Mini-Reviews Roundup, Feb. 2017

Le Galion La Rose – a 2014 reorchestration of a 1950 fragrance, La Rose is not the soliflore I’d thought it would be. It is warm and woody, and yes, rosy. Very attractive, comfortable, pleasant; more interesting than a plain rosewater scent but I find it quite comforting.

Head notes | Bergamot, Violet Leaf
Heart notes | Rose, Ylang Ylang, Water Peach, Royal Lily
Base notes | Cedar, Patchouli, Vanilla, Musk

I have no idea what “water peach” is, but La Rose doesn’t accent any peachy notes. It’s not particularly vanilla-y either, which is refreshing. I mean, a gourmandy rose-vanilla is always nice (Rochas Tocade, Lush Rose Jam, Montale White Aoud, etc., etc.), but this one is mainly fresh pink rose and soft woods. Very lovely. Lasting power is about average for an eau de parfum on me, 4-5 hours, and the sillage is mild to moderate. €140 for 100ml, €9 for a 6.5ml mini at the Le Galion website.

Short reviews at What Men Should Smell Like and Colognoisseur.

Dame Perfumery Desert Rose – A bit of overlap here with the Le Galion, but… you know. Rose. Duh. I’m always a sucker.

Dame Perfumery says this about it: “A blend of Turkish rose otto and Damascenia Rose with touches of peach, Sicilian lemon, Egyptian jasmine, geranium, carnation, heliotrope, sandalwood, musk, amber and vanilla.  For a woman, mostly.”

I suppose in my mind, a desert rose would be dry, but Desert Rose is quite pleasantly fresh and dewy, at least for the first half. I was thinking that “Damascenia Rose” was a typo, since I had only ever seen it written “damascena.” Turns out that Damascenia is a Firminich molecule. Whatever it is, it’s really pretty in this fragrance, which does smell fairly natural. I get little touches of peach in it, as well as carnation, but as it wears on, the whole thing goes a bit soapy. $85 for 100ml edp spray, $35 for 10ml oil rollerball, $10 for $5ml edp spray.

Short reviews at The Scented Hound and Scent of Abricots.

The fancy engraved bell jar, which is even pricier than the regular $300 one.

Serge Lutens De Profundis – I had only a vague memory of testing this one before — you know me, not the biggest Serge Fangrrl — and wanted to retry it. I am completely ignoring the wacko Serge description (death, chrysanthemums, carnality at the graveside ew ew ew, no, I’m not quoting it here) and the letter Oscar Wilde wrote to his bosom buddy Lord Alfred Douglas from prison, which is the purported inspiration for the fragrance. And maybe the Fleurs du Mal Baudelaire reference too.

To be honest, the backstory put me off trying the fragrance seriously for a long time. Instead, I have focused on the “Out of the deep” movement from John Rutter’s Requiem. The Rutter is one of my favorite choral pieces, and it is somber and gorgeous and ethereal. And then there’s the J.S. Bach setting of Psalm 130, also wonderful. (FYI, there are two Bach settings of this text, and it’s not Cantata BWV 131 but BWV 38 that I remember.)

“Life!” by Mohan Nellore at Flickr, some rights reserved.

De Profundis the fragrance does not move me the way the Rutter does, but it is very very pretty. Yes, I just called a Lutens “pretty,” and I’m not takin’ it back. It’s pretty, y’all. Shaddup. It is both bold and tender at the same time, quite floral and cool and meditative, and while that may be because I don’t associate any particular flower with funerals, still. I like chrysanthemums in flower, and I like them in this fragrance along with the carnation and the violets and the incense.

I could wish for better projection and longevity from this one, at least from a heftily-dabbed sample. Maybe it’s better with a spray application, but I got about three hours’ wear and very little sillage.

De Profundis will run you $300 for a 75ml bell jar at the Serge Lutens website.  (Ow. And that’s for the plain one, so nope.)

Other reviews: Grain de Musc, Kafkaesque, Bois de Jasmin, Scents of Self, Patty at Perfume Posse.



blue and white hyacinths

It’s that time again. It’s spring, and I’m craving spring florals bursting up out of the wet ground. Narcissus, hyacinth, tulip, I want ’em all – in bloom, and in my perfumes.

