondejayne.com.
Third image is from fragrancenet.com.

Share

A Dusting of Pepper

Pepper is one of those seasonings everybody always has on hand. It’s a basic – a staple, if you will, although when I label the pantry shelf where I keep things like flour, sugar, and Life cereal “STAPLES,” The CEO is wont to snicker and ask where I keep the rubber bands and copy paper.
Ha ha. Very funny.
I always have pepper in the house, with a backup supply in the pantry.  The reason is my youngest child: Taz, aka The Picky One. Although each one of my children has grown up with the very same parents, the very same parenting style, and the very same on-site sous chef (that would be me, in case you’re wondering), I have one child who will eat practically anything*, one child who is deeply suspicious of new things but can be convinced to try many of them**, and one child who resists any food that isn’t his favorite with the will and cunning and ferocity of the Mossad, less the garroting skill. Which, incidentally, he may decide to pick up on his own, so I’m limiting his TV time to be on the safe side.
At one point, I realized Taz, then a preschooler, was subsisting on a menu that included only the following: Cheerios. American cheese. Goldfish crackers. Chicken breast nuggets. Milk. Red food (Jell-O, ketchup, and red apples, which must nevertheless be peeled and thinly sliced before he ate them).
At later stages, he added foods like plain meats and tilapia baked with parmesan cheese, broccoli, green beans, peas, fries, mandarin oranges, Mini-Wheats, gummy fruit snacks, and quesadillas. Of course, nearly all these foods – bar the fruit and cereal – absolutely must be covered with ketchup.
Or freshly ground black pepper. He’ll settle for the pre-ground cheapie kind if he must, but he really likes the kind that has to be mauled before it can be eaten. (Am I reading too much into that, or is his testosterone level just that high?) Taz adores a buttered roll liberally sprinkled with black pepper – sprinkled, I mean, to the degree that the surface looks a little bit like our gravel road.
I myself love pepper — pepper on salad, on beef, on salmon… One of the single most delicious things I have ever eaten, ever, was fresh ripe strawberries tossed with a little sugar and a profligate dusting of cracked black pepper. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s synergy; the three of them together are amazing. Pepper smells hot and alive, almost like it might be vibrating inside your nasal cavities. Another favorite pepper recipe involves rubbing a mixture of salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and cumin onto a pork tenderloin before roasting. Easy-delicious. Even Taz eats it!
I love pepper in my perfume, too. (Pink pepper is another item entirely, and that’s a subject for a future post.) Two of my favorite scents involve pepper and rose, and I’ve mentioned them before: Ormonde Jayne Ta’if and Caron Parfum Sacré. Another gorgeous rose scent, Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Lumiere Noire pour femme, has pepper listed in its notes. Other peppery scents I like include Annick Goutal’s odd little scent Mandragore, perfume blog fave and sadly-discontinued Fendi Theorema, Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, and DSH Perfumes’ absolutely-gorgeous, wish-I-could-afford-it Oeillets Rouges. Then there’s Frederick Malle Noir Épices, which I haven’t smelled yet but am hoping to find a sample of in my mailbox sometime in the next month or two.  And the ridiculously-expensive Caron Poivre, which I think I’d looooove but haven’t come across yet.
I’m thinking of doing a side-by-side-by-side comparison with the three peppery rose scents soon: Ta’if, Parfum Sacré, and Lumiere Noire. To be honest, it was only when I went searching through my Excel file looking for any pepper fragrances I might have missed that I realized Lumiere Noire has pepper. That one’s all about rose and narcissus doing their naughty tango, or so I remember, and perhaps I’d better wear it again on its own instead. I don’t think it takes prisoners; it would probably eat Ta’if and PS for breakfast, and I’d be swoony and weak-kneed but no closer to a good compare-and-contrast description.
Coming soon to a blog near you: full-length reviews of the three peppery rose scents.
Top image is Yellow Pepper Mill by deardaisycottage; bottom one is Peppercorns by bazzinator, both at flickr.
*Bookworm will eat just about anything that’s on your standard American menu, particularly vegetables, but doesn’t like beets or brussels sprouts (both of which I really enjoy).
** Gaze tends to turn down sauces, and things cooked in them, unless the sauce is tomato-based, or Rachel Ray’s lovely Orange-Thyme sauce for pork or chicken. He also does not care for beets or brussels sprouts, and, inexplicably, dislikes mashed potatoes and cheese – I’m thinking of having his DNA tested to make sure he’s my kid.
Share

A Few Swoony Rose Scents

I feel like going off the deep end with some luxuriant, voluptuous, carmined, velvety Dark Rose scents.  SOTD is Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur (did anybody think a name that long was a good idea?), and while it is lovely, I’m waiting for it to wear off. 

I simply want Take No Prisoners Rose at the moment.  I want to reread Philippa Gregory’s sensual and frightening Wideacre; I want rose petals in my bath; I want a cashmere sweater in the richest deep red.  I am longing to sniff a couple of new ones – the Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire PourFemme (you can read Helg’s voluptuously-written review here– she’s clearly smitten!), and DS&Durga for Anthropologie East MidEast (Kevin’s more straightforward review is here).

I’m not sure what to wear next, but here are a few of my options.  Most of these are decants, the full bottles being a little out of my price range, which is why I’m careful with dosage – something in my brain goes cha-ching! every time I spray.  Not to mention that most of these are also Grande Dame Perfumes with corresponding sillage…

Amouage Lyric Woman – deep wine-y rose and dry, smoky, astringent incense.  Piercingly beautiful, Leontyne Price singing Vissi d’Arte.  Quite expensive, but in this case, price indicates quality.
Ormonde Jayne Ta’if – a rose of the desert, sweet and deep, dusted with pepper and saffron, standing barefoot under the stars.
Caron Parfum Sacre’ – lemon-spice-pepper and rose, flowing into warm vanilla-woods and cool myrrh.  This is the mother that tenderly kisses her sleeping children before becoming a lover again in the bed of her marriage.
Gres Cabaret – rose curled atop a down comforter before the fire, letting its smoke twine through her hair.  Wonderful fragrance, ugly bottle, unbelievably great price.  I think I said something about “toasted marshmallow” before, but it’s not sweet – what I was getting at was that cushy, pillowy musk.
Juliet Has a Gun Citizen Queen – rose dolled up for the nightlife, in a violet bustier, fishnets and leather stilettos – and a killer-diller red lipstick.  Very, very sexy.

That Slut Tocade is little too flirty and shallow for the current mood, L’Arte di Gucci a little too imperious.  I’ll take my roses rolling in passion today.

Come slowly, Eden
Lips unused to thee.
Bashful, sip thy jasmines,
As the fainting bee,
Reaching late his flower,
Round her chamber hums,
Counts his nectars – alights,
And is lost in balms!
                                   – Emily Dickenson

Share