Upcoming reviews


Categories: Blog housecleaning, Tags:

No, I’m not dead.  The CEO is back from his trip, and things are topsy-turvy until we settle again.

Reviews coming in the next few days:

Balenciaga Michelle (a revised review)
Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose
L’Artisan Tubereuse
Bal a Versailles/Balenciaga Rumba double feature

and sometime next week, Tubereuse Criminelle.

Image is Regent Theater by gtotiger68 at flickr.

Edit:  Okay, so I didn’t get all those posted… sorry.  (You know I don’t get paid for this.)  Anyway, I WILL get to these in the coming week.



Dear Scent Diary, Jan. 6 – Jan. 12


Categories: Scent Diary

Wednesday, Jan. 6: Cheered by the success of having decanted my mini dabber bottle of Bvlgari Black into a spray atomizer, I did the same for Fendi Theorema. I hoped spraying would reveal facets of delight heretofore not realized by me. Sadly, it did not. Theorema is wonderful until the drydown, and then it just sits on my skin and bores me. I’m discovering a kinship between Theorema’s drydown and the experience of Barbara Bui Le Parfum; that would explain why March at Perfume Posse loves them both. I found BB dull, and I only like part of Theorema. That does it, I’m done with Theorema. There’s way too much other stuff out there for me to keep trying scents that don’t move me. I spent the evening in vintage No. 5 parfum.

Thursday, Jan. 7: Whee, a scrubber! Sample swap freebie that sounded nice – Comptoir Sud Pacifique Hemisphere Sud pour femme. Orange, pepper, pink pepper, peony, jasmine, rose, patchouli, vanilla, sandalwood, musk; your average modern floriental. It was really lovely for about twenty minutes, and then disgustingly chemical. I got a headache. So I made it go away… and moved straight on to the Tuberose selection of the day: vintage Chloe edt. (reviewed Jan. 8)

Friday, Jan. 8: Chloe again, parfum this time. It’s not fun wearing this, I feel like an eighth grader. This was a pretty mature choice for a middle-schooler, but I didn’t pick it out for myself. I don’t remember being unhappy with it, though.

Saturday, Jan. 9: It’s freeeeeezing. Yet another day of 15-degree-weather. The CEO left on his trip to Seattle, but not before depositing a calf that was either sick or weakened by the continuing cold on a tarp in the laundry room and instructing me in how to take care of it. If you are thinking, “Aw, a calf, how cute, how much trouble could that be?” I’ll explain that said calf is about three months old and weighs a good two-three hundred pounds, if not more. (Actually, she is cute: brown face, black body, white diamond on her forehead, and the most ridiculously long eyelashes. But she’s trouble. You ever have calf poop on your laundry room floor?) And then I was ludicrously optimistic (stupid) and put on some Giorgio (reviewed, sort of, Jan.10). Dear God.

Sunday, Jan. 10: I have a mild stomach bug. The weather’s still freezing, CEO’s still gone, Sara the calf is still poopin’ on the laundry room floor. Poor thing either can’t or won’t stand up. Vet says, “Give her 1 cc of MuSe and 2 cc’s of Vitamin AD&E, and if she’s not up by tomorrow I’ll come by.” I call the CEO to find out where these supplies are, yada yada… turns out I can give the MuSe (Selenium, a mineral supplement) subcutaneously, but the AD&E has to go into the hip muscle. I’ve never given an injection before. Eek. I have to enlist Bookworm to hold the medicine bottles while I pull out the correct amount into the syringes, but the injections themselves go smoothly. Whew. Testing DSH Tubereuse (reviewed Jan. 12) for the fourth time since last spring.

Monday, Jan. 11: My birthday. Sara’s better – she’s standing up, which means it’s time for her to go out to the little barn lot with the shed in it, with Davy the orphan calf and Beth the abandoned twin calf, whom (whom? Can you use “whom” with animals?) the kids have been bottle feeding since the fall. Wearing Attrapé-Coeur, lovely floral-amber thing.

Tuesday, Jan. 12: Good luck to my brother-in-law Bob, who’s heading off to Basic training for re-enlisters. SOTD: Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose (review pending). SOTE: DSH Tubereuse again.



Tuberose Series 5: DSH Perfumes Tubéreuse


Categories: DSH Perfumes, Perfume review, Tuberose scents

Tubéreuse is one of the three top-selling scents at indie house DSH Perfumes, which is making a name for itself among American perfume fans for well-blended, quality classical (part-synthetic) scents as well as excellent naturals-only perfumes. Nose Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s website is a lot like the candy shop in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory*, stuffed to bursting with goodies of every description. I could happily get lost there.

Perfume Review: DSH Perfumes Tubéreuse
Date released: (I’ve sent an email to Ms. Hurwitz to ascertain)
Perfumer: Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
Sample provenance: directly from DSH, 2009

Subcategory: Typical buttery tuberose soliflore

The listing for Tubéreuse, in the Parfums des Beaux Arts section at the DSH website, reads like this:
“Tubéreuse (Tuberose)
Its milky white and fleshy flowers bear the secret of attraction. In India, this flower is called “Mistress of the Night:” The most sensuous and intoxicating of perfumes.
Top notes: Citron Accord, Mimosa
Middle notes: Tuberosa, Tuberose Absolute
Base notes: French Beeswax, Heliotrope, Himalayan Cedar, Tamil Nadu Sandalwood”

I first came across this perfume last spring, during my first awed wander through the website. I tested it at about the time I was also testing some of the lusher Annick Goutals (Passion, Songes, Gardenia Passion), and certainly it’s on a par, quality-wise, with the Goutal scents. It also seems to share a certain simplicity, or perhaps you’d call it transparency, with those classic AG feminines: it smells definitively of tropical flowers, with a few other notes serving as framework.