Hyacinth in perfumery often seems to take one of two tacks: either spicy floral, or chilly metallic. I have a definite preference, and frequently find that fragrances which are supposed to be “hyacinth” don’t smell anything like the real flower to me. (Looking at you, Bas de Soie.)

I love hyacinths in bloom, however, even with that hint of decay they give off along with their greenness and their spicy aspect.

Fragrances with a hyacinth note to consider:

Serge Lutens Bas de Soie – Oncle Serge’s list of notes, always brief, includes galbanum, hyacinth, iris, spicy notes and musk. Unfortunately for me, Bas de Soie comes off as all metal. I tried twice, but wearing it was like chewing tinfoil. (I shudder to remember it.)
Eric Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth – I could wish for a tiny, tiny bit more floral stuff, but this is green and stemmy to a perfect degree, with no metal. Gorgeous.
Tom Ford Ombre de Hyacinth – Another icy metallic one. Notes are galbanum, hyacinth, cloves, incense, and benzoin, and I should have loved it. I don’t. I might have liked it better had it been named “Ombre Argent,” but then again, maybe not.
Guy Bouchara Theosiris Classique – Described as a green floral with hyacinth and narcissus. I’m intrigued enough to be watching it on eBay.
Penhaligon’s Bluebell – Five minutes of beautiful green/spicy floral, followed by Gigantic Chemical Spill. Double no.
1000 Flowers Fleur No. 1 – green notes, galbanum, narcissus, hyacinth, iris, magnolia and violet. How can I turn that down? (Well, actually, I’ll tell you how: I can’t get a sample from this Canadian company. Would love to try it, though.)
Union Gothic Bluebell – notes include hyacinth, narcissus, violet leaf, ivy, oak and bellflower. (Do bellflowers have a smell? The ones I’ve grown don’t.) See my note on Fleur No. 1 as to why I haven’t tried this one, except that this is a British company rather than a Canadian one.
Annick Goutal Grand Amour – another hyacinth-floral mix, this time with a deep, sweet ambery base. I think it’s nice, but I don’t love it and I don’t know why not.
Gucci Envy (discontinued) – another supposed green floral with hyacinth and lily of the valley, that instead smells of aluminum foil.
Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – the newer version (smooth leaf bottle) is probably more hyacinth-and-green-leaves than the old (upright veined leaf bottle), which has a more strongly floral cast and centers more on lily of the valley. Both are nice.
DSH Perfumes Jacinthe de Sapphir – gorgeous spicy hyacinth, not green at all, with orange blossom and jasmine over a deep balsamic base. Loved the hyacinth, couldn’t deal with the Youth Dew balsams.
CB I Hate Perfume To See a Flower – this is the wet spring dirt accord from CHIHP’s Black March, along with green notes, hyacinth and narcissus. I love the smell of this, but I can’t wear it. It makes me cry.
Annick Goutal Heure Exquise – Not really hyacinth-centered, but it’s there amid the galbanum, iris, rose and musk. Gorgeous.
Guerlain Chamade – Again, I don’t find this one centered around hyacinth. It makes the list because it is beautiful all the way through.
E. Coudray Jacinthe et Rose – Rose and hyacinth, pretty much, with a touch of peach and a bit of green over musk. It reminds me of a shower gel I owned and loved in college (named, inventively, Peach Rose Hyacinth, though I can’t remember the company name). It’s simple, but very very pretty.
Ralph Lauren Safari – Safari is pretty busy, actually, jam-packed with notes. Galbanum, marigold, hay, woods and benzoin are prominent to my nose, but the hyacinth is in there.
Smell Bent Florist’s Fridge – with a name like that, I expected (and wanted) a bit of rose in there with the other florals, including hyacinth. Layer it with a fresh rose fragrance (like Diptyque Eau Rose, or any of the YSL Paris Printemps editions) to get that feeling of sticking your head into the chiller and picking out your own bouquet. I can’t be the only one who loves that, right?
Henry Dunay Sabi (discontinued) – green spring floral (hyacinth, narcissus) with lots of vetiver. Nice. Bottles pop up on ebay for $200 and up, from time to time, but you’ll have to fight its aficionados to the death to snag one.
Thierry Mugler Les Exceptions Supra Floral – hyacinth over amber and oud. The heavy basenotes have scared me off testing this one (well, that and the fact that this was an LE). Could be good, though.
Paco Rabanne Métal (discontinued) – another green floral with hyacinth. I suspect that it is fully as metallic as its name, so I haven’t tried it.
Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet (discontinued) – I’ve raved about this one before: big wet slap of marigolds and galbanum, then quiet white flowers and hyacinth. Beautiful. Curse you for killing it, Clive Christian.


