Fragrance Throwdown: the Berry-Vanilla Gourmands Duke It Out

I’ve been saying for MONTHS now that Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss reminds me of Hanae Mori “Butterfly.”  Finally I got busy and did the comparison, so here are the blow-by-blow details…

Hanae Mori “Butterfly” (edt and parfum)

Notes: Blackcurrant, wild strawberry, blackberry, blueberry, jasmine, ylang-ylang, rose, peony, sandalwood, Virginia cedar, Brazilian rosewood, almond tree. Composed by Bernard Ellena. Given a four-star rating in P:TG. Tania Sanchez’ review says, in part, “terrifically trashy cotton-candy idea lifted straight from [L’Artisan] Vanilia… cheerfully bright berry notes… in a classic woody-floral setting… a bombshell gourmand, incredibly rich and strong…” Continue reading Fragrance Throwdown: the Berry-Vanilla Gourmands Duke It Out

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Mini-Review Round up, July 6, 2012

roundup
Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Tender – The short version: licorice marshmallows, yaaaay!

The long version: KMT starts out with an anise focus set atop a delightful heliotrope-vanilla-marshmallow (ethyl maltol) base. I didn’t think I would like it, until I actually tried it on skin. Yes, it’s sweet. But there is a tender greenish streak through it that lightens some of the sweetness. There’s also a hint of rose and violet, though it isn’t powdery at all.

I like it. I wore it on one of the hottest days of June so far – 101F in miserably-humid Washington, DC weather, on our admissions tour of Georgetown University – and it was quite pleasant. No hint of the huge flesh-eating patchouli-marshmallow of Angel bursts out of Kiss Me Tender, even in the heat. It just smells nice, all cool and sweet like a licorice popsicle. Lasts about 4 hours, not as long as you’d think based on the notes list. I like the heliotrope in it, particularly because it doesn’t go Play-Doh or artificial fruit-flavored. I’ll probably use up this generous sample (thanks, Joe) but not buy a bottle. Continue reading Mini-Review Round up, July 6, 2012

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Heliotrope!

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!

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Perfume Review: Tauer Perfumes Une Rose Vermeille

Recently, I was lucky enough to win a random drawing for a sample of Une Rose Vermeille from Andy Tauer, through his blog.   Fun stuff there, by the way – go read if you can.  I should go visit more regularly, although I do sneak peeks every now and then.  It’s exciting to get these little glimpses into what it’s like to produce perfume.

Une Rose Vermeille is, as far as I can tell, the second in the Memorables line from Tauer Perfumes, the first being the stunning and very-classical Une Rose Chypree.  (As always, please forgive the lack of diacriticals.)  It launches in September.    From Tauer Perfumes, here is a description of Une Rose Vermeille:

HEAD NOTES: A citrus chord with lemon and bergamot with a hint of lavender.
HEART NOTES: A lavish bouquet of roses, raspberry and violett flowers.
BODY NOTES: A rich body with vanilla, sandalwood, tonka beans and a hint ambergris.

Andy also mentions hints of geranium, velvety marzipan, and a peppery-spicy aspect to the particular rose essence used — a Bulgarian steam-distilled oil he says is very special, and also a bit tricky to work with, although I must say he seems to have negotiated it well. 

Concerning the name: my French is either very bad or nonexistent, depending on your point of view, so I had to run the name through the Babel Fish translator.  I had thought, you see, that it was the feminine form of “vermeil,” which term I often see applied to jewelry, as in sterling silver covered in a relatively thick layer of gold.  Apparently that’s a term used more frequently in America than elsewhere, and most European countries use the term “silver gilt.”   (Feel free to remind me not to waste time drooling over reproduction jewelry in the Museum of Modern Art catalog.)  In any case, the name really means “a vermilion rose,” vermilion being known in Art School terms as a deep, intense red with orange tones.  See the rose photo at left here – isn’t that gorgeous?