The opening is my least favorite part of the development, with a citrusy note that seems both bitter and a bit powdery.  Powdery citrus?  How can that be?, you’re wondering.  I don’t know myself – I assume that the mimosa (cassie) is the powdery bit, and the citron, or cedrat, is the bitter bit.  What it reminds me of is the dreaded Tang Dust Accord.**  I don’t get this every time – so far I’m two-for-five – but I do find it somewhat unpleasant for the fifteen minutes it lasts.

However, the Tang effect might be due to neither citron nor mimosa, but natural indoles in the tuberose itself.  Somewhere*** in PTG, Tania Sanchez refers to a “back of the throat rasp” with regards to indole.  Certainly this thing is composed of natural tuberose, a buttery-sweet-tropical thing that lolls, heavy-lidded and languid, on skin.  I’m still doing some research on the difference between tuberose essential oil and tuberose absolue (I suspect that they are extracted by different methods, and that absolue is more concentrated), but both are included in the formula.  Tuberose is really the heart of the scent, with citron and sandalwood the supportive BFFs that keep it from falling over backwards in a swoon.

Four to five hours after application, the tuberose has quieted and there is a softly woody drydown, with a hint of not-too-sweet coconut. I like coconut; this is far less beachy than, say, Bronze Goddess.  But if you hate coconut, you will probably want to avoid this scent. To me, the coconut seems in keeping with the tropical, lazy character of the tuberose, and I enjoy it.

While I was considering the fragrance – why, for example, citron rather than bergamot, or orange? – I came across the following information, and suddenly everything became quite clear: this is a hymn to India.

Citron: “In South Indian cuisine, especially Tamil cuisine, citron is widely used in pickles and preserves. In Tamil, the unripe fruit is referred to as ‘narthangai’, which is usually salted and dried to make a preserve.” (from Wikipedia)
Tamil Nadu sandalwood: the same species as Mysore sandalwood.  “Santalum album, or Indian sandalwood, is currently a threatened species and consequently very expensive. It is indigenous to South India… Sandalwood from Mysore region of Karnataka, Southern India is widely considered to be of the highest quality available. New plantations have been set up with international aid in Tamilnadu in order to avail of the economic benefits of sandalwood.” (from Wikipedia)
Coconut:  “The Coconut Palm (Cocos nucifera Linn.) is supposed to be one of the five legendary Devavrikshas and is eulogised as Kalpavriksha – the all giving tree – in Indian classics. All parts of the palm are used in someway or another in the daily life of the people of the west coast; the traditional coconut growing area. Its fruit is called Lakshmi Phai and is used in social and religious functions in India irrespective of whether palm is locally grown or not.”  (from

The tuberose blossom, as I found when writing my “Series Opener” post, holds a significant cultural place in India as well, being used in weddings and other religious ceremonies, as well as in personal adornment.  I’ve never been to India; now I want to go.

DSH Tubéreuse is really lovely and cohesive, an affectionate study of the flower.  Like ELPCTG, it’s not a scent you wear in a business environment.  But where TG was girly, Tubéreuse is languid and sensual – it’s every bit the carnal flower that Malle’s Carnal Flower is not.  I recommend it.

* The 1971 movie with Gene Wilder, of course.  The candy shop is the place where Charlie buys the candy bar that holds the last Golden Ticket, after the shopkeeper sings, “The Candy Man.”  I found the 2005 version, “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” with Johnny Depp, weirdly wonderful too.  (Depp seems to be channeling Michael Jackson doing Carol Channing; he’s such a bizarre delight.)
** “Tang Dust Accord” refers to any component of a scent which makes the back of my throat hurt.  Background: The CEO adores Tang (the Kraft drink mix).  He actually prefers Tang to real orange juice (it’s probably because of the sugar content), and I think he’s nuts, but hey, people who live together make compromises.  But here’s the thing – I hate making Tang.  Just hate it.  No matter how I do it, whether I put the mix in first or a little water in, whether I snap the cover of the pitcher on top or not, a little mushroom cloud of Tang dust always rises up and hits me in the back of the throat.  Honestly, I can feel it in my sinuses.  Gah.  Even if he makes the Tang, or one of the kids does, I can walk through the kitchen ten minutes later and get hit with the Tang dust cloud effect. It hurts.  I hate it.  I especially hate encountering it in perfume, as I have in Lancome Magnifique, Guerlain Insolence (edp), Giorgio, and occasionally in DSH Tubéreuse. Luckily, with Tubéreuse the effect doesn’t last long.
*** If I find the page, I’ll update with a direct quote.  Edit:  Found it!  In the review of Diptyque Olene, TS gives a short chemistry lesson on indole and skatole, two chemicals found in both white flowers such as jasmine, ylang, etc., and in animal waste.  Then she explains why chemical recreations of natural white florals don’t smell right: “If you measure the amount of indole in, say, jasmine oil and make up a synthetic mix with the same amount of the pure stuff, it will smell of mothballs [indole] whereas the natural one doesn’t.  Why?  Nobody knows.  But that is the main reason why white-flower reconstitutions seldom have the back-of-the-throat rasp of the real thing.”

