Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Etat Libre d’Orange Noel au Balcon

I'm taking a little holiday break from daily blogging, so I thought I might run some old fragrance reviews that readers of this blog may have missed.

Notes: tangerine, honey, apricot, orange flower, chile pepper, cinnamon, patchouli, solar notes, vanilla, musk, cistus, patchouli

"Noel au Balcon" or "Christmas at the Balcony" is a festive holiday tradition, as street performances, musicians, magicians, Santa, and a Christmas parade invade the town of Deauville, France in the last week of December. But of course, perfumers Etat Libre d'Orange can't seem to let go of their puerile side. Their idea of a balcony is a woman's bosom and decolletage, so the name is just yet another cutesy play on words.

Despite that, the fragrance is a lovely spicy scent, rich and warm, and very Christmassy. I believe it's marketed as a man's fragrance but it's very unisex. Noel au Balcon opens with a very soft honeyed citrus mingled with orange blossom and lots of cinnamon. It reminds me of the cinnamon- and vanilla-scented Mexican drink, horchata, but with musk and floral tones. I find it to be quite a wonderful fragrance.

This scent was originally a French Sephora exclusive, and they would not ship to the US, but now LuckyScent carries it. Yay for LuckyScent!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chanel Coco

I'm taking a little holiday break from daily blogging, so I thought I might run some old fragrance reviews that readers of this blog may have missed.

Always a fan of Oriental-type fragrances, I fell in love with Coco the moment it was released in 1984. I knew that I needed to own this gorgeously warm and spicy fragrance for myself. The price was a bit prohibitive for a gal in her first year of college, so I satisfied myself with occasional department store spritzes and lusting from afar.

Knowing my infatuation with the scent, my younger brother bought it for me for Christmas in the early 90s, at close to the same age I was when I first experienced Coco. To him, making his sister happy was far more important than having the cash. He bought an EDT gift set which came with a tube of body creme and a large sized logo print makeup bag. I used up the fragrance part of the gift years ago, but still have the makeup bag and use it as a travel kit.

Around that time I had a gentleman friend who was a little on the snooty side. We took ballroom dance lessons together and went out most Fridays to trip the light fantastic as the youngest couple on the dance floor. We also went to museum exhibition openings on a regular basis, the occasional opera, and had dinners at his parents' club. And during this time I cloaked myself in the rich scent of Coco, almost as a disguise, so this Polish gal from a rough neighborhood could appear to be as fancy as those around her. She smelled good, even if she didn't fool anybody.

One of my Dad's gifts to me this Christmas was a gift card to Sephora, which I immediately earmarked for a bottle of Coco EDP. I knew it would be different from the EDT, but not as noticeably different as it actually is. The overall impression of the scent is the same, of course, but the mandarin and jasmine are much more obvious to me, as is the leather note in the drydown, which I didn't notice at all in the EDT. Of course it may be age and experience that leads me to detect differences. Before I started learning about notes and drydowns and all that, perfume enveloped me as a cloud of homogenized scent. Now it's a wonderland of notes, some of which I am truly surprised that I can detect.

Notes: mandarin, orange blossom, Bulgarian rose, Indian jasmine, tonka bean, sandalwood, leather, wood, vanilla.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Marry Christmas!

May all of you have a safe and happy holiday. :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

L'Artisan Parfumeur Safran Troublant

I'm taking a little holiday break from daily blogging, so I thought I might run some old fragrance reviews that readers of this blog may have missed.

Safran Troublant was one of those "love at first sniff" scents for me and I knew immediately it was "full-bottle worthy."

Notes: saffron, vanilla, sandalwood and red rose

Olivia Giacobetti has created many a wonderful scent for L’Artisan, including Tea for Two and Premier Figuier; Safran Troublant continues that tradition. The unique scent of saffron, exotic and a bit medicinal, dances with the sweet smell of red roses in what has become my favorite L’Artisan fragrance.

Safran Troublant manages to be spicy and creamy at the same time, like an Indian or Middle Eastern dessert, redolent of rosewater and other fragrant essences. Although not listed, I could swear there was some cardamom and cloves in there along with the saffron, and the vanilla gives an overall milky sweetness to the blend.