Five for Summer, 2015

summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons
summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons

HOLY MOSES, it’s summer already. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t like summer. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s boring. I’m not a beach person. Gah. But I do change my seasonal perfume rotation to deal with summer, and here are a few fragrances I really enjoy wearing in hot weather.

Cool and refreshing: Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl. Go ahead and roll your eyes, perfumistas. I’ll wait.

You done? Okay then. There is something so unmussable about Tommy Girl, which survives heat and humidity with aplomb. Her hair doesn’t go limp (or frizzy) in the heat; her clothes don’t wilt. She goes on radiating relaxation and freshness for a long, long time, and that effect of drinking iced lemon tea on the porch near the flower beds is very welcome to me when I’m outside in our muggy summer weather. Don’t shoot the messenger, but Luca Turin was right about this one.

So Pretty: Carven Le Parfum. I know a lot of perfume people found this one underwhelming, but most of them have less interest in the Just Pretty than I do. I love a just-pretty, and this one is wonderful if you like that kind of thing. I like that kind of thing. It’s basically mandarin, sweet pea, jasmine, rose and a very cleaned-up patchouli/quiet woody base that lasts fairly well.

Green and composed: Jacomo Silences, the original. My bottle is the old 80s parfum de toilette, which has aged very well, probably due to its black bottle. It’s an air-conditioned blast of galbanum and the restrained elegance of iris and moss, with florals, particularly rose, in between. I have the reissued Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, and it’s nice, but it lacks the bold eerie calm of the original, which has just been discontinued. Go buy some now, before it disappears from the discounters.

Zingy floral: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune. Grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, petitgrain, something floral that I swear smells like rose to me, neroli, clean herbal patchouli and woody notes. Yeah, sure, it’s got that almost sulfurous thing going on up top, but I love it, and this citrus/floral thing is really refreshing in the heat. I’m less happy about the patchouli in the drydown, but I don’t like patchouli in general. It’s saying something that I don’t want to scrub this off when the patch floats up; instead I just want to reapply.

Most people love citrus fragrances. I usually don’t – the only traditional citrus/herbal/floral cologne I own is a small decant of 4711, and I don’t use it all that often. But I love a citrusy floral, and Pamplelune hits the spot. I’ve gone through a couple of minis so far, and I keep waffling on whether to buy a real bottle. Perhaps I will, when my Moschino Funny! is all gone.

And of course, I have to have a BWF. Always need a Big White Floral. Doesn’t really matter which one I pick, because they’re all good in the heat. Maybe not so great if you’re trying to get work done, because they can eat your head and monopolize your senses. But there’s nothing more swoony. Suggestions: Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower or Le Galion Tubereuse (the rerelease), if you like your BWFs joyful and lighthearted. Escada Margaretha Ley (discontinued. #sorrynotsorry) or Honore des Pres Vamp a NY (bonus: all-natural) if you like them coconutty and tropical.

(Heh. I just crammed four perfumes into a one-perfume slot – how about me?)

So – what’s for summer wear in your neck of the woods?


Perfume Review: Esther P Fragrances

Esther P is a new company based in Canada, selling fragrances created in Grasse, France. From the website’s “About Us” page:

After selling perfumes in her shops for years, Josette André decided to create her Esther P line when she realized that people who love perfumes were often disappointed by mass production. Hundreds of issues every year, that finally were all smelling similar, aiming to please everybody, and not fulfilling the expectation of the connoisseurs. Most of the time, perfumes are marketing products, and customers have to follow the trend. This is not our vision.

For us, wearing a fragrance is a very personal decision. It must fit your personality, and you have to wear it and feel comfortable with it in the same way you wear your favorite clothes. Our products are certainly not a one-fits-all line, for us, each woman is unique. Never would our fragrances copied from an existing one. Each one would represent for a woman a moment close to her feeling, imagination, or way of life. These fragrances are a creation for someone wanting a unique, personal, made- for- her-only fragrance.