The Bottom Line :

Quality     A   Smells almost entirely natural; entire composition is thematic.
Grab-scale score    7, maybe 8  (Depends on whether I get TDA or not)
Short description    Tropical tuberose.
Cost   $$   1 oz. bottle of edp is $65, but you can buy a dram (4ml) of edp for $10.  Parfum is also available.
Earns compliments:  Yes, but not from people who dislike tuberose.
Scent presence:  Average (two generous dabs of edp last four to five hours).  Moderate sillage. Not an office scent, in my opinion.
Review Report:   None.  Although this scent has its fans at fragrantica, it’s not listed in the database.

Top image is from DSH Perfumes.  Center image is Rajnigandha – Tuberose (Explore) by H G M at flickr. 



What, again? I did this, like, a YEAR ago…


Categories: Applause

Scent of the day: Guerlain Attrape-Coeur (many thanks to dear Daisy!)
Review of DSH Tubereuse to be posted later in the day.
The CEO gave me this very cool book by Alton Brown, my favorite Food Network Dude.  The kids gave me hugs.
Sara the calf is better.  We’ve taken her out to the little barn lot to hang with Davy and Beth.
It’s supposed to hit 40 degrees today.
I’m wearing my new, very soft, tomato-red sweater.
I’m making cheesecake this afternoon.  Tilapia for dinner, mmm.
I’ve made it this far – might as well go a little longer, right?  Kidding.  I’m having fun these days.
My favorite cut flowers: yellow roses, deep burgundy roses, pale pink peonies, gardenias, tiny starlike daffodils, bells of Ireland, blue delphiniums, and lily of the valley.  I’m forgetting something, I know.  Oh, yes – carnations.  Love them.  Of the florist-available, only the white ones have a scent, and it’s wonderful – spicy and floral and green all at once. 
Image is Happy Birthday! by JannaPham at flickr.


Tuberose Series Bonus: Giorgio by Giorgio Beverly Hills


Categories: FAIL, Giorgio, Perfume review, Tuberose scents, Tags: ,

I should NOT have tested this.  This is not going to be a serious, formal review because I just can’t stand to do it.  Also, with this review, you’re going to get pointless digressions and some disturbing emotional reactions.  You have been warned.

Perfume Review: Giorgio Beverly Hills
Date Released: 1981
Perfumer: Bob Aliano
Sample provenance: miniature bottle bought retail 2010

Subcategory: Loud dressed-up party tuberose composition

I wasn’t going to bother with this.  I blame Luca Turin yet again, for reviewing it in the downloadable updates to the original Perfumes: The Guide.  I should have known better from that stupid Insolence experience, but nooooooooo.  Also I was blinded by nostalgia and a fuzzy memory of what Giorgio actually smells like (which is, actually, not Turin’s fault).  He does make the excellent point that “many people harbor a sneaking fondness for the bad old days” of the excessive eighties, pointing out that outrageous and surprising perfumes like Angel are still succeeding, in these times of post-post-decadence.  Here are portions of his review (go read it in its entirety if you can, it’s an interesting and informed take):
**** Giorgio.  Fruity tuberose…  The secret of Giorgio was the discovery of an accord that could stand up to a monstrously powerful tuberose while extending it in interesting directions. Two heroically strong aromachemicals were drafted: one being… reminiscent of pineapple, and the second a… base made between… a fresh-almondy-marine material and… the Concord grape smell… The result was a cute, twelve-foot-tall singing canary, at first impossible to ignore, and at length too big to love.  But if any composition embodies what makes… classical perfumery great, it is Giorgio.

Okay, first off I’m going to say yet again that it is definitely not fair to give four stars to something that doesn’t smell good.  I do not give a flying flip whether it “advances the art of perfumery,” got me?  I only want to wear scents that smell good.  Secretions Magnifiques four stars, anyone?  Didn’t think so.  Now, I’ll wade through some difficult opening notes to get to something beautiful, or at least to something interesting.  And granted, people’s opinions on What Smells Good tend to, duh, differ.  I love tuberose and hate balsamic resins.  I think vetiver is boring.  I like rose and aldehydes.  You may think I’m nuts.  But for a reviewer that keeps dissing tuberose he calls “synthetic,” it was downright immoral of LT to praise this *&#^%^@(*@ mess.

Disclaimer:  I went to high school in the 80’s, all right?  And while I was wearing polite applications of Chloe from my dabber bottle, big spray bottles of Giorgio were all the rage.  Black rubber bracelets, banana hairclips, leggings and big tunics, Swatches and enormous abstract-art earrings in pink and aqua… and Giorgio.  Which I kind of liked then – I had a friend who seemed to have all the disposable income a girl could want as well as serious social cachet (she was the only really nice cheerleader at my high school, and my Bio lab partner), and she wore it in discreet quantities.  I thought she smelled nice.