My experience with Une Rose Vermeille is that it opens with an intensely orange citrus accord.  It’s so intense, and so orange, that it reminds me of Seville marmalade, the kind so concentrated that it’s on the verge of bitterness and makes one feel extremely alive.  I don’t get much lavender rising up and biting me on the nose, which is good for me as I don’t enjoy lavender much, even flowering in a garden.  This stage is fairly radiant, with one good solid spritz wafting about a five-foot radius, which is a little bigger sillage than I usually like.  Although it’s reminiscent of the mandarin accords in Une Rose Chypree and Incense Rose, it’s a bit less sweet, more astringent. 

I do smell the raspberry coming up rather quickly through the citrus, and it is delicious – none of your artificially-flavored “fruit candy” nonsense.  Once again I’m thinking of food, specifically a recipe from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible for “Cordon Rose Raspberry Conserve.”  I’ve made it often, and it is very, very concentrated, distilling a pound of raspberries, five ounces of sugar and three of water into about two pints of jam.  Incidentally, Ms. Beranbaum recommends lemon, almond, or vanilla as flavor enhancers for raspberry, and the significance of that little tidbit will become apparent.   As the orange fades down, the rose becomes more and more apparent, and this raspberry-rose accord is really beautiful.  I couldn’t tease out the violet note until the third wearing, when I added a tiny dot of Penhaligon’s Violetta to my arm about an inch away from the place I’d applied URV – aha! there it is.  However, the violet is shy and I think serves largely to give depth to the raspberry-rose in the forefront.  The scent stays in this lovely stage for at least a couple of hours.

Gradually, a rich vanilla-tonka foundation begins to make its presence known under the raspberry-rose.  This is probably my favorite part of the development, because I’m very fond of vanilla and tonka together, and this stage makes me think of yet another recipe I enjoy: Raspberry-Almond Pavlova.  Pavlova, essentially, is the layering of discs of baked meringue or dacquoise (meringue containing finely-ground nuts) with whipped cream or whipped creme fraiche.  It’s even better when you add fruit between the layers and on top.  It is a lovely, elegant, delicate, ethereal balance between tart and sweet, between light and rich, and I think of it as a little piece of heaven.  

As the scent moves towards its denouement, I begin to notice the sandalwood, and something that I would have sworn was frankincense, with a dry, almost lime-y effect.  I’m not very familiar with ambergris, however, and perhaps I’m picking up some element of that note. 

The fragrance lasts on me, with one spritz, for about four hours.  Two spritzes in the same spot extends lasting power by an hour or so, but has the disconcerting (for me) effect of making the opening sillage very radiant.  I’m a little sensitive to that, preferring to keep my scent within a three-foot radius, but even with multiple spritzes Une Rose Vermeille isn’t going to approach the scary-loud sillage of, say, Poison, and you won’t be frightening dogs and small children.   URV is less potent by far than Une Rose Chypree, which has been known to last ten hours on my normally-scent-eating skin, but it’s not what I’d call fleeting.  Rather, it lasts a satisfying length of time. 

I’m not a particular fan of gourmand scents.  I do really like Hanae Mori’s eponymous berry-marshmallow fragrance, but I consider it a comfort scent and would not wear it outside the house.  Une Rose Vermeille is similar, but far, far less sweet, and despite its near deliciousness, it’s not a frilly little nothing of a gourmand scent.  The rose and sandalwood seem to ground it, and keep it out of the “edible” category.  In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of what I wanted to smell in 100% Love: instead of cocoa and a dusty patchouli (two notes I really struggle with), you get that rich tonka and sandalwood, and the berry and rose notes are extremely natural.   

Another review:  Krista’s at Scent of the Day.  You’ll note she mentions macarons.  I’ve never tasted real French macarons, but when I went hunting macaron recipes, I noticed that the composition of the macaron cookie batter is very similar to that of dacquoise (very similar ingredients, slightly different preparation).  

My thanks again, Andy, for making the random drawing samples available.  I have already marked September 10 on my calendar, and I’m already saving my pennies for a bottle.  Now… (tossing books over shoulder, searching)… where did I put that Pavlova recipe? 

Top image is Candelabra Bloom, Bronx, NY, from Grufnik.  Lower image is Timeless Pavlova from (heart)babybee, both from Flickr.

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