Apart from the initial burst of saffron that fades slightly in a moment or two, Safran Troublant is almost a linear fragrance in that it changes little or not at all as time goes by. On my skin, it remains a wholly delicious dreamy and exotic gourmand composition.

(Reprinted from Sniffapalooza Magazine; photomontage by the author)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Guerlain Spiritueuse Double Vanille

I'm taking a little holiday break from daily blogging, so I thought I might run some old fragrance reviews that readers of this blog may have missed.

Notes: vanilla, spices, benzoin, frankincense, cedar, pink pepper, bergamot, Bulgarian rose, ylang ylang

I’m a vanilla girl. Not personality-wise -- there I would be more pistachio. What I mean is that I love vanilla scents. The rich, overtly-vanilla ones, decadent and gourmand, as well as oriental or floral fragrances that have a warm vanillaic base. My husband likes them too, which makes me more inclined to wear them. So imagine my dismay when he proclaimed, after sniffing a ribbon spritzed with Guerlain’s new vanilla-based fragrance, Spiritueuse Double Vanille, “it smells like Play-Doh.” I had been looking forward to experiencing this new perfume more than any other during the Sniffapalooza Fall Ball. I snatched the ribbon from his hand, for I had let him smell it first, and had my turn. It didn’t smell of much at all. I was crestfallen. But somewhere at the back of my mind, I was relieved that I would not be forking over $200 to the fabulous Guerlain rep.Wanting to give it another shot, on skin, I raced out of Bergdorf’s cramped café straight to the Guerlain counter. Miraculously, I was the first to arrive, proclaiming, somewhat breathlessly, “I need to smell the Vanilla.” I was promptly spritzed. I closed my eyes, sniffed deeply, and my wallet instantly felt lighter. I waved my arm in front of my husband, who spent an uncharacteristically long time inhaling the fragrance. “Mmmm, spicy. I like it.”

Play-Doh was nowhere to be smelled. I would suggest foregoing the ribbon tester for a strip of paper, or, better yet, some nice warm skin. Although vanilla is there from the start, cedar is the most prominent opening note, woody and aromatic. It is tinged with the subtly sharp spice of pink peppercorns and a whiff of other sweeter spice notes. As the scent dries down, the vanilla becomes more pronounced, rich and deep, but somehow gentle. As the vanilla takes center stage, a rich, resiny incense forms the backdrop. The rose is barely perceptible, and the ylang doesn’t speak to me at all. All of the notes combined create a fragrance that is somewhat reminiscent of tobacco. It’s honeyed, but not overly sweet. Eventually, the vanilla takes over almost completely, with tiny traces of the incense and cedar in the depths.

I told the nice Guerlain reps that I would have to think about investing in the fragrance and would probably be back. Fifteen minutes later, my husband was toting that little rectangular shopping bag….

(Originally published in Sniffapalooza Magazine.)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Annick Goutal Les Orientalistes

I'm taking a little holiday break from daily blogging, so I thought I might run some old fragrance reviews that readers of this blog may have missed.

The appreciation of Annick Goutal fragrances has been a long time in coming for me. I'd often spritz a random bottle on a trip around the perfume counter at Nordie's and come away completely unimpressed. Then I met Petite Cherie and fell in love. Soon after, I bought a big bottle ofPassion and a bottle of Eau d'Hadrien. Grand Amour occasionally whispers, "buy me," but so far I have not succumbed to the siren song of Goutal again. Until now.

In late 2007, Annick Goutal released a set of three fragrances called "Les Orientalistes" which are quite different from their familiar collection of floral- and citrus- based scents. They are richer, darker, and warmer fragrances that are just the kind of thing that floats my boat, so I had to get my hands on some samples. Oh, my pocketbook! I fear I need to own all three of these beauties!

Ambre Fetiche: amber, frankincense, labdanum, benzoin, styrax, leather, vanilla, iris.

A rich dry amber underlined with a smoky frankincense that has a quality almost like burning rubber. The rubbery impression fades after a few minutes and is replaced with a sweetish resinous note. This scent comes on strong at first application and is borderline unpleasant, but this is one of those cases when the drydown is most certainly worth the wait. Ambre Fetiche is stunning, and I couldn't stop sniffing my wrist all evening.