There comes a time in your sober years when you appreciate your parents’ chintzy refusal to buy your teenage self trendy stuff.  I never had a yellow-and-aqua paint-splatter swimsuit to wear to the pool.  I never had a pair of Candies sandals, or even those fat-soled flipflops everybody wore.  And sure, I suffered when the cheerleaders went down the hall in a gang, snickering about my not-even-close-to-designer jeans and reeking of Giorgio, but now I feel better about the whole thing.  I recently showed my high school yearbook to my children, and they laughed at my hair but admitted that my clothes were “not as weird as what those girls are wearing, eww.”  Take that, Two Christies!  Take that, Charlene and Amanda!  Your trendy clothes were weird!

I freely admit I couldn’t afford it back then anyway.  And never mind all the science-chat about anthrancilates and whatnot, descriptions of Big Bird and grape popsicles, what Giorgio smells like to me now is money and humiliation.

If I was going to attempt to wear Giorgio, this was the day to do it: The CEO just left on a trip to the Farm Bureau National Convention, Bookworm’s gone for the day to an indoor track meet, and the boys are supposedly cleaning up their rooms but they keep sneaking down to the laundry room to visit Sara the ailing calf.  Here’s a transcript of our conversations about Giorgio:

Me: I’m trying this out.  What do you think?
Taz: Eww.  It makes my throat hurt.
Gaze (trying to be diplomatic, but failing): I don’t like that one.  It smells like… really bad Halloween candy. The hard kind in weird flavors, like you get from the people who don’t like kids but they don’t want people to think they don’t like kids.  So they give you stuff, but it’s nasty.
Me (secretly pleased):  Really?
Gaze:  And the pool.  It smells like the pool. You know, on really crowded days, when they put too much chlorine in there?
Me:  Ha ha ha ha ha!
Taz: Mom, I think Sara’s better, she’s eating that hay now.
Me:  Ha ha ha ha ha!
Taz:  Hey, Mom… Mom, why are you laughing?
Gaze:  I don’t know.  She’s acting weird.  Maybe that perfume is making her sick.
Me: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha… (maniacal giggling)
Taz: Mom, will you stop laughing and make us dinner now?  Mom?  Mom! Stop laughing.  This is important.  Please go wash your hands, I don’t want my hot dogs to smell like that.

It would probably be pretentious of me to repeat that old saying about the mills of God grinding slowly, so I won’t.  But I will say that the taste of vindication is sweet.

I have a nasty headache now that I didn’t have when I put on this dab of Giorgio edt.  Thank the Lord, I can go take a shower now.  Maybe now I can cease the maniacal laughter.  Sample of Giorgio Beverly ILLS is going out with the trash as soon as possible.

And I’m sorry, I really am.  I should have known better.  But, see, this is why I love perfume.  Two drops of yellow gunk (which have consequently contaminated the air around me for seven hours) suddenly returned me to the horrors of being fifteen.  What else could do that so quickly?  What else could go straight for the jugular like that?  Nothing else taps so elegantly, so directly, so brutally, into the emotional center as perfume.

Top image from fragrantica.  Lower image from paper_antiquary on ebay.



Tuberose Series 4: Carnal Flower


Categories: Frederic Malle, Perfume review, Tuberose scents

Carnal Flower gets a lot of positive attention from perfume fans, and deservedly so.

Perfume Review: Frederic Malle Carnal Flower.
Date released: 2005                         
Perfumer: Dominique Ropion
Sample provenance: sample from The Perfumed Court, 2009

Subcategory: Atypical green tuberose soliflore

Created with M. Malle’s aunt, the actress Candice Bergen, as inspiration, Carnal Flower is something of a contradiction in terms. Like Ms. Bergen, whose onscreen persona in the movie Carnal Knowledge is both warmly maternal and icily aloof, Carnal Flower is both cold and warm. Other than that reference, I find the name “Carnal Flower” rather inappropriate – this perfume does not smell in the least like a boudoir to me.

The scent begins with a chilly, almost mentholated note, along with camphor and a tiny spritz of something vaguely juicy. There’s enough of the floral quality of the tuberose peeking through here for the opening to smell very like the refrigerated, moist air of a florist case. The menthol-camphor hint picks up on the odd notes of what Tania Sanchez calls “Chinese muscle rub” in tuberose flowers, but here it’s lovely. Gradually the tuberose blossoms out, becoming warmer, but it remains almost translucent, with a fresh greenish light shining through it. There’s a lot of grassy-green jasmine here that keeps the tuberose from being too buttery and fleshy. I don’t smell much of anything else here, but the scent is anything but thin. This accord of sunny tuberose and green jasmine sticks around a long time, but eventually the jasmine fades so that the basenotes begin to come up under the tuberose. The base, though faint, smells like beach-warmed skin at the end of the day. It is neither too sweet nor too warm, and once the base comes up there’s very little left of the experience.

Notes for Carnal Flower:
Top: green notes, camphor, citrus
Heart: melon, tuberose, jasmine, orange blossom, ylang
Base: coconut, musk

I do not smell melon, or at least I don’t smell what I think of as perfumery melon, a la DelRae Emotionelle or Parfum de Therese, neither of which I like. If there really is melon here, it’s more like a crisp, barely-ripe honeydew, all sweet green. And the coconut is merely a hint in Carnal Flower; you will not be thinking of piña coladas.