The main idea Josette gave to our creator, was “Simplicity”, hiding a very complex creation. This same simplicity crowns the culmination of techniques and skills supported by high standards of quality products. For each fragrance, we have chosen the purest and most natural components. Every time it is possible, we use natural ingredient, and when available, products from France. Our production reflects the luxury French signature. Ingredients, complex and modern harmonies, chic bottles, we want Esther P to be on all counts the ambassador of French elegance.

These fragrances will be sold through a network of independent and selected stores.

I recently won a sample set of Esther P fragrances from online retailer IndieScents, and wanted to review them briefly here. Fragrance info was taken directly from the Esther P website. 


Barbara is a woman living energetic days. Fresh with Lime and Spicy Anise, and the long lasting feeling of wearing fresh white linen. The Amber and Musk in the background reveal the sophisticated side of this lively woman.

Floral Oriental. Eau de Toilette.

Head notes: green notes, anise, sweet fennel, lime

Heart notes: jasmine, cotton flower

Base notes: ambergris, musk

Testing Barbara: Green notes apparent up top, along with something that smells like pear. Tiny touch of lime, not getting the anise. I don’t know what “cotton flower” smells like, but if it’s that “clean” thing you get in the B&BW Cotton Blossom, I don’t like it. Basically, after the first few minutes, this smells like clean laundry.  Not quite as nice as AG L’eau du Ciel, either.


Barocco is a floral harmony, elegantly blending Tuberose, Ylang-Ylang with a Jasmine heart and spiced clove. For a stunning and passionate woman. Soft Floral. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: white flowers, ylang-ylang, tuberose

Heart notes: lily of the valley, jasmine, spices, clove

Base notes: ambergris, white musk

Barocco starts off with JASMINE and some muguet; I’m not picking up on any tuberose or ylang, or indeed any spices.  It is soft, and it’s reminding me to some degree of something or other a friend’s mother used to wear, back in the 80s. This, however, is much quieter (and duller).  Eventually it begins to warm up, with less of a synthetic jasmine feel and more of a white floral mix.  However, it then dives straight for the laundry musk.  It’s a bit like Jessica McClintock’s fragrance.

Boteh Esther P for womenBoteh

A dreamy oriental. Filled by images of cashmere, gold embroidery, soft pillows along pools fragrant of Mysore sandalwood and Damascus roses. Green Oriental. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: grapefruit, blackcurrant, hyacinth

Heart notes: jasmine, Mysore sandalwood, rose

Base notes: vanilla, ambergris, musk

Testing Boteh: Blackcurrant immediately apparent, as well as the rose and vanilla. Up top, it reminds me a little of Moschino Funny, except that it also has a dusty, baby-aspirin quality I don’t like much.  Also reminds me a little bit of Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal, though I think that has better materials. This is wearable, though.

Fugue Esther P for womenFugue

Behind the fresh citruses and white flowers, a hint of discreet woody scent and musk, for a woman sure of herself, an apparent simplicity for a complex and sophisticated woman.  Oriental. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: mandarin, bergamot, pineapple

Heart notes: lily of the valley, iris, jasmine, heliotrope

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, tonka, musk

Citrus and musk, that’s all I’m getting. Maybe a little bit of muguet.  Not an oriental – it’s mostly laundry musk with some pale woody notes.  I don’t even smell any vanilla. It’s somewhere between Cashmere Mist and Light Blue, without the Cashmeran of the former and the Windexy aquatic notes of the latter.

L'Eau d'Emma Esther P for womenL’eau d’Emma

 “L’Eau d’Emma”, fresh and crisp. A harmony of sweet orange and fruity mandarin, with summer jasmine and iris, shaded by a cedar tree. Fresh floral. Eau de Toilette.

Head notes: citrus (mandarin, bergamot, lime, sweet orange)

Heart notes: jasmine, iris

Base notes: Atlas cedar, patchouli from India

This is a beautiful citrus fragrance, not quite a traditional cologne, but similarly fresh and invigorating. It starts out with a very lovely mixed-citrus blast, which is joined by that very clean jasmine material, and then a pleasant cedar… but then it goes to white musk, again. Overall it lasts a little less than two hours on me. This is not a type of fragrance I really enjoy – I don’t particularly enjoy citrus florals – but this one is very refreshing and attractive. I would still rather have Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune for a citrus floral (grapefruit, jasmine, rose, cedar and patchouli), particularly at this price point.