Myrrh Ardente: myrrh, benzoin, vanilla, tonka, gaiac wood, beeswax

Considering that there are so many potentially sweet notes in this fragrance, it is dry and warm. I do smell the vanilla and tonka far more than the myrrh itself, yet there is no sweetness. A faint burnt rubber note that may be the beeswax ties this composition to that of Ambre Fetiche, but it is a little more tenacious. Myrrh Ardente is somehow both rich and light, grounding and ethereal. A good fragrance for contemplative times.

Encens Flamboyant: incense, pepper, rose, cardamom, nutmeg, woods

THIS is the fragrance that should be called Messe de Minuit, as it reminds me of the many Midnight Masses I attended in my Catholic youth. Encens Flamboyant is anything but flamboyant; it is subtle, a cozy and soothing scent redolent of church incense, candles, and fresh evergreen trees. It's a familiar smell of my childhood, of a time I will never recapture but that lives on in my heart.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Nest Holiday Candle

When I attended Sniffapalooza last Spring, I was able to attend the breakfast at Bergdorf Goodman. At that time, Laura Slatkin, formerly of Slatkin & Co., introduced her new line of Candles. I fell for the Holiday candle, which at that time was only available in a rather pricey set of votives. Lucky for me, I found a Holiday votive in my goody bag. Score!

I lit it for the first time while Mr Minx and I decorated the Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. With its notes of pomegranate, mandarin orange, pine, cloves, and cinnamon, it immediately made the house smell of Christmas. The pine/orange combo especially made me think of live trees (ours is artificial) and a pot of apple cider with orange cooking away on the stovetop. I loved it so much, I immediately bought a large size one for my candle-loving mother-in-law, and one for us as well.

The votive is supposed to have approximately 20 hours of burn time. We had ours going for at least 8 hours and only about 1/2" of wax is gone, so I'm thinking they can go much longer. The throw was great, but not excessive - our entire first floor smelled of pine, but not the second floor or basement. The unlit votive is currently on top of a cabinet in the dining room, and I can smell it every time I walk past.

If you like Christmassy-smelling candles, I highly recommend giving this one a try.

Friday, December 18, 2009

NINE Premiere Red Carpet

I think I wore something like Naomi Watt's outfit--peplum, gigantic shoulders and all--to a New Year's party once. In 1986.

Madonna, at age 51, is still attempting to look sexy by running around in her lingerie. Sad. Especially since her face looks so bad.

How much you wanna bet she'll look like Joan Rivers in the next 10 years? That much ugly isn't natural, that's for sure. In this day and age, there's no reason for a woman to look her age. With as much plastic surgery as Madge has had, she looks oh, 52, tops.

Franzisca Rothman (With Chopard honcho Mark Hruschka) looks to be another victim of 80s-style dress, this time in tacky gold. People - stylists are your friends. If you have the money but not the taste, please hire one!

Nicole Kidman apparently had a makeup malfunction this evening, with too much visible powder under her eyes, but at least she didn't get any of it on her black dress. I think she looks great, especially without her unwashed-looking husband hanging off of her.

Does anyone have any taste anymore? Seriously.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Hair Today

What's up with Kevin Costner's hair? Is he starting to turn into The Donald?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Versace Pre-Fall 2010

This Versace collection is clearly influenced by quirky Japanese youth. And as short and tight as the pieces are, that's about all who can wear it. But you know some old-fart aged socialite is going to try to squeeze her sagging ass into this stuff. Or Madonna.

I think it's all rather かわいい。I especially love the palette.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Carolina Herrera Pre-Fall 2010

"I wanted everything light as a feather," Carolina Herrera said about pre-fall. The primary colors palette of the collection was taken from a 1920's print of dancers, which she uses in the first look, below, as well as a floor-length gown. She also favored a lot of tweed.

Love the dress, hate the black tights which weigh the look down.

The floral motif on the sweater is too Eastern European embroidery-motif for me.

The red sash makes me want to wear this to a really luxurious holiday party. Not that I've been invited to any.

Any at all, actually....

Hate this look. From here, the pattern looks like quilting, as if the gown were made from a sleeping bag.

This one looks as if it would unravel at any minute, but it's quite striking nonetheless.