Lasting power is less potent for this scent than for many other tuberose scents on me. I was getting three hours’ worth with hefty dabs, and it took pouring my sample vial into a small spray atomizer to change that experience. If sprayed according to my usual formula, I get four hours, which is a little light for an edp. On the other hand, longevity is often the downfall of all-natural perfumes, and there seems to be a large percentage of natural ingredients in CF. Also, it’s a very beautiful four hours.

Carnal Flower is an exercise in green and white, cold and hot: the green is the cool of herbs and leaves and grass and chilly air, and the white is the creamy sweetness of tuberose and jasmine and skin and summer light. The two sides don’t play tug-of-war, but rather curl around each other like yin and yang, two integrated halves of a whole.

Sometimes I associate a particular scent with a piece of music – for example, Apres l’Ondee is always Debussy’s “La Mer”, while Attrape-Coeur is “Nessun Dorma” – and such is the case with Carnal Flower. What I’m hearing while wearing it is Brahms’ beautiful “How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place,” from his German Requiem: a clean white light, a longing sweetness. I may find a more beautiful tuberose, but I may not. At the moment, this is the most lushly ethereal thing I’ve ever smelled.

The Bottom Line :
Quality    A Smells natural; seems coherent with good flow.
Grab-scale score    9   If not higher – I’m leaving myself a little wiggle room!
Short description    Ethereal green tuberose.
Cost       $$$
Earns compliments: Yes. Even Bookworm, who tends to dislike tuberose, calls this one “pretty.”
Scent presence      Slightly less than average (2 spritzes last 4 hours), moderate sillage. Will not get you lynched at the office.
Review Report:  Now Smell This, Bois de Jasmin, Perfume-Smellin’ Things (by Marina), Perfume-Smellin’ Things (by Donna), Aromascope.

Top image: Carnal Flower from fragrantica.  Middle image: Mexican tuberose by jelens at flickr.  Bottom image: Tuberose The Pearl by nipplerings72 at flickr.



Tuberose Series Part 3: Chloe


Categories: Chloe, Karl Lagerfeld, Perfume review, Tuberose scents

Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, vintage
(Please note that the currently-in-production scent called Chloe by Chloe is a completely different scent. Date released: 1975                     
Perfumer: IFF (Like that’s helpful. Sorry, that’s all I can find.)
Sample provenance: 1) a sample of vintage edt from friend’s bottle, 2) mini bottle parfum via ebay

Subcategory: Rich oriental-chypre base tuberose composition

Here’s our first Blast From the Past. Born when disco was hot, Chloe was quite popular for a few decades. There was a flanker, Chloe Narcisse, released in the early 1990’s, that smelled neither like original Chloe nor like narcissus, but was a fresh floral that seemed to me rather like having my back molars drilled. The original Chloe went out of production sometime before 2008, when Chloe Parfums revamped the fragrance in its entirety, from bottle to scent to esthetic. It is no longer a white floral, but a thin, hissy rose that smells as beige as the satin ribbon adorning the (admittedly pretty) bottle. I have yet to try Chloe edp Intense, which is described as a rose oriental – a category I have some fondness for – but it’s on my List. As usual, please forgive the lack of diacritical marks.

Luca Turin called the first Chloe a “big natural tuberose.” I had not smelled it for some time until digging up a sample in a swap and finding a little bottle for about $3 on ebay, but it was instantly recognizable.

Some review caveats:
1) We’re talking vintage here. Carefully kept or not, all vintage perfume is still vintage. It has, de facto, changed somewhat from the original scent. Some fragrances seem to suffer more from age or light/air exposure than others do; some may remain wearable and some may not. Some may be wearable once the degraded top notes wear off, which can take anywhere from five minutes to an hour or more. This particular scent, in both samples, seems to have survived the ravages of time fairly well. It is close to the color it should be; its top notes are fainter but have not turned unpleasant; it smells very similar to the one in my memory.

2) I wore Chloe for several years, beginning when I was about twelve and continuing through my first year of college. I liked it very much but did not love it; it was a gift. Also, it was perfume, and I wasn’t going to turn that down, whether I loved it or not. (It would have been considered wasteful of me to buy something else while my bottle was still good.) Ergo, I have a whole set of memories associated with Chloe. I’ll try to keep them out of the review. Also, one of The CEO’s old girlfriends used to wear it as well, so she’d pretty much ruined Chloe for me anyway as a personal scent. I’ll be passing this bottle on.

Well, Dr. Turin is right about Chloe being a big natural tuberose… and he was sort of wrong, in being a little too succinct in pointing out the confusion engendered by the “same name, different perfume” issue. Original Lagerfeld Chloe does contain a huge slug of tuberose, but I would not refer to it as “a tuberose”. (Sorry for the bait-and-switch there; I did say this would be a “tuberose and tuberose-dominated scents” series.)

I wanted to see how much my nose has developed, so I tested Chloe without looking up the notes. Here’s a transcription of my scribblings: “not tube soliflore, I didn’t remember it being that anyway… there is a honkin’ ton of orange blossom in this… and something lactonic – peach? But it’s not saying Mitsouko to me, so not lactonic peach. Some other lactone, it’s buttery-creamy… so maybe ylang… Jasmine too. Probably some other florals as well, this is a kitchen-sink floral thingy. Freesia? Lilac? Dunno, but it’s a fresh floral note in there with the indoles – maybe some muguet… Base reminds me of Ivoire, you see that with a lot of those 70’s florals being neither strictly chypre nor strictly oriental but very rich: sandalwood, moss, musk, vanilla. Could be other stuff in the base too…”

So then I checked with fragrantica to get the list of notes, and I’d give myself a C+ on diagnostics. I missed a bunch of things!