Queen of Persia Esther P for womenQueen of Persia

Queen of Persia….A soft and modern Oriental fragrance. Rose and Jasmine, the symbol flowers of Grasse in Provence. Candied fruits soften the very modern note of incense and patchouli. Ambered Oriental. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: mandarin, bergamot, rose

Heart notes: jasmine, rose, candied fruits, iris

Base notes: vanilla, patchouli, frankincense

This is really pretty. It might be my favorite of the line. Not particularly “candied,” thank goodness, and it’s not as high-pitched as some of the others I’ve been smelling from this line. They are NUTS calling it an “ambered Oriental,” though, and regular readers will know that I am definitely not much of a customer for either amber or oriental! It’s neither. It is a rose-jasmine floral with a nice non-laundry base, and it’s somewhat similar to Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, without CM’s screechy patchouli.  It’s pleasanter to wear, but also doesn’t last the way a real oriental would – a good .3 ml application was gone in three hours.

The PR material makes a point of saying that these fragrances were all composed in Grasse, and that they reflect the centuries of perfumery originating there… but my opinion is that these are not particularly original, and they’re not going to appeal to perfume fans. As far as that goes, they smell fine. They’re at least department-store quality, or perhaps a little better, because although they do have that ultra-clean, streamlined feel of floral synthetics, there are at least some natural florals mixed in.

Longevity on these, on my scent-eating skin, is very bad, ranging from 2 hours to 4. Sillage tends to be very quiet to moderate, even with the heftier florals like Queen of Persia and Barocco. Of course I am dabbing from a vial (using about a third of a ml each time, and my test spot is pretty soaked) instead of spraying, and that might affect the experience.  However, most of these scents eventually get eaten up by white musk in the drydown (exception Queen of Persia, which nevertheless smells like several other department store scents with a modern-chypre base). I am a little surprised that Indie Scents is carrying the brand, since these are not anywhere near as wildly original as most of their other stock.

Again, pleasant fragrances, but not anything I would shell out for. In each case I could pick a different (and probably less expensive) option that would be better in terms of longevity and originality.

Each fragrance is available in eau de toilette; four of them are also available in parfum strength. I tested only EdTs. The parfum bottles, I must add, are particularly lovely, and if I were a bottle hound I’d want one. The Esther P fragrances are available at Indie Scent (only the EdT concentration, at $110 per 100ml bottle) and also at the Esther P website, but you have to email for ordering info. I do not know how much the 50ml parfum bottles cost.

My thanks to IndieScents for the sample draw.


“Winter gave Spring a miss and went right on into Summer…”: the invisible springtime of 2013

… and in our case, Winter gave Spring a miss and went right on through to Summer.

Which, as a fan of Spring and a general disliker of Summer’s heat, humidity, and general torpor intercut with periods of frenetic activity, really really stinks.

I mean, we had what a lot of people would call an “English spring,” which has been described to me as cold, wet, gray, and windy with dashes of hyacinth and bluebell. We don’t have bluebells around here, and we did get a lot of flowering trees and bushes, but we had the cold and wet and gray. Bleargh. We hardly had any weather which would typify my ideal spring weather, i.e., cool and sunny.

I know, I know, I’m pretty whiny about it. But spring is beautiful, and summer around here is hot and muggy and full of stupid mosquitoes. Gah.

So. All of that complaining to get to my point, which is, I hardly got any wear at all out of my usual suspects for spring.  (Waaah.  Okay, got that out of my system.)

I was going to write about my usual spring things like Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, and Chamade, as well as Penhaligon’s Violetta and Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete (though to be fair, that one is really more of a four-seasons love for me).  However, I think I only wore No. 19 maybe four times between March and the end of May, Crown Bouquet once, Chamade perhaps twice, Violetta not at all – though I did anoint Bookworm with it – and Le Temps d’une Fete far less often than I normally do.

So what was I wearing, in the cold/wet/gray/windy? Floral leathers.  They just hit the spot in the gloom and chill.  I wrote about those already, but of noteworthy usefulness were Jolie Madame, Memoir Woman, and Cuir de Lancome.  I wore a few of my white-flowers-and-candy fragrances, such as Vamp a NY and Sweet Redemption. I wore my DSH White Lilac and my teeny sample of the late and much-lamented Jean Patou Vacances.