Excuse Me, But You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth

Check out this cute promo video for a natural cosmetics firm:

Monday, December 14, 2009

America the Beautiful

America is obsessed with beauty and models are too skinny - two truths we have known for years now. America the Beautiful is a documentary on the subject. It looks good - would you watch it?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Find Your Doppelgänger

Ever wondered if someone out there looks just like you? Well, if Coke Zero has Coke’s taste, then maybe someone out there has your face. You now have the chance to find out with Coke Zero’s Facial Profiler, which uses next gen facial recognition technology to search for people whose faces most closely resemble your own.

Using the industry’s most advanced facial profiling software, Facial Profiler will match you against the vast database of faces collected by Coke Zero (there are already over 105,000) to find your look-a-likes. Results will be delivered soon after, and you can then discover the details about your doppelgangers based on the privacy settings for their Facebook profiles. Also, there is a fun feature called the “Match Bank,” where users will be able to rate which matches they think are the best. By combining human feedback into the Facial Profiler equation, this will help improve the accuracy of future matches.

Here's one of my matches.

Pretty creepy, eh? Try it for yourself!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Prada L'Eau Ambrée

Since last Christmas, I've had a gift card for Nordstrom. Believe it or not, it was not burning a hole in my pocket. But when I sniffed a magazine strip sample of the new Prada L'Eau Ambrée, I knew what I'd be using it for. The gift set at left contains a 1.7 oz EDP, a same-size body lotion, and a .2 oz mini. At $76, it's a whole $2 more than a bottle of the EDP alone. Score!

I wasn't particularly taken with the original Prada, nor with the Infusion d'Iris, so I didn't expect to love this latest fragrance. It opens with a bit of citrus and something that reminds me a lot of how Must de Cartier used to smell. That fades quickly and I notice a spiky bit of patchouli poking out of a light ambery soup. It's not a powdery amber, nor is it what I think of as a "olive-y" amber (a la Ambre Sultan), but it is a little sweet and somewhat spicy.

At this point in time, the scent isn't particularly interesting or exciting, but wait for the drydown - then it becomes a lovely soft woodsy fragrance with an almost-gourmand bit of vanilla. Mmmm...my kind of scent!

Notes: bergamot, mandarine, lemon, iris, violet, May rose, gardenia jasminoides, patchouli, tonka, opoponax, vanilla, modern amber, heliotrope, benzoin

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Grinchin' It Up

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Why are people so ugly and stupid?

Friday, December 4, 2009


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After seeing a gal get her thick dreadlocks cut off during an episode of What Not to Wear and noting the quantity of dandruff and detritus in it, I can only imagine the horrors that live in this huge mess.

Bond No. 9 New Orleans

Bond No. 9 is once again wandering away from New York by creating a scent for the city of New Orleans. Saks New Orleans is a "rich, gourmand oriental scent with hints of vanilla, black currant and cinnamon."

The signature "superstar" flacon this time is in matte black with a Swarovski crystal fleur de lis and costs a cool $325. It will be sold exclusively at Saks Fifth Avenue in New Orleans.

Notes: tuberose, violet leaf, cassis, vanilla, black currant, lily of the valley, bergamot, mandarine, cinnamon, patchouli, amber, sandalwood

(The Bond rep said "The Bond No. 9 New Orleans fragrance is a custom blend created from current Bond No. 9 fragrances." I am assuming she means a mash-up of other Bond frags. With it's notes of violet leaf, cassis, and cinnamon, I'm betting one of them is Bleecker Street. I asked for clarification of her statement, but have so far received no follow-up.)

Thursday, December 3, 2009



Poker Face

The *best* version of the Lady CaCa hit....

Boucheron Christmas Follies

The Boucheron Web site offers holiday e-greetings with cute cards to send to all you friends. For every 10 cards sent, Boucheron will donate 1€ to SOS Village d'Enfants, an organization that provides a family-style environment to children who have lost their parents or can no longer live with them.

So go send some holiday cheer and help kids in the process.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The End of Christian Lacroix

On Tuesday, a French court ruled to shut down the legendary Christian Lacroix haute couture and ready-to-wear lines. Talks are still on-going with potential buyers, however, and it's possible that the lines could be licensed out to a third party at a future date. If not, then it's a sad day for the world of fashion.

Looks from the Lacroix Spring 2009 Couture collection:

Looks from Fall 2009 Couture:


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