Notes for Chloe:
Top: aldehydes, honeysuckle, orange blossom, ylang, hyacinth, lilac, coconut, bergamot, peach
Heart: jasmine, rose, narcissus, tuberose, carnation, orris root
Base: oakmoss, sandalwood, amber, musk, cedar, benzoin

I give myself credit for the orange blossom, ylang, lilac, and peach, as well as the jasmine and two-thirds of the base. I noticed the lactone but misidentified it (coconut, how did I miss that? Actually I still don’t smell it even when resniffing and looking for it, my brain just says, Lactone!). Also, I failed to pinpoint most of the florals. How did I not get narcissus, as much as I love that note? I said vanilla instead of benzoin (which does have a vanilla-ish creaminess), and missed the cedar entirely. I would swear that the aldehydes have been damaged in both samples, so that they’re not very perceptible. Then again, someone sensitive to them might be able to pick up the note.

Armed with list of notes, I smelled it again. Again, unless I concentrate very hard, I smell mostly tuberose+orange blossom, with some lactones and one of those rich 70’s bases. It is dense and rather perfumey. The florals are well-blended, and so is the base. This is a rich formula, to be sure, and it flows smoothly from one stage to another. Sillage is a lot quieter than you’d think it would be for a composition that probably saw its share of Studio 54, and even softer in the parfum. This fits with my experience wearing it for years – I’d have hated a sillage beast, but Chloe is relatively polite.

You know what Chloe really smells like? Vintage Arpege with more tuberose, and more light coming in through the windows. But it’s certainly not light by modern standards: it was getting very, very poor reviews from horrified younger Fragrantica members who tested it because they love the new Chloe. Even among its older fans, Chloe is regarded as being dated and perfumey. That would include me: there’s no way I’d wear this now, even if I didn’t have a history with it.

The Bottom Line :
Quality            B   Clearly there are natural materials in the vintage, and it’s smooth.
Grab-scale score    3
Short description     Tuberose-heavy lactonic floral; very dated.
Cost              $
Earns compliments:   Only from The CEO, and I expect that’s because he has pleasant memories associated with it.
Scent presence:        Average (2 healthy dabs last 4-5 hours), mild to moderate sillage.
Review Report:        Member reviews at fragranticaMember reviews at basenotes. (Sorry, the report is skimpy. Nobody wears this now.)

Top image is Chloe perfume from  Middle image is Tuberose 2 by cbcastro at flickr.  Bottom image is Orange blossom by VillaRhapsody by flickr.




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Categories: Blog housecleaning, Drawing

After receiving emails from potential commenters that they couldn’t get the comment form to work, I changed the format.  Please try it and let me know how it works (by email if the comments don’t work!).  I myself am having trouble with several Google Blogger comments forms, so it may be a Google glitch.

Pitbullfriend and Mittens – if you’re still around, you’re still eligible to pick a mini bottle from my Orphans box. The updated list is at MUA and fragrantica under mals86, or you can email me to get the list. 



Dear Scent Diary, Dec. 30 – Jan. 5

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Categories: Scent Diary

Wednesday, Dec. 30: Bvlgari Black. Weather hand-chappingly cold. Black is nice. I’d never call this a Holy Grail, it probably wouldn’t make my faves list, but it’s very nice. I do love that dusty new-rubber smell. I finally got the bright idea of decanting my mini into a 5ml spray bottle, and now I’m not having any trouble with staying power. Duh.

Thursday, Dec. 31, New Year’s Eve: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Weather icky: 2 inches of snow, followed by drizzly rain. For something I sneer at frequently, for its awkward name, and for its unwillingness to simply be “pretty white flowers,” I sure wear VdF a lot, and stay happy wearing it. (Reviewed Jan. 4.)

Friday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day 2010: Jolie Madame in vintage parfum. I am embarrassed, or maybe not so, to admit that I have three tiny (3ml) bottles of vintage JM parfum, all slightly different with varying amounts of leather and florals, but all distinctively Jolie Madame. The weather is clear but bitterly cold; we’re cocooning today and watching bowl games in front of the fire. I have set some goals for myself, and Jolie Madame seemed perfect for that, to remind myself that I am both strong and beautiful.  Tested ELPC Tuberose Gardenia in the evening.

Saturday, Jan. 2: For various reasons, my proposed test of Tubereuse Criminelle did not take place. It was extra-bitterly cold today, zero degrees with the wind chill; in the afternoon I put on a drop of Rumba. I like the hot dust note that attempts to convince me I’m not cold. When I was tucking him in, Gaze the Noticer asked what perfume I was wearing. “I like that one,” he said. “It smells warm.”

Sunday, Jan. 3: Bitterly cold, sunny, windy. ELPC Tuberose Gardenia. Pretty and unpretentious; one spritz will do when you plan to be in a gathering of people. This is one of the very, very few Lauders whose base doesn’t nauseate me. (Reviewed Jan. 5.)

Monday, Jan. 4: Bitter-as-a-rejected-first-wife-cold. This is the first weekday of the month after New Year’s Day, ergo, it’s Statement Day. I spend the first weekday of every month printing, folding, and stuffing three hundred statements of account. It’s not a fun day. Testing anything with an eye to writing a review is simply not possible. I wore Alahine.