Nothing new at all, and I think I’d already reviewed every one of those except Vacances, which I’ve given a brief description of, but really shouldn’t have, given that the very few bottles still extant go for upwards of $500 per 75ml bottle on ebay.  (I know. I KNOOOW.  And speaking of which, Patou has given at least lip service to revitalizing a few of their classic fragrances, but Vacances was not among those. Grrrr. I mean, glad they’re doing a quality revamp on some of them, but I SO wanted them to bring Vacances back.)

Whatcha been wearing? And has your spring weather been seasonable, or not?  (It hit 86F today. That, to me, is definitely not spring weather.  Nope.)



Lilacs Abloom

It’s that time of year again: the lilacs are blooming.

I want to go live HERE, in the middle of these lilac bushes...
I want to go live HERE, in the middle of these lilac bushes…

There is just something about the smell of lilacs – sweet, floral, greenish, spicy, and innocent – that I adore. It’s a very youthful smell, I think, a very springlike one.

I waxed rhapsodic about lilacs in this post a few years ago, listing all the lilac scents I knew of.

I now have, thanks to a kind friend, a small amount, a few milliliters, of Patou Vacances, of which I previously only had a tiny sample.  It is oh so beautiful. The perfect lilac+greenery scent.

Today I’m wearing my DSH Perfumes White Lilac (sorry to say, this one has been discontinued and is no longer available). It is lovely and innocent, sweet and spicy.

Do you love lilacs? Have a favorite lilac scent? Do share, please.



Perfume Review: Jacomo Silences eau de parfum Sublime, plus a sample drawing

Some of you might remember how much I whined over the news of a reformulated Silences last year, because, yeah, I was whiny on the level of an  overtired three-year-old. Sorry ’bout that.

First, because I made you read it. Second, because I was wrong.

The new take on the very-70s original is that good.  You do have to be a fan of green scents, I’d hazard, but I definitely am.  Just the other day I was listing my extensive collection of scents I wear in spring, and most of them are green florals, of course.

This color combo looks a lot like my mental image of Silences.
This color combo looks a lot like my mental image of Silences.

Silences edp Sublime reminds me not so much of its predecessor, which is relentlessly, eerily green with lashings of rose and iris, as it does of a gentle version of Chanel No. 19.

I was disappointed in Chanel’s updated flanker of No. 19, titled Poudre, as to my nose it was barely green at all and seemed to be mostly clean white musk with hints of dry iris. While pleasant, Poudre seems more closely related to Prada’s ubiquitous, nicely-done Infusion d’Iris, with perhaps a tiny green veil.Silences edp sublimeSilences Sublime, as I’ll call it for the duration of the review, opens up with the gentle bite of galbanum and a very small hint of blackcurrant bud, both rather subdued, along with a light veil of aldehydes. You might not even notice the cassis bud at all – it’s gone quickly and doesn’t have that big cat-pee hit (hey, I like the cat-pee thing, but I know it’s controversial). More prominent is the floral heart, where rose is joined by a delicate lily of the valley note and  a tiny bit of floral dirt from the narcissus.  The iris seems to pop up with the basenotes (woody notes, vetiver and musk), and it’s lovely in a very quiet way for a good four hours.

Sillage is mild to moderate unless you try the spray-until-wet technique, and then it’s only moderate; longevity is really more like edt than edp on my skin. Silences Sublime strikes me as being really a hot-weather kind of fragrance, a dry cooling breeze that soothes my grizzled temper and lends a bit of elegance without the ramrod posture that No. 19 evokes.

As for comparing the Sublime to the original – well, for one thing, the original version of Silences that I own myself is parfum de toilette, and it is a galbanum monster that lasts allll day even in humid summer. (I feel certain that more modern Silences eau de toilette is lighter than the almost-oily pdt.) Silences is the sweet pink color of rose, the calm blue-purple-grey color of iris, the clover green of galbanum and the olive green of moss, satiny ribbons that trail out behind you in unexpected, arresting beauty, as you wander in quiet contemplation.  Silences Sublime has much less presence, and as I say, seems much closer to No. 19 in character than to Silences. I suspect the addition of aldehydes to Sublime and the base’s focus on vetiver-musk rather than moss creates that likeness.

This looks like the color scheme for Silences Sublime, too. Well, perhaps it needed a bit more pink, but it's close.
This looks like the color scheme for Silences Sublime, too. Well, perhaps it needed a bit more pink, but it’s close.