Tuesday, Jan. 5: Cold, but less so than the previous few days. Tested Carnal Flower again. I wish I’d sprung for the spray sample, but it’s good. Review pending.

Image is parfums by Gruut at flickr.



Tuberose Series Part 2: Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia


Categories: Estee Lauder, Perfume review, Tuberose scents

This one gets a lot of love, for being warm and cheerful without running people out of the room (Fracas, anyone?), and for being a mainstream release that doesn’t suck up to the trendy taste for ditzy fruity-florals.

Perfume Review: Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia eau de parfum
Date released: 2007        
Perfumer: Harry Frémont (Firmenich)
Sample provenance: manufacturer’s sample, probably from 2007, from swap

Subcategory: Gentle white floral with tuberose (and, duh, gardenia)

Since the Private Collection disappointment, the Beyond Paradise debacle and the vintage Knowing parfum tragedy, I’ve been wary of testing Estee Lauder scents. You may have been reading this blog long enough to know that I have difficulty with some note or ingredient common to the base of many Lauder fragrances. I still don’t know what it is; I’m not sure it would do me all that much good to pin it down. To sum up, I’ve found a number of Lauders really lovely for the first two hours, and then gotten sucker-punched by whatever-it-is in the base, so that I’m suddenly and extremely nauseated by this nameless, cloying Wrongness that I can’t even describe. It’s not sugary, vomitous, overtly chemical, sweaty, or overpoweringly loud, but it turns my stomach over.

So I approached ELPCTG with some trepidation. I sprayed it on a stray scrap of cotton from a sewing project, and when it got to six hours without causing me to carry the scrap out to the trashcan on the porch while cursing, I decided to try it on skin.

Notes for ELPCTG –
Top: Neroli, lilac, rosewood
Heart: Lily, tuberose, orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia
Base: Carnation, bourbon vanilla

Despite the alleged presence of a number of floral notes, PCTG is pretty much true to its name. It opens with creamy, luxuriant gardenia which lasts maybe forty-five minutes to an hour, rolling along with the tuberose, eventually fading to leave only the tuberose and a hint of lily. The white florals are soft and lovely, with a buttery, smooth texture. Heady for the first ten minutes, it does soften rather quickly to a scent polite enough to wear to church, as its sillage stays rather close to the body. I did wear it to church, and my daughter could smell the perfume from right next to me. My son, sitting on her other side, could not smell it. Four hours after my two-spritz application, there was no sillage at all, and I could only smell what was left (mostly tuberose, with a tiny hint of vanilla) by hoovering my inner arm.

A workplace test was less successful. I felt silly wearing it with black twill trousers and a pink sweater. Never mind that my sweater was fuzzy – I felt like Esther Williams, totally out of place at my desk.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a base here, and perhaps the simplicity of the base is what makes this fragrance wearable for me. Either the common Lauder base is not part of the formula, or the tuberose is enough to – like love – cover a multitude of sins.

Luca Turin is really smitten with gardenias, and this scent gets high marks in PTG. Here’s a portion of his review:
                     **** Real gardenia… gardenia is a reconstruction, and few fragrances actually achieve the flower smell that I rate as the most irresistible and impossibly pretty on earth. This beautiful creation… is one of them. The tuberose note in PCTG is very quiet, while the rest of the fragrance is an utterly lovely gardenia accord on a refined, radiant white-flowers background…

PCTG is indeed very lovely. It has a devoted following among perfume fans, and it’s a well-made, attractive scent. However, it does make me feel as though I should be wearing it with white gloves and, possibly, a pastel strapless gown. It feels like a fifties fragrance to me, very Donna Reed, and I doubt I’d wear it frequently. (And this from someone who’s happy wearing true vintage girlish fragrances like Sortilege and Je Reviens!)  I seem to be the only tuberose fan who wasn’t smitten with this one.  I admit that it could be the Curse of Lauder to my nose, although I did give it three good tests with an open mind. 

The Bottom Line :
Quality B+
Grab-scale score 5
Short description        Gardenia tuberose; pretty but feels dated.
Cost $$
Earns compliments: Yes
Scent presence Average (2 spritzes last 5-6 hours), mild sillage.
Review Report: Aromascope, Now Smell This, Bois de JasminPerfume-Smellin’ Things, Beauty Addict, Perfume Shrine

(See Tuberose Series 1 for any clarification on the Bottom Line criteria.)
Top image is the eau de parfum bottle, from The parfum bottle is far more gorgeous, with semi-precious stones.  However, I didn’t review the parfum.
Lower image is pua tuberose from victorey at flickr.



Tuberose Series Part 1: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur


Categories: Perfume review, Tom Ford, Tuberose scents

First up, a Stealth Tuberose – betcha didn’t know it was one! Unless you’ve worn it, of course, upon which the tuberose is like the face of an old friend, at an event where you never expected to see her.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur eau de toilette
Date released: 2007                        
Perfumer: David Apel
Sample provenance: my 1-oz bottle, bought on ebay from individual seller, not perfume distributor

Subcategory: Gentle white floral with tuberose

If you smelled the original Black Orchid edp, and you’re thinking that Voile de Fleur is simply the edt version, you’re mistaken. The listed notes for each only overlap a little, and the proportions are different, so that each fragrance has a different focus. BO is, well, weird – a plum-cucumber-dirt-cocoa thing, with a touch of Dior Poison and another of Youth Dew. It’s intriguing but not wearable, in my opinion. A check of the reviews on and reveals that there are very few people that liked both BO and VdF; most commenters loved one and not the other. (Some people hated both.)