I am enjoying Silences Sublime very, very much, and find it even easier to wear than Chanel No. 19 (which can be a little demanding of my attention – delightfully so, but still demanding).  It’s quite reasonably priced, and I bought my 100ml bottle via New London Pharmacy’s website for under $80 shipped. Lovely stuff. Jacomo really should make it more easily available in the US, because I predict it would sell beautifully.

Sometime soon I really should create a diagram showing Silences, Silences Sublime, Chanel No. 19 in various concentrations including Poudre, Annick Goutal Heure Exquise (in edt and edp), Calandre, Rive Gauche, and Madame Rochas on a continuum, because they all seem somewhat related to me along an axis of green notes/galbanum, aldehydes, rose, iris, vetiver, moss and musk.  Clearly that note combination is a favorite of mine (though I’m not as fond of Rive Gauche and Mme Rochas as I am of the others).

I’m offering two 2.5-ml spray samples of Jacomo Silences eau de parfum Sublime.  To enter, please say you’re interested and tell me whether you like any of the scents on my hypothetical continuum.  (It’s okay to say you’ve never investigated any of them. I hope to pull you in!) Drawing will close on Thursday at noon Eastern Standard Time. Drawing is now closed.



The CEO and I just bought annuals for lining the front walk, as we do every year.  We’re partial to blue salvia, enormous marigolds, and zinnias.  But this time I also bought two heliotrope plants because their smell enchanted me.

I know that they’ve long been known as “cherry pie” plants, particularly in the UK.  And they do smell great: fruity, sweet, almost yeasty under their floral topnote.  In fact, they smell to me not so much like cherry pie as they do like jam-filled doughnuts. 

Seriously.   Not the jellylike pie filling/fruit-flavored goop you get at the grocery store, but real jam.  In real doughnuts.  Homemade ones. Yum.

I like heliotrope, but often find it a little… chalky? flat?… in fragrance.  It occurs to me just now that I don’t think I own any heliotrope-featuring fragrances at the moment.  I divested myself of L’Heure Bleue and Aimez-Moi, and even of my small bottle of Soivohle Lilacs & Heliotrope.  The only thing I still have that has noticeable heliotrope presence is a decant of pre-refo Apres l’Ondee.  I think I have a sample of Etro Heliotrope somewhere, too, but that one was flat, without the charm and sparkle of real heliotrope flowers.  I have an idea that I liked the heliotrope angle of Serge Lutens Datura Noir, and I still have that sample around somewhere too.  What have I missed?

Anybody else ever grow heliotrope?  (Please tell me they’re easy.)  And I’d love to hear whether heliotrope is a favorite note of yours or not.  If you love a heliotrope-centric fragrance, please share!


Perfume Review: Guerlain Après l’Ondée

"Irises in the old rain garden," from jthomasross (click to follow link).
“Irises in the old rain garden,” from jthomasross (click to follow link).

As I write, spring has budded outside. The daffodils came up a week ago; the hyacinths popped out shortly after. The grass has begun to grow tall and green up from its drab winter state, and I see the tall spiky leaves of wild onions growing up through it on roadsides. The cherry trees – from wild to domesticated fruit-bearing to Japanese ornamental – are blooming in froths of white and pink lace.

When I went outside this morning to take the boys to school, no fewer than six male robins were singing their heads off from different trees, claiming their territory.

Spring has really come. And so it is time to wear one of the loveliest spring fragrances in my collection, or in anyone’s collection: Après l’Ondée. Created by Jacques Guerlain in 1906, it is the softest and most wistful scent I have ever smelled. Contemporary with the Impressionist movements in painting and in music, it is a perfect expression of the soft-focus dreaminess of both Monet and Debussy, an indistinct swirl of violet and heliotrope gauzy as a silk chiffon scarf. Continue reading Perfume Review: Guerlain Après l’Ondée


Perfume Review: By Kilian Sweet Redemption

Orange blossom image from


Okay, okay, okay. Okay, all right?

I surrender. There. I said it. Are you happy that I have turned into a cheese-eating surrender monkey*?

No? That’s not good enough?

(heavy sigh) Okay, but I’m only going to say this once.


(* No, no, I like the French.  And I love cheese, too.  Everything is fine.)

See, I used to hate orange blossom. Well, not so much hate it as be horribly bored by it. Orange blossom still has a tendency to go all soapy on me, and I really intensely hate the idea of buying perfume, only to smell like hygiene products. NO. THANKS.

There are tons of perfectly lovely orange blossom fragrances out there that people love and that are adorably orange blossomy and smell very nice. Except on me. The following are just examples of Orange Blossom scents that went straight to Nice Floral French-Milled Soap on me:   AG Eau du Ciel (it smells like sheets freshly dried in the sun in the backyard, which is a wonderful smell but I prefer it as a linen spray), Bvlgari pour Femme, Jo Malone Orange Blossom, John Varvatos Artisan, L’Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons, SSS Femme Jolie, Caron Narcisse Noir (reformulated), Hermes 24, Faubourg. Continue reading Perfume Review: By Kilian Sweet Redemption


Perfume Review: Elizabeth Taylor Violet Eyes

I first saw Violet Eyes at my local Belk store last year and immediately grabbed the tester. I liked the ad, even though purple is definitely not my color.  And it sounded pretty, so I spritzed away. I didn’t check the notes list, so I was surprised to not find a violet note in it. Violet in the name, violet in the packaging… no violet in the fragrance. (What gives? I don’t get it.)  Then recently, I found a small 15ml bottle at my CVS on sale for $8.99, which I thought was worth purchasing for investigation and possible wear. It’s a pretty bottle, a little cylinder in pale violet, with the sparkly silver band at the top familiar from the White Diamonds packaging.

At first spray, this reminds me of Marc Jacobs Daisy, which I also like very much as a “wallpaper” scent, the kind that just sort of smells quietly nice in the background. Fragrantica calls it a floral, but I would amend the category to “floral woody musk,” the same as Daisy and many other department-store fragrances. Violet Eyes is indeed pretty, but not distinctive – which is just fine if you need a wallpaper scent, one that simply smells nice and doesn’t cost a lot.

The notes according to Fragrantica are: “fresh white peach, jasmine, purple rose, peony, amber, and cedar.” I don’t get peach, I get a sweet, vaguely citrusy fruit aroma for about a minute before it’s gone. I also pick up on a very light dusting of aldehydes, of the soapy-powdery variety. Violet Eyes is very floral, with a pretty jasmine-rose combination that, while smelling mostly synthetic, doesn’t have the plasticky-metallic feel that many El Cheapo florals do. This may be because the overriding floral note here is peony, bright but not as neon-pink as many peony fragrances can be.

The peony-jasmine-rose lasts a long time, over a nondescript but comfortable woody-musky base. I can distinguish cedar in there, with its bright, almost-astringent quality, and also there is a powdery vanilla element in the base along with a soft, suedey musk. This stage goes on for a considerable while on me, and one spray can last about seven hours – excellent staying power for an eau de parfum on my skin.

The overall effect is a bright, cheerful, pinky-purple floral muted by the velvety, powdery base, a clean, soft and pretty scent. It’s clearly mostly synthetic, but I find it easy to wear and very comfortable. Violet Eyes is, possibly, not up to matching the intensity of its namesake’s beauty, but it is a fitting tribute to her femininity. La Liz was perhaps at her most stunning in jewel-toned evening gowns, with dramatic makeup, but there are quite a number of early photos of her in soft colors, less glamorous and more pretty, and Violet Eyes edp is a good recap of that gentle, non-threatening, feminine side.

I find it reassuring that as time went on, Ms. Taylor embraced bolder fashions and colors with dramatic contrasts, as that seems to have been suited to both her striking looks and her flair for personal drama. Of course, her early perfumes are dramatic and bold as well. Passion was not and probably never will be the sort of thing I like, with its strong balsamic oriental cast, but the Hollywood-sized white floral White Diamonds is better than I remembered it being. (I’ll be reviewing that one soon.) Violet Eyes, composed by Carlos Benaim and released in 2010 – probably the final entry in the Elizabeth Taylor Perfumes line, or at least it will be if the owners of the brand have any decency whatsoever – is more reminiscent of the fragile prettiness of Taylor the child-and-teen star, the glowing youth of Velvet Brown (“National Velvet“).

Violet Eyes may have been dedicated to and inspired by the “iconic eyes,” but it is not iconic itself. Still and all, it’s attractive and gentle, and I expect I’ll get some mileage out of this small purple bottle.  Wish they’d thought to toss a little violet into the mix; it would have been perfectly appropriate!

Image is from Now Smell This.  For other reviews, see Robin’s at NST, or this one at The Scented Salamander.