Voile de Fleur shares the plum and the white flowers, and the woody base, of BO, but it has a whole different take on the matter: it’s pretty.

Here’s Tania Sanchez’ review from PTG:
           **** Fracas gardenia. A smiling, bonny tuberose halfway between Fracas and Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia, fresh and lovely with a sleepy languor, simply beautiful in all its parts.

I think she’s right on the number of stars – and right on its being primarily tuberose, a lovely natural one blended with ylang and lily – but a little optimistic on the description of the feel. I never get “sleepy languor.” I get “edgy white florals.” In fact, at times I feel a little worried that VdF is going to whip off her stiletto pump and nail me in the eye. For what? Just because.

(Digression: Ever see “Single White Female”, with Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the crazy copycat roomie? Scared me for weeks. Admittedly I have low tolerance for Scary Movies, but I like to think that’s because I have sufficient imagination to feel the effects keenly. Or I could just be a chicken, there’s that possibility.)

Here are the notes for VdF:
Black truffle, ylang-ylang, bergamot, blackcurrant, honeysuckle, gardenia, lily, plum, black pepper, lotuswood, succulent fruit, hot milk, cinnamon, vanilla tears, patchouli, sandalwood, balsam.

No mention of tuberose, did you notice? And how kind of Mr. Ford to specify that the fruit note is “succulent.” The milk’s hot, by the way… Oh, well, I suppose that the tuberose + truffle could be close to gardenia, so I’ll buy that one. And the blackcurrant and plum warranted mentioning on their own, so I’ll stop whining about Tom Ford’s I’m Way Cooler Than Thou-ness now. (Bonus: this one’s in wide distribution, and therefore very affordable. I’m regularly seeing 1oz bottles on eBay for about $20, and 1.7oz bottles at online discounters for $50.)

On my skin, though, VdF is mainly this: plum, white florals, cream, wood, and a mysterious dark thread (leather? balsam?) that winds its way through the scent like vaguely threatening kudzu tendrils. Some days I get more Dark Thread; some days I get more creamy floral pudding; other days it’s all plum followed by white flowers and no wood at all. I never know which face will present itself. I’m not the only one to get darkness out of it, either – see the reviews at PST and Aromascope in the Review Report.

Voile de Fleur has turned out to be a sleeper hit for me. It doesn’t make me swoon or eat my head; I can wear it to work, feel beautiful, and still get my tasks done. There’s enough interesting stuff going on in it besides the tuberose (plum and wood), that I don’t wind up feeling like a 50’s pinup girl with a tropical flower in my hair while trying to calculate the early-pay discount for the truck-repair shop down the street. Perfectly suitable for work. If I apply a little more heavily after dinner, The CEO enjoys snurfling my neck, and that’s pleasurable too.

The Bottom Line (see below for explanations of my eclectic judging criteria):

Quality A-
Grab-scale score 8
Short description Plum tuberose; interesting but doesn’t distract.
Cost $           * Note: this one is out of production, apparently, and unavailable at retail, although you can buy it on ebay and online discounters)
Earns Compliments? Yes
Scent presence Persistent (2 spritzes last 10-12 hours), mild to moderate sillage.
Review Report: Perfume-Smellin’ Things, Now Smell This, Aromascope, Blogdorf Goodman (brief)

(The Bottom Line criteria:
“Quality” refers to how well-made I think the fragrance is. Does it smell natural? (I freely admit that I don’t have any background in chemistry, and at times I may be totally and completely wrong.) Does it flow from one stage to another seamlessly? Are all the stages pleasant, or just the top? Do the notes have synergy and smell good together? Scored on an A-F scale.
“Grab-scale score” simply means, Does the fragrance “grab” me – please me? I’m the only person reviewing, so mine’s the only opinion that matters with this score. I don’t care if Luca Turin or Patty at Perfume Posse loves it, this one’s all about me, me, me. Also, frequently I’ll notice that some really well-made perfume just does nothing for me emotionally, and I don’t want to waste my time with stuff I don’t like.
“Short description” – self-explanatory. Lifted from PTG.
“Cost” is also lifted from PTG, and in fact, I’m using the Turin-Sanchez model for the “standard US retail price for the smallest full-size bottle of the lowest concentration in standard distribution.”  If it’s NOT available at retail price, I’ll let you know where it can be found, and for how much.  I’ll be honest, sometimes it’ll be ebay, because I like vintage. 
$ 1 – 50
$$ 51-100
$$$ 101-200
$$$$ over 201 (yeah, right, like I’m gonna review one that expensive!)
“Earns compliments?” – another self-explanatory criterion. Am I the only one who likes it?
“Scent presence” – how long does it last with my standard two spritzes (one wrist, one base of neck)? How far does it radiate? Do I smell it a lot, or do I have to snort my skin? Can other people smell me beyond my standard 3-foot radius?
“Review Report” – links to other blog reviews I found worth reading.